Iran’s Defense Ministry exports liquid and solid products

MENA Business Reports
June 28, 2004

IRAN’S DEFENSE MINISTRY EXPORTS LIQUID AND SOLID PRODUCTS

Iran’s Defense Ministry exported liquid and solid cooking oil, and
soap to Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Armenia in the first quarter of
the current Iranian Year (started March, 20 ). The goods were
produced in the ministry s affiliated-organization “Etka”. The
exports amounted to about $ 135,000.

According to IRNA, the Defense Ministry also exported $ 1.537 million
of similar goods to western Europe, Central Asia and Caucuses and
Afghanistan last year.

Iran’s Customs Administration reported last month that non-oil
exports including carry-on luggage and border market trade exceeded $
5.708 billion in the first 11 months of the last Iranian year
(started March 21, 2003.) It added the figure was 25.6 percent higher
compared to the same period last year. (menareport.com)

South Ossetia blocks buses with Georgian passengers

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
June 28, 2004 Monday 6:33 AM Eastern Time

South Ossetia blocks buses with Georgian passengers

By Eka Mekhuzla

TBILISI, June 28

Police of South Ossetia, Georgia’s enclave, has stopped six passenger
that were en route from different cities of Russia to the Georgian
capital Tbilisi.

More that 150 Georgian passengers, including 40 children, have
entered South Ossetia’s Dzhavsky district from Russia through the
Roksky tunnel, and have been stranded for about 24 hours, a spokesman
at the office of the Georgian state minister for conflict settlement
told Itar-Tass on Monday.

Several passengers managed to make telephone calls to Tbilisi, saying
that they were running out of food.

They said South Ossetian authorities demanded that Georgia release
two trucks with fuel cargoes that Georgian police seized last week as
contraband.

South Ossetian Interior Minister Robert Guliyev has confirmed the
fact of blocking the busses at a migration control post.

“The ban on the traffic of the private passenger and cargo transport
has been introduced for the time until Georgia lifts the economic
blockade of South Ossetia and returns the trucks confiscated from our
citizens,” Guliyev told Itar-Tass by phone from Tskhinvali.

He added that “this measure applies only to those who live in
Georgia; Russians Azerbaijanis, Armenians and citizens of other
countries can calmly travel in transit through the territory of South
Ossetia”.

Today’s the day that Armenians celebrate

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
June 27, 2004 Sunday ZONED EDITION

Today’s the day that Armenians celebrate;
Food and community are focus of annual picnic

by SHEILA B. LALWANI [email protected]

Members of the area’s Armenian community will gather today at Johnson
Park in Caledonia to celebrate the largest and biggest event for the
ethnic group.

Through the annual Armenian Picnic — admission is free — members of
the community hope to raise money for their church, St. Hagop
Apostolic Church in Racine. Members hope to raise $10,000, about a
quarter of the church’s budget.

The daylong event will feature ethnic dishes from Armenia including
marinated shish kebab and chicken dinners, stuffed grape leaves,
cheese puffs and butter cookies.

Dinners are priced between $6 and $8. Vegetarian options are
available.

For the last several weeks, members of the church have been buying
ingredients and baking together to prepare for the festival.

“All the members of the church are all working together to make a
success of this picnic,” volunteer Julie Dergarabedian said. “We
start baking in early May and go to June to prepare all the foods.
It’s all prepared ahead of time.”

Perhaps the dish that takes the most time is sarma, or stuffed grape
leaves. Members of the church spent much of Friday rolling grape
leaves that they picked shortly after Memorial Day. Even though grape
leaves are getting harder and harder to find locally, members
collected enough.

Throughout Friday, women sat in the church stuffing the length of the
grape leaves with a mixture made up of 40 pounds of rice and herbs.
They then cooked the dish. The appetizer is eaten cold.

They expect to sell as much as $5,000 worth of the appetizer, which
costs 50 cents apiece.

“It’s wonderful,” said Sara Micaelian, who helped lead the group.
“It’s back-breaking work, but everyone is chattering away.”

The festival is a day to celebrate their heritage and ethnic
identity, said Zohrab Khaligian, who has been helping plan the event.

“When two Armenians come together, they will start their own
Armenia,” he said. “That’s what we have done.”

The focal point of the picnic will be a blessing, in which members of
the community gather to pray. Armenia, which is in central Asia, has
been influenced by neighbors from the Middle East and Europe. With a
small community in the United States, Khaligian said, maintaining
their identity and passing it on to their children has become all the
more essential.

“The church is not just a church,” Khaligian said. “It’s also our
community center. It’s the source to maintain our religion and
language. Being politically active and socially aware is also
necessary. The church provides spiritual guidance. It also provides
us with a meeting place.”

The church also offers Sunday school and language classes.

“It’s important for young people to see their culture and heritage,”
Dergarabedian said. “The blessing we do at the church ground and the
incense and the beautiful songs that are sung — it’s like a blessing
of the universe. We are blessing the world and thanking God for his
blessing.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Limelight shines on pianist, Utah

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
June 27, 2004 Sunday

Limelight shines on pianist, Utah

by Rebecca C. Howard Deseret Morning News

It was the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition that
initially brought Karen Hakobyan to Salt Lake City. And it was the
University of Utah that kept him here.

But now, it’s the 18-year-old college student who is bringing
recognition to the Beehive State.

Recent winner of the 2004 ASCAP (American Society of Composers,
Authors and Publishers) Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer
Competition, and invited artist in the 2005 Lille International Piano
Festival, Hakobyan has distinguished himself as both a composer and a
performer in the international music world.

But for now, he is with us.

The Armenian-born musician was 5 when his father first bought a
piano. “My sister is five years older than me,” he recalled, “and she
started to play the piano. Every time she would finish playing, I
would go up to the piano and perform the same thing that she had been
practicing without even having any knowledge of music. So my parents
decided I should start taking lessons.”

He was only 6 when his parents enrolled him in the Tchaikovsky
Special Music School in Yerevan, Armenia, and 13 when he wrote his
first symphony for a full-size orchestra.

“After I finished this symphony, I was commissioned to write my
second symphony by a very big festival. It’s called the Young
Euro-Classic International Festival up in Berlin, and they asked me
to compose the second symphony, which was performed in 2001. So I
finished it at the age of 15.”

It was this second symphony that eventually won the ASCAP award, as
well as the Robertson Scholarship in Composition at the University of
Utah.

While all of this was going on, Hakobyan was also busy performing
with different orchestras and entering competitions. “In fact, one of
the biggest accomplishments around then was the Armenian Legacy
Pianists International Piano Competition,” he said.

It was right after that competition that he heard about the Gina
Bachauer competition and decided to enter.

As a 16-year-old, he entered the Young Artists division in 2001.
While he was here, he gave a solo recital at the University of Utah,
where he was “discovered” by some of the faculty. After being offered
a scholarship, he decided to enroll that fall while still only 16.

Now a junior with a double major in piano performance and music
composition, Hakobyan says that the U. has been a great place for
him. “I’ve had very great positive experience here, and I’ve enjoyed
my teachers very much,” he said, acknowledging both his piano
instructor, Susan Duehlmeier, and the several composition faculty
members with whom he has studied.

In fact, it was while giving a solo recital at the U. that he was
again discovered, this time by maestro Jean-Claude Casadesus, who
invited him to be one of about 10 pianists in the 2005 Lille piano
festival. “We each get to perform one concerto with the orchestra and
also one solo recital,” he said. “It’s just a very exciting event,
and it’s something I’m very much looking forward to.”

Since entering the U., Hakobyan has taken first prize in a number of
competitions — including the Pinault International
Audiotape/Videotape Piano Competition, which resulted in a debut
recital at Carnegie Hall. “(It) was very well received by the press
and also the musicians there,” Hakobyan said of the performance.

He added that the ASCAP award is also a significant achievement
because it’s one of the biggest competitions in the United States for
composition. He said they had a record number of people enter this
year — about 500– with his age division reaching up to 32 years
old.

“I would say it’s quite a nice achievement and it’s nice to be
recognized by the ASCAP competition,” he said. One of the most
valuable outcomes of the competition, he added, is the recognition
and potential for future commissions.

“Many musicians, many conductors and chamber musicians contact you
later on for performances for new pieces or commissioning new
pieces,” he said, “so it’s just a very nice opportunity.”

Already, he said, he has been contacted by several people interested
in seeing his work.

In the meantime, he’s hoping to complete a piano concerto that he’s
writing for himself and a work for string orchestra. E-mail:
[email protected]

Book Review: ‘The Last Day’ subtle and elegant

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
June 27, 2004 Sunday

‘The Last Day’ subtle and elegant

by Susan Whitney

THE LAST DAY OF THE WAR, by Judith Claire Mitchell; Pantheon Books;
366 pages; $24.95.

She’s Jewish. He’s Armenian-American-Christian. They meet by chance
and spend a half an hour together in a library in St. Louis, where he
is supposed to receive a bag full of guns to be used for an
assassination.

She finds the bag by mistake. She makes him explain himself before
she will give him the guns.

Then he’s off to France, guns in hand, forgetting all about her. He’s
a soldier, and he has not only war but revenge on his mind. She,
however, cannot forget him.

“The Last Day of the War” is magnificent historical fiction. In this,
her first book, Judith Claire Mitchell has not only re-created 1918,
she gives the reader intriguing characters. She also gives us a
beautifully nuanced love story.

Mitchell’s Jewish character, Yael, is not a perfect human being. (In
the opening paragraph, for example, she is stealing a dress.) Still,
she is so lively and so brave that the reader comes to care about her
and, through her we see how unfairly Jews were treated in the United
States in the early days of the century.

We not only see the wrong, we feel deeply sad about the lies people
felt forced to tell.

It seems that Yael’s parents named her Yael because it was a family
name. Mitchell doesn’t beat us over the head with this or any other
social issue — but when Yael changes the spelling of her name and
begins to hide the truth of who she is, the reader feels the loss
that Yael, herself, doesn’t feel.

On the other hand, Dub, the soldier in the U.S. Army, is trying to
carry on the values of a culture he can barely remember. His plight
is complicated, satisfyingly complicated. His best friend is jealous
of Dub’s place in an Armenian revenge organization. Dub finds his
best friend annoying, but he sticks by him.

Because Dub is a good and loyal man, he has become engaged to a young
woman who has only recently emigrated. His fiancZe was a child in
Armenia, while Dub was a child in America. She witnessed the murder
of her people, including the murder of her sister. She will never be
whole. Dub wants to protect her.

Underlying this novel are two events of immense importance, one of
which has been pretty much overlooked in modern-day history classes.
It is this: In 1915, in Armenia, the Turks killed about 1 million
Christians. Women were raped and forced to bear children to
repopulate the country with Turkish offspring.

Then, in 1919, in France, the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Turkey
promised to punish the leaders responsible for the massacres in
Armenia — but never did.

Subtly and elegantly, Mitchell lays out the plot of her novel. It
rests on these two pieces of history, on the Armenian atrocities and
the end of the first World War. Along the way, Mitchell forecasts a
future for both Dub and Yael. (Will it include each other? The reader
has no idea and really doesn’t know if they are right for each other
anyway.)

Mitchell also forecasts a future for the world. In her end notes, she
includes a timetable so that the reader can understand the truth of
the fiction she has written. She describes what really happened after
1915 between the Turkish leaders and the Armenian avengers.

Mitchell’s timetable ends like this:

August 1939: The night before the invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler
assures his generals that the world will not long object should they
treat the Polish citizenry brutally. “After all,” Hitler says, “who
today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

1944: The United Nations coins and defines the word genocide. E-mail: [email protected]

ARKA News Agency – 06/25/2004

ARKA News Agency
June 28 2004

The Iranian Ambassador to Armenia: Iran considers Armenia as a
long-term partner

The Armenian delegation at the head of RA NA Speaker Arthur
Baghdasaryan to leave for Bulgaria on June 29

Tigran Levonyan, famous opera singer, died in Armenia

*********************************************************************

THE IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO ARMENIA: IRAN CONSIDERS ARMENIA AS A
LONG-TERM PARTNER

YEREVAN, June 28. /ARKA/. RA President Robert Kocharian received the
Iranian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Armenia
Mohammad Farhad Koleini, who finished his diplomatic mission in the
republic. According to RA President’s Press Service Department,
Kocharian noted that Armenian-Iranian relations became more practical
and the stage of the implementation of big programs began during the
period Koleini was an Ambassador to Armenia.
In his turn Koleini expressed his satisfaction with the assistance to
him when he was an Ambassador, noting that Iran considers Armenia as
a long-term partner, and added that the turning stage in bilateral
relations became the visit of Kocharian to Iran in 2001.
In the course of the meeting the parties also discussed the details
of the visit of the President of Iran Mohammad Khatami to Armenia in
September. A.H. –0–

*********************************************************************

THE ARMENIAN DELEGATION AT THE HEAD OF RA NA SPEAKER ARTHUR
BAGHDASARYAN TO LEAVE FOR BULGARIA ON JUNE 29

YEREVAN, June 28. /ARKA/. The Armenian delegation at the head of RA
NA Speaker Arthur Baghdasaryan on June 29 will leave for Bulgaria by
the invitation of Bulgarian parliament Speaker Ognian Gerdjikov.
According to RA NA Press Service Department, Baghdasaryan will have
meetings with the President of Bulgaria Georgy Prvanov, Prime
Minister Semen Sakskoburgtovski (Semen Saksen-Koburg-Got),
Vice-Speaker of Bulagarian NA, the head of Bulgarian Parliament
delegation to PACE Yunal Lutfi, the Chairman of Parliamentary
commission on external politics, defense and security Venko
Alexandrov. In the frames of the visit the Armenian delegation will
visit also Plovdiv, where an agreement on co-operation between
Plovdiv Gyumri (Shirak region of Armenia) will be signed. A.H. –0 –

*********************************************************************

TIGRAN LEVONYAN, FAMOUS OPERA SINGER, DIED IN ARMENIA

YEREVAN, June 28. /ARKA/. RA Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan sent
his condolences in regard with the decease of RA Public Actor, the
State Prize Laureate, popular Armenian opera singer Tigran Levonyan,
according to RA Government Press Service and public Relations
Department.
On June 25 at the age of 68 years old after long lasting illness
Tigran Levonyan, an honored artist, Armenian public actor, the State
Prize Laureate, professor of Yerevan Conservatory, and the spouse of
a famous Armenian opera singer Gohar Gasparyan died.
T. Levonyan was born in 1936 in Beirut. In 1990 – 1999 he occupied the
position of the Art Director of Yerevan state theatre of opera and
ballet after Spendiarian. Under his supervision `Arshak II’ and
`Karine’ by Chikhadgian, `Anush’ by Tigranian, `Buffoons’ by
Leonkavallo, `Otelo’ by Verdi, `Poliutto’ by Donicetti were played in
a new way. A.H.–0–

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

New Armenian economic plan targets poverty

Eurasianet Organization
June 28 2004

NEW ARMENIAN ECONOMIC PLAN TARGETS POVERTY
Haroutiun Khachatrian: 6/28/04

As Armenia’s economy continues to post record growth, the government
has announced an ambitious campaign to tackle the poverty that has
marred living conditions in the country since the collapse of the
Soviet Union. The government’s change in tactics comes as the
opposition continues to campaign for the removal of President Robert
Kocharian from office.

For the past few years, Armenia has had one of the best performing
economies in the former Soviet Union. Annual economic growth has
averaged over 10 percent. Price liberalization and privatization
programs and the accession of Armenia to the World Trade Organization
in 2003 have all contributed to the surge. Foreign direct investment
has increased by 74.5 percent since 2003, according to the National
Statistics Service, with much of that coming from the far-flung
Armenian Diaspora. Last year, the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development cited Armenia as the most likely candidate among the
former Soviet Union for accession to the European Union.

But while Armenia’s economic reform program has won raves from
international finance institutions, the benefits have not been
equally shared. Nearly half of Armenia’s population of roughly 3.2
million people lives beneath the poverty line. A slight increase in
unemployment in 2003 gave Armenia a 10.1 percent jobless rate,
according to government data, and annual per capita income is less
than $600. Only half of Yerevan’s residents have running water 24
hours per day, and electricity and phone service are sporadic at
best. Outside the Armenian capital, infrastructure has crumbled still
further since Soviet times with barely functional roads, derelict
schools and a battered health care system.

“The government has a good national perspective. But they seem to
have problems persuading outsiders that the same kind of reforms are
needed outside Yerevan,” said the International Monetary Fund’s
Armenia representative, James McHugh.

With the announcement that the World Bank, Armenia’s largest
creditor, will focus its future assistance to the country on poverty
reduction efforts, that scenario could be set to change. The Bank is
expected to extend $250 million for work on rural schools, roads and
irrigation by November 2004, Finance and Economy Minister Vartan
Khachatrian told journalists earlier this month. The funds come on
top of an additional $35 million in Bank funds for support of
Armenia’s public utilities, agricultural sector and civil service.

Announcing the program, Kahchatrian declared that the structural
reforms necessitated by Armenia’s transition to a free market economy
were “almost complete,” prompting the government to focus instead on
a 12-year plan for slashing poverty levels. Since 1993, Armenia has
received more than $1 billion in loans from international financial
institutions and foreign governments for currency stabilization,
privatization, earthquake reconstruction projects and support for
such high-priority economic sectors as energy, agriculture and
transportation.

The government also hopes to secure additional funds from the US
Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program for rural revitalization
schemes similar to those targeted by the World Bank. Prime Minister
Andranik Markarian told reporters on June 16 that Armenia would
present a series of proposed projects ranging from school
construction to repair of irrigation networks and roads to the MCA
for approval by the end of July. Under the MCA financing rules,
participant countries must do their own evaluations of funding needs
and detail how they would spend any received aid. Armenian government
estimates for funds to be requested have ranged from $500 million to
$700 million, with some $100 million expected for 2004. Approval for
the funds is subject to MCA countries’ progress on democratic reform
and defense of human rights.

Securing these funds could prove increasingly important for President
Robert Kocharian’s government if Armenia’s political opposition gains
broader popular support. A harsh government crackdown in mid-April on
street protests in Yerevan that called for Kocharian’s resignation
has slashed attendance at the rallies, but the opposition shows
little sign of giving up its struggle. On June 21, Viktor Dallakian,
a leader of the opposition alliance Artarutiun, told RFE/RL that the
group was considering a national petition drive for Kocharian’s
removal from office.

While the government in Yerevan has displayed little consternation at
such threats, it is quick to point out the economic successes of its
reform programs to international organizations as a counter-balance
to criticism of its human rights record.

Government forecasts put expected annual GDP growth for 2005 – 2007
at 6-7 percent. That is a significant slow-down from 2003, when
Armenia’s economy grew by 13.9 percent, but still higher than
Armenia’s neighbor – and growing competitor for international
assistance – Georgia, which registered only 5 percent economic growth
in 2003. Reflecting the slower growth rate, inflation is expected to
hold steady at around 3 percent, according to government figures.

But some representatives of international finance organizations
caution that economic reforms in Armenia are far from complete. Among
the tasks targeted by the International Monetary Fund is an overhaul
of the tax system, including the elimination of so-called presumptive
taxes, which target mostly cash-based businesses, such as consumer
services, and do not reflect the actual income of the taxpayer. “Of
course, we do not expect that due to this program Armenia will become
a really European economy with a modern tax system,” said the IMF’s
Armenia representative James McHugh, “but we are confident that it
will take a major step in the direction of eliminating ad hoc taxes.”

For now, political discussions on Armenia’s economic reform strategy
are largely limited to the government’s policy statements. The
opposition has focused on removing Robert Kocharian from office
rather than arguing for an alternative economic reform plan. Hrant
Bagratian, the former prime minister largely credited with
jumpstarting Armenia’s economic reform process in the 1990s, is among
the few people criticizing the government’s poverty reduction vision.
In a June 16 interview with the daily/weekly Noyan Tapan, Bagratian
termed premature Khachatrian’s statement that structural economic
reforms are now complete. Instead, Bagratian targeted the national
pension system, judicial system and the management of state-run
companies as among the areas still left untouched by reform.

Meanwhile, despite glowing marks for Armenia’s economic reform
programs, the country’s search for international assistance is facing
increased competition from neighbor Georgia, where an ambitious
anti-corruption campaign recently brought in $1 billion from
international donors, including the European Union. In a June 15
article, EU officials told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that,
despite Armenia’s inclusion in a program designed to bolster regional
trade ties, the country’s attractiveness for additional aid programs
has been marred by its ongoing dispute with Azerbaijan over the
disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Editor’s Note: Haroutiun Khachatrian is a Yerevan-based writer
specializing in economic and political affairs.

AF Fund Raises $79K At LA Reception

Armenia Fund Raises more than $79,000 during a reception in LA
-Five projects adopted in different regions of Armenia and Artsakh-

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE
June 28, 2004
CONTACT: Sarkis Kotanjian
Phone: 818 243-6222
Fax: 818 243-7222
E-mail: [email protected]

Glendale, CA – Armenia Fund, Inc. (AFI) is proud to announce that
$79,000 was raised during an event that took place in Los Angeles on
June 17, 2004. The event announced the launching of a new Armenia
Fund initiative called “Adopt a Project in Armenia” The event was also
organized to honor about 120 generous supporters and friends of
Armenia Fund at the residence of the Fund’s Chairperson, Maria
Mehranian. In her opening remarks, Mehranian welcomed the guests and
thanked them for their unrelenting support of Armenia Fund’s projects
in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. “These are projects that are going
to make a difference in the lives of residents of Armenia and Karabagh
for many years to come. In her address to the guests she added “You
come together every time to give whatever you got, and to do whatever
it takes. I thank you for your continuous support of Armenia and
Artsakh.” The Executive Director of All-Armenian “Hayastan” Fund,
Naira Melkoumian was present at the reception and briefed the donors
on the results of the meeting of the Board of Trustees that took place
in Yerevan in May of this year, reported on the progress of the
construction of the North-South Highway in Nagorno Karabakh and
presented the upcoming programs of the Fund. “Armenia is not only our
homeland but also our common heritage that we have received from our
forefathers. It belongs to all of us – the people who live in Armenia
and the people who live in the Diaspora. It is our common duty to
make it strong and prosperous. Hayastan Fund is the organization that
unites our resources to fulfill that duty,” she added.

The executive office of Armenia Fund then unveiled the new
“Adopt-A-Project” campaign in visual presentation showcasing nine
chosen projects in different regions of Armenia and Artsakh that are
available for sponsorship. Four out of nine projects were adopted on
the spot – water distribution systems in Artsakh’s Nor Gharachinar and
Armenia’s Medovka villages, as well as schools reconstruction projects
in Armenia’s Hagvu, Gandzakar and Karbi villages with a total cost of
$79,000. Also two projects with a total cost of $331,000 are in the
process of being adopted.

Armenia Fund, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation
and is the U.S. West Coast affiliate of Hayastan All-Armenia Fund –
the largest Yerevan-based benevolent organization in Armenia. With is
affiliates in sixteen countries around the world, Hayastan
All-Armenian Fund has raised more than $100 million resulting in the
construction of 210 residential buildings, 138 miles of roads, 81
miles of waterways, 36 schools, 14 health care centers and three
electric transmission networks.

###

Background Briefing by a Senior Admin Official On Bush’s Trip

Background Briefing by a Senior Administration Official On President
Bush’s Trip to Turkey

Conrad Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

WASHINGTON, June 27 /PRNewswire/ —

7:10 P.M. (Local)

MR. McCLELLAN: We’ve got a background briefing here with a senior
administration official, who will walk you through some of the
meetings earlier today, as well as give you a look ahead to the NATO
summit. And with that, I will turn it over to our senior
administration official.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Good evening, everyone. I’ll walk
through the meetings in Ankara today, and a couple in Istanbul this
afternoon. And then I’ll give you a preview of the events tomorrow. I
may be joined by another colleague a little bit later who can give
more detail about the NATO meetings.

The President today saw Prime Minister Erdogan and President Sezer of
Turkey. These were two separate meetings, followed by a lunch in
which President Sezer and Prime Minister Erdogan were both present.

He then — we then arrived in Istanbul, where the President met with a
group of Turkish religious leaders, both the Turkish government head
of the — basically, the minister for religious affairs, an Istanbul
Islamic cleric, the senior rabbi of Istanbul, the head of the Syriac,
head of the Armenian churches, and of course, most — of great
importance, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is first among
equals among Eastern Orthodox churches in the world.

That was followed by a meeting between the President and NATO
Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer, which is the first of the
President’s NATO events.

I’d like to characterize a little bit the discussions with the Turks
today. These were very good meetings. They were held against the
background of the very intense period we went through with Turkey,
starting in late 1992, and of course, you all remember the issue of
Iraq which came up. There was a Turkish vote not to allow U.S. troops
to pass through Turkey. Later there was a vote in the Parliament, in
the Turkish Parliament, to offer Turkish troops for Iraq, but by that
time the Iraqi Governing Council was not interested in having Turkish
troops there. So there were, in the end, no Turkish troops. There
was a lot of back-and-forth between the United States and Turkey in
the past.

These meetings today made clear that whatever the differences U.S.
and Turkish governments had over Iraq, from this point forward — and
both the Turkish President and the Turkish Prime Minister in their
meetings made this clear — from this moment forward, Turkey sees its
interests and the American interests in Iraq as parallel and
consistent. That is, the Turks made clear that they want a stable,
successful Iraq, at peace with itself, at peace with its neighbors, an
Iraq that is democratizing, an Iraq that respects minorities. Turks
made this clear.

The Turks — of course, the Turks and the Turkish leaders and the
President discussed issues such as the territorial integrity of Iraq.
And the President made clear that this is something of critical
importance to the United States.

They discussed Kurdish issues. The Turks made clear their concern
about PKK activities — PKK is, as you know, a terrorist organization
which has operated against Turks for a number of years. There are PKK
— PKK does operate out of Iraq, and we made it clear that we consider
the PKK a terrorist organization, and want to work with Turkey to
eliminate the threat of terrorism and the danger to Turkey that it
represents.

The leaders also talked about Cyprus, and the President expressed his
thanks to Turkey for its extraordinarily constructive and creative
attitude, which almost — which brought us closer to a Cyprus
settlement than we have been in the 40 — in the 30 years since the
division of the island in 1974. This was a very near thing. The
U.N. came up with a very good plan that Kofi Annan managed. Turkey
and the Turkish Cypriot community supported it. The Greek Cypriot
community did not. But Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots did a lot to
advance this process. The President expressed both his determination
to work with all the parties to try to achieve a settlement on the
basis of the Annan plan, but also expressed his real gratitude to
Turkey for what it had done and made clear that, in accordance with
the U.N. recommendations, that Turkish Cypriots no longer be subject
to isolation, that they have really done what the world asked — what
the international community, what the world asked of them, and this
needs to be recognized.

The leaders also talked about the broader Middle East, and of course
Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan had gone to Sea Island, to weigh in in
support of this initiative. Turkey is a secular democracy with a
majority Muslim population, and a history of tolerance. It is a
successful democracy. It is rapidly reforming itself to meet the
standards for EU accession. And in this way, although it is not,
strictly speaking, a model for countries of the broader Middle East,
it is certainly an example of what secular democracy — how secular
democracy can flourish. And it is an example of the compatibility of
Islam and democracy, which was the title of a conference a few months
ago in this city. So they discussed their common vision of the need
to support reform and reformers in the broader Middle East.

I’ll say a word about the President’s meeting with religious leaders,
but I must start with a confession. Due to motorcade issues, some of
us were enjoying a wonderful tour of historic Istanbul rather than
actually making it to the meeting. So I can tell you about the
thinking leading up to the meeting, but other than a brief
characterization that it went, “very well,” I can’t say much more
about it.

The purpose of the meeting was to point out that in a society — in a
secular but majority Muslim society like Turkey’s, it’s important to
recognize the contribution of minority groups and minority religions,
and to recognize that these people are a constituent part of — very
much of this city for centuries, and a couple of millennia, in some
cases, and that this is a part of the tolerant future which we all
seek.

It was a very — I asked how the meeting went; I was told very well. I
don’t want to describe a meeting that I was not — that I neither
attended, nor have great details about. The President’s meeting with
Yaap de Hoop Scheffer was a terrific meeting, and I should say,
characterizing events of tomorrow, that we are closing rapidly on a
number of real strong deliverables and achievements for NATO, both
long-range and short-range. And I think that colored the atmosphere of
the meeting.

One more point about Turkey. I should mention that the President, of
course, expressed his sympathies over the fate of the three Turkish
workers that have been kidnapped and threatened with death. The
President made clear that this episode demonstrates the kind of an
enemy we are fighting, a totalitarian enemy which terrorizes and seeks
to export chaos to the world, as well as chaos in Iraq. This is a
terrible situation. There have been others like it. And the
President said that it is important that the international community
unite and defeat these groups and these people.

Q Is that a direct quote from him?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that is not a direct quote. That
is my miserable paraphrase.

Q That was in the meeting with —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is the meeting — this came up in
the meeting with Sezer, and I believe — I recall with Erdogan, as
well.

Now, tomorrow, again —

Q — do you have any kind of quote for that — terrible situation
wasn’t a direct —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that was — I’m not giving you a
direct quote.

Now, tomorrow. You may have the good fortune — we may have the good
fortune to be joined by another senior administration official who is
even more well-versed than I in the details of what will happen
tomorrow, but in his absence, let me go through a few of the items
that you may want to look for.

We are very likely to have an agreement on a training mission in Iraq.
I suspect that there will be three parts to the decision on Iraq, and
three things for you to look for. One is a NATO statement on Iraq, a
separate NATO statement. That statement, if it is agreed — and
again, in NATO, it isn’t done until it’s done, believe me — if that
statement is agreed, it will contain a positive answer to the request
from Prime Minister Allawi for training, and it is possible that it
will contain a second mandate for NATO to study possible further steps
in support of Iraqi security. But again, look for the statement
tomorrow and look for the wording on both of those things.

NATO is also likely to agree about ISAF expansion. It is very likely
we will have the commitments necessary for the first stage of ISAF
expansion beyond Kabul. Look also for an Istanbul declaration which
in lieu of a communique. There will be a communique, but probably
none of you will read it, and in terms of style, at least, I cannot
say that that is a mistake. It’s got lots of content, but it is, like
all communiques, a difficult read. The Istanbul Declaration, however,
is much shorter, and I do commend it to you on grounds of both style
and substance. If it is agreed, it will be a very good summary of how
NATO is changing to meet the challenge of the 21st century, which is a
transformation which ought to be of considerable interest to you,
because it rather definitively answers the question, well, what is
NATO going to do now.

This is a question which has been asked for — many times since the
end of the Cold War, and it is very clear from this Istanbul
Declaration that NATO, in fact, has come to a solid policy consensus
about what its roles and missions are.

Now, I should say that all policy consensus is — develops over time
as it is realized, and so I don’t want to suggest that from now on
there will never be debates at NATO. Of course not. But it is
important to see how far NATO has come in recognizing that its
classing mission of collective defense needs to be realized in new
ways to meet new challenges, that is, the challenges of the
post-September 11th world. There was a tremendous debate after
September 11th as to whether NATO was an appropriate instrument to
take on these challenges. There were some said — some said it was;
some said it wasn’t. NATO has now decided that that, indeed, is going
to be its mission.

That is a tremendous achievement, and an achievement, by the way,
which should be seen in light of the very difficult debates over Iraq
of last year. Many journalists, reflecting a widely held, if not
fully accurate belief, wrote about the end of NATO or fatal divisions
in the transatlantic alliance. So when you read the Istanbul
Declaration, keep this in mind.

Another achievement to look for is NATO’s contribution to the broader
Middle East initiative. You may recall that this initiative has
generated a lot of ink, and I will indulge a pet peeve of mine — most
of that ink has been devoted to explaining why it has been watered
down, cut back, vitiated or shrunk. And in fact, it was launched at
Sea Island a few weeks ago in very much its original shape. The EU
signed on to this initiative with a statement about reform in the
broader Middle East a couple of days ago, and now NATO is going to
contribute its part to this overall initiative through an outreach
program to offer cooperation to the countries of the region, very much
inspired in its practical aspects by the Partnership for Peace, very
successfully launched 10 years ago.

Finally, NATO will mark its decision to successfully end its mission
in Bosnia, which has gone on for nine years. It will be handing over
that mission to the EU in what is not the first, but is the first
significant test of the European — the ESDP, the European Security
and Defense Policy. This handover should take place at the end of the
year. NATO will retain a small mission in Bosnia with some
specialized functions, but the bulk of the work will go to the EU.

Finally, day after tomorrow, there will be a NATO-Ukraine summit. The
emphasis there is twofold. One, we think — we, NATO — think Ukraine
is important and a valuable partner, and, two, democracy in Ukraine is
important and Ukraine-NATO relations will depend on the state of
democracy in that country, in particular how the elections unfold.
There will not be a NATO- Russia summit; however there will be a
NATO-Russia ministerial. Foreign Minister Lavrov will be here;
Secretary Powell will represent the United States. There will be a
Euro Atlantic Partnership Council meeting at the summit level, in
which President Bush will, of course, take part, and the Euro Atlantic
Partnership Council brings together NATO’s partners.

Now, I will leave it there, that general overview. And again, if we
are lucky enough to be joined by my more knowledgeable colleague, I’m
sure you’ll get more, and you’ll have a great time comparing the
differences, if any.

Questions, please.

Q What do you mean when you say that they may reach agreement on
possible discussing further steps for security, opening the door for
NATO possibly sending peacekeeping forces in the future?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I don’t want to speculate about
that. If we get there, the language will speak for itself, and
there are a lot of things that NATO may want to do. We have to see
how this develops. NATO — it is — it was regarded as heresy that
NATO would ever do anything as exotic as a mission thousands of
miles away from its — what was regarded as its classic theater of
operations in Central Europe. The fact that NATO is in Afghanistan
and is taking on a major task, which is the training of a national
army of some size, is pretty big stuff.

What you’re referring to is a possible decision for NATO to study even
more things it might do for Iraq as the training mission unfolds. I
don’t want to speculate as to what that may be. But this is pretty
big stuff, especially in light of the debates.

Q What was the time line given, and what’s the understanding among
NATO members about how long the commitment will be to train and equip
Iraq’s security forces?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First, we just received the request
from the Iraqi government — today is Sunday — it came to NATO, I
believe, on Monday or Tuesday. So it’s less than a week. We have a
lot of work to do to find out what the Iraqi needs are, specifically
what they have in mind, what NATO can offer. This is a big deal. But
I believe that NATO will agree that this is an urgent mission and it’s
got to be carried out fast. What “fast” means I wouldn’t want to say,
because if I said that it meant I knew what precisely would happen and
when, and I don’t because NATO has to work with the Iraqis. A lot of
thinking is being done, but I don’t want to get into the details.

Q Dr. Rice said this morning that NATO has not specific training
mechanism itself, and so the training would actually be done by
individual countries. Can you spell out what is NATO actually doing?
Is it facilitating this? Is it a headquarters for this?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, NATO — Dr. Rice was pointing
out that NATO is an alliance of nations, and that NATO, itself, as an
alliance has very few multinational forces that are truly
multinational. But there is a tremendous difference between NATO
individual nations doing — running individual national programs, and
NATO as an alliance developing a training program as an alliance.

Q What is that difference?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The difference is that would be a
coherent program run by NATO, even though individual countries would
be doing pieces of that. The difference is important, whether it’s 26
programs all running around, or one program that’s being carried out.
And we have to work through the details, but this is a NATO decision
that we’re looking at.

Of course, Dr. Rice was accurate, but I’m giving you the sense of
where we are.

Q — something that needs to be done fast, if we’re talking about NATO
starting from scratch and developing a program, what’s the time line
we’re looking at on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, as I said, I country discuss the
time line because I don’t know what it is. But it is certainly not
true the national programs are necessarily faster. In fact, if your
objective is to train the Iraqi army to help provide security for
Iraqi citizens, you do want a coherent training program rather than
lots of training programs. I mean, just logically. So that’s what we
have in mind.

Q How do you plan to deal with the PKK terror, and when, especially
after the June 30th deadline?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’m sorry, I missed that. Could you
repeat the question?

Q PKK terror — how do you plan to deal with the PKK terror, and when?
And what’s going to happen after the June 30th deadline?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, there are some — the United
States has made clear that the PKK is a terrorist organization and
that KONGRA-GEL, its latest name, is simply part of the same old
terrorist organization. We’re working with the Iraqi government and
we are working with Turkey on a variety of means to end this threat,
this terrorist threat. We take it very seriously. I have to say that
the Turkish leaders were quite firm and quite clear, and the President
appreciated both their candor and their determination to work with us.
But for various reasons, some of them obvious, I don’t want to say
exactly what we will do, and when.

Q On that, is the U.S. passing the ball to Iraqi interim government,
or the Iraqi-Kurdish forces, or does the U.S. remain to be primarily
responsible for the removal of PKK from Iraq?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would not put it that way. Clearly,
the sovereign Iraqi government that takes power after June 30th is an
important player in all of this. They are the government. They need
to be a part of the solution, working very closely with Turkey,
working very closely with the multinational force inside Iraq. And
that is all to the good. If our common objective is the end of a
terrorist threat against Turkey, and a terrorist threat, therefore,
against — more generally, the Iraqi government is to be a good
partner.

The Iraqi defense and foreign ministers are here, and I suspect that
this will come up in the discussions between Foreign Minister Zebari
and Foreign Minister Gul. That’s speculation, but I suspect that will
be discussed.

Q Dr. Rice was on TV this morning saying that Prime Minister Allawi
wants to bring back some former members of Saddam’s regime to — for
part of the security forces. Does the United States support this
idea?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I will not go into that because I
don’t do Iraq. And especially since my boss has commented, I think it
would be foolish, as well as — foolish on several grounds to explore
that further.

Q Back on the training, is that happening inside Iraq, as well as
outside in neighboring countries?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Fair question. This was one of the
issues discussed at NATO. The Iraqi request was for training inside
Iraq. Since you’ve seen Prime Minister Allawi’s letter, I assume you
know that that was explicitly asked for. And the question — the
thing to look for is whether NATO responds directly to that request.
I’m familiar with the discussions, yes, it takes place inside Iraq.
That was the request, and I believe that NATO will decide to answer
that request.

Q In spite of what the Germans have said, Chancellor Schroeder has
said that he doesn’t believe the German troops should be — German
troops should be inside Iraq training.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, that’s quite true, and the
German position has been clear from the outset. I don’t believe that
the German position is going to change. We have never insisted the
Germans have to go back to Iraq. We respect the German —

Q — as part of this training mission?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is now — training can take
place inside. The question was, does training take place inside? And
I said, yes. But I did not say the training would take place outside.
All right? Now, wait — I mean, there is some kind of training that
logically does take place outside: training of officer — long-term
officer training takes place outside. The Germans are already doing
police training; that takes place outside. A comprehensive training
program, if one designed it without regard to any national position
and without regard to the last 18 months of debate, would, naturally,
have elements inside, outside, it would have short-term, near-term,
troop training, embedding officers, schooling, all kinds of things.

And there is nothing — if NATO has a coherent training operation,
it’s certainly true that individual countries can contribute as long
as it’s consistent and part of an overall plan. So this is not an
attempt to jam the Germans. We respect their position.

Q Just to be very clear, then. You’re saying that some amount of
training would happen inside Iraq, and some of that would happen
outside?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, sure. That’s right.

Q How would what Petraeus is doing inside Iraq, what you have the
Jordanians doing in Jordan, how would those two operations be part of
a coherent NATO training program? Would you bring those under the
NATO umbrella?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is actually an excellent
question, and it’s — oh, it is because that’s exactly the kind of
question that NATO is going to have to work out. So, what are the
command and control elements, how do you put these things together,
how do you link it up with the Iraqi chain of command with NATO, with
Petraeus, those are all good questions. I can’t give you a precise
answer, except I will give you a sense that we are well aware of the
need to make sure that this is linked up in some fashion.

I don’t want to suggest how that might happen in great detail. But
that’s a fair question, and I think the result will be integration of
some kind. I don’t want to say how. But we’re all aware of that, and
you’ve hit on one of the things that NATO is going to be working with.

Q As far as you’re concerned, you’re ready to do that, let Petraeus
maybe answer to a larger command?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t want to get into the precise
details except to suggest that we’re all aware of the need to have
this work. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and give you precise
answers before there are precise answers. I’ll give you a sense that
that’s a good question, we’re all aware of it.

Q Can you characterize the response from Erdogan and Sezer on the
Turkish — the kidnapped Turkish workers, to the President’s
sympathies?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I generally don’t like to characterize
the positions of other governments, but the sense I had was
determination on their part, as well as genuine human concern for the
fate of the workers. I think that’s a fair characterization. I don’t
want to go too much further.

Q One more. The Armenian Orthodox Patriarch said he gave the
President a letter. I know that you weren’t in the meeting, you got a
very brief description, but he got — he said he was giving the
President a letter, he said he was denouncing violence in general.
Has the President have a chance to read the letter? Has he received
the letter? What can you tell us about it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can’t say. I really can’t say. I
do know that the head of the Armenian church here has had a good
history in the issue of reconciliation. He’s regarded as a very
positive, serious person. That’s a very general statement. So for
what’s that worth, I offer it.

Q — the religious leaders. Why did you miss it? You say there were
motorcade issues? Was it security problems, protestors, anything —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, no. There were no — certainly no
protestors that I saw. It was motorcade — the motorcade was slow,
and by the time I got to the meeting, the question was, do I barge in
in the middle of the meeting, or since the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
was there, do I let him take the notes and give me a readout, and I
decided not to barge in. That’s all there was.

Q The motorcade wasn’t slowed down by security —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, certainly — certainly not. It
ran rather smoothly, but it’s — we were going through an old part of
town. You don’t race through it at 90 miles an hour.

Q Could you please talk about what Prime Minister Allawi means by
technical assistance, and will that be part of the agreement,
something that will be announced in the next couple of days? And
secondly, could you please elaborate what the President meant when he
said that he wants to make sure that NATO is configured militarily to
meet the threats of the 21st century?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The last one I can answer fairly
easily. NATO no longer has to worry about the Soviet army rolling
through the central plains of Europe. Yet NATO national armies are
only in the beginning process of transformation. Some of the NATO new
members have radically transformed their armies, but they haven’t had
the financial resources to do as much as they like. Some of the
pre-1989 NATO members have very good plans, they know what needs to be
done, but they’re not there, either. NATO has to develop forces like
the rapid reaction force, which was agreed to at the Prague summit,
and get these forces ready to do what needs to be done for the
future. That’s what it means.

With respect to technical assistance, look, take a look at the text in
the NATO agreement when it comes out. The Iraqi Foreign Minister and
Defense Minister are here, so you might ask them. Allawi is, clearly,
in my limited experience with him, is clearly capable of saying what
he wants and what he doesn’t want, and I think technical assistance
means a support and support in the context of training. But he also
wants — I think he wants NATO to look at other ways in which it can
be helpful, and that’s what NATO will be doing if we reach agreement.

Q But excuse me, sir, are we talking about helicopters, or —

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can’t get into that because I have
to see. We don’t have — there’s no annex to the letter, a list of
the things that he wants. I think we’re going to be developing it
with the Iraqis, but I can’t — I don’t want to speculate about how
NATO will go about fulfilling its mandate if, indeed, it reaches
agreement tomorrow or the next day.

MR. McCLELLAN: — just a couple more.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Okay, right. Yes, sir.

Q You had mentioned that the interim Iraqi defense and foreign
ministers are here. Who did they meet with, and how were — how did
those meetings go?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The foreign minister — they were
invited by the Turkish Foreign Minister, I believe. And there was an
informal meeting of the NATO foreign ministers with the Iraqi interim
foreign minister this evening. I don’t have a readout of that
meeting. I also believe that the Iraqi defense minister was going to
meet in an informal setting with the NATO defense ministers, also,
this evening. I don’t have a readout of that, either.

Q Those meetings have not taken place?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They are taking place now. I don’t
have any readout. If my more knowledgeable senior administration
official colleague does make it here, he may have more information for
you. I’m giving you what I’ve got.

MR. McCLELLAN: It does not look like he’s going to make it here.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, alas, it doesn’t. You’ve had to
make due with me. I am sorry.

Q Afghanistan?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes?

Q So NATO is going to make a commitment on Afghanistan. They made a
commitment previously which they did not deliver 100 percent on.
What’s different about this one?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: NATO does have about 5,800 troops
right now in Kabul as part of ISAF and it is now moving outside of
ISAF. You should ask for details from people who know them more —
better than I do. But by my understanding, ISAF is going out of Kabul
in stages, and I believe that NATO will be in a position — believe —
that NATO will be in a position to announce it has sufficient forces
to launch stage one, which is an expansion to the North, through PRGs,
these provincial reconstruction teams, and that it will start to work
on assembling the forces for stage two expansion.

So how you play — how you interpret this depends on which angle you
look at it from. Would I like there to be more NATO forces and make
this easy? Sure. On the other hand, the fact that NATO is able to do
this at all, given the fact that a few years ago, only obscure
academics even considered the possibility of NATO out of area this
far, means that NATO has come a long way.

You can — you have both. It’s not — the truth isn’t in between, the
truth is both, that NATO needs to do more to have the capabilities to
set these things up more easily, but also, NATO has come a tremendous
way in terms of taking on new responsibilities and carrying out
missions that it didn’t know it would be dealing with a few years ago.

So I consider this — I consider this a major summit. And I will end
with a final thought, that this is the first NATO summit that is
dealing almost exclusively with NATO’s future role dealing with future
21st century challenges. What NATO is discussing, and what most of
our discussion this evening has been about, is about things like
Afghanistan and Iraq and NATO’s transformation.

Now, that means that NATO has already gotten its mind adjusted to its
new challenges. That makes this summit historic because now the
debate about what NATO is for is answered, and the question now is how
NATO is going to do that. That is a tremendous achievement for NATO,
and an achievement, moreover, in light of a very difficult debate it
had last year. And yet, NATO has moved forward. That’s a great
achievement. And, for once, on the eve of a NATO summit, I really am
looking forward to tomorrow. That is not always the case.

Thank you.

END 7:45 P.M. (Local)

SOURCE White House Press Office

CO: White House Press Office

ST: District of Columbia, Turkey

SU: EXE FOR

Web site:

06/27/2004 15:16 EDT

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

http://www.whitehouse.gov
http://www.prnewswire.com

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1- Armenian Patriarch Meets US President
2- Oskanian, Gul Meet in Istanbul
3- Congress Best Bet for US Recognition of Genocide
4- Chirac Slams Bush for Interfering in Turkey’s EU Bid
5- Armenia Marks Tenth Anniversary of Military Academy

1- Armenian Patriarch Meets US President

ISTANBUL (Haybad/Zaman)–While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Summit may be headlining US President George W. Bush’s trip to Istanbul,
Turkey, he took time out on Sunday to meet with various religious leaders.
Bush met with President of Religious Affairs Ali Bardakoglu, Istanbul Mufti
Mustafa Cagrici, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos, Armenian Patriarch Mesrob
Mutafyan, Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf
Cetin.
In his opening remarks, Bush welcomed the religious leaders, and referred to
Turkey “with its mosaic of faiths and cultures,” as a good model of secular
democracy–in spite of its predominantly Muslim population.
When a journalist asked at the end of the meeting if the participants had any
particular message, Bush said that he came together with important
personalities from different religions and faiths and had “an excellent
meeting.” Bush added that the religious leaders represented the best side of
Turkey.
Patriarch Mutafyan had an opportunity to speak to Bush about the situation of
Turkey’s non-Muslim population, and stressed that for minorities to exist in
Turkey–or for any ethnic or national minority to exist anywhere–three
institutions must be guaranteed: First, places of worship to preserve
religious
heritage and to nourish the spiritual life of the community; second,
schools to
teach language and culture; and third, foundations to fund religious and
educational activities and the necessary personnel to keep them active. The
minorities in Turkey, he stressed, are attempting to maintain those
institutions for the future and well-being of their communities.
The Patriarch also stressed that though religious leaders attempt to stick to
spiritual edification, and stay out of politics, certain instances call
for, if
not political involvement, at least a moral response.
Mutafyan told the press that the religious leaders conveyed their concerns to
Bush about the violent incidents they witness every time the turn on the
television. Bush reportedly responded, “Believe me, these do not reflect our
real face. Justice will deal with some of the incidents you see on television,
particularly those in the prison in Baghdad.”
Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeos indicated that they discussed the role of
religion and Turkey’s religious mosaic. “President Bush said that the
religious
mosaic was very important for Turkey and that it is an asset to the
country. In
order to maintain this, all the religions need to raise their own religious
leaders. Otherwise, the mosaic will disappear,” recalled Bartholomeos.
White House National Security Adviser Condolezza Rice, Secretary of State
Colin Powell and the US Ankara Ambassador Eric Edelman also attended Bush’s
meeting with religious leaders.
Before leaving, Patriarch Mutafyan presented the following letter to
President
Bush:

“Dear Mr. President,

It is with great pleasure that we welcome your visit to our country on the
occasion of the NATO summit here in Istanbul.
The Armenians of Turkey, constituting by far the largest Christian community
in this country, have long cherished, with affection and amity, the United
States of America, which, besides having a historic friendship and alliance
with Turkey, also has welcomed to its shores many of our kinsmen since the
second half of the 19th century.
It is because of these warm sentiments, that I feel able to express the
uneasiness we feel at the escalating level of violence which has been
spreading
across the globe and which is especially pressing in the Middle East region,
where we also live.
I personally believe that you, Mr. Bush, as the president of a great country
that leads the world, have the authority to affect the course of events, and
this is why I would like to voice my anxiety.
War, terror, torture, embargo, marginalization, defamation or
condescension…Whatever form violence takes, it always leads to consequences
which are not in accord with human dignity. Instead it leaves indelible scars
in memories and generates lasting enmities between peoples. Throughout
history,
there has never been an act of violence or retaliation which has not harmed
the
innocent. Sadly, the consequence is usually that violence begets more
violence.
This is why, even when seeking to serve legitimate, higher ideals such as
establishing peace, upholding democracy or preventing terror, the resort to
violence, merely culminates in more pain and suffering to the innocent,
especially children.
Throughout history, when governments have resorted to force when
challenged by
violence or even civil unrest, it often effectively became collective
punishments of whole nations or peoples. What has happened recently in
Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan are clear examples. This cannot be a
portrayal of sublime sentiments and indeed, to many it is viewed as revenge, a
sentiment which cannot coexist with civilization.
I believe that the United States of America and her President, have the
ability to preserve the values they struggle for without resorting to violence
in all its terrible diversity. It is sufficient to maintain their trust in
God,
in their sense of vocation and ultimate potential for good. Whenever we
embrace
violence we are already diminished and the high moral and religious ideals to
which we aspire are betrayed.
Mr. President, I can imagine to a certain extent the pressures that you must
be undergoing at present and therefore please be assured of my prayerful
support. May God be in all visions for world peace and may He protect us all
from losing our faith.
With my sincere good wishes,
MESROB II
Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul and All Turkey

2- Oskanian, Gul Meet in Istanbul

ISTANBUL (AFP/Armenpress/RFE/RL)–Under pressure by North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU), Armenia, Azerbaijan and
Turkey
pledged on Monday to seek to resolve their tangled disputes through trilateral
meetings.
The foreign ministers of the three troubled neighbors, Vartan Oskanian of
Armenia, Elmar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan, and Abdullah Gul of Turkey met on the
sidelines of the NATO summit in Istanbul.
“The dialogue was quite good,” Oskanian told reporters after the meeting. “I
have nothing concrete to state at this point, but the meeting was quite
positive. . . This was a meeting between the three equal sides which have
interests and benefits in the region”
Referring to the enlargement of the EU and NATO, Oskanian said, “We need to
shape a new strategic vision for the Caucasus so that we can keep pace with
the
developments around us.”
Emphasizing that both NATO and the EU were anxious to stabilize the
conflict-torn Caucasian region, Gul told reporters after the meeting that they
had discussed “ways and means of cooperating to achieve stability through
constructive means.”
He said he and his counterparts had agreed to hold further trilateral
meetings
later in the year.
Mamedyarov added: “We will try to do our best to bring peace and stability to
the region.”
Armenia and Azerbaijan are divided by a long-standing dispute Mountainous
Karabagh.
A close ally of Azerbaijan, Turkey has declined to establish diplomatic ties
with Armenia and remains bitter at Yerevan’s efforts to secure international
recognition of the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turkey.
Ankara is under pressure by the EU (which it seeks to join) to re-open its
border with Armenia, which it closed in 1993 in a show of solidarity with
Baku.

Oskanian told reporters he had discussed the issue with Gul in a bilateral
meeting earlier in the day, but it would be premature to expect an immediate
re-opening of the border.
Oskanian used his participation in the NATO summit, marred by violent clashes
between Turkish police and left-wing protesters, to meet with Patriarch Mesrob
Mutafian, the spiritual leader of Turkey’s small Armenian community. He also
delivered a speech to a group of Istanbul Armenians.

3- Congress Best Bet for US Recognition of Genocide

YEREVAN (YERKIR)As Turkey remains a key ally of the United States and is a
member of NATO, the US administration’s position on the Genocide issue is not
likely to change, Armenia’s ambassador to the US
Arman Kirakossian, told Armenpress, responding to whether the US would change
its policy [on Armenian genocide recognition] if Democratic presidential
candidate John Kerry were to win the November election. Ambassador
Kirakossian noted that both former president Bill Clinton and the incumbent
George W. Bush promised to recognize the Armenian genocide but did not
stick to
their promises. “A shift in this policy can be expected only by working
with US
Congress,” Kirakossian noted.

4- Chirac Slams Bush for Interfering in Turkey’s EU Bid

(AFP)–French President Jacques Chirac bluntly criticized George W. Bush on
Monday for supporting Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, saying the US
President had “gone too far”.
On Sunday, Bush publicly endorsed Turkey’s bid, telling Prime Minister Recep
Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara: “I will remind the people of this good country that
you ought to be given a date by the EU for your eventual acceptance into the
EU.”
Chirac told a news conference on the sidelines on the NATO summit here: “Not
only did he go too far, he ventured into territory which is not his concern.”
The French president, who is among the EU leaders most firmly opposed to
Turkish membership of the EU, added: “It would be like me telling the United
States how to run its affairs with Mexico.”

5- Armenia Marks Tenth Anniversary of Military Academy

YEREVAN (NoyanTapan)–During a June 27 ceremony marking the 10th
anniversary of
Armenia’s Vazgen Sargisian Military Institute, 270 graduates received their
diplomas and military shoulder-straps in the presence of President Robert
Kocharian, Prime Minister Antranig Margarian, Defense Minister Serge
Sargisian,
parliamentarians, government officials and high-ranking military personnel.
The prime minister said that the institute, established during arduous times
for the newly independent Armenia, has succeeded in preparing experienced and
skilled military personnel.
“If Azerbaijan had the slightest doubt about the Armenian Army’s military
power, they would have surely restarted the war by now,” said the Defense
Ministry’s Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Colonel General Mikhael
Harutyunian.

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