Solid Economic Policy Must Be A Priority

The Georgian Messenger
30 April 2004
Solid Economic Policy Must Be A Priority

By M. Alkhazashvili
According to a study conducted by the World Bank, Georgia is one of the 64
countries with the lowest per-capita incomes in the world. Also on the list
are the post-Soviet countries of Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
and Uzbekistan. According to the calculations of World
Bank analysts, the main reason behind the poverty in these countries is the
lack of adequate financing for social programs, health care and education.

The Georgian government intends to fight poverty with a special program
adopted last year during the Shevardnadze administration. This program
foresees economic growth in the country by the year 2015. The new government
has talked about making certain changes in the program and some analysts
point out that if this document does not undergo some alterations, reducing
poverty in the country will be an exceedingly difficult task.

Many foreign experts are of the same opinion. They predict a rather grim
future for Georgia and its neighboring countries. Due to the complicated
social and political situation, Georgia’s population is projected to
decrease by 1.5 million by the year 2015, rendering it less than 3 million.
The population of Armenia, meanwhile, will fall slightly to 3 million and
that of Azerbaijan will increase to 9 million. But population
growth in Azerbaijan will not be caused by good living conditions. On the
contrary, it will further inflame the problem of poverty.

As analysts say, in order to overcome the current dire situation, it is
necessary to develop a wholly new economic vision. So far, the government is
continuing to follow the priorities of the old administration – that is,
focusing on the budget, pensions and salaries. If we closely examine these
notions, Solid economic policy must be a priority however, we see that there
is nothing behind them. The amount of the country’s budget is insignificant
and salaries and pensions are miniscule. In other words, we need to put
these old priorities aside, though not
as unimportant issues, but rather we should view a strong budget and
sufficient salaries and pensions as a consequence of a well-thought-out
economic policy.

Nothing yet can be said about the new government’s vision for the nation’s
economy, as no such document has been adopted that expresses a coherent
vision. A new economic vision must first of all mean the creation of a new
tax code. Work on a new code is underway, but the hurried pace of this work
creates the danger that many mistakes will be made. One specialist who has
seen the draft code warns that it looks no better than its predecessor and
little change is visible. These mistakes will be difficult to correct in the
future. Without a consistent and liber-al economic policy, the nation’s
economic and consequently political and social development will be stalled
for several years.

Azerbaijan fears reopening Turkish-Armenian border

The Georgian Messenger
30 April 2004

Prepared by Anna Arzanova
Azerbaijan fears reopening Turkish-Armenian border

According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev
went to Ankara where held negotiations with senior Turkish leadership.
President Aliev met with the Ambassador of Turkey to Baku Unal Chevikez on
the eve of his journey and discussed details
of his visit. “The achievements of Turkey make us happy and the achievements
of Azerbaijan make Turkey happy. I am very happy that
important steps were and are taken in this direction,” stated Aliev. Despite
such an optimistic tone, the experts in Baku noticed that there is
some tension in the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The problem is that authorities in Turkey are inclined to establish a normal
border-customs regime with Armenia in the near future. According to Turkish
diplomatic sources, there really are intense, informal diplomatic contacts
on this issue between Yerevan and Ankara. The fact of such negotiations was
also confirmed by the former Minister of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, the
leader of the National Democratic Party, Iskender Gamidov.

Baku has a very sickly reaction to the possibility of changes along the
Turkish-Armenian border and even tries to dissuade officials in
Ankara. Aliev stated once again that he is against the opening of the
Turkish-Armenian boarder, because this step will not contribute to
settle the Karabakh conflict peacefully.

Popular newspaper editor takes over MP-owned television company

Heir to Air: Popular newspaper editor takes over MP-owned television company
30 April 2004

By Zhanna Alexanyan
ArmeniaNow reporter
The editor of a leading oppositional newspaper has taken over leadership of
a Yerevan television company that has tangential government affiliation.
The new director.

Aram Abrahamyan, editor of Aravot (Morning), Armenia’s leading daily, has
been named director of the former Kentron (Center) television company, an
enterprise recently purchased by pro-government National Assembly member and
businessman Murad Guloyan. The newly-named company will air May 10.

The TV company was previously owned (for one year) by another MP, Gurgen
Arsenyan. Recent coverage by the channel of oppositional party
demonstrations was not favorable for the government, leading to speculation
that Arsenyan was later pressured by authorities to sell the company.

The appointment has raised questions of whether the oppositional journalist
and the MP-owned television company will have matching ambitions for how the
station should position itself in Armenia’s media, broadly divided according
to political persuasion.

Media observers are further intrigued that Abrahamyan will be inheriting a
channel that, in its inception two years ago, helped kick A1+ off the
airwaves, stirring a controversy alleging government censorship which
continues these two years later.

(In April 2002, A1+, the republic’s leading oppositional channel, lost its
license in a disputed bidding war in which a presidential-appointed
commission gave the license to Sharm, primarily an entertainment and
advertising company that did not even have a reporting staff at the time.
Guloyan bought the company last week .)

Abrahamyan was in fact a co-founder, with Mesrop Movsisyan, of A1+ in 1991
and until the channel lost its license, was host of its most popular talk
show, “Post Script”.

Abrahamyan says he puts his journalistic reputation behind his new role and
that Aravot television will in fact join efforts to see A1+ resume
broadcast. But he says any speculation that Aravot will become the new A1+
are “absurd”.

“The Aravot TV, which I will be heading will become a rostrum from where we
will always speak about the opening of A1+,” Abrahamyan says. “I will be
participating in all kinds of events (marches, demonstrations) which will be
organized in support of A1+.”

Abrahamyan goes so far, in fact, to say that should the National TV and
Radio Commission hold a contest for the 37 th frequency (currently held by
Aravot, but previously belonging to A1+), “we will not take part in it and
will do everything possible to help A1+ win the contest”.

The new director dismisses notions that either his newspaper or his
television company should be labeled.

“Political figures can be oppositional or pro-governmental but these
categories must not touch us,” he says.

Guloyan, who is in his first term as MP, was elected on the ticket of the
Republican party (though he, himself, is not a member). Not a well-known
figure in Armenia, he is the owner of Milta, a food-production company. He
comes from the same village as Armenian strongman Gagik “Dodi Gago”
Tsarukyan. Some interested parties have speculated that the powerful
millionaire is behind the purchase of the television company, which is
believed to have sold for $500,000.

Recent news programming (prior to Guloyan’s purchase) by Kentron was praised
by Abrahamyan, especially for its coverage of the violent April 13 clash
between State police and oppositional protestors.

Kentron, “was the most independent media among all others,” Abrahamyan says.

But others are claiming that those very reports riled the government and
that Arsenyan was “forced” by high-level government officials to sell his
company because of his company’s broadcast of the clashes between police and
demonstrators.

It is an opinion shared by A1+ director Mesrop Movsesyan.

Movsesyan says that, when A1+ was denied its license, President Robert
Kocharyan promised to create another company like it. Kentron, Movsisyan
says, was to have been that channel.

“The president wanted to do that via Gurgen Arsenyan,” Movsisyan says, “but
when Arsenyan stumbled, he was forced to sell Kentron.”

Unofficial talk in Yerevan is that Kocharyan in fact called a meeting with
Arsenyan following the broadcasts of the April 13 events.

Ashot Kocharyan, spokesman for the President told ArmeniaNow there is no
record of a meeting between the President and Arsenayn. The spokesman had no
comment on rumors to that effect.

ArmeniaNow attempted to get Arsenyan’s version of the claims. He said he is
reserving comment on the matter until after the new company begins its
broadcast. Asked whether Arsenyan had been pressured into selling Kentron,
an assistant for Arsenyan said the MP “does not wish to speak about it now”.

Movsesyan, meanwhile, criticizes his former colleague Abrahamyan for taking
the directorship of a company that effectively put A1+ off the air.

“By making that decision, he (Abrahamyan) demonstrated that he has changed
his team,” Movsisyan said. “Of course, this country always needed an
imitator like Aram in the struggle of freedom of speech, and such person was
found. Aram is a good journalist and he can create an imitation of an
independent channel. I’m only surprised that he agreed to that.”

Abrahamyan, though, refutes accusations that he has switched his political
allegiance by assuming a position seen as connected to the government.

The journalist says he is confident the new owner will not use the
television company as a rostrum for advancing his politics.

“It’s just a business for him to make investments for gaining profits in the
future,” Abrahamyan says. “I’m sure this is the only way for creating
independent media. Media, but not the means for propaganda.”

Abrahamyan, a musicologist by profession, graduated Yerevan State
Conservatory and defended his Ph.D. thesis. He served as press secretary for
the first president after independence, Levon Ter Pertrosyan. He became
editor of Aravot newspaper in 1994.

Before hosting the A1+ talk show, Abrahamyan had been host of various music
programs.

“I always dreamt of working in TV,” he says. “When I first came to TV in
1983 I realized it was my world and I had always been dreaming of working
there.”

His aim at Aravot TV, he says, is to direct a company that serves the public
need for reliable information.

“The strategic goal of the TV company is to become an informational and
public channel like Freedom radio station,” says Abrahamyan.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Margaryan Killing: Preliminary inquiry nears its end

Margaryan Killing: Preliminary inquiry nears its end
30 April 2004

By Zhanna Alexanyan
ArmeniaNow.com reporter

The lawyer for the family of Gurgen Margaryan has been in Budapest for
consultations on the case against the Azerbaijani officer accused of
murdering him.

Nazeli Vardanyan, a member of the Armenian International Lawyers Union, met
with her Hungarian colleague Gabriela Gaspar to familiarize herself with
details of the preliminary investigation.

Vardanyan is representing the interests of the legal successors of
Margaryan, the Armenian officer violently murdered on February 19 while
attending a NATO Partnership for Peace training program in Budapest. She
also represents a second Armenian officer, Hayk Makuchyan, who is recognized
as a victim in the case.

The preliminary inquiry is expected to be completed within two to three
weeks. Senior Lieutenant Ramil Sarafov, one of two Azerbaijani officers
attending the same NATO program, is accused of hacking Margaryan to death
with an axe while he slept and of attempting to murder Makuchyan. The
soldiers were attending NATO’s “Partners for Peace” conference.

Vardanyan received her legal education in Yerevan and completed postgraduate
study at the Institute of State and Law Studies of the Russian Academy of
Sciences in Moscow . She is also a graduate of the American University of
Armenia. An international law specialist, Vardanyan speaks English and
German.

Tigran Janoyan, head of the union, which is providing legal support to
Vardanyan, states that Sarafov allegedly murdered Margaryan then tried to
break into Makuchyan’s room. The preliminary investigation has recorded that
marks from a sharp-edged instrument were found around the door latch and
that the Azeri officer called to Makuchyan to come out of his room.

“Both of them were recognized as victims and the most important is that the
crime was directed only against Armenian citizens. The national factor, the
fact of being Armenian, was the motive for the crime,” says Janoyan.

Immediately after the incident, Azerbaijani authorities sought to classify
it as a simple dispute. Janoyan says: “So far, the investigation hasn’t
managed to collect any information showing there to have been a conflict
between the Azeri and Armenian officers or demonstration of antipathy.”

The attorney believes that the Azeri side is seeking to cloak a criminal act
in the imagery of national heroism by developing a hypothesis of revenge for
deaths in Khojalu during the war in Nagorno Karabakh.

“This contradiction is also clear to Hungarian authorities, particularly to
the body in charge of the preliminary investigation. If they try to turn the
trial into a political show, I think we will also be ready to present the
reality of the Khojalu events,” says Janoyan, underlining that at present
the Armenian side has no desire to leave the legal field.

He says the investigation found that “the axe recognized as the weapon was
purchased in advance, about two weeks before the incident in Budapest”.

According to a statement from the second Azeri officer who attended the NATO
meeting, Safarov “purchased the axe as a souvenir for his father”. Janoyan
questions whether the huge instrument – 65 centimeters long, with a blade
measuring 17 by 12 – was really “the best souvenir to bring from Hungary to
the Southern Caucasus”.

He argues: “Safarov planned cruel crimes against Armenian officers. He
purchased the crime instrument, chose a residential section of the
educational building and step by step committed the crime. The murder of the
second Armenian officer didn’t take place as a result of circumstances over
which the criminal couldn’t establish control.”

The scene of the crime has been thoroughly examined. Traces of blood
allegedly left by the criminal while searching for Makuchyan’s room were
registered.

Hungarian law provides 10 to 15 years or life imprisonment for murder. The
court has yet to decide whether the trial will be public. If he is
convicted, the possibility of Sarafov being transferred to his homeland to
serve his sentence is not excluded.

“Azerbaijan and Hungary have signed a convention on extradition of convicted
persons, although it doesn’t require mandatory extradition. The Hungarian
side must decide whether to extradite him or not,” says Vardanyan. ” Hungary
is preparing to join the European Union on May 1 and I don’t think there
will be any pressure on the court because they want to prove to the world
that they are ready to be a member of this structure. We are not passive, in
our turn, to allow pressure to be exerted.”

Anti-smoking campaign must change minds as well as habits

Dying for a Cigarette: Anti-smoking campaign must change minds as well as
habits

30 April 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan
ArmeniaNow.com reporter

An appealing cigarette advertisement placed in newspapers comes with two
cigarettes attached, carefully wrapped in transparent cellophane. That ad
was available to everyone and offered real temptation especially for
teenagers, for whom such material offers an incentive to take up the
smoking habit.

A year ago health care specialists hoped that the adoption of a law project
on cigarettes would introduce restrictions in this area. However, in March
2004 the National Assembly rejected the law On Cigarettes for the second
time. Cigarette commercials and propaganda got back on track after that and,
according to sales statistics, the number of smokers started growing.

According to statistics today around 70% of men in Armenia are smokers.
There’s no precise information regarding women since many hide their
addictive habit. However, experts believe that smoking is increasing rapidly
among women, partly out of a popular view that a woman who smokes is
stylish, modern and sexy.

Health care specialists are particularly concerned by the situation among
teenagers, which they say indicates a lack of attention in Armenia to the
seriousness of smoking.

“They smoke everywhere, in cafes, even in buses,” says the chairman of Human
Health charitable organization David Petrosyan. “If you try to reprimand
someone you’ll either be considered a bad person or you’ll get an ironical
smile, since the law defining this field does not exist and anti-smoking
control in Armenia is very weak. And doctors are not ready to explain to
people the real threat of this habit.”

Petrosyan says that the law On Cigarettes could change the situation to some
degree by beginning to curtail the epidemic of smoking. It proposed serious
restrictions on cigarette advertisement, smoking in public places and in
many aspects of this sphere.

Color advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on TV would have been
prohibited. Smoking would have been banned in schools and at other
institutions for children, while cigarette companies would have been barred
from sponsoring TV and radio programs for youngsters . (A current law on
advertisement places certain restrictions on cigarette advertisement, but
the law has been mostly ignored since the new law was rejected.)

“Diseases, disablement and mortality from smoking have reached unbelievable
levels among us today. The indexes on lung cancer are causing concern,” says
Petrosyan. “Unfortunately, MPs don’t take the situation seriously. The draft
law was rejected in a similarly unserious atmosphere, since no one thought
that by rejecting law they would not be elected tomorrow. The public has to
change its opinion on this issue.”

Public opinion in Armenia may appear indifferent now, but Alexander
Bazarchyan, the anti-smoking project coordinator at Armenia’s Health
Ministry, says individuals and organizations that are interested in this
issue will do everything to change the situation.

“The law has already been rejected twice but, a year on, the anti-smoking
fight is now pretty active,” says Bazarchyan. “Non-government organizations,
media have become more active, new events are being organized.”

Petrosyan says there will be a fresh attempt soon to pass the law in the
National Assembly. He says: “We’re working and doing some clarifications in
that direction. The anti-smoking struggle is not something of one or two
days. At the end of the day, the rights of non-smokers have to be protected
as well.”

Bazarchyan says an anti-smoking campaign under the slogan “Cigarettes and
Poverty” is planned in Yerevan on May 31, which is World Anti-Smoking Day. A
website is being opened () with information and
statistics on smoking in Armenia, and there are plans to publish a book
setting out the real dangers of cigarettes.

www.tobaccocontrol.am

Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague village

Outbreak in Aygabats: Animal deaths, threat to humans continue to plague
village
30 april 2004

By Marianna Grigoryan
ArmeniaNow.com reporter

A case of human anthrax infection is believed to have been found in the
Aygabats village of Shirak region. Last week, ArmeniaNow reported an
outbreak of the disease that had caused the deaths of 40 cattle. Tigran
Sahakyan.

On Tuesday (April 27), villager Harutyun Khachatryan, who had been in
contact with the infected animals, showed symptoms of anthrax infection and
was taken to hospital in Gyumri.

Doctors say Khachatryan is in satisfactory condition, but, in the village
tensions are high, as animals continue to die.

“This week the number of dead animals in the village has reached 48,” says
head of the village Gagik Altunyan. “The village is still in quarantine,
members of the committee pay frequent visits and do tests, but our situation
is still unclear.”

The outbreak started after April 15 when animals began to die following
anti-anthrax vaccinations.

The chief veterinary doctor of the republic Anushavan Aghajanyan visited the
village and expressed a preliminary opinion that the reason of the cattle’s
death was anthrax.

A special committee was formed to determine if the cause of the outbreak was
the vaccine. Tests were sent to Moscow for evaluation.

Minister of Agriculture David Lokyan would not reveal the name of the
company producing the vaccine. He did say, however, that if tests proved the
vaccine was faulty, compensation for the villagers would be demanded of the
company.

“Information that the reason of deaths in Aygabats is our vaccine is
slander,” said director of Biopreparat LLC Tigran Sahakyan.

Sahakyan says that only 15 days ago more than 400 cattle in the Vayk region
were vaccinated with the same vaccine and there have been no ill effects
since.

“The vaccine has been produced during five years by the same scientific
group and during those years we have done 10 million vaccinations of animals
in different regions of the republic,” says Sahakyan. “And there’s never
been such a case. Though it’s true that vaccination time coincided with the
time when animals died, that alone is not enough to accuse out company. If
during five years we provided the vaccine with absolutely no problems, this
already shows for itself.”

Sahakyan says that before the vaccine is administered it is tested by
specialists and that such tests revealed no problems with the medicine
applied in Aygabats.

The vaccine .
“There are no components in the vaccine which can cause anthrax,” he says.
“The product itself can fight against anthrax but it cannot cause that
disease.”

Doctor of veterinary sciences, Meruzhan Zadayan was among scientists
investigating the Aygabats case and says the vaccine is not to blame.

“The anti-anthrax serum is one of the few vaccinations that has strict
rules,” says Zadayan. “It is obvious that these rules have been violated in
the village.”

According to the specialist, the vaccine cannot be used for instance on
animals in the last stages of pregnancy, or during cold or hot weather, or
on exhausted animals. Nor can it be combined with other vaccines. (In
Aygabats at the time of vaccination, nights reached temperatures below
freezing.)

According to Zadayan the anti-anthrax vaccine was used on cows and mixed
with a separate vaccine for another disease.

“I don’t want to rush, but the problem in Aygabats is obviously different,
there are indexes of several diseases,” says Sahakyan. “Not only
non-vaccinated cattle has died but dogs and cats as well. They do not get
infected with anthrax.”

Telling the Truth: A Turkish author faces up to Genocide

Telling the Truth: A Turkish author faces up to Genocide
30 April 2004

By Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow arts reporter

“My dear Armenian brothers, I will bow to the memory of all Armenians, who
lost their lives, who were “purposely murdered in exile” during the
greatest tragedy of our century – the massacres, which became black soot on
the forehead of the human race, your pain will become my pain. As a
literate Turk I offer apology in my own name to you and the entire
humanity.” “Rejoice My Heart”

These words are written by Turkish writer Kemal Yalcin, who with the help of
his book tried to find ways for peace and brotherhood from the bitter
realization of sins committed by his nation.

In 2001 Kemal Yalcin published “You Rejoice My Heart”, where he described,
in Turkish, several incidents of the Genocide of 1915. The work was filled
with rich descriptions of not only the genocide but the life of its heroes,
their love stories.

“In summer, 1989, I went to Turkey (from Germany where he was living at the
time). For writing my book I had to find aged Armenian women around Amasia
( Turkey) and talk to living witnesses of massacres of 1915. I had to visit
Ani and Aghtamar, writes Yalcin in the prologue to his book. “During that
period, I knocked at doors of many Armenians. None of them knew me. That was
the first time when a Turk was interested in their past. What they told me
was not just feelings and thoughts, first and foremost they were bitter
stories of their lives or lives of their nation and families.”

Yalcin begins his book with the story of a meeting, which later becomes the
reason for creating the book. In 1992, the author went to Dortmund, Germany
to participate in specialist courses, where he got to know his Turkish
language teacher Meline. Meline was Armenian, whose parents had miraculously
escaped the Genocide.

His acquaintanceship with Meline changed the author’s life and his attitude
towards the crime committed by previous leaders of his own nation. A great
love nested in the author’s heart, invigorating him and helping him to
overcome the difficulties and dangers he faced while collecting materials
for his book. F rom reading the book one gets a feeling that Kemal was in
love with Meline, who was married, but it never becomes clear whether they
had an affair.

“I am Armenian but there was a time when I was afraid to say that I’m
Armenian, I was afraid to speak Armenian. Armenian women of Turkey have been
living during their whole lives with this terrible feeling of being masked.
Those days they had to get married with Turks to escape death. Go, Kemal,
find those people, talk to them, let them tell you what they’ve heard and
seen,” says Meline.

“For you, even if I die,” said Kemal and began traveling through the bitter
and dark pages of history.

His book, written in beautiful oriental language and style, attracts readers
with its true and interesting account of events. Its 400 pages are awash
with bitter reminiscence of Genocide and each character’s life story is a
part of the fate of the entire nation, brought to life by a Turkish author.

In 2001, the book was due to have been published by the Istanbul publishing
house. But a few months after signing the contract, Yalcin received a call
from the head of the publishing house, who told him that “according to the
order from above, we are not going to publish ‘You Rejoice My Heart’. We
have to wait”.

The author couldn’t wait and in the same year paid for his book to be
published in Germany with his own money. The first print run sold very
quickly and Yalcin sought help from Polis for a second run however, by that
time his book had disappeared from the publishing house.

The book eventually was published in German, Turkish and Armenian.

The book is on sale in Armenia at a cost of 1,500 drams (about $2.67). The
“Zangak” publishing house published it with a print run of 1,000 copies.

“This book became a unique bridge infusing us, Armenians, with hope that one
day the Turkish government or at least society will recognize the Armenian
Genocide,” says head of Union of Writers Levon Ananyan.

Several letters are included in the book. The author received them from
readers in different countries, almost all of them people who had somehow
escaped the Genocide. According to them, this book has eased their pain a
little.

A Dr Tuntcher Miski writes: “Eighty years have passed since the Armenian
events and only now a Turkish writer has managed to throw light upon them.
In this book, true victims, who were eyewitnesses, told about everything
they had suffered. And despite all their suffering and pains they will lend
a hand of peace to Turks.”

Prenta Pashar, an Armenian from Germany, writes that she has no words to
express her happiness and peace to the author of the book, adding: “I found
in your book a hope, which has been lost for a long time. Thanks to decent
intellectuals like you we will be able to heal the bloody wound of
Genocide.”

Graphic novel seeks to draw attention to Genocide

Silent Witness: Graphic novel seeks to draw attention to Genocide
30 April 2004

By Gayane Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow arts reporter

A new and for Armenia unique attempt at portraying the Genocide was
presented at the Artbridge bookstore-café in central Yerevan on the eve of
Genocide Remembrance Day.

A graphic novel in the style known best by its French title “Bande Dessinee”
has been produced through a collaboration by painter Tigran Mangasaryan and
director Ruben Tsaturyan. They plan a seven-volume work titled “Silence”.

“When our hero is asked about the bitter days of the Genocide he says he
cannot talk about it as it’s hard for him to recall everything that had
happened and he prefers silence,” explains Mangasaryan. According to him,
the terror was so big that it is inhumane to talk about it.

However, the authors have added another conceptual and ideological meaning
to their title. Says Mangasaryan: “With this book we tell the world that it
is time to start talking about those terrible days, we are going to break
the silence.”

With the aid of beautiful and observant graphics and an accurate, strained
storyline, the book portrays the life of the book’s young hero during the
1915 Genocide.

“Our characters, bearing symbolic names Harutiun and Haykuhi, are taken from
real life. There are many people who escaped the Genocide, but we chose
representative characters,” says Tsaturyan.

The Bande Dessinee style is not very common in Armenia. Mangasaryan and
Tsaturyan, who titled their first volume “A Letter from Constantinople” ,
believe it provides an easily accessible way of drawing attention to the
Genocide. Changing like frames of a film, the pictures in the book attract
the reader from the beginning with a dramatic story line.

“Visual art has much stronger and quicker influence than any scientific
book. If today we have no opportunities for making films then the second
most popular method is the graphic novel,” says Mangasaryan.

He says Armenians should learn from Jewish experience in raising the issue
of the Holocaust worldwide. One of the best-known Bande Dessinee novels is
“Mice”, which is claimed by some experts to have been more popular than
Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List. In it, mice wearing striped uniforms in
concentration camps represent Jews, cats bearing swastikas are Nazi Germans
and pigs betraying Jews are Poles.

The authors of the Armenian work are sure that this method of presenting the
bitter history of the Genocide is precisely right for people in developed
countries who simply have no time to read books.

“Besides, no matter how thoroughly you describe with the written word a Turk
‘s furious face, for whom slaughtering a child is just the same as
slaughtering chicken, this face must be drawn. People must not only imagine
these eyes they must see them to understand the unrecognized tragedy of a
whole nation,” believes Mangasaryan.

He acknowledges an apprehension here that if methods of presenting the
Genocide are not backed up with facts then they may lose their value. But
Mangasaryan is sure that an imaginative representation of reality will raise
the issue of Genocide recognition much more quickly and will have greater
influence.

“There are numerous documentary materials and fat books in the Genocide
Museum but who reads them? Even for me, who had to read some books for my
work, it was very difficult. Every time I tried to put it off and find other
sources,” says the painter.

At the back of every book, the authors decided to place one documentary
photo corresponding to the relevant events and a list of names of people who
became victims of the Genocide, with dates of birth and places of residence
(a list that will be completed only after the entire series – seven books –
is finished). There will be also a list of the countries that have
recognized the fact of Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey.

Lavrenti Barseghyan, the director of the Genocide Museum of Armenia,
welcomes the “Silence” graphic novel as very actual material. He says: “This
book is necessary not only for telling the world about our tragedy but also
for showing the young generation in Armenia and Diaspora the dark pages of
their nation. Even so, for me it’s hard to accept the fact that the new
generation doesn’t read much and is more interested in such visual means,
which are easy to perceive.”

This first book in the “Silence” series, containing more than 300 graphics
full of emotional and bright characters, has been sent to several publishing
houses in France.

Dramatic developments of the hero’s life will continue in the next book,
which authors have already named “The Letter on the Sand”. It will describe
the slaughter that took place in the desert of Der Zor.

Armenian Opposition Leader Views Council of Europe Discussions

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER VIEWS COUNCIL OF EUROPE DISCUSSIONS

Iravunk, Yerevan
30 Apr 04

Text of a telephone interview with Artashes Gegamyan, leader of the
Armenian opposition National Unity Party from Strasbourg in the
Armenian newspaper Iravunk on 30 April headlined “A resolution on
Armenia was adopted by PACE on 28 April”

(Yerkir correspondent) During these days the coalition member deputies
are often voicing (from the National Assembly rostrum as well) a view
that it was Armenians used to search for Tizbon (town in Iran) for a
long time, during the Soviet times it was Lenin’s mausoleum and the
Kremlin and today it is the Council of Europe.

(Artashes Gegamyan) Those who make such parallels are at least
political ignoramus. They do not understand what processes take place
in the 21st century world and in particular in Europe. I can surely
say that they are dealing with prostitution but not politics. If they
deal with politics, they would know that since 1 May the European
Union which will involve 25 member-countries, is developing a general
constitution and in all probability it will be confirmed this
year. Any country which does not even join the European Union, should
aspire to come closer to the European standards, if it wants its state
and people to have prospects and progress.

(Correspondent) How will you assess the PACE discussions on 28 April?

(Gegamyan) They were of a principal significance for Armenia, in
particular for those hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who want
the resignation of the present administration.

(Correspondent) In what sense?

(Gegamyan) In the sense that they heard the people’s voice in the PACE
session, about the events that took place in April, behind which
Robert Kocharyan stands. The events have become a subject of serious
discussion and 106 stood for its discussion. The last point of the
adopted resolution is evidence of the fact PACE allows in Armenia
significant regress from the pan-European values. It is not at all
accidental the authorities were given until September to stop the
barbarous actions and pressure against the opposition that were
mentioned in the resolution. They (Armenian authorities) were obliged
to keep human rights and freedoms, that is, organization of free
demonstrations and rallies and free movement right. They (PACE)
demanded the release of political prisoners immediately. They also
specially mentioned that the diplomatic immunity of PACE deputies
should be preserved.

(Correspondent) What did they mean?

(Gegamyan) They meant in particular a search in Shavarsh Kocharyan’s
and my flat and many hours examination by the workers of the
prosecutor’s office. (Passage omitted: He says that the Armenian
nation sticks to the European values, when it chose that way 1703
years ago and adopted Christianity on a state level and held to the
Christian values.)

This is the main symbol and main lesson.

(Correspondent) What was Russia’s position during the discussions?

(Gegamyan) The point is that Mr Zavgaev from the Russian delegation,
who is Chechen, made a speech. This is evidence of the fact that
unfortunately in Armenia Kocharyan relies on the criminal element, and
in the world sphere on famous functionaries, sirs,
Zavgaevs…(ellipsis as published)

(Correspondent) How will you comment on the fact that PACE registered
that the opposition should nevertheless start dialogue and that the
dialogue should take place in the National Assembly?

(Gegamyan) PACE will gradually see that there is the Kocharyan
administration in Armenia on the one hand and on the other there is
the Armenian nation. Naturally the Armenian nation has only one
language to talk to the occupant of power, that is a language of law.

(Correspondent) By the way, the authorities of Armenia have not
accepted the PACE report and resolution badly and are already trying
to express their satisfaction.

(Gegamyan) Naturally, one can understand them, as they know very well
what a shame took place in Armenia during the passed months, they also
know that any country that implemented only 10 per cent of their
actions would be withdrawn from the Council of Europe.

(Correspondent) But nevertheless we were not punished but given time
to correct our mistakes.

(Gegamyan) Naturally the given five months should raise inspiration in
the authorities. But we know very well what will take place in
September.

International Tourism Exhibit of Silk Road States Opens in Georgia

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM EXHIBITION OF SILK ROAD STATES OPENS IN GEORGIA

IRNA news agency, Tehran
30 Apr 04

BARADI’I

The 6th international tourism exhibition of Silk Road states kicked
off in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi on Thursday (29 April) in
cooperation of Iran’s five provinces.

According to Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister
Tamar Beruchasvili expressed satisfaction over active participation of
Iran’s Khorasan, Semnan, Zanjan, Qazvin and Golestan provinces and
called for establishing further ties between the two countries’
tourism organizations.

Meanwhile, Iran’s ambassador to Georgia stressed the importance of
cultural exchanges between the two countries and said Iran and Georgia
should use such opportunities to introduce their culture to each
other.

Tourism organizations from Iran, Turkey, Austria, Armenia, Albania,
Japan, Greece and Russia are attending the exhibition.

The ancient Silk Road, extending over 12,000 kms, was used by traders
of all nationalities from 100 B.C. to 15th century A.D. and linked
China, India, Iraq, Iran, Greece and Rome.