European parliamentary summit in Strasbourg debates:

European parliamentary summit in Strasbourg debates: ‘How democratic is our
democracy?’

Strasbourg, 10.05.2004 – More than 50 Speakers and presidents of parliament
from across Europe, as well as the heads of some ten European parliamentary
assemblies, gather in Strasbourg from 17 to 19 May 2004 for a parliamentary
summit on the theme “Europe of citizens: parliaments and participation of
citizens”.

Sub-themes of the biennial European Conference of Presidents of Parliaments,
hosted this year by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, include:
“How democratic is our democracy?”, ways in which modern technology can
improve democratic procedures, and co-operation between national parliaments
and European assemblies. Discussion is expected on the use of referenda and
plebiscites, the democratic deficit, low voter turnout in European elections
and e-voting, among other subjects.

Representatives of the parliaments of all 45 Council of Europe member
states1 and of three observer states2 have been invited, as well as the
Presidents of the European Parliament and the Assembly of the Western
European Union. The heads of the parliamentary bodies of the Benelux,
Central European Initiative, CIS, NATO, the Nordic Council, OSCE and PABSEC
have also been invited as observers. Academic experts will present
discussion papers.

On the fringes of the summit, there will be separate meetings of:
* Speakers from the parliaments of EU member and candidate countries
* Speakers from the parliaments of the Western European Union
* Speakers from the parliaments of the three South Caucasus countries:
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
* The Secretaries-General of the participating parliaments and assemblies

The first European Speakers’ conference was held in 1975, and it has taken
place every two years in recent times, hosted alternately in Strasbourg or
in the capital of a Council of Europe member state.

The conference is open to accredited press (contact +33 3 88 41 25 44 for
accreditation), with full press facilities available. The plenary session
begins at 9.30 am on Tuesday 18 May in the debating chamber of the Palais de
l’Europe, Strasbourg.

For further information, including a full programme and the conference
papers, see the conference website at

1. For bicameral parliaments, the Speakers of both chambers have been
invited to attend.
2. The Canadian Senate and House of Commons, Israeli Knesset and Mexican
Senate and Chamber of Representatives.

Press Release
Parliamentary Assembly Communication Unit
Ref: 226a04
Tel: +33 3 90 21 50 26
Fax :+33 3 90 21 41 34
[email protected]
internet:

The Parliamentary Assembly brings together 626 members from the national
parliaments of the 45 member states.
President: Peter Schieder (Austria, SOC); Secretary General of the Assembly:
Bruno Haller.
Political Groups: SOC (Socialist Group); EPP/CD (Group of the European
People’s Party); LDR (Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group);
EDG (European Democratic Group); UEL (Group of the Unified European Left).

http://assembly.coe.int/conference2004/.
www.coe.int/press

Make a Bitter Tale Better in the Caucasus

Make a Bitter Tale Better in the Caucasus
By THOMAS DE WAAL

Wall Street Journal
May 11, 2004

Ten years ago tomorrow a cease-fire halted a conflict that most of
the world has now forgotten. But the decade of quiet emanating from
the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline around Nagorno-Karabakh should
not deceive us that there is lasting peace there. Rather the reverse:
Over the last year the truce has been under strain and the threat of
a new war in the South Caucasus cannot be ignored.

It was right back in 1988 that the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh,
an Armenian-majority province inside Soviet Azerbaijan, became the
first slithering stone in the avalanche of nationalist quarrels that
ended up destroying the USSR. Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis claimed
the fertile, mountainous territory as their own, entirely rejecting
the other side’s attachment to it. In 1992, with nothing resolved,
two well-armed independent states of Armenia and Azerbaijan emerged
out of the two Soviet republics and pitched into full-scale war with
one another.

When exhaustion caused both sides to sign a cease-fire on May 12,
1994, the Armenians had won a costly victory. More than a million
people had been displaced, most of them Azerbaijanis. Both countries
had thoroughly cleansed themselves of the nationals of the other. The
Armenians were left in occupation of a vast swath of land, including
Karabakh itself, that comprises around 14% of the internationally
recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Perhaps 20,000 people were dead.

The unresolved conflict still exerts a dread influence over a wide
area between the Black and Caspian Seas. Armenia is economically
stunted by the decade-long closure of its two longest borders, with
Azerbaijan and Turkey. Azerbaijan is a wounded nation, still living
with the cost of hundreds of thousands of refugees. More insidiously,
the political culture of both countries has been poisoned by the
nationalist myths the war created.

The international negotiators from the U.S., France and Russia
cannot be faulted for creativity and have come up with a series of
different peace-plans that try to bridge the conflict. The one that
went the furthest was also the most daring: In Key West, Florida,
in the spring of 2001 a framework document was discussed by the
two presidents that envisaged Armenia allowing the return of 95%
of all Azerbaijani refugees to their homes and having a road built
across Armenian territory to the isolated Azerbaijani exclave
of Nakhichevan. In return, however, Azerbaijan would have had to
surrender Nagorno-Karabakh itself, with the exception of the town
of Shusha. Under Article Two of that document, Nagorno-Karabakh was
“transferred to the sovereignty of Armenia.” The human benefits of
that agreement would have been immense — but so were the political
risks for Azerbaijan.

The rest of the world still has reason to be concerned about
what happens in these mountains. Next door is the fragile state
of Georgia. A few dozen kilometers north of the cease-fire line,
construction has begun on the $3 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil
pipeline, the first big conduit for Caspian oil to pass to Europe. A
new conflict would blight the region and its prospects for another
generation — and unfortunately this cannot be entirely ruled out. In
the last six months, Azerbaijan has been gripped by an outbreak
of bellicose rhetoric toward the Armenians and calls to “liberate”
the lost territories.

What is to be done? In Azerbaijan, the new president Ilham Aliev,
a cultivated man, faces the difficult challenge of rejecting the
rhetoric of war in favor of compromise. The human cost of a new
war would be devastating: in even a limited conflict, Azerbaijan
would lose thousands of young men just in the thick minefields along
the front line; while the small beautiful province in the middle,
Nagorno-Karabakh, badly scarred by the relatively low-tech war of the
early ’90s, would likely be annihilated. On a purely practical level
Aliev will know — but needs reminding – that the $20 billion or so
Azerbaijan may yet earn from oil revenues in the next decade are far
better spent on social programs and business growth than on armaments.

The task facing the Armenians is less easily defined but just as
historic. It is to break out of a dangerously introspective predicament
and reach out to their neighbor in the Caucasus. To do this, they must
show far greater flexibility toward plans to repatriate hundreds of
thousands of displaced Azerbajanis to their former homes.

This sad conflict is actually soluble, if only the two sides can be
rescued from their isolation. Armenians and Azerbaijanis have far
more in common than, say, Israelis and Palestinians. Intermarriage
between the two communities used to be very high. The problem is
that for more than a decade now the two sides have barely engaged in
dialogue. Most astonishing to an outsider is that in all this time
Azerbaijan has not sat down and talked to the Karabakh Armenians —
whom after all it claims to be its own citizens.

This puts the international negotiators in a funny position. Of course
they must continue to work to maintain the cease-fire regime and work
on peace proposals. But their main job is somehow to be storytellers,
contradicting the bellicose and rejectionist language that issues from
the two ex-combatants, walled up in their prison-fortresses, with a
patiently told tale of how things could be different and Armenia and
Azerbaijan can still jointly come back to the community of nations.

Mr. de Waal, author of “Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through
Peace and War” (NYU Press, 2003), is Caucasus editor with the Institute
for War and Peace Reporting, IWPR.

Parliament Sitting Took Place

PARLIAMENT SITTING TOOK PLACE

A1 Plus | 16:12:02 | 10-05-2004 | Politics |

The bills in this week agenda for discussion and voting are more than
the legislative initiatives.

The bill on making changes to the Law on “State Pensions” envisages to
increase the pension for double-sided orphans from 7500 drams to 16500.

Energy Minister Armen Movsisyan introduced the issue on “Privileges to
be Granted to RF Enterprise” to the second reading. The privilege is
provided in case of VAT collecting as a result of property registration
of Hrazdan Heat Station. The sum makes $ 6,2 million.

The bills on making changes to Law on “Electoral Code” and Law on
“Lotto Games and Casinos” are entered on the agenda.

It is planned to discuss 13 bills postponed for 30 days. “Justice”
Bloc Secretary Viktor Dallaqyan is the author of 11 of them. He has
worked the bills on making changes to the Law on “Administrative Law
Breaches”, the bill on “Status of a Member of Armenian Parliament” etc.

After the break the Control Chamber will introduce its report.

At 6:00 PM the political consulting with participation of 7 parties
and groups will restart.

Strengthening victory

Strengthening victory

Yerkir
7 May 04

On May 9 we have another celebration of the victory. Today the Artsakh
war has passed o the legal field. The ultimate resolution depends on
the unity of our nation and elimination of barriers.

Today all the political forces should have in the agenda the
repopulation an strengthening of Artsakh. Land belongs to those who
live on it.

The 29th Congress of ARF Dashnaktsutiun has made the following
statements on Artsakh:

NKR (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic), being vitally connected with Armenia,
is characterized by the following aspects:

1. NKR pursues the goal of its legal recognition, has in the home
policy the issue of formulating the liberated territories and general
borders.

2. NKR faces the issue of forming political field.

3. NKR, together with statehood building, is ready to implement
investment projects and use opportunities of economic development.

Discussing the issue of ARF role in national, political, and
social life of Artsakh, the ARF 29th Congress adopted the following
resolution:

1. To forward the goals of Artsakh in foreign and home fronts. In our
steps we should issue from the guarantees of the security of Artsakh.

2. The international recognition of NKR is way for reunion with
Armenia.

3. To join the efforts of Armenia and the Diaspora to keep the issue
of Artsakh in frames of national self-determination mainly opposing
to Azerbaijani efforts of presenting the situation as a territorial
pretension conflict.

4. The state and society of Artsakh are defying the social, economic,
and political challenges. Consistent work must be done for reduction
of poverty, economic growth, and formation of political field.

5. To fight corruption, monopolies, and social injustice.

6. To use all means for promoting repopulation and reconstruction
of Artsakh.

ARF 29th General Congress, February 2004

Armenian president meets Lebanese leadership

Armenian president meets Lebanese leadership

Public Television of Armenia, Yerevan
10 May 04

[Presenter] Armenian President Robert Kocharyan is holding a meeting
today [10 May] with the Lebanese leadership in Beirut. Robert
Kocharyan left for Lebanon on a working visit, early this morning at
the invitation of Gen Emile Lahhud. According to official reports
it is expected that they will discuss the present situation of
the Armenian-Lebanese relations and the prospects of deepening of
friendly relations.

[Correspondent Lilit Setrakyan from the Beirut by telephone] The
Armenian president’s plane landed today at 1300, Yerevan time [0800
gmt] at Beirut International airport, where Lebanese President Emile
Lahhud met Robert Kocharyan. The Lebanese first lady, Andrea Lahhud
came to meet the Armenian president’s wife, Bella Kocharyan.

The presidents met warmly as old and best friends. Their mutual
relations have a long history and it was strengthened by the mutual
visits and an active participation in international organizations.

Lebanese President Emile Lahhud’s mother and wife are also Armenians,
which is playing an important role in warm Armenian-Lebanese
relations. Armenian President Robert Kocharyan’s official meetings for
the two-day working visit started today by a face-to-face meeting with
the Lebanese president. Dinner will be held after the official meeting
in honour of Mr and Mrs Kocharyan on behalf of the Lebanese president.

Robert Kocharyan will also pay visits today to historical and cultural
places.

Armenian president will not take part in June NATO summit

Armenian president will not take part in June NATO summit

Mediamax news agency
10 May 04

Yerevan, 10 May: The Armenian president will not take part in the NATO
summit in Istanbul in June [2004], the president’s press secretary
Ashot Kocharyan said in Yerevan today.

The Armenian president’s press secretary pointed out that the reason
for Robert Kocharyan’s decision not to take part in the NATO summit
in Istanbul is the “current state of Armenian-Turkish relations,”
Mediamax reports. He said that Armenia-NATO relations “develop
intensively” and recalled that Robert Kocharian took part in the last
two last summits of NATO and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
in Washington and Prague.

The president’s press secretary said that the meeting of Armenian
and Turkish Foreign Ministers held last year “did not give tangible
results.”

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan will represent Armenia at
the NATO Summit in Istanbul, Ashot Kocharyan noted.

Mediamax recalls that in autumn 1999, Armenian President Robert
Kocharyan took part in the OSCE Summit in Istanbul and met with his
Turkish counterpart Suleyman Demirel there.

Naming Armenian president “enemy of the press” absurd – press secret

Naming Armenian president “enemy of the press” absurd – press secretary

Mediamax news agency
10 May 04

Yerevan, 10 May: The decision of the National Press Club (NPC), having
awarded Armenian President Robert Kocharyan the title of “enemy of
the press”, was “absurd, one-sided and subjective,” President’s press
secretary Ashot Kocharyan said in Yerevan today.

Ashot Kocharyan said today that he did not find correct the actions of
a “group of journalists which acts as a part of the opposition forces
and is directly involved in political processes,” Mediamax reports.

On 3 May, the NPC awarded Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and
head of the parliamentary commission on science and education,
Hranush Hakopyan, the title of “enemy of the press.”

The NPC awarded Armenian President Robert Kocharian the title of
“enemy of the press” in 2002 and 2003 as well.

BAKU: Azeri opposition MP lauds Russia’s new “realistic policy”

Azeri opposition MP lauds Russia’s new “realistic policy”

ANS TV, Baku
10 May 04

In an interview with the Azerbaijani commercial channel ANS TV,
MP Asim Mollazada has commented on geopolitical changes in the
South Caucasus in the wake of the resolution of the Ajaria crisis in
Georgia. Mollazada blamed the military-industrial complex remaining
from the USSR for triggering conflicts in the region. He lauded the
US State Department’s “unequivolal stance” and Putin’s “realistic
policy” for their contribution in resolving regional conflicts. The
following is the text of report by Azerbaijani TV station ANS on 10
May; subheadings inserted editorially:

South Caucasus’ Euro-Atlantic integration

[Presenter] We have invited to the studio Asim Mollazada, an MP [from
the opposition People’s Front of Azerbaijan Party] and a member of
parliament’s commission on international affairs, to discuss the
geopolitical consequences of the Ajaria crisis.

What has changed in the Caucasus?

[Mollazada] In fact, the situation in the Caucasus changed
a long time ago. Simply, the decisions taken then are being
implemented now. Azerbaijan and Georgia must head for Europe. This
is unquestionable. Azerbaijan and Georgia must act in concert for
Euro-Atlantic integration of the South Caucasus. There must be
stability in the region because these two countries are involved in
large international projects. These two countries will form a corridor
joining the West and the East, and the North and the South and every
obstacle to this corridor will be removed.

I reckon that behind this stand not only the desires of the foreign
powers, but also the will of the peoples of Azerbaijan and Georgia. The
developments in Ajaria showed that [Georgian President Mikheil]
Saakashvili, who was elected by the will of the people, determinedly
and literally erased the person [presumably referring to Ajaria’s
former leader Aslan Abashidze] who was implicated in corruption,
and supporting banditry and mafia.

Stances of the US State Department and Russian military

[Presenter] So you mean that Abashidze’s factor was a serious hindrance
for the South Caucasus’ Euro-Atlantic integration?

[Mollazada] It was a significant obstacle. Look at his last actions,
when he felt that his rule was under threat, he planted explosives
in the oil terminal and blew up the bridges. The very essence of his
rule was against the people’s will. He was an obstacle to them and
to the processes under way in the world.

Other obstacles remain in the South Caucasus. There are unresolved
conflicts and potential ones (including the one in the predominantly
Armenian-populated Samtskhe-Javakheti province of Georgia). Naturally,
behind each conflict stand the interests of certain circles. If we
refer to the background of the conflicts in the South Caucasus, we
will see that there was a military unit involved in each of them. At
the time, Russia’s regiment in Xankandi [Stepanakert, now the centre
of breakaway Karabakh] played a role in the Azerbaijani-Armenian
conflict, as well as Russia’s military bases in Akhalkalaki [in
Samtskhe-Javakheti] and Batumi did. We see that the force which
triggered those processes and then played an active role in them is
the military-industrial complex which Russia has inherited from the
Soviet Union. Its interest is to make the South Caucasus unstable in
order to render necessary their own presence in the region. But that
time is over. The world’s superpower will now [he changes tack].

I believe that the Ajarian people and Saakashvili played an important
part in the peaceful resolution of the crisis. However, the unequivocal
position of the US State Department facilitated such a speedy course
of the events. The recent desire on the part of the USA and Russia to
resolve their mutual problems also had a role in this, I think. The
regime in Ajaria might have dragged on and caused a major bloodshed.

Predicting post-Ajaria developments

[Presenter] Why do the most of us in Azerbaijan, as well as in Georgia,
believe that this economic-political separatism in Ajaria has any
bearing on the ethnic separatism elsewhere in the Caucasus? These
are different phenomena, are not they? It was Georgians on the both
sides in Ajaria, whereas the situation in other conflict zones is
somewhat different. Why such optimism that this event will lead to
the resolution of other conflicts?

[Mollazada] Although you said that there was no ethnic difference
in Ajaria, there are some religious differences. Those differences
and those autonomies were created under the Soviet rule in the South
Caucasus as a land mine of sorts. Later, those autonomies were used
to create problems.

I believe that appropriate means will be used when other conflicts
are resolved. Clearly, there are changes under way in the world. Even
the criminal circles which rule Armenia are beginning to realize
that. During the debates in the Council of Europe bodies on the
situation in Armenia, the nature of that regime started to become
clear to everyone. For years we have talked about the crimes those
people had committed in Azerbaijan, but the Council of Europe did not
believe that we were unbiased. However, today it is the members of the
Armenian delegation who talk about the crimes committed by [Armenian
President] Robert Kocharyan’s regime within the country. The nature
of the regime and of those forces is dawning on the world.

I reckon that appropriate steps will be taken to resolve the remaining
conflicts within Georgia and first of all this will be done in
Ossetia because forces interested in retaining that conflict have
become weaker in Russia. In future, this will be done in Abkhazia.

As for the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict, although the stances of other
countries are important, I want to focus on one aspect. Azerbaijan
itself must become more active, more powerful and better able to
defend its interests on the international level. The strong army
of Azerbaijan will turn into the most important and most necessary
factor at any talks.

Russia’s new policy in South Caucasus

[Presenter] What about the forces interested in maintaining the
Nagornyy Karabakh conflict? Are they as strong as in 1990, or have
they become weaker, as is the case in South Ossetia?

[Mollazada] For sure, they are weaker now and they have to consider
this seriously. I want to recall the words Russian President Vladimir
Putin has said at State Duma. He said that in order not to lose
everything in the South Caucasus, Russia had to take an active part
in economic projects in the region and thus retain its positions.

I believe that this is a manifestation of Putin’s current realistic
policy. Should this realistic policy continue, Russia may obtain
more benefit from the South Caucasus through defending its economic
interests. I believe that forces which advocate instability will
become weaker.

Kadyrov’s assasination in Groznyy

Today’s [9 May] explosion in Groznyy [which killed pro-Russian Chechen
leader Akhmat Kadyrov] showed that a policy based on violence leads
nowhere and cannot yield a positive result. You see that the system
built on the long-term use of violence in Chechnya was destroyed in
a single day.

[Presenter] Thank you for coming to our studio.

Armenia president not to attend NATO summit in Istanbul

Armenia president not to attend NATO summit in Istanbul

ITAR-TASS, Russia
May 10 2004

YEREVAN, May 10 (Itar-Tass) -President Robert Kocharyan of Armenia
will not take part in the NATO summit in Istanbul late in June,
presidential press secretary Ashot Kocharyan said on Monday.

He said in an interview with Tass this decision “is explained by
the current state of Armenian-Turkish relations.” “No progress in
bilateral relations was seen in 2003,” the press secretary said.
“Armenia reiterates its readiness to improve relations with Turkey
without preliminary conditions,” he said.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan will represent the country
at Istanbul’s summit. The press secretary said relations between
Armenia and NATO “are developing on the line of ascent within the
framework of the ‘Partnership for Peace’ programme.”

He reminded that in 2003 the president visited Brussels, where he
met with high-ranking NATO officials as well as took part in NATO
summits in Washington and Prague.

BAKU: Georgians thankful to Heydar Aliyev & always honor his memory

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
May 10 2004

GEORGIAN PEOPLE THANKFUL TO HEYDAR ALIYEV AND ALWAYS HONORS HIS
MEMORY
[May 10, 2004, 16:31:48]

Chairman of Azerbaijan Parliament Murtuz Alaskarov received the
parliamentary delegation of Georgia on 9 May, AzerTAj reported.

Noting that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to the political,
economic and cultural links with the friendly and neighboring Georgia,
and that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum oil and gas
pipelines have enormous prospects for the region, Chairman of Milli
Majlis said that the fraternal relations between the two countries
founded by national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev have acquired
strategic partnership level.

But the existing regional conflicts, including the Armenia-Azerbaijan,
Nagorny Karabakh conflict seriously impede development of the Caucasus
countries, chairman of Azerbaijan Parliament stressed. “Azerbaijan
adheres peaceful way of settlement of these conflicts and in the
frame of territorial integrity of states”.

Touching upon development of the inter-parliamentary links Murtuz
Alaskarov underlined that the meetings held with the heads of
legislative body of Georgia and mutual visits serve further expansion
of existing cooperation.

Head of the delegation, chairman of the “Majoaritari” group in the
Georgian Parliament Jugeli Beso said that one of the goals of the
visit is to take part at celebration of the 81st jubilee of Heydar
Aliyev who has vast contributions in the development of relations
between our countries. “Heydar Aliyev is highly loved and honored in
Georgia, too. Just this person providing participation of Georgia
in some regional economic projects, has made colossal assistance
to development of Georgia. And therefore, the people of Georgia are
thankful to him and always revere his memory.

Noting that the political line of Heydar Aliyev is being continued
today, and dwelling on the regional conflicts, in particular, the
Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorny Karabakh conflict, Mr. Jugeli Beso said
that he supports settlement of the conflicts in the frame of principles
of territorial integrity of states. Underlining that the government
of Azerbaijan has achieved great accomplishments in the short period,
the visitor said that he would further make efforts for peace and
stability in the region, fore the fair solution of the conflicts,
as well as for the future development of cooperation between the
two countries.

During the talk, passed in a friendly atmosphere, also was exchanged
view on a number of issues of mutual interest.