Statement On Armenia Judicial Reform Project Implementation

STATEMENT ON ARMENIA JUDICIAL REFORM PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

A1 Plus | 21:04:06 | 03-06-2004 | Official |

YEREVAN, June 3, 2004. – Over the past weeks there has been growing
attention and public discussions surrounded the World Bank financed
Judicial Reform Project, approved by the Board of Directors of the
Bank in September, 2000. The debates were particularly focused on the
Supervision Report of the Chamber of Control of the National Assembly
that was prepared in the beginning of 2003 and recently presented to
the National Assembly.

The Bank realizes that the supervision and evaluation of the project
carried out by the Chamber of Control is an internal matter for
Armenia and it does not want to interfere in this process. However,
during some public appearances and interviews some officials made
specific references to the World Bank and have questioned some of
the fiduciary aspects and safeguards of this project. Given this
there is a need to explain the Bank’s official position on some of
the important project implementation aspects, and Roger Robinson,
Armenia Country Manager finds it necessary to provide the following
clarifications on some of the issues raised.

1. The World Bank attaches significant importance to the Judicial
Reforms in Armenia and as a development partner it intends to continue
supporting the Armenian authorities in this key area.

2. From the very beginning of the Project the World Bank has been
carrying out close monitoring and supervision of the project
implementation. Since the start of the Project the Bank has
conducted supervision missions at least twice a year during which it
discussed and reviewed the project implementation details with key
project counterparts, as well as with other stakeholders. During the
supervision missions the Bank’s team has agreed with the implementing
agency on any changes in the project design or components that are
necessary for effective implementation of the project activities and
which would contribute to the achievement of the Project Development
Objectives.

3. Unfortunately, due to various reasons the Project start was uneven
and there were delays in some of the important project components. The
Bank has always expressed its concern about the slow implementation
of the institutional development part of the project. However,
during the last year some positive progress has been recorded in this
complex area.

4. All the procurements and civil works under the Judicial Reform
Project have been designed and carried out according to the World Bank
procurement guidelines and procedures. For example, all civil works,
including court house rehabilitation, have been subject to rigorous
competitive tendering processes. These have been regularly reviewed
by the World Bank’s procurement specialists. No major deficiency or
violations of World Bank fiduciary regulations or procedures have been
found. In addition, the Bank’s financial management team conducts a
regular review and supervision of the Project Implementing Agency’s
financial management and control systems. No major problems have been
found in this area either.

5. The revision(reduction) of the number of court houses that are
supported under the Project was done in agreement with the Bank
team. Due to higher actual construction costs the initially allocated
budget was found insufficient for the rehabilitation of all planned
court houses. In response to the request of the Armenian Government the
Bank has in principal approved some reallocation within the project
components, which would allow to complete the rehabilitation of as
many court houses as possible.

In addition, the Bank has also agreed with the government’s request
to extend the Project’s Closing Date from December 31, 2004 till June
30, 2006.

Diocesan Council Chairman honored

PRESS OFFICE
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]
Website:

June 3, 2004
___________________

DADOURIAN RECEIVES ELLIS ISLAND MEDAL

Haig Dadourian, chairman of the Diocesan Council, was honored with
the Ellis Island Medal of Honor during a ceremony on Ellis Island,
on May 15, 2004.

The medal, presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations,
is presented to Americans of diverse origins for their contributions
to their own ethnic groups and to American society. About 3,500 people
are nominated for the medal each year.

Dadourian is an owner and director of the Dadourian Export Corporation.
He is also a real estate developer. A graduate of Columbia Business
School, Dadourian is also the past president and owner of Deluxe
Storage Systems, a manufacturer of commercial steel shelving and
storage equipment, and the InterRoyal Corporation, a maker of
commercial furniture.

He has served the community at the local level, at the St. Mary Church
of Livingston, NJ, as parish council member, assistant music director,
and delegate. He has also assumed a variety of leadership roles within
the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). Currently,
he is chairman of the Diocesan Council and a member of the Board of
Directors of the Armenian Church Endowment Fund, the Fund for Armenian
Relief, and St. Nersess Seminary.

Despite all his accomplishments, Dadourian said that when he was
onstage at Ellis Island being honored, he kept thinking of someone
else’s success.

“I was thinking of my father. I wish he were there, because he was the
one who went through the massacres, and went through Ellis Island as
a 10-year-old,” said Dadourian of his father, Dadour, who came from
the village of Gurin in historic Armenia. “He was more than just a
survivor. He became successful in this country and continued to be
very supportive of his church and his whole ethnic community.”

The Ellis Island Medal of Honor was created in 1986 to honor the many
ethnic groups who have made America a strong nation. More than 1,300
individuals have since been honored with the award since its inception.

The award is recognized by both the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives, and the names of award recipients are listed in the
Congressional Record.

“We need to recognize Armenians who have built successful lives in
America,” said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern
Diocese. “We need to praise them and show that they have made this
country richer, while honoring their ethnic origins and their church.”

— 6/03/04

# # #

www.armenianchurch.org

Stamp Out Corruption, U.S. Rock Star Tells Armenian Authorities

Scroll down 3/4 of the way on the website:

Source: 9-140504.asp

STAMP OUT CORRUPTION, U.S. ROCK STAR TELLS ARMENIAN AUTHORITIES

Serj Tankian, the lead singer of System of a Down, the world’s most
famous ethnic Armenian rock band, has added his voice to long-standing
calls for the eradication of widespread government corruption in
Armenia, singling it out as the most serious obstacle to the country’s
development. In an interview with RFE/RL, Tankian said bribery and
other corrupt practices are the main reason why fellow diasporans
in the United States and elsewhere in the world avoid large-scale
investments in their historic homeland.

“Corruption must be eliminated,” the U.S. rock star of Armenian descent
said from Los Angeles. “Like the Jews, Armenians have quite a strong
diaspora, which is always ready to help the homeland. But every time
diaspora Armenians work with businessmen in Armenia they encounter
many difficulties because of corruption, mafia, and various problems
with the government. Things must be more open because the country
needs investments.”

“The most important thing is that we return to the roots which the
Armenian people had before the Soviet times,” he added in fluent
Armenian. “That means we must put an end to political corruption,
the corrupt system and think about our people.”

Those comments revealed a new message in the political discourse
of the California-based band better-known for its advocacy of
international recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide and other,
more global causes. A vocal critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq,
Tankian teamed up with other American rock musicians in 2002 to form
Axis of Justice, a group fighting against corruption and standing up
for workers’ rights.

System of a Down’s commitment to genocide recognition found a new
outlet in a benefit show which the progressive-metal quartet staged
in a sold-out Los Angeles hall on 24 April, the day of the annual
remembrance of some 1.5 million Armenians killed in Ottoman Turkey. The
Souls Benefit concert aimed to raise U.S. rock fans’ awareness of the
tragedy. Proceeds from the concert have been donated to the Armenian
National Committee of America and other diaspora groups which have
been lobbying the U.S. Congress to officially recognize the mass
killings as genocide.

Tankian described the show as a big success. “Not only the concert but
media coverage of it have had a quite powerful impact,” he said. “We
have raised the issue of genocide recognition from the day of the
band’s creation [in 1995].”

Tankian revealed that he is aware of the political crisis in Armenia,
saying he hopes it will be sorted out by “democratic and political
means.” “I think it’s very important for people to stand up for their
rights,” he said in an apparent reference to the recent antigovernment
demonstrations in Yerevan.

Tankian said he visited Armenia on a private trip two year ago and
would like to go there again with System of a Down’s three other ethnic
Armenian members. “We would like to come and we would like to throw a
very good concert and maybe even record a live DVD album. But we have
not yet planned the details and it is still not clear when,” he said,
adding that “one or two years” is the most realistic time frame.

In the meantime, System of a Down will work on its new album which
is due be released by the end of this year. Its new hits, according
to Tankian, will maintain the blend of traditional Armenian tunes
and modern rhythms. “Armenian music is part of our identity,” the
singer said. “We don’t need to spend time on a particular kind of
music because whatever we do, Armenian music will be in it.” (Anna
Saghabalian)

http://www.rferl.org/reports/caucasus-report/2004/05/1

Rome and Moscow: a willing separation?

AsiaNews.it, Italy
June 3 2004

Rome and Moscow: a willing separation?
by Vladimir Rozanskij

Proselytism is a trivial problem compared to necessity of
evangelising the world. A Russian expert analyses the results
obtained by the Orthodox-Catholic Group.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Walter Kasper’s recent visit to Russia
is beginning to be show its first fruits. Probably, the most important
result of the trip is the organisation of the Joint (Orthodox-Catholic)
Working Group. The Joint Group, which started its activity in May,
is established to analyse the various existing controversies between
the two Churches, and to suggest possible solutions.

Members of the group unofficially reported that the relationship
between the Catholic and Orthodox participants was welcoming
and friendly, despite the difficult issues that the Group had to
discuss: the legitimacy of the “acts of proselytism” on the part of
the catholic Church in the 15 years since the borders to the former
Soviet countries opened.

The peaceful atmosphere that pervaded the Group’s meetings does
not spring from any great achievement, but from the spirit of
diversity that animates the protagonists of this new season of
ecumenical dialogue. Almost with a sense of freedom, in fact, the
representatives of the two sister-Churches were asked neither to work
for a re-unification, nor to organise improbable meetings between
their highest ecclesial authorities. The task is not so difficult,
and corresponds to the present reality: The Churches will take an
inventory of the rights and wrongs of the relationship between the
two ecclesiastical communities with a view to avoid ‘stepping on each
other’s toes’ in the future.

More than to ‘reunite the family’, as it were, this step is more
like asking lawyers to divide assets and define the terms of
the mutual, willing separation between two parties. Despite the
doctrine of marriage (which in the Orthodox Church is not as strict
as in Catholicism), nowadays even Catholics seem to appreciate the
advantages of a peaceful “separation”. Before Vatican II the Catholic
Church referred to Christians of other denominations as “dissidents”.
After the Council they became “brothers” (even if affected by some
minor imperfections), to be welcomed back home. Now, it looks like
they are turning into “willing divorcees”.

“Microscopic” proselytism

Therefore, the Group discussed ‘concrete things’, listing the names
and surnames of those who have offended and betrayed the mission
of the Churches. In truth, it would have been better if the Group
had considered some important statistics as well, to give the true
dimensions of the problem of ‘Catholic proselytism’. In Russia there
are officially 500,000 Catholics, but only 50,000 of them actually go
to church. Most important, there are only 5,000 Russians who turned
to the Church of Rome without having any kind of Catholic tradition
in their families (ie. A German or Polish grandmother). Among them,
only 2,000 had some link with the Orthodox Church in their past. In
Russia live 150 million people.

Truthfully, the Group considered some statistics. An orthodox
representative quoted the “offensive” words spoken by Verbist Fr.
Jerzy Jagodzinski, who questioned the Orthodox nature of the Russian
population observing that, “only 1.2% of people in Moscow participated
to the Easter celebrations”, 120,000 out of 10 million. Actually,
Jagodzinski was being generous with the Orthodox church: Moscow’s
authorities confirmed that “for Easter less than 1% of the population
attended any kind of religious service”. In the last ten years, there
are twenty times more churches than there was under communism, with
building being built or re-opened. Yet in relation to the immediate
post-communism years, only one third of people now attend the services.

Ultimately, it seems that the practical things discussed by the
Group concern only “those provincial reports of strategic activities
to convert people of Orthodox roots to another faith and another
culture.” According to Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Orthodox
delegation.. These kind of ‘provincial reports’ is a constant in
Russian history, which prefers ‘informing’ and secret accusations to
flagrant crimes. The Group was informed of supposed grave violations
that happened in remote locations, above all in the Siberian city of
Novosibirsk. Here Catholics are believed to be have been incited in
various sectors, especially within schools, hospitals, universities
and through TV programs. It is important to notice that Novosibirsk,
which is 4.000 km away from Moscow, was the place of deportation of
those considered dangerous by the Communist regime- free-thinkers and
undesirable ethnicities. German Catholics built their church there in
Soviet times. The Catholic activities, therefore, must be explained
in context of the Catholic roots of many living there.

In truth, the real reason behind the reports is something else.
Novosibirsk in fact is a city were Jesuits have concentrated their
efforts, the “Catholic devils” of Russian literature, an expression
of the inferiority complex of the Orthodox towards Western culture.
The local bishop, Mons. Jozif Werth, (a Russian German) is a Jesuit
himself and has called many in his Community to collaborate with him,
excluding the invitation, however, to Jesuits of the eastern rites, in
order not to provoke the distrust of Orthodox authorities. It is as if
the Orthodox Church would say, ‘They have tried again to convert us,
this time starting from the extreme peripheries. But again, we have
unmasked them!’

Targeting children’s activities

Another point of attack of the Orthodox Inquisition are “activities for
children”. Here and there, (in fact, always in the most inaccessible
places: Murmansk, Angarsk, Sakhalin) Catholics have been accused
of using schools and orphanages “for profit”, to take the souls of
those who would be the future sons of Orthodoxy. The fathers of the
Work Don Calabria would be the worst ones. According to Orthodox
authorities, these priests used to meet in a secret place not far
from Moscow airport, in order to organise their plots against the
local church. Actually, the fathers (from Verona) invested a large
amount of money, more than all the money from their Brazilian and
African missions combined, to buy and restore a completely abandoned
tourist center. They wanted to transform it into a modern school,
with independent heating. After 10 years, they have not still not
obtained the permission to open the school. They wanted was to
show the Russian people that Christians can propose an educational
method which is absolutely “secular” in its nature and appreciated
in the world. Paradoxically, they ended up in becoming the symbol of
Catholic proselytism, without even having begun their work. Today
the Rodnichock Center, run by the Fathers, is used only by groups
of children who are always escorted by their lay tutors. The Fathers
entirely pay for their vacations, but not even a single one of these
children has become Catholic.

Fr. Igor Kovalevskij (head of the Catholic delegation of the Group)
has held the role of the peacemaker. He acknowledged that “there are
some cases that have generated misunderstandings, as they could be
interpreted as acts of proselytism”. Patriarch Aleksij II has taken
advantage of Fr. Kovalevskij’s words by declaring, in the presence of
Pierferdinando Casini (the President of the Italian Congress) that
“for the first time their was official recognition of the existence
of the problem of proselytism in the territory of the Patriarchy of
Moscow, above all on the part of religious orders”. We don’t know how
much MP Casini has appreciated these updates of the Joint Working
Group. What is certain is that Orthodox authorities have always
been suspicious about religious orders. Probably, they cannot fully
understand either the independence of the orders from the dioceses
(such thing does not exist in the East), or their missionary nature
(and almost all the Orders have the word ‘missionary’ in their name).
It is not a coincidence that in the past someone accused even the
Indian nuns of Mother Theresa- who were called to Armenia by the
government after the earthquake of 1998- or proselytising.

Evangelisation

In truth, Kovalevskij emphasised that the Catholic Church rejects
proselytism at every level. He added that the Catholic Church has
no intention to proselytise in Russia, as this is a country where
it is not necessary to spread the Gospel. After all, Russia has a
long Christian tradition. It is not the situation of New Guinea or
an African country where it is necessary to preach the Gospel. These
affirmations seem to be not in line with the real situation of the
country. Kovalevskij concluded by saying that “our relationships
with the Orthodox church are cold, but it is not winter yet”, echoing
Patriarch Aleksij who declared that “there are some clouds” over our
relationship. In this way, with the use of these weather metaphors,
the ecumenical dialogue has taken a new direction, to divide itself
peacefully rather than to unite. Perhaps one can see also the design
of Divine Providence, useful, not only to define new connections
between Christians, but also into affect conflicts on an international
level. Psychological and spiritual confines, more than geographical
and political ones, show the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel of
unity and peace in a world upset by conflicts and accusations for
so long. Only in this Gospel will we be able to find our proper
“ecclesial territories”.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Priest defies Israel’s ‘separation wall’

Priest defies Israel’s ‘separation wall’

Worldwide Faith News (press release)
June 3 2004

World Council of Churches 7 Feature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 03/06/2004 – feat-04-12

“These are my guests, and this is my house”
Priest defies Israel’s ‘separation wall’

By Larry Fata

Free short video and photos available, see below.

“No! These are my guests, and this is my house!” The admonition is
delivered to Israeli soldiers attempting to stop a group of Palestinian
women crossing the grounds of a monastery. The messenger is Father Claudio
Ghilardi, a Passionist priest from Italy. His message is clear: at least
as far as the monastery grounds are concerned, he will not permit the
harassment of Palestinians by soldiers. The soldiers desist as long as
Father Claudio is present. The Palestinians continue on their way,
attempting to cross the monastery and reach Jerusalem on the other side.
The continuation of their journey depends on whether soldiers are waiting
at the exit, but at least they were able to get this far, thanks to Father
Claudio’s intervention.

Father Claudio cuts an elegant figure in his long black robe and matching
black beret. He seems weary on this particular day, however. He relates
how he has been chasing Israeli border police off the grounds and dealing
with soldiers all morning. The source of his weariness can be seen looming
in the distance; it is Israel’s “separation wall.” An ugly concrete
behemoth standing about 30 feet (nine metres) tall, dwarfing the much
smaller but more aesthetically pleasing stone monastery walls, the
“separation wall” stands poised to invade, as the two gaping holes in the
monastery wall attest. For now, work has stopped only a few feet from the
monastery grounds, thanks in part to the interventions of both the Italian
consul and the Vatican apostolic nuncio, but much damage has already been
done. And Father Claudio does not think that this reprieve will last for
very long. “This is not a barrier,” he exclaims. “This is a border. Why
don’t they speak the truth?”

The Santa Marta dei Padri Passionisti monastery is located at the
confluence of East Jerusalem, Abu Dis and Al-Izariyyeh (Bethany), the
latter the biblical home of the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother
Lazarus. It seems that the Israeli authorities want to build their wall
right through the monastery grounds, in contravention of the 1997 agreement
between the State of Israel and the Vatican respecting ecclesiastical
property. Not only will the people of Bethany, Abu Dis and parts of East
Jerusalem be cut off from the rest of Jerusalem economically, but the 2,000
Christians living in the vicinity of the monastery will lose their
spiritual centre as well.

Father Claudio’s church, named for St Martha, is now empty. The faithful
are not allowed to come to the church because it is situated on the
Jerusalem side of the grounds. They can enter the monastery on the Bethany
side but are not allowed, when soldiers or police are present, to approach
the Jerusalem side where they could conceivably exit. Many of the
Christians who used to fill the church come from the bordering towns of Abu
Dis and Bethany, and most lack the permits to enter Jerusalem. Due to
these conditions, Father Claudio celebrates mass where they are allowed to
go in a church belonging to the neighbouring Comboni sisters’ convent on
the Bethany side.

The monastery forms the centre of a Catholic “complex” that includes three
nearby convents. The Sisters of Charity run an orphanage for 45 children;
the Comboni Sisters have a school for 38 elementary-aged students; and the
Sisters of Notre Dame de Douleurs in Abu Dis have a rest home for 74
elderly Bedouins. The convents and the people they serve will be cut off
from each other and from Father Claudio.

On top of all the religious and property issues, there is the matter of the
archaeological importance of the grounds. The monastery is the site of
some large cisterns dating back to Roman times and 12 large tombs belonging
to members of the early Jewish-Christian community, with inscriptions in
Aramaic. Some of these finds have been disturbed or damaged by the
activities surrounding the construction of the wall. “When they came, they
damaged these sites,” Father Claudio says. “The government does not
respect the history of this land * a history that is important to the
Jewish people as well.”

Much has been said by the Israeli government about its need for a wall to
stop terrorist attacks within its pre-1967 borders. Much has been written
criticizing the placement of the wall in some places deep within the West
Bank, de facto annexing much Palestinian land. Israel has stated that the
“separation fence” or “barrier,” as the government prefers to call it, is
necessary to separate Israelis from Palestinians.

Even if one accepts the government’s argument that the wall is necessary
for Israel’s security, most Palestinians can’t understand why it has to go
through this area. “There are no Jews here. It’s not going to separate
Jews from Palestinians. It will separate Palestinians from Palestinians,”
comments Emad, who currently holds a Jerusalem ID and can make the short
walk to get to work, but will be unable to do so if the wall through the
monastery is completed.

And what will the wall do to the dwindling Christian community in the Holy
Land? Christians once made up a thriving and healthy 10-15% of the
Palestinian population. They now are officially only 2%, and some say that
the actual figure is closer to 1%. Building a wall right through the
monastery, separating Christians from their church and community services,
will only cause the further exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.

“We have lived here for over 100 years, under Turkish, British, Jordanian
and now Israeli governments, and no one ever tried to stop the people from
coming to pray. This wall will stop people from coming to church to pray.
Why? It is scandalous,” protests Father Claudio.

Israel has denied charges that it is trying to force the churches out, but
its recent policy denying most visa applications for clergy and lay church
workers, making it difficult if not impossible for the churches to continue
their work, will also cause erosion in the Christian community here.

Despite difficulties, Father Claudio vows to stay

Driving along the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives on our way to see
Father Claudio, we pass Beit Fage (Bethpage), where Jesus stopped to eat
some figs on his way into Jerusalem. It is from here that Christians begin
their Holy Week celebrations on Palm Sunday, following in the footsteps of
Christ as he descended from the top of the Mount of Olives and into the Old
City of Jerusalem. Soon, Bethpage will be cut off from many of the
Christian communities outside Jerusalem because of the wall, making the
Palm Sunday procession an endangered tradition for the local population.

Upon arriving in the area known locally as “Bawabe,” we can immediately see
part of Father Claudio’s problem. A temporary concrete wall blocks the
road that used to connect East Jerusalem with Bethany. There is a small
opening where, today, a soldier is checking IDs. This wall runs
perpendicular with the monastery, meaning that part of the property is on
what would be the Jerusalem side of the wall and part on the other side.
The wall is covered with graffiti: “Love God, love people;” “Peace comes
by agreement not separation;” and “God leads us to peace.” Going towards
Bethany and Abu Dis is not a problem, and the soldier pays us no mind, nor
does he pay any mind to the Palestinian students crossing on their way to
Al Quds University or the many other Palestinians going in that direction.
But he checks all the IDs of the Palestinians coming into Jerusalem. Those
without the blue Jerusalem ID or the proper permits are not allowed
passage.

There is a sea of taxis and mini-vans that serve as shared taxis here, on
both sides of the Bawabe wall. There are also makeshift stands selling
everything from fruit and vegetables to shoes and t-shirts. These
entrepreneurs try to take advantage of the foot traffic Israel has created
with its plethora of checkpoints; it is a booming cottage industry of sorts
in an area that has an unemployment rate of 60% or higher. We make our way
through the crowd, to enter the seeming oasis of peace and tranquility that
is the Santa Marta dei Padri Passionisti monastery.

The grounds are actually a beehive of activity. There are soldiers all over
the place attempting to stop Palestinians, and Father Claudio is
intervening on behalf of his “guests.” Members of the Ecumenical
Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) are acting as
witnesses and advocates. All this in a beautiful pastoral field dotted
with olive, almond and pine trees that, at this moment, is simply
pandemonium.

Mostly, the Palestinians trying to cross are people who work in Jerusalem
but don’t have the proper permits. There are also people crossing to get
medical attention, since facilities in some parts of the West Bank are few
and far between. This morning, Father Claudio was woken up at 4 a.m. by
the sounds of tear gas being fired by border police in what is essentially
his back yard. Soldiers have been maintaining a constant presence on the
grounds, and recently, the border police have started making regular
appearances as well.

“These people help me when the soldiers are in the area,” Father Claudio
says, referring to the Ecumenical Accompaniers. Alexandra Rigby-Smith, an
accompanier from Sweden, was working at the monastery today. “Many of the
people were scared,” she said. “We tried to help them get past the
soldiers so they could go to work, the hospital, university, to see family,
etc. One Bedouin woman was shaking, she was so nervous. We were able to
get some people through, but one pregnant woman, who was on her way to the
doctor, was refused a pass. That was very frustrating.”

Father Claudio tells us that a few months ago, soldiers found explosives on
one of the Palestinians crossing the monastery. But he doesn’t see that as
a reason for collectively punishing the entire community. One of the
soldiers tells a member of our group that the Palestinians dug a tunnel
below the monastery grounds to bring explosives into Jerusalem. We
inspected the “tunnel”, and there is definitely an opening large enough for
a person to get through, but not much more.

For Father Claudio, it is hardly surprising that people try any way to get
to the other side where they can find work: “The father of one family I
know with eight children hasn’t worked in one month. I help them
spiritually and I give them some food. Much more than that, I cannot
do.”

But Father Claudio does do much more. People see the monastery as a safe
haven. The sick come to him and he takes them to the hospital in his car,
using his status to get around the closures. He has had to rush women in
labour to the hospital as well. Were it not for him, these women would
have had to deliver their babies at home, a situation that adds to the
infant mortality rate in Palestine. The people call him “abuna” – our
father – even if they are not Christian.

But even Father Claudio is not always able to circumvent the authorities,
and he’s not immune from the troubles either. He shows us a scar on his
arm. “This was a gift from the army,” he tells us. “They fired tear gas
and it hit me right here.”

Father Claudio takes us around the monastery on an impromptu tour, pointing
to buildings owned by the Latin Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Greek Orthodox
and Anglican Churches. Some of the buildings are used as low-cost housing
for local Palestinian Christians. The wall will separate all of these
community centres.

All the while our group is walking along a dirt path between the rows of
olive trees, Palestinians are scurrying by us in the other direction trying
to cross. Soldiers are stopping them and the ecumenical accompaniers are
advocating for them. When Father Claudio comes by, he tells the soldiers
not to bother the Palestinians and, curiously, they listen without
argument. Of course, he can’t intervene on behalf of every Palestinian who
tries to cross and he can’t be present at all times.

“This wall doesn’t respect the human rights of the Palestinian people,”
Father Claudio says. “It doesn’t respect private property because the
Israeli government takes the land to build it. It is not the land of the
government, it is the land of poor people. What more do they want from
these people?”

Father Claudio gets some help with the many caretaking chores from another
Italian priest from Abu Dis. Otherwise, he is essentially alone, but it was
not always this way. Before the outbreak of the current Intifada in 2000,
there were five priests living in the monastery with him. They all left
because of the fear and uncertainty caused by the situation. When asked if
he will be forced to leave as well, he replies defiantly: “The only way I
will leave is if they kill me. This is my home. These people are my family.”

Our tour ended at Father Claudio’s church, where the absence of worshippers
is symbolic of the disappearing presence of Christians in the Holy Land.
Located just a few hundred metres away is the traditional site where the
Gospel tells us Jesus called into the tomb of Lazarus and brought him back
from the dead. If the wall is completed, it may take a miracle of a
similar magnitude to bring back the Christian community here.

Larry Fata, a Catholic teacher and journalist from USA is managing editor
and communication officer of the EAPPI.

A free short movie (3 min., 50 Mb) featuring Father Claudio is available
at:
> News & Updates > Catholic monastery could be divided
by
wall or click on this Link

Free high resolution photos are available at:

Media contact in Jerusalem: Cathy Nichols, Phone +972 2 628 9402

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)
was launched in August 2002. Ecumenical accompaniers monitor and
report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,
support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and
Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection
through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy,
and stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling
against the occupation. The programme is co-ordinated by the World
Council of Churches. Website:

For more information contact:
Media Relations Office
tel: (+41 22) 791 64 21 / (+41 22) 791 61 53
e-mail:[email protected]

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 120 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly,
which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally
inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by
general secretary Samuel Kobia from the Methodist church in Kenya.

http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/palestine/abu-dis-photos.html
http://www.wcc-coe.org
www.eappi.org
www.eappi.org

BAKU: Parliament news

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
June 3 2004

PARLIAMENT NEWS
[June 03, 2004, 17:08:31]

As was informed by AzerTAj, the delegation led by the deputy of
parliament of Israel Amnion Cohen on June 2 has met Samad Seyidov,
the chairman of standing committee of Milli Majlis on the international
links and inter-parliamentary relations.

Having welcomed the visitors, Mr. Seyidov has told about development
of relations between our countries in political, economic and cultural
areas. He has noted that today Azerbaijan develops both in economic and
political relations and is interested in expansion of the international
links and cooperation.

Then chairman of the Committee has in detail informed on the reasons
of occurrence of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorny Karabakh conflict,
the fair position of official Baku in connection with settlement of
the problem.

Mr. Amnion Cohen has noted that the purpose of arrival to Azerbaijan
consists in participation in the 11th International Exhibition –
Conference “Caspian Oil-Gas – 2004 ” in Baku Alongside with it,
they are going to carry out a number of bilateral meetings and have
exchange of opinions concerning development of our communications.

The purpose of the said meeting consists of discussion of prospects
of expansion of inter-parliamentary cooperation.

The visitor also has emphasized, that Israel supports the fair position
of Azerbaijan on settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict.

Then, the parties had comprehensive exchange of opinions on other
questions representing mutual interest.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: Delegation of Az made proposals in final document on”Refugees,

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
June 3 2004

DELEGATION OF AZERBAIJAN MADE PROPOSALS IN THE FINAL DOCUMENT ON
TOPIC “REFUGEES, MIGRATION AND PROTECTION” IN MINSK
[June 03, 2004, 20:24:35]

As was informed by AzerTAj, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees,
the International Organization of migration, the Council of Europe
and OSCE held a meeting in Minsk on the topic “Refugees, migration
and protection”.

Our country on this action was presented by the head of delegation
Gurban Sadygov, the head of department of migration of the Ministry
of Labor and Social Security of population Rauf Tagiyev, the head
of department of the Frontier Service Akif Shafiyev, the inspector
of Management of passport registration of the Ministry of Internal
Affairs Vugar Zeynalov who spoke of refugee problems, the IDPs and
migration of the Cabinet of the Azerbaijan Republic, and also as
the observer – the head of the department of the State Committee on
refugees and IDPs Telman Mammadov and others.

The head of delegation of Azerbaijan G. Sadygov in his statement has in
detail told about the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorny Karabakh conflict,
about the refugees and IDPs who became refugees in result of the
ethnic purge pursued by Armenia, the measures which are carried out by
our state in connection with their social protection, the situation
developed in the field of migration, scales of the conflict, support
of the international organizations in settlement of the problem.

Under the offer of delegation of Azerbaijan, to the project of the
final document adopted at the meeting has been amended with a new
paragraph under the name “Safety of the person and the IDPs” and some
items, responding to interests of our country.

Within the framework of action, were held meetings with representatives
of high rank representatives of the international organizations,
and discussed were questions and opportunities of development of
cooperation.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: One-on-one meeting of Aliyev & Kuchma

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
June 3 2004

ONE-ON-ONE MEETING OF PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN ILHAM ALIYEV AND
PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE LEONID KUCHMA
[June 03, 2004, 22:57:13]

President Leonid Kuchma and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev had
a one-on-one meeting at the residence of the President of Ukraine on
3 June, AzerTAj correspondents reported.

President Ilham Aliyev thanked to President Leonid Kuchma for
invitation on a state visit to Ukraine and expressed hope that the
current visit would play important role in development of relations
between the two countries. Expressing his gratitude to the Ukrainian
leader for erection of monument to the national leader of Azerbaijan
people Heydar Aliyev in Kiev, Head of Azerbaijan State said that just
thanks to the efforts of President Heydar Aliyev President Leonid
Kuchma the bilateral relations between the two countries developed
speedy. As was noted the cooperation of the two countries in the
frame of international organizations is also high level. President
Ilham Aliyev also underlined his satisfaction with the economic links,
goods turnover and realization of joint projects.

Noting exclusive role of President Heydar Aliyev in development of
the relations between Azerbaijan and Ukraine, President Kuchma said
that he always remembers him.

Touching upon the prospects of the bilateral relations, the state visit
of President Ilham Aliyev and the documents to be signed, including
the joint Statement the Presidents will sign, President Leonid Kuchma
said that this visit would open a new phase in the bilateral relations.

During the meeting, discussed were issues of cooperation in the
trade-economic relations, including in transportation of the oil
and energy carriers to Europe, international problems, cooperation
issues in the frame of GUUAM, mutual links with the European Union
and NATO, and exchange views on political, socio-economic situation
in both countries. The Heads of State also focused settlement of the
Armenian-Azerbaijan, Nagorny Karabakh conflict. President Leonid
Kuchma stated that Ukraine adheres to peaceful resolution to the
problem, supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and would do
it henceforth.

Cafesjian, Junior Achievement, Orran,Armenia TV Team Up To Celebrate

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Junior Achievement of Armenia
4/6 Saryan street,
Yerevan 375009, Armenia
Tel: (+374 – 1) 54.49.96
E-mail: [email protected]
Website:

June 2, 2004

CAFESJIAN, JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT, ORRAN, ARMENIA TV TEAM UP TO CELEBRATE
CHILDREN’S DAY

Yerevan–“Children for Children” was the theme on June 1 at the
Gerard L. Cafesjian Center for the Arts, known here as the Cascade,
where International Children’s Day celebrations and lessons about
love and benevolence went hand in hand.

The festivities began in the early evening with circus acts,
puppet shows, and dance and song performances from the Karakert
Village Dance Troupe as well as many other groups from across the
Republic. Thousands of children participated in games, activities,
and spontaneous performances throughout the night.

The children, their families, and visiting guests and dignitaries
were treated to a live late-night concert, with the country’s most
popular singers such as Nune Yesayan, Shushan Petrosian, Alla Levonian,
Arthur Ispirian, and many others filling the air with Armenian song
and soul. A spectacular fireworks show concluded a festival that was
unprecedented in its scope and dimension.

The real success, however, was in the message of the day. Organized by
the Cafesjian Family Foundation, Junior Achievement of Armenia, Orran
Benevolent Union, and Armenia TV with the intention of promoting the
spirit of giving, the partners reached out to Armenia’s most promising
group of children: Junior Achievers.

Junior Achievement of Armenia, an affiliate of Junior Achievement
worldwide, assists high school students in learning about all aspects
of running a business. From marketing to production and distribution,
these students study and put into practice the ABC’s of free market
economics.

While the nation celebrated one of its happiest days of the year,
Junior Achievers decided in their turn to help other children
in need, and in particular the young beneficiaries of Orran, an
organization that assists vagrant children. As part of the Children’s
Day celebration along the Cascade, over thirty of the most active
Junior Achievement classrooms from Armenia’s schools decided to hold
a public sale of hand-made goods and wares and to donate all profits
for the day to charity organizations devoted to children.

Armine K. Hovannisian, executive director of Junior Achievement of
Armenia and founder of Orran, summed up the meaning of the day:
“We wanted the children to have a great festival and to enjoy
themselves. We also wanted to create the opportunity for them to show
off the results of their many months of labor and to make a public
statement about caring and helping those who are less fortunate.”

What turned out to be a festive occasion with thousands of smiling
children was in fact a lesson of benevolence which needs to be
practiced not only in Yerevan but throughout the Armenian world.

For more information, visit the Cafesjian Family Foundation at
; Junior Achievement of Armenia at ;
and Orran Children’s Center [or Orran Benevolent Union] at

www.jaarmenia.org
www.cmf.am
www.jaarmenia.org
www.orran.am

Primate Presides Over 100th Anniversary Of St. Mary Armenian Church

PRESS OFFICE
ARMENIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA WESTERN DIOCESE
3325 North Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91504
Tel: (818) 558-7474
Fax: (818) 558-6333
E-mail: [email protected]
Website:

COMMUNIQUÉ

PRIMATE PRESIDES OVER 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF ST. MARY ARMENIAN CHURCH IN YETTEM

On Sunday, May 30, 2004 His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian,
Primate of the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese,
presided over the 100th Anniversary celebration of St. Mary Armenian
Church in Yettem. One hundred years ago, when the community of Yettem
was first established, services were held in the garden. In the same
tradition, on May 30, Morning Services began in the garden, after which
the Primate celebrated Divine Liturgy in the church. In his Sermon the
Primate addressed the faithful community of Yettem with the words,
“Today we are challenged with two celebrations.” Pentecost and the
100th Anniversary of St. Mary Armenian Church. The two celebrations
invite us to a new life, so that we may live a Christ-like life in
the community.^Ô

In the evening a banquet was held in celebration of the 100th
Anniversary, which included remarks by the Parish Council Chairman
Mr. Hartune Neffian, as well as by Anahid Soxman and Ed Tellalian.
Following, Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, Pastor of St. Mary Armenian
Church, addressed the faithful in attendance and congratulated all
those who have served the church over the past years.

The closing remarks of the banquet were delivered by the Primate,
who inspired the faithful with his touching address. Below is the
message of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.

“Pentecost has been spiritually the most enriching moment in the life
of Christ’s apostles. After the Ascension as they gathered in the
upper room the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they were filled
with the Spirit. The Spirit transfigured the lives of the apostles
and led them to preach the Word of God and become witnesses of Christ.

As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, we are all filled with the
power of the Spirit and strengthened with the vision to become the
new apostles of the new times. Today the Holy Spirit descends into
the depths of our souls. It is only through our prayerful life that
we are able to grasp and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in our
being. In my personal and pastoral life I have often been strengthened
by the Holy Spirit as a child, as a young man and as an ordinant.

For one hundred years our fathers have responded to the calling of
God as they have become recipients of the Holy Spirit and have become
apostles who spread the Word of God.

One hundred years with Christ marks a milestone in the life of St. Mary
Armenian Church. Today we are challenged to pave the road for yet
another 100 years of history in the life of the new generation. This
is the time to learn the past, render respect to our forefathers
for their vision and hardship, for their wisdom and perseverance,
for their love and dedication for the Armenian Apostolic Church.

We are here to enrich our lives with the same vision as our
forefathers. By being faithful to our forefathers, we fill our
God-given lives with Christian values, thus becoming a source of
inspiration for children and the youth. However, above all, we are
here to become the architects of the future church. We are challenged
to have the vision for a new church with the deep understanding that
the church can live only when we walk with Christ and become part of
his Crucifixion and Resurrection.

We ought to ask ourselves the question, “What is our mission? How
much do we give from our hearts to God and the community?” We ought
to respond to this question with the good faith in action, with
the courage to overcome the hardships of the days and times, and be
strengthened with the presence of God in our lives through prayer.

Let us thank God for bestowing in our lives abundant blessings. The
blessing of the life of our forefathers has bonded our lives with
Christ, enriched our spirits with the love of Christ and enabled us
to better understand that spiritual values are everlasting.

My message to you all today is to be the stewards of this church the
100th anniversary in another blessing bestowed upon all of you. In
this wonderful church we ought to see the presence of our forefathers
and hear the echo of their message.

Be the guardians of your Christian faith. Be engaged in making this
church the stronghold for the future generation. You have been blessed
with the legacy of 100 years; you are now blessed with the opportunity
to pass that legacy to the future generation. Participate; be engaged
in the life of this church. The church is the ground to test our faith
in Christ. The more we give, the more we strengthen our faith. The
more we strengthen our faith, the more we glorify our Lord.

Today, filled with spirit we give thanks to God Almighty for the
gift of the lives of the founders of St. Mary Armenian Church, the
pastors and the faithful members. Today, filled with the power of
the Holy Spirit we pray for the departed souls of the pastors and the
faithful members of this church who have lived a life similar to the
grain of wheat.

Today, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit we are transfigured
spiritually to continue our God-entrusted mission. Our mission is
to render respect to the founders of this church in action, in true
sacrifice.

Today, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit I extend to you
all my joy and true inspiration for the exemplary mission you have
accomplished under the able leadership of your beloved pastor Father
Vartan.

Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit let us pray for the
children and the youth, so that they also may attain the divine
wisdom and the love of Christ to hold firm their Christian faith,
and by remaining faithful to the faith of their forefathers, to
strengthen the foundation of the Armenian Church.”

DIVAN OF THE DIOCESE
June 2, 2004
Burbank, CA

www.armenianchurchwd.com