Armenian Battle of the Weak

Armenian Battle of the Weak

Armenia won’t see a repetition of Georgia’s “rose revolution” – the
opposition is as ineffective as the government it faces.

By Alexander Iskandarian in Yerevan (CRS No. 229, 28-Apr-04)

This month’s battle between the opposition and the governing coalition in
Armenia has been compared to events last November in Georgia, which led to
the downfall of President Eduard Shevardnadze.

It’s understandable that parallels should be drawn with Georgia’s “rose
revolution”: the two countries are neighbours, they share a similar
post-Soviet legacy, and in both cases the opposition employed the same
methods to rock the government boat – rallies, marches and demands for the
president to step down.

Yet, despite many similarities with Georgia, the Armenian situation is
actually very different.

What they have in common relates mainly to the nature of their ruling
regimes. As in most post-Soviet societies, the leadership is determined by a
kind of social compact between a variety of elite groups. In these poor
countries lacking in democratic traditions, the elites – political, business
(very often criminalised) and, in the case of Armenia, the military – have
created a system of political-economic groupings.

The feuding between these groups replaces the more conventional politics
seen in other countries.

Ordinary people play little part in Armenian politics, except during
elections – but even then the authorities find ways of manipulating the
vote. As a result, it becomes virtually impossible for power to shift
outside the existing political establishment. This creates tensions which
can only be relieved through external pressure on the authorities, in other
words from the streets. Those groups which are not part of the system of
power, or have been expelled from it, have no incentive to wait for the next
round of elections.

So far, Georgia and Armenia look very similar. But the differences between
them begin to be apparent when one looks at the very different outcomes of
the protests.

The Shevardnadze regime was so weak that its police force would not have
obeyed orders to break up the demonstrations. In Armenia, by contrast, the
alliance of convenience between army generals, business barons and regional
leaders was sufficiently strong for them to that feel their interests would
be threatened if Robert Kocharian, re-elected as president a year ago, were
to be overthrown.

Moreover, Armenia does not have a united opposition. One wing of the
opposition is formally headed by Stepan Demirchian, but he is such a weak
politician that his movement really has several leaders.

Another wing is led by Artashes Gegamian, a former mayor of Yerevan and an
accomplished orator who can impress a crowd, but has the reputation of being
an opportunist.

The leaders of the other parties and groups have no presidential ambitions,
but have not been able to unite with the more powerful opposition factions.

Armenia’s divided opposition forces have very different ideas about how they
would share out positions if they ever came to power. Lacking a single
leader, they have also signally failed to demonstrate unity to the
population at large. Basically their slogan has been, “Kocharian must go!
And then let the people decide”.

The first opposition rallies were staged in isolation from one another, and
with a diversity of demands, all of which underlined the lack of an agreed
programme. Opposition leaders therefore squandered their resources, opting
instead for a blitzkrieg strategy of confrontation.

All the talk of an “Armenian rose revolution” would not have merited a
second thought were this amorphous opposition facing a legitimate governing
regime that could count on the support of a substantial section of society.

But in reality the government is beset by exactly the same problems that
afflict the opposition. It is marked by decentralisation, incompetence at a
strategic level, a tendency to overestimate its own strength and, last but
not least, an inability and lack of will to engage in dialogue and
compromise.

On the one hand, the administration does not feel strong enough to become
genuinely dictatorial, while on the other, it knows it is estranged from
society and cannot call on public support. In Georgia a strong opposition
was fighting a power vacuum at the centre. In Armenia a weak opposition is
fighting a weak government.

On the night of April 12-13, dozens of opposition demonstrators were hurt
when police broke up a rally outside the parliament building. The brutality
could have been anticipated. In a country ruled by elite groups, decisions
at times of crisis are taken at a very low level by small groups, and the
system begins to act aggressively.

All this – especially the aggressive stance – shows up the weakness of the
authorities. The break-up of the rally, the official statements that the
demonstrators were – at 2am – obstructing the work of parliament, that
policemen had “not noticed” that the men whose cameras they were breaking
were journalists – all this was no less a sign of helplessness than the
opposition’s idea of marching on parliament in the first place.

One result of the aggressive action taken by the Armenian leadership is that
the public now understands how weak the regime is. That means society will
continue to generate opposition groupings.

The demonstrations will continue, but the opposition will remain weak and
disorganised as long as it remains in the phase of “negative identity” – in
other words, as long as its only unifying idea is changing the regime and
nothing more.

The government, too, will only get weaker as long as it equates political
strength with the capacity to bash opposition demonstrators over the head
with truncheons and put up roadblocks around Yerevan to stop people from the
provinces attending demonstrations.

It is not so important who wins in this confrontation, or when that happens.
At present there is a stalemate in which both sides reject dialogue,
compromise is impossible, and – in line with Armenian political tradition –
no one ever admits they have lost an election or a political fight.
Meanwhile, the political system as a whole is losing yet more legitimacy.

Armenia has declared it wants to become part of Europe, but the latest
events suggest that it is actually joining Latin America. This might be seen
as a success: politically speaking, other post-Soviet states are on the same
level as some of the worst African countries.

But that is little consolation for Armenia’s political culture – the country
is a long way off having a real political opposition that wants to devise
real policies and that is based on genuine party structures and the positive
support of broad sections of society.

When that eventually comes about, it will be impossible for the police to
break up demonstrations because hundreds, rather than tens, of thousands of
people will take part – people who know what they want to happen after the
resignation of the president, not just before it. In fact, there will be no
need for demonstrations at all because it will be a different kind of
opposition, one that the authorities have to compromise and share influence
with, as happens in many Latin American countries.

Armenia still has a long way to go before that happens. For the moment it
faces the prospect of a long stalemate between a weak opposition and weak
government, where it does not matter who emerges as victor.

Alexander Iskandarian is pro-rector of the Caucasus Media Institute in
Yerevan.

ANCA: Nebraska, Tennessee & Louisiana Acknowledge Armenian Genocide

Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904,
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 775-1918 Fax: (202) 775-5648
[email protected]

PRESS RELEASE
April 29, 2004

Contact: Elizabeth Chouldjian
Telephone: (202) 775-1918

NEBRASKA, TENNESSEE AND LOUISIANA BECOME NEWEST STATES TO ACKNOWLEDGE
THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

Total Number of States That Have Acknowledged the Genocide Reaches
36

WASHINGTON, DC – Tennessee, Nebraska and Louisiana have joined the
fast growing number of states who have acknowledged the Armenian
Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America
(ANCA). Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, Republican
Governor Mike Johanns of Nebraska and Democratic Governor Kathleen
Babineaux Blanco issued proclamations citing a “Day of Remembrance
of the Armenian Genocide,” referring to the Ottoman Turkish
campaign of eliminate the Armenian population from 1915-1923. The
total number of states in the U.S. reaffirming he Armenian Genocide
has now reached 36.

“The Nebraska, Tennessee and Louisiana proclamations emphasize the
ultimate futility of Turkish efforts to distort the facts about the
Genocide,” commented ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“Governors Johanns, Bredesen, and Blanco should be commended for
taking a stand against denial and Turkish revisionism,” he added.

In the course of the last month, five new states have issued
proclamations for the Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. All of
the proclamations mark April 23rd or 24th as an official Day of
Remembrance. The ANCA website () provides a diagram
that displays all of the states that have issued proclamations or
passed legislations recognizing the April 24th as a day of
remembrance.

The proclamations follow a concerted grassroots education campaign
by the ANC Chapters across the country to increase awareness of the
Armenian Genocide on the state and local level. ANC Tennessee
Chairman, Dr. Shant Garabedian, worked actively with the Tennessee
Armenian community, circulating a petition to Gov. Bredesen in
support of the proclamation. Garabedian discussed the initiative
following Easter Church services in Nashville this month.
Massachusetts State Republican Committee man Bob Semonian spoke
extensively to Governors Bredesen, Johanns and Blanco during the
National Governors Association conference held in Washington DC,
last month. He has since worked with local ANC activists in the
effort to secure Armenian Genocide proclamations from a series of
states across the country.

Semonian, who resides in Watertown, MA, is running for delegate for
the Republican National Convention. Registered Republicans in the
towns and cities of Arlington, Belmont, Everett, Framingham,
Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Natick, Revere,
Stoneham, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Weston, Winchester,
Winthrop, and Woburn can support his candidacy at the Republican
Caucus vote his Saturday, May 1st, to be held beginning at 9:00am
at
295 Arsenal St., in Watertown, MA.

#####

State of Nebraska
Proclamation

Whereas, One and a half million Christian Armenian men, women and
children were the victims of the brutal genocide perpetuated by the
Ottoman Turkish Government from 1915 – 1923; and

Whereas, The Armenian genocide and massacres of Armenian people
have been recognized as an attempt to eliminate all traces of a
thriving and noble civilization over 3000 years old; and

Whereas, Recognition of the eighty-ninth anniversary of this
genocide is crucial to guarding against the repetition of future
genocides and educating people about the atrocities connected to
these horrific events; and

Whereas, Armenian-Americans living in Nebraska have greatly
enriched our state through their leadership in business,
agriculture, academia, government and the arts;

Now, therefore, I, Mike Johanns, Governor of the State of Nebraska
DO HEREBY PROCLAIM the 24th day of April 2004, as

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE OF 1915-1923

in Nebraska, and I do hereby urge all citizens to take due note of
the observance.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand, and cause the
Great Seal of the Stae of Nebraska to be affixed this Twenty-Third
Day of April, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand Four.

/State seal/ – Attest: John A. Gale, Secretary of State
Mike Johanns, Governor

===============================================

TENNESSEE PROCLAMATION

State Capitol

By Phil Bredesen, Governor, on behalf of the people of Tennessee
By virtue of the authority vested in me, I herby confer upon
Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide
A Day of Recognition
Given under my hand and the Seal of the State of Tennessee
In Nashville, this 23rd day of April 2004

/State Seal/ Phil Bredesen, Governor

===============================================

United States of America
State of Louisiana
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

Proclamation

Whereas, One and one half million Christian Armenian men, women and
children were victims of brutal genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman
Turkish Government from 1915-1923; and

Whereas, the Armenian Genocide and massacres of Armenian people
have been recognized as an attempt to eliminate all traces of a
thriving and noble civilization over 3,000 years old; and

Whereas, recognition of the eighty-ninth anniversary of this
genocide is crucial to guarding against the repetition of future
genocides and educating people about the atrocities connected to
these horrific events; and

Whereas, Armenian-Americans living in Louisiana have greatly
enriched our state through leadership in business, agriculture,
academia, government, and the arts.

Now, therefore, I, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Governor of the state
of Louisiana do hereby proclaim April 24, 2004 as

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

In the state of Louisiana

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco

#####

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ASBAREZ Online [04-29-2004]

ASBAREZ ONLINE
TOP STORIES
04/29/2004
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1) PACE Tells Armenian Authorities, Opposition to End Disorder, Start Talking
2) Armenia’s President, Georgian Counterpart Meet in Warsaw
3) Russian Duma Concerned Over Ajaria, Burdzhnadze Hopeful of Situation
4) Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana Newest States, 36 in all, to Acknowledge
Armenian Genocide
5) Co-Chairman of Kerry Presidential Campaign Praises ANC for Genocide
Recognition Efforts

1) PACE Tells Armenian Authorities, Opposition to End Disorder, Start Talking

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe (PACE) late Wednesday called on the Armenian government and the
opposition to resolve their bitter dispute through negotiation, and offered to
mediate such a dialogue.
The resolution, drafted by a committee monitoring the 45 member states’
compliance with their commitments, calls for the scrapping of “unjustified
restrictions” on peaceful demonstrations. It states: “The opposition should
enjoy full freedom to conduct their political activities, which include the
right to peaceful demonstrations. The authorities should immediately abstain
from any interference and administrative and judicial harassment in this
regard. The fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly must be respected
and any restrictions must be in line with the European Convention on Human
Rights.”
It calls on the opposition to share in the responsibility of ensuring that
protests are not marred by violence, and advises the opposition to settle its
gripes legally. “The parliament should be the main forum for political
arguments. They should not try to circumvent the political institutions in the
country with a hope to reverse the results of last year’s elections which
were,
in spite of criticism, validated both at the domestic level and by the
international community.”
It also advises against “accepting artificial analogies between the
situations
in Georgia and in Armenia.”
The resolution asks that Armenia’s government submit, by June, a written
report to PACE detailing the steps it has taken in response to the
recommendations. “Their implementation will be assessed by the monitoring
committee’s two Armenia rapporteurs, Rene Andre of France and Jerzy Jaskiernia
of Poland.”
The resolution warns that if no progress is reported, PACE will “reconsider
the credentials of the Armenian delegation” at its autumn session next
September.
Presenting the document to the Strasbourg lawmakers, Jaskiernia made it clear
that while he strongly disapproves of the crackdown, he believes that the
Council of Europe should not question the legitimacy of last year’s Armenian
presidential and parliamentary elections because the fraud surrounding the
elections was “not so extensive that we could disqualify the result.” “The
election naturally delivered results, and now many people are satisfied, so
our
approach to Armenia should be objective and balanced,” he said.
The assembly also rejected a proposal to endorse the idea of the national
vote
of confidence in Kocharian, as demanded by the opposition.
“The Assembly calls upon the authorities and the opposition to refrain from
any action which may lead to further violence and to engage in a dialogue
without preconditions.”

2) Armenia’s President, Georgian Counterpart Meet in Warsaw

WARSAW (Armenpress)–Armenian president Robert Kocharian met with his Georgian
counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili on the sidelines of the European Economic
Forum
in Warsaw, Poland.
Respective domestic political situations and bilateral economic cooperation
was reviewed, and emphasis was placed on the upcoming May session of the
Armenian-Georgian inter-governmental commission agreed to during Saakashvili’s
March visit to Armenia. The two also discussed regional, economic, and other
developments.
Kocharian outlined the importance of the meeting with the Georgian president.
Emphasizing Armenia’s general economic growth, Saakashvili told reporters, “We
are interested in further development of Armenia’s economy,” and said he looks
forward to more intense communication with Armenia, as well as strong economic
cooperation.
“We always spoke of good relations, but they were on an emotional level; now
we are interesting in expanding them. Robert Kocharian treats these relations
very practically, and we need to take constructive steps to take them to a new
level,” Saakashvili stressed.
Asked about the Armenian opposition that claims to follow Saakashvili’s
example, Kocharian that none of the players–the president of Armenia, the
formerly president of Georgia, the Armenian opposition, nor the current
president of Georgia–can be compared.

3) Russian Duma Concerned Over Ajaria, Burdzhnadze Hopeful of Situation

TBILISI (Itar-Tass/Civil Georgia)–Russia’s State Duma expressed its “deep
concern” about the deterioration of ties between Georgia and its Autonomous
Republic of Ajaria.
In an appeal to their Georgian counterparts, members of Russia’s lower house
of parliament said that “there are all reasons to believe that Georgia is
planning to resort to force” to settle its dispute with Ajaria.
The Russian lawmakers also urged the Georgian parliament to do its utmost to
avert military confrontation with Ajaria.
Ajaria has mobilized its reservists amid fears that the Georgian government
might use a planned military exercise later this week to forcibly topple the
regional leadership. Tbilisi denies the accusations, saying it is committed to
finding a peaceful solution to its dispute with Ajaria.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who has vowed to restore economic and
political control over Ajaria, yesterday threatened Abashidze with arrest
if he
refuses to comply with his orders.
Meanwhile, Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdzhanadze believes that the
head of Georgia’s Ajarian autonomy Aslan Abashidze, “will take steps to
fulfill
the Georgian central authorities’ legitimate demands.”
“I believe Abashidze will exert efforts to disarm illegal paramilitary groups
operating in Ajaria and to meet all provisions of the Georgian Constitution,”
Burdzhanadze told journalists in Tbilisi on Thursday, confident that it will
contribute to the settlement of the conflict. “Tbilisi has no intention of
artificially aggravating the situation.”
“I believe Abashidze’s visit to Tbilisi will be the best way out,”
Burdzhanadze said.
The Ajarian leader has paid not a single visit to Tbilisi for the past twelve
years.
“That the leader of an autonomy has refused to come to the country’s capital
for so long is certainly abnormal,” Burdzhanadze said. “I believe this problem
will be resolved in the near future.”
Abashidze has avoided visiting Tbilisi since November 1991 for security
reasons.

4) Nebraska, Tennessee, Louisiana Newest States, 36 in all, to Acknowledge
Armenian Genocide

TOTAL NUMBER OF STATES THAT HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THE GENOCIDE REACHES 36

WASHINGTON, DC–Tennessee, Nebraska, and Louisiana have joined the fast
growing
number of states who have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, reported the
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Democratic Governor Phil
Bredesen of Tennessee, Republican Governor Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and
Democratic Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco issued proclamations citing a
“Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide,” referring to the Ottoman
Turkish
campaign of eliminate the Armenian population from 1915-1923. The total number
of states in the US reaffirming the Armenian Genocide has now reached 36.
“The Nebraska, Tennessee, and Louisiana proclamations emphasize the ultimate
futility of Turkish efforts to distort the facts about the Genocide,”
commented
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Governors Johanns, Bredesen, and
Blanco should be commended for taking a stand against denial and Turkish
revisionism,” he added.
In the course of the last month, five new states have issued proclamations
for
the Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. All of the proclamations mark April
23 or 24 as an official Day of Remembrance. The ANCA website
(<;) provides a diagram which displays all of
the states that have issued proclamations or passed legislations recognizing
the April 24 as a day of remembrance.
The proclamations follow a concerted grassroots education campaign by the ANC
Chapters across the country to increase awareness of the Armenian Genocide on
the state and local level. ANC Tennessee Chairman Dr. Shant Garabedian, worked
actively with the Tennessee Armenian community, circulating a petition to Gov.
Bredesen in support of the proclamation. Garabedian discussed the initiative
following Easter Church services in Nashville this month. Massachusetts State
Republican Committee man Bob Semonian spoke extensively to Governors Bredesen,
Johanns, and Blanco during the National Governors Association conference held
in Washington DC, last month. He has since worked with local ANC activists in
the effort to secure Armenian Genocide proclamations from a series of states
across the country.
Semonian, who resides in Watertown, MA, is running for delegate for the
Republican National Convention. Registered Republicans in the towns and cities
of Arlington, Belmont, Everett, Framingham, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden,
Medford, Melrose, Natick, Revere, Stoneham, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland,
Weston, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn can support his candidacy at the
Republican Caucus vote his Saturday, May 1, to be held beginning at 9:00 am at
295 Arsenal St., in Watertown, MA.

5) Co-Chairman of Kerry Presidential Campaign Praises ANC for Genocide
Recognition Efforts

LOS ANGELES–Antonio Villaraigosa, the national co-chairman of the John Kerry
Presidential Campaign, read Senator Kerry’s April 24th statement before
thousands of Armenian-Americans at an event sponsored by the Armenian National
Committee of America-Western Region (ANCA-WR). The gathering was held in the
shadow of the Armenian Genocide Monument in Montebello, California on April
24,
2004.
“The City of Los Angeles will never forget the Armenian Genocide and I, along
with the Armenian National Committee, will do whatever I can to honor the
memory of the 1.5 million martyrs,” said Councilmember Antonio Villaraigosa.
“In the ten years that I have served in public office, the Armenian National
Committee has consistently been the leading advocate of issues relating to the
Armenian-American community, and I have always valued the close
relationship we
share.”
“We thank Senator Kerry for his April 24th Armenian Genocide Statement, and
Councilman Villaraigosa for sharing this message with our community,” ANCA’s
Western Region Chairman Raffi Hamparian said. “Councilman Villaraigosa
understands our long struggle for justice.”
Villaraigosa also participated in an ANCA-sponsored Armenian Genocide program
held at Los Angeles City Hall on April 23. The Councilman spoke to
Armenian-American leaders at that solemn commemoration, then joined his
colleague and event sponsor Councilman Eric Garcetti in passing a resolution
affirming the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide, and emphasizing the
need to challenge those who deny crimes against humanity like the Armenian
Genocide.
Villaraigosa is the former Speaker of the California State Assembly and now
serves as a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

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CR: Rep Souder commemorates Armenian Genocide

[Congressional Record: April 28, 2004 (Extensions)]
[Page E696-E697]
>From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr28ap04-70]

ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

______

HON. MARK E. SOUDER

of indiana

in the house of representatives

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of my colleagues who stood
to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 and in memory of
those who died 89 years ago.
The Genocide of 1915-1923 was the culmination of decades of official
Ottoman policies to stamp out Armenia–religiously, culturally, and
ethnically. The “Armenian Question” posed a problem for many
successive

[[Page E697]]

leaders until a seemingly “brilliant” realization–“No Armenians, No
Armenian Question.” The horrible answer to a perplexing question led
to the slaughter of millions of Armenians and the continuing denial of
the massacres by today’s Turkish government.
The long lists of atrocities have been well documented by numerous
sources. The dwindling number of Armenians who survived the long death
marches still tell chilling stories of their families’ deaths. American
diplomats and missionaries documented brutal attacks on peaceful cities
and towns. German military personnel allied to the Turkish government,
who defied orders to look the other way, compiled a record of death and
destruction throughout the region. Even Turkish parliamentary and
government documents speak to the existence and scope of these
massacres.
The United States has a long history and long alliance with the
Armenian people. During the massacres of the late Nineteenth century,
tons of humanitarian supplies and hundreds of thousands of dollars
poured into Armenia from the United States in an effort to alleviate
the suffering of the Armenian people. American missionaries and
prominent Americans, including American Red Cross founder Clara Barton,
visited Armenia and aided the starving, homeless, and terrorized.
During the Genocide of 1915-1923, American missionaries documented the
slaughter of Armenian men, women, and children. In some cases,
missionaries risked their own lives to protect Armenians.
Despite a compelling record proving the massacre of millions of human
beings, there are still individuals, organizations, and governments
that deny what happened 89 years ago. Given the United States’
longstanding dedication to combating human rights abuses, it is
shocking that the United States government has not officially
recognized the savage butchery of one of the 20th Century’s worst human
rights violations.
In his book “The Burning Tigris,” Peter Balakian describes the
Genocide as follows:

The plan to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire
was put into action in the spring and early summer of 1915.
It was well orchestrated, and in city and town, village and
hamlet, and in the Armenian sections of the major cities of
Asia Minor and Anatolia, Armenians were rounded up, arrested,
and either shot outright or put on deportation marches.
Most often the able-bodied men were arrested in groups and
taken out of the town or city and shot en masse.
In the southeast towns and cities as were both killing
stations and refugee spots, where Armenians who had survived
long death marches from the north lived in concentration
camps, in makeshift tents, or on the desert ground, hoping to
stay alive. Farther south, in the Syrian desert, more
Armenians died than perhaps anywhere else. There the
epicenter of death was the region of Deir el-Zor, where
Armenians died not only of massacre, starvation, and disease
but were stuffed into caves and asphyxiated by brush fires–
primitive gas chambers.
The Committee of Union and Progress’s [Turkish ruling
party] plan to exterminate the Armenians was made possible by
the highest level of government planning: harnessing the
bureaucracy for the organization and implementation of the
Armenian deportations; the formation and organization of
killing squads; the creation and manipulation of legislation,
and the use of technology and communications . . .

The Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 ranks among the Holocaust, Pol
Pot’s Cambodia, Stalin’s starvation of kulaks in the Ukraine, and
Muslim violence against Christians in Sudan as one of the worst
instances of inhumanity and wanton cruelty. No one denies that these
violent events happened. Indeed, the denial of these episodes would be
met with immediate criticism and vociferous censure. Why is Turkey
given a pass when it comes to admitting past mistakes?
I recognize that Turkey is a NATO ally and an ally in the war on
terror. I recognize that the United States needs to maintain friendly
relations with Turkey to help stabilize the Middle East, but as a
friend of Turkey, the United States should be able to take its ally
aside and point out its mistakes. Without recognizing our mistakes and
our shortcomings, we do not learn. Without recognizing malice and
cruelty wherever it is found, we risk forgetting these events and the
lessons to be learned from them.
My deepest sympathies go to the whole of Armenia, and more
importantly, my pity to those who continue to deny or ignore the
massacre of 1.5 million Armenians during the Genocide of 1915-1923.

____________________

ANC-SD: The conference, entitled “Western Response to Genocide”

PRESS RELEASE
ANC San Diego
Contact: Garo Artinian (ANC SD Chair)
Telephone: 619-596-4332

April 27, 2004

ARMENIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE OF SAN DIEGO AND UC SAN DIEGO ARMENIAN
STUDENTS HOST INAUGURAL GENOCIDE CONFERENCE

San Diego, CA : The Armenian National Committee of San Diego announced
that it will be hosting an academic conference on Genocide and Denial
on Saturday, May 8, 2004 at the University of California, San Diego
campus. The event is the first of its kind to be held at UC San Diego
and is cosponsored by the UC San Diego Armenian Students Association.

The conference, entitled “Western Response to Genocide”, will cover
various topics including the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust,
the Rwandan Genocide and others. The intended emphasis of the
conference will be how the Western Culture has dealt with
genocide. The conference will address a number of genocide-related
issues, including definition, history, politics, literature,
acknowledgment, prevention, associated trauma (both individual and
collective) and reconciliation and reparations. The conference will
address the many genocides of the 20th century and draw similarities
and identify differences between these crimes against humanity.

A number of panelists will participate in the conference, including:
Laurence Baron, Ph.D., Director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaice
Studies; Rubina Peroomian, Ph.D., lecturer at the University of
California, Los Angeles; Levon Marashlian, Ph.D., Professor of History
and Political Science at Glendale Community College, Dan Alba,
Regional Director of the Los Angeles Offices of Facing History and
Ourselves, and Ardashes Kassakhian, Executive Director of the Armenian
National Committee of America – Western Region.

The conference will take place at the University of California, San
Diego, Peterson Building and will begin at 10 A.M. Parking for the
conference is free and Armenian style barbecue will be served during
the break for $7.

Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and
supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations
around the world, the Armenian National Committee San Diego actively
advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad
range of issues.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

CIS Security Chief Holds Talks with Belarusian Security Official

CIS SECURITY CHIEF HOLDS TALKS WITH BELARUSIAN SECURITY OFFICIAL

Belapan news agency
29 Apr 04

MINSK

The secretary-general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization
(CSTO), Nikolay Bordyuzha, noted three main current areas of CSTO
activities during his meeting with the chairman of the committee for
international affairs and national security of the Council of the
Republic (Belarusian parliament’s upper house), Mikalay Charhinets, on
29 April in Minsk.

According to him, this includes coordination of foreign policy of
member states (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
and Russia), formation of the organization’s military component and,
above all, counteracting modern threats and challenges. Bordyuzha said
that the ways of development of the CSTO military component will be
discussed at the next session of the Collective Security Treaty
Council scheduled for June in Astana (Kazakhstan). “The existence of
the military component is a factor of deterrence,” Bordyuzha said.

Speaking about CSTO activities aimed at counteracting modern threats
and challenges, the organization’s secretary-general noted the fight
against drugs and terrorism. According to him, the creation of a
single legal basis on these issues and informational support are
becoming quite topical in this respect. Bordyuzha recalled with
satisfaction that the Channel operation was carried out within the
CSTO framework in 2004. Law-enforcement agencies of the organization’s
member states, including Belarusian special services and the Interior
Ministry, were involved in the operation. The operation resulted in
the confiscation of about two tonnes of drugs, approximately the same
quantity of precursors and institution of 1,500 criminal cases in the
area of illegal turnover of drugs.

Nikolay Bordyuzha also said that the CSTO has been registered with the
UN and the issue of granting it observer status with the UN is
currently being discussed. The organization has established ties with
security bodies of the UN and OSCE.

The goal of Bordyuzha’s two-day visit to Minsk is to prepare the next
session of the Collective Security Treaty Council. He had meetings to
this effect with the head of the presidential administration, Ural
Latypaw, on 28 April and took part in a joint board session of the
defence ministries of Belarus and Russia. Bordyuzha had a meeting with
leaders of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 29 April.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: USA to Fail in Karabakh, Azeri Daily Says

USA TO FAIL IN KARABAKH, AZERI DAILY SAYS

Ekho, Baku
29 Apr 04

The US business interests in the South Caucasus will eventually
require political backing, and Washington seems to have decided to
deal seriously with regional conflicts, and firsty the
Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagornyy Karabakh conflic t, Azerbaijani
newspaper Ekho has reported. In order to resolve the problem, the USA
has to dismiss its balanced policy and define favourites, Ekho said.
Washington might try to drive Armenia out of Russia’s influence, while
at the same time putting pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkey. But in
this case, the USA could alienate its two strategic partners and,
moreover, provoke an upsurge in Islamic influence in the region, the
paper said. The whole plan might have “catastrophic repercussions” for
Washington and make it forget about its major economic projects in the
region, Ekho concluded. The following is the text of Nurani report by
Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on 29 April headlined “American
rollercoaster”; subheadings inserted editorially:

USA vs Russia in South Caucasus

This popular attraction is called “Russian rollercoaster” everywhere
in the world. It is believed to repeat the traditional Russian
amusement – sliding down an ice hill on a sleigh. However, in Russia
it is said to be “American” since this “round-the-year” attraction
came from America.

For some reason, this unserious comparison comes to my mind every time
I compare how the Russian and Western press comment on the situation
in the South Caucasus. The majority of Moscow (and pro-Moscow)
newspapers believe that the South Caucasus has long been “ruled” by
the USA that has turned this region, which is geographically and
environmentally destined to be none other than “Russia’s backyard”,
into “its 51st state”. On the other side of the former “cold war”
frontiers, the situation is conceived in a completely opposite way.

The composition, to be more precise, the style of the (OSCE) Minsk
Group was the best proof: while Russia was officially represented by
unimpressive (Nikolay) Gribkov, the former deputy director of the
Russian foreign intelligence service and the incumbent deputy foreign
minister, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, visited the region along with his
colleagues. Moreover, the “strategic concepts” of the two super
powers, as regional observers could witness more than once, do not
concur.

We should probably expect that the US business interests in the region
will sooner or later require political “backing”. Today, one can find
dozens of ongoing political developments which, if you have enough
desire and imagination, could pass for the manifestation of that US
strategy. For instance, the “rose revolution” in Georgia (even if the
USA’s real role in it is a topic where telling whisper and hints will
for a long time dominate clear-cut and unambiguous statements) was
unequivocally interpreted as the start of a “purge” of the political
field of the oil-rich region from corrupt undemocratic regimes,
despite their loyalty and the leader’s past merits.

USA has to dismiss balanced policy

Against this background, the appointment to the post of US co-chairman
of the Minsk Group of Steven Mann, who used to be in charge of the
“energy diplomacy” in the region which proved to be very successful,
is said to clearly show the USA’s decision to seriously deal with the
settlement of regional conflicts in the South Caucasus, and the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in the first place.

If we remember that the USA has been for quite a long time “pushing”
Armenia and Turkey towards a dialogue, Steven Mann’s appointment,
which reveals the USA’s aspiration to a speedy settlement to the
conflict which is simmering near pipelines, completes the “picture” of
the situation in the region.

However, the “conflict diplomacy” in general, and the brokering
mission in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in particular, might
prove to be a much more difficult task for the USA than an effective
economic breakthrough. The world has already witnessed the failure of
three mediation initiatives in Nagornyy Karabakh – the step-by-step
and package settlements and the territorial swap. Although today US
diplomats react quite painfully to criticism of the Minsk Group, one
has to draw not at all encouraging conclusions from 10-year-long
negotiations: the chances that the parties themselves can “reach a
compromise” are most likely to be very slim. To put it simply, if the
USA is serious in its intention to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani
conflict, it will sooner or later have to dismiss its hope to conduct
“balanced policy” and define its likes and dislikes.

A fairly extraordinary situation has been formed in the region. Both
regional political mega projects – the Karabakh settlement and the
Armenian-Turkish dialogue – impact Armenia. This country is the only
strategic ally of Russia in the region, while it is opposed in one
case by Turkey, for which, despite all the recent problems, the USA is
undoubtedly number one strategic partner, and in the other case by
Azerbaijan, for which Washington is again closer than Moscow.

“Catastrophic” repercussions for USA

Rumours have been going on in the South Caucasus for quite a while
that the USA will finally try to “buy out” Armenia from Russia and
take this country out of Moscow’s monopoly and thus gain control of
the whole of the region. Hence, there is a clear conclusion that now
Washington will try its best to “interest” Armenia and,
correspondingly, step up pressure on Azerbaijan and Turkey: it is
always easier to pressurize your ally than a country which you have
yet to improve relations with.

However, the situation is far from being simple. If in the early 1990s
analysts said that those who would succeed in mediating conflicts
would get carte blanche in the region, today’s forecasts are
completely different: in case of the mediators’ failure, all the other
US projects in the region, including economic projects, might be
threatened.

Indeed, relations with Armenia are a very sensitive issue both in
Azerbaijan and Turkey. It is hardly possible, even theoretically, to
“dose up pressure” in order, on the one hand, to force Azerbaijan and
Turkey to make a concession that would impress Armenia, and on the
other hand, not to damage its own positions in these countries. The
reason is simple: the “limit” of Armenia’s requirements is extremely
high. On the other hand, excessive pressure on Baku and Ankara might
prompt these countries not only to look for “alternative partners”,
from the European Union to Russia. An upsurge in Islamic influence in
these countries could prove to be much more dangerous. These will be
the same Islamists who found themselves in power in Iran unexpectedly
for the whole world, easily won the majority of seats in the Algerian
parliament elections, and proved to be the most influential political
force in today’s Iraq. They hardly have any particular influence in
Azerbaijan nowadays, and the ruling JDP (Justice and Development
Party) in Turkey can hardly be described as a radical group. However,
politicians know well about the possibility of “catastrophic” shifts
in the public opinion, particularly if sensitive and painful problems
such as Karabakh are at issue. This means that an attempt to buy out
Armenia from Russia at the expense of Turkey and Azerbaijan could have
catastrophic repercussions for Washington, and the USA will have to
forget about those regional mega projects for a long time to come.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Head of Armenian Delegation Reacts to Council of Europe Discussions

HEAD OF ARMENIAN DELEGATION REACTS TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE DISCUSSIONS

Hayots Ashkarh, Yerevan
29 Apr 04

Yesterday, late in the evening PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe) finished discussions on the domestic political
situation in Armenia. The deputy chairman of the National Assembly,
head of the Armenian delegation, Tigran Torosyan, comments on this by
telephone.

(Hayots Ashkarh correspondent) Mr Torosyan, how did the discussions
finish? Was a negative decision adopted on Armenia?

(Tigran Torosyan) I think on the contrary. A very good decision for
Armenia was adopted that gave an answer to all the questions. It was
in connection with the so-called vote of confidence as well as the
presidential and parliamentary elections. In fact, it is the second
time that they have made more detailed assessments. So some people
should be able to understand, at least for the second time, what PACE
is saying.

(Correspondent) Can we say that all the information submitted by the
opposition was rejected by PACE? Who made a speech from the
opposition?

(Torosyan) Shavarsh Kocharyan (National Democratic Party, part of the
Justice bloc) made a speech against our proposals and, in his turn,
presented their proposals. As for the rejection of their information,
it is incorrect to put it this way, as the voting has finished,
decisions have been adopted and, of course, answers have been given to
all the questions.

(Correspondent) How did the PACE leadership respond to the information
presented in your report?

(Torosyan) PACE first of all makes assessments by voting. It was
obvious that the majority supported all our proposals.

The voting gave a strict assessment to the results of the two
elections as well as to the so-called vote of confidence. This is the
most significant.

(Correspondent) What were the results of the voting?

(Torosyan) I think it is not so important, as about four times as many
people were in favour as against. In fact, more than 40 deputies
supported views favourable for us, and only 10-12 were against. Simply
this figure was different during different votes.

Armenian Defence Minister Slams Opposition

ARMENIAN DEFENCE MINISTER SLAMS OPPOSITION

Hayots Ashkarh, Yerevan
29 Apr 04

Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan has commented on the
domestic political situation in the country and other
issues. Following is the text of a report by the Armenian newspaper
Hayots Ashkarh on 29 April headlined “They are justifying their own
inaction”:

(Hayots Ashkarh correspondent) How do you assess the failure of the
coalition-opposition dialogue?

(Serzh Sarkisyan) I think this is first of all a problem of the
parties which form the coalition. As the defence minister I refrain
from expressing any view, so that tomorrow you have no reason to say
that I am interfering in political problems. Though this problem is in
some way connected with national security as well. But I have not
studied the details of the political consultations initiated by the
president.

(Correspondent) The opposition has submitted political proposals that
consist of 10 points. They are demanding that political persecution be
stopped and free movement of citizens be ensured.

(Sarkisyan) Do you think that there is political persecution in our
country? I do not agree with this view of the opposition. The latest
provocation that they have disseminated is that armoured personnel
carriers closed the streets to block the way of rally-goers. This is a
simple means for the opposition to justify their own inaction. Why do
those journalists, who are so active and have become a microphone for
the opposition, not go and take a photo of at least one armoured
personnel carrier? Why do they not tell the truth? When the agressive
political forces publicly announce that they are going to change power
by violence, the police is simply obliged to make the relevant checks
to ensure public security.

(Correspondent) How possible do you think it is that, after studying
our country’s domestic political situation, they will raise the issue
of Armenia leaving the Council of Europe?

(Sarkisyan) I am sure this will not happen. Azerbaijan and Turkey do
not have enough force to do this.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

BAKU: “Time Will Tell” Says Aliyev on Prospects for Karabakh Talks

“TIME WILL TELL” SAYS AZERI LEADER ON PROSPECTS FOR KARABAKH TALKS

Turan news agency, Baku
29 Apr 04

Strasbourg, 29 April: During today’s press conference in Strasbourg,
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev did not speak in Azerbaijani. All
journalists, including those from Azerbaijan, were told to ask
questions in English. Nobody explained the reason for such a strange
conduct of Ilham Aliyev.

Asked whether the political prisoners, including participants in the
October events (those arrested for post-election riots in 2003), might
be pardoned in near future, Aliyev said that this issue needs to be
“closed” soon.

As for the participants in the October events, a line has to be drawn
between those who “expressed their will and those who threw stones at
the police”. The trial is not over yet and it would be premature to
count them as political prisoners, Aliyev said.

On possibility of dialogue with the opposition, Aliyev said that he
proposed such a dialogue three times but received no response. “But if
the opposition displays its willingness, then this can be considered,”
he said.

Asked why the president’s press service invites to official events
only the pro-government mass media and journalists, Aliyev said that
it is up to them to decide who to invite and where. “It is impossible
to obtain an invitation to the president’s events by pressure.”

Armenian journalists asked Aliyev whether he will recognize Turkish
Cypriots’ independence as he promised. Aliyev said that Azerbaijan
will be in the first ranks of those countries which will do this when
the issue of recognition arises.

Responding to a question on prospects for settling the Nagornyy
Karabakh conflict, Aliyev said that there are no agreements and “time
will tell” how and from which point the talks will continue.

Asked to comment on the killing of the Armenian officer in Budapest by
Azerbaijani serviceman Ramil Safarov, Aliyev said that this case
should not be turned into a “show”. In 2003 alone, Armenian snipers
killed 20 civilians in Azerbaijan, he said.