Al-Arabiya factors in ‘Genocide’ doc

Yahoo News
March 16 2004

Al-Arabiya factors in ‘Genocide’ doc
Sun Mar 14, 7:00 PM ET

Melanie Goodfellow

(Variety) JERUSALEM Pan-Arab satcaster MBC TV has acquired “The
Genocide Factor,” a U.S.-made doc exploring religious and ethnic
persecution from Biblical times to the present, to air on news and
current affairs channel Al-Arabiya in April.

Series, narrated by thesp Jon Voight, examines some of the worst
crimes against humanity including the Nazi Holocaust and the
Armenian, Bosnian and Rwandan genocides.

“Having “The Genocide Factor’ run complete and uncensored on free TV
in the Middle East to a potential audience of more than 130 million
people is truly groundbreaking,” says Gary Lico, CEO of U.S. distrib
Cable Ready.

Directed by Robert Emery, the four-part series features photos, news
footage and interviews with Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, former U.S.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (news – web sites) and genocide
survivors.

Polish, Armenian MPs discuss bilateral relations

Polish Press Agency
PAP News Wire
March 16, 2004 Tuesday

Polish, Armenian MPs discuss bilateral relations

Warsaw

Sejm Speaker Marek Borowski and head of the Armenian National Assembly
Artur Bagdasarian met Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations,
international affairs and Armenia’s policy towards the Polish
minority.

Borowski said after the meeting that Bagdasarian was interested in
European legislature, Poland’s political system and the functioning
and powers of the Sejm. The Armenian side expressed readiness to
develop closer interparliamentary contacts between the two countries
and interest in Polish experience in European integration.

On Wednesday the guest will be received by President Aleksander
Kwasniewski, PM Leszek Miller, Foreign Minister Wlodzmierz Cimoszewicz
and presidia of the Sejm’s foreign affairs and European committees.

Students protest in Cyprus over closure of historic Melkonian school

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
March 16, 2004, Tuesday

Students protest in Cyprus over closure of historic boarding school

Over 200 students of an historic Armenian boarding school in Nicosia
demonstrated Tuesday against its impending closure.

The U.S.-based foundation that runs the Melkonian Educational
Institute announced it will close the school in June 2005, after over
seven decades.

News of the closure has angered critics who say that profits from the
40 million Cyprus pound (84 million dollars) sale of the school’s
prime assets will leave Cyprus.

Protesting students blocked the main road leading out of the capital,
chanting “Melkonian not for sale” and brandishing placards condemning
the foundation.

The school, Cyprus’s only boarding school, was established in 1926 by
two Armenian brothers to provide shelter to orphans that escaped
genocide at the hands of the Ottomans during the First World War.

Students and teachers claim the New-York based Armenian General
Benevolent Union (AGBU), which had been entrusted with the management
of the school, decided to close the institute without sufficient
justification. dpa mdp ch sc

Armenia hopes for peaceful settlement of Adzharia situation

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 16, 2004 Tuesday

Armenia hopes for peaceful settlement of Adzharia situation

By Tigran Liloyan

YEREVAN

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said he was hoping that Tbilisi
and Batumi would settle their disagreements through talks. Yerevan
hopes that the situation will normalize and that it will not affect
the functioning of Black Sea ports, he said.

“Georgia on the whole and the Black Sea ports of this country have a
very important significance for Armenia,” Kocharyan said in the
course of his visit to a Defense Ministry’s military college on
Tuesday.

The president noted that Armenia’s authorities wish for a peaceful
settlement of the situation around Adzharia was voiced during the
recent official visit to Yerevan by Georgian leader Mikhail
Saakashvili.

“Stability in Georgia has an extremely important significance for
Armenia,” said Serzh Sarkisyan, Armenia’s Defense Minister and
Secretary of the National Security Council under the president.

The minister said he did not share the view that a new war would
break out in the region.

Direct negotiations are only way to Karabakh settlement- OSCE

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 16, 2004 Tuesday

Direct negotiations are only way to Karabakh settlement- OSCE

By Sevindzh Abdullayeva, Viktor Shulman

BAKU

OSCE thinks that direct negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia
are the only way to the Karabakh settlement, Bulgarian Foreign
Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office Solomon Pasi said at a Tuesday
meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku.

He noted with regret that the OSCE Minsk Group mission had not
brought positive results. “I expect a lot from dialog between the two
presidents, and I will declare that during a visit to Yerevan,” Pasi
said. Pasi will go to Yerevan on Tuesday evening for discussing the
Karabakh problem with the Armenian administration.

The Azerbaijani president said he hoped for more intensive efforts of
the Minsk Group in the Karabakh settlement. The unsettled problem “is
a great danger to the region,” he said.

“Solomon Pasi promised support to the Azerbaijani striving for closer
integration into Europe,” the AzerTadz news agency reports.

The absence of dialog is characteristic of conflicts in the South
Caucasus, Pasi said. He noted that OSCE would boost dialog between
Azerbaijan and Armenia for settling the Karabakh conflict. “We can
offer a dozen of settlement options, but neither of them will be
workable until Azerbaijan and Armenia reach understanding,” he said.

Putin receives congratulations on his re-election

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 16, 2004 Tuesday

Putin receives congratulations on his re-election

MOSCOW

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to receive numerous
congratulations on his re-election to the highest executive post in
Russia from foreign leaders.

Vladimir Putin and his ARMENIAN counterpart Robert Kocharyan held a
telephone talk, a source in the Russian Presidential press service
told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. The Armenian side initiated the talk to
congratulate Vladimir Putin on “great success in the March 14
presidential election in Russia.”

Kocharyan and Putin also discussed practical issues of the
Russian-Armenian cooperation and situation in the Transcaucasia.

UZBEKISTAN President Islam Karimov telephoned Vladimir Putin on
Tuesday, the source said. During the conversation, Islam Karimov
expressed sincere congratulations to his Russian counterpart on “the
convincing victory in the presidential election.”

The two presidents decided to hold a working meeting in Moscow in
April.

SERBIA and MONTENEGRO President Svetozar Marovic sent a message of
congratulations to Putin on his re-election to presidency.

“I am sure that you, filling this executive post, will continue to
make efforts for the further successful development and prosperity of
friendly Russia for the benefit of all its citizens,” Marovic said in
the message.

A source in the Serbia and Montenegro presidential office conveyed
the message to Itar-Tass.

“The deepening of political dialogue with Russia, development of
many-sided and mutually advantageous cooperation and keeping of
traditionally close contacts between our two states” are of much
importance to Serbia and Montenegro, Marovic said.

JAPANESE Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi phoned Vladimir Putin to
congratulate him on his winning the presidential election, the source
said.

The two parties also discussed the vital issues of bilateral
cooperation in 2004, including the schedule of high-level contacts.

Chairman of CHINA’s Central Military Council (CMC), former president
Jiang Zemin warmly congratulated Vladimir Putin in a telegram on his
re-election to the post of Russian president for the second term.

Former Chinese leader expressed confidence that the joint efforts of
the two parties will ensure still more brilliant prospects for
strategic partnership between China and Russia, Xinhua news agency
reported.

On the previous day, Chinese Chairman Hu Jintao congratulated
Vladimir Putin on a landslide re-election for the second term.

Pernod Ricard Latvia boosts turnover 34 pct to Eur. 2 mln in 2003

Baltic News Service
March 15, 2004

ALCOHOL WHOLESALER PERNOD RICARD LATVIA BOOSTS TURNOVER 34 PCT TO EUR
2 MLN IN 2003

RIGA

Pernod Ricard Latvia premium alcoholic beverage wholesaler posted a
turnover of 1.346 million last (EUR 2 mln) in 2003, up 34 percent in
the previous year, reported the company.

The company sold a total of 167,000 liters of beverages, mainly
brandy, cognac, tequila, vodka and wine last year, up 28.5 percent.

20.5 percent of the beverages sold by the company come from Armenia’s
Erevan Brandy Company and its Ararat brandy.

Pernod Ricard Latvia is a subsidiary of the Groupe Pernod Ricars,
Europe’s largest alcohol producer, and was established in 1998.

ARKA News Agency – 03/16/2004

ARKA News Agency
March 16 2004

Forum dedicated to international Women Month to take place on March
19 in Yerevan

ArmenTel tries to evict largest provider of Armenia Arminco Company
from the market

RA Deputy Foreign Minister receives the Ambassador of Ghana to
Armenia

Armenian PM releases Martun Matevosyan from position of Yerevan Vice
Mayor

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

FORUM DEDICATED TO INTERNATIONAL WOMEN MONTH TO TAKE PLACE ON MARCH
19 IN YEREVAN

YEREVAN, March 16. /ARKA/. Forum dedicated to International Women
Month will take place on March 19 in Yerevan, US Embassy to Armenia
told ARKA. The forum will discuss the role of women in such spheres
as international relations, politics, business, mass media and
legislation. L.D. –0–

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

ARMENTEL TRIES TO EVICT LARGEST PROVIDER OF ARMENIA ARMINCO COMPANY
FROM THE MARKET

YEREVAN, March 16. /ARKA/. Armentel tries to evict largest provider
of Armenia – Arminco Company -from the market, Director General of
Arminco Global Telecommunications Andranik Alexanian stated today. He
said that Armentel does not create conditions for development of IT
sector and prevents the one who wants to do it. Alexanian stressed
that Armentel sent official letter to Arminco stating that the
infrastructures created by the provider are illegal. `If Armentel
does it deliberately it means that the company damages us on
purpose’, he said. He added that Arminco plans to build its own cable
through Mehri to Georgia to avoid communication with Armentel.
Joint Russian-Armenian Company Arminco Global Telecommunications was
founded in 1991. 80% of the shares belongs to Armenian party.
The Armenian Government took decision on 8 September 2003 to deprive
ArmenTel company of its monopoly license on mobile services and
Internet.
The Greek telecommunication company OTE obtained through an
international tendering 90% of shares of the telecommunication
company ArmenTel for USD 142.42 mln in the end of 1997. The rest 10%
of shares belong to the Armenian Government. According to the
agreement terms signed by the Armenian Government, ArmenTel was
awarded monopoly rights in the telecommunications sphere for the
period of 15 years. According to the agreement, OTE has undertaken a
commitment to invest in the Armenian telecommunication network USD
200 mln during the first five years. L.D. -0 –

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

RA DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER RECEIVES THE AMBASSADOR OF GHANA TO
ARMENIA

YEREVAN, March 16. /ARKA/. RA Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Margarian
received the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ghana to
Armenia Francis Yahaya Mahama (residence in Moscow), RA NA told ARKA.
The parties noted the necessity of stimulation of links and
development of cooperation between Armenia and African countries and
the role of Ghana in this issue. Margarian expressed hope that the
relations of the countries will receive new stimuli during diplomatic
activity of newly appointed Ambassador.
Yahaya Mahama in his turn stressed the interest of his country in
establishment of multilateral relations with Armenia. He noted the
importance of direct contacts between the businessmen of the two
countries. L.D. –0 –

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

ARMENIAN PM RELEASES MARTUN MATEVOSYAN FROM POSITION OF YEREVAN VICE
MAYOR

YEREVAN. March 16. /ARKA/. The decree by the Armenian PM Andranik
Margarian released Martun Matevosyan from the position of Yerevan’s
Vice Mayor, as ARKA News Agency was told in the Armenian Government
Apparatus Public Relations and Press Department. T.M. -0–

ASBAREZ Online [03-16-2004]

ASBAREZ ONLINE
TOP STORIES
03/16/2004
TO ACCESS PREVIOUS ASBAREZ ONLINE EDITIONS PLEASE VISIT OUR
WEBSITE AT <;HTTP://

1) House Members Urge Speaker Hastert to Schedule Vote on Genocide Resolution
2) ARF Armenia Condemns British Ambassador’s Ignorant Remarks
3) Kocharian Congratulates Putin, Talks about Region
4) “No War, No Peace” Mood Settles over Renegade Georgian Region of Ajaria
5) Melkonian Educational Institute to Close in June 2005

1) House Members Urge Speaker Hastert to Schedule Vote on Genocide Resolution

–REP. RADANOVICH LEADS EFFORT IN SUPPORT OF H.RES.193

WASHINGTON, DC (ANCA)–A bi-partisan group of over 60 House Members called on
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) last Friday, to bring the Genocide
Resolution–H.Res.193–for a full floor vote.
“As we saw in Rwanda a decade ago, and as we witness today the signs of a
possible new genocide emerging around the world–as a government and a
people–we must make sure that we apply the lessons of past genocide to
prevent
future crimes against humanity,” stresses the letter initiated by Rep.
Radanovich (R-CA).
The Genocide resolution was introduced in the House last April by
Representatives Radanovich, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Congressional Armenian
Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). It was
adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee in May, and has 111
cosponsors. Its companion legislation in the Senate, S.Res.164, was introduced
last June by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and currently
has 37 cosponsors.
The resolution, in an effort to stop future atrocities, cites the importance
of remembering past crimes against humanity, including the Armenian Genocide,
Holocaust, Cambodian, and Rwandan genocides. Support for the measure has been
widespread, with a diverse coalition of over 100 ethnic, religious, civil and
human rights organizations calling for its passage, including American Values,
National Organization of Women, Sons of Italy, NAACP, Union of Orthodox
Rabbis,
and the National Council of La Raza.
Joining Rep. Radanovich in cosigning the letter to Speaker Hastert were
Representatives: Tom Allen (D-ME), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),
Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Howard Berman (D-CA), Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Tim
Bishop (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Michael Capuano
(D-MA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jerry Costello (D-IL),
Joseph Crowley (D-NY), William Delahunt (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), John
Dingell (D-MI), Elliot Engel (D-NY), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA),
Michael Ferguson (R-NJ), Bob Filner (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Scott Garrett
(R-NJ), Mark Green (R-WI), Jim Greenwood (R-PA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Luis
Gutierrez (D-IL), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Michael Honda
(D-CA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Jerry
Kleczka (D-WI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), James Langevin (D-RI), Jim Leach
(R-IA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nita
Lowey
(D-NY), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edward Markey (D-MA),
James McGovern (D-MA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Marty Meehan (D-MA), Juanita
Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton
(D-DC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY),
Steven
Rothman (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Mark Souder (R-IN),
John Sweeney (R-NY), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The full text of the letter follows.

Text to Speaker Dennis Hastert

Dear Speaker Hastert:

We are writing to share with you our strong support for bringing H.
Res. 193 to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.
This measure, as you know, commemorates the 15th anniversary of the U.S.
implementation of the Genocide Convention and reinforces our nation’s
dedication to this landmark human rights treaty. Approved in the shadow of the
Holocaust, the Convention stands today as the international community’s best
hope for the realization of the noble aim of eradicating forever the crime of
genocide. The House Judiciary Committee, recognizing the importance of this
effort, adopted H. Res. 193 without opposition on May 21st. One hundred and
ten Representatives have cosponsored this measure, including both the Chairman
and Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.
As we saw in Rwanda a decade ago, and as we witness today the signs of a
possible new genocide emerging around the world, as a government and a people,
we must make sure that we apply the lessons of past genocide to prevent future
crimes against humanity. Sadly, even as we confront new genocides, we still
have among us those who, against all facts and morality, deny the Holocaust or
seek to rewrite the history of the past atrocities. These hateful deniers
dishonor the dead and threaten the living. They make the world a more
dangerous place by emboldening future potential perpetrators of genocide to
believe that their crimes can be committed with impunity. Adolf Hitler
confirmed this with his chilling remark to his military staff prior to
launching the Holocaust, “who, after all remembers the annihilation of the
Armenians.”
Clearly, the struggle against genocide is not over. The pressing need to
remain ever vigilant was underscored recently by Samantha Power, Pulitzer
Prize
winning author of ” A Problem from Hell: American in the Age of Genocide.”
Commenting on similar legislation in the 107th Congress, she noted that, “For
too long American leaders and citizens have reflexively uttered the phrase
‘never again’ without taking concrete steps to give the slogan meaning. This
legislation marks the beginning of a twenty-first century campaign to get the
U.S. government to commit itself politically and operationally to prevent
future genocide.”
Recalling your support for H.Res. 596 in the 106th Congress and knowing of
your principled advocacy for human rights around the world, we ask that you
please move quickly to schedule a vote on H.Res. 193. Thank you for your
consideration of our request.

2) ARF Armenia Condemns British Ambassador’s Ignorant Remarks

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Speaking at the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday, Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (ARF) NA faction leader Levon Mkrtchian condemned
British Ambassador to Armenia Thorda Abbott-Watt’s statements on the Armenian
Genocide.
“A foreign ambassador is obliged to honor the principles and the history of
the people of the country to which they are assigned. . . We have to question
the effectiveness of the ambassador’s future activity in Armenia,” said
Mkrtchian, and asked: “Is the ambassador aware of her country’s policies in
the
Middle East in the period between 1880’s and 1918? If so, what could prompt
her
to make such statements?”
He suggested that if the ambassador is ignorant of the policy, she should
begin to review British diplomatic literature on the issue that sharply
differs
from her view.
Abbott-Watt was quoted by Armenian media as saying that “I do not think that
recognizing the events [1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Empire] as
genocide would be much of use.” In later comments, she had said that the
evidence “was not sufficiently unequivocal that what took place could be
categorized as genocide under the 1948 United Nations Convention on
genocide.”
“We are going to pose these questions to Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs
as well, and ask that the issue at hand–the ambassador’s announcement–as
well
as her behavior be addressed with great seriousness,” said the ARF leader.

3) Kocharian Congratulates Putin, Talks about Region

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian congratulated the re-elected
president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, in a phone conversation
today, where both leaders also discussed issues concerning Armenian-Russian
cooperation, as well as the situation in the South Caucasus region.

4) “No War, No Peace” Mood Settles over Renegade Georgian Region of Ajaria

BATUMI (Eurasianet.org)–A mood of “no war, no peace” spread over the renegade
Georgian region of Ajaria on Tuesday, amid calls by the international
community
for restraint. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili appeared in no mood for
mediation, as he accused Ajaria of engaging in “banditry” and “treachery.” In
Batumi, despite the imposition of an economic blockade, Ajarian leaders are
remaining steadfast in their refusal to submit to Tbilisi’s authority.
Since Ajarian police prevented Saakashvili from entering the region on March
14, both sides have mobilized for a fight, while probing for an opening to
negotiate. Many observers believe that a prospect for compromise, if one
exists
at all, is very small. Both Saakashvili and Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze
have
shown no willingness to be the first to make concessions. Saakashvili remains
insistent that Tbilisi’s authority take precedence over Ajaria’s,
especially in
the area of customs and tax revenue collection. Abashidze, meanwhile, rejects
any move that could reduce his control over the regional apparatus.
Saakashvili has explicitly stated that he will not negotiate with Abashidze,
casting the Tbilisi-Batumi dispute as a make-or-break moment for his
administration’s credibility. He insists that Georgia’s sovereignty depends on
Tbilisi’s ability to assert its authority over all regions of the country.
“Either we now stand firm, all together, and once and for all eradicate
banditry, feudalism, and treachery in Georgia … or we will no longer
exist as
a state,” Saakashvili said.
Abashidze claims that Saakashvili’s aggressive stance is pushing the Ajarian
leadership down a secessionist path. Unless Tbilisi moderates its position on
revenue collection, Abashidze hinted that Ajaria, like Georgia’s other
autonomous regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would seek to make a formal
break with the central government. “We have already brought Abkhazia and South
Ossetia to the stage of separatism; we have forced them to leave Georgia,”
Abashidze was quoted as saying by the Russian RIA news agency. “Ajaria should
not be treated this way.”
Georgian officials have stressed that they have no intention of resorting to
arms to compel Batumi’s recognition of Tbilisi’s authority. However, Ajarian
leaders suggested the possibility of a clash remained high. “We have
sufficient
strength to meet force with force,” said Jemal Gogitidze, an Ajarian security
official told the Russian Itar-Tass news agency.
Georgian leaders are presently striving to tighten an economic blockade they
imposed on Ajaria on Monday. Georgian warships reportedly prevented at
least 10
vessels from entering Batumi harbor. In addition, Turkey appears to be
honoring
a Georgian government request to close its border crossing into Ajaria.
According to accounts from Tbilisi, the early effectiveness of the blockade
has
unsettled Abashidze. They point to reports that the Ajarian leader has placed
several calls to Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania over the past 24 hours
to bitterly complain about the closure of the Batumi port.
The dangerous escalation in tension has already prompted several mediation
attempts. In a telephone conversation, US Secretary of State Colin Powell
urged
Saakashvili “not to allow this situation … to escalate,” a State Department
spokesman said on Monday. Powell also contacted Russian officials, seeking
assurances that Russian troops based in Batumi would not become involved in
the
dispute. In addition, US Ambassador to Georgia Richard Miles met with Georgian
leaders to promote a negotiated settlement.
Solomon Passy, the Bulgarian foreign minister who currently serves as the
chairman-in-office for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe,
held telephone talks with Abashidze, calling on the Ajarian leader to help
preserve the “peace, stability, and territorial integrity of Georgia.”
Also on Monday, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov arrived in Ajaria to act as a
go-between for Ajarian and Georgian officials. Georgian officials view such
initiatives with suspicion, given that the sympathies of Russian leaders lie
with Abashidze. Luzhkov told the Moscow daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta that he
embarked on his mission to Ajaria out of a desire to express solidarity with
Abashidze. “We consider ourselves brothers and, at a time like this, one wants
to stay close,” Luzhkov said. The Moscow mayor added that the source of
existing tension “does not come from Ajaria–it comes from Tbilisi.” The
newspaper report indicated Luzhkov didn’t coordinate his mission to Batumi
with
the Russian Foreign Ministry.
In Moscow, Russian politicians have been quick to criticize Saakashvili for
the Georgian government’s “unpredictable policy.” The deputy chairman of the
Russian Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, suggested
that Saakashvili’s unsuccessful attempt to enter Ajaria on Monday may have
been
an act designed to provoke a confrontation, the Itar-Tass news agency
reported.
Kosachev also suggested that much of the goodwill built during Saakashvili’s
early February visit to Moscow had dissipated amid the Ajaria tension.
Observers in Tbilisi believe the pressure will build on Saakashvili in the
coming days to take action to break the existing stalemate. Georgia’s
parliamentary elections are scheduled for March 28. If the status quo remains
in place on election day, most experts say Ajaria will not participate,
therefore discrediting the results. A faulty election would be a political
disaster for Saakashvili’s administration, perhaps permanently hampering its
ability to promote reforms.
The March 28 elections are also exerting influence over Abashidze’s
decisions,
analysts believe. Elections in Ajaria are routinely rigged in favor of
Abashidze and his political allies, observers explain. Saakashvili’s stated
desire for a free and fair vote is seen as a threat to Abashidze’s
stranglehold
over Ajaria’s political system. Thus, many believe Abashidze is anxious to
find
an excuse to cancel the vote in the region. Kote Kemularia, Georgia’s
ambassador to Russia, said Abashidze’s aim is “to wreck the parliamentary
elections in Georgia” and so “obstruct the establishment of democracy in the
country,” Itar-Tass reported.
While Saakashvili undoubtedly feels a need to act, his options may be
limited.
Political analysts in Tbilisi say that the Georgian military has the
capability
to subdue Ajarian defense units, but only in the event that Russian forces in
Ajaria remain neutral. Russian military commanders have said that the Batumi
garrison will under no circumstances intervene in the Ajarian dispute. At the
same time, Russian politicians have stated that Moscow cannot be a bystander.
Some Georgian political analysts believe that if Saakashvili attempts
military
action, Russian troops stationed in Batumi would come to the aid of Abashidze.
Moscow has a geopolitical interest in promoting tension, even conflict, some
Tbilisi experts maintain. Saakashvili has repeatedly stressed a desire to
steer
Georgia out of Russia’s sphere of influence and into the Western camp. A
conflict in Ajaria would offer Moscow an opportunity to again insert itself
into Georgian domestic affairs, and thus bring a halt to Georgia’s drift
towards the West.

5) Melkonian Educational Institute to Close in June 2005

NICOSIA–The Central Board of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)
announced that The Melkonian Educational Institute (MEI) will close in 2005.
The statement (full text below) reads that, “after extensive deliberations and
thorough assessment, the Central Board has resolved unanimously to discontinue
MEI [operations] in June 2005. This decision is based largely on the Board’s
conclusion that MEI no longer meets the challenges of its mission in the
present context of the Armenian world.”
The ‘Gibrahayer’ website reported that the situation at Melkonian on Tuesday
morning was very sad. Staff members were shocked and devastated by the
decision, while students tearfully staged a demonstration under the eyes of
the
local TV channels and press.

The following is the complete text of the Board’s unanimous decision:

(AGBU Website)–In the spirit of the discussion and analyses at the AGBU
General Assembly meeting in October, 2002, and consistent with the on-going
assessment of our educational institutions and activities worldwide, the
Central Board has carefully evaluated AGBU programs in respect to their past
achievements, current challenges, and future prospects. The Board has done so
in furtherance of the goals of the organization and its founding fathers.
The Melkonian Educational Institute (MEI), as a significant and historical
institution within AGBU, has been a concern of the Central Board over many
years. After extensive deliberations and thorough assessment, the Central
Board
has resolved unanimously to discontinue MEI in June 2005. This decision is
based largely on the Board’s conclusion that MEI no longer meets the
challenges
of its mission in the present context of the Armenian world. The Board fully
recognizes and honors the continued legacy of the visionary Melkonian Brothers
and is determined to perpetuate their memory through new educational programs
to be implemented within and outside Cyprus, in line with the spirit of their
donation to AGBU.
Throughout its century-long history, AGBU has survived and thrived primarily
because it has recognized and addressed the needs of the Armenian people,
taking bold and forward-looking initiatives in challenging times as necessary.

The statement is signed by AGBU Central Board members.

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BAKU: OSCE Chair Calls on Azerbaijan, Armenia to Continue NK Talks

16 March 2004

OSCE CHAIRMAN CALLS ON AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA TO CONTINUE TALKS ON
NAGORNO-KARABAKH

BAKU, 16 March 2004 – The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Bulgarian Foreign
Minister Solomon Passy, has called upon the sides involved in the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to continue dialogue without any preconditions.

Speaking in Baku, on Tuesday, the Chairman-in-Office said: “The key to the
solution is in direct dialogue.”

“The OSCE is always prepared to be a facilitator. We can offer many
scenarios on the resolution of the conflict but it will all be just
laboratory work until both Azerbaijan and Armenia reach an agreement at the
table. The only scenario that will work is the one which is negotiated
directly, with mutual compromises.”

Nagorno-Karabakh was one of the main topics in discussions which the OSCE
Chairman-in-Office held with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev.

During his visit to Baku, the Chairman-in-Office also met Prime Minister
Artur Rasi-Zade, the Speaker of Parliament, Murtuz Aleskerov, and Foreign
Minister Vilayat Guliyev, as well as opposition leaders and representatives
of non-governmental organizations.

Minister Passy said the OSCE Minsk Group was working very hard to help
achieve a solution to the conflict. “But the OSCE is not capable of miracles
and can’t impose a ready solution. History teaches us that with conflicts
time always works against us. The later a solution is found, the more
painful it may be for the people of the region.”

The Chairman-in-Office expressed hope that education, a priority of the
Bulgarian OSCE Chairmanship, would eventually play a role in resolving the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In particular, he noted the importance of having
accurate and objective history books.

“We must invest in the education of the next generation,” the Minister said.
“If we allow our children to be misled by propaganda, the next generation
will find it hard to be objective and walk away from old scars.”

Another topic in the discussions was the follow-up to the recommendations to
the report of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
on the conduct of the Presidential Election of 15 October last year.

“I believe we may now move on, utilizing the lessons learned and thereby
opening the way to free and fair municipal elections, scheduled for later
this year,” the Chairman-in-Office said. “I trust they may provide a
substantial platform for building public confidence across the political
spectrum.”

Minister Passy also brought up the question of disturbances after the
October election and the arrest of a number of people who are now awaiting
trial. He said he had a positive reaction on this issue from President
Aliyev.

“I am pleased to note that court proceedings are now underway. It is my
fervent hope that the process will be transparent and the judgements fair
and appropriate,” he said.

Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

http://usinfo.state.gov