Georgia: Konstantine Gamsakhurdia Sees ‘Great Victories’ Ahead

Radio Free Europe, Czech Republic
March 24 2004

Georgia: Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, Son of Late President, Sees ‘Great
Victories’ Ahead
By Jean-Christophe Peuch

Gamsakhuria approves of Pres. Saakashvili’s (above) efforts to gain
control over Adjaria

Georgia is gearing up for a partial rerun of the disputed 2 November
parliamentary elections that heralded the demise of President Eduard
Shevardnadze’s government. A total of 19 parties and coalitions will
compete for seats in the legislature. RFE/RL correspondent
Jean-Christophe Peuch takes a closer look at one of these groups, led
by the son of Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Georgia’s first post-Soviet
president.

Prague, 24 March 2004 (RFE/RL) — Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the
eldest son of late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, made his first
public appearance in Tbilisi last week (17 March) after more than a
decade of exile in Switzerland.

“Those 12 years I have just left behind seem to me just a one-second
interval after which I set foot again on Georgian soil,’ he began. `A
big marathon is awaiting us. I came back in a defeated country. Yet,
I hope we will achieve great victories. Long live Georgia!”

Critics accuse Saakashvili of dangerously stirring nationalist
feelings among his fellow citizens, while supporters say his policies
stem from a purported 18th-century, American or French, tradition of
“romantic patriotism.”A few hours earlier, as most of the Georgian
capital was still asleep, several hundred cheering supporters had
welcomed “Koko” — as he is affectionately called — at the Tbilisi
airport.

Obviously moved by the reception, Gamsakhurdia improvised an
impassioned speech just outside the airport.

“I’m glad that after 12 years of exile, I am offered the opportunity
to set foot again on Georgian soil. Like all Georgian patriots who
have once lived far away from their native land — as the great
[19th-century poet] Ilia [Chavchavadze] — I am tormented by the
following questions — What shall I tell my country? What shall my
country tell me?”

The 42-year-old Konstantine Gamsakhurdia — named after his
grandfather, Georgia’s famous 20th-century novelist — is the leader
of the right-wing nationalist Tavisupleba (Liberty) party, one of the
19 political groups vying for seats in 28 March legislative polls.

He has conducted a belated and low-profile campaign, meeting with
voters mainly in Tbilisi and in his late father’s traditional
stronghold of western Georgia.

Although the movement was set up as a party only after the 4 January
presidential elections that saw Mikheil Saakashvili succeed ousted
President Eduard Shevardnadze, its support has been increasing. Two
recent surveys ranked Tavisupleba among the three parties that enjoy
the strongest popular support after the ruling National
Movement-United Democrats coalition.

True, the polls indicate that only the latter looks set to win enough
votes to enter the legislature. But Mikheil Machavariani, the
secretary-general of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania’s ruling United
Democrats, recently told RFE/RL he believes Tavisupleba and two other
nongovernmental groups will overcome the 7-percent vote barrier
required to win parliamentary seats.

Georgia’s Kavkaz-Press news agency said (22 March) the rating of
Gamsakhurdia’s party had increased from 1 percent to 6 percent over
the past four weeks. It is believed that Tavisupleba is appealing
especially to Georgians who feel nostalgic for the early years of
post-Soviet independence when Abkhazia and South Ossetia had not
completed their secession.

Those voters include, naturally, supporters of Zviad Gamsakhurdia.
The Zviadists — as they are known in Georgia — have set up a number
of small parties that are engaged in a bitter rivalry over
Gamsakhurdia’s political heritage. Among them is the former
president’s widow, Manana Archvadze-Gamsakhurdia, who returned from
exile in 1997 and has been running an impotent “shadow cabinet” for
the past four years.

Many prominent sympathizers of the late leader have joined the ranks
of mainstream right-wing parties, such as Saakashvili’s
National-Movement or Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze’s Agordzineba
(Democratic Revival Union).

Political experts believe Konstantine Gamsakhurdia could, more than
anyone else, appeal to the rank-and-file Zviadists.

Merab Pachulia is director of a respected polling agency known as the
Georgian Opinion Research Business International, or GORBI. He tells
our correspondent that this potential stems more from Gamsakhurdia’s
charisma and pedigree than from his political views.

“[Unlike other Zviadists], he is the direct heir to former President
Gamsakhurdia,” Pachulia said. “That is where his main attraction
lies. But there is more to it. He very much looks like his late
father, not only physically, but also in the way he speaks and moves
around. This, of course, is of great help to him because — as of
today, in any case — he has refrained from making any clear-cut
[political] statement or proposing any pragmatic step to extirpate
Georgia from its present situation. If he succeeds in overcoming the
7-percent vote barrier, he will owe it mainly to the fact that he is
his father’s son. Nobody has heard of him or read anything from him
for the past 12 years when he had been in Switzerland, be it an
article or an interview in which he would have criticized the ruling
regime. His only political background is provided by his father and
his father’s former comrades-in-arms that are still alive and live in
Georgia.”

Gamsakhurdia and his supporters have been particularly sparing of
words when it comes to detailing their electoral platform. When
reporters last week asked him about his long-term political goals, he
remained evasive while also attempting to distance himself from his
late father’s xenophobic policies.

“[Our goal is] to enter the Georgian Parliament,” he said. “We will
be more specific when we become a member of parliament. Our priority
is to prepare Georgia’s entry into the European Union, and one of the
conditions for that is to protect the rights of our ethnic
minorities.”

Asked about his views on Saakashvili’s policies, Gamsakhurdia simply
indicated he approved of the government’s efforts to restore control
over Georgia’s autonomous province of Adjaria.

Critics accuse Saakashvili of dangerously stirring nationalist
feelings among his fellow citizens, while supporters say his policies
stem from a purported 18th-century American, or French, tradition of
“romantic patriotism.”

Even before being elected in January, Saakashvili had set up a
government commission to investigate the circumstances of
Gamsakhurdia’s death in 1993.

Georgia’s first post-Soviet leader was deposed after a few months in
power by a military coup that paved the way for Shevardnadze’s return
to his homeland. Zviad Gamsakhurdia fled first to Armenia, then to
Grozny to join Chechen separatist leader Djokhar Dudayev. He died in
western Georgia while attempting to retake power at the head of his
armed supporters. Officially, he committed suicide, but his
supporters claim he was assassinated.

He was reburied in Chechnya a few months after his death.

Following his decision to pardon 30 prisoners sentenced in 1992 for
supporting Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Saakashvili on 9 March said he wants
the late president’s remains to be repatriated to Georgia.
Saakashvili said his decision is motivated not only by his “respect”
for the former leader, but also by his desire to make the best use of
the Zviadists’ “patriotism.’

“We should offer the best patriots Georgia has — I mean here the
majority of Zviadists, or rather, all 100 percent of them — the
opportunity to put their patriotism to good use and contribute to the
reconstruction of the country.”

Although formally in the opposition, Tavisupleba officials have
indicated they may support Saakashvili’s government after the
legislative elections.

Last month (18 Feb), Georgia’s Prime news agency quoted Sandro
Bregadze, a leading Tavisupleba member, as saying he does not see any
particular reason why the party should remain in opposition since the
government’s policies are — in his words — “acceptable.”

GORBI director Pachulia also believes an alliance between Tavisupleba
and the ruling coalition is possible, although he says he cannot
elaborate on the government’s views on this particular issue.

“All I can say is that when [Konstantine] Gamsakhurdia [a few days
ago] met passers-by on [Tbilisi’s main] Rustaveli Avenue, he was
accompanied by those same jeeps that usually travel with government
officials. I am not the only one who has witnessed that. Already from
this you can start making your own judgment. Barred from any personal
hatred, I believe [cooperation between Tavisupleba and the ruling
coalition] is possible and that they will work together. I do not
mean that the two parties will merge, but I would not be surprised if
they worked together. That would seem normal, and this is probably
what is going to happen.”

The Central Election Commission initially indicated that the
Tavisupleba leader could be barred from running as a candidate
because — under Georgian law — only citizens who have been
residents of the country for at least the past two years are
eligible.

But a commission spokesman told RFE/RL the election body eventually
gave Gamsakhurdia the green light after finding out that he had been
granted the status of political refugee by Swiss authorities and had
been registered as such by the Georgian Embassy in Geneva.

CENN Daily Digest – 03/24/2004

CENN – MARCH 24, 2004 DAILY DIGEST
Table of Content:
1. Association Green Alternative
2. Two Construction Companies To Work on Georgian Site of Oil Pipeline
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
3. Baku -Supsa Pipeline Turns 5
4. YBC Concerned Over Possible Spread of Phylloxera in Ararat Valley
5. Uprooted and Ruined: Greed crisis does more damage than energy crisis
to Yerevan ‘s `green belt’
6. UNDP Launches Kazakhstan InfoBase

1. ASSOCIATION GREEN ALTERNATIVE
STATEMENT

March 22, 2003 — Green Alternative lost the court case in the Appeal
(Regional) Court against the Ministry of Environment of Georgia and the
BTC Co.

Last year Green Alternative filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of
Environment and the BTC Co claiming that constitutional rights of
Georgian citizens, as well as rights determined by the Aarhus
Convention, which provide for proper access to information and
meaningful participation in the decision-making process were violated
when the decision was taken by the Georgian Government to grant
environmental permit for the construction of the Georgian section of the
BTC pipeline.

In the opening speech BTC Co representative stated that Green
Alternative has no `moral right’ to feel abused and bring any
allegations, since Green Alternative was one of the most active NGOs
participating in the process and it is not fair to bring such
allegations against one of the most prominent, environmentally friendly
company with high corporate ethics. The `strongest’ argument against the
GA’s claim was that cancellation of the environmental permit would harm
the national interests of Georgia. BTC Co representative also declared
that BTC Co took all the necessary measures to ensure proper access to
information and the public participation, met all its obligations and
even more, met the obligations of the Ministry of Environment of
Georgia. He argued that the most important is the fact that the
obligations are met, it does not matter who was responsible to meet
them.

During hearing the representative of the Ministry of Environment could
not refused the fact that the ministry did not follow the requirements
of the Georgian law. He admitted that the ministry did not make any
public announcement and hold public meeting before taking decision to
grant environmental permit, as the law required it. However, this
statement was not taken into account by the judges. The fact that the
judges were biased became more obvious when they gave `interpretation’
of the articles of the Georgian Constitution and the Aarhus Convention
stating, that it does not matter when you (GA) got the information,
before or after the decision was taken. The only thing that a matter is
that at the end you (GA) got it.

The court took the decision on dismissal of Green Alternative’s
complaint substantiating its decision by the argument that the rights of
Green Alternative were not violated, since Green Alternative actively
participated in the process and was provided with all necessary
information.

Green Alternative keeps right to apply to the Supreme Court of Georgia
as well as to the Aarhus Convention compliance mechanism.

For contacts:

Manana Kochladze
Nino Gujaraidze

Visiting address: Rustaveli avenue. 1. Entrance I. Floor 4
Mailing address: Chavchavadze 62, Tbilisi, Georgia, 380062
Tel: 99532 93 24 03, 99 04 72
Fax: 22 38 74
E-mail: [email protected]

2. TWO CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES TO WORK ON GEORGIAN SITE OF OIL PIPELINE
BAKU-TBILISI-CEYHAN

In a few days Indian company Ponch Lloud will join construction works
conducted by the French Spie-Capag Petrofac, according to the
information providede by BP, company-operator of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil pipeline construction project. Presumably, the company will work on
the Tsalka (the Kvemo Kartli region) and Akhaltsikhe districts (the
Samtskhe-Javakheti region).
Sarke, March 23, 2004

3. BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE TURNS 5

The 833-km western export pipeline Baku-Supsa beginning from the Baku
terminal Sangachal and ending at the Supsa terminal of the Black Sea
coast of Georgia consists of six pumping and two pressure stations.

The first oil was pumped into the pipe on December 10, 1998 and it
reached the destination on March 11, 1999. The first tanker was
dispatched from Supsa in late March.

Since launching, the personnel has not made any mistakes and missed a
working day.

Hitherto, 200 million barrels of crude have been exported through the
pipeline whose throughput runs out at 200 million barrels a day. In
total, 216 tankers were sent to world markets including 32 tankers with
profitable oil of Azerbaijan. The personnel consist of Azerbaijani and
Georgian citizens. They safely ensured the shipping of Caspian oil to
world markets, vice-president of BP-Azerbaijan on Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli
operations Nil McKlieri.
AzerTag, March 23, 2004

4. YBC CONCERNED OVER POSSIBLE SPREAD OF PHYLLOXERA IN ARARAT VALLEY

The Yerevan Brandy Company (YBC) is concerned over possible spread of
phylloxera in vines of the Ararat valley.

According to the YBC managers, who share the concern expressed by
Professor P. K. Aivazyan of the Armenian Academy of Agriculture, the use
of trellises poses a serious risk of the spread of phylloxera, so it can
endanger the vines of the Ararat valley and, therefore, the production
of Armenian brandy.

The YBC managers believe that the sale of trellises imported from
phylloxera-struck regions must be immediately stopped. The YBC considers
important urgent measures to restrict the area where the trellises have
been sold and quarantine it. The YBC is carrying out explanatory work
among the vine-growers of the Ararat valley.
ARMINFO, March 22, 2004

5. UPROOTED AND RUINED: GREED CRISIS DOES MORE DAMAGE THAN ENERGY CRISIS
TO YEREVAN ‘S `GREEN BELT’

The dramatic proliferation of street cafes in recent years has inflicted
twice as much damage on Yerevan ‘s green belt as the severe energy
crisis of the early 1990s that had forced many residents to cut trees
for heating purposes, according to environmentalists.

The Social-Ecological Association, a local non-governmental
organization, estimates that more than 700 hectares of green areas have
been lost in the construction boom. The trees chopped down a decade ago
covered only 300 hectares of land.

The head of the association, Srbuhi Harutiunyan, stated that the total
area of the capital’s greenery has shrunk from 570 hectares to 507
hectares over the past year alone. `That has mainly been due to
construction carried out in parks and other green areas’.

Yerevan ‘s former presidentially appointed mayor, Robert Nazaryan,
effectively admitted shortly after his sacking last October that he was
often ordered to make land allocations by more powerful officials. He
also said that almost all caf? owners flouted their license terms by
grabbing more land that was rented to them and constructing illegal
premises on it.

The authorities have not made public the amount of revenues the city
gets from the mushrooming eateries. The current mayor, Yervand
Zakharyan, suspects that the municipality is being cheated by the
businesses. Zakharyan, according to his deputy Kamo Areyan, has issued
subordinates with a `

Some NGOs claim that Narek Sargsyan, the municipality’s chief architect
who has kept his job under three different mayors, is key to the land
grab. `He ensures the continuity of the process,’ said Gohar Oganezova
of the Armenian Botanical Society.

Oganezova also complained that relevant government officials usually
blame the problem on their predecessors or other government agencies.
Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazyan appeared to do just that on march
23, 2004 when he claimed to lack the authority to curb the destruction
of trees in Yerevan. `Protecting tress in the city is the municipality’s
job,’ stated Gohar Oganezova.

Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazyan also stated bluntly that his
ministry is often reluctant to bring offenders to book because it does
not want to hinder Armenia ‘s ongoing construction boom.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

6. UNDP LAUNCHES KAZAKHSTAN INFOBASE

UNDP Kazakhstan has launched Kazakhstan InfoBase, an online database of
expanded MDG indicators, which provides an integrated overview of human
development in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan InfoBase was elaborated in cooperation with other donor
agencies to provide free and easy access to statistical data for the
wider community in and outside the country.

Kazakhstan InfoBase is analyzed and sorted by seven thematic areas and
presents data in tables and illustrative charts. Most of indicators are
accompanied with a definition and calculation methodology. The database
is searchable by keywords, contains a glossary and a list of sources
used, both national and international.

We hope that Kazakhstan InfoBase will prove useful and serve for the
benefit of the people of Kazakhstan and a wider international community.

Alma Nurshaikhova
Development Coordination Assistant
UNDP Kazakhstan


*******************************************
CENN INFO
Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN)

Tel: ++995 32 92 39 46
Fax: ++995 32 92 39 47
E-mail: [email protected]
URL:

www.bankwatch.org
www.undp.kz/infobase
www.cenn.org

Armenian women chess players among leaders of Europe championship

ArmenPress
March 24 2004

ARMENIAN WOMEN CHESS PLAYERS AMONG LEADERS OF EUROPE CHAMPIONSHIP

DRESDEN, MARCH 24, ARMENPRESS: Armenian chess women players, Lilit
Mkrtchian, Elina Danielian and Nelly Aghinian have overcome their
rivals in the third round of Europe’s individual championship in
Germany’s Dresden. Lilit Mkrtchian overcame Antoinette Stefanova of
Bulgaria, Elina Danielian snatched the victory from Papadopulo from
Greece and Nelly Aghinian beat Zimina from Russia.
Lilit Mkrtchian with three points is among the leaders, Danielian
and Aghinian won each 2.5 and 2 points.

Info & Training center opens at Agriculture Ministry

ArmenPress
March 24 2004

INFORMATION AND TRAINING CENTER OPENS AT AGRICULTURE MINISTRY

YEREVAN, MARCH 24, ARMENPRESS: Today, the Government of Armenia
and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) opened the
Information and Training Center at the Ministry of Agriculture and
signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the support that UNDP
will provide for the “First Agro-Forum” International Conference. Mr.
Samvel Avetisyan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of
Armenia and Ms. Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident
Representative presided over the event.
By supporting the Information and Training Center, UNDP is
assisting the Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen its capacity in
information management. Internet services will be provided at the
Information Center, helping the Ministry access the most up-to-date
and important information on agricultural issues from around the
world, and training will be conducted to ensure that Ministry staff
have advanced information skills.
In addition to supporting the establishment of the new Center,
UNDP is also supporting the country’s “First Agro-Forum”
International Conference, organized by the Ministry of Agriculture.
The aim of this important conference is to promote agricultural
development in Armenia by introducing the most progressive and
innovative agricultural methods from around the world. An official
website is being developed for the Conference and an information
campaign will be conducted. The fourth “AgroProdExpo” International
Exhibition will be held at the same time as the Conference.
According to Ms. Grande: “The development of agriculture in
Armenia cannot be underestimated. A large part of the population
lives in rural communities and agriculture is the main source of
income for many Armenian families. By strengthening the capacities of
the Ministry of Agriculture and helping to promote agricultural
development, we are helping to reduce poverty and inequality in
Armenia. We hope that the Ministry staff will use this new
Information Center to successfully communicate with the general
public, including the mass media.”
Mr. Avetisian noted: “Our cooperation with UNDP has a long
history, and we are grateful that resolution of the problems raised
by the Ministry is always supported by our counterpart. The
Information Center, the network and the website will promote the
Ministry of Agriculture worldwide, and we are confident that this
will help us forge effective partnerships with international and
local organizations, bilateral donors, foreign governments and
private companies.”
The “First Agro-Forum” International Conference and the fourth
“AgroProdExpo” International Exhibition will be held in Yerevan on
October 28-29, 2004.

$544m transferred by Armenians abroad to relatives in 2003

ArmenPress
March 24 2004

$544 MILLION TRANSFERRED BY ARMENIANS ABROAD IN 2003 TO RELATIVES

YEREVAN, MARCH 24, ARMENPRESS: The amount of cash sent home by
Armenians working abroad, the main source of income for thousands of
families, reached last year some $544 million, as much as Armenia’s
budget was, showing an $85 million growth over the previous year.
According to Armenia’s Central Bank, Russia accounts for most of
the remittances increasingly handled by local commercial banks. Some
$395 million were remitted from Russia, followed by the USA- almost
$60 million, Germany-$13.1 million and Switzerland-$10.2 million.
The amount of money transfers to USA from Armenia last year was
$63.5 million, to Russia-$56.7 million, $40 million were remitted to
the United Arab Emirates, $26 million to Turkey and $23 million to
Iran.
Commissions charged for such services have considerably dropped as
a result of growing competition among the local banks specializing in
the business.

Local Exhibitions: “Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings”

Houston Press
March 24 2004

Capsule Reviews
A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

“Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings” Born in Turkish Armenia
in 1904, Vosdanik Adoian would grow up to be Arshile Gorky, one of
America’s most important and influential artists, but he would never
forget the land of his birth and the village of his difficult
childhood. This intimate retrospective at the Menil Collection
follows Gorky’s progress from his apprenticeship to the masters
through his cubist exercises to his breakthrough in the 1940s. Aided
by a return to drawing from nature and abetted by the surrealists,
Gorky experienced a creative explosion as he filtered the world
before him through his imagination and memory — he drew on his
agrarian childhood for the sinuous shape at the heart of the lyrical
The Plow and the Song. The vitality and energy of his drawings make
their abrupt cessation (Gorky committed suicide at age 44) all the
more poignant. As installed in the Menil, the exhibit has been
judiciously edited down from the ungainly sprawl and visual overload
of the Whitney’s version. Don’t miss the drawings of his mother,
especially the portrait on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, or
the Nighttime, Enigma, and Nostalgia series. Through May 9. 1515 Sul
Ross, 713-525-9400.

Pan Armenian Cultural Festival to be held in Armenia on August 14-23

PRESS RELEASE
March 24, 2004
Embassy of the Republic of Armenia
2225 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20008
Tel: 202-319-1976, x. 348; Fax: 202-319-2982
Email: [email protected]; Web:

Pan Armenian Cultural Festival to be held in Armenia on August 14-23, 2004

A pan-Armenian Cultural Festival will be held in Yerevan, Armenia on August
14-23, 2004. The festival is organized by the Armenian Ministry of Culture
and Youth to promote cultural ties and cooperation between Armenian
organizations and individuals in Armenia and Diaspora, present modern and
traditional Armenian art forms, and promote expression of artistic and
creative spirit in Armenia and Diaspora.

Participation in the festival is open to all cultural and artistic groups
and individuals, as well as representatives of cultural organizations, and
cultural liaison officers of the Armenian communities. The program of the
festival will be finalized in July, after applications from the participants
and suggestions are reviewed.

The deadline for applications is July 1, 2004. For detailed inquiries and
application forms, please contact the Embassy of Armenia, or the Ministry of
Culture and Youth, Government House 3, Yerevan, 375010, Armenia, Tel.
(+374-1) 521972, 526065, fax: (+374-1) 523922, email: [email protected], Web:

www.armeniaemb.org
www.mcya.am.

Russia’s leading foreign trade bank gets 70% Armenian Savings Bank

RIA Novosti
March 24 2004

RUSSIA’S LEADING FOREIGN TRADE BANK GETS ARMENIAN SAVINGS BANK
CONTROL BLOCK

YEREVAN, MARCH 24. (RIA NOVOSTI). The Moscow-based Vneshtorgbank will
acquire 70 per cent stock of the Armenian Savings Bank. Mikhail
Bagdasarov, the latter’s board president, and Andrei Kostin, his
counterpart of the Vneshtorgbank, signed a respective contract in
Yerevan today.

The Armenian block comes as a first-ever sizeable Vneshtorgbank
acquisition in the post-Soviet area, Mr. Kostin said to the media
after the signing ceremony.

Armenia has regained domestic political stability, and its economy
needs ever more money. Then, there are big Russian-based companies
with interests in Armenia, and they must be encouraged, he remarked
to substantiate the deal.

The Vneshtorgbank, or VTB, has ambitious plans for the Armenian
Savings Bank now that it is principal stockholder. Thus, it intends
to increase the authorised capital fivefold, and spectacularly
enhance the range of services, added Andrei Kostin.

Today’s transaction is Armenia’s most lucrative throughout the
post-Soviet years, Mr. Bagdasarov said, in his turn. Armenia still
has its 30 per cent stock, and no big decisions can be taken without
its consent, he emphasised.

Mikhail Bagdasarov described the deal as “not merely mutually
lucrative but necessary for unhampered progress of Armenian-Russian
economic contacts”.

State court administration’s loss is Russia’s gain

Times Union, NY
March 24 2004

State court administration’s loss is Russia’s gain

Albany– Tireless Joseph Traficanti Jr., who oversaw operations in 57
counties, takes on challenge overseas

By MICHELE MORGAN BOLTON, Staff reports

Joseph Traficanti Jr. was known for his sterling character, keen
intellect and tireless enthusiasm in his 13 years as an Office of
Court Administration deputy administrative judge, his soon to be
ex-boss said Tuesday.
The 61-year-old Kingston resident oversaw court operations in 57
counties outside New York City, staffed by more than 3,000 judges and
6,000 court personnel, and always took on additional work cheerfully,
Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said.

But now he’ll use those skills to help developing nations establish a
solid court structure, Lippman said. Traficanti announced his
departure for a career with the U.S. Agency for International
Development project in Russia — and the World Bank project in
Armenia.

“I really am leaving the best job in the world,” Traficanti said
Tuesday. “But if I’m ever going to do something different, it’s
time.”

Traficanti said he knows he will be leaving tangible proof of his
efforts behind.

The court-mandated drug treatment initiative he led now numbers 114
alternative-to-incarceration programs statewide, with another 71 in
various planning stages.

Sharp reductions in criminal and civil caseload backlogs, as well as
alternative dispute resolution initiatives across the state also made
a difference, he said: “This is a new mountain to climb. It’s
frightening and exciting.”

Albany County Judge Stephen W. Herrick called Traficanti’s departure
a great loss.

Herrick has run the county drug court since February 2002, a program
he also started in Albany City Court in 2000.

“I don’t know how anyone can replace him,” Herrick said. “He’s just a
wonderful human being.”

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye added: “I have no doubt that
his vast experience in court administration will be a great asset to
other nations in the fledgling stages of democracy and in modernizing
their judicial systems.”

Traficanti began his career as the town attorney of the town of
Rochester. He also served in the Ulster County district attorney’s
office and conducted a private practice.

He ascended to the bench in 1982 as Ulster County surrogate judge and
has served as acting state Supreme, County and Family Court justice.

He leaves for Russia in May.

Armenia ready to develop economic ties with neighbouring states

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 24, 2004 Wednesday 8:26 AM Eastern Time

Armenia ready to develop economic ties with neighbouring states

By Tigran Liloyan

YEREVAN

Armenia is ready to establish and develop economic relations with all
neighbouring countries without any preconditions, Prime Minister
Andranik Margaryan said.

In his meeting with EU Special Envoy to the South Caucasus Heikki
Talvitie on Wednesday, Margaryan said these relations would provide a
foundation for the peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia’s membership in the Council of Europe and the compliance of
obligations before the CE will allow the country to hope that it will
be able to integrate into a European family, the Armenian prime
minister said.

In his view, the EU efforts to strengthen economic cooperation with
European countries and reforms in Armenia prove that these are real
goals.

Talvitie said the European Union was discussing a possibility of
involving the South Caucasus in Wider Europe/New Neighbours
Initiative. Ambassador Talvitie said he is hopeful that this process
would yield positive results. He is in Yerevan on a four-day visit as
part of an extended regional tour

In order to achieve this goal the EU envoy stressed that it would
necessary to develop regional cooperation, encourage economic
relations between the region and West European countries, and settle
the existing conflicts, in particular the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Talvitie said he is ready to help find a peaceful solution to the
Nagorno-Karabakh problem.