Ramil Safarov’s trial to start Nov. 23 in Hungary


Nov 8 2004

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: An Armenian lawyer will fly soon to
Budapest to represent the interests of a family, whose son, Gurgen
Margarian, was killed last February 19 in Hungary by an Azerbaijani
officer. Margarian, 26, was murdered in his sleep with unusual
cruelty by Ramil Safarov. Margarian’s head was nearly severed from
his blood-stained body which had multiple chest stabs.

Both officers were participating in an English-language course at the
Hungarian University of National Defense as part of NATO’s Partnership
for Peace (PfP) program of which Armenia and Azerbaijan are members.

The lawyer, Nazeli Vardanian, will have to familiarize herself with
the case materials before November 23 when Safarov’s trial is set to
begin. Safarov is accused of committing a premeditated murder with
unusual cruelty and may face a sentence from 15 years in prison up
to life imprisonment.

The trial was postponed after Safarov asked that the indictment must
be translated into Azerbaijani language.

The Armenian International Union of Lawyers has created a team of
lawyers to help Nazeli Vardanian.

Kocharian appoints new nat’l security service chief


Nov 8 2004

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: President Robert Kocharian picked up
today Maj.-General Gorik Hakobian to replace the former chief of the
National Security Service Karlos Petrosian, who resigned last week
at his own request. Before this appointment Gorik Hakobian served as
a deputy chief of the National Security Service.

Gorik Hakobian was born in 1948 in Gyumri. He has been working with
former KGB since 1970 and later with the national security service,
holding different positions. He also served as a deputy interior
minister from 1997 to 1999. He is married and father to two children.

Seismic protection service denies rumors about imminent earthquake


Nov 8 2004

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: Armenia’s National Seismic Protection
Service, an Emergency Department affiliated agency, denied today the
growing rumors that Armenia may be hit by a strong earthquake.

Prompted by the rumors several school principals in Yerevan even
released today students disrupting their classes.

In a statement the agency said these rumors do not represent the
facts. It also said the seismic situation is being closely monitored
by the agency, adding it has not detected any anomalies.

“There are no grounds for anxiety and especially for panic,” the
statement said.

UNDP enhances professional skills of Armenian municipal servants


Nov 8 2004

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: The Ministry for Coordination
of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Operations of
Armenia and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) inaugurated
today a new project on the Establishment of the Municipal Service
System. A UNDP press release said the aim of the project is to support
decentralization and help strengthen communities by focusing on the
legislative, educational, technical and operational systems that
are necessary to ensure viable, accountable and effective local

Considerable progress has been made since local self-governance
was introduced in 1995. Two laws have been adopted and three local
elections have occurred. Armenia has joined the European Charter
of Local Self-Governance and communities are now recognized as
legal entities. Communities receive 100 percent of the revenues from
property and land taxes and a share of the revenues from profit taxes
and nature protection fees.

Despite these achievements, local prerogatives remain limited and
communities still depend on subsidies from the central government
to provide vital public services including education and healthcare.
Widespread poverty and Armenia’s administrative division into large
number of communities remain serious obstacles to effective local

Within the framework of the project launched by Hovik Abrahamian,
Minister for the Coordination of Territorial Administration and
Infrastructure Operations, and Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator and
UNDP Resident Representative, a package of legal acts aimed at ensuring
viable municipal service systems will be introduced. Steps will also
be taken to introduce performance-based budgeting at the local level
and training on fiscal decentralization will be provided to community
heads, members of local councils and municipal civil servants.

Grande noted: “Together with the Government of Armenia we are trying
to strengthen local communities. This is particularly important
because small villages and former industrial towns have suffered
enormously during the past decade. Their economic viability has been
undermined and large parts of their populations have been forced to
emigrate. To ensure that Armenia remains strong and unified and that no
one is left behind, the country needs effective and accountable local
administrations, capable of providing public services and supporting
the general needs of the community.”

The Establishment of Municipal Service System project is a
two-year project with a budget of USD 312,700. To ensure successful
implementation, a Steering Committee will be formed comprised of
representatives of UNDP, Ministry for Coordination of Territorial
Administration and Infrastructure Operations, the Public Administration
Academy of Armenia and other partners.

Young republicans resolute to fights back sects


Nov 8 2004

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS: The youth wing of the ruling
Republican party said Saturday it will shoot a series of video films
based on experiences and ordeals of destroyed families and ruined
people who were members of various totalitarian religious sects.

Armen Ashotian, who heads the youth wing of the party, told Armenpress
that part of materials was provided by Shoghakat Television, run by
the Armenian Apostolic Church.

He said the objective of this action is to force the people’s attention
to pressing problems stirred up by religious sects. “We shall work
to show the real face of the evil hidden behind the sects,” he said,
hoping for cooperation of local commercial televisions.

He also said the wing will work with students of secondary schools,
as the majority of teachers teaching the History of the Armenian
Church are incompetent.

Rally highlights tragedy in Darfur

Rally highlights tragedy in Darfur
by Steven Theobald, Toronto Star

The Toronto Star
November 8, 2004 Monday

Ahmed Krama usually spends chilly Sunday afternoons watching NFL

But yesterday the Sudanese-born lawyer headed to Queen’s Park to join
a rally demanding that Canada help end the humanitarian crisis in

“The world is not doing enough,” said Krama, who immigrated in 1987.
“Everyone knows what is going on there.”

The rally attracted about 500 people, according to Queen’s Park
security staff. Rally organizers, who put the number closer to 1,000,
were gratified by a large media turnout. “We will be able to bring
this into people’s homes and on their doorstep tomorrow morning,”
said Norman Epstein, a Toronto emergency room physician involved with
Canadians Against Slavery and Torture in Sudan.

“Hopefully this will get the situation in Darfur on the radar screen

Boisterous participants, carrying homemade signs, filled time between
speakers with chants to stop the killing in Darfur.

“Where is the Canadian voice? We want to hear the Canadian voice,”
screamed Elfadil El Sharief, a Sudanese-born human rights activist.
“We need the Canadian government to speak in the United Nations.”

A long list of speakers pleaded for Canada to actively seek an end to
the bloodshed and atrocities being committed in Sudan.

“Darfur is descending into anarchy,” said Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton,
general secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches. She said
Canadians must put pressure on Prime Minister Paul Martin, who visits
Sudan later this month. “It is our hope and prayer he finds time to
visit Darfur.”

Amnesty International handed out postcards to Martin, pleading for
action to end “crimes against humanity.”

Among 45 groups at the rally were the Armenian National Committee,
World Vision, the Muslim Canadian Congress and Canadian Jewish
Congress Ontario Region.

“That just shows the level of concern. It’s cross-cutting,” said John
Lewis of KAIROS, a faith-based human rights advocate.

Andres Kasekamp, a visiting history professor from Estonia at the
University of Toronto, attended with his wife and baby girl. He says
Canada has credibility internationally to foster an end to the
crisis. “Canada doesn’t lead much in the world, but for this issue
Paul Martin is showing more interest.”‘Where is the Canadian voice?
We want to hear the Canadian voice’

GRAPHIC: Vince Talotta toronto star Adam, age 2 1 2, was among the
participants at yesterday’s Rally for Darfur, which brought together
a coalition of diverse community and religious groups trying to get
Canada more involved in ending the humanitarian tragedy occurring in
the Sudanese region riven by civil strife and hunger.

ANKARA: Americans re-elect George W. Bush as world leader


Turkish Probe
November 7, 2004

On Nov. 2 Americans of voting age decided upon not only their own
president, but also by definition the world leader for the remainder
of the globe. In re-electing George W. Bush with more votes than ever
recorded before for a presidential candidate in U.S. history, each
and every one of the 120 million or so voters in the United States
decided the short-term fate of much of the world as well as their own.

But was there really a choice? The answer may be “yes and no.” Yes,
there was a choice — but the choice was limited to only two: Bush or
Kerry. Yes, for the world and the United States Bush was the devil you
know with Kerry the unknown. Yes, Bush was known regarsding his fight
against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Kerry — the unknown
quantity — proved not good enough in what was essentially a wartime
election for a trial and error period of 1,460 days in the White House.

The election campaign ended on Nov. 2 neck and neck in a real
photofinish race with the United States divided right down the middle
intellectually and emotionally — as was the case in the presidential
election of 2000. Indeed, when Americans woke up the following
day to find they had as yet no clear winner and no president, many
feared it would be a repetition of four years before with merely a
change of venue; Ohio instead of Florida. As the day wore on, common
sense prevailed and with or without Ohio, John Kerry could not win,
whereupon he accordingly — and graciously — conceded defeat to the
winner, George W. Bush.

As the voting shows, the ordinary U.S. voter could not easily decide
which of the two — Bush or Kerry — was the better bet for them in
this the highest participated election in U.S. history. So it was a
gamble to foretell the popular vote, and even the crystal balls of
the exit polls proved to be wildly wrong in predicting a landslide
victoryfor John Kerry.

Americans are, generally speaking, a predictable and basically
conservative people, and their antiquated election system is the
same. Indeed, it is so complex that even they cannot understand
it, varying as it does from state to state with different rules
and even different ways of voting. In no democratic country in the
world is there anything like this mind-boggling U.S. electoral system
whereby the president is not chosen directly by the number of popular
personal votes, but by the number of Electoral College delegates on
his side. Many Americans have proposed changing this archaic system,
but to no avail. It is not the ordinary man in the mid-West or the
South who determines the next U.S. president, indeed this was the
first time since 1988 that a president received a majority of the
popular vote in addition to an Electoral College majority — this
time by almost four million votes.

In 2000 George W. Bush was announced by the Supreme Court as the winner
by a margin of only 527 votes in a country of 270 million people, Al
Gore with half a million more votes than Bush having been previously
declared the winner by the media for at least three hours. This time
every effort was made to show the system to be fair, not to rush into
a disputed decision or give Michael Moore more material for a sequel
to Fahrenheit 9/11, busy as he was with his cameras around the Florida
polling stations. In addition, for the first time ever and because
of 2000, some 100 Organization for the Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE) representatives, including three Turkish members
of Parliament, monitored the elections for possible irregularities
and vote rigging as if the United States was a developing country,
not the “leader of the free world.”

In addition to choosing the president, this election was also to
decide the 435 members of the House of Representatives and one third
of the Senate. The Republican majority in both houses of Congress,
the Senate and the House of Representatives was also at stake, but in
the event the majority in the House of Representatives was increased
from one to five.

A figure of 270 of the total 538 Electoral College delegate votes
were needed to win the presidency, with the votes being given en
bloc to the winning party in each state. This cutthroat race which,
like that in 2000, had the extra candidate Nader factor, making a
difference this time of two percent as opposed to one percent last
time, was not an easy win for Bush. Like his opponent, he spent
about $ 500,000 on attack advirtisments in this the most vitriolic
and expensive election in U.S. history; about $ 5 billion.

In this wartime election, it was the swing voters who finally
decided the winner on the platform of security and the fight against
terrorism. They were to vote either (i) not to change horses in
midstream or (ii) for Kerry as the “fresh start for America,” to
quote Kerry. To the question asked in the U.S. media, “Is Kerry of
the same timber as Roosevelt, Kennedy or Clinton who built alliances
as commander in chief for a safe and secure United States and the
world?” over half of the United States said “no,” and less than half
said “yes.” Thus Bush, the incumbent, won his case, with half of
America thinking he was the right candidate to represent the heart
and soul of the country, and the other half thinking him to be the
wrong choice for a more secure United States and world.

This was an election fought on the threat of terrorism and about Iraq,
though there were shades of the original Puritan immigrants of some
four hundred years ago with the continual zealous proclamation of
“Christian and family values” throughout the campaign which doubtless
also played a considerable part in the outcome. The question was which
of the two candidates represented the heart and soul of the United
States; Kerry or Bush, with even the fringe issues of gay marriages
and stem cell research entering the equation. In this frantic race no
stone was left unturned by either side, and it seems that the balance
was finally tipped by the evangelical community in Ohio which were
a 23 percent factor in the total votes for Bush there. To quote a
voter in the critical state of Ohio, “The people of America are far
more biblically centred than is generally realised.”

We also witnessed the last minute TV intervention of Osama bin Laden,
doubtless designed to influence the election in Kerry’s favour, though
it turned out to have the opposite effect, making many Americans
vote for Bush to show that they would not be intimidated. It is an
irony of history that President Bush should have Osama bin Laden to
thank for his unintended support and for four further years to spend
searching for him.

With up to 16 million new and young voters, these first timers
were expected to tip the gold scale balance in favour of Kerry,
but the results show young voters to have been the same percentage
in this frantic race as in that of 2000, and no more. Al Gore had
won 90 percent of the black vote in 2000 and in this election 18 to
24-year-olds, Catholics, singles and Hispanics were expected to vote
for Kerry, with two to three percent of voters undecided on the eve
of the election.

>>From an international perspective, when all is said and done,
we, the silent majority outside the United States, ordinary America
watchers, friends, allies and partners can only stand on the sidelines
as well-wishers, though our common future is closely bound and at
stake, as was the case in the Afghanistan war after Sept. 11, and as
it is now in the chaotic Iraq war. The first priority of President
Bush in his second term should be to solve the Iraq debacle, which
he owes to the Iraqi people, and perhaps it is not a vain hope that
he will heed the advice and warning of his friend Tony Blair to seek
“reconciliation in a fractured world,” to “recognise that this will
not be achieved by military might alone”, and to “find a just solution
to the Palestinian question, the source of so much resentment in the
wider Middle East and the reason for the roots of so much terrorism.”

But have we seen any multilateral, rather than unilateral, leanings in
this president so far? Did President Bush care to ask his NATO allies
for their opinion before his “pre-emptive strike” against Saddam? No,
he did not bother, as he already knew the answer. Did he care about the
advice of the United Arms Inspectors when they asked for more time to
search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD)? No, he did not. So Bush
in his first term as president acted alone for the United States most
of the time as a Texas lone ranger, despite the hotch-potch “Coalition
of the Willing” that he founded, minus Turkey, as makeshift partners
in the war against Saddam. In his new term in the Oval Office, his
friends and allies will require from President Bush more understanding
than imposition, more co-operation than independent action.

As regards Turkey, the Turkish Parliament’s decision in March 2003
to opt out of the Pentagon’s military plans to invade Iraq from the
north was a political shock for the United States, coming just three
short months after Bush and Erdogan showed themselves in the White
House photo sessions as “arm to arm, shoulder to shoulder” friends
and strategic partners in peace and war, with Bush patting Erdogan
on the back as “an honest man who can be trusted.”

After the March parliamentary rejection, in the eyes of the U.S.
public, Turkey was branded as a traitor, although conversely in Europe
it was praised for its “democratic decision.” President Bush was
reportedly so angry that he did not want to hear mention of Erdogan or
Turkey again. He and his administration seemed unaware that even if the
parliamentary motion had been passed, neither Turkish public opinion,
nor the leaders and people of Iraq, approved a Turkish presence or
intervention there, and that refusal of the motion caused considerable
popular relief in both countries.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was not welcome in Washington DC for many
months, with the official line being that, “Turkey had disappointed
and let down the United States in Iraq.” The Kurdish-U.S. strategic
partnership replaced the Turkish-American alliance and partnership
of half a century’s standing, and it took nearly a year to put
Turkey-U.S. relations back on track and convince President Bush that
Turks were not renegade friends or traitors to the U.S. alliance and
interests because of their (mistaken) democratic vote against a joint
Turkish-U.S. intervention in Iraq. But this is all history now.

While the Bush period of 2000 to 2004 saw a marked improvement in
Turkish-U.S. Trade, now balanced at around $ 7 billion, the Bush push
into Iraq has cost Turkey a loss of trade and investment in that
country. It has also endangered regional stability, with increased
Kurdish influence and power over U.S. policies bringing the threat
of civil war to northern Iraq. This is a matter for great concern
to immediate neighbour Turkey and other countries in the area with
Bush’s threat of Iran and Syria as an “axis of evil,” or rogue states,
creating shock waves in the region.

The abiding heritage of the Bush first-term administration, with
the help of crusader and freudian slips, was to revive the “those
who are not with us are against us” dictum, and especially with the
“axis of evil” doctrine to encourage anti-Islam attitudes in the
wake of Sept 11, while in turn provoking a surge in anti-American
attitudes throughout the world. His next target must be to correct,
ameliorate and change this perception. As Christiane Ammanpour put
it, “President Bush is spectacularly unpopular outside of the United
States.” The continental rift between the United States and Europe was
blamed on President Bush and his policies, with continental Europe
generally preferring Catholic French-speaking Kerry. Among the many
bridges that need to be built, President Bush needs to build them
with the European Union.

Where Turkey is concerned, it must be granted that President Bush
genuinely and vocally supported Turkey’s candidature to the EU,
though his active help proved somewhat counterproductive by hurting EU
leaders’ pride and sensitivities as they considered he was interfering
in their business. But it must have been Bush’s definite push for
Turkey in Helsinki which helped to guarantee its candidacy. It should
be mentioned, however, that Turkey’s getting closer to the EU does not
necessarily mean that she is moving away from the United States. On
the U.S. Armenian lobby’s continuing claims of “genocide,” President
Bush did not appease them but stopped at the “tragic events of 1915”
so as not to hurt Turkey’s deep sensitivities, while candidate Kerry
was on record for his pro-Armenian sympathies, and reportedly had
to be educated as to where Turkey was, what Turkey is good for, and
why it is detrimental to Turkish-American relations to recognise the
“crime of genocide” as claimed by some Americans of Armenian origin.

Bush, on the other hand, showed that he was educated and informed
on Turkey. While friendships are basically between countries, not
incumbent party leaders, it is a big plus that he and Erdogan have
such good chemistry. Even if it was only skin-deep, he and his wife
charmed Istanbul and Ankara on their visit to the NATO Summit in June
2004, praising Turkish food, especially the pear dessert, and the
“beautiful country,” though security considerations did not allow his
public relations efforts to go as far as that of President Clinton and
the famous picture of the baby clutching his nose. While in Turkey he
also took the opportunity to market his greater Middle East Project by
giving prominence to Turkey as a model for a democratic and Islamic
country which, while doubtless well-meant, created many ifs and buts
in Turkish minds as well as in Arab and Islamic countries.

Israel and Russia preferred Bush to Kerry for the reason that they
see him as a leader in the war against terrorism. The Arab world and
China, on the other hand, blamed George W. Bush for being pro-Israel
and responsible for the Iraq war and showed preference for Kerry.
Turkish leaders were careful not to make their secret choice public,
though it was implied that they preferred to see the man they knew
in the White House, rather than have to start all over again.

President Bush was returned to power in an election to a great extent
dominated by the three “Gs” — God, Guns and Gays, but most likely
the deciding element was simply that “he is a likeable guy” and
“one of us,” the preferred image of the ordinary American.

So welcome back, George W. Bush, as president-elect, in the hope of
a safer and more peaceful world where the United States takes more
trouble to integrate and co-operate and win the hearts and minds
of all the citizens everywhere, including that half of your country
which voted against you and your policies.

Yuksel Soylemez

ANKARA: Former diplomat and CHP deputy Sukru Elekdag


Turkish Probe
November 7, 2004

ANKARA – Former diplomat, Parliamentary Foreign Commission member
and opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Sukru Elekdag, when
asked about the debate on whether Kurds and Alewis should be considered
minorities, said the example of France should be followed. Elekdag said
the attitude towards ethnic groups was the same in Turkey and France.

Speaking to TDN, Elekdag said: “In France, just like the Republic of
Turkey, a unitary nation-state exists. In such a state, the guiding
principle of the system is the the unity and indivisibility of the
state, nation and the country. Turkey, by adhering to the guidelines
provided by the Lausanne Treaty, does not accept a concept of minority
based on ethnicity or religion, just like France.”

France, which was one of the founders of the European Union,
had established a unitary state and had implemented a concept of
citizenship not based on ethnic identity, he said. Elekdag noted:
“France, in addition to having various religious groups, also has
local ethnic groups in Brittany, Bask, Catalan, Oksitan, Savuaca,
Flemish, German and Italian communities. However, France refuses
to say it has minorities and believes ethnic characteristics are
something that can be practiced in private.”

Elekdag said every citizen in France had the right to respect, protect
and develop his or her cultural values. However, it did not mean this
right was a collective one of an ethnic group, he said, noting that
this was a right of an individual. He said, “No one in the EU objects
to the French system or accuses them of medieval mentality.”

Armenian, Greek or Jewish

Elekdag said the founder of the Republic of Turkey was the Turkish
nation, which as a supra-national identity, covered all groups such
as Turks, Kurds, Bosnians, Laz, Sunnis and Alewis.

Elekdag said that a homogeneous nation was an exception, rather than
the rule. In a unitary state, citizens could not be granted special
rights just because they were different, said Elekdag, adding that
certain groups could not be given the right to utilize special
privileges or the right to establish political movements.

He said attempts to create new minorities in addition to those listed
in the Lausanne Treaty aimed to divide the country, noting that
the rights granted to Armenians, Greeks and Jews in the treaty were
collective ones. Elekdag said: “Turkey has no obligation, politically
or legally, to grant such rights to any group apart from non-Muslims.”

Turkey’s obligation to the EU was to make sure all its citizens equally
enjoyed the benefits of democracy and the rule of law, said Elekdag,
adding each individual should enshrine, protect and develop his or
her own cultural values. This was not a collective right, but was
the right of an individual as a citizen, said Elekdag.

EU’s minorities

CHP deputy Elekdag said that by mentioning Kurds and Alewis in Turkey
as minorities in its progress report, the European Commission was
recommending the broadening of the concept of minority, as defined in
the Lausanne Treaty. Elekdag said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul had succeeded in removing the part
of the report that mentioned Kurds and Alewis as minorities, adding
that despite their efforts, the matter was far from resolved. He said
the other assessments in the report showed that the commission still
considered Kurds as a minority.

He said the Kurdish issue was included in the “Minority Rights,
Cultural Rights and the Protection of Minorities” section in the
report, and added that one passage said: “According to Turkey, the
minorities in Turkey are only the nun-Muslim communities listed in
the Lausanne treaty. The only communities defined as minorities are
Greeks, Armenians and Jews. In addition to these groups, there are
other communities in Turkey, including the Kurds. In this context,
the reservations put by Turkey on certain sections of the United
Nations Charters on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights is a source of concern. These reservations
may be used to prevent the future development of the protection of
minority rights.”

Elekdag also added that statements concerning the Alewis aimed to
create a new minority. He said the report noted the fact that no
change in the status of Muslim minorities had taken place, and that
Alewis were not recognized as a separate religious community.

In the last few European Commission progress reports, Kurds were
repeatedly seen as a minority and that Turkey was being forced to
accept this as a fact, he said, adding that now new attempts at
doing the same for Alewis was taking place. He said: “According
to international principles that guide the minority issue, being a
member of a minority is a personal choice. Even if individuals are
members of different ethnic groups or religions, they can’t be forced
to accept themselves as a minority. The guiding principle is for a
person to make his or her own choice. The European Commission to try
to question the identity of a few select groups and its attempts to
create new minorities in Turkey is both illegal and ugly.”

Government and the federative structure

Elekdag said that the minority report prepared by the Prime
Ministry Human Rights Advisory Board was significantly influenced
by the European Commission progress report. He said that the
report in question recommended the annulment of the concept of
the “indivisibility of the Turkish nation” from Article 3 of the
Constitution. He said the board’s reason for this recommendation was,
“the use of this term insinuates that the nation is a monolithic
structure, which means the disregarding of the sub-national identities
that form the nation and consequently is undemocratic.”

Elekdag said that the board also wanted to replace the system of
nation-state with its Turkish identity with a multicultural model with
a supra-national identity called “the citizen of Turkey. He said: “The
report, by suggesting the concept of “citizen of Turkey,” dismissing
the supra-national identity of Turkishness of the Turkish nation,
is trying to change the unitary state into a federal structure. This
recommendation boosts the efforts of domestic groups that call for
a bi-national state and their supporters overseas.”

The government needs to make its opinion on the report public, he
said, asking Prime Minister Erdogan to say if he is still behind his
suggestion to replace “Turkishness” with the concept of the “citizen
of Turkey.”

“The government’s statement on this issue is especially important in
terms of membership negotiations with the EU. If not, the EU will try
to force Turkey to accept a federative structure. The recommendations
made in the report, if implemented, would result in the collapse
of the nation-state system in Turkey and would begin the process of
transformation from a unitary state to a federative one.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Russia’s mixed blessing

by Vladimir Radyuhin

The Hindu, India
November 8, 2004

THE SOVIET Union may have been dead for 13 years but as far as
Russians are concerned it has never been more alive. They have never
seen so many Tajiks, Azeris, Moldovans and Ukrainians walk the
streets of big cities and small townships across Russia from the
Baltic Sea in the West to the Pacific coast in the Far East. The
former compatriots build houses, sell fruit, drive public transport
buses, and do a myriad other jobs for which Russians have no taste or
ask a higher pay.

With the Russian economy growing at a healthy seven per cent a year,
it is an attractive destination for millions of workers from many
post-Soviet states where economic growth is not so vibrant. Officials
put the number of migrant labour in Russia at four million to five
million, a majority of them from the former Soviet Union. Unofficial
estimates are at least twice as high. Russia offers a source of
livelihood to three million to four million Ukrainians, two million
to three million of Azerbaijan’s eight million population, one in
three working-age Georgians and Armenians, and hundreds of thousands
of workers from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Belarus.

The “fraternal family of nations,” as Communist ideologues used to
describe the Soviet Union, has re-assembled itself on Russian soil,
even though it is no longer so fraternal. Migrant labour has proved a
mixed blessing for Russia. It helps alleviate an acute demographic
crisis and sustain economic growth, but also creates dangerous ethnic
and social tensions.

Russia’s population has declined by more than five million over the
past 12 years and keeps falling at a rate of about 700,000 a year,
according to the State Statistical Committee. The Ministry of
Economic Development estimates that Russia may lose half of its 144
million people within the next 60 to 100 years if no radical measures
are taken to reverse the trend.

The demographic situation has been aggravated by large-scale
emigration from Russia during the years of rocky economic reforms,
with an estimated seven million leaving the country between 1991 and
2002. The outflow was initially balanced by the influx of millions of
ethnic Russians who fled instability and economic ruin in former
Soviet republics. But their migration to Russia has dwindled to a
trickle recently, partly because many have adjusted to life in the
newly independent states and partly because the Russian Government
has failed to provide any attractive resettlement programmes.

The Government has also been slow to react to the growing tide of
migrant labour. In the absence of effective government regulation,
immigration has been chaotic, flooding Moscow and the European part
of Russia, but leaving vast areas of Siberia short of labour.
Monolithic migrant communities, often cemented by a strong criminal
component, have virtually ousted Russians from some sectors of the
economy. Azeris and Armenians, for example, have taken over wholesale
and retail trade in Russia in fruit and vegetables, construction
materials, and many other commodities, setting monopoly prices and
provoking deep resentment among local population. Authorities, who
often have a cut in the business, just look the other way.

“If the Government continues to turn a blind eye to this process of
uncontrolled immigration, Russians will eventually be ousted from
trade, banking, hotel and other profitable businesses, and will be
left to do low-paid or hard manual work,” says Yuri Godin of the
Foreign Economy Studies Centre. In a poll conducted earlier this year
in Moscow, this problem topped the list of grievances.

Migrants have contributed to high crime rates in Russia. Tajiks, for
example, have become major drug haulers from Afghanistan to Russia.
Residents of Yekaterenburg, a regional capital in Siberia, which lies
on the trunk route of drug traffickers, held an anti-narcotics rally
in May to demand a visa regime for Tajikistan. Last year Tajiks
accounted for over 90 per cent of all drug couriers intercepted at
the Koltsovo international airport in Yekaterenburg.

The influx of millions of non-Russians has also led to the rise of
violent racist movements in Russia, with many people blaming their
poverty and unemployment on immigrants. Neo-Nazi skinhead gangs are
mushrooming all over Russia, terrorising non-Russians from the former
Soviet Union, as well as nationals from India and other Asian and
African countries. Racist attacks under the slogan “Russia for
Russians” are getting increasingly brazen and violent.

A nine-year-old girl from Tajikistan was knifed to death in St.
Petersburg in February; an African student was murdered in Voronezh
the same month; a 50-year-old Azerbaijani was beaten up in Nizhnii
Novgorod in May and died later in hospital; a 19-year-old student
from Vietnam was killed in St. Petersburg in October; an Uzbek was
beaten to death in a Moscow suburb in October. About 20 murders
fuelled by ethnic hatred were reported across Russia in the first six
months of this year. The skinheads’ most outrageous crime this year
was to shoot and kill Nikolai Girenko, a 64-year-old Russian
ethnographer and anthropologist who dedicated himself to fighting
neo-Nazis in court.

Human rights organisations estimate the number of skinheads in Russia
at between 35,000 and 55,000 and rapidly rising. Russian police have
all too often dismissed racist attacks as hooliganism. It was not
until the President, Vladimir Putin, earlier this year called the
attention of the Interior Minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev, to racially
motivated crimes, that the latter admitted that ultranationalist
groups were a real problem.

However, the Kremlin still refuses to acknowledge a link between
growing racist extremism and the lack of a coherent immigration
policy. Job quotas for migrant labour introduced last year have
failed to regulate migration processes and protect local jobs. The
ridiculously low quota of about 600,000 for this year has fallen far
below the demand. There are also many vested interests in Russia who
have a stake in keeping labour migration illegal. Employers prefer
hiring illegal migrants because they are willing to work for much
lower pay than local labour and do not ask for a social security net.
In the construction business, for example, illegal workers help cut
project costs by two-thirds. Even Kremlin contractors are known to
use illegal workers.

Illegal migration has grown into a multi-million criminal business.
Last year authorities in the Volgograd region in central Russia
busted a labour traffic racket from Tajikistan. Trainloads of Tajiks
were brought to work like slaves on local farms. At one point
investigators stumbled on a farm where over a hundred Tajik children
worked from dawn to dusk practically for free. Illegal labour
migrants are also the target of constant harassing and fleecing by
police who regularly raid construction sites and hostels to check
registration and work-permit papers.

Yet, for all its negative aspects, labour migration from the former
Soviet states is a big boon for Russia. Apart from filling a shortage
of workforce, it gives Moscow a powerful policy lever in dealing with
its ex-Soviet neighbours and pushing a re-integration agenda. Many
newly independent states critically depend on the money their
nationals working in Russia send back to their families. According to
government estimates, in 2002 migrant workers from Azerbaijan,
Georgia and Armenia employed in the Moscow region alone took back
home about $ 10 billion, more than their annual budgets.

When its President, Imomali Rakhmonov, baulked at approving the
establishment of a Russian military base in Tajikistan earlier this
year, Moscow threatened to deport illegal Tajik workers from Russia.
This would spell a catastrophe for Tajikistan and the base agreement
was promptly signed. An easing of travel rules for millions of
Ukrainian workers in Russia sanctioned by Mr. Putin on the eve of
Ukraine’s presidential election last week helped shore up the
faltering campaign by the pro-Russian candidate, Prime Minister
Viktor Yanukovich.

Immigration also has a strategic dimension for Russia. Average
population density in Russia is 8.5 persons per square km, and in the
Far East it is just over 1 person per square km, hundreds of times
less than in China across the border. Further depopulation poses a
threat to Russia’s territorial integrity.

“From economic and geopolitical point of view it is a catastrophe to
have so sparse a population on such a vast territory,” says
academician Anatoly Vishnevsky of the Centre for Demography and Human
Ecology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Russia must accommodate
700,000 to 1,000,000 migrants a year, primarily from former Soviet
republics, just to maintain its population at present level. Such a
massive injection of immigrants is fraught with great risks.

“To avoid the dangers we need a system of measures for adapting and
integrating migrants, and it yet to be developed,” the scholar says.

Danish government, far-right reach deal on refugees

Danish government, far-right reach deal on refugees

Agence France Presse — English
November 8, 2004 Monday 5:42 PM GMT

COPENHAGEN Nov 8 — The Danish government reached a deal Monday on
the repatriation of refugees with a far-right party whose support it
needs to get its budget through the national parliament.

The far-right Danish Peoples Party (PPD) had made a hard line on
refugees who been denied asylum the minimum price for its support for
the minority centre right government, which has no other political

Under the agreement refugees will be encouraged to go back to their
countries of origin and states that refuse to accept their nationals
who have been refused asylum will see their aid suspended or reduced.

The measures concern about 2,200 unsuccessful asylum-seekers, of whom
between 500 and 600 are Iraqis.

“What we wanted was to withdraw economic aid to states which do not
want to agree to take back their own nationals whose asylum requests
have been rejected,” PPD leader Pia Kjaersgaard told reporters.

“And we have obtained the assurance of the government in this

The PPD is the third biggest group in the Danish parliament and was
instrumental in the coming to power of the ruling coalition in November
2001. It has chosen to make the return of refugees its flagship issue.

It wants refugees from Afghanistan, Armenia, Bosnia, Ethiopia, Iraq,
Kosovo and Somalia sent home, as well as stateless Palestinians from
Lebanon and the West Bank.

But Bertel Haarder, the minister with responsbility for refugees,
immigration and integration, declined to set a time limit on the
repatriation process.

“I cannot fix a number or deadlines or criteria for the success of
this operation since this will depend on war and peace in the world,”
he told Danish television.

On Monday he offered a bonus of 17,000 Danish kronor (2,963 dollars,
2,287 euros) per adult and 6,000 kronor (1,046 dollars, 807 euros)
per child to Iraqis who volunteered before February 1 next year to
go back home..

Last month the United Nations High Commission for Refugees called on
countries that had taken in Iraqi refugees not pressure them to go
home because it was not safe to do so.

“There are considerable pressures on Iraqi refugees in a number of
European countries for them to return,” a spokesman said.

“There are financial incitments to go back and penalties if they are
not taken up, he added.

“The situation in Iraq is still extremely unstable and dangerous. No
parts of Iraq can be considered definitely safe for return.”

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress