Armenian bank replaces banknotes with coins

Mediamax news agency, Yerevan, in Russian
9 Mar 04

Armenian bank replaces banknotes with coins

YEREVAN

The Central Bank of Armenia will withdraw 10, 25, 50, 100 and 200-dram
banknotes from circulation from 1 April, the chief of the Central
Bank’s department for emission operations and money reserves, Gevorg
Tumanyan, told a briefing in Yerevan today, according to Mediamax.

Those banknotes can be exchanged for coins at any commercial bank or
at the Central Bank, he said.

New 50, 100, 200 and 500 drams coins have been in circulation since
31 March 2003. There were no cases of forging coins in 2003, Gevorg
Tumanyan said today.

New book on terror

National Post (Canada)
March 8, 2004 Monday National Edition

Canada makes terrorists feel at home, book says: Cold Terror shows
how we became a haven before 9/11

by Mary Vallis

An Armenian immigrant who participated in Canada’s first major
terrorist incident 22 years ago lives in Toronto and plays guitar in
a band, according to a new book probing the country’s terrorist ties.

Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the
World explores how Canada has evolved into an internationally
renowned hub of global terrorism. Written by National Post reporter
Stewart Bell, the book contains exclusive interviews with victims of
terrorist attacks, senior intelligence officials and terrorists
themselves.

In September, 2003, at a nondescript coffee shop in Toronto’s Little
Italy, Mr. Bell met with Haig Gharakhanian, one of three Armenians
convicted of plotting to kill a Turkish diplomat in Ottawa. The man
was nervous because his band’s CD was about to be released, and he
had just met with CSIS to get clearance for his Canadian citizenship,
but spoke with Mr. Bell anyway.

“As we were speaking, the lead singer of his band comes in and sits
down,” Mr. Bell recalled. “You could just see this guy’s eyes
widening as he listens to the guy who’s been his guitar player and
roommate for years explaining his involvement in terrorism.”

Mr. Gharakhanian, who was just 17 years old when he participated in
the attack, spent nine months in prison for his role in the 1982
shooting of Kani Gungor. The diplomat was left paralyzed. Mr.
Gharakhanian, who had Iranian citizenship, helped scout out the
target and delivered a letter to the United Press International’s Los
Angeles office in which the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation
of Armenia (ASALA) claimed responsibility for the attack.

After he was released on parole, Mr. Gharakhanian applied for refugee
status and successfully fought a deportation order. Mr. Bell uses his
case as one example that illustrates how Canada’s generous
immigration policy has fuelled the country’s links to terrorism.

“He got a very light sentence. He was not deported because the
immigration judges felt sorry for him, and now he’s about to become a
citizen,” Mr. Bell said of Mr. Gharakhanian. “That was our beginning.
We treated a guy who was basically a terrorist sympathetically, and
that set the stage for everything that’s followed… We still see
examples of that every day.”

Mr. Bell’s book, released today, chronicles how Canada became a haven
for some of the world’s most powerful terrorist organizations. It
also features newly uncovered pieces of an internal CSIS report
written in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The report shows that as Jean Chretien stood up in the House of
Commons and proclaimed Canada free of terrorists planning attacks,
CSIS had concluded al-Qaeda had operatives in Canada and could list
them by name.

Mr. Bell argues Canadian politicians do not pay enough attention to
warnings from security and intelligence officials. Politicians have
not taken a strong stand against terrorism in part because they fear
they will alienate some of their core voter support — namely
interest groups who promise to deliver ethnic voting blocks.

Illustrating his point, Mr. Bell refers to an interview he conducted
with the president of the Montreal chapter of the World Tamil
Movement, which has been identified as a front for the Tamil Tigers.
The man explained how a Liberal party candidate attended one of the
group’s events, and how he directed “all of the Sri Lankan votes” in
Montreal to the Liberals during the last federal election.

Mr. Bell explains how acknowledging this country’s ties to terrorism
defies the image many Canadians have of their homeland.

“Canadians like to think of themselves as benevolent world citizens,
peacekeepers in blue berets who bring kindness and calm to troubled
lands,” he writes.

“The cold truth is that, since the early 1980s, Canada has become a
source country of international terrorism. Former prime minister Jean
Chretien used to boast that the United Nations Human Development
Index showed Canada was the best country in the world in which to
live. In the past two decades, it also became the best country in the
world for terrorists to make their home.

“Canada has provided a haven, money, propaganda, weapons and foot
soldiers to the globe’s deadliest religious, ethnic and political
extremist movements, murderous organizations that have brought their
wars with them, turning this country into a base for international
terror.”

Mr. Bell warns Canada is vulnerable to another major attack on its
own soil. “Canada is itself a terror target and has put itself at
greater risk by being nice to terrorists,” he writes. “Terrorists who
feel comfortable enough to raise money and forge passports will not
hesitate to stage attacks here as well.”

GRAPHIC: Black & White Photo: Bruno Sclumberger, Ottawa Citizen; In
Ottawa in 1982, Turkish diplomat Kani Gungor was shot and left
paralyzed in Canada’s first major international terrorist attack. An
Armenian convicted in the ambush has won Canadian citizenship.

Canada a haven for terrorists, new book claims

The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)
March 8, 2004 Monday Final Edition

Canada a haven for terrorists, new book claims: National Post
reporter says the country is a renowned hub of global terrorism

by Mary Vallis

TORONTO — An Armenian immigrant who participated in Canada’s first
major terrorist incident 22 years ago still lives in Toronto and
plays guitar in a band, according to a new book probing the country’s
terrorist ties.

Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the
World explores how Canada has evolved into an internationally
renowned hub of global terrorism. Written by National Post reporter
Stewart Bell, the book contains exclusive interviews with victims of
terrorist attacks, senior intelligence officials and terrorists
themselves.

In September 2003, at a nondescript coffee shop in Little Italy, Bell
met with Haig Gharakhanian, one of three Armenians convicted of
plotting to kill a Turkish diplomat in Ottawa. The man was nervous
because his band’s CD was about to be released and he had just met
with CSIS to get clearance for his Canadian citizenship, but spoke
with Bell anyway.

“As we were speaking, the lead singer of his band comes in and sits
down,” Bell recalled. “You could just see this guy’s eyes widening as
he listens to the guy who’s been his guitar player and roommate for
years explaining his involvement in terrorism.”

Gharakhanian, who was just 17 years old when he participated in the
attack, spent nine months in prison for his role in the 1982 shooting
of Kani Gungor. The diplomat was left paralyzed. Gharakhanian, who
had Iranian citizenship, helped scout out the target and delivered a
letter to the United Press International’s Los Angeles office, in
which the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA)
claimed responsibility for the attack.

After he was released on parole, Gharakhanian applied for refugee
status and successfully fought a deportation order. Bell uses his
case as one example that illustrates how Canada’s immigration policy
has fuelled the country’s links to terrorism.

“He got a very light sentence. He was not deported because the
immigration judges felt sorry for him, and now he’s about to become a
citizen,” Bell said of Gharakhanian. “That was our beginning. We
treated a guy who was basically a terrorist sympathetically, and that
set the stage for everything that’s followed ….”

Bell’s book, released today, chronicles how Canada became a haven for
some of the world’s most powerful terrorist organizations. It also
features newly uncovered pieces of an internal CSIS report written in
the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The report shows that as Jean Chretien stood up in the House of
Commons and proclaimed Canada free of terrorists planning attacks,
CSIS had concluded al-Qaida had operatives in Canada and could list
them by name.

Bell argues Canadian politicians do not pay enough attention to
warnings from security intelligence officials. Politicians have not
taken a strong stand against terrorism in part because they fear they
will alienate some of their core voter support — namely interest
groups who promise to deliver ethnic voting blocks.

“Canadians like to think of themselves as benevolent world citizens,
peacekeepers in blue berets who bring kindness and calm to troubled
lands,” Bell writes.

“The cold truth is that, since the early 1980s, Canada has become a
source country of international terrorism. Former prime minister Jean
Chretien used to boast that the United Nations Human Development
Index showed Canada was the best country in the world in which to
live. In the past two decades, it also became the best country in the
world for terrorists to make their home.”

Russia, Armenia extend agreement on regulating voluntary migration

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 9, 2004 Tuesday

Russia, Armenia extend agreement on regulating voluntary migration

By Tigran Liloyan
YEREVAN, March 9

Russia and Armenia have extended an inter-governmental agreement on
regulating the process of voluntary resettlement by another five
years.

The relevant protocol was signed by Coordinator Minister Ovik
Abramyan and Russia’s Ambassador to Armenia Anatoly Drykov, in the
Armenian capital on Tuesday.

According to Dryukov, the agreement has proved its viability and
importance over the past few years. For his part, head of Armenia’s
Migration Department Gagik Yeganyan recalled that both states had
agreed to create favorable conditions for voluntary resettlement of
their citizens. It is particularly important at present, as Armenians
begin to return to their Motherland, Yeganyan emphasized.

The extension of such an agreement will encourage this process, he
added.

The Russian-Armenian voluntary migration agreement was signed on
August 29, 1997.

Yeganyan said an Armenian delegation would leave for Russia next
week. It will meet with ethnic Armenians in order to explain to them
terms of resettlement.

According to imprecise data, some 800,000 Armenians left the republic
after it proclaimed independence. They mostly settled in Russia.

Georgia calls for joint border patrolling with Russia

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 9, 2004 Tuesday

Georgia calls for joint border patrolling with Russia

Visiting Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Tbilisi
continued to call for joint patrolling, with Russian border guards,
of the Russian-Georgian border, in order to prevent its crossing by
Chechen militants.

“My proposal received support in Moscow,” Saakashvili told a news
conference here on Tuesday, adding that Chechen militants pose a
danger to Georgia’s security.

Saakashvili affirmed that Georgia had put an end to the “policy of
animosity” towards Russia, pursued by the former leadership of the
country.

“It’s extremely important for us to establish good relations with
Russia,” he said.

“I invite to Georgia Russian businesspeople and Russian tourists,”
the president stressed. He stated the issue of the Russian military
bases on the Georgian territory “has been already settled” and “they
will be withdrawn.”

Saakashvili urged to take a broader view of Georgia’ relations with
Russia and not to focus exclusively on military facilities.

The president also said neither Tbilisi nor Washington had plans to
set up U.S. military bases in Georgia. Tbilisi gives priority to “the
European direction,” and integration in the European Union, he
emphasized.

The United States has its own interests in the Caucasus, foremost in
the energy sphere, as well as in strengthening democracy and stable
government structures there. “It coincides with our general course
toward economic and democratic development of Georgia,” Saakashvili
said.

The establishment in the Caucasus of a zone of democracy, stability
and fast economic growth, on the basis of rapprochement between
Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, is one of the main geopolitical
tasks of the incumbent Georgian leadership. Saakashvili said he had
had a meeting with Azerbaijan President Ilkham Aliyev, at which they
discussed this ambitious project. “I saw Ilkham Aliyev as a brilliant
and profound politician,” the Georgian leader stressed.

He explained that Georgia and Azerbaijan would step up their
integration processes in the nearest future. “We are expecting
Armenia to join at some stage,” he noted.

One of the prime objectives of this rapprochement is the
strengthening of democratic institutions in the Caucasus, which would
have a positive influence on the Middle East, the Georgian president
said.

Tbilisi is conducting a dialogue and consultations with all its
regions except Abkhazia. Saakashvili said he called for a peaceful
settlement of the Abkhazian conflict, but “much depends on Abkhazia
itself and on results of the forthcoming elections there.”

As for Georgia’s autonomous region of Abkhazia, Saakashvili said
relations with its leader Aslan Abashidze “have become softer”.

He made it clear, however, that he did not rule out changes in
Adzharia’s leadership after the upcoming elections.

Georgia seeks rapprochement with Azerbaijan, Armenia – Saakashvili

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 9, 2004 Tuesday

Georgia seeks rapprochement with Azerbaijan, Armenia – Saakashvili

by Vitali Makarchev

PARIS, March 9 – One of the most important geo-political tasks of the
Georgian leadership at present is to create a zone of democracy,
stability and advanced development in the Caucasus region on the
basis of rapprochement of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, President
Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia told a news conference here on
Tuesday.

He said he had held a meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilkham
Aliyev to discuss this ambitious project. “In Ilkham Aliyev, I see a
bright and deep politician,” Saakashvili said.

He indicated that the integration process between Georgia and
Azerbaijan would be intensified. He said, “We believe that Armenia
will join us at a certain phase.”

Along with economic rebirth, Saakashvili sees consolidation of
democracy in the Caucasus as one of the chief aims of rapprochement,
which, in turn, will tell positively on the on the Middle and Near
East.

Yerevan, Tbilisi to discuss cargo transit through Georgia

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
March 9, 2004 Tuesday

Yerevan, Tbilisi to discuss cargo transit through Georgia

By Tigran Liloyan

YEREVAN

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will visit Armenia, to discuss
with its leadership arrangements for cargo transportation through
Georgia and terms of payment for it. Saakashvili will make a two-day
visit to Armenia on Friday, the press service of the Armenian
president told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

Under conditions of the transport blockade of Armenia, Georgia is the
only state through which cargoes are delivered to Armenian towns,
including fuel and food from Russia.

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan praised the level of relations
with Georgia. “Good personal ties between the heads of state give
impulses for a better development of good neighborly relations,”
Kocharyan said.

The program of the visit envisions a one-on-one meeting between the
two presidents, Saakashvili’s talks with the parliament speaker and
Armenia’s prime minister, and his meeting with representatives of the
Georgian community in the republic.

The Georgian president will visit Echmiadzin, where he will be
received by Catholicos of all the Armenians Garegin II.

Armenian leader hopes Hungary to punish officer’s murderer

A1+ web site in Russian
9 Mar 04

Armenian leader hopes Hungary to punish officer’s murderer

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan today received the new Hungarian
ambassador to Armenia, Ferenc Kontra (residency in Moscow).

On behalf of the Hungarian government, the ambassador expressed his
deep condolences on the killing of Armenian officer Gurgen Markaryan
in Hungary.

In turn, Robert Kocharyan expressed his confidence that the Hungarian
law-enforcement agencies would be consistent and the murderer would
be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Hungary will become a member of the European Union next month.
Ambassador Kontra said that his country was ready to do everything
possible to facilitate the strengthening of ties between Armenia and
the European Union.

Ethnic Armenians in Georgia against Azeri oil pipeline

Yerkir web site, Yerevan, in English
9 Mar 04

Ethnic Armenians in Georgia against Azeri oil pipeline

AKHALKALAKI

During his recent visit to Baku, Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili, speaking about the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil pipeline, said that the Armenians living in the regions that will
be bisected by the pipeline have no problems with the construction of
the pipeline.

The Armenian population of Tsalka, Borjomi and Akhaltsikha, however,
have been continuously voicing their complaints about it.

The residents of the Armenian-populated village of Tapatskur in the
Borjomi region have not yet received compensation for the property
taken from them for the pipeline.

“Lost territories of the winner country”

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004

“LOST TERRITORIES OF THE WINNER COUNTRY”

One who is unaware of their losses is on the verge of new losses.
This was the concern of the exhibition opened on February 25 at the
museum-institute of Alexander Tamanian devoted to North Artsakh, part
of our historical territory cleansed of Armenians by our enemy of
centuries in 1988-1992. Through about 100 colored large-format
photographs and a number of maps (demographic, historical monuments,
names of places) the small and large settlements, various historical
and cultural monuments of the region estranged from us not because of
the power of the enemy but our indifference and drowsiness was
presented to public. The aim of the exhibition is to increase the
knowledge of our country, the lack of which was felt as in the Soviet
times so as at present, however strange and inadmissible it may seem.
The exhibition will last till March 18 and on March 10-12 it will be
exposed at the Ministry of Defence.

RAA.