US envoy tries to be impartial in assessment of situation in Armenia

US envoy tries to be impartial in assessment of situation in Armenia – paper

Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan
23 Apr 04

Text of Hayk Gevorkyan report by Armenian newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak
on 23 April headlined “The ambassador tried to seem neutral”

US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway held a regular news conference
yesterday. Naturally, its main theme was the domestic political
situation in Armenia after the 13 April events [opposition rally].

The keynote of the ambassador’s answers was that the events should
develop in a way that would rule out violence and ensure a
constructive dialogue between the authorities and the opposition.

“It is obvious that there are many different views regarding Armenia’s
future and those differences should be resolved only in a democratic
and civilized way, exclusively by means of political dialogue,” the
ambassador said.

However, his words concerning the dialogue were more directed to the
authorities: “It is very important that the authorities create a basis
for political discussions and the opposition takes part in these
discussions.” It was evident that it was a principled task for US
Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway not to make any statements
expressing a preference for either party. So, he noted several times
that actions of the authorities did not promote dialogue. The
ambassador asked a rhetorical question: is it realistic to wait for
the opposition to enter the dialogue when, for example, police starts
acting in front of their parties’ offices?

According to Ordway, it is no good if the parties think that they are
in a deadlock. He especially stressed that all the actions aimed at
coming out of the current situation should be decided “in Armenia and
by Armenians”.

He said that in the last 10 days he had had numerous meetings and
telephone talks with party leaders, including [Armenian President
Robert] Kocharyan. But he declined to specify the details of the
meeting with Kocharyan.

As for the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the USA, the
ambassador believes that the USA has not changed its position
regarding this issue. “But I am expecting that in two days we shall
have the US president’s statement dedicated to 24 April [marked in
Armenia as “genocide day”] and it will then be clear how he decides to
form our policy,” John Ordway said.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Duma not to push Interior Ministry for probe into racial assault

Russian parliament not to push Interior Ministry for probe into racial

Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow
23 Apr 04

The State Duma has declined to forward to the Russian Interior
Ministry a request for an inquiry into skinheads’ assault against an
Armenian boy in Kostroma, [independent] Duma MP Vladimir Ryzhkov has

The skinheads splashed petrol over the 11-year-old boy and set him
alight in Kostroma on 22 April.

Ryzhkov said that his proposal that the Interior Ministry should
provide the State Duma with the information on this crime and the
steps taken to detain and punish the culprits, quote – due to
technicalities had been voted on and the majority of the Duma, which
is the One Russia faction, has voted down this procedural request –

In doing so, the State Duma showed that it sees nothing terrible in
crimes of this sort and is unwilling to demand that the Interior
Ministry take emergency steps to this effect, Ryzhkov said.

BAKU: Is this a new wave of deporting Azerbaijanis from Georgia?

Is this a new wave of deporting Azerbaijanis from Georgia?

Zerkalo, Baku
22 Apr 04

The Azerbaijani daily Zerkalo has urged the government to get to grips
with the plight of ethnic Azerbaijanis in Georgia. The paper quoted a
letter from Georgia’s Azerbaijani intelligentsia who blamed the new
Georgian authorities for oppressing ethnic Azerbaijanis and muffling
the Azerbaijani-language press. They called on Azerbaijani President
Ilham Aliyev to do everything possible to stop the “genocide” being
conducted by the new Georgian authorities against the Azerbaijani
population. In turn, Zerkalo warned that if the situation is not dealt
with, this might lead to a new wave of refugees in the country, this
time from Georgia. The following is an excerpt from M. Yasaroglu
report by Azerbaijani newspaper Zerkalo on 22 April headlined “Is this
a new wave of deporting Azerbaijanis from Georgia?” and subheaded
“Georgian nationalists are trying to eliminate the leaders of the
Milli Qeyrat movement”. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

The editorial office of Zerkalo newspaper received an appeal from a
group of representatives of the Azerbaijani intelligentsia in Georgia
yesterday. To be honest, the first lines of the letter caused alarming
feelings in us.

Do not remain indifferent to our problems

“We request that the Azerbaijani leadership help and protect the
progressively thinking Azerbaijanis, in the person of Niyaz Huseynov
(editor-in-chief of Yeni Dusunca newspaper), who are being arrested
and humiliated for no reason. We ask President Ilham Aliyev to
intervene in this situation and do everything possible to stop the
genocide against the Azerbaijanis conducted by representatives of the
new authorities! Azerbaijani villagers are being denied land, and
there are still no water and power supplies. At customs checkpoints on
the Georgian-Azerbaijani border, they beat up, humiliate, arrest and
extort money from Azerbaijanis.

“We would like to come to you and tell you about everything that is
being done against us, but we have no such opportunity. We can only
send you our representatives because since the arrest of photo
correspondent Qacar Huseynov and in connection with the persecution of
the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Niyaz Huseynov, individual
representatives of the Azerbaijani intelligentsia have been afraid to
leave Tbilisi and Borcali (Kvemo-Kartli), and have been afraid to go
out and speak aloud. They fear because they will be immediately
labelled as “separatists”. We hope that the Azerbaijani leadership
will not remain indifferent to what is happening.”

The appeal was signed by representatives of the Azerbaijani
intelligentsia: Maqsud Huseynzada, chairman of the NGO Georgian and
Azerbaijani journalists; Cingiz Mursaqulov, a coach of Tbilisi’s David
Kvajadze kickboxing club; Camil Novruzov, chairman of the council of
elders of the NGO Georgian and Azerbaijani journalists (Marneuli);
Arif Huseynov, representative of the Azerbaijani intelligentsia in the
village of Qacagan of Marneuli District; and Renat Bagirov,
representative of the NGO Georgian and Azerbaijani journalists in

Georgian Azeris should unite to protect themselves

Zerkalo has repeatedly raised the issue of the restriction of the
rights of our compatriots in Georgia – the country through which we
are building a pipeline to Europe and to which we ceded the
transportation tariff that was due to us.

The letter from the intelligentsia representatives is nothing other
than the confirmation of our previous statements that no
representative of the new Georgian authorities can accuse those people
of nationalism. Although the current situation testifies to the
opposite: maybe we should have taken an uncompromising nationalistic
position like the Armenians of Samtskhe-Javakheti [Armenian-populated
region of Georgia]? Incidentally, this would be more “effective” as we
outnumber the Armenians. To all appearances, we, the Azerbaijanis,
very often overestimate the idea of “friendship” with regard to
Georgia. And therefore, we paid for that.

“The rights of Azerbaijanis have been grossly trampled on and violated
in Georgia of late, and the staff of the Tbilisi-based
Georgian-Azerbaijani newspaper Yeni Dusunca are being persecuted. It
is planned to close down the Milli Qeyrat [National Dignity]
organization of the Azerbaijanis, which has been operating in Marneuli
since 1989, and to eliminate the leaders of this organization – former
[Georgian] MP Zumrud Qurbanli and the chairman of the organization,
Alibala Asgarov,” the statement said.

The representatives of the intelligentsia said that Qacar Huseynov, a
photo correspondent of the Azerbaijani-language newspaper Yeni
Dusunca, was arrested on 3 April by the decision of the
Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi district court in Tbilisi. The editor-in-chief of
the newspaper, Niyaz Huseynov, was initially charged for political
motives and then, under the article on “fraud”. Representatives of
the new Georgian government are simply trying to eliminate him.

Paper’s campaign for local Azerbaijanis irritates new authorities

The crux of the matter is that the photo correspondent of Yeni Dusunca
paper, Qacar Huseynov, gained a great number of votes for the Labour
Party in the Azeri-populated village of Soganli. He was the chairman
of a commission from the Labour Party.

Yeni Dusunca paper has repeatedly drawn attention to the problems of
Azerbaijanis living in Georgia. The paper published articles headlined
“A demolished mosque in old Tbilisi”, “The closure of the Azerbaijani
dramatic theatre in Tbilisi’s old district of Meydan in 1950”, “A
brutal assault on and beating of Azerbaijanis”, “Mass illegal arrests
of Azerbaijanis by the police in Georgia”, “On the gross violation of
the rights of Azerbaijanis in Kvemor Kartli”, “Azerbaijanis are
fourth-class citizens of Georgia”, “On the Red Bridge on the
Georgian-Azerbaijani border, members of the new Georgian government
are demanding a huge bribe from each Azerbaijani bus”, “Churches are
being pulled down today, mosques will be pulled down tomorrow”, “Did
Saakashvili receive a warm welcome in Baku?”, “Saakashvili blocks
Ajaria”, “A bribe has been paid for arresting the editor-in-chief”,
“SOS! Help, they want to close down the paper!”.

As a result, the office of the newspapers and the computer centre
where it is printed were searched without a lawyer by the decision of
the chairman of the Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi district court,

Editor-in-chief’s family persecuted

“After the so-called ‘velvet revolution’, on 21 January, at night, a
group of armed people attacked the members of the family of the
editor-in-chief of the Azerbaijani-language newspaper, Niyaz
Huseynov. His mother and brother were physically insulted. It emerged
later that the attackers were members of the ruling National Movement
Party.” They demanded that the Huseynovs immediately leave
Georgia. They also spoke about several articles against
representatives of the incumbent authorities.

[Passage omitted: Niyaz Huseynov and Qacar Huseynov were arrested]

Many Azerbaijanis in Georgia have lately been living with a feeling of
alarm. Representatives of the new local district authorities are
literally oppressing them – members of the intelligentsia are being
sacked from their jobs, peasants are being simply oppressed. The
region has sunk into mayhem. And as a consequence, on 18 April, a
clash occurred between Azerbaijanis and the local authorities in the
village of Kolagir in Bolnisi District. They are trying to force
Azerbaijanis to adopt the Orthodox faith. Since the “velvet
revolution”, such clashes in the region have become more and more

[Passage omitted: Paper could not contact representatives of the
Azerbaijani organization]

We think that the Azerbaijani authorities should not revel in “sweet”
promises voiced from aside, including from the new Georgian
leadership, and come to grips with this completely neglected
issue. There is no time left. Some time later we might witness a new
wave of Azerbaijani refugees.

The Azerbaijani authorities should start by remembering the recent
past. They should look through several pages of the most recent
history and recall how the deportation of the Azerbaijanis from
Armenia started.

Bayrakdarian Debut at AGBU/Hamazgayin-Sponsored Yerevan Gig Sold Out

55 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022-1112
Phone (212) 319-6383
Fax (212) 319-6507
Email [email protected]

Friday, April 23, 2004


New York – Isabel Bayrakdarian performed on April 20, 2004, at
Yerevan’s Khachaturian Concert Hall under the direction of Armenian
Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) Conductor, Eduard Topchjan. The
AGBU-sponsored APO and Hamazgayin jointly organized the sold-out
evening attended by President Robert Kocharian, His Holiness Karekin
II, government ministers, foreign embassy representatives and leading
Armenian cultural personalities.

The Armenian Canadian soprano performed a program of arias from
popular operas, including Rossini’s “Barber of Seville and Dikranian’s
“Anoush” opera, as well as an array of Armenian chamber pieces.

Internationally known, Bayrakdarian first enchanted opera lovers in
New York where she won the Metropolitan Opera prize in 1997. She has
performed with many of the leading opera companies in Brussels, New
York, Paris, Salzburg and Toronto. She has also performed on the
Grammy Award winning soundtracks of the movies, “The Lord of the
Rings” and “The Two Towers”.

Impressed by the APO’s professionalism, Bayrakdarian thanked the
audience with heart-felt emotion for what proved to be a special
experience for her. “Though I have sung in many places, I am feeling
this joy for the first time. It feels great to sing in my homeland and
to sing for people who are very dear to me. I wish to hug each of you
present in the hall and to kiss Armenian land,” she said.

The Bayrakdarian concert is the latest in a season of AGBU-sponsored
performances. This year, productions of “Gayaneh” and “Anoush” by the
National Theatre of Opera and Ballet were made possible through grants
provided by AGBU. While the “Gayaneh” ballet premiered April 4,
“Anoush” will be performed on May 8.

AGBU has been a proud sponsor of APO since 1993 and continues to
champion the finest in Armenian cultural talent around the world. For
more information on AGBU cultural programs, please visit

Background Paper on the Pontian Genocide

Hellenic Resources Network
Monday, 8 March 2004

Background Paper on the Pontian Genocide

Misc. Docs. Directory
From: Akis Haralabopoulos [email protected]

Pontus means “sea” in Greek and is located in the south-eastern littoral of
the Black Sea. Its connection with Hellenism stretches back to pre-historic
times to the legends of Jason and the Argonauts quest for the Golden Fleece
and to Heracles obtaining the Amazon Queen’s girdle. The coastal region was
colonised by the Ionians, especially the city of Miletus which founded
Sinope (785 BC), Trapezunta (756 BC) and the numerous other cities along the
coast from Heracleia to Discurias in the Caucasus. The Hinterland was
gradually Hellenised and this was completed after Alexander’s conquests. Its
contribution to Hellenism in those 2800 years has been enormous: Diogenes
hailed from Sinope and Strabo from Amaseia, it was here that Xenophon found
a safe haven, that the great Comneni dynasty reigned, the home of Cardinal
Bessarion and the Hypsilandis family; it was also the last Greek territory
to fall to the Turks (in 1461). Many famous churches, monasteries and
schools are a testament to the resilience of Hellenism. The Pontians are a
distinct Greek people with their own dialect, dances, songs and theatre.

For the Pontian Greeks all ended in tragedy in the years 1914-22. Of the
700,000 Greeks living in Pontus in 1914, 300,000 were killed as a result of
Turkish government policy and the remainder became refugees. Three millenia
of the Greek presence was wiped out by a deliberate policy of creating a
Turkey for the Turks. The Pontian people were denied the right to exist, the
right of respect for their national and cultural identity, and the right to
remain on land they had lived on for countless generations.

The turning point in the treatment of Greeks in Turkey was the alliance
between Germany and the Sultan that commenced after the Treaty of Berlin
1878. Germany regarded Anglo French protection of Christians as an obstacle
to its interests and convinced the Turkish authorities that the Greeks were
working for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Germany opened the Berlin
Academy to Turkish military officers and General Gotz was appointed to
restructure the Ottoman armed forces. The successful national movements in
the Balkans posed a threat that the same would occur in Asia Minor. After
the Balkan Wars the Young Turks decided that Asia Minor would be a homeland
for Turks alone and that the Greeks and Armenians had to be eliminated. The
outbreak of World War I made this possible and Germany willingly sacrificed
the Christian minorities to achieve its aim in the Middle East. However, it
is the German and Austrian diplomats reports that confirm that what took
place was a systematic and deliberate extermination of the Christian
population. Genocide. Not security or defence measures, not relocations of
population (why forcibly relocate populations?) not war, not retaliation in
response to the activities of Pontian guerillas or Russian invasion but

Terrorism, labour battalions, exiles, forced marches, rapes, hangings,
fires, murders, planned, directed and executed by the Turkish authorities.
This can be corroborated by the German and Austrian archives now made

24 July 1909 German Ambassador in Athens Wangenheim to Chancellor Bulow
quoting Turkish Prime Minister Sefker Pasha: “The Turks have decided upon a
war of extermination against their Christian subjects.”

26 July 1909 Sefker Pasha visited Patriarch Ioakeim III and tells him: “we
will cut off your heads, we will make you disappear. It is either you or us
who will survive.”

14 May 1914 Official document from Talaat Bey Minister of the Interior to
Prefect of Smyrna: The Greeks, who are Ottoman subjects, and form the
majority of inhabitants in your district, take advantage of the
circumstances in order to provoke a revolutionary current, favourable to the
intervention of the Great Powers. Consequently, it is urgently necessary
that the Greeks occupying the coast-line of Asia Minor be compelled to
evacuate their villages and install themselves in the vilayets of Erzerum
and Chaldea. If they should refuse to be transported to the appointed
places, kindly give instructions to our Moslem brothers, so that they shall
induce the Greeks, through excesses of all sorts, to leave their native
places of their own accord. Do not forget to obtain, in such cases, from the
emigrants certificates stating that they leave their homes on their own
initiative, so that we shall not have political complications ensuing from
their displacement.

31 July 1915 German priest J. Lepsius: “The anti-Greek and anti-Armenian
persecutions are two phases of one programme – the extermination of the
Christian element from Turkey.

16 July 1916 German Consul Kuchhoff from Amisos to Berlin: “The entire Greek
population of Sinope and the coastal region of the county of Kastanome has
been exiled. Exile and extermination in Turkish are the same, for whoever is
not murdered, will die from hunger or illness.”

30 November 1916 Austrian consul at Amisos Kwiatkowski to Austria Foreign
Minister Baron Burian: “on 26 November Rafet Bey told me: “we must finish
off the Greeks as we did with the Armenians . . . on 28 November. Rafet Bey
told me: “today I sent squads to the interior to kill every Greek on sight.”
I fear for the elimination of the entire Greek population and a repeat of
what occurred last year” (meaning the Armenian genocide).

13 December 1916 German Ambassador Kuhlman to Chancellor Hollweg in Berlin:
“Consuls Bergfeld in Samsun and Schede in Kerasun report of displacement of
local population and murders. Prisoners are not kept. Villages reduced to
ashes. Greek refugee families consisting mostly of women and children being
marched from the coasts to Sebasteia. The need is great.”

19 December 1916 Austrian Ambassador to Turkey Pallavicini to Vienna lists
the villages in the region of Amisos that were being burnt to the ground and
their inhabitants raped, murdered or dispersed.

20 January 1917 Austrian Ambassador Pallavicini: “the situation for the
displaced is desperate. Death awaits them all. I spoke to the Grand Vizier
and told him that it would be sad if the persecution of the Greek element
took the same scope and dimension as the Armenia persecution. The Grand
Vizier promised that he would influence Talaat Bey and Emver Pasha.”

31 January 1917 Austrian Chancellor Hollweg’s report: “. . . the indications
are that the Turks plan to eliminate the Greek element as enemies of the
state, as they did earlier with the Armenians. The strategy implemented by
the Turks is of displacing people to the interior without taking measures
for their survival by exposing them to death, hunger and illness. The
abandoned homes are then looted and burnt or destroyed. Whatever was done to
the Armenians is being repeated with the Greeks.

Thus, by government decree 1,500,000 Armenians and 300,000 Pontian Greeks
were annihilated through exile, starvation, cold, illness, slaughter,
murder, gallows, axe, and fire. Those who survived fled never to return. The
Pontians now lie scattered all over the world as a result of the genocide
and their unique history, language (the dialect is a valuable link between
ancient and modern Greek), and culture are endangered and face extinction.

A double crime was committed – genocide and the uprooting of a people from
their ancestral homelands of three millenia. The Christian nations were not
only witnesses to this horrible and monstrous crime, which remains
unpunished, but for reasons of political expediency and self interest have,
by their silence, pardoned the criminal. The Ottoman and Kemalist Turks were
responsible for the genocide of the Pontian people, the most heinous of all
crimes according to international law. The international community must
recognise this crime.

Sen Boxer: Commemoration Of The Armenian Genocide, April 24, 2004

Statement On The Commemoration Of The Armenian Genocide, April 24, 2004

April 21, 2004

Between the years of 1915 and 1923, a million and a half of Armenians were
brutally murdered as a result of a calculated plan to eliminate Armenians
from the Ottoman Empire. Men, taken from their families and homes, were
separated out and killed. Women, children and elderly were sent on forced
death marches across the Syrian desert. These actions constituted the first
genocide of the 20th century and one of the most vicious and tragic events
in world history.

One and one-half million Armenian lives were lost, countless more were
persecuted, and the entire Armenian community suffered. As we reflect on
these horrible years, Armenian Americans know this story and its relevance
in history. Tragically, some question its historical accuracy. To prevent
future genocide is to face the reality that it exists. Knowledge of past
genocides in different parts of our world assists in arming us to prevent
such acts from occurring again.

At the outset of the Jewish Holocaust, Adolph Hitler said that no one
remembered what happened to the Armenian people during the genocide. He then
proceeded to implement his Final Solution.

Today, Armenians are continuing to work to rebuild and strengthen their
great nation. After facing years of injustice and persecution, the Armenian
people’s spirit remains strong.

I join you in commemorating the 89th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
As we remember these sad years, we must never forget that an act of genocide
is not only an act of hatred toward one particular group, but toward all
humankind. May we learn from the tragedy of the Armenian genocide and
recommit ourselves to full equality, respect, and acceptance for all people.
An important first step is the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the
United States Government and the world as a whole.

Kazakhstan not going to join NATO – official

Kazakhstan not going to join NATO – official

Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency
23 Apr 04

Almaty, 23 April: Kazakhstan is not going to join NATO, the alliance’s
deputy secretary-general, Jean Fournet, has said.

“Kazakhstan’s joining NATO is not on the agenda today,” he said at a
news conference in Almaty on 23 April.

Fournet stressed that Kazakhstan’s participation in the alliance’s
programmes is “very important”, “but this doesn’t mean that Kazakhstan
is applying for official membership of NATO”.

Under many circumstances, “it is rather more important for the country
to be a full participant” of partnership programmes than to be a NATO
member. “This is linked with the regional policy, the policy of
neighbouring states,” Fournet said.

He also noted that NATO is not competing with the CSTO Collective
Security Treaty Organization; members are Armenia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia and the SCO Shanghai
Cooperation Organization; members are China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia in Central Asia.

“Competition is not the role of the multinational organization NATO
. We are all interested in ensuring better security in the region, and
NATO aims at cooperating in and developing the dialogue with these
organizations,” the NATO representative said.

FAON: Recognition Armenian genocide in The Netherlands a step closer

Federation of Armenian Organisations in Netherlands (FAON)
24 April Committee
Contact: Mrs. I. Drost
Tel: +31- 6 242 725 74
Email: [email protected]

April 22, 2004

Recognition Armenian genocide in The Netherlands a step closer

THE HAGUE – On April 21, 2004, several hundred protesters urged for
recognition of the genocide of 1915 on Armenians in Turkey and expressed
necessity for Turkey to recognize the genocide before a date is set for
negotiations regarding accession of Turkey to the EU.

The Chairman of the Fixed Comission for European Affairs of the parliament,
Mrs. S. Dijksma, received the petition given by a survivor of the Armenian
genocide in the presence of MPs Van Bommel (Socialist Party), Huizinga
(Christian Union) and Van Der Staay (Reformed Party). Next a petition was
offered to the Dutch government at the Ministry of General Affairs. The door
and mailbox remained closed at the Turkish embassy. The demonstrators had no
other choice but to leave the letter on the doorknob.

During the demonstration on Plein square in The Hague MPs of the CDA
(Christian Democrats, PvdA (Labor Party), GroenLinks (Green Left) and SP
(Socialist Party) spoke to the demonstrators. In their speeches the MPs
underlined the importance of recognition of the Armenian genocide. Moreover
it became clear that the fraction of these parties, who together form the
majority in parliament, factually recognize the genocide. With this the
recognition in the Netherlands of the genocide on 1.5 million Armenians in
the latter years of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire has come a step closer.

Although the views of the parties and that of the 24 April Committee
concerning the recognition of the Armenian genocide are closely related,
there is a difference in the role recognition should play in the
decision-making of a date for negotiations with Turkey on the potential
accession of this country to the EU. In the next few weeks thoughts will
continue to be exchanged betwwen the 24 April Committee and the MPs.

The demonstration was the first in a series of activities that the 24 April
Comitte of the Armenian Federation has organized with the aim for recogntion
by Turkey of the Armenian genocide of 1915.

The yearly solemn commemoration of the Armenian genocide will be held this
April 24 from 1pm onwards at cemetery De Boskamp in Assen at the Armenian
memorial. After laying a wreath, a ceremony will be held in the auditorium
of the cemetery. Among others, Freek de Jonge, Paul Scheffer and Leen van
Dijke will speak, as well as the ambassador to Armenia in the Benelux, Vigen

Oil interests hang in the balance in Karabakh conflict

The Georgian Messenger
23 April 2004

Prepared by Anna Arzanova
Oil interests hang in the balance in Karabakh conflict

According to the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the aggravation of
Armenian-Azeri conflict may interfere in the construction of the pipeline
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan. For the first time after ten years of peace, there has
been talk in Baku and in Yerevan about the possibility of the renewal of
military actions in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh con-flict.

Last week, the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan stated that a war between
Armenia and Azerbaijan may start at any moment and specified that it can
take place given that Armenian authorities are loosing control over the
situation in the country, where the political crisis is aggravating.

The United States is concerned that armed forces may act independent of
politicians and provoke armed conflict themselves. The clearest sign of
Washington’s concern regarding the development of events in the zone of
Armenian-Azeri conflict is the appointment of Steven Mann as the American
co-chair of the Minsk Group of the OSCE.

This diplomat managed to solve the most important problem for the United
States to direct the transportation of energy resources from the Caspian Sea
region to the West, which is needed by Washingon. Steven Mann has close
relations not only with the leadership of one of the countries involved in
the conflict Azerbaijan, but also with Western oil companies, which have
interests in this region.

It is possible that Washington really intends to stimulate the process of
regulating the conflict. Though, probably, the task before Steven Mann is to
postpone armed conflict until 2005. By this time, the BTC pipeline will be
set in motion. After this, the insuring of the pipeline’s security will
become an international problem.

The West will at any price not allow the renewal of hostilities, though, as
the former co-chairman of the Minsk Group of OSCE of Russia Vladimer
Kazimirov said, the experience gained by Steven Mann at the position of
president’s special representative of the United States in Caspian region,
will not help him in this new field. “There are lots of ways to exert
pressure to avoid armed actions and the smell of oil is not necessary for
this,” states the expert.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Isolated: A visit to a forgotten village
23 April 2004
Isolated: A visit to a forgotten village

By Vahan Ishkhanyan ArmeniaNow reporter

When the snow melts, the village of Geghakar restores its connection with
the world.
Geghakar comes out when the snow goes away.

A nearly impassable road is the only link with the outside, and when nature
closes it, Geghakar about 75 miles northeast of Yerevan hibernates until

Until 1989, the village – formerly called Yenikend – was one of the richest
cattle breeding areas of the Gegharkunik region. It was an Azeri settlement
until then. But its population and its livestock industry and a lot of other
things changed when Azeris were no longer welcomed across the nearby border,
and vice versa.

Today Geghakar, like many villages around this part of Lake Sevan, is
populated by refugees from Azerbaijan.

Ruben Karapetyan is 25. In 1990, when he was 11, his family escaped from the
big-city (but dangerous for Armenians) life in Baku, and became villagers.
Other refugees came for Kirovabad, and the former Azeri village became home
to families like Ruben’s.

“It’s very strange how this village was put on a map,” Ruben says.

Ten years ago there was a telephone line connecting Geghakar. But residents
of the village remember that one day someone came to the village from
Vardenis and cut all telephone lines taking them away saying that nobody can
lay a complaint against him. Refugees, who had no support, couldn’t save
their telephone lines.

“Those days they lied to us,” says refugee from Kirovabad Roman Karapetyan.
“They said they would develop the village, install a gas line . . . And then
they put us into an Ikarus (model of bus) and brought us here.”

It is a far measure from life as it was known in Kirovabad or Baku.

Villagers mainly live by growing potatoes and wheat, a task made more
difficult because the village has no irrigation system. They say they cannot
work their croplands because they have no machinery. And even if there were
machinery, they couldn’t afford to buy fuel.

Thirteen families live in Geghakar, about 50 residents. Three times that
many are registered here. Two-thirds of the official population actually
live seven kilometers away in Lusakunk. They come to the village to graze
cattle and to vote. The head of the village also lives in Lusakunk, and
rarely visits his “constituency”. (In general, almost all refugee villages
in the region have heads who are non-refugees.)

The poorest villagers are refugees from Baku, Boris and Irina Kulikyan, who
have seven children.

“We had been living in the city for 35 years. What can we do now? This is
our reality. We have no place to go,” says Boris, who is seriously ill and
cannot do physical work anymore. Their eldest son, who is the main
breadwinner in their family, was called up for military service.

“In summer we can do something, but in winter it is very hard. We can hardly
sell 500-600 kilograms of potatoes and buy firewood. However, I cannot work
the land anymore. In addition, there was terrible heavy rain, which killed
all potatoes.” (In early March a storm and flood caused severe damage to the
region. Many roofs in Geghakar were damaged).

In general, Geghakar has rich resources including wide meadows, croplands
and a quarry. However, villagers insist they don’t make use of them as
quarries belong to a businessman from Vardenis, where only residents from
Vardenis work. And majority of croplands is granted on lease.

“All hayfields belong to head of the village. He thinks only about his
pocket,” says one of the villagers. (ArmeniaNow tried to reach the village
head, but he was not in Geghakar nor in his permanent residence in

There is a medical station in the village, but it is always closed. A nurse
from Lusakunk visits every two months, according to villagers.

Emma Tsaturyan, 62, a refugee from Baku, is the villagers’ means of health
care. Emma gives injections, and, since 1992, has delivered 11 babies. She
is not paid. Neither by the government, nor by the villagers, from whom she
will not even allow a small gift.

“I used to work as a midwife in Baku,” Emma says. “When we were escaping
from Baku I couldn’t take my medical school diploma. Head of the village
didn’t allow me to become a nurse. He said I had no diploma (medical
association of the region appoints nurses, however, head of the village can
offer his candidature).”

There is only one car in the village but it is very old and hardly works.
When somebody is seriously sick, the car becomes an ambulance. But if the
road is closed by snow, or if there is no petrol, patients are taken by
horse. Roman remembers when his daughter was seriously ill he took her to
the city, carrying her along in a sled.

But when a villager is too sick to be moved, he is at the mercy of fate
because it is impossible to call an ambulance. One villager died this winter
as a result.

Geghakar has little to show as improvement since it became this involuntary
home. It has, however, built a school with money given by Diaspora. Twelve
students attend the eight-grade school. Those who wish to study beyond
eighth grade must go to Lusakunk. Few, however, are likely to do so, as it
would require walking 14 kilometers a day on a desolate road. Roman says his
daughter is an excellent pupil, however, after finishing eight years in
school she will not continue her study.

A month ago a bus to Vardenis began operating once every two weeks. However,
it is not clear how long that route will be in use.

At least there was a shop here those days (when the refugees first
settled),” Roman Karapetyan says. “But now even if you die nobody will know
about it. I have arms and legs. I can do everything. We are specialized in
different professions but we sit here and have nothing to do. We can hardly
keep a couple of sheep and cows to be able to exist. How could they bring
citizens to these mountains?

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress