Nassau: Uncertainty over Cable Beach?

Nassau Guardian, Bahamas
March 18 2004

Uncertainty over Cable Beach?

By LINDSAY THOMPSON, Guardian Business Editor [email protected]

Hotel Corporation Chairman George Smith says he has not been informed
that Lyford Cay billionaire Dikran Izmirlian withdrew a $1 billion
proposal for an upscale redevelopment of Cable Beach.

A “no comment” response came from the Izmirlian residence when The
Guardian called there Tuesday afternoon.

Additionally, a source close to the situation told The Guardian that
noted hotelier George Myers and a group of Bahamian businessmen
called “Prestige” were also interested in the project.

Mr. Myers told The Guardian that he was watching the process and “was
not interested at this time”.

Mr. Smith was asked how close was the government to announcing a
preferred developer for the Cable Beach redevelopment project.

He noted that plenty “ingredients” are involved in the process, and
that Prime Minister Perry Christie has “very, very high ambitions”
for Cable Beach.

The government owns the Radisson Cable Beach Resort, which has
undergone tremendous refurbishing, particularly to 150 rooms, which
were damaged by Hurricane Michelle in November 2001.

Other improvements were carried out the exterior of the property, the
grounds, the escalator, the golf course with netting and lighting,
which impacts upon the value of the property, Mr. Smith said. And,
there is an anticipated 100 per cent occupancy over the next several
weeks, he added.

A number of groups have expressed interests in developing the Cable
Beach strip, which includes the Radisson, Wyndham Nassau Resort and
Crystal Palace Casino and the Nassau Beach Hotel, in addition to the
former Hobby Horse racetrack land opposite.

The Wyndham and Nassau Beach hotels are owned by Phil Ruffin, who is
reportedly refusing to sell to the Swiss-Armenian billionaire Dikran
Izmirlian who owns the largest real estate plot in Lyford Cay.

A source representing Calstar Properties of Orange County, California
told The Guardian it is interested in the development, at an
estimated $500 million.

Calstar Properties estimates that the redevelopment of the hotels
would be completed within 36 months. The opposite land would take a
bit longer and would comprise a convention centre, an amusement and
entertainment park.

According to the source the project will not disrupt the Cable Beach
area as, “We are not pulling down.” It is anticipated that between
1,600 and 1,800 permanent jobs would be created at the completion of
the project.

Mr. Smith noted that the golf course is on 110 acres of land
surrounded by an additional 30 acres of “excellent land with
tremendous value”, and about 55 acres of the Hobby Horse racetrack.

“Those are very valuable assets and the government and the
corporation want to find the best possible entities to proceed with
the massive improvements to make it into a first class destination,”
Mr. Smith said.

It has also been said that potential developers are seeking the same
type of tax concessions granted Kerzner International when it opened
its resort on Paradise Island.

Analysts say that most investors would like to get the “most generous
concessions” but those have to be negotiated and in some cases what
may appear to be generous in one area, is not in another.

The deal surrounding Radisson seems to be taking shape like that of
the sale of Bahamas Telecommunication Communications (the government
went through a bidding process, then decided to postpone the sale).

To this, Mr. Smith said, “Radisson is an ongoing hotel that is doing
a whole lot better now that it was a year ago. It has all its rooms
in very good condition, we have retained the staff and there was
great temptation when the 150 rooms were not in circulation to lay
off staff… this makes it an attractive hotel to a purchaser.”

Bulgarian FM continues shuttle between Armenia, Azerbaijan

Bulgarian News Network, Bulgaria
March 18 2004

Bulgarian foreign minister continues shuttle between Armenia, Azerbaijan

SOFIA (bnn) – Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Solomon Passy urged
Wednesday Armenia’s leaders to resume talks with Azerbaijan about the
future of the latter’s Armenian-dominated breakaway province of
Nagorno Karabakh, the BGNES news agency reported.

Passy, who is chairing the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, met Armenia’s Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan and
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan. He was scheduled to meet President
Robert Kocharyan later in the day. On Tuesday Passy held talks on the
Nagorno Karabakh issue with Azeri President Ilham Aliev.

Azerbaijan’s autonomous region of Nagorno Karabakh, which is
populated mainly by Armenians, petitioned to become part of Armenia
towards the end of the Soviet era. Serious fighting erupted in 1991
and in the following two years Armenian forces gained control of
Nagorno-Karabakh and occupied almost 20 percent of Azeri territory.

The leaders of the Nagorno-Karabakh region have declared
independence, though this status has not been recognized by any
state. The fighting between Azeris and Armenians left more than
15,000 dead.

Armenian leaders on Wednesday voiced readiness for negotiations with
Azerbaijan, but emphasized on what they see as Azerbaijan’s ethnic
Armenians’ right of self-rule, the report said.

Passy met also the head of Armenia’s Apostolic Church Garegin II, who
also spoke in favor of dialog with Azerbaija, the agency said. /bnn/

Ireland scores big on St. Patrick Day – downs Armenia 8-1 in Div III

IIHF, Switzerland
March 18 2004

Ireland scores big on St. Patrick’s Day – downs Armenia 8-1 in Div
III
Ireland defeated Armenia 8-1 (3-1, 5-0, 0-0) on St. Patrick’s Day to
win its first ever official game at an IIHF World Championship as the
“Emerald Bhoys” scored eight unanswered goals after Armenia took a
1-0 lead at the 10 minute mark of the first period.

For more details you can also check into the event website of the
local Icelandic organizers of the 2004 IIHF World Championship
Division III in Reykjavik.

All the official stats, results and rosters can be found on this IIHF
stats page.

————————————————————————-

By Alan Maki
The Globe and Mail, Toronto

This was the summary from yesterday’s big hockey game in Iceland:
Mexico 8, Ireland 3.

Ireland’s first two goals were scored by a Belarus defenceman. The
Irish also got a goal from a left winger who just happens to be a
tennis pro who lives and coaches in Dublin. But forget about that for
a moment.
Yesterday is done. Today is the day that matters. Today is the day
the tennis playing Larry Jurovich and his Irish teammates have been
thinking about for months; the day they can do themselves and all
Ireland proud by scoring their first victory at an IIHF World
Championship and on St. Patrick’s Day, no less.

All they have to do is beat Armenia. Beat Armenia on St. Paddy’s Day
and, guaranteed, Irish hockey will have its galvanizing moment, its
1972 Summit Series, its 1980 Winter Olympics; also a good excuse to
drink green beer.

Mind you, just making it to the 2004 International Ice Hockey
Federation World Championship, Division III in Reykjavik is a major
accomplishment for this Irish team.

Ireland has little history and no burning connection to the game. It
has even less when it comes to youth hockey. As for permanent rinks,
you can count them on two fingers (the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and
the International Ice Bowl in Dundonald).

44-year old claims connections to Brantford and Gretzky
That so few given so little could get to a world championship is a
tribute to the Irish team’s spirit, its raw athleticism and, of
course, a bunch of puck-crazed Canadians.

You didn’t think there’d be a hockey story without some Canadian
content, did you? Jurovich, the tennis ace and goal-scoring left
winger, was born in Vancouver. He is now a naturalized Irish citizen
who serves as the high-performance coach for Tennis Ireland.

Centreman John White is a 44-year-old Dublin-born Canadian who says
he played his minor hockey in Brantford, Ont., with none other than
Wayne Gretzky. Garrett MacNeill, another Dublin-born Canadian, plays
defence for the Manhattanville College Valiants, an NCAA Division III
school in New York.

Then there are the coaches, Greg Fitzgerald and Jim Graves, both of
whom hail from the true north strong and free and now reside in
Dublin. Rounding out the rest of the roster are seven players from
Belfast, nine from Dublin and Dimitry Slavashevsky, the 34-year-old
defenceman whose parents came from Minsk, perhaps to get away from
hockey.

If the Irish lineup seems more than a wee bit quirky, consider what
the players had to go through in preparation for the world
championship.

Outdoor practises at midnight three times a week
At first, they practised in Dublin, where the last permanent arena
was shut down four years ago. They practised outdoors, on a
non-regulation-size rink, after they’d finished work. During
Christmas, the players practised outdoors at midnight, after all the
public skaters had gone home. They did this three times a week until
they figured there had to be a better way, and there was.

Sort of.

What the Dublin-based players did was climb into their vehicles and
drive 2½ hours north to Belfast, two, sometimes three times a week,
for on-ice sessions. They did this when they weren’t doing off-ice
workouts at the national boxing club or in-line skating to stay in
shape.

“We may not have a rink, and we may lack game experience, but we’ll
have the best fitness possible,” team captain Mark Bowes promised.

Bowes is the general secretary of the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
He and president/defenceman Cliff Saunders have done their part to
promote the game in Ireland, a game that Saunders has described as “a
cross between hurling and skating with the excitement of both.” (No
word on what Saunders thought of the Todd Bertuzzi incident, which
made a lot of Canadians think about hurling, too.)

Who will be the Irish hero on St. Patrick’s day?
Just how well Ireland will do at the Division III World Championship
is an exercise in wishful thinking. Five years ago, the country sent
a team to the IIHF European U-18 Championship in Bulgaria and failed
to win a game. Five players from that team played yesterday against
Mexico in a game in which the Irish were tied 2-2 after one period,
down a goal after two periods but badly outscored in the third.

But to the likes of Slavashevsky and Jurovich and everyone else on
the emerald team, yesterday’s loss is over and done. Today is all
that matters; the day they can down Armenia and make their mark. That
it could happen on St. Patrick’s Day has presented them with an
opportunity they’ve been dreaming about for months.

The question now is: Is there a Paul O’Henderson in their midst?

This story is re-printed for IIHF.com with kind permission from the
Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada.

Spring Games for Iranian Armenians

IranMania News, Iran
March 17 2004

Spring Games for Iranian Armenians

Isfahan, March 17 (IranMania) — According to Iran’s State News
Agency (IRNA) Armenians will start their competitions in Spring Games
in this historical city of Iran Thursday, celebrating the 400th
anniversary of their settlement in Jolfa, central Isfahan.

Ararat Sports-Cultural Club will host the six-day event, which
includes basketball, track-and-field, table tennis, and football.

The Republic of Armenia and Georgia have dispatched their sportsmen
to Isfahan. The grand prelate of Isfahan, Shahan Sarkissian, will
light the Torch at Vank Church, which will be carried to Ararat Club
by national Armenian athletes.

Humor Consultants Teach Workplaces How to Laugh Without Offending

Miami Herald, FL
March 18 2004

Humor Consultants Teach Workplaces How to Laugh Without Offending

By Diwata Fonte, The Fresno Bee, Calif. Knight Ridder/Tribune
Business News

Mar. 17–VISALIA, Calif. – Within minutes, Amy Shuklian is telling
you about Armenians, turning 40, and the fad diets that lasted longer
than her five-month marriage.

“People would say things [to me] like, ‘Gosh you had so much in
common it seems like you wanted the same things out of life.’ And we
did. Unfortunately, the same thing we both wanted was a husband.”

Shuklian is warming up the crowd of about two dozen businesspeople at
a meeting Tuesday of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. She’s breaking
the ice, but also talking about humor in the workplace, tying in some
of the best-known staples of joke-telling: ethnic and gender
stereotypes and self-deprecation.

These days, it seems like workplace humor is as dangerous on the job
as exposed wiring or dirty air. While many employees are taught to
tie their tongues and save the jokes for outside the office, humor
consultants like Shuklian of Visalia work with companies to show that
there is still room for laughter on the job.

Workplace experts say a light-hearted work atmosphere is essential to
reducing stress and improving employee morale and productivity.

But — and there’s always a but when talking about humor — it must
also be appropriate, tasteful and sensitive.

Jokes invoking ethnic or religious stereotypes, as well as those old
standbys — the priest, the minister and the rabbi who go golfing,
for example — can be landmines. Desk toys, situational comedy and
“life’s set-ups” — those perfectly timed moments when a witty
observation can crack up the room — can easily fit into a
professional workplace, Shuklian said.

Alicia Sundstrom, owner of the Financial Credit Network collection
agency in Visalia, took more than a dozen of her managers to listen
to Shuklian’s presentation.

Sundstrom, who keeps a toy leprechaun and an oversized smile mask at
her office, said: “Bill-collecting is not a happy environment. We
work really hard to create an environment that the staff wants to
come to daily.”

Humor consultants help to bridge the gray areas, by reminding
employees that the right kind of humor is both acceptable and
beneficial to their jobs.

In fact, most employers list a good sense of humor as a desirable
trait in a new employee; for example, it improves employee
relationships, said Steven M. Sultanoff of Irvine, a consultant who
holds a doctorate in clinical psychology. It also helps employees
manage stress and crisis, he said.

“The first thing is to look at the target of the humor,” Sultanoff
said. Situations, self and other people are the basic targets of
humor, he said.

“In general, the least threatening humor is when you target the
situation,” Sultanoff said.

For example, poking fun at a company policy or an event is relatively
safe. Another safe target is making fun at yourself, like pointing
out your messy desk.

The most dangerous area is targeting other people, even if you think
they can take a little good-natured ribbing.

“Not only because some people can’t tell jokes, there’s a fine line
between what can draw people together, and an even finer line of what
can draw people apart,” Shuklian said.

For that reason, Shuklian advises avoiding all jokes in the “Did you
hear the one about…?” genre, no matter how benign they might seem.

When the fine line gets crossed, human resources professionals
usually get called.

“You’re trying to create an enjoyable work place. Humor can help
improve the morale; however, when done inappropriately, it can lower
morale, or worse,” said Ward Scheitrum, the president of the Human
Resource Association of Central California.

As a result, some businesses create broad zero-tolerance policies on
top of the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, which protects
certain groups from discrimination, said Charles Taylor, a Fresno
employment lawyer.

Those policies, while not specifically forbidding any attempts at
humor, make it clear that the employer takes a dim view of humor that
may involve ethnic, religious or gender stereotypes.

Scorsolini remembers Peace Corps service in the town of Stepanavan

Allentown Messenger Press, NJ
March 18 2004

Washington Township resident, Lisa Scorsolini, remembers her Peace
Corps service in the town of Stepanavan, Armenia.

WASHINGTON – The smiling faces look out from the photos that
captured a moment in the past. Lisa Scorsolini looks through the
pictures, remembering the time she spent in a country halfway around
the world.
From May 1997 to August 1999 Ms. Scorsolini, 32, of Schenk Place
was a volunteer with the Peace Corps. She was stationed in Armenia,
in the small town of Stepanavan.
“I joined the Peace Corps because it was something I had always
wanted to do,” she said. “In today’s world it would behoove us to
know more about the rest of the world. The Peace Corps is one of the
best uses of taxpayers’ dollars that I can think of.”
In honor of National Peace Corps Week held last week, Ms.
Scorsolini spent the week encouraging young people to consider
volunteering for the organization, while creating an interest and
awareness of the program.
She gave presentations about her experience at Pond Road Middle
School and Notre Dame High School in Lawrence Township.
“The Peace Corps has three main missions – to provide technical
assistance to countries in need, provide a better understanding of
American culture to foreign peoples and to give Americans a chance to
better understand foreign cultures,” she said.
Ms. Scorsolini studied international relations and Hispanic and
Italian studies in college. and said the Peace Corps seemed like an
interesting experience. She also has been an exchange student to
Mexico in high school and that experience prompted her to want to
travel and work abroad.
However, the Peace Corps was not her first stop after graduating
from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She went to work as an
international marketing manager at the World Trade Center for a
division of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“My department was slated for privatization and downsizing, so for
a few months it was very unsettling to work there,” she said. “No one
knew what the future would bring so I considered applying for the
Peace Corps.”
She submitted her application in February 1997 and received her
acceptance in April along with her assignment to Armenia. She said
the Peace Corps does not allow volunteers to choose where they will
work and live.
“The application asks for a geographic preference and I put down
Latin America,” she said. “I figured that would be good for me
because I spoke Spanish and had already been there when I was in high
school.”
She said she was excited about the chance to explore a different
area of the world but was naive about the former Soviet Union.
“I researched the country before I left but I always assumed I’d
be speaking Russian,” she said. “When I got there I realized that
everyone knows Russian but Armenian is what’s spoken in homes,
workplaces and on the streets.”
After arriving in Armenia Ms. Scorsolini lived with a host family
in Abovian. For 12 weeks she underwent intense Peace Corps training,
including language and cross-cultural awareness classes.
After graduating and becoming an official volunteer she was moved
to Stepanavan and lived on her own in a small studio apartment.
“Armenia was affected by a massive earthquake in December 1988
that killed between 25,000 and 30,000 people and left more than
100,000 people homeless,” she said. “Then winter hit and the
international community brought in temporary housing structures to
hold the country over until permanent buildings could be built.”
However, 10 years later the citizens are still living in the
temporary structures, including Ms. Scorsolini. The wooden building
was heated by individual heaters and she had a flushing toilet. There
was no running hot water or gas, but she said she had it better than
most of her fellow volunteers.
“Some people only had access to running water at specifics times
during the day,” she said. “And the water was always cold. They had
to schedule their time around when the water would come.”
She had a refrigerator and cooked with propane tanks and portable
gas burners provided by the Peace Corps. She also received a $180 a
month stipend.
“It was very modest but it met my needs,” she said. “It’s amazing
what you can do without. You couldn’t take a vacation but it was
enough to pay for basic necessities with some money leftover.”
One of the requirements of the Peace Corps is that the volunteers
live at the same economic level of the people they are living with.
Ms. Scorsolini said she had a neighbor, a single mother with two
children, aging parents and a younger brother, who supported her
family of six on less than $80 a month.
“Living there is very different from living in the United States,”
she said. “Every meal is prepared from scratch. You have to can
vegetables in the summer because during the winter all you can eat
are carrots, cabbage and potatoes because that’s what’s in season.”
Getting the food she needed to eat was not an easy task. There was
no public transportation in Stepanavan so she was forced to walk to
the market every day.
“One time I needed milk and when I was living there in 1997 there
was no processed milk,” she said. “If you did not own a cow you
needed to know someone who did. Even then, milk was only available in
the early mornings after the cows were milked. It was late afternoon
and I needed milk for a dish I was making and I spent the afternoon
walking around the town asking if someone had any milk. They all
laughed at me.”
Officially Ms. Scorsolini was a business development volunteer,
but she said her job description was purposely vague.
“The Peace Corps sets up a broad framework for volunteers so that
the individual can make the experience their own,” she said.
One of her missions in Stepanavan was to set up a language and
computer center by working with local community groups to write grant
proposals for local improvement projects. She managed to secure
computers for the center with a Peace Corps grant.
“There was a woman there who had been trained in computers, but
she had never worked with Microsoft Word, Windows or the Internet,”
Ms. Scorsolini said. “Our grant was to enable her to take classes and
then teach what she learned to the townspeople.”
The center also provided language books and classes to the town’s
residents for a modest fee. According to Ms. Scorsolini the center is
still operating today and has expanded twice.
Ms. Scorsolini also taught an aerobics class for women, recruiting
a local carpenter to make steps out of wood. The classes were held in
the evenings in an old building.
“I made it work however I could,” she said, adding that she wanted
to provide recreational opportunities for Armenia’s large female
population that would improve their self-esteem and promote healthy
living.
“It’s a Christian nation that tends to be male dominated,” Ms.
Scorsolini said. “There aren’t any activities for young women.”
In addition to her other jobs, she taught junior achievement
classes in Western business practices at local universities. Her
classes were made up entirely of women.
“There is a disparate population of girls in Armenia,” she said.
“There are seven women to every one man.”
She said most men left the country to find work or were killed
during conflicts with neighboring countries.
A typical day entailed waking up and going for a morning jog with
her neighbor. Then they would cook breakfast, usually an omelet made
with vegetables, pancakes made from scratch or french toast.
“Eggs and bread were very plentiful in town and my neighbor had a
cow so we had lots of milk,” she said. “Dinner leftovers were also
served for breakfast sometimes, which was a common practice.”
After breakfast, Ms. Scorsolini taught her classes at the
university, coming home for lunch, and then worked in the afternoon
on grant proposals or conducted meetings. Her aerobics class met in
the evenings and then she would cook dinner, socialize with friends
and go to bed.
“It was a very simple existence,” she said. “The town didn’t have
many restaurants. There was no movie theater or other forms of
entertainment.”
After completing her two years of service with the Peace Corps,
Ms. Scorsolini headed back to New Jersey. After three months of
unsuccessful job hunting she realized she was not ready to be back
stateside and began pursuing job opportunities overseas, ending up in
Georgia on Armenia’s northern border.
“I was nostalgic for Armenia and my former life there and figured
I could visit my friends on long weekends,” she said.
After six months of working in Georgia as program director working
with internationally displaced persons, she moved back to Armenia to
work with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population,
Refugees and Migration.
For more than three and a half years she worked as a grant writer,
helping small tourism, apparel, information technology and jewelry
businesses cooperate and compete in the growing Armenian market.
However, too much of a good thing can spell disaster and for Ms.
Scorsolini being away from home for more than six years caused her to
burn out.
“I just spent too long in one country,” she said. “Our grants were
significantly downsized and I realized that I had accomplished what I
had set out to do.”
She also decided that she needed to further her education in order
to advance professionally and personally. She is hoping to attend law
school in the fall and one day work in international law, either for
a United States government agency or the United Nations.
One of the most important lessons Ms. Scorsolini learned from her
Peace Corps experience was how to be tolerant and flexible.
“I find that now I can do without luxuries,” she said. “There are
very limited resources in Armenia and it made me realize just how
wasteful we are as Americans. Coming back and trying to adjust to the
every day materialism is hard.”
She said she went into a Wal-Mart recently and was overwhelmed by
the number of choices she had.
“We really take everything for granted because we have access to
everything in this country,” she said. “We truly are a country that
does not want for anything. To see what people in other countries can
live without is astounding and really taught me a lot about
humility.”

BAKU: Azeri Opp paper – Russia and the West behind Georgian events

Azeri opposition paper says Russia and the West behind Georgian events

Azadliq, Baku
17 Mar 04 p 4

An Azerbaijani opposition daily has said that the stand-off between
Georgia and its autonomous province of Ajaria is a local row with
international repercussions. “This incident is not a conflict between
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Aslan Abashidze, but a
result of contradictions between the West and Russia,” Azadliq
said. The paper added that Russia has a military base in the province
and backs Abashidze, while the USA, wants Russia to withdraw its bases
from Georgia because it worries that instability in Georgia will
jeopardize a multi-billion-dollar oil pipeline project from Baku to
Ceyhan via Tbilisi. It also accused government-controlled media of
covering the Georgian-Ajaria row “one-sidedly” in favour of the
province and not covering Georgia’s stance “sufficiently”. “If
Azerbaijan shows support for the Abashidze regime, which is being
ruled from Moscow, through official media and TV channels, that would
mean Azerbaijan’s position is similar to that of Russia and Armenia,
but not that of the West,” it said. The following is the text of
Bahaddin Haziyev’s report by the Azerbaijani newspaper Azadliq on 17
March headlined “Support for Ajaria’s Gukasyan?”, subheaded “The
Georgian events and Azerbaijan: questions and attempts to answer”;
subheadings are as published:

First question

Is our society informed well enough and impartially about the Georgian
events?

All government-controlled media outlets, including TV channels, are
covering these events one-sidedly. They are mainly casting light on
the position of Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze and his supporters,
while the Georgian government’s position is not being sufficiently
covered. In addition, Tbilisi is being criticized continuously and
severely. That is why Azerbaijani society is by and large unaware of
the real situation.

Second question

Azerbaijan had always and unequivocally supported the Georgian
government’s position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But why is Baku
taking a different position now?

First, let us look at the legal aspect of the issue. Azerbaijan sticks
to i nternational legal principles such as territorial integrity and
sovereignty of countries (and fairly supports Georgia’s territorial
integrity and sovereignty).

Second, there is the political side to the issue as well. [Former
President Eduard] Shevardnadze headed Georgia and therefore, the
ruling family in Baku supported its Georgian friend, brother and
partner. Shevardnadze left, but his smaller prototype Abashidze is
still here. The Azerbaijani government has not issued an official
statement in support of Abashidze. But it has not also recognized
openly Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Azerbaijan
should have unambiguously supported Georgia’s territorial integrity
and sovereignty irrespective of who the Georgian president is and
should have expressed an appropriate attitude to separatism.

Third question

Is this position on Georgia in the interests of Azerbaijan?

It is not. In this case, the principles of international law and the
Azerbaijani government’s political interests do not coincide. In many
cases, the interests of the Azerbaijani state and government
fundamentally differ. The Azerbaijani government adheres only to its
own interests when these differences appear. There is a threat now
that the Azerbaijani government might choose its interests over the
interests of the state.

Fourth question

What are the political interests of the Azerbaijani government on this
issue? What is the link between the Aliyev’s and Abashidze.

First, there is an internal factor. The democrats won in Georgia. The
former communist nomenclature in Azerbaijan retained its power by
pushing [Azerbaijani President] Ilham Aliyev forward. The system which
Abashidze established in Ajaria is a smaller replica of the Aliyev
regime in Azerbaijan. Ajaria’s involvement in the process of
democratization turns Georgia into an example to Azerbaijan in its
domestic policies.

Second, there is a geopolitical factor. This incident is not a
conflict between [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili and
Abashidze, but a result of contradictions between the West and
Russia. The West, especially the USA, wants Russia to withdraw its
bases from Georgia. One such base is in Ajaria and another in
Javakheti which is closely populated by Armenians. For this reason,
Russia puts the Javakhk Armenians against the Georgian central
government to make Tbilisi give up its demands that the Russian troops
be withdrawn. If Azerbaijan shows support for the Abashidze regime,
which is being ruled from Moscow, through official media and TV
channels, that would mean Azerbaijan’s position is similar to that of
Russia and Armenia, but not that of the West.

Third, the Azerbaijani ruling family and Abashidze have joint business
interests in the port of Batumi and of course, officials in Baku are
not interested in the defeat of their business partners.

Fifth question

The fact that the Ajarians are Muslims is being publicized
unofficially. What will happen if this turns into Baku’s main
argument?

That would mean double standards: One approach to Russia’s Muslim
Chechens and another approach to Georgia’s Muslim Ajarians. But this
kind of approach would make it difficult for Azerbaijan, which is
suffering from Armenian separatism in Nagornyy Karabakh, to ensure
that its fair position is supported by the international community.

BAKU: Parties keen to develop links

AzerTag, Azerbaijan
March 18 2004

PARTIES KEEN TO DEVELOP LINKS
[March 17, 2004, 21:24:19]

Mr. Andris Viltsanis, the newly appointed Ambassador of Latvia to
Azerbaijan, met with members of the Milli Majlis Azerbaijan-Latvia
interparliamentary friendship group March 16. The groups’ head,
deputy Chair of the Milli Majlis Standing Commission on International
and Interparliamentary Relations Mrs. Gultakin Hajiyeva congratulated
the Ambassador on the new appointment, provided him with detailed
information on the activity of the Azerbaijan Parliament, and legal
reforms carried out in the country. ‘Azerbaijan is most developed
country in the Southern Caucasus and is interstes in expanding links
with Latvia,’ she said.

Mrs. Gultakin Hajiyeva also touched upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan
conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh pointing out the fair position of
Azerbaijan in this issue, and expressed gratitude to the Latvian
Republic’s officials for supporting Azerbaijan in peace process.

The Latvian Ambassador thanked for the warm meeting and detailed
information, and noted that his country is also very interested in
development of bilateral relationship. `The main goal of the meeting
is to negotiate the matter,’ said Mr. Viltsanis.

Afterwards, the meeting participants exchanged views on the issues of
mutual interest.

BAKU: US in race for influence in South Caucasus

AzerNews, Azerbaijan
March 18 2004

US in race for influence in South Caucasus

Last week the United States sent three onsecutive ‘delegations of
landing troops’ to the capital. Emissaries of the Department of State
and military made up the majority of the members of the delegations.
The delegation of the U.S. college of Air Forces, which arrived in
Baku early last week,

was led by a top officer and also included Lynn Paskoe, Assistance
Secretary of State. However, leading the third U.S. delegation to
Baku was General Charles Wald, Deputy Commander of the U.S. European
Command. Admiral Gregory Johnson, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in
Europe and Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe,
was also among the delegates.

On March 11, a U.S. delegation led by Bruce Rogers, U.S. Deputy
Political Advisor of NATO’s mission, and Erik Schultz, the U.S. State
Department’s Deputy Director on security and political issues in
Europe, held important meetings in Baku. The aim of the three
delegations’ visits was to discuss political and military issues but
not economic ones, as the issues on economic relations including on
the financing of the BTC pipeline have already been settled. Today,
the United States is eager to solve some questions in Azerbaijan.
First, it is trying to direct the leadership of Azerbaijan towards
conducting economic and political reforms in the country. According
to a diplomatic source, the economic and political reforms were one
of the primary issues discussed at President Ilham Aliyev’s meeting
with Lynn Paskoe. During the unofficial meeting one of the U.S.
delegates even stated that Azerbaijan has to take real steps in this
respect, noting that the United States will wait only three more
months. The delegate stressed that if during this period no serious
steps were taken in the direction of reforms, the United States would
find it hard to believe that the leadership of Azerbaijan would
manage to integrate the country into the Euro-Atlantic structures.
The second problem that the United States wants to settle is not to
give the initiative in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus to the
European Union (EU) and Russia. The United States wants to see the
South Caucasus countries as ones pursuing the U.S. government’s
policy in the EU. Pointing to the EU’s increasing interest towards
Azerbaijan, Lynn Paskoe directly stated that the United States was
not willing to ‘lag behind’ in this rivalry. He also voiced his
desire to exchange views with President Ilham Aliyev on ‘great
changes’ in the region. However, Azerbaijan and Georgia should be
admitted to NATO soon so that the United States could achieve its
goals. For this purpose, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces should be
brought to NATO standards. Above all, it is necessary to settle the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh. Reno Harnish, the
U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, who also took part in the meeting of
Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev with Erik Schultz and Bruce
Rogers, stated that the United States and NATO are eager to cooperate
with the South Caucasus countries including Azerbaijan and establish
stability in the region. The U.S. government is waiting for Safar
Abiyev to visit Washington to define the ways for bilateral military
cooperation. Abiyev’s standpoint is that of the Azerbaijani state and
people. While receiving the delegation of the U.S. college of Air
Forces on March 9, the defense minister said, “Today, the primary
duty of the Azerbaijani Army is to liberate our lands from Armenian
occupation. It would be better if the Upper Garabagh conflict were
solved peacefully within Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and
international legal norms. If no peace is achieved, we will free our
lands by any means necessary.” A U.S. delegation led by General
Charles Wald, who visited Baku on March 12-13, concluded the ‘U.S.
week in Baku’.

The meetings
On Saturday President Ilham Aliyev received a U.S. delegation led by
General Charles “Chuck” Wald, Deputy Commander of the U.S. European
Command. A two-day visit by the Senior Advisory Group (SAG) of the
U.S. European Command started on Friday.

NATO to expand strategic cooperation
The U.S. delegation of senior government and military officials
included Admiral Gregory G. Johns, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in
Europe and Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Southern Europe,
Ambassador Kenneth L. Brown, Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas,
Ambassador Lloyd Hand and Ambassador Robert Hunter. Noting that the
Azerbaijani-U.S. relations are developing successfully in all
spheres, President Aliyev said that bilateral cooperation was of
great importance to strengthen peace and security in the region.
Underlining that Azerbaijan plays a very important role in ensuring
security in the region, Aliyev underlined that he backed the peaceful
solution to conflicts within the international legal norms. Aliyev
stressed that Azerbaijan was an ally of the United States anti-terror
combat and this alliance would continue in the future. The
Azerbaijani President further voiced his confidence that his country
would continue to cooperate with the United States to ensure the
security of pipelines as part of the Caspian Energy Resources
Development program. Touching upon the fight against global
terrorism, General Wald stressed that the recent terror attack
committed in Spain once again showed the necessity for broad
cooperation in this field. Underlining that the Caspian border guard
program is continuing successfully, General Wald expressed the
necessity for close cooperation among the Caspian states in this
respect. He particularly stressed that Azerbaijan’s current foreign
policy suggested that there would be positive changes in the
settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Upper Garabagh.
At the meeting with Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev on Saturday,
General Wald stressed that NATO intended to expand strategic
cooperation with Azerbaijan and assist in guarding this country’s
energy resources. He also expressed his gratitude to the leadership
of Azerbaijan for the country’s active role in fighting international
terrorism. Admiral Johnson said, “Azerbaijan has rich natural
resources in the Caspian Sea. The cooperation between the U.S. navy
and the Azerbaijani navy may ensure the security of these resources.
Joint activities in programs on non-proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction are also included in the sphere of this cooperation.”
Touching upon the Cooperative Best Effort-2004 desert training held
in Azerbaijan, Admiral Johnson stressed that “the high-level
organization of the training would reaffirm that Azerbaijan was a
leading country in the region.”
Briefing
The U.S. delegation held a briefing at the International Press Center
on Saturday. General Charles Wald said that the aim of the visit was
to develop “strategic and military cooperation with Azerbaijan and to
discuss future cooperation in this sphere with President Ilham
Aliyev.” Underlining that the United States doesn’t intend to station
its military bases in the region, General Wald said military
relations would also be established with Russia. Noting that his
meeting with President Ilham Aliyev made a deep impression on him,
the General said, “Ilham Aliyev is a prominent person in this
region.” Admiral Johnson said that together with Azerbaijani Defense
Minister Safar Abiyev he observed the Azerbaijani Navy and Border
Service. Johnson underlined that during his meeting with Abiyev,
fighting international terrorism, joint activity in the
non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and on maintenance
of stability in the region were in focus. Further, Admiral Johnson
thanked the Azerbaijani government for assuming the organization of
NATO training to be arranged in Baku this April with participation of
seventeen countries as part of the NATO’s Partnership for Peace
Program.

Glendale: Police release sketch of killer

Los Angeles Daily News
March 18 2004

Police release sketch of killer
Suspect is sought in freeway shooting

By City News Service

Los Angeles police released a composite drawing Wednesday of a
suspect in a fatal freeway shooting.

The shooting occurred in the early hours of March 9 when Garen
Ketikyan, 20, was driving a black 1999 Mercury Marquis north on the
Hollywood (170) Freeway in North Hollywood, Los Angeles police
Officer Jason Lee said.

Ketikyan died at the scene.

The suspect car was driven next to Ketikyan’s car near the Sherman
Way exit, and a passenger leaned out the window and fired several
gunshots, fatally wounding the victim, Lee said.

The suspect car was a newer white Ford Mustang with low-profile
tires, chrome rims and xenon headlights that gave off a blue tint,
Lee said. After the shooting, it was driven north, and merged onto
the northbound Golden State Freeway.

The shooting suspect was described as an Armenian man in his early
20s with a muscular build, Lee said.

At the time, police said the shooting may have been the result of
road rage.

Police officers who were nearby heard 10 to 15 shots ring out, and
investigators later recovered several shell casings on the freeway,
Detective Mike Coffey said.

Ketikyan, who was driving home after visiting a friend in Glendale,
was shot once in the head, Coffey said.

A 20-year-old passenger in the Mercury said they had gotten into a
brief confrontation 10 minutes earlier at a stoplight at Oxnard
Street and Victory Boulevard with two men on motorcycles, Coffey
said.

The victim honked at the motorcyclists when they failed to move when
the stoplight turned green, the detective said.

“This caused the two Armenian males on motorcycles to get off their
motorcycles, take their helmets off and walk back aggressively
towards Garen and (the passenger) in the car,” Coffey said. “Nothing
transpired. No words were spoken, but they just felt intimidated.”

Afterward, on the freeway, a newer white Mustang with chrome wheels
and dealer plates pulled up alongside the Mercury and someone inside
opened fire, he said.

The passenger told police he believes the motorcyclists could have
gotten into the Mustang and chased after them, and investigators are
trying to determine if that happened, Coffey said.

The victim’s brother, Harut Ketikyan, said that his brother was hard-
working, stayed out of trouble and did everything he could for his
family.

Their mother was crushed by the news, as was he, Ketikyan said.

“She’s not doing well,” he said, his voice breaking. “When I left the
house, she was holding his baby picture and crying, so she’s not
taking his death too well.”

He said his brother “worked hard day and night to be helpful to his
family. He was going to school, trying to get his degree to go
forward, get a nice job.”

Anyone with further information on the case was asked to call police
homicide detectives at (818) 623-4075.