Armenia govt has enough legal means to curb extremism

ITAR-TASS News Agency
April 8, 2004 Thursday

Armenia govt has enough legal means to curb extremism

By Tigran Liloyan


The Armenian government has enough legal means to curb political
extremism in Armenia, President Robert Kocharyan said in an interview
to Armenian public television on Thursday.

“The opposition must be careful or else its actions can boomerang on
it,” the president warned. He believes people will not tolerate
provocations. Wisdom will help them make the right appraisal of the

Kocharyan understands “the indignation of those who elected him when
they constantly hear members of the opposition say that the backbone
of power must be broken, that blood must be spilt”.

He called on his supporters “to show restraint and ignore
provocations of the opposition”. “People have elected me, so I should
fulfil their expectations, not the vice versa”. “People have
authorised me to use levers of power to ensure law and order in the
country,” the president said. He believes opposing one part of the
people to the other would be “the worst scenario”.

The president “gets the impression” he “became the target for the
competing leaders of the opposition”. He said the situation would
ease as soon as the opposition, the “aggressive political minority”,
names its leader.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

CIS official arrival in Armenia not linked with opposition moves

ITAR-TASS News Agency
April 8, 2004 Thursday

CIS official arrival in Armenia not linked with opposition moves

By Tigran Liloyan


Nikolai Bordyuzha, the secretary-general of the Collective Security
Treaty Organisation, denied assertions that his arrival in Armenia is
linked with the fact that the local opposition stepped up its

Bordyuzha said in an exclusive interview to Tass upon his arrival
that the Collective Security Treaty Organisations is not going to
interfere in the events in Yerevan. “This will be decided by
political instruments, not by clashes,” Bordyuzha believes.

The opposition that became more active in the recent days urges the
Armenian authorities to fulfil the decision of the country’s
Constitutional Court, made last year, about a referendum on the vote
of confidence for the president. The opposition convenes a “national
rally” on Friday, wishing to compel the president to resign.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Armenia is no Georgia, president tells opposition

ITAR-TASS News Agency
April 8, 2004 Thursday

Armenia is no Georgia, president tells opposition


Armenian President Robert Kocharyan told the opposition it would not
succeed in importing the revolution scenario from neighboring Georgia
and he would remain in office.

The opposition plans to stage a rally Friday in Yerevan and demand
the president to step down.

“The situation in Armenia was influenced by the developments in
Georgia. The change of authority there incited hope in the Armenian
opposition. However they did not take into account that the countries
are different and the strength of authorities is different as well”,
Kocharyan said.

The opposition Justice bloc and the National Unity party said in a
statement their aim was to make the president resign. Opposition
leaders Stepan Demirchyan and Artashes Gegamyan urged to fulfill last
year recommendation of the Constitutional court to hold a referendum
on trust to authorities.

Demirchyan said the opposition will do its best so that the “process
is under control and peaceful”. He warned the authorities will be
responsible for any use of force.

Kocharyan responded by saying “Armenia has enough resources to curb
political extremism by lawful means”. He ordered police to be
“extremely reserved, to interfere only in extreme cases so that there
are no reasons to accuse authorities of brutality”, the president

“The opposition should be cautious in its actions as they may
boomerang back”, he warned and called on his supporters to be
reserved and avoid provocations. Kocharyan said the reported beating
of some opposition leaders “can only be denounced”.

The Mayor’s office of Yerevan has not allowed to hold the opposition
rally and security in the capital has been enhanced.

“They will either have to resort to unlawfulness, and they know what
the response will be, or retreat, which will mean they will lose
face”, Kocharyan said branding the opposition as “aggressive
political minority”.

Belgium: Citing North America as site of worst genocide not anti-US

Associated Press Worldstream
April 8, 2004 Thursday

Belgium: citing North America as site of worst genocide is not
anti-U.S. gesture


A display praising the merits of peacekeeping that cited the
decimation of native North Americans as the world’s worst genocide
was based on a historical study and shouldn’t be considered a jab at
the United States, Belgian defense officials said Thursday.

Defense Ministry spokesman Gerard Vareng denied criticism that the
display carried an anti-American message.

The display, shown at the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels
this week, was meant to honor Belgian soldiers who died in
humanitarian missions.

It included a panel listing “North America” as the continent of the
world’s worst genocide with a death toll of 15 million, starting with
Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the New World but giving no end

The daily De Standaard called the display – that was also covered
extensively in a defense ministry publication – insulting to

It said Defense Minister Andre Flahaut, who has tangled with U.S.
officials in recent months, effectively blamed the United States for
killing 15 million people “in a genocide that continues to this day.”

The newspaper complained about a “curious” list of genocides that
mentioned Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia and other countries
but ignored killings in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin and
Europe’s colonial past in Africa, including Belgium’s role in the

Vareng said “the peacekeeping display was the work of historical
experts. They took the list of genocides and the numbers of people
who died in them on the Encyclopedia of Genocide” by Israel W.
Charny, head of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in

He said the two-volume encyclopedia, published in 1999, is a “very
serious book that deals with all kinds of genocides.”

The ceremony this week at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier
coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in which
up to 1 million people died.

Burbank Parade Set for April 24, but Future Events May Be Shifted

City News Service
April 7, 2004 Wednesday

Burbank Parade Set for April 24, but Future Events May Be Shifted


The annual Burbank on Parade celebration will take place April 24 as
scheduled, but organizers agreed to shift future events to avoid a
day that marks a dark period in Armenian history. In mid-February,
members of the Burbank on Parade organizing committee scheduled the
parade for a Saturday that falls this year on Armenian Genocide
Remembrance Day. For the Armenian community, April 24 is a solemn day
commemorating the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman
Turkish Empire from 1915-23. Many of Burbank’s estimated 10,000
Armenian-Americans will not join the 23rd annual parade because they
will spend the day at homes, churches or rallies. But the event, a
celebration of the local community traditionally held the last
Saturday in April, cannot be rescheduled this year because of the
challenge of coordinating youth bands, drill teams, equestrian
entries and representatives from local organizations, event
coordinators said. In an attempt to avoid future conflicts, Burbank
Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos organized an informal meeting last week
between representatives of the city’s Armenian community and parade
organizers. “I believe the goal of this meeting was to allow everyone
to have a better understanding of the importance of April 24 to the
Armenian community,” Ramos said. “I felt it was important that people
meet face to face in order to facilitate a dialogue, and to foster
and strengthen community. “I believe we accomplished that goal
Thursday night. We plan to build on this first meeting and meet again
some time in May,” she said. Those attending the meeting agreed
future parade dates would be selected so they do not conflict with
Armenian Genocide commemorations. Joanne Miller chairs this year’s
parade effort. “The parade has been the same weekend for the 23 years
of its existence,” she said. “It’s extremely unfortunate that the two
events coincide this year. We have committed to an alternate and
permanent solution in the future to work better for everyone in our
community,” she said.

Journalists Attacked in Armenia at Opposition Rally

Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc.
State Department
April 7, 2004

Journalists Attacked in Armenia at Opposition Rally; Committee to
Protect Journalists release based in part on RFE/RL report

Journalists covering an opposition rally April 5 in Yerevan, Armenia,
were attacked by two dozen men in civilian clothes while hundreds of
police stood by, says the New York-based media freedom advocacy
organization Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ based its account of events in part on a report by Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Following is a press release by the Committee to Protect Journalists:

(begin text)

Committee to Protect Journalists

New York, New York

April 6, 2004


New York, April 6, 2004 – Journalists covering yesterday’s opposition
rally in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, were attacked by two dozen men
in civilian clothes. The men smashed journalists’ cameras, assaulted
several reporters, and destroyed filmed footage of the events, the
U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

The men attempted to disrupt the rally by throwing eggs at Artashes
Geghamian, the opposition party National Unity leader, who addressed
a crowd of about 5,000 people from atop a van.

Several hundred policemen present at the rally stood by passively as
the assailants smashed the videocameras of three Armenian television
stations — Kentron, Hay TV and Public Television — and the still
cameras of two opposition dailies — Aravot and Haykakan Jhamanak.
According to RFE/RL, the assailants forced reporters with the private
television station Shant to surrender their videotape of the rally.
Several reporters and cameramen were physically injured in the clash,
the Association of Investigative Journalists in Armenia (Hetq)

According to RFE/RL, Onnik Krikorian, a British freelance
photojournalist, who was hit in the face by one of the assailants,
approached the police for protection, but an officer advised him to
complain to the British Embassy.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State.)

Walk another five years

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
April 8 2004


For ten years already S. Martirossian has been travelling in the world
on foot carrying the flag of Artsakh with him. Starting his pilgrimage
at his own initiative on August 16, 1993, Sergey Martirossian set an
aim to contribute to the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh problem
through his pilgrimage. `I have been to 67 countries, including
Scandinavia and the countries of South America, the Middle East,’ says
the Artsakh-born traveler. `I have told everywhere who are Armenians,
where is Karabakh, what the people of Karabakh want. In Strasbourg,
New York and a number of other big cities I organized press
conferences and, answering the questions of journalists, tried to
introduce to them the past of the Armenian nation starting with the
period between 1918-1920. In my opinion, many people understand
us. Let it not seem immodesty, the way I chose is not easy. In
particular, I mean my personal security. Can you imagine, I also
visited Muslim countries, but twice my life was endangered in Poland,
a country considered civilized?’ On December 15, 1993 Sergey
Martirossan entered the UN office in New York although he knew the
entrance there with flags was forbidden (it is considered a
protest). But the consistency of the Karabakh man won. He was
provided with a special reference by the UN allowing to pass all the
borders of the world without obstacles. According to S. Martirossian,
in the world only 4-5 people received such references, all of them
travelers. When passing through Moscow in 2001, in the competition
`Healthy People’ our compatriot won the title`The Healthiest Man of
the Planet’. In ten years our compatriot met with many delegations,
diplomats. He thinks that our propaganda for the settlement of the
Karabakh problem is weak. `In some countries I noticed that certain
our diplomats do not even recognize the Karabakh flag. I am not afraid
of saying this. I said this by the television of Armenia. As different
from the Turks, we are not professionals in propaganda,’ says the
pilgrim. This year was the 70th birthday of the traveler. On this
occasion the government of NKR conferred on him the medal
`Gratefulness’. `I had decided to travel tillthe age 70 but I have to
walk for another five years. First because the medal obliges, and
second, as long as Karabakh is not recognized de jure I cannot
consider my pilgrimage completed.’ This year the traveler will walk to
Athens where the Olympic games will take place in August. `In Athens
if 10-20 journalists shoot me and write about me with my flag, it is
not little, I think. I want the flag of Artsakh to have a place beside
the flags of other countries during the Olympic games. We must
struggle for justice and final victory by all means. In this reference
the international chess tournament organized recently in Artsakh is
also our big achievement,’ says Sergey Martirossian. The traveler has
problems with sponsorship. So far his sponsors were from Armenia,
mainly businessmen. From Artsakh Edward Verdiyan, Samvel Hakobian
sposored him. This time too he is expecting the assistance of
benefactors. Walking 35-40 km every day S. Martirossian has already
passed 45 thousand km. The travel to Baku was also planned, but it is
postponed because his security is not guaranteed in Azerbaijan. Let us
wish our compatriot good health and success in his difficult mission.


Fatherland and army start at the border

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
April 8 2004


Meeting the proposal of the RA TV companies, the NKR Ministry of
Defence invited a group of journalists to the NKR Defence Army to get
acquainted with the life of the servicemen. On April 2, headed by the
press secretary of the minister, colonel S. Shahsuvarian, 27
journalists representing 10 TV companies of Armenia visited different
military units of the NKR Defence Army, and border installations. The
journalists visited the educational strategic center `Asparez├ó’,
watched the training. The journalists had an interview with the NKR
minister of defence Seyran Ohanian. The NKR minister of defence
mentioned that the situation at the border is quiet. As to the present
condition of the army, he mentioned that day by day the level of the
military training, supply of arms and equipment, the engineering
structures are improved. The minister mentioned that the NKR Defence
Army is successfully fulfilling the role of the defence of the border
of the motherland, the servicemen control the situation and the
situation in Yerevan can in no way influence the service.


Rumours exaggerated

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)
April 8 2004


The messages of the recent days remind those made before a war.
Threats and answers are made once from the Armenian party, and once
from the Azerbaijani. In Karabakh, however, there is no sign of war.
People think if there is, in fact, such threat why nobody reacts to
it. It means the tensions are provoked deliberately hoping that
something will explode somewhere. In this case for whom are these
tensions favourable? On March 29 negotiations were to take place
between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Prague with
the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen. The
negotiations were cancelled because the Azerbaijani party refused to
take part in them. The Armenian newspaper `Haykakan Zhamanak├ó’
writes that Baku generally refuses to negotiate with
Armenia. According to the newspaper, the maintenance of the deadlock
situation in the negotiation process is, as usual, favourable for
Russia. In his interview to the newspaper `Azg’ NKR minister of
foreign affairs Ashot Ghulian said, `The very first months of office
of Ilham Aliev showed that the prospect of the process of negotiations
is blurred. Perhaps for them the Karabakh problem has stopped being a
priority, and only vague militarist expressions are made, such as
starting negotiations from the beginning, complaining of the
activities of the international organizations and in particular the
Minsk Group,’ emphasized A. Ghulian. Although, maybe, the talks in
Prague failed because Ilham Aliev was going to relieve minister of
foreign affairs Vilayat Guliev from his post. The corresponding
decision was signed on April 2, 2004 and Elmar Maherram Oghli
Mamediarov was appointed minister of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan. It
is obvious that the process of negotiations is rolling
backward. Apparently this was the reason for active militarist
propaganda. Moreover, now in Baku, on the one hand, they say that
Azerbaijan cannot get reconciled with the loss of the territories, and
on the other hand, the resumption of the military actions is
favourable for the government of Armenia which prefers this to a civil
war. `As long as the Azerbaijani territories are occupied, the war
with Armenia may start at any moment,’ told the Azerbaijani minister
of home affairs Safar Abiev to the Azerbaijani agency `Trend’. `You
know what the situation in Armenia is, as long as the Armenian armed
forces are in our territory, the danger of resumption of war exists,’
stressed S. Abiev. Member of parliament of the Azerbaijani Mili Mejlis
Anar Mamedkhanov announced that the parliaments of Armenia and the
Republic of Nagorni Karabakh are going to legalize the occupation of
the Azerbaijani territories within one or two months. And the
Baku-based newspaper `Zerkalo’ foresees that in the upcoming days
additional points may be introduced in the military doctrine of
Armenia concerning the security of Nagorni Karabakh. `According to one
of the points of the doctrine, in case of military threat or
announcement of martial law the armed forces deployed in Nagorni
Karabakh pass under the military commandment of Armenia.’ Russia is
also worried by the danger of resumption of the military actions in
the conflict area of Karabakh. The Russian news agency `Regnum’
headlined the materials concerning Nagorni Karabakh last week `Will
the USA manage to prevent war in Karabakh?’. As to the USA, it will do
anything for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict. This statement
was made by the deputy secretary state of the US Richard
Armitage. According to the newspaper `Turkish Daily News’, Armitage
cited the example of the recent events in Kosovo, adding at the same
time that such collisions are possible in Nagorni Karabakh too, writes
the newspaper `Azg’ and mentions that in the recent months the
skirmishes at the border between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces
have become frequent. The head of the director of plan and defence of
the US European command, major general Jeffrey Kohler announced that
the appeals of Washington for peaceful settlement refer to both
Azerbaijan and Armenia. According to him, before the years 2001-2002
the US government imposed sanctions against the Armenian and
Azerbaijani parties, which may be imposed again in case of new
confrontations at the border. At the same time he announced that the
USA does not intend deploying new military installations in
Azerbaijan. The opening of the Armenia-Turkey border also has a
special role in the relationships of Armenia with Azerbaijan. This
topic was touched upon the during the meeting of Richard Armitage with
Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliev; the latter was against, as,
according to him, opening the border with Turkey will render the
conflict impossible to settle, because Azerbaijan will lose an
important lever for putting pressure in Armenia. In his turn foreign
minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanian appealed to the government of
Ankara to make corresponding conclusions from Aliev’s statements who
considers Turkey as a lever in its hand against Armenia. On April 6 a
group of journalists representing the leading mass media of Azerbaijan
moves to the Armenian-Turkish border for the action `Turks Supporting
Turks’. The main slogan of the action is `No to Opening Border with
Armenia’. The action will start in the towns Igdir and Kars in the
northeast of Turkey and will end in Ankara. The participants of the
action will address a message to the government of the brotherly
country appealing to oppose the tension on the part of a number of
countries in this matter. The Azerbaijani journalists and the local
inhabitants will create a symbolic wall between the territories of
Armenia and Turkey. What is this if not a provocation of

From: Baghdasarian

Christians in Israel decry residency permit delays

Baltimore Sun
April 8 2004

Christians in Israel decry residency permit delays

Officials deny that backlog is an attack on freedoms
By Peter Hermann

JERUSALEM – The nuns wanted to buy sheets for their orphanage, so
they headed to a shopping mall. They were 78 and 56 years old,
dressed in the blue and white habits of the Rosary Sisters.
They were venturing into the city with expired Israeli residency
permits, a problem not of their making.

Checking their papers, a security guard at the mall’s entrance
refused to let the sisters in, and an Israeli border police officer
armed with an M-16 lined them up against a wall and searched them.
They were released two hours later.

Church leaders say the incident this week at the Malha Mall was due
not to carelessness on the part of the nuns but to pervasive delays
by the Israeli government in granting or renewing residency permits
to Christian clergy – delays that officials of the Roman Catholic
Church say verge on infringing on religious freedom.

Dozens of Roman Catholic priests, nuns and monks living in Israel are
now subject to arrest as they await new residency permits, church
officials say. Members of other Christian sects, including Greek and
Armenian Orthodox, are facing similar problems.

“They took the elderly sister and put her against a wall and searched
her in a very unacceptable way,” said Sister Agatha Baharm, the
younger of the two nuns who were detained. “I told the police officer
that the sister is old and didn’t feel well. She has had two heart
operations, and she started to tremble.”

“They say it’s a matter of security and we should wait,” said the
chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Shawki Baterian.
“But if this situation continues, I think Israel could rightly be
accused of preventing us from trying to practice our faith.”

Church officials in Jerusalem and at the Vatican have exchanged
letters with Israeli authorities, and both sides said they expect the
backlog of pending visa applications to be swiftly resolved.

“It is not by any means a political issue,” said Jonathan Peled, a
spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It is simply
bureaucratic, technical issues that have to be dealt with.” He called
the detention of the nuns “silly and unnecessary.”

Officials at the Interior Ministry, which oversees immigration and
visa issues, said officers have been ordered to take care when
dealing with religious figures. “It is our policy to help everybody
who comes from the church,” said spokeswoman Tova Ellinson. “We are
trying to solve this thing. It won’t take long. Nobody is going to be
arrested from the church.”

Church officials could not provide numbers of those affected by the
backlog. The Latin Patriarchate said about 50 members of the clergy
have expired visas, out of an estimated 500 nuns, 300 monks and 100
Roman Catholic priests in Israel and the West Bank. The Rev.
Athanasius Marcora, a Franciscan, put the number higher, saying 40
members of his order lack the required paperwork to legally reside in
Israel. The Rosary Sisters said 23 of its members now lack the proper

Their status is a sensitive issue in a country where the landscape is
venerated by three religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Israeli officials acknowledge that there is a problem to be resolved,
but they blame it on the innocent workings of a notoriously
cumbersome bureaucracy.

Church leaders say priests and nuns from Arab countries are having
the toughest problems. Marcora, of St. Savior’s Monastery in
Jerusalem’s Old City, said there is a danger of having too few
priests who speak Arabic.

Marcora is from Austin, Texas, and has lived in Israel for 11 years.
He said he renewed his residency visa without problem two years ago.
But he said many Arab priests at his parish are unable to return
after leaving for trips abroad. One Syrian priest, he said, did not
return to Damascus when his father died, fearing that he would not be
allowed back.

“The mission of the church is in jeopardy without the presence of
Arab Catholics,” Marcora said. “The fact is that these people are
prevented from coming here, or they can’t stay here once they

The Rosary Sisters nuns are both of Arab descent. Sister Agatha is an
Israeli-Arab who was born in Nazareth. The elder nun, Sister Hani
Akiki, is from Lebanon but has lived in Israel for 45 years. Her visa
renewal has been delayed for three years, Sister Agatha said, with no
reason given. Both sisters have documents from the Interior Ministry
explaining that their visas are pending.

Two weeks ago, police officers detained a Franciscan monk from St.
Peter’s Church in Jaffa after he pulled out his expired visa. Israeli
foreign ministry officials intervened and prevented his deportation.
The monk, through a church official, declined to comment.

The issue has reached the desks of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In an interview with the Israeli
newspaper Maariv, the head of the foreign minister’s religious
affairs department, Gadi Golan, said, “We’ve already been compared to
Iran in this matter. People complain that we are violating
international conventions and do not allow freedom of worship.”
Golan, reached yesterday, declined to comment further.

Israeli officials deny that clergy are being singled out but say they
may have become caught up in tight security measures. Members of the
clergy, officials say, are not the only people who have been briefly

A month ago, police mistook a Chinese diplomat for an immigrant
worker and detained him outside his embassy in Tel Aviv. The diplomat
had left his identification in his office but was taken to a police
station instead of being allowed to prove his identity. He was later
released with an apology.

This week, a Nokia executive visiting from Finland was strip-searched
upon entry at the airport. He was allowed to enter Israel, but he
instead took the next flight home.

Church leaders are reluctant to charge that politics is a factor in
the visa slowdown, but Catholic priests have repeatedly criticized
Israeli policies toward Palestinians. The Latin Patriarch, Michel
Sabbah, is a Palestinian, and he recently lashed out at Israel’s
separation barrier and the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the
spiritual leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

In his annual Easter message, Sabbah said he hoped that Israel and
the Palestinians would soon have new leaders. He said it was time for
both sides “to come back to reason and reconsider what they have done
in order to avoid for themselves and for their people the sin of more