Kerry’s statement not politically motivated, Oskanian believes

April 24 2004


YEREVAN, APRIL 24, ARMENPRESS: Armenian foreign affairs minister
Vartan Oskanian commended today a US Democratic presidential hopeful,
John Kerry, who called for international recognition of the Armenian
Genocide Thursday in a statement issued to Armenian Americans marking
the 89th anniversary of that crime against humanity.
“I join Armenian Americans and Armenians worldwide in mourning the
victims of the Armenian Genocide and I call on governments and people
everywhere to formally recognize this tragedy. Only by learning from
this dark period of history and working to prevent future genocides
can we truly honor the memories of those Armenians who suffered so
unjustly,” Kerry said in the statement, outlining his longstanding
support for a broad range of Armenian American concerns.
Speaking to reporters at THE Genocide Memorial today, Oskanian
praised the US-Armenian organizations for their efficient work
towards international recognition of the genocide, downplaying also
allegations that Kerry’s statement was politically motivated to seek
the votes of American Armenians in 2004 autumn polls.
“Of course there were precedents when presidential hopefuls used
to say one thing before the election and different things after being
elected. John Kerry has been supporting the genocide motion when he
was in Senate and I do not think there are political speculations
behind his statement,” Oskanian said, adding that genocide
recognition motions are on agendas of those US states which have not
officially acknowledged it.

Armenia commemorates Genocide victims

April 24 2004


YEREVAN, APRIL 24, ARMENPRESS: Armenian president Robert
Kocharian, members of the Armenian government, representatives of
political parties, diplomatic corps and top clerics from the Armenian
Apostolic Church laid wreathes today at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial
in the capital Yerevan to commemorate 1.5 million victims of the 1915
genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.
Hundreds of thousands of Armenians from all parts of the world
walked today up the Tsitsernakaberd hill in Yerevan to the 1915
Genocide Memorial on the annual day of remembrance for Armenians
massacred in the Ottoman Empire. Ceremonies are also held in Armenian
communities throughout the world.
The Armenian genocide was officially recognized by parliaments of
several countries, the last being Canada, the European Parliament,
tens of US States and many international organizations.
An American journalists Jonathan Alper, who came to pay tribute to
the memory of innocent victims, told Armenpress that 33 US states
have officially recognized the Armenian genocide, while president
George Bush avoids to use the word” genocide” in his April 24 address
to American Armenians. “A presidential hopeful John Kerry has
promised to recognize the Armenian genocide if elected, but he will
forget about it as soon as elected, like all previous presidents,” he
Speaking to reporters after laying a wreath to Genocide Memorial
president Kocharian said: ”
You can see that our government is very active in pressing for
international recognition of the genocide. Each year is marked with a
significant progress. We shall be as persistent as now and we have
big resources to reach our goal. I believe that after all we shall
succeed in it.”

Kocharian’s address on Genocide victims’ remembrance day

April 24 2004


YEREVAN, APRIL 24, ARMENPRESS: Dear compatriots, today we remember
the victims of the Armenian Genocide. An entire nation with its
thousands-years-old civilization, culture and material heritage was
wiped out under the Ottoman Empire’s state program and with the use
of state institutions. Bowing our heads before the memory of millions
of innocent victims, we as a nation reiterate our determination to
achieve full and unequivocal international recognition and
condemnation of this crime against humanity.
Unpunished crimes can lead to new similar crimes. The
international community has to do everything it can to prevent such a
crime from ever happening again in any part of the world.
Like every year on April 24, today we reiterate our will to stand
above rancor and revengefulness. We are prepared to establish normal
relations with all the countries of the region, including Turkey.
Our efforts are aimed at lasting peace, stability and cooperation
in the region. To this end, we are prepared to assume an active and
constructive role. Today we are building a new, peaceful, secure and
prosperous fatherland. To build such a fatherland, we look to the

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

DAI ASME helps Armenian companies to seek new markets

April 23 2004


YEREVAN, APRIL 23, ARMENPRESS: Armenian companies showcased their
products at around 20 international fairs with the support of
Armenian Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), a project implemented
by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI), a USAID funded consulting
Garry Kilmer, the coordinator of this projected that was first
launched in 2000, September, told Armenpress that studies are being
made in Persian Gulf and Middle East markets, where some of
Armenia-made products can compete with locally manufactured ones.
“We are less interested in EU or US exhibitions as the great
majority of Armenian companies do not yet have appropriate
certificates to allow them to export their products to their markets,
as food safety requirements are now much more stronger there than
before, while many Armenian companies cannot yet meet these
requirements,” he said, adding that some 150 Armenian companies seek
DAI ASME advice regularly.
DAI ASME has helped a privately run food testing laboratory to get
ISO certificate of a world-known Swiss SGS company, which Kilmer says
is the sole such laboratory in the region.

Remembering regrettable history

Edmonton Sun (Alberta, Canada)
April 24, 2004 Saturday Final Edition



Armenians around the world today commemorate the beginning of what
they view as the darkest period in their long history, which is
saying something for a people who have been subject to almost
constant invasion and persecution.

On Wednesday the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly (153 to 68) in
favour of a motion that “acknowledges the Armenian genocide of 1915
and condemns this as a crime against humanity.”

The history of Armenia is a litany of tragedy and suffering,
endlessly repeated. But it is also a story of survival, against all
the odds and in the face of every possible indignity and handicap we
humans are capable of imposing upon one another.

The Armenians are the oldest Christian nation on earth, a forgotten
remnant of the ancient world from a time before Islam conquered the
Near East. You may not think you know any Armenians, but unless
you’ve never heard of Cher (full name Cherylin Sarkissian), tennis
great Andre Agassi or chess master Gary Kasparov, you are wrong.

They are all children of the great diaspora that followed the
massacre of Turkish Armenians in 1915 – the “crime against humanity”
deplored by a majority of our MPs. It began on April 24, 1915 with
the arrest of Armenian professionals and intellectuals, and ended two
years later with Turkey’s Armenian population having been reduced
from around three million to fewer than 200,000.

What happened to the missing Armenians is still a matter of hot
debate for our NATO ally, Turkey, which vehemently denies systematic
slaughter. Hundreds of thousands fled to Russian Armenia, and
thousands of others eventually made their way to Europe and North
America, but somewhere between 600,000 and two million died as a
result of forced relocation, starvation and the actions of Turkish
troops and civilians.

The actual number seems less important than the fact a brutal
slaughter took place, documented by eyewitness accounts from
survivors, and from credible reports by mostly American diplomats and
aid workers on the scene. There was no Auschwitz, no Treblinka, and
the weapons of choice seem to have been the bayonet and the knife,
but the massacre of the Armenians was in no way less systematic and
inhuman than the Holocaust. An entire population was driven from land
it had occupied since the beginning of recorded history, and those
who were not killed were left to starve or die of exposure.

There is no little irony in the fact Adolf Hitler used this genocide
as a prototype for his own final solution, apparently noting that 25
years later no one remembered what had happened to the Armenians. But
at the time he was wrong. The story of the Armenians received wide
publicity in the years between the world wars, particularly in the
U.S., Canada and Britain.

There was even a time when the Turkish authorities themselves
acknowledged what had happened. Several of those responsible were
tried for their crimes by Turkish courts and executed. But as a
valuable ally during the Cold War years, as NATO’s bulwark against
Soviet Central Asia, there was a concerted attempt to forget and
finally to deny Turkey’s past.

What’s the point of remembering a regrettable slice of the past?
Apart from simple honesty, humanity is the accumulation of its
history and it is impossible to learn from events if we deny they
happened. In Turkey’s case, denying the massacre of the Armenians
guarantees the memory will fester.

Some Turkish leaders in 1915 were openly critical of their
government, others bravely refused to implement genocidal policies,
while ordinary Turks were summarily executed for trying to help their
Armenian neighbours. The present Turkish government would do better
to remember their example than to deny history.

Armenian vote marks a turning point: MPs acknowledge the genocide

Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia)
April 24, 2004 Saturday Final Edition

Armenian vote marks a turning point: MPs acknowledge the genocide
despite the prime minister’s wishes

by: Adrian Dix

April 24, 1915, 89 years ago today, was one of the most significant
and tragic days of the 20th century. On that date, the Ottoman Empire
arrested and murdered hundreds of Armenian community leaders and
intellectuals. It was the beginning of the Armenian genocide — the
first genocide of the 20th century.

On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted 153-68 in favor of a motion
to “acknowledge the Armenian genocide and to condemn it as a crime
against humanity.” The motion passed in spite of the opposition of
Prime Minister Paul Martin and his cabinet and exposes not only the
difficulty in defending human rights against crass self-interest, but
the emptiness of the federal Liberal rhetoric about the “democracy

The scope of the horror perpetrated against Armenians by the
government of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918, atrocities
that were renewed by the post-First World War Turkish state between
1920 and 1923, is virtually impossible to comprehend. An estimated
1.5 million Armenians died between 1915 and 1923 as the result of
systematic state policies of starvation, deportation, torture and

Genocide is defined as “the organized killing of a people for the
express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence.”
Before the First World War, there were two million Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire. By 1923, the entire Armenian population of the region
had been expunged either through death or deportation.

Armenak Deragopian, an Armenian-Canadian living in Vancouver,
testifies to his family’s experience: “My father’s family was
massacred — about 16 people. My father survived because he was
working in Egypt at the time of World War One and was unable to
return to his home region. My mother managed to escape but much of
her family was massacred as well.”

In the wake of the First World War, recognition of the Armenian
genocide was pushed aside by political considerations as the
victorious powers carved up Europe and the Middle East and dealt with
the emerging Turkish state and the Soviet Union.

An avalanche of evidence demonstrates the scope of the Armenian
genocide — from eyewitness reports to comprehensive inquiries. And
many governments including Sweden, France, Switzerland, Holland and
Belgium have formally recognized the Armenian genocide and have
joined in the April 24 commemoration. Several leading NATO powers
have not — including the United States, Great Britain and Canada.
These countries have refused to recognize genocide for fear of
offending Turkey — a strategic NATO ally.

Turkey has fought hard to deny international recognition of the
Armenian genocide, using both its strategic position in the Western
Alliance and its growing economic power to block recognition efforts.
In 2000, the U.S. House of Representatives withdrew a motion on the
genocide under pressure from the Clinton administration after Turkey
threatened to deny access to its airspace for missions to Iraq.

When the French National Assembly passed a motion in 2000 to
recognize the genocide, the Turkish government cancelled a number of
important contracts for French companies.

The effort by the federal Liberal cabinet to block the Canadian
motion this week was motivated by similar concerns. Bombardier and
SNC-Lavalin are bidding on a major contract to extend the subway
system in Ankara. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce lobbied on their
behalf to oppose the passing of the Armenian motion, fearing
retaliation against Canadian economic interests.

Once the motion was passed, in the absence of the prime minister,
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham issued a statement stating that
Canada’s position “had not changed.”

He added: “Canada has had friendly and co-operative relations with
Turkey and Armenia for many years. The Canadian government is
committed to make these relationships even stronger in the future.”

If nothing else, the vote recognizing the Armenian genocide
illustrates the hollowness of the prime minister’s commitment to end
the “democracy deficit.” Reacting to the vote, Martin suggested that
“Parliament and the government could have different views. And that,
in fact, is one of the great benefits of dealing with parliamentary
reform and parliamentary democracy.”

What is the point of having more “free votes” if they are
pre-determined as meaningless in terms of government policy by the
prime minister himself? This is not parliamentary reform. Martin is
furthering the democracy deficit by debasing our democratic

After all, the government of Canada is a reflection of a majority in
Parliament, not a benign dictatorship that can accept or reject the
view of elected members of Parliament. Martin is prime minister
because a majority of members of Parliament elected by the voters are
Liberals. It is not because “he knows better.”

Canada’s MPs are to be praised for standing up against the prime
minister in recognizing the Armenian genocide. This is a victory for
the value of historical memory over self-interest. This April 24, the
memory of those who lost their lives in the genocide will not have
been forgotten.

Perhaps too, this vote can represent a turning point in the revaluing
of Canadian democratic institutions. Given the reaction of the prime
minister, however, the goal of erasing the democracy deficit seems
far away.

Adrian Dix was an adviser to the New Democratic Party government.

Transcript of the show: The National, CBC TV

SHOW: The National
April 23, 2004 Friday



In bad political times, there’s nothing like a united front, but
Liberal unity cracked this week over an unexpected issue. It was a
private member’s bill on the Armenian genocide, and it exposed some
deep divisions in Paul Martin’s government. Jennifer Ditchburn


Just weeks before a possible election call and Paul Martin is seeing
cracks in cabinet solidarity.


All those opposed…


Right on the front benches, ministers Stephen Owen and Rey Pagtakhan
are sitting when they’re supposed to stop and stand and vote against
a motion that declared there was an Armenian genocide in 1915. Owen
offered this explanation…


I was not comfortable we with the Bloc resolution. I was not going
vote for it but I was not comfortable voting against it. Thank you.


But sources told the CBC that during their weekly meeting, Paul
Martin was forced to issue a stern reminder to Owen and other cabinet
ministers of their duty to vote along government lines, pointing out
that being in cabinet is a privilege. This may not have been a free
vote for ministers, but it was for everyone else, and most Liberals
voted against their government, even though Foreign Affairs Minister
Bill Graham had warned them that approving a private member’s bill
that recognized a disputed Armenian genocide could put a chill on
relations with Turkey and possibly hurt Canadian business. Since the
vote, Graham has been trying to reassure Turkey that the vote was not
an expression of government policy.


We’re an ally of Turkey. We will be working with Turkey. My belief is
they will accept that position, enable us to get on, turn a page, say
this is the past now, let’s move forward.


There is a certain amount of disarray in the House of Commons.


This MP says the vote was more about pre-election jitters, MPs
worried about Greeks and Armenians in their ridings reacting


That security is not there right now. From what I can gather from so
many members of the Liberal caucus, they’re very uneasy. They’re
praying and hoping that they will glean enough votes out of their
constituencies so that they will able to be victorious.


These days, Liberals are divided on some big issues: riding
nomination battles, whether the prime minister is getting good
advice, and, most of all, on the right timing for an election. Not an
ideal situation for a party that’s considering going to the polls in
just a few weeks. Jennifer Ditchburn, CBC News, Ottawa.

Armenia marks sad anniversary of 1915 genocide-Kocharyan

ITAR-TASS News Agency
April 24, 2004 Saturday 5:32 AM Eastern Time

Armenia marks sad anniversary of 1915 genocide-Kocharyan

By Tigran Liloyan


Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said on Saturday that Armenia was
ready to build normal relations with all the countries of the region,
including Turkey, on the occasion of the day of memory of the victims
of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire on
April 24, 1915.

“Like in all the previous years on April 24 we are confirming our
will to raise above the feelings of rancour and revenge. Our efforts
are aimed at achieving durable peace, stability and cooperation in
the region and we are ready to play an active and constructive role
in this process,” Kocharyan said.

The Armenian leader recalled that a people with great cultural
heritage and material values which the Armenian civilization had
accumulated over thousands of years was subject to physical
extermination in the Ottoman empire under a state program and with
the use of state structures 89 years ago.

“Today when we are bowing our heads in memory of millions of innocent
victims, we publicly reaffirm our determination to seek comprehensive
and unanimous recognition and condemnation of this crime against
humanity on the part of the world community,” Kocharyan went on to

He is convinced that “unpunished crimes can cause new atrocities.”

“The task of the world community is to exert every effort to prevent
a repeat of such phenomena in future,” the Armenian president

The president and all Armenian statesmen laid a wreath at the
memorial to 1.5 million victims of the 1915 genocide on Saturday
morning. They observed a minute of silence in their memory. The
monument was erected in Yerevan’s park “Tsitsernakaberd” in 1967.

Armenian leader to visit France on Sunday

Agence France Presse
April 24, 2004 Saturday 7:10 AM Eastern Time

Armenian leader to visit France on Sunday


Armenian President Robert Kocharian heads to France on Sunday for a
visit during which he will meet with his French counterpart Jacques
Chirac, his press service said.

“The presidents of Armenia and France will discuss bilateral and
regional cooperation during their meeting,” presidential spokesman
Asmik Petrosyan told AFP.

France, along with Russia and the United States, is a co-chair of the
Minsk Group, a 13-nation grouping within the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that has been seeking to
mediate between Armenia and Azerbaijan in their dispute over the
Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan went to war in the early 1990s
when Nagorno-Karabakh, mainly populated by Armenians, seceded from
Azerbaijan at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the two
Soviet Caucasian republics became independent.

More than 30,000 people were killed and a million were left homeless
before a ceasefire was agreed in 1994, with Armenia in de facto
control over the mountainous territory inside Azerbaijan.

The two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus remain in an
undeclared state of war over the enclave.

Kocharian is due to leave Paris on Tuesday and head to Warsaw.

Not our place to pronounce

The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec)
April 24, 2004 Saturday Final Edition

Not our place to pronounce

Tragedy is a cheater word, usually deployed to evade a charge of
guilt while recognizing the deplorable character of an event or
situation. What happened to the Armenians in 1915 was a tragedy and
more. Few independent historians disagree with this. The body count
runs as high as 1.5 million.

But must the Parliament of Canada pronounce on the subject, as they
did Wednesday? Do the votes of MPs who know nothing of the history of
Asia Minor really matter?

There is a place for parliamentary resolutions on current affairs
abroad and even on historical affairs at home. It was natural for
Japanese Canadians to seek moral and monetary redress for their
incarceration during the Second World War. Louis Riel remains a
perennial object of newspaper copy parliamentary attention. He was,
after all, a Canadian.

On the subject of the Armenian genocide, however, we believe our
lawmakers have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to remain
silent. As hideous as this episode was, it was not unique in the
annals of human conflict. If Parliament speaks on this issue, why
should it remain silent on others?

It is obvious that Armenian Canadians care deeply about their past.
Turks are no less passionate. This is an excellent reason for
Parliament to keep its distance from this and all such debates.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress