BAKU: Armitage says USA not to set up military bases in Azerbaijan

Top official says USA not to set up military bases in Azerbaijan

ANS TV, Baku
27 Mar 04

[Presenter Leyla Hasanova] Before leaving Baku, US Deputy Secretary of
State Richard Armitage held a news conference at [Baku’s] Heydar
Aliyev airport.

[Correspondent] Proposals for the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh
conflict should be expected not from the top, i.e. the OSCE Minsk
Group, but from lower ranks, i.e. the conflicting sides, since the
Minsk Group is only a mediator, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard
Armitage has told a news conference in Baku. He noted that the
Karabakh conflict was a complicated problem and expressed his hope for
its speedy resolution.

The need for opening the Armenian-Turkish border was also discussed at
meetings in Baku. Incidentally, in Yerevan, Mr Armitage pointed out
the expediency of opening the Armenian-Turkish border.

At his meeting in Baku, however, President Ilham Aliyev told him that
the opening of the borders could drag out the settlement of the
conflict.

They also discussed freedom of the press at the meeting with the
president. Mr Armitage told the head of state about the need for
independent press in Azerbaijan and a public TV that is going to be
set up. The head of state agreed with him, saying that the public TV
would be independent.

At meetings with the opposition, Armitage touched on issues related to
freedom of the press and territorial integrity. Speaking about the
situation with human rights following the 15-16 October events
[post-election disturbances], Armitage said the US State Department
had expressed its view on this in a report which said that the human
rights situation in Azerbaijan was not desirable and could be
improved. We hope that this situation will improve, end of quote.

Armitage said that the USA was not going to set up a military base in
Azerbaijan and the Baku meetings had not discussed these issues. We
are not interested in bases and do not have such intentions, end of
quote.

Ali Ahmadov and Ramil Huseynov, ANS.

BAKU: US Congress working group on Azerbaijan officially registered

US Congress working group on Azerbaijan officially registered

ANS TV, Baku
27 Mar 04

A working group on Azerbaijan has been officially registered in the US
Congress. The co-chairmen of the group are Republican Congressman Curt
Weldon from Pennsylvania and Democrat Congressman Solomon Otis from
Texas, Azerbaijani Defence Minister Safar Abiyev, who is on a visit to
the USA, and co-chairman Curt Weldon have said.

According to them, the newly-established group will promote
Azerbaijan’s interests in Congress.

It must be remembered that the two congressmen led a delegation of US
congressmen who visited Azerbaijan in August 2003. Although the
composition of the working group has not been disclosed yet, 20 or 30
members of the House of Representatives and Senate are expected to
join it. To recap, among the post-Soviet countries, only working
groups on Ukraine and Armenia have been operating in the US Congress
so far, according to Azartac news agency.

BAKU: British DoD funds English lessons for Azeri officers

British Ministry of Defence funds English lessons for Azeri officers

Ekho, Baku
27 Mar 04

Ekho newspaper has learnt that at the moment nearly 20 Azerbaijani
navy officers are intensively studying English with the help of the
British Council. The latter is involved in cultural and education
activities in Azerbaijan. The British Council’s marketing manager,
Namiq Quliyev, has told Ekho that their organization has actually
organized a course for officers of the Azerbaijani armed forces.

“The course is being held not at the British Council office, but on
the territory of the National Military Academy. This is a joint
project of the British Ministry of Defence and the Azerbaijani
Ministry of Defence. The purpose is to teach officers
English. Generally speaking, this programme is being implemented in a
number of CIS countries and is called Peacekeeping English Project.
The British Ministry of Defence has been implementing this project
jointly with the defence ministries of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia,
Uzbekistan, Ukraine, etc,” Quliyev said.

According to Quliyev, the newly-independent countries, thus, get an
opportunity to be closely involved in NATO’s Partnership for Peace
Programme and other international military events. “Precisely for this
reason, the British Ministry of Defence has organized this project and
the British Council has been administering it on CIS territory.” The
British side covers all project costs.

There are several English language classes in our country. A total of
50 army and navy officers are attending the classes.

[Passage omitted: Details of project]

In turn, the head of the press service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of
Defence, Ramiz Malikov, has said that “several English courses have
been organized for our officers “. According to him, all branches of
troops cannot be engaged in the training, but officers from different
branches of troops are represented at the courses.

“These courses are obviously to ensure more effective interaction
between our officers and foreign officers during exercises. Studying
English by officers is one of the conditions of the army’s proximity
to NATO standards. Our officers study English not only in Baku, but
also in Turkey, the USA, Hungary and so on. One should first learn to
speak one language, then it will be easier to learn NATO standards,”
Malikov said.

United Communist Party Calls Other Communists for Coop, People

UNITED COMMUNIST PARTY OF ARMENIA CALLS OTHER COMMUNISTS FOR COOPERATION,
PEOPLE FOR REALIZATION OF SITUATION, AUTHORITIES FOR SECURING SAFETY

YEREVAN, March 25 (Noyan Tapan). Yuri Manoukian was elected the first
Secretary of the Central Committe of the United Communist Party of
Armenia during the first congress of the party, which was held om
March 25. These are the first elections of the party’s
leadership,which testify that the party is established. The Congres
was a closed one and 230 delegates took part in its work. 77 members
were included in the structure of the Central Committee. 17 members
are in the structure of the Bureau of the Central Committee of the
United Communist Party of Armenia. A press conference was held on the
same day and the leadership of the party read the statement of the
party directed to the people and other political
organizations. Declaring themselves an opposition party, the United
Communist Party of Armenia, refuses to cooperate with the current
opposition.”One shouldn’t lead the people to confrontation with the
danger of consequences that are not predictable and put the existance
of the state at stake,” Yuri Manoukian stated, naming the opposition
political figures the tratiors of the nation that act for the sake of
their own interests. At the same time, the United Communist Party of
Armenia calls two other Communist parties, namely, the Communist Party
of Armenia and the Progressive Communist Party, for uniting with the
UCPA around the general idea of building the Socialism. According to
Manoukian, UCPA still hopes to come to an aggrement with the communist
Party of Armenia, though, he stated, that knowing his party-fellows,
he can say that their position is both indefinite and speculative.
Turning to the people, the UCPA, calls for not takeing decisive
measures that can turn fatal for the country, as the hard foreign
political situation requires political stability.

The UCPA demands from the authorities to take decisive measures for
securing the safety of the country for the sake of the very existence
of the Armenian state. Besides, the UCPA is against the power
shift. Hrant Voskanian, one of the idealogists of the party, member of
the Bureau of the Central Committe of the UCPA, agreed that the
parties at power bear the responsibility for the hard situation in the
country. But, according to him, the fate of the people and their
country is not the monopoly of only one party, but the concern of
all.”The power shift is no goal in itself and doesn’t proceed from the
interests of the people,” Voskanian said.

Jesus is the message of God

Providence Journal , RI
March 27 2004

Jesus is the message of God

by Stephen Lynch:

Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, on The New York Times’
hardcover fiction bestseller list for months, points up our culture’s
continuing fascination with Jesus Christ. Brown’s novel challenges
Christianity’s roots in terms of Christ’s divinity. I would like to
look at the faith of Christians from the first to the fourth
centuries from the Roman Catholic perspective. What we believe about
Jesus Christ is one thing; what we know about Jesus is something
else. St. Hilary, a fourth-century doctor of the Church, writes that
while God’s existence can be known by reason, God’s nature can never
be comprehended.

Some early Christians questioned Christ’s divinity, but the majority
accepted Jesus as the Word of God in human form, because they
believed in the mystery of Christ’s resurrection. Brown never really
faces up to the most critical theological issue of all, which is the
validity of the Resurrection.

In her book Beyond Belief, Elaine Pagels, a historian of religion at
Princeton University, writes that around the end of the second
century, Christian leaders like Polycarp and Irenaeus developed a set
of instructional summaries of belief, termed the Rule of Faith, which
clearly affirmed the Christian belief in the divinity of Jesus
Christ.

The fourth-century Council of Nicaea did not invent faith in Christ’s
divinity, because the New Testament already attested to that fact.
The integration of the Jesus of history with the Christ of faith
means that Jesus is not only the messenger of the kingdom, but he
himself is the message of God. Jesuit Karl Ralmer summed up Christ’s
identity this way: “Christ not only redeems humanity from sin, but
brings to perfection the divine plan of creation.” Israel plays a
pivotal role in God’s plan. The Roman centurion standing at the foot
of the cross publicly proclaimed his own faith-transformation when he
testified, “Clearly, this was the Son of God.”

Besides the historical evidence for Christ’s divinity, there is very
moving liturgical evidence. Professor Pagels points out that in the
second century, Pliny, a Roman governor in Asia Minor, said that two
female Christian slaves confessed under torture that Christians met
before dawn on a certain day of the week to sing a hymn to Christ as
to a god. Pliny had the slaves executed, because he said their
worship of Jesus Christ was an insult to the Roman gods.

The following century, Origen writes that John’s Gospel insists that
Jesus is not merely God’s servant, but God’s own light in human form.
The most ancient vesper evening prayer of Christianity is called the
Office of Light, or the Lucernarium. Christians sang it as a
liturgical witness to their belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.
>From the late fourth century, this Vesper hymn was celebrated in the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher. All the lamps and torches of the church
were lighted, and the Lucernarium hymn was chanted. An even earlier
tradition says that at the end of the third century, in the Armenian
town of Sebaste, St. Athenogenes and 10 disciples were burned at the
stake for confessing Jesus Christ as Son of God in human flesh. As
the fires were ignited, the martyrs sang this Lucernarium canticle
Phos Hilarion: “O gracious Light, pure brightness of the ever living
Father in heaven, holy and blessed Jesus Christ.”

Jesus calls all to go back to the beginning, to that luminous state
of creation before the fall, where, as Messiah and Light of the World
revealed in human form, the Incarnate Word of God is divinely
appointed to rule the kingdom of God forever and forever.

The Rev. Stephen Lynch is the director of evangelization at St.
Francis Chapel and City Ministry Center in Providence.

Historic N.Y. Church May Close Doors

Los Angeles Times , CA
March 27 2004

Historic N.Y. Church May Close Doors

Valuable real estate and decreasing attendance threaten St. Ann’s in
Greenwich Village.

By John J. Goldman, Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK – St. Ann’s Armenian Catholic Cathedral stands apart amid
the Greenwich Village bustle of trendy shops and university students.
For 157 years, it has served the faithful, through the Civil War, the
Great Depression and New York’s brush with bankruptcy.

But many here fear the valuable real estate is about to fall victim
to shrinking attendance and the budgetary crisis facing the
Archdiocese of New York.

At 2.5 million members, this is the nation’s second-largest
archdiocese. And like others across the country, it is in the process
of reallocating resources – which will mean closing some parishes and
consolidating others. St. Ann’s is one of those likely targets.

Studies show that growth in the Roman Catholic community has been in
the suburbs and counties north of New York City, not in Manhattan,
where a quarter of the archdiocese’s 414 parishes are located.

A spokesman said church officials have not made a final decision
about St. Ann’s fate. But inside the gray stone Gothic Revival
building, where thousands have practiced a parade of religions, the
specter of the padlock looms large.

During its 157 years, St. Ann’s has been a Baptist church, a
Protestant church, a synagogue, a Catholic parish and, most recently,
the headquarters of the U.S. and Canadian leader of the Armenian
Rite.

“You could almost feel the generations that had gone before you,”
said Olivia Fitzsimons, who has attended Mass at the church for 20
years. “If those walls could talk… It is very sad.”

Ann-Isabel Friedman, director of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s
sacred sites program, said any eleventh-hour attempt to preserve the
building through a historical designation likely would fail, because
the archdiocese could claim financial hardship.

“We are deciding what to do with the building. Selling it is a
possibility,” church spokesman Joseph Zwilling said. “The primary
thing we are looking at is where are the Catholic people today, and
where will they be in the future.

“Do we need to open new churches in some places? Do we need to close
or merge churches or parishes in other parts of the archdiocese?”
Zwilling said. “Are there other creative ways we could use the
resources we have – including our people – in a more effective way?”

Friedman said that as real estate values have skyrocketed in parts of
Manhattan, developers are approaching churches to sell buildings and
property – often with plans that would allow them to stay on the
site, albeit in scaled-down quarters.

St. Ann’s stands in the East Village, across from New School
University’s modern brick dormitory. Apartment rentals in the area
have risen dramatically in recent years.

Some parishioners speculate the archdiocese could receive $16 million
for the St. Ann’s property, which includes a parish house and a
parking lot. The potential buyers, Friedman and others said, could
include New York University and the New School University, major
educational institutions in the area.

Most days the church, with its stone steeple and ornate wrought-iron
railings, remains locked. Masses are held only on weekends. The
parish house, paint peeling, stands empty.

There once were Masses in Latin and Spanish here. Now, even most of
the Armenian parishioners have left, attending religious services in
Brooklyn instead.

But others are putting up a fight. They have fasted, picketed St.
Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue and launched a website condemning
Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the archbishop of New York, for considering
closing the church.

“Culturally, this church has been a place of worship for different
kinds of people,” said Roz Li, an architect who still goes to Mass at
St. Ann’s. “This is the place were I have been going since I came to
New York over 20 years ago.

“For me, it signifies what landmarks are all about. It is a point of
providing continuity for generations.”

BAKU: Armitage Supports Opening Of Turkish-Armenian Borders

Baku Today, Azerbaijan
March 27 2004

Armitage Supports Opening Of Turkish-Armenian Borders

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Friday that
if Turkey opened its border with Armenia, the benefits would be swift
and plentiful, The Associated Press reported.
“It seems to me that the opening of the border between Armenia and
Turkey would benefit the peoples of both sides rather dramatically
and rather quickly,” he said, during a visit to the Armenian capital,
Yerevan.
Armitage’s statement came as a response to that of the Azerbaijani
President, Ilham Aliyev, who said Wednesday that Turkey’s opening its
borders with Armenia would make the Karabakh problem `absolutely
impossible to resolve peacefully.’

Aliyev noted that his country could lose an important lever in case
if Turkey were to open its doors to Armenia.

`It also would make it impossible to continue the peace talks and
would even bring the talks to an end.’

Armitage said the United States has discussed the issue with Turkey.

“I think to be fair, our Turkish friends have had their hands full
recently with concerns about northern Iraq and the ongoing Cyprus
talks, but I hope as those concerns are ameliorated that they will be
able to turn their attention to the reopening of the border,” Armitage
said, according to the AP.

He also warned that the solution to Nagorno-Karabakh can’t “be
imposed from top-down, from the outside.”

In his turn, the Azerbaijani President Aliyev called on the nations
`who have a say in the world politics’ not to press Turkey to open
the borders.

`If they want to see the Karabakh conflict resolved quickly, they
have to refrain from pressing on Turkey,’ the president said. But he
expressed hope at the same that Turkey could withstand all such
pressures.

`Turkey is a great and powerful state … and the Turkish-Azerbaijani
brotherhood is above everything,’ Aliyev stressed.

Armenian Foreign Ministry was also quick to react to Aliyev’s
statement. According to Arminfo, the Armenian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Gamlet Gasparian stated that the opening of
Turkish-Armenian borders would not impede finding a solution to
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but would help resolve it easily by
boosting regional cooperation.

Gasparian also expressed belief that that Turkey could more actively
engage in the region’s political and economic processes, if it
`refuses to side with Azerbaijan’s position.’

Turkey has no diplomatic relationship with Yerevan and has been
keeping its borders closed with Armenia since the latter gained
independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In return for establishing diplomatic relations and opening the
borders, Turkey demands Armenia give up propagating the alleged
genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Turkey in early 20th century,
stop territorial claims against Ankara and withdraw from Azerbaijan’s
occupied territories.

Personal? Political? Phooey: Rogues of Urfa

The Globe and Mail, Canada
March 27 2004

Personal? Political? Phooey

Conflating a private medical crisis and the Armenian genocide, a
playwright’s performance is manipulative and presumptuous

By KAMAL AL-SOLAYLEE
Saturday, March 27, 2004 – Page R18
Rogues of Urfa
Written and performed
by Araxi Arslanian
Directed by Rebecca Brown
At Artword Alternative Theatre
In Toronto

Rating: *

Finally, something that the Turks and the Armenians can hate together
and find equally offensive. Joy to the world.

With her Rogues of Urfa, playwright and actor Araxi Arslanian may
have accomplished a feat that has eluded diplomatic efforts for
nearly a century; but she does so through a series of assumptions
that take her work out of the realm of theatre and into that of the
personal vendetta.

In this classic work of “victim art” — who says the eighties are
over? — the emphasis is solely and unequivocally placed on the
victim. The art — be it the writing, the performance, or the
emotional impact of a combination of the two — has been pushed to
the margins of this theatrical equation. Politically, it may seem
justified. Artistically, it’s worthless.

Rogues (which opened Wednesday in a production by Alianak Theatre) is
a monologue, written and performed by Arslanian, which connects two
stories that take place at the end, and the beginning, of the 20th
century. The first is an account of how the performer on-stage — and
there’s nothing to suggest she is anyone but Arslanian — has
survived a congenital brain disorder, and relates her subsequent
suffering at the hands of unsympathetic doctors, students and fellow
actors.

The second strand relates to the Armenian genocide at the hands of
the Turks in 1915, and is told through the story of her grandfather,
a young soldier from the doomed Urfa, “city of prophets.”

Both stories get equal stage time, and the implication is that the
annihilation of many can prove inspiring to the sick one. The two
stories are linked in the last two minutes in a line credited to the
performer’s father, and which counts as one of the most horrifically
manipulative and presumptuous theatrical devices I’ve ever
encountered: that the blood clot in the actor is the same blood of
Armenian victims, the blood of survivors.

Does this mean that atrocities perpetrated by the Turks are morally
equivalent to the nastiness of fellow actors or unsympathetic
university administrators? Is she invoking the memories of the dead
to keep their stories alive and away from historical distortions and
denials? Or is she simply seeking self-validation?

The work’s political and personal (and they are equated here not
because one is the other but because the personal trumps the
political) scheme could still have worked with a more sophisticated
approach to historical framing, ambiguity and critical distance that,
for example, make Atom Egoyan’s Ararat so much more fascinating as a
work of art.

But, like Mel Gibson, Arslanian is so certain in her convictions that
her writing has no need for such trifles as conflicts or
counterpoints. Everybody, from Turks to actors, are villains and
presented in broad stereotypes that kiss the notion of reconciliation
and forgiveness goodbye. More significantly they simplify, and
therefore render insignificant, the actions and responsibility of all
victimizers.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask for subtlety from an actor who made her
mark on-stage in a number of raucous performances. But even if her
range seems to stretch from loud to louder, she has always exhibited
an undeniable stage presence. Sadly, it’s Arslanian the avenger who
is centre-stage here, and it’s not a convincing or smart sight.
Rebecca Brown’s direction is basic and clichéd, which, at least,
perfectly fits with the modus operandi of the monologue.

Rogues of Urfa continues at Toronto’s Artword Alternative Theatre
until April 4 (416-504-7529).

Nicosia: House opposes Melkonian shut down

Cyprus Mail
March 27 2004

House opposes Melkonian shut down
By Staff Reporter

THE PLENUM yesterday unanimously opposed the Armenian General
Benevolent Union’s (AGBU) decision to shut down the Melkonian
Educational Institute (MEI) and urged the government to declare the
school a historical site.

The deputies said the 78-year-old Armenian school was as much part of
Cyprus’ cultural and historical heritage as the Armenians’. They
added it was their duty to `undertake the necessary initiative to
prevent the fait accompli its New York handlers are trying to
create’.

The vote comes after the AGBU recently announced its plans to close
down the school in June next year, claiming it no longer fulfilled
the duties it had been set up to carry out.

The Armenian community in Cyprus has claimed financial interests are
behind the school’s closure as preliminary estimates suggest the land
is worth £40 million.

The House of Representatives said the school was an important
educational and cultural institution that helped education and
cultivate young Armenians, as well as reinforcing their identity. The
deputies added that thought should have been given and action taken
on how to support the school rather than shut it down.

The plenum unanimously condemned the AGBU decision and called on the
government to declare the school building and its surroundings an
environment of historical and cultural importance, thus thwarting any
plans for its development.

BAKU: Aliyev received US 1st deputy secretary of state Armitage

Azer Tag, Azerbaijan State Info Agency
March 27 2004

AZERBAIJAN-US RELATIONS TO ACQUIRE HIGHER LEVEL IN THE COMING YEARS

PRESIDENT OF AZERBAIJAN ILHAM ALIYEV RECEIVED THE UNITED STATES FIRST
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE RICHARD ARMITAGE
[March 27, 2004, 16:17:19]

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev received at the
President Palace the United States First Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage and his entourage on 27 March.

Greeting the esteemed guests, head of the Azerbaijani state said that
the relations between America and Azerbaijan develop intensively. The
countries are very closely cooperating in numerous fields. With the
support of the United States, large-scale energy projects of world
importance are being realized in Azerbaijan. Construction of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline successfully goes ahead, and this is
not secret for anybody that without support of the American
governments the Project could not be implemented.

Noting that the US Government renders huge assistance to the Country
in conducting of economic reforms and he hopes for boosting by the
United States of the current socio-economic development program,
President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that the two countries are well
cooperating in the military sphere, too. We are confident that this
cooperation will strengthen much more in the years ahead. Azerbaijan
allied to the United States in anti-terror combat. We are allies and
this policy will be continued in the coming years. All these show
that our countries are successfully cooperating and this will deepen
in the future.

Noting that security issues are very important, President Ilham
Aliyev confidently underlined that the peace would soon be
established in the region. But the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorny
Karabakh conflict greatly threatens this safety. We hope, the OSCE
Minsk Group will play positive role in settlement of this conflict,
Azerbaijan’s lands will be liberated from occupation, all the
international legal norms will be confirmed and territorial integrity
of our Country will be preserved. I appreciate your visit to
Azerbaijan and I am convinced that the relations between us, between
our countries will reach a higher level, President of Azerbaijan
said.

Expressing his gratitude for sincere reception and stressing that he
is not able to express his pleasure with the visit to Baku, the US
First Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, addressing the head
of Azerbaijani state said: `Mr. President, I would like to express
my thanks to You and the people of Azerbaijan for support of my
Country in the anti-terror combat, and that you are ally to us and
take part in the joint operations. In particular, I would like to
note courageous service of the Azerbaijani militaries. They render us
assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, our goal, our intention
is to reach higher level of cooperation and that this cooperation
should cover economic, political, military, social and other spheres
as well’.

Touching upon the Armenian- Azerbaijani, Nagorny Karabakh conflict,
Mr. Armitage stated that the US, too, wants peaceful settlement of
this conflict. `We consider that the Caucasus, in the coming years
might be a very good ally and partner for the West. But, it needs the
existing conflicts here be solved. Therefore, I am also hopeful for
our talk. I hope our conversation will be attractive’.

Head of the foreign relations department of President Administration
Novruz Mammadov, the US ambassador to Azerbaijan Reno Harnish and
other officials participated at the reception.