ASBAREZ Online [03-18-2004]

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03/18/2004
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1) Kocharian Asks for Resoluteness, Appoints New Prosecutor-General
2) Javakhk Armenians Concur with CE Secretary General, Request Meeting
3) Ajaria Blockade Ends, Stability Restored
4) Armenia At Last Formally Protests British Envoy’s Genocide Denial

1)  Kocharian Asks for Resoluteness, Appoints New Prosecutor-General

YEREVAN (Armenpress/RFE/RL)–President Robert Kocharian expressed on Thursday
his dissatisfaction with the performance of Armenia’s Office of Prosecutor as
he introduced the country’s newly appointed Prosecutor-General.
Kocharian said the role of the law-enforcement agency has diminished somewhat
under the previous Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian who was relieved of his
post on Wednesday. “Compared to other law-enforcement bodies, the prosecutor’s
office has experienced a certain decline in terms of its place and
significance,” he was quoted by his press office as telling senior
prosecutors.
Calling on prosecutors to be more active and resolute in combating crime and
government corruption, he asked them to keep in mind the interests of the
nation, and spare no efforts to preserve investment activity in Armenia, that
has already produced solid economic results.
In introducing the new Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian, Kocharian
described
him as “professional, firm, and principled.”
Hovsepian, who served as prosecutor-general from 1998-99, was forced to resign
along with the ministers of interior and national security in the wake of the
October 1999 killings in the Armenian parliament.
Kocharian explained that Hovsepian had been forced to resign for purely
political reasons. “I think that [his appointment] is also a restoration of
justice,” he said.
In conclusion, the President emphasized that the Prosecutor’s Office is a body
approved by the Constitution and should assume its responsibilities
thoroughly.  “I expect more decisive work from the newly appointed Prosecutor
and you,” the leader of the country underscored. “There is a [anti-corruption]
program approved by the government, that features a quite important role to
the
office. We expect more resolute work from the new prosecutor.”

2) Javakhk Armenians Concur with CE Secretary General, Request Meeting

AKHALKALAKI–Representatives of Javakhk Armenian Non-Governmental
Organizations
(NGO), have expressed full agreement with Council of Europe (CE) Secretary
General Walter Schwimmer’s calls for a decentralized structure in Georgia, and
increased authority to regional and local authorities.
“In recent months, we have appealed to the highest authorities of Georgia,
fully supporting certain constitutional reforms that ensure Georgia’s
sovereignty and integrity, while establishing a confederate structure,” the
NGOs stated in a March 11 letter to the Secretary General, which was presented
to the CE Information Office in Tbilisi on Wednesday.
During his most recent formal talks with President Saakashvili and other
Georgian authorities in late February, Schwimmer advocating a decentralized
structure for Georgia, said. “Of course, this means that Council of Europe
standards with respect to the rule of law, human rights and pluralist
democracy
have to be implemented at all levels.”
Javakhk’s NGOs, pointing to violations of the Georgia’s constitution, said
that
the region has been deprived of fundamental human and ethnic minority rights
that are not only guaranteed by the Constitution and affirmed by international
standards, but also necessary for establishing a democratic and civil society.
“In fact, the process of fulfilling the country’s commitments to the
Council of
Europe has failed. Rejection of the constitutionally-guaranteed principle of
self-governance has left many regions of the country to their fate, resulting
in current dangerous developments,” the NGOs stressed.
In closing, the NGOs request a meeting with Schwimmer, and state that only a
“civilized resolution” to the deep crisis will clarify the region’s
administrative borders, and grant autonomy by way of the constitution.

3) Ajaria Blockade Ends, Stability Restored

BATUMI (Eurasianet)–Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on March 18
ordered
the lifting of an economic blockade against the renegade region of Ajaria. The
announcement followed direct talks between the president and Ajarian leader
that resolved “all the questions” that had prompted an armed standoff over the
past four days, according to Saakashvili.
Saakashvili’s face-to-face meeting with Abashidze in Batumi lasted over three
hours. Saakashvili seemed to be in a buoyant mood following the
discussions. “I
believe we have achieved full mutual understanding,” he said. A terse
Abashidze, meanwhile, concurred that “all the disputable issues have been
settled.”
Georgia imposed measures that sought to economically isolate Ajaria following
an incident March 14, in which Ajarian border guards prevented Saakashvili’s
motorcade from entering the region. Georgian security forces retaliated by
sealing the port at the Ajarian capital of Batumi. In addition, Tbilisi had
brought a halt to all banking activity in the region.
Saakashvili’s chief demands for ending the blockade were: unimpeded access by
central government officials to the territory, central government oversight
over tax and customs revenue collection in the region, and a guarantee of a
free and fair parliamentary campaign and election on March 28.
Ajarian leader Aslan Abashidze has doggedly tried to preserve broad autonomous
powers, specifically control over locally generated revenue. Abashidze has
likewise attempted to maintain tight control over Ajaria’s political
environment, fearful that free elections would break his tight grip on power.
In recent weeks, opposition political activists have endured physical attacks
and other forms of harassment at the hands of Abashidze loyalists.
According to a Rustavi-2 television report, in return for the lifting of the
economic blockade, Abashidze acknowledged the central government’s right to
“impose control over customs, the port and all strategic offices.” The Ajarian
leader also pledged to allow competitive elections and “provide freedom of
speech on the territory of the Ajarian autonomous republic.” In addition,
Abashidze is to be held personally responsible for disarming armed bands of
Ajarian citizens that had been mobilized in recent days.
While clearly happy with the results, Saakashvili cautioned that Abashidze
would be judged on the implementation of the points of agreement. Initial
indicators showed that the March 28 parliamentary could prove a source of
ongoing tension. After his meeting with Abashidze, Saakashvili went to the
headquarters of a major regional opposition movement, Our Ajaria. Abashidze
supporters reportedly restricted access to the meeting, preventing some
opposition activists from attending, Rustavi-2 reported. In addition, regional
television, which is controlled by Abashidze, did not report on the meeting.
Pressure on Abashidze to hold a fair election is not coming solely from
Tbilisi. Prior to the announced ending of the economic blockade, Georgian
officials revealed that Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer
had telephoned Abashidze, urging the Ajarian leader to provide for an open
campaign environment.
For the moment, Saakashvili seemed sufficiently satisfied that the Ajaria
crisis has been defused that he left the country, flying directly from Batumi
to Slovakia to attend an international conference on European Union
enlargement.
One of the main goals of Saakashvili’s presidency is the reestablishment of
Tbilisi’s authority over all of Georgia’s territory. Indeed, prior to his
arrival in Batumi for the talks with Abashidze, Saakashvili stated that his
“responsibility before the history of Georgia means that I must unify
Georgia.”
The apparent outcome of the Ajaria crisis marks a quantum leap by
Saakashvili’s
administration towards fulfillment of the unity goal. Of course, the two most
difficult stumbling blocks to reestablishing the territorial integrity of
Georgia–political settlements to the Abkhazia and South Ossetia
conflicts–are
likely to prove far more difficult to resolve than did the Ajaria question.

4) Armenia At Last Formally Protests British Envoy’s Genocide Denial

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia has sent a diplomatic note to Britain protesting its
ambassador to Armenia’s inflammatory remark that the 1915 slaughter of more
than one million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey was not a genocide, a spokesman
said on Thursday.
Ambassador Thorda Abbott-Watt’s explicit denial of the genocide, voiced at a
meeting with students last month and reiterated afterwards, has caused an
uproar in Armenia and especially the Diaspora. She has been bombarded with
angry letters over the past two weeks, condemning her and demanding an
apology.
Abbott-Watt argues that her comments reflect the position of the British
government which does not recognize the mass killings as genocide. “I am sorry
that my Government’s position on how we refer to the events of 1915-16 causes
you personal distress,” she replied to an Armenian-American critic by e-mail
last week.
There have also been calls for the Armenian government to seek the envoy’s
expulsion from Armenia. But both President Robert Kocharian and the Foreign
Ministry have ruled out that option. The ministry spokesman Hamlet Gasparian,
said Yerevan can only “regret such a position.”
“Such issues are better dealt with through diplomatic channels, not publicly,”
Gasparian said in a statement. “As in the past, this time, too, the
authorities
expressed their position to the UK government with a diplomatic note.”
“Of course each country has its position on this matter, based on its own
strategic interests. However, the ambassadors of those countries to Armenia
should approach such a sensitive issue with great caution and sensitivity.”
In February 2002, the Foreign Ministry protested to Israel over its Ambassador
Rivka Kohen’s similar denial of the genocide. Kohen had told reporters in
Yerevan earlier that what happened to the Armenians was just a “tragedy” that
should not be compared to the Jewish Holocaust. Yerevan’s reaction was more
strongly-worded at the time.
It is not the first time that the current British government’s handling of the
sensitive issue comes into question. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet faced
domestic protests in January 2001 when it attempted to exclude Armenians from
official ceremonies marking Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day. It caved in
under
pressure from prominent public figures and media.
“The Daily Telegraph,” the UK’s best-selling broadsheet newspaper, referred to
the events of 1915 as “the first genocide of the modern era.” “Britain stands
firm among a dwindling band of nations that fail to acknowledge the massacres
were genocide,” another leading London daily, “The Guardian,” wrote in a
lengthy article on the subject.
Ironically, the British statesmen’s First World War-era accounts have been a
major source of reference for the Armenians in their campaign for
international
recognition of the genocide. The Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan, for
example, has a plaque dedicated to Lord James Bryce, whose 700-page Blue Book,
a collection of evidence of the massacres, was published by the British
Foreign
Office in 1916.

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Stanford Students’ Fast for Armenia on April 24

PRESS RELEASE
Stanford, California.
Anahid Yeremian
P.O. Box 655
Menlo Park, CA 94026
Tel: 650 – 926 – 6634
Fax: 650 – 926 – 5368
Email: [email protected]

Stanford Graduates Launch Annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration Fast
for Armenia

Chris Guzelian and Alex Vartan are pleasantly punctual for a pair of
busy Stanford graduate students. They are in my office, they tell me,
because they have come up with a novel way of helping the children of
Armenia.

The pair’s plan is simple but powerful. They are calling for an
international, day-long fast on Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day,
Saturday, April 24, 2004. Participants are asked to donate the money
that they would have spent on food that day to Armenian
charities. With a combined 10 years at Stanford in the heart of
Silicon Valley, Guzelian and Vartan understand the power of the
Internet in uniting people across the globe. So they have built
, making the donation process as simple as
buying a book from Amazon.com.

Guzelian explains how he and Vartan decided on a fast as the
centerpiece of their charity movement, Fast for Armenia. `We knew we
wanted to have a charity drive on [April] 24th and hit upon this idea
to focus on aiding Armenia’s youth. Fasting serves as a reminder of
the abundance with which we Diaspora Armenians are blessed today, our
ancestors’ sacrifices and suffering, and the troubles Armenia’s
children contend with every day.’

Vartan stresses that the website isn’t just for collecting donations:
`The website will allow us to accept credit card donations with ease –
but more than that, it will offer detailed information about the
projects and have downloadable marketing material so that anyone can
help publicize this event at their school, church or place of work.’

Donors can specify whether their funds will go to the Children of
Armenia Fund’s (COAF) Model Village project, or its Textbooks for
Armenian Schoolchildren project. As beneficiaries of the inaugural
Fast for Armenia, these specific projects were carefully selected
because they are successfully meeting impoverished Armenians’ basic
needs.

COAF is a nonprofit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. The Model Village
project is developing the basic infrastructure of Karakert, an
agricultural Armenian village with 5,000 inhabitants; as well as
programs that emphasize education, economic development and health
care needs

Dr. Garo Armen, the chairman and founder of COAF, explained to us that
the next five years will be critical for the children and the youth of
Armenia. “Without our help there is a substantial risk that they will
lose all hope and face an uncertain future. The goal of the programs
at COAF is to provide the basic infrastructure and training for these
children so that they can learn, as well as receive essential and
preventive medical care. COAF programs are designed to be sustainable
to ensure the long-term viability of Armenia,’ Guzelian said. `This
village on the Turkish border has no drinkable water, inadequate
medical facilities, and crumbling schoolhouses. But because of COAF,
spirits are high.’

By improving Karakert, COAF is demonstrating that even the most
destitute Armenian villages can be brought up to suitable standards of
living, cost-efficiently. Vartan notes, `Already, trucks are
delivering potable water and a new school is in the planning
stages. But much more needs to be done. COAF has organized a local
governing council and has asked them to prioritize their needs. The
number one priority of the community was improving their schools –
ahead of adding running water and bathrooms in homes.’

The project’s success is expected to motivate international aid
organizations and donors to realize that the development of rural
Armenia is both feasible and necessary. Once these programs have
demonstrated success, COAF expects the formula to be repeated
throughout rural parts of the country, which is critical for a
self-sustaining Armenia.

During the soviet era Armenia was given special consideration because
of its human and intellectual capital; since the collapse of the
Soviet Union the absence of resources and structure has created an
enormous void which risks the endangerment of this terrific people
resource. Thus the next five years are critical in making certain
that people’s hope for a promising future is maintained and the only
way to accomplish this is to make sure that there are substantive and
sustainable efforts underway as soon as possible.

COAF’s Textbooks for Armenian Children project delivers modern
textbooks to Armenian schoolchildren in regions where few, if any,
children have access to such materials. Guzelian and Vartan explain
that the future of Armenia depends on its intellectual
resources. These children will be the leaders, the artists, the
scientists, and the businessmen that will sustain Armenia in the long
term. Only $10 pays for a year’s use of textbooks for one child. The
Fast for Armenia drive will equip as many village schools with
textbooks as your generosity will permit.

Vartan stresses that the key to Fast for Armenia’s success is
widespread grassroots participation, and he believes that Armenians
and their friends will support it in impressive numbers.

Guzelian believes Fast for Armenia answers many common hopes of
Armenians in a unified project. `Each year,’ he explains, `so many
people make admirable efforts to get the public and world governments
to remember the genocide. Every year we see progress in baby steps,
and every year, we see so many Armenians and their supporters
disappointed that their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. We wanted an
outlet to constructively honor our ancestors and Fast for Armenia is
it. It commemorates the genocide as fittingly as ever, in part because
fasting requires self-sacrifice and devotion, which shows how strongly
Armenians believe in the need for official genocide recognition. But
equally important, the charity drive portion of Fast for Armenia
translates to hope for Armenia’s children and future.

`We believe everyone can and will participate in Fast for Armenia,’
continues Guzelian, tapping keenly on the table to emphasize his
point. `Whether you fast, donate money, or volunteer, do something! If
you have media connections, get them to report on Fast for Armenia, or
on the projects it is supporting. Even children are encouraged to
participate by, say, giving up their desserts or snacks. Get others,
including non-Armenians, to fast. Involve your workplaces, schools,
communities, churches and social organizations!’

In future years, Guzelian and Vartan plan to expand Fast for Armenia
by allowing other proven Armenian charities to become fundraising
recipients. `Any charitable organization that demonstrates it is
contributing to the well-being of the Armenian people could
potentially participate,’ says Vartan. `Fast for Armenia also wants to
recruit matching patrons, who will pledge to support the drive by
matching some fraction of its funds, dollar-for-dollar.’

I am awed and amazed, and wonder why someone didn’t think of this
sooner. I offer a quick question to my grandparents in heaven, `Is our
promise to `never forget’ being carried out to your satisfaction?’
After speaking to these young men, I know my answer is an enthusiastic
`Yes!’ I am filled with pride and hope, and I pledge them my
unwavering support and pray that you will, too.

As this ambitious pair of young Stanford graduates get up to leave, I
am convinced that the schoolchildren of Armenia and the inhabitants of
Karakert will have their dire conditions improved after April 24, and
that the genocide’s memory is being well guarded by this generation of
young Armenians.

—–
For more information about Fast for Armenia and this year’s projects,
or to volunteer your assistance, log on to and
click on the `How can I help?’ link.

Photo: Chris Guzelian (left) and Alex Vartan take a moment to pose at
the arches of Stanford’s Inner Quad.

www.fastforarmenia.org
www.fastforarmenia.com

Quiet end to Georgia standoff

International Herald Tribune

Quiet end to Georgia standoff

Seth Mydans/NYT NYT Friday, March 19, 2004
Concessions bring region back into fold

TBILISI, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili said Thursday that he had won
key concessions from the leader of the renegade province of Adzharia and
that he would lift a four-day-old economic blockade.

“The sanctions will be lifted from midnight tonight because we have resolved
all the issues that led to this misunderstanding which arose between the
local administration and the Georgian government,” he said after meeting
with the leader, Aslan Abashidze, in the provincial capital, Batumi.

“I want to underline that there is no conflict with Adzharia and such a
conflict cannot be,” he said.

The deal defuses a crisis that was touched off Sunday when armed men
supporting Abashidze had refused to allow the president to enter Adzharia.

Saakashvili had placed Georgian troops on alert and Abashidze had declared a
state of emergency in his fiefdom and had sent armed men into the streets.

The standoff had threatened to have international repercussions as officials
from Moscow, which has a military base in Adzharia, had voiced support for
Abashidze.

According to wire service reports from Batumi, Abashidze will allow
parliamentary elections to proceed on March 28, will review the cases of
imprisoned opponents and will disarm his paramilitary militias.

Officials from the central government in Tbilisi will be based in Batumi to
assure that the government receives customs duties that Abashidze had
withheld in the past, the reports said.

Abashidze later said, “The meeting showed that there are no issues that
cannot be resolved.”

The specifics of the agreements were not made public and it was not clear
how much Abashidze had conceded of the economic and military control he had
exercised in what Saakashvili had likened to “a feudal chief from medieval
times.”

Political analysts here said it appeared that the president had earned at
least short-term concessions from Abashidze that would allow the election to
proceed and pro-government supporters to campaign.

Abashidze has harassed and arrested opponents and made it almost impossible
for supporters of the central government to campaign or move freely.

Saakashvili has said Abashidze’s “time is past” and analysts said it was
difficult to see how a compromise could be reached that would allow him to
remain in office. He was one of the last supporters of Eduard Shevardnadze
last November when he was driven from the presidency by a peaceful uprising
led by Saakashvili.

Before traveling to Batumi on Thursday morning, Saakashvili had sounded a
tough note, saying, “I am not going to be horse-trading with anyone or
meeting anyone halfway. The law should be observed across all of Georgia’s
territory. We are not doing any deals.”

He added: “We are speaking here about my subordinate.”

The meeting in Batumi was accompanied by rowdy televised scenes of crowds
chanting, “Babu! Babu!” – a word that means “grandfather” – in support of
Abashidze and other protesters in the distance chanting Saakashvili’s
nickname, “Misha! Misha!”

The blockade, which began on Monday, was causing economic disruption in
neighboring Turkey and Armenia and particularly in Azerbaijan, where
thousands of rail cars carrying oil to the port at Batumi were stranded on
sidings.

Oil exports set to resume

Georgia’s second-largest oil port, Batumi on the Black Sea, will resume oil
exports at midnight Thursday, after the blockade against Ajaria is lifted,
port officials said, Bloomberg News reported.

Georgia had been blocking the approaches to Batumi with gunships.

< < Back to Start of Article Concessions bring region back into fold

TBILISI, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili said Thursday that he had won
key concessions from the leader of the renegade province of Adzharia and
that he would lift a four-day-old economic blockade.

“The sanctions will be lifted from midnight tonight because we have resolved
all the issues that led to this misunderstanding which arose between the
local administration and the Georgian government,” he said after meeting
with the leader, Aslan Abashidze, in the provincial capital, Batumi.

“I want to underline that there is no conflict with Adzharia and such a
conflict cannot be,” he said.

The deal defuses a crisis that was touched off Sunday when armed men
supporting Abashidze had refused to allow the president to enter Adzharia.

Saakashvili had placed Georgian troops on alert and Abashidze had declared a
state of emergency in his fiefdom and had sent armed men into the streets.

The standoff had threatened to have international repercussions as officials
from Moscow, which has a military base in Adzharia, had voiced support for
Abashidze.

According to wire service reports from Batumi, Abashidze will allow
parliamentary elections to proceed on March 28, will review the cases of
imprisoned opponents and will disarm his paramilitary militias.

Officials from the central government in Tbilisi will be based in Batumi to
assure that the government receives customs duties that Abashidze had
withheld in the past, the reports said.

Abashidze later said, “The meeting showed that there are no issues that
cannot be resolved.”

The specifics of the agreements were not made public and it was not clear
how much Abashidze had conceded of the economic and military control he had
exercised in what Saakashvili had likened to “a feudal chief from medieval
times.”

Political analysts here said it appeared that the president had earned at
least short-term concessions from Abashidze that would allow the election to
proceed and pro-government supporters to campaign.

Abashidze has harassed and arrested opponents and made it almost impossible
for supporters of the central government to campaign or move freely.

Saakashvili has said Abashidze’s “time is past” and analysts said it was
difficult to see how a compromise could be reached that would allow him to
remain in office. He was one of the last supporters of Eduard Shevardnadze
last November when he was driven from the presidency by a peaceful uprising
led by Saakashvili.

Before traveling to Batumi on Thursday morning, Saakashvili had sounded a
tough note, saying, “I am not going to be horse-trading with anyone or
meeting anyone halfway. The law should be observed across all of Georgia’s
territory. We are not doing any deals.”

He added: “We are speaking here about my subordinate.”

The meeting in Batumi was accompanied by rowdy televised scenes of crowds
chanting, “Babu! Babu!” – a word that means “grandfather” – in support of
Abashidze and other protesters in the distance chanting Saakashvili’s
nickname, “Misha! Misha!”

The blockade, which began on Monday, was causing economic disruption in
neighboring Turkey and Armenia and particularly in Azerbaijan, where
thousands of rail cars carrying oil to the port at Batumi were stranded on
sidings.

Oil exports set to resume

Georgia’s second-largest oil port, Batumi on the Black Sea, will resume oil
exports at midnight Thursday, after the blockade against Ajaria is lifted,
port officials said, Bloomberg News reported.

Georgia had been blocking the approaches to Batumi with gunships.
Concessions bring region back into fold

TBILISI, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili said Thursday that he had won
key concessions from the leader of the renegade province of Adzharia and
that he would lift a four-day-old economic blockade.

“The sanctions will be lifted from midnight tonight because we have resolved
all the issues that led to this misunderstanding which arose between the
local administration and the Georgian government,” he said after meeting
with the leader, Aslan Abashidze, in the provincial capital, Batumi.

“I want to underline that there is no conflict with Adzharia and such a
conflict cannot be,” he said.

The deal defuses a crisis that was touched off Sunday when armed men
supporting Abashidze had refused to allow the president to enter Adzharia.

Saakashvili had placed Georgian troops on alert and Abashidze had declared a
state of emergency in his fiefdom and had sent armed men into the streets.

The standoff had threatened to have international repercussions as officials
from Moscow, which has a military base in Adzharia, had voiced support for
Abashidze.

According to wire service reports from Batumi, Abashidze will allow
parliamentary elections to proceed on March 28, will review the cases of
imprisoned opponents and will disarm his paramilitary militias.

Officials from the central government in Tbilisi will be based in Batumi to
assure that the government receives customs duties that Abashidze had
withheld in the past, the reports said.

Abashidze later said, “The meeting showed that there are no issues that
cannot be resolved.”

The specifics of the agreements were not made public and it was not clear
how much Abashidze had conceded of the economic and military control he had
exercised in what Saakashvili had likened to “a feudal chief from medieval
times.”

Political analysts here said it appeared that the president had earned at
least short-term concessions from Abashidze that would allow the election to
proceed and pro-government supporters to campaign.

Abashidze has harassed and arrested opponents and made it almost impossible
for supporters of the central government to campaign or move freely.

Saakashvili has said Abashidze’s “time is past” and analysts said it was
difficult to see how a compromise could be reached that would allow him to
remain in office. He was one of the last supporters of Eduard Shevardnadze
last November when he was driven from the presidency by a peaceful uprising
led by Saakashvili.

Before traveling to Batumi on Thursday morning, Saakashvili had sounded a
tough note, saying, “I am not going to be horse-trading with anyone or
meeting anyone halfway. The law should be observed across all of Georgia’s
territory. We are not doing any deals.”

He added: “We are speaking here about my subordinate.”

The meeting in Batumi was accompanied by rowdy televised scenes of crowds
chanting, “Babu! Babu!” – a word that means “grandfather” – in support of
Abashidze and other protesters in the distance chanting Saakashvili’s
nickname, “Misha! Misha!”

The blockade, which began on Monday, was causing economic disruption in
neighboring Turkey and Armenia and particularly in Azerbaijan, where
thousands of rail cars carrying oil to the port at Batumi were stranded on
sidings.

Oil exports set to resume

Georgia’s second-largest oil port, Batumi on the Black Sea, will resume oil
exports at midnight Thursday, after the blockade against Ajaria is lifted,
port officials said, Bloomberg News reported.

Georgia had been blocking the approaches to Batumi with gunships.
Concessions bring region back into fold

TBILISI, Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili said Thursday that he had won
key concessions from the leader of the renegade province of Adzharia and
that he would lift a four-day-old economic blockade.

“The sanctions will be lifted from midnight tonight because we have resolved
all the issues that led to this misunderstanding which arose between the
local administration and the Georgian government,” he said after meeting
with the leader, Aslan Abashidze, in the provincial capital, Batumi.

“I want to underline that there is no conflict with Adzharia and such a
conflict cannot be,” he said.

The deal defuses a crisis that was touched off Sunday when armed men
supporting Abashidze had refused to allow the president to enter Adzharia.

Saakashvili had placed Georgian troops on alert and Abashidze had declared a
state of emergency in his fiefdom and had sent armed men into the streets.

The standoff had threatened to have international repercussions as officials
from Moscow, which has a military base in Adzharia, had voiced support for
Abashidze.

According to wire service reports from Batumi, Abashidze will allow
parliamentary elections to proceed on March 28, will review the cases of
imprisoned opponents and will disarm his paramilitary militias.

Officials from the central government in Tbilisi will be based in Batumi to
assure that the government receives customs duties that Abashidze had
withheld in the past, the reports said.

Abashidze later said, “The meeting showed that there are no issues that
cannot be resolved.”

The specifics of the agreements were not made public and it was not clear
how much Abashidze had conceded of the economic and military control he had
exercised in what Saakashvili had likened to “a feudal chief from medieval
times.”

Political analysts here said it appeared that the president had earned at
least short-term concessions from Abashidze that would allow the election to
proceed and pro-government supporters to campaign.

Abashidze has harassed and arrested opponents and made it almost impossible
for supporters of the central government to campaign or move freely.

Saakashvili has said Abashidze’s “time is past” and analysts said it was
difficult to see how a compromise could be reached that would allow him to
remain in office. He was one of the last supporters of Eduard Shevardnadze
last November when he was driven from the presidency by a peaceful uprising
led by Saakashvili.

Before traveling to Batumi on Thursday morning, Saakashvili had sounded a
tough note, saying, “I am not going to be horse-trading with anyone or
meeting anyone halfway. The law should be observed across all of Georgia’s
territory. We are not doing any deals.”

He added: “We are speaking here about my subordinate.”

The meeting in Batumi was accompanied by rowdy televised scenes of crowds
chanting, “Babu! Babu!” – a word that means “grandfather” – in support of
Abashidze and other protesters in the distance chanting Saakashvili’s
nickname, “Misha! Misha!”

The blockade, which began on Monday, was causing economic disruption in
neighboring Turkey and Armenia and particularly in Azerbaijan, where
thousands of rail cars carrying oil to the port at Batumi were stranded on
sidings.

Oil exports set to resume

Georgia’s second-largest oil port, Batumi on the Black Sea, will resume oil
exports at midnight Thursday, after the blockade against Ajaria is lifted,
port officials said, Bloomberg News reported.

Georgia had been blocking the approaches to Batumi with gunships.

President Kocharyan Restores Justice

A1 Plus | 17:29:52 | 18-03-2004 | Politics |

PRESIDENT KOCHARYAN RESTORES JUSTICE

President Kocharyan introduced newly appointed Prosecutor General Aghvan
Hovsepyan to the office staff on Thursday.

Kocharyan said there is no need of special introducing as his nominee is
well-known in justice area: he worked at the post of Prosecutor General for
long years and has been dismissed not for mismanagement but because of
political situation in the country.

President said his move is motivated by desire to restore justice. “A real
professional, a strong and high-principled man”, Kocharyan said portraying
Hovsepyan. “I’ve known him since 1981, he has long worked in Nagorno
Karabakh”, Kocharyan added.

In his opinion, Prosecutor Office is increasingly loosing confidence and its
role as one of the most important institutions in the country.

In his words, the Prosecutor Office must be the key institution in combat
against corruption and other crimes. It should secure state property and
state interests.

“We expect more vigorous work from the new prosecutor”, Robert Kocharyan
said.

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Franklin Institute to honor scientist snubbed for Nobel

Posted on Thu, Mar. 18, 2004
Franklin Institute to honor scientist snubbed for Nobel
By Faye Flam

Inquirer Staff Writer

Raymond Damadian, the scientist who was publicly miffed that he didn’t
win last year’s Nobel Prize, is a winner of one of the Franklin
Institute’s top awards, to be announced today.

Damadian, 67, a pioneer in medical imaging research, made waves in
October when he bought ads in three major newspapers to argue that he
should have won the 2003 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

He is among the scientists and innovators to be honored with the
prestigious Franklin awards, bestowed over the last 180 years on
scientists, engineers and inventors including such luminaries as
Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham
Bell.

In addition to five Franklin Medals, the institute gives out two
special honors called the Bower Awards, one for business and one for
science. The awards are tied to a different theme each year – for
2004, it’s brain research.

Damadian won the Bower Award for business leadership. It carries no
monetary prize. He said he was honored to be recognized by the
Franklin Institute and has put the Nobel disappointment behind him.

The Bower Award for science, which includes a cash prize of $250,000,
will go to Seymour Benzer of the California Institute of Technology,
who laid the foundation for today’s understanding of the way genes
influence behavior. Benzer’s work was chronicled in the Pulitzer
Prize-winning book Love, Time, Memory by Bucks County author Jonathan
Weiner.

Benzer discovered he could use fruit flies to study how the brain
works. Small and simple as they appear, fruit flies can record
memories and learn. They have elaborate courting behavior and keep
time with internal clocks. And fruit flies multiply fast, so multiple
generations can be tracked in just a few weeks. Benzer bred flies with
abnormalities in their behavior and then isolated the genetic mistakes
responsible.

This year’s other winners include physicist Robert Meyer of Brandeis
University; chemist Harry Gray of Caltech; computer scientist Richard
Karp of the University of California, Berkeley; electrical engineer
Robert Newnham of Pennsylvania State University; and mechanical
engineer Roger Bacon of Amoco and Union Carbide.

All of the medalists will be honored at a ceremony at the Franklin
Institute on April 29.

Damadian was recognized for his contribution to the medical use of
magnetic resonance imaging, which has proved extremely valuable for
detecting tumors, damaged ligaments and cartilage, and other problems
with the body’s soft tissue. It also has opened up new frontiers in
brain research.

During the 1950s, scientists were using what was to become MRI as an
analytical tool for chemistry. The technique, then called nuclear
magnetic resonance, relied on the way the nuclei of different atoms
became excited when subjected to a magnetic field and pulses of radio
waves. The time these different nuclei took to “relax” back to their
normal states could be used to distinguish one type of atom from
another.

In the late 1960s, Damadian thought it might be possible to use
nuclear magnetic resonance to distinguish cancerous tumors from
healthy tissue. He tested his idea and eventually secured a patent on
the technology.

Damadian, a native of Forest Hills, N.Y., started a company named
Fonar, which has installed 300 MRI machines around the world. He and
his company have prospered; in one recent patent dispute against
General Electric, he won $127.8 million.

But there was more to the MRI story. During the 1970s, two other
researchers, Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield, independently
realized that if they varied the magnetic field in space, the
molecules in different parts of an internal organ – say, the brain –
would respond differently, depending on their positions. These
scientists further developed this concept as a way to build up a 3-D
picture of the brain or other soft tissue in the body, which is the
main use of MRI today.

In 2003, Lauterbur and Mansfield won the Nobel Prize in physiology or
medicine for developing MRI as a technique for 3-D images. Some who
work in the field have said publicly they agree with the Nobel
committee’s decision; others side with Damadian, who has suggested he
might have been overlooked because of his outspoken view that God
created human beings along with the rest of the universe 6,000 years
ago, a notion that offends many scientists.

Damadian spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take out full-page
ads in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington
Post under the headline: “The Shameful Wrong that Should be Righted.”
He argued that if he had never been born, there would be no MRI today.

Contact staff writer Faye Flam at 215-854-4977 or [email protected]

Photographer Children From Kashstakh Expose Their Works

A1 Plus | 16:54:25 | 18-03-2004 | Social |

PHOTOGRAPHER CHILDREN FROM KASHSTAKH EXPOSE THEIR WORKS

Photo exhibition opened Thursday at Alexander Tamanyan Museum. Photographers
are children ranged from 9 to 15 who attend photographic studio in their
native village of Kashatakh.

The studio director Khachik Baghdasaryan said he is unhappy about the fact
that the children have no time for lessons because they are involved in
cattle-breeding business.

At the same time, he noted proudly the kids have their attitude toward the
photo art and own taste.

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The Nobel Prize in Medicine: Was there a Religious Factor this Year?

The Nobel Prize in Medicine
Author(s): Michael Ruse

Metanexus Salus
2004.03.16.

In the op/ed piece below, Michael Ruse, Professor of the Philosophy of
Biology at Florida State University, considers the possible political
and religious issues at stake in the selection of winners of the 2003
Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. The 2003 prize was awarded to
Dr. Paul Lauterbur and Dr. Peter Mansfield for their work in magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI). Amidst the controversy surrounding the Nobel
committee’s exclusion of Dr. Raymond Damadian despite his groundbreaking
work in MRI, Ruse speculates that Damadian’s exclusion was motivated by
knowledge of his religious commitments, specifically his support of
creation science.

Michael Ruse was born in 1940 in Birmingham, England. He received a B.A.
in Philosophy and Mathematics from Bristol University in 1962, an M.A.
in Philosophy from McMaster University in 1964, and a Ph.D. from Bristol
University in 1970. Ruse has worked at the University of Guelph in
Ontario, Canada since 1965, obtaining the rank of Professor. He has been
a visiting professor and scholar at Cambridge University, Harvard
University, and Indiana University. Ruse is a fellow of the Royal
Society of Canada, the AAAS, Guggenheim, Killam, the John Templeton
Foundation, and a Gifford Lectures. Ruse is the author of many books,
including The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw. 1979;
Taking Darwin Seriously: A Naturalistic Approach to Philosophy 1986; The
Philosophy of Biology 1989; Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in
Evolutionary Biology 1996; Readings in the Philosophy of Biology, 1998
with David Hull; Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social
Construction? 1999; Can a Darwinian be a Christian? The Relationship
between Science and Religion, 2001; The Evolution Wars, 2000; The Nature
of Science, (forthcoming 2001); Darwin and Design: Science, Philosophy,
Religion, 2003; Cloning (edited volume), 2001.

–Editor

The Nobel Prize in Medicine – Was there a Religious Factor in this
Year’s (Non) Selection?

By Michael Ruse

Dr. Raymond Damadian failed to be included in this year’s Nobel honors
for work in Medicine, and feels sore about it. Although he was the
inventor of the first machine that discovers cancers through magnetic
resonance imaging, the award went to two other and somewhat subsequent
scientists, Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield. Notoriously, the Nobel
committees never reveal their deliberations (until everyone is long
dead) and never change their minds. So, although by having taken out
advertisements of protest in the New York Times and the Washington Post
may make him feel somewhat better, and draw attention to his bad luck,
Damadian seems fated to remain with the rest of us who are not Nobel
Laureates. He will join Charles Best of Banting and Best fame who
discovered the significance of insulin treatment for diabetes –
Frederick Banting and his boss J.J.R. McCleod (who was on vacation at
the time) got the award and Best the junior scientist was left out.

But perhaps Dr. Damadian does have reason to feel having been slighted
for the wrong reasons. He is not just an inventor, but also a very
prominent Christian. And not just a Christian of any bland kind, but a
Creation Scientist – one of those people who believes that the Bible,
especially including Genesis, is absolutely literally true – six days of
creation, Adam and Eve the first humans, universal flood, and all of the
rest. It is as least as likely a hypothesis that Damadian was ignored by
the Nobel committee because they did not want to award a Prize to an
American fundamentalist Christian as that they did not think his work
merited the fullest accolade. In the eyes of rational Europeans – and
Swedes are nothing if not rational Europeans – it is bad enough that
such people exist, let alone give them added status and a pedestal from
which to preach their silly ideas. Especially a scientific pedestal from
which to preach their silly anti-science ideas.

Is this unfair? One certainly feels a certain sympathy for the Nobel
committee. Creation science is wrong and (if taught to young people as
the truth) dangerous. It does represent everything against which good
science stands. However, even the best scientists believe some very
strange things, and if we start judging one area of their work in terms
of other beliefs that they have, we could well do more harm than good.
Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist of them all, had some very strange
views about the proper interpretation of such Biblical books as Daniel
and Revelation, and in respects believed things about the universe – its
past and its future – that make today’s Creation Scientists seem
comparatively mild. More recently, Alfred Russel Wallace, the
co-discoverer of natural selection along with Charles Darwin, became an
enthusiast for spiritualism, believing that there are hidden forces
controlling every aspect of life. People knew this and were embarrassed
by it, but it did not stop them from celebrating and praising Wallace’s
great scientific work. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and
given Britain’s greatest award for achievement, the Order of Merit.

All of my life I have fought for evolution and against Creationism – in
writings, on the podium, and in court in 1981 as a witness in Arkansas
against a law demanding that Creation Science be taught alongside
evolution in the state supported schools. But as one who loves science
above all and thinks it the greatest triumph of the human spirit – as
one who has no religious beliefs whatsoever – I cringe at the thought
that Raymond Damadian was refused his just honor because of his
religious beliefs. Having silly ideas in one field is no good reason to
deny merit for great ideas in another field. Apart from the fact that
this time the Creation Scientists will think that there is good reason
to think that they are the objects of unfair treatment at the hands of
the scientific community.

Kickback probe targets chief of U.N. program

Kickback probe targets chief of U.N. program

THE WASHINGTON TIMES
March 18, 2004

By Betsy Pisik

NEW YORK — The United Nations has begun an internal investigation into
accusations that a prominent U.N. official took kickbacks from the
multibillion-dollar Iraqi oil-for-food program that ended last year. The
accusations have also prompted U.S. congressional concern. The General
Accounting Office, which has been examining Iraq’s finances since May,
is preparing to brief staffers of the House International Relations
Committee tomorrow afternoon.

“There are important implications here in how the U.N. operates that are
vitally important to the oversight committees of the House and Senate,”
said committee spokesman Sam Stratman.

Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, “wants to pull
together information about the extent of this problem to determine the
options the committee has for proceeding,” he said.

Benon Sevan, the executive director of the Office of the Iraq Program at
the United Nations, is accused by some Iraqi officials of accepting oil
vouchers from Saddam Hussein’s regime. The charges are based on papers
found in the Ministry of Oil listing kickbacks and bribes.

Some 270 people, organizations and corporations were subsequently
accused of taking bribes by an Iraqi newspaper, though the claims have
not been authenticated. Nonetheless, the inclusion of Mr. Sevan in the
list has fueled long-held suspicions about the U.N. program, which sold
more than $60 billion worth of oil in 6 years.

According to reports published in Iraq, Mr. Sevan, a native of Cyprus,
received a voucher for 1.8 million barrels of Iraqi oil. At today’s
prices, the oil would be worth more than $67 million. Presumably the
bearer of the voucher could claim the oil, or consign it to a middleman
and pocket the proceeds when it was sold.

Mr. Sevan, currently on vacation and about to retire, has denied all
accusations through a U.N. spokesman.

The U.N. Inspector General’s Office, known as the Office of Internal
Oversight Services (OIOS), has begun an investigation into whether Mr.
Sevan or other U.N. officials accepted gifts or bribes from Saddam’s regime.

U.S. diplomats say they have stressed to U.N. officials that “they had
better take this investigation seriously.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has considered whether to request a
separate investigation, looking broadly into the program as a whole and
various governments’ manipulation of it. That would likely require the
approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

“We’ve begun the investigation, and so far it is procedural,” said one
U.N. official of the Sevan accusations. “There are allegations, which
you have to find out about, to understand. That’s where we are now.”

The office sent formal letters seeking assistance to the Iraqi Governing
Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority in mid-February, but
received a positive response from L. Paul Bremer’s office only on Tuesday.

OIOS “is looking for information. They’re asking us for records, and
Bremer is looking for them. We’re absolutely interested in helping the
U.N. in their investigation,” said a U.S. official.

Mr. Sevan is in Australia, according to U.N. officials, where he is
taking two months’ vacation. He is expected to return to U.N.
headquarters for about a week in April, then retire.

As the executive director of the U.N. Office of the Iraq Program since
it was established in 1997, Mr. Sevan narrowly escaped injury when the
U.N. offices in Baghdad were bombed last summer.

He has served in the U.N. system for most of his adult life.

Among his previous positions, he has been U.N. security coordinator,
deputy head of the department of political affairs, assistant director
of administration and management, and head of conference services.

Mr. Sevan spent much of 1988 through 1991 in Afghanistan and Pakistan,
monitoring the withdrawal of Soviet troops and overseeing U.N.
operations in the region.

Canada Immigration Committee to review foreign professonal creds.

PRESS RELEASE
Office of Sarkis Assadourian M.P.
120 Confederation
House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada
Contact: Daniel Kennedy
Tel: 613 995 4843

Ottawa March 18, 2004

Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
To Review Foreign Credentials Issue
Says Chair Assadourian

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Chairman of the
Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of
Commons, announced today, that the committee will undertake a study of
the issue of recognition of foreign professional credentials in
Canada.

The committee is tentatively scheduled to travel across Canada in the
coming weeks. Hearings will be held in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto,
Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver to hear witnesses present evidence
relating to the issues of recognition of professional credentials and
to explore possibilities that will allow new Canadians with
professional experience to more fully participate in growing Canada’s
economy.

Under the current system, some immigrants to Canada with professional
credentials have been unable to participate fully in the Canadian
economy because their foreign credentials have not been recognized by
the professional licensing agencies. Canadians of Chinese, East
European Indian and Pakistani origin in particular have been
affected. The committee will look for new ways to allow these talented
professionals to share their skills with their fellow Canadians.

Commenting on the upcoming business of the committee M.P. Assadourian
said, “I am extremely pleased that the Standing Committee on
Citizenship and Immigration will be studying this important issue. It
is time for us to stress the need for a re-thinking on the recognition
of foreign professional credentials to allow for skilled Immigrants to
Canada to contribute fully to Canada’s growth. I have always
considered it a tremendous waste of skill and talent when immigrants
with professional credentials were sidelined and prohibited from
realizing their full potential in Canada. We must utilize fully the
talents of foreign graduates. ”

-30-
For further information contact: Daniel Kennedy 613-995-4843

Armenian foreign minister off to Slovakia for EU conference

Armenian foreign minister off to Slovakia for EU conference

Arminfo
18 Mar 04

YEREVAN

A two-day international conference “Enlarged Europe – New Agenda”
opens in the Slovak capital, Bratislava today. Armenian Foreign
Minister Vardan Oskanyan will attend the conference. The Foreign
Ministry told Arminfo agency that the Armenian minister plans to
address the conference.

[Passage omitted: countries participating in the conference cited]