Damascus: Sheikh Kaftaro meets Armenian religious leader in Syria

Kaftaro/ Meeting

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
May 24 2004

The Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Ahmad Kaftaro asserted that the
Arab nation is rich with values and culture that call for modernization
and development.

In a meeting with Archbishop Armash Nalindian, Head of the Armenian
Orthodox community, Kaftaro highlighted the national unity and
religious tolerance Syria is witnessing.

Both sides called on the international community and legitimacy to
play an effective role in halting the dangerous violations perpetrated
by the forces of aggression and injustice under complete absence of
the international law.

H. Zein- A. F. ZAHRA

Federer aims to bury the French Open jinx

Federer aims to bury the French Open jinx

The Star Online
Monday May 24, 2004

Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Roger Federer will have to take
the hard road if he is bury his embarrassing French Open jinx when
the second Grand Slam event of the season gets underway here today.

The Swiss world number one, widely considered the finest player of
the current generation, has suffered successive first round defeats
on the slow, red clay of Roland Garros in the last two years.

To add to his problems, he could face triple Roland Garros champion
Gustavo Kuerten in the third round here with Argentina’s David
Nalbandian and former world number one Marat Safin of Russia waiting
to pounce later in the draw.

However, with defending champion Juan Carlos Ferrero horribly out of
form with a wrist injury and with serious doubts over US Open winner
Andy Roddick’s ability to adapt his booming game to the slow surface,
there may never be a better opportunity for Federer to triumph here.

Ferrero must face former world number two Tommy Haas of Germany in
his first round match.

Federer also has the added psychological advantage of having defeated
another leading rival Guillermo Coria in the final of the Hamburg
Masters, ending the Argentinian’s 31-match unbeaten run on clay in
the process.

“I’m more relaxed now. The last two years, I went to Paris with very
high hopes. I thought that if I had been in the quarter-finals of the
French Open in 2001 and had won Hamburg in 2002, I can do better at
the French,” said Federer whose win in Germany was his fourth of the
year and 15th of his career.

History says otherwise.

In 2002, he was dumped out of the first round here by Morocco’s Hicham
Arazi while last year it was the turn of Peru’s Luis Horna to take
the Swiss player’s scalp in straight sets.

Federer’s best showing here remains his 2001 quarter-final finish
and he is aware that with Ferrero having not played for a month,
it is Coria who remains a major threat.

The 22-year-old Argentinian is a master of clay where he has won
all of his eight titles, the most recent of which was in Monte Carlo
last month.

Reigning US Open champion Roddick also has a lot to prove.

Like Federer, he has lost in the first round here on his last two
visits with his 2003 exit at the hands of Armenia’s Sargis Sargsian
prompting him to enlist Andre Agassi’s former coach Brad Gilbert to
help him out of his slump.

It certainly had the desired effect with the young American taking
his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September.

Agassi, now 34, remains many people’s sentimental favourite to add
the trophy to his 1999 triumph as he sets out on his 16th French
Open campaign.

But his build-up has not been impressive.

He made a first round exit at St Poelten on Monday at the hands of
world number 339 Nenad Zimonjic in what was his first clay court
outing of the season.

Safin will also be a contender after a miserable 2003 campaign which
was wrecked by injury.

The Russian was a semi-finalist here in 2002 and hammered home his
recovery by making the final of the Australian Open in January. – AFP

Armenian FM meets with Qatar Ambassador to Armenia


May 24 2004

YEREVAN, MAY 22, ARMENPRESS: On May 24 Armenian minister of foreign
affairs Vartan Oskanian received Saleh Ibrahim al-Kuari of Qatar,
who also serves as ambassador to Armenia with residence in Tehran,
Iran. The ambassador presented the duplicate of his credentials to
the minister.

According to Armenian foreign ministry press services, the sides
discussed Armenia’s close cooperation with Arab countries and boosting
cooperation with Qatar as well.

The foreign minister informed that Armenia is interested in developing
relation with countries of Persian Gulf and Qatar in particular. These
relations have set on a new level after Armenian president’s visit
to that country.

The sides also conferred regional situation and developments.

Armenian pilots arrested in Malabo not guilty, diplomat says


May 24 2004

YEREVAN, MAY 24, ARMENPRESS: Armenian ambassador to Egypt, Sergey
Manaserian and a senior diplomat from Armenian foreign ministry
traveled on May 10 to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea,
where six Armenian nationals had been in custody since March 9
on charges of being involved in a coup, planned to overthrow this
country’s president.

Armenians were among 20 foreigners, arrested in Equatorial Guinea
and all accused of conspiring to overthrow the government of that
country. They are Ashot Karapetian, captain of the AN-12 crew,
second pilot Samvel Darbinian, aeronautical engineer Ashot Simonian,
navigator Samvel Matchkalyan, flight engineer Razmik Khachatrian
and technician-engineer Suren Muradyan According to the Central
Administrative Board of the Civil Aviation of Armenia, the crew worked
for Tiga Air and were running chartered trade flights inside Central
Africa. But authorities in Equatorial Guinea insist that the flight
crew were part of a planned coup to overthrow President Teodoro
Nguema. The Armenian diplomats spent a week in Equatorial Guinea to
learn what their fate might be and discuss possibilities for their
release with local senior officials.

Ambassador Manaserian told Armenpress that the main goal of the visit
was to learn the conditions in which Armenians are being kept and help
their soon release, “as we have a strong belief that they are not
guilty.” The ambassador said messages from president Kocharian and
Catholicos Karekin II had been conveyed to the country’s president
through foreign minister of that country, asking for the release
of Armenians.

Manaserian said they had been given an opportunity to meet with
all six Armenians to see that their physical condition was normal,
they were given food and medical aid. “We were allowed to talk with
them for two hours in Armenian, therefore they had no restrictions
in transferring information to us. The chief of the crew was even
allowed to have a telephone conversation with Yerevan,” Manaserian
said, adding that the pilots reject all charges.

“Judging from our impressions we have come to believe that they were
not involved in the ascribed crime,” Manaserian said. Armenians will
most likely be tried by an Equatorial Guinean court between June
5-20. Manaserian said he believed they will be set free because of
lack of guilt. He said the Armenian delegation will pay another visit
to Equatorial Guinea before the start of the trial.

“They are among the best pilots of all times in Armenia. They are
professional pilots and honest people,” Manaserian said.

Angolans ‘should face EG trial’

Angolans ‘should face EG trial’

19/05/2004 20:37 – (SA)

Malabo – Angolans among a group of 15 people accused of plotting a
coup in Equatorial Guinea should face trial in the central African
country, says their ambassador.

“Mercenaries identified as Angolans or South African-Angolans should
answer for their actions to Equatorial Guinean justice,” said envoy
Emilio José de Carvalho late on Tuesday, quoted on state radio.

On March 6, the Equatorial Guinean government announced the arrest
in Malabo of 15 men suspected to be mercenaries, whom they accused
of preparing to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on behalf of an
exiled opposition leader.

The group included Angolans, Armenians and South Africans, some of
Angolan origin.

There was also one German, who died after “an attack of cerebral
malaria”, according to the authorities.

De Carvalho, who lives in Libreville, capital of neighbouring Gabon,
came to Obiang Nguema with a message from Angolan President José
Eduardo dos Santos, said the radio broadcast.

Ruled with an iron rod

“Angola cannot allow some of its citizens to bring death and misery to
other peoples,” said the ambassador, according to the radio report,
which added that the contents of the presidential message were not

The government of Obiang, who has ruled the small tropical country
with an iron grip since 1979, expects Zimbabwe to extradite a further
group of 70 men arrested in Harare on March 7 and accused there of
planning to fly on to take part in the coup.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe earlier this month held talks with
Obiang after which an official said Mugabe had agreed to hand over
the men for trial and a possible death sentence in Equatorial Guinea.

However, there has not been any official statement from the Zimbabwe
government about extradition of the 70 men.

A lawyer for the 70 men, who come from South Africa, Namibia and
Angola but were almost all travelling on South African passports,
on Tuesday announced potential legal action against South Africa’s
government unless it helped the men.

They have asked the government to either seek their extradition to
South Africa or provide assurances that they will not be handed over
for trial in Equatorial Guinea, said the lawyer.

Edited by Iaine Harper

Iran-Armenia commerce chamber opens branch in Tebriz


May 24 2004

TEBRIZ, MAY 24, ARMENPRESS: The branch of Iran-Armenia commerce
chamber was inaugurated on May 23 in the Iranian city of Tebriz in
the premises of the local trade-industrial and mines chamber.

According to Sadegh Najafi, head of trade department at the governor’s
office of Eastern Atrpatakan (Azerbaijan), said a substantial portion
of bilateral trade is carried out by Tebriz-located businessmen. He
said eighty percent of businessmen involved in trade with Armenia
are from Tebriz and the province, who also use Armenia as a transit
route to taking their goods to neighboring Georgia.

Najafi said negotiations are underway to extend the area of free
zone from Julfa toward Norduz border check point, aimed at granting
businessmen from both countries a set of privileges.

Levon Aharonian, president of board of directors of the joint
Iranian-Armenian commerce chamber, said the new branch will facilitate
trade between the two nations and forge closer ties.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Ministry of Culture & Youth to pay more attention to youth in region


May 24 2004

YEREVAN, MAY 22, ARMENPRESS: On May 21-23 a festival “Young creative
workers” was held in Ijevan. The aim was to discover the young talents
in the region and give them a change of serf-identification.

The first day of the festival was opened with an exhibition of
paintings, graphics, handicraft and decorative works. On the second
day a round table was held titled ‘The challenges of youth in frontier
regions and the ways to solve them’. On the third day of the festival
a delegation of culture and youth ministry, headed by deputy minister
Lilit Asatrian, participated in the festival. A decision was made to
create a youth council, affiliated with Tavush governor’s office. The
council will be made of community youth, youth NGOs, student councils
and public and private agencies, which can support the council in
its activities.

The festival was concluded with a concert of young performers.

According to Lilit Asatrian, the youth in the regions does not get
sufficient attention. The ministry will hold more such events and
visits to the regions. The deputy minister informed that the ministry
is going to hold events in Vayots Dzor, Gegharkunik and Shirak regions
by June and in other regions of Armenia by the end of the year.

Armenians & Georgians in Tsalka make peace


May 24 2004

TSALKA, MAY 21, ARMENPRESS: Ethnic Armenians in Georgia’s region of
Tsalka and local Georgians have reportedly overcome the tension that
was caused by recent clashes between them deciding to organize a joint
concert on May 26, the day when Georgia celebrates independence day
in a sign of friendship, the local A-Info news agency reported.

Ethnic Armenians comprise 57% of population of Tsalka district in Kvemo
Kartli region with population around 20,000. Also 4,500 ethnic Greeks,
2,500 ethnic Georgians, up to 2,000 Azerbaijanis live in the Tsalka
district. Local officials described clashes between ethnic Georgians
and Armenians as “a communal violence.”

London: Revealed: the peanut tycoon who owns Livingstone’s City Hall

Revealed: the peanut tycoon who owns Livingstone’s City Hall
by John Waples and Dan Box

Sunday Times (London)
May 23, 2004, Sunday

A SECRETIVE Swiss-based businessman has emerged as the mystery owner
of City Hall, the headquarters of London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone.

After months of anonymity which have led to questions being asked in
the House of Commons, The Sunday Times can reveal that the offices
are owned by London Bridge Holdings, a Bahamas-based company.

The firm’s principal shareholder has been identified as Dikran
Izmirlian, 77, who made his fortune by creating a near-monopoly on
the world’s peanut market.

The news is likely to come as a surprise to Livingstone, who has
shown no evidence of knowing who controls the company with which he
has agreed a 25-year lease for his office.

Izmirlian, who is of Armenian descent, is chairman and chief executive
of Alimenta, a company that has built up a big interest in the Gambian
peanut, or groundnut, market.

By establishing effective control of the processing and export of
groundnuts, Alimenta soon became vital to the country where 70%
of the population rely on the annual harvest for their livelihood.

In 1999, Gambia’s government accused Alimenta of money laundering
and seized processing plants belonging to the company.

Alimenta successfully sued Gambia in international courts and, in 2001,
the Gambian government agreed to pay $ 11.4m (£6.37m) in compensation,
money that was partly met using grants from the EU.

Little is known about Mr Izmirlian, who has chosen not to make public
his involvement in the City Hall site.

He is registered as the director of Alimenta UK Ltd, a shell company
with total assets of £100 and no record of having traded in this
country. Its registered address turns out to be that of Lovells,
a London law firm.

Documents lodged with Companies House, however, show that Izmirlian
now lives in Switzerland and has Swiss nationality.

His son, Sarkis Izmirlian, is registered as living in Lyford Cay,
an exclusive residential enclave on Paradise Island in the Bahamas,
where he also claims nationality.

Despite holding a Swiss passport, Dikran Izmirlian has roots in
Armenia. In 1994 he established the Izmirlian Foundation in Armenia’s
capital, Yerevan, to support education and business in the country.

The foundation provides loans of up to $500,000 to encourage local

Other philanthropic work involves funding construction work at the
city’s university library, military academy and religious institutions.

The extent of Izmirlian’s interests in commercial property development
in this country or abroad are unknown.

What is known is that London Bridge Holdings owns the entire 13-acre
site on which City Hall is situated. The development also includes
the European headquarters of Ernst & Young and the Hewitt, Bacon and
Woodrow consultancy.

The site is the second- largest commercial development in London and
lies on the city’s south bank, between Tower Bridge and London Bridge.

Originally bankrolled by the German Depfa bank and CIT Group, London
Bridge Holdings assumed sole ownership of the site in 2002. The group
has recently completed a £460m refinancing facility underwritten by
Royal Bank of Scotland.

With this capital, it now hopes to finish development of the site.

The international law firm Norton Rose has reportedly entered into
negotiations to base its new headquarters in the development.

There are also plans for a 245-bed, four-star hotel, which has been
pre-let to the Hilton Group.

Armenia has no intention to join NATO


Agency WPS
May 24, 2004, Monday

The issue of NATO accession is not included into Armenia’s agenda
on foreign policy, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan said at
his press conference last Friday.

“The reply to the question regarding Armenia’s joining NATO is clear
initially, since the Armenian leaders have repeatedly declared that
this problem is not included into the agenda on foreign policy,”
the minister said.

S. Sarkisyan also said that in the immediate future Armenia has no
intention to pull out from CSTO. The minister noted that Armenia’s
involvement in CSTO is among the major components of Armenia’s
national security.