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ASBAREZ Online [03-23-2004]

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  • ASBAREZ Online [03-23-2004]


    1) EU Envoy Discusses Pending Reforms, Karabagh Regulation
    2) New Coalition in Armenia Examines Armenian Case
    3) Turkey Allows Certain Foreigners to Purchase Land
    4) Armenians in Venice to Highlight Save Venice 2004
    5) Students walk out as AGBU Announces Melkonian Closure

    1) EU Envoy Discusses Pending Reforms, Karabagh Regulation

    YEREVAN (RFE/RL)--The European Union's (EU) chief representative to the South
    Caucasus Heikki Talvitie, who is in Yerevan on a regular fact-finding tour of
    the region, met with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and the two deputy
    speakers of the Armenian parliament. The anticipated inclusion of the three
    Caucasian states in the EU's Wider European program of privileged ties with
    neighbors was again high on the agenda of the talks.
    Talvitie said that he discussed with vice-speakers Tigran Torosian and Vahan
    Hovannisian efforts to amend Armenia's constitution and a controversial
    government bill on public gatherings pending debate in the National Assembly.
    Torosian said that the draft legislation will fully correspond to European
    principles and standards before presented to parliament for consideration. He
    said it is currently being examined by the Venice Commission of the Council of
    Europe which monitors legislative reforms in Armenia.
    Unlike the Council of Europe, the EU until recently avoided close involvement
    in the promotion of Armenia's democratization, but indicated last January its
    readiness to extend the Wider Europe initiative to Armenia, Azerbaijan and
    Georgia. Membership in the scheme would require commitments on both economic
    and political reform from the three ex-Soviet states.
    A senior member of the Armenian parliament, ARF's Armen Rustamian, announced
    last week that Yerevan is ready to assume them. Torosian echoed the pledge.
    is obvious that we don't pass this stage successfully, talk of a future
    membership of the European Union will remain a wishful thinking," he said.
    Oskanian, for his part, told the EU envoy that the Wider Europe strategy will
    facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Mountainous Karabagh and
    elsewhere in the region. A Foreign Ministry statement said he and Talvitie had
    a "detailed" discussion on Karabagh. Talvitie also held a separate meeting
    Deputy Foreign Minister Tatul Markarian, who represents Armenia in the
    peace talks; the two mainly discussed regulation of the conflict.

    2) New Coalition in Armenia Examines Armenian Case


    A new coalition of Eastern Studies Experts, who have united to examine the
    Armenian Case, met on Tuesday at Yerevan State University to discuss the
    Armenian Case in a contemporary light, and priorities of Armenian National
    Committee (ANC) offices. Armenian Revolutionay Federation (ARF) Bureau
    Political and Hai Tahd Office Director Giro Manoyan, presented the activities
    of the Washington, DC, Moscow, and Brussels ANC offices that primarily advance
    Armenian Genocide recognition issues, and strive to protect the rights of
    Armenians in Mountainous Karabagh Republic and Javakhk.
    Various countries have already passed legislation recognizing the Armenian
    Genocide, informed Manoyan, but the ANC strives to gain the support of an
    increasing number of countries.
    Speaking about the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC), Manoyan
    said that it counters the work of the ANC--not because the ARF opposes
    reconciliation, but objects to TARC's approach. "Nowhere in the purpose of
    commission is the recognition of the Armenian Genocide."
    Addressing the recent denial of the Armenian Genocide by the UK Ambassador to
    Armenia, Manoyan found her actions not only unacceptable but also offensive to
    all Armenians. "It is nothing but failed diplomacy," he said. The ambassador's
    statement that the 1915 massacre of more than one million Armenians in Ottoman
    Turkey was not a genocide, has cause worldwide fury among Armenians.
    "The Armenian National Committee's priority is to convince the international
    community that Turkey is responsible for the Armenian Genocide--and is
    obligated to provide both moral and financial restitution," concluded Manoyan.

    3) Turkey Allows Certain Foreigners to Purchase Land

    TURKEY--The Turkish "Radikal" newspaper reported on Tuesday that foreigners
    will be allowed to purchase land in Turkey, but that the government will
    strictly monitor those who apply to acquire land. In fact, a commission was
    created on December 24, 2003, to monitor those foreigners who seek to purchase
    Forming the commission are representatives from the ministries of defense,
    interior, foreign affairs, and justice, Turkey's national Security Council,
    secret service (MIT), military heads, as well as representatives of offices
    dealing with property issues.
    The commission will scrutinize the possible intent and future plans of those
    non-Turkish citizens who wish to purchase property, and has formed a list of
    important and strategic locations that can not be sold to outsiders.
    While some processes will be simplified for foreigners, limitations will also
    be enforced. For example, having recently reviewed the purchase of land in the
    village of Alanya by 13,000 Germans, as well as the purchase of
    Government-owned farms by Israelis and Armenians, the commission recently
    decided that citizens of 35 countries--including Armenia--will be not be
    allowed to purchase property in Turkey. Others include citizens of Iran, Iraq,
    Afghanistan, Algeria, India, Cuba, Greece, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. Citizens
    from countries welcomed to purchase land include Germany, United States,
    Kingdom, France, Italy, Panama, Uruguay, Belize, Benin, and the Central

    4) Armenians in Venice to Highlight Save Venice 2004

    NEW YORK--Save Venice, a 35-year-old organization dedicated to supporting
    conservation projects in Venice, will present a five day celebration of the
    magnificent city's history and treasures, August 29 through September 2, 2004.
    The Gala week will feature an extraordinary Armenian dimension, in recognition
    of Laurel and Walter Karabian's major participation.
    "We are very grateful to the Karabians for introducing us to the rich legacy
    of the Armenians of Venice. Our membership is always eager to discover more
    about the diverse cultures that make this city so fascinating," expressed
    Randolph H. Guthrie, Chairman of Save Venice, Inc. "The presence of Armenians
    in Venice for nearly 1500 years can be seen in some of this exquisite city's
    most interesting locations.
    More than 1,000 years before the Abbot Mekhitar founded his monastery on the
    Island of San Lazzaro, Armenians were already leaving important footprints in
    Venice. Armenian contributions began in 551 AD when the Byzantine Emperor
    Justinian appointed his trusted aide Nerses the Armenian as Viceroy. Among
    Nerses's great contributions was the foundation of the first church ever built
    on the site of St. Mark's square. In Nerses's footprint came the architect
    Sahag, who built the Church of Santa Maria dell'Assunta on the Island of
    Torcello, the oldest surviving building in the Venetian lagoon. This basilica
    was consecrated in 639 AD by Isaac, the Armenian Exarch of Ravenna.
    From Armenia's strategic position on the Silk Road, Armenian traders and
    translators frequently interacted with Venetians including the great explorer
    Marco Polo. The Armenians established their own quarters near San Marco, which
    soon included an Apostolic Church, Holy Cross of the Armenians, on a street
    appropriately named Calle degli Armeni.
    The Mekhitarian Monastery on the Island of San Lazzaro is today the most
    prominent remnant from what was by the end of the 17th century a community of
    10,000 Venetian-Armenians. From 1816 to 1818, Lord Byron studied at San
    Lazzaro, learning the Armenian language and assisting the monks with the
    publication of an English-Armenian dictionary. The great seascape painter Ivan
    Aivazovsky (Hovhannes Aivazian), while visiting his brother Archbishop Gabriel
    Aivazovsky, immortalized the Island and the Venetian lagoon in numerous
    magnificent paintings. A number of Aivazovsky's most famous paintings can be
    found in the monastery of San Lazzaro, along with the artifacts sent by
    Armenians from around the globe for safekeeping in this amazing repository of
    Armenian culture. The San Lazzaro Library, art collections and printing press
    are legendary in the Armenian Diaspora for what they have preserved and
    The 2004 Save Venice Gala will include a luncheon in the gardens of the
    Mekhitarian Monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni hosted by the
    Karabians, followed by a special tour of the island's many treasures and a
    walking tour highlighted by the historical importance of Armenians in Venive.
    In addition, there will be a visit to the beautigul town of Udine with its
    frescoes by Tiepolo, followed by a luncheon at the charming Villa Gallici,
    visits to Venetian palaces, a private concert by the outstanding Venice
    Barouque Orchestra, a dinner at Palazzo Ducale, luncheon at the Hotel Cipriani
    and the final night's festivities at the incomparable candlelit Palazzo Pisani
    Tickets cost $3,250, of which $1500 is tax deductible, and cover
    in all the activities of the five day Gala. Children under 17 can attend all
    events except the Gala for a $500 ticket, and young adults age 17 to 39, can
    purchase tickets for all events including that Gala for $1500 per person.
    Travel and hotel arrangements are the guest's own responsibility. To
    receive an
    invitation package, please send a request by email to Karen Marshall at
    [email protected]. For more information regarding travel or group
    arrangements, please call Garbis Titizian at Levon Travel (800) 445-3866.

    5) Students walk out as AGBU Announces Melkonian Closure

    NICOSIA (Gibrahayer)--Over 200 students of the Melkonian Institute walked out
    of their classes Tuesday after news emerged that a US-based foundation that
    runs the 78-year-old school in Nicosia has decided to shut it down in June
    2005, and will sell the prime assets, whisking up to $80 million out of
    Holding placards condemning the sale, students stood at the main gate and in
    front of the founder's mausoleum, chanting "Melkonian Not for Sale."
    Headquartered in New York, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) which
    has managed the Melkonian Institute since 1928, has decided to close the
    historic school in 16 months time, without providing sufficient justification
    for its move.
    In an official announcement, the AGBU-NY said that after "extensive
    deliberations and thorough assessment, the Central Board has resolved
    unanimously to discontinue MEI in June 2005. This decision is based largely on
    the Board's conclusion that MEI no longer meets the challenges of its mission
    in the present context of the Armenian world."
    The decision is hotly challenged by the worldwide Melkonian Alumni and
    Armenian Diaspora organizations, with the Cyprus Alumni employing all means to
    overturn the decision.
    The Cyprus government, all political parties, and leading Greek Cypriot
    personalities support the efforts of the Armenian community to keep Melkonian
    open, considering the school a part of their national heritage and culture of
    the island.
    Last month, a government cabinet, headed by President Tassos Papadopoulos,
    allocated an additional aid package to keep Melkonian in Cyprus.
    Alumni representatives say the core issue is the prime land on which the
    school is located and the intention of the AGBU to sell the land and whisk up
    to $80 million out of Cyprus, to use for unspecified purposes. They said that
    the move also violates the provisions of the will of the Melkonian brothers,
    who established the school in 1926, initially as an orphanage for children
    surviving the Genocide.
    The Alumni intends to bring in international experts to strengthen its
    defense, as it moves to contest the decision and block sale plans in courts,
    and has already sought legal advice from law firms in Cyprus and abroad.
    "It is not just a matter of the sale of the land and the flight of some 80
    million dollars to the US, in violation of a 1926 will by the founders, but
    also abuse of the rights of Armenian children who are being deprived of their
    human right to a fair education based on their cultural heritage," says the
    The local Armenian community plans a mass demonstration on March 24 in front
    of Melkonian to show its disdain at the decision, and to raise awareness among
    the Cypriot population to ignore a press marketing campaign employed by the
    US-based organization.
    Melkonian students are facing the risk of being expelled, according to Masis
    Der Parthogh, the vice president of the school's Alumni Association.
    He argued that officials of the AGBU based in New York have sent warning
    messages that they would expel any school children who take part in any
    activities or demonstrations opposed to the Melkonian's closure.
    The same students, however, seem fearless of any repercussions as they stayed
    away from classes yesterday and the day before.
    Furthermore, they are getting ready to take part in the large
    demonstration on
    Wednesday. The vice president of the Alumni, whose daughter is also a student
    at the school, said that the children have lost their will to attend classes,
    as they know that in fifteen months' time, their school will be shut down. He
    added, however, that the Armenian community of Cyprus will not give up so
    easily and will use every legal means possible to overturn the decision.
    Meanwhile, the Alumni Association recently sent a letter to the Presidential
    Palace, protesting that the agency handling public relations for AGBU has
    strong ties to a leading political state official.
    Local TV and radio stations, as well as Cypriot press have given widespread
    coverage to the sale of Melkonian.

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