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06/30/2005
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1) Schiff Introduces Bill Urging End to Turkish Blockade of Armenia
2) Erdogan Visits Azerbaijan to Boost Ties
3) Germany~Rs Turkish Intellectuals Want Turkey to Recognize Armenian Genocide
4) New Karabagh Assembly Elects Leaders
5) Oskanian Arrives in Lebanon

1) Schiff Introduces Bill Urging End to Turkish Blockade of Armenia

Chairman Hyde agrees to mark-up bill in committee

WASHINGTON, DC--Late yesterday, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced a
bill urging the President and Secretary of State to call on Turkey to
immediately lift its ongoing blockade of Armenia. Congressman Frank Pallone
(D-NJ) was an original co-sponsor of the bill.
This bill also requires a report from the Secretary of State within 30
days of
final passage that will outline steps taken by the US to end Turkey's blockade
of Armenia. The State Department has estimated that the blockade is inflating
Armenia's transportation costs by 30-35%. The blockade also prevents the US
and
international humanitarian assistance from crossing its borders, which is a
violation of US law and international humanitarian standards.
House International Relations Committee Chairman, Henry Hyde (R-IL), has
agreed to a subcommittee mark-up on Schiff's bill in July and a full committee
mark-up shortly after the August recess. A mark-up is the final obstacle a
bill
must overcome before a vote by the full House of Representatives is possible.
"It is time to step-up pressure on Turkey to lift the draconian blockade of
Armenia, allowing desperately needed humanitarian assistance into the country,
and permitting Armenian businesses to compete fully in the global economy.
I am
grateful for Chairman Hyde's commitment to a timely hearing on my bill," said
Schiff.
"President Bush and the Secretary of State can no longer stand by and allow
Turkey to blockade Armenia without voicing any opposition or concern," said
Congressman Frank Pallone. "The time is long overdue for Congress to send the
Bush administration a strong message that it's time to terminate this blockade
so Armenia can realize its full economic potential."
"The Armenian National Committee of America welcomes Congressman Schiff's
legislation, requiring a State Department report on any steps it has
taken--and
any actions it plans to take in the future--to bring an end to Turkey's
illegal
blockade of Armenia," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian
National Committee of America. "We look forward to helping Congressmen Schiff,
Pallone, and other sponsors of this measure to work toward final passage in
the
House of Representatives."
Congressman Schiff is the co-founder of the Democratic Study Group on
National
Security and a member of both the House Judiciary and International Relations
committees. He represents California's 29th Congressional District, which
includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East
San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena,
and Temple City.


2) Erdogan Visits Azerbaijan to Boost Ties

BAKU (Combined Sources)--Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began his
two day official visit to Azerbaijan on Wednesday, in an effort to boost
already close ties and trade links.
Marking his first official visit to the country as Prime Minister, Erdogan
met
with Azeri president Ilham Aliyev to discuss issues including cooperation in
the oil-and-gas industry and steps toward a possible settlement of the
Karabagh
conflict.
Thanking the Prime Minister for Turkey's position and support on the Karabagh
conflict, Aliyev expressed confidence that the visit will serve as an
important
catalyst for further development of the political, economic, and cultural
relationship between the two countries.
Recalling Heydar Aliyev's "One nation, two states," slogan, Erdogan noted,
"Turkey has always been side by side with Azerbaijan, and this policy will be
continued in the future." He said that in addition to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines, which "were of exceptional
significance for Azerbaijan and Turkey," the countries would also develop
their
trade cooperation.
On the issue of the Russian military base transfer from Georgia to Armenia,
Erdogan clarified that Turkey could only serve as a "passive onlooker" in the
situation, "without trying to sway Russia's decision."
On May 30, Russia and Georgia agreed that Russia's two bases pull out by
2008.
The withdrawal of military hardware from the Akhalkalak base near the
Georgian-Armenian border is scheduled for 2006 and the facility's closure is
due the following year. The Batumi base, on the Black Sea coast, will close in
2008.
Reports have said the Turkish leader is also expected to urge Azerbaijan to
pursue democratic reforms ahead of the country's November elections.
Earlier this week in an interview with CNN-Turk television, Aliyev said he
ruled out the possibility of a popular uprising in Azerbaijan similar to those
that occurred in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
Aliyev, however, pledged that the November vote would be "bright, democratic
and transparent."
Erdogan is expected to address Azeri parliamentarians and meet with Turkish
and Azeri business people.


3) Germany~Rs Turkish Intellectuals Want Turkey to Recognize Armenian Genocide

BERLIN--A group calling for an end to Turkey's official denial of the Armenian
genocide held a vigil on June 29 in Berlin, directly across the Turkish
Consulate there. Interestingly, the gathering was organized by a group of
Turkish intellectuals, who call themselves "Turks of Berlin."
Approximately 25 people--Turks and Germans alike--conducted the 5-hour vigil,
calling on Turkey to officially recognize the genocide of Armenians by the
government of Ottoman Turkey, and to issue an apology to the descendents of
the
Genocide.
The group displayed a banner that read in Armenian, German, and Turkish: "I
denounce the genocide of 1915, and apologize to the Armenian people." They
also
made available photos depicting the Armenian genocide, and lit candles.
The following day, Turks and Armenians debated the topic: "Were Armenians the
Victim of Genocide 90 years ago, in the Ottoman Empire." According to German
Security Services, Turkish nationalist groups in Germany, including Milli
Gorus
(National Vision) organized an exhibit to counter the efforts.
Milli Gorus is an organization of Turkish immigrants in Europe, composed of
members of the former Turkish Welfare Party and the fascist Gray Wolves. Their
aim is to shield Turkish immigrants from Western cultural and political
influences.
Organizers of the debate, which took place in Bremen, were not concerned with
the efforts of the Turkish groups.


4) New Karabagh Assembly Elects Leaders

YEREVAN--Karabagh's new parliament held its first session on Thursday and
elected its leadership. The new speaker of the local assembly is Ashot Ghulian
the leader of the Democratic Party of Artsakh (AZhK). Ghulian resigned as
Karabagh's minister of education and culture before taking up the new post. He
had previously served as foreign minister.
In his acceptance speech, Ghulian pledged to adhere to "good traditions of
the
previous parliament." The parliament's deputy speaker, Rudik Hyusnunts, is a
senior member of the Azat Hayrenik (Free Fatherland) party that finished
second
with 10 seats.
Other Azat Hayrenik deputies, including the party's leader Arayik
Harutiunian,
were elected as chairmen of two of the Karabagh National Assembly six standing
committees.
Ghukasian, insisting that the election, monitored by over a hundred
representatives of foreign non-governmental organizations, was "truly free,
fair and transparent," urged lawmakers to be "active" in their work in
order to
make government more efficient.


5) Oskanian Arrives in Lebanon

BEIRUT--Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian arrived in Lebanon on Wednesday
evening to take part in the celebrations dedicated to the 50th anniversary of
the Beirut-based Armenian Haigazian University. Oskanian will serve as keynote
speaker.
During his three-day visit, Oskanian will meet with Lebanon's top government
officials, as well as with family members of the late former Prime Minister
Rafik Hariri.
Oskanian is also scheduled to meet with Catholicos Aram I, Haigazian
University faculty, and members of the local Armenian community.


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