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05/03/2004
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1) PACE Resolution Does Not Establish Winners or Losers
2) Georgia Sets Deadline Rebel Ajaria to Conform
3) Armenian Supplies Again Hindered By Ajaria Standoff
4) Several Javakhk Roads Set for Renovation
5) Hovik Hoveyan Becomes Culture and Youth Issues Minister
6) Let the 29th Navasartian Games Begin
7) Just Music for Just Cause

1) PACE Resolution Does Not Establish Winners or Losers

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)--Deputy Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian said on
Monday that the resolution on the political situation in Armenia adopted by
the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) last week, establishes
neither losers nor winners in Armenia. "Some people are trying to attribute
ludicrous victories and defeats to themselves or their opponents. This is not
about winning or losing."
Torosian, the head of the Armenian delegation at PACE, said the resolution
does not refer to a referendum of confidence, saying that Council of Europe
Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, in meeting with the Armenian delegation,
instead directed opposition MPs to get off the streets and return to the
parliament. Torosian called for an end to misinterpretations of the PACE
resolution.
PACE Armenia rapporteur Jerzy Jaskiernia made it clear last week that the
Council of Europe should not question the legitimacy of last year's Armenian
presidential and parliamentary elections because the fraud surrounding the
elections was "not so extensive that we could disqualify the result." "The
election naturally delivered results, and now many people are satisfied, so
our
approach to Armenia should be objective and balanced," he said.
Another member of the Armenian delegation to PACE, Shavarsh Kocharian told
the
same press conference that the PACE resolution, calling on the authorities and
the opposition to enter in a dialogue without preconditions, in effect refers
to a referendum of confidence.
Aram Sarkisian of the Artarutyun alliance went as far as to describe the
resolution as an "ultimatum" to Kocharian. "All the calls are directed to the
authorities," he said, adding that the opposition regards the PACE stance
as an
endorsement of its campaign for Kocharian's resignation.
Following an urgent debate on the situation in Armenia, the resolution
adopted
by PACE last week called on Armenian authorities to allow for peaceful
demonstrations, to release those detained during recent demonstrations, to
immediately investigate any reported human rights abuses that took place, and
to create fair conditions for the media
The resolution also called on the opposition to achieve its goals within the
constitutional framework--stressing that both sides should engage in a
peaceful
dialogue without preconditions.
The Assembly gave Armenia until the opening of the September session to
realize progress on its demands, at which time the credentials of the Armenian
delegation will be reconsidered.
Meanwhile, opposition leaders in Yerevan reaffirmed their decision to hold a
"decisive" demonstration against Kocharian on Tuesday. They refused to specify
what exactly they will tell supporters to do. Sarkisian did not rule out the
possibility of another opposition march towards the presidential palace in
Yerevan.


2) Georgia Sets Deadline Rebel Ajaria to Conform

TBILISI (Reuters)--President Mikhail Saakashvili told the restive Ajaria
region
on Sunday to submit to Georgian law and disarm militias after rebels blew up
two bridges to stop what they said was an imminent Georgian military
incursion.

Saakashvili said that if Ajaria failed to meet his 10-day deadline, similar to
past warnings, he would dissolve its local institutions, remove Ajarian leader
Aslan Abashidze, and call new elections.
Saakashvili had earlier held a session of the Security Council in response to
the explosions cutting Ajaria's road links with the rest of the country. He
returned to Tbilisi after attending military maneuvers north of Ajaria.
"We have decided one last time to give a deadline to Aslan Abashidze,"
Saakashvili told reporters. "We will give him 10 days to return to Georgia's
constitution framework ... restore normal legal activities in the region and
begin disarming."
If Ajaria failed to do so, Saakashvili vowed to "dissolve local state bodies
and hold new local elections...giving the Ajarian people the opportunity for
free
choice."
One bridge across the Choloki River serves as the main crossing point into
Ajaria, while the second runs through the village of Kakuti, near the border.
Television pictures showed an explosion being conducted at one bridge and the
wrecked span of another, with concrete slabs fallen into the river.
Hundreds of
armed men gathered nearby.

NEARBY MANEUVERS

Abashidze, interviewed by Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, said the action was
intended to rule out any movement south by Georgia's military from the site of
the maneuvers up the coast.
"According to our data, some units of the Georgian armed forces taking part in
the maneuvers...set up tents only a kilometer from the border," Abashidze was
quoted as saying in the region's main town Batumi.
Officials, he said, had decided "it was vital to take preventive security
measures." The proximity of the maneuvers and statements by the military had
"created serious dangers. Military equipment and bases must be withdrawn from
the area."
Television has shown tanks and up to 2,000 troops passing through fields in
the "Dioskuria-2004" maneuvers, the largest in post-Soviet Georgia, to protect
oil pipelines, raid illegal drug producers and evacuate people from crisis
zones.
Saakashvili denied there was any plan to move into Ajaria.
"No one is trying to invade Ajaria," he said. "Had we wanted to do so,
bridges
would not in any event be necessary."
Ajaria is one of three regions operating beyond the control of Georgia's
government but, unlike the others, has not declared independence. Abashidze
runs the region as a fiefdom, presiding over armed forces and declining to pay
taxes to the budget.
Georgia and Ajaria came close to military confrontation in March when
Saakashvili was prevented from entering the region during an election
campaign.
Both sides put forces on alert.
Talks then between the two leaders produced a deal to ease tension, but the
agreement has all but collapsed.
Saakashvili, backed by Washington, was elected in January after leading a
bloodless revolution that ousted veteran leader Eduard Shevardnadze. He has
called for the Ajarian leader's removal, but vows to use only peaceful means.


3) Armenian Supplies Again Hindered By Ajaria Standoff

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)--The Armenian government was taking urgent measures on Monday
to minimize the economic fallout from a renewed standoff between Georgia's
central government and the restive region of Ajaria that disrupted cargo
traffic via a key Black Sea port.
Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian said that the
government is "doing everything" to reroute landlocked Armenia's number one
supply line passing through the Ajar capital Batumi.
Transport communication with Batumi's port became impossible on Sunday after
the Ajar authorities blew up two bridges connecting the autonomous republic to
the rest of Georgia.
Ajaria's strongman ruler Aslan Abashidze, said he ordered the explosions to
prevent Georgian troops from invading the Black Sea region.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili responded by issuing Abashidze with a
ten-day ultimatum to submit to Georgian rule or face expulsion from power.
Saakashvili, at the same time, reiterated his pledge to use only peaceful
means
in attempting to reassert Tbilisi's control over Ajaria.
According to Manukian, a ferry carrying 63 freight cars laden with
Armenia-bound fuel and other goods was left stranded in Batumi's port. He said
his ministry is now trying to redirect the ferry to Georgia's second major
Black Sea port, Poti.
"We have no other cargoes in Batumi at the moment," Manukian said. "We have
reached agreements with the Georgian side and there are no problems with the
transit of our rail cars."
Armenia already had to divert its commercial traffic with the outside world
from Batumi to Poti when a similar crisis broke out last March. A transport
blockade imposed on Ajaria by the central government caused delays in
shipments
of goods to and from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia as the Poti port
struggled to cope with the increased cargo turnover. The three impoverished
states avoided serious financial losses at the time as the blockade lasted for
only several days.


4) Several Javakhk Roads Set for Renovation

AKHALKALAK (Armenpress)--After visiting Georgia's mostly Armenian populated
region of Javakhk, a Georgian delegation has allocated approximately one
million dollars for the reconstruction of roads in the area.
A Georgian Infrastructure and Development ministry delegation headed by
Tamara
Sulukhian made the decision after its visit to Javakhk on April 30.
Deputy Minister Genati Muratian, said the funds will cover reconstruction of
roads in Jdanovka (on the Armenia-Georgia border), Ninotcminda,
Aspinza-Akhalkalak, Kartsakh-Akhalkalak, Ninotsminda-Akhalkalak, as well city
streets in Ninotsminda and Akhalkalak.
Muratian noted that massive reconstruction efforts are expected in the future
for roads in Kartsakh-Akhalkalak and Tsalka-Ninotsminda.
Kartsakh-Akhalkalak is
being targeted because of plans to establish a new customs service in Kartsakh
on the Turkish-Georgian border, while Tsalka-Ninotsminda will shorten the
route
between Tbilisi-Javakhk, and the Tbilisi-Turkish border.


5) Hovik Hoveyan Becomes Culture and Youth Issues Minister

YEREVAN (Armenpress)President Robert Kocharian dismissed Armenia's Minister
for
Culture and Youth Issues Tamar Poghosian, and appointed Hovik Hoveyan to
replace her.


6) Let the 29th Navasartian Games Begin

LOS ANGELES--On Sunday, May 2nd, Homenetmen's 29th Annual Navasartian Games
officially opened with the lighting of the Navasartian torch at Homenetmen
Glendale Ararat chapter's athletic center. The Navasartian games span a period
of two months with a dynamic closing ceremony and festival Fourth of July
weekend.
Official guests at the ceremony included Homenetmen Central Executive Members
Manuel Marselian and Mher Tavitian, ARF Central Executive member and
Homenetmen
member Anahid Stepanian, honorary president of the 28th Navasartian Games
Sarkis Kitsinian, ARS Central Executive member Hasmig Derderian, Glendale
Unified School District Board of Education President Greg Krikorian, and
Haroutiun Kojoian of the Armenian Consulate in Los Angeles.
Also, present at the event were Haroutiun Parseghian, one of the original
founders of Homenetmen Western Region, and Hagop Ovaian, chairman of the
regional executive board that created the Navasartian Games 29 years ago.


7) Just Music for Just Cause

By ANI SHAHINIAN
Asbarez Staff Writer

LOS ANGELESFrom their popular hit "Aerials," a surprise rendition of the
Armenian love song "Arants Kez" (Without You), to a moving instrumental
version
of the patriotic song "Sardarabad," April 24 at the Greek Theater proved to be
an emotional night unparalleled, as it formed an unspeakable bond among
Armenians there. The boys of System Of A Down had a missionto magnify the
overt
and intentional omission of the Armenian Genocide by the US Congress and
successive administrations. And they did just that, especially by reaching out
to youth, both Armenian and non-Armenian, at the SOULS 2004 Benefit concert.
Band members--Serj Tankian, vocals; Daron Malakian, guitars; bassist Shavo
Odadjian, and drummer John Dolmayan--all of Armenian descent--have been very
active in supporting this cause for years. SOULS 2004 is the most recent in
the
band's ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide and other
global abuses of human rights.
The band transferred its intense and emotional energy to the audience
throughout the concert. Their politics on the Bush administration's
shortcomings and the blatant denial of the Genocide by Turkey were vocalized,
as the audience enthusiastically applauded and roared in agreement.
Although the night was electrifying from the moment the band took to the
stage, it reached its climax when Daron mesmerized the audience--specifically
Armenians--when he poignantly sang "Arantz Kez." Everyone seemed to look at
each other in awe, desperately trying to figure out what the name of the
beautiful song.
After much speculation, a hunch that the song belongs to Paul Baghdadlian,
and
a week of seeking out hard core Paul fans--Asbarez finally learned the song's
name (Daron, surely did the song great justice).
The evening's last song, "P.L.U.C.K. (Politically Lying, Unholy, Cowardly
Killers)," appropriately commemorated the 89th anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide, as Tankian sang:

A whole race Genocide,
Taken away all of our pride,
A whole race Genocide,
Taken away, Watch Them all fall down.

Revolution, the only solution,
The armed response of an entire nation,
Revolution, the only solution,
We've taken all your s***, now it's time for restitution.

Recognition, Restoration, Reparation,
Recognition, Restoration, Reparation.

Tankian expressed wholehearted appreciation for making it one of the band's
most memorable nights. The audience, in turn, thanked them through their
standing ovations, relentless applause, and ear-piercing hollering for making
it a memorable experience for all their fans.
Before exiting the stage, however, System had another surprise up their
sleeves for the Armenians in the audience--an instrumental version of the
patriotic song "Sardarabad." Whether you remembered all the words or only a
few
lines here and there, the lyrics were heard throughout the theater.
The concert came to an end, much to the disappointment of all; the audience
lingered, hoping the band would reemerge to once more provide an unwavering
sense of hopethat perhaps the Armenian Genocide would be recognized soonand
reaffirm the pain of war, the senseless loss of lives.
Though the band alone cannot carry the burden of such a major task, they
provide a creative outlet for educating the public not through the usual,
mundane rhetoric, but through their powerful music that speaks to all. They
have taken the fame they so rightly earned and deserve, using it productively,
especially on an issue so close to their heartsjustice to all in our world.
Daron at one point told the audience he only dreamed of performing to such an
audience; and we only dreamed of being that proud audience.


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