10 May 06

A conference on regional prospects will be held May 17 and 18 in
Yerevan, entitled "The Caucasus Without Terrorism and Conflicts:
Dialogue of Civilizations in the Caucasus Crossroad." The conference
is organized by National Center Dialogue of Civilizations NGO. The
president of the board is Aram Gaspari Sargsyan, leader of the
Democratic Party of Armenia. He informed about the conference on May 10
in a press conference at the National Press Club. It is notable that
the conference is supported by Ara Abrahamyan, the president of the
Union of Armenians of Russia. What is interesting about it? may ask
the reader. It becomes interesting starting with the moment when Aram
Gaspari Sargsyan presents the geography of the invited participants of
the conference: Russia, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, NKR and Azerbaijan. Only
experts are invited. The conference is not related with the ruling
circles. It is uncertain whether the Azerbaijani guests will attend
to the conference because they said they had problems in their own
country. Besides, European experts have been invited from Germany
and Switzerland. In this connection it is interesting that they did
not invite experts from the United States to conduct science-based
debates on the future of the Caucasus, whereas the United States
is one of the most active architects of the future of the Caucasus,
if not the most active one.

It became clear from Aram Gaspari Sargsyan's words that the Americans
were not invited for financial reasons. The expenses are covered by the
organizers, and they do not have money to invite experts from America.

"We have informed the U.S. Embassy, if they want they can take part.

Besides, the session of the World Armenian Congress is scheduled
on these days, and our compatriots from the United States and other
countries will take part in it. They may participate in the conference
too," says Aram Gaspari Sargsyan. He disagrees that the conference
is pro-Russian, therefore the experts of the country which has
considerable interests in the Caucasus were not invited. "If we had
invited everyone who has interests in this region, France, Germany,
the UK, China, the U.S. and others would all be invited. In other
words, it is a center of clash of interests. We are speaking about
the countries of the region, which are to establish their relations
themselves. Because if we keep trying to remain in the focus of clash
of these interests, we are going to lose every time," says one of
the organizers of the conference.

Aram Gaspari Sargsyan gave the idea, Ara Abrahamyan pays for gasoline.

Apparently, this principle underlies the international conference,
and the one who pays for gasoline decides who will "get in the car."

However, this question is not going to be discussed either during
or after the conference. "I have no wish to discuss today the
thesis on being pro-Russian, pro-Western etc. I only consider the
postulate, recently often considered, that Russia's presence here
is not desirable. In this case, if we are supposed to be absolutely
sovereign, independent and free from influence from the outside, I
am willing to discuss all these questions with these people. On the
other hand, if others come, who are likely to move from some slavery
into other slavery, I have nothing to discuss with such people,"
says Aram Gaspari Sargsyan.

Besides the United States, Abkhazia and South Osetia will not be
invited to the press conference either. This fact is obvious against
the background of participation of Karabakh. But everything becomes
clear due to the perception that "Karabakh is ours." Aram Sargsyan says
inviting the other unrecognized countries of the region is a subtle
question, which is related with Georgia. The organizers did not want
to assume such a responsibility. And maybe they were not needed since
the most responsible country of the region is with them. Aram Gaspari
Sargsyan says the Russian experts will represent Abkhazia and South
Osetia in the conference.