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May 1, 2009

1. Ambushed: Attack on journalist raises concerns over safety of
profession in Armenia

2. May 1 in Yerevan: Ter-Petrosyan addresses economy, foreign
policy, mayoral elections at Labor Day rally

3. Change of Status: Dashnak coalition exit may shape new opposition

4. Another punishment? Beating of Armenian activist in Georgian
prison raises questions and concerns

5. Troika's Tour: Mediators upbeat on Karabakh settlement, announce
Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting

6. `Road Map' View from Stepanakert: Is Karabakh settlement part of
Armenia-Turkey accord?

7. On the threshold of changes: Does the `Road Map' of Turkey and
Armenia imply a new political route?

8. Weathering the Storm: A commentary on the `economics of geography'

9. Perilous Plan: Environmental groups resist gold mine construction
near Lake Sevan

10. Bread of the soil: Armenian farmers predict increase in price for
local potato

11. Birth control: Specialists say many resorting to abortion in Armenia
unaware of other options

12. Smart business: household garbage turns into profit for Vanadzor
businessman and municipality budget

13. `Jan-jan': Arshakyan sisters ready to give it their best shot at

14. Touching the soul: Young musicians deliver classical music to
Armenian youth

15. Sport: Aronyan takes FIDE Grand Prix with dramatic last-round win in

************************************************ *****************************

1. Ambushed: Attack on journalist raises concerns over safety of profession
in Armenia

By Armine Grigoryan

ArmeniaNow reporter

A brutal attack on a journalist only days before the World Press Freedom Day
marked on May 3 raised more questions over how safe the profession of
journalism is in Armenia.

Police launched a criminal investigation following an attack on Argishti
Kiviryan, a coordinator of the ARMENIA Today news agency, who was severely
beaten on his way home from work in the small hours of April 30.

Kiviryan, 36, is now at the resuscitation unit of the `Erebuni' medical
center. Doctors say his condition is serious but stable.

The incident occurred near the entrance to his building at #9 Nalbandyan
Street. Three unknown individuals reportedly assailed and severely beat
Kiviryan causing him serious head and face injuries. Kiviryan's wife, Lusine
Sahakyan said they heard also gunshots but fortunately Kiviryan did not
sustain any gunshot wounds.

Sahakyan, who is a lawyer, believes that what happened to her husband has
mostly to do with his activities as a professional journalist, and she
promised to answer the question whether or not there had been prior
pressures after verifying this with her husband. (ARMENIA Today online is
known for its opposition stance, while Sahakyan was a defense lawyer for an
oppositionist, former deputy prosecutor-general Gagik Jhangiryan in a case
related to post-election developments.

A forensic examination has been appointed and criminal proceedings opened in
the case, details are being clarified, according to a police report.

Journalist and media freedom expert Mesrop Harutyunyan said to ArmeniaNow
that any manifestation of violence deserves condemnation, moreover, when it
is violence against a lawyer or a reporter.

To double-check the information about violence against the journalist, the
rapid reaction group of the Ombudsman's Office visited the `Erebuni'
center as well, but they didn't manage to talk to Kiviryan, either.

`Kiviryan's wife informed us that the incident was most likely linked to his
activities as a journalist. His wife refrained from giving any other
details,' Grigori Grigoryants, a spokesman for the Ombudsman's Office,

Eleven NGOs and journalistic organizations issued a statement in connection
with the incident, condemning another act of violence, demanding that the
law-enforcement bodies identify and punish those responsible.

`Resolving issues by means of beating and violence is turning into a serious
public threat, and the state bodies are not taking efficient steps to resist
that. The fact that those who have attacked reporters are not standing trial
today is an eloquent proof of that,' the statement says.

Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan is also concerned over the fact that there are
no tangible results on the part of the police in the process of resolving
cases of violence against journalists.

His office issued a statement `condemning this very dangerous and vicious
practice of expressing disagreement. Taking into account the fact that
almost all cases of violence against journalists committed in the past have
not been disclosed and the atmosphere of impunity leads to new violence, the
ombudsman calls upon the Police to take all necessary measures in order to
identify those responsible for this violence.'

Media organizations say the number of violent attacks against journalists
has risen significantly in recent years making journalist a `dangerous
profession' in Armenia.

The annual report on `Violations of Mass Media and Journalists' Rights
2008' states that in comparison with the period of the 2003 elections, in
the 2008 elections cases of violence and pressures increased about three
times. In 2003, cases of physical violence against journalists were seven;
in 2008, 18 cases were registered; and `pressures and hindrance of
journalists' work' nearly doubled, from 25 in 2003 to 48 last year.

****************************************** ***********************************

2. May 1 in Yerevan: Ter-Petrosyan addresses economy, foreign policy,
mayoral elections at Labor Day rally

By Karine Ionesyan
< iewStaff&SID=3D1043&lng=3Deng&IID=3D12 33>
ArmeniaNow reporter

The Armenian opposition on Friday rallied thousands of its supporters for
the second time this year to address concerns ranging from the
social-economic situation in the country to the current Armenian-Turkish
relations and the upcoming mayoral elections in the capital.

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan also spoke about `political prisoners'
and the `Case of 7' as he addressed a crowd near Matenadaran, an ancient
manuscripts depositary in downtown Yerevan that became a venue for Armenian
National Congress (ANC) gatherings ever since the violent breakup of the
post-election opposition protests in a nearby Liberty Square on March 1,

Ter-Petrosyan called the rally participants' attention to the fact that the
population's social situation worsened soon after the depreciation of the
Armenian dram in early March.

`The depreciation of the Armenian dram and consequently the inflation caused
a 30 percent fall in the living standards of the population. And a 6.1
percent fall was registered in our economy,' said Ter-Petrosyan, predicting
a further depreciation of the national currency in the next one month.

In this case, the ANC considers the creation of trade unions to be
important, and it says it is ready to support their people greatly.

As Ter-Petrosyan estimates, the `Case of 7' was a `juridical illiteracy,'
since it could not first separate those seven people from the rest, and make
them guilty, and later they decided to divide it into separate cases. He
predicts that the case will eventually collapse at the European Court.

Levon Ter-Petrosyan reminded that the ANC knows who the real four organizers
of the March 1, 2008 events are and through whom 950 stooges provoke the
disorder. However, he stated that they are not planning to give their names
now, since it is not the proper time for that.

While analyzing the Armenian-Turkish relations the first president of
Armenia stated that they greatly evaluate all the positive steps made by the
Armenian authorities. Asking to pay attention to the word `positive,' he
said he considered one of the four points of the `roadmap' [to normalizing
bilateral relations signed by Armenia and Turkey on April 22] to be

`Our only objection refers to the creation of a commission of Armenian and
Turkish historians for studying the Armenian Genocide, because it means
nothing else than denial of the Armenian Genocide,' said Ter-Petrosyan.

He concluded that within the framework of the recently signed `roadmap' the
current authorities, headed by [President] Serzh Sargsyan and [Foreign
Minister] Edward Nalbandyan, `sold the Genocide.' Ter-Petrosyan believes
that they will sell Karabakh next, and as a result Sargsyan will become the
first Armenia president `to win the Nobel Prize.'

Referring to the May 31 mayoral election in Yerevan, Ter-Petrosyan stated
that they did not intend to campaign during the Friday rally, since
electioneering officially started the next day, May 2. Ter-Petrosyan brushed
aside the accusation of the pro-government press that the ANC politicizes
the mayoral race, adding that they decided to participate in the elections
because they did not want the sad experience of the parliamentary elections
2007 to be repeated, when the Republican Party achieved a landslide victory
without any serious competition from other political parties.

The ANC said they would hold rallies in different districts of Yerevan
beginning from May 2, and later planned another nationwide rally near
Matenadaran on May 15.

************************************************* ****************************

3. Change of Status: Dashnak coalition exit may shape new opposition

By Gayane Abrahamyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

The decision of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) to
quit the governing coalition they entered last spring has aroused heated
discussions and extremely contradictory opinions.

Dashnaktsutyun, which had been considered a pro-government party and in fact
represented in government at different levels for more than a decade,
announced early this week they were leaving the coalition because of
`fundamental disagreement' with President Serzh Sargsyan's policy of
rapprochement with Turkey that they fear implies concessions on national

Dashnaktsutyun, one of the oldest traditional Armenian political parties,
called `unacceptable' what was announced as a `road map' to normalizing
bilateral relations signed in Switzerland between the Armenian and Turkey
foreign ministers on April 22, only two days before the commemoration of the
1915 Genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. See mp;AID=3D3678&CID=3D3551&IID=3D1232&ln g=3Deng

`From now on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation will be acting in the
status of a new oppositional force in the political sphere. We entered the
coalition to support stability in the country, to save our society from
upheavals, and we succeeded in doing that. But that does not mean that we
are in eternal bonds,' Armen Rustamyan, representative of Dashnaktsutyun's
Supreme Council of Armenia, said in a statement.

Will Dashnaktsutyun become an efficient opposition after the restructuring
of the political field and will they have the serious influence they used to
have in 1998? These are the questions that preoccupy many a mind today.

The most circulated presumable stimulus for Dashnaktsutyun to make this step
was the pressure from the Diaspora; however, there are other hypotheses as

Some people think that it has to do with the forthcoming mayoral elections
in capital Yerevan or the 2012 presidential election, some are inclined to
view this step as an imitation agreed upon with Serzh Sargsyan, an imitation
which will be beneficial both for domestic and foreign policy. According to
the logic of this hypothesis, Dashnaktsutyun, which has now become the
opposition, will to some extent take away the votes of the opposition, and
in foreign policy president Sargsyan will have the reason to stop and
justify his actions after making some steps, saying that the opposition in
the country, represented by Dashnaktsutyun, will create instability in the

All these hypotheses are unacceptable and ridiculous for Dashnaktsutyun -
the only reason is the recent Armenian-Turkish roadmap.

`Dashnaktsutyun can put up with many things, but not on the issues having to
do with ideas sacred for them,' says Dashnak MP, former Deputy Speaker Vahan
Hovhannisyan, announcing from the National Assembly tribune `from now on,
Dashnaktsutyun is in the opposition.'

Some people are sceptical about this view. Political analyst Igor Muradyan
says that the real reason for making the decision was the pressure from the

`This is ridiculous, Dashnaktsutyun left the coalition not because something
was signed in Switzerland - what kind of party is this if it was unable to
find out or prevent their boss from signing this document?' Muradyan says
with irony, adding that their decision was made `under the threats from the
Diaspora partners.'

The interpretation suggested by Armen Ashotyan, a member of parliament with
the majority Republican Party, is even harsher. He is convinced that
Dashnaktsutyun left the coalition to `get clean of the image of a government
party' before 2012. `It is obvious that the Armenian-Turkish agreement is a
good reason to quit not for domestic policy reasons, not because of
unsatisfactory distribution of high positions, but on national and
ideological grounds. Consequently, it was done to be perceived more
positively by the public for making this step, to try during these three
years to clear the image of a government party,' says Ashotyan.

The opinions of two oppositional wings - Heritage and the Armenian National
Congress (ANC) led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan on this issue are

Heritage's Raffi Hovhannisyan welcomed Dashnaktsutyun's entry into the
opposition, considering future cooperation possible, whereas ANC coordinator
Levon Zurabyan expressed an opinion that they `are not opposition yet.'

`It is not enough just to announce that you are opposition, one must deserve
the right to become real opposition, but we consider their announcement to
be the `first swallow', the first sign that this regime is collapsing,' says

At the moment, many people find it hard to foresee what role
Dashnaktsutyunwill play as an alternative for the radical opposition
and government.

Still in November political analyst Yervand Bozoyan told ArmeniaNow that a
third force would be created as a result of disagreements on
Armenian-Turkish relations and the Karabakh issue, and this force would
probably be able to make certain changes.

His forecast concerning the formation of a third force has come true, but it
is too early to talk about changes yet.

`It is a third force in the sense that a part of the society that does not
accept Levon [Ter-Petrosyan], but is in opposition to the government at the
same time, will have an affable party represented by Dashnaks,' Bozoyan
says, qualifying the withdrawal of Dashnaktsutyun from the coalition as a
logical step.

`That was not a game, there were many slight disagreements, and the recent
agreement could not have received a different feedback, as losing the trust
of the Diaspora would have been a very high price to pay,' Bozoyan says.

Dashnaktsutyun said they were ready to cooperate with the Heritage Party,
but considered cooperation with Ter-Petrosyan less likely.

`But political developments will show. If Ter-Petrosyan changes his
position, adopting a more constructive approach, then I don't exclude the
possibility,' Armen Rustamyan told ArmeniaNow.

The Armenian National Movement [the former ruling party that has been
Ter-Petrosyan's main political support base] and Dashnaktsutyun are on the
opposite poles in the ideological and political sense, but if we consider
that in Armenia the principle of `being friends against someone' is very
widely spread, some people don't exclude that Dashnaktsutyun, as in 1998,
now as well may demand the president's resignation over the latter's
`mistakes' in foreign policy.

According to political analyst Bozoyan, in 1998 the situation was different
as the opinions of the then powerful Defence Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and
other influential politicians were in unison with those of the opposition,
that is, of Dashnaktsutyun, while today the government is steadier.

`However, if it becomes clear that it is impossible to correct the mistakes
made by the government in the foreign policy domain, or if they don't
realize that they have made mistakes, then, as in 1998, preconditions will
be created for a power change,' says the analyst.

************************************** ***************************************

4. Another punishment? Beating of Armenian activist in Georgian prison
raises questions and concerns

By Gayane Lazarian

ArmeniaNow reporter

Several Armenian organizations in Armenia and abroad came up this week with
statements on the fact of the beating of Vahagn Chakhalyan, the leader of
the `United Javakhk' Democratic Union who currently serves a lengthy term in
Georgian capital Tbilisi's prison.

Chakhalyan, an activist for Armenian rights in Javakhk, an
Armenian-populated province in Georgia, was detained last July in Javakhk
(accused in espionage) and early in April was found guilty by a Georgian
court on a string of charges relating to breaking public order. Chakhalyan
was sentenced to ten years in prison, which sparked protests among Armenians
in Georgia, Armenia and Diaspora.

The Coordination Council of the Armenian Organizations in France (CCAF) made
an announcement saying that Chakhalyan was taken out of the cell and
severely beaten by the employees of the prison.

Chakhalyan's lawyers (Patrick Arapyan, Stepan Voskanyan, Zurab Rostiashvili)
assert in their statement that the beating was `a peculiar `answer' from the
Georgian authorities to the huge public protest wave against Chakhalyan's
unjust verdict, and especially the demonstration in front of the Georgian
Embassy in Paris on April 14 in his defense.'

Sharing the viewpoint of Chakhalyan's lawyers, Armenian National Assembly
member Shirak Torosyan, Chairman of the Javakhk Compatriotic Union, told
ArmeniaNow that this way the Georgian authorities aim to suppress the public
so that people do not keep on struggling.

`Otherwise they would continue committing violence against Chakhalyan. And
his case is undoubtedly directed against all Armenians living in Javakhk.
Its aim is to make Armenians abandon Javakhk and distort local Armenians'
national identity,' says Torosyan.

Currently compatriotic unions and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) very
often raise the issues connected with Armenian-Georgian problems. But
Torosyan believes that such type of problems should be settled at
intergovernmental level.

`Armenia conductions a cautious policy in relations with Georgia simply
because this country is our gateway to the rest of the world,' he says,
`Georgia, trying to take advantage of the situation, abuses its geopolitical
position, and treats Armenians living in Javakhk impudently. Georgia
persecutes national figures, commits violence against them, puts them into
prison, and files illegal lawsuits against them.'

Sevak Artsruni, head of the `Yerkir' (Country) Union of Repatriation and
Argumentation NGOs, states that most of Armenian activists of Javakhk either
went into hiding or are in jail. He says that Georgian authorities
constantly commit violence against Armenian activists.

`It is not only Vahagn Chakhalyan, who was sentenced; he is not the only
person for whom the International Convention on Human Rights and the laws of
Georgia have been violated. All those who stay in Javakhk should put up with
the fact of the superiority of the Georgian ethnos,' says Artsruni.

Yet in February, during his visit to Armenia, Georgian Foreign Minister
Gregory Vashadze announced that there is no problem of Javakhk, there is
only a social-economic problem in Javakhk, as well as in other regions of
Georgia; and Georgia is in a heavy situation after Russia's aggression. If
Armenia thinks that people live better in Kutaisi than in
Samtskhe-Javakheti, it is deeply wrong, very often they live even in worse
conditions, he said then.

`There is no other government that takes care of its national minorities
Georgia does since 2003. The problem is that Georgian-Armenians' integration
into Georgia's public life is slower than the Armenian community of Georgia
and the Georgian Government would like it to be. The aim of present and all
future Governments of Georgia is the defense of human rights of all people
living here,' mentioned Vashadze.

Shirak Torosyan says that Georgia has many obligations to the Council of
Europe (CE). In 2005, the Framework Convention for the Protection of
CE National
Minorities' human rights was ratified. It is mentioned there that all rights
of national minorities must be protected.

`However, Georgia is violating that Convention a hundred times a day. This
is what we mean, and not only against Armenians. This country adopted the
approach of forceful and violent means of settlement of the issues connected
with national minorities,' says Torosyan.

During Vashadze's visit to Yerevan, at the joint press conference of the
foreign ministers, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan said that all
issues that interest Georgian Armenians were always topics of honest and
mutually interesting discussions in Armenian-Georgian relations.

`There are no problems that we cannot solve by means of cooperation,' he

Torosyan says that according to the Armenian Constitution and the
international norms on human rights, Armenia has the right to worry about
its compatriots living in a foreign country.

`Javakhk is not Diaspora. If in other countries we have problems connected
with preserving Armenian national identity, then in the case with Javakhk,
it is something else. Here people live in their historical land; the
majority of the population here is Armenian; they have problems connected
with preserving the language, national identity and dignity,' says Torosyan.
`Armenia does not meddle in Georgia's domestic affairs, but Armenia should
settle those problems during high-level meetings with that country.'

On April 21, the conference of the Armenian United Council of the NGOs of
Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo-Kartli took place in Akhaltsikhe, where a clear
decision was made on the status of Javakhk.

`They believe that federalism is the best form of regional administrative
structure for Georgia. In this case the Armenian regions (the populated
territories of Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo-Kartli) will be viewed within
the large federal unit,' says Torosyan.

According to him, the proposal was submitted to the Georgian authorities,
which, as Torosyan believes, will either remain unanswered or will be
subjected to strong criticism.

************************************* ****************************************

5. Troika's Tour: Mediators upbeat on Karabakh settlement, announce
Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting

By Aris Ghazinyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

The 23rd meeting between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the
Karabakh conflict settlement is expected to take place in Prague, on May 7.
Nobody has been keeping track of the number of meetings in particular, as
most of them were either not so efficient or inefficient altogether.

The new top-level meeting scheduled in the Czech capital will be the fourth
one between Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev. The Minsk Group's U.S., Russian
and French cochairmen announced this on April 27 in Yerevan. They also said
they had `most serious hopes' regarding the meeting.

Never before during the recent period have the Minsk Group Co-Chairs been in
such optimistic mood as during this press conference in Yerevan. The
diplomats were quite uninhibited at the press conference, they addressed one
another by their first names, they often joked and even hugged each other.
In short, everything suggested they were in a good mood. The main thought
voiced by them was the real possibility of resolving the issue in the most
visible future.

However, as the American mediator Matthew Bryza announced, `no one can
guarantee, of course, that it will take place during the next several
months, but it was today that fundamentally favorable conditions have been
created for progress in the negotiating process.'

The mediators did not even try to conceal from the reporters the
expectations they have from the meeting between the leaders of Armenia and
Azerbaijan scheduled for May 7. The French Co-Chair, Bernard Fassier, said
that today on the negotiations table there is `a draft Agreement we have
prepared', based on the `Madrid principles' of settlement submitted to the
parties in the Spanish capital still in November 2007. According to the
diplomat, this very document will be the subject of discussion in the Czech

The most important news, according to the diplomats, is that in fact they
are witnessing for the first time the readiness of the presidents of Armenia
and Azerbaijan to work with their own societies to prepare them for this
settlement methods. `There was a moment when it seemed that the heads of
states don't prepare the societies of their countries well enough to make
concessions, but now we have a firm conviction that both in Armenia and
Azerbaijan they are ready to prepare their societies to make concessions,
and to establish good neighborly relations,' said Fassier.

The warming in the Armenian-Turkish relations, as the Co-Chairs themselves
acknowledged, has added optimism related to the prospects of comprehensive
resolution of a number of South Caucasus problems, including such important
issue as the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. This position of the
diplomats was criticized by a number of political scientists.

`Basically in all the discussions of the topic the main reason for the
blockade is presented in a completely wrong light, it is said to be
conditioned by the `reaction' of the Turkish authorities to the policy
official Yerevan on the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide,'
political analyst David Harutyunyan commented on the Co-Chairs' position.
`Of course, it would have been very good if the administration of the first
Armenian president and he himself defended the necessity of recognizing the
Genocide from international tribunes. Yet, that was not taking place either
before spring 1993 (when the border was ultimately blocked), or afterwards,
up to Ter-Petrosyan's resignation.'

`The main and only reason for blocking Armenia is the desperate resistance
of Armenians to Azeri occupation and the participation of Turkey in that
war. This is exactly what explains the joint blocking of the Armenian
statehood. We are basically speaking about two flanks (Azeri - eastern and
Turkish- western) of the same blockade,' says political analyst Garegin

Samvel Nazaryan, a political analyst from Moscow, points out that the
lifting of the blockade off the Armenian communications is a multifaceted
process which cannot be localized only along the perimeter of the
Armenian-Turkish border. `And the responsibility for this should also be
multifaceted, two countries - those that imposed a cruel and bloody war on
the Armenian people and by joint effort cut Armenia off from the outside
world way before the breakthrough in the course of the hostilities -- must
bear the responsibility,' he says.

Nazaryan believes the mediators should know about that, as otherwise a
completely distorted picture is outlined: `Turkey, as if `grudging' Armenia
for its foreign policy on Genocide recognition (the course did not exist in
1993), was simply forced to block the access of the `communications oxygen'
until the situation clears out finally.'

However, one way or the other, on April 27 the American and French mediators
drew media attention to the high appraisal by Washington and Paris to the
very fact of Armenia and Turkey signing a `Road Map' for normalizing
bilateral relations.

To ArmeniaNow's question about what fundamental changes were felt by the
diplomats themselves in the negotiating process after the change of power in
Armenia last year (taking into account the fact that Baku's position has
been changing basically) and which of the presidents - Kocharyan or
Sargsyan - is perceived by them as `more constructive', the American
mediator reacted as follows: `I am not going to answer that question because
I may offend one of them.' And then, giving it some thought, he added,
least Sargsyan and Aliyev, even if they don't like each other, demonstrate
mutual respect.'

*************************************** **************************************

6. `Road Map' View from Stepanakert: Is Karabakh settlement part of
Armenia-Turkey accord?

By Naira Hairumyan

In Karabakh people think that while before Turkey was trying to solve the
Karabakh issue by means of blocking Armenia, now it is putting pressure on
Azerbaijan over the Karabakh issue to settle problems with its own borders.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said in a recent interview to Russian
state television's news program Vesti that the position of Azerbaijan on
Nagorno Karabakh `reflects the safety of those people who live there now
will live there in the future; it also reflects the issues of the local
self-governance of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the issues of restoring the
territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.'

`We understand the importance for Armenia to have a land link between
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. In this case we see no problems there. And the
issues related to the Lachin corridor can be solved effectively,' the Azeri
leader underscored.

What forced Aliyev to make such statements?

There is an opinion in Karabakh that Ankara forced Baku to give up on its
claims on Karabakh to solve an important issue of the [Armenian] recognition
of the Treaty of Kars.

In fact, today's borders of Turkey and Armenia have not been recognized,
Armenia may present territorial claims to Turkey at any time. Armenian
President Serzh Sargsyan has stated several times that Armenia has no
territorial claims to Turkey. But the worldwide Armenian Diaspora and the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun (ARF), one of the oldest
traditional Armenian political parties operating both in Armenia and
Armenian communities abroad, disagree.

Unlike Armenia, in Karabakh the position of Dashnaktsutyun and the current
authorities on the Karabakh settlement coincide. That is why the Dashnaks of
Karabakh do not intend to become opposition yet.

`We have already stated that there is a necessity of creating an
all-Karabakh diplomatic front. And against that background we need to work
out a plan of joint work with the authorities,' stated David Ishkhanyan,
heads the ARF Central Committee in Artsakh.

For his part, head of the `Democracy' faction of the NKR National Assembly
Vahram Atanesyan stated that `the political forces of the NKR must remind
the world community and international mediators again that for us it is
unacceptable to solve the Karabakh issue in accordance with the concept of
dividing the South Caucasus into spheres of influence.'

On April 21, a day before the Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers in
Switzerland announced a roadmap to normalizing bilateral ties, political
parties in Karabakh issued a joint statement in which they appealed to
Turkey to recognize the Genocide and Karabakh's independence. The chairman
of the Free Homeland party Artur Tovmasyan pointed out that the settlement
of Armenian-Turkish relations must be conditioned by the Karabakh
settlement. Settlement means recognition of Karabakh's independence.

The document stresses the unacceptability of the attempts to question the
Armenian genocide or making it a subject for discussion. It contains an
appeal to the international community to `work consistently towards Turkey's
admission of the fact of the crime against the Armenian nation and humanity
in the Ottoman Empire.'

`It is notable that Baku is in tandem with Ankara in its nihilistic policy
of genocide denial, which obviously proves the participation and
responsibility of Azerbaijan for this crime part of which was the
extermination and deportation of native Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh at the
beginning of last century,' says Leonid Martirosyan, the editor-in-chief
Azat Artsakh newspaper.

He stresses that subjecting Nagorno-Karabakh to the power of genocidal
Turkish-Azeri state must be completely excluded. `Azerbaijan rather
sensitively and jealously reacts to the possible normalization of
Armenian-Turkish relations. The fears of the Azeri side are quite
explicable, as in the event of opening the border and establishing
diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, the position of Baku in the
process of the Karabakh settlement will become weaker - it will lose one
its important trump cards in the policy of isolating Yerevan and exerting
diplomatic pressure on Yerevan. Moreover, the Azeris realize well that the
opening of the border will allow involving Armenia into many energy and
transport-communications projects that have hitherto bypassed Armenia's
territory. This means, if events develop like that, it is not excluded that
in the issue of the Karabakh settlement Baku may become more compliant and
give up on its current maximalist position,' Martirosyan said.

Perhaps in the text of the `Road Map' there is no precondition on the
settlement of the Karabakh issue, but at the same time the relation between
the Karabakh settlement and Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is obvious. Will
it be possible to settle the problem this time? If, as the OSCE Minsk Group
Co-Chairs assure, the presidents are still discussing `Madrid proposals',
then they are not talking about defining the status of Karabakh, they are
talking about moving the line of contact in a way benefiting Azerbaijan and
thus turning Karabakh into a small enclave.

**************************************** *************************************

7. On the threshold of changes: Does the `Road Map' of Turkey and Armenia
imply a new political route?

Analysis by Aris Ghazinyan

Will Robert Kocharyan return to big politics? Will a political tandem of the
second president of Armenia and the Dashnaktsutyun Party that withdrew from
the governing coalition earlier this week be formed? Will this new political
force be able to become a third pole?

These are the main questions the Armenian public is asking today.

The political life of Armenia is on the threshold of big changes. The
catalyst for the inevitable change in the alignment of forces was the
officially supported intensification of Armenian-Turkish contacts and
announcement late on April 22 of the so-called `Road Map' as a certain
mechanism for a gradual rapprochement and reconciliation of the parties.

One may judge about Kocharyan's attitude to the foreign policy tack of the
current administration by one of his statements: `Abdullah Gul would never
come to Yerevan during my presidency.'

According to independent political analyst and Caucasus expert Viktor
Solakhyan, `the soccer diplomacy of Serzh Sargsyan has turned into an own

Kocharyan once saved Armenia (in 1998) from capitulating in the Karabakh
issue. That cost Levon Ter-Petrosyan, a consistent advocate of a peace
accord with Azerbaijan based on respect for the latter's territorial
integrity, his job as president. He was also the advocate of establishing
diplomatic relations with Turkey by means of giving up on the territorial
claims to Turkey. Today, in the opinion of many analysts, history may be

The incumbent Armenian president today is simply forced to answer the main
query of the society: was the issue of the status of the border discussed
during the negotiations on the border opening, or, in other words, did
Yerevan express readiness to legally acknowledge the border and give up on
possible territorial claims to Turkey? The thing is that the contours of the
border itself were defined in Moscow during the initial period of Soviet
Armenia (the so-called Russian-Turkish Agreement `on fraternity and
cooperation' of March 16, 1921) and ratified by the government of Soviet
Armenia in Kars on October 13 of the same year.

`After the establishment of independent Armenia, the Turkish government has
consistently tried to reach an agreement with the Armenian authorities on a
legal recognition of the border, which automatically would mean the
withdrawal of Armenia's territorial claims,' Solakhyan says. `If this issue
is resolved, the chances that Ankara might recognize the Genocide will
increase significantly.'

Turkish newspaper Sabah published the plan of the `Road Map'. According to
Sabah, the main point of the Armenian-Turkish-Swiss design is not even
Nagorno-Karabakh, but the legal recognition of the modern-day borders of
Turkey by official Yerevan, and, correspondingly, of the current
Armenian-Turkish (blocked) segment of the border. This is the very question
which, in the aspect of the Turkish interest certainly outweighs the
Karabakh problem. That is why Serzh Sargsyan's words that the issue of
Armenian-Azeri relations and Nagorno Karabakh in particular was not
discussed when drafting the document at all, does not console, but on the
contrary raises concerns.

If this issue is not clarified, Serzh Sargsyan's position will become very
unstable and vulnerable. As political observer of the `Golos Armenii'
newspaper Levon Mikaelyan stated, `not everyone in Armenia has become a
shop-keeper and seller yet, and there is a considerable contingent of people
who have preserved their uncompromising stand exactly in national issues.'

Samvel Karapetyan, a historian and expert on Armenian architecture,
expressed his view on this: `The recognition of Turkey's integrity will be
the greatest step towards high treason. The border is closed not between
Turkey and Armenia, but between the Republic of Armenia and Armenia, and it
is unacceptable to call Western Armenia `regions of Eastern Turkey'. We have
a duty, and if we realize that, we must be able to impose obligations on

Head of the `Ararat' analytical center Armen Ayvazayn also stated that
we are talking about a complete refusal of the Armenian question and final
legitimization of consequences of the Armenian genocide, then this kind of
intimacy with Turkey contradicts the declaration on Armenia's independence,
contradicts the desires of the Armenian people and is nothing less than

In 2001, President Kocharyan, answering the question of a Turkish reporter
concerning the possibility of Yerevan presenting territorial claims to
Turkey if the latter after all recognized the genocide, stated: `The issue
of recognizing the Genocide and the issue of territorial claims are two
different problems and have no immediate relation to each other. The issue
of territorial claims to Turkey should be considered not in terms of it
recognizing the Genocide, but within the Peace Treaty of Sevre.' Thus, the
second Armenian president did not give up on the possibility of presenting
territorial claims to Turkey in the future.

`In principle, not a single leader of Armenia is authorized to make official
statements about Armenia not having territorial claims to Turkey on behalf
of national history and the nation spread all over the world. In this
respect the answer of the second president of Armenia may be considered
satisfactory,' Mikaelyan said.

On April 18, 2005 the then-Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan stated that `On
the foreign policy agenda of Armenia there was and would be the issue of the
international recognition of the Genocide. Will the next president of
Armenia raise the territorial issue? - I do not know. Let the next leader of
Armenia speak about further claims. The current authorities in Armenia only
raise the issue of the international recognition of the Genocide.'

However, it seems that the `next president' is not willing to answer that
question yet. Moreover, the Secretary of the National Security Council of
the current administration is ex-speaker of Armenian Parliament Artur
Baghdasaryan, whom Kocharyan publicly called `a traitor who has fallen too
low' and who still in 2006 (when he was still number two official in the
country) made arbitrary statements that `taking into account its difficult
geopolitical situation, Armenia cannot have territorial claims to Turkey.'
His personal viewpoint, as well as the approaches of his Orinats Yerkir
party was based on the circumstance that `we already have one open front
that of Karabakh, and it is unacceptable to open another one with Turkey.'

Anyway, today the Armenian president is really doomed to clarify this
situation. Otherwise, the political processes in Armenia will be activated
to the extent that there will already be talk about shaping up a
fundamentally new political environment balancing on the brink of civil

*************************** **************************************************

8. Weathering the Storm: A commentary on the `economics of geography'

By Richard Giragosian

One of the most significant benefits of a possible `normalization' of
relations between Armenia and Turkey stems from the economic advantages of
an open and unrestricted border, lower transit costs for Armenian imports
and exports, and greater access to new markets beyond the region.

Each of these advantages offers Armenia an important way to overcome the
limits of its geography, most notably evident in Armenia's landlocked status
with no direct access to the sea and impeded market access.

For all countries, but especially for a small, landlocked country like
Armenia whose borders with both Turkey and Azerbaijan have been closed and
blockaded, physical geography is an important determinant of a country's
economic and trade potential. In addition to other important factors, such
as climate, natural resources, institutional democracy and economic freedom,
geography often serves as the basis for a wide range of development issues,
even impacting or influencing foreign policy, defense, military posture and
national security.

Such a focus on the economics of geography is even more important in light
of the global economic crisis, which only makes Armenia more vulnerable and
dependent on limited trade routes. In fact, the impact of the global
economic crisis was only recently reaffirmed on April 20, when the Armenian
State Statistical Service reported that Armenia's gross domestic product
(GDP) decreased by some 6.1 percent for the first quarter of this year, with
exports down by more than 47 percent and the industrial sector recording a
steep 9.5 percent decline for the same period.

In terms of the possible opening of the closed Armenian-Turkish border, the
benefits will also require improvements to Armenia's infrastructure, making
the country's roads, railways, and airports even more essential as trade
transport routes. For this reason, the Russian-owned railway system in
Armenia has already received new investment and has been at least partially

Moreover, according to an official statement released on April 23 by the
Russian `South Caucasian Railways' group that acquired ownership of
Armenia's rail system in February 2008, a new `international logistics
center' will be created at the Akhuryan rail station along the
Armenian-Turkish border.

But there have been setbacks to the normalization process in recent weeks,
as Turkey seems to be moving away from its willingness to open the border
and extend normal diplomatic relations with Armenia. And in some ways,
there has been perhaps too much attention focused on the Armenian border
with Turkey, especially as there have been some developments related to an
equally strategic border - Armenia's southern border with Iran.

More specifically, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian visited Iran on April
20 and signed a new agreement with Iran whereby Tehran will invest some $400
million for the construction of a modern railway link between the two
countries. According to Armenian Minister of Transport and Communication
Gurgen Sargsyan (no relation to the president), the agreement was initially
reached in negotiations with his Iranian counterpart, Hamed Behbahani, on
April 14 in Tehran, with a bilateral working group formed to conduct a
feasibility study of the new rail link within the coming three months.

This new Armenian-Iranian railway project calls for the construction of a
500-kilometer (310-mile) railway line, with only a small section of about 60
kilometers (37 miles) located on the Iranian side of the border. According
to Armenian government officials, the five-year project, estimated to cost
between $1.5 and $1.8 billion, not including the Iranian commitment of $400
million, is to be financed by the Asian development Bank (ADB), the World
Bank and `other interested parties,' most likely referring to Russia,
although Ukraine has also expressed interest in investing in the project.

Running from Sevan in northern Armenia to the southern city of Meghri, the
planned railway will link up with the northern Iranian rail network and will
be primarily used to transport `energy supplies and other goods,' aimed at
increasingly bilateral trade and commerce.

This Armenia-Iran rail link is a strategic priority for Armenia in order to
overcome its dependence on Georgian territory as the country's sole external
rail route. Based on this strategic significance, the new rail link to Iran
offers Armenia an important secondary alternative to the possible opening of
the Armenian-Turkish border.

Thus, it seems clear that no matter what the outcome of the difficult and
challenging talks between Armenia and Turkey over normalizing relations,
Armenia needs to press ahead with developing its ties with Iran, in order to
both maximize its strategic proximity to Iran and exploit an opportunity to
develop an alternative outlet that surmounts any dependence on either
Georgia or Turkey.


Richard Giragosian is the director of the Yerevan-based Armenian Center for
National and International Studies (ACNIS). `Weathering the Storm" is a
weekly column exclusively for ArmeniaNow.

************************************* ****************************************

9. Perilous Plan: Environmental groups resist gold mine construction near
Lake Sevan

Gayane Lazarian

ArmeniaNow reporter

Conservationists in Armenia are increasingly concerned over the construction
of a gold mining plant near environmentally vital Lake Sevan, which they say
will greatly endanger the ecology of the country's largest body of fresh
water and cause another environmental disaster.

Members of the initiative group of the `SOS Sevan' Ecological NGOs
(non-governmental organizations) claim that in 2008 the GeoProMining Company
started the process of constructing a gold mining plant, a depot and
tailings depot of cyanides and other chemicals in the water conservation
zone of Lake Sevan's basin - in the territory of the Sodk Gold Mine.

The Ecological Alliance has the copy of the document called `Concept of
installation of a gold mining plant in the territory of the Sodk Gold Mine
taking into consideration the environmental risks' belonging to the
GeoProMining Company.

In the document the Company expresses its gratitude and support to the
Ecologic neo-sphere Center (belonging to the National Academy of Science);
the Institutes of Geology; and of Hydroecology, Ichthyology and Zoology, the
Environment Ministry and other departments involved in the process for their

Inga Zarafyan, President of the `Ecolur' (eco-news) News Center, wonders how
it happened that on March 2, the document was discussed at Local Government
Minister Armen Gevorgyan's with the participation of senior officials and
`GeoProMining' Company managers.

`This gives us a basis to suppose that the process of the Sodk project was
transferred into a sphere of narrow political decisions. It is not excluded
that the RA Law on `Lake Sevan' (Article 10 of the Law prohibits mining and
extraction activities in the Sevan basin) may be amended. If this ban is
removed from the Law, Lake Sevan will be seriously threatened,' explains

GeoProMining is involved in mining industry in Russia, Armenia, and Georgia.
In Armenia Sodk Gold Mine and Ararat Copper-Molybdenum Plant (having 700
employees) belong to the Company. It pays $2.5 million to Armenia's state
budget annually.

Silva Adamyan, Coordinator of the Ecological NGOs Alliance, believes that
the National Academy of Sciences should not have made such a step.

`The Academy should have refused to participate in all types of researches,
since there is a law on `Lake Sevan.' No other dialogue should have taken
place,' she says.

Deputy Environment Minister Simon Papyan says the Ministry's official
position was stated by its head Aram Harutyunyan on April 3, on Kentron TV.

`He said that the Ministry had got no official document on the construction
of a gold recovery plant in Sodk. At this stage the legislation bans the
construction of a reprocessing enterprise in the territory of the Sevan
basin,' says Papyan.

According to the Deputy Minister, still in 2005 they reached a negative
conclusion on a similar construction project submitted by Indian Vedanta
Resources Group.

`Hadn't there been ecological risks as a result of such type of activities,
the corresponding term in the Law on `Lake Sevan' would not have existed. If
suddenly it is decided to make amendments in the Law, then we will decide
what kind of position we should have,' says Papyan.

Khachik Harutyunyan, Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Agriculture
and Environment, told ArmeniaNow that there are no impulses of amending the
Law at the Parliament.

Whereas, Armen Martirosyan, a member of the parliamentary opposition
Heritage faction, mentions that such rumors have already been circulated.

`I am sure that if amendments in the Law are suggested, they will be
approved by all means. If there was no agreement from the authorities,
nobody would carry out preliminary works,' says Martirosyan. `The agreement
with the Company was signed yet during Robert Kocharyan's presidency, and it
is interesting whether Serzh Sargsyan will continue that `criminal' program
or not.'

Ruzanna Grigoryan, Head of the Public Relations Department of the
GeoProMining Company, said the company's management did not want to comment.

One of the main threats of the plant's construction is piling of empty
(hollow) rocks after ore preprocessing. The volumes of those rocks may reach
300 million tons. This huge amount consisting of different types of elements
and dust, which have toxic composition - heavy metals, antimony, arsenic,
pyrite, etc., along with atmospheric precipitations and wind would penetrate
into the underground and subsoil waters and via them - to Sevan.

`The tailings depot full of cyanic combinations, heavy and toxic elements is
a permanent bomb for Sevan. Annually about $40 million is needed to make the
tailings depot (28 million cubic/meters) work and work safely,' says Karine
Danielyan, Head of the Association `For Sustainable Human Development.'

According to her, generally about $105 million would enter the budget as a
result of the mine exploitation. This means that after the Company leaves,
the amount will be enough for 2 ½ years, after which the State will have to
take care of the expenses of the tailings depot itself in order to keep it,
passing that debt from generation to generation.

Environmentalists warn that the pollution of Lake Sevan will entail other
heavy consequences, such as, a poisoned drinking water and irrigation
system, areas unsuitable for agricultural use, as well as devastation of
recreation areas and fishing zones (the whole water resource of Armenia is
35 billion cubic/meters, 33 billion cubic/meters of which belongs to Lake

Evelina Ghukasyan, scientific secretary of the Hydroecology, Ichthyology and
Zoology Institute, says: `The preliminary conclusion of the Institute was
not positive. There were only preliminary data, based on the results of the
research done during several months. We express our negative opinion about
the construction of any concentration plant in the territory of the Sevan

Ghukasyan also mentions that they cannot submit the report of the work done
by them, since it is the GeoProMining Company's property.

`This is the first case that the results of scientific researches are
discussed behind closed doors. I appeal to the public for demanding the
results of the research,' she says.

The initiative group of `SOS Sevan' demands that the RA legislative and
executive bodies suspend the discussions over lending stabilization credit
to GeoProMining (due to the application of Company President Roman Khudoli)
until the Company renounces its plans to relocate the Gold Mining Plant from
Ararat to the Sevan basin, and proves that its activities are transparent
and in line with the Armenian legislation.

This week the session of the Commission on Issues of Lake Sevan was held in
Gegharkunik Province headed by President Serzh Sargsyan. The President
announced during the session that the problems connected with Sevan need
concerted actions.

`We have a duty towards Sevan. We must return Sevan what we have generously
been taking from it still since the Soviet Union period. We must return
Sevan its health, and these are not simply nice words,' stated the
President. `It is our responsibility, and we should pay back the debt also
expecting that Sevan will keep on serving its nation and future
generations,' he added.

***************************************** ************************************

10. Bread of the soil: Armenian farmers predict increase in price for
local potato

By Armine Grigoryan

ArmeniaNow reporter

The time for agricultural work on soil for the spring sowing campaign is up
in the Ararat valley and is running out for the country's mountainous areas.
But many potato-growing collective farms have not managed to finish the
sowing of early-ripening potatoes on time because of financial difficulties.

Specialists (in the sphere of agriculture) believe that it means in the near
future the amount of potatoes will not be enough, and the prices will be
rather high.

Potato is the second major staple foodstuff after grain and is considered to
be `second bread.' About 130,000 farms are currently involved in the
production of this valuable foodstuff. (Annual potato harvest makes
approximately 450-500,000 tons)

It is almost ten years that potato planting substances of high reproduction
are being imported from Holland, Germany, Russia, and Belarus, but recently
Armenia became a potato exporting country instead of an importing one.
(Potato mainly is exported to Georgia.)

The Dutch Agrico Company annually imports about 1.5 million dollars' worth
of potato seeds to Armenia and gives them to about 20 farms. Thanks to the
stable privileged program developed by the Company, Armenian seed-growing
farms at the beginning pay the Company 60 percent of the planting
substance's price and the rest 40 percent is paid after the harvest
gathering - in autumn. The same way the farms give the planting substances
to the peasant collective households of foothills, mountainous areas and
Ararat plain.

`The experience showed that our peasants are rather punctual and with the
aid of that mechanism they managed to pay their debts back on time for
years. This year, however, collective farms do not manage to sell their
harvest so as to be able to pay the rest of the money that they owe, and
hence get new planting substances,' says Koryun Hovakimyan, General Director
of Agrico Company.

Alik Yeghiazaryan, Director of `Alarm Friends' LCC has exported potato
several years. The company's main sales market is Georgia.

`We reached a deadlock and we have no idea how to pay back the money for
planting substance taken on credit. The current situation may cause serious
problems and make everything fail. Farmers are about to go into bankruptcy.
If we do not manage to do anything, it is not excluded that there will be a
shortage of potato in the country in the near future,' says Yeghiazaryan.

`Collective farms owe farmers, farmers in their turn owe planting substance
importing companies, and the latter owe their foreign counterparts. The
chain is about to be harmed, and years will be needed to recover it,' says

Armenia's Ministry of Agriculture is aware of the problem. According to the
information they possess, the Georgian side has closed the potato importing
road from Armenia motivating that a disease, something like a potato moth,
occurred in Georgia, and it is not clarified yet where from.

`The reasoning of the Georgian side does not satisfy us, since potato moth
is considered to be a quarantine pest in our country, and it is not found
here,' says Gagik Manucharyan, head of Crop Production, Forestry and Crop
Protection Administration at the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture.

This leaves a double impact on collective farms. On the one hand, the
exporting road is closed, and on the other hand, the domestic market is

According to the data of the Ministry of Agriculture, there is a need for
both potatoes as food and as planting substance in the Georgian regions of
Marneuli and Akhalkalaki. But because the roads are closed, it is not
possible to export the products stored up in Armenia.

Agrico connects the last hope with the Prime Minister of Armenia to overcome
the situation. It informed him about the current situation twice, by
official letters. In the second letter written to the Prime Minister on
March 31, it was suggested that the Government organize the sale of the
non-consumed potato planting substance on credit on the responsibility of
local authorities. The Company suggested providing collective farms in great
need and those based in high mountainous regions with potato planting
substance without an initial deposit, on condition that in autumn they will
compensate. However, the issue is not solved yet.

Several days ago Agrico received an official letter from the Ministry of
Agriculture saying that the negotiations with the Georgian side reached a

`We are not satisfied with the answer, since we have developed a suggestion
that is favorable for the collective farms in great need and based in high
mountainous regions of Armenia, farms, and potato planting substances
importing organizations. Our suggestion was, in fact, ignored, creating
additional tension for farms and potato planting substances importing
companies,' says Hovakimyan.

Farmers lost their hope connected with the Government; they obtained
additional leased lands for saving the non-consumed potato planting
substances, and they organized the potato planting late.

****************************************** ***********************************

11. Birth control: Specialists say many resorting to abortion in Armenia
unaware of other options

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

The number of abortions - a predominant means of birth control in Armenia -
has gone down according to recent data. But healthcare workers are still
concerned that many women have multiple abortions - often because they are
ill-informed about other options.

According to the official statistics, in 2007, 283 cases of abortion were
registered per 1,000 cases of pregnancy; and in 1993-1996 this index was 640
abortions among 1,000 pregnancies. According to this data, the number of
abortions in Armenia decreased about three times. Statistically, twice as
many women in rural areas resort to abortion as those settled in urban
places. In Armenia, the most cases of abortion are registered
correspondingly in the Gegharkunik, Kotayk, and Tavush provinces.

Adrineh Gregorian, a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
(Tufts University, Ma) and a Fulbright scholar while doing a research for
her documentary about abortions, found out that despite the decreased number
of abortions, Armenia still has one of the highest rates of infertility
among former Soviet countries.

According to statistics from the RA Ministry of Health, the rate of
secondary infertility is 28.5 percent in Armenia which is considered to be
very high. And this is mainly the result of sexually transmitted diseases
and abortions. (The rate of primary infertility is 3.4 percent which is not
considered to be high. For example, comparing to Russia, where the rate of
infertility is about 20 percent.)

Gregorian says it is still early to be exited about the decrease in
abortions cases, because still many women are not using normal
contraceptives. (Gregorian is an American Armenian; she got a grant from
Fulbright Program for shooting her film ( on abortions
as a contraceptive method in Armenia and the resulting consequences.

She advocates a woman's right to have abortions, yet she thinks that because
this system has many shortcomings in Armenia, and because there are no free
discussions over this topic here, women turn to the most extreme
contraceptive means - abortion.

`I believe that the system does not provide proper health education, besides
the culture prohibits the discussion over this topic. But it is important,
isn't it? More a woman does an abortion the possibility of her infertility
or problems connected with her future pregnancy increases,' says Adrineh.

Gregorian mentions that the great part of women she met had done abortions
7-10 times on the average.

Gayane Avagyan - Chief Specialist, Department of Mother and Child Healthcare
at the RA Ministry of Health, proves that 28 percent of infertility is
connected with abortions.

Though information about family planning is available at many women's NGOs
(for example at `Women's Resource Center,' `Sose,' etc.) and all
have family planning centers, not many women turn to them. It is possible to
get not only information but also contraceptive means free of charge there.

Gregorian, besides shooting a film, currently along with the `Sose' Women's'
NGO (non-governmental organization) is organizing training seminars for
women in Goris (Syunik province) and nearby villages. A similar program is
organized for local men, especially for a small group of students. Adrineh
says that if the responses are good, they will enlarge the group.

`My general impression is that people know very little about their body
here. I understand that such topics are probably taboos here; even in my
case, I am an American Armenian, and it is a kind of taboo for me, too,'

She hopes that the film would be effective, and it will be shown not only in
Armenia but also in the Diaspora; and it might be a beginning of some

Karine Saribekyan, head of Mother and Child Healthcare Department of the RA
Ministry of Health, says that she is glad that a woman in Armenia has the
official right to artificially interrupt her pregnancy.

`In those countries where abortion is banned, women very often have to
either leave for other countries or do that secretly, under illegal
conditions, which causes different problems,' says Saribekyan.

Saribekyan is more optimistic than Gregorian. She thinks that the decrease
of abortion cases is natural, since the behavior of people's reproduction is
changed by the time.

`I notice many couples who postpone even the birth of their first child.
This means that the couples are using contraceptive means. This is very
good, since undesirable pregnancy always has undesirable consequences,' says

However, she agrees that a majority of Armenian women consider abortion as
means of family planning. Specialists agree that the current situation is
determined by the fact that the population is not well aware of the modern
contraceptive means.

In Armenia, surgical abortion costs about 10,000-20,000 drams (about
$27-54). A pregnancy of up to 12 weeks can be interrupted on the basis of a
woman's application. Abortion in case of a pregnancy of up to 22 weeks is
done in case of having medical-social instructions with the agreement of the
woman (dead fetus, fetus with defects, the husband's death during pregnancy,
the wife's or husband's imprisonment, deprivation of maternal rights during
pregnancy, divorce during pregnancy, and pregnancy as a result of rape.)

In spite of the above-mentioned conditions, specialists say abortions in the
period before 12 weeks of pregnancy are widely spread in Armenia. In this
case, a couple is doing a `selective' abortion. It means that the latter
finds out the sex of a fetus and then makes a decision.

`Previously they were doing it after the second child, but now it is done
after the first baby,' says Saribekyan.

*********************************** ******************************************

12. Smart business: household garbage turns into profit for Vanadzor
businessman and municipality budget

By Naira Bulghadaryan

ArmeniaNow Vanadzor reporter

A garbage recycling plant will be constructed in Vanadzor till the end of
the year where garbage will be assorted, recycled and sold at different
markets of Armenia.

The initiator of the project is `Clean Land' LCC which applied to the City
Council of Vanadzor and got the right to assorting and recycling the garbage
for a 25-year period.

The plant will be the first of its kind in Vanadzor, (Lori province) where
now household garbage is transferred to the dump in the village of Arjut,
about 15 kilometers far from Vanadzor.

`Usually 15 percent of the garbage later becomes usable raw material as a
result of recycling,' says Tigran Gabrielyan, Director of `Clean Land'.

About 30 employees, with the help of special equipments will separate those
materials from the garbage (brought to the plant from the whole territory of
the town), which might be usable as a result of recycling and consumed in
the market.

For example, paper, plastic will be separated from the household garbage,
that is to say, those materials which can become usable products as a result
of recycling. The leftover will be transferred to dump in the village of
Arjut by the vehicles of the four garbage collection enterprises in

`This is for the first time that the volumes of garbage taken to Arjut will
be decreased, and it is favorable for the environment, since the garbage,
being burnt in the dump, harms the environment,' says Suren Karapetyan, head
of the Department for Programs and External Relations at Vanadzor

The other profit of Vanadzor (besides garbage assorting and recycling) is
that 36 million drams (about $96,500) will enter the town's budget annually
as the cost of the right obtained to assort the household garbage.

Karapetyan says that, according to the agreement signed between Vanadzor
Municipality and `Clean Land' LCC, the amount of money paid to the local
budget will be reviewed biannually taking into consideration the further
growth in prices of the raw materials obtained as a result of the garbage
recycling; as well as the quantity change of Vanadzor population (charges
for garbage collection are determined depending on the number of residents).

Daily 100 cubic/meters garbage is transferred from Vanadzor to Arjut's dump.
The garbage collection is implemented by four enterprises, which will get
180 million drams (more than $482,000) from the budget instead of the 120
million drams ($321,000) it was getting before.

Karapetyan believes that the money paid by `Clean Land' will improve
Vanadzor's garbage collection process. It will be possible to buy new
garbage transferring and street-washing vehicles, as well as new garbage
bins. On the other hand, the local budget will manage to have annual
savings, since as a result of garbage assorting the volumes of the garbage
taken to Arjut's dump will be decreased; hence the expenses spent on them
will also reduce.

`We will also have savings in garbage transferring expenses,' believes

It is planned to construct household garbage assorting plants not only in
Vanadzor, but also in other towns of Armenia - Gyumri, Echmiadzin, Hrazdan.

The Company is planning to collect the assorted household garbage from five
towns' plants and take it to another - recycling plant.

`It is not clear yet where exactly the recycling plant will be constructed -
in Yerevan or Echmiadzin,' says Gabrielyan.

`Clean Land' is planning to get ready products from the recycling plant
subject to sale. It is necessary that those products have the quality of the
products that had been reduced to garbage. `We should get paper from paper,'
says Gabrielyan.

`Clean Land' is currently choosing a location for the plant in Vanadzor. As
soon as they decide on the location for the future plant, construction works
and equipment installation will start.

People in Vanadzor accepted this initiative with great enthusiasm. Everyone
understands that not only the town's garbage collection will be improved
also Arjut's dump will shake off its dirty burden.

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13. `Jan-jan': Arshakyan sisters ready to give it their best shot

By Knar Babayan

ArmeniaNow intern

Only 11 days are left before the start of the annual Eurovision
International Song Contest (this year hosted by Moscow), but the Arshakyan
sisters representing Armenia there have already registered their first

Three weeks uninterruptedly the song by Inga and Anush Arshakyan, `Jan-jan',
has topped (with 12.4 percent of votes) the pre chart-2009 of the official
website of Eurovision ( Azerbaijan is in the second place
12.3 percent of votes. Russia comes third - 10.2 percent.

The song that has ethno motifs, but modern rhythms, was initially called
`Nor Par' (new dance) with both Armenian and English lyrics and later it was
renamed `Jan-jan'.

`We tried to get the golden middle in order to present a 21st century music
with the help of ethno elements,' says the elder sister - Anush, 28.

The main idea of the video clip is the solidarity around a dance, it is
colorful and mobile; and the main images of the video clip - the sisters
wearing interesting clothes, which are again the mixture of the national and
modern, as the song is.

It is already the fourth time (since 2006) that Armenia participates in one
of the most popular song contests in Europe - Eurovision. (First and second
participants - Andre and Hayko took the eighth place, whereas last year
Armenian singer Sirousho finished within a touching distance to the main
prize - just outside the top three.)

This year Inga and Anush are expected to improve on last year's fourth place
by Sirousho.

The possibility of the sisters' participation in Eurovision has been
discussed since last September. In contrary to the previous three
qualifications for Eurovision, the latest one was the first case when the
Armenian music world has been satisfied with the results of the voting. Not
only pop music representatives but also classical music fans are happy with
the choice.

`Inga and Anush are very professional, they have wonderful voice qualities,
and besides, they are very artistic. These are very important indications
which provide at least 50 percent of the victory, and the other 50 percent
belongs to the song, which is quite good, at least the best Armenia entry
song so far,' says musicologist Narine Tovmasyan.

Anna Avanesyan, Arshakyan sisters' PR Manager, says about 350 professional
dancers from different dance ensembles participated in the shootings of mass
scenes in the video clip.

`Our audience loved the dance so much that we were asked to upload the video
clip on our website, where the movements of the dance are explained in
detail,' says Avanesyan.

The Arshakyan sisters are graduates of the Yerevan State Conservatory after
Komitas (Jazz Vocal Faculty).

In 2000 they started singing at the State Song Theatre of Armenia, mainly
performing ethno songs by new and modern instrumentation, as well as songs
by Komitas. They were very often choosing and doing the music formation of
the songs themselves.

`We listened to different styles of music since childhood. However, it does
not hinder us from laying stress on ethno music. That is our face, our
image, there is a specific beauty in it and that music is very dear to us,'
says Anush.

Even though the Arshakyan sisters are more famous for performing ethno
songs, the younger sister - Inga, 27, clarifies they plan performances in a
new style in the near future.

`Our new, third album, which will be released soon, is a mixture of rock,
pop, hip-hop and jazz,' says Inga.

Their stage clothes coincide with the style of music they perform - with
modern national motifs.

The semifinals of Eurovision are due on May 12 and May 14, and the final is
scheduled for May 16, in Moscow. Forty-three countries will participate in
the pan-European contest.

The first Eurovision contest was held in 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland. This
contest cleared the way to international glory for a number of groups and
artists, including the Swedish quartet ABBA. Today Inga and Anush also hope
that the contest might open many opportunities and stages for them. However,
they say, their good performance at the contest proper is all that matters
for the moment.

`This contest is very unpredictable, since there is no professional panel of
judges, and everything is decided as a result of the audience's voting.
Nevertheless, we will do our best and we won't disappoint our fans and
Armenians,' the sisters promise.

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14. Touching the soul: Young musicians deliver classical music to
Armenian youth

By Siranuysh Gevorgyan

ArmeniaNow reporter

Last Friday the Youth State Orchestra of Armenia held its first concert at
the State Medical University. More than 70 musicians of the Orchestra, who
are also students of the Yerevan State Conservatory, are aged between 16 and
24 and their aim is to propagate classical music among youngsters.

For some of the students who gathered in the `Red' hall of the Medical
University that was the first experience of listening to classical music and
when orchestra started playing Symphony No. 24 by Mozart even the most
garrulous students stop talking in the hall.

The Youth State Orchestra of Armenia was founded in 2005 upon the initiative
of Yerevan State Conservatory students. Conductor of the Orchestra Sergey
Smbatyan says that the idea of founding a youth orchestra always existed
at the Conservatory.

`All the members of the Orchestra are my friends, we all studied together.
The best thing is that we managed to orientate correctly and we organized it
on time,' says 21-year-old Smbatyan, a post-graduate student at the
Department of Violin of the Yerevan State Conservatory.

`If a student comes and gets pleasure, it means that he or she is able to
appreciate and perceive classical music. But if he returns home and listens
to pop music, it is not bad, either. I do not like extremes,' says Smbatyan.
`Pop music is a much easier genre of music; you may listen to it on TV,
radio, in a car constantly, whereas, classical music is considered to be a
more `closed' type of art.'

The orchestra is planning to have concerts at different higher educational
institutions in Yerevan. The repertoire of the Youth Orchestra comprises the
works of West-European, Russian and Armenian composers of different periods.
The Orchestra cooperated with such established names in the classical music
world as Vadim Repin (violinist from Russia), Mikhail Simonyan (violinist
from the United States), Denis Matsuev (pianist from Russia), Yuka Tsuboi
(violinist from Japan), and others. The employees of the state-funded
orchestra are on the state payroll. The orchestra is going to hold its next
concert at the Yerevan State University.

Meanwhile, a low cultural demand for classic music is a matter of concern
for many musicians. Armenian musical experts regularly raise the issue of
classical music not being propagated as often as necessary, and they give
assurances that it is impossible to listen to classical music out of the
doors of special cultural institutions (Opera, Philharmonic, and
Conservatory). Specialists believe that the reason is not only the fact that
classical music was traditionally considered to be more `indigestible,' but
also because it is almost not being broadcast on TV or radio.

Valentin Tovmasyan, Professor at Yerevan State Conservatory after Komitas,
Executive Secretary for the `Musical Armenia' magazine, and Editor of the
`Musician' newspaper, says there is no need to look for concrete sinners in
the current situation.

`People buy that `rabiz' music and spread it, don't they? Komitas did not
manage to clean the Armenian music from those foreign rabble decorations and
modulations during his whole life, and now we managed to give it up as a bad
job within a few years,' says Tovmasyan.

The musicologist remembers that during the cold and dark 1990s, when the
only music center was the Aram Khachaturyan Concert Hall, where Armenia's
State Symphonic Orchestra was playing.

`During those years the Concert Hall was overcrowded. Even housewives,
people who were far from classic music, were attending the concerts. And now
only professional musicians attend symphonic concerts,' he says with pity.

Tovmasyan says it is a very difficult problem, but still a solvable one.

`I strongly believe that not only professional musicians should be involved
in this issue, but also the statesmen. I do not mean that they should forbid
playing that rubbish music, but at least they can restrict its sale,' says
the music expert.

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15. Sport: Aronyan takes FIDE Grand Prix with dramatic last-round win in

By Suren Musayelyan


With a dramatic last round victory on Wednesday Armenian grandmaster Levon
Aronyan registered his second major success this year winning the top sort
at the prestigious FIDE Grand Prix tournament in Nalchik, Russia.

The 26-year-old chess ace, who shared the top spot with Hungary's Peter Leko
until Day 13 of the 14-man tournament, registered a victory with white
pieces in the game against his top opponent to secure the first place with
½ points.

Vladimir Hakobyan, the other Armenian grandmaster who participated in the
tournament, also registered a victory in the last round over Ukraine's Pavel
Eljanov, playing with black pieces, which helped him share the second and
third places with Leko (both with 7 ½ points).

(Source: Tournament official website


The latest rounds of matches in the national championship played over the
weekend provided no sensation as leaders Pyunik and Bananats comfortably
collected all three points against bottom sides Kapan's Gandzasar and Ararat
(with 4-0 and 1-0 wins respectively). Ashtarak's Mika and Ulis ended their
match in a goalless draw, while Gyumri's Shirak beat Kilikia 3-1.

Pyunik and Banants, opponents in the May 9 Cup final, are currently first
and second with 15 and 12 points in five games respectively. Mika and Ulis
share the 3rd-4th place with 10 points each. They are followed by Kilikia
and Shirak which both have 6 points. Gandzasar and Ararat suffered five
defeats in as many games and share the bottom spot. The two will have a
chance to pick their first points on Sunday when they play each other in
Round 6. Other pairs include: Pyunik v Shirak, Kilikia v Mika and Ulis v

(Source: Football Federation of Armenia)


The number of countries that have applied (as of April 28) for participation
in International Boxing Association (AIBA) junior boxing championships in
Yerevan on May 23-30 is 48, according to the Boxing Federation of Armenia.

The Federation's press service reported this week more than 500 people,
including 283 athletes, are expected to arrive in the Armenian capital for
the event.

Turkey is expected to send 13 boxers for the championships in Yerevan.
Armenia, Ukraine, Hungary, Russia and the United States will also delegate
sportsmen to take part in competitions in all 13 weight categories.

(Source: Boxing Federation of Armenia Press Center)


Armenia's women's team finished on top in the tournament of the Fed Cup
Euro-African zone's qualifying group 3 in Malta, reports Regnum news agency,
citing information provided by the Tennis Federation of Armenia.

Armenia's team, including Lyudmila Nikolyan, Anna Movsisyan, Ofelia
Poghosyan, Naira Khachatryan and captain Anna Gasparyan, registered
victories in all matches played, including the teams of Egypt, Moldova,
Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. By winning in the group the Armenian team
qualified for the second qualifying round in the Euro-African zone.

Armenia's men's team are participating in a similar tournament in Ivory
Coast. In the tournament to end on May 3 their opponents are the host
nation, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.