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10/18/2005
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1) Armenia's Military Spending to Keep Pace with Azerbaijan
2) 'Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians' conference concludes in Sochi
3) Turkey Warns it May Take Action against PKK in North Iraq
4) Orange County Community Welcomes His Holiness Aram I

1) Armenia's Military Spending to Keep Pace with Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)--A nearly 20 percent increase in Armenia's military spending
next year is a response to the drastic rise in similar expenditures in
neighboring Azerbaijan, officials in Yerevan said following Tuesday's closed
meeting of parliamentary commissions.
National Assembly Standing Defense, Internal Affairs and National Security
Commission Chairman Mher Shahgeldian confirmed plans to increase next year's
military budget to $150 million.
Saying that the move was planned considering Azerbaijan's drastic increase in
military spending, the lawmaker added: "We should pay attention to this
correlation. Our task in this case is to preserve our qualitative level to
ensure the country's defense capability and security."
Minister of Defense Serge Sarkisian said the sum is sufficient to ensure the
country's defense.
"This amount of spending is the minimum to ensure a due level of our army's
combat efficiency," he told the media. "For the first time the defense budget
has been made not proceeding from the absolute sum of previous years, but from
the percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that is, there is an
agreement that at least 3 percent of our GDP should be spent for defense
purposes."
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan plans to double its military spending in 2006
increasing
it to $650 million.
During the press conference, Sarkisian also spoke about the possible outcome
of upcoming elections in Azerbaijan and how they could influence the Karabagh
peace process.
"It is natural that if the opposition suddenly wins perhaps the negotiating
process would have to begin from scratch, and if the authorities win, I think
the negotiating process will be continued," the minister said.
Regarding his trip to Washington slated for late October, Sarkisian said it
was a routine visit, and not one to intensify military cooperation with the
US--at the expense of Armenian-Russian relations. "We wish to be friends with
both sides," the minister said.
Talking about the upcoming referendum on constitutional amendments, Sarkisian
said: "I don't want this referendum to be compared to a football match. I
think
that in case of proper work, a sufficient number of voters will turn out and
will say 'yes' to the constitutional amendments."


2) 'Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians' conference concludes in Sochi

YEREVAN (Yerkir)--A three-day conference about Hamshen and Hamshen Armenians
ended on October 15 in the southern Russian city of Sochi, home to over
100,000
Hamshen Armenians.
Currently a part of Turkey, Hamshen was a historic Armenian region that was
conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1491. Some Hamshen Armenians adopted Islam,
while others emigrated to the Russian Empire.
The conference was organized by the History Institute of the Armenian
National
Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation's
(ARF) Moscow Armenian Affairs office, with the support of Hamshen Union of the
Krasnodar region, and Yerkramas Armenian news center located in southern
Russia.
Scholars from Armenia, Russia, Iran, and the United States, including UCLA
Professor Richard Hovannisian, participated in the conference.
ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian, ARF Bureau member and National
Assembly Vice-speaker Vahan Hovhannisian, ARF's Moscow Armenian Affairs Office
Director Yura Navoyan, European Armenian Federation Chairwoman Hilda
Tchoboyan,
and ARF Bureau's Armenian and Political Affairs Office Director Giro Manoyan,
also participated.
The reports of the conference will be published in Armenian, Turkish, Russian
and English.
Organizers and participants noted that the event holds not only scientific
significance but that it also served as a bridge between Hamshen Armenians,
Armenia, and diaspora Armenians.
There are currently 400,000 Hamshen Armenians, half of which are Muslims.
Most
Christian Hamshen Armenians reside in Abkhazia and the Krasnodar region of
Russia.


3) Turkey Warns it May Take Action against PKK in North Iraq

ANKARA (Reuters)--Turkey said on Tuesday it would take steps to end the
presence of Turkish Kurd rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq, but stopped
short of directly threatening military action.
Turkish officials have repeatedly demanded US, Iraqi Kurd, and Iraqi
government forces crack down on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces in north
Iraq from where rebel leaders direct their fight for Kurdish self-rule in
nearby Turkey.
"The principal point which we have stressed at these meetings is that the
terrorist presence in northern Iraq must be combated," Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan told a meeting of his parliamentary party.
"So far, Turkey has maintained a patient stance."
But, he said: "Our nation expects us to take effective measures to clean up
the terrorist presence in the region. We will take clear and effective
steps to
bring this about. I remind you we will do what is necessary when the time is
right."
In the 1990s, Turkish forces launched repeated raids into northern Iraq to
hunt down PKK rebels in the mountainous region. Turkey still keeps several
hundred soldiers inside Iraq, close to the Turkish border, despite Iraqi calls
for them to leave.
But since the 2003 Iraq war, Turkish troops have not mounted any operations
inside Iraq against the PKK which is based on the Qandil Mountain in the far
northeast of the country.
US officials admit their troops are too tied up fighting the insurgency in
Iraq to turn their attention to the PKK which rarely engages in any hostile
activity inside Iraq.


4) Orange County Community Welcomes His Holiness Aram I

Pontiff meets World Vision, students, and visits Glendale Adventist and Ararat
Home

LOS ANGELES--His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
kept to his busy schedule, reaching out to all parts of the southern
California
community and on October 13, traveled to Orange County to visit Forty Martyrs
Armenian Apostolic Church in Santa Ana. Greeting His Holiness were leaders
from
Forty Martyrs Church and the various community organizations as well as clergy
from the Coptic Church and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido with the welcoming
procession led by the Homenetmen scouts. Anticipating the visit, The Orange
County Register newspaper had printed a lengthy article that day about His
Holiness.
After presiding over Hrashapar service, the community proceeded to the large
community center adjacent to the church for a special welcoming banquet
cultural program. In his remarks during the banquet His Holiness stressed that
there should consistently be greater collaboration and unity in the community
and the church with a renewed level of proactive participation, especially
with
the youth.
Earlier His Holiness started his day meeting with the international Christian
relief and development organization World Vision in Monrovia, California,
where
he held leadership meetings to discuss strengthening ecumenical collaboration
and partnerships between churches and humanitarian organizations. His Holiness
also spent some time at Glendale Adventist Medical Center where he met with
the
medical center's President Scott Reiner, the center's leadership, and visited
patients. The Glendale News-Press and the Associated Press wire service
covered
his visit to Glendale Adventist.
On Thursday afternoon, His Holiness met with over 250 college students at
Glendale Community College, an event organized by the ARF Shant Student
Association and co-sponsored by the Armenian Student Associations of Glendale
Community College, the University of California Los Angeles, California State
University Los Angeles, and Loyola Marymount University. His Holiness partook
in a lengthy open forum question and answer session in order to make the
session interactive. He answered questions regarding religion, faith,
education, the church, Christianity, and moral and family values. Students
came
away from the forum feeling enlightened and inspired because of their intimate
interaction with His Holiness as he clearly articulated his philosophy on the
many current issues facing students in everyday life. As with all the events
during the visit, the college student session received an enthusiastic
response
because of the ability of His Holiness to connect with all people, including
the youth.
On the previous day, His Holiness visited the Ararat Home in Mission Hills,
immediately after returning from Fresno, California. There he met with the
Ararat Home's Board of Trustees and staff and spent time with residents.
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western United States stated:
"His Holiness specifically wanted to visit the Ararat Home to share his love,
care, and respect toward our mothers and fathers."


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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress