Genocide Resolution in U.S. Congress in Center of Armenian Media Attention

“Despite warnings from Turkey and the White House, the BBC reports that House Resolution 106 which would recognize the massacre and deportation of Armenians living in Ottoman Turkey as Genocide has been passed by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.” Onnik Krikoryan reports on his blog. With 27 pro, 21 against co-relation, the US House of Representatives foreign affairs committee adopted a “pro-Armenian” resolution, Yerkir-Media reports, so does A1plus, noting, that after 3 hour-long discussions the house representatives adopted the 106 resolution calling to describe the “mass killings of Armenians more than eight decades ago” with its real name – Genocide.

Armenian media also pay a lot of attention to the violent attempts by Turkey to influence the decision. Public TV of Armenia featured live broadcasts from US Congress most of last evening. Yerkir-Media also had, quite predictably – excellent coverage, and also has put up a number of articles and videos on their website, describing the news as the “loss of Turkish diplomacy”.  A1plus is a little more cautious, bringing in the results of street inquiries and emphasizing the words of fellow-citizens, who think, that its still too early to celebrate, as George W. Bush has veto power, and reminding, that the House of Representatives has yet to adopt the resolution. PanArmenian net also responds pro-actively to the news, covering it almost on an hourly bases here, here, here, here, here and here, and quoting Armenian Assembly Country Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Arpi Vartanian as saying “Adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution by U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs is a big victory of the Armenian community of U.S.,” and also warning about the difficulties that lie ahead:

[PanARMENIAN.Net:11.10.2007] The AAA Country Director assumed the possibility of failure of the resolution in the full House. “Pressure on the Representatives is too strong. All kinds of tools are enabled. But Turkey’s blackmail will yield no fruit. Just remember the Turkish government’s fulmination against France and other states, which recognized the Armenian Genocide. But time has passed and Turkey forgot its threats, since they would have damaged its own interests. We carried out an investigation in 10 U.S. states which recognized the Armenian Genocide but have trade relations with Turkey. It turned out that the commodity turnover increased after recognition. Indeed, it doesn’t mean that Turkey will settle down and quit lobbying in the Congress. I should mention that it was the Armenian lobby from whom Turks learned how to work with Congressmen. But, naturally, they have more opportunities and more funds,” she said.

Panorama.am also covers the developments in a number of articles, and marks about the Prayer of the Armenian Catholicos in U.S. Congress:

[Panorama.am:11.10.2007] Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin B made a speech and read prayers yesterday while the Foreign Relations Commission was discussing Resolution 106 in U.S. Congress. Before leaving for Washington, on October 9, the Catholicos noted during a meeting of Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Committee: “The Genocide is a fact and denying it or opposing its recognition, no matter from what side, is unacceptable.” In the course of his visit to USA, the Armenian religious head visited the Memorial of Sacrifice in Boston and paid respect. The Catholicos mentioned that, as a nation that has undergone genocide, we share the suffering of other nations that have gone victim to acts of genocide. He appreciated the attitudes that recognize the Genocide committed against the Armenian nation.

Most of the “big” newspapers are as usual, too slaw to respond, evidently the resolution was adopted after most newspapers were sent to print and they all have small bits and pieces on their websites, as was done by Azg. Haykakan Zhamanak seems to have totally ignored the news, while Aravot has a cover photo/story saying George Bush and Condoleezza Rice have assumed their “traditional posture” of warning against the resolution.

Human Qualities Are The Priority for Armenian Voters When Electing President

A1plus has concluded the online poll of voter opinions to the question: “What do you consider the most important when electing president?”, which has ensured the participation of 441 people. 43% of those taking part in the poll have answered, that they find Human Qualities of the future president the most important. Another large section, 32% of the responses are for the “proposed programmatic points”, 6% have emphasized the importance of the political party where the candidate comes from, 13% have found it important to consider the president’s team, while 6% have found it to find any concrete answer.

I assume, that most of the A1plus readers are pro-opposition, and the number of those taking part in the poll is too small to be representative anyway. However, I find the results quite interesting. The fact, that only 6% are looking at the political party that the president represents also leaves a lot of room for consideration and speculation. When ARF-Dashnaktsutyun announces, that their candidate will most definitely win or at least make it to round two (which I personally find a very interesting and desirable development), I wonder how much attention do they pay to surveys and polls of this kind?

Ditord also on LiveJournal

Having monitored the Armenian blogosphere for almost 1 year now I can state with full confidence, that the most vivid Armenian blogging community is based on the LiveJournal blogging platform. As the Armenian blog review with its two versions: English and Armenian (the latter is temporarily halted) is intended primarily as a service to the Armenian blogosphere, I find it most appropriate to establish a mirrored LiveJournal version of this blog which will from now on be available at http://ditord.livejournal.com – closer to where the most bloggers are. However, as I like the WordPress interface so much better, I will continue to work primarily at this WordPress version of the Armenian Observer.

World Bank Denies Corruption Allegations

The continuous efforts of Bruce Tasker and Onnik Krikoryan for drawing attention to what they claim is a major corruption case which involves the Armenian government and the World Bank seem to have finally drawn media attention, Onnik Krikoryan writes, that the The Observer newspaper in the U.K. has published details of Tasker’s allegations, and the A1plus and RFE/RL have reported on the issue:

The World Bank on Thursday again shrugged off embarrassing allegations about gross misuse of a $30 million loan to Armenia that were first made by an Armenian parliamentary commission in 2004 and have resurfaced in recent weeks.
The loan was part of a 1999 World Bank project designed to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure and improve Yerevan residents’ access to drinking water. The Armenian parliament formed in 2003 an ad hoc commission to investigate the effectiveness of these and other large-scale infrastructure projects financed by Western donors.
In its first report made public in March 2004, the commission headed by deputy speaker Vahan Hovannisian concluded that the water scheme has failed to achieve its main objectives to due to mismanagement and corruption among government officials and private firms. The report deplored the fact that 27 percent of the World Bank funds have been spent on project management, overheads and logistics.
The World Bank office dismissed the claims at the time, insisting that the project’s implementation has been a success.
The Washington-based institution, which has been Armenia’s principal lender, was again put on the defense recently by Bruce Tasker, a Yerevan-based British engineer who had participated in the 2003-2004 parliamentary inquiry as an expert. Tasker detailed those allegations on his website and effectively implicated the World Bank in the alleged corruption.
“The fact is it was not an isolated case of a few thousand dollars here or there, it was tens of millions of dollars,” Britain’s “The Observer” newspaper quoted him as saying on Sunday.

Read more at Oneworld Multimedia.

Road Construction at “Ayrarat” Cinema Theatere Halted Leaving The Crossroad in a Mess

Travelling to work from Erebuni to Mashtots avenue every day means, that I have to spend over 1 hour per day being stuck in the minibus at the crossroad of Khanjyan – Agatangeghos streets and Tigran Mets avenue. From this forced daily observation of the construction site I came to realize yesterday, that I haven’t seen any construction going on on the section across “Ayrarat” cinema for around a month now. I remember being rather welcoming albeit a bit skeptical when this massive construction works started back in June:

Construction works are in progress also on the Khanjyan – Agatangeghos streets and Tigran Mets avenue crossroad. Considering the exceptional levels of congestion in this crossroad a multifunctional underground tunnel-passage is being built here. At the moment one-sided traffic is set up on the section across the “Ayrarat” cinema theatere.
This is all very good, but for the fact, that the anti-congestion efforts of the municipality have resulted in even more congestion. So now we know what’s going on, but will we be able to survive it all? Considering the state Komitas is in after two years of ongoing construction works I’m a bit skeptical. I guess we will have to wait about 2 years and see…


Having all this background in mind, I decided to stop by and check out what’s going on yesterday. It seems that I was right – the construction site was abandoned. This sign at the entry to the barrage hiding the construction site says the construction is due to complete in 7 months. Remembering that it started back in June I could easily calculate, that at least 3 months have passed leaving a big hole in the ground and nobody to even guard it. Does this mean that we all will have to endure the hell around this site much longer then originally planned? Does this mean that it will become another Komitas avenue? I called the City Hall (using the number on their website) and found no response. So today I wrote a letter to them with the following content and expect and answer, which will be published here:

I have noticed, that over the past 1 month the construction works of the underground passage accross the “Ayrarat” cinema theater have been halted. I would like to know, what is the reason for this, when can we expect the construction works to resume, and how this pause of works will affect the initial schedules of finishing construction.
I must note, that my question and your response to it will be published on the Armenian Blog Review electronic publication at http://ditord.wordpress.com and I expect your kind response as soon as possible.

Via the gossip channel on the same issue (!) a friend told me, that the road construction at the mentioned site has been stopped, because the digging has gone too deep without careful planning (aren’t you surprised(!) ?) and they have hit the wall of the tube (the tunnel through which the metro trains run). I guess all we can do now is wait and complain.
abandoned construction site at

Medieval Armenian Cemetery in Noradus, Armenia

The continuous destruction of Armenian cemeteries in Nor Jugha, Nakhijevan, Azerbaijan, Baku (Christian cemetery), Azerbaijan and the recent speculations about the possibility of demolition of the Armenian cemetery in Tbilisy, Georgia, got my mind wondering – when we, bloggers make all this frustrated posts and complain about the destruction of cemeteries – do we really care about them, or is just another newsworthy event?

Yesterday, on a trip to Vardenis from Yerevan, a friend pointed at the village of Noradus on the road, saying – there’s an interesting Armenian cemetery there. So went. Frankly, I didn’t expect it to be that(!) interesting, and I strongly urge you to visit, if you ever pass by those areas, especially if you’re a blogger consistently complaining about the demolition of Armenian cemeteries and destruction of khachkars.

Continue reading “Medieval Armenian Cemetery in Noradus, Armenia”

Levon Ter-Petrossian Meets With Dashnaktsutyun Sparking More Speculation

Onnik Krikoryan at 2008 Presidential Election Monitor reports, that in a surprise move the former and first president Levon Ter Petrosian has held a meeting with representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutiun. The meeting is a suprise, says Onnik Krikoryan , given the fact that Dashnaktsutiun was outlawed under Ter Petrosian, and senior party officials were arrested and ARF newspapers were shut down then.

On 29th of September in “Simon Vracyan” Center of Dashnaktsutyun party representative of the ARF Office Armenia Hrant Margaryan and the representative of “Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Body ” Armen Rustamian met Levon Ter-Petrosyan Aleksandr Arzumanyan. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was the initiator of the meeting. They discussed issues connected with internal political situation in Armenia and issues concerning coming presidential elections. Both parties found ideological-political debate necesary at this stage of development.

Via Oneworld Multimedia, via A1plus

Onnik Krikoryan further speculates, that the meeting will ‘raise some eyebrows among ARF-D supporters and not least in the Diaspora. For them, Ter Petrosian is considered something akin to a criminal and traitor and this news must appear strange after last week’s angry rebuttal of Ter Petrosian’s Friday speech.”

The news comes as a surprise even to active supporters of the former president. Aramazd call is a move worthy of a chess grandmaster, sounding really surprised, although he was perhaps the first blogger back in March 2007 to call for the return of the former president into active politics, and generally seems to know more about things going on with HHSh.

Ahousekeeper provides a link to the Regnum version of the news, also taking a brief look at the names of both parties: HHSh-Pan-Armenian national Movement (It’s rather “Turkish” then Armenian, the blogger says, was Pan-Armenian only back in 1989-90, and is rather like a swamp, not a movement), and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (although undoubtedly Armenian, it is not revolutionary for more then 90 years, and is not a Federation in its essence, but is rather a monolithic organization).

Mark Grigoryan is tired of politics, tired of Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict, Armenian-Turkish problems, tired of nationalism, elections and the fact, that the secret services of at least 3 countries are reading his journal. The guru journalist would rather prefer to sit somewhere in the autumn park and read poetry, but no… in this post he writes about politics again, because Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s  meeting with dashnaks. There was no dialogue between them for 14 years, after LTP prohibited the activities of the party. The meetings mean that the first president is literally breaking into politics, and although not long ago the blogger was sure, that Ter-Petrossian has no practical chances, no we can see his return – step-by-step. Mark Grigoryan is inclined to believe Levon Ter-Petrosian’s statement, that he hasn’t decided if he will run, and looking at the movements Serzh Sargsyan is doing in Russia (trying to get Moscow approval in the forthcoming elections), and speculating about his possible visit to US with the same mission, Mark Grigoryan is sorry, that once again the common people are lost amongst the political dealings and nobody really talks about the actual voters, who still remember the “dark” and poor years of Ter-Petrossian’s rule. It will be interesting to see Mark Grigoryan says, and I wholeheartedly agree.

A1plus blog goes even further, asking the readers to comment, if Levon Ter-Petrossian is going to unite with Dashnaks. While nobody thinks that there is a slightest chance for such a possibility, it is still a valid question.

Gost_474_90 writes about “writing provocative posts” and getting in the Yandex.ru top list,  and lists “writing about Serzh vs LTP” as the second most provocative way of doing that. If that is true, we can expect a lot more “provocative” posts in the Armenian blogosphere throughout the upcoming presidential elections, even as many bloggers, like Mark Grigoryan claim, that they’re tired of politics.

Politics of The Armenian Nuclear Power Plant

The Republic of Armenia identifies the need to implement reforms focused on individual branches of industry and sets the following priorities:
– to pursue greater energy independence through a diversification of energy supplies and production, the creation of new sources of energy, including nuclear energy, and to develop a stable and reliable export-oriented energy system;
National Security Strategy of the Republic of Armenia
National Security Strategy
of the Republic of Armenia

Fear of the return of dark years in 90’s, when there was no electricity in the country in many ways defines the domestic and foreign politics in Armenia today.
The dark days, conditioned by war, economic collapse and severe blockade of Armenia by Azerbaijan and Turkey as well as lack of infrastructures to compensate the negative consequences of the blockage via energy import routes through Iran and Russia (through Georgia), followed the closure of the Soviet-build Metsamor nuclear reactor, located about 30 kilometers west of capital Yerevan and taken out of operation after the devastating earthquake of 1988. The Nuclear Power Plant returned to service in 1995, and although it currently supplies only 40 percent of the country’s power, for many people its possible closure is directly associated with the darkest days in Modern Armenian history. It won’t be an exaggeration to state, that there is no single politician who would risk bringing up the issue of shutting down the Metsamor NPP without being thrown out of politics altogether.
Having this background it is not much of a surprise to hear, that Armenia has refused 200 million Euro EU loan for shutting atomic plant (Yahoo! Finance, AP| Sep 25, 2007). PanARMENIAN.Net reports: “The European Union’s stand on the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is clear: it should be closed, European Commission’s Acting Director for Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr Gunnar Wiegand told a news conference in Yerevan.” Even if the amount were twice as big, it would be hard to explain to Mr Gunnar Wiegand and the EU just how much the NPP means to Armenia, and why no alternative energy sources can compensate the political significance of the Metsamor reactor at this point.
And it is not just the dark years and energy security behind the reluctance to give up the NPP – it is a major strategic resource. A simple look at what Iran is suffering to establish its right for possessing nuclear technology would have been enough for Armenians to stand up and say – no way, we are not giving up our Nuclear Power Station!

Photo by PanARMENIAN.Net

Reactions to Levon Ter-Petrossian's Speech

“If the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian takes part in the pre-election campaign for the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, he will become yet another opposition figure, with all the consequences flowing from it”, Robert Kocharian told Regnum News Agency today. The incumbent president has reminded his predecessor, that the state budget of Armenia was $300 millions along with a budget deficit of $40 million, when he took over, and today the government are planning a budget of $2.5 billions.
It took president Kocharian 4 days to spell out these words, branded by Uzogh as the “bringing in heavy artillery” against the former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and serves as an important indicator, just how much importance the incumbent authorities are attaching to ex-presidents return.
Having noted the fast and balanced coverage of first president’s speech on Yerkir-Media (the video is available here), I have to state, that I’m utterly disgusted by the coverage on Public TV. This piece broadcast on Public TV (and made available on YouTube thanks to Uzogh) is sheer disgrace for all journalism professionals in modern day Armenia, and I can’t understand – why the money, which I’m paying as taxes to this country, is being used in such a hideous way, and who on earth has allowed a journalist with such poor understanding of the meaning and role of journalism to work on Public TV?
Responses follow also from various political parties: Republicans seem to take it easy, while ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, the party banned by Levon Ter-Petrosian, are being highly critical, as analyzed by the 2008 Presidential Election Monitor blog:

With speculation that the former first president, Levon Ter Petrosian, might enter the fray for next year’s election, his bitter foes, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashnaktsutiun (ARF-D) have responded to Friday’s speech given on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. As has been mentioned on this blog before, although Ter Petrosian’s criticism of the current system might strike a note with much of the population, critics argue that today’s problems first materialized during his tenure as president. RFE/RL has more.

Reacting to the speech, Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader and deputy parliament speaker, said Ter-Petrosian has no moral right to make such accusations because his eight-year rule was also marked by fraudulent elections, human rights abuses and other serious shortcomings.
“He spoke as if the population has already forgotten Levon Ter-Petrosian’s days in power — political repressions, the severe economic crisis that must not be linked with the war [with Azerbaijan,] and the terrible atmosphere that led to a massive emigration,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL.

Onnik Krikoryan also takes a look at the responses on Armenian newspapers, as well as the post by Nazarian, with very interesting comments on the video I’ve posted above:

In this piece they accuse LTP of allowing corruption become even worse, political assassinations, economic misdeeds, etc. Obviously, they did not forget to sing the old tired song about the cold and dark years either. It’s a powerful piece indeed; Goebbels would be proud of it.
But when you try to analyze the situation a little, you realize that this piece tells a lot more about the misdeeds of the current regime than LTP. Corruption now is much worse than during the LTP years as the amount of bribes has grown together with the number of areas where you need to grease palms to get business done.
The biggest political assassination occurred on Serzh Sargsian’s watch when the PM and Speaker of Parliament, together with ministers and MP-s, were murdered. Add to that a number of officials killed such as the Prosecutor General a few years ago and people who were officials during the HHSh rule (Artsrun Margarian, et.al.).
The polarization of the economy in the hands of a few people again occurred during the Kocharian/Sargsian years.
I am still undecided about the condition of democracy during LTP vs. the current administration. LTP banned the Dashnak Party in 1994. The Kocharian regime allowed it back into business but has been suppressing any dissent with carrots like government posts or sticks such as jailing and/or beating the crap out of the oppositionists.

Of other responses to Ter-Petrossian’s return I find especially noteworthy the posts by Unzipped and Narjan. The latter posted on September 21st a thoughtful piece, in which he speculates, that the former president’s comeback is staged by the current authorities and is directed against ARF-Dashnaktsutyun.
I can say, that I also held the opinion, that LTP’s return is being encouraged by the incumbent authorities, but at the moment I’m really undecided as to what I should think. Guess we will just have to wait and see.
As to Unzipped, I am amazed at how similar to my own views is his description of current political situation:

I noticed general tendency that people try to create an impression that there is no other choice in Armenia, they are the only ones. I do not buy it. Unfortunately, it seems that so far there is no real, ‘working’ candidate for opposition. And I do not want to make a choice between the lesser of evils, it is not a choice, it’s like a lottery, and I do not trust lottery. I want to have real choice. And by choice I do not mean that “anyone else will be better”. I need real alternative. If you do not provide me with a CHOICE, I’d rather stick with the current status quo, however critical I may be towards them.

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