Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 293 - (27/05/05)
On Sunday April 24th hundreds of thousands gathered in Yerevan
to mark 90 years since the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey in 1915.
This was the first of the twentieth century's genocides, although ferocious
killings and ethnic cleansing of a genocidal nature had already occurred in the
Balkan wars just before the First World War.
The next to contemplate genocide was Hitler who said in 1938: "Who today
remembers the genocide of the Armenians?" He of course had another set of
genocides in mind.
The Khmer Rouge, the Rwandans and Saddam Hussein made sure that the second half
of the twentieth century was not free of genocide either. The twenty-first saw
Saddam attempt an extinction of the Marsh Arab way of life amounting to
genocide, which the invasion of Iraq in 2003 successfully prevented (a fact
that, inexplicably, was not invoked by the victors to justify the conflict,
particularly so in Tony Blair's case since it was British troops that were the
saviours here). The Geneva Convention on Genocide of 1948 explicitly sanctions
outside interference to "punish or prevent" genocide.
Turkey may establish relations with Armenia
Turkey's prime minister said his country could establish political relations
with Armenia if the two sides agree to research jointly the killings of
Armenians during World War I, which Armenians say was a genocide, but which the
Turks deny that it was.
Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia; indeed it operates a trade blockade
with the country consequent on the Armenian occupation of 20% of Azeri
territory. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the daily Milliyet, that
Turkey might establish political ties if Armenia agreed to his proposal.
"Political relations might be established on one side and studies (about
killings) can continue on the other side," Milliyet quoted Erdogan as
Turkey has been opening up on the subject under pressure from the European Union
ahead of negotiations on membership in the bloc.
Earlier this month, Erdogan sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian
inviting Armenia to set up a joint research committee. Kocharian reportedly
responded by saying ties should be formed first, according to Turkish
Armenians say some 1.5 million of their people were killed as the Ottoman Empire
forced them from eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923 in a deliberate campaign
Turkey denies a genocide was committed, saying the death count is inflated and
insisting that Armenians were killed or displaced as the Ottoman Empire tried to
secure its border with Russia and stop attacks by Armenian militants.
No 'Rose Revolution' in Armenia
President Robert Kocharian appeared confident on April 11th that the wave of
successful anti-government uprisings across the former Soviet Union will not
reach Armenia, saying that it has a strong and efficient government. He also
joined other Armenian leaders in stressing the need for major concessions for
the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Kocharian's comments, made at a meeting with students of Yerevan State
University, were his first public reaction to the recent dramatic events in
Kyrgyzstan whose longtime autocratic president was toppled by angry opposition
crowds as a result of reputedly fraudulent parliamentary elections. The Kyrgyz
revolution rekindled talk of a similar regime change in Armenia where the
opposition refuses to accept the legitimacy of Kocharian's re-election two years
The Armenian opposition already tried unsuccessfully last spring to replicate
Georgia's spectacular "Rose Revolution." The success of the November
"Orange Revolution" in Ukraine and the anti-government revolt in
Kyrgyzstan could tempt its leaders to make another push for power this year.
Kocharian reiterated his argument that they stand no chance of ousting him in a
similar fashion because his administration boasts a much stronger security
apparatus and has a better economic track record than the toppled regimes in the
three ex-Soviet republics did. He said those regimes were led by Soviet-era
elites that were swept aside by their younger former disciples. Armenia has
already had two such "generation changes" since the fall of Communism
and is not in a post-election period, he added.
"These four factors have nothing to do with the situation in Armenia,"
Kocharian continued, responding to a student's question. "Nobody doubts the
determination of Armenia's government. The generation change has long taken
place in Armenia. In Armenia, we have no oppositionists that were dismissed for
working actively [in government]. On the contrary, [they were fired] either for
shortcomings or a number of other sins."
Kocharian did not claim that the disputed 2003 elections that gave him a second
term in office were more democratic than those held in Georgia, Ukraine or
Kyrgyzstan. He instead complained that his political opponents are too obsessed
with regime change in Armenia to stop challenging his legitimacy and end their
year-long boycott of parliament sessions.
"They have failed not because they are too bad, but because our country is
better and its government is more effective. If they realize this, maybe their
complexes will ease and they will calm down," he noted in a remark that
might be construed as both ridicule and praise.
Kocharian's top allies have likewise ruled out any spillover effects of the
ex-Soviet revolutions. "The situation in Armenia is not like that in
neighbouring countries or Central Asian republics," Prime Minister Andranik
Markarian told reporters on March 28.
Kocharian again cited official macroeconomic statistics to defend his seven-year
record in office, dismissing claims that Armenia's economic growth has largely
benefited a small class of wealthy government-connected citizens. He admitted
that even his wife Bella shares scepticism about the official growth figures.
"My wife told me ahead of this meeting yesterday, 'Don't talk much about
that growth, you get criticized for that'. But I am convinced that it is
necessary to talk about that," he said, complaining that government
ministers shy away from publicly defending the their economic policies.
According to official figures, the Armenian economy grew by 10 percent last year
and is on track to expand at a similar rate this year.
Kocharian insisted that benefits of the growth are finally trickling down. He
argued, for example, that the government plans to spend an extra 77 billion
drams ($170 million) in 2005.
Kocharian also pointedly acknowledged the inevitability of major Armenian
concessions as he commented on the current state of the Karabakh peace process.
"Today we must accept that compromises for the conflict's resolution are
inevitable," he said. "As for the extent of those compromises, let us
not talk about them today."
Kocharian repeated his influential Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian's claims
that a pro-Armenian solution to the Karabakh dispute requires strong public
support for the authorities in Yerevan. "The firmer we are, the more we
will get," the Armenian leader said. "The more we get, the
Sarkisian, who is seen as Kocharian's most likely successor, made a case for a
compromise settlement with Azerbaijan in his latest public statements on
Karabakh. Some observers and media have speculated that Yerevan is preparing
ground for its acceptance of a new peace plan put forward by the U.S., Russian
and French mediators.
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are expected to discuss the plan
at a meeting in London. The two men could also set a date for potentially
crucial talks between Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliev.
This, if it led to a rapprochement between the two nations, will do more than
anything else to improve the miserable lives of so many poor Armenians. For the
borders of Turkey and Azerbaijan to reopen and those ancient hostilities
consigned to the dustbin of history, a new chapter could open up for this
impoverished mountain state.
Despite Kocharian and his ministers saying why an 'orange' revolution will not
happen there, they know full well that it is quite possible closer to another
Armenian premier, Iranian deputy minister discuss gas pipeline construction
Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Markaryan, and Deputy Oil Minister of Iran,
Asadollah Salehi-Foruz, discussed issues related to the construction of the
Armenia-Iran gas pipeline in Yerevan, Arminfo Yerevan reported.
During the meeting, the sides also discussed Armenian-Iranian cooperation in the
energy sphere. Expressing their satisfaction with the current level of
Armenian-Iranian cooperation, Markaryan and Salehi-Foruz pointed out that there
was great potential for deepening bilateral economic relations between the two
Belarusian leadership, Armenian PM discuss cooperation
Armenia is a country with which one can have the very best relations. Like
no other people in the former Soviet Union, the Armenians remain faithful to the
friendship we have had, Belarusian President, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, said in
Minsk recently, Public Television of Armenia reported.
President Lukashenka stressed the importance of putting the days of Armenian TV
and showing Armenian films within the framework of events which will strengthen
relations between the two friendly nations, while helping each nation learn
about each others' culture.
Armenian Prime Minister, Andranik Markaryan, asked the Belarusian president to
allocate a plot of land for the Armenian community so that an Armenian church
can be constructed. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka instructed his people to
resolve the issue immediately. The Armenian prime minister and the Belarusian
president also discussed prospects for developing economic relations.
According to last year's statistics, Armenia was ranked ninth among Belarus's
trade partners in the CIS countries, with a US$11m trade turnover that is 12 per
cent higher than in 2003.
Armenia is our perspective partner in the South Caucasus, the Belarusian
Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan met Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
during his official visit to Belarus. The sides assessed positively the two
countries' political and economic relations.
The Armenian-Belarus business forum opened in Minsk recently. The forum
confirmed the main directions of cooperation, trade, agriculture,
machine-building, high technologies and other spheres.
Andranik Markaryan met Belarusian Prime Minister, Syarhey Sidorski. Some joint
agreements were signed. Andranik Markaryan and Syarhey Sidorski signed a
memorandum on free trade. Under the existing agreements there were restrictions
on the trade of sugar and alcohol. Now these restrictions have been lifted.
The Armenian health minister also signed an agreement on cooperation with his
Belarusian counterpart in the health sphere. Armenian Public TV and the
Belarusian National State TV Company also agreed to cooperate. Chairman of the
board of directors of Armenian Public Television and Radio Aleksan Arutyunyan
said there are prospects for cooperation and for the creation of joint projects.
Armenian foreign minister, EU official discuss cooperation, Karabakh
Armenian Foreign Minister, Vardan Oskanyan, and Ambassador Heikki Talvitie, the
special representative of the European Union [EU] to the South Caucasus, have
discussed three sets of issues at a meeting, the Armenian foreign minister told
a joint press conference with Talvitie, Arminfo, Yerevan reported.
The minister said that the first set of issues referred to cooperation between
Armenia and the EU which has acquired new quality in connection with the
country's inclusion into the New Neighbourhood policy. The minister said that it
is planned to submit a draft programme of individual development by the end of
the year and there is quite a lot of work ahead which will also depend on the
content of this document.
The second set of issues is related to the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict. The
minister said that the negotiating process, the developments around this issue
and its possible outcome, as well as the frequent truce violation were
The third set of issues includes relations between Armenia and Turkey in the
context of the exchange of letters by the leaders of the two countries and the
upcoming talks on Turkey's entry into the EU. "The dialogue focused on
these three directions. There is understanding and I think that our contacts
will be more frequent in the months to come," the minister said.
Armenia and Slovenia talk better business relations
A congress of Armenian and Slovenian businessmen was organised by the Foreign
Ministry of Armenia and the Union of Businessmen and Entrepreneurs at the
Yerevan Hotel on March 31st, Interfax News Agency reported.
The main goal of this business forum was to foster relations between Slovenia
and Armenia. The Slovenian ambassador to Armenia said that the congress was held
within the framework of the visit of Dimitri Rupel, Slovenian foreign minister
and president of OSCE. She noted that 15 Slovenian businessmen participated at
the congress. Natasha Marake, representative of the Trade and Industry Hall,
presented Slovenia's macroeconomic indices and the size of Armenia-Slovenia's
goods turnover. Gross domestic product (GDP) of this tiny country with a
population of two million is 26 billion Euro; economic growth is 4.5%. Per
capita index of GDP is 16.400 Euro. The main trade partners of Slovenia are
neighbouring Austria, Italy, Hungary as well as Germany and France. Armenian
Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy, Davit Avetisisan presented the
macroeconomic indices to Slovenian colleagues. He stated that Armenia-Slovenia
goods turnover is 1.1m euro, Armenia imports from Slovenia goods for one million
Euro. Pharmaceutical goods are in the first place with 700,000 Euro, while
Armenia exports goods, mainly textiles and chemicals for 100,000 Euro.