Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 307 - (27/07/06)
It is a great mistake for the world to ignore future
conflicts. The huge irony is that potential aggressors, for whatever reason,
usually declare their hand beforehand and are then ignored. One just has to
think of Hitler. He made it as plain as day what he intended - but nobody
believed him, bar Churchill and a few prescient people.
The case is rather different for the Armenians today. They know very well that
they have enemies among their neighbours, notably Azerbaijan. The following
report is no surprise to them.
Azerbaijan's Aliyev Says Karabakh Talks 'Hopeless'
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has described the efforts of international
mediators to resolve Azerbaijan's dispute with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh as
"hopeless," RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service has reported.
Aliyev made the comment during a graduation ceremony of cadets in Baku at
Azerbaijan's supreme military academy. He said Azerbaijan was ready only to
negotiate the restoration of its sovereignty over the disputed Armenian-majority
The failure of international mediation, the Azerbaijani leader said, was forcing
him to change policy. He said Azerbaijan would retake Nagorno-Karabakh by
whatever means it takes.
Aliyev warned Armenia that he would use Azerbaijan's rapidly expanding oil
wealth to strengthen the armed forces.
This is rather obviously a moment when Western leaders should take note - but
will they? It should be remembered that Russia has long represented itself as
Armenian DM Discusses Presidential Ambitions
Armenia's defence minister says he has given no "serious" thought to
seeking the presidential post in 2008 when current President Robert Kocharian
completes his second term. In an interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service, Serzh
Sarkisian said it was too early to decide whether to run:
"It's very difficult to say [if I will run], because I've never given it
serious thought," he said. "You may not believe me, but I am speaking
sincerely. I will make my decision after the parliamentary elections are held
[in May 2007]. All I can say is that I've never striven for any position. All of
my friends know this."
Sarkisian recently became an official member of Armenia's Republican Party, the
leading party in the country's governing coalition.
Opposition leaders have called for Sarkisian to resign if he intends to seek an
elected office. Sarkisian says for now he has no intention of resigning.
This is likely to be why Sarkisian is playing his cards so close to his chest.
He wants to go on being defence minister, the key post after the presidency in
Armenia. He certainly remains a front-runner for the succession, along with the
premier. Military expertise is as valued in Armenia as in Israel, a country even
more embattled than itself. Kocharian, as the former president and warlord of
Nagorno-Karabakh, is the Sharon of Armenian politics.
The following article by Armenians on the spot gives an informed interpretation
of the disavowal by Sarkisian:-
'Kocharian approves alliance with ruling party'
By Hrach Melkumian, Armen Dulian and Ruzanna Khachatrian
Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on July 20 that President Robert Kocharian
does not object to his far-reaching alliance with Armenia's largest governing
party and claimed to have not yet decided whether to run for president in 2008.
In an exclusive interview with RFE/RL, he also endorsed a compromise solution to
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict favoured by international mediators.
Asked whether he thinks he could be sacked by Kocharian for joining the
Republican Party (HHK) of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, Sarkisian replied:
"How can I rule out the possibility of the president dismissing me when he
is the supreme commander-in-chief [of the armed forces] and can do that with a
"But I rule out his doing so in connection with my affiliation with the HHK
because the president of the republic has fully approved my intention," he
said. "I think there will be an occasion for him or his spokesman to speak
Besides, what is the use of taking steps contradicting the opinion of the
Many Armenian politicians, analysts and media commentators are convinced that
Sarkisian's decision align himself with the HHK does not sit well with Kocharian
who is widely expected to resign after completing his second term in office in
early 2008. They say the recent creation of an extremely ambitious party by an
influential tycoon close to Kocharian is part of his efforts to contain the HHK
and secure his own political future. They also claim that Kocharian does not
necessarily back Sarkisian's reputed presidential ambitions, despite having
closely cooperated with the powerful defence minister for nearly two decades.
Sarkisian insisted, however, that he is still not sure he wants to be Armenia's
next president. "It's hard to tell. Really hard," he said.
"Probably because I haven't seriously thought about that. I am being frank,
believe it or not."
Speaking to RFE/RL on July 19, Markarian was likewise vague about Sarkisian's
presidential ambitions and stopped short of ruling out his own participation in
the 2008 presidential ballot. "We will see in 2008," he said.
Markarian also described as "logical" Sarkisian's decision to join his
party. "He felt that he likes the party's ideology and program," said
the Armenian premier. "Besides, we have closely cooperated during all these
years and are simply formalizing this fact."
Sarkisian has repeatedly made it clear that the HHK's strong showing in next
year's parliamentary elections is a necessary condition for his presidential
run. This is construed by opposition leaders and other government critics as a
sign that the Republicans will seek to win a parliament majority in the next
National Assembly at any cost.
They boast the largest faction in the current National Assembly, controlling at
least 41 of its 131 seats. Sarkisian implied on Thursday that the HHK should be
happy to have as many seats in the next Armenian parliament.
"I haven't yet discussed this topic with members and leaders of the
Republican Party," he said when asked how many parliament seats it is
looking to win. "But I have decided for myself that if the Republicans win
up to 21-22 per cent of the vote in the elections, I will consider that
satisfactory; [if they get] up to 25 per cent, [I will consider that] good; [if
they get] more than that [I will consider that] excellent."
Sarkisian further agreed with the Armenian government's overall acceptance of
the most recent international plan to resolve the Karabakh conflict which calls
for the holding of a referendum on Karabakh's status after the liberation of
Azerbaijani territories surrounding the disputed region. "Yes, I am in
favour of the proposed principles. How can I be against something which I have
said for years?"
The former wartime commander of Karabakh Armenian forces seemed to be undaunted
by possible popular opposition this peace plan. "If the public has a
different opinion, another political force will win a majority and pursue its
policy, and that would be very good," he said. "How can I oppose
something which is to our people's liking?"
Greg Realty to prepare 4th power line
The US company Greg Realty has won a tender to prepare a project for the
construction of a fourth power line between Armenia and Georgia, Levon Vardanian,
director of the development and PR department at the Armenian Energy Ministry,
said, Interfax News Agency reported.
He said the Georgian Energy Ministry called for the tender. The project work,
which will be financed by the Georgian side, should be completed by the end of
2006. The 400 kilovolt line will be the only power line capable of ensuring the
parallel work of the energy systems of both countries. Vardanian said the cost
of the project and sources of financing are still under discussion. Initially it
was planned to complete construction by the end of 2006, but work on the project
has dragged on, he said. Armenia and Georgia are currently connected by three
power lines: two 110 kilo-volts and one 220 kilo-volts. Armenian Energy
Minister, Armen Movsisian, said earlier that after the construction of the
fourth line the capacity between the two countries would amount to 650
Kocharian visits Iran to boost relations
Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, recently flew to Tehran to boost and
deepen Armenia's close economic and political ties with Iran, reported Interfax
News Agency reported.
Kocharian held negotiations with Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and
other senior Iranian officials. Kocharian signed a number of unspecified
"bilateral agreements." Kocharian's spokesman, Victor Soghomonian,
refused to give the details but quickly added that the Armenian leader discussed
a "broad range of issues" in Tehran. The presence of Armenian Energy
Minister, Armen Movsisian, in Tehran suggests that growing Armenian-Iranian
cooperation in the energy sector was high on the agenda. According to the
Armenian Foreign Ministry, Movsisian met with Iran's Oil Minister, Vaziri
Hamaneh, and Energy Minister, Parviz Fattah, to discuss multimillion-dollar
Armenian-Iranian energy projects, notably the ongoing construction of a pipeline
which is due to start pumping Iranian natural gas to Armenia next year. Yerevan
and Tehran are expected to sign an agreement to build a third high-voltage
transmission line that will connect the power grids of the two neighbouring
countries. The 80 million Euro project will be financed by a state-run Iranian
bank. The Iranian government has already provided a separate 35 million Euro
loan to finance the ongoing construction of Russia's state-run gas monopoly,
Gazprom. The Russian oil giant announced plans to buy the Armenian section of
the pipeline which was supposed to ease Armenia's strong dependence on Russian
Four bidders for telecommunications stake
Greek Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) owns 90 per cent stake in
Armenian telco ArmenTel. OTE announced that four firms were selected from 10
non-binding bids to participate in the next phase of the sale of the monopoly
operator. OTE said the final four were Russia's Ao Vimpelcom and Mobile Tele
Systems along with consortiums including VTEL Holdings and Knightsbridge
Associates, and Emirates Telecommunications, Emergent Telecom Ventures and
Istithmar PJSC. The Armenian government will retain 10 per cent of ArmenTel
which serves a fraction of Armenia's population despite its monopoly in wireless
and fixed-line phone services, Interfax News Agency reported.