Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 303 - (27/03/06)
War is looming
Everything is pointing towards a renewal of the deadly Armenian-Azeri conflict
over Nagorno-Karabakh. Both countries have hardliners in charge. President
Robert Kocharian is himself a former president the warlord of the Armenian
enclave in Azerbaijan, while his counterpart in Baku hails from Nakhichevan, the
Azeri enclave between Armenia and Iran.
Enclavists are the most rebarbative of folk usually; neither of them being an
exception to this grim rule.
What is tilting the scales towards war is the oil boom that Azerbaijan is
enjoying. Aliyev is determined to use its fruits to rearm and amass a mighty
military. He has just re-introduced conscription. He boasts that the Azeri
military budget will soon be larger than Armenia's entire budget (see
He is forgetting one small point here. It will never equal the size of Russia's
military budget; and he should reckon that Moscow would definitely intervene on
Armenia's behalf if it looked as if it might lose any future war. Not that this
is very likely. The Armenians are great fighters. It is not just numbers that
count in warfare. Morale and military skills are all-important too.
Actually, the Russians are very likely to give assistance to the Armenians from
the outset, not excepting actual personnel. Aliyev should take note of the
Abhkaz-Georgian imbroglio, if he thinks otherwise.
Armenia will recognize Karabakh if talks hit dead-end - Kocharian
Confidence in the backing of Russia doubtless lies behind Yerevan's new tough
stance. Armenia will de jure recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh if
negotiations with Azerbaijan on a settlement of their conflict over the
predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan reach a deadlock, Armenian
President Robert Kocharian told journalists on March 2nd.
"Armenia should be prepared that the talks may reach an impasse, although
chances to make progress still remain," he said. "However, if
Azerbaijan firmly states that time is working for Azerbaijan and tries to
resolve the Karabakh issue by bolstering the army and using force, Armenia will
take the following steps: first and foremost, it will de jure recognize the
independence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh," the president said.
The second step would be "a set of agreements and laws that would allow
Armenia to ensure the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am speaking
about signing a wide variety of treaties that would view any attack on
Nagorno-Karabakh as an attack on Armenia," Kocharian said. The third step
would be the creation of a so-called 'security belt', he said.
Aliyev Prefers Waiting for More Acceptable Outcome in Karabakh Issue
It is a fact that the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, thinks that
time is on the Azeri side.
"At present, we have two options to solve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict:
either we agree to a treaty or proposal that does not satisfy us now, or we
reach a result more suitable for Azerbaijan after a while. I am for the second
option," said Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan in his interview with
Turkish NTV channel.
Speaking of progress in Azerbaijan in last two years, Aliyev said that the Azeri
budget now exceeds that of Armenia four times, and the economic and military
development will strengthen the position of Azerbaijan in the talks. We have
already commented upon this hollow posturing.
Armenia closer to US
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Matthew Bryza, praised Armenia's
efforts to forge closer defence links with the United States and discussed ways
of boosting its "energy security" during a visit to Yerevan on March
"The reason I am here is that I want to do everything I possibly can to
strengthen the already strong collaboration between the United States and
Armenia," Bryza told reporters after holding "very constructive"
talks with President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian leaders.
"We are working hard together to help Armenia to realize its desire to have
stronger relations with the Euro-Atlantic family. We are pleased with the
considerable progress made in this regard over past year," he said,
singling out the signing of Yerevan's "individual partnership action
plan" with NATO.
Bryza added that it is up to the Armenian leadership, which continues to regard
the military alliance with Russia as the bedrock of its national security
doctrine, to decide how far it wants to go in deepening military cooperation
with the West. "I don't think that the government of Armenia can move at a
pace that for us is too quick," he said. "But we are very happy with
the level of cooperation. This has been a significant year for US-Armenian
The issue was high on the agenda of his separate meetings with Kocharian,
Defence Minister, Serzh Sarkisian, and Foreign Minister, Vartan Oskanian. The US
official also had what he described as a "very detailed and interesting
discussion on energy security" with Energy Minister, Armen Movsisian, and
Armenian energy sector experts.
"The key to energy security for Armenia, as for any country, is diversity.
Armenia has a long and positive experience working with Russian gas suppliers
and that needs to continue," he said.
Bryza went on to indicate that Washington is ready to help the landlocked
country reduce its heavy dependence on Russian energy resources. But he stopped
short of endorsing the Armenian government's decision to build a gas pipeline
from Iran, the US arch-rival in the region. "The United States, like the
entire international community, is not in favour of any steps that will lead to
significant expansion of Iran's ability to project economic or any other type of
power," he said.
Bryza argued in that regard that diversification of Armenia's energy resource
supplies relates to "not just natural gas but other types of energy as
well, which is hydro power, geothermal power as well as potentially a new
generation of nuclear power."
The remark suggests that the US does not object to the Armenian government's
extremely ambitious plans to build a new nuclear power station in place of the
Metsamor plant, which is due to be decommissioned by 2016. Movsisian and other
Armenian energy officials admitted recently that they will need at least US$1
billion in foreign investments to put the project into practice.
Also, Bryza pointedly avoided any criticism of the Kocharian administration's
democracy and human rights record, speaking instead of the need for ordinary
Armenians to develop a "culture of democracy" and urging the Armenian
opposition to operate "constructively."
"We hope over the next few months and years to use all of our assistance
levers to build democracy not only from the top down but most importantly from
the bottom up," Bryza said, adding that the US considers Armenia to be a
The Bush administration approved recently US$235.6 million in additional
economic assistance to Armenian under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
program, saying that the Armenian authorities have addressed US concerns about
their commitment to democracy and good governance, which was unconvincing. Power
politics clearly outrank the founding principles of the millennium challenge
Account. That commitment was most recently called into question by their
handling of last November's disputed constitutional referendum.
Bryza further declined to confirm or refute reports that the US ambassador in
Yerevan, John Evans, will be recalled soon over his public recognition last year
of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide. The Bush
administration and the State Department distanced themselves from Evans's
remarks at the time, insisting that they did not signal any change in US policy
on the issue.
"He, like all of us, serves at the pleasure of the president of the United
States," Bryza said, sitting next to Evans. "It's up to the president
to make his own decisions, including on personnel."
"The fact of the matter is that I do not know when I will be leaving
Armenia and I have not submitted my retirement papers," Evans said for his
New conference on the Armeian genocide of 1915
Istanbul University on Friday, 10 March began hosting a three-day
international conference that aimed to bring a new approach to discussions of
the so-called Armenian genocide and its affects on Turkish-Armenian relations.
In his opening speech, Istanbul University Rector Mesut Parlak urged all
concerned sides to analyse the problem, which centres on disputed events of
1915, without concentrating on only a single event. "Besides the political
aspects of the events of 1915, historical, legal, social, psychological and
philosophical elements should be determined. The importance of this conference
is that the participants will analyse the different aspects of the Armenian
'genocide'," he said.
Parlak described genocide as a crime against humanity and said, "Such a
serious accusation must have a legal basis. The international law defining
genocide was adopted in 1948, and does not cover past incidents. Therefore, it
is impossible and illegal to characterize the 1915 incidents as genocide."
In a message sent to the conference, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul stressed that
Turkey is at peace with its past, saying, "We have no page in our history
to be ashamed of."
Noting that many conferences and symposiums have been held in Turkey recently on
the Armenian allegations, Gul said, "There has been an increase in the
amount of scientific research, articles and books published about the last
period of the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide claims. Thanks to studies
into the question, we have the opportunity to see the facts and to have the
voice of the truth heard against biased publications by the Armenian diaspora."
"Furthermore, we bequeath detailed data to following generations about a
period of Turkish history. I would like to emphasize that the number of
impartial publications in the US and Europe on this issue is increasing. Serious
steps are being taken to make public the facts," Gul said in the message.
Gul reiterated that archives from the Ottoman and Republican period were open to
all researchers for investigation and urged the Armenians to open their archives
to shed light on the period of history in question. "Last year we proposed
the Armenian government form a joint commission composed of historians to
examine controversial episodes in Turkish-Armenian relations. However, we
haven't yet received a positive response from the Armenians," he added.
Bulgaria to deepen transport cooperation with Armenia
On the second day of its official visit to Armenia, a Bulgarian parliamentary
delegation, headed by National Assembly Chairman, Georgi Pirinski, met with
Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, and speaker of the Armenian Parliament,
Artur Baghdasaryan, in Yerevan, the National Assembly press office said, Sofia
The sides discussed the intensive political dialogue between the two countries,
the development and strengthening of transport ties and cooperation in education
and culture. Pirinski proposed to organise a conference on coperation in
transport in mid-2006. For his part, Baghdasaryan said that Armenia needs deeper
transport co-operation with Bulgaria as it will facilitate the development of
economic contacts. In this context, Baghdasaryan proposed holding discussions
with the participation of two countries' parliamentarians in the summer.
MINERALS & METALS
Copper-molybdenum plant to invest 240m Euro
A government commission has approved an investment programme worth 240 million
Euro at the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant for the period 2005-2020, the
Armenian trade and economic development ministry said, Interfax News Agency
Investment in the programme's first phase to 2008 will be 157 million Euro and
will be targeted at developing the open pit (40 million Euro), the concentrating
plant (73 million Euro), the tailings dump (13 million Euro), communications and
buildings (24 million Euro) and environmental protection (seven million Euro).
Zangezur should absorb 47 million Euro of the investment in 2006, 63 million
Euro in 2007 and 27 million Euro in 2008. Investment was 20 million Euro in
Mining sector ups output 13% in 2005
Armenia's mining sector boosted output 13 per cent in constant prices in 2005 to
235.096 billion dram (514.4 million Euro), the trade and economic development
ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Sales rose 43.1 per cent to 232.386 billion dram and exports were up 18.8 per
cent to 144.51 billion dram. The sector has 17 enterprises with a total of 8,244
employees. The biggest are the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Plant, Pure Iron
Works, Armenian Molybdenum Production and Armenian Copper Programme. The
ministry said CJSC Armenian Copper Programme (ACP) increased blister copper
production in value 1.1 per cent to 21.31 billion dram in 2005.
Armenia posts new tourist record
Armenia's tourist sector increased last year with the number of foreign visitors
up by 21 per cent to over 318,000, Deputy Minister of Trade and Economic
Development, Ara Petrosian, said. The figures represent a new post-Soviet record
for the small south Caucasus country. Petrosian said that foreign nationals of
Armenian descent especially from Western Europe and the United States, continue
to make up the overwhelming majority of the visitors, New Europe reported.
The Armenian government has declared development of tourism a high economic
priority. "The average length of a tourist visit to Armenia is five to six
days and a typical tourist spends between 800 Euro and 1,000 Euro, including the
cost of air tickets, during that time," Petrosian noted. The government
officials and travel agents agree that the sum fails to make Armenia attractive
for budget travellers and hampers a more rapid growth of its tourism sector.
Armenian travel costs have hardly decreased in recent years despite the
emergence of new hotels and more frequent flights between Europe and Armenia.