Books on Armenia
Principal ethnic groups
Update No: 306 - (29/06/06)
Some nations are defined by their people having been victims
of genocide. The two most notable instances in the modern world are Israel and
Armenia. Hitler linked his coming genocide of the Jews to that of the Armenians
by the Turks in 1915-16 by saying in 1938: "Who now remembers the Armenian
Actually the Armenians still do the Turks of necessity, and the Armenian
diaspora are making the facts, or at least their version of them, known to a
Armenians Mark 90th Anniversary Of Start Of Massacres
Armenians from around the world have commemorated the 90th anniversary of what
they call "Genocide Day" -- the start of mass deportations and
killings of their ethnic kin during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. For
decades, survivors of those events and their descendants have lobbied for
international recognition that "genocide" occurred. But successive
Turkish governments have denied the killings were aimed at exterminating the
Christian Armenian population.
It was a sombre occasion as Armenians from all over the world gathered in
Yerevan to commemorate the 90th anniversary of what they call "Genocide
Day." On April 24, 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian
community leaders in Yerevan.
It was the start two of years of mass expulsions and killings of Christian
Armenians by Ottoman authorities. Ceremonies in Yerevan on April 24 included the
laying of a wreath at the "genocide memorial" by Armenian President,
Robert Kocharian. Memorial masses also were being celebrated at Yerevan's Saint
Gregory cathedral, as well as in churches all over Armenia.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen perished as a result of
orchestrated killings as the Ottoman Empire -- the predecessor of modern Turkey
-- was crumbling. Authorities in Ankara have consistently denied that version of
events. Turkey says about 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed
as a result of "civil strife" when Armenians rose against their
Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian troops, which event, at least,
can hardly be denied.
In Yerevan on 23 April, more than 10,000 people marched with torches to demand
that Turkey recognize the killings as genocide. Armenians say they hope their
mass demonstrations will increase the pressure on Turkey. There are some signs
that the effort may be working.
Europe Urges Turkey to recognize the genocide
Also on 23 April, the Conference of European Churches called on Turkey to
recognize the genocide claim. On 22 April, French President Jacques Chirac
accompanied President Kocharian to a Paris monument for victims of the massacre.
And in Germany, members of parliament from across the political spectrum
appealed to Turkey to accept the massacre of Armenians as part of its history,
saying the move would help Ankara's EU aspirations.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan also says recognition of genocide will
help Turkey's bid for European Union membership. Whilst this might be considered
as impertinence by some, it could be right nevertheless, as Armenia famously has
an international 'lobby' considered second only to that of Israel.
"Genocide today is still a threat for the international community. That
issue has been addressed by the UN and others. Secondly, there is the issue of
Turkey's accession into the European Union. That's why this issue has also come
to the forefront. Because if Turkey would like to join the European Union, the
EU must ask. That's what they are doing now -- so that Turkey comes to terms
with its past," Oskanyan said.
Polish Nobel laureate and former president Lech Walesa has gone further. He says
Armenians have the right to demand that the European Union bar Turkey from
joining the bloc unless it admits to genocide.
On 19th April, Poland joined a list of 15 countries that have officially
acknowledged the killings as genocide when its parliament passed a resolution
condemning the Armenian massacres. The Polish decision has drawn protests from
Ankara. Turkish officials call the move "irresponsible," and say it
will hurt relations.
A Moral Issue
Armenian President Kocharian has been making some conciliatory gestures
toward the government in Ankara. He says Yerevan will not ask for financial
compensation if Turkey recognizes the killings as genocidal. Kocharian says
recognition is a "moral issue" rather than a financial one.
Many members of the Armenian diaspora worldwide converged on Yerevan to take
part in the ceremonies. Among them was Rubina Pirumyan, a Los Angeles resident
of Armenian descent who took part in the demonstration marches: "Today for
me is a very special day. I've been doing this for years and years --
commemorating the memory of the genocide, of the victims of the Armenian
genocide. And I am excited today because I am walking with the youth of
Armenia," said Pirumyan.
Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently proposed the creation of
a joint Armenian-Turkish commission to review the historical dispute. Several
Turkish officials have said they think the study will confirm Turkey's
arguments. To establish the historical facts certainly seems a reasonable way
forward, and represents progress from the point of view of the international
Kocharian in Brussels
Armenian President, Robert Kocharian, went in early June on a two-day visit
to Brussels to press the European Union for a quicker rapprochement with the
south Caucasus countries despite recent problems between the EU and Baku.
Azerbaijan has angered EU member state Cyprus by allowing commercial flights to
the internationally unrecognized Northern Cyprus. The tussle has thrown a
spanner into EU preparations to extend neighbourhood policy "action
plans" to the region.
The problems between Azerbaijan and EU-member Cyprus, indeed, come as a very
unwelcome development for Armenia. For the EU is in the habit of preferring to
deal with entire regions, not single countries at a time. As a result, both
Armenia and Georgia have discovered that their EU neighbourhood "action
plans" -- paving the way for closer political cooperation and greater
economic aid -- are held hostage to the spat between Baku and Nicosia.
Initial hopes that the "action plans" could be negotiated and signed
by the end of the year have begun to recede.
"It would be strange if the start of the planned talks between the
[European] Commission and Armenia on the draft action plan remained blocked by
the dispute between Cyprus and Azerbaijan over flights to Northern Cyprus, since
that dispute does not concern Armenia."
The unhappiness in the reactions of Armenian diplomats has been palpable in
recent weeks. Kocharian made sure that that unhappiness was felt by his hosts.
EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, offered solace, but no guarantees of a
quick breakthrough. "I hope very much that the neighbourhood policy that we
have established in the European Union will be a constructive and positive help
for Armenia in their relations with the European Union," he said. "As
you know still we have not completely started the negotiations, but we hope very
much that will be done in the foreseeable future."
EU member states retain full sovereignty in the area of external relations and a
single country can theoretically block any decision. The Greek government of
Cyprus held out for a long time before giving its consent to EU membership talks
with Turkey. Nicosia is likely to face far lesser pressure in the EU in its
dealings with Turkey's more remote ally Azerbaijan.
Privately, EU diplomats have said that no decisions on the south Caucasus
"action plans" will be made before Azerbaijani elections in November.
Even so, officials indicate there are no guarantees of a breakthrough for
Armenia and Georgia before the end of the year.
Kocharian told EU officials that "no country should pay the price for the
problems of others." It would, indeed, be an unkind cut if Azeri misdeeds
rebounded against Yerevan's EU aspirations.
Kocharian did draw support from Josep Borrell, the president of the European
Parliament. "It would be strange if the start of the planned talks between
the [European] Commission and Armenia on the draft action plan remained blocked
by the dispute between Cyprus and Azerbaijan over flights to Northern Cyprus,
since that dispute does not concern Armenia. We have been talking about that
with the president and I told him [of] my strong commitment that these talks
should be starting at the planned [time]."
However, Borrell's support is of little practical value to Kocharian, as the
parliament has no say in EU foreign policy decisions.
Nevertheless, the parliament has a role to play in shaping the political climate
in the EU and thus indirectly helps shape longer term decisions. Borrell pointed
to earlier efforts by the parliament that helped secure the southern Caucasus an
EU special representative, and forced the EU to include the three countries in
the neighbourhood policy.
The European Parliament has also been vocal in calling on Turkey to open its
border with Armenia and recognize the Armenian genocide. Borrell recalled that
the parliament had adopted a resolution calling for the steps before EU entry
talks were launched with Turkey. "The parliament has already set out a
declaration on the opening of negotiations with Turkey," Borrell said.
"We have already said whatever we think we should have said. And the
opening of the border and the recognition of the Armenian genocide was
[mentioned] in that resolution, that the parliament strongly requires these as a
condition. But this is the point of view of the parliament, we will have to
Again, the European Parliament has no formal powers to affect the decision on
Turkey. Its approval will be needed before Turkey can accede to the EU, but that
vote is unlikely to take place before the middle of the next decade.
Kocharian asked the EU to bring its influence to bear on Turkey to reopen the
railroad to Georgia -- which passes through Armenia -- instead of building a
new, direct link.
Solana told Kocharian the EU will "do its best."
However, last year diplomats said that the EU was inclined to agree with
Azerbaijani claims that the Armenian-Turkish border is one of the very few
levers the international community has on Yerevan in the Nagorno-Karabakh
Fitch assigns foreign and local currency ratings
Fitch assigned the Republic of Armenia foreign and local currency Issuer Default
ratings (IDR) of BB- (BB minus) with a Stable Outlook, the agency said in a
press release. At the same time Fitch has assigned a Short-term rating of B and
a Country Ceiling of BB- (BB minus), the release read. "Armenia's sovereign
credit ratings are supported by prudent macroeconomic policies and a declining
public and external debt burden that compares favourably with rated peers,"
said David Riley, managing director of Fitch's Sovereigns Group, New Europe
Impressive economic performance has been underpinned by a robust and coherent
macroeconomic policy framework and wide-ranging structural reforms that have
enhanced the capacity of the economy to absorb ad-verse shocks. Armenia's public
finances are a rating strength. Fiscal deficits have been contained at below
three percent of GDP since 2002 and are forecast to remain so, aiding a
continued reduction in the general government debt burden, which at 21 percent
of GDP in 2005 already compares well with its rated peers.
Foreign investment in economy soars 57% in Q1
Foreign investment in the Armenian economy increased 56.7 per cent to 94.3
million Euro in the first quarter of 2006, a source in the Armenian National
Statistics Committee said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Direct foreign investment amounted to 45.4 million Euro in the first quarter, up
27.4 per cent. Most investment - 47.6 million Euro went to the communications
sector, including 14 million Euro in direct foreign investment. There was total
direct foreign investment of 12.3 million Euro in the mining sector. The main
foreign investor in the Armenian economy in the first quarter was Lebanon at
26.9 million Euro, up 18.6-fold. Specialists at the trade and economic
development ministry tied this to increased activity by second cellular provider
K-Telecom (the VivaCell trademark), which is part of Lebanese investment group
Fatush Group. Greece invested 21.1 million Euro in the economy, down 44.7
percent. This was due to ArmenTel activity, in which Greece's OTE owns 90 per
cent. Russia invested 9.3 million Euro, up 380 per cent.
Vimpelcom submits bid to take part in Armentel tender
Russia's second cellular operator VimpelCom has submitted a bid to take part in
a tender to sell Armenian telecommunications company Armentel, the company's
press service said, Interfax News Agency reported.
Greece's Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation SA (OTE) announced plans
earlier to sell its 90 per cent stake, ArmenTel. Russia's leading cellular
provider Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has also submitted a bid. The remaining 10 per
cent in ArmenTel is held by the Armenian government. Renaissance Capital
analysts said these two operators are the most likely contenders to buy ArmenTel.
Besides VimpelCom, seven more companies have filed bids for ArmenTel, including
Russia's MTS and MegaFon. "Expansion on the Armenian market, which has a
low level of mobile phone penetration, could be good for MTS and VimpelCom,
which we think are the most likely candidates to acquire the asset,"
Renaissance Capital said in a report. ArmenTel has a monopoly on fixed-line and
long-distance services in Armenia.