Books on Armenia
Update No: 313 - (25/01/07)
The Armenian-Turkish imbroglio
Armenia has a very special relationship with Turkey. The genocide of the
Armenians in 1915 by the Turks, in which more than 1.5m died, is still a very
live issue, since the Turks deny it ever happened. It took place at the moment
that it had become clear that the First World War had got quite out of hand.
Hitler said in 1938; "Who now remembers the genocide of the
Armenians?" with a genocide or two on his mind to come no doubt, indeed
another world war that got even more out of hand. Well, the answer today is
everybody - except the Turks.
Actually, this is not true of all of them, not the 60,000 Turks of Armenian
extraction for starters.
The tragedy in Ankara
People are still paying tribute to Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who
was killed on January 19th, by laying flowers at the scene of his murder.
"Roads leading to peace were torpedoed after the assassination of
Dink," said Aydin Engin, a journalist and a close friend of Dink,
editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, on January 20th.
Speaking to journalists Engin said everybody emphasized Dink's democratic and
pacifist personality after his death. "However, no attempt was made to
protect him before his death, although he has very openly been a target."
Engin said, "despite the promises that had been made to find the
perpetrators of similar incidents, they were never kept. The same process will
be experienced in this incident."
"We do not accuse anybody. Fanatic circles always attacked Hrant. Those who
wanted to prevent the Armenian Conference, and those who attacked Dink in
newspapers have salt in this bloody soup," he noted.
Erdal Dogan, lawyer of Hrant Dink, said Dink has been receiving threats for 2.5
years. "There has been hints for the past 2.5 years that this murder would
be committed," he added.
Pamuk sees defenders of 301 responsible for Dink's murder
The responsibility for the murder of Turkish-Armenian writer Hrant Dink should
be laid at the door of those who tried to portray him as an enemy of Turkey,
Turkey's Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk said on January 21st. Pamuk is another Turk
who recognizes the truth of the Armenian genocide, as is so of virtually all its
writers and intellectuals. Speaking during a visit to the offices of the Argos
newspaper in Istanbul, where Dink was gunned down, Pamuk said that those who
were still defending article 301 of the Turkish penal code were responsible of
Dink's death. "Certainly we all are responsible…. But firstly, those who
declared our brother an enemy of Turkey are responsible," Pamuk said.
Pamuk, who along with Dink was also tried under notorious article 301 of the
Turkish Penal Code, which covers the crime of "insulting Turkishness,"
said that Dink, who was the editor in chief and founder of Agos, was killed
because he expressed his thoughts.
Famous Turkish singer Sezen Aksu visited the Dink family and spoke of her
sadness at having lost one of Turkey's most courageous citizens.
There has been a significant reaction from those progressive elements in Turkish
politics and the intellectual world. The Ankara government has decided to
demonstrate its revulsion against this political killing and has extended the
hand, if not yet of friendship, at least of neighbourliness to Armenia.
Unexpectedly Turkey has invited Armenian civil and religious figures to attend
the funeral rites of Hrant Dink. A deputy foreign minister, Arman Kirakossian,
who is a former ambassador to the USA, will represent the Armenian government.
The Archbishop of the Armenian Church in America will also attend, as will many
senior figures from the Turkish parliament and government.
There is just the first indication that this mournful event at the passing of a
man who celebrated both his Armenian origins and his Turkish nationality, might
beneficially affect the moribund state of relations between the two countries.
One is reminded of the rapprochement between Greece and Turkey when both sides
demonstrated their humanity in sending rescue teams and aid, when natural
disasters hit their respective homelands. It was as though the grim old politics
of discord was over-ridden by the 'milk of human kindness'. There is actually no
fundamental contemporary quarrel between Armenia and Turkey when one considers
that the question of a series of massacres, or of genocide -call it what you
will, goes back more than ninety years. That could be dealt with as Norman Stone
the professor of history at Koc University in Istanbul suggested : "There
are a lot of balanced people here", he said, "who say, look, the
genocide issue is unclear, but if you just leave it as a matter of massacres,
then we can start making progress."
The reason that Turkish borders are closed to Armenians and their trade, is
directly due to solidarity with Azerbaijan, to whom Turkey is regarded as a big
brother - their counter weight to the Russian support of Armenia in the war over
Nagorno Karabakh. But Turkey would be right to now look first at its own
interests, which without deserting Azerbaijan in strategic matters, given its
clear focus as a secular government looking west, could do with finally settling
this Armenian problem in a statesmanlike way.
The Russian military base stays
Turkey is no longer a serious threat. But Turkic Azerbaijan is, with whom
the Armenians have a running sore, Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenians are dependent
on Russia for their security, every bit as much as Israel is on the US.
A year ago when Russia decided to raise the price for the gas supplied to
Armenia from US$56 to US$110 for 1,000 cubic meters, some journalists and
political circles in Armenia proposed to charge Russia for its military base
stationed in Gyumri. The absurdity is that not only does the Russian side not
pay Armenia anything, but Armenia pays for the utilities for the base - such as
electricity, water, phones, etc.
Armenian officials hurried to declare that Armenia could not charge Russia for
its military base since it was stationed in Armenia at Yerevan's request. Indeed
it is and very welcome at that, the guarantee of the independence of the nation.
The gas conundrum
Obviously, just a few years ago the CIS member states, including Armenia,
were buying Russian gas at a very low price and it is natural that Gazprom is
increasing the price now. When the United States, European countries and CIS
member states criticize the Russian gas policy toward neighbouring states they,
first of all, have in mind not the prices, but the fact that Russia uses its
energy resources as a political lever.
As a matter of fact only Armenia and Moldova among the CIS member states have
agreed to all the terms set by Russia for supplying gas. More than 80 percent of
the Armenian energy enterprises are now the property of Russia and in exchange
for this "good deed" Armenia pays US$110 per 1,000 cubic meters of the
On March 31, 2006 the government of Armenia and Gazprom signed an agreement on
cooperation in the energy sphere for 25 years. According to the agreement up
until January 1, 2009, the price for gas was set at the level of US$110 per
1,000 cubic meters. Russia also bought the 5th energy unit of the Hrazdan
thermoelectric power station and the first 40-kilometer section of the
Iran-Armenia gas pipeline currently under construction.
Some political and business circles in Armenia insist that the country's energy
independence is seriously threatened. In fact they are no longer energy
The reason is not just that it is Russia that owns 80 percent of Armenia's
resources, but that they belong to another country, which happens to be Russia,
and that this includes the systems of energy production, distribution and
supply. In other words, Armenia is dependent on one centre and it is meaningless
to talk about alternative energy sources. In fact, the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline
now becomes of little significance as well, since previously it could have not
only ensured the energy independence of Armenia but also be a transit route for
Georgia. Insofar as a nation's energy is equivalent to its independence, it
appears that this Kocharian government have 'sold the pass'.
Thus, it is clear that Armenia's energy security is in the hands of Moscow since
one way or another almost the entire energy infrastructure of the country
belongs to Russia. The only enterprise that still belongs to Armenia and
provides for 10 percent of Armenia's energy needs is the Vorotan thermoelectric
power station; but it cannot be ruled out that Russia will buy that as well.
Armenia to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey
Turkey has received a proposal from the Armenian government on establishing
diplomatic relations to pursue joint projects and open frontiers.
Armenian Defence Minister, Serge Sarkisyan, according to the Wall Street
Journal, said: "We intend to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey not
bringing up genocide as principal condition." Saying that "we want to
look at the future," the Armenian Minister hoped that Turkey's talks with
European Union opens such opportunity for Yerevan. At the same time, he stressed
that keeping the issue of the so-called "genocide" on the agenda is
necessary from the point of view of memory of the past and prevention of such
crimes against humanity.
"If Turkey opens its frontiers Armenia will be closer to Europe from a
geopolitical point of view, and we don't want to be enemies with Turkey
forever," Sarkisyan said.
Political observers of Turkey said that this proposal is backed by the Armenian
lobby of America and Europe, and the basic proposal is that Armenians want to
exploit the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Gumru railway.
Armenian economy grows more than 13% in 2006
The Armenian economy grew more than 13 per cent in 2006, Armenian President,
Robert Kocharian, said. The year 2006 was one of the most fruitful for the
country, he said at a meeting with entrepreneurs on December 26th, Interfax News
Construction and trade attributed the most to economic growth and this made it
possible to completely fulfil the state budget, he said. "The last two
year's economic growth is making it possible to form a socially-targeted
budget," Kocharian said. "We are increasing spending every year on the
social sector, for health, education and to provide a stable growth in wages.
This year we are planning a 20 per cent growth in budget revenue and it will
grow 30 per cent for several sectors, such as science and education.
Capital spending aimed at developing infrastructures has grown significantly,
which is a result of an increase in the quality of life and the creation of
necessary conditions for economic activity," he said.
Among the problems in the country, Kocharian pointed out the income gap between
the rich and the poor and the difference in the rate of development in Yerevan
compared with the rest of the country. "We must resolve the first problem
by a stronger social policy and concentrate on developing small and mid-sized
Resolving the second problem is connected with large budget transfers to the
regions," he said. The key for successful development next year should be
the continuation of reform in all economic sectors, especially in the tax and
customs sectors, Kocharian said. The country will start implementing a programme
to fight the shadow economy in 2007 that the government has developed with
international financial organisations, he said.
In talking about plans for 2007, Kocharian pointed out a number of big projects,
including continuing construction on the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, building and
upgrading the fifth generating unit of the Razdan Thermal Power Plant, the
second stage of construction on Yerevan's Evartnots Airport, upgrading the
Gyumri Airport and the Nairit Plant, as well as further restricting the Armentel
Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to be launched in Q2
Construction of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline has largely been completed and the
pipeline is currently being tested. It is planned to complete this work in
March-April 2007, after which the pipeline will be launched, a source in the
Armenian Energy Ministry said, Interfax News Agency reported.
The source quoted Armenian Energy Minister, Armen Movsisian, as saying the
former Soviet republic does not currently need supplies of Iranian gas and is
meeting its requirements with gas supplies from Russia. The launch of the
Iran-Armenia gas pipeline was earlier planned for December 20th, but was
postponed, as work had been delayed due to bad weather.
Movsisian said earlier that at the initial stage the republic might receive
300-400 million cubic metres of gas per year through the Megri-Kajaran pipe.
Armenia's annual gas requirements amount to two billion cubic metres. Armenia
and Iran signed an agreement in May 2004 on the construction of a pipeline to
supply Iranian gas to Armenia. The total cost of the pipeline, including the
reconstruction of the existing Kajaran-Yerevan pipeline, is estimated at
It is logical to delegate the management of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to the
Armenian-Russian company ArmRosgazprom, Armenian Foreign Minister, Vardan
"The matter implies not the transfer of the gas pipeline to Russia, but the
involvement of the ArmRosgazprom company. As far as I know, no final decision
has yet been made. However, I cannot rule out that the most logical decision
will be made, as all gas pipelines in Armenian territory are now regulated by
ArmRosgazprom, and the transfer of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline to
ArmRosgazprom is also likely, because, in my view, it makes no sense to set up
some new consortium for managing the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline," Oskanian
said at a press conference on December 19th.
Global gold invests 7m Euro in Armenian gold deposit
The US Global Gold Corporation has so far invested seven million Euro in the
development of the Tukhmanuk gold deposit in northern Armenia, the company told
Interfax News Agency.
Some of the money was spent on exploration and some was classified as operating
expenses. Global Gold started to explore the deposit in the third quarter of
2005. Mining began in September. The company is still analysing core samples but
at the same time it expects to extract around 40,000 tonnes of ore by the end of
this year. Global Gold is producing primary concentrate containing gold, silver,
lead and zinc at Tukhmanuk. It is extracting around 750 metric tons of ore per
day and processing 400 metric tons. The company has not decided whether to
process the concentrate on site or ship it to specialized companies. The ore is
being stockpiled so that the recovery plant can continue to operate in the
winter when mining will be suspended. The company is modernizing the recovery
plant and has set up a laboratory. Tukhmanuk contains a proven eight tonnes of
gold and could become Armenia's second biggest gold mine after the Zod mine.
Global Gold expects to produce 800 kg of gold and 2.4 tonnes of silver from
150,000 tonnes of ore at Tukhmanuk over the next two years. The company is also
surveying Armenia's Ankavan copper-molybdenum deposit, Terterasar gold deposit
and nearby Lichkvaz-Tey polymetal deposit and the Mardzhan polymetal deposit.