EUROPE WARNS : The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has warned the Armenian authorities to end their crackdown on the opposition and release all political prisoners or face embarrassing sanctions later this year, RFE/RL reported.
In a resolution adopted this week, the PACE denounced the government’s heavy-handed response to the opposition campaign for President Robert Kocharyan’s resignation, saying that it is “contrary to the letter and the spirit” of its earlier recommendations to Yerevan. It also urged the authorities to “guarantee freedom of movement inside Armenia” and requires the government to submit by June a written report to the PACE detailing the steps it has taken in response to the recommendations.
MAESTRO PERFORMS: An Armenian delegation, headed by the president Kocharyan went to Paris April 25 to attend one of the farewell concerts of singer Charles Aznavour at Paris Palais de Congress, Armenpress reported.
The concert was one of 25 concerts which Aznavour has planned to perform to celebrate his 80th birthday on May 22. The proceeds from the concert, which amount to around $250,000, will be transferred to Aznavour pour 'Armenie Foundation for implementation of its charity programs in Armenia.
PRESIDENTS’ MEETING: Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan discussed the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh in Warsaw this week, where both leaders attended the European Economic summit.
Azerbaijan ’s president Ilham Aliev remarked that the Azeris believe that a settlement should be based on international law. "We respect territorial integrity anywhere," he said, “and we expect that to be applied to us." President Robert Kocharyan pointed out that many borders in Europe have been altered and some have disappeared with changing circumstances. I understand the position of Azerbaijan," Kocharyan said. "What we need is a peaceful, amicable divorce."
SUICIDE IN PARLIAMENT: Chief specialist of the protocol department of the Armenian parliament Hasmik Aramyan hanged herself Monday evening, Arminfo reported.
She left work at 7:30 p.m. and was found an hour later hanging from the hand rails of the 3rd floor near her department. She left a note specifying the place she kept the money for her funeral and asking not to blame anybody for her death. Aramyan was 45, single, lived with her parents, worked in the parliament since 1996. A forensic report will be ready in 20 days.
TV COMPANY ASKS FOR SUPPORT: “The Fund for Support of Freedom of Speech” and the Initiative Group for the support of A+1 TV Channel will organize a meeting in the support of the channel on May 3.
In 2002 the State Commission for TV and Radio recognized Sharm company as a winner in the tender for the 37th decimeter frequency. As a result, A1+ opposition channel was deprived of the license for 5 years, which aroused discontent of the opposition.
TURKEY SEEKS ALLY: Turkish Prime Minister has made it clear to the Azeri leadership that Ankara expects official Baku to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, PanARMENIAN.Net reported.
Meanwhile, as reported by Echo Baku newspaper, the Parliament of Azerbaijan does not intend to hurry in this question. Having recognized the independence of the Turkish part of the Cyprus, which is unacceptable to many EU countries, Azerbaijan runs the risk of losing all chances of EU membership in the future.
HARD CURRENCY: The Armenian national currency the dram, gained more ground against the U.S. dollar this Wednesday, registering its highest exchange rate since October 2000 despite weeks of political turmoil in the country, RFE/RL reported.
The dram was trading at an average of 549 per dollar in Yerevan’s currency exchange bureaus, making its value almost 3 percent higher than two months ago. Analysts found it hard to explain the phenomenon that bucked recent weeks’ global currency rate trends. The Central Bank of Armenia denies any role in the dram’s strengthening, insisting that its floating rate is determined by the market factors of demand and supply.
ARARAT MYSTERY: The US Trinity Corporation announced Monday that they have collected new satellite images taken over Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey that will add a new twist to an exploration that has been going on for centuries, Armenpress reported.
The images reveal a man- made structure at the site where the Bible states Noah's Ark landed. A team of scientists, archaeologists and forensic experts are going to excavate the object and collect samples beginning in August of this year. They believe the image to be a mammoth structure some 45 feet high, 75 feet wide and up to 450 feet long that was exposed in part by last summer's heat wave.
NEW BILL, OLD CONTROVERSY: By a vote of 79 to 2 with no abstentions Armenian parliament approved in the second reading a government-developed bill "On procedures for holding meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations."
The Armenia’s Justice Minister said that the government had taken into account most of the proposals received from international organizations. However the special representative of the secretary-general of the Council of Europe said that the bill did not correspond to Article 11 of the European convention on freedom of assembly.
GB POLICY VEXED ITS HERO: Veteran of Patriotic War Harutyun Shikhlanian returned British medals – Defense Medal and War Medal 1939-45 - as a sign of protest against statements of British Ambassador to Armenia Thorda Abbot-Watt that Armenian Genocide does not correspond to Genocide definition on UN Convention of 1948.
According to Shikhlanian who was drafted in Royal Air Forces of GB in 1943 it is necessary to pass the law that prohibits similar statements.
ARMENIANS IN IRAN : The once 300,000 strong Armenian community in Iran has shrunk away now to a little more than 100,000, Armenian ambassador to Iran told Armenpress. The majority of Armenians live in the capital city of Tehran, some 10,000 in Isfagan and around 1,000 in Tebriz.
The community, according to the ambassador, maintains all traditions and has strong potential. The Ambassador said that the Armenian-Iranian relations are entering a new development phase and expressed his satisfaction with Armenian-Iranian mutual projects, such Iran- Armenia gas pipeline, the Kajaran tunnel, the hydropower plant on the border river of Arax.