EUROPE FAMILY: On June 14 the European Union included Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan in its Wider Europe Neighborhood Initiative, Armenpress reported. Within the framework of the EU Neighborhood Initiative, a number of projects will be created to help these countries to implement reforms and adopt the common rules, standards and policies that make up the body of EU law.
The European Security Strategy adopted by the European Council in December 2003, identifies the South Caucasus as one of the regions in which the EU should take a "stronger and more active interest".
VISA TO TURKEY: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied media reports that Turkey has imposed stricter visa regulations for Armenian citizens wishing to visit Turkey. Yerevan daily Haykakan Zhamanak claimed, citing a statement by Turkish foreign affairs ministry that from now on Armenians will have to get permissions from Turkish consulates in third countries. Until now Armenians could get visas at Istanbul airport or at checkpoints at Georgian-Turkish borders.
The Armenian ministry said no changes were made in visa regulations. The ministry said that under the international practice countries are notified beforehand if visa regimes are changed and so far the ministry received no notification from Turkish authorities.
TRIP TO BAKU: Two senior Armenian army officers will travel to Azerbaijan's capital of Baku on June 22 to participate in a NATO sponsored conference to be held within the frameworks of its Partnership for Peace program, Armenpress reported.The officers will go to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, to try to get visas from Azerbaijan's embassy there on June 21.
Last January, Armenian officers were not allowed to attend a planning conference for Best Cooperative Effort exercises. The president of Azerbaijan has made a commitment to the U.S. not to hinder Armenia's participation in the upcoming NATO exercises in Azerbaijan. Azeri officials pledged to provide security to Armenian participants.
OPPOSITION CAMPAIGN IS OVER: The Armenian opposition officially ended late Wednesday its unsuccessful spring campaign for regime change, again rallying several thousands supporters in Yerevan but setting no dates for the next protest,RFE/RL reported.
“The first stage of the opposition movement is over,” Albert Bazeyan, a leader of the Artarutyun alliance, said in a concluding speech. He said Artarutyun and its principal ally, the National Unity Party has to consider new methods of political struggle and need time for doing that. Other opposition leaders cited external factors such as the ongoing peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh to justify their decision.
PEACE-TALK: The recurrent round of negotiations on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement between Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers is scheduled for June 21 in Prague, said the Special Representative of the US State Department Richard Baucher.
The last meeting of the Armenian and Azeri foreign ministers took place on May 12 during the sitting of the Council of Europe foreign ministers in Strasbourg.
ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN YOUTH FORUM: World Congress of Armenians with the assistance of UNESCO is organizing an Armenian-Azeri Youth Forum in the Russian town of Sochi this autumn, PanARMENIAN.NET reported.
The participants of the Armenian-Azeri forum will discuss the problems impeding the establishment of neighborly relations between the countries.
HUMAN TRAFFICING: Armenia is primarily a source and transit country for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation mainly to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, as well as Russia, Greece, and other European countries, says the annual trafficking report of US State Department, Arminfo reported.
There were also several cases of trafficking in women from Uzbekistan to Armenia for sexual exploitation. Advocates expressed concerns about internal trafficking and trafficking of orphans, but no confirmed cases were uncovered. The Government of Armenia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, the report says.
DAMS RENOVATIONS: Within the framework of the second program of security of the Armenian dams, the World Bank will allocate a credit of $6.7million for repairing of 47 reservoirs, Noyan Tapan reported.
Roads leading to 16 dams will be improved. The World Bank has allocated $820.8 million for the implementation of 36 programs to Armenia since 1992.
TRADE: IRAN-ARMENIA: Last year Iran sold to Armenia goods value at $47 million, while Armenia exported to that country $18 million, Armenpress reported. In 2002 this ratio was respectively $43 million and $24 million. Armenia sells to Iran mainly copper, aluminum and synthetic rubber. Around 50,000 people from both sides visit the two countries and 32,000 trucks cross the border from both directions.
STREET FOOD: Despite Armenia’s Chief Sanitarian's recent prohibition, perishable products are still sold and kept in unsanitary conditions in Armenia, Arminfo reported.
The results of laboratory examinations of food and juices sold in the street showed that in 133 of 134 cases intestinal bacilli were found on disposable dishes. Bacilli were also found in juices sold by 61 street outlets. Staphylococci were founded in kyababs and barbeques. Over 60 economic entities had to pay fines ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 ($50-$90) drams for violating sanitary norms. The cases of 35 economic entities were sent to courts.
CITY IMPROVEMENTS: An area of 69,000 thousand sq.m. has been asphalted in Yerevan with the funds of the Yerevan Mayor's Office and area of 39,000 sq.m with the funds of the municipalities, Noyan Tapan agency reported.
According to Deputy Mayor of Yerevan, territory of 222 thousand sq.m of the streets of urban and communal importance will be asphalted with the funds of the Mayor's Office. The Deputy Mayor said that at present 63 Yerevan streets are provided with lighting and 22 out of 27 monuments subject to lighting have already been lighted. Work on lighting of buildings have been carried out for 53%, work on lighting of bridges and canyons is going on.
POOR HARVEST: According to Ararat region’s Governor there will be no apricot harvest in the orchards of the Ararat Valley this year, and a 20-30% harvest is expected from the peach orchards, Noyan Tapan reported.
He mentioned that the losses of the harvest are mainly conditioned by spring frosts. A total of 4,924 hectares suffered form frosts. A great damage was caused to the communities of the region as a result of spring floods; in particular, 944 hectares remained under water. The government allocated 56 million drams ($100,000) to the population for the compensation of the damage.