Monday, 30 March 2009

Armenian News‏

The Irish Times
Friday, March 27, 2009
Turkey and Armenia poised to normalise ties

In this section elease a road map on a solution on Nagorno-Karabakh, a
region in Azerbaijan that has been under de facto Armenian control
since 1994. The parameters of the deal are very much set, said Hugh
Pope, the Turkey project director for International Crisis Group,
which is currently working on a report about Turkish-Armenian

The only thing holding things back now is nerves.

Analysts in Yerevan said the two governments have tentatively agreed
to reveal the package on April 16th, when Turkeys foreign minister is
expected to fly to Yerevan for talks.

Senior Turkish foreign policy officials refused to confirm the
date. The Armenian foreign ministry was unavailable for comment.

These are highly sensitive negotiations and both sides have gone to
great lengths to keep them secret, said a Turkish foreign ministry

A radical change of direction from Turkey, which closed its border
with Armenia in support of its Azeri ethnic cousins fighting in
Nagorno-Karabakh in 1993, the normalisation deal has been on the cards
since the AK Party took power in 2002. Talks accelerated considerably
after Turkish president Abdullah Gul attended a Turkey- Armenia
football match in Yerevan in September 2008.

Thomas de Waal, author of a highly regarded book on the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, thinks the deal has a lot to do with
changes in Russias south Caucasian policy since it went to war with
Georgia in August 2008.

The war really drove home Armenias reliance on Georgia as a trade
conduit, he said.

Russia saw that blowing up one Georgian bridge was enough to deprive
[its Armenian ally] of imports for a week. Plus the fact is that
Russia now owns Armenias economy. If you own the telecom sector and
railways, opening up the border is in your interest.

Analysts said the strongest objections to the package come from
Azerbaijan, which fears, not unreasonably, that the end to a Turkish
blockade on Armenia would reduce already limited Armenian incentives
to negotiate for a settlement on Nagorno-Karabakh. But there is
another, unforeseen stumbling block on the horizon: US president
Barack Obamas visit to Turkey on April 6th. Mr Obamas visit is
primarily aimed at mending relations with a crucial regional ally.

What makes it sensitive is that it comes barely a fortnight before
Armenians the world over gather to commemorate the Armenian massacres
of 1915. Mr Obama has pledged to recognise 1915 as a genocide.

Turkey staunchly opposes the use of the term.

To be candid, Im not sure this [Armenian issue] was factored in fully
in the initial decision to schedule this trip, said Mark Parris, a
former US ambassador to Turkey.

Like Mr Parris, Turkish officials are confident the visit will pass
without mishap. Washington is well aware of the process and [is]
working to facilitate it, said a senior foreign policy official. With
a motion for the recognition of 1915 due to appear before the US
Congress shortly, however, some think the normalisation package may be
kept waiting in the wings for a while.

If the Turks are smart, they will hold this back for leverage until
after the genocide commemorations on April 24th, said a Yerevan-based
analyst who is following talks closely.

For de Waal, meanwhile, the most important implication of a
Turkish-Armenian deal is that it could spur Armenian-Azeri peace talks
on Nagorno-Karabakh which he describes as being a parody.

Historically the Armenian-Azeri dispute is but a brawl compared to the
Armenian-Turkish dispute, he said.

If the Turks are doing a deal with Armenia, there is no reason
whatsoever for Armenia and Azerbaijan not to be able to . . . talk

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

28.03.2009 13:43

In line with the legislations of the Republic of Armenia, on March
29, 2009 (the last Sunday of March), at 2 a.m. the pointers of the
clock should be drawn an hour forward, marking the start of "summer
time," Information and Public Relations Department of the Ministry
of Economy reported.

RFE/RL Report
Friday 27, March 2009
Armenian Police Report Surge In Corruption Cases
By Tatevik Lazarian

The number of various instances of corruption reported to or
registered by Armenian law-enforcement authorities more than doubled
last year, a high-ranking police official said on Friday.

Colonel Hunan Poghosian, chief of a powerful police directorate
tasked with combating organized crime, said the police and other law-
enforcement bodies recorded 392 `corruption crimes,' up from 171 such
cases reported in 2007.

Speaking at a news conference, Poghosian said the sharp rise reflects
not only increased government corruption but also better crime
registration and greater government attention to the problem. He
claimed that the fight against graft and bribery in particular has
become the main focus of the work of his police unit.

In his words, more than a third of those crimes related to tax
evasion, while more than 130 others involved bribery, abuse of power
and embezzlement of public funds. About 100 cases were solved by law-
enforcement bodies in 2008, he said. Thirty of them were involved
bribe taking or giving. The Armenian police claimed to have solved
only two instances of bribery in 2007.

Poghosian did not specify the number of government and law-
enforcement officials prosecuted for graft, however. Very few of them
are known to have gone to prison over the past year.

Addressing parliament in October, President Serzh Sarkisian promised
`drastic steps' to address what his prime minister, Tigran Sarkisian
(no relation), has described as the number one problem facing
Armenia. `We will switch to tougher and more uncompromising methods
and a system of international standards,' the president said.

Armenian civic groups dealing with the problem, notably the local
affiliate of the anti-graft watchdog Transparency International, are
skeptical about these pledges. They say the authorities continue to
ignore media reports implicating concrete government officials in
corrupt practices.

Armenia ranked 109th in Transparency International's most recent
Corruption Perceptions Index covering 180 countries.
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