Saturday, 10 July 2010

More on Hillary Clinton's brief, incomplete Visit to Armenia‏

RFE/RL Report
Clinton Urges Final Push For Karabakh Peace In Baku, Yerevan

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Armenia and Azerbaijan
to finalize a framework agreement to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict as she visited the two South Caucasus states on Sunday.

Clinton spoke of `promising' signs in the protracted peace process
after holding talks with President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan, where
she arrived from Baku earlier in the day. In what appeared to be a
warning primarily addressed to Azerbaijan, she also strongly condemned
threats to end the bitter dispute by force.

`As I said earlier today in Baku, the United States remains committed
to a peaceful resolution based on the Helsinki Principles of non-use
of force or threat of force, territorial integrity and the equal
rights and self-determination of people,' Clinton told a joint news
conference with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward
Nalbandian. `President Obama reaffirmed this commitment in a joint
statement with [Russian] President Medvedev and [French] President
Sarkozy after a recent G8 summit in Canada.'

`We stand ready to help both Armenia and Azerbaijan achieve and
implement a peace settlement,' she said. `We know this will not be
easy. But we think it is the necessary foundation for a secure and
prosperous future.'

Armenia - US State Secratary Hillary Clinton is arriving to Yerevan in
a two-day visit, 04Jul,2010
When asked whether she is more hopeful about Karabakh peace after her
talks with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders, she replied: `It is
promising that the [OSCE] Minsk Group process is engaged very
intensively, and ... there is a recognition on the part of both
Armenia and Azerbaijan that any settlement must be based on the
Helsinki Principles.'

`And now we would hope to see real progress made on completing the
Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a final peace settlement,'
Clinton added, echoing the June 26 joint appeal of the leaders of
three powers co-chairing the Minsk Group.

Chances of that happening in the coming months were called into
question by the worst Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire violation in
Karabakh since 2008 that was reported on the night from June
18-19. Four Armenian troops and one Azerbaijani soldier were killed in
what Yerevan says was an Azerbaijani commando raid on a Karabakh
Armenian outpost in the disputed territory's north.

Clinton said she expressed her concerns to both Aliyev and Sarkisian
about this and other `unacceptable violations of the 1994 ceasefire
agreement' that stopped the Armenian-Azerbaijani war. `The United
States strongly condemns the use of force or the threat to use force,'
she stressed.

Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly threaten to win back
Karabakh and Armenian-controlled districts in Azerbaijan proper
surrounding it by force if the long-running peace talks yield no
results soon.

The deadly firefight occurred the day after Aliyev and Sarkisian held
talks in Saint Petersburg, Russia hosted by Medvedev. According to the
Kremlin, the two leaders narrowed their differences of the basic
principles of a peaceful settlement that were first formally proposed
to them by the mediating powers in Madrid in 2007.

Armenian officials say Medvedev presented the two presidents with new
proposals. Nalbandian referred to them as `a new variant of Madrid
principles.' He confirmed he and Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar
Mammadyarov will meet to discuss it in greater detail later this

According to the Armenian presidential press office, Sarkisian
discussed the unpublicized document with the American, French and
Russian co-chairs of the Minsk Group in Yerevan on Saturday. The three
diplomats, who held talks in Stepanakert Friday, then proceeded to
Baku and were due to brief Clinton there on the results of their
latest tour of the conflict zone.

Meeting with Clinton, Sarkisian described the conflict's resolution as
`the most important challenge facing the Armenian people.' He
indicated that a settlement must primarily reflect the will of
Karabakh's predominantly Armenian population.

By Gayane Abrahamyan
06.07.10 | 17:00

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's brief visit to
Armenia has sparked extended debate and discussion. Some are satisfied
that Clinton visited the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial, however,
there are still speculations: Why was it simply a private visit,
why didn't she enter the Genocide Museum, and finally, why didn't
she personally received souvenirs presented by the director of the
Genocide Museum-Institute?

Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in
Yerevan, says that the visit of the US Secretary of State to Armenia is
"a historical event in itself."

"Of course, we would like the visit to have another format, I mean,
(an official) visit, within the framework of which both the visit
to the museum and planting a fir-tree in the Memorial Alley would be
included. However, even the private visit is extremely important and
historical," Demoyan told ArmeniaNow.

Nevertheless, it was not possible to pass souvenirs personally to
Clinton even at the private visit.

According to Demoyan, a historical medal issued by the American Near
East Relief Committee in early 1920s to award the organization's
employees for their work in Armenian and Middle Eastern orphanages
was sent to Clinton even in the evening preceding her visit, because
Clinton wanted to have a look at it. A photo, depicting Armenian
orphans in the American orphanage in Alexandrapol (present-day Gyumri),
where children stand to form a sentence: "America, we thank you,"
was received on Clinton's behalf by her bodyguards, as Demoyan says,
"for security reasons."

Controversial opinions on Clinton's visit are voiced in Diaspora.

According to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), it
(visit) was "a missed opportunity" and "a step lacking a material
movement," whereas, the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) highly
appreciates Clinton's overture.

"Given the secrecy surrounding this visit, and the absence of any
publicly released remarks - much less a full and formal statement
recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the Secretary - it would
seem at this point, sadly, that this visit, while holding certain
special importance in its own right - does not represent material
movement toward proper U.S. condemnation and commemoration of this
crime. This visit truly was a missed opportunity for the Secretary
and for America," ANCA reported.

Nevertheless, AAA thinks that Clinton's visit "provides new impetus
to affirmation efforts."

"This was an important symbolic act and is appreciated. It was not
only consistent with her long-standing and public record, as well as
America's historical record acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, but
also helps us in achieving universal recognition and justice," stated
the Assembly's Chairman of the Board of Trustees Hirair Hovnanian.

Even though the US Secretary of State's visit to Armenia was private,
it roused a great response in Turkey, too.

Hurriyet Daily writes that the US Secretary of State's visit to
Tsitsernakaberd was "shocking."

The daily writes that Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission
on Foreign Affairs of Erdogan-led Justice and Development Party (AKP),
Mehmet Ceylan, said: "Hillary Clinton's visit is unacceptable within
the context of the suspended protocols. The visit is of grave concern."

Deniz Bolukbasi, member of the oppositionist Nationalist Movement Party
(MHP), said that Clinton's visit to Armenia was the responding step
toward "the failure of the Armenian-Turkish protocols caused by the
Erdogan-led party."

Clinton's Visit to Genocide Monument
Necessary but Not Sufficient
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

During her visit to Armenia on July 5, U.S. Secretary State
Hillary Clinton placed a wreath at the Armenian Genocide Monument at
Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan.Regrettably, however, the U.S. Embassy in
Armenia issued a press release describing the visit as "private." By
using such a characterization, U.S.officials were trying to preempt
any backlash from the Turkish government.

In my opinion, the State Department mishandled Secretary Clinton's
visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument. Here are the reasons why:

There was no need to downplay the visit by characterizing it as
"private," since such visits are standard procedure for foreign
dignitaries visiting Armenia.

Paying a visit to the Genocide Monument does not necessarily imply
recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as all previous and current
U.S.Ambassadors have visited this site every April 24.

Secretary Clinton's visit to the Genocide Monument could not have been
described as "private," since it was a part of her "official" visit to

The characterization of the visit as "private" was contradicted by the
fact that the ribbons on the wreath she laid at the Genocide Monument
carried the inscription: "From Secretary of State Hillary Rodham

Clinton's visit the day before to the "Alley of the Martyrs" in Baku
was not described as"private," creating the disturbing impression
that U.S. interests in Azerbaijan's oil weigh heavier than its
humanitarian concerns for victims of genocide.

Another double standard was Clinton not allowing any Armenian
government officials to accompany her to the Genocide Monument
in Yerevan,while she was accompanied to the "Alley of Martyrs" in
Baku by a Deputy Minister of Azerbaijan!

Clinton permitted neither the international press traveling with her
nor the local Armenian media, except Armenian Public TV, to report
on her visit to the Genocide Monument. Her action undermines her
advocacy for media freedom.

There was no reason for Secretary Clinton to be coy about Genocide
recognition, since Pres. Reagan had acknowledged it in 1981, and the
U.S. House of Representatives had recognized it in 1975 and 1984.
Even though the State Department downgraded Secretary Clinton's visit
to the Monument, Armenian officials did their best to publicize it as
much as possible! This time they acted more decisively than last May,
when Mevlut Cavusoglu -- Turkish President of Council of Europe's
Parliamentary Assembly -- refused to visit the Genocide Monument. They
insisted that the Secretary add to her itinerary a stop at the Genocide
Monument.They then arranged for Armenian Public TV and other TV
stations to repeatedly air the video of Clinton's July 5 visit to the

In addition, the website of the State-owned Armenian Genocide
Museum prominently featured Clinton's visit by displaying photos of her
wreath with ribbons that carried a visible inscription of her name and
title, and an authentic medal issued by the American Near East Relief
Committee that Museum Director Hayk Demoyan presented her. Pointing
across the Turkish border, Demoyan told Secretary Clinton that Mount
Ararat is "a symbol of Armenia." In addition to explaining the basic
facts of the Armenian Genocide, Demoyan told her that the graves of
heroes fallen in Artsakh (Karabagh) were located near the
Monument,since Armenians consider that war to be a continuation of the
Armenian Genocide. The Secretary was also given a historical photo in
which Armenian children in the American orphanage of Alexandropol
(Gumri) were standing information that spelled out the words:

Clinton's visit was both praised and criticized byArmenian-American
organizations. The Armenian National Committee of America took Clinton
to task for her "secret" visit to the Genocide Monument,while the Armenian
Assembly of America commended her for the visit. Former U.S.Ambassador
to Armenia, John Evans, told TheCalifornia Courier that "Clinton's visit was
a small, but positive step forward." The last Secretary of State to have visited
Armenia was James Baker in 1992, who did not,however, make a stop at
the Genocide Monument.

In my view, Secretary Clinton should be commended for making such a
positive gesture, but also blamed forgoing to such lengths to downplay
her visit to the Genocide Monument.Why was she so concerned about
offending Turks who have brazenly undermined every major U.S.foreign
policy initiative in recent months?

Unfortunately, Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden and Pres. Obama
have drifted far away from their campaign promises to recognize the
Armenian Genocide! Clinton's brief stop at the Genocide Monument on
July 5 is a welcome first step that fell short of her solemn commitment
to support recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

BBC News
Sunday, 4 July 2010 21:53 UK

This trip is Mrs Clinton's first to many Caucasus countries

The US secretary of state has held talks in both Azerbaijan and
Armenia in a bid to end a long-running dispute over the enclave of

Visiting both countries on the same day, Hillary Clinton told them
that the US was ready to help achieve peace.

The two nations have been in dispute about the territory since a 1994
ceasefire ended a three-year war that claimed up to 30,000 lives.

Mrs Clinton also urged Turkey to normalise ties with Armenia.

The US secretary of state is on a tour of Eastern European nations
and the Caucasus region. On Monday she visits Georgia on the final
stop of her trip.

'Necessary foundation'

On Sunday, Mrs Clinton visited Azerbaijan for talks with President
Ilham Aliyev before flying to Armenia to meet President Serzh

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Aliyev stressed that the ongoing
dispute about Nagorno-Karabakh was "the major threat" to Azeri

He raised the issue of ethnic Azeris displaced from the Armenian
enclave by its unilateral declaration of independence who have lived
since the 1990s in other parts of Azerbaijan.

"We want to find a resolution as soon as possible," Mr Aliyev said.

In response, Mrs Clinton told him that achieving a peace deal was a
"high priority" for the US - a message she reiterated after talks
with his Armenia counterpart.

"We know this will not be easy but we think it is the necessary
foundation for a secure and prosperous future," she told reporters
in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

Ethnic Armenian-Azeri frictions first exploded into furious violence
in the late 1980s in the last years of the Soviet Union.

Nagorno-Karabakh declared itself independent in 1991 - a declaration
still unrecognised elsewhere - heralding three years of bitter

Today, despite progress in 2008 and 2009, the issue remains unresolved.

Azerbaijan demands an immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from
the territory. Armenia insists on the enclave's independence.

Mrs Clinton also called on Azerbaijan to show more respect for civil
liberties, and for progress on the normalisation of ties between
Armenia and Turkey.

The two sides agreed in October to establish diplomatic links and open
their border after decades of hostility linked to the 1915 killings
of hundreds of thousands of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.

But ratification of the deal has since faltered.

"We urge Turkey to take the steps that it promised to take and that
both sides continue to try to find the opportunities to open doors
to reconciliation and normalisation," Mrs Clinton said.

On July 4-5, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Yerevan where
she met with President Sargsian and Foreign Minister Nalbandian to
discuss bilateral issues as well as issues related to regional peace
and stability. During her visit she also met leaders of civil society
and praised them for their efforts to promote democratic values,
including accountable governance, free and independent media, and
respect for human rights. The Secretary also made a private visit
to the Memorial at Tsitsernakaberd as a sign of respect for the 1.5
million Armenians who lost their lives in 1915.

Secretary Clinton's visit highlighted the U.S. Government's strong
partnership with Armenia. In 2010 the U.S. Government will provide
over $45 million in foreign aid aimed at reducing poverty, improving
rule of law, providing better access to health care and strengthening
private sector and infrastructure. In addition, in 2010 the Millennium
Challenge Corporation will distribute over $60 million to fund
renovation of irrigation systems and farmer education.

Most recently, the U.S. Government-funded two-year Global Development
Alliance project 'Health for Families' was launched on July 1 together
with World Vision to improve health care in the most remote districts
in Armenia by improving preventive health care counseling and the
management of common chronic diseases; and the Alternative Resources
in Media project was launched on June 30 in partnership with the
Internews Media Support NGO, the Yerevan Press Club and the Eurasia
Partnership Foundation to support Armenian media outlets and bring
independent and quality news to the Armenian public.

In the last twenty years the U.S. Government has spent over
$1.8 billion on foreign assistance programs in Armenia.

Armenia has an observer status in EurAsEC and is almost never attached
to the projects of this organization. But Serge Sargsyan, leaving
Hillary Clinton in Yerevan under the care of Edward Nalbandyan, for
some reason decided to go to Astana to the EurAsEC summit. Why Serge
Sargsyan so urgently needed to leave Armenia, and, to pay a visit,
which was not announced earlier?

Versions can be any a number. According to one of them - Serge Sargsyan
urgently needed to talk to Medvedev, who is also in Astana.

And, talk about the outcome of negotiations with Hillary Clinton. And,
oddly enough, not on the Armenian-Turkish relations and Karabakh
settlement, but on a broader issue - the Russian-American relations.

The point is that out of 4 questions, which at the joint press
conference with Edward Nalbandyan in Yerevan, 2 were given to the
American side. And one of the issues was about nothing else but the
US-Russian relations.

Moreover, Clinton has given a number of interesting statements on
this occasion. In particular, she called on Russia not to freeze its
relations with America, if they have individual stances on different
issues. She noted that the U.S. does not agree with the presence of
Russian troops in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But Clinton said that
in the Minsk Group on the Karabakh settlement the United States and
Russia are working effectively.

True, she did not say that the United States and Russia shared vision
on the NKR issue settlement, but, apparently, her statement was a
message hinting that at least in the Karabakh issue, Russia and the
United States could agree. And this may be a good basis for further

Perhaps Hillary Clinton said more to Serge Sargsyan on this occasion.

Maybe she even asked to tell something to Dmitry Medvedev. And this is
the reason of Sargsyan's urgent departure to Astana. It is possible
that Medvedev "asked" Sargsyan to come and tell him what they spoke
with Clinton and what she offers.

One thing is clear: the U.S.-Russian differences on most issues,
including Karabakh, remain, and the U.S. can not bring Russia to
its side. In these circumstances, maintaining the status quo in the
conflict zone is the lesser of two evils for all parties.

Maybe Serge Sargsyan went to tell Medvedev that the Saint Petersburg
proposals have failed.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Parties Disagree On Clinton Visit Results
Sargis Harutyunyan, Karine Kalantarian

Armenia's leading political forces offered on Tuesday differing
assessments of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to
Yerevan, with the ruling Republican Party (HHK) touting it as `very
important' for the country and its opponents sounding far more

Some local pro-democracy activists, meanwhile, expressed their
disappointment with Clinton's failure to publicly criticize the
Armenian authorities' human rights record.

`The American vector is one of the most important directions of our
foreign policy,' Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for the HHK, which
is led by President Serzh Sarkisian. `Ever since the first day of our
independence, there has been very close cooperation [between the two
nations,] and the United States has provided various assistance to the
young Republic of Armenia both in terms of democracy building and
other areas.'

Echoing statements by Armenian government officials, he said Clinton's
visit strengthened U.S.-Armenian relations. He cited Clinton's public
endorsement of Armenia's position on normalizing relations with Turkey
as another key result of the trip.

`We knew very well that the United States administration always
supported the Armenian president's pro-active policy of establishing
relations with Turkey without preconditions,' Sharmazanov told
RFE/RL's Armenian service. `But Mrs. Clinton went farther here.'

`This was a gesture to the Armenian authorities. I think this was also
a message to Turkey to the effect that the U.S. supports Armenia on
this issue and agrees with Armenia's view that Turkey is not
constructive and is speaking with preconditions,' added the ruling
party spokesman.

Armenia -- Giro Manoyan, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation party.
But a senior representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutyun), an opposition party highly critical of Sarkisian's
U.S.-backed policy on Turkey, downplayed Clinton's statements. Giro
Manoyan suggested that they were aimed at making sure that Yerevan
does not rescind its signature from the Turkish-Armenian protocols
signed last October.

Manoyan also reiterated his party's strong criticism of Clinton's
failure to describe the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman
Turkey as genocide during what the U.S. Embassy in Armenia called a
`private visit' to the Tsitsernakabert genocide memorial in
Yerevan. He denounced the characterization as `offensive' and said it
contradicts the fact that she laid a wreath there in her capacity as
America's top diplomat. `The American side should clarify what
happened,' he told RFE/RL.

Sharmazanov welcomed the wreath-laying ceremony, saying it showed that
the U.S. is `committed to democratic values and human rights.' He also
hailed Clinton's statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and, in
particular, her strong condemnation of threats to solve by it
force. The condemnation was primarily addressed to Azerbaijan, he

Manoyan countered that Clinton did not mention Azerbaijan by name. `I
would say that pressure over the Karabakh issue was mainly exerted on
Armenia,' he claimed.

Levon Zurabian, a leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress
(HAK), was more cautious in that regard. `The [Karabakh-related]
statements made so far suggest that no tangible results were
achieved,' he told RFE/RL's Armenian service. `It is possible, though,
that there are tangible results which both sides prefer not to make
public. If that is case, then we need to wait for the revelation of
those results in the near future.'

Armenia -- Levon Zurabian, a leader of the opposition Armenian
National Congress, holds a news conference on February 23, 2010.

What is certain, according to Zurabian, is that Karabakh was the main
focus of Clinton's weekend talks in Yerevan and Baku. He said her
avoidance of any contacts with Armenian and Azerbaijani opposition
leaders is an `indirect indication' that brokering an
Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal is more important to Washington than
promoting democracy in both South Caucasus countries.

`Being a mediator in the negotiations on a Karabakh settlement, the
United States is doing everything not to cause Ilham Aliyev's and
Serzh Sarkisian's discontent with its contacts with the opposition,'
said Zurabian. `That shows that the United States has relegated
domestic political issues in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to the

In her public pronouncements in Yerevan, Clinton stressed the
importance of Armenia's democratization, voiced support for local
civic groups, and expressed concern about a lack of media freedom in
the country. But she made no mention of the lingering fallout from
Armenia's 2008 post-election political crisis, including the
continuing imprisonment of more than a dozen HAK activists and

Artur Sakunts, a prominent human rights campaigner based in Vanadzor,
called that fact `worrisome.' `It reinforces my belief that
unfortunately non-public discussions on human rights are not
sufficient,' he told RFE/RL. `These are the kind of issues that must
be raised publicly.'

Sakunts's disappointment was shared by Levon Barseghian of the Asparez
Journalists' Club based in another northern Armenian city,
Gyumri. Barseghian said Clinton should have publicly demanded the
release of all `political prisoners' and denounced the authorities'
failure to punish those responsible for the deaths of ten people in
the March 2008 unrest in Yerevan.

Both Sakunts and Barseghian were among two dozen Armenian journalists
and civic activists who met with Clinton at the end of her visit on

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