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Pride.

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/\INI Cover Story

Karabagh After Gorbachev

Four years after Armenians shook the Soviet state with a demandfor the return of Karabagh, the U nion is gone but the problem remnins. Are Armenia and Azerbaijan on a collision course for war or can a

prorr\ul

tolutionbefound?

1

O

SpecialReport

Hard Times W ith C ommunism dead and a mnrket economy

in its

infancy , Armenians are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet. A report on how a typical family

lives----andhowyoucanhelp.

23

Media

Whose News? Huge media corporations shnpe the public' s perceptions of ethnic minorities. Are the images accurate?

27

Community

Surviving Geausescu Aft e r de c ade s of oppr e s s i o n, Arme ni ans i n R omnnia are rediscovering their roots and rebuilding an old

communiry.

30

Society

Hye Way to Love Romance is in the air, wedding bells are ringing. How do young Armenians find a soulmate today? Whnt do they lookfor in their petfect partner? Are traditions important? And how much does it all cost?

34

Sports

A Sporting Ghance Two young athletes leave the Soviet Union<ne by defection, the other by choice. Both seek the same thing: a chance to compete in the Summer Olympics. Publishers Note

Letters

Armenian World People

lnterview lnternational .

Vol. 3. No. f . is

rale

4 5

a 9

20 25

43

Prolile Traditlons

42

tusic

49

Books Art Essay

z9

46 47 50


/NNI Rtlished by AIt' lrrc.

A ltlodest Prcposal

Oskanian

Charles Nazarian; Minas

Armenia is in the grip of historic change as the Communist command system withers and the first uncertain shoots of a market economy emerge. For ordinary families, already used to difficulty, the changes are bringing fresh hardships to their lives. The cost offood and other daily essentials is skyrocketing as prices rise and the ruble grows increasingly worthless. Wages, once adequate, shrink in value almost by the week. The New Year will bring greater shocks as the republics remove subsidies from all but the most basic goods and liberalize prices.

Shoubookian (English)

lan Jinbashian (Armenian)

NS: Michael Nahabet

EDITORS:Kevork lmizian; Ara

Keropian

1:

lGherine Chilian

Gerard Libaridian, Florence

rcradian. Armen Aroyan, Gilda

ian. Chdsboher Atamian, Yvette . Mictael Mastarciyan, Lola Taline Voskeritchidn rhlmton: Zanku Armenian.

r

Ha-rlan

lletrolt:

Khatchik Sebouh Baohdovan Amstedam: &sen Naz

at

Kalchiah

Amman: Ara Voskian Buenoa Aitra: Sam SarkisSian

We wish to make a modest but practical are plenty of bodies with far more skill and experience at collecting and delivering aid. We do not want your money. Our strength is communications. We are a magazine whose stated purpose is to provide a link between Armenians around the globe. So we are launching a Partners in Friendship program. If you want to help a needy family in Armeniaon aone-to-onebasis, then contactAIM. We willprovide thename andaddress of a family that is seeking a partner in the Diaspora. After that, it is up to you hth to start a relationship. How the partnership develops depends entirely on you. Your partner may need clothes forthemselves ortheirchildren, ormoney tocope withrisingfoodprices. You may wish to sendregularmonthly aid parcels, orjust some extrahelptobrighten birthdays andholidays.

In retum-since friendship is never charity-Armenians in the Diaspora will

be

forming personal ties with families in the new republic, drawing us all closer together. AIM reports events so that you, ourreaders, may be better informed in these changing days. Times are hard, certainly, but far from hopeless. The power to act rests with you.

K€vork Jans€zian. San Frandsco: Armen Petro66ian, ilan York: Tonv Savino. Hanv Koundakiian ],lerv Jersev: Ardem Aslanian Bostoti: Lena Sahents, Ari

Stamitiou Providence: Beroe Ara Zobian Paris:

Armineh Johannes, Aline Mano-ukian Amman: Karekin

Kelelian Yerevan: Zaven Hachikian, Roupen lVlCESi: Dicran Kassouny Vartan lGraoohlanian : Thomas YetErian ,rmenia K. Sinanian )R: Seta Kouzouian Steganian, Victoria ratch Yirknabetian Karine Dienahian ;raohics- Cdnada : Ani

f:

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Haig

PHoToGRAFHY: Los Anoeles: Michael Aovan.

AIM is not a charitable organization-there

Cameras

Sonia

Mark

proposal for helping families like the Verdians.

TVTSC

Simon

aslian San Fr€nd3co: Janet

present. They are proud of their country and pleased by the political changes ofthe past year. But they are also fearful of what the future holds.

vPAL, SECAM,

H.

Kechichian

of

state socialism. For individual Armenians, young and old, the shock is all too painful, the therapy nowhere in sight as they struggle through winter. Our Special Report on page 23 highlights the impact these changes are having on the Verdianfamily, who are typical ofmany struggling to survive in Armenia

Keshishian;

onidn (Santa Fe) Batikian (Boslon) von Maraihlian rloin. Viken Berberian

Economists view this as necessary shock therapy for an economy wrecked by 70 years

; O.


forts at retrieving any parts of its historic lands. Gaytzag Palandjian Hohokus, New Jersey

Remembering our veterans Ihaveread with pleasurethe article "Arms and the Man" in the November issue. I had

the privilege

of

meeting General Haig Shekerjian when he and George Mardikian arrived to Stuttgart, Germany. I was doubly privileged assisting him in the gargantuan

task ofrelocating the thousands ofdisplaced Armenians to the United States. I will never forget the huge crowd assembled in the courtyard of Funker Kassern Armenian Displaced Persons Camp. Children

carrying bouquets of flowers, women with tears in their eyes, waiting for the arrival of the liberators. That moment will indelibly remain in my mind. Both Cen. Shekerjian and Mardikian felt the urgency, andembarked

upon organizing the Armenian National I was very pleased to see the classy cover of Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his poster within your November issue. However, I was very disappointed in the short coverage of the three very significant events in Armenia's history: the referendum, the declaration of independence and the first democratic presidential election. In a 5O-page magaz ine, there were only 67 pages of these key topics. All in all, your cover story did not dojustice to these series of "once-in-a-lifetime" news items. On another note, while reporting the "Blessing of Muron," you mentioned that "forthe first time in history" it "was attended

in

Etchmiadzin

by both Armenian

catholicoses." No names were mentioned and the picture showed only one of them. Should we call this inappropriate oversight? Other than that, keep up the good work.

Migirdic Migirdicyan T hornhi I l, O nt., C anada

It's al! a card game... Your article entitled "Looking Ahead" in the November issue is a superb, to{he-point analysis ofthe prevailing political and socio-

economical situation

in

Armenia and

Karabagh.

Your ultimate conclusion that Armenia "can be" geared to become

a pivotal power in the triangular competition between Russia, Turkey and Iran, especially utilizing the "Kurdish card 'and,I might add, throwing in the "Iran-Azerbaijan chip"-both effective bargaining tools-we couldenterthe region's sphere not so much for dominance-as you mention-but as a balancing factor. Consequently, we can then represent the missing "link" or "card" for one of the three powers for maintaining peace and equilibrium in the region. Iran would indeed be a better pa"rtner; so would the new Russia. Turkey will keep

doing its utmost to frustrate Armenian ef-

Committee

AMERICAN BISTRO

\(/ OBLD HEAI,TH CUI6INT A vide varieLy of international

healti nenuo irom frzuh pa6ta

tl veSetarian

lor tle healtl

fioh,

dishes.

conâ&#x201A;Źciou5

8eneralion ofltoday

-

Chef 6arky Der6houdian

offers: Drivalr

6 8.rp

classes in

HealthCookiqg

to Aid Homeless Armenians

(ANCHA). Mrs. Helen Shekerjian contributed to the effort by setting up classes and teaching the English language and the American lifestyle to the future American citizens.

The new Armenian-American community, inthe Armenian tradition ofhonest hard

213.93r.8167 6OO9 WEST 3RD STREET LOS ANGELES,CA 90036

work, built churches and schools

and strengthened the cultural presence of the entire community. Marty A. Kasparian B ev e r ly H il ls, C al ifor nia

"Arms and the Man"by Colonel Moorad Mooradian was very interesting and enjoyable, but the value ofthese men and the rank and file of all Armenian veterans of American wars have had a negligible effect on the American-Armenian community. The situation has developed by the Armenian political parties dominating the community and shunting them aside. Just like our martyrs, these veterans were

t,

zmrung to visit Paris to spend some time in the

willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for democracy, the principles of our govemment,

andthe Bill ofRights, whichareall held upto the world to emulate. The veterans are the most 'iA,merican" asset we have. They are what the shredded social fabric of our com-

munity needs--{iscipline and organization. Col. Mooradian and all the other highranking veterans can render us great service

if they organize to give the community a real American approach in our community life. This situation calls for action---one of their characteristics----once they realize how valuable they are in this respect. Charles N.

Mahjoubian

S out he a s t e r n, P e nnsy lv ania

"Arms and the Man" listed our hero, Lt. Emest Dervishian, from Richmond, Minnesota. This should have read Richmond, Virginia. Dervishian Day was one we will never

AlM, January 1992

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o risDedeian Richmond,Virginia

Talking fou! I'm complaining about

the foul language

used in the article "Talking Turf'by Berberian in the November issue.

ROGER K. DERDERIAN

llore on foreign universities

forget for a wonderful Person'

Viken

Mr. Harout Bronozian states that in spite of being a graduate from the American University of Beirut, and as much as he would like to have a positive attitude towards the establishment of an American university in Armenia, he does have reservations.

I

expletive could very easily have been substituted. A youngstercouldreadthis and use the foul language in the presence ofguests. Ifhe is admonished, "Oh, that's alright,I read it in AIM, so it's not wrong." Now where do we

enthusiastically support the idea of having an American university in Armenia and, why not, also a French university and centers of leaming from other nations. Because of their quality of education, the Armenian institutions of leaming should not and will not ever feel threatened in any

gofromhere?

manner.

In the last two

paragraphs, the word

Please don't think of me as a prude, for I do swearfluently infive languages, butnot in

mixedcompany. Edward Bolsetzian

Chichester,NewYork

Update on tankatun Jackie Abramian's article, "Bleak House" (October), accurately describes this facility. I visited the Mankatun in December'90 and again in November '91 . During that time the French relief organization Medecins Sans Frontiers placed five workers in the home. The team is starting a program ofrehabilitation throughplay and physical therapy. There is a new director, better food, and sheets on the beds. Thechildren are wearing new shoes supplied by the Armenian Missionary Association of America.In addition to working to bring these changes about, our organization has helped with clothing and toys. These changes, however, are lost in the overall poverty ofthe situation: the condition of the children still evokes tears; no assistance will make any difference until their new building, under construction for several years, is completed. We anticipate that the children may be moved by January. As we stood outside the Mankarun, a little girl, seeing our tears, clung to our Yerevan friend who brought us there, looked up and said, "Are you crying because you feel pity for us?" The problems of mankatuns are rooted deeply within our cultural attitudes toward the physically and mentally handicapped. I hope that exposure ofthis wound will promote the healing process and all of us will answer, "No, it is not pity but love that makes uscry. We will notcry andthen leave you forgotten."

Carolann

S.

Naiarian, M.D.

Presid., Armenian H ealth Alliance, Inc. C ambridge, Massachusetts

Yourarticle on the Mankatun, the Armenian orphanage, was both enlightening and shocking.It was frustrating toread, but illustrative of the enormous aid needed in Armenia. The Diaspora shouldtake heedfrom this

tragedy and commit itself to action. The apathy long exhibited must end. Robert A. Baker

Cherry Hill,New lersey

One very important advantage

of

a multicultural system of education would be the very means to train young Armenians in

diplomatic careers who would more effectively represent Armenia. Armenia needs

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trained cadres, experts in both fields of market economy and intemational politics. Mr. Bronozian's reservations are based on the fears that AUA will promote cultural and political control, "similar to the existing Russian control." He misses the point that Russian control was based on political and

military might, and a police-state regime. Russian cultural influence came out of necessity. It ishardto imagine thatby having an American university or a French university, Armenia would be placed under the control ofeither one ofthese two countries. He brings up the case of Lebanon as an example. Before the civil war, lrbanon was a center of culture and leaming with its multicultural universities-Arabic, French and American. It had been so for well over a century, and this had caused no civil war. Hagopl.Touryantz Flushing,NewYork Perhaps the

AGBU is doing

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of work in Armenia and has not had

the

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opportunity to consider helping enlarging existing departrnents in computer, business or engineering fields ofthe Yerevan Polytechnic Institute or Yerevan State University. Armenia should become the hi-tech data processing and computer center of Eastem Europe and the Middle East. Not only should America establish a university in Armenia, but French-Armenians should do the same. Perhaps the Sorbonne University could be the sponsoring organization of the French project. This would provide jobs for Armenians in engineering, architechrre, construction and other supporting fields. These universities would attract students from abroad and bring revenue to Armenia, in addition to providing a bridge between the countries of the graduating foreign students and Armenia. Who are the leaders of rebuilding Armenia sincetheearthquake? Many are Armenians living and working in the Diaspora. Technical and university schools should have some courses in the major languages of

AlM, January 1992

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61


the world. Countries like to do business

monthly magzines (one in English, one in Armenian) willnot weaken the level of your existing English-language edition. At this point, I feel AIM rivals many current publications, both in graphic quality as well as editorial content, and I hope that two versions will not hamper further efforts in rais-

with

people who speak their languages.

Albert Der Mateyasian Flushing, Neu'York

Oshagan vs. Saroyan

I

was fascinated by the lead article on Vahe Oshagan (July). What depth! Unfortu-

ing the existing quality to an even higher one. The magazine is still in its fledgling state and I would hate to see anything but growth in your future. Suzanne A. Froundjian

nately, your lead article on William Saroyan (May) was not of the same caliber; it was too superficial. I did not learn anything from it. What the Armenian reader needs is an objective literary, artistic and phi losophical assessment of Saroyan by objective world authorities in the literary field.

Manhasset, New York

Mrs. Froundjiqn's concerns are appre-

Edna Dumanian C

The May coyer

ciated and were taken into considerotion beJore the decision b launch the Armenian version was taken. As a malter offact, it was with that in mind that AlM-Armenian w,as started more than a year after the English version. There are two separate editorial teams for each edition, with the original English team proceeding unhampered to

hicago, lllinois

stotj wos meont to

be a

coverage of events surrounding Saroyan's det:ennial rather than a literary evaluation ot.his works

lditor.

Armenian edition

i nit

It came to my attention that November will be the first issue of AIM Magazine in

school. However. I wonder it producing

I

two

e stor ie

s-lditor.

Help or business?

Armenian. I am a second-generation American-Armenian, and an advocate of maintaining the Armenian language, especially in America. My daughterattends an Armenian day

iat e a nd updat

I

I

Armenia's economic problem is catastrophic, and yet the help sent there mostly ends up in the hands of a new class of millionaires, individuals who sell the relief goods for their own profit. What is the new "democratic" govem-

ment doing about this problem?

Hagop Katcherian Sru'kholm. Sweden

The tale of two peoples I use your magaz-ine as a relerence source

to leam about and from your social and political aspirations and objcctives. I have noticed great similarities betwcen our two nations-the Kurdish and Armenian. I have great respect and love lbr your people, and I admire the work that you are doing to help your nation. I hopc one day my community will be able to publish a highquality magazine like yours. I congratulate you personally and on be-

half of the Kurdish National Congress of North America. Della.laJJ Executiye member, Kurdish National Congrc.ss Board LETTERS should be addressed to:

Atf,

P.O. Box 3295, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 or Fax to (8tB) 54&228:, Comments may also be phoned in to AlMs new Telephone Letters Bank. Just catt I â&#x201A;Źt &546.t 3t 3 with yosr views, which will be corEidered fur publication. Letters, whether mailed or phoned

I

in, should include full *ame, address and

home lelephone number, and may be ediled tor purposes ol c-laraty and space,

0 v'-d e ilf (r r

...:'.

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Armenian lnternartional Magazine l0?

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1.A0(}-736 3246 AlM, January 1992


ETTâ&#x201A;Ź

Medzamot Betums The Medzamor nuclear power station is to reopen in an effort to beat crippling power shortages in Armenia, Energy MinisterRuben

Tchiftalarian has announced.

"Given the hopeless situation in the Armenian energy sector, the govemmenthas decided

only one-sixth of the fuel it needs. On the same day as Tchiftalarian's announcement, Azerbaijan said it would lift the blockade but gave no further details. The minister was quotedbytheNeganews agency as saying that

Armenia would also be able to export energy for hard currency once the plant's second reactor

to take the republic's

openedin 1993. The Medzamor plant, 15 miles (25km) west of Yerevan, was closed down in early

nuclear power station out of mothballs," he told a

December20 news conference in Yerevan.

first

reactor

"The

will

be

l989afterapubliccam-

brought on to line next year."

paign following

the

l936Chemobylnuclear

A gasarndfuelblock-

ade imposed by

accident.

Azerbaijan and the loss of the reactor's production when it was closed almost three years ago mean Armenia is getting

The

Proudly releases its new cassette recording "Armenian Dance Favorites Vol 3" Enjoy the big sound of the 10 piece Vosbikian band.Perfect parties! Great for the car! Order extra for family and friends Also available: Volumes 1 and 2 II

1988

II

I-

IIII

earthquake prompted

To order, please'make your check or money order payable to:

further fears over safety, but experts said the plant was not damaged and is

9 Tanner St., Haddonfield, NJ 08033 P

safe to use.

(Shipping & handling included)

The Vosbikian Band

I

I Name

PR

I Address aaaro

in Pafis

requested: Lry"|l- SEl',- -oI',l-

Armenia's Foreign MinisterRaffi Hovanissian urged the 300,000strong French-Armenian community to lobby theirgovemment forrecognition of the republic during a visit to

I

volumes

Paris.

Hovanissian told a meeting of

Fgqll'your

several hundred French-Armenians on Dec. 3 that Armenia could establish political and economic relations

Reol Eslote

with Turkey "without erasing the tragic Genocide

of l9l5

from our

:

memories." He also met

oilbtigreps

with French Minister

of Culture Jack Lang (photo), who announced that France would organize an important

Refrwncingandptgchofrs

exhibition of Armenian culture in 1994.

-Armineh

r$ec@'$&,r,

Johannes

will

tinecf

Crds

Womenlor Kanabagh

nians being held against their

Members of Armenian Women for Human Rights called attention to abuses in

Azerbaijani officials to Amnesty's westem

oApqtnrent Loons

Azerbaijan and Nagomo-Karabakh by gath-

region chairman, Magdaleno M. Rosa-Avila, in Los Angeles. Rosa-Avila is pictured ad-

rConstnrcfion

ering outside Amnesty Intemational's of-

dressing the gathering

of 75

by

-ffi---"-'.

women on

December 10.

JF"* \*a\E .*

t

'r{" Jl

oSoles & Nhrkeling

"We hope that upon reviewing these materials Amnesty will acknowledge the gravity of the situation and will act promptly by sending a delegation to investigate the conditions of prisoners," said Ani Garikian, who gave a presentation on human rights violations at the

:.

event.

-

More than 30 women, including

fices for Intemational Human Rights Day. They presented a list of Karabagh Arme-

refugees from Baku, held a candlelight vigil in front of AI offices in San Francisco. The Armenian National Commitee said members of its organization also contacted Amnesty and United Nations oflicials in Toronto, Athens, Buenos Aires, Sydney, L,ondon and Montreal.

I

AlM, January 1992

'

.

KARAYAN or JAQUtrIINE VARTAT{TAN

6mw.Brdwoy

'

I

J

,#21O

.qqn@.Cfu.?12Q4

*to"?&rM

Fox 818-?d6-dl8l


IPEOPLE -1

omp il ed by Kat herine C hi ljan

Who'sthatBirdWoman? .,.And snake, spider, scorpion and tarantula woman? It's Valerie Vartanian, who regularly gives animal shows for children at [,os Angeles' WODOC Nature Center. Her real job is Natural Area Park Supervisor at Placerita Canyon Park, Newhall, Califomia, where she helps manage the park, Nature Center, and volunteers, since cuts have considerably reduced park staff. '"The cities have grown and are surrounding us; we are nolongeroutintheboonies,"she said. "Visitors increase by l0 percent yearly, so the service is still needed." City-bom Valerie has been crazy for animals and the outdoors since she was a tot, loving her duck and tortoise as much as her catand dog. Hergoalhas always beentohelp better the humanrelationship with the natural ecosystem, simply "I want to save the Earth!" Before her park work, Valerie has

it is, or the weather,

unless we watch

it on

the only places that pay for you to be an environmentalist is if you're going to exploit

TV;

the environment; politics and religion go

exotic birds forprivate companies, andraised, imported and exported exotic parrots.

Valerie is fullofzingersaboutthepublic's regardfornature. "We don't leamnafure any more, we don'tknow what phaseof the moon

Where would you put a bunch of jelly bean jars, a Cossack saddle from Mikhail Gorbachev, a section of the Berlin Wall and 73,fi[othergifts given to formerU.S. President Ronald Reagan? Ask Charles Jelloian,

executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. The largest and most expensive of the nine U.S. presidential libraries, itcontainsover50

million papers,

a

replica of the Oval Office,

an audio-visual center and a museum. Jelloian has been responsible for the

plan-

ning and development of the $60 million library since he was hired by Reagan Foundation trustee and former Attomey General

William French Smith in 1989, when

he was mere 29 years old. "I get teased a lot about my age. People were somewhat surprised that the president would want such a young person doing it. I know the reason--Jre needed someone who could work 18 to 19 hourc a day, and I had good legs." Prior to joining the Reagan Foundation, Jelloian served as disa

or

worked at the [,os Angeles Zoo, handled

Jelloian and Jelly Bean Jarc

away if the environment goes away, so this should be our main focus for energy and funding." Manied to her former professor, Valerie keeps hermaiden name. "If I ever go out and achieve anything, I want somebody

to

see that

there's an Armenian out here

workingfortheenvironment." I

Albar-@nturyol*wing Inside an 87-year-old house and working on a lOGyear-old Singer sewing machine is who turns 92 this month. Lillie has been sewing and designing for customers

Lillie Chiljian,

in Los Angeles since 1925, when a lady on a streetcar asked her where she bought her suit. "1 made it,"Lillie said, andgavethe womanheraddress. Fromthatpointon, she sewedoutofher home, designing for executive's and doctor's wives, celebrities and Beverly Hills socialites. No one ever taught Lillie how 1s ssvy-i1 rnust have been a family trait. Her grandfather made uniforms for the Turkish army and her father desigrred handmade shoes for European export. It was only natural that she would apply for an apprenticeship in a millinery shop in Fresno, where her widowed mother had immigrated from Erzerum; Lillie had just completed the 8th grade. "Mother preferred me to wort in hats than in the local packing houses," she recalled. Lillie was so adept at frimming hats ttlat by age 16 she became store manager, eaming $30 a week and "all the hats I wanted---they called me the French girl." Then she made clothes for herself and her

youngcousins. She movedto

los Angeles

trictrepresentative

for Califomia State Senator NewtonRussell.

and was a seasoned

Working with the former president is Jelloian's favoriteperk.*My officeusedtobein

professional by 1949, when she finally opened her own salon under the name of Lill6 Deron, strictly forcustom work. "Inevercopy and Idon't use pattems; each one is an individual design."

A true couturibre, Lillie was never interested in large-scale designing. Butthatdidn't stopother designers from copying her creations. Her favorite client, '496 and '50s flamboyant

rial lawyer Gladys Towles Root, had designers following her all

the time, sketching her clothes. "Her suits were in the shops in no time, and they were my designs! I made everything she had." Among Lillie's numerous fashion shows was one entirely devoted to Root's wardrobe. Her latest fashion show was an Armenian church benefit that was featured on KCBS' 2 on the Town. Another favorite client is Califomia Secretary of State March Fong Eu (pictured with Lillie, at left). Lillie "retired" fr,om her salon when her husband fell ill in 1965, but she has sewn to this day-it keepsheryoung, shebelieves. "Iget boredwhen I don't work.Icouldneverbe idle.I work on the yardtwohours every moming beforelgo upstairs to sew." Lillie's eyes sparkled looking atnew material. "I'm anxious to get tothat wedding gov/n," she said, but she has a little time yet-it's in

May.

I

AlM, January 1992

Century City, right down the hall from his. I think that was the toughest part moving out here. I got used to seeing him every day." FortheNovemberOpening Gala, Jelloian was honored with the task of leading five U.S. presidents and six first ladies on the library tour. It was the first time five presidents were assembled in one place-an exciting way to conclude a project that began with @uent trips to a dirt hill. Currently, Jelloian is working toward the startup of the Reagan CenterforPublic Affairs, which will focus on significant national and international policy issues.


Fever Temperatures Are Rising{an Cooler Heads Prevail? By TONY HALPII{ and VARTAN OSKANIAN AIM photos by ARMINEH JOHANNES

he smoldering wreckage of a helicopter nearly became the spark that ignited a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabagh. All22members of what was described as a high-level peacekeeping delegation were killed in that November 20 crash-a gnrnly appropriate symbol of deteriorating relations between the two republics. War did not come this time, but as the dispute approaches its fifth year, few see any hopeful signs of a peaceful resolution. Normal life in the region has acquired the character of alow-intensity conflict, threatening at any moment to explode into something far worse. Like

a

vortex at the heart ofthe Transcaucasus, the Karabagh

fighting threatens to suck in not only Yerevan and Baku but Moscow, Ankara and Tehran. Events are gathering pace

as the rise

of the Commonwealth

of

Independent States places new pressures on Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve the problem. The death of the Soviet Union has radically changed the context of the Karabagh dispute. "It is a totally different issue," said Dr. Richard Hovannisian, professorof history at the University of Califomiaat Los Angeles. "We weredealing with intemal boundaries within a superpower, the Soviet Union, and now the issue is ultimately territory within a different state. "Whereas in 1988 it was still possible to think of a solution

from the top, from Moscow, there is no such possibility or assurance now. The context in which the Karabagh issue plays

today is much more one domestic relations."

of

intemational relations than of


So, will there be war or peace over Karabagh, ahd who is likely to influence the outcome? Can an equitable solution be found, or is the region condemned at best to become the Ulster of the Commonwealth? There are pressures in both republics to reject all compromises. The Karabagh issue ignited the demands for democracy in Armenia and the eventual destruction of Communism in the republic. Four years later, many of the leaders of the Karabagh Movement are in govemment and must tackle the consequences of that campaign for unity. They have responded by aftempting to place Karabagh in the context of the multitude of problems facing the fledgling republic. From the initial position of reunification at any price, President lrvon Ter-Petrosyan has adopted a more pragmatic strategy of seeking to stabilize the situation so that Armenia can concentrate on its pressing eco-

September 1990, an embittered and hostile Patriotic Front reduces hesident Ayaz Mutalibov's room for maneuver on Karabagh. The opposition in Azerbaijan is itself split into westemized, secularist groups which look to Turkey, and more conservative Islamic factions which lean toward lran, said Dr Tadeusz Swietochowski, a former fellow of Columbia University's Harriman Institute and a specialist on Azerbaijan. "Nobody in Azerbadan will admitthathe

is soft on Karabagh. Even if people are conciliatory and accommodating, they can not make it a public statement." Swietochowski described Mutalibov as a skillful politician who appears secure in his

grip on power in Azerbaijan. "He is not

nomicproblems.

Critics both in the republic and the Diaspora complain that Nagomo-Karabakh is being abandoned. They point to the Sept. 23 concord with Azerbaijan brokered by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in which Armenia agreed to renounce claims to the

territory. The government responds that Armenia can ill afford to drain its limited resources on Karabagh, and instead presses for intemational recognition of the dispute as one of self-determination for Karabagh's people. The issue has become a focus for opposition attacks on Ter-Petrosyan's leadership, and also the catalyst for a realignment of politics in the republic. Former Prime Minister Vazgen Manoukian, a founding member of the

Can an equitable solution be found or is

Karabagh Movement, quit the Armenian National Movement and established a new party to challenge his old colleagues. Asked to describe relations with former friends in the Karabagh Movement, Manoukian replied: "That is not the issue. Friendship and political destiny are different things. I have a lotofotherfriends to whom I wouldnot want to entrust the fate of Armenia." Manoukian told AIM in an interview published last month that he believed "war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabagh is inevitable." In Azerbaijan, where the Communist Party won elections in

the rcgion condemned at best to become the Ulster of the Gommonwealth?

1988 Jan. 11 through Feb. 18, A perition s[ned by 90,000 people,

requesting the

unification of Karabagh with Armenia, is presented in Moscow by a delegation from Karabagh.

February 8-20, uuge

numbers ot people in Armenia and Stepanakert take to the streets lc demand self-determination for Karabagh. Soviet authorilies cnndernn the potests as nalionalist prorocations ol "a group of extremists."

20,

Karabagh's regional assembly, the

25-27,

wing groups were pressuring the Baku leadership. Liberals in Azerbaijan who might be

Boumoutian. Dr. Hrair Dekmejian, professor of political science at the University of Southem Califomia, was highly critical of the original decision

Gorbachev meets in Moscow wi*r two leaders ol the Armenian protests, Silva Kapoutikian and Zerj Balayan, and promises io discuss the nationalities issue in an u@minS pany meeting.

displaced Azeri farmers backed by righr

prepared to work with Armenia find themselves being called traitors. "We have the same problem. Many ofthe Armenians here are calling Ter-Petrosyan a traitorbecause he is not talking about Armenian lands and the Genocide. He knows it's stupid to do it," said

Council of thâ&#x201A;Ź Peodâ&#x201A;Ź's Ogputies, approves a rcsolution by 110-17. salling fof reunification with Annenia. lt appeals to the Supreme Soviets ol Azerbaijan and Armenia to resolve the question of passirg the region to Armenia.

26,

going to risk undermining his political support, especially at a moment like today, by making some conciliatory gesture on Karabagh. "Ithinkhe is anopen-mindedperson who is willing to compromise on very many issues but with regard to Karabagh it is very difficult to tell. He is too clever to make any radical changes," Swietochowski said. "[But] He is a man who can strike deals. We have to remember that Transcaucasian politics always admit the possibility of deals at the same time that they take tough positions. It is a bazaar psychology." He added that Azeris feared the influence of the Armenian Diaspora and resented the "unhesitatingly pro-Armenian" stance of Westem public opinion. Swietochowski said it was in the Armenians' own interest to cool the situation by telling the worldthatAzeris werenotbenton genocide and that the situation was different from thatof 1915. Dr. George Boumoutian, associate professor ofRussian and Soviet history at Iona College, in New Rochelle, New York, said

ol Armenians in Samgait, an induslrigl

July 5, Special forces attack

demonstra-

tors blocking Yerevan

Massacres

.,.r

center in AzerbaiBn. The official death toll is given as 32, irrfuding 26 Armenians. Other souroes put the total killed at 81 (Moscow News),200 (Moscow Centrd TV news), 400 ffA$S), 530 (ARF documents). Armenian demonstrations re$rme.

airpo.t to stop the entry of Soviet troops into the capital. One person is killed and 36 wounded. Soviet troops with armored vehicles are deployed in the center ol


to raise the Karabagh issue in Armenia, which he said had "got out of hand." He believes there is a50-percentchance of war with Azerbaijan. "Armenians are not in a strong position at all and the opposition

Fears of Turkey siding openly with the Azeris proved too simplis-

tic, however. A week after the helicopter crash, when war seemed imminent, Turkey's new Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel sent a message to Azerbaijan to cool tensions and avoid "decisions which will cause hard-to-mend damages in relations between countries." On Dec. 16, Turkey announced it was recognizing all former Soviet

knows that," he said. "Given that objective reality, we need to somehow come to some kind of a temporary agreement, and try to reinstate some of the autonomy [of Karabagh] at least, while trying to

postponeamorepermanentsettlementtotharepublicsthathavedeclaredindependence. "Turkey will have more and more say in future." Inthelongerterm,headvocatesa..give-Transcaucasianpolitics,''saidSwietoand-take,'agreementinwhichArmeniawouldchowski...Turkeywilltrytocoolthings gain Stepanakert prus ^ i,:xl;,:Tffi3jj9#J;3,",.,;i:l'ffil:; Karabagh, in exchange for populatedareas.ThoughacknowledgingthatbyitscloselinkstotheWest,but thiswouldbea..majorblow''toArmenian,,Swietochowskiwamedofapossiblebackhesaid:..Intermsofpriorities,itismuchlashiftheWestrebuffedTurkey. moreimportantforAimeniatobeabletoDekmejianalsoseesTurkey'seffortsto sustainitself,particularlyitslowerha1f.''jointheEuropeanCommunityarrdtomainCertainlythecrisisisseepingintosouth-tainstrongrelationswiththeUnitedStateSin emArmenia.Thegovemmentimposeduanerawhenitisnolongerneededasa StateofemergencyinthesoutheastofthebulwarkagainstSovietCommunismasim-

Jffllro";rf:.f

countryonDec'',u'"n"'ol"i#T;.:'Jf#j

an Azerbaijani train and tor

["#ffirflTi:fr,in

its poricv toward the

hostage.Mostwerelaterreleased.Earlier..Ifitwasn'tforSaddam'sSfupidity,that thatday,Azerbaiianiguerrillashadattackedperceptionoftheirbeingneededwouldhave anArmenianmotorcadeinthesouth,seri-evaporatedevenmorequickly.Demirelisan ouslywoundingoneman.oldfoxandassecularistasyoucanget,heis Dekmejianworriesthateventsmayhavenotapan-Turanistanddoesnotseeitasa passedthe'stagewheresuchadealcouldbeprospect,',saidDekmejian. Struck.ButhebelievesArmeniawouldac-..Idon'treallyseetheTurksatallgetting

cept..halfaloaf.'zerisgoforitde--,+';.:.1tj![r'r;ffi3ff::T*::*, "Whether not the A or

pendstoSomeextentonwhathappenstostratedonDec.llwhenAzerbaijanPrime MutalibovandtoanotherextentonwhetherMinisterHasanHasanovmadeadirectappeal theArmenianscanholdon.IftheAzerisareforinterventionintheworseningsituation, convincedtheycanoveITun[them]andgetsaying..Turkey'smediationwouldhe1p.'' ,'A lOt dependS On the Iral has its own reasons for avoiding awaywithittheywilldoit." Boumoutian alsofeltArmenia's best shottXffi"litJilIil13:ttl:,H:J'ff.HT;il termoptionwasto"buytimebynesotiatins," popdlatiol 9f Azerbaijan,itfearsagitationforunification. Kafabagh. If thgy reach the itage whLre *ffil&3.1;[HJffi'f:i#rffi:[#i

puttingtheissueonholdformayleayear."Arotdependsonthepopurationiiffr*:hl| they reach the stage where t theymight decide there is nothing to lose

striking back."

How rurkey, rran and Russia react

in

ro

they Cantt btgathgl

ih"V

mighldecids

iS nOthing tO lOSe re-thefg in striking bick."

developments in farabagtrcould determine aks out in the rewhether war or peace breaks

gion.

Turkey appeared to stake out its position it became the lrst country to recognize Azerbaijan but made no efforts to acknowledge Armenia's indepen-

on November 9, when

to

I ]

to ens.ure healthy relations between Soviet

li!Xt'ffi,lL:,1"i:?Fr-lTrff;,1"ilt",';

Mo^scow. Velayati wl! 01a l0-day visit

::rtTfi:,:i";;JJ$;,i,'$#"

lran's announcement that it would not recognizeAzerbaijan,however,eamedtheforeignministerjeersand heckling when he visited Baku last month. Though many Azeris, as Shiite Muslims, regard han as their spiritual home, it is by no means

dence. The swiftness of the decision was widely seen as an attempt preempt Iran, which has since said it will not recognize Azerbaijan. certain that the feeling is mutual.

an July

8.

.:.,,,

l,8rnTtm;F;esidium d, ilie Suprrerlre

Awi6t

rejects

Armenian demands lor reunifi caiion, atfirmingl that

Karaba$'rnust remaiq pafi el :$oviet Azerba*,iul. .

21, Moscow dechres a in slate statB or ol emergency emgrgency rn Karabagh. Soviet troops are &ployed around gwernment buildirqs in ,ir, .. ,Yer6van, 4...,.r41e million pr$es rs g$Qg-f ' :,

ru

in the cify.

six Musrim


Persians worry that their control of the country would be challenged if Turkic-speaking Soviet Azeris joined with Iranian Azeris and were absorbed into Iran, said Swietochowski. Similarly, many of Azerbaijan's intelligentsia regard Iran' s Islamic fundamentalism as "anathema." Boumoutian pointed out that an active Armenian population remained in Tehran and the govemment would not be keen to stir

up an Azeri population keep quiet for 50 years.

"it's been trying to

"Iran has a consulate in Baku and there is

communication and trade. They might also tell them they are not looking favorably on any terribly big hostilities. Minor conflicts they can live with, majorwarthey will not." The Islamic govemment under Hashimi Rafsanjani was making every effort to open

up to the West, and had a major stake in avoiding war, observed Dekmejian. The regime was "tremendously sensitive

to Azei nationalism

Kulikov, wrote in the military daily newspapr Krasnaya Zvezda on Dec. 16 that Soviet troops ought to be withdrawn from NagomoKarabakh now that Armenia and Azerbaijan were independent. He said 62 Soviet soldiers had died in l99l in the Caucasus"that's almosthalfthe average yearly losses ofSoviet soldiers during the war in Afghanistan." local residents considered the soldiers to be "aliens," said thecommander. One of the last acts of the Soviet Union was to persuade Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume negotiations after the helicopter incident. The Nov. 27 agreement at a special session of the State Council in the Kremlin provided for meetings between delegations mediated by Russia and Kazakhstan, and directly between Ter-Petrosyan and Mutalibov. Though Ter-Petrosyan told Soviet television the two presidents would try to meet by the end of the year, no such talks have taken place.

Now the center has collapsed, replaced by a new species-the Commonwealth of

and worried about the

possibility of iredentist Azerbaijani claims on the Iranian city of Tabriz.

Independent States. Many experts view this as a hopeful development for Karabagh. "The Commonwealth structure offers us the best possibility ttrat I can seeof a solution," said Dr. Dennis Papazian, professor of Soviet history at the University of Michigan, Dearbom. While the Gorbachev plan for a new union required the consent of all the republics, "the tables are tumed in the Common-

"One needs to exploit that very sensi-

tively on behalf of the Armenian govemment," said Dekmejian. "The Rafsanjani government is led by the Persian element and this would look upon Armenia as a state

they could deal with and counterbalance Azeri irredentism." Turkey has its own fears about allowing Armenia to regain any of its former lands in Anatolia. The combined weight of Turkey and Iran is likely therefore to press for a compromise peace in Karabagh. Though they are competing for dominance .rmong the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union, neither Turkey nor Iran wishes to promote instability, since the outcome could prove unwelcome. Iran does not want Turkey to emerge as a superpower in the region and secular Turkey is keen to avoid any expansion of Iranian fundamen-

wealth," said Papazian.

Armenia seems incapable of imposing a solution on Azerbaiian, whose appeals for TUrkish mediatior suggest it is not confident of quick military sucGess

talism. Armenia seems incapable of imposing a solution on Azerbaijan, whose appeals for Turkish mediation suggest it is not confident of quick military success withoutthe support of Soviet army troops. Those troops appear increasingly unwilling to remain in Karabagh, arguing that the demise of the central Soviet state means the problem is no longertheirs to police. The Soviet army commander for the region, Major-General A. with an administration headed by A. l. Volsky. Regional party bodies and the regional council are suspended.

Mav 31. Members olthe KarataghCommittee are releasedtrom jail in Moscow.

June 4, A month-long

general

strike paralyzes Stepanakert, while an Azeri rail block* ol Armenia ha$s supplies for 'eanhquake re@nstruction, and causos fogd and fuel shortages.

November,

TheArmenian

National Movement is formed

"You have all these states who have no viable economies on their own. If you want to survive, you have tojoin the club and they sort oftell you how to get in. "This provides Eemendous flexibility and every possibility that Nagomo-Karabakh will be brought in [to the Commonwealth] and then they can deal with it as they will." Armenians in Karabagh appealed forrecognition from the Commonwealth after voting almost unanimously to declare the region independent in a Dec. l0 referendum. Azerbaijan called the ballot illegal. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan were among the I I republics which declared membership of the Commonwealth in the Kazakh Capital of Alma-Ata on Dec. 21. The agreement included a statement that members would respect existing borders. But it was unclear from first reports how disputes will be resolved between member states. people are killed in Baku as Azarbaijan erupes in civil violense again. The govern,a61,.puts the death toll at 56 in several

afler a congress of national organizations.

28, ttre Kremlin issues a decree returning Karabagh to Azeri control, bul warn$' ' Azerbaijan against any modification of the region's demography. Despite this, forceful evictions of Armenians conlinue. : Abandoned tenitories are settled with Azeris.

days ot bloodshed-most oI the victims are Arrnenian.

l7-lgrsoviet

.

1990 Iaq-,uary 14,

*i

teast zs

troops impose martial law

in Azerbaijan and push through barricades ,with tatrks 'Moscow installs Ayaz MUtalibov as president.

March 2, Armenian

'

villagers in Azad and lGmo are deported by the .ioinl forces of the Azeri National Front, the Sovief Army and Soviet lnternal Ministry troops.

April 25,

rne Soviet Mirfrstry of lnternal


"I am sure Azerbaijan would not have joined the Commonwealth hadthere been any question of theirlosing sovereignty overKarabagh," said Dr. Ronald Gregor Suny, professor of Modem Armenian History atthe University of Michigan.

He believes the Commonwealth offers hope of preserving Karabagh's autonomy and of strengthening human rights in the region, but not that it will lead to atransfer of the enclave to Armenia. Much hinges on the attitude of Russia, which has traditionally taken for granted that it has a right to intervene in the affairs of the Caucasus. Early in perestroika, when the danger of political upheaval seemed more remote, Gorbachev was receptive to Armenian demands over Karabagh, even acknowledging that an injustice had occuned under Stalin.

At one point, Gorbachev told his economic advisor Abel Aganbegyan utd Zori Balayan, who represented Karabagh in the Soviet Congress, that the region would gradually be united economi-

cally with Armenia and "five or six years down the road there would be aredrawing ofthe borders," said Papazian. But

as

nationalism swept through the republics and threatened the

union, Moscow began to manipulate potitlca hotspots to keep republicsin line. Soviettroopsusedviolence inBaku inJanuary 1990, for example, as an excuse to crush nationalist protests against the Communists and install Mutalibov as president. Moscow emerged as a mediator following the August coup attempt, when Yeltsin became the dominant political figure. The Sept. 23 accord, in which Azerbaijan agreed to give Armenians greater self-govemment in Karabagh, collapsed as soon as it was signed. Will Yeltsin use negotiations over the mechanisms of Commonwealth membership as leverage to pressure Azerbaijan into abiding by its pledge? Boumoutian is among those who feel Yeltsin may simply abandon the issue in the face of larger economic problems. Dekmejian also expects little from Russia in the near future. None of this is happening in a vacuum. Armenia remains underthe threat of an Azerbaijani fuel blockade, and the killings in Karabagh continues unabated, with flrst one side then the other gaining ground before losing it. Very little more is needed to trigger a catastrophe. So far, neither Armenia norAzerbaijan is convinced that it would gain more in war than it might lose. Turkey, kan and Russia all have interests in preventing an escalation ofhostilities, even ifthey lack the means or the will to bring about a peaceful solution. ln the absence of war, the question becomes whether Armenia and Azerbaijan are able to reach an agreement that both can tolerate, ifnot necessarily love. Diplomacy has many devices: a division of territory along ethnic lines, independence for Karabagh within the Commonwealth, greater self-rule for the region within Azerbaijan. Other creative possibilities

would doubtless emerge from negotiations. Compromise may be unpalatable to many on both sides right now, but there is a third altemative. They can do nothing and watch an increasingly brutal and costly conflict develop into a stalemate every bit as intractable as Ulster----only more

bloody.

Affairs issues a decree renewing the stale ol emergency in Karabagh. FLights between Karabagh and Armenia are limited, arbitrary detentions increase, and an inlormation blockade is imposed.

I

Azeris altack,thb ia southern Kaiehggh from Armenia..,,,

May I 5, lnternal Ministry troops destroy the airstrip at Martakert airport in

Karabagh.

2$,

Tne ermenian National Movement to sweeping gains in the country's first free

elections.

zz-Z4,Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Hyzhkov signs an ordinance passing all eoonomic enlerprjsgs in Karabagh to 15


TheArmemans FightBack

soldiers sent to defend us aren't defending us," she screams. "They have betrayed their faith, they are already Muslims." But the war with the Muslim Azerbaijanis

is, the politicians declare, not religious.

Karabagh's Residents Are More Concemed with Survival than lntemational Politics

President of Armenia lrvon Ter-Petrosyan said: "The Karabagh conflict is often portrayed in the West as a religious conflict. We

reject this. anger spills out. The coffins, decked alternately in red and blue cloth, are placed in a grave. Four full-sized coffins and one for a small

he

village of Tug lies in a beautiful

valley. The sun shines on the tranquil landscape. Donkeys amble through the streets of mountain villages we pass through in our jeep on the way. We pull up outside a house, set back from theroad in aclump of trees. Across the road the village cemetery stretches up the hillside. Neat metal fences enclose the graves. The quiet is broken as we

suffered from religious fanaticism and has

child.

These are just five more victims in a war that is growing increasingly bitter. Such attacks and murders aggravate an age-old confl ict and lead to a renewed cycle of hatred and

always lived well with othernations, regardless of their religion."

Pargev Martirossian, the 3S-year-old Bishop ofKarabagh, agrees: "There is here a

very simple question,

development, apeople's right to exist." History tells us, he says, that Christians and Muslims can live together. And he echoes another point put for-

ward by Ter-Petrosyan: "There are Armenian comthe

Iraq, Iran-Muslims

and

"

Christians can live together.

Ter-Petrosyan

is

very careful to separate Armenia's dispute with Azerbaijan from wider Armenian-Turkish conflict. Since his election as

bers of the Danielian family, had been massacred just two

days before by Azerbaijani Interior Ministry troops-the

president, he has stressed that

Armenia has no dispute with

the Turks. despite historic enmity. He has pledged his government to seek greater

economic and commercial Armenians take cover as a helicopter leaves an airstrip in Shahumian revenge. Situated on the faultline between

the local school director speaks while the wailing continues. Then an old man gets up, his face twisted in emotion. "They are killing people, in Ukraine, in Russia, in Lithuania, in Moldavia, and here in Karabagh." Tears flow as his pent-up

the Christian West and the Muslim East, Karabagh's Armenians see themselves as the last outpost of Christianity. One moumer at the funeral tells me in disgust how the Russians have betrayed their Christian heritage in supporting the Azerbaijanis. "The

Bouzloukh; and

ern

ultirnalum to aban&s

$spdn*kryi are

the[ hornes; Anr-rored,

bombed. Sorne of the em$ied villages are

vehicleg

*r$

villagEs-''

Julv. n new warre of

'

niaas lrom ShahEi$ian breaks out, soo{t,:arter Gorbachev orders the curfew in Azerbaiian lifted and Soviet tnterior Minlstry forces removed from the region.

Armenia-Sisyan, Garb,

GhaF*;,and l,eg[ir!=: -:

S0ntill!q;' ' r'- ' warns ttrdi-aitliiel@ rorn :

4,

Muraribov

Armenia will be shot fu'vn. ot

13, Armenian Oefense forces take

peaceful ties with as many of its neighbors as possible. And he is hopeful the Turkish gov-

emment--{espite being the first to recognize Azerbaijan as an independent state (fol-

lowed so far only by Turkish northem Cyprusfwill try tokeepoutof the conflict. Karabagh's villagers understand little of Soviet SoHiers hostq€ a{ter a'cf,r is attacked by'purple trerets" in Hati*rk, Karahgh. They aG Iater released'in negotidtions with Soryist officials,

21, A*rn,"

_::t.:

Augu$t" ,Atack orf tfre easterl r9grons oI ,

oedriations of Arme-

Mamshid, Erkbdi and Bouzbkh submit to

- .,

halicoptei$

bearing 8bviet Army markirgE.fite on the

settled with Azeris.,

13, After repeated attacks, the residents

links with Turkey, aware that Armenia could be danger-

ously isolated without

There is no priest to lead the service; instead,

l6

munities throughout

Middle East, in Lebanon,

fins laid out ready for the funeral. The five, all mem-

hillside to a vast grave that had already been prepared.

a

people's right to their own

enter the house. Distraught women shriek and wail and cling weeping to the five cof-

dreaded OMON. They had entered the house in NagomoKarabakh's Hadrut region andkilled all the occupants. The coffins are carried across the road and up the

It is purely a question of self-

determination for the Karabagh people." He goes on to back up his point: "Armenia has shown for centuries that it has never

41

dafilar€$

af ter'ret8rendum sh$$rrE .'99%

BUSort lor leavirg'lhe Soviet Uhion.'

'

'''

23,

Russian President Yeltsin and Kazaktr Presk enl Nazarbayev broker an agrcemenl on Karabagh. Armenia agrees io withdraw

ib

tenitorial chlms if Azerbaiian home rule to the region.

i'

greilb'':1r

The Zhglhqvodsk Comms$tlu€ also. I,

calls on both sides to obaerve the cMl r$ts of all citizens irres@tive of


diplomatic games. They see the war in simpler terms. "They say we're bandits and fighters but we're just defending our land, our children and our ancestors," said one fighter, standing at the trenches that now separate his village of Karachinar from the Azerbaijani settlement down the road. "The Azerbaijanis want to take our land and drive these

us out

ofhere."

In words echoed by so many others I met, he told me: "They'll take this land only over our dead bodies." Last year's Yeltsin-Nazarbayev brokered agreement was seen by many outsiders as a miracle cure. As with the Middle East peace conference or the Yugoslav cease-fires, hope

rose briefly that an age-old ethnic conflict could once again be resolved through reason and common sense. But reality soon stepped in. The call fordisarmament on all sides except for the Soviet Army was unrealistic. The Azerbaijanis are unlikelyto halt their campaign to drive the Armenians from the territory. And disarmament within Karabagh would leave a defenseless Armenian population atthe mercy of Azerbaijani troops poised all around the enclave. The declining Soviet interest is palpable in Stepanakert. Mass deportations of Armenian villages seem to have stopped as the Soviet Interior Ministry

troops try to back away from the confl ict. No longer working

hand

in glove with

the

Azerbaijanis, they now seem embarrassed to be in this obscure outpost of a failing Soviet empire. The Armenians-never convinced of the Soviet Armv's

Neighbors

neutrality-are skeptical they would now defend them against an Azerbaijani invaslon.

Should Armenia trust negotiations? Says Zori Balayan, people's deputy for Karabagh and unsuccessful challenger for Armenia's

"I

believe Yeltsin and Nazarbayev are sincere in their mission and,

presidency:

in the best sense of the word, in their interference to stop the bloodshed in Karabagh." But he prefers to put his faith in more than agreements. "The Karabagh people need to

defend themselves. I understand that you need talks and diplomacy, but when they come at your parents and your homes with weapons in their hands, you have to reply with weapons. There is no other way." Things have changed significantly since my frst visit. When I was last in Karabagh in July, under close Soviet supervision, the Armenians were somewhat reticent about their fight. Faced with the massive resources of the Soviet Army, Interior Ministry soldiers and Azerbaijarf OMON troops-who were deporting whole villages in combined and

showed off their primitive weapons, including even hand-made rifles-hardly a match for the quantity and sophistication of the Azerbaijani weapons ranged against them. Only a handful of volunteers from Armenia, who have come in recently to bolster the locals, were nervous of being filmed and threatened our cameraman. The Armenians have been encouraged by successful operations to retake occupied vil-

lages. Balayan likens the fight to another famous campaign. "When we move back into these houses and people are killed, world

public opinion will support us like they did in

Kuwait." Even without the overt support of Soviet forces, the Azerbaijanis are awash with weapons they have "nation-

alized" from the Soviet Army on their territory. Attacks on lhe Armenians have intensi-

fied.

"l am suprised that we have been able to hold out until now," said Samson Voskanian, head ofthe local

in the Shahumian region. However, finance department

his colleague, Ashot Khachatrian, has a lower outlook on theenemy. "They don't know how tofight. Our people are mountain people, they know how to fight, they

know how to defend their own land." "It is written in the Gospel of Matthew that if someone hits you on one cheek you should tum the other," said Balayan. "That is not right. That is not how you and relatives mourn the deaths ol the Danielian family in Tug should understand it. "If anenemycomes with agun tokill you, terrible raids-the Armenians presented your children, and your mother, you must themselves as helpless victims. defend your mother and children with a gun Now they are no longer so shy about and kill your enemy . That is justice." telling the world they are fighting back. As Felix Corley is a British writer on Soviet and the Croats have discovered, the sightofplucky

villagers defending themselves as best they can against unprovoked onslaughts will gain the sympathy of the world. They proudly

:'.:l ,$$iftbi

;:j::r

I

,r, I .r 'r rr ir:

l

::::i

'

becomâ&#x201A;Źs the first country to

I rec$lize Azebaiian's

irdependence.

Eastern European atlairs.

He

visited

Nagorno-Karabakh in October on a delegation sponsored by Christian Solidarity lnternational-


Hiirriyet and Transcaucasia's Troubles : AView From ATurkish Daily Nov. 27 was headlined: "Azerbaijan is [osing its Patience." On November28: "Bells Toll for War in the Caucasus." Particularly inflammatorywas Hiirriyet's front-page headline on December 1, "FODDER FOR REVENGE," printed atop a photograph with a caption reading: "A funeral

By LEVON tARASHLlAltl Spechl lo

Alil

urkish press coverage

of

Transcaucasia during the last several weeks shaped public opinion in Turkey with reporting and predictable distortions

factual

ceremony

in Karabagh for young Azeris

killed by Armenians." Next to this picture was another one showing grieving Azeris,

between Azerbaijan and Armenia and opening the way for a negotiated solution to the Karabagh question." Referring to an article in a FranKurt newspaper, Hrirriyet rcWrted that Demirel 's letter to Azeri Prime Minister Hasan Hasanov was credited with "prevent-

ing an Azeri-Armenian war." In a Dec. 4 article, Hacioglu reported an "attack" on an Azeri village by "Armenian bands;" yet the Turkish joumalist ended on a positive note. He pointed odt that

Georgian President

highlighted by sensational headlines that serve to inflame anti-Armenian passions. A quick glance at a few items from the Istanbti daily H iirriyet illustrates the kind of mainstream information and disinformation that is molding the Turkish public's attitudes toward the Karabagh conflict and Armenians in general.

YMlmilleilen

imirlnlEtrtilti

the ethnic conflict between Armenians and Azeris;" and Azerbaijani President Ayaz Mutalibov and Armenian President Levon TerPetrosyan,

"in Tiflis,

proposed that

they 'search for apolitical solution to

the Nagorno-Karabakh question'." In its Dec. 6 coverage of a visit to Ankara by officials from

On November 24, Hilrriyet's Moscow correspondent Nerdum Hacioglu reported that Azeri authorities had determined

Zviad

Gamsakhurdia called for "an end to

Turkmenistan, H ilrriy et qtoted Foreign Minister Cetin declaring that

"definitely"

that the mid-November helicopter crash "was not caused by an accident," but by "automatic weapons fire." Right next to this article was another piece by Hacioglu, in which he wrote that the "Armenian lobby" has "succeeded in persuading the Bush Administration" to help "keep Turkeyfrom taking sides intheAzeri-

"Turkey has an important role to play" in stabilizing the conflict. An article from Baku by Ramiz Asker in Hrirriyet'sDec.S issue was headlined: "Winds of War in the

!.r{Ef.!&i LlidaLEltc

Armenian conflict." The headline: Part ot Htirrayet's Dec. 1 lront page "Bush's Umbrellaoverthe Caucasus; According to Armenians, the U.S. accompanied by the caption: "Here, loved President Will Not Let Turkey Meddle in the ones left behind by an Azeri youth. Eyes Region." filled with tears, hearts filled with ayeaming In a Nov. 26 article, under the headline, forrevenge." Next to this article by Hacioglu, "The Azeri-Armenian Border is a Powder whichcarriedtheheadline, "Azeris Enraged," Keg," Hacioglu compared the death of the the paper carried a short news item headAzeri offi cials----caused by the "downing" of

Caucasus; Armenians Ready at the Trigger. Mobilization inAzerbaijan." Azerbaijani "People's Front sources," according to Asker, announced that after its formation the Azeri army will move to "put an end to Armenian terrorism in Karabagh. "

Concerning Armenia's westem front, Hilrriyet arnounced on Dec. 10: "We Gave Electricity to Nakhitchevan." The Istanbul newspaper reported that the Azeris were "pleased to receive energy from Turkey,"

and quoted

Ali

Asker Sadikoglu,

a

Austrian heir apparent by a Serbian assassin, which set intomotion the series of events that led to World W ar 1." H ilrriyet's coverage on

lined: "Demirel's lrtter Was Effective." Hiirriyet noted that Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel's "initiative played an important role in defusing the latest crisis

zone. Turkey seeks to ease tensions by urging Azerbaijan to "avoid provocations."

not take pafi in Azerbaijan's independence referendum on December 29.

Karabagh, and the removal of Almenian militants from Azerbaijani soil. But an Azeri spokesman gives no indication whether a

28, kan offers help to reconcile

11, azeoaijani Prime Minister Hasan Hasanov says his country would'wel. come'Turkey's mediation in the conflict.

deal has been struck.

the helicopter-with "the shooting of the

Armenia

and Azerbaijan.

Dwember 9,

Hussia, Ukraine and Belarus dmlare the Soviet Union "dead" and form a Commonwealth ol lndependent $tates. Both Armenia and Azerbaiian declare interest in membership.

10, Rn independence referendum in Karabagfi receives almost unanimous eprovJ- Azerbaijan declares the vote illegal. The chairman ol Karabagh's executive committee says the region will

Z), Azerbailan

proposes to erd the blockade of gas and luel supplies to Armenia. tt had linked a resumption ol supplies to Armenian guarantaes on the safety of Azeri border regions, a cease-fire in

Nakhitchevani offrcial: "We will cut the line through which we get energy from Armenia. . . . We're happy to be freed from our dependence on the Armenians."

19,

I

lran says it is now ready to recognize

all the independent republics.

21, Armenia and Azerbaiian join the Commonwealth of lndependent States. The Agrqement between 11 ol the former Soviet rtipublim includes a c]aus6 stating that membirs will respst exisiing borders. . 31, rne

Soviet Union lormally eases to

exist.

Chronology oonplled by ANI RLTCTIIAN


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ln Defense of Human Rights of Queensbury has led three teams to investigate humnnrights abuses of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, visiting the enclave itself ard meeting Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders. l,ady Cox, a Deputy Speaker of the British House of C aroline, B aroness C ox

Lords, went to Karabagh and the Shahumian re gion of Azerbaijan in October to document abuses since the September 23 peace agreement between Armenia and

Azerbaijan. She then presented her findings in testi' mony before the United States Congressional Commissi on for S e c ur iry and C oop eration in Europe, in Was hington D.C.This was the first time the U.S. Congress had devoted an entire hearing to the Karabagh crisis.

Interview by TONY

HALPIN.

AIM: What spadced your interest in NagomoKarubakh?

l99l when I was privileged to be part of the Andrei Sakharov intemational human rights conference in COX: My interest began in May Moscow and

I was chairman of the group of

violations were occurring. There was anelderly woman whom I shall never forget from Getashen. When the OMON moved in and forcibly deportedeveryone, herhusband hadbeen paralyzedfor 12 years and couldn't move when they tried to force him out. They just shot him in the legs and left him and dragged her away. Then there was a pregnant woman and the OMON were beating herup. Herhusband went to try andhelp her, and they just shot him in the mouth in front of her. We could all of us repeatexamples like that which weheard at first hand. We also met relatives of detainees and saw two doctors from Getashen who had been taken prisoners in Azerbaijani jails and showed the evidence of their appalling trearnent while they were in those jails.

We did see evidence of gross maltreatrnent, and we came back really concemed about those issues. The second time we went back in July and, trueto ourcommitmentto impartiality, we startedthattime in Azerbaijan. We met hesident [Ayaz] Mutalibov in Baku and we did manage to get to [Karabagh capital] Stepanakert, and we did meet more Armenians who had suffered deportations and more relatives of detainees. We had understood that furttrer deportations were imminent in the Shahumian region. We specially asked the Azerbaijani authorities for permission to visit the region to see what was happening, which was

flatlydeniedinspiteofeverykindofpressurewe

experts dealing with the theme of human rights and injustice on a mass scale. Amongst the range of issues which were part of our agenda was the issue of Armenia, and particularly the deportations and problems in Karabagh. It was agreed at that congress to try to send down an intemational independent delegation to the area, and I was

could bring to bear. We also wished to visit more of the villages

from which deportations had occurred, within Nagomo-Karabakh itself, and again it was made

-

privileged to be asked to lead that delegation. That was my fust visit to the region. We went completely impartial, with no prejudice, no preconceptions. In so far as we refumed with any concem and commitment, it was bom of the evidence ofwhat we found.

What was your initial sense of the dispute-that it was religlous, tenitorial, or 'one ot *ff&termination or of human rights? The way in whichlandall mycolleagues wereviewing itwasthe way the issues had been addressed within the context of a human rights conference. The two key issues which had surfaced and which

were most urgent were, first, the wholesale enforced deportations of villagers from their homeland in a very brutal way in the combined operations of the Soviet Army and the Azerbaijani OMON $ecurity forcesl, and secondly, the taking of hostages or prisoners and the brutal treaunent of Armenian detainees in Azerbaijani prisons.

How have your views !c,en afteted by your visits? tlow do

yw

vlew the situatlon now?

With increasing concem. On that flust nip, we visited Armenia primarily because, although Gorbachev did issue authorization visas for Armenia and Azerbaijan, it was the Armenians who facilitated access to the region. When we tried to get into Azerbaijan, ttrc Azerbaijani authorities made it extremely difficult for us to the extent that we actually had to walk across the border in the area where shelling was occurring in order to hear the Azerbaijani viewpoint. We returned from that frst visit convinced that these human rights 20

exremely difficult for us. [On the most recent visit] I was quite concemed to broaden the base of awareness and involvement and I managed to interest a Christian human rights humanitarian organization. People whom I had met previously had said to us, "don't forget this is a Christian enclave fighting for its survival." I thought it would be helptul if Christian

churches throughout the world were al least aware of the predicament of the Christians of Karabagh, so that they could offer them moral and spiritual support. It is not a religious war, but the aim was to increase their awareness of suffering that was going on.there and to offer spiritual

support. One of the ourcomes of this visit is that we hope to invite a number of church leaders from major churches either to go themselves or to send representatives into Karabagh, to Stepanakert, to provide just some kind of comfort and solidarity witr the Christians of Karabagh,

will understand what is at stake there. I am also sure that if they go into Stepanaket and meet the Christians of Karabagh tlrey will find it an immensely inspiring and and also to educate them so that they

moving experience as I have found. We discussed ttrat wittr the Bishop of Stepanakert and with the Catholicos onourretumtoYerevan. Wehave aletterof invitationand we hope to send a number of Christians from other churches in to develop this awarcness and solidarity with the Christians of Karabagh.

How ls tt vbwed on the gtound? The people whom we have spoken to and who have suffered deportations tell us again and again that it is the fault ofGorbachev. They spithisname in hate bâ&#x201A;Źcause itis seenby them,I thinkprobably in a way that we found not unconvincing, as a punitive policy adopted

AlM, January 1992


by Gorbachev and other members of the center after Armenia declared its intention ofseeking independence. It was very parallel, but in different circumstances, to what was happening in the Baltic states-the terrorism andbrutalityforseeking independence. Since the coup, and this is another bit of evidence which perhaps might support that, the Soviet Army in Azerbaijan seems to have adopted a much more neutral stance, and the indications are that they have received an order from the new Minister of Defense and Ministry of Interior to stop this partial trâ&#x201A;Źatrnent. That is a development we welcomed. It may also be a contributory factor to the suspension of the policy of wholesale deportations, for which again wemay be thanKul andcautiously optimistic. AIM/Ratti Shoubookian

that we requested to visit. One must say, with great credit to them, they understood that being an impartial, independent delegation we had to hear both points of view. When on that first visit it was made very difficultforus to get intoAzerbaijan by theAzeri authorities, the Armenians still respected our wish to hear the Azerbaijani point of view and provided helicopters for us to go to the border areas. They did all they could to enable us to hear the Azerbaijani point of view, and I respect that, because it is how an independent commission must

work. There was a contrast when we went to Azerbaijan, as I have already indicated. We were certainly received in Azerbaijan by President Mutalibov, it was made possible for us to go to Stepanakert and I am grateful for that. But many ofthe requests we made were met

with great resistance.

Did he attempt to make a rationale for the violen@? What was the reason given as to why the OMON or Soviet troops

werctherc?

Whenever we tried to ascertain the rationale for the Azerbaijani activities, we were given explanations that were sort of rooted in history. The numberof Azerbaijanis who had had to leave Armenian terrority, and the fact that there were virnrally no Azeris left on Armenian soil. It was a justification rooted in historical precedence.

What

is the international perspective on this dispute?

How is

it

seen in Londonand Washington?

Before our visit it was very difficult forthe intemational commu-

nity to get much evidence of what was happening there. I have certainly been told by various people in the respective administrations that the evidence that we have been able to ascertain and make available has been very valuable. I did raise aquestion in the House oflords afterthe July visit and received a very sympathetic response from our govemment, expressing appreciation forthe evidence that we had been able to obtain and suggesting that our govemment was going to view these matters very seriously.

I

En gpranily receivd when you made rquests to make the* visits !o/th ln Moscow and in the tworepublics?

How have you

have also received a letter from our Prime Minister which

reaffirms our govemment's commitrnentas stated by Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd at his opening speech at the CSCE conference in Moscow, where he made it quite clear that there was to be a linkage between the granting of aid and human rights criteria, and that any republic which was committing human rights violations and treating its minorities in an unjust way would not receive a sympathetic response in its request for aid. I think the British govemment is firming up on its stance, I would just like to see that followed through with a policy of observers on the ground to monitor conformity with the agreed criteria on human rights, otherwise there may be a danger of empty promises. That is something for which many of us are pressing. On the American govemment side, I was encouraged by the hearings we attended at the CSCE branch in Washington, and I was very encouraged by the chairman. I thought he was extremely receptive in his response, and especially to Congresswoman Barbara

Boxer, who is very supportive and indicated her willingness to The factthatwehavebeen able tobe there atall isobviously proof that it has been made possible for us to go. After the initial human rights conference, there was an urgent request to President Gorbachev to authorize the issuing of visas. There was a long delay before the authorization was granted but Yelena Bonner, with characteristic tenacity, really kept the pressure on. The authorization was given on the understanding that we wouldbe afforded security. The Armenian govemment immediately undertook to guarantee that, which is why we went within half an hour's notice to Yerevan. Our reception in Armenia was faultless. The Armenian authorities responded positively to every request, both to enable us to meet any people we wished to meet and to take us to any part [of the country]

promote the kind of recommendations we made in ourreport.

b i nvolved i n a there any will on the part ot the larger international powercto Mome involvd in an area which they still rqad as Frt of the *viet Unlon? You recom mendd that a U N lorce should

W@keping

role.

ls

Clearly,Iwould imagine it is going tobe very difficult tofind an intemational peacekeeping force, in terms both of the criteria that need to be put forward in setting one up, and of the willingress of the organization to be involved. The former Soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze,

AlM, January 1992


himself supports this and stresses the need for UN involvement in Nagomo-Karabakh. The final documents of the human rights conference in October (in Moscow) also adopted that view. There is a lot of pressure from people in key places. One isn't necessarily crying in the wind as crazy maverick voices. People like Shevardnadze and the CSCE are important levers.

How do you view the agreement brokered

by

Russian

President Boris Yeltsin and Kazakhstan President

Nursultan Nazafuayev? The agreed communique of September 23 provided the framework for at least a shortterm lowering of the conflict, attempts at ceasefire, and attempts at improvements in human rights. These are all very important short-term measures to improve the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh at the present time and to alleviate some of the suffering and human rights violations. If you take the analogy of someone bleeding to death, first of all

you have to apply a toumique and stop the bleeding, then you can worry about making him better. This I would say is a toumique operation but it is very imPortant. -

In terms of negotiations for the future, I would hope very much that Nagomo-Karabakh itself be represented and speak as to its future. Some people expressed cynicism about that agreed communique, because some of the conditions have not been fulfilled. We regret that they have not been fulfilled and would urge that they should, but we don't think it is a useless exercise. It is a way ofcalling the authorities to account; you can call President Mutalibov to account and say 'you were a signatory to this agreement, what is happening?'

Can Armenia and Azerbaiian solve the issue without outside mediation?

Given the situation as one sees it, it does seem it would be quite difficult to move much further without some assistance from the intemational community or from the other republics in the Union. A principled and constructive involvement by the intemational community can only help-that Armenia should be linked to human rights criteria and these criteria should be monitored by the human rights bodies.

How do you

w

the ultimate destiny of NagomeKarabakh?

What isespecially grievous isthat, here is aland wherecommunities of different ethnic and religious backgrounds have been living reasonably harmoniously for a long time and which is so magnificently beautiful. The crops are pretty fruitful, their qual ity of life has been good, things should be set fair for a harmonious and good quality of life. That is how it could be and has been and how one could passionately wish to allow it to re-establish itself in that way. The potential is there if only this kind of tragic, externally inspiredconfl ict could be resolved and people allowed to retum to their homes and villages.

ln the short term, are you optimistic or pssimistic afuut the future tor

pace there?

Deeply worried. I and all my colleagues have retumed deeply worried, because we do see the scenario I havejust given you as a possible scenario, but we recognize that there is a very high level of conflict and that there is a possibility that the situation could escalate into wholesale war. If that were to happen, not only would the repercussions be absolutely tragic but it would have repercussions far

beyondtheregionitself.

COFFEE VENIZELOS The Aristocrat Of Greek Coffees

Product of Collee Associates lnc. AlM, January 1992

I


l. o C

o p @

Life at the Edge F ami li e s S tru g g I e t o S urv iv e in the Tw ili g ht Zo ne betwe en C ommunism and C apitalism By GAYAN E I{AIIBARTSOUIIIAN AIM Yerevan Bureau

moral fabric of society is being put to the test. The struggle for survival has brought out

the darkest aspects of Armenian society. People are being stripped of self-respect, responsibility and patriotism. "Never have I, not for a single moment, entertained the notion of leaving Armenia, even for a short time," said Arthur. "I have a sister in America. My parents, who, more than us, find ithardto adapt to the new order, tried to persuade us to go to America for the children's sake. But we refused, although

we knew even in summer that winter was going to be

he Verdians are a typical Armenian family of four.

unbearably hard."

Like any other

Arthur Verdian, 33, is an engi neer. His wife Nuneh, 32, is a

Armenian family, the instinct of giving one's children first priority rings strongly with the Verdians. Their decisions always take into account the children's in-

rheumatologist at a Yerevan medical center. They have two children, nine-year-oldAnna and three-year-old Armen. They live in a small two-room apartment on the sixth floor of a nine-story building. While Soviet engineers and physicians receive markedly lower salaries than their counterparts in the West, their professions have always been respected, providing a modest but dignified standard of living. That has changed. Today, as the country

terests.

Arthur supplements his regular monthly salary of 160 rubles through

overhauls its economy and grapples with inflation, professionals like Arthurand Anna

odd jobs

at ve s, a euphimism for pri-

are being left in the open. For many of them,

c

the changes mean unemployment and complete financial ruin. With prices soaring, the

ooperati

vately

AlM, January 1992

owned 23


businesses. Not being one to refuse manual labor, he gamers an additional 300

rubles working

fournighr

shifts as a freman at a factory boiler-room.

Following the recent increase

in

physicians'

salaries, Nuneh receives 290 rubles a month. The

family also collects 130 rubles from the state in childsupport. With all the bonuses, the total monthly

family budget

is

1,500

rubles.

So far, that sum has enabled the Verdians to meet the barest of necessities. But the future looks bleak. For instance, they purchased clothes for their children before the sudden rise in prices; once they are

out, finding replacements

= E

r

wom

o

will be difficult at

A

the only heat. Candles and anoil lamp are kept handy

I'm trying

to adapt to the new living conditions," said Nuneh. "For food provisions, we had made preparations for the hard winter."

in

1,000 rubles will be needed to fill a consumer's food basket each month. But skyrocketing prices have made scientific forec asting

difficult.

The government's inability to make essential consumer goods and industrial parts available further erodes its ability to control black market prices. Thus, the 1,500 ruble income which gave the Verdians a comfortable life in the past has shrunk the family's buying power by more than one-third. kilogram of butter that cost 25-30 rubles a month ago is unavailable today for 100 rubles. Consumers have to stand in line at ttre market from 7 a.m. to buy meat at 50 rubles akilogram. Queues fordairy products

A

start forming late at night and last until moming. Rationing limits customers to buying only two goods each. Sugar is doled out monthly through a personal card system at half a kilo per person. It can be bought on the black market for 18-20 rubles a kilo. Shoppers are getting accustomed to the free market word "buy," which is replacing the Soviet word "get" of yesteryear. One can buy anything and everything from essential staples like bread to consumer products and luxury items. The question is

off-a

daily occur-

rence.

the Verdians forethe difficulties that lay ahead and

stocked up on more home-made canned foods than usual this summer. Making homemade preserves is a summer tradition in Armenia. Economists estimate that after the liberalization of prices in early January, at least

case the electricity is

cut

Like other families,

saw

two

placed in the middle of the living room supplies

dren. am not a panic-monger and

with Nrrneh and

grandmothers looking aftin stove ter them.

state-run stores. The couple's parents are now taking money from their own modest wages to give presents to their grandchil-

"I

result, the Verdian children stay at home all day

'to Pioneers ol capitalism? Black market traders in Yerevan makeshift shops to hawk goods to customers whether one is able to afford a kilogram of sausage for 160 rubles, coffee for 2(X) rubles, vegetables for 30 rubles, a pair of shoes for anywhere between 400 and 2,000 rubles, or an automobile for a million rubles. Still, once basic staples are secured, parents tD/ hard to provide their children with what they want. Arthur recently purchased a bicycle for his daughter Anna. He paid 380 rubles for it, although the bicycle's official price is set at 60 rubles. Armen received a toy car for 30 rubles. He broke it in two days. "It is very painful not to be able to afford abar of chocolate thatcosts 25 rubles to give to your little one," said Arthur. "I always buy something for them on pay day, but when I can't afford to do that, I try to explain the situation, and they understand everything. They are fine kids, you know.

''t

am frightened to ponder the

possibility

that it could grow even more difficult," he continued. "Then I will have to look for a third and fourth extra job. It will affect my health. Nonetheless, I will do the utrnost for

my children."

At present, Nuneh shoulders the household chores. Due to shortages of gas and heating fuel, kindergartens, schools and most business offices are closed in Armenia. As a

AlM, January 1992

use

The Armenian saying keep up a flre in the

hearth" means passing on

family traditions to future generations. Now it seems

to have regained a more literal definition. Nuneh wakes up early in the moming and switches on various electric heating devices to drive out the freezing cold. Shemustcompleteherhousehold tasks before noon when power is cut off until 3 p.m. in her district. Every little chore has to be planned and juggled nimbly. Though very fond of books, Nuneh has hardly any time to read. Entertainment is also non-existent. Television, reduced to a meager three hours a day because of the power crisis, serves only as a source of information. Moreover, the news is usually distressful and disturbing. With all the scrounging fordaily necessities, people can hardly find time or energy for movies, theater or concerts. But they have not lost their resolve. "I'm prepared to bear these hardships," said Nuneh, "notonly forthe children's sake but for the future of our nation." What sort of plans do they have for their

children?

"I would like Armen to become an engineer, always hoping that engineering would develop into a respected and well-paid profession," said Arthur. "I don't want him to face the same difficulties that I'm having now."

I


AOne Man Democracy in Kazakhstan? land-largely

because of his ability to play Kazakhstan's various political parties off one another. The result was intimidation: not one candidate stepped forward to challenge

By THEODORE KARASIK Special to AIM

Nazarbayev.

ursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan, rules over a land mass about twice the size

of

Alaska. Rich in raw ores such as gold and copper, as well as a sizeable petroleum reserve in the Tengiz oil fields, Kazakhstan's wealth helps elevate Nazarbayev's political stature. [n fact, the stoic leader may well believe in a

To his credit, Nazarbayev recognized that

the demographic situation of the republic could be used to his favor. Although the president is Kazakh by nationality, he is entrenched in the political skullduggery of former Soviet politics, which distanced him

dent received a 90-percent favorable rating in one public opinion poll. Several parties, such as Azat, which aimed to create an independent, national-democratic state in Kazakhstan and to guarantee its historical development without border changes, and Edinstvo, a non-Kazakh nationalist organi-

zation formed to counteract Kazakh nationalism, were unable tocope with Nazarbayev's political machine. Nazarbayev won support from other groups with his ability to keep Azat and Edinstvo out of the political arena as credible challengers. He was able, for example, to persuade the leaders of AlmaAta's major non-Communist political groups to accept a moratorium on demonstrations by waming that any social stress could lead to violence. Significantly, Nazarbayev appeared to have captured the political agenda from these organizations, and pushed ahead

with controlled reform without plunging the republic into chaos. Part of Nazarbayev's popularity arose from his ability to rally intemational support. By looking outside the former Soviet Union for govemmental models of development, Alma-Ata jumped on the development bandwagon following the August coup at-

free market economy and the creation

of a voluntary confederation of states to replace the former Soviet Union. [n

addition, the Kazakh president has adopted a sophisticated personal style in his public appearances which resembles that of a Westem politician.

tempt. The United States' presidential system and Turkey's secular goverment offered the Kazakh president two options in terms of organization. To pacify nationalist and religious factors, Nazarbayev looked south to Saudi Arabia as a third op-

Appearances aside, Nazarbayev lacks true democratic instincts because of his "particular" political concepts. Indeed, his basic political approach can be described as authoritarian, since he relies on the former Communist Party appiuatus to ensure his power. Moreover, he uses his political influence to suppress otherpolitical groups, whether these include Kazakh nationals or not. It is important to recognize that Nazarbayev served in the Communist Party for most of his political life. A metallurgical engineer by education, Nazarbayev became aparty officialin the early 1960s and served in various regional posts within Kazakhstan throughout the '70s and '80s. The future president reached the apex of party power in 1989 when he became Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev Kazakh Communist Party Fint Secfrom other Kazakh nationalist movements. retary, and then in 1990 a member of the Communist Party Politburo in Moscow. Significantly, the Kazakhs, who emerged in the 1400s as a mixture of Turk and Mongol honically, anddespite the CommunistParty's peoples, were a minority in the republic, collapse, Nazarbayev continued to behave like a communist leader. As a manager, he making up only 36 percent of the republic's 16,538,000 population. Russians living in sought to retain political power by relying on a small group of officials, stressing tradithe republic consisted of about 4 I percent of tional methods, including support for facthepopulation in 1990. Ukranians, Germans, tions and fiefdoms within the republic. Paand other ethnic groups from Central Asia ronage and alliance-building continued, and madeupthe balance. This factplacedKazakhs coupled with the former Communist Party's atodds with the "majority" of thepopulation access to funds, remained a critical compoand made their quest for a national identity a nent in maintaining power. The Kazakh compellingone. presidential election, held on December 1, Nazarbayev was able to win the support 1991, clarified Nazarbayev's outlook as he of other Kazakh parties and organizations ran unopposed for the highest office in the despite criticism. In fact, the Kazakh Presi-

AlM, January 1992

tion. lnterestingly, Kazakhs invited the Saudis into the republic to invest in its economy. Riyadh's positive re-

sponse may have influenced

Nazarbayev more than generally assumed. In the words of one Kazakh observer: "Nazarbayev may well be tempted to behave more like a Saudi sheikh than aWestem democrat." Such a scenario is not unlikely, given the similar behavior exhibited by Kazakh factions and fiefdoms and the Saudi

royalfamily. Although too early to determine with certainty, it may be accurate to reach a preliminary assessment on Nursultan Nazarbayev's leadership poten-

tial. The Kazakh president surely did not qualify as a democrat in the Westem sense. He faced many obstacles towards economic

reform which, in his own words, may be "very unpleasant." Consequently, Nazarbayev may have to keep his republic under a

close eye to avoid mistakes other former

Soviet leaders made and continue to make. If economic reforms wreak havoc throughout the Kazakh economy, it should come as no surprise if authoritarian rule tums violent to ensure Nazarbayev's survival.

Theodore Karasik is a spcialist

in

Russian

and Central Asian political and security trends

25


TheGonsequences of Kuwaiti Self-Gonfidenee majority wanted their future security to be underwritten by military agreements with theUnited States (69percent). Few optedfor defense arrangements with Arab allies (17 percent). Even fewer (8.5 percent) expected a

By JOSEPH A. KECHIGHIAI{

Ithough Kuwait's oil flres were finally extinguished in late 1991, potentially more explosive catastrophes smoldered in the northem Gulf region. According to a recent opinion

poll, published in the pro-Saudi trbanese daily Al - H ay at,Kuwaiti

s

felt deeply betrayed

by Arab nationalists who applied different standards in their evaluations of the August 2,1990, Iraqi invasion. The poll, conducted in conjuction with a U.S. research organization, the World Future Society/Arabian Gulf

the govemment to muster a deterrent force capable of defending the sheikhdom. The GCC+2 (Egypt and Syria) proposal was dismissed as a useless arrangement which would

mounting criticism the emirate was facing over the ffeatment of its Arab expatiriate residents. The charge came in a lefter to UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar

from representative Muhammad Abulhassan. The delegate replied forcefully to a letterfrom his Palestinian counterpart, Nasser al-Qidwa, who was protesting human rights

violations against Palestinians and urging action to stop the 29 (including I I Palestinians) death sentences handed out in ttre spring. Abulhassan wrote that Kuwait was known for its respect of human rights andhospitality toward the largest Palestinian community in the Gulf and claimed that the trials were conducted fairly. "The suspicious and unjust

anti-Kuwaiti media campaign is being waged," wrote the Kuwaiti delegate, "by the same propagandists who allied themselves

interject unstable Arab forces in the Gulf

with the Iraqi regime." The PLO,

region, further destabilizing the area. Kuwait's determination topunish all who acquiescedto Saddam Hussein's dictate was plainly visible during a recent visit. Palestinians and Jordanians seem to have been hit the hardest. More thanhalf theestimated 450,000 Palestinians who lived in Kuwait before the Iraqi invasion have fled or were being pushed

Abulhassan, was attempting to cover its past

stated

'failure

to defend the interest of the Palestinian people... [by]...dragging them into a confrontation with the Kuwaiti people, as it dragged them in the past into confrontations with the Lebanese and Jordanians." Much less undiplomatic words were uttered in private. Gulfnewspapers addedtheir

share of vitriolics. It was clear that things would be different in this postliberation era. Notonly was Kuwait's self-confidence nota temporary phenomenon but it was alsoclear, in discussions with high-ranking officials, that a fundamental change in their outlook occurred during the past year. Since Kuwait's grievance toward Saddam Hussein led them to accept the unaccept-

able-American military aid-Kuwaiti leaders concluded that going back may prove

cataclysmic. Yet

to

appease mounting

worldwide criticism lobbed toward the sheikhdom, Kuwait relaxed its court activities and released from jail a number of Shi' ite political prisoners timed to coincide with this

year's Eid al-Adha.

But how permanent was the Westem commitment to Kuwait and the rest of the conservative Arab Gulf monarchies? Was

out. By all accounts, the govemment intended to maintain low expatriate figures,

there any need actually to introduce genuine political and social reforms to prevent potential crises in the new century when the regional balance of power may shift once again? If the war presented a unique opportunity to maintain an edge over the more authoritarian regimes of the Arab world, as many in the region seem to concur, can the Kuwaiti establishment entrench itself in its

emphasizingnon-Arab sources, andplanned to have a majoriry of Kuwaiti citizens as its population base. An evening drive through the Hawally District (formerly a Palestinian neighborhood) confirmed this assessment as the arearesembled a ghost town. Deportations and summary trials mobilized intemational human rights agencies to investigate allegations of abuse. Kuwait, refusing to fall back on its traditional conciliatory mood, formally blamed the PLO for the

currentmood? Many were disappointed when Kuwait was not more forthcoming, considering the planned October 1992 puliamentary elections less than satisfactory. Indeed, the fear rested on the propositon that the Al-Sabah family would revert to feudal tendencies, hire mercenaries to defend them and reject any political reforms formany years to come. Such an outlook may well ensure their evenI tual downfall.

Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad ahSabbah, Emir of Kuwait Chapter, interviewed 406 Kuwaitis immediately afterthe cessation ofhostilities in March 1991. A majority (95 percent) rejected the premier Arab forum to settle intrastate disputes, the lrague of Arab States, as a valuable organization worth belonging to. Two-thirds (66 percent) concluded that Arab unity was abankruptconcept, although 3 I percentcontinued toexpress some interest in the idea, albeitwithreservations. Kuwaitis 5.5

did not trust fellow Arabs and barely

percent thought that they could rely on the League against potential aggressors. Rather, 26

AlM, January '1992


Armenian lnternational Magazine brings the changing Armenian world and more!


INTERVIEW

APresident in Exile Gamsal<hurdia's P re s enc e in Armenia Forces the Yerevan Government into a

Balancing Act By TONY HALPIN Boportlng trom Yer6van

usted Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia was given temporary permission to stay in Armenia after fleeing the embattled Parliament in Tbilisi, where opposition forces were shelling his hideout. He was taken to a remote mountaintop

Y

compound near Ijevan, on Armenia's northem border, while Armenian authorities worked out what to do with him. Gamsakhurdia' s arival with his family and about 80 supporters was an unwelcome new problem for Armenia. Keen to maintain good relations with its neighbor to ensure delivery of supplies needed to beat the Azerbaijani blockade, Armenia suddenly found itself sandwiched between the competing demands of Georgia's new andformerrulers. Most of the ousted president's followers were disarmed and allowedto return to Gamsakhurdia Georgia after talks between Armenia and the new leaders in Tbilisi. Some 20 remained with Gamsakhurdia, many of them armed to provide bodyguard for their leader.

President Levon Ter-Petrosyan, anxious to avoid disturbing the delicate relations further, bannedjournalists from seeing Gamsakhurdiawhile Armenian officials searched desperately for another counhy willing to give asylum to the Georgian.

Meanwhile, reports were emerging from Georgia that Armenians were being taken hostage by supporters of both sides in the dispute, and that Gamsakhurdia's followers were trying to impose a blockade of Armenia.

AIM

succeeded in obtaining an exceptionto theban

and become the first foreign news publication to inter-

view Gamsakhurdia sincehis arrival in Armenia.

getting ready for interview The road from Yerevan to Ijevan is a two-hourjourney tbrough mountain passes and switchback bends made even more treacherous by winter ice and snow. A dozen Armenian militiamen stand guard with Kalashnikov rifles outside the compound, and Gamsakhurdia bodyguards mill about in the grounds of the palatial retreat. AGeorgian leads us into the house where Gamsakhurdia" his wife Manana, and their sons Tsotnes, 15, and George, 12, are staying. We are taken up a flight of stairs to a reception area, where anxious followers of Gamsakhurdiaarehuddled around an electric cookerfor warmthas they awaitnews of theirfate, then into a smallroomwhere Gamsakhurdia, dressed in a gray overcoat, sits at a table waiting for us. Behind him, Manana tries to warm her hands over another cooker in the freezing temperature. We spoke without an interpreter. AIM=

How much longerwill you be in Armenia?

GAMSAKHURDIA: It depends on the Armenian Govemment-it

AIM January, 1992


must give me permission to leave Armenia. It is not clear why there are some difficulties in transporting me. I want to go to Georgia. My supporters are everywhere but are strongest in western Georgia. I would like to go back to western Georgia. When I left Tbilisi, I went first to Azerbaijan for the airport, to get a plane, but it was impossible. I wanted to go to western Georgia, where I and my family would be safe. The new government controls only Tbilisi. Wo u I d you fu prepared to s u bm it to a n oth er electi o n if yo u wereallowed back?

Why another election? Another election will be in five years. ff They say they are democrats, they must not act with violence and use militarymeans. I think former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze is behind them. Yes, he helped them; I think he helped them to do it. He wants to be leader in Georgia. It is very clear-he speaks everyday on

want to speak more and more to mass media. The Armenian Government said my every word is like a bomb in Georgia and this may have worse results.

There

are reports that your aupporters in Georgia have

taken Armenians hostage. ls this true? My supporters have taken Armenians hostage because they think that I am a prisoner here. It is not my orders, they make it by themselves. I don' t know how many. I will try to send them a message. I am very grateful to the Armenian Government because they have given me a place for my family and children. I want transportation, I am not afraid. I will take my family with me.

these people want to be the govemment, they must be elected.

television that he is ready to come to Georgia and help democracy and so on. These coup people all say that he is their leader and they work together with him. They don't hide it. All this so-called opposition is under Shevardnadze's leadership. Everybody knows that in Georgia; they speak about it every day. Maybe he is also supported by some forces in Moscow because I didn't sign this new Commonwealth.

Why didn't you ioin the Commonwealth States?

ot lndependent

I didn' t sign because I can' t without parliament and people' s will. I had no possibility to consult with parliament because these events began.It was impossible. We wanted to study this question. Now this junta says it will sign the new Commonwealth. We don't know what this Commonwealth is : Is it a new empire or a real commonwealth? must be studied, we can't make decisions so rapidly.

It

ln Georgia, you wene accused of being a dictator. It's alie aboutdictatorship. When I was in Georgia, there was real freedom and democracy, there was an opposition and opposition newspapers and freedom of meetings and demonsffations. Now this

Howhas life ber.n hereforthem? Life has been very bad and very hard for them. The children eat nothing and theirhealth is in danger. Not yethave the children been visited by a doctor but I think it will be necessary. They eat nothing, they are in such depression. My wife's health is also bad. We have a doctor with us-a Georgian

doctor. They are under

Gamsakhurdia: "l think former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze is behind thgm.,. He wants to be leader in Georgia."

medical care.

Myhousewasunderfire when my family left, these bandits were firing on my house and they were miraculously saved. My house was robbed. they took everything. This house was a museum to my father and everything was taken.

Haveyou received any

visits from your sur-

porters

in

Georgia

whileyou havefuen in Armenia?

My

supporters send

new powerhas forbidden demonstrations andnewspapers and meetings. They shootatmeetings. Itis atypicalfascistregime. Myrulewas democratic rule. All the newspapers are closed by this new regime. Before, there were 22 opposition newspapers in Georgia.

people here to see me and tell me what is happening. They are telling me that there are more and more protest movements in Georgia and many meetings and demonstrations demanding my retum.

But when the fighting was taking place, they released

How many visits have you had?

some ol the opposition leaders from prison. You put them

there.

Not many. Three or four times.

In prison were criminals. Now the criminals are in power. They committed crimes of robbery, violence.

Yourarrival has putArmenia in averyawl<ward situation. It is a very diffrcultposition for Armenia. The best solution would be to let me go. I think ttrat ttrere will not be civil war if I return. The

Did they have atrial?

junta has power in Tbilisi only and not in the rest of Georgia. No, notyet. They were underinvestigation; therehad notyetbeen

arial.

Shevardnadze wants to go to Georgia but the people are against that. demandhimbut itisjustthe opposite. It will be diffi cultforhim to come. We have many facts that Shevardnadze was consulting with them and helping them, before the fighting. They He thoughtthatpeople would

What about the torture equipment found in parliament?

were preparing They put these torture machines in the parliament after I left.

How is the Armenian Government treating you? I like, butl was very anxious becausethey didn'tgivepemission to foreign correspondents here. You are the first, the others were refused and they told them I didn't receive them. I was on hunger strike since today againstmy isolation. Iwill continue myhunger strikebecause I

it

together.

I think Shevardnadze

wants to be the

president of Georgia. He supports the coup, the junta, this is his real face. He was lying that he is a supporter of democracy. Why doesn't he speak about the real situation in Georgia and who has taken power?

lf Armenia says it will only help you to another country, what will you say?

I will think

AIM January,'1992

about

it if Armenia

says they

go into exile in will only provide 26c


transportation to another country. I have not contacted other governments, only Iappeal to all govemments toexpress theirpositionabout this junta and that it is not lawful. If they will not help me, Armenia will have more problems. Everything to Armenia comes from west Georgia, and west Georgia can stop everything for Armenia. Now everything is stopped in west Georgia, all trains. That started several days ago.

What would be your recommendation to the Armenian Government? My recommendation is to let me go and then I will try to send everything to Armenia and open these ways which are now stopped.

Areyou afraidthe regime in Georgia maytryto snatchyou backfrom Armenia? There are Armenian police and militia protecting me. My security is adequate. There will be worse and worse situation in Georgia if I cannot return. It will be very bad for eastem Georgia and Armenia by the blockade. Black Sea ports are closed for Armenia now and for eastern Georgia, the main way from Russia is blocked. This blocade is very @ad) forArmenia. I wantto help Armenia. I condemn the taking of hostages and I want to speak with them to stop this. I wantto have some possibility to speak withthese people, forthat reason I want to go to western Georgia. I don't want to go into exile, it will be very bad also for this situation. In western Georgia live two million people and these are now mobilized. These people will continue thisblockade. If I am notthere, there will be no reason forthe junta to break these lines to Armenia. The junta wants good relations with Armenia and they are themselves in a very bad economic situation.

Whatdoyouthinkwill happen now in Georgia?

If they had such documents, they can publish it but they never published it. It was their statement that I was insane but I think they themselves are insane. It ttlc rcpubllcs acceptthe new reglme lnto the Commonwealth,won'tthat meanthey regard lt as legltlmate? If the other republics have respect for themselves, they must not recognize thejunta. Yeltsinis elected, Nazarbayev is elected, Kravchuk is elected-this junta is self-nominated. How can they recognize

Nobody will rule now without me. It will be anarchy and pafily civil war. I am the only person who can stop this if I am supported.

The new rulers said that you are mentally ill and that they found proof otthis.

them?

How has all this affectedyour mental and physical health? It is a very strained situation for me. When one doesn' t know what and his family. I don't want to emigrate.

will happen with him

I

Gamsakhurdia in Armenia By Bonald Suny By atrvist of fate, the deposedpresidentof independentGeorgia, himself neverknown as afriendof the Armeuians, has foundhimself inforcedexileintheArmenianRepublic. ZviadGainsaktrurdia the sonofthemostnotedGeorgiannovelistofthesovietperiodandhimself a courageous dissident in Brezhnev's Soviet Union, emerged in the late 1980's as the most prominent and charismatic nationalist leader in Georgia. The leader of a coalition of political parties known as the Roundtable, Gamsakhurdia led them to victory in the parliame*ary

electionsofOctoberlgg0andwashimselfelectedpresidentoftherepublicinMayl99l.

Butalreadyfromhisearliestdaysinpower,the

president displayed an intolerance towards opposition, and a growing authoritarianism. He arrested his opponents, closed down critical newspapers, and drove many of his former supporters into the anti-Gamsakhurdia camp. Gamsakhurdia's brand of nationalism was marked by the sime paranoiac fear of enemies as other aspects of his politics. He combined a deep anti-communism with a convicion that the nonGorgians in the republic were agents of the Kremlin. Indeed the Abkhaz and Osetin peoples preferred Russian to Georgian rule, fearful of what Georgian independence would mean for the ethnic minorities. Armenians in ttre Georgian capital, Tbilisi, retreated into silence, but tensions became overt between the government and the large numbers of Armenians in the Southem Georgian disfricts of Akhaltsikhe and Aktralktralaki. Across the border the government of the Armenian Republic moved cautiously, unwilling to break with the one state through which supptes moved toward Armenia with some regularity. Their unwelcome but illusfious guest in Ijevan placed Yerevan in an extremely awkward position. It neither wanled to alienate the curent governmentinTbilisi nor to jeopardize its relationship with the still popular Gamsakhurdia. If Gamsaktrurdia succeeds in crossing back into Ge.orgia, his defeat at the hands of the intellectuals, nationalist-activists in Tblisi will appear only as a temporary setback in what will inevitably turn into a long sanguinary civil war. - -Within Georgi4lt is still unclear which side has the greater support. In the city of Tblisi, the opposition is backed by much of &e intelligentsiaani'aiignificantparof&e national guma, gutOarnsakhurdiaenjoys ttre affectionoflarginumbers of the wor^kingpeople of tlre countryside and his supporters are still able to bring out thousands of demonstrators in his name into the streets of Tblisi.

Ronald Suny is the Alex lilsnoaglan Profeg!.or ot Modern Armenian History at the Unive/,sw of lillchlgan AIM January, 1992


Coalition, which recently sponsored a tribute luncheon in Los Angeles to honor those

TheMedia&

in the media who have contributed to a better understanding of minority communities. The honorees included joumalists and news producers from KCBS, the Christian Science Monitor,The Los Angeles Tirnes and KPFK

The Message

radio.

U .5. M edia Treatment of Minoritie s : Skewed, with S ome P ro gress By FLORENCE AVAKIAN Speclal lo AIM

hile minorities settling in America sew the country into multi-ethnic quilt, the American media weave a different fabric when covering many of these ethnic groups. As defenders ofthe status quo and the power elite, the media often distort minority experiences and issues. "Among all Americans, there is no question of slavery and its long aftermath," says Professor Ben Bagdikian, a Pulitzer Prizewinning joumalist, referring to one of the

a

qroups examinedinthisarticle. three minority

ff xiHSJfiIfi media's assumption

Hovsepian, the catalyst behind the event,

emment,"he said. For Armenians, that leaves little choice but to act in an organized, unofficial capacity. "Everytime there is a mistreatment, a coherent voice must set the record straight," Bagdikian says. "When they receive coherent, correct statements, the media will be more careful the second time around." Two American-Armenian organizations, the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Committee of America, are in the business of correcting skewed information. Both are based in Washington, D.C. Affiliated withthe latterare local ANC chapters in major cities, the most active being the ANCAMestem Region, based in Glendale, Califomia. The ANCAilR es!tablished a toll-free

g ffiftl*'t}!,', T3; monitoringArmenian-

explains: "The coalition's goal is to encourage the American media to take greater interest in issues of concern to racial and ethnic groups, and to use its resources to create public awareness and to generate positive action." Carole t ong, director ofpublic affairs at

the Armenian Assembly, says her department monitors seven major national newspapers on a daily basis, filing, distributing and responding to articles affecting Armenians. In addition, she relies on the services ofanational radio and video clipping firm to monitor broadcast reports. "Parallel to monitoring, we also initiate op-ed articles," Long adds. "That involves cultivating Armenian political analysts and experts in major cities to write articles, and contacting local and national papers to create

interestin them." The Assembly's bureau in Yerevan keeps

in touch with American correspondents in Moscow, providing them with information

on events in Armenia, supplying

contact

names to interview and assisting them logistically once they are in the republic.

havebeenandcontinue

North America. The

"It's much more effective to deal with

to be

servicereliesontheinvolvementofthecom-

bureau correspondents rather than the foreign desks of theirnewspapers in the States," explains Long. "Field reporters are much more in tune with and interested in events unfolding in the Soviet Union." There is much more coherence about Armenian issues in the American media than 20 years ago, Bagdikian says. However, the

and poorlytreated." Winx,J subjugated

munity at large, it comes to reffii,iWW#,W whether in the United andArabs, mWfil/il!triffiliffi however. the media mffiWifr:lilliWffi{sd#fffiJ StatesorCanadatocall When

Armenians

follow official

govemsays

ment objectives,

hotline, (800) 3684ANC, to report on an

the

3i,',1tffii?t'3iflHi

3.1*H:1H.',ri::i-

voicemail answering keley. Whether it is the service,24hoursaday. "The aim was to lgl5ArmenianGenohelppreventbiasedrecide, the ongoing portingbyallowingus Azerbaijani blockade to develop a more imof Nagomo-Karabakh mediate media reor the persecution .of professor Ben Bagdikian sponse mechanism," theArmenianmajority there, the official American view "has re- | saysNoraHovsepian,alosAngelesattomey flecteditsdesirenottooffendTurkey.which I who heads the ANC'S Media Relations continuestoexercisetremendousdiplomatic I Committee. "We believe it will hold editors pressure on the United States," Bagdikian ] and programming managers responsible for says. "There has been ahesitation by Wash- | the news they disseminate about topics imington to confirm sound historical records." I ponant to the Armenian communiry." Thehotlineisonecomponentof alarger Although American media enjoy wide I freedoms,theylackacrediblecounterweight.

Bagdikian attributes the lack of a viable

opposition media to the homogenization of American politics. "We don't have a parliamentary system as in France, Japan or the United Kingdom where there are very powerful media organs in opposition to the gov-

I media relations program which includes letI ter-writing, telegram and telephone cam] paigns, and meetings with reporters, editors ] and foreign correspondents to set the record I straight. Together with 12 other Southem | Califomia ethnic groups, the ANC spear| headed the formation of the Multi-Ethnic AlM, January 1992

media are still "very kind" to Turkey, as evidenced by "their virtual ignoring of Turkish treatment of its Kurdish population," he adds.

Minute Blce

Khalil Jahshan, a Palestinian political scientist, also sees progrcss in media coverage of Middle East issues during the last 20 years. "Comparedtofiveto l0years ago, we are way ahead," says the director of the National Association of Arab Americans in Washington D.C. The lobby group is the oldest Arab-American organization in the United States. Despite those words of praise, Jahshan continues to pelt the American media for what he says is biased coverage of Mideast issues and a failure to porffay the Third World fairly. He paints the media as "superficial, commercial, lazy, andnotinterested in complicated issues." He says the media are absorbed by "instant gatification, like Minute Rice." Most


news reports in the

united states come from

above, then reporters seek out experts to corroborate the information, says Jahshan. This he attributes to a lack of initiative, but most importantly because the media as a collective is a commercial entity masquerading as the information industry. European media are better informed, Jahshan notes,

believe the Jews control the media, but they have used their influence to impact both negatively and positively," he says, adding that "Arab-Americans haven't had their resources, money or organization." However, several factors have brought about positive coverage of Arab-Americans, including the policies of the right-wing gov-

expertise that we portrayed in the media, rather than our Arab-American ethnicity." This has hardly been the case with African-Americans. Media coverage of AfricanAmericans "mirrors the nation's stance on the question of color," says Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, senior minister of the Canaan Baptist Church in New York and one of the

most influential and visible figures in the African-American community. "Racism persists irrespective of continu-

ing allegations that race relations are improving. We get newsprint when someone robs, murders, pillages, while most positive

aspects nored."

of African-American life are ig-

Even though there are African-American joumalists and politicians, they all have to compromise or risk exclusion, he says. Sucked in by

official agencies, they leam to

reflect an already defined and elite Anglo culture. But Walker also sees progress. "We are a

long way from Amos and Andy, and the "Superfly"imageofthefurcoat, cadillac and

Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker and provide in-depth reporting, even though their resources iue more limited than their American counterparts. Jahshan argues that American media sympathy toward Israel is due to Jewish business influence, their easy access to the media, their ability to inform with a constant barrage of fact sheets , as well as their meticulous monitoring of all information. "I don't

Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the National Association of Arab Americans

ernment in Israel and its handling of the Palestinian uprising, he believes. During the Gulf Crisis, threemajorArabAmerican organizations received unprecedented mediacoverage, he says; adding that his group alone received more than 400 interview requests. "This is not only quantitative progress but qualitative. It was our

cocaine," he says. "Some TV sitcoms show real-life situations, but only a very small part of life." Still, the mainstream media have a long way to go to fairly reflect America's ethnic diversity. Theyhaveaduty toreportthenews that the public needs, says Prof. Bagdikian. "Sometimes, it is advantageous to certain groups and disadvantageous to others. But at all times they should be much more diligent in doing their homework and seeking accu-

information, while the affected minority groups should be ever vigilant to make sure

rate

that this is done."

Florence Avakian is a New York-based lrelance joumalist and an accrdited United Nations correspondent

Internships in Armenid! The A.Y.F. Summer Intern Program in Armenia allows you to:

o Gain professional experience in your field of study o Experience the Arurenian culture first'hand o f.earn the social, economic, political, and legal

environment of working in Armenia

The A.Y.E Summer Intern Program is an annual, two-month program (June to August) which offers Armenian youth the opportunity to develop their professional careers while helping Armenia. During the summer of 1992, interns will be placed in Armenian governmental agencies, ministries, and cooperatives, in almost any desired field. To receive the application package,

send resume ASAP to: A.Y.F. Summer Internships, P.O. Box 4768, New York, N.Y. f0185.004f

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The application deadline is February l, 1992. Summer 1992 internships are only available to residents of or students at universities in the East Coast or Mid-West of the United States. Organized by the AYF-YOARE Eastern Region USA.

28

AlM, January 1992


I remember stories I

Messenger of Peace '

Ar me ni an E xp e ri e nc e I s B e hind Alb e rt A g haz ari an' s Role in Palestinian Delegation at the MideastTalks By ARA VOSKIAN AIM Jordan correspondent

f the Palestinian

message at the recent

Madrid Peace Conference came through loud and clear across the world, it was in no small part due to an Armenian pro-

fessorfrom Jerusalem. While Dr. Hanan Ashrawi emerged into the spotlight as the best-known spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation in Spain, ProfessorAlbert Aghazarian was playing the key role of director of the Palestinian press center, helping thousands ofjoumalists cover the historic conference. Aghazaian, 41, is one ofthe new breed of intellectuals who have taken aleading role in preserving Palestinian culture and identity in the occupied Arab territories since the 1967

and more involved in the study of the history, culture and politics of the Arab world. Today, the professor has become achampion of the Palestinian cause. Why is he, an Armenian, so much involved in this cause, when his community in Ierusalem has always distanced itself from politics down the years? "Palestinian culture is aculture ofpluralism. I hope my work for a new image of moderation and common sense will make

Armenians more involved in national and

heard from my grandparents during the Genocide and its aftermath, when they were uprooted from their lands. "I see the same thing now in Palestine and that made me react." Despite being extremely busy, Armenia is always on his mind. He follows the news from the homeland religiously, and believes that Diaspora Armenians are the republic's most important asset. "They are indispensible to the Mother-

land," he said. "That is why the relationship between the Diaspora and the Motherland should be a healthy one. It should not be based on manipulation, but clarity and mutuality. "The relationship should also not be one ofcharity. Instead ofsupplying fish for them to eat, which would solve their problem in the shortterm, it is bettertoteachthem theart

Arab-Israeli war. This new generation of academics and intellectuals struggledto keep alive its national aspirations under the Israeli

occupation. Sincelsrael declinedtoengage in dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization, it was left to these academics to express the wishes of the Palestinian people atthe

Madrid

conference and the bilateral talks that fol-

lowed.

Under the leadership

of Faisal Al-

Husseini, the Palestinian delegation comprised the negotiating team, led by Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi, and the support group, led by Husseini himself. Aghazarian worked in the latter group as press advisor to Ashrawi. Married with three children, Aghazarian lives in the Armenian convent, the heart of the Armenian community in the Old City of Jerusalem. He majored in political science at the American University of Beirut, and later did graduate work in Islamic history at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Why Islamic history? "It was a challenge," said Aghazarian, who is director of public relations at Birzeit University near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. Many credit Aghazarian for bringing the university, where Ashrawi teaches English, up to intemational standards.

Aghazarian, who speaks Armenian, Turkish, English, Spanish, Arabic, French and Hebrew fluently, recalled his early days at the CollEge des FrEres in Jerusalem,

when

his Arabic teacher lauded him every time his Arab classmates failed to live up to class standards, saying "look at this Armenian; he can excel in Arabic, why can't you?" This spurred the young Albert to be more

if

Albert Aghazarian (at right) with Faisal Husseini and Hanan Ashrawi during a press conference in Madrid, after the opening of the historic peace talks

public issues. By doing that, they will not only serve the coun[y they live in but also promote Armenian causes," he said. "Jerusalem is an important Armenian center in the Diaspora. My struggle for Palestine is a struggle for Armenian identity. For me it is an easy contribution." Aghazarian's mastery of several languages helps him deliverhis message forcefully and convincingly. His multicultural profile often gives way to lightermoments as well. Prior to landing in the Spanish capital for the peace conference, he came across a question on the airplane landing card, requesting his nationality. He wrote: *To be determined in Madrid!" Being Armenian has helped Aghazarian in his work, he said. "Palestinians remind me of my Armenian experience.

an

AlM, January 1992

of fishing, which would solve their problems permanently. "We should develop their skills and pro-

fessionalism, so that they can help themselves."

Aghazarian contends that having close contacts with the Arab world is important

for

Armenians. He hopes the new Armenian leadership will avoid following the lead of some eastern European countries with overwhelmingly pro-Israeli policies, and that it would maintain balanced relations vis-d-vis Israel and the Arab world. As forthe Middle East peace talks, which resumed in Washington D.C. last month, and his own future in politics, Aghazarian said: "Once Palestinians are on the right track, the challenge will be gone, and I would most probably go backto my academic work."

I

29


A map in the Armenian Episcopal Museum

in Bucharest depicts existing Armenian churches in Romania between the Orient and Europe, soon became involved in trade.

With the influx of new immigrants, the community gained more power and influence in the social life of Moldavia. In 1350, they builtachurch inBotosani-theoldestin Romania. During the reign of Alexander the Good (1400-1432), Armenians received special trading privileges which led to the development ofthe city ofSuceava, then the capital of Moldavia. Because of the large number of Armenians living there, in l40l the right to establish an episcopate was recognized.

By 1418, another 3,000 Armenian families had settled in Moldavia, drawn by favorable economic conditions and the personal invitation of the king. The number of Armenians doubled, reaching nearly 20,000 afterthe fall ofConstantinople and the Tartar invasion of the Crimea. Many were appointed to high-ranking positions in the administration of the state, and in 1571 an Armenian was elected ruler of Moldavia. Despite his relatively short reign, Ioan the Terrible (also known as Ioan the Armenian) carved a special niche in Romanian history because of his strong stand against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into northern parts of Eu-

rope. After his death in battle, the king's brother, Ioan Potcoava (Garabet), succeeded

him for a short reign. The Armenian population also grew in Transylvania. Under Austro-Hungarian rule, Armenians living there were forced to convert to Catholicism. By the l9th Century many had Hungarian names, but maintained their original heritage in cultural and social

life. ln 1243,King Bela gave economic privi-

Life after Geausescu

leges to Armenians, adding some lands to Armenian monasteries and churches. How-

C

ever, the privileges were abolished at the end

enturies-Old C ommunity Reasserts lts Historic Role in Post-Communist Romania By ARA GHEIIIIGIAN Special to AIM AIM Pholos in Bucharest by Mihai Gheorghlu

town. Suceava

terrifying night, when

be the flag of theRomanian revolution. Then the bells begin to sound, the flrst to announce

scores of people lost their lives in a

the fall of the dictatorship. Passersby kneel

spontaneous

and pray. These were the

After

a

demonstration against the Communist regime, this Friday moming hundreds of thousands are march-

ing from every comer toward downtown Bucharest. Here, in the building of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, hides TheDictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. In less than one hour he will be history. A group of youngsters knock at the door the small apartment where the 30

shortly after, the group appears with the

retumed the lands to the Catholic congregation of the Augustines. The existence of an Armenian bishop is mentioned in the l4th Century, when Armenians also had a church in Brasov, southem Transylvania's largest

Romanian tricolor from which they have ripped out theCommunist symbol. This will

ecember 22, I 989, 9: I 5 a.m.

of

Archimandrite Zareh Baronian lives, next to the Armenian church in Bucharest. They want the key to the church's bell tower, and

of that century by King Ladislau IV, who

"Bells of Liberty..."

Armenians have lived on Romanian territory since 1000 A.D. The first colony settled in Transylvani a in 97 2 A.D., after migrating from the southern parts of the Balkan Peninsula. After the fall of Ani, a large number of

After Poland's King Albert occupied

in 1497 and began to persecute Armenians living in northern Moldavia, nearly 700 families moved to settle in the B

istritaregion of central Transylvania. Stefan

Rares triggered a second exodus from Moldavia in l55l by imposing restrictive laws on Armenians. But the community persevered and secured rights to found autono-

mous cities such as Armenopolis

and and

Armenians reached the eastem parts of

Elisabetopol, today's Gherla

Moldavia(now Moldova) and, adapting rapidly to the privileged geographical position at the crossroads of the commercial routes

Dumbraveni. In the southern parts of Romania, mainly Bucharest, the Armenian presence was pal-

AlM, January 1992


pable as early as the l5th Cenrury. Due to the ongoing Ottoman threat, most preferred to move north to Moldavia and Transylvania, where they carried on commercial activities

first action was todetermine thenum-

in peace.

berof Armenians in the country, which

50-yearabsence. Founded in the early I 920s to help Armenian refugees from Turkey, the UAR now has I 2 regional offices throughout the country. Its

it estimated ar 8,000 to10,000. Its membership indicates the relative concentration of Armenians: 4,0fi)

With their ancient traditions

and played a

customs, Armenians also cardinal role in the development of Romanian cultural life. The oldest

members in Bucharest, 1,000 each in Constanta and Cluj. Ceausescu's overthrow brought thousands out of isolation. For years, many had changed their names and concealed their ethnic origin fearing

religious manuscript found on Romanian territory, a translation in Armenian of the Old Testament dated 135 1 , is preserved at the Armenian Episcopal Museum in Bucharest. About I 5 Armenian churches have survived in Romania today, but only

the security police-the Securitate. During state census, many registered "Romanian" to avoid harassment.

four observe the Armenian liturgy.

as

The remainder are used eitherby Romanian or Hungmian Christians. Prominent figures of modem Romanian history include Gheorghe Asachi, who founded the first Roma-

Those who did otherwise were visited

nian-language school in the l9th Century, the writer and mathematician Spiru HT!t, Virgil Madgearu, a politician and Minister before World

War

II,

by a Securitate officer asking about relatives in the West, had their mail

lffit . a,rr*nl"n

writer and publisher

Garabet Ibraileanu, composer Emanoil Ciomac, and art collector and critic Krikor Z,arnbacciur. During the f,rrst half of the 20th Century, Armenian publishers spawned over 30 Romanian and Armenian-language newspapers andmagazines. After 1945 and the imposition of the Communist regime by the Soviets, Armenian community life took a downward slide.

Many Armenians who opposed communism were arrested and deported

totheSovietUnion; others emigrated to

the United States, South America and Westem Europe. In 1948, with Soviet promises of abetter

church in Bucharest

checked, their telephone calls intercepted, and lost opportunities for professional promotion. Today, the community boasts such well-known figures of the Romanian

cultural landscape as writers Bedros

inRomania. Though reduced in number and influence, the Armenian community was rebom on December 22,1989, the water-

Horasangian and Stefan Hagopian, cartoonist Matry Aslan, artists Nicolae Iaccopovici and Eduard Nicogosian, intemational tenor Edouard Tumaganian, jazz musician Harry Tavitian, and TV talk-show host and writer Vartan Arachelian. Another Armenian, Nae Bedros, is a member of parliament for the Liberal Party. "During our recent survey, many Romanians came out and enrolled in our organization simply because their grandparents were

shed date of Romania's uprising. A yearlater, the community regained its ethnic identity. Last March, it also found its collective voice with the re-estab-

Armenian, or their mother, or their wife," said Varujan Vosganian, the UAR president and a member of the Romanian Parliament. "Our organization is not a political one, but this kind ofactivism is needed to regain our

lishment of the Union of Armenians in Romania (UAR) after a

and to defend our ethnic interests," he added.

time, in aid money, clothes and medicines. But Ceausescu's regime refused to provide free rail transportation for the humanitarian aid, stating that Armenians should make arrangements to collect the provisions themselves if they were in dire need of it. Today, the money remains in abankaccount

individual rights lost during communism,

lifeinwhatwasthen Soviet Armenia, hundreds moved to homeland. Many were sent to

the

laborcamps.

In the

1960s,

whentheRomanian

government

was

Glass icons in the Armenian Museum in Bucharest

moving away from the gnp of the Soviet Union, another exodus began, this time mainly to the United States. By the 1980s, under the stifling dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, the number of Armenians in Romania had diminished to a mere 3,000, according to ofhcial statistics. After the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia, the tiny community still managed to raise 700,000 lei, about $65,000 at that

Varujan Vosganian, parliamentarian and president of the Union of Armenians in Romania

AlM, January 1992

3l


that Armenians have outside contacts, even the govemment is keen on improving relations with our community."

inflation in Romania, the UAR is providing financial help for retired and elderly Arme-

The community recently regained an Ar-

"We are looking forward to stronger ties with Armenian businessmen in the Diaspora, especially those who are from Romania," saidVosganian. "With the tremendous investment possibilities and large markets for goods in former Communist countries in

"Knowing

menian-language school building in Bucharest which will now serve as the UAR headquarters, youth club and as the administrative offices of Ararat, the Union's newspaper. With the help of private investors, the

organization set up a commercial firm,

UARCO, whose profits will finance the UAR's community-related activities. Recent months saw the creation of the

Armenian Medical Council by some 150 physicians.It plans to open clinics and medical facilities for Armenians. With soaring

nians who could not survive on their pension.

Catholicos of All Armenians is the most important personality that the tiny community has produced in this century. Most recently, the organization's lobbying efforts resulted in the recognition of the Republic of Armenia by the Romanian govemment on Dec. I l. Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian arrived in Bucharest a week later to establish diplomatic relations with

Eastem Europe, we are ready todobusinessin an Armenian atmosphere." The community is also bent on strength-

the East European country.

ening its ties with the homeland. Vosganian recently visited Armenia and had meetings with President l-,evonTer-Petrosyan and His Holiness Vazgen I. A native of Romania, the

through the efforts

AlM, January 1992

"Romania was also the frst country to with Armenia, again

sign an economic treaty

of the UAR," added

Vosganian.

With repotts by Sarkis Stepan in Bucharest

*lian

and ttihai


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I


Armenian,Maruiage in the'9Os hat are your expectations&om maniage? Whatehanges do you hope

it will bring to your life?

Throwthose questions at a fewdozen Armenianyouth, and they will bounce bacLwith as manyv*riations in response. That is what we found in a survey conducted in two cornmunities-*Los Angeles and Parisin December, Upon closer scrutiny, four general pattems were discemed: to

find

alifetimefrisndbrparmer; toformafamilyandhavechildrbn;tochange lifestyle; to find fuIfi llrnent, harmony and happiness. AzuiveandGaspgrMagarianhavebeenmanied foralqlost63 year .Theyhave, knowneach other iince elementary school,'The Fresno,.qlruple nowha$ a son and adaughter, fivegraodchildrenandone great-grandchild. The seerqttoasucce$smarriage is'tirderstryrdingeach other, conrmunicating your feelings, not being fussy about money, and beingforgiving,'r they say. "We don't always agree on everl4hing," says Aznive, "but that's what rnakes it beautiful. "fuhrriagetoday is differenr women aremore independentanddon't have to dependontheif huibands, whichis why Ithinkthere are more divorces.Ibelieve in heedom, but not in abusing ttrat freedom," says Aznive. "The basis of living together is loving one another."

fi.rl

ilfoi"""rcofir"pt

Uy

*y *"*r,

ing*seems to continue being -"Armenian

butlove*implying givingas much as tak-

the foundation of a happy lifetime partnership.

Marriage in lhe '90s" sets the tone for a quartedy series on marriage and family life for &e rest of the year and the next. AIM will successively probe intodomestic violence, intermarriages,marriage inArmenia, amishmash bf traditions, and divorce. The present article simply looks intothe difficultiesof finding amateandthe costof geuing married. Stafrer Katherine C hiljan]t isette Poole in San Francisco, Jackie Abramian in Boston, Armineh Johannes in Paris and Maroush Yermaian in Aleppo contributed with reports. -BaffiShoubookian AlMiMike

The Price of A Modern Dtleam By ANI HADJIAN eddings punctuate the Armenian calendar in more ways than onenamely, payment of outstanding bills. In the United States, where weddings are marketed as the event of a lifetime, firsttime marriage couples in 1990 spent $32 billion on wedding expenditures. Armenians matched and sometimes surpassed their American counterparts, who spend over $19,000 per wedding. Today's average Armenian wedding andhoneymoon costs more

than$27,m0. Newlyweds Lisa and Raffi spent $40,fi)0 on a 550-guest wedding ceremony and reception. They are not alone. Their approach is typical of the Armenian way of marriage-large, expensive and festive. As consumers, Armenian couples budget their finances with cost estimates and price comparisons. Despite careful planning, expenses mushroom. But even the economic recession 34

classmates and far-removedkin. Tactful ways 1o hem the number of invitations are preempted by unwritten rules of etiquette, origi-

pre-modem Armenian concept

can not spoil this party.

nating from

August bride Laura, who considered using the wedding budget for a down payment onahouse,recallsthe weddingdaywith utter happiness and no regrets. "In retrospect, it was worth it. We can always eam the money

of weddings. "Harsaneek" (wedding) con-

for

a

house, but I

wouldn't be able to recreate

thatday.I will neverforget it." Mike Agyan, a Pasadena, Califomiabased professional wedding photographer, sees weddings as becoming "more and more

elaborate."

"Every couple thinks its wedding unique.

It

is the same service, the

is

same

procedure, from beginning to end... a limousine, sophisticated flower arrangements, a designer gown from New

From

a

York."

couple's viewpoint, the occasion

is singularly unique and meaningful. The numberof guests that attend acouple's dream day is equally spectacular. The guest list rangesfrom2fi)to600,oftenhoveringaround the 5OO-person mark. Frequently, older family members engage in subtle pressure to include distant acquaintances, forgotten AlM, January 1992

notes

a

community feeling and involvement.

Despite parental disapproval, a minority of couples in France and the United States chose relatively smaller weddings. Marie and Paul, natives of Califomia, risking the indignation of uninvited acquaintances, decided to share their wedding with mostly family members. "I don't want to be reintroduced to people I hardly know or recognize," said Marie, commenting on the meager head count of200.

Aspring of rites The coalescence of Armenian and westem nonns ushers in a period of splintered wedding traditions and novel attirudes. Many Armenians guard tradition on the assumption that change in the family threatens the survival of the community.

Until recently, the sensitive subject of financing a wedding was dictated by tradition. Convention assigned the groom's family the payment of the wedding, and to the


bride's family, the cost of the enga-gement.

I tion. The Armenian family, at least until the I nian Evangelical Church youth group in I tum of the century, deeply intemalized a I Aleppo,syiia."Boysaresoriretimeiactually equality have intervened. Wherewithal and strong sense of fainily hbnor and loyalty. | of Armeniari girls (for maniage) beI Sexual grcateropenness on money matters ts gradupurity was expected of females and I "f.AO cause they ask for so many things-}ouse, | allyreplacingthesenseofobligationshoul-l ensuredbyfithersandbrotherswhoguarded lcar,etaborateceremony,ctstly[own.And groom s family' dered cereo by Dy $e Ioe grooln's ramuy' Par.ents riu.ents ar-e are I their ther female temale kin from liom illicit relati-onships relationships I the girls say rhat that all th!'bovslo'abroad the boys go abroad to increasingly adapting to modem times; ofwith men. Marriages were arranged by'u I wo1f and tli"n rnu.ry toca lmito obtain [a | ten,bothsetsofparentshelpout. - I "mitchnotfi"-a g-o-Uetween---ani *o."n I pafticularlnationality.', ' 4ugyft bride Ani spent her savings and I were betrothed aIan early age, causing a , much of her parents' to cg-v-ej the w.edding wide gap groom. age between ttre 6tde and Carnal knowledge I I ceremony ans recepuon. ''His ceremory and reception. rus_ramlly family just Once maniea, married, the bride joined the gioom's groom's I Just I once Despite the clash of the sexes and the _ couldn't afford it," she said, explaining their where she was e*pected to dis- | rigorous sexual mores, engagement and I household, compromise- A few decades ag9' thg a8reephyageneralpostureof | bUeOience. Wbmen whosubmiisivenessand | *EddingceremoniesaremainEvEnb.Though ment would have been intolerable, cheapenwere unmarried at I Aleppe'6menians strongly emphasize vir| ingthehonorofthefamily. I ts or 20 were stigmatized with ttre label I tuousvaluesfor*omen,if,oreinFranceand "doon-mena" (stay-at-home), commonly I theUnitedStatesdonotplaceapremiumon tating season understood as an old maid. I I virginity. Even those originally from Syria or Then there are the universal pres.g{?s tnlgl4,thefollowingsymbolicwedding I ttre-fraiOOtefastaremorJliketytoyietdtottre I thatmenandwomenfaceinlocatingsuitable I ritual occurred ln ttre v'ittage of Nirzeh ii I processofacculturation,forsikinftheirconBut necessity and westem-ideas of.gender

spouses.

"A lot of people who are near rheir

30saren'tgetiingmr"r"d,*;;;;;

PRICELESS DREAirl -A tiiivCragecosts-orarormii*eoil,ig **ffi"li,..1,gnes7Afrendf;rts'eitts

iT#lil.f,T#fi[$[S;"1];:ii:

'Z T

,ersv,chw*rree\ \ /,

i;:,'I['."1:t'.i'#iH"Hffi:iifi b,roken off." Lori, a university student tnvitations, eostag\

r,*fiU.];*fi*:ffiruf,i;""T;;"**::iH*S'

servative values for more sophisticated

on"'}*oui from rran and Zepure from

t??f[ffi';;y*fJ#1,rl;ffi

''a:n:liultl' ;:X#1iffi:;H::lhX'ffiiii',*: ity. A cross section of Armenian youth

,ou,

r,'

r;:iJ,ffff,TJ,[H:LL:#i1:

riedtofillthevoidinyourlife." $aoi lBlIgIEr rngwomeninrheagecategoryof 16I|t ,*,1.-uy maintained that sexual l - Gabriel Injejikian of ils. Angeles, I u,rso "ryffi#'**t 'r',.,,1ri1, 1: in the United States, points oyl jhat I priate.Sirprlsingly,thoieponedinparis ot,* BddalDrcts. lttt1; ,..' Armeniansaredelayingmarriage."More \*u1lq:8end,B.r:__-.^__(wnereseiualmoresaretonsideredto l\ / veflsr'87o and mole Armenian lortr, *"*t i.G | \ | / bemorerax)weremorecan5srv.llyg-

##i:Hf;1ffifi{;3HI,l':#ff job,

\ I ),

rorAl $2.,,s26-,,/ ff ffiTh;Ii::;H1i:.fdffi: / centsaiditdependsonthesituation.

car \ l/' \ -,\ beforeheisreadytogetmarried.Ameri- \must have a good

home and

_-,' --------l

The age-old double standard of chastitv ias barerv detectabre. rhe youngest age category ofmen did reveA iomeioncJm with-the future spouse's virginity, but approved of premarital sex in gei'eratiosperidng.

;H:ffi,:iH:X?11H11,',1,1'Jl,,Tfl; :lJ:ff:ilIf;:;:ffif"lff. ,

direction." I Westem Rrmenia: "Before the daughter-in- | A recent AIM survey in Califomia and I hw could go into her husband's h--ouse on I _ Paris on the attitude of Armegig1..v9u$ weddingday,themother-inJawhadtoshow | I Iowaromarrrage towardmarriagebackseducatorlnjejikian's DacKs eoucatormJeJKlan's the when the the I On the whole, moral absolutes were not I ttre young bride who was boss. When obse-rvation. Collectively, respondents in UriAi: entJrea her new home, her mother-inreconcilable with the views of the up-andI | Califomiaselectedtheqrmg.ag:.of 2J a+ hwwouldliftonelegandbarthedoorwithit. | I coming generarion. Amid the wideipread those in Paris chose 28 as the ideal time "to tie The new bride had t6 stoop and go under the op"n-rii"'aedness on the subject of premariI I $e knot." Argu$ 16 percent did not think I leg to enter the house." lVtaziai, Armenian I t t r.*, talk of VictorianJi{e repression is therewasanidealage. I Review 1983, Interview with Harry I faintly audible. Fearing nonacceptance by Boodakian.) | their future husband and his farnily, somb Allinthefamily Despite the total abandonment of this I Armenian women who have been iexually . I AlthoughArmenian youth are theoreti- wedding ritual, similar subordination pat- acdvereportedlyoptforasurgicalprocedure | | cally freetochoosetheirspouse, anticipated tems linger. [n most Middle Eastem ein"that reconstruits' the hyrien. 'At least I I rolesandpattemsguidechoicesandexpectaspecialisrc are | nian communities, the notion that young I procedurally, gynecological tions. A recent sociological study at theUni- UriOes bear healthier children and are mori i**" of tnis ;ievirgini"zationi, surgery, as | I versityofCalifomiaatlosAngeles(Sabagh lcompetentwivesremainstrue.Restrictedin | .orr"r"fotoit.Theunethicalanddehuman&Lig!t' I989)showedthatparentsunques- | pr"rna.ita love relationships, private indis I izing aspects of the surgery are debatable. tionably favor Armenian in-laws. . Sixty- | cretions by girls are unlikeiy. women older I u..l vuherable to cross-examination are seven percent of newly arrivedlranian-Ar| tnan ZZ arJstill considered "doon-mena." I physiologicalmisconceptions.AnArmenian menians desired their sons and daughters to Vfaritat retationships where men ile signifiI | itoitor p6i"ts out the error. "A huge number marry other Iranian-Armenians. The second cantly older than their spouses are viewred as of hymLns are already ruptured &cause of I I preference was union with any Armenian titelytosucceed. ptryiicA acdvity p.i6r t6 sexual relationI I individual"iJnfortunately,theydon'tknowwhatto I ittips." While ttrere is anecdotal evidence, I The role of the family in nurturing ethnic expect from marriage,;' explains Reverend I I th""*t"nt of the use of this service proved identityandprideoftenregulatesmateselec- | Avo Boynerian, wh6 works with the Arme- | difficulttogauge. AlM, January 1992

35


Party Time forSingles ByAZNIV KETEI{CHIAN Garine and Shahe Seuylemezian getting ready for their July1991 wedding.

Q. What is the most commonly asked question of Armenians who are single? A. "When are you getting married?"

The Los Angeles couple organized thelr wedding finances on a com-

puter spreadsheet program, and used a database to preAIM/Ratti Shoubookian

pare the invitation list.

The myth of romantic love, the fairy tale that the prince and princess will live happily ever after, is enduringly appealing to Armenians and non-Armenians alike. The consid-

erably less attractive volitional activity of marriage requires compromise, discipline and acceptance. Young Armenians are willing to work toward the ideal of a reciprocally supportive, honest and fulfilling marriage. Only 7 percentof those polled in California and 24percent in Paris would not sacri-

fice their career for a healthy marriage. And an even smaller proportion (5 percent and I 2 percent, respectively) would not sacrifice theircareers to care for offspring. If Armenian youth will risk commitment for the possibilities of truth and love within marriage, perhaps the price of a dream is warranted. Ani Hadjian is a Los Angeles-based social activist and writerwhose community works

and scholarship tocuses on gender and politics

e

it at a family get-together, a social or an informal gathering of

event

friends, the question somehow seems

to surface during conversations. Regardless of age, gender, place of birth or occupation, every Armenian single will concurthat there is pressure to marry, settle down, and pro-

duce grandchildren. "Our parents have a preconceived notion that you have to be married by a certain age, but to whom is not

as relevant," said

businessman Bryan Agbabian,30. Despite subtle or direct pressure from family and the community, a single Armenian's chance of finding an Armenian mate in the United States in the '90s can be promising. Although the altemative of a single lifestyle is available, marriage does become an issue for singles in the 26-35 age bracket who have "sown their wild oats" and are

ready to commit to a stable family life."I think our elders have a valid point in encouraging singles to marry Armenians, because then both partners have amutual understanding of each other's background," said Dale

Agajanian, a Z9-year-old engineer. "That cultural bond will strengthen the foundation of theircommitment." Over the years, in many cases decades, Armenian groups have congregated for the exclusive purpose of creating opportunities for singles to meet, mingle, befriend, date

and eventually marry. Different organizations are geared to different groups ofsingles, buteach aspires tocreate a social atmosphere where Armenian singles can comforably meet other Armenian singles.

The year 1982 holds special memories for Sara Garo, a teacher in parent education for the Long Beach School District. "I was becoming concemed with the growing number of friends who were divorced or widowed, so I created a group for singles and organized gatherings where people can meet," she said. Garo placed an ad in an Armenian community newspapâ&#x201A;Źr for a party at her home. Fifteen people aftended, marking the birth of the Armenian lnteraction Group, renamed to Armenian Singles Group (ASG). Today, ASG, with a mailing list of over 200 names and an organizing committee, attracts an average of 45-55 people at each event. During the year, ASG hosts lectures, parties for Valentine's Day and Christmas, and monthly dinner outings. In the summer, members enjoy beach parties, picnics, and barbeques in Garo's backyard.

"At our gatherings, I see many old faces, but there are always several new ones," she said. "People come to make new friends, fulfill their curiosity." Originally, ASG was not aimed at any age bracket, but it has evolved into a group for 40 to 50-year-old American and foreign-

meet a potential mate, or to

bom Armenian singles. Individuals from Boston and Fresnohave expressed interest in

establishing similar groups.

Garo's founding role does not end with ASG. Two years ago she encouraged her nephew, Greg Mooshagian, a 6th-grade teacher in the South Whittier School District,

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to start the Young Armenian Singles (YAS) group. Anextension of ASG,YAS is geared toward 25 to 35-year-olds. "The motivation for me was to find an altemativeto the big dance scene, to develop a more intimate setting where young people can talk," said Mooshagian,32. The main problem he found with large functions was the lack of interaction. "In such settings, Armenians traditionally tend to stick with those they know, reluctant to open up and meet new people. However, once they get going, they're great company,"he said. YAS socials have included trips to the ballet, Hollywood Bowl concerts, small garden parties and dinners in restaurants. Mooshagian, who does all the work of adver-

tising and mailing himself, relies greatly on the grapevine. On average, atleast 30people attend each function, and new faces are aIways present in the crowd. "People from all walks of life come to meet, eat and have a great time," Mooshagian said.

For the record, YAS participants have dated, but no marriages have resulted as of yet. ASG takes credit for one marriage.

Fun in the sun The Choreg Brothers (CB) Fratemity has

for eight years provided a social setting for those singles who prefer their fun in the sun.

The group is an association of Armenian Apostolic and Protestant youth from four local Armenian churches.

By agreement, the identity of a Choreg Brother is not revealed because the fratemity considers all Armenian males as brothers. "Any single male who shows up at (CB or other church functions) could be a brother," The maiorlty of those polled d$ired both a carâ&#x201A;Źer and lamily. But lf a choice had to be made, Armenians would sacrilice their career for offspring and marrlage.

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party, one of only two annual events, has become a tradition for many and attracts nearly 120 people. Held every July at Huntington City Beach, the gathering "creates a social opportunity to bring young Armenians, as well as families andelders, together to have a good time," he said. In 1988, a small group of females formed the Chameech Sisters Sorority as the female counterpart to CB. That same year saw the start of the Chameech Olympics, an annual volleyball toumament held during the beach party. "The point is to get Armenian young people together and keep the morals of the church groups in the forefront," said TerGhevondian, who has been a member of the organizing body for four years. "Any Armenian in Christianity can come (because) we try to instill Christian fellowship."

Do.goody dancing shoes Brotherhood and friendship are also

Vartan Ter-Ghevondian, spokesperson for the fratemity. There never are more than l0 brothers at one time, and once married, said

members leave the organizing committee. CB is not established like a regular fraternity. "We don'thavemembershipdrives, but traditionally our members have been people who have known each other from the youth groups," said the 3l-year-old PR research specialist. The fratemity's popular beach

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part of another Armenian fratemity, Triple X, although it is better known in the community for its parties and philanthropy. "I joined Triple X to meet friends, but I also knew that the fratemity would be there 20 years from now and I would grow with it," said Jeff Badarian, an ll-year member of the L.A. chapterwho is in sales management. The fraternity was organized in Fresno in l9l8 as a result of discrimination. Eight


young Armenian boys from Fresno High School formed their own group, since they were not allowed 0o join any others. The X signified secrecy and the three X's meant there would be no more than 30 members. But its popularity has multiplied over the years to presently 1,700 members statewide; the possibility of starting chapters in other

MatchesAre NotAlways

Made in Heaven ByTALINE SATAIIIAN

states has been discussed.

The non-political, non-religious organization is opentomembershipforany male of Armenian descent in good standing in the community. "A lot of the single guys in the fratemity look forward to the public affairs for opportunities to meet other people, and a lot of dating has resulted from these meetings," said 29-year-old Badarian.'"There have been at least six marriages between members and sisters of fratemity members." A number of organizations exist for those seeking new friends, camaraderie and networking: Armenian student associations on college campuses, Bible study groups, and youth groups affiliated with political parties and cultural organizations. No matter what your interests and needs, there's a group out there for you. So getout your 1992 datebook, contact the ones that interest you, and have a happy new year.

Azniv Ketenchian ls a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and television production assistant

hen shereceivedacall from apriest

who was searching for a mate, Grace Nahigian knew that she had

correctly identified a critical need among Armenians worldwide. Single Armenians everywhere, caught up in the demands of daily life, have few opportunities to meet, and perhaps marry, other Armenians. A yearago, Nahigian, of Cleveland, Ohio,

decided to change the situation by starting the Armenian Connection, Inc., a service that helps match Armenians based on common interests, education and income levels, and age. At least two other agencies have already identified this need: Paris-based Hay

Gab and Hye Introductions in Glendale, Califomia. "Our members want to meet Armenians who share interests and value our culture," says Michael Keleshian, 25-yearold co-founder of Hye lntroductions. Most of the founders of these agencies have witnessed lrsthand the dilemma of single Armenians. Nahigian, a Philadelphia

native, wanted to help her two daughters meet other Armenians as they moved from city to city in pwsuit of education and jobs. Sonia Tchormissian, a 56-year-old grandmother, strrted Hay Gab in 1984 partly because she "was a little disappointed" when her son married a Frenchwoman. Alongside hermore costly marriage agency forFrench clients, Tchormissian arranges matches between single Armenians for a one-time fee of 3,000 francs per person, which can also be paid in installments. Most of her clients are in various professions and social backgrounds, between the ages of 20 and 40. Those over 50

pay less ( I ,500-2,000 francs) because there are fewer candidates in that age group. Tchormissian interviews her clients personally to determine the best possible partner. About 50 percent ofher more than 300 clients have succeeded in finding a partner for life, she says. Anoush and Richard met through Hay Gab; they got married a year ago. Anoush, who was bom in Turkey, met French-native Richard within a week after she had talked toTchormissian. Richard had registered with Hay Gab three months before the couple met.

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While Tchormissian serves French-Armenians, most of the clients of the fouremployee Hye Introductions live in California. Unlike Hay Gab, it relies on computers to match clients, who are asked to complete a 36-question application. Applicants can choose to identify themselves as athletic, intellectual, or a mixture of both. They can choose subjects which interestthem, including feminism, horoscopes, technology, Armenian causes and community affairs, and

current events in Armenia. The application was designed to take less than five minutes to complete. Dale Agajanian, aMontebello-bom engineer who started planning his own dating agency, Data Date, a year ago, believes a long questionnaire provides the best match.

"This is a lifetime commitment. To do it right, it's a very long process." With the assistance of apsychologistfriend, Agajanian

is developing a 300- to 5fi)-question form.

>

I f

The information from the application will be fed into acomputerwhichcanmore

closely match

couples. Agajanian is confident that the formulaforsuccess is to have faith in computers

rather than "coffee cups," and to invest some time in

For a $75 annual fee (starting January), his SOo-client agency promises a minimum of 10 dates. A less rigorous standard than Hay Gab is used to measure its success rate by tracking those who have been dating the same prson for more than a month; 45 percent of its clients fit this category. The company's goal is to increase this rate to 70 percent for clients who have been members for at least one year. Most members of Hye Introductions are between the ages of 20 and 50, the majority being women. Most clients have some form of post-secondary education and are employed in research science, the professions, the arts and business.

no

matter how elaborate and numerous-and interviews, no matter how ex-

ods such as attending banquets and going on blind dates. The agency saves him time because it eliminates the need for him to make

Keleshian of Hye lntro ductions took issue wittr the

longer questionnaire aPproach. Whether a relationship works or not depends on the "chemistry" between

a

matched couPle,

he says. "Questions,

of

try."

John (fictitious name) is an Egyptianbom Armenian who has been a member of Hye Introductions for three months. So far, the agency has arranged three dates for him, one of which may develop into a more serious relationship, he says. The 4O-year-old graphic artist says that meeting women through an agency is notmuch differentthan meeting them through "conventional" meth-

the process.

Daron Hagopian (standing) and Dale Agaianian, lounders the latest computerized matchmaking gervice, Data Date

tensive--cannot determine people's'chemistries.' Our members would like us to leave it to them to decide on the issue of chemis-

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initial contact with a potential partner. For Beirut-bom Tamar (fictitious name), dating agencies are the only way to meet serious, marriage-minded men. A 29-yeu-

children.

an

old medical assistantwho lives in Los Angeles, Tamar has tried to meet men by going to parties, but "(Armenian) young men don't speak with women at parties," she says. French-Armenians Anoush and Richard recommend that others also try a dating

agency. "It is difficult to meet the right person whose tastes correspond to yours. Through the agency, you can say what you looking for and things are easier from the beginning," Anoush says. The youngest ofthe dating agencies is the Armenian Connection, Inc. It has about 100 clients, split almost evenly between the east and west coasts-part of the reason why it is having difficulty in setting up dates. Members pay $75 annually, but are not guaranteed a minimum number of dates. Because most of its members have failed to meet a date, Nahigian decided to extend the membership of its firsryear clients by a year. "This is a relatively new organization and people have to be patient," she says. She hopes that the situation will improve if more people join. are

"We have some outstanding people

(as

members)," says Nahigian. Video producers, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, doctors and engineers have joined the service. Nahigian says they are all "Armenian types" who have good morals, live clean lives, and

Hye Introductions has also received many phonecalls, mostly tocongratulate the agency for the "terrific" service they are doing to the Armenian community. However, "some express concem over the morality of our service," Keleshian notes. This concem may be due to Armenians' unjustifiable association of dating with sex. Yet they have a tradition of introducing single friends and relatives to other singles, Keleshian adds. Tchormissian also agrees thatmorality is an issue. "There is

a sort of taboo around the agency. People want to be very discreet," she says. John, a Los Angeles resident for the past 17 years, says he is "comfortable" with the idea of being a member of a dating service. His brother knows about his membership. Yet he requested that Hye Introductions

closely guard his identity. John also observed this attitude in the community while dating women who had not even told their families that they were using a dating service. Tamar feels no shame in using the service. Her family knows she has been a memberforthe past six months andhas gone out with seven men. Her efforts have paid off. She is now seriously involved with a 35year-old. Beirut-bom Armenian. Only the families of Anoush and Richard in France know that the couple met through Tchormissian. Aside from the moral issues, the agencies face financial difficulties. "It's not easy to have an Armenian marriage agency," says Tchormissian, noting that a

don't use "dope." The Armenian Connection's difficulties also stem from the community's reservations about dating services. Some people consider the services immoral, all three agencies say. "A lot ofpeople are interested but they say this is against their basic upbringing," Nahigian states. She sends appli-

Armenian clients. Hye Introductions real-

cations to interested callers, but they do not retum them, or they call her but refuse to identify themselves. "We have to be patient.

izes that it can never hope for great economic gains, because there are "a limited number of Armenians in North America," according to

Armenians are conservative," Nahigian is quick to point out. When she first started her agency, Nahigian even received calls from parents asking her to find mates for their

Keleshian. The agency is satisfied with beto just cover its costs and pay its employees. The Armenian Connection is unable to

At least Angeles-based agenciesAragast and Hye Connections-have also ceased operation in the past two years. Tchormissian relies on her French marriage agency to maintain her services to Swss-based agency had shut down.

two other los

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accomplish even this. "We are not close to breaking even," Nahigian says, who spends her own money to finance her one-woman agency.

Despite the difficulties, Nahigian has updated her computers to process clients from outside the United States and to make inter-

national matches. This service will initiate pen-pal-type relations, which might develop into more serious relations, Nahigian says.

While some of the matchmakers are involved in the service forpersonal fulfillment, others perceive it as a way to prevent assimilation. "Every new Armenian couple formed is a battle won in the war against assimilation," remarks Keleshian. "It's for the sake of Armenians," Nahigian agrees. Tchormissian has a more balanced approach. She is involved in matchmaking because she enjoys introducing people to each other. When her Armenian clients are unable to find a match, she is willing to introduce them to a French client if they so indicate. Tchormassian is happy when old clients visit her with their new families. The efforts ofHye lnftoductions are also appreciated. Just recently, the agency receivedabottle offine wine from a member who was getting engaged to a woman he met through the agency. Taline Satamian is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles ; Armineh Johannes

from Paris

rcportd


cake was brought into the Square ofFreedom next to the opera house.

Once Bornr Ttnice Feted

Bells Have Double Jinglefor ArmenianYule ary

By KATHERINE CHILJAN

I t is always asked why Armenians celI ebrate Cirrisrmas on January 6 rather I tn* the universal December 25. The I date ot Cnnst s Dlnn nas not Deen

"*u"t neither was it recorded in the established,

Gospels, but it is a historical fact that all Christian churches celebrated Christ's birth on January 6 until the 4th Century. Roman Catholics explain the move from Jan. 6 to Dec.25 as necessary to encompass the already existing pagan custom of celebrating the birth of the Sun on the 25th. At that time, Christians werealso temptedtoparticipate

I

as

New Year's Day, Amanor, as the

was jointly celebrated with the Jan. 6 holiday of Christ's birth; the festivities are now called Gaghant. In the Holy Land, Armenians observe Christmas 12 days later than the traditional 6th, a date that adheres to the old Orthodox calendar. Observances start on the night of January 17 with an impressive procession that travels from Jerusalem to the square

frst festival of the New Year,

in

these pagan festivities; to undermine and subdue this practice, the church hierarchy declared Christ's birthday to be Dec. 25, and declared Jan. 6 the feast of Epiphany. Armenia was not affected by the change asit did not have any pagan practices to suppress, and the Armenian Church was not a satellite of Rome. Until the lSth Century, when Armenians

adopted the Westem calendar, Armenian New Year or Amanor was celebrated in Navasard (Old Indian "nava-sarata"), the first month of the Armenian calender, which corresponds today to August I l. During the first days of Navasard, Armenian celebrations included singing and dancing, theater performances, military games, hunting and sacrifices. After Armenians accepted Janu"Armenian Nativlty," Smithsonian lnstitution, Washington, D.C.

outside the Church of the Nativitiy in Bethlehem. Participants include religious leaders headed by the Patriarch and worshippers from Jerusalem's Armenian community, as well as pilgrims from all over the world. In Bethlehem, the procession is welcomed by dignitaries before it proceeds into the Church of the Nativity, singing hymns. By nightfall, Bethlehem is lit with floodlights, and Christmas music is played over loudspeakers in the square. Visitors attend midnight Mass, then gather with their families to exchange gifts. In modem times and in new lands, the pagan change still challenges the Armenian tradition. Since the Armenian Catholic Church was formed in the mid- I 8th Century,

many Armenians adopted December 25 as the Holy Day. All Armenians in Jordan celebrate Christmas on the 24th or 25th. Jordanian youth from the Watani Sporting Club and Homenetmen visit Armenian homes and sing carols.

In Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, non-Catholic Armenians do not mark the 25th as a special day; all celebrating and exchanges ofgifts occuron New Year's Eve, and the only Christmas is January 6, when people goto church and afterwards feast with their families. Members of Armenian organizations in Syria sing carols, give out Christmas cards and collect donations from various neighborhoods. hiests visit homes of parishioners, giving out blessings with holy bread and salts. Festivities also begin on New Year's Eve in the Armenian Republic. Families get together and tables are laid out in expectation of guests. Everyone has to visit all relatives

and friends, staning from midnight New Year's Day until January 13, which begins the New Year according to the old calendar. January 6 is Christmas, and the religious attend church services. As a consequence of communism, with its opposition to religion,

the public did not openly celebrate Christmas until the advent of perestroika. For the last few years, Christmas celebrations have begun on December 25, and continued until January 6. On Decem&r 25,1990, a huge

AlM, January 1992

Many Armenians all over the world eat fish for the January 6 Christmas meal. One explanation of this tradition is tied to the hisnak,when one abstains from eating meat for 50 days. After that period, it supposedly wouldpain the stomach toeat meat, sofish is eaten to "ready" the body for meat again. Some maintain the hisnak,butusually not as long as 50 days. Armenian churches in the United States

hold Christmas services on January 6, but services are also held on December 24, which is the feast ofSaint Stepanos, the flust Chris-

tian martyr. The service is followed by Christmas carols and sometimes pageants by Sunday school children. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the 24th is a special day for deacons, since St. Stepanos was a deacon. Deacons from all six churches are invited to the San Gregorio El Iluminador Cathedral, where lunch is served after services to all present.

Ghristmas at the beach "In South America, Christmas is in summertime, and many go on vacation;that's why wehave less people on ChristmasDay," saidRev. Vazken Stepanian, pastorofthe St. Gregory church.

Christmas time is also summertime in Australia; the traditional Christmas day lunch ofa roast dish is often replaced today by cold cuts and salad, which can be eaten at the beach and at parks across the land.

Armenian Apostolic churches in the

United States report big crowds on Armenian Christmas. Services are usually performed on the Sunday nearest January 6, and also commemorate the baptism of Christ. This is symbolized with the Blessing of the Water ceremony. Aboy carries the cross and dips it in water, which is then blessed. Holy oil is poured in and the water is taken home by parishioners in small paper cups.

Many immigrants to the United States adopt December 25 for celebrations, but most commemorate January 6 too. It is more

of a spiritual

observance,

in which many

family reunions. Arshaluys Darbinian, who was bom in

attend church and have

Armenia and now lives in Los Angeles, will take a bouquet offlowers to church on January 6, and is proud to maintain the tradition. "It is important. If we could do that back in Armenia when we were surrounded by communists, we can do it here, otherwise

we'll lose our Armenian heritage,"

she says.

"Wedon'thavetoomuch tocelebrateamong Armenians, if we don't do that, we'll lose ourselves one day." Many feel nothing is lost by celebrating the 25th, but believe observing Armenian Christmas on January 6th is an important tradition. Deacon Hratch Tchilinguirian and AIM correspondents contributed to this article


,

o o o

U'

c p 5 l o

o c J

P. p

a

Diver Arsen Diavadian

Wrestler Hovanes Ohanissian

Springboatdto Spain Two Emigrd Athletes Eye the Summer Olympbsfrom their Nau ByANIt IIAURER and KATIIERIilE CHILJAN leftthe Soviet Union bound for the Goodwill Games in Seattle, hen Arsen Djavadian

the 23-year-old diver realized he would be making his most difficult dive ever-a plunge into freedom. He and his coaches knew he had the potential to be a top-ranked diver, but being an Armenian in the Soviet Unionhad proved to be a liability. The Soviet system of select-

ing divers for intemational competitions favored Russian athletes, Djavadian said. On numerous occasions, he contends that the judges deliberately gave him low scores in orderto render him ineligible to represent the

u.s.s.R. Djavadian did all of his training forcompetitions inArmeniawithArmeniancoaches. Toqualify forthenational team,heneededto score at least an 8.5. Regardless ofhis showing, he said he always received less than the necessary score. Ofthe 14judges, only one

wasArmenian. The mostdevastatingblow came in 1988, at a competition to determine who would represent the Soviet Union at the Olympics in Seoul, Korea. Djavadian had flawlessly executed what he felt to be one of his best dives. Only the top two divers would travel to Seoul-Djavadian finished third.This was the catalyst which made him think about leaving the Soviet Union. Djavadian was born and raised in Armenia. He began diving in the fourth grade when a coach entered his classroom and

AlM, January 1992

Country

asked who wanted to be a diver. From then on, Djavadian began practicing four hours a day. In 1989, he won the bronze medal at the

WorldCup. The fact that Djavadian was an Armenian

did not help his chances for advancement. The fact that he was also an outspoken, protesting Armenian compounded the situa-

tion. He wasjailed twice in 1989 forparticipating in protests criticizing the Soviet govemment for its failure to unite Karabagh with

Armenia- His condemnation of the Kremlin authorities nearly cost him an indefinite period behind bars. After three weeks in jail in October that year, Djavadian was bailed out by an Armenian coach who convinced the authorities that he was needed by the Soviet

divingteam. The coach later told him that if he ever


joined the Armenian protestmovement again, the KGB would leave him to rot in jail.

At the Seattle games in 1990, Djavadian was helped to defect by a non-Soviet competitor who contacted Joe Farrell, a St. Ituis sports promoter. Farrell helped Djavadian to escape the athletes village on ttre University of Washingtonqlmpus. On August 3, 1990, Djavadian met for three hours with FBI agents, an

Immigration

and Naturalization Service representative and interpreters to finalize theplan and alleviate any doubts. The next day, assisted by Farrell, he took a plane to los Angeles. He has not looked back since.

Djavadian's decision to defect was not

without consequence. As ,soon as word reached the Soviet govemment, his father was fired from his position as a governrnent economist, and his brother was kicked out of the university. His family suspected there would be re-

percussions, but encouraged Djavadian to "hnd the right thing for you." Since then, the tension has eased and his family has been left alone. In the Soviet Union, Djavadian had completed two years of college, studying physical education. In Los Angeles, he was until recently the assistant coach at a local gym,

where he could train for local, regional, invitational and exhibition meets under coach

DennisTaylor. His specialty is platform diving, and he feels his technique will be strong enough for

competition in the United States. "I don't need to change anything," said Djavadian.

"I've been diving for l7 years. All I need is practice." He is more concemed now with getting his papers than with diving. Presently, his application for political asylum is being reviewed. If it is denied, he will have to follow a lengthy appeals process. In the meantime, Djavadian is waiting for the chance to fulfill his lifetime dream of diving in the Olympics in Barcelona this summer.

"Imissed one, Idon't wanttomiss again," I want to

It was a stroke of luck for the Nebraska team to acquire a potentially world-class wrestler, one trained in a counbry where

restler Hovanes Ohanissian

for wrestlers. After soccer, wrestling is the most popular sport in the Caucasus-"In

Djavadian's situation. "In Moscow, it's hard to be Armenian; in Armenia it's OK, but when you leave, you're like a 'white bird,' like a

Russia, it's very popular, but not in Moscow, because it's a big city," said Ohanissian. That has changed since the failed Krem-

'Jew,"'he noted in a thick Russian

accent. Armenians sometimes do betterbecause they work harder, and [Russians] are sort ofjealous, he added. "My brotherhad a very hard time on his team, it's nothing there to win. You have to be a friend to everybody, so if you're not a

heard that the tank Yeltsin was riding in was

friend to your coach, and you've won the

wrestler by American standards because he participated in professional competitions in the Soviet Union, where college-level wrestling does not exist. '"The college style is totally different for me: they won't let me lock hands when I'm on top and my opponent is on bottom, and I got used to this for l0 years." Ohanissian became excited abut wrcstling after watching his olderbrother, Sanasar, who won a gold medal during the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. Olympic gold is also on the youngerwrestler'smind, in the

he said. "That's my biggest goal. dive there."

sheer numbers provide greater competition

sympathizes with

nationals, you have a chance not to go to the

Olympics, because he doesn't like you as a person. It's by farnot ademocracy." But Ohanissian also represents an example of the loosening process that was occurring in the SovietUnion.It wasn'tlong agothat if youleft, there was noturningback; but by the time he made his "visit" abroad, leaving was not necessarily a career risk. So far, it has not affected his family back home.

"It's not like old times now. I have a chance tocomeback. There is morefreedom now, so they can't hold you you're a

if

wrestler, a scientist-you have a choice. There are many offers from foreign officials,"he said. The son of an Armenian-born engineer, 20-year-old Ohanissian was a top Soviet wrestler before he decided to visit America. "I just came to see because everyone wants to see, and it was a little bit easier to go to the United States," he said. But obtaining tickets to America proved difficult, so he bought a ticket to Mexico instead. From there, he took a bus to Los Angeles, where he looked up afriend of the

family. Moscow-bom Ohanissian insists that he did not defect. He had no plans to wrestle in the United States orto attend college when he arrived in March 1990. He lived with the Ohanesians of Montebello, Califomia, for one month, and liked the lifestyle. With his prestige in wrestling, and the fact that he had completed two years of college-level pharmacy studies in Moscow, the idea of a university scholarship came up. "I didn't know there were scholarships

available to wrestlers," said the six-foot, 19O-pound Ohanissian.

Mr. Ohanesian made a few telePhone calls, and word got out that a Soviet wrestler was looking for a scholarship. After changing his tourist visa to a student visa, and translating his transcripts-no small featOhanissian is now a junior at the University of Nebraska and the first Soviet ever to wrestle in the American National College Athletics Association (NCAA). Djavadian coaches a hoPeful diver

AlM, January 1992

lin coup; Ohanissian said his brother

had

probably capored by wrestlers. "IheardthatilreMoscow wrestlershelped the democracy powers--{emocracy's soldiers. They didn'thave any army-who else can capture atank?"

Ohanissian

is considered a powerful

1992 summer competition. He may very well have the chance to compete either as an Armenian or a Russian, now that the term Soviet Union is obsolete. "IfI feel I am good enough for the Soviets, I'll go back just to wrestle and see if I could qualify for a team. It's not very easyit's not on ajunior level, but on open levels," he said.

Fortunately, the wrestling season ends in

March, so Olympic competition will not conflict either with Ohanissian's academic or athletic schedule. It may not be so easy for his new wife, Sveta. She followed him to the United States after he decided to stay, and they married. "She'll probably go back now because she has hnals in Moscow, and we can't afford for her to attend school here. She'll be expelled from her university if she doesn't go back," he said.

They both would like to stay in America, and evenrually become citizens. He expects to complete his degree in two years and would like to be apharmacist, but he thinks he may have difficulty being accepted as a non-resident. Fornow, that is too farinto the future. He has toconcentrateon studying and practichg five days a week-a workout that includes weight-training alongside the school's football players.

He is also leaming how to adaPt to an American vice---the television set. "TV takes a big part of your life. I'm thinking not to haveone." Ann llaurer, aswciate editor ot tttp Armqian tlinor' Spedator in Los Angeles, is a ftqtrcnt witer to AIH


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Until the TWain Shall Meet ARMENIAAND KARABAGH: THESTRUGGLE FORUNITY Edited by Christopher I .Walker Minoriry Rights Group, london I 99 l, I 62 page s ( available from Paul & C ompany, N ew Y ork) $ I 7.9 5 paperbound, $49.95 clothbound.

By

ilABK IIALKASIAN

SpeclalloAll

on't be fooled by the typograPhY

on the cover of Armenia and Karabagh: the Strugglefor Uniry.

Although the word "Armenia" stands like a pillar in muscular bold lettering and "Karabagh" appears atthe bottom ofthe page as though it were a lonely footnote, the

-

book has much more to say about the latter than the former.

Armenia and Karabaghisinfact a somewhat ill-fitting splice of two distinct works. The first seven chapters are drawn from the Minority Rights Group's 1976 report on the Armenians, and serve as a high-speed introduction to 3,000 years of Armenian history. Chapters 8-14 shift gears, examining the significance of Karabagh to the Armenian people with excerptsfrom Le Karabagh : U ne Terr e Armenie nne en Azerbaidialn, authored by historians Patrick Donabedian and Claude

Mutafianin 1988. The book's tone is inseparable from the purposeof the Minority Rights Group. Since 1970, it has published more than 90 titles on minority communities suffering persecution, ranging from the Maori of New Zealand to the Jehovah's Witnesses of Central Africa. The reports are well-researched and informative, but the writing style is plainly meant to promote compassion and concem rather than dispassionate scholarship. In that respect, Armenia and Karabagh is appropri-

ately edited by Christopher J. Walker. A

freelance British writer and researcher, Walker is best known in Armenian circles as authorof one of the most highly readable accounts of modern Armenian history, Armenia: The Sumival of aNation. (A revised edition of the book was published in 1990 with substantial additions on Karabagh.) In what occasionally seems like a finger-poinr ing crusade, Walker makes no apologies for the

his efforts to illustrate the tribulations of Armenians over the past cenfury and expose hypocrisy of the West in the process. "I am a political animal," Walker said in a

the

1982 interview onArmenia: The Survival of A Nation."l wanted to put it across so people would not get bored before they reached the bottom of the page. Why bother to put forth theTurkish pointofview when you can get it

in your local library? But I didn't write this 46

with the intention of being pro-Armenian. I just wanted to be fair." As with many scholars of Armenian history, Walkerenteredthe field largely through the Armenian Genocide. The result is that the first seven chapters ofthe book, co-authored by Walker and another British specialist on Armenian history, the late David Marshall l,ang, are framed around the brutality of Turkish policies in the 20th Century. Much ofthe language dates from the l9T6Minority Rights Group report and now seems oddly out of sync with the theme of the Karabagh Movement and recent feelers by Armenia's

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Karabagh's history from ancient times until the Karabagh Movement. The chapters by Donabedian and Mutafian on the political history of the region, from the Russian conquest of 1805 to the establishment of the Nagomo-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within Azerbaijan in 1923, are particularly useful. Indeed, the parallels between l9l8-

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but one of national survival. Although the authors do not disguise their sympathies, in the suffering of Mountainous Karabagh, citing in particular Boris Kevorkov, the region's former communist party boss, and servile leaders in posrStalinist Armenia. Readers cannothelp butcome away with the impression that Armenians have much to learn from the past. Walker correctly notes that for decades after the Genocide, "Armenians themselves put forward no serious, reasoned and accurate account of their sufferings and claims, using valid sources." Armenia and Karabagh

confirms that the silence has been brokenArmenian scholars such as Donabedian and

Mutafian are more than capable of presenting their people's case-not necessarily on the Genocide as Walker may wish-but on matters that nonetheless affect the viability of the newly independent Armenian repub-

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The MightyPen C artoonist S ketc he s P olitic al

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By DIKRAN TOSBATH Special lo AIM

sa

teenager

in

1920, Diran

Ajemian became the official cartoonist of Gavrosy'l, a newspaper

in Istanbul. After two decades, Allied official publications were regularly publishing his work. Free France and the

Later he contributed to the most respected joumals in Lebanon-theatrical and picturesque realizations that would make Diran one of the most important figures in the Lebanese and diasporan public and artistic life. Above all, Diran was a first-rate cartoonist like Saroukhan, Kiraz and Chick Damadian. A unique illustrator and an innovator of the Armenian alphabet, he helped conserve itsnobility with atouch of modemtsm.

As a youth, Diran had a passion for the stage. He assisted many a theatrical troupe. Later, he ffanslated and directed French plays

for the Association des Amis de l'Art in Beirut. For the Haig Club, he staged a

was asSured. His sketches

of

theNapoleonic wars are notonly a strong testimony of his imagination, but also of his technique and analytical vision. He would explain his

theories in presentations given at the C6nacle Libanais, Club du Faubourg, Hamazkayin and the Haig Club. His audience would follow his creations on a daily basis in Beirut joumals and magazines,

Diran Ajemian in a moment of utter horror as he first witnessed the total annihilation of his drawings in a fire that gutted his

Beirut studio during the civil war. "This

photo is the story ofthe Lebanesetragedy," the artist has later remarked. memorableAc teur Kean in the Gide-Banaut

version. Beyond translation, Ajemian was an exceptional director, decorator and actor. From the start. Diran's place as a cartoonist

whether they were in French, Arabic or Armenian. He was their contributor of choice. With his keen sarcasm, he skewed characters from a veritable Who's Who of [ntemational Politics. From l94l to 1947 Ajemian's satirical sketches appeared in the Lebanese and Free France publications that caught the attention of the Allied Commanders in Europe during World War II. Diran's linear touches, without overburdening embellishments or interpretative bubbles, would create the character and atmosphere of the stories. Diranhadakeen sense ofobservation. He knew how tocapture facial ticks, andgamish his victims' characteristics with a cigar, cigarette smoke, a flower on the buttonhole, a bead, a cane-here a fighting tarboush, there aCyranonose. NothingwouldescapeDiran's

AlM, January 1992

sight. Diran's caricatures distinguished themselves with their simplicity, eschewing symbolism or esoterism. They were roars of reality. If one had any misgivings toward this or that person from the political scene, Diran dissipated them with afew sketches. Last November, after a long and painful

illness, the inimitable caricaturist passed away. One of his favorite stories occurred in 1978 during the opening day of an exhibition. "In Vasburagan Hall in Beirut a lady asked me as to how many exhibitions I have given: jokingly I answdred. 'for 40 years continually everyday in 20 newspapers'." Dikran Tosbath is a journalist and political analyst who has lounded, ed ited and written

lora numberof newspapers in Lebanon. He now lives in Canoga Park, Calif.

47


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Notesfrom the Underground By MABC NICHANIAN PABIS

ouben Hakhvertian is

a

singer who

writes his own songs, in the language of his native country. He might be considered an Armenian Jacques Brel or Bob Dylan. But his style of singing, his popularity, his political and especially humanitarian commitment bring him closer tocertain Russian songwriters like Vissotsky

and Okujava or

to the German Wolf

Biermann. Like them, he is an unofficial singer, an "undesirable" who speaks of his own and his country's fate, and in doing so utters truths that are everyone's cofilmon property. For years, Rouben sang for a small circle of friends in Armenia.In time, his popularity soared, and eventually the Diaspora came to know ofhim as well. He was notpermittedto record in

a

studio, buthomemade tapes began

to circulate, passing from Yerevan to San Francisco, from San Francisco to Paris. In Armenia, tapes of his music pass from hand to hand, or people leam his songs from one another. While working as a director for the television studios in Yerevan, Rouben gave Armenia its first taste of the musical. He had composed the songs himself. Years later, people still remember his first original stage production,Satan' sWatermill, andthe songs he wrote for it. They remember, too, that he was to pay a high price for these early successes-foryears, he would beblacklisted in

Armenia, both as

a director and as a

songwriter.

Rouben's songs could not remain untouched by the realities ofhis coun[ry. They could not ignore the deaths of the grandfathers and the laments of the grandmothers: too many childhoods were spent entirely in the shadow of their suffering. As with Vissotsky orBiermann, one hears in his songs a profound indignation, the pain of lives wasted, hatred of the Soviet social order, natural revulsion in the face ofthe lies that destroy life. But it is rare that that revulsion and indignation take a purely political cast. To be sure, there are some songs in which they do, very powerful songs which were a comfort to his friends and made his enemies gnash theirteeth inrage. "TheDogs," for example: "I know who the masters arefl

know whose hand feeds these dogs..." Or "The Ox:" "Forget all their sermonsflheir sermons have filled their stomachs, and made

imbeciles of you/Forget all their prayers/ Believe in yourself." Or "The Zoo:" "How

many unsung songs there are in the sealed cages..." At bottom, Rouben's indignation is not merely political, but profoundly human as well--{irected against all regimes, all orders, all resrictions, against everything that forces people to fawn and crawl. The songs composed in this anarchistic vein are among his most beauti-

ful. It is here that his healthy

nization Equilibre. The cassette contains l6 songs: three ofthem new versions ofsongs included on the record, and the rest never before released. Yet, these 13 songs are hardly unknown here. In 1987, Rouben gave a number of concerts in Paris. For many who heard him for the first time, the concerts were a revela-

tion. Since then, countless French-Armenians have been in love with the performer andhis music. It was a surprise, a miracle to hear a voice that could move and trouble the human con-

p

pessimism comes to the fore, E that illusions are shaken off and all manner of constraints and .E

i

bondsrefused.

E

The essence of frh art ana S o character is the aspiration to freedom. Armenia's writers no longer represented a danger to the Soviet regime, but a singer with direct, spontaneous com-

munication, an independent

artist in a position to establish a relationship with the masses free ofall interference, could not be tolerated by the system. Foralong time, Rouben was forbidden to sing publicly in his

country. Both blatant methods-for many years, he was not allowed to produce

vision-and tactful

fortele-

methods were brought to bear on his career as a singer and songwriter. "Even today, the singersongwriter does not enjoy a fu lly guaranteed legal status," stated

an article on Rouben recently published in Armenia. "Even today, our talented songwriters are like the members of a guild leading a semi-underground existence." There still is no "free mar-

ket" in Armenia. In that respect as in many others, nothing has

changed yet. At bottom, the country is still laboring under

awaiting medical operation

the old yoke. Thus, it is pointless to invite Rouben to adaptto marketconditions. There is a sense of modesty which grows out of his faithfulness to his art. He is no-t likely to

trade it in for the grand theatrical style or

for

inflated nationalistic rhetoric. Rouben's profound nationalism resides in his conscientiousness vis-i-vis his language. Indeed, he has probably given us the most beautiful songs ever written in Armenian. InParis afew years ago, Rouben released his fust record, "Songs ofl,ove and Hope." Last March he brought out a cassette, produced, like the record, in France, thanks this time to the efforts of the philanthropic orga-

AlM, January 1992

science-singinginArmenian. Itwasabright

voice singing out against lies and with no concessions tothe official yay-sayers, a voice which sang "with the first day's innocence," as Albert Camus put it. Giving voice to that primal innocence in ourlanguage, Rouben Hakhvertian gave back

to his nation the self-respect ofan independentcount4r.

Marc Nichanian, a former l*turer on philogophy, has written ertensively on Anne. nian literaturc, and was editoi ol Gam, a jwmal otanalysis and critique on Armenian

literaturc

49


'YouGan Kiss HerNowAnd Leave!" By Rev. Fr. VARTAN KASPARIAN he first indication I had that something could go wrong at a wedding occurred in the late 1950s when, as a teenager, I

was the organist at the then-"new" St. James Armenian Church on West Adams Boulevard, [,os Angeles. Each aspect of the majestic wedding service of the Armenian church had be-en conducted just as it should be. When the final blessing had been given, I began toplay the recessional, full organ. Normally during this t-ime, the Uride and groom, the new king and queen of a new Christian home, embrace and then exit the church. I played through the recessional oncE; no one moved. Halfway throughihe second rendition, the bride was nervously trying to get the groom's attention, to no avail. He stood there statue-like, his glassy gaze transfixed on the altar directly in front of him. The recessional ias started for the third time. Finally, in desperation, the soloist

rushedupto the groom,quickly pulledonhis sleeve several times and said loudly enough for most of us to hear: "You can kiss her now and leave!" As though awakened from ahypnotic state,

very nervous and unsure groom clumsily planted aquick kiss on his bride's cheek, took her hand, and practically ran down the aisle with her. The humor of the moment was not lost on the congregation. the

M

fault do not become angry with your wife, for you should know that the woman is weak by nature and is lacking in wisdom. For this reason she deserves to be forgiven." Quite possibly her supposed lack of wisdom is proven by her willingness to-marry this pariicular gentleman. At any rate, please don' t send any SOS' s to the National Organization of Women! The next step is to begin the preparation for marriage. I have always believed that an important part of this preparation is premarital counseling. Perhaps this is because when my wife and I were married in 1972, our "counseling" consisted of sitting down with the

priest to review our financial obligations to the local parish and^ ieceive a quick run{hrough of the wedding service, all in the space of 45 minutes. I try to meet with each couple at least four times' We discuss such questions as: Why do you want to get manied? Why do you want to

marry this particular individual? What are your expectations from life and from tlis marriage? What is your contribution to this marriage? At some point, a rather comprehensive written survey is given to,the couple which they complete separately. I review the results and then aI three of us meet together for a follow-up. The survey invites the couple to deal with such topics as compatibility, finances' children, inlaws, working spouses, the role of the Church in their lives, various spiritual concems, and views of themselves and each other. The manifest purpose of this process is to try and prepare the couple for marriage by making them aware of the nature of marriage and alerting them io some of the problem areas, on the assumption that forewamed is forearmed. 50

During the closing moments of the last pre-marital counseling session with one particular couple whose impending marriage was not a source ofjoy to eitherof the families involved,I asked: "Do you now feel that you are ready formarriage?" Without hesitation, the prospective bridegroom, sitting tall and

proud in his chair, said: "O, yes, Der Hayr. Wglre ready. All the^ arrangements for the reception have been made' We've taken care of the band, the caterers, the florist, and everything. Tomorrow we're going to order the invitations. Yes, we're ready!" - ttre young man and his fianc6e were obviously ready for the wedding day, but certainly not for marriage. In aparish where I hadbeen servingforabout 15 years, there was a bride whoclearly viewedthe weddingday andthe service as akindof God-given opportunity to display her shapely body' and her accordingly designed wedding dress. As she began to march down the center aisle ofthe church' one could see, hear and feel the reaction of the assembled congregation. The dress looked as if ithadbeen molded tothe bride's body. When she was about halfway to the chancel, my assistant for the service, a Stole-bearer in his early 20s, looked at her, then looked at me, arched his eyebrows, rolled his eyes, and said in a loud whisper: "Der Hayr, have you ever seen anything like that?" Obviously, the main interest was neither theological nor spiri-

-

tual, either for the bride or the bulk of the congregation. It was the one and only time that I have ever seen a bride slink down the aisle

rather than walk. To this day

I

still don't

understand how she was able to sit down at the

reception!

My all-time favorites are two character types which can normally be found in any wedding. The first is the individual-male or female-who takes every opportunity to let all the church personnel.know that he is a person of means and has been involved in weddings that make the ceremony of Prince Charles and Princess Di look like an amateur production by comparison. This individual wants the world, or at ieast church personnel, to know that he is used to getting his way on

everything. The second is the character who feels it is up to him/her to say something aboutevery aspect of the service. This is the one who feels thathis roledemandsthekindof involvementthatwould benecessary to conduct the simultaneous filming of Cecil B. De Mille's The Ten Commandmenrs and the allied invasion of Dunkirk during World War II, all on the same site. Aside from endearing themselves to the parish priest, the soloist, the wedding director, the organist,and the churctrsecretary, they serve as a source ofquitc obvious embarrassment for the bride and groom, whose special day it is. To be sure, marriage is a serious endeavor, requiring knowledge, commitment, and a love which ultimately comes from Almighty God Himself. Though there are humorous aspects to every wedding, when all is said and done, the couple embarking on this greatest of life's joumeys needs our most sincere prayers. "May God be in the midst of ihese and may they not be shaken. May God help these from mom to mom always." Rev. Fr. Vartan Kasparian was until recently parish priest at St. Peter's Armenian Church in Van Nuys, California, and now lives in Visalia, California.

AlM, January 1992


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The Hot Spot - January 1992  

Armenian International Magazine | The Hot Spot - January 1992

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