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argo Service to and from




4 Editor's Note 5 Letters to the Editor 6 Notebook 7 Bytes on File 8 Focus 41 Faces 43 Other People's Mail 44 Underexposed 46 Essay ARMENIAN SURVEY

14 Cover Story Who will become the next president? Meet the candidates, find out what they hope to accomplish if elected, and learn about the powerplays among the dozen hopefuls.

24 Telethons and Lotteries From the streets to the cafes,

old and young wade through a sea

of campaign promises.

It was lights, camera, and a telethon to help the homeland. Plus, how a new international lottery will benefit Karabakh.


The Children of Karabakh A photo essay by French-Armenian Antoine Agoudjian


volumes about the children's everyday lives.


i&& Will the legacy of the trinity prevail with the A.R.F.'s return to Armenia's political spectrum.




The Last Priest Before the Border

What would motivate an aging typewriter salesman to build an Armenian church in a remote corner of Africa? Father Mkhitar of Khor Virab is redefining the priesthood.

DESTINATIONS 36 Caving at Vayots Dzor Explore volcanic thermal springs, unique rock formations and

caves- among the best ones in Europe; this month's AIM destination is only an hour's drive from Yerevan.




A fresh and gripping new novel about a woman tossed from the homeland after the great catastrophe.

ln the City of Angels, teens in the thralls of gang-banging find their own guardian angels.

34 Outsiders

Looking ln

A Russian, a Pole and an American write about Armenians. A RTS


The Reel World

Up close and personal with French filmmaker Robert Cuediguian. COVER PHOTO BY MKHITAR KHACHATRIAN; COVER DESICN BY SOUARE ONE.

AIM(SSN1050-3471),March1998,Vol.9,No.3 ispublishedmonthly,$45peryea(byTheFourthMillenniumSociety,2oT

Su ite 203, Clendale, CA 91 204; Phone: (8'1 8) 245- 7979, (ax: (81 8) 246'ctr'88. Periodicals Poshge paid at clendale, CA and additional mailint offrces. Canada Post Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 0516457. @ Copyight 1998 by The Fourth Millennium Society. All rights reserved. AIM may not be reproduced in any mannei either in whole or in part, without written pemtssion from the publisher The editors are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or art unless a rtamped. self-addressed envelope is enclosed. Opinions expressed in sitned articles do not necessarily represent the viewsofTheFourthMillenniumSociety. Foradvertisintqueriescalll-818-246-T9T9.Subscriptionratesforl2issues,US:$45, Foreign:$55.Postmasters:Sendaddresschangesto AlM,PO.Box3296,ManhattanBeach,CA90265,U.S.A.

South Brand Bou levard,

Pinocchio had Cepetto; Tbilisi's Hago and Yeghso have the puppet maker of Havlabar.


1998 Alrl

Founded in '1990


The Right People, The Right Attitude

Armenian lnternational Magazine 2O7 South Brand BIvd. Suite 2O3

Glendale, CA 91204, USA alB 246 7979 Fax 818 246 0088 E-mail:


Herb Kelleher, the president of Southwest Airlines, a small US regional carrier that made it big, has this advice for finding personnel: hire for attitude and train for skills. In our case, AM is fortunate that both essential attributes come together in our new Managing Editor, Paul Chaderjian. By his presence, he has increased the size of AIM's editorial staff by 100 percent. His tasks are daunting: to increase coverage of Diasporan stories, while working to make AIM's material more accessible and more relevant to our readers. Paul is a graduate of USC, where he studied cinema-television production and journalism; and with his work experience as a television news reporter, newscast producer, managing editor of a newsradio operation, and as a screenwriter, he has ample skills. Perhaps more important are his enthusiasm for the job and its responsibilities, his vision of the magazine's great potential in a media-driven world, and his belief in the role of information for a healthy and aware Diaspora. He leaves the corporate world of broadcast news to work for a publication where one individual can leave his mark. Paul brings the number of our permanent full-time staff to four. Dania Ohanian,


Karine Avedissian, Sonig Krikorian YEREVAT{ SUREAU COORDINATOR Cohar Sahakian DESIGN AND PRODUCTION Vahan Stepanian

the administrative director, is the drill sergeant, ensuring structure and discipline.


Seta Khodanian

Parik Nazarian is more than production and photo manager. She is the magazine's con-


on the lookout for stories about the downtrodden, helpless and forgotten people and issues in our lives. In


Raffi Ohanian, Meline Ounjian

science, always

addition, Seta Khodanian handily manages

subscription fulfillment on

a part-time

basis. Except

Moorad Mooradian, Washin$on, DC; Vartan Matiossian, Buenos Aires.

ofcourse our contributors, who

we will be introducing on a regular basis in this column; it is important for our readers

to come to know the writers and photographers who fill our pages and minds. It is just as important for all of us to


Paul Chaderjian being introduced by Salpi to a sroup ol AIM trustees


come to know our readers. A survey

and mailed to all


CONTRIBUTORS Artashes Emin, Yerevan; Susan Pattie, London; Ara Chouljian, John Hughes, Hrag Varjabedian, Los Angeles; Janet Samuelian, Palm Springs; Mark

Malkasian, Rhode lsland; George Bournoutian, Lola Koundak ian, New York;

And that's all of us. I !

Sylva Dakessian, Sarkis Shmavonian, Ronald Grigor Suny, ,ivan Tabibian, Hratch Tchilingirian, Taline Voskeritchian


in May. In

be the

past, we have asked our readers for finan-

PHOTOGRAPHERS Mkhitar Khachatrian, Zaven Khachikian, Rouben Mangasarian, Yerevan; Aline Manoukian, Armineh Johannes, Paris; Edmond Terakopian, London;

(arine Armen, Kevork Djansezian, Raffi Ekmekji,

Eric Nazarian, Los Angeles;

Garo Lachinian, Maryland; Ardem Aslanian, New.lersey; Harry Koundakjian, New Yorki Berge Ara Zobian. Rhode hland.


cial support; we continue to do so. At the same time, however, we will be ask-

ing you for input, thoughts and ideas for taking AIM and Armenians into the next millennium-the fourth millennium of Armenian history.


ARGENTINA: Colegio Mekhitaista, Viney del Pino 3511 (1420 Buens Aires, Phone 541 5523690 I CANADA: RamigHakinian,5695HendBourdsaWert,Moitreal,PQ,H4R2E1,Phone5143392517

/UNlTtD AMB EMIMIES: Sebouh Armenadan, PO. Box 3000, Sharjah, UAt, Phone 971 5131 3611 Culizar lonia., PO. Box 44554, Abu Dhabi, UAt, Phone 971 2715721,Fd971 2775 191 / UNTIED KINGDOM: Misak Ohanian, 105A Mill Hill Road, Acton, London W38lF, Phone 081 992 4521 TTALY Piere Ealanian, Via,51 A4l5, Rome, Phone 995 1235 / HONC KONC: Jacl Maxian, RM. A2, 11/l Block A,26 Kai Cheunt Rd., Kowl@n Bay, Kowloon, Phone 852 795 9888 / AUSTMLTA: Varooj lskenderian, 148 Kmla Ave. [d Killila NSW 2071 Phone 02.9251 2882; Alfred Markarian, PO. Box 170, Harns Part NSW 2150, Phone 029897 1845; Vahe (ateb P0. gox 250, Port Mdboume, Victoria 3207. Phone 03 9794



We welcome all communicatlon. Although we read all letters and submissions, we are unable to acknowledge everything we receive due to limited staffing and resources. Letters to the Editor may be edited for publication.

work comes after that. In my business, we see thousands of pictures every week. There are the dynamic action sports shots, artistic scenes, beautiful cars, gorgeous women, a rough goalie. We love the variety, and we use what we can. Then the rest, we

file away.

Every now and then, there's one we

can't throw away. Last week, we ran a picture of a six-year-old boy and his seven-year-old sister in Algeria; they were weeping in sorrow, because their parents had been massacred the night before. A woman from Philadelphia tracked me down [at the Associate Press

New York bureaul to find out who the



Photojournalism is a funny business.

Photographers snap the shutter, the diaphragm opens and closes, and its speed captures the image.

For me, the photo editor, the real

children were and if she could help them. There was no way to identify the photographer, so I placed a conference call to our Paris bureau. The photo editor there said it was too dangerous for us at the photo agency to identify the photographer; the children could not be brought to the US for adop-

tion, anyway, he said. "I am sorry to be so

blunt about this situation," he continued,

"but you

see, Madame, those children were massacred the day after the photo was taken. That is how life is in Algeria these days," he said. The woman on the telephone hung up; I could not stop my tears. Our caption on the photo read 'Murdered in Cold Blood.' There was another photo the next day; this one was called 'Kurds Rescued from Turks.' The picture was of an Italian civil protection volunteer helping some Kurdish children, refugees from Turkey, on board a crewless ship which had drifr ed in the Mediterranean until it was rescued by the Italian Coast Guard.

With these images crowding the photo desk, it's impossible to forget that we were taken for a ride, too, and left abandoned.

Harry Koundakjian New York, New York

'Kurds Rescued from Turks' on the left, and 'Murdered in Cold Blood' on the right.



WHERE YOU'LL FIND IT: http: / / www.100an 00anniversary-home. htm

WHAT YOU'LL FIND: Detailed description of centennial celebrations in the US, official messages of the Primate of the Church, press releases, archives including historical documents and images, a calendar of upcoming events and a directory of the Diocese. UPSIDE: Excellent organization of a web page, valuable source of information, and a good Java script at the beginning highlights

upcoming events. DOWNSIDET

NAME: Centennial Celebration 1898- 1998 Diocese of the Armenian Church of America

A better color

scheme would enhance a surfer's first impres-


by Ara Chouldjian

The Poetess with the Silver Tontue

j ! j 3 !

'Even if you should forget your mother, never forget your mother tongue.' These were her words of caution to generations of children in Armenian schools around the

movement, Kaputikian was in front of th microphone, mixing politics with emotion and calling on the public to put nationalisn


After being on the receiving end o many unfulfilled promises from the last o the soviet leaders, she lost some credibilit, with the Armenian public and retreated fron public life. As opposition to former presi dent Ter Petrossian's regime mounted ove

Silva Kaputikian, 70, was Armenia's (and the Diaspora's) unofficial poet laureare

dmost from the time she began publishing poetry in the late 40s. Her way with words didn't stop with poetry; on her various trips to the Diaspora in the Soviet days, she blasted Diasporan organizations and parties which did not support the Soviet regime. From the beginning of the Karabakh


the years, she again became a visible symbo

of opposition. Today, she divides her time betweet Moscow and Yerevan.

Charles Aznavour Armenia's Ambassador-at-Large, international superstar Charles Aznavour, continues his humanitarian efforts to help the children of the homeland through his organization called Aznavour pour l_Armenie (AlM Cover Story, August '1993). The 75-year-old glowed on stage, once again, for yet another charity concert in January. His new goal is to raise 35 million francs with which his organization will renovate schools and orphanages. The concert raised over six million francs (91 million), and the proceeds were doubled thanks to a matching grant from the Banque Mondiale. ln attendance were Armenian and French presidents Levon Ter petrossian and Jacques Chirac, Catholicos Karekin l, as well as dozens of French and Armenian officials and dignitaries.




March 1998

z s o o a

bytu on tile Number of years since Armenian chemist Kristapor Ter Serobian discovered the green ink for US dollar bills: 155 Number of Armenians from Turkey who participated in the US Civil War and fought

for the North: 3O Number of Armenian surgeons from Turkey who served in Philadelphia during the Civil War: 3

: Minsk Group co-chairmen (left to right) Yuri Yugalov of Russia, Georges Vogier of France, Lynn Pascoe of the US.

Some Anniversary! Six years ago this month, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) created the Minsk Group-nine countries, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, entrusted with finding a formula that would bring the sides in the Karabakh conflict to a conference in Minsk, Belarus. The issues relating to Karabakh's final status would be decided there; but no one could have predicted, then, how this mandate would have affected Armenia's internal and foreign politics. The OSCE was formed originally in 1975 as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe; its goal was to promote greater East-West cooperation following the Helsinki Final Act. The group suffered for many years from Cold War divisions which dominated global politics, but it received a new lease on life at a grand summit in Paris in November 1990. At the time, there was a rush of optimism following Mikhail Gorbachev's promotion of the "common European home" theme, and the Cold War was beginning to thaw.

The group transformed itself into the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at the Budapest summit in 1994, and it expanded its range of activities as the principal forum for resolving issues affecting the continent. In some ways, the reborn body attests to the willingness of countries which once sat on either side of a threatening divide to bury their differences as members of a common European family; Gorbachev's legacy, in that respect at least, lives on. Unfortunately, so does Stalin's. As the protracted efforts at mediation of the Karabakh dispute attest, the OSCE, which proceeds by consensus, has found it hard to resolve some of the knottier problems of the post-Cold War era. Today, the Minsk Group finds itself at a sklemate. The representatives (above) of the three co-chairs-Russia, the US and France-have been unable during this last one-and-a-half years to

bring the sides any closer to a negotiated settlement. In fact, many say it was the OSCE's uneven, one-sided pressure on an accommodating Armenia which brought down President Levon Ter Petrossian in early February. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh are waiting to see what new proposals the Minsk Group co-chairs may have up their sleeves once Armenia's elections are over.

Among most popular books being sold in Yerevan today, the rank of legal books explaining criminal law:

3 (following religious titles and technical books) Number of days of penitence and fasting on the Armenian ecclesiastical calendar: 120 Number of saints' days on the same calendar:

119 ln 1904, the number of churches and monasteries in Eastern Armenia: 1,282 ln 1904, the number of churches and monasteries in Karabakh:


Number of Armenians still living in the seven villages of Musa Dagh in 1939:365 Number of Armenians still living in Musa Dagh in 1987:222 Number of Armenian schools in France: 5 Total number of students in French-Armenian schools: 770 Total number of Armenians in France: 300,000

Amount in dollar equivalence allocated by the lstanbul Chamber of Commerce to renovate the 1Oth century Armenian church of Aghtamar in Lake Van, Eastern Turkey: 484,OOO France

Armenie, Hantch, Remembrance and Hope, Aravot, Lraber, Marmara


1998 A Llrl


Back from trxile The Armenian Revolutionary Federation- Dashnaktsutiun (ARF) resumed its activities in officially " Armenia on February 9th after i t was banished three years ago. The decision for its reinsiatemenl came from the Justice Ministry on the same d.y Hrand Markarian, h well-known Da'shnak activist allegedlv involved in the " Dro " Affair, #as ieleased. A

second equallv wel l-known party leader, t'uhrrr Hovannissian' *.,

released a day later.

The reinstatement followed the end of a power crisis in Yerevan; it enabled the ARF to return to the political scene with strensth and to b."o-. one of the sisnifiEant forces at plav. Within a fEw days of the decree"to reinstate, several ARF lead-

ers and an important delesation of

members arrived in Y.r.rrar. Officially, the.y were there to attend

the 1Otti annrversary celebrations of the Karabakh movement, but they also celebrated their reinstatement and met with local officials. What resulted from the meetings was a decision bv the ARF to sunoort Robert Kocharian's presidential' 6urdidacv. The decisioh means that if the piime minister is victorigus, the partv's participation in the new -administration -could be ensured.

The Justice Ministry's decision to reinstate the ARF put an end to a feud

which pitted the party against government officials and former president Levon Ter Petrossian. It was on December 28, 1994, when Ter Petrossian issued a

presidential decree banning the activities of the

party on Armenian territory. The decree was issued on accusations that the ARF was involved in subversive and criminal activities. The decree was reinforced by a decision of the Supreme Court just two weeks latet on January 13, 1995; that decision banned the party for six months on the grounds that the ARF broke two laws: the law

"on public and political organizations"


another "on the legal status of foreign citizens in

fie Armenian Republic." This second law states that foreign citizens cannot be included in the local leadership of a political party, and that local parties cannot be ruled and financed from outside the country. The general accusation was that the

internal laws of the party did not conform to the legislation of the Republic of Armenia. Clearly, however, the problem transcended the legal boundaries stated in the accusations and became political. At the time, the ARF was a

leading opposition force which openly challenged state policies in general, and those having to do with the Karabakh conflict in particular. The ARF presented itself as a serious rival with financial capabilities which should not be dismissed. Perhaps a more important consideration was the ARF's capacity for being heard all over the world, thanks to its infrastructure within the

Armenian communities of the Diaspora; a


ond consideration were especially, because of its

political connections and lobbying activities in the West.



in this context that the


involvement of certain ARF members in underground criminal activities were made, and the implementation of the ban became possible. The party was then officially "shut down" and its possessions

seized. At the end of the six-month

period determined by judicial decree, the party resumed its activities despite the continuation

the legal


ban. The

eye, and hostilities did not



authorities chose to turn a escalate.

by maintaining the ban and hold-

ing public trials on the "Dro" and


Hovhannissian + 30" cases, the pressure was not relieved.

The "Dro" Affair was at the root of the ban. The authorities claimed that they had dismantled and anested members of an underground group

in political subversion and assassinations; they linked the group to the ARF. Just months later, party members participated individually in the parliamentary elections of June


1995. Ruben Hakobian, a member of the party's supreme body, was the only Dashnak who won a seat in the elections. It was a month later, on July 29,l995,that

10 AlArl


During the ARF's first mass meeting held in Yereyan after the reinstatement, Hovhannissian asserted that ttin ease where it turns out to be impossible to amend the Constitution, the ARF can bypass the law for the sake of the nation.rr ARF leader Vahan Hovhannissian was arrested together with 30 others and charged for the "Dro" Affair. Hovhannissian was accused of treason toward the homeland and of a coup attempt. With the two trials still dragging on, the ARF became involved in the presidential elections of September 1996. The party played an important role in the unification ofthe opposition forces. Vazgen Manukian, the opposition leader, lost by a hair, and rumors circulated of outrageous electoral fraud. Ter Petrossian's administration was left

shaken, internationally discredited and somewhat isolated, and opposition deputies withdrew from the National Assembly. Ter Petrossian launched a dialogue with opposition forces, focusing on the ARF to presumably break the opposition's united front. The ARF's declared

aim, however, was to obtain the legal reinstate. ment of the party, the return of its possessions and a satisfactory outcome to the two trials; ARI leaders hoped for the acquittals of Hranr Markarian and Hovhannissian. Negotiationr which began in April 1997 had not reached theil conclusion when the power crisis broke out over the Karabakh issue. By the time Ter Petrossian resigned, thr ARF had gotten back most of its possessions, bu negotiations concerning reinstatement and tht trials were still moving along. The "Dro" ffia which had started on July 7, 1995, had reached i verdict 16 months latet on December 10, 1996 The 11 defendants received varying sentences

and three of the accused received death sen tences. Hrand Markarian was given imprison ment for five years "for illegal possession o false identification papers and weapons". N< proof was found concerning the ARF s involve ment in murder or other criminal activity.

Markarian was also exonerated of charger that he headed the so-called "Dro" secret struc ture within the ARF and of involvement in polit

ically-motivated murders.


appeals cour

introduced changes to the various sentences or

Jlly 4,1997. One of the death

sentences war

commuted to 15 years of imprisonment, and twr others saw their sentences reduced

by a


Markarian's sentence remained the same.

The "Vahan Hovhannissian + 30



which had started on March 5, 1996, reached i verdict on Dec, 12,1997. The sentences for thr 31 accused included four years of prison fo Vahan Hovhannissian, a five-year sentence fo

Manuel Yeghiazarian-head of the Arabo volun teers brigade which had participated in the war ir



death sentence



Avedissian. It is true that an effort for moderatior was perceptible; the sentences were milder thar expected, and the maximalistic charges

of ftea

it was not the await ed acquittal. The ARF reacted with a harsh com

son were dropped. However,

munique, and Hovhannissian's attorneys were

probably preparing themselves for an appeal when the president of the Armenian republic resigned on February 3, 1998.


must be noted that the nine-month-

long dialogue between the ARF and the authorities had been greatly facilitated by the Prime Minister Robert Kocharian. The party was accustomed to cooperating with Kocharian when he was the president of Karabakh. As prime minister of Armenia, Kocharian did not express much himself; but on a few occasions he reacted positively to the issue of the legal reinstatement of the party banned in Armenia, but active in Karabakh. One such occasion was in France during Kocharian's mid-December visit to Paris. The prime minister declared to Armenian reporters that he hoped the question of the reinstatement of the ARF would be solved in the near future following a mutual




On the political


Kocharian underscored that he does not even want to know if the accused are guilty or not or to what extent they are guilty. He agreed that there must be some truth to the accusations; but that nevertheless, a political decision was necessary to end this problem, so long as clear evidence is missing. On the same occasion, Kocharian also stated that the Constitution had certain short-

comings, that more opportunities must be offered to Diasporan Armenians and that dual citizenship might serve as a good start. In his first press conference after the resignation of Levon Ter Petrossian. the prime minister declared that the "page of the controversy with ARF' would soon be closed, the party reinstated and prisoners liberated. Sure enough, the ARF was reinstated on

February 9, and Hrand Markarian was freed


path of exoneration rather than amnesty. It seems, indeed, that this

will be the aim of the

new trials. A final point is that the ARF's legal reinstatement occurred after the party presented its new amended internal by-laws on December 30, 1997. The by-laws were declared to conform with Armenia's legislation only after Ter Petrossian's resignation. The ARF's reinstatement raises a number of questions as to why after a banishment of more than three years is the reinstatement taking place at this precise moment; a second questions is why in such a hurry. It is true that a certain detente has been perceptible since 1997 between the former administration and the ARF. There are no guarantees, however, that Ter Petrossian would have actually gone to the extent of legally reinstating the activities of the party and of freeing its imprisoned leaders, at least without a worthwhile trade-off. Prime Minister Kocharian's

move may have had three motivations. Undoubtedly, the move conesponds to his personal convictions, ones he has explicitly expressed on several occasions. At the same time, right now Armenia needs to assert that it will remain laithful to democratic principles; Kocharian's decision goes in that direction. Last but not least, the move may also have a political explanation; it may emanate from a legitimate desire on the part of a potential presidential candidate to further strengthen his position by securing the collaboration of an additional important ally whose help may be useful both within and outside the country. On the local scene, the presence of an ally such as the ARF may help the prime minister to vary his alliances and to maintain a balance among them, thus gaining

more room for independent maneuvering. Outside the country, the ARF is capable of

Markarian was released because on Feb. 2, the Attorney General of

helping to promote foreign policy objectives.

the Republic had asked the supreme court to

the party, some of its members wished to pro-

reduce his sentence by two years, taking into

pose Vahan Hovhannissian as a presidential

the same

Immediately after the reinstatement of

consideration the particularities of the case.

candidate, but the question was settled when

The supreme court agreed to the request.

it was officially decided that the ARF would

Since Markarian had already served tlnee

back Robert Kocharian. Behind the decision

years, he was freed at once. As for Hovhannissian, his "detention regime changed" on health considerations the very next day; he still awaits a new trial. Manuel Yeghiazarian, not an ARF member, was granted amnesty by the prime minister and released a little later; he will remain free until his new trial. A fourth prisoner was also

may lie a feeling of unpreparedness, resulting


Expressing himself on the issue, Albert Bazeyan, the vice-president of the Union of the Yerkrabahs (see AIM February 1998), declared that it would be more appropriate that the amendment of the sentences take the

from the long ban. This decision may also emanate from an appraisal of the party's initial policy when it f,rrst entered Armenia several years ago. Then, in a rush to become a significant player in the local political arena,

ARF members Hrand Markarian, lower left, and Vahan Hovhannissian, above, were released from prison within days after Kocharian assumed the title of acting president.

standards and the unity of the nation. This is

such an important issue for the party that


can forego even its natural fuive to become a

ruling party". A similar statement was made by Vahan Hovhannissian.

Of course, one cannot discount the pos-

sibility that the party is genuinely convinced that Robert Kocharian is the best choice at the present moment. It may also be that the

decision is not bereft


of a certain desire to

repay a favor.

Finally, for the ARF's statements of solpro-

idarity-"one nation, one homeland" claimed the banners during their



public meeting-to be convincing, however, such statements must not be followed by declarations like the one made by long-time party leader Edward Hovhannissian (who is Vahan's father and has lived outside Armenia since the days of the Cold War, working alternately for Radio Liberty and other western agencies). During ttrat same rally, the first

after reinstatement, Hovhannissian asserted, "in case where it turns out to be impossible to amend the Constitution, the ARF can bypass the law for the sake of the nation."

the ARF committed mistakes which hindered

its normal activity. The party's

apparent desire today to keep a relatively low profile while it builds strength may be due to the disappointments of the past. Coming out of the jail, Hrand Markarian declared that "in my opinion the main task of the ARF today is to contribute to the strengthening of the moral

byA. H.Alexandrian

March'1998 AIi



Address: UMAF/RH0NE-ALPES, 4, Rue Coste 69300 Caluire, France

Tel: 33 418218314

Fax: 33 4 78287668


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Until April 15, 1998

Physicians, Dentists,

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lncluded in the registration fees for Congressists: Welcome reception, access to conferences, lunch on July'16 and 17, all coffee breaks. lncluded in the registration fees for spouses and guests: Welcome reception, lunch on July 16 and 17. An extensive activity pr0gram will be suggested and sent atthe end of the lsttrimester 1998, to all those already registered. A Gala-Evening at the Abbaye de Collonges -Paul BOCUSE, a cultural evenrng, a tour of Lyon, fhe Beauplais wrneries and the medreval city of Perouges are n0t rrrcluded rn regrstratlan fees.

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Underpinning all our work is the firm conviction that the vitality of an independent press is fundamental to a democratic society in Armenia and democratic institutions in the Diaspora. The Fourth Millennium Society publishes Armenian International Magazine in its effort to contribute to the national dialogue. The dfuectors are gr:ateful to the Benefactors, Trustees, Patrons and Friends of the Fourth Millennium Society who are committed to the well-being, growth and development of Armenians and Armenia through the promotion of open discussion and the free flow of in{ormation among individuals and organizations. Their financial contributions support the work of the Fourth Millennium Society and ensure the independence of AIM. Michael Nahabet, Vartan Oskanian, Raffi Zinzalian, Directors.

DIRECTORS'98 Shahen Hairapetian, Armen Hampar, Zaven Khaniian. Michael Nahabet,

Vartan Oskanian, Alex Sarkissian, Bob Shamlian, Jivan Tabibian, Raffi Zinzalian. BENEFACTORS

Sarkis Acopian, Hirair Hovnanian, The Lincy Foundation. Louise Manoogian Simone SENIOR TRUSTEES

AUSTRALIA: Heros & Kate Dilanchian; CALIFORNIA: Khachig Babayan. George & Flora Dunaians, George & Grace Kay, Joe & Joyce Steinr CANADA: Razmig Hakimian. Kourken Sarkissian; HONG KONG: Jack Maxian FOUNDING TRUSTEES AUSTRALIA: Varoojan Iskenderian; CALIFORNIA: Garen Avedikian. Mardo Kaprielian, Edward Misserlian, Bob Movelf . Varoujan Nahabet, Norair Oskanian, Emmy Papazian, Zareh Sarkissian. Raffi Zinzalian; FLORIDA: Hagop Koushakjian PENNSYLVANIA: Zarouhi Mardikian ASSOCIATE TRUSTEES

Araxie M. Haroutinian. Ralph and Savey Tufenkian PATRONS


Arman and Nairi Derderian GeorpJe and Vartouhi Tavoukiian

Artin Etmekjian CALIFORNIA

Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian Garabed Akpolat Armand and Nancy Arabian Vartkes and Jean Barsam

Harry and Alvart Barseghian Berj and Hera Boyajian Hagop and Violet Dakessian

CALIFORNIA (cont.) Armen and Cloria Hampar Arpiar and Hermine Janoyan Kevork and Satenig Karajeriian Nishanf and Sona Kazazian John and Rose Ketchoyan Gary and Sossi Kevorkian Zaven and Sona Khanjian


Garo Keheyan ITALY

Krikor and Harout Istanbulian

Krikor Krikorian Dora Serviarian-Kuhn Avik Mahdesian Stepan and Erdjanik Markarian Harout and Rita Mesrobian

Ardash and Marian Derderian

Jasmine Mgrdichian Edward and Alice Navasargian

Dimitri and Tamara Dimitri Lucille Estephanian

Rafi Ourfalian Michael and Hermine Piranian

Steve and


Migirdic and Ani Migirdicyan

Manoushag Fermanian

Alex Sarkissian

Gagik and Knar Galstian Vahan and Audrey Gregor Pierre and Alice Haig

Robert and Helen Shamlian Petros and Garine Taglyan Ara and Avedis Tavitian Gaidzag and Dzovig Zeitlian


Kevork Bouladian MICHlGAN Alex Manoogiant NEVADA

Larry and Seda Barnes NEW YORK

Harry and Aida Koundakjian Vahe Nishanianf

FRIENDS OF AIM The Fourth Millennium Society is grateful to the following for contributing during the last month to help secure AIM's financial future.

SAUDI ARABIA: Hratch Ouzounian

March '1998 A l




srrrvev tatorship seemed to dis-

sipate, political life

resumed somewhat more optimistically. The gen-

eral feeling was


Armenia is given a second opportunity to assert its newly found independence. The republic also has a chance to build its statehood properly, in accordance to its vital national interests and on the basis of sound, democratic and human principles like equality, justice and fairness. In the midst of this political turmoil, most striking was the unusually high number of presi-

dential candidates for such a small country. The number of candidates started out at 14 and dropped only by two by the official start ofthe

campaign on March 7. Political observers say the high number can be explained by the fact that

everything is still in-the-




including statehood and

the political



The 12


candidates can easily be

divided into


groups. First, there are the serious contenders.

They are followed by those whom the populace considers the 'eter-

nal' candidates-those who are well-known political

personalities, know they have very lir tle chance of winning, but intend to assert them-

IN 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS Following the resignation


President Levon Ter Petrossian on February 7, political activity in Armenia concentrated on the upcoming out-of-the-ordinary elections on March 16. Interim president, Prime Minister Robert Kocharian accepted the difficult task of organizing the new elections within 40 days-at a time when many of the critical political and staff offices had been deserted by those who belonged to Ter Petrossian's team. After the first shock of the resignation subsided and fears of a civil war or a military dic-

14 Ali


selves and use the results

to define their political

role in the new regime. Finally, there are the political figures of lesser importance;

this group either orbits around more important forces or needs to test its rankings among the population in advance of the next parliamentary elections (slated for 1999).

The first group includes Prime Minister Robert Kocharian and Vazgen Manukian, leader of the National Democratic Union (NDU) and 1996 presidential candidate; this group also includes Karen Demirjian, First Secretary of Soviet Armenia's Communist Party (CP) and the country's



secretary to come out of his voluntary confinement and to re-enter the political arena after an almost decade-long silence. What complicated matters further and led to conjecture about possible agreements between Demirchian and Kocharian were undenied rumors that prior to announcing his candidacy, the

former Communist leader had held a long meeting with the former president of Karabakh.

Demirjian's appearance



political arena after a virtual disappearance of ten years raises many questions, and it is bound to have a striking impact on the electoral process. By his mere presence, Demirjian will naturally take away some of the votes that would have otherwise gone to Badalian, Manukian and Kocharian. Demirjian appeared to be on par with Kocharian and one of the most popular candidated according to early polls because of the nostalgia factor for the




"good old days." Although Manukian remains a major contender, the real com-

petition will now be between the other two. Demirjian will likely take away at least some of the disaffected vote, ones which would otherwise have gone to

Manukian. Even Kocharian can run as an "outsider" and not the natural inheritor of the Ter Petrossian legacy; this further weakens Manukian's own position z s

as the anti-candidate.

Even though Demirjian's platform

was not announced until the official beginning of the campaign, it was evident that his platform is far from the

: :

Left, a public rally sponsored by Paruir Hairikian and his supporters. Candidates gathered signatures in order to be able to place their names on the ballot, Vazgen Manukian's supporters, above.

l4-yer de facto leader from 1974 until he stepped down in 1988. In the second group are the current First Secretary of the CP, Sergei Badalian and Paruir Hairikian, the Soviet-era political dissident and prisoner; Hairikian is now the leader of the Self-Determination Union. Also in the second group are the former head of the National Security Council David Shahnazarian and, tentatively, the leader of the Democratic Party, Amm Sargsian. The rest of the candidates are

those who are testing the political waters.

Among the three main contenders, Manukian's name was the first to come to the forefront as a serious candidate

after Ter Petrossian's resignation; Manukian did not offtcially present his candidacy until the NDU Congress in mid-February. At that time, Kocharian's candidacy was sunounded by uncertainty and Manukian was considered the favored presidential contender.

The prime minister


entered the race on February 9 and introduced a great deal of uncertainty in the process. As days passed, the number of was clear candidates increased, but that the real competition was to occur between Manukian and Kocharian. The


clarity lasted only until the advent of Karen Demirjian, a true outsider. It is

communist perspective. Demirjian has stated that he favors the concepts of democracy and free market economy, but who doesn't? In that respect, all three major candidates have similar approaches. Besides sharing a liberal approach to both political and economic

matters, Kocharian and Manukian are more or less nationalistic in their views in comparison to most of the other candidates. They differ from each other mainly by their personalities and in some details of their platform. For example, the former leader of Soviet Armenia has maintained his close rela-

tions with the Moscow

leadership. Manukian is generally considered to be more oriented towards the West, but he

does not oppose close relations with Russia. Kocharian is known for his proRussian inclinations without antagonism toward the West.

not clear what convinced the former first March1998



ls Robert Kocharian eligible to run for president? THE LAW Article 50 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia states: " Every person having attained the age of 35, having been a citizen of the Republic of Armenia for the preceding 1 0 years,'having permanently resided in the Republic for the preceding 10 years, and having the right to vote, is eligible for the presidency".

FlGe !

ARGIIMFNTS IN FAVOR r)F HIq CANDIDA'V MORAT It is immoral to deny such a central national figure as Kocharian, who has done so much for Karabakh and Armenia, the right to be a candidate. IEGAI. AND TECHN!CAL The Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Soviet Armenia and the National Council of Karabakh jointly declared the reunification of the two entities on December 1, 1989. On the basis of this decision, which has not been revoked, the residents of the former Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabakh should be considered citizens of

Armenia. The independent Republic of Armenia was declared on September 23, 1991, following the referendum on the independence which had taken place two days earlier. Therefore the term "Republic of Armenia' has existed for less than 10 years. Thus, no one has been a citizen of the Republic for the last 10 years, and no one is entitled to run for presidenry. Kocharian has been elected twice to Soviet Armenia's Supreme Soviet (parliament)-once in 1 989 and again in 1 990. This precedent should entitle him to run for president. The provisions of article 50 of the Constitution were once disregarded in '1996 when Paruir Hairikian, who had not lived in Armenia for the preceding 10 years, was officially registered as a presidential


Kocharian's candidacy is not allowed, says Acting Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, then "we accept that Karabakh is either independent, or it is part of Azerbaijan." Oskanian says the international community does not recognize Karabakh's independence, and "the denial of Kocharian's candidacy would mean for this community that the Armenian people acknowledge that Karabakh is part of tuerbaijan."


AP(.:IIMENT( A{iAIN(T I'6'HAAIAN'<'ANNINATV The Constitution should be strictly observed, with no exceptions. Karabakh a republic on September 1991 and declared its independence on January 5,1992; thus, the December 1,1989, decision on reunification with Armenia declared itself

is no longer valid, even though Armenia's parliament hasn't revoked it. The December

1,1989, decision on reunification may not be implemented partially. Accepting Kocharian's candidary on the basis of that decision would automatically entail accepting the participation of Karabakh's population in the election. That in turn would be interpreted by other concerned parties and the international community as the annexation of Karabakh by Armenia. This would create even more serious problems at this point.

Kocharian's candidacy and eventual election on the basis of the reunification decision would give the West the opportunity to increase the pressure on Armenia and Karabakh by putting fonr'rard the pretext of the "illegitimary" of the elections. Kocharian's candidacy and eventual election on the basis of the reunification decision will diminish Karabakh's chances for acceptance by Azerbaijan and the OSCE as the main negotiating partner of the conflict.

WHAT DO THE OTHER CANDIDATES SAY? David Shahnazarian, as well Sergei Badalian's Community Party have strongly criticized the Kocharian candidacy as illegal. Some National Democratic Union (NDU) officials have stressed the necessity "not to infringe the Constitution," although the party's leader, Vazgen Manukian, has not raised the issue. Karen Demirjian has not commented on the issue, either.




March 1998

f nr* wel, ereryone's

[auollle words in tho weeks

plGGsdlng the lllarch 16 presidentla! election. Eueryone Irom Gandidates lo obseruGts

to Dublic olticials agrGcil lhat the elections must be, will be, Gan'l help but [e, lree and lal]. From lhe lirst day immedl-

atcly lollowing President leuon


Pelrosslan's ]csignatlon, whcn acllng plesidcnt Bo[eil Kocharian announoed thal Glectlons would be held wilhin the Gonstitutionally mandaled 40 days, l(ocharian

immedlalely addcd thal Ie would gualantGe llee and lair eleclions.

less lhan a week later, mGm[els 0l Armenia's ucss clu[, the union ol Iawlers anil

polilical sGiGnlisls, mGmbGls ol IalliamGnl, lhc cGnllal eleclolal GommillGe, the


slllulional court and others galhered and lormulated a stalcment whlch asssfled lne Grltioal nged lor playing [y lhc lulGs.

cover storv Everyone discovered the rules were fraught with problems. The chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Khachatur Bezirjian, acknowledged that there are drawbacks in

the existing election law.

(For example, who ever heard of organizing and carrying out elections in less than six weeks? Forty days, and forty nights, may work magic for weddings and floods,

but not elections.) Bezirjian's solution was to

offer technology-fax machines and internet links- to polling stations, for better efficiency. No one, let alone Bezirjian

whose credibility was damaged

after the 1996 election, could offer election law reform, since there wasn't enough time. But next time around, someone is sure to want to amend the law which creates

central and local electoral commissions only comprised of representatives of some of Armenia's 63 political parties. Yet, independent candi-

dates, like

frontrunners Kocharian and Demirjian, are

not represented in those commissions since they do not belong to a party. Kocharian and Demirjian were not seen as the only frontrunners; so was former Prime and Defense Minister Yazgen Manukian. But as soon as Manukian threw his hat into the ring, he followed it up with charges that the only way he wouldn't win this time would be if the elections were

has all the advantages of the leader in office-all the necessary levers and connections without the disadvantage of political baggage which accompanies most incumbents. Kocharian could be blamed, and he was, for having an unfair advantage in the state media. Candidates accused him of receiving more than his fair share of coverage. What Kocharian could not be blamed for is the reigning popular atmosphere of distrust on the one hand and powerlessness on

the other. While


Minister Yazgen Sargsian


Interior Minister Serge Sargsian were being blamed for the latter, it was the "military" which was

l(ocharian and Demiriian were not seen as the only Irontrunners; so was Iormer Prime and Ilelense Ministel Uazgen Manukian. widely blamed in 1996 of tampering with the electoral process.

rigged. His deputy

Exactly which military-the militia and police under the

TV of illegal

propaganda and

of the Defense Ministry-was

bolstering Kocharian's chances.

almost an irrelevant question. The men in uniform were not to be trusted. Perhaps that is why Yazgen Manukian's National Democratic Union, early on, expressed concern about the army not meddling in the political process; and why Defense Minister Sargsian called a special

Shavarsh Kocharian quickly accused state

It was left to the ARF paper Hayots Ashkharh to accuse their former ally, Manukian, of sour grapes. Manukian also believes those who are moved by nostalgia will throw their support to Demirjian, but that it is not possible that Demirjian will take votes away from him. Kocharian's status as frontrunner is because of his incumbency over the six short weeks leading up to the elections. He 18



March '1998

Interior Ministry or the soldiers

press conference to stress that the

army's sole role would be to

maintain the peace. The 0rganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

sent ambassador-at-large


Brown to say that the government should guarantee "the transparency of the military's participation" on election day. Especially important, according

to the OSCE, is commitment to a fair and transparent vote count. The majority party in parliament, the Yerkrapah Union, announced that although the law has many loopholes and violations are possible, only "political will" demonstrated by all candidates can guarantee freedom and fairness.


Perhaps it will be political and political wisdom. If the

candidates and their supporters don't acknowledge that the intent to hold a free and fair election, together with an electoral process that is transparent, is a major step forward; and if the losers necessarily and immediately cry foul, then there will be no short or long term gains from a surprise election that could have provided a channel for newfound freedoms. The enthusiasm with which the people returned to Freedom Square should not be exploited. Free and fair and transparent can't mean all candidates win. Indeed, with l2 candidates, it is unlikely that any one will win during this first round. If no one receives over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second round within two weeks of the final tabulation. The top two contenders will vie for the country's top office. As election campaigns officially began in early March, it looked like the top two contenders would be Kocharian and Demirjian, with Manukian out of the final round. Or, it could be Kocharian and Manukian, with Demirjian throwing his votes in one or the other direction. While Kocharian is there in either case, Manukian is interested only in winning -not in the process of coalition-building. Demirjian may come out of all this as the victorious kingmaker. by Salpi Haroutinian Ghazarian

cover storv THE GAilDI IIAIES.

WHll WItt BE PRESIII ENI? ence, connections and record of accomplishments are a major part of his plat-

: I

tr =



Karen Demirjian, 66, did not support the Karabakh movement in 1988, but he did support Ter Petrossian's presidential candidacy in 1996; both moves stand to damage his credibility if they are recalled. Badalian and Manukian are doing their best to remind vot-

Pluses: His association with the "better days" of Soviet Armenia, and not with the hardships witnessed since the early 90's. His close relations with Moscow. His past experience as political leader and continuing respect from factory leaders. His voluntary political isolation of the past 10 years and the implication that he did not closely cooperate with the former administration.

former Armenian Communist Party First Secretary, is supported by the Socialist Party of Armenia, but not the Communists. Demirjian represents no party, but his long+ime experi-

same issue. He is unknown to younger voters. Times have changed, and many

ers. Demirjian, the

Minuses: His 1988 position on Karabakh when he refused to endorse the objectives of the popular movement, and his current unclear position on the think he cannot accomplish in the new situation what he could in the old real-

ity of the Soviet Union. The examples of Georgia and Azerbaijan, which demonstrate that the retum of Soviet-era leaders is not sufficient to solve existing problems.


economy, and applying customs and taxation laws equally. His Karabakh policy simply states that "based on the principle of a peaceful resolution of the conflict and international laws, via negotiations, we must realize the self-

"social problems, economic matters and security" to be the top three issues facing the nation

determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, while insuring its safe existence within secure borders with permanent geographic ties with the Motherland."

ROBERTKOCHARIAN Robert Kocharian, 44,

today. That according to his cam-

paign manager, Agriculture Minister Vladimir Movsesian, who himself used to be a First Secretary of the Communist Party (CP) before the fall of the Soviet Union. Kocharian also received

the support of the last


Secretary ofArmenia's CR Suren Harutunian, who praised Kocharian's "honesty." Kocharian's platform calls for a more active role for the Diaspora, revisiting the dual citizenship question and calling on Turkey to jointly address the bitter historical past. Kocharian promises to complete Earthquake Zone reconsfiuction by the year 2001, alleviating the tax burden by expanding the tax base and reducing the shadow

Minuses: Icgally, his Armenian citizenship is questionable. A notable segment of the population considers him a "Karabakhtsi" and not one of them. During his term as premier, the economy saw some inllation.

process, did not provide the people of Karabakh with the opportunity to protect Karabakh's rights."

VMGENMANUKIAN Vazgen Manukian, 52, has served as Defense and Prime Minister. He believes that the nation's foreign policy must not

be changed in haste and

Pluses: His role in Karabakh's liberation struggle. His youth and his reputation as a hard-worker, a man of principle, and a well-balanced, moderate and persevering personality, capable of decision-making in difficult moments. His clean reputation, not tarnished by any scandal or inappropriate financial dealings. His success in introducing discipline in the economy and increasing budget revenues during his premiership. Kocharian enjoys the support of the ruling elite as well as that of important political forces as the Yerkapahs (see AIM February 1998) and the Armenian Revolutionary FederationDashnaktsutiun, as well as three other parties.

Manukian also believes the nation must make an investrnent in the economy to give industry a financial boost. 'There is no competition now in Armenia," he says. '"The clan system still functions. An open field will encourage Diasporans and foreigners to invest, too."


Russia is a very important strategic partner. Manukian hopes to

work to deepen relations with kan, a country, he says, plays a very impoftant role in Armenia's

Pluses: His image as the moral winner of the 1996 elections. His association with the first big military victories in Karabakh, as then Armenian Defense Minister. His party's accumulated experience running a campaign, in 1996, Manukian is, to many, the symbol of the opposition to the Ter Petrossian regime.


that table now. That there can be differences in proposals is another matter.

Minuses: His association, in the eyes of the most radical opponents of the former regime, with ttre ideology of the ANM-the party which came out of the Karabakh movement and was the mling party until last month. The failure of his staffing policy, and the shortcomings of his land-privatization policy (while he was prime minister). He is no longer the candidate of the combined opposition forces. Unlike 1996, when he received the votes of all those opposed to Ter Petrossian, this time he will have to win votes on his own pro-

We were all convinced that the Ter Petrossian approach, a step-by-slep

gram and merit.

"I don't believe the negotiations have failed," says Manukiatr about the Karabakh situation. "We must remem-

ber that Azerbaijan started out very confident that it could resolve the Karabakh issue militarily. Our people's military successes brought Azerbaijan to the negotiating table. We must not allow for anyone to leave


1998 A l rli

cover storv

Tftffi }fi I David Shahnazarian,


was one of the ANM's founders, but he quit the party in 1993. From 1992 to 1995, Shahnazarian was a special

Aram Sargsian,


a gradtate

of the Brusov Institute of

Foreign Languages, has worked in various

National Self-Determination. He returned to Armenia after independence and served in government in

presidential envoy on Karabakh issues. From January 1994 to May 1995, he headed the National

Armenia. The DPA established the

various capacities, including defense commander of the Goris region and member of parliament. In 1996, he backed Vazgen Manukian's candida-

Security Agency. In


cy for president.




mathematicianphysicist, was elected to Parliament.

Communist Party posts and publications. In 1991, he was elected chair-




43, has been principal of the Mkhitar Sepastatsi school since 1978; the school is known for its attempts at innovating educational methodology and includ-

ing Armenian cultural subjects in the curriculum. In 1989, he joined the

ANM. In 1990, he participated in ANM-Azerbaijan negotiations in Riga, Latvia. He was a member of parliament from 1990 to 1995. He was education minister and deputy minister from 1994 to 1996. His platform is based on stengthening the people's resolve, will and creative spirit, establishing full relations with all neighboring states and revitalizing the economy.


A I il

March 1998

the NK

chairman since 1996.


Sargsian says, "foreign relations a necessary link to economic

Hairikian is an eloquent and charismatic speaker. His platform includes reducing the president's term, removing the office of prime

issues. We must insist that local eco-

minister and transferring those pow-

nomic resources be developed, rather than facilitating the path for imports,

ers to the president, making the office

as a condition for

Ashot Bleyan,


Party of

Republic," and Sargsian has been its

Although politically no longer aligned with Ter Petrossian, they are family. Shahnazarian's daughter married Ter Petrossian's son in 1996.

of the Democratic


loans." Regarding Russia-Armenia relations, Sargsian believes that bilat-

eral relations with other countries shall be strengthened to the extent that they do not hinder Armenia-

of regional governor an

elected one not an appointed one, and changing

the role ofthe constitutional court so that "everyone should have the right

to bring cases before the


Hairikian advocates dual citizenship and active pursuit

of "the resolution

Russia relations.

of the consequences of the Genocide of l9l5-23, including the question of

Paruir Hairikian, 49, is a candidate for the third time since

Artsakh." Hairikian supports a free, uncontrolled market, while acknowledging

Armenian independence. While still enrolled in Yerevan's Polytechnic Institute, he began to organize students against Moscow's rule and subsequently spent about 18 years in various prisons. He was stripped of his soviet citizenship in 1988, just one year after the Union of SelfDetermination went above ground and was renamed the Union for

that "some assets vital to the national


will be




state." He pledges credits and direct subsidies for agriculture. He promises academic freedom, medical care

and quality education, minimum wages, pensions and benefits, and guaranteed bank deposits.

ffiffiffrc ry

llrant Khachatrian

Sergei Badalian


Artashes Geghamiatt,

49, a graduate of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, joined the Communist Party

it 1972 and was active in various positions until 1990. He was the Mayor of Yerevan between 1989 and 1990. In 1995, he was elected a member of Armenia's Parliament. In 1997, he established the non-profit

political organization, National Unity. He is for the union of RussiaBelarus-Armenia, and his foreign policy stresses economic, neighborly and political ties with Russia, as well as

other neighbors.

(against Turkey) and improvement of relations with Russia and other

neighbors appear on the 10th month of his agenda.

Sergei Badalian

was nominated

by Armenia's Communist PartY, which charged the "current corrupt authorities" would be unable to gov-


On the Karabakh


Khachatrian believes in a self-determined, compromised and peaceful

to the conflict with in


stands to take away Badalian's share of the disgruntled vote. Badalian is

negotiations with Azerbaij an.

in Russian and intemational Communist Party activities, and he

poverty, welfare, reconstruction of earthquake and war zones are also

was a player in the Russian Duma's

priorities for Khachatrian.


of the


legal offices and offered his services to the Armenian Helsinki GrouP on Human Rights. The Myud Institute of Law, which he founded in 1988, was the first independent graduate law

strategic importance

program in the former Soviet Union. Mkrtchian has presented a month-bymonth agenda for the first year of his

in foreign

should be avoided. He does believe stronger ties with Russia are necessary, but all decisions should take into consideration the characteristics of the nation's economy.

ern the country. At the same time, Badalian attacked Demirjian, who

60, is presilegal concern. [n Myud dent of the 1963, he worked as an attorney for various ministries and agencies in Armenia. In 1978, he founded private

Yuri Mkrtchian,

drastic changes


Genocide. Badalian would put a stop to the privatization of large factories, and he would nationalize those enterprises which have military or other



interests. Badalian would leave privatized land in the hands of farmers, allowing them the right to pass their parcels to their children. His platform calls for the state to sponsor scientific and cultural activities. He wants to

RNK playing an equal part

the the

Social and economic issues like

Hrant Khachatrian,



nominee of the Constitutional Right Union, graduated from Polytechnic and worked as a radio engineer for

the Institute


Radiophysics and

Electronics at Armenia's Academy of Sciences. Later, he worked



all-union Institute of Radiophysical Measurements. Khachatrian has also worked for the Soviet Union's largest

military agencies. Since April


return to free education including

he has been chairman of

presidency. He places great emphasis

higher education for all.

on economic development, limiting the privatization of large factories and limiting taxes on farmers. His

Constitutional Rights Union. The CRU believes that the people of

Viken Khachatrian,

foreign policy objectives include the

pursuit of the Armenian




served as deputy Mayor of Yerevan and chairman of the Parliament's legal affairs committee. He believes


Karabakh should also have had the right to participate in this election. by Tatevik Nalbandian


'1998 A I iA 2'l




The Karabakh issue is central to this election, which coincided with celetrations marking the-loth anniversary otthe movement. At a reception, ARFs vahan Hovhannissian, Kocharian at Yerablur cemetery toir xaratiitr brinitiCi vrctinri witrr irij witri aitia

Some analysts say that since Ter


downfall came


Karabakh policy, this means that the presidential elections-a referendum on how the country should be nm over the next five years-will effectively be a decision on this single issue. No candidate is likely to campaign on a similar step-by-step approach, since the leading advocate of this solution has just been wiped from the political stage. In reality, therefore, the election is going to boil down to a competition between two variants of the same policy.

In its

mildest form, candidates will

declare an intention to make no concessions over Karabakh before Azerbaijan accepts its independence. Crudely, this could be characterized as the do-nothingand-hope policy, and it begs all the questions that prompted Ter Petrossian's orig-

inal initiative. For how long would the international community tolerate such a stance before dismissing it as obstructiveness and turning decisively against Armenia? At best, it could result in Armenia being effectively written off, excluded from all the economic developments of the region and its people consigned into permanent poverty.

The other-and far worse-variant is for a candidate to emerge promising to solve the crisis as it should have been solved long ago. As the banners at one street demonstration proclaimed during the crisis: "Karabakh is Armenia....and

The prospective president would promise to recognize Karabakh's independence and proclaim union with that's

Armenia, challenging Azerbaijan and the rest of the world to get used to it. He would try to settle through a decisive show of force what could not be settled by negotiation. Such a declaration, superficially attractive, could prove an election winner


with a population tired of the knot-twisting complexities of diplomacy and suspicious that bigger powers want to do down Armenia in the rush for oil riches. But it would certainly turn the republic into a pariah state, friendless in the world, and it could plunge it into full-scale war with

Azerbaijan. Ter Petrossian's caution would have been proved right but at a terrible price in the lives and well-being of

ordinary citizens. Already, the international perception has emerged that those coming to power are hard-liners who reject compromise.


is nothing in itself wrong with





March 1998

toral support to face down the resistance that would inevitably resurface and perhaps to carry the public along with his change of heart. He may have learned the lesson of Ter Petrossian's demise and engaged the people in more vigorous debate of all the options facing them, a mark of a more mature and confident democracy taking root in Armenia. Or, having come to power on preiisely the opposite platform, he may find another Armenian president accused of betrayal and brought down before the end of his term.

by lbny Halpin

will have to adapt changed cir-


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Armenia just as Armenia itself has had to cope with the upheavals in

@ilRm!m,nl::?s*r?r, Over 450 poges of Detoiled lnformotion

neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan over

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armentan survev


ri ti cal

Arc.hbishops Barkev Martirosian of.Karabakh and Vatche Hovsepian of the Western US (top left) with volunteers (top right) answering phones during the Thanksgiving Day telethon tiorir Loi Angeles. President o, the Western US Armenia Fund Rafi 0urfalian with telethon hosts (middle

left). Manushag Petrossian, Armenia Fund Executive oirector with telethon host Arthur

Bakhtanian during the Dec. 27 Yerevan telethon (bottom left). Karabakh's Foreign Ministor Naira Melkoumian presented land deeds to winning telethon participants, including-souren Kahwadi (rioht bottom). Lottery tickots issues by the government of Karabakh for Dirspora-distribution are expected to net $2.5 million.

2 l 1

: o


armenran survev


Raisin In November, the Armenia Fund of the Western US together with Armenia Fund USA broadcast a day-long Thanksgiving telethon to raise funds for Karabakh. Over 16,322 people pledged nearly $3 million (one million of which came from Kirk Kerkorian's Lincy Foundation). Participants were eligible to win plots of land in Karabaki; and over 90 percent of those who pledged live in California. The Armenia Fund offices of Yerevan used the same method just one month later in December. Telecast throughout Armenia, people watched as pensioners, students, families of deceased soldiers and others explained how they benefit from the Armenia Fund's programs. Viewers conkibuted over 110 million Dram or $220,000. During both telethons, film clips about Armenia Fund projects were televised. In February, the government of Karabakh announced a world-wide lottery; 250,000 tickets are to be sold at US $5 each "to strengthen Karabalh's economy and infrasffucture," said a govemment spokesman. The lottery tickets are being dishibuted throughout the

world by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-

Dashnaktsutiun (ARF). Finally, the government ofKarabakh has also announced that Diasporans can now buy land in Karaballr-thus building solid financial and social bridges between the homeland and Diaspora. In the Diaspora, there is both excitement and confusion over the various methods being used for fundraising. Some

object to the selection of the ARF to manage the sale of lottery tickets since the ARF elected not to participate in the telethon efforts. Others see this as a complementary way to involve the ARF community. In all cases, the statistics are revealing. When all was

said and done, last year the Diaspora's major collective fundraising efforts for Arrnenia, and especially Kmabakh, amounted to a little more than $5 million. Since by all accounts, the purpose of this kind of fundraising is to build the infrastructure necessary to make life livable in Karabakh, the Diaspora's donations will be used for major construction and development projects. Using the Armenia Fund's figures, the $5 million plus should pay for two projects: the water distribution system of Shushi, the Armenian town liberated from Azeri control in 1993, and the rebuilding and renovation of Shushi's main educational facilrty.

And what about the rest? What about water systems for

Karabalfi's dozens of villages? What about a road network

within Karabaldr to replace ttre Azerbaijani thoroughfares which go through Azeri territory? What about schools for Karabakh's dozen other cities?

They'll have to wait for next year's lottery and next year's telethon. by Salpi Eamutinian Ghazarian




TlnrlG Li



mmffimmmBmHffi While the political movement which lead

to the


of the

Republic of

The children are also the offsprings of

military heroes who won independence for

Nagorno Karapakh helped define modern-day

Artsakh and were the decorated war heroes of

Armenian history the lack of economic and academic opportunities continues to drain the region of its young. Thousands head to neigh-

the former Soviet Union.

the number of teachers is also up to 2,860.

Karabakh's children, who once were in the Russian language, are now schooled in the Armenian tongue; and the Education Ministry continues to develop more extra curricular and social activities for young people-such as special arts and sports programs attended by some 6,000 children-


boring countries to advance their education or

Much like the population of the area, the number of schools and their student enrollment have always fluctuated. There were 212

find employment; many never come back. Karabakh's hope are its young children,

barely 50 and is up to 155 this year. The total

the offsprings of the region's indigenous pop-

number of students is 21,410, and this number

to insure that they and their parents stay. The children were photographed by Paris

ulation, self-sufficient and tough survivors.

includes 1,300 orphans. More importantly,

-based photojournalist Antoine Agoudjian.


in 1990; that number went down



SUTVCV get worse. Abe kept me from a lot of things," says the l7-year-old. "The biggest change in (Sahag) I think," says Chaparian, "is that when I met him he was a defeated person-his heart and soul were hopeless. When you saw that kid, you could see depression in

his heart and soul. It was that sense of despair, sense of emptiness. Now there's more joy in his life. There are still a lot of issues, but there is a spark of hope in his life now. He's a good guy." Karo's is another success story. The l6-year-oldjunior at a Los Angeles high school had problems at school. When and he went to school, he hung out on the street instead of si


Providing Direction for At-Risk Teens Crack cocaine, methamphetamine, drug deals, gang-banging and drive-by shootings. These are what Hollywood cop shows are made ol and they were also the daily realities of one young Armenian who grew up on the streets of Hollywood.

But no longer. l4-year-old


(not his real name) has not been part of the gang culture since November 1993, that's when he was targeted by an organization which helps teens in trouble. Now Sahag is one "Abe's Boys." Abe Chaparian was frustrated with watching young immigrants succumb to the pressures they faced in schools, on the playgrounds, and in their neighborhoods.

That's why he decided to do something about it. After finding a few boys who desperately needed guidance, the 34year-old began the organization he calls New Direction for Armenian Youth (New DAY).

It was September 1993; on a shoestring budget and armed with an arsenal


determination and

good will,

Chaparian began his crusade to save Armenian boys from gangs, drugs, graffi-


A I /t

March 1998

ti, delinquency, violence and other crimi-

nal activity, and help them with family and school relationships.

Sahag was the second teen to join Chaparian's experimental program. He'd been kicked out of four middle schools in as many months but began attending

with guidance from Chaparian. Sahag also began to learn about the significance of decisions, valclass regularly

ues and principles.

"He didn't know the difference between bad and good, wrong and right,"

says Chaparian.

"He knew to


extent, but it was fuzzy. For him, going to a prostitute was not wrong, that was

just fulfilling his need. Now he's got sense." Sahag is now 17 and says before he

met Chaparian, he didn't know


faith and religion. Now, he wears a threeinch crucifix around his neck and has been employed as an apprentice jeweler for over a year. His dream is to open a clothing store. Sahag has a rather dim view of the future he would have had if he had not met Chaparian. "I think it was going to

armenran survev support, New Direction helps stu-

dents acquire job readiness skills. If they are determined to find a job and working will not hurt their studies, New Direction



the 16 to l8-year-olds find work. Chaparian is always on the lookout for partnerships with businesses

willing to give

disadvantaged youths an opportunity to work and change their lives.

Although the Armenian Missionary Association is a constant source of support, and the program is housed in the Armenian Evangelical Church of Hollywood, Chaparian stresses that his program is not used to recruit teens into organized religion. But, spiritual growth and development and the ability to distinguish right from wrong are all an important part of

the program, he


Responsibility, honesty, loyaltyvalues society needs to survive are

New Direction youth are involved in various atterschool activities as alternatives lo street life

emphasized. Religious background

accepting girls and young of the lack of resources, there's not enough space

revoked. If a participant in New Direction misses a day of tutoring, he cannot play

into two groups.

Chaparian calls their home. If three days are missed, there is a home visit.

both boys and girls

his program, but


New Direction also provides role


working together to both. "Let them ," he says. "Here, on the task at to become a club

If he misses two days,

for the young men. The mentoring program concentrates on boys who models

need one-to-one assistance. A mentor is assigned through the program to listen,

guide, and help the participants resolve personal issues before they become prob-

atmosphere of program reflects

New Direction. that when young new to America, y and give a hopeless attitude occupying space in learning or drop-


Meotors are usually in their 20s and fill the void in the lives of boys who may not have a father or a father figure. The volunteer role models must first meet with a young man's par30s, and they help


or parents; and when the family

approves the mentor, New Direction sets

up a schedule of meetings between the young man and his mentor.


uses sporting and as a reward system for s behaviot attiIn the basement of the

church w}ere the program


based, weight training equipment is placed next to aping-pong table. Students are also allq&ed to take part in hiking trips or visto the beach; but most popular are the games and tournaments. The games are used to teach students how to get along. When a student performs poorly or misbehaves, basketbell privileges are

jts *!#uartetball vffi

For those who need additional help, New Direction offers personal and family counseling. Chaparian is registered with the State of California as a marriage, fam-

counselor; his father Abraham Chaparian, pastor of the

ily, and child

Armenian Evangelical Church of


unimportant and considered a non-

issue, Chaparian says.

With a budget of $60,000 curried from private donations, Chaparian had planned to help 15 boys the first year but ended up helping 25. During the second year, with a bigger budget of $152,500, Chaparian had 65 participants. In its third year, New Direction competed with over 600 organizations for a one-time grant from the City of Los Angeles. The organization was only one of 60 to receive funding-$100,295; and with a total of $238,850, 100 boys and

young men participated in the New Direction pro$ams. Chaparian is always looking for additional sponsors. His publicity material refers to a Wall Sffeet Joumal article which cites the savings to society for each child "saved". "High-risk youths who are kept out of trouble through intervention progmms could save society as much as $2 million a youth per lifetime," says the

New Direction newsletter quoting


Vanderbilt University

Professor. Chaparian agrees, "the problem is serious and we need support; we cannot do this alone."

Hollywood, provides marital and domestic violence counseling.


and seminars


parental education and training are peri-

odically offered. The workshops teach parents how to cope with a family crisis. Beyond academic and psychological

by Theresa Moreau Photos by Eric Nazarian


Alrn 29

[|ut ol AIriGa AN ARMEl,llAN. HIS UlSIOl{. A IEGACY. In a place called Sibebeh, deep down on the African continent, on a hillside in the high plateaus of a nation called Swaziland, stands an Armenian

tured Armenians over the past 4000

Church in the most unimaginable and most remote corner of the world.

their small child. The threesome were on the verge of starvation when they

The man who envisioned

came to DerBalian and asked for work. The Armenian took them in and asked the man to help him with the roof of the house he was building. The man's wife also helped, handing her husband building material while she carried her


Church and worked hard to materialize his dream is an Egyptian-Armenian typewriter salesman who has called Swaziland his home since 1964.

Krikor DerBalian is in this


and lives alone in the heart of Africa. He doesn't have a family, and his sib-

lings live in the United


DerBalian says it was his late mother who summoned him through a witch doctor to build the Church as his legacy. Since he doesn't have children, says DerBalian, his mother wanted him to leave something behind.

him of the Arax, a river which has nuryears.

Enter a poor native, his wife, and

child on her back. After DerBalian's home was completed, he and his helper began to erect the Church they were summoned to build. DerBalian designed the chapel

following the rules



Armenian church architecture. The two

DerBalian is neither affluent nor rich, but he focused on the impossible and made it possible. Many didn't take him seriously when he told them about his dream to build a Church in his backyard, but DerBalian persevered. The process ofbuying the land, design-

men used raw material right from DerBalian's land, building the Church with hand tools even when cutting the stones. DerBalian wanted to build the Church entirely by hand and avoided using any type of machinery. The process began in 1985 and ended in 1989; and when the Church

ing the edifice, erecting the Church and

was completed, DerBalian named it the



consecrated took over four


When the salesman first saw Swaziland, located some 400 miles East of Johannessburg, South Africa, he instantly fell in love with its people

"Saint Harutun Armenian Chapel" in honor of his father. The Church bell is named after his mother, stained glass cover most windows, the pews seat 24 people, and chan-

deliers, the


and the landscape. He decided to make his home in the area called Pine Valley

baptismal bowl,

and bought eleven acres of property which he calls his little paradise. On his parcel of the African terrain sat a huge rock facing east. DerBalian saw the rock and immediately knew why it was placed there and why it faced East. The altars of Armenian Church must always face the sunrise, and the typewriter salesman knew that the rock should become his place of

and pictures were

worship to God and that he would build a Church around it. A nearby creek or an umbaba (running water) complemented his vision since it reminded


A I /t

March 1998



donated by DerBalian's friends, both Armenian





Church was com-



Armenian priest from Greece was invited to conse-

it in August 1989. On the day


of the consecration, two children were baptized at St. Harutun; and since then,

there have been weddings and other baptisms. Of course, the Church has received a lot ofpress, including coverage from South African television. "This chapel is for everyone," says DerBalian. Anyone can use the chapel on any religious occasion, but they have to bring their own priests. Reported by Parik Nazarian

Tk g Fg Sfryffis Pr* mrl Erm

Champion of Karabakh Father Mkhitar Saribekian is redefining the role



priesthood. The 38 year old is dean of the Khor Virab Monastery,

considered the oldest Christian site in Armenia where St. Gregory the Illuminator accepted Christianity as his religion, according to church tradition. He's also a role model for both priests and their parishoners. What makes him unique is his willingness to go beyond his responsibilities as a spiritual leader. Father Mkhitar has been involved in the education and well-being ofchildren, participates in reconstruction projects and has taken up arms to protect his brothers on the front lines of Karabakh.

Saribekian received his training-military training-in Siberia, where he attended the former Soviet Union's air defense college. It was during missile training exercises in Kazakhstan on MIG and SU fighter planes when he realized his calling to be a priest. "You would see what missile fire could do to the desert, and you would wonder what would happen if you aim one of the missiles at a city." Saribekian left the military college and returned to Armenia where he enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute. It hadn't taken him long to realize the military was not his calling; and soon after enrolling in classes at the Polytechnic, it was clear that the technical arena was not where he belonged either. That's when Saribekian returned to his birthplace of Ejmiatsin to attend the Gevorgian Seminary. He was no longer driven by simple logic, he says, but by faith; he wanted to be useful to his homeland and his nation through the church. Upon graduating from the seminary, he was appointed to the Khor Virab Monastery, where he has been not only a spiritual leader but was also a very vocal participant in the nation's struggle for liberation. Ten years before the Karabakh movement, Saribekian was well-known for singing patriotic and revolutionary songs. His behavior did not go unnoticed, and people would watch him with amazement and some in horror. During the Karabakh movement, Saribekian was a gun runner and escorted the press to the front lines. Saribekian worked

Armenia. That assignment allows him to coordinate humanitarian projects like the CFAA orphans program, responsible for over 1400 orphans in Kirovakan, Shirak and Yegheknadsor. Saribekian is also in charge of the CYMA program which allows young people to travel to Armenia, live and work there. During CYMA s surrmer missions to Armenia, an onlooker can spot Father Mkhitar among the youth, working alongside them. He is distinguished only by his beard; otherwise, he looks just like the rest of the sweaty, tired, active bunch, building schools, town centers, clinics. As the l700th anniversary of Armenia's conversion to Christianity nears, Saribekian's wants to turn Khor Virab "the kind of place that anyone from the international community will be able to come and see," he says. "Khor Virab is the center of our 1700 years of Christianity," he says, "but there are lots of issues and problems there to resolve." Saribekian's involvement in all facets of the life of his parish stems from his belief that clergymen must become more active. "Religious life," he says, "is a product of diocesan life, which is a product of parish life, family life, finally individual life." That's where Father Mkhitar makes a difference in the lives of parishoners--one individual at a time.

Reported by Dania Ohanian

ffi. g/re%rr*** POETIC






Poet Nancy Kricorian's


is the latest work in a recent upsurge of writing

with an Armenian famiwhere her future


about Armenian immi-

life in the

mother-in-law chooses her as her son's wife.


She is brought to Watertown, Massachusetts, to be married to Toros

The past five years have seen the publication of

Peter Balakian's Black Dog of Fate and David Kherdian's I Called it Home,both memoirs of growing up Armenian


The bulk of the novel unre-

tells Zabelle's

in America;

markable story

Mark Arax's In My Father's Name, a journalist's



as a servant; then she

is temporarily placed





New World: employment as a

ton-sewer in



her butthe


father's murder; Carol

Shirt Company, her uneasy

Edgarian's novel Rise the Euphrates; Leslie Ayvazian's Nine

relationship with both

Armenians and Richard Kalinoski's Beast on the

Toros, the birth of her three children, her life-

her mother-in-law


Moon, two plays based

long friendship with

on Armenian

Arsine, her enduring but secret love for Moses whom she meets at the


and a reissue of Michael

Arlen's classic


Passage to Ararat, with

shirt company,

a new introduction by

of her two sons from her life, and the death of her husband.



Blaise Clark. Despite their many dif-

ferences, these works

Her own end comes in the wake of the ravages of dementia. We see her last sitting on a suitcase in the dark closet of her

are unified by a common attempt to answer question which


opens Passage to Ararat:-what does it

Watertown home, fear-

mean to be an Armenian, asks fulen, as he sets out on a mid-

ful and confused.

life journey of discovery. In the context of this more recent body of work about Armenians in the New World, Arlen's older question (coming as it did long before the ascendancy of the memoir and the rise of "ethnic literature") seems as generative today as it was twenty years ago.

When her granddaughter asks her what she is doing, she answers that she is hiding from the Turks who will break down her door. What was special about motheq asks her son, Moses Charles, whose new name and revised nose disguise his immigrant background admirably. What was there to her except the stuffed grape leaves that she made? It is, of course, a cruel question, but not an atypical one asked by children of first-generation immigrants like Zabelle and Toros, first generation immigrants whose children again find themselves on the road of escape. But theirs is also a retreat propelled by radically different impulses from those of their parents. The question also activates the backward glance of the

The family story is the form through which many of these works try to craft an answer to Arlen's question. Kricorian's novel chronicles the life of Zabelle Chahasbanian. Her journey from her native Hadjin in Turkey to Constantinople and then to the US is the classic trajectory of the Armenian dispersion. As a child, Zabelle is a witness to the deportations.

Orphaned, clutching a tin cup, she makes her way to Constantinople, where she is first taken in by a Turkish fam-


A I i,l

March 1998

novel and defines its focus: the family story of the dispersion is the story ofthe turbu-

lent relationship between parents, such as Zabelle, whose own parents disapchil-

peared in the desert, and

dren who long for assimilation. Kricorian's central character stands at the center of this movement, utterly unprepared and yet resolute and ready. As a survivor, she has no choice but to move on. It would have been easier to

endow Zabelle's





heroic qualities, to have tried to create something dramatic from the fragments of a life, from the residues of memory to have crowded the novel

with ethnic exotica;


Kricorian judiciously avoids this path. Instead, she tells Zabelle's story in a stark, skeletal prose interpersed with moments of deep emotion where Zabelle's memories of the desert break through the calm surface of her life in lyrical rather than dramatic ways. It would have also been easier to endow Zabelle's life and the life of Armenian immigrants in the Diaspora

in prose. She resists the bold statement and the clearly delineated narrative. Instead, she offers us something less and more than what we may have anticipated from a life lived on the shaky terrain, where loss can neither be negotiated nor overcome. This Zabelle knows well, as does Kricorian in her writes

sparse novel whose every page speaks

of this

loss in ways which are wise, generous and deeply rewarding.

by Thline Yoskeritchian

with redemptive qualities, to find a spark of hope in the story of the dispersion. It is fashionable these days to

write one strand


the Armenian

story-the deportations, marches, and resettlements in the New World-in terms of Eauma, to mix history and therapy. But this is a trend which imposes on the story a redemptive turn, as though there was the possibility-slight, but possibility stillofhealing. Kricorian's novel does not allow for this kind of drama .Zabelle's life is what it is; she was giYen a bad, in fact honible, deck of cards. The desert is the underbelly of her consciousness. It is the subsoil of her life, bracketing it so that at the end ofher life, hiding in the closert, Zabelle's

life comes full circle, and



gives herself over to her demons. It is a moment of closure, drawing Zabelle into its folds, but it is also a moment

of completion out of which nothing can be extracted.

So, what was special about Zabelle's life? What does it mean to be an Armenian? Kricorian has the heart and ear of a poet although she March1998




Yerevan Mayor Vano Siradeghian, left, and Writer's League of Armenia President Hrand Matevosian, present an honorary Yerevan citizenship author of A Captive of the Caucasus.


Russian writer Andrei Bitov,

For more than a millennium, Armenians have been virtually shouting to the world for attention, but to little avail. When attention finally came, the focus was not on Armenian civilization and values, but disasters, genocide, earthquake and war, The Soviet collapse and consequent independence, however, have generated a more palatahle response. Two recent books by a Russian and a Pole provide a perspective-prismatically analytical in the one case, topical historical in the other-which has been sorely lacking in the lir erature on Armenia. A third by an American is far less about things Armenian than it is about one of Armenia's neighbors. All three cover the major milestones in the Armenian experience in this century. The most pervasive and absorbing of the three is Andre Bitov's A Captive of the Caucaszs. The title was first used by




March '1998

Pushkin 150 years earlier. In the first half of the book, entitled "the Lessons of Armenia," Bitov describes his visit to Armenia for 10 days in 1967 . He spent the next two years reg-

istering his penetrating insights into the nation and its people-the most eloquent account of the Armenian ethos by a non-Armenian, in print. His assignment from a Leningrad newspaper was to write an article on the 2,750th anniversary of Yerevan, a "Then and Now," brick-and-mortar portrait of the city.


Kapucsinski does avoid the usual display ofdates and historical facts and provides, instead, refreshingly succinct evaluations

of the Armenian past. Thus, in

comparing the But something happened shortly after Bitov arrived. He

fell in love with the land, its people, its institutions and its monuments.

Yet, he did not succumb to "localitis." Bitov realized very early on that he is a Russian, not only because he had to depend on his native language, but primarily because he was constantly comparing what he saw with what he knew of his native Leningrad-and in every instance, Armenia came out ahead.

Bitov's perceptions are unique. He cracks the image of stagnant society by observing the ubiquitous presence of Leo's

three-volume history of Armenia in the homes he visited. Consequently, unlike in Russia, everyone he meets knows some aspect of the country's history. His words for Mt. Ararat are "morose and frowning." He tells us that when standing under Charents'Arch, "For the first time in my life I saw the Earth as God had created it." After reading his description of the Matenadaran, one will never again think of it as merely the repository of old books and manuscripts. The same freshness of discovery is found in his descriptions of Zvartnots, Ejmiatsin and Lake Sevan, in which he swam. But it is Geghard that overwhelms him and in ten pages he surrounds the ancient church with an aura of mystery and sanctity that no reader will ever forget. He rhapsodizes about the Armenian alphabet. He discovers the versatility of lavash-as bread, as a plate and as a napkin. He writes about the grapevine-â&#x201A;Źaten as a grape, drunk as cognac, cool shade, wrapping for dolma, and fuel after it dies. In a session with Martiros Saryan, Bitov is asked a question by the great painter that rattles him. "Are you a RussianRussian?" Again, Bitov comes to realize that Russians are indeed very different, as he is very different from all that he has seen and come to love. Bitov perceives Armenia as an authentically national existence with concepts of homeland and clan, tradition and heritage-+oncepts that are, he is convinced, often forgotten in Russia and of which his native land needs to be reminded. His intoxication with fumenia defines his Russianness with even greater clarity, and he must eventually conclude "I am a man of the empire." Imperium by Ryzsard Kapucsinski fleshes out the idea of empire to which Bitov refers. From a historical, and admitted-


between Armenia and the West, he can write cogent paragraphs such as this: "Armenians have a measure of time different than ours. They experienced their first partition 2,500 years ago. Their renaissance occurred in the fourth century of our era. They accepted Christianity seven centuries earlier than we. Ten centuries before us they started to write in their own language." In his second visit to Armenia, almost a quarter of a century lateq Kapucsinski encountered a crisis. Armenia, he writes, was waging two wars: one against the Imperium and another against Azerbaijan. The visit begins in Yerevan with a harrowing description of the chaos in the airport. Kapucsinski devotes the remainder of the 20 pages of this chapter to a dramatic rendering of the opinions of Armenians in Mountainous Karabakh: "How they

view their plight, their Christianity, and their isolation two seas and two towering mountain ranges."


Kapucsinski's section on Mountainous Karabakh is the most vivid and trenchant in his booh and in the context of the postSoviet imperium, it is vital to comprehending that troubled world. The last of the three books is Turkish Reflections by Mary Lee Settle, a Virginian who lived for two years in Turkey. While displaying sensitivity and compassion for the Turks, the book's problem is its tangential treatment of the Turkish massacres, which, in adopting the British euphemism, she refers to as "the Armenian troubles." Where Bitov excavates deep down into Armenian society, and Kapucsinski at least scrapes the surface, Settle seems totally unaware of the pockets of Armenian settlements in Anatolia where she might have learned about Armenian life in modem Turkey. In mentioning the Armenian tragedy, Settle repeats the revisionist arguments of how many died on each side and why. She could have lent her book balance and accuracy by making a short trip to Washington to consult National Archives reports by fellow American diplomats. Her twice-mentioned friendship with a prominent American Turkish apologist is her private affair; but it could be a possible tip-off to the source of

her information


seeking the historical truth about the

Armenian massacres, which is very much a public affair. She could also have read what Bitov has to say in seven blood-cur-

dling pages. Bitov wrote

ly Polish point of view, Kapucsinski is referring not just to

a preface to his book when it was reissued in 1989. What he had experienced in Armenia two decades ear-

Soviet power but "to the imperial ambition of the Russian peo-

lier was the continuity of an ancient tolerance of adversity,

ple". By coincidence, 1967 was the year he too visited Armenia, but did not glean from his few days there what Bitov discemed with such depth. His contacts with a sculptoq ceramist and composer-all three among the lesser lights of

Yerevan's cultural world-produce surface ripples which

intellectual tenacity, respect for the dignity of the individual and love for one's homeland. He made no changes simply because nothing had changed.

by Edward Alexander Alexander is author of The Serpent and the Bees.

reveal little about the deeper pools of Armenian society. March

1998 A l rlrl 35

of the most beautiful landin Armenia is only an hour's drive from Yerevan, and yet Vayots Dsor is a world apart from the busy capital. Climbing out of the Ararat One


Valley and into the Vardenis Mountain Range is a study in contrasts.

Behind are Ararat's fertile vineyards and huge rectangular ponds fed


thousands of natural springs. Once covered with dense forests and marshland, the area is still home to pelicans, storks and sea gulls. Ahead are the

rugged granite and rock formations shaping the footsteps of the Vardenis Mountain Range, which are the result of millions of years of volcanic activity.

At the apex of the mountain


into Vayots Dsor is a stunning view of Ararat, and a few bends in the road give ample oppornrnity to photograph the majestic mountain which seems much smaller than from the fuarat Valley floor.

Myriad shades of red, black and chalk-colored rock jut from the sides of the mountains, looking like they were dropped by spoonfuls of lava from the sky or precision cut into quartz formations. Still, other formations are reminiscent of the American Southwest, where sheer masses of rocks suddenly erupt into view-slashes of red, black and ochre in a desert landscape. It is

35 AIn


not hard to imagine the inspiration for Sarian's slashes of color on the canvas and his bold masses of form when traveling through this lunar landscape. Just beyond the mountain pass is a

steep green valley protecting Yelpin, Chiva and Rind. Peer over the side of the high mountain road, and a long spine of rock forms comes into view. It is almost a kilometer from the road to the valley floor, and yet the spindles of rock almost reach as high. In a few kilometers a new paradise begins-the vineyard region of Areni and the valley of Vay. Areni is known for the semi-sweet wine which bears its name; but in fact, the valley produces more apricots and a wild rice which can be traced back more than 15,000 years when farming began to replace hunting and gathering.

Legend has


that the name for

Vayots Dsor came from


series of cat-

aclysmic earthquakes which rendered ruins of medieval fortresses, churches

and monasteries. As each generation rebuilt upon the ruins ofprevious architectural wonders, a new earthquake

of "Vai! Vai!" after each earthquake became brought destruction. The wails

synonymous with the region. Vayots Dsor is made up of the two districts of Yeghegnadsor and Vaik. The area lives on in natural splendor and holds some of the most unique wildemess areas in Armenia, second only to the forests around Kapan and

Meghri and the wilderness

area between Dilijan and the Georgian border.

In Vayots Dsor are volcanic ther-

mal springs which erupt next to


cold fresh water, the meandering Arpa river, three of the best caves on the European continent, and hundreds of ancient structures going back to the fifth millennium BC. For avid spelunkers, the most spectacular images in Vayots Dsor are underground and inside three caverns

a constant temperature of 14 degrees Centigrade (58 Fahrenheit). The width of the passageway variesat points, one person can barely crawl through, then suddenly, it's a spacious l0-15 meters in width.


the mountain through layers of granite, slag and tuff to the cavern chamber.

The formations glow under flashlight; some are pure white, others as translucent as smoky glass, still others gold and red in color. On the forested road to

Agaragadsor, just past Arpi, is Jerovank, the

erground ecosystem and

water church. The church is actually a cave pool of spring with water outside, fed from a


source inside the cave. Inside are a series of stalactites that were used by a 4th millennium BC pagan cult. Directly in

icrochiroptera Desmodus, known as fruit bats.

front of the


is a sacrificial stone. The stalactites

entrance A bat is the only mammal capable

tility rituals.

the ecological system. Bats have been misunderstood and thought to be dangerous; they have lost much of their

is thickly forested and a hiker's paradise. Nearby are the llth century

breeding grounds, and they are now

Agaragadsor bridge and a large spring-


fed pool, a perfect place after a lengthy hike.

Many believe the myth that bats feed off of human blood and carry rabies. The truth is that bats found at Magili feed off of insects (up to three times their weight per day) and pollinate the nearby orchards and vineyards. They


not carry rabies and do

not bite humans. Their sophisticated rated the best in Europe by members


the French

Speleological Society. Magili and Archeri Caves and the smaller Jerovank Cavern provide hours of exploration in subterranean Armenia. All three caves are located within a few kilometers of each other. There is camping nearby at natural springs under the boughs of an ancient apricot forest or below towering rock formations. The expedition begins just after

Areni. Turn off at the Noravank Canyon Road. The l3th-14th century monastery and royal mausoleum complex designed by the master architect Momik is perched on a small hill in the canyon. Beyond is the entrance to Magili Cavern. One-and-half kilometers deep, the cavem was inhabited as

far back as the Neolithic period. Stone tools and artifacts have been discovered in the cave, as well as ceramic

fragments from the 9th century. Because of its depth, Magili Cavern

inside represented phalluses in fer-

of true flight and an important part of

sense of radar (sending 0.2/100 milimicron pulses at 130 kilohertz amplitude ultra-voice) allows them to unerringly swerve out of the path of anything larger than a June bug. One of nature's spectacles is the sight of nest-

ing bats flying out ofthe cave, at dusk,

in a fluttering cloud that twists and turns in the evening air. Free style camping can be done in the river canyon near an ancient apricot forest near a mineral spring. About a four-hour-hike away, near Arpi, is the mammoth fucheri or Bears Cave. The entrance is located 1660 ft.) above sea level, and the cave is more than three kilometers deep. It has some of the most spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations in Europe. Formed by thousands of years of calcite deposits dripping from ground water, the formations and varieties of colors are stunning. The water that is dripping now to form these formations is probably more than a hundred years old, filtering from the top of

The canyon outside the cave

for a swim

Text and photos by Rick L. Ney

Practicalities: Entering caves or climbing Vayots Sahr is not recommended without a good guide. Guides can be found at the Armenian

Speleological Society



Wear sturdy hiking boots with strong ankle support and "cave clothing": strong fabric that protects as much of the body as possible. A simple frst aid kit is a good idea for scratches. The

full hike is two or three days


mountainous terrain.

meters (5532

Lodging/Food; Guest houses



go for about $18 per person per night,

and there are numerous khorovats stands along the roadside.

French-Armenian filmmaker Bobert Guediguian, left, is mceiving a lot of positive press for his seventh ,ilm, 'filtaius and Jeannette, tighl.

Love + Politics = Success for French Filmmok Robert Guediguion's lotest movie Morius ond Jeonneffe is o love story with chorged politicol overtones. While the film is winning the heorts of movie-goers, it hos olso received criticol occloim ond on oword ot the Connes Film Festivol. Nouve//es D'Armenie Mogozine correspondent Morie-Aude Ponossion met with the filmmoker for some fronk diologue obout his life, his coreer ond his perceptions. Ponossion reports the filmmoker is o rore individuol ond on honest mon. At the last Cannes film festival, you were awarded the Gervais Prize. What did the honor mean to you? Guediguian: It's always pleasant to win, but this was just one prize among many others. What is most important is reaction from those who have gone to see the film and their enthusiastic support of it.

How do you explain the success of Marius and Jeannette? There are surely some aspects for which I don't have an answer. But, I've noticed three things. First, people prefer comedies over tragedies. Second, and the film is the result of 17 years of work, a collection of films and a faithful public. Finally, for over ten years, the French seem to enjoy movies with political and social dimensions. They are asking themselves questions and thinking. I've always made movies of that kind, and so there seems to be quite a market for it.




March 1998

One of your characters paints an ambiguous picture of those who support the FN (Front National, a right


wing and national political patry).

For the most part, they're idiots. AIso, Jean-Pierre Dartoussin, the actor, knows it very well. He said to me,

Why point a finger so unambiguous-

ly to a certain segment of society? The stylistic context of this movie, the story, allowed me to do a number of things: to address the public on the topics of integration, deportation and the FN. I think there are two types of people who vote for that party. On the one

hand are the fanatics. It is not even worth trying to speak with them since they cannot be convinced. It is impossible with them. They are the enemy. No point in debating. They just need to be ignored and to apply the law when they break the rules of democracy.





hear them express

I think a vast majority resemble my character.


leave the room.

"You're making me a play a fool." But he's not a bad guy. He's not an assassin, He just represents the majority of voters. And with them, we need to talk. Can you really debate with idiots? Sure. I am saying "idiot," and it's a

very nasty word because at the


time they have heart. For example, the main character raises his children, he's nice with his neighbors, and he even

their views?

helps Marius get back together with if I include all his virtues, he remains intellectually limited. I think there are many people like him. Voting for the FN is unintelligent

To express? That is the ambiguity of all democracies. Now I'm talking like a politician, but in life I do not want to let

and reactionary in a very narrow way. It is a reaction to the absence of a defined political project, a missing right.

Should they be allowed



Jeannette. But, even

feelings may always emerge. But,


see the different facets of

racism in France today, we would have to speak with an Arab.

I'll let you in on a secret though. In my current project, I have someone who speaks a little Armenian. It's quite a funny scene. I am quite curious about it, but there are hurdles, like language.

In the movie, Jeannettets son, Matek, is searching his identity. Is that debate of some interest to you? I don't touch it very much. Asking questions does not mean having a

problem with it, quite the opposite it is enriching. Matek is normal, for one, to ask his father where he lived, what he ate and eventually, his

religion. Asking

such questions doesn't mean you have a problem. But, if at some point, Armenians in France expe-

This curiosity you've developed for Armenia. Do you plan on going there for your work? For my work no, because I am very tied here. But, a trip there, maybe. There are things there that I would like to see with my own eyes. Armenian art interests me as well.

You were at the Cannes film fesfival

at the same time as Atom Egoyan. Did you meet? Have you seen The Sweet Hereafter? No, we missed each other.

my name ends with 'ian' my ties to

I have to admit I don't know his work. I saw one on television a year and a half ago. I think it was Calendar. But, I did read an interview where he was talking about his favorite filmmakers. He mentioned

Armenia would increase as well.

Pasolini who

rienced difficulties, I would be 300 times more Armenian than I am today. If tomorrow I were passed over because

You have said you do not have any direct ties with the community. But, you are clearly inter-


in Armenia. What

are your views on the independence


also one



favorites. In fact, I noticed that we seem to have some tastes in common.

If you had a message for him? I would just like to tell him to continue doing what he does--quality movies recognized throughout the world.

of Karabakh? I am pretty much

in agreement, but I don't have all the facts. (Silence) Just the same, I think it is probably preferable for Karabakh to be tied to Armenia. I can only speak in general terms. The

Do you have the same approach?

very different in a bourgeois or aristocratic milieu? No, I don't think so.

entire world is in the process of questioning arbitrarily established borders. I don't believe that one can have a hxed view on these. What interests me most


is that Armenia and Azerbaijan become as democratic as possible so that private

We probably have a similar view on the relationship befween cinema and art. I continue to believe that movies are art. Malraux has an expression that says that art is an attempt to reach heights within people which they don't even know exist. Maybe it's enough to tell everyone that they are irreplaceable. It's an expression. I think the essence of art is to have people think about them-

and collective interests mesh well


Would your love story have


We can see through the characters

your movies that all is politics. Are there politics in a loving relationship? Of course there are. My story is political because I believe when we are hurt, we begin to fight ourselves. And, to think that anything is possible between two people is to admit battles in $eater social and political contexts.

All of your characters come from different ethnic backgrounds, but none are Armenians. How do you explain that?

I think that if it were 1930, I


have put an Armenian.




France are extremely integrated. There is no racism against Armenians here. Just the same, we should always be ready because such Armenians


If they could open borders

with one another, that would be



These may be pipe dreams, but severed decisions bother me.

Do your plans include going to Armenia? Maybe, because


could work without have gone to the Armenian district in Jerusalem for pro-

any problems.


fessiooal reasons. The first restaurant I went to was an Armenian restaurant. There was a musician who looked a lot like my dad. That was quite touching.

What drives you most? I believe in little victories. To convince my neighbor not to vote a certain way,

to tell him not to sell to real estate developer, All of these little things maintain vitality and keep a healthy rapport with the world. Since there really aren't any more grand ideologies to sink our teeth into, maybe the accumulation of these little battles is a way

to participate in global issues and to improve things.

We went to the superb Armenian muse-

um with my children. Of course, that too was quite touching.

T[anslation from French by Harry Dikranian March1998




puppet show during the Georgian civil war in 1993. "It was also the first day of the Abkhazian war when we showed our play, Kaj Nazar," says Karekin. "We had authorization from the Ministry of Culture, and we felt that our show would be like a beam of light in the black and dismal days of the war." The show sold over 700 tickets, and the Davtians donated all the proceeds to the refugees from Abkhazia.

The script for Kaj Nazar was written Bayandurian, who is the art

by Armen

director of the Armenian


Bayandurian was also the voice




As for the show's music, the Davtians transformed pieces of Armenian music into jazz addng an oriental touch. "We had worked on Kaj Nazar for over a year," says Karekin. Once ready for an audience, the Davtians invite a small circle of friends and intellectuals to see the show free of charge. The Davtians are now woiking on

their second show called "Be Ready at Dawn," and it, too, will take a year to prolife and dedicated to the late filmmaker. The duce. The script is based on Parajanov's

title refers to the early morning appearances by authorities who would come to arrest Parajanov and take him to prison. The artist felt he always had to be ready at dawn to face his destiny. Whenever he was anested, he did not know if he would live or die. The story relates one tumultuous night

Karekin and Janna Davlian run a Puppet Theater in Havlabar, Tbilisi, Georgia

The actors are ready, the audience sits with giddy anticipation, the cu(ain is about to go up, and that's when the Marionettes of Havlabar come to life. Pulling the strings are Karekin and Janna Davtian. Their pup-

Karekin, 51, is a mechanical engineer, jeweler, sculptor and artist. He speaks about his puppets with ardor and passion. "Iranians have Mullah Nasr-Eddin, and the Russians have Petrushka, so wanted to


pet theater, which catem mainly to adults, is

give Armenians a similar legendary comical

called'"Ihe House of Dawians."

figure. That is why I created Hago and his

Karekin and Janna's house of puppets

is located in the heart of the Armenian disnict ofTbilisi, Georgia. For the couple, the choice ofthe house-turned-puppet theater is

wife Yeghso." The puppets were inspired by an old

folksong which talks about two elderly

started," says Karekin. "It is the oldest district of Tbilisi. This house used to be the

scandalmongers. Hago, a huge puppet, is the main character of the show. His dialogue dialogue with Yeghso, full of humor and folk values, is about the realities of

house ofour ancestors, where our grandpar-

daily life.

ents lived, built memories, touched the walls. It has a soul. It is a pleasure to create

"Each puppet can take from a month to a year to make," says Karekin. "It is like a musical instrument; you have to define the character and the role of each puppet before making it." The whole family gets involved with the show including Karekin's wife Janna, who teaches violin, their daughter Anna, and their son Goga, who is the editor of a local Russian''newspaper, Chomi Bred, or The Black Delirium. The House of Davtians presented its

a significant one. "Havlabar is where


an Armenian center here." The walls of the lO0-square-meter stu-

dio are stripped of their wallpaper and are covered with canvas. Several paintings by artist Yuri Movsesov and the photogaphy


Sergei Parajanov decorate the walls of the House of Davtians. Dozens of puppets of all sizes, made of beautifully painted plastic, hang on strings, waiting for their next performance.

40 Alm


for Parajanov when he engages in an allnight conversation with Satan. In his dialogue, Parajanov talks about the important events and episodes of his life. "Who is to be buried tonight," is the opening phrase of the show. Karekin has made

a huge pomegranate

which will be used at the end of the show.

"Parajanov loved pomegranates," says Karekin. '"They were for him a symbol of life. At the end of the sho% the pomegranate will open up, and the grains will pour out. Each grain is to be a talisman against the evil eye, and spectators


each take a

grain, taking part of Parajanov home with them." To finance his theater, Karekin makes dolls dressed in traditional Georgian dresses. The dolls are sold to tourists through souvenir shops.

The Davtians were recently honored as Georgian cultural treasures. The Soros Foundation has granted the puppeteers $5,000 to be used to restore and repair "the House of Davtians".

Text and photos

byArmineh Johannes

m0 -



GllMPEIITIll}I Women's ice hockey made its Olympic debut in Japan last month, and helping the

US team bring home the gold was defenseman Vicki "Mo" Movsessiau (number l4). The 25 year old &om



started out as a figure skater;

but she saw her

brothers having a lot more fun playing ice hockey, so shejoined them. She is now considered one of the top players among 20,000 American girls and women who play the quick

and sometimes dangerous sport.

"Mo" graduated magna cum

laude from

Providence College in 1994 with a degree in marketing and business administration. She worked as a fulltime accounting representative at Prudential Securities in Boston until it was time to train for the Olympics. What does the future hold for "Mo?" She says she'll always be involved with hockey at some level. She has previously served as a coach at Nutheastem Univertity and enjoys volunteering her time to youth programs.

Bfl HI$..SI[Y UP respec&d and.key leader in the California Sare Assembly,has set hir sights

IHE AUBltili0t lS

tISIEilffiM His story of success could eaci$ bE p ptt*itsE of one of the movies his company helps create. His name is Levon Chaloukiarl *nd thp ?e year-old is best known in the iatfi*rtltional'Stry, and televisior indusry as the Ono${gud B#mg.,,,, winning owner of Ry&i Sound' Sgrvi,g$j,,tUe,,,t post-production company, named after the fsuuder, and Chatou*irmi.$.,,fffi I



i*een y*,ang:;;atiii*$ iffi;i;

&e, trit'



A rmch

on a seat in the state senate. Fresno attorney Chuck Poochigian represents Fresno and

Tulare Counties at the state capital and is campaigning for the senate seat being vacated by Ken Maddy.

Poochigian's inrpressive resutne includes

the titles




Governor Pete

Mlson and former Governor


of the Ernmys personally for his tâ&#x201A;Źeh+caf" elpertisi'.'',',, .,,,,,...,,i1ii*iiiiiiiiiill; the block-tong Ryder:seufid mainly of studios wtrere


qUt*p l#mt$tilriiii i fi;ll;:

edited and where artists create sound effects

for directors like Olivet r$tquo,,Armoctgl$$li']

many films edited by Chalbukianislg ,,, , are Raiturc of the lnst Al*, hiortoy,l$, t|d#ffi,.11 and Con Air.

Duekmejian. Poochigian h*s servEd in the Assembly since 1994 and was named by the California Joumal Magazine as one of the top five legislators in the state. The

fenr-salving abilities, and his overall potential as a lsader.

The rising political star is also the son-in-law of long-time Fresno County




QUIZ Whieh One of These Newsmagazines Reaehes More Than 50,000 Armenians Worldwide?

Los Angeles

to New York

london to Nicosia Sydney to Yerevan

Anvnnusnns TAr$

/\INI Call AIM for advertising rates

1 (800) 736-3246

THESE ARE REAL LETTERS TO REAL PEOPLE. SEND US YOURS. The assembly about Armenia was Balboa Elementary School


really liked your speech, but I

don't think that you should have told the story about your grandmother's life as an orphan because maybe your grandmother didn't want to say it in

public. Also, I really liked the about the snake. I didn't like the

story story

about the kid, David, and his uncle. I

think that telling other people about your heritage is a good thing. So long my friend and have a good day.

cool. I really liked the stories, I felt sad for your grandmother, she didn't know her birthday. I like the story with the boy named David and the animals. It was funny when he brought back foxes, rabbits, bears, tigers and lions. Jake


liked your show.


was nice

when you told the story about


woodgatherer. I think you should have

people act out what happened to Armenians throughout all those 3,000 years.

Love, Serge


P. S. Good


I mostly liked the story when the boy had to go to the bathrom and had

an accident on the way. And I also want to know about Paruir Sevak too because my dad's name is Sevak. His

uncle named him after Paruir Sevak Tatevik

red digits on the alarm clock i brought with me. it dawns on me that the alarm is going to go off in less than four hours, so


close my eyes and try to fall asleep

again; but doors close, doors open, and more voices continue to debate something in the hallway. add insult to injury, a car horn sounds from the street below, and there are more voices outside. this time they're coming from the street. all i'm thinking at that moment is who are these people and what the hell are they up to at three in the morning? okay, i'm curious. i get out of bed to examine what all the commotion is about. there's a shirtless man on a second floor balcony yelling down to a couple standing next to a car. the man down below is dressed in a white suit and a collarless white shirt, maybe a wannabe gangster or

a pimp; next to him stands a petite woman, obviously of ill-repute. "ehlee, ehlee," says the man on the balcony, and i know that's not the name of the girl in the sleazy dress down below.


a colorful

atmosphere this

place has in the early hours of the morn-

dear m,


miss you, and


miss vancouver.

haven't been sleeping much lately. here's the typical scenario: it's 3:10 in the moming, and i'm suddenly wide awake. not because i'm miles away from home and

van or something.

feel alone, not because i'm both nervous and excited about what's ahead, but

people who've escaped our common history, people who've traveled across con-

of obnoxious and rude men are talking in the hallway right outside my hotel room. their voices are lowpitched, they sound like they're discussing a life-and-death situation, but i can't understand a word they're saying. their accents are so thick that they might

tinents to escape the lifestyle which has imprisoned them through soviet rule and now the fledgling days of the new republic. they've had a lot to deal with; but god damn it, i don't care what our common history is and what's they've endured to get here. all i know is that they're keeping

because a couple

I liked

the story about the snake

and the hunter. My favorite was when

the boy had to take care of the goats and sheep. Then he losted them then

everybody was mad at him. Maybe you should speek in Armenian. I liked all of the stories. Katie

ing. imagine, a highrise hotel in the middle of glendale, and there are pimps and prostitutes dealing bodies, drugs, or whatever. all in the armenian tongue. you'd think i was writing you from yere-


well be speaking russian.

by the time they've walked past my door, i'm wide awake and looking at the

it's strange. there's something odd about the fact i'm somehow connected with these people. they are my people,

me up.

your lil'bro, b




rrnderexnosed THE

BRIIISH ARE GtlMIilG A British Heritage exhibit, on display at the newly-built Tekeyan Center, attracted over a thousand people to the Center every day in January; the exhibit was of British Week activities held in Yerevan. British dignitaries, including Baroness Caroline Cox of the British-Armenia Parliamentary Group, were on hand for the British Week celebrations. Baroness Cox (right) is photographed with the Tekeyan Trust's Vartan Ouzounian and Azg Editor Hagop Avedikian.

BUITI ON FAIIH The Tekeyan Center ofYerevan had its official opening in

October. A few weeks later, it received the Yerevan Municipal Architectural Committee's Best Architectural Design Award for 1997.

Mayor Vano Siradeghian praised those who have put their faith in Armenia by constructing such buildings. The award was accepted by Vartan Ouzounian, representative of the

: 1

London-based Tekeyan Trust. The building, which cost nearly $l million to construct, is located on Khanjian Street near the Chess House. It consists of three large exhibit halls and office space, which has already been rented out.

; :



In 1898, the Holy See of Ejmiatsin realized that the hundreds of families of migrant workers who had established homes in North America needed an organized church. Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian (also known as Khrimian Hayrig) established the Diocese, which began with parishes in just a handful of cities: New York, Boston, Lawrence, Providence, Fresno, Chicago and Philadelphia; the Diocese was based in Worcester, the city with the oldest Armenian church. There were only a few clergy available, and the funds for the mortgage of the first church in Worcester were collected by the first Primate of the Diocese, Bishop Hovsep Sarajian, who asked European Armenian communities for donations while on his way to the US via Europe. Today, as the church celebrates the Diocese's I 00th anniversary in the US, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church boasts 74 parishes. In each one, a centennial candle will burn throughout this anniversary year; the candles are in recognition of steady growth during a century of catastrophes and crises.

Primale Archbishop Khaiag Barsamian at St. Vartan's Cathedral in New York.


A I lln March '1998

HAPPY SKIES During the same week of the British Heritage Exhibit, the

first foreign airline carrier, British Mediterranean, began regular its London-Yerevan service. The agreement named Levon Travel as the Armenia representative of British Mediterranean, a subsidiary of British Airways. Britain's Ambassador to the UK, John Mitchiner, was on hand for the celebrations. Mitchiner, second from right, is seen below with Anahid Papazian and Garbis Titizian of Levon Travel, center, and representatives of Armenian Civil Aviation and British Airways.

ADDIIII|N AI UN It isn't just Azerbujan and Karabakh which keep the Armenian Mission at the UN busy. Some days, Armenia's representatives deal with the Cuban embargo; other days the agenda is made up for items the peacekeeping effort in the former Yugoslavia. Whatever's included in the business of the day, Armenia's new Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Movses Abelian has his hands full. Abelian, a mathematician who has been at Armenia's UN Mission in New York for three years. is seen above with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the day he formally presented his papers.

A GllLD MEDAT FOR GlltIIEil BEER Armenia's Kilikia Beer competed against 50 other brands produced by 26 companies throughout the CIS and

the Baltics and

came away with a gold medal.

Kilikia Light, the dark

and tasty


a welcomed honorable mention. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kocharian and beer received



Michel Legras (right) did some of their taste-testing at

own the

Abovian Beer Factory which makes Kotayk. The beer factory is now a joint venture between the French Castel company and Armenia's SIL group, owned by the famous Soukiassian brothers. Kocharian presented the Castel representatives with the first Golden Award of the Armenian Union of Industrialists and Businessmen during his visit to France in December. The Abovian factory is expected to completely satisfy the local demand for beer.


On our last trip to the village of Machkalashen in the southern part of Martuni in Karabakh, we made our usual first stops at the kindergarten and medical dispensary. We then climbed the rugged, rock-filled, mud-covered road which led to Vera and Armik's home. Armik is one of the village leaders, and his wife Vera is a school teacher. Both are university educated. Before Vera goes to her teaching job at 5:00 am, she must feed their pigs and chickens, milk the cows and set them out to pasture. Later, she will tum the milk into cheese, butter and yogurt. All this is done in a kitchen which is outdoors all-yearround. There is no plumbing, so water has to be carried to the house from a spring hundreds of yards away. Yet, despite the close proximity of farm animals, mud and lack of modern conveniences, everything is kept sparkling clean. Vera and her family eat whatever is in season or whatever they have preserved from the previous year. The only thing that is purchased is flour for baking bread. Different types of bread are baked several times a week. On the day of our visit, Vera was baking a bread I had never seen her make before. When we arrived, Vera's yard was a frenzy of activity. Her mother and sister-in-law were already hard at work preparing for the evening meal. An assortment of chickens and ducks were scrambling around in the yard, the dog was barking, and grunts were coming from the pig stall. Vera was also there, having run home from school when she heard that we had arrived. She had already changed from her school cloths into a colorful house coat. (The other women were dressed in black, in mourning for sons they had lost in the war.) The women had lit a wood fire and a thin metal sheet for baking was placed over it; her table was set up next to the fire. Vera began by dividing the dough into smaller rounds, flouring each and covering them with a damp cloth; she worked quickly. Her mother-in-law, a cheerful woman despite being bent over by age, kept the fire going, feeding it with twigs gathered from the fields. One by one, Vera rolled out the pieces ofdough into thin, round sheets. When rolled out to just the right shape, she skill-


A I flt March 1998

fully hung the sheet of dough over a dowel-like stick and then flipped it onto the red hot metal surface. Her sister-in-law finished the process by flipping the bread over and over, making sure that they cooked evenly.

"Amazed" is the only word that could describe my feelings at that moment. This was the first time I had seen anyone bake


Armenia or Karabakh. Speaking to them in said, "in America, my grandmother and mother made bread in the exact same way-on a wood fire just as you have made. We had a thin metal sheet just like that one which was only for baking this bread. In fact, we still have it, and we still make this bread. We call the metal sheet a 'sahje' and the

this bread



it, 'sahje-hatz' (hatz = bread)." Vera simply answered, "This makes me very happy!" We talked about how special this bread is to me. Growing up in New York City, baking this bread was a big event because my grandmothers had to bake it in the country, where they could make it on a wood fire. We had to wake up at 6:00 am if we wanted to eat the bread hot offthe sahje, with butter and honey. Upon hearing this, Vera ran to her storage bin and brought out honey and some of her fresh butter. The rest of the baking could wait. We ate the sahje-hatz as it should be eaten: hot right offthe sahje, dripping with butter and honey! We had no need to explain to each other what we had just experienced. It was clear what she meant when she said, "I am very happy." Until that moment, despite being Armenian, I was as much a foreigner to her as she to me; but now we had a different kind ofbond-so simple and yet so profound. It was a connection with another generation and people far beyond Vera's land, their experiences foreign to her, and yet they were people she longed to know. We made the same bread, on the same fre, using the same "sahje." We were the same people; and we were both very happy. bread baked on

Written by Carolann Najarian, M.D.

Did you know that...

in AIMENIA in AMERIGA 5 years

5 years ago


at Holy Etchmiadzin training for the priesthood.

the Diocese's '(mission parishes" (newly-formed communities) in the fI.S. numbered 6.



people have re-opened

we have 23 mission parishes

more than 100 churches. Hundreds more await clergy.

on their way to becoming

there were only 28 active churches ar:,d24 students

0un duty is clean

firll-fledged parishes.

Whatwiltthe be used Write, publish and disseminate Chri educational ma use by local




lutuFe the Centennial Endowment Fund, ion will remain intact foreuer-generating after year to fund fumenian Christian education.

The Gentennial

EndowlnelttFund an integral part of tbe ACEF


Yes, I wantto invest in

ourfuture! Enclosed is mycontribution of $


Address City




Make checks payable to the AGEF Gentennial Endoument Fund and mail to: Diocese ol the Armenian Church ol America, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016 For information call: George Kassis, Centennial Endowment Coordinator, (212) 686-0710 All contributions are tax-deductible.

Drocssr or nrrArumrrell Cuuncs orAmruce u0.uqlJnPrlnhohhL l u3n8 uubnh\u3h 630 Second Avmue, New York,

NY 10016



In Step With Democracy - March 1998  

Armenian International Magazine | In Step With Democracy - March 1998

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