Page 1

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A conversation with former ASALA member Alec Yenikomshian and Justice Commando Antranig Boghossian.





Former fighters on different sides of the political fence, now talk

about the present and the past. Also, portraits of other ASALA and JCAG members.



24 26

A thorough analysis of Armenia's and Azerbaijan's economic (and political) options.













OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND: Did you know? The Westem Diaspora's oldest Armenian schools are in

EDUCATION 33 There's one Argentinean


school in Yerevan, and seven Armenian schools in Buenos Aires.







0 AFOREGROUND new Miss Armenia has been crowned.

A Photo Essay on the different forms of faith

SOCIETY THE ARARAT HOME: It's more than a citizens' complex. It's

a center

DouBLE vrsroN rN




of community life.


How the Turks are dealing with issues of Armenian and



Turkish identity.






7 ? N


DESTINATIONS 20 AIM introduces a new section


on traditional and out-of+he way travel destinalions in Armenia.


Coven DesrcN ev Rarrr TeRpntnu; CovEB PHoro av Znveu Kuncutxtaru

3296, Manhanan Beach, CA 90266, U.S.A.

AIM MAy-JuNE 1997









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FOURTH MILLENNIUM SOCIETY A Not'forProfit, Public Benelit Corporation


Editor Salpi Haroutinian Ghazarian, left, with Alec


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nikomshia n,

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r, and

Anto Boghossian, in Boghossian's home in Yerevan.



Some of us spent a lot of energy and resources in the I 970s and 80s explaining the political violence engaged in by those who intended to avenge the still unacknowledged Turkish Genocide of Armenians.

I first

met former activists (some would call them terrorists) Alec Yenikomshian in Yerevan in 1995 and Anto Boghossian a few months later, I was pleased that they agreed to talk When

about those years and their political and psychological effect on a whole generation.

Anto and Alec are reticent about the details ofthe political acts which so changed their Iives. They are not afraid, however, of political analysis or criticism----of the past, or the present. Anto and Alec are also friends. When they speak, they are careful Io defer to each other, extremely circumspect in their analyses and particular in their choice of words. There is simultaneously a humility in the awareness that they are simple pieces in a much larger picture, and a solid self-assurance in the knowledge that they helped shape history in a way few can.

Our conversation preceded the bombing, this June, of the Turkish Embassy in Brussels. It also violent attack on the editor of a Glendale-based independent Armenian weekly. Both

preceded the

acts are so very misguided and ill-timed, and the latter so cowardly and cheap, that one wonders how their perpetralors will be judged by history.









Calls to the Editor


Besides letters to the editor, we get calls, too. One recent caller commented that the photo of the ground-breaking of the new cathedral to be built in Yerevan (Armenian Survey, Foreground, March-

ined it.

from Australia wanted to know how to subscribe to AIM without going through the trouble of drafting an Someone




April, 1997) was insufficienr. Whar's ir going to look like, he wanted to know. Here it is, at least as the architect has imag-




I i' :'It il I rf #





intemational money order. We are happy to


say that a local account has been opened by Founding Trustee Varoojan Iskenderian at Colonial State


I 3 1 8 I 68 I ) in Sydney just to make ir easy lbr our subscribers. Also, down under, but on the other side of the globe. we have a new subscriptions representative in Argentina. Actually, a whole collective olthem. The Colegio Mekhitarista has agreed to help


Bank (Acct. No.

drum up subscriptions in the 80,000-strong community of Buenos Aires. This high school is part of the linle known, yet quite old, network of Armenian day schools in that country. See Education (page 33) in this issue. Stay tuned

for more developments.





/"./.fu*r/n-' 6


Mav-JuNe 1997

GLENDALE, CA 91204, USA Telephone: (818) 246 7979 Fax (818) 246 0088



207 SOUTH ARAND BLVD. SUITE 203 GLENDALE, CA 91204, USA Tclephone: 818 . 246 7979


Armenia itself in the publication of say, The Yerevan Times? With modem com-


munication technology, this can be published simultaneously in all Armenian population centers in the world. It may not become an instant


Yerevan Bureau Coordinator GOHAR SAHAKAN

Art Director

success but


Design and Production RrrA SARKTssIAN, VAHIU StepeNtnN

Editorial Assistants Dee AvA,NessIeN, NoRA NALBANDIAN


with patience and persever-

ance, I think that apathetic Diaspora Armenians will eventually be attracted to the Armenian press and both circulation and journalistic integrity may retum to the levels of the pre-political party era of Armenian publishing.

Production and Photo Manager



Administrative Director

SrrplN KessashN Qurnrc, CaNana


Subscriptions Manager



Subscriptions Representative

Actually, there are four indepen'


Advertising MARTIN, Rlm OneruaN, MELINT






Contributors ARTASffi,S E!,flN, ARAIK GALSNAN,









INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION AND ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES ARGENTINA: Colegio Mekhitarista, Viney del Pino 35ll (1426) Buenos Aires, Phone 541 552 3690 CANADA: Rzmig Hakimim, 6695 Henri Bourassa West, Montreal, PQ, H4R 2El, Phone 514 339 2517 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Sebouh Amenagian, PO. Box 3000, Shrjah, UAE, Phone 971 6 331 361; Gulizil Jonim, P.O. Box 44564, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Phone 971 2'l'15 721, Fax 971 2 775 l9l UNITED KINGDOM: Misak Ohanim, 105,4 Milt Hill Road, Acton, London W38JR Phone 081 992 4621 ITALY: Piene Balmim, Via Morlacca, 6l A4l5, Rome, Phone 995 1235 HONG KONG: Jack Maxian, RM. 42, ll/tr, Btak A, 26 Kai Cheung Rd., Kowlmn Bay, Kowloon, Phone 852 795 9888 AUSTRALIA: Alfred Mrkarim, P.O. Box 370, Hanis Park NSW 2150 , Phone 029897 1846; Vahe Kateb P.O. Box 294, South Melboume, Victoria 3205, Phone 03- 9685-2525;

dent dailies. The Glendale, Califurnia-





The sad and appalling information that there are only three Armenian language dailies that are not aligned with a political party in the Diaspora (Bytes

on File, Jan-Feb 97) clearly


that the Armenian nation is hostage to the two political parties in the Diaspora. That is why the nation is so polarized that rational, wise and patriotic thinking becomes virtually impossible.

While most publications



world strive to increase their circulation and thus their readership by trying to offer better journalism, interesting articles and reliable reporting, the purpose of the political party-sponsored dailies and publications seems to be to cram as much party propaganda as possible down peoples'throats. They are blithely unaware that this is not only counterproductive to their own aims but also harms national interests by boring and

disgusting readers who then tum to other media for their news and information. Even more revealing in the Bytes on File statistics is the fact that two of the three non-aligned dailies are, ironi-

cally, published in Turkey. Turkey is doing something constructive in helping Armenians to have a free pressfree, that is, of Armenian political party propaganda. If Armenian political parties had


any patriotism and some vision, they

We welcome all communicafion. Although we read all letres md submissions, we ae unable to acknowledge everything we receive due to limited staffing and râ‚Źsources. Write to us! We cm be reached aTAIMAGAZINE@)AOL.COM or the traditiof,al way at AIM P.O. Box 10793

would do away with all the fragmented

Glendale, Califomia 91209-3793, or by fax, 818.246.0088, or phone, 818.246.7979. Letters to the Fiitor may be edited for publication.

dailies and unite their resources to publish one really world standard daily or semi-weekly publication for the entire Diaspora; and indeed why not include

based Nor Hayastan has been published daily since January 1994. AIM regrets the omission. The Editor $silirufis Rscofl $tnil[ht I was delighted to read about the inauguration of the Khachkar in Athens

(Underexposed, January-February 1997).

However, some vital information is missing.

As the representative of the Armenian Red Cross in Greece, I personally envisaged and negotiated with the Municipality of Athens for over a year and a half for the realization of this project.

The Khachkar was brought to Greece from Armenia on one of the retum relief flights. I organized these flights with the aid of the Greek Ministry of Defense and numerous Greek companies which gladly donated aid.

The total cost of this monument was covered by myself personally and by my family's businesses: Kalfayan Antiques and the Kalfayan Gallery of Thessaloniki. The figure :rmounted to the equivalent of US $ 14,000. I carried out the same project in Thessaloniki in October 1994, where the monument lies next to the Armenian Church and Culture Center. The reason I mention this is so that similar individual initiatives which are not the result of collective actions come to be regarded as examples for others to follow and better. G. KalravaN THessar-oNnr, GneBcg

AIM Mev-Jwe






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Patrons of the Fourth Millennium Society re committed to the well being, growth and development of Armenians and Armenia through the promotion of open discussion and the free flow of information among individuals and organizations. Their financial contributions ($1,000-$5000) support the work of the Fourth Millennium Society and ensure the independence



Jasmine Mgrdichian

Arman and Nairi Derderian

Edward and Alice Navasargian

Bodcrs Bola & Mqsic

George and Vartouhi Tavoukjian

Rafi 0urfalian

Gledrle; (818) 241-8099

Artin Etmekjian

Michael and Hermine Piranian

The Nrysand Co. 401 N. Brand Blvd. Glendalc; (818) 247'4905

100 S. Brand BIvd.

Alex Sarkissian

caltronrta Mihran and Elizabeth Agbabian Vartkes and Jean Barsam Harry and Alvart Barseghian Berj and Hera Boyalian Hagop and Violet Dakessian Ardash and Marian Derderian

Dimitri and Tamara Dimitri Steve and Lucille Estephanian Manoushag Fermanian Gagik and Knar Galstian

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Petros and Garine Taglyan

Arpiar and Hermine Janoyan

John and Rose Ketchoyan Gary and Sossi Kevorkian

Zaven and Sona Khanjian


Stepan and Erdjanik Markarian Harout and Rita Mesrobian

Shirak Boolctore & Publishing 4960 Hollirood Blvd. Hollyvood; (213) 667 - I 128

Migirdic and Ani Migirdicyan

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GYPRUS Garo Keheyan


S. GlendaleAre. Suite 106

6len&lc; (818) 590-0790 Hyc Kar Itinting 7625 White Osk Are. (8t8) 342-6624


ITA]Y Krikor and Harout lstanbulian

LEIATOil Kevork Bouladian

Walout.Hill Cam*h 1465 E. !{lalnut

Pagdeu; (818) 449-6217 Kanbalh Mat & Grmry 11747 Yiaory Blvd.


(818) 781-4411

Gamy Grxcry l{161fr Glenoalo Blvd. Clmdale; (818) 242-!240

iltGltlelx Alex Manoogiant

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IIEVADI Larry and Seda Barnes

Claddc; \818) 242-1222 Sir Dcli 1800 1/2 Hillhurt Aw. (?l 3) 665-6406


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Kevork and Satenig Karajerjian George and Grace Kay


Ralph abd Savey Tufenkian

Pierre and Alice Haig

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Abril Boolstore 5448 Santa Monie Blvd. Angels; (213) 467-9483

Joseph and Joyce Stein

Vahan and Audrey Gregor

Araxie M. Haroutinian

Glcndale Crmmunity Collegc Bmkstoe I 500 N. Vcrdugo Road Cleadalc; {81 8) 240-1000



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Bmdway Deli 508 V, Broadxay Avc. GlqdaI* t818) 243-3332

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FBIENDS OF AIM The Fourth Millennium Society is grateful to the following for contributing $10-$999 during the last month to help secure AIM's financial future. Hagop Abolakian, Australia; Edward Adourian, NJ; David Alexander, Australia; Armen & Siranoush Medzadourian, Argentina; Vahe & Nora Artinian, Australia; Vahe & Astgig Bedrossian, Australia; Kirkor Ervan, Australia; Vartkes & Madiana Evanian, Australia; Edward and Rolande Hirlian, Australia; Dickran and Vivian Fabricatorian, Australia; D. Galaustian, Australia; Asbed Janian, Australia; Roupen Kalfayan, Greece; Elise Kazanjian, CA; George & Sylvia Kebourian, Australia; H. Keoroghlanyan, Australia; Ara Ketibian, Australia; Dargh Kooymchian, Australia; H. Kouyoumdjian, Australia; Alice Lazarian, Canada; T. Levgnian, Australia; Garabed Nahabedian, Canada; Nurhan Kooper, Australia; Noubar and Jina Mazloumian, Australia; Vahe & Arsine Oshagan, Australia; A. Panikian, Australia; Avedis Meguerdich-Salmassi, Germany; Garo Setian, Australia; Krikor Tashjian, Australia: Mack Vahanian, Australia

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603 Ml Aubum Ylatct cw t; (61 7) 9?4-3399

M*sir Bakery 569 Mt. Aubum (6 17) 9X4-O537


Sm Bakery 598 Mt. Aubum (617) 924-3213


NAASR 395 Concord Avenuc (61 7) 489-1610


Armcnian Libnry and Mwm of Amcrio 65 Main Stret Vaterom Sqmrc; (617) 926-2562





During the coldest and harshest winters of 1992 anr AIEX fashion design center in Yerevan was i source of sunshine. In November 1992 and again in Marcl 1993, AIM described fhe business started by Irina anr Andrei Milman which creates modem styles. and sell 1993, the

them to private clients and to the fashion industry. Today, Atex ernploys 25 people who sit in fully com puterized oftices and create designs using such programs a

Photoshop and lllustrator. "We are also trying to develop a database of possiblr partners and customers fbr the Armenian fashion industrl because no serious work can be accomplished without good marketing approach," says Milman. "This is why w



z z

have set up a technical assistance company, the Stepl


Foundation, which consults and markets for all fields in thr


light industry sector. Through rraining. technical suppor and promotion campaigns, the foundation will assist thr Armenian fashion industry to enter intemational markets.'

The ltalian statue "hands offriendship" stands in the center ofYerevan. But in 1973, thejokr in Yerevan was, take out hands, and replace thern with feet-Ararat forward lrvon Ishtoyan's feet 'l'he Ararat Soccer Tearn's golden years began that year when Armenia took the Sovie Championship. and the Soviet Union Cup, fbr the tirst time. In the last minute, lrvon Ishtoyar scored a goal to tie up the garne. and then shot another during the second over-time to win the cup Anncnians, almost all of whom ire socccr fanatics, likened the victory to the "euphoria of inde pcndence." Atier all, thc game was played in Moscow, the winner was the smallest of the Sovie Union's 15 republics, and the def'eated team was the unbeatable Dynamo Kiev. Ishtoyan's namr became a household word, and Annenia and Armenians were on the front pages. People still reurember that exciternent and equate it with the 21-yer-old who made those his toric goals. Ishtoyan who had also played on the all-Soviet team, played with Ararat for a total o nine years, through 1979. Then, he coached youth teilms, and they won, too. From 1984 to 198( he was Ararat's assistant coach. When he came to the US in 1988, a start-up Armenian team ir


Khojali (Xojali) Learn more about the bloody Khojali massacre in the war-tom Karabakh region of Azerbaijan Republic!

Los Angeles didn't succeed eurd he's been out of the sport ever since. Now, he lives in Glendale, with his wife and two children, iurd has no connections to the gam( with which his naure (and f'eet) are still associated. "I'm happy to have done my part to pu Anrrenia on the nrap," he says.



When the Gennan writer Armin Wegnr

A description of the Khojali events (l992.1viewed by theAzeri and interrrational media. An Obvious effort is placed in showing the Armenians as the aggressors and distorting the political and historical

died in Rome in May 1978, at the age of 92,h lefi behind a lare historic photo archive. At the outbreak of the first World Wa Wegner, a Doctor of Law, enrolled as a volur tary nurse, and was decorated with the Iro Cross. In April, 1915, fbllowing the militar


UPSIDE Many articles and documents from international media and agencies.

alliance o1'Germany and Turkey, he was sent t

the Middle East as a member of the Germa Sanitary Corps. Eluding the strict orders of th

DOWNSIDE No historical or political context; no discussion

of the Karabakh cont'lict

TYPICAL QUOTE "Arbitrary and extrajudicial executions and rttass shootings". Bv Ane Cuouurer





I t )Z


authorities, Wegner collected notes! docuntentl correspondence and hundreds of photographs i

Amrenian deportation camps. In later years, Wegner became an activ

mcurber of pacifist and anti-rnilitary move menls. He published sevcral important appeal

Atex gaments seems to be inspired by oriental styles. "As a fashion designer, this is one of the reasons I work in Armenia, which is like a crosspoint between the East and the West." Besides the design firm. the Ukrainian couple


also operates a fashion design school, a dance

school for children, and a small modeling school.

Number of consortia competing for the right to build Turkey's first nuclear plant: 3 Cost of project: US$

2.5 billion

Percentage of Turkey's labor force made up of children:


z z




Number of people injured in car accidents in Armenia since 1986: 14,9 I 0 Number k1lled:4,692 Percentage increase


in Armenia:

1996 over 1995


Value of damages caused by accidents as percentage of GNP of Armenia: 1


9,000 in the early 1970s: 500

Armenian population of the Netherlands today: Armenian population of the Netherlands

Volume of Armenia-Egypt trade and cooperation:US$

I .5 million

Number of US companies with the word "millennium" in their titles: Number of Armenian companies: 1

In for the rights of the Armenian people, and even testified in defense of ARF member



1959, number by which Azerbaijanis outnumbered Armenians

in the USSR:


In 1989, number by which Armenians were outnumbered: 2.2 million

Soghomon Tehlirian, who was accused of assassinating Turkish Prime Minister Talaat Pasha.

Wegner's Images and Testimonies has appeared as a bilingual (Italian-English) book, following a series of photo exhibi-

tions throughout Europe. The book and exhibitions are the work of ItalianArmenian writer Pietro Kuciukian. Also on tour was Antranik Kochar's photo of Wegner himself (left) at the Genocide Memorial Monument in Yerevan.

Percentage of Armenians in Nakhichev an

in l9l7: 40

Percentage of Armenians in Nakhichev an


Percentage of Armenians in Karabakh in

l9B: 94.4


Percentage of Armenians in Karabakh in 1g7g: 7




Armenpress, Gha-ra-bagh, Info-Turk, Lragir. Azg


MAY-JuNE 1997



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,1p 'ffi W ew squgglet kh.ffines sye* more pronounced , This 1ear, tk anniversry of dre liberaticn of Shu*ri carne at a time rtkn

non-hiiinanitarisn aid 00 4,Fprhij*n, arr$ecia and Ka$beh irave not twr it was firslpaswd lrt 1990.

Azerbaijan's rigst

Ehere ia no doubt that American oil companies are as interested in


the US govemnrcnt was teking an even greater interest in *re outoome of tire l(mbakh conflict. Since ttre Usbon summh in Decernber 1996. when all OscErnembers but Armenia clroee to give


tenitorial integrity prec*nce

over Karab*kh: Anrre*ians' right to self-&tEr" minariorl the US, Ruesia and fhance, the three cochair of the

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welcomed by Prime Minister Robert Kocharian (below, left). She stated that the state of Israel wishes to establish and solidify relations with Armenia. Kocharian refleced that the economic progress of Israel is a proof that even under unfavorable conditions, positive results can be attained.

Prime Minister Robert Kocharian

chaired the first Armenia-Diaspora Commission meeting on May 19. Present at the meeting were the minis-

ters of foreign affairs, education, culture, sports and the executive director of the Hayastan Armenia Fund. The commission will invite the participation and cooperation ol Diaspora organizations and individuals to together forge a framework within which to plan seminars and roundtable discussions. Kocharian emphasized the importance of developing an organizational mechanism to coordinate relations between the two entities.

The second Miss Armenia Beauty Pageant was held in Yerevan in MaY,

and the winner was

Angelina l8-year-old from Ejmiatsin. She takes the crown from Karine Khachatrian who became Miss Armenia in April 1996. The contest is sponsored each year by the Armenian Chamber Theater Society and its director Ara Yemjagian. The prominent presence of over 20 businesses was quite visible. They participated in this year's contest by choosing their own miss Armenia and giving

Babajanian (above),


them gifts.


Khakhami (below, right)

Israel's ambassador to Armenia


During aMay 27 press conference, heads of Armenia's and Ukraine's the

parliaments, Babken Ararktsian and Alexander Morozee, stressed that there to the further development of relations between their two countries. Morozee met with President are no obstacles


Petrosian, Prime Minister

of Foreign Arzoumanian.

Kocharian, and Minister

Affairs Alexander

Focusing on NAIO-Russian relations,

Morozee repeated that in Ukraine's judgment, NAIO's eastward expasion is an uncalculated step. Ararktsian indicated that NAIO's eastward expansion concerns Armenia too, since she is a neighbor of NATO member Turkey. At the same time, the open border between

Turkey and Azerbaijan


Armenia which lies between these two. Nonetheless, Armenia must hope that the benefits of eastward expansion shall outweigh the risk of land connection.

Aside from political, military and economic concems, Armenia is also preoccupied with environmental problems. Especially for a small, landlocked country, with limited natural resources, environmental safety and the population's health are very important.

Armenia's First Deputy Foreign

Minister Vartan


addressed these and other themes at a

Special Session

of the

UN General

Assembly in late June.

Called the Earth Summit, the member states of the UN discussed the inextricably linked environmental and

of today's world. Oskanian specifically mentioned the special status of Lake Sevan, which is al once the region's largesl reservoir of fresh water, and the country's single largest source of hydroelectric power.

developmental concerns


MAY-JuN.E 1997



How is it that you came toArmenia?

AY I was in ASALA until the end of 1982. Then, I left, for many reasons. It was quite a complicated period. I lived underground for almost l0 years, away from everyone, from family, everyone, because of intemal ASALA problems. My life was

in danger. By 1993, those issues no longer existed, so I was able to come out into the open. I came to Armenia for the first time in 1995. I came back for a few months in 1996, and then, moved permanently. When did you come out and begin to use your real name? AB: From the time I was arrested until I was released, I used the name Harutiun kvonian. I became Antranig again after I retumed to Beirut. Does the fact that you two former activists, arc here now, together, mean

that you have somehow rejected or regretted the ideals which moved you to do what you did as former ASALA and

JCAG members, and which defined you as opponents? That you've changed your minds? AY Anto's being a member of the ARF and my being a formerASALA member has not given rise to any ideological problems. I don't believe that our earlier beliefs (and not just earlier, they are still valid) have been put aside in order for us to have a relationship today. But of course, individual character has a great role to play here. The character of Anto, the man, could have been something else. AB: I agree that it is those same human characteristics which have caused our relationship to grow and develop. I do have a particular problem or reservation with those members of the ASALA who still maintain their support of that fratricidal period when people lost their lives due to political differences. Some very close personal friends of mine were victims of that violence. But, Alec is not among those who advocated such actions or believed that that bloody path was the correct one. He was not a participant in those acts. As for the ASALA. I am of two minds. I feel positively about that wing of ASALA which czrried out certain political acts, and

negatively about the other faction which carried out acts which I don't believe served the Armenian Cause. Alec, too, is of the opinion that such acts did not benefit the Cause. And so, in both cases, there is no obstacle to Alec's and my relationship. You asked about regret? I have never

had occasion to experience feelings of regret regarding our past activities. Perhaps because ofthe nature ofthe acts, the speci-

ficity of the targets involved, never over the years have we had cause to reflect and regret.

You have had certain political reservations about how your close rcla' tionship today may be perceived. AB: Yes, I have had such reservations. [n Soviet Armenia, there seemed to have been a deliberate propaganda effort


ascribe all political military acts to

ASALA. In some peoplers mind, there is also the perception that perhaps that old


of views and approaches

between the two camps was a facade, a set-up, that these two militant groups really were govemed from one center. MY concem is that here in Armenia, and in the Diaspor4 our coming together this way, publicly, will raise all sorts of new questions. People may think that perhaps this is the new expression of an old cozy rela' tionship, or ttrat this is the expression of

discontent with

our individual


That's why perhaps it is worth repeating that the past is past. It is a fact that disagreements existed, but it is also a fact that after Armenia's independence, after we settled here, our views regarding today's realities are not in contradiction with our

past. Today's problems are new, the approaches are new.

AY It's really pretty silly if people suspect that these acts in the past were directed from one center. Without analyzing andjudging ttre past, I just want to say I had very serious reservations about the path chosen and certain acts carried out by the organization [ASALA] of which I was

in the past. I also had my reseruations about the strategy of the other organization UCAGI. I think that the fact that the two of us are here together today, without any complexes, and not just for the first time, is predicated more by individual values. Our past actions, of course, are a parl of who we ale. Although we respect the past , that doesn't mean that our friendship means 100 percent endorsement of the past. By the same token. complete disdain of the past would probably preclude a prul

the possibility



of our getting


respect Anto as an individual. I

with many of them. Others I disagree with and I think that is quite natural.

respect his opinions, and agree

I think many people will wonder not simply whether you regret espousing the ideologies which you supported in the past, trut generally, whether you regret having personally participated in those events. After all, they have so fundamentally affected your lives in every way, physically and psychologically. AY: We have never even spoken about such regret. because neither of us has f'elt that regret. Of course, not regretting is one thing. It is another thing to think about the past, wonder about those events. And people do that even if they do not find themselves in our physical situation. It is also possible that our coming together is somewhat subconsciously also influenced by the fact that we have both been permanently physically affected.

I don't believe that's of our friendship.

Nevertheless, main basis


AIM Mav-JuNe






What are your ties to other former activists? For example, did either of you know Monte? AB: I met Monte for the first time in l,ebanon. Circumstances took us in different directions. Then, we met again here. We didn't have the opportunity to develop a relationship. AY I met Monte when he came to



1978. 1979 we had become close friends. We shared, to a very large extent, a coffrmon assessment of the Lebanon

armed stmggle of the 70s and 80s. Our personal direct contact was cut off in the mid 1980s when we both had to go underground. We managed to reestablish indirect contact in the early 90s. One of my



just fine, but emotionally, we would

would deal with problems.


unable to live elsewhere. Many don't want to see this. They think, "He wouldn't have been able to live here, he wouldn't have been able to physically, and that's why it's

easier to live in Armenia." They think Armenia is all green pastures.

don't use those words, they think so at some level. If someone doesn't understand or share our inner world, then it's obvious

Who thinks so, people in Armenia or in the Diaspora?

AB: No, the Armenian population knows better. AY The people here are surprised, and ask why we've come. AB: But I think they more quickly acknowledge that "if you love your country, this is where you must live." We are speaking about the majority, of course, who know the value and taste of this land. due to physical disability, but cultural

to announce this out loud. This is a natur-

adaptation, too?

Please talk about the mental and

physical accommodations and adaptations you have had to make to live in this society. AB: First we try not to pay attention to the difficulties, to minimize the biggest issues, so that it doesn't mentally affect us.

And I think we largely succeed. That does-

n't mean there are no difficulties, but you accept what you must, and change what you can. What society does in that regard? Not much, and it can't. It has other con-



I don't have many

t elol



expectations of


be a great problem. Unlike Anto, I must rely on others to get from place to place, but that hasn't been a problem.

What can you say about the

impression. But in 1988, that process lasted longer. Perhaps the explanation is that only once in each century is it possible to generate such a reaction. Or, perhaps, the solutions did come quickly. There were so

that such a move seems hard to understand. But I know that I must listen to my inner self. I can only live here. I don't need

al continuation of living a life based on your beliefs. Your land must be under your feet.

lived for


our contemporary



long time in isolation, so I can't really give you objective assessment. I don't find it to

created the democratic movement. AB: In 1988, this people demonstrated certain political sawy. Yet, recently, there has been occasion wonder whether our people, by nature, demands quick solutions and is not open to longterm struggle. It's as if, if we have to take to the streets, then the problem must find a solution in five days. If five becomes fifteen, they are not with you. That's my

lives are, for lack of a better word, per-

AB: Family and friends, even if



can't answer because it's hard to compare how someone else in my condition here

ofdeveloping a civil potity during these last several years? This was after all the highly politicized mass that

tary actions, the actions themselves, the

people say you're crazy to

As to physical



time you spent imprisoned. Yet, your



be an irreconcilable difference.

that I am different and it will take perhaps a lifetime to blend in, but I don't find that to be a problem.

this last l0 years. Yet I haven't read any detailed reports anywhere about your lives today, or your past experience$- the months before your mili-

move here?


There is also the perception from the outside about us and others like us who have come here to live, that we would be unable to "make it" elsewhere-financially and in other ways. We would have been able to work and live outside Armenia,

by all means, most powerful period of his life-in Karabakh. You have each t'come out" during

major issue.



regrets has been not having had the chance to personally witness the most fruitful and,

haps the most "interesting" period of pre-independence history. Has no one asked? There simply has not been the opportunity? Or, you don't feel the need to tell? AY Personally, I don't see this as a


What about adapting-not just

AY If you come with the understanding that this is a different place, a different country, with different realities, then adapting should not be difficult. We should not idealize this country, and transform it to a dreamland. If we do that, of course, adaptation will be hard. But if we know about the soviet period, the earthquake and its effects, the Karabakh conflict and its effects, and the seemingly unsolvable complicated situations they have created, then it is easierto accommodate to these surroundings. I know also that there are differences between the generations bom and raised here, and we, westemArmenians. But I don't find that to

many issues


resolve and so many

opportunities to register successes. Nayirit must be shut down. It was shut down. That was a shot in the arm to carry on another I 5 days, to shut down the nuclear plant, or

have some other success. Today, there is

only one issue to resolve: the issue of political power in Armenia. And the people's nature is such that they cannot enter into a long-term struggle. As a result, no political force is capable of carrying the people.

AY I don't think it's enough to say that a people are politicized. Discontent and complaints are quite visible, but the movement to do something about that discontent has been absent. A civil society

two things: demands of the authorities, and at the same time, willingness to participate. In other words a citizen understands that he has rights and responsibilities. These two aspects have not sufassumes

ficiently developed yet in people's thinking to be able to say that a civil society exists. There are expressions of discontent, but that is not enough. The political engagement which the people demonstrat-

ed in the late 1980s assumed a certain awareness of responsibility, which was demonstrated again during the September

presidential elections. But, then, that died down. According to the offrcial results of the elections, 46 percent expressed their disapproval ofthe authorities (42 voted for Vazgen Manukian and six for Sergei Badalian). That was nevertheless a good shock to many, myself included. Yet the expression stopped there. Responsibility doesn't necessarily mean taking to the streets. It's m understar.rding of civic duty, which is still absent. This isn't just the authorities' problem. lt's also society's problem, the problem of a missing potitical culture and political thinking and

tion would take on political significance. Isn't there a lack ofawareness that one has the power to make changewhether in one's building, or in the political process. It's that cycle oflack of


AB: We must be realistic enough to realize that a society or an individual, anywhere on eafth, living within a system that is not healthy, will naturally not perform

his duties. The problem is with those in power.

AY There

is ofcourse the problem


power. But the problem is not only power.

One cannot speak


power without

speaking of society--a society of which it is a reflection. I agree that there is a probArmenia. as in many lem of power


My point about civic responsibility is that responsibility is not simply toward the govemment. Civic other countries.

responsibiliry includes of course responsi-

bility toward the govemment, but it

also means responsibility toward oneself and

toward society. Not being indifferent regarding small, local issues, neighborhood issues that citizens can resolve themselves. These small, local successes can be transformed into political responsibility, and become the beginning of pressure on the authorities. haven't seen this yet. There are lots of complaints, but no participation. Even when there is participation, there is an intermediary. Sometimes that's natural, a political party, for example. But at the sarne time, it's possible, and in my opinion, it's preferable, that the sim-


plest, most "grass-roots" level pressure groups be organized. Also, some of the political issues are so complex and replete with implications, that sometimes it is hard to take a stand, knowing that a people's fate is at stake,

such as,


example the issue of

Karabakh. That is why, if people took an interest in immediate issues which hold no fatal significance--neither Karabakh, nor the country's future-and came together, got organized, formed a "democracies de

bas" the simplest, most basic form of


society tried to become organized at that level, both the awareness would increase, and the active participa-


would be more understanding of


No, forgive me. But that's not not saying that there should not be demands of the govemment, or expressions ofdiscontent. But I am saying at the

same difficult economic and social circumstances, if it could see that the goveming elite, those in positions of power, are not living in significantly different conditions. If the ordinary citizen could see that there are people who are concemed about the conditions of "everyman", then they would be much more tolerant. There is a polarization which exists in society, and which nobody denies. The problems will never completely disappear. Comrption will always exist everywhere,

time. there needs to be this other

those on top are always everywhere better

kind of participation and involvement and

off. But the polarization, the plainly

confidence and perception of powerlessness that must be broken. AB: What Alec says is an ideal political state.


so. I am


responsibility. resulting



demonstrated extreme differences must be

which bring about empowerment and further, more sophisticated political involve-

done away with. Where is the opposition in all this?


Why hasn't it succeeded in constructively channeling the frustration, the

AB: I would love to develop to a point when my neighbor also teLkes responsibility tbr this building. But I am afraid we don't have the time to reach all the population layers and make them stand up. On the other hand, the authorities, those in power, only number several hundred, and if they demonstrate understanding and awareness. there is a grealer chance that such attitudes and work styles can trickle down. AY Yes, of course. the two are not exclusive. The example from above will hlter down. AB: No. there is no contradiction. It's

:ffi:L ^


of which can happen

What concrete steps can the authorities tak-and the opposition, as well-to open the channels of dialogue and participation? AB: The country is in dire economic straits; the war is still brewing, the blockade is still on. We know all that. But there is a factor which doesn't help the process of rapprochement between people and authorities. And that is, that at a time when the people have no other source of flnancial survival but business and trade (since the factories and other sources of standard employment are out), there is a layer of the powerful who are endowed with monopolies, and there is the pool miserable man on the street, who has no access or opportunity. Those in or near positions of power

have amazing powers and opponunities, yet the people have no access. On the contmry the regular person faces awful, forbidding taxes and regulations and other obstacles to running a successful business. Maybe we shouldn't even expect this govemment to be so generous and selfless. AY believe that the population


helplessness, the complaints and dissat-

isfaction? What caused the political vio-

lence which followed the September elections?

AY I honestly don't know. To some extent, again, it's a reflection ofthe people's emotional, moral situation. Who will make the call to gather and protest? Who will go? Perhaps emother reason is that the opposition has no social layers to work with. There are no social layers left. Academics? Intellectuals? Professionals? Small merchants? The categories don't exisl any longer. There are no groupings to work with, to espouse, to represent. That's why political forces have frequently come to represent themselves and a tiny circle around them. AB: Again, it's a combination of the absence of a tradition of taking responsibility, the expectation of quick solutions, and the unwillingness to risk much. Therefore, the opposition has a hard time getting the millions of discontented to follow, because those same discontented people are also not willing to invest time and energy into the effort, to sacrifice to meet an objective. Perhaps this is what led to the September 25 events. Perhaps the leadership sensed that these people have to

be kept constantly engaged through new developments, those same demonstrators may not come back tomorrow. That need for action is what resulted in the hasty confrontation, the rushing of the Parliament building, on September 25. Of course, there were also the intentional actions of the authorities that also contributed to that confrontation. It wasn't the people's will, or the mob alone which caused that day's

events. The situation was ripe with unknowable surprises, and in that situaAIM Mev-JuNe

199'7 121

tion, the authorities speeded up

the advance on the parliament. The authorities accelerated the mob's actions. Those same guards who were inside the iron fence could have more easily stopped the people, by firing into the air before the people stormed the fence. The water-spray truck could have come earlier and sprayed water on the people before the iron railings fell. Neither happened.

Ifthe government had resorted to those actions earlier, wouldnrt it have been accused of disrupting the crowd as it exercised its right to protest? AB: Who justified the tanks entering the city the next day? They knew that it was natural that those people, a mob if that's what they called it, would push into the parliament. But what was the explanation the next day, when inside the parliament, the parliamentarians who were under no pressure, not in a passionate mob environment, dressed in suits and ties, began to beat each other up.

What was the

that unofficial rejection of my citizenship inquiries. Until then, quite simply, I was in Armenia illegally. Obviously, in spite of all these problems, you are here. What can be done to increase the numbers of people of our generation living here, in order for quantity to begin to have a qualita-

tive effect on processes and circumstances? has do with the citizenship issue. It

Tho world watehed on television a.s anti-terorist police commandos stormed the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Lisbon. where an explosion

with individual motivation,

just hours earlier had killed a diplomat's wife, a

AY much to

I don't believe this matter

has more to do

patriotism, interest

up and




there were dual citizenship,

know. Nevertheless. even under these circumstances, still would have applied. Why haven't I applied-for two reasons. One, not to be rejected, and second, not to place the authorities in a difficult predicament, especially in light of the govemment's position regarding theARF. I asked unofficially and was unolficially discouraged from applying. I haven't applied, because for me the important thing was to come here and live here. Applying for citizenship is



a long and blurry process that it would have created complications, and such

perhaps even prevented my living here legally. I would want to be a citizen of Armenia, but because it's currently a complex process, I haven't bothered to apply.

So much for a personal


However, citizenship is one of the issues

in the Armenia-Diaspora

relationship which needs to be looked at. When that relationship is better defined, the citizen-

will be clearer. AB: The temporary solution is the

participating in

Armenia's life, in helping create a normal society. People can come here just to feel good about being here, or to start a business. Those regulations exist. The opportunities are there. Armenia has to continue to work on these opportunities and make them easier. At the same time, we have to see how real and sincere has been the 60. 70 years of patriotic talk in the Diaspora. That's not to say that everyone will pick

explanation then? Which was the bigger

would you apply? AB: Of course. For us, this degree of re.iection, or fear, is hard to understand. I tind it pointless. If there are matters of concem, they could have been resolved. Obstacles could have been placed if necessary and dual citizenship made hard, but still possible. Why they don't, I don't



policeman-and the


young LebaneseArmenians who had shot their way into the building on July 27, 1983.

come. That's not realistic. it should have been in

numhrs. In any

case, it's not pos-

sible to blame one side and say not

offering citizenship, or making it easy for Diasporans to come here and live and work, without seeing what the interest and commitment is on the other side. A lot has become clear during these recent years about the Diaspora, and the propaganda of the last decades. This is when we are faced with the reality of an Armenia, a Karabakh; this is when we have to deliver. And Armenia, loo, as a country still has much to do to become the state it wants to become. To what degree the Armenian polity and govemment are able and prepared to take on the responsi-

bility to think nationally, we shall see. Both Armenia and Diaspora are faced


challenges. Neither has come through completely honorably, in my opinion.

AB: Yes, both were not able to stand tall. The Diaspora, with its concems, cut off from the realities, needed this experience against which to be judged. It was the same here, in the homeland, too. Neither

was able to match its calling. That does not mean this is the final realitv and that more can not be expected. BY SALPI





The five members of the Armenian Revolutiorary Army (a name used by the ARF affiliated Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocidel--Setrak Ajemian, 19, Ara Kerjelian. 20, Sad<is Apraharnian, 21, Simon Yahneyan, 2l and Vatche Daghlian. l*--had left behind a videotape in which they had &scribed tlreir planned action, and its reassns, "Wb have decided to blow up this building


remain under the collapse. This is not suicide, but rather our sacrifie to ttre altar of


Nazar Daghlian, 73-year-old father of Vatehe Daghlian, spoke with irn ,{.ssociated hess reporter just days afterthe eveng from his home in Beirut. "Ood Bless you my son," he said, "I would do the same now to avenge the deattr of my family of whom 84 were the Ottomans during'the Armenian Gerlocide,of I915."'

ship issue too

lO-year residency, which I was given after





TheASALAs Yazken Sislian headed the Yan Cqnrnando, which in Seprember I98l organized a

hostage+aking at the Twkish Embassy in Pads. It was an operation which made theASAlAquite popular among Armenians and gamered it much support. Sislian was sentenced to seven yeam in prison.

Armenian community. Extemally successful in

When he came out, he rejoined his family in Lebanon, and worked with the ASALA s political

with ASALA strategy which they felt would deter it liom

arm. the Popular Movement. He has lived in Armenia since 1990, is married, and says, "I am tired of politics. The only thing I want is to help my govemment."

the Armenian



ASALA fighters



Extreme intemal tension continued until a schism, led by

Monte Melkonian the day after the



ASALA took

Mardirrrs Jamgotchian shot a Turkish diplo mat in Geneva in June 1981. His arrest was the cause of increased anti-Swiss activities by the ASALA to obtain his release. This strategy. which had worked with Yenikomshian's relea*e earlier, was not effective. and Jamgotchian remained in pnison for

credit for a bombing at Paris's


tional authorities, fell into

morale was high because I was determined to stay alive," he remembers. "I leamed much

chronic alcoholism. He died in Athens in April, 1988, probably executed by his last companions in arms. His widow appeam to



in prison-computer skills, languages, for example." Upon his release, he came to Armenia, and went straight to Karabakh to fight. He also

Orly airport.

ln the end, Hagopian. by the majority of his friends and suppor"ters, and wanted by the intema-


hold much ASALA



Monte Melkonian, whose public

role began as an ASALA member, died in June 1993, at age 35, as a

ists. Later, he became an assis-

tant to Vazgen Sargsian, then State Minister for Security and



leader in Karabakh.


He joined ASALA in 1980 (the same year Alec Yenikomshian). By then, he had written a

Even today, the greatest


mystery surrounds the man who, before degenerating into as

megalomania and tyranny, appeared to be the longfinrc lea&r of the ASALA. Following Palestinian fradi-





for the Univenity of California at Berkeley (published in 1995 in

tion, Iraqi bom

Yerevan), traveled fte

name "Hagop Hagopian"

wor{4 Ieamed nearly a dozen language*,

Minas Hovanessian chose ttre code

after his family emigrated to

and had made contact with various liberation


Haddad, chief of tlre Special Organizations Bralrch


the PFLP, an extemist organization directed by George Habbash. Hagopian is described as a tough, authoritarian leadec a non-scrupulous killer, yet a charismatic leader, "shrewd as a monkey". The Palestinians had baptized him El Mujahed, the warrior. Although he spoke very littleArmenian, he was



oflgage the young men




konically, he was responsible both for

increasing ASALA membership


enhancing its political and military activities,

well as its split. He did not agree with the ideological direction of its leader, and relrted the extremist, violent actions which did nodring to aid the cause of genocide recogni tion. Melkonian remains one of the few, if nd the ordy activist of tratfuadewlopub lished his thoughts and writings as a window




1990, after his release from French prison where he had been held on charges of using a false passport and itlegal hand gun, and headed straight for Karabakh, where he is credited with introducing discipline among untrained troops, and confidence within a weary and isolated populace. When he died in June, over 100,000 citizens of Armeni4 Karabzrkh and the Diaspora formed his funeral procession. The region of Karabakh. which he helped defend, Martuni, has been renamed

arrived in Armenia

convoys and foreign joumal-

The circr.unstances which brought him to the Palestinian Resistance are unclear, however, he rapidly proved himself in the organization of Wadhi

temporary Armenian history. Further, Melkonian was indeed one of the few fortunate soldiers who were able to change banle-

fields-from the Diaspora to the homeland.


accompanied humanitarian

what colleagues described

to a still little-known and understood period of con-

Monteaberd. When Hampig Sassounian was arested in l,os Angeles, in January 1982, and accused of assassinating the Turkish Consul General in that large metropolian city with a huge Armenian population, JCAG took credit for the act. Sassounian was charged with first degree murder. but pled innocent. Throughout the lengthy and costly trial, and successive appeals, tlrcARF community has stood try the case. Sassounian has maintained his innocence. yet has remained vocal about the Armenian cause. The appeal process continues 15 years later. The most recsnt rejection by ttre Califomia Supreme Court came after its two Armenian members abstained from voting. A previous appeal by community members to then-Govemor George Deukmejian, late in his last teffil, went unanswered, to the dismay of many leaders who had signed on to the effort.

Srcrlm{Ts Fh.oM NouvELLES o'Anuexre, Th.ANSLATED By


AIM Mev-JuNe






z z

During a May visit to Armenia, Georgian President Edvard Shevardnadze (above. left) discussed Georgian economic and political policies and goals as they relate to Armenia and the region. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the general level of production in Georgia, yet stressed that the geographical region of Javakhk, which is heavily Armenian populated and which was a focus of President Levon Ter Petrossian's Georgia visit, has great potential for economic growth. This is evident from the construction of roads, schools and residential areas in an atmosphere of peace. Specifically of interest in Javakhk is the building of new water ways and westward moving rail systems which would enhance economic growth in the area. Shevardnadze also pointed to Georgia's dependence on Azerbaijan for various things, including the fact that Azerbaijan lies on the "silk route" and friendly relations are significant to Georgia's economic revitalization. Shevardnadze stressed that such relations should not make Armenia nervous.

Telman Ter Petrossian, the older brother of President Levon Ter Petrossian and a major advocate of Armenia-Turkey trade development passed away at the age of 60 on May 20. He had managed to

bring together under one umbrella the industrial labor force and influential members of Armenia's business

At an international conf'erence on transportation attended by the Black Sea Economic Cooperation possibilites

of creation and development


trade routes via the European Transportation

Web were explored. Representing Armenia were the Deputy Minister of Transportation Ashot Shahnazarian, and Armenian Railroad Director Vladimir Asreiants. Of the ten possible corridors suggested, fbur have positive direct impact on Armenia's economic interest.

The second Armenian-Egyptian intergovernmental committee met in Cairo in mid-May. The Armenian delegation met with Egyptian officials in the ministries




Tourism, War, Industry, as well as officials of the Central Bank. Two agreements were signed between Armenian State TV and Radio and the Egyptian Radio and TV Company. The participants also agreed to cooperate in the

of science, geology, transport, trade,water resources, and construction.


Despite closed borders between Armenia and Turkey, an agreement has

been signed between Armenian and Syrian officials to inaugurate a bus route from Armenia to Aleppo, Syria, via Georgia and Turkey. The first convoy is scheduled to start immediately.

circles.He was also instrumental in help-

ing enhance Armenian-Iranian trade during the first years of independence.

24 I AIM Mev-JuNe 1997

Swedish ambassador


Hierdmann (opposite page, above, second from left) met with Prime Minister

: 3


t Kocharian (above, right) in mid-May and noted that since his last visit, there have been significant changes which are indicative of economic develop-



Armenia. He of'fbred to

encourage such efforts by organizing lr visit Swedish companies and investors. Kocharian discussed the need to address the preparation of a tax system, which not only would broaden the state's income base but would also encourage foreign investment.



of nine German

firms along with a representative of the ministry of economy visited Armenia.

They met with the representatives of a number of factories and examined possihilities of cooperation. The visitors were particularly interested in the electrical sector, meteorology. chemical production, construction of roads. granite and marble quarries, product packaging, telecommunications and minerals. Armenia's Economic Development and Investment PPP A-tency signed an a-qreement with the Germans according to which both sides would engage in bilateral assistance in developing and

improving economic and trade relations. This agreement also incltrdes training staff and consulting.

The World Bank hrs approved a Sl5 million loan for reconstruction of roads within Armenia. according to World Bank's Armenia Representative Vahram Nersissiants. The same amount was -Eiven in 1996, with the expectation that a private firm from Kuwait would match the amount to complete the joh. That did not happen, and the World Bank agreed to loan the remainder of the sum to continue the reconstruction effort so critical for Armenia's economic infrastructure.

The continuing devaluation of Dram seems to have ceased with dollar rate stabilizing around


the the


to the dollar.

For administrative reasons, as well to facilitate economic policy planning and implementation. several ministries were mer-ped into one. Minister of Trade and Industry Garnik Nanagulian ttlok on


the new "monster ministry" which z

includes industry and parts of the functions of the former ministry of economy. Armen Darbinian left the Centrnl Bank and became Minister of Finance and Economy. Levon Barkhudarian. former-




Finance. (left)


bccomc a presidential ndvisor.







fiEI Fmp Fmmeg$ Two geographical factors exert a preponderant influence on Armenia's long term viability: Its location and the

neither wool nor dyes. If this convoluted Stalinist strategy to create dependency among the republics could not

distribution of petroleum resources in the area. Most people who have been following Armenia's painful but brave progress toward democracy and free

prevent the breakup of the Union, it did make it much more painful. Just like other CIS countries, Armenia has faced severe difficulties converting its economy. But to the extent that it was more dependent on

market capitalism are aware of these urifortunate realities. Obvious as their political and economic implications might seem, a thorough analysis cah still yield unexpected conclusions. As is obvious, Armenia is too small and too poor in natural resources to support a domestic economy that can satisfy all the consumption needs of its people. Recourse to substantial

trade than others, its post-independence problems are greater. Thus, when the markets for its finished and intermediate products were disrupted and consequently its imports had to be


curtailed, its economy took a nose dive. More than might be realized, Armenia's economic base had to be rebuilt from alinost scratch.

During Soviet times, Armenia had one of the highest levels of inter-republican trade. In 1988, the last year for

many problems, the most important of which will be reviewed briefly here.

imports and exports are

which comprehensive Soviet statistics are available, Armenia's exports, as a percentage of its total production, amounted to 28 percent. This level of exports, shared with Moldova, was the highest in the Union. Armenia's imports as a percentage of its aggregate consumption amounted to 29 perceni, also, along with those of Estonia

and Tajikistan, the highest in the Union. In other words, Armenia's economy. more than most other

republics', was highly integrated in the Union, particularly since a large proportion of its trade was not in finished goods but in intermediate goods (partly finished goods). Of course, this was not typical of Armenia alone. It was a

of the planners in make the constituenl

conscious policy




of the Soviet Union

locked grip; comparative advantage played no role in what the republics produced. For example, Armenia produced synthetic tires though it had no petroleum, and Moldova produced rugs though it had



in an economic tight


In trying to rebuild, Armenia faces

First, and the most obvious, is the need

for capital to purchase

and upgrade its

the promise of adequate exports, otherwise these loans will dry up. Its balance of payments, the balance of foreign receipts and outlays, will continue to be in deficit leading to serious problems such as inflation, depreciation of the dram, and eventually imposition of


Another reason why export trade is essential for Armenia is that sorhe goods unavoidably have to have foreign content either in the form of raw


or intermediate goods. As a

simple example, cigarettes are easy to manufacture in Armenia, but tobacco has to be imported. As another example, rugs can be woven in Armenia, but wool and some dyes have to be imported. In addition, Armenia will continue to import significant amounts of natur-

al gas and petroleum. Both of


kinds of imports require export earnings to pay for them. It is for this reason that so far investmenls in Armenia

capital equipment. The source of this capital cannot be solely domestic savings because there are hardly any under the present dire conditions. The savings of the population were wiped

MacDonald's, the Pizza Hut, the Coca Cola plant, etc., are for the domestic market. They do little to develop an

oul when

export sector.


the ruble depreciated in value

have been

at a modest scale.


almost nothing. And current incomes in general are hardly suffi-

It is a fact that there are no selfsufficient countries in the world. Far

cient to meet basic necessities. To be sure, there are today high income groups of citizens who do save and

Armenia find it necessary to import and export goods and services to raise

invest, but in general and considering

that the government is rtinning


deficit in its current accouht, the coun-

try in the aggregate is dissaving, i.e. incurring indebtedness. Capital has to come from foreign sources in the form of joint ventures. direct foreign investment, official government loans, grants and donations, and remittances of relatives. The major part of these monies are loans which have to be repaid with interest at some

time in the future. But in order to repatriate these funds, Armenia has to have

larger and richer countries


the standard of living of their people. For example, the ratio of foreign trade of the U.S. to its gross domestic product (GDP) was 26 percent in 1996; for Korea in 1992, it was 59; for Thailand, 88; for Israel, 76; and for Lebanon in 1982,90 percent. Parenthetically, Armenia has been lately experiencing "a brain drain". Many of its scientists and entrepreneuring workers have been emigrating

to other countries, particularly to the former socialist republics. One may view this movement as follows:






Armenia is unable to export goods and services made by its scientists and

economists. Development economists do not have clear answers to many

workers, therefore it exports the scientists and workers themselves. It is generally agreed that this kind of export cannot be tolerated.

For example, What specific policies should a country adopt to hasten its economic development? By what

So far the principal problem that Armenia faces in rebuilding its econo-

my is identified as lack of

capital which is mostly to come from foreign sources. The lack of capital, in turn, is a consequence of the fiustration that potential investors face in the search for export markets for Armenian-produced goods. Armenia's pre-independence export industry is only of marginal help in deciding what to produce for export now. Another factor that seems to explain investors' reluctance to invest in Armenia is the blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey. It is obvious

that there can be no exports and imports if the routes in and out of Armenia are closed or risky. And it is equally obvious that not much transportation of merchandise can take place by air, particularly for bulky goods.



transportation through Azerbaijan were to be possible, much

will depend on the nature of the peace settlement: how grudgingly it is entered into and how limited it is.

Georgia's intemal instability will also last for many years and goods des-

tined to Armenia (including natural gas) or from Armenia

will remain


ject to the hazards of civil unrest. The road connection recently established with Iran allows a substantial volume of goods to flow into Armenia and a trickle to flow out, but this is not likely to become the primary means of Armenia's international trade, because of the great distance involved. The distance between Armenia and the Persian

Gulf port of Bandar Bushehr exceeds 700 miles over poor roads. The distance via Tehran to the same port but on slightly better roads exceeds 1000 miles. Transit trade will not be cheap. Moreover, this trade will be passing through (Iranian) Azeri territory, and therefore it is possible that one day it will become hostage to Iran's internal politics. Apart from the obvious problem of transportation bottlenecks which inhibit investment in Armenia, there is a different set of problems which until recently used to perplex development

seemingly straightforward questions.

process did the Pacific Rim countries (Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, for example) choose the products for their export trade? Can the government or

anybody else

for that matter Pick a

product that is a sure winner? Can anyone tell what Armenia would be pro-

ducing for export five years hence? These are not easy questions to answer,


they can be answered at all. Right it can be stated definitively that low wages have nothing to do with the answers. They have more to do with relative productivity. That is reassuring for Armenia which has no away, however,

cheap labor.

Without going into the various


ple would be unleashed to


impressive productivity gains. Whether they do so by producing goods that successfully compete with imports, or that conquer new foreign markets, or both, cannot be known in advance. It is a matter of time before

the cumulativc increases in GDP will raise real wages and the standard of living of the population. [t is impossible to tell whether this transfbrmation will take place within 10 years or 20, but one can be fairly optimistic that economic development would proceed along a firm course. As a matter of

fact, Armenia has already


impressive progress towards an open economy.

Yet, alas, there is a difference in the case of Armenia. So long as peace is not established in the region, the difficulty of moving goods to where the markets are and bringing in raw mate-

countries, most notably India and some

rials and other manufacturing inputs would cause investors to be reluctant

African nations, undertook

to invest in Armenia.

experiments which some developing


the decades of the fifties, sixties and even seventies, which ended in total failure, it is now generally agreed that laissez

faire is the best policy. Those who are specialists in development economics know of no surer and faster way. No

central planning,

or a

system of

exchange controls, or protection of any sort, has been demonstrated to work in

practice. Left to themselves, enterprises, entrepreneurs and ordinary folks are able in an environment of freedom

from government interference to be productive and competitive in the domestic and international arenas. Economic agents are fully capable of responding efficiently to the incentives that they encounter in the market.

Governments can only distort these incentives or create opportunities for corruption or inefficient behavior. This is the most important lesson that the Asian Tigers have taught us. It is this approach to rapid devel-

opment that the World Bank and the

International Monetary Fund (IMF) have espoused and are preaching nowadays to all the CIS countries and

Everything seems to depend on the kind of peace that will eventually reign in the region. Liberalization of the economy is necessary but not suffi-

cient. Even if fortune were once to smile on

Armenia and current exploration for

petroleum were to yield major discoveries, homes may well be heated to the point where windows can be left open in winter, streets will be lit all nightlong as they used to be, and cars may

of their moth-balls and driven until congestion and pollution be taken out

set a limit on driving, but, the standard of living of the population will almost certainly not rise to the pre-independence level.

Armenia has to produce new

goods for export; the previous kinds of export goods will not do any more.

if it cannot export, it cannot import. But of course, to the extent that petroleum products will not have to be imported, Armenia does not have to export as much as before and that is an obvious benefit. It thus appears that Armenia faces And

other developing countries of the

an uncertain future, until there is

world. Al1 forms of protection, high taxes, differential tariffs, government ownership of enterprises, price controls, monetary manipulation, and for-

peace settlement.

eign exchange controls should

be swept away. By liberalizing the economy, the energies and talents of the peo-


But, peace can have many forms. peace that is

At one end, there is a

nothing more than a temporary cessa-

tion of hostilities interrupted by occasional fighting. This will not do. A better peace is one under which Armenia

AIM MAY-JuNE 1997 127

and Azerbaijan formally foreswear fighting and commit themselves to seek a solution by negotiation. At present, the cessation ol fighting, while negotiations under OSCE auspices are conducted, might represent this kind of peace, especially as both presidents occasionally declare that

the day and will be ready eventually to settle the score with Armenia. However, if peace beyond a mere cessation of hostilities is denied to

Azerbaijan, then the rational choice facing Azerbaijan would be a clear but tough one: Either try to retrieve

the barren real estate that


they have no intention to resort to fighting to settle their differences. At the other extreme is a peace


based on a formal treaty that covers all outstanding issues. Ideally, such a

companies will invest in developing its oil resources upon concluding a

Mountainous Karabakh and avoid


peace selllement with Armenia. or try

realize the billions thar the oil

treaty will allow free movement of people and goods across all borders.

peace of sorts with Armenia. If Azerbaijan's leaders approach their

This last kind of peace would be

choices rationally one would expect that they would opt for the oil rather

of immense benefit to Armenia-not merely because of the lifting of the Azeri and Turkish blockades, or the foreign investments that will hopefully begin to flow into Armenia, or because of any royalty receipts from any pipeline that might traverse Armenia.

With free movement of people and goods. Armeniuns can engage in

economic activities throughout the entire region, participating in the huge petroleum-based economy that



Karabakh. The status of

Karabakh, the refugees, Shushi, and

Lachin would take second place. They represent no more than a psychological hurdle. Armenia should let Azerbaijan know in no uncertain terms that the price lor its lucrative future is a com-

prehensive peace settlement with Armenia. Occasional incidents along the border will unavoidably occur, as

they do today, reminders


will arise around the Caspian Sea basin. Those who think that


Armenians and Azelis can never work together again after what hap-

scale fighting cannot be ruled out. With Karabakh's national aspirations


in Sumgait and Baku should

ref-lect on how the bitter enemies of World War II became friends in just a

few years.

It may appear as if Azerbaijan is in no hurry to conclude any kind of peace. Azerbaijan's top priority is to get the foreign oil companies to begin

to invest in earnest in exploring, drilling, developing and transporting its oil. So far, the agreements with oil companies worth billions of dollars have been so much pieces of paper. Only relatively token expenditures have taken place. Capital and political unrest do not mix. If the current cessation of hostilities were solidiI-ied so thut the oil companies can take courage and begin to invest, Azerbaijan would have no compelling interest in rushing into a comprehensive peace settlement. Once there is real expectation that fighting will not flare up, time will run in Azerbaijan's favor. As its vast petroleum resources are utilized, its revenues will increase beyond imagination. It will get stronger by 28 / AIM MAY-JUNE I997

Azerbaijan and the oil companies that

of the conflict into full

unfulfilled, it is unreasonable to to prevail in the

The second and far more important reason is that Armenia has the power

to hold up the development of oil. The huge invest-


ments by the international oil compa-

nies in Azerbaijan cannot take place without Armenia's cooperation. All Aliyev needs to induce the oil companies to sink their billions is to assure them of peace and stability in

the region. Every declaration

by President Ter Petrossian that Armenia will not start hostilities is sweet music to Aliyev's ears. Armenia is a partner in the peace process. It takes

two to ensure peace. Without Armenia's help, there can be no oil money. Aliyev should not forget this simple truth. The vision of the Armenian government for the future of Armenia in a peaceful world should be nothing less than full participation for its cit-

izens in the oil economy of the region. A vision that inspires appropriate actions in a complex and dangerous world is the mark of leadership. Statesmanship is to see clearly where the nation should be heading; to give in where it does not matter

and stand lirm where it does. Diplomacy is to make clear to Azerbaijan the benefits of rational calculation and the avoidance of

expect real peace

undue emotionalism.


It would be tragic if Armenia's leaders were to allow Armenia to become a mere spectator while its

But once the oil companies become entrenched in Azerbaijan, they

will make

sure that Azerbaijan is

fully capable of defending itself against all potential enemies. After all, it would be their investment now that they want to protect. For many

oil companies supplied military trainers and hardware for some of the Arab gulf states. They will do the same for Azerbaijan. decades, the

Given that Armenia's interests lie

in obtaining a comprehensive peace seltlement that allows its citizens to engage freely in any economic activity in the region, the next question is,

Would Azerbaijan have any inlerest in allowing Armenia to profit in this way lrom its oil? The answer is yes for two reasons. The first one is that Armenia's profit is also Azerbaijan's by Armenians would accrue equally to Azeris. We are talking here about the

profit. The value created



wealth, not



neighbors enrich themselves from the

oil of the Caspian. It is unfortunate that oil politics has robbed Armenia of friends that it can count on to promote its interests. if friends there can be among states. Only the weak asks fbr fairness and justice; the strong cl

aims interests and


Armenia has nothing but its wits to guide it. Armenia's leaders should take a lesson from its chess players.

if necessary, be willing to make taclicul compromises to They should,

achieve the long-term goal described above. With the right vision for the

future, they can affbrd to be


flexible than they have been so far. By VARTKEs Bnoussalles BnousseLIaru, AN ECoNoMIsr, ls A coNSULTANT

wHo LIVES IN C,llrrontte.




Fast foocl has arrived in Yerevan-

changing the culinary landscape. The

Hamburger Heaven. Armenian Burritos, Smack. Pizta, meal on a stick are served thst

menu is simple-burgers, fries (nredi-

call it what you will,

and hearty in eateries that crowd the Yerevan streets and sidcwalks. hawking everything fiom "Reel Americakan Hamburkers" to Dolma to Go. Still a new concept in Armenia,

tum size

only) and sofi drinks


Cola. Fanta as well as Bjni and Jerrruk mineral waters), the food is cheap

(hanrburger. f ies and drink lilr 350 Dram: ckruble cheeseburger. fiies and drink fbr 1500 Dram), the potatoes are thr tastier. the sol't-serve ice creanr is





r,iiilir:tffi }#lif ;it};ii}fi


S$.iiH*ffii$ffi ffi Sffi

America in Yerevan. Situated opposite Kino Rossiya, across the street from the huge bazaar

which sells only packaged, largely

imported fbodstufti, next to the site for

the yet-to-be built cathedral, church,

Queen Burger's neon and day-glo purple design does not make it a cultural landmark. Ah, capitalism. There are other

burger joints. SIS BURGER, on Koriun St., has a cheese burger for 650

Dram, fries for




BURGER, in the same





fare for the same

price. BISTRO, on Abovian St.,

serves spicy hamburgers and hot dogs. MAX


on St., serves burgers,


(was anything "fast" in the old days'l),

exactly what to call thcse establishments is Lrnder debate. Yerevan still separates rcstaurants (lbrmal sit-down af1airs) front caf6s (which ntay or ntay

not serve hot meals) and bistros (sit

down. stand up, take out, eat in-it's hot. it's there. and it's usually fiist). "Fast Food Restaurant" is an oxy-

moron to the average YereVan resident. still conditioned to the old days when restaurants were where one waitcd and waited while surly stafT sat idly by and sipped tea, or where one was plesented with menus dripping with indecipher-

sweet and clelicioLrs. the service is det'even outdoes the golden arches-stafT even take

initely fast and



orclcrs at your tablc.

The buns arc a litrle bland. rhe

pickles are in a pre-picklecl cucumber stagc'. and like rnost f'ast-firod. everything should be e aten while hot. but all in all, Queen Burger is not a bad imitation ol the real thing. Queen Burger is in the nrce lirr thc cleunest eatery in town. with a gleanting stainless steel kitchen and scurrying stafT mopping

fiies. sandwiches. Pizza Di Pizza:


First to bring in the pizzeria craze

Yerevan was DOKA PIZZA on

Sayat Nova St. Thick on crust, thin on cheese and sauce, many like it, because at 95-1200 Dram a Doka Pizza fills an

empty stomach. The king of pizzas in

Yerevan, however, is PIZZA DI ROMA. which has built two caf6s in Yerevan. The first is near Queen Burger and Kino Rossiya on Tigran Metz Ave., and the second is a newly,

able dishes (ancl a little grease tiom the

kitchen). not a single one of which was available. except fbr rhe party at the next tableThose restaurants are long gone, and the situation today is, Thank God. much improved. Yet, many restaurants are quite expensive and a typical meal fbr two can run to $30 or ntore. The fast fbod places have come to the rescue. More cafds. bistros and f ood stands opened in the last six months than in the previous five years combined. There are so many of them that one cannot say that Yerevan's international conrnrunity is the client base firr these new enterprises. They cater to the demanding diner in everyone: we want it cheap. we want it filling. ancl we want it now. Hamhurger Heaven: QUEEN BURGER has inrroduced

the Mac attack


Yerevan. lorever

30 I nln,4 MAy-JUNE 1997

floors and wiping tables on a continual



small playground of tough

plastic toys outside the restaurant com-


the picture-a little taste of

tastefully designed site on Old

Abovian St., just off Republic Square. Both serve pizzas costing between 900-1500 Dram, Italian and grill dish-



street opposite Pizza Di Roma, near Queen Burger. Khachapuri to go is at

Bravo, the Greenwich village style grocery store on Terian St. The Piroshkis at the Kino Rossiya bazaar and the Armenian Hamburgers at the Sports Stadium bazaar just can't be beat.

After Dinner-how about some shant?

Everyone notes the huge increase

of Yerevan cafe's. But the even larger numbers of ice cream stands are taken for granted-perhaps because ice cream is such a staple of in the number

Yerevan summers. There are more than

100 stands in central Yerevan alone, within a square mile, all of them sell-

ing imported ice cream in cones, ice cream bars, even ice cream versions of Snickers and Mars bars (500-1000 es up to 2500 Dram. Toppings go


the simple cheese and then


cheese, to the Supreme




mushrooms. peppers. onions.

and delicious fresh tomatoes. A good indication of the quality of these sites

are the regular visits by dedicated Italian expatriates who troop in to have a go at thick doughy crusts ladled with sauce and toppings. Arguably the best pizza east of the Italian boot. Right next door to Pizza Di Roma is AMBER which serves quite good pizzafor 400-1500 Dram, spaghetti for

1450-3000 Dram. GOHAR.

hot dog or hamburger, they're

attractive-and recyclable. They


real cream, and at 200 Dram you just can't help it. When you've finished

with Shant, try Tamara. BY RICK NEY

Pnoros ev



too. The best Chebureki is on the side


Isahakian St., has pizza and spaghetti for up to 2500 Dram. Very tasty, and a good break from khorovadz. EAT AND RUN Smak was the original attempt at a "stand-up, grab a bite" place that New Yorkers depend on for lunch. Without a grill, Smak's sandwiches (between

200 and 600 Dram) are all

Dram each). Absolutely the best, however, is Shant, prepared locally by a Yerevan dairy. The packaging is new,

Cheburekis (deep fried again, but flat round breads with spicy meat or greens inside, iust roll it and eat, 100 Dram), Khachapuri (the Georgian version of the Armenian beoreg, with cheeseincredible taste at 250-400 Dram) and Shashlik (slivers of grilled mutton and greens in a small pocket bread, 200250 Dram). Of course if you want a




combinations of ham, cheese, salami, and the omnipresent cucumbers. But the french fries-the french fries are not cold. They're delicious and hot, and the

with a little mayonnaise (for

or catsup (for the rest of us) they're delicious. Smak is in the center of town, on Abovian Street, near a metro stop, and a bookstore, and a park. Grab your lunch and go for a Europeans)

Please. transfer the


amount of


Outdoor food stands all over Yerevan offer the cheapest and the most filling food. If you're concerned about sanitary conditions, one look at the stand and the preparer will either

reassure you or send you walking. If you decide to stay, rarely will you drop

more than 500 Dram for a meal of spicy Armenian hamburgers (150-250 Dram), piroshkis (deep fried pockets of dough with potato or ground meat

filling, 50-100 Dram),



. Tel. (if

Pasport Nor Beneficiary bank lsB



Armenia any) (3742)

Armenia; Swift Code INJS AM 22



Fax: +(374 2)58 06 28' Phone Fax: +(374 2) 56 59 74 Telex: (64) 243 287 inco su' E-mail:



MAY-JuNE 1997


A WAKE.UP CALL FOR ARMENIAN AMERICANS. u.s. CONGRESS: DON'T SELL our KARABAGH FoR oIL. Here is what the Woshington Post exposed on July 6,1997 "The last great oil rush of the 20th century...has lured a prestigious group of former high-ranking (U.5.) government fficials...two former nqtional secttrity advisers, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniei Brzezinski; former LVhite House chief of staff John N. Sununu; Defense Secretary Richard C. Cheney and Secretary of State James B. Baker III; and...Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen." "The involvement of these heavy weights has escalated an intense lobbying and public relations campaign in l{ashington. American oil companies hope to ease restrictions on (J.5. aid to Azerbaijan. " "American oil company executives say Azerbaiian officials have hinted that as long as fficial (/.5. policy continues...they might favor (non-U.5.) oil companies. " " Led by Amoco and Pennzoil, u.S. oil companies and their supporters in Congress are mobilizing."

TUB WurrE HousE CuRnrus Flvon

Wlrn Baxu

The Clinton Administration is selling out to Azerbaijani strongman Haidar Aliyev when he visits the White House on August I . Aliyev will dangle billions more in oil contracts while demanding an end to U.S. sanctions against his country as he continues to blockade Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.

Brc Orr. Is THrnsry Fon Nrw Dunls wrrH Ar,rvnv Western oil companies have already signed contracts worth $8 billion with Azerbaijan and are hungry for more. At Aliyev's request, U.S. oil companies are lobbying Congress against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.

Blcxuo Bv Brc Orl, Blxu


Azerbaijan has used every weapon in its arsenal to seize Nagorno Karabagh and banish its Armenian population - pogroms, mass expulsion, bombardments, blockades, and a failed attempt at military conquest. Billions more in Azerbaijani oil profits are the next weapon strongman Aliyev will use to secure his dominion overNagorno Karabagh. When Aliyev believes Armenians have been abandoned by America, he will invade Karabagh again, and Armenia will face a new genocide.

AnMBNr,c, AND KARABAGH Nmo Ar-r, Or Us ro Acr Now! Congress, not Aliyev, should decide U.S. policy. But Congress needs to hear from you NOW.


& Armenian National Committee of America





ii;::iri;\,-tt;t=t'ir.:::lil Rl ll ni,tr\t


0ul ol $luhl,0ul ol ll|lind Angentina Has the We$tenn lliaspona's 0ldest Netwonk ' F, realize th&t the Ar.menian daily schools in Buenos Aires arc the oldest of their kind in the Western Diaspora. From the t9?0js to the'1950s, ihey werc silnply part-time institutions wherd ortly Armerlian-was taught. lYjth tle incoption nf the Mekhitarist School in 1956, the old system evolved into a full-time network which incluJed tbe Argentinean educational curriculum. =A key differenee fiom the athercornmunities irr the'West is that nince the 1960s, it has relied on itselfto rrain teaehers. The persistent Argentinean economic crisis has had a severe impact on the communjty, despite the existence of a very visible layer of succrssful businessmen and philanthropists. Traditional furrding ptoblems have'only becorce bigger and ths help of affluent individuals.ic no longer enough to sover shottages, All schoals are in ssious tmuble,io r.nake ends mset. Ther.e are other spcific problems, too. Klrrimian, the mo$t importani school until the mid-80's. has suffered a dramatic drop ir,,quality, and errro,llment as aresult of soiial mobility'and intonal troubler. Both a dpcrease in the number of Armenians in the Southem:suburbs,'S traditisnal zo*e of influence, a,s wpll as seriour infernblparty quarrels have'resulted in a drop in


r:r I ..


A change in the distribution of Armenians in Buenos Aires has also riterea *a enrollment nnilbers of hrs small schools, Arznrni. altd: BackCheEjan-both in the working class southem pan of the city. Both St. Gregory the llluminator and Marie Mffioagi&rE loeatod:one in fio* of the ot*wr--*e rs$t$a$t ef thC old,bi ttenome quarret days--create a dishearten ing dupl icity. '" ffip.......pnte tr"opez:Afueniah scheol, ta *e northem suburbs, hasiq deill s..ith xhe *aditional od. wdtien with Err$tish schools.

ol Anmenian Schools

Ttro h{ekhitacist Schsol has a waiting list, but it was the first to begin accepting non-Armenians tong ago. Indeed. St. Gregory aside,the o*rer schools opened their

to non-Armenian students as a means lo increase enrollrnsflt. Third-ger:eration Argentinean-Armenian children still attend Armenian schools; yet the so-called "opening to the


(Argentinean) community" which is happening while the whole concept of Armenian education fs being shaken, will prove crucial to the future.

Generational changes, a1oss of ethnic identity and the wilh what is fashionable lrave all contributed to shary cuts in the,time available to teach Armenian subjects. English language or computer science classes are gaining need to go along

favor. especially

in the face of a failure to


Amrenian-language teaching methodologies, as well as a significant letreat in the number of Ararenian spe.aknrs. Cenain *ubj+ct*, suci as Affnenien history,,are aow taught in Spanish. in an ettenlpt to more eflbctively reach high school studenti. The advent of an independent Armenia as a leading f*ctor' in ethnic awareness. has also challenged the foundationi of the whole Daspora: it has also led to a series of misconceptions

about the pivotal role of schools in the Armenian experience in

Argentina-and the rest of the Diaspora. As a result. the role of language and education as basic tools in the building and devet{:pment of an


nenian idertlity in Argerttina *ie at stake,

.::. MertossteN ts A


VhKL4rtr MATIo$stAI{




HE r-rves lN Burnos Alnns.

The Armenian community


Argentina numbers 80,000. There are seven Armenian day schools



Aires--and they've been around for over half a century. This makes this communi-

ty's educational institutions the Westem Diaspora's oldest. Whereas only recently


California have the children of

Armenian school graduates begun attendz s

ing Armenian schools, in Argentina, this


has been going on for lwo generations.

t z





MAY-JuNE 1997 133



The largest of Buenos


schools is the St. Gregory the Illuminator School. with 500 students. It's located on-where else-Armenia


kindergarten and elementary school came two years later.

Today, the student enrollment is Although Armenian language classes are

Illuminator Church. It was founded in 1934 as a parttime school with 150 students, and

obligatory for all students, Armenian section chair Rosita Balian expresses

sistently fluctuates between 2,000 and

long." The school's 58 teachers are partialfunded by the Argentinean government, which pays 80 percent of the salaries of the 40 teachers who teach non-Armenian subjects.




1956, the Mekhitarian

Diaspora schools of Europe and the Americas, but their funding sources are

School of Buenos Aires has 320 students, of whom 20 percent are non-

no different. Philanthropists made possible the construction and expansion of St. Gregory School.


But here, the philanthropists did more. Hajian explains that in response to inquiry about what kind of gift could benefit all Armenian schools, a philanthropist agreed to fund a teachers'institute, which operated from 1988 to 1993.,N as -? an

in I930 by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, is in a Buenos Aires suburb. It became a full day-school in 1963 and follows the official curriculum. Of




taught Armenian subjects concurrently with the official Spanish curriculum, and thus was the first Armenian school to be accepted by the Argentinean Ministry of Education.

At Mekhitarian, too, the concern is


are non-Armenian.

Since there isn't a minimum

From the first days, the school

an adjunct to St. { Gregory's and trained _? 20 Armenian language, literature and history teachers who now work

Until then, what we teach about Armenia is quite abstract to them." The Khrimian School. established

concern that students' speaking skills are always the weakest. "We solve this problem by planning annual trips to Armenia. The students work and save for these trips all year


The Armenian schools of Argentina may be older than the remaining

iil#S#,,Hiti,;i::,;l,;,iii-diir $;:::ir,,.l;

292-tw<l of whom are non-Armenian.

Boulevard, next to the St. Gregory the

became a full day-school in 1961. High school was added in 1967. The school's enrollment has held fairly steady over the last several years, registering neither a growth nor a loss. Principal Bedros Hajian notes that while the total number of school-age Armenian children in Buenos Aires is around 8,000, Armenian school enrollment con-





dents per classroom, the government doesn't contribute to the school budget. Here, too, the graduating class travels to Europe and Armenia. Before making the personal acquaintances, however. students have internet access to news from Armenia, and study Armenian current and civic affairs.

Vicente Lopez Armenian School began in 1962 as a kindergarten with five stu-

! f

at the various communi-

dents. Today, it goes through the secondary level, with 189 students. ofwhom I I are non-

ty schools.




Principal Christine

came after the genocide,

and again, after the Second World War,"

jects, as required by

explains Hajian. "When

we ran out of


explains that graduating students are given comprehensive exams in various sublaw,


including Armenian. "This, at

made Armenian teach-

first, created some concern

ers, we were forced to train specialists locally." The most important

thing to be

among those who thought we would lose students who don't consider Armenian so important and would be afraid of the


according to Hajian, is ethnic awareness. "If our students really want to learn Armenian, they will have to look toward Armenia and Ejmiatsin. If we fail in pointing them in that direction, then the Armenian school loses its meaning."

to solidify

students' Iinks with the

Armenian language. What used to be tra-

ditional school tours to the Mekhitarian island of San Lazzaro in Venice, have now expanded and go by way of Yerevan.

The School's elementary Principal



the street from St.

Gregory is the AGBU Marie Manoogian School. It was established in 1974 as a high school only. The 34 / AIM Mev-JuNe


Armenian test. But our stupositively."

dents have reacted very

Taking into consideration the added

of the Argentina-BrazilUruguay-Paraguay Common Market, importance

the school is considering adding Portuguese as a subject offering, to make

of the Armenian section Adriana

the students more competitive

Chubaralian says, "After students see

regional market.

Armenia. their enthusiasm for the language and the culture grows immensely.



The Ardzruni School, established


':i. :;

next to the Holy Cross Church



began as an all-day school and continues the same way. It only goes through the elementary grades and has 200 students, half of whom are not Armenian. "But those students," explains principal Varteni Arakelian, "have the option of attending Armenian classes. We had two

wonderful students who went on to


Gregory's, who would write April



;..s. 6i*,i

, .3Sl

like this: We Armenians must strive for the whole world to know about the





There are plans to expand the school into the first three high school grades.

!I I


The Bakhchejian School, too, suffers from a lack of Armenian enrollment. Less

than one-third

of its 234 students


Armenian. "When students don't want to leam Armenian. the parents say the language isn't important for them, either." The 26-year-old school includes the elementary grades only, and perhaps for that reason, together with the Ardzruni and St. Gregory Schools has planned to develop a common Armenian texthook. All the schools suffer from the same



In Buenos Aires, aside from the seven Armenian day schools, there is also the Argenfino-Armenio School. a

public school funded by


Arzoumanian Foundation. Siranush Medzadourian is president, and her husband Armen is the vice-pre*ident of the foundation named for Siranush's brother Boghos. At this school, Armenian culture is sprinkled throughout the curriculum. Argentine students even celebrate May 28 with a special concert.

says Hasmik Ter-Harutunian, "Ard I'm very happy." Of course, Ter-Harutunian's daughter is also learning Russian, as well as science. math. art and humanities. The Medzadourians are pleased

with the school's stability and


Now there is a second biculrurat school also sponsored by. the Arzoumanian Foundation This one is in Yerevan. Until 1992, it used to be known as the Kamo school, flflmed for the :Communist revolutionary hero. Today, there is a statue of another hero*Argentinean

liberator General Jose *Iartin at


problems experienced elsewhere in the westem Diaspora-an absence of adequate Armenian language textbooks, a lack of supplementary teaching materials, and a need for continuing teacher education possibilities. So much for teachers' problems. The parents have problems, too. Is Armenian language as important as English language instruction? Do you take time away from one to allow for the other? Are students falling behind by attending Armenian school?

The answers in Argentina are


clearer than anywhere else. BY Ar.rcE




The expanded and renovated building now houses 700 students in l? classrooms. ,The school is as any other Yerevan .schoollby its pr ncipal, v'ico-


principals and department headp.


ansver$ to the education rninisht,



But it does have.* miqne relatienship with tlrc Annffiriil eoltirrunity of

'rTlrtg imperative today. is the growth. and

Argentina, explains Principal Lilia Sarukhanian. Individuals visiting

prosperity of. the horneland. Armenia

Yerevan come to the school and make

esdli Arrneniaa. Towards ihis end, the Arzoumanian Foundation fulfills its own responsibilities.,,by iupporfing theeffotts of the homeland, in every way possible,

specific donations.,,of'equipment or money; *rere are

pl*ts for


excha*ge programs with Argentinean schools and a cornputer lab,3ut that's something trhat cm just rlour be tackled; since electricity has only been consistently availalle since May of this year. Still, neighborhood parents are very pleased with the ichool's offerings. "My $eY',,,sftf,s*f"old &rtgftter leatns not iust one, but trx,o foreigfl lgngu4gen here,'l

needs thg asristanoo and cooperation


,within our meafl$. Spon oring the tstabIishment of the Argentinean Republic School wae oui walt-of helping Armenia, whilereinforc ing the. Armenia-Argentiaa Iinks,",says Armen Mpdzadourian. BY DANH.OHANIAN


MAY-JuNE 1991




i . .: :..,i :: a::r::a:.




# E

F-r w

@ F E


/AIM MN'Jt rr.


At thc Dt-nver Sr.rnrnrit ol'thc Eight, Prcsirlcnts Clinton. Ye ltsin ancl Chirac (abovc) signcc statenrcnl callin-9 on Arnrenia, Karabakh and Azcrbaijan to colrc to a rcsolution of thc Karaba conl'lict. This carrc.just a f-ew u,ccks uller the three co-chainrcn ol the Minsk Group arrivcd in t rcgion to rlrivc honrc thc poirrt that thr- intcrnationiil conrrlunity is ilrtcrcste(l in a solution. ancl Ia LiS [-]ndr:rsecrctary ol State Strobe Tall.rott (bclow" right, signing agrecrnents with Al'nrenii Foreign MinistcrAlcrarrder-Arzourtranian, let't. cluring Arzor.unanian's LIS visit in March) had s:r that the tlS will continuc its activc involvcrnent in convincin-g thc sirlcs 1o allivc itt un ilgteL-trel A stillenrcnt by thc three presiclenls during the l)envcr Surnnrit was arlple cvitlcncc thal t Karabakh topic is on thc internationul conrrnunity's fitnt burner'.$,.:lYA.E:r1----------------i:::--::,:51611,1*l






lffiJr$ffi a!===.,-=;arswii{w,Hti$l@llf


lllffi vz|]:+Lll

ue to express personal opinions about the potential benefits of closer alliance with Russia, to the chagrin of some westem observers.

The newly elected president of the

Islamic Republic Despite still tense and inconsistent

relations between Russia


Azerbaijan, trade between the two countries is on the upswing. There are

various major unresolved issues between the two, including use of Russian waterways, certain blocked transportation routes and different perspectives



oil exploitation.

Nevertheless, an early July meeting between presidents Aliev and Yeltsin is expected to resolve some ofthese problems.

It started out as a potential union between Russia and Belarus. But by late March, the deepening of ties had

stretched to



Kazakhstan, as well. The responses of other former soviet republics differs to this not quite formal union among neighbors. Ukrainian President Leonid

Kuchma, for example,



about the possible integration between Russia and Belarus, especially following meetings between the two presidents to work on details of the charter on integration. Armenia, on the other hand. olficially dismisses interest in such integration. There has not been, however, a vocal debate to dispel questions, fears or even hopes among the population at the possibility of such a union. Some high-level officials contin-

of lran,

Mohammad Khatami,


is seen as the

possible leader of a movement in Iran to moderate its approach to the West. Such

a rapprochement would bode well for Armenia, too. Its current friendly relations with Iran are sometimes a sore point with American officials.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl will have a new daughter-in-law. But this is not simply a family affair any longer, since the new bride is Elis Sozen, of Turkish ancestry and Germany's own

"minority problem" has been with its large Turkish community. And he has in-

law problems, too. The bride's parents are none too happy, either.

AIM Mey-JuNe 1997



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fr n 1949, a group of Armenians fr filed Articles of Incorporation II with the Secretary of State under the name the Los Angeles Home for Armenian Aged. These


undoubtedly never imagined that their modest six-bed board and care facility would, half a century later, become an

institution capable

of handling 368

elderly residents plus another 238 under skilled nursing care.

emphasizes Reverend Hagop Janbazian, Administrator for Ararat Home Board and Care. "This is a generation that suffered everything, from genocide to communism-they deserve the best in their later years." Arthur Arutian, chairman of the

Board of Trustees, says the non-profit Ararat Home is "the only facility of its

kind in the world and more of a com-


mid-day event, and sell out.

But all of this isn't just financially motivated. To Arutian, it is essential that the elderly be integrated with the community at large, and one way to do

that is to invite


world in by making the Mission Hills complex available for a variety of events.

in 1960 was located just west of was renamed Ararat

downtown Los Angeles. in of the old city, where a sizeable Armenian community lived. Building

That also

the heart


relieve the stigma suffered by rest homes.

additions over the years

won't hesitate to

brought its resident capacity to a total of 80. But it was in the 1980s that shrewd business moves led to two key



that there is a negative connotation to the term

'rest home'.


Armenians this often

purchases-a facility in Eagle Rock and a 10.5-acre parcel of land in Mission

implies neglect," sighs Janbazian. "People

imagine dirty rooms, inadequate food; so much so that children

helped enable

Ararat Home to become not just a model complex for the retired, but a unique community institution about which everyone has only

people pass through these halls on any

good things to say.

given weekend," he notes, describing

"All kinds of Armenians, from different backgrounds and religions come

how weddings are held at the Eskijian Chapel, with receptions afterwards in the Deukmejian Grand Ballroom. The

together, and all of a sudden, all differa gregarious group of people who have come together with a common aim: that is to ences are forgotten. You have

make the home a success and give retired Armenians a beautiful place,"

munity center. Upwards of a thousand

chapel is named for named for Luther Eskijian whose collection of ancient coins, tapestries and documents is now housed in this facility. The ballroom's

says Seda Marootian, one of dozens of

no introduction: California Governor George

dedicated community members who


volunteer to help Ararat. The home's landscaped gardens, attractive stucco buildings, and picturesque courtyards are much more than a pretty facade: they are testimony to the philosophy that older people deserve to live in dignified surroundings rather than in depressing, bland institutions. The home not only boasts a board-and-care facility, a 99-bed skilled nursing facility (with a 97-bed addition

currently under construction), but

ffi l

set in stone for all time. Then, there are the legendary monthly luncheons. No where else in metropolitan Los Angeles would an organization even attempt to distribute 500 tickets for a mid-week

The first home, which




namesake needs

is a

frequent guest at

Ararat functions, and an example of the

kind of broad-based support few other

who put their parents in feel small in the eyes of others." Bob Shamlian, a former board chairman, and very much a mainstay of Ararat, agrees. "There is often a guilty feeling on the part of the family." But, he says, "We have to educate the public," especially now, when family life a home

has changed, and a daughter and daugh-

ter-in-law (or their husbands) aren't always home to care for the parents.

Rest homes are a relatively new


and not just


AIM Mev-JuNr


Armenians. According to the Older Americans Almanac, elderly people in the United States traditionally had to

community institutions enjoy.

And this kind of support is invaluable to

an institution with


half that amount


annual budget of $5 million. Although over received as board and care fees, the remainder is a product of creative

chapel, a museum, and a 525-seat ballroom in which monthly community luncheons are held for residents and

the home's


donors' court, where

"We didn't spare expenses just because the residents are elderly,"

donor whose name

fundraising. There is brick






1997 I

years and is currerrtly a director of Garfield Bank in Montebello. In trying to raise fiioney fur Ararat Home, the


have been very fortunate: no,*ne has ev,er turned me down." Hp ettributes his srrccess tG the connections he has made over the years and his love of people. gregarious Shamlian says.


fundrairer with a background in real estate, the 74-year.old was borh in {*tanbul, moved to Egypt by the age of 10, and came to the United States in 195 L He was the Chairman of the Home's Board sf Truslees for niqe "count on the compassion of loved ones or those who lived nearby". Today over 34 rnillion Americans are over 65, and five million of them are in nursing homes. Board Chairman Arutian says that the Armenian mentality still holds that "children don't put their

rnost notably the $1.1 million given b,y Kirk Ksrkorian. the Cuardian Angel of

and following her hospital stay we looked for a home in which she c<.ruld

Asked afu*ut Sharrlian's vxlue,to,{rarat

the facilities on 27th ,.S1reEt


expressed skepticism. "lt was run down, but I told my mother not to worry ard promised I would take care of her and work to improve the facility," continues Shamlian.

He joined the board. and in


was elected chainnan. His knowlgdge

of Ararat


but ultimately

ret'erred to the nursing




"l would

say that 60-80 percent of applicants have no choice. Many are already bedridden by the time they get to us, in which case we recomtnend our Nursing Facility, witlt

in homes"-at until health

its full-time medical stafT." And he has

problems make it impos-

strong opinions about

sible to do

the quality


of life

experience in

envisions the Mission

of "independence."

meals taken care of, but still have the lieedom to

get into my car and






However. with few exceptions, most residents have care requirements that prevent this degree of independence. "Our parking lot should


some senior citizens

skilled nursing prof'essionals. However. he

Hills site as "a place where my wit'e and I could come in the future-a retirement home where I can have my laundry done, my


Mission Hills properries. Shamlian says rhat the 97-bc-d addition to the Nursing Facility in Mirsion Hills, now upder construction, "will be built for all cash".


least not


deals for both the Eagle Rock

Ararat Home because of personal need. "ln 1974, my mother had a heart anack,

live," he recalls. "She tried four or five places but didn't get along*she had a langu*ge' barier*and then:- ssmeont sugg6$[4 r4rot Hnnte tome.? He ,\,sas.*st famillar with tlre place, and wtuen he and his mqtfutr,anived at Bob $hnmlian ir a,maior reason

reatr estate wa$ .crucial to Ararat Home's expansion. He negotiated the

it will cost has been acquired through generous donations,

Shamlian became involved

for fuarat Flqme's gr*wfh. A skitled


the name

"Often an elderly person lives alone anyway in an apartment, and can be perpetrating

what I call


neglect'-they can forget to eat even if they

have food



retiigerators, for exam-

ple," says Janbazian.

"Living alone


be full of [residents'l cars, but it's not," he says sadly. Janbazian says it is common to see

leads to an increase in senility. The mind needs stimulation," he c<lntinues. "When they are alone, they don't talk, joke or argue. and their mental faculties become dulled. But I have seen thenr perk up after arriving here and finding

people apply to the residential section

others to talk to. Why not live a good

The $4 million

Ararat Home. a long-time benefactor.


Chairntarl'' Artkur

"Bob is,the backbone trf tEilrrin*titstion; in ,my-.' opiaion." an, rays,

These days Shamlian can afford to take

it ea$y; content et ,A.ra{$I Home'r transiormation into a top-otthe-line institution. But his edthssiasm h&$n't waned.

:.' Thu$e who visit ttr Home find it. hard to miss the ta*l,,tmiling man who shakes everyffnels hands, and whose dedication is one of tlie main reasons many in the Armenian community simply refer to hin'l as "Mr. Ararat.:l


life in an attractive place where you don't have to cook and clean']" Despite lingering cultural stigma, Ararat Home's Nursing Facility has a continuous waiting list. The well-kept secret however is that its main residential facility does have space available. That comes as a surprise to most people, however,


assume otherwise

due to Ararat's popular irnage.




The Mission Hills facility is a success because of a combinatton of smart land purchases, generous donations, dedicated volunteer work. inventive fundraising-and a belief in high qualify.

Originally the cntire Mission Hills project was slated to cost $6 million, but ultimately the tab was somewhere between $16 and l8 million. "Yes, we could have stayed within that $6 mil-


says Janbazian,


we had used

cheaper materials and confined ourselves to building 100 rooms, a onestory building, no ballroom." In short, by doing without any of the features that make the Home notable today. The

Mission Hills Nursing Facility's 1994 ranking of Number One (out of 1,325 California convalescent hospitals) is also proof that something is being done

44 I AIM, Mrv-JuNu


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Palpitation of




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Oratorio cD31 7s KHATCHATUR AVETISSIAN Tradilional Vocal Music

CARNI AIM Mny-JuNr 1997 145


it is for a good cause-and

"we're all going to get old." Eskijian, an architect and general


contractor, waived all fees in the design and construction of the Ararat Eskijian Museum (which also houses the Sheen Memorial Chapel), and countless other people have given assistance in a variety ol'ways. Nora Tertzag is a mainstay. Her years of experience in the fumiture business have saved the Home hundreds of thousands of dollars when purchasing and furnishing their facilities. She is also in charge of the Home's


fundraising banquets. Another pillar is Leon Leonian, an attorney, who has headed the construction program for years. What is unusual about such volunteers is their stamina. They're in for

hAi 1*rE. â&#x201A;Ź*ltrlr t$i i&&tt{& } {}r t&â&#x201A;Ź 1"*$t!1f_{igr ,



T'he sidewalk



at the Ararat Home is a timeline of

Armenian historyliterally, carved in stone right.

Now that the properties in Eagle

Rock and Mission Hills have


developed to their limits, and the Zlth Street tacility was sold in 1990, where will Ararat expand? Janbazian speculates, "Depending

on the economy, we will look

the long haul. On a recent Tuesday one could find residents and board members mingling with guests at the monthly luncheon.

The spacious Grand Ballroom


abtzz as hundreds found their seats at large round tables covered with pink tablecloths. Someone's baby was the

center of attention among residents until the food-roasted chicken, salad and rice pilaf-was served. Later students from a local high school's madrigal choir performed a lively show that even included an Irving Berlin tune. It was not a scene typical of most retirement homes.

Neither are Ararat's summer pic-


nics and open houses, where thousands

where. My guess," and he insists that it is only a guess, "is that the site has to be

enjoy the kind of music and food that Los Angeles picnics don't offer any more. Maybe that's why the crowd rep-

somewhere where there is a large Armenian community." And, therefore, a large donor base. The Ladies Auxiliary and seven Los Angeles-area guilds have proved effective in bringing in supplementary income-last year they presented

Ararat Home with

a check


Angeles's Armenian

Armenians-from former Youth Federation members to the founders of the original St. James and St. Gregory churches.

Reverend Janbazian says some-

what wistfully,


wish they weren't

but with modem-day life, and families scattered about, such



A generous long-time has been

resents all of Los


Kirk Kerkorian, who

has qui-

etly given millions. Says Janbazian, "lf I had to calculate everything, I would estimate that nearly half of our donations have come from Kerkorian." In fact, except for one $6.5 million

state-guaranteed loan, all of Ararat Home's funds have come from donations. Many who volunteer their time for the Home say the money comes in because the Armenian community

46 / AIM Mav-June


homes serve an essential purpose."

And for Armenians, this particular home serves a second purpose. It demonstrates that perhaps even in a community where "sides" and allegiances still count, perhaps age is the great equalizer.

sv MEceN BennoN PHoros BY Enrc N,qzennl




Vision '' Iilrkey hat must we do to be forgiven?" asked Adnan, a Turkish tour guide I met in Kekova. a remote picturesque hamlet on the southem coast of Anatolia. The reference, of course, was to the Armenian Genocide. Our encounter was fortuitous: I had gone there to rest and he was guiding some German tourists. Both of us,

independently, were invited to the house of a Turkish villager. Sitting on the floor, around a huge platter-men and women at different place settings-we were enjoying freshly baked khatmer (a flat bread my grandmother also used to make) rolled around fresh goat cheese and herbs, an assortment of

fried fish right out of the sea, plain salad greens, and berries from the garden.

The question at once startled me-unthinkable as it was only a few years ago.


soon discovered that


remarks were now commonplace. In Istanbul, Erdem Yi.icel, a high-powered lawyer, who had helped establish a private Turkish foundation to preserve the

cultural treasures of Asia Minor, including Ani, stated that although both sides canied responsibility vis-)r-vis the Genocide, the greater burden, of course, lay with the Turks. He was trying to gain my sympathy as well as my consent to become an agent to win the

support of the Armenian-American community in the projected work of preserving, and eventually restoring, Ani. Yiicel explained: "Ani belongs to world civilization; the fact that it happens to be on Turkish soil is only an accident of history."

At that same reception, Beyhan




Ankara University,

everybody-official and civilian-

who has been given charge of the archaeological excavations at Ani by

vents his feelings with greater arnplitude and sharper contrast. Yet these

the Turkish government, disclosed that since Ani was no longer a military zone

sentiments are not always supported by a sensible discussion of historical expe-

the villagers were pillaging the locale, causing serious damage to the integrity of the site. She informed me that the pittance allocated by the government

rience, and such disclosures

wasn't even sutficient to put guards there to prevent the looting. (Ever since the World Monuments Fund declared Ani an endangered site in 1996, international interest in the ancient Armenian capital has increased. In addition to Turkish droits. the French are also active in the area. wanting to reconstruct Ani.) Curiously, at about the same time. Turkish newspapers were full of stories about Garo Mafyan, a successful pop music arranger, who was commissioned

Interior Ministeq Meral Aksener, who referred to Apo, the head of the underground Kurdish party, to be "Enneni diilii (of Armenian seed)." Beginning with Sezer Duru's article in the March 31, 1997 issue of Yeni YiiTyil, "Protest:

What Comes Out



Mouths Their Ears Should Hear," the avalanche of negative reactions in the Turkish media escalated to such a pitch that the minister was forced to apologize on state television and express her distress "even if it is impossible to get the genie back in again once it is out of the bottle."

On a previous sojourn


1994, I tolerance towards things Armenian in Turkey. Now, on a retum visit three years later, it seems to me that the mood of tolerance there has escalated to a level of

had observed




disconcertion. Recent publications

paperback on


the volume disclosed a collection of

tentions and nationalistic bickering,

articles on Kurdish culture, including a study by Kornitus thut conluins rnany

both in the nrass media and on the grass roots level. True. Vahakn Dadrian's

book on the Genocide, in Turkish. is available in bookstores next to KCzint

examples of such music notated by Komitas himself in the 1890s. I suppose it is one ofthose historic

Karabekir's Ermeni Dr,,.slrrs/rl (The

ironies that in 1955. a Turkish

Armenian File). the newly-published memoir of the Turkish -qeneral who annihilated the Armenian tirrces in

authoress, Halide Edib, in an article in

Yeni Istunbul. had tilolishly clainted that Komitas in fact was Turkish. Her argunlent went something like this: Kornitas was born in Turkey; as a child hc spoke only Turkish: and he had colIected Turkish songs. Unfortunately. she neglectecl to mention that both of Kornitas' parents were Arrrenian and

that he was chl'istened in the local Armenian church on the third day after

his birth. Mrs. Edib would have been on more solid intellectual ground had she concentrated on Komitas' friend-

used as the signature tune of a political 1991 issue of Hiirriyet, Erol Kcise, a Turkish pop musician himself. was questioning

Perhaps the most provocative words were uttered by the Turkish

I also tbund a


expressed largely through partisun con-

party. Writing in the April 26,

Armenian ethnicity.

fbr Mush retained

Kurdish music. published only in 1996, with Komitas' name prontinently displayed on the cover. An exan-rination of

to create a version of a well-known melody by the nineteenth-century Turkish musician Sheik Shamil to be

the propriety of Mafyan's talnpering with the work of the Sheik in view of the arranger's background-his

Arrnenian narne the title.)

ship with the Turkish poet Mehmer Enrin Yurdakul, on Komitas' original




music based on Yurdakul's poetry, and on the latter's intervention to help save Komitas fiom certain death during the

Kektva, Turkey


Anatolia. But such publications renrain largely on library shelves. read only by academics and the intelliEastern

gentsia. It was reassuring to find many volur:nes

in Armenian, by Arrnenians


about Armenians in bookstores. [t was welcome news to read in Meunings in Turkish Mtrsicul Culture about the alphabetical notes devised by Tanburi Kiigi.ik Artin in 1730. "a musician and poet of the West-Arrnerrian cornnruni-

ty." In the same work. thele is also extensive analysis of rnusical signs created by Baba Harnparsum. "an Armenian cantor." who based his system on "rnedieval Armenian neumatic notation." Further digging uncovered a large volume, Datts, Miizik, Kiiltiir (Dancc. Music, Culture), in which a fascinating 50-page-fong article entitled "Daron

(Mush) Hulk Sharkilcri" ("The Folk Songs of Daron (Mush)"), by 'Isitsilia

about events concerning World War I

Prudian, a musicologist frorn Armenia,

have come as a revelation to many Turks, with the result that today most

was translated into

Turkish. (It

especially unexpected

to find

was the


Despite the diplomatic cul-de-sac relations between Armenia and

Turkey, I observed a number of encouraging signs. To hear the 100-voice Armenian State Choir. under the direction o1' Ohannes Tchekidjian, launch their thrilling program in Istanbul's Maden Fakiiltesi auditoriurn with a ren-

dition of Arno Babadjanian's "Mer Hayastan" ("Our Armenia") was posi-

tively overpowering. To witness President


of Armenia, Levon

Ter Petrosyan, visit Istanbul, and to watch his Mercedes-with the Arnrenian flag tlapping-under a Turkish police escort was decidedly overwhelnring. To Adnan's question. "What rnust we do to be tbrgiven?" my answer is: "How about acknowledging the estab-

lished lacts. my tiiend." That would really push us to the edge ol the envelope. gy SHrru,ur' ARZRLNT SHaunN ARZRLNI ts A prANts'f. ['1-llNON!USlCOl.O(;lST AND A WRll-liR.

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AIM MAY-JrrNE 1997 I 49


tffi= I detected a note of surprise in your voice yesterday when I told you that I

had spent the weekend at


Byzantium Exhibition at the Met. I

know: To make the bus trip and


the subway ride and then the lines at the

door! It's not my style.

Besides, I have never had much for colossal museums and big exhibitions and cultural mega-events, not to mention my-and your-natural suspicion of anything that we were told was glorious and great, be it Byzantine art or the Nareg or Shakespeare. You


remember when we were young-read, younger-we used to spend so much time trying to be irreverent, dismissing things with our sharp wit, as though we

were the first rebels who ever walked this planet. Now I look back at those years with a mixture of embarrassment and nostalgia. We may have been fool-

ish but we were innocent too and our innocence buoyed us on, kept us going toward our convulsive movement to adulthood.

Which brings me to Glory of Byzntium and the five hours during which


was in the company, the pres-

of the relics of the Middle Byzantine period. One room opening unto another room of luminous objects


of life

and faith: stone sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, icons, manuscripts.

ment of a page from the Zeytun gospel or the patient geometry of a mosaic of Deacon Saint Stephen. Also something about myself as a visitor of the museum, something about looking deeply, silently; about paying attention, with the emphasis falling on paying, on giving something of yourself in order to receive something unspeakable. And then, the Armenian dimension of all this too. You know, we often talk about how fractured is our view of ourselves in he world. When we open a book, we tum

Armenia and then flip back the pages and read about ourselves, read what we already know. We watch television programs the same way.

wise sigh of The Upanishads, "Neti, neti." Not quite, not quite. I have tried to put all into words. You imagine the

But at the Byzantium exhibition it sacred objects manifested themselves to


me unobtrusively, gently, surprising


me, delighting me. I was transformed to a time when Armenians were part of a world, a network which stretched

Dear G,

across the Latin West, to the Islamic East. to Georgia and Armenia.

You are perhaps laughing your devious laugh at my words! Museums are supposed to do these things for us, you are saying. I don't quite know why I had not

had this experience before, but

my journey through the Byzantine world has revealed to me not only something about faith, but also about

lous, contentious but most of all a world

many little brats and urchins running

with the Christian


I think I can say this and get away with it-that for the first time in my life I understood something about religious faith, something which had escaped me as

I was first dragged (and then dragged



church twice



was different. Armenians' secular and

ivories, silks, gemstones, ceramic and jewelry pieces. What a world revealed itself to me-broad, multiethnic, tremuimbued

be a participant of something larger, more layered. Perhaps we want to know something about- ourselves through the reflections in the mirror, through the silence of strange things. Well, I must close, but with the

to the index and look for the word

the real comforts of museums: They are adult places and should be x-rated. All along, my deep suspicion of museums has come about because I have seen so


us such sights, oh lord! Tuck them in the folds of the light, in the sings of the flesh, and let us enjoy the real pleasures of our senses, of seeing and being seen by the objects on display, of knowing ourselves in new and unexpected ways. For when we are young, we are after uniqueness and self-assertion. When we grow older-read, old-we want to

around the austere spaces, touching this and touching that in the name of "hands on" artistic experiences, tourist guides giving champagne explanations for art objects as though they were giving a presentation about human reproduction, or post-pubescent girls and boys, their

My time in Turkey was busy but

I started to feel a bit nervous with all the alarmist reports of impending military takeover in the Westem strange.

press, this coupled by what I felt was a real sense of tension in the streets. But S was much calmer and blase. Turkish people have been through all of this before. I am beginning to notice the omnipresent police even more and convoys of military vehicles seem to be driving through the city streets more, ostensibly going to or returning from

"exercises" of some sort.

Our electricity was cut off for

days, in the Aegian region, the result of what was reported as a Greenpeaceesque squabble with environmentalists,

but what others saw as a deliberate move by the government (i.e. Islamists) to show their strength and to alienate the throngs of tourists in the region.

More when I return in July.


muscles on heat, looking beyond the


Something about the silent self-efface-

glass doors at the evening's mate. Spare


50 /

AIM Mnv-JuNe


JL*oy A^,*diuuian ArronNEY






rEl: 8r8 7gz oSoo rax: 8r8 7g2 5rr:, 225 SOUTH LAKE AVENUE gTH FLOOR PASADENA, CA grror U.S.A.


Not only is the ceiling


aged, but the roof is leaking too.

The problem is, this isn't just any

old building. It's the Sardarabad National Ethnographic Museum of Almenia.

But for the last four or five water damage which the building has sustained is becoming not just a problem. years, the visible

bul a hazard.

"lf we don't l'ind a way

make repairs this year,"

museum director

to says


Margarian. the roof may begin to

fall in. Literally. That would be a shame. Those who have visited the museum since it opened in 1978 say it's their favorite in a country that doesn't lack such artistic and historic repositories. It houses over 10,000 artifacts from pre-Urartian phallic slones to the nlost exquisite jewelry and handiw<lrk of the last century.

Built on the part of the victorious l9l 8 Battle of Sardarabad, the museum is part of a memorial complex. The winged bulls guard the entrance to the complex which

features the tall standing stone eagles-ernblems of immortality. Some of that symbolism is going lo huve to be combined with

hard money if the museum is to see the nexl century. None of the artifacts are damaged yet. but it's a disaster waiting to happen. According to Arshak Aslanian, assistant director, it will take a minimum of $50,000 to


Manuel Tolegian, ArmenianAmcrican paintcr, is most famous for his nostalgic still-liles ol' Iavash bread and nriddle eiistern cotlee mak:.

ers. Yet lris scene

of a Southerri

Calil'ornia "Picnic" appealeel to Shrrhen Khlehatrian. dilcctor of

Armcuil'' National Arr Callery. and

so, Tolegian's widow, Araks 'l-olegirn (lefi). gave the painting to z




ter's recent visit to

q t

Calit-brnia; Khachatrian aggressively colledll,,r'i&e,,,,w6rks of Diasporan



adiitii',tfdi,,ir,ithe.r.museuul's extensive colleefiliii:'"':r'"'

-52 /

irightl. during Ihe








repair the roof, and another $20,000 to fix the damage it has

caused to the first floor ceiling.

'It's a unique sort of building," explains Aslanian. "There are special glass panels on the roof

to protect the museum front sunlight." Each of those glass panels will cost over $100 to replace. The entire 7200 square meter facility receives a minimal amount from the government budget. It has 160 employees, with a median salary of 5,000-6,000 drams each.



see'.the Eiffel

Tower? How uUout



Ejmiatsin? Don't. have time to

travel acros* the globe? No problem; Mare than 158 famous moriumonts from around the world have been reproduced at a scale of 1:25 at the Minimuadtrs-Small World exhibit i n Kl agenfurUCarinthia,


$everal hours away from Vienn4 near the Italian'border, this permanent exhibit attracts

of tourists from around the world. Since 1994, these visitors have been able to viqw not only the Great Wall of China, the Salzburg Cathedral, a Mississippi Steamboat and the Sydney Opera House, but also the 1700-year-old seat of thousands

the Armenian Church,


Cathedral of Ej miatsin.


: , This model wcs built in ',,Austr-ia over &:pâ&#x201A;Źriod of 18 months by the Austrian master

Matheos Jarina. Not only in



detection and to

early breast


telp raise awarcness aboui &e

importance of mamrrgraphy and breas self-exanr


a mammography center has b@n

setup at

Yerevan Stafe Medical University under 8r aus. pices of tlp Wonren's Health Carc Association, headed byAnrmdan-Anrrican acdvistRita Balipn

scale but in building material the model''earesponds t0 lts r, ,, original. With the help of the Armenian Department for Preservation and Protection of Historical Monuments, four ibn*, .ar',#1l. ofin tp-f,g,stsrii',' wqtt bqsti htr,"to,Kl4Sfiafffi.,.;.1p,;.:,, builit=thsjtrodei. i.i"r,ti,,, i,itri, tt e realization of the


The enreg which officially opercdinJrure' is thus far the only mammognphy ard


ultrasnld cen-

in the newly in@rdent *ates of the funrer

Sovir:t Union.

The center's director Ruzan Khondmkian noEs thal '\ile have begun to notice heast carrcer


young wonrcq 3G35 years old" They gotodoctos very late, wtrcn it

is neady inpossfule to save the

silldion.Attre sametime to need it, thanks



of ourpatiurs wlro

fu urgery were found

were already scheduled the

modffi equiprFnt


here at

tresrter." Balian's




success of this prroject is

by drc ftrcrration once detected,





lnowing ttut

rcsowces exist in the

country to fteatbreastcancer. Grce fte center's first

is raised (tlrey are sill $73,000 sfu of treir goat) supplementary activity awaib tlrc centâ&#x201A;Źr's team Nani Oskaniaru who is 0re center's Board's vice-president, says. '1[he Women's t{ealt}r Care Association is just a step towards impnoving women's healt}r care. Just

year budget of $265,000

look at the numbers. Of the 200 women we've seen in the first month, 20 percent showed signs of cancer. The need is very great."

model was the result of 4 seven year effort by the AustrianArmenian Cultural Society, headed by Razmig Tamrazian (inset). This wao noi simply a cultural succeEs, but a political .,'eee 4s well, as Affig&iC ist CI$s i it:,i .,.cf only 46 couri#is {a1rtl oniy ' ," three former soviet republics) represented in Minimundus. Armenia's Ambassador to Vienna, Ashot Vosganian, was

the dignitaries present at the official opening of the exhibit in 1994. The entire 26,000 square meter facility is run by the Austrian "Save the Child" Ermong

AIM MAY-Jur.{E 1997 153


$EclE$ I*t IHe Hanft ff I flo

lit by a few shaded streetlamps casting shadows onto Stepanakert sidewalks puddled by spring rain. The pale light does

he night is

not reach the stairs leading from a friend's apartment in a building she calls "the Soviet Projects." I am holding cautiously to a handrail on the third flight of stairs in the unlit

corridor, slowly placing one fool before the other, and hoping to find

live in the extreme


between peoples that would result in

city bombed to pieces like the of a belligerent child suddenly bored with his creation. I am listening to our driver, a former

an entire


soldier twice wounded, as he points out

the unsettling sites on this tour of destruction. There is the skeleton ofthe first tank to be hit by the Azeris. And over there,

He would have been 1 2 this year, but he be eight, the brother whose death drained a sister of her tears, a son whose death stole a family's name. Her father took the boy to his grave alone. The fighting was too intense for the family to risk going to the graveyard. am wishing others could hear this,

will always


could see the beam disappear from Armine's black eyes, her expressive

face go flat. I am wishing that those for whom this three-year truce is always tenuous-those, whoever they are, whose fiats

something solid


make a note to myself to

mentally number each step, so that when I try this again, I can count my way down. Otherwise, I have the tottering appearance of the feebled , an image I do not wish to project guide

and inclinations decide whether others will suffer-would hear the message of a lady-child who cannot cry. And so it is that I ask her about the cellar.

Like a schoolgirl on a play-

offers to show it to me. Oddly, I

ground, she skips through the


to the girl who is my


into Karabakhi life.


her parents' home,


the stairway I

She spent six months in the

find such a challenge. is as


lit as the very stars that await us outside, should I

dark. She and the other girls made up games to play in the cellar while rockets tore the

ever get there.

roofs off their homes.

darkness, as

Armine has hair thick

"Armine," I say to her, "How can you see so clearly in the dark?" "I'm used to it," she says. "l spent some time living in a cellar." I had heard, of course, of wartime here. And il there were no wilnesses to speak the horror, these scaned buildings, branded still by the path ofcountless artillery rounds, would scream this city's testimony of suffering. But to hear the matter of fact experience of this child of war, this glorious creature too bright and loving to justify one moment of fear, brings distant impressions chillingly close. What question do you ask, curious to

of intruding, of somehow appearing irreverent, or

know, but cautious

worse, exploitative? How do you say to someone: "What was that like?" It is two days before I

find a way. On the road to Martuni, the village where she grew up, we pass through Aghdam.

There, if anyone talks at all, it is of what happened, of what it was like to 54 / AIM Mev-JuNe 1997

the remnants of a great mosaic, a care-

ful creation of beauty now hideously convulsed, decaying but not quickly enough.

I have turned my face from my transla-

tor friend. She teases that perhaps I find her history lesson boring. I am, instead, trying to keep her from seeing the tears that I cannot stop. These were not my people-on either side. These were not neighborhoods I knew. Yet, the sadness is so bitter, so

invasive here.


cannot harness this

unfamiliar emotion. I am not the first to weep for these strangers. Somehow the tears link us, though hers are immeasurable. So many. that she cannot cry again. "Now," Armine says, "I see things that I know are sad, but I cannot cry." When she first cried, it was for an eight She tells me

year old. He was her brother, the son her parents had cherished to calry their name to a next generation. Bombs fell and a baby boy died.


black as the rich Karabakhi soil. And on a day when she could resist the urge no longer, she sneaked from the cellar to wash her hair under a faucet. One shell fragment grazed her scalp and a bullet came so close she heard it pass her ear. All she wanted was clean hair, even if it couldn't be seen in the dark. The darkness was her safety and

now she moves

through the night without caution, without care.

She has lived danger so real as to change the way she sees. She, like every person I pass on these dark streets, has lived with death. But it is how the survivors face life that is the legacy of those who died. Light follows my friend. She jokes and laughs and sings and dances and has an

uncommon grace and an unrelenting zest.

And I watch her with awe, aware of the high price oflearning to see in the dark. PHoro AND TExr BY JoHN HucuEs

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Comrades in Arms - May/June1997  

Armenian International Magazine | Comrades in Arms - May/June1997

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