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Sunday, October 26, 2014
 

1997

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

IX
April 2000
4

Republic of Armenia

Total area: 29,800 sq. km Slightly larger than Maryland Bordering states: Azerbaijan (east) 566 km Nakhichevan (south) 221 km Georgia 164 km Iran 35 km Turkey 268 km Population: 3.6 million 68% urban 110.5 persons/sq. km Ethnic composition: 93.3% Armenian 1.5% Russian 1.7% Kurdish 3.5% Assyrian, Greek, other

Leadership: Robert Kocharian, President; Aram Sarkisian, Prime Minister; Vardan Oskanian, Foreign Minister; Armen Khachatrian, Parliament Chairman.

Independence: Armenia established its independence on September 21, 1991.

CIS membership status: Armenia joined the CIS in March 1992 and CIS Defense Treaty in May 1992.

Constitution: A constitution was adopted by national referendum on July 5, 1995.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held May 30, 1999. Presidential elections were held in March 1998.

Diplomatic representation: The United States representative to Armenia is Ambassador Michael Lemmon. The Armenian representative to the United States is Ambassador Arman Kirakossian. The Armenian representative to the United Nations is Ambassador Movses Abelian

ARMENIA COUNTRY REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1999


The 1998 [presidential] elections and the May parliamentary and October municipal elections showed continued improvement with respect to voting practices and vote-counting as well as to the ability of a pluralistic group of candidates to campaign freely. Although irregularities marred both the parliamentary elections and local elections, OSCE observers categorized the former as a step toward compliance with OSCE commitments, but stated that they still failed to meet international standards... A commission on balancing the powers of the three branches of government presented several proposals that would weaken the influence of the executive over the other branches. These proposals are scheduled to be voted upon in a national referendum in May 2000... There were no reports of political killings by police or security forces during the year; however, there were numerous reports of extrajudicial killings... On October 27, five terrorists entered the National Assembly and opened fire, killing the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly and six other Members of Parliament and wounding at least five more persons. Investigation of the killings, conducted by the Deputy Prosecutor General, was continuing at year's end.

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

2 March: Former aide to President Robert Kocharian, Aleksan Harutiunian, begins a hunger strike to protest his detention on charges of complicity in the assassinations of senior Armenian political leaders during the October 27th attack on parliament. Harutiunian is also protesting the decision of Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian to reject the appeal for his case to be transferred to the civilian prosecutor-general's office.

3-4 March: The leadership of the Unity bloc, the majority group in the parliament, issues an ultimatum to President Kocharian demanding the dismissal of presidential chief of staff Serge Sarkisian and State Television Director Tigran Naghdalian. The ultimatum charges the two with actively impeding the investigation into the attack on the parliament and the subsequent killings of the prime minister, parliamentary speaker and other political officials. The Unity bloc adds that the two officials have manipulated media coverage to criticize the investigation and the imprisonment of the Deputy Director of the state television, Harutiun Harutiunian, and former presidential aide Aleksan Harutiunian.

6 March: President Kocharian dismisses the recent Unity bloc ultimatum demanding the firing of the head of the state television and the presidential chief of staff as "ludicrous and absurd." Kocharian further states that the Unity bloc leadership lacks political maturity and contends that the junior member of the bloc, the People's Party of Armenia, only agreed to the ultimatum after being coerced by the more powerful Republican Party of Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) affirms Kocharian's position by warning that there must not be political involvement of any kind in judicial investigations nor any move to restrict the media and expresses concern that the recent agreement on "solidarity and cooperation" signed by the prime minister and the eight political parties holding seats in the parliament is not being observed. The same day, Kocharian issues a presidential decree stipulating that all senior military promotions, assignments and appointments are constitutional powers held solely by the president. This decree supersedes an August 1999 government directive granting the prime minister the power of appointment and promotion within the "power" ministries of defense, interior and national security.

7 March: A large majority of deputies vote to adopt the 2000 state budget submitted to the parliament by Finance Minister Levon Barkhudarian in January. The state budget contains 252.7 billion drams ($482 million) in expenditures and 202 billion drams in revenue, with the state budget deficit equal to less than five percent of projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and fully covered by foreign loans and grants. The government forecasts an overall increase in GDP of 6 percent for this year, compared to a 3.7 percent increase for last year.

8 March: Criticizing the recent presidential decree on military appointments, Unity bloc leader Andranik Markarian vows to file an appeal with the Constitutional Court. Several deputies of the People's Party of Armenia, the junior partner in the Unity bloc, oppose the move and affirm the constitutionality of the decree as being in line with the presidential role as Commander in Chief of the armed forces.

10 March: Speaking at a press conference, Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian reveals that the five gunmen led by Nairi Hunanian responsible for the attack and killings in the parliament were acting for "powerful political patrons" and will face an additional charge of "conspiring to seize power" in addition to murder and seizing hostages. Jahangirian adds that he has uncovered evidence that the National Security Ministry had considered recruiting Hunanian in December 1998 as an intelligence operative.

12 March: The opposition National Democratic Union (NDU) issues a declaration at the conclusion of its three-day party congress criticizing the tension between the president and the prime minister, characterizing the present "clan system" of government as a serious impediment to efficient governance, economic development and democratization.

13 March: Following demands by the Unity bloc calling for his dismissal, Tigran Naghdalian, the head of state television, submits his resignation citing the "constant political pressure" directed against him and citing the need for political stability. Naghdalian also reaffirms his rejection of accusations that he manipulated media coverage of the investigation of the October attack on parliament.

14 March: President Kocharian issues a presidential decree promoting two key leaders of the Yerkrapah Union of Karabagh Veterans to higher military posts. Yerkrapah chairman and strong supporter of Prime Minister Sarkisian, Major General Manvel Grigorian is promoted to the position of Deputy Defense Minister and Colonel Seyran Saroyan is named as commander of the Second Army Corps. The decree also promotes Colonel General Artur Aghabekian and Colonel General Gurgen Melkonian as Deputy Defense Ministers and names Major General Yurii Khachatrian as the new commander of the Fourth Army Corps.

14-15 March: Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian meets with the leadership of the Unity bloc to discuss the recent presidential decree promoting several prominent Yerkrapah figures to senior military positions. The prime minister expresses his anger at the president's failure to inform him in advance of the decree. Adding that he does not necessarily oppose the promotions, Sarkisian criticizes Kocharian for "violating the rule of the game," and states that Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian is also angered at not being informed in advance by the president. President Kocharian responds that he promoted the Yerkrapah leaders to ease the political tension by allowing him to "control the army and bear full responsibility for the country's security" as commander in chief.

16 March: A group representing the Armenian community of Nakhichevan (a historically Armenian exclave which was ceded to Azerbaijan from Armenia by the 1921 Treaty of Moscow) issues a statement to the Russian lower house of parliament calling on the Duma to reverse the 1921 treaty. The group, the National Council of Nakhichevan Armenians, accuses the Azerbaijani government of implementing a policy of ethnic cleansing and forced depopulation of the native Armenians once it took control of Nakhichevan.

16-17 March: During a meeting with the leaders of the political parties represented in the parliament, President Kocharian criticizes the cabinet's performance on economic issues and conveys his strong displeasure with the growing level of wage arrears among public sector workers. Yerkrapah senior figure and Yerevan Mayor Albert Bazeyan tenders his resignation to Kocharian but then withdraws it after talks with Yerkrapah chairman Major General Manvel Grigorian. The recently promoted Yerkrapah officials also reassure Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian of their loyalty to him in an attempt to ease the premier's anxiety over their inclusion into the government as Deputy Defense Ministers by Kocharian.

21 March: President Kocharian, Defense Minister Harutiunian and Foreign Minister Oskanian receive the deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, Admiral Charles Abbot, in Yerevan to discuss regional security issues and to coordinate plans for the expansion of bilateral security and military ties between the United States and Armenia.

29 March: President Robert Kocharian concludes a two-day state visit to Georgia which results in the signing of several bilateral agreements, including a plan to construct a electrical power line to supply energy from Armenia to the ethnic-Armenian Djavakheti region of southern Georgia. The two countries also formalize a debt rescheduling agreement concerning the $4.4 million Georgian debt for Armenian hydroelectric energy. Discussion is also held on a proposal to seek financing from the European Union for the modernization of the Yerevan-Tbilisi highway.

30 March: Deputy Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian submits a petition to a Yerevan court requesting the complete lifting of parliamentary immunity held by Vano Siradeghian to allow for his imprisonment during trial. Siradeghian, on trial since September for allegedly organizing a series of politically motivated murders, is currently free from detention in accordance with a special deal reached in February 1999 when the parliament removed his immunity from prosecution as a deputy. Hovsepian charges that the relatives of the victims of Siradeghian's reputed assassinations have been subject to harassment and intimidation in recent weeks by supporters of the former interior minister. The other defendants in the case have remained in prison for the past eleven months awaiting the outcome of the trial.

Republic of Georgia

Total area: 69,700 sq. km Slightly larger than S. Carolina Bordering states: Armenia 164 km Azerbaijan 322 km Russia 723 km Turkey 252 km Population: 5.57 million 56% urban 78 persons/sq. km Ethnic composition: 69% Georgian, 9% Armenian, 6% Russian, 6% Ajarian*, 5% Azerbaijani, 3% Ossetian, 2% Abkhazian. Georgia includes the autonomous republics of Abkhazia and Ajaria and the South Ossetian Autonomous Region. *- The Ajarians are a distinct ethnographic group of Georgians.

Leadership: Eduard Shevardnadze, President; Vazha Lordkipanidze, State Minister; Irakli Menagrashvili, Foreign Minister; Zurab Zhvania, Parliament Chairman.

Independence: Georgia established its independence on April 9, 1991.

CIS membership status: The Georgian government joined the CIS on October 23, 1993.

Constitution: A constitution was adopted in August, 1995, which reinstates a presidential form of government and provides for a strong executive branch and a unicameral 235-seat parliament. A constitutional court was also created. The constitution, however, does not address the status of Abkhazia, Ossetia or Ajaria.

Elections: Presidential elections are scheduled for April 9th. Parliamentary elections were held October 31, 1999.

Diplomatic representation: The United States representative to Georgia is Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz. The Georgian representative to the United States, as well as Canada and Mexico, is Ambassador Tedo Japaridze. The Georgian representative to the United Nations is Ambassador Peter Chkiedze.

GEORGIA COUNTRY REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1999


The Government's human rights record was uneven and serious problems remain in some areas. Police and security forces continued to torture, beat, and otherwise abuse prisoners and detainees, force confessions, and fabricate or plant evidence. Several deaths in custody were blamed on security force abuse or prison conditions. Local human rights groups reported that these abuses declined again during the year, continuing a trend begun in 1998; however Human Rights Watch reported no substantial improvement. Authorities allegedly continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention. Corruption was pervasive... A new Criminal Code was passed in June. The Criminal Procedures Code, passed in November 1997, underwent substantial amendment in the spring in response to complaints by security forces, and their previous powers--which involved abuse of prisoner rights--essentially were restored... Parliamentary elections were held on October 31, which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) characterized as a "step toward Georgia's compliance with OSCE commitments."

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

8-9 March: Central Electoral Commission Chairman Djumber Lominadze announces that two presidential candidates have been denied official registration for failing to garner the minimum number of supporting signatures. Of the original group of twelve candidates, seven remain to face the incumbent president in the April 9th election. Ajarian Parliamentary Chairman and presidential candidate Aslan Abashidze calls on the parliament to amend the election law to include a measure requiring voters to be marked with indelible ink after voting to prevent multiple voting. Recently denied formal registration as a candidate, Yevgenii Djughashvili, the grandson of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, announces his support for former Soviet-era Communist Party leader Djumber Patiashvili.

10 March: By a vote of 132 to 22, the parliament adopts the 2000 state budget. This final version reflects expected revenues of 874.4 million lari (roughly $443 million) and 1.264 billion lari in expenditures. This significant budget deficit is to be financed by foreign loans and World Bank assistance. The budget contains 174 million lari earmarked for foreign debt repayment and another 100 million lari for pensions and wage arrears.

12-13 March: A group of 65 Georgian military conscripts desert their posts at the Kodjori military training facility to protest poor living conditions and inadequate food. Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze calls for an immediate investigation and confirms that over 3000 conscripts have deserted the armed forces over the past four years.

21 March: President Shevardnadze meets with Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to discuss the situation along the Georgian-Chechen border and to review the OSCE mediating role in attempting to resolve the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts.

21-22 March: A recently formed group of 25 opposition political parties and groups without parliamentary representation, the National Center for Georgia's Freedom and Democracy, launch a campaign calling on voters to boycott the April 9th presidential election in order to "save the country from the destructive Shevardnadze regime."

24 March: President Shevardnadze unveils his reelection campaign platform, "From Stability to Prosperity." The broad platform promises to reduce unemployment, combat poverty and corruption, regularly meet pension and wage payments, and to reforming national education. The president also vows to strengthen Georgian statehood while pursuing a foreign policy of "integration into the European political, economic and security systems."

25 March: Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu meets with his Georgian counterpart Davit Tevzadze to review the status of the Turkish program to train Georgian officers and modernize its armed forces. Turkey has provided over $10 million in direct military assistance as part of an overall effort to raise the readiness of Georgia's armed forces to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) levels.

28-30 March: Azerbaijani, Turkish and Georgian delegations meet in Tbilisi with representatives of the international consortium developing the Azerbaijani offshore Shah-Denizs oil and gas field to discuss a proposed natural gas pipeline. The officials review plans for a pipeline from Baku to Tbilisi and on to the Turkish Black Sea port of Erzerum. The proposed pipeline would have an initial annual throughput capacity of five billion cubic meters with a completion date of 2002.

29 March: Newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin issues a formal request to extend the deployment of the largely Russian CIS military peacekeeping force in Abkhazia until June 30th. United Nations Special Representative for Abkhazia Dieter Boden expresses his support for the extension of the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping mission along with Abkhazian President Vladislav Ardzinba.

30 March: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder meets with President Shevardnadze during his first visit to Tbilisi. The German leader announces a 20% increase in German aid to Georgia to a level of 60 million marks (about $30 million) for this year. Addressing the Georgian parliament, Schroeder cites his concern over Chechenya and adds that the European Union must adopt a greater role in the conflicts of the southern Caucasus.

Republic of Azerbaijan

Total area:
81,800 sq. km
Slightly smaller than Maine

Bordering states:
Armenia (West) 566 km
Armenia (southwest) 221 km
Georgia 332 km
Iran (south) 432 km
Iran (southwest) 179 km
Russia 284 km
Turkey 9 km

Population:
7.3 million
54% urban
89 persons/sq. km

Ethnic composition: 71% Azerbaijani, 11% Talish, 6% Russian, 4% Lezgi, 3% Daghestani, 3% Kurdish.
The autonomous republic of Nakhichevan (pop. 350,000; 5,500 sq. km) was placed under Azerbaijani administration in 1921.

Leadership: Geidar Aliyev, President; Artur Rasizade, Prime Minister; Vilayet Guliev, Foreign Minister; Murtuz Aleskerov, Parliament Chairman; Shamshaddin Khanbabayev, Premier of Nakhichevan.

Independence: Azerbaijan established its independence on August 30, 1991.

CIS membership status: Azerbaijan joined the CIS on September 24, 1993.

Constitution: A new constitution was passed by referendum in November 1995.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held November 1995. Presidential elections were held October 1998.

Diplomatic representation: The United States representative to Azerbaijan is Ambassador Stanley Escudero. The Azerbaijani representative to the United States is Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev. The Azerbaijani representative to the United Nations is Eldar Guliyev.

AZERBAIJAN COUNTRY REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1999
The Government's human rights record was poor, and serious problems remained. The Government continues to restrict citizens' ability to change their government peacefully. Police beat persons in custody, arbitrarily arrested and detained persons, and conducted searches and seizures without warrants. In most instances, the Government took no action to punish abusers, although perpetrators were prosecuted in a handful of cases... The Government continued to impose some limits on freedom of speech and of the press. Although the Government abolished censorship in August 1998, government officials throughout the year sought to intimidate independent and opposition newspapers by repeatedly suing them for defamation... The country's first-ever municipal elections [were held] on December 12; however, the electoral process was marred by a nearly universal pattern of interference by local officials, which allowed them to control the selection of the election committees that supervised the election.

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

3-4 March: The head of the U.S. consortium PSG, which is engaged in negotiating the planned construction of a regional Trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline, reports that Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has rejected Azerbaijan's demand for using 50 percent of the planned pipeline's capacity. Niyazov supports his refusal by citing the November 1999 "Declaration of Intent" endorsed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan, which allocates 35 percent of the pipeline's capacity to Azerbaijan. The Turkmen-Azerbaijani dispute is complicated by U.S. and Georgian support for the Azerbaijani position and by the over $400 million in combined Azerbaijani and Georgian debt for Turkmen energy supplies, outstanding since 1995. The proposed Trans-Caspian pipeline would originate in Turkmenistan, traverse the Caspian Sea and then travel through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and finally Turkey. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has held discussions with British Petroleum/Amoco to expand the capacity of the existing natural gas pipeline from Baku through Georgia and on to Turkey to provide Turkey with natural gas exports from the offshore Shah-Deniz field.

13 March: Delegations of officials from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan conclude an agreement in Almaty over the formulation of a draft Caspian Sea environmental security convention. The convention itself is still hindered by the disputed legal status of the Caspian Sea and will not be subject to confirmation until there is formal agreement on the international status of the Caspian.

16 March: President Geidar Aliyev and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma endorse a ten-year economic cooperation agreement and a bilateral friendship and cooperation treaty which calls for a new "strategic partnership" between the two countries. The two leaders also discuss the use of Ukrainian Black Sea ports in the transport of Azerbaijani energy exports from the Caspian Sea and review new measures to better coordinate the GUUAM regional security group. The GUUAM group consists of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova as member states.

16-17 March: Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev dismisses claims by Turkmenistan to ownership of the offshore Kyapaz (Serder) oil field as invalid without a formal resolution to the disputed legal status of the Caspian Sea. The Azerbaijani dispute with Turkmenistan over the division of the Caspian Sea and its offshore oil and natural gas fields into sectoral zones of national development is a significant obstacle to the exploitation and export of the energy in the region. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov suggests the convening of another summit of the five littoral states (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan) to formulate a consensus on the division of the Caspian.

18 March: During a leadership meeting, one of the four deputy chairmen of the opposition Azerbaijani National Front, former Army Colonel Arif Pashayev, resigns his leadership post in protest over what he terms the "regional favoritism" of party leader Abulfez Elchibey. The Azerbaijani Popular Front has been faced with a widening internal split featuring a "radical" group led by former President and official party head Elchibey and an increasingly powerful rival wing of "moderate reformers" led by First Deputy Chairman Ali Kerimov. The Popular Front has been significantly marginalized in recent years by the Aliyev government and its activists and local leaders in its Nakhichevan stronghold have been subject to repeated incidents of harassment, intimidation, and arrest by government authorities over the past few months.

21 March: The Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, Admiral Charles Abbot, meets with senior Azerbaijani officials, including President Aliyev, during a visit to Baku to discuss the proposed expansion of bilateral military ties. The U.S. official expresses Washington's appreciation of Azerbaijan's military involvement in the KFOR peacekeeping operations in Kosovo (under the direction of the Turkish NATO contingent). The Azerbaijani officials review a new U.S. program of cooperative measures in regional security, humanitarian affairs, demining efforts and the overall promotion of democracy in Azerbaijan.

22-23 March: A two-day "strategic partnership" meeting between the Azerbaijani and Georgian presidents is convened in Tbilisi to conclude several bilateral agreements, including cooperation between their justice ministries. Presidents Aliyev and Shevardnadze forge a new agreement on the tariffs and usage fees for the export of Azerbaijani oil through the planned pipeline from Baku, through Georgia, to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Most analysts see the Azerbaijani concession as a reflection of the urgent need to resolve all disputes related to the stalled plan to construct the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, whose financing has yet to be resolved.

23 March: Opposition National Independence Party leader Etibar Mamedov issues a sharp rebuke of the president over the reported concession to Georgia for a greater tariff for the proposed Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline. Mamedov criticizes the president for granting transit fees from Azerbaijani oil which he sees as a "strategic issue" not to be treated as "Aliyev's personal property." Opposition Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambarov and Azerbaijani Popular Front First Deputy Chairman Ali Kerimov add similar criticism, stating that the concession is another example of President Aliyev's pattern of "placing personal interest above those of the state."

24 March: A group of former senior Azerbaijani Defense Ministry officials convene a press conference in Baku to demand a new military campaign to retake control over Nagorno Karabagh and the territory held by Karabagh forces. Former Defense Minister Tahaddin Mekhtiev adds that a military campaign must be considered given the stalemated talks over the Karabagh conflict and vows that such an Azerbaijani offensive can be successful if the Azerbaijani government and opposition unite over a renewed Karabagh war.

26 March: The London Sunday Times newspaper reports that British Petroleum and Amoco were "instrumental" in the June 1993 overthrow of former President Abulfez Elchibey which resulted in the rise to power of current President Geidar Aliyev. The newspaper report adds that the international oil companies were engaged in a serious effort to force a renegotiation of the contracts for the development of the offshore oil reserves in the Caspian Sea. The report, citing various sources including Turkish intelligence, adds that the Exxon and Mobil oil corporations joined British Petroleum and Amoco in an offer to provide arms and mercenaries for President Aliyev in his military campaign against Nagorno Karabagh.

26 March: Elections featuring over 1300 candidates for vacant seats for 75 municipal government positions are held in Baku. The vacant seats stem from instances of annulled or invalid voting in last December's municipal elections. Central Electoral Commission officials certify the results of 74 seats and announce that voting in one district failed to result in any one candidate receiving the required minimum 25 percent. Despite charges by the opposition Musavat Party of voting irregularities, the Council of Europe observers report "great changes" compared to last December's election pattern of fraudulent voting and widespread violations of vote counts.

27 March: Azerbaijani presidential adviser for international affairs, Novruz Mamedov, commenting on the recent election of acting Russian President Vladimir Putin, expresses hope that the new Russian president will ensure that relations with Azerbaijan will be strengthened and expanded. Mamedov expresses this hope in response to recent worsening of relations between Moscow and Baku during the Russian military campaign in Chechenya that has caused Russia to close its border with Azerbaijan several times.

28 March: A Baku court sentences a group of 23 defendants to prison terms ranging from six months to fifteen years for their part in the January 1999 attempted escape from the Gobustan prison facility outside of Baku. The sentencing comes at the conclusion of a two-month trial marked by accusations of coerced testimony and torture during the investigation.

29 March: Azerbaijani National Security Minister Namik Abbasov refutes allegations from a recent London Sunday Times article that international oil companies were involved in the June 1993 overthrow of former President Elchibey. Abbasov adds that the article intends to damage relations with Turkey by referring to Turkish intelligence as a source for the article. The opposition Democratic Congress, comprising ten opposition political parties and groups, echoes the minister's comments charging that the article rests on unsupported allegations.

Republic of Nagorno Karabagh

Total area:
4,800 sq. km
Slightly smaller than Delaware

Bordering states:
Azerbaijan

Population:
150,000
31 persons/sq. km

Ethnic composition:
95% Armenian
5% Assyrian, Greek,
Kurdish, other

Leadership: Arkady Gukasyan, President; Anushevan Danielian, Prime Minister; Naira Melkoumian, Foreign Minister; Oleg Yessayan, Parliament Chairman

Independence: The Republic of Nagorno Karabagh was established on September 2, 1991 and declared its independence on January 6, 1992.

CIS membership status: Nagorno Karabagh is not a member of the CIS.

Constitution: The Parliament approved a constitution in June 1992.

Elections: Parliamentary elections were held April 30, 1995 for the 33-seat parliament. New Parliamentary elections are scheduled for April. Presidential elections were held September 1997.

Diplomatic representation: The Nagorno Karabagh representative to Armenia is Garen Mirzoyan. Artak Haroutiounian is the representative of Nagorno Karabagh to the European Community and the European Parliament. Vartan Barseghyan is the Director of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic Public Affairs Office in the United States.


MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

8 March: Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian reports to the Armenian Parliament that the internal political tension in the country has significantly impeded the mediation efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) over the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and has forced him to cancel several meetings and visits abroad. The series of direct talks and meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents over the past several months had provided a new impetus to the active engagement of the OSCE mediators.

15 March: The Nagorno Karabagh parliament adopts a draft election law featuring a single-mandate system for elections to the 33-seat legislature "as a basis for further discussion." The election legislation fails to include any provision for a party-based list of candidates. The parliamentary leadership has rejected the opposition's demands for such a party list system, contending that the political parties in Karabagh are currently too weak and fragmented to be able to offer any feasible alternative to the current system.

17 March: The Nagorno Karabagh Foreign Ministry issues a statement condemning recent Azerbaijani pronouncements warning that any foreign investment in Nagorno Karabagh would have an adverse effect on the ongoing mediation effort seeking a negotiated resolution to the Karabagh conflict. The Karabagh Foreign Ministry statement criticizes Azerbaijan for impeding the natural economic and political development of Karabagh and warns that such a position endangers peace and stability throughout the region.

21 March: Karabagh defensive military positions along the northern border of Nagorno Karabagh are attacked in a pre-dawn offensive by a detachment of Azerbaijani troops. The attack is effectively repulsed and Karabagh troops reinforce the area. Initial reports indicate that at least ten Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in the attack with no losses for the Karabagh side.

21-22 March: Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan is wounded in an attack by unknown gunmen as he is driven home from the presidential office. The attack leaves the president wounded in the back and the legs, and seriously wounds the driver and the president's bodyguard. President Gukasyan undergoes an emergency operation in Stepanakert and is then rushed with the other two wounded men by armed convoy to Armenia for further medical treatment. Karabagh security forces arrest over twenty suspects, including former Defense Minister Samvel Babayan and his brother Garen Babayan, the Mayor of Stepanakert and former Interior Minister. Tensions between Gukasyan and Babayan have escalated in recent months, to the point that Babayan physically assaulted Prime Minister Anushevan Danielian. Reacting to the assassination attempt, the Karabagh government issues a declaration of support for the president, defining the attack as an attempt to "undermine the statehood of Nagorno Karabagh" and a direct move to subvert the Gukasyan government's policy of political reform and democratization. The Armenian president also condemns the attack, affirming his "absolute support" for the wounded leader.

23 March: Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian visit recovering Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan in a Yerevan hospital. Doctors reveal that their operation was a success and report that Gukasyan is in satisfactory condition. In an announcement in Stepanakert, Karabagh Deputy Prosecutor-General Aramis Avagian states that Karabagh security forces have uncovered a significant store of "illegal weapons and ammunition" hidden in the homes of Samvel Babayan and his brother Garen Babayan, both currently imprisoned awaiting charges related to the attempted assassination.

24-25 March: Supporters of former Defense Minister Samvel Babayan call on the Karabagh authorities to release him, contending that there is no evidence of Babayan's involvement in the attack and criticizing the authorities for targeting Babayan in a politically motivated investigation. Two Karabagh parliamentarians add that the assassination seems to be part of a covert plot to remove both President Gukasyan and Babayan from Karabagh's "political arena" in an attempt to "destabilize the political situation." Two political factions within the Karabagh Parliament, the Right and Accord and Unity groups, are criticized by the government's press department for prematurely expressing skepticism over Babayan's guilt.

26 March: Several Armenian Parliamentarians meet in Stepanakert with Nagorno Karabagh Prime Minister Anushevan Danielian to demand the release of Samvel Babayan from custody. Danielian along with Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian both state that the overall situation in Nagorno Karabagh has returned to calm, but add that the Karabagh government will not allow any political pressure to effect the course of the investigation into the March 22nd assassination attempt against President Gukasyan.

26-27 March: The Nagorno Karabagh prosecutor-general's office reports that several of the suspects arrested previously have confessed to involvement in the attempted assassination of Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan. The prosecutor-general's office adds a later statement revealing that three of the men arrested in the investigation immediately following the shooting attack on President Gukasyan are security guards of former Defense Minister Samvel Babayan.

28 March: Officials in the prosecutor-general's office announce that they are releasing twelve suspects arrested on suspicion of complicity in the recent assassination attempt on the president. The suspects are released for a lack of evidence. In comments during a visit to Georgia, Armenian President Kocharian states that Karabagh authorities have arrested all participants in the attack and adds that the assassination is linked to local opposition to President Gukasyan's campaign to fight corruption and strengthen law and order in Karabagh.



The source for the COUNTRY REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1999
in the Caucasus profiles is the:
U.S. Department of State
1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

For additional information, contact the:
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, N.W., Suite 904
Washington, DC 20006
phone (202) 775-1918 ** fax (202) 775-5648
E-mail: anca@anca.org
Internet: http://www.anca.org/

Copyright © Armenian National Committee of America, 2000. All Rights Reserved.
 

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