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Friday, December 19, 2014
 

1997

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

IX
February 2000
2

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 - 2000 INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM

Overall Score: 2000: 3.10

1999: 3.45

1998: 3.50

1997: 3.50 (1=free, 5=not free)

Trade Policy

1

Monetary Policy

5

Wages & Prices

3

Fiscal Burden

3

Gov't Intervention

3

Property Rights

3

Banking

2

Foreign Investment

3

Black Market

4



[Armenia] has renewed its efforts to privatize all small-scale enterprises and a majority of medium to large-scale enterprises, do more to encourage foreign investment, and attract Armenians who have emigrated. The average tariff rate and government expenditures declined last year. The economy is becoming more open to foreign investment, and the government is privatizing its share in the banking industry. As a result, Armenia's final score has improved 0.35 points this year.


MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

3 January: Armenian television reports that the editorial offices of "Novoe Vremya" (New Times), a Yerevan-based Russian language newspaper, was seriously damaged in an arson attack on New Year's Eve. The newspaper's editor, Ruben Satyan, reveals that he received threatening telephone calls in recent weeks, but cannot confirm reports alleging that the attack is related to the newspaper's reprinting of a Moscow publication's controversial article on the October 27th attack on parliament.

7-8 January: Armenian National Television Deputy Director, Harutiun Harutiunian, is formally charged by prosecutors with complicity in the October 27th attack on parliament. The arrest results from testimony by Nairi Hunanian, the leader of the five gunmen responsible for the attack and killings in parliament. The Director of the National Television, Tigran Naghdalian, and his staff issue a strong condemnation of the arrest, dismissing it as a politically motivated act and charge that the prosecutors are being subjected to serious manipulation by supporters of former president Levon Ter Petrosian. Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) leader Vahan Hovanessian adds that the charges against Harutiunian, also an ARF member, are unfounded and warns that the investigators should see "the danger of rising tension" as most Armenians fail to "believe in or submit to the government."

10 January: The military prosecutor's office announces that police officer Artur Hakobian has been arrested for "operational negligence" related to the October 27th attack on parliament. Hakobian was commanding the police unit responsible for parliamentary security during the attack and is the third police officer to be detained for negligence in the incident. This arrest brings the total number of individuals charged in this case to seventeen.

10 January: A small group of Kurds stage a demonstration outside the United Nations offices in Yerevan to protest the Turkish Supreme Court's refusal to revoke the death sentence passed on Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). There is a small Kurdish minority population in Armenia with newspapers, cultural centers and schools.

12 January: Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian announces that investigators are close to concluding that the events of the October 27th parliament attack and shootings of senior government leaders were part of a broad attempt to overthrow the Armenian government. Jahangirian adds that the actual killings in the parliament were only part of a broader plot that was not fully launched and that he expects at least one or two senior officials, in addition to the seventeen currently detained, to be arrested shortly in connection to the conspiracy.

13 January: Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian gives a press briefing to review the previous year's foreign policy which was focused on regional issues, specifically, improving Armenia's relations with neighboring states. Oskanian states that bilateral relations with Iran and Georgia are strengthening, although the state of relations with Turkey remains unchanged despite the efforts of the United States to foster better relations. He adds that the upcoming meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents signify a resumption of the peace talks on Karabagh. Commenting on Russia, the foreign minister explains that Moscow remains a "strategic" partner, but says that Armenia is now also attempting to broaden its relations with the West and with the GUUAM regional grouping, which consists of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

14 January: Vahan Harutiunian testifies in court that former Interior Minister and leader of the former ruling Armenian National Movement (ANM), Vano Siradeghian, ordered the murder of two police officers after they failed to assassinate prominent Armenian businessman Serge Jilavian in Moscow in 1993. Harutiunian, who was the commander of the Interior Ministry Forces, also testifies that other senior ANM leaders were actively involved in other acts of politically-related murder and intimidation, including the killings of the head of the country's railways and a local government official.

15 January: In a meeting with journalists, Finance Minister Levon Barkhudarian announces the general outline of his government's proposed state budget prior to its formal submission to the parliament. According to the few details released, the proposed budget reflects a nearly identical set of targets and projections as last year, with expenditures set at 254 billion drams ($490 million) and estimated revenues of 202 billion drams. The budget sets aside roughly a third of its funds for social programs and allocates another twenty percent for defense and law enforcement. The budget projects economic growth of six percent with a five percent level of consumer price inflation. Barkhudarian states that economic growth for last year was four percent and inflation was two percent.

15 January: The Armenian Communist Party announces the selection of Vladimir Darbinian as its new first secretary. Darbinian replaces the late Sergei Badalian who died in Moscow in November, The new Communist Party leader promises to maintain the party's policies and to work closely with the party's parliamentary leader, Leonid Akopian. The 68-year old Darbinian served in the 1970s as Soviet Armenian Interior Minister and currently holds a post within the Defense Ministry.

17 January: The new leader of the Armenian Communist Party, Vladimir Darbinian, calls for early presidential elections to "help restore political stability." Darbinian also pledges to work with the dominant Unity bloc to pass several constitutional amendments seeking to reduce the powers of the president. The constitutional amendments, set for introduction next month with plans for a national referendum in May, will attempt to remove the president's power to dissolve the parliament.

19 January: Former Prime Minister and the head of the National Democratic Union (NDU), Vazgen Manukian, calls on President Kocharian to resign in order to ease the "anarchy" of the current political situation. The NDU leader, defeated in the 1996 and 1998 presidential elections, adds that his party will work to ensure that a new presidential election will be free and fair. Manukian criticizes calls for a referendum on constitutional amendments and demands for new parliamentary elections as insufficient methods to correct the country's worsening political and economic crises.

21-22 January: United States Assistant Secretary of State Steven Sestanovich and Carey Cavanaugh, the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE's working group on the Karabagh conflict, the so-called Minsk Group, hold a series of meetings with Armenian government leaders. The U.S. delegation reviews measures to accelerate mediation efforts and announces that the Minsk Group is currently drafting a revised peace plan. Sestanovich states that the Karabagh conflict needs to be resolved before there can be any improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations.

23 January: Anonymous Armenian officials confirm that Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has written a letter to President Kocharian inviting him to endorse the Turkish proposed regional stability pact recently announced in Tbilisi. The Turkish president writes that the Caucasus pact, which would be guaranteed by the international community, would bring "peace, stability and prosperity" to all states in the region.

24 January: World Bank officials in Armenia announce the extension of $85 million in new loans as long as the government continues its policies of deregulation, liberalization and economic reform. Approximately $45 million will be used to subsidize nearly half of the projected state budget deficit, while the rest will fund social programs and judicial reform. Total Armenian foreign debt is expected to reach $925 million by the end of the year.

27 January: Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian and visiting U.S. State Department official Bill Taylor reach an agreement for the formation of a special task force to promote bilateral economic relations between the two nations. This new task force will include representatives from several major U.S. governmental agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Export and Import Bank. After meeting with President Kocharian, Taylor announces that the World Bank has endorsed Washington's proposal to hold an international conference on regional economic reconstruction in the Caucasus. The U.S. conference initiative, styled after the Balkan model, seeks to foster greater regional cooperation and relations.

27 January: The leadership of the People's Party of Armenia, a partner in the dominant parliamentary Unity bloc, selects Stepan Demirchian as its new party leader. Demirchian, the son of slain Parliamentary Chairman Garen Demirchian, will head the party until the convening of a formal party congress next year.

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 were held November 1995. 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 - 2000 INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM

Overall Score: 2000: 3.65

1999: 3.65

1998: 3.65

1997: 3.85 (1=free, 5=not free)

Trade Policy

3

Monetary Policy

5

Wages & Prices

4

Fiscal Burden

1.5

Gov't Intervention

3

Property Rights

4

Banking

4

Foreign Investment

3

Black Market

5



Georgia has a developed agricultural sector that includes citrus production as well as resorts, light industry, and some high-tech enterprises. Ethnic unrest and two civil wars since becoming independent again in 1991 have hampered the development of a free market. Georgia has been plagued by hyperinflation and declines in industrial output. The administration of President Eduard Shevardnadze has achieved an economic turnaround by applying responsible economic policies. For example, Georgia has privatized many state-owned industries, opened its market to imports and foreign investment, and established a commercial code.

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

3 January: President Eduard Shevardnadze expresses his willingness to negotiate with Ajarian officials over outstanding arrears of 30 million lari (roughly $15 million) in Ajarian contributions to the Georgian state budget. Shevardnadze states that Ajaria may be able to retain some of its projected revenue for this year, but must settle all of the outstanding arrears for 1999.

6 January: Georgian officials confirm that former National Security Ministry official Temur Papuashvili died the previous day from acute pneumonia while in jail. Papuashvili, serving a prison sentence, was one of seven men convicted in May 1999 of attempting to overthrow the Shevardnadze government.

7 January: Foreign Ministry spokesman Avtandil Napetvaridze strongly refutes recent allegations by the Russian military charging Georgia with allowing Chechen rebels to establish bases along the Georgian side of its border with Chechenya. The Russian military also alleges that the Chechen field commanders are recruiting soldiers from the banned Georgian "Mkhedrioni" (Horsemen) paramilitary organization.

7 January: The members of the Georgian Council of Justice issue a statement threatening to resign unless the Georgian government pays the salaries of judges "regularly and promptly." The leader of the ruling Union of Georgian Citizens parliamentary bloc, Mikhail Saakashvili, defends the Council's statement, adding that the failure to pay the judges threatens the country's legal and judicial reforms and make the judges prone to bribery.

12 January: Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev refutes Georgian allegations that a shipment of arms it seized were being smuggled by Russian forces stationed at the Russian military base at Vaziani to Chechenya. The captured arms were shown on Georgian television and, according to Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, were evidence that elements of the Russian military are actively selling weapons to Chechen forces.

14-15 January: While visiting Tbilisi, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel calls for the creation of a new regional "Caucasus Peace and Stability Pact," to be collectively written and endorsed by the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The Turkish proposed pact would seek to consolidate security and stability throughout the region with the notable exclusion of Chechenya from the pact. Demirel also holds detailed discussions with the President Shevardnadze over the Georgian demands for amendments and additions to the four framework agreements signed last November on the planed Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline project. Following the meetings, the head of the Georgian International Operating Company, Giorgi Chanturia, states that the Turkish government has now accepted the Georgian demands for greater tariffs, a 2-3 percent share of the crude oil exports, and the utilization of European standards of ecological regulation of the pipeline. Azerbaijan remains adamant in refusing these Georgian demands related to the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline project.

16 January: The five-party opposition Union for Georgian Revival bloc announces that it will propose amendments to the current election law and will launch a campaign to gather 50,000 signatures calling for a national referendum on their amended election law. The opposition bloc also threatens to boycott the April 9th presidential election unless its amendments are passed.

17 January: Russian Unified Energy Systems (UES) head, Anatolii Chubais, meets with Georgian officials in Tbilisi and signs a protocol enabling the rescheduling of $36.25 million of the total $45.22 million Georgian debt to Russia for energy supplies. Chubais also concludes negotiations for a plan to construct a power line linking the Georgian, Turkish and Azerbaijani energy grids.

26 January: The Progressive Party of Georgia nominates Vazha Zhghenti as its candidate for the April 9th presidential election, following the earlier announcement that Avtandil Djoglidze will stand as the candidate for the "Mdzleveli" political union. President Shevardnadze was formally chosen as the ruling Union of Georgian Citizens nominee on January 20th. All three presidential candidates must now collect 50,000 signatures supporting their candidacy by the February 29th deadline.

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 - 2000 INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM

Overall Score: 2000: 4.20

1999: 4.20

1998: 4.30

1997: 4.65 (1=free, 5=not free)

Trade Policy

5

Monetary Policy

5

Wages & Prices

5

Fiscal Burden

4

Gov't Intervention

4

Property Rights

4

Banking

4

Foreign Investment

4

Black Market

4

Azerbaijan was beset with political instability from 1991 until 1994, aggravated by a conflict with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict with Armenia contributed to the underlying weakness of the Azerbaijani economy, despite its abundant oil reserves... In 1995, the government began to implement an economic reform package. At first, the results were impressive, but lower oil prices hurt the economy and reform efforts appear to have been halted.

MONTHLY CHRONOLOGY

1 January: Azerbaijani security forces are deployed to break up several demonstrations in the northern Belakan district, along the Azerbaijani-Georgian border. The demonstrators, comprising several hundred residents, call for the dismissal of the local electrical power supply department for negligence since the district has been without electricity since December 9th.

2-3 January: A statement released by nine leading Azerbaijani opposition parties dismisses the results of the December 12th local elections as fraudulent and marked by widespread voting irregularities, and calls for new elections. The statement, which included the Azerbaijan National Independence Party and the Musavat Party, but not the Azerbaijan Popular Front, also demands criminal charges be lodged against electoral officials who committed or ignored violations of the voting procedures.

6 January: Fourteen opposition parties issue a demand calling on the Azerbaijani government to officially register the opposition Azerbaijan Democratic Party. The Azerbaijan Democratic Party, first registered in 1992 before being banned in 1995, claims some 20,000 members and holds six seats in parliament. A group of nineteen parliamentarians raises the issue with the Council of Europe, asking it to consider the party's status during the appraisal of Azerbaijan's application for full membership.

7 January: The Russian military issues a press release strongly critical of Azerbaijan's links to Chechen rebels, specifically citing the Aliyev government's grant of sanctuary and protection for leading Chechen officials in Baku, including former Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov. The Russian media also contends that Azerbaijan is providing medical care and treatment for Chechen soldiers in Azerbaijani medical facilities and adds that Azerbaijani security forces have been protecting the family of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev.

9-10 January: President Geidar Aliyev, on a state visit to Turkey, meets with Turkish President Suleyman Demirel and other senior Turkish officials to further discuss the proposed construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and to review the latest mediation efforts over the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. Commenting on the Karabagh issue, President Aliyev states that there can be no resolution to the conflict without Turkish participation.

10 January: Officials of the Azerbaijan State Oil Company SOCAR suspend shipments of oil exported through the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline. The 10,000 tons of oil exported daily is instead being diverted to domestic electricity production which has been chronically insufficient.

11 January: President Aliyev warns that the ongoing demonstrations of ethnic Azerbaijanis in northern Iran are being organized by "unnamed forces" seeking to undermine relations between Baku and Tehran. The president also denies press reports that he has rejected an appeal from Mahmudali Chehragani, an Azerbaijani scholar at the Tabriz University, seeking medical treatment in Azerbaijan. Chehragani is reportedly a leader of the "South Azerbaijan National Liberation Movement," a group which has raised concerns of both Iranian and Azerbaijani government officials.

14 January: A presidential decree is issued calling for the creation of a new state commission empowered to oversee the formulation of an intergovernmental accord between Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Turkmenistan for the planned construction of the Trans-Caspian natural gas pipeline. An Azerbaijani delegation is scheduled to travel to Turkmenistan soon to discuss the allocation of capacity of the pipeline. The planned pipeline will have an annual capacity of 16 billion cubic meters and will transport both Turkmen and Azerbaijani natural gas westward.

17 January: Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliyev states that Baku should "revise its attitude toward Iran" and seek improved bilateral relations. The foreign minister adds the promise of considering the export of Azerbaijani oil through Iran, saying that Baku has always planned on the use of multiple pipeline routes for the export of its oil. Guliyev goes on to say that Azerbaijan is also considering using Armenian territory for building a pipeline, but only after the withdrawal of all Armenian forces from areas of Azerbaijan they currently hold. The comments are made amid a flurry of rumors of an impending state visit by President Aliyev to Iran.

18 January: The ruling Yenni Azerbaijan party, according to its Deputy Secretary Siyavush Novruzov, has undergone a serious transformation into a younger and more modern party since last month's election of Ilham Aliyev as one of the party's deputy chairman. Novruzov states that nearly 10,000 new members have joined over the last few weeks since the President's son was elected to a leadership position.

22 January: President Aliyev receives U.S. co-chairman Carey Cavanaugh of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group. The OSCE official, arriving from Yerevan following talks with Armenian officials, briefs Aliyev on the Minsk Group's plans to revise their peace plan for the Karabagh conflict. The Azerbaijani president welcomes the plan's revision (Azerbaijan rejected the earlier plan) and calls on the OSCE's Minsk Group to abandon its earlier proposal calling for the establishment of a "common state" comprising Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan proper.

22 January: By presidential decree, the Azergyzyl State Gold concern is abolished and its responsibilities and assets are transferred to the State Commission for Geology and Mineral Resources. This State Commission will now assume the operational work involved in the 1997 commercial agreement with a U.S. corporation to develop gold and silver mines along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

24 January: During the course of the Moscow summit meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), acting Russian President Vladimir Putin brokers a direct meeting between President Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian. President Putin announces Russia's readiness to act as a full guarantor for any negotiated solution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.

25 January: The chairman of the Azenergo state power generating company, Muslim Imanov, announces a nationwide rationing of electricity effective immediately. Electricity distribution will be halted throughout the country daily from 7:00 am to 9:00 am and from 7:00 pm to midnight, with the exception of Baku which will have reduced hours of rationing. Hospitals, schools, television and radio stations, prisons, and police facilities will be exempt. The shortage of electricity, which has led to many demonstrations throughout the country, is the result of nearly seventy percent of customers failing to pay for electricity and the lack of investment in the country's electrical production and distribution systems.

25 January: Gubad Ibadogly of the Musavat Party and Ali Masimov of the Azerbaijan Popular Front hold a press conference to criticize the rationing of electricity. The opposition officials contend that the electricity shortage is a clear example of the incompetence and corruption of the Aliyev government.

26 January: Aliyev convenes an emergency meeting with senior energy officials to denounce the corruption and inefficiency that has forced him to introduce a harsh national rationing program. Aliyev hints that some of the senior officials may be directly involved in the routine embezzlement of heating oil from thermal power stations and accuses some officials of misdirecting customers' electricity payments. The president dismisses the chairman of the Azerigas natural gas state company and the deputy chairman of the Azerenergy joint stock corporation and warns of future actions if the situation fails to improve.

27 January: Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov announces that President Aliyev is planning on visiting Iran sometime in February or March. The state visit to Iran was initially scheduled for last September, but was canceled after Tehran refused Azerbaijan's extradition request for interior ministry forces operative Mahir Djavadov, the brother of the unit's commander who led a coup attempt against Aliyev in 1995.

27 January: Representatives of the country's leading opposition political parties and groups meet in Baku and agree to form a new "National Resistance Movement" to advocate a "just solution" to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and to campaign for democratic elections.

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. 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

7 January: Nagorno Karabagh President Arkady Gukasyan meets with visiting Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Stepanakert. Kocharian also meets with Prime Minister Anushevan Danielian and several Karabagh district administrators. The Armenian president is in Stepanakert to join with family members in commemorating the first anniversary of the death of his brother in a plane crash.

7 January: President Gukasyan announces that Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian will also assume the responsibilities of Commander of Karabagh's Armed forces, a post previously held by the former Karabagh Defense Minister Samvel Babayan.

12-13 January: A new Karabagh veterans organization is established in Stepanakert comprised of supporters of President Gukasyan. The new group, the Union of Artsakh (Karabagh) War Veterans, is led by Deputy Defense Minister Vitaly Balasanian and includes Interior Minister Bako Sahakian. The group is planning a founding congress sometime next month to prepare for the parliamentary elections scheduled for this coming April. The group issues its first statement which strongly supports President Gukasyan and criticizes those who seek to escalate political unrest in Karabagh. Political figures in Stepanakert critical of the Karabagh president allege that the group was established with the support of the Armenia-based Yerkrapah movement and enjoys the personal backing of Yerkrapah leader General Manvel Grigorian.

14 January: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Berdyannikov discusses the peace talks on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict with Armenian President Kocharian and Nagorno Karabagh Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian during a meeting in Yerevan. Nikolai Gribkov, Russia's co-chairman of the OSCE's Minsk Group, also reviews the scheduled meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents during the upcoming Moscow summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). According to the Russian officials, acting President Vladimir Putin is currently considering the Russia's role in a post-conflict settlement, including the deployment peacekeeping troops to the region.

20 January: Nagorno Karabagh's Yerkrapah Union, increasingly separate and divided from the Armenia-based Yerkrapah Union, holds a party congress in Stepanakert and pledges its support for the former Commander of the Armed Forces Samvel Babayan. The 500-member party dismisses the recently formed Union of Artsakh War Veterans and party leader Arkady Karapetian renews its demand for President Gukasyan to resign, condemning his government as undemocratic. In turn, the Union of Artsakh War Veterans defends the president's actions against Babayan as essential for the establishment of democracy in Karabagh. The two rival groups are each organizing for the parliamentary elections scheduled for April.

24 January: Armenian President Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Aliyev hold another round of direct peace talks over the Nagorno Karabagh conflict during the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Moscow. Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin affirms Russia's willingness to act as a "guarantor" of any peace settlement and details the Russian proposal for deploying Russian peacekeeping troops along a demilitarized zone. Putin cites Russia's commitment to the Karabagh peace process, noting that the first direct presidential discussions were at the January 1999 CIS summit in Moscow.

26 January: According to new statistics released by Vladimir Sadayan, the head of the Karabagh Ministry of Social Security's Department of Population Migration, 192 families have resettled in Karabagh. The report shows that a total of 757 families, or about 3000 people, have settled in Karabagh since 1993. The Karabagh government has implemented a program of humanitarian assistance for the returning population and extends financial credits and land grants to spur agricultural development.

26 January: Armenian President Kocharian contacts President Gukasyan to brief him on his recent meeting with Azerbaijani President Aliyev. Kocharian's recent meeting with Aliyev during the CIS summit in Moscow, was the first direct talks between the two leaders since the Armenian parliament attack and shooting in late October.

28-29 January: The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, participate in a round table on the economic situation in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In a ninety-minute meeting following the round table, the two leaders enter into detailed negotiations over various aspects of the Karabagh issue. Kocharian rejects Aliyev's "peace pipeline" proposal through Armenia, stating that he would not "exchange land for pipelines." United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also holds two separate meetings with the leaders and pledges U.S. support for the post-conflict reconstruction of the region once a settlement is reached.

29 January: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan commends the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents for their recent meetings and cites "progress in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict." Annan adds that he expects that "within the next few months we may see an important announcement that could make a major impact on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabagh."

29 January: Nagorno Karabagh Foreign Minister Naira Melkoumian reveals that the Azerbaijani Foreign Affairs Ministry has lodged a formal letter of protest with the Swiss government over the investment and commercial activities of several Swiss firms in Nagorno Karabagh. Melkoumian criticizes Baku's position as contradicting the ongoing peace talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents and their stressing the need for economic reconstruction of the region.



The source for the 2000 INDEX OF ECONOMIC FREEDOM in the Caucasus profiles is the:
1999 Index of Economic Freedom
The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal

For additional information, contact the:
Armenian National Committee of America
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Washington, DC 20006
phone (202) 775-1918 ** fax (202) 775-5648
E-mail: anca@anca.org
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