Community Protests Denver Statement at Public Gathering

GLENDALE-More than 450 community members gathered at a public forum organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Central Committee Tuesday in protest of the Denver statement-a declaration by presidents Chirac–Clinton and Yeltsin–which undermined the interests of the Armenian nation in the Karabakh struggle.

The gathering was also meant to send a strong and united message to the Clinton administration–protesting Gaidar Aliyev’s scheduled Aug. 1 visit to the White House.

Master of Ceremonies Miro Khanzadian introduced the theme of the evening–as well as the speakers.

Seto Boyajian–the first speaker of the evening–spoke of the importance of the Karabakh struggle in the current Armenian reality.

Boyajian went on to outline the Karabakh conflict within the context of the Armenian Cause. The speaker emphasized the lack of understanding on the part of the international community.

He further noted that in order for the Armenian nation to move ahead in its struggle–all national forces in Armenia–Karabakh and the Diaspora must unite and be prepared to protect the Armenian interests.

Boyajian called on the community to cooperate with the Armenian National Committee of America offices–because as he explained–"the organization plays an integral role within the American political system," and the Armenian community has much to gain in the process.

According to Boyajian–the Karabakh issue is being dealt with not only at the White House–but also in Congress–and currently the Armenian community has three objectives in its activities. Those are–the restriction of government-to-government aid to Azerbaijan–the start direct aid to Nagorno-Karabakh–as well as a hard earmark of $150 million to Armenia–in addition to the restriction of aid to Turkey.

The second speaker of the evening Levon Marashlian emphasized the importance of public relations and the dissemination of information on the Karabakh struggle.

"We must formulate public opinion," said Marashlian. The Azeri government–said Marashlian–since 1992–with the help of the Turkish government has spread anti-Armenian information–and the Armenian nation has spent its time refuting such misinformation.

Vardan Oskanian–during his visit in the US spoke of the Karabakh issue–but he failed to outline the US interests in protecting the Karabakh population.

Marashlian criticized the weak information mechanism of the Armenian government–especially in the US–as he compared it to the Azeri concerted efforts to discredit the Armenian Cause.

"We are puzzled by the Armenian embassy’s lack of effective conduct of public relations–especially when such networks as CNN is readily available in Washington for the dissemination of facts," said Marashlian.

Razmig Shirinian–the final speaker of the evening in a very detailed manner presented the geo-political situation in the Transcaucasus.

Shirinian spoke of the Unite States’ role as a sole superpower in a post-Soviet Union international system. He did say that new powers such as China and the European Union–are emerging. The speaker included Russia and the Middle East as part of that new group of rising entities within the system–who will soon be able to determine the course of international relations.

Shirininan put much emphasis on the issue of fair and balanced governing within Armenia. "In such a case–both Armenia and Karabakh will benefit from it," asserted Shirinian.

Shirinian–too–spoke of the weakness of the Armenian government’s ability to formulate international opinion through its activities-an area in which Azerbaijan has had extreme success–he said.

According to the speaker–Armenia has yet to shape public opinion in regards to Azeri oil–which has been thus far used to lobby law makers and international bodies. "Armenia has to make the international community understand that oil cannot be used as a weapon to force victory. We must take an example from the Middle East and the Iran-Iraq war," explained Shirinian.

In conclusion the speakers all agreed that the faith of Karabakh cannot be decided at any monetary price. In addition they noted that the ANCA has worked very hard to expose Aliyev before his visit to the US. More than 45,000 postcards have been sent to the White House–and that number–according to the guests–must reach more than 100,000. In addition–the speakers agreed–Armenia has to have its say in pipeline politics.

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