Controversial Deputy Ousted in Culture and Youth Ministry Reshuffle

YEREVAN (Armenpress/Yerkir)–Armenia’s prime minister Andranik Margarian signed a decision dismissing Karen Aristakesian and Alice Adamian from their posts as deputy ministers at Armenia’s Ministry for Culture and Youth Affairs–and replacing them with Gagik Gyurjian and Karine Khodikian.

The outgoing Aristakesian caused an uproar in September 2003–with a statement he made in Turkey during a conference of culture ministers.

According to the Turkish Anadolu News Agency–the Armenian deputy minister announced that "nations should forget bad incidents that occurred in the past."

While Aristakesian accused the Turkish agency of distorting his words–and said that he spoke of establishing friendly relations generally with Armenia’s neighbors–without emphasizing Turkey–politicians in Armenia–across the board–reacted sharply to the statement.

National Assembly Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and ARF Armenia Representative Armen Rustamian said that while the information must be verified–he warned that similar statemen’s are unacceptable. "If in fact the deputy minister did make the statement–he should be held accountable."

The ARF faction took the issue to the National Assembly–"The ARF faction expresses concern–and raises objection about the Deputy Culture Minister’s statemen’s in Antalya?This is not the first time an Armenian official damages Armenia’s foreign policy by misrepresenting–on the international level–the issue of the Armenian Genocide." The statement also urged the body "to undertake specific fact-finding and adequate steps."

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