NEWS BRIEFS

CONG. SCHIFF CITES BLOCKADE OF ARMENIA–VOTES AGAINST TURKEY AID

WASHINGTON–DC–US Representative Adam Schiff supported an amendment last week to the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Bill to cut $1 billion in foreign aid to Turkey. Rep. Schiff issued the following statement:

"Due to Turkey’s limited assistance to the US in the war with Iraq and it’s continual trade blockade of Armenia–I felt it necessary to support a $1 billion cut in foreign aid to Turkey. I could not justify sending such enormous support to a country that claims to be our steadfast ally–but refuses to let the US Armed Forces use its military bases during a time of war.

In addition–the Republic of Armenia has suffered under the economic blockade of Turkey and Azerbaijan for decades and we are better off providing assistance to the victims of that blockade rather than its transgressors. We should focus our largest foreign spending efforts on our dedicated allies and supporters in the world community.

CONG. ESHOO CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF ARTSHAKH

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–Member of US Congress Anna Eshoo forwarded a message to the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arkady Ghoukassian–congratulating the people of Artsakh on the 15th anniversary of the national-liberation movement of Artsakh.

The two Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Congressmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ) also publicly congratulated the people of Nagorno Karabakh–in a February 14 letter; the Congressmen’said in part–"February 20–1988 marked the beginning of [your] determined effort to shake off Azerbaijan’s oppressive rule and shape [your] own destiny. The same commitment to liberty lay at the foundation of the American nation."

On the occasion–US Congressmen Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)–Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Frank Pallone–Jr. (D-NJ) submitted statemen’s to the congressional record congratulating the people of Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

OSCE INTERESTED IN ARMENIA’S ADOPTION OF OMBUDSMAN LAW

YEREVAN(Noyan Tapan)–The Head of the OSCE Yerevan Office Ambassador Roy Reeve revealed that international organizations are anxious for Armenia to adopt the law "On Ombudsman" as soon as possible.

Reeve was speaking at an April 7 UN Armenia event devoted to the discussion of the law on ombudsman.

A delegation of the Institute of Ombudsman from Sweden took part in the discussions–and shared experiences in forming the institute–the likes of which are necessary for democratic development.

Reeve said he hopes that the draft law on ombudsmen–already approved by the RA Parliament in its first reading–will be amended to assure that ombudsmen are elected by the Parliament and not appointed by the President.

The Head of the Swedish delegation Marianne von der Esch–mentioned that the institution of ombudsmen must be independent from executive authorities–revealing that the main function of ombudsmen is the stabilization of the relationship between broad sections of society and various branches of government.

Von der Esch emphasized that ombudsmen–though they hold no legal power–have the right to announce abuse of power by officials.

Ombudsman institutions have already been established in almost all CIS countries that have become members of the Council of Europe. Only Armenia has yet to adopt the law.

According to the Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Commission Hovhannes Asrian–all preconditions exist to establish such an institution in Armenia–but did not clarify whether the commission he chairs will cease its activity after ombudsmen assume their duty–saying only that parallel structures for human rights protection exist in many countries.

The Swedish delegation met with representatives of NGOs the same day. Meetings with experts from the Armenia’s National Assembly are also scheduled within the framework of the visit.

ARMENIA STOPS NUCLEAR POWER PLANT FOR REPAIRS

YEREVAN (ITAR-TASS)–The Armenian nuclear power plant has been stopped for planned repairs and refueling–its director Gagik Markosyan said on Saturday.

Specialists are cooling the reactor. The plant’s nuclear fuel has been used up and there is no point in restarting the station–he said.

He said after the plant’s security is upgraded–specialists will begin to load nuclear fuel–due to be purchased from Russia.

If the fuel arrives on time–the plant will be able to resume operation in summer–the director said. While the nuclear power plant is under repairs–the Hrazdan hydropower plant will make up for the shortfall of energy generation.

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