June 10, 2007


Just to let our thousands of readers know we are now in Armenia. We have been here a week, crossing the border from Anatolia, via Georgia.

Here's an abridged update of some activities and news from the ROA.

1) It appears the recent meeting of OSCE co-chairs with the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Karabakh have proves fruitless. We were especially struck with the strong statement of President Ghoukasian of the NKR on Armenian TV where he stated without a prior settlement of the status of Karabakh proper, talk of other issues, most notably the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the "liberated lands" and the gradual return of those lands themeselves, is pointless. Watching the OSCE co-chairs (from France, USA and Russia) on TV we can understand why most people are saying....here we go again. Bryza, the US co-chair, exudes a great deal of optimism which doesn't seem to be shared by any one else. The news from Azerbaijan on the talks appears to be just as pessimistic.

2) Had a chance to visit Goris for two days on personal matters. Our driver, Davit, really floored his Mitsubishi and some of us were biting their nails. Goris is really picturesque but its needs are great as we were told. Tourists really need to stay for a few days on their way to Artsakh. There's much to see in the region, the monastery of Datev, etc. Unfortunately, there's only one hotel, Mirhav, and a small B&B. The friends we stayed with were gracious to a tee, like most in the small towns and villages. A favorite pasttime seems to be sitting on the balcony in the evening and watching the comings and goings on the street below. Both on the trip there and back our driver stopped a few times to pick up hapless and helpless people on the highway walking to their destination. Whether young woman with their kids or school pupils, they were grateful for the lift and complained about the lack of inter-city transport. And it's understandable. One more thing, someone needs to compile a dictionary of the Goris dialect-lovely, but incomprehensible to most, even Yerevan.

3) It's been three years since our last visit to Armenia. Changes? Where to begin. Much of North Avenue is completed or under construction. The central part of Yerevan is congested during the week and the air quality, at least during midday, is stifling. It seems like 70% of the population is under 25 years old. Something which makes most of us feel ancient when you think some of us studied here back in the Brezhnev "era of stagnation".

4) What is also interesting is the amount of news regarding diasporan matters. We heard an article about some Armenians entering the Parliament in Turkey. And one is the GREY WOLVES party-a pretty rabid nationalist bunch. The radio program interviewed a guy from the Marmara paper in Bolis and he said none of the four had any real dealings with the Armenian community, but it was an advantage to hasve some "minorities" in the parliament. Don't hold your breath.

5) Went to the Soorb Katoghike church off Abovian. It seems like the surrounding houses facing te street are being demolished. During the services, workmen were throwing their collected rubble into a huge pile that has almost reached the church entrance. Some tourists, probably Russian, were almost struck by the rolling stones.

OK. That's it for now. We'll keep in touch with new submissions at least once a week. Stay Well


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