Armenia

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Secretary Clinton Remains Upbeat on Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Emil Sanamyan, Armenian Reporter)
The Economy is Cyclical; The Armenian Cause is Not (by Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian, Asbarez)
Nagorno-Karabakh: War, Peace, Or BATNA? (by Vartan Oskanian, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Texas Baptist Team Discovers Ongoing Needs in Armenia (by Crystal Donahue, Baptist Standard-Dallas)
Turkey - Armenia Relations Workshop (by Nasuhi Gungor, Turkish Press)
Turkey, Armenia, and the Azerbaijan Delay (by David L. Phillips, Boston Globe)
At Turkish Border, Armenians are Wary of a Thaw (by Clifford J. Levy, New York Times)
Ohio Elections Spat Involves Turkish History (by Stephen Majors, Associated Press)
IMF Predicts Sharp Economic Contraction For Armenia (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Ethanol in Armenia (by Kendrick Wentzel and Areg Gharabegian, Ethanol Producer Magazine) 
EU Pledges Aid to Former Soviet States (by Dan Bilefsky, New York Times)
Energy Security Fears Over Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Adrian Blomfield, Telegraph)
Armenia Pulls Out of NATO War Games in Georgia (by Hasmik Mkrtchyan, Reuters)
Turkey Weighs Ending Economic Embargo on Armenia (by Dorian Jones, Voice of America)
Armenia: Obama Escapes Blame for Omission (by Gayane Abrahamyan, Eurasianet)
Stakes High in Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Judy Dempsey, New York Times)
Turkey Objects to Obama's Message on Armenian Massacres (by Hande Culpan, Agence France-Presse)
Skirting Thorniest Issues, Turkey and Armenia Move to Ease Tensions (by Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu, New York Times)
Turkey is Missing Yet Another Opportunity With Armenia (by Vartan Oskanian, Beirut Daily Star)
Iran Offers Armenia Energy Line of Credit (United Press International)
Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey (by Kevin Bogardus, The Hill)
In Five Years, Armenia, Iran to be Connected by Rail (by Tatul Hakopyan, Armenian Reporter)
Turkey, Armenia are Likely to Ease Conflict (by Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times)
US Jews May be Ready to Step Into Armenian Genocide Debate (by Herb Keinon and Haviv Rettig Gur, Jerusalem Post)
 
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Overview
Armenia is a small, landlocked country in the Caucasus region, where Eastern Europe meets Western Asia. A former Soviet Socialist Republic, Armenia has developed extensive relations with both Europe and the U.S. since the end of the Cold War.
 
Throughout its long history, Armenia has been ruled by various foreign powers, including Arabs, Mongols and Persians. The Ottoman Turkish period is primarily noted for the Armenian Genocide. During the WWI period, at the end of the Ottoman Empire, at least hundreds of thousands and perhaps up to 1.5 million Armenians died when they were exiled by the Turks. Some were killed, while others died of starvation or disease. The historical event is the subject of a fierce debate, with the Turkish government vehemently denying that genocide took place, while Armenians in Europe and the U.S. press for official recognition of the massacre as the first genocide of the 20th century.
 
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and benefits from extensive relations with the U.S. and Western Europe, as well as a traditional alliance with Russia. Surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russian and Iran, Armenia sits at a powerful axis between East and West and plays an increasingly strategic role in regional politics. The U.S. has a vested interest in protecting oil pipelines in surrounding areas and cultivating a strong security partnership. Armenia is also close enough to Afghanistan and Iraq to provide the U.S. military with operational support–which it has done since the invasions in 2001 and 2003. An ongoing dispute and armed conflict over the Nagarno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan has led to a freeze between the two countries, and Turkey closed its borders and cut off economic relations with Armenia in response. However, in light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia, both Turkey and Armenia are considering a warmer relationship.
 
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Basic Information
Lay of the Land:
Armenia is a landlocked country in the Southern Caucasus region of Southwest Asia (Eurasia), between the Black and Caspian Seas. It is bordered by Turkey in the west, Georgia in the north, Azerbaijan-proper in the east, and Iran in the south, and also shares a southern border with the Azerbaijan-Naxcivan (Nagarno Karabakh) enclave, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
 
Slightly smaller in size than Maryland, Armenia has a mountainous terrain, with hot summers and cold winters. It is the second-most densely populated of the former Soviet Republics, and its population of about 3 million enjoys a median life expectancy of about 72 years and 94.4% literacy (99.7 % male, 99.2% female).
 
Population: 3.0 million
 
Religions: Armenian Christian 90%, Catholic 4%, other (Yezidi, Armenian Evangelical, Molokan, Baptists Mormon, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i) 5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3%.
 
Languages: Armenian 92.1%, North Azerbaijani 3.4%, Northern Kurdish 2.3%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4%, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 0.1%, Lomavren.
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History
Populated since prehistoric times and a suggested Biblical site, Armenia is the product of millennia of geopolitical, social and cultural transformations and migrations. With origins in the Euphrates Valley, at its high point, the territory of Armenia once spanned the Caucacus regions from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In its early history, Armenia was conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Persians, Byzantines and Mongols.
 
Armenia is known for being the first state to officially adopt Christianity, sometime in the early 4th century.
 
After a native monarchic rule, the Ottoman Turks took over the territory in 1375, which was in constant dispute between the Turks and the Persians throughout the Middle Ages.
 
The Russian Empire incorporated Eastern Armenia in the early 19th century, but the country remained under Ottoman rule, under which Armenian Christians had become an increasingly persecuted minority. Between 1894 and 1896, an estimated 80,000 (out of 300,000) Armenian Christians were massacred.
 
Between 1915 and 1917, at least hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished when the Ottoman Turks deported them–they were either killed, or died of starvation or disease. The subject is a topic of hot debate among historians, and between the Turkish government, which maintains that the deaths in questions were part of casualties on both sides of a civil war, and Armenians, who have long campaigned for international recognition of the events as genocide. While Turkish estimates are as low as 300,000, most estimates place the number of dead Armenians between 600,000 and 1.5 million.
 
After two years of independence following WWI, Russia took over Armenia and it became the smallest of the USSR Republics.
 
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia became engaged in an armed territorial dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region. After a Soviet-brokered ceasefire in 1994–and an apparent victory for Karabakh Armenians, who gained control of the disputed territory as well as part of Azerbaijan proper—borders between the two countries remain closed and a complete resolution has yet to be reached.
 
 

 

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Armenia's Newspapers
 
Armenian-American Newspapers
Armenian Mirror-Spectator (Weekly, in English)
Armenian Weekly (Weekly, in English)
Armenian Reporter (Weekly, in English)
Asbarez (Daily, bilingual in Armenian, English)
Massis (Weekly, bilingual in Armenian, English)
Oragark (Weekly, in Armenian)

 

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History of U.S. Relations with Armenia
Since the end of the Cold War, relations between the U.S. and Armenia have been friendly. The U.S. recognized Armenia as an autonomous state in 1991, and established diplomatic relations the following year with the opening of its Yerevan embassy. The U.S. played a pivotal role in the country’s reconstruction and transition to a free-market economy, giving nearly $2 billion in humanitarian and technical assistance under the FREEDOM Support Act since 1992.
 
Since establishing diplomatic relations, the two countries have operated under three major trade and economic agreements: Agreements of Trade Relations, Investment and Protection of Investment. Negotiations are currently pending for a bilateral tax trade agreement.
 
Since 1998, the U.S. and Azerbaijan have held a bilateral security dialogue, placed under new pressures by President Bush’s Global War on Terror. After September 11, 2001, the U.S. waived the Freedom Support Act clause restricting military assistance for Armenia and Azerbaijan, allowing for new security and military “cooperation” with both countries.
 
When the U.S. launched its military operations in Afghanistan, Armenia provided airspace, refueling, landing and other support for U.S. aircraft.
 
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Armenia
Famous Armenian-Americans:
 
Rouben Mamoulian – A director whose noteworthy films include: City Streets, The Mark of Zorro, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Golden Boy.  He directed the feature film Becky Sharp, which was the first film that utilized the colorizing process called Technicolor.
 
Hampar Kelikian – A doctor who helped U.S. Senator Robert Dole avoid having his arm amputated from injuries sustained during WWII by applying newly invented medical techniques. 
 
Cher – An actress, singer, songwriter, author and entertainer and among her many accomplishments, she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards.
 
Alex Manoogian - Started the Masco Screw Company and designed faucets for Delta.   He became the Life President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and has consistently contributed to the Armenian Community.
 
Kirk Kerkorian – A billionaire businessman that founded Transinternational Airlines and has owned Western Airlines, MGM movie studios, and the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
 
Andre Agassi – A former World No. 1 professional tennis player who won eight Grand Slam singles tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in singles.
 
Eric Bogosian – An actor and author who has earned acclaim for his three Obie Award-winning one-man performances Drinking in America, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead.
 
Mike Connors (Krikor Ohanian) - An actor who had starring roles in television shows: Tightrope, Mannix, Today’s FBI and Crimes of the Century
 
George Deukmejian– Served as an attorney general and former governor of California. 
 
Bob Keeshan - He is the actor and producer responsible for the success of the long-running children's program, Captain Kangaroo.
 
Armen Keteyan - He is a six-time Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS and HBO Sports and a New York Times bestselling author and coauthor of eight books.
 
Jack Kevorkian - A pathologist who advocated for assisted suicide and authored the following books: Medical Research and the Death Penalty, Prescription: Medicine: The Goodness of Planned Death, The Story of Dissection (a medical history), and Slimmeriks and the Demi-Diet.
 
George Mardikian - Awarded the Medal of Freedom for aiding combat troops in Korea obtain better food services.
 
Ara Parseghian- He was the most successful head coach for the University of Notre Dame football team and compiled a 95-17-4 record.
 
William Saroyan - He is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, and essayist who published more than 60 books in his lifetime. His most famous work, The Human Comedy, earned him an academy award for best-adapted screenplay. 
 
Garo Yepremian - He was the Miami Dolphins place-kicker from 1970 to 1978 and was voted the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Kicker of the Decade.
 
Armand Zildjian - President and Chairman of the world's largest cymbal manufacturer and the oldest company in America.
 
System of a Down - A Grammy-award winning band whose members are all of Armenian descent.
 
Arshile Gorky (Vostanik Manoog Adoyan) He was considered the founder of American abstract expressionism and one of the most important painters in the 1930's and 40's
 
Paul Ignatius - Secretary fo the Navy during the Johnson administration.
 
Arlene Francis – An entertainer that has worked in radio, television and on Broadway.
 
Mihran Mesrobian – A prominent architect in the Washington, DC area.
 
David Shakarian – Founder of GNC chain-stores devoted to health and nutrition products.
 
Patricia Field - An American Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winning costume designer, stylist and fashion designer.
 
Mark Geragos – Defense attorney whose clients include: Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Winona Ryder and Scott Peterson.
 
Robert Kardashian - Defense attorney who represented OJ Simpson.
 
Carla Garapedian – Documentary Filmmaker and BBC Correspondent whose works include: Children of the Secret State, Dying for the President, Lifting the Veil, Iran Undercover, My Friend the Mercenary and Screamers
 
Hughes Brothers – Filmmakers whose works include: Menace II Society, Dead Presidents and From Hell.
 
Ross Bagdasarian - Record producer and songwriter, also known as David Seville of The Chipmunks.
 
Rousas John Rushdoony - Credited as the father of both Christian Reconstructionism and the modern homeschool movement.
 
Raymond V. Damadian – A scientist who was a pioneer of MRI technology.
 
Alex Sevanian – A molecular pharmacologist who was a pioneer in free radical research
 
Luther George Simjian – Inventor of the ATM and holder of over 200 patents.
 
George Stamoboulian - A key figure in the early gay literary movement in New York and best known as the editor of the Men on Men anthologies of gay fiction.
 
Situated between Iran, Turkey and Russia, Armenia and its regional relations are of increasing strategic importance to the U.S. government.
 
Armenia has provided support for the U.S. in its military operations in nearby Afghanistan and Iraq, and remains an important security point in regard to neighboring Iran, whose regional influence the U.S. would like to limit. (While keeping up relations with Washington, Armenia has strengthened some ties with Iran in the last few years, specifically with regard to energy. In 2004 Armenia began building an oil pipeline that would connect the two countries).
 
A balanced alliance with the Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia serves U.S. economic and security interests in the region. The U.S. has been a co-mediator in OSCE efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and maintains close economic relations with Armenia, although in 2005, U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan was more than triple the amount to Armenia.
 
The U.S. would also like to see warmer relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan’s ally, Turkey. Russia’s recent war in Georgia has recently given the two countries reason to make diplomatic progress. Western-backed pipelines shipping from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean in Turkey currently bypass Armenia and go through Georgia, making Armenia an attractive alternative in the event of continued instability.
 
Armenian-Americans
385,488 people identified themselves as Armenian in the 2000 U.S. census. Armenians have a long history in America, beginning with “Martin the Armenian,” a farmer who arrived before the Pilgrims. Immigration was limited until the turn of the twentieth century, when the nationalist Turks massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1894-1895. 64,000 Armenians emigrated between 1890 and 1914. The Turkish government’s genocide of a million more Armenians during World War I pushed another 30,771 Armenians to America from 1920-1924, when the Johnson-Reed Immigration effectively halted Armenian immigration by reducing the annual quota to 150. The most significant wave has been since World War II, as hundreds of thousands of Armenians have fled Islamic fundamentalist and Arab/Turkish nationalist movements in nations surrounding it. The majority of Armenians live in California, and have formed a strong, integrated community in Los Angeles. Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan are also home to sizable Armenian populations.
 
Tourism
3,668 Armenians visited the U.S. in 2006. The number of tourists has remained close to 3,500 in recent years.
 
45,535 Americans visited Armenia in 2006. Tourism has grown consistently since 2002, when only 25,026 Americans went to Armenia.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow
Until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Armenian economy was largely industry-based (chemicals, machinery, textiles, etc.), agriculture accounted for small percentages of net material product and employment, and the country was highly dependent on imports.
 
Since the introduction of economic reform, foreign aid and investment, a large portion of which comes from the U.S. (although Greece is currently the biggest foreign direct investor), the construction sector in Armenia has grown significantly. Government plans, foreign investment and remittances from the Diaspora contribute to the growth of this industry.  
 
Currently, approximately 70 U.S.-owned companies do business in Armenia, including tech giants Dell, Microsoft and IBM. According to the U.S. Department of State, recent major U.S. investment projects include: the Hotel Armenia/Marriott; the Hotel Ani Plaza; Tufenkian Holdings (carpet and furnishing production, hotels, and construction); several subsidiaries of U.S.-based information technology firms, including Viasphere Technopark, an IT incubator; Synopsys; a Greek-owned Coca-Cola bottling plant; jewelry and textile production facilities; several copper and molybdenum mining companies; and the Hovnanian International Construction Company.
 
Armenia Trade, General
Armenia’s main trade partners in the period January – November 2006 were the
Russian Federation (13.2% of total trade turnover), Germany (9.5%), Belgium (7.5%),
Israel (6.4%), the Ukraine (6.1%) and the USA (5.4%). (
 
U.S. Exports to Armenia
In 2007, themain US exports to Armenia were pharmaceuticals, new and used passenger cars, jewelry and non-monetary gold, laboratory instruments, corn and meat/poultry. Trade in these commodities has generally increased between 2003 and 2007, while other goods, in particular food oils and “finished metal shapes,” have decreased significantly.
 
U.S. Imports from Armenia
In 2007, total Armenian exports to the U.S. were around $32.8 million, with jewelry the highest single value ($13.3 million). Steelmaking materials were around $3 million, and alcoholic beverages were around $120,000, a steady increase from 2003. Cotton apparel, household goods and textiles were significantly down from 2003.
 
US Aid to Armenia
Per capita, Armenia is one of the world’s biggest aid recipients. In 2006 and 2007, respectively, the U.S. government gave Armenia $74.4 and $63.8 million in assistance. From 1992 through 2006, U.S. aid to the country totaledmore than $1.7 billion.
Armenia: Security Assistance (the U.S. sold $487,268 of defense articles and services to Armenia in 2007)
 
 
In 2007, the $63.8 million aid budget from the U.S. allotted the most funds to Civil Society ($11.0 million), Health ($9.6 million), Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($6.3 million), Combating WMD ($4.7 million), and Private Sector Competitiveness ($4.6 million). The 2008 budget estimate retained similar levels of funding at $62.4 million, with a similar distribution between the various programs. The 2009 budget request will reduce aid to $27.9 million. The 2009 budget will distribute the most aid to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($4.0 million), Health ($3.5 million), Civil Society ($3.0 million), and Social Services and Protection for Especially Vulnerable People ($2.7 million).
 
In 2006 Armenia signed a contract with the U.S.’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for $235 million in conditional assistance, meant to target poverty alleviation through investments in infrastructure, roads and irrigation, with the first disbursement handed out in 2006.
 
Minerals Management Service:
 
According to USASpending.gov, the MMS has spent nearly $5.4 billion on contracts with 3,394 contractors between 2000-2009. The nation’s largest petroleum and natural gas companies enjoy considerable economic benefits from MMS operations and decisions. Corporations like Shell, BP, Chevron, Kerr-McGee, Exxon Mobil and Apache hold oil and/or natural gas leases managed by MMS. In total, there are 126 companies listed as natural gas lease-holders—many of whom are also found among the 129 companies listed as oil lease-holders.
 
Other stakeholders that benefit from offshore oil and gas leases are companies that manufacture oil rigs and drills plus other equipment used by lease holders. Examples of these are oil and gas infrastructure providers are Halliburton (formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney), Bechtel and Baker Hughes.
 
The top ten contractors for the MMS are:
 Saic, Inc.
$337,758,218
 Wpp PLC
$257,893,589
 Ca, Inc.
$240,780,696
 Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
$234,764,211
 Nana Regional Corporation, Inc.,
$188,572,158
 Crgt, Inc.
$171,287,643
 Accenture Ltd
$158,475,260
 Northrop Grumman Corporation
$129,394,534
 General Dynamics Corporation
$128,610,029
 Sra International, Inc.
$127,839,715
 
The MMS’s largest contractor is a scientific, engineering, and technology applications company that works in national security, energy and the environment, critical infrastructure, and health. For the MMS, the company provides telecommunication and technical assistance including the maintenance and repair of equipment.
 
The MMS’s second largest contractor specializes in marketing, communication and advertising. For the MMS, the company professional and administrative development support. 
 
The MMS’s third largest contractor specializes in IT solutions including database maintenance and security management. For the MMS, the company provides software and automatic data processing services.
 
The MMS’s fourth largest contractor is a leading strategy and technology consulting firm. For the MMS, the company provides professional administrative and management support including telecommunication and systems design.   
 
The MMS’s fifth largest contractor specializes in engineering and construction; resource development; facilities management and logistics; real estate and hotel development; and information technology and telecommunications. For the MMS, the company provides telecommunication services and data storage. 
 
The MMS’s sixth largest contractor is a consulting firm that provides a wide range of services and solutions to both defense and civilian agencies within the government. For the MMS, the company provides automatic data processing and telecom services. In addition, it also maintains facility operation and maintenance.   
 
The MMS’s seventh largest contractor provides services in consulting, technology and outsourcing in addition to research for a wide array of industries. For the MMS, the company provides automated information systems design and integration and engineering and technical services. 
 
The MMS’s eight largest contractor that provides global security through innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services. For the MMS, the company provides automatic data processing and telecom services. 
 
The MMS’s ninth largest contractor specializes in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technologies. For the MMS, the company provides data processing and telecom services. 
 
The MMS’s tenth largest contractor designs, develops, integrates and implements large and complex systems for defense and military service organizations. They provide strategic and tactical command, control and communications systems and analytical support. It also supports federal civil agencies with comprehensive professional and IT consulting services and enterprise-wide infrastructure support. For the MMS, they provide systems analysis, data processing and telecom services. 
 
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Controversies
Genocide
The U.S., a strong Turkish ally and home to a large Armenian Diaspora (and nominally powerful lobby group) doesn’t have to do much to land in the middle of the controversy over the Armenian genocide.
 
In 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans was recalled from his post after he described the forced exile and deaths of at least hundreds of thousands of Armenians as genocide. Armenian lobbyists  challenged the Bush Administration when it replaced Evans with an ambassador who upheld the Bush line.
 
Turkey, which hands down jail time for “insulting Turkishness” to citizens who raise the “genocide” question, cut military ties and pulled out of several important economic contracts with France when the French government officially recognized the genocide. When a U.S. Congressional committee proposed to do the same in 2007, Turkey responded with outrage and similar threats. The bill nearly passed with a majority of co-sponsor votes, but was withdrawn under pressure from the Bush administration, which relies on Turkey to transfer 70% of its military air supplies to Iraq.
Armenians try to stall appointment of US envoy (by Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe)
 
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Human Rights
As a member of the European Council (since 1999) and an aspiring EU member, Armenia is influenced and generally tends to abide by most European standards of human rights behavior.
 
Transitioning to a free market economy since the early 1990s, economic freedoms in Armenia are still considered marred by corruption and inequality. With regard to civil liberties and democracy, it is given a fair rating by most international observers, but is considered a fragile democracy that could easily be uprooted.
  
Widespread corruption exists in the country’s political establishment, court system and police units. Police are regularly charged with beating and torturing prisoners to obtain confessions, which are then upheld in court. Critics accuse security forces of conducting biased investigations, ignoring contradictory evidence and planting evidence. The executive branch remains highly influential in court proceedings, which heavily favor the prosecution. Freedom of speech and press remain somewhat limited, with reporters practicing self-censorship and routinely suffering police harassment. 
 
The 2008 presidential elections and the protests that ensued afterwards were marred by charges of corruption and police brutality. Problems included: favorable treatment of the government's candidate, instances of ballot stuffing, vote buying, multiple voting, voter intimidation, violence against election commission members and party proxies, and misuse of public resources for electoral ends. Opposition supporters were subject to unlawful arrests, intimidation, violence and censure. Clashes between police and protesters resulted in 10 deaths: 8 civilian and 2 police officers. A fact-finding panel that was established to investigate police conduct reported that officers acted appropriately, despite contradictory video footage and eyewitness reports. A 20-day state of emergency allowed the government to ban public gatherings, censor the media and block websites and radio stations expressing opposing viewpoints. 
 
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Debate
Did the Turks Commit Genocide against the Armenians?
The biggest single debate involving the U.S. and Armenia is that of the Genocide. While genocide experts support the Armenians’ claims as irrefutable historical fact, many scholars and historians disagree on whether the WWI-era forced exile massacres Armenians suffered at the hands of Ottoman Turks should be classified as genocide.
 
The crucial factor in determining genocide, the systematic destruction of a group of people, is the presence of premeditation and intention. (See the legal definition from the U.N Convention on Genocide).
 
In Washington, the debate often divides among party lines. When Congress voted to require the president to recognize the genocide, Turkey was outraged, and the Armenian ambassador was recalled after using the word “genocide” to describe the event in question. The formidable Armenian lobby in the U.S. stalled the new Bush appointee, who avoided the designation.
Bitter history of Armenian genocide row (by Chris Morris, BBC News)
 
Establishing the Genocide Designation
Do the Right Thing, President Obama (by Carla Garapedian, Huffington Post)
Time to Recognize the Armenian Genocide (by Adam Schiff, Wall Street Journal)
Issue Brief: Armenian Genocide Affirmation (Armenian Assembly of America)
 
 
Questioning the Genocide Designation
Revisiting the Armenian Genocide (by Guenther Lexy, Middle East Quarterly)
Armenian Genocide Debate (ArmenianGenocideDebate.com)
 
News/Analysis
Turkey, the World, and the Armenian Question (by Arend Jan Boekestijn) (PDF)
Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey (by Kevin Bogardus, The Hill)
The Armenian Question: A Snapshot (by Betwa Sharma, Huffington Post)
U.S. and Turkey Thwart Armenian Genocide Bill (by Carl Hulse, New York Times)
House Panel Raises Furor on Armenian Genocide (by Steven Lee Myers and Carl Hulse, New York Times)
Armenian Furor Over PBS Plan for Debate (by Randal C. Archibold, New York Times)
 
 
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Armenia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Markarian, Tatoul

Born in Kapan, Armenia, in 1964, Tatoul Markarian earned his undergraduate and PhD degrees from the Yerevan University of National Economy, a master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, and a PhD from the London School of Economics.
 
Markarian served in Armenia’s legislative and executive branches before joining the Foreign Service. He was Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Armenian Parliament from 1990 to 1991, and Assistant and then Adviser to the Vice President of Armenia from 1991 to 1994. He also served as Acting Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Armenia from 1991 to 1992.
 
Markarian was Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister-Counselor of the Armenian Embassy in Washington from 1994 to 1999. From 1999 to 2000, he was Adviser to the Foreign Minister in Armenia. From 2002 to 2003, he was Special Representative of the President of Armenia for Nagorno Karabakh negotiations, and the Armenian coordinator for the U.S.-Armenia Strategic and NATO-Armenia Political-Military Dialogues. Before his appointment as Ambassador, Markarian was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (since 2000).
 
 

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Armenia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Heffern, John
ambassador-image

John Heffern, a career diplomat who has spent much of his career working in East Asia, was nominated in May 2011 to serve as ambassador to Armenia. However, his nomination has been held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) as a protest against President Barack Obama’s refusal to characterize the Turkish killing of Armenians during World War I as a “genocide.” At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Heffern sidestepped the issue, stating only that “the characterization of those events… is a policy decision that is made by the president of the United States.”

 
Heffern’s father served briefly in the Foreign Service. He met his wife in India. Heffern’s mother is a naturalized citizen.
 
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Heffern graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in international relations in 1976.
 
He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 after serving as office director and research assistant for Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri). His early postings included China, Taiwan and Cote d’Ivoire.
 
Heffern was later assigned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then took postings in Washington, DC, related to Southeast Asia.
 
From 1994 to 1996, he worked on the House International Relations Committee as a Pearson Fellow for Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska).
 
Heffern served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and as political counselor at the U.S. Mission to NATO.
 
After postings in the Human Resources Bureau in Washington, as executive assistant to under secretary for political affairs, and as deputy chief of mission at U.S. embassy Jakarta, Indonesia, he reported back to the U.S. Mission to NATO as the deputy permanent representative in 2009.
 
Heffern and his wife of 32 years, Libby Dowling Heffern, have five children.
 
Official Biography (State Department) (pdf)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Yovanovitch, Marie
ambassador-image

A career diplomat, Marie L. Yovanovitch was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia on August 5, 2008. She earned a B.A. in History and Russian Studies from Princeton in 1980 and an M.S. from the National War College in 2001. She joined the Foreign Service in 1986, and served in Ottawa, Moscow, London and Mogadishu before becoming Deputy Director of the Office of Russian Affairs. From 2001 to 2004, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, and from 2004-2005 she was the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Before her appointment to Yerevan in 2008, Yovanovitch was Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008).
 
In her Senate confirmation hearing, Yovanovitch avoided using the word “genocide,” noting that it was a “policy decision” only top officials (e.g., the President or Secretary of State) could make, instead opting for “ethnic cleansing” and describing the events as “one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.”
 

Marie L. Yovanovitch, however, acknowledges atrocities by Turks and calls Armenians’ suffering ‘one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.’ (by Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times)

Marie L. Yovanovitch confirmed as Ambassador to Armenia

 

 

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News

 

Secretary Clinton Remains Upbeat on Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Emil Sanamyan, Armenian Reporter)
The Economy is Cyclical; The Armenian Cause is Not (by Pattyl Aposhian-Kasparian, Asbarez)
Nagorno-Karabakh: War, Peace, Or BATNA? (by Vartan Oskanian, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Texas Baptist Team Discovers Ongoing Needs in Armenia (by Crystal Donahue, Baptist Standard-Dallas)
Turkey - Armenia Relations Workshop (by Nasuhi Gungor, Turkish Press)
Turkey, Armenia, and the Azerbaijan Delay (by David L. Phillips, Boston Globe)
At Turkish Border, Armenians are Wary of a Thaw (by Clifford J. Levy, New York Times)
Ohio Elections Spat Involves Turkish History (by Stephen Majors, Associated Press)
IMF Predicts Sharp Economic Contraction For Armenia (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Ethanol in Armenia (by Kendrick Wentzel and Areg Gharabegian, Ethanol Producer Magazine) 
EU Pledges Aid to Former Soviet States (by Dan Bilefsky, New York Times)
Energy Security Fears Over Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Adrian Blomfield, Telegraph)
Armenia Pulls Out of NATO War Games in Georgia (by Hasmik Mkrtchyan, Reuters)
Turkey Weighs Ending Economic Embargo on Armenia (by Dorian Jones, Voice of America)
Armenia: Obama Escapes Blame for Omission (by Gayane Abrahamyan, Eurasianet)
Stakes High in Armenia-Turkey Talks (by Judy Dempsey, New York Times)
Turkey Objects to Obama's Message on Armenian Massacres (by Hande Culpan, Agence France-Presse)
Skirting Thorniest Issues, Turkey and Armenia Move to Ease Tensions (by Sabrina Tavernise and Sebnem Arsu, New York Times)
Turkey is Missing Yet Another Opportunity With Armenia (by Vartan Oskanian, Beirut Daily Star)
Iran Offers Armenia Energy Line of Credit (United Press International)
Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey (by Kevin Bogardus, The Hill)
In Five Years, Armenia, Iran to be Connected by Rail (by Tatul Hakopyan, Armenian Reporter)
Turkey, Armenia are Likely to Ease Conflict (by Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times)
US Jews May be Ready to Step Into Armenian Genocide Debate (by Herb Keinon and Haviv Rettig Gur, Jerusalem Post)
 
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Overview
Armenia is a small, landlocked country in the Caucasus region, where Eastern Europe meets Western Asia. A former Soviet Socialist Republic, Armenia has developed extensive relations with both Europe and the U.S. since the end of the Cold War.
 
Throughout its long history, Armenia has been ruled by various foreign powers, including Arabs, Mongols and Persians. The Ottoman Turkish period is primarily noted for the Armenian Genocide. During the WWI period, at the end of the Ottoman Empire, at least hundreds of thousands and perhaps up to 1.5 million Armenians died when they were exiled by the Turks. Some were killed, while others died of starvation or disease. The historical event is the subject of a fierce debate, with the Turkish government vehemently denying that genocide took place, while Armenians in Europe and the U.S. press for official recognition of the massacre as the first genocide of the 20th century.
 
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and benefits from extensive relations with the U.S. and Western Europe, as well as a traditional alliance with Russia. Surrounded by Turkey, Azerbaijan, Russian and Iran, Armenia sits at a powerful axis between East and West and plays an increasingly strategic role in regional politics. The U.S. has a vested interest in protecting oil pipelines in surrounding areas and cultivating a strong security partnership. Armenia is also close enough to Afghanistan and Iraq to provide the U.S. military with operational support–which it has done since the invasions in 2001 and 2003. An ongoing dispute and armed conflict over the Nagarno-Karabakh region between Armenia and Azerbaijan has led to a freeze between the two countries, and Turkey closed its borders and cut off economic relations with Armenia in response. However, in light of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia, both Turkey and Armenia are considering a warmer relationship.
 
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Basic Information
Lay of the Land:
Armenia is a landlocked country in the Southern Caucasus region of Southwest Asia (Eurasia), between the Black and Caspian Seas. It is bordered by Turkey in the west, Georgia in the north, Azerbaijan-proper in the east, and Iran in the south, and also shares a southern border with the Azerbaijan-Naxcivan (Nagarno Karabakh) enclave, a disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
 
Slightly smaller in size than Maryland, Armenia has a mountainous terrain, with hot summers and cold winters. It is the second-most densely populated of the former Soviet Republics, and its population of about 3 million enjoys a median life expectancy of about 72 years and 94.4% literacy (99.7 % male, 99.2% female).
 
Population: 3.0 million
 
Religions: Armenian Christian 90%, Catholic 4%, other (Yezidi, Armenian Evangelical, Molokan, Baptists Mormon, Jewish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baha'i) 5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Armenian 97.9%, Yezidi (Kurd) 1.3%, Russian 0.5%, other 0.3%.
 
Languages: Armenian 92.1%, North Azerbaijani 3.4%, Northern Kurdish 2.3%, Yezidi 1%, Russian 0.9%, other 0.4%, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 0.1%, Lomavren.
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History
Populated since prehistoric times and a suggested Biblical site, Armenia is the product of millennia of geopolitical, social and cultural transformations and migrations. With origins in the Euphrates Valley, at its high point, the territory of Armenia once spanned the Caucacus regions from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. In its early history, Armenia was conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Persians, Byzantines and Mongols.
 
Armenia is known for being the first state to officially adopt Christianity, sometime in the early 4th century.
 
After a native monarchic rule, the Ottoman Turks took over the territory in 1375, which was in constant dispute between the Turks and the Persians throughout the Middle Ages.
 
The Russian Empire incorporated Eastern Armenia in the early 19th century, but the country remained under Ottoman rule, under which Armenian Christians had become an increasingly persecuted minority. Between 1894 and 1896, an estimated 80,000 (out of 300,000) Armenian Christians were massacred.
 
Between 1915 and 1917, at least hundreds of thousands of Armenians perished when the Ottoman Turks deported them–they were either killed, or died of starvation or disease. The subject is a topic of hot debate among historians, and between the Turkish government, which maintains that the deaths in questions were part of casualties on both sides of a civil war, and Armenians, who have long campaigned for international recognition of the events as genocide. While Turkish estimates are as low as 300,000, most estimates place the number of dead Armenians between 600,000 and 1.5 million.
 
After two years of independence following WWI, Russia took over Armenia and it became the smallest of the USSR Republics.
 
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Armenia became engaged in an armed territorial dispute with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Karabakh region. After a Soviet-brokered ceasefire in 1994–and an apparent victory for Karabakh Armenians, who gained control of the disputed territory as well as part of Azerbaijan proper—borders between the two countries remain closed and a complete resolution has yet to be reached.
 
 

 

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Armenia's Newspapers
 
Armenian-American Newspapers
Armenian Mirror-Spectator (Weekly, in English)
Armenian Weekly (Weekly, in English)
Armenian Reporter (Weekly, in English)
Asbarez (Daily, bilingual in Armenian, English)
Massis (Weekly, bilingual in Armenian, English)
Oragark (Weekly, in Armenian)

 

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History of U.S. Relations with Armenia
Since the end of the Cold War, relations between the U.S. and Armenia have been friendly. The U.S. recognized Armenia as an autonomous state in 1991, and established diplomatic relations the following year with the opening of its Yerevan embassy. The U.S. played a pivotal role in the country’s reconstruction and transition to a free-market economy, giving nearly $2 billion in humanitarian and technical assistance under the FREEDOM Support Act since 1992.
 
Since establishing diplomatic relations, the two countries have operated under three major trade and economic agreements: Agreements of Trade Relations, Investment and Protection of Investment. Negotiations are currently pending for a bilateral tax trade agreement.
 
Since 1998, the U.S. and Azerbaijan have held a bilateral security dialogue, placed under new pressures by President Bush’s Global War on Terror. After September 11, 2001, the U.S. waived the Freedom Support Act clause restricting military assistance for Armenia and Azerbaijan, allowing for new security and military “cooperation” with both countries.
 
When the U.S. launched its military operations in Afghanistan, Armenia provided airspace, refueling, landing and other support for U.S. aircraft.
 
 
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Current U.S. Relations with Armenia
Famous Armenian-Americans:
 
Rouben Mamoulian – A director whose noteworthy films include: City Streets, The Mark of Zorro, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Golden Boy.  He directed the feature film Becky Sharp, which was the first film that utilized the colorizing process called Technicolor.
 
Hampar Kelikian – A doctor who helped U.S. Senator Robert Dole avoid having his arm amputated from injuries sustained during WWII by applying newly invented medical techniques. 
 
Cher – An actress, singer, songwriter, author and entertainer and among her many accomplishments, she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards.
 
Alex Manoogian - Started the Masco Screw Company and designed faucets for Delta.   He became the Life President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and has consistently contributed to the Armenian Community.
 
Kirk Kerkorian – A billionaire businessman that founded Transinternational Airlines and has owned Western Airlines, MGM movie studios, and the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
 
Andre Agassi – A former World No. 1 professional tennis player who won eight Grand Slam singles tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in singles.
 
Eric Bogosian – An actor and author who has earned acclaim for his three Obie Award-winning one-man performances Drinking in America, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead.
 
Mike Connors (Krikor Ohanian) - An actor who had starring roles in television shows: Tightrope, Mannix, Today’s FBI and Crimes of the Century
 
George Deukmejian– Served as an attorney general and former governor of California. 
 
Bob Keeshan - He is the actor and producer responsible for the success of the long-running children's program, Captain Kangaroo.
 
Armen Keteyan - He is a six-time Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS and HBO Sports and a New York Times bestselling author and coauthor of eight books.
 
Jack Kevorkian - A pathologist who advocated for assisted suicide and authored the following books: Medical Research and the Death Penalty, Prescription: Medicine: The Goodness of Planned Death, The Story of Dissection (a medical history), and Slimmeriks and the Demi-Diet.
 
George Mardikian - Awarded the Medal of Freedom for aiding combat troops in Korea obtain better food services.
 
Ara Parseghian- He was the most successful head coach for the University of Notre Dame football team and compiled a 95-17-4 record.
 
William Saroyan - He is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, short-story writer, dramatist, and essayist who published more than 60 books in his lifetime. His most famous work, The Human Comedy, earned him an academy award for best-adapted screenplay. 
 
Garo Yepremian - He was the Miami Dolphins place-kicker from 1970 to 1978 and was voted the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Kicker of the Decade.
 
Armand Zildjian - President and Chairman of the world's largest cymbal manufacturer and the oldest company in America.
 
System of a Down - A Grammy-award winning band whose members are all of Armenian descent.
 
Arshile Gorky (Vostanik Manoog Adoyan) He was considered the founder of American abstract expressionism and one of the most important painters in the 1930's and 40's
 
Paul Ignatius - Secretary fo the Navy during the Johnson administration.
 
Arlene Francis – An entertainer that has worked in radio, television and on Broadway.
 
Mihran Mesrobian – A prominent architect in the Washington, DC area.
 
David Shakarian – Founder of GNC chain-stores devoted to health and nutrition products.
 
Patricia Field - An American Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winning costume designer, stylist and fashion designer.
 
Mark Geragos – Defense attorney whose clients include: Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Winona Ryder and Scott Peterson.
 
Robert Kardashian - Defense attorney who represented OJ Simpson.
 
Carla Garapedian – Documentary Filmmaker and BBC Correspondent whose works include: Children of the Secret State, Dying for the President, Lifting the Veil, Iran Undercover, My Friend the Mercenary and Screamers
 
Hughes Brothers – Filmmakers whose works include: Menace II Society, Dead Presidents and From Hell.
 
Ross Bagdasarian - Record producer and songwriter, also known as David Seville of The Chipmunks.
 
Rousas John Rushdoony - Credited as the father of both Christian Reconstructionism and the modern homeschool movement.
 
Raymond V. Damadian – A scientist who was a pioneer of MRI technology.
 
Alex Sevanian – A molecular pharmacologist who was a pioneer in free radical research
 
Luther George Simjian – Inventor of the ATM and holder of over 200 patents.
 
George Stamoboulian - A key figure in the early gay literary movement in New York and best known as the editor of the Men on Men anthologies of gay fiction.
 
Situated between Iran, Turkey and Russia, Armenia and its regional relations are of increasing strategic importance to the U.S. government.
 
Armenia has provided support for the U.S. in its military operations in nearby Afghanistan and Iraq, and remains an important security point in regard to neighboring Iran, whose regional influence the U.S. would like to limit. (While keeping up relations with Washington, Armenia has strengthened some ties with Iran in the last few years, specifically with regard to energy. In 2004 Armenia began building an oil pipeline that would connect the two countries).
 
A balanced alliance with the Azerbaijan, Turkey and Armenia serves U.S. economic and security interests in the region. The U.S. has been a co-mediator in OSCE efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and maintains close economic relations with Armenia, although in 2005, U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan was more than triple the amount to Armenia.
 
The U.S. would also like to see warmer relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan’s ally, Turkey. Russia’s recent war in Georgia has recently given the two countries reason to make diplomatic progress. Western-backed pipelines shipping from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean in Turkey currently bypass Armenia and go through Georgia, making Armenia an attractive alternative in the event of continued instability.
 
Armenian-Americans
385,488 people identified themselves as Armenian in the 2000 U.S. census. Armenians have a long history in America, beginning with “Martin the Armenian,” a farmer who arrived before the Pilgrims. Immigration was limited until the turn of the twentieth century, when the nationalist Turks massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1894-1895. 64,000 Armenians emigrated between 1890 and 1914. The Turkish government’s genocide of a million more Armenians during World War I pushed another 30,771 Armenians to America from 1920-1924, when the Johnson-Reed Immigration effectively halted Armenian immigration by reducing the annual quota to 150. The most significant wave has been since World War II, as hundreds of thousands of Armenians have fled Islamic fundamentalist and Arab/Turkish nationalist movements in nations surrounding it. The majority of Armenians live in California, and have formed a strong, integrated community in Los Angeles. Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan are also home to sizable Armenian populations.
 
Tourism
3,668 Armenians visited the U.S. in 2006. The number of tourists has remained close to 3,500 in recent years.
 
45,535 Americans visited Armenia in 2006. Tourism has grown consistently since 2002, when only 25,026 Americans went to Armenia.
 
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Where Does the Money Flow
Until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Armenian economy was largely industry-based (chemicals, machinery, textiles, etc.), agriculture accounted for small percentages of net material product and employment, and the country was highly dependent on imports.
 
Since the introduction of economic reform, foreign aid and investment, a large portion of which comes from the U.S. (although Greece is currently the biggest foreign direct investor), the construction sector in Armenia has grown significantly. Government plans, foreign investment and remittances from the Diaspora contribute to the growth of this industry.  
 
Currently, approximately 70 U.S.-owned companies do business in Armenia, including tech giants Dell, Microsoft and IBM. According to the U.S. Department of State, recent major U.S. investment projects include: the Hotel Armenia/Marriott; the Hotel Ani Plaza; Tufenkian Holdings (carpet and furnishing production, hotels, and construction); several subsidiaries of U.S.-based information technology firms, including Viasphere Technopark, an IT incubator; Synopsys; a Greek-owned Coca-Cola bottling plant; jewelry and textile production facilities; several copper and molybdenum mining companies; and the Hovnanian International Construction Company.
 
Armenia Trade, General
Armenia’s main trade partners in the period January – November 2006 were the
Russian Federation (13.2% of total trade turnover), Germany (9.5%), Belgium (7.5%),
Israel (6.4%), the Ukraine (6.1%) and the USA (5.4%). (
 
U.S. Exports to Armenia
In 2007, themain US exports to Armenia were pharmaceuticals, new and used passenger cars, jewelry and non-monetary gold, laboratory instruments, corn and meat/poultry. Trade in these commodities has generally increased between 2003 and 2007, while other goods, in particular food oils and “finished metal shapes,” have decreased significantly.
 
U.S. Imports from Armenia
In 2007, total Armenian exports to the U.S. were around $32.8 million, with jewelry the highest single value ($13.3 million). Steelmaking materials were around $3 million, and alcoholic beverages were around $120,000, a steady increase from 2003. Cotton apparel, household goods and textiles were significantly down from 2003.
 
US Aid to Armenia
Per capita, Armenia is one of the world’s biggest aid recipients. In 2006 and 2007, respectively, the U.S. government gave Armenia $74.4 and $63.8 million in assistance. From 1992 through 2006, U.S. aid to the country totaledmore than $1.7 billion.
Armenia: Security Assistance (the U.S. sold $487,268 of defense articles and services to Armenia in 2007)
 
 
In 2007, the $63.8 million aid budget from the U.S. allotted the most funds to Civil Society ($11.0 million), Health ($9.6 million), Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($6.3 million), Combating WMD ($4.7 million), and Private Sector Competitiveness ($4.6 million). The 2008 budget estimate retained similar levels of funding at $62.4 million, with a similar distribution between the various programs. The 2009 budget request will reduce aid to $27.9 million. The 2009 budget will distribute the most aid to Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform ($4.0 million), Health ($3.5 million), Civil Society ($3.0 million), and Social Services and Protection for Especially Vulnerable People ($2.7 million).
 
In 2006 Armenia signed a contract with the U.S.’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for $235 million in conditional assistance, meant to target poverty alleviation through investments in infrastructure, roads and irrigation, with the first disbursement handed out in 2006.
 
Minerals Management Service:
 
According to USASpending.gov, the MMS has spent nearly $5.4 billion on contracts with 3,394 contractors between 2000-2009. The nation’s largest petroleum and natural gas companies enjoy considerable economic benefits from MMS operations and decisions. Corporations like Shell, BP, Chevron, Kerr-McGee, Exxon Mobil and Apache hold oil and/or natural gas leases managed by MMS. In total, there are 126 companies listed as natural gas lease-holders—many of whom are also found among the 129 companies listed as oil lease-holders.
 
Other stakeholders that benefit from offshore oil and gas leases are companies that manufacture oil rigs and drills plus other equipment used by lease holders. Examples of these are oil and gas infrastructure providers are Halliburton (formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney), Bechtel and Baker Hughes.
 
The top ten contractors for the MMS are:
 Saic, Inc.
$337,758,218
 Wpp PLC
$257,893,589
 Ca, Inc.
$240,780,696
 Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
$234,764,211
 Nana Regional Corporation, Inc.,
$188,572,158
 Crgt, Inc.
$171,287,643
 Accenture Ltd
$158,475,260
 Northrop Grumman Corporation
$129,394,534
 General Dynamics Corporation
$128,610,029
 Sra International, Inc.
$127,839,715
 
The MMS’s largest contractor is a scientific, engineering, and technology applications company that works in national security, energy and the environment, critical infrastructure, and health. For the MMS, the company provides telecommunication and technical assistance including the maintenance and repair of equipment.
 
The MMS’s second largest contractor specializes in marketing, communication and advertising. For the MMS, the company professional and administrative development support. 
 
The MMS’s third largest contractor specializes in IT solutions including database maintenance and security management. For the MMS, the company provides software and automatic data processing services.
 
The MMS’s fourth largest contractor is a leading strategy and technology consulting firm. For the MMS, the company provides professional administrative and management support including telecommunication and systems design.   
 
The MMS’s fifth largest contractor specializes in engineering and construction; resource development; facilities management and logistics; real estate and hotel development; and information technology and telecommunications. For the MMS, the company provides telecommunication services and data storage. 
 
The MMS’s sixth largest contractor is a consulting firm that provides a wide range of services and solutions to both defense and civilian agencies within the government. For the MMS, the company provides automatic data processing and telecom services. In addition, it also maintains facility operation and maintenance.   
 
The MMS’s seventh largest contractor provides services in consulting, technology and outsourcing in addition to research for a wide array of industries. For the MMS, the company provides automated information systems design and integration and engineering and technical services. 
 
The MMS’s eight largest contractor that provides global security through innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services. For the MMS, the company provides automatic data processing and telecom services. 
 
The MMS’s ninth largest contractor specializes in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technologies. For the MMS, the company provides data processing and telecom services. 
 
The MMS’s tenth largest contractor designs, develops, integrates and implements large and complex systems for defense and military service organizations. They provide strategic and tactical command, control and communications systems and analytical support. It also supports federal civil agencies with comprehensive professional and IT consulting services and enterprise-wide infrastructure support. For the MMS, they provide systems analysis, data processing and telecom services. 
 
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Controversies
Genocide
The U.S., a strong Turkish ally and home to a large Armenian Diaspora (and nominally powerful lobby group) doesn’t have to do much to land in the middle of the controversy over the Armenian genocide.
 
In 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans was recalled from his post after he described the forced exile and deaths of at least hundreds of thousands of Armenians as genocide. Armenian lobbyists  challenged the Bush Administration when it replaced Evans with an ambassador who upheld the Bush line.
 
Turkey, which hands down jail time for “insulting Turkishness” to citizens who raise the “genocide” question, cut military ties and pulled out of several important economic contracts with France when the French government officially recognized the genocide. When a U.S. Congressional committee proposed to do the same in 2007, Turkey responded with outrage and similar threats. The bill nearly passed with a majority of co-sponsor votes, but was withdrawn under pressure from the Bush administration, which relies on Turkey to transfer 70% of its military air supplies to Iraq.
Armenians try to stall appointment of US envoy (by Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe)
 
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Human Rights
As a member of the European Council (since 1999) and an aspiring EU member, Armenia is influenced and generally tends to abide by most European standards of human rights behavior.
 
Transitioning to a free market economy since the early 1990s, economic freedoms in Armenia are still considered marred by corruption and inequality. With regard to civil liberties and democracy, it is given a fair rating by most international observers, but is considered a fragile democracy that could easily be uprooted.
  
Widespread corruption exists in the country’s political establishment, court system and police units. Police are regularly charged with beating and torturing prisoners to obtain confessions, which are then upheld in court. Critics accuse security forces of conducting biased investigations, ignoring contradictory evidence and planting evidence. The executive branch remains highly influential in court proceedings, which heavily favor the prosecution. Freedom of speech and press remain somewhat limited, with reporters practicing self-censorship and routinely suffering police harassment. 
 
The 2008 presidential elections and the protests that ensued afterwards were marred by charges of corruption and police brutality. Problems included: favorable treatment of the government's candidate, instances of ballot stuffing, vote buying, multiple voting, voter intimidation, violence against election commission members and party proxies, and misuse of public resources for electoral ends. Opposition supporters were subject to unlawful arrests, intimidation, violence and censure. Clashes between police and protesters resulted in 10 deaths: 8 civilian and 2 police officers. A fact-finding panel that was established to investigate police conduct reported that officers acted appropriately, despite contradictory video footage and eyewitness reports. A 20-day state of emergency allowed the government to ban public gatherings, censor the media and block websites and radio stations expressing opposing viewpoints. 
 
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Debate
Did the Turks Commit Genocide against the Armenians?
The biggest single debate involving the U.S. and Armenia is that of the Genocide. While genocide experts support the Armenians’ claims as irrefutable historical fact, many scholars and historians disagree on whether the WWI-era forced exile massacres Armenians suffered at the hands of Ottoman Turks should be classified as genocide.
 
The crucial factor in determining genocide, the systematic destruction of a group of people, is the presence of premeditation and intention. (See the legal definition from the U.N Convention on Genocide).
 
In Washington, the debate often divides among party lines. When Congress voted to require the president to recognize the genocide, Turkey was outraged, and the Armenian ambassador was recalled after using the word “genocide” to describe the event in question. The formidable Armenian lobby in the U.S. stalled the new Bush appointee, who avoided the designation.
Bitter history of Armenian genocide row (by Chris Morris, BBC News)
 
Establishing the Genocide Designation
Do the Right Thing, President Obama (by Carla Garapedian, Huffington Post)
Time to Recognize the Armenian Genocide (by Adam Schiff, Wall Street Journal)
Issue Brief: Armenian Genocide Affirmation (Armenian Assembly of America)
 
 
Questioning the Genocide Designation
Revisiting the Armenian Genocide (by Guenther Lexy, Middle East Quarterly)
Armenian Genocide Debate (ArmenianGenocideDebate.com)
 
News/Analysis
Turkey, the World, and the Armenian Question (by Arend Jan Boekestijn) (PDF)
Hastert Contracted to Lobby for Turkey (by Kevin Bogardus, The Hill)
The Armenian Question: A Snapshot (by Betwa Sharma, Huffington Post)
U.S. and Turkey Thwart Armenian Genocide Bill (by Carl Hulse, New York Times)
House Panel Raises Furor on Armenian Genocide (by Steven Lee Myers and Carl Hulse, New York Times)
Armenian Furor Over PBS Plan for Debate (by Randal C. Archibold, New York Times)
 
 
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Armenia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Markarian, Tatoul

Born in Kapan, Armenia, in 1964, Tatoul Markarian earned his undergraduate and PhD degrees from the Yerevan University of National Economy, a master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University, and a PhD from the London School of Economics.
 
Markarian served in Armenia’s legislative and executive branches before joining the Foreign Service. He was Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Armenian Parliament from 1990 to 1991, and Assistant and then Adviser to the Vice President of Armenia from 1991 to 1994. He also served as Acting Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Armenia from 1991 to 1992.
 
Markarian was Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister-Counselor of the Armenian Embassy in Washington from 1994 to 1999. From 1999 to 2000, he was Adviser to the Foreign Minister in Armenia. From 2002 to 2003, he was Special Representative of the President of Armenia for Nagorno Karabakh negotiations, and the Armenian coordinator for the U.S.-Armenia Strategic and NATO-Armenia Political-Military Dialogues. Before his appointment as Ambassador, Markarian was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (since 2000).
 
 

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Armenia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Heffern, John
ambassador-image

John Heffern, a career diplomat who has spent much of his career working in East Asia, was nominated in May 2011 to serve as ambassador to Armenia. However, his nomination has been held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) as a protest against President Barack Obama’s refusal to characterize the Turkish killing of Armenians during World War I as a “genocide.” At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Heffern sidestepped the issue, stating only that “the characterization of those events… is a policy decision that is made by the president of the United States.”

 
Heffern’s father served briefly in the Foreign Service. He met his wife in India. Heffern’s mother is a naturalized citizen.
 
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Heffern graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in international relations in 1976.
 
He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 after serving as office director and research assistant for Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri). His early postings included China, Taiwan and Cote d’Ivoire.
 
Heffern was later assigned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then took postings in Washington, DC, related to Southeast Asia.
 
From 1994 to 1996, he worked on the House International Relations Committee as a Pearson Fellow for Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska).
 
Heffern served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and as political counselor at the U.S. Mission to NATO.
 
After postings in the Human Resources Bureau in Washington, as executive assistant to under secretary for political affairs, and as deputy chief of mission at U.S. embassy Jakarta, Indonesia, he reported back to the U.S. Mission to NATO as the deputy permanent representative in 2009.
 
Heffern and his wife of 32 years, Libby Dowling Heffern, have five children.
 
Official Biography (State Department) (pdf)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Armenia

Yovanovitch, Marie
ambassador-image

A career diplomat, Marie L. Yovanovitch was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia on August 5, 2008. She earned a B.A. in History and Russian Studies from Princeton in 1980 and an M.S. from the National War College in 2001. She joined the Foreign Service in 1986, and served in Ottawa, Moscow, London and Mogadishu before becoming Deputy Director of the Office of Russian Affairs. From 2001 to 2004, she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, and from 2004-2005 she was the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Before her appointment to Yerevan in 2008, Yovanovitch was Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008).
 
In her Senate confirmation hearing, Yovanovitch avoided using the word “genocide,” noting that it was a “policy decision” only top officials (e.g., the President or Secretary of State) could make, instead opting for “ethnic cleansing” and describing the events as “one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.”
 

Marie L. Yovanovitch, however, acknowledges atrocities by Turks and calls Armenians’ suffering ‘one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.’ (by Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times)

Marie L. Yovanovitch confirmed as Ambassador to Armenia

 

 

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