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Cablegate: Pm Appoints Ethnic Minorities and Religious

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 YEREVAN 000212

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/CACEN, EUR/ACE, DRL, PPD
EUR/CACEN FOR EUGENIA SIDEREAS AND MARGARET PAWLICK
DRL FOR KIMBER SHEARER AND WENDY SILVERMAN, G FOR
G/IWI

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM TU AM
SUBJECT: PM APPOINTS ETHNIC MINORITIES AND RELIGIOUS
ISSUES ADVISOR

1. (U) Sensitive But Unclassified. Please treat
accordingly.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

2. (SBU) Prime Minister Andranik Margarian appointed
Hranush Kharatian as Head of the Department on
Ethnic Minorities and Religious Issues within the
Cabinet. Kharatian will supervise GOAM programs
targeted at the economic and educational development
of minority communities. Though the influence of
the new post is yet to be determined, Kharatian's
appointment highlights a positive development in the
GOAM's attitude to a long neglected issue.

-------------------------------------------
FIRST GOAM OFFICE ON ETHNIC MINORITY ISSUES
-------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Prime Minister Andranik Markarian appointed
Hranush Kharatian as the Head of the Department on
Ethnic Minorities and Religious Issues within the
GOAM cabinet on January 19. The appointment marks
the first time since independence that the GOAM has
set apart a government office for ethnic minority
issues. Kharatian will coordinate GOAM-funded
programs for ethnic minority communities including
native language elementary and secondary school
curricula, newspapers and culture classes. Comment:
Past implementation of these programs has been
spotty at best, and some point to Kharatian's
appointment as a sign that the GOAM will now
dedicate more attention to Armenia's ethnic
minorities. End comment.

4. (SBU) According to government sources,
Kharatian's office will not deal with the
registration of religious organizations. This
function will remain with the State Registrar. The
Prime Minister's Advisor on Religious Issues will
continue to exercise a high-level policy role with
respect to religion in Armenia. (Comment: It is
still unclear how effectively Kharatian can
influence policy across GOAM agency lines with the
Prime's Minister's Advisor on Religious Issues.
Appointing additional government personnel to work
with religious minorities appears at least a nominal
step in the right direction. End comment.)

------------------------------
APPOINTMENT CAUSES CONTROVERSY
------------------------------

5. (U) Technical aspects of Kharatian's appointment
created controversy between the Prime Minister's
Office and the Civil Service Council. The Civil
Service Council decried the Prime Minister's
decision to appoint Kharatian as a violation of
Armenian Law. The Law on Civil Service requires
this position to undergo a solicitation and
transparent application process. The Council
suggested revoking the Prime Minister's decision and
announcing competition for the position. The
controversy overshadowed the policy aspects of
Kharatian's appointment in the press. Both parties
have yet to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.

---------------------------------------
KHARATIAN: IV ALUMNI, AZERI SPECIALIST
---------------------------------------

6. (U) Kharatian is one of Armenia's best-recognized
ethnographers and authorities on Armenian ethnic
minorities. News media often seek her opinion on
cultural issues surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and the movement of refugees. Kharatian
participated in an International Visitors (IV)
Program in 2001 and has participated in a number of
Embassy-sponsored roundtable meetings on national
minorities. Kharatian previously worked as
chairperson of Yerevan State University's Ethnology
Department and served as vice-mayor of Yerevan in
the late 1990's. She serves as president of the
Armenian branch of South Caucasus Women's Dialogue
and is actively involved in the Armenian-Turkish
Women's Roundtable.

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