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CAUCASUS CHRONICLES: Nation-Building and Diplomacy in Armenia, 1993-1994

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by Leonidas T. Chrysanthopoulos

"EXILE IN YEREVAN" is what the Greek press called the mission of Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos and his staff of three. For Chrysanthopoulos, however, his assignment as the first ambassador of Greece to newly independent Armenia was a golden opportunity to rebuild a friendship as old as history. This book is a lively account of that mission.

The new embassy was established on the fifth floor of the Hotel Hrazdan, adjacent to the presidential palace. The hotel was selected because it promised--though it could not always deliver--a steady supply of electricity.

Blockaded by its neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan, Armenia was short of wheat and heating oil as well as electricity. As the Soviet Union collapsed, Russia, the European Union, and the United States vied for the upper hand in the Caucasus. A bloody war between Azerbaijan and Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh became the focal point of that power struggle. Ambassador Chrysanthopoulos, who also represented the Presidency of the European Union, tells the inside story.

He reveals for the first time that external forces threatened the independence of Armenia during the failed coup d'état of October 1993 in Moscow.

Ambassador Chrysanthopoulos's account conveys the adventurous--indeed perilous--aspects of life as an ambassador as well as the diplomatic and humanitarian relief work in which he was involved.

He discusses the development of European Union policy toward the region, and provides insights into the workings of the highest levels of the Armenian government and the thinking of the individuals running it.

The author finds time to appreciate the culture and monuments of Armenian civilization and pays particular attention to the history and living conditions of the Greek minority in the former Soviet republic.