1555) Media Scanner Mar 2007 (226 Items)

  1. Restored Armenian Church Reopened With Prayers As Museum
  2. Midyat Hosts First International Syriac Symposium
  3. Ankara Still Against Us Senate Vote On Dink Resolution Despite Rewording
  4. Anamuryum and Mamure Castle In spring the abandoned ruins of the Byzantine city of Anamuryum stand ankle-deep in wild flowers.
  5. Armenian delegation attends Akhtamar opening
  6. Divided Opinion On Us Armenian Resolution A Challenge For Turkey
  7. The Sound Of Religious Footsteps Under The Bubble Of Nationalism
  8. Turkey Should Not Open Borders With Armenia
  9. Turkish Envoy To Georgia To Attend Armenian Premier's Funeral
  10. Armenian Delegation In Turkey To Discuss Future Cooperation
  11. Wilson: "Relations Between Armenia And Turkey Should Be Improved"
  12. Bush: Turkish-U.S. Ties Promote World Peace
  13. The So-Called ‘Akdamar Museum’ Cengiz Çandar
  14. Koç: Turkey Has Undertaken Its Cultural, Historical Responsibility Vercihan Ziflioglu
  15. A New Beginning For Akdamar Yusuf Kanli
  16. German Anti-Racism Initiative Creates Concern In Ankara Barçin Yinanç
  17. Turkey Hopes Us Senate Will Not Adopt Dink Resolution
  18. Senate Panel Passes Watered-Down Version Of Dink Resolution ÜMIT ENGINSOY
  19. This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com ©
  20. Armenian delegation led by Deputy Acting Minister of Culture Gagik Gyurjian, at Akhtamar Yesterday
  21. Parliaments can't judge history, says Ankara
  22. ‘the Resolution Is A Result Of Us Domestic Politics’
  23. Gates: Armenian ‘genocide’ Resolution, Pkk Damage Ties
  24. "Missiles, Oil, And Europe Re-Divided" Joschka Fisher*
  25. Perinçek: Trial was not a fair one
  26. TABA launches anti genocide campaign
  27. France and Turkey negotiate flying rights
  28. Specter of a multi-superpowered world
  29. Paying it forward: American expat teaches Turkish students civic activism
  30. Politicizing The Armenian Tragedy Abdullah Gul
  31. Best Wishes For ‘Akdamar’ Taha Akyol, Milliyet
  32. Last Minute Move From Mutafyan: Return Cross To Akdamar Church
  33. Turkey Calls On Us To Be A Part Of A Joint Commission With Armenia
  34. US-Turk conference opens under shadow of Armenian bills
  35. Letter from Washington: Not a 'low cost, no cost show'
  36. Spin, a la Turka
  37. Ankara to extend condolence to Armenia via Georgia
  38. Committee to vote on Dink resolution
  39. Wilson: US stance will not change
  40. Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas’ mutual initiative culminates in confederation
  41. We are all Dogu Perinçek
  42. A Wind Of Change
  43. Congressman Schiff Disappointed At Rice's Stance On Armenian Genocide Issue
  44. Turks restore church loved by Armenians A monument to their culture 1,000 years ago
  45. Turkey Fixes Armenian Church As Gesture
  46. Armenian Issue 'Turkish Republic Is Unfairly And Unjustly Blamed'
  47. Letters From An Old Empire: Orhan Pamuk: A Brave Voice In A Troubled Country
  48. Turkish Armenian Intellectuals Propose Making Surb Khach Church Property Of Armenian Community
  49. Bush's Shadow Army
  50. Springtime In Caucusus Letter to Editor: Washington Post
  51. Book recounts dramas behind the exchange of populations
  52. Armenians, churches, schools and a graveyard in historical Halicioglu district
  53. A passion becoming a Haute Couture brand
  54. Controversy over Akdamar overshadows opening ceremony
  55. Armenians, churches, schools and a graveyard in historical Halicioglu district
  56. Ankara fears that Turkey will stop existing as a State as soon as it recognizes the Genocide
  57. In 1946 Turkey was obliged to return the Armenian provinces
  58. Armenian prime minister dies of heart failure
  59. Ankara concerned over EU plans for Genocide legislation
  60. Turkish-Russian rapprochement: reality or fiction?
  61. Eastern And Western Youths Engage In Fruitful Dialogue
  62. A Bird's Eye View
  63. The Trouble With Japanese Nationalism
  64. In Struggle Against Genocide Recognition Turkey Limits Himself Only To Hollow Threats
  65. The Greatest Fear Of France
  66. Europe Is Passing A “Double Standards Law”
  67. Ankara Calls On Yerevan To Create A Historian Commission With Inclusion Of Third Parties
  68. One Hundred Members of the UK Parliament Recognise the Genocide
  69. Rep. Watson Alerts Colleagues To Turkey's Token Efforts To Use Akhtamar Renovation To Mislead The Us Congress
  70. Vladimir Karapetian Comments On Renovation Of The Church Of Holy Cross On Akhtamar Island
  71. Right And Wrong YAVUZ BAYDAR
  72. Official Openings ANDREW FINKEL
  73. Book Review: ‘The Orientalist’ by Tom Reiss
  74. Story of deportation in 1991
  75. Turkish Fm Gul Calls For Joint Committee With Armenia
  76. US Senate Committee Does Not Recognize ‘Armenian Genocide’
  77. Akdamar Church Re-Opening Applauded By Armenian And Turkish Factions
  78. The Turkey Of France’s Presidential Candidates
  79. Render Unto ‘akdamar’ The Things Which Are Ahtamar’s
  80. Future Of Akdamar Wrapped In The Word 'Maybe'
  81. What Shall Become Of Turkish-American Relations? Nursen Mazici
  82. The second chance for rapprochement with Armenians misses
  83. Who are we Turks, really? Hasan Cemal, Milliyet
  84. Arinç sends a letter to Pelosi
  85. Turks, Azeris and Georgians cementing strategic partnership
  86. Why does the White House oppose the Armenian bill?
  87. If Dink had done what Perinçek did
  88. Turkish-American economic relations and the Armenian issue
  89. Armenia, Turkey Wait While U.S. Considers Recognizing Genocide
  90. Turks then, now and tomorrow
  91. Turkey will acknowledge Armenian Genocide if West and U.S. demand this PanARMENIAN.Net
  92. US Administration submits a report to the House of Representatives ArmRadio.am
  93. Turkey’s Power Lies in its Historical Depth
  94. A Careful Policy Is Necessity Ali Sirmen
  95. 'I would not object to negotiation' Sabah
  96. Could Sarkozy change his attitude to Turkey?
  97. Gül warns against genocide resolutions
  98. State Dept. official points to political rivalry between Erdogan party, military Genocide measure to hit strategic, military ties with Turks, US officials warn Congress ÜMIT ENGINSOY
  99. Why did Armenians kill our diplomats, families? Ilnur Cevik
  100. Bush Administration Tries To Prevent Possible Rupture With Turkey Joshua Kucera
  101. TTK President Halaçoglu responds to Sarafian’s claims
  102. FM Gül calls for peace while paying tribute to slain diplomats
  103. Genocide blunder in US Embassy almanac
  104. Patriarch Mesrob Gives Us All A Lesson M. Ali Birand
  105. Turkish, Armenian historians quarrel over failed study initiative
  106. Sarafian praises Erdogan as ‘a man of peace’
  107. Armenia to send official team to church reopening
  108. Turkey’s National Security Council official: We do have evidence against Armenians’ claims
  109. Armenian soccer teams help build bridges
  110. Knesset not to discuss Armenian genocide
  111. Bagis: "Two Members Of House Of Representatives Revoke Their Signatures"
  112. Atacal Calls On All Turks To Attend Protests Against Allegations Of So-called Armenian Genocide
  113. Halaçoglu: ‘I Did Not Make Any Restrictions'
  114. Irtemcelik On So-Called Armenian Genocide Allegations
  115. JTA: Turkish Jews lobby against Armenian resolution in US
  116. Sarkozy Must Change His Mind About Turkey, Bernardin
  117. Proposed genocide resolution naming Turkey risks damage to U.S. security, says Rice, Gates
  118. Israeli parliament rejects ‘Armenian genocide' resolution
  119. Why can't the historians meet?
  120. TTK to research Tashnak Archives
  121. Rice, Gates send letter to Congress opposing ‘genocide’ resolution
  122. US administration to try to block passage of Armenian bill - US deputy secretary of state
  123. '2009 Turkish Year' Ache For French Businessmen
  124. Pilot Training For Armenia
  125. After Rice, an appeal to Bush
  126. Ankara debates Akdamar invitation
  127. Although the measure has strong bipartisan support in the House, it is not clear if or when the measure will be voted on. Rice, Gates urge Congress to drop genocide measure
  128. Orthodox patriarch 'confident' Turkey will improve religious freed
  129.  This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
  130. "Why do we invite Armenians in the first place?" Mehmet Ali Birand
  131. Barzani expansionism in Turkey
  132. Islam is and will be a European religion
  133. Denying and accepting the genocide!
  134. Turning Turkish heads
  135. Chirac’s ‘friendship with Turkey’: All talk and no action
  136. Perinçek appeals Swiss court decision on Armenian ‘genocide’
  137. A Brave Cause
  138. The Region: Perception And Identity
  139. Armenians Made Co-Operation With The Nazis In Iran And Syria
  140. Dogu Perincek To Appeal Sentence For Armenia Genocide Denial
  141. Bagis On Armenian Resolution
  142. The meaningful April 23 International Childrens Day & April 25 Anzac Day Celebrations in Turkey & Sad and baseless April 24 Commemorations in Armenia, USA and Around The World
  143. French Union of Chambers president visits TOBB
  144. U.S. Consul Says Armenian Bill Would Be Unhelpful To Solve Problems Between Turkey, Armenia
  145. United States Does Not Have The Luxury Of Losing Turkey, Wexler
  146. 'Armenians in a tolerant society' symposium in Çiragan
  147. Second group of lawmakers starts lobbying in US
  148. Turkey adopts EU criteria for Turkish coffee
  149. How has the West alienated the Turks?
  150. Problematic alliance
  151. Paper tiger
  152. The ban of Turks for Turks
  153. Turkish Official Defends World War I Actions of Ottoman Empire
  154. It's A Pity That Turks Are Behind Everyone In The Art Of Public Relations
  155. Discussion of the Armenian Genocide bill in US Congress may be postponed till 2008
  156. Missing Ottoman Archival Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915
  157. Armenian Genocide bill planned
  158. Assyrian Genocide Memorial Wall Erected in California
  159. Armenian groups: White House pressure forced postponement of Dink resolution
  160. Turkey stops US Senate measure, for now ÜMIT ENGINSOY
  161. The best Turkey can hope... Cengiz ÇANDAR
  162. The United States Develops A Strategic Plan For The Black Sea Joshua Kucera
  163. Turkish journalists' fear of ultra-nationalist violence Jennifer Amur
  164. Turkey's paranoia
  165. US Senate committee delays vote on Dink resolution
  166. Turks and Greeks need to forge real friendship
  167. In wake of Hrant Dink murder, print media pays heavy price for coverage
  168. In US, Armenian FM lobbies for passage of 'genocide' resolution
  169. Court of Justice and genocide law (I)
  170. Washington Post Article Underscores Contradictions In Us Vote On Armenian Claims
  171. Propoganda For Turks, By Turks
  172. U.S. Congress Genocide Resolution Is Rather Moral Than Political Step
  173. Have we lost the genocide war?
  174. Turkey hosts US Muslim leader
  175. The most powerful person of the Jewish lobby in the USA was convinced
  176. Oskanian Discusses Armenian Polls, Karabakh With Rice
  177. Beleaguered And Besieged; Turkey's Pro-European Elite Is The Target Of A Growing Wave Of Violent Ultra-Nationalism
  178. Turkish Hackers Crack Web-Site Devoted To Armenian Genocide
  179. Senate Panel Delays Consideration Of Resolution Condemning Hrant Dink Assassination
  180. Perinçek before Swiss court, supporters not admitted
  181. Why does France act this way?
  182. Shadow over US-Turkish relations
  183. Row erupts in Switzerland over meeting with Turkish justice minister
  184. Us Senate, Instead Of Facing Up To A Lobby, Why Not Face Up To Reality?
  185. Genocide Denial Trial Raises Many Questions
  186. In Lausanne, Dogu Perincek Goes On Trail For Denying Armenian Genocide Claims
  187. Armenia Concerned About Fate Of Proposed Genocide Resolution In U.S. Congress
  188. Turkish Nationalist To Stand Trial For Armenian Genocide Denial In Switzerland Panarmenian
  189. Poison In Armenian Blood: Making Politics Through Dink's Death SEDAT LACINER
  190. IP leader stands trial for denying ‘genocide’
  191. History in the making
  192. A slogan that should be heard in Yerevan
  193. If US genocide bill is delayed to 2008
  194. Lithuanian MPs face ‘genocide' displeasure
  195. Turkey sees surge in illegal workers
  196. WPost: Does nonbinding Armenian resolution matter?
  197. Patriarch: Dink murder still mystery
  198. Imagine . . .
  199. A Bird's Eye View
  200. Don't Go Cold on Turkey & The House's Ottoman Agenda
  201. It's Hard To Prove Genocide
  202. Send Following Message to US Congress Members Via Hürriyet Online Form
  203. Turkish deputies lobby with 'Pink Book' in US
  204. Dual Citizenship In Armenia Omer Engin Lutem
  205. Ankara blasts French, Greek Cypriot military pact
  206. International Conference On Khojaly Genocide Ends In The Hague
  207. Azerbaijan Backs Turkey's Position In Armenian Issue
  208. Genocide In The Eye Of The Beholder (Hikmet Bila)
  209. The Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars Railway Line: Cement For A Strategic Alliance?
  210. Nagorno - Karabakh Problem: Claims, Counterclaims And Impasse
  211. Establishing Dialogue Through Historians Or Politicians?
  212. Trabzon becomes cynosure of foreign press's eyes
  213. Stamp dedicated to the memory of Hrant Dink issued in France
  214. 'Why do Dink's mourners ignore Khojaly massacre?'
  215. 'Opening of Akdamar Church gesture to Armenians'
  216. Turkey intensifies counter-attack against genocide claims
  217. Turkey's Armenian dilemma BBC News
  218. A sense of betrayal SUAT KINIKLIOGLU
  219. To forget or to remember, that is the question Isil SARIYÜCE
  220. Should the world become Turkish, or should the Turks become worldly? Cengiz Aktar
  221. Bryan Ardouny: Armenian Genocide Resolution's Purpose Is Not To Humiliate Turkey PanARMENIAN.Net
  222. Washington Times Criticizes Pelosi For Armenian Bill Turkish Press
  223. A Turkish Novelist Acquits Herself Nicely By John Freeman
  224. CHP quizzes Gul over airline genocide propaganda
  225. Turkey to be promoted with Pope and Pamuk
  226. Lawsuit against Armenia in ECHR
  227. Turkey: Armenian Patriarch Says Genocide Bill Might Harm Dialogue
  228. Swiss Prosecutors Seek Fine For Armenian Genocide Denial

Restored Armenian Church Reopened With Prayers As Museum
Turkey, in a symbolic move that many expect will help ease long-standing animosity with Armenia, yesterday reopened an ancient Armenian church after a three-year restoration.

But the Akhtamar Church, located on an island in Lake Van in eastern Anatolia, will serve as a monument and museum, despite Armenian demands that it be opened for worship. The spiritual leader of Turkey's Armenian community, Patriarch Mesrob II, called for legal permission for use of the 10th century building for church services, at least one day a year, and for an annual festival on Akdamar Island, where the church is located. "Prayers made in a historic church will bring people closer… This will help establish peace, which has not taken root between Turks and Armenians," Mesrob II said at the opening ceremony. "I believe from my heart that the Turkish government will allow these."

Culture Minister Atilla Koç, who attended the ceremony, was non-committal on Mesrob II's request, saying he could not decide on the issue alone. The restoration of the church -- one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture from 1,000 years ago -- has widely been seen as a positive message by Turkey to improve ties with Armenia and its own Armenian community, though Koç has emphasized that it was not meant to be a good-will gesture, saying it was his duty as a Cabinet minister to protect the country's historical heritage. Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia but still invited Armenian officials to the ceremony, and Armenia's Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjyan, accompanied by a 20-member delegation, including officials, historians and experts, attended the ceremony.

The $1.5-million restoration of Akhtamar -- known as Church of Surp Khach, or the Holy Cross -- comes on the heels of a highly emotional funeral for Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, assassinated by a nationalist teenaged gunman on Jan. 19. In what was seen as an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy, tens of thousands of mourners at his funeral raised banners reading "We are all Armenians."

Yesterday's ceremony was attended by a group of 300 VIPs transported to Akdamar Island by boat. The participants included Koç, the Armenian delegation, Mesrob II, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Nancy McEldowney and Israeli Ambassador Pinhas Avivi as well as Armenians who traveled to Turkey for the occasion.

"Let me have a contribution to peace. I open this with prayers," Koç said as he cut the ribbon with Mesrob II to open the church, which has not been operational for nine decades. The ceremony was broadcast live on Turkish and Armenian television.

"Akhtamar Church is a sanctuary for humanity," said Turkey's renowned pianist Tuluyhan Ugurlu after a mini concert before the opening. "The love for that church is the same as love for Hagia Sophia (a church-turned-mosque that was later converted into a museum), Süleymaniye (Mosque), Sultan Ahmet (Mosque) and Neve Shalom (Synagogue)."

One of the finest surviving monuments of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, the church had deteriorated over the past century, with rainwater seeping through the collapsed, conical dome. Mesrob II expressed gratitude for the restoration of the sandstone structure, saying it looked much better as compared to its pre-restoration situation.

"This is a show of Turkey's respect for history and culture," said Van Governor Özdemir Çakacak. Noting that Turkey has stepped up restoration of historical monuments over past years, Orhan Düzgün, who oversees the state department for preservation of cultural artifacts and museums, said, "We could not have ignored the artifacts of our Armenian citizens, and we did not."


But although the Armenian delegation was visibly pleased with the reopening, the Turkish move left Armenian demands for the church being available for religious services unsatisfied. Although the building will now operate as a museum, some of the participants attending the ceremony were seen placing candles inside the church and making the sign of the cross.

Earlier this week, the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Karekin II, refused to attend the reopening ceremony because the church will operate as a museum, not as a church. A similar controversy focused on whether a cross would be erected on the steeple of the Akhtamar Church. Earlier this month, Patriarch Mesrob II sent a written request to the Culture Ministry asking that a cross, prepared by the Armenian Patriarchate itself, be placed on the steeple of the church. Gyurjyan, asked why the level of participation from Armenia was low, suggested that it could be due to the discontent over the missing cross.

Koç, responding to questions yesterday, suggested that placement of the cross was still a possibility, saying a committee of scientists should decide on the matter. On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry, which has been asked its opinion on the matter by the Culture Ministry, said Ankara was considering the request.

"Maybe one day," said Mesrob II, when answering a question as to whether a cross would be placed on the church.
 This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pixThe reopening also fell short of breaking the ice in relations between Turkey and Armenia. Yerevan welcomed the restoration but said Turkey should open its border gate with Armenia, closed for more than a decade, to facilitate the Armenian delegation's travel. Ankara, however, rejected the request, pushing the Armenian delegation to travel to Turkey via Georgia.

Turkey severed its relations with Armenia in protest of its support for efforts worldwide to win international recognition for Armenian genocide claims at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and its occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave within regional ally Azerbaijan.

On Thursday, police briefly detained five trade union representatives who staged a demonstration on a jetty on Lake Van to protest the church's restoration. The protesters carried Turkish flags, pictures of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, modern Turkey's founder, and a banner that read "The Turkish people are noble. They would never commit genocide," the Cihan news agency reported.

Protesting their detention in Ankara, another group staged a demonstration in front of the Interior Ministry, chanting slogans against erection of the cross on the church. "You are all Armenians, we are all Turks and Muslims," they said.


Midyat Hosts First International Syriac Symposium
A two-day international symposium opens today in Midyat, in southeastern Anatolia, with the goal of improving "equality, tolerance and peace" in Turkey by preserving the historical heritage of the 5,000-year-old Syriac culture in Anatolia.

The international symposium is a first of its kind that will bring together academics who study Syriac culture, representatives of various non-governmental organizations and members of the Syriac community from both Turkey and Europe.

The European Union lent its support to the symposium jointly organized by the Accessible Life Association (UYD) and the European Syriac Union (ESU). The Midyat Syriac Association, the Mesopotamia Culture and Solidarity Association and Suroyo TV, a Sweden-based television channel, also lent their support to the symposium. Hacer Foggo of the Accessible Life Association (UYD), in a brief telephone interview with Today's Zaman yesterday, summarized the goals of the symposium: "Sharing international experiences concerning Syriac culture; determining joint problems of the Syriac community in the country as well as around the world; structuring a program for the resolution of problems of Syriacs which have prior importance; defining legal problematic fields of Syriacs and improving joint proposals; defining conditions of intercultural dialogue and tolerance and maintaining communication; and establishing a communication network among Syriac community."

In addition to Foggo, Yngve Engstrom of the Delegation of the European Commission to Turkey; Süleyman Bölünmez, independent member of the Turkish Parliament; Nihat Eri, Mardin deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party); Belgin Cengiz, head of the Accessible Life Association; and Tuma Çelik of ESU will deliver keynote speeches on the first day of the symposium.

"The cultural heritage in the southeastern Anatolia region is under threat of being lost because of migration. As organizers of the symposium, we hope to contribute to efforts for protecting this cultural heritage and then transmitting it to the next generations by improving it," Foggo said.

Following the end of the symposium on Saturday, Midyat will also host on Sunday the April 1 festival during which Syriacs will celebrate the Syriac New Year of Kha b'Nissan. Several Syriac bands who are known around the world, but who are unfortunately not familiar in Turkey, will join the festival, Foggo said. Folk ensemble Kardes Türküler (Songs of Fraternity) -- who sing in Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Circassian, Georgian, Kurdish, Laz, Macedonian, Roma and Turkish as well as in Syriac -- will also be part of the festival.

Emine Kart Ankara

Ankara Still Against Us Senate Vote On Dink Resolution Despite Rewording
Turkish officials continue to stand firm against a general assembly vote of the US Senate on a largely symbolic resolution on the murder earlier this year of prominent Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink, although a senate panel on Wednesday showed that it took Turkey's concerns into consideration as it passed the resolution after making a change in line with Turkey's stance.

A sentence in the preliminary draft drawn up by the committee chief, Democrat Senator Joseph Biden, which said "Mr. Dink underwent prosecution under Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, as he spoke about the Armenian genocide" was changed as "Legal measures were taken about Mr. Dink, as he regarded the events that happened in 1915 as genocide" following an objection by Republican Richard Lugar, reported Armenian media.

Even if the draft resolution is accepted by the general assembly of the Senate, it is non-binding and its implementation will not be compulsory for the US administration. Nevertheless Ankara is strongly against Senate approval, which would make the draft "an official Senate view" on the issue.

Armenia says some 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at Ottoman Turkish hands, but Turkey denies systematic genocide of Armenians took place, saying large numbers of Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks died in inter-ethnic fighting during World War I.

The Senate resolution that passed the committee condemns Dink's murder and urges the people of Turkey to honor his legacy of tolerance. Dink was murdered by a Turkish nationalist gunman outside the Istanbul office of his bilingual newspaper, Agos, in January; his funeral drew 100,000 mourners.

"We don't see the benefit of such a resolution," Tuluy Tanç, minister-counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

However Biden said he was not deterred by Turkish sensitivities. "A relationship that rests on a requirement of a denial of an historical event, is not a sound basis for a relationship," Biden told Reuters.

News reports yesterday suggested that pro-Turkey senators could resort to filibustering when the draft goes to the floor for a vote. Filibuster is an in formal term for any attempt to block or delay Senate action on a bill or other matter by debating it at length, offering numerous procedural motions or any other delaying or obstructive actions.

Earlier this week, despite expressing pleasure that Ankara's concerns had been taken into consideration by the Senate panel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman reiterated that parliaments are not appropriate places for making assertions regarding historical facts, such as whether the killing of Anatolian Armenians during World War I was genocide or not.

"We don't wish for parliaments to make such decisions. We believe that if there is an issue related to history, this should be directly researched by historians and a judgment should be made by historians, not by parliamentarians," Bilman said then.

Today's Zaman Ankara

 This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
[Off-The-Beaten-Track Turkey]
Anamuryum and Mamure Castle
In spring the abandoned ruins of the Byzantine city of Anamuryum stand ankle-deep in wild flowers.

Crumbling walls surround the site, but through the gaps you'll glimpse the azure sea, as lovely here as further west on the Turkish Riviera. Few places could be more alluring, but because the site lies east of the bright lights of Alanya, chances are that you'll have the ruins to yourself.

Anamuryum has a history that long precedes the Byzantines. It is believed to have been founded by the Phoenicians, those hardy Tunisians who roamed the Mediterranean in search of trade as long ago as the fourth century B.C. However, it wasn't until the Romans took the site over that the colony grew into a real city, and much of what remains today dates from the years after the Roman Empire split into two parts. In the seventh century Arab invaders descended on Anamuryum and drove out its residents. For some reason they never chose to return. The site was only briefly resettled in the 12th and 13th centuries, which means that today the ruins languish in splendid isolation.

As you approach the site you'll see the remains of two aqueducts which used to supply the city with water. Much more striking is the fact that the hillside is encrusted with hundreds of free-standing tombs which make up a necropolis bigger than the remains of the city itself. The most elaborate tombs have two chambers: one for the body, the other for prayers and feasting in celebration of the deceased. Some still retain mosaic floors and frescoes, but the best are locked up to protect them. In theory the custodian should be able to unlock the gates in return for a tip, but first you will have to track him down.

Near the necropolis stand the remains of three Byzantine churches, but within the site of the city itself the most obvious structure left to explore is the third century bath-house which still retains traces of wall paintings and mosaic floors. No Byzantine archaeological site would be worth its salt without the remains of a theatre and, sure enough, there is one at Anamuryum as well as a stadium and traces of ancient shops and houses, some with their roofs intact, which makes it easier to imagine what they would have been like in their heyday. Some of the houses had mosaic "carpets" but these are now covered with sand to protect them.

Once you've finished exploring the ruins it will be hard to resist the siren call of the deserted beach. However, if you have the energy it's worth struggling up onto the headland, not so much to view the scant remains of the ancient acropolis as to gaze out across the sea to northern Cyprus, here a mere 80 kilometers south of Turkey.

Sixteen kilometers east of Anamuryum it's impossible to miss the massive remains of Mamure Kalesi, a mirror image of the more visited Kizkalesi (Maiden's Castle) even further east. The castle sits right on the beach opposite some small fish restaurants on a site first fortified by the Byzantines and then reused by the Armenians and Crusaders. However, what you see now is the castle rebuilt on the site in the 13th century by the Selçuk ruler Alaeddin Keykubad, as commemorated by the inscription over the main gate. A castle so sturdy could hardly have escaped the attentions of the Ottomans and it continued in use right into the 19th century. These days its crenellated walls and many towers serve as the backdrop for Turkish films whose scripts demand a suitably "medieval" looking castle. There's not much left to look at inside.

Midway between these two attractions sits Anamur town, a sleepy, forgettable inland settlement. For those who fancy staying locally, the place to head for is the separate beach settlement of Iskele where the eponymous harbor has turned into a sprawling mini resort, more popular with holidaying Turks than foreign tourists. Don't expect anything too picturesque or historic and you won't come away disappointed.

In summer there are daily buses from Alanya and Silifke to Anamur Town; those from Silifke pass straight by Mamure Castle. To get to Anamuryum without your own car you must take a dolmus from Anamur to Ören and walk two kilometers down from the main road. A group of visitors are better off paying for a taxi from Anamur bus station or from Iskele.

The best choice of accommodation is in Iskele although there are some simple pensions opposite Mamure Castle and in Anamur Town.


[International Herald Tribune]
Armenian delegation attends Akhtamar opening
The spiritual leader of Turkey's Armenian Orthodox community on Thursday called on Turkey to open up a newly restored ancient Armenian church for worship at least once a year, saying the move would help reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

Patriarch Mesrob II was speaking at a ceremony marking the restoration of the Akhtamar church, perched on a rocky island in Lake Van, a vast body of water in eastern Turkey. Turkish authorities restored the church as a gesture to its neighbor and its own ethnic Armenian minority, but opened it up as a museum — not a place of worship. Mesrob expressed gratitude for the restoration of the sandstone church but added: “Our request from our government is for a religious and cultural service to be held at the church every year and for a festival to be organized.” “If our government approves, it will contribute to peace between two communities who have not been able to come together for years,” Mesrob said. Akhtamar's restoration has cost Turkey of US$1.5 million.


Divided Opinion On Us Armenian Resolution A Challenge For Turkey
FATMA DISLI f.disli@todayszaman.com
Turkey is making intensive efforts to prevent the passage of an Armenian resolution pending in the US Congress, expected to be put to a vote in the 435-member House of Representatives in April.
As part of these efforts Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit as well as a parliamentary delegation and representatives from business organizations such as the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSIAD) recently paid a visit to the US, where they warned US officials that the resolution’s passage could hurt Turkish-US relations. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently admitted that the US should not be involved in this “genocide” debate between Armenia and Turkey. However the Democrats, with a majority in both chambers after November’s nationwide congressional elections, leave the fate of the Armenian resolution in limbo as they, particularly US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with the support of the Armenian community, are supporting the passage of the resolution. It seems that the divided stance toward the resolution in the US Congress will make Turkey’s job more difficult.

Yeni Safak’s Fehmi Koru claims that although Turkey is lobbying against the Armenian resolution in the US, the delegations coming from Turkey have a problem finding somebody with whom to speak. He explains that there has been a remarkable change in the politics of the US, whereas formerly the politicians would join forces and give a joint decision on national issues, this is no longer the case. Koru gives the example of when the Democrats did not fail to lend support to the administration of President George W. Bush for sending troops to Iraq, though they did not actually welcome it. “The Democrats now have to pay for this solidarity as the voters asked them why they did not they oppose Bush when he was sending troops to Iraq,” Koru notes. He says this situation of unity has now changed in the US, with Bush hitting a wall of opposition every time he attempts to exercise his power, particularly after his party lost its majority in Congress. Koru clarifies that although this division in US policy seems to be related to debates on Iraq, it is felt in almost all issues. “How will Turkey explain its sensitivity about the Armenian resolution in such an environment?” he questions. He admits that even though Turkey has explained this to the White House, to the “neo-crazy team,” and even if they understand the seriousness of the issue, they cannot do anything to prevent passage of the resolution. If Turkey makes its voice heard by the Democrats and explains to them their future need for Turkey when they come to power in 18 months, at the end of Bush’s term, will they prioritize this rather than the few hundred thousand votes they will get from the Armenians in the presidential elections, bearing in mind that politicians always think of their short-term benefits, he asks.

Milliyet’s Semih Idiz claims that US-Turkish relations are heading toward turbulence amid the Armenian resolution debates, surmising that the quarrel between the Democrats and the Bush administration over additional funding needed for Iraq will be reflected in the Armenian resolution issue. Idiz agrees with Turkish politicians who have warned the US about the passage of the resolution potentially damaging bilateral relations, showing the already low level of support for the US among the Turkish public, which will worsen under such conditions. He further comments that the fact that Turkey is in an election year will inevitably make this issue a main tool in domestic policy. “In brief there seems to be turbulence on the horizon for Turkey-US relations, which have already become complicated by the Iraq war,” he summarizes.

The Sound Of Religious Footsteps Under The Bubble Of Nationalism
ETYEN MAHCUPYAN e.mahcupyan@todayszaman
When nationalism began to permeate the Ottoman Empire, it found itself facing an extremely accommodating base. This was because the Ottoman “millet” system had created protected, public arenas that could be kept closed to the outside and within which religiously “different” communities could maintain their autonomies. Thus nationalism was naturally quickly embraced, particularly in cases where sectarian differences also meant ethnic differences. Two of the large ethnic communities in the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks and the Armenians, never hesitated to embrace nationalism as a basic part of modernization.

As for Ottoman Muslims, rather than immediately occupying the highest spot amongst the hierarchies of the different communities, they went through a long period of indecisiveness, torn between Ottoman-ness, Islamic-ness and Turkish nationalism. As Turkish nationalism began to move step by step toward being the predominant ideology, the elites who defended this stance also came under the influence of the science-based positivism, which was so popular among French intellectuals of the period. In this way, we saw the rise of the idea of Turkishness following 1910, witnessing also the racist nuances added to this ideology through some of its scientific approaches. In short, within the Muslim community of the Ottoman Empire, nationalism first functioned as an ideology which helped “find” and then “reject” the self. To this end, the Kemalist movement first declared Ottoman Muslims were “Turks” in order to create the people of the Republic, and then, in an authoritarian and positivist interpretation of this ideology, turned these same people into “secular” citizens.

This settling in of ideologies, which took place over what was essentially an historically short period of time, deeply affected the Muslims of Turkey. The religiously devout, who gained confidence when facing the West due to the Turkification of their “Muslimness,” were left obliged to turn over their identities to the state as the republic came into being. Following 1980 in particular, there was a “Turkish-Islam synthesis” which aimed to solve the hesitant relationship that existed between the Turkish society and Turkish state. According to proponents of this synthesis, it was only when Islam united as a whole with Turkishness that a historically strong identity would be formed, and that this was the identity necessary to take authority and control over Turkey’s future.

The “socialization” of nationalism had its natural reflection in the political arena. There were many nationalistic parties formed, among them notably the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Grand Unity Party (BBP), and some of these parties still participate in elections. But in the years following 1990, a period emerged which no one had expected: that Turkish Muslims would begin to individualize, would begin to become integrated with modern life according to their own preferences and demands. Just as the level of variety and of varying religious stances expanded within this trend, the political perceptions of the Islamic factions changed in Turkey. Thus the birth of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the ease with which it has found and nurtured support across the country is due to the sociological changes in the background that we have talked about here. Lest this be misunderstood, it is important to clarify that the factor which has worked to alter the mentality of the Islamic factions in Turkey has not been the AK Party itself, but that to the contrary, the mentality which created the AK Party is in itself this very change.

It is not at all surprising that those who today try to block Erdogan’s presidency and single party administration are again embracing nationalism. Because the process that the devoutly religious have gone through in the past 10 years, with the re-separation of the Muslim and Turkish identities, has in a sense brought us back to end of the 19th century. Those who talk about the recent rise in nationalism are actually trying to hide the fact that in Turkey, nationalism has been lost as a candidate to whom the future can be tied. Due to that fact that current polls on the subject are being carried out in an atmosphere which makes it hard for people to say “I am not a nationalist,” there are figures showing hints of a spreading nationalism. But the fact is, under this bubble of nationalism, you can hear the footsteps of modern religious devotees, searching for ever more individuality and freedom.

Turkey Should Not Open Borders With Armenia
AZG Armenian Daily
"Hrant Dink was Turkish citizen of Armenian origin.

Though we were against his ideas we would like him to live, we do not want people to die because of their thoughts", Day.az reports the words of Muhsin Yazicioglu, leader of the Turkish "Grand Unity" party.

He underlined that the political forces opposing the Turkish nationalists take advantage of Hrant Dink's assassination.

"We can not allow using this crime for insult, slander or pressure against Turkish nationalists. Moreover, this campaign is not restricted to us. These forces suggest that Azerbaijan might stand behind this assassination. "Armenians try to disguise their crimes. Nobody speaks of the genocide committed in Khojaly 15 years ago. Armenians have not withdrawn their forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. The world community is indifferent towards these events - nobody speaks about one million people, who have become displaced as a result of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict," Yazicioglu told the APA Turkey bureau.

Muhsin Yazicioglu said that Armenia does not observe international legal norms. "Armenians do not show any sign of withdrawal from these territories. If Turkey and Azerbaijan show their will, Armenians will withdraw. Armenia cannot survive without opening borders with Turkey and establishing neighborly relations with Azerbaijan. Turkey should not open borders with Armenia and should not have any relations with Yerevan," he said.

Turkish Envoy To Georgia To Attend Armenian Premier's Funeral
Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
March 28 2007

Tbilisi, 28 March: The Turkish ambassador to Georgia, Ertan Tezgor, left for Armenian capital city of Yerevan on Wednesday [28 March].

Tezgor will attend the funeral of late Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan of Armenia on behalf of Turkey.

Armenian Prime Minister Margaryan, 55, died suddenly of a heart attack at home last Sunday.

Armenian Delegation In Turkey To Discuss Future Cooperation
Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
March 28 2007
KARS (A.A) An Armenian delegation of architects, engineers, archeologists, Turcologists, journalists and NGO representatives, headed by Armenian Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gurjian, arrived in eastern city of Kars early on Wednesday to participate in the inauguration of the Armenian Church on Akdamar Island in Van Lake.

Tight security measures were put in place for the Armenian delegation, which is actually in Turkey as the official guest of the Culture & Tourism Ministry.

Speaking to reporters, Gyurjian said that they are not in Turkey just to witness the renovation of the Akdamar Church and added: "We think we can discuss new projects regarding the future. Our experts can cooperate in many areas including archeology, architecture and industry".

The Armenian group will visit historical and tourist attractions in Kars today.

Wilson: "Relations Between Armenia And Turkey Should Be Improved"
Turkish Press
March 28 2007
US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson said yesterday that relations between Turkey and Armenia should be improved. Also commenting on an US Armenian resolution before the US House of Representatives, Wilson stated that the US administration's official policy on the issue wouldn't be changed by the non-binding resolution, adding that the US clearly encourages the sides to discuss the issue. He added that he would continue to voice his opposition to the resolution. In related news, Turkey's Ambassador to Washington Nabi Sensoy stated that if passed, the resolution could cast a shadow over Turkish-US relations.

Bush: Turkish-U.S. Ties Promote World Peace
In a message to the 26th Annual Conference on Turkish-U.S. Relations, sponsored by the Turkish-U.S. Business Council (TAIK) and the American-Turkish Council (ATC), U.S. President George W. Bush declared that good relations between the two countries help to promote global welfare and the cause of peace, reports Sabah newspaper. He also stated that he appreciates the contributions that Turkish Americans make to the U.S. "Turkey and the US have a relationship which reflects common interests, and carries forward the cause of peace. The two countries can develop trade opportunities by increasing international cooperation," Bush said.

The So-Called ‘Akdamar Museum’
March 30, 2007
Cengiz Çandar
This is the day of the opening of a "church-museum," which the Minister of Cultural Affairs turned into a mess. Whatever the intention was, it looks like a "cultural genocide." Today is indeed the day of the opening of the Ahtamar Church, which has been just restored, to "tourism," and which is expected to attract many tourists to Eastern Anatolia.

However the Ministry has renamed the 1000-year-old Armenian capital "Ani" as "Ani" (which means "memory" in Turkish), and also removed the cross and the bells from the Ahtamar Church, which it renamed as "Akdamar" (which means "white vein" in Turkish.) This obsession with renaming, the cultural and religious intolerance shown towards the cross and the church bell, might well be perceived in the world as a "cultural genocide"; nobody should be surprised if that turns out to be the case.

The obsession with renaming:
The name Akhtamar comes from a myth about the lake Van. It is about the story of a young man, who was looking forward to reunite with his lover, Tamar, who was on the island along with the church in question. The man yelled "Ah, Tamar" while he was drowning. Why in the world we change that name into "Akdamar"?

What kind of a lack of imagination is that? We have renamed many historical areas within Turkey with completely made-up names like "Güzelyurt" (Beautiful Home), "Yesilyurt" (Green Home), "Yesilköy" (Green Village), "Gündogan" (Rising Day). And now, "Ani" turned into "Ani", and "Akhtamar" into "Akdamar."

You restore a historical church and find absurd reasons for not putting a cross and a bell onto it? Who will believe that you are secular, or that you "respect all faiths," or that you represent "the alliance of civilizations against the clash of civilizations."

What you do is simply "cultural genocide." How come you have the right for that? And why?

Here is an excerpt from a news story published in the weekly Agos on March 23, and which tells about the letter sent by a group of intellectuals from the Istanbul Armenian community to Minister of Culture, Atilla Koç:

“…Emphasizing that the church on the island is named “Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church” and that it gets its name from the Sourp Haç festival celebrated on the second Sunday of every September, the intellectuals say: ‘This is an important day and an important festival for Armenians. This is also the reason for the existence of that church. Therefore, we think it would be appropriate to have the name of the church, just like the name of the island, to be changed to fit the its religious and historical significance… If required, the ownership of the property can be given to the community and the operation right to the relative state body. However, if this site will also be [serving as] a church, then it needs to be blessed and open to prayers'.”

Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrop II says: “Is it possible to have a church without a cross at the top? Furthermore, religious services will not be conducted at its opening. If I will not have a role there as a [man of] religion, there will not be a point in my going there.”

Appear righteous and benefit politically:
What do you think “our set” are trying to do? If you ask me, they would like “to appear righteous and benefit politically.” And naturally they make a mess out of it. The initial plans were for the opening of Ahtamar to take place on Apr. 24. A real cunning idea... As it is known to be the “Armenian genocide remembrance day in the world,” a trump for propaganda would have been used on that day.

Then the date became Apr. 11. According to the ancient Armenian calendar, Apr. 11 coincides with Apr. 24. They probably knew this also. They were still pursuing another cunning idea. At the end, it was decided that the opening of Ahtamar, now “Akdamar,” would take place on Mar. 29, as a restoration opening of a museum-church, without a cross or a bell.

What a disgrace. The cross a symbol for the Christian world that represents Jesus Christ's suffering for all humanity. Even if Muslims do not believe in the cross, and even if there are negative connotations of the cross throughout history for Muslims, would it not be necessary to “show respect toward everyone's faiths” in a secular country in 2007? Would such an attitude not glorify a Muslim Culture Minister and his government?

On one hand, they constantly pronounce Fatih Sultan Mehmet's name, yet on the other, they cannot even come near what he has done 550 years ago or his tolerance. They have learned nothing from him.

Hrant Dink foretold it:
A reminder, just in case you have forgotten, that Hrant Dink was treacherously murdered with a shot in the back on Jan. 19. During the time of his murder, the last Agos newspaper he prepared, Agos's 564th issue has just hit the newsstands. The headline of the newspaper was on Ahtamar and so was the editorial, which Hrant wrote and signed as “Agos.”

Here's what Hrant Dink wrote in his editorial:
“The opening of the restored Surp Haç Armenian Church of Ahtamar Island has turned into a comedy. It could only be possible to put a right job on a wrong course so successfully. The impossible-to-hide hidden motive could not be more revealing. A real comedy… A real tragedy… The government hasn't still been able to formulate a correct approach to the “Armenian question.” Its real aim is not to solve the problem, but to gain points like a wrestler in a contest. How and when it will make the right move and defeat its opponent. That's the only concern. This is not earnestness. The state calls on Armenian historians to discuss history, but does not shy from trying its own intellectuals who have an unorthodox rhetoric on the Armenian genocide. It restores an Armenian church in the Southeast, but only thinks, “How can I use this for political gains in the world, how can I sell it?”

They shot Hrant on the day this article was published. It lost its charm in entity. There has been no charm ever since that day. Bad smells come from the Hrant Dink murder investigation.

And today, they replace the cross with the icing on the cake, when they open the Ahtamar Sourp Haç Church as “Akdamar.” Then the “alleged genocide” and “alliance of civilizations” rhetoric will follow.

Koç: Turkey Has Undertaken Its Cultural, Historical Responsibility
March 30, 2007
Vercihan Ziflioglu
AKDAMAR – Turkish Daily News
Turkey inaugurated on Thursday the Surb Khach – the Church of the Holy Cross – on the tiny Akdamar Island in lake Van in what appeared to be a showcase for Turkey's tentative steps to improve ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as neighboring Armenia.

The restoration of Akdamar Church, also known as Akhtamar or Aghdamar, as well as its inauguration has become a controversy because of nationalist sensitivities in Turkey as well as demands from the Armenian diaspora for its reopening as a place of worship. Even on the eve of the inauguration of the church as a museum by Culture Minister Atilla Koç, groups of ultra nationalists staged a small protest rally in Van and claimed that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has surrendered to American and Armenian pressures by renovating and reopening the church, though as a museum.

Answering such accusations, Koç said the restoration of Surb Khach was a responsibility of the government to the cultural and historical heritage of this land, not a gesture to Armenia at all.

Over 300 guests, composed of domestic and foreign dignitaries, including Armenia's Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurgian as well as Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual head of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, heads of mission of many embassies accredited to Ankara attended the inauguration ceremony, which started with a concert by Tuluyhan Ugurlu. During the ceremony a plaque of appreciation was presented by Koç to Cahit Zeydanli, who administered the restoration work.

Koç said the historical building was reopened as a museum but stressed that a stone cross could be fixed to the top of the building at a later date after the issue had been examined by an academic council. He said if the silhouette of the building would be incomplete without the cross, then it would be placed accordingly. He said the whole issue of the restoration was transformed into a polemic whereas the government wanted to undertake its responsibility towards the cultural and historical heritage of this land on the one hand and make a gesture to Turkish Armenian population. He said excavations in the area will continue and disclosed that for the restoration work, a YTL 8 billion budget had been allocated by the government.

“We are respectful to all religions, even the pagan ones,” the minister said adding that historical artifacts decorating Anatolia were not only a heritage to Turks, but for all humanity at the same time and with that understanding the government decided to undertake its responsibilities.

Patriarch Mesrob II, on the other hand, said the reopening of Surb Khach after 90 years was a very important cultural event and appealed to the Turkish authorities to allow religious services be given on the island church once a year perhaps as part of annual Akdamar festivities. He said Akdamar may serve as an important touristic spot while at the same time establishing a dialogue opportunity between Turkey and Armenia.

A New Beginning For Akdamar
March 30, 2007
Yusuf Kanli
It was a day of celebration on the island church of Akdamar, also known as Akhtamar or Aghdamar, when it was inaugurated Thursday after a lengthy restoration as a museum with a ceremony attended by many dignitaries, including Armenia's deputy culture minister, the patriarch of the Istanbul-based Armenian Patriarchate and heads of many of the diplomatic missions accredited to Ankara.

Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koç underlined in both his speech at the inauguration of the Surb Khach – the Church of the Holy Cross – as a museum and in remarks to us that the Turkish government acting in full awareness of its responsibility to protect the historical and cultural heritage has taken the move to restore Akdamar, told the TDN in private that this summer's work aimed at consolidating the foundations of both the big and the small churches of the historic Ani ruins on the Turkish-Armenian border will be undertaken. He complained that despite Turkey's repeated requests Armenian was still operating a quarry on the Armenian side of the border, causing serious damage to the Ani ruins.

Stressing that Turkey has such a rich culture that all through its history places of worship of other religions were respected, Koç underlined that rather than portraying the restoration of Ani as a “gesture to Armenia,” it should be considered as an effort by the government to undertake its responsibility of protecting the historical and cultural heritage of Anatolia.

Built by Architect Bishop Manuel in 915-921 and dedicated to the "Holy Cross," the church was erected during the reign of King Gagik I of Vaspurakan. The unique building is considered a benchmark for scholars in the study of the development of Armenian architecture. The church was abandoned in the 19th century, leaving it to the inevitable ravages of time.

No stone cross, for now:
The restored Church of the Holy Cross, at least for the time being, however, will not have its original stone cross to complete its silhouette, nor will it have its bell in the belfry as the original bell of the church is reportedly at the Armenian Museum in the Iranian city Tabriz.

We asked Koç about the recent controversy of fixing the original stone cross on the top of the restored church building. “That's not a big deal at all. I cannot say we will have the stone cross back there tomorrow, but I do not see any problem in that. This issue was raised only over the past few days, so it was not examined yet by an academic council. Give them time to discuss this issue. But, in principle I do not see a reason not to have the stone cross fixed on the top of the church building if without it the silhouette will be incomplete. Can we accept not to have the crescent on our mosques?”

That was of course a revolutionary approach and even though the minister was underlining that the restoration was not a gesture to Armenia, what was wrong if Armenia considered it as such. Indeed, Armenian Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurgian at least perceived it as such and while he avoided answering questions regarding a thorny Armenian genocide bill at the U.S. Congress, he said re-opening the Akdamar church, even as a museum, will be an element that will contribute to creation of an atmosphere of confidence between his country and Turkey.

Praise from the patriarch:
A Vatican envoy attending the ceremony, as well as Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual head of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, praised the development as a step that will contribute greatly to the cause of peace and brotherhood of mankind that all religions have been trying to promote.

Still, the patriarch stressed that he has asked the government to mount the original stone cross on top of the church and perhaps consider opening it once a year, perhaps within the framework of an annual Akdamar Festivity, to worship so that people can at least pray for those that have contributed to the construction of the historic church.

Though “official Turkey” was against the restoration and yesterday's inauguration being portrayed as a gesture to Armenia, it was indeed a showcase for Turkey's tentative steps to improve ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as with neighboring Armenia.

German Anti-Racism Initiative Creates Concern In Ankara
Barçin Yinanç
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
March 30, 2007
A new German initiative sets a legal framework to make denial of an alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks a crime, following up on similar measures elsewhere

A new German initiative to combat racism and xenophobia with a template European law is worrying Ankara with concerns it could spread moves underway in France and elsewhere to make “denial” of an alleged genocide against Armenians a crime.

The so-called “Framework decision,” essentially a recommended legal blueprint for European Union governments to follow, has some diplomats worried it will in fact serve as a recipe for other countries to follow the example of a French vote last October, the Turkish Daily News has learned. In that vote, the lower house of parliament voted to make denial of an “Armenian genocide” in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire a crime. Many Armenian scholars and historians characterize the events of those years as such; today's Turkish government and many other historians reject that depiction as a distortion of history – particularly because the moves also ignore French complicity in the massacres nearly a century ago.

The Turkish government believes that if the EU endorses such a decision, it might further complicate Turkey's accession process. The Turkish government is conveying its concerns to Germany, which holds the EU presidency. Turkish Minister of Justice Cemil Çicek raised the issue with his German counterpart Brigitte Zypries during their meeting in Berlin last week.

The details of Berlin's initiative can be found in the presidency's web site. According to a press release dated Jan. 29, in view of Germany's particular historic responsibility, the German EU Presidency has committed itself to returning the combating of racism and xenophobia throughout Europe to the political agenda. “It will revive the negotiations on the Framework Decision to combat racism and xenophobia, which have been frozen since 2005,” said the statement. The goal is to attain minimum harmonization of provisions on criminal liability for disseminating racist and xenophobic statements. However, criminal liability will be imposed upon not only racist or xenophobic agitation but also upon public approval, denial or gross minimization of genocide.

German initiative comes at a time, when some parliaments such as the U.S. Congress prepares to recognize the killings of Armenians during the Ottoman period as genocide. Some parliaments, such as the National Assembly in France, passed a resolution criminalizing denial of Armenians claims. Recently, a Turkish politician was convicted by a Swiss court for saying the early 20th century killing of Armenians was not genocide.

“It is certainly a worrying process for Turkey,” said a Turkish Foreign Ministry official to the TDN. “Considering the fact that there are those within the EU trying to stall Turkish accession process, if the EU endorses the decision in question, this can provide the necessary framework to present Turkish refusal of genocide as an obstacle to the accession process,” said the same official.

The European Parliament while discussing a report on Turkey last September rejected a provision that would have otherwise called the acknowledgement of Armenians claims of genocide a "precondition" for Turkey's EU accession. European Parliamentarians nevertheless stressed that, although the recognition of the Armenian genocide as such is formally not one of the Copenhagen criteria, it is indispensable for a country on the road to membership to come to terms with and recognize its past.

Turkey is concerned about how genocide will be defined in the Framework Decision. According to the information provided by the Web site of the German presidency, denial or gross minimization of genocide will be criminalized. The penalty will be at least one to three years in prison.

The Framework Decision does not identify specific cases of genocide, rather it refers to the Statue of the International Criminal Court, to which Turkey is not a party. Whether a concrete historic crime falls within these definitions would be decided by a court in each concrete and specific case.

Turkey has asked the German side to refer to the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“We are fully aware of the sensitivity on the Turkish side regarding this issue. We have been in contact with the Turkish government, in order to ease these worries – which from our perspective are unfounded,” said a spokesperson of the German Embassy in Ankara. “The Turkish side has voiced wishes, which we have been duly conveyed to Berlin. But one should note: this Framework Decision applies to EU member states only,” said the spokesperson in a telephone interview with the TDN yesterday.

According to the information given by the spokesperson the decision has no automatic direct legal application in member states. It obliges member states to transform the agreed decision into national law. “We are talking about a proposal which is not yet in force. In the 1990s there were a number of crimes committed in European countries against foreigners, among them people of Turkish decent. The primary motivation behind this Framework Decision is to fight these kinds of crimes. Genocide is but one aspect of this,” said the German official. According to the official the proposal does not give any new definition of genocide and it will not change how national courts already define these cases. “The U.N. Convention of 1948 remains the relevant reference for his matter,” said the spokesperson, but declined to comment on whether there would be reference to the convention in the decision arguing that no comment is provided on the details of the text, since it is a non-public working document.

Turkey Hopes Us Senate Will Not Adopt Dink Resolution
March 30, 2007
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Ankara yesterday expressed hope that the U.S. Senate would not adopt a resolution condemning the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, saying that the resolution was disregarding the realities of Dink's murder in January in Istanbul.

In a written statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman expressed Turkey's disappointment over the approval of the resolution at the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee and said it was obvious that the resolution linking Dink's murder with the alleged Armenian genocide claims in 1915 would not prove useful other than cause political abuse. “The United States is a country with which we pursue close cooperation in many fields that concern the two countries within the framework of the strategic vision paper. In that respect, we hope that the U.s. Senate will not adopt the resolution in question which disregards facts with regard to the [Dink] incident,” he added.

Senate Panel Passes Watered-Down Version Of Dink Resolution
March 30, 2007
WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
A U.S. Senate panel condemned on Wednesday the assassination of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, but the resolution it approved watered down an earlier direct reference to the "Armenian genocide," partly relieving the worries of Turkey, which had feared a more negative text.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously voted for the resolution condemning Dink's murder and calling on Turkey to abolish a penal code article blamed for restricting freedom of expression and to launch diplomatic, political and trade ties with Armenia. The measure was introduced by committee chairman Sen. Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat and a presidential hopeful for the 2008 elections. It had originally been planned to be brought to a vote three weeks ago, but at that business meeting of the committee Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, ranking Republican member who is known for his general support for Turkey, objected to the resolution's language.

Biden and Lugar then agreed on a concession to water down the text's reference to the Armenian genocide.

Text softened:
The background section of the original resolution said Dink had been prosecuted under article 301 of the Turkish penal code for speaking about the Armenian genocide.

The final text approved by the panel said he had been prosecuted under article 301 of the Turkish penal code for calling the "1915 massacre of Armenians genocide." "We don't see the benefit of this resolution," said one Turkish diplomat here. "Still the text is not as bad as the original one, and that's a minor consolation for us." U.S. Armenian groups hailed the resolution's passage, but they voiced some disappointment over the amendment on the reference to the Armenian genocide. "The original version included a more direct reference to the Armenian genocide and a more pointed mention of Turkey's responsibility for its blockade and refusal to normalize relations with Armenia," complained the Armenian National Committee of America in a written statement.

The non-binding and largely symbolic measure now moves to the Senate floor, but it is not clear if or when it will be brought to a final vote there.The Turkish diplomat pledged to continue efforts to prevent a Senate floor vote.

Dink was killed on Jan. 19 in front of the Istanbul office of his Turkish- and Armenian-language newspaper Agos. A teenager confessing to his murder and a group of ultranationalists have been arrested and are waiting for trial.

Genocide resolutions pending:
The Senate panel vote on the Dink resolution was generally seen as a prelude to more upcoming action on Armenian-related legislations.Two more important resolutions are presently pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate, calling for recognition of World War I-era of killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire genocide. Turkey is fervently fighting the measures, warning that their passage would deeply hurt U.S.-Turkish ties.

President George W. Bush's administration also opposes those legislations, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently urging Congress leaders to drop them. The administration says the legislations' congressional approval will harm U.S. national interests.

U.S. Armenians want the passage of at least on of these resolutions by April 24, designated by U.S. presidents as the day to commemorate the Armenian killings.

Armenian delegation led by Deputy Acting Minister of Culture Gagik Gyurjian, at Akhtamar Yesterday

Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman yesterday confirmed earlier news reports that the Culture and Tourism Ministry has solicited the views of the Foreign Ministry on the appropriateness of installing a cross on the steeple of Akhtamar Church, which will be reopened today as a museum in a ceremony with the attendance of a delegation from Armenia as well as representatives of the Armenian diaspora from around the world.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman yesterday confirmed earlier news reports that the Culture and Tourism Ministry has solicited the views of the Foreign Ministry on the appropriateness of installing a cross on the steeple of Akhtamar Church, which will be reopened today as a museum in a ceremony with the attendance of a delegation from Armenia as well as representatives of the Armenian diaspora from around the world.

Earlier this month, Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, sent a written request to the Culture and Tourism Ministry asking that a cross, prepared by the Armenian Patriarchate itself, be placed on the steeple of Akhtamar Church. The sentiments in the letter from Patriarch Mesrob were echoed in a similar letter sent by a group of Armenian intellectuals and artists to the ministry.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry asked for the Foreign Ministry's input on the issue a few days ago, Bilman said in response to a question at a weekly press briefing. Nevertheless, he noted that the request was not particularly related to today's ceremony. "Our ministry is still studying the issue before offering our viewpoint. As you know, the restoration of historical buildings is a long-term process," Bilman said. "By its very nature, the issue will be evaluated in detail and then the Culture and Tourism Ministry will be notified of our opinion."

Akhtamar Church has undergone a restoration that was undertaken at the behest of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koç. While the Culture and Tourism Ministry intends for the 1,100-year-old church on Lake Van's Akhtamar Island to be opened to the public as a "museum," the Armenian community is pressing for the church to be available for religious services. On the subject of the placement of the metal cross atop the church, Patriarch Mesrob referenced past photographs of the historic church as the reason why the ministry should allow the cross to be placed there.

Earlier this week, the head of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Karekin II, refused to attend the reopening ceremony because the church will operate as a museum, not as a church. Also yesterday, both Mesrob and a delegation from Armenia -- with whom Turkey has no diplomatic relations -- traveled to the eastern Anatolian city of Van for today's ceremony. The Armenian delegation was led by Deputy Acting Minister of Culture Gagik Gyurjian. Meanwhile, Bilman also said that representatives of the Armenian diaspora from Australia, France, Germany, Lebanon, Slovakia and the United States would participate in the ceremony.

Today's Zaman Ankara

Parliaments can't judge history, says Ankara
Levent Bilman
Ankara reiterated yesterday that parliaments are not appropriate places for making assertions regarding historical facts, such as whether the killings of Anatolian Armenians during World War I was genocide or not.

While in Washington the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was preparing to vote on a resolution condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink -- calling on Turkey to abolish a penal code article widely considered to be a barrier standing in the way of freedom of expression, and asking Turkey to establish diplomatic, political and economic relations with neighboring Armenia -- Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman yesterday responded to questions on the same issue at a weekly press conference.

The committee had delayed a planned vote on the non-binding resolution three weeks ago, when the ranking member of the committee Richard Lugar objected to it and wanted the "Armenian genocide" expression to be taken out of the resolution. The delay had led to disappointment in the Armenian diaspora while pleasing Ankara.

It is not clear yet whether or not the "Armenian genocide" expression has been taken out, Bilman said, adding: "We don't wish for parliaments to make such decisions. We believe that if there is an issue related to history, this should be directly researched by historians and a judgment should be made by historians, not by parliamentarians."

Today's Zaman Ankara

‘the Resolution Is A Result Of Us Domestic Politics’
The Armenian allegations of genocide against Turkey are completely disconnected from reality, and the resolution in the US Congress is the result of domestic politics, said a one-time legal consultant to former President Ronald Reagan, reported the Anatolia news agency.

"What the Armenians did to the Ottoman Empire was treasonous, and following this, the Ottomans removed the Armenians from those regions of the empire which were militarily sensitive," said Bruce Fein, claiming that while Armenians were being forced to move from these regions that certain unfortunate events had occurred, but that it would not be possible to characterize these actions as "genocide," speaking at a conference on "Ottoman Minorities" sponsored by the Turkish Students Association at Baruch College and the Federation of Turkish-American Associations in New York.

Fein also mentioned the autonomy that was extended to minorities under the Ottoman state, reminding the audience that many individuals from religious minorities had served in high-ranking office. Fein then noted that when the Ottomans began to lose power, from the 19th century onwards, the Armenians living in Ottoman lands began to call for autonomy and that this had led to the cooperation between Armenian terror groups and Russia and France during World War I.

Fein claimed that Muslim Turkish deaths were around 2 million while Armenian deaths ranged between 300,000 and 600,000.

Asking the audience, Fein said: "If the Ottomans were really so focused on eliminating the Armenians, would they have tried and executed the Ottoman officers and soldiers who treated the Armenians badly? For example, can you even imagine Hitler trying and executing his SS officers for sending Jewish people to the gas chambers? Or can you imagine if Hitler had decided not to force the Jewish citizens living in Berlin to go to concentration camps?"

Referring to the Armenian genocide resolution pending at the US congress, Fein said: "Politicians are not working with history, what they are trying to do is win over the voters in their districts. In the US, and in any other country where parliaments have passed this bill, it is completely the result of Armenian lobbies and voters. The events that occurred on both sides were tragic, but they did not constitute genocide.

Today's Zaman Istanbul

Gates: Armenian ‘genocide’ Resolution, Pkk Damage Ties
Turkish-American relations are strong, but more work is needed to keep them that way and more has to be done to fight the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and to prevent passage of the Armenian genocide resolution pending at the US Congress the US defense secretary said in Washington, D.C.

"We recognize that every Turkish citizen killed by the PKK is a setback for success in Iraq and a setback in our relationship with Turkey," said US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, adding: "The United States has appointed one of our most distinguished military officers, Gen. Joseph Ralston -- a former NATO commander -- as special envoy for countering the PKK. But we know more needs to be done."

Speaking at the annual conference on US-Turkish relations organized by various business associations and led by the American-Turkish Council to promote commercial and cultural relations between the two countries, Gates indicated that Turkey and the US have a strong strategic relationship despite some "turbulence."

"It is no secret that the strategic relationship between the United States and Turkey has undergone some turbulence in recent years. Even so, our military, economic, political, and personal ties remain strong. Turkey is, for example, one of the major allied partners on the Joint Strike Fighter, and 16 US Navy ships called on Turkish ports last year." In his first public speech after becoming defense secretary, it was not by accident that he spoke at a Turkish-American event, Gates said, adding that Turkey and the United States should avoid damaging attitudes, such as the Armenian genocide resolution pending at the US Congress and the worsening anti-American stance in Turkey.

The US defense secretary, together with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, had sent a letter to senior members of the US Congress indicating the damage that Turkish-US ties could suffer if the pending resolution on Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks is passed.

The resolution was presented to the US House of Representatives earlier this year, though the timing of the vote has yet to be decided. Turkey has warned that passage of the resolution would harm strategic relations with the United States and undermine cooperation in key regions across the world; in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

‘Both sides should see sensitivities’
Both the US and Turkey should be sensitive toward the issues that carry importance for them, said retired Gen. James Jones, who was the NATO supreme allied commander of the United States European Command from 2003 to 2006.

After receiving the "distinguished defense award" at the ATC meeting in Washington, Jones praised Turkey's contribution to NATO forces in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Black Sea.

Babacan expects developments
Returning from the ATC meetings in Washington, Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan said in Istanbul that he reiterated the Turkish stance on the Armenian genocide allegations to the US business circles with which he had contact.

"We told American business circles that if they can do anything about communicating how Turkey sees the issue to the US Congress and the administration, those efforts would benefit our bilateral relations."

Today's Zaman Istanbul

"Missiles, Oil, And Europe Re-Divided" Joschka Fisher*
As if things weren’t bad enough for Europe after the French and Dutch “No” to the European Union Constitution, a new divisive issue now threatens to strain Europe’s cohesion.

The United States wants to establish an anti-missile defense system that is supposed to protect America and parts of Europe against missiles from the Middle East. The American missiles are to be stationed in Poland, with a radar system to be set up in the Czech Republic.

Russia is up in arms about the US plan. A month ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a fiery speech against the project during the Munich Conference on Security Policy. The US representatives were perplexed; the Europeans were shocked.

Now the US says it has reached agreement with Poland and the Czech Republic to study the concrete details of the stationing of the necessary defense systems. Once again, Europe is shocked: the two great powers of the Cold War seem not to be taking Brussels seriously.

Are we threatened with a new arms race between Russia and the US, with Europe once again the theater of their rivalry? Indeed, is a new Cold War looming?

There is no reason to panic about America’s proposed anti-missile defense system. Nor can the political climate, old differences, and the by-no-means new power rivalry between Russia and the US justify pessimism.

No doubt, Russia has regained strength from high oil and gas prices, and it is reclaiming its position as an independent global actor. Putin’s policies are popular in Russia, which of course does not make them right. But, in criticizing Putin, the West should be mindful of his domestic support.

Russia’s return to the world stage means that new and old rivalries will develop and may even intensify in the future. But we are light years away from a new Cold War. There is now no longer any ideological hostility between Russia and the West. Estrangement? Yes. But hostility? No. Eleven defensive US missiles in Poland will not threaten Russia’s security. And they will not mark the beginning of a new arms race. But it is also hard to understand, why the US needs this decision now. Timing? Priorities? The US policy seems unreasonable. The threat from Iran, against which the missiles are to defend, is still far away and can be avoided by diplomatic means.

In fact, the West needs Russia’s cooperation on almost every important international issue of the day, be it North Korea, Iran, Iraq, the Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia, Kosovo, Darfur, climate change, energy security, or nuclear non-proliferation.

For some time now, American policy towards Russia has been anything but consistent. Apparently, the US can’t decide whether to treat Russia as a rival power or a difficult partner. It would be in America’s interest, with Iraq, Iran, and the broader Middle East as its foreign-policy priorities, to pursue the partnership option.

Europe’s policy towards Russia is in even worse shape. Indeed, it increasingly resembles a chicken farm after a fox has broken in. And now, with the US announcement that it will build the anti-missile defense system on a bilateral basis with Poland and the Czech Republic, there is also a hawk circling overhead. Confusion and panic are spreading in Europe.

What is most frightening about all this is not the American anti-missile project or Putin’s rhetorical muscle-flexing, but rather the increasingly dramatic European weakness that the episode has exposed. The EU has been working for a decade on a common foreign and security policy. So how can discussion of an issue as crucial as the establishment of an American anti-missile defense system in Europe be ignored at the EU level, with no attempt being made to find a joint European position?

An anti-missile defense system in Europe is a European, not a bilateral, issue. However important NATO may be, it would be a dramatic admission of its own helplessness and insignificance if the EU were to remain silent on this crucial issue for Europe’s future.

Europe’s weakness becomes even more obvious given that it is not at all clear whether the American missile defense system will ever work. This doubtful project is not worth a serious division of Europe! But bilateral treatment of the issue threatens to do just that: to divide Europe along the same fault lines as did the war in Iraq.

All the while, Moscow is playing a game of “divide and rule” by exploiting Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas supplies. As the EU’s Russia policy is blocked by the Polish government’s intransigence, Russia blithely continues to sign more bilateral treaties with individual EU member states, most recently with Greece and Bulgaria.

The only effective answer that Europeans can give to the Kremlin is to adopt a common energy policy that will hinder any further division of Europe. This will not be easy to achieve, but the EU has accomplished more difficult tasks in the past.

The EU must develop a common position with respect to all significant, strategic issues in its foreign relations. Otherwise, Europe will be at the mercy of the interests of others. No European country - not even the Big Three (France, Great Britain, and Germany) - can any longer assert its central foreign policy interests alone, outside of the common European framework. So any weakening of the EU in its foreign relations entails a corresponding weakening of the member states’ individual interests.

Everyone agrees to a “Europe of Common Values.” What we need now is a “Europe of Common Interests.” Objectively, it is already a reality. Subjectively, the only remaining question is this: how long will it take before Europe’s governments finally start taking it into account?

*Joschka Fischer was Germany’s Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998 to 2005. A leader in the Green Party for nearly 20 years, he is now a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

© Project Syndicate/ Institute of Human Sciences, 2007.

 This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
Perinçek: Trial was not a fair one
The leader of Turkey’s Workers’ Party (IP) Dogu Perinçek, who has become the first person in history tried and sentenced for expressing the opinion that there was no “Armenian genocide,” said Switzerland, where his court trial took place, had been chosen by other powers acting behind the scenes and argued that his trial in Lausanne was not a fair one.

The fact that Switzerland, with its positive image in Turkey as a peaceful and democratic country, took the lead in punishing views differing with those of the Armenians on history came as a surprise to many in Turkey. Why is such a country which has nothing to do with the Armenian issue and has no serious diplomatic problem with Turkey on the frontline of the debates, asked observers. Perinçek, who has already appealed the conviction to an upper court in Switzerland, told Today’s Zaman that even some intellectual circles in Switzerland admitted that this “dirty job” was thrown onto their country’s shoulders. “My court case has ignited extensive debates within the framework of freedom of expression. People should be free to make their own judgments about historical facts,” he said.

Perinçek also claimed that his trial in Lausanne was not a fair one. The translation provided during the court process was far from sufficient according him. “Only the questions and my answers were translated, apart from that all other conversation between the judges and prosecutors were in French and I could not follow a word of it. Besides, I brought so many documents to the court; books, reports and some of them were official writings of some Armenian statesmen as well. I do not think the judge has even bothered to read the summary report of those documents. Obviously the decision was already made when the trial began.”

Meanwhile, Swiss Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap told the court that Perinçek was an arrogant instigator and racist who had intentionally denied the “genocide,” which Swiss public opinion considered as an established historic fact. Perincek said he felt utmost sorrow for that calumny, “I am the last person in the world who can be called racist.”

Perincek says he does not care that his name went down in history as the first person sentenced for rejecting the “Armenian genocide.” He says, “What it is more important to me is that my nation was humiliated with this unjust conviction from the Swiss court.”

Perinçek, given a suspended penalty of 9,000 Swiss francs and ordered to pay 1,000 francs to an Armenian association, said: “the Worker’s Party has enough to pay such amount but we received a lot of phone calls from all over Turkey for support. Many people and institutions are volunteering to pay that money. This is very uplifting for us.” Dogu Perincek and his party will join with some other civil initiatives and will be marching in Paris on April 14 to draw the attention to the French and American governments’ attempts at passing Armenian genocide bills backed by the intensive lobbying of the Armenian Diaspora.


TABA launches anti genocide campaign
The Turkish-American Business Association (TABA) has sent almost 1,000 letters to leading figures in US politics, the business world, bureaucracy and civil society in an effort to voice opposition to the Armenian genocide resolution pending at the US Congress.

Meanwhile TABA chair Ugur Terzioglu is in Washington with a 40-member delegation from the association in order to attend the annual conference of the American-Turkish Council (ATC). The TABA delegation led by Terzioglu is scheduled to hold talks with Democratic congressman Robert Wexler and Republican congressman Ed Whitfield, who are both co-chair of the Turkey Caucus in the US Congress. More than 600 US and Turkish companies are members of the Istanbul-based TABA.

Today's Zaman Ankara

France and Turkey negotiate flying rights
March 28, 2007
Barçin Yinanç
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Turkey has cancelled the bloc authorization over flying rights it gave to France after the French National Assembly endorsed a law criminalizing denial of Armenians claims of genocide, diplomatic sources told the Turkish Daily News. Until last December France used to get a yearlong bloc authorization for its military aircraft flying over Turkish territory. However, following the decision of the French National Assembly last October, Turkey did not extend the authorization for the year 2007. The decision is part of the Turkish military's policy on suspending relations in the military field.

The Turkish army was one of the institutions showing the strongest reaction to France. Relations with France in the military field were suspended immediately after the decision on October 2006 and French firms were blacklisted. Both France and Turkey are members of the NATO military alliance and Turkey is a market for French made weapons.

French military aircraft use Turkish airspace, especially for its contribution in the NATO operation in Afghanistan. Approximately 700 French soldiers are deployed in Kabul where the French military shares the rotating command of the multinational forces with Turkish military.

Hence, French military aircraft flying to Afghanistan over Turkish airspace are affected most by the decision on not extending the bloc authorization. “The decision makes the French military's life more difficult,” said a diplomatic source familiar with the issue. With the bloc authorization, it suffices for the aircraft to notify its intention of using the airspace; without it, the aircraft has to wait for the permission of the Turkish side to use the airspace. “This obviously makes the French military quiet nervous; since they prefer to plan everything in advance,” said an official, emphasizing that the authorization to use the airspace comes at the last minute and that this procedure creates complications, especially during emergencies. However, with one or two exceptions, the necessary authorization was given on each request. Diplomatic sources told the TDN that talks are underway to solve the problem; with Paris apparently making the point that a NATO operation is being harmed by Turkey's stance.

Specter of a multi-superpowered world
March 28, 2007
Nuri M. Çolakoglu

WASHINGTON – A couple of months ago when I was talking to a well seasoned U.S. foreign policy expert who had occupied very critical positions under various administrations I asked him, “20 years ago we were living in a world of two super powers and we had been thinking that this would go on for a long time and one day nearly overnight we ended up with a one super power world. There was great euphoria and many believed this era of Pax Americana would last an eternity.

But we see that the United States has stepped on a land mine in Iraq. It can neither leave nor stay or for that matter it cannot even lift its foot for this can blow the fuse and create an even greater chaos in the Middle East. On the other hand, as the United States is stuck we see new super powers emerging in the horizon - such as Russia, China, Japan, Europe, even India and Brazil. So the question is in 10 years time can we end up in a world of say six super powers?” We were at a small roundtable, totally off the record. He looked around and said “Quite probably… But I hope that as the cost of settling scores through war is getting so high they will not be fighting but maneuvering in a set of alliances.”

Two distinct schools of thought: In Washington DC, where the 26th ATC-TAIK Annual Conference is taking place, there seems to be two distinct schools of thought: ones who are fully concentrated on this game in Iraq and others who are thinking longer term. Those who have focused in Iraq are also split into two: those who want to carry on at any cost - even without a concrete plan for an end game, just as when they decided to go into Iraq - and those who are looking at ways of getting out Iraq without leaving havoc behind. As to those who are thinking longer term, a world of multiple super powers seems to be a very likely scenario. Russia, which seemed to be on the verge of sudden demise 15 years ago, has managed to get its act together thanks to the erupting crisis in the Middle East since the 1990s, which has been pushing up the price of petrol and gas. And despite the fact that the days of the glorious Soviet Union are over, the Kremlin has created a set of relations that made it the main supplier of energy to the most critical parts of the world. With the Latin-American crisis of the United States developing and more and more not so pleasant singing birds settling in its back yard and developing into a chorus of anti-American twitter, U.S. reliance on Russian and Central Asian gas and oil in growing - as is that of Japan, China and Europe. When The Economist weekly depicts President Vladimir Putin on its cover as a Chicago gangster not with a machine gun but with a petrol pump, this seemed for many to depict a realistic assessment of the situation. And Russia thanks to the wealth it has amassed from rising petrol prices has gone on to shopping for allies. All of a sudden the decades old enmity between Russia and China seems to be disappearing and there is a talk of strategic co-operation between the two giants. Now here one should note that China is not what it used to be 20 years ago. Thanks to the intelligent policies of successive leaderships since Deng Hsiao-ping, it has been able to appeal to global capital, which was looking for a disciplined work place with low coasts. Many hi-tech companies migrated to China starting with the Pudong area of Shanghai and soon Chinese special industrial zones were inundated with the factories or operations of technology giants.

Russia, China and real politik: Thus China did not only train its work force to the highest standards, it also obtained a large number of patents and had a thorough know-how transfer during joint operations with these technology companies. So China has got the skilled and trained work force and some important technology. What does it need? It needs money and energy because it does not have any energy source of its own – at least to meet its demands. Who has it? Russia. Now doesn't that put Russia-China cooperation on a real politik foundation? What if India, who has been making enormous strides on the technology front and who seems to be eager to bury the hatchet with China joins this front? What if Iran, who is rich in energy resources and sitting on top of the Western energy corridor and who is sick and tired of Western bullying and interventions, decides to side with them. This is the interesting picture that is developing. And in Washington, some, if not many, are looking at this picture and reviewing the importance Turkey would gain in such an eventuality. So these are the ones who are really fighting to stop a stone like the Armenian resolution before it is too late. And one can see the mood change that has taken place in the last few months. And this is what corporate America is hoping and working for. ...... Nuri M. Çolakoglu is a veteran diplomatic correspondent and broadcaster, currently Vice President of Dogan Media Group's Executive Committee and the CEO of the Turkish Daily News

Paying it forward: American expat teaches Turkish students civic activism
Never one to sit around and idly criticize, Tara Hopkins’ typical response when she hears someone complaining is, “Well, what are you doing to help?”

What other response would you expect from a woman who’s been an activist since she was 14? “Paying forward” the debt we all owe society -- to contribute and create positive change -- is something in which she firmly believes.

In fact she became so proficient at showing people how make changes for the better that her personal philosophy has turned into her fulltime occupation. Hopkins is the creator and coordinator of the Civic Involvement Projects (CIP) program at Sabanci University, now in its eighth successful year.

An expat in Istanbul since 1989, American Tara Hopkins came to Turkey as a teacher, but increasingly dissatisfied with instructing language classes she eventually offered the administrators of Sabanci University an opportunity to act on their desire to create community service offerings within their curriculum. In 1999 she offered them a program to teach Sabanci students that “every individual not only can but must contribute positively to society.” As Hopkins explains, “Our goal is to teach a new generation of people to be aware, involved, responsible and advocates for positive change.” Supportive from the start, the university made Hopkins’ class a one-year mandatory requirement for all incoming freshmen.

What she gave them in return was far beyond their expectations.

The program has done so well that in 2004 it won a $250,000 grant from the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation so that Hopkins and her students could visit other universities in Turkey and abroad to show them how to set up similar programs of their own. Hopkins plans to start the same CIP curriculum at new universities in Turkey each year; to date, 13 other universities in Turkey have risen to the challenge, as have universities in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Hopkins and crew have also held meetings with interested universities in Jordan, Lebanon and Greece. The success of the program has even spread to much less likely places… In May 2006, Hopkins visited Kabul, Afghanistan to provide a five-day civic participation training course at the Afghanistan Institute for Learning -- a seminar that included members of the Aghani government ministries.

Who gets helped?
What are they doing that’s so special? “Every year we try to do something different,” Hopkins says. “We don’t work with anyone who has an overtly political or religious aim. We do a lot of human rights projects. For Amnesty International the students have done letter-writing campaigns, transcription of conference notes, Web pages, etc. in order to have the information available to a wider audience.”

The CIP projects include many humanitarian endeavors, like working with understaffed, under-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and social service agencies to increase their effectiveness via more volunteers. “We do projects with impoverished children, orphans, mentally and physically challenged children; we help with activity centers in gece kondu areas and with outlaying schools that don’t have enough resources. We have a lot of interest in children’s projects, partly because of the need and partly because the culture here is very protective and nurturing towards children,” explains Hopkins.

This year’s focus in Turkey: education for girls
This year the CIP projects have included collaborations with Milliyet’s “Baba Beni Okula Gönder” (Dad, Send Me to School) scheme as well as the Haci Ömer Sabanci Foundation (VAKSA) and Mardin Education Foundation (MAREV) to help construct girls’ dormitories in Kars, Sarikamis and Mardin so that in rural locations, where village schools don’t offer secondary education, girls will have the opportunity to finish high school.

“In Kars and Sarikamis, the demand is off the charts. More than 400 girls are clamoring to be part of the project,” says Hopkins. “However, it will take more to motivate the girls in Mardin who seem rather pessimistic about their education in terms of what doors it can open for their future. We need to show them how critical education is.” Together with MAREV, this summer Hopkins and her crew will help train local university students to work with the girls and tutor.

Also planned this year is a cooperative project between Sabanci CIP and Dikili municipality in Ayvalik.

To whom much is given, much is expected
“No government in any country can or should take care of all people in need,” advises Hopkins, noting that for a society to work everyone needs to participate. “And everyone can certainly manage two hours a week to volunteer, whether it’s spending time with the elderly, giving warmth to children at an orphanage or talking with your municipality to start a recycling program or something that adds to the quality of life for your community.

“Our projects are personal, relationship-based programs. A lot of time goes into it. We involve Turkish and international NGOs and I tell them, ‘I’m asking for five to 10 hours of your time, but in return, you’re going to get about 200 to 400 hours of our time’.” She’s referring to the volunteer hours of the 600 to 700 students who attend her course every year, along with former students who have come back to help supervise projects. Many freshman students start the required class grudgingly, but by the end of the year, they’re glad to have had such an experience. There is always an abundance of students who come back hoping to fill the growing number of available positions for project supervisors, coordinators or assistants.

Hopkins is glad to see the trend reaching to younger students as well. Robert College in Istanbul has modeled its new community outreach program on Sabanci’s CIP with input from Hopkins and crew.

Ever modest, Hopkins notes, “I’ve developed the program so that it will eventually be able to run without me. It’s important for the students to know that they can be creators of significant social change all by themselves.”

Jokingly nicknaming her program GOYA (Get Off Your A**), Hopkins emphasizes the fact that most people simply need to look around for opportunities to engage in projects that give back to the community. It’s only a matter of getting involved and paying it forward.


  • Politicizing The Armenian Tragedy

  • Abdullah Gul
    28 March 2007
    Washington Times/ERAREN
    Today, as the United States and its allies confront critical challenges around the world, there is perhaps no nation more at the forefront of our collective efforts than Turkey. Our strategic partnership spans a wide range of global challenges, from helping secure Iraq and Afghanistan to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting energy security and fighting terrorism in our region and beyond.

    This relationship also has an important bearing on regional and global stability. Yet, such strategic cooperation is jeopardized by a single interest group that solely pursues its own political agenda over national interests. Once again, Armenian lobbying organizations are determined to politicize the past -- and impose their view of history -- without any regard to the overriding and lasting interests of the United States or Armenia.

    The historical period in question centers on 1915, when immense mutual suffering occurred amid the atrocities of World War I. Countless individual stories have been passed from generation to generation among Turks, Armenians and others who then made up the Ottoman Empire. But the complex political history and dynamics of that tumultuous period are yet to be fully grasped. Each life lost is one too many, whether it is Armenian or Turk. It is truly regrettable that there is no mention today of Turkish or Muslim lives lost during the same period.

    With regard to the Armenian allegation describing the tragedy that befell them as genocide, the question, from the point of view of international law, is whether the Ottoman government systematically pursued a calculated act of state policy for their destruction in whole or in part. The answer to this question can only be established by scholars who have the ability to evaluate the period objectively, working with the full range of available primary sources. Hence Turkey made a proposal to Armenia in 2005 to establish a joint commission of historians to find out once and for all what really happened, and how it took place.

    Turkey has no difficulties in facing its past. All Turkish archives, including the military archives of the period, are open to the entire international academic community. However, important Armenian archives are not.

    We eagerly await a positive response from Armenia, agreeing to establish this joint commission and declaring its readiness to accept its conclusions. We are also prepared to work together with other parties to conduct this research. I hereby extend an invitation to any third country, including the United States, to contribute to this commission by appointing scholars who will earnestly work to shed light on this tragedy and open ways for us to come together. The establishment of such a commission will also help shape an atmosphere conducive to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

    A recent resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives makes mention of the events of 1915 as "genocide." Its passage will be tantamount to legislating a skewed version of history, which will be totally unjust and thus deeply offensive to the Turkish people who have expressed their readiness to seek out the truth.

    Following the repulsive murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Turkey invited officials of the Armenian government and representatives from the Armenian diaspora to share the genuine grief of the Turkish people. These guests witnessed the enormous reaction of our citizens, who poured by thousands into the streets. Yet, as we today consider ways to create a much-improved atmosphere with our neighbor, the Armenian government appears to be propagating the fallacious idea that Turks are missing a chance to recognize their genocide claims.

    As Mr. Dink himself said in a published interview shortly before his tragic death, "What I want from the Armenian Diaspora is not to make any demands about accepting the genocide, neither from Turkey, from the parliament nor any other governments."

    Today, there are 70,000 Armenian citizens working in Turkey. There are direct flights between Istanbul and Yerevan. Turkish and Armenian organizations are in direct contact with each other, from NGOs to business-people to local authorities. We are determined to save future generations from the hegemony of bitter rhetoric and outright hostility. Yet we are faced with a noncompromising, unmitigated assault not over a political, but over a politicized one.

    Self-examination is an inseparable part of any process of comprehension. In this regard, Turkey has been doing its share of soul-searching. It is high time for Armenians to do the same.

    As a politician, I fully understand the pressures imposed by narrow interest groups. However, there is also the imperative to rise above such pressures and see the national and international repercussions of one's choices. After all, the decisions we make return back to us in this globalized world, where the interests of nations -- especially neighbors -- are intertwined.

    Abdullah Gul is the deputy prime minister and foreign minister of Turkey.

    Best Wishes For ‘Akdamar’
    March 29, 2007
    Taha Akyol, Milliyet

    The Directorate General of Press and Information has directed foreign reporters in Turkey for the coverage of the Akdamar Church's opening ceremony to professor Ilber Ortayli, world famous historian and the director of the Topkapi Palace.

    An Italian journalist poses a question to Ortayli, asking whether Turkey has started to clean its past in order to be a European Union member. Ortayli responds: “First you better learn what history is and then you wouldn't ask such non-sense questions. Do you pose such a question to the director of the Louvres Museum? If this is the EU's mentality as well, that institution wouldn't be straightened up either. We don't want such an EU!”

    To a question about the “genocide” by a German reporter, Ortayli answered, “First learn the role of Germans in those incidents, then come to me and ask about their nature!”

    I, on the other hand, asked Ortayli about the Akdamar Church. With his endless lore on history, he answered:

    “The Akdamar Church is one of the three Armenian masterpieces in history. It was built in 915-921 by the King Gagik of the Armenian Vaspuragan dynasty. The structure is quite important in terms of its history and iconography.”

    Looking at history:
    The conversations above reflect the difference between history and politics. A journalist acting on political prejudices is after sensational news pieces; he doesn't ask about history or architecture, but voices worn-out prejudices.

    In 1997, we visited Hungary together with President Süleyman Demirel for the opening of the Tomb of Gülbaba, a Bektasi saint, in Budapest and the statute of Suleyman the Magnificent built by Hungarians in Mohács… We also visited the mosque turned into a museum in the birthplace of the Turkish historian Peçevi Ibrahim Efendi in Pec city.

    Later on, we saw an epigraph in Hungarian situated at the citadel of Budapest: “Latest Ottoman Governor of Budin Abdurrahman Abdi Pasa died here in fight on September 2, 1666. He was a heroic enemy!”

    Neither Hungarians nor we had an inferiority complex. None of us devised to ask questions with prejudice or sarcasm. All of us were regarding these artifacts as “historic heritage.”

    These are also the signs of what a great and mature nation the Hungarians are.

    Now, take a look at the mentality in our time, a gift that is a reminder of the Ottoman-French war was presented to French President Jacques Chirac. That means, viewing history with worn-out prejudices.

    Cultural heritage:
    Akdamar (Althamar or Akhtamar in Armenian) of course is one of the most precious historical artifacts of Armenian history. The church is an indicator of high-level Armenian culture reached in the 10th century.

    In her book titled “The Armenians,” historian Anne R. Redgate writes that the Armenian King Gagik brought architects and masters of palaces in all neighboring civilizations for the church's construction and for that reason the architecture of Akdamar Church reminds those of Byzantium, Sasani, Abbasid and Turkish architecture. (Page: 214)

    Which civilization or culture is 100 percent pure? There are always inter-cultural exchanges; that is the means for cultural development. The Armenian Church Akdamar is also a “cultural heritage” of humanity as much as it is part of the 1,000-year-old Turkish history.

    One of the best performances of Culture and Tourism Minister Attila Koç is his lead in restoration of this historic Armenian structure and opening it as a museum today. I was so pleased to hear the following remarks of Koç during our conversation yesterday:

    “Haci Bayram Veli established his mosque right next to a pagan temple. Such cultural richness in mentalities is needed in our age.”

    This opening is also a good answer to the chauvinism of the Armenian diaspora.

    Last Minute Move From Mutafyan: Return Cross To Akdamar Church
    March 29, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
    Turkish Armenians Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan made a diplomatic move and called on the Turkish government to return a cross to Akdamar Church, which will be inaugurated today with the participation of a low level Armenian delegation

    Amid the discussions of settling the original stone of the church, the 10th century Akdamar Church will be inaugurated today in Van with the participation of Armenian and Turkish officials and artists. Turkish Armenians Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan called on the Turkish Foreign Ministry three days ago to return the cross to its original place.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman yesterday confirmed the request in his weekly press conference, and said the ministry will report its view to the Ministry of Culture, but it would take some time.

    Turkey invited more than two hundred Armenians from New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Lebanon and Yerevan including the clergymen and representatives of nongovernmental organizations who attended the funeral of slain Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

    Armenian Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjian will represent his country in today's inauguration. Gyurjian is leading to an Armenian delegation composed of experts, architects who visited Kars and nearby cities to see historic sites. The delegation made the entry to Turkey from Georgia since the border between Turkey and Armenia has been closed since 1993.

    Patriarch Mutafyan will also be participating in today's ceremony. Upon his arrival to Van yesterday Mutafyan said, when asked about the Church, “I will express my views later. We are happy. The restoration project is completed. I want to congratulate those who realized this project.” On the contrary to Patriarch Mutafyan, who wishes to participate the inauguration ceremony, the head of Armenia's Apostolic Church Catholicos Karekin II declined the invitation from Turkey to attend the opening of the restored church. Catholicos Karekin II would not be attending the event because the church was being converted into a museum and the ceremony would be a religious one said a statement released by the church.

    Having been under strong pressure because of a resolution proposed to the U.S. House of Representatives that calls on the United States to accept that a “genocide” occurred during World War I, Turkey is aiming to gain the sympathy of Armenians using the opening ceremony of Akdamar.

    Turkey's minister of culture, Atilla Koç, will represent the Turkish government during the ceremony. He will go to Van today accompanied by ambassadors, experts and journalists.

    Turkey Calls On Us To Be A Part Of A Joint Commission With Armenia
    March 29, 2007
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
    Turkey yesterday called on Armenia to accept its joint historian commission with the inclusion of third parties, including the United States.

    “I hereby extend an invitation to any third country, including the United States, to contribute to this commission by appointing scholars who will earnestly work to shed light on this tragedy and open ways for us to come together,” said Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül in his editorial for The Washington Times yesterday titled “Politicizing the Armenian tragedy.”

    Turkey's 2005-dated proposals were rejected by Armenia saying that the priority should be given to establish political ties where sensitive issues like genocide claims could also be taken.

    Criticizing the Armenian lobby for politicizing the past and imposing their view of history, Gül said it is “truly regrettable that there is no mention of Turkish or Muslim lives lost during the same period.”

    Gül stressed that the only way to find out what happened in 1915 is to ask scholars who have the ability to evaluate the period objectively, working with the full range of available primary sources.

    “Turkey has no difficulties in facing its past. We eagerly await a positive response from Armenia, agreeing to establish this joint commission and declaring its readiness to accept its conclusion,” he said. Gül underlined that the establishment of such a commission will also help shape an atmosphere conducive to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

    Referring a resolution introduced in the U.S House of Representatives, Gül said, “Its passage will be tantamount to legislating a skewed version of history, which will be totally unjust and thus deeply offensive to the Turkish people who have expressed their readiness to seek out the truth.”

    “Self-examination is an inseparable part of any process of comprehension. In this regard, Turkey has been doing its share of soul-searching. It is high time for Armenia to do the same,” Gül added.

    US-Turk conference opens under shadow of Armenian bills
    March 27, 2007
    Senate panel to vote Wednesday on resolution condemning Dink's killing
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

    As Turkish and U.S. government and military officials and businessmen kicked off an annual two-day conference on U.S.-Turkish ties with the mood overshadowed by a pending "Armenian genocide," Congress further upped the ante with announcement that a separate resolution may soon be voted condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January.

    The talk Monday was mainly on the fate of Armenian genocide legislations pending in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, whose passage certainly would hit the bilateral relationship.

    "Everything has been said. I hope it doesn't pass," said Gen. Ergin Saygun, deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff, at a Sunday reception at the Turkish Embassy here opening the 26th annual U.S.-Turkish conference. The meetings, known as the ATC conference, are held jointly by the American-Turkish Council (ATC), a group of mainly U.S. companies doing business with Turkey, and the Turkish-U.S. Business Council.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yas,ar Büyükan?t have visited Washington in recent weeks to lobby against the Armenian measures.President George W. Bush's administration also opposes the resolutions, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently urging Congress leaders to drop the measure. The Bush administration says the legislations' congressional approval will harm U.S. national interests. The two resolutions pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate call for recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. It is not clear if or when they would be discussed and brought to a vote in either chamber.

    In a related development, the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee is planning to vote on Wednesday another resolution condemning Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder and calling on Turkey to abolish a penal code article blamed for restricting freedom of expression and to launch diplomatic, political and trade ties with Armenia, according to the panel's Web site.

    That legislation was originally planned for vote on March 6, but the committee's ranking Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who generally backs Turkey in Congress, objected to the measure's language, causing a delay of three weeks.Turkey indeed prefers if the resolution does not pass the Senate at all, but is particularly concerned over a reference to the term "Armenian genocide" in themeasure's background section.

    Ankara fears that a Senate approval of the original text may act as a precedent for future congressional action.

    Although President George W. Bush's administration, which has strongly condemned Dink's assassination, would like to see Turkey repeal the penal code's controversial Article 301 and set up good relations with Armenia, it also shares Ankara's worries over the resolution's reference to the Armenian genocide. So the administration is seeking to persuade the panel's senators to drop that reference, diplomats said.

    For their part U.S. Armenian groups are putting pressure on the panel's members to keep the resolution's original language intact.

    Acting on Lugar's objection on March 6, the committee's Democratic chairman, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, the resolution's sponsor, delayed the vote until the panel's next business meeting.

    The committee's Web site announcement said the resolution on Wednesday would be brought to a vote with amendments, but did not say what the amendments were. It was not clear whether the Armenian genocide reference would stay in the text.In addition to Saygun, the ATC conference's top speakers will include Economy Minister Ali Babacan and Gates.

    The Bush administration is seeking to assure the Turks that even if the genocide resolutions pass, Washington's policy on Turkey would not change.

    "At the end of the day, the U.S. policy will not change regardless of what Congress does on this," U.S. ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson told reporters at the ATC reception. "We would like to see the resolution not pass."

    Letter from Washington
    Not a 'low cost, no cost show'

    March 27, 2007
    Nuri M. Çolakog(lu*
    WASHINGTON – Turkish Daily News
    A visitor in this city trying to take the pulse of U.S.-Turkish relations gets the feeling that the world's lone superpower is like a soldier who has stepped on a mine (in Iraq) and cannot move. Whatever the next step is, it will come with the certain knowledge of a horrible fate - particularly because he knows, the once loyal sapper (Turkey) may not be there to help.

    These are the kinds of thoughts one has at the annual conference organized jointly by the American-Turkish Council (ATC) and the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK), which opened yesterday in Washington DC. It has a quarter of century of history and I have been attending the meetings for nearly a decade. However, this one has a rather thick, anxious atmosphere marred by the Armenian resolutions looming over the agenda of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    The conference brings together government representatives, civil servants, military commanders and of course mostly business leaders from the two countries. The annual parley initiated by the late President Turgut Ozal serves as a wide platform for an exchange of concerns, demands, hopes, and aspirations. It started off as a contact point for military procurement, later new and current issues such as energy and communications were added to the agenda. The profile of participants has become higher ? this year's speakers include Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, State Minister Ali Babacan, TOBB Chairman R?fat Hisarc?l?kl?og(lu, TÜSI.AD Deputy Chairman Ferit S,ahenk, Deputy Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun, Adm. Edmund Giambastini, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jeffrey Immelt of GE, Ali Koç of the Koç Group, along with ambassadors from both countries Nabi S,ensoy and Ross Wilson. And the list goes on.

    Good speeches and presentations are delivered on the state of bilateral relations and on the opportunities up for grab. But in the back of everybody's mind hangs the dark picture ?what if the Armenian resolution passes?? Especially at a time when nationalism is on the rise in Turkey like elsewhere in the Western world, the fear that this can start a detrimental chain reaction that could deal a very heavy blow to Turkish-American relations when its importance is being highlighted by the developments in the region.

    Even the Turkish side accepts that the American administration has got the message and coming out in full force to stop such an eventuality. A joint letter by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Daniel Fried's testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee subcommittee on Europe on March 15 have gone down well.

    Nevertheless, no one on either side thinks of letting it up but increasing the heat. So far two Turkish parliamentary delegation visits to Capitol Hill and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul's visit together with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yas,ar Büyükan?t has been very helpful in getting the message across to the American side that this cannot be a ?low cost, no cost show? for the Armenian voters either as a gratitude in giving a majority in both chambers to the Democrats or as an opening salvo for the next year's presidential election.

    Because it is not only the U.S. administrators who are being grilled by the fire of electors. This is the year of double elections in Turkey and despite the polls that show the AKP well ahead, the fact is that Turkey still is the land of the unpredictable and the Turkish electorate may have a couple of cards up its sleeve.

    So, as I said at the outset, the sub-text to the show here is that feeling of imminent danger with little to be done. It is indeed like a U.S. soldier who has stepped on a mine (in Iraq) and cannot move because he knows that once he lifts his foot a horrible fate waits, thus he has very limited room for maneuver. For he cannot have Turkey as a safe bet in its pocket. This is especially the case in a period when the dynamics of the world are changing very quickly and a new set of strategic concerns and alliances has already started giving signals of a new world order can be in the offing.

    This is subject I want to return to tomorrow.

    * Nuri M. Çolakog(lu is a veteran diplomatic correspondent and broadcaster, currently Vice President of Dogan Media Group's Executive Committee and the CEO of the Turkish Daily News

    Spin, a la Turka
    ANDREW FINKEL a.finkel@todayszaman.com
    “A marriage in a state of collapse … a complete breakdown of trust … Politicians no longer expect to be reported accurately and journalists no longer expect to be told the truth.” This is not a reference to the run-up to the Turkish presidential contest but to Britain’s ruling party.
    David (now Lord) Putnam, Oscar-winning director and one of the original cast of Tony Blair’s celebrity supporters, was describing in a recent interview the current mood of dismay, in contrast to the euphoria when New Labour came to office nearly 10 years ago.

    The immediate reason for this disillusionment is, of course, the subterfuge that the Labour Party higher-ups used to raise campaign funds, reportedly swapping contributions for peerages in what might be a contravention of the law. But there is a deeper well of cynicism -- not simply in British politics but in democracies elsewhere -- about the transfer of power from those who make policies to those who make images. Tony Blair’s press secretary, Alastair Campbell, was widely credited with being more powerful than his ministers. Under his rule Labour was seen not so much as making news as manipulating it. This created the same sense of impunity that gave the Bush administration the confidence to cherry pick the evidence to invade Iraq. Ever since Richard Nixon lost the 1960 televised presidential debates to a more cleanly shaven John Kennedy we have entered deeper and deeper into an era of media-manufactured truths, an age of spin.

    The word “spin” -- to throw the ball in such a way that it is hard for the batsman to keep his eye on it -- comes from cricket (or is it baseball?). So perhaps it is not surprising that the metaphor doesn’t translate into Turkish. The problem is (and I would be delighted to be contradicted) that I can’t find an equivalent at all. The friends I rely on to build up my specialist vocabulary were of little help. One, a social scientist of some repute, explained that there was no need for a special concept to describe what most take entirely for granted. Not only do politicians not expect to be reported correctly, not only do journalist expect to be lied to, but the press all too often collude in the process. While American commentators look for new pithy ways to describe the Truman Show reality in which we live (”wikiality”) or the Bush-like tendency to believe what you want rather what is demonstrably so (”truthiness”), Turkish newspaper readers just curl their lips and speak of the “medya.”

    Cynicism can, of course, be a healthy thing. I was on a journalism fellowship in Michigan at the time of the build up to the Gulf War and recall the incredulity among the non-Americans in our group at official justification for hostilities compared to the trust evinced by many of my hard-nosed American reporting colleagues. The foreigners -- from Indonesia or Argentina -- assumed as a matter of course that their politicians would mislead them. It took the majority of Americans until the 2006 midterm elections to really get the point. On the other hand it is a genuine problem when the public realm is so clouded and polluted that ordinary people have little trust in debate at all.

    There are countless examples of how society is damaged by this process. The grave of Hrant Dink, the murdered Turkish-Armenian editor, is still fresh enough to remember how he was judged both in the courts and in the press not for what he believed but what he was depicted to believe. The reality was that he wanted reconciliation between Turks and Armenians, the spin was that he hated “the Turkishness in his blood” -- an expression plucked out of context. The truth is that there are many people in this country weary of enmity based on race, the truthiness is that Kurds and Armenians and Turks cannot think alike.

    There is a difference between holding people accountable for their words and treating words as bullets that cannot be put back in the gun. During the Kurdish Nevruz holiday, a time when nationalist passions run high, the main story was the leader of the opposition, Deniz Baykal, accusing the prime minister of endorsing terror. His reasoning was that that the premier once, in a radio interview seven years ago, used the word “Mister” in conjunction with the convicted head of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. Some papers supported Mr. Baykal’s criticisms, others thought he was being silly. Then we heard Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rebuttal -- and so for more than two days the incident made the news.

    The controversy was a distraction. It brought no one nearer to defining the problems in the Southeast, locating where things have gone wrong, or establishing what an acceptable solution might be. I sometimes think that those who set the terms of public debate do so with contempt. They think Turkey not only expects lies, but that it wants to be deceived.

    Ankara to extend condolence to Armenia via Georgia
    In the wake of the sudden death of Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan, Ankara is readying a letter of condolence that it will send to Yerevan, with which it has no diplomatic relations, via the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.

    According to information obtained from diplomatic sources, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will send a note of condolence to Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Ankara had not received an invitation for Margaryan’s funeral when Today’s Zaman went to press.

    The Armenian government was summoned to an emergency meeting by President Kocharian following Margaryan’s death. According to the Armenian Constitution the new prime minister will be determined in 10 days and the new government will be established in the following 20 days.

    A commission has been formed for Margaryan’s funeral. The first ceremony will be held on Tuesday (today), and after the civil ceremony Margaryan’s body will be brought to the National Academic Opera and Ballet House around noon. He will be interred at the Komitas Pantheon cemetery.

    His death is not expected to have any serious effect on the internal politics of Armenia or to make any positive contribution to Ankara-Yerevan relations. An expert in the field, Dr. Kamer Kasim, recalled that Armenia had a presidential system and thus the prime minister does not have a large effect on Armenian politics. The death of Margaryan, who was also the leader of the Republican Party, will not effect the parliamentary elections to be held on May 12, Kasim noted, and named two of the candidates for the prime minister’s office as Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan and Defense Minister Serj Sarkissian.

    Margaryan, who died following a heart attack on Sunday, was an Armenian of Anatolian descent. In a statement he once made, he said, “My family is from Mus [a southeastern Turkish city]. My grandfather was one of the leading figures of Mus, Sekrak Margaryan. In fact, almost all the members of our Ministerial Board are of Anatolian descent. And half of them are from Mus.”


    Committee to vote on Dink resolution
    The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has planned to vote on a resolution Wednesday condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, calling on Turkey to abolish a penal code article widely considered to be a barrier standing in the way of freedom of expression, and asking Turkey to establish diplomatic, political and economic relations with neighboring Armenia.

    Authored by the committee chairman Joe Biden, a Democrat, the resolution specifically cites that Dink "was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code [TCK] for speaking about the Armenian Genocide," and urges the Turkish government to repeal the infamous Article 301.

    Dink was tried and handed a six-month suspended sentence for "insulting Turkishness," a crime under Article 301. The editor in chief of the bilingual Agos newspaper was gunned down outside his office in Istanbul on Jan. 19.

    The committee had delayed a planned vote on the non-binding resolution three weeks ago when the ranking member of the committee Richard Lugar objected to it and wanted the "Armenian genocide" expression to be taken out of the resolution.

    The delay had led to disappointment in the Armenian diaspora while pleasing Ankara.

    It is not clear yet whether or not the "Armenian genocide" expression has been removed.

    Ankara vehemently denies Armenian allegations that some 1.5 million Anatolian Armenians were killed as part of genocide at hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and calls for an objective scientific study of the issue. In January of this year a resolution for the official recognition of Armenian allegations was introduced at the US House of Representatives.

    Meanwhile, officials at the Turkish Embassy in Washington have been constantly informing US lawmakers over "inappropriate expressions" and facts in the resolution.

    Ankara also believes that the international community appreciated the Turkish leadership's stance when faced with the murder of Dink as all Turkish leaders, including the president and the prime minister, harshly condemned the murder with strongly worded remarks.

    Today's Zaman with wires Istanbul

    Wilson: US stance will not change
    While Turkish officials who gathered in Washington to attend a conference expressed hope that the Armenian genocide resolution pending in the US Congress would not pass, the US ambassador showed support.

    "Everything has been said already, God willing, the resolution won't pass," said Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun, who attended a reception at the Turkish Embassy in Washington prior to the opening of the annual conference on US-Turkish relations organized by various business associations led by American-Turkish Council's (ATC) to promote commercial and cultural relations between the two countries.

    "We don't want this resolution to pass," said Ross Wilson who is the US ambassador to Turkey, attending the reception in Washington, adding that the US administration would not change its stance no matter how the US Congress acted on the resolution.

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, with a letter sent to senior members of Congress, indicated the damage that Turkish-US ties could suffer if the pending resolution on Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks was passed.

    The resolution was presented to the US House of Representatives earlier this year though the timing of the vote has yet to be decided. Turkey has warned that passage of the resolution would harm strategic relations with the United States and undermine cooperation in key regions across the world, in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, Rifat Hisarciklioglu, president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB), commented that Americans were wise and would not meddle with an issue that should be in the hands of historians.

    Message from Bush
    The US and Turkey share mutual interests and improve global wealth together has expressed US President George W. Bush, in a message sent yesterday for the opening of the ATC conference. He also expressed gratitude for the Turkish-Americans' contribution to the American culture.

    Today's Zaman with wires Istanbul

    Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas’ mutual initiative culminates in confederation
    Seeking ways to counter the intensifying attacks of the Armenian diaspora, the Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas have finally settled on a well-crafted strategy, following the First Forum of the World Azerbaijani and Turkish Diasporas Organizations held in Baku on March 9.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R), Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat (C) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (L) arrive for a meeting during the First Forum of the World Azerbaijani and Turkish Diasporas Organizations held in Baku on March 9.

    Mehmet Azeritürk, the secretary-general of the Federation of Turkish-Azeri Associations, told Today's Zaman that the Turkish and Azeri diasporas have decided to set up an international body to unite Azeri and Turkish nongovernmental organizations, the International Confederation of Turkic Associations.

    "As we can see from the so-called Armenian genocide claims, the Turkish world has difficulties in expressing itself to the world," complained Azeritürk while providing information on the latest initiative of the Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas. "At the international level, we cannot ensure proper cooperation among Turkic republics."

    "The surveys conducted in Turkey show that only 1 percent of Turks know about the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," Azeritürk noted. "While Armenians have made the entire world accept their unjustified claims relating to incidents that occurred 95 years ago, we have failed to inform even the people in Turkey of the Armenian atrocities in Karabakh," he said.

    "Under these conditions, we had to unite the Turkish world along their common interests. Inspired by our Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] and Azerbaijani President [Ilham] Aliyev, we have taken our first step," Azeritürk said, referring to Erdogan and Aliyev's leadership in organizing the forum, to which Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat had been invited, as a sign of greater cooperation among Turkish people in the international arena.

    The confederation will reportedly be established by the representatives of Turkish and Azerbaijani diasporas, but nongovernmental organizations from other Turkic republics can also join as members. Azeritürk was optimistic about the future and outcome of this initiative: "Everything will get easier after this stage. I hope this organization will be a unified voice for the entire Turkish world in advocating Turkish interests in the international arena."

    A long road to take
    On the road to setting up an international lobbying body to represent the entire Turkish world, first the unification of Turkish and Azerbaijan nongovernmental organizations in Turkey and Azerbaijan will be ensured. Later, umbrella organizations will be established in the US, Canada, Germany, Russia, Australia, France and other countries to unite Turkish and Azerbaijani associations and federations. Moreover, nongovernmental organizations in other Turkic republics will be invited to participate in this unification initiative. Ultimately, an international confederation will be established. Its head office will be located in New York and it will have representative offices all around the world.

    While it will primarily deal with the most complicated issues of the Turkish world, namely those related to Nagorno-Karabakh, Cyprus, and the Meskhetian Turks, the confederation will also conduct lobbying activities concerning other problems affecting the Turkish people around the world. The New York-based Federation of Turkish-American Association will reportedly provide support, assistance and guidance to the association.

    Haydar Aliyev's dream
    The mastermind behind an international confederation of Turkish NGOs was President Haydar Aliyev, the founding father of Azerbaijan. He first announced his idea in 2002. Although he repeatedly talked about his idea in meetings with Turkic-speaking countries, it could not be implemented during his lifetime. He even caused the Azerbaijani Parliament to enact a law to this end, and before he died, he left the realization of his dream to his followers. In line with his will, an Undersecretariat of Cooperation with Azerbaijani People Living Abroad was established in Azerbaijan.

    A ministry in charge of the Turkic world was established during the coalition government of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Turkey. When the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) took power, this ministry was abolished as part of the reorganization campaign. The ministry reportedly might be revived or a similar organization could be created, which will be led by State Minister Besir Atalay.


    We are all Dogu Perinçek
    There has been a transplantable slogan that’s been on our mind in last few months: “We are all…” For example, “We are all Hrant” and “We are all Iraqis” have been used.

    We need to add another slogan to these that the media didn’t notice. Dogu Perinçek, Turkish Workers’ Party (IP) leader, went on trial in Switzerland on grounds that he denied the Armenian “genocide,” which is accepted in Switzerland. Perinçek did this on purpose. What he did was engage in a democratic struggle. It is beyond question that many groups appreciated Perinçek’s action. But if none of these circles stand behind his action, it will lose its effect. Our duty today is to stand up saying “We are all Dogu Perinçek.” Civil organizations should organize seminars and conferences in Switzerland and France and discuss the Armenian “genocide” issue.


    A Wind Of Change
    Omer Engin LUTEM
    26 March 2007
    Following the democrats gaining the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the election of Nancy Pelosi -known for her pro-Armenian stance- as the Speaker of the House, the adoption of the draft resolutions brought before both houses of the Congress foreseeing the acceptance of the Armenian genocide allegations, was viewed as certain. However, as surmised from the press it appears that the probability of these resolutions being adopted on the 24th of April or around that date has decreased. The once prevalent optimism amongst the Armenian press has been replaced with pessimism. Even Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanian has expressed hesitancy on this matter.

    No doubt, warning signs issued by Turkey to the effect that these resolutions would have a detrimental effect upon their relations with the U.S. has played a significant role in this development. That these words of caution were conveyed not only by the government, but also by nearly every political party as well as by the general public has sufficed to deliver the message that the adoption of these resolutions would engender sharp reactions from Turkey.

    This wind of change blowing through Washington is also a result of the American Government latterly opposing these resolutions in a decided tone. Also influential has been the Foreign and Defense Ministers sending a joint letter on this matter to certain Congress officials alongside Assistant Deputy Minister level officials providing for a briefing on relations with Turkey.

    However, it would be wrong to declare the draft resolutions dead and deferred to an unspecified later date. The fate of these resolutions, as the saying goes, teeters on the edge of a knife. Those who support these resolutions, whose numbers are said to exceed 180, are contemplating their effect on US interests in Iraq. If it is deemed that the resolutions will cause grievous detriment to the said interests then the resolutions will be deferred to a later date, if this is not the case it can be expected that they will be presented to a vote and will most probably pass with a majority ballot. It should be noted that the Congress is due to recess on March 30th. With this in mind, one should pay heed to how the Armenian militants will most probably strive with renewed vigor to get these resolutions ratified by sometime approximating around the 24th of April when the Congress reconvenes on 16th.

    Another facet to this issue can be observed by noting that the US press has mentioned that the ratification of the resolutions would greatly benefit if it were to be postponed until the US presidential elections scheduled to be held next year. Also, as speculated by the US press the fact that Turkey’s general and presidential elections will have been completed at this time the probability of Turkey’s resistance to the resolutions in question will have also greatly diminished. Thus, we can gather that deferring the adoption of the said resolutions until next year is becoming a feasible prospect in the US.

    The deferral of the said resolutions does not mean that the issues Turkey is faced with today have been neutralized; it only means that the apparent problems of today will only resurface with more potency in the coming year.

    Congressman Schiff Disappointed At Rice's Stance On Armenian Genocide Issue
    26 March 2007
    In a hearing yesterday before the State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the House of Representatives, lawmakers raised a series of concerns regarding past and current genocides. Specifically, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) raised pointed questions regarding the Administration’s opposition to H. Res. 106, which he introduced in January, and that reaffirms the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide and recalls the proud chapter of humanitarian intervention by the United States, reports the Armenian Assembly of America.

    The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by more than 180 Members of Congress, and is buoyed by the recent introduction of a similar bill in the Senate by Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).

    In a spirited exchange, Schiff asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice how the U.S., if unwilling to recognize the Armenian Genocide as such, has the "moral authority that we need to condemn the genocide in Darfur if we do not acknowledge those atrocities that occurred earlier..." Schiff continued, "Is there any doubt in your mind?"

    "I think the historical circumstances require that we allow historical commissions to explore this issue and come to terms with their past," Rice answered.

    "You come from academia, is there anything in your background or training that would leave you to believe that this murder of 1.5 million people was not a genocide?" he asked.

    "Yes, I do come from academia, but now I am secretary of state," Rice explained. "I think that the Armenians and the Turks need to resolve their past before they can move forward."

    "When Hrant Dink is murdered on his doorstep, when the Turkish government moves to bring him up on charges of "insulting Turkishness," I don’t see Turkey as being a democracy that signifies progress," Schiff explained.

    "I do think there is an evolution going on in Turkey," Rice replied.

    "Like many historical tragedies, people need to deal with their past." Rice also added this: "Congressman, we have recognized the historical circumstances [and] we do recognize it in Presidential statements."

    Schiff, in a second round of questioning, said "urging the Congress to ignore [the Armenian Genocide] or abide by Turkish Article 301" is not the solution. "We should encourage Turkey to acknowledge the undeniable facts of the Armenian Genocide." Schiff also noted that the U.S. does not support commissions to study Holocaust denial and that we should not get into the business of historical commissions.

    "I was disappointed that Secretary of State Rice was unwilling to acknowledge the plain facts of the Armenian Genocide," Schiff told the Assembly. "We cannot maintain the moral force we need to take action against the genocide going on in Darfur, if the Administration continues to equivocate about the genocide against the Armenians."

    Turks restore church loved by Armenians A monument to their culture 1,000 years ago
    The Associated Press
    Arizona | 03.25.2007
    AKDAMAR ISLAND, Turkey — An ancient Armenian church, perched on a rocky island in a vast lake, has become a modern symbol of the divisions and fitful efforts at reconciliation between Turks and Armenians whose history of bloodshed drives their troubled relationship.

    The Akdamar church, one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, deteriorated over the last century, a victim of neglect after Turks carried out mass killings of Armenians as the Ottoman Empire crumbled around the time of World War I.

    Rainwater seeped through the collapsed, conical dome, treasure-hunters dug up the basalt floor, and shepherds took potshots with rifles at the facade.

    Next week, the church will showcase Turkey's tentative steps to improve ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as neighboring Armenia.

    Turkey completed a $1.5 million restoration of the sandstone building, and invited Armenian officials to a ceremony there this Thursday to mark what Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called a "positive" message.
    An Armenian deputy culture minister and other prominent Armenians plan to attend the church's opening near the city of Van in eastern Turkey.

    Armenia's foreign minister welcomed the restoration, but said Turkey mistakenly believed the project would prove that it was dedicated to better ties with its neighbor.

    "A positive sign and a move on the part of Turkey … would be the opening of the border with Armenia and establishment of diplomatic relations," the news agency Armenpress quoted Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian as saying this week.

    He said the Armenian delegation could reach the church by land in just a few hours if the border were open, but instead will have to fly to Istanbul, and then take another flight back toward the Armenian border.
    Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 during a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a Muslim ally of Ankara. The move hurt the economy of tiny, landlocked Armenia.

    Turkey also lobbied against a proposed U.S. congressional resolution that would recognize the killings of Armenians in the last century as genocide.

    Armenians cite harassment
    Some of Turkey's 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians say they endure harassment in Turkey, which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

    Hrant Dink, the ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in Istanbul in January, was apparently targeted by nationalists for his commentaries on minority rights and free expression.

    Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual head of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, has asked the government to mount a cross on top of the church, which used to have one, and to allow periodic religious services there.
    The government has yet to respond, but placement of a cross could be sensitive for Erdogan, who plans to attend the inauguration ceremony, and his Islamic-rooted government. The symbolism could upset some Muslims, and Turkey's powerful military might regard it as a concession to Armenia and the Armenian diaspora.

    "It speaks well of the Turkish government that they paid for it and took the initiative to make it happen," said David Phillips, an advocate of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation who helped gather international restoration experts and architects for the church project.

    But he noted that Turkey views the site as a museum rather than a place of worship.
    "It runs the risk of being viewed as an antiquity, instead of a living symbol of Armenian culture and spiritual life," said Phillips, executive director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity in New York.

    Frescoes of biblical saints and scenes are found in the Akdamar church. Turkey completed its restoration of the church in Lake Van, in eastern Turkey, in an effort to improve ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as with neighboring Armenia.

    burhan ozbilici / the associated press
    the Arizona Daily Star

    Turkey Fixes Armenian Church As Gesture
    Christopher Torchia
    The Associated Press
    March 24, 2007
    AKDAMAR ISLAND, Turkey -- An ancient Armenian church, perched on a rocky island in a vast lake, has become a modern symbol of the divisions and fitful efforts at reconciliation between Turks and Armenians whose history of bloodshed drives their troubled relationship.

    The Akdamar church, one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, deteriorated over the last century, a victim of neglect after Turks carried out mass killings of Armenians as the Ottoman Empire crumbled around the time of World War I. Rainwater seeped through the collapsed, conical dome, treasure-hunters dug up the basalt floor, and shepherds took potshots with rifles at the facade.

    Next week, the church will showcase Turkey's tentative steps to improving ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as neighboring Armenia. Turkey completed a $1.5 million restoration of the sandstone building, and invited Armenian officials to a ceremony there on March 29 to mark what Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has called a "positive" message.

    An Armenian deputy culture minister and other prominent Armenians plan to attend the church's opening near the city of Van in eastern Turkey. Armenia's foreign minister welcomed the restoration, but said Turkey mistakenly believed the project would prove that it was dedicated to better ties with its neighbor.

    "A positive sign and a move on the part of Turkey ... would be the opening of the border with Armenia and establishment of diplomatic relations," the news agency Armenpress quoted Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian as saying this week. He said the Armenian delegation could reach the church by land in just a few hours if the border were open, but instead will have to fly to Istanbul, and then take another flight back toward the Armenian border.

    Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 during a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a Muslim ally of Ankara. The move hurt the economy of tiny, landlocked Armenia. Turkey also lobbied against a proposed U.S. congressional resolution that would recognize the killings of Armenians in the last century as genocide. Some of Turkey's 65,000 Armenian Orthdox Christians say they endure harassment in Turkey, which has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

    Hrant Dink, the ethnic Armenian journalist murdered in Istanbul in January, was apparently targeted by nationalists for his commentaries on minority rights and free expression.

    Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual head of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, has asked the government to mount a cross on top of the church, which used to have one, and to allow periodic religious services there.

    The government has yet to respond, but placement of a cross could be sensitive for Erdogan, who plans to attend the inauguration ceremony, and his Islamic-rooted government. The symbolism could upset some Muslims, and Turkey's powerful military, might regard it as a concession to Armenia and the Armenian diaspora.

    "It speaks well of the Turkish government that they paid for it and took the initiative to make it happen," said David Phillips, an advocate of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation who helped gather international restoration experts and architects for the church project. But he noted that Turkey views the site as a museum rather than a place of worship.

    "It runs the risk of being viewed as an antiquity, instead of a living symbol of Armenian culture and spiritual life," said Phillips, executive director of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity in New York.

    Relief carvings on the outer walls of the Akdamar church depict Jesus Christ, barefoot and bearded, holding the book of Gospels; a sea creature devouring Jonah as he is tossed from a ship; David with a slingshot facing Goliath.

    "Akdamar is an extroverted church," said Zakarya Mildanoglu, an ethnic Armenian architect who helped restore it. "It doesn't hide its face."

    Renovators replaced fallen roof stones to prevent more damage to the interior, restored the floor, strengthened walls and cleaned frescoes. The church still bears marks of ill treatment, with graffiti scratched next to some carvings.

    Akdamar, called the Church of Surp Khach, or Holy Cross, was inaugurated in A.D. 921. Written records say the church was near a harbor and a palace on the island on Lake Van, but only the church survived.

    Many local residents supported the renovation because it could generate tourism. Some Turks posted critical articles on the Internet. A leader of an extreme nationalist party said he welcomed the restoration as long as it is not interpreted as a political overture.

    "We are not guilty of anything," said Mehmet Sandir, associate chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party. "Why should we be making gestures?"

    © Copyright 1996-2007 The Washington Post

     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix

    The Akdamar church, one of the most precious remnants of Armenian culture 1,000 years ago, is seen after Turkey completed its restoration in Lake Van in eastern Turkey, Friday, March 16, 2007. The church, perched on a rocky island in a vast lake, has become a modern symbol of the divisions and strained efforts to reconcile between Turks and Armenians whose history of bloodshed drives their troubled relationship. The church will showcase Turkey's tentative steps to improve ties with its ethnic Armenian minority, as well as neighboring Armenia with a ceremony March 29, 2007. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici) (Burhan Ozbilici - AP)

    Armenian Issue 'Turkish Republic Is Unfairly And Unjustly Blamed'
    22 March 2007
    Turkish Weekly
    Turkish MP Egemen Bagis as a reaction to an article published in New York Times wrote a letter to the Editor and said “Armenian propaganda seems to have reached to a new surreal high with allegations about the Turkish archives.” Bagis said that for more than two years the Turkish government and the Turkish parliament have been calling for all interested historians, Armenian, Turkish and all, to form joint research groups and explore all the relevant archives about the events of 1915 and added that Turkey has not yet received a positive response from Armenia

    “Beyond everything else, there are two sides in this issue. Turkish archives have long been open for this purpose, but this fact is ignored and clouded by the Armenian propaganda. The Turkish initiative also suggests that all relevant documents at the Russian, Armenian, German, British, French, American and even Austrian archives need to be cross-checked for the simple and absolute truth. As a result of this cross-check, the truth will be surely understood.” Bagis stressed that Turkish archives are open and are waiting for Armenian researchers who only need to be brave enough to see the truth, and who can resist the temptation of mass-hysteria and history should be left to historians not politicians.

    Bagis said that the Turkish Republic is unfairly and unjustly blamed for events that are claimed to have occurred in 1915 and added that “It is time to leave history to historians.”

    Letters From An Old Empire: Orhan Pamuk: A Brave Voice In A Troubled Country
    Michael Paterakis
    PopMatters, IL
    March 21 2007
    Sometimes fate orders strange situations. For Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, perhaps this one extraordinary experience was a moment of triumph. The very same day he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the French Parliament passed a resolution to make denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide a crime. Just one day was enough for Pamuk to see his work receive worldwide acclaim and his politics views outside his writing become justified.

    The Turkish novelist took the center stage of global attention thanks to his uncommon lyrical style, yes, but also due to his uncompromising politics. His work was already well regarded in literary circles worldwide prior to his unhesitating remarks during an interview in February 2005 with Swiss weekly publication Das Magazin regarding the killings of Kurds and Armenians in the beginning of the 20th century:

    Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody dares to talk about it," Pamuk stated in Das Magazin, explaining later in an interview with the BBC that his objective was to defend freedom of speech: "What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past.

    This is a fearless declaration of his stance about truth, considering that many journalists and writers in Turkey in the past have been imprisoned for expressing their opinions on such culturally sensitive issues. Indeed, a few have paid with their lives for their decision to come forward and talk about this matter. The most recent example is the assassination of Hrant Dink, a Turkish newspaper editor of Armenian decent, on 19 January 2007.

    Another well-known Turkish novelist and a close friend of Dink's, Elif Shafak, wrote of the editor of the weekly newspaper Agos in an obituary published in Time magazine, 'Ode to a Murdered Turkish Editor': "Tuesday, Jan. 23. The day we buried you. 'Yes,' you once said, 'we Turkish Armenians do have a claim to the soil of this country, but not to take it away, as some accuse us of secretly plotting, but to be buried deep under it.' Your funeral was spectacular. Tens of thousands marched. They carried signs that said, WE ARE ALL HRANT, WE ARE ALL ARMENIANS."

    The official position of the Turkish state is that the Armenian Genocide never took place. Pamuk was retroactively prosecuted for his comments, under a penal code introduced in June 2005, which states: "A person who, being a Turk, explicitly insults the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years." Pamuk and Shafak, who have both spoken publicly of the Armenian genocide, managed to have their charges of "insulting Turkishness" acquitted.

    Further demonstrating how complicated Turkey's attitude regarding the Armenian genocide is, Shafak acknowledged in the Time piece that Dink wanted public dialogue about the issue but not at the expense of free speech: "...you fervently opposed the Armenian genocide bill approved by the French Parliament, which would make it a crime to say that the events of 1915 were not a genocide, because, first and foremost, you believed in freedom of expression." While Pamuk, Shafak and Dink have each attempted to foster discourse on this issue, Dink differed from the others in his non-support of the French genocide bill.

    For Turkey, discussing publicly the genocide issue is both taboo, as Pamuk pointed out in Das Magazin, and a major insult for the State.

    However, few people in the Western world (excluding some professionals like diplomats, professors, and journalists) can truly realize the importance of Pamuk's statement for the Turkish people.

    It wouldn't be unfair if I claimed that this giant nation is two-faced, or better, is struggling between two faces: its modernized side versus its traditional side. Doubtlessly Turkey is the most modernized Muslim country, being a parliamentary democracy, yet its record of suppressing public dissent invokes concern in the European Union, where Turkey has applied to become a member.

    David Hotham, a longtime London Times correspondent, in his book published in 1972, simply called The Turks, wrote what in my opinion is the best description of the fellow countrymen of Pamuk:

    The Turk is unusually full of contradictions. Not only has he East and West in him, European and Asian, but an intense pride combined with an acute inferiority complex; a deep xenophobia with an overwhelming friendliness and hospitality to strangers; a profound need for flattery with an absolute disregard for what anybody thinks of him.

    Many Europeans are against the possibility of seeing the Turks become full members of their Union because of this rift between the traditional and modern sides of Turkey. The divide between old and new casts doubt on Turkey's stance with regard to free speech as well as reinforcing concerns about human rights. And it appears that Turkish lawmakers offer plenty of pretexts that put more pressure on the country's back. Turkey has a long way to go (and many civic liberties to give) before transforming itself into the fully modernized and democratic state the European Union would consider admitting but unfortunately, cases as Pamuk's can cause greater setbacks to this challenge with the publicity they earn.

    Pamuk was born in 1952 in the showcase city of his country, Istanbul.

    He studied architecture at the Istanbul Technical University due to pressure to take over the family business but soon he realized that his dream was to become a full-time writer. He subsequently graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976 before becoming a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York from 1985 to 1988. During that same period, he spent time as a visiting fellow at the University of Iowa.

    His early novels soon won critical appraises and literary awards.

    Over time, Pamuk developed a writing style that revealed a deep love for his birthplace and for Turkey in general. His first work, titled Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (translated as Mr. Cevdet and His Sons), was the story of three generations of a wealthy Istanbul family living in the same district where Pamuk was born, Nişantaşi.

    Lyricism is a critical component of Pamuk's novels. Contrary to how it may appear nowadays, Pamuk is not a political writer and never actually has been interested in writing mainly about politics. What he wanted to do when he talked about the Kurdish and the Armenian genocide was to make an effort to bring Turkey to terms with its history and reality. What Pamuk unintentionally achieved with this remark was to have his name brought up in consideration of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

    His win was a surprise not because he didn't deserve the award, but because writers such as Philip Roth, Milan Kundera, and Umberto Eco, to name a few, are felt by some in the literary community to deserve a nod from the Swedish Academy. Pamuk is one of the youngest people ever awarded with the prize. His victory is a bit like Martin Scorsese's Academy Award win this year: deserved but not based entirely on his single, most recent work.

    Pamuk's personal challenge is to bridge the gap between the traditional face of Turkey he loves and writes about with the side that the contemporary world might be willing to accept. Most of his writing has explored his country's Ottoman Empire history rather than issues of modern politico-mixed-religious extremes. The autobiographic Istanbul: Memories and the City (2006) recollects images from Turkey's recent past and Pamuk's own life. On the other hand, the novel The White Castle (1985) offers a vivid description of the Ottoman Empire during the 17th century.

    Turkey is literally cut off from its past. After the defeat and the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Kemal Ataturk-the 'father of Turks', as his name is translated-created a new republic solely for Turks (minorities like Kurds or Armenians faced heavy persecution), based on the organization of the modern western states.

    One of his early undertakings was to ban many Ottoman traditions, including outlawing religious practices like those performed by the dervish sects. But his most important amendment was the introduction of the Latin alphabet. As a result, Turks cannot read their own classics, formerly written in the Arabic alphabet, without translation.

    Despite Pamuk's well-meaning attempts to share Turkey's rich history with readers in the 21st century, various factions find reason to reproach Pamuk for betraying his Turkish background. For example, the nationalist Turks, infected with Kemal Ataturk's dogma, accuse him of being too religious, while for the Islamists he is yet another blasphemous western-style writer. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Pamuk is in love with the Ottoman past of his country in which religion was an important factor but he also admires democratic values such as the separation between religion and the state.

    Although he is a bestselling novelist in Turkey-in every corner of Istanbul you can find pirated editions of his books-when the news of his Nobel award broke and made headlines around the globe, journalist Fatih Altaili questioned, in his article at the popular Turkish daily Sabah, whether: "We should be happy about it or sad", adding: "Turkey cannot be happy about this award, even if it should, because it can't see Pamuk as its own man." The same reaction could be seen in many parts of the Turkish press.

    Pamuk's narrative style is rather foreign for Turkey. My Name is Red (2001), for example, is narrated in part by such unusual characters as a corpse, a dog, and a gold coin, but each manages to move the story forward in linear fashion. Influenced by great western writers, Pamuk doesn't hesitate to introduce postmodern motifs that portray space and time as malleable entities which often bend and change; novel elements to the writing tradition of his country. Yet every single new book he has published has sold out in just few days.

    Pamuk's literary success would ultimately seem to be due to this ongoing and divided love affair of modern Turks between the past and the present of their country, between tradition and modernity, between loyalty to Turkey and interest in the world outside.

    Controversial for his political views advocating the need to talk about mistakes the state of Turkey has made, no matter what opinions exist about his work, Pamuk has used his fame as a platform to speak out regarding his country's problems and policies. Admired and deplored in turn by his fellow Turks, Pamuk's public image mirrors that of contemporary Turkey. And he is not alone among public figures within Turkey calling for open discussion regarding Turkey's past-as well as its future.

    Michael Paterakis is a freelance writer and a college undergraduate based in Athens, Greece. He has reported extensively on a series of cultural and sports issues and for the past three years (since 2004) he has been the Goal.com Greece Correspondent.


    Turkish Armenian Intellectuals Propose Making Surb Khach Church Property Of Armenian Community
    Noyan Tapan
    Armenians Today
    Mar 21 2007
    On the occasion of opening Surb Khach Church of Aghtamar, a group of Turkish Armenian artists and intellectuals sent a letter to the Turkish minister of culture Atilla Koc. In the letter they express satisfaction at the restoration of the church and remind that the name of the island is not "Agtamar" but "Aghtamar" but as "gh" is difficult to pronounce in Turkish, "Ahtamar" form is acceptable. The name of the church is Surb Khach (Saint Cross), and the holiday of Surb Khach is celebrated on the second Sunday of September each year, which is an important day for the Armenians. It is noted in the letter that it would be correct to refer to the church by its proper name.

    The intellectuals propose in their letter that the church become property of the Armenian community, while the state will continue to have administrative authority. Besides, if Surb Khach is considered as a church at the same time, it would be proper to offer prayers and hold a religious ceremony during the opening of the church (otherwise, it will be not a church but a monument which will disappoint Armenians outside Turkey). According to the letter authors, it is necessary to place the cross and bell of the church even if it will be used as a museum.

    "Marmara" reported that the letter bears signatures of Arman Artuc, Murad Bebir, Raffi Bilal, Ared Cicekeker, Ari Demircoglu, Selin Evren, Aram Galenderoglu, Khosrov Kyoledavitoglu, Sibil Bektorosoglu and Nadia Uygun.

    Bush's Shadow Army
    Jeremy Scahill, The Nation.March 20, 2007.

    The Bush Administration is increasingly dependent on private security forces to do its dirty work, Jeremy Scahill reveals in his new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

    This article is adapted from Jeremy Scahill's new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books).

    On September 10, 2001, before most Americans had heard of Al Qaeda or imagined the possibility of a "war on terror," Donald Rumsfeld stepped to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush. Standing before the former corporate executives he had tapped as his top deputies overseeing the high-stakes business of military contracting -- many of them from firms like Enron, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation -- Rumsfeld issued a declaration of war.

    "The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America," Rumsfeld thundered. "It disrupts the defense of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk." He told his new staff, "You may think I'm describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world.... [But] the adversary's closer to home," he said. "It's the Pentagon bureaucracy." Rumsfeld called for a wholesale shift in the running of the Pentagon, supplanting the old DoD bureaucracy with a new model, one based on the private sector. Announcing this major overhaul, Rumsfeld told his audience, "I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself."

    The next morning, the Pentagon would be attacked, literally, as a Boeing 757 -- American Airlines Flight 77 -- smashed into its western wall. Rumsfeld would famously assist rescue workers in pulling bodies from the rubble. But it didn't take long for Rumsfeld to seize the almost unthinkable opportunity presented by 9/11 to put his personal war -- laid out just a day before -- on the fast track. The new Pentagon policy would emphasize covert actions, sophisticated weapons systems and greater reliance on private contractors. It became known as the Rumsfeld Doctrine. "We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach: one that encourages people to be proactive, not reactive, and to behave less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists," Rumsfeld wrote in the summer of 2002 in an article for Foreign Affairs titled "Transforming the Military."

    Although Rumsfeld was later thrown overboard by the Administration in an attempt to placate critics of the Iraq War, his military revolution was here to stay. Bidding farewell to Rumsfeld in November 2006, Bush credited him with overseeing the "most sweeping transformation of America's global force posture since the end of World War II." Indeed, Rumsfeld's trademark "small footprint" approach ushered in one of the most significant developments in modern warfare -- the widespread use of private contractors in every aspect of war, including in combat.

    The often overlooked subplot of the wars of the post-9/11 period is their unprecedented scale of outsourcing and privatization. From the moment the US troop buildup began in advance of the invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon made private contractors an integral part of the operations. Even as the government gave the public appearance of attempting diplomacy, Halliburton was prepping for a massive operation. When US tanks rolled into Baghdad in March 2003, they brought with them the largest army of private contractors ever deployed in modern war. By the end of Rumsfeld's tenure in late 2006, there were an estimated 100,000 private contractors on the ground in Iraq -- an almost one-to-one ratio with active-duty American soldiers.

    To the great satisfaction of the war industry, before Rumsfeld resigned he took the extraordinary step of classifying private contractors as an official part of the US war machine. In the Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Review, Rumsfeld outlined what he called a "road map for change" at the DoD, which he said had begun to be implemented in 2001. It defined the "Department's Total Force" as "its active and reserve military components, its civil servants, and its contractors -- constitut[ing] its warfighting capability and capacity. Members of the Total Force serve in thousands of locations around the world, performing a vast array of duties to accomplish critical missions." This formal designation represented a major triumph for war contractors -- conferring on them a legitimacy they had never before enjoyed.

    Contractors have provided the Bush Administration with political cover, allowing the government to deploy private forces in a war zone free of public scrutiny, with the deaths, injuries and crimes of those forces shrouded in secrecy. The Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress in turn have shielded the contractors from accountability, oversight and legal constraints. Despite the presence of more than 100,000 private contractors on the ground in Iraq, only one has been indicted for crimes or violations. "We have over 200,000 troops in Iraq and half of them aren't being counted, and the danger is that there's zero accountability," says Democrat Dennis Kucinich, one of the leading Congressional critics of war contracting.

    While the past years of Republican monopoly on government have marked a golden era for the industry, those days appear to be ending. Just a month into the new Congressional term, leading Democrats were announcing investigations of runaway war contractors. Representative John Murtha, chair of the Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Defense, after returning from a trip to Iraq in late January, said, "We're going to have extensive hearings to find out exactly what's going on with contractors. They don't have a clear mission and they're falling all over each other." Two days later, during confirmation hearings for Gen. George Casey as Army chief of staff, Senator Jim Webb declared, "This is a rent-an-army out there." Webb asked Casey, "Wouldn't it be better for this country if those tasks, particularly the quasi-military gunfighting tasks, were being performed by active-duty military soldiers in terms of cost and accountability?" Casey defended the contracting system but said armed contractors "are the ones that we have to watch very carefully." Senator Joe Biden, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, has also indicated he will hold hearings on contractors. Parallel to the ongoing investigations, there are several bills gaining steam in Congress aimed at contractor oversight.

    Occupying the hot seat through these deliberations is the shadowy mercenary company Blackwater USA. Unbeknownst to many Americans and largely off the Congressional radar, Blackwater has secured a position of remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus. This company's success represents the realization of the life's work of the conservative officials who formed the core of the Bush Administration's war team, for whom radical privatization has long been a cherished ideological mission. Blackwater has repeatedly cited Rumsfeld's statement that contractors are part of the "Total Force" as evidence that it is a legitimate part of the nation's "warfighting capability and capacity." Invoking Rumsfeld's designation, the company has in effect declared its forces above the law -- entitled to the immunity from civilian lawsuits enjoyed by the military, but also not bound by the military's court martial system. While the initial inquiries into Blackwater have focused on the complex labyrinth of secretive subcontracts under which it operates in Iraq, a thorough investigation into the company reveals a frightening picture of a politically connected private army that has become the Bush Administration's Praetorian Guard.

    Blackwater Rising
    Blackwater was founded in 1996 by conservative Christian multimillionaire and ex-Navy SEAL Erik Prince -- the scion of a wealthy Michigan family whose generous political donations helped fuel the rise of the religious right and the Republican revolution of 1994. At its founding, the company largely consisted of Prince's private fortune and a vast 5,000-acre plot of land located near the Great Dismal Swamp in Moyock, North Carolina. Its vision was "to fulfill the anticipated demand for government outsourcing of firearms and related security training." In the following years, Prince, his family and his political allies poured money into Republican campaign coffers, supporting the party's takeover of Congress and the ascension of George W. Bush to the presidency.

    While Blackwater won government contracts during the Clinton era, which was friendly to privatization, it was not until the "war on terror" that the company's glory moment arrived. Almost overnight, following September 11, the company would become a central player in a global war. "I've been operating in the training business now for four years and was starting to get a little cynical on how seriously people took security," Prince told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly shortly after 9/11. "The phone is ringing off the hook now."

    Among those calls was one from the CIA, which contracted Blackwater to work in Afghanistan in the early stages of US operations there. In the ensuing years the company has become one of the greatest beneficiaries of the "war on terror," winning nearly $1 billion in noncovert government contracts, many of them no-bid arrangements. In just a decade Prince has expanded the Moyock headquarters to 7,000 acres, making it the world's largest private military base. Blackwater currently has 2,300 personnel deployed in nine countries, with 20,000 other contractors at the ready. It has a fleet of more than twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships and a private intelligence division, and it is manufacturing surveillance blimps and target systems.

    In 2005 after Hurricane Katrina its forces deployed in New Orleans, where it billed the federal government $950 per man, per day -- at one point raking in more than $240,000 a day. At its peak the company had about 600 contractors deployed from Texas to Mississippi. Since Katrina, it has aggressively pursued domestic contracting, opening a new domestic operations division. Blackwater is marketing its products and services to the Department of Homeland Security, and its representatives have met with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The company has applied for operating licenses in all US coastal states. Blackwater is also expanding its physical presence inside US borders, opening facilities in Illinois and California.

    Its largest obtainable government contract is with the State Department, for providing security to US diplomats and facilities in Iraq. That contract began in 2003 with the company's $21 million no-bid deal to protect Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer. Blackwater has guarded the two subsequent US ambassadors, John Negroponte and Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as other diplomats and occupation offices. Its forces have protected more than ninety Congressional delegations in Iraq, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to the latest government contract records, since June 2004 Blackwater has been awarded $750 million in State Department contracts alone. It is currently engaged in an intensive lobbying campaign to be sent into Darfur as a privatized peacekeeping force. Last October President Bush lifted some sanctions on Christian southern Sudan, paving the way for a potential Blackwater training mission there. In January the Washington, DC, representative for southern Sudan's regional government said he expected Blackwater to begin training the south's security forces soon.

    Since 9/11 Blackwater has hired some well-connected officials close to the Bush Administration as senior executives. Among them are J. Cofer Black, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA and the man who led the hunt for Osama bin Laden after 9/11, and Joseph Schmitz, former Pentagon Inspector General, who was responsible for policing contractors like Blackwater during much of the "war on terror" -- something he stood accused of not doing effectively. By the end of Schmitz's tenure, powerful Republican Senator Charles Grassley launched a Congressional probe into whether Schmitz had "quashed or redirected two ongoing criminal investigations" of senior Bush Administration officials. Under bipartisan fire, Schmitz resigned and signed up with Blackwater.

    Despite its central role, Blackwater had largely operated in the shadows until March 31, 2004, when four of its private soldiers in Iraq were ambushed and killed in Falluja. A mob then burned the bodies and dragged them through the streets, stringing up two from a bridge over the Euphrates. In many ways it was the moment the Iraq War turned. US forces laid siege to Falluja days later, killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands, inflaming the fierce Iraqi resistance that haunts occupation forces to this day. For most Americans, it was the first they had heard of private soldiers. "People began to figure out this is quite a phenomenon," says Representative David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, who said he began monitoring the use of private contractors after Falluja. "I'm probably like most Congress members in kind of coming to this awareness and developing an interest in it" after the incident.

    What is not so well-known is that in Washington after Falluja, Blackwater executives kicked into high gear, capitalizing on the company's newfound recognition. The day after the ambush, it hired the Alexander Strategy Group, a K Street lobbying firm run by former senior staffers of then-majority leader Tom DeLay before the firm's meltdown in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. A week to the day after the ambush, Erik Prince was sitting down with at least four senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, including its chair, John Warner. Senator Rick Santorum arranged the meeting, which included Warner and two other key Republican senators -- Appropriations Committee chair Ted Stevens of Alaska and George Allen of Virginia. This meeting followed an earlier series of face-to-faces Prince had had with powerful House Republicans who oversaw military contracts. Among them: DeLay; Porter Goss, chair of the House Intelligence Committee (and future CIA director); Duncan Hunter, chair of the House Armed Services Committee; and Representative Bill Young, chair of the House Appropriations Committee. What was discussed at these meetings remains a secret. But Blackwater was clearly positioning itself to make the most of its new fame. Indeed, two months later, Blackwater was handed one of the government's most valuable international security contracts, worth more than $300 million.

    The firm was also eager to stake out a role in crafting the rules that would govern mercenaries under US contract. "Because of the public events of March 31, [Blackwater's] visibility and need to communicate a consistent message has elevated here in Washington," said Blackwater's new lobbyist Chris Bertelli. "There are now several federal regulations that apply to their activities, but they are generally broad in nature. One thing that's lacking is an industry standard. That's something we definitely want to be engaged in." By May Blackwater was leading a lobbying effort by the private military industry to try to block Congressional or Pentagon efforts to place their forces under the military court martial system.

    But while Blackwater enjoyed its new status as a hero in the "war on terror" within the Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress, the families of the four men killed at Falluja say they were being stonewalled by Blackwater as they attempted to understand the circumstances of how their loved ones were killed. After what they allege was months of effort to get straight answers from the company, the families filed a ground-breaking wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater in January 2005, accusing the company of not providing the men with what they say were contractually guaranteed safeguards. Among the allegations: The company sent them on the Falluja mission that day short two men, with less powerful weapons than they should have had and in Pajero jeeps instead of armored vehicles. This case could have far-reaching reverberations and is being monitored closely by the war-contractor industry -- former Halliburton subsidiary KBR has even filed an amicus brief supporting Blackwater. If the lawsuit is successful, it could pave the way for a tobacco litigation-type scenario, where war contractors find themselves besieged by legal claims of workers killed or injured in war zones.

    As the case has made its way through the court system, Blackwater has enlisted powerhouse Republican lawyers to defend it, among them Fred Fielding, who was recently named by Bush as White House counsel, replacing Harriet Miers; and Kenneth Starr, former Whitewater prosecutor investigating President Clinton, and the company's current counsel of record. Blackwater has not formally debated the specific allegations in the suit, but what has emerged in its court filings is a series of legal arguments intended to bolster Blackwater's contention that it is essentially above the law. Blackwater claims that if US courts allow the company to be sued for wrongful death, that could threaten the nation's war-fighting capacity: "Nothing could be more destructive of the all-volunteer, Total Force concept underlying U.S. military manpower doctrine than to expose the private components to the tort liability systems of fifty states, transported overseas to foreign battlefields," the company argued in legal papers. In February Blackwater suffered a major defeat when the Supreme Court declined its appeal to hear the Falluja case, paving the way for the state trial -- where there would be no cap on damages a jury could award -- to proceed.

    Congress is beginning to take an interest in this potentially groundbreaking case. On February 7 Representative Henry Waxman chaired hearings of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. While the hearings were billed as looking at US reliance on military contractors, they largely focused on Blackwater and the Falluja incident. For the first time, Blackwater was forced to share a venue with the families of the men killed at Falluja. "Private contractors like Blackwater work outside the scope of the military's chain of command and can literally do whatever they please without any liability or accountability from the US government," Katy Helvenston, whose son Scott was one of the Blackwater contractors killed, told the committee. "Therefore, Blackwater can continue accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money from the government without having to answer a single question about its security operators."

    Citing the pending litigation, Blackwater's general counsel, Andrew Howell, declined to respond to many of the charges levied against his company by the families and asked several times for the committee to go into closed session. "The men who went on the mission on March 31, each had their weapons and they had sufficient ammunition," Howell told the committee, adding that the men were in "appropriate" vehicles. That was sharply disputed by the men's families, who allege that in order to save $1.5 million Blackwater did not provide the four with armored vehicles. "Once the men signed on with Blackwater and were flown to the Middle East, Blackwater treated them as fungible commodities," Helvenston told lawmakers in her emotional testimony, delivered on behalf of all four families.

    The issue that put this case on Waxman's radar was the labyrinth of subcontracts underpinning the Falluja mission. Since November 2004 Waxman has been trying to pin down who the Blackwater men were ultimately working for the day of the ambush. "For over eighteen months, the Defense Department wouldn't even respond to my inquiry," says Waxman. "When it finally replied last July, it didn't even supply the breakdown I requested. In fact, it denied that private security contractors did any work at all under the [Pentagon's contracting program]. We now know that isn't true." Waxman's struggle to follow the money on this one contract involving powerful war contractors like KBR provides a graphic illustration of the secretive nature of the whole war contracting industry.

    What is not in dispute regarding the Falluja incident is that Blackwater was working with a Kuwaiti business called Regency under a contract with the world's largest food services company, Eurest Support Services. ESS is a subcontractor for KBR and another giant war contractor, Fluor, in Iraq under the Pentagon's LOGCAP contracting program. One contract covering Blackwater's Falluja mission indicated the mission was ultimately a subcontract with KBR. Last summer KBR denied this. Then ESS wrote Waxman to say the mission was conducted under Fluor's contract with ESS. Fluor denied that, and the Pentagon told Waxman it didn't know which company the mission was ultimately linked to. Waxman alleged that Blackwater and the other subcontractors were "adding significant markups" to their subcontracts for the same security services that Waxman believes were then charged to US taxpayers. "It's remarkable that the world of contractors and subcontractors is so murky that we can't even get to the bottom of this, let alone calculate how many millions of dollars taxpayers lose in each step of the subcontracting process," says Waxman.

    While it appeared for much of the February 7 hearing that the contract's provenance would remain obscure, that changed when, at the end of the hearing, the Pentagon revealed that the original contractor was, in fact, KBR. In violation of military policy against LOGCAP contractors' using private forces for security instead of US troops, KBR had entered into a subcontract with ESS that was protected by Blackwater; those costs were allegedly passed on to US taxpayers to the tune of $19.6 million. Blackwater said it billed ESS $2.3 million for its services, meaning a markup of more than $17 million was ultimately passed on to the government. Three weeks after the hearing, KBR told shareholders it may be forced to repay up to $400 million to the government as a result of an ongoing Army investigation.

    It took more than two years for Waxman to get an answer to a simple question: Whom were US taxpayers paying for services? But, as the Falluja lawsuit shows, it is not just money at issue. It is human life.

    A Killing on Christmas Eve
    While much of the publicity Blackwater has received stems from Falluja, another, more recent incident is attracting new scrutiny. On Christmas Eve inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, an American Blackwater contractor allegedly shot and killed an Iraqi bodyguard protecting a senior Iraqi official. For weeks after the shooting, unconfirmed reports circulated around the Internet that alcohol may have been involved and that the Iraqi was shot ten times in the chest. The story then went that the contractor was spirited out of Iraq before he could be prosecuted. Media inquiries got nowhere -- the US Embassy refused to confirm that it was a Blackwater contractor, and the company refused to comment.

    Then the incident came up at the February 7 Congressional hearing. As the session was drawing to a close, Representative Kucinich raced back into the room with what he said was a final question. He entered a news report on the incident into the record and asked Blackwater counsel Howell if Blackwater had flown the contractor out of Iraq after the alleged shooting. "That gentleman, on the day the incident occurred, he was off duty," Howell said, in what was the first official confirmation of the incident from Blackwater. "Blackwater did bring him back to the United States."

    "Is he going to be extradited back to Iraq for murder, and if not, why not?" Kucinich asked.

    "Sir, I am not law enforcement. All I can say is that there's currently an investigation," Howell replied. "We are fully cooperating and supporting that investigation."

    Kucinich then said, "I just want to point out that there's a question that could actually make [Blackwater's] corporate officers accessories here in helping to create a flight from justice for someone who's committed a murder."

    The War on the Hill
    Several bills are now making their way through Congress aimed at oversight and transparency of the private forces that have emerged as major players in the wars of the post-9/11 period. In mid-February Senators Byron Dorgan, Patrick Leahy and John Kerry introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on no-bid contracts and cronyism, providing for penalties of up to twenty years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for what they called "war profiteering." It is part of what Democrats describe as a multi-pronged approach. "I think there's a critical mass of us now who are working on it," says Congressman Price, who represents Blackwater's home state. In January Price introduced legislation that would expand the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 (MEJA) to include all contractors in a war zone, not just those working for or alongside the armed forces. Most of Blackwater's work in Iraq, for instance, is contracted by the State Department. Price indicated that the alleged Christmas Eve shooting could be a test case of sorts under his legislation. "I will be following this and I'll be calling for a full investigation," he said.

    But there's at least one reason to be wary of this approach: Price's office consulted with the private military lobby as it crafted the legislation, which has the industry's strong endorsement. Perhaps that's because MEJA has been for the most part unenforced. "Even in situations when US civilian law could potentially have been applied to contractor crimes, it wasn't," observed P.W. Singer, a leading scholar on contractors. American prosecutors are already strapped for resources in their home districts -- how could they be expected to conduct complex investigations in Iraq? Who will protect the investigators and prosecutors? How will they interview Iraqi victims? How could they effectively oversee 100,000 individuals spread across a dangerous war zone? "It's a good question," concedes Price. "I'm not saying that it would be a simple matter." He argues his legislation is an attempt to "put the whole contracting enterprise on a new accountable footing."

    This past fall, taking a different tack -- much to the dismay of the industry -- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, an Air Force reserve lawyer and former reserve judge, quietly inserted language into the 2007 Defense Authorization, which Bush signed into law, that places contractors under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), commonly known as the court martial system. Graham implemented the change with no public debate and with almost no awareness among the broader Congress, but war contractors immediately questioned its constitutionality. Indeed, this could be a rare moment when mercenaries and civil libertarians are on the same side. Many contractors are not armed combatants; they work in food, laundry and other support services. While the argument could be made that armed contractors like those working for Blackwater should be placed under the UCMJ, Graham's change could result in a dishwasher from Nepal working for KBR being prosecuted like a US soldier. On top of all this, the military has enough trouble policing its own massive force and could scarcely be expected to monitor an additional 100,000 private personnel. Besides, many contractors in Iraq are there under the auspices of the State Department and other civilian agencies, not the military.

    In an attempt to clarify these matters, Senator Barack Obama introduced comprehensive new legislation in February. It requires clear rules of engagement for armed contractors, expands MEJA and provides for the DoD to "arrest and detain" contractors suspected of crimes and then turn them over to civilian authorities for prosecution. It also requires the Justice Department to submit a comprehensive report on current investigations of contractor abuses, the number of complaints received about contractors and criminal cases opened. In a statement to The Nation, Obama said contractors are "operating with unclear lines of authority, out-of-control costs and virtually no oversight by Congress. This black hole of accountability increases the danger to our troops and American civilians serving as contractors." He said his legislation would "re-establish control over these companies," while "bringing contractors under the rule of law."

    Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky, a member of the House intelligence committee, has been a leading critic of the war contracting system. Her Iraq and Afghanistan Contractor Sunshine Act, introduced in February, which bolsters Obama's, boils down to what Schakowsky sees as a long overdue fact-finding mission through the secretive contracting bureaucracy. Among other provisions, it requires the government to determine and make public the number of contractors and subcontractors (at any tier) that are employed in Iraq and Afghanistan; any host country's, international or US laws that have been broken by contractors; disciplinary actions taken against contractors; and the total number of dead and wounded contractors. Schakowsky says she has tried repeatedly over the past several years to get this information and has been stonewalled or ignored. "We're talking about billions and billions of dollars -- some have estimated forty cents of every dollar [spent on the occupation] goes to these contractors, and we couldn't get any information on casualties, on deaths," says Schakowsky. "It has been virtually impossible to shine the light on this aspect of the war and so when we discuss the war, its scope, its costs, its risks, they have not been part of this whatsoever. This whole shadow force that's been operating in Iraq, we know almost nothing about. I think it keeps at arm's length from the American people what this war is all about."

    While not by any means a comprehensive total of the number of contractor casualties, 770 contractor deaths and 7,761 injured in Iraq as of December 31, 2006, were confirmed by the Labor Department. But that only counts those contractors whose families applied for benefits under the government's Defense Base Act insurance. Independent analysts say the number is likely much higher. Blackwater alone has lost at least twenty-seven men in Iraq. And then there's the financial cost: Almost $4 billion in taxpayer funds have been paid for private security forces in Iraq, according to Waxman. Yet even with all these additional forces, the military is struggling to meet the demands of a White House bent on military adventurism.

    A week after Donald Rumsfeld's rule at the Pentagon ended, US forces had been stretched so thin by the "war on terror" that former Secretary of State Colin Powell declared "the active Army is about broken." Rather than rethinking its foreign policies, the Administration forged ahead with plans for a troop "surge" in Iraq, and Bush floated a plan to supplement the military with a Civilian Reserve Corps in his January State of the Union address. "Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them," Bush said. The President, it seemed, was just giving a fancy new title to something the Administration has already done with its "revolution" in military affairs and unprecedented reliance on contractors. Yet while Bush's proposed surge has sparked a fierce debate in Congress and among the public, the Administration's increasing reliance on private military contractors has gone largely undebated and underreported.

    "The increasing use of contractors, private forces or as some would say 'mercenaries' makes wars easier to begin and to fight -- it just takes money and not the citizenry," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has sued contractors for alleged abuses in Iraq. "To the extent a population is called upon to go to war, there is resistance, a necessary resistance to prevent wars of self-aggrandizement, foolish wars and in the case of the United States, hegemonic imperialist wars. Private forces are almost a necessity for a United States bent on retaining its declining empire."

    With talk of a Civilian Reserve Corps and Blackwater promoting the idea of a privatized "contractor brigade" to work with the military, war critics in Congress are homing in on what they see as a sustained, undeclared escalation through the use of private forces. "'Surge' implies a bump that has a beginning and an end," says Schakowsky. "Having a third or a quarter of [the forces] present on the ground not even part of the debate is a very dangerous thing in our democracy, because war is the most critical thing that we do."

    Indeed, contractor deaths are not counted in the total US death count, and their crimes and violations go undocumented and unpunished, further masking the true costs of the war. "When you're bringing in contractors whom the law doesn't apply to, the Geneva Conventions, common notions of morality, everything's thrown out the window," says Kucinich. "And what it means is that these private contractors are really an arm of the Administration and its policies."

    Kucinich says he plans to investigate the potential involvement of private forces in so-called "black bag," "false flag" or covert operations in Iraq. "What's the difference between covert activities and so-called overt activities which you have no information about? There's no difference," he says. Kucinich also says the problems with contractors are not simply limited to oversight and transparency. "It's the privatization of war," he says. The Administration is "linking private war contractor profits with warmaking. So we're giving incentives for the contractors to lobby the Administration and the Congress to create more opportunities for profits, and those opportunities are more war. And that's why the role of private contractors should be sharply limited by Congress."

    Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.


    Springtime In Caucusus
    Letter to Editor: Washington Post
    Mar 23, 2007
    People are celebrating the beginning of Spring in Baku , Azerbaijan and many other Turkic nations in the Caucusus. Ladies prepare little pots filled with fresh grass and put nice ornaments around them before putting them on desks, tables, and windows. Azeris are happy because spring is here; Azeris are also happy because oil prices are over $60 again; and they are very happy that their oil and gas are reaching the Turkish Republic to bring cash from American oil companies to rebuild their country. However, none of these can make Azeris happy enough to forget that 20% of their land has been occupied by neighboring Armenia , with the support of Russian armies, for 15 years. Hundreds of thousands of Azeris are still homeless waiting to go back to their homes.

    Ironically, here at home, Armenian-Americans are pushing hard for H Res 106 which accuses the Republic of Turkey , and actually all Turkic nations, with genocide. Indeed, Armenian Americans have been trying to succeed with this since the 1980s. They really want to punish Turkic nations, as a last step in their wars since 1080 A.D. In their view, Armenians and Turks cannot get along. Even Turks and Azeris do not push for to revenge their losses totaling 3 millions in the First World War; but Armenians are looking to get their long-time rivals punished.

    The problem for the U.S. is that we really need Turks for our war in Iraq and Azerbaijanis in the struggle with Iranians. Turks in Anatolia , the Caucusus, the Balkans, Cyprus , and Iraq (yes, there are many Turkmens living in Iraq and supporting our troops) are the major muscle in the Middle East . Why should we get in the middle of a debatable historical struggle and take the wrong side? Turkish troops were always alongside our troops in Korea , Bosnia , Somalia and today in Afghanistan . Actually, the only major war we lost, Vietnam , Turks were not with us. Today, Turkish truck drivers are the second army with most losses in Iraq after our troops. Clearly, we will lose the war in Iraq if H Res 106 passes and Turks close their borders to our planes and troops.

    Is it okay for Armenian-Americans to be Armenians first and Americans second? Does it make sense to lose the war in Iraq because Armenian-Americans want to punish our best allies? Yes, the Turks are our best allies because we do not pay them even a dime for their solidarity with us, unlike Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

    I believe we all need to remember today that we are all Americans and that American national interests are our number one priority. All ethnic issues for all minorities and election issues for Ms. Pelosi and other Californians must come after national interest.

    It is time to behave in a realistic and rational manner which is in the best interest of the entire nation.

    Vural Cengiz
    Azerbaijani American Institute
    Washington, DC 30006

    Book recounts dramas behind the exchange of populations
    What does history hang around the neck of a man who sanctioned the deportation of some one-and-a-half million people because they believed in the wrong God? The answer in the case of the Norwegian diplomat, Fridtjof Nansen, was a Nobel prize for peace.

    Nansen was a prototype of today's international civil servant, a behind-the-scenes arbiter of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty. This was the document which confirmed the failure of the Great (Megalo) Hellenic Idea to plant a new Byzantium in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after a Greek invasion into Asia Minor that was ill-conceived and badly-led. Mustafa Kemal's ragtag Turkish nationalist army thus defined the borders of today's Turkish Republic. The Lausanne Conference attended by Curzon and Poincaré and the other the great politicians of the day became bogged down by weighty issues: control of the oilfields in Mosul and the future of the commercial concessions that the Ottomans had once ceded to foreign powers. The fate of refugees and whole populations caught on the wrong side of the fighting exercised the Great Powers rather less. The treaty's very first clause called for the compulsory exchange of Muslims living in Greece with the Greek Orthodox population in Turkey.

    Many of the indigenous Greeks of Asia Minor had already fled their homes, fearing Turkish retribution for the excesses committed by the Hellenic invaders. Under Lausanne, they could not return. For others, such as Greek-speaking Turks of Crete and Thessalonica or Turkish-speaking Greeks in Cappadocia and Karaman, being uprooted from ancestral homes was an inexplicable catastrophe and resettlement not a return from diaspora but perpetual exile. Bruce Clark's absorbing study examines exactly how the frock-coated politicians in far-away Switzerland came to embrace, organize and (quite interestingly) finance a much praised solution which in different circumstances might have landed them before an international tribunal on charges of ethnic cleansing.

    Mustafa Kemal, who led the Turkish victory, and Eleftherios Venizelos, who resuscitated Greece from humiliation, were both architects of secular states. Neither man questioned that nations could more easily be built if those citizens were cast from the same ethnic and sectarian mould. It is that principle, what Clark calls the "spirit of Lausanne," which has set a cynical precedent in the dark art of conflict resolution. It defined a problem that has resurfaced in Cyprus and Northern Ireland, as well as in Serbia, Darfur and Iraq. Can people of different persuasions live together in the wake of violence, or must ethnic and religious boundaries match political frontiers for war to end?

    It is a question which at the time of Lausanne seemed rhetorical. World War I followed by invasion and civil war in Anatolia cost, cites Clark, some 20 percent of the population -- 2.5 million Muslims, some 800,000 Armenians and 300,000 Greeks. Facing the future meant developing collective amnesia over the traumas of the past. The need to bury shame, or to at least embalm it in silence, has been a key component of the nationalism afflicting the region.

    The Istanbul Orthodox population, like the Muslims of Eastern (Grecian) Thrace, were exempted from the exchange, but over a million Anatolian Greeks were settled in Greece. They became Venizelos' instant political constituency, a buffer against Bulgarian expansion and a workforce in the post-war reconstruction of the country. Turkey was affected less by the influx of newcomers than by the sudden hemorrhage of a Greek bourgeoisie.

    Filling that void became a crucial event in the shaping of modern Turkey. If Greeks were the first of the sultan's subjects to successfully rebel against Ottoman rule in 1821, the Turks were the last. Lausanne was recognition of -- what the Turks call their War of Liberation -- that bid to create their own nation state from the heterogeneity of empire.

    The exchange of populations is today remembered as an historical necessity by the descendants of both parties to the conflict. It was not totally heartless -- there were attempts to allocate to the refugees property equivalent to that they had left behind. Greece threw itself on the mercy of the international community, drew attention to the desperate plight of refugees and in an early model of development finance, raised an international bond issue on the productive potential of the new immigrants.

    The Turks, in contrast, reveled in Lausanne as an opportunity to exclude the Western allies, who in the previous, now voided, Treaty of Sevres had wanted to emasculate their emerging state. They dealt with the problem of resettlement themselves.

    "Twice a Stranger" is, of course, an attempt to remember. It is a history, an analysis of history's impact on present politics but also an endeavor to bring center stage the anonymous figurants whose fate was dictated by their political betters. Clark has collected the stories of remaining representatives of the generation of ordinary people, Greek and Turk, whose lives were uprooted. There is little sensation in these accounts. Clark is speaking to the survivors of an event that took place over 60 years ago and he is gently respectful of those he interviews, careful not to cross the line between understanding the past and using history to attribute blame.

    "We were living in the mountains. We were being killed and we killed," he quotes one Greek who fled from the Black Sea, later to find his sister adopted by a Turkish family.

    It is an approach, however, that allows him to capture in the manner of a patient wildlife photographer, that rare moment when an individual's own recollection is painfully at odds with official history. Most of those he talks to have been taught to accept the received wisdom that their resettlement was for the best. Yet a trip in their final years to their birthplace or a sudden knock from an elderly stranger from across the sea who recognized the front door as the one they shut behind them all those years ago, suddenly yields a different set of truths. It is a world of loyalties and empathies more complex than the signatories of Lausanne could concede.

    There are so many conflicts that still burn in the Balkans, in the Caucasus, in Africa and the Middle East. A European audience, reared on the psychoanalytic method or the logic of the confessional, wants to believe in the causal relation between truth and reconciliation, historical honesty and the process of repair. It is only when nations face up to their past that the war can end, is something one senses Clark would like to believe. But he remains troubled by the ghost of Lausanne, hinting that things may work the other way around and that it is only when the war is truly over, we can begin to look back.
     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    ‘Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey’ -- By Bruce Clark, Published by Granta Books


    Armenians, churches, schools and a graveyard in historical Halicioglu district
    March 24, 2007
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    The historical Nersesyan school was located at the Halicioglu neighborhood along with many other Armenian schools and churches. It shared the same destiny as all the other schools and the church in the district.

    In 1974, it was expropriated and demolished to build a highway. The church and the schools have interesting histories. The former headmaster of Nersesyan, the 88-year-old Sarkis Badelyan told the Turkish Daily News about the historical neighborhood, the school and the church.

    Istanbul has a rich history. Since the end of the 17th century, with its population of 800,000 then, Istanbul has outpaced cities like London and Paris and has become the biggest city center of the Middle East and Europe.

    The 18th century is known to be the period during which the Ottoman Empire, and in particular Istanbul, opened up to the West. The majestic churches and mosques built on hills overlooking the Golden Horn have substantially changed the appearance of the city. Upon Fatih Sultan Mehmet's request, Armenians are brought from Bursa to Istanbul and they are settled in the most central and beautiful regions of the city.

    Armenians are present in many fields of Ottoman life, from craftsmanship to artisanship to politics.

    Neighborhoods such as Samatya, Topkapi, Kumkapi, Edirnekapi and Balat became the new residences of the Armenians. The Armenian Patriarchy was opened and, thereby, Fatih Sultan Mehmet went down in history as the first Muslim ruler to establish a spiritual leadership for his non-Muslim subjects. Flexibility about religious issues became the core of Istanbul's increasing ethnic mosaic.

    The first church to be founded in the Halicioglu neighborhood, where Armenians lived in great concentrations, was the Surp Isdepannos Church. It was built in 1633 and was renovated in 1829 by Sultan Mahmud's order and a story was added.

    Following this, the Nersesyan School was built in 1836, succeeded by the Kalfayan Girls' Orphanage in 1865, and Sahnazaryan Boys' School in 1866. The still operative Halicioglu Armenian Graveyard dates back to the 17th century. The historical graveyard accommodates the graves of many names that have served in administrative offices during the Ottoman Empire.

    The highway, apartments and shanty houses are located in the place of all the above buildings, save for the Sahnazaryan Boys' School. The Sahnazaryan Boys' School, which used to instruct both in Latin and in Armenian, has closed its doors a long time ago…

    The church and the schools were expropriated for the highway:
    Sarkis Badelyan says that transportation to Halicioglu, located in between Sütlüce and Hasköy, used to be handled by ferries and row boats. He mentions that there was a small ferry port back then.

    The above-mentioned Armenian schools and the church were located on the Çiksalin Hill of the neighborhood. Explaining that the Nersesyan School and the Surp Isdepannos church were under occupation during the war, Badelyan says the Armenian population in the district has decreased in time.

    Saying that the school was built in 1836 by Migirdiç Amira, Badelyan adds French and Italian were taught in the school. He explains that it was renovated in 1926 by Kalust Gülbenkyan and that nearly 120 students were boarded at the school.
     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    The school became the shelter for poor orphans from Anatolia. Badelyan says such prominent names of the Istanbul Armenian literary circles as Yegiya Demircibasyan, Minas Çeraz and Reteos Berberyan.

    A passion becoming a Haute Couture brand
    March 24, 2007
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    For some, shoes are the last touch or just an accessory, and for some they're a passion. In fact, they can even embellish dreams. Ipek Yilmaz is one of those, who see shoes as a passion. Yilmaz' dream from childhood was to be a shoe designer. Now she has her own store in Nisantasi called NR.39. However, this is not only her store, it's also her workshop, her office and her house. Yilmaz went into the textile sector at an early age, adding that her father was a real entrepreneur and entered the textile sector with a small amount of money.

    She started selling polar jackets on markets with her brother in 1996. The Yilmaz siblings' luck went well for three years, increasing sales by selling different style polar jackets and summer clothes.

    ?Selling in the marketplace was good work,? said Yilmaz, adding that during those years people did not use credit cards so much but cash. They improved themselves over time and attended the Women's Clothing Fair that was held in Düsseldorf, Germany. Yilmaz said that they applied to the fair themselves and had had to cut short her education at the Mimar Sinan University to attend the fair. They went to Germany for three consecutive seasons and erected their stands among more famous brands. Yilmaz also connects their luck to the good communication they had with the sales manager of the fair. However, their last time at the fair ended in disappointment. They sold goods to a firm in Germany but couldn't receive their money.

    Yilmaz, who wanted to be a shoe designer, took a little break after this adventure and decided what she wanted to do. Her next adventure began in America.

    For six months, the designer worked in a gas station and saved money, and in 2000 she prepared all her papers to study shoe designing in the famous Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. However, while her brother, with whom she started together from the beginning, was planning to set up a business there, they decided to return to their country.

    However, her shoe passion never lessened, even though she couldn't study in America. She possibly got even more ambitious and spent hours on the Internet looking for a course. In the end, she started going to the shoe designing course that KOSKEB founded in cooperation with the European Union at Mimar Sinan University. Yilmaz, being one of the first to join the course, said that the education was not as good as she had expected. ?Still, I was very hungry for that knowledge, and since I had always dealt with trade before, I had to calculate beforehand what was going to happen to me," adding that the education she had was limited to technology. According to her, the limitation of technology was because the graduates of the departments could not own machines worth of $100,000.

    After her education, the designer worked at Inci, one of the fastest developing shoe brands in Turkey, where she learned a lot, however, because it was a corporate body she thought that the designers were being restrained and left after a few years. "There were three people working in the design office and this was a great step for me," said Yilmaz. There is a section called the stamp pad in shoe designing like the molding section for textiles. She added that the number of designers in Turkey who can work a stamp pad is not many and claims that the ones in the sector are a little conservative. Yilmaz said the wages of stamp pad operators are very high and noted that she spent her knowledge and practice of this with a very good master.

    Yilmaz said that she found the master easily due to her connections at the shoe school and her good drawing skills was good for the brand, which the master was working for. ?At the end of this six month period, it was my last education to create my own brand, in other words, to make true what I had been dreaming of since my childhood,? said the shoe designer, whose aim is to make special shoes, set the prices well, and to do this in a good place.

    Yilmaz, not giving up on her dreams, also made her brother to go to a shoe designing course.

    Yilmaz, looking for a place in the back streets of Taksim for a boutique she wanted to open, found an old Armenian house in Nisantasi. She rented the four-storey building built in 1910 from the Armenian Foundation. An Armenian family lived in the mud-brick house before Yilmaz for about 45 years. The boutique is also her workshop, store, office and her house. She called it after the building's number, NR.39.

    The reason why Yilmaz chose the street is: "For me, what was important was the place; also, shops in between stores are more alluring. You go in thinking you have discovered something."

    Yilmaz usually follows fashion from the Internet and buys special magazines such as Vogue and Official to follow shoe fashion. Saying that once she goes into business, she can see what kind of models the next season will be, adding that she likes Italians shoe models the most. However, underlining that more special models can be found in boutiques in France, she follows the shoes of the brand Cloe the most. It took her three months to prepare for her spring collection. Yilmaz works with two masters.

    "My current aim is to sell the shoes we manufacture in our store." She makes shoes that she likes herself and only makes at most two pairs of one the same shoe.

    Yilmaz prepares each shoe as if preparing it for herself and for her what's important is that the shoes are sold at reasonable prices.

    The handmade shoes she makes are very soft; the extra pads are the formula. She never thought of making men's shoes. Her only thought is to make NR.39 a brand.

    Controversy over Akdamar overshadows opening ceremony
    March 24, 2007
    Barçin Yinanç
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    The restoration of the ancient Armenian Akdamar Church, which also aimed to promote the rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, is far from reaching this goal. On the contrary, the controversy over the name and the status of the church risks overshadowing the opening ceremony due on Mar. 29.

    The church, considered by experts as one of the finest surviving monuments of medieval Armenian architecture, will again open its doors after a $1.5 million restoration ordered and paid for by Turkey. The Turkish government invited officials from Armenia as well as representatives of the Armenian diaspora, mainly from the United States and Europe, for the opening ceremony. Representatives of the Armenian diaspora seem reticent to the idea of attending the ceremony; which is seen as window dressing effort vis-à-vis Armenians claims of genocide. The U.S. Congress is set to vote soon on a resolution calling for official recognition of World War I era killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Turkey's efforts to block the decision may prove unsuccessful this time, since experts believe the House of Representatives is very likely to endorse the resolution before April 24, the commemoration date for the Armenians.

    Harut Sassounian, the editor of California Courier, a weekly newspaper based out of Los Angeles, called on Armenians not to participate in the ceremony. Claming that Turkey has restored the church for propaganda purposes, “why should any Armenian let himself or herself be used by the Turkish authorities for their anti-Armenian purposes, especially in its efforts against the recognition of Armenian genocide,” asks Sassounian, in his article published on March 22.

    Besides the political dimension, the controversy over the name and the status of the church seems to have created resentment within the Armenian diaspora, including the Armenian community in Turkey. The Turkish state officially calls the church, situated on a small island in the middle of Lake Van in Eastern Turkey, Akdamar. Armenians call it Akhtamar. It derives from Aghh (as an exclamation) and Tamar, a young princess who has become a legendary figure in the Armenian culture for her tragic love story.

    Patriarch Mesrop Mutafian, the head of the Turkish Patriarchate of the Armenian Church asked the Turkish authorities to call the church by its original name. His warnings that the Armenian diaspora would object to calling the church as Akdamar was discarded, learned the Turkish Daily News. “The name of the church is Akhtamar and this is how it should be called,” said Verkin Kasapoglu Arioba, executive director board member of the Historical Heritage Protection Foundation of Turkey, over a telephone interview with the TDN.

    Built by Architect Bishop Manuel in 915-921 and dedicated to the "Holy Cross," the church was erected during the reign of King Gagik I of Vaspurakan. The unique building is considered a benchmark for scholars in the study of the development of Armenian architecture. The church was abandoned in the 19th century, leaving it to the inevitable ravages of time. In 2005 the Turkish Tourism and Culture Ministry decided to renovate it. The Historical Protection Foundation Heritage of Turkey closely observed the renovation work, as well as the Patriarchate in Istanbul. The preliminary consolidation study was prepared by the foundation in 2000, said Arioba. According to Arioba, who is a Turkish Armenian, two experts from Armenia contributed to the study. The local contractor, worked according to international standards in conjunction with an advisory architect appointed by the patriarch.

    The fact that the church will be opened as a museum also seems to have created a reaction from the Armenian diaspora. There is also controversy over whether to place a cross. Renovation of the church will only be completed when a cross is placed, noted Armenian Deputy Minister of Culture and Youth Affairs Gagik Gyurjan as quoted as saying by the Armenpress.

    Armenians, churches, schools and a graveyard in historical Halicioglu district
    March 24, 2007
    The historical Nersesyan school was located at the Halicioglu neighborhood along with many other Armenian schools and churches. It shared the same destiny as all the other schools and the church in the district. In 1974, it was expropriated and demolished to build a highway. The church and the schools have interesting histories. The former headmaster of Nersesyan school, the 88-year-old Sarkis Badelyan told the Turkish Daily News about the historical neighborhood, the school and the church. He says "Neighborhoods such as Samatya, Topkapi, Kumkapi, Edirnekapi and Balat became the new residences of the Armenians. Flexibility about religious issues became the core of Istanbul's increasing ethnic mosaic."

    Ankara fears that Turkey will stop existing as a State as soon as it recognizes the Genocide
    Turkey has unleashed a fierce war against the Genocide recognition in all directions, starting with State Department and ending with congressmen.
    Presently Turkey is going through the hardest times in its modern history. Even in its worst nightmare Turkey wouldn't think that the Resolution about the Armenian Genocide would be proposed to the US Congress, and moreover, that there would be a possibility for this Resolution to pass. The struggle against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is more fierce than ever and denying the Armenian Genocide has become Turkey's first prerequisite.

    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Ankara is taking all measures against Genocide recognition. In the given situation the Jewish lobby, which enjoys rather heavy weight in the USA, also has its significant role in the matter. Besides political and military-strategic factors there are also financial factors, which sometimes work even more efficiently in the USA than the others. For instance, because of the probable adoption of the Resolution N 106 the military-industrial complex of the USA, which by the way is the initiator of the Iraqi War, will lose about $15 billion. This is the sum the USA hopes to sell Turkey the armament for, to be used in `re-equipment of the army and struggle against the Kurdish radicals in the north of Iraq.' Nobody knows how much the closing of `Incirlik' will cost, but this is already the political aspect of the issue.

    The Turks themselves do not regret any money which can somehow support the denial of the Armenian Genocide. According to some sources Turkey spends $1 billion per year on anti-Genocide propaganda. Only $10 million per year is spent on the USA and Canada. It's obvious that this is the money spent officially, one may only guess the sum of the money spent unofficially, and the matter is not in bribery only, which is considered a penal act in the USA. Everything is much easier; Turkey buys armament, although it might be bought from other countries too, for instance Russia, or France, though after the law on the denial of the Armenian Genocide was adopted there, it will be rather difficult for Turkey itself to get armament in France.

    During the latest meeting of the diplomatic officials, accredited in different countries, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gyul warned the Ambassadors that in case the Resolution is passed in the USA or in other countries, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will consider that the Ambassadors weren't able to accomplish their mission. In the ceremony to the memory of the death of the Turkish diplomats abroad, Gyul once again announced that they had become `victims of the Armenian terrorists.' However, the case with `the Armenian terrorism' doesn't work out any more. The whole world already knows that the assassinations of the Turkish diplomats pursued one main aim only, which was achieved - the world learned about the 1st Genocide of the XX century.

    Turkey is not alone in the denial of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and enjoys strong support from Azerbaijan, which realizes very well that it doesn't and in the nearest future will not have any other alley than Turkey.

    How far will Turkey go in this matter and whether or not Turkey will be able to prove that there was no Armenian Genocide, is just a matter of time and money. This is at least what Ankara thinks. In fact everything is much more complicated. Modern Turkish Republic itself is the offspring of the Genocide just like the Armenian Diaspora is. According to ARF `Dashnaktsutiun', Ankara is well aware of the fact that if the Armenian, as well as the Greek and Assyrian Genocides are recognized, Turkey will stop existing as a State. Perhaps this is the reason of Ankara's sudden unwillingness to change the 301st Article in the Turkish Criminal Code, which is the only method to keep the Turkish scientists and intellectuals like Taner Akçam and Orhan Pamuk under control.

    In 1946 Turkey was obliged to return the Armenian provinces
    The Treaty of Moscow of 1921 was signed between Turkey and Soviet Russia for a-25-year term.
    17.03.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net

    On March 16, 1921 a treaty signed between Soviet Russia and Turkey stipulated the seizure of three Armenian provinces; Kars, Nakhichevan and Surmalu, in favor of Turkey and Azerbaijan. The preamble of the treaty states, `In the present Treaty by the term Turkey territories included in the National Turkish Pact of January 28, 1336 (1920), developed and proclaimed by the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies in Constantinople and communicated to the press and all States are understood.'

    In the fall of 1921 on the bases of the Treaty of Moscow the quadripartite Treaty of Kars, which became the edited version of the Treaty of Moscow, was signed between Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Signing of the Treaty of Kars is quite logical also because the Treaty of Moscow was signed on behalf of Russia and formally didn't relate to the Transcaucasian countries yet. In 1921 the `sovietization' of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan finished but it was still very unsteady for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to entrust these republics to sign international, moreover such significant treaties on their own. According to the second article of the Treaty Kars and Surmalu provinces of Armenia, together with the Mount Ararat passed to Turkey, and Nakhichevan passed to Azerbaijan as its protectorate. Thus at the expense of Armenia Turkey's, Azerbaijani's and Georgia's appetites were satisfied.

    It is worth mentioning, that the third article of the Treaty speaks about belonging of Nakhichevan and is closed with the following phrase; `with no right to be passed to a third party', where by `the third party' Iran is understood. However in the Treaty of Kars this phrase was omitted. By the fall of 1921 Iran didn't conceal any more its irritation at the formation of a republic called `Azerbaijan', which claimed to unification with an Iranian Turkish-speaking province of the same name and to establishing a united `Soviet Azerbaijan' with a population of almost 20 million people.

    But the most interesting thing is that according to many archive materials the Treaty was signed for a-25-year term. In 1925 the RSFSR Ambassador to Turkey Vinogradov insisted on denunciation of the Russian-Turkish Treaty of 1921 in his official note, announcing that Russia is willing to realize it in one-sided order. At the same time, according to Turkish sources, Ambassador Vinogradov in his oral conversation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains, `We can't wait 25 years and thus we signed the Russian-Turkish Treaty because at that time we were weak. Now we are strong and we insist on reestablishment of the Armenian borders'. One of the well-known Turkish statesmen of those times, Qemal Ataturk's successor Ismet Inenu was quick in his response; `The new country needs to keep to its international responsibilities and in 25 years' term Turkey will of course return these territories. In this way the belonging of the three Armenian provinces legally in Turkey's and Azerbaijan's favor since March 16, 1946 is a historical nonsense.

    Nevertheless after 1921 the first two-sided official document between USSR and Turkey announcing, that the parties do not have any mutual territorial claims is the international treaty, signed in August 1978 during the official visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Byulent Edjevit to Moscow.

    There is one more important article in the treaty, which for some unknown reasons doesn't get any attention. `To provide the opening of the Channels and the freedom for passing of mercantile ships for all nations,' states one of the articles. The Bosporus and Dardanelle Channels have always been of great significance for the Turkish home policy, and not to make use of them would be senseless, particularly regarding the Armenian Question. If taken into consideration that the conditions stipulated by the above mentioned article are rather favorable for Russia too, signing such treaties is not excluded in future either.

    Today's Zaman, Turkey
    March 24 2007

     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    Armenian prime minister dies of heart failure
    The Associated Press / Yerevan
    26 March 2007

    Prime Minister Andranik Margarian died Sunday of heart failure, government spokeswoman Meri Arutunian said. He was 55.

    Margarian had been prime minister since May 2000. He was appointed in a politically tense period that followed the October 1999 armed attack on parliament that killed eight politicians including Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian.

    The assassinated premier was first replaced by his brother, Aram, but President Robert Kocharian fired him and appointed Margarian amid rising discontent over Armenia's economic troubles.

    Under the Armenian political system, the prime minister has mostly executive powers and is a much less powerful figure than the president.

    Margarian, educated as a computer specialist, became active in opposition to the Soviet Union in the 1970s and was imprisoned for two years in that decade for espousing Armenian independence, according to his official biography.

    Margarian is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son.

    Ankara concerned over EU plans for Genocide legislation
    A draft resolution drawn up by European Union term president Germany to introduce punishment for denial of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity has raised concerns in Ankara, which fears it could be used to silence debate about Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

    The draft legislation was an issue in Justice Minister Cemil Çiçek's talks in Berlin last week and is expected to be debated at a Cabinet meeting today. Çiçek will brief members of the government in detail concerning possible unfavorable results of the resolution for Turkey if it is eventually adopted. Germany, which took the helm of the EU presidency as of Jan. 1, has been working on the draft since the end of last year.The draft, which has been supported by the Armenian lobby, would bring up to three years of imprisonment for those who deny "genocides and war crimes committed against humanity." Çiçek, who held talks in Germany last week, discussed the issue with his counterpart, Brigitte Zypries, and expressed Ankara's concerns over the draft.

    According to the draft, crimes of racism, xenophobia and denial of genocide will be included in the joint legislation, which is binding for all member countries. If the draft is adopted, any decision by a national court or a national parliament of an EU member country which would make it a crime to deny that Armenians were victims of "genocide" at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, would open the way for imprisonment for dismissing the genocide charges in other EU member countries.

    Germany's goal is taking the draft on agenda of a meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Council before July 1 when it hands over the EU presidency to Portugal. In order to have the draft adopted as part of EU legislation, EU members need to reach a consensus. There is already an opposition to the draft within the EU. Britain, Italy and Denmark are against the adoption of the draft, arguing that "it will limit freedom of expression."

    Turkey categorically denies charges that Armenians were subject to genocide during World War I, and says that there were deaths on both sides after Armenians took up arms and revolted against the Ottoman Empire. The parliaments of a number of countries have endorsed resolutions recognizing the alleged genocide, causing serious deterioration in ties with Turkey.

    The French National Assembly infuriated Turkey last October, by backing a bill making it a crime to deny that Armenians were victims of "genocide" at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, though it is unlikely to become a law due to opposition from the Senate and President Jacques Chirac. Ankara said the legislation would strike a heavy blow to Turkish-French ties and also accused France, one of the EU's founding countries and which is known for championing liberties, of staining freedom of expression with the bill it adopted. Slamming the bill, the Turkish Parliament then released a joint declaration, signed by all parties in Parliament, and said the bill was motivated by calculations of domestic political gain. They said the bill would also harm prospects for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. Turkey also illustrated how seriously it takes the issue when it said it would suspend military operations with France after the vote.

    Germany's move as the EU term president comes at a time when the public opinion in Turkey is highly concerned over passing of a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide by the US Congress as the April 24, anniversary of the alleged genocide approaches closer.

    Earlier this month, a senior US State Department official warned Congress against passing the resolution, saying the move could result in Turkey closing the Incirlik air base that is used by the US military. Daniel Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe that Turkish officials have informed the US that approval of the resolution could lead to a shutdown of the base or a restriction on US over-flight privileges granted by Turkey. He also said the US has been informed that Ankara would respond with "extreme emotion" if the Armenian resolution were approved. He added that such a step would undercut those voices in Turkey which are calling for a "truthful exploration of these events in pursuit of Turkey's reconciliation with its own past and with Armenia."

    Süleyman Kurt, Murat Aydin Ankara

    Turkish-Russian rapprochement: reality or fiction?
    OMER TASPINAR o.taspinar@todayszaman.com
    Is Turkey’s honeymoon with Russia over? The short answer is “not yet.” This question rightly assumes that there was indeed a major rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow. Understandably, many Western analysts fail to see the logic behind a Turco-Russian coupling. After all, Turkey and Russia are old rivals, with long histories of war, animosity and strategic divergence. But historic rivalry is not eternal destiny. In addition to growing energy deals, trade volume and mass tourism, the last few years witnessed the most crucial factor creating a common ground between Ankara and Moscow: frustration with Washington.

    Ankara’s troubles with Washington are well known but worth repeating since they give Russia a positive image. Turkey’s most pressing concern is the Kurdish question in Iraq. The fact that the Kurds are now America’s best friends, and more importantly, the fact that the PKK has found a safe haven in northern Iraq is proving too much to digest for even the most pro-Western circles in Turkey. Washington’s inaction exacerbates Turkey’s conspiracy-prone political environment. As a result, everyone in Turkey believes a Kurdish state in northern Iraq is around the corner -- courtesy of the American invasion.

    In addition to the Kurdish issue, Turkey’s anti-Americanism is compounded by another identity problem: radical secularism. America’s clumsy attempts to promote Turkey as a “model” or more recently as a “source of inspiration” in the Islamic world have disastrously backfired. The perception that America is supporting “moderate Islam” in Turkey deeply alienates the staunchly secularist Kemalist elite. Already alarmed about AK party’s so-called “hidden agenda” of Islamicization, the Kemalists have become the most anti-American circle in Turkey, closely followed by anti-Kurdish nationalists. The implications for Washington are bleak. By alienating the Kemalists and Turkish nationalists at the same time, America has basically “lost” most of Turkey.

    But why should such Turkish frustration create a Turkish-Russian rapprochement? Mainly because Russia is now equally frustrated with America. Moscow has its own axe to grind with Washington because of its loss of influence in its’ “near abroad.” In that sense, Turkey’s troubles with Washington coincide with longer-term Russian disgruntlement over American encroachment in Eastern Europe, the Caucuses and Central Asia. Turkey and Russia’s concerns about Iran, Iraq and Syria also seem to converge. Both countries see in Iraq a chaos that has damaged their national interests -- Turkey more profoundly, but Russia as well, given its Iraqi oil contracts. In Iran, Turkey’s interests in heading off the PKK and the potential emergence of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq complement Russia’s interests in investing in the Iranian civilian nuclear power and nurturing an anti-American ally. In Syria, Turkey sees a platform against a potential Kurdish state, while Russia is looking to rebuild relations with an old Soviet-era friend.

    More important than their common interests in the Middle East, is Ankara and Moscow’s new agreement about their respective minority problems. Unlike during the 1990s, Turkey and Russia now support each other’s positions on Chechnya and the Kurds -- expressing similar fears of terrorism and separatism. This is hardly surprising. Russia and Turkey are both status-quo oriented powers. They put a high premium on stability in their neighborhood. They share an aversion towards potentially chaotic regime change and see the Bush Administration’s “freedom and democracy” agenda as a hegemonic and destabilizing policy that will damage their national interests on their southern tiers. Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that Putin’s Munich speech denouncing American unilateralism was put on the Turkish General Staff’s official website.

    Despite all these factors, it is still extremely premature to speak of a “strategic convergence” between Turkey and Russia. What we have is tactical flirtations born out of frustration with America. This is hardly a regional strategic realignment. After all, Moscow has done absolutely nothing to help Turkey vis-à-vis Cyprus, Armenia, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. And Moscow’s recent decision to go ahead with the Burgaz-Alexandroupolis bypass oil pipeline -- a project that favors Bulgaria and Greece at the expense of the Samsun-Ceyhan option -- clearly illustrates the realistic limits to Turkish-Russian relations, even in the field of energy. History may not be destiny. But it still matters in shaping national interests.

    Reader's Comment

    Item 7 - Springtime in Caucasus:
    Thanks to Vural Cengiz for his very concise letter to Washington Post on March 23rd, where he stressed the importance of U.S.A. ‘s national interest in maintaining the alliance with Turkey. He touched a very important point. For Armenian-Americans, they are Armenian first, Americans second. For other ethnicities, they remember their taking an oath to safeguard the interests of USA first. I would disagree with Mr. Cengiz, in one important point: Frankly, in my evaluation truth and being just is more durable compared to instant benefits.

    Item 11- Controversy over Akdamar Church:
    Harut Sassonian’s article of March 22nd and antagonism has no limits and would grab and invert any opportunity. I visited the Akdamar church a few years ago, the whole tiny island and I am pleased that among too many other priorities, Akdamar was not only saved from further destruction but it has been restored… How well, I intend to see it again some time later with same Armenian friends. I think that propagandas as regards whether it must have a large cross (which I think that it never had it in stone - since otherwise the parts would have been there) or should be opened as a church or museum, it is saddening to see manipulation of divinity for bigotry, instead for humanity! These are “world heritages” and the taxpayer’s money of the poor Turkey has been spent on this monument, belonging now, not to Armenians, nor to Turks but to “all humans, regardless of their faith”. There are plenty of Armenian churches available for prayer in Turkey. I hear there is only one mosque left in Yerevan, with no one to go in! Do people need to make gestures, for God to see ? I wish persons like Harut, before exploding with their articles every day with grudge, would come and visit Ani on the border line with Armenia, and see how much resonance and shocks, the stone quarry in Armenia, just (less than half a mile) opposite Ani is causing everyday with dynamite blows ! To the best of my knowledge, Armenia is almost all mountains and rocks everywhere ? The Ani ruins are being warped not only by the years, earthquakes, weather but also by dynamite shocks. (For those who have not seen Ani yet, in the middle of various stone churches, there is the ruins of a mosque with minaret in the same style or architecture, which must be more than 600 years old, sharing the same fate. )

    We will see whether this goodwill gesture, will pacify frictions a bit or increase ! After all, even the street walks for almost 90% of Turks out of 100.000 persons said marched with Hrant Dink’s funeral in sincere disapproval of this shameful murder, has not helped a bit ! All of the sudden, for the first time of a murder by a Turk against an innocent Armenian, became the most important issue and entered even HS 106! Gentlemen, who killed over 40 innocent Turkish diplomats in more than 200 acts of terrorism ? As a thumb rule, Turks in general are either absent minded or lazy thinkers; they forget bad memories too soon ! I still think that life must continue with new hopes and not old grudges! If Mesrob Mutafyan will be present at the opening of Akdamar Church, I am sure he will speak intelligently and compassionately… He always does, and for that reason is not liked by ANCA or Dashnaks !

    Best regards to all

    Sukru S. Aya

    Eastern And Western Youths Engage In Fruitful Dialogue
    March 31, 2007
    ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
    More than 200 youths from different eastern and western countries are in Istanbul to engage in inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, with the aim of recognizing diversity as richness, not a source of friction. The Inter-Religious and Intercultural Dialogue in Youth Work Symposium continued on Friday with seminars and workshops at the Grand Cevahir Hotel in Istanbul.

    "I know how it feels to be a stranger," says Koffi Gbonougbe from Togo, who lives in Switzerland and works with an organization there called “A New Old.”

    "I am a refugee and I know the cultural differences between two countries. I know you have to fight to exist in a different culture."

    The symposium began on March 28, with high-level Turkish officials such as Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, Youth and Sports General Director Mehmet Ali Atalay and ministerial delegations from several European countries

    Participants unanimously agreed that the cultural environment they live in varies and broadens day-by-day, and cultural diversity not only needs protection, but it is also an economic, social and political asset that needs to be developed. It is important to make people who normally would not interact with each other meet and create a common ground of understanding.

    The symposium brought together more than 200 youths and their organizations with local, national and international authorities. The program aims at proposing ways through which inter-religious and intercultural dialogue can be further sustained, with the help of the “All Different, All Equal” European Youth campaign, as well as other relevant initiatives.

    The event, organized by COE, Directorate General of Youth and Sports of Republic of Turkey and to which the ICYF-DC, the European Youth Forum (YFJ) are the major partners, is part of the “All Different, All Equal” campaign. The campaign was initiated by the COE and run by young people in 49 countries who belong to its cultural convention, including the 46 member states and also Belarus, the Holy See and Montenegro.

    Diversity, participation and human rights are the three mainstays of the campaign. It aims to mobilize young people behind the message that all people have the right to be themselves and be treated with fairness. The campaign aims to encourage youths to implement their own projects for themselves. "The symposium is a working mechanism now," said Manager of the Campaign to COF, Michael Raphael said the outcome will become a “road map for the youth.”

    The discussions of all working groups will be drafted as the “Istanbul Youth Declaration” and this declaration is planned to be adopted at the final plenary.

    Young people from different backgrounds have brought various topics such as 'Religion and Human Rights,' 'Racism and Discrimination,' 'Islamophobia,' and 'Is Europe ready for Multiculturality?' into group discussions. In many of these topics they gave lectures together with notable academics, social activists and high level decision makers, who represent governments or inter-governmental organizations.

    Even if participants come from different backgrounds, they have similar purposes. Like the Moroccan actress Knou Loud, who entered the conference hall Thursday singing an Arabic song about love and peace. Loud said she participated in the conference to tell the story of Arabic or Muslim women, and also to listen to the stories of others.

    "This is a great opportunity. We have to stop just talking and talking. We have to start acting, and with sustainable projects for peace and inter-faith," she said.

    Istanbul ‘the right spot':
    Since the European Union membership negotiations have been the subject of intensive debate in Turkey, the country is often high on the world agenda. Meanwhile, ruling the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has attempted to undertake many other roles, such as being a mediator for problems in the Middle East.

    "This is the first time that Turkey has undertaken such important offices. There are groups, organizations, people, who had the chance to work together and communicate and interact for the first time,” the ICYF-DC Chief Representative to the U.N., Mehmet Çelebi underlined. “This is the first time such a big event is organized and it is in Istanbul. This promises hope and we are proud to host such an important gathering."

    Istanbul is a multicultural city itself therefore participants thought it has a deep meaning to hold such a meeting here. As Saskia Law from the Bahai Community of Germany expressed: "Every time it is the members of governments or high level bureaucrats who come together. This time the youth of different backgrounds meet in Istanbul. A meeting for interaction, in the heart of multiculturalism."

    The atmosphere of the symposium made evident that in essence, none of the intergovernmental conflicts affected the relations of the youth. Muslims and Christians of various countries, together with Armenians, Jews and Arabs, discussed how to act together for the future. Aware that they were the decision makers of the future, they felt the need to understand each other better.

    Alliance of civilizations:
    "The topic of this gathering is the existing problems of our world. The lack of understanding and knowledge by reason of lack of communication and interaction. If we need to reach at a common ground of understanding, we need awareness,” said the Representative of the Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia, Emma Allakhverdyan, “And awareness comes with dialogue. This event will carry us one step forward." Allakhverdyan also joked about her family name, which sounds like Turkish.

    The 12 workshop groups focused on subjects such as armed conflicts, intercultural youth work for conflict transformation, migration, racism and discrimination, religion and human rights. The latter was also one of the main topics of the symposium given by Dr. Nazila Ghanea, the international human rights lecturer at the University of Oxford

    One workshop was on initiating a youth work for The Alliance of Civilizations, which Secretary General of The ICYF-DC Elshad Iskandarov and senior advisor to the Alliance of Civilizations, Nadia Romani chaired. The initiative was started by the ICYF-DC in partnership with the U.N., COE, ISESCO and Heydar Aliyev Foundation.

    Iskandarov specified the need for such a working group to exist not only in Islamic countries but also in European countries. According to Iskandarov, this kind of organization can assume crucial roles in times of crisis. "Think of the Danish cartoon crisis,” he continued. “When a paper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb as his turban, and how effective was the Danish Youth Organization to stand against it, whereas the authorities thought it was simply freedom of expression.” The symposium was to end on Saturday by the participation of Sheikha Mouzah bin Nasser Al-Missned, a member of the U.N. high-level group for the Alliance of Civilizations and chairperson to Qatar Foundation for Education.

    A Bird's Eye View
    March 31, 2007
    Advena Avis
    Trying to be optimistic.
    Strange things are happening in this beautiful country of ours that leaves us with mixed feelings.

    First of all we read in the TDN of March 21, that the prime ministers of Turkey and Spain had a telephone conversation to discuss the steps to move forward with the Alliance of Civilizations Action Plan and they agreed that the former president of Portugal, the Jorge Sampaio man, should be assigned as the high representative for the initiative. Since the two prime ministers agreed to appoint a high representative, this means that they have no time to personally deal with this so crucial for the humanity issue, and consequently someone else must do the work for them. We birds also believe that this dialogue is too important to be conducted by telephone conversations. Anyhow since we are usually optimistic in our outlook, we sincerely hope that the newly appointed high representative, from his lofty heights, will be able to do fantastic work, with practical results, that will contribute to the reconciliation of humanity. And we are confident that he will.

    We also read this funny story that was recently published in Cumhuriyet that the IGDAS gas company has assigned separate cashiers to receive the bills from male and female members of your species. In other words male humans go to one cashier and female humans to another. And we thought that you humans only separated the two sexes of your species for WC reasons. We truly hope that this information is not true, because if it is then it will be quite difficult to convince the EU about your seriousness in trying to join it.

    Another issue that is perplexing us is the inauguration of the Akdamar Church, located next to Lake Van. This church is an ancient ruined Armenian Church that was recently restored by the Turkish human authorities. The official inauguration ceremonies will have already taken place by the time this column is published and we sincerely hope that it will have had the widest possible participation of humans; that should also include the leaders of the Armenian churches and humans from Armenia and from other countries as well. But there were some problems. We birds learned that the invitation sent to the guests mentioned the inauguration of a museum and not of a church. Permission to place a cross that had existed on top of the church was not given. Also permission to perform religious services once a year was not given. We truly hope that these issues will have been solved by March 29, the date of the inauguration ceremonies, and we are confident that they will have been crowned by success and witnessed by many humans invited from all parts of the world.

    The Bush man humans recently announced plans for a program that would replace all U.S. nuclear warheads. This plan, we must observe, contravenes the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which anticipates elimination of nuclear weapons. Consequently if the Bush man humans proceed with this plan, then presumably Russia and China will follow, thus leading to another nuclear race that will send all humanity back (1947) to the future. So why then the concern about Iran? It is indeed, so sad for us birds to see you humans, squander your financial and intellectual resources just to make this place a more dangerous place to live in, rather than investing in creating a planet of peace and prosperity. Why? Presumably because of greed so that some humans can make enormous financial profits from such an enterprise. We birds do hope that the U.S. Congress and Senate prevent the Bush man humans from committing another folly, a folly that may lead us to extinction.

    Ponder our thoughts, dear humans for the benefit of this poor planet of ours.

    The Trouble With Japanese Nationalism
    Francis Fukuyama*
    Barely half a year into his premiership, Japan’s Shinzo Abe is provoking anger across Asia and mixed feelings in his country’s key ally, the United States. But will the Bush administration use its influence to nudge Abe away from inflammatory behavior?

    Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, was a mold-breaking leader, reviving Japan’s economy, reforming the postal savings system, and smashing the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s faction system. But Koizumi also legitimized a new Japanese nationalism, antagonizing China and South Korea by his annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine. If anything, Abe is even more committed to building an assertive and unapologetic Japan.

    Anyone who believes that the Yasukuni controversy is an obscure historical matter that Chinese and Koreans use to badger Japan for political advantage has probably never spent much time there. The problem is not the 12 Class-A war criminals interred at the shrine; the real problem is the Yushukan military museum next door.

    Walking past the Mitsubishi Zero, tanks, and machine guns on display in the museum, one finds a history of the Pacific War that restores “the Truth of Modern Japanese History.” It follows the nationalist narrative: Japan, a victim of the European colonial powers, sought only to protect the rest of Asia from them. Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea, for example, is described as a “partnership”; one looks in vain for any account of the victims of Japanese militarism in Nanjing or Manila.

    One might be able to defend the museum as one viewpoint among many in a pluralist democracy. But there is no other museum in Japan that gives an alternative view of Japan’s twentieth-century history. Successive Japanese governments have hidden behind the Yushukan museum’s operation by a private religious organization to deny responsibility for the views expressed there.

    That is an unconvincing stance. In fact, unlike Germany, Japan has never come to terms with its own responsibility for the Pacific War. Although socialist Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama officially apologized to China in 1995 for the war, Japan has never had a genuine internal debate over its degree of responsibility, and has never made a determined effort to propagate an alternative account to that of Yushukan.

    My exposure to the Japanese right came in the early 1990’s, when I was on a couple of panels in Japan with Watanabe Soichi, who was selected by my Japanese publisher (unbeknownst to me) to translate my book The End of History and the Last Man into Japanese. Watanabe, a professor at Sophia University, was a collaborator of Shintaro Ishihara, the nationalist politician who wrote The Japan That Can Say No and is now the governor of Tokyo.

    In the course of a couple of encounters, I heard him explain in front of large public audiences how the people of Manchuria had tears in their eyes when the occupying Kwantung Army left China, so grateful were they to Japan. According to Watanabe, the Pacific War boiled down to race, as the US was determined to keep a non-white people down. Watanabe is thus the equivalent of a Holocaust denier, but, unlike his German counterparts, he easily draws large and sympathetic audiences. (I am regularly sent books by Japanese writers that “explain” how the Nanjing Massacre was a big fraud.)

    Moreover, there have been several disturbing recent incidents in which physical intimidation has been used by nationalists against critics of Koizumi’s Yasukuni visits, such as the firebombing of former prime ministerial candidate Kato Koichi’s home. (On the other hand, the publisher of the normally conservative Yomiuri Shimbun attacked Koizumi’s Yasukuni visits and published a fascinating series of articles on responsibility for the war.)

    This leaves the US in a difficult position. A number of American strategists are eager to ring China with a NATO-like defensive barrier, building outward from the US-Japan Security Treaty. Since the final days of the Cold War, the US has been pushing Japan to rearm, and has officially supported a proposed revision of Article 9 of the postwar constitution, which bans Japan from having a military or waging war.

    But America should be careful about what it wishes for. The legitimacy of the entire American military position in the Far East is built around the US exercising Japan’s sovereign function of self-defense. Japan’s unilateral revision of Article 9, viewed against the backdrop of its new nationalism, would isolate Japan from virtually the whole of Asia. Revising Article 9 has long been part of Abe’s agenda, but whether he pushes ahead with it will depend in large part on the kind of advice he gets from close friends in the US. President Bush was unwilling to say anything about Japan’s new nationalism to his “good friend Junichiro” out of gratitude for Japanese support in Iraq. Now that Japan has withdrawn its small contingent of troops, perhaps Bush will speak plainly to Abe.

    *Francis Fukuyama is Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and Chairman of The American Interest. © Project Syndicate / The American Interest, 2007


    In Struggle Against Genocide Recognition Turkey Limits Himself Only To Hollow Threats

    YEREVAN (YERKIR) - “The Turkish government is threatening to obstruct U.S. operations in Iraq should the Congress recognize the Armenian Genocide. But a careful look at this threat shows that it is hollow,” ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) Executive Director Aram Hamparian told PanARMENIAN.Net. He said, opponents of the Armenian Genocide Resolution are crying wolf once again. “General Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, stated on February 21, 2007, that, “I wouldn’t say we have to use Incirlik airbase to conduct operations in Iraq.”

    "Train wrecks" in U.S.-Turkey relations were loudly but falsely predicted before President Reagan’s 1981 public affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, the 1984 designation by the U.S. House of April 24th as a day for its remembrance, as well as before the amendments passed by the House in 1996 and 2004 restricting U.S. aid to Turkey based on its denial of this crime against humanity.

    Despite threats of retribution, Turkey has taken only token steps against the European Parliament, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Argentina, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and other states and international bodies that have recognized the Armenian Genocide. In fact, despite all its threats in 2001 against France’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, trade between France and Turkey grew 22% the following year, and has grown by 131% over the past five years,” Hamparian stressed.

    The Greatest Fear Of France
    If there is one thing Paris is good at, it is being the lawyer and the spokesperson of fanatic Armenian Diaspora. France avoids the genocide allegations targeting itself, while adopting the Armenian accusations on Turkey with a great appetite.

    While qualifying Armenian allegations as political, it says that the genocide accusations for it need to be “left as a matter of history”.

    France that officially recognised the so-called Armenian genocide in 2001 and criminalised the denial of the so-called Armenian genocide at the parliament continues to refer the allegations on the Algerian genocide to historians and researchers.

    Speaker of the French parliament, Jean Louis Debre, who was sent to Algeria as a “peace envoy” by French President Jacques Chirac said during a meeting he held with Abdülaziz Bouteflika that “the great countries have to own their histories”.

    Parliament Speaker Debre also told Algeria’s President Bouteflika that France wished a commission of French and Algerian historians and researchers to hold a research on the Algerian archives of independence war and colonialism periods within the framework of the laws.

    On the other hand, Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Charles Murigande demanded France to accept its part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and apologise.

    Rwanda, who stopped its diplomatic relations with France last November, stated that France had to apologise for the genocide to restart the relations with this country. Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Murigande replied questions of Reuters during the African countries’ foreign ministers meeting held in Addis Ababa and said the ball was in French court now after calling on France to “leave its argumentative stance”. Murigande said France should accept its part in the genocide and apologise and added that “an apology would be the start of good relations”.

    Rwanda also accuses France for initiating the unrest which later on turned into a civil war in its former colony, Ivory Coast. Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, died in 1994 when his plane was shut down and this event had triggered the genocide. A French court issued an arrest warrant for Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame last year and Rwanda cut off its relations with France.

    It is stated that the soldiers who killed 800.000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during the genocide were trained and directed by France. France denies any involvement in the massacres.

    France has scandals in its domestic politics and takes the Armenian side militantly in its foreign policy. France has to apologise from Algeria and Rwanda but nobody believes that France will apologise for the crimes it committed. There is a fact that France ignores at this point: History carefully keeps the criminal reports. Turning a blind eye will not make the problem disappear and apologising will not make anyone to walk away from the criminal bar.


    Europe Is Passing A “Double Standards Law”
    Germany has been pushing for “racism and xenophobia” to be recognised as a threat in Europe. Of course as extreme right develops like tsunami in Europe, this is very important. However some details show that this approach needs to be watched carefully.

    German Justice Ministry declared on January 29th 2007, that the fight against xenophobia and racism needs to be made top priority throughout Europe’s political agenda. For this, the act that ensured cooperation in this field that was frozen in 2005 should be resumed.

    Berlin, is calling on Union members to make compatible with one another their laws on racism and xenophobia.

    Of course everyone should step in on this initiative. But one needs to also look into the terms in Berlin’s proposed partnership. The encouragement of hatred and violence, the denial and downplaying of genocide is seen as racism and xenophobia.

    However in the same German Federal Ministry’s declaration of January 29th 2007, “doesn’t call for a ban of a swastika.”

    Probably soon we will see a hunt for “racists” and “xenophobes” in Europe. Of course the encouragement of hatred and violence should be punished. Moreover, like the document says “threats, assaults, swearing” should also not remain unpunished.

    Also the public peace called upon is also a precise measure. Threats against public safety and security should be punished by 1-3 years in prison as the documents say. Hopefully, Turkey will implement the same framework.

    However, this framework brings regulations to “denial, downplaying and approval of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

    6th and 8th laws of the International War Court as well as the 6th principle of the 1945 International Court marshal Principles (Nuremberg Court) calls for the punishment of “persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds” by 1-3 years in prison.

    German Federal Justice Ministry, says that the principle is not based on one genocide or genocides but rather on the abovementioned judicial decisions.

    To show that the framework is “fair” and “independent” it calls for a judicial body to determine the situation. The example given is the “Jewis Genocide.” Member countries can apply for this. Honestly, the framework is not open on what court is the court in question at this point. The mentioned court can be an international one or a member’s national one.

    This fight against “racism and xenophobia” to be taken up by the ministers is very valuable as it can start a fight against racism and xenophobia throughout Europe.

    However one part of the law is very disturbing, since a member’s punishment on groups of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes is highly unlikely. Even France, whose courts decided that she had collaborated in the extermination of Jews, might not be punished.

    Moreover, at a time when swearing at Turks guarantees a place in parliament, every Union member and even Europe Parliament has a rise in racism and xenophobia, causing a possible good or bad result coming from this law.

    It is guaranteed that the conditions won’t be the same for Turkey. Perhaps this is to avoid Turkey taking Armenian lies to international court or answer any future appeals she might make. This framework would put into a clog any future attempt.

    This framework, if approved by European Union Justice Ministers, -very likely- having the Armenian lies pass as law in European Parliaments automatically is not far off.

    This situation increasingly is calling for traditional “Armenian laws” to get a new face in Europe on a Union level with a binding solid ground.

    European Union Interior and Justice Ministers Council meeting took place on February 15th 2007 in Brussels and this framework was taken up during lunch. It might become law soon.


    Ankara Calls On Yerevan To Create A Historian Commission With Inclusion Of Third Parties
    Turkey calls on Armenia to create a historian commission with the inclusion of third parties, in order to examine events in 1915. "I hereby extend an invitation to any third country, including the United States, to contribute to this commission by appointing scholars who will earnestly work to shed light on this tragedy and open ways for us to come together," said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in his editorial for The Washington Times titled "Politicizing the Armenian tragedy".

    Criticizing the Armenian lobby for politicizing the past and imposing his view of history, Gul said it is "truly regrettable that there is no mention of Turkish or Muslim lives lost during the same period". "The only way to find out what happened in 1915 is to ask scholars who have the ability to evaluate the period objectively, working with the full range of available primary sources. Turkey has no difficulties in facing its past. We eagerly await a positive response from Armenia, agreeing to establish this joint commission and declaring its readiness to accept its conclusion," he said. The Turkish FM underlined that the establishment of such a commission will also help shape an atmosphere conducive to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

    One Hundred Members of the UK Parliament Recognise the Genocide

    Armenia Solidarity
    Nor Serount Publications
    British Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group

    c/o The Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, Cardiff
    eilian@nant.wanadoo.co.uk Tel:07876561398

    One Hundred Members of the UK Parliament Recognise the Genocide

    A milestone on the road to Armenian Genocide recognition in the UK was passed today, when Ed Davey became the 100th MP( Member of Parliament) in the House of Commons, London, to sign a Motion recognising the Armenian Genocide. The motion is called "Early Day Motion 357 and was put by Bob Spink MP in december.

    There are over a thousand motions in the House of Commons at this time but this is the only motion opposed to government policy which has accumulated 100 names. Also, of the motions on international issues, only motions on Burma, Zimbabwe and Darfur have gained more signatures.This shows that the Genocide issue is a high priority amongst MPs, and we look forward a possible vote on the issue in the late autumn in response to the activity of our supporting parliamentarians.We are convinced that a vote in the House of Commons on the issue would be won.

    Of the signatories, nearly two thirds of eligible Welsh MPs have signed showing the usual strength of feeling in Wales on the issue. The majority of Liberal Democrat MPs have also signed including their Foreign Affairs and Defence Spokesmen.

    The motion will run until november so there is still plenty of scope for the number to increase substantially if more UK Armenians and their friends assist in the lobbying. We appeal to all Armenians to put aside your political differences or your reticence to become involved in politics and assist us in this campaign. The wording of the motion is shown below

    EDM 357


    Spink, Bob
    That this House believes that the killing of over a million Armenians in 1915 was an act of genocide; calls upon the UK Government to recognise it as such; and believes that it would be in Turkey's long-term interests to do the same.

    Signatures( 100)
    Standard Order Party Groups Alphabetical Order Party Totals
    Open signatures All signatures

    Spink, Bob
    Campbell, Gregory
    Dismore, Andrew
    Meale, Alan
    Caton, Martin
    George, Andrew
    Lepper, David
    Drew, David
    Holmes, Paul
    Marris, Rob
    Corbyn, Jeremy
    Etherington, Bill
    Wareing, Robert N
    Austin, Ian
    McCrea, Dr William
    Cryer, Ann
    Williams, Hywel
    Williams, Stephen
    Donaldson, Jeffrey
    Vis, Rudi
    McDonnell, Alasdair
    McDonnell, John
    Bercow, John
    Wilson, Sammy
    Hemming, John
    Simpson, Alan
    Cable, Vincent
    Turner, Desmond
    Illsley, Eric
    Abbott, Diane
    Williams, Roger
    Connarty, Michael
    Gummer, John
    Swinson, Jo
    Keetch, Paul
    Engel, Natascha
    Morgan, Julie
    Davies, Dai
    James, Sian C
    Harvey, Nick
    Jackson, Stewart
    Hopkins, Kelvin
    Mullin, Chris
    Williams, Betty
    Griffith, Nia
    Amess, David
    Leech, John
    Llwyd, Elfyn
    Francis, Hywel
    Field, Mark
    Price, Adam
    Hunter, Mark
    Flynn, Paul
    Chaytor, David
    Cohen, Harry
    Field, Frank
    Oaten, Mark
    Wyatt, Derek
    Willis, Phil
    Russell, Bob
    Jones, Lynne
    Mates, Michael
    Dowd, Jim
    Bottomley, Peter
    McGrady, Eddie
    Clark, Katy
    Featherstone, Lynne
    Baker, Norman
    Horwood, Martin
    Gidley, Sandra
    Hancock, Mike
    Tami, Mark
    Harris, Evan
    Khabra, Piara S
    Clegg, Nick
    Barrett, John
    Austin, John
    Main, Anne
    Clarke, Tom
    Dean, Janet
    Havard, Dai
    Brown, Lyn
    Goodman, Helen
    Rogerson, Daniel
    Burstow, Paul
    Moore, Michael
    Howarth, David
    Morden, Jessica
    Foster, Don
    Galloway, George
    Pugh, John
    Betts, Clive
    Williams, Mark
    Lamb, Norman
    Bryant, Chris
    Teather, Sarah
    Ennis, Jeff
    Riordan, Linda
    Clapham, Michael
    Davey, Edward

    Rep. Watson Alerts Colleagues To Turkey's Token Efforts To Use Akhtamar Renovation To Mislead The Us Congress
    Congresswoman Diane Watson, a leading member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today warned her colleagues not to be misled by the Turkish government's token efforts to use the renovation of a single Armenian Church to obscure its longstanding policy of destroying Armenian cultural heritage and denying the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

    "We thank Congresswoman Watson for her work in alerting her colleagues to the true motivations behind this token - and all too transparent - effort by the Turkish government to draw attention away from its anti-Armenian policies," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "It is clearly not an act of tolerance for Turkish leaders to turn an ancient and sacred church, with profound religious meaning for Armenians worldwide, into a secular museum, upon which a cross is forbidden and within which prayer is prohibited."

    In her letter on the day of opening the Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island, in Lake Van, as a museum, she noted that, "the Turkish government is holding an event to tout the rehabilitation of an Armenian Church. Unfortunately, this event obscures the reality that hundreds of Christian Armenian Churches in Turkey, some dating as far back as the 4th century, have been neglected and even egregiously abused."

    Congresswoman Watson explained that, "Armenia, which was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D., has a remarkably rich history of ancient churches and Christian artifacts. Sadly, the Turkish government - which still, against all evidence, denies the Armenian Genocide - continues to actively pursue the eradication of Armenian ancient monuments. It is a desperate and malicious campaign, which began in 1915, to erase the Armenian people's physical and cultural existence in their historic homeland."

    The Los Angeles legislator closed her letter by pointing out that, "only under great international pressure has the Turkish government begrudgingly preserved this single Armenian Church, a holy site that was already widely recognized as a world treasure. This token effort stands in stark contrast to the hundreds of Armenian Churches that have been and continue to be neglected, deliberately damaged, and often entirely destroyed in Turkey and Azerbaijan."

    Vladimir Karapetian Comments On Renovation Of The Church Of Holy Cross On Akhtamar Island
    We are pleased that the Armenian Church of Holy Cross on Akhtamar island, a jewel of world architecture, has been beautifully restored and renovated, albeit without a cross, and as a museum.

    This is a positive move and holds the potential of a reversal of the policy of negligence and destruction.

    We hope the same kind approach will extend to cover the nearly-collapsed churches of Ani, Mush, Tegor, and a dozen other priceless examples of Armenian medieval architecture, which have been abandoned at best, or more often, intentionally vandalized, simply because of their Armenian identity.

    Unfortunately, this opening was not transformed to a new opportunity in Armenia- Turkish relations, because the Turkish government has not found it expedient to do so. Instead, it will remain a formal ceremony, in which a small official delegation will participate.

    The border was not opened, even for one day, to allow our peoples to share this singular, historic event together. Instead, those from Armenia wishing to attend will be forced to travel, through a third country, two days to get there and back. This could have been a four-hour car ride across the border enjoyed by many.

    Turkey's announcements about the opening of this renovated church do not include the word 'Armenian' anywhere. Names of kings and regions from medieval times are evoked, but no mention is made of its Armenian and Apostolic belonging. This is an evasion of the Turkish government's responsibility not only to history and memory, but to its own Armenian minority.

    Ironically, at the same time, many are heralding this renovation as a step forward in Armenia-Turkey relations. This is because the Turkish authorities need to demonstrate something positive in that direction. It is no coincidence that this opening is being held just as the US Congress is considering a resolution on affirming the US record on the Armenian Genocide.

    Even before the opening, pictures of the renovated church are being distributed in Washington as a sign of goodwill from Turks towards Armenians, and therefore obviating the need for third country pressure on Turkey.

    Armenia and Armenians wish for substantive progress with Turkey regarding our painful past and a potential of a shared future as neighbors. Armenia and Armenians do not want to be played in a never-ending process of gestures that do not intend to make real inroads in reconciliation, and instead are simply public relations moves.

    Armenia asks that the international community encourage Turkey to engage in a substantive process toward open borders and normal relations and not be satisfied with isolated symbols and gestures.

    Right And Wrong
    YAVUZ BAYDAR y.baydar@todayszaman.com
    Some time ago I had a private conversation with some people who knew about the various sorts of destruction caused to dissident human souls and historic heritage by the rulers of the regime which was established by the coup d’etat of Sept. 12, 1980. “It was an unimaginable destruction” they told me. “People were driven and sometimes even ordered to bomb and blow up what remained of the churches in the East. The aim was to wipe out all traces of what was seen as the eternal enemy, Armenian and Greek.”

    I was rather shocked to hear that, but not terribly surprised. Respect for religious landmarks has not been very high on the agenda in modern Turkey, but the active distaste for others’ sacred symbols had apparently reached its peak during the military regime. There were more than 2,000 churches until the 1860’s in Anatolia, all of them open to worship. Now we have only a handful. Those communities are gone; they now represent a past, filled with blood and hatred, that led to the downfall of an empire.

    What you can do now is only demonstrate symbolic acts of respect. I was happy to see, a couple of years ago, that the mosque in Yenice, in Western Thrace, where the Turkish minority live -- in Greece -- had finally been restored. It was a landmark of Ottoman history in what is now Greece, neglected deliberately as tensions between Ankara and Athens continued. Now the mosque looks healthier and it is open to worship.

    I am happy, but to a much lesser degree, when I read the news on the opening as a museum of the restored Church of Holy Cross (Surp Khach) on the tiny island of Akhtamar in lake Van. I know what it looks like: it was in November last year, when a colleague of mine and I were invited by the contractors of the restoration to “inspect” the work. We liked what we saw and were also moved by the fact that there were new excavations at that time, revealing the profound importance of the temple, by walking around the remnants of the “school of monks,” etc. It is apparent that the church has an immense significance for the Armenians both in Turkey and elsewhere. And it is just this that the unfortunate insistence by the Turkish authorities not to allow prayers in the church, and its negligence in not replacing the original stone cross on the church’s apex, depends on. The old fear is still there: fear of having a “symbol” that will threaten the security of the Turkish Republic. A storm in a tea cup. In such a case you can not expect the people “outside” to understand your logic.

    My discontent stems from this sort of anachronism in thought, although I welcome Culture Minister Atilla Koç’s revelation that the ruins of Ani, at the very border between Armenia and Turkey, will also be restored. But in all of the prospective restorations, restorers should be more careful as to respect history and tradition. We must not hurt each other anymore.

    Cengiz Çandar, my colleague, was apparently angered by the lack of sensitivity on the part of the government. He wrote: “You restore a historical church and find absurd reasons for not putting a cross and a bell onto it? Who will believe that you are secular, or that you ‘respect all faiths’, or that you represent ‘the alliance of civilizations against the clash of civilizations’? What you are doing is simply ‘cultural genocide’. How do you have the right for that? And why? … The cross is a symbol for the Christian world that represents Jesus Christ’s suffering for all humanity. Even if Muslims do not believe in the cross, and even if there are negative connotations of the cross throughout history for Muslims, would it not be necessary to ‘show respect toward everyone’s faiths’ in a secular country in 2007? Would such an attitude not reflect well on a Muslim culture minister and his government?”

    Here are some things for consideration, mainly for the government, but also for us all: Yes, be much more respectful and less fearful when dealing with the landmarks and monuments of history (if you want the same respect from others). But nevertheless go on, boldly, to renovate what remains of cultures and civilizations. Restore, first of all Ani and as a gesture of “civil good will” restore also the graceful Silk Road Bridge between Ani and the Armenian side, over the Aras River.

    And go on, equally boldly, to resolve the murder mystery of our colleague, Hrant Dink. That would help a reconciliation process much more than anything else.

    Official Openings
    ANDREW FINKEL a.finkel@todayszaman.com

    Traugott Fuchs was a wonderful man, but to my inexpert eye only an indifferent painter. Even so many of his friends trooped off to a final exhibition of his work shortly before he died in 1997. It turned out to be revelation. On display was his correspondence with great German men of letters of the 20th century, including Herman Hesse. Fuchs (we’ve never called him anything else), a literary scholar, had fled the Nazis to Istanbul in the 1930s but unlike all the other refugee academics of his time, he spent the remainder of his long life in Turkey. He had been a neighbor in the 1980s, and although I knew that he had accompanied his Jewish professor to Istanbul, the exhibition made clearer the reason for his flight. Many of the painting were mystical and blazingly homo-erotic. Fuchs had rightly foreseen that Nazi Germany was no place for gays.

    Fuchs couldn’t have been a day younger than 90 at his own opening. His mind had long retreated into that mystical vision displayed in the paintings and he no longer recognized me or, I suspect, anything else. He was dressed in white, I remember, and had a beatific smile. The exhibition was being mounted in a gallery operated by the Naval Museum, and the professors from Bosporus University who had organized the event had invited some admiral (also in white) to make the opening remarks. The poor man clearly hadn’t a clue about the art. Instead he went on and on (and on) about how Fuchs had been a disciple of Atatürk’s principles. Fuchs stood next to him, still smiling, clearly not understanding a word. At one point the absurdity became too much, someone intervened and, in the politest possible way, asked the admiral to shut up. Even patriotism can be made foolish if not allocated the appropriate time and place.

    “There was a time we could laugh about all this,” a common friend of Fuchs told me, when I recounted him the tale. We were discussing whether another recent display of the icons of nationhood was not equally out of place. This week, the Turkish government with a list of invited guests that included the Armenian patriarch and a delegation from Armenia itself inaugurated the restored millennium-old Akhtamar Church (or Akdamar as it has been re-christened by Turkish cartographers). The $1.5 million restoration has been praised as an attempt to stop the deterioration of an important monument but criticized for the Culture Ministry’s seemingly perverse determination not to be seen promoting Armenian culture nor the faith the church represents. A cross on top of the building, clearly visible in turn of the century photographs, was the one item not restored. Ian Herbert in Friday’s edition of UK newspaper the Independent led the charge:

    “Insensitivity set the tone for yesterday’s ceremony which, despite the Turkish posters everywhere declaring ‘Respect history, respect culture,’ was a painful and almost provocative statement of Turkey’s national identity. The Turkish crescent flag and a giant Ataturk poster hung from the front of the church.”

    The argument is that the restoration is an attempt to convince foreign legislatures bent on recognizing an Armenian genocide, that Turkey is coming to terms with its past. Another argument is that the draping of a flag on the façade is an attempt to ward off the increasingly stentorian critics of that reconciliation. On the other hand, it does seem odd that the Church of the Holy Cross (now a museum) should be deemed a suitable place to play the national anthem but not for the occasional religious service. A nation, able in the 1930s to embrace the unconventional Fuchs, should, so many years on, be able not to feel embarrassed if some of its citizens say a prayer.

     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix Book Review: ‘The Orientalist’ by Tom Reiss
    What makes us who we are? What defines us as a person? Is it where we come from: am I Marion, the English person? Or even Marion, the Londoner?

    Is it where we are now: am I Marion, the Turkish citizen? Is it the job we do: am I Marion, the actuary? Or Marion, from Greenhouse bookstore? Is it our family? (In many official records in Turkey, I am Marion, the daughter of Edward and Elsie.) Is it our spouse, and their job, or our children? (At a women's luncheon one lady didn't tell me her name, she just introduced herself to me as "I'm David French's wife.") Is it the clubs we belong to, the faith we adhere to, the hobbies we pursue?

    The Orientalist, by Tom Reiss, is a fascinating study in self-perception and self-promulgation. We are on the trail of the author of Ali and Nino, and The Girl From the Golden Horn - the mysterious Kurban Said. Tom Reiss spent five years tracking down the many personalities of the author -- traveling from the Caspian Sea to Germany. The amazing story he uncovers shows a man not at ease with his origins, race and religion -- a man who feels the need to reinvent himself, and whose various guises are so convincing he creates a stir wherever he goes.

    The most famous novel of the author who used the pen-name Kurban Said is Ali and Nino: a love story set in Caucasus on the eve of the Russian Revolution. The tale of love between a Muslim boy and a Christian girl in a culturally tolerant world is considered the national novel of Azerbaijan, just as Anne of Green Gables is for Canada.

    In fact, Kurban Said (with another alias of Essad Bey) was born as Lev Nussimbaum, to a wealthy Jewish family in 1905 in Baku, Azerbaijan. In his early teens he was to witness the Russian Revolution, and declarations by local rulers to "kill all those foreigners who speak and pray differently from us." It seems that Lev was to spend his whole life either fleeing from those who were to pursue the same fanatical racist policies, or flirting with them as a butterfly or moth is attracted to the naked flame that will eventually burn it.

    Escaping from Baku with his father in his teens Lev was exposed to racial and religious turmoil in Persia, and then fighting between nationalist Muslims and White Russian forces in the Caucasus. He spent most of the 1920s presenting himself to the inter-war elite society in Paris and Berlin as Essad Bey, a Muslim prince from Persian and Turkish descent. Most bizarre, for a Jew in Berlin in the early 1930s, his distrust of the communists in Russia led him to mix with Hitler's supporters. Anxiety over the Red Menace blinded Lev and his circle of avant-garde friends to the evils of the forces of the new right.

    But this halcyon period of mixing with the political elite in Germany and Austria, and being accepted as a famous author from a Muslim background, ends abruptly. Lev's ability to self-invent seems matched only by a talent for self-destruction. When he starts to meet in smoky rooms with real Muslim exiles he finds it is harder to be Essad Bey, the man from the East. Controversy reigns as they publicly question the authenticity of his story. A highly publicized divorce reveals to his Nazi friends his true identity, and he was "outed" in official lists as a Jewish story-swindler. His real-life tale was to become even more bizarre as he turns up next in Italy as the biographer of Mussolini -- a fascist who Lev believed would steer the Nazis away from racial policies. This would not happen, and Lev died of Raynards disease in 1942, at the early age of 37, just a few weeks before the Gestapo came to his home in Italy to take him to an SS camp.

    This is the story of man caught between the east and the west. A Jewish man with such a passion for the Muslim world that he took on a Muslim persona, and posed as a Muslim aristocrat.

    Lev first fully identified with Islam as a young man of 16. A political refugee from an Azerbaijan overrun by the Bolsheviks, he was traveling to Europe via Istanbul (then known as Constantinople, and divided between the various victorious sides just after the First World War). Looking back on this moment he was later to write, "Was that me? A stranger with different feelings and different thoughts. I believe that my life began in Istanbul. I saw the life of the Orient and I knew that as much as I yearned for Europe, I would be forever captivated by this life."

    What were the reasons behind the myths of his life? What were the forces that led him to this deliberate self-creation? Lev was always an outsider. It is true that he used his false personality to save himself from persecution, but this was not the main motivator. He lived like a movie actor playing a great part. Driven by a mysterious compulsion, his romantic immersion in the subject of the Orient progressed to the point of oblivion to everything around him. In all his descriptions Lev simply embroidered actual events - things he had read or overheard.

    A pathological liar, or a deluded man who believed his own stories? His story is touching in the way he is mystified by the east, and moving for the thrill he seems to get from spinning the lie for as long as he can, in the most dangerous way that he can. It is almost as though Lev doesn't believe he has really become the new persona unless he can convince his most dangerous enemies that he is truly Essad Bey or Kurban Said.

    "Faced with both Communist and Nazi oppression, Lev survived by countering brute force with the power of imagination. He was simultaneously a Jew, an Oriental, and a German, but he never inhabited any one of these identities to the exclusion of the others … He was a rogue and a seducer, but never a con artist … He was an ideological Houdini, becoming a racial and religious cross-dresser in a decade when race and religion were as fixed as a death sentence."

    The Orientalist, by Tom Reiss,
    Published by Vintage Books, Paperback.
    7.99 pounds, ISBN 978-009948377-9

    Story of deportation in 1991
    March 26, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
    In his latest book “The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East” British journalist Robert Fisk tells the story of his deportation from Turkey in 1991.

    Speaking with the Turkish Daily News, Fisk said he was arrested by Turkish police in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir after accusing Turkish soldiers of stealing food and blankets from refugees on the Iranian border. “I was told that I had offended the Turkish army to which my reply was that I did not offend the Turkish army. That was the unit of Turkish troops that stole blankets and food. That does not mean the Turkish army.”

    Fisk was deported and sent to Germany and he later returned to Lebanon where he lives. He said the Turkish ambassador in Beirut sent him a message at that time, saying that there had been a big mistake and invited him to visit Turkey. “I'm not banned from Turkey. I did of course go back to Turkey during the earthquake in 1999 and I've been back to give lectures at Sabanci University.”

    Turkish Fm Gul Calls For Joint Committee With Armenia
    30 March 2007
    Journal of Turkish Weekly
    The complex political history and dynamics of that tumultuous period are yet to be fully grasped, wrote Turkish FM Gul. Turkey is keen to set up a joint committee with Armenia to investigate the circumstances surrounding the so-called Armenian genocide, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said in comments published Wednesday. Turkey was eager to work with Armenia to conduct research on the allegations that the Ottoman Empire committed an act of so-called genocide against its Armenian citizens during the First World War and would abide by the study’s findings, Gul said in an article he wrote for the Washington Times.

    “I hereby extend an invitation to any third country, including the United States, to contribute to this commission by appointing scholars who will earnestly work to shed light on this tragedy and open ways for us to come together,” Gul wrote.

    The Foreign Minister said that it was unfortunate that Armenian lobbying organisations were determined to politicise the past and impose their view of history without any regard to the overriding and lasting interests of the United States or Armenia.

    “The historical period in question centres on 1915, when immense mutual suffering occurred amid the atrocities of World War I,” he wrote.

    “Countless individual stories have been passed from generation to generation among Turks, Armenians and others who then made up the Ottoman Empire. But the complex political history and dynamics of that tumultuous period are yet to be fully grasped. Each life lost is one too many, whether it is Armenian or Turkish. It is truly regrettable that there is no mention today of Turkish or Muslim lives lost during the same period.”

    US Senate Committee Does Not Recognize ‘Armenian Genocide’
    30 March 2007
    US Senate International Affairs Committee passed a decision condemning Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s assassination in Turkey, APA US bureau reports. The preliminary variant of the draft drawn up by the committee chief, Democrat senator Joseph Biden was changed. The sentence “Mr. Dink underwent pursuit on Article 301 of Turkish Criminal Code, as he spoke about Armenian genocide” caused Ankara’s protest. Taking into account protest, Republican Richard Lugar managed to change the sentence as the following:

    “Legal measures were taken about Mr. Dink, as he regarded the events happened in 1915 as genocide”.
    The decision demands uncovering the crime, bringing the offenders to court, abolishing Article 301 and Ankara is called on to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan.

    The draft affirmed by International Affairs Committee will also be debated in the general assembly of the Senate. Even if the Senate confirms it, its implementation will not be compulsory for the US government.

    Akdamar Church Re-Opening Applauded By Armenian And Turkish Factions
    30 March 2007
    The Armenian Akdamar Church, located on Akdamar Island on Van Lake, is scheduled to re-open as a museum following the year long restoration efforts started by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Ankara. The restoration efforts reportedly cost a total of 2,600,000 YTL, and have led to world-wide attention to both the church itself and the opening ceremonies which will take place tomorrow, and will include delegations from Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. The spiritual leader of the Armenian community in Turkey, Patriarch Mesrob II, has already arrived in Van, and has said that he is very pleased with the restoration.

    Said Mesrob II: "I congratulate this project and its completion as a whole. In terms of the re-opening of the church, we have not held any meetings with Armenia. We are an autonomous patriarchate."

    There are currently 356 journalists who have received accreditation to follow the events during the opening of the Akdamar Church. Some of the notable names to be present at the re-opening will include Minister for Culture and Tourism, Atilla Koc, Turkish Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, Los Angeles-based Armenian Archbishop Amoushegh Mardirossan, New York-based Archibiship Khajag Barsamian, and Armenian's Minister of Culture Gagik Gyiryian, who will himself be leading a delegation of 20. The ceremony will also include various ambassadors and MPs, as well as prominent members of the Armenian community in Turkey.

    One area of controversy does remain in terms of the general restoration of Akdamar: despite the requests from the Armenian community in Turkey, there has been no cross placed atop the church. The Turkish Foreign Ministry reportedly noted to the Ministry of Culture that just as the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul was not open to religious services, and thus had neither a cross nor an Islamic crescent on it, the same implementation would be appropriate for the Akdamar Church, which is also re-opening not as a spot for worship, but as a museum.

    The Turkey Of France’s Presidential Candidates
    BERIL DEDEOGLU b.dedeoglu@todayszaman.com
    During the presidential campaign in France, candidates answer questions about various issues in order to reveal and reinforce their point of views.

    Turkey features frequently in these questions. In fact some candidates expose their views about Turkey without even being asked. Nicolas Sarkozy, as one of the main candidates, has not changed his views since the beginning; and it would not be wise to expect a change now. But Sarkozy, who does not think of Turkey as a European Union country nor even as a European country, needs more time to convince other EU member countries.

    The other eminent candidate, Segolene Royal from the Socialist Party, appears to be more realistic by saying that the simple refusal of Turkey by the EU would be a mistake. She has declared on television station France 2 that Turkey is not actually fulfilling membership criteria and that the EU needs some break in order to resolve its internal problems. She also affirms that making Turkey “the other” would not be acceptable because of the humanist traditions of France. At this point one should remember that Turkey is only at the beginning of the membership negotiation process and the openings of the chapters are exclusively decided by the EU itself. Royal did not specify which criteria were not being fulfilled by Turkey. Moreover her arguments also indicate the limits in her thinking about Turkey. She said that one should remember that Turkey is a secular country. Maybe Royal wants to ease Islamophobia, but we know that Turkey has many other characteristics that help it to stay in the membership process.

    Many in France were anticipating a duel between Sego and Sarko, but Democrat François Bayrou has become more and more influential in the presidential campaign in the last few weeks. Bayrou, as Sarkozy, does not support the idea of Turkey’s membership. He is in favor of a “privileged partnership,” even its content is unknown. He says that if he is elected president he will have to continue to negotiate with Turkey, but in the end the French people will make the final decision in a referendum. This shows his political prowess as he carefully leaves every option open for future developments and conjectural changes.

    Opinion polls suggest that if Royal is beaten in the first round, Bayrou can easily overcome Sarkozy in the second round. Bayrou appears to have better knowledge about Turkey than Royal, and his main difference with Sarkozy is his world vision. He admits that France needs new policies in the actual world context in apparent contrast to Sarkozy, who is labeled as pro-American. Bayrou already has more than 20 percent of the preliminary vote as the candidate who appeals to electors annoyed by Sarkozy and Royal.

    We can not predict for how long Sarkozy can remain pro-American and Bayrou “pro-France” once they are elected president, but it is clear that these attitudes would not be in the EU’s favor. Maybe the essential is a future analysis made through humanism and common values. France is one of the rare countries capable of sharing its historical experiences with the world, as well as with Turkey, and we still have time for this.

    Render Unto ‘akdamar’ The Things Which Are Ahtamar’s
    Mustafa Akyol
    March 31, 2007
    It was a good step to reopen the Ahtamar Church, but it is only a half step. The Armenian community should be allowed to worship and organize services in the church, as Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan has demanded

    One of the commonly used quotes from Jesus Christ is his words that put an equal share between the divine and temporal authorities. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's,” he said according to the New Testament, “and unto God the things that are God's.”

    Some political theorists think that this particular phrase in the gospels opened the way for the separation of church and state in the West. The state, which we finance by our taxes and serve us in return with earthly goods and services, can have our material loyalty. But it has neither the power nor the right to interfere in our spiritual beliefs and practices. It should, in other words, simply respect the church, the synagogue or the mosque.

    This seems to be quite a fair division. However it is not always observed. Sometimes people who act in the name of this or that religion tries to dominate the state and that's what we call “theocracy.” It is bad, because it leads to tyranny in the name of God, about whom we have very different sets of beliefs.

    The trouble with Libido dominandi:
    But sometimes tyranny comes from the other side. Sometimes states try to dominate the religious sphere simply because they love to dominate everything. One of the early church fathers, St. Augustine, in his classic, “City of God,” termed this desire as “libido dominandi,” or the “lust for power.”

    Unfortunately, unlike the tolerant and grown-up Ottoman Empire, the young Turkish Republic has inhibited a very dense libido dominandi since its beginning. It tried to dominate virtually every sphere in society, which included, of course, religion of all kinds. Islam was completely taken under control and independent Islamic institutions like the Sufi orders were closed down. Some major Christian Churches like that of the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian have been given some limited space with the Treaty of Lausanne, but even that has been shrunk gradually over time.

    The ‘Akdamar' story:
    Some of the weird things that took place around the re-opening of the Ahtamar Church will be better understood within this context. It is of course a kind and nice move to restore and open the 1000-year old sanctuary, but the steps taken in order to Turkify — and de-churchify — it are absurd. First, it was renamed in Turkish as “Akdamar.” Second, it was opened not as a church but as a “museum.” It was also denied the right to have a cross at the top. In the opening ceremony, giant posters of Atatürk and huge Turkish flags were more visible then any thing else. No wonder some Armenians have felt unhappy about all that.

    Why do we feel the need to show our dominance on a little building? How do we have the right to define it as a “museum,” whereas it was built in order to worship God? And what do we gain by all that?

    These are questions the Turkish authorities should ask themselves. It was a good step to reopen the Ahtamar Church, but it is only a half step. The Armenian community should be allowed to worship and organize services in the church, as Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan has demanded. Again, as he demanded, the Turkish Foreign Ministry should return the cross of the temple to its original place.

    We should understand that Ahtamar is not a government building; it is a sanctuary built to worship God and by people who were living in this land many centuries before the Turkish Republic ever existed. It should be treated as such.

    Future Of Akdamar Wrapped In The Word 'Maybe'
    March 31, 2007
    VAN - Turkish Daily News
    The opening of the historic Armenian Holy Cross Church on the island of Akdamar, near Van in southeast Turkey, is intended as an exercise in good will, an effort to show Turkey bears no ill will toward Armenians despite many political problems, says Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koç.

    Koç's comments to the Turkish Daily News came in a wide-ranging interview aboard his charter plane as he and his entourage returned from the ceremony, Thursday, which brought Turks and Armenians together in a rare and unusual forum.

    As was much discussed in the press this week, the restoration and opening of the “Surp Khaç” church left many questions unresolved. Will it be allowed to eventually have its restored cross again placed on its roof? Might it actually function as a church one day, even if only for one service a year? Might the celebration have benefited had such a prominent Turkish-Armenian as world-renowned composer Sirvart Karamanukyan been invited to stage his opera “Ah Tamar” at the event?

    Perhaps so, said Koç, conceding the project remains a work-in-progress and the event might have been improved upon, and perhaps a way can be found to actually let the church operate as a church.

    “I have many Armenian and Greek friends from my school days and I am close to the culture,” Koç said. “We have no problems with the Armenians of Turkey, our problem is with the Armenians of the diaspora.”

    Koç's frequent use of the word “maybe,” reflected the treacherous politics that surround the restoration of the historic church at a time when the U.S. Congress and others are pressuring Turkey to accept as “genocide” the deaths and deportations of much of the ethnic Armenian community of Ottoman Anatolia. That the opening followed by just two months the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, a murder now with many questions unresolved, only added to the undercurrent of tension.

    A small demonstration by nationalists in Van preceded the ceremony. Everyone acted as if it had not occurred. Some Turkish officials appeared distressed when dignitaries from Armenia, which Turkey does not have diplomatic relations with, entered the church wearing small Armenian flags. There were a few strange looks when some of the Armenian guests crossed themselves at the end of the ceremony, placed dozens of candles from Armenia in various parts of the church and lit incense. And when the regional governor offered his remarks, his lack of a word of welcome to the Armenian Minister of Culture Gagik Gürciyan and Turkey's Armenian Mesrop Mutafyan, was lost on no one. And the fact that none from the Armenian delegation were asked to speak at the ceremony was bit of silence that rang in everyone's ears.

    But if there were a few awkward moments, Koç made it clear that he is doing the best he can to highlight Turkey's diverse heritage and traditions and to keep the sacred distinct from politics.

    “We will stand by our cultural wealth, regardless of which religion it belongs to,” he said.

    He noted that Turkey is spending and has spent sizeable resources on the restoration, while equivalent restorations of Mosques and other Muslim sites in Greece remain stalled. He noted that Turkey has successfully worked to preserve the so-called Ani ruins, a historical Armenian site near Kars, despite dynamite used in the stone quarry across the border in Armenia which threatened their stability.

    Koç in particular defended his ministry which is currently conducting work on 806 ancient theaters and archeological sites which include many ruins from Armenian and Greek cultures.

    “All religions and religious sites are important to me,” Koç said.

    What Shall Become Of Turkish-American Relations?
    Nursen Mazici
    March 31, 2007
    Are Turkish-US relations, which have survived 177 consecutive years without interruption, and have been put through the wringer once before with the Armenian diaspora, and twice by the Greek lobby, going to reach a breaking point a second time because of the Armenian Diaspora? I don’t think so

    Though Americans first became acquainted with Turks in the late-18th century, the first official treaty was signed in 1830 and was based heavily on trade relations. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire the U.S. Senate vetoed the Lausanne Treaty, due in part to lobby pressure of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, creating the first political tempest between the two countries. However, as a result of U.S. business interests the bi-lateral Friendship & Trade Agreement ratified in 1927 put relations between the two nations back on the right track.

    Turkish-U.S. relations began to magnify onto the military platform after World War II. However, in 1964, they turned chilly for a second time over the Cyprus issue. When the Greek Cypriots attempted to wipe the island clean of Turks, the latter responded with a move to intervene militarily on Cyprus, basing their actions on Article 4 of the 1960 Treat of Guarantee, which was signed by Turkey, Greece and England. As a consequence, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson sent Prime Minister Inönü a letter on June 2, 1964, stating, “If Turkey makes a move requiring Soviet interference, the rest of NATO will not protect her.”

    Good and bad times:
    After that, relations between the two countries reached a breaking point over the Cyprus Question again in 1974. As a consequence, once the Greek-Cypriots carried out a massacre on their Turkish counterparts, Turkey countered this time with a military intervention within the same Guarantor Treaty framework. The United States then stepped up to the plate with an arms embargo.

    Turkish-U.S. relations passed fairly uneventfully through the '80s and '90s, with Prime Minister Turgut Özal siding with the United States and switching off the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik Pipeline at the start of the 1991 Gulf Crisis. The situation changed dramatically when Turkey declined its support in the U.S. invasion of Iraq on March 1, 2003. Things hit rock bottom with the Suleymania Incident, i.e. the arrest of a group of Turkish soldiers by U.S. forces with the allegation that the former were planning assassinations on local Kurdish leaders.

    It is said that the Democrat Party, which grabbed a majority in both the U.S. House and the Senate during the past mid-term elections, might put the Bush Administration on trial for the wrong Iraq policy if they win the Presidential election in 2008.

    In this context, various media organizations are suggesting that Turkish-U.S. relations will go beyond critical mass and unravel completely on April 24, 2007 when the Armenian Genocide Bill is scheduled to pass in the United States

    I don't agree with these types of interpretations simply because of the following:

    Iraq and the ‘genocide' bill:
    U.S. political history shows that even though there are severe differences in viewpoints between the Democrat and Republican parties regarding domestic policy, their foreign affairs are pretty much the same. In this context, populist sound bites propagated during the election campaign in the quest for votes are more or less tossed down the disposal after the election. This is due to the fact that the “Great Middle East Project” was drafted during the Democratic Clinton Administration.

    Consequently, for the United States to get through the self-induced Iraq Syndrome with the least amount of damage possible will depend entirely on how it mends its relations with the Muslim world. Though we can say the Cold War is a concept of the past, how the United States keeps Russia and China in check in the Middle East and the Caucasian region will depend mainly on how it decides to proceed with its alliance with Turkey.

    As for the Armenian Genocide Bill, one of the top domestic policy concerns in the United States is infighting amongst religious and ethnic groups comprising of its own citizens. If, in fact, presidents accepts the claims regarding Armenian Genocide, which is not based on any court decision, on April 24, 2007 or in 2008, there may be more harm done to the social fabric in the United States than to Turkish-American relations. A hint of what I'm referring to occurred on September 16, 2005 at a House Foreign Relations Committee discussion panel on the Armenian Genocide Law Proposition. I had also participated in this meeting, whereas the first reaction came from an African-American Congressman, who exclaimed something to the effect of, “Go ahead and mess in other countries' affairs when you should be sweeping the porch of your own home, my fellow African-Americans have yet to receive an apology for what we were subject to for the past century or so.” In an era that is full of domestic problems, it doesn't appear possible that U.S. administrations are going to follow populist, risky policies.

    In short, are Turkish-U.S. relations, which have survived 177 consecutive years without interruption, and have been put through the wringer once before with the Armenian diaspora, and twice by the Greek lobby, are going to reach a breaking point a second time because of the Armenian Diaspora? I don't think so, but we have to wait and see.
    Nursen Mazici is a professor of political science at the Marmara University of Istanbul.

    The second chance for rapprochement with Armenians misses
    Turkish government decided to keep the inauguration of Akdamar Church low profile since the Armenian diaspora is not eager to participate.
    March 21, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
    The inauguration of Akdamar Church on March 29 will not be an opportunity for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia and Turkey will miss the second chance for rapprochement after the assassination of Hrant Dink, said sources familiar with the issue talking to the Turkish Daily News yesterday.

    In the eve of a resolution proposed to the U.S. House of Representatives for acceptance of genocide claims, Ankara was ambitious for the opening ceremony of Akdamar Armenian Church. Turkey aimed to prevent the acceptance of Armenian claims for evaluating the 1915-1919 events as genocide by the United States with the resolution proposed to the House of Representatives and planned to show the respect of Turkish society to different cultures and religions by opening Akdamar Church.

    More than 200 Armenians from New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Paris were invited in addition to the Armenians from Yerevan including the clergymen and representatives of nongovernmental organizations who attended Dink's funeral. The invitations were prepared in coordination with the Turkish-Armenian's Patriarch, Mesrob Mutafyan, said the Turkish sources. In the invitations sent by the Van governor, Turkey excluded the extremist Tashnaks and preferred to invite moderate Armenians. Just a week before the ceremony, Turkey is now suspicious about the attendance of Armenians.

    Despite the invitation it is still unclear whether Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosian will attend the inauguration of the newly renovated 10th century Akdamar Church and Yerevan did not give an answer to the invitation conveyed by the Turkish Embassy to Tibilisi. In response, Ankara adopted a low profile policy on Akdamar, saying, “There is no need to exaggerate, we are opening historical places every year.”

    Akdamar Church or the Church of the Holy Cross is a ruined Armenian Church in Van of Eastern Anatolia.

    The expectations of Armenians were not realized said Kaan Soyak, the co-chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Council, talking to TDN. Soyak criticized Turkish foreign policy for being addicted to Azerbaijan and expressed the disappointment of Armenians for not opening the Turkish-Armenian border for inauguration day. He claimed that most of the moderate Armenians who wish to come would prefer to protest in response to Ankara's policies.

    Turkish sources on the other hand argued a direct flight between Yerevan and Van airport is impossible saying, “It is not possible to sustain security measures in Van because of technical reasons.”

    Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic relations, and the border between the two countries has been closed since 1993. Hopes have risen for normalization of Turkish-Armenian ties when the Turkish government invited Armenian officials and representatives of the diaspora to participate in Dink's funeral ceremony. He was shot to death in Istanbul in January. But no visible development in the name of reconciliation between the two countries has been observed since then.

    Karakin II did not receive the invitation:
    Ankara invited the Patriks and Metropolits of Damascus, Aleppo, Moscow, Bukresh, Beirut as well as the five Orthodox representatives from Yerevan. In that context, head of the Armenian Orthodox Church Karekin II was invited by the governor of Van, Niyazi Tanilir. “Karekin II will not attend because he only got a note for the invitation, the invitation was not sent,” said the sources who are in contact with Yerevan. Turkish sources on the other hand asserted that it is not intentional and it is false.

    What others say
    March 21, 2007
    Who are we Turks, really? Hasan Cemal, Milliyet
    First, who am I? What is my ethnic origin? My grandfather is from the Caucasus, the Gabardey branch of the Cirsassians. When he was a child he was sent from Krasnador, on the shore of the River Kuban, to Istanbul to become a military officer in the Ottoman army.

    My grandmother is a Muslim Georgian. She is a member of a family that was once exiled from Georgia to Cyprus and then moved to Istanbul.

    My other grandmother is from Rumelia. Her family came to Istanbul from Greek Macedonia. My other grandfather was born in Mytilene, which in the Aegean Sea. When he was a child, towards the end of the 19th century, he was sent to Istanbul to become a military officer.

    And I am a Turk. Who are you? And Who are “we”?

    After the War of Independence (1918-22), Muslims formed the majority of the population in Anatolia. However, the ethnic structure was varying from one end of the spectrum to the other with its Turks, Kurds, Albanians, Georgians, Circassians, Bosnians, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Chechens, Lazs, Assyrians, etc. It was an extraordinarily colorful picture.

    Besides, out-comers to Anatolia, those who migrated from old Ottoman lands during the decline of the empire, formed about one third of the population.

    Following the War of Independence, to create a nation-state, to establish a secular republic and to step into democracy out of these differences was very hard and painful indeed. Nothing seemed to fit.

    Even today, Turkish nationalism dominates other identities. In other words, despite the 85 years that has passed since the establishment of the republic, if we still ask ourselves, “Who are we?” and if the identity related issues still causes stress in the country, then the situation indicates that many things in Turkey still do not fit the place.

    For this reason, it is important to raise this for discussion. So, the daily Milliyet in the company of the KONDA research group under Tarhan Erdem's leadership launched the most comprehensive research of Turkish society. And that is a positive development.

    It is good to particularly underline a judgment reached at the end of this research. It noted, “Every one in this land wishes to live in peace and calm.”

    There cannot be a more humanely wish than this. However, unfortunately only a handful of societies, countries and developed democracies have such a state of exception.

    Yes, peace and calm. But, how? That's the question. There are two main roads to social peace. One is prosperity and education. The other is democracy and law.

    Turkey needs to travel a long way if one looks at KONDA's research published in the Milliyet, from these windows. Unemployment is a deadly issue. Income distribution is unjust. The education system is in shatters. Equality is at a tragic level. Massive migration is a terrible problem. Nothing about ethnic and religious identities seems to fit the proper place.

    That's why we need to ask, “Who are we?” with no hesitation and to discuss the answer among political parties and politicians especially, and to spend time on such matters need to be prioritized on the way to social peace.

    Arinç sends a letter to Pelosi
    Turkey is not in a state of irresponsible denial, Arinç says in letter to Pelosi

    Parliament Speaker Arinç sends a letter to his US interlocutor Nancy Pelosi today not to endorse the Armenian genocide resolution. In his letter Arinç says, 'With respect to 1915 events, Turkey is not in a state of irresponsible denial' and blames Armenia for not opening archives.

    March 21, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

    In the name of Turkish Parliament members, Parliament Speaker Bülent Arinç sends a letter with 2 annexes about the 1915-1919 events to the Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi today to drop the resolution about Armenian genocide claims. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will get in contact with U.S. President George W. Bush soon, either by a phone call or a letter, said the Turkish sources.

    In the 4-pages letter obtained by the Turkish Daily News, Arinç said, “Armenians do not accept the invitations of Turkey to the historians for an impartial research purified from prejudices to find the real truth” and in the last part of his letter he adds, “With respect to 1915 events, Turkey is not in a state of irresponsible denial.” The letter of Arinç to Pelosi is expected to be conducted today by the Turkish Embassy to Washington, said the Turkish sources.

    Arguing that the 1915 events are discussed freely in Turkey, Arinç mentioned the proposal of the Turkish government to Armenia for a comprehensive study on archives in 2005. In the letter, the Turkish speaker recalled the invitation of Turkey to the historians from third countries, including the American ones.

    He also underlined that Turkey has opened the Ottoman archives for research while Armenians have been insisting on not opening them.

    Resolution 106 introduced in the House of Representatives lower chamber, on Jan. 30, calls for official recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide. It is not clear if or when the bill will come to the House agenda but the Armenian diaspora putting pressure for the acceptance of resolution before April 24.

    In the first page of his letter, Arinç underlined the importance of relations between the two countries in the last 50 years and continued, “If resolution 106 is accepted by the House of Representatives, Armenians will announce the baseless claims about 1915 as recognition by the United States. Such a development will be considered by Turkish society as U.S. support to Armenian claims.”

    Turks, Azeris and Georgians cementing strategic partnership
    Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya has reported that the Turkish, Azerbaijani and Georgian relationship has transformed into “a strategic partnership of perspective” and noted that Armenia has been left out of this axis due to issues with the region of Nagorno-Karabakh -- hotly disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia -- and unfavorable diplomatic relations.

    In an opinion column published yesterday it was reported that despite pessimistic forecasts “new integration initiatives” are becoming effective, referring to the business alliance of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, adding, “This integration has started to advance since the mid-1990s because of the incredible petroleum and natural gas reserves in the region of the Caspian Sea.”

    The article went on to say that Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku is a “new and determined player” in the field of energy and that Russia, along with many other countries, viewed the Baku-Supsa petroleum line, which transports Azeri petroleum to the Black Sea, as a political project rather than a financial initiative. “Despite all eyes being on Azerbaijan, the oil pipeline was established and big companies decided on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Cehyan (BTC) oil pipeline, as well as a Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline,” the columnist wrote.

    Turkey took advantage of resources Russia ignored. Following the realization of the BTC project, the joint decision of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to construct a Baku-Tbilisi-Javakheti (Ahilkelek)-Kars railway is indicative of a regional axis, according to the article in the Russian newspaper. The article goes on to say that Russia has chosen to remain outside of the axis due to a difference political opinions and maintains that a BTC project will not be lucrative while exerting efforts to prevent the realization of this project.

    The article notes that “Turkey, like any county that has economic strength, took advantage of the opportunity [to partake in such a project].” The article praised Turkey for being helpful in resolving a problem between Azerbaijan and Georgia in the early 1990s surrounding food items, adding: “Of our course Turkey benefited from its involvement as well. Unfortunately, Armenia, the third country of the Southern Caucus region, is becoming exceedingly excluded from the strengthening axis of integration between these nations because of its lack of diplomatic relations with Turkey and the lack of a resolution in the matter of [Nagorno-] Karabakh.

    However, if Armenia’s relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan were to improve, the integration could gain speed. Moreover, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanyan has stated that Yerevan -- Armenia’s capital -- must work towards involvement in such projects. Armenia, which is under blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey and can only establish relations with the rest of the world through Georgia, must know that it is important for it to become involved in regional integration initiatives, the article noted.

    Today’s Zaman Istanbul

    Why does the White House oppose the Armenian bill?
    There are five main reasons why the Bush administration doesn’t want Congress to endorse the Armenian genocide resolution:
    1. History: Accepting the resolution and further recognition of the tragedy the ethnic Armenians experienced during the Ottoman period would harm American efforts to bring its relationship with Turkey to the next level.

    2. Yerevan: Identical letters from Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates noted that endorsement of the resolution would complicate the aim of normalizing the situation between Ankara and Yerevan.

    3. Congregation: Two months have passed since Hrant Dink’s murder. The slow advance of the investigation into the case and the increasing anxiety among Armenians is a reason for worries in America.

    4. Nationalism: Official congressional records show the Bush’s administration believes that Turkey is going through an “identity crisis” and that “some new nationalism has turned into joint components of Turkey’s political spectrum.” 5) Cooperation: It is felt that if the resolution were to be endorsed, Ankara could limit its cooperation with Washington.


    If Dink had done what Perinçek did
    Orhan Pamuk owes one part of his international fame, even if it is small, to his actions regarding the Armenian “genocide” case.

    While it was expected that he would stand up against the French bill in the name of freedom of expression in his Nobel prize acceptance speech, he preferred to “walk around” the subject. However, from the very beginning someone else took the action Pamuk didn’t dare or didn’t want to do. All of Turkey remembers Hrant Dink’s announcement that if the bill were passed he would go to Paris and deny the “genocide.” Through my contacts with Dink’s friends at Brussels after the trial for Dogu Perinçek, who was charged in Switzerland for denying the Armenian “genocide,” I have learned that he will do the same. That means if he were to be sentenced in France he would carry the issue to the European Court of Human Rights. I think that what Perinçek is doing is right, but I also think he is not the right person to do it. Pamuk couldn’t do it, Perinçek is the wrong person to do it and we couldn’t keep Dink alive. Hrant Dink was a man of honor and he was a big opportunity for Turkey.


    Turkish-American economic relations and the Armenian issue
    MURAT YULEK m.yulek@todayszaman.com
    “The Sultan expressed his sympathy with the government of the United States for the troubles in which it is involved, and the hope that the war would soon terminate with maintenance of the American Union in all its original power and integrity with the restoration of peace and concord among the American people. I am happy in thus being able to report to you that the United States has a true and loyal friend in the sovereign of this great empire.”

    So wrote Edward Joy Morris, “Minister to Turkey,” to Secretary of State William E. Seward in 1861, after his initial audience with the sultan. In 1862, the Turkish grand vizier gave tangible support to the Union position by issuing a decree interdicting entrance into Ottoman waters and ports of privateers operating against US shipping. In 1865, Mr. Joy commented on the joyful excitement created in Turkey by General Grant’s victories at Petersburg and Richmond and the sadness following President Lincoln’s assassination. (R. Trask (1971), The United States Response to Turkish Nationalism and Reform 1914- 1939, The University of Minnesota Press)

    Early relations between the US and the Ottoman Empire were cordial and supportive. The bulk of the relationship centered around commerce and missionary activities. Until World War I, tangible results of these relations were a trade surplus in favor of the Ottoman Empire and many missionary schools, including Robert College.

    In the post-World War II period, major aspects of that picture changed significantly. Turkey, now a smaller country, gained political importance during the Cold War: It was the “standard bearer of the free world” and possibly the only major army in the East that could selflessly fight the communist monsters -- as they did with US soldiers in Korean War. Or so we thought in Turkey.

    That theory fell apart when Turks realized that their American allies were reluctant to support Turkey’s protests of local Greek pressures and, at times, horrible brutalities against the Turkish Cypriots. US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s letter in 1964 was just the beginning of that frustration.

    The Turkish-American relationship continued to have its ups and downs. The Turkish government enthusiastically supported Bush Sr. in the first Gulf war. But frustration followed: Turkey was unable to obtain any compensation for its ensuing economic losses.

    Subsequently, the Turkish Parliament rejected supporting Bush Jr. in the Iraq war. While that probably didn’t frustrate its people, it did frustrate the US government. The Turkish people were generally sympathetic to the US until the Iraq war. The US invasion of Iraq changed all that, as it has in many other countries.

    It is fair to say that the Turkish-American economic relationship has generally been overshadowed by these greater political ebbs and flows. Note, for example, that Turkish exports to the largest economy in the world is only around $5 billion (less than 6 percent of Turkey’s total exports and 0.5 percent total US imports) while its imports are around $6 billion (4.5 percent of Turkish imports and 0.7 percent of US exports). It is fair to say that Turkey does not benefit from any special commercial treatment from the US (unlike Israel), while it is frequently lobbied by larger US interests such as weapons or aircraft manufacturers.

    However, it is also known that Turkey is criticized from time to time by Washington circles for exporting critical weapons systems. But Turkey never got back the uranium it had sent the US in the 1960s to be enriched under mutual agreement for use in its small, peaceful research reactors.

    The powerful Armenian diaspora is now trying to bring the genocide claims to Congress. Renowned US historians such as Bernard Lewis and Justin McCarthy have a lot to say about the truth behind these claims, which are becoming a major international case of sheer abuse of historical tribulations by Armenians and Turks alike.

    That abuse by the diaspora Armenians does not help Armenia, which currently is busy trying to feed its military invasion force in Azerbaijan by taking away valuable economic resources from its people and development.

    But if taken seriously by the US Congress, that abuse, which has a proven ability to mislead many ordinary people, will not help Turkish-American economic relations, which are so far from where they could be.

    Armenia, Turkey Wait While U.S. Considers Recognizing Genocide
    Jason Motlagh | 19 Mar 2007
    World Politics Watch Exclusive

    YEREVAN, Armenia -- Inside the tomb-like confines of the Armenian genocide museum, a haunting narrative of images and words unfolds. A list is posted at tour's end of Western nations that have officially recognized the tragedy, minus one major endorsement: the United States.

    U.S. lawmakers have recently introduced non-binding resolutions that would declare up to 1.5 million Armenians victims of genocide at the hands of Turkish forces almost a century ago. Support is reported to be strong enough in the House to pass the measure if it goes to a vote; the Senate introduced a similar resolution last Wednesday with 21co-sponsors.

    Historians and analysts here say recognition from Washington is long overdue since evidence validating the case for genocide is "clear-cut, more than factual, and very obvious." But Turkey's priority status as a vital strategic ally in a troublesome region stands in the way.

    "Although Turkey needs the U.S. more, the U.S also needs Turkey right now . . . so it's not realistic to think the government will formally acknowledge [the genocide]," Hagop Avedikian, editor of Azg newspaper, said. He noted that every April 24, a day of observance, President Bush "highlights the genocide and explains it without using the word."

    In the past month, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit and a parliamentary delegation have met with congressmen and administration officials to derail the resolution. Gul was quoted as saying the delivery of a U.S. genocide resolution would inflict "lasting damage" on bilateral relations.

    Such statements were not lost on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who last week wrote a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other senior members warning against a measure they said would harm national security interests.

    Passage of the House resolution "could harm American troops in the field, constrain our ability to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and significantly damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey," the letter said according to the Associated Press.

    Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried has said Turkey might respond by closing Incirlik Air Base, used for operations in nearby Iraq and Afghanistan. Rice and Gates pointed out how the Turkish military severed all ties with the French military and terminated defense contracts after the French National Assembly voted last October to criminalize denial of the genocide.

    The Israeli Knesset killed a motion to discuss possible recognition earlier this month, fearing a political crisis with Ankara.

    Failure to pass the resolution would be "too bad because it could be a very catalytic moment for rapid recognition by other states," Hayk Demoyan, director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, said. U.S. backing could give Armenians leverage to press for compensation and possible territorial claims, he added.

    However, a raft of Western countries have already recognized the genocide and made denial a punishable offense. An ethnic Turkish politician, Dogu Perincek, received a $2,500 fine and a suspended prison sentence from a Swiss court last Friday for calling the genocide an "international lie" at a political rally two years ago.

    The dispute is over whether hundreds of thousands of Armenians who died between 1915-23 were part of systematic eradication campaign by Ottoman Turkey. Armenians contend mass killings and forced deportations amount to genocide, while the Turkish government insists the deaths were the result of chaos amid the breakdown of the former empire.

    Critics say the Turkish state's reluctance to confront the Armenian issue is but one facet of a broader identity crisis that is starting to show ugly symptoms.

    "Textbooks [in Turkey] have for decades placed taboos on certain issues. To confront them would be catastrophic for the national identity," Demoyan said.

    The latest schism followed the Jan. 19 killing of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in broad daylight on a heavily trafficked Istanbul street. An unprecedented number of people, estimated at more than 100,000, turned out in protest, chanting: "We are all Armenians."

    The 17-year-old killer claimed to have shot him because "he had insulted the Turks" and said he felt no remorse. Photographs surfaced soon after his arrest showing the teenager posing with smiling police officers beneath a Turkish flag.

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said the protesters went "too far."

    There are renewed fears in Armenia that the backlash from the military-dominated state will be felt by Armenians and other ethnic minorities in the near future. After he saw the demonstrations on TV after Dink's murder, Avedikian said he was afraid, along with many of his Armenian friends in Istanbul and elsewhere, who are "convinced Turkey will become even more radical."

    Avedikian asserted that the softer line that has prevailed in recent years may change in light of now-suspended EU accession talks. Appeals to nationalist sentiment may also be a tactic to secure votes in the run-up to November parliamentary elections.

    "I have a lot of faith in Turkish intellectuals, but not in the army and those connected with it," he said.

    Leftist intellectuals have been hounded by Turkish prosecutors over the past two years for alleged violations of Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which holds that "insulting Turkishness" is a criminal offense. They include Dink and Nobel prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk, who was put on trial for recognizing the genocide, though his case was later dropped.

    Pamuk emigrated to the United States after continued harassment and death threats.

    Jason Motlagh is a deputy editor for UPI.

    Image: Early-20th Century poster of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, which raised money for refugees of the conflict during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

    © 2007, World Politics Watch LLC

    Turks then, now and tomorrow
    By Tulin Daloglu
    March 20, 2007
    ANKARA, Turkey. -- Four years ago, President Bush portrayed the war in Iraq as the latest front in the "global democratic revolution" led by the United States. Today, hardly anyone remains hopeful that Iraq will turn into a pro-Western democracy like Japan or Germany. The idea that "freedom leads to peace" has proven too simplistic in envisioning such a gigantic change for the Middle East. And little attention has been paid to how Iraq's experience has impacted Turkey, the only democratic neighboring country with a Muslim population.

    The chaos in Turkey's neighborhood threatens its welfare. The war in Iraq has rejuvenated European prejudices toward Muslims, making Turkey's hard-won accession talks with the European Union a painful ordeal. For the first time in the country's history, the public is questioning the wisdom of Turkey's Western alliance. Finally, the presidential and general national elections will both take place this year. And for the first time, a presidential election is seen as a threat to the principals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey.

    I sat down with former Turkish president and prime minister Suleyman Demirel, a leading figure in Turkish politics for almost half a century, to discuss these issues.

    In Turkey, the parliament chooses the president. The process begins on April 16, and if things go according to plan, the new president will begin on May 17. However, the parliament's decision could be challenged even after the next president takes office.

    "Our election law does not bring fairness in representation," Mr. Demirel said, "And today's government represents only 26 percent of the voters in 2002 election." He recalls a similar dilemma when Turgut Ozal was elected president. "At that time ... [h]e was under severe criticism. If he were not to pass away [before his term ended], he would, indeed, have resigned from presidency," Mr. Demirel told me.

    Mr. Demirel suggests that it is time for the Turkish people to elect their president with a majority vote. He noted that in 2000, 49 deputies and nine ministers who are members of the current government today, including Parliament Chairman Bulent Arinc and members of the True Path Party (an opposition party), submitted a bill with 185 signatories calling for the people to elect the president.

    For the first time, there is a question about whether the presidency may be used to threaten Ataturk's Turkey. There is talk inside Ankara's beltway that nothing prevents Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from becoming the next president. Mr. Demirel doesn't see Mr. Erdogan derailing the Kemalist revolution -- with a sigh, though. "No one can divert Turkey from its European project," he said.

    "The issue is the current government's loyalists," the former president said. The Justice and Development Party has the same party base as the Islamist National Vision Party (Milli Gorus). "All political parties that have been founded on the principals of Milli Gorus like National Order, National Salvation, Welfare, Virtue -- they are all closed by the Constitutional Court because of their religious stand," Mr. Demirel said. "Today, the current government has nothing explicitly [that ties them to such ideology]. But because they have the same base, the discussions are inevitably taking place."

    Today, Turkey's secular system is still challenged by some who believe that God's law should replace man-made law. Those opponents of secular Turkey claim to be the religious elite, who profess a desire to live in accordance with Islam. Their vision, however, is inspired by the ancient European forms of "totalitarianism" and rejects the idea of separating the spiritual and temporal realms of the faith. Those principles cannot coexist with democracy. Yet, they claim democracy allows them the right to live as they wish.

    Turkey chose to adopt Western law, putting aside 230 articles of Shariah law -- providing particularly the secularization of "civil" law. "When we say 'Europe,' we mean European values," Mr. Demirel said. "[T]here is no reason for Turkey to go back... [I]n this changing world, some of us long for those old days. [However,] in this free and democratic country, no one should see [those people] as enemies. [Those ideas] were present when the republic was founded, and are still present... [W]hether Turkey becomes a member to the EU in five, 10, 15 years or not at all, it can't break away from thinking 'European.' There are enough citizens of the Turkish Republic to make sure that the project does not die away."

    The war in Iraq, however, refreshes the myth that Muslims are the victims of Western superiority. That is taking a significant toll in Turkey's identity crisis. Today, a near-majority identifies by religion "first." And it's a direct strike to the Kemalist revolution, which replaced a political unity based on religion with one based on nationality.

    The leadership does matter. And the stakes for Ataturk's Turkey are high. Yet as Mr. Demirel sees it, today's Turkey is much stronger than the days when he became the prime minister for the first timealmost five decades ago.

    Tulin Daloglu is a free-lance writer.
    © 2007 The Washington Times, LLC

    Turkey will acknowledge Armenian Genocide if West and U.S. demand this
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The danger to the Turks is that the Armenians will want recompense for losing their land, just as the Jews of Europe demanded from the Germans, Robert Fisk, the Independent's Middle East correspondent said in an interview with Armenian Reporter. `I suppose the EU will have to help Turkey out with that. But you can't go on forever denying it. It will come back and back and back. And then you die and then there's your children and their children's children, and it'll keep on going, like it does with the Palestinians and anyone who's been dispossessed; they'll keep it going. You know you will not get Turkish Armenia back, it's not going to happen - maybe in 10,000 years, but not now - but at least you can have that recognition. Of course there will be claims. After all, American insurance companies have at last started paying out insurance claims against victims of the Armenian Genocide - or `the Armenian tragedy,' as they call it. Even the insurance companies will not call it by its rightful name,' he said.

    `More and more Turkish academics are trying to push it through. The problem is, if the Western governments, including the United States, stood up to the Turks and said they must acknowledge it, they would. But since they don't, the Turks don't have to. They get away with it,' Mr Fisk underscored.

    US Administration submits a report to the House of Representatives
    The US Administration prepared a report and submitted it to the members of the House of Representatives. The report says that if the Armenian Genocide resolution is passed, it will be a serious blow to the US, Cumhuriyet Turkish newspaper reports. The report said, in part, "Turkey is the partner of JSF project, the new generation war plane. Turkey will buy 106 planes, and the project is worth 10 billion USD. Turkey will purchase 30 new F-16 war jets in return for 1.65 billion USD. More than 200 F-16s are being renovated in return for 1.6 billion USD. Turkey will buy 1.3 billion USD of air defense system in 2007. Turkish army wants 52 helicopters to be used against the terrorist organization PKK, and Black Hawk is one of the alternatives. Turkey will purchase 21-26 million USD of zeppelins from the US to fight against infiltration of terrorists from Iraq".

    As for the cooperation in Iraq, the report said, "Turkey opened Incirlik Base to the US, there are 22 US war planes there. Turkey admitted 16 US war ships in its ports, and nine of them are supplying goods to the troops in Iraq, while seven of them are transporting oil. 25% of the oil used by US troops in Iraq is sent from Habur. 60 percent of the air cargo sent to the US troops in Iraq passes through Incirlik Base."

    Turkey’s Power Lies in its Historical Depth
    BULENT KENES b.kenes@todayszaman.com
    Aware of its strategic depth since the years of the Cold War era, and using every opportunity to turn this asset into a profit in the international power markets, in recent years Turkey has been rapidly gaining consciousness as regards its cultural and historical depth.
    The fact that Turkey’s history is not limited to 85 years and that it is in reality profound and straddles a colossal geography is now becoming embedded in the national consciousness, signaling reconciliation with the past.

    Up until a few years ago neither the Malazgirt Victory of the Seljuk Turks in 1071, which opened the gates of Anatolia for the Turks, nor the conquest of Istanbul on May 29, 1453, which began a new era in world history, nor other great victories of the Ottoman era were as recognized as they deserved to be and were not celebrated in a way befitting their glory. A weird historical understanding that limits Turks’ history to that of the Turkish Republic -- which can be considered very short in comparison to the vast history of the Turks -- and that disregards the pre-republic Turkish history was prevalent.

    This approach, which had a principle of sullying and denigrating Turkish history before the republic at every opportunity and which ignored it when it was unable to denigrate it, was an elitist one denying its roots and descent. As the effect of this misconstrued understanding started to wane in recent years the familiarity of the Turkish people with their history, of which they should be proud, and with their cultural depth, a natural concomitant of such consciousness, began to increase. Also as the new generations reclaimed the historical victories the self-confidence of the Turkish people grew stronger and in turn they started endeavoring to secure themselves a more deserving place in the balance of international power. Nor would it be meaningless to evaluate Turkey’s heading forward in the recent years from this perspective.

    For instance until several years ago the anniversary of the Çanakkale Victory, which gave a whole new direction to world history, would be passed off with insipid celebrations. While the fact of how profoundly this victory had affected world history was confined to a couple of titles existing only on the unlovable pages of history coursebooks that students were made to memorize, we would watch with envy the dawn services on the Gallipoli Peninsula held enthusiastically by an annually growing number of the children and grandchildren of Anzacs, whose nonsensical adventures, into which they had been dragged by their colonial rulers, ended in a crushing defeat. During those years the memorial cemeteries of Anzacs were well maintained whereas ours were forlorn, alone and doleful.

    As the Turkish people delved further back into the depths of their historical greatness, which had long been kept from them with great care on the pretext of a “revolutionary reasoning,” the tide turned; the Çanakkale War Memorial was visited by some 3 million Turks in 2006, whereas this figure was a mere 300,000 only a couple of years ago.

    With a desire to see the lands where their ancestors, most of whom were very young, had sacrificed their lives in a selfless manner that changed the flow of the world history forever by stopping the Allied Forces that attempted to take Çanakkale with an incomparably greater number of soldiers and arms, some 3 million people converged on Çanakkale. They offered prayers to the spirit of their grandfathers. As people visited the tombs of their grandfathers the ideals of these sublime-spirited people visited and filled the minds and hearts of the visitors. The state did not turn a blind eye to this sensitivity and improved the war cemeteries and completed infrastructural works to make these sites more accessible.

    Turkey will grow stronger to the extent it leans on the power springing from the depths of its history. Actually in recent years we have come to realize that reducing Turkish history to an Independence War and the history of reforms, however important they may be, serves no one. How saddening it is to see that the Turkish education system’s “imprisoning” Turkish history and the developments during World War I in a few titles chosen with great care in an attempt to keep emotions against other nations in check while ignoring very important pages in history provides Armenians with an advantage in their fight to extract an ferocious national identity from their enmity against Turks. How strange it is that they have started pressurizing Turkey with their unsubstantiated genocide claims which they “over decorated” with historical lies!

    The pre-republic era did not cease to exist by being considered non-existent. On the contrary the responsibility stemming from their historical and cultural depth did not leave Turks, although they attempted to escape it. Is there any among you who cannot see the new responsibilities loaded on the back of Turkey by each new development of the last 15 years in the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East?

    A Careful Policy Is Necessity
    Ali Sirmen
    CUMHURIYET- The restored Armenian Akdamar Church in Van will open next week. In addition to the regular flights between Yerevan and Istanbul, a Yerevan-Van route was started to facilitate guests coming from Armenia for the opening ceremony, and this lead to debates. The General Staff raised concerns over the issue. Foreign Ministry spokesman Levent Bilman said that they hadn't been informed. Meanwhile, government circles are staying silent. Firstly, I would like to stress that restoring and opening this church is a positive initiative but that more careful relations are needed between Turkey and Armenia, and I agree with those who disapprove of the Van-Yerevan direct flights. When I was talking about this issue recently with retired Ambassador Sukru Elekdag, he emphasized certain points about the issue. In light of this, it should be mentioned once again Ankara should be very careful in its relations with Yerevan.

    The Turkish Republic was one of the first countries to recognize Armenia two days before the US, which declared its independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union, on Dec. 16, 1991. Then Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel indicated in a message he sent on Dec. 24, that this recognition was conditional on Armenia having friendly relations with its neighbors. At that time, Armenia was being governed by Ter Petrosian, who foresaw good relations with Turkey and stressed the future over the past. However, Tashnaks drove the moderate Petrosian out and made a fanatical policy dominant in Armenia. Turkish-Armenian relations started to worsen, and Ankara closed its borders in 1993 and air-space to Armenia the next year. In its declaration of independence of Dec. 23, 1990, Armenia showed certain parts of Anatolia within the border of western Armenia, and it states in its Constitution that Mt. Ararat the symbol of Armenia. Now Armenia is putting pressure on Turkey through foreign capitals to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide and also trying to make Turkey open its border gates. In addition, Armenia's policy of seeking Greater Armenia is still being pushed. Under this policy, firstly the so-called genocide will be recognized and compensation and territorial claims against Turkey will follow.

    Armenia is successfully following its policy against Turkey. The so-called genocide was recognized in many countries, and it started normal flights by putting pressure on Turkey and it delivers food through Turkey via 4,000 tractor trailers. In addition, 70,000 Armenian citizens are currently working in Turkey illegally, because officials are overlooking this. In other words, while Turkey is following a hostile policy against Turkey, it's also mobilizing Western countries and overpowering Turkey's possibilities to put pressure on it. In short, Yerevan thinks that no matter what Turkey does, there will be no consequences for it. But Turkey can put great pressure on Armenia. Here, in an atmosphere in which a policy that responds to Turkey's national interests is needed, people and writers favor opening our border gates with Armenia and becoming friends with Yerevan in a way to isolate Azerbaijan. It's hard to understand this.

    'I would not object to negotiation'
    Sabah, Turkey
    March 17 2007
    The favorite presidential candidate in France, Bayrou said: "If I am elected, I would not object to the continuance of negotiations just like Merkel. I will continue French national policy. I am against Armenian bill."

    'I was against Turkey, but...'

    We spoke with Christian Democrat Bayrou who became popular in the elections suddenly.

    Referring to the Armenian genocide denial bill waiting at the senate, he said: "I do not think the first law (recognizing genocide) is affirmative. French president can say "I believe in genocide" representing the country. However, it is wrong to enact this as a law. Thousands of Armenians experienced a tragedy at the beginning of the last century. But this should not be a matter of law; it should be a matter for historians."

    Could Sarkozy change his attitude to Turkey?
    March 17, 2007
    Gila Benmayor
    We are having similar presidential pains with France, the country that we went through a tension period due to the Armenian bill last fall.

    If you glance at the French media, you realize that the presidential election tops the daily agenda, just like it is the case in Turkey. Almost on the same dates, it will be revealed who the president will be both in Turkey and in France.

    From the point of Turkey, to follow French presidential election closely is a must due to varying reasons. One is that the French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, as the most powerful candidate, is known with his stance against Turkey's full membership to European Union. He adopts such a tough attitude that he could even say, “Membership of Turkey could end the European Union.”

    The Socialist Party's candidate Segolene Royale follows Sarkozy in the presidential race. And Royale passes the ball to the French public. “I respect the choice of French people,” she says.

    French presidential election also bares significance for the future of EU. We heard this from the president of the Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACFCI), Jean François Bernardin, during his recent visit to Istanbul and Ankara as the guest of Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB).

    The uncertain future of Europe:
    According to Bernardin, whom we had a chance to talk at a dinner, the EU is facing grave domestic issues and fails to overcome the lack of leadership. “I don't know which direction Europe is heading towards. Every EU member has a different concept of Europe in mind,” said Bernardin, hoping that EU will be stronger again, under the leadership of France following the election.

    Bernardin represents approximately two million French facilities; he is an intellectual businessman pondering on Europe's future. He is also the owner of a best-seller titled “I Love You France But I Am Angry At You” that newly hit on markets. The constant failure by France, which was among the world leaders of economic growth in the 1970s, unemployment and concerns on future made Bernardin write his book. “I don't want my children to leave this country,” he says.

    As for the remarks of the ACFCI Chairman regarding Turkish-French relations, I believe his observation is quite striking: “I don't know of Turkey well. Turkey is a country having an image issue in Europe and a country that changes rapidly. We realized in the French referendum that Turkey isn't known at all.”

    “Image and recognition,” an issue constantly bugging us, isn't it? The anti-Turkey atmosphere in France, doesn't it stem from the very same image problem?

    The Foreign Economic Relations Council (DEIK) Executive Committee Chair Rona Yircali, Turkish-French Business Council President Ugur Yüce and Turkey's former Ambassador to Paris Sönmez Köksal joined the dinner in which a few solutions to the image issue were raised as well.

    One of them is the student exchange between educational institutions of TOBB and ACFCI. To start the job with the youth seems a rational choice for both parties.

    The Turkish Year:
    Another suggestion is to cooperate for the “Turkish Year” announced in France for 2009. TOBB has also several projects including promotional activities for the “Turkish Year” in France.

    What is important here is that we have gained the support of ACFCI for the activities. However, let me tell to you that I have the feeling that we are late regarding the subject.

    France, likewise, announced the period between the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007 as the “Armenian Year”. As part of the “Armenian Year”, for instance, there is an ongoing exhibition titled “Sacred Armenia” in the Louvres Museum. Leading French magazines cannot find enough words to praise the “Sacred Armenia.” I wonder if we will open an exhibition at the Louvres for the activities of the “Turkish Year.”

    Is there any preparation for such an exhibition? Aside from TOBB businessmen, what is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism planning for the “Turkish Year?”

    Since everything in Turkey is done as the habit of “last minute,” unfortunately I don't have much hope for any detailed works on the subject matter.

    Anyways, let me end my article by a rosy statement of Bernardin about Turkey-France relations. “You go through a change when you become a present and undertake the responsibility of entire country,” he says. “And if Sarkozy becomes president, I believe his opinion about Turkey will change.”

    Gül warns against genocide resolutions
    March 17, 2007
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül yesterday leveled criticism at parliaments abroad that pass resolutions recognizing the killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as genocide and warned them not to be deceived by what he said were games.

    “I hope that those who pursue policies over the alleged genocide remember terrorist incidents and see how they generate terrorists by throwing support to certain groups,” Gül told a ceremony for the commemoration of Turkish diplomats who died as a result of terrorist attacks abroad while serving the Foreign Ministry.

    “I also hope they remember how such groups carry out terrorist activities even in countries which are known to be the most civilized and that they are not deceived by such games,” he added.

    Several parliaments, including those of France, Canada and Poland, have passed resolutions backing Armenian genocide claims. None of the governments of European Union countries - except France - have endorsed any resolution recognizing the alleged genocide.

    Gül said Armenian terrorist organizations and outlawed international groups caused the death of a number of Turkish diplomats but made sure that none of the diplomats from the ministry refrained from taking over Turkish posts abroad having seen such examples.

    “The entire world knows very well that the Turkish nation has never hesitated to risking their lives for such elevated values,” he added. Gül emphasized that everyone should learn lessons from the past experiences and see that terror is not a way out.

    State Dept. official points to political rivalry between Erdogan party, military
    Genocide measure to hit strategic, military ties with Turks, US officials warn Congress

    March 17, 2007
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

    Senior U.S. administration officials urged Congress on Thursday not to endorse resolutions defining last century's mass killings of Armenians in the OttomanEmpire as genocide, warning that the measures' passage would deeply hit strategic and military cooperation with Turkey, including a likely closure to U.S. forcesof a critical air base.

    "They (Turkey) could, for example, shut down or curtail operations at Incirlik (air base); they could slow down traffic at the Habur gate (with Iraq); they could restrict our overflight rights; they could do so wholly, they could do so in part," said Dan Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. He was testifying before a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe.

    "Turkey provides extensive logistic support to our troops in Iraq," Fried said. "This critical life line includes the cargo hub at Incirlik Air Base through which we ship 74 percent of our air cargo to Iraq." Also the land border crossing between Turkey and Iraq at the Habur gate accounts for delivery to Iraq of a substantial portion of the fuel used by coalition forces and the fuel, food and water consumed by Iraqis.

    Retired Gen. Joseph Ralston, U.S. special envoy for countering the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also warned against Incirlik's closure. "I could only add that a very high percentage of our air support of critical supplies going to Afghanistan, also go through Incirlik air base. And that it would be a very big blow to NATO, and to U.S. forces operating in Afghanistan, should that be disrupted," Ralston told the panel. A third U.S. official, Dan Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO, also said in his written testimony that the genocide resolutions' passage would hurt strategic cooperation with Turkey. "Turkey's contribution to the global war on terrorism and U.S. strategic objectives in the region is significant - it would all be at risk," Fata said. "More broadly, relations with a crucial NATO and regional ally would suffer a serious blow which would, in turn, significantly undermine our ability to achieve our near and longer-term goals in the Middle East and damage vital national security interests."

    A genocide recognition resolution has been pending in the House of Representatives since late January. A similar measure was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday. It is not clear if or when the resolutions could come to the agendas of both congressional chambers.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week sent a joint letter to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders, urging them to drop the measure pending there. As Turkey gears up for critical presidential and legislative elections later this year, Fried pointed to a political rivalry between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and the military. He qualified the AKP as an entity "with its foundation in Turkey's traditional Islamic culture but also including progressive and liberal elements." He defined the opposing group as "Turkey's secular elite, rooted in the civilian and military bureaucracies." "These two diverse political camps are in competition with each other," Fried said. The AKP and the military are at odds over matters related to secularism. Erdogan has not announced yet if he will stand as a candidate in May's presidential election in Parliament, but the military is believed to be staunchly opposing his election as head of state.

    On the problem on PKK attacks on Turkish targets from bases in neighboring Iraqi Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, Ralston called for a rapprochement between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds to jointly counter the terrorist group. "I tell the Kurds in northern Iraq 'the best friends you've got in the neighborhood are the Turks.' It's not the people to the south, it's not the people to the east or to the west," Ralston said. "And I tell the Turks, 'the best friends you've got in the neighborhood are the Kurds in northern Iraq'."

    He reiterated U.S. opposition to a potential unilateral Turkish military action inside northern Iraq to fight the PKK there.

    Why did Armenians kill our diplomats, families?
    Ilnur Cevik
    17 March 2007

    On Friday Turks remembered nearly four dozen diplomats and their family members who fell victim to Armenian terrorists in the past two decades … A solemn ceremony remembered the bright diplomats and their relatives who were gunned down by Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) terrorists in Europe and in North America.

    It was a sad occasion where we again remembered the question: Why did they kill these wonderful people who we knew so well?

    Was it for revenge for the so-called genocide the Armenians claim took place at the turn of the last century when the Ottoman Turks forced the Armenians to migrate after the Armenians collaborated with the Russians in World War I in eastern Turkey?

    We felt deep indignation when an ultranationalist youth recently killed a journalist colleague Hirant Dink who is of Armenian origin. We were equally hurt when we heard day after day of the assassination of our diplomats and their relatives in cold-blooded attacks by Armenian extremists.

    Thankfully this wave of terrorism against our diplomats has stopped thanks to international cooperation and collaboration against the ASALA Armenian terrorist organization. But those who encouraged the terrorist attacks are still active doing their best to defame Turkey and the Turks in a war of attrition. They are now investing their resources in financing anti-Turkish activities and spreading enmity towards Turkey …

    What is sad is that while the events that happened at the turn of the last century are highly controversial and open to debate, the terrorist activities of the Armenians that took place in a time span of the past two decades are beyond all debate and a fact. It is also a fact that Armenians living in Europe or in North American have never really condemned these assassinations. Some even applauded them, and we should remind the international community about this shame …

    Are the European parliamentarians who are so eager to pass resolutions acknowledging the so-called Armenian genocide by the Ottomans prepared to reprimand the world's Armenians for encouraging and even financing the killings of our diplomats and their loved ones only a couple of years ago?

    Are these parliamentarians aware that modern-day Armenians have forced many Azeri people from their homes and invaded Azerbaijan, and no one talks about this … No one thinks of reprimanding the Armenians for what they have done now, but then they try to condemn Turkey for what the Ottomans allegedly did a century ago …

    Let's stop living in the past and start facing the realities of today.

    Bush Administration Tries To Prevent Possible Rupture With Turkey
    Joshua Kucera
    The Bush administration is publicly opposing a resolution pending in the US Congress that would officially recognize the mass killings of Armenians during the Ottoman era as genocide. The administration’s opposition is grounded in concerns that Turkey could retaliate by refusing to cooperate with the US war in Iraq.

    Such resolutions have been routinely proposed in Congress, but one has never passed. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. This year, however, legislators appear more likely than ever to adopt a resolution. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, is on record as supporting passage of the resolution. The murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in January also seems to have influenced the attitudes of some US representatives. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. A vote on the resolution could occur in April.

    At a Congressional hearing on March 15, representatives from the US Department of State and Department of Defense said passage of the resolution would unnecessarily inflame anti-American sentiment in Turkey. The resolution “would undercut those voices emerging in Turkey who call for a truthful exploration of those events in pursuit of Turkey’s reconciliation with its own past, and with Armenia,” said Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. “Our fear is that passage of any such resolution would close minds and harden hearts.”

    The public backlash in Turkey could be so strong that the Turkish government would be forced to act, perhaps by closing or restricting US access to Incirlik Air Base, a key transportation hub for US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, restricting use of the Turkey-Iraq land border, or allowing fewer over-flight rights, Fried said.

    A genocide resolution would surely hamper US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, asserted Daniel Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO. “Passage of the resolution would inflame nationalist and anti-American sentiment [in Turkey] at a time when the Turkish public already has a very low opinion of the United States,” he said. “Turkey’s contribution to the global war on terrorism and US strategic objectives in the region is significant – it would all be at risk. More broadly, relations with a crucial NATO ally would suffer a serious and lasting blow, [undermining] our ability to achieve our near- and longer-term goals in the Middle East.”

    Fried and Fata’s comments before the Europe Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs came shortly after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent identical letters to members of Congress opposing the resolution. The letters noted that Turkey retaliated against France after the French parliament passed a resolution in October recognizing the Armenian killings as genocide, cutting all military contacts and withdrawing from negotiations on defense contracts. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

    In Fata’s written testimony to the subcommittee, he listed various contracts that US defense-related companies are pursuing with Turkey, totaling several billions of dollars.

    US officials stated that, although Armenia and the large Armenian diaspora in the United States steadfastly support the adoption of a resolution, Armenians in Turkey oppose it. “We hear from members of the 60,000-70,000 strong Armenian-Turkish community that any such resolution would raise popular emotions so dramatically as to threaten their personal security,” Fried said in his testimony.

    The Turkish government, lobbying against the resolution, is making the same point. Public relations officials for the Turkish Embassy have circulated newspaper editorials quoting Dink as being against such resolutions. “The winning of the empathy and compassion of the Turkish population is far more important than the adoption of Armenian resolutions in hundreds of parliaments elsewhere,” said Dink, quoted in an editorial in the Baltimore Sun.

    Editor’s Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

    March 16, 2007 © Eurasianet

    TTK President Halaçoglu responds to Sarafian’s claims
    President of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) Yusuf Halaçoglu said Armenian historian Ara Sarafian was disturbed by the institute’s initiative to study the archives of Tashnak, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation political party founded during the Ottoman Empire that now operates throughout the Armenian diaspora.

    In a television program he participated in, Halaçoglu said that they would have to investigate all archives including the Tashnak archives. “Between 1989 and 1992 I was in charge of those archives. I categorized them. Obviously I know which documents are included in the files. As Sarafian claims, there aren’t documents about each village and each neighborhood. There are collective documents. There are documents about how many Armenians were transferred from Elazig, where they went, and how long they stayed,” Halaçoglu said.

    “If they are not in the Ottoman archives, they might be in the patriarchate archives. Let’s study them. Why are they hesitant to open those archives?” Halaçoglu asked. “There is someone that does a lot of research there. He would know if such information could be found in them. I said I didn’t know of such a list. Surely, if there is, then we can research it together. But why is he backing away? Why is he giving up the study because of what I said without even doing any research?”

    The TTK president claimed that Sarafian is interested in finding a list of Armenians living in the region because he wants to file for property rights. Halaçoglu, who is not authorized to limit access to archives, said “I am a researcher, I am not on the archives administrative board.”

    Recalling that Sarafian had launched a study in 1991 when Halaçoglu was the president of the Ottoman archives, Halaçoglu said he gave 3,000 photocopies to the Armenian historian.

    “Doesn’t Sarafian know what happened in the region? He does. He is just trying to do demagoguery. What I said was very clear. I said our research should not include only the Ottoman archives but every other archive as well. I think our desire to research the Armenian and Tashnak archives made them hesitant because in those archives there are documents detailing what they did in Tashnak. For example, the names of countries they cooperated with and bought weapons from, which operation they launched and the names of people they killed.”

    Halaçoglu said Sarafian was trying to create a commotion instead of cooperating with them. “Their cooperative stance seems like a response to our recent attempts to conduct research,” Halaçoglu said. “This is a serious institute. We invite everyone to be serious. I don’t want to start a job by getting into polemics. If he really wants to do research or wants to resolve this problem then he can apply directly to us. We can decide the format of the research and plan out a strategy.”

    Recalling that Sarafyan believes 12,000 Armenians were killed in the region, Halaçoglu said that he welcomed any serious research to be conducted regarding the issue.

    Today’s Zaman Ankara

    FM Gül calls for peace while paying tribute to slain diplomats
    Commemorating martyred members of the Turkish Foreign Ministry at a ceremony held in Ankara, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül called for attention to the fact that certain radical Armenian groups who now support the recognition of an alleged Armenian genocide also once supported terrorist activities.

    Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül attended a ceremony in Ankara yesterday commemorating martyred members of the Foreign Ministry. Dozens of Turkish diplomats were slain in the past in attacks by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, or ASALA.

    "I hope that those who are attempting to politicize the alleged genocide will not play this game and instead remember past terror incidents, remember how those groups for which they feel sympathy now produced terrorists at the time, and remember how they carried out terrorist activities in countries assumed to be the most civilian," Gül said at the ceremony.

    "The entire world knows well that the Turkish nation didn't hesitate to sacrifice their lives for moral values," Gül added, referring to the fact that dozens of Turkish diplomats were murdered in the past in attacks by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). Thirty-nine Foreign Ministry diplomats buried in the Cebeci Cemetery in Ankara were killed as a result of Armenian terrorism or some other terrorist attacks.

    Expressing the pride that his ministry feels for the martyrs, Gül also called for peace. "We hope that everyone understands that peace is precious. When needed, the Turkish nation went to war, however, when needed, it never avoided peace as well. That's why we continue to spread peace in our neighborhood," he said.

    Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan as well as the relatives of martyred diplomats and ministry staff attended the ceremony.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    Genocide blunder in US Embassy almanac
    While debates continue in the US over a resolution presented to Congress on the alleged Armenian genocide, an almanac distributed by the US Embassy in Ankara lists Turkey as a country that has committed genocide.

    "The World Almanac and Book of Facts" was first published in 1868 by the New York World newspaper and has long been distributed by the US Embassy in Ankara. However this year's version contains a reference to the early 20th century killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide," a label Turkey vehemently denies.

    The most recent version of the annual almanac, which covers important events in US and world history, mentioned Turkey in the "Crime and Terrorist activities; Genocide" section.

    The almanac noted that the term "genocide" was first used by Dr. Raphael Lemkin in 1944 and asserts that the definition of the world contained the practices of "members of a group being killed, serious bodily injuries to members of a group, prevention of births and children being removed from the group."

    The almanac continued with the following statements:

    "The year: 1915, the event: Armenians being destroyed by Young Turks, the location: Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, estimated deaths: some 1 million."

    Other examples of genocide listed in the 2007 World Almanac of Books and Facts were the events that occurred in Ukraine in the 1930s, the experiences of Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany from 1933-1945, the activities of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia from 1975-1979, the murder of Iraqi Kurds in 1988, the experience of Bosnians from 1992-1995, the events that took place in Rwanda in 1994 and the events in Sudan's Darfur region ongoing since 2003.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    Patriarch Mesrob Gives Us All A Lesson…
    M. Ali Birand
    17 March 2007
    Turkish Daily News

    Men of religion are usually the more prominent people in their communities. They are wise men. This is what is expected from them. Some satisfy this expectation, some act in the contrary. The Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II has been gaining our respect with his wise approach for years. Free of any complexes, he is a patriarch who watches out for and protects his community.

    He is an individual who defends his country against the Armenian diaspora, who shows the courage to voice Turkey's opinions even against his church, who criticizes the unnecessary attitude in the world, including those in France, and who opposes anti-Turkish initiatives all over the world.

    There was a very important evaluation by the patriarch in last week's Agos newspaper:

    “… The Turkish nationalism and the Armenian nationalism… Neither side can be corrected. Stubbornness rules on both sides. It is very unfortunate as this blocks the younger generations. The Turks are still in the Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki) psychosis, under the Treaty of Sevres paranoia. They cannot take it on their prides. Like we ever do anything as such… The Armenians are no different. The Tasnak Party's publications are apparent…”

    Having such a patriarch leading the Armenian community is an opportunity for both our citizens of Armenian descent and for the rest of us.

    If only we know how to listen…

    If only we try to change ourselves, only if we try to think differently…

    Then no one can ever stop Turkey.

     Pyunik coach Samuel Petrosyan This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix

    Turkish, Armenian historians quarrel over failed study initiative
    Turkish and Armenian historians remained at odds following the failure last week of a planned joint study into the World War I events in eastern Anatolia, which Armenians claim amounted to genocide.

    Yusuf Halaçoglu, who heads the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), rejected accusations from British Armenian historian Ara Sarafian that their plans for a joint case study on the treatment of Armenians in Harput in eastern Anatolia in 1915 would not work because Halaçoglu said he could not provide some of the documents he requested.

    "I never said that we could not open some of the archives or that we cannot show some documents," Halaçoglu said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon. He noted that he did not have the legal authority to impose restrictions on archive documents. Halaçoglu, speaking last week, blamed the Armenian diaspora for failure of the initiative and said Sarafian bowed to pressure from the diaspora.

    "I particularly want to stress that Mr. Sarafian has probably been subject to pressure," Halaçoglu then said. "As a matter of fact, a news report published by [bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper] Agos said that the Armenian diaspora was very angry with Sarafian because of his proposal to study with Turkish historians."

    In London, Sarafian refuted claims that he was afraid to carry out research with a Turkish academic and said Halaçoglu had told him some of the documents he requested were not available in the Ottoman archives.

    "This is an incredible statement. I expect Halaçoglu to clarify what this means," he said in an interview with the Cihan News Agency. "I am not the one who gave up on the research. I am the one who proposed doing research in Turkey and would love to work in this direction."

    He said, however, that his proposal was no longer on the table because the documents, as Halaçoglu said, were not in the Ottoman archives. "If these documents are not available, then we of course cannot do any study," he was quoted as saying by Cihan.

    Sarafian also said he wanted to stay in contact with Turkey and that he favored dialogue. "I favor dialogue to show that at least those days when Turks and Armenians were killing each other are over," he said. "I believe there will be a consensus on that but I know that this will not be easy." He also said: "I am not a supporter of the Armenian diaspora who criticizes Turkey without talking to Turkish historians and looking into the archives. I am in favor of trying to work in and with Turkey as much as I can."

    Today’s Zaman Istanbul

    Sarafian praises Erdogan as ‘a man of peace’
    British-Armenian historian Ara Sarafian acknowledged that there have been positive developments in Turkish-Armenian relations in past years and praised Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for "opening the door for a solution to the problem."

    Turkey and Armenia have no formal ties and the border gate between the two countries has been closed for more than a decade. Ankara says relations will not be normalized unless Armenia stops supporting diaspora efforts to win international recognition for the alleged genocide and withdraws its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under Armenian occupation since the last decade.

    Erdogan proposed last year establishment of a joint committee of academics to study events of the World War I years, but Armenia declined the offer.

    According to Sarafian, "some powers in Turkey" prevent Erdogan from doing more. "He is a man of peace, but he is restricted in changes he can initiate," he said in an interview with private Cihan News Agency in London, complaining that there are ultranationalist circles in Turkey, while Erdogan is a liberal man respecting common sense.

    "Erdogan is leading efforts to renovate a Christian church, although he has an Islamic past. This is very interesting and pleasing," he said, referring to the government's plans to reopen the Akhtamar Church in eastern Anatolia later this month following an extensive renovation. Several members of the Armenian diaspora have been invited to attend the opening.

    "I believe Erdogan is part of the solution. Frankly, I think Erdogan has done everything that the Armenian diaspora could have expected of him. The diaspora should now take more positive steps," he said.

    Sarafian also said 90 percent of Armenian artifacts were destroyed and called for government work to restore and protect the remaining 10 percent.

    Today's Zaman Istanbul

    Armenia to send official team to church reopening
    Armenia will send an official delegation to attend the reopening ceremony of a restored Armenian church in eastern Anatolia, reports in the Armenian press said.

    According to the reports, the Armenian Culture Ministry received an invitation from the Turkish Culture Ministry a few days ago, and Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosian announced that he was willing to attend the ceremony on March 29 for the reopening of the ancient Akhtamar Church. The minister said he or his deputy would head a delegation that would attend the ceremony in Van province in eastern Turkey. Representatives from a number of nongovernmental organizations will also be in the delegation, he also said. Turkish Culture Minister Atilla Koç will host the reopening. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül is also expected to attend. Ankara has invited several representatives from the Armenian diaspora to the ceremony but officials have so far been reticent about inviting Armenian government officials.

    Süleyman Kurt Ankara

    Turkey’s National Security Council official: We do have evidence against Armenians’ claims
    16 Mar 2007

    “In 1919, the Ottoman government requested Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain-countries that did not take part in the World War I to investigate the claims on so called Armenian genocide,” Turkey’s National Security Council department chief Gursel Demirok told the APA Turkey bureau exclusively.

    He stressed that the Ottoman’s appeal to neutral countries has been found from the archives and made public.

    “At the same time another document that I found from English archives proves that England was against the establishment of a commission composed of these five countries to investigate groundless genocide claims. Now I ask these states “Why did not you reply the request of the Ottoman empire? The realities of that period are quite different. I was born in Gazientep, the French dressed Armenian soldiers their uniforms and made them attack on Turkish soldiers during the World War. Our family was also subject to genocide committed by Armenian soldiers in French uniform. I call for Armenians to give up their malice. Every nation should posses its own culture and traditions. Ethnic identity cannot be preserved though malice” Mr.Demirok underlined.

    Gursel Demirok said that the Armenian lobby in the west tries to oppress Turkey.
    “Our archives are open to Armenians. We call them to come and investigate them. But they refuse to see and hear the truth. We do have evidence against their claims. A lot of evidences prove who is murderer. I have found some documents in the archived of the German empire that appraise the governors of the Ottoman Empire –Enver Pasha, Telet Pasha, Midhet Pasha. Armenians committed genocide in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly, in 1992. They cast aspersions on other countries to cover up their crimes,” he concluded. /APA/

    Armenian soccer teams help build bridges
    Despite growing pressure on Turkey from both Western countries and the Armenian diaspora to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide, relations between the two societies are growing closer in the field of sports.

    Armenian soccer teams have chosen Antalya to prepare for next season, setting up their spring camp there. Pyunik, Mika and Banants, the first three teams in the Armenian Premier League, are holding their spring training camps in the Belek district of Antalya. Pyunik is the Armenian league champion, Mika the runner-up and Banants the second runner-up. Seven Pyunik players are also regular starters in the Armenian national team. Pyunik’s coach Smuel Petrosyan told Today’s Zaman that Pyunik doesn’t have any trouble in Turkey. Petrosyan said they chose Antalya as the site for their spring training camp from the recommendations of friends he had made in Turkey. Pyunik’s Sarkis Ovsepyan added that friendly games between Turkey and Armenia would make positive contributions toward resolving the misunderstanding between the two countries.

    ‘We will be here next year, too’

    The Armenian teams will remain in Belek for two weeks. Petrosyan said Pyunik will be in Antalya next year for their spring camp. “The Armenians are here as a team for the first time, but I have been here several times in the past. I was here in 1973 as a player for the USSR youth team to play against Kayserispor. I have many friends in Turkey. They told me that both the soccer pitches and the weather are quite good here in Antalya. And so we chose to hold our spring camp here.”

    The political row between Turkey and Armenia is not a hindrance to their plans to camp in Turkey, said Petrosyan. “Football is not about politics, it is a game.” Petrosyan said he will advise other Armenian teams to come train in Antalya.

    Saban Gündüz, Kenan Bas Antalya

    Knesset not to discuss Armenian genocide
    The Knesset decided on Wednesday to shelve a proposal for a parliamentary discussion on the Armenian genocide, in compliance with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s request.

    Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had also asked for a removal of MK Haim Oron’s (Meretz) proposal from the agenda of the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee. She said the discussion might destabilize diplomatic relations with Turkey, which denies responsibility for the death of nearly 1 million Armenians during World War I. Prominent members of the Armenian community in Israel observed the vote from the Knesset visitors’ balcony and expressed their disappointment with the decision. Health Minister Yacov Ben-Yizri, speaking for Livni, said that “as Jews and Israelis we are especially sensitive to the issue, but over the years the subject has been transformed into a heated discussion that the two parties must resolve in order to truly heal the wounds of the past.”


    Bagis: "Two Members Of House Of Representatives Revoke Their Signatures"
    16 March 2007
    Turkish Press
    "As a result of Turkey`s endeavors, 2 members of the U.S. House of Representatives supporting the draft resolution on so-called Armenian genocide (submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives) revoked their signatures," Turkish Justice & Development Party (AKP) Istanbul MP Egemen Bagis said on Thursday. Bagis is a member of a Turkish parliamentary delegation currently in Washington D.C. to lobby against the Armenian draft resolution. In an exclusive interview with the A.A correspondent, Bagis said Democrat Party Congressman Dennis Moore and Republican Party Pennsylvania Congressman Phil English revoked their signatures from the draft, indicating that, "we are more optimistic that the resolution would not be passed from the House of Representatives."

    "USA is aware of the importance of the situation. They don`t want to lose an ally like Turkey," Bagis remarked.

    On the other hand, Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) submitted a draft resolution to the U.S. Senate asking Armenian incidents of the last century to be acknowledged as "genocide".

    21 of the 100-member Senate supported the draft resolution.

    Similar to the draft at the House of Representatives, this resolution is also not binding.

    Atacal Calls On All Turks To Attend Protests Against Allegations Of So-called Armenian Genocide
    NEW YORK - Ulker Aksu, chairperson of the Association of Turkish American Contend with Armenian Lies (ATACAL), has called on all Turkish people living in the United States to attend demonstrations to be held in New York and Washington D.C. to protest the allegations on so-called Armenian genocide.

    Holding a news conference, Aksu said that the first one of protests would take place in New York`s Times Square on April 21st, and the second one in Washington D.C. on April 22nd.

    "We also want to erect a monument in New Jersey out of respect to Turkish diplomats who were slain by Armenian terrorists. We held talks with Turkish Consul General in New York Mehmet Samsar," Ulker added.

    Meanwhile, Hayati Tekin, mayor of Kutlukent town of the northern Turkish city of Samsun from the delegation of Turkish mayors visiting New York, said in his part, "Armenian allegations are nothing but lies. They unfoundedly accuse the Ottomans which embraced all nations."

    "The monument to be erected in New Jersey for the memory of Turkish diplomats will cost about 300 thousand USD. We, as the Union of Turkish Municipalities (TBB), will be pleased to pay it," Tekin added.

    Halaçoglu: ‘I Did Not Make Any Restrictions'
    I quoted journalist Fatih Altayli in this column yesterday. Altayli wrote that Turkish History Institute (TTK) President Yusuf Halaçoglu has introduced restrictions about opening archives while he could have taken an important first step with Armenian researcher Ara Sarafyan, resulting in the cancellation of the shared research project. I had not researched the subject again as I trusted the sources of the Sabah daily newspaper's editor-in-chief. I have criticized professor Halaçoglu for this attitude and have written that Turkey has hurt itself unnecessarily.

    Professor Halaçoglu called yesterday and forwarded his e-mail correspondences with Ara Sarafyan. He said my article was inaccurate.

    According to professor Halaçoglu, the cancellation of this project does not have anything to do with any restrictions. “We did not even discuss what will be opened, what documents will be introduced yet. Moreover, I do not have the authority to open or restrict archives,” he said.

    Halaçoglu believes the main reason behind Sarafyan's relinquishment is the reaction of the Armenian diaspora to such a project.

    I apologize for having made an incorrect evaluation.

    However, I would also like to add a footnote: These sorts of meetings should be disclosed to the press only after all preparations are made in detail and all conditions are confirmed. Otherwise, media-monitored meetings and discussions in front of the media can prove to be destructive. I would have expected someone as experienced as Halaçoglu to be much more sensitive about this issue.

    M.Ali Birand
    15 March 2007
    Turkish Daily News

    Irtemcelik On So-Called Armenian Genocide Allegations
    15 March 2007
    Turkish Press
    None of the UN bodies qualified as "genocide" the tragic incidents that happened in 1915, said Turkish Ambassador to Germany Mehmet Ali Irtemcelik. In an exclusive interview with the German news agency DPA, Irtemcelik recalled that "genocide" crime was defined by the UN, only in 1948, and pointed out that there is not any evidence that any UN body acknowledged the tragic incidents of 1915 as "genocide".

    Irtemcelik stated that the matter was debated only at an UN sub-committee, and said that the report presented to that sub- committee was not debated.

    On February 14th, DPA broadcast a story on "Armenians in the Ottoman Empire", and alleged that "the UN deems the massacre, made after long preparations, as genocide". Later, this sentence was erased from the data bank.

    After this story was aired, Irtemcelik wrote a letter to DPA Editor-in-Chief Wilm Herlyn, and asked him to correct this remark as soon as possible.

    JTA: Turkish Jews lobby against Armenian resolution in US
    A delegation of Turkish Jews lobbied against a resolution under consideration in the U.S. Congress that would recognize the 1915 massacres of Armenians as genocide. The three-person delegation, headed by Silvyo Ovadya, the president of the Turkish Jewish community, attended this week’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference and met with Jewish leaders as well as members of Congress.

    Turkish diplomats have been unsuccessful in mustering broad community support against the non-binding resolution proposed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is Jewish and has a large Armenian constituency. A number of Holocaust scholars have labeled the massacres, carried out by Ottoman-era Turks, as a genocide and have called it a precursor to the Holocaust. Ovadya said such considerations were best left to historians, but claimed that politically the resolution would harm relations between the United States and its closest Muslim ally.

    as a historian, I must say it was the armenians who attacked first the ottoman army in 1915. after that the ottoman army under german general ordered the armenians to be sent away from that area. hence so many armenians can be found today in syria, lebanon, jordan and yemen. there was no genocide. swedish officers’ reports in swedish archives prove. also german, russian, british and ottoman archives prove there was no genocide. also the armenian archives should prove the same thing, but armenians do not open their archives. in anycase this was an incident which happened in 1915. turkish republic which was against ottoman emipre, was established in 1923. are armenians crazy to accuse turkish republic for incidents which did not even happen in 1915? so they killed so many turkish diplomats as a revenge. armenians are guilty a

    March 14th, 2007 luigi lizzeri
    ©2005 American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors

    Sarkozy Must Change His Mind About Turkey, Bernardin
    ANKARA - Jean Francois Bernardin, chairman of the Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce & Industry (AFCCI), and an accompanying delegation met Tuesday Rifat Hisarciklioglu, chairman of the Union of Chambers & Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in Ankara.

    "The European Union has been experiencing serious problems and there is a weakness in overcoming these problems," Hisarcikoglu said during his speech.

    "The biggest of these problems is the lack of leadership. But we hope that the leadership will be reinstated after the French presidential elections," he added.

    AFCCI Chairman Bernardin said on his behalf that problems faced in relations between Turkey and France originated from a mutual misunderstanding.

    "When you got elected as the president you shoulder the responsibility of an entire nation and you see that people do change," Bernardin said in response to a question regarding the presidential candidacy of French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, who opposes Turkey`s adhesion to the EU.

    "I am sure Sarkozy will change his mind about Turkey if he got elected as the president," he added.

    Proposed genocide resolution naming Turkey risks damage to U.S. security, says Rice, Gates
    The Associated Press
    March 14, 2007
    WASHINGTON: The U.S. secretaries of state and defense contend that the security of the United States is at risk from proposed legislation that would declare up to 1.5 million Armenians victims of a genocide on Turkish soil almost a century ago.

    In joint identical letters to the speaker of the House of Representatives and two other senior members, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the resolution also could inflict significant damage on U.S. efforts to reconcile the long-standing dispute between the West Asian neighbors.

    The appeals went to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Rep. John Boehner, leader of the House's Republican minority; and Rep. Tom Lantos, the Democrat who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    A Foreign Affairs subcommittee is holding a hearing Thursday on U.S.-Turkish relations. One witness will be retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe who now is a special envoy for U.S. President George W. Bush tasked with countering the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has sought a Kurdish homeland in eastern Turkey for decades.

    "This is an incredibly sensitive issue inside Turkey, and what we are trying to encourage the Turks to have is meaningful reform of their dealings with Armenia," Ralston told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. "It has huge ramifications for the foreign policy of this country."
    Today in Americas

    The Associated Press obtained a copy of one of the letters Wednesday. It was dated March 7, two days after Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian was in Washington to visit Rice and said afterward that "Turkish lobbying at a government level" threatened to scuttle the resolution.

    A Democratic aide said Pelosi, who controls the House agenda, has no plan to bring the proposal before the House soon. The aide spoke anonymously because final plans have not been approved.

    A congressional staff aide, also speaking without attribution, said it is understood that Lantos, whose committee would deal with the resolution, was awaiting word from Pelosi. Both the speaker and Lantos have been supporters of the legislation.

    The dispute involves the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of the Turkish state. Armenian advocates contend they died in an organized genocide; the Turks say they were victims of widespread chaos and governmental breakdown as the 600-year-old empire collapsed in the years before Turkey was born in 1923.

    The bipartisan resolution was introduced on Jan. 30.

    Passage of the resolution would harm "U.S. efforts to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and to advance recognition by Turkey of the tragic events that occurred to ethnic Armenians under the Ottoman Empire," the letters said.

    They said the United States is encouraging "our friends in Turkey to re-examine their past with honesty and to reconcile with Armenia, as well as security and stability in the broader Middle East and Europe."

    Rice and Gates reminded the lawmakers of repercussions from a vote in the French National Assembly last October to criminalize denial of Armenian genocide. "The Turkish military cut all contacts with the French military and terminated defense contracts under negotiation," the letters said.

    Similar reaction against passage of the House resolution "could harm American troops in the field, constrain our ability to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and significantly damage our efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey at a key turning point in their relations."

    Turkey has NATO's second-largest army. The U.S. Air Force has a major base in southern Turkey near Iraq, which it has used for operations in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Between the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the Iraq war, warplanes from Incirlik Air Base enforced a flight ban in Northern Iraq against the Iraqi air force.

    Associated Press writer Desmond Butler contributed to this report.

    Israeli parliament rejects ‘Armenian genocide' resolution
    The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, declined yesterday to approve a resolution recognizing Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, news reports said.

    The resolution, submitted by lawmaker Haim Oron, drew anger from some quarters in the Israeli government and was rejected by parliament, the Anatolia news agency said.

    "It is the duty of the Israeli parliament, as the representative of the Jewish people, to express its opinion on the need to recognize the Armenian genocide," Oron, who is from the opposition left-wing Meretz Party, was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse. "It is a debt we owe to the Armenian people and one we owe to ourselves."

    The resolution urged the Israeli administration to mark April 24, the day when Armenians claim the alleged genocide started, as "Armenian genocide memorial day."

    Oron said he has been under heavy pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office as well as the Foreign Ministry to withdraw his motion. "That [pressure] is something any MP must face," Oron said. "Turkey has been exerting its pressure everywhere. This is their right. But they can not set the agenda of the Israeli parliament."

    Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that Israel "did not intend to place itself at the forefront of this issue, which is being handled by the international community."

    Israel has close diplomatic ties with Turkey -- one of the few Muslim countries with which it has relations -- and has in the past steered clear of the recognition issue.

    Turkey categorically denies charges of genocide, saying that Armenians and Turks were killed in mutual attacks when the Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up against the Ottoman Empire. The parliaments of a number of countries have endorsed resolutions recognizing the alleged genocide, causing serious deterioration in ties with Turkey.

    Today's Zaman with wires Istanbul

    Why can't the historians meet?
    The issue of what took place in Asia Minor between the Armenians, Turks and Kurds in 1915 and after is very difficult to research objectively because everybody who wants to research the issue, whatever his or her view is, must accept the risk of being accused and slandered heavily by at least one of the parties.

    Therefore, it is generally only the people who have a fixed opinion who research this issue, and the research is never conducted comparatively to include both parties' views. As a result, both the accusation of “genocide” -- the Armenian view -- and the claim of “mutual killings” -- the Turkish view -- cannot go beyond things the parties say only for themselves. As a scientific and objective research cannot be carried out, the parties' historical theses do not serve anything but being used by global public relations campaigns.


    TTK to research Tashnak Archives
    The Turkish Historical Society (TTK) reportedly wants to finance the opening up of the Tashnak Archives in Boston to Turkish historians.

    The president of the TTK, Professor Yusuf Halaçoglu, said that until now his organization has been denied access to the Tashnak Archives on the basis of claims that the documents "are not classified and categorized." As for archives in Jerusalem and Armenia, Professor Halaçoglu notes that no excuses have been provided in the barring of Turkish historians from these resources. Refusing to accept the excuse the Boston-based Tashnak Archives had proffered, Halaçoglu has offered to finance the cataloguing of the archive with TTK funds.

    The TTK has obtained access to documents pertaining to Ottoman Armenians in the archives of a number of countries, including Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, France and England. Two central archives to which the TTK has not been able to obtain access are the Tashnak Archives in Boston, which contains pre-1923 documents concerning the Armenians, and the Patriarchate Archives in Jerusalem.

    These archives, he maintains, contain crucial documentation about the Armenians. Halaçoglu also maintains that despite the fact that a few well-known defenders of the Armenian genocide have been given access to the Tashnak Archives, there has never been a Turkish historian or researcher allowed to use this resource.

    Aslihan Aydin Ankara

    Rice sends warning to Congress over Armenian resolution
    The letter warned that if passed, the resolution will harm Turkish-US relations.

    14 Mar 2007 NTVMSNBC
    WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defence Robert Gates have warned that a draft resolution to be considered by the House of Representatives on so-called Armenian genocide would result in serious damage to relations with Turkey if passed.

    The warning, which came in a letter sent to Speaker of House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner from the Republican Party, and Tom Lantos, chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, was signed by both Rice and Gates.

    Reportedly, the letter said that if the draft resolution was passed by the House of Representatives, Turkish-US ties would be seriously damaged and this would harm national interests of the US.

    Though originally submitted in January, the draft resolution has yet to be put on the House’s schedule for debate. A similar draft resolution is expected to be tabled with the US Senate this week.

    US administration to try to block passage of Armenian bill - US deputy secretary of state
    ( Cihan ) – US Deputy Secretary of State Nick Burns said that the US administration would do its best to block the passage of Armenian resolution in the US House of Representatives.

    Headed by Turkey-US Parliamentary Friendship Group chairman Egemen Bagis, a delegation from Turkish Parliament met Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs. The meeting in the US capital Washington lasted one and a half hours.

    Burns assured the Turkish officials that the US government would try to prevent the passage of the controversial bill in the House.

    The second Turkish delegation, which is in Washington to lobby the US congressmen against the Armenian claims, also came together with the representatives of Jewish community in the US and attended Turkey-US Council meeting.

    Turkish MPs will also meet US congressmen today and tomorrow to convey Turkey's thesis on the so called genocide and stress that Turkish archives are open for historians and researchers to examine the events.

    Late in February, the first of the three delegations from Turkish parliament to lobby American congressmen prior to the voting of a resolution on so-called Armenian genocide in the US House of Representatives held talks with US officials.

    In addition to this delegation, a third will also leave for the US during the last week of March to press the congressmen.

    © TREND news Agency

    '2009 Turkish Year' Ache For French Businessmen
    Sabah, Turkey
    March 13 2007
    France, where the Armenian year continues, is getting ready for the 2009 Turkish year. The chairman of the French Chamber of Industry and Commerce Assembly Bernardin said: "let's make joint economic programs for 2009. Let us bring presidents and prime ministers together."

    After the visit of the chairman of MEDEF, Laurence Parisot, when he gave a supportive message for the Genocide Bill, the chairman of the French Chamber of Industry and Commerce Assembly Jean-Francois Bernardin also came to Turkey. Bernardin, representing 2 million French enterprises, stated his wish about bringing together the leaders of two countries and carring out joint economic activities.

    Pilot Training For Armenia
    Turkish Press, MI
    March 13 2007
    Turkey is making preparations to become the pilot training center of the region. Accordingly, Turkey will also train pilot candidates coming from Armenia.

    After Rice, an appeal to Bush
    March 15, 2007
    ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
    After U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates called on the House of Representatives not to endorse the alleged Armenian genocide resolution, Ankara expects President George W. Bush to become involved in the issue as the previous U.S. President Bill Clinton did in 2000, said diplomatic sources.

    Turkey's lobbying company, Livingstone, arranged an opportunity for Turkish deputies to meet with Bush during a dinner in Washington D.C. and Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Egemen Bagis will attend the dinner. Bagis and other deputies are meeting with officials from the U.S. Department of State and House of Representatives to prevent the resolution from being added to the House's agenda.

    Ankara debates Akdamar invitation
    March 15, 2007
    Turkey has invited Armenian officials to attend the ceremony for the inauguration of the renovated church, one of the finest surviving monuments of ancient Armenian culture
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
    Turkey is currently debating whether the invitation of Armenian officials to mark the renovation of the 1,000-year-old Akdamar church will be a political gesture for a resolution of bilateral problems between the two neighboring countries. Facing increasing pressure from the Armenian diaspora for recognition of an alleged genocide of Armenians, Ankara is seeking ways to counter worldwide diaspora efforts through friendly moves.

    Turkey has invited Armenian officials to attend the ceremony for the inauguration of the renovated church, one of the finest surviving monuments of ancient Armenian culture. But it is not clear whether any of them will show up. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said preparations were continuing. It denied reports in daily Milliyet that the government would allow direct flights between the Armenian capital of Yerevan and the Turkish city of Van for the ceremony planned for March 29.

    A meeting was held by the Foreign Ministry some while ago to discuss preparations ahead of the opening of the church and plans to invite Armenians for the ceremony, which will also be attended by the former governor of Van, Niyazi Tanilir, and representatives from the General Staff, interior, culture and tourism ministries and the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), news reports said.

    An official from the Culture Ministry suggested that Turkey open the gate with Armenia just once in a move to help Armenian guests to easily cross into Turkey to participate in that ceremony. The official also said the Armenian guests could arrive in Van through a direct flight from Yerevan despite reservations from the General Staff. But the idea was rejected at the meeting.

    Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic ties and border crossings remain closed, but there are regular commercial flights between Yerevan and Istanbul. The ceremony will be held on the tiny island of Akdamar on Lake Van.

    Under European Union pressure Turkey began restoring the church in 2005 after a century of neglect and decades of political wrangling. Brussels urged Turkey in 2004 to consider registering Akdamar in UNESCO's World Heritage List and the $1.5 million restoration, ordered and paid for by the Turkish government, was intended to send a positive message to Armenia.

    Although the measure has strong bipartisan support in the House, it is not clear if or when the measure will be voted on.
    Rice, Gates urge Congress to drop genocide measure

    March 15, 2007
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have called on the House of Representatives not to endorse a pending Armenian genocide resolution, U.S. sources said. The two top administration officials warned the House leaders that the resolution's passage would seriously hurt relations with critical NATO ally Turkey and harm U.S. national interests in Turkey's region, one source told the Turkish Daily News.

    This message was relayed in a strongly worded letter sent to congressional leaders last week. Rice and Gates sent the letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Republican Minority Leader John Buehner of Ohio and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California. The letter's recipients did not comment on it. The Rice-Gates initiative so far is the highest-level effort by President George W. Bush's administration to stop the genocide measure.

    The resolution introduced in the House, Congress' lower chamber, in late January calls for official recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide. It is not clear if or when the bill will come to the House agenda. In a related development on Tuesday, a team of visiting Turkish parliamentarians met here with U.S. Undersecretary of State Nick Burns, who reiterated the administration's strong opposition to the genocide resolution, officials said. The parliamentary delegation also had talks with several legislators at Congress on Wednesday. Turkish diplomats declined to comment on the Rice-Gates letter because it was internal U.S. correspondence, but in a more general sense they said Ankara was pleased with the Bush administration's efforts on the matter. "Compared to the situation a month ago, today we are more hopeful about the chances to stop this resolution," said one diplomat.

    The genocide resolution has strong bipartisan support in the House and analysts believe that it would easily pass if it reached a floor vote. So efforts by Turkey and the Bush administration are mainly aimed at preventing such a vote. Although the measure is non-binding, its approval would mean a symbolic and psychological victory for the Armenians, who are believed to be willing to use it as precedent for future demands, including potential compensation and even territorial claims.Therefore, Turkey is making every effort at all levels to stop the bill's passage. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit lobbied against the resolution during separate visits here in February. As a result of Turkish and U.S. administration efforts, Lantos, who initially was reported to be "non-committal" on the resolution, now plans to oppose it if it comes to a vote, said one source close to the senior politician, who is the only Holocaust survivor in the U.S. Congress. However, it is not clear if the resolution will enter his Foreign Affairs Committee's agenda.

    Many analysts see Pelosi as the key in this equation. Before last November's nationwide congressional elections, which brought the Democrats to power in both chambers, Pelosi pledged to back genocide recognition efforts in the new legislative term. But since she took office in January, Pelosi has not made a public statement on pending Armenian-related measures. On their part, U.S. Armenians, believing that they have established some unique momentum and have found a window of opportunity for the genocide resolution's passage this year, are determined to make every effort to capitalize on the moment. The hard-line Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), arguably the largest U.S. Armenian organization, is gearing up for a "grassroots Capitol march" next week, bringing hundreds of fellow activists here to pressure Congress.

    On the Senate side, Democratic Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois is likely to introduce a similar Armenian genocide resolution in upcoming days.

    Orthodox patriarch 'confident' Turkey will improve religious freed
    March 15, 2007
    VIENNA - Associated Press
    The spiritual leader of Turkey's Orthodox Christians expressed confidence yesterday that Turkey will improve religious freedom for non-Muslims, who complain of persecution and discrimination.

    Patriarch Bartolomeos I said in a speech at the papal nuncio, the Vatican's mission in Vienna, that the Turkish government and most political parties were showing "goodwill" in answering calls from the West for greater religious liberties.

    "We are confident and do not give up hope that in the immediate future, ways will be found to solve the problems, which threaten our existence," said Bartolomeos, who is based in Istanbul.

    Christians have frequently complained of discrimination and persecution in Turkey, most of whose 70 million people are Muslim. An estimated 65,000 are Armenian Orthodox Christians, 23,000 are Jews, 20,000 Roman Catholic and 3,500 Protestant, mostly converts from Islam. Around 2,000 are Greek Orthodox.

    Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said on Tuesday after meeting with Bartolomeos that her country would step up pressure on Turkey to improve freedom of religion and enhance the protection of religious minorities.

    Bartolomeos said on Wednesday that the Orthodox hierarchy "emphatically endorses and expects" Turkey's eventual membership in the European Union, adding that religious freedom should continue to be a precondition for EU entry.

    Mehmet Ali Birand: Why do we invite them in the first place?
    March 14, 2007
    Mehmet Ali Birand

    I read it in Fatih Altayli's column in Sabah daily yesterday.

    Turkish History Institute (TTK) President Yusuf Halaçoglu was supposed meet with Ara Sarafyan, the author of Blue Book, which is seen as one of the most important documents backing Armenian claims.

    Both sides were supposed to produce various documents to argue their case, the first such meeting.

    I was very excited about it.

    Armenians usually don't participate in such meetings. “The whole world accepts the genocide. Why should we open a case over something already accepted,” they usually asked. Sarafyan was very important in this respect. His visit was supposed to provide a huge boost to Turkey's call for historians focusing on the matter, discussing and debating it.

    Suddenly, we were all told the meeting was cancelled. Professor Halaçoglu held a press conference and said Sarafyan had cancelled the trip, presenting an article in weekly AGOS that said the Armenian diaspora was furious about Sarafyan's trip. That was the reason of cancellation, he said.

    Now we learn from Altayli that the real reason why the meeting was cancelled was very different. It appears Halaçoglu refused to open the archives without limits and objected to presenting certain documents.

    What was this all about?

    If you were not going to show the documents, why would you ask for a meeting? Why do you organize such a meeting before agreeing on the conditions of opening of the archives? Why do you initiate a process you cannot go take to the finish?

    Turkey is already on the defensive on this issue and this latest development means another point scored against us. No one will ever believe Turkey when it proposes to open the archives and share all the documents so that historians can discuss the matter.

    Our last ally retires:

    For some of us, French President Jacques Chirac is an enemy of Turkey. His attitude concerning the Armenian genocide claims and certain decisions he took concerning our European Union membership process caused many to criticize him. However, he was a strong ally of Turkey. He was one of the few European leaders who knew about Turkey's strategic importance. We should not be unfair to him.

    If Chirac had not taken a political risk and supported Turkey, a date for the beginning of the talks with the EU could not have been obtained. Chirac opened the door for the talks process even with all the reaction in the French public and all the pressure from Nicolas Sarkozy. If he were to oppose it, neither Germany nor England would have had the power to ensure such a date. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder told me in person: “We could not have given Turkey a date had Chirac not fully supported me in 2003.”

    The French president faced domestic political pressure after he achieved the hardest part and made sure Turkey had a green light. He put his signature under the decisions we are critical of. He had to do this like all other politicians. No matter what, as a society we owe Jacques Chirac our gratitude. He was maybe the last bond between France and Turkey.

    With Chirac's departure, the last of the four supporters of Turkey left the stage. The era of German Gerhard Schröder and Italian Silvio Berlusconi are over. Tony Blair's influence has passed.

    Turkey will sail alone in the stormy European waters. There is no one to offer us a shelter in his or her harbor anymore.

    Our job will become more difficult from now on.

    Barzani expansionism in Turkey
    March 14, 2007
    Hasan Celal Güzel, Radikal

    People in Turkey's southeastern region have found the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) unsympathetic from the beginning, so the PKK has found no strong ground here. Permeation of the PKK among the masses was prevented by its relation with the Armenian ASALA organization at first, by its cruelty against locals and its Marxist and anti-religious structure.

    But on the other hand, since the U.S. occupation in Iraq, U.S.-backed Barzani has been conducting a psychological operation on Kurds in southeastern Turkey and getting influential. In contrast with the PKK's atheist image, Barzani presents an image of pious man and a sheikh of the Nakshibandi path. He also offers employment and university education opportunity among youngsters.

    After the invasion of Iraq, racist-separatist factions used PKK terror on one hand and started to spread Barzani propaganda on the other. In Turkey, Barzani has 75 parliamentarians supporting him, in his own words. Speculations are that he formed his lobby through buying some journalists, too.

    As PKK supporters hold meetings in Diyarbakir with a few hundred people, “The Mustazaf (Oppressed) Association,” making use of the Prophet Mohammed as well, was able to organize meetings with 150,000 people. (A former Hezbollah activist, Ishak Saglam, is the head of the association). This organization sends its men to southeastern villages for Kurdish propaganda under the guise of religious piety.

    On the other side, Abdülmelik Firat's Hakpar and Serafettin Elçi's new party are also among Barzani supporters. Another point worth paying attention to is that, in the latest Democratic Turkey Party (DTP) convention, there was no Öcalan poster and neither his mother nor his brother attended the meeting.

    All these point that, under the mask of Islam, Barzani is gaining power in Turkey and is posing a serious threat.

    March 01, 2007

    Islam is and will be a European religion
    The birthrate among Muslim immigrants in Europe is three times higher than that of the non-Muslim European population. According to Sweden's consul general in Istanbul, Ingmar Karlsson, if this trend continues, the Muslim population will be doubled by 2015, while Europe's non-Muslim population will decrease by 3.5 percent. Some estimates indicate that in 30 years the number of Muslims in Europe could be as high as 65 million.

    The outspoken consul general, who is a doctor of divinity and the author of more than 10 books on the subjects of Europe's relationship with faith, terrorism, Islam and minorities, has said that the trend towards a multi-racial and multi-confessional Europe is unstoppable; therefore, Islam must be recognized and regarded as a "domestic" European religion.

    Karlsson, whose latest book will be available in Sweden today, titled "Europe and the Turk," said that Turkey's membership in the European Union would demonstrate the falsity of the argument that Islam and democracy cannot mix, also helping to bring about favorable changes in the Islamic world's attitude towards Europe. "There is nothing which intrinsically prevents a Muslim from being as good a Swede as a member of the Pentecostal Bretheren or an adherent of the Jewish faith, nor is there anything that prevents mosques from becoming as natural a feature of Swedish cities as churches have always been in Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, Mosul or Cairo," Karlsson said. .

    For EU membership, religion is not among the criteria, therefore, refusing Turkey's admission on religious grounds would send a dangerous signal, especially after Sept.11, 2001, Karlsson noted, adding that Turkey's rejection by the EU would have a radicalizing effect both in the Muslim world and in Turkey itself. .

    Referring to the Muslim population of Europe, Karlsson said, "A 'no' to Turkey on religious and cultural grounds would be disastrous for Europe since it would send an immediate and strong message to the fastest growing segments of Europe's population that they will always be considered unwelcome and second-class citizens, even if they choose a secular way of life." .

    "Sending such a message could, before we know it, lead to the emergence of a ghetto Islam in Europe instead of a modern tolerant European Islam. Radical mullahs all over Europe are already doing their best to exploit Muslim immigrants' psychological, cultural and material problems for their own purposes, and this message would only make their work easier," he said, adding, "A Turkish membership in the European Union will facilitate a necessary integration process and thus counteract a development fraught with momentous consequences for Europe." .

    According to Karlsson, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has emerged as a result of the transformation of Turkish Islamism; it came to power following free elections, and Turkey is now undergoing a historic reform process that is mainly motivated by the prospect of EU membership. .

    Why did you want a post in Turkey as a diplomat? . .

    I had been dealing a lot with Middle Eastern and European affairs during my career and Turkey was a combination of these. Before I came here I was ambassador in Prague and Bratislava. And as does my government, I feel the enlargement process of the European Union is very important. Then when I came here, the consulate general got a new task; a new special section was set up with the aim to promote Turkish and Swedish relations and the Turkish accession into the EU. We started working with Turkish universities, NGOs and different organizations. .

    .What would you say about Turkish-Swedish relations? . .

    I think they are very good. Back then, I think there were some misunderstandings between Sweden and Turkey, and I even think there were some suspicions about our activities. We had been criticizing Turkey and the Turkish government on matters relating to the Copenhagen criteria, human rights and the rights of minorities, etc. And there was a feeling throughout Turkey that Sweden was criticizing Turkey because we wanted to keep it out; however, as you can see now Sweden is one of Turkey's best friends in the EU. I think people have realized more and more that Sweden was critical of Turkey not because it doesn't want Turkey to be in the EU but the opposite. .

    Is there a fear of Islam in Europe? If so, how does it affect Turkey since the population is predominantly Muslim? . .

    People don't know what Islam looks like in Turkey, its facets, etc. This is used by xenophobes in Europe. People are ignorant about the religion of Islam. People don't understand that Islam today is a European religion and if you say no to a country for being of this faith, then you are essentially saying to the 20 million Muslims living in Europe, 'Whatever you do here we will consider you to be second class citizens.' That is a very dangerous policy. .

    And the Muslim population is on the rise in Europe…..

    Yes, and that will continually rise. When I grew up in Sweden after World War II, there were three Muslims in the country, three! They were of Tatar origin. Now, Muslims make up 5 to 6 percent of Sweden's population. And as this number continues to rise, everyone will realize that Islam is and will be a European religion. The first time Sweden discussed entering the EU was in 1961. It was not looked at very positively since we are Protestants and the EU was then in the Swedish debate said to be a Catholic organization. Now, more than 45 years later, that is no longer an issue. Debates move on along with time. Current debates over Turkey will also change with the evolution of Europe, but Turkey must move full speed ahead with its reforms and not fall under the influence of super nationalist powers voicing themselves in Turkey. .

    How is the perception in Sweden about Turkey, as compared to other European countries? ..

    I think if you look at the Swedish parliament, we are unique in that all parties are in favor of Turkey entering the EU. I think the overall public opinion is a positive one. We have a large group of people of Turkish background in Sweden: Kurds, Assyrian/Syrianis and Turks are active in different parties and as members of parliament. The Swedish media has many Turkish people playing important roles. One of the most powerful organizations in the country is the Social Democratic Women's Association, whose chairperson is a lady by the name of Nalin Pekgül, who was born in Batman and came to Sweden at a very young age. Ibrahim Baylan, the former minister of schools is also of Turkish background, who was born outside of Midyat. One of the program directors of Swedish is from Istanbul. Swedish citizens with a Turkish background can be found in all walks of life. This may have once been something that people were suspicious about but now it's a fact of life. .

    Religion is not among the criteria for entrance to the EU; however, religion has been a subject of discussion in Europe because Turkey is not a Christian country. Can you talk about how Turkey is perceived in Europe, considering the fact that it is a secular state? ..

    People are very confused, I mean, if you look at a guide book on Turkey you see that Turkey is 99 percent Muslim but people don't realize the diversity behind this figure. Much of the debate in the country centers around the headscarf issue! So I think this does cause a level of confusion, people cannot make the connection. Many people who argue against Turkey being in the EU also see that there is a ban on the headscarf, so this increases their confusion. People in Europe don't know about the secular nature of Turkey, how it works, how Diyanet [religious affairs ministry] works. .

    In one of your speeches you mentioned that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is trying to transform the AK Party into a Muslim version of the Christian democratic parties in Europe…..

    If you look at the party program of the AK Party, what he's trying to do, you will see that it is in many ways a Muslim version of the Christian democratic parties of Europe. Of course, the AK Party can never be one per se. But it is strange that Christian democratic parties of Europe don't see the AK Party as such! .

    So why is there not much in the way of friendship between them? ..

    There is not enmity but it's generally a lack of knowledge and ignorance between the two. As I have stated in my many speeches and articles, public opinion of Europe is colored by some of the ghettos in Europe, comprised of immigrants that have made no attempt to assimilate. Especially in some of Europe's bigger towns like Berlin where people came there 40 years ago and they thought that they would stay for a short while and go back and they didn't want to integrate and they were also often not allowed to integrate. But as contacts have increased during the negotiations, this picture will slowly disappear. .

    When it comes to Turkey, some of the EU countries started talking about a different level of membership status…..

    We frequently hear about European values. And I think European values are based not on Christianity but Roman law. One basic principle of Roman law is "Pacta sunt servanda" meaning, agreements are to be kept. The EU made an agreement with Turkey that if it follows the Copenhagen criteria then the road to the EU will be open for Turkey. .

    But when there is a talk about different membership level, Turkey is offended. It has become an emotional issue after having tried for so many years for full membership…..

    I think that Sweden would have reacted in the same way. If, during the negotiation process we had been told by Brussels that we have to meet conditions not given to other countries… There is something that you bring up regularly in your statements, about the EU's absorption capacity and how some falsely argue that the EU won't be able to absorb a big country like Turkey. .

    Ask any Frenchman if France has been absorbed by EU and he will be very upset. I don't think that any country has been absorbed by the EU. It's a cooperation between different nations. So if you say that Turkey is just too large to incorporate into a United States of Europe, then how about the enlargement process with the decisive step of the acceptance of 10 new members which took place two years ago, when the EU went from 15 to 25 members? So, to go to 28 members from 27 is not all that much of a jump. .

    How about the security and geopolitical arguments that exist, for or against Turkey's membership? ..

    I think that most of these arguments are in favor of Turkey and not against. We can see how the soft power of the EU has helped to transform Turkey. At the same time, the hard power of the US has made Iraq collapse. So Turkey in the EU with a stable economy and better system could be a source of inspiration for surrounding countries. If Turkey was more politically and economically unstable, that could be problematic for Europe. To keep Turkey out, and as a sort of a firewall between Europe and the Middle East, is not the right way of thinking. .

    What could happen? Why is it so dangerous to keep Turkey on the edge? ..

    From the point of both democratic and economic developments, it will better for Turkey to be in the EU. If Turkey goes back to the crisis it once had, it would be problematic for both Turkey and the EU. .

    Are you saying that Turkey's internal conflicts have an automatic effect on Europe? ..

    Of course. .

    How so? Could you give an example? . .

    New disturbances in the Southeast would, for example, lead to migration to Europe and increase the tensions between Turks and Kurds living there. .

    The argument in Turkey and in Europe -- if Turkey is not welcomed by Europe, it should look to the Middle East and vice versa. What do you think about this? Does it have to be one way or the other? . .

    Even before Atatürk [the founder of the Republic of Turkey], Turkey's main direction was toward Europe. The Ottoman Empire was called the 'sick man of Europe,' not Asia. Turkey's connections with Europe and with NATO have been so strong, I don't see the other as an option for Turkey. With Turkish modernization continuing at the rate it has occurred in the past four, five years, there will be no way that the EU can say no to Turkey. .

    Yourself, what do you like most about Turkey or Turkish people? ..

    The country is beautiful and the people are hospitable and nice. .

    What do you dislike most here -- not a diplomatic question? . .

    No, that's okay. What I dislike is all these expressions that you see now as with other countries. Any kind of ultranationalist, chauvinist intolerance. .

    Do you have concerns about the rise of nationalism in Turkey? ..

    I don't think that Turkey is turning into a more nationalist country. It is turning Euro-skeptic if anything, more into a EU-critic following some of the policies of the EU member states. . There are radical groups committing crimes claiming to protect Turkish interests. They are not in the majority; however, they are painting a negative picture of Turkey in Europe. The police being photographed with the killer of Hrant Dink, for example. This is very unfortunate. There is nationalism in Turkey today but you can find that in most European countries. Just take Holland, for example, where a party claims an ethnically Turkish female member of government should be kicked out because she is, how do you say, not of Dutch blood. This rise of nationalism is a phenomenon in many European countries as well. You have to see it and take it seriously but not get hysterical and overreact. .

    PROFILE. .

    Ingmar Karlsson.

    Ingmar Karlsson has been the consul general of Sweden in Istanbul since Sept. 2001. Previously, he served as ambassador in Prague and Bratislava. .

    He is a Doctor of Divinity honoris causa at Lund University and a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Växjö. He also studied business administration, political science and the history of ideas and learning at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. .

    He has authored more than 10 books, the latest is titled "Europe and the Turk," and will be out in Sweden today. .

    Some of his books, including Islam and Europe - confrontation or coexistence? (1994), The Stepchildren of Europe - minorities without a mother-nation (2003), Faith, terror and tolerance - essays on religion and politics (2004), and A Europe of the regions (2006), have been translated into Turkish among other languages. .


    Turkish Press Review
    Denying and accepting the genocide!
    There cannot and must not be a crime of rejecting the "genocide." Such a crime is against freedom of expression, the sine qua non of democracy.

    Therefore a Swiss court's ruling of suspended prison sentence and fine for Dogu Perinçek is a ruling against freedom of thought. Indeed it is an incorrect decision; it is against democracy and freedom of expression. If we want democracy and freedom of expression, then just the opposite must also be valid. In other words, a person who says "There is an Armenian genocide" should also profit from freedom of expression, a precondition for democracy. I say this for Turkey. Those who feverishly support the democratic right of Dogu Perinçek, who said, "There is no Armenian genocide," must also respect this right of those who say "There is an Armenian genocide" if they really support freedom of expression and want to be credible. That is the essence of the issue; the other way cannot be considered democracy as part of the culture of democracy.

    14.03.2007 Zaman

    Turning Turkish heads
    an interview with Soner Cagaptay
    March 01, 2007

    BI: How are elections going to play out in Turkey? How will people respond to the situation Turkey is in, regionally, with Europe and domestically?

    Cagaptay: First of all, in terms of relations with the US, the presidential elections in the spring follow the likely Armenian genocide bill in the US House of Congress. And if that resolution comes to the floor, as it always does in April, with presidential elections in the same month, you will see a very strong nationalist backlash from all candidates, who cannot afford not to respond.

    Second, in terms of relations with Iraq, I think we are going to see some action against the PKK presence in northern Iraq. That could be crucial. If the AKP government can deliver action against the PKK and take credit for it, it will be a huge boost to their popularity ahead of presidential elections.

    The timing is important because snow is melting in the mountains in northern Iraq and there is a specific window when the snow melts but before trees blossom providing cover. So March will be crucial. If the AKP can deliver action and take credit, it will determine Turkey’s next president.

    BI: Action against the PKK would be hugely popular, but the US is also a very important ally to Turkey. Does the government not have to be careful to perform a balancing act?

    Cagaptay: Yes, there is a balancing act. But Turkey is likely to engage in limited and targeted operations rather than a massive Turkish troop movement into Iraq. If such operations happen, some people say the US might neither condemn nor approve them.

    BI: How important is Turkey to the US in Iraq?

    Cagaptay: Turkey is more important then we generally recognize because as the only NATO country bordering Iraq it is a vital outlet for all sorts of US operations there. For example, three-quarters of all cargo that goes to US troops in Iraq goes through southern Turkey.

    So while Turkey is not part of the coalition, I would say its continuing support is vital if not crucial to US plans in Iraq, whether those plans are a smart surge in troops or a smart withdrawal of troops.

    BI: Turkey continues to be a crucial ally to the US but with an Islamist party in power. Is there some lesson to be drawn from this in terms of how political Islamic parties can have relations with the US and still pursue their own interests?

    Cagaptay: I would turn it around and say that even in this most pro-western and secular, if predominantly Muslim, society, the Turkish experience with the AKP government in power since 2002 shows that Islamist parties can initiate changes in rather unexpected ways.

    When the AKP came to power, US favorability ranking was incredibly high in Turkey. Turks notoriously do not like any one completely, so when 60 percent of Turks like someone, it’s like getting 100 percent. In 2002, America’s favorability ranking in Turkey was at 52 percent, in other words incredibly high. Today it’s at seven, nine, 12 percent, depending on what poll you look at.

    What has changed is not that the AKP has made Turkey institutionally less secular, but it has altered Turkey’s foreign policy direction. Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country but was always led by secular parties that turned Turks’ heads to the West. This is the first time a Turkish government is turning Turkish heads to the Muslim Middle East. As a result, I think Turks’ political sympathies are now more with Iran, for example, then America. Iran’s favorability ranking is now at 43 percent.

    Largely secular and pro-western Turkey has turned its head under the AKP to the Middle East and specifically to a number of Muslim issues, Hizballah and Hamas among them. The government’s foreign policy and rhetoric has played a large role in that transition.

    BI: You say that, but surely American policy in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, must have played a large part?

    Cagaptay: I agree. I think US foreign policy and the PKK issue are huge factors in America’s drop in popularity among the Turks. But there is something peculiar about the change in attitudes toward the West in Turkey. The drop in favorability ranking is bigger than in other Muslim majority countries. In Jordan, for instance, US favorability ranking was about 23 percent in 2002 and dropped to 12 percent. In Turkey, it dropped from 52 to seven percent, twice or three times the drop. There is something different in Turkey, and it’s not just about US policy under George Bush or the PKK.

    BI: How much is that related to the problems with EU membership?

    Cagaptay: That’s not necessarily part of the same picture but it is related. When the EU process started, support for it was universal in Turkey at 80-90 percent. Now that support is down to 30-40 percent. What’s happening is that Turks have realized that the EU train is not moving. Talks have stopped, largely for political reasons. Most Turks are realizing that they are being treated differently, and they believe this is because they are a Muslim country.

    BI: How much of this change in attitudes can also be attributed to a resurgence of Islamic pride?

    Cagaptay: I think this is very significant. Underneath a strong Turkish national identity we are seeing a build-up of Islamic pride. It’s kind of like a perfect storm. On the one hand there is the Iraq war, a root cause for the rise in Islamic pride everywhere. On the other, there is the PKK issue, a specific Turkish cause for anti-American sentiment. And what makes it a perfect constellation is that you have an Islamist government in power. If Turkey had had a secular government in power we would still have seen a rise in anti-American sentiment, but it wouldn’t have gone from warm to deep-freeze.

    BI: Do you expect a change after the elections?

    Cagaptay: Turkey’s attitudes toward the West will be modified if opposition parties come to power. Turkey, while a Muslim majority country, is basically a country in which the elite for decades made a convincing argument to the people that the country’s interest lay with the West. This is the first time Turks have a government not making this argument and it is not an accident that Turks’ attention has turned to the Middle East. But if a party makes a convincing pro-western argument, it should be a winning ticket.-Published 1/3/2007 © bitterlemons-international.org

    Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an Ertegun Professor at Princeton University, and chair of the Turkey Program at the State Department's Foreign Service Institute.

    Chirac’s ‘friendship with Turkey’: All talk and no action
    With French President Jacques Chirac's recent announcement that he would not be standing for a third term as president it appears that the friendship with Turkey of which he spoke so frequently will remain as words rather than deeds.

    Chirac, who was described as a "supporter of Turkey" in the international arena and in his own country, has faced many difficult periods during his 12-year tenure as France's president.

    He entered the French political scene in 1965, with one of his most memorable features being his ability to swing through 180 degrees on a variety of subjects, including those he had defended with great energy. It was due to this flexibility that he quickly earned the nickname "girouette," which means "pinwheel."

    Chirac's career has even seen a brief foray into communism, though he started as a conservative before switching to liberalism in the late 1970s. Despite being responsible for France's nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean, Chirac later went on to become a staunch environmentalist. Though he is known today as being among the "most European" of European leaders, he was in fact opposed to the European Union during much of the 1990s. As mayor of Paris for eight years, prime minister for two terms and president of France since 1995, Chirac's stance towards Turkey has not been immune to his pinwheel-like behavior.

    EU membership: At the 1997 EU summit in Luxembourg, Chirac openly expressed his sadness at Turkey not being granted candidate status. Two years later, when it was announced at the Helsinki summit that Turkey had been granted this status, Chirac allowed Javier Solana to take his private plane to bring the news in person to Ankara. In speeches over the following years, Chirac expressed frequent support for Turkish membership of the EU. Chirac continued to publicly defend Turkey's "European" status, even in 2004 when the ruling Union for Popular Movement (UMP) and the public opposition was against Turkish EU membership.

    Despite Chirac's "positive" actions on the above-mentioned fronts, the leader approved the taking of a referendum on Turkish membership and registered this condition in the French Constitution. This stance by Chirac opened the path to similar demands from other EU countries. Chirac was also among the names at the 2002 Copenhagen summit pushing to block a date being given to Turkey for the start of accession talks.

    Armenian genocide claims: All the developments that took place in France in relation to the so-called Armenian genocide law took place under Chirac's term; the draft came up for discussion in the French Parliament in 1998 and was officially turned into a bill in 2001. Despite warnings from various French legal experts that the law was in direct opposition to the French Constitution, and despite the fact that the president himself had admitted he was against it, Chirac decided to bypass the Constitutional Council and approved it himself.

    The Armenian bill opened the path to a deep crisis between Turkey and France that still affects relations. Chirac took a stance of "opposition" to the bill, accepted last year in the French Parliament, which calls for penalties for those who publicly deny the claims of an Armenian genocide. He noted that history could not be determined via laws. But then on his official visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan, Chirac did not only utter the word "genocide" but also stated publicly that in order for Turkey to become an EU member, it would have to accept the Armenian claims.

    Demirel's visit to Paris never reciprocated: Despite the fact that Turkey has remained on the French public agenda since he first became president, Chirac has never made an official visit to Turkey. In 1998, then Turkish President Süleyman Demirel visited Paris as the guest of Chirac, the first trip of its level from Ankara since 1967. After Demirel visited Paris, Turkey awaited a reciprocal visit from France, but it never occurred and was instead constantly postponed for political reasons. Chirac, who was "unable to go to Turkey," chose instead to visit Armenia last year.

    As the first French President to visit Yerevan, Chirac declared 2007 the "the Year of Armenia" in France. In the face of the many diplomatic problems experienced with Turkey, Chirac still managed to oversee the sales of Airbus airplanes from France to Turkey. However, another French ambition, to participate in the bidding for contracts in Turkey's nuclear power plant plans, was waylaid by the Armenian genocide bill.

    Popularity at its lowest: Chirac's announcement that he would not be running again for the presidency was greeted with pleasure by other presidential candidates. There is now great curiosity as to who exactly Chirac will support in the race to become the next French president and, in particular, what his stance is with regard to the conservative candidate, Nikolas Sarkozy. Chirac has said that he will reveal whom he supports after March 19.

    Extreme-right-wing leader Jean Marie Le Pen reacted to Chirac's departure with the comment, "I am losing my greatest enemy." More than 22 million people watched Chirac's departure speech, and it is notable that the president's latest popularity standings had touched bottom, according to recent polls, and that he was characterized in both the French press and by the public as "unsuccessful." Chirac has been repeatedly criticized for his part in the failure of the European Constitution after he brought it to a referendum in France.


    Perinçek appeals Swiss court decision on Armenian ‘genocide’
    A Turkish politician has appealed his conviction by a Swiss court for denying that the early 20th century killing of Armenians was genocide, his lawyer said Monday.

    Laurent Moreillon said Dogu Perinçek, the leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, made his appeal to the cantonal (state) court in Vaud where he was convicted by a lower tribunal earlier this week and ordered to pay a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs.

    Perinçek, who was also given a suspended penalty of 9,000 francs, around $7,360, and ordered to pay 1,000 francs to an Armenian association, had repeatedly denied during a visit to Switzerland in 2005 that the World War I-era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide.

    The case was seen as a test of Switzerland's anti-racism law as to whether denying that Turks committed genocide was indeed a violation of that law. The legislation has previously been applied to Holocaust denial.

    The case has caused diplomatic tension between Switzerland and Turkey which insists Armenians were killed in civil unrest during the tumultuous collapse of the Ottoman Empire and not in a planned campaign of genocide.

    Turkey called the case against Perinçek "inappropriate, baseless and debatable in every circumstance."

    Support for Perinçek

    Meanwhile, Aytaç Durak, who is the head of the Association of Turkish Municipalities and Mayor of the southern city of Adana, suggested paying off the fines ordered by the Swiss court.

    In a letter to Perinçek, Durak accused Switzerland of hypocrisy for defending freedom of speech but not practicing it. Referring to the court's conviction, Durak wrote, "I take the decision by surprise. If the penalty becomes certain, I'd like to pay 9,000 Swiss francs personally."


    A Brave Cause
    Sabahat Demir
    TURKIYE- In years past, French historians stated that the so-called Armenian genocide allegations should be discussed between historians by examining documents. But the West, which supposedly prioritizes science, turned its back on science by ignoring the scholars’ decision.

    European Union member states, which are urging Turkey to change Article 301, contrary to their principles, have begun one by one to enact laws to punish denial of the Armenian ‘genocide.’

    Western countries, which also put into force of laws forbidding denial of the so-called Armenian genocide, have revealed that their loyalty to the principles of European civilization is just a show.

    Angry at suffering a clear wrong, we have written on the matter and made speeches, while others organized panels.

    Unfortunately this has accomplished little.

    Criticisms have been voiced that Turks don’t seem very active, as while the Armenian diaspora’s efforts in Western countries are heating up, our premier’s proposal of a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians to discuss the issue in light of documents hasn’t gained any ground among Armenians. But everybody has something to do for this cause.

    Here, Labor Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek blazed a trail by providing an example of how a cause can be defended bravely.

    What did he do?

    By traveling to Switzerland -- which has made it a crime to deny the genocide allegations -- with documents in hand, Perincek showed the courage and bravery to say ‘the so-called Armenian genocide is an imperialist lie.’

    In other words, he showed how to wage a democratic fight by attracting world attention to the issue.

    He demonstrated to the entire world that Switzerland , which arrogantly calls itself a land of freedom, in reality lacks freedom of speech.

    Perincek stood in court in Switzerland for his remarks. A prejudiced judge sentenced him to pay 9,000 Swiss franks in lieu of 90 days in prison. Perincek said he would appeal the decision.

    Perincek was welcomed by his supporters with great enthusiasm when he came back to the country a few days ago. I hope that Perincek’s brave stance and cause will be a good example to all those who love their land and want to defend the rights of the public.

    The Region: Perception And Identity
    Barry Rubin
    13 March 2007
    Jerusalem Post
    Let's talk about two key issues concerning Turkey. First, in what direction is that extremely important country going? Second, why are US-Turkish relations about to face a very serious crisis? In April, Turkey will choose a new president. In November, it will pick a new parliament. If Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to be president, it is hard to see who is going to stop him. The Justice and Development (AKP) party government is in a very strong position, with the opposition parties still very much divided, unable to offer a common program or a single inspiring or charismatic leader.

    So this raises once again the central question of Turkish politics: Is the AKP a conservative, traditionalist party which is moderate in pushing more Islam onto Turkish society, or is it an Islamist party in moderate clothing, plotting the total transformation of Turkish society?

    There are many people on both sides of this argument, an issue which is of the deepest and greatest importance for the country's future. In some ways, perhaps, they are both right.

    The AKP contains elements which understand that its success is based on being a moderate party that wants to join Europe through the European Union. It may be against the "Kemalist" elite which has long dominated the country but stands for democracy and a largely - if less completely - secular society.

    At the same time, there are hard-line elements that want to take Turkey, step by step, down a road that would undo the revolution of Kemal Ataturk, turning Turkey into a somewhat more moderate version of Iran. As the AKP conquers the key positions of Turkey - already the parliament and prime ministership; soon the presidency? - it wants to install teachers, judges, and laws which will make their social domination comprehensive and irreversible.

    The problem may be that the more power the AKP has, and the less effective opposition it faces, the more tempting it will be to raise its demands. If the AKP has to worry about being blocked or checked by courts, criticized in the media, and defeated in elections, the more cautious and hence moderate it might be.

    At any rate, Turkey may be about to find out how an AKP whose control is ever widening will act.

    MEANWHILE, trouble is also brewing on the international scene. The Democrats in the newly elected US Congress are promising to support a resolution asserting that Turkey committed genocide during World War I. If this passes, Turkey will be outraged - not just the politicians, but the population in general - and will take strong action. Anti-Americanism in Turkey, already at high levels, will climb even more upward. The outcome will be a strengthening of more extreme forces: the AKP (and more radical elements in that party) and the nationalist plus semi-Islamist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

    In the past, such an outcome was prevented by the White House, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, quietly telling Congress that passing such a bill was bad for US interests. Today, Congress has no interest in listening to what the current president might say on that matter.

    Proponents of Armenian genocide claim that there could have been anywhere from 600,000 to as many as one million Armenian casualties of Ottoman soldiers or irregular units. If Armenian communities and nationalist movements had focused attention in recent decades on those massacres, instead of genocide (which is a far more grave accusation), they would have won universal support. Turkey would probably be facing far more criticism, damage to its reputation, and pressure to apologize and pay compensation than it does today.

    I wouldn't be surprised if, in these circumstances, such actions would have become a condition for Turkey's membership in the European Union.

    BUT THE Armenian groups chose a different strategy, summed up by the word "genocide." They insisted that the Ottoman Empire had committed this most terrible of all crimes and had to be found guilty. Responsibility for this passed to Turkey, the successor state. It is also worth pointing out, however, that the present-day republic of Turkey arose by overthrowing the Ottoman Empire and those who had governed it in World War I.

    This strategy greatly raised the stakes while doing two things that led to its relative failure.

    First, the Armenians now had to prove that the Ottoman Empire had consciously, deliberately and systematically decided to wipe out the Armenians. And this they could not do because evidence was lacking. A very high standard of proof is required for genocide. As a result, an easy Armenian victory was turned into a far tougher struggle.

    Second, the Turks can point to extenuating circumstances: it was wartime, the first act of aggression was from the Armenians taking arms against their own government; Armenian units were being raised to fight against the Ottomans as part of the Russian army; Armenians also massacred Turks; and indeed, close to 2.5 million Anatolian Muslims died due to starvation, disease and fighting during this period of Ottoman history.

    EVEN IF one does not accept the plea of "self-defense," most of the world is thus ready to acquit the Ottomans of first-degree murder, while they might easily have convicted them on a charge of manslaughter, a serious but lesser crime. The United States and the West need Turkey today to deal with Iran, Iraq, Central Asia, and lots of other issues.

    It would be wrong to look the other way if Turkey was guilty of genocide. But why should critical relations be sacrificed on the basis of a wrongful accusation?

    At the same time, of course, Turkey's number-one foreign policy goal - full membership in the EU - is in jeopardy. The Europeans are reluctant to admit Turkey for a long list of reasons including religious, cultural, economic and political. Things have just reached the point where it is starting to become clear that Turkey cannot please enough Europeans to get in for a very long time.

    So there are two issues right now for Turkey: One is how it sees itself; the other is how others see it.


    Armenians Made Co-Operation With The Nazis In Iran And Syria
    Jan Soykok
    13 March 2007
    Turkish Weekly
    Though anti-Semitism has been strong among the Armenians, the Nazi-Armenian co-operation is one of the unknown pages of the Armenian history. The New York Times’ 24 July 1941-report however shows us that the Armenians made great co-operation in Iran and Syria with the Nazi officers during the Second World War against Turkey and Iran. The report titled ‘Armenians in Iran Inflamed by Nazis’ says that the German Nazis promised ‘greater Armenia’ for the Armenian nationalists:

    “German agents operating in Tehran are attempting to foment disorders and inflame the Armenian population to sabotage and revolt against the present Iranian government, promising money now and territory later for ‘Greater Armenia’ after the war, according to disclosures by high foreign diplomatic sources here today. Armenian irredentists are receiving promises of an independent Armenia composed of Azerbaijan and bits of former Armenia in Iran… Germans who provide the funds for the propaganda and for Armenian terrorists. The latter are being instructed in the creation of disorders and frontier incidents, such as the one that occurred five days ago on Syrian-Turkish border.” (Ray Brock, ‘Armenians in Iran Inflamed by Nazis’, The New York Times, 24 July 1941, p. 4).

    Dogu Perincek To Appeal Sentence For Armenia Genocide Denial
    13 March 2007
    Turkish Press
    Dogu Perincek will appeal his conviction under a Swiss law for denying that mass killings of Armenians during World War One constituted genocide, his lawyer said on Monday. Perincek, the leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, received a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs (1,900 euros, 2,500 dollars) and a suspended sentence last Friday from a court in Lausanne, over comments he made during a rally in the Swiss city in 2005. He was the first person to be convicted in Switzerland for denying the Armenian genocide, following his claim the killings were an "international lie".

    Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap said on Friday that Perincek was an "arrogant provocateur" with "racist and nationalist motives".

    In response, Perincek said the court's ruling "reflects in a concrete manner the Swiss judge's hatred for Turkey and the Turkish nation."

    Bagis On Armenian Resolution
    13 March 2007
    Turkish Press
    "If the draft (on the so-called Armenian genocide) submitted to the U.S. Congress is adopted, Turkish-U.S. relations will be harmed by the Congress itself," Egemen Bagis, Justice & Development Party (AKP) MP, said on Tuesday. Bagis is a member of the Turkish parliamentary delegation actually in Washington D.C. to lobby against the draft resolution. In an exclusive interview with the A.A correspondent, Bagis said, "we are endeavoring to prevent the U.S. Congress to make a wrong historic decision. We will inform and warn them within this scope."

    Expressing uneasiness over the situation since he is also the Chairman of Turkish-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, Bagis said, "Congress members are under pressure by their own voters. The voters exerce pressure for their own ethnic interests."

    "This resolution will also kill the chance of Armenia to open up to the West. Turkey is the gate for Armenia to open to the Western world. This is a passage of peace, civilization, democracy and economic development. However, Armenia insistently try to close this gate through such kind of campaigns," Bagis indicated.

    "Armenia should abandon remaining stuck between the controversial pages of the history and should catch up with the 21st century. In that case we will have many things to discuss with Armenia," Bagis noted.

    On the other hand Turkish parliamentary delegation members met executives of AIPAC, a Jewish institution, on Monday evening.

    The delegation is expected to have talks in U.S. State Department and meet executives of some Jewish organizations today.

    The delegation will also have talks in the Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.

    The meaningful April 23 International Childrens Day and April 25 Anzac Day Celebrations in Turkey and the sad and baseless April 24 Commemorations in Armenia, USA and Around The World
    March 10, 2007

    On April 23rd, as the Turkish World and their friends will celebrate the National Sovereignity and Children’s Day holiday, as they have done since 1920 when the Turkish Grand National Assembly was established, over a thousand young students from 50 countries will come to Turkey for the 29th International Childrens day celebrations in Antalya, joining their hosts commemorating an event in a spectacular show of peace and friendship. While annual allegations that perpetuate hatred are made by the Armenians in April every year, TRT invites children from all over the world to promote love and understanding, with hope that the children of the world live in peace. It is sad that the children from the Republic of Armenia will not be among them, enjoying the wonderful bond with students from Turkey and others, denied by the government of a nation which supports terrorism and perpetuates hatred. There is no school from the US participating this year either, although there was representation for four years in the past.

    On April 25, the Australians and the New Zealanders will travel to Gallipoli, Turkey, and hold another commemoration at the Anzac Cove, as they do every year, and will celebrate the establishment of their states. As they pay their respects to their fallen comrades in 1915, they will read the message of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to the parents of the Anzac soldiers, engraved in the Turkish Memorial.

    ‘’Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives..you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in Peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well’’ (1934)

    On April 24th, most Armenians in the United States and around the world will commemorate a mythical genocide, invented for the sole purpose of creating hatred against the Turks everywhere as a revenge and catalyst for the continuation of their identities and raising money for their poor country. Armenia has become the second leading per capita recipient of U.S. foreign aid, behind Israel. Many of their supporters will join them, not knowing the real truth behind their motives and without realizing that the Armenian Diaspora in the U.S. and other countries were established by the thousands who left the Ottoman Turkish lands willingly, long before the conflict and the relocation in 1915. If, as claimed 1.5 million Armenians were annihilated, the number close to the total population of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time, where did all the people in the Diaspora come from?

    We should all protest this meaningless Armenian commemoration and urge everyone to speak against the Resolutions and convince their congressmen not to bring this to the House of Representatives or the Senate. The Armenians should read some of the books written by Greeks on the establishment of friendship and business relations between the two peoples. The Greek writer Dido Sotiriyu tells the following in her book ‘’Send My Greetings to Anatolia’’:

    ‘’And you, the son-in-law of Blind Mehmet! Especially you. Why are you looking at me with revulsion on your face? Yes, I killed you, so what? And again I am crying….You killed too! Brothers, friends, fellow countrymen… A huge generation killed each other for no reason!. The son-in-law of Blind Mehmet, send my greetings to my homeland! Send my greetings to Anatolia!. You should not feel hatred against us because we soaked your land with blood. God damn the executioners that allowed the brother kill his brother:’’

    Greeks invaded Anatolia in 1919 with the support of the Western powers, killed thousands of civilians and destroyed many villages and towns. They were defeated by the Turks under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal who spared the life of the Greek Commander Trikopis and established good relations with Venizelos, who later became the Prime Minister of Greece and nominated Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize. Turks and Greeks have been able to create a sense of reconciliation and peace that benefits the people of both countries.

    Armenians revolted against their own government following the 1878 Berlin Treaty to establish a state of their own on lands where they were not the majority and joined the Russians in the fight against the Ottomans. William Saroyan, the Armenian-American writer, the son of an Armenian from Bitlis, wrote about this episode that came closest to the above statement by his Greek colleague when he said that ‘’The real enemy of the Armenians were the Russians, not the Turks’’. Saroyan wrote many books, received the Pulitzer prize for his book on the second world war ‘’The Human Comedy’’ and told the story of the Armenian Tragedy in his short story ‘’Antranik of Armenia’’.

    The war was with the Turks of course. The other enemies were less active than the Turks, but watchful. When the time came one of these, in the name of love, not hate, accomplished in no time at all what the Turks, who were more honest, whose hatred was unconcealed, could not accomplish in hundreds of years. These were the Russians.

    What happened between 1878 and April 24, 1915, the day that the Armenians commemorate as Genocide Day, claiming falsely that the Turks massacred 1.5 million Armenians, was the consequences of Armenian uprisings in the eastern Anatolia while the Armenians in the western Anatolia were continuing their lives as an integral part of the Ottoman society. The Armenians in the east started killing Turks long before 1915 when they formed armed committees and started wholesale massacre of defenseless Turkish villagers and revolted against their own government, hoping to establish a state on lands where they were not the majority. Some members of their committees also carried terrorist activities in Istanbul. The Ottoman Government, which had several Armenian members, retaliated and issued an order for their relocation from the sensitive areas. Many Armenians died. These are all well documented and told by the Armenian authors in their never ending ‘’Memoirs’’, totally ignoring the atrocities committed by themselves and the killing of innocent Moslems. Books written by the Turks and Americans like Samuel Weems tell the other side of the tragedy, which is ignored by the Armenian authors.

    Please look beyond the Armenian propaganda, first started during the late nineteenth century wave of nationalism and the first world war by the outside powers, just as Sotiriyu and Saroyan tell in their books. British Arnold Toynbee and American Ambassador. Morgenthau produced misinformed and misguided documents devoid of facts on the Armenian issue to induce the United States to enter the war on the side of the Allies, and authors like Aram Andonian and Franz Werfel wrote books based on distorted facts, admitting later that they had erred. The US Holocaust memorial Museum exhibits a fabricated quotation from Hitler on the Armenians, which should be removed.

    Extremist Armenians around the world and their supporters should heed the April 23rd and April 25th celebrations and stop deceiving the people of the world with fabricated Armenian Genocide commemorations, instead honor the death of everyone. Turkey and Armenia should be friends. The only path for this is through a declaration to the world that they have been lied to and that the tragedy was their own doing, which resulted in killings on both sides, not by pressuring the US Congress and State Assemblies to pass resolutions proclaiming a mythical genocide. They should admit their share in the tragedies, just like Sotiriyu does in his book. As the President of the U.S. George W. Bush declared in 2000 in April, ‘’let us remember the past’’ but as it actually evolved, not as it has been reconstructed by the selfish Armenians, and let its lessons guide us as we seek to build a better future for all the children of the world.


    Yuksel Oktay
    New Jersey

    French Union of Chambers president visits TOBB
    March 14, 2007
    ANK – Anatolia news agency

    The European Union has serious internal problems today, said Rifat Hisarciklioglu, president of the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB).

    “The EU is facing real challenges trying to overcome those issues. The greatest weakness is the lack of leadership,” said Hisarciklioglu during a visit by the French Union of Chambers committee led by their president, Jean François Bernardin.

    Hisarciklioglu noted that 2009 in France has been declared as the year of Turkey and said that plans for activities to present the various faces Turkey are under way.

    “As we all know France is among the founding members of the EU. French diplomats' leadership sculpted the world's peace and comfort project we know as the EU. We think that after the elections in France this leadership trouble will be overcome,” said Hisarciklioglu.

    “Civil dialogue is one of the three important components in Turkey-EU relations, he said, adding that therefore I see Bernardin's visit and the agreements we have reached for 2009 as a great vehicle related to the civil dialog,” he said.

    “Both countries' broad based unions putting their hands under a rock would include not only the certain centers but the entire country. Therefore this is a step of great meaning and importance,” said Hisarciklioglu.

    The problem is misunderstanding:

    All problems between Turkey and France derive from misunderstanding, said Bernardin.

    Businessmen manage the economy therefore their sanctions are much more important than those of politicians, he said, adding: “What's important to us is improving economic relations. I hope for the ideas of the citizens of both countries to change soon.”

    Responding to a question related to the elections in France and the candidacy of Nicolas Sarkozy, who is known for his ideas, which are not keen on Turkey, Bernardin said, “Becoming a president means one becomes responsible for an entire country. If Sarkozy is elected, I believe his views may change.”

    Responding to questions related to the alleged Armenian genocide, Bernardin said that both Turkey and France have to take steps in order to make the Turkish voice heard in France. People sharing joint cultures have to move together to calm the situation down, he said and added that a positive solution to the situation needs to be found soon.

     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix
    U.S. Consul Says Armenian Bill Would Be Unhelpful To Solve Problems Between Turkey, Armenia
    ADANA - "We do not believe that an Armenian bill submitted to the Congress would help solving problems between Turkey and Armenia," US Consul to the southern city of Adana Eric Green said Monday.

    Green noted that the they understood Turkish concerns that the bill might damage relations between Turkey and the US.

    "We prefer historians would tackle with these issues because relations might be hurt when politicians and diplomats get involved in such discussions. We want to focus on preserving and continuing cooperation with Turkey," Green told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting at a local journalists' association in Adana.

    Green also said that the US government has been exerting every effort in its capacity to avert the Congressional approval of the bill, but added that problems between Turkey and Armenia should "somehow be solved."

    "We would like Turkey to assume a critical approach to its own past," he stated.

    © 2007 Anadolu Agency

    United States Does Not Have The Luxury Of Losing Turkey, Wexler
    While controversy over the draft resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide, which was earlier submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives, is going on, Robert Wexler, a U.S. Congressman & Co-Chairman of the Congress' Turkey Caucus & the Congressional Study Group on Turkey, said in an interview with the Sabah daily that the United States cannot afford to lose an important ally like Turkey.

    Wexler, one of the most influential members of the U.S. Congress who describes himself as an ally and admirer of Turkey, admitted that the United States failed to keep promises it made to Turkey regarding the fight against the terrorist organization PKK.

    Wexler portrayed Turkey as the most important ally (in the region) following Israel, as well as the most progressive and modern Muslim country. He said that Turkey has a great economic power, a significant cultural asset and is a significant factor of stability in its region thanks to its military power.

    Referring to the influence exerted by ethnic lobbies --including Armenian lobby-- on the U.S. Congress, Wexler said that they had been trying to do everything in their power to create a positive environment at the U.S. Congress by underscoring the importance of Turkey from the point of view of United States' national interests.

    He stressed that it was meaningless to complicate the situation in a period when thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq receive vital logistic support from Turkey and especially from the Incirlik base in southern Turkey.

    ''Considering the rising influence of Russia in the region, with its aggressive attitudes in energy policies; tension in the Middle East; and ongoing Sunni-Shiite clashes; the United States needs support from Turkey more than ever'', he said.

    Wexler noted that Turkey, as a regional power, had always fulfilled its commitments, and extended full support to the (ISAF) International Security Force in Afghanistan.

    ''We should start fulfilling our promises we gave to Turkey'', he concluded.

    © 2007 Anadolu Agency / Sabah

    'Armenians in a tolerant society' symposium in Çiragan
    March 12, 2007
    Vercihan Ziflioglu
    The second part of “Art of Living Together in Ottoman Society,” an academic symposium arranged by the Erciyes University International Social Researches Symposium took place at Çiragan Palace on Saturday.

    Erciyes University Rector Cengiz Utas, Turkish Armenians Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan, Topkapi Palace Museum Director Ilber Ortayli and Erciyes University professor Metin Hülagü gave speeches at the symposium, where many scientists and businesspersons participated.

    Cengiz Utas underlined the importance of the symposium, pointing out that Turkish-Armenian relations have not been examined in the aspect of “art of living together.”

    “Problems between Ankara and Yerevan may only be solved if Turkish-Armenian relations are examined with the help of academic data,” said Utas, adding that the entente between Turks and Armenians was growing constantly and the two communities were indivisible parts of a common culture.

    According to Utas, the symposium will be helpful to that process. Last year's symposium communiqués were pressed under the title “Armenians in a Society of Tolerance” and will be translated into Armenian, English and Russian.

    Turkish Armenians Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan stated that the two societies had been living together since the fifth century. He also blamed Turkish and Armenian nationalists as they keep bringing the events, which took place in the later years of Ottoman Empire to the agenda constantly. Mutafyan also said that recurring threats after the assassination of Hrant Dink disturbed the Armenian community.

    “Sometimes I ask myself if I was living in the land that I had been born,” said Mutafyan in his final words. “Turks, Armenian, Greeks, Jews, we altogether unite being Istanbul natives.”

    Topkapi Palace Museum Director Ilber Ortayli's speech was directed towards the Armenian diaspora, saying that everybody's talk about one subject would not help solve the problems; contrarily it would make problems grow bigger.

    Ortayli also suggested that the Institute of Armenology Research should be opened in Turkey, as he believes that Erciyes University would claim this mission.

    Professor Metin Hülagü said that propaganda could be crucial as he asserted that World War I was a time when propaganda was at its most active, giving the example of the “Blue Book.”

    Second group of lawmakers starts lobbying in US
    March 12, 2007
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
    A second group of Turkish legislators started a visit to Washington yesterday to lobby members of the U.S. Congress against a resolution recognizing the killings of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

    Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies Egemen Bagis, also a foreign policy advisor to the Turkish prime minister, and Reha Denemeç will today join the group made up of AKP deputy Vahit Erdem, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies Ersin Arioglu and Bihlun Tamayligil. The deputies are scheduled today to meet Turkish Ambassador in Washington Nabi Sensoy. On Tuesday, they will participate in a meeting of the Turkish-American Council and have talks with the members of the Jewish organizations in the United States. On Thursday they will have contacts with the members of the U.S. Congress and the next day they are expected to return to Turkey. The first of the planned three separate delegations, including members of both the AKP and the CHP, started a visit to Washington in late February to seek support against the resolution, expected to be debated at the House of Representatives soon. The third delegation plans to lobby in Washington next month.

    Turkey adopts EU criteria for Turkish coffee
    Turkey's attempts to harmonize with European Union laws for the accession process now include world-renowned Turkish coffee.

    Turkish coffee will have to meet certain criteria in order to be eligible as a European export product under a newly issued decree from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The decree sets standards regulating the amount of caffeine and humidity and gives coffee producers one year to comply with the new standards.

    Previously, kokoreç -- a popular snack made of grilled lamb intestines -- was cleared for EU takeoff with regulations setting hygienic standards for preparation.

    As part of its efforts to set EU standards in the Turkish food sector -- seemingly one of the most challenging areas in the harmonization process -- the Agriculture Ministry has drafted the Coffee and Coffee Products decree. The decree introduces new standards for pest management, the use of agrochemicals, packaging, labeling, transportation, storage, sampling and analyses made during coffee cultivation and processing. Raw and roasted coffee beans, grinded coffee and coffee extract, soluble coffee, instant coffee or instant coffee extract fall under the scope of the decree.

    The ministry's draft is based on directive 1999/4/EC of the European Parliament and the Council relating to coffee extracts and chicory extracts, setting standards for hygienic cultivation, processing, storage, delivery and retail of coffee and coffee products.

    The draft begins by defining what is considered as coffee. Seeds from Coffea arabica Lyn, Coffea canephora or Coffea robusta, Coffea liberica and similar coffee plant varieties -- picked, defruited, dried and sorted by various methods are defined as coffee in the draft. The draft also defines roasted coffee beans as "raw coffee beans roasted in accordance with standard roasting procedures."

    Caffeine amount limited

    The decree sets standards coffee as defined in the text should possess. The maximum caffeine content is set at 0.2 percent in coffee based dry matter and decaffeinated raw beans, at 0.1 percent in decaffeinated roasted or ground coffee and at 0.3 percent in soluble coffee extract and in soluble coffee. The minimum amount of caffeine raw beans should contain is 0.8 percent while the maximum amount of humidity allowed is 14 percent.

    Raw coffee beans shall possess the right color, taste and aroma typical of the plant and be completely cleaned of dead insects or the remains of rodents. The total maximum rate of rotten, moldy seeds and other substances allowed is 5 percent of the total weight of the sample. The dry matter content soluble in water must be not less than 22 percent by weight in the case of decaffeinated roasted coffee beans and decaffeinated grinded coffee. Names such as Turkish coffee, Espresso or filtered coffee will be allowed for marketing uses and retailing in accordance with the processing method. Ercan Yavuz Ankara


    How has the West alienated the Turks?
    SAHIN ALPAY s.alpay@todayszaman.com
    There has been a sharp decline in support in Turkish public opinion for the country’s European Union membership. Some surveys say only about a third of the population is still positive toward the prospect of joining the union. Furthermore, the US has never been as unpopular in Turkey as it is today, with some surveys indicating that only about one in 10 people have any sympathy for the country. On these grounds much is currently being said and written about Turkey’s moving away from the West. The truth, however, is the other way around: It is the West that has moved away from Turkey. Let us begin with the EU.

    In December 1999 the EU declared Turkey a “Candidate State destined to join the EU on the basis of the same criteria as applied to other Candidate States.” It was announced in December 2004 that the negotiation process was “an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand,” meaning there was no commitment on the part of the EU to accept Turkey. Even if the negotiations were to be concluded successfully the EU would have to consider its “absorption capacity” and reserved the right to stipulate “long transitional periods, derogations, specific arrangements or permanent safeguard clauses.” Leading German, French and Austrian politicians started offering Turkey “privileged partnership” instead of full membership. France and Austria adopted legislation to subject future EU member states to approval by referanda to make sure the doors were closed to Turkey.

    Greek Cyprus, whose government, contrary to its commitments to work for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, actively campaigned against the plan of former UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan, has joined the union while the Turkish Cypriots, who strongly embraced the Annan plan, were left out. While the EU has supported the Annan plan, implicitly recognizing the existence of two different peoples on Cyprus, it regards the Greek government as the sole legal representative of the whole island. The Greek Cypriot government is using its EU membership as a leverage for a return to pre-1974 conditions.

    The European Court of Human Rights, the judgments of which form part of the EU Acquis Communitaire, has endorsed the headscarf ban in Turkish universities. The European Commission has never referred to this ban as a violation of religious rights in Turkey. The European Parliament has called for the recognition by Turkey of the “Armenian genocide” and of other “genocides” committed by the Ottoman State. Certain European politicians have even demanded recognition of the “Armenian genocide” be set as a precondition for Turkish membership in the EU.

    The widespread identification of Islam with terrorism, and the rising tide of Islamophobia in the West in the aftermath of Sept. 11, is certainly not welcome among the Turks. The publishing of denigrating cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe and the references by Pope Benedict XVI to Islam as “inhuman and evil” have also helped spread the image of the EU as a “Christian Club” where Turkey is not wanted.

    The administration of US President George W. Bush has also done its best to alienate Turkish public opinion. The invasion of Iraq with no legitimate justification has turned Turkey’s neighboring country into a hotbed of terrorism and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims. The Bush administration has unconditionally supported Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people. It talks about a “war on terrorism,” but does nothing to stop the terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from using northern Iraq as a base to attack Turkey. The chaos in Iraq seriously threatens stability here.

    Widespread disappointment with the EU and indignation against the US can surely not be explained by the “Islamist fundamentalist” government’s conspiring to move Turkey away from the West or by the rising tide of Turkish nationalism. Just three years ago over 70 percent of Turks surveyed were in favor of EU membership. During the presidency of Bill Clinton the US ranked among the most popular foreign nations. (It is thus certainly not anti-Americanism, but anti-Bushism which is rampant in Turkey today.) Resentment against the West is certainly being exploited by ultranationalist groups, who are far from representing the mainstream, but that resentment is certainly shared by the great majority and is spread across the full political spectrum.

    Does all this mean Turkey is likely to change its Western orientation? That is the topic of another column.

    Problematic alliance
    Relations between Turkey and the US have, from the very start, been characterized by their up and down nature. But despite the various crises and difficulties neither side has ever considered completely breaking off relations.

    The alliance has been beneficial for both sides in different ways, which is why it has continued. However, the Turkish-US alliance is today at its most difficult point since the 1947 Truman Doctrine.

    It was for the US, as much as it was for Turkey, a turning point when then-US President Harry S. Truman stood before Congress on March 12, 1947 and delivered an historic message that stressed the importance of support and protection for Turkey and Greece against the Soviet threat. When in the immediate wake of World War II the Soviet Union demanded the right to place its soldiers on the straits of Turkey (Bosporus and Çanakkale) and to take land from eastern Anatolia, Turkey faced a new, real, concrete and life-threatening danger. Thus what the Truman Doctrine offered to Ankara, which was experiencing very difficult conditions at the time, was critical support.

    Until then the concept of alliances had been foreign to US tradition in international relations. In the past the US had tended to regard the spread of Soviet power from a strictly geographical perspective. Washington’s primary concern was focused on Turkey’s straits. Turkey’s eastern regions, in fact even the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, were overshadowed by the strategic importance of these straits. Despite this narrow geo-strategic perspective, which continued almost until the start of the 1950s, the Truman Doctrine heralded the first step towards radical changes in traditional US policies. From that date onward the US, as it began to shoulder responsibilities on a world level, started down the road toward becoming a superpower.

    Although the Truman Doctrine offered Turkey important support it did not quite satisfy Ankara. The Turkish capital was looking for an alliance that would promise even stronger security. After NATO was formed, Turkey began to see this very one-sided Western military alliance of nations as offering the strongest security possible and duly began to push with perseverance for membership. It was at this time that Turkey moved to a multiparty regime and, in order to show its belief in the Western alliance of nations, it sent soldiers to Korea. Finally in 1952 with the strong and decisive support of the US -- and in the face of opposition from many of the founding nations -- Turkey joined NATO.

    After Turkey became a NATO member its relations with the US began to develop further. It was able to benefit from the advantages of a multinational military alliance as a deterrent against the Soviet threat. At the same time the Turkish Armed Forces underwent a modernization process and, during the Cold War years, our contributions to NATO were great. By devoting up to 30 divisions to the area under the Soviet/Warsaw Pact, the Turkish Armed Forces greatly relieved the pressure presented by the Soviet military over the middle front of the NATO alliance centered in Germany. And the control over the straits guaranteed an unshakeable 1,500-kilometer NATO defense line over the Mediterranean -- spreading all the way down to Sicily. In addition Turkey allocated military bases and facilities for the use of NATO and the US. In short the benefits of the alliance were felt on all sides, not just in Ankara. Beyond this the new NATO alliance ensured that Turkey would continue to be the most functional regional tie to the West long after the Cold War was over.

    Within NATO though, Turkish-US relations were not entirely flawless. On the contrary the relations between the countries sometimes produced problems. For example Turkey was unable to fully embrace the Middle East policies of the US. It was natural that Turkey would have its own particular interests and problems when it came to relations with neighboring countries. The US was opposed to NATO attempts to expand into a shape which would include the Middle East and the Gulf of Basra in its ring of responsibilities. It fostered, in addition to its Soviet deterrent policies, a policy of trying to extend subtle messages of reassurance to Moscow rather than trying to openly frighten or scare the Soviet capital.This two-pronged policy from Washington occasionally brought the US and NATO to loggerheads. Within this framework Ankara did not accept a single project aimed at updating the short-range nuclear missiles based in Turkey. In addition the difficult relations between Turkey and Greece, as well as the continuing Cyprus problems, also managed to affect Turkey’s relations with both NATO and the US.

    Besides all these other issues, Turkish-US relations faced three serious crises during the Cold War years. One of these was that, during the 1962 Cuba crisis, midrange Jupiter missiles that had been placed on Turkish soil at the Cigli air base were removed following bargaining between the White House and the Kremlin. This in turn caused Ankara to enter into a crisis of trust with regards to the US. Another crisis that caused even deeper disappointment on the part of Ankara was the infamous 1964 Johnson letter. The third crisis came about with the passage of an arms embargo against Turkey by the US Congress in the wake of the 1974 Cyprus movement. The embargo was lifted in 1978, but after that the near-annual “genocide” bills brought before Congress by Armenian lobby groups perpetuated this tension.

    Turkey-US relations have never affected Turkish public opinion as negatively as they do now. The US has never experienced as great a loss of respect in the eyes of the Turkish public as it currently does. This phenomenon is one that has emerged in the wake of Sept. 11, the US invasion of Iraq and US Middle East policies in general. The neocon perspective on Islam; an outward stance that ignores religious sensitivities; an inability to cease the ongoing violence in Iraq; the failure to take appropriate precautions against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) presence in northern Iraq; and the discounting of Turkey’s various interests in Iraq: all of these are factors which have worked to poison Turkey’s relations with the US. As for the US side of matters, it also appears that certain politicians -- in particular those with military ties -- have not been able to rise above the desire for revenge in the wake of the shock resulting from the Turkish Parliament’s infamous March 1, 2003 decision.

    Despite the generally dark tableau presented here, the two allies can not break apart from one another. Their alliance continues. As a NATO member Turkey is providing support to the US in Afghanistan. A full 60 percent of equipment support for US soldiers in Iraq comes through Turkey. The Incirlik Air Force base in Adana provides support for the US efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Baser-Ralston cooperation (against PKK forces in northern Iraq) still continues. The US, which understands Turkey’s importance more than any other nation in the post-Cold War world, does not limit itself simply to expressing support for US membership in the European Union, it is working actively on this front. In the meantime the implementation of the F-35 jet project, which will bring the latest in airplane technology to Turkey, has begun.

    It would be incorrect to view Turkish-US relations from only one angle. This relationship has always been a problematic one and it is a fact that the problems faced nowadays are more serious than ever. But the alliance continues, in different shapes and forms. What needs to be focused on now is the search for ways to develop economic relations. An increase in the variety and type of economic ties, as well as between aspects of civil society between these two countries, would reduce pressure on strategic relations and would help in the overcoming of any crises which might occur in the future.


    Paper tiger
    The United States, which makes half of the world's defense expenditures and which is considered the richest country and the pioneer of technological advances in the world, is in fact a paper tiger.

    It is at the threshold of failure in Iraq, an underdeveloped country. The US appears to be hopeless face to face with the resistance of the Sunnis only since the Shiites and Kurds, two-thirds of the country's population, show no resistance at all. Moreover, the resisting Sunnis have no organization and leader. If they had a leader, we could ask him the following question: "You will certainly defeat the US, but will you be able to beat the Shiites and Kurds as well and reconstruct Iraq? They have a bigger population than yours and will receive external support in such a clash. You need a miracle. Can you achieve this?"


    The ban of Turks for Turks
    We have not been able to solve a lot of problems of the 19th century, and yet we are struggling with the heritage of the 20th century! The latest example of this is our attempt to ban the Internet site YouTube.

    We banned, with a court decision, the garbage of a few Greek maniacs wishing to present Atatürk and the Turkish nation as homosexual from reaching our Internet users for two days. Do you think this attempt that can also be considered as "an effort to solve the problems of the 21st century with the methods of the 20th century" worked? I think it did not. We, who know who Atatürk and the Turkish nation are, could not watch the YouTube video for two days but those who do not know it, namely the people of other countries, continued watching it. An opposite result similar to Çetin Altan's "The propaganda of Turks for Turks" has emerged: "The ban of Turks for Turks"!


    Turkish Official Defends World War I Actions of Ottoman Empire
    Minister Councilor of Turkey, Tuluy Tanc, discussed the 1915 Armenian "genocide" and the status of free press in Turkey during an event last night in Hillel.

    Tanc defended Turkey's role in the killing and relocation of Armenians, during the Ottoman Empire's involvement in World War I from 1915 to 1917. His remarks come amidst an expected vote next month by the U.S. House of Representatives on a non-binding resolution to refer to the Ottoman Empire's actions as genocide.

    During World War I, 200,000 Armenians were killed, but that's much less than the 2.5 million Turks who were killed during the war, Tanc said. Many estimate the Armenian death toll surpassed 1 million.

    "What happened to the Armenians was a tragedy, but not genocide," Tanc said to an audience of about 40 people hosted by the Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance and the Turkish Student Association. "If the Turks had committed genocide would there have been two Armenian ministers in the Ottoman government?"

    Tanc suggested Congress' resolution would have serious implications.

    "If the resolution passes, Turks cannot 'shrug it off,'" Tanc said, quoting the advice given to the Turkish government by columnist Jackson Diehl in Monday's Washington Post. "It will hang like a black cloud over Turkish-American relations," Tanc said.

    The lecture focused on another important in issue in Turkey: free press.

    "Freedom of the press in Turkey is pretty strong-unless you say something bad about Turkey," Tanc said. Article 301, the Turkish law against insulting the country, is vague, and was done in a move to preserve "Turkishness." "The parliament is trying to change it, so is academia. The Prime Minister says it will be changed."

    The Turkish Student Association hopes to continue the Armenian debate at the University of Maryland, President Rachel Salomon said, with a possible event held at Maryland with Turkish groups from George Washington and Catholic universities.

    The president of Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance, Avi Mayer, called the event "tremendously instructive."

    Ambassador Tanc is Turkey's former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations and has been actively involved in the formulation and implementation of Turkish foreign policy for thirty years, an event flyer said.
    Mark Cullip 3/8/07

    It's A Pity That Turks Are Behind Everyone In The Art Of Public Relations Just about every year the American media begins to dramatizing the plight of the Armenians and their role during the First World War .They keep rehashing the tragic events which took place between the periods of 1915 and 1923.

    It is impossible for any human being not to be disturbed, or at least touched genuinely after reading constantly about the tragedies and the calamities which had befallen to Armenians, as well as Muslim Turks or to any other human beings in this world. It is not possible to feel otherwise.

    The Armenian organizations and their lobbyists keep on repeating their version of these tragic events and label them as genocide. No decent person, having gone through the painful testimonials of the Armenians and having read those appalling eyewitness reports, cannot help but feel terribly upset intellectually. Similar testimonials whether they were from some unfortunate people from French Algeria massacres of the Sixties, and others from Guatemala, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, or the recent atrocities in Darfur in Africa are truly heart-rending

    Yet, I must say that people, who compile those touching events so meticulously, either forget or deliberately omit to include any of the cases involving the loss of equally precious lives of the Ottoman Muslim Turks. So, while I read these moribund stories, I keep on reminding myself that those people (the Armenians during the re-location episode) were not the only ones who had suffered under the heavy weight of indignities. I forcefully try to remind myself, and the rest of the readers that a high number of our own millions who had lost their lives in the most unimaginable cruel fashion at the hands of the relatives of those Armenians whose sad stories were making the headlines, reaching us all the way from Diaspora Armenians, courtesy of their international propaganda organizations. These people are masters of public relation. They leave no stone upturned in order to find something bad about the Turks, and whether they find it or not, they always have one ready to print in their storehouse.

    Reading those testimonials and the eyewitness reports, presented by the Armenian genocide experts I realize that I do not see anything about a million or so Tootsies who had been butchered by Hutus of Africa in 1994. Very few holocaust victims are included in the report as well. Furthermore, no Algerians, who were mowed down by the French, no Congolese, who went through the worst kind of genocide at the hands of the Belgians. There’s no mention of the 50 thousand Syrians from the city of Hama who lost their lives overnight under the brutal dictatorship of Hafez Al Assad. I also notice no report at all concerning the "Rape of Nanking" in China by the Japanese. Neither do I see a single word about the 22 million dead in the Communist Chinese Agrarian Revolution of Mao Tse-tung The same amount of unfortunate human beings including 400,000 Tatar Turks who had perished in Stalin's gulags in frozen Siberia are completely overlooked.. Where are the millions of Uyghur Turks slaughtered in the Xinjiang (Sincan) province of Red communist China, etc . . etc . .

    The fault lies squarely with Turkish government and with its inexperienced publicity organizations. Even though millions of U.S dollars equivalent TLiras are spent every year to achieve this goal the results are very discouraging Anyone can begin to understand that these types of reports are made by our adversaries minutely orchestrated as public relations documents, some miserable tools which are meticulously put together to play on the heart strings of ordinary people and bring tears to their eyes and teach them to hate Turks deliberately as the so-called perpetrators of something called Armenian Genocide. A word coined only relatively recently to describe the heinous crimes supposedly committed by Nazi Germany . Its author, Raphael Lemkin a Polish lawyer who in 1944 invented this word to relate to the victims of the Nazi holocaust only. He had never alluded in his writings to the “poor, unfortunate, innocent, and immaculately clean, lily-white Armenians who themselves committed a much larger genocide on the Turks around the turn of the 20th century.

    Being a writer, I usually have to accept an occasional jab and punch, and even a stab at times from my readers concerning the subject I deal with. The essays and articles I put on the air via the ‘Turkish Forum’ attract all kinds of concern and reaction. Good or bad, I have to take them silently because, a journalist should be ready to take as well as dish out. I know this is a part of the business I chose to stay in.

    What I write usually is political in nature. I do write in the defense of our nation and nationality. I am an activist when it comes to uphold the honor of my country of origin, Turkey. My task, as I see it, is to vindicate the position of Turkey and Turks against their incessantly boisterous detractors, such as the Greeks and the Armenians who are in Diaspora., a huge quantity of them living in this country of ours. Everyone knows that they are much more strident than the old kin they left behind when they started to migrate to America.

    Not so long ago I received a brutally negative e-mail from an Armenian lady by the name of Mrs. Churukyan. Her usage of language was unbelievably filthy. I’d rather not publicize her first name here. There are scores of Chrukyans all over the USA. Her insults cannot be repeated in this column. Nevertheless I shall try to use a goodly part of my answers given to her in order to illustrate the problem at hand. The following was my answer to her.

    Ms. Churukyan: Your letter of November 11th, has been forwarded to me and I received it the day before Christmas. I have never met you and you have no idea whatsoever about what sort of a person I may be. Nonetheless, you had the insolence of writing to me and accusing me with the usual wild and made-up Armenian drivel. Your attempt of accusing me of being paid by the Turkish government for writing my ‘Turkish Forum’ articles and editorials was as ridiculous as it was typically Armenian in taste. I don’t have any connection with any organization in Turkey nor in the USA. I don’t get any remuneration from the Turkish Forum either, but I am glad I could make contributions to TF from my own pocket.

    This is not the first time I’m hearing similar accusations from Armenians. You are accusing us Turks with the worst crimes ever committed against humanity. When I still lived in Turkey, I spoke with many Armenians and visited, at times, their churches. I know that there are more Armenian churches in Turkey today than there are in your Armenian Republic. If the Turks were so bad and insufferable as you say they are, then why does the Turkish government permit many of your Armenian churches to exercise so freely in Turkey?

    Everyone knows that the Armenian Republic refuses to permit a single Muslim mosque to operate within its borders, nor do they allow anyone to examine their historical archives — why don’t you inquire why the Armenians do not allow openly freedom of religion or research as do the Muslim Turks in their country you hate so much?

    I have been researching (using mostly Armenian sources) to learn the real truth about the terrorism committed by Armenia. Your contemporary Armenian historians are not telling the truth? Why? Because they cannot afford to do so. They are the ones who should be called truly ‘salaried commercial writers.’

    It is very clear to me that you Armenians (and you yourself, Madam) are an excellent example of hatred. You are taught to hate Turks from birth and that is your biggest problem—You keep on telling your grandchildren that the Turks took away your ancestral lands. You people always want something for nothing. The present day Turkish topography was established over one thousand years ago. You probably know the age of this country. It is a mere 231 years old, Mrs. Churukyan. Are you willing for the USA to give up those lands to the Spaniards, French and Mexicans, who in turn should give them back to the Indians of earlier days? In the case of Turkey, no matter what the Turks do for you –you will never be satisfied!

    You asked me, rather impolitely, why your ancestors were removed from those lands. There is a simple answer to your question. Your fellow Armenian ancestors joined forces with the invading Russians back in 1915 and also before that date going back to the early 1800s. If you accept this one fact that they committed great treason against their own country and government, then you will set your psyche free. You’ll be liberated from the invented stories of your grandparents, mostly your grandmothers’ embellishing sad stories, making them appear to be sadder and bloodier yet, and passing those lies from one generation to the other.

    Tell the truth once in your lives. The reason why several of your families were taken out of the combat zone was — let me repeat, because they were stabbing their own government in the back and helping the enemies of the Ottoman Empire where your ancestors had lived in peace and harmony with Muslim Turks for more than 700 years. Your greedy ancestors were also a bunch of traitors. They were a treacherous group of rebel insurgents fighting against their very own country and government because they wanted their government’s land for free!

    Shortly after Japan made its sneak attack on the United States on December 7, 1941 the American government relocated every Japanese-American, bar none, from California and from the entire West Coast of America. These Japanese-American citizens were forced to sell their property for what they could get for it on short notice, were taken inland and placed in “concentration camps.” Many of them were located in several states in the USA. So, the Japanese-Americans lived in wooden barracks (several families in a one-room building) inside barbed wire fences and guarded by armed US soldiers. There was never any proof that these Japanese-Americans were disloyal to the United States.

    In comparison with the murdering, terrorist Armenians of 1915, the truth comes out so clearly against your ancestors. Armenians had revolted in large numbers, and began to assassinate their own Muslim neighbors, killing even their babes in arms. What they were doing was so cruel that they were even punished by their Russian military masters. Many of them were shot to death.

    The proof is there for the world to see, Ms. Churukyan—your ancestors and the other Armenian thugs of 1915 committed treason against the Ottoman government and that is why they were removed from those areas. Had your ancestors not violated the law and not committed treason by joining and helping the Russians they would not have been removed from the combat zone in the first place. Your greedy but gullible ancestors believed falsely that the Russians would keep their promise for an Armenian independence. Hoping that this fake promise to come true, they started their evil plan and massacred thousands and thousands of unarmed Turks, in villages and cities where the Armenians had never been in majority anyway. Historical statistical archives located in Turkey, in Russia, in European capitals clearly show that 2.5 million Muslims lost their lives mostly at the hands of your ancestors.

    Every nation throughout history has removed some groups of individuals who were disloyal, thus being a threat to existing governments. You should know that your people thought that the Russians were going to give you free Muslim lands. That flimsy theory was very wrong. That was a cruel joke played on the Armenians by their masters, the Russians, who never liked the Armenians and trusted them even less. Russians believed your rebellious, treacherous ancestors no more than the Ottomans did although the Ottoman Turks entrusted them with sensitive governmental positions over the centuries of peaceful and friendly coexistence prior to their rebellion against them. It is painful to say these words to you but they are established facts. Throughout history you Armenians were never liked much by anybody who got in contact with your people. Sorry but this is the sad reality.

    Even The Byzantines Relocated Thousands Of Rebellious Armenians
    The Roman emperor Tiberius had to relocate Armenians from the same area and sent them to Cyprus and to Sicily in the year 578 AD. Another Roman King Justinian had done a similar thing and relocated Armenians who were in rebellion, to the Balkans in 690 AD.

    Let us listen to the famous French writer and traveler Pierre Loti who was a devout Christian but knew the Muslim Turks intimately. He had lived several years among them in Turkey, and had written books about his friends, the Turks. The following is Pierre Loti’s sincere belief about Turks. He once wrote:

    “Their (Turks) loyalty, their unblemished honesty, their endless hospitality, their religious tolerance, their moral elegance, and natural tact do give affectionate deposition for the Turks in front of tribunal of humanity.”

    (Let us consider that these words were written by him at the time when the duplicitous Armenians, (meaning your ancestors) were in the process of stabbing the Turks in the back. Have you noticed? He does not say a single word, even in passing, about the so-called genocide. This alone should be enough for honest history buffs that there never was genocide. It never existed.

    Pierre Loti continues: “To speak about the Armenian race, is for me, more painful than one would believe, because their unfortunate “incidents” render me almost scared. Also if I were able to claim and support that all the French who lived in Turkey, even our monks and nuns, give the Turks their esteem and affection. On the contrary, I believe that we would find barely one out of hundred of us who has ‘good’ memories of these ill-fated Armenians. All who have had relationship whatsoever with them, mundane or business,--business affairs above all, were turned away from them with antipathy.”

    Some may think, Madam, as I do that it ‘s a pity that your family perished during the relocation. But I am also painfully sorry for all the innocent Muslim Turks who also perished at the hands of your ancestors. The fact is that you never acknowledge or admit the terrorist acts your people committed. I have concluded that because you Armenians claim to be Christians you believed that God gave you the right to massacre and mutilate Muslim Turks.

    The historical record is very clear—Armenians killed more Turks during the World War I years than Turks have ever been accused of killing Armenians. The bogus numbers you started with at the end of the First World War have been magically growing. The former Prime Minister of your own short-lived Armenian Republic gives the figure of those who perished during the relocation as being between 300,000 to 600,000. But nowadays because of inflationary reasons, maybe, the number has been adjusted to be 1,5 million. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, 2 million perhaps?

    You wrote to me about the Armenian martyrs and their deaths. Did anyone ever tell you about the sneaky attack made on the Azerbaijanis in 1992. Without a declaration of war your ‘brave’ Armenian commandos supported by their Russian masters, swooped down the mountains of Nagorno Karabakh on a freezing winter night and slit the throats of 5000 innocent Azeri men, women, and children while they slept in their beds. The international Media wrote hundreds of articles and published photographs of the massacres committed upon unarmed Azeri civilians—more than 30,000 of them were butchered in a matter of months. How do you justify this mass murder of unarmed civilians, most of them children and elderly?

    Ms. Churukyan, while doing research for my articles I read reports by American as well as European journalists who traveled to Azerbaijan and walked the muddy fields of the refugee camps where the Armenian Republic soldiers in cooperation with their Russian Masters had driven more than one million poor Muslims out of their homes. You “Christian” Armenians now force these poor people to live in absolute poverty under horrible conditions. You must be very proud of those Armenian victories!

    You questioned my knowledge of Armenian history. I happen to know it quite well. But you clearly do not have an iota of clue about the history of America or California for that matter. California is in truth Mexicans’ “ancient homelands.” You can’t have it both ways. You must give up supporting the fake and bogus Armenian “ancient homeland” theory and your fake claim to the Azeri lands. Then and only then can you keep your house and home, for example, in Encino, California. Otherwise you must give your home for free to the Mexicans and go to Armenia to live there, if you can call that a ‘living’.

    What you really want to happen is for civilization to return to the dark ages for the removal of populations whose lands you covet throughout the Caucasus. That just isn’t going to happen,. It has been common knowledge that you are always begging for handouts from the entire Christian world. Instead of doing that, you should learn to be a little bit more compassionate with other races and religions.

    I have seen dozens and dozens of documents and color photos of how you Armenians treated unarmed civilians, men-women, young and old when your fellow Armenians attacked Azerbaijan, in 1992. These countless photos prove that no civilized and compassionate man could have ever done to another human being what your dear Armenian did to innocent unarmed Azeris. Here is an incomplete list from what I remember of some of the pictures. They were so revolting to watch that I came close to losing the content of my stomach more then once.

    (a) Old men, old women, and children with their ears cut off before Armenians massacred them. (I also remember seeing similar photos of where you Armenians cut off Muslim ears during the World War I years also)

    (b) Young teenage boys who had their penis cut off and stuck into their mouth before they were shot at point blank range in the head. (I have also seen such photos where Armenians did exactly the same thing during World War I to young Muslim boys as well in Yerevan, (Erivan) whose population was 45% Muslim at one time.

    (c) Old men and old women who had their throats cut from ear to ear by Armenians. (I saw such photos of Muslims who were massacred in the same way by your people in the city of Erzurum during World War I)

    (d) Young children—both boys and girls under 5 years of age that had their heads chopped off by Armenians. (I also remember seeing similar shots where your ancestors did exactly the same thing to Muslim children during World War I, claiming at the same time that Turks were committing a genocide on them.

    To do such horrible things to fellow human beings, generation after generation all in the name of Jesus Christ was a great sin, I believe. But, turning around and in conjuration with the lies of Christian missionaries and the perfidious falsifications of the dishonest male secretary of the U.S. Ambassador in Istanbul, one Aram Andonian, to claim and pretend that Turks were doing those atrocities on the Armenians would be doubling the commission of that very sin. Hatred is a terrible thing, and you Armenians are wallowing in it. It is your bread and butter.

    You would rather write a nasty letter to someone like me, whining, crying, wringing your hands and moaning about what horrible things the terrible Turks had done to your rebellious ancestors in 1915 rather than accepting the real truth. This is plain nonsense and it is time for you Armenians to grow up. Do you plan on spending the rest of your lives just hating Turks? Can’t you find anything more constructive to do for yourselves?

    The recent Armenian resolution 106 you people are trying to pass, is another testimony of your efforts to punish the grandchildren of the Ottoman Turks who were defending their country against your ancestors. As recently as Fri. Feb. 09, 2007 the U.S House of representatives has reached yet no decision. Because even though the Turks fall behind your clever public relations scams, their faint voice is still audible by the politicians everywhere.

    Do you realize that more than 100,000 of your fellow Armenians voluntarily joined and fought for the Nazis during World War II? Do you realize that many of these Armenian/Nazis helped Hitler capture Jews and then assisted the SS troops of the German Wehrmacht in getting them to be transported to the extermination camps in Germany and in Poland.? I heard recently of the existence of those individual military unit records of where these Armenians served. An American author obtained copies of them . This American writer has each individual Armenian’s name, the record of each Nazi army medal or military honor that was given to each of your fellow Armenians who served Hitler so well. You can be proud of your fellow Armenians’ many military achievements for their Nazi partners in crime.

    These Armenians produced a radio broadcast from Berlin beginning in 1935 that was on the air until the Nazis lost the war in 1945. The program was called “Armenia” and I know you are proud of it. Are you aware that your fellow Armenians broadcast support of Hitler and his policy of extermination of all the Jews in Europe and this policy was supported clandestinely throughout Soviet Armenia? Are you aware of the fact that a large number of Armenian newspapers in Diaspora and in total secrecy, published articles and editorials supporting Hitler and his hate campaign to exterminate the Jews?

    Ms. Churukyan you can take personal pride in knowing that you are an “official” member of the Nazi approved “Aryan” race of people—this is why I know that you and your kind are all racist bigots, whether they are in Armenia or in Diaspora all over the world.

    The only exceptions are Turks’ fellow Armenian citizens living today in Turkey. My own late brother had married one of them, we still love her as we did when they got engaged many years ago,

    But coming back to what we were discussing Your fellow Armenians petitioned Hitler in 1942 to name Armenians as “racially pure Aryan” people just like the Nazis. Their petition was accepted and the “Aryan” race status was granted to them only after rich Armenians from all around the world agreed to deposit huge contributions to German banks. ( Wehrmacht records : Aryan status was accepted on December 14, 1942.)

    To prove that you California Armenians are racist and how much you love and admire the Nazis permit me to ask basic questions. Why else would you Armenians raise almost a quarter of a million dollars in just two days in order to dig up your Armenian Nazi General (Dro—commander of the infamous 819th Armenian/Nazi battalion of World War II fame—also recognized as the ‘Jew hunter’ by the Nazis)? Why did you Armenians fly his body back to Armenia to be reburied there with full state and military honors? Why did you California Armenians spend most of this quarter of a million dollars to establish a youth leadership institute in this old Nazis’ name in your so called “ancient homeland?” Just exactly what are you teaching the youth in Armenia, — how to be better Nazis in today’s world? When he was alive, this so-called General Drastamat Kanayan, or ”Dro” was posthumously condemned to be shot by a firing squad of Stalin’s goons, themselves. That’s why the Diaspora Armenians smuggled him into the USA by bribing the INS functionaries. He lived in the U.S until his death a decade or so ago in Massachusetts and was buried there in an unmarked grave.

    How do you explain and justify the hundreds of terrorist attacks and murders committed by your fellow Armenians upon Turkish officials around the world beginning in the early 1970s in your lovely state of California, in the beautiful city of Santa Barbara, and still continuing to this day. How do you explain the fact that your Armenian terrorists killed Over 60 Turkish diplomats, their family members and other innocent bystanders and wounded many people, most of them being non -Turks, throughout the world?

    The truth is clear, Ms. Churukyan—Armenia today continues to be a terrorist state and people like you carry out that tradition by making up lies about people like me who write about the truth that you despise. Regardless of your clumsy efforts to silent us, here in America, unlike the dictatorship of Kocharian’s Armenia in the Caucasus, we have the basic right of freedom of speech. I am exercising my right of free speech and I refuse to be intimidated by Nazi-like behavior of racist people like you and your fellow Armenians.

    Your letter proves only one thing --you are a typical Armenian in Diaspora. The world would have been a much better place had the allies of World War I not permitted an artificial place called Armenia to even become a state in the first place, for a short while. Then it was annexed by the Soviets as an obedient satellite all during the cold war.

    In conclusion, let me tell you that before you start throwing dirt around as you have done recently, you should find someone to translate your ancestral family name into English in order to learn your real background. If you don’t have that facility let me volunteer to do that for you. Your family name Churukyan has many connotations in Turkish. It comes from the word Churuk and that word means “rotten”.

    I hope you thoroughly enjoy the newly discovered meaning of your family name. This should be enough reason for you to stop insulting a Turkish person who has done no harm to your Armenian clan other than revealing and exposing their ugly past.

    Mahmut Esat Ozan - Chairman- Editorial Board -The Turkish Forum

    Discussion of the Armenian Genocide bill in US Congress may be postponed till 2008
    Marlena Hovsepyan "Radiolur"

    It is possible that the Armenian Genocide bill will not be included in the agenda of the US House of Representatives by April 24. Moreover, editor of the California Courier Harut Sasounsin told "Radiolur" that the discussions may be postponed by 2008. Why?

    Currently the Armenian Genocide bill is being discussed in the House Foreign Relations Committee, after which it will be submitted to the vote of the members of the House of Representatives. However, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee Tom Lantos may prevent the vote on the Armenian resolution.

    Ethnic Jew Tom Lantos, who escaped the Holocaust, had to be very sensitive to a genocide perpetrated against another people. However, he is known for his pro-Turkish position and has always been voting against the Armenian bill. The vote two years ago was not an exception, either. Then member of the Committee Lantos voted for the pro-Armenian documentl only in order to punish Turkey.
    He said that Turkey rejected the attack of the American Army on Iraq from the Turkish side. "To teach a good lesson to Turkey I must say "yes" to the Armenian bill," Harut Sasounian quotes Lantos as saying.

    But now the situation is different: during his visit to Washington in February Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul met with Tom Lantos and threatening to jeopardize the interests of Israel, made him promise to prevent the adoption of the resolution. Itïž’s worth mentioning that only the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is eligible to decide the terms of discussion of this or that bill. Harut Sasounian says only late March it will become clear whether this information reported by Turkish sources is true or not.

    Despite everything, it is obvious that the Turkish side is taking every effort to prevent the voting on the bill. The editor-in-chief of the California Courier is worried that the discussion of the resolution may be delayed until next year. The reason is the presidential and parliamentary elections expected in Turkey in 2007, and the objective of the Turkish authorities is to refrain from disappointing the electorate preceding the elections. "That is why they are taking extreme steps by threatening to both Israel and the United States," says Harut Sasounian.

    It is logical that the Turkish passions towards the Armenian Genocide bill will calm down after the elections. The importance of this bill should not be exaggerated, Harut Sasounian says. According to him, in reality its importance is not that big, since the Congress has already adopted two similar resolutions. "It should not be perceived as a question of life and death. In case the resolution is adopted, the Genocide will be recognized. The Genocide has been recognized long ago, it will just be another mark," Mr. Sasounian told "Radiolur."


    Missing Ottoman Archival Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915
    by Nora Vosbigian
    London, 7 March 2007: Today the Gomidas Institute issued its third statement on its proposal to work on a case study with Turkish historians regarding the treatment of Armenians in Harput in 1915.1 The Institute's latest statement follows a comment made by Dr. Yusuf Halaçoğlu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, that vital Ottoman records on the 1915 deportation of Armenians--including in Harput--do not exist in Turkish archives today.

    These "non-existent" records are directly related to two Ottoman decrees which Turkish official historians have claimed regulated the deportation and resettlement of Ottoman Armenians in 1915. These were the 30 May 1915 regulations on deportations,2 and the 10 June 1915 regulations on the resettlement of deportees, the liquidation of their properties, and their compensation in their places of exile.3

    The Gomidas Institute had asked, based on these regulations, to examine the registers showing details of Armenians who were deported from the Harput plain, as well as the resettlement records accounting for the fate of these deportees further a field. According to these regulations, all deported Armenian had to be registered, person by person (or household by household), village by village; the properties of deportees had to be recorded and liquidated; when the deported were resettled in their places of exile, they had to be compensated in proportion to their original assets. According to these regulations, Ottoman officials had to generate meticulous deportation, resettlement and compensation records which accounted for Armenians who were deported in 1915.

    On Monday 26 February 2007 Dr. Halaçoğlu appeared on CNN- Turk's "Manşet" programme where he stated, categorically, that the Ottoman records the Gomidas Institute had asked to examine did not exist. Halaçoğlu stated that : "He [Sarafian] well knows about the archives. He also knows that there are no records for each village listing persons by name. There are no such records. If there were, they would not pose a problem for us. It would be better to produce them."4 To date Dr. Halaçoğlu has not contacted and explained himself to the Gomidas Institute.

    It is not clear how Dr. Halaçoğlu could make such a categorical statement about the non-existence of the Ottoman records we had asked for, given the texts of the Ottoman regulations governing deportations in 1915, or the fact that there are many Ottoman archives in Turkey, and not all Ottoman records in these archives are catalogued. Until there is further clarification, Dr. Halaçoğlu's statement only raises some fundamental questions:

    1. Were Ottoman regulations on the 1915 deportations implemented according to the letter of the law? If so, why are we told that the registers related to this mass transfer of people are missing? Are all records missing, for the whole Empire, in both local as well as central archives?

    2. If these regulations were not implemented, how was the movement of Armenians, the liquidation of their properties, and the resettlement of deportees regulated? Is it conceivable that none of these regulations were implemented for the whole of the Ottoman Empire from Erzeroum to Yozgat, Izmit and Kayseri? If so, where is the archival trail in Ottoman archives associated with the actual course of events?

    3. Is it possible that no records were kept for either deportation or resettlement? If so, was this the case for the whole of the Ottoman Empire, and why were no records kept?

    4. If records were kept and then destroyed, why and when were they destroyed? And were they destroyed for the whole of the Ottoman Empire, in both local as well as central archives in Turkey?

    5. Is it possible that Dr. Halaçoğlu might be mistaken? Might some of the records we have asked for exist? Is it possible that there might be deportation records, as well as records related to the liquidation of Armenian properties, but no corresponding resettlement records?

    According to Ara Sarafian (Gomidas Institute, London), "Primary sources outside of Turkey indicate that the 1915 deportation of Armenians and the liquidation of their properties were regulated by Ottoman state authorities. Armenians were deported under the auspices of Ottoman officials. And most deportees were killed through privations and outright massacres on their way or in their places of exile (most notably Der Zor). Our sources indicate that there never was a resettlement programme as historians defending the official Turkish thesis suggest."

    The Gomidas Institute hopes that Dr. Halaçoğlu will explain why he thinks that the Ottoman deportation and resettlement registers the Gomidas Institute requested do not exist--especially those on Harput and its environs.


    1. For the first two Gomidas Institute statements see http://www.gomidas.org/press/20Feb07PressRelease.htm and http://www.gomidas.org/press/26Feb07PressRelease.htm For the third statement (in Turkish) see http://www.gomidas.org/press/7Mar07PressReleaseTurkish.htm

    2 Ottoman Ministry of Interior, Department of Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, "Regulations Related to Settlement and Board and Lodging and Other Affairs of Armenians Relocated to Other Places Because of War Conditions and Emergency Political Requirements, May 30, 1915" in Turkish Prime Ministry Directorate-General of Press and Information, Documents on Ottoman Armenians, Vol. 2 [n.d.], Document no. 12, pp. 91-93. See copy

    3 "The Regulation Concerning the Management of the Land and Properties Belonging to Armenians Who Have Been Sent Elsewhere as a Result of the State of War and the Extraordinary Political Situation" in Turkish Prime Ministry Directorate-General of Press and Information, Documents [on Ottoman Armenians], Vol. 1 [n.d.], Document no. 28, pp. 76-80. See copy http://www.gomidas.org/press/10June1915Regulations.htm

    4 The Turkish transcript of what Dr. Halacoglu said is as follows: "Arşivlerin nasıl olduğunu kendisi [Sarafian] gayet iyi biliyor. Orada her köyden tek tek, isim isim kimlerin nakledilmiş olduğunu bulamayacağını kendisi de biliyor. Öyle bir kayıt zaten yok. olmuş olsa zaten bizim için problem olmaz, daha güzel ortaya konabilir."

    © 2003 The Gomidas Institute
    09 March 2007

    Reply to Nora Vosbigian by Sukru Aya

     This content mirrored from TurkishArmenians http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com © pix

    Send Following Message to US Congress Members Via Hürriyet Online Form
    Hurriyet Starts Campaign Against Adoption Of Armenian Genocide Resolution
    On March 6 the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate will consider a resolution condemning the January 19 murder of the chief editor of Agos newspaper Hrant Dink.

    Right afterwards the US Congress will consider a resolution on the Armenian Genocide. Hurriyet newspaper says that thereby US Senate will push the button for "tainting Turkey with so-called Armenian Genocide." So, Hurriyet has decied to launch a campaign against this policy and has placed a warning message on its web-site so that any person can click on it and send it to whatever congressman or White House representatives he wants. "Let's not be silent.

    Let's make our voice heard. If we really believe that this injustice must be stopped, let's put an end to it and send the message," says the newspaper.

    AZG Armenian Daily 06/03/2007

    Dear Member of Congress,

    As citizens of the Turkish Republic , it is our sincere desire that the HR 106 draft is withdrawn and dropped from the agenda indefinitely, as it deserves.

    This draft needlessly drags the US Congress into a period where history and propaganda are mingled. It also attempts to legislate a controversial historic issue and overstrains the Congress jurisdiction. The Turkish Republic , a 60-year ally of the US , is unfairly and unjustly blamed for events that are claimed to have occurred in 1915.

    These efforts also ignore calls by the Turkish Government and the Turkish Parliament. Both invited all interested historians to research all the relevant archives and records and reach a joint conclusion on what exactly happened. Turkey still expects a positive response to this initiative. Historic events need to be tackled by historians and not by elected public officials. Politicians should determine the future not the past. Moreover, there are two sides in this issue.

    We understand that the aforementioned draft is a by-product of domestic US politics. The interest groups that are campaigning for this resolution may be your electorates. We Turks may not have the matching electorate and vote numbers, nor the lobbying power. Still, we are 70 million Turks honorably living in a strategically important geography for centuries. This geography is also deemed vital for US interests.

    Similarly, millions of our Turkic brethren In Eurasia, the US, Europe, the Middle East , Balkans and elsewhere are monitoring these developments very closely.

    We expect that the US Congress will avoid insulting the Turkish nation, especially at a time when the US needs friends in our geography.

    Turkish Nation is expecting a friendship message from the US .

    Click Here For The Message
    Click Here To send the Message via Hürriyet Online Form
    Enter Your First and Surname (Adınız - Soyadınız)
    And Click Gönder/Send

    It's Hard To Prove Genocide
    Does the international law against genocide have force today? Or is it that genocide, a powerful political and rhetorical tool, is nearly impossible to prove in court? .

    Those weighty questions are hanging over The Hague after two legal actions recently. In one, the International Court of Justice found insufficient evidence to hold Serbia responsible for genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the early 1990s. In another, the International Criminal Court refrained from characterising the atrocities committed in Sudan's Darfur region as genocide.

    The term "genocide", coined during the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews, was given its legal definition by the Genocide Convention of 1948. The treaty defines genocide as certain atrocities - for instance, killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm - committed with the "specific intent" to destroy a particular group.

    Bosnia claimed that Serbia committed genocide against Bosnian Muslims during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. Yet the International Court of Justice rejected most of Bosnia's contentions. With one exception - the 1995 massacres at Srebrenica that left more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys dead - the court found insufficient evidence of the intent to destroy the Muslim community.

    With this opinion, the court has made it nearly impossible to hold a state accountable for genocide because it required each specific crime to be committed with genocidal intent. The court could have inferred Serbia's intent from the larger pattern, but instead it applied a high standard much like that used to determine an individual's guilt or innocence.

    At the same time, however, the court reaffirmed that states, not just individuals, can be held responsible for acts of genocide. It pointedly found that Serbia, in not preventing the Srebrenica massacres, failed to meet its obligation under international law to prevent genocide. But one cannot escape the conclusion that proving responsibility for genocide is now an impossible task.

    No accusations

    Across town, Luis Moreno-Ocampo seems to have gotten that message. He's the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court - a tribunal (which the United States does not support) devoted to trying individuals rather than resolving claims of states. On Tuesday, Moreno-Ocampo issued his assessment of Sudanese atrocities in Darfur -and did not include any accusations of genocide.

    Instead, Moreno-Ocampo alleges that a Sudanese government official and a janjaweed militia commander bear responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including brutal attacks against civilians in Darfur. He has made a smart choice; better to prosecute these perpetrators on provable grounds than try to make a symbolic statement about genocide and risk losing the case. Taking these developments together, one has to wonder whether genocide can be proved in a court of law. It rarely has been prosecuted and even more rarely been a basis for conviction. Some might even be inclined to do away with the term altogether.

    But that would be shortsighted. The Serbia-Bosnia decision and the Darfur allegations should be seen for what they are: specific approaches that are part of a wider effort to halt atrocities against civilians. The Genocide Convention is not only a tool for international courts. It still should spur nations to intervene to prevent genocide.

    More important, governments should get beyond the semantics. No matter what we call them, we know horrible atrocities when we see them. Such crimes, on their own, should be met with political, humanitarian and, when necessary, forceful responses.

    The people of Bosnia and Darfur should be able to look to other nations for support. Clearly, they cannot rely on courts alone.

    David Kaye, a visiting professor at Whittier Law School in California, was a legal adviser to the US Embassy in The Hague.
    David Kaye
    Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service

    Don't Go Cold on Turkey & The House's Ottoman Agenda

    It may never be the right time for one nation to pass legislation on another's history or morality, but there could be no worse time than now. It's a particularly sensitive

    Once again, a resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives asserting that the forcible deportation and massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was "genocide." But this time around the resolution, sponsored by Reps. Frank Pallone, Adam Schiff, George Radanovich and Joe Knollenberg (and over 170 co-sponsors), appears likely to pass. The result will be a train wreck with an important, long standing American ally: Turkey.

    It may never be the right time for one nation to pass legislation on another's history or morality, but there could be no worse time than now. It's a particularly sensitive moment in Turkish politics: A new president will be picked by parliament in late April (coinciding with Congress's likely decision on a resolution) and elections for a new parliament will follow by November. Based on current polling, Turkey by year's end could for the first time have a president, government, parliament and most municipalities under the control of a party -- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK Party -- inclined to loosen the strict barriers set up by Ataturk between religion and state. One does not have to share secular fears of AKP's alleged "secret agenda" to Islamicize Turkish society to appreciate the strains this would generate in Turkish political life over the weeks and months ahead. Nor does it take much imagination to realize that, in such circumstances, Turkish politicians will compete with one another, should a resolution be passed, to show they cannot be pushed around by the U.S. Congress.

    Turkish domestic politics isn't the only issue, however. This year will highlight the country's pivotal geography and relevance to U.S. strategic goals. As we struggle to find our footing in Iraq, for example, Turkey can either help or make our task much harder. Our forces in Iraq rely heavily on Turkey's Incirlik air base for resupply. Turkish military intervention in the north, either to pre-empt cross-border terrorism by Turkish Kurdish PKK terrorists, or to stop Kirkuk from becoming part of the Kurdish federation, would complicate Gen. David Petraeus's already daunting assignment.

    Then there is Iran. Will Turkey align itself with Washington and the West in efforts to ratchet up pressure against the Islamic Republic -- a major trading partner and ally against the PKK? Or will the Turks join Russia and others favoring a less-confrontational approach? And as the U.S. tries to forge a new alignment in the Middle East to roll back Iranian influence and restart Israeli-Palestinian talks, a Turkey that has both bulked up its influence in the Muslim world (particularly among Sunni Arabs) and kept its close relationship with Israel, will be an asset.

    Turkey has quietly emerged as the prize in a new great game over who will develop and bring to world markets the vast oil and gas resources of former Soviet Central Asia. Experts know that Turkey will in the years ahead become one of the world's major energy hubs, supplied by new pipelines that will crisscross Anatolia. The question is whether this will happen according to Moscow's or Washington's vision of where those pipelines should run, and whose product should fill them. Ankara will likely make some of the key decisions this year.

    Turkey goes into this defining year with its anchors to the West drifting or under strain. NATO, for decades the bedrock of Turkey's Western identity, particularly for its influential military, has lost luster as its mission has blurred. The European Union's ambivalence toward Turkey since formally beginning the accession process in October 2006 has soured many Turks on the project. Despite laudable garden-tending by senior officials on both sides, U.S.-Turkish relations haven't recovered the depth or breadth they had in the '90s; polls show anti-Americanism remains high in the Turkish "street." The winners have been Turkey's ultranationalists, whose vision of a Turkey that "goes it alone" and increasingly resorts to violence is chilling.

    Some will interpret this analysis as realpolitik that simply postpones the moment when Turkey must deal with its pre-Republican history. That ignores the reality that Turks in growing numbers -- among them Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk -- are speaking out in favor of a more candid debate on the events of 1915. Most fear their voices will be drowned out by the tsunami of nationalist outrage that a resolution will generate.

    In the past, U.S. congressional leaders have repeatedly bowed to the findings of administrations of both parties that a genocide resolution would adversely affect vital American security interests. Given the equities America now has at stake in and around Turkey, those findings remain as valid as ever.

    The U.S. has a lot of hard work to do in Turkey's neighborhood. In some cases, American lives will literally be at stake. Whatever the challenge we face in this troubled region, our success will be far more certain if we can work with Turkey, rather than having to work around it. The responsible choice for Congress's current leadership is to join their predecessors in concluding that passage of an Armenian genocide resolution does not serve American interests.

    Mr. Parris, who was U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1997 to 2000, is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    March 3, 2007

    The House's Ottoman Agenda

    Can a nonbinding congressional resolution really matter? Most are ignored by everyone except the special interests they are usually directed at. Even the House's recent resolution on Iraq was dismissed by both President Bush and Democratic antiwar leader John Murtha. Yet a vote expected next month on a nonbinding House resolution describing a "genocide" in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915 has the potential to explode U.S. relations with Turkey, sway the outcome of upcoming Turkish elections and spill over into several other strategic American interests, including Iraq and Iran.

    So, yes: The Armenian Genocide Resolution sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff does matter, logically or not. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul spent several days in Washington last month lobbying against it, though the Turkish-American agenda is chockablock with seemingly more important issues. Friends of Turkey in Washington, from American Jewish organizations to foreign policy satraps, are working the Hill; so is the Bush team. On the other side is the well-organized and affluent Armenian American community, 1.4 million strong, and some powerful friends -- including the new House speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

    Here is a debate that could occur only in Washington -- a bizarre mix of frivolity and moral seriousness, of constituent pandering, far-flung history and front-line foreign policy. And that's just on the American side; in Turkey there is the painful struggle of a deeply nationalist society to come to terms with its past, and in the process become more of the Western democracy it wants to be.

    Start with the pandering: Schiff, a Democrat from Los Angeles, cheerfully concedes that there are 70,000 to 80,000 ethnic Armenians in his district, for whom the slaughter of Armenians by the Young Turk regime during World War I is "anything but ancient history." Local politics also explains why a resolution that has failed numerous times in the past 20 years is suddenly looking like a juggernaut: Pelosi, of San Francisco, also has many Armenian supporters.

    "There's a sense of momentum now about the resolution that we haven't had before," Schiff told me. "The votes are there in the committee. The votes are there on the floor." If Pelosi allows the resolution to be brought up, as she has reportedly pledged to do, it will probably pass. Its language is almost comically heavy-handed: It begins by declaring that the House "finds" a series of 30 paragraphs of facts about the genocide, ranging from the number killed (1.5 million) to the assertion that "the failure . . . to punish those responsible" helps explain subsequent atrocities, including the Holocaust.

    Imagine the 435 members of the House, many of whom still don't know the difference between Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, solemnly weighing whether Schiff's version of events 92 years ago in northeastern Turkey deserves congressional endorsement. But the consequences of passage could be deadly serious: To begin with, Turkey's powerful military has been hinting that U.S. access to the Incirlik air base, which plays a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could be restricted. Gul warned that a nationalist tidal wave could sweep Turkey and force the government to downgrade its cooperation with the United States, which needs Turkey's help this year to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran. Candidates in upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections could compete in their anti-American reactions.

    No wonder the Bush administration as well as even Democratic-leaning foreign policy experts, such as Clinton-era ambassador Mark Parris, are trying to stop the resolution. Yet theirs, too, is a contorted campaign. After all, historians outside of Turkey are pretty much unanimous in agreeing that atrocities against Armenians worthy of the term genocide did occur. Though Congress may look silly with its "findings," the continuing inability of the Turkish political class to come to terms with history, and temper its nationalism, may be the country's single most serious political problem. Prominent Turkish intellectuals, including a Nobel Prize winner, have been prosecuted in recent years under laws criminalizing "insults" to Turkey -- such as accurate accounts of the genocide. In January a prominent ethnic Armenian journalist was murdered by an ultranationalist teenager.

    Maybe Congress has no business debating Turkish history, maybe it is doing so for the wrong reasons. Yet if Turkey is to become the stable, Western-oriented democracy that it aspires to be, its politicians will have to learn, at least, to react the way everyone else does to nonbinding House resolutions: that is, with a shrug.

    By Jackson Diehl
    © 2007 The Washington Post Company
    March 5, 2007

    Ankara to change lobbyists in US

    The Turkish government has decided to work with a new lobbyist in the United States to able to better fight the Armenian genocide resolution, which was introduced in the US House of Representatives in January.

    For the last seven years Turkey has been working with The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm founded in 1999 by former Republican congressman Robert Livingston.

    Taking into consideration the fact that last November the Democrats won a majority in Congress, Turkey decided to work with a lobbyist known to be close to the Democrats, DLA Piper.

    Turkey's agreement with The Livingston Group expires as of March 1, but it will continue working with the firm for another six months in an attempt to avoid any problems during the changeover period, Turkey's Ambassador to the United States Nabi Sensoy told Cihan News Agency (CHA).

    Nevertheless, no deal has been signed yet with DLA Piper. After six months, Turkey may decide to work only with DLA Piper or work with both of them, Sensoy also said.

    Dick Gephardt, who retired in January 2005 after serving Missouri's Third Congressional District for 28 years, is one of senior counsels working at DLA Piper.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    Armenian Genocide bill planned
    LISA FRIEDMAN, Washington
    WASHINGTON - One day after a U.S. Senate committee failed to vote to condemn the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin confirmed his intention to introduce an Armenian Genocide resolution.

    An aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she plans to co-sponsor the bill, which will mirror legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena.

    "It's great news," Schiff said. Calling the measure a "wonderful development," he noted that as the assistant Democratic leader, Durbin's sponsorship of legislation underscores the commitment of Senate leaders to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

    Durbin spokeswoman Sandra Abrevaya said the senator will likely introduce the bill next week.

    Armenian-American groups also cheered the news.

    "Senator Durbin is very committed to human rights issues," said Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America. "The resolution continues to build momentum."

    Armenians contend the Ottoman Empire began an orchestrated slaughter in 1915 in which about 1.5 million Armenians were killed.

    Turkey denies it was a genocide, saying about 300,000 were killed and noting that Armenians sided with invading Russian troops in the aftermath of World War I and took up arms against Turks.

    The bill's introduction comes as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee moved to delay discussion of another measure condemning Dink's murder as well as the Turkish penal code under which the journalist was once tried for "insulting Turkishness."

    In the meantime, the House measure sponsored by Schiff has garnered 179 supporters and is expected to come up for a vote in the House Foreign Relations Committee.


    Assyrian Genocide Memorial Wall Erected in California
    Shaded by trees, an outdoor courtyard nestled in the center of St. Mary's Parish in Tarzana, California, embodies a serene setting. A balcony on the side of the Assyrian American Christian School overlooking the courtyard below has witnessed many events both somber and joyous.

    Not long ago, the tranquility of the courtyard was disturbed by heavy loads of concrete blocks, bags of cement, tiles, PVC pipes, dirt, sand, and earsplitting construction noises. A Memorial Wall was being built. An idea conceived by Father George Bet-Rasho to commemorate all the Assyrian martyrs. Though for a time, it seemed more like a big pile of mess with absolutely no end in sight.

    And then the magic began. Brick by brick. Layer upon layer. Those coarse raw inanimate materials slowly metamorphosed into something that possessed the ability to touch the hearts of a small nation longing to see the resurrection of their beloved Assyria.

    But how can a Wall made of mortar and concrete speak of anything that can jar the emotions?

    Early Saturday morning on 17 February 2007, cloaked in giant sheets of white satin, the Wall awaited patiently to show off its splendor. Teasingly, it showed a glimpse of itself when a gentle breeze slightly parted the satin curtains it hid behind.

    An old inhabitant of the courtyard that lived across from this newly erected Wall was a multitiered fountain. Enchanted, it splashed in delight applauding the day's fête as a bird or two swooped down to catch droplets of water. The courtyard was beaming with anticipation for the arrival of parishioners and guests.

    By 10:00 a.m., the air began to thicken with sounds distinctly familiar. Crowds of Assyrians and their friends were milling about the courtyard of St. Mary's for the unveiling of the Assyrian Genocide Memorial Wall.

    The winter sun kept its promise of a warm day as rows of white chairs began to fill. Countering the sun, giant trees above, cast shadows across the yard protecting the Assyrians below. The leaves gently shimmered in the morning breeze approving of the day filled with both gladness and sadness.

    Photographers and filmographers stirred about snapping pictures and capturing the moments. Images of young and old were preserved as witnesses to this important day. Father George weaved in and out of the crowd greeting guests and tending to last minute details.

    The ceremony began with a Parade. Students from the Assyrian American Catholic School, dressed in traditional Assyrian costumes, carried the Holy Cross, the Assyrian flag, the U.S. flag and the flag representing the Assyrian Church of the East. Taking their places in front of the white satin drapes, the students were joined by Ms. Christina Bet-Rasho, the English speaking emcee and Deacon Isho Callo, the Assyrian speaking emcee. The students recited the Pledge of Allegiance followed by songs presented by the Church Choir.

    Father George delivered the Opening Prayer and then signaled for the unveiling. The massive white satin curtains were pulled away, illuminating a most spectacular sight.

    A waterfall softly splashing the Assyrian Flag set in glass tile in a double fountain framed by two brass torches and guarded by statues of Lamassu on either side.

    A beautiful blue sky with patches of soft white clouds became the perfect backdrop for the colorful balloons and thirty white doves that were released. Swooping above the wall, the doves gracefully took flight until they disappeared from sight.

    A quiet gasp from the audience. Tearing eyes hiding behind sunglasses. Young students from the Assyrian American Christian School that sat on the ledge circling a tree just in front of the staging area looked up in wonderment. They were quiet and contemplative. They understood what the day ignified. They understood what this Wall represented.

    The splendor of the moment was completed when Father George lit the two brass torches. The Eternal Flames will act as a reminder to keep the faith alive.

    The engraving on the dedication plaque in black marble read:

    Established 17 February 2007

    In remembrance of the ASSYRIANS who valiantly died during the ASSYRIAN GENOCIDE (SEYFO) of 1914-1918 in the Ottoman Empire and Iran, totaling 750,000 martyrs; the 1933 SEMELE MASSACRE in Iraq totaling 3,000; and those massacred during the IRAQ WAR beginning 2003.

    We will never forget...We will not remain silent...

    "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:10

    The soft rippling water that flowed into the pool below the Wall was already speaking for the voices of thousands. It was recounting the stories of the multitude. It was calling the names of those who bravely delivered future generations into the new world to carry on the blessed Assyrian name.

    That morning, I spoke of the slow continuous genocide that has gripped our nation. It began long before WWI with the 1895 Massacre of Diyarbekir where an estimated 55 thousand Assyrians were killed. This event paved the way for the Assyrian Genocide of WWI, followed by the Death Marches of 1924 when Assyrians marched from Turkey to Aleppo, Syria. The Semele Massacre of 3,000. Two gulf wars and the countless attacks on Assyrians throughout these periods. Yet, here we are. Remembering our fallen. Honoring our martyrs.

    Mr. Yosip Bet-Yosip, presented a poem in Assyrian entitled Assyrian Exodus of 1918 recounting the horrific events of the Assyrian Genocide that took place in Urmi, Iran and the devastating accounts of the Great Exodus from Urmi in 1918.

    Mr. Dennis P. Zine, a Los Angeles City Councilman of the third Council District spoke of his promise to support the Assyrian effort now that he was made aware of the issues both past and present.

    Representing the Assyrian Universal Alliance, Mr. Ninoos Benjamin presented Father George with a Crystal Cross in gratitude for the building of this Assyrian Memorial. Mr. Edwin Tekmar was also acknowledged with a plaque in appreciation of his work in overseeing the construction of the Wall.

    The Assyrian American Christian School Choir performed The Assyrian Wall Song and the event concluded with Father George's Closing Prayer.

    As the courtyard observed the parting guests returning to their daily lives, the quiet of early afternoon descended upon it.

    Turning to leave, I saw an Assyrian woman with an apron still on sitting at the back near the kitchen entrance. Her kind face looked tired and overwhelmed. Her hands were clasped in her lap. She closed her eyes and leaned her head against the wall. I walked up to her to thank her for all the help she had given to prepare food for the occasion. She must have heard me coming up to her because she opened her eyes and smiled at me when she saw me. She took my hand in her rough hands and said, Maybe they won't forget us now."

    Before leaving, I stood in the middle of the courtyard one last time and closed my eyes for a moment. I could hear a million prayers of gratitude whispering in the flow of air. And I whispered back, "We will never forget.We will not remain silent."

    By Rosie Malek-Yonan
    EasternStar News Agency

    Armenian groups: White House pressure forced postponement of Dink resolution
    Armenian lobby groups in the US capital are indicating that pressure from the White House resulted in the decision by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to postpone voting on a resolution condemning the murder of journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul.

    Republican Senator Richard Lugar, a prominent member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, had made public his objections to the text of the resolution. The decision to postpone by the Committee came after Lugar's objections. The White House's official objection to this non-binding resolution is based on the references to "genocide" included in the text.

    Turkish shooting suspect says his target was Armenian patriarch
    A Turkish man accused of firing in the air outside an Armenian church claimed Wednesday his real target had been Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the tiny Armenian community, the Anatolia news agency reported.

    "I had prepared it for (Mesrob) Mutafyan II," Volkan Karova shouted to reporters here as he and fellow suspect Yilmaz Can Özalp were being escorted to the prosecutor's office to give their testimony, the agency reported.

    It was not clear whether he had intended to physically attack the patriarch or scare him. Later Wednesday, a court charged the two men with "threatening by firing shots" and "carrying an unlicensed gun" and sent them to jail pending trial, the agency said. The pair were arrested late Sunday just hours after two men fired a shot in the air outside a church in the city's Kumkapi district. At the time, a ceremony was being held for slain ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

    Today’s Zaman Istanbul

    Turkey stops US Senate measure, for now
    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
    March 8, 2007
    Senator objects to language on Armenian genocide, prompting delay of at least two weeks

    Acting on concerns by Ankara and the Washington administration over a reference to the "Armenian genocide" in a proposed congressional resolution on Turkey, a senior Republican senator has moved to temporarily stop the passage at a Senate panel of themeasure, which urges the Turks, among other things, to establish normal relations with Armenia.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled on Tuesday to vote on the resolution introduced by Sen. Joe Biden, the committee's Democratic chairman. However, after opposition by Richard Lugar, the panel's ranking Republican senator, it was delayed for at least two weeks.

    The non-binding measure condemns Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's murder and calls on Turkey to abolish a penal code article blamed for restricting freedom of expression and to launch diplomatic, political and trade ties with Armenia. Turkey indeed prefers if the resolution does not pass the Senate at all, but is particularly concerned over a reference to the Armenian genocide in the measure's background section. Ankara fears that a Senate approval of the original text may act as a precedent for future congressional action.

    Although President George W. Bush's administration, which has strongly condemned Dink's assassination, would like to see Turkey repeal the Turkish Penal Code's (TCK) controversial Article 301 and set up good relations with Armenia, it also shares Ankara's worries over the resolution's reference to the Armenian genocide. Therefore, the administration is seeking to persuade the panel's senators to drop that reference, diplomats said. As a result, Sen Lugar, who is generally known for his support for Turkey, raised an objection to the resolution's language when the measure came to the Tuesday vote. According to committee rules, Biden said that the vote would be delayed until the panel's next business meeting, which may take place in two or three weeks' time. Lugar and Biden are expected to sit together and seek to agree on a joint text before that gathering. The measure, if passed by the panel, will move to the Senate floor.

    Turkish diplomats were apparently relieved by the temporary delay. "We really appreciate Sen. Lugar's very responsible move," said one diplomat. U.S. Armenians voiced dismay over the delay, but said they would continue to actively pursue the original resolution's passage. "We are troubled that Senator Lugar ? apparently acting at the request of the administration ? has delayed the U.S. Senate's tribute to the life and memory of Hrant Dink," said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), according to an ANCA statement. "We look forward to the panel, at the next opportunity, rejecting any efforts to block or water down this measure, and passing it in the form it was introduced," he said."It is unfortunate that the committee deferred action on this important resolution," said Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to ANCA.

    Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian daily Agos, was shot dead in front of his office in Istanbul on Jan. 19. A teenager, who has confessed to killing Dink, and a group of ultranationalists have been arrested for the crime. Dink received a suspended six-month sentence under Article 301 in 2005 for insulting "Turkish identity." Turkey's government says it is working to amend Article 301, but that the legislation will not be abolished altogether. Turkey officially recognized Armenia when the latter gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. But Ankara refuses to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan and open the border, saying Armenia has been keeping the Nagorno-Karabakh region inside Azerbaijan and another 20 percent of Azeri territory under its occupation.

    The most important Armenian-related resolution pending in Congress is a measure introduced in the House of Representatives in late January, calling on the recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians during the Ottoman Empire as genocide. It may enter the House agenda in late March or April.

    The best Turkey can hope...
    March 8, 2007
    Cengiz ÇANDAR
    The best we can hope for during the year 2007 is damage control rather than constructive policies

    Turkey is increasingly turning inwards. Despite the intense diplomatic activity in the Middle East that it is also considered a major trouble, its increasingly inward looking posture is a fact and it will remain to be so for the rest of the whole year. 2007 is a very crucial election year for Turkey. We are only two months away from knowing who will be the heir to Kemal Atatürk at the most venerable post in the Turkish political system, the post of the president, for the next seven years. There will be no time for sobering. The presidential election will be followed by an intense campaign for the parliamentary elections due to be held in fall. Until the last month of the year, we will be unable to know what kind of a government Turkey will have, possibly, for the next five years. That is not the ideal climactic period for bold initiatives in the area of foreign policy, and the politicians would tend to respond to the appeals of populism more than anytime else. The overall Turkish political climate is intoxicated by a heavy dose of ultra-nationalism that no political party or personality could ignore during a quixotic election period. Tayyip Erdogan, above all, is not an exception as he has strong aspirations for the presidential post, nor Abdullah Gül, the likelier next prime minister, in the case Erdogan climbs up to the highest post in Turkish political hierarchy. The immediate victim to Turkish domestic agenda and political priorities would be the option of Turkey's rapproachment with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership. The issue is already a controversial one and the Iraqi Kurdish leaders, particularly of Massoud Barzani's latest statements were not helpful at all for Erdogan and Gül to initiate a dialogue with him. The best we can hope during the year 2007 is damage control rather than a constructive Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish relationship. Such a constructive relationship, seemingly, has to await the first months of 2008, just like the Turkish-EU relations would be in the waiting lounge until then.

    Iran and Saudi Arabia: That realism dictated by the domestic political environment in Turkey may not be corresponding to the new parameters of the Realpolitik that seems to dominate the region during the year. Iran and Saudi Arabia are emerging as the major regional powers over a vacuum that Turkey's inaction would leave behind. Despite its high-profile diplomacy in the Middle East in the preceding months - during which we have seen a continous flow of heads of states, prime ministers and foreign ministers flowing into Turkey, and while Erdogan and Gül were undertaking initiatives ranging from starting a dialogue with Hamas to participating the Arab League summits, from talking to every party in Lebanon to shuttling between the odds, Tehran and Jerusalem - Turkish diplomacy could not deliver anything to the extent that the latecomer and a generally prudent Saudi diplomacy did during the last weeks. Lebanese daily The Daily Star, in its editorial, was generous to Turkey though, in the following lines: “It has been instructive in recent weeks to watch three major local powers - Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia - each in its own way step up and assert both interests ant its capacity to positively influence others in the region. The noteworthy aspect here is that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey have opted for engagement, calm discussions and multilateral coordination as their preferred means of action - in sharp contrast with the Anglo-American-Israeli tendency to shoot or change regimes first, and then sit down to chat.” Notwithstanding with this praise, when it comes to a problem that it is a direct party, Turkey does not act much in contrast with that Anglo-American-Israeli tendency. It is not quintessentially eager for engagement with Iraqi Kurdish authorities opting for calm discussions when it comes to discuss how to tackle the PKK presence in northern Iraq and what to do in resolving a potential conflict on Kirkuk or to probe the possibility of a multilateral coordination. For multilateral coordination, the United States, whose participation is a sine qua non, will, instead, be the focal point of Turkish anger, if the Armenian Genocide Resolution comes to the floor of the Congress. Under such adverse circumstances, some of which is its own making, what Turkish diplomacy could hope for the best is to host the international meeting on Iraq, next month in Istanbul. And, of course, the damage control for the rest of the year in an extremely volatile region where damage might prove uncontrollable.

    The United States Develops A Strategic Plan For The Black Sea
    Joshua Kucera
    The US Department of Defense has drafted a new strategy for the Black Sea region, focusing on getting the individual countries around the Black Sea to develop a regional approach to security issues.

    Some of the strategy’s finer points are still being developed, and the implementation may be slowed by the US preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan. But it nevertheless represents a concerted effort by Washington to get involved in a region traditionally dominated by Turkey and Russia.

    To that end, the United States is throwing its weight behind Turkey’s leadership in Black Sea regional efforts. That’s in part because Ankara and Washington share the same goals in the area, and, in part, because Washington wants to allay Turkish concerns about American intentions.

    The strategy’s main concept was completed late last year and it remains classified. But its general outline was described to EurasiaNet by a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity. US officials are still in the process of relaying the strategy’s contents to regional governments, including Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Greece. First to be briefed was Turkey, in acknowledgement of Ankara’s leadership role in the region. "Without Turkey, we can’t get this to work," the official said.

    The other key Black Sea player is Russia, and the Pentagon has low expectations on Moscow’s willingness to go along with US plans. "We don’t expect the Russians to be cooperative; they see this as interference in their sphere of influence. However, we’re committed to seeking Russian cooperation wherever we can get it ? we don’t want them as an adversary," the official said. "However, we won’t allow ourselves to be held hostage to Russian objections."

    The US is actively encouraging countries around the Black Sea to take part in the Turkey-led Black Sea Harmony maritime security program, through which intelligence on sea traffic is shared among all the coastal states. In December, Russia became the first country to formally join the program. Ukraine and Romania are also reportedly close to joining. Georgia’s navy is not large enough to provide any significant intelligence, although it does participate in information exchanges.

    The cooperation between Turkey and Russia is seen in some quarters as a combined effort to keep NATO out of the Black Sea. NATO operates a similar maritime security operation in the Mediterranean Sea, called Active Endeavor, and NATO has tried to expand that program into the Black Sea. Turkey, however, is worried that NATO’s incursion into the Black Sea would diminish Ankara’s influence there. Some Turkish officials also fear that an expanded NATO regional role could erode the 1936 Montreux Convention, by which Turkey maintains control over the Bosporus Straits. Russia, meanwhile, remains opposed to US influence in its former satellite countries.

    "I don’t think we can help that the Russians see this as a zero-sum game, but I do think we can help that with the Turks," the official added. "The Turkish approach is similar to ours [in dealing with Russia]: pragmatic, but they won’t do anything detrimental to their national security."

    The United States doesn’t see a specific threat in the Black Sea region at present, but that is reason enough to expand the surveillance and monitoring of the area, the official said. Potential threats include the transport of weapons of mass destruction, drugs or terrorists. "One would presume some of that goes on, but we don’t know," the official said. It’s possible the threat is not great, "but right now we don’t have the detection and surveillance capabilities to know if that’s the case."

    In addition to maritime surveillance, United States would like to see countries in the Black Sea region improve crisis response capabilities and border security.

    But the program may be slowed or scaled back, given the Pentagon’s preoccupation these days with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official said. "The United States has given a lot of thought to the Black Sea, but I don’t believe we have a clear implementation strategy" because of the two major wars, the official said.

    Editor’s Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.

    © Eurasianet

    Turkish journalists' fear of ultra-nationalist violence
    Jennifer Amur
    More than a month after journalist Hrant Dink’s murder in Istanbul, a panel of journalists spoke in London last night about the rise of nationalism in Turkey and its effects on the country’s politics and journalism. Jennifer Amur reports

    ‘Hrant’s death was a watershed in Turkish political life,’ said Andrew Finkel, a journalist based in Istanbul who moderated the discussion at the Frontline Club. Dink was shot dead on 19 January outside the offices of Agos, a Turkish-Armenian bilingual newspaper he co-founded. His funeral drew an estimated 100,000 mourners and protesters who carried signs that read, ‘We are all Armenians. We are all Hrant Dink.’

    Hrant Dink’s murder has triggered a surge in ultra-nationalist sentiments. Turkish columnist and broadcaster Yavuz Baydar gave a sombre depiction of what Turkish journalists are facing. ‘Those who continue to challenge the climate are bombarded with hate mail and threats,’ he said at the panel discussion.

    At the root of the conflict between journalists and ultra-nationalists is a codified intolerance for dissenting viewpoints. In 2002, Dink was prosecuted under Article 159 of Turkey’s old penal code for ‘denigrating Turkishness’ by defining himself as an Armenian living in Turkey. In 2005, he was prosecuted for the same crime, renamed Article 301 in the new penal code, for writing about the Armenian genocide of 1915.

    The existence of Article 301 and other similar articles is an intrinsically political debate linked to Turkey’s pending application to the European Union. It is also likely to play a role in the run-up to the presidential election in May. ‘This article formed by Parliament has been a big headache for Turkey,’ Baydar said. ‘More than 15 articles are open to interpretation by prosecutors and if abused by ill-will — political ill-will — will cause headaches.’

    So far, Baydar said, in the 21 months that the new penal code has been in place, 12 convictions have resulted from the infamous articles.

    Meanwhile, journalists at Agos have received an increased number of death threats, by post and email.

    ‘Also, we have been getting phone calls for the last three years, but we never expected that something like this would happen,’ Agos news editor Aris Nalci told Index on Censorship. ‘For example, today we got post from Turk Intikam Tugayi [Turkish Revenge Brigade]. We have been getting some mail from this group for the last month, but it was the first time that we got anything in the post. This time, the police came and began their investigation.’

    Despite the threats, Agos editors continue to produce the weekly newspaper.

    ‘Agos is now full of energy that came from Hrant’s unexpected death,’ Nalci said. ‘We Agos workers are locked around our newspaper with support from Turkish journalists and intellectuals. We cover our sadness in the depth of our hearts with Agos and Hrant’s memoriam. One of my friends said to me, “He will be always with us abroad at conferences and workshops.” It’s true. He will always watch our work. He will always read our headlines.’


    Turkey's paranoia
    By Tulin Daloglu
    March 6, 2007
    When I interviewed Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England a year ago, my questions and his answers reflected absolutely contradictory perceptions of the U.S.-Turkey relationship. At one point, he asked, "Can I ask you a question: what is the paranoia that you have about the U.S.?Turkish relationship?"

    Mr. England disagreed with the idea that trust between the two allies was compromised when the Turkish parliament refused to give American troops a northern route into Iraq. "[Just] because you have disagreements, it does not mean that you are not still good friends," he said. "And that is the way it is with Turkey. Just because every single thing is not agreed upon 100 percent, it does not mean that you don't have a strong relationship. That's why I say there is a certain paranoia in Turkey that's unfounded."

    The paranoia -- if that's what it is -- is an intense questioning of the U.S. objective in Iraq. President Bush has said he would keep Iraq intact. Yet the intolerable security situation suggests that the country has already been divided.

    Today, people in Iraq are on the verge of losing their identities as "Iraqis" and becoming forever divided into Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds. Constitutionally, the Iraqi central government is so weak that continuing as a single country is almost impossible. The central government does not even have the authority to collect taxes from its citizens. The regional governments are over empowered.

    Testifying last week before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed that Turkey shares a border with a place called "Kurdistan." The recently agreed upon petroleum law allows the regional governments to make deals with foreign oil companies. This new law, favored by Northern Iraqi leader Massoud Barzani, will encourage international companies to spend billions in Iraq to repair pipelines, upgrade wells, develop new fields and begin to exploit the country's vast petroleum reserves.

    Northern Iraq is already ahead of the rest of the country. Intriguingly, there is the least presence of coalition troops. It's stable. It's secure. It's flourishing. Once it makes those oil deals, it will become stronger. Turks see a Kurdistan emerging, and Mr. Barzani has said that they should get used to the idea of an independent Kurdistan -- even though the Iraqi Kurdish leadership has admitted they are not yet ready for independence.

    If the Bush administration's goal is to keep Iraq intact, the steps it is taking show the opposite. The central Iraqi government is getting weaker every day. People are concerned about the local politics based on ethnicity and sectarianism. In the meantime, the United States sees Turkey as a violator of the Kurds' human rights. "Turkey's relations with the Kurdish Regional Government are terribly important," Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told me in a recent interview. "[The] question for Turkey is what way is best for building the confidence between Turkey and Iraq as a whole, and Turkey and the regional government in the north."

    Truth may be helpful. On July 4, 2003, U.S. forces captured 11 Turkish Special Forces in Suleimania, Iraq, arresting them, handcuffing them and putting bags over their heads. The official U.S. story was that there was reliable intelligence that Turkish troops were preparing to assassinate the governor of Kirkuk. The Turkish side flatly denies the allegation. Asked about the arrest, Mr. England responded, "People may try to make issues of past... What's relevant is the situation exists today. And the impression I have today is that it's a strong relationship."

    That's good news for Turkey, which has a lot to gain from the relationship. The ethnic politics of the war in Iraq and U.S. reluctance to give a clear signal to the separatist Kurdish terrorists in Northern Iraq, however, complicate the situation. No one with common sense thinks the PKK problem can be solved only through military means -- just as fighting against terrorists with solely military force won't solve the problem.

    Within the last week, two prominent Turkish newspapers re-opened the question of what happened in Suleimania. People continue to demand answers, even acknowledging that the Turkish side could be at fault. Turkish commanders who are involved in the incident are all retired. The U.S. commanders are all promoted to higher positions. "This does not prove anything," a prominent Turkish official told me. "Turkey was at no time at fault on that incident." According to Radikal newspaper, "The Suleimania incident assured that the Turkish forces in the region, who used to make operations against the PKK targets, accept the authority of the U.S. forces. If Turkish security forces got involved... without the authorization of their superiors in Ankara... the Turkish people have the right to know the truth. If the truth is shared by the people, it will prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future." Yet because U.S. officials have been silent, there is no resolution.

    That incident played a major role in lowering public opinion toward the United States among the Turkish people. It dropped to at an all-time low of 7 percent. Therefore, I ask the question -- again.

    Tulin Daloglu is a free-lance writer.

    © 2007 The Washington Times

    US Senate committee delays vote on Dink resolution
    A decision by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Tuesday to delay a planned vote on a resolution condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and calling on Turkey to abolish a penal code article widely considered to be a barrier standing in the way of freedom of expression has led to disappointment in the Armenian diaspora while pleasing Ankara in that US lawmakers apparently have taken Turkey's concerns into consideration.

    "We are troubled that Senator Lugar -- apparently acting at the request of the administration -- has delayed the US Senate's tribute to the life and memory of Hrant Dink," said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the influential US-based Armenian lobbying organization the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), was quoted as saying in reference to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' ranking member, Richard G. Lugar. "We look forward to the panel, at the next opportunity, rejecting any efforts to block or water down this measure and passing it in the form it was introduced."

    On Tuesday, when the committee gathered at a "business meeting," Lugar objected to the resolution text and wanted the "Armenian genocide" expression to be taken out of the resolution.

    The non-binding resolution, drafted by Democrat Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, condemns the murder of Dink and calls for abolishment of the infamous Article 301 under which Dink was tried and handed a six-month suspended sentence for "insulting Turkishness" and also calls on Turkey to establish full political, diplomatic and economic relations with neighboring Armenia.

    "Apparently the reason for the delay is a disagreement among US lawmakers, as some of them expressed their uneasiness over certain expressions used in the resolution," diplomatic sources on Wednesday told Today's Zaman, avoiding comment on whether the US lawmakers were upset by the "genocide" expression.

    "This is a non-binding resolution, and what matters for us is the US administration's stance in regard to Armenian allegations. So far, the US administration hasn't bowed to Armenian pressure to officially recognize the allegations," the same diplomatic sources said.

    Senator Lugar and Senator Biden are expected to draw up a new joint text for the same resolution before the committee gathers for the next meeting, the Anatolia news agency reported from Washington yesterday.

    Meanwhile, officials at the Turkish Embassy in Washington have been constantly informing US lawmakers over "inappropriate expressions" and facts in the resolution.


    Turks and Greeks need to forge real friendship
    Ilnur Cevik
    08 March 2007
    It seems Turkey and Greece have established some form of detente and understanding that may well develop into close cooperation in this part of the NATO flank. This will be further strengthened when Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul visit Athens in the near future.

    However, this is not enough. As long as we do not forge real friendship and understanding between the peoples of the two countries we will not get far.

    Look at the latest controversy where nationalists in Greece and Turkey are trading insults over the Internet. The war carried on at the YouTube website resulted with Turkey blocking access to the web site.

    Turks and Greeks should not seek each and every opportunity to hurt each other by any means. Yet, we see with shock that this is the case.

    Greece should help Turkey in solving the Cyprus issue because this is really creating more enmity and intolerance between Turks and Greeks in every sphere than any other issue.

    There is always a problem concerning Cyprus.

    The Greek Cypriot attitude that resulted in the stalling of the European Union process for Turkey has created deep resentment.

    Greek Cypriot efforts to allow foreign companies to prospect for oil around the island has created deep anger and Turkey has sent its warships to the Eastern Mediterranean as a show of force.

    Last but not least, now we hear that the Greek Cypriots are signing a defense cooperation agreement with France that has sent Turks hopping mad.

    The provocations continue on a routine basis.

    Let no one make any mistake that we now face a nationalistically changed nation in Turkey where trend is becoming progressively antagonistic. There are too many hotheads around. But there are also moderate people who have started to voice their anger over the Greek Cypriot attitude. This may sooner or later be translated into enmity towards Greece.

    Everyone has a responsibility to defuse this situation and create a true atmosphere of friendship and cooperation between the nations of the Aegean. We have to resurrect the atmosphere that prevailed when a killer quake hit Turkey and the Greeks came to our aid and when the Turks rushed to help their Greek friends when another quake hit their land.

    We should not allow the hotheads to prevail on both sides of the Aegean. But this means we have to take steps to bring the two nations together instead of creating such Internet wars.

    In wake of Hrant Dink murder, print media pays heavy price for coverage
    The 18-year-old suspected murderer of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, O.S. of Trabzon, has turned out to be a bigger-than-expected headache for Turkish newspapers.

    Many newspapers in Turkey are now facing stiff fines in the wake of Dink’s mid-January murder for breaking the press rule of “not disclosing the identities of those under 18 years of age.” Prosecutors have demanded fines of up to YTL 100,000 from newspapers that broke the “under 18” rule, and reports are that if the money is not paid within 10 days, the fines will increase. While the Turkish Press Council complains that “the media is paying the price for the Dink murder,” the Journalists’ Association is pointing at what they say is a double standard for newspapers compared to television stations, noting that although Dink’s alleged murderer, O.S., received plenty of exposure on television, there have been no fines meted out to television stations. A prosecutor working on the O.S. case revealed recently in a press conference that the fines for the Zaman newspaper in the Dink case would be more than YTL 100,000.

    Journalist Oktay Eksi, the chairman of the Turkish Press Council, has asserted that it is the print media that is being saddled with the bill following Dink’s murder, noting that he is against the tens of thousands of fines dealt out to newspapers for each photograph and article that broke the “under 18 criminal suspect” rule. Eksi said that prosecutors, instead of pursuing those responsible for the Dink murder, have given orders for various newspapers to pay fines, and that these fines have had a silencing effect on the 67 large and 900 local newspapers in Turkey, as well as on the nearly 20 news agencies across in the country.

    Eksi also underlined that the printed press was not the first to disclose Dink’s murderer’s identity to Turkey, recalling that on Jan. 21, 2007, the police had made O.S.’s name public, while a little while later, the Istanbul governor, Istanbul police chief, the Samsun governor and the Samsun police chief also revealed O.S.’s name and identity once again. Eksi also asserted that in the first days following the murder, O.S.’s age had not yet been determined and that most people in Turkey received their initial information about O.S. and his actions from television.

    Managing Editor of Hürriyet daily Tufan Türenç asserts that the disclosure of Hrant Dink’s murderer’s identity should not have brought up questions about press principles, saying: “There is no reason for hiding names in this situation. Images of the killer were openly broadcast to help bring about his capture. His name was disclosed. Thanks to the broadcast images, he was caught. Would his father have been able to identify him if something had prevented the broadcast of these images? This is not a matter of principles. I think the decision to reveal his name was the right one.”

    The chairman of the Turkish Journalists’ Association, Orhan Erinç, agrees that in principle, the names of criminal suspects under the age of 18 should not be revealed in the printed press but notes that since all of Turkey already knew O.S.’s identity, due to public disclosures by high level government authorities, there was no logic in this principle. Erinç also points to the contradictions inherent in the fines which have been leveraged against the print media, saying “When you make a disclosure on television it’s not a crime, but when you write it in a newspaper, it’s a crime.”

    Authorities at the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s bureau have agreed that due to the massive outcry sparked by the Dink murder, as well as to the fact that the identity of Dink’s murderer was known by “all of Turkey,” the rules of secrecy which would normally apply in a case like this do not apply to the ongoing investigation into this case. It was following the arrival of a state-appointed defense lawyer for Dink murderer O.S. that the request was made to republic prosecutors to bring about strictures on Turkish newspaper and television coverage of the identity and images of the murderer.


    In US, Armenian FM lobbies for passage of 'genocide' resolution
    The New Anatolian with AP / Washington
    07 March 2007
    Armenia's foreign minister Monday voiced worries about a high-level Turkish push against a proposed congressional resolution to recognize a "genocide" of Armenians alleged to have happened at the end of World War I.

    Vartan Oskanian, in Washington on Monday for meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and members of Congress on wide-ranging topics that included the proposed "genocide" resolution, said in an interview that Armenia feels compelled to discuss the resolution because of public warnings by Turkey against its passage.

    "Governments should stay away from meddling in these matters," Oskanian told The Associated Press. "But when topics of interest for Armenia are being discussed, we cannot remain as a government indifferent, particularly in light of Turkish lobbying at a government level."

    The comments follow recent visits to Washington by top Turkish officials including Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who warned last month that the resolution, if passed, would harm Turkish-American relations.

    The measure, which claims that 1.5 million Armenians were killed almost a century ago in what it describes as "genocide," is likely to draw protests from Turkey. The Bush administration has warned that even congressional debate on the genocide question could damage relations with a vital Muslim ally and member of NATO.

    In Washington, Armenian-American groups have been pressing for years for a resolution on the genocide issue. The House of Representatives' International Relations Committee last year endorsed two resolutions classifying the killings as genocide. But the House leadership, controlled by Bush's Republican Party, prevented a vote by the full chamber.

    The genocide claim was the key issue as the Senate considered the ambassadorial nomination of Hoagland to replace John Evans, who reportedly had his tour of duty cut short because, in a social setting, he referred to the killings as genocide. Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, blocked the nomination over Hoagland's refusal to use the word genocide at his confirmation hearing in June. With Democrats taking over the Senate, it will be even more difficult now for the Bush administration to circumvent Menendez's objections.

    Turkey strongly opposes the claims that its predecessor state, the Ottoman government, caused the Armenian deaths in a planned genocide. The Turkish government has said the toll is wildly inflated and that Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the empire's collapse and conditions of World War I. Ankara's proposal to Yerevan to set up a joint commission of historians to study the disputed events is still awaiting a positive response from the Armenian side.

    After French lawmakers voted last October to make it a crime to deny that the claims were a genocide, Turkey said it would suspend military relations with France.

    Turkey provides vital support to U.S. military operations. Incirlik Air Force Base, a major base in southern Turkey, has been used by the U.S. to launch operations into Iraq and Afghanistan and was a center for U.S. fighters that enforced the "no-fly zones" which kept the Iraqi air force bottled up after the 1991 Gulf War.

    Oskanian said that the Turkish warnings were an attempt to silence critics of Turkey's position on genocide abroad as it has domestically through its penal code.

    "Now Turks are traveling to punish the United States if the U.S. Congress dares to speak out about the genocide," he said.

    Oskanian said he discussed the resolution with Rice in Monday's meeting; which also focused on broader relations with Turkey, negotiations with Azerbaijan to settle their dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, and preparations for Armenia's parliamentary elections in May.

    Court of Justice and genocide law (I)
    Gunduz Aktan
    07 March 2007
    The International Court of Justice at the Hague late last month concluded a case filed in 1993 by Bosnia against Serbia.

    In the war that broke out in early 1992, Bosnian Serbs, with personnel and weapons provided by the Serbian Army, carried out an appalling "ethnic cleansing" against Bosnians and Croats. Since there was an arms embargo on Yugoslavia, arming Bosnians was impossible. The United Nations "peace" force UNPROFOR either failed to protect the Bosnians or did not want to do so.

    Under these circumstances, Turkey in December 1992 asked the Human Rights Commission to convene an extraordinary meeting and secured the insertion of the term "genocide" into the resolution adopted by the commission. Turkey's aim was to put pressure on Serbia and, if necessary, push the international community toward an armed intervention in Bosnia under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention (1948) which makes it a state responsibility to prevent genocide. This resolution later led to the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) by the UN Security Council and the prosecution of perpetrators on charges of genocide and other crimes.

    Turkey also encouraged Bosnia to initiate court proceedings against the Republic of Yugoslav Federation of the time in the framework of Article 9 of the Genocide Convention. This is the case that was finalized last month.

    At that time some argued that Turkey's pursuing an active role over genocide would cause counter-claims due to the so-called Armenian genocide claims. We dismissed them. The tragedy in Bosnia, however serious it was, was outside of the genocide definition of the convention. Should the court remain within the limits of law, it would not broaden the definition of genocide to include Armenian relocation, which had nothing to do with genocide. The judgment of the court proved Turkey's position to be right.

    The court's ruling says the terrible atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina were not genocide. The only exception was the Srebrenica massacre of June 12-13, 1995. The ICTY ruled that this massacre amounted to genocide in the cases of Krstic and Blagojevich. Had there been no decision of the ICTY, probably the court would not have characterized the Srebrenica massacre as genocide.

    When the court's judgment is analyzed, the legal reasons underlying the court's attitude, which at first sight provokes resentment, are understood. The court said the first three acts out of five proscribed under Article 2 of the convention are relevant to this case. Regarding the first act, i.e. killing members of the group, the court admitted that grave massacres were committed in Bosnia. Regarding the second, i.e. serious bodily and mental harm to the members of the group, it agreed that incidences of mass torture and rapes occurred. And concerning the third act, i.e. deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, the court said this crime was committed, particularly in detention camps where inhuman conditions prevailed.

    However, the court also ruled that the commission of these criminal acts as defined in the genocide convention doesn't necessarily amount to genocide, inasmuch as the Serbians didn't have the intent to destroy the Bosnians in committing these acts. That is to say, the court rules that massacres, mass torture and rape, and the extermination of thousands of people as a result of the inhuman conditions of detention camps, do not amount to genocide, unless there is special intent to destroy the group.

    The court underlines that the acts of crime committed with the aim of homogenizing the population of a region per se may not be deemed genocide. It stipulates that in addition to displacing a group, there should be the intent to destroy it as well. In other words, it says that "ethnic cleansing" carried out in Bosnia is not necessarily genocide.

    To prove the "intent" to destroy a people, the claims that "the Blue Book says so," "Right Hon. Henry Morgenthau or Vicar Priest Johannes Lepsius testify this," "world historians and sociologists already made up their mind," or "20 parliaments have recognized the genocide anyway" are no more than rumors.

    The court's verdict is not an extraordinary development to reinforce Turkey's stance vis-a-vis Armenian genocide allegations. But it proves how valid our legal attitude is. There has been no legal thesis of the Armenians anyway. This decision explains the reasons why not.

    Ara Sarafian, who must have predicted the verdict, is late in his proposal. The problem cannot be reduced to a particular region of Turkey, namely Harput. On the other hand, neither intellectuals nor historians can pass judgment on it.

    From now on, legal settlement is the only way.

    Washington Post Article Underscores Contradictions In Us Vote On Armenian Claims
    07 March 2007
    A recent article in the Washington Post newspaper has called on Turkey not to take seriously the US Congressional vote on the non-binding resolution on the so-called Armenian genocide bill. Post writer Jackson Diehl asserts that Turkey's behavior regarding the controversial bill should be "like one of the Western democracies," and that Turkey should simply "shrug its shoulders" and move on with regards to the bill. Diehl also notes in his article that no one much will place importance on the non-binding Armenian bill, pointing to another non-binding resolution passed by the House of Representatives against the Iraq war as an example.

    Dielh also uses his article to point to the estimated 70-80 ethnic Armenian voters who live in US Congressman Adam Schiff's district, a fact he asserts helped shaped Schiff's heavy involvement in the writing of the bill. Diehl also recalls that many other ethnically Armenian voters live in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district; Pelosi has reiterated her support for the bill many times.

    At one point in his article, Diehl touches on what he portrays as the lack of knowledge on the part of most House of Representatives members to even decide on such a long past subject as the alleged Armenian genocide. Says Diehl, "Just think, 435 House of Representative members, most of whom don't even know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, will decide on whether or not to approve of Adam Schiff's version of events which occured 92 years ago in the northeast region of Turkey."

    Propoganda For Turks, By Turks
    07 March 2007
    I read recently in the papers that a documentary aimed at disproving Armenian allegations of genocide was being filmed in Turkey. The film reportedly starts with shots of images of the death of the Provincial Governor of Bogazliyan, Kemal Bey, who was executed as punishment for his mistreatment of Armenians during the forced emmigrations.

    News has gotten out too that this film is being translated into foreign languages. Now, I don't want to cause disappointment here, but I think this entire effort is one which is not going to serve anyone's purposes.

    Until today, none of the efforts at trying to disprove the Armenian allegations of genocide have found a place for themselves in the Western media. In fact, we even know that the Armenian lobby places so much pressure on any publishing houses which move to print books that might aim at disproving these allegations that the publishing houses later decide not to publish them. And for as long as the various parliaments of foreign nations continue to pass official decisions that "the Armenian genocide took place," this is just the way it is going to be for us.

    In the end, we will watch this film, and either get more angry, or relax a bit. But there can be no real results which come from "Propoganda for Turks by Turks." I have worn out the keys on my computer from writing this over and over, but here goes one more time:

    "We still have no serious organization to fight the Armenian genocide allegations on the international platform."

    What we really need is a strong platform which utilizes different methods of reaching the masses. But instead, we still haven't been able to gather all our documents in reference to the WWI Armenian emmigration period under one roof, opening them up this way to research. All we seem to know is how to expose ourselves to our own propoganda. And that, unfortunately, is not getting us anywhere.

    U.S. Congress Genocide Resolution Is Rather Moral Than Political Step
    Adoption of the Armenian Genocide bill by the U.S. Congress cannot become a subject of speculations and pressure on Armenia by the United States, political scientist Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan told a press conference in Yerevan. He said, it is a rather moral than a political step. "However, currently it is being viewed in the political aspect.

    After all, United States' guilt in 1896-1923 Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire is rather small. In this crime more guilt have Russia, Germany, France and Great Britain. Here France's example is very instructive, which despite anything recognized the Armenian Genocide and even adopted a bill on criminal punishment for denying it," the political scientist stressed. He expressed confidence that the United States will not demand support from Armenia in the Iranian problem in return for adoption of the bill.

    Have we lost the genocide war?
    March 7, 2007
    Mehmet Ali Birand

    The Armenian diaspora is more encouraged each day. They gain ground in the genocide allegations. Because Turkey cannot recover, they get closer to their target.

    The diaspora has three aims:

    1. To make the world accept the genocide allegations as a historical fact. To engrave in people's minds that Turks have committed genocide against Armenians by converting the data in their research into books and documentaries.

    2. Once it is accepted by the international public, to ensure political acceptance of genocide and to convince governments that it is a historical fact.

    3. To open ways to receive indemnity and even land from Turkey once the genocide is accepted as such.

    We can summarize the latest situation in this three-point struggle as follows: The diaspora has essentially established in the international public that the genocide is a historical fact. As Yasemin Çongar has stated in her marvelous analysis in Monday's Milliyet, genocide allegations have stuck to us primarily in the United States and European publics. We have lost the battle in this field. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to convince people otherwise, regardless of the amount of research we make, books we publish or documentaries we prepare.

    Turkey has followed such a reluctant and clumsy attitude, has avoided taking the initiative, and has buried its head in the sand for so long on this issue that I cannot help but wonder sometimes ?whether we also secretly believe that there is genocide and that is not why we take no action.? I cannot explain myself why we have been acting so carelessly, why we have been doing nothing.

    The diaspora is now at the second level. It is struggling to have the genocide accepted politically.

    Turkey is losing ground in this struggle each year, also. The parliament of yet another country gets on the genocide train. And we cannot go beyond vociferating. In any case, there is not much we can do. Will we quarrel with everyone, close our doors, and live in isolation?

    Maybe the United States Congress will skip it this year and postpone voting on it until 2008. But what will this change? In the end, Washington will also get on the genocide train.

    The weakest link in the Armenian diaspora's long-term struggle is receiving land and alimony from Turkey. As long as Turkey has internal stability and as long as its economy gets stronger, the plans for land and alimony will not work…

    Then, will we just stand and watch all of this?

    Will we not do anything?

    That would be unacceptable… There is so much to do. It would only suffice to have political will and courage…

    Let's get Armenia on our side:

    Now the strongest advantage Turkey has in the genocide struggle is its relations with Armenia. The importance of this advantage will grow even more during the political phase of genocide allegations in other countries.

    Developing economic relations with Armenia and opening borders will both increase Turkey's prominence in the region and ease some of the pressure it is under.

    The talks about how to establish relations with Armenia and how mutual approaches can be reorganized will not be binding for anyone. If conditions that cannot be met arise during these talks, the simplest thing to do would be to leave the table. However, even the news that Turkey and Armenia are in meetings will have positive consequences in the international arena.

    As you can see, Turkey still has many other alternatives. Suffice it that we want to take action and be courageous.

    Turkey hosts US Muslim leader
    March 7, 2007
    ANKARA – TDN Parliament Bureau

    Turkey is in search of cooperation with the U.S. Black Muslim leader Deen Mohammad to prevent the so-called clash of civilizations and to reinterpret Islam according to the needs of the 21st century while lobbying against Armenian genocide claims in the U.S. Congress. Mohammad yesterday arrived to Ankara for a 3 days visit, as a guest of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). He started his visit at the Atatürk mausoleum. “I am not an imam. I am a businessman and I am also a community leader,” Mohammad told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. He added that they are in search for cooperation with Turkey. Mohammed is known to be the leader of 2 million Muslims in United States. In 1996 he met with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and participated in the National Prayer Service Celebrating the second inauguration of then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Mohammad will meet with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül and Minister of Trade and Industry Ali Cos,kun today. He will also have talks with the head of religious affairs directorate Ali Bardakog(lu and the Mufti of I.stanbul, Mustafa Çag(r?c?, about Islam and the situation of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the world. In a joint press conference with Bag(?s,, he underlined the importance of education in Islam, saying the first command of the Prophet Mohammad was “Read.” He evaded a question about Turkey's role in Islamic world but stressed the importance of education for all Muslim societies. Mohammad said he was critical about the U.S. administration's policies in Iraq and he also emphasized he was against Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. “I said to my community to support the war when I saw the things in Iraq but I regret it now. Our soldiers should be called back and return home,” he said. In the lunch with the Turkish deputies, Bag(?s, argued that although 80 percent of logistical support to U.S. soldiers is passing from Turkey, U.S. politicians do not have enough knowledge about the role of Turkey, according to sources attending the lunch.

    Black Muslims lobby for Turkey: Muslims and Jews will cooperate against the Armenian lobby in the United States against the resolution, which was introduced to the House of Representatives about the genocide claims. He underlined that they have a deputy in Congress, Keith Ellison, and he said, he would meet to talk about the importance of Turkey with Ellison again. He also said the first black senator, Barack Obama, is an important person to prevent the genocide claims in U.S. politics. In the press conference Bag(?s, drew attention to the power of the Armenian and Greek lobby. He announced that Turkey is in search for different lobbying groups in U. S. to counter the anti-Turkish groups.

    Great Word Of The Key Man
    Sabah, Turkey
    March 5 2007
    The key man to determine the destiny of the Armenian bill, Lantos stated: "we saw your rightfulness. We will do our best not to pass the bill."

    The most powerful person of the Jewish lobby in the USA was convinced after the visits of Gul and Buyukanıt. Lantos (79) the chairman of the congress of the foreign relations committee sent a message through the Prime Minister of Israel, Olmert: "we will do our best against the bill."

    Key man is convinced
    The key man to determine the destiny of Armenian Bill in the USA, the chairman of the congress foreign relations committee Tom Lantos sent the message to Ankara through Israel: "we will do our best not to pass the bill."

    Ankara was relieved after getting the message from the key man to determine the destiny of Armenian Bill in the USA, the chairman of the congress foreign relations committee Tom Lantos "we are convinced. We will do our best not to pass the bill." Turkish authorities were lobbying in the USA not to pass the bill and trying to convince the chairman of the congress foreign relations committee Tom Lantos who has a power in the Congress as he survived the Jewish massacre in the 2nd World War.

    Oskanian Discusses Armenian Polls, Karabakh With Rice
    By Emil Danielyan
    Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington on Monday to discuss Armenia's upcoming parliamentary elections, efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and other issues of mutual interest.

    A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said Oskanian and Rice agreed on the importance of the vote's `conformity with international standards.' No details were reported.

    The U.S. State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, made no statements on the meeting during a daily press briefing on Monday.

    The U.S. administration is pressing the authorities in Yerevan to ensure that the elections scheduled for May 12 are more democratic than the ones held in the past. It has set aside $6 million for various projects aimed at enhancing the transparency and public oversight of the electoral process.

    U.S. officials have warned that a repeat of electoral fraud would call into question the disbursement of $235 million in additional economic assistance to Armenia under the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry statement, the promised aid was high on the agenda of Oskanian's talks with Rice. `The minister presented preparations for the implementation of the program that have been made until now,' it said.

    The two officials were also reported to have discussed international efforts to broker a solution to the Karabakh dispute which are spearheaded by the United States, Russia, and France. U.S. diplomats say Armenia and Azerbaijan are close to cutting a framework peace deal in the months following the Armenian elections. Oskanian is expected to hold another round of talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov next week.

    The ministry statement said Oskanian and Rice also discussed U.S. efforts to help improve the strained Turkish-Armenian relations. It did not elaborate.

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told RFE/RL last month that Washington is pressing Ankara to use a rare opportunity to normalize relations with Yerevan that arose after the January 19 assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Bryza said Rice is personally `encouraging' a Turkish-Armenian `reconciliation process' that would address the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

    Armenian officials have sounded pessimistic about the success of those efforts, saying that the Turkish government is sticking to its preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations and reopening the border with Armenia.

    In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Oskanian said he specifically spoke with Rice about a draft U.S. congressional resolution that recognizes the Armenian massacres as genocide. He expressed concern at high-level Turkish government efforts to scuttle its widely anticipated passage by the House of Representatives.

    "Governments should stay away from meddling in these matters," he said. "But when topics of interest for Armenia are being discussed, we cannot remain as a government indifferent, particularly in light of Turkish lobbying at a government level."

    Visiting Washington last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul warned that the resolution, if passed, will harm Turkish-American relations.

    Beleaguered And Besieged; Turkey's Pro-European Elite Is The Target Of A Growing Wave Of Violent Ultra-Nationalism
    Owen Matthews; With Sami Kohen in Istanbul
    Newsweek March 5, 2007

    The threats have been arriving daily, often via e-mail. "You traitors to Turkey have had your day," reads one. "Stop prostituting yourself and your country to foreigners or you will face the consequences."

    Not long ago, E, a prominent Turkish writer, would have shrugged off such missives--as did his friend Hrank Dink, the editor of Agos, Turkey's main Armenian-language newspaper, who for years had been a target of nationalist hate-mail. But after Dink was shot dead last month by a 17-year-old ultranationalist assassin, the threats suddenly became deadly serious. "Things are changing in Turkey, very much for the worse," says E, asking that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. "Before Dink's murder, I always spoke out against nationalism and narrow-mindedness. Now I fear for my life."

    A wave of violence is sweeping Turkey, targeting its modern, pro-European elite. Prominent liberals like Can Dundar, a columnist at the newspaper Milliyet who supported a 100,000-strong march in Istanbul protesting Dink's killing, have received warnings to "be smart" and tone down their coverage. Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, vilified by nationalists for comments he made last year condemning the massacres of Ottoman Armenians in 1915, canceled a reading tour in Germany and has left Turkey for self-imposed exile in the United States. Many other academics and journalists have been given police protection.

    It's not only intellectuals who feel beseiged. Turkey's ruling AK Party faces the same peril--a nationalist backlash that is undermining four years of sweeping progress. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once feared by Turkey's pro-Western elite for his Islamist background, finds himself fighting to protect liberal values on everything from human rights and free expression to membership in the European Union. Erdogan condemned Dink's murder as "a bullet fired at the heart of Turkish democracy." The killers, he said, were "not nationalists but racists," bent on isolating Turkey from the modern world. But the evidence is mounting that the tide is turning against him and his European agenda.

    The nationalists have a growing list of grievances. Chief among them: that Erdogan, prodded by Brussels, granted more cultural rights to the country's 13 million Kurds. But instead of peace, the last year has seen an upsurge in Kurdish guerrilla attacks on Turkish soldiers.

    That's given rise, in turn, to a number of anti-Kurdish nationalist groups. The leader of one such group, the Patriotic Forces in Mersin, an ethnically mixed town in the largely Kurdish southeast, recently called on "Turkish patriots" to take to the streets to prevent Kurds from "taking over." Worse, Erdogan's entire EU project was called into question last December when Brussels partially suspended talks in a dispute over Cyprus. After so many sacrifices for Brussels' sake, many Turks considered it "a slap in the face," says Naci Tunc, an activist for the Nationalist Action Party, or MHP.

    With national elections this fall, Erdogan himself is under intense political pressure to take a more nationalist line. Recent polls in Milliyet show that support for the MHP has risen to 14.1 percent, up from 8.4 percent in the 2003 vote, while support for the AK Party has slipped from 33 percent to 26. A bellwether of just how far Erodogan is willing to go in accommodating the nationalists involves the notorious Article 301, a provision of the national legal code that criminalizes "denigrating Turkishness" and has been used to prosecute dozens of journalists and writers, including Pamuk. Brussels insists that it must go; all of Turkey's opposition parties, chasing nationalist votes, insist it must stay. "We want to change the article," says a senior member of Erdogan's cabinet. "But we are alone."

    Another test comes in April, when Erdogan must decide whether or not to run for president--a largely symbolic post, but one which carries veto power over all legislation. The president is elected by Parliament, where Erdogan enjoys a comfortable majority. But as a former Islamist, imprisoned as recently 1999 for sedition, he faces strong opposition from conservatives in Turkey's politically powerful and staunchly secular military, judiciary and bureaucracy--collectively known as the "deep state." They insist on a more moderate, secular president as a counterbalance to Erdogan, or whom-ever the AK Party might choose to succeed him.

    Perhaps not even Erdogan himself, as yet, knows whether he will indeed make a play for the presidency. But if he does, Islamist-hating nationalist radicals are sure to be inflamed.

    Dangerously, there's evidence linking many of Turkey's ultranationalists to the Army and security forces. A video leaked to the media earlier this month showed Dink's 17-year-old killer, Ogun Samast, posing with smiling police officers and holding a Turkish flag after his arrest. An internal investigation has also shown that warnings of plans to kill Dink were ignored by Istanbul police--though it's not clear whether due to negligence or malice.

    Erdogan is too canny a politician to antagonize the country's Army to the point that an old-style coup becomes likely. But at the same time, he must tread carefully. Last week the chief of the military General Staff, Yasar Buyukanit, spoke out against those who sought to "split the state." It was a clear warning to pro-Armenian liberals and separatist Kurds, but most of all to Erdogan as he considers the thorny problems of reforming Article 301 and whether to run for president.

    It's a delicate balancing act. He must at once crack down on ultranationalist thuggery, without alienating an increasingly nationalist electorate. And he needs to continue with his government's program of reform, lest Turkey's EU bid fail irrecoverably. As resistance to his policies continues to grow more violent, that job will become vastly more difficult--if not impossible.

    Turkish Hackers Crack Web-Site Devoted To Armenian Genocide
    The www.theforgotten.com web-site devoted to the Armenian Genocide has been cracked by Turkish hackers. On the homepage of the site, photos of four Turkish gendarmes have been placed against the background of the Turkish flag under the slogan "We are all Turks!".

    To note, this motto has been used for several times by Turkish nationalists as a counter to the slogan "We are all Armenians, we are all Hrant Dinks!".

    To remind, the latter was written on the posters held by the participants of the funeral of Hrant Dink, the killed editor of the Istanbul-based "Agos" newspaper.

    According to Jean Ekian, an independent French journalist, the hackers who have recently cracked Armenian web-sites and the sites of several foreign NGOs work in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

    Senate Panel Delays Consideration Of Resolution Condemning Hrant Dink Assassination

    -- Sen. Lugar Calls for Postponement of S.Res.65 Vote Amid Heavy Pressure from the State Department

    WASHINGTON, DC - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today delayed discussion of a measure, authored by the panel's chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), condemning the brutal murder of journalist and human rights activist Hrant Dink, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

    The Committee's top Republican, Richard Lugar (R-IN), called for the delay in the consideration of S.Res.65 amid heavy pressure from the Administration to remove references to Dink's prosecution "under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for speaking about the Armenian Genocide." The legislation also urges the Turkish government to repeal this anti-free speech law. The resolution will now be scheduled for discussion at the Committee's next business meeting.

    "We are troubled that Senator Lugar - apparently acting at the request of the Administration - has delayed the U.S. Senate's tribute to the life and memory of Hrant Dink," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We look forward to the panel, at the next opportunity, rejecting any efforts to block or water down this measure, and passing it in the form it was introduced."

    Following the delay, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Chris Dodd (D-CT) stated that, "It is unfortunate that the committee deferred action on this important resolution. I look forward to voting in support of the resolution when the committee considers it at the next business meeting."

    Chairman Biden noted that, "Hrant Dink was a leading voice in Turkey's Armenian community and an eloquent advocate for human rights, press freedom, and reconciliation. His assassination was an outrage and a tragedy. Hrant's legacy deserves our respect and his death, our condemnation."

    "Hrant Dink spoke out for tolerance in an era when voices like his need to be heard," stated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. "His assassination was a terrible crime which warrants the strong condemnation of the Congress and the entire international community."

    In the days leading up to today's delay, ANCA activists in the 21 states with Senators on the Committee encouraged support for S.Res.65 through phone calls, faxes, and meetings. They also reminded Senate offices that Hrant Dink's brutal murder is a wake up call for the U.S. Senate to pass legislation formally recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Those interested in taking action on this issue may visit: http://capwiz.com/anca/issues/alert/?alertid'51776&type=CU

    On March 5th, the ANCA, in a letter sent to each of the members of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged Senators to oppose any efforts to water-down the language of S.Res.65. "We are opposed to any amendments which would alter the meaning of this measure, especially any that seek to remove mention of the Armenian Genocide, the very crime that Hrant Dink was so brutally persecuted for recognizing. An amended resolution that does not openly and honestly address the Armenian Genocide would represent a tragic surrender to the very same forces of intolerance that silenced him."

    Hrant Dink, editor of the bilingual Armenian/Turkish "Agos" newspaper, was gunned down outside his office in Istanbul on January 19th - sparking worldwide protests and renewed scrutiny of Turkey's repression of free speech and international campaign of Armenian Genocide denial.

    Two similar measures have been introduced in the U.S. House by Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), one that mentions the Armenian Genocide and one that does not. The ANCA supports the former, but not the latter.

    Armenian National Committee of America
    1711 N Street NW
    Washington, DC 20036
    Tel. (202) 775-1918
    Fax. (202) 775-5648
    Email anca@anca.org
    Internet www.anca.org

    March 6, 2007
    Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
    Tel: (202) 775-1918


    S. RES. 65 110th CONGRESS 1st Session
    S. RES. 65
    Condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and human rights advocate Hrant Dink and urging the people of Turkey to honor his legacy of tolerance.

    February 1, 2007
    Mr. BIDEN submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

    RESOLUTION Condemning the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist and human rights advocate Hrant Dink and urging the people of Turkey to honor his legacy of tolerance.

    Whereas Hrant Dink was a respected, eloquent advocate for press freedom, human rights, and reconciliation;

    Whereas, in 1996, Mr. Dink founded the weekly bilingual newspaper Agos and, as the paper's editor in chief, used the paper to provide a voice for Turkey's Armenian community;

    Whereas Mr. Dink was a strong proponent of rapprochement between Turks and Armenians and worked diligently to improve relations between those communities;

    Whereas Mr. Dink's commitment to democratic values, nonviolence, and freedom in the media earned him widespread recognition and numerous international awards;

    Whereas Mr. Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for speaking about the Armenian Genocide;

    Whereas, notwithstanding hundreds of threats to Mr. Dink's life and safety, he remained a steadfast proponent of pluralism and tolerance;

    Whereas Mr. Dink was assassinated outside the offices of Agos in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 19, 2007;

    Whereas tens of thousands of people in Turkey of many ethnicities protested Mr. Dink's killing and took to the streets throughout the country to honor his memory;

    Whereas the Government of Turkey has pledged to undertake a full investigation into the murder of Mr. Dink;

    Whereas the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has stated that when Mr. Dink was shot, `a bullet was fired at freedom of thought and democratic life in Turkey';

    Whereas the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Vartan Oskanian, stated that Mr. Dink `lived his life in the belief that there can be understanding, dialogue and peace amongst peoples'; and

    Whereas Mr. Dink's tragic death affirmed the importance of promoting the values that he championed in life: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the Senate--

    (1) condemns the murder of Hrant Dink as a shameful act of cowardice perpetrated with contempt for law, justice, and decency;

    (2) supports the pledge of the Government of Turkey to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the assassination of Mr. Dink and to prosecute those responsible;

    (3) urges the Government of Turkey to repeal Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and work diligently to foster a more open intellectual environment in the country that is conducive to the free exchange of ideas;

    (4) recognizes the decision of the Government of Turkey to invite senior Armenian religious and political figures to participate in memorial services for Mr. Dink;

    (5) calls on the Government of Turkey to act in the interest of regional security and prosperity and reestablish full diplomatic, political, and economic relations with the Government of Armenia; and

    (6) urges the people of Turkey to honor Mr. Dink's legacy of tolerance.

    Perinçek before Swiss court, supporters not admitted
    The leader of the neo-nationalist Turkish Workers' Party (IP), Dogu Perinçek, went on trial in the Swiss city of Lausanne for calling the alleged genocide of Armenians in 1915 an "international lie" during Turkish rallies in Lausanne two years ago.
    Nevertheless, 160 members of the Talat Pasha Committee who traveled to Lausanne in show of support to Perinçek were not allowed to enter the court hall, as well as the Turkish journalists who wanted to watch the trial.

    The Talat Pasha Committee, which aims at combating Armenian allegations, is named after an Ottoman interior minister whom Armenians claim had a key role in the alleged Armenian genocide. Talat Pasha was killed in 1921 by an Armenian gunman in Berlin.

    A Swiss official said the Turkish group -- most of whom were wearing red scarves and waving Turkish flags -- should have had written accreditation earlier from Swiss authorities to enter the court, the Anatolia news agency reported, noting that meanwhile, a group of Swiss and foreign journalists based in Switzerland and a group of Armenians living in Switzerland were allowed to enter the court hall. The trial, which started yesterday, will continue for four days, the agency also reported from Lausanne.

    Among Perinçek's supporters was Rauf Denktas, the first and former president of Turkish Cyprus. "We're not going [to Switzerland] for enmity, we're going to see whether we can lay the foundations of a friendship … In order to be friends, parties should avoid insults. We hope that cantons and governments in Switzerland eventually draw the conclusion that a years-long smear campaign is not something necessary for world peace," Denktas said on Monday ahead of his departure for Switzerland.

    If found guilty, Perinçek will be the first person sentenced under Switzerland's anti-racism law for denying the alleged genocide. In the past, a Bern court acquitted 12 Turks facing similar charges in 2001.

    Turkey vehemently denies that Armenian subjects under its predecessor the Ottoman Empire were victims of genocide. Facing a mounting Armenian campaign to get international recognition for the alleged genocide, Turkey called for a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts in 2005 to study the allegations. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharian proposing the establishment of such a committee. Nevertheless, Yerevan hasn't given a positive answer to Ankara's proposal up to date, instead arguing that such a committee should be inter-governmental.

    American historian Professor Justin McCarthy was also in Lausanne yesterday in order to stand before the court as a witness for the defendant. McCarthy has become a well-known name in Turkish public opinion in recent years.

    McCarthy said at the time that the source known as the "Blue Book," chosen by Armenians to prove their claims of genocide, was one of the products of the British war propaganda bureau's efforts at misinformation during World War I. Turkey also argues that Armenian allegations in the book, formally titled "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916," are not factually supported and the book as a whole was wartime propaganda by the British.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    Why does France act this way?
    What is Turkey's importance for France? What we always hear from French officials is that it is "very important." This is logical but correct to a certain degree because France sometimes makes a choice against Turkey in the conflict between Turkey and "another party."

    France has backed the Greek Cypriots in the Cyprus issue all along and acted accordingly in the UN Security Council. Let's just remember France's attitudes against Turkey's full membership in the EU. We know about the decision the French parliament took on the issue of the so-called Armenian genocide. The government took a stance against the genocide law but France's general tendency about it is well known. French politicians emphasize the argument of the "electoral body" or "public opinion" and ignore their role of leadership. Is this a stance that should be taken against a friend and ally they regard as "important"? If not, why does France act in this way? It is really hard to understand.


    Shadow over US-Turkish relations
    DOGU ERGIL d.ergil@todayszaman.com
    Next week the US Congress will debate the issue of the Ottoman treatment of the empire’s Armenian subjects during World War I. This is not going to be a scientific issue, since the Congress is not a scientific institution. It is not going to be a legal issue, either, because the US Congress has no right to pass judgment on what transpired 92 years ago in an alien land. The congressional resolution that will likely accuse the last Ottoman government of genocide or ethnic cleansing is nonbinding, yet it has relevance on two fronts. Such a resolution will morally weigh heavy on Turkey, which is presently under the spell of a nationalistic surge. The winds of nationalism will affect the impending presidential and general elections and may work against moderates and more internationalist-oriented political parties.

    Secondly, since the US invasion of Iraq and the founding of a Kurdish autonomous administration there, the Turkish public and establishment (especially the powerful military) have gone into a frenzy under the impression that this initiative will eventually divide Turkey by example. Turkey has three times the Kurdish population of Iraq. Already blamed of having betrayed the strategic partnership between the two countries, the US will be further accused of festering the Armenian problem to no avail except for initiating a sinister plan to divide Turkey. Bizarre as such a statement might seem, this is a wide spread belief in Turkey. So it is most likely that the Armenian resolution will damage current US-Turkish relations at a time when both the Turkish establishment and the public feel besieged at the international arena.

    No doubt, a vote that will be held at the US Congress next month will label the predicaments of the Armenians in the last decade of the Ottoman state as “genocide.” This is the name of the worst crime against humanity. Just like the annihilation of the indigenous peoples of the Americas by European invaders/settlers in the name of bringing “civilization” to these savage peoples. That is why the concept of “discovery” was disavowed by the scions of the original people of the Americas. Instead they replaced it with “encounter,” whereby the invaders wiped out the local civilization to replace it with their “superior” one. Not many people try to rally support to pass political judgment from their parliaments for these grand atrocities to accuse the Americans and the Spaniards of today for what the forbearers have done to millions. But then this is the character of politics more than anything else, it feeds on the feelings and interests of the electors and the elected of the day. The Armenian-American community in the US is 1.4 million strong, and it has powerful friends in the establishment, including the new House speaker, Nancy Pelosi among others.

    What could the accusation that republican Turkey was an accessory to a crime that transpired before its existence mean? The already high anti-American feelings in Turkey will reach record highs for sure. Secondly, because it is an election year, the incumbent government, which is most likely to be the winner of the next election as well, will bend under public pressure to distance itself from the US. The outcome will be Turkey’s reluctance to support the US in its strategic plans concerning Iraq and Iran. It is no wonder that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the other day, “Turkey will not allow its soil to be used as a launching ground against Iran.” Commentators hint that this may be the beginning of a process that may be followed by denying (or at least restricting) the use of the strategic air base Incirlik in southern Turkey to the Americans, which has played a critical role in all NATO and American operations in the Middle East and Asia (e.g. Afghanistan).

    To pass judgment on historical facts that are blurred with today’s political concerns may feel exiting for politicians, especially for the newly elected, who may think that they are morally righteous. But what do they know about the most basic facts of the volatile region where they are caught up presently? Can they distinguish between a Sunni and Shiite Arab and know why they are at odds and the Arabs in general with the Kurds? Their quest to repair the grief of the Armenians is going to inflict a similar wound on the Turkish psyche, which will grow callous to the ultimate need to open up the country to Western standards of democracy and cultural freedoms, which would sooner or later allow a rapprochement in history’s interpretation of what happened between Armenians and Turks. So what seems like a moral initiative by American politicians will be counterproductive. Their role must be to encourage dialogue and reconciliation, not the punishment of one side of the misdeeds of their ancestors four generations ago in return for the spiritual consolation of the other that will have no real consequences in promoting more understanding and empathy. And it is these qualities that are really missing in the shadow boxing between the Turks and the Armenians.


    Row erupts in Switzerland over meeting with Turkish justice minister
    March 6, 2007
    A row erupted in Switzerland yesterday after Turkey's justice minister and his Swiss counterpart met just days before Dogu Perinçek goes on trial charged with denial of genocide.

    Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher met his Turkish colleague Cemil Çiçek in Switzerland on Friday and Saturday following a Swiss invitation.

    "It's a scandal," Ueli Leuenberger, a Green Party parliamentarian told the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger, while a Christian Democrat counterpart on the Swiss-Armenia parliamentary group, Dominique de Buman, dubbed the visit a "provocation."

    The meeting occurred just a day before Perincek, head of the Turkish Workers' Party, flew into Switzerland to faces charges under Swiss law after he called the "genocide" of Armenians in 1915 an "international lie" during Turkish rallies in the city of Lausanne two years ago.

    Turkey fiercely rejects the label to describe the World War I massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire.

    However, the Swiss lower house of parliament recognized the massacre as genocide in December 2003 and the issue has sporadically soured Turkish-Swiss relations.

    The meeting between Cicek and Blocher has taken on added resonance because of the right-wing Swiss minister's controversial comments on anti-racism laws during a visit to Turkey last October.

    He suggested that the Swiss law, which refers to "grossly minimizing or justifying genocide," should be changed. Perincek is facing charges under that law.

    Blocher's stance was also at odds with Cabinet colleagues in the four-party government and earned an informal rebuke from legal circles.

    The Swiss Justice Ministry said in a statement that Blocher had extended the invitation to Cicek in October, to help "consolidate bilateral relations, which were particularly intense during the first half of the 20th century."

    Lausanne, where Perincek held his rally, was also the site of the international conference and treaty signed in 1923, which sealed the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

    The two-day meeting this weekend officially covered the integration of young Turkish immigrants in Switzerland, terrorism and judicial assistance.

    Ministry spokesman Livio Zanolari told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that Perincek's trial "was not a subject of discussion," and emphasized the separation of powers between the government and the Swiss judiciary.

    Swiss newspapers on Monday criticized the timing of the meeting.

    Us Senate, Instead Of Facing Up To A Lobby, Why Not Face Up To Reality?
    06 March 2007
    The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee is coming together to protest the murder of Hrant Dink. The US Congress, which encompasses the Senate, will also come together to decide on the so-called Armenian genocide bill. And we, seeing this stance from the US Congress, feel that we now have the right to pose the most definitive questions possible at this juncture to the US, which is the most important ally we have had during the history of our Republic.

    Now think: one morning in Turkey, I saw the dead, wracked body of the most important name in my profession lying on the street. This was Ugur Mumcu, who was assassinated.

    As it is, we learned from him how to ask questions.....

    We learned from him what it was to engage in the honorable work of a journalist, valueing the nation, the flag, and independence while doing so. And then one morning, dark hands took his life right in front of his home.....

    Ahmet Taner Kislali.....

    A man who was a window from this world looking out onto civilizations; they killed him too.....

    Cetin Emec.....The legendary lord of the news; they shot him too.

    And then there was of course Abdi Ipekci, a great great name whose end came in a chain of darkness that we were never even able to understand; they shot him too.

    And then there was the silent hero of information, Bedrettin Comert......he too a victim of murder.

    Professor Bahriye Ucok, Professor Muammer Aksoy, and Necip Hablemitoglu.....

    But that's not all; Turan Dursun, Kurdish intellectual Musa Anter, businessman Ozdemir Sabanci.....

    And last of all, Hrant Dink, a man who was shot and silenced because he was a son of this nation, and because he was a journalist.

    And now the US Senate is preparing to come together to protest the murder of Hrant Dink.

    And so do we not have the right to ask the following?: Why is it that the same commission which is coming together to protest Hrant Dink did not feel the need to do so for the Ugur Mumcus, the Kislalis, the Emeces, the Ipekcis and the Comerts of Turkey?

    And more importantly.....our country has lost 35 thousand fighting men in the name of Turkey.....why is it that our ally from Korea to Afghanistan, from Bosnia to Somalia, has never seen fit to offer condolences? We ask then what exactly it is that this commission, which has never issued a message of condolence for these 35 thousand dead soldiers of ours, is meaning to do in meeting to protest the death of a national son of ours and our sibling Hrant Dink? I have ionly one thing to say: what the US Senate is doing is a great shame to this great land and people.
    And as a last word: Hey US Senate, instead of facing up to a lobby, why not face up to reality?

    Genocide Denial Trial Raises Many Questions
    06 March 2007
    The trial of Turkish politician Dogu Perinçek, who made comments in Switzerland denying the 1915 Armenian massacre was genocide, opens in Lausanne on Tuesday. The court case, which is centred on Swiss anti:racism legislation, is set to test the already shaky relations between Bern and Ankara. A meeting between Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher : an opponent of the law : and his Turkish counterpart Cemil Cicek in Bern at the weekend has also raised eyebrows. Perinçek, the head of the Turkish Workers' Party, stands accused of racial discrimination after he called the genocide "an international lie" during a public speech in the city of Lausanne in July 2005.

    Under the Swiss penal code any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country's anti:racism legislation.

    Armenians maintain the mass killings in 1915 were genocide, a charge Turkey disputes.

    Experts say the presiding judge at the district court in Lausanne will have to negotiate some tricky waters concerning both the law and Swiss:Turkish relations.

    Tensions between Bern and Ankara were high in 2005 after Turkey criticised the Swiss authorities' decision to investigate Perinçek. It also later cancelled an official trip to Turkey by the then economics minister, Joseph Deiss.

    Law debate
    The law itself has been the subject of debate after Blocher announced during a visit to Turkey last October that the legislation was incompatible with freedom of expression.

    The comments were welcomed by Ankara but caused a storm of protest in Switzerland.

    Blocher has again come in for criticism by the media and some politicians over the timing of the meeting with his Turkish counterpart at the weekend. According to the justice ministry bilateral issues ? and not the trial ? were discussed.

    Legal experts have also raised questions about the law ? albeit in a different context.

    "The lawmakers wanted to assimilate the negation of a historical reality to a racist proclamation. This is controversial, because it is about two different things," said Robert Roth, dean of the faculty of law at Geneva University.

    Roth believes, however, the central question of the trial will be another one ? who should make a judgement on historical events?

    Genocide or massacre?
    The Armenians say Ottoman Turks slaughtered up to 1.8 million Armenians in a planned genocide between 1915 and 1918. Turkey denies the mass killings were genocide, saying the death toll is inflated.

    So far most historians, the Council of Europe, the French parliament and the Swiss House of Representatives ? plus two cantonal parliaments in Switzerland ? have all recognised the events as genocide. The Swiss government does not officially speak of genocide.

    Francesco Bertossa, who was part of the defence team in another Turkish genocide denial trial in 2001in Bern, believes the definition question should not influence the verdict.

    "The anti:racism law does not only punish genocide denial but also any crime against humanity," he said.

    For its part, the Swiss:Armenian Association, the private party associated with the public prosecutor in the trial, welcomes the case.

    "We will finally know if denigrating our people and tarnishing our memory is a crime in Switzerland," said co:president Sarkis Shahinian.

    Prosecutor:general Eric Cottier has been quoted as saying that unless shown to be otherwise, the Armenian genocide was "sufficiently recognised to be defined as such".

    But Perinçek remains defiant. Arriving in Switzerland at the weekend he reiterated his call for the law to be abolished and said he could prove that genocide did not take place.

    A verdict in the trial is expected on Friday.

    In Lausanne, Dogu Perincek Goes On Trail For Denying Armenian Genocide Claims
    06 March 2007
    A delegation of 160 people, included former President of Northern Cyprus, Rauf Denktas, has gone to Switzerland to show support for the head of Turkey's Workers' Party, Dogu Perincek, who is on trial there for publicly denying Armenian allegations of genocide. Perincek, who is being tried in Lausanne, was joined in court by a large group of academicians, historians, retired military officials, and politicians from Turkey, who left Istanbul on a specially chartered Turkish Airlines flight for Geneva. Speaking prior to departure at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, Denktas told reporters "Thousands of our Armenian siblings live here under good conditions. Workers come from Armenia to make a living here, and do so. So friendship between Turkey and Armenia is necessary on both sides. But friendship cannot be based on lies and slander."

    The general leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, Dogu Perincek is on trial in Switzerland for calling Armenian allegations of genocide in Turkey "an imperialist lie" during a 2005 demonstration in Lausanne. Reports say Perincek left Turkey for his trial in Lausanne carrying 90 kilos worth of Russian and Armenian documents with him.

    Armenia Concerned About Fate Of Proposed Genocide Resolution In U.S. Congress
    06 March 2007
    International Herald Tribune
    Armenia's foreign minister says he is worried about high-level Turkish lobbying against a proposed congressional resolution that would recognize as genocide the early 20th century killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians. Vardan Oskanian, in Washington on Monday for meetings with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and members of Congress on wide-ranging topics that included the proposed genocide resolution, said in an interview that Armenia feels compelled to discuss the resolution because of public warnings by Turkey against its passage.

    "Governments should stay away from meddling in these matters," Oskanian told The Associated Press. "But when topics of interest for Armenia are being discussed, we cannot remain as a government indifferent, particularly in light of Turkish lobbying at a government level."

    The comments follow recent visits to Washington by top Turkish officials including Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who warned last month that the resolution, if passed, would harm Turkish-American relations.

    The White House, which also sees the issue as a threat to relations with Turkey, has been trying to quash the legislation.

    Today in Americas
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    Armenian-American groups have been thwarted for years in efforts to get a resolution through the U.S. Congress. The bill introduced in the House of Representatives in January is thought to stand a much better chance of passing a floor vote but would require support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be offered for consideration.

    Armenians, supported by numerous scholars, contend that Turkey's predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, caused the Armenian deaths in a genocide. They have been adamant that the killings be recognized as among history's worst atrocities.

    The Turkish government contends the 1.5 million death toll is wildly inflated. It also says the Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the disarray that surrounded the empire's collapse.

    Turkey illustrated how seriously it takes the issue in October, when it said it would suspend military operations with France after French lawmakers voted to make it a crime to deny that the killings were genocide.

    Oskanian said that the Turkish warnings were an attempt to silence critics of Turkey's position on genocide abroad as it has domestically through its penal code.

    "Now Turks are traveling to punish the United States if the U.S. Congress dares to speak out about the genocide," he said.

    Oskanian said he discussed the resolution with Rice in Monday's meeting; which also focused on broader relations with Turkey; negotiations with Azerbaijan to settle their dispute over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh; and on preparations for Armenia's elections in May.

    Turkish Nationalist To Stand Trial For Armenian Genocide Denial In Switzerland
    05 March 2007
    Turkish nationalist, leader of the Turkish Labor Party Dogu Perincek will stand trial in Switzerland. The legal proceedings launched over violation of Swiss anti-racist law on the Armenian Genocide denial may cause tension in the Swiss-Turkish relations. The news has already made a stir in Turkey, where nationalists, specifically members of the Talaat-pasha committee claim “it’s a process against Turkey.” Representatives of the Armenian Association of Switzerland said this trial may become a kind of “premiere”. They say rallies in Perincek’s support and attempts to threaten the Swiss authorities are also possible.

    In September 2005 the Swiss law enforcement charged Dogu Perincek of violating the anti-racist law by denying the Armenian Genocide three times. Perincek called the Genocide “an international lie” during his speech in Bern and repeated the same words in Zurich. According to the Swiss legislation, public denial or justification of the Armenian Genocide conflicts with the law and is viewed as a criminal deed. Dogu Perincek made a similar statement in May 2005 and also during an event dedicated to the 82nd anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty, reports IA Regnum.

    A criminal case was also initiated against chairman of the Turkish Association of Historians Yusuf Halacogly, who repeatedly denies the Armenian Genocide. Official Ankara is constantly censuring the Swiss government and the court decisions. The Swiss authorities, however, say the juridical system functions independently of the government.

    Poison In Armenian Blood: Making Politics Through Dink's Death
    05 March 2007
    Journal of Turkish Weekly
    Unfortunately, Turkish-Armenian relations are being controlled by the discussions about Turks and Armenians who died nearly a century ago instead of being related with the living people of the two societies. In time, the past has become more important and Armenian issue has been turned into an ‘Armenian Issue Industry’. Many people from the Armenian Diaspora owe their reputation and authority to this problem and gain income from the conflict between Turks and Armenians. Armenia, which was established in 1991, unfortunately has contracted this disease. Currently, no one can ask questions to Kocharyan about the economy, democratization, the Karabakh issue or any other current or vital Armenian problems, but ‘genocide’. Whenever he is in trouble, Mr. Kocharyan always repeats the Armenian claims against Turkey; not only when he is in the country but also when he is in abroad. Before anybody to be able to ask questions about the Azeri territories under Armenian occupation for more than a decade, he says that “Turks massacred us in 1915 and now they may do the very same thing again.” When they ask about the democratization and the economic growth of the country his answer is ready again “We are besieged by the Turks that is why our country cannot develop.”

    Lately, the hottest issue among the radicals in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora is Hrant Dink’s murder. Dink was an Istanbul Armenian and an intellectual. For several times, I had the opportunity to meet him face to face and the ones who know the matter deeply will admit how superficial it would be to relate Dink’s death with the Armenian issue. This is a job of the gangs, who call themselves ‘deep state’ and are against the democratization and the EU process in Turkey. Besides, most of the victims of the assassinations are of the Turkish origin. As a matter of fact that Dink is the only Armenian victim in political murders in the Republican history.

    Another regrettable dimension is that those, who Hrant Dink had fought against all of his life, is trying to make politics through Dink’s death. The some of the radicals in Armenian diaspora try to abuse his death to deepen the Turkish-Armenian problem although Dink made all possible efforts to close both peoples when he was alive. The Diaspora blamed Dink of being a betrayer and a servant of Turkey.

    In 2004, on the last week of November an international meeting was held in Marseille, in France. In this meeting, the tension increased between Turkey’s Armenians and the radicals of the Armenian Diaspora. Being humiliated by the Armenian Diaspora, Etyen Mahcupyan and Hrant Dink blamed the radicals in the Diaspora of making politics through the corpses and not wanting a resolution in Armenian issue. Mahcupyan and Dink advocated that Turkey’s EU membership would be a key factor for the resolution of the Armenian issue and they claimed that the Diaspora had not changed and was afraid of any step that would be taken by Turkey.[1] Mahcupyan summarizes the meeting as follows:

    “I said that “You are resisting against Turkey trying to become a member of the EU; which means that in fact, you are resisting against the Armenian genocide to be recognized.” They got angry. I continued as “You would be relieved if no Armenians had left in Turkey since it would only be your voice to be heard. You still prefer to make politics through the corpse. However, the politics should be made through the live people.” And I added that “The Armenians in Turkey are aware of everything.” Up to now, it was impossible to hear the voice of Turkey’s Armenians in international meetings. Due to this fact, it was being perceived that there was a monolithic, a total Armenian opinion. In this meeting, the rigid and sick attitude of the Armenian Diaspora was revealed once again. Since the resistance of the Diaspora on Turkey’s membership to the EU not only contradicts with the interests of Armenia but also against the interests of Armenians in Turkey.”[2]

    Dink, being one of Turkish Armenians and the chief editor of the AGOS weekly newspaper, attended to the meeting and blamed the Armenian Diaspora of failing to change[3];

    “Change is something that draws everyone behind it and becomes determinative. In fact, this is the most important blessing of the humankind. The ones, who say that some people cannot change – which Diaspora claims that Turkey has not change – are in a big mistake. However, the world and Turkey is changing and the Diaspora should participate in this and support Turkey’s change and democratization process. Today, the Diaspora should ask itself what is the meaning of the carried on campaigns against Turkey’s EU membership by the Armenian Diaspora in Europe, particularly by the Diaspora in France. Because this membership process definitely changes Turkey and if the “Armenian Genocide” problem to be resolved, this would be in the framework of this process. Accordingly, blocking this process, in a way means blocking the resolution and preventing Turkish people to question their history and to see the truths. The Diaspora should primarily think about the future of the Armenian world. And the future of this world is closely related with the security and the future of Armenia. The aimed objective should particularly be this and the Diaspora should reorganize all of its demands in this context. Thus, nowadays it is the common sense that the Diaspora needs the most.”

    His criticisms on Diaspora do not stop here. Mr. Dink stated that the Diaspora had built the Armenian identity on Turkish hostility and he defined this situation as “the poison in the Armenian blood”. In accordance with Dink’s opinion, Armenians by building their identity on Turkish opposition was only poisoning themselves and neglecting the most important parts of the Armenian identity. He was insisting that Armenian identity should have been built on Armenia and the Turkish hostility “should be replaced with the noble ties that would be established with Armenia”. In fact, he promoted the whole relations with Armenia only for the possibility of evolution of a new approach. While being accused as a betrayer Dink took the risk of being not-wanted-man not only in Turkey but also among Armenians.

    Dink was accusing the Diaspora of “making politics through the corpse” in Marseille Conference. Unfortunately, the Diaspora insists on this habit and now they are making politics through the Dink’s corpse.

    By the way, it should be noted that the ‘Armenian Issue Industry’ on the Armenian side creates a similar industry here in Turkey and this would result in the problems to become permanent and never to be resolved.


    [1] Sefa Kaplan, ‘Rahatiz Diye Üzülmeyin’, (Do Not Be Disturbed Because We are in Comfort), Hürriyet, 30 Kasim 2004; ‘Diasporaya Sagduyu Daveti’, (Common Sense Call for the Diaspora), Agos, 26 Kasim 2004.

    [2] Sefa Kaplan, ‘Rahatiz Diye Üzülmeyin’ (Do Not Be Disturbed Because We are in Comfort), Hürriyet, 30 Kasim 2004.

    [3] ‘Diasporaya Sagduyu Daveti’ (Common Sense Call for the Diaspora) , Agos, 26 Kasim 2004.

    IP leader stands trial for denying ‘genocide’
    The leader of the leftis neo-nationalist Turkish Workers' Party (IP), Dogu Perinçek, will stand trial today in a Swiss court after he called the alleged genocide of Armenians in 1915 an "international lie” during Turkish rallies in the city of Lausanne two years ago.

    The IP is convinced that the decision to come out of the case has much significance for the “Armenian question” -- whether the mass deportation of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans in 1915 constituted genocide. In a statement he made shortly before his departure to Lausanne on Sunday, Perinçek promised to bring back “good news to our nation from Lausanne,” at a press conference at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport.

    "Turkey will win this case," Perinçek said, asserting his belief that Swiss legislators were likely to abolish a law making it a criminal offense to deny Armenian genocide claims.

    Swiss Justice Minister Cristoph Blocher in a recent meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Cemil Çiçek, said the Swiss law, which refers to "grossly minimizing or justifying genocide," should be changed. Perinçek is facing charges under that law.

    "We will explain with documents that no genocide has ever taken place," IP Secretary-General Nusret Senem told Today's Zaman on his way to the airport shortly before taking off for Lausanne. "Our defense statement is based on documented evidence; it explains that Perinçek was defending his country."

    Senem strongly dismissed claims that Perinçek's genocide denial had anything to do with racism. "We uphold values of revolutionary thought. How can we possibly have any racist sentiments?" The IP secretary-general expressed his certainty that they would fly back to Turkey with a legal victory.

    Turkey History Institute head (TTK) Yusuf Halaçoglu, who also faces charges under the same Swiss law, also believes that the trial has international significance. "At least it will show the rest of the world whether it is the Turks or others who are two-faced," he explained to Today's Zaman.

    A law that considers not accepting genocide claims tantamount to racism stands out as odd and hypocritical in a country that claims to have an advanced democracy, Halaçoglu said.

    According to former Ambassador and Foreign Minister Ilter Türkmen, the decision that will emerge from the court process is not likely to have any relevance to the Armenian question for the international community. "It's a law of Switzerland. It is not binding for anyone else."

    Trial stirs up Switzerland
    The trial has also sparked controversy in Switzerland, where Swiss Justice Minister Blocher's reportedly indicated his view that the law Perinçek is being tried under should be changed during a visit to Turkey last weekend. However, a spokesperson from Livio Zanolari later said the trial "was not a subject of discussion" between the two ministers.

    Incidentally, the meeting occurred just a day before Perinçek flew into Switzerland to stand trial. Monday's newspapers in Switzerland criticized the timing of the meeting for being "provocative".
    Turkey fiercely rejects the label to describe the 1915 killing of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. However, the Swiss lower house of parliament recognized the massacre as genocide in December 2003 and the issue has sporadically soured Turkish-Swiss relations.


    History in the making
    SUAT KINIKLIOGLU s.kiniklioglu@todayszaman.com
    These are days when conferences on Turkey are decorated with panels declaring “Who lost Turkey?” or “Are we losing Turkey?” This question, while useful for attracting attention, is far from being the right question. If it must be asked, the answer to this question is “no.” In fact, we are not losing Turkey. On the contrary, we are seeing a profound transformation of Turkey. Yet we often fail to recognize what is at play. In my humble view the primary trends in Turkey can be summarized as follows:

    1. Change of elites. There is a rapid and sweeping change of elites. The old, polished, English-speaking, staunchly pro-western elite is being replaced by a more nationalist, suspicious and less dependent one. Some segments of this elite are more self-confident and are challenging the decades-old dominance of Turkey’s pro-western outlook. This elite is also more cognizant and positive about Turkey’s Ottoman past. In tandem with most of the population -- it is more conservative, devout, or at least more respectful of religion in general. It must be added that this new elite has unprecedented access to capital and lucrative government tenders.

    2. New understanding of foreign policy. Most Turks and a good portion of the foreign and security policy establishment see Turkey’s role in its region evolving. Intellectually inspired by the vision of Ahmet Davutoglu, who advises our prime and foreign ministers, more and more Turks understand that Turkey is no longer a flank country but is situated at the center of a critical region. Combined with Turkey’s increasing economic self-confidence and ease in dealing with these regions, Turkey understands that it has a lot more playground than the EU. Hence, Turkey is reintegrating with its immediate neighborhood, most strikingly evident with Russia, Syria and Iran. What was a long-standing anomaly is now being remedied.

    3. A distinct sense of frustration. If one examines the last 15 years from a Turkish perspective there is not a lot of positive. Gone are the days when Turks were defending the southeastern flank of NATO. Formerly communist/socialist adversaries now arrogantly taunt that Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU. Its immediate neighborhood is on fire with Bosnia/Kosovo, Abkhazia/South Ossetia, Karabakh, Iraq and maybe Iran. Turks have become weary of the EU process. Turcosceptics have successfully exploited the Armenian issue. Greek Cyprus readily plays the role of the spoiler and has not been dealt with appropriately to this day. Turkey’s relationship with the US has also been severely damaged because of the Iraq war and the direct security threats emanating from the PKK presence in Northern Iraq.

    Despite these three major trends there is a positive emerging and that is Turkey is normalizing both domestically and regionally. The decades-old anomaly of Turkey turning its back to the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and the Balkans has come to an end. Turkey is gradually normalizing with these regions, trading with them and deepening its political dialogue. Should current trends continue, Turkey is destined to become a regional hegemon. On the domestic front Turkey is making significant strides to further open and democratize. The two key challenges remain how to deal with religion within a secular democracy as well as how to administer the state’s relationship with Turkish citizens of non-Turkish descent, most notably the Kurds. Both issues are increasingly being deliberated and will eventually be solved.

    What then is at work in Turkey? We are witnessing a momentous shift in the internal balances of the Turkish elite which has direct bearing on the country’s self-identification and its role in its region. Turkey is becoming a different country; a country that acts more independently, is more integrated with its immediate neighborhood and has more areas of strategic maneuverability. The challenge remains to make the mental shift that recognizes this historic change as a constructive and welcome development.

    A slogan that should be heard in Yerevan
    Intellectual circles in Turkey are discussing the Armenian front of 1915 and are openly criticizing the murders of Armenian civilians during their migration.

    Does Armenia or the Armenian diaspora talk about the Turkish front of 1915 at all? Is there any respect for the bitter memory of Muslims murdered by Dasnak and Hinçak groups in Anatolia in 1915 and Armenia in 1917-18? Let's leave history and look into the present: One-fifth of Azerbaijan is under Armenian occupation. Almost 1 million Azeris have been refugees for almost 15 years. How many Armenian intellectuals worry about this? They see Karabakh as a part of Armenian land. Well, did any Armenian intellectual organize any protests, demonstrations or campaigns for the return of the occupied land to Azerbaijan and the end of the suffering of refugees?


    If US genocide bill is delayed to 2008
    The possibility of the US House of Representatives passing the Armenian resolution this year in this current situation is actually not that high.

    There are two expectations in Washington that arise as time passes. The first is that the resolution will be discussed in the House of Representatives and will be delayed until next year. The second possibility is that of making some changes to the resolution and putting in words that will "disturb Turkey less."

    According to US and Turkish diplomats, the first expectation is more possible today than it was a few weeks ago. The Armenian associations that created a lobby in Congress, along with the resolution's sponsors haven't put the issue on the shelf. However, they are signaling that they are on the side of delay, as the year 2008, which is an election year for America, seems more suitable for the resolution's passage, and they are convinced that Ankara's pressure during the elections would not be considered so important.


    Lithuanian MPs face ‘genocide' displeasure
    A parliamentary delegation's visit from European Union member Lithuania to the Turkish Parliament offered an opportunity yesterday to the Turkish side to express their uneasiness over the Lithuanian Parliament's approval of a resolution supporting Armenian genocide allegations at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire in the last century.
    Although the Lithuanian Parliament's resolution dates back to December 2005, the issue has never dropped from Turkey's agenda, particularly taking into consideration the fact that another resolution for official recognition of Armenian allegations was introduced at the US House of Representatives just in January.

    The Lithuanian delegation -- consisting of members of EU and foreign affairs commissions at the Lithuanian Parliament -- held talks with Mehmet Dülger, head of the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission.

    During the meeting Dülger referred to a recent decision by the International Court of Justice in The Hague which ruled that the killings of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 was genocide but determined that Serbia itself was not guilty of the enormous crime and said that what European institutions were doing concerning the labeling of genocide reflected "a double-standard."

    "This ruling narrowed the definition of genocide, while declaring a genocide without a perpetrator," Dülger said.
    Ankara vehemently denies Armenian allegations that some 1.5 million Anatolian Armenians were killed as part of a genocide at hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and calls for an objective scientific study of the issue.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    Turkey sees surge in illegal workers
    Following the murder of Hrant Dink, it was claimed that 40,000 to 70,000 Armenians were working illegally in Turkey.

    4,109 illegal workers from 32 countries were caught and deported within the last four months.

    The Interior Ministry and the Labor and Social Security Ministry launched a comprehensive investigation concerning foreign nationals working illegally in Turkey.

    Turkey's unemployment rate is above 9 percent, and there are approximately 5.4 million unemployed Turkish citizens. The issue of illegal workers has just begun to be tackled after Dink's murder.

    During the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey last November, it was alleged that foreign nationals were taken to Turkey to be illegally employed and that Turkish security authorities were aware of this process. As most of these illegal workers worked as prostitutes, Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Onur Öymen had issued a parliamentary question concerning the allegations to be answered by Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu. In the written answer sent to Öymen, Aksu noted, "Foreign nationals are not illegally employed by security forces or other government bodies."

    274,458 people were deported
    The Interior Ministry found out that 4,109 illegal workers from 32 countries were caught and deported within the last four months. The number of illegal workers who were deported in the last year was 19,754.

    Frequent deportation by the Interior Ministry shows that Turkey is the most popular destination for foreign illegal workers. Overall, 274,459 people were reportedly deported within the last 10 years. Between 1996 and 2006, 33,394 foreign nationals were deported on charges of prostitution while 221,310 people were deported for passport violations. Thus, the number of deported illegal workers amounted to 274,458. Considering this figure relates only to those who were caught and deported, the actual numbers of foreign nationals working illegally in Turkey might be much higher than estimated.

    The legality of employing foreign nationals in Turkey is audited by labor inspectors from the Labor and Social Security Ministry and insurance inspectors from Social Security Authority (SSK) as per the provisions of the Work Permits of Foreign Nationals Law No. 4817.

    According the Labor Ministry data, 4,104 nationals from 32 countries were identified as illegal workers between 2002 and 2006. Within this scope, 10,754 foreign nationals were deported due to illegal employment during the last 10 years.

    They pay fines, continue to work illegally

    Foreign nationals who do not have residence permits in Turkey and those who employ them are issued fines by Labor Ministry inspectors. These foreign nationals can stay in Turkey if they pay these fines and obtain a work permit. The fine levied illegal foreign workers is YTL 1,000.

    As the fine for the employers of illegal foreign workers is YTL 2,500, many tourist establishments prefer to employ foreign workers. These workers, who have come to Turkey with tourist visas and work illegally, are deported irrespective of their nationalities.

    A significant portion of illegal foreign workers in Turkey are prostitutes. Romanian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Georgian and Russian women who entered Turkey following the disintegration of the Soviet Union were later employed illegally by organized crime gangs in Turkey.

    Despite the significant drop in such employment in recent years, Turkey is still a center of attraction for illegal foreign workers. Immigration, wars, economic crises and high unemployment rates in the region are aggravating the problem for Turkey. Former CHP Kocaeli Deputy Bekir Yurdagül even filed a report with the Labor and Social Security Ministry on charges that the US Army employed illegal foreign workers at Incirlik airbase in Adana.
    A report issued by the Istanbul police maintained that the number of Romanian paper collectors was increasing and that they stole traffic panels, power cables, manholes and garbage bins, forcing their children to steal as well.
    The Istanbul police further stated that there was a 2 percent increase in crimes disturbing public order.


    WPost: Does nonbinding Armenian resolution matter?
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    06 March 2007
    A resolution alleging a so-called Armenian genocide expected to face a vote next month in the U.S. House of Representatives has the potential to "explode U.S. relations with Turkey," argued Washington Post columnist Jackson Diehl yesterday.

    Assessing the possible impact of a vote on the nonbinding House resolution describing a "genocide" in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915, the Post columnist asked whether a nonbinding congressional resolution -- one having no legislative effect, unlike measures in some other countries -- really matters.

    "The Armenian genocide resolution sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff does matter, logically or not," Diehl stated, underlining that the consequences of passage could be deadly serious.

    Diehl argued that one of the most important consequences would be a military restriction on the U.S. capacities in the Middle East, stating,"Turkey's powerful military has been hinting that U.S. access to the Incirlik air base, which plays a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could be restricted."

    Telling how Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul spent several days in Washington last month lobbying against the resolution, Diehl stated that Gul faced powerful opposition in "the well-organized and affluent Armenian American community, 1.4 million strong, and some powerful friends -- including the new House speaker, Nancy Pelosi."

    Diehl characterized the debate in Washington on the Armenian resolution as "a bizarre mix of frivolity and moral seriousness, of constituent pandering, far-flung history and front-line foreign policy," stating that there is also the painful struggle of a deeply nationalist society in Turkey to come to terms with its past, and in the process become more of the Western democracy it wants to be.

    Speculating on the odds the resolution will be passed, Diehl stated, "If Pelosi allows the resolution to be brought up, as she has reportedly pledged to do, it will probably pass."

    "Imagine the 435 members of the House, many of whom still don't know the difference between Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis, solemnly weighing whether Schiff's version of events 92 years ago in northeastern Turkey deserves congressional endorsement."

    Diehl cited that Gul warned that a nationalist tidal wave could sweep Turkey and force the government to downgrade its cooperation with the United States, which needs Turkey's help this year to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran.

    Diehl stated, "No wonder the Bush administration as well as even Democratic-leaning foreign policy experts, such as Clinton-era ambassador Mark Parris, are trying to stop the resolution."

    Diehl stated that maybe Congress has no business debating Turkish history, and maybe it is doing so for the wrong reasons.

    "Yet if Turkey is to become the stable, Western-oriented democracy that it aspires to be, its politicians will have to learn, at least, to react the way everyone else does to nonbinding House resolutions: that is, with a shrug," he concluded.

    Patriarch: Dink murder still mystery
    The patriarch of Turkey’s Armenians, Mesrob II, lamented yesterday that the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has not been fully resolved, as mourners gathered at an Istanbul church to commemorate him.

    Mourners laid flowers at Hrant Dink’s grave on the 40th day after his killing.

    Dink, the editor of the bilingual Agos daily, was gunned down on Jan. 19 outside his office in downtown Istanbul. A 17-year-old suspect, O.S., was arrested after the murder and confessed to the killing. Although the unemployed, secondary school graduate O.S. was quickly captured along with several others believed to be involved in the killing, public suspicions remained regarding the real motives behind the murder that shocked Turkey and talk of a shadowy “deep state” as a potential accomplice in the killing has resurfaced.

    Mesrob II, speaking at a ceremony to commemorate Dink on the 40th day of his death, said shedding full light on the murder would strengthen the environment of peace in Turkey.

    “It is extremely saddening and thought-provoking that the real inciters of this assassination have not been found over the past 40 days,” he said at the ceremony at Santa Maria Armenian church in Kumkapi, Istanbul. “Prompt clarification of this murder is essential for the atmosphere of peace as well as confidence in security institutions.”

    “This investigation is not going well,” said journalist Cengiz Çandar, who was one of the mourners attending the ceremony. “It seems the authorities will not pursue this determinedly due to the approaching elections but this means we are heading to a point that poses dangers for Turkey’s international image and internal peace.”
    Dink’s widow Rakel, his daughters, novelist Elif Safak, Sisli Mayor Mustafa Sarigül and journalists Ali Bayramoglu, Ayse Ünal and Oral Çalislar, all attended yesterday’s ceremony. The tradition commemorating the dead on the 40th day of their death is shared by Muslim Turks as well.

    Today’s Zaman Istanbul

    Imagine . . .
    Is Turkey about to get its second Nobel Prize winner? There was a very earnest recommendation made at a formal evening I attended in London this week hosted at the headquarters of Amnesty International UK but sponsored by many of the country’s other human rights organizations, including Index on Censorship, Open Democracy and English Pen. “A Turkish patriot” is how one speaker described the hoped for recipient. “A Martin Luther King,” said another. “A symbol that there is a way out of the current impasse,” said a third. The award would have to be made posthumously since Hrant Dink is dead.

    The gathering I attended was a tribute to the murdered journalist at the end of what is, by Armenian custom, a period of mourning. That same custom holds that the soul of the deceased lingers for 40 days on earth and that it is incumbent on friends and family to wish it Godspeed as it finally departs. Of course Hrant Dink was a determined iconoclast, and I have a feeling that his spirit will hover far longer than the statutory 40 days.

    Interesting about Wednesday night’s tribute was not just how many people managed to brave a blustery wet London night to attend (there were similar events in Istanbul and cities throughout the world) but the spirit in which it was conducted. I had been warned by a colleague that there was a feud going on over who “owned” Hrant Dink’s memory -- the assumption being that there would be an effort to appropriate the grief and outrage over his death to push for different political agenda including that of genocide recognition. However, there was no unseemly squabbling over his memory. Ronald Suny, an extraordinarily well-respected American political scientist of Armenian ancestry, made a point of stressing how Hrant’s greatest ambition was to see Turkey as a modern, fully democratic country and how this had often brought him into conflict with those in the diaspora motivated by the need if not for revenge then at least satisfaction.

    The mood of the evening was that if Hrant Dink’s life symbolized anything, it was that there had to be a reconciliation between Turk and Armenian other than through silence and between Turkey and Armenia.

    This is how I interpreted, at any rate, the tens of thousands who marched in his funeral cortege saying that “we are Armenians,” “we are all Hrants.” This is not everyone’s stated view. I read recently of an accusation (Feb. 26) by the head of the Turkish Historical Society, Yusuf Halaçoglu that large segments of the crowds were organized subversives. They would not succeed in their aims, he said, because the march had the reverse effect of what they intended. Public opinion has hardened against them and “it is impossible to make anyone accept the genocide.” It is odd in the extreme that a gathering organized by civil libertarians in London avoided turning Hrant Dink’s death into a parody of the genocide issue where the head of an august body like the Turkish Historical Society failed. I am shocked that a man of Professor Halaçoglu’s education could be so insensitive. No doubt in the unlikelihood of Hrant Dink being given a Nobel Peace Prize, this too would be interpreted as an attempt by Scandinavian subversives to divide Turkey.

    My own reading of these remarks, of those of some editors-in-chief of newspapers, of some hard-line nationalist politicians and even ministers, is that they are afraid. Just as others fear a wave of ultranationalism in Turkey, others fear that some people in society have slipped under the ropes used to corral them in. They fear they might lose the power of control.

    I don’t want to exaggerate. What happened in 1915 is still a highly emotive issue in Turkey. But just for a moment, imagine a world in which Turkey, upon being told that the US Congress (or the Icelandic Althingi or the Japanese Diet), was thinking about recognizing a genocide did not

    1) spend millions on expensive lobbyists;
    2) boycott McDonald’s except on grounds other than health;
    3) otherwise threaten to hold its breath until turning blue.

    Instead as a nation Turkey would shrug its shoulders, raise its eyebrows in exasperated fashion and say ,”Oh yes, once upon a time we used to think it was important to have an official history, to tell people what to think, but that was before we decided it was much less trouble to let them do so for themselves.”


    A Bird's Eye View

    In the aftermath of Dink's death:
    When Hrant Dink was assassinated, all the mass media of this country condemned and lamented his tragic end.
    When his funeral took place, 200,000 Turkish humans impressed the world by following his coffin with signs on which were written, "We are all Armenians.” "We are all Hrant Dink." Humanity was impressed by this genuine display of solidarity and sympathy towards the fallen publisher.

    And now what happens? Perversion is starting to prevail. Some of you humans in this country are doing everything possible so that the soul of Hrant Dink may not rest in peace. Some few, fortunately, humans in this country have such a perverted imagination that it could lead this country into serious trouble.

    We say all this because a complaint was filed by a human journalist working for a local Sinop newspaper against the slogans chanted at the funeral. The journalist, in his criminal complaint, argued that the slogans were racist and some insulted laws. A placard that said, "Hrant's murderer is Article 301" was a clear insult against the Turkish Penal Code. The Sisli prosecutor's office has initiated an enquiry to these slogans and filed an application to the Interior Ministry to open a criminal investigation into the conduct of the Sisli mayor and the organizing committee of the funeral.

    This act by itself is incredible since it attempts to dissolve the display of solidarity that we all saw at the funeral. So what would the next step be? To arrest maybe the 200,000 humans who attended the funeral. Or to arrest and close down the newspapers that also carried such slogans? Yes, would say the few paranoid humans of this country. Well everything now is in the hands of the Ministry of Interior of this country, to accept or to reject the application of the Sisli Prosecutor's office. If it accepts then much harm and ridicule will reach this country, tensions will increase within the human population and the international mass media will have a field day against Turkey. We do not want anymore to see jibes against the country in which we are living, like the one mentioned in the Economist of Feb. 17 which we quote: "In a hopeful sign, Mr. Gül has complained that ‘people outside Turkey think you can be thrown into jail for opening your mouth.' Worse, as Mr. Dink tragically discovered, you can be killed." So you can imagine what we will rightly see or hear if the Ministry of Interior wrongly accepts the application. On the contrary, if the application is rejected, nothing will happen to the detriment of this country.

    Humans of Turkey, spare the courts from unnecessary work. You all know that the judicial system of this country is not functioning because of work overload. Go to court and your case will be postponed for the next five or six years. Why? Because everyone in this country is going to court on the smallest pretext.

    So let us reject these shameful acts and we hope and urge the Ministry of Interior to reject the application of the Prosecutor. By rejecting the application, the memory of Hrant Dink will be respected and the emotional last farewell given to him by the humans of Istanbul will never be forgotten. It will finally permit the soul of Hrant Dink to rest in peace. It is the least that can be done.

    Ponder our thoughts, dear humans, for your benefit.

    March 3, 2007
    Advena Avis

    24 Titles in One Post

    Hrant Dink stamp issued in France

    Turkish deputies lobby with 'Pink Book' in US
    March 2, 2007
    ANKARA Turkish Daily News

    Turkish Parliamenterians will lobby the U.S. House of Reperesentatives and Senates' members against a genocide resolution which was introduced in January, by sending a “Pink Book”. The Pink Book includes detailed information and documents concerning the genocide allegation. After sending the books to U.S. senators, members of Parliament Aziz Akgül and Egemen Bagis will contact the leaders of Muslim and Jewish communities in the United States to start a campaign preventing the bill based on Armenian's claims of genocide from being adopted.

    Akgül and Bagis announced yesterday in Parliament that for the purpose of presenting the right information they had prepared a booklet. Akgül said that the booklet included information, documents and proof provided by the Turkish History Association. Akgül also added, “We are stating with documents that the claimed genocide never happened.” Also he stated that he was in Brussels and Paris two weeks ago with the U.S. House of Representatives but his colleagues didn't have enough information about this case, so a huge “information campaign” can be seen.

    Dual Citizenship In Armenia
    Omer Engin Lutem
    02 March 2007
    According to official statistics a maximum of 3.1 million people reside in Armenia, however, it has been surmised that this figure is essentially around 2.5 million. Apart from this, it is maintained that those of Armenian descent residing in other countries equates to approximately 5 million people.

    In the wake of the Republic of Armenia becoming an independent state the issue of dual citizenship has been subject to heated debate which revolves around the fact that the number of Armenians residing outside of Armenian borders is far greater than the number residing within the country.

    Those in favor of dual citizenship are lead by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (the Dashnaktsutiun) Party. The Dashnaks who had de facto control over the governments of the first Armenian Republic throughout 1918-1920, later lead to the subversion of the Republic as a result of their hard-line policies. When Armenia re-established its independence in 1991 the Dashnaktsutiun Party became active again but due to its past failures it received a lukewarm reception and attained only %10 of the votes. However, the Party was closed in 1994 as a result of having opposed the government in power through illegal means.

    Despite the standing of the Dashnaks within Armenia, they became the main political force behind the diaspora Armenians and have supported granting citizenship to the diaspora Armenians all along. The reason behind this has been the anticipation that the votes to be cast by those of which are to settle in Armenia would bolster the Dashnaks strength in the political sphere and that this would enable their fanatical nationalism to take root in Armenia.

    The Ter Petrosian administration, which dissolved the Dashnaktsutiun Party, inserted an article in the Armenian Constitution which entered into force in 1995 precluding dual citizenship. Three years later, when Ter Petrosian stepped down due to the Karabagh conflict, Robert Kocharian who was elected in his place as President of the Republic, expressed how he favored the granting of dual citizenship to the Armenian diaspora. Fearful that they might gain political clout and rise to prominence within the Republic, Armenian politicians resisted this for a very long time. It was only in the year 2005 that the constitutional article under question could be amended. The law enacted in this regard was also delayed. The majority of Armenian parliamentarians strived to restrict the voting rights of the Armenian diaspora who were to be granted citizenship. However, as a result of Kocharian’s intermeddling, a law was adopted on the 27th of February bestowing the Armenians to be granted citizenship with full rights apart from the right to be elected as President or Speaker of the House.

    The fact that the 131 seat Armenian parliament could only produce 66 votes in favor of the above mentioned law and the fact that there were only 5 votes against it provides an accurate picture of the opposition present in the Armenian Parliament. Furthermore, the absence of almost half of the parliamentarians further portrays the degree of opposition present.

    While dual citizenship is now possible, keeping Armenia’s economic situation in view, it is unlikely that many diaspora Armenians will apply to exercise this right. At this point the per capita income of Armenia is at 1,500 dollars. In contrast, Armenians living in foreign nations, foremost the United States, earn at least 1,500 dollars per month. According to this, the option of dual citizenship is more likely to be used by ultra nationalistic persons who have a Dashnak ideology and agenda. Whilst their numbers are few today it should be expected that they will become active in political circles in the future. Also it is possible that those Armenians that reside in poorer nations such as Iran and Syria may also want to become Armenian citizens. However this possibility is highly dependent on the state of the Armenian economy.

    In sum, it is to be expected that the dual citizenship law newly adopted in Armenia, shall lead to a slight rise in the population of Armenia and shall further lead to the spread of fanatical nationalism.

    In the final count, it should be noted that certain countries do not accept dual citizenship, while in others this is subject to certain conditions. According to the Turkish Law of Citizenship the adoption of another countries’ citizenship is contingent upon special permission and that in the absence of this permission, Turkish citizenship could be lost. hr>

    Ankara blasts French, Greek Cypriot military pact
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    02 March 2007
    Turkey yesterday condemned a bilateral military agreement between France and the Greek Cypriots, underlining that Greek Cyprus has no right to sign such a pact.

    The statement of the Turkish Foreign Ministry came after France and the Greek Cypriots signed an agreement in Paris that envisages Greek Cypriot cooperation with France on some military issues, in addition to military and defense cooperation.

    French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas on Wednesday signed the agreement, which gives France the right to use Andreas Papandreou Airport in Baf and the Zigi (Terazi) Naval Base, according the Greek Cypriot press.

    "The agreement between France and the Greek Cypriots is ominous," said the statement. "The sensitive stability and balance on Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean Sea is made certain with the rights of the guarantor states."

    The statement underlined that after a similar agreement effort last June, Turkey warned France that such agreements posing a threat to the stability of the eastern Mediterranean would also harm efforts to reach a permanent solution to the Cyprus problem under UN auspices.

    Underlining that the agreement at issue violates the 1960 agreements on Cyprus, the statement stressed, "France's step to sign a military agreement with the Greek Cypriots is an ominous event."

    "The agreement does not have validity for Turkey or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)," it said. "With its activities and manner in recent days, the Greek Cypriot administration continues to be a source of instability in the region, gradually enlarging the Cyprus issue in the eastern Mediterranean." The statement warned the agreement would seriously harm efforts to bring a comprehensive and permanent solution to the Cyprus problem.

    The French Defense Ministry confirmed that a military agreement with Greek Cyprus was signed in Paris during a visit by the Greek Cypriot foreign minister, but did not provide further details. The French Foreign Ministry said the accord was "standard" between two EU members and that it involved military training and information- and knowledge-sharing.

    Cyprus is divided between an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot administration in the south and the TRNC in the north. The Greek Cypriot administration joined the European Union in May 2004 with a claim to represent the whole island, although the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the UN-sponsored Annan plan in April 2004, which was the last major effort for the unification of the island.

    Turkish Cypriots, in a separate referendum, voted in favor of the plan but they remain under international isolation.

    This has also been a period of heightened tension in Turkish-French relations. France's parliament voted last October to approve a bill that would criminalize denying that the mass killings of Armenians by Turks at the beginning of the 20th century was genocide, prompting Turkish trade organizations to call for a boycott of French companies and the Turkish military to say it would break off all contacts with its French counterparts.

    International Conference On Khojaly Genocide Ends In The Hague
    01 March 2007
    Turkish Weekly
    International conference held on the 15th anniversary of Khojaly (Hocali) genocide in The Hague ended, APA reports. Turkish and Azerbaijani politicians, MPs, researches and scientists attended the conference organized by Igdir municipality. Head of Igdir municipality Nureddin Aras said that The Hague was not randomly selected for the conference.

    “All just courts of the world are in the Hague. Holding this conference in The Hague is of special importance. Armenians committed genocide against Turks in Khojaly 15 years ago, but the world community continues to ignore this savagery. It is high time that we should publicize Armenians’ savagery and Armenians should be condemned. We are even late. Keeping silence with regard to the genocide committed by Armenians can mean that we accept Armenian genocide allegations. We should do our best to publicize Khojaly genocide - the last ring of the genocides committed by Armenians. This is our responsibility before the history and our nation. Armenians committed savagery against Turks in Anadolu and most places of Azerbaijan, as well as in Igdir in 1918-1920. Soviet troops emptied 80 Azerbaijan’s villages in 1992. Khojaly genocide was the last ring of armenization of Karabakh,” he said.

    Azerbaijani parliamentarian Ganira Pashayeva, Elman Mammadov and others said that Armenia occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s lands and put forward Armenian genocide allegations against Turkey. They stressed the importance of Turks’ uniting against this problem.

    After the opening ceremony Professor Anvar Konukchu held a conference. Bilal Shimshir, former Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador, the author of over 20 books about Armenian terrorism, as well as the author of the book “Our martyr diplomats” made a speech on the theme “Azerbaijan’s regaining independence and Armenians”, Resigned Army General Nejati Ozgen on the theme “Armenians’ foreign policy, Karabakh’s occupation and Khojali genocide”, professor Osman Metin Ozturk on the theme “Ideal of Great Armenia and Khojali genocide”, Safa Yoruel on the theme “Strategy to pay attention to in Karabakh genocide”.

    The participants of the conference made speeches on different themes on Khojaly genocide.
    Over 500 representatives participated in the conference and the event ended with performance of anthems of Azerbaijan and Turkey.

    Azerbaijan Backs Turkey's Position In Armenian Issue
    01 March 2007
    Turkish Weekly
    Azeri-Americans joined Turkey’s efforts in opposing the adoption of the Armenian allegations resolution by the U.S. Congress. Asked, “how the Azeri Diaspora of the U.S.A. can assist in opposing the adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution by the U.S. Congress”, President of Azerbaijan Society of America Tomris Azeri said that the Armenian Diaspora in the United States is well organized. “They have a firm agenda and everyone in their Diaspora community believes and follows this agenda.

    The Armenian Diaspora communities and businesses see it as their duty and obligation to finance and support their organizations. The Armenian experts says the 'genocide claims' is the only thing cementing the Armenians in the Diaspora. Armenian lobbying groups argue that the 1915 events was genocide while Turkey claims the reverse. According to the Turkish Archive Documents, more than 520.000 Turkish people were massacred by the armed Armenians during the First World War. There is no court verdict on the issue. Turkey has called Yerevan to go to the international courts yet Arsmenia rejects all the calls from Turkey and other countries.

    Genocide In The Eye Of The Beholder
    Hikmet Bila

    01 March 2007
    Turkish Press
    It is very upsetting to see that in hundreds of years nothing has changed. Especially after World War II, efforts to protect human rights on an international basis led to high hopes. Crimes against humanity were condemned, and heavy punishments were foreseen for violators. But soon we could see that this was only political trickery, a strategic ruse. A serious crime against humanity like genocide has also become a tool to advance political and strategic interests.

    Genocide is still in the eye of the beholder, as is crime and punishment.

    Twelve years ago, a grave crime against humanity was committed in Bosnia. Thousands of Bosnians were slaughtered by Serbians. Thousands of women were raped. Countless old people and children were killed by snipers. And all of Europe sat and watched this tragedy unfold.

    One incident was particularly unbelievable. Srebrenica was declared a ‘safe area’ by the United Nations, and thousands of Bosnians took shelter by laying down their arms. This ‘safe area’ was to be protected by Dutch UN troops. But Serbian troops besieged the area and asked the Dutch troops to hand over the Bosnian civilians to them. And the Dutch troops did so. The Serbians slaughtered 8,000 civilians, and the Dutch soldiers did nothing but watch this massacre. Then they did toasts with these Serbian butchers. Moreover, recently, these Dutch soldiers were decorated with state medals in the Netherlands.

    This week the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the killing of 8,000 Bosnians in Srebrenica was a ‘genocide,’ but that Serbia was not guilty of this crime. For this reason, Serbia isn’t obligated to pay compensation to Bosnians!

    On the one side, calling events which happened more than 90 years ago during Ottoman rule a ‘genocide’ and charging the Republic of Turkey with responsibility for these events, which have no relation to them ... On the other side, clearing people responsible for the Srebrenica genocide where the graves are still fresh. Here is the situation of the concept of human rights from the view of the court …

    This week, victims of another massacre were being commemorated on its 15th anniversary. On Feb. 25, 1992 Armenians killed some 1,000 of civilians in the village of Hocali, in Karabagh. Two hundred of them were women and children. In addition to this mass killing, countless Azerbeijanis were slaughtered in a number of villages. About 2 million Azerbeijanis were exiled from their homes and became immigrants in other regions of Azerbaijan, and they still are. They’re trying to survive under very harsh conditions.

    The world is blind to them. Europe is deaf to them.

    As I said previously, genocide still lies in the eye of the beholder, along with massacres, crimes and punishments. Under certain political and strategic calculations, a genocide can be cleared, while others may not be even seen. Is this the modern world?

    The Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars Railway Line: Cement For A Strategic Alliance?
    Lili Di Puppo
    01 March 2007
    The signing of an agreement to start construction work on the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway line linking Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey took place on 7 February in Tbilisi. The occasion brought together Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Azeri President Ilham Aliev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. During the ceremony, the three leaders signed a declaration on a “Common vision for regional cooperation.” Despite the geopolitical dimension of the railway project, some observers question the real long-term benefits Georgia might reap from the rail link.

    The construction of the new railway line is an additional step designed to cement the strategic alliance between the three countries after the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline in July 2006 and the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) gas pipeline. The potential of these projects to link Europe and Asia transcends the immediate benefit of regional integration. Kazakhstan has already expressed interest in joining the three projects and Astana’s participation would thus open a door to China.

    But the similarities between these projects stop here. In comparison with the other energy links, the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars project has received much less support from Western players in the region. The United States and the European Union are uneasy about Armenia’s de facto isolation. As a result of the Armenian lobby, the U.S. Congress passed a bill which prevents US companies from financing the construction of the railroad.

    Economic costs

    Armenia opposes the construction of the railway line by pointing to the already existing Kars-Gyumri (Armenia) –Tbilisi rail link, which ceased to operate in 1993 following the closure of the Turkish-Armenian border. Although Armenia argues that the railroad could be easily refurbished, Azerbaijan has stated that before it will use the railway, Armenia must first end the “illegal occupation of Azeri territories.”

    The three countries will eventually finance the railroad without external support. On 13 January, Baku and Tbilisi agreed that Azerbaijan would provide a 220 million dollar loan to Georgia, repayable over 25 years with an annual interest rate of 1%. Georgia will use transit revenues from the operation of the railway line to repay the loan.

    The overall cost of the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars project is estimated at USD 400 million. The section between Baku and Tbilisi already exists, but Georgia will build a new 29 kilometre line between the Turkish border and the town of Akhalkalaki in the Javaketi region. Turkey, for its part, will build a 76-kilometer line from Kars to the Georgian border. The Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi railway section will also be restored.

    Not everyone is convinced of the project’s economic benefits. Archil Gegeshidze, a foreign policy expert at the Georgian Strategic Institute for International Studies (GFSIS) remarks that “it will be difficult in the first year to find cargo commodities for the new railway corridor.”

    5 million tonnes of goods will be transported on the railway in the initial stages of its operation, while the capacity of the railroad is planned to reach 15 to 20 million tonnes in the future. However, Mr. Gegeshidze says that these figures represent the current approximate volume of goods being transported through Georgia. Therefore, one may ask from where the additional goods will come.

    As in the case of the BTC oil pipeline, the project’s costs have moved some observers to argue that political considerations actually outweigh economics. A debate has started in Georgia on the railway line’s profitability for the country.

    Railway against ports?

    Tbilisi is certainly pursuing its own political agenda with the construction of the railway line. The Georgian government hopes to boost economic development in the Javaketi region, where the economic situation has deteriorated since the closure of a Russian military base. The aim is also to promote the integration of the region, populated by an Armenian majority, with the rest of Georgia.

    Furthermore, Georgia is interested in cementing a strategic alliance with Turkey and Azerbaijan, with the goal of reducing Georgia’s energy dependency on Russia. Turkey announced on 7 February that it wants to allocate part of its gas share from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to Georgia. Negotiations are underway.

    In reaction to the Russo-Georgian energy row, Azerbaijan supplied Georgia with gas in January 2006. As a sign of the importance the current government assigns to the strategic partnership with Azerbaijan, the Georgian government renamed a section of the Mtkvari River’s embankment in Tbilisi after former Azeri President Heydar Aliev, Ilham Aliev’s father.

    Energy deals between the three countries have prompted opposition leader Salome Zurabishvili to ask in January 2007 whether the railway agreement is part of a compromise in exchange for receiving gas from the Shah Deniz field. She has underlined that Georgia risks jeopardizing the earning potential of its ports in this transaction.

    As an argument against the profitability of the railway for Georgia, some observers say that it may undermine the potential of the Georgian Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti as major transport gateways to Central Europe.

    The Georgian ports, which are currently under renovation, and their future liaison with Black Sea East European ports, certainly represent serious competition for Turkey in the long term. Despite the two countries’ apparent shared interests, Turkish and Georgian ports may well compete in the future as gateways to Europe.

    Furthermore, the European Union (EU) itself is more in favour of using Georgia and its ports as a transit link towards the Balkans and Central Europe, especially in light of Bulgaria and Romania’s new EU memberships. The original idea of the EU-funded Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia (TRACECA) was to link Central Asia with Europe via the Black Sea and the Balkans rather than via Turkey. The EU has refused to include the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railway project in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plans with Azerbaijan and Georgia despite demands by Baku and Tbilisi. The Poti port, however, has received financial assistance for its renovation under the TRACECA framework.

    The major problem is the lack of a governmental long-term strategy on how to exploit Georgia’s potential as a transit country. As Mr. Gegeshidze remarks, “Georgia should have a sophisticated view of its transit policy. There should be one government oversight body to examine these issues as a whole and to prevent the promotion of a railway system while neglecting the impact of the railway on the country’s ports. The government should develop a sound transit policy with the aim of fully exploiting Georgia’s geographic location.”

    The rapid pace of privatization in the country has led some to fear that the government may sell some of Georgia’s most valuable and strategic assets.

    In light of the vote of the U.S. Congress, American investment in the Georgian railway sector is unlikely. The privatization of the railway system may well interest Kazakh companies or even Russian investors which, as some believe, would eventually further Russia’s aim of controlling transport routes in the region.

    Nagorno - Karabakh Problem: Claims, Counterclaims And Impasse
    Guner Ozkan
    28 February 2007
    Journal of Turkish Weekly


    Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) problem, inherited from the SU, has caused huge political, economic and social devastations to both independent Azerbaijan and Armenia since 1991. Though the dispute over the ownership of the NK region became known with a long bloody war between Azerbaijan and Armenia at the end of the 1980s, the problem itself goes as far back as in the 19th century and closely linked to many other territorial issues in the Caucasus region. One of the purposes of the Soviet Nationalities policies, alongside creating a homogenous Soviet socialist society, was to end nationalistic antagonisms and border disputes among the nationals of the USSR. Let alone eradicating those ethnic lines, Soviet System with its nationalities and modernization policies became main sources of conflicts in the Union in the long term. The NK issue represented one of the stark examples of it. As one would expect, when Gorbachev initiated glasnost and perestroika policies to save the crumbling Soviet state, they became main catalysts to rekindle the NK issue. Finally, because of Gorbachev’s and overall Soviet systems’ inability and unwillingness to apply the Constitution, the NK region was separated from Azerbaijan and de facto joined to Armenia by force. The reason for inception of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia at the end of the 1980s was the Armenian claims that Azerbaijan had for decades left the Armenians in Azerbaijan including within the NK region deliberately underdeveloped in their economic, social and cultural progressions. This would then have caused, from the Armenian point of view, the disappearance of Armenian people from their own lands. However, these Armenian views on the NK region show a number of discrepancies when real reasons and scales of territorial, economic and demographic changes in the region are considered.

    Originally published in Journal of Central Asian & Caucasian Studies (USAK Publication), No. 1, Vol. 1, 2006, pp. 118-137.


    The break up of the Soviet Union has stimulated a large number of concern over national identities, state borders and then political and economic stability within almost any newly independent states of the former Soviet territories. Most cases have shown that those concerns have resulted in intra-communal violence and inter-state military conflicts. Azerbaijan is one of those states, which has experienced the same problems caused by the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) dispute with the weakening and later the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    As known from the examples of the dissolution of the empires in the past, emergence of new independent states often led to the rise of old, forgotten or suppressed political, economic, cultural and territorial claims among intra-state communities and inter-state relations.[1] The NK region, an Armenian populated enclave within the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, has remained a basic reason for an intra-state communal dispute during the late Soviet period and an inter-state regional conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia since they have both gained their independence in 1991. More than this, the dispute has not only been a problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, it has also turned into a means to influence newly emerged geopolitical region of the Southern Caucasus. This new region is not an isolated territory, but it has strong links, such as ethnic, cultural, religious similarities and geographic proximity, with the other surrounding regions of the Northern Caucasus, the Russian Federation, the Caspian Basin and Central Asia, Middle East and Turkey

    The basic argument between these two communities in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijanis and Armenians, is about who is going to control the Armenian populated NK autonomous region. Both communities and states claim that this land is their own historical patrimony, and should be in their state borders. Azerbaijan and Armenia, as the two former Soviet Republics (the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic - AzSSR and the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic - ArSSR), fought over the NK region from 1987 to 1994 in the forms of first communal clashes and then full scale of war. Despite the fact that both states agreed on a cease-fire on the conflict in May 1994, the outcomes of the war such as political turmoil, territorial losses and mass displacements, have continued to be the most important negative psychological and material results for Azerbaijan for more than a decade. As a result of the war over the NK region with Armenia, Azerbaijan has lost the entire NK region and 7 more surrounding districts of Lachin, Kelbajar, Agdam, Gabrail, Fizuli, Khubadly and Zangilan to Armenia. All these occupations of the Azerbaijani territories have created about a million displaced Azerbaijanis who have been living in miserable conditions in Azerbaijan since the early 1990s. Armenia, though not the same scale, has had to accept displaced Armenians left Azerbaijan during the course of the conflict. The NK dispute has been tried to be resolved through a number of organizational (Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe - OSCE) and state level initiatives (e.g. American and French governments). Yet, despite a number of initiatives, conferences and high-level meetings, resolution of the NK dispute has stalled particularly on what the final status of the region would be. As the sides could not agree on the status issue, the other problems, such as the return of the displaced people and withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories, have remained uncertain.

    The NK dispute as the subject matter of this study obviously represents a number of internal, regional and international dimensions in strategic, economic and societal terms. There is no doubt that role of the Minsk Group of the OSCE, Russian, Turkish and American policies in the region and the energy pipelines from Caspian Region via the South Caucasus region are of great relevance to development course of the NK dispute since early 1990s. As this study aims at delving into the NK problem within the frameworks of the claims and counterclaims of Azerbaijani and Armenian sides on the issue, examination of the rest of the aspects of the dispute, mentioned above, is obviously impossible within the limited boundaries of this work. The reason for limiting the NK issue within such a narrow discussion is because, although many have been concentrated on the conditions of peace and talked about various aspects of the resolution of the problem, they have often missed, and even forgotten, the ultimate point of how and why this conflict occurred. Hence, the key objective of this research is both to shed new lights on the subject and to remind the people who are either policy makers or researchers on the NK issue of the past claims of Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region. In parallel to the objective of this study, the research is divided into two main parts. The first part deals with the relevance of the Soviet nationality policy and Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost and perestroika within two sub-sections to the development course of the NK problem. In the second part, which is split into 3 sub-sections, respectively examines Azerbaijani and Armenian parties’ own views on the territorial division of NK, the economic deprivation and demographic changes on the Armenian people of the region within Azerbaijan.

    1. Key Determinant Factors of the NK Conflict

    1.1. Soviet Nationality Policy and its Failure

    The NK problem was not a new issue for the Soviet Union when it was in the process of establishment in the 1920s. The problem was taken over from the previous ruler, the tsarist Russia, of the entire South Caucasus region. In fact, the Soviet Union was built almost on the territories of the tsarist Russian Empire, which had been described as “the prisonhouse of nations.”[2] As the Soviet Union was the ultimate responsible side for the creation of the NK region and, to a great extent, the formation of national identities in the post-Russian Empire territories in the South Caucasus, this part of the study aims only to overview Soviet nationalities policy and its outcomes.

    Marxist-Leninist ideology believed that the true internationalism of socialism would eliminate the national antagonisms that had plagued different peoples in the past. Lenin himself proposed a post-revolutionary compromise based on the maximization of the national, political and cultural autonomy for the nationalities. This was assumed to be a federation dominated by the Communist Parties. The logic of the Soviet Union, for Lenin, should have been based on a federation formed by a voluntary association of the sovereign states on a contractual basis for the achievement of a common purpose.[3] In line with this thinking, ethnic nationalities of the former tsarist Empire were subjected to three interrelated political and administrative policy applications by the Bolsheviks on 30 December 1922, at the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and in April 1923, at the Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party: first, the establishment of separate ethno-territorial republics to be based on ethnic unity within a Soviet state such as Ukraine, Belarus, Transcaucasus in Southern Caucasus, and various autonomous regions inside these republics; second, the creation of Communist Party for each republics so as to back up the national-territorial principle; third, the application of korenizatsiia (nativization or indigenization) program. The main purpose of korenizatsiia policy was cultural and language development of the nations, and the recruitment of non-Russian cadres into the working class, the trade unions, the state bureaucracy and the Communist Parties.[4]

    The establishment of the USSR seemed to have been, as Pipes put it, “a compromise between doctrine and reality: an attempt to reconcile the Bolsheviks strivings for absolute unity and centralisation of all power in the hands of the party, with the recognition of the empirical fact that nationalism did survive the collapse of the old order.”[5] Even though in theory the Soviet Federation was based on the perception of a shared sovereignty, in practice, however, the centre usurped most of the power and exercised a strict control over the republics. National aspirations were subordinated to the imperatives of socialist construction. The slogan of self-determination remained as a political tool during the period of revolution to get support from the suppressed nationalities of the previous tsarist Empire. In fact, the basic goal of the Soviet nationalities policy was not different from any other similar multiethnic states. The Soviet State first tried to secure its territorial integrity and internal stability by suppressing various nationalities and, especially separatist movements. Second, it saw the process of modernisation in the imposition of a standardised, uniform, centrally sustained culture on all minority groups. Hence the focal point of Soviet nationality policy was to realise the mobilisation of ethnic groups and/or nations to achieve Soviet- type of modernisation, while preserving internal stability in a multinational state harbouring profound ethnic divisions and hostilities.[6]

    Although each nationality maintained its own republic and autonomous district having their own national language, culture and cadres in the local administrations due to the policy of nativization during the 1920s, Stalinist revolution in the 1930s did not reconcile itself to the notion of federalism of Lenin, and left little political autonomy to the peripheries. The consolidation of Bolshevik rule over Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia during the period of 1920-21 in the South Caucasus region, already intensified the debate over the structure of the state. The establishment of the Transcaucasian Federation was because of the economic reasons and border disputes among those three republics. Soviet Federal system allowed the central government in Moscow to use the authority over the formation of new subordinate units, internal boundaries, international relations, state security, education and so on. What left for the republics were their own constitution, communist party organisations, flags, legal codes and power over light industry.[7] As a result of Stalinist ‘autonomisation’ policy, state sovereignties from the independent socialist republics were withdrawn and given only limited autonomous status. In accordance with Stalinist policies, Russian workers and specialists were encouraged to migrate to the less developed regions so as to improve the economy and to educate indigenous peoples because minority nationalism was considered as a threat to the collectivization policy.[8] In the long term, however, spreading urbanisation, industrialisation and education caused the strengthening of the national identities. The increase of the educational opportunities in the less developed republics led to the emergence of a substantial native intelligentsia, and they saw little reason for responsible positions in their locality to be filled by outsiders. Emerging local political elites started to question their limited control over local appointment and investment decisions. During the Stalinist period, the Soviet state became much more centralised and ruled by force with a unitary ideology. Stalinist nationality and territorial solutions in the system had, therefore, presented a dilemma in the Soviet system that was far from providing a peaceful solution to the nationalities question.

    As a result of less control from the centre, during the Khrushchev era, limited political autonomy resulted in the strengthening of local elites. Even in the South Caucasus region and Central Asia, local ethnic mafias gained control of the economy and political patronage system. The main purpose behind the appointment of Aliyev, Shevardnadze and Demirciyan in Azerbaijani, Georgian and Armenian Soviet Republics, respectively, to the posts of Communist Party First Secretaries were to contain nationalism as well as ending the corruption and favouritism.[9] Yet, the central and local contradictory developments in the Soviet Union (for instance linguistic Russification and assimilation all over the Union) gave rise to a variety of nationalist responses in the 1960s and 70s. Demonstrations of the Crimean Tatars who had been deported by Stalin, Karabakh Armenians’ protest being within the AzSSR and Georgian opposition to the removal of Georgian as official language in 1978 can be given as examples of the assertions of the nationalities problems. The Soviet leadership, at the end of the 1980s, would finally admit the fact that they had underestimated the forces of nationalism and separatism which had remained hidden deep within the Soviet system.[10]

    As a result, the Soviet Union was in many ways similar to any other empires in a way that it attempted to realise modernisation through economic development program that included communication and interaction, repression and reproduction of cultural practices. All of these then made nationality in the Union much more lucid and nationalism the strongest manifestation of rejected aspirations.[11] It is true that on the one hand Soviet state did not much to meet the ambitions of established nations, but on the other it made it possible the formation and creation of some nations who represented previously just a clan identity.[12] It was the Soviet rule of encouraging cultural development, introducing mass education and establishing of local native governments and legislative systems that had helped first the formation and then the strengthening Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian national identities in the South Caucasus region. In other words, the objective of creating a ‘Soviet man’ through the Soviet socialist economic and social development policies led to the emergence and growth of Armenian and Azerbaijani national consciousness and nationalism. As Moscow often used the Soviet federal system for its political benefits, it then made it possible a constant animosity between minorities and dominant nationals. Conflict over the Armenian enclave of the N.K region within the AzSSR between Azerbaijanis and Armenians is one of those examples that it has remained one of the most important elements for the growth of both Azerbaijani and Armenian nationalism within the USSR. Therefore, Soviet system and its policies did not help demolish the barriers between ethnicity and nation. The Soviet federal system did not go beyond the creation of a political hierarchy of ethnic groups based on pseudo-scientific arguments of subdividing all the peoples of the USSR into the most developed peoples, underdeveloped nations and ethnic groups of lower order.[13]

    1.2. Glasnost, Perestroika and Inability of the Centre to Contain the Problem

    Initiation of the glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) policies in the USSR by the Communist Party First Secretary, Gorbachev, in the middle of 1980s, aimed at economic, political and social transformation of the Soviet Union. Yet these new policies of openness and restructuring by the Centre brought about the end of the Union because of their unleashing effect of the already existed but hidden nationalistic and territorial enmities in the Soviet system outlined in the previous section. The NK region within the AzSSR and Armenian demand for annexing it to the ArSSR not only became one of the most important catalysts in the process of the collapse of the USSR, but also have remained an ever-lasting dispute having influenced political, social and economic lives of the two independent states, Azerbaijan and Armenia, in the post-independence period.

    The socialist system, for Gorbachev, was no longer able to solve the declined economic productivity and social problems of the Soviet people. The remedy of this decline was seen in the transformation of the Socialist economic system to the liberal economy. Soon it was understood that economic liberalization could not be succeeded without political reforms. It was assumed that political reforms would have, on the one hand, strengthened the socialist system, on the other hand, it would give a huge bust for socio-economic transformation of the Soviet society. For Gorbachev, therefore, political reforms were for the further advancement and strengthening of the socialism.[14] The wind of liberalisation in the USSR in the late 1980s, however, became the biggest threat for the future of multinational Soviet state and Soviet socialism. As Suny put it correctly, “The more a state becomes democratic, the less it can maintain inequitable imperial relationships within itself.”[15] This was axiomatic in the case of the Soviet Union in late 1980s. The new political developments provided a suitable environment for various Union republics and small ethnic groups to struggle openly against both the Centre and hosting republics. This meant that the centre’s attempt at a revolution from above did not work and nationalities had their own competing interests and aspirations.[16] In the Baltic republics, for instance, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania constituted an open, direct and unambiguous political challenge to the legitimacy of the USSR in the Baltic region. The dispute over the NKAR (Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region) between AzSSR and ArSSR appeared as one of the most important factors which influenced both political struggles within and between the two Union republics and the direction of the liberalisation policies of Gorbachev.

    Loosening center-periphery links within the USSR with the introduction of glasnost led to the ignition of the already hidden, deep-rooted confrontation between AzSSR and ArSSR republics over the Armenian populated NKAR. The conflict over the western part of Azerbaijan, where the NKAR is situated and separated with a tiny Lachin land corridor from the ArSSR, began in the summer of 1987. The NK Armenians with a petition asked the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to correct a ‘historical mistake’ made in 1921 when the Bolsheviks had transferred the NKAR to Azerbaijan, and urged the annexation of it back to the ArSSR.[17] When Supreme Soviet of the USSR rejected the Armenian demand for unification, a mass protest began in February 1988 in Yerevan, the capital of ArSSR, and in the NKAR in the forms of street demonstrations, industrial strikes and school boycotts. These demonstrations led to simultaneous outbreaks of ethnic violence in both ArSSR and AzSSR. The outrageous communal violence between the Azerbaijanis and Armenian minority took place in the industrial city of Sumgait, an Azerbaijani city populated overwhelmingly by the deported Azerbaijani-Turks from ArSSR between 1948 and 1950.[18] Already existing, but previously covered, hatreds between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians increased the tension with the new displaced people in the city. During the course of the communal fighting in Sumgait, 31 ethnic Armenians were killed according to the official announcement, while the unofficial death toll of the Armenians were believed to be up to 200, and the rest of the Armenians were deported from the city. It is argued in this communal clashes the Azerbaijani government encouraged the killings, and did little to prevent the violence.[19] The reaction of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to the events in Sumgait was to send Soviet troops to the city.

    By mass demonstrations and strikes, Armenians tried to take advantage of the new political and economic liberalization policies in the USSR. It is because Armenian leaders assumed that Gorbachev would have resolved the problem on behalf of themselves in the sprit of glasnost and perestroika.[20] Gorbachev did not see, however, the Armenian demonstrations and claims on the NKAR as a struggle for democracy. On the contrary, the initial reaction of the centre to the Armenian demands was to consider it as a mass movement against glasnost, and thus tried to stop before it became an example for the rest of the Union republics for secession. In consistent with this thinking, the centre condemned the Armenian claims and declared it would not change the status of the NKAR within the AzSSR.[21] Gorbachev thought that the tension could have been eased if he had replaced the Communist Party first secretaries in both AzSSR and ArSSR. Yet, this political move did not bring any solution to the dispute as, in mid-June 1988, the Armenian Supreme Soviet, with the support of Arutiunian, the newly appointed Communist Party First Secretary of ArSSR, adopted a resolution in which the transfer of the NKAR to ArSSR was insisted. On the other hand, the Azerbaijan Supreme Soviet did not accept the Armenian demand on NKAR by arguing that the latest decision of the Armenian Supreme Soviet was opposed to the Leninist principle of the preservation of the territorial integrity of any Union republics.[22]

    In consistent with the AzSSR’s demand, the USSR Supreme Soviet decided that the NKAR should be under AzSSR according to the Article 78 of the latest USSR Constitution of 1977, which pointed out the fact that no one can change the border of a republic without that hosting Republic’s acquiescence. The same article of the Soviet Constitution also imposed on the Republics as saying that “the boundaries between Union Republics may be altered by mutual agreement of the Republics concerned, subject to ratification by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”[23] The USSR Supreme Soviet only agreed to strengthen the autonomous status of NKAR on the condition of remaining within AzSSR in 1988. Moreover, in contrast to the Union Republics, an autonomous oblast (region) such as NK has neither constitution nor the right of secession. However, Armenians refused to accept the decision taken by the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, and soon the Supreme Soviet of the NKAR in a joint session with the Supreme Soviet of the ArSSR declared its secession from the AzSSR in July 1988, calling the new formation ‘United Armenian Republic.’ Armenians’ defended the joining of the NK region into the ArSSR according to Article 70 of the Soviet Constitution, which, in theory, accepted the ‘free self-determination of nations.’[24] Armenian reasoning for the secession of the NK region from AzSSR cannot be seen as relevant to the Article 70 of the Soviet Constitution on two grounds. First, Article 78 of the Soviet Constitution showed the legal way of the possible future border changes and territorial exchanges between the Union republics on the condition of voluntary basis. On the other hand, however, the term of “free self-determination of nations” in the Article 70 of the same Constitution was only explanatory phrase of how the USSR had been established in the 1920s. “Free self-determination of nations” in the Article 70 referred to the already long past process of the participation of Armenian, or any other nation as Union Republics, into the USSR, but not to possible future developments pertaining to the self-determination of any minority group or nation. Second, as Cornell correctly stressed, people/nation and minority cannot be taken into the same category in legal terms. It is because Armenians in Azerbaijan can be seen as a national minority, but not a nation in legal terms, since they, the Armenian nation, already had their own state, the Armenian Republic and/or the ArSSR. Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognised clearly the fact that minorities have the right “to enjoy their common culture, to profess their own religion, or to use their common language.” In line with this, in legal terms, the right to self-determination of the Armenians in Azerbaijan can consist of “internal self-determination” by which they can effectively take part in political, social, economic and cultural life within the Azerbaijani society without threatening the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan.[25]

    Under the pressures exerted by the ongoing communal clashes and mass deportation of the peoples from one republic to another, the USSR Supreme Soviet decided to solve the issue of NKAR by strengthening its own control in the region. For this purpose, the USSR Supreme Soviet established a special form of administration, the Volskii Commission, for the NKAR in January 1989. Taking the NKAR under the control the Volskii Commission meant that the region was separated from the AzSSR and put under the direct rule of the USSR Supreme Soviet. Although the USSR Supreme Soviet argued that it had consulted with the communist parties and state organs in both AzSSR and ArSSR before the establishment of the Volskii Commission, the AzCP expressed the fact that they had not been consulted on that Commission and considered it as a unilateral act of the centre. The decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet on the establishment of the Volskii Commission reiterated that the NKAR was a part of AzSSR, but a special administration directed by Moscow weakened the sovereignty of AzSSR over the NKAR, and now it was one of the possibilities that the NK region would have been transferred to the ArSSR. Such a decision of separating the NK region and putting it under the Volskii Commission also suggested that the USSR Supreme Soviet did not directly refuse the Armenian demands over the NKAR. Most important of all was the fact that, with the establishment of the Volskii Commission and its outlined purpose of separating a region from a Union Republic, the USSR Supreme Soviet seemed to have no longer been a high authority able to apply the Soviet Constitution.

    The formation of a special Commission did not stop the conflicts. Quite the contrary, it further intensified the clashes between the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians. For instance, the new wave of communal clashes between the two communities in Baku on 13-14 January 1990 left 160 ethnic Armenians death and many more wounded.[26] The reaction of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet was to suppress the violence by sending approximately eleven thousands of Soviet army, navy and KGB troops to both AzSSR and ArSSR.[27] Soviet Army declared state of emergency in the NKAR, and imposed curfews in the Azerbaijani cities of Baku, Ganje and some other population centers, where the reaction of the Azerbaijani people to the development within the NKAR had allegedly reached to the point of attempting to overthrow the Soviet power in the AzSSR. For Gorbachev, the move of the Soviet army to Baku was to stop further worsening the situation between the Azerbaijanis and Armenians which had already resulted in the deportation of the Armenians from the city. The quarrelling and divisions between the central government in AzSSR and Azerbaijani nationalists, for Gorbachev, paralyzed their ability to act and to maintain control of the situation. Under these situations, according to Gorbachev’s account, entrance of the Soviet troops into Baku was tried to be stopped by the Azerbaijani nationalists’ gunfire and provocations. Soviet military intervention, or what the Azerbaijanis call it ‘invasion’ and ‘Black January,’ on 20 January 1990, resulted in 83 Azerbaijanis and 14 Soviet military personnel death, the detention of forty-three leading Azerbaijani nationalists and the closure of their offices, and the replacement of Vezirov, the AzCP first Secretary, with Muttalibov.[28]

    Gorbachev also tried to stop the Armenian side from their claims over the NKAR. In order to maintain the status quo on the NK conflict, Gorbachev used military power over the Armenians as well. Soviet forces of internal ministry were used to suppress strikes in ArSSR in July and December 1988 during which Airikian, an Armenian nationalist, was deported and, approximately 5 thousands Armenian demonstrators opposing to the declared curfew were detained.[29] In fact, as far as the degree of Soviet military reaction to the both republics are compared, intervention to ArSSR remained soft. It is because the majority of the forces sent by Moscow to the ArSSR were composed of ethnic Armenians who had become reluctant to use force against the fellow Armenians. Also, Armenians, both the Nationalists and Communists, knew the fact that the USSR would soon be dissolved, and during the period of transition Armenian nationalists had given priority to the secession of the NKAR from AzSSR, and did not increase their pressure on the Armenian communists and Gorbachev for the independence of the ArSSR from the USSR. Moreover, both the nationalists and communists in Armenia believed that after the dissolution of the USSR they would need the Russian support on the NK region and other issues in the region against Azerbaijan and Turkey.[30] Another reason why the Soviet intervention/invasion to the AzSSR was so bloody was because, until the ‘Black January,’ the entire Azerbaijani population in ArSSR had already been expelled. Yet, this reason would be wrong because, until the Soviet Army intervened in Azerbaijan on 20 January, there were not any Armenians in Baku as well. If the reasoning of the use of the Soviet troops were to stop the violence in Baku between Azerbaijanis and Armenian minority, it should have been used couple of weeks before the communal clashes broke out in the city, while the Soviet authorities had already known the example of Sumgait. As Rutland correctly observed, the Armenian communists and nationalists acted together on the NK issue and the Armenian populated Soviet troops in ArSSR made it easier for them. In the AzSSR, however, the Azerbaijani Nationalists, who were against both the Armenians and the way and methods of the local Communists’ conduction of the NK conflict, became the prime target for the Soviet forces. In fact, the main objective of the Soviet troops was not to stop the ethnic violence in Baku, but to dissolve the fledgling nationalist movement (the Azerbaijani Popular Front) in the AzSSR.[31] Before the ‘Black January,’ in his meeting with the Azerbaijani nationalist leader, Elchibey, in January 1990, Primakov warned him that their demand for democratic election in AzSSR would lead to the dissolution of the USSR.[32] In fact, the Azerbaijani nationalists aimed at keeping the NKAR inside AzSSR and were only against the way the local communists were handling the NK conflict. The Azerbaijani nationalists gathered around the Azerbaijani Popular Front did not ask any demand for the independence of the AzSSR from the USSR or an election for that purpose. Main, and perhaps the only purpose of Gorbachev by sending military troops to Azerbaijan was to dissolve the further strengthening of the democratic, nationalist and western oriented Azerbaijan Popular Front. In the other part of the USSR there was clear and open challenge to the very existence of the USSR. For instance, in Lithuania, one of the Baltic States, a Popular Front had already renounced the reunification of the country with the USSR and declared independence. Why then the Soviet army was not sent to interfere or crash the Popular front in Lithuania was because the entire Western World were behind Lithuania.[33] Additionally, Gorbachev sent troops to Azerbaijan to support the local communists and used “Western misinformation” and fears of a “resurgent Islam” as his excuses during the crisis of Iraq in 1990.[34]

    The NK dispute between the AzSSR and ArSSR turned into a war in the course of glasnost and perestroika in the USSR. Gorbachev and the long lasted Soviet system could not remove the problem from the memories of the peoples in these two republics. After the NK region was put under the control of a special commission, Volskii, in fact it was the last act of the Soviet state on the issue. From then on, the fate of the disputed region was going to be determined by the political and military abilities of the conflicting parties within their own countries and towards outside world. From Azerbaijan’s point of view, Gorbachev obviously failed to apply the Soviet constitution and favoured the aggressor (Armenia) in the NK conflict as Azerbaijan had to bear the stigma of the lost 20 per cent of its territory and over a million displaced Azerbaijanis. Would Gorbachev have done better in the NK issue? The answer of this question is perhaps yes if Gorbachev had shown enough strength and courage to apply the Soviet Constitution.

    2. Reflections of the Past to Shape the Future

    2.1. Debate over History and Territorial Division

    Both the Azerbaijani and Armenian historians have put forward their own exclusive national claims on historical and religious monuments in NK, and externally imposed territorial divisions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region.[35]

    In order to justify their own position on the disputed territory, both the Azerbaijani and Armenian historians have worked on the history of NK. In line with the Soviet construction of the history of the Caucasus region, the Armenian and Azerbaijani philologists and paleographers have clashed over the disappeared Caucasian Albanian (distinct from the Albanians in the Balkans today) civilization. Both sides have tried to convince ‘international community’ that they are the real successor of the past in the NK region. According to the Soviet historian, Trever, Albanians was one of the three ethnic groups in the Caucasus. Majority of these Albanians were thought to be assimilated by the Islam and later by the Turks. A small number of these Albanians in the NK region remained under the influence of Armenians and later by the Armenian Christians.[36] From the Azerbaijani point of view, the NK region was part of the Azerbaijani feudal states, which were later converted to Islam and Turkish language by first Arab and then by the Turks. The NK region was later used by the tsarist Russia to place the Armenians migrated from the rival empires of Iran and Turkey. Until then, according to the Azerbaijani historians, 73.8 per cent of the population of the NK region were Muslim Azerbaijanis.[37] On the other hand, for the Armenian historians, the Albanians in the NK region was influenced and converted to Christianity by the Armenians. Thus, throughout history, according to H.Tchilingirian, the Albanian Church was fully absorbed by the Armenian Church and became known as the Armenian Catholicosate of Albanians or Aghwank which survived until the midst of the 19th century. When the Arabs and Turks invasion started in the 7th and 11th centuries respectively, the NK region, which remained in the western part of the Albania, had already been largely assimilated by the Armenians.[38]

    The Azerbaijanis having relied on their own historical accounts of the remnants of ancient Arabic and Islamic inscriptions, mosques and tombstones in the region have seen NK as a land where their culture and nationalism flourished. They have seen the Armenian population of the region was a recent event as a result of tsarist Russian policy towards the region. In addition to this, the Azerbaijanis have put forward their argument as saying that NK is the centre of Azerbaijani civilization because the region has produced numerous Azerbaijani artists, composers, poets and other literary figures.[39] Not strangely, similar kinds of claims have been made by the Armenian historians as saying that the NK region belongs to themselves as it has hosted numerous vestiges of the ancient Armenian monuments, religious buildings, churches and monasteries.[40]

    Leaving complex and often biased ancient historical accounts of the sides over the NK region aside, there needs to be concentrated on the territorial developments in the later periods. Indeed, during the tsarist Russian and Soviet periods, similar to many empires in the past, ethno-territorial frontiers in the South Caucasus were ill defined. The Soviet territorial division in the 1920s that established the borders of Azerbaijan within the USSR left many ethnic groups such as Armenians, Lezgins, Georgians, Avars, Kurds and so on to live in Azerbaijan. Many Azerbaijanis were also left within the neighboring territories outside of the AzSSR in Armenia, Georgia and Dagestan Republic within the Russian Federation.[41] Ethno-territorial matters have shown such a level of complexity in the entire Caucasus region that even almost all small ethnic groups are left divided with the end of the USSR. For instance, after Azerbaijan gained its independence from the USSR, ethnic minority group of Lezgins are also divided between Azerbaijan and the Dagestan Republic of the Russian Federation. Under such territorial divisions, regardless of the ethnic populations of the related regions, as Light also observed, ethnic disputes among the nationalities of the Caucasus were more frequently directed against rival national groups than against Russians.[42]

    Since the break-up of the USSR, these ethnic minorities have shown their dissatisfactions in various ways, mainly having blamed the tsarist and then the Soviet policy of territorial enforcement. The Armenian minority in the NK and Nakhichevan regions in Azerbaijan, like the Armenians in the Republic of Armenia, believe that they were betrayed by the Soviet State by leaving these two territories within the borders of the AzSSR. For the Armenians, these two regions had remained as their ancestral lands for centuries and belonged to them until the Soviet government changed the status quo when these territories were given to the Azerbaijanis as a sign of ‘good will’ towards Turkey with the treaties of Moscow and Kars between the Bolsheviks and Turks in 1921.[43] Against these Armenian points, the Azerbaijanis claim that before the Soviet rule was established in Armenia in the early 1920s, the Bolsheviks in Moscow and local Azerbaijani communists in Baku promised to give the NK region to the Armenians in return for the establishment of the Soviet rule in the region. For this aim, for instance, the Azerbaijani communist leader Nerimanov promised on 1 December 1920 that if they had accepted the Soviet rule, he would have given the Azerbaijani territories of Nakhichevan, Zengezur and Karabakh to the Armenians. After long discussions between local Azerbaijani and Armenian communists within the Caucasian Bureau of the Communist Party including the Bolsheviks from Moscow, Zengezur was given to the Armenians, while Nakhichevan and NK regions left within the AzSSR with autonomous status.[44] Indeed, this new territorial formations did satisfy neither the Azerbaijani nor the Armenian sides. As seen that, in addition to the NK region, the other regions, Nakhichevan and Zangezur, have remained disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Azerbaijani side, for instance, claims that Zangezur region, currently an Armenian territory between Nakhichevan and mainland Azerbaijan, is one of the historical Azerbaijani regions. It was given to Armenia in order to separate the mainland Azerbaijan from Nakhichevan and more importantly to cut off the contacts between Azerbaijan and Turkey. This is considered as a familiar Russian policy of divide and rule on the territories where it has colonized.[45] Armenians have accused the Azerbaijani authorities that they had forced the once Armenian majority in Nakhichevan region to emigrate from the region throughout the Soviet period and had been applying the same policy on the NK Armenians. For this reason, after the independence in 1991, the Armenians appealed to the Russian State Duma as the legal successor of the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic (RussianSSR) and asked that the Russian Federation should annul the ‘illegal and illegitimate’ treaty of 1921 signed between the Bolsheviks and Turkey about the guarantor status of the Nakhichevan region. If not met their demands, they also warned that the friendly relations and trust between Armenia and Russia would be hindered otherwise.[46] As this suggests, having captured the entire NK region and 7 more Azerbaijani districts outside NK in the war until 1994, Armenian side relying on similar kind of historical arguments has tried to change the territorial status of the Nakhichevan region. If there had not been the Kars Treaty between the Bolsheviks and Turkey in 1921, which puts Turkey and Soviet Union as the two guarantor states on the territorial status and borders of the Nakhichevan region, there would have been another war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. No doubt would the Armenian side have invaded Nakhichevan region with Russian support and the silence of ‘international community’ as seen in the case of the NK war, if Turkey had not reacted strongly.

    2.2. Arguments on Economic Deprivation

    The territorial separation of NK region from Armenia is not seen just the delimitation of a particular land, but suppression, alienation and exploitation of the Armenian minority by the Azerbaijani authorities.

    In economic field, the Armenians have claimed that they had been discriminated by the Azerbaijani officials for years in the forms of denial of their career opportunities, allocation of economic resources to the Armenian populated areas in the NK region. By doing these, the Armenian side has been convinced that the Azerbaijanis had sought to assimilate and expel them from Azerbaijan. In line with this argument, the Armenians have claimed that the NK region’s industrial growth raised only 14.8 fold, while Azerbaijan, Armenia and USSR, respectively, realized 40, 221, and 113-fold overall industrial growth from 1913 to 1973. The trend of leaving the Armenian populated areas underdeveloped in the NK region, for Armenians, had continued until the end of the 1980s. Between 1945 and 1965, only two factories were built in the NK region. Also, relying on the figures of the year 1986, Armenians have argued that they got 181 rubles as investment per person, while the rest of Azerbaijan got 473 rubles. Limitations on housing and constructions, transportation and communication facilities, lack of funds for protecting Armenian cultural heritage as well as hindering the functioning of the Armenian Church until the end of the USSR were deliberately applied policies of the Azerbaijani authorities that all of which left a socio-economically underdeveloped NK region.[47] Having based on the above convictions, the Armenian side has argued that many ethnic Armenians had already left the Nakhichevan region and the number of Armenian population was significantly declined in the NK region. Under these outcomes, Armenia has seen its right to be in a ‘United Armenia’ with the NK region. Accordingly, for them there is no reason to believe that reincorporation of the NK region with Azerbaijan would make any difference for the improvement of their life there.

    On the other side of the spectrum, however, according to the Azerbaijani authorities, those Armenian claims above are unacceptable, and their arguments on the economic, social and cultural alienation of the NK Armenians by the Azerbaijanis have been used to cover their real goal of separating the region from Azerbaijan to create a greater Armenian state. For the Azerbaijanis, in fact, economic and social development of the NK region has been much better in comparison with those of the other parts of Azerbaijan. Also, the NK region had been in economic, social and cultural connections and cooperation with the other regions in the country. In the areas of silk production, the NK region, particularly Hankendi (Stepanakert), the capital of the NK region, was so productive that the region was sending more than 100 tons of silk to the other part of the USSR. In other areas, for instance, annual consumptions of meat, milk, butter and so on per person in the NK region were much higher than those of the other big cities of Ali Bayramli, Sumgait and Kirovabad in Azerbaijan. In addition to these, infrastructures of railways, electricity, gas pipelines were in better condition for the benefit of the Armenian people in the region, especially in Hankendi. In medical sector, while the Armenians in the region got 122.7 medical personnel for every 10 thousand people, this number was 93.5 for overall the AzSSR level. Nine socio-economic indicators, including numbers of hospital beds and doctors per capita, libraries, childcare facilities and living space, NK region was in better condition than that of the rest of Azerbaijan. In the construction sector, the NK region, as the Soviet government had itself admitted, was 1.4 times better than that of the rest of Azerbaijan.[48] In response to the Armenian claims, an Azerbaijani scholar, Aliyarli, argues that in reality the NK region was fed by the goods produced in the other parts of Azerbaijan. For instance, Baku and Gence, the two most industrialised cities in Azerbaijan, had provided 60 million rubles, while Sheki and Arazboyu regions had done so with 16.5 million rubles for the NK region. More than that, 76.5 per cent of overall volumes of the goods that were the equivalent of 100 million roubles, transported to the NK region were provided from the other parts of the AzSSR. On the other hand, however, the volume of the goods came from ArSSR to the NK region remained 1.5 million rubles during the Soviet period. Also, the NK Armenians took the advantage of goods coming from other parts of Azerbaijan and sold them to the other Union republics.[49] In addition to these, according to another Azerbaijani scholar, Abdullayev, the Armenians were already in key economic and political position within the AzSSR. For instance, 29 deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the AzSSR were made of Armenians. Besides, 61 Armenians worked in various key positions within the Central Committee of the AzCP, and thousands of them had been employed in the Cabinet Ministry of the AzSSR, State Planning Committee, City Party Committees, National Security as well as Ministry of Internal Affairs. The same kind of acceptance and prosperity that the Armenians enjoyed in the areas of economic, social and political life in the AzSSR, had not been given to the Azerbaijanis who had inhabited in ArSSR.[50]

    As far as the Armenian claims about the lower level of economic conditions in the NK region for their brethrens are concerned, it was in fact similar to the overall economic deprivation in all around the Soviet territories. At least, economic situation of the NK region was not worse than that of the rest of the Azerbaijani territories and Armenian Republic. In fact, during the Soviet period, national income growth in AzSSR was in 15th place among the 15 Union republics. In industrial labour productivity Armenia and Azerbaijan were in the 12th place which was well below the USSR average, and Georgia finished in 9th place.[51] In fact, economic situation of the NK region was more or less similar to that of the rest of AzSSR. Already, both Azerbaijan and Armenia, similar to the Central Asian Soviet republics, had experienced with a low level of productivity, negligence of the environment and many other problems of mismanagement under the Soviet system for decades. Even during the Soviet times and before the ethnic conflict started in late 1980s, the NK region got more money per capita than the larger and more populous Nakhichevan in AzSSR.[52] Therefore, economic difficulties in AzSSR were a problem which had been experienced by all Union republics including ArSSR and NK region as well. In fact, one of the major reasons of the collapse of the USSR was the economic inefficiency and stagnation of the Soviet system.

    2.3. Demographic Change without Consent?

    The other dispute over the NK region and the reasoning for going into a war is that the Azerbaijani authorities had pursued a deliberate de-Armenization policy aiming at changing the demographic characteristics of the regions in the AzSSR at the expense of the Armenian minorities. However, this argument against Azerbaijan is also as disputed as the claims seen in the two previous sections.

    The NK and Nakhichevan regions, for the Armenians, were both deliberately tied to Azerbaijan by the Soviet authorities, without having considered the presence of an Armenian ethnic majority in those two regions. For them, from 1920s onwards, previous demographic structure had been altered successfully by the Azerbaijani authorities in the Nakhichevan region, where Armenians have now remained few, while they were once made of the majority of the population.[53] Indeed, according to the statistics, in the Nakhichevan region of Azerbaijan, the Armenian population were composed of 40 percent of the total people of 135 thousands in 1914. The proportion of the Armenians in this region reduced to 3 per cent in the 1970s of the total 233.000 people. Also, according to the 1989 Soviet census, the Armenian population was even almost halved from 3,406 in 1979 to 1,858 in 1989 (0.6 per cent of the population), while the Azerbaijani population increased to 95.5 percent of the total. For the NK region, Armenians argue that as a result of Azerbaijan’s policy of Turkisation, the Armenian population regularly declined in favour of the Azerbaijanis in the region. For instance, while the total number of the Armenians were 170.000 in 1914, this number changed to 117.000 in 1926, 110.000 in 1959, 121.100 in 1970 and 123.100 in 1979. According to the census in 1989, the total number of Armenians increased a total of 145.000, of whom the Azerbaijanis were composed of 40.632 people.[54] Accordingly, the Armenians urged that they did not want the same to happen to the NK region as the Nakhichevan region has demographically turned into an Azerbaijani territory. The Armenian authorities both in Hankendi and Yerevan believe that their occupation of entire NK territories as well as 7 Azerbaijani territorial districts outside the NK region is in fact their natural right to stop further ‘Turkification’ of the Armenian homelands.[55]

    Although the demographic changes in the NK and Nakhichevan regions occurred at the expense of the Armenian population during the Soviet period, it seems doubtful to see that they were direct consequences of a deliberate Azerbaijani policy of de-Armenisation. The reduction of the Armenian population in these regions, in fact, requires one to look at the issue with a broader perspective within the Soviet system. Despite the fact that the application of the Soviet policy of “acculturation, bilingualism and assimilation” to create a unique ‘Soviet people’ was in place, as a result of economic development programs and korenizatsiia, Union republics in the South Caucasus, including AzSSR, had gradually become much more demographically, politically and culturally homogenous communities by the 1960s.[56] In Azerbaijan, for instance, from 1913 to 1980, the percentage of the Azerbaijani population living in rural and urban areas dramatically changed. While 24 and 76 per cent Azerbaijanis were living in the urban and rural areas in 1913, respectively, this difference levelled between 1966 and 1971, and later this trend changed to 53 percent in urban areas and 47 percent in rural areas.[57] This demographic mobilisation trend clearly suggests that Azerbaijanis filled the cities in the 1960s and 1970s and demanded and even occupied more posts in the Socialist economic, political and administrative life in the AzSSR.

    In addition, as demographic trends among the South Caucasus republics indicated in the USSR from 1959 to 1989, the natural growth of the Azerbaijani population was 131.0 per cent, while the increase of the Armenian and Georgian populations remained 66.0 and 48.0 per cent respectively. These ratios already tell that the Azerbaijani ethnic dominance in the AzSSR showed a much higher natural increase than those of the other two South Caucasian republics as a result of migration to cities, high birth rate among the Azerbaijanis and out migration of the Armenians and other ethnic groups.[58] Due to the high birth rate and migration to the cities among the Azerbaijani-Turks in the AzSSR, the Azerbaijani-Turks had made up of almost 83 per cent of the Republic’s population by 1989.

    Another important reason for the decline of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan is that relatively few of the Azerbaijani-Turks migrated from the AzSSR. The number of Armenians in Azerbaijan declined by 19.4 per cent between 1970 and 1989, from 484,000 to 390,000.[59] The decline of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan may be explained by some other reasons as well. The most ethnically homogenous republic in the USSR was ArSSR with 93.3 per cent Armenians. However, only 66.6 per cent of the Soviet Armenians lived in the ArSSR, and millions more in outside the Soviet Union and within the other republics of the USSR. Although the percentage of Soviet Armenians living in the ArSSR has raised since 1959, Armenians have always been a sort of people who were and still are least likely to live in their own Union Republic as they have always maintained their traditional pattern of migration and adaptation of other cultures. For example, more than half of the highly educated Armenian specialists in the ArSSR moved to the other Union republics during the USSR. In contrast to the Azerbaijani Muslims in the USSR, Armenians, who left the AzSSR, always had less prejudice to marry with non-Armenian Christians.[60] These suggest that reduction of the Armenian population in NK, Nakhichevan and elsewhere in the AzSSR cannot be explained by Azerbaijan’s economic, cultural and linguistic policies of the exclusion of the Armenian minority in the country. Accordingly, it can be clearly said that there were various political, economic, social and cultural reasons within the broader Soviet system why demographic changes had happened in the NK region at the expense of Armenians in the AzSSR.


    A number of policy applications and strategic concerns of the USSR had shaped the territorial borders, economic structures and ethnic compositions of only the NK region, but also the entire areas closely linked to the two major national groups, Azerbaijanis and Armenians, in the South Caucasus. The current dispute over the NK region between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been deeply influenced, and built, by both parties’ own clashing visions over territorial, economic and demographic history of the region. These complex and often conflicted historical accounts over the real patrimony of the region are in fact not new. Territorial divisions and mobilization of the native people of the entire Caucasus from one place to another were and are still common currencies of the region in a different time and conditions. The NK region is not an exception in that sense.

    Leninist assumption that realisation of the socialist system could eliminate national antagonisms did not work in the case of the Soviet experiment. Despite the fact that the Soviet system of federalism envisaged a shared sovereignty, central government in Moscow hold most of the power within its own grips in the name of creating a common ‘Soviet man.’ The promise of national self-determination to nations remained only as a slogan in order to manage to secure borders of the Soviet state established over the territories of tsarist Empire. The Soviet system of strict control over the Union republics allowed the centre to suppress already existed disputes among a number of nationalities during the previous Empire. However, the process of imposed modernisation and Russification in language and education helped the nationalities and smaller ethnic nationals to maintain, even some cases to gain, and increase, their national consciousness. As stressed in this work, although Soviet system of federalism and nationalities policies provided the Soviet leaders with having an internal stability, they, on the other hand, made it possible among the ethno-nationals to maintain their divisions and enmities towards each other within their own specific regions. For instance, one of the most important reasons of the dissolution of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federation in 1936 after having 14 years of Soviet experience was border disputes among Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia.

    Not strangely, similar kind of disputes came into

    Establishing Dialogue Through Historians Or Politicians?
    Irem Güney
    28 February 2007
    Journal of Turkish Weekly
    Despite the first signs of the change in Turkish and Armenian perspectives after the assassination of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, it is a big question how long the optimist climate is going to prevail. The never ending discussions between Armenia and Turkey are recently reanimated once again in the last days. In his visit to Paris, Armenian president Rober Kocharyan rejected Turkey's offer to set up a joint panel of historians and experts to debate the issue, and suggested an intergovernmental commission while stating that Yerevan is ready to start the diplomatic relations with Turkey. In his view, it is the politicians who will start the diplomatic relations not the historians. Although he does not set any preconditions for the establishment of diplomatic ties, Kocharyan stresses on their expectation of Turkey’s acceptance of the Armenian claims. In his view, “Turkish foreign policy towards Armenia will be aggressive and threatening as long as Turkey does not apologize for what happened in 1915”.

    The Turkish side of the coin is on the other hand quite different. Turkey has suspended her diplomatic relations with Armenia after the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh where Armenian and Azerbaijani forces fought from 1988 to 1994. The conflict resulted in Armenia winning control over Karabakh and seven surrounding Azerbaijani regions. In 2005, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe once again stated that the territory is under the Armenian occupation agreeing with the OSCE decision on this issue. Another crucial aspect is the Armenian Declaration of Independence in 1991 which was accepted as part of the Armenian constitution by the Armenian Parliament. In this declaration, Turkish territories are referred to as the Western Armenia.

    Although Kocharyan’s suggestion to reestablish the diplomatic relations might be viewed as a positive attempt, one must also note that his statements do not consider the other side of the coin. This consequently calls for skepticism about his statements.

    On the other hand, Ara Sarafyan, the British historian with Armenian origin responded affirmatively to the suggestion from Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halaçoglu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society, who was asking for a collaborative study about the “genocide” claims. Sarafyan wants to conduct the study in Harput town, where there was a significant Armenian population during the Ottoman Empire.

    Halaçoglu accepts Sarafyan’s suggestion and evaluates this as a “really significant event”.

    The latest news in the last days is crucial when one takes Kocharyan’s claims and the thin line of objectivity between history and politics. Obviously, the future will show us to what extent and by whom-the politicians or the historians- the relations between two neighbors will be formed.

    Trabzon becomes cynosure of foreign press's eyes
    The New Anatolian / Ankara with wires
    02 March 2007
    The northern city of Trabzon, which has gained notoriety due to a series of murders and violent attacks, has recently drawn heavy attention from the foreign media, following on from the domestic press who combed the city in search of an explanation.

    Last year Italian Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro was gunned by down by a youth in the city, while this year another gunman from the northern port city traveled to Istanbul to kill Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. According to police and public prosecutor findings so far, the killing was carried out by an organized gang, the members of which were predominantly from Trabzon.

    Several prominent press agencies rushed to Trabzon for interviews with the city officials and members of the public after the spotlights turned on the city.

    Local people have protested the rise of press interest, while several civil groups and politicians have held meetings aimed at combating the negative portrayal of the city.

    Trabzon Mayor Volkan Canalioglu, speaking about the intense scrutiny, said that foreign press representatives have competed for interviews with him and that they all asked whether the city was a hotbed of Turkish nationalism.

    The mayor, speaking to the Anatolian news agency yesterday, said that Trabzon is known for its staunch loyalty to Ataturk's understanding of nationalism and that the city's people are not ultranationalists but loyal to their religious and national values.

    He also criticized efforts to portray the city as harboring violence and crime, adding that the city is against violence wherever it comes from and whoever it targets.

    Canalioglu underlined that Trabzon is a city of history, culture and tourism, contrary to what the press claimed and added that the deeds of individuals shouldn't be attributed to cities.

    He added that the BBC, Germany's ZDF and the U.S. Financial Times have interviewed him so far.

    Sarah Rainsford, the BBC news reporter, recently described the city of standing out for its extraordinary love of football and ultranationalist tendencies.

    She claimed that some residents are proud of the recent killings, but however added that in public people say it is bad that Dink was killed, with most Trabzon people saying he was not an intellectual, but just an Armenian.

    "People here are proud to be Turks, without thinking about what it really means. There is a blind nationalism here. Racism has flourished," she quoted local political activist Zeynep Erdugul as saying in her report. She also said that Erdugul and her friends had been beaten up in the streets of Trabzon by a furious mob that mistook them for supporters of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) two years ago.

    "The nationalist instinct is higher in Trabzon than in other regions of Turkey and it's rising," she quoted newspaper editor Ali Ozturk as saying, and further describing it as an insecure, even paranoid, place.

    "From time to time Trabzon appears on new maps of a Greater Armenia or the Pontus Greek Empire and some groups here see that as a real threat. They think the Armenians and Greeks want to take over their land and that makes them very sensitive," Ozturk was quoted as saying.

    However, Mayor Canalioglu drew another picture of Trabzon in her report, rejecting any suggestion that there is a problem with ultra-nationalism. "Murders, rapes and other crimes are on the increase all over the world," he said.

    The report also underlined the city's high unemployment level, saying that the only factory in the city produces young players for Trabzonspor, the city's much-loved football club, which has in the past competed with the country's top teams.

    "Football tops boys' hopes here. It represents their ticket to wealth and status, and a way to prove themselves," Rainsford said, conveying the concerns of youth team coordinator Ozkan Sumer who told her that the young people of Trabzon are so neglected that there are no other opportunities to fulfill their ambitions

    "Young people here are left dangling and there's always a danger they could break away from society. Football is the only thing that keeps them from falling," he added.

    Stamp dedicated to the memory of Hrant Dink issued in France
    A stamp dedicated to the memory of the editor-in-chief of the Agos daily Hrant Dink has been issued in France.

    The stamp includes a mention of the day of assassination of Dink, instead of the seal it is written: “slain journalist,” Turkish “Sabah” informs. On the left of the stamp issued by two Armenian citizens it is written “1.5 million +1” which symbolizes the number of the Armenian population massacred during the events of 1915 and Hrant Dink’s death.
    Public Radio of Armenia

    'Why do Dink's mourners ignore Khojaly massacre?'
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    01 March 2007
    Criticizing those who mourned slain journalist Hrant Dink in January, Grand Unity Party (BBP) leader Muhsin Yazicioglu yesterday claimed that the 1992 Khojaly massacre in Azerbaijan has been ignored.

    "This person died and everyone protested," he said. "All the so-called liberals in Turkey took to the streets and all of them needed to declare, 'We are all Armenians.' Yet, they are ignorant of the Khojaly massacre, which took place 15 years ago."

    Speaking at a conference organized by Alperen Ocagi, an ultranationalist political youth group known for its closeness to the BBP, to commemorate and discuss the Khojaly massacre, Yazicioglu criticized the stronger reactions to the assassination over the Khojaly massacre.

    The BBP leader, in a statement sent to Parliament two years ago, proposed commemorating Feb. 26 as "Azerbaijani Massacre Day" and demanded the construction of a memorial.

    Yazicioglu said that the world could only see such a brutality from Armenians, citing footage of the event. "Armenians slew 613 Azerbaijani civilians on Feb. 26, 1992," he claimed. ".There has been an attempt to cover the massacre up. You accepted the (2004) Annan plan for the island of Cyprus. Did the West love you? You ignored the massacre in Khojaly. Did the West love you? You didn't raise your voice about the Turkmen massacre in Tal Afer, Iraq. Did the U.S. love you?"

    Delivering a speech at the conference, Namik Kemal Zeybek, a BBP advisor, claimed that there are other inhumane events in Armenian history and that the Khojaly massacre is a typical example of this.

    Ceyhun Memmedov, counselor of the Azerbaijani Embassy, said that Azerbaijan will take its land back sooner or later. "Now Azerbaijan is a very powerful country. The defense budget of the country is equal to the Armenia's total budget," he said.

    'Opening of Akdamar Church gesture to Armenians'
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    01 March 2007
    Recognized as one of the most important examples of Armenian architecture, the Akdamar Church, whose restoration was recently completed, will now be opened on April 15, after controversy over the date.

    Yusuf Halacoglu, head of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK), said that if his schedule allows, he will attend the church's reopening. "We don't have anything to hide," he said. "Opening the Akdamar Church will be a gesture to Armenians and the whole world."

    Armenian officials, leaders and culture ministers from European countries will be invited to the opening of the church.

    The restoration of the church was started three years ago and the country has spent around YTL 4 billion on the project.

    Speaking to Anka, Halacoglu said that after the conquering of Anatolia, the Turks didn't damage foreign assets, even in Istanbul, which was conquered by war, nothing was destroyed. "In this way, these assets have survived through to today," said the historian, adding that in the Balkans, where there were once 22,000 cultural assets, there are only 2,000 now.

    Halacoglu asserted that other countries don't give enough attention and sensitivity as shown by Turkey. "The Mostar Bridge was destroyed in Bosnia just because it was a Turkish work of art," he said. "Can you imagine such a mentality treating buildings so brutally as human? We don't have anything to hide. Opening the Akdamar Church will be a gesture to Armenians and the whole world."

    The opening of the church located on Akdamar Island was delayed until April 24 by the Culture Ministry, but as that day is regarded by Armenians as marking the so-called genocide, the ministry earlier decided on April 11.

    Criticizing the date change for the opening of the church, Turkish-Armenian community head Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan has said that he won't attend the opening.

    Assassinated journalist Hrant Dink claimed in one of his last articles that the change of date was planned and that April 11 is the same date as April 24 going by the Ottoman calendar.

    Turkey intensifies counter-attack against genocide claims
    As the US House of Representatives sets to hear on the Armenian genocide resolution, the Turkish Parliament has published booklets to be sent to US congressmen containing documents that invalidate genocide claims.
    An initiative of the Turkish Parliament's Office of the Speaker, the booklets will first be distributed to 550 members of the US Congress. Printed in Turkish, English, German, Italian and French, the booklets will also be sent to legislators of other countries.

    Having decided to send three separate parliamentary delegations to the US for lobbying against the Armenian genocide resolution, to be discussed in the House of Representative in April, the Turkish parliament has sponsored the preparation of a booklet instead of a comprehensive book so that it be can easily read.

    Published under the guidance of Egemen Bagis, chairman of the Turkish-American Interparliamentary Friendship Group, and Professor Aziz Akgül, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakir deputy, the evidentiary documents were obtained from the Turkish History Institute.

    The first four pages state the historic events between 1915 and 1918 cannot be considered as genocide while 14 pages contain documents refuting Armenian genocide claims.

    Turkey has adamantly denied claims by scholars that its predecessor state, the Ottoman government, caused the Armenian deaths in a genocide. The Turkish government has said Armenians were killed or displaced in civil unrest during the disarray surrounding the empire's collapse.

    Arguing that the resolution will not be accepted in the House of Representatives, Bagis said, "In my opinion, the bill will not pass. I don't think the US will make such a big mistake. Common sense will eventually rule. The US will not be trapped by the Armenian diaspora."

    The US administration has opposed previous attempts by members of Congress to pass resolutions recognizing the killings of Armenians as an organized genocide. But US President George Bush will have to persuade the new Democrat-controlled Congress, which does not need presidential approval for such a resolution. The resolution was introduced on Jan. 30 at the US Congress, and currently has 170 co-sponsors.

    Akgül noted that the idea of publishing a booklet against the Armenian claims came at his meetings with some of the US congressmen. He said, "During the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and OECD meetings, I was with two US representatives. In connection with the bill, they confessed that virtually all representatives did not have even the simplest historic facts concerning the issue."

    Meanwhile, a six-person Turkish parliamentary delegation carried on meetings at the US House of Representatives. The delegation, which consists of four members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and two deputies from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had meetings with six representatives from both the Democratic and the Republican parties in Congress.

    In delegation talks, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Bryza reiterated the US administration's opposition to the resolution.


    Turkey's Armenian dilemma
    Turkey did not always deny the mass killing of Armenians. As the US House of Representatives prepares to vote on recognising the 1915 massacres as genocide, journalist and historian Bruce Clark looks at how and why Turkish attitudes have changed over the past 90 years.

    "The more foreign parliaments insist that our forebears committed crimes against humanity, the less likely anybody in Turkey is to face up to the hardest moments in history."

    That, roughly speaking, is the message being delivered by Turkey's hard-pressed intelligentsia as the legislators in one country after another vote for resolutions which insist that the killing of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide.

    "Will the adoption [of a resolution] help to inform the Turkish public... on the great tragedy which befell the Ottoman Armenians?

    "No, it can hardly be expected to... broaden the debate on the history of the Ottoman Empire's final period."

    So writes Sahin Alpay, a liberal-minded Turkish academic, in a recent column in Zaman newspaper.

    What such appeals reflect, of course, is an elementary fact of human psychology: the phenomenon of individual and collective defensiveness.

    When people feel completely secure, and among friends, they can be very frank about misdeeds which they, or people close to them, have committed.

    But hackles will go up again as soon as they become insecure, because they feel their accusers are acting in bad faith, or that accepting their accusations will have bad consequences.

    On the defensive

    In recent years, liberal Turkish scholars have expressed the hope that membership, or even prospective membership of the European Union, will give the country enough confidence to discuss the Armenian tragedy without threatening those who use the "g-word" with prosecution.

    Wegner recorded scenes of refugee life such as a funeral rite in a camp

    Sceptics may retort that in recent years, things have been moving in the opposite direction: the revised Turkish penal code and its preamble, adopted in 2005, make even more explicit the principle that people may be prosecuted if they "insult Turkishness" - a crime which, as the preamble makes clear, includes the assertion that the Ottoman Armenians suffered genocide.

    It is certainly true that Turkish defensiveness - the sort of defensiveness which can treat open discussion as verging on treachery - has been running high since the 1960s when the Armenians round the world began lobbying for an explicit acceptance, by governments and parliaments, that their people suffered genocide in 1915.

    A campaign of violence launched by Armenian militants in the 1970s, who mainly attacked Turkish diplomatic targets and claimed over 50 lives, raised hackles even higher.

    All that raises a question: has there ever been a moment, since the events of 1915, when the Turkish authorities might, conceivably, have acknowledged or even freely discussed the view that almost every Armenians regards as self-evident: the view that in addition to relocating the entire ethnic Armenian population of eastern Anatolia, the "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP) which wielded effective power in the Ottoman empire also gave secret orders to make sure that as few as possible of the deportees survived the experience?

    In fact, there was such a moment: the immediate aftermath of World War I.

    Tried and executed

    At that time the Ottoman government was intact but dependent for its survival on the good graces of the victorious British Empire.

    The sultan's regime was desperately trying to distance itself from the actions of the CUP, the "state within a state" which in 1915 had masterminded the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians - and is alleged to have given secret "extermination" orders at the same time.

    During the early months of 1919, few people in Anatolia publicly doubted that Armenians had suffered atrocities that were egregious even by the standards of a terrible war.

    The sultan and his foreign minister were at pains to reassure the British of their determination to punish the perpetrators of these atrocities, and they held four big and revealing trials whose proceedings were published in the government gazette.

    In April 1919 a local governor, Mehmed Kemal, was found guilty and hanged for the mass killing of Armenians in the Ankara district.

    But the climate shifted rapidly after May 1919, when Greek troops were authorised by the victorious Entente powers to occupy the Aegean port of Izmir and, in another part of Anatolia, Mustafa Kemal - later known as Ataturk - began his campaign to make the Turks masters in their own land.

    Nationalist feeling

    Turkish rage over the Greek landing lent fuel to the Kemalist cause, and discredited the Ottoman government.

    With every passing month, the British government's leverage over the Ottoman authorities waned, and so did British enthusiasm for the conduct of war crimes trials.

    In 1921, the British government made a pragmatic deal to release a group of Turkish prisoners it had been holding in Malta on suspicion (among other things) of crimes against the Armenians.

    They were freed in exchange for Britons being held by the Turks.

    In Turkish lore, this release is held up as proof that no serious evidence against the captives existed.

    What it certainly proves is that British zeal for investigating the past was waning, even as the Kemalist cause gained strength and the British-influenced Ottoman regime faded into oblivion.

    In any case, the officially cherished version of the Turkish state's beginnings now insists since the empire's British adversaries and occupiers were the main promoters of war crimes trials, those trials themselves must have been worthless or malicious.

    A new state

    But in the midst of all this nationalist discourse, something rather important is often obscured, and there are just a few Turkish historians who dare to point this out.

    The atrocities against the Armenians were committed by an Ottoman government, albeit a shadowy sub-section of that government.

    There is no logical reason why a new republican administration, established in October 1923 in an act of revolutionary defiance of Ottoman power, should consider itself responsible for things done under the previous regime.

    In fact, when the nationalist movement was founded in 1919, the climate of revulsion over the sufferings of the Armenians was so general that even the neo-nationalists were keen to distinguish themselves from the CUP.

    Some see significance in the fact that the nationalist movement chose to rally round an army officer, Mustafa Kemal, who had never been anywhere near the places where the Armenians met their fate.

    The very fact that the Turkish republic bears no formal responsibility for eliminating the Armenian presence in eastern Anatolia (for the simple reason that the republic did not exist when the atrocities occurred) has given some Turkish historians a flicker of hope: one day, the leaders of the republic will be able to face up to history's toughest questions about the Armenians, without feeling that to do so would undermine the very existence of their state.

    Fatma Muge Gocek, a Turkish-born sociologist who now works as professor in America, has said there are - or will be - three phases in her country's attitude to the fate of the Armenians: a spirit of "investigation" in the final Ottoman years, a spirit of defensiveness under the Turkish republic, and a new, post-nationalist attitude to history that will prevail if and when Turkey secures a places in Europe.

    That makes perfect psychological sense, even if the immediate prospects for a move from phase two to phase three do not look very bright.

    Bruce Clark is international news editor of the Economist newspaper.

    BBC News
    27 February 2007

    A sense of betrayal
    SUAT KINIKLIOGLU s.kiniklioglu@todayszaman.com
    Where is Europe? Where are those European parliamentarians who held placards voting “Oui/Evet” to Turkey in 2004? What happened to our dream to enter the European Union in the coming years? Many pro-European Turks are asking this question of themselves. We are often on the intellectual defensive with our counterparts in various countries, because they have difficulty understanding what has happened. Is not a bit more attention warranted to a country such as Turkey during such difficult times?

    Looking back at what transpired during the last three years, a number of questions come to mind. Why would France and some others begin to meddle with the charged Armenian issue as soon as we started to negotiate? When everyone knew that Greek Cyprus would be a spoiler vis-à-vis Turkey, why would the major countries of the European Union not take necessary precautions and put appropriate pressure on Nicosia? And, of course, why did we waste so much time in identifying a chief negotiator? I think most of us know the answers to those questions. Yet they are not convincing. Nor are they responsible.

    What we feel, as staunch pro-Europeans in Turkey, is a distinct sense of betrayal. The charges of Turkey’s nationalists: that Europeans cannot be relied on, that they are simply playing for time, that Europeans have no intention of accepting Turkey, all painfully echo in our ears. We feel abandoned and left to our own in what promises to be a very difficult and complicated domestic fight.

    Most of us are plagued by a sense of severe injustice and maltreatment. We have difficulty in understanding the behavior of some European states which choose to hide behind the irresponsible policies of Greek Cyprus. What kind of shortsightedness has overtaken Europe’s ailing political leadership?

    And yes, where are Europe’s pro-Turks? Why are they not showing solidarity with us during our relentless intellectual battle with those who want a closed, inward-looking and isolated Turkey? Where is the sense of common destiny, the bonds that links Europeans together? Why are we not seeing more Europeans stand up and support Turks who want Turkey be part of a whole and united Europe?

    Indeed we are going through momentous days in Turkey. What we would have expected is the open expression of solidarity with Turkey’s democratic forces rather than the peculiar silence that has lately prevailed in Europe. Yes, we are currently buying time with the two elections and the uncertainty of the French election. Yet we would have thought that Europe’s elites could keep the Turkey debate going. It is very hard to comprehend how much the debate has changed over the four decades we have been engaging with one another on an institutional level. When we first started out, namely on Sept. 12, 1963, Walter Hallstein (CDU), the president of the then-European Economic Community, noted that “Turkey is part of Europe. That is the deepest meaning of this process: it is, in the form most appropriate to our times, the confirmation of a truth, which is more than the abbreviated expression of a geographical statement or a historical observation, valid for a few centuries.”

    Now tell us, can we still believe in this?

    To forget or to remember, that is the question
    February 27, 2007
    Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
    Is Turkey's national identity built on amnesia? What are the biggest difficulties for Turkey when the country is confronted with its own history? Can facing history open the way for societal peace?

    Sunday afternoon at Bilgi University Turkey's leading academics debated ways to sort out the country's relationship with its past by discussing if Turkish national identity is based on forgetting the past before 1923, when the republic was founded.

    It is normal that in the periods of transition, during the Bolshevik revolution for example, systematic amnesia plays a role in identity-building because people identify themselves with the rupture, said Ahmet Insel from Galatasaray University. However in Turkey, it goes one step further, he added. “In our case, there is a big denial of the past and of events that happened before the republic, which is different than the experiences of other countries where rupture does not include denial and ignorance,” he said.

    While Turkey's policy is to systematically forget the past, the West constructs its history by systematically remembering, he claimed. Efforts in Turkey to face its past are met with bad reactions, he said. "Instead of trying to understand, to criticize or to excuse the realities of the past, we have tried to circumvent them. We have never debated whether the execution of Adnan Menderes, a former president killed after the 1961 coup, was a right decision or not or if the court was null and void, but instead we have given the name “Adnan Menderes” to Turkey's third largest airport and to a university."

    According to Turkish perception, he said, “All the good in history belongs to the Turks and all the bad to the ‘others.'” This view does not bring any advantage, he argued. “Writing a new history that includes the good as well as the bad is very important,” he emphasized. “This would make it possible for society to reach a level of real self-reliance.”

    While Insel insists on the importance of re-writing history, Altan Öymen, a journalist and writer, underlines the importance of evaluating the facts in the historical context. I have listened to both sides on the Armenian massacres, he said, but could not decide whether it was genocide or not. I want to find out who is responsible, he argued, because I do not want to carry what Enver Pasha or Talat Pasha - the ones who decided on the Armenian forced migration - did on my shoulders my whole life. However, he also insists that while discussing 1915, the date the genocide is believed to have begun, one must not ignore that it was a time of war.

    Some historians warn that “wrong” attitudes about history can create pathology in society. When people try to deny the realities of the past, this refutation builds up society's relation with history in a way that is askew, said Murat Belge, a historian from Bilgi University. This ignorance can open the road to paranoia and its results are pathological, he emphasized. “Just as denying the past is traditional, like denying an Armenian genocide, pathology is also traditional,” he said.

    Turkey is already in the process of facing with its history:
    While Belge refers to medical science discussing society's attitudes, doctor and clinic psychiatrist Murat Paker is more optimistic about Turkey's process of facing its history. There is no regime change, no external drive, no losing a war but bit-by-bit, Turkey is facing its history, he said. "That's why nationalism is on the rise. This society has begun to talk about the Kurdish issue - we could not pronounce the word Kurd 10 years ago - the Armenian issue, the 1980 military coup and the military's role in politics, and even if it is not sufficient, it is a step forward." Turks are beginning to understand what kind of lies they are confronting, he said “What we must do is to systematize these non-official and non-systemic efforts of facing history and to try to realize them in official platforms as well."

    Underlining that there are wars and crimes in history involving all of humanity helps Turkey to get rid of its phobia of facing its history, said Ayse Hür, a sociologist from Bogaziçi University. According to her, Turkey's intelligentsia is also stuck in the nationalism paradigm. Every “proposition” about historic facts, such as the Armenian question or the Kurdish question, coming from outside is considered as an imposition and the reaction is “we can solve our problems inside our house.” It is not possible to solve them internally anymore, she said, because these subjects, from now on, are global. She agrees on the view that the concept called “Sevres paranoia,” the feeling that the other countries are trying to divide Turkey derived from the Treaty of Sevrés of 1920, is one of the biggest obstacles to Turkey facing its history.

    Should the world become Turkish, or should the Turks become worldly?
    February 27, 2007
    Cengiz Aktar
    There is a question we sometimes, and maybe increasingly more often, ask ourselves: Is it that we are not living on earth but on some other planet? There is so much behavior and many statements in this country that bring about this question. Our view on world issues, or on issues that stem from Turkey but have become an issue for the whole world, is so different from the viewpoints of other countries. And these are not necessarily western countries.

    Let's look at environmental issues. … Following the global warming report disclosed in Paris in the beginning of the month, three ministers declared that global warming is under control in Turkey and that there is no need to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Even though Turkey is now one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gas. Even though the Kyoto Protocol is insufficient in preventing the catastrophe. Even though the problem neither starts nor stops at Turkey's borders. You would recall in 1986 when a politician drank tea on national television to prove that domestic tea is not dangerous, when its radioactivity level was proven to be sufficiently high after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Following the same logic, we have not contributed to the World Health Organization (WHO) database of patient information when AIDS was brought to the world's attention in the 1980s, claiming AIDS will not infect Turks!

    Let's evaluate the Armenian issue. … Many opinionated citizens “know” that there is nothing such as the Armenian question, that both parties murdered each other during World War 1, and that everyone is equally wronged. Let's leave aside how other countries and societies in the world perceive the Armenian issue.

    The Turkish belief will not change even though there is nothing left from the thousands of years old Armenian presence in these lands before 1915.

    Let's look at sports games. … For example the PI event during the 2006 Formula 1 when those who asked Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat to give the cup to the winner in order to show him to the entire world. They ended up paying high fines, even Talat himself warned the amateur image makers “to not get into trouble by doing it…” Or what has happened to the national team after the scandal during the soccer match with Switzerland…

    Let's look at the ecumenical status of the Orthodox Patriarchate. … We stubbornly and illogically deny the “Ecumenical Patriarch” status of the Istanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, even though he is referred to with this title all over the world, except for in Russia, and that only due to a historical conflict between the Moscow Church and the Istanbul Church. Because we face abysmal conspiracies from breaching the Lausanne Peace Treaty to establishing an Orthodox Vatican in Istanbul!

    Are not all the court cases in which Turkey was found guilty and ordered to pay its own citizens indemnity by the European Court on Human Rights, the results of Turkey's peculiar and disconnected justice system?

    The most tragic-comical event in inflicting self-injury while defying the world must be the case when the Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) distributed touristic publicity DVDs with TIME magazine comprising its version of the Armenian issue. Besides getting every moral compensation from TIME, the Armenian diaspora also had its one-sided DVD on the Armenian genocide distributed freely in its European edition.

    Of course, when we think so differently from the rest of the world, there is no friend to Turkey beside itself. The solution to this horrific loneliness is a world where everyone will think the same way, in other words, “The World Should Become Turkish,” a formula tagged everywhere...

    This being said, the current trend is quite the opposite where the Turk is becoming more and more worldly. Indeed Turkey has attracted international attention in many fields thanks to the political and economic stability achieved in recent years. This way, it is now a country that looks at the future with confidence. Maybe too much confidence. In fact, integrating with the world has not only benefits but also obligations. Moreover, the moment the confidence brought by integration develops into arrogance, it becomes impossible to fulfill the obligations. That in turn has the potential of halting integration and setting up the stage for a break off. To engineer the change process and to steer the integration process in a constructive way a country requires solid political and a social knowledge base as well as lots of skill.

    Bryan Ardouny: Armenian Genocide Resolution's Purpose Is Not To Humiliate Turkey
    "We have a very strong bipartisan support. Over 170 members of Congress in just a few weeks have cosponsored this resolution," said Bryan Ardouny, Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA). The resolution's approval would set the U.S. record right on this sensitive matter, Ardouny said. "The Armenian Genocide is an incontestable historical fact. The resolution's purpose was not to humiliate Turkey, but a confirmation of the truth of history in the face of denial. The issue is how we can help Turkey to come to terms with its past," he said, adding that building a relationship on truth will improve the relations between Turkey and Armenia, reports Turkish Daily News.

    Washington Times Criticizes Pelosi For Armenian Bill
    Turkish Press
    Feb 26 2007
    WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. paper Washington Times harshly criticized U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi who supports a bill on so-called Armenian genocide.

    "Not content with undermining the war effort in Iraq, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has apparently set her sights on Turkey, a NATO ally and one of the few Muslim-majority nations in the world that is a democracy," said Washington Times in its today`s editorial.

    The editorial said the United States needs to be working more closely with Turkey at such a dangerous time.

    "But Mrs. Pelosi seems more interested in playing ethnic politics in order to score some cheap political points and win additional votes," it said.

    "The reality is that Armenian and Greek lobbying organizations hostile to Turkey command far more power in Washington than do pro-Turkish groups. And in their effort to settle old scores dating back to World War I, they have the potential to damage our current ability to maintain Turkey`s cooperation in stabilizing Iraq," it added.

    A Turkish Novelist Acquits Herself Nicely
    By John Freeman
    Newsday, NY
    Feb 26 2007
    Salman Rushdie once noted that societies that emerged from colonial rule in the '50s, '60s and '70s became hotbeds for literary invention.

    "The Empire Writes Back," he called the phenomenon, punning on George Lucas' "Star Wars" film.

    That phrase is gaining new currency in Turkey, where, according to 35-year-old writer Elif Shafak, a young generation of Turks is using the novel, a form that came to them from the West, to reimagine their society from within.

    "Novelists have played a very, very critical role as the engineers of social and cultural transformation in Turkey," Shafak says, sitting in an empty hotel ballroom in New York City. "Maybe in that regard we are closer to the Russian tradition than the Western tradition."

    The debate over what these novels say about Turkish society, and how they say it, lurched to the forefront of life in Istanbul in recent years, as the Turkish government began prosecuting writers for "offending Turkishness."

    Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and several dozen other writers were tried under this code of Turkish law. In September, Shafak, too, was put on trial because of passages from her new novel, "The Bastard

    of Istanbul" (Viking, $24.95), which referenced the long fallout of what many call the Armenian Genocide, when up to 1 million Armenians were forcibly removed from Turkey and killed.

    The book has become a bestseller in Turkey, selling more than 60,000 copies, but not without repercussions for Shafak. Writing in The Washington Post, Shafak explained how critics within Turkey claimed she "had taken the Armenians' side by having an Armenian character call the Turks 'butchers' in a reference to the Ottoman Empire's deportation and massacre of Armenians during World War I."

    Although Shafak was acquitted, others have not been so lucky. On Jan.

    19, her "dear friend," journalist Hrant Dink, the Armenian editor-in-chief of a Turkish newspaper, was murdered on a street in Istanbul, allegedly by an ultra-nationalist teenager. The reverberations of this event are still etched on Shafak's face.

    "The debate on literature and art is very much politicized," she says, her voice revealing palpable anguish, "sometimes very much polarized. I think my work attracted it because I combined elements people like to see separate."

    Shafak is referring to sex and religion, faith and skepticism, and all these elements come together in "The Bastard of Istanbul." The novel tells the story of two families - one Turkish Muslim, the other Armenian - who discover they are united by a shared secret.

    Set mostly in Istanbul, it is a lively book, populated by powerful, talkative women who are full of superstitions, folk tales and vengeful schemes.

    "Turkey is incomparable with any other Muslim country with regard to the freedoms women exercise," Shafak says. "But we have a tradition of state feminism. To this day, when we talk about women's rights, we say Ataturk gave us our rights," she says, referring to the republic of Turkey's first president. "And that tells us a lot. What we need is an independent women's movement."

    In some people's eyes, Shafak is a walking contradiction: a radical feminist Muslim Turk who writes about sex and slang; a leftist on some issues who believes in the power of religion. Every point of her identity is politicized, even the types of words she uses.

    "Turkish as we speak today is very centralized. We took out words coming from Arabic origin, Persian origin and Sufi heritage. And I think in doing so we lost the nuances of the language."

    Born in France, Shafak spent her childhood shuttling between Germany, Jordan and Spain, with stops in between in Turkey. She earned a graduate degree in international relations and titled her PhD thesis "An Analysis of Turkish Modernity Through Discourses in Masculinities."

    Since 2003, she has lived in Turkey and traveled to the United States to teach. She calls herself a commuter, not an immigrant. "There is a metaphor I like very much in the Quran, in the Holy Book, and it's about a tree that has its roots up in the air. When my nationalist critics say you have no roots, you are a so-called Turk, I say no, I do have roots, they're just not rooted in the ground. They are up in the air."

    In popular conception, Istanbul is the great meeting bazaar between East and West, but Shafak says the city remains somewhat uncomfortable with that role. "One thing that worries me is that there is no ... mobility between classes. There's not that kind of geographical mobility - east and west, north and south - that you have in the States."

    And yet, Istanbul remains a source of endless inspiration for Shafak, and it also remains her home. "For anyone," she says, "especially after 9/11, who is asking herself how western democracy and Islam can co-exist side by side, how seemingly opposite forces can be juxtaposed, for anyone asking these sorts of questions, Istanbul is a very important case study."

    As for how she is going to manage, given the controversy and the real security issues, she's up for the challenge.

    "My relationship with the city has been like a pendulum. I am deeply attracted to it, but sometimes suffocated by it.

    "So I need to take a step outside of it and then come back."

    CHP quizzes Gul over airline genocide propaganda
    A main opposition deputy yesterday questioned Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul over the ministry's efforts to forestall Armenian "genocide" propaganda, particularly that distributed on German airline Lufthansa.

    Gul who returned to the country on a Lufthansa aircraft after a U.S. visit this month faced complaints from passengers due to the company distributing an issue of Time magazine with a supplement and CD about the so-called genocide claims.

    Carrying the issue to Parliament with a question motion, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Aydin Deputy Ozlem Cercioglu asked Gul what he had done regarding the complaints.

    Cercioglu, who said that the Armenian diaspora in the U.S. has come to use airliners to spread its anti-Turkey and pro-genocide propaganda, asked Gul whether it is possible to contact U.S. officials who allowed the distribution of pro-genocide material on the U.S.-Turkey planes, in order to dissuade them.

    "Have you communicated Turkey's concerns over the incident to the related authorities?" she asked.
    The New Anatolian / Ankara
    27 February 2007

    Turkey to be promoted with Pope and Pamuk
    The Culture and Tourism Ministry will use photos of Nobel Laureate in Literature Orhan Pamuk and Pope Benedict XVI, who visited Turkey last year, to promote Turkey. Ibrahim Yazar, deputy head of the ministry's Promotion Department, said that $120 million had been allocated to promote the country, adding that 80 percent of this would be spent on advertising and the rest on cultural activities. HURRIYET

    Lawsuit against Armenia in ECHR
    Turkish engineer Melih Vidinli filed an application against Armenia at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), demanding 150 million euros of compensation for financial loss. In his petition, Vidinli said that his company has lost some tenders due to Armenia's "genocide policy." HURRIYET

    "Turkey Democratizing On Armenian Issue" Rice
    US Secretary of State says ongoing process will make Turks face their history, and urges Congress not to intervene through genocide measures.

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday that Turkey was democratizing rapidly on a debate on the Armenian killings in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, and asked Congress not to endorse Armenian genocide resolutions that would derail the Turkish process.

    At a subcommittee hearing of a House Appropriations Committee on the 2008 budget, Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and sponsor of an Armenian genocide resolution pending in the House of Representatives, asked Rice if she had "any doubt in her mind" that the Armenian killings constituted genocide.

    "I think that these historical circumstances require a very detailed and sober look from historians," Rice said. "And what we've encouraged the Turks and the Armenians to do is to have joint historical commissions that can look at this, to have efforts to examine their past, and in examining their past to get over their past."

    Her remarks meant an apparent support for Turkey's proposal two years ago for the creation of a joint Turkish-Armenian history commission to look into facts in archives worldwide. However, Armenia and U.S. Armenians say that what they call the Armenian genocide is an incontestable fact, and any effort for further inquiry practically means outright denial. "I don't think that it helps that process of reconciliation for the United States to enter this debate at that level," Rice said, effectively opposing the congressional genocide resolutions.

    Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in identical letters sent to House leaders on March 7, urged Congress to drop the genocide measure, saying its passage would harm U.S. national interests at a time when Washington and Turkey were cooperating closely on Iraq and Afghanistan. Schiff then said that Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's recent murder and the prosecution of Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk were indications that Turkey was not interested in reconciliation, and asked why the United States, while recognizing all genocides worldwide, failed to grant the same status to the Armenian killings. Rice said President George W. Bush on April 24 each year recognized "the tragedy that befell the Armenian people at that time." "After the murder that you talked about, Turks went into the streets to embrace Armenia and to say that this is not the way that Turks behave. The foreign minister himself has called into question the issue of arresting people for [insulting] Turkishness," she said. "I do think that there is an evolution that is going on in a Turkey that is democratizing and democratizing before our very eyes, and where Turks will be able to deal better with their history," Rice said. "But I do believe that people are better left to try and deal with this themselves, if they're going to be able to move forward," she said, raising another objection to the congressional resolutions.

    "The purpose is to acknowledge, of course, the historic tragedy, but the purpose is also to allow Turks and Armenians to be able to move forward," Rice said. "And yes, Turkey is a good ally, and that is important. But more important is that like many historical tragedies, like many historical circumstances of this kind, people need to come to terms with it and they need to move on. We've done that in our own country. People have done it in Europe, people have done it in Asia."

    Two legislations pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate call for the recognition of the World War I-era Armenian killings in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Turkey is making every effort to stop their passage, and it is not clear if or when the resolutions could be discussed and come to a vote in both congressional chambers.

    WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
    March 23, 2007

    Turkey: Armenian Patriarch Says Genocide Bill Might Harm Dialogue
    Anatolia News Agency
    March 22 2007
    Kayseri, 22 March: The resolution on (so-called) Armenian genocide submitted to the US Congress will be no use to anybody, said Mesrob II, patriarch of Turkish Armenians.

    Speaking to Anatolia correspondent today, Mesrob II noted, "I don't find reasonable any move that will have a negative impact on the dialogue process which could not even be launched between the two nations."

    Letter to prime minister regarding Akdamar Church
    Stating that he wrote letters to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Culture and Tourism Minister Atilla Koc regarding the Akdamar Church in eastern Anatolian region, Mesrob II suggested that a festival should be held there every September.

    Mesrob II stated that Turkish-Armenian relations will certainly be normalized one day and argued that an Armenology Institute, to be opened in Istanbul, can boost relations.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry Regrets Swiss Court Ruling On Party Leader

    Ankara/Lausanne, 9 March: Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed regret over Swiss court's decision about Dogu Perincek, leader of Turkish Labour Party, who was tried in Lausanne and found guilty of breaching Swiss laws by denying so-called Armenian genocide.

    In a written statement on Friday [9 March], the ministry said despite the groundless, baseless and controversial subject of trial, court's decision led several questions.

    "Acceptance of this decision by Turkish people is impossible," the ministry said.

    The ministry noted that it abstained from making any statements on behalf of Turkey in order not to intervene in justice, stating that it only expressed its belief on a neutral and fair decision by the Swiss court. However, the ministry said, biased broadcast on Swiss TV channels, reflection of the issue in the press for propaganda advantages of prosecuting party and announcements as "denier" for Perincek before court's verdict, giving opportunity for every kind of efforts to interfere in court's decision caused deep sorrow.

    "In the next phases of legal process related to the trial, we hope that this injustice will be fixed by uncommitted and independent judges and courts which we believe to exist in Switzerland," the ministry said.

    Earlier today, a Swiss court fined Perincek to 9,000 francs for violating the Swiss law on "denying" so-called Armenian genocide but this sentence was delayed for two years.

    Dogu Perincek was detained in Switzerland on 24 July 2005 for saying "Armenian genocide is an imperialist lie" in a press conference. He was released after being interrogated for more than three hours.

    Harshly reacting to the verdict, Perincek said, "This decision is the concrete evidence of the grudge that Swiss judge holds against Turkey and Turkish nation."

    Perincek qualified the decision as "biased" and added, "I will appeal the verdict. If I cannot get any result from the appeals court, I will apply to the European Court of Human Rights."

    Perincek has filed to appeal.

    Perincek's Swiss lawyer, Prof Moreillon, submitted Perincek's petition to Lausanne Court of Appeals this evening.

    Moreillon also denounced judge Pierre Henri Winzap for using expressions about Perincek as "arrogant, provocateur, racist, nationalist" in the text of verdict.

    Perincek will not wait for the decision of appeal court and he will return to Turkey tomorrow.

    Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
    March 9 2007

    Swiss 'genocide' conviction unacceptable: Turkey
    Turkey described as unacceptable the conviction Friday by a Swiss court of a Turkish politician for denying that the World War I massacres of Armenians constituted genocide.

    "It is not possible for the Turkish people to accept this verdict," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement handed to Dogu Perincek, the leader of the minor left-wing Worker's Party.

    Earlier Friday, Perincek, 65, received a suspended jail sentence of 90 days or an equivalent fine from a Lausanne court as well as a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs (1,900 euros, 2,500 dollars).

    At a Turkish rally in Lausanne in 2005, the politician had described as an "international lie" that Armenians were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War I.

    Perincek was convicted under Swiss anti-racism laws, which were applied for the first time over the 1915-1918 massacres.

    The Turkish statement also criticised what it described as biased coverage of the case by the Swiss press which it charged amounted to attempts to influence the judiciary before the trial was over.

    "We hope this injustice will be corrected in the future stages of the legal process by the impartial and independent judges we believe exist in Switzerland," the Turkish statement added.

    Agence France Presse
    March 9, 2007

    Perincek: 'I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide'
    A Swiss court has convicted Turkish Labour Party leader Dogu Perincek for rejecting the Armenian claims.

    Marxist leader Dogu Perincek, 65, was on trial for remarks he made in a public speech in Lausanne in 2005. He was given a suspended sentence and fined $2,450 (£1,270).

    The Swiss parliament has labelled the 1915 killings as genocide, however it ignored that more than 520.000 Turkish villagers were massacred by the Armenian nationalists. Turkey firmly rejects the genocide allegation.

    Perincek, the head of the Turkish Labour Party, had denied the charges.

    "I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide," he told the court earlier this week.

    Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed in a so-called genocide by the Ottoman Turks during World War I, either through systematic massacres or through starvation. However the Ottoman documents show that the Armenian population at that time was less than 1.5 million.

    Turkey says there was no genocide. It acknowledges that many Armenians died, but says the figure was below 400,000.

    Twelve Turks prosecuted in Switzerland on similar charges in 2001 were acquitted.

    Journal of Turkish Weekly, Turkey
    March 9 2007

    Turkey expressed regret yesterday over the fact that a Swiss court found the leader of the neo-nationalist Turkish Workers' Party (IP), Dogu Perinçek, guilty for calling the alleged genocide of Armenians in 1915 an “international lie” during Turkish rallies in Lausanne two years ago, calling the court's ruling “unacceptable for Turkish people.” . .

    The Friday ruling by a criminal court in Lausanne makes Dogu Perinçek the first person sentenced under Switzerland's anti-racism law for denying the alleged genocide. In the past, a Bern court acquitted 12 Turks facing similar charges in 2001.

    The Lausanne court sentenced Perinçek to a 90-day suspended jail term and fined him 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,461) in line with the prosecutor's request. It also ordered Perinçek to pay a symbolic fine of 1,000 Swiss francs to the Swiss-Armenian Association for moral injury.

    The Foreign Ministry released a written statement yesterday within hours of the Lausanne court's decision in which it referred to the Article 261 bis of the Swiss Penal Code -- which makes punishable the public incitement to racial hatred or discrimination under which Perinçek is charged.

    "In addition to the fact that the subject of the case is inappropriate, groundless and unquestionably controversial in any event, the court's making such a decision -- despite the fact that many authorities and legal experts have stated that it is not possible to handle the plaintiff's allegations within the framework of the judgments of the Article 261 bis of the Swiss Penal Code -- brings up a lot of questions. It is not possible for the Turkish people to accept this decision," the statement said. "We hope that this unfairness will be rectified in the upcoming phases of the legal process regarding this case by impartial and independent judges and courts which we want to believe are present in Switzerland," the statement concluded.

    Meanwhile, news wires reported from Lausanne that Swiss Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap told the court Perinçek was an arrogant instigator and racist who had intentionally denied the "genocide," which Swiss public opinion considered as an established historic fact.

    Perinçek, who submitted 90 kg of historical documents, argued there had been no genocide against Armenians, but there had been reciprocal massacres. "I defend my right to freedom of expression. There was no genocide, therefore this law cannot apply to my remarks," he said in his opening statement on Tuesday. He told reporters he would appeal the sentence which he denounced as unjust, impartial and imperialist.

    Today's Zaman Ankara

    A Swiss district court has found a Turkish politician, Dogu Perinçek, guilty of racial discrimination for denying the 1915 Armenian massacre was genocide.

    The court in Lausanne agreed with the prosecutor's demand and handed Perinçek a suspended fine of SFr9,000 ($7,336) as well as a one-off financial penalty of SFr3,000.

    The court also ruled that Perinçek would have to pay SFr1,000 to the Swiss-Armenian Association as a symbolic gesture.

    The politician, whose left-wing Turkish Workers' Party has no seats in the Turkish parliament, was brought to court after calling the genocide "an international lie" during a public speech in Lausanne in July 2005.

    Under the Swiss penal code any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country's anti-racism legislation.

    And Lausanne is the capital of canton Vaud, one of two Swiss cantons along with Geneva where the parliaments have voted in recent years to recognise the Armenian massacre as genocide.

    Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap accused Perinçek of being "a racist" and "an arrogant provocateur" who was familiar with Swiss law on historical revisionism.

    According to Winzap, the politician's action "appears to have racist and nationalist motives". The Armenian genocide is "an established historical fact according to the Swiss public", he added.

    Perinçek's lawyers have called into question the authority of the district court to hear such a case. The Turkish politician said he would appeal against the verdict, which he called "racist and imperialist".

    He admitted in court earlier in the week that there had been massacres but said there could be no talk of genocide. "I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide," he argued.

    Armenians maintain the mass killings in 1915 were genocide, a charge Turkey disputes.

    We see it as a trial of freedom of thought
    Ferai Tinç, Hurriyet newspaper

    Sarkis Shahinian, co-president of the Swiss-Armenian Association, said there was "great relief" among the community. Shahinian said it was deplorable that the Turkish state had let itself get involved with ultra-nationalists like Perinçek.

    "It is a big problem. It is necessary that Turkey recognizes the genocide."

    Ferai Tinç, a foreign affairs columnist with Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper, told swissinfo the case had been widely followed in the country because it was the first time a Turkish citizen had been tried abroad for expressing their opinion.

    "We see it as a trial of freedom of thought, and freedom of opinion," Tinç said.

    "Whether we agree or not with Perinçek, we find these type of [penal] articles against freedom of opinion dangerous because we are struggling in our country to achieve freedom of thought."

    Tinç added that the decision to make Perinçek stand trial would "create a problem of confidence" between Switzerland and Turkey.

    Shaky ground
    Ties between Bern and Ankara are already on shaky ground.

    Tensions reached a peak in 2005 after Turkey criticised the Swiss authorities' decision to investigate Perinçek. Ankara followed it up by cancelling an official trip to Turkey by the then Swiss economics minister, Joseph Deiss.

    The next event to raise eyebrows was a visit to Turkey by Swiss Justice Minister Christopher Blocher last October when he announced that Switzerland's anti-racism legislation was incompatible with freedom of expression.

    The comments were welcomed by Ankara but caused a storm of protest in Switzerland.

    Blocher came in for renewed criticism by the media and some politicians last weekend when he received his Turkish counterpart Cemil Cicek in Bern. According to the justice ministry, bilateral issues – and not the trial – were discussed.

    On Friday Blocher said he did not want to comment on the trial directly, but did not expect the verdict to lead to a serious deterioration in Swiss-Turkish relations.


    Swiss court convicts Perinçek for denying alleged genocide
    March 10, 2007
    ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

    A Turkish politician was found guilty on Friday by a Swiss criminal court of denying the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, which is the first such conviction under Swiss law.

    Workers' Party (İP) leader Doğru Perinçek called the alleged genocide an “imperialist lie” during a speech in the Swiss city of Lausanne in July 2005.

    Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap sentenced him to a 90-day suspended jail term and fined him 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,461), in line with the prosecutor's request, the Swiss news agency ATS reported from the Lausanne criminal court.

    Perinçek, who submitted 90 kilograms of historical documents, said there had been no genocide against Armenians, but there had been “reciprocal massacres.” The 65-year-old politician, whose party has no seats in the Turkish Parliament, was convicted under a 1995 Swiss law, which bans denying, belittling or justifying any genocide. The maximum penalty is three years.

    The İP leader emphasized he would appeal the verdict, which he said was “full of hatred and biased,” at a higher Swiss court and said if he failed to get a result, he would go to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights, reported the Anatolia news agency.

    'There is No Freedom of Speech for Turks in Switzerland'
    09 March 2007
    A Swiss court found Turkish politician Dogu Perincek guilty on Friday of denying the so called mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 amounted to
    genocide, the first such conviction under Swiss law.

    Dogu Perincek, head of the leftist-Marxist Turkish Labour Party, called the branding of the killings as genocide "an international lie" during a speech in the Swiss city of Lausanne in July 2005.

    Judge Pierre-Henri Winzap sentenced him at the Lausanne criminal court to a 90-day suspended jail term and fined him 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,461), in line with the prosecutor's request, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

    He ordered Perincek to pay a symbolic fine of 1,000 Swiss francs to the Swiss-Armenian Association for "moral injury".

    Winzap told the court Perincek was an "arrogant instigator" and "racist" who had intentionally denied the genocide, which Swiss public opinion considered "an established historic fact". Perincek, like many Turks, argue that there is no proof for the Armenian claims. Thus it is now impossible to reject the Armenian accusations in Switzerland for anyone. Dr. Nilgun Gulcan names the new trend as 'shut-up-and-accept it approach'. "We as the Turks cannot defend ourselves bu have to accept what impose on us. Armenians accuse and they argue that there is no need to debate the accusations. The Western democracy is just for the white Western and Christian people. There is no need to say more. The verdict clearly show how the Swiss justice is just" she added. Gulcan also urged Turkey to cut all official and unofficial connecions with Armenia. "Armenia is not our neighbour. Armenia is under occupation of the Armenian diaspora. They undermine Turkish interests everywhere and Turkey should also undermine all Armenian interests anywhere. All illegal Armenian workers must be deported and all flights should be suspended by Turkey. We do not need Armenians." Mrs. Gulcan said.

    The 65-year-old Turkish politician, whose party has no seats in the Turkish parliament, was convicted under a 1995 Swiss law which bans denying, belittling or justifying any genocide.The maximum penalty is three years. However there is no international court verdict confirming Armenian claims. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul called the Armenian side to go to the international courts, yet Yerevan rejected the offer.

    Twelve Turks were acquitted of similar charges in 2001. Perincek, who submitted 90 kg (200 lb) of historical documents, argued there had been no genocide against Armenians, but there had been "reciprocal massacres". More than 520.000 Turkish and Kurdish Muslims were massacred by the Armenian nationalist groups during the First World War.

    "I defend my right to freedom of expression. There was no genocide, therefore this law cannot apply to my remarks," Mr. Perincek said in his opening statement on Tuesday.

    He told reporters he would appeal the sentence which he denounced as "unjust and impartial" and "imperialist".

    Prof. Sedat Laciner from USAK (Ankara) said "this kind of verdicts will not help Turkish-Armenian relations or Armenia. The verdict deepened Turkish mistrust towards the European Union and the West in general. The EU's biased and discriminative policies regarding the Armenian and Cyprus issues streghtened the isolationalist nationalism in Turkey".

    9 March 2007
    JTW News

    Swiss and Turkish press mull Perinçek verdict
    Dogu Perinçek, who returned to Istanbul on Saturday, says he will fight the verdict (Keystone)

    The Swiss media have taken a critical look at trial of Turkish politician Dogu Perinçek, found guilty on Friday of racial discrimination over Armenian genocide comments.

    In Turkey reactions were strong, with some newspapers condeming with the verdict. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was "saddened" by the trial's result.

    Perinçek was found guilty by a court in Lausanne, western Switzerland, of racial discrimination for denying the 1915 Armenian massacre was genocide. He was handed a suspended fine of SFr9,000 ($7,336).

    The politician, the head of the left-wing Turkish Workers' Party, came before the court after calling the genocide "an international lie" during a public speech in Lausanne in July 2005.

    Armenians maintain the mass killings in 1915 were genocide, a charge Turkey disputes.

    Under the Swiss penal code any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country's anti-racism legislation.

    The Turkish politician said he would appeal against the verdict.

    "Dogu Perinçek had to be punished," wrote the Zurich-based Tages-Anzeiger on Saturday, adding that Perinçek had deliberately provoked the trial. It also criticised Perinçek's "overbearing and arrogant behaviour".

    But it warned that the verdict was not water tight, raising doubts over whether the appeal court would follow the Lausanne judge's reasoning.

    Sense and nonsense
    Another Zurich newspaper, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), had mixed views.

    The trial had not made sense because a Turkish politician from a minor party had been judged on behaviour more relevant in his own country, it said. In addition the trial had given Perinçek a platform and blighted relations with Turkey.

    But the judge had also delivered a consistent judgement, despite being criticised for using historians' views rather than medical or technical knowledge, wrote the editorialist.

    "Nevertheless, the government is still free to avoid using the world "genocide" out of foreign (trade) considerations," it noted.

    The Geneva-based Le Temps described the judgement as one on memory.

    "The Lausanne judgement does not make history. It gives the Armenians a protection of [their] memory that has already been recognised for the Shoah victims," it wrote in its editorial.

    However, the mass-circulation Blick said it was time for the government to recognise the mass killings as genocide after the Lausanne court's "courageous" verdict.

    Referring to Swiss Justice Minister Christoph Blocher's controversial attempts to revise the racism law, Blick said Blocher would be better off recognising the genocide than changing legislation.

    "If he keeps on, the other six [cabinet members] should at least show him the red card for this totally unnecessary messing around," said the newspaper.

    For their part, Swiss Turks interviewed in the Basler Zeitung were restrained in their reaction, with most welcoming the trial as a way of opening up debate.

    Turkish reaction
    The press reaction comes a day after the Turkish Foreign Ministry sharply criticised the Lausanne verdict, saying it ignored "freedom of expression". In a statement, the ministry said the Swiss legal system and the press had been biased.

    "The court case was inappropriate, groundless and controversial in every sense ... The verdict cannot be accepted by the Turkish people," said the ministry in a statement on Friday.

    The Saturday editions of Turkish newspapers also had harsh words. The nationalist press was particularly critical.

    "Dishonourable Switzerland" screamed the headline of Gözcü, which went on to say that the verdict was another proof of European hypocrisy – Europeans underline the importance of freedom of opinion but were quick to condemn it.

    For its part, the right-leaning Yeni Cag newspaper wrote that Perinçek's verdict meant "the whole Turkish nation had been punished".

    Other parts of the media were less severe, but were still widespread in their coverage. Hürriyet quoted Perinçek as saying his trial had started a debate in Switzerland over how to judge historical events, but that he would go to the European Court of Human Rights with his case.

    March 10, 2007

    We never liked each other with Turkish Labor Party leader Doğu Perinçek. For years, the magazine under his direction targeted me, . has organized campaigns with incorrect and malevolent accusations. As much as Perinçek dislikes me, I dislike him reciprocally and do not sympathize with his approach and policies. We live in two separate worlds.

    All these aside, I applaud his stance on the Armenian genocide bill, which led him on a path to be tried at the Lausanne Court.

    In Switzerland, you are considered having committed a crime if you deny Armenian genocide. If you openly say this thought, then you are taken to court and punished with imprisonment. Perinçek became the first Turkish politician to stand up against this law.

    It is a rule in Turkey.

    We raise our voices against the Armenian genocide claims only within Turkey's borders. We are full of bravado. When it is time to take risks and come out in the open, you see no one around. No one wants to take risks. They even invite others and encourage others to take risks.

    Perinçek did not do this.

    On the contrary, he opposed the Swiss law. He said the Armenian genocide claims were an imperialist lie. Following this, he took even a more important step and did not run away from Switzerland. If he wanted to, he would not have gone to Switzerland and appeared in court. Perinçek went and faced the court.

    He gathered his nationalist friends and created a group called the “Talat Paşa Committee.” The members of the 160-member committee, which includes former Turkish Cypriot President Rauf Denktaş, are being tried in Lausanne at the moment. If they are found guilty, they will be punished with six months in prison, which can also be converted into a fine.

    No matter what happens, even if the prison sentence is limited to six months, even if it can be converted into a fine, this act takes a lot of courage.

    When I look at the media, I see no one is interested in the subject. Maybe they classify it as a political show before the elections and thereby pay no heed to it. However, we should pay Perinçek and his friends due respect. They could speak out loud on a subject about which nobody bothered to take any steps.
    March 9, 2007
    Mehmet Ali Birand

    In Switzerland, two law suits have been brought against Yusuf Halaçoğlu, a history professor and the Chairman of the Turkish Historical Association, and Doğu Perinçek, . the chairman of Turkish Labour Party upon their statements of “There is no Armenian genocide.” The suit about Perinçek will be held on March 6-7, 2007 in Lausanne. The result of the law suit has a great significance in terms of Turkey’s struggle against Armenian genocide lies. Talat Paşa Committee, an NCO struggling against Armenian lies in the international arena, made a call for Turkish political party leaders on the issue. Rauf Denktaş, the chairman of the Committee and the founder and the former President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus invited all political party leaders to participate in the hearings of the law suit in Switzerland. As ARMENIAN REALITY, we sincerely support his call and extend it to all sensitive Turks around the world.

    There is something that everybody can do about the absurd Swiss law. We urge our readers to join our campaign against the Swiss government and parliament. Please take a few minutes to send the following letter to the given e-mail addresses. And, inform your friends about the campaign.


    Honourable Councilor,

    With the enlargement of a law so as to punish those who deny the so-called Armenian genocide 11 years ago in Switzerland, Armenians, either personally or in groups, have started to open law suits against Turks or Turkish associations whom they qualify as "genocide deniers." As you know, the first of these law suits against 17 Turkish associations ended in acquittal in 2001. However, two more suits still continue.

    The first of these is opened against Doğu Perinçek, the chairman of Turkish Labour Party, and the other against Yusuf Halaçoğlu, a history professor and the chairman of Turkish Historical Association. The suits against them were opened on the grounds that they both publicly stated in Switzerland that “There is no Armenian genocide.” The suit against Perinçek will start in Lausanne on March 6-7, 2007. It is clear that whatever the decision, the Swiss-Turkish relations will be greatly harmed.

    The foundations of Turkish Republic were laid with a treaty in Lausanne in 1923. The fact that such a court case will be held in Lausanne, a city having such an emotional place in the hearts of Turkish people, is itself an indelicate issue. As a matter of fact, it is a historical fact that Turkey regards Switzerland as a model in many areas on its path to becoming a proud member of the civilized world. For instance, Turkish Civil Code, the foundation of Turkish legal system, was adopted in 1923 as a complete adaptation from the Swiss Civil Code.

    The said law injures all the Turks deeply especially when Switzerland’s special place in our hearts is considered. The same law also humiliates Switzerland in the world by ignoring the freedom of thought and expression. In fact, Mr. Blocher, the minister of Justice, too, stated that he found the law too harsh and pointed out the controversies between the law and the freedom of thought. Moreover, Armenian allegations are not compatible with the historical facts and there exists no local or international court verdict on the issue. It is also known that despite Turkey’s offer to form a joint commission of historians to study the issue and despite it opens its archives to all researchers, Armenia rejects the Turkish offer and still keeps its archives closed.

    Perinçek case presents an opportunity for the Swiss Parliament and the government to correct a wrong. I urge you to take an initiative to abolish the said law, which in the end, will also stop the conflict between the Turks in Switzerland and the Swiss, and which will carry the Swiss-Turkish relations to the maximum, as they were in the past.





    Les Arméniens, personnellement ou via des groupes, ont commencé à ouvrir des procès contre certains turcs et certaines associations turques qualifiés d’ « négationnistes », avec un projet de loi étendant la pénalisation de la négation du soi-disant génocide arménien il y a 11 années en Suisse. Le premier procès intenté contre dix-sept associations turques, comme on le sait, s’est soldé par un acquittement en 2001. Cependant deux procès similaires se poursuivent encore

    L’un d’entre eux est contre Doğu Perinçek, le chef du Parti turc des Travailleurs, l’autre contre le professeur Yusuf Halaçoglu, le directeur de l’Institut d’Histoire Turque (TTK). Ces deux personnes ont été poursuivies pour avoir qualifié les allégations arméniennes de "mensonge international" sur le sol suisse. Le procès de Perinçek commencera le 6-7 mars au Tribunal de police de Lausanne. Les relations turco-suisses vont en recevoir un grand coup, quelle que soit la conséquence du procès.

    La fondation de la République turques est basée sur le traité de Lausanne signé en 1923. Le fait que ce procès pareil sera jugé dans cette ville qui est d’une importance extrêmement sensibles serait un cas beaucoup plus blessant pour les Turcs. En effet, il est vrai que la Turquie, en voie d’un membre honorable du monde civilisé, a pris la Suisse comme modèle en plusieurs matières. Par exemple, les lois civiles adoptées qui constituent les bases de la loi turque ont été prises de la Suisse en 1926.

    La loi en question froisse tous profondément en dépit de la place de la Suisse dans le cœur du peuple turc. En outre, la loi est en train de humilier la Suisse auprès du monde entier faute de liberté de l’expression. En réalité, le ministre de la justice suisse Blocher avait jugé cette loi « exorbitante » et avait attiré l’attention sur les contrastes entre cette loi et la liberté d’expression. D’ailleurs, les allégations arméniennes ne se conforment pas aux vérités historiques et il n’existe aucune décision prise par des tribunaux internationaux ou locaux là-dessus. Bien que la Turquie propose de créer une commission conjointe composée d’historiens turcs et arméniens afin d’établir la réalité et que ses archives restent toujours ouvertes pour tous, il est évident que l’Arménie a rejeté cette proposition turque, et que les archives arméniennes restent toujours fermées.

    A l’occasion du procès de Perinçek, une chance de corriger une grande erreur a été soumise au parlement et gouvernement suisse. Je vous appelle à entreprendre d’abolir cette loi en question. C’est ainsi que la polarisation et la dissension parmi les turcs vivant en Suisse seront terminées et les relations turco-suisses seront au zénith comme jadis.

    Je vous prie, Messiuers, d’agréer mes salutations distinguées.


    E-Mail Addresses of the Commissions in the Swiss National Council

    APK.CPE@pd.admin.ch, RK.CAJ@pd.admin.ch, SIK.CPS@pd.admin.ch, wbk.csec@pd.admin.ch, SGK.CSSS@pd.admin.ch, UREK.CEATE@pd.admin.ch, KVF.CTT@pd.admin.ch, WAK.CER@pd.admin.ch, SPK.CIP@pd.admin.ch, Koeb.CCP@pd.admin.ch, spfa@pd.admin.ch, gpk.cdg@pd.admin.ch, gk.cj@pd.admin.ch, ingrid.haeni@pd.admin.ch, christine.muhlemann@pd.admin.ch, bek.cgra@pd.admin.ch, info@eda.admin.ch, zisp@eda.admin.ch, pd@eda.admin.ch, pa1@eda.admin.ch, pa2-Afrika-Naher-Osten@eda.admin.ch, dv@eda.admin.ch,

    E-Mail Addresses of the Members of Swiss National Council

    marianne.kleiner@swissonline.ch, pierrekohler@hotmail.com, kunz.josef@bluewin.ch, josef.lang@bluewin.ch, otto@agil.ch, ueli.leuenberger@parl.ch, filippo.leutenegger@medienarena.ch, slo@bluewin.ch, christian.levrat@syndicom.ch, a.Loepfe@bsg.ch, ruedilustenberger@bluewin.ch, mail@christa-markwalder.ch, werner.marti@bluewin.ch, kaelin-marty@bluewin.ch, hu.mathys@svp-ag.ch, maurer@svp.ch, liliane.maury@parl.ch, lucrezia.meier-schatz@parl.ch, acmenetrey@bluewin.ch, werner.messmer@messmer.ch, therese.meyer@freesurf.ch, miesch@mieschmotoren.ch, cmoergel@mhiz.unizh.ch, info@isabelle-moret.ch, info@geri-mueller.ch, mueller-philipp@wynspeed.ch, thomas.mueller@rorschach.ch, mueller.azmoos@bluewin.ch, vreni.mueller-hemmi@parl.ch, felix@mueri.info, cn@roger-nordmann.ch, ruedi@noser.com, walter-pagan@vtx.ch, guyparmelin@bluewin.ch, fabio.pedrina@parl.ch, pelli-fam@bluewin.ch, yvanperrin@neuch.ch, g.pfister@institut-pfister.ch, theophil.pfister@parl.ch, prechsteiner@access.ch, rechsteiner@rechsteiner-basel.ch, luc.recordon@span.ch, jean.claude.rennwald@unia.ch, jn.rey@bluewin.ch, andre.reymond@gc.ge.ch, kathy.riklin@parl.ch, jf.rime@despond.ch, meinrado.robbiani@ocst.com, stephane.rossini@bluewin.ch, maria.roth-bernasconi@parl.ch, info@claude-ruey.ch, hr@rutschmann.ch, pierre.salvi@parl.ch, geraldine.savary@bluewin.ch, lgb-luzern@bluewin.ch, s.schenk@smile.ch, info@silviaschenker.ch, info@marcel-scherer.ch, schibli.ernst@bluewin.ch, schluer@schluer.ch, walter.schmied@bluewin.ch, j.schneider@ammann-group.ch, ks-beratung@bluewin.ch, urs.schweizer@urs-schweizer.ch, siegrist@burglenz.ch, simoneschi.cortesi@chiara-simoneschi.ch, carlo.sommaruga@span.ch, nationalrat.p.spuhler@stadlerrail.ch, nationalrat@juergstahl.ch, luzi.stamm@parl.ch, steiner.lostorf@bluewin.ch, hans.stoeckli@biel-bienne.ch, heiner.studer@parl.ch, doris.stump@parl.ch, f.teuscher@bluewin.ch, anitathanei@bluewin.ch, g.theiler@dplanet.ch, p.triponez@sgv-usam.ch, pierre.vanek@solidarites.ch, rene.vaudroz@parl.ch, veillon@lecove.ch, ruth-gaby.vermot@bluewin.ch, daniel.vischer@bluewin.ch, peter.vollmer@voev.ch, waber.ch.wasen@bluewin.ch, sekretariat@edu-zh.ch, www.hansjoerg-walter.ch, hansruedi.wandfluh@wandfluh.com, wehrli@retowehrli.ch, hermann@weyeneth.ch, hanswidmer@parl.ch, info@walter-wobmann.ch, info@ursulawyss.ch, andreas.zeller@bluewin.ch, markus.zemp@yetnet.ch, info@zisyadis.com, bruno.zuppiger@zpag.ch, fabio@abatelegal.ch,evi.allemann@parl.ch, ruedi.aeschbacher@freesurf.ch, viola.amherd@rhone.ch, aamstutz@bluewin.ch, caspar.baader@bluewin.ch, elvira.bader@parl.ch, stadtpraesident@grenchen.ch, luc.barthassat@gc.ge.ch, mbaeumle@bluewin.ch, didier.berberat@ne.ch, ursbhg@bluewin.ch, duri.bezzola@parl.ch, roland.borer@bluewin.ch, info@tonibortoluzzi.ch, pascale.bruderer@parl.ch, brunfranz@bluewin.ch, tonibrunner@bluewin.ch, martine.brunschwig@parl.ch, buechler@linth.net, andre.bugnon@parl.ch, g.e.buehrer@bluewin.ch, didier.burkhalter@parl.ch, sep@cathomas.com, iosidirezione@iosi.ch, chevriermaurice@netplus.ch, daguet@unia.ch, christophe.darbellay@parl.ch, dominique.debuman@parl.ch, walter.donze@parl.ch, marlyse.dormond@parl.ch, www.jean-henri-dunant.ch, john.dupraz@parl.ch, ch_egerszegi@bluewin.ch, jacquessimon.eggly@parl.ch,engelberger.edi.sen@druckcenter.com, hugofasel@bluewin.ch, hildegard.faessler@bluewin.ch, jean.fattebert@freesurf.ch, charles.favre@parl.ch, auns@auns.ch, hjfehr@bluewin.ch, mail@jfehr.ch, mariofehr@gmx.ch, kurt.fluri@egs.so.ch, ofreysinger@bluewin.ch, therese.froesch@parl.ch, lieni@fueglistaller.net, chantal.gallade@bluewin.ch, valerie.garbani@ne.ch, ruth.genner@bluewin.ch, jrgermanier@jrgermanier.ch, u.giezendanner@bluewin.ch, iwglanzmann@bluewin.ch, jeanpaul.glasson@parl.ch, info@glur-walter.ch, christine.goll@bluewin.ch, maya.graf@parl.ch, edith.graf@parl.ch, info@andigross.ch, yves.guisan@hin.ch, paul.guenter@parl.ch,guenter.zbinden@popnet.ch,felix.gutzwiller@ifspm.unizh.ch, j.m.g@bluewin.ch, hansrudolf.gysin@kmu.org, info@gysinbasel.ch, brigitte.haeberli@bluewin.ch, barbara.haering@access.unizh.ch, ursula.haller@thun.ch,ahaemmerle@bluewin.ch,hany@greuterag.ch, hj.hassler@bluewin.ch,rolf@hegetschweiler.ch, bernhard.hess@schweizer-demokraten.ch, bea.heim@parl.ch, norbert.hochreutener@svv.ch, urs.hofmann@bhl.ch, gh@central-law.ch, vreni.hubmann@parl.ch, marianne.huguenin@bluewin.ch, ruth.humbel@santesuisse.ch, jasi-hutter@bluewin.ch, adriano.imfeld@parl.ch, otto.ineichen@ottos.ch, janiak@bluewin.ch, wjermann@bluewin.ch, rudolf_joder@joder.ch, francine.john@bluewin.ch, erwin.jutzet@bluewin.ch, kaufmann@kaufmann-research.ch, kienernellen@bluewin.ch, info@robert-keller.ch

    E-Mail Addresses of the Members of Swiss Council of States

    hans.altherr@gmx.ch, madeleine.amgwerd@parl.ch, michel.beguelin@parl.ch, alain.berset@bluewin.ch, peter.p.bieri@bluewin.ch, pierrebonhote@net2000.ch, cb@wbb.ch, peter.briner@tresura.ch, christiane.brunner@parl.ch, office@bhz-law.ch, r.buettiker@datacomm.ch, sepiney@bluewin.ch, rolf.escher@escher-roten.ch, a.fetz@bluewin.ch, sekretariat-sr-forster@bluewin.ch, hans.fuenfschilling@parl.ch, pierre-alain.gentil@sev-online.ch, hannes.germann@parl.ch, trix.heberlein@bluewin.ch, hans.hess@advokatur-hess.ch, hans.hofmann@bluewin.ch, h.inderkum@comed.ch, mailbilten@toneattiag.ch, alex.kuprecht@bluewin.ch, christiane.langenberger@parl.ch, hans.lauri@bluewin.ch, eleuenberger@bluewin.ch, helen.leumann@collano.com, lombardi@teleticino.ch, thmaissen@bluewin.ch, dick.marty@parl.ch, gisele.ory@parl.ch, thomas.pfisterer@parl.ch, maximilian.reimann@yetnet.ch, schiesser@rhslawyers.ch, carlo.schmid@bluewin.ch, urs.schwaller@parl.ch, rschweiger@schweigerlaw.ch, slongo-albrecht@tic.ch, simonetta.sommaruga@parl.ch, stadler.hansruedi@bluewin.ch, staehelin@fuererpartner.com, franz.wicki@starnet.ch,


    Lausanne, (AKI) - The trial of Turkish politician Dogu Perincek - who made comments in Switzerland denying the 1915 mass killings of Armenians was genocide - continued in a Lausanne court on Thursday, with statements from the defence and the prosecution. The trial, which is due to conclude on Friday, is a test case for Swiss anti-racism legislation. Prosecutor Eric Cottieri has called for a six-month jail sentence for 65-year-old Perincek if he is convicted.

    On the first day of the trial on Tuesday, Perincek, leader of the nationalist Turkish Workers' Party, reiterated remarks he made in a 2005 public speech in Lausanne describing the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as "an international lie". Perincek told the court what occurred were "killings on both sides," but that the Ottoman Turks did not perpetrate genocide against the Armenian people.

    The great powers of the day, especially Britain, had fuelled the genocide theory and such "progaganda" is being used in present times by the United States against Turkey, Perincek said. In statements made earlier this week to the Swiss newspaper Le Matin, Perinck said he had many World War I era documents from various countries that he would use in court to prove that what happened in Turkey in 1915 was not genocide.

    An estimated 150 supporters of Perincek held a silent protest in Lausanne on Tuesday to coincide with the start of the trial, the Swissinfo website reported.

    The Turkey daily Hurriyet newspaper reported that a large contingent of Perincek's supporters were barred from the courtroom and Turkish journalists were also denied access to the trial on the grounds that written accreditation had not been received beforehand.

    Under the Swiss penal code any act of denying, belittling or justifying genocide is a violation of the country's anti-racism legislation. Experts say the presiding judge at the district court in Lausanne will have to negotiate some tricky legal waters. Twelve Turks prosecuted in Switzerland on similar charges in 2001 were acquitted. Although the Swiss parliament recognises the World War I killings of the Armenians as genocide, neither the government nor the Senate does.

    Moreover, the case is set to test the already shaky relations between Bern and Ankara.

    In 2005, Turkey criticised the Swiss authorities' decision to investigate Perincek and later cancelled an official trip to Turkey by then economics minister, Joseph Deiss.

    The anti-racism legislation is itself a topic of debate in Switzerland. Justice minister Christoph Blocher, leader of the right-wing Swiss Popular Party, opposes the law, arguing it is incompatible with freedom of expression. In a controversial move, Blocher met his Turkish counterpart Cemil Cicek in Bern at the weekend.

    Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed in a genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War I, either through systematic massacres or through starvation. More than a dozen countries, various international bodies and many Western historians agree that it was genocide.

    Turkey disputes the World War I mass killings of Armenians as genocide. It acknowledges that many Armenians died, but says the figure was below one million.


    Swiss Prosecutors Seek Fine For Armenian Genocide Denial
    AP, AFP
    Prosecutors asked a Swiss police court Thursday to fine a Turkish politician 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,450) for denying that the killing of Armenians in the early 20th century was genocide.

    Dogu Perincek, the leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, was charged with breaking a Swiss law by rejecting that the World War I-era killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians amounted to genocide during a visit to Switzerland in 2005. He has since repeated his claim, including at his trial earlier this week.

    The case is seen as a test of whether denying that the Turks committed genocide is a violation of Swiss anti-racism legislation. The law has previously been applied to Holocaust denial.

    Prosecutors also sought a suspended fine of 9,000 francs ($7,360). A decision in the trial, which has strained Swiss-Turkish relations, is expected on Friday.

    Meanwhile, a Turkish man accused of firing in the air outside an Armenian church in Istanbul claimed Wednesday his real target had been Patriarch Mesrob II, the spiritual leader of the tiny Armenian community, the Anatolia news agency reported. "I had prepared it for (Mesrob) Mutafyan II," Volkan Karova shouted to reporters here as he and fellow suspect Yilmaz Can Ozalp were being escorted to the prosecutor's office to give their testimony, the agency reported.

    It was not clear whether he had intended to physically attack the patriarch or scare him. Later Wednesday, a court charged the two men with "threatening by firing shots" and "carrying an unlicensed gun" and sent them to jail pending trial, the agency said.

    The pair had been arrested late Sunday just hours after two men fired a shot in the air outside a church in the city's Kumkapi district. At the time, a ceremony was being held there for slain ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

    The ceremony at the church, on the European side of Istanbul, was to mark the 40th day since Dink, the 52-year-old ethnic Armenian editor of the bilingual Agos weekly, was shot dead outside his office. It was led by Patriarch Mesrob II, who represents the 80,000 Armenians in Turkey.

    Anxiety has engulfed the Armenian community and intellectuals since Dink's murder on Januray 19, and in recent interviews Mesrob II has said that his office had been receiving threats. Dink had angered nationalist circles and the courts for describing the World War I massacres of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide, a label that Ankara fiercely rejects. Nine people have so far been charged over his murder, which prosecutors believe was the work of ultra-nationalists.


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