- Abandon Genocide Law, Talat Pasa Tells France
- Challenging Ataturk's Legacy By Zvi Bar'el
- Armenian Resolution Debates In Us Have Turned Into A Kind Of Business
- Right And Wrong Yavuz Baydar
- The Barzani Chameleon by Kamal Said Qadir
- Resolution On Armenian Genocide Risks Foreign Policy Backlash Could Compromise Turkey's Role As Gateway For Supply Of U.S. Forces In Iraq By Joel J. Sprayregen
- Abant Platform Brings Together Intellectuals From France And Turkey
- Ara Tekian Describes The Journey Of A Lifetime: Climbing Ararat by Gary Rejebian
- Talat Pasha Movement To Protest Against Armenian Lies In Paris Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
- The New York Times Launched Web Site Dedicated To Armenia PanARMENIAN.Net
- Azerbaijani And Turkish Diasporas To Protest Against 'Armenian Genocide' Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
- Armenian Serving Life Time For Trying To Kill George W. Bush Wants To Convert To Islam ARMENPRESS
- Yusuf Halacoglu: If The Archaeological Diggings Found Bones Collected One On Another It Can Not Be Called Mass Burial Place Azeri Press Agency
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Proclaims Days of Remembrance of The Genocide
- ANCA: Support Grows For Armenian Genocide Resolution Among Members Of Key Defense, Intelligence And Foreign Affairs Committees
- Armenian Federation-Spain Calls On Authorities To Recognize Armenian Genocide
- Yet Another Illiberal Step By Europe On 'Genocide' Mustafa Akyol
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- "US Congress Armenian Genocide Resolution Will Have Opposite Effect" Today.Az
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- 'We Want To Become A Member Of European Family Of Nations,' Armenian PM Armenpress
- Armenian Historian Thinks, "Turkey Made A Step Towards Armenia" PanARMENIAN.Net
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- Turkish-Armenian Concert Canceled Due To Threats The New Anatolian
- The TARCification of Noble Goals? By Khatchig Mouradian
- Armenians and the Left Symposium Takes on Pressing Issues in Armenia and Turkey By Andy Turpin
- Genocide Denial in Texas University Exposed
- The Diaspora and the Armenian MediaBy Khajag Mgrditchian
- AATL Does It Again Leading Experts Take on Armenia's Media, Its Environment and Turkish-Armenian Relations
- Grassroots Campaign To End The Cycle Of Genocide WASHINGTON (A.W.)
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- Armenian Lobby Seeks ‘Genocide' Recognition In UK
- CHP Asks For Anti-So Called Genocide Committee
- Journalists Do Not Just Make Up Stories They Also Speculate
- Turkish Historian Cleared Of Charges For Declaring 'Genocide'
- Law On Double Citizenship Approved In Armenia And Its Potential Impacts
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- Letters To The Editor - Akhtamar Did Have A Cross! Turkish Daily News
- Who Should We Bet On In The French Presidential Elections?
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- Yusuf Halacoglu: Erdogan Should Demand 19 Countries To Ground Their Recognition Of ‘Armenian Genocide’
Abandon Genocide Law, Talat Pasa Tells France
Addressing a conference in Paris organised by the nationalist Talat Pasa Committee and the Paris Association for Kemalist Thought (ADD), Talat Pasa general secretary Ferit Ilsever said that France should abandon legislation that would make it a crime to deny the Armenian Genocide.
“Last week the Turkish Minister of Justice and Turkish Ambassador to Paris, Osman Korutürk, called to ask us to cancel the protest march we were planning in the Place de la Bastille, so as not to ‘provoke the French’. We have postponed it for now, but the protest will certainly take place in the near future, because we are of the belief that Turkey has backed down one too many times and lost far too much time in order not to provoke anyone. We have come together to tell people that the proposed law regarding the denial of Armenian Genocide is misleading the French public. The forced emigration that took place was in defence of the nation, there was no genocide, the nation was defending itself.”
Also attending the conference were Worker’s Party leader Dogu Perinçek, Prof. Dr. Zekeriya Beyaz, Prof .Dr. Kemal Alemdaroglu, former National Movement Party (MHP) MP Mehmet Gül, retired Lieutenant General Yasar Müjdeci, ex-Senator Servet Bora and Paris President of ADD Ali Riza Tasdelen.
Challenging Ataturk's Legacy
By Zvi Bar'el
He instructs the convoy of cars that escorts him to stop at every red light. With him there are no shortcuts. He pays from his own pocket for meals at the president's residence. He is careful, meticulous and easily insulted, to the point that he once left a dinner with the U.S. president when he thought he was seated too far away in a place below his status, which at the time was Supreme Court judge.
Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who will finish his term as Turkish president in a month, was not a ceremonial president as had been expected, when he was elected in parliament in 2000. He used every authority granted to him. He "hassled" the late prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, when the latter sought a law to allow the dismissal of government officials who displayed overly religious tendencies, or who were suspected of supporting the Kurds. Sezer, the man responsible for implementing the constitution, returned the bill initiated by the government because "when I was elected, I committed myself to upholding the supremacy of the law," he says. A law that would grant the government powers that are too broad would undermine the foundations of democracy as Sezer sees it.
Turkey got to know its outgoing president well, but as of two days ago, it did not know who its next president would be. None of the candidates has announced an intention to run. But today is the last day for declaring, before obtaining parliamentary approval on May 16. By today, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will have to decide whether he wants to be president.
The question is, does Erdogan want to be president, a position he could easily win given that 363 of the 550 members of parliament are from his party, the Party of Justice and Development, or will he let another member of the party run and continue to serve as prime minister?
As prime minister, Erdogan has very broad powers, far broader than the president. And when he looks ahead to the general elections in November, he must take into account that his party needs a charismatic figure like him to win the elections and repeat its achievement in the 2002 elections. On the other hand, the fact the representative of a religious party would be president of Turkey could be a historic challenge to Ataturk?s legacy, and it's possible Erdogan won't want to waive this pleasure.
A close associate of Erdogan and senior member of his party told Haaretz this past week that "there has to be a distinction between the party's political ambition and Erdogan's personal ambition. Erdogan wants to be president, without a doubt. The question is whether his personal ambition can wait another seven years until the next presidential elections, or will he want to realize his ambition now. From my knowledge of him, the man is not inclined to postpone satisfaction."
But even the associate acknowledges that the prime minister is holding his cards close to his chest. Last week he queried members of parliament, most of whom urged him to run for the post, but before the decision, pressure is growing in all directions.
"This coming Saturday (yesterday) I won't participate in the protest against Erdogan?s candidacy, and it's not because I have a bad cold," wrote the columnist Yusuf Kanli in the Turkish Daily News. Kanli is not an Erdogan supporter, but he feels that even the steps being taken by the extra-parliamentary opposition don't indicate a particularly democratic outlook.
Such a dubious step was taken last week by Erdogan Tezic, the president of the Council of Higher Education, one of the country's strongest bodies, whose members include the rectors of the universities. He announced that if at least 367 members of parliament did not attend the parliamentary session where the president is elected, the vote would not be legal. Tezic's interpretation was intended to discourage the opposition from showing up for the vote, preventing the members of the ruling party from winning the presidential election.
Tezic's interpretation doesn't have much support in parliament, but the interesting thing is the very involvement of the Council for Higher Education, a body with no status in the electoral process. The Council has thwarted Erdogan's plan to implement a religious agenda, as he promised before the elections. His intention was to allow the graduates of religious schools where religious clerics are trained to register for general studies at the universities. Erdogan hoped to give these graduates a path to government positions.
If Erdogan is elected president, he will have the authority to appoint the members of the Council of Higher Education, and will be able to change the entire education system.
Ostensibly, this is a theoretical danger, because at any stage the army can determine that Erdogan's actions may damage the secular foundations of the constitution and end his term as it did in 1997 to Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan. But in a situation where Turkey is trying to join the European Union, the army's ability to intervene is limited, and consequently the president's powers are greater.
Of course, not only the Council of Higher Education opposes Erdogan. Other opposition comes from rightist circles and from leftists, who see the president as a national symbol, and therefore don't want to see as the head of state a man in favor of a state with a religious character. To counter this claim, Erdogan's associates offer "proof" that his term as prime minister highlighted Turkey's abilities to bridge East and West.
Turkey did much to pave its way into the European Union, including amending the laws relating to Kurds, at the behest of Brussels. "We understand well what the limitations of the constitution are and we are working within this framework and not outside it," explains Erdogan's associate. "When you want to enlist more supporters in your ranks, you must realize that religious slogans alone will not help."
© Copyright 2007 Haaretz
Armenian Resolution Debates In Us Have Turned Into A Kind Of Business
The Turkish co-president of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), Kaan Soyak, has asserted that debates over the Armenian resolution in the US Congress have turned into a kind of industry and that groups earning large amounts of money from this business are exerting serious efforts to ensure the problems continue.
Soyak, noting that the re-opening of the Armenian Akhtamar church in Lake Van would lead to developments in Turkish-Armenian trade relations, also asserted that the Turkish government needs to better explain some of the investments it has made in the name of trying to come up with solutions to the ongoing problems.
Soyak, who works as a consultant on the Middle East for US security firms and who has been a frequent traveler between Turkey and Armenia, made a series of striking statements to Today’s Zaman about Turkish-US relations and about the “Armenian genocide resolution” before the US Congress. “If the resolution passes, it will harm both countries. Groups who don’t want to see reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia are keeping this subject on the agenda. The events that have thus far occurred have turned into an industry of sorts. There are great numbers of books, films and projects related to this subject. Both societies have formed organizations focusing on this issue that raise and collect funds. There is a diaspora that has created its identity out of the Armenian problem. This resolution is necessary for this community to stay alive. The passage of this resolution is necessary for them to carry on with their lives. I have been visiting Armenia now for the past 10 years. Armenia’s priority is not the passage of this resolution. Armenia’s priority is to open up the border crossing, but the diaspora won’t even mention this. Third parties who don’t even have a connection to this business are making money from it. Whenever the Armenian question rises to the agenda, certain people come knocking at Turkey’s door, trying to take advantage of certain subjects,” Soyak said.
Soyak pointed to the fact that Armenia itself has made no attempts to get the resolution before the US Congress passed, noting that this is a sign of how tied Armenia’s economic structure is to the existence of the diaspora. “They cannot say ‘no’ to the resolution because their economy is tied to a large extent to the outside world. It’s also important not to forget the large flow of money out of California and the Russia factor, too. Up until today Armenia has not been involved in any sort of effort to see this resolution passed. There aren’t even any Armenian officials who come here to lobby. If Turkey could reach an agreement with Armenia, Armenia could tell the diaspora not to get involved in the matter and say, ‘We are straightening out our relations.’ As for the diaspora, it has a need for Armenia. For Turkey to say it finally agrees with Armenia would mean that the diaspora’s most important point of solidarity would be erased. Which is why the diaspora wants to see the borders closed and for there to be no agreements made,” he stated.
While the Armenian diaspora has for years and years used the advantage of being in the US, the rising numbers in the Turkish population mean that it too will soon be a powerful entity in the US, Soyak noted. He also spoke about the considerable number of Turkish-US and Armenian-US friendship groups in the US Congress and then went on to make this unorthodox suggestion: “There are around 70 members of Congress in the Turkish-US friendship group, and around 170 congressment in the Armenian-US friendship group. If these 240 people could only come together, they could carry through on some serious work. This would also mean the possible passage of all sorts of decisions through Congress. There could in particular be some major steps in the textile sector. Turkey would be able to sell products without being limited by any quotas. It would also be possible to use Armenia’s experience in the textile trade. What the coming together of these two groups would form would be an Anatolian-US friendship group.”
He also mentioned the slogans shouted by crowds during the funeral proceedings for slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, noting that the controversial “We are all Armenians” was a significant gesture by the people. Soyak added that he could not understand the problems now between the two societies. He explained that he had participated in the New York ceremonies in memory of Dink, saying that there had been a remembrance service at an Armenian church on 35th Avenue on the 40th day after his death. He recalled: “I was the only Turkish person attending the program. It was a ceremony that included images from Dink’s funeral in Istanbul, when people were shouting slogans; there was also halva passed around. There are no other Christian groups that pass out halva after a funeral. I do not understand how two societies which so resemble each other could have so many problems.”
Soyak also spoke about how he watched the Turkey-Brazil match in the Armenian capital and related an interesting experience from that day: “I watched the Turkey-Brazil match in Yerevan. At the hotel I was staying in, the foreign diplomats were all supporting Brazil. As for the Armenians, they wanted the Turks to win. I passed out Turkish T-shirts I had with me to the Armenians watching the match. Everyone put on their T-shirts, and starting yelling ‘Turkey!’”
The earthquake disaster Turkey experienced in 1999 brought the two countries’ relations closer together, said Soyak. “The first offer of help after the 1999 earthquake came from Armenia. Armenia was going to send an airplane full of personnel and rescue assistance. The government we had at the time rejected this assistance. At that point the military’s General Staff got involved and arranged for the aid from Armenia to be sent. At the same time Turkish citizens living in the US carried out an assistance campaign to help those affected by the earthquake in Turkey, raising $600,000. But ethnically Armenian US citizen Kirk Kerkorian on his own donated $1 million to the earthquake disaster. The Turkish ambassador in Washington at that time knew about this. The assistance was sent through the Red Cross,” he noted.
Soyak noted that while he has found recent efforts by the Turkish government with regards to bettering relations with Armenia positive, he still thinks Ankara needs to learn how to explain more clearly what steps it is taking. The business points to places like Akdamar Island in Van Like and Ani near the Armenian border as places critical for the development of not only dialogue but trade. If Turkey’s trade relations with Armenia increased, asserted Soyak, all the other problems would also be easier to deal with. “At this point, we have an annual $100 million worth of trade with Armenia. If the borders were opened up, this would climb to $400 million annually, and it would contribute much to bilateral relations,” he said.
He also spoke about a group trip made by 150 Armenians to Turkey in 2001 and how this group all went to Lake Van, filled plastic bottles with water from the lake and took them back to the US. He noted: “We asked 250 people coming to Armenia from the Armenian diaspora, ‘If the borders with Turkey were open today, would you want to go to places like Akdamar and Ani?’ Everyone answered ‘yes.’ I heard straight from the mouth of Alparslan Turkes, ‘When the Turks arrived in Anatolia in 1071, the Armenians took them in and together they fought against the soldiers from the Roman Empire’.”
Soyak said his organization has seen support from every faction and that they base their views as being against anything which creates problems between Turkey and Armenia. “We don’t have any political beliefs as an organization. When we come together with our Armenian members, we don’t discuss history. There is a need for reconciliation and for these two peoples to get to know each other better. Turkey is a great nation. Great nations make gestures. Opening up the borders with Armenia would be one such gesture. Since Turkey is such a large nation, it could clarify the conditions under which it would do this.”
Who is Kaan Soyak?
Co-president of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), Kaan Soyak was born in 1961. Founder and partner in Alyans-Tempo Shipping and Seafaring Company, he is also a consultant for a variety of US security firms in the Middle East, as well as a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Security Council Board. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Soyak organized the delivery of the first humanitarian aid shipments made by the US to countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus. He also set up the first Turkish-Russian partner firm and brought the first Russian capital investment into Turkey. He has been working on Turkish-Armenian relations since 1996. He took key role in starting up relations between Yerevan and Ankara after Armenia’s independence and also in helping organize the first meetings between members of the Armenian diaspora and the Turkish government. Soyak has been credited by both the Turkish and the Yerevan administrations for being someone to help relations between both countries and their people. He also bridged ties between the US-based TABDC-US and the Europe-based TABDC-EU. Soyak is a graduate of the Middle East Technical University’s (ODTÜ) International Relations Department.
MEHMET DEMIRCI NEW YORK
Right And Wrong
Yavuz Baydar firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The Barzani Chameleon
by Kamal Said Qadir
Middle East Quarterly
On September 11, 1961, Iraqi Kurds under the leadership of Mulla Mustafa Barzani, founder of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and father of the current Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, rose in rebellion against Iraq's central government. Kurds often portray the event as spontaneous. It was not.
A declassified KGB document suggests Soviet involvement in the Kurdish rebellion was part of a Kremlin plan to disrupt Western interests in the Third World. The Kurds provided fertile ground for Soviet intrigue because of Barzani's ties to Soviet authorities. After the collapse of the Mahabad Republic in Iran, Barzani took refuge in the Soviet Union.
On July 29, 1961, KGB chairman Alexander Shelepin suggested to Nikita Khrushchev, the secretary general of the Soviet Communist Party, to have Barzani (code-named Ra'is, Arabic for president) "activate the movement of the Kurdish population of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey for creation of an independent Kurdistan." If successful, the rebellion could disadvantage not only the United States and Great Britain but also U.S. allies Turkey and Iran.
After the Kurdish rebellion began, the KGB sought to further exploit the situation:
P. [Peter] Ivashutin to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. September 27, 1961, St.-199/10c, 3 October 1961, TsKhSD, fond 4, opis 13, delo 85, ll. 1-4.
In accord with the decision of the CC CPSU of 1 August 1961 on the implementation of measures favouring the distraction of the attention and forces of the USA and her allies from West Berlin, and in view of the armed uprisings of the Kurdish tribes that have begun in the North of Iraq to: 1) use the KGB to organize pro-Kurdish and anti-[Abdul Karim] Kassem protests in India, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Guinea, and other countries; 2) have the KGB meet with Barzani to urge him to "seize the leadership of the Kurdish movements in his hands and to lead it along the democratic road," and to advise him to "keep a low profile in the course of this activity so that the West did not have a pretext to blame the USSR in meddling into the internal affairs of Iraq"; and 3) assign the KGB to recruit and train a "special armed detachment (500-700 men)" drawn from Kurds living in the USSR in the event that Moscow might need to send Barzani "various military experts (Artillerymen, radio operators, demolition squads, etc.)" to support the Kurdish uprising.
While the Ivashutin document refers only to Barzani's relationship with the KGB in the run-up to and wake of the 1961 rebellion, other declassified material suggests ties between the Barzani family and Soviet authorities to have a long history. In 1973, though, the KGB severed its relationship with Barzani after the Baath Party and Iraqi Communist Party formed a tenuous alliance and Baghdad established close military and economic ties with the Soviet Union. Deprived of Soviet support, Barzani allied himself more closely with the United States, Iran, and Israel. However, in 1975, Henry Kissinger pulled the rug out from the Kurdish rebellion when he brokered a border and non-interference pact between Iran and Iraq. Mulla Mustafa Barzani took refuge in the United States where he died in 1979.
How is this episode relevant today? Switching alliances is part of the Barzani family political culture, intertwining survival and power with Kurdish nationalism. Between 1980 and 1988, Masoud Barzani allied himself with Iran in its fight against Saddam, even as the revolutionary authorities in Iran turned their guns on Iranian Kurds. After long hostility to Turkey, in 1992, he allied with Ankara in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, PKK); in 1996, he allied with Saddam Hussein against rival Kurdish leader (and current Iraqi president) Jalal Talabani. In the wake of Iraq's liberation in 2003, Barzani has portrayed himself as a U.S. ally. For how long, though, remains unclear.
Kamal Said Qadir is an Iraqi Kurdish writer based in Vienna, Austria. He was detained by KDP security forces on October 26, 2005, for criticizing corruption within the KDP and was released months later after an international campaign.
 Masoud Barzani, Al-Barzani wa al-Haraka at-Taharurya al-Kurdya. Al-Juz ath-Thalith: Thawrat Aylol, 1961-1975 (Erbil: Matbaat Al Tarbia, 2002), pp. 21-41.
 Pavel Sudoplatov and Anatolii Sudoplatov with Jerrold L. Schecter and Leona P. Schecter, Special Tasks: The Memoirs of an Unwanted Witness—A Soviet Spymaster (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1994), pp. 259-64.
 Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive II: The KGB and the World (London: Allen Lane, 2005), p. 175.
 Reproduced in Vladislav M. Zubok, Spy vs. Spy: The KGB vs. the CIA, 1960-1962 (Cold War International History Project Bulletin), Fall 1994, pp. 22-33.
 For more about the history of the Barzani family, see Ayob Barzani, Al-Muqawama al-Kurdya wa al-Ihtilal, 1914-1958 (Geneva: Editions Orient-Realites, 2002), pp. 35-59.
 See, for example, "Kurdish Efforts to Recruit International Support," declassified CIA document, Mar. 29, 1972; Oles M. Smolansky with Bettie M. Smolansky, The USSR and Iraq: The Soviet Quest for Influence (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991), pp. 79-80.
 Smolansky, The USSR and Iraq, pp. 76-98.
Resolution On Armenian Genocide Risks Foreign Policy Backlash Could Compromise Turkey's Role As Gateway For Supply Of U.S. Forces In Iraq
April 7, 2007
By Joel J. Sprayregen
Congress is on the verge of inflicting a devastating blow to U.S. foreign policy. At issue is a resolution introduced in the House of Representatives that brands as genocide the deaths and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Turkey is the gateway for supply of U.S. forces in Iraq as well as supplier of basic necessities -- food, water, gas, electricity -- to Iraq. Turkey has been a staunch American ally in NATO; Turkish forces play an important role in Afghanistan.
Passage of the resolution -- which Turks see as officially adjudging them to be a nation of barbarians -- will produce popular indignation that no Turkish government could ignore. As Professor Soner Cagaptay of Princeton University says, ''This backlash would inevitably cripple U.S.-Turkish military cooperation.''
The modern Turkish Republic, successor to the Ottoman Empire within shrunken borders, is the only Muslim country in the Middle East that maintains a functioning democracy. Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia. Passing a self-serving resolution condemning Turks for horrific things that occurred 90 years ago would alienate an important ally without achieving anything of substance for the United States. An American rebuff, added to recent European actions hostile to Turkey, would only strengthen malign anti-Western Islamist and nationalist minorities in Turkey.
Armenians contend 1.5 million or more people were systematically killed between 1915 and 1923. Turks say a far smaller number of people died, not by deliberate extermination, but as a consequence of a brutal war in which Armenians were deported because they sided militarily with invading Russians. There is no doubt that large numbers of Armenians suffered terrible deaths and deportations; Muslim civilians were also ravaged.
The weight of opinion outside Turkey has favored Armenian claims. But Chris Morris, British author of The New Turkey, says: ''Both sides produce stacks of documents to back up their arguments . . .'' Respected historian Guenter Lewy concludes, ''The primary intent of the [Ottoman] deportation order was undoubtedly not to eradicate an entire people but to deny support for the Armenian guerrilla bands and to remove Armenians from war zones.'' The tragic consequences for Armenian civilians should be remembered. But politicians have no qualifications to judge Ottoman intentions nine decades ago.
Similar congressional resolutions have failed to pass in recent years. The reason the current resolution is being pushed by more than 160 House co-sponsors is that the November elections empowered California Democrats, and there are many Armenian Americans residing in California and elsewhere who are actively lobbying. They deserve respect for keeping alive the memory of what happened to their ancestors, but not at the price of rupturing relations with a key American ally.
Turkish Americans are too few to lobby effectively. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ignoring concerns persuasive to prior House leadership, has scheduled a rushed vote for this month. Pelosi should ask the Department of Defense what would happen if Turkey curtailed co-operation with U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
There is much Turkey can do to prevent congressional resolutions from becoming a perennial irritant, e.g., tempering anti-American propaganda in media close to the ruling AKP party and increasing protection of human rights. Turkey is not improving its image by cozying up to Hamas terrorists.
But passage of this resolution would inflict a major foreign policy disaster on America by rupturing relations with a country vital to execution of our foreign policy.
Chicago lawyer Joel J. Sprayregen participates annually in a symposium in Istanbul to advance civil society in Turkey.
Abant Platform Brings Together Intellectuals From France And Turkey
The second `Turkey-France Conversations,' the first of which was held in Paris in 2006, organized by the Abant Platform, began yesterday at the İstanbul Hilton.
A large number of academics, journalists and representatives of nongovernmental organizations from both countries were in attendance on the first day of the meeting, titled `Perceptions and Realities.' During the two days of meetings, participants are discussing important issues, from concepts to the media, from economics to identity problems, from education to secularism and from politics to history. Participants will deliver their papers in sessions titled `Education and Culture,' `Religion and Secularization,' `Republic, Secularism and Democracy' and `Society and Identity Problem: Openings, Closings and Media"
The opening speeches of the meeting were delivered by Professor Niyazi Öktem, a member of the administrative board of the Abant Platform, Professor Mete Tunçay and Jean-Louis Schlegel, editor in chief of the French magazine Esprit. During the first panel discussion titled, `History, Yesterday and Today: Rights and Wrongs,' Galatasaray University's Kenan Gürsoy, Professor Jean Pierre Azema from the School of Political Sciences in Paris, Le Monde Editor in Chief Sophie Gherardi, journalist-author Orhan Koloğlu and Professor Zafer Toprak from Boğaziçi University addressed the audience.
Professor Azema said that both parties had to reveal everything in the archives to be able to overcome the crisis over the alleged Armenian genocide by the Ottoman state, a claim that caused tension between Turkey and France. `People should get together to carry out detailed studies on the subject. Lists should be made based on documents and archives. And countries should contribute to the mutual studies,' Azema noted.
Le Monde's Gherardi talked about the viewpoint on Turkey held by the newspapers in France by giving examples from her own newspaper. `Turkey is an interesting country. It has been of interest to France for a long time. Le Monde has closely followed the political instabilities, problems, elections, military coups and the course of the Kurdish problem in Turkey in detail. Modern Turkey is in fact not being subjected to unfair treatment,' Gherardi noted.
Gherardi stressed that the Turkish economy was regularly covered by Le Monde. `There is a certain amount of enthusiasm for Turkey. People sympathize with this rapidly developing economy. We even envy Turkey. France has been living under a weak economic regime for 15 years,' she said.
She further noted that there were now positive articles published by French newspapers, particularly by Le Monde, on Turkey's EU membership process, and added: `The sympathy for Turkey is very visible in the columns. The comments made on Turkey's EU process almost always recall the promises made and not kept by the EU. Such columns confess that the EU did not remain loyal to its commitments, [acting] in a hypocritical way. Le Monde too, supports Turkey's full membership. A Turkey close to France is being looked at with deep sympathy.' In addition she recalled that there were also some news reports and columns in which French journalists gave Turkey advice. `They tell Turkey what to do: `If you want to join the EU and elevate [yourselves] to the level of the democratic nations, of whom we are the representative, do this and that',' the editor in chief of Le Monde said.
Profesor Öktem, a member of the board of the Abant Platform, said the meeting was meant to foster relations between France and Turkey. He said important people from both nations had attended the meeting, put on with support from the French Embassy. `Turkish-French relations date back 500 years ago. Our goal is to take the relations out of the current context spoiled by sentimental approaches and reveal what the real importance of the ties between the two countries is.'
Today's Zaman İstanbul
Ara Tekian Describes The Journey Of A Lifetime: Climbing Ararat
by Gary Rejebian
CHICAGO, IL – Some people dream of going to the moon. But for two prominent Armenians already at the peak of their careers, the journey of a lifetime led them to the summit of Mt. Ararat. In an engaging talk at the AGBU Chicago Center on March 4, medical education specialist Dr. Ara Tekian, a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, described the pilgrimage that he and epidemiologist Haroutune Armenian (President of the American University of Armenia [AUA]) made to Ararat last August, delivering a riveting presentation illustrated by more than 300 images. The two professors were joined by Dr. Armenian’s wife Sona, Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan (assistant professor of Public Health at AUA) and her husband Arsen Krikoryan, and Dr. Arthur Melkonyan (a former professor of Public Health at AUA).
For Tekian, who in his childhood began drawing Ararat and even dreamed of discovering Noah’s Ark, the sojourn to the summit had become especially compelling in the last dozen years during which he had made annual trips to Armenia to teach a course at AUA. He and Dr. Armenian thus decided the best way to celebrate the 15th anniversary of both Armenia’s independence and the founding of AUA was “to raise the Armenian flag on Mt. Ararat.” For the group of six Armenians making their way through eastern Turkey, however, not only the climb but the trip there and back became a spiritual journey. Coming to the mountain required a more than 500-mile drive to and from Yerevan – all to reach a destination that was less than 50 miles away as the crow flies. Regional politics are, of course, in the driver’s seat for the entry into Turkey from Armenia, with the group having only two options to reach Ararat from Yerevan: either travel through Iran, or take their selected route north to Georgia to double back along the sealed Armenian-Turkish border, which would afford them the chance to visit the ruins of three of the most significant locations in Armenian history.
Their pilgrimage began six months prior with extensive training to prepare for the strenuous climb.
You need to brainwash yourself that it’s possible…
“The commitment to climb Mt. Ararat is both mental and physical,” Tekian commented. “Mentally, you need to brainwash yourself that it’s possible. Then, physically, you need to be in great shape.” Tekian began dieting and exercising daily. He took a cardiac stress test. His colleagues suggested “spending a night in your garden,” so the cosmopolitan Beirut-born academician could decide whether he could endure camping outdoors in the rocky terrain. During the Chicago lecture, Tekian gleefully showed a photo of the bathroom facility at the first campsite: a hole in the ground behind a lean-to tarp. (Higher up, he says, “it’s all barren and there is no place to hide.”) Meanwhile, Sona Armenian secured an official government permit for the climb – a process that takes at least three months – and made arrangements with a tour company that provided a guide, a van from the town of Dogubeyazit (the only starting point allowed by the Turkish government), and horses for the first two stages of the ascent to 10,560 and 13,800 feet, where there were campsites along the way. They had a different Kurdish guide for each elevation and campsite. The final hike started at 2:00 a.m. and they were at the peak (17,040 feet) at 6:30 a.m. Once at the summit, “the sense of achievement and pride was overwhelming,” Tekian said. “You feel so blessed and empowered – we were no longer looking upward to see the peak: we were at the peak. The first thing I did was to thank God for giving me the strength and opportunity to realize this dream. I prayed for my [late] parents who had always inspired me to visit historic Armenia one day. I prayed that my sisters, niece, nephew, and close friends could one day climb this mountain. So that was the first five minutes.” “We had plans to dance an Armenian folk dance and to drink the Armenian cognac that Arthur had carried all the way up, but we only had some iyran (yogurt diluted with water) because of the altitude.
The temperature was minus 30 Fahrenheit, and our fingers were freezing in the wind. We stayed only 20 minutes. You can see three countries from the peak: we spotted Turkey and Iran, but it was foggy over Armenia so we could not see Yerevan.” Tekian explained that descending the mountain is more difficult than climbing; their return took them almost 12 hours. Along their way, they encountered two other groups: a large group of Iranians descending at the second campsite (13,800 ft), and another six Britons camping an extra day for acclimatization. On the way home, the group continued tracing their cultural roots by visiting four illustrious relics in Armenia’s glorious past: the ruins of the 1st-century royal capital of Ani, the Varagavank monastery (former repository for a fragment of Christ’s crucifixion cross) and the Holy Cross Church of Aghtamar at Van, and the once cultured, diverse and wealthy city of Kars. While not expecting to find any breath of Armenian life among 1,000-year-old ruins, the natural and especially the man-made desecration to the sites stirred passions in them for all that had been lost in the Armenian culture.
Among the ruins of Ani
“After seeing the most beautiful churches in Ani totally destroyed, we were repulsed by the lack of effort to save these precious historical monuments,” Tekian lamented. “Ani has for centuries been a ghost town, but since the area is declared a Turkish military zone, no excavations can be done. The Turkish government has not taken any measure to protect this world treasure. Negligence and vandalism have taken a heavy toll on Ani’s monuments.” Indeed, on four consecutive occasions from 1996 to 2002, the World Monuments Fund listed Ani among the “100 Most Endangered Sites” on its World Monuments Watch. Only one other site ever, in Serbia, had been listed as many times. Especially in the last 30 years, the Armenian monuments of Turkey have also been subjected to cultural cleansing of their Armenian origins. “There was no mention either at the gate of Ani or in the directory of the history of Ani that this city had been the capital of Armenia a thousand years ago.
It was almost unreal to see so many churches renamed as mosques, and their Armenian identities just obliterated. This is the moment that your ‘Armenian-ness’ comes to a climax: when you decide you need to do something – anything – to protect your rich heritage.” In the end, having reached a pinnacle and nadir in feelings about his ethnic identity, would Tekian say the trip was really worth a mere 20 minutes of wind-chilled ecstasy followed by desolation and heartbreak? “This trip was a spiritual journey, climbing a sacred mountain and visiting some of the most important religious centers in Western Armenia. It was a pilgrimage for me to trace my roots,” Tekian reflected. “Dreams do come true! Finally I climbed Mt. Ararat, and when the journey was over, I was a different person. I acquired such strength that gave me confidence, courage, and determination that there is nothing impossible in life. I now believe you can conquer any height and overcome any difficulty in life if you have the determination.”
Talat Pasha Movement To Protest Against Armenian Lies In Paris
Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
April 13 2007
Rally and conference exposing Armenian lies on so called "Armenian genocide" are to be held in Paris, APA's Eastern Europe bureau reports. Turkish Worker's Party and Talat Pasha Movement will hold a rally and conference in protest against the French National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) law making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered Turkish savageries and Armenian historical crimes.
Azerbaijani and Turkish community representatives from Europe and Turkey will arrive in the French capital on this occasion. The conference is to be held in "Eurosites Plaine Saint Denis" Centre in Paris. After presidential elections in France, the Talat Pasha Movement chaired by Rauf Denktas, former president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will hold a rally to Bastille in the centre of Paris.
The New York Times Launched Web Site Dedicated To Armenia
13.04.2007 The New York Times has launched a web site dedicated to Armenia. 1915 Genocide Bracelet (www.myarmenianpride.com) tells about Armenia's history since ancient times up to present day. Special attention is paid to the history of the Armenian Genocide and Armenia's fate after the World War I, when the Turkish government concluding an agreement with Soviet Russia consigned to oblivion U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's plan which provided for conveyance of 6 Turkish provinces, including Kars and Ardahan, to Armenia.
Last week The New York Times corrected an article which mentioned of the Armenian Genocide. The editorial staff changed term 'massacre' into term 'genocide' that will be henceforth used in all articles concerning the events of 1915.
Azerbaijani And Turkish Diasporas To Protest Against 'Armenian Genocide'
Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
April 13 2007
Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora organizations intend to hold a series of protests against 'Armenian genocide' campaigns supported by Armenian lobby in the US, Oya Bain, chairman of Assembly of Turkish American Associations told APA's US bureau.
Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora organizations are going to hold a huge demonstration in the New-York's Time Square as well as outside Armenian Embassy in US on April 22.
The protest rallies are aimed to draw attention to the atrocities committed by Armenian armed forces in Anatolia, Turkey in the beginning of last century and in Nagorno-Karabakh province of Azerbaijan in the end of the 20th century. Special posters and photos will be demonstrated in the rally. The demonstrations are to bring together about 1000 participants.
Armenian Serving Life Time For Trying To Kill George W. Bush Wants To Convert To Islam
Apr 13 2007
Tbilisi: An ethnic Armenian citizen of Georgia, Vladimir Harutunian, sentenced by a court to life in prison for attempting to kill U.S. President Bush and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili while they were addressing a public audience on Freedom Square in central Tbilisi on May 10, 2005, said he would like to convert to Islam, his lawyer Onise Mebonia revealed after visiting the 31 year-old man in a Georgian tight security prison.
Harutunian was arrested in Tbilisi on July 20, 2005 after a shootout with Georgian police that resulted in the death of Col. Zurab Kvlividze, head of the Georgian Interior Ministry's counterintelligence department. He was wounded in the shootout receiving three not life-threatening bullets.
The shootout and detention occurred in the village of Vashlisdzhvari, outside the capital, Tbilisi. The man lived in an eight-story apartment building with his mother, and was unemployed. The police operation came two days after authorities released a photograph of a man suspected of throwing the grenade, which failed to explode, at a podium where Bush was speaking May 10 before tens of thousands of people. The grenade landed less than 100 feet from the podium but did not explode.
Harutunian's lawyer said the man would like to start also practicing Yoga, but complained to her of the prison authorities who would provide him with relating literature. He also demanded a permanent telephone contact with his mother.
Yusuf Halacoglu: If The Archaeological Diggings Found Bones Collected One On Another It Can Not Be Called Mass Burial Place
Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
April 13 2007
"In Turkey archaeologists are in charge of carrying out diggings in the mass burial places. But before the diggings archive materials are researched, the eye- witnesses of the events, grandchildren of massacred people are interviewed," director of Turkish History Agency Yusuf Halajoghlu exclusively told APA. Yusuf Halajoghlu shared some details of researching mass burial places.
"After researches archaeologists work in the burial places. The archaeological research of mass burial places should be conducted very cautiously. The most characteristic feature of mass graveyards is that they scattered in dispersed form. If the archaeological diggings found the bones collected one on another it can not be called mass burial place".
Yusuf Halajoghlu said it is very important that bones found in dispersed form. "If the bones are found row by row it can be thought that dead bodies are buried immediately. When the bones are found in that form it can not be called mass graveyard Arzurum and Van Universities have scholars specialized in the researching of mass burial places. If there is need, we engage them in the research works. The diggings process should be approached very carefully using special archaeological instruments". Yusuf Halajoghlu said archaeological diggings will be carried out in Mardin in connection with so-called 'Armenian genocide'. "There are evidences that Mardin has mass graveyards. As you know some Swedish MPs claimed that surianis were massacred in Mardin. MP from Sweden David Lant accepted to join diggings in that territory. We even agreed to send the archaeological findings to be researched in international laboratory.
We are waiting for research results now," the historian underlined.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Proclaims Days of Remembrance of The Genocide
April 22nd - April 29th, 2007, as "Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide" PROCLAMATION by the Governor of the State of California
Between the years 1915 and 1923, during the chaos of World War I, over one million Armenian men, women and children living within the Ottoman Empire's borders were killed; forcing hundreds of thousands of Armenians to flee to foreign countries after being stripped of their possessions, their national identities and their homeland.
Scores fled to the United States, and California was fortunate to become home to one of the largest populations of Armenians outside the Republic of Armenia. Many of California's Armenian-American families are the descendents of these courageous genocide survivors, whose hope for a life independent war and violence was realized on our soil. Like their family members before them, the Armenian-American community bravely flourished and contributed much to our state and nation.
Documented as the first instance of genocide in the twentieth century, the Armenian Genocide remains unacknowledged to this day. I strongly echo the sentiments that all nations must examine their own painful histories, as the denial of genocide further wounds a nation's ability to heal. Though over ninety years have passed since these mass killings took place, present day atrocities resonate throughout the world. It is our responsibility to recognize the brutal slayings of so many innocents, remembering their suffering and vowing to help prevent future genocides.
I join California's Armenian-American communities and all Armenians worldwide in remembering those who were killed and persecuted during the Armenian Genocide, and urge people throughout the world to never forget these horrific crimes against humanity.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim the week of April 22nd through April 29th, 2007, as "Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide."
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have here unto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 6th day of April 2007.
GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA
Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Lisa Kalustian, Chief Deputy Director
300 South Spring Street, Suite 16701
Los Angeles, CA 90013
ANCA: Support Grows For Armenian Genocide Resolution Among Members Of Key Defense, Intelligence And Foreign Affairs Committees
-- Senior Republican on House Armed Services Committee Supports Passage of Resolution
WASHINGTON, DC - In letters circulated today to Members of the House of Representatives, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) highlighted the growing support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution among members serving on Congressional committees dealing with America's defense capabilities, intelligence community, foreign policy, and homeland security.
"We are deeply gratified by the strong, bipartisan support for the Armenian Genocide Resolution among Members of Congress responsible for our nation's defense and foreign policies," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. "Beyond the clear moral issues at stake in America's principled stand against all genocides, these Members realize that Turkey, by coming to terms with this crime, will lower regional tensions, open the door to improved relations with Armenia, and ultimately contribute to its own acceptance by the European family of nations."
Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the senior Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, recently agreed to cosponsor the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, making him the sixteenth member of the influential panel to add his name to this human rights measure.
In addition to Ranking Member Hunter, other members of the Armed Services Committee who support the measure include several subcommittee chairmen: Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), who heads the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee; Martin Meehan (D-MA), who chairs the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and; Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), who presides over the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. Other Committee members include Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Dan Boren (D-OK), Robert Brady (D-PA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Howard McKeon (R-CA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Candice Miller (R-MI), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
The Armenian Genocide Resolution also enjoys bipartisan support among members of the House Intelligence Committee, including Mike Thompson (D-CA), who chairs the panel's Subcommittee on Terrorism and Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence, and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who heads the Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management. Other cosponsors on the Committee include Rush Holt (D-NJ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), James Langevin (D-RI), Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and John Tierney (D-MA).
Twenty-four members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the panel with jurisdiction over the measure, have already cosponsored H.Res.106. This figure includes five of the panel's seven Subcommittee Chairmen: Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health; William Delahunt (D-MA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight; Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia; Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade, and; Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
State Department Appropriations:
Nine of the thirteen members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the State Department have cosponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution. Among the supportive members of the State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee are its Chairwoman, Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Republican, Frank Wolf (R-VA). Other cosponsors on the panel include Steve Israel (D-NY), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL), Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), and the resolution's author Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Eighteen of the thirty-three members of the House Committee on Homeland Security are also cosponsors of the Armenian Genocide resolution, including: Loretta Sanchez, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism; James Langevin (D-RI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology; Jane Harman, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, and; Sheila Jackson Lee, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection. Other Congressional cosponsors on the panel include Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Charles Dent (R-PA), Al Green (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Dan Lungren (R-CA), Edward Markey (D-MA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Edwin Perlmutter (D-CO), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Mark Souder (R-IN).
Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel. (202) 775-1918
Fax. (202) 775-5648
April 10, 2007
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian Federation-Spain Calls On Authorities To Recognize Armenian Genocide
YEREVAN (YERKIR) - Various Armenian associations in Spain large of approximately 50 000 people, constituted in a federation to unify the criteria of intervention in the Spanish society.
Among the principal objectives of the new entity, it is envisioned to create a work group taking in consideration the defense of its rights.
In addition, the federation will present on April 22 in Madrid, two documents to the Spanish authorities, the first of which exhorts Prime Minister Zappatero's government to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and the second, the organization on April 24 of commemorations in memory of the victims of Genocide in the cities where the Armenian community is present, PanARMENIAN.Net reported.
Yet Another Illiberal Step By Europe On 'Genocide'
April 11, 2007
Perhaps in a decade from now, we will have a Turkey in which history is debated freely and a Europe in which historians will be jailed for thought crimes.
One of the interesting themes that conservative and libertarian U.S. intellectuals have been emphasizing in the recent years is the growing gap of freedom in Europe. According to these critics, in continental European countries such as Germany and France — the backbones of the EU — there is a strong tendency towards protecting the welfare state at the expense of individual freedoms. Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute (a libertarian think tank in Michigan) even argued that there are signs of a ?soft-despotism? mindset in the continent, which was apparent in the now-defunct European Constitution. ?[The EU Constitution] does not limit itself — as any sound constitution should — to outlining the origins, divisions, and limitations of state-power,? Gregg noted. ?Instead, its 511 pages embrace a plethora of subjects ranging from fishing, humanitarian-aid, space policy, sport, tourism, to financial assistance to the former East Germany.? This was a mindset, according to Gregg, which gave the EU officials the right to ?meddle in almost anything.?
Meddling in history:
Apparently the areas that the EU officials wish to meddle in include history, too. The bizarre idea that governments have the right to define the true history of peoples and punish the dissidents who dare to disagree with their ?offical truths? seems to be quite popular in Europe. Last year's ?genocide bill? approved by the parliament of France — a country which has never been, after all, a great fan of freedom, and has created its own nation by suppressing the identities of its citizens — was a perfect example. By providing a one-year prison sentence and a 45,000 euro fine for those who deny the view that the tragic events of 1915 amounted to genocide, the French had simply issued a "thought crime," which is, of course, the hallmark of all despotisms.
What makes the matter worse is the steady growth of this ?soft? — or not so soft — despotism. Germany's recent initiative to ?combat racism and xenophobia? makes that all obvious. Of course there is no problem in combating racism and xenophobia. But as you might read in page 3 of the TDN today, what this draft framework does is also to penalize the denial of ?genocide? and sentence the deniers (or, say, dissidents) to up to three year in prison. And who will decide which events constitute genocide or not? Parliamentarians like those of France, of course.
In other words, political figures will decree official truth and heretics will be imprisoned. Welcome to illiberal Europe.
Remarks by Minister Çiçek:
I spoke to Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Çiçek about this yesterday. He was quite critical of the German initiative and described it as an assault on the freedom of thought. He also emphasized that this bill gives the right to politicians and national courts to define history. ?The crime of genocide has to be decreed by The Permanent Court of Arbitration (aka) Hague Tribunal,? he noted. ?But with this bill, any local court will be able to make decisions on genocide and imprison people with alternative views.? He also noted the authoritarian nature of the draft framework: once the EU approved it, member countries would have to accept it. Then the whole continent would turn into a zone of unfree thought.
Minister Çiçek is right. So is the Turkish government, which has criticized and will continue to criticize these illiberal steps taken by EU leaders.
Not a Holocaust:
Some could remind us of Holocaust denial; but it is not relevant. One should see the huge difference between the Jewish Holocaust and the so-called Armenian Genocide. The former is an undisputed fact. Its perpetrators have been tried and sentenced in an international court, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Extermination camps and gas chambers are all there to see. It is true that are some Holocaust deniers, but these are marginal figures and there are good reasons to think that they are in fact Nazi sympathizers and thus look at history with that sort of bias. But in the Armenian case, there are many non-Turkish respected historians, such as Bernard Lewis and Guenter Lewy, who argue that the events of 1915 do not amount to genocide.
Yet still, denying even the Jewish Holocaust is not a crime in the United States. Apparently "Old Europe" needs to get some lessons in free thought from the New World.
Turkey goes liberal while Europe goes illiberal:
The opposing tendencies in Europe and Turkey in this whole debate are striking. Of course it is no secret that European countries have broader freedoms than in Turkey in many areas, and that's one of the reasons why Turkey should join the EU. But as for the Armenian issue, Turkey has been liberalizing itself and has been creating space for free discussion. There are scholars and intellectuals in Turkey who think that there was an "Armenian genocide." In the recent years they have been openly saying that, and they are not taken to court for his. However, the tendency in Europe is quite the opposite — towards less freedom, not more.
Perhaps in a decade from now, we will have a Turkey in which history is debated freely and a Europe in which historians will be jailed for thought crimes. It is not a too unlikely scenario.
Ankara: German Anti-Racism Move Restricts Free Speech
April 11, 2007
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Turkey has expressed concerns over a new German initiative to combat racism and xenophobia with a template European law that could spread moves in France and elsewhere to criminalize any denial of the alleged genocide of Armenians.
The so-called draft framework, essentially a recommended legal blueprint for European Union governments to follow, is very likely to serve as a recipe for other countries to follow the example of a French vote last October when a bill criminalizing denial of the alleged genocide was endorsed, the Turkish Daily News reported last month.
?This is a very wrong draft, which excludes a U.N. convention and brushes aside freedom of expression and academic studies,? government spokesman Cemil Çiçek told reporters after a Cabinet meeting late on Monday.
The draft negotiating framework penalizing the denial of the alleged genocide and sentencing deniers up to three year in prison will appear on the agenda between April 18 and 19 under the German presidency of the European Union, Çiçek said, complaining that the draft was restricting free speech and hindering academic studies on genocide allegations.
He said Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül had conveyed Turkish concerns over the draft to Germany during a visit last week, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an would bring the issue onto the agenda when he had talks with German officials during a planned visit to Germany over the weekend.
Armenia's Priority Is Economy, Says New Premier
April 11, 2007
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Armenia's priority is economic development, not human rights improvements, the country's new prime minister said in an interview with The Financial Times on Monday.
“Jobs are more important than rights,” said Serge Sargysan, who was promoted to premiership last Wednesday, after the death of the late prime minister Andranik Margaryan from a heart attack last month. “It is hard to talk about democratic and human rights when you need to solve the social and economic needs of the population,” he said to the Financial Times during a visit to Brussels.
A third of the 3 million-strong population of Armenia lives below the poverty line. Sargysan said the Armenian diaspora should get more involved in the country, reminding that only 1 percent of investment came from them.
Sargysan named another priority as concluding a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, which lost Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia in 1994, after a three-year war.
“Turkey - which has been offered talks without conditions - has shown no willingness to compromise” on the Nagorno-Karabagh issue, claimed the article.
Sargysan added that Armenia would remain friendly to Russia and would not support a United States military base in the region.
Genocide Or Not
By Tulin Daloglu
April 10, 2007
One would assume that the question of whether what happened between Turks and Armenians during World War I constitutes "genocide" is not an important issue in American politics or the American consciousness. Yet for Turkish Americans, it remains a constant source of anxiety and fear of discrimination or reprisals if they express a different point of view. Generations later, even in this country that celebrates freedom of speech and debate, they feel that publicly discussing the issue will engender more hate.
"I can still remember my friends' parents saying, 'What are we going to do if our daughter marries a Turk?' " said Angelina Kara. Born in Istanbul to a French father and a Turkish mother, Angelina, 30, was raised as a Christian, married a Muslim Turk, and lives in California. "These parents never thought while raising their children in Istanbul that [the children] might eventually one day at least date a Muslim Turk. They threatened to cut their children off if they did."
"Non-Muslim communities live within their own circles in Turkey," Angelina said. "They marry within their own religion. Frankly, they feel superior to the Muslim Turks ... I remember visiting my Armenian friends. They were not encouraged to make friends with the Turks. They made friends with other Armenian kids going to the Sunday school at church. During the summer, they were usually sent abroad to their relatives or worked with their fathers."
Angelina's is a unique perspective on Turkish social norms. Not all non-Muslim Turkish families distance themselves from Muslim Turks, but she notes that a significant number prefers to live in a separate world. Angelina and her husband, Tolga, seem to deal with their worlds by celebrating their ethnic and religious differences. Yet she worries that in Turkey, the distance between the two will ultimately jeopardize the country.
In California, this young Turkish American couple sees firsthand the hard work of the Armenian American lobby for a non-binding congressional resolution that would declare the mass killings of Armenians on Turkish soil "genocide." But there is another side. Tolga remembers his grandmother: "Until she died five years ago, she wept for her father. She used to tell stories about World War I, and how the Armenians raided their home in Erzincan late at night and took her father and uncle. Days later, they found her uncle's body dismembered on the side of a small stream. They never found her father."
Tolga says that until he moved to California, he'd accepted the past as a tragedy of war. But his experience in the United States has opened his eyes to how deeply Armenians hate Turks: "One day I saw a young man staring at me in a bad way. I did not understand it, and thought I was being too sensitive. A few days later, I ran into him again, and he stared at me in the same way -- this time pointing his finger. I asked him what his problem was, and he kept pointing -- so I called the police. He was an Armenian, but [because there was no physical altercation] what he was doing was merely an exercise of free speech."
Turkey does not have a great record on free speech -- but that has been changing. Over the last several years, academic conferences and television programs have publicly debated the Armenian accusations. The United States, however, has been less favorable toward such public conversations. Last year, the University of Southern California cancelled a conference titled "Turkish-Armenian Relations: The Turkish Perspective." A press release from the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) read, "The ANCA-WR, working with USC Armenian student groups, Alumni and school supporters, was able to demonstrate to USC officials the misguided and sinister nature of this panel which led to its cancellation."
A few years ago, Armenian students at USC protested the annual Turkish Night organized by the USC Turkish Student Association. The USC Daily Trojan reported that "the dance was shut down for safety," and that a party-goer who requested anonymity out of concern for his safety called the protesters "hostile-looking and intimidating."
Recently, a concert at Brown University titled "The Armenian Composers of the Ottoman Period," in which two Armenian and two Turkish musicians were to perform, was cancelled. Its aim was to bring together Turks and Armenians through music, but the Armenians who agreed to participate faced tremendous pressure to keep their distance from the Turks.
Many Turkish Americans fear the Armenian American community's power in the United States. They don't understand why no doubt exists about what happened between Armenians and Turks. They wonder why no one remembers the murdered Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorists or numerous silenced academicians. They feel that the "genocide" claims feed an industry -- influential Armenian committees, non-governmental organizations and academics promoting their "truth" -- attached to politics. They understand that politicians need to get elected and must satisfy their constituents' needs. But they also demand an environment free of intimidation and fear.
Tulin Daloglu is a free-lance writer.
© 2007 The Washington Times
'Fight Against PKK Is Not Priority Of US'
The New Anatolian
09 April 2007
Retired Chief of Joint Staff of the U.S. Army General Richard Myers stated on Saturday that fight against terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is not a priority of the U.S. since essential struggle in Iraq is against the extremist groups that are violating Baghdad and other regions of Iraq.
Myers said, "The fight against PKK, which is not an easy job to handle, does not have high priority in the agenda of the U.S.," speaking to the Voice of America on Saturday.
Underlining that PKK is a small terrorist group and it is hard to be in struggle with it in such a mountainous terrain, Myers said that another restraint is the difficulty of intervention to the lands of a sovereign government.
Asked on the possibility of a military operation against PKK in northern Iraq by Turkey, Myers said that the forces of the Turkish and the U.S. armies may confront one another.
"Such a possibility that has also occurred at past makes me anxious. If Turkey raises an cross-border operation, that would be a ominous ciscumstance," Myers said, referring to the Sulaymaniya sack case.
The Sulaymaniya sack case was an incident on July 4, 2003 following the invasion of Iraq where a group of Turkish military personnel operating in northern Iraq were captured, led away with sacks over their heads, and interrogated by the U.S. military. The soldiers were released after 60 hours, after Turkey protested to the U.S.
Stating that the PKK is a terrorist organization widely accepted throughout the world and that Turkish citizens are being killed by PKK terrorists, Myers said that he hopes a permanent solution to be reached through the efforts of both the American forces and other forces.
"US Congress Armenian Genocide Resolution Will Have Opposite Effect"
09 April 2007 Today.Az
The Terror Free Tomorrow held public opinion survey in Turkey.
According to the first nationwide public opinion survey of Turkey, US Congressional passage of Armenian resolution would actually set back the cause it purports to achieve.
73 percent of Turks think a resolution will have the opposite effect and actually worsen relations between Turkey and Armenia. The genocide resolution will damage US interests in the Middle East.
According to the poll, US parliamentarians should be persuaded that this step will worsen US-Turkey relations. The poll conducted by the organization in 15 Turkish provinces in January-February, 2007 shows that 78% of the respondents protest against the adoption of any document on alleged genocide.
42% of the respondents consider that the Congress can not be unbiased on this issue, 36% thinks that "genocide" was not committed and 18% considers that historians should make decision about it, APA reports.
If the Congress votes for the document on so-called genocide, 83 percent would oppose Turkey assisting the United States in neighboring Iraq. 78% will boycott the US products and vote for candidates unapproved by official Washington.
11% of the respondents said they will not take any measures.
30% people approves freezing of diplomatic relations between Ankara and Washington. 73% of the respondents said this step will damage relations with Armenia and 84% said positive opinion about the US will change.
John McCain, US Senator, candidate for 2008 presidential elections and co-chairs of the commission investigated September 11 events Thomas Kean and Lea Hamilton are the members of the consulting council of the Terror Free Tomorrow,Inc.
U.S. War College Is Concerned With Numerous Issues
April 9 - Vartan Oskanian received the delegation of the U.S. war college at the head of Tamara Fitzgerald.
On Ms. Fitzgerald's request, Mr. Oskanian dwelt on the peculiarities and recent developments of the Karabakh conflict.
Further on, the sides focused on the RA external policy, the opening of the Armenian-Turkish frontier, the recognition process of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenia-Diaspora relations, the energy sphere, the demographic issues, the anti-corruption methods, the obstacles hindering regional collaboration, etc.
Turkey's Importance For USA Explained By Antagonism Of Russia
By H. Chaqrian
AZG Armenian Daily
On April 4 "Azg" has once already referred to an article by Turkish political scientist Hasan Koni, entitled "The Armenian Issue and Turkey's International Status".
The author of the article considers the issue of the Armenian Genocide from the positions of official policy of denial. He refers to the Genocide as "mass deportation of Armenians", which was necessity of the World War I. In order to conceal the real nature of the "deportation" and reduce the number of victims he reminds of the Armenians that accepted Islam.
Koni writes: "Who don't know who they are [Muslim Armenians]. They count from 300 to 400 thousand people. For example our Alavi brothers, inhabiting the Hakkyar region, are Muslim Armenians. The Government of Turkey does not speak of this so as not to disturb the citizens. Probably, there are turncoat Armenians among the high-ranking officials of Turkey. Nothing of them is said either. In general, Armenians that accepted Islam are not taken into account when considering the Armenian Question."
Koni's views on the role of Turkey in South Caucasus and Central Asia are also interesting. He considers that Turkey is a link between the East and the West, and if the USA want to make investments in Asia, they should first come to Turkey.
Speaking of the downfall of the USSR, Koni recollects that in those times the South Caucasus, except Armenia, had pro-Turkish orientation. After Russia's interference to the processes in South Caucasus, Turkey lost the region because of failing to provide assistance to pro-Turkish forces. He says that the USA needs Turkey for so as to supervise Israel on the Mediterranean, to control energy sources and balance Russia on the Black Sea, in South Caucasus, the Balkans and Central Asia, taking into account large Turkish-Speaking population in those regions.
In case Russia puts and end to its antagonism with the USA, the importance of Turkey will also be diminished.
"If Putin comes to agreement with us and Russia becomes a Western state, Turkey is lost. In case democracy is established in Iran, probably Iranians will gain our preferences n energy sources," confessed an American politician to Koni.
'We Want To Become A Member Of European Family Of Nations,' Armenian PM
YEREVAN, APRIL 9: In an interview to The Financial Times newspaper, published in today's issue, Armenia's new prime minister Serzh Sarkisian spoke about the country's economic development and the process of democracy advancement, as well as about regional developments and Armenia's geopolitical concept.
In response to a question about the authorities' commitment to hold free and clean parliamentary elections on May 12, Sarkisian said Armenia has assumed a long string of obligations and the failure to observe them would make it ineligible for a number of economic and political programs, promising effective incentives. He said Armenia has to observe these commitments since they stems from its national interests.
"We want to become a member of European family of nations,' Serzh Sarkisian said.
The Financial Times says one third of the landlocked Armenia, which has a total of 3 million population, still lives below the poverty level. In response to this question Sarkisian said, "It is hard to speak about democracy and human rights, when one has to solve the population's social and economic needs." He added that Armenia does not want to be a country stuck in the transitional period.
The newspaper writes that the new prime minister wants a bigger involvement of the Armenian Diaspora in economic activity and the government is looking for ways to encourage Diaspora investments.
In the interview Serzh Sarkisian also referred to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations and regional developments.
In a reference to the clash of superpowers' interests in the region he said," Some are trying to capitalize on their (superpowers') differences, some others are trying to cooperate with them. We choose the second option."
Sarkisian also said he would like to see one day Armenia as a member of the European Union. He also said that despite Armenia's close cooperation with NATO, a membership in it is not on the country's foreign policy agenda.
Armenian Historian Thinks, "Turkey Made A Step Towards Armenia"
"Many Armenians had not grasped the significance of the re-opening of the Akhtamar Island Armenian Church on March 29," historian Ara Sarafian stated. He said, Akhtamar Church re-opening became an important "peace-offering" from Turkey. According to Sarafian, the restoration of the Holy Church Church represents a clear response to the many accusations of "cultural genocide" lodged by the Armenian community outside of Turkey. "The opening up of the church had caused surprise in the Armenian community," he added, Hurriyet reports.
Data Shows Increased Radioactive Leakage From Metsamor
Turkey has turned to the international community once again to pressure neighboring Armenia to close down a decrepit nuclear power plant after data collected in border areas revealed increased radioactive spillage from the plant.
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ankara demanded action and stronger international pressure on Armenia to shut the old-fashioned Metsamor nuclear power plant. The plant was built in the 1970s, but the technology installed at that time is no longer acceptable by modern safety standards. It was closed due to a 1988 earthquake in Armenia, but the Armenian government decided to reopen the damaged plant in 1993, citing an energy shortage in the country.
According to the data which the Turkish Atomic Energy Agency (TAEK) gathered from 13 early warning stations established in Igdir and nearby Kars province, there is an increase in radioactive leakage in the region, which the TAEK attributes to the Metsamor plant.
The plant does not have an external dome to contain radioactive leakage and its cooling water is insufficient, and as its technology is outdated and it is located in an earthquake zone, all these factors makes it a perfect candidate for a second Chernobyl-type incident.
Moreover, the plant is located just 19 kilometers from Igdir and 40 from Yerevan, in clear violation of internationally accepted standards that require nuclear power plants to be at least 90 kilometers away from human settlements.
Another concern which Turkey has with respect to the plant is that the nuclear fuel which Armenia buys from Russia is transported by air. Russian-made Antonov and Tapolov airplanes, both of which have a record of frequent crashes, are used to transport nuclear fuel to Armenia.
Noting the dangers the plant poses, Turkey requested that the EU urge Armenia to close the plant in 2005. Following investigations conducted by an EU delegation, the EU requested Armenia shut down the plant.
In 1999, the EU sent a delegation to Yerevan to conduct on-the-spot examinations in the plant. Simultaneous probes by the IAEA concluded that the plant should immediately be shut down. Before becoming a member of the European Council on Jan. 25, 2001, Arme-nia pledged to close the plant by 2004. In return the EU would reimburse Armenia's losses up to 100 million euros. Armenia found the EU's proposal insufficient and requested 1 billion euros instead. Later the EU increased its pressure and Armenia declared that it would not close the plant.
In the face of escalating international pressure Armenia has transferred part of the plant's shares to Russia. Russian Industry, Science and Technology Minister Ilia Klebanov had declared that the transfer did not include property rights, but rather that the financial responsibility of Metsamor was given to Russia.
Some claimed that Russian Electric Systems seized Metsamor's shares due to Armenia's default with respect to the overdue payments for $40 million worth of enriched uranium purchased from Russia. Analysts say that Armenia's move served to relieve international pressure on it.
ERCAN YAVUZ ANKARA / Zaman
Turkish-Armenian Concert Canceled Due To Threats
The New Anatolian / Ankara
10 April 2007
A Turkish-Armenian concert dedicated to Hrant Dink scheduled in Brown University of America for last week was canceled on short notice after the Armenian musicians and the president of the Armenian Students Association (ASA) received threats from members of the Armenian community, reported the daily newspaper of the university.
The Brown Daily (BD) Herald reported that ASA and the Turkish Cultural Society (TCS) organized the concert, titled "The Armenian Composers of the Ottoman Period," to promote dialogue between their communities.
The concert was dedicated to Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated in January outside his newspaper office by ultra-nationalists for his articles about calling the mass killings of Armenians by Turks in 1915 as genocide.
A member of TCS, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, stated that the groups started talking about co-sponsoring the event roughly six months ago after members of TCS wrote a column in The BD Herald that touched on historical relations between Turks and Armenians. The two groups then began discussing the need for joint events to encourage conversation, according to the TCS member.
Stating in a letter to the daily that the Armenian musicians and the president of the ASA did their best to resist the "warning messages" they received, the TCS member said, "The situation got serious and the musicians, followed by the ASA, withdrew from the event. The musicians and the ASA are now in a very difficult position against some parts of their community," reported The BD Herald.
Ruben Izmailyan, president of the ASA, said he was disappointed that the event was canceled but declined to comment further. TCS is also "very sorry the event did not happen," the member wrote in his letter to the BD Herald.
"For people who had issues, I think that the appropriate response was not to attend, instead of forcing it to cancel. I think this was an honest effort on both sides aiming at nothing but to enjoy common music and food and make friends regardless of views on the past," the TCS member said.
"TCS will continue to look into ways to create this dialogue," the TCS member stated, according to the BD Herald.
TCS members have a wide range of views about Armenian-Turkish relations, the member wrote, but they agree that a healthy, constructive dialogue is needed for a solution.
The TARCification of Noble Goals?
By Khatchig Mouradian
NEW YORK (A.W.)-Fourteen Chemistry, 14 Physics, 12 Medicine, 6 Economics, 5 Peace and 2 Literature Nobel laureates co-signed a letter drafted by the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and addressed "to the peoples of Turkey and Armenia," urging tolerance, contacts and cooperation.
The letter (see p.3), dated April 9, calls on Armenians and Turks to encourage their governments to open the Turkish-Armenian border, generate confidence through civil society cooperation, improve official contacts and allow basic freedoms-doubtless, all noble goals. It also refers to the killings of Armenian in 1915 as the "Armenian Genocide."
Yet, the wording of the letter and its timing has led many Armenians-and Turks, but that's another story-to take it with a grain of salt rather than welcome it wholeheartedly.
Here We Go Again
Commenting on the letter, ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian said, "Here we go again. If there's one thing we learned about David Phillips [the former moderator of the now-defunct TARC and current executive director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Peace] during the past seven years-through his involvement in the discredited Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) enterprise, including the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) study and a variety of other incarnations, it's that he will use any means-honest or dishonest-to prevent U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide."
"The ICTJ-a group tied closely with the U.S. State Department-was asked by TARC to prepare a report on the Armenian Genocide. ICTJ asked someone to write this report. They will not say who. Very likely the U.S. government was deeply involved. The report concludes that the Armenian Genocide is a true historical fact. This is not new. The whole world already knows this. The report also says that the Armenians have no rights to reparations under the Genocide Convention. This is not true. Clearly, the people behind TARC in the U.S. and Turkish governments used the ICTJ report to try to create the false impression that Armenians cannot legally regain their rights," Hamparian added.
I spoke with David Phillips about the identity of the author of the report, and he again declined to answer. "I'm not in a position to share that information with you."
I also asked Phillips why the letter was drafted. He said, "It was drafted subsequent to the assassination of Hrant Dink in order to provide a set of recommendations for Turks and Armenians to carry his life's work forward, his life's work being on Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and on freedom of expression in Turkey."
That the letter was drafted following and in reaction to Dink's assassination may fail to convince many. Dink was killed almost three months before the letter was released. Instead, the timing may have more to do with the upcoming vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution in the U.S. Congress. For, the letter addressed "to the peoples of Turkey and Armenia" suggests that this is an issue Armenians and Turks should figure out alone, and that third parties should only encourage dialogue.
I asked Phillips what effect passing the Genocide resolution would have on Turkish-Armenian relations. "The appeal doesn't address the Armenian Genocide resolution, so I'm not well qualified to answer that question," he replied.
"Turks and Armenians have a huge gap in perception over the Armenian Genocide," the letter reads. Yet the letter refers to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and a 2003 legal analysis conducted by non-Armenians. Since both the IAGS and the legal analysis have concluded that what took place was genocide, the "huge gap in perception" lies between Turks and the rest of the world, not between Turks and Armenians. The wording of the letter also gives the impression that Turkey and Armenia share equal responsibility in the continued blockade against Armenia.
Test Tube Solutions
I pointed out to Phillips that some scholars and analysts have publicly expressed surprise to the large number of signatories-40 out of 53-that come from the hard sciences and thus have little, if any, knowledge of the intricacies of Turkish-Armenian issues. I asked how the signatories were selected. "We contacted laureates with whom we have collaboration and provided some information about Armenian-Turkish issues," he said. "We asked if they would associate themselves with the recommendation in the appeal."
David Hovannisian, a member of TARC, told Iskakan Iravunk that the letter will be taken very seriously by the international community. Hovannisian added that the laureates' call on Armenia to "reverse its authoritarian course" shows just how closely the West will be watching the upcoming parliamentary elections.
It Doesn't Work that Way
In many Armenian circles, TARC is widely regarded as a State Department initiative to derail the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. On March 31, at a symposium organized by Armenians and the Left at Harvard University, Turkish-born professor Halil Berktay made the following revelation about TARC:
"I'll tell you something funny about TARC. In, I think, March 2000, the first ever conference on or between Turkish and Armenian historians took place at the University of Chicago, initiated by professors Muge Gocek and Ron Suny. And I took part in that conference and went back to Turkey afterwards and one thing led to another.
"An atmosphere of stifling hypocrisy sadly had overtaken Turkish society at that time, precisely because at that time there was yet another motion before the French parliament to recognize the Armenian Genocide and simultaneously another motion before the U.S. Congress to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and the atmosphere in Turkey had become absolutely suffocating.
"Day in and day out, large numbers of journalists, media people, etc., were towing this national line so to speak, not to say party line, of 'the so-called Genocide' and 'Armenian slanders' and 'baseless fabrications,' so on and so forth. This vocabulary, this verbiage was being repeated ad nausea.
"It was in that atmosphere that to a large extent out of sheer anger and irritation, when a leading journalist contacted me and wanted to do a very long and full-page interview with me in the pages of the Left-Center Daily Radikal, I consented.
"As a result, without realizing it, I seemed to have become the very first established Turkish historian inside Turkey to speak out on the Genocide in a mainstream publication, in a mass circulating daily, and then all hell broke loose.
"But one thing that happened was that one of the American organizers of TARC came to me in unbelievable and unexpected anger to tell me that I had virtually ruined their pet project, and that I had, in fact, dealt a devastating blow to the TARC initiative. I said, 'Why? I would have thought that the presence of the realization that there are many, many dissident intellectuals and scholars inside Turkey who do not abide by the establishment line on the Genocide would facilitate reconciliation efforts like TARC.'
"I was told, very brutally, 'That is not how it works. That is not how Turkish or Armenian dialogue should work. That is not how second track diplomacy works. You have just made things very, very complicated and difficult for us.'"
Did the Nobel laureates who signed the letter have any knowledge of the anti-reconciliatory behavior of TARC and its "American organizers"? How would they view a letter from a group of (otherwise brilliant) individuals who have little idea about their work, yet offer a "road map" on how to get things done?
Armenians and the Left Symposium Takes on Pressing Issues in Armenia and
By Andy Turpin
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 31, less than a year after the hugely sucessful Armenians and the Left (AATL) conference in New York, scores of activists, students and intellectuals from across the Northeast converged at Harvard University for a one-day symposium organized by AATL. Co-sponsored by Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the symposium featured leading Armenian journalists and media critics, groundbreaking environmental activists working in Armenia today, and outspoken proponents of meaningful Armeno-Turkish dialogue.
The panelists criticized the ruling elites-oligarchs and plutocrats-in Armenia, whose complicity in perpetuating endemic corruption has created enormous inequality and has placed Armenia's very sustainability at risk. They also took aim at the Turkish state which has created an environment of impunity for vigilantism, as was recently seen in the assassination of the Istanbul based Armenian journalist and human rights activist, Hrant Dink. Members of the audience engaged in active dialogue during lively and heated question and answer sessions, which were often as substantial as the presentations themselves.
Conceived by the ARF USA-Eastern Region, the series of public forums and conferences organized under Armenians and the Left strive to present Armenian issues in a global, progressive context. They are meant to appeal to all those-Armenian and non-Armenian-who have an activist mindset and an appreciation for what binds the various plight of dispossessed groups, and are alarmed at the menacing trends that are threatening the world and its people.
Oligarchs, Social Injustices and Media in Armenia
A panel on "Media and Social Injustice in Armenia," moderated by Antranig Kasbarian, featured Armenia's foremost investigative journalist Edik Baghdasaryan of Hetq (www.hetq.am), Khatchig Mouradian of the Armenian Weekly, professor Gayane Torosyan of the State University of New York and Steve Kurkjian of the Boston Globe as discussant.
Dr. Gayane Torosyan, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the State University of New York-Oneonta, spoke first." The so-called public sphere in Armenia is strongly dominated by various political parties and interest groups instead of being a truly public place for societal discourse, she said. Torosyan said that a major factor was the monopolization of the media industry by businesses. "Instead of paying for advertising on TV, radio or newspapers, the most successful businesses choose to buy, bribe or influence those media in bulk to turn them into their mouthpieces."
A successful Armenian businessman, she continued, could buy the entire Armenian media several times over for much less money than the cost of a Super-Bowl ad.
Torosyan quoted a recent report issued by the European Journalism Center in the Netherlands that assessed the plight of Armenian journalists; it said "that the biggest enemy of journalists in Armenia is the lowering of professional standards." She added, "The public trust towards media is hard to gain and easy to lose, with that trust vanishing day by day."
Torosyan then explained how journalism has been forced to transition and evolve since the fall of Soviet Union, primarily through professional method trainings exported from the U.S. and Europe. "The core of that transition of the new practices was the concept of objectivity," she said, adding that it can be difficult to break the cultural trends that are still ingrained from the Soviet period. She quipped, "Is Armenian media democratic? In principle, yes, but the notion of objectivity should be viewed as the cornerstone of interventions into post-Communist media."
She explained that some, bolder Armenian journalists are trying to enact the Western style and act as watchdogs, but that there is fear of retaliation. "The shyer ones are simply respecting authority and using that as their hindrance," she said. "The low self-esteem among Armenian journalists can only be cured with assertivity, honesty, patience to avoid selling themselves to the highest bidder, and finally becoming an institution on their own."
Khatchig Mouradian, editor of the Armenian Weekly and former editor of the Lebanese-Armenian newspaper Aztag Daily, spoke next. He prefaced his remarks, titled "Free, But Not Independent," by sharing an anecdote about negligent writers in Armenia once publicizing Peter Balakian's acclaimed book The Burning Tigris, as the misnomer The Burning Tigress. "I wanted to give this example to follow up on the professor's remarks on being thorough when dealing with news reports, trying to be objective, and gathering as much information as possible," he explained. "Or at least trying to deal with the information in a decent way."
During the Soviet period, he said, "There was a lack of interest for empirical truth and definitely no space whatsoever for investigative journalism. In the 80s and early 90s, however, we always speak about the Golden Age of Armenian journalism and media. This has been reflected also in other countries of the former Soviet bloc."
Yet, what contributed to the media's decline soon after independence was the gradual inability of the newspapers, radio and TV stations to sustain themselves. "They first came under the influence of the state, and eventually the influence of the state and oligarchs." "The real investigative journalists in Armenia are the readers," he said, "[who] realize that they can't trust the media and that what they have to do is read different sources of information and to try to come up with a conclusion" of what's really going on.
Recounting a remark by another Armenian editor on the issue, Mouradian quoted him as saying, "The amount of money I receive for printing one article about a specific leader in Armenia is much more than actually increasing my subscribers by 200."
"I don't want to give the impression that the media is utterly controlled like in some totalitarian countries," he clarified. "The main problem is that different forms of pressure exist and there are different ways of self-censorship for personal gain."
He characterized the underlying problem among Armenian journalists. "They're free to say anything, but they're not independent and they're definitely not socially responsible. For them, being free is being free of moral obligation and social responsibility."
Making a quick comparison with Diasporan newspapers, Mouradian noted that they "are controlled by political parties, churches and cultural organizations. There is very little criticism and a lot of collective silence."
He then discussed the options for countering these trends, pointing to blogs and online publications like Hetq for inspiration. "There has been an increasing number of blogs dealing with social, political and economic issues in Armenia. They create this very essential small space where people can interact, get information, news, and give insight that is not sponsored by this or that leader. . These can provide readers with alternatives."
The final speaker of the panel was veteran Armenian journalist Edik Baghdasaryan, editor of HETQ Online and head of the Investigative Journalists of Armenia NGO.
Panel moderator Antranig Kasbarian translated his remarks from Armenian to English.
Baghdasaryan opened by saying, "The current circulation of Armenian newspapers is 40,000; meanwhile the population of Armenia is said to be three million. There's a disconnect here." He continued, "Ninety-five percent of these newspapers are circulated in the Yerevan environs. This means that essentially hundreds of villages outside of Yerevan and in Karabakh, have not seen a newspaper in years."
Baghdasaryan said that the majority of Armenians rely on TV for their news and information. "The public television station is viewed essentially as the property of the President of the Republic of Armenia," he added. "According to those news reports, everything in Armenia is just fine. Based on the facts from those channels, every day new factories are opening, every day presidents of other countries come and go, and every day there are new concerts."
He said that this purveyance of a distorted reality was greatly affecting the well-being and morale of the Armenian people. "In this programming, no Armenians are shown to exist outside of Yerevan. People feel isolated outside of Yerevan. They despair. They feel no one addresses even their existence."
He clarified, "This phenomenon applies to TV as well as newspapers. The people of Armenia are found in an information blockade." Baghdasaryan said that the TV media in Armenia are under the supervision of the government. "There are private owners, but they purchase these networks at the behest of the government. The supervision of TV media often becomes a detailed affair. The presidential apparatus or administration will manage and micromanage who gets interviewed in the government, and how much time and space will be given to opposition voices."
He shared why this is reflective of a more dangerous, "more painful" cultural trend, against those who speak out with different views. "The media is gradually losing its influence within Armenia," he said. "In the United States, every so often a scandal will come out in the media and it will force people to resign from their positions amidst scandal. Unfortunately in Armenia these sorts of publications have no effect whatsoever." He challenged journalists and citizens to speak out with hard facts and follow through. "The papers are constantly talking in general terms about corruption in Armenia. But they don't speak with specific forms of evidence. The problem is that when you start introducing certain forms of evidence, the state prosecutor's office is obliged to act on it." And so far, it has been unwilling to do so.
A very dynamic question and answer session followed. Baghdasaryan expressed enormous disappointment with the recent, large-scale investment of the Armenian-American Gerard Cafesjian in Armenia's media sector, decrying how the extremely banal nature of his programming without any role for monitoring Armenia's centers of power was only reinforcing the decaying influence of the press and the growing apathy of the Armenian public. Answering a question by the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, Baghdasaryan said, "No one has done more damage to the media [in Armenia] than Gerard Cafesjian. You have to see his broadcasts to understand [what I am talking about]."
Baghdasaryan also talked, with examples, about the importance of Diaspora pressure in the fight against corruption. Following up on this comment, Mouradian noted that Diasporan Armenians are actively involved in e-mail campaigns to obtain genocide recognition or to try and influence Turkey to democratize, respect human rights and the rights of minorities, etc., but they rarely engaged in similar actions to democratize and fight corruption in Armenia. He stressed the need for a coordinated effort to assist Armenia not only financially but in becoming more democratic at the same time.
Environmental Politics and Energy Needs
A panel on the fragile state of Armenia's environmental conditions and energy needs, titled "Environmental Politics in Armenia" and moderated by Jeff Masarjian, featured president of Armenian Forests NGO Jeffrey Tufenkian, nuclear power industry expert Robert Kalantari, and founding director of Armenian Environmental Network Ursula Kazarian.
Jeffrey Tufenkian, president of the Armenian Forests NGO, spoke about the environmental zero-hour that Armenia is in right now.
"It feels kind of like we have our finger in the dyke. There are huge problems coming from every corner of the environmental front in Armenia," he said.
Describing the republic's lack of facilities, he said, "Besides deforestation and desertification we have solid waste issues. There's not one proper solid waste disposal facility in the whole country. Trash is being burned openly. Sewage waste, and to some degree toxic waste from industry, is going untreated into rivers and lakes. Again, there's not one proper waste sewage treatment facility in the country."
Tufenkian explained that these problems were no longer side effects of an energy crisis but the overt results of rampant corruption and slight of policy. "The current problem is based much more on a few wealthy oligarchs and other powerful people who are taking in trucks into the forest and taking out truckloads of trees. They're hiring local people, but it's a much more systematic illegal business operation."
"That's not to say they don't have permits," he continued. "They have permits for sanitary cutting, getting the dead trees out of the forest. But they're taking that one permit for getting dead trees out of the forest and using it for these healthy valuable trees in multiple places."
If you project at the current rates of destruction, in a few short years Armenia could be almost forestless, he said. "We see a lot of cutting and no new growth." Speaking about other qualities of life that were at stake in this tipping of the balance, he explained, "Deforestation is not just losing trees. This is home for precious biodiversity. Over half of the six thousand different plants and animals of the Caucasus region are in Armenia. .We lose the forest, we lose habitat."
"We're moving to Armenia becoming a desert. Over 80 percent of land surveyed is under desertification. Myself, I've seen scorpions and snakes in Yerevan. It's literally a process you can see happening."
Tufenkian praised the past victories of environmental NGOs but reasserted the need both for more environmental activism and stronger anti-corruption measures to combat a political leadership that has no accountability to the public and the ravages of those who seek to profit off the land.
He ended by saying of the upcoming May 12 elections, "One of the biggest reasons for someone to vote is so that somebody doesn't steal their vote. There's a huge problem with that kind of corruption."
Robert Kalantari, an electrical engineer with 25 years experience in the nuclear industry, spoke about alternative energy solutions for Armenia with a succinct assessment of the current situation.
"Reliable electric power, as we all know, is vital to national security," he said. "You need electric power to be a country. Metzamor [Armenia's sole nuclear power plant] supplies 40 percent of Armenia's power needs."
He outlined the use of thermal energy produced from fossil fuels, which has a very negative environmental impact. "Burning oil has to be trucked in. That gets very expensive. You need lots of oil, thousands of gallons an hour."
Given Armenia's politics and budget, he said, this option was the least reliable, despite the recent pipelines in place from Russia and Iran. "When you pipe, you're at the mercy of foreign governments. Right now we have one friendly government, Iran." He praised the low output/low risk but also high-cost option of wind power. "Armenia has the potential for wind farms. . [It] has actually completed the first wind farm in the Caucasus. It is in its early stages and it's costly."
Regarding solar power, he said that large amounts of sunlight, which are not always available in Armenia, are needed, and that solar panel production is toxic to workers, although it's currently used primarily in Korea.
Geothermal energy is another option, Kalantari said. "Armenia should have some potential for geothermal. But we have to do further research on where to put these plants. .Funding has been provided, believe it or not, for the construction of a 150-megawatt geothermal plant in the Sunik Marz. Supposedly it will be completed by 2009."
He appeared to be most in favor of maintaining or increasing Armenia's use of nuclear power, due to its higher output and lower long-term cost ratio. He weighed the consequences of nuclear energy, beginning with the bad news. "Armenia is right now storing all their waste on site. Russia is not taking it right now. That's a concern." Assuaging possible concerns about the presently used Metzamor plant, he said, "It is not a Chernobyl-style reactor, and I want to emphasize that. The Armenian reactor is not an RBMK, the one that exploded. It's scheduled to be closed in 2016, that's the end of a 30-year life."
Kalantari defended the use of Metzamor as logical power source for the moment. "If you shut down Metzamor, it's going to be a major blow to the country's resistance [to the energy crisis]. . Metzamor must continue to operate until there's an alternative, and we hope that alternative is in the near future. 2016 is around the corner."
Kalantari ended his remarks with a stress on the use of all options. But he reiterated that decisions must be made on future polices. "Armenia needs to include all viable options for safe and reliable power. But you can't build these plants overnight. Every option has pros and cons to be discussed. Cost would be a major issue, same with construction time."
The final panelist to discuss environmental issues, specifically the role of activism, was Ursula Kazarian, director of the Armenian Environmental Network NGO.
She initiated her remarks by universalizing the issue of Armenia and the environment. "Armenia is not specific in environmental problems," she said. "We can learn so much from other countries that have had similar issues and have done many things to improve their situation. And we do have a unique resource at our disposal in having the Diaspora. Most countries that have these problems don't have such an active Diaspora, the human capital to make things better."
She said the sectors in Armenia that need the most emphasis and support are public health, transparency and economic development. "The truth is, the environment is extremely and intricately connected to our everyday lives."
Kazarian added, "When you read in a newspaper, for instance, that in Yerevan there is a large rainstorm and the next day a hundred people go to the hospital, that's connected. Why? Because the pipes broke and the water was contaminated. People drank the water and got sick."
Kazarian also praised the great potential for environmental activism in Armenia, provided ordinary people are given real information on how crucial the issues are to their well-being. She said, "Once they know that their water is contaminated, they get active. They don't want to be sick."
She concluded by suggesting low impact farming techniques and training initiatives that could be implemented in Armenia given enough grassroots and government support. "A lot of times we talk about economic development versus the environment. That doesn't have to be the case."
During the question and answer session, Edik Baghdasaryan noted that the environmental NGOs do not lobby political parties in Armenia, which is why none of the parties give any priority to environmental issues in their platform. The panelists acknowledged that fact.
Many questions also concerned Armenia's energy needs and the situation with the Medzamor plant.
Asymmetry of Power, Recognition Politics and Coalition Building
During the final plenary session, moderated by Dikran Kaligian, professors Peter Balakian of Colgate University, Halil Berktay of Sabanci University in Turkey and Henry Theriault of Worcester State College explored the controversy of how Armenians and Turks can honestly deal with the legacy of the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's ongoing, violent campaign to deny it.
In tribute to Hrant Dink, a clip based on a poem titled "Letter to Hrant," written by Khatchig Mouradian, was shown.
Henry Theriault, director of the Center for Human Rights at Worcester State College, spoke first about the under-discussed dynamics of Armenian-Turkish relations. Professor Theriault opened by indicating that reconciliation cannot be the goal of Armeno-Turkish dialogue, as this presupposes a relationship that was once horizontal and equitable, whereas Turks up to the present have preserved a dominating one. Theriault also warned of allowing recognition of the Armenian Genocide to become primarily a means for reforming contemporary Turkish society. While that aim is important, he noted that it cannot supplant the more profound need for restitution and reparation for the victim group.
"There's nothing that can ever make us, in my opinion, feel OK about the Armenian Genocide," he said. "We can deal with it better, but it's a part of history that we have to accept. That's true from the Armenian and the Turkish perceptive."
He continued, "It doesn't mean they [Turks] can't move forward, and it doesn't mean there can't be very positive social changes that make sure that it can't happen again and that they begin to repair the damage to the relationship with Armenians, but it's still going to be difficult. And I think that is as it should be. That's part of what keeps us aware of how horrible genocide is. You can't ever really get over it. There is no way to say I'm sorry, there is no way to resolve it."
Theriault compared the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink to that of American civil rights movement leaders. "We have to understand that he was not standing up to stand above Turkish society. He was standing up to be equal. To be treated as an equal human being, with the right to say what he wanted to say..."
Professor Theriault's presentation focused on ways in which failure to recognize the power imbalance in the Turkish and Armenian relationship has undercut dialogue efforts while supporting the maintenance of a Turkish-over-Armenian dominance relation itself. Armeno-Turkish dialogue efforts over the past decade have taken various forms, from informal e-mail discussions to academic conferences. Yet, all have shared the same structural assumption: Armenian and Turkish participants, taken as representatives of their respective communities, are treated as equivalent parties in a balanced structure. Theriault stated that this assumption ignores the basic nature of the Armenian-Turkish relationship, which has been and remains a dominance relationship. He argued that meaningful positive change in Armeno-Turkish relations can occur only if the dominance issue takes a central focus.
"Armenians and Turks today exist in a dominance relationship," he continued. He traced its roots to the long-held Ottoman millet system that placed Armenians as second-class citizens in the Ottoman Empire. "This gave way to a period of hyper-domination in the form of the Armenian Genocide, in which it wasn't just control and power that were the issue, it was such a total domination of Armenians that it became eliminating Armenians from the land."
The post-Genocide era, he said, has served to consolidate the hyper-domination hierarchy evidenced during the Genocide. "The Genocide has never been dealt with, which is maybe what the movement towards dialogue is about, to deal with how the Genocide transformed the Armenian-Turkish relationship."
He noted that Turkey and Turks must stay conscious of their prejudicial attitudes of superiority over Armenians. "In genocides, when the killing ends, the dominance relationship does not end. .Many progressive Turks, even though they want a productive relationship with Armenians, still maintain a sense of superiority over Armenians."
Theriault said that both camps must stay vigilant to not only foster good relations in the future but be aware of the relationship dynamics. "When the Armenian Genocide just becomes an issue that's really about Turkish society [and its democratization] and not about the victims or the victim community, Armenians become instruments in another process. That's a very dangerous path to go down."
Peter Balakian, professor of humanities at Colgate University and author of The Burning Tigris, spoke next.
Balakian noted how much prevalence the Genocide has enjoyed in mainstream politics and media after so many years of being marginalized. "And yet, as a kind of leaping process has happened, there's also been a violent backlash from forces inside Turkey. This has created a quandary, a conflict, and a problem to be solved or at least dealt with." Commenting on the murder of Hrant Dink, he said, "He was taking democratic society seriously, and for this he was murdered. He inhabited a delicate civic space in Turkey's complex world."
He then explained how power dynamics still motivate all aspects of the Genocide. "In the ongoing dialogue between Turks and Armenians, it seems important for Turks to acknowledge the issue of power, and how asymmetrical it was in 1915 and continues to be between our two cultures."
"Armenians often felt, and do feel, trapped in a syndrome of reactiveness, because of the inherent asymmetry of power," he continued. "Not to acknowledge this is to de-contextualize the history. I must say, I hope not to spend the rest of my life reacting to the mess of Turkish denial. I would even love to play golf someday."
Regarding the Turkish government's efforts to prevent passage of the Genocide resolution in the U.S., he said, "Congressmen have told me that in their several decades on Capitol Hill, they have never seen a foreign country come to our halls, our government to intervene or try to intervene on any issue as Turkey is doing now."
He spoke about both communities moving, how "Armenians must always be seeking ways to heal and move forward and not get stuck in the rut of their rage or rigidity." And, he said, "Armenians need to listen to Turks talk of their issues, their anxieties, their traumas and their different worldviews."
Balakian ended on a note of universal and progressive solidarity among young Armenians and Turks, saying, "Armenians both in the Republic and in the Diaspora must divest themselves of stereotypes and essentialist notions about Turks and open themselves to the complexity of Turkish society. Only last week, more than a hundred students at Bogazici University in Istanbul staged a protest with the slogan 'Against the Darkness' and chanted Hrant Dink's name and their solidarity with Armenians. These are forces that Armenians want to join with, if they can, and work with."
Following the Balakian's remarks, Halil Berktay, professor of history at Sabanci University in Istanbul and visiting scholar at Harvard University, spoke about his own experiences and perspectives on Armeno-Turkish relations.
He laid the groundwork for his analysis by giving his personal and ideological background. "I feel that since this is a panel and symposium called Armenians and the Left, it is part of my personal history that I seem to have belonged to the Left-or just a Turkish Left, but probably a more international kind of Left-from time immemorial," he said. "My family history, from a very early age onwards, was one of persecution and suppression. I was four years old when my father was taken away in the Turkish fallout of the McCarthy era in the United States and spent some of my childhood years in prison."
Berktay said that during the 1960s and 70s, beginning with his involvement in Yale University's chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, he quickly became entranced in the anti-war movement, and following his return to Turkey in 1969, the militant Turkish Left movement.
Since then, his worldviews have become more moderate and analytical. "I have still retained certain notions of strategy and tactics for building alliances in pursuit of admittedly peaceful and democratic goals."
"By talking to each other, talking about what our relative strengths and weaknesses might be," he continued, "we can perhaps evolve a more comprehensive and sophisticated roadmap for removing that stone [the Turkish state's denial]. . From this, we stand to gain a genuine emotional, mental recognition and therefore closure for Armenians all over the world. For Turks, this can mean a comprehensive and genuine democratization of Turkish society."
Berktay attested that much of what he believes is contradictory to the opinions of Henry Theriault, and that as a Turkish historian who acknowledges the Genocide he would talk little about that historical reality and more about the "civil society politics" of recognition and obtaining recognition.
To make his views on the Genocide clear, Berktay spoke in great detail, saying, "If you want to pose the question, 'Does it fit the existing, the available definitions of genocide?' [my answer would be] of course it fits, and of course it is genocide. . Leave aside the massacres that then ensued, etc. Just by the deportation law and orders, because no discrimination was made as to whether these Armenians were Dashnaktsutiun supporters, whether they were involved in Hnchak activity or this or that, and no evidence was so defined or given, and because they were targeted as an entire ethno-confessional group, simply as Armenians, in terms of the 1948 Convention-even if there had been no deaths-this is tantamount to destroying the social, cultural mold social existence of an entire social group, or religion, or minority, or whatever you choose to call them." He talked about the formation of the Special Organization to implement the policies of genocide concocted by Talaat, Enver and Djemal Pasha, noting, "It is fairly clear that [the Genocide] happened as a result of two different sets of orders from Istanbul," one for deportations, another for killings.
As a thorough historian he admitted, "Do we have direct proof of these secret orders? No, we do not. That is to say, we do not have a single telegram or two that we can point to as actually ordering state functionaries or operatives to slaughter this or that group of Armenians. But we do have an enormous amount of indirect evidence, of circumstantial evidence, so that in fact whether things that surface from illegality or extra legality, it is fairly clear what happened. We have something very close to a smoking gun, in terms of present American political idioms." He deemed the massacres of 100,000 to 150,000 Mamara region Greeks by the Turks from 1913-14 as a "dress rehearsal" for the Armenian Genocide.
Berktay then chronicled the story of Turkish denialism and revisionist history regarding the Genocide. "One interesting aspect of late 20th, early 21st century Turkish nationalist denial is that its spokesmen or proponents have, it seems, stopped to read or forgotten about all the Turkish memoirs and media journalism accounts that were published in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1930s, denialism did not exist. There was no question in Turkish society of the late 1920s and 1930s that Ottoman Armenians had by and large been uprooted, exterminated or annihilated. There were basically two opinions: Was this good or was this bad? But there was no question of this having happened. These sources are easily available today. They are not archival documents we're talking about."
Bringing home how Turkish society and denialism became so prevalent today in Turkey, Berktay recounted, ".With the national education apparatus and the media basically in the hands of the nation state, you can see how completely amnesia can develop over a generation or generation and a half. . On top of this, it was from the late 1960s and 1970s that a much more comprehensive denialist discourse was constructed and began to be systematically propagated. At least in some part related to the-at that time-assassination attempts on Turkish diplomats."
Berktay described the status quo of the Turkish state, stating, "This denialist discourse became more and more established, absolute, proceeding way beyond its tactical objectives. After a point, I would like to suggest, the Turkish political class started comprehensively believing it. The more it was repeated the more it became a kind of national line with a political impossibility from breaking away from it."
He continued, "Turkey's biggest weakness is the enormous gap that has developed between domestic knowledge and world knowledge, which has enabled the establishment to constantly maintain that these are all baseless fabrications and slander being imposed on us from the outside. We have to keep struggling to inform and educate Turkish society. I don't mean convincing every one of 80 million Turks that it was genocide, but at least we have to be able to democratize and normalize the conversation inside Turkish society."
Berktay asserted that there were larger numbers of liberal and like-minded or dissent-minded Turks who need to be approached, saying, "Turkish society is big and therefore it is heterogeneous. It is enormously more heterogeneous than what most Armenians or Greeks realize from the outside. This is not just in terms of region differences but in terms of enormous educational and political differences."
Lastly, he praised the Armenian Diaspora for producing copious amounts of literature and memoirs about the Genocide and advocated their continuance. But he warned, "Don't take short cuts and reduce everything to the word genocide so that it becomes a buzz word and cliché that summarizes all the previous evidence but also substitutes for it so that it becomes too much of a cryptic short-hand to the uninitiated."
(Sevag Arzoumanian and Doug Geogerian contributed to this report.)
(c) Armenian Weekly On-Line, Volume 73, Number 15, April 14, 2007
Genocide Denial in Texas University Exposed
Dallas, TX - On Saturday, April 14, 2007 the Armenian community of Texas rapidly mobilized to counter Genocide denial in their own university system. A conference on "Turkish-Armenian Dialogue" (officially entitled "International Conference on Turkish-Armenian Dialogue") slated to take place at Southern Methodist University (SMU) was discovered early last week by the ANC of Texas. Similar to the UT-Austin conference two weeks ago entitled "Ottoman Diversity and Multiculturalism," the conference was an all day event. As the conference was to take place in their backyards, activists in Texas set out set the record straight on the conference and its purpose.
With local, regional and national collaboration involving grassroots activists, the ANCA, ANCA-WR, and the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church joined forces with the Armenian community of Texas to counter the attempts of genocide denial making inroads at SMU and the university system of North Texas. These attempts by genocide denialists coincide with local efforts to build support for the Armenian genocide resolution, H. Res. 106 which awaits a vote in the U.S. Congress.
In a few short days, these combined efforts, buttressed by an ANCA action alert asking activists from across the nation to contact SMU requesting that the university withdraw its support regarding this misleading conference, resulted in an official withdrawal of all credible speakers and the removal of SMU sponsorship of the genocide-denial masked as dialogue event. No local, national or international Armenian presence was invited to the event, except for the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, who is bound under the repressive laws of the Republic of Turkey, including Article 301 under which Hrant Dink was charged and convicted prior to assassination this year in Istanbul.
Local Armenians achieved official withdrawal of SMU's Office of the Chaplain and University Ministries' sponsorship and the Chaplain to the University, Dr. William M. Finnin, Jr. Several other speakers also withdrew per learning that the speakers list of the conference included many denialists. Community and ANCA activists ventured into the conference itself, opening the very beginning of the conference by expressing disapproval from within the audience for all attendees to hear. Activists delivered statements which highlighted the lack of Armenian participation in an event billed as dialogue which concealed genocide denial agendas, Article 301 which acted to prevent the only Armenian presence on the panel and general anti-Armenian propaganda. The organizers were unable to cite a single Armenian community member, religious figures outside Turkey or scholars who were notified of the event.
The official letter of withdrawal by William M. Finnin, Office of the University Chaplain was read by a Texas Armenian ANC activist to all attendees present in an audience numbering 400 people. Additionally, the organizers attempted to intimidate a local North Texas professor of Armenian origin who calmly and professionally asked a question about whether the written questions were filtered. When the organizers turned the security on this professor, other attendees at the conference voiced loud disapproval at the questionable treatment of a Texas Armenian professor in a conference labeled as a "dialogue".
During a lecture on the Armenian Identity in Diaspora by Turkish sociologist Dr. Huseyin Cakillikoyak, the Armenian Genocide was outright denied three times in addition to the damage of the deportations. The Diaspora identity in the US was defamed unabashedly and one Texas Armenian silently turned their chair around to the speaker to silently show the backwards nature of the discussion at hand. Most voted with their feet, and all efforts were successfully made to reveal the charade of genocide denial masked in academic speech.
The Armenian community of Texas will continue to coordinate efforts locally and beyond to pursue the truthful, just path of official recognition of the Armenian genocide through H. Res. 106 and shall remain vigilant regarding the coordinated efforts of the Turkish government to fund genocide denial propaganda conferences at universities and or on Capitol Hill.
The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Armenian National Committee of Texas
The Diaspora and the Armenian Media
By Khajag Mgrditchian
Almost every Diasporan media organization has published articles analyzing various facets of the Armenian press. Similar discussions are abundant in the media in Armenia too. But as a follow-up on the comment released by the participants in the ARF Media Conference held in Yerevan, we would like to focus more on the issue of Diaspora-Armenia reciprocal recognition. We all are witness to the gloomy approach adopted by the media in Armenia toward this important issue, but for those working in that same field this issue is much more obvious.
The fact is that Armenia receives proper coverage and its issues are appropriately discussed and analyzed in the Diasporan press. As a result, the Diasporan reader is well informed of developments in Armenia, of its social and economic situation, the country's political dealings, and of strides in the cultural and educational arenas. Diasporan readers are even acquainted with the names of individual contributors, editors and analysts in the Armenian media and its affiliates. The Diasporan press's mission to acquaint its readers with Armenia did not follow the second independence of Armenia. The Diasporan media undertook the same role during Soviet rule, although part of it used to underline the positives and the other the negative aspect of Soviet Armenia.
Understandably, the Soviet press took biased positions towards Diasporan issues. However, even the Soviet press recognized the importance of raising issues that mattered to the Diaspora. Unfortunately, the second lane of the road of mutual recognition between Armenia and the Diaspora through the media is not currently functioning. In other words, the media of the Republic of Armenia does not sufficiently realize the importance of discussing, examining and analyzing the Diaspora. As a result, the public in Armenia has a view of the Diaspora that is too far from reality. But for the sake of fairness, we should mention that there is a very small number of media organizations in Armenia, like the "Azg" daily newspaper and "Yerkir Media" TV station, that provide at least some information about the Diaspora and its issues.
Naturally, the Diasporan media and the attitude of Diasporan Armenians visiting Armenia have their share of the blame. However, the main responsibility of acquainting the Diaspora to the Armenian public falls on the Armenian media.
This fact raised by Diasporan journalists is accepted by most Armenian media organizations in a spirit of self criticism. Those who do not accept it try to prove their point by invoking the meager amount of information provided by the few outlets mentioned above.
The core of the issue lies in the fact that Armenian reporters themselves aren't well informed when it comes to the Diaspora and its issues. Thus, in order to improve Armenian press, the following steps are necessary:
1- The Armenian press must not comment on issues it does not have sufficient knowledge or understanding of. Before analyzing or commenting, the media of Armenia must first learn about the Diaspora so that they do not lead the public in Armenia to misconceptions.
2- Armenian media must follow the Diasporan press even if the content of that press so not represent the expected quality and the news they cover do not steer interest. But the Diasporan is the exact reflection of the Diaspora itself.
3- Communication between media organizations from Armenia and the Diaspora must become more frequent. Although certain groups are trying to serve this need, but true and all-encompassing communication can only be realized by the Armenian government. Organizing disorganized Armenia-Diaspora conferences every few years is not the answer to the question. Another solution is needed.
It's possible to compose a longer list of necessary steps, but what we want to emphasize is the importance of mutual recognition, which holds the key to many national issues and difficulties and could put an end to the factional mentality of "Us and Them".
AATL Does It Again
Leading Experts Take on Armenia's Media, Its Environment and Turkish-Armenian Relations
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 31, less than a year after the hugely sucessful Armenians and the Left (AATL) conference in New York, scores of activists, students and intellectuals from across the Northeast converged at Harvard University for a one-day symposium organized by AATL. Co-sponsored by Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the symposium featured leading Armenian journalists and media critics, groundbreaking environmental activists working in Armenia today, and outspoken proponents of meaningful Armeno-Turkish dialogue.
The panelists criticized the ruling elites-oligarchs and plutocrats-in Armenia, whose complicity in perpetuating endemic corruption has created enormous inequality and has placed Armenia's very sustainability at risk. They also took aim at the Turkish state which has created an environment of impunity for vigilantism, as was recently seen in the assassination of the Istanbul based Armenian journalist and human rights activist, Hrant Dink. Members of the audience engaged in active dialogue during lively and heated question and answer sessions, which were often as substantial as the presentations themselves.
Conceived by the ARF USA-Eastern Region, the series of public forums and conferences organized under Armenians and the Left strive to present Armenian issues in a global, progressive context. They are meant to appeal to all those-Armenian and non-Armenian-who have an activist mindset and an appreciation for what binds the various plight of dispossessed groups, and are alarmed at the menacing trends that are threatening the world and its people.
During the final plenary session moderated by Dikran Kaligian, professors Peter Balakian of Colgate University, Halil Berktay of Sabanci University in Turkey, and Henry Theriault of Worcester State College explored the controversy of how Armenians and Turks can honestly deal with the legacy of the Armenian Genocide and Turkey's ongoing, violent campaign to deny it.
A panel on media and social injustice in Armenia, moderated by Antranig Kasbarian, featured Armenia's foremost investigative journalist Edik Baghdasaryan of Hetq, Khatchig Mouradian of the Armenian Weekly, professor Gayane Torosyan of the State University of New York, and Steve Kurkjian of the Boston Globe.
A panel on the fragile state of Armenia's environmental conditions and energy needs, moderated by Jeff Masarjian, featured president of Armenian Forests NGO Jeffrey Tufenkian, nuclear power industry expert Robert Kalantari, and founding director of Armenian Environmental Network Ursula Kazarian.
Grassroots Campaign To End The Cycle Of Genocide
WASHINGTON (A.W.)-From March 22-23, the ANCA and the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net) organized a grassroots campaign on Capitol Hill to encourage U.S. Representatives to end the cycle of genocide worldwide.
ANCA and GI-Net activists from throughout the U.S. visited the offices of every Congressman and Senator, and asked them to support the Armenian Genocide resolution, provide more funding for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, and co-sponsor the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act. The latter authorizes U.S. states to divest from foreign companies-mainly in the oil export and mineral extraction sectors-that are funding the genocide in Darfur.
The campaign began early on March 22 with a breakfast for the activists on Capitol Hill. The ANCA and GI-Net then introduced their activists and provided briefings about the Armenian Genocide resolution and the situation in Darfur, with information on how to conduct a grassroots campaign and help end the genocide there.
GI-Net activists explained how their mission is working to end ongoing genocides and remembering past genocides. They underlined the 3 ways in which GI-Net strives to end the cycle of genocide: a) protection of civilians who are currently being subjected to genocide, b) building political will against genocides and c) create a permanent anti-genocide constituency.
Speaking about the situation in Darfur, GI-Net activists said, "If the Sudanese government had its way, they [the population of Darfur] would all starve in the desert." They explained how it was important to work for a comprehensive peace process and a UN peacekeeping mission, and in the meantime support the Africian Union (AU) peacekeepers already installed in the troubled region.
Speaking about the Sudan Divestment Authorization Act, activists explained that divestment should be used as an economic tool to increase pressure on the government of Sudan that arms the Janjaweed militias committing the genocide in Darfur.
In turn, ANCA activists explained how in the 20th century U.S., there was no permanent anti-genocide constituency, which is why the awareness on the Armenian Genocide started disappearing in the late '20s and early '30s and other genocides took place with little or no intervention by the U.S. they then presented some arguments that can be made against the Armenian Genocide resolutions presented to the House and Senate and how to counter them.
The ANCA activists underlined the fact that "recognition without action leave genocide as a hollow word." They said that they want to pass on the experience of the Armenian Genocide to make future genocides less likely.
Capitol Hill Observance At 5:30 p.m. on the same day, the ANCA and GI-Net organized a Capitol Hill Observance at the Rayburn House Office Building, with a large number of supporters and activists present.
The Observance began with opening prayers by Der Sarkis from the Church of the Holy Cross. ANCA executive director Aram Hamparian, GI-Net executive director Mark Hanis and ANCA chairman Ken Hachikian offered remarks, along with Congressmen John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), David Dreier (R-Calif.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.).
An Interview Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.)
By Khatchig Mouradian
The following interview with Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) was conducted on March 23 in Washington. He is co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
Armenian Weekly-On March 9, together with 16 colleagues, you introduced a bill allowing Cypriot-Americans to seek compensation for their property in Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus. What is the importance of this bill? Frank Pallone-We don't recognize the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. Those who occupied Northern Cyprus took the property of Green Cypriots without permission and appropriated it for their own purposes. The people who own the land should either be able to go back or get compensation, and the Turkish government has done nothing to provide compensation.
A.W.-Whenever Cyprus, the Kurds or the Armenian Genocide resolution come up,
one of the most common arguments heard is that Turkey is changing and that
we should wait until it comes to terms with its past rather than pressuring
it and potentially causing a backlash.
F.P.-I would differentiate between the government and the people. I think that increasingly the public, particularly the intellectuals and educated people, would like to see Turkey become a member of the EU, recognize the Armenian Genocide, get out of Cyprus, and not treat the Kurds as lesser citizens. I, too, believe that the Turkish people are moving towards a democratic society, respect for human rights, but the leadership, the government, doesn't share that. They continue to have a hard line on almost every one of the issues I mentioned. I hope that at some point the leadership catches up with the public. But that's not happening now. I don't know when that will happen, but I just think at some point it will and we just have to keep agitating and keep saying that the government policies in Cyprus, and against the Armenians, against the Kurds are not acceptable.
A.W.-There is constant talk that Turkey and the Bush Administration are putting enormous pressure on Congress so that it drops the Genocide resolution. Can you talk about the specific actions taken by Turkey and the administration?
F.P.-Every time Congressmen and elected officials go to Ankara or Istanbul, they are lectured for hours about how the Genocide didn't occur. And they receive threats about how if the Genocide resolution is passed, the soldiers in Iraq are not going to be safe and that they are not going to provide any help in the U.S. efforts in Iraq (not that they have done much anyway). There's a combination of genocide denial and threats against American soldiers and American policies. Congressmen have to hear about how genocide never occurred, how we should have a commission that looks into what happened, how Turks always treated the Armenians so well, and there were even Armenians in the government in 1915.
They are doing the same thing here. They go around to the Members [of Congress] and lobby them. In some cases, they have even had soldiers in Iraq call Members of Congress and say, "I'm afraid the Turks are going to punish us in some way if you pass the Genocide resolution."
And the administration goes along with it and does the same thing. They call the Members, they meet with the Members, they say this is going to threaten American soldiers, or they suggest that there was no genocide. It's pathetic.
I don't think the threats have any impact. They have increasingly moved from threats toward more denial, because I think the threats have backfired. And I believe denial never ceases. You still have the denial of the Holocaust. The German government put up monuments commemorating the Holocaust and Iran is having conferences saying the Nazi Holocaust never occurred. Even some Americans say it never happened.
There will always be people out there denying the Genocide. If the people accused of committing genocide are one's ancestors or friends or somebody they respect, one doesn't believe or doesn't want to believe that they are capable of it.
'The Bastard of Istanbul'
Reviewed by Michael Leone
The Bastard of Istanbul
By Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak is a French-born writer of Turkish descent who returned to Turkey with her mother after being reared in Spain. She has a Master of Science in gender and women studies, and a PhD in political science. According to the biography on her website, Shafak's "academic background has been nurtured by a critical, interdisciplinary, and gender-conscious rereading of the literature on the Middle East and West, Islam, and modernity." She is also an activist, a journalist, and a professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson. A polyglot, she has written novels in French and Turkish, and now, with the publication of The Bastard of Istanbul, her second novel in English.
Shafak would probably be little known in this country if it were not for her tangle with Turkish authorities. Like her peer, Orhan Pamuk, Shafak was accused of violating Article 301 of the Turkish penal code for "insulting Turkishness," which is, of course, a government euphemism for telling the truth. Shafak had the audacity to refer to the 1915-1923 eradication of 1.5 million Armenians. Though Shafak was acquitted of the charge, in a twist of irony, the episode reinforces the theme of the novel: the lengths we will go to preserve cultural amnesia over our dark history.
Most of the characters in Shafak's novel, like Turkey itself, are haunted by some horrible memory. The main character and instigator of all the action of the novel, Zeliha Kazanci, has done the horrible un-Turkish thing of having a child out of wedlock. Determined to abort the child, she receives a haunting image of Allah while on the operating table and falls into a swoon. She decides to keep the baby and cancels the procedure.
Zeliha is one daughter of four in a household full of carefully calibrated female eccentrics. There is her mother Gülsüm, "who might have been Ivan the Terrible in another life"; her oldest sister Banu, a full-time mystic with a clientele of local fortune-seekers; Feride, a woman with a long history of mental illnesses, some imagined, some real, who suffers from "hebephrenic schizophrenia"; Cevriye, a schoolteacher, who believes that "every Turkish citizen, no matter how ordinary she might be in society, had a duty to proudly represent the motherland vis-à-vis the whole world"; the great-matriarch Petite-Ma; and of course, the bastard of the title, Asya, a self-described nihilist, as mule-headed as her mother, ever-determined to live a life oblivious to her past.
There is also a male, Mustafa, who has managed to survive the longest of any male of the Kazanci family. His method of shedding himself of his past (he, too, has a dark memory he's hiding from) is to clamber to America where he will all but sever ties with his family. He gets involved with an Armenian woman named Rose, and becomes the stepfather of Armanoush ("Amy") Tchakhmakhchian. Rose delights in getting involved with an Armenian, knowing how much it will anger her alienated husband and Turkish in-laws. If all of the above sounds confusing, that's because this ambitious novel covers not only two sets of families from two different cultures living on two different continents, but comes equipped with flashbacks that go back to the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Fortunately, we are in the hands of a deft novelist who manages to orchestrate these diverse scenes and settings with a dexterity to be envied.
Shafak sets the abiding tone of the novel in the third chapter, when Rose's in-laws, who are Armenian, discover she has taken on a Turkish boyfriend. Amy's paternal grandfather, Dikran Stamboulian, says, "What will that innocent lamb tell her friends when she grow up? My father is Barsam Tchakhmahcchian, all my family tree has been Something Somethingian, and I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives at the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915, but I myself have been brainwashed to deny the genocide because I was raised by some Turk named Mustafa?" (53-54).
Though the Armenian viewpoint, as demonstrated through Dikran, is mawkish and narrow-minded, the Turkish one, as demonstrated by the entire Kazanci family-Cevriye in particular ("The Americans...are misled into believing that Turkey is the country of the 'Midnight Express'"(135)), is no less so. Here is where Shafak proves she is not at heart a polemicist, but a novelist.
When Amy decides to learn about her culture and makes a visit to the Kazanci family, she remains determined to challenge them about their denial of the past. At her first meeting with the family, she reveals her family's past, describing the deportations forced by the Turks on her grandparents and their subsequent deaths from starvation. "Who did this atrocity?" Cevriye asks. When explained that it was the Turks, she attempts to reconcile the truth with her own version of her country's history: "Twenty years in her career as a Turkish national history teacher, she was so accustomed to drawing an impermeable boundary between the past and the present, distinguishing the Ottoman Empire from the modern Turkish Republic, that she had actually heard the whole story as grim news from a distant country. The new state in Turkey had been established in 1923 and that was as far as the genesis of this regime could extend. Whatever might or might not have happened preceding this commencement date was the issue of another era-and another people." (164)
Shafak offsets the bleakness of the novel with humor. The characters are Dickensian distortions, with an air of farcical grandiosity about them. Zany and emotional, they argue passionately around tables cluttered with dishes of kaburga, churek and yalanci sarma, and keep the novel from feeling downbeat.
Asya is also cleverly rendered. A brooding existentialist, she listens to Johnny Cash and hangs out at the Café Kundera with a bunch of artists and bohemian journalists bearing names like the Dipsomaniac Journalist, the Nonnationalist Scenarist of Ultranationalist Movies, and the Closeted Gay Columnist.
Shafak writes a competent English, though the writing is marred by an over-abundance of clichés ("swearing like a trooper," "glued to the screen"), and redundancies ("you should never ever..."). One wonders why she didn't write the novel in her native tongue and have it translated into a seamless English. There are also occasional lapses in pace. In addition, Amy, the counterpoint to Asya, is the least flawed of the characters and thus the least interesting.
The Bastard of Istanbul is a novel that will appeal both to Armenians and Turks, as it concerns issues of great importance to both cultures. Its strength, though, like all books that attempt to speak the truth, is that it transcends the cultural, and is capable of being read and appreciated by everybody. Though it includes a predictable revelation at its conclusion, it remains a remarkable achievement.
Michael Leone wrote the review of The Bastard of Istanbul exclusively for the Armenian Weekly. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and is a regular book reviewer for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Plain Dealer, the Kansas City Star and American Book Review. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
(c) 2007 Armenian Weekly On-Line
SD Hunchakian Party Youth Call For Resignation Of Armenia's Culture Minister
YEREVAN -- Social Democrat Hunchakian Party ?Sargis Dkhruni? student union urged RA Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosyan to apologize or resign for sending a delegation to Turkey for the so called inauguration of the restored Surb Khatch Church which in essence was degrading to Armenians, the Armenian Church and was a continuation of cultural genocide of Armenians.
The RA Culture Ministry did not take into consideration the stances of both Catholicos of All Armenians Karegin II and Catholicos of Cilicia Aram I who acted accordingly when it was revealed that the renovated church would not function as a church at all, but as a tourist attraction as well as a propaganda tool designed to glorify the so called tolerance of the Turkish government.
The student union is also indignant at the announcement made by Deputy Culture Minister Gagik Gyurjian, that the Armenian government is ready to renovate a Turkish historical monument in Armenia and invite a Turkish delegation to the opening ceremony in response to the rehabilitation of the Armenian cultural treasure Akhtamar in Turkey. In a statement, the union stated their frustration with the Cultural Ministry of Armenia: ?Mr. Gyurjinyan doesn?t fully comprehend the significance of the matter. The event at Akhtamar was really a disgrace for all Armenians. The Armenian government played into the hands of Turkish propaganda, no mention was made that the Church was Armenian, the word ?Armenian? was replaced by ?Anatolian,? and the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople was not allowed to place a cross at the alter, and to top it all, a huge portrait of Ataturk along with dozens of Turkish flags flanked the church premises. And now we announce world-wide how ?kind? the Turks are, invite them to Armenia as a sign of gratitude, hang the picture of Andranik and make the Turks cut ribbons under his picture. This will in turn serve Turkey?s interests by raising Turkey?s international reputation on the international level.
If the ministry does not issue a formal apology to the Armenian people worldwide or resign the Union will hold a picket opposing the RA Ministry of Culture.
Massis Weekly Online
ANCA Criticizes Turkey For Blocking U.N. Exhibit On The Rwanda Genocide
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) today sharply condemned the Turkish government for blocking the opening of a United Nations exhibit on the Rwanda Genocide due to an indirect mention of the Armenian Genocide in one of the exhibit's display panels.
"Sadly, this is only the most recent example of how Turkey's campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide perpetuates the cycle of genocide - making the world a more dangerous place and future genocides more likely," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
The Associate Press reported earlier today that the United Nations, bowing to Turkish protests, has delayed the opening of the exhibit, organized by the Aegis Trust, in the international organization's highly trafficked visitor's lobby. The Turkish mission had specifically registered its objections to a reference in the exhibit concerning the origin of the word "genocide," which mentioned that Raphael Lemkin, the international lawyer and human rights activist who coined this term, was influenced by the crimes committed against the Armenians and other mass killings.
Commenting on the exhibit's postponement, James Smith, the chief executive of the British-based Aegis Trust, said, "If we can't get this right, it undermines all the values of the U.N. It undermines everything the U.N. is meant to stand for in terms of preventing (genocide). . . You can't learn the lessons from history if you're going to sweep all of that history under the carpet. And what about accountability? What about ending impunity if you're going to hide part of the truth? It makes a mockery of all of this."
The full text of the Associate Press article is provided below.
UN exhibition postponed after Turkey objects to reference to Armenians
The Associated Press
Monday, April 9, 2007
UNITED NATIONS: A U.N. exhibition on the 1994 Rwanda genocide, scheduled to be opened Monday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has been postponed because of Turkish objections to a reference to the murder of a million Armenians in Turkey during World War I.
James Smith, chief executive of the British-based Aegis Trust, which works to prevent genocide and helped organize the photo exhibition, said the U.N. Department of Public Information approved the contents and it was put up on Thursday.
A Turkish diplomat complained about the reference to the Armenian murders, he said, and Armenia's U.N. Ambassador Armen Martirosyan went to see the new Undersecretary for Public Information Kiyotaka Akasaka and they agreed to remove the words "in Turkey."
Martirosyan said Akasaka invited him to the exhibition's opening, but late Sunday "I was informed that the opening would be postponed, or delayed, or even canceled." He blamed Turkish "censorship" and the country's refusal "to come to terms with their own history."
On Monday, the exhibition in the visitor's lobby had been turned around so it could not be seen by the public. Smith said he was still hoping for a diplomatic solution to the dispute.
"We are very disappointed about it because for us, this was meant to be about the Rwandan genocide, and the lessons from the Rwandan genocide," and to engage the secretary-general on the pledge by world leaders to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing, which Smith said was not happening in Sudan's conflict-wracked Darfur region.
U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed Turkey complained about the exhibition, but he said "the basic concern" was that the review process for U.N. exhibitions, which takes into account "all positions," was not followed. He said there were other concerns which he refused to disclose.
"The exhibition has been postponed until the regular review process is completed," Haq said.
Smith told The Associated Press the exhibition refers to the Armenian murders to help explain the word "genocide," which was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent. Lemkin was inspired by what happened to the Armenians and other mass killings, and campaigned in the League of Nations - the precursor of the United Nations - against what he called "barbarity" and "vandalism."
Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.
Smith said a small panel on Lemkin in the exhibit "says that during World War I a million Armenians were murdered in Turkey." It goes on to explain that Lemkin first used the word genocide in 1943, and then focuses on the Rwanda genocide, lessons from it, and the responsibility of the international community to prevent future genocides, he said.
Haq said "the U.N. hasn't expressed any position on incidents that took place long before the United Nations was established" after World War II.
"In any case, the focus during the anniversary of the Rwanda genocide should remain on Rwanda itself," he said.
Rwanda's genocide began hours after a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana was mysteriously shot down as it approached the capital, Kigali, on April 6, 1994. The 100-day slaughter, in which more than 500,000 minority Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists, ended after rebels ousted the extremist Hutu government that orchestrated the killings.
Smith said the panel on the origin of genocide could have been done without referring to the Armenians.
But once the Armenian reference "was there and approved, we felt as a matter of principle you can't just go around striking things out. It is a form of denial, and as an organization that deals with genocide issues, we couldn't do that on any genocide, and we can't do this," he said.
British Armenian Group Is The Largest Lobby Organization In British Parliament
03 April 2007
114 British parliamentarians are for recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the United Kingdom, Co-Founder and honorary Secretary of the British Armenian Group Odette Bazil stated to a news conference in Yerevan on Tuesday. She said, in order to include the resolution in the agenda one third of signatures of the 665-member parliament are necessary.
“For this purpose the British Armenian Group cooperates with other organizations, which protects rights of victims of other genocides,” she said adding that it is difficult to deal with pro-Armenian lobby in the United Kingdom, since very influential Turkish and Azeri lobby organizations work there.
O. Bazil also said that from the moment of establishing the group the organization has rather enlarged and reached certain success. “When the group was established only 6 parliamentarians were included in it, and now their number has reached 106. This is the largest lobby group in the British Parliament,” she noticed.
O. Bazil informed the British Armenian Group also cooperates with extraparliamentary organizations of the Armenian community in Great Britain, particularly with “Armenian Solidarity” and “Nor Serund” (New Generation), “Novosti Armenia” reports.
A Number Of U.S. Corporations Unaware They “Participate” In The Campaign Against Genocide Recognition
American corporations Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson’s and Cargill’s refuted the information that they participate in the campaign against the Armenian Genocide recognition.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) addressed letters to about 100 organizations to find out if they were involved in the campaign against the Armenian Genocide Resolution. As a response a number of corporations stated, they are not assisting Turkish initiative but also are unaware that their names had been used for such a campaign, “Yerkir” newspaper reports.
In January Turkish media reported that a number of American corporations undersigned the letter, which calls on the U.S. government not to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Armenian Lobby Seeks ‘Genocide' Recognition In UK
Support for a motion at the British House of Commons calling on the government to recognize claims of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire has been steadily growing, adding to worries in Ankara over worldwide efforts of the Armenian diaspora to win international recognition for allegations that it categorically denies.
The number of MPs having signed an "Early Day Motion," or EDM, has reached 100 in the 646-member House of Commons, British parliamentary records showed. The motion, EDM 357, was tabled on Nov. 29 and first signed by Conservative Party Member of Parliament Bob Spink.
Turkey denies Armenian charges that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide campaign at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire during the World War I years, and said there were killings on both sides as the Ottoman Empire was trying to quell civil unrest caused by Armenian revolts in collaboration with the invading Russian army in hope of claiming part of eastern Anatolia.
Ankara is concerned over prospects for passage of a resolution in the US Congress that calls on the administration to recognize the alleged genocide and plans of the German presidency of the EU to introduce EU-wide measures against the denial of genocide and crimes against humanity have increased worries.
The EDM in question reads: “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 recognize it as such; and believes that it would be in Turkey’s long-term interests to do the same.”
An EDM is tabled usually for the purpose of calling for a debate on a particular subject and, since there is rarely time to debate them, the practical purpose of an EDM is considered to enable MPs to draw attention to an issue and ensure other MPs support it. Diplomatic sources say they have been following developments on this front and share their perspectives with British officials and parliamentary members at every chance possible. These sources note that there is not much of a chance that Britain will officially recognize the Armenian claims.
Ankara has been satisfied to learn that government sources reiterated to parliament members that there was insufficient evidence to mandate the official recognition of genocide claims. In addition, the motion cannot be turned directly into parliamentary decisions. Armenian circles in Britain, though, maintain the collection of MPs’ signatures will be enough to keep the subject on the British political agenda.
Similar sources note that the collection of signatures sped up in the wake of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink’s murder and that the Armenian lobby has been using Dink’s murder as a way of increasing support.
SÜLEYMAN KURT ANKARA
CHP Asks For Anti-So Called Genocide Committee
The New Anatolian / Ankara
02 April 2007
The main opposition party over the weekend called for establishment of a parliamentary investigation committee to broaden the scope of strategies in order to forestall so-called Armenian genocide claims and especially the Armenian lobby in the U.S.
The Republican People's Party's call came soon after the U.S. House of Representatives slightly changed remarks over "genocide" in a resolution in favor of Turkey.
The resolution which has no binding for Turkey but is important in terms of international politics, excluded the term "Armenian genocide," but condemned the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January.
The paper, passed on Friday, also replaced the part "Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) for mentioning about Armenian genocide," with a new version worded more cautiously, which reads, "Dink was prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) for calling the '1915 massacre of Armenians genocide'."
A group of CHP deputies led by Istanbul Deputy Sukru Elekdag submitted a motion to the Parliament Speaker's Office on Saturday accusing Turkish authorities of remaining relatively passive regarding the so-called claims.
The petition, which cited that Armenia has made a long way to introduce Turkey a genocidal country, thus a great many Western states has come to use the opportunity laid by mostly Armenian diaspora to steer Turkish foreign policy and reap concessions or avoid Turkey to become a full member of the European Union, said that the so-called claims have come to affect the current international affairs of Turkey as a global threat.
It also said that the claim is engineered as a tool for the racist and imperial policies of Armenia and Armenian diaspora which concentrated on efforts to put forward territorial claims or compensations. "The Armenian side has been carrying out a paramount international public drive through academic publishing, political symposiums, lobbying, and even movies portraying a genocidal Turkey," said the paper.
The petition also admitted that Turkey cannot be called better off compared to Armenia since although it has gave pace to its efforts recently, it is too late and weak to fight Armenian ardor regarding the issue.
Journalists Do Not Just Make Up Stories They Also Speculate
By Obwocha Joselyne
Kenya Times, Kenya
April 1 2007
Sometimes reporters are left with no option but to speculate.
Take a case where there has been a closed door meeting with no press briefing at the end. What is a reporter supposed to do?
We simply round up issues leading to the meeting and try to come up with the most logical reason such a meeting is taking place.
Journalists have a difficult task. The media must provide the public with answers which sometimes the journalists themselves do not have. All we can do is to raise questions surrounding the issue and leave the public to make their own conclusions and judgments.
Journalism is, and has always been one of the most dangerous careers. In countries where freedom of speech is not tolerated, reporters who are determined to reveal the absolute truth about public officials and the government are ever in trouble.
The leaders understand the power and influence of the media, and will often come out strongly against a free press, accusing it of all manner of evils.
The matter of the raid on The Standard and Kenya Television Network is yet to be put to rest. Pro government politicians were more than ready to lead demonstrations all over the country in support of the government, urging the media to be responsible, threatening to ask Kenyans to boycott The Standard if the paper doesn't stop `fabricating' stories.
The insults hauled at journalists covering the event must have left those who understand the role of the Fourth Estate wondering if these people really knew what they were doing. Do these politicians really love this country?
When our artists came up with the Jaza Lorry initiative to raise money and food for hunger stricken millions, where were these politicians? Or were there bigger issues taking away their attention?
Why didn't they donate at least part of their huge salaries to help the hungry? How many of these politicians were at The Carnivore supporting the Dettol Heart Run?
Coming up in arms supporting a government that a majority of people believe is a huge let down and attacking the media has only trivialised the incident to a battle between the government and The Standard Group. Why is the government being selective?
Let us be realistic. There are countless other media houses in this country where the words, impartiality, responsibility and professionalism are alien, Yet they have been left to operate without any interference from the government.
Why now? Why The Standard? Is it because most of its shareholders and gate keepers are supposedly from the opposition, in this government of national unity?
Yet even if they were, don't they have a right to criticize and push the government to keep on its toes, to deliver to Kenyans? Isn't this the main role of the opposition and the press, anyway?
The media has more freedom these days, and it will be ever more difficult to take away even an inch of this freedom.
What International Security minister John Michuki goes a long way to prove how civil former dictator Moi was. Moi had his faults with the media, but they did not come so soon in his career, and not so brutally.
While he created torture chambers for those who opposed the government, let us not forget that it is the media which first revealed the horror therein.
Do you remember how strongly the then government denied these allegations yet in the long run, before they all turned out to be true?
Then there is thing called the Kenya Union of Journalists. Where did this outfit come from with the suggestion to give all foul mouthed politicians a media blackout? Publicity gives power to politicians and popularity to entertainers.
Denying politicians publicity may send them to the world of oblivion, but won't this give them a field day to continue with their vices with impunity, away from the glare of the media.
We should not forget the kind of people we sent to parliament nor the corruption scandals that have erupted since Narc took power. Stop covering them; they might as well engage in all kinds of mischief that may cost Kenyans millions.
Is it not because of the pressure from the media that some ministers implicated in corruption scandals have resigned, or stepped aside, as they would have us believe?
The attack on the watchdogs is testimony to how powerful the dog is. Journalists should adhere to their code of ethics and be there to inform, educate, explain, nay even incite people against their government. It should be understood that the media's first responsibility is to the people, and not to a bad government.
The burning issue this week has been about the two Armenians who have surfaced from nowhere and are claiming to be businessmen, not `mercenaries.'
The two claim to have been in contact with two ODM leaders; Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka. They allege to have funded the Orange group during the referendum, through a `personal loan' given to Raila Odinga.
There is an interesting twist to this incident. While it was Raila who first spoke of their presence in the country, he now denies having met them before.
How then did he get photocopies of their passports, which he showed to the press? Then there is Kalonzo, who admits having met them before, but `for a brief moment in the corridors of a hotel.'
Where on earth did lawyer Fred Ngatia get hold of these people to organize the botched, infamous news conference? What business are these people conducting in Kenya? How comes all useful files that would substantiate their claims and, which should under normal circumstances be easily available to the public, have suddenly gone missing? Why are they being treated like VIPs? Who allowed them in the country in the first place?
When ODM leaders organized a demonstration pressing for freedom of speech, Mayor Dick Wathika, minister Maina Kamanda and Assistant minister David Mwenje organized a demo in support of the government, Raila produced copies of passports of the mercenaries. Then only a day later, they emerged claiming a dubious financial involvement with the ODM leader.
Coincidence? These are the questions. Where are the answers?
Turkish Historian Cleared Of Charges For Declaring 'Genocide'
The New Anatolian
02 April 2007
An Istanbul court decided late in January not to pursue charges against a Turkish historian for declaring a "genocide" of Armenians had been committed during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, daily Radikal revealed over the weekend.
In an article in Agos, a Turkish-Armenian weekly, historian Taner Akcam had written, "The 1915-1917 deportations and massacres of Armenians constituted a genocide."
The complaint against Akcam was filed by Recep Akkus at the prosecutor's office of Istanbul's Eyup district. The charges against Akcam were under controversial Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 301 for insulting Turkishness, as well as various other articles for instigating a crime, praising a crime and criminals, and instigating public animosity and hatred.
The prosecutor's office said that such writing about an alleged genocide is covered by freedom of speech and thus it is not "insulting Turkishness." The Jan. 30 decision came just 12 days the assassination of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, Agos' editor in chief. Dink, too, had been facing charges for insulting Turkishness when he was murdered.
Radikal noted that the prosecutor of Istanbul's Sisli district filed a case against Dink after remarks in which he said, "Of course I say this is a genocide."
In another article titled "Hrant Dink, 301 and a criminal complaint," Akcam wrote, "I believe the 1915-1917 deportations and massacres of Armenians constituted a genocide. I reiterate this at every opportunity. I have written books, articles and even columns on this issue. If describing this as genocide is a crime, I commit this crime nearly every week."
Akcam's lawyer Erdal Dogan also underlined that the decision is late but important within the framework of freedom of speech.
Speaking to bianet, Dogan said "I wish our prosecutors had made similar decisions before Dink was murdered. It's sad that justice was remembered after the assassination of Dink."
Article 301 is a controversial article of the penal code which took taking effect in June 2005, introduced as part of a package of penal law reform in the process preceding the opening of negotiations for Turkey's European Union membership, in order to bring Turkey up to EU standards. It makes it a crime to insult "Turkishness." Since this article became law, charges have been brought in more than 60 cases, some of which are high profile.
Law On Double Citizenship Approved In Armenia And Its Potential Impacts
02 April 2007
Forum Turkish-American Newspaper / ERAREN
The term “diaspora” which originally means “seeds scattered around” in the old Greek is, with its simplest description, a term used for describing the elements of a nation who are living outside the motherland of this nation. While this term was initially used in the old Greek to express the communities which came to a city from outside in order to assimilate those living in that city, later, especially following the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, it was used to describe the Jewish communities living outside the region which the Jews described as “Sacred Lands”. Today although the term diaspora is used for all the communities living outside their own nation-states, it initially brings to mind the Jews, Greeks and Armenians. The reason for this is that these communities cannot easily be integrated into the country where they are present and they usually maintain their own cultural consciousness carefully. In our country, the term diaspora first brings to mind the Armenian diaspora.
Actually, the Armenians constitute one of the most impressive examples for the term “diaspora”. While the population of Armenia is less than three million today, there are approximately five million Armenians living out of Armenia. These Armenians had migrated into various countries, particularly America and France, mainly during the last stages of the Ottoman Empire. Russia, too, had placed many Armenians into various cities of Russia throughout history as a result of different policies. Therefore, today small or big Armenian communities are living in America, France, Iran, Lebanon, Australia and certain South American countries. Diaspora Armenians have largely preserved their culture, religion and language; however, they have not isolated themselves from the community which they lived in and instead they have acquired, first, a big economic power and then a political power. For example, although the approval of the first draft law, which recognizes the allegations of Armenian “genocide”, in 1965 in Uruguay seems surprising at first, it is actually quite natural for the Uruguay Parliament, which has almost no idea about the issue of Turkey and Armenians, to accept this draft law as a result of the economic and political power which the Armenians, who migrated into this country in the late 19th century, gained in time.
As for the relations between the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia; it is impossible to suggest that these relations are not problematic. As a matter of fact, majority of the Armenians living in Armenia criticize the Diaspora, expressing that the Diaspora does not spend its wealth and economic power for the development of Armenia. The frequent intervention of the Diaspora in the internal affairs of Armenia is another subject of criticism. Moreover, some of the Armenians claim that the relations between Turkey and Armenia were strained because of the Diaspora and that the issue related with the opening of the border which could contribute significantly to the development of Armenia cannot be solved due to the aggressive policies of the Diaspora.
The above-mentioned problematic relationship between Armenia and the Diaspora has gained a different dimension with the “Law on Double Citizenship”, which was recently accepted by the Armenian Parliament and entered into force following the approval of President Kocharian. In fact, this draft law is not a new one. Almost immediately after the independence of Armenia, the debate on double citizenship had started; however, it was only last year when this issue was submitted to the agenda of the Armenian Parliament as a draft law.
When the text of the draft law is examined, it is understood that Armenian citizenship can be granted to those who are of Armenian origin and who have lived in the country for three years, and therefore the Armenians of Armenian origin living abroad can enjoy the right to vote. According to the law which David Harutuyan, Armenian Minister of Justice, announced to the public, people who are 18 years old, can express themselves in the Armenian language, know the Armenian Constitution, married to an Armenian citizen or serving Armenia in many significant fields may be granted citizenship. In other words, the expression of the fact that not all the members of the Armenian Diaspora but especially those who are not alienated from the Armenian culture, know the Armenian language and are able to express themselves in this language will be granted citizenship is deemed significant since it indicates the selective attitude of the Armenian Government.
However, the law on double citizenship almost divided Armenia into two. Those who support the draft law are President Kocharian and also the coalition partners in power comprising of the Republican Party and the Tashnak Party. As it is known, majority of the Armenian diaspora consist of those favoring the Tashnaks. In 1994, the Ter Petrosyan leadership closed the Tashnak Party for its illegal opposition and added a clause to the Armenian constitution, which was declared in 1995, preventing double citizenship. However, in 1998, after Kocharian took office as President, the Tashnak Party was reopened and the issue of double citizenship was started to be discussed. The fundamental reason for the Tashnak Party to support this draft is quite clear. The votes to be given by the people who will come from Diaspora and settle in Armenia will enable the Tashnaks to play a more influential role in the Armenian politics, and the extreme nationalist ideas of the Diaspora will be established more easily in Armenia.
On the other hand, the opposition parties such as the Justice Party and the United Worker’s Party which are against the law advocate the view that this law can disturb the relations of Armenia with its neighbors and the fate of the country would be left to those living abroad since the number of the Diaspora Armenians is higher than the number of the Armenians living in Armenia. Furthermore, Justice Party leader Artur Bagdasaryan has written an article in the American Wall Street Journal in which he expressed that Armenia had to normalize its relations with its neighbors and stated that Armenia had largely remained captive in the past and “being stuck in sad memories” had prevented its relations with its neighbors, especially with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Bagdasaryan underlined that the law on double citizenship would make the Diaspora Armenians, known by their radical attitudes, influential in the Armenian foreign policy and this would make the problem further chronic.
This law was accepted in the 131-seat Armenian Parliament with 66 votes against 5 votes. In other words, almost half of the MPs did not go to the Parliament. This fact is considered very important since it reveals the extent of the opposition against the law.
Consequently, although the law on double citizenship is not something very attractive for the Armenians living in developed countries and having a certain level of wealth standard, it can be assessed as an extremely valuable opportunity to take for certain Armenians living especially in poor countries such as Syria and Lebanon or living in Western countries and trying to spread their radical nationalist views in Armenia. It can be stated that the population of Armenia can increase at a certain rate as a result. However, what is more important is the fact that extreme nationalist views will become more widespread in the country. Such a situation will deepen the problems between Armenia and Turkey and will eliminate any possible solution.
Gül Heads To Berlin Days After Snubbing Bremen Meeting
Only days after snubbing an informal Gymnich-type meeting of the European Union that was hosted in Bremen over the weekend by EU term president Germany, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül will depart today for the same country for an official visit.
Gül’s decision for not participating to Bremen meeting itss being announced by the Foreign Ministry in a written statement, has been interpreted as an obvious reflection of Ankara’s uneasiness over the fact that Turkish leaders were not invited to celebrations that were held in Berlin to mark the 50th anniversary of the EU.
Gül has so far attended almost all of the Gymnich-type meetings to which he was invited. Moreover these meetings served as an opportunity for Gül for holding bilateral talks with his EU counterparts on the sidelines of those informal meetings. The Gymnich-type meeting in Bremen will be held at foreign ministerial level and Gül was invited to a luncheon on the second day of the meeting together with foreign ministers of other EU candidate countries.
Nevertheless, German officials downplayed Gül’s snub over the meeting in Bremen bringing to mind the fact that he would be traveling to Germany this week.
While in Berlin, Gül will hold talks with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. On Wednesday morning, Gül will be heading to Cologne where he will present a project of e-consulate services of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Following his meetings with representatives of the Turkish civil society in Germany, he will depart for Ankara tomorrow evening.
A draft resolution drawn up by EU-term president Germany to introduce punishment for denial of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity is likely to come on agenda of talks between Gül and Steinmeier as the draft 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 month. 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 last month 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 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.
Today’s Zaman Ankara
There Are No Reasons To Keep Armenia-Turkey Border Closed - FM
ITAR-TASS News Agency, Russia
March 30, 2007
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian believes that there are no reasons to keep the Armenian-Turkish border closed.
``An improvement of bilateral relations is possible only if the border opens,'' Oskanian said.
Although they have a common border of 330 kilometers, Armenia and Turkey still do not have diplomatic relations.
Ankara demands that Yerevan must stop seeking international recognition of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and helping Karabakh in the conflict with Azerbaijan as a term for the improvement of bilateral relations.
According to international experts, annual Armenia's damages from the Turkish blockade are estimated at 500 million U.S. dollars.
The New German Initiative Can Give Turkey A Headache
April 3, 2007
BARÇIN YINANÇ /TDN
When one hears that Chancellor Angela Merkel is criticized for having given her consent as European Union (EU) term president to start negotiations on a second chapter, one can be slightly temped to sympathize with the difficult position she is in. She has to fine-tune her dual track policy as far as the EU- Turkey relations are concerned. On the one hand, as term president, she has to remain loyal to the commitments given by the Union to Turkey. “Pacta sunt servanda,” is a principle she often refers to when talking to the Turkish side. On the other hand, as the head of the Christian Democrats, she has to accommodate the pressure put on her from party circles and constituents on slowing down the Turkish accession process. This might be a particularly difficult task since; she is known to be a staunch believer in a privileged partnership instead of membership. Hence, it should not have come as a surprise when the German presidency did not invite Turkey for the EU's 50th birthday celebrations. Obviously, it is impossible not to feel resentment for Germany's total ignorance of Turkey's 40 years of history with the Union.
The fact that German presidency decided to leave Turkey out of the celebrations does not have an immediate concrete effect in Turkey's accession process. So we should not get stuck on this. It is however another decision by the German presidency that should preoccupy the minds of the Turkish officials; since not only can it have implications on Turkish accession process, it can also create serious headache on Turkey's efforts to counter Armenian claims of genocide.
Racism, xenophobia and genocide back to the agenda:
“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” says in the press release dated Jan. 21. According to the press release, which can be found on the German Presidency's web site, negotiations on the Framework Decision to combat racism and xenophobia, which have been frozen since 2005 will be revived. The goal is to attain minimum harmonization of provisions on criminal liability for disseminating racist and xenophobic statements. The draft decision also foresees criminal liability for public approval, denial or gross minimization of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
As expected the Turkish side is seriously concerned about this initiative. Turkish concerns were conveyed to Berlin. Apparently, Ankara is not happy with the way German authorities are treating the matter. First of all, it took a considerable amount of time for the Turkish side to get hold of the details of the draft of the decision. Furthermore, the German side does not seem to take into consideration Turkish sensitivities about the issue.
When contacted the German Embassy in Ankara told the Turkish Daily News that the German side was in touch with the Turkish government in order to ease Turkey's worries which were described by a spokesperson of the Embassy as “unfounded.” The spokesperson furthermore said that the Framework Decision applies to EU member states only. Not much of a consolation, when one remembers Dogu Perinçek's recent conviction by a Swiss court because he said there had been no Armenian genocide. The endorsement by the EU of the Framework Decision will undoubtedly reinforce the hands of those who assert that the recognition of Armenian claims of genocide should be a precondition of Turkish membership.
Hence, one is temped to think that one of the motivations behind the German initiative, might be to use the decision as yet another pretext to stall the Turkish accession process.
According to some diplomats and academicians who follow developments in Germany closely, the main motive is different. They are of the view that Germany does not want to be known as the only one guilty of genocide. According to one Turkish diplomat, this will give Germany the possibility to finger point and say, “look I am not the only one, and there are other guilty of genocide too.” Obviously many believe that if another result of the German initiative were a setback in Turkish accession, it would not create a big annoyance in Berlin
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül will see his German counterpart today in Berlin whereas Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet Chancellor Merkel by mid April. I am sure the issue will be taken up during both meetings.
I have heard that the Turkish Ambassador to Berlin has been pressurizing Ankara to give a strong reaction to Germany.
Turkey's bilateral relations with many countries have been damaged because of the Armenian issue. In this case, Turkey might capitalize on the lack of consensus within the EU on the German initiative. Apparently, many member states, Italy among them object to the Framework decision. It might be hence wiser to lobby EU capitals on the issue.
Let's Hope Akhtamar Is A New Beginning
April 3, 2007
CENGIZ AKTAR / TDN
92 years later, a Turkish government had taken a step to rekindle the memory of the greatest disaster Anatolia suffered in its recent past. It was a matter of courage to take such a risk when elections neared and nationalism is exuding all around
In the 1970s, when I used to work as a tourist guide for summer jobs, one of the most interesting monuments I came to know in the east of Turkey was the Church of Akhtamar. One would take a jerry-built raft off a pier, itself jerry-built, to cross to the islet where this magnificent church, used as shooting target by local roughnecks, stood in isolation. This unique monument which was an ancient patriarchate and one of the most sacred places of the Armenian world reopened as a museum last week with a ceremony. In this way, the temple that belongs to world's cultural heritage was saved from further destruction. The second important point is that, 92 years later, a Turkish government had taken a step to rekindle the memory of the greatest disaster Anatolia suffered in its recent past. The undisguisable truth that Armenians lived in those lands, and the massacres of Armenians erased from the public memory was inevitably brought to the agenda with this inauguration. It was a matter of courage to take such a risk when elections neared and nationalism is exuding all around.
Some members of the Diaspora were saddened:
The renovation had no influence outside regarding hot issues such as tolerance and interreligious dialogue, as assumed before and claimed afterwards. Haughty headlines such as “Akdamar lesson” hit the national news headlines, while foreign press sufficed by admitting the encouraging side of the deed done. However, it did not fail, on the occasion, to qualify the 1915 massacres as genocide. Incidentally, the shortest cut to find echo in the outside world remains the opening of the border with Armenia. Therefore, it is more significant and important to appraise the initiative as intended more for home use. In fact, if one day the Armenian problem and the Armenian-Turkish relations were to reach a satisfactory course, this will originate, not from the Europe or the United States but from Turkey and Armenia. As a matter of fact, some members of the Diaspora were saddened by the fact that the church was renovated! If the rediscovery of the cultural memory as well as bringing the Armenian fact to the agenda are the positive side of the matter, there has been sheer clumsiness before and during the ceremony that cast shadow on the foregoing positive aspects. Firstly, the issue of naming the church. It is quite common in Anatolia to derive new city names by kicking off with the similarity of sounds, which may be comprehensible though meaningless. The most striking examples may be the following: Bodrum is derived from the Latin word Petronium but the town has nothing to do with a “basement”. Denizli, which has never had a sea front was invented from Diopolis Rhoas evolving through Donguzlu, Donuzlu, Tonguzluk, Dengizli and eventually to Denizli. Balikesir which has neither any renowned fish nor slave was also derived from the Greek appellation of Palaio Kastro. Makrohori, which meant the farther away village once, later turned to be the Greco-Turkish hybrid word Makri-köy and was finally made Bakirköy. But there was never any copperfield. The same logic applies in the case of “Akhtamar” which is converted to “Akdamar” meaning white vein and the “Ani” ruins in the province of Kars, now called “Ani”, meaning memory. However, these names were changed after 1980. In the 70s, local folks did not utter words like “akdamar” or “ani”. This obsession to convert everything to Turkish is a sign of anguish.
Two thousand Akhtamars:
Likewise, other examples of clumsiness were the omission of cross even though the international restauration rules require faithfulness to the original; no religious ceremony was performed though Armenian clerics were invited from all over the world; the word “Armenian” was not pronounced even once in the official speeches and no translation service was provided for the Armenian delegation.... And the most hilarious, as always, was the protests of some local trade-unionists who instead of minding their own business came there to “save the country”. All in all, the government felt anxious, uneasy. It used various metaphors, neologisms and furtive expressions to name the “Armenian”. It used multitudes of nationalist symbols to counterbalance the event. But at the end of the day it nonetheless made as if it broke a taboo. Although security forces could not be persuaded to reopen the border for once, the Armenian delegation entered Turkey through Georgia and arrived at an Armenian monument, Akhtamar, in eastern Turkey and attended the ceremony together with the Armenians of Turkey. Of more than 2,500 religious buildings existing on the Ottoman territory in 1913, according to the data of Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul, 2,000 are still standing today, though in ruins. While not all of them can be renovated like Akhtamar, most of them can be reclaimed through archeological and cultural works to be carried out jointly with Armenia. As a result, joint historical studies that could not be performed so far can somehow be initiated. Are we for it?
Letters To The Editor - Akhtamar Did Have A Cross!
Turkish Daily News
April 3, 2007
Please allow me not to share your full enthusiasm over a "new beginning for Akdamar."
The picture here was taken from a book (Wat er te zien valt in Armenië, De Aarde en haar Volken, 1907-1908) written at the beginning of the 20th century by Noël Dolens a Dutchman traveling through Armenia. (It wasn't called Eastern Anatolia yet.)
As you can clearly see on the picture, there is obviously a stone cross on the top of the church and it doesn't seem at all that, as you reported, "the church was abandoned in the 19th century, leaving it to the inevitable ravages of time". In fact, like hundreds of other churches all over today's Republic of Turkey, Akhtamar was open to local Armenian worshippers until, what a coincidence, 1915. Then they were of course abandoned and most of them have been destroyed through the decades.
Maybe this picture could help Minister Attila Koç and his advisors who are still wondering if there was a cross or not. I wish these wise men full of tolerance could also notice that there were no giant Ottoman flags nor Sultan Abdulhamid posters hanging on the building's walls, the kind of decorum that experts in restoration call “visual pollution,” a real shame on that remarkable landscape.
Who Should We Bet On In The French Presidential Elections?
As we hotly debate and speculate about who will be sitting in the presidential palace in May, the French are also preparing for a far-from-smooth political transition.
It seems that whoever moves into Élysée Palace and Cankaya this summer is likely to create serious implications for domestic reform, the EU’s future outlook, and foreign policy and security priorities in both countries.
The current resident of Élysée Palace, Jacques Chirac, is leaving behind a controversial legacy of 12 years of rule and a new generation of French leaders who campaigned on a drastic reform agenda to bring France closer to the realities of the 21st century. Chirac was clearly a committed supporter of Turkey’s EU accession and responsible for the current state of close relations, despite some grievances on both sides. His disappearance from the political scene would therefore be a negative point for Turkey’s case in the EU as well as for the future of the bilateral partnership in a number of areas. Nicolas Sarkozy, though a onetime protégé of Chirac and a strong contender for president, shows from his rhetoric that he will not fit into Chirac’s shoes as a trusted friend of Turkey when the time comes to discuss how to move the EU-Turkey train towards accession by 2014.
The way the French elect their president carries some inspiring lessons for us in terms of having a president who represents the whole of the country. In order to be qualified as a candidate for the presidency, aspirants are required to be of French nationality and at least 23 years old. They must obtain signatures from 500 elected officials (e.g., mayors and members of the parliament) supporting their candidacy. These endorsements from elected officials (known in French as “parrainages”) must be from at least 30 different departments or overseas territories, and no more than 10 percent can be from any one department. Candidates must also submit a statement with details of their personal assets.
With two candidates running neck-and-neck and a third one close behind them, France is heading towards the first round of its 2007 presidential election, scheduled to take place on April 22. The second round will be held, if no candidate wins a plurality of 50 percent or more of the vote, on May 6.
There is no shortage of candidates: François Bayrou (from the Union for French Democracy, a longtime ally of the UMP, which has now embarked on a course of more marked independence), Jean-Marie Le Pen (of the National Front, a far-right party which promotes policies of strong law enforcement and strong measures to control immigration), Ségolène Royal (selected by the French Socialist Party on Nov. 17, 2006 to be the party’s candidate for the election, and the first woman to represent a major French party in a presidential contest), and Nicolas Sarkozy (of the Union for a Popular Movement and the current interior minister).
I was hoping that Nicolas Hulot, a popular television presenter and environmental activist, would stay in the race as he received much better media and public reaction than other contenders. When he announced that he would not be a candidate, Hulot disappointed many supporters including Göksin Sipahioglu (known in France as the generalissimo of the world media and former owner of Sipa Press), for whom he worked for several years in Paris.
In a style which you will find familiar from Turkish politics, Chirac, an old political fox of the past 42 years in France, is hurrying up to appoint his allies and close friends to key diplomatic, judicial and government positions. One appointment is of particular significance: He made Jean-Louis Debré, the former speaker of the National Assembly and a long-standing supporter, president of the Constitutional Council, drawing criticism from his opponents, who accuse Chirac of seeking to protect himself from possible future prosecution after his departure from office.
This may matter in the coming months and years.
Magistrates investigating a party-financing scandal at Paris City Hall in the early 1990s, when Chirac was mayor, sought to summon him for testimony in 2001. Protected by presidential immunity, he was able to avoid the summons. But when he moves out of Élysée Palace in May, that immunity will expire. Several of his former allies have already been convicted for their involvement in the scandal, including Alain Juppé, his deputy at City Hall.
The key issues around which the French presidential election is being fought include:
The Far Right: The National Front, long dismissed as a fringe party, stunned many when its leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, reached the second round of the 2002 elections. Le Pen’s points of focus -- law and order and immigration -- are now openly being taken up by politicians such as Sarkozy. Le Pen is now 79 years old, the same age De Gaulle was when he stepped down from the presidency in 1969. Nevertheless, Le Pen’s chances cannot be ruled out. His approval rating in opinion polls markedly increased after France’s riots in 2005.
Disarray of left-wing parties: During the 2002 presidential elections, a number of left-wing candidates ran for office, which was one reason for the defeat of Socialist candidate Lionel Jospin. Since then, the left has been split between a “mainstream” left, represented by the French Socialist Party, which accepts the market economy, and some parties and groups further to the left that question or reject the market economy.
Jobs and unemployment: France has long had an unemployment rate close to 10 percent. Employment and employment conditions are a perennial concern for the French.
High-level political scandals and disrepute: A number of scandals have tainted various French politicians, including Chirac, with some, such as the former prime minister, being convicted. The recent Clearstream affair was exposed as a sordid case of forgery and denunciations involving major politicians from the ruling UMP coalition.
European disunity: This French presidential election follows the EU Constitution rejection vote in 2005, which has thrown into question the future direction of the European Union.
Europe and the far-left: The victory of the “no” side during the referendum on the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe in 2005 hasn’t been exploited yet by the left parties or organizations that supported it.
Law and order: During the 2002 campaign, law and order came to the forefront, especially with respect to unruly youths from poor suburbs. In late 2005, significant unrest erupted in some of these suburbs. Again, law and order will be issues in the forefront, with mainstream candidates tackling the problem of reining in unruly youngsters. Already, right-wing candidate Sarkozy has proposed measures to change the criminal process for youngsters, while Royal has proposed putting unruly youths to centers under military discipline.
The front runner -- according to almost every poll since the turn of the year -- remains Sarkozy, who will soon step down as minister of the interior to concentrate on the election campaign. Just trailing Sarkozy in the polls is Royal, who has an ambiguous attitude regarding Turkey’s EU accession, just like in any other issue.
Until late February it looked as if the election would be a straight fight between these two candidates. The surprise since then has been the emergence of a strong third candidate in the form of François Bayrou, a sometime ally of the UMP who has been increasingly looking to differentiate himself from the ruling party of late. Note that Bayrou is a stern opponent of Turkey’s EU membership -- more or less along the lines of other European Christian Democrats such as Angela Merkel of Germany.
With Sarkozy looking to secure support on his right and Royal support on her left -- both motivated in part at least by the potential threat posed by Le Pen of the National Front, who knocked out the 2002 Socialist candidate, Lionel Jospin, to win through to the second round -- Bayrou has found space in the center to gain that most precious of political commodities, real momentum, since early March.
According to opinion polls, the three leading candidates now account for around 75 percent of voters who express a preference, while only 53 percent actually voted for the three top candidates in the 2002 first round. So the possibility of a real shock on the lines of Le Pen’s first round result in 2002 looks slim. That said, Le Pen could still play a significant role. He stands at just 12-14 percent in the polls; but an unusually high 81 percent of his backers say they are firm in their choice (compared to 59 percent for Sarkozy, 53 percent for Royal and just 38 percent for Bayrou). Furthermore, he has a proven ability to take votes from both right-of-center and left-of-center candidates, which looks likely to continue to pull Sarkozy to the right (e.g., on immigration and crime) and Royal to the left (e.g., on economic policy), at least until the first round is out of the way.
In these circumstances -- and with all three leading candidates declaring themselves (with varying but still questionable degrees of credibility) a break from the established order of French politics -- it is not that surprising that an unusually high 40 percent or more of French voters are currently saying they are “undecided”. So the big question is probably whether a sufficiently significant number of the “undecideds” are prepared to take a chance on the inevitability of cohabitation under a Bayrou presidency to vote him into the second round and on to victory, or whether there will be a reversion to the two party “tribalism” which has long dominated French politics, leading to the “Sarko vs Ségo” run-off, which had been long anticipated, and what currently looks like a victory for Sarkozy.
It is not only the presidential elections we should worry about. No sooner will the result of the presidential election have been announced on May 10, than France will be launched into parliamentary elections on June 10 and 17. Following the reduction at the start of this decade of the presidential term from seven to five years -- in line with the parliamentary term -- the conventional wisdom has been that France would in the future be able to avoid the challenges of cohabitation, i.e., a president from one party and the parliamentary majority -- and, therefore, government -- commanded by another.
One way or the other, cohabitation has not in the past proved conducive to reform even though the French constitution draws a theoretically clear line between the powers of the president, primarily in foreign and defense policy, and the powers of the government, primarily in domestic policy. Add to this the manifesto commitments of the three leading candidates and, although Bayrou per se may look the best pro-reform option on paper, I think that the combination of a Sarkozy presidency and UMP government would be the outcome most likely to bring some traction to the reform agenda. At present -- albeit with the real possibility of an upset -- that does look like the most likely outcome.
What would this mean for Turkey? It is fair to say that Turkey is not yet a hot agenda item in the presidential election campaign, as was the case during the 2005 French referendum on the new EU constitution. It is unlikely that we will hear any clear support for Turkey, even from Royal, but bear in mind that whatever the candidates could say during the heat of the elections could translate into something radically different when they sit in a position of power and face real-life decisions on how to engage Turkey, a mini-superpower in its region and key to the EU’s longer-term vision, on the basis of French national interests, as well as of the transatlantic strategic agenda
*Mehmet Ögütçü is a London-based senior multinational business executive, a former diplomat and OECD director and can be reached at email@example.com
Seeds Of Hope
Nicole Pope firstname.lastname@example.org
In this column and the ones that will follow I will look at globalization and some of the issues it raises. I have just had the opportunity to attend a workshop co-organized by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York and by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, which aimed to equip journalists with better knowledge of global issues such as food and trade policy, climate change, oil and agriculture, as well as the changes caused by the rise of countries like China and India. The theme today is poverty. Disparities have been growing between rich and poor countries, as well as within countries. Turkey is not immune: the gap between the western, more developed, part of the country and the east has also widened. But nowhere on Earth is poverty more extreme than in sub-Saharan Africa where in 2001, 313 million people lived on less than $1 a day.
Poverty appears so entrenched in this region that many cynics doubt it can ever be successfully tackled. As far back as 1970 developed countries promised to allocate 0.7 percent of their GNP to overseas development aid. In reality the ratio disbursed dropped from .51 percent in 1960 to 0.23 percent in 2002. All too often, the lack of progress in the fight against hunger and poverty is blamed on “poor governance” and corruption in Africa. These are real problems, but they can be overstated. The fact is that only a handful of developed countries have lived up to their financial commitments.
Amid the gloom and doom, there are glimmers of hope. The Earth Institute at Columbia, headed by economist Jeffrey Sachs, special advisor to the UN on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), is conducting an interesting five-year pilot project in 12 extremely poor African villages located in 10 sub-Saharan countries. The goal, in a way, is to test the MDGs, which aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015 on a small scale. A total of $110 was invested for each villager, in line with financial pledges made at the G8 summit of 2005 to help Africa: $50 per capita was provided by the Millennium Initiative, to which another $60 was added from contributions of local governments, villagers and other donors.
Most of the money was spent on a 75-percent subsidy for hybrid maize seeds and fertilizer. The rest was invested in health clinics, schools, wells to provide clean drinking water and life-saving anti-malaria bed nets. Training was also provided to make the project sustainable beyond its five-year duration.
Two years after the launch of the first scheme in the Kenyan village of Sauri (pop. 5,300) in August 2004, initial results were striking: the villagers had gone from chronic hunger to trebling their crop production. They were even able to sell some surplus on the local markets. Because farmers were required to hand over 10 percent of their food surplus to provide school meals, more children enrolled in education. Girls’ attendance, in particular, increased. The Earth Institute calculated that a $40 per family investment in Malawi brought returns equivalent to $400 in food aid. Not only are villagers adequately fed, they also learn to diversify their crops, store surplus in a cereal bank and even become small-scale entrepreneurs to survive as subsidies are gradually reduced. The project is only halfway through its five-year cycle, but results are already extremely encouraging. As Jeffrey Sachs outlined in his book “The End of Poverty,” extreme poverty could be eradicated within our lifetime.
Yusuf Halacoglu: Erdogan Should Demand 19 Countries To Ground Their Recognition Of ‘Armenian Genocide’
03 April 2007
“Prime Minister Rajab Tayyib Erdogan should immediately appeal to 19 countries, which recognized the events happened in 1915 as genocide. These countries should be demanded to ground their decisions to recognize these events as genocide. The Prime Minister should note if these countries can not give proofs, we will break all relations with them,” chief of Turkish Historical Society, Professor Yusuf Halacoglu told the APA’s Turkey bureau.
“I am sure that none of these countries will be able to reply to us within a month. Then the Prime Minister should hold press conference and clarify Turkey’s relations with these countries,” he said.
The professor suspects that some documents in Armenian archives have disappeared.
“We will soon find out whether our doubts are groundless or not. Foreign scientists want to investigate mass graveyards in Turkey, and the government has already given positive answer. Such a mass graveyard will be opened in Hatay on April 24. Unlike Armenians, we announced that our archives are open. Turkey is ready to pay for opening dashnak (Armenian) archives in Boston,” he said.
Chief of Turkish Historical Society also spoke of the necessity of united struggle against claims on ‘Armenians genocide’.
“Armenia does not recognize Turkey’s borders regulated by Kars treaty of 1921. Why does Armenia demand opening of the neighboring country’s borders which it does not recognize? Border is the main means to exert pressure on Armenia – when 20% of Azerbaijani territories are under occupation. No government in Turkey can bring the issue on opening of borders with Armenia,” he stressed.