- Why Should Argentina Cry For Me?
- Gul: Turkish Military At The Hudson Institute Meeting Should Have Walked Out
- Twenty Years Ago Today... Europe's Landmark Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide
- Interesting Comments From A British MP The poor Turks are damned either way.
- An Ideal Multicultural Turkey Can Show The Way VERCIHAN ZIFLIOGLU
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Why Should Argentina Cry For Me?
Argentinean Ambassador to Turkey Sebastian Brugo Marco is proud of being an observer of part of Turkish history. His first post in the early 1970s was Ankara and he still follows developments here.
'Values are universal. You cannot judge the conscience of people. We are the children of the same God. I always say when I speak to religious people from other religions, ‘I feel much closer to you than many people from my country'
According to him many things in Turkey, especially Ankara, have changed a lot, but Ulus has remained the same. Some politicians were the same when he returned to Ankara in 2001. The ambassador is also proud that the most popular street of Ankara is called Argentina -- he remembers the day the street was given this name. His basic belief is in the importance of understanding each other without judging. He talks about the changes in Ankara, tango and the Turks, and the future of the relations between two countries.
It is the winter of 1971. A young diplomat from Argentina, Sebastian Brugo Marco, walks out to Atatürk Boulevard from Bulvar Palas, one of the few hotels in Ankara at that time. It is snowing and so he experiences snow for the first time in his life. In the very first days of his first post, he looks for something familiar. He listens around; he thinks that the people are speaking French. The language he hears sounds very musical to him and not a harsh language at all, but strange. Very soon he discovers that it is better to learn it, because only a few people are able to speak other languages. Even at the movie theaters films are not in the original language, but dubbed. He learns Turkish, spends some nice years in Turkey and likes it. He thinks about coming back to Turkey as an ambassador and he does so in 2001; he finds out that it is totally a new country. Actually he already knew. Although he never visited Turkey between the two appointments, as with most diplomats he retained a special interest in his first post and always followed developments here. When he returns he finds that the most popular street in Ankara is named after his country. He remembers the day when this street was given the name “Argentina,” but that at that time there was nothing there.
“I’m really proud of that,” Ambassador Marco says and smiles when he is asked how it makes him feel. “First of all it is the name of my country. I was there the day that it became Argentina Street. On that day there was nothing there, just buildings. The Pakistani Embassy was there and the Kavaklidere vineyards (now the Sheraton Hotel and Karum) and our embassy was on [what is now] Iran Street, called Riza Pehlevi at that time,” he says.
The ambassador is a little upset that he has been unable to find the photos that he took during those years. He searched for them at home in Argentina, but with no success.
He tells the story of how Argentina Street was given its name. His ambassador at that time, who during his time as consul general in Istanbul had met Atatürk, was very much appreciated in Turkey because of his book on the founder of the Turkish republic, of whom he was a great admirer. When the ambassador asked for an Argentina Street in Ankara it was created within a month.
“So as you can imagine I also had a personal touch in the idea of Argentina Street,” Ambassador Marco says, adding that there is a primary school in Ankara called the Argentina School. “It is close to Armada. It was a very poor district and has changed so much. I go every year to spend some time there,” he says, remarking that he had been there recently for the graduation ceremony.
But Ambassador Marco does not know why the largest beer glass in Turkey is called “Argentina.” He laughs before he answers: “Something I am always asked, ‘Bir Arjantin ister misiniz?’ (Would you like to have an Argentina?) Why do you call it an Argentina? We are not Germans. We like beer, but we are not Germans. I really don’t know. Nobody has an answer for that. I’ve never heard that in other countries,” he says.
However he says that the “Argentina” beer glass is a disappearing trend and was much more common during his first appointment. Not only the Argentina glasses, but many things have changed, according to Mr. Ambassador. “I remember the first day I came back. I asked the driver to take me home and I told him I want to recognize the places, but didn’t know where I was.” It took some time for Mr. Ambassador to get used to the new Ankara. “In the beginning my colleagues, for example, were talking about Bilkent. I asked what Bilkent was. I had never heard about it. There was the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) during my first term and it was out of the city. Oran [Sitesi] was a forest and I learned how to drive there,” he says.
According to him the only neighborhood that remains the same is Ulus. He says it was shocking to him: “I went to Ulus by taxi because I didn’t want go there by car. I was wondering about Ulus. It was so shocking because I saw the same people, the same dresses. Even the colors of dresses were the same. The same men, the same ladies. I thought those people are the children of the people that I knew from my first time. But it was the same.”
He points out that the Turks and their kindness and hospitality are the same. “I find that a few more people are speaking English, because at that time the Foreign Ministry was more French than English. That was very good for me because at that time my English was poor,” he says, adding that people’s mentality hasn’t changed that much either. “I would say that the mentalities of people haven’t changed that much -- it is still provincial. I was sorry that certain aspects of Ankara were lost. Government at that time was pushing Ankara too much. It was subsidizing it for example, spending a lot of money on art. For example at the Presidential Concert Hall I saw the best performances of that time. The concerts were outstanding and it was a real privilege. But on the other hand, the ballet is much better and opera is better now,” he says.
Another thing that makes him sad is that Ankara was much greener at that time, though the streets are still narrow. He says that in the new neighborhoods like Çayyolu the streets are fine, but it is too late now for other districts.
Mr. Ambassador also says that the Ankara Esenboga airport was poor, but more international than it is now. “I used to fly directly to Amsterdam, Beirut and Paris. Maybe they thought Ankara is not worth subsidizing. I hope it will be an international airport again,” he says.
There are some other aspects which have not changed; politicians for example. “When I came back to Turkey I found the same politicians I left more than 20 years ago. [Bülent] Ecevit was prime minister in 1974 and he was again. Mr. Süleyman Demirel was just finishing his presidency. Well of course there were some others. I am little bit proud of having the possibility of being an observer of a small part of Turkish history. It is very useful for my work in many aspects. Since I left I’ve always continued to follow the news. Once you are involved in a country you want to keep informed,” he says.
Turks and tango
“How can I say, I am rather surprised,” says Mr. Ambassador, responding to a question about whether Turks are gifted with the tango. He laughs and explains: “There are many academies in Turkey teaching tango. In Istanbul every night there are events for tango. At the beginning of July, on the fourth, there will be an international tango festival. It is getting more and more important. There are people coming from Argentina for the event,” he says. He adds that he likes Turkish tango, too.
He speaks about a special program about Turkish tango at Hacettepe University that he attended: “It was very nice to see, you know, people who came to sing the tango. There were singers, mostly youngsters, and they do it beautifully. For me it was such a nice thing to see,” he says, and asks a question, “But do you know why the tango came to Turkey?” He answers his own question saying: “Because Atatürk himself brought tango from Paris in the ‘30s. After Buenos Aires and Paris, Turkey was one of very first places tango came,” he says. Mr. Ambassador adds that in his generation people used to sing tango, including him, though he says he is not a good dancer.
But Ambassador Marco still misses something from his country -- the meat: “I like to have Argentinean meat. Not only me, many other people like to have it too because I suppose it is the best quality in the world. Besides that I don’t have that much to miss. We are a country made up of immigrants so what is international is very normal for us e. You have an Italian restaurant here which is like having an Argentinean restaurant. And the pizza house is the same,” he says, but he adds that Turks eat much more naturally than they do. “You have a lot of vegetables and fruits, much better than we do. I think we have to learn from Turkey because you are in the Mediterranean region.”
Mr. Ambassador adds that when he is in his country, he misses pistachios from Turkey. “We love them. For us they are so exotic -- many people don’t know what they are. We only see them on ice cream as they are so expensive and luxurious. I always take pistachios to my country as gifts,” he says.
While talking about immigrants, he is reminded that all the eastern immigrants to Argentina are called “el Turkos” and explains why: “They were called ‘el Turkos’ because they came with Ottoman passports -- they were Ottoman subjects. However they were mostly from Lebanon and Syria. Their immigration started at the end of the century up until World War I. There were also immigrants from Albania and Bulgaria at that time, they were Ottomans too,” he says. He mentions that one of the former presidents of Argentina, Carlos Menem, was nicknamed El Turko. “His family comes from Damascus and they were Muslims, though he was Catholic. His wife, children, and sisters were Muslims. He changed his religion when he was at university. At that time, according to the Constitution, one had to be Catholic in order to be a president. He changed this rule later, but did not convert,” the Ambassador points out.
Ambassador Marco graduated from law school and before joining the Foreign Ministry did his post-graduate studies in international relations. He was posted in Ankara, Salvador, Madrid and Paris. Before appointed here as an ambassador he spent five years at the ministry in Argentina, because he likes being in his home country. His basic principle for diplomacy is based on understanding, respect and knowledge of one another.
“The more we know each other the more we are ready to respect and accept each other. As much as we know each other, we understand and love better. We don’t have to impose on each other, we share values. Values are universal. You cannot judge the conscience of people. We are the children of the same God. I always say when I speak to religious people from other religions, ‘I feel much closer to you than many people from my country’,” he says.
The ambassador points out that he is confident in the future of relations between the two countries. He also mentions that the people of both countries are interested in each other. He says that his brother likes tango very much and he dances almost every night, often meeting Turkish people even in Argentina. Mr. Ambassador also mentions that when he was at home he noticed anything about Turkey in the travel agencies sold out quickly. However he has a common criticism for both countries: “We have very good individuals, but we should be better as a society. We should be able to be like that as a society. That is something we criticize about ourselves. Because you find outstanding writers like Borges, outstanding singers… We have personalities and we should grow up as a society. Turkey is little bit like this, too” he says.
At the end of the interview, I could not keep myself from saying, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.” The ambassador laughs, responding: “When I heard the song for the first time, I was in Paris. Why should Argentina cry for me? The music is beautiful. You don’t have to take it as a sad thing. It is a part of history.”
AYSE KARABAT ANKARA
Gul: Turkish Military At The Hudson Institute Meeting Should Have Walked Out
Speaking to the Hurriyet about a controversial meeting which took place in the Hudson Institute, a US think tank, in which a theoretical scenario involving the assassination of a top level Turkish Constitutional Court judge and a bomb killing 50 people on Istanbul's Istiklal Boulevard were discussed, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said "If what we read in the newspapers is true, the members of the Turkish military who were present at that meeting should have gotten up and left the salon in reaction to such nonsense."
Gul commented further on the Hudson Institute's meeting, which focused on "disaster scenarios" for Turkey, and whose invitation called on participants to join in acting out events which might be significant in terms of pushing Turkey into an over the border operation into North Iraq in pursuit of PKK terrorists taking cover there. Said Gul:
"There are such think tanks that deal in these scenarios in not just the US, but in many countries. These think tanks have fantasies correlated to many nations. The Far East and Latin America are also a part of these fantasies. Some of these think tanks are connected to administrations, and many receive money for their work.....Sometimes they talk about even the most anathema of situations. They cannot be taken very seriously. If what we read in the newspapers is true, any members of the Turkish Armed Forces who were at that meeting should have made their reaction to such nonsense plain by getting up and leaving the salon where the meeting was taking place. I don't know, maybe they did."
Gul also commented on the situation developing in Palestine:
"We are facing a very saddening situation there. Unfortunately, what we are looking at it is two separate Palestines. One is stuck to Jordan (Ramallah), while the other is stuck to Egypt (Gaza). A fight between siblings is a very bad thing. We had warned against this, but now it is clear what is happening. Don't forget, following the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, the number of Afghans killed in the fighting was fewer than Afghanis killed fighting one another. Quite put it quite openly, I fear this will be the same case with the Palestinians."
Twenty Years Ago Today...
Europe's Landmark Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide
-- Second convention of European Armenians announced by EAFJD in Brussels --
Twenty years ago today, on June 18, 1987, the European Parliament became the first major international body to recognize the Armenian Genocide, during its plenary session in Strasbourg, voting on a momentous resolution paving the way "for a political solution of the Armenian issue." After extensive deliberations and resisting immense pressures from Turkey and its hired guns, the European legislators set the record straight on this first genocide of modern times and delivered a landmark victory for justice that Armenians in Europe and, indeed, all over the world have been fighting for.
To mark this important anniversary, and to re-think the goals of the task ahead, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy announces the Second Convention of European Armenians, which will take place on October 15-16, 2007 at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Twenty years after this historic accomplishment, and fifteen years after the re-birth of Armenian independence, the Convention will gather European Armenian grass-roots organizations and prominent personalities from all corners of Europe to focus on the current political priorities of the European Armenian community ranging from Turkey's European ambitions while persistently denying the Armenian Genocide and persecuting its minorities to Turkey's continuing blockade of Armenia, the Karabagh negotiations, the European neighbourhood policies in the region and the prospects of peace and stability in South Caucasus.
The Federation recalls that a key conclusion of the 1987 resolution made clear in no uncertain terms that "the refusal by the present Turkish Government to acknowledge the genocide against the Armenian people committed by the Young Turk government, its reluctance to apply the principles of international law to its differences of opinion with Greece, the maintenance of Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus and the denial of existence of the Kurdish question, together with the lack of true parliamentary democracy and the failure to respect individual and collective freedoms, in particular freedom of religion, in that country are insurmountable obstacles to consideration of the possibility of Turkey's accession to the [European] Community."
"Today, twenty years after the passage of the resolution of 18 June 1987, this paragraph could be restated word for word by the Parliament without the slightest hesitation", declared Hilda Tchoboian, the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. "The European leadership should take note of the fact that in twenty years Turkey has shown no evidence of progress on any of the stated issues," she added.
The Second Convention of European Armenians will pay a vibrant tribute to all the key leaders of 1987 who acted courageously to deliver the Parliament's historic decision. Paule Duport, Henri Saby, Ernest Glinne, Alfred Coste-Floret(+), René Piquet, Jaak Vandemeulebroucke, Stan Newens, Francis Wurtz and all others who carried the torch through painful deliberations. "As citizens of modern Europe, it is our privilege to honour these MEP's, visionary men and women, who voted their conscience on that day and positioned the Parliament at the most revered ethical standards of European values," concluded Hilda Tchoboian.
EUROPEAN ARMENIAN FEDERATION
Interesting Comments From A British MP
The poor Turks are damned either way. If they ban the symbols of Muslim devotion, they're fascists; if they allow them, they're fundamentalists.
Once again, we see Europe's politicians determined, in Gladstone's unhappy phrase, "to turn the Turk, bag and baggage, out of Europe." They will seize on any development - even an abstruse row about the presidential nominee's wife's headscarf - as an excuse to defer Turkey's application for EU membership.
One day we are told that Ankara needs to do more for its Kurds, the next that it is being obstreperous over Cyprus, the next that it should grovel about the 1915 > Armenian massacres. Not all these objections are baseless, but it is striking to see how differently Turkey is being treated from other members.
No one asks the Belgians to face up to what they did in the Congo, or the French to apologise for Algeria. Ankara is especially aggrieved about Cyprus, and with reason: Turkish Cypriots voted to accept the EU's reunification deal, but have since been isolated; Greek Cypriots voted to reject it, but have been embraced.
Some Turkosceptic arguments are plain silly. Last month, MEPs hectored Ankara about getting more women into politics - this despite the fact that Turkey elected its first female head of government 14 years ago, while 18 out of
the 27 EU members have never been led by a woman.
The trouble is that Brussels won't come clean about its real objection which is, quite simply, that there are too many Turks. Under the reheated EU constitution, >voting weights are to be determined by population. Turkey is already larger than every state except Germany; and, while Europe is shrinking, Turkey is teeming. EU leaders are determined not to hand the leadership of their Continent to an assertive, patriotic Muslim nation: they know it would mean an end to Euro-federalism. France and Austria have promised referendums on Turkish accession and, since opinion polls suggest "No" votes of 70 and 80 per cent respectively, that would seem to be that. But no one wants to say so. And so the charade continues, with EU leaders crossing their fingers behind their backs and canting about eventual membership, while reformist Turks pretend to believe them so as to be able to carry out a measure of domestic liberalisation under the guise of preparing for membership. It would have been one thing to say "No" at the outset.
How much worse to string Turks along for perhaps another ten years, imposing humiliating foreign policy climbdowns on them, making them restructure their legal system, forcing 10,000 pages of EU rules on them and then - /then/- flicking two fingers at them. The EU risks creating the thing it purports to fear: a snarling, alienated Muslim population on its doorstep. Turks have traditionally been our strongest allies in the region. They guarded Europe's flank for 90 years, first against Bolshevism and now against Islamism. They deserve better than this.
Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MP for South East England
An Ideal Multicultural Turkey Can Show The Way
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
June 20, 2007
Hakan Akçura, painter, poet and video performance artist, who implemented the “Love at the Hatred Tunnel” Project, is presenting his attitude toward discrimination and racism along with the visual works he prepared
In one echo to the shot that felled Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink last January, a Swedish-Turkish Web artist has launched a new Internet portal aimed at bringing together the distinct cultures of Anatolia: among them Armenian, Turkish and Kurdish.
“This is an exercise for justice,” said Hakan Akçura, an artist based in Sweden, who said he has struggled mightily to make his voice heard as a minority in Scandinavia, a factor that has given him a great deal of empathy with Dink, killed by a teenage gunman filled with nationalist hatred who confessed.
An earlier Web video project of Akçura's premiered at this week's Bodrum International Film Festival. The newest and latest, however, is “Love at the Hatred Tunnel,” a Web-based home for blogs, videos and graphics that has already attracted contributions from more than 20 creative fellow artists across all ethnic hues and geographies.
Such racism is an illness that is hard to cure in this modern century, Açura said this week. Many people around the world lose their lives due to their nationality, religion, language, color and opinion. Just like Dink, editor in chief of the Agos newspaper.
Akçura said that he was concerned about the racist messages posted on the Internet right after the Dink assassination. The period that started with Dink's assassination has prepared the ground for a nationalist wave to continue, he said. He noted that the “wave” continues even as wounds have not yet healed, other nationalist attacks have followed, including the killing in May of three missionaries in Malatya.
Akçura voiced concerns about conflicts between some Turks and Kurds. Which all led to his launch of the “Love at the Hatred Tunnel” project. He calls on those that love Armenians, Turks and Kurds to become involved. To join the project, it's enough to express ones feeling in a video and send it to http://open-flux.blogspot.com. So far Akçura has received many videos.
The artist says that 20 people applied for the project but he expects an immense interest. He is about to examine the videos while he believes that his project needs more widespread support. The artist intends to present the videos to Turkish audiences in Istanbul and Diyarbakir. The reason behind choosing Diyarbakir is that the city has a large Kurdish population. After exhibiting the works in Turkey he plans to take the exhibition to other countries.
'Mr. President let me challenge you to face his'
Akçura is an artist who doesn't keep his views to himself. The execution of ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's affected him deeply and he aroused a bit of international interest when he changed the face of the overthrown Iraqi leader lying in the morgue with that of U.S. President George W. Bush. He posted the video on Youtube. Two experimental videos titled “Mr. President let me challenge you to face his,” which show Bush in a provocative way during the execution process of Saddam made it to the most watched videos section of the “Arts and Animations” category rapidly in January. But not for long. The videos were taken off the Web site with claims that the video embraced violence. Akçura said: “It was said that my video included violence. It was virtual, yet the real execution images were displayed to billions of people on TVs everyday hundreds of times.” The artist says that he sent the video to the White House as part of his virtual campaign for justice.
After Youtube blocked his work, the artist posted the video on Google Video. He mentions that they also blocked it after a short period and his reaction is “My search for justice got stuck in virtual censor.”
Akçura's censored video has been shown at the New York Scope Art Fair. The video, which will be shown in “Time Travelers 2007” this month in Chicago, is being screened in Turkey at the fourth International Bodrum Film Festival that started Friday and will end tomorrow.
Migration and discrimination in Sweden Akçura, says that he experienced many problems as a migrant in Sweden. According to him the system protecting Swedish artists ignores migrant artists. He emphasizes that there is discrimination. Akçura's video called “Open Letter to the Swedish Immigrant Office” evoked lots of comment from the artist society in Sweden and Turkey.
Cohabiting should be encouraged in Turkey The artist is not very optimistic on the near future of Turkey. The thing that affected Akçura in the Dink assassination is that the police had their photos taken with Dink's murderer. Akçura highlights the necessity of spreading the concept of living together in Turkey with the support of art. Akçura expects that everyone, who don't have any concerns about the identity of people, should lend a helping hand to his project. He is happy to publish the call of “Love in the Hatred Tunnel.”
The arguments on identity doesn't mean anything to Akçura and he awaits people with open arms who attach more importance to love than to identity.
Hudson Institute’s Doomsday Scenarios On Turkey Draw Ire
Leaders of Turkey's political and judicial scene have been making statements expressing anger over a recent meeting of the neoconservative and pro-Bush administration US think tank the Hudson Institute, where participants last week discussed the outcomes of possible scenarios on Turkey, including increased terrorist attacks killing 50 people in Istanbul and the assassination of the former head of the Constitutional Court, Tülay Tugcu, by a suicide bomber.
Turkish military officials and civilian experts were also present at the meeting. Former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Tülay Tugcu, who in one of the scenarios of the Hudson Institute's brainstorming session was assassinated by a suicide bomber, made a statement on Sunday. "First, I expect the Turkish officials who were reportedly there to make a statement," she said.
Sources confirmed that Brig. Gen. Suha Tanyeri and military attaché Brig. Gen. Bertan Nogaylaroglu participated in the meeting.
Tugcu said she did not have detailed information on the event other than what she had read in Turkey’s newspapers. She said, “It is saddening that someone who has dedicated her entire life to the law is being treated unlawfully.” Tugcu also criticized representatives of the Hudson Institute, who expressed concern only about how the meeting’s content was leaked to the press. In an interview with the Hürriyet daily printed on Monday, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said the two Turkish generals present in the room “should have walked out.”
“There are many such think tanks in various countries. They fantasize about many different countries. The Far East and countries of Latin America are usually the subjects of their fantasies. This is what most of these organizations are paid to do,” he said. Gül said if the news reports are true, the members of the Turkish Armed Forces present in the meeting should have shown the necessary response and walked out. “I can’t say. Maybe they did walk out,” he told the daily.
Meanwhile, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the doomsday scenarios as “ridiculous nonsense.” Speaking to journalists at a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC) held on Monday at the Sheraton Hotel in Ankara, Erdogan responded to a question on the Hudson meeting with “doomsday” scenarios for Turkey, saying, “Don’t waste your time with such ridiculous nonsense.”
Terrorism should not be seen as political tool
Commenting on last week’s Hudson Institute meeting, Mehmet Dülger, Antalya deputy and chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission, slammed those who see terrorism as a political tool, stressing that it is grievous to see Turkey suffering from negative associations in the international arena. Hatay deputy Inal Batu, a retired ambassador, was not so critical of the US think tank’s meeting, at which the repercussions of possible terrorist attacks in Turkey were discussed. He said: “This is a new trend in the US; they even hold [think tank] meetings in connection with their own countries. However attendance by our military attaché to this meeting was not a proper thing to do. Even if they attended unwittingly [with regards to its content], they should have left the meeting the moment they learned it.”
Dülger, noting that Turkey is located in a sensitive region, stated: “They do not want the countries that are located in sensitive and fragile regions to become strong. The state should be able to preserve its calm in the face of shocks. Turkey’s being associated with negative images is not a good thing. In this respect this issue should not be ignored, but at the same time it should not be overplayed. Can a barking toy dog block our crossing the street? This issue should be seen from this perspective. What is truly distressing is that terrorism is seen a political tool in the international arena. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has turned into pawn and the jobs to be given to it are openly discussed. This should be regarded as only a scenario, without exaggeration.”
Critical of discussing scenarios about terrorism, Dülger added: “Developing such scenarios is very bad, and unfortunately, there are hundreds of organizations that do it. I have not given it much attention. We don’t know what our attachés have done. If I had attended I would have had many things to say. Turkey should show its strength in the face of shocking developments. They know that you will be panicked and they play with it. Nobody wants those who are located in sensitive places to be strong. You have to show them that you are firm and strong. Why do they produce scenarios on destabilizing Turkey? This is the question that we must ask.”
Today’s Zaman Istanbul
Armenian National Assembly Speaker Finds Turkey's Attitude Toward Armenia Unacceptable
ARKA News Agency, Armenia
June 18 2007
YEREVAN. Armenian National Assembly Speaker Tigran Torosyan finds Turkey's attitude toward Armenia unacceptable.
Armenia is willing to establish ties with this neighboring country without any preconditions, Torosyan said as met Friday with a delegation sent by Caucasian-Caspian Commission to the region for collecting facts, as National Assembly's press office reports.
Unlike Armenia, Turkey puts forward preconditions demanding Armenians to stop seeking Armenian Genocide fact recognition.
Besides, Turkey has taken a biased stance on Karabakh openly supporting Azerbaijan's interests and keeps blockading Armenia's borders.
"A country enjoying CE membership and wanting to join European Union mustn't stick to such a stance", the speaker said.
Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations and Armenian-Turkish border was closed in 1993 on Ankara's initiative.
Turkey's blockade inflicts $500mln damage to Armenia every year.
Armenian Genocide: Stephen Harper Condemned Interference Of Foreign Countries Into Internal Affairs Of Canada
19 June 2007
During a roundtable discussion with the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper reaffirmed that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Canada is a government policy and not “the position of the elected guys” as some insubordinate civil servants tried to represent. Stephen Harper also said that he finds it unacceptable the interference in Canadian internal affairs of representatives of foreign governments and pressuring or coercion of Canadians and Canadian organizations to follow certain policies. The Prime Minister condemned such practices, the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) reports. “As the head of the Government of Canada I can not tell you what to write in your newspaper and foreign governments can not tell what to write,” Prime Minister of Canada stated.
On April 24 in his annual address in connection with the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Stephen Harper made a statement, for which he was “roughly criticized” by the Turkish MFA. A week prior to April 24 Turkey had “warned” S. Harper against delivering a speech on April 24, where events of 1915 are called genocide. Canadian Prime Minister was warned through diplomatic channels that “repeating these claims annually will not help in normalizing Turkey-Armenia relations and will harm Turkish-Canadian bilateral relations as well. However, Stephen Harper did not cave in Turkey’s blackmail. He stood firm to his principled stand vis-a-vis the Armenian Genocide issue.
Does Armenia Have A Future?
19 June 2007
Many people speak today about how the South Caucasus is an artificially created region, where the member countries have differing (and sometimes opposing) interests and wishes. Will it unite in the wake of other countries' entry into the region, or the region's desire to be part of broader international bodies? Or will it break down as a result of centrifugal forces? It is hard to tell. What is obvious though, is that this region – where the main attraction seems to be the oil reserves of Azerbaijan – is unsuitable for Armenia, which has been isolated and left out of all programs of regional collaboration. At the same time, the unresolved conflict with Azerbaijan as well as policy positions favoring Russia and Iran in both global and regional issues, have created an unpleasant situation for Armenia, establishing an image which is neither presentable nor attractive in any way.
What are the possible solutions to this situation? One of the proposals is to use Armenia's intellectual resources efficiently and to achieve economic progress through the development of advanced technological solutions. But the sorry state of education and science in Armenia today does not even offer a shred of hope of that happening anytime soon. On the other hand, the government's inability to form realistic and achievable strategic plans or to plan the future based on today's global reality is obvious. One cannot even speak of any constructive activities on the part of the country's political parties.
It is a known fact, for example, that the Armenian government has worked with a number of different forces (ranging from American-Armenian entrepreneurs who have been successful in computer programming to the World Bank) to make Armenia a “new India” in the computer programming global market. This was supposed to give the country a new global image and also facilitate the development of the economy, modernize society and improve living conditions. But it was clear from the beginning, that this objective was not achievable.
The issue of digitizing the manuscripts at the Matenadaran, which caused a lot of noise, showed yet again the sad and primitive standards in this sphere particularly, where Armenia is supposed to have “great potential.” In reality, what is obvious is the absence of experts with basic knowledge and the ability to make themselves understood. The “intellectual” chaos that erupted was aimed against the world and immediately fell in line with ideas such as endangered “national values”, “untouchable cultural treasures” and other similar topics of rhetoric thinking.
Another issue is the whole idea of creating a more democratic society, which is being presented more than ever as a real option for the development of society, gaining positive reaction from the West and for becoming a member of the European family one day. According to that idea, one would hope that democracy would make Armenia competitive in the region, even despite the incompatibility of some western ideas with Armenian national traits and the “Armenian mentality” regarding some topics that will not be mentioned here. Some analysts are even willing to go further, by linking the democratization of both conflicting sides with the possibility to resolve the Karabakh conflict.
What is Democracy?
In the last years of the Soviet Union, as well as in the first years after it, Armenia's future was being constructed using Soviet building blocks. After the Empire collapsed, the roads and means away from Soviet reality led to everything being looked at in a Soviet context. The homeland that Armenians dreamed about had unavoidably been based on ideas, self-evaluation and a perspective of the world that were all based on Soviet times. The vision of Armenia during the fall of the Soviet Empire was vaguely that of a nation state with modern industries, a rich cultural tradition coexisting with modern culture, high levels of education and science, and so on. And one of the main reasons for the great disappointment in the post-Soviet years was that false vision. Today, another example of a similar false perspective on the future which has not been fully thought through is the idea of democracy. The idea of selling the democracy of the West, which is like a food item past its expiry date, is actually a very lucrative business for some non-government organizations in Armenia. There are parties and politicians for whom democracy has become an expression of opposition to the government, a sort of political niche. “Democracy” is also the name of the game that Armenia, like many other former Soviet republics, is playing with the West, particularly with the European Union. But it seems that it is also self-deception of sorts, giving on the opportunity to look to the future optimistically, which then relieves one of the headache of having to think about that future.
Generally speaking, the central idea of democracy is liberal representative democracy. But the paradox is that the more democracy spreads in the world, the less it seems to be trusted by developed democratic societies in the world. Although the dominant form of democratic rule remains liberal representative democracy, there is now a democratic crisis in capitalist societies and pessimism regarding its future possibilities. Debates about the limitations and shortcomings of democracy continue, as do discussions about the different models of democracy – representative, developmental, participatory, radical, democratic democracy and so on, and today, in the age of the Internet, also about instantaneous democracy.
Let us say, for example, that one must speak about participatory democracy when discussing the issues of “election bribes” and “buying votes”. In the case of Armenia, is it not suitable to speak of distinguishing between democracy as a method and democracy in content. Democracy, first of all, is a method of political representation, and the dream of organizing free, fair and transparent elections in Armenia one day fits nicely into this approach. However, the idea of democracy in content suggests a system wherein one allows the participation of people in public affairs and allows the removal of obstacles to the social and political participation of people.
But is democracy intertwined with capitalism, or is it possible to imagine other models, particularly one of democracy and socialism? And what does democracy mean in this era of globalization – in the conditions of the decreasing importance of the nation state in general, and in Armenia's case, in the conditions of growing influence of Russia and other global powers…
The answers to these questions should not be expected from politicians or parliamentarians, but rather from scientists and analysts or in other words, from sociologists. But where are those scientists? That brings us back to the question of education and science.
Kocharian Honors Slain Turkish-Armenian Editor
19 June 2007
President Robert Kocharian publicly honored on Monday the assassinated Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink with a posthumous state award granted each year to prominent individuals in recognition of their contribution to Armenian culture and science.
Dink was among 18 writers, artists, and scientists awarded this year from a special presidential endowment set up with the help of French-Armenian philanthropist Robert Bogossian in 2001.
Kocharian singled out the late editor of the Istanbul-based Armenian weekly “Agos” for special praise as he addressed a solemn award-giving ceremony in his office attended by Dink’s wife, daughter and brother. He cited Dink’s contribution to “restoration of historical justice, mutual understanding between peoples, freedom of speech, and protection of human rights.”
“It was a big loss for our people,” Kocharian said of the editor’s shock assassination. “I want to assure members of his family that we will always remember Hrant Dink, that Armenia is also a home for his family, that we are always happy to see them in Armenia,” he added.
Dink’s widow Rakel was given a standing ovation as she received the $5,000 prize from Kocharian. “We will find the power to endure our pain,” she said in a brief speech.
Dink was shot dead outside the “Agos” offices in Istanbul last January by a young ultranationalist Turk furious with his public references to the 1915 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. The murder was universally condemned in and outside Turkey and led to an unprecedented outpouring of sympathy for Dink, his family and Armenians in general by tens of thousands of ordinary Turks. But it also provoked a nationalist backlash, raising questions about the security of the country’s small Armenian community.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Rakel Dink said she and other members of her family are not yet considering leaving Turkey despite mounting security concerns within the embattled community. Asked whether they might eventually emigrate to Armenia, she said: “It could happen, but there is no such urgency now.”
Last Thursday Turkish prosecutors called for a prison sentence of up to three years for Dink’s son Arat, who now edits “Agos,” and his colleague Serikis Seropyan for republishing a 2006 interview in which his father made a case for genocide recognition. They accused the two men of “denigrating Turkishness.” Hrant Dink was given a six-month suspended sentence on the same charge several months before his assassination.
At a court hearing in Istanbul, Arat Dink accused judges of contributing to his father's death by making him a target thanks to their high-profile judicial proceedings. "I think it is primitive, absurd and dangerous to consider as an insult to Turkish identity the recognition of a historic event as a genocide," he said, quoted by the Anatolia news agency.
Turkish Mps “intensify Struggle” Against Armenian Genocide Resolution
19 June 2007
Justice and Development (AK) Party deputies Egemen Bagis and Reha Denemec held a press conference June 15 at the Turkish Center in New York and assessed their trip to Washington D.C.
Describing that their talks in the U.S. as very positive, Bagis said it is necessary to pay frequent visits to the U.S. to promote Turkey’s theses on the Armenian Genocide. Bagis said 4 Congressman withdrew their signatures from the Armenian Genocide draft bill as a result of their prior visits to the U.S. and indicated they were also expecting positive developments to take place this time. It is necessary for the Turkish community in the U.S. to be more active and make their presence felt, Bagis emphasized.
Bagis called on other political parties to send delegations to the U.S. and asked the United States to be more active as regards to the PKK terrorists, Anatolia News Agency reports.
Why Broader Minority Rights Are No Remedy To Separatist Violence
Equilibrium By Burak Bekdil
June 20, 2007
Five years ago, Turkey’s Kurds enjoyed much less rights than they do today. Since then there has been a ‘reformist’ prime minister in power, and many EU-sealed reforms. Oddly, five years ago coffins were not arriving in abundance like they do today.
The recent wave of Kurdish violence against Turkish targets is first-class proof of what the headline for this article plainly argues. This is of course, NOT to suggest that broader rights for minorities should not be granted. As a matter of fact, they should be granted in full as in a decent democracy. It is only too naïve and in vain to hope that they would wipe out violence.
Violence is a matter of sentiments
Should the Americans consider ‘democratic means, broader political rights for and dialogue with' the world's radical Muslims in order to fight Islamic terror? Do the Israelis have the luxury of ‘abandoning their military endeavors and instead finding a democratic solution' to the Arab dispute when radical Muslims swear on the Holy Koran to fight them until no Jew is left alive on earth?
Did the Irish or the Basque people not enjoy democratic rights when their separatist terrorists bombed buses and trains and airports, when they killed innocent people, including their own? Are we sure that the Chechens who massacred school children in Beslan would turn into peace doves if the Russians had granted them broader autonomy? Are we sure that the violent Uighur youth would swear never to touch weapons or explosives again if, suppose Beijing gave them better democratic rights? No doubt, these examples can be multiplied endlessly in a world that tends to go astray.
Violence as a means of fighting for a political cause (ideological, religious, ethnic, separatist or any combination of any of these) is a matter of sentiments. This is how this column opened on March 15, 2006: “Separatism is a matter of ‘sentiments' rather than of social/economic/political dynamics, no matter how romantics are ideologically programmed to ignore this bitter truth. Kurdish separatism and the non-Kurdish romanticism for it are no exception.” That article, written in Sevilla, Spain, quoted a local girl as saying: “I am Andalucian… but, above all, I am Spanish and so proud of that!” And this is how the article closed: “The (Kurdish) problem is less related with political and socioeconomic dynamics, and more with sentiments. There would probably not be a ‘problem' if the average Kurd, when asked whether he felt Kurdish or Turkish, could say, ‘I am Kurdish… but, above all, I am Turkish and so proud of that!' Just like the Andalucian girl…”
Five years ago Turkey's Kurds enjoyed much less rights than they do today – as evinced by various EU reports and the standard international media reference to Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “Turkey's most reformist prime minister.” All the same, five years ago coffins wrapped in the Crescent and Star were not arriving in abundance – actually there were no coffins around, no blood spilt on soil, no civilian victims for the ‘holy Kurdish cause.' How should we explain the contradiction?
Holy murderers vs. unholy murderers
It's not very difficult to understand, unless one is ideologically blinded. Individuals or groups of individuals react in different ways against what they think is injustice – it may or may not really be injustice, because, after all, this is a matter of subjectivism. Someone who thinks he or she had been treated unfairly by a judge, by a government official, by a lover, or just by someone else may choose silence or civilized protest, or may murder whom he/she deems guilty. In the latter case, we simply call that person a murderer. Murders may often take the form of ‘honor killings,' for instance in Turkey's Kurdish southeast.
Or a football fan may attack the rival team's supporters, or the referee if he thinks (and he may be right in his judgment) that his beloved team has been treated unfairly – while his fellow teammates silently and sadly go home after the game in which their team faced the referee's injustice. Violence should not be tolerated if its justification is not a life triviality but a political controversy, right or wrong.
There must be hundreds of millions of Irish, Catalan, Basque, Chechen, Kurdish, Uighur, Turkish or Turkic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Assyrian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Afghan, Iraqi, Jewish, Arab, Transylvanian, Hispanic, African people on the globe who think they are being unfairly treated because of their ethnicities/religions but who never think of killing another man just because of a presumed injustice. If a handful of their fellow nationals prefer to murder for a holy cause that does not mean the holy cause is really a holy cause, but that that handful of fellow nationals are sick men: men who would have killed for another cause, holy or unholy – football, traffic brawl, love, professional rivalry or any other dispute life produces every day.
Separatists want separatism, not rights
There must be millions of Turkish Kurds who sentimentally favor an independent Kurdish state to be carved out of –among other countries—Turkey, but who categorically oppose killing even one man for that purpose. Are they the ones to be blamed for passivity, or the ‘other Kurds' for murder?
Kurdish violence does not primarily kill to force the Turkish state to allow full day TV/radio broadcasts or education in Kurdish language. PKK men, their supporters and sympathizers could not care about those fancy – but of course necessary – accessories in the least. They want something else that they think they can only win by violence. Allow me to repeat, separatist Kurds want eventual separation, and not broader rights!
Funny, the prime minister has been talking about a few thousand PKK men as the root cause of the Kurdish problem. Likewise, the stereotype western intellectual cites a few stereotype facts for the Kurdish problem (which are all true, but represent a wrong etiology): that Turkey's southeast has been widely ignored; that the Kurds have been deprived of their cultural rights; that there is absolute poverty in the Kurdish areas, and hence the separatist violence. Does that explain why the dollar-millionaire Kurdish owner of a nightclub in Istanbul or the super-dollar-millionaire Kurdish businessman in Izmir is sentimentally attached to the idea of Greater Kurdistan and/or to the PKK? Or why do millions of better-off Kurds in Turkey and in Europe fight for the ‘Kurdish holy cause?'
Sadly, I must repeat another quote from this column on March 15, 2006:
“Are millions of separatist-minded ethnicities in the EU zone deprived of decent political rights? No. Have the decent EU rights satisfied them? No. Can any further Turkish “overture” satisfy the kids and adults who will possibly burn the Turkish flag and chant pro-separatist slogans on March 21? No. But should Turkey stop thinking of further overtures to diffuse the Kurdish tensions, although they will be of no use? Again, no.”
The optimal policy blend for the Turkish state should be full respect for Kurdish rights and zero tolerance to Kurdish violence.
Turkish Festival In London
June 20, 2007
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
The London Turkish Festival, which was held for the first time in 2004 and draws more attention every year, will be held on July 14 and 15 this year reported the Anatolia news agency.
Hasan Taslica, chairman of the festival's organizer Turkish Forum UK (TFUK), said their goal was to make the festival a traditional one. He said TFUK had been established to organize some activities of Turkish – British Industry and Trade Chamber and aimed to provide information to Turkish society living in Britain by holding seminars. He added that in the same context significant experts were invited to those seminars and important issues like Turkey – EU relations and Armenian problems were handled.
Taslica said following all those events, they attempted to organize the Turkish Festival and added that the festival has drawn 100,000 visitors since 2004.
“The festival, during which Turkish music, handicrafts and cuisine are promoted, will be held again in the South Bank part of the River Thames. The region will be decorated with flags and the Mehter (Janissary Band), which joined the former festival with a 30-person team, will be guests at the festival again,” he said.
Taslica added that Turkish music groups from Turkey and Britain would also be performing at the festival. “The festival is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Turkish Embassy in London and the Turkish Consulate General in London. It is sponsored by Turkish business circles and the contributions of Turkish people living in Britain,” said Taslica.
Hrant Dink Awarded Posthumously With Armenian President's Prize
19 June 2007
Today Armenian President Robert Kocharian has handed 13 nominal presidential awards for 2006. Agos Armenian-Turkish newspaper editor-in-chief Hrant Dink was awarded posthumously. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani also received the award for their Lark Farm
The award was for the first time conferred posthumously. “Hrant Dink’s death is a great loss for our people. We will always remember him and I assure his family that Armenia is their home and we will always be glad to see them,” Mr Kocharian said. When receiving the award, Dink’s widow Rakel Dink said, “The award of the President of Armenia is honorary and sad for our family. I believe Hrant wished he could be among us now. He used to say that Armenia is a big Homeland and Diaspora appears as small islands.”
Awards were also handed to a group of young scientists. “Today we have heard unknown names. But I wish these names to become Armenia’s visit card in future,” the RA leader said.
The presidential award has been conferred since 2001 with the assistance of Rober Poghossian and Sons Foundation and Hayastan All Armenian Fund, the RA President’s press office reports.
Turkish MPs Discuss Armenian, Kurdish Issues In USA
Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
June 16 2007
New York, 16 June: Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputies Egemen Bagis and Reha Denemec held a press conference on Friday [15 June] at the Turkish Centre in New York and assessed their trip to Washington D.C.
Stating that their talks in the US was very positive, Bagys said it was necessary to pay frequent visits to the US to promote Turkey's theses on the so-called Armenian allegations systematically.
Bagis said that 4 congressman withdrew their signatures from the draft bill on the so-called Armenian genocide as a result of their prior visits to the US and indicated they were also expecting positive developments to take place this time.
Bagis emphasized that it was necessary for the Turkish community in the US to be more active and make their presence felt.
Bagis called on other political parties to send delegations to the US in order to promote the theses of Turkey.
Bagis said that they voiced the Turkish theses on Armenian allegations, explain the situation in Turkey on the onset of the general elections and asked the US to be more active against the terrorist organization PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] .
Answering a question on the conspiracy theories put forth at a meeting held at the Hudson Institute in the US, Bagis said they were not informed whether such a meeting took place or not and that they believed such a thing was not possible. Egemen Bagys noted they condemned the situation in Washington should it prove be true.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
June 11, 2007
Extraordinary Evil: Why Genocide Happens
Barbara Coloroso. Nation, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56858-371-6
Placing genocidal campaigns at the extreme on a spectrum of bullying that begins in socialization's earliest stages, Coloroso (The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander ) seeks to strengthen the legal and moral prevention of genocide and to improve humanitarian intervention. Analyzing the plight of the Armenians; the Jews, Roma and Sinti; and Rwandan Tutsis, she marshals solid studies, victim and perpetrator testimonies, as well as her own expertise as a nationally recognized speaker on conflict resolution. Her discussion of problems of definition, political will, and social and psychological persuasion are useful, but her argument can be tedious, despite graphic and distressing detail. Drawing heavily and only semiconvincingly on her earlier child-centered work, Coloroso has a tendency to rely on Power Point-style lists, brusquely contextualized quotations and even a cartoon-illustrated flowchart of bullies and their enablers. Her generalizations can be disturbing-for example, when she suggests Rwanda's colonial past plays no role in the current violence, despite contrary arguments from Mahmood Mamdani and others not cited here. Coloroso's checklist of genocidal prerequisites can also blur into other acts of state-sponsored or condoned aggression and exploitation. This book provides entry into a vital dialogue, but should be considered at best a beginning. (Sept.)
Mathew Bryza Lifts Veil Of Secrecy From Coordinated Principles On Karabakh.
This article is mistitled, the title should have been: Mathew Bryza and the rest of the mediators "successfully or lucratively" coerce/convince Armenia to surrender/capitulate. This is the same Bryza, the Co-Chair of the Minsk Group who earlier this year as per Azerbaijani "Azertag" agency Mediamax report said: "We aspire to develop programs which connect all countries along the East-west corridor… and he concluded by saying "If Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey want to build a railway, (that bypasses Armenia*) naturally we cannot mind." I don’t exactly understand what "naturally" connotes. My interpretation is we Americans will pretend to be blind, deaf and dumb and allow Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia make Armenia economically non-viable and eventually cease to exist," as long as we, USA don’t provide the funds."
If Bryza and his gang are such skilled mediators, let them first persuade Turkey to make reparations for committing the Armenian Genocide, misappropriating 9/10 of the territory of historic Armenia, causing colossal number of deaths and destruction that continue to date, for not allowing to renovate the small number of functioning Armenian and non-Armenian churches, for remaining unpunished for 92 years, and for 92 years profiting from the blood drenched Armenian soil, property and wealth.
In addition Let Bryza make the current US administration officially recognize the Armenian Genocide instead of every year going through the contortions to find close but not accurate words to describe the Armenian genocide.
On May 30, 2007, in an interview by Russian REGNUM News Agency titled Armenia cannot constantly "bluff" in the regional geopolitical game: Armen Ayvazyan Doctor of Political Sciences, Director of the "Ararat" Center for Strategic Research (www.ararat-center.org) among other things has said:
"Hence, the liberated territory is a guarantee of geopolitical weight and international authority of modern Armenia. It is a precondition for its military, water, food, energy, psychological, and, in the near future, demographic security. It is a part of the Armenian homeland in terms of history, cultural heritage and physical geography. The liberated territory is the means for restoring the historically traumatized psyche of the Armenians. It is a medium for the true meaning of Armenia. Finally, the liberated territory is a just, though minimal, compensation for the Armenian territorial, cultural, material and human losses and sufferings caused by the Turkish and Azerbaijani genocides, a compensation which has been attained by Armenian blood."
The first thing that Aliev and Azerbaijan should do is return illegally acquired territory of Nakhichevan to Armenia, the rightful owners, before they ask Armenians to make any territorial concessions on the liberated lands. The Azerbaijanis should make reparations to Armenians for starting the Artsakh (misnamed Karabakh,) war and causing tens of thousands of deaths and massive destruction. The Azerbaijanis should make reparations for the hundreds and thousands of properties that they confiscated from Azerbaijani Armenians that "ran away with their lives and left everything behind." Azerbaijanis should forget that we will allow refugees return to Artsakh and the strategically important surrounding territories, and let Azerbaijanis forget about another referendum. Because in case Azerbaijan and/or the negotiators have forgotten or are unaware, on September 2, 1991 the people of the autonomous Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) region while under the yoke of Azerbaijan, officially declared that they were going to have a referendum and on December 10, 1991 the official Referendum took place and the people of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) chose to be independent. Therefore the OFFICIAL referendum took place, the people spoke loud and clear that they want to be free. IT IS DONE and OVER.
Eight years ago the murder of 48 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo became the turning point to bring the US-led NATO to the rescue of Kosovo’s Albanians. As per June 5, 2007 LA Times article "Kosovo likely future cuts two ways and I quote: "There is a certain inevitability to the cause of Kosovo’s independence. Backed unabashedly by the U.S. and much of Europe, the breakaway Kosovo region dominated mostly by ethnic Albanian Muslims will almost certainly be allowed to secede from Serbia in the coming weeks."
On June 10, 2007, President Bush during his visit to Albania has called for quick action to turn Kosovo into an independent nation. He has also said that diplomats’ efforts did not succeed in changing the status of Kosovo which is overwhelmingly ethnic Muslim Albanian, "sooner rather than later, you’ve got to say enough is enough, Kosovo is independent. There just cannot be continued drift"
Here one wonders why Bush does not show the same support to Artsakh’s which is populated by 100% ethnic Christian Armenians, who without US and NATO led forces liberated Artsakh. One also wonders if this was one of President Bush’s dyslexic moments and he confused ethic Armenians and Ethnic Albanians, (a difference of 3 letters) or he thought they were the same people.
(To digress for a moment, one wonders how many more hundreds and thousands of people should die in Darfur before there is another US-led NATO or any other force to stop the genocide there.)
Back to the Artsakh negotiations. The mediators are forcing us to "exchange empty promises with most if not all the liberated territories including the independent Republic of Artsakh. Allow the Azeri’s to return and most likely "also allow them to illegally bring tens of thousands of others," and in 10 years or as soon as the Azerbaijanis become the majority, they will allow another referendum, and guess what "suddenly" Artsakh will not want to secede, and United States and others will "approve." If our government/we allow this to happen, it will be the beginning of the end of Armenia, and another catastrophic situation that will be even worse than when the treaty of Sevres was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne.
In conclusion, the duty of our government is to protect Armenia and Armenians from enemies, pseudo-friends and counterfeit mediators. I have yet to see a country that is so eager to return an illegally occupied territory let alone a small part of its liberated territory. One wonders how come during negotiations and /or various opportune moments our government always acts dumb and refrains from asking the return of the territories of Nakhichevan, and/or 9/10th of the historic territory of Armenia illegally occupied by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
The more we "give in the more they will ask and take," and they will only stop until there is no more Armenia, and thus fulfill their goal of Pan-Turkism.
I never thought I would quote President Bush, but as he said in Kosovo, "sooner rather than later, you’ve (we’ve) got to say enough is enough, Karabak and most of the liberated territory around it is independent. There just cannot be continued drift." And if Bryza and his co-mediators are still eager to do a productive work, I suggest that they stop their unjust, one-sided Artsakh peace talks, and work on Turkey and make them pay for their ancestors unspeakable crimes and compel them to make territorial and financial reparations.
Bedros H. Kojian, M.D.,Santa Ana, The Armenian Observer June 6, 2007
AZG Armenian Daily #113, 16/06/2007
Murdered Newspaper Editor’s Son And Three Other Journalists Charged With “Insulting Turkish Identity”
15 June 2007
Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision to prosecute Arat Dink, the son of slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, and three other journalists employed by his newspaper, the weekly Agos, for “insulting Turkish identity” under article 301 of the criminal code.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office requested a six-month prison sentence for Arat Dink when he appeared in court yesterday in Istanbul as his father’s successor as editor of Agos. The three other Agos journalists charged with him are Serkis Seropyan, Aydin Engin and Karin Karakashli. Dink’s father was gunned down outside the newspaper on 19 January.
“Once again we have to denounce the use of article 301 of the criminal code, which is a threat to freedom of expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A prosecution was also initiated against Erdal Dogal, one of the Dink family’s lawyers on 7 June.”
Agos’ staff is being prosecuted for republishing an interview Hrant Dink gave to Reuters in July 2006 in which he referred to the 1915 Armenian genocide and urged Armenians “to turn now towards the new blood of independent Armenia, which alone is capable of freeing them from the weight of the Diaspora.”
Prior to his murder, Hrant Dink received a six-month suspended sentence for these comments, which the newspaper reproduced as part of a series entitled “The Armenian Identity.”
The trial of 18 people accused of participating in Hrant Dink’s murder is due to open in Istanbul on 2 July.
"Secular" Does Not Mean "Democratic"
by Moorad Mooradian
Numerous major newspapers in the U.S., particularly those that want to keep their reporters parked in Ankara, constantly employ the descriptive term "secular" -- meaning non-religious -- in their introductions to the government of Turkey. At least since September 11, 2001, what "secular" has come to mean is a government that is acceptable to the U.S., in that it is not led by radical Islamists of the al Qaeda, bin Laden variety.
Unfortunately, some folks assume that "secular" also means "democratic." But a look at the happenings in Turkey shows that the word "secular" as practiced in that land, and democracy as understood and valued in the West, are worlds apart.
For instance, recently the head of Turkey's highest court declared that he would ask the country's leading prosecutor to file criminal charges against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And what had the Islamist head of state Erdogan done? He had dared to criticize Turkey's Constitutional Court. Erdogan had said that it was a disgrace to the system of justice in Turkey that the Constitutional Court had canceled a presidential vote earlier in May.
The entire world now knows that it is a crime in "democratic" Turkey to insult or criticize state institutions. It is very difficult to isolate exactly what type of criticism is considered an insult -- but that is precisely how the powers that be want the laws to be. A vague definition allows those powers to maintain great leeway in interpreting laws as they see fit.
And if the courts, prosecutors, or other officials do not take action, Turkish nationalists will. The world witnessed such action in the murder of Hrant Dink, who did not insult Turkey or denigrate "Turkishness," whatever that is.
In fact, the Turkish military moved some tanks around in the streets when Erdogan hinted that he would run for president. After the tanks made an impact by rumbling through the city, Erdogan backed down and Abdullah Gul, Erdogan's surrogate Foreign Minister, stepped into the breach. This indeed was democracy in action: an example that the U.S. wants other countries in the region to emulate.
Then of course, there is the matter of the Kurds in northern and central Iraq. I have been writing for months that Turkey has its sights on northern and central Iraq. It is using the supposed plight of Turkmen (Turkey's "cousins" -- like the Azeris) in the region and the control of the area by Kurds as an excuse to move in with its military. But the real reason, in my judgment, is that the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk have oceans of oil beneath their surfaces. Keep in mind that this area used to be an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, and Ankara would like nothing better than to again control the region and reap the benefits of the cash that would roll in from the sale of oil. The control of oil would make Turkey even more inviting to the European Union. So, as is typical of Turkey, it has amassed tanks and troops on its border with Iraq.
Make no mistake about it: the Turkish government does have a serious problem with dissatisfied ethnic Kurds, some of whom may be the terrorist PKK. But it is asinine to attribute every explosion in Turkey to terrorist activity by the PKK. Turkey's military destroyed thousands of Kurdish villages in Anatolia simply because they were Kurdish, though there may have been PKK members among them.
Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, recently declared that the U.S. wants to "continue working with Turkey to confront the challenges that are posed by PKK terrorism." But by kow-towing to Turkey and agreeing that the Kurds in Iraq are PKK, the U.S. State Department would undermine its own cause of keeping Turkey out of Iraq.
That is, assuming that the U.S. government wants to keep Turkey out, and is not using Iraq as a "bargaining chip" to keep Turkey "friendly."
Iraq's Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, visited the U.S. in May. Television carried his meeting with President Bush. Mr. Talabani told ABC-TV that Iraqi leaders had convinced the Iraq-based "militants" to stop their attacks, "and they did it." In the event that the U.S. forces in Iraq take action against the Kurds, they risk getting into another war before the ongoing violent conflict is settled. The U.S. should not overlook that the Iraqi Kurds are the most pro-American group in the region. They know the region as though they designed it. It would be foolish to create an anti-U.S. group out of one that is friendly.
Erdogan stated quite plainly what he wants: "Our expectation from the United States is to scatter and destroy the bases of the terrorist organization in northern Iraq." Turkey's Prime Minister wants the Kurds to be either turned over to Turkey or sent elsewhere. Erdogan said that troop movements to the border are "to achieve results. Our patience has run out. The necessary steps will be taken when needed."
The Kurds have promised to fight the Turks if they should cross the border. Turkey's military, always eager to show its mettle on the battlefield as the heirs of Attila the Hun, are set to move. They want to establish a "buffer zone" across the frontier, just as Turks have done in the past. What this means, of course, is that Turkish troops would have to monitor the buffer zone for compliance, and one would hardly be shocked were they to establish military bases in northern Iraq.
And who would stop them? The U.S.? Isn't a secular, "democratic" Turkey just great for U.S. interests?
Armenians Taking Asam Initiative With A Grain Of Salt
June 16, 2007
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
The response by Turkish Armenians to the initiative by the Institute for Armenian Research at the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM) to resolve the differences between Turkey and Armenia is caution tempered with interest, with most preferring to keep quiet on the matter for now.
An appeal calling for tolerance, contact and cooperation between Turks and Armenians was issued on April 9, 2007 by the New York based Elie Wiesel Foundation and signed by 57 Nobel laureates. It called for Armenians and Turks to encourage their government to open the border between Turkey and Armenia.
In response, the Institute for Armenian Research welcomed the statement, noting that it viewed it as a doorway facilitating a process of dialogue between the two peoples. The ASAM document was signed by 86 Turkish scholars and retired ambassadors. ASAM is perceived as a right-wing think tank with close links to the military and the state.
While Istanbul Technical University Department of History of Art's Elmon Hançer welcomes every initiative on the matter, arguing that differences between Armenians and Turks can only be resolved by the two peoples.
“Despite the fact that the border between the two countries remains closed, civil initiatives and cultural exchanges are important for the two nations to find common ground,” she said
Hançer said she was against the mediation of other countries to resolve the problems, adding, “I can't understand why western countries that kept silent during the unfortunate incidents are now trying to mediate.”
She said she believed it was up to far-sighted people in both countries to overcome the problems.
Cartoonists Ohannes Saskal and Sarkis Paçaci told the Turkish Daily News that official meetings had to take the lead in any such effort, noting that they were not too positive on the initiative by ASAM.
Agos editor and artist Mayda Saris said any initiative in the name of peace between the two peoples was welcome, adding, “I for one am waiting to see how sincere the initiative is.”
When asked about the cautious wait and see stance by Turkish Armenians, the head of the Institute for Armenian Research, retired Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem said he didn't want to comment, arguing that nothing will be gained by skepticism. “We replied to the statement by the Nobel laureates as scholars and retired ambassadors. Due to the fact that there is no official contact between Turkey and Armenia, we believe civil initiatives will help in overcoming obstacles,” he said.
As an institute, they were open for dialogue from any organization that dealt with the Armenian problem, he said, noting that Turks and Armenians should resolve their differences together.
Armenian Scientists Not Invited To Turkish-Armenian Relations Conference Due In Erzurum
14 June 2007
Armenian historians and specialists in Turkish studies were not invited to Turkish-Armenian Relations conference due in Erzerum June 21-22. Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the RA Academy of Sciences Ruben Safrastyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter that he did not receive an invitation.
Director of the Armenian Genocide Institute Hayk Demoyan and Turkish studies specialist Ashot Hovhannisian were not invited either.
Meanwhile APA reported that “scientists from Armenia as well as Armenian historians from different states were invited to the conference. However they did not confirm their participation in the event.”
Minorities To Shun Nationalist Parties In Elections
Recent stances taken by political parties on issues regarding European Union reforms, minority rights and nationalism could be a determinant of how members of religious minority groups will vote in this summer's elections.
Turkey's minorities are increasingly drawn to political parties that display respect for democracy. Even more so, they are growing cooler towards those flirting with neo-nationalists who oppose EU membership, improved minority rights and extended freedoms.
"To be honest, we Armenians prefer the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] to the opposition Republican People's Party [CHP]. The AK Party's attitude toward minorities is less nationalist. The [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan government is very open to our demands," said Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, the religious leader of Turkey's 60,000 Armenian Orthodox citizens, in a recent interview with German Der Spiegel. He told the magazine that Turkey's Armenian community has good relations with the AK Party government.
Sebu Aslangil, a member of the Patriarchate's law commission, told the news Web site NTVMSNBC in an interview conducted this Monday that "it is a fact that the [Armenian] community is leaning towards the AK Party and the independents. A major role in this was played by the foundations law - which the [Republican People's Party] CHP fiercely opposed when the AK Party tried hard to pass it." Although Aslangil stressed that it is impossible to talk about a homogenous pattern of voting in the community, he expressed the opinion that a majority of the community clearly felt the AK Party was closest to solving the problems of minorities.
Zeki Basatemir, chairperson of the Syriac Catholic Church Foundation, said Syriac Catholics, estimated to number about 5000, were reviewing programs and policies of all political parties like all other Turkish citizens to find the candidates who are closest to them. "No concrete name has come up yet, but I can't say we are unhappy with this current government. We think they are good at solving our problems." There is also the Syriac Orthodox community, thought to number around 20,000 as of 2005.
The Syriacs are the largest religious Christian community in the country, although they are not legally considered a minority group.
Other groups, however, are more uncertain than others. Yusuf Beytas from Mardin's Syriac Community says the individual preferences of community members greatly vary. "We have a lot of people who like the AK Party, as well as the CHP or the other parties," he told Today's Zaman. Silvio Ovadya, leader of Turkey's Jewish community of 20,000, said Jewish minorities are not yet decided. "A party has not been given support for the elections among the community. Maybe later there will be a name, but not yet," he added. Ovadya said he did not feel that most members of the community overwhelmingly pre-ferred a single political party. However, leaders of communities tend to be more reserved in speaking on politics. Many of Turkey’s Greeks and Armenians vocally and very clearly express their resentment of nationalism and political parties that push aside democracy in order to exploit the nation’s nationalist feelings.
Mihail Vasiliadis, publishing director of Apoyevmatini, an 80-year-old newspaper for the Greek community, said in a recent interview, “The AK Party has to come to power so that I can feel myself as a citizen after 60 years.” He is one of the many people in this country who feel the increasing threat of neo-nationalism and who know that Turkey’s can only be found in democracy.
Turkey’s minorities have had to endure much since the founding of the republic, sometimes at the hands of populist politicians and sometimes simply out of the social prejudices and discrimination against them. In the 1930s they were subject to a discriminatory levy known as the Assets Tax, which imposed higher taxes on non-Muslims. In the 1950s, they were subject to mass violence on the streets of Beyoglu at the hands of an angry mob. However the tide might be starting to turn as more and more European Union-inspired reforms are being passed, ensuring equal rights for all religious and ethnic minorities. One example is a recent draft on foundations the government tried to pass last year in Parliament. The law, which stipulated that all buildings and other assets taken unjustly in the ‘30s from minority foundations be returned, was not passed in the face of fierce opposition from the main opposition CHP.
The CHP argued that returning the possessions of minorities was tantamount to selling the country and that the law could be passed only if EU countries guaranteed the same rights for their Turkish minorities. This sentiment deeply hurt Turkey’s non-Muslim citizens. A hundred intellectuals from minority groups, including Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was slain by a neo-nationalist youth earlier this year, signed a declaration condemning the CHP’s mentality that considers its non-Muslim citizens to be “hostages.”
E. BARIS ALTINTAS ISTANBUL
"I Am A Muslim In Soul, A Turk By Blood" - Akşam
Turkish Daily News, Turkey
June 12 2007
During an interview Democrat Party (DP) parliamentary candidate Suna Vidinli said that nobody had monopoly over modern conservatism, reported the daily Akşam yesterday. Vidinli first became famous with a TV-show, during which she debated fiercely with a French parliamentarian on the issue of the alleged Armenian genocide. She then moved on to the production of television programs herself. Now as a candidate for the DP she is preparing to enter parliament from Samsun.
She recalled what DP leader Mehmet Ağar had told her "I did not choose you because you are a Harvard graduate known in the media but for your modern, conservative, and patriarchal stance." She defines herself as a "Muslim in her soul and a Turk by blood." Regarding the headscarf, she said: "I believe this issue has become too political.
Both women who wear headscarves and those that do not are members of this country. But you cannot solve this issue right now because tensions are very high."
Erzurum Hosts Int Conference On Turkish-Armenian Relations
13 Jun 2007
The second international conference on Turkish-Armenian relations will be held in the city Erzurum, Turkey on June 21-22, APA reports.
Azerbaijani Parliamentarian Ganira Pashayeva and deputy director of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences History Institute Jabi Bahramov will represent Azerbaijan at the conference.
Ganira Pashayeva told the APA that experts from European Union member states and the US, historians, scientists will participate in the conference.
The aim of the conference is to reveal false Armenian genocide claims and debate basing on historical documents.
“Holding the event in Erzurum is not accidental. Armenians committed massacres against Turks in 1915 here, a lot of mass graves were found and the process is still continuing,” she said.
The parliamentarian said that Armenian scientists and experts from Armenia and al over the world have been invited to the conference, but they have not stated whether they will attend the conference.
“They always avoid debating this issue on the level of experts. They know that their lies will be revealed,” she said.
Ganira Pashayeva said that one section of the conference will cover Armenia’s occupation Azerbaijani territories, genocide committed by Armenians against Azerbaijanis, Nagorno Karabakh conflict and realities of the world.
“We will address the conference on both issues, distribute necessary materials to inform the foreign visitors,” she said. /APA/
Belgium’s Future Prime Minister Yves Leterme Stated On Recognizing Armenian Genocide
PanARMENIAN.Net During the last days before the Belgian parliamentarian elections the future Prime Minister of the country Yves Leterme recognized the Armenian Genocide without any stipulations, though till that very moment he cast doubt on the fact of Genocide, the PanARMENIAN.Net journalist was told Armenia’s Embassy to Belgium. “The Socialist Party of Belgium, which was against amendments to the law on negotianism concerning the Armenian Genocide, has lost the elections and most likely will not be represented in the government. The liberals, which supported those amendments, will stay in the cabinet,” the Armenian Embassy in Belgium informed.
“Flemish Christian Democrats” party at the head of Yves Leterme gathered the majority of votes at the June 10 parliamentarian elections in Belgium. As a result, the party now has 30 mandates in the 150-seat House of Representatives. Verhofstadt has already turned to the Belgian monarch with a request of resignation.
More than 7.7 million eligible Belgian citizens participated in the voting. They elected 150 MPs for the House of Representatives and 40 Senate members. Participation in the voting is compulsory for citizens of Belgium. According to the local legislation, those who do not participate in the voting and do not have good reasons are subject to a 200-euro fine. 36 ethnic Turks run for the parliament. But still it is unknown how many of them passed to the parliament of the country. Some 160 000 Turks reside in Belgium. 120 000 of them have Belgium citizenship, 90 000 of which the right to vote.
French Embassy’s Advisor Hopes That New French Parliament Will Not Adopt Law Penalizing Denial Of Armenian Genocide
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend S.Agayeva / “I hope that the new Parliament of France will not adopt the law penalizing denial of the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’,” said the Head Advisor of the Ambassador of France, Syivain Guiaugue.
According to the diplomat, formerly the Low Chamber of the French Parliament, the National Assembly approved the draft law penalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide even though it was committed in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1917. The ex-President of France, Jacque Chirac and Senate protested against the adoption of such a law, saying that it may bring harm upon the relations with Turkey.
Guiaugue expressed that the new Parliament of France faces more significant goals and targets, including the strengthening of the bilateral relations, improvement of the legislation, etc.
Touching upon the future policy of the new French President, Nokolai Sarkozi, with regards to Azerbaijan, the diplomat stated that “the attitude of France towards Baku will remain the same and I hope that they will be successive”. “We expect the expansion of the co-operation with Azerbaijan in many spheres after the formation of the new Government of France,” According to Guiaugue, it is planned to organize mutual visits from the senior officials of the two countries.
In relation to the question on the supposed official visit of the French President, Nokolai Sarkozi, to Azerbaijan, the advisor said that currently this issue is not being discussed. “Nokolai Sarkozi has recently begun his activities and the first communication of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and France is to be expected. Till then, it will be impossible to speak of the visit,” he said. In regards to the position of the new French President to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, the diplomat said that France will continue its efforts to settle the conflict.
According to Guiaugue, the French Co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group informed the new French President of the history and settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “Our position is that the co-chairs are only mediators, but settling the conflict depends on the sides themselves,” the diplomat underlined.
Book Discusses Armenian Issue
June 12, 2007
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Kaknüs Publishing has released a book titled “Alman Belgerinde Ermeni Meselesi" (Armenian Issues with German Documents) by journalist/author Kivanç Galip Över. The book features the correspondence between Berlin and the diplomatic representations of the German Empire in Istanbul and Anatolia on the Armenian issue during 1915. The correspondence basically comprises intelligence reports.
The book strikingly depicts both the events that occurred in that period through the eyes of Germany and Germany's viewpoint on its ally, the Ottomans. Displaying the inconsistencies of Armenian allegations in quite plain language, the book also conveys the statements of Armenians who were in contact with German authorities during the emigration.
The German-Russian competition in Anatolia, endeavors of Cemal and Talat Pasha in continuing the emigration, Armenian discomfort with Germany and the rebellion of a Turkish field officer against the Germans in a period during which the ‘genocide' allegations were put in the spotlight, are masterfully portrayed in the book with documents.
The “Armenian Issues with German Documents” reveals through German documents the tricks played on Anatolia in 1915.
Turkish Scholars Welcome Rapprochement Appeal With Armenia
June 13, 2007
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
A group of Turkish scholars welcomed an appeal by 53 Nobel laureates calling for tolerance, contact and cooperation between Turks and Armenians, in a written statement released yesterday by the Institute for Armenian Research at the Ankara-based Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM).
“We view this call as a doorway to opening a process of dialogue between Turks and Armenians and as a stepping stone which will work to keep that door open, facilitating the culture of peace to bear fruit,” a group of 86 Turkish scholars, writers and retired ambassadors said in response to the appeal by New-York based The Elie Wiesel Foundation.
The appeal issued in April called on Turks and Armenians to encourage their governments to open the Turkish-Armenian border, generate confidence through civil society cooperation, improve official contacts, to allow basic freedoms and to address the gap in perceptions over the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
“We would like to state that we are willing to do our part to make positive contributions to this end,” said the Turkish scholars.
Turkey Skeptic Yves Leterme Wins Elections In Belgium
June 12, 2007
BRUSSELS - Turkish Daily News
The Christian Democrats won Sunday's election here with about 30 percent of votes ending the long-lasting coalition government of liberals and socialists. Yves Leterme is being touted as Belgium's next federal prime minister.
However, long negotiations are expected before the formation of the government due to the complexity of the political system in the country and diversity of the political actors. The results of the elections are widely seen as a reaction to the long-standing status quo.
End of an era for Turkey
The election results in Belgium are not regarded as good news for Ankara, since Christian Democrat leader Yves Leterme is not a big supporter of Turkey's EU bid. “Turkey should not become a member because it has a border with Iraq,” Leterme said during his election campaign. It is believed that his stance on Turkey will become clearer after negotiations with possible coalition candidates.
However diplomatic sources said, “Things will somehow be different for Turkey after so long time of continuous backing from Verhostadt and his team.”
Another question for Turkey remains the draft bill at the Belgian Senate on denial of the alleged Armenian genocide. The Reformist Movement (MR), which became the second party after Sunday's elections, has been one of the campaigners for the recognition of the alleged genocide. On the other hand Yves Leterme had taken a different approach during his campaign, avoiding the use of the word “genocide”. “The debate on genocide should be left to international courts,” said Leterme signaling he is not going to politicize the issue.
Turkey Condemns Chile's Genocide Resolution
June 9, 2007
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
The Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned on Friday a resolution unanimously adopted by the Chilean Senate, recognizing the alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the last century.
“We condemn and reject the resolution in question that serves the distortion of history for political gains and see the decision of the Chilean Senate as an act casting shadow over the friendly relations between the two countries,” said the ministry in a written statement. The Chilean Senate adopted the resolution on the alleged genocide on June 5. The Foreign Ministry conveyed Turkey's uneasiness and strong reactions both in Ankara and Santiago.
In the statement, the ministry also said the Chilean resolution contained an incorrect content, which is just like the one adopted by a sub-committee of the United Nations on the prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities. The alleged Armenian genocide was recognized by the U.N. sub-committee in 1985.
“As is known, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon clarified such claims frequently voiced by Armenian circles in a speech dated April 30, 2007 and said the United Nations has not take a position so far on the 1915 events,” it added.
Several parliaments, including those of France, Canada and Poland, have passed resolutions backing claims of the alleged genocide. There has been strong pressure from the Armenian diaspora worldwide for the U.S. Congress to recognize the allegations as well.
Ankara chides Chilean Senate's ‘genocide' move
Expressing regret over the passage of a resolution by the Chilean Senate recognizing an alleged Armenian genocide claimed to have taken place during World War I, Turkey emphasized that the resolution's text is full of incorrect information.
The resolution, passed unanimously by the Chilean Senate on June 5, has suggested that the alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I was recognized in 1985 by the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
"As is known, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon most recently made a clarification in an April 30 speech on this allegation, which is frequently voiced by Armenian circles, and stated that the UN to date has had no [official] position regarding the 1915 incidents," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Friday. "We condemn and reject the resolution, which serves to distort history for political purposes. We consider the Chilean Senate's resolution to be an attitude casting a shadow over friendly relations between the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said.
Today's Zaman Ankara
Turkish French Relations
The newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy may have been under the influence of extenuating conditions when he made his campaign statement that when elected President of France he would block the ungoing talks between the Turkish Government in Ankara, and the European Union in Brussels.
This decision of his was not a welcome news for the Turkish side. It caused quite a strong reaction in Turkey. Monsieur Sarkozy was criticized for not being more careful with his behavior, leaving an impression of someone caught slumbering in an unexpected narcosis.
In reality, including this writer, many of Monsieur Sarkozy's friends and even his foes were up in arms against his future plans in the Middle East, and wished him to awaken from his political slumber. Turkey, its location alone, is too important a country for France to ignore in such a hard manner manifested by Sarkozy during his campaign speeches.
Luckily for the French,and for the Turks alike, an awakening began to shape up right after his electtion to the presidency,as if a new man, was born from the ashes of a phoenix-like being. Thus a softer, and a more maleable or more politically savvy Sarkozy began to replace the slumbering one and sent his best friend as envoy to Ankara,Turkey, in order to patch up whatever damage was created by his pre-campaign rethoric.This point was not ignored by any of the Media, neither European nor Turkish .
The Times of London as well as other influential newspapers of Europe began to interpret Sarkozy's new agenda as a clever maneuver and a necessry one at that. However,even though Sarkozy's previous position indicated a desire for establishing the boundaries of Europe, many countries there seem to object to it, and there is a chance that his plans may not be accepted in Brussels.
Sarkozy is expected to announce that Turkey could be a solid new member for the future "Mediterranean Union" whose nick name is already coined as "Club-Med".
Nicolas Sarkozy is no longer in a narcosis, that's for sure. He may be waiting for the result of the Turkish elections which will take place on July 22, 2007.
Catherine Nay, a French writer and broadcaster, has written one of the better researched volumes about this centre-right president of France. The Economist of England published some very interesting coverage concerning Sarkozy, a product of a broken family revealing a boy pained by a wayward absent father and marked out, socially, as the child of a divorced mother living in the suburb of Neuilly in the pre-1968 France.
M. Sarkozy's father an aristocratic Hungarian who fled communism to settle in France in the late 1940s,was once told that his son with a name like Nicolas Sarkozy and the marks he gets in school will never succeed in France.
Nicolas, his mother and two younger brothers lived in the house belonging to Sarkozy's grandfather.They provided stability and inpirations for the values behind M.Sarkozy's politics wrote the Economist.
In a book published last month,M.Sarkosy acknowledges a political debt to his maternal grandfather,a Thesssalonica-born Jewish doctor .
At 52 years of age M.Sarkozy is taking the reins of the French rightist government and because of his De Gaullist credentials he is luring a goodly number of the electorate voting generally with the far-right Jean Marie le Pen.
He is the first French President born after second world war;the first Gaullist president never to have served in government under Charles de Gaulle himself; the first Gaullist president,since Pompidou not to have graduated from the elite Ecole Nationale d'Administration; and also first president whose father was not French. M.Sarkozy managed somehow to style himself as a fresh force.
It is hoped in the Turkish capital, Ankara, that he will be an ideological president who places merit before loyalty, in his policies, domestic as well as foreign .
Mahmut Esat Ozan
The Turkish Forum-USA
2.9% Of Turks See Threat In Armenia
12 June 2007
According to a joint social survey conducted by Infacto Research Workshop on behalf of the Bilgi University in Istanbul and “Kapa Research” Center on behalf of the Political Studies and Communications in Athens, 77% of Greeks still consider neighboring Turkey to be a threat, while 35 percent of Turks perceive the United States as a threat.
According to the poll, 35.6% of Turks see their NATO ally the United States as a threat and only 9.5% consider Greece to be a threat. Among other matters, 25.8% said an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, 5.5% said the European Union, 4.2% said Israel, 2.9% said Armenia and 1.5% said Iran would be a threat to Turkey.
According to the poll, 74% of Turks see the Ottoman Empire as the most glorious era of the Turks and 47% of the Greeks believe the ancient Greek era to be the most glorious days in their history. The same poll unveiled that Turks see themselves as more nationalist than Greeks. 62% of the Turkish respondents say they are extremely nationalist, while in Greece this figure is 31%, Turkish Daily News reports.
“The Emergence And Development Of The Armenian Question” Graduate Course Offered At The Middle East Technical University Department Of History
12 June 2007
“The Emergence and Development of the Armenian Question” graduate course offered during the second semester of the 2006-2007 academic year at the Middle East Technical University, Department of History, was successfully completed by 9 students; and by 5 students when offered for the first time during the first semester of the 2006-2007 academic year.
The said course is the first graduate course in Turkey which aims at dealing with all aspects of the Armenian Question. It is offered throughout twelve weeks and focuses on the historical, international relations, legal and psychological aspects of the Armenian Question. Regarding the latter two areas of examination, the concept of genocide on the basis of international treaties and court judgments is analyzed and the question of whether or not the events of 1915 can be categorized as such alongside the effects of this debate on Armenian identity is assessed.
This graduate course also examines Armenian propaganda activities, Armenian terrorism, the parliamentary decisions acknowledging Armenian genocide allegations, Turkish-Armenian relations and the Karabakh problem.
The said course was offered by Ret. Ambassador Omer E. Lütem, Chairman of the Armenian Research Institute - a subsidiary of the Center of Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM)- and other ASAM specialists.
Erzurum Hosts Int Conference On Turkish-Armenian Relations
13 June 2007
The second international conference on Turkish-Armenian relations will be held in the city Erzurum, Turkey on June 21-22, APA reports. Azerbaijani Parliamentarian Ganira Pashayeva and deputy director of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences History Institute Jabi Bahramov will represent Azerbaijan at the conference.
Ganira Pashayeva told the APA that experts from European Union member states and the US, historians, scientists will participate in the conference.
The aim of the conference is to reveal false Armenian genocide claims and debate basing on historical documents.
“Holding the event in Erzurum is not accidental. Armenians committed massacres against Turks in 1915 here, a lot of mass graves were found and the process is still continuing,” she said.
The parliamentarian said that Armenian scientists and experts from Armenia and al over the world have been invited to the conference, but they have not stated whether they will attend the conference.
“They always avoid debating this issue on the level of experts. They know that their lies will be revealed,” she said.
Ganira Pashayeva said that one section of the conference will cover Armenia’s occupation Azerbaijani territories, genocide committed by Armenians against Azerbaijanis, Nagorno Karabakh conflict and realities of the world.
“We will address the conference on both issues, distribute necessary materials to inform the foreign visitors,” she said.
Sir Patriarch, This Did Not Become You!
The Orthodox Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II (Sir Mutafyan) according to HURRIYET June 4m talked on behalf of Armenians and said “if we have to be truthful, we the Armenians prefer AKP to the opposition of CHP. AKP displays a lesser nationalist attitude towards minorities..” He said “Erdogan government is very open to our demands”.
This declaration has no part to hold. From whatever side you look at it\ it is a bad, ugly and speech that shouldn’t be made.
Sir Mesrob knows pretty well that Turkey is a secular country. And in secular countries, Religion does not interfere in politics, or used as a tool. In a secular country, a religious leader dressed in his ceremonial robe, cannot make a speech on behalf of his community which will engage them. He shouldn’t have done it. Particularly, in this political bloody fights and hottest days, he cannot say that “We the Armenians will vote for the following party”. If he says so, this will not be only a shame, but it will be a crime and the district attorneys should start an investigation for these words.
Furthermore, these words of Mutafyan effendi, does not reflect the truth.
Particularly, Armenians of Istanbul, if they are being carried over the heads by any party, this party is CHP. There is no reason for being ungrateful…
Is there any other person in politics, who has given moral or materialistic support to Armenians, more that Mustafa Sarigul, the CHP Mayor of Sisli ?
His assistant, is a Turkish citizen of Armenian ethnicity and wherever Mustafa Sarigul is not present, he speaks on his behalf and represents him.
The problems of Armenian Endowments, real estates, schools and other matters untouched for years, have been all solved during the period of Sarigul, buildings almost at stage of collapse, have been repaired perfectly by the CHP Mayor. I have been present at many functional evenings of Armenian schools, endowments or community. In such evenings Mesrob II would be sitting in the fron row in the middle. And who was sitting next to him? Mustafa Sarigul of CHP. He was not there only in personal presence. The Armenian citizens speaking in such functions were all explaining the materialist and moral power the Municipality had given for the organization of the function. I, in many evenings that I was present, saw no other politician but Mustafa Sarigul around… Now you stand up and deny all of these and say that “Our Vote is not for CHP opposition but for AKP”.
Indeed it is hard to believe that such a thing would happen…
I believe that I have the right to expect an urgent clarification from Mesrob II and also from other Armenian leaders.
I fail to understand what lays under this sudden declaration of solidarity to those who could not prevent a murder which was heard loud that “I am coming”.. I want to know it. And I also want to know what are the
Armenian demands Erdogan is open to… le us all see them.
“SABAH” 6.06.07 by Hincal Uluc
Translated from Turkish by Sukru Server Aya
The First Republic Of Armenia Did Not Let Turkey Complete The Armenian Genocide
In May 1918 the Armenian Nation believed that it could fight and win the war.
By spring 1918 the situation in Transcaucasia, which was left in ruins by the war, became almost uncontrollable. After the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia the Russian troops situated in Western Armenia left exposing the Caucasian front. The Turkish troops taking advantage of the created situation broke the Yerznka Armistice signed on October 5, 1917 and took the offensive on February 10, 1918.
PanARMENIAN.Net The Armenian corps, composed of 35 thousand soldiers fought at the front under General Nazarbekov's (Nazarbekian) supervision, as Georgian troops and the “Wild Division” of Transcaucasian Muslims were situated in separate locations from the scene of the military activities. According to RA Prime-Minister Simon Vratsyan, Armenia found itself in between the Bolshevik hammer and Turkish anvil. Transcaucasia turned to the Turkish headquarters with the suggestion to start separate negotiations. During the negotiations in Trapezund the delegation tried to reestablish the Russian-Turkish prewar border and secure the self-determination of Western Armenia. However, taking advantage of the superiority in forces and successful offensive (the Turks occupied Ardaghan, approached Kars and Batoum), the Turkish party pulled out difficult conditions. On April 22, 1918 Transcaucasia was proclaimed an independent federal republic by Turkey's request. The Turkish troops, defeating the resistance of the Armenian forces which not only fought with aggressor, but also struggled for securing the Armenians from Western Armenia, occupied Kars, Artvin and Batoum. On May 11 in Batoum the cutoff negotiations were resumed. Representatives from Transcaucasia insisted on Brest Treaty to serve as basis for the negotiations, but the Turkish party announced that Turkey couldn't be contented with the territorial compromises, which are stipulated by the Treaty. Continuing the offensive the Turkish forces invaded the provinces of Tbilisi and Yerevan, and occupied Alexandrapol on May 16. Developing the offensive the Turkish troops advanced towards Yerevan and met a strong resistance in Sardarapat. On May 26 at Sardarapat Battle the Armenian forces sealed a glorious victory. The Turkish troops met rather strong resistance of the Armenian forces during Bash Aparan and Gharakilisa battles. In the result of the heroic battles the Armenian forces didn't let the Turks invade the Ararat Valley and complete the Armenian Genocide.
After the victory over the Turks the Armenian National Council proclaimed the Armenian independence on May 28, 1918 in Tbilisi. Hovhannes Kajaznuni became the first Prime-Minister. On June 20 the Government moved to Yerevan. The Armenian Republic had a population of 1, 510 million, including 795,000 Armenians and 575,000 Muslims. Since June the Parliament became the supreme legislative body of the Armenian Republic, where the ARF Dashnaktsutiun possessed 90% of the seats. After 600 years under the Ottoman power Armenia proclaimed its independence and Statehood at last. Though for 2 years only, the Armenian Nation believed that it could fight and win the war.
Later the Red Army arrived and Armenia became Soviet, as for the officers who had saved the Nation from the complete extermination, they were killed cruelly in prison in Alexandrapol or were sent to camps, to be killed later. By 1937 the pick of the Armenian army was destroyed by the Bolsheviks, only General Andranik, who immigrated to the USA in 1922, was able to escape. Garegin Nzhdeh, who saved Zangezur, was deported during II World War from Bulgaria and died in Vladimirsky Prison. During the Soviet years the First RA was hardly ever or only negatively mentioned, though without it the present 29 thousand sq. km wouldn't exist. By 1918 only 9 thousand sq. km and approximately half a million Western Armenian refugees were left from Armenia. No doubt, the Soviet Armenia was also an Armenian State, but the history shouldn't be forgotten either, which is often being misinterpreted. To manage what the First Government was able to do during the years of war, the Bolsheviks needed more than 10 years of a severe repression.
Veteran Diplomat, Armenian Patriarch Lend Support To AKP
June 5, 2007
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) received support from two different prominent names, as both Morton Abramowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, and Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, the religious leader of the Turkish Armenian community, lent their support to the government in separate articles.
Partiarch Mutafyan, speaking to the German weekly Der Spiegel, claimed the Armenian community would prefer the AKP to the social democrat Republican People's Party (CHP), while Abramowitz, in an opinion piece he penned for Newsweek International, said the “secular elite” in Turkey is terrified of losing power to the AKP.
Speaking about the murder of prominent Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in a Der Spiegel interview published on June 1, Mutafyan said the mood of solidarity, evident in the aftermath of the crime, faded away soon and made way for an upsurge of ultra-nationalistic rhetoric among the Turkish society. "We the Armenians were left alone again" he said.
"I do not think that the investigation [on the murder] will move forward,” Mutafyan claimed. “Apparently those who organized it are backed and protected by some circles.”
Plans to visit Ankara:
Mutafyan announced he plans to visit Ankara to hold talks with the “chief of the military,” claiming “there are rumors that the security forces might have some links” with those who committed the crime. “I will ask him: What do you recommend to the Armenians? What should the Armenians do?” said Mutafyan.
It appears that those who want to drive Armenians away from Turkey are strengthening, Mutafyan said. But he also criticized the Armenian diaspora: “Armenians in the diaspora do not understand our situation. We cannot deny the bloodshed in 1915 but we have to look to the future and try to promote the dialogue between Turks and Armenians."
The Armenians would “prefer the AKP over the CHP, Mutafyan claimed. He also noted that the approach of the AKP to minorities is coherent and less nationalist. “Our choice for the upcoming elections is [Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," he concluded according to Spiegel Online.
Abramowitz raps ‘secular elite':
Meanwhile, Turkey suffers a political crisis “once a decade or so,” argued veteran diplomat Morton Abramowitz. He also claimed that the latest tension between the AKP government and the powerful military shows that “the secular elite is terrified of losing more power to the AKP.”
The crisis highlights an international question of what role should Islam play in political life, the veteran diplomat argued.
Taking note of economical steps taken by the AKP to integrate the country into the global economy, Abramowitz said the “secular establishment” is “deathly afraid of losing more power to the AKP,” which enjoys support from “poor, pious Muslims.”
In his recent trip to Turkey, a professor friend of his had said “many parts of Istanbul now look more and more like the Middle East.” Abramowitz continued: “‘Is this what Atatürk fought for?' I heard over and over.” Many of the people who have such concerns would choose the military, if they were forced to choose between the military and the AKP, he said.
Looking ahead to the elections, Abramowitz said that if the AKP wins a majority in Parliament, “troubles could multiply.”
“Will the military allow an AKP-controlled Parliament able to elect its own president, something the generals have fought hard to prevent?” he asked. “The Turkish Republic faces a defining moment. Can it remain free, democratic and pious at the same time, while deepening its place in the Western firmament? … Finding a consensus grows harder by the day as passions mount.”
Let's Learn Foreign Languages!
June 5, 2007
Is it terrible if different intermingled communities know the other’s language? With this, would not we have a better chance to know each other well?
A recent news report was reading: “Turkey planning for an effective fight against the Armenian genocide allegations will train diplomats to become experts on Armenia. For the first time, Turkish Foreign Ministry sends a young diplomat abroad to learn the Armenian language. Since there is no diplomatic relation between Turkey and Armenia, this young diplomat will be sent to some other country providing language courses in Armenian.”However, learning Armenian in Turkey is a piece of cake. It is the same for Greek too. Approximately 20 Armenian and 13 Greek schools are active in Istanbul. But these schools are only for ‘regular' Turkish Armenians and Turkish Greeks. It is almost impossible for the children of mixed marriage or the children of converts to attend these schools. Even the children of about 20,000 illegal workers from Armenia whom we proudly mention about to western observers cannot attend these schools, nor can they attend any other school though. Schools for minorities work just like ghetto schools. As if they are open to all Turkish citizens, the slogan, “We all are Armenian” chanted during Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink's funeral comes to realization, or the Lausanne Treaty will be violated! But could not these educational institutions be allowed to teach Armenian and Greek to those who are willing to learn, including candidate diplomats, by finding an interim formula, for instance via alumni associations?
Better chance to know each other well
All minorities living in Turkey automatically know or learn Turkish beside their mother tongue. But overwhelming majority of Turks is monolingual. If the easiest way to understand each other is through the language, what needs to be done is clear. Is it terrible if different intermingled communities know the other's language? With this, would not we have a better chance to know each other well? Foreign Ministry's project to teach Armenian looks like obeying the logic of “learn your enemy's language to cope with him well”. The point here is not to better understand our fellow citizens and neighbors who speak different tongues and also to benefit from intellectual richness of being multilingual.The same news story continues to read: “As a second priority the decree points at the Middle East and Iraq. A Turkish diplomat is being sent to London in order to have a Master's degree on Iraq's social structure. Seven new diplomats will learn Arabic and have higher education on the Middle East at the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara. Therefore, bottleneck of having Turkish diplomats fluent in Arabic to serve in the Middle East will be overcome. The Ministry will also provide opportunities for young diplomats to learn Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Greek. So far, a total of 27 Turkish diplomats were sent abroad to learn foreign language and gain expertise, in accordance with the said decree.”Among diplomats there are those who learn foreign languages by their own. However, there was not any planned education scheme until this decree. Though it is late, this is something to be appraised. In Turkey, foreign language level of foreign ministry, academia and public in general is well known. It is limited to dominant foreign languages. Moreover, Spanish and Russian are not among these. Since turning our face to the West, we lost even our ability to read our History; we either forgot the languages spoken around us or failed to learn them. Learning Arabic and Persian was banned during K-12 education since 1929. With the abolishment of Darülfünun (higher education system during the Ottoman) in 1934, it was even banned in universities for a while. We have already talked about the situation in Armenian and Greek. Forget about learning Kurdish; it does not cross no one's mind.
Language is richness
However, language is richness first of all, a common richness of humanity, let alone its benefits. Linguists say a bilingual or multilingual person has higher level of intellect than a monolingual. To store and keep different words in memory, to parse and pronounce them later require more brain activity. Multilingual people have broader perception and learning capacity and that make them open to innovations and change. They are more harmonious. Monolingual people on the other hand, have tendency to show negative or even aggressive reactions as they have limited perception capacity compared to multilingual persons.
Happy Campers By David Margolick
By Tova Reich.
326 pp. HarperCollins Publishers. $24.95.
May 27, 2007
Whether or not a book can be judged by its cover, that’s sometimes where it begins. The cover of “My Holocaust” resembles a child’s board game, like Chutes and Ladders but with sprigs of barbed wire and playful figurines in striped prisoner’s garb. A cattle car sits near an ice cream truck. Hanging from colorful striped poles are the words “Auschwitz” and “Birkenau.” The concentration camp gate, where the “Arbeit Macht Frei” always went, now says “A Novel.”
A send-up of Holocaust commemoration is an inherently dicey proposition. Even Mel Brooks made fun only of Hitler; he didn’t joke about gas chambers and crematories. But wait! On the back cover there’s a blurb from Cynthia Ozick, the novelist and literary conscience of the Jewish community, who compares Reich to Jonathan Swift. Those Humvees in Iraq should only have been so well fortified.
At a time when morons and bigots say the Holocaust never happened, or that it wasn’t such a big deal if it did, the business of publicizing and exploiting the mass murder of European Jewry for political, financial or institutional gain is something we Jews would rather not discuss, except among ourselves. Reich has taken this taboo and built an entire novel — wickedly clever and shocking, tasteless and tedious, infuriating and maybe even marginally constructive — on it.
The story revolves around the barely disguised United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the fictional character Maurice Messer, a Holocaust survivor and the presidentially appointed poobah in charge. The elderly Messer has gotten rich off Hitler’s genocide with a company called Holocaust Connections Inc., which certifies businesses as suitably Holocaust-respectful. As the museum’s chairman, Messer is on a mission to use the legacy of the six million to manipulate the world, induce guilt, raise money, noodge wayward Jews back into the fold and feed his own ego. For a donation of a million dollars or more you get your name carved on the museum wall; for a cool five, you can get a sterling silver urn with genuine human ashes, or maybe even your own inscribed cattle car.
That Messer’s family was incinerated in the camps catches him no break from Reich. Instead, she turns him into a Stürmer’s worth of stereotypes. He is a liar — having embellished his own partisan credentials — and a thief, a cynic and a boor. His English is mangled, Eastern European style — “I’m here to debunk the myt’ that the Jews went like sheep to the shlaughter” — and full of malapropisms, as we are reminded in an unending fusillade of cheap shots. He is obsessed mit (get it?) anything rectal, and sprays spit when he talks. Reich has him doing just about everything except picking his hooked Jewish nose.
It is nauseating to read about him, but given all the other unpalatable characters, you sort of miss him when he’s gone. Take his nebbishy, neurotic son, Norman, whose daughter has joined the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz; or his deputy and heir apparent, Monty Pincus, a fraudulent mail-order rabbi, whose own wife attempts suicide, perhaps with the souvenir canisters of Zyklon B he keeps in his garage in Arlington, Va.; or the stupefyingly dimwitted mother-and-daughter would-be donors, Gloria Lieb and Bunny Bacon, whom the three sweet-talk and strong-arm for cash. It all takes place at today’s Auschwitz, which with its snack stands and souvenir shops is jarring enough. But making hectoring cellphone calls to your wife in front of a Zyclon B display, tooling around the crematories in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, scheming for dollars by the ovens as Messer and his entourage do — well, I know it’s all to make a point, but with every word I winced, and seethed. Hawking trinkets is not the only way to desecrate a sacred site.
As if to insulate herself from such criticism (and, presumably, remind us of her seriousness and sincerity), Reich awkwardly throws in Auschwitz factoids. Did you know, for instance, that Jews were burned in open pits when the four working crematoria, designed to process 132,000 corpses a month, could no longer handle the load? Under any other circumstances, I’d welcome such information; the world needs to know it. But sandwiching it between satire so crude is repugnant. Ditto for gratuitously naming a few of Auschwitz’s child victims. It would have been more respectful to let theirs and a million other Jewish souls rest in peace below Auschwitz’s ashen muck than to resurrect them for such frivolous purposes.
Mercifully, the action eventually leaves Auschwitz for the Holocaust Museum itself. Now, Reich explicitly confronts what’s evidently eating at her: the apparent belief that this government-financed institution, on the most valuable real estate in Washington no less, was conceived in sin — a sop to powerful Jews determined to harangue the world with their own tragedy — and has been a political football ever since, befouling and trivializing the memory of Hitler’s victims.
Messer himself articulates her first proposition with characteristic uncouthness, calling the museum “a Jewish-power testicle” hanging from the Washington Mall. To maintain its funding, to prove it’s a national institution more than a parochial Jewish one, he happily bends to any outside political pressure, squiring around whichever mass murderer needs instant expiation, or whomever the State Department happens to be cultivating. Following the Jews’ poor example, Reich suggests, every other historically victimized group is now demanding equal time. There is the African-American Holocaust, the Women’s Holocaust, the Palestinian and Native-American and Japanese Holocausts, the Gay and Lesbian and Muslim and Tibetan Holocausts. In long and excruciatingly unfunny scenes at Auschwitz, she depicts various New Age charlatans expropriating and twisting Jewish suffering for their own vacuous purposes. These characters, too, move en masse to Washington; an organization calling itself United Holocausts seizes control of the museum, promising to occupy it “until equal representation is given to all Holocausts, public and private, personal and global, animal, vegetable and mineral.”
Although the book’s lawyerly, cover-your-tuchis disclaimer says references to real people, events and organizations are intended “to provide a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously,” there’s one thing not on the book jacket: Reich’s husband was once the director of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and he resigned in protest. The facts are easily exhumed; The Forward has already matched Reich’s characters with possible real-world counterparts. Throwing vengeance into the mix could help explain how someone so sophisticated and undoubtedly committed to Jewish memory could write something so rancid and so primitive.
Apart from our righteous and very learned narrator, no one here comes off as anything but a scoundrel, fool, lecher or slob. The bile extends, inexplicably, to Holocaust survivors. Every one of them here is grotesque, obsessed with sexual organs, bodily fluids and digestion. One woman, who weighed 80 pounds when liberated, hasn’t stopped noshing since — ballooning to 220 pounds. The chutzpah! These grubby manipulators even know how to extort preferential treatment at the Holocaust Museum: just wave their arms — yes, the ones with the numbers tattooed on them — at the guards.
Sure, it can seem that ghoulish Holocaust commemoration has become the core of Jewish observance nowadays. Sure, some of those commemorators can be crass. Sure, some Jews have paraded their suffering before the world, insisting it is unique. Sure, much of it is ripe for ridicule, and ridicule can purify. But when the near annihilation of a culture is at issue, it’s hard to pull off; even Cynthia Ozick hasn’t tried. And if you manage to, so what? Ultimately, Reich’s obsessions are not just unseemly but picayune, and “My Holocaust” is far more likely to infuriate or distract than to cleanse.
David Margolick is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author, most recently, of “Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink.”
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Armenians Of Istanbul Are The Hostages Of The Turkish Government
Archbishop Mutafian gives publicity to Turkish official viewpoint regarding the issue of the Armenian Genocide, and doesn't forget to mention about “the Armenian armed revolt against the government”.
Since January, 2007 as the Resolution N 106 about the Armenian Genocide was passed in the US Congress, different opinions about the Patriarch of Constantinople Mesrop Mutafian (Mesrop II), speaking against the above mentioned Resolution, have started to appear in Turkish press. The Patriarch's viewpoint, which gave rise to severe criticism both in Diaspora and Armenia, is quite explicable; Mesrop II wants to maintain the fragile but peaceful relations both with Turkish authorities and with the country's population.
According to the Constitution Armenians, Greeks and Jews are considered to be the only national minorities in Turkey. And if the Turkish Government is more loyal towards the Jews, based on the fact that Israel is in friendly relations with Ankara, it is not at all loyal and moreover carries out rather harsh policy towards the Armenians and Greeks. The spiritual leader of the community should by all means be a citizen of Turkey. The truth is that he is elected by the community itself, yet the candidacy must be confirmed by the government first. In fact the Armenian and Greek Patriarchs are functionaries, called to perform their duties and not to permit any announcements contradicting the policy carried out by the Turkish Government. In fact the Patriarch and the Armenian Community of Istanbul have become the hostages of the Turkish Government and this is why the announcement shattering every Armenian in any part of the world should be regarded from a different point of view.
Recently official meetings of the Members of the US Congress Delegation with Turkey's initiative have been held in Ankara, after which the Congressmen headed to Istanbul, where they visited the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople. During the meeting of the Congressmen with Mesrop Mutafian issues concerning Resolution on the Armenian Genocide, Hrant Dink's murder, as well as the murders of the Catholic Priest Santoro in Trabzon and three evangelical believers in Malatya were discussed. “Lraber” quotes the Patriarch's words, “Based upon both the intergovernmental relations of Turkey and Armenia and the relations of the local Armenians with the Turkish Nation, we are not positively disposed towards the Resolution about the Armenian Genocide submitted to the US Congress. But at the same time we cannot deny the tragic events of the past. The history will never forgive the Ittihad ve Teraki's (Unity and Progress) act aimed at not only the punishment of the Armenian armed revolt against the government, but also all the Armenians living in Turkey. 1,5 million people of Armenian origin were killed in the Syrian deserts. Today there are 70.000 Armenians living in our country. The Armenians who adopted Islam to avoid deportation shouldn't be forgotten either. Since they continue speaking Armenian, they remain faithful to the Armenian Culture, and regardless their religion we consider them one of us. And we never consider the Armenian Diaspora being an object of dispute. We are Armenians from Turkey and together with our Muslim neighbors we try to maintain healthy social and commercial relations. The time to develop the politics of tomorrow has come. The Republic of Armenia boarders on Turkey, and since it is out of question to change the border lines between the two countries, it is of great benefit to the Armenians of Turkey for two neighboring countries to be in better relations with each other. What we have in common with the Turkish Republic is of political character, with Armenia we are connected with religious and cultural ties. We, the Armenians of Turkey, want nothing but peace”.
In fact the Archbishop Mutafian gave publicity to Turkish official viewpoint regarding the issue of the Armenian Genocide, and didn't forget to mention about “the Armenian armed revolt against the government”. One should really have some very serious reasons to fear for his life and the future of the Armenian Community in Istanbul to call the heroic defense of Van and Sasun an “armed revolt against the government”. Another truth is that it is always easier to judge. Yet the thousands of the Armenian priests, who didn't leave their posts and had their share of sufferings shouldn't be left unmentioned. By the way in Istanbul there had already been a Patriarch, Maghakia Ormanyan who carried out prudent and constructive politics, which aroused frustration among the Armenian intellectuals and political parties. In July 1908 the participants of the mass demonstration in Constantinople broke into the Patriarch's residence and deposed him.
Reader's Comment By Sukru Server Aya
I am not surprised that PANARMENIAN again distorted the truths. Which is full of paradoxes from start to end. Wasn’t the total population of Armenian within the Ottoman Empire 1.5 million at maximum)?
Wasn’t 1.5 million all massacre/genocide in 1915? From where all of the sudden came 1,5 million in Yerevan in 1918? (According to Kachaznuni and Lalaian the total population of Armenian Republic was about 1 million which means that the balance half a million had partly emigrated to other countries and were dead owing to several war factors in these years.
We know that from 1918 to 1920 the 1 million population of Armenian Republic was reduced by 200.000 who died of starvation in Armenia. Turks did not attack first. It was the Armenians who attacked and occupied Oltu, claiming that it was their territory.
Moreover PANARMENIAN fails to confess that when the Russian Revolt was in progress and some 500 000 Russian soldiers were passing through Tiblisi to join the Red Army, it was not that only their guns were taken but they were machine gun shot on sides of the railroad and killed by thousands. Stalin was to mention this later. The Ottoman Empire helped the Armenian Republic and they sent an envoy of two delegates to visit the Sultan Mehmed VI and “thank him for his patronage”… COME ON GENTLEMEN, enough of lies and distortions… Read your own historians and either write the truth or shut up…
Why does the history repeats ? K. Rgds Sukru S. Aya
Belgium’s Laterne: “no One Can Make Me Call It A Genocide”
06 June 2007
Yves Leterne, who is expected to become Belgium’s next prime minister after elections this weekend, this week said, “Nobody can make me call the incidents of 1915 ‘genocide’ unless there’s an international decision.” Belgian daily De Morgen yesterday made his statement top news, claiming that it would cost him votes. Leterne said that as a politician, he wasn’t interested in the genocide allegations and that the issue should be left to international courts.
With this statement, Laterne also supported the stance of Ergun Top, a Turkish-origin candidate for Senate from his party.
The Armenian Community Of Istanbul Shall Vote For Erdogan’s Party, Says Mutafian Patriarch In Interview To
06 June 2007
According to "Nethaber", Turkish online publication, the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Mesrob II in an interview to "Der Spiegel" declared that the investigation of Hrant Dink’s murder was hindered by pressure of Kemalist nationalistic forces, who had sponsored the murder. Mesrob II added that he is going to address with a protest petition the Commander of Armed Forces of Turkey, Yasar Buyukanit.
The Archbishop also stated that the Patriarchy is receiving threatening letters all the time. He said that governor of Istanbul effused to do anything about it and adviced each memberof the Armenian community to hire personal bodyguards. This could sound ridiculous, had not been the security of its citizens a priority for all states. Evidently, forces striving for eliminating the national minorities, are coming into power in Turkey. The idea and the effect of the peacemaking "We Are All Armenians We Are All Hrant Dink" slogan were all undone by the threats of the violent nationalists, Mesrob II Muatafian said.
To the question of the reporter from "Der Spiegel" about the Genocide Mesrob III answered in almost the same words as he spoke on the reception of US Congressmen on May 31. he just added that "We (Armenians) cannot in any case remain silent about the tragedy of 1915.
Mutafian ptriarch also stated that Recep tayip Erdogan’s government is muchg closer to the Armenian community than any other. Therefore, he said, the Armenian community of Turkey shall vote for the "Justice and Prosperity" party.
Margaryan's House To Be Restored
June 4, 2007
The house of the grandfather of the former Prime Minister of Armenia, Andranik Margaryan, in the eastern Anatolian city of Mus will be restored, reported daily Evrensel yesterday.
When Margaryan visited Turkey in 1977 as a parliamentarian, he could not visit his grandfather's house because of security reasons.
Margaryan's wife and his daughter visited the house in 2004.
Margaryan had said that his grandfather was one of the most popular people in Muº. "Nearly half of our cabinet members are from Muº. I really wanted to see the town. My wife and daughter went to visit the house. They found it damaged and people living in it. There are people in Muº that still remember my grandfather," Evrensel said.
A council formed by Armenia will restore Margaryan's house and the family cemetery.
Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Ii: I Plan On Speaking To General Buyukanit About Hrant
June 4 2007
The leader of the Armenian Orthodox community in Turkey, Patriarch Mesrob II, has said that the initial societal support shown in the wake of journalist Hrant Dink's murder has lessened as a result of nationalist pressure, and that the figures behind the murder of Dink in Istanbul are still being protected.
Mesrob II noted in his comments, which were published on the German magazine "Der Spiegel"'s website, that he planned to meet soon with the leader of the Turkish military, General Yasar Buyukanit, on this matter.
Notably, Mesrob II also used his comments to express support for the current AKP administration, asserting that the AKP demonstrated a more tolerant attitude towards religious minorities than the opposition CHP.
Also in the interview, Mesrob II commented on the controversies swirling around the Armenian claims of genocide, noting "Rather than insisting on recognition for the Armenian claims of genocide, we Turkish Armenians should make an effort to see that dialogue between Turkey and Armenia can be developed."
Armenian FM To Attend Istanbul Gathering
The president of neighboring Armenia, which has no ties with Turkey, has been invited to attend a regional summit of the Black Sea countries in Istanbul, but the country is expected to be represented at foreign ministerial level.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis are most likely to attend the summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), officials said. Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko is also expected to be in attendance at the meeting, hosted by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.
The BSEC was founded in 1992 to boost cooperation and economic integration among regional countries in the post-Cold War era, but the organization has largely failed to materialize many of its ambitions. Turkey, which took over the presidency of the BSEC for six months in May, wants to use its term at the helm of the organization to revitalize it by developing concrete projects. One such project is the construction of a 7,500-kilometer highway that will be built around the Black Sea. The highway plans will be introduced to the public during the Istanbul summit.
On the sidelines of the summit, BSEC and UN Development Program (UNDP) officials are expected to sign a cooperation accord. UNDP President Kemal Dervis will be among the participants of the meeting. Ankara sees the June 25 summit as an opportunity for the BSEC to revive itself and extricate itself from a political crisis that is hindering the organization's decision-making abilities.
Süleyman Kurt Ankara
Kocharian-Aliyev Meeting If Successful Will Force Turkey To Open Its Border With Armenia
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders are due to meet in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 9 to talk on the basic principles of the settlement on Nagorno Karabakh, which if successful will force Turkey to open its border with Armenia, said Omer Luthem, retired ambassador and chairman of the institute for Armenian research at ASAM.
However, settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is not enough for it, according to him.
The settlement may help normalization but this would not be sufficient in itself. Turkey additionally insists on Armenia giving up claims of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish diplomat said.
If they agree on the settlement, then Turkey has to give an “award” by opening its border which was closed in 1993, Omer Luthem said. A peaceful solution to Nagorno Karabakh is one of the preconditions set by Ankara for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan, he added.
If the two leaders can agree on the status of Nagorno Karabakh, the withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven nearby regions around Nagorno Karabakh is expected to be resolved easily, Omer Luthem said.
However diplomatic sources based in Ankara do not expect a swift solution pointing to other problems such as the timing of withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven regions, the corridor problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the timing of the referendum and the return of refugees and so on, the Turkish Daily News says.
The Meaning Of Sarkozy
SAHIN ALPAY firstname.lastname@example.org
Last month Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president of France. France is not a country that is familiar to me. I have neither lived in France, nor have the ability to read or write French. I follow what is happening there mostly by reading books and newspapers in the languages available to me. I am aware that Sarkozy has promised France more authority, more uniculturalism, less immigration, more work, less bureaucracy, more market, closer relations with America, among other things. He does not, however, give me the impression that he is to achieve more “power and grandeur” for France. If I were French I would undoubtedly have voted for his rival Segolene Royal, but the choice of the leader is surely up to the French people.
The election of Sarkozy concerns me only with respect to what he promises for the future of the EU and of Turkey. The question I have in mind is this: What is the meaning of Sarkozy from the perspective of the EU and of Turkey in the EU? Let me begin with Turkey. Turkey was perhaps the country where the “soft power” of the EU, that is its ability to attract and persuade countries to adopt its norms and goals, proved most effective. The promise of EU membership encouraged, especially in the period between 1999 and 2005, Turkey to adopt under various governments -- particularly under the Justice and Development Party government (dubbed “Islamist” by its opponents) -- remarkable reforms to broaden its democracy and to modernize its economy. The recognition of Turkey’s European identity by the EEC in 1963, and its confirmation by the EC in 1989 and by the EU in 1999 has surely been the greatest incentive for the Turkish reform program which has rightly been called a “Quiet Revolution.”
Sarkozy’s shift from his party’s traditional position of supporting Turkey’s EU bid and adoption of Giscard d’Estaing’s (”Turkey’s membership would be the end of the EU”) position, his pronouncements that “Turkey should recognize the Armenian Genocide”, that “Turkey cannot become a member of the EU even if it recognizes the Armenian Genocide,” and his offer to Turkey of membership in the “Mediterranean Union” instead of the EU has definitely helped the soft power of the EU over Turkey to approach the point of extinction.
Will Sarkozy in power, as is argued by some, behave differently towards Turkey than Sarkozy during the election campaign? I am in no position to tell. I do know, however, that the growing role of the military in Turkey’s politics as witnessed by the e-memorandum of April 27, and the increased risk in Turkey of the reversal of the gains of the “Quiet Revolution” is closely related with the opposition to Turkey’s EU membership that began with Angela Merkel in Germany and continued with Nicolas Sarkozy in France. I disagree with those who claim that the military in Turkey has from the outset opposed Turkey’s EU accession process. I believe that the military in Turkey is once again immersed in politics as a consequence of European leaders trying to derail that process.
It is in a strange twist of history that France under the leadership of Sarkozy has assumed the leading role in pushing Turkey out of Europe. France is the country which has historically made perhaps the greatest impact on Turkey’s Europeanization. Had Turkey’s Unionist and Kemalist leaders been attracted more by British than French ideas, the course of history in Turkey would certainly have followed a different path. The role of ideas that originate from France in the shaping the secular fundamentalist, nationalist and centralist ideology of state elites of Turkey cannot be underestimated.
Merkel, under the pressure of her social democratic partners, at least abides by the “pacta sund servanda” principle. Sarkozy and his likes, on the other hand, seem to have no respect for that principle, and no concern at all for the EU’s credibility and respectability. Their attitude boils down to the abandonment of the ideal of Europe united on the universal values of human rights, rule of law, democracy, and respect for cultural diversity, and the embrace instead of the ideal of Europe as a cultural union, as a “Christian Club.”
By trying to push Turkey out of Europe, Sarkozy and others not only send the signal to millions of Muslims in Europe that they are second-class citizens and are to remain so, but by refusing to lend support to the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Turkey, they are also likely to alienate the social and political forces in the Muslim world who are struggling for freedom and democracy.
Minister Of Justice Of Switzerland Proposes To Make Amendments To Law Criminalizing Denial Of Armenian Genocide
Geneva, May 31, Noyan Tapan. Christoph Blocher, the Justice Minister of Switzerland presented the initiative on liquidating or making amendements to the law of the Criminal Code of Switzerland fixing punishment for denial of the Armenian Genocide. Turkish press, quoting Swiss Tages Anzeiger newspaper, states about it.
Laurent Moreillon, the attorney of Dogu Perincek, the Chairman of the Labour Party of Turkey was also one of the members of the 5-person parliamentary commission, participated in works of the package of amendments. The Justice Minister prepares to present the package to the National Council during 1 month.
To recap, Dogu Perincek was sentenced in Switzerland for denial of the Armenian Genocide. On the eve of Perincek's legal procedure, Christoph Blocher, the Justice Minister of Switzerland met with Cemil Cicek, the Justice Minister of Turkey what caused criticism in Switzerland.
Noyan Tapan Information-Analisys Center
28 Isahakian str., Yerevan, Armenia 00009
Settlement On Nagorno-Karabakh Is Not Enough For Ankara To Open Border With Armenia
June 1, 2007 DUYGU GÜVENÇ
ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
The Minsk group is pressing on Armenia and Azerbaijan for a settlement on Nagorno-Karabakh, which might oblige Turkey to open its border with Armenia
Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders are due to meet in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 9 to talk on the basic principles of the settlement on Nagorno-Karabakh, which if successful will force Turkey to open its border with Armenia.
While encouraging Baku to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem through negotiations, Turkey does not expect any promising step to come out of the meeting and does not find it adequate to open the border that it closed in 1993 in response to the Armenian invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The settlement may help normalization but this would not be sufficient in itself,” a well-placed Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. Turkey additionally insists on Armenia giving up claims of an alleged genocide, and dropping claims on Turkey's lands.
“If they agree on the settlement, then Turkey has to give an award by opening its border which was closed in 1993,” said Ömer Lüthem, retired ambassador and chairman of the institute for Armenian Research at ASAM.
A peaceful solution to Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the preconditions set by Ankara for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan.
The presence of Armenian President Robert Kocharian in St. Petersburg is definite while Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is expected to declare his decision soon. The two leaders will continue talks on the basic principles of the settlement under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States.
Status of Karabakh is a barrier to a settlement.
If the two leaders can agree on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven nearby regions around Nagorno-Karabakh is expected to be resolved easily, said Ömer Lüthem.
However diplomatic sources based in Ankara do not expect a swift solution pointing to other problems such as the timing of withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven regions, the corridor problem between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the timing of the referendum and the return of refugees and so on.
Baku and Ankara in touch before the meeting
Turkey is encouraging Baku to find a solution through negotiations but is not optimistic about the St. Petersburg meeting.
Close allies, Ankara and Baku continue consultations prior to the meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders in St. Petersburg on June 9 and Turkey is supporting a solution through negotiations, said the diplomat noting that Turkey is also a member of OSCE.
The Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the OSCE to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which broke out in 1988 due to Armenia's territorial claims in Azerbaijan.
Turkey Pays Money For Denial Of Armenian Genocide In U.S.
U.S. Department of Justice files obtained this week by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reveal details about Turkey's new lobbying contract with DLA Piper, including a controversial - although not entirely surprising - provision that seeks to prevent even "debate" in the United States on legislation "that harms Turkey's interests or image."
According to the contract, Turkey is to pay DLA Piper $1.2 million for the year and an additional $750,000 to The Livingston Group, headed by Robert Livingston, a former Congressional leader who resigned in 1998 after a personal scandal.
"These new Department of Justice filings reveal just how deeply Dick Gephardt has sunk, compromising his integrity by turning against a human rights issue he energetically supported as an elected Member of Congress," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We are especially troubled by the provision in the contract that seeks to export Turkey's Criminal Code Article 301 to the United States by requiring DLA Piper to prevent even 'debate' on issues Turkey considers harmful to its image. This requirement, which falls far outside the American democratic tradition, is, sadly, entirely consistent with Turkish government's efforts to suppress freedom of expression by criminalizing speech that 'insults Turkishness.'"
As a member of the House, Gephardt cosponsored legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, as recently as H.Res.193 in 2003, and dating all the way back to H.J.Res.192, more than 20 years ago, during the 99th Congress, the ANCA reports.
Turkey Would Welcome Swiss Initiatives To Amend Armenian Genocide Law
Anatolia News Agency, Turkey
May 30 2007
"Turkey would be pleased if Switzerland's initiatives to amend the law criminalizing the denial of so-called Armenian genocide are true," said Turkish MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] Spokesman Levent Bilman on Wednesday [30 May].
"However, it is important to see the outcome," he added.
When asked whether Turkey requested information from Switzerland about the issue, Bilman said, "Of course we asked additional information."
"If such an initiative that will remove obstacles hindering freedom of expression has been launched, we would be pleased. We are monitoring the developments," he noted.
Sweden Readies To Soften Its 'Genocide' Law, Ankara Cautious
Today's Zaman, Turkey
May 31 2007
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has requested information from the Turkish Embassy to Switzerland over media reports suggesting that Swiss Justice Minister Cristoph Blocher intended to make a major change to Switzerland's anti-racism law, which criminalizes denial of the alleged genocide of Anatolian Armenians in 1915, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Bilman told reporters on Wednesday.
Media reports said that Blocher has drawn up a package for abolishment or softening of Swiss Penal Code Article 261 -- which makes punishable the public incitement to racial hatred or discrimination under which the leader of the neo-nationalist Turkish Workers' Party (İP), Doğu Perincek, was found guilty in March by a criminal court in Lausanne for calling the alleged genocide of Armenians in 1915 an "international lie" during Turkish rallies in Lausanne two years ago.
"If this is true and if there are efforts for removing the barriers in front of freedom of expression in a way which befits a democratic country, we can only feel pleasure over this," Bilman said, noting, however, that the consequences of those reports should be waited for.
The March ruling by the Lausanne court has made Perincek the first person sentenced under Switzerland's anti-racism law for denying the alleged genocide. The case has caused diplomatic tension between Switzerland and Turkey.
Skinhead Is Not A Killer; Skinhead Is A Patriot, Isn't He?
By March 2007, 539 cases of similar attacks have been registered, among which 54 with deadly outcomes.
The circuit court of Moscow has justified Roman Polusnyak; the murderer of the 19 year-old Arthur Sardaryan. 10 out of 12 members of the jury found the murderer not guilty, in spite of the evidence brought by two witnesses, who identified the murderer. Arthur Sardaryan was killed on May 25, 2006 on train near the Klyazma station. Two skinheads attacked Arthur from his back and shouting "Viva Russia" struck him 6 blows on his thorax.
The decision of the circuit court of Moscow speaks for the policy carried out against the "foreigners", which gives more and more bases for similar crimes to be committed not only in large cities, but in smaller and remote places too. It should be mentioned that the Russian Nation has always been very conservative towards the "others". And they have never liked them, but recently the number of the xenophobes and the nationalists in Russia has increased greatly, and most of those suffering from xenophobia are young people. The murders are committed by young people, who unfortunately do not regret for the committed, and vise versa, even may boast about it. For instance the 18 year-old Arthur Rino together with his friend 18 year-old Pavel Skachevski killed dozens of people. The teenager told in details how he killed and "cleaned up the city" from the foreigners and said that at first no one believed his words in the police station, but later on some of his evidences proved to be truthful. If the proves of all the other crimes are found as well, this case will undoubtedly give rise to a storm in the society as in this case the question is not in a single murder of a representative of a national minority, but of a series of murders. Since August 2006 Rino killed 37 people, 20 of which he did together with his friend Skachevski.
By March 2007, 539 cases of similar attacks have been registered, among which 54 with deadly outcomes. These crimes do not include the crimes committed against the homeless, even if the skinhead attacks are officially given publicity to by the representatives of the law enforcement officers. The victims of the mass fights aren't included here either, as it's not possible to fix their exact number.
The violations of the organized skinhead groupings start to carry a more demonstrative character, which is expressed in different ways. Before it was basically expressed through recognizing the responsibility for violent activities, but now the organized attacks become more common, especially those dedicated to some certain event (excluding the traditional "celebration" of the skinheads dedicated to Hitler's birthday, April 20, which was fixed long ago). This is particularly typical of St. Petersburg, where a rather big and well-organized skinhead grouping is sheltered, and the attack on the 9 year-old Lillian Sisocco, which was made right after the trial on the murder of another 9 year-old girl was over speak for the above mentioned. Yet this tendency is gradually moving to some other cities and firstly to Moscow. The attackers may show they are not afraid to be caught so many murders are committed at daytime in crowded places just like the case with Vigen Abramyants, who was killed on the platform of the metro station "Pushkinskaya" on April 22, 2006. Crimes committed on racial grounds become more common. The case with Alexander Koptsev, who organized a slaughter on January 11, 2006 in a synagogue in Moscow in the result of which 9 people were injured, is not the only one.
According to the official statistics of 2005, 50% of Russians are for setting limits on the number of the people of Caucasian origins. 46% of Russians think that they live in poorer condition than the representatives of other nationalities. 37% agreed with the idea, that "in Russia many troubles are caused by the representatives of others nationalities mainly".
Yerevan Hostile To Railway Project By-Passing Armenia
By Dmitry Avaliani, Nurlana Gulieva and Diana Markosian
Baku Sun, Azerbaijan
June 1 2007
An ambitious new project to create a rail link between the Azerbaijani capital Baku and Turkey has had a lukewarm welcome in Georgia, through whose territory the line would run, while Armenia has expressed opposition to the scheme. "Construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway may start in 2006," Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev told a cabinet meeting on May 10. "This railway is badly needed - it will connect Europe with Asia."
The project envisages construction of a new railway between Kars in eastern Turkey and the town of Akhalkalaki in southern Georgia, and an upgrade to the existing Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi line. The Tbilisi-Baku section already exists. The project's backers say it will create greater integration in the south Caucasus, which is divided politically as well as economically, and boost trade.
"Launching of this line will guarantee Azerbaijan's national interests," said Aliyev. "We are prepared to assume financial obligations immediately." Turkey has been actively promoting the project and has played host to the negotiations. However, the verdict on the economic rationale for the plan has been cooler in Georgia, while Armenia's reaction has been extremely negative.
With the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh unresolved, major projects undertaken in the region have bypassed Armenia. These include the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline inaugurated last year, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline, which has almost been completed.
Armenia objects that there is already a railway line in existence from Kars via the Armenian city of Gyumri to Tbilisi. The line has been closed since 1993, when Turkey formally closed its border with Armenia because of the Karabakh conflict. But experts say that the railway is in quite a good state of repair, despite the many years it has stood idle, and that it could be refurbished with little difficulty.
"If there's a railway which serves the same aim, building a new one and spending so much money is simply pointless", Armenian foreign minister Vardan Oskanian said in January. "If Turkey, guided by some political considerations, does not want Armenia to earn profits from the operation of the existing railway, we are prepared not to use it.
But the service would promote trade between the two countries."
According to preliminary calculations, the new project is likely to cost between 360 and 400 million US dollars, but many believe these estimates will grow. One Georgian section of track, between Marabda and Akhalkalaki, is in very poor condition and will probably need to be replaced entirely.
Finance for the project has yet to be found, with only the Asian Development Bank pledging funds so far. Matthew Westfall, head of the bank's Baku branch, recently told journalists that "Azerbaijan has the highest rating among the South Caucasus countries, and if the government applies to us for help, the Asian Development Bank is prepared to provide a credit for construction of this thoroughfare".
After the latest round of talks about financing, held in Ankara on May 4-5, Georgian officials said several questions remained unanswered. "We were interested in the Turkish side's calculations about transporting freight other than that belonging to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey," Irakli Ezugbaia, head of Georgian Railways, told IWPR. "It's still premature to say what Georgian railways will get out of the project." Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a declaration on creating an international transport corridor last May, pledging that the new railway would be put into commission in 2008.
"Technical work will continue until the end of 2006, and during that period the financing issue will be resolved as well," Nazim Gasimov, a senior official in Azerbaijan's transport ministry, told IWPR.
Armenian opposition politician Hovhannes Igitian said it was only to be expected that his country was not involved in the project, as "other states cannot afford to wait for Armenia to solve its problems and start acting as a transit country". But others in Armenia highlight the dangers of drawing a new dividing line across the Caucasus.
"If it's a priority for the international community not to create dividing lines in the region, but to ensure harmonious development, it cannot agree to a railway being built that detours Armenia," said Gagik Minasian, who chairs the Armenian parliament's finance and budget committee. There have also been vocal protests against the new railway in Armenian-majority areas of the Georgian region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, through which the line will run.
Many locals say they fear for their security if there is a growing Turkish presence here. Another concern, voiced by Akhalkalaki mayor Nair Iritsian, is that "people are afraid the Turks will buy up all the land here, leaving the locals no other option but to work for them". Georgian economic expert Gia Khukhashvili is concerned that the new railway could damage rather than benefit his country. "The route cannot be profitable if the annual volume of freight carried is less than ten million tons," said Khukhashvili. "But I doubt that ten million tons of dry cargo to meet that capacity can be found in this region.
"If it's a question of oil and petroleum products going to Europe [from Azerbaijan], Georgia would make more of a profit by using its Black Sea ports rather than building a new railway," he said.
Khukhashvili said the railway would provide Georgia with a healthy income only if Turkey shouldered all the construction and running costs.
Turkish investments in Georgia have risen strongly over the past year. Last June, the two countries signed an agreement to share use of Batumi airport, which is now being rebuilt by the Turks.
Negotiations are also under way to hand over management of Batumi's port facilities to Turkish companies. Some analysts argue that even if Armenia is not involved in the project, it will still benefit indirectly.
Yerevan-based political analyst Alexander Iskandarian said he is sure the Kars-Baku railway will at worst have no impact on the Armenian economy, and could even have a positive effect. "Roads between Armenia and Turkey are currently closed, and will remain so for the next two to four years," Iskandarian told IWPR. "The new project will facilitate transportation of freight from Turkey to Armenia and vice versa, as the highways [now in use] from Turkey via Georgia are in a poor state".
Iskandarian disagrees with those who say Armenia will find itself totally isolated as an "island-state" once the railway comes into use. "If the second railway works, that doesn't mean the first one can't as well," he said, referring to the now idle Kars-Gyumri-Tbilisi line. Georgian political analyst Paata Zakareishvili agreed, saying, "The projects that are already under way cannot be stopped or changed even if Armenia and Azerbaijan become reconciled with one another. "But their success will beneficial to the entire region including Armenia".
Dimitry Avaliani is a correspondent with 24 Hours newspaper in Tbilisi. Nurlana Gulieva is an independent journalist in Baku. Diana Markosian is a correspondent for the À1+ television company in Yerevan.
Genocide Accountability Act Is Introduced In The Us House Of Representatives
Congressmen Howard L. Berman and Mike Pence introduced the Genocide Accountability Act in the House of Representatives.
The Armenian Assembly of America told ArmInfo that the bipartisan legislation would make a non-U.S. national who commits genocide outside of the United States also accountable under U.S. law. "This bill is urgently needed to ensure that the United States can bring to justice those who commit this atrocious crime when they are not prosecuted elsewhere," Berman said in a press statement. "The fact that we know who these people are and where they are, yet are unable to prosecute them is an injustice to all those who suffered from genocide," said Berman. "This bill must be enacted as swiftly as possible to provide the Justice Department with the tools they need," he noted.
ANCA Reveals Official Ankara's New Guileful Policy To Block Even Debate On Armenian Genocide In Us Congress
The Armenian National Committee of America revealed official Ankara's new guileful policy to block even debate on Armenian Genocide in US Congress.
ANCA told ArmInfo that U.S. Department of Justice files obtained this week by ANCA reveal details about Turkey's new lobbying contract with DLA Piper, including a controversial - although not entirely surprising - provision that seeks to prevent even "debate" in the United States on legislation "that harms Turkey's interests or image." According to the contract, Turkey is to pay DLA Piper $1.2 million for the year and an additional $750,000 to The Livingston Group, headed by Robert Livingston, a former Congressional leader who resigned in 1998 after a personal scandal.
"These new Department of Justice filings reveal just how deeply Dick Gephardt has sunk, compromising his integrity by turning against a human rights issue he energetically supported as an elected Member of Congress," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Armenians of Turkey Speak Against Adoption Of Armenian Genocide Resolution By U.S. Congress
PanARMENIAN.Net Recently a U.S. Congress delegation had official meeting with Turkish leadership in Ankara. At the end of the meeting congressmen departed for Istanbul, where they visited the Armenian Patriarchy of Constantinople. “Lraber”, the bulletin of the Patriarchy reports in its May 31 issue that during their meeting with Archbishop Mesrop Moutafian U.S. Congress delegation members discussed issues concerning the Armenian Genocide Resolution, assassination of Hrant Dink, as well as murders of catholic priest Santoro in Trabzon and three evangelic missioners in Malatia. They also touched upon the bill on grounds of the community, which President Ahmed Necdet Sezer interposed his veto on, Turkish-Armenian relations, as well as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s initiative aimed at establishing a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians.
According to “Lraber” answering congressmen’s questions the Patriarch said, “Proceeding from intergovernmental relations between Armenia and Turkey, as well as relations between local Armenians and the Turkish nation, we do not treat positively the Armenian Genocide Resolution introduced in the U.S. Congress. We cannot deny the tragic events of the historical past.
The history will never forgive actions of Ittihat ve Teraki party, aimed at punishing not only armed Armenians who rebelled against the state, but also all Armenians residing on the Territory of Turkey. One and a half million Turkish citizens with Armenian descent were annihilated in Syrian deserts. Today 70 000 Armenians live in our country. We should not forget and those Armenians who adopted Islam in order to escape deportation. Since they continue to speak in Armenian, they remain faithful to the Armenian culture, and irrespective of religious difference we consider them as our compatriots. And just the opposite, we do not appreciate actions of the Armenian Diaspora, which pushes forward the historical events as subject of disputes. We –Armenians of Turkey, together with our Muslim neighbors support social and trade relations. We do not want our relations to be spoiled with neighbor –Muslim Turks because of such resolutions. It is the time to develop a policy aimed at future. The Republic of Armenia borders upon Turkey. Since change of borders is out of the question, consequently Armenians of Turkey are interested in approaching the two neighbor-states. We are connected politically with the Turkish State and we have religions and cultural ties with Armenia. We –Armenians of Turkey, do not want anything except peace. While the unbridled approach of Diasporan representatives is a disturber of that peace,” “Azg” reports.
Film On Armenian Genocide Screened In Istanbul
The screening of film titled “Return” of French-Armenian director Serge Avetisyan in Istanbul did no result in any incidents, although it was dedicated to the Armenian Genocide.
This proved that it is possible to watch the film in Istanbul without any debates, informs “Marmara” daily, referring to the French “Liberassion.”
This documentary was screened in the framework of the 5th conference on freedom of speech at Bigli University.
It was noted that Serge Avetisyan’s grandfather was forcefully displaced from his native Soloz village. According to the “Liberasison,” it became clear from the screening of the film that Turks know nothing about the Armenian Issue and are guided by certain prejudices.
The film was warmly accepted by the Turkish-Armenians. The film reminds also that last year the conference on “The Armenians of the Ottoman Empire” resulted in heavy disputes. The screening of film titled “Return” of French-Armenian director Serge Avetisyan in Istanbul did no result in any incidents, although it was dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. This proved that it is possible to watch the film in Istanbul without any debates, informs “Marmara” daily, referring to the French “Liberassion.”
This documentary was screened in the framework of the 5th conference on freedom of speech at Bigli University.
It was noted that Serge Avetisyan’s grandfather was forcefully displaced from his native Soloz village. According to the “Liberasison,” it became clear from the screening of the film that Turks know nothing about the Armenian Issue and are guided by certain prejudices.
The film was warmly accepted by the Turkish-Armenians. The film reminds also that last year the conference on “The Armenians of the Ottoman Empire” resulted in heavy disputes. -ArmRadio
Social Democrats Lost 9 Seats In Dutch Parliament Because Of Armenian Genocide
31 May 2007
Social democrat party of the Netherlands (PvdA) is going to release an evaluation-report on June 1 by a commission on the lost elections. In September of 2006 FAON made Dutch politics aware about some candidates of Turkish origin, actively and openly denying the Armenian Genocide, the Federation of Armenian Organizations of the Netherlands (FAON) told the PanARMENIAN.Net journalist. When the PvdA-party together with all parties had recognized the Armenian Genocide in December 2004, sent one candidate away from the list as he was an active internet-denier of the genocide, many Turkish voters in the Netherlands reacted furiously saying they would not any more vote the party.
FAON reminds about Nabahat Albayrak from Sivas, with Dutch and Turkish nationality both, on second place on the list, then changed the view on the genocide in some way. “As you may remember she finally said “we call it genocide but in juridical way it is not”,” FAON Press Secretary Inge Drost said. Even more people criticized this turning away for electoral reasons, which the party had done also on other items. The result after this was a loss of 9 seats. Since Nabahat Albayrak despite all this became secretary of State in the Coalition the PvdA-party despite their loss is now a member of together with Christian democrats and Rouvoets (genocide recognition motion) party ChristenUnie, the PvdA - party policy will probably more than ever be to protect her.
Today All Preconditions Exist For Adopting Armenian Genocide Resolution By U.S. Congress
31 May 2007
“It might be desirable if the Armenian lobby in the United States would support Armenia in any issues,” American entrepreneur and patron with Armenian decent Vahagn Hovnanian stated to a press conference in Yerevan commenting on activities of Armenian lobbyists in the U.S. Congress. He underlined his both brothers Hrair and Zhirair Hovnanians are active members of the Armenian Assembly of America. V. Hovnanian said, today all preconditions exist for adopting the Armenian Genocide resolution by the U.S. Congress, IA Regnum reports.
Support for adopting the resolution on recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress continues to increase both from Democrats and Republicans. Senator Hillary Clinton and leader of Senate minority Harry Raid have already expressed their support for the Armenian Genocide resolution. This decision was made on the background of intense environment caused by the next visit of a Turkish delegation, which hoped “via threats on worsening American-Turkish relations to freeze the Armenian Genocide resolution”.
American Sponsor: U.S. Congress May Adopt Armenian Genocide Resolution
01 June 2007
“The Armenian lobby in the U. S. should support Armenia in any issue”, American businessman and sponsor of Armenian origin Vahagn Hovnanian stated at a press conference held in Yerevan May 31. He noted his both brothers, Hirair and Zhirair Hovnanian, were active participants of Armenian Assembly of America. In his words, there are all prerequisites for the U. S. Congress to adopt Armenian Genocide resolution.
To note, the number of both democrats and republicans supporting Armenian Genocide resolution continues to grow. Senator Hillary Clinton and Senate minority leader Harry Reid have already supported Armenian Genocide resolution. The decision was rendered against the background of tense situation caused by a Turkish delegation’s current visit to Washington. Turks hoped “to freeze the Armenian Genocide resolution threatening that its adoption will result in deterioration of American-Turkish relations”.
It should be reminded that Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone and Joe Knollenberg sent a letter to the U. S. President Bush urging him to use the word ‘genocide’ in his annual speech April 24. The Co-Chairs underscored the crimes committed against mankind should not be forgotten and they need to be recognized. According to the letter’s authors, the U.S. should pay tribute to the memory of those, who suffered, and never forget the past. However, Bush did not respond to the message, IA REGNUM reports.