- Turkish PM Calls Bush On Armenian Genocide Bill
- Erdogan Calls Bush For Support Against Resolution
- US Image To Suffer If Resolution Passes
- Senseless of Congress
- American-Turkish Council Warns On Genocide Bill
- Nancy Pelosi's Dilemma
- French FM In Turkey To Smoothen Relations
- Let's Leave Sarkozy Alone
- Armenian Genocide Resolution To Pass Before Thanksgiving Day
- Armenian Diplomacy’s Task Is To Competently Bind Condemnation Of Armenian Genocide With Karabakh Conflict Resolution
- 'Trafficking Women: Policy And Impact'
- French FM going to Ankara for talks on EU and Armenian Genocide
- European Parliament Follows Pro-Turkish Policy
- Turkey and Armenia Genocidal follies The Economist
- Countdown Begins For Us ‘Genocide’ Vote
- Turkey Is Open To Dialogue With Armenia, FM Says
- Mesrob II: Diaspora deaf to Turkish Armenians (2)
- The Result Of The Turkish Lobby Impact Vardan Grigoryan
- The Turkish Lobby Has Unleashed A Fierce War Against The Resolution About The Armenian Genocide
- Turkish Foreign Minister Discusses Armenian Issue With Canadian Counterpart
- Survey: Israel Has No Right To Deny Armenian Genocide
- Turkey's Intrigues Hayots Ashkharh Daily,
- Better Than Myanmar, Worse Than Turkey: Corruption Report "No Occasion For Joy"
- State Department Regular News Briefing - Congressional Quarterly Speaker: State Dep Deputy Spokesman Tom H. Casey
- The Letter Of Former Us Secretaries Of State Ömer Engin Lütem
- Oskanian Sends Letter To Pelosi In Response To US Statesmen
- Armenian Lobby Slams Oomen-Ruijten For Excluding ‘Genocide’
- How To Close The Armenian Dossier With A Win-Win Formula
- Déjà Vu Nicole Pope
- Vartan Oskanian's Letter To House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ArmRadio
- Sen. Menendez: If Bush Doesn’t Recognize Armenia Genocide, Then The Next President Will PanARMENIAN.Net/
- Osman Elmaci Deprived Of Seat In European Parliament Over Armenian Genocide Denial PanARMENIAN.Net/
- Recognition Of Armenian Genocide By Bulgaria Is An Issue Of Time PanARMENIAN.Net/
- H.Res.106 To Be Considered By U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee October 10 PanARMENIAN.Net/
- UN Human Rights Council Approves Armenia Decision On Prevention Of Genocide PanARMENIAN.Net/
- Armenian Genocide: AAA Indignant About ‘Ill-Conceived Letter By Former Secretaries Of State’ PanARMENIAN.Net/
- PM Erdogan Criticizes Aims Of Armenian Diaspora In US
- Lebanon The Only Arabian State That Recognized Armenian Genocide PanARMENIAN.Net/
- Treasuring Turkey? by Alon Liel
- EU Special Representative For South Caucasus: Formation Of New Turkish Government Creates Favorable Prospects For Improvement Of Yerevan-Ankara Relations ArmInfo
- Matt Bryza Ready To Spend Energy On Karabakh Settlement And Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations PanARMENIAN.Net/
- A New Lobbying Style
- To The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House of Representatives
- Corruption Survey: No Improvement
- The Thorny Path To Restored Strategic Ties With The US
- Tancredo Withdraws Support Of Armenian Bill
- Isn't Orhan Pamuk Smart Enough?
- Artists Without Borders Between Yerevan And Istanbul
- Former US Defense Secretaries Also Warn Pelosi
- The Art Of Denial: Turkey’s Evolving Denials Of The Armenian Genocide
- Foxman: There May Be Disagreement Between Friends From Time To Time
- The Armenian Policy Of Turkey Reflects On Its South-Caucasian Policy
- Armenian Patriarch And The Freedom Of Speech In The US
- Cypriot Turks Join Struggle Against Armenian Genocide Resolution
- Erdogan Enlists U.S. Jews’ Support For Opposing The Armenian Genocide Resolution
- The Armenian Genocide As A Case Study In Today's Middle East Relations
- Turkish Newspaper: Turkey's Empty Threats Aimed At Fairly Consistent Policies Of The Us Administration Are Not Going To Block The Armenian Bill
- Denial Policy Gives Rise To New Crimes
- Us Frets Over Turkey Ties As Armenia 'Genocide' Vote Looms
- Armenia Doesn’t Have Territorial Claims To Its Neighbors
- Aaa Released Video Documenting Historical Truth Of Armenian Genocide
- Aaa Urges House Committee To Pass Armenian Genocide Resolution
- Armenian Genocide Bill Constrains Bilateral Relations
- Us Warns Citizens On Possible Violence In Turkey
- Turks March To Us Embassy To Protest Genocide Bill
- Turkey Slams Us House Panel Over “genocide” Bill
- Finally A Single Determined Voice
- Armenia 'Genocide' Vote Is Snub To Bush
- Turkey Condemns Us Armenia Vote
- Turkish President Protests U.S. Approval Of Genocide Bill
- Bush And Congress Dispute Armenian 'Genocide' Status
- Deaths In Wwi Era Embroil Congress A Finding Of Genocide Could Seriously Affect U.S. Interests Today.
- Genocide Resolution Advances
- Analysts: Us Congressional Resolution On Armenian Genocide Is Symbolic
- Armenian Genocide Resolution Up For Debate
- Us Congressional Committee Approves Armenian Genocide Resolution
- Armenian Genocide Bill Hits Close To Glendale Highest U.S. Population Of Armenians
- Factbox: Background To Turkish Armenian Massacres Dispute
- Genocide Bill First Step Toward Restitution, Says Ret. US Ambassador
- Dogu Perinçek's Case Might Challenge Turkish Interests
- FM Oskanian: Article 301 A Barrier To Open Debate On Genocide
- Gül Warns Bush Over Armenian Vote
- Iraq, Iran And The Armenian Resolution - Turkey’s Burgeoning Civil Society And Transforming Foreign Policy
- Armenians ‘Massacred 10,000 Jews,’ Claims Report
- Turks In Wales Protest ‘Genocide' Memorial
- Mehmet Y. Yilmaz: The Armenian Bill: Time To Trace A New Path
- Last Move From Turkey Before Vote In Congress On Armenian Genocide Resolution
- Romania Involved In PKK Funding, Turkish Secret Services Say
- Trend Exclusive Interview With The Foreign Minister Of Turkey, Ali Babajan
- Turkey: If Armenians Win In Congress, The U.S. May Lose; Cards Turkey Can Play
- Armenian Lobbyists Downplay Pressure Against Genocide Bill
- Diplomacy Channels Pushed By Turkey On Armenian Issue
- Monument To Armenian Genocide Victims To Be Erected In Cardiff, Wales
- Daniel Fried: Armenian Genocide Resolution to damage U.S. interests
- Fethullah Gulen in Australia-Fethullah Gulen Indicted, Escapes To U.S.
- 'Jewish, Armenian Groups Defaming Us'
- Administration, Congress At Odds Over Armenian Genocide Bill
- France And Turkey Move To Mend Fences Under The Shadow Of EU And Armenian Law
- Turkey Launches Last Ditch Effort To Prevent Armenian Resolution In US
- Sanctions Against Us Won't Affect Congressmen, Expert Warns
- Time To Bargain With Washington
- The Costly Bill Awaiting Us All The Day After
- Turkey Mulls Measures For The Day After
- Two Armenian Women Scientists In Ankara
- What Is The Problem Between Turkey And Armenia - Should The Border-Gate With Armenia Be Opened?
- Turkish Consumers’ Union Calls for U.S. Product Boycott
- Boycott All American Products!
Turkish PM Calls Bush On Armenian Genocide Bill
October 6, 2007 ANKARA-Reuters
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told U.S. President George W. Bush that ties between the two countries will be hurt if the U.S. Congress passes a bill on the Armenian genocide, Turkish television reported Friday.
Erdogan, who issued a similar warning earlier this year, made the comment in a telephone call to Bush, news channels CNN Türk and NTV reported. Erdogan also called Israeli President Shimon Peres to secure Israel's support for Turkey's position. Peres, in return, reiterated that Israel will continue to support Turkey's position according to the news channel NTV.
The Bush administration opposes the resolution on the events in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire broke apart, but the U.S. Congress is now dominated by the Democratic Party and has become more influenced by the Armenian Diaspora.
Turkey is a key NATO ally of Washington and a moderate Muslim country whose support it needs in the region as it fights Iraqi insurgents and confronts Iran over its nuclear program.
A senior Turkish lawmaker has also warned previously that Ankara could consider restricting the U.S. military's use of Incirlik air base, a logistics hub for the Middle East, if the bill is passed.
Turkey has already sent delegations to the United States in a bid to halt the resolution.
Turkish media reported earlier that the bill will be taken up by Congress's Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 10. .
Erdogan Calls Bush For Support Against Resolution
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned US President George W. Bush, urging him to step up efforts against a resolution in the US Congress upholding Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, officials said yesterday.
Erdogan warned that passage of the resolution, although officially non-binding, would harm the strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States, in addition to efforts at reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is widely expected to pass the resolution, which declares that the killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia during World War I amounted to genocide, a claim refuted by Turkey. Eight former foreign ministers of the US have sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her to block the resolution.
Erdogan stated that Armenia rejected an offer from Turkey to set up a joint committee of historians to study the World War I events and added that this offer was still on the table. Bush said for his part that the administration was working determinedly against the resolution and that it would intensify its efforts against it as the countdown for the Congress vote looms. Officials said Erdogan has also phoned Israeli President Shimon Peres and asked for Israeli support against efforts to win US recognition of the alleged genocide.
Today's Zaman Ankara
US Image To Suffer If Resolution Passes
The passage of a resolution in the US Congress supporting Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire will irreparably damage the image of the United States and make the Jewish population a target of criticism in Turkey, Foreign Minister and Chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan has said.
"If it is passed, relations with the United States will undoubtedly be affected very negatively," Babacan told Today's Zaman in an interview while en route to Turkey from a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) on Thursday evening. "It will further damage the US image in Turkey. We, as the government, can't prevent it no matter what we do."
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is due to vote on the non-binding resolution on Wednesday. The resolution is widely expected to clear the committee and chances are very high that it will be approved in the House of Representatives if it is brought to the floor by speaker Nancy Pelosi. Eight former US secretaries of state wrote a letter last week to Pelosi, who backs the genocide claims, to block the vote. The US administration is also opposed to the measure.
An influential US Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), recently reversed its longtime position and declared killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia during the World War I years to be genocide. The ADL says it remains opposed to the Congress resolution because history should be left to historians and not politicians.
However, the ADL’s decision to support the genocide charges has proven to be a major boost for Armenian efforts to win international recognition for the genocide claims.
Babacan said if the resolution is passed in Congress, the Jewish population will inevitably be the target of public anger in Turkey. He said Turkish officials have told the ADL and other US Jewish groups in recent talks that the widespread perception in Turkey would be that “Armenian and Jewish lobbies unite forces against Turks.” He said: “We have told them that we cannot explain it to the public in Turkey if a road accident happens. We have told them that we cannot keep the Jewish people out of this.”
Turkey categorically rejects Armenian claims of genocide and says both Turks and Armenians died when Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army in hope of creating an independent state.
Babacan said there was a “problem of empathy” that prevents Western countries from understanding why the issue is a sensitive matter for Turkey. “They do not understand that this is execution without trial. They do not understand that 1915 is not a very old date and that they accuse the grandfathers of dozens of people in Turkey by supporting these allegations,” he said.
No rush for Article 301
Responding to a question on prospects for the removal of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), Babacan said Turkey was not in a rush to amend the article before the European Union releases a progress report in early November. “We are going to take our steps according to our own schedule,” he said.
The EU wants Turkey to remove Article 301, which has been used in prosecuting several human rights activists and intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner and writer Orhan Pamuk and slain Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, for “insulting Turkishness.”
Babacan reiterated that Article 301 has turned into a kind of “trademark” because it is so often criticized by the EU, but added that the Turkish government was pursuing efforts to achieve a more radical transformation to ensure respect for freedoms, apparently referring to ongoing efforts to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution that was introduced following the military coup in 1980.
“There is an impression that removal of Article 301 will resolve all problems. We are in a broader effort to turn Turkey into a real democracy that respects the rule of law,” he said.
Babacan also played down a December decision by the EU to suspend negotiations on eight of the 35 negotiating chapters with Turkey because of its refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, saying Turkey was continuing with its accession talks process as if no such decision had been made.
The foreign minister denied there was opposition from the military to the government’s reform efforts and said a military commander simply noted that Turkey should enact reforms according to its own schedule at a recent meeting chaired by him and attended by bureaucrats from different state institutions. He was responding to a report in the Turkish press which said that the commander told the government to go slow on the reforms.
Following the EU decision to partially suspend accession negotiations, Turkey’s bid to join the EU faced more obstacles when conservative politician Nicolas Sarkozy, a firm opponent of Turkey’s membership in the EU, was elected French president earlier this year. Babacan was optimistic on Sarkozy’s stance, saying his decision to allow opening of talks on two new chapters was a sign of his political will for the continuation of Turkey’s accession negotiations.
On Cyprus, Babacan said EU mediation in the island’s decades-old division was no longer acceptable because it had allowed Greek Cyprus to join as a full member. “But the UN, non-EU European countries or the United States may step in,” he said. He also reiterated that Turkey had no intention to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus unless the EU keeps its promises to lift a trade embargo on Turkish Cypriots.
‘Iran an alternative in energy’
Asked to comment on Turkey’s plans to cooperate with neighboring Iran in the field of energy, Babacan explained there was only a preliminary deal to explore alternatives of cooperation with Iran and no agreement and emphasized looking for alternatives like Iran was a necessity. “Turkey’s dependence on natural gas has increased tremendously. We use natural gas to obtain half of our energy needs; 49 provinces have joined the national gas distribution network. We both need to reduce that dependence and diversify our sources. This is why we look to Iran as an alternative,” he said.
On the problem of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq, Babacan said a counterterrorism agreement signed last month with Iraq stipulated that further talks will be held on a Turkish request to have the right to chase PKK terrorists across the common border. And the fact that the current version of the agreement does not include any provision on the right to “hot pursuit” does not mean Turkey can’t use its rights under international law if necessary, he added.
Babacan says negotiator experience helpful
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Ali Babacan responded to a question inquiring whether he was closely monitoring the economy, his responsibility area as a state minister in the previous government, by saying: “Sometimes financial indicators do catch my eye. I try to follow the economy, but not like I used to,” adding that it was in the hands of “very competent people.”
He also noted that a country’s economic success most certainly increases the prestige it has in the eyes of the international community. The minister admits that foreign affairs and the economy are two very different spheres, but recalling that he worked as Turkey’s chief negotiator for EU talks for two years, he said he had grown familiar with most of the key files in international politics.
ABDÜLHAMIT BILICI ISTANBUL
Senseless of Congress
ALI H. ASLAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Alo Gari was a strong old woman. That's why she was referred to by a man's name. She lived in Germili, a village near Elaziz (now Elazig). When they came to forcibly deport Armenian residents of this mixed Muslim-Christian village, she hid a small child. Unfortunately that child's parents never came back. He was raised by Alo Gari along with her beloved grandson, Ali, who lost his father when he was very young. How do I know this? Because Ali was my grandfather.
Amid all the tragedies, there are many humane stories to tell from one of the darkest chapters of in the history of Anatolia. I'm sure there were Armenians who made similar gestures for their Muslim Turkish and Kurdish neighbors terrorized by Christian rebellions. Is it possible to understand those times from only one angle? Of course not. But that's exactly what the US Congress is trying to do today.
Look at the infamous "Armenian genocide" resolution (H. Res. 106), for which there will be a markup at the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Wednesday. Does it reveal anything about the sufferings of Muslims? Does it tell of Turks and Kurds helping Christian Armenians? Does it talk about the extraordinary war conditions that lead to the deportation and eventual crimes against humanity? No. It only offers a one-sided, emotional and unscientific description of the events of 1915. It's not only a nonsense attempt at writing history by politicians, but also a distorted production of the story.
I understand the grievances of Armenian Americans. I know how they feel about losing some of their ancestors and having to leave their homeland. I can see the deep feeling of injustice. However, does one injustice justify another? Is it fair to conceal a long history of peaceful, harmonious coexistence and reduce all Turkish-Armenian history to just 1915? And is it fair for the US Congress to pick sides in a civil war that took place almost a century ago?
At least 226 members in the house think so, and I'm sure even more will join them if and when this resolution comes to the floor for a vote. Why is that? A considerable part of the reason is the Armenian ability to influence and convince their fellow Christians. The United States is a Christian-dominant nation and Americans have always been interested in the plight of fellow Christian men and women all over the world. This resolution will reflect the sense of Congress, that is, the sense of the American people.
American rulers always say they are not at war with Muslims or Islam. But actions on the ground often prove the opposite. It was a small radical group of Muslims who attacked the US on Sept. 11, 2001, but a worldwide and widespread revenge mechanism was put into effect. Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq are the most obvious end results. The post-Sept. 11 mood makes it politically correct to portray Muslims as monsters. Therefore there couldn't be a better time for a congressional resolution which does just that for Turkish Muslims. Why am I not surprised? Most US rulers do not give a damn what 1.5 billion Muslims might feel about their policies, so why should Congress care about 70 million Turks?
It's important for Republican leaders to show muscle against Muslims so that they can garner "patriotic" votes and funds. Likewise, it's useful for Democrats to secure Armenian American support for their political campaigns. Don't tell me this is only an innocent acknowledgement for a "forgotten genocide" and a tribute to its victims. Don't tell me this is a matter of principle. Had the US Congress acted with principle, they would have pursued a more balanced path, or at least shown a little interest or sympathy for hundreds and thousands of innocent Muslim losses as well. In fact most other Western parliaments have chosen the same path. Perhaps it is too much to expect fairness from the offspring of colonialists who provoked fine Armenian citizens against the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps one should talk more about American, British, French and Russian interests before and during World War I in trying to divide and rule Turkish lands.
In Turkey and many other parts of the Muslim world, this one-sided US Congress resolution on the events of 1915 will only be seen as a continuation of the colonialist mantra. It will be viewed as a sign of the never-ending vengeful attitude against Muslim inhabitants of formerly Christian lands. It will be seen as one other Crusade-like solidarity action. Does that make any sense when US is trying to give just the opposite image? No. This cannot be about the "sense of Congress" then; rather, it is the "Senselessness of Congress."
American-Turkish Council Warns On Genocide Bill
October 6, 2007
In a letter sent to members of the United States House of Representatives, chairman of the American-Turkish Council, retired U.S. General Brent Scowcroft warned against the ramifications of a possible approval of the Armenian genocide bill by the U.S. Congress. Scowcroft warned that the U.S. could risk losing a significant part of its trade with Turkey if the resolution passes.
Nancy Pelosi's Dilemma
October 5, 2007 Semih IDIZ
The endgame may be near as far as the Armenian genocide resolution affair in the United States Congress is concerned. Press reports suggest that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will find Resolution 106 on her desk next week.
Most analysts believe that Pelosi, an avid supporter of the Armenian cause, will have no qualms in sending the resolution to the floor to be voted on. With a majority of representatives in favor of the resolution, many assume that it will pass this time.
This will, of course, happen against the backdrop of a petition by no less than eight former U.S. Secretaries of State, all of who are still household names, to Pelosi to do the wise thing and consider U.S. interests first.
The current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also petitioned the House Speaker along the same lines.
The bottom line for former Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig, Jr, Henry A. Kissinger, Colin L. Powell and George P. Shultz is that a passage of this resolution could quickly extend beyond symbolic significance.
“The result could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey” they said in their letter, going on to “strongly urge [Pelosi] to prevent the resolution from reaching the House floor.”
The signatories to the petition are, of course, putting their country's interests first, and not Turkey's, contrary to what the Armenian side is trying to suggest. It is at any rate ridiculous to even think that Turkey can “buy off” such eminent people, as some Armenian commentators are indicating.
The Wall Street Journal – which is not in a position to be “bought-off” by Turkey either – has also lent its voice here with a strong commentary on the subject (“Political History” - Oct 2):
“As a general rule, legislatures in far-off countries ought to think carefully before passing judgment on another people's history. When their sights turn in that direction, it's a fair bet that points are to be scored with powerful domestic lobbies.”
The WSJ continued thus:
“The sponsor (of non-binding Resolution 106 - S.I.) is Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California's 29th District, which has a lot of Armenian-American voters. His consistent championship of the genocide cause helped him first get elected in 2000 and later made his ‘name in foreign affairs,' as the Los Angeles Times put it in 2005.
“This congressional freelancing puts a strain on America's relationship with an important Muslim ally in a tough neighborhood. If the Resolution passes, the backlash in Turkey will likely be more than symbolic.”
The former Secretaries of State and the WSJ are right. If the resolution passes, the backlash in Turkey will most likely be “more than symbolic.” And it will be so for the same reason that is motivating Adam Schiff, judging by what the WSJ says.
In other words, no politician in Turkey that values his or her career will be able to say or do anything that appears even remotely to favor U.S. interests after such a resolution. Anyone doing so will become an instant political pariah.
Neither will any Turkish government be able to even consider lending an ear to influential Turkish liberals who sincerely believe that relations with Armenia should be normalized, including the opening of the border between the two countries and the exchange of diplomats.
If Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian believes Ankara is amenable to being browbeaten with such resolutions into normalizing relations with his country, then he has not understood much about Turkey.
If Resolution 106 passes, no government in Turkey can do this because it will appear to represent a “caving into American and Armenian pressure,” which will bring with it a stigma that no politician in this country can afford to carry.
No doubt Pelosi feels the burden of all this. No doubt either that her husband Paul Pelosi, who was in Istanbul last week, also conveyed the strong feelings among Turks concerning this issue when he got back to Washington (even though he is reported as telling his Turkish interlocutors that “they never discuss politics at home”).
The reason why the Armenian lobby is working overtime is, of course, apparent. If this resolution cannot be passed now, when the Congress is pro-Armenian and anti-Turkish as it has never been before, then it will never pass.
This is also Nancy Pelosi's dilemma. Should she serve her country's interests, or the interests of an ethnic group that she has committed herself to for so long, and to which she is no doubt indebted politically?
The bottom line here is that events of a century ago - around which a controversy still prevails - have become part of the current political discourse, rather than remaining in the historical domain where they should be discussed.
Armenia and the Armenian lobby are clearly driven by political motivations and are using history for this purpose. But this is not the way to go about “drawing lessons from history in order to prevent new genocides,” as supporters of 106 believe naively will happen.
Had the Armenian resolution passed 20 years ago would it have prevented Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur? Preventing such genocidal events need political will, and a genuine desire to act by politicians of the day.
History not only tells us that genocides have occurred, but also highlights the inaction of politicians of the day as they were occurring. Put another way, if the political will does not exist then Resolution 106 will hardly save the people of Darfur. All it will do is permanently scar Turkish-U.S. ties.
Armenian-Americans would no doubt be more than happy to see this happening. How about the rest?
French FM In Turkey To Smoothen Relations October 5, 2007
Turkish Daily News
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who is trying to smoothen Turkish-French relations that have been strained by the outspoken opponent of Turkey's European Union membership bid, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, will pay an official visit to Turkey today.
Sarkozy used his opposition to Turkey's European Union membership as one of his main election tactics. Speaking on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly last week, Kouchner said he was among those who tried to convince Sarkozy to change his position about Turkey's membership negotiations.
Turkey's EU bid is expected to top the agenda during Kouchner's visit, who is expected to reiterate the French offer of a “privileged partnership” for Ankara and active participation in a future “Mediterranean Union.”
French officials previously said France would not object to the opening of 30 out of 35 negotiating chapters. But during the meeting with Kouchner, Turkey is expected to reject the French stance of discriminating between negotiating chapters and insist that it aims for full membership.
Kouchner will meet with his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan, who is also Turkey's chief negotiator for EU talks. Babacan is expected to refer to the French bill penalizing the denial of the alleged Armenian genocide and demand that it not be put before the senate. Turkey previously called the decision a "serious blow" to relations with France, and threatened to cut off trade with the country.
Bilateral talks will cover economic issues as well. Kouchner will try to persuade Babacan to make Gaz de France (GDF) the sixth partner in the Nabucco Pipeline Project that will transport natural gas from the Caspian and the Middle East to Europe, sources said. However, Turkish Energy Ministry officials announced earlier this week that the German firm RWE has more advantages at this stage compared to the French company.
Contrary to Sarkozy's wish, Turkish Energy Ministry officials linked the bill to the outcome of the deal and stopped negotiations with GDF over Nabucco. Talks resumed only after the Turkish Foreign Ministry warned the Energy Ministry on the uselessness of such an act to prevent the full adoption of the bill. GDF is also closely observing the privatization of Ankara's natural gas distribution grid, as it has to compete with RWE, Gazprom and major Turkish energy companies.
A recent statement issued by the French Foreign Ministry said that Turkey is France's fifth largest export market outside the EU with a total annual trade volume of over 10 billion euros. “Our cultural, scholarly and technical cooperation is strongly developing. A ‘Turkish Season' will be organized in 2009 in France,” read the statement.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gül will also meet the French minister.
Let's Leave Sarkozy Alone
October 5, 2007
The president’s visit to the EU Council, constitutional debates, the PKK terror: None of these are as important to Turkey’s long term relations with Europe as the message that French Foreign Minister Kouchner brings to Ankara today. Here’s why
Mehmet Ali Birand
STRASBOURG - I am writing this article on my way back from Strasbourg. I had gone there to observe President Abdullah Gül's historical visit to the European Council.
On one side, there's Turkey's agenda, and on the other, a visit that will affect this country's long-term relations with Europe.
On one hand, we have the constitutional debates, the referendum chaos and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terror. On the other hand, we have French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's 12-hour visit to Ankara.
I attach a lot of importance to Kouchner's visit.
France holds the key to Turkey's relations with the EU. In addition, the American Congress will discuss the Armenian Genocide project on Oct. 10. If the project goes through, France will be in a position to stop that wind from reaching Europe.
Furthermore, our relations with France are gradually going back on track. The prime minister's meeting with Sarkozy in New York, followed by Kouchner's visit to Ankara, will disperse the black clouds over our relations.
All we have to do is to play this game right.
I interviewed Turkish and European foreign affairs experts and French diplomats. These are the points that they all agree on:
Sarkozy went too far in his comments about Turkey before the French elections. His objective was to prove the difference between him and Chirac and the right wing parties. He committed himself to a harsh attitude toward Turkey.
However, Sarkozy met with considerable resistance from Europe in the matter of ending the negotiations between Turkey and the EU. The French president realized that his approach would not succeed in stopping these negotiations.
In addition, the disturbance of relations between France and Turkey provoked severe repercussions on French investments in Turkey and on the political dialogue between the two countries. Sarkozy now wants these relations to revert to normal.
That presents a dilemma, though, for he does not want to lose the image of a leader of his word, either. He is in a difficult situation. He has to walk a thin line and try to put the relations back on track slowly and without attracting too much attention.
Turkey must assist Sarkozy in this maneuver. It must not continuously attack him and say, “Come on, say that you'll accept Turkey. Say that you're backtracking.” Turkey must tolerate or ignore some negative statements or reactions that Sarkozy might have to make or display from time to time.
Improving our relations with France will serve our interests as much as Sarkozy's.
Paris is showing signs that it will not legalize the Armenian Project by passing it through the senate. It also announces that it is giving the green light to Turkey's accession negotiations.
Neither France, nor Turkey will get anywhere by fighting.
In this case, it would be helpful for Turkey and especially its bureaucracy to abandon the policy of harassment against France. Daily politics have done enough harm to both sides.
That is why I attach such importance to Kouchner's visit.
Europe gives Turkey time credit
I have spent a great part of my life since 1971 watching the European Council, the EU Parliament and the international parliament's attitude toward Turkey.
It was impossible to even approach any of these establishments during our times of coups, torture and human right violations. I have even seen our ministers and representatives leave sessions in tears after being severely questioned by angry reporters and parliamentarians.
We got used to leaving those meetings with red faces. I don't know how many articles I've written in revolt against the governments that put us in such situations.
From that point of view, I can say that today, Europe has opened a “new period of understanding” for Turkey, a new “time credit.”
This time, their treatment of Gül, the questions they asked, the way they applauded the answers and the Europeans' very body language was very different.
What made Europe change?
I don't think that Europe has changed. I think Turkey did. Turkey did not have credible grounds to defend itself against those questions before. Today, it does. The implementation of the Copenhagen Criteria and of some reforms during the last few years gave us some breathing space. Ankara now has something to say and Europe listens.
That's the reason why Armenians, Greeks and Kurds did not get what they expected out of Gül's visit.
Gül's performance was as good as it was realistic. He did not use diplomatic or unintelligible sentences. He stated his views in an everyday language that the man on the street could easily understand. Consequently, he was convincing.
Gül was very positive about the Turkish Armed Forces. He answered the questions on the Kurdish issue with ease. All he said on article 301, the most questioned issue, was “it will be changed.”
So, he was applauded.
Europe's new mild approach is also felt in the European parliament, the Foreign Relations Commission and in the report on Turkey. The harsh and wounding criticism has left its place to a more compassionate and supportive style. We hadn't seen such a moderate report on Turkey for years.
That's why I say that Europe is on honeymoon with Turkey and has granted it a time credit.
All we have to do is to use that credit well and in good time.
* The translation of M.A.Birand's column was provided by Nuran Inanç. email@example.com
Armenian Genocide Resolution To Pass Before Thanksgiving Day
05.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ “This has nothing to do with the current government or the Turkish public. This is for the tragic effort of Armenians, who we believe have experienced genocide. If we do not want to experience or witness such events again, we need to remember the dates of these events and we need to have them condemned worldwide,” he said, Sabah reports.
Turkey has numerously warned the U.S. that passage of the H.Res.106 will cause a split in the Turkish-American relations.
The U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution October 10. The House version of the Resolution, H.Res.106, was introduced January 30 by lead author Rep. Adam Schiff. It has 227 co-sponsors.
Armenian Diplomacy’s Task Is To Competently Bind Condemnation Of Armenian Genocide With Karabakh Conflict Resolution
05.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, differs from the ones passed by the U.S. Congress in 1975 and 1984, director of the ARARAT Center for Strategic Research, Armen Ayvazyan told a news conference in Yerevan.
“The resolution defines the timeline from 1915 to 1923 (not 1915 as it was before). It mentions the precise number of victims – 2 million deported people, 1.5 million of whom were slaughtered. Moreover, the resolution does mention that Armenians were killed in their historical homeland where they had lived for 2.500 years,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide is viewed by the Armenian political class as a well-known game with a chamomile “loves me loves me not,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Armenia should measure the resolutions by its own criteria fitting both historical truth and national interests, according to him.
Dr Ayvazyan pointed out to five criteria for assessment of resolutions of the kind: correct mention of timeline (1894-1923); obligatory mention of the fact that Armenians were annihilated in their homeland, Western Armenia; condemnation of the Ottoman Empire, as the perpetrator of this crime against humanity, and the Turkish Republic as denier of the Armenian Genocide; recognition of responsibility of the Turkish state to Armenia, as mouthpiece of interests of the Armenian nation; connection between the Armenian Genocide consequences with the current geopolitical situation in the region, specifically Armenia’s security issue.
“The point is that the Armenian Genocide had resulted in a grave territorial problem for Armenians, since the territory for their settlement had reduced to an extremely dangerous size. The problem of Artsakh liberation and security of Armenians of Javakhk should be considered from this angle. The task of Armenian diplomacy is to competently bind condemnation of Armenian Genocide with Karabakh conflict resolution,” he said.
The U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution October 10. The House version of the Resolution, H.Res.106, was introduced January 30 by lead author Rep. Adam Schiff. It has 227 co-sponsors.
'Trafficking Women: Policy And Impact'
By Andy Turpin
"Trafficking in Persons as a Transnational Issue in Armenia:
Current situation: Armenia is a major source and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation largely to the UAE and Turkey; traffickers, many of them women, route victims directly into Dubai or through Moscow; profits derived from the trafficking of Armenian victims reportedly have increased.
Tier Rating 2 [Out of 3 possible tiers. 3 being the least desirable]: Armenia has failed to show evidence of increasing efforts, particularly in the areas of enforcement, trafficking-related corruption, and victim protection."
-Source: 2007 CIA World Factbook
"A senior prosecutor dealing with human trafficking admitted.that transport of Armenian women for sexual exploitation abroad has reached 'alarming' proportions but denied that Armenian law-enforcement authorities are too lenient towards traffickers."
-Source: Armenialiberty.org, June 2006
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (A.W.)-On Sept. 14, Ambassador John Miller, former director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the U.S. State Department, spoke about human trafficking in a presentation at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (KSG) as part of the institution's "Women and Public Policy Program." Dr. Swanee Hunt, director of the program and cousin to Ambassador Miller, introduced him.
Miller then explained the modern-day collations between today's global slave trade in female victims and the historical African slave trade, saying, "What people find hard to understand is that human trafficking-which is a euphemism for slavery-has been going on since recorded history and pre-recorded history. The assumption is that slavery is an aberration. But slavery has been busy on every continent since time immemorial."
Miller explained the fallacy in some minds that the abolition of slavery by the Great Powers in the 19th century killed the industry. "What you had was the abolition of official sanctions, but the slavery went on," he said. "We're talking individuals-their bodies and their souls."
He recalled his first experience dealing with a survivor of human trafficking as a politician. "The first survivor I met was in Amsterdam. She was a 29-year-old woman named Katya." She had been forced into working at a brothel in the Czech Republic 10 years before their meeting.
Miller cited another case from Uganda, in which the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel militia faction in that territory, abducted a woman as a sex slave. "She only escaped because during a battle she was shot in the jaw and [the abductors] could not take her with them," he explained.
"Eighty percent of those that are sold into slavery are female, and half are children," Miller said, and listed the primary causes as poverty, inequality of income (directly related to tribal and oligarch hierarchism in many nations), gender (women and girls are easy targets for exploitation), greed and an overall demand for sexual services.
In the fight to combat this industry, Miller cited as guidelines what the State Department deemed, "the 3 Ps: Prosecution, Protection and Prevention." He readily admitted the shortcomings in law enforcement efforts between nations to prosecute traffickers to the full extent of the law, mainly due to corruption. Yet, he waged, "Prevention has been what we've been able to focus on most."
Regarding the role of the UN in such reform, Miller stated, "Before the UN can take its place [in combating human trafficking], it needs to clean up its own act." He was referring to several known cases of trafficked person abuse by UN peacekeepers worldwide.
Miller closed by reiterating that initiatives to achieve real results in the fight against human trafficking were a matter of leadership that needed to be given much greater priority by world governments. "How you get 103 nations [those signed to the U.N. Anti-Trafficking Resolution] to adopt standards and prosecute is a challenge," he said. "I always start out by saying no country, no nation, is doing enough."
In tandem with the "Women and Public Policy" program at the KSG, a related seminar, "Sexual Trafficking of Women and Girls," will be offered on Sept. 26, and is open to the public.
French FM going to Ankara for talks on EU and Armenian Genocide
04.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is set to arrive in Ankara for talks to discuss France’s stand on Turkey’s EU bid and the Armenian Genocide issue.
Kouchner’s visit to the Turkish capital will be the first high level Turkish-French meeting since last week’s talks between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Nicholas Sarkozy in New York. An official from the French Embassy in Ankara noted that the visit by Kouchner would be brief but helpful, commenting "Kouchner is coming to help construct an energetic relationship with Foreign Minister Babacan."
The same official noted, "We are prepared to warm relations with Turkey, and to open up channels of communication. This visit is a signal that the dialogue between the two countries is getting better. Sarkozy is maintaining his position on Turkey. But he also wants reforms to continue in Turkey, and he will not interfere in this.....When the reforms are complete, it will be time for France to make some decisions," Hurriyet reports.
French President Sarkozy has many times stated that “Turkey has no place in Europe.”
European Parliament Follows Pro-Turkish Policy
04.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The European Armenian Federation (EAFJD) states that the European Parliament is following a pro-Turkish policy, the EAFJD chairperson, Hilda Tchoboian told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
“The European Parliament Foreign Relations Committee did not pass the resolution on the EU-Turkey relations. Calls to recognize the Armenian Genocide and put an end to the policy of denial don’t find understanding among European parliamentarians. The topic was not discussed at the October 3 session. Actually, the reports prepared by Ria Oomen-Ruijten was not amended. The final voting will be held October 24. We are planning to issue objections to the resolution. The EAFJD will sit October 15-16 to work out a statement referring both to Hay Dat and Armenia’s foreign policy.
As reported earlier, European Parliament deputies proposed 236 amendments aimed at improving the draft resolution on the EU-Turkey Relations. The draft text of this document, prepared by Mrs. Oomen-Ruijten (Christian-democrats, Netherlands), came under criticism - including within her own political party, the EPP - because of its laconic wording that evaded most of the key issues: the sociocultural rights of Kurds, the occupation of Cyprus, the EU’s absorption capacity and the enduring racist forces in the upper echelons of the Turkish government.
Turkey and Armenia Genocidal follies Oct 4th 2007 | ISTANBUL AND YEREVAN The Economist
The trouble that might flow from an American congressional resolution
A RECENT evening in Istanbul, Turkey's (and Europe's) biggest city. Armenia's leading musician, Djivan Gasparyan, is playing his duduk, an Anatolian-style clarinet, as Yavuz Bingol, an ethnic Kurd, belts out Turkish folksongs. The event symbolises a budding rapprochement between ordinary Turks and Armenians. But America's Congress may now torpedo this fragile process by voting for a bill calling the mass slaughter of up to 1m Ottoman Armenians in 1915 a genocide.
Turkey has squashed previous attempts to pass such a bill by exploiting its strategic significance and its clout as NATO's only Muslim member. This time officials fret that not only will a congressional committee approve the resolution but also it may pass on the House floor. Turkey says that this would plunge relations with America into deep crisis. “Placing the Turks in the same category as Nazis is intolerable for us,” says one official.
Possible retaliatory measures might include denying the Americans the use of the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, which is a hub for the supply of non-combat materiel for American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey could also seal its land border with Iraq. With positive Turkish views of America at a low of only 11%, according to a recent German Marshall Fund poll, such moves might give nationalists in Turkey a big boost.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, whose Californian district includes many rich Armenians, is unswayed by pleas to back down. Eight former secretaries of state have written to her to argue that, besides endangering “our national security interests”, the bill would kill “some hopeful signs already that both parties are engaging each other”. Vartan Oskanian, Armenia's foreign minister, retorts that “expressing concern about a process that doesn't exist is disingenuous”. His own recent meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, in New York got nowhere.
Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia and refuses to open its border with the landlocked ex-Soviet republic. This was sealed in 1993 after Armenia occupied a chunk of Azerbaijan in a vicious little war. Air links have been restored, however, and recently Turkish diplomats have hinted at a more dramatic move: formalising ties, over the objections of a vocal Azeri lobby in Turkey, not to mention those of its hawkish generals. In exchange Armenia would have to recognise its border with Turkey and make some conciliatory gesture towards Azerbaijan.
Armenia counters that it wants to restore relations “without preconditions”. That is because of a widespread suspicion that Turkey is feigning change merely to derail the genocide resolution. If Turkey were sincere, say the Armenians, it would scrap article 301 of the penal code, under which intellectuals have been prosecuted for daring to call the Armenian tragedy a genocide. On October 3rd Turkey's new president, Abdullah Gul, duly called for changes to article 301 in a speech to the Council of Europe.
Turks claim that they want to delink the issues. As one official puts it, “we strongly believe in decoupling our ties with Armenia from the genocide bill and feel that over time the relationship will flourish on its own merits.” Should the bill be adopted in Congress, though, a change in policy would become impossible because of the nationalist passions it would stoke. These worries are shared by Turkey's Armenians, still reeling from the murder in January of an ethnic Armenian newspaper editor, Hrant Dink. Mr Dink's lawyers claim that the nationalist teenager who shot him was acting under orders from rogue elements within the security forces.
David Shahnazarian, a former chief of Armenia's National Security Council, complains that Western countries are using the genocide issue to promote their own agenda. “In the case of France, it is to keep Turkey out of the EU,” he says. The massacre of a million civilians is a matter in which Turks should arrive at the truth on their own. But as Mr Gul has partly conceded, that may necessitate an end to article 301's restrictions on free speech.
Countdown Begins For Us ‘Genocide’ Vote
A resolution upholding Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire is expected to advance in the US Congress next week amid Turkish warnings that US-Turkey relations will receive a serious blow if it passes.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi has previously expressed support for genocide claims but it is not clear whether she would bring the resolution to a vote.
The US House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday that it would debate the resolution next Wednesday. Similar measures have been debated in Congress for decades but have repeatedly been thwarted amid concerns about damaging relations with Turkey, an important NATO ally. Tuesday's announcement signals that the Democratic leaders who control the House support the measure. With this support, the bill stands a good chance of passing in a vote by the full House this time around.
The US administration has said repeatedly that it opposes the resolution. Responding to a question posed at a daily press briefing on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the administration was "working very closely" with Congress on the matter. "As you know, it's -- every time one of these comes up it's a very sensitive issue. And we are conveying to members of Congress individually and in groups our views on it," he said. In Ankara, US Embassy spokesperson Kathy Schalow was quoted as saying that both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Ross Wilson were in touch with members of Congress to prevent passage of the resolution. "We are doing what we can to prevent it," she was quoted as saying by private ANKA news agency. If the resolution is approved by the committee, it would be up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to decide whether to bring it to the House floor for a vote.
While Pelosi has previously expressed support for recognizing the events as genocide, it is not clear whether she would bring the resolution to a vote.
But according to two congressional aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, the committee would not have taken up the resolution without Pelosi's support. The measure is expected to pass in the committee and has widespread support in the full House, should Pelosi allow a vote. Recently, eight former secretaries of state wrote a letter to Pelosi warning that passage of the resolution would harm strategic Turkish-US relations and deal a blow to Turkish-Armenian reconciliation efforts.
Though the largely symbolic measure would have no binding effect on US foreign policy, it could nonetheless damage an already strained relationship with Turkey.
After France voted last year to make denial of the Armenian genocide a crime, the Turkish government suspended its military ties with the country. A similar move against the United States could have drastic repercussions on its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which rely heavily on Turkish support. Turkish officials have not elaborated on possible consequences of the resolution's eventual passage, but observers say such drastic measures as closure of an air base used by the US Air Force in Incirlik in southern Turkey could be the possible outcome.
The measure comes at a time when public opinion polls show that the United States has become widely unpopular in Turkey, in opposition to US policy in Iraq. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found the United States had only a 9 percent favorable rating in Turkey.
Turkey categorically rejects charges of genocide, saying Turks as well as Armenians died when Armenians in eastern Anatolia took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army in hope of creating an independent state in part of Anatolian lands. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, says the bill's passage is overdue and urgent, with time running out for the remaining survivors of the killings. "The United States has a compelling historical and moral reason to recognize the Armenian Genocide, which cost a million-and-a-half people their lives," Schiff said in a statement.
Turkey argues that the US House of Representatives is the wrong institution to arbitrate such a sensitive historical dispute. It has proposed that an international commission of experts examine Armenian and Turkish archives, an offer turned down by Armenia. In the meantime, Turkey has been lobbying intensively in Congress, with support from the Bush administration, to quash the resolution. "The administration is very much against this resolution and has been very active in trying to stop it," said Turkey's ambassador to Washington, Nabi Sensoy. "We are very grateful for their help." But Sensoy said that Turkey's government may have to respond should the resolution pass. "We are not in the business of threatening, but nobody is going to win if this is passed," he said.
Babacan tells Oskanian Turkey open to dialogue
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met on Tuesday with his Armenian counterpart, Vartan Oskanian, in the first meeting between the two ministers since Babacan was appointed to his post after the Turkish general elections held on July 22. The meeting at UN headquarters in New York was held at the request of Armenia and was mostly a "greeting" aimed at the two ministers getting to know each other, the Anatolia news agency reported. The general atmosphere was positive, and Babacan's message to his Armenian counterpart was that Turkey is open to dialogue with Armenia on disputed issues.
The meeting came as the US House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs prepares to debate and vote on a resolution next week declaring that Armenians were subject to genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks in the beginning of the last century. Babacan said at the meeting that history could not be written by votes of politicians in parliaments and brought to mind a proposal Turkey made to Armenia in 2005 for joint study of that portion of history. The Armenian minister, for his part, reiterated Armenia's request for the opening of its border gate with Turkey, which has been closed for more than a decade. Istanbul Today's Zaman
Today's Zaman with AP Istanbul
Turkey Is Open To Dialogue With Armenia, FM Says
October 4, 2007 Turkish Daily News
With the possibility of a vote looming on a resolution to classify the killing of Armenians in 1915-1916 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as genocide in the United States Congress, the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers met in New York to discuss the matter, the Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.
“We are open to dialogue any time,” the agency quoted Foreign Minister Ali Babacan as saying to Vartan Oskanian, the Armenian foreign minister. Turkey closed its border with Armenia and cut diplomatic ties after Yerevan's occupation of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabagh region in 1993. Relations between the two neighbors worsened as Armenia launched an intensive global campaign for the recognition of the killings as “genocide.” Turkey says the Armenians were victims of widespread chaos and governmental breakdown as the 600-year-old empire collapsed in the years before Turkey was born in 1923.
Diplomats familiar with the meeting said the purpose was to allow the two ministers to meet each other, as Babacan has become foreign minister recently. The request came from the Armenian side, reported the agency.
The Armenian minister congratulated Babacan on his party's success in general elections, the agency reported.
During the meeting, Oskanian underlined the need for the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border, while Babacan said that Turkey and Armenia are still engaged in trade through third countries like Iran and Georgia.
Babacan also raised the matter of the resolution submitted to the U.S. Congress on the genocide issue. Babacan reiterated the Turkish position, adding, “history cannot be rewritten through the votes of politicians in parliaments.” Babacan also pointed to a Turkish proposal to establish a joint commission of historians to analyze the issue scientifically.
Diplomatic sources said the ministers agreed to keep in touch and create opportunities for more meetings in the future.
Meanwhile Babacan showed Oskanian pictures of the historic Akdamar Church in Van, which recently underwent renovation in Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Mesrob II: Diaspora deaf to Turkish Armenians (2)
Yonca Poyraz Dogan 28 September 2007
"The ‘Armenian genocide resolution’ pending in the US Congress disrupts both the relations between Turkish people and Armenians in Turkey and between Turkey and Armenia," said Patriarch Mesrob II (Mutafyan), the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Armenian Orthodox community.
"We had big problems in the past. I especially find the approach of the Ittihat Terakki’s (the Committee of Union and Progress) collective punishment of Armenians quite wrong. It wasn’t the whole Armenian community who took up arms against the government, but I believe the Turkish Republic should not be accused of what happened then. The diaspora would say that it should be accused as long as there is a denial of what happened," Mesrob II said.
Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in a genocide campaign by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, but Ankara rejects the charge, saying both Armenians and Turks died in civil strife when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia, siding with Russian troops that were invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
There is currently a non-binding "Armenian genocide resolution" pending at the US Congress. "We are the ones here living with our Turkish friends everyday. The resolution’s passage would have a cooling effect on our relations," Mesrob II said, adding that the diaspora doesn’t care about Turkish Armenians’ sensitivities and that "it’s a political issue for them."
Turkish Armenians are the biggest Christian community in Turkey with approximately 70,000 people living in Anatolia. Mesrob II said that since they lack schools of theology, the number of clerics is only 26 and bringing religious services to the community is tough.
For Monday Talk, Mesrob II told Today’s Zaman that the Armenian community hasn’t been represented in the Turkish Parliament, even though some of them have been interested in politics. The community’s attitude toward the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is generally positive, and the main reason behind this is the "aggressive attitude" of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), especially regarding the law of foundations.
As the Turkish-Armenian religious leader, Mesrob II has a different stance from that of some Turkish circles regarding the secularism debates. "I don’t think that secularism is under threat in Turkey. Secularism has been so entrenched in the society since the time of Atatürk that I don’t think anybody will be able to remove it," he stated.
We’ve been trying to interview Mesrob II since Today’s Zaman was founded on Jan. 16, but due to some unfortunate events — such as the Jan. 19 assassination of Hrant Dink, editor of the Turkish-Armenian weekly newspaper Agos, we were unable to until now. The Patriarchate closed its doors to the media then after receiving many threats. Nevertheless, the patriarch started to open up recently and discuss the Turkish-Armenian community’s problems more.
For Monday Talk, we had a sincere interview with the patriarch, ranging from politics to his personal life, beliefs and hobbies. -----
Do you think the investigation into the murder of Hrant Dink has been conducted thoroughly?
I’d like the real perpetrators behind this crime to be found. Otherwise justice won’t be served.
Are you worried?
I’m worried about radical nationalist movements. We need to exercise more tolerance in society. The same applies to relations with Armenia; we need academics, young people and artists from both sides to visit each other’s country more.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suggested the formation of a committee of historians from both sides plus other countries to study the history of the relations, but has not gotten a response from Armenia.
His suggestion was quite positive. I don’t understand why the Armenian side did not respond well to such a positive approach to study the events of 1915.
You said ‘the events of 1915.’ Do you think there was a genocide?
We had big problems in the past; I find in particular the approach of Ittihat Terakki’s collective punishment of Armenians quite wrong. It wasn’t the whole Armenian community who took up arms against the government, but I believe the Turkish Republic should not be accused of what happened then. The diaspora would say that it should be accused as long as there is a denial of what happened
What do you think of the ‘Armenian genocide resolution’ pending in the US Congress?
It’s quite negative because the Armenian genocide resolution pending in the US Congress disrupts both the relations between Turkish people and Armenians in Turkey and between Turkey and Armenia.
We are the ones here living with our Turkish friends every day. The resolution’s passage would have a cooling effect on our relations.
Doesn’t the Armenian diaspora in the US think of these sensitivities that you’ve just talked about?
I don’t think they care about our relations here. It’s a political issue for them.
Do they have any contact with you?
No, they don’t.
Do you have any contact with them?
No, I don’t. There was a conference about the genocide issue in Dallas that I was invited to attend and I did go. Armenian-Americans protested my speech.
I presume that they see my approach to the whole issue as a denial of the genocide. They do not understand the sensitivities involved.
Doesn’t your religious identity mean anything to them?
It seems like it doesn’t.
Would you go to such a meeting again?
I would go again.
So you resist protests...?
I say what I believe is right.
What is the worst scenario if the resolution passes?
Anything can happen. We receive threats every day.
Have you been provided enough protection?
Yes, there are quite a few security personnel around me.
What should Turkey be doing regarding the ‘genocide issue’?
Turkey has been changing in that regard. The issue has been discussed much more. Turkey has been doing what it can do right now.
Should Turkey open the border with Armenia?
I’d like that because the relations of Turkey and Armenia have been held hostage to the issue of genocide.
What else can be done?
Both sides need to improve relations among their people. They should look at the future and not be restricted by history so much.
What can the Turkish government do for the Armenians living in Turkey?
First of all we need schools to be able to have clerics. We have a shortage of clerics. We have to either send people to Armenia or Jerusalem to study theology. There are no schools here. I suggest a faculty of theology in one of the universities in Istanbul. We also need a school of philology here to study the Western Armenian language, which is different from the Eastern Armenian language.
And the issue of foundations?
Yes, our former president vetoed it.
Do you expect the new president to approve it?
I hope he does.
What is the population of the Armenians living in Turkey?
Approximately 70,000 — the biggest Christian community in Turkey, living in 23 cities in Anatolia. There are only 26 clerics. With so few clerics it’s very difficult to bring religious services to the community. Most of the community, especially in Anatolia, lacks churches and when the clerics visit the community, they have to pray in homes.
You’ve been working to have a faculty of theology in Istanbul, right?
I’ve been working on this issue with the Higher Education Board (YÖK), but it wasn’t possible to move forward until after the elections. I have to follow up on it.
You visited Gen. Yasar Büyükanit recently. Why?
He is the head of the Turkish Army. I mentioned our communities in Anatolia and our desire to visit those people. Without a doubt he assured us that the gendarmerie forces would provide protection during such visits. He was quite open and friendly.
What have been your observations during the election process regarding the secularist-Islamist debate?
I don’t think that secularism is under threat in Turkey. Secularism has been so entrenched in the society since the time of Atatürk that I don’t think anybody will be able to remove it.
Has the issue been discussed in the Armenian community?
Our community has been very secular; they do not mix up religious and civic life at all. Some erroneous reports indicated that I directed the community to vote for the AK Party, but our community would not take directions from me about whom to vote for.
Who is Mesrob II ? Mesrob II became the 84th patriarch of Turkey’s Armenian Orthodox community in 1998 after Patriarch Karekin II passed away. Mesrob II studied theology in 1979-1982 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. He held several positions in Turkey’s churches including bishop, chairman of the Religious Council, patriarchal vicar for Ecumenical Affairs, overseer of the Theological Auditorium, vice-president of the Patriarchal Advisory Council and archbishop. He is the editor-in-chief of the Shoghagat Theological Review. He has academically worked on the "Vanakan Vartabed’s Commentary of Davoush on the Book of Job." He is bilingual in Turkish and English and uses classical Armenian, Hebrew, French and Italian in his academic studies.
The Result Of The Turkish Lobby Impact Vardan Grigoryan Hayots Ashkharh Daily, Armenia Oct 2 2007
As we know 8 US Ex-State Secretaries and 3 Ex-Ministers who followed their example, addressed a letter of request to the Spokeswoman of the House of Representatives Nancy Palosy, asking her not to put to discussion Resolution # 106 on the Recognition of Armenian Genocide.
In our view the scheme of the before mentioned initiative has been elaborated in Ankara by the high-ranking officials and has been carried out due the contacts of Turkish lobby. The existence of similar cunning political technologies characteristic to Turkish diplomacy is proved by two not secondary conditions.
The appearance of those two letter-applications in the US political arena coincided with the latest visit of the Turkish Prime-Minister R. T. Erdoghan to Washington.
It is also not accidental that the Ex-Foreign Minister and the Ex-Defense Minister have signed the same document, the pivotal clause of which is that after the recognition of Armenian Genocide, America will be in the danger of "Turkish sanctions".
It involves two concepts: the probable change in the attitude of Turkish society towards America and the danger of an obstacle for the US air forces to use Injirlik airport. These viewpoints and presumptions are actually the principal clauses of Turkish advocacy, because Turkish society has changed its attitude towards America long ago and the issue of using Injirlik airport has lost its vitality for the USA after the latter settled in Iraq and Georgia.
One thing is left to clarify - that is - the goal of the authors, of the before mentioned letter of request, the ex-officials, who still live with the memories of Turkish-American friendship of cold-war period. The thing is, immediately after the visit of Turkish Prime Minister R. T. Erdoghan to America, on October 3, the meeting of Armenian and Turkish Foreign Ministers is going to take place in the USA, which will display whether or not our "hostile neighbor" is ready to take specific steps to find a way out of the dilemma the USA has put forward - that is " Recognition of the Genocide or opening Armenian - Turkish border".
That is to say unlike the former officials, The US present administration doesn't fear the negative attitude of the Turkish society towards them, or the responsive steps of the Turkish government. On the contrary, they themselves formulated and advanced the dilemma " Recognition of the Genocide or opening the borders."
Whereas at that critical moment 8 US Ex State Secretaries - Madlen Albright, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleberger, Alexander Hague, Henry Kissinger, Collin Powel and George Shultz and the before time concern of the three ex-leaders of Pentagon, Frank Karluchy, William Kohan and William Perry, who followed their example, concerning the future of Turkish American strategic cooperation is in fact based on the former idea of those officials about Turkey. At present Turkey can't bring serious damage to the USA.
The example of the countries that recently recognized Armenian Genocide (France and Canada) displays that the threats made by Turkey before the recognition of the Genocide never have any serious consequences. Moreover when we speak about number one super-power, the threat about sanctions against this country can have an adverse effect.
In our view Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan's response letter addressed to Nancy Palosy, the respective activities of Armenian Lobby in the USA and finally V. Oskanyan - A. Babajan upcoming negotiations can neutralize the possible negative effect of this trick of influencing the present ones through the former ones, on the Lower House of Congress and its Speaker.
The Turkish Lobby Has Unleashed A Fierce War Against The Resolution About The Armenian Genocide
The American former diplomats shade doubt upon the principles of human rights, i.e. they do not appreciate the values their country is based on.
The announcement made by the eight US State Secretaries regarding Resolution N 106 of the US Congress about the Armenian Genocide gave rise to resentment not only among the Armenian Diaspora but in Armenia as well. Most probably Turkey has the last but one chance to tip the scale to his side. The last one will be the closing of “Incirlik and perhaps the actions against the American troops in Iraq. Most likely this is what the USA most fears of.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ It should be mentioned that Madeleine Albright, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Georges Shultz have addressed a letter to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, where they had tried to convince her not to put Resolution N 106 about the Armenian Genocide to the vote. The retired diplomats express their worry, saying that “the adoption of the Resolution may endanger the US national security in the region including the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and will upset the efforts of normalizing the Armenian-Turkish relations.” The content of the letter makes it clear that the policy adopted by the US State Department is obviously pro-Turkish and this indeed proceeds from the point of view of national security, since besides Israel and Turkey the USA has no other strategic allies in the Middle East. Most probably it's the very moment when the House of Representatives will receive a call from the White House and will “be ask” to postpone the vote. This is what happened at the time of Bill Clinton, when following the advice of the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the House of Representatives postponed the voting for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
According to the ANCA Executive Director Aram Hambaryan, the US Administration doesn't have enough strength to put an end to a number of genocides - Cambodia, Rwanda, and Dartmouth. “We, Americans are particularly worried with the fact that the warnings for the Congress carry sense of fear towards Turkey and take advantage of our national conscience for the sake of foreign government,” he said. In its turn the Armenian Assembly of America also expresses its disagreement with the “diplomats' unreasonable letter”, calling it inconsequent from the point of view of American values. “How many excuses should be thought of to avoid the recognition of the truth? Former State Secretaries couldn't overcome Turkey's refusal to dispose the corridor in Northern Iraq to the American troops, which led to the loss of American soldiers,” was mentioned in the statement in AAA.
In fact American former diplomats shade doubt upon the principles of human rights, i.e. they do not appreciate the values their country is based on. As a matter of fact the words about “morals” and “national interests” are rarely compatible.
The official Yerevan didn't stay away either, for the given issue doesn't touch upon the problem of Armenian-American or American-Turkish relations, but the security of Armenia. “I got to know the letter of the US former State Secretaries addressed to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi with resentment. The letter called upon upsetting the voting of Resolution N 106 about the Armenian Genocide,” said the RA Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanyan. According to him it is indeed sad that eight rather skillful diplomats give way to the Turkish pressure. “There are a lot of questions mentioned in the letter not to agree with, especially in the sense of the negative impact that the Resolution may have. I will only bring forward the untrue statement which says that “the Resolution will upset the efforts of creating a healthy atmosphere between Armenia and Turkey.” I have to mention it with a great regret that there is no process, which stimulates any healthy relationship between Armenia and Turkey. Expressing worry for non-existent processes is a feigned position,” emphasized Oskanyan.
Turkish Foreign Minister Discusses Armenian Issue With Canadian Counterpart
Anatolia News Agency, Turkey Sept 30 2007
New York, 30 September: During his talks with his Canadian counterpart Maxime Bernier in New York, Turkish Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks Ali Babacan expressed the uneasiness caused in Turkey due to Canada's stance on the Armenian allegations, sources said on Sunday [30 September].
According to diplomatic sources, Babacan briefed Bernier - who has been recently appointed as Canadian FM - on issues such as relations between Turkey and Canada, the general elections held in Turkey on 22 July the studies on the new constitution and the latest developments regarding Turkey's negotiations with EU.
Babacan told Bernier that Canada's stance on the Armenian allegations overshadowed the improving relations between the two countries. Babacan also said that Turkey expected Canada to take steps regarding this matter.
Underscoring that they attached great importance to relations with Turkey, Bernier said they would make a more detailed research on the incidents of 1915. Bernier also indicated that they fully supported Turkey's proposal to Armenia for the formation of a "Joint History Commission".
Within the scope of his talks in USA, Babacan had meetings with Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, FM of the United Arab Emirates Abdallah bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan and FM of Bahrain Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa as well. The Middle East issue was debated in these meetings, sources said.
Luxembourg, Papua New Guinea
On the other hand, Babacan discussed Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU accession process during his talks with FM of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn.
Asselborn told Babacan that the rightest platform to solve the Cyprus issue was definitely UN, not EU.
Meanwhile, Babacan and FM of Papua New Guinea Sam Abal talked about Turkey's EU membership process during their meeting, sources added.
Survey: Israel Has No Right To Deny Armenian Genocide
03.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ NEWSru.co.il web site has accomplished a survey titled “Israel and Armenian Genocide.” The survey proceeded in two stages (August 27-28 and October 2). 561 people took part in the survey, 509 of them answered all of the questions.
The topic of the survey was prompted by the Anti-Defamation League’s recognition of the 1915 events in the Ottoman Empire as tantamount to genocide. The statement found support among many Israeli politicians, what led to tension in relations with Turkey.
The survey showed that the absolute majority (82,5%) agree with the opinion that the Israeli people, who survived the Holocaust have no right to deny tragedies of other nations. At that 72,4% think that Israel should recognize the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 as genocide.
43,8% of those surveyed said Israel should recognize the Armenian Genocide even at expense of breaking off relations with Turkey. 35,2% said it’s not the price for Israel to pay.
48% think it possible to convince Turkey in the necessity to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. 33,2% said it’s unreal.
Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide still remains one of the obstacles for its accession to the European Union.
Turkey's Intrigues Hayots Ashkharh Daily, Armenia Oct 2 2007
As we know 8 US Ex State Secretaries have recently addressed a letter of request to the Spokeswoman of the House of Representatives Nancy Palosy, with an appeal to thwart the discussion of Resolution # 106 on the Recognition of Armenian Genocide during the plenary session.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan, in his turn addressed a responsive letter to Nancy Palosy, which runs the following, " With indignation I familiarized myself with the statement saying that the Resolution can harm Armenian -Turkish relation. It is really regrettable that eight experienced diplomats yield to Turkey's intrigues.
I regret to mention that there is no process that might have promoted the regulation of the relations between Armenia and Turkey.
And to express concern about damaging a process that doesn't exist is simply an artificial process.
Moreover, not only there is no process, but I must also confess we don't even hope that Turkey will be seriously involved in any process, as a result establishing minimal regular relations with Armenia. My pessimism is based on the fact that, any time we agree to a meeting with turkey, the meeting itself is used by Turkey to torpedo the processes in the USA or other countries of the world.
Dear Spokeswoman, Armenia has always been ready for establishing normal relations with Turkey. However Turkey has denied any initiative by Armenia for the normalization of the relations. Instead the latter has been continuously advancing preconditions. Turkey makes proposals, which are nothing more than a claim for endless talks, without any sign of serious commitments to achieving minimal regular relations with their neighbors. Their appeal to set up a committee of historians aimed at discussing those lamentable historical events is not serious, considering that freedom of speech and the issues under discussion are restricted by the Criminal Code, as well as the unfriendly atmosphere that Turkey has created by keeping the borders with Armenia close.
To observe acknowledging the truth as a hindrance to the political relations is cynical. A resolution that touches upon human rights and Genocide issues can't harm bilateral relation neither yours with Turkey nor ours. I appeal to you and your colleagues, as well as the Ex State Secretaries stating that the same geo-political concerns must push all of us to do our bests to open the borders, instead of rewarding intolerance."
Better Than Myanmar, Worse Than Turkey: Corruption Report "No Occasion For Joy"
By Marianna Grigoryan
With each election, including the upcoming presidential race, political parties and candidates get up in arms over corruption. Then, each election itself becomes a new way for the same officials to exercise corrupt policies with bribes and voting infractions.
According to organizations researching in the sphere of corruption, nothing seems to have changed in this area in recent years in Armenia.
According to Amalia Kostanyan, who heads the local office of Transparency International, political will is first of all needed to grapple with corruption.
There are numerous forms of struggle, Kostanyan says. One has to reveal, prevent, condemn, educate, however if you pay attention you'll see that no senior official in Armenia has yet been convicted for corruption. Only representatives of the former authorities are convicted here, which shows what situation we have in Armenia.
Despite the numerous local and international anti-corruption programs carried out in Armenia since 2003, the country is still ranked among countries where the level of corruption is "alarming".
?Studies show that the level of corruption in Armenia in 2007 has not reduced. Armenia is among the 82 countries that are considered to be most corrupt. It is in this condition, while Armenia has been implementing its anti-corruption program for the past four years already," Kostanyan said in a press conference on Wednesday.
According to the head of the anti-graft watchdog's local affiliate, programs are developed in Armenia, laws are adopted, which however do not practically change anything in real life.
According to Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Armenia is ranked 99th among 180 countries, with an index of 3.0.
Transparency International rates countries on a 10-point scale where the score of 10 indicates the absence of corruption.
Mongolia, Algeria, Belize and the Dominican Republic have the same CPI score as Armenia.
Neighboring Georgia is in 79th place with a score of 3.4, Azerbaijan is ranked 150th (2.1) and Turkey is 67th (4.1).
The CPI of Transparency International (www.transparency.org) reflects the opinions of local and foreign entrepreneurs and experts and is based on the study of 14 public opinion surveys conducted by independent research institutions.
?It is impossible to combat corruption through a few nongovernmental organizations; it is an all-national problem,? Kostanyan said. ?And it is not so proper to speak about justice and fairness in Armenia. The parliamentary elections are a bright example when political parties entered the Constitutional Court with evidence and nothing changed.?
According to the study, the least corrupt countries with the CPI score of 9.4 are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. The United Kingdom is 12th with the score of 8.4, and the United States is ranked 20th with the index of 7.2.
The countries with the highest level of corruption are Iraq, Myanmar and Somalia, which have the CPI score of only 1.4.
?The fact that we have been among Zimbabwe, Chad or many other underdeveloped countries for already several years is not at all an occasion for joy,? Kostanyan said.
According to her, it is obvious that poor countries are among those with the highest levels of corruption.
And despite this, it is very dangerous to give an explanation that people resort to corruption out of their poor social conditions or their national mentality, since the same Armenian in other countries shows himself in a different way and here the matter concerns real struggle,? Kostanyan. There are no potentially corrupt countries, this theory is unacceptable.
It is said in the Transparency International statement that the unchanged level of corruption in countries with low incomes requires action from the international community.
According to Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle, despite some progress "corruption"s drain on resources available to alleviate poverty, disease and illiteracy remains profound.
©2004 Turquie Européenne
State Department Regular News Briefing - Congressional Quarterly
Speaker: State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom H. Casey Sept 27 2007
QUESTION: Fearing an imminent vote on the Armenian genocide resolution H.R. 106, Turkish multimillion dollar lobbyists here in Washington D.C., have solicited the assistance of former secretaries of state, namely James Baker, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and George Shultz, asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to, quote, "prevent the resolution from reaching the House," unquote.
Any comment? And clarify your position.
CASEY: The U.S. position on the events of the beginning of the last century are unchanged. You can look at our annual statements on that.
And I would refer you to that language; it's very specifically crafted, and I don't have it in my head right now, so I wouldn't want to mislead anybody.
In terms of what former secretary of states may or may not have done by way of action on this issue, I'd, frankly, refer you to them. They are private citizens. And I assume if they made representation to Speaker Pelosi on this, they did so because they believed it was the right thing to do.
QUESTION: And your position?
CASEY: U.S. position on this issue has not changed. Again, I'd refer you back to our previous statements on it.
OK. Thanks, guys.
The Letter Of Former Us Secretaries Of State
Ömer Engin Lütem 02 October 2007 ERAREN
The letter sent by eight former US Secretaries of State to Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of House of Representatives, last week, is a very significant development regarding House Resolution 106 submitted to the House on Armenian genocide allegations. Former Secretaries of State argued that the adoption of the aforementioned resolution would deteriorate the efforts of reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. What is more, such an adoption would tense Turkish-American relations and threaten American national interests including the security of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, they demanded from the Speaker not to present the resolution to voting.
Despite being left their posts, US Secretaries of States continue to be quite influential in creating public opinion. It is unusual that eight of them signed the same text and this means that there is an extremely serious situation. After that letter, members of the House of Representatives have to perceive the resolution differently and have to take into consideration that its adoption would damage US interests.
Examined thoroughly, it can be seen that some members of the House, who have previously supported Armenian allegations for years without any hesitation and diffidence, will continue their efforts for the adoption of the resolution, disregarding the possibility of deterioration of American interests. Another group, which is quite crowded and which receives donations or political support from Armenians, will also continue to support the resolution in an inactive way. However, it is thought that the combination of these two groups would not constitute the majority in the House. Former Secretaries of State did not demand rejection of the opposition, but they demanded that the resolution should not be voted, because they thought such a voting would create difficulties for most of the members. Unlike ours, in the American political system, Speakers of the House have significant competence on the agenda of the sessions. It is possible for them not to bring an issue that they perceived inappropriate to the agenda of the House. Actually, twice since 2000, resolutions adopted by relevant commissions and submitted to the General Assembly of the House had been refused to be presented to the agenda by former Speaker Dennis Hastert.
The actual difference between the former experience and current situation stems from the promise given by the new Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to her Armenian voters regarding her support to the resolution and the reaction of the Democratic majority in the House against the policies of Bush administration. However, the letter of former Secretaries of State challenges not only Nancy Pelosi, but also 225 members cosponsoring the resolution; because they would have to bear the responsibility of any disruption of the retreat of or logistical support to American soldiers in Iraq in case of the closure or limitation of usage of Incirlik air base as a reaction to this decision. Therefore, it is expected from the House not to vote the resolution as long as Turkish bases are needed for American soldiers in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), one of the most strongest Armenian lobbying institutions in the US, argued that the letter of former Secretaries of State was written as a result of the efforts of lobbying institutions. However, none of these institutions have the power to gather such influential people. These people could only engage in such an initiative in case of an inspiration from White House. Indeed, the issues stipulated in the letter are almost the same with the letter sent by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tom Lantos, Chairman of House Foreign Relations Committee, in last May, on the resolution.
Finally, it should be mentioned that this letter resulted in a deep disappointment in Armenia. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi, in which he disagreed the argument that, if adopted, the resolution would hamper reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia. Furthermore, he wrote that Turkey has presented some preconditions for normalization of bilateral relations. In fact, Turkey linked normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations to the Armenian recognition of Turkish territorial integrity and the redolution of Karabagh problem, since normalization of relations with a country that has not recognized territorial integrity of Turkey would mean to accept pursuance of territorial demands. Opening borders without any resolution of Karabagh question would challenge the position of Azerbaijan, which seek to recover its own territories from Armenian occupation.
Oskanyan also argued in his letter that Turkish proposal for the establishment of a commission to examine historical events was not serious, since Turkish members of the Commission would have been subject to prosecution, if they had declared their opinions freely (meaning, if they accept the genocide allegations). What he referred is the Artical 301 of the Turkish Penal code, which has been criticized particularly in the EU circles. However, this article is not a part of Turkish-Armenian problems. It is seen that the Armenian Foreign Minister sometimes confuses foreign policy with propaganda.
Gül To Deal With Familiar Foreign Policy Issues In Strasbourg
During his first international public appearance in Strasbourg, President Abdullah Gül is expected to deal today with key issues of Turkish foreign policy such as the Cyprus issue and Armenian allegations of a so-called genocide -- issues on which he worked during his term as foreign minister.
Gül, who arrived in Strasbourg on Tuesday, is accompanied by his spouse, Hayrünnisa Gül, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek and Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin. On the first day of his visit, the president took some time to meet with the Turkish community in France, speaking with their representatives in Strasbourg, home to approximately 35,000 Turks.
Today, after delivering a speech in which he is expected to underline Turkey's commitment to reform and reaching European standards, Gül will respond to questions from Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) members. Both the Armenian and the Greek Cypriot members of the assembly have planned to address questions to Turkey's president concerning Ankara's policies on the Cyprus issue and Armenian allegations of genocide. Turkish Cypriot deputies who have been attending PACE sessions as "representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community" since early 2005 will also direct questions to Gül, who last month paid his first visit abroad to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) in a show of support for the Turkish Cypriots. The controversy over the ecumenical title of the Istanbul based-Greek Orthodox patriarch, not recognized by Ankara, is also likely to be another subject to be brought to the agenda by PACE members. Gül and PACE President Rene van der Linden, who on Monday expressed confidence in Gül's representative ability, will hold a joint press conference by noon before moving on to a luncheon hosted by PACE in honor of Turkey's president.
Later in the day Gül will have talks with Thomas Hammarberg, PACE commissioner for human rights, and Yavuz Mildon, a Turkish citizen heading the Chamber of Regions of the Congress at PACE since 2004.
While in Strasbourg, Gül will bring to mind promises made by PACE over three years ago for putting an end to the Turkish Cypriots' international isolation. His visit to the office of the Turkish Cypriot deputies at PACE will also offer him a chance to urge the international community once more to keep their promises to ease the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. Meanwhile, Terry Davis, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, on Tuesday described certain remarks by Gül concerning the divided island of Cyprus as "unfortunate."
During his visit to the KKTC, Gül said that acceptance of the realities on the island -- namely the existence of two states, two peoples and two religions -- should be the basis of efforts to find a solution on the island. "I think the reference to two religions was unfortunate," Davis briefly said, when reminded by a Greek Cypriot journalist at a press conference of Gül's statement.
EMINE KART STRASBOURG
Oskanian Sends Letter To Pelosi In Response To US Statesmen
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has sent a letter to US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, reacting to an earlier letter addressed to her by eight former secretaries of state that said a resolution calling on the US administration to recognize Armenian claims of genocide would harm US interests and disrupt Turkish-Armenian reconciliation prospects.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian
"It is with dismay that I read that the letter claims that such a resolution would hurt Armenia-Turkey relations. It is quite unfortunate that eight experienced diplomats would buy into Turkish manipulation," Oskanian said in his letter dated Sept. 27, according to a statement from the Armenian Foreign Ministry e-mailed to Today's Zaman yesterday. "I regret to say that there is no process in place to promote normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey. Expressing concern about damaging a process that doesn't exist is, at the very least, disingenuous."
The letter from US diplomats was signed by Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Henry A. Kissinger, Colin L. Powell and George P. Shultz. They called on Pelosi, who is known to be an advocate of the resolution, to block the vote on it.
Turkey categorically rejects Armenian claims of genocide, saying that Turks as well as Armenians died during the World War I years when Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army in the hope of creating an Armenian state in part of eastern Anatolia.
Today's Zaman Istanbul
Armenian Lobby Slams Oomen-Ruijten For Excluding ‘Genocide’
While making clear their satisfaction over the barring of a Dutch candidate for the European Parliament, the Armenian lobby is now calling on another Dutch member of the European Parliament, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, who is currently drafting a resolution on Turkey, to heed the lesson of the Turkish candidate.
In a written statement from the European Armenian Federation, the Dutch Christian Democrats (CDA) were congratulated for their “principled stance” on the Armenian “genocide” in light of their first retraction of candidate Ayhan Tonca, after he refused to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 as genocide.
While praising the CDA’s decision on both the retractions of Tonca and Osman Elmaci, the second CDA candidate for membership in the European Parliament, the federation accused another Dutch Christian Democrat, Oomen-Ruijten, of evading the Armenian question in her resolution on Turkey, which will be discussed today at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament . The Armenian lobby called on the CDA to follow the same principle d line in Oomen-Ruijten’s case, as well as implying that she should be barred from office if she does not refer to “genocide” in her resolution.
“We call on the CDA party to treat Mrs. Oomen-Ruijten’s case with the same moral demands it made with Mr. Elmaci, i.e., by charging her to comply with her own party line against any form of denial,” said Laurent Leylekian, executive director of the European Armenian Federation.
Elmaci was ousted from the party list in the general elections of November 2006 after he rejected pressure to characterize the 1915 events as genocide. Elmaci ran in the European Parliament election in 2004 and received 13,749 preferential votes. After the resignation of Joop Post and the refusal of the seat by Barto Pronk, it was thought to be Elmaci’s turn to have a place on the European Parliament. However, as revealed on Elmaci’s Web site, apparently the CDA again pressured Elmaci to accept the 1915 events as genocide, which he refused to do, and consequently was removed from the European Parliament list. The first member of Turkish origin, Dutch State Secretary Nebahat Albayrak, was only elected after she recognized the Armenian killings as genocide.
Armenian lobbies will host a two-day conference at the European Parliament on Oct. 15 and 16 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of recognition of the 1915 Armenian killings as genocide by the European Parliament in 1987. Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian is expected to attend the conference together with many members of the European Parliament.
Selçuk Gültasli Brussels
How To Close The Armenian Dossier With A Win-Win Formula
by MEHMET ÖGÜTÇÜ*
It was worth every second we spent last weekend at Oxford University’s Egrove Park meeting halls discussing the Caucasus/Caspian Commission’s findings and recommendations, which will be released in London on Nov. 11-12 to the attention of the EU and leaders of the region.
This March 29, 2007 file photo shows the historic Akhtamar Church, restored by the Turkish government, has become a modern symbol of efforts to reconcile relations between Turks and Armenians.
The two-day deliberations were kicked off by an eloquent overview, from Britain’s Special representative to the Caucasus, of the current challenges faced in the colorful mosaic of countries in the region. We were among speakers from the EU and government, media and civil society representatives from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia to contribute our share to the final version of the commission report. Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Reha Denemeç and Union of Chambers and Commodities Exchanges (TOBB) University Chair of International Relations Professor Mustafa Aydin (who also doubles as the deputy chairman of the Caucasus Commission, assisted by the London Information Network on Conflicts and State-building’s (LINKS) Dennis Sammut) both gave an impressive performance to duly reflect the Turkish perspective in the discussions and the draft report.
Leaving aside for the time being the lengthy discussions on how to resolve the long-standing Caucasian disputes in Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh, let me focus in this op-ed on a currently “hot” topic that we tackled during an informal Turkish-Armenian dialogue session with some influential Armenian counterparts. I will avoid naming them without permission due to Chatham House rules. Their views are summed up in italics and my personal responses in brackets below:
• Turkey should immediately establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, open the border gates and lift the embargo imposed on Armenia. It does not help at all to establish a direct connection between these moves expected of Ankara and our efforts to win recognition of the Armenian genocide by the US Congress and other countries’ parliaments. There have been many initiatives in the past for reconciliation through media, businessmen, civil society organizations, academics, secret meetings behind closed doors and foreign mediators -- yet none of them have failed to yield any fruitful results. To our mind, an unconditional government-to-government dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan is a must, and we should create such a mechanism without delay for a genuine dialogue to take place. This is the number one priority.
[I could not agree more. You are absolutely right to call for a direct dialogue mechanism; however, it is not the number one priority for Turkey as it is for Armenia. From your urgency to act on these measures, it is clear that they are working to provide Turkey with effective leverage. Once the underlying reasons that have led Turkey to take these steps are removed from the agenda, such a mechanism can be immediately established. As you are well aware, the reasons that remain are, inter alia: the continuing illegal Armenian occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the existence of Russian military bases in Armenia’s territory that target Turkey and the refusal of the Armenian state to officially recognize the current borders with Turkey. Without serious progress in the foregoing disputes to inspire Armenia’s good faith vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkey, it will be too optimistic to expect that Turkey can move in the direction desired by Yerevan as if all is fine in our relationship.]
• Turkey’s failure to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Armenia and persistent threats to use military force have pushed Armenia to the arms of Russia and Iran for security and support. Given our limited leverage over Turkey’s policies, we tend to put pressure on Ankara by way of our strategic connections with the US, the EU, Russia and Iran -- this is done in large measure through the lobbying power of the Armenian diaspora. This is not to say that everything will be fine after proper diplomatic relations are established between our two countries, but you will agree that at least both countries could gain better insight into their respective positions and develop creative solutions than what they could achieve otherwise through indirect contacts. Moreover, direct dialogue with Armenia will likely enhance Ankara’s ability to serve as a mediator to resolve the disputes with Azerbaijan and dominate the dialogue process owing to its obvious economic, military and diplomatic might.
[It goes without saying that Ankara too is not content with the stalemate in the current situation. We do not want the Armenian question to top our national and international agenda as it impairs Turkey becoming an effective regional power and opens Turkey to the whims of international pressure from different quarters. It is also true that creating opportunities for cross-border trade, investment and other exchanges with Armenia will generate much good for Kars, Agri and Erzurum. However, the greatest benefits from such a rapprochement will undoubtedly flow to Armenia, a land-locked nation suffering from serious economic and social hardship.
[Also, let us not forget that an increasingly wealthy and influential Azerbaijan may decide to resort to military options -- once it feels all other means are exhausted and it is sufficiently equipped to do so in the not too distant future -- to resolve the disputes with Armenia and liberate its occupied territories. Its vast oil and natural gas resources could make this financially possible. Then, Armenia may find itself in a situation much worse than today. Of course, for this to happen, Georgia should be able to prevent Russia from directly supporting Armenia. Iran should also be neutralized by using the influence of the 25 to 30 million Iranians of Azeri origin. Under such a scenario, Turkey’s policy will be decisive.
[Hence, we all share a common interest in promoting stability, security and prosperity in the Caucasus, avoiding any resort to military means which will plunge the region into deeper chaos. The prerequisite is for Yerevan to take the initial steps in good faith. No doubt, these steps should be discussed and negotiated first and transformed into a concrete formula to achieve a “win-win” formula for all sides so that our respective publics can stomach, without loss of face, what will be agreed upon at the governmental level.]
• This time it seems that the Armenian genocide resolution is set to be adopted by the US Congress. And you are aware that the implications of such a resolution for Turkey will be more wide-ranging and serious than the earlier resolutions adopted by the Brazilian, Polish and other parliaments. If the adoption of this bill is not prevented and Turkey continues with its current intransigence, you should expect Armenia and our diaspora to come up with new demands. In a nutshell, Ankara’s early move to diplomatically recognize Armenia, open the borders and lift the embargo could well contribute to the shelving of this US resolution and the creation of a conducive environment for dialogue on other issues.
[I am afraid that such tactics will only backfire. Ankara cannot act naively on the assumption of what you state. The Armenian “genocide” bill has long been deployed as a means of pressure on Turkey. Even though the adoption of such a resolution was somehow able to be prevented this year, we know that it will re-emerge on the agenda next year and beyond to extract further concessions. Therefore, the goal should not be to save the day; it should be to achieve true historical reconciliation and peace for both the current and future generations in our region. The only thing that keeps the diaspora bonded is its tireless efforts to get international recognition of the Armenian “genocide” and push forward the next steps associated with such recognition. For this reason, I personally do not believe the diaspora will abandon its current approach. The Armenian diaspora does not have any intention of leaving Chicago, Marseilles or Beirut to return to their homeland. They often pursue comfortable lives in their countries of residence. The new generation diaspora does not have any organic links with today’s Armenia, which suffers severe conditions and has to deal with the repercussions of their policies.
[True, Turkey has failed in its policies to distinguish between Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. Our geography makes us dependent on each other. The degree of dependency is much higher for Armenia than vice versa. Turks have serious concerns on what will follow the recognition of the “genocide” claims, as most diaspora representatives give ample evidence of a “salami tactic” ploy pursued against Turkey. Any move on your part to make future intentions crystal-clear will no doubt contribute to the enhancement of mutual trust and make us believe in your good faith. This will certainly be reciprocated. One thing which our Armenian friends should have learned by now is that Turkey will never shy away from defending its national interests and pride under any international pressure. To the contrary, such pressure will only solidify its determination.]
• Genocide is a reality. We will not allow this reality to be diluted by Turks who ask for the convening of another independent commission of historians. We agree that both sides should empathize with each other. You should understand the trauma of the generations of Armenians. In turn, if I put myself in the shoes of a new generation Turk, I would not, of course, have wanted to be labeled as a descendant of a nation that committed genocide against another people. We recognize the gravity of accepting this fact. In fact, you should know that there is no consensus in Armenia on this matter. Hence, bilateral negotiations could be held following an official apology from Ankara for what happened during the Ottoman era to determine the next steps. For instance, these steps could include, for example, the mutual recognition of the existing borders under international law, halting the campaign for international recognition of the genocide, guaranteeing a transport corridor that will provide Armenia with access to the sea through Trabzon and the like.
[Both sides have their own version of the “reality.” The priority must be to approximate these different “realities” so that we speak more or less the same language. In this context, scientific findings by an independent commission, not the politically motivated parliamentary decisions, should guide us into this new era. The “facts” you are referring to are the “facts” established mostly unilaterally without much reference to the body of vast documentation in Ottoman, Russian and German archives. Furthermore, the Armenian accusations go beyond the realm of the Ottoman leaders; they also implicate the founding fathers of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey is party to the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. If one of the parties holds that another party misinterprets the convention and fails to comply with its provisions, it has the right to take the case to the International Court of Justice under Article IX of the convention The crime of genocide could therefore be ascertained by the decision of a competent court. I doubt that the diaspora will heed any advice given by Yerevan. It so often happens that the diaspora dictates the policies of Yerevan, particularly on this matter.
[If a true reconciliation is sought, we should also be respectful of the memories of the hundreds of thousands of Turks and Muslims massacred during these unfortunate events in Anatolia. I will not forget the tens of Turkish diplomats gunned down by Armenian terrorists since the 1970s just because they were Turks. Added to this are the most recent indiscriminate Hodjali massacres of Azeris by Armenian groups. My humble suggestion is to erect a gigantic monument on Mt. Agri, visible on both sides of the border, in memory of all people massacred ruthlessly. It should be designed by a group of Turkish and Armenian architects. Also, equally important as engaging in give-and-take diplomacy on the governmental level is an effective, realistic and balanced communication strategy targeting our peoples for increasing the chances of any reconciliation accepted by them for the purposes of learning from bitter historical lessons and looking with confidence to the future of our new generations.]
The Armenian “question” is at a critical crossroad today. The opportunity has presented itself to close this dossier and re-launch our relations with new vigor. Or, alternatively, we will continue enveloping ourselves in the darkness of controversial history and plant further seeds of hatred and animosity for long years to come. The choice is ours: Both parties should minimize the impact of third parties -- Azerbaijan for Turkey, and Russia, Iran and the diaspora for Armenia -- and agree on a solid, mutually agreed upon roadmap to achieve real progress. Otherwise, this process of flaming hostility will unfortunately become irreversible and cause both sides to suffer serious losses.
Working for a political rather than a military solution (on which Azerbaijan may so decide) is a choice that Ankara prefers. The unwarranted intervention by outside powers will turn the already turbulent region into a powder keg. For this reason, we must carefully and with a forward-looking approach brainstorm how we can bridge the vast gap that exists between our positions and perceptions of “reality” and put a stop to the mutual accusations and inflammatory discourse. While doing so, we should continue building informal cultural, commercial and transport links as well as civil society activities already under way to inspire confidence and trust between these two great nations for the eventual goal of achieving historic and lasting reconciliation.
* Mehmet Ögütçü, a former Turkish diplomat, is an OECD executive currently living in London and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 03.10.2007
Nicole Pope email@example.com
I had a feeling of déjà vu on Monday morning as a small crowd of reporters, well-wishers, human rights activists and foreign observers, hoping and doubting in equal measure that a fair outcome would be reached, gathered in front of the criminal court in Besiktas for the second hearing of the Hrant Dink murder trial. Claudia Roth, a German Green Party politician who has been a steadfast supporter of a democratic Turkey in Europe, as well as a staunch critic of human rights violations, was there hoping justice would be done. In a Turkey that is moving toward more democracy, the murder in January of Turkish-Armenian Hrant Dink and the information that has subsequently emerged about the people involved in his assassination were flashbacks to a different period, unwelcome trips down the dark alleys of the country’s past.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, trials at the State Security Court building in Besiktas were often politically charged occasions. Journalists and intellectuals charged with expressing dissenting views would hurriedly be escorted into the building while a heavy police force was deployed around the area.
Fast forward 10 or 15 years and the State Security Courts have been abolished. The Besiktas building now houses a criminal court and, this time, the men on trial are accused of murdering an intellectual, who was himself the target of court attention.
But while Turkey is changing, elements from the past cling on. The trial of Hrant Dink’s suspected murderers could be a cathartic moment for the country, a chance to shine the light on shadowy forces and demonstrate that they will no longer be tolerated.
But a persistent fog has surrounded the investigation. Lawyers for the Dink family complain of a cover-up, and many believe the defendants are part of a much wider conspiracy which extends into the state system. Evidence against the suspects has gone missing, security tapes never emerged and telephone conversations between defendants and security officials are still unexplained.
On trial as much as the defendants is the infamous Article 301, used to prosecute Dink and several other outspoken intellectuals, thus making them targets in the eyes of nationalist radicals.
The government is pouring all its energy into the new constitution project and has shown little willingness to give priority to Article 301, which stands as a sharp reminder of a less tolerant Turkey. Some politicians argue that the problem lies not with the law itself but with its interpretation by members of the judiciary. Relying on judges to be more broad-minded ignores the fact that a narrow understanding of freedom of expression also permeates other areas of the state system. Photographs of members of the security forces posing proudly next to the young gunman who shot Dink showed this mentality still runs deep.
The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) election victory in July opened a unique window of opportunity for the government to pursue its reforms and give renewed momentum to the EU accession process. But this drive cannot be sustained forever, and the clock is ticking loudly. As Parliament reopens 70 days after the elections, Dink’s untimely death remains a gaping wound in Turkish society which, if left to fester, could infect the AKP government’s reform process. Article 301 needs to be abolished or at least amended, not because the EU demands it but because Turkey needs it to achieve inner peace and move forward.
Vartan Oskanian's Letter To House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
ArmRadio - Public Radio, Armenia
Oct 1 2007
Vartan Oskanian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, sent a letter to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, in response to the letter of eight former Secretaries of State in opposition to H. Res. 106.
Minister Oskanian's letter says:
"Dear Speaker Pelosi,
I have refrained from intruding into the process that has brought US HR 106 to its current stage in the congressional process. I have done so because I believe that the content and the intent of the resolution are a matter for US Representatives and their constituents. For us, there is nothing there that is historically inaccurate, nor that threatens the interests of any country.
Nevertheless, we have refrained from public expressions.
The recent letter from eight Secretaries of State addressed to you, Madame Speaker, introduces an important change in the nature of the discussion. That letter clearly addresses processes that directly affect the Republic of Armenia, and therefore, I would take this opportunity to share my concerns and thoughts.
It is with dismay that I read that the letter claims that such a resolution would hurt Armenia-Turkey relations. It is quite unfortunate that eight experienced diplomats would buy into Turkish manipulation. I regret to say that there is no process in place to promote normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey.
Expressing concern about damaging a process that doesn't exist is at the very least, disingenuous.
Let me go further. Not only is there no process, I can honestly tell you that we have no hope that Turkey will seriously engage with the expectation of achieving minimal normal relations as an outcome. My pessimism is based on the fact that each time we agree to a meeting, the simple fact of the meeting is used by Turkey to derail other processes in the US or around the world in other bodies. Yet the meeting itself does not open any new doors, does not have a commensurate follow-up, and other than meeting-for-meeting's sake, there is no progress. That is frustrating for us, but appears to be inconsequential for Turkey's leadership.
This time, too, we agreed to a meeting between myself and the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan, in New York, cognizant of our responsibility to use every opportunity to improve relations. Before that meeting has even been held, there are claims that somehow that still-unheld meeting is part of a process that might be endangered.
Madame Speaker, Armenia has always been ready for normal Turkey-Armenia relations. Yet, every initiative that would lead toward normalization has been rejected by Turkey. Instead, it continues to place pre-conditions. Turkey makes offers that are simply invitations for open-ended talk, without serious commitment to arriving at ordinary relations between neighbors. Even their call for a historical commission to discuss painful, historic events is not serious, given their prohibitive penal consequences for open speech and discussion and the adversarial environment Turkey has created by maintaining closed borders with Armenia.
To view acknowledgement of the truth as an obstacle to political relations is cynical. A resolution that addresses matters of human rights and genocide cannot damage anyone's bilateral relations -neither yours with Turkey, nor ours. I would urge you and your colleagues, as well as the former secretaries of state, to acknowledge that the same concern for geostrategic interests should move us all to do everything possible to open these borders, and not to reward intransigence."
Sen. Menendez: If Bush Doesn’t Recognize Armenia Genocide, Then The Next President Will
02.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ Recognizing his principled stand on the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian National Committee of America (Western Region) honored Sen. Robert Menendez as Man of the Year during the ANCA’s annual banquet on Sept. 30, 2007 in Los Angeles.
In an exclusive interview with Harut Sassounian, California Courier, Sen. Menendez said he had become aware of the Armenian Genocide many years ago as a member of the House of Representatives. The Senator stated that he had learned of the Hoagland controversy from ANCA and publications on this issue.
In his remarks at the ANCA banquet, Sen. Menendez said that the next nominee as Ambassador to Armenia should be able to answer the following question: "Do you agree that there was an Armenian Genocide?" He clearly implied that a "no" answer would subject him or her to the same fate as Amb. Hoagland.
Sen. Menendez ended his remarks by urging Pres. Bush to change his policy and acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. If he won’t, then the next President will, said the Senator to thunderous applause.
On August 3, following a year of Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) led Armenian American community opposition to the controversial appointment of an Armenian Genocide denier as U.S. envoy to Yerevan, the White House announced the withdrawal of the nomination of Richard Hoagland as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.
The appointment was twice blocked by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). A genocide denier must never represent the U.S. in Armenia, according to him.
Osman Elmaci Deprived Of Seat In European Parliament Over Armenian Genocide Denial
02.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Christian-Democrat party in the Netherlands, the CDA (Christian Democrat Appel), has announced that Mr. Osman Elmaci has been turned down from having a seat in the European Parliament due to his attitude toward and his remarks denying the Armenian Genocide.
The European Armenian Federation reported that Mr. Elmaci, who had already been ousted from the last legislative elections for the same reasons, was the number three person behind the current MEP Joop Post, who has resigned. He was to become a Member of the European Parliament after the withdrawal of Mr. Bartho Pronk’s candidacy. CDA leaders, already having a past record of principled stance against genocide denial, vetoed this possibility. Mr. Post will finally be replaced by Mr. Cornelis Visseur.
"We congratulate the CDA party for this courageous and visionary political decision. Denial – under the pretext of ‘freedom of expression’ – can only serve to perpetuate the racial hatred from which it derives,” declared Laurent Leylekian, Executive Director of the European Armenian Federation.
Recognition Of Armenian Genocide By Bulgaria Is An Issue Of Time
02.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ Recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Bulgaria is an issue of time, the RA Ambassador to Bulgaria, Sergei Manasarian told a news conference in Yerevan.
The draft bill introduced in the Bulgarian parliament was blocked by a Turkish party which serves on the coalition government.
“The Armenian Genocide recognition is a painful issue for Bulgarian society saturated with ethnic Turks. However, the Turkish community never made anti-Armenian statements on April 24. There was once an article in a Turkish-language newspaper. But it did not attract attention,” Amb. Manasarian said.
Progress may be expected after the parliamentary and presidential elections in Bulgaria, according to him.
May 12, 2006 the Bulgarian parliament voted down a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
At that time “Attack” nationalist party called on the parliament to proclaim April 24 the day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide victims.
The parliamentarians, however, said that “passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution will lead to tensions in the Bulgaria-Turkey relations and cause a split in the coalition government formed by three parties, including the party of Turkish minority.”
H.Res.106 To Be Considered By U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee October 10
02.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to mark up the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106) on Wednesday, October 10, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). Committee discussion and adoption of the resolution will set the stage for subsequent full House consideration of the key human rights measure.
Introduced on January 30th by Rep. Adam Schiff along with Representative George Radanovich (R-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), the Armenian Genocide resolution calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide. The resolution is cosponsored by 226 Members of Congress from 39 states. A similar resolution in the Senate (S.Res.106), introduced by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) currently has 31 cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
UN Human Rights Council Approves Armenia Decision On Prevention Of Genocide
01.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ On 28 September the UN Human Rights Council approved the Armenia decision on the prevention of genocide.
The decision followed the policy of genocide prevention Armenia promotes in the UN.
Prevention of mass violations of rights of national, racial and ethnic groups is a component of prevention of their extermination and crimes against humanity, including genocide.
The decision is one more step toward coordination of efforts for genocide prevention. Co-sponsorship of 62 states proves its political necessity.
Armenia, Belgium, Mexico and Senegal also passed a resolution on regional human rights organizations. The resolution supposes practical steps on cooperation and exchange of experience.
It’s notable that human rights advocates from Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa will for the first time gather under the aegis of the UN. Armenia is represented as a member of the CoE and OSCE, the RA MFA press office reports.
Armenian Genocide: AAA Indignant About ‘Ill-Conceived Letter By Former Secretaries Of State’
01.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Assembly of America sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the ill-conceived address by eight former Secretaries of State in opposition to H. Res. 106, calling it "inconsistent with the fundamentally tenets of American values," and asked how many more excuses they could conjure up to avoid the truth. The Assembly letter also pointed out key facts that the former Secretaries failed to discuss, including Turkey’s refusal to allow the U.S. access to northern front at a critical stage in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a refusal which cost American lives. The letter concluded as follows: "Enough is enough. No more lies. No more deceit. No more denial. By preventing a vote, you not only impede the democratic process and do a great disservice to the 226 cosponsors and the millions of Americans that support this resolution, but also unwittingly encourage a campaign of denial. Is this the message we want to teach future generations - it is permissible to deny genocide."
"The Armenian Assembly will continue to push for a concluding affirmative vote on H. Res. 106 and urges the community to call upon their Member of Congress to support the resolution today," said Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "We must not allow Turkish deniers and whomever they line up to endorse their deceptions to succeed in their attempt to derail affirmation of the Armenian Genocide," said Ardouny.
In their September 25th jointly-signed letter, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, James Baker III, Warren Christopher, Laurence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Jr., Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and George Schultz, urged Speaker Pelosi to, "prevent the resolution from reaching the House Floor," thereby denying House Members an opportunity to vote their conscience on the Armenian Genocide. The former State Department officials expressed concern that passage of the resolution "could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey."
PM Erdogan Criticizes Aims Of Armenian Diaspora In US
Speaking to members of the US-based Turkish Society on the last day his US visit, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the ongoing debate over the so-called Armenian genocide, noting that the events of 1915 should be left to historians to discuss.
Addressing an audience of Turkish Society representatives and others, PM Erdogan referred to a recent visit made by the spiritual leader of the Armenians in Turkey, Patriarch Mesrob II, noting "Look, they didn't even want Armenian Patriarch Mutafian to speak here. Why didn't they want him to speak? Because the Armenians who live amongst us in Turkey, our Armenian citizens, have no complaints. I have Armenian citizens in my own party.....There is an (Armenian) diaspora here, I am speaking openly now, they are after their own interests, and pursuing these claims to see how they can benefit."
Prime Minister also used his address to call on Turkish citizens living in the US to become US citizens, noting that this would help improve relations between the two countries.
© Copyright 2006 Hürriyet
Lebanon The Only Arabian State That Recognized Armenian Genocide
01.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ “The Azerbaijani lobbyists in Arab states are attempting to represent the Nagorno Karabakh conflict as a collision between Christians and Muslims. This anti-Armenian campaign is a menace for us,” RA Ambassador to Lebanon Vahan Ter-Ghevondyan told a news conference in Yerevan.
Armenia devotes little attention to the Arab world, according to him.
“Baku is winning the information war and this can have a negative impact on Armenia’s relations with the Arab world. The opinion of over a billion people following Islam cannot be neglected. Disappearance of Armenian communities in the states surrounding Armenia is inadmissible,” the Armenian diplomat underlined.
He also reminded that Lebanon is the only Arab state that recognized the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
by Alon Liel The Jerusalem Report October 15, 2007
Diplomacy sometimes resembles physics. Even the hardest materials can only stand a given amount of pressure and the same is true of bilateral relations. The Israeli-Turkish bond, so meaningful and stable during the 1990s, is now under severe pressure, and if things are not quickly reversed, we could soon see some serious cracks.
Although the two countries had cooperated secretly on intelligence issues since the late 1950s, the 1990s were unprecedented in Israeli-Turkish relations, due mainly to the progress in Israel's acceptance in the Middle East. The 1991 Madrid peace conference led to the upgrading of ties to ambassadorial level.
The 1993 Israeli-Palestinian declaration of principles completely broke the ice between Ankara and Jerusalem, generating high-level visits and a series of military and economic agreements. In early 1996, the two countries signed a free trade agreement that was followed by a decision to grant Israel a contract to upgrade 170 Turkish army tanks. The 1990s also witnessed a constant growth in the volume of Israeli tourism to Turkey, and a meaningful increase in bilateral trade. After the horrific earthquake in the Istanbul region in August 1999, Israel was quick to provide massive and effective help. By the end of the 1990s, Turkish public sympathy towards Israel was at an all-time high. That this should be the case in a powerful Muslim state was a major regional coup.
The first decade of the 21st century, however, has been very different. The deterioration of ties with Israel started with then-education minister Yossi Sarid promising in April 2000 to teach Israeli children about the genocide allegedly committed by the Turks against the Armenians during the First World War, a highly inflammatory and sensitive issue in Turkey. Soon afterwards, the second Palestinian intifada broke out, and the high Palestinian death toll roused anti-Israeli feelings throughout the Muslim world.
At the height of the intifada, in November 2002 an Islamist leader, Recep Tayip Erdogan, won an overwhelming victory in Turkish elections. Eighteen months later, outraged at the Israeli assassination of two senior Hamas leaders, Ahmad Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi in March and April 2004, Prime Minister Erdogan started describing Israeli policy towards the Palestinians as "state terrorism." Things continued to go wrong. During 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected an offer from Erdogan to mediate between Israel and Syria. A Turkish proposal to sell water to Israel was scuttled by the Treasury, and large water projects granted to Israeli companies in southeast Turkey collapsed. The years 2005-6 saw repeated media stories about Israeli companies granting military assistance to the Kurds in northern Iraq, much to the annoyance of the authorities in Ankara, troubled by the demands of their own Kurdish minority.
During July and August this year, things went from bad to worse. This period was dominated by tension between Ankara and major Jewish organizations in the United States, which decided to change their attitude towards the Armenian tragedy, defining it, for the first time, as "genocide," and thereby triggering Turkish protests to Jerusalem, misguidedly seen as somehow responsible for the Jewish organizations' conduct.
All these new tensions came to a head on the night between September 5th and 6th, when Israeli warplanes allegedly attacked Syria, Turkey's friendly neighbor, in unexplained circumstances. On their way back, according to the Turks, the Israeli aircraft violated Turkish airspace without notification or explanation. The new Turkish Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, described the Israeli attack as "unacceptable" and one of his senior diplomats euphemistically labeled Israel's subsequent conduct as "unprofessional." It seemed as if Israel had forgotten that its ties with Turkey are based on a close military bond, and that compromising that special link could be extremely counterproductive.
If the attack on Syria had a convincing explanation - media reports have said it was against a plant making nuclear devices with North Korean input - why did Israel's best friend in the Middle East not receive a good, real-time briefing on it? Israel needs to change its mindset on Turkey. It must come to terms with the fact that since July 2007, with the election of Abdullah Gul as president, the Islamist "Justice and Development" party is in total control of the Turkish political scene. Turkey's ties with the Islamic world are constantly improving and all Israel needs to do to lose its special status in Ankara is to supply the pretext.
Will the reported attack on Syria provide the excuse? In order to prevent this from happening, Israel must make a special effort to regain Ankara's confidence. Losing Turkey's friendship could have devastating regional implications for Israel and possibly even for the U.S., which seems likely to further insult the Turks by not inviting them to the planned Middle East peace conference in the fall. American and Israeli statesmen need to focus not only on how to punish Iran and Syria for their misdeeds, but also on how to avoid losing Turkey, which has been one of the West's staunchest allies since World War II.
Dr. Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director general, served as Israel's charge d'affaires in Turkey during the 1980s.
EU Special Representative For South Caucasus: Formation Of New Turkish Government Creates Favorable Prospects For Improvement Of Yerevan-Ankara Relations
ArmInfo News Agency, Armenia Sept 28 2007
ArmInfo. It is very difficult to predict how the Yerevan-Ankara relations will develop after the Turkish government is changed, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby told ArmInfo correspondent.
"I do hope that with the new government in Turkey with a very strong political mandate there will be possibilities to open the bilateral relationships," P.Semneby said. He added that this will require political decisions of both Turkish and Armenian sides, but one should assess the fundamental changes in Turkey from the viewpoint of a favorable prospect for improvement of Armenia-Turkey relations.
"Both Armenia and Turkey are important partners for EU, we have good relations with both," he noted. He thinks that this fact should be considered in the context of EU's possible impact on establishment of the Armenian-Turkish political dialogue. P.Semneby expressed hope that the new Turkish government will give a new impetus to establishment of Yerevan-Ankara relations.
Matt Bryza Ready To Spend Energy On Karabakh Settlement And Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations
29.09.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ `Resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations will promote strengthening of relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey,' Mr Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, told NTV Turkish TV Channel.
`The U.S. will welcome the steps taken for improvement relations between Armenia and Turkey. It would be good if Ankara and Yerevan bring positions closer and establish normal economic and diplomatic relations,' Mr Bryza said.
`Moreover, elimination of the obstacles will allow to speed up Turkey's integration into Europe,' he said.
`However, being a Co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, settlement, I understand the complexity of the process,' he added.
A New Lobbying Style
Bulent Kenes firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK - Turkey has for decades had a serious image problem in the world. The Armenian diaspora’s claims about the alleged genocide being taken seriously in the international community and turning into an all-out campaign, and the wounds that were opened by the portrayal of Turks in films such as “Midnight Express” and “Lawrence of Arabia” and which remain unhealed, have once again shown how vital lobbying is. By spending myriad sums for years to meet this lobbying need, Turkey sought to give its own theses to its counterparts with the support of professional lobbyists and to respond to counter campaigns. It is well known that some professional lobbying companies such as the Livingston Group and DLA Piper have been serving Turkish aims in Washington for years in return for very large sums of money. At times, when it is forced through bottlenecks in the international arena, Turkey obligatorily seeks the support of groups that it sees as relatively friendly, such as the Jewish lobby. Of course, both the service provided by professional lobbyists in return for a payment and the support given by Jewish groups in return for support of certain interests fall short of countering the Greek and Armenian campaigns or the lobbying activities of the pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Kurdish diaspora. For this reason both the American and European publics always take contrary positions on the sensitive issues of Turkey, in which case we are supposed to be dumbstruck.
In recent years, Turkey has not disregarded efforts to make Turkish communities abroad take a more active role in lobbying activities. However, it is still impossible to say that these efforts, materially and spiritually supported by the state, are producing any noticeable results as of yet. In fact experience shows that the lobbying activities carried out by reliable independent civil society organizations are more effective and fruitful than state-supported lobbying activities.
Currently, the activities of a civil initiative, which have increased substantially in recent years and can be considered a type of lobbying, are drawing attention. A movement that has been developing relations with active segments in all corners of the world by always starting from the base has been trying to fulfill the mass lobbying mission that Turkey has needed for decades. Associations and foundations from the Gülen Movement, considered the smiling face of the Islamic world, have been carrying out lobbying activities, which could never be achieved otherwise, for hundreds of millions of dollars.
If we attempt to write just about the effective activities held during Ramadan, we would far exceed the limits of this column. The dialogue iftars given in Germany, Austria, Canada, Australia and many states in America have managed to bring together the Turkish communities with high-ranking officials of the respective countries or states.
Even enumerating the guests that attended the Second Friendship Dinner (iftar) held in New York by the Turkish Cultural Center on Friday night would be enough to show at what level such activities are held. Coming across organizations similar to the one that brought together Senator Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has almost become an ordinary thing.
During the years I worked in New York, I was surprised to find out that the annual Turkish Day Parade, held for the last 25 years by the Federation of Turkish-American Associations, had never been attended by either a New York mayor or any senator. Later, I attended a dinner organization by the Hudson Turkish-American Cultural Association (HUTACA) which operates at the local level in New Jersey, and I was surprised once again there -- this time to see the New Jersey senators, local administrators and police chiefs at the dinner. A young lawyer, Güvenç Kulen, maybe still in his twenties then, was at the head of HUTACA. However, Kulen, with his friends even younger than him, managed to unite the Turks and bring them together with the top administrative representatives of the region through various events.
Pondering the many associations in the United States similar to HUTACA, and the hundreds of them in the world, which carry out very influential lobbying activities and represent the real and lovely face of Turks, the Turkish culture and Islam, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “This is the lobbying that should be done.” The iftar dinner held by the Rumi Forum in Washington in the US Congress attended by many US deputies, the one attended by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plasnik in Vienna and all other events held, for instance, in Germay and Canada, which local administrators, officials and ministers can no longer approach indifferently, all point out that a new rising Turkish lobby is progressively becoming more and more prominent.
I applaud the services done to Turkey, the Islamic world and world peace by the Gülen Movement, which takes its power from its own values and turns this into a “soft power” that serves world peace all around the world on the grounds of dialogue, tolerance and mutual respect.
September 25, 2007
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-0508
Dear Madam Speaker:
We are writing to express concern that H. Res. 106 could soon be put to a vote. Passage of the resolution would harm our foreign policy objectives to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. It would also strain our relations with Turkey, and would endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We do not minimize or deny the enormous significance of the horrible tragedy suffered by ethnic Armenian from 1915 to 1923. During our tenures as Secretaries of the State, we each supported Presidential statements recognizing the mass killings and forced exile of Armenians. It has been longstanding U.S. policy to encourage reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and to urge the government of Turkey to acknowledge the tragedy. We understand the Administration continues to urge the Turkish government to reexamine its history and to encourage both Turkey and Armenia to work towards reconciliation, including normalizing relations and opening the border. There are some hopeful signs already that both parties are engaging each other. We believe that a public statement by the U.S. Congress at this juncture is likely to undermine what has been painstakingly achieved to date.
We must also recognize the important contributions Turkey is making to U.S. national security, including security and stability in the Middle East and Europe. The United States continues to rely on Turkey for its geo-strategic importance. Turkey is an indispensable partner to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping U.S military with access to Turkish airspace, military bases, and the border crossing with Iraq, Turkey is a linchpin in the transshipment of vital cargo and fuel resources to U.S. troops, coalition partners and Iraqi civilians. Turkish troops serve shoulder-to-shoulder with distinction with U.S. and other NATO allies in the Balkans. Turkey is also a transit hub for non-OPEC oil and gas and remains key to our effort s to help the Euro-Atlantic community bolster its energy security by providing alternative supply sources and routes around Russia and Iran.
It is our view that passage of this resolution could quickly extend beyond symbolic significance. The popularly elected Turkish Grand National Assembly might react strongly to a House resolution, as it did to a French National Assembly resolution a year ago. The result could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey. We strongly urge you to prevent the resolution from reaching the house floor.
Madeleine K. Albright
James A. Baker III
Lawrence S. Eagleburger
Alexander M. Haig, Jr
Henry A. Kissinger
Colin L. Powell
George P. Shultz"
Corruption Survey: No Improvement
Volume 73, No. 39, September 29, 2007
YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Endemic government corruption in Armenia has not decreased in the past year despite Armenian leaders’ assurances they are addressing the problem in earnest, according to an annual global survey released this month by Transparency International, a global NGO committed to fighting corruption.
The Berlin-based Transparency International again rated countries of the world on a 10-point scale, with zero indicating an extremely high degree of corruption as perceived by experts, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens.
Armenia and five other states ranked 99th out of 180 nations covered by the Index. It was assigned a score of 3.0, faring slightly worse than it did in the previous CPI released one year ago. The score is based on seven corruption-related surveys conducted in Armenia by other organizations, including the World Bank.
Armenia was again judged to be less corrupt that most other ex-Soviet states, including Russia and Azerbaijan. The latter occupies 150th in the rankings. By contrast, Armenia’s other former Soviet neighbor, Georgia, jumped to 79th place, having seen its CPI score rise from 2.9 to 3.4.
Armenia’s score was taken from a combination of six surveys carried out by experts from the Asian Development Bank, Bertelsmann Transitional Index, the World Bank, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Freedom House, the Global Insight, the International Union of Merchants and the World Economic Forum.
The survey focuses on corruption in the public sector and among politicians. The organization defines corruption as “the misuse of entrusted power for private gain.”
More than half of the 180 states that were examined received scores of three or less, which indicates that funds needed for education, medicine and infrastructure are being pocketed by politicians.
Amalia Kostanyan, head of Transparency’s Armenian affiliate, the Center for Regional Development, said the findings of the latest survey are further indication of a lack of progress in the Armenian government’s stated anti-corruption efforts. She said those efforts have proved ineffectual because of their heavy emphasis on legal amendments and what she called a lack of government commitment to rule of law.
Kostanyan argued that prosecution of senior government officials on corruption charges remain extremely rare. “Risks involved in corrupt practices remain very low,” she said.
The government claims to have successfully implemented a three-year plan of actions aimed at tackling bribery and other corrupt practices. However, there is little evidence that the set of mainly legislative measures, unveiled in late 2003, has had a major impact on the situation on the ground.
Earlier this year, Kostanyan resigned from a government body monitoring the program’s implementation in protest against its perceived inactivity. The resignation followed the publication of a CRD opinion poll, which found that nearly two-thirds of Armenians believe that corruption has increased in recent years.
In a Dec. 2006 interview with RFE/RL, the late Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan admitted that his government’s anti-corruption drive has not been “as effective as we hoped.” He said Yerevan would ask Western donors to help it draw up a new strategy that “ascertain[s] mechanisms for putting the [anti-graft] legislative framework into practice.” It is not clear if his successor, Serge Sargsyan, intends to do that.
The Thorny Path To Restored Strategic Ties With The US
28 September 2007
Turkish Daily News
Last week we dealt with the visit to Ankara by Ambassador Nicholas Burns, United States Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, who told the Atlantic Council before he arrived in Turkey that the “two countries now had a chance to restore a sense of strategic partnership in U.S. - Turkish relations.” We also indicated that Burns' remarks were very much in line with the mood in official circles in Ankara where there is also a growing awareness of the need to do precisely that. We nevertheless referred to the “Damocles' Sword” that the Armenian genocide resolution waiting in the U.S. Congress represented for these relations.
This threat of course remains, and judging by what is emanating from Washington, it should not take too long for us to find out how the situation relating to this resolution plays out.
What we did not mention last week, not due to an oversight, but in order to deal with it this matter this week,” was the issue of the major “thorn in the side” of Turkish-U.S. relations that the Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) presence in northern Iraq has come to represent.
Remarks by the Commander of Land Forces (and Chief of the General Staff to be) General Ilker Basbug earlier this week, at the Turkish War College, were enough to highlight the anger in military circles felt towards the U.S. over this issue.
What General Basbug said, without mincing his word, was direct and not open to misinterpretation. According to the second most important officer in the Turkish Armed Forces, “Turkey may not have the power to influence developments in Iraq, but it can nevertheless make the whole process a costly one” for those concerned.
While he did not name names, Basbug was clearly aiming at the U.S. forces in that country, as well as the Iraqi Kurdish leadership, which the Turkish military accuses of aiding and abetting the PKK with encouragement from the warm relationship it enjoys with Washington.
These remarks not only beg a whole list of questions but also highlight the angry mind frame of the Turkish military at the present time. Taking the cue from General Basbug's remarks, retired General Armagan Kuloglu, who is currently the chief advisor to the Global Strategy Institute based in Ankara, expounded on what making “the whole process costly” means.
What to do?
The following list of ten steps – published in Milliyet yesterday - is what Turkey can (and presumably should) do in this regard according to Kuloglu, who is a well-known commentator on military matters and who appears frequently on Turkish television.
1- The Turkmen of northern Iraq can be organized (and presumably armed, although he does not say this);
2- The Habur border post between Turkey and northern Iraq can be closed;
3- Turkey can stop the humanitarian and logistical support for U.S. forces in Iraq;
4- Contact can be established with Sunni and Shiite groups in Iraq to stoke further domestic clashes;
5- Resistance groups in Iraq can be supported;
6- Turkey can deny transit rights to U.S. forces withdrawing from Iraq;
7- Turkey can take steps that will negatively affect Washington's Iran policy;
8- Turkey can withdraw its support to the U.S. within the context of NATO in Afghanistan;
9- Turkey can deny training rights to U.S. warplanes in Incirlik;
10- Turkey can recall Turkish companies doing business in northern Iraq.
It is a historic fact that Turkish-American relations are military in essence. There is no overbearing economic involvement as in the case of Turkey's relations with Europe, except in the defense industry area. This means that for the past 50 years the Turkish and U.S. militaries have worked in almost “symbiotic proximity” to each other.
This backdrop alone highlights the dire nature of the remarks by General Basbug and the ideas expressed by retired General Kuloglu. If relations between the Turkish and American militaries have come to this, then the desire by Ambassador Burns and his civilian counterparts in Ankara “to restore a sense of strategic partnership in U.S. - Turkish relations” is going to take what appears to be a gargantuan effort. Especially since the American side appears to have no real interest in going after the PKK in northern Iraq.
Sometimes all it takes is a small cut somewhere on the body that is not attended to in time to grow septic and harmful, perhaps even destroying the body. We have been saying from day one, and my American friends are aware of this, that the PKK represents precisely such a cut in Turkish-U.S. relations.
This issue was not taken as seriously as it should have been by the American side and the Iraqi Kurds, and is now festering to the extent that senior Turkish military officials are saying, in effect, that they are prepared to make life costly for U.S. forces and their Kurdish allies.
Put another way, the issues that stand on the path of “restored strategic relations” between these two allies of half a century standing are there to behold and will not, judging by appearances, be going away anytime soon. Surely this is bad for both countries.
Tancredo Withdraws Support Of Armenian Bill
It has emerged that a Republican candidate for the US presidency has withdrawn his support of two resolutions pending in the US Congress on an alleged genocide of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
Tom Tancredo, a Republican congressman from Colorado and also a candidate for his party's 2008 presidential nomination, withdrew his status as a co-sponsor for the resolutions "without explanation," the Armenian-American Political Action Committee (ARMENPAC) announced on Thursday, suggesting that Tancredo bowed to pressure from the Turkish lobby.
Also on Thursday in Washington, the US State Department reiterated that there was no change in the US administration's position, which is against passage of the resolutions. Remarks by Tom Casey, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, came during a daily press briefing when he was asked to comment on a letter sent by eight former US secretaries of state to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The former secretaries of state -- James Baker, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and George Shultz -- urged Pelosi in their letter to "prevent the resolution from reaching the House."
Casey referred the reporters to the signatories of the letter, and added: "They are private citizens. And I assume if they made representation to Speaker Pelosi on this, they did so because they believed it was the right thing to do." Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated strong opposition to the resolutions in a speech delivered on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"Should this draft reach the floor and the Congress of our ally passes a unilateral, political judgment of no legal bearing on such a sensitive and controversial issue, it will seriously impair Turkish-American relations, with wide-ranging implications in our overall cooperation," Erdogan said. Ankara Today's Zaman
Today's Zaman Today's Zaman
Isn't Orhan Pamuk Smart Enough?
September 29, 2007
Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Intellectuals in Turkey have always suffered. Serving long years in prisons, being tortured, and being forced to live and die abroad have been ordinary events for our intellectuals. Things are changing but some of them do not change. I believe mediocrity has always been the most popular state of being in Turkey. We do not like extraordinary people! We do not like different ideas—basically we do not like being different! We appreciate great people after their deaths only. It is a rare occurrence to show appreciation to the living people who really deserve it. We grow up in authoritarian families, our educational system does not encourage critical thinking and being ordinary and not questioning anything are almost glorified in Turkey. In spite of all these negative conditions, some really great people emerge, and some of them even gain the appreciation of the world.
There is no doubt that Orhan Pamuk is one of these people. He is a genius! He is a fantastic mixture of east and west, exactly as Turkey is. He is Turkey! However, our lives in Turkey are full of irony and Orhan Pamuk is also a part of our drama. You may know that Yasin Hayal, one of the suspects in the Hrant Dink murder, was shouting while he was being taken from the court back to prison, saying “Orhan Pamuk, be smart, be smart!” A guy who was not able to complete his high school education and who probably could not read or grasp even one page of any novel of Orhan Pamuk's was advising him to be smart! Where else in the world this can happen! I can assure you there were a lot of people who appreciated and applauded what Yasin Hayal said then. Orhan Pamuk should smarten up! If he doesn't, he will be killed like other non-smart guys, like the guy Yasin Hayal and his friends killed, Hrant Dink! Dink was also an exceptional person, a man who has an enormous heart and love for other people. A few days ago, youtube broadcasted another “be smart warning” by a Turkish singer! Ismail Türüt's song says, “Don't make any plans,” and then shows the body of Hrant Dink lying on the street while the song continues, “If a person betrays the country, he is finished off."
Then the singer and the “writer” of the song appear on a television channel. They continue their threats: “Ali Bayramoglu went too far!” (Bayramoglu is a columnist and prominent intellectual who sharply criticizes ultra-nationalist and racists in Turkey). And referring to remarks made by Kurtulus Church's religious leader, Ihsan Ozbek, in protest of religious intolerance just after the Malatya massacre “the poet” continues, “The man says I will sell snails in the Muslim neighborhood. You will sell it once, twice, then I will insert those snails in the appropriate place in your body!” So we learn that there are different punishments for those who are not smart enough! Being killed is just one of the alternatives!
The last threat came from Yasin Hayal's lawyer, Fuat Turgut, a few days ago. He also threatened Orhan Pamuk, saying “be smart, do not slander your state, your nation!” As a lawyer, reading these remarks of another person in my profession, I am deeply ashamed, just as I was when I heard that the president of the Izmir Bar Association made a declaration supporting Ismail Türüt's song. Mediocrity and extreme nationalism is an extremely dangerous blend. All these remarks and comments are disgusting and must prompt us to question everything thoroughly.
Who represents Turkey: Dink, Pamuk, Bayramoglu, and Ozbek, or the ones who threaten, warning us to “be smart”? We have all these people. We have murderers, we have murderers' praisers, but we also have those who shouted during the funeral of Dink: “We are all Hrant. We are all Armenians!” These people with such an intense empathy and sympathy for victims are from Turkey, but the others, the ones who warn us to be smart, who threaten us with the insertion of snails in our appropriate places in the absence of the slightest empathy and understanding towards the feeling of people whose friends were killed in an unbelievably brutal way in Malatya are also from Turkey! Who will prevail?
This Monday the case about Hrant Dink's murder will resume, and the Malatya case is about to open. These are extremely important cases for the future of Turkey. Will their results be confined to the punishment of a few teenagers or will they cover a much broader picture, a web of dark relations? Will Turkey learn from these cases and create strong tools to struggle against the racist and deeply intolerant mentality that is spreading every day in Turkey? Will we be a society that identifies itself with people like Orhan Pamuk, or the murderers? Will Orhan Pamuk be able to walk in the streets of Istanbul freely? Will this nightmare continue? We will see.
* Orhan Kemal Cengiz can be reached at email@example.com
Artists Without Borders Between Yerevan And Istanbul
Turkish Daily News
September 29, 2007
A group of Turkish artists held a workshop for university students in Armenia. The best way to solve the discord between the two countries is to remove prejudices between youths, say artists who believe Armenia and Turkey can unravel their problems through dialogue
Moved by developments in the wake of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink's murder, Turkish artists journeyed to the Armenian capital Yerevan last month to meet with local artists and learn about the Armenian way of life. Some Armenian and Turkish intellects have taken action since Dink was killed, launching discussions on bilateral problems. While leaders remain silent for political reasons, artists were undeterred by the closed border gates and scarce flights between the two countries; they set out for peace and conciliation.
During the visit, internationally renowned Turkish curator and art critic Beral Madra held the workshop together with Xurban Collective, Güven Incirlioglu and Ahmet Atif Akin for students at Free University of Yerevan. Artists visiting Armenia for the first time had the opportunity to observe daily life in Armenia and to take pulse of Armenians. Traumas in the past can be overcome only through art and dialogue, said the artists, calling on Turkish and Armenian youth to participate in the dialogue. Madra shared her experience with the Turkish Daily News.
Prejudices addessed in a war vault:
Artist and a professor at Free University Ruben Arevshadian repeated the call made by the Turkish group in Yerevan. Madra along with Yerevan artists also reached out to students at Free University to join the workshop. The Armenian youth discussed political issues with the Turkish group of artists during eight-hour sessions. The venue was a vault-like building built in the Soviet period. “Students had many questions about Turkey. We talked about every issue beyond limits and taboos. When they believed in our sincerity, the students forgot about prejudices and approached to the present tension between the two countries from different angles.”
Participants discussed art and political relations from the Soviet-era communism to Nazi Europe. They also explored the social structure in Yerevan, said Madra. They evaluated in social aspects of building a beautiful church in a poor neighborhood in Yerevan. “The students also shared their opinions about historic sites in Yerevan which were practically re-built under the guise of restoration,” she said.
An artist ‘opposed' to Turkish stance:
Admitting that she was quite impressed by Armenia and Armenians, the curator believes if the border were opened relations would mellow. Feeling at home in Armenia, she termed political disputes a “contradiction”. “When I saw Mount Ararat from Yerevan, all borders between the two countries disappeared,” Madra said, not hesitating to add that she is opposed to Turkey's stance on the subject. Underlining the rising tide of nationalism in Turkey recently, Madra asserted that Turkey does not square accounts with its own traumas. According to Madra, the notion of nationalism is lingering, unattached to reality; therefore, it comes across as reactionary and aggressive.
Periods of modernism in the republics founded after the Soviet collapse should be examined; they differ significantly from modernism in Turkey, she added. Turkey quickly dived into a neo-liberal system without going through modernism. On the other hand, the republics established after the Soviet collapse experience modernism deeply in many areas, primarily in art and culture. Neglected neighbors, Madra said, tend to experience art deeply, too.
Who is Beral Madra:
Art critic and curator Beral Madra, 1942, was the curator of the first two Istanbul biennials. She is the director of BM Contemporary Art Center, a non-profit institution. She has also contributed to the Venice biennials assuming the role of curator assistantship of the "Maternities and Memories - Recent Works from the Islamic World" exhibition. She is founding member of Foundation for Future Culture and Art, International Association of Art Critics (AICA) Turkey and Anadolu Kültür A.S. She is also a member of the European Cultural Association and Cultural Consciousness Development Foundation. She wrote two books; “Post-peripheral Flux” A Decade of Contemporary Art in Istanbul, and the second one is “Biennial Texts, 1987-2003.”
Former US Defense Secretaries Also Warn Pelosi
September 29, 2007
Turkish Daily News
In the wake of an appeal of eight former United States secretaries of state earlier this week, three former United States defense secretaries added their voices yesterday in opposition to a pending “Armenian genocide” resolution by the House of Representatives. In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, former Defense Secretaries Frank Carlucci, William S. Cohen, and William Perry, expressed their concerns over the damages that passing of House Resolution 106 could do to relations between the U.S and Turkey. Emphasizing Turkey's critical role as a long–time NATO ally in supporting U.S. national security interests in the Balkans and the Middle East, the three former top U.S. officials defined Turkey's partnership as valuable and acknowledged the considerable breadth of the bilateral defense relations between the two countries.Pointing to the probable deterioration of public opinion in Turkey about the U.S. following a possible passage of the bill, the former defense officials also hinted at the fact that the Turkish Parliament might yield to public pressure and restrict U.S. access to the Turkish air base at Incirlik, as well as close the crossing into Iraq at the Habur Gate, thus limiting the U.S. military's operational capability in Iraq and Afghanistan.Though recognizing “the need to learn from the terrible tragedy, that took place as the Ottoman Empire disintegrated in the early part of the century,” the former top officials concluded their letter by urging the House to “consider other appropriate ways to honor the memory of the vicitims without doing damage” to contemporary bilateral relations with Turkey.
The Art Of Denial: Turkey’s Evolving Denials Of The Armenian Genocide By Dr. Rouben Adalian
Director, Armenian National Institute
Many across the Jewish community in the United States seemed to have breathed a sigh of relief when the influential Anti-Defamation League acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. The growing gap between public understanding of the historical events and the political concerns of the Jewish-American leadership over relations with Turkey had become untenable.
Akthamar: “ . . . What they actually announced was the formal secularization of the onetime church . . .”
The longstanding policy of the Turkish government to deny the Armenian Genocide has suffered yet another embarrassment. Virtually everywhere the Armenian diaspora has a presence it has had its voice heard by local communities and host governments. With one major exception, the United States, twenty countries have on record formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.
It is no secret that the Jewish community has been divided over the issue of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. To curry favor with Turkey on behalf of Israel’s security and strategic interests, most key organizations representing the Jewish-American community in Washington have supported the Turkish Embassy’s lobbying strategies to hinder approval of congressional resolutions. Of course they are not alone in opposing such legislation. The Departments of State and Defense have also consistently disagreed with proposed congressional resolutions on the argument that relations with Turkey would be harmed. There is no real evidence that relations between Turkey and the United States would rupture as nothing of the sort has happened upon recognition by other countries. Nor can it be argued that a relationship built upon a half-century long United States - Turkey alliance is so shaky that it can be undone by one congressional resolution. Still the debate continues.
What is apparent through all this is the failure of the Turkish government to convince the rest of the world of its position on the events of 1915, That position, which only twenty-years years ago was unchallenged is now viewed as inconsistent with the facts and offensive in its propositions. How far Turkey has retreated is evident in the continuously evolving denial arguments manufactured somewhere in Ankara. As one case after another was discredited, more arguments were contrived. Even the politicians in Turkey have lost sight of where their government started and where it has ended up.
Turkey’s starting point was complete denial that anything out of the ordinary had occurred in Armenia in 1915. At best a program to relocate Armenians from the war zone with Russia was allowed and Ankara argued that this was done out of humane consideration for the benefit of the Armenians in order to remove them from harm’s way. This absurd line of argument proving too ludicrous to maintain for long was replaced with another arguing that wartime conditions precipitated the resettlement of the Armenians because they had become an unreliable population.
Heatedly denying the commission of atrocities, in the face of the growing evidence that began to be issued mostly retrieved from official archival sources, the enormous loss of life suffered by the Armenian population begged an explanation. First the theory of epidemics was promoted, attributing the death to passive causes. Then the theory of wartime military exigency and the lack of sufficient manpower to oversee the wholesale relocation of the Armenians was advanced, and thereby shifted the blame for the casualties to lawless elements and especially unruly Kurds. Finally a civil war was posited to deal with the matter of the scale of the atrocities. As dismissal of the evidence attesting to such could no longer be sustained, the denials began insidiously to imply that Armenians invited the calamity upon their own heads and got what they deserved by taking up arms. The argument also ignored the logic that if there was a civil war then there might have been legitimate cause for people to defend themselves. The blame was laid upon the victims for starting the conflict, ignoring the fact that the Ottoman state had fully equipped armed forces and Armenians constituted a largely unarmed civilian population.
When all failed, a country that had always prided itself in its military might contrived the strangest defense yet. If it is true that Armenians were subjected to genocide, the Turks were the victims of genocide also, a bizarre combination of admission and accusation that possibly made facing the historical evidence more palatable.
The pressure upon the public, the media and academia inside and outside Turkey to sustain these rationalizations only delayed the reckoning that was occurring in many quarters all across the globe. As the scholarship on the Armenian Genocide grew and improved, skepticism in academia retreated, so much so that a mere handful nowadays defends the official Turkish version of events. That scholarship proved rigorous enough to raise questions in the mind of Turkish academics. For a brief moment in 2005 they dared convene a conference in Istanbul to address the issues and possibly usher in a new beginning in the debate over the Armenian Genocide. In response prosecutors invoked Article 301 of the Turkish penal code criminalizing reference to the Armenian Genocide. Then the assassination in January of 2007 of the outspoken Hrant Dink, who was motivated by honorable intentions, spread fear and silenced those who had dared challenge the system.
Dink was allowed a public funeral and even the Turkish media conceded its shock upon the demise of man who never advocated violence and who passionately strived to cure some of the sources of the hatred that poisoned relations between Armenians and Turks. The reality of an independent Armenian state symbolized for him a new scope of possibilities and the Turkish media had found in him an interlocutor who could help explain the rancor and offer remedies.
In some small way perhaps the Turkish government thought that it could ease the situation by announcing the re-opening of the renovated Church of the Holy Cross, more simply known as Akhtamar, one of the very rare still intact places of worship once venerated by Armenians.
However, the occasion of the re-opening of Akhtamar was squandered by the lack of coordination with the Armenian community in Turkey and by the hoisting of the national flag and a giant poster of Ataturk upon the entrance to the church. Everyone is entitled to raising the flag of their country upon an appropriately positioned mast, but the hanging of a giant portrait of Ataturk where people once worshiped the Deity bespoke of the vast distance remaining between Armenians and Turks. The Turkish authorities may have wanted to leave the impression they had permitted the renovation of an Armenian church, and certainly they allowed the media to spread that notion widely. What they actually announced was the formal secularization of the onetime church as a museum and as a tourist site, and in so doing stressed less its renovation and more its appropriation as a Turkish cultural heritage site.
Finally, there is a long way to go before a common language is shared by Armenians and Turks. One thing is certain, however, the vindication of the memory of the Armenian Genocide has made men and women of conscience take note, and governments to take heed, and for some Turks to take steps toward a rapprochement that does not discard the acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide that caused so much loss and so much injustice.
Armenian Patriarch Of Istanbul Takes On Politics Of Genocide
By George Shirinian
“…I find in particular the approach of Ittihat Terakki’s collective punishment of Armenians quite wrong. It wasn’t the whole Armenian community who took up arms against the government, but I believe the Turkish Republic should not be accused of what happened then. The diaspora would say that it should be accused as long as there is a denial of what happened.”
“…But the Government of the Committee for Union and Progress, being in charge of the country, is chiefly responsible for the painful events that occurred and the great suffering that was endured. If you do not hold the government in charge of the behavior of the country as responsible for that behavior, then whom will you hold responsible? Instead of eliminating in their local areas the armed Armenian factions who were in rebellion, the Government of the Committee for Union and Progress sent all Armenians in the Ottoman Empire on a sort of death march to the Syrian Desert; it sentenced them to death. Therefore this party is chiefly culpable for the 1915 events.”
These words come from Mesrob II, Patriarch of the Armenian community of Turkey, in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman on Sept. 17, and quoted in an editorial by Harut Sassounian on Sept. 20.
Why is the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey involving himself in such a highly politicized issue as the Armenian genocide? Doesn’t he know that whatever he may say or do publicly regarding this emotionally charged subject will never be considered strong enough by some Armenians in the diaspora, and that he will be perceived by many as a tool of the Turkish state? At the same time, doesn’t he know that he will always be considered with suspicion by nationalistic elements of Turkish society, simply because he is an Armenian leader?
The purpose of this commentary is not to advocate any position, but merely to raise questions in an attempt to understand what is happening and its implications.
Why the Today’s Zaman interview now? According to Zaman, the paper had been trying to interview the Patriarch unsuccessfully since before Hrant Dink’s death. He declined then and continued to do so because of the many threats he received. Did he accept to be interviewed now because of the recent election, from which the AKP is flush with victory? Did he do so because of his concern to improve relations between the newly re-elected government and Turkish society with the Armenian minority? Did he do so because of his concern to improve relations between Turkey and Armenia, as part of that?
Why take this risk now? Is he not aware that he may be dragged into the courts on the basis of Penal Code Article 301? After all, it is well known that the Armenian Patriarch operates under considerable constraints, due to the social and political environment in Turkey being so explosive, particularly as a result of the legacy of the genocide and the notorious Article 301.
Is he not aware of the current political environment in Turkey, eloquently described by Yavuz Baydar in an article titled “Free speech hell, hate speech paradise?”:
“Turkey is a peculiar country where free speech is still limited and hate speech goes mostly unpunished and ignored. The latest act of shame was the song video posted on YouTube that openly praises the murder of our colleague, Hrant Dink. As we brought attention to the act in the Turkish press, reactions of the singer and some supporters were not of defensiveness but of aggression. This is the mood that still prevails, despite the election results, in Turkey. Not a day passes without a newspaper or TV channel spreading hatred, lies, anti-Semitism and enmity of certain countries/nations. A few days ago, a sports columnist called a German footballer ‘Gestapo.’
“The sad part is, while the prosecutors and courts (including the higher courts) are busy and keen on sentencing people who ‘denigrate Turkishness’ or ‘insult the military,’ almost none of them care (or dare) to deal with hate speech cases. DTP deputy Akin Birdal was almost murdered because of hate reports by daily Hurriyet; the Armenian Patriarchate was stoned and steadily threatened as daily Tercuman portrayed Mesrob II—the patriarch—as a villain, even after Dink’s murder! These acts of shame have been going on for years.’’ (Today’s Zaman, Sept. 20)
Is it the case, as Harut Sassounian wrote, that “…the sinister hand of the Turkish government [is] orchestrating the Patriarch’s speaking engagements, using the connections of high-powered lobbying firms hired by Ankara,” and that “He must at all cost resist the pressures exerted upon him by Turkish officials, in order not to allow them to use him as a propaganda tool serving Turkey’s denialist agenda”?
Is the Patriarch a tool, and if so, is it by force or by choice? Is it possible that some of his remarks were part of a strategy to help break down state taboos over discussion of the Armenian genocide, as a part of the democratization process of Turkey, like Hrant Dink used to do? Were these carefully considered statements from an individual in his prominent and precarious position utilizing “a change in the style and modalities of discourses dealing with history,” as Taner Akcam put it? (see “Dialogue across an International Divide: Essays towards a Turkish-Armenian Dialogue,” Cambridge, Mass., and Toronto: Zoryan Institute, 2001, p. 28.)
Is there a chance that this interview is part of a strategy to open up discussion on taboo Armenian issues? This could be in keeping with an important principle: “A society that erects taboos against a discussion of historical events and institutes related prohibitions can not have a democratic future. The road to achieving a state based on law and justice, which we wish to be the case for our country, Turkey, must pass through a gate where one can ponder and come to terms with one’s past. Those who can not bring themselves to discuss history openly, can not have a future, either.” (Akcam, p. 29.)
Could one consider the questions above as possibilities when analyzing some of the Patriarch’s other statements in that interview?
When asked if he thought the investigation into the murder of Hrant Dink had been conducted thoroughly, he stated, “I’d like the real perpetrators behind this crime to be found. Otherwise justice won’t be served.”
Without pointing fingers or making direct accusations, did he in effect answer “No?”
Was the Patriarch, in his efforts to preserve the future of the Armenian community in Turkey, trying to assert the historic rights of the Patriarchate (granted originally by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, as the interviewer notes) by (a) calling for the restoration of assets seized by the state since 1936, (b) pointing out that the former president vetoed religious foundations* and expressing the hope that the new president will approve them, and (c) calling for schools to develop clerics and the Armenian language?
If this was his objective, then why get mixed up in the genocide issue?
One wonders if Patriarch Mesrob II is using the interview in Today’s Zaman as an opportunity to highlight his primary concern and responsibility for the survival and welfare of what is left of the Armenian community in Turkey. Is it fair to assume, then, that (a) he is using this opportunity to introduce a new language to educate Turkish civil society about the Armenian genocide, by referring to it as “collective punishment” and a death sentence for all Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, without using the “G-word,” and (b) he is doing this with the hope that, ultimately, the Turkish state, government and society are able to accept the culpability of the Committee for Union and Progress, the perpetrator regime, and through such acceptance eliminate the tension, which has been menacing the Armenian community since 1915?
It seems that through the interview, the Patriarch raises serious questions regarding the rights of the Armenian community in Turkey. These rights are seldom discussed in the Diaspora, while they are vital to the Armenian community in Turkey. By referring to them, the Patriarch not only re-affirms them, but also contributes to the current efforts to transform Turkey into a legal, rational state that should have an inclusive approach to its minorities.
It is incumbent on all of us—Armenians, Turks and others—to read critically and with an open mind what a person in the Patriarch’s circumstances says. It is by asking such questions as those raised in this text that we can promote rational public debate. This has been one of the main goals of the Zoryan Institute from its inception.
*Religious foundations refers to the General Directorate for Foundations, which regulates the activities of non-Muslim religious groups and their affiliated churches, monasteries, synagogues and related religious property, including approximately 50 Armenian sites. In 1974, amid political tensions over Cyprus, the High Court of Appeals ruled that the minority foundations had no right to acquire properties beyond those listed in the 1936 declarations. Unfortunately, the court’s ruling launched a process under which the state seized control of properties acquired after 1936.
George Shirinian is executive director of the Zoryan Institute. The Armenian Weekly
Foxman: There May Be Disagreement Between Friends From Time To Time
28 September 2007
"There may be disagreement between friends from time to time. This does not change friendship or deference," Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said on Thursday. Foxman replied to the questions of reporters following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with representatives of Jewish community in New York.
Asked what was the matter of disagreement, Foxman said the disagreement was some words describing Turkish-Armenian history.
He also said historical and current Turkish-Jewish relations were discussed at the meeting. "We have expressed gratitude for the support, deference and tolerance shown to Jews in Turkey. We also discussed Turkish-U.S. relations. Iran, Syria and Middle East process as well as Turkish- Israeli relations were handled at the meeting," he noted.
Asked to comment on the Armenian draft in the U.S. Congress, Foxman said, "we believe that a matter between Turkey and Armenia related to history should be tackled between the two parties, not in U.S. Congress or parliament of any other country. This is not a political matter and those in the Congress are not historians."
"I believe that we should focus on the future, not the past. If the Jewish community, the United States and the Congress are willing to assist they should bring together Turkey and Armenia for the grandchildren of the two parties," Foxman said.
Indicating that the matter should not be tackled in the French parliament or any other place, Foxman said he expected Armenians to respond affirmatively to the proposal to discuss the matter in a committee of historians.
Abraham Foxman, the National Director of ADL, had said earlier in a statement that his organization had come to share the view that the incidents of 1915 "were indeed tantamount to genocide," but added that the organization maintained its opposition against bringing the issue to Congressional floor.
The Armenian Policy Of Turkey Reflects On Its South-Caucasian Policy
28 September 2007
When meeting the new Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov RA Prime Minister Serge Sargsian touched upon the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations as well at a joint press conference on September 25, in Moscow. He once more laid stress on Armenia’s readiness to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions. "Turkey is the side that sets conditions. However, it is aspired to join the European family and is expecting a long process", added RA Prime Minister Serge Sargsian, according to "Republic of Armenia" daily.
"CNN-Turk" was totally concentrated on September 25-press conference: on Armenian-Turkish relations.
"It will be unusual for Europeans to involve this country into the Union’s membership, as it sometimes contradict the EU principles. What about the Armenian-Turkish relations, the ball is with them, and nothing depends on us", mentioned Serge Sargsian according to "CNN-Turk".
At the end "CNN-Turk" mentions: "RA President Robert Kocharian’s companion Serge Sargsian is supposed to announce his candidacy in the coming presidential elections." In this case the task of the above-mentioned information service is not the candidacy of Serge Sargsian, but his probability of taking up the president’s post after Robert Kocharian. It’s evident that in that case nowadays Turkish policy on Armenia will continue.
It will bring to the giving up of Turkish position on Armenian policy, as it strains Turkey’s relations with the third countries. Moreover, the closed Armenian border and the blockade make higher the pressure of USA and EU. And it will put an end to the South-Caucasian policy of the Republic of Turkey.
Why? – Though Turkey has agreements of cooperation in the military sphere with Georgia and Azerbaijan, it hasn’t succeeded in having influences on Georgia and Azerbaijan, as in Georgia the USA established its military presence, and Azerbaijan is involved in Russian-American irreconcilable struggle for influence.
If to add all of these to the exhaustion of Armenian policy of Turkey, it will not be difficult to guess the inevitability of its exclusion from South Caucasus.
So, the Turkey’s policy on Armenia reflects negatively not so much on Armenia, but on South-Caucasian policy of Turkey, but South-Caucasus is a bridgehead to pierce through Middle Asia.
Armenian Patriarch And The Freedom Of Speech In The US
27 September 2007
Omer Engin LUTEM /ERAREN
The conference of the Armenian Patriarch Mutafyan, which was scheduled to be held in Georgetown University in Washington entitled “the impass between Turks and Armenians must be broken”, has been cancelled due to pressure by some extremist Armenians living in this country.
Who exactly hindered Mutafyan’s conference, for which reason and how did they do it?
The Tashnaks prevented the conference. This group is well known for its fanaticism not only in the ranks of the Diaspora but also in Armenia. It disrupts any view or idea which does not combine with theirs’. In this respect, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), as a Tashnak organization issued a letter to all congressmen depicting the Patriarch as being constantly under the pressure of the Turkish Government, allegedly tantalizing anybody who speaks freely about human rights. ANCA pretends that the Patriarch is a hostage, only allowed to follow the official views.
The reason for the Tashnaks being against Mutafyan lies in the account that the Patriarch does not follow their fanatic views. But what annoys the Tashnaks most is that Mutafyan declared being against the House of Representatives Resolution 106, which is expected to be passed almost certainly. Obviously, such an important Armenian figure as the patriarch being against this resolution is regarded likely to harm it.
The Patriarch stated that Georgetown University cancelled the conference on the grounds of “security”; as the Armenians might organize a demonstration. Unfortunately this justification is groundless, because everybody knows that the Armenians always try to disrupt any organization which represents a different view then theirs’. For this reason, the University, which invited the Patriarch, should have done everything necessary to hold the conference and counter the manifestation with it’s own means or with the help of the security forces. As the University did not do anything for the conference to be hold, we should conclude that it did not act honestly.
The most crucial point in canceling the conference is that freedom of speech was violated. It is quite interesting that such a violation occurred in a country which claims to be the champion of freedoms and that Georgetown University was not criticized for its act. This leads us to think that freedom of speech in the US is not compulsory but a flexible principle changeable due to conditions.
Hereby, it is noteworthy to remind to our readers that, when Mr. Gündüz Aktan and I visited the US last year in March to give a series of conferences dealing with the Armenian Question, these conferences were also under the risk of being canceled. As a matter of fact the conference in the University of Southern California, despite being announced and its invitation been sent, was indeed canceled due to a threatening letter sent by the Armenians.
Cypriot Turks Join Struggle Against Armenian Genocide Resolution
28.09.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ A regular sitting of the Talaat-Pasha movement will be held in Cyprus November 1-4 by initiative of Rauf Denktash, the movement’s advisory committee chairman, first President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Representatives from Azerbaijan, Syria and Iran are expected to draw up “the strategy of struggle” against the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H. Res. 106).
Istanbul Bilgi University prof, Arif Acaloglu said 50 thousand copies of a book titled “Dashnaks have nothing to do in Armenia” by Hovhannes Kajaznuni, Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia, were sent to the U.S. for circulation. The book written in 1923 was translated into English, French and German, APA reports.
Kajaznuni wrote the book after establishment of soviet power in Armenia and execution of outstanding figures of Dashnaktsutyun party. Kajaznuni said the party should work for the Diaspora and resolution of the Armenian issue.
Erdogan Enlists U.S. Jews’ Support For Opposing The Armenian Genocide Resolution
28.09.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey’s Prime Minister has used a meeting with representatives of the U.S. Jewish community to discuss ways of denial of Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman in 1915. Meeting with representatives of groups including the Conference of Presidents, the Appeal of Conscience, the Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, and Bnai Brith International in New York late Wednesday Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the genocide recognition claims as “baseless and not supported by any scientific or historical grounding.”
"The Prime Minister also recalled Turkey’s call to Armenia to establish a joint commission to study historical facts, and stated that Turkey expected the Jewish community to confirm its support," a statement issued after the meeting said. Following the meeting, Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), said that “at times there could be disagreement between friends, referring to the League’s had accepted the events of 1915 as being tantamount to genocide.”
However, Foxman said that the issue should not be the subject of a resolution of the U.S. Congress.
"We believe that a matter between Turkey and Armenia related to history should be tackled between the two parties, not in the U.S. Congress or the parliament of any other country," he said. "This is not a political matter and those in the Congress are not historians," he said.
"I believe that we should focus on the future, not the past. If the Jewish community, the United States and the Congress are willing to assist they should bring together Turkey and Armenia for the grandchildren of the two parties,” he said, NTV MSNBC reports.
Former Secretaries Of State Urge Pelosi To Block The Genocide Vote
September 28, 2007
ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Eight former secretaries of state of the United States urged Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, to prevent the Armenian genocide resolution reaching the House floor in a letter sent Tuesday.
“Passage of the resolution would harm our foreign policy objectives to promote reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia. It would also strain our relations with Turkey, and would endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” former top heads of the U.S. diplomacy said in the letter sent to Pelosi.
The letter was signed by Madeleine K. Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Alexander M. Haig, Jr, Henry A. Kissinger, Colin L. Powell and George P. Shultz, to block the vote on the resolution that recognizes the events in 1915-1917 as genocide.
“We do not minimize or deny the enormous significance of the horrible tragedy suffered by ethnic Armenian from 1915 to 1923,” the letter read. However, the secretaries of the state recalled that the longstanding U.S. policy on the matter was to encourage reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia and to urge the government of Turkey to acknowledge the tragedy.
“There are some hopeful signs already that both parties are engaging each other. We believe that a public statement by the U.S. Congress at this juncture is likely to undermine what has been painstakingly achieved to date.” Another issue the secretaries pointed at was the Turkey's contribution to U.S. national security, including security and stability in the Middle East and Europe.
Resolution won't be a symbolic one
“The United States continues to rely on Turkey for its geo-strategic importance. Turkey is an indispensable partner to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping U.S. military with access to Turkish airspace, military bases, and the border crossing with Iraq, Turkey is a linchpin in the transshipment of vital cargo and fuel resources to U.S. troops, coalition partners and Iraqi civilian," the letter read.
The former secretaries further urged that the passage of the resolution could quickly extend beyond symbolic significance saying that the Turkish Parliament might react strongly to a House resolution, as it did to a French National Assembly resolution a year ago.“The result could endanger our national security interests in the region. [...] We strongly urge you to prevent the resolution from reaching the house floor,” the letter said.
Armenian Diaspora Gathers At The European Parliament To Mark 20th Anniversary Of Genocide Recognition
September 28, 2007
Turkish Daily News
The European Parliament will host the second Convention of European Armenians in Brussels on Oct. 15-16 to mark the 20th anniversary of the parliament's first resolution recognizing the events of 1915-1917 as ''genocide,'' a term Turkey officially rejects. The convention will bring together the Armenian Diaspora from European Union member states and around the world.
The European Parliament had been the first major international body to recognize the Armenian genocide, during its plenary session in Strasbourg on June 18, 1987. Turkey officially rejects these claims, saying that the deaths were the result of inter-ethnic strife, disease and famine during World War I turmoil. The resolution which was passed despite diplomatic efforts from Turkey said: “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 the country are insurmountable obstacles to consideration of the possibility of Turkey's accession to the European Community."
Genocide as a condition for Turkey's membership
The European Armenian Federation based in Brussels aims to promote the 20th anniversary of the resolution to revive expectations from the EU to introduce recognition of genocide as a pre-condition to Turkey's membership. “Today, that landmark resolution of 1987 could be re-stated word for word by the Parliament without the slightest hesitation,” Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation Hilda Tchoboian said in a statement published on the Federation's official Web site. She also argued that the European leadership should take note of the fact that in 20 years Turkey has shown no evidence of progress on any of the stated issues.
Meanwhile, the Armenian lobby puts pressure on the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament to append wording related to recognition of genocide into the draft resolution on Turkey to be voted next Wednesday. Dutch rapporteur for Turkey, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, has received criticism from the Armenian Diaspora for not having included the genocide issue in the text.
Chairman of the Christian Democrats at the European Parliament Joseph Daul is expected to address the opening of the Convention on Oct. 15. The Armenian government will be represented by the foreign minister Vartan Oskanian. Hugues Mingarelli, the European Commission's chief negotiator for the European Neighbourhood Policy action plan for Armenia will also participate in discussions. Former members of the European Parliament Henri Saby, Ernest Glinne, Alfred Coste-Floret, Paule Duport, Stan Newens, and Jaak Vandemeulebroucke, who contributed to the adoption of the resolution in 1987, will also be present at the Convention. Armenian Archbishop of France Norvan Zakarian and Armenian Archbishop of Cyrprus Varoujan Herkelian will also be among the participants.
The Turkish Daily News learned that the European Armenian Federation has been lobbying to attract eminent participation from Cyprus and Greece.
During the course of the two-day Convention, the first session will be dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the recognition by the parliament. On the second day, a round table discussion will be held on Turkey's denial of genocide claims. Dogu Perinçek's case in Switzerland and possible impacts of the EU's racism-xenophobia framework decision on the penalisation of denial are among the issues to be discussed in detail. Recent discussions stirred by the position change of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and its possible impact on the draft genocide resolution in the United States will also be on the agenda of the Convention.
The Armenian Genocide As a Case Study in Today's Middle East Relations
By Tracy Dove, Ph. Editor, The Russia News Service October 10, 2007
A sensitive bill is about to go before the US Congress, and it won't be the first time that this initiative has been struck down by careful congressmen- only this time for the wrong reasons. The word "genocide" is not taken lightly in international arenas, and this means that governments have to be especially careful of which atrocities they recognize as genocide and which they give credence to as horrible human tragedies- but no more. If the United States recognizes the deaths of between 300,000 (Turkish estimates) and 1.5 million (Armenian estimates) Armenians as genocide, it may cause new lines to be drawn in the sands of the Middle East, but it would also be a courageous gesture in an era when moral certitude is lacking in foreign policy. Here are some considerations to think about in recognizing this event as genocide.
The main agitator against the bill's passage is of course the modern state of Turkey which- if it tried- could better disassociate itself from the triumvirate of bad Pashas during World War I who ordered the systematic annihilation of Armenians in Turkey. The initial waves of Armenian slaughter must be understood as the attempts of the Young Turks in the weak Ottoman government to establish a modern, though powerful state that would be exclusively Turkish and Muslim. They were assisted by the Ottoman Pasha's ill-conceived decision to side with the Germans and Austrians, which pre-destined the country to partition along ethnic and religious lines if the Axis should ever lose the war. With that concern foremost in his mind, the Pasha allowed for the legal expulsion of Christians from the territory of Turkey. Because of its geographic dispersion throughout Turkey, it was the Armenian community which would suffer the brunt of this measure, since the Turkish forces who were fighting against the Russians in 1915 were severely defeated by an army that was comprised of- understandably- Armenians. Sensing a Christian conspiracy, the Turkish government in Istanbul began conducting a purge of those territories where Armenians resided and allowed for revenge to be taken out against them. Interestingly enough, the conceptual genocide may have been ordered by angry Young Turks, but it was physically carried out by another ethnic minority within Turkey- the Kurds.
This presents an interesting paradigm in current Turkish-Kurdish relations which can be relegated to "very bad" when one considers Iraqi Kurdistan today. The Turks of 1915 were not powerful enough to secure their eastern frontier and relied on the Kurds for the nefarious job of driving the Armenians out. To be specific, there were two large groups of Sunni Kurds in the region, and the Ottoman government was successful in turning them against each other while giving the Ascheti Kurds a dominant position in return for carrying out the atrocities. As a result, Kurdish tribes at that time became estranged from one another because of their poisoned relations with the Turks, and this animosity continues in Kurdish politics to this day. The irony here is that if the Kurds can be blamed for the Armenian executions, then the present Turkish government has a useful propaganda tool at its service.
Turkish tradition dictates that any tarnishing of family honor be punished severely, and for this reason it is illegal to speak "against Turkishness" in public forums. The dishonor enters when one considers that the country's beloved founder- Mustafa Kemal Attaturk- was one of the army officers who carried out the genocide in both 1915 and 1920. To criticize Attaturk is paramount to disrespecting one's father, and for this reason Turkey will not accept the label of genocide for what happened in the eastern regions of the country. The Turkish-Armenian War was fought in 1920 and won thanks to Attaturk's leadership, which further exonerates the Turks from guilt, since the Armenians were the ones who had declared war. As the Turks advanced on one side into Armenia in 1920, the Bolsheviks advanced on Armenia from the other, and by the end of the war the tiny republic had been reduced in size by one-half.
The implications for today's Turkey are considerable, since many in the international community have already recognized the event as genocide. Firstly, the United States stands to lose two allies- the Turks in Ankara and the Kurds in upstart Iraqi Kurdistan. There will be social backlash against America in Turkey, and it will benefit the Islamists and their cause for returning to religious traditions if the US admonishes them for this historic crime. The Kurds, however, will feel a national victory in that their nation will be able to claim a moral distance from the Turks, despite their participation in the crime, and further their efforts for statehood.
Last to consider is Israel; relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara in the post 9/11 Middle East have been exceptionally good, but there is the historic equivalent in the Armenian holocaust which many in the International community are pushing Israel to recognize. Turkish-Israeli cooperation will suffer if the Americans recognize Genocide in the Armenian massacre, since Israel is known for standing behind US policy as long as it doesn't outwardly jeopardize Israeli security. In the end, no one will benefit from a strong American stand on this issue.
The irony lies in the fact that while the Congress of the United States may well pass the bill- as it has done more than once in the past- the Senate will have a hard time mustering up the votes necessary. In the end, short-term political gains will be sacrificed for the moral courage to stand with the international community and call a spade a spade. In this way, the foreign policy maxim of the Bush administration will be upheld- "you are either with us, or against us"- and in this case Turkey and Israel will rest easy with America's moral vacillation where national security is concerned.
Tracy Dove, editor of The Russia News Service, is a Professor of History and the Department Chair of International Relations at the University of New York in Prague.
Turkish Newspaper: Turkey's Empty Threats Aimed At Fairly Consistent Policies Of The Us Administration Are Not Going To Block The Armenian Bill
ArmInfo News Agency, Armenia, Oct 9 2007
"The Armenian bill: time to trace a new path", - this is the title of an article published in the Hurriyet newspaper (Turkey).
Speaking of the Turkish governmental administration's "enormous weapon" aimed at blocking the US Congress from passing the "Armenian genocide bill", Mehmet Y.Yilmaz, the author of the article, thinks that Ankara's threats are senseless and empty.
When Mehmet Y.Yilmaz heard that administration consultant Egeman Bagis, who left for the US for precisely this business, is reportedly planning on telling US authorities "If the bill is accepted, you will no longer be able to arrange logistical support for your soldiers in Iraq through Turkey", the author really wasn't able to understand how it was the US Congress was going to be thrown into a panic, and decide to postpone the voting on the bill. He says that the USA is a country which, pushing aside any logistic support from Turkey for a moment, has been able to invade an enormous country by lowering everything down from the air. "And the fact that the Turkish administration has not even considered this, and that they are seeing a useless threat as the only solution here, only serves to underscore our lack of policy on these sorts of matters", he says. "So it is clear now that empty threats aimed at the fairly consistent policies of the US administration are not going to block this Armenian bill", the author writes. He thinks that one should start channeling our energy towards arenas which will actually elicit results, and this includes thinking about the possibilities presented to Ankara by international law. "But this cannot be all. We need to take concrete steps in the propaganda war that we have somehow not been able to carry off up until now", he adds. "Now is the time, seeing we no longer have the chance to carry on our old ways, to trace a new path for ourselves", he says.
Denial Policy Gives Rise To New Crimes
Vardan Grigoryan Hayots Ashkharh Daily Oct 9 2007 Armenia
After Stany Hoyer, the leader of the Democratic majority of the US Congress announced on October 5 that Resolution # 106 on the Armenian Genocide would be passed by the November 25, a date when the Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving Day, the Turkish senior officials lost self-control and began to publicize threats in the address of the United States and Israel.
Let's remind you that Turkey once adopted a similar mode of action against France which had already recognized the Armenian Genocide. By the way, the French Foreign Minister is currently in Ankara. And it was not accidental that having replaced the British Prime Minister, the representative of the French President Sarkosi recently visited Ankara in the role of his American Counterpart.
The menacing statements that were made at the moment of such a serious dialogue initiated by the American signal and the French mediation demonstrate that Turkey is unwilling to follow the rules of the Western game, and this in turn increases the likelihood of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
On October 6 Prime Minister R. T. Erdoghan had a telephone conversation with the US President George W. Bush and the Israeli President Shimon Peres, and obviously threatened both of them with the prospect of deteriorating the bilateral relations. The specific targets of the visits are obvious too: the closing of Injirik airport situated in Turkey and used by the American air forces and the "reaction of Turkey's public opinion". i.e. the strengthening of anti-American and anti-Jewish moods and finally - derailing the Turkish-Armenian dialogue which, actually, doesn't exist.
We have already pointed out that these threats pose no danger to anyone, but when the Turkish Prime Minister Ali Babajan, who was on a visit in Cyprus on October 6 "laid down the cards", it became clear that the matter was more serious. The Turkish Prime Minister obviously threatened the Jewish lobby with a new Jewish Holocaust, a fact that is an extremely serious signal and cannot remain unnoticed.
Mentioning that the Armenian and Jewish lobbyists of the United States have joint their efforts against Turkey, the "Europeanized Turk" representing Turkey in the EU-Turkey negotiations made the following statement, "We cannot explain to the people why it turned out so. We have said that we won't be able to keep the Jewish community away from all this."
Let's remind you that Sultan Hamid used to "justify" the massacres of the Greeks, Bulgarians and Armenians by exactly the same arguments: "not interfering in Turkeys domestic affairs" and passing relevant resolutions. It turns out that at the beginning of the 21st century, the "Europeanized" Foreign Minister of Turkey reiterates the words of the bloodthirsty Sultan Hamid and warns that in case the Armenian Genocide is recognized by Congress, he will be unable to restrain the anger of the "Muslim crowd", and Jewish massacres will occur.
Clearly, it is not accidental that the "Europeanized Turk" uncovers his mask and demonstrates his real Sultan-originated nature.
All the promise the US President and State Secretary have given to Turkey with regard to restraining the to Congress Chambers, were accompanied by the reservation that they do not have the required majority among the US legislators to reject the issue of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
And the argument of endangering America's national interests, something that may prevent the nearest voting, has already been dissipated by the Democrats, due to the humanitarian arguments brought by Stany Hoyen on October 5, as well as by the denial of the issue of holding the present-day Turkish authorities accountable for the failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Therefore, in order to prevent the resolution from being adopted, Ankara is making despaerate, however, adventurous steps: it is blackmailing the Jewish lobby, with a threat of orchestrating a new Holocaust in Turkey.
The reason is obvious. The Jewish lobby has a tremendous impact among the Democrats and inside the Administration, and it is the only real force that can influence the attitudes of Nancy Pelosy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and her party members. It can influence if, after hearing Ali Babajan's desperate threats, it forgets about Adol Hitlers 1939 command that marked the beginning of the Jewish Holocaust. According to that command, it is possible to undertake the extermination of the Jews, as nobody currently remembers what happened to the Armenians.
History turns out to be repeating itself in the opposite succession of events, and overlooking the tragedies of one nation poses a threat to the existence of the other. And this situation will continue unless the things are called by their real name, and the perpetrators stand the trial of history.
And Ali Babajan's misanthropic statements threatening the Jews with a new Holocaust must not be overlooked by us, and must not be viewed purely as a sign of the agony of the Turkish denial policy. It is first of all the Foreign Ministry of Armenia that has to raise a protest and demand that the international community make a political assessment on the present-day Sultan Hamid's statement as well as prohibit his entrance to the United States.
Us Frets Over Turkey Ties As Armenia 'Genocide' Vote Looms
October 10, 2007
The US administration, warning of "grave harm" to sensitive ties with Turkey, is lobbying hard to avert a congressional resolution labeling the Ottoman massacre of Armenians a "genocide."
Officials warned that the resolution, which was due to be debated by a House of Representatives committee Wednesday, would hurt US forces in Iraq given their reliance on passage through the territory of NATO ally Turkey.
Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, the State Department's third-ranking official, spent all Tuesday lobbying House members against the resolution, according to a senior department official.
Last week, a White House spokesman said President George W. Bush believed that "the determination of whether or not the events constitute a genocide should be a matter for historical inquiry, not legislation."
Turkey has already warned that passage of the non-binding resolution could force it to bar the United States from a key military base in its south.
But the measure has strong backing in the House, where the Armenians' plight during World War I has been likened to the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews.
The resolution authored by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, whose California district contains the country's largest ethnic-Armenian community, has won the backing of at least 226 co-sponsors in the 435-seat House.
"The United States has a compelling historical and moral reason to recognize the Armenian genocide, which cost a million and a half people their lives," Schiff said.
"But we also have a powerful contemporary reason as well -- how can we take effective action against the genocide in Darfur if we lack the will to condemn genocide whenever and wherever it occurs?" he said.
The resolution was set to be discussed by the House foreign affairs committee later Wednesday, and its passage there would likely be followed by a full vote with the backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A similar measure is pending in the Senate, with both chambers highlighting the issue anew after an Armenia "genocide" draft was withdrawn from the House floor in October 2000 at the intervention of then president Bill Clinton.
Turkey categorically rejects Armenians' claims that 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in systematic deportations and killings during 1915-1918 as the Ottoman Empire was breaking up.
The parliaments of many countries including France have called the killings genocide, and Turkey has responded by temporarily cutting political and economic ties with some of them.
Turkey argues instead that 250,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia during World War I.
For the US administration, at stake is the fate of relations with a prickly, Muslim-majority ally whose support has been crucial to facilitating the transport of non-combat material to Iraq and Afghanistan.
US-Turkey ties have already been strained by Ankara's anger over cross-border raids against its forces by Kurdish rebels operating out of their safe haven in northern Iraq.
Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said last week that passage of the House resolution would provoke an "extremely strong" reaction from Turkey.
"And we think it would do grave harm, both to US-Turkish relations and to US interests, including damage to our forces deployed in Iraq, which rely on passage through Turkey," he said.
Late last month, all eight former US secretaries of state still alive wrote to Pelosi urging her to withdraw her support of the Armenia measure.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian responded that it was "quite unfortunate that eight experienced diplomats would buy into Turkish manipulation."
Armenia Doesn’t Have Territorial Claims To Its Neighbors
10.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ European Parliamentarians queried Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian whether Armenia would seek territorial and compensation claims along the lines of recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
While denying any territorial claims, Minister Oskanian pointed to the Treaty of Kars, which regulates the border between Turkey and Armenia. “Since this treaty has never been renounced or replaced after the fall of the Soviet regime and our independence, the borders are clearly demarcated according to it. Therefore, Turkey has no reason to be concerned,” Oskanian said.
He added that since Armenia does not have such pre-conditions to start governmental dialogue, Turkey also has to withdraw its pre-condition of Armenia renouncing ‘genocide claims’ to start dialogue between the two countries.
Oskanian added that Turkey’s other pre-condition on the Nagorno Karabakh issue is also unacceptable since this is a bilateral problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
AAA released Video Documenting Historical Truth Of Armenian Genocide
10.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Assembly of America released a video which documents the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.
The video can be viewed on website http://www.youtube.com/armenianassembly
“As the Turkish Government continues to send delegations of deniers to be heard in the halls of Congress, we must make the truth heard even louder,” the AAA statement said.
“With today’s vote at 1:30 PM EST, we must ensure that the truth prevails. Please share this video with your Member of Congress and their staff and URGE your Representative to vote "Yes without amendment" on H. Res. 106,” it said.
AAA urges House Committee To Pass Armenian Genocide Resolution
10.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Assembly of America strongly encouraged members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to approve H. Res. 106, which would affirm the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.
In a letter to Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny asked Members of Congress to affirm the truth and not to allow a foreign government to dictate to Congress. The government of Turkey has pressured President Bush and Congress not to vote on the genocide measure – despite its overwhelming bi-partisan support.
“These threats from Turkey are totally irresponsible and have no place in this debate,” said Ardouny. “No U.S. ally should withhold vital support in the war against terror just because it doesn’t get its way on Capitol Hill. Turkey has held the U.S. hostage on this issue long enough.”
Ardouny said that the Assembly is working vigorously for passage of H. Res. 106, including talking with lawmakers and staff, phone banking and alerting its nationwide membership about the pending vote.
The resolution has the support of 227 members of the House and is scheduled for a vote October 10 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Supporters of the resolution expect approval by the committee.
Armenian Genocide Bill Constrains Bilateral Relations
October 11, 2007, ELIF ÖZMENEK, NEW YORK-Turkish Daily News
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress was set to vote yesterday on a resolution that would declare the World War I-era killings of Armenians an act of genocide.
Although the resolution has no binding effect on U.S. foreign policy, if approved it will further strain already tense Turkish-U.S. relations, due to Turkey's plans to conduct a cross-border military operation to chase outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists in northern Iraq, a move opposed by Washington.
The vote on the measure opposed by the Bush administration was scheduled for late yesterday evening Turkish time. The likelihood of the Committee's approving the resolution was regarded as high when the Turkish Daily News went to print yesterday a couple of hours before voting commenced. However, there was also a possibility for the vote to be postponed to next week. The bill seemed to have enough support on the committee for passage, but the majority was slight and some backers said they feared that Turkish pressure would narrow it further, according to the Associated Press. Most Republicans were expected to vote against the resolution, the AP reported yesterday.
If the measure is not approved by the Committee Ankara will take a deep breath at least for another year. If, on the other hand, the resolution is approved then relations between Ankara and Washington will further be strained as this will lead to a floor vote in the House. There are four possible scenarios if the bill is approved.
In the first scenario the House has the option not to put the bill to a vote. However, the resolution's supporters believed the prospects of the bill being put to a floor vote have brightened after Democrats took control of Congress this year and Nancy Pelosi, who backs the measure, became speaker. Since Pelosi personally promised her constituency to follow up on this issue it is very unlikely that the bill will not be put to a floor vote in the House.
The second scenario is if the House puts the bill to a vote and the president intervenes to withdraw the bill from the House floor. A similar draft resolution before Congress was withdrawn from the floor twice before in 2000 and 2005. However, this time President Bush has very little, if any, influence on the Democrat controlled House. Furthermore similar resolutions were approved by the House in 1975 and 1984, but did not make it through the Senate. A Senate filibuster blocked a 1990 resolution. Then again the Republicans opposing the bill lost so much weight after Democrats took control of Congress.
In the third scenario the House puts the bill to a vote and it gets rejected. Many believe that this is not a very likely scenario once the bill is on the floor. The bipartisan measure currently has 226 co-sponsors – more than a majority in the House and the most support an Armenian genocide resolution has ever received. Therefore observers say that if the bill is on the floor then it has a higher chance of getting approved than previous years.
The final and worse scenario for Turkey is if the House approves the bill. Eight former secretaries of state from Democratic and Republican administrations recently signed a letter to Pelosi warning that passage of the resolution “could endanger our national security interests in the region, including our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and damage efforts to promote reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey.” Ankara on the other has warned that it could consider restricting the U.S. military's use of I.ncirlik air base, a logistics hub for U.S. forces in the Middle East, if the bill is passed.
The timeline for the Foreign Affairs Committee to approve the bill is expected to be Nov. 22, a symbolic day for Armenians. In 1920 President Woodrow Wilson presented his delineation of Armenia's borders right before it was Sovietized by Russian Bolsheviks.
Even if for some reason the bill does not pass this year many believe this is not the end of the story for Turkey. This year or the next, one day this resolution will pass in the U.S. House, say supporters of the Armenian genocide bill.
US Warns Citizens On Possible Violence In Turkey
October 11, 2007, Turkish Daily News
The U.S. State Department has alerted its citizens against possible violence that may arise in Turkey if the controversial bill recognizing the 1915-17 killings of Armenians as ''genocide'' is passed by the U.S. Congress.
The U.S. Embassy in Ankara issued a warning to American citizens in Turkey Monday in case the genocide resolution passes ? despite the disapproval of the U.S. administration ? and makes its way to the House floor for debate and a possible vote.
?The State Department advises U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Turkey to be alert to the potential for demonstrations, and to avoid large gatherings,? it said.
The embassy warned that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.
"American citizens are therefore urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, if possible. Particular caution should be exercised in places known to be frequented by Americans," it said.
Turks staged demonstrations in Ankara following the French parliamentary vote last year that criminalizes any denial of the alleged Armenian genocide. There had been no reports of violence against French citizens.
?For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet Web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found,? the embassy said.
Turks March To US Embassy To Protest Genocide Bill
October 11, 2007, C. ONUR ANT, The Associated Press
Hundreds of Turks marched Wednesday to the U.S. Embassy and consulate in Turkey to protest a U.S. bill declaring the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide.
The demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara came a day after the United States Embassy urged its citizens to be alert for possible violence if a committee in the House of Representatives votes later Wednesday in favor of the genocide bill - a move that would be considered an insult by most Turks.
Members of the left-wing Workers' Party protested the bill in front of the embassy in Ankara, chanting anti-American slogans, an embassy official said. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Nusret Senem, a party official, as saying that the "genocide claim was an international, imperialist and a historical lie.
The protesters later left books - which they said were written by Armenian historians and politicians who also believe a genocide did not happen - in front of the embassy on the sidewalk.
A group of about 200 people staged a similar protest in front of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, private NTV television said. The group dispersed after leaving similar books in front of the consulate building.
Fearing an increase in anti-American feeling, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara urged its citizens on Tuesday to avoid demonstrations over the genocide measure, which is likely to make its way to the house floor.
The Turkish anger over the bill has long prevented a thorough domestic discussion of what happened to a once sizable Armenian population under Ottoman rule.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide between 1915-17, before modern Turkey was born in 1923.
Turkey says the killings occurred at a time of civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and that the numbers are inflated.
Turkey's political leadership and the head of state have told U.S. President George W. Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that passing the bill could strain U.S.-Turkey ties, already stretched by Washington's unwillingness to help Ankara crack down on Kurdish rebels holed up in Iraq.
"If a country passes a bill that harms Turkey, then we should make a move that will counter it," said Onur Oymen, deputy chairman of the main opposition party in Turkey. "More than 70 percent of logistical support to U.S. operations in Iraq is done through Turkey."
When Washington started an arms embargo against Turkey in 1975, due to a dispute over Cyprus, Turkey ended all its logistical support to the U.S. troops and intelligence until the embargo was lifted, Oymen said.
Many in the United States also fear that a public backlash in Turkey -a key NATO ally- could lead to restrictions on crucial supply routes through Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the closure of Incirlik, a strategic air base in Turkey used by the U.S. Air Force.
Turkey Slams US House Panel Over “genocide” Bill
October 11, 2007, Turkish Daily News
In a midnight statement to semi-official Anatolia news agency President Abdullah Gül denounced as “unacceptable” the endorsement of a measure branding as “genocide” the alleged Ottoman massacres of Armenians by a key U.S. House panel.
“This unacceptable decision of the committee... has no validity and respectability for the Turkish people. Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States ignored appeals for common sense and once again moved to sacrifice big issues to petty games of domestic politics," Gül said.
A group of protestors marched to U.S. Embassy in Ankara to protest the development.
In Washington President George W. Bush said at the White House shortly before the committee voted on the bill that "This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror.” The non-binding measure, which passed the Democratic-led House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee by 27 votes to 21, will now be sent on to the full House for a possible vote.
Turkey denies the killings were genocide. It argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia during World War I and sided with Russian troops invading the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
Finally A Single Determined Voice
October 11, 2007, Mehmet Ali Birand
The longing to hear the pure, united voice of a determined state is finally at an end. It’s not enough, however. There’s also the coordination to establish and the dialogue to continue. Otherwise, we’ll only be marking time.
In yesterday's column, I complained at length about the absence of dialogue and coordination at the summit of our state, and finally about the lack of effective official policies. In fact, this situation distresses everybody. The great loss of time, especially since Öcalan was caught in 1999, has brought us to these days. The decisions made during the terror summit that met Tuesday were breaths of fresh air after eight years. This is the first time we are in the presence of a unified and determined state. We relaxed a little. Now, the important question is how long will this state of affairs last? Will today's harmony last until tomorrow? Will the dialogue and coordination continue? For if they don't, we'll never be able to cope with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). We'll only be fooling ourselves. There's another point that I'd like to mention. Let's avoid suffocating the military with cries of “hot pursuit” and “cross-border operation.” Neither hot pursuits nor cross-border operations are enough to end PKK terror. All they will accomplish will be to admonish the PKK and to soothe public opinion. Let's be aware of this fact and act accordingly. Let's not wear ourselves out unnecessarily. Let's not take the easy way out.
Bush lobbies for Turkey…
A close observation of the recent developments in Washington would leave anybody with an open mouth. The same Bush administration that chilled and angered us with its occupation of Iraq and its indifferent attitude towards the PKK now delivers an unheard-of battle for Turkey. I had witnessed a similar lobbying effort in 1978, when the Carter administration had fought to lift the embargo placed on Turkey on account of Cyprus. Washington is like a battlefield at the moment. As you read these lines tomorrow, we'll know if the Foreign Relations Commission passed the Armenian Project or not. In any case, a full-blown battle is being fought in Washington…On one side are the Armenians, trying to use the 2008 elections to finally push the genocide project through the Congress. They used every possible political weapon to reach their end. They tried to win congress members to their side through financial aid or political pressure. They were very successful and enlisted the support of 225 members.On the other side is the Turkish lobby, hard at work to stop the Armenians. This time, it is very strong. President Bush, the White House Staff, Pentagon and the foreign affairs ministry have joined forces with the usual lobbying team of the Turkish Embassy, Turkish associations and American investors in Turkey. “This campaign is a first” said a Turkish official and stated that President Bush had organised an incredible resistance. He had former state secretaries and defence ministers write letters, and he met with Congress members. However, House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi continued her stubborn attitude until the last minute. Now, everything depends on her, for she determines the commission's agenda. We shall see the results today. Something you should know though: Even if it's stopped this time, the Armenian Project is bound to go through next year. In my opinion, we'll never get rid of it…Let's be prepared…
What made Bush move?
People watch the big operation in Washington and wonder, “Why?”What pushed the Bush administration into such activity?Let there be no misinterpretations. Turkey never officially threatened Washington. It never sent messages to the effect that Turkey would close Incirlik or take other measures if the project was approved. All messages were transmitted through unofficial channels and, all they said was that relations would suffer unnecessarily. Circles close to the White House say that in fact, the Bush Administration wasn't late, but had taken timely action in order to avoid negative reactions of the Turkish public and government in case the project passed through. I am sure that the embarrassment of having done nothing about the PKK also played a role in this operation. The Bush administration is disturbed by its failure to take any steps in north Iraq despite having qualified the PKK as a terrorist group, and has no wish to see the Armenian project on the list of its ''sins.'' In short, the situation makes it difficult for Ankara to react against the Bush administration.
What will the project cost Turkey?
How would Turkey be harmed by the American Congress' approval of the Armenian genocide? The approval of the project by the commission and the House of Representatives will still not transform it into a binding act for the White House. It will remain as “point of view” that reflects “how the Congress feels.” That's why it will never go to the Senate. The White House will not have to apply anything that the project says. In spite of the non-binding nature of the project, however, Turkey will still lose considerable prestige. Armenian allegations will gain credibility. It will make it easier for Armenians to pressurise the European parliaments into approving the project. Turkey will be hurt even if it suffers no financial loss. The reason for this will be Turkey's idle attitude and its failure to take any steps to prevent this for years. Ankara must stop blaming others and must admit to being largely responsible for the consequences.
*The translation of M.A.Birand's column is provided by Nuran Inanç. firstname.lastname@example.org
Armenia 'genocide' vote is snub to Bush
By Daniel Dombey in Washington
Updated: 1:42 a.m. ET Oct. 11, 2007
US legislators on Wednesday defied the Bush administration and angered the Turkish government when they voted to describe the mass killings of Armenians more than eight decades ago as genocide.
The 27-21 decision by the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, which paves the way for a vote in the full House in coming weeks, came in spite of a warning from George W. Bush, president, and his top officials that co-operation with Turkey and the fate of US troops in Iraq could be at stake.
It also comes as the US seeks to convince Turkey not to carry out a large-scale military incursion into northern Iraq to crack down on Kurdish militants.
Proponents of the measure, which has vigorous support from the Armenian-American population, argue that its call for Mr Bush to "accurately characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5m Armenians as genocide" is essential to putting the historical record straight.
"The sad truth is that the modern government of Turkey refuses to come to terms with this genocide," said Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey, at an emotionally charged session attended by four survivors of the mass killings that began in 1915.
"Let us do this and be done with it," said Representative Brad Sherman of California. "We will get a few angry words out of Ankara for a few days, and then it's over."
But only hours before the committee voted Mr Bush warned that passage of the resolution "would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror".
According to US commanders in Iraq, including Gen David Petraeus, Robert Gates, defence secretary, said: "Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will." He added that about 70 per cent of US air cargo going into Iraq went through Turkey.
US officials say passage of the resolution by the full House will make Washington's bid to convince Turkey not to launch a military incursion into Iraq much harder. Public outrage against the Kurdish separatist PKK has flared in the wake of an attack in which 13 soldiers were killed on Sunday.
Washington's push for Turkey take a more collaborative approach on combating PKK has also been complicated by the resignation of Joseph Ralston, the retired US general who had been seeking to increase Washington-Ankara co-operation against the militant group.
"For his own reasons he decided that he was going to be moving on," said Sean McCormack, state department spokesman, this week. "Any continuing presence of the PKK or the continuing activities of the PKK is not because what he did or did not do." He added that he was not yet aware of a possible replacement for Gen Ralston.
Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.
Turkey condemns US Armenia vote
Turkey has denounced a vote by a US congressional committee recognising as genocide the 1915-17 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.
President Abdullah Gul said the decision was unacceptable and had no validity for Turkey, which has always denied any genocide took place.
The White House said it was very disappointed by the non-binding vote.
It fears Turkey could now limit co-operation in the war on terror and provision of military bases near Iraq.
The genocide bill passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee by 27 votes to 21 - the first step towards holding a vote in the House of Representatives.
Divisions within the committee crossed party lines with eight Democrats voting against the measure and eight Republicans voting for it.
President Bush had argued against a vote in favour of the bill, saying "its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror".
Turkey is a regional operational hub for the US military, and some suggest access to Incirlik airbase, or other supply lines crucial to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, could be cut in response.
President Gul was quick to attack the vote late on Wednesday evening, saying that some US politicians had "closed their ears to calls to be reasonable and once again sought to sacrifice big problems for small domestic political games".
"This unacceptable decision of the committee, like similar ones in the past, is not regarded by the Turkish people as valid or of any value," Mr Gul said, according to the Anatolian news agency.
The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says it is very unusual to hear such high-level political reaction so late at night - a sign of how seriously it takes this.
Meanwhile in Washington the US Undersecretary of State, Nicholas Burns, told the BBC that the Bush administration was "deeply disappointed".
"The United States recognises the immense suffering of the Armenian people due to mass killings and forced deportations at the end of the Ottoman Empire," he said.
"We support a full and fair accounting of the atrocities that befell as many as 1.5m Armenians during World War I, which House Resolution 106 does not do."
Correspondents say the committee's vote means that only a change of heart by the opposition Democrats, who control Congress, can now stop a full vote on the bill.
Tom Lantos, the committee's chairman, had opened the debate by admitting the resolution posed a "sobering" choice.
"We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people... against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the United States armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are currently paying," he said.
Mr Lantos, a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, said he would introduce a resolution praising US-Turkish friendship next week, according to AFP news agency.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to take up their version of the resolution in the future.
The controversy comes at a delicate time for relations between Turkey and the United States, our correspondent says.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed that the Turkish parliament could discuss a motion as soon as Thursday that would authorise cross border military incursions into northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish PKK separatists.
The move comes after an escalation in attacks by the PKK killed almost 30 soldiers and civilians in just over a week.
Mr Erdogan said such authorisation, which would be valid for one year, would ensure all options were available to Turkey in its fight against the PKK.
That includes sending troops into northern Iraq, where the prime minister said more than 3,000 PKK fighters are based. The government is under immense pressure though to act, but Washington has warned Ankara against any unilateral moves that would destabilise Iraq even further.
After the Armenian vote in Congress, our correspondent says, Turkey will be far less inclined to heed instructions from the US on anything.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/10/11 04:21:41 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Turkish president protests U.S. approval of genocide bill
The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
ISTANBUL, Turkey: Turkey's head of state protested a U.S. congressional panel decision to approve a bill calling the World War I-era killings of Armenians a genocide, saying the decision came as a result of "petty domestic politics."
Despite earlier protests Wednesday in Turkey and opposition by U.S. President George W. Bush, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill by a 27-21 vote — a move likely to be considered an insult by most Turks.
Bush had warned that the bill could harm U.S.-Turkish relations.
"Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once again sacrificed important matters to petty domestic politics despite all calls to commonsense," President Abdullah Gul was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency Anatolia.
"This unacceptable decision by the committee, like its predecessors, has no validity or respectability for the Turkish nation," Gul said.
Egemen Bagis, a foreign policy adviser to Turkey's prime minister, told Turkish private NTV television early Thursday that he was disappointed by the vote.
"This is a result that Turkey does not deserve. From now on, our effort will be to stop this measure from coming to the house floor, or even if it does, (our effort will be to) stop this from passing there," Bagis said.
Bush had urged Congress to reject legislation, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates also conveyed their concerns.
Passing the measure "at this time would be very problematic for everything we are trying to do in the Middle East," Rice told reporters at the White House hours before the vote
On Wednesday, hundreds of Turks marched to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the consulate in Istanbul to protest the bill.
The U.S. Embassy, meanwhile, urged its citizens to be alert for possible violence after the vote, amid fears of an increase in anti-American feeling in Turkey.
Members of Turkey's left-wing Workers' Party on Wednesday chanted anti-American slogans in front of the U.S. Embassy, an embassy official said. They left books on the sidewalk in front of the embassy, saying they were written by Armenian historians and politicians who also believed a genocide did not happen.
The state-run Anatolia news agency quoted party official Nusret Senem as saying the "genocide claim was an international, imperialist and a historical lie."
A group of about 200 people staged a similar protest in front of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, also leaving similar books on the sidewalk out front, private NTV television said.
The Turkish anger over the bill has long prevented a thorough domestic discussion of what happened to a once sizable Armenian population under Ottoman rule.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide between 1915-17, before modern Turkey was born in 1923.
Turkey says the killings occurred at a time of civil unrest as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and that the numbers are inflated.
Turkey's political leadership and the head of state have told both Bush and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that passing the bill could strain U.S.-Turkey ties, already stretched by Washington's unwillingness to help Ankara crack down on Kurdish rebels holed up in Iraq.
"If a country passes a bill that harms Turkey, then we should make a move that will counter it," said Onur Oymen, deputy chairman of the main opposition party in Turkey. "More than 70 percent of logistical support to U.S. operations in Iraq is done through Turkey."
After France voted last year to make it a crime to deny the killings were genocide, the Turkish government ended its military ties with that country.
When Washington started an arms embargo against Turkey in 1975, due to a dispute over Cyprus, Turkey ended all its logistical support to the U.S. troops and intelligence until the embargo was lifted, Oymen said.
Many in the United States also fear that a public backlash in Turkey — a key NATO ally — could lead to restrictions on crucial supply routes through Turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the closure of Incirlik, a strategic air base in Turkey used by the U.S. Air Force.
Bush And Congress Dispute Armenian 'Genocide' Status
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington 11 October 2007
A Congressional committee last night defied George Bush, voting through a resolution describing the 1915 slaughter of Armenians as a genocide – a move the White House says would severely damage relations with Turkey, a vital ally in the Iraq war.
"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings," the President told reporters, hours before the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to consider the measure. Instead, the majority-Democrat panel passed it by 27 votes to 21. Barring an abrupt about-face by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has long backed the resolution, it will now come to a vote by the full House. There, 226 members, more than a majority, have already signed up as co-sponsors.
In one sense, the showdown is a re-run of an argument that has periodically endangered ties between Washington and Ankara. But as joint letters to Ms Pelosi from all eight living former secretaries of state and three former defense secretaries testify, rarely have the diplomatic stakes been higher, and never have the prospects of passage been greater.
The confrontation between the White House and Congress comes at the worst possible moment, just as the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is close to authorising a major incursion into northern Iraq to strike Kurdish rebels, after 15 Turkish soldiers were killed in fighting in recent days.
Last week, Mr Erdogan telephoned Mr Bush to complain about the Armenian resolution, and warn that, if it passed, Turkey would take retaliatory action. Reprisals could bring a slowdown or even halt to supplies to US forces in Iraq that currently transit through Incirlik airbase in eastern Turkey, and possibly see the withdrawal of thousands of Turkish workers and support staff in Iraq.
"This is a choice between condemning genocide and endangering our soldiers in Iraq," was how Tom Lantos, Democratic chairman of the House committee and himself a Jewish Holocaust survivor, summed up the dilemma. For its part, the White House is pleading with Mr Erdogan not to send troops into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq, and risk destabilising the country's most peaceful region.
Passage of the resolution would inflict "great harm to our relations with a key ally in Nato and in the global war on terror," Mr Bush stressed yesterday. In their letter, the former secretaries of state warned that, although the resolution is non-binding, its passage would " endanger our national security interests".
Ankara has spared no effort either. A high-level delegation from its parliament has been on Capitol Hill this week, warning that military co-operation would be jeopardised. The Turkish embassy is paying more than $300,000 (£150,000) a month to top lobbying firms to achieve that end.
The crucial language in the resolution – officially titled the Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide – calls on Mr Bush, in his traditional annual presidential message delivered every 24 April on the events of 90 years ago, to "accurately characterise the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide."
The Turks flatly reject such a description, claiming instead that, although hundreds of thousands of Armenians may have perished, the deaths resulted from forced movements of population and fighting as the Ottoman Empire collapsed during the First World War. Vast numbers of Turks also died, they say.
Genocide, says Nabi Sensoy, the ambassador to the US, "is the greatest accusation of all against humanity. You cannot expect any nation to accept that label."
No one is in a trickier position than Ms Pelosi. Her San Francisco district has a large Armenian population, and she has long called for passage of a resolution specifically condemning genocide. Now she faces a choice between defying the White House, and backing down.
Deaths In WWI Era Embroil Congress
A finding of genocide could seriously affect U.S. interests today.
By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer October 11, 2007
WASHINGTON - You probably haven't spent much time pondering the massacre of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago, and whether it was really genocide.
But the question has Congress tied in knots.
After a four-hour hearing Wednesday, pro-Armenian forces in the House won the Foreign Affairs Committee's approval of a resolution that would brand the Turks' violence against their Armenian neighbors during World War I as genocide.
The resolution is expected to reach the full House later this fall, forcing a long-delayed showdown between Turkey and its U.S. allies, including the White House, and the Democrat-led Congress, which these days has eyes for the Armenians.
The question of whether the Armenians were victims of an organized extermination campaign has been bitterly disputed for decades by Turkey, which contends the Armenians were simply collateral damage in a brutal war.
But the battle over the distinction in the House serves as a classic example of how a seemingly parochial matter can roil Washington, and how even symbolic actions - the resolution has no binding effect - by Congress can affect U.S. interests halfway across the globe.
-Turkey, a crucial U.S. ally in Iraq and Afghanistan, has hired former Democratic House leader Dick Gephardt and former prominent House Republican Bob Livingston to lobby.
-The relatively small but impassioned Armenian-American community has bombarded members of Congress with phone calls and e-mails, and the leading Armenian advocacy group has put a three-minute video about the massacres on YouTube.
-The Bush administration is begging Congress to back off, for fear of alienating a crucial Muslim ally. In a letter to Congress, all eight living former secretaries of state concurred with the administration's concerns.
What most of the world now regards as the Armenian genocide traces its beginning to 1914, in World War I, when Armenian guerillas attacked Turkish supply lines as the Ottomans invaded Russia's frontier.
Armenian battalions also fought with the Russian army against the Turks. After an Armenian uprising in the town of Van in 1915, the Turks were convinced that the Armenians living among them constituted a major threat. They moved to neutralize it.
Before the war, Armenians within the Ottoman Empire numbered 2-million. By 1922, the population was nearly nil. As many as 1.5-million were killed outright or died en route to camps in Syria, and 500,000 were exiled, making the Armenians one of the world's most displaced peoples. The Turkish government disputes the death toll, saying it was closer to 500,000.
France, Sweden, Italy, Argentina, Canada and other nations have officially condemned the "Armenian genocide." In a recent letter to Congress, the International Association of Genocide Scholars says the genocide was "unambiguous and documented by overwhelming evidence."
In 2005, the Turkish government called for the creation of a joint Turkish-Armenian commission to research the historical record and determine, once and for all, what happened. It promised to open its documents to scrutiny and invited outside scholars to join.
But the Armenians showed no interest. For them, there was nothing more to discuss.
Old issue in Congress
Congress has been wrestling with this for three decades. Various forms of a resolution condemning the Armenian genocide have been proposed since the 1980s, but relations with Turkey have always won out.
The resolution came up most recently two years ago, passing the House Foreign Affairs Committee easily. But with Republicans in control and President Bush opposed, there was no intention to bring it to the floor.
That changed when Democrats regained control of Congress in January and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a longtime supporter of condemning the Armenian genocide, became speaker of the House.
Full House to debate
Bryan Ardouny and his group, the Armenian Assembly of America, had been laying the groundwork for Wednesday's vote for years. They had worked with 53 other nonprofit and human rights groups to build support in Congress.
By the start of Wednesday's hearing, 226 members of the House had signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors - more than half the entire House.
"Members of Congress know, and certainly the ones we work with year in and year out know, how important this is to the Armenian community, and we make sure our constituents are weighing in and making their voices heard," Ardouny said.
But the Armenians' passion is matched by Turkey's. Turkey agreed to pay DLA Piper, Gephardt's lobbying firm, $100,000 a month to fight the resolution.
Gephardt recently arranged meetings for the Turkish ambassador to Washington, Nabi Sensoy, with Pelosi and other top Democrats. He and Livingston also worked members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., described as a "ferocious lobbying effort."
In the end, even committee members who opposed the resolution stridently agreed that, yes indeed, a genocide occurred. But, they argued, America's relationship with Turkey is just too important to risk for the sake of condemning what happened more than 90 years ago at the hands of a government that no longer exists.
"We have to look at the here and the now," said Rep. David Scott, D-Ga.
The resolution's supporters, however, prevailed by arguing that America's allegiance to Turkey was no excuse. At least three members, including Sherman, recalled Adolf Hitler, who told his staff that the world would tolerate Germany's extermination of the Jews because "who today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Wednesday's bipartisan 27-21 vote essentially guarantees a vote by the full House, probably next month, a spokesman for Pelosi said. An identical resolution has been filed in the Senate as well.
"Let us do this and be done with it," Sherman said. "We'll get a few angry words out of Ankara for a couple days, then it will be over."
Sensoy, the Turkish ambassador, was sitting in a reserved seat in the second row of the audience. He considered Sherman's remarks and said, "I hope he would see that he is wrong."
Wes Allison can be reached at email@example.com or (202) 463-0577.
Genocide Resolution Advances
October 11, 2007
By Jon Ward - A House committee rejected warnings from the Bush administration yesterday and approved a resolution condemning Turkey for committing genocide against Armenians during World War I, an act the White House said could jeopardize military operations in the Middle East.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee voted 27-21 in favor of the resolution, which will go to the House floor for a full vote in mid-November, Democratic leaders said.
"I just don't know how many people can be destroyed before that word [genocide] can be applied," said Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, New York Democrat. "Our friends in Turkey have to understand that they can get beyond this."
But White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said President Bush was "very disappointed" with the result. "The president made it clear that this resolution could cause grave harm to U.S.-Turkish relations," he said. "We will continue to oppose this resolution."
The White House yesterday used its biggest guns to argue that a resolution could provoke Turkey to cut off U.S. access to its Incirlik Air Base — a key component of resupply routes for the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Bush spoke in a hastily arranged statement to reporters. "We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915," he said. But "this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings."
Turkish President Abdullah Gul quickly denounced the resolution as "unacceptable."
"Unfortunately some politicians in the United States of America have closed their ears to calls to be reasonable and once again sought to sacrifice big problems for small domestic political games," the state news agency Anatolian quoted him today as saying.
Earlier yesterday, Mr. Bush met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, and then sent them to speak with reporters.
"About 70 percent of all air cargo going into Iraq goes through Turkey. About a third of the fuel that [U.S. troops] consume comes from Turkey," Mr. Gates said.
Mr. Gates said U.S. military commanders raised concerns about the resolution because "they believe clearly that access to air fields and to roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will."
Miss Rice said the military commanders "asked us to do everything we could to make sure this does not pass" and said "we are very dependent on a good Turkish strategic ally to help with our efforts" in Iraq.
The Armenian National Institute estimates that about 1.5 million Armenians were killed at the hands of the Turks or died from Turkish persecution between 1915 and 1923.
Democrats downplayed concerns about a Turkish reaction to the resolution, saying their threats will turn out to be false.
"We will get a few angry words out of Ankara for a few days, and then it's over," said Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, said the resolution "was about another government at another time, and should not be perceived ... as a reflection on the present government, the Turkish people or their present posture."
Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, was irate. "I just don't understand why we're going to cut our nose off, shoot ourselves in the foot at a time when we need this ally," he said.
The committee hearing drew a standing-room only crowd that included Turkish officials and four elderly Armenian women who sat in wheelchairs at the front of the room, wearing stickers that read, "I am a survivor of the Armenian genocide."
One of the women Sirarpi Khoyan, 102, who was born in Istanbul, said "there's no two ways about" whether the Turkish killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 amounted to genocide.
"Of course it was [genocide]," she said.
Analysts: US Congressional Resolution on Armenian Genocide is Symbolic
By Margaret Besheer Washington 10 October 2007
The U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee has narrowly passed a non-binding resolution declaring as a genocide the World War I-era killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. VOA's Margaret Besheer looks at the implications of such a measure.
From 1915 to 1923, Armenians accuse the Ottoman Turks of killing as many as 1.5 million of their people in systematic deportations and killings in a push to drive them out of eastern Turkey.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives foreign affairs committee adopted what is known as a non-binding resolution that declares those mass killings a genocide.
Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University, explains that a non-binding resolution is purely symbolic and does not change U.S. law or policy.
"A non-binding resolution expresses the sentiments or opinion of Congress," said Allan Lichtman. "It could be one house of Congress or both houses of Congress, but it does not actually change policy because it does not have the force of law."
He says non-binding resolutions are not uncommon, especially in matters where Congress does not want to change policy or does not have the necessary votes to do so. Lichtman points to a recent example of a non-binding resolution.
"The House recently passed a non-binding resolution opposing the troop surge by the Bush administration in Iraq," he said. "That obviously was very hotly debated and very hotly contested even though it had nothing to do with stopping the president from putting into effect the troop surge."
Wednesday's passage by the foreign affairs committee is a first step to sending the resolution to the entire House of Representatives for a vote. But even if it passes there, it will still have no legal or policy implications.
But despite that, the Turkish government has been very vocal about the resolution, warning that its adoption would severely harm relations between Ankara and Washington.
The Bush administration also strongly opposed the measure. Some 70 percent of air cargo headed for coalition forces in Iraq passes through Turkey as does a third of fuel going to coalition forces in Iraq by road.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (r) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, 10 Oct 2007
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (r) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, 10 Oct 2007
Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States recognizes the tragedy against the Armenian people, but that passage of such a resolution right now would not be helpful to U.S.-Turkish relations and U.S. interests in the region.
"The passage of this resolution would be very destabilizing to our efforts in the Middle East, very destabilizing to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, because Turkey, as an important strategic ally, is very critical in supporting the efforts we are making in these crucial areas," said Condoleezza Rice.
Non-binding resolutions have no formal penalities against the party they censure, but their symbolism can be very contentious. In this case, although the bill is not an indictment of modern Turkey, there are concerns that a public outcry in that country could lead to Ankara placing restrictions on vital supply routes through Turkey into Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as jeopardize U.S. access to a strategic Turkish air base.
Armenian Genocide Resolution Up For Debate
KFSN By Corin Hoggard
10/10/2007 - Despite the president's opposition, a congressional panel has approved a resolution that would recognize the World War I era killings of Armenians as "genocide."
The story begins in the early 20th century when many Armenians died as they were pushed out of modern-day Turkey. Today, Armenians are still fighting for recognition of the genocide and it's an uphill battle because of Turkey's position in the Middle East.
Mgrdich Melkonian's family history mirrors the suffering of more than a million Armenian-Americans today. His grandparents fled the Ottoman Empire before they were killed. One and a half million others weren't as lucky.
Melkonian joined in another shared Armenian experience today, watching President Bush asking members of the house foreign relations committee to vote down a resolution recognizing the genocide. "We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915. But this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings," says President Bush.
Mgrdich Melkonian, Armenian Minister, says "He is our president and we respect him really highly, but we got disappointed because I cannot understand how somebody can sacrifice the truth."
Turkey is a key ally in the war on terrorism, providing a base for American soldiers and air space for American planes heading to Iraq and Afghanistan. Its leaders have threatened to end that relationship if the genocide resolution passes.
Valley legislators say that won't stop them from supporting it. Rep. Jim Costa, Democrat Fresno, says "As the last superpower in the world, we can't be threatened or leveraged because a country doesn't appreciate our desire to stand up for human rights."
The resolution changes nothing except the word American officials use when they talk about what happened to Armenians, but it's a powerful piece of symbolism for Armenians everywhere.
Diko Chekian, Armenian National Committee, says "It's 100 years of denial. It's 100 years of being told we're wrong. It's 100 years of being told we're liars."
Democratic leaders in the house say they will bring the resolution to the full house floor before the end of the year. They say they hope Turkey realizes it's a condemnation of another government at another time.
Copyright KFSN-TV, www.abc30.com, and myabc30.com
US Congressional Committee Approves Armenian Genocide Resolution
By Dan Robinson Washington 10 October 2007
The House of Representatives foreign affairs committee has approved a non-binding resolution calling the massacre of Armenians nearly a century ago a genocide. The vote was 27 to 21. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, President Bush and senior officials in his administration strongly oppose the measure, saying it will damage relations with Turkey and set back U.S. efforts in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
Members of Congress were subjected to two public relations campaigns, one financed by the Turkish government, the other by Armenian-American and other groups supporting the measure.
Turkey has long insisted that Armenians killed during World War I and the years immediately following perished because of clashes stemming from the breakup of the Ottoman Empire rather than from a genocide campaign.
In full page statements published in major U.S. newspapers, the Turkish government characterized the resolution, which would be non-binding if Congress were to pass it, as a biased interpretation of tragedies involving Armenians in the early 20th century.
Armenian-American groups asserted that the resolution would be an important gesture by the U.S. Congress to recognize what they call the fact of the Armenian genocide.
President Bush received a letter from Turkey's president Abdullah Gul warning of harm to bilateral relations if the resolution moves forward in Congress, a view shared by a number of former U.S. secretaries of state and others who appealed to Congress.
Mr. Bush used a White House statement to say that while Americans deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people, a resolution is not the way to address the issue.
"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO, and the global war on terror," he said.
Speaking outside the White House, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice echoed the comments, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates reflected concerns of U.S. military commanders about a potential backlash by Turkey affecting military supply lines.
"Passage of this resolution at this time would indeed be very problematic for everything that we are trying to do in the Middle East because we are very dependent on a good Turkish strategic ally to help with our efforts" said Rice.
"They believe clearly that access to airfield and to the roads and so on in Turkey would be very much put at risk if this resolution passes and the Turks react as strongly as we believe they will," Gates said.
Foreign affairs panel chairman Tom Lantos, a California Democrat, said lawmakers were faced with a difficult choice in what he called a vote of conscience.
"We have to weigh the desire to express our solidarity with the Armenian people and to condemn this historic nightmare through the use of the word genocide against the risk that it could cause young men and women in the uniform of the U.S. armed services to pay an even heavier price than they are now paying," he said.
Republicans Dan Burton and Chris Smith, took opposite views of the issue.
"The strongest ally in the area, and has been for over 50 years, is Turkey, and I just don't understand why we are going to cut our nose off and shoot ourselves in the foot at a time when we need this ally," Burton said.
The issue behind the resolution today is whether any government that denies a genocide, whether or not Congress has a responsibility to insist that our government at the very least acknowledges it. I believe that we do," said Smith.
There were also divisions among Democrats, such as California's Brad Sherman, and Florida's Robert Wexler.
"We cannot provide genocide-denial as one of the perks of friendship with the United States," Sherman said.
"It is clear that America can ill afford to lose the support of an ally as important as Turkey at this critical juncture," said Wexler.
Armenian genocide resolutions have been approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the past, but failed to make it to the full House and never passed through Congress as a whole.
The current measure has strong support from Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer met Wednesday with Turkey's Ambassador to the United States.
The Democratic leaders sought to assure him that the United States remains a strong ally of the Turkey and that the government in Ankara should not view the resolution as a reflection of the Turkish government or people. Congressman Lantos, meanwhile, says he will introduce a resolution next week on U.S.-Turkish friendship.
Democratic leaders intend to bring the Armenian genocide measure to the House floor next month, while a similar measure is pending in the Senate.
Armenian Genocide Bill Hits Close to Glendale Highest U.S. Population of Armenians
KABC By John North
GLENDALE, Oct. 10, 2007 (KABC-TV) - The House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee has approved a resolution recognizing the killing of Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century as genocide. President Bush is against the measure. The local Armenian community reacts.
President Bush was defeated in the first round of an unusual attempt to stop a congressional resolution; one the administration says would set back progress in the Middle East.
The House Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution condemning the World War I-era killing of Armenians by Turks as genocide.
"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings. Its passage would do great harm to our relations to a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror," said President Bush.
One-and-a-half million Armenians were killed. The Turks say it was part of war. But Armenian-Americans and Armenians who watched the hearing say it was a government attempt to slaughter Armenians.
The Glendale area is home to more Armenians than any other place in the United States. They have been pushing for a resolution recognizing the genocide for decades.
"They presume that it will be less headache, less work, less difficulty for them to deal with a Turkey that is obstinately stamping their foot at history and thumbing their nose at human rights," said Haig Hovsepian, community relations director for the Armenian National Committee.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also talked to reporters. They warned that Turkey would block logistical and other support for the Iraq war.
El Segundo Democratic Representative Jane Harman is a co-sponsor of the resolution in the House of Representatives. Over the weekend she reportedly backed down and said she would vote against it.
California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is a strong supporter of the resolution condemning what happened as genocide.
"To remember history is not to repeat it. That's the point. And to embroider this to be more than that is a mistake," said Feinstein.
Some historians call it the first genocide of the 20th century. But now in the 21st century it has become intertwined with a nation's sensitivities, international politics, economics and the war in Iraq.
Copyright © 2007 KABC-TV.
Factbox: Background To Turkish Armenian Massacres Dispute
Wed Oct 10, 2007 5:53pm EDT
(Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a symbolic resolution on Wednesday calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians genocide, despite White House warnings it would damage U.S.-Turkish ties.
Here are some key facts about the issue:
* THE BACKGROUND:
-- In the late 19th century the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority, numbering an estimated 2 million, was encouraged by exiled groups in the United States, Geneva and in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to assert their nationalism.
-- Repression by Ottoman irregulars, mainly Kurds, led to the massacre of some 30,000 Armenians in eastern Anatolia in 1894-1896. Several thousand more were killed in Constantinople in August 1896 after Armenian extremists seized the Ottoman Bank to draw attention to their cause.
-- Their massacres were halted after the Great Powers threatened to intervene.
* WHAT HAPPENED IN 1915:
-- As the Ottomans fought Russian forces in eastern Anatolia during World War One, many Armenians formed partisan groups to assist the invading Russian armies.
-- On April 24, 1915, Turkey arrested and killed hundreds of Armenian intelligentsia. In May of that year Ottoman commanders began mass deportation of Armenians from eastern Turkey thinking they might assist Russian invaders.
-- Thousands were marched from the Anatolian borders toward Syria and Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Armenians say some 1.5 million died either in massacres or from starvation or deprivation as they were marched through the desert.
* TURKEY'S VIEW:
-- Turkey has always denied there was a systematic campaign to annihilate Armenians, saying that thousands of Turks and Armenians died in inter-ethnic violence as the Ottoman Empire started to collapse and fought a Russian invasion of its eastern provinces during World War One.
-- The modern Turkish republic was established in 1923 after the Ottoman empire collapsed.
© Reuters2007All rights reserved
Genocide Bill First Step Toward Restitution, Says Ret. US Ambassador
October 10, 2007
MUSTAFA OGUZ Turkish Daily News
'The Armenians’ absolute rejection (of a joint commission) rather tells me that they don’t really want to have really careful analysis of what happened,' President of the ATC says
A resolution submitted to the United States Congress is a first step by Armenians toward territorial demands from Turkey, warned retired U.S. Ambassador James Holmes in an interview with the Turkish Daily News ahead of a crucial vote in the House today.
“I believe that many in the Diaspora see this in terms of step by step, which is very threatening for Turkey. You finally get the U.S. Congress to say that Turkey is guilty of genocide, step A. Step B, okay, the world now says that Turkey is guilty of genocide. What's the proper compensation for that action?” said Holmes, who is currently president of the American Turkish Council (ATC).
Despite Turkey's efforts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to take the resolution to the Foreign Affairs Committee to start the process of approval. The resolution says Ottoman Turks committed genocide during World War I, killing more than a million Ottoman Armenians during a forced migration.
Restitution, insurance payments and territorial claims are next on the list, said Holmes, noting the reluctance of the Armenian Diaspora to come to grips with the fact that the “genocide cause” is not a disinterested one. “Now some of the Diaspora has been candid enough to say so. Most of them don't. When they go to senators and congressman they don't say these things,” he said.
Stick to the ‘Joint Commission of Historians'
Holmes considered the refusal of Armenia to deliver a positive response to Turkey's offer to set up a commission of historians as its insincerity concerning the discovery of historic facts. “If you really want to address this issue, this (founding a commission of historians) is the way to do it. The Armenians' absolute rejection rather tells me that they don't really want to have careful analysis of what happened,” he said. Holmes urged Turkish authorities to engage in more ardent endeavors for the establishment of the “Joint Commission of Historians” proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an in a letter to Armenian President Robert Kocharyan in 2005.
Notwithstanding the push in Congress for the passage of the bill, Holmes reiterated that the bill is not consistent with the position of the U.S. Administration, as reflected in a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives by the chairman of the American-Turkish Council, Brent Scowcroft. “Our purpose is to draw the attention of the committee members that the bill is not consistent with our foreign policy. It is not in the interest of U.S. national security and it is not a fair treatment of a reliable ally,” Holmes said. The letter warns that the welfare of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan might be jeopardized if the bill passes since Turkey provides a major supply line to them. Commercial relations are very likely to be dealt a serious blow as well, added Holmes.
Holmes did not give up hope that the bill will be rejected, but he is cautious nonetheless. “We will continue to argue in favor of the joint commission of historians but unless we are able to defeat this resolution, the commission won't happen,” he said. Holmes underlined that the bill does not require the president to do anything and argued that it will not have any practical consequences in itself. However, its impact will be great. “The consequence is on Turkey's psyche. It is a finger in the eye for Turkey. Besides, it will have negative commercial consequences,” he said. The resolution must be stopped, said Holmes, since Turkey is “one of our handful of partners with whom the U.S. has this sort of thick relationship.”
US failed its task as an ally
Commenting on Sunday's attacks on Turkish soldiers by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Holmes affirmed that the U.S. did not appreciate fully the intensity with which the PKK problem is felt in Turkey. “The U.S. has not responded to the pain of Turkey in a way that I think an ally should,” he said.
Holmes gave one reason of his own for the discrepancy between the threat perceptions of two Cold-War allies with regard to PKK terrorism. “Turkey and the U.S. on a military to military relationship have been used to each other through the EUCOM (U.S. European Command). But the connection in Iraq is through CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command). It is a different command, command structure and people. Part of the problem is the lack of understanding the Turkish-U.S. relationship faces in CENTCOM's command,” he said.
Whatever the enduring hardships, Turkey must continue its progress toward the West, Holmes said. “Turkey has shared visions and shared values with the U.S. and the West. I think that there is a surpassing of shared interests on the part of Turkey and the U.S. which can overcome these problems,” he said.
Dogu Perinçek's Case Might Challenge Turkish Interests
October 10, 2007 Barcin Yinanc Turkish Daily News
In view of his political background and personality, one would not have expected Dog(u Perinçek, leader of the Turkish Workers' Party, to be in close cooperation with the Turkish state in its campaign against Armenian claims of genocide. At any rate, those who tried to talk to him found a person consenting to everything he is being advised, but doing the exact opposite.
The flamboyant Turkish politician was convicted last spring of breaching Swiss anti-racism laws by saying that the early 20th-century killings of Armenians could not be classed as genocide. He appealed against the verdict to Switzerland's supreme court, which is expected to announce its decision in December. Hence, all the internal judicial remedy will be exhausted. Actually, the judicial process in Switzerland could have been prolonged through certain technical procedures. But Perinçek opted for the fast lane because he wants to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Perinçek's eagerness to go to Strasbourg as soon as possible worries the Turkish government.
The legal experts consulted by the Turkish government are of the view that the Strasbourg based court will convict the Swiss government for breach of freedom of expression. But what happens if the court, in its judgment uses a sentence implying that there is a widespread conviction that mass killings of Armenians in the hands of Ottomans amount to genocide? That judgment would challenge French and Swiss laws criminalizing the denial of genocide. But it might also undermine the Turkish argument that there is no international court decision describing the Armenian killings as genocide.
The basis of this argument is article 6 of the United Nations convention on genocide which foresees that persons charged with genocide should “be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.” The Turkish government has actually been weighting the idea of challenging the French and Swiss laws since, according to article 9 of the Convention, disputes on genocide issues can be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the request of any of the parties involved.What will be the decision of the ICJ, if Turkey challenges the French and Swiss laws, arguing that in view of article 6, they are against international law since there is no decision of an International Court describing Armenian killings as genocide?
The UN's highest court's decision clearing Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide on the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica was seen by Ankara as strengthening the hand of Turkey. According to experts of international law, the decision is based on solid legal arguments. But some also believe that trying to keep European Union doors open to Serbia, politics also played a role in the outcome. Therefore, some reckon “If Turkey applies, the outcome might be negative in order to close the EU door to Turkey.” Taking Armenian claims of genocide to international legal platforms does not provide easy solutions. On the contrary, it looks like it might be highly risky.
FM Oskanian: Article 301 A Barrier To Open Debate On Genocide
October 10, 2007 CANSU ÇAMLIBEL Turkish Daily News
While the United States Congress gears up for a heated debate on the draft Armenian genocide bill, the Armenian government is seeking support on the European front with Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian calling on European Union institutions to acknowledge the “genocide,” a term refuted by Turkey for the events of 1915, during a speech at European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
Oskanian argued if Turkey does not come to terms with its past, its EU accession prospects will face serious difficulties. Referring to the events of 1915 as “the first genocide of the 20th century,'' Oskanian asked the European Union to consider this issue within the framework of human rights.
The Armenian minister also urged the EU Commission to force Turkey to open its borders with Armenia immediately as he described the current border closure as a violation of the Copenhagen criteria. Oskanian said the border closure also negatively affects the relationship between the EU and the Caucasus region. “Turkey's membership to the European Union may come in 10-15 years. Should Armenia wait until then? This is unacceptable,” Oskanian said.
Referring to Turkey's proposal for setting up a commission of historians to discuss the events of 1915, Oskanian said this offer has been used by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an to put Armenia in a difficult position. He said there is no rejection of the offer but current conditions are not suitable for such a discussion. “Think about Article 301 which penalizes referring to the Armenian genocide and insulting “Turkishness.” How would any historian discuss this matter knowing that the sword of 301 is hanging over them?” Oskanian said. He described the border closure as another reason for not taking Turkey's offer seriously.
Oskanian's efforts to blame Article 301 as being a barrier for starting an open debate on the issue does not reflect the whole picture, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Turkish Daily News. A similar law is in affect in Armenia. With a new bill regulating criminal punishment for denial, justification or support of genocide or any crimes against humanity adopted by the Armenian parliament on Oct. 4 2006, it has become impossible for any Armenian citizen or third party in Armenia, to voice a different opinion on Armenian genocide allegations, diplomatic sources said.
European Parliamentarians queried Oskanian whether Armenia would seek territorial and compensation claims along the lines of recognition of genocide. While denying any territorial claims by his country, Oskanian pointed to the Treaty of Kars, which regulates the border between Turkey and Armenia. “Since this treaty has never been renounced or replaced after the fall of the Soviet regime and our independence, the borders are clearly demarcated according to it. Therefore, Turkey has no reason to be concerned,” Oskanian said. He added that since Armenia does not have such pre-conditions to start governmental dialogue, Turkey also has to withdraw its pre-condition of Armenia renouncing genocide claims to start dialogue between the two countries. Oskanian added that Turkey's other pre-condition on the Nagorno-Karabagh issue is also unacceptable since this is a bilateral problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Gül Warns Bush Over Armenian Vote
President Abdullah Gül has written to US President George W. Bush, warning of damage to bilateral ties if Congress backs a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide, his office said yesterday.
“Our president thanked President Bush for his initiatives [to stop the resolution] and drew attention to serious difficulties that will arise in bilateral relations if it is approved,” the statement said. The US House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs is expected to vote for the resolution on Wednesday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a known supporter of the Armenian cause, could then decide to bring it to the House floor for a vote. The Bush administration is opposed to the resolution, but Congress is now dominated by its Democratic opponents. A senior lawmaker of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Egemen Bagis, said in Washington that the resolution, which calls on the US president to ensure that the alleged genocide is reflected in US foreign policy, was a source of “pain and distress” for all US officials who acknowledge the importance of Turkish-US relations and warned Congress that passage of the measure would deal a heavy blow to Turkish-American ties.
Bagis, who is having talks with US Congressmen on a lobbying visit to Washington together with two opposition lawmakers, said the resolution, which he called an initiative by “bigot, racist and nationalist elements” to exploit weaknesses of the US Congress, should be sent where it belongs -- the waste bin. “This is why we are in Washington,” he said.
Bagis was quoted earlier this week as saying that Ankara might cut logistical support to US troops in Iraq if Congress backs the resolutions, but he later appeared to backtrack on his remarks, saying it was not up to him to decide which option Turkey should use in the event the resolution is passed. The bulk of supplies for troops in Iraq pass through Turkey's Incirlik airbase. US firms could also be blocked from winning defense and other contracts if the resolution passes.
Turkey, a NATO ally of Washington, strongly rejects the Armenian position that up to 1.5 million Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I. Ankara says many Muslim Turks as well as Christian Armenians died in inter-ethnic conflict as the Ottoman Empire collapsed. "Somebody should tell the Congressmen what the US would lose in the Middle East and Central Asia if Turkey is lost," Bagis said in an interview with the Anatolia news agency. "If it passes, the resolution will remain a non-binding piece of paper, but it will break the Turkish people's hearts. If it is not passed, that means common sense prevails. Then a new process will begin for wide cooperation, as well as for justice, development and democracy."
Bagis also called on American Jews to help. "It is time for all friends of Turkey to extend contributions," he said. "Turkey will never forget help extended in difficult times."
The Jewish lobby in the United States has traditionally allied itself with Turkey, but Ankara was disappointed when an influential US Jewish group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), revised its long-held stance in August and said the World War I events amounted to a genocide of Armenians. Since then, Turkish officials have warned that passage of the Armenian resolution in the US Congress would harm Turkish-Israeli relations as well.
In an interview published in The Jerusalem Post yesterday, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said the widespread perception in Turkey is that US Jewish organizations have linked up with Armenian groups to "defame" and "condemn" Turkey and warned passage of the resolution would damage Turkish-Israeli ties. "All of a sudden, the perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people, or the Jewish organizations, let's say, and the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey and trying to condemn Turkey and the Turkish people," Babacan said. "This is the unfortunate perception right now in Turkey. So if something goes wrong in Washington, it inevitably will have some influence on relations between Turkey and the US, plus the relations between Turkey and Israel as well."
He did not spell out what specifically he expected from Israel, other than to say, "What we have done is told them the problems, and it is up to them to decide what to do and how to help the situation."
The Jerusalem Post also said Israeli officials in recent days have been in contact with key US congressional officials regarding the issue, briefing them on possible ramifications of the resolution on Turkish-Israeli ties.
Babacan did not answer directly whether he believed the American Jewish organizations were in cooperation with the Armenian organizations to defame Turkey. But, in reference to the ADL's recently well-publicized reversal on the matter, he said: "If we see that, that Jewish organizations are deliberately and in a very comfortable way using the word genocide in a statement, this is a problem for us. This offends Turkey."
Today's Zaman Ankara
Iraq, Iran And The Armenian Resolution - Turkey’s Burgeoning Civil Society And Transforming Foreign Policy
by MEHMET KALYONCU*
Oct. 10, 2007: the date when the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on the so-called genocide resolution is finally set.
The Armenian diaspora is keen to see the long-awaited resolution passing not only in the committee but also in the full House and the Senate, in that order. In the meantime the Senate Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it would be the best option to split Iraq into three autonomous Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions and withdraw, while Ankara is still too busy to realize what this means for Turkish interests in northern Iraq, as it is overwhelmed with the question of whether Turkey is becoming Malaysia or not. Last but not least, the possibility of a military showdown between yet-to-nuclearize Tehran and the Washington-Jerusalem coalition is more real than ever.
The Armenian resolution, the future of Iraq and the looming crisis with Iran are the three foreign policy issues likely to strain relations between Ankara and Washington in the short term. The ways Ankara will have to deal with these issues are quite different from the ways it would normally have done a decade or more ago, for two reasons. First NGOs such as business associations, think tanks and civil society organizations that are able to and do influence both the government's domestic and foreign policies have proliferated in recent years. Secondly, the Turkish military's institutional democratization, which started with the former chiefs of General Staff Gen. Hüseyin Kivrikoglu and Gen. Hilmi Özkök, has almost matured with current Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit. These two concurrent and ongoing progresses in favor of civil society have changed the way Turkish foreign policy is formulated and the foreign policy decision making process itself.
Ankara: from elite rule to citizen rule
One of the most insightful sources in terms of understanding Turkey is the accounts of foreign correspondents who have covered Turkey for decades while living here; their accounts are critical but yet remain immune to official scrutiny. In his book, "Crescent and Star," former Istanbul Bureau Chief for The New York Times Stephen Kinzer captures the essence of the classical power relation between the elite and the masses that prevailed for decades and depicts the resistance of the former to change: "The ruling elite, however, refuses to embrace this new nation or even admit that it exists. Military commanders, prosecutors, security officers, narrow-minded bureaucrats, lapdog newspaper editors, rigidly conservative politicians and other members of this sclerotic cadre remain psychologically trapped in the 1920s. They see threats from across every one of Turkey's eight borders and, most dangerously, from within the country itself. In their minds Turkey is still a nation under siege. To protect it from mortal danger, they feel obliged to run it themselves. They not only ignore but actively resist intensifying pressure from educated, worldly Turks who want their country to break free of its shackles and complete its march toward the democracy that was Ataturk's dream." Similarly, in their "Turkey Unveiled," referring to the elite's dominance of political and economic sphere, Nicole Pope, who covered Turkey for Le Monde, and Hugh Pope, former Wall Street Journal bureau chief in Istanbul, note that "until the Democrats' victory, the country had been dominated not just by the army but by an elitist and tyrannical bureaucracy whose rule went back to the latter days of the Ottoman empire" and "the attitude of disdain of the educated classes and the state towards the 'little people' is still evident, several decades after the DP's [Democrat Party] success served the bureaucracy its first notice."
In addition to the above-mentioned reasons, the lack of educated individuals skilled in multiple Western languages within the general public who would qualify to join the highly selective diplomatic corps left the Turkish foreign policy making and implementation to a small group of elite members. For the foreign capitals, dealing with Turkey meant simply dealing with that group which had remained generally unchanged, even if the individuals within it changed. However, the late 1990s witnessed a rapid human development within the general public, with increasing numbers of university graduates gaining advanced degrees in the West, and the proliferation of NGOs that directly or indirectly influence both the government's domestic and foreign policy. For this reason, Ankara's foreign policy-making has been different from the past in recent years and will be different from now on with regard to the issues of Iraq, Iran and the Armenian resolution at hand.
The question of Iraq: united versus divided Iraq?
On Sept. 26, the United States Senate passed a non-binding resolution suggesting that the United States should support a political settlement among Iraqis based on a federal system of government, which would create Sunni Arab, Shiite Arab and Kurdish regions with a viable but limited central government in Iraq. Earlier, at one of his town hall meetings for his 2008 Presidential campaign, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), the chief sponsor of the resolution, had suggested that a wall like the one separating the Palestinian territories from the Israeli settlements which would separate the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites would be useful to minimize possible ethno-religious violence once the federal system is installed. The plan is viewed infeasible, for it would require, as Arizona's Republican Senator John McCaine argues, splitting the intermarried families of the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites. On his way back to Baghdad after his appearance at the UN General Assembly in New York, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the idea of splitting Iraq into federal regions, "Iraqis are eager for Iraq's unity. ... Dividing Iraq is a problem and a decision like that would be a catastrophe." Along similar lines, the Arab League's head of the Arab Relations Department, Ali al-Jaroush, insisted that the idea was "hostile to Arab interests" and the best response would be to help the Iraqi people drive occupying forces out of the country.
Ankara joins Maliki in believing that there would be catastrophic consequences of dividing Iraq in one way or another not only for the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites, but also more so for the Turkmens within Iraq and for Turkey itself, bringing it to a collision course with the Kurdistan regional administration in northern Iraq over the issue of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terror as well as the status of Kirkuk. As the idea of creating a federal system in Iraq which leaves the north to the Kurds with lucrative oil resources is likely to take deeper root in the minds of US policy makers once the Bush administration is gone, Ankara is likely to primarily demand more cooperation from Washington to root the terrorist PKK out of northern Iraq and secondarily pressure on both Washington and Baghdad to preserve Iraq's unity as to secure Turkmens who would otherwise be left out as a minority vulnerable to the Kurdish majority.
If it was the 1990s or before, Ankara would either willingly or unwillingly be complacent with the partition of Iraq and consequently build up its military presence on the Iraqi border, putting all of southeastern Turkey under "emergency rule." As some would argue, this would be a more than welcome development for the infamous elite because it would curb the authority of the civilian administration on the grounds of the so-called security threat emanating from both inside and outside. This is not the case any more. That is, a vast majority of society and civil society organizations are quite vocal about and reactionary toward the government's policies. The online polls conducted by such major newspapers as Zaman, Hürriyet, Milliyet and Yeni Safak, among others, by recently emerged survey companies create a direct channel of communication between the government and the public who elected it. Therefore the government is no longer as independent as before in foreign policy making nor immune to public scrutiny, and as such any foreign policy preference that would dramatically contradict public opinion would simply mean a farewell to office in the next elections. Second, the Turkish military is no longer as interested, as some would argue, as before to override the civilian administration's foreign policy preferences -- as proven multiple times before and during the US invasion of Iraq.
The question of Iran: will Turks be cooperative?
The frequent argument within Washington's neoconservative circles that Iran poses an imminent threat to both regional and global order and therefore should be dealt with militarily before it acquires nuclear capabilities is unlikely to convince Turks to pledge support to any possible US or US-Israeli operation against Iran for several reasons.
First of all, unlike the US invasion of Iraq, where Saddam's dictatorship and army were already eliminated in the early days of the invasion, a possible military conflict with Iran would spark a state-to-state war, as former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests, and as such rapidly destabilize the entire region. Second, even with the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran is a containable threat. In his "Hidden Iran," Ray Takeyh suggests that in quest for returning back to the roots of the Islamic Revolution, the new generation of Iranian clergy is hostile to establishing dialogue with the United States and indifferent to doing so with Europe. Yet the grim economic realities, such as increasing unemployment and the raised cost of living across Iran make it imperative for Tehran to work with the few allies it has left. According to the recent energy agreement between Ankara and Tehran, the two will bring Turkmenistan's natural gas through Iran and Turkey and Iran's gas through Turkey to the European markets. Additionally, Ankara is to assist Tehran to develop its gas field in the Persian Gulf province of Assaluyeh.
Thirdly, the Turkish-speaking Azeri Iranians that constitute 24 percent of Iran's 65 million-population would also be a considerable concern to the Turkish public in the event of what may soon turn into a full-fledged war. Even if their plight may not suffice to make Ankara stand in the way of Washington, the rapid surge of anti-Americanism among the public would not avail the government to cooperate with Washington on any other matter either. Fourthly, according to the German Marshall Fund's survey Transatlantic Trends 2006, while 56 percent of the Turkish respondents view Iran's developing nuclear weapons as being normal, only 10 percent supports military action against it. Finally, if not the general public, the intellectuals are well aware of the impact of the political intervention in 1953 and how it sowed the seeds of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
The Armenian resolution: a new civilian approach
Thanks to burgeoning civil society and public debate on even the most dogma-ridden subjects, Turks are ever-closer to understanding that fierce attacks on Turkey and seeking means to inflict pain on her and her people is likely to be the only way in which the Armenian diaspora, especially its second and third generations, is familiar with as a way to serve their perceived Armenian cause. Some argue that it is for this very reason that, as Kinzer notes, in the 1970s and 1980s, terrorists calling themselves Justice Commandos against Armenian Genocide (JCAG) assassinated not only 75 Turkish diplomats in the United States and Europe but also their relatives, wives, children and the mere bystanders, and bombed targets like the Turkish Airline (THY) counter at Orly Airport in Paris. Again, it may be for this very reason that Armenia has long supported the terrorist PKK -- to bleed Turkey to death. For Turks the answer to "Why do they hate us?" may not necessarily be that Armenians are inherently hostile to Turks, which is certainly quite unlikely given the ongoing dialogue between non-fanatical Turks and Armenians, but that "those who hate us" have no ability to sympathize with Turks because their mental image of Turkey and Turks is associated with nothing but the massacres they heard of one way or another. Therefore the Armenian diaspora's relentless campaign for the resolutions such as H. Res. 106 in the US Congress may be tolerated.
However, the failure of Turkish civil society, including Turks and Armenians, to show the Armenian diaspora how to better serve the Armenian cause cannot be tolerated. Therefore, Turks and Armenians of Turkey have recently started to allocate at least part of their time and resources to help the Armenian diaspora realize how to better serve the Armenian interests, instead of solely countering its attacks. It goes without saying that the foremost of those interests are respectively to better the socioeconomic and political conditions of Armenians in Turkey and help Armenia settle its disputes with its neighbors and prosper economically. As the Turkish-Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II stated during his recent trip to Washington, D.C., during which his speech at Georgetown University was allegedly cancelled due to the security threats voiced by fanatical Armenian groups, the primary need of the Turkish-Armenians is to open a theological school where they can educate their priests. In addition the Patriarchate needs to be able to procure income through means other than member donations, which is not allowed under the current legal framework. Therefore it is widely held that it would be more reasonable for the Armenian diaspora to donate the financial resources, at least partially, which are currently used for lobbying to the Patriarchate.
Similarly it would be more rational for Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian to seek ways to solve his country's problems with the neighboring Azerbaijan, 20 percent of the land of which is currently under Armenian occupation, instead of protesting the letter of the eight US Secretaries of State by advising House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the resolution would not affect Turkish-Armenian relations, simply because there are no such relations. He is indeed right that Turkish-Armenian relations are plagued primarily by the latter's partial occupation of Azerbaijan, as Suat Kiniklioglu, deputy of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party), puts it. Nevertheless, Yerevan's goodwill efforts on the so-called genocide debate would certainly encourage Ankara to be more proactive in solving Armenia's regional problems.
Otherwise, even if passing the genocide resolution in the US Congress would satisfy the collective ego of the diaspora and for a short period of time relieve Congress members of the Armenian lobby's ceaseless pressure, it will have disastrous impact on not only American-Turkish relations but also on Armenian-Turkish relations too. The impact on the former is highly likely to be enduring, because the Turkish public opinion is that the US Congress has nothing to do with the so-called genocide issue and is further politicizing it by bringing to the vote.
* Mehmet Kalyoncu is an international relations analyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Armenians ‘Massacred 10,000 Jews,’ Claims Report
Recent remarks by New York-based Jewish lobby organization the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) about the alleged Armenian genocide have added further fuel to a long-standing debate over the World War I-era deaths of Anatolian Armenians.
However, recent studies conducted in Ottoman archives reveal another side to the period, suggesting that Armenian gangs killed about 10,000 Jews in Anatolia and the Caucasus around the same time, according to a news story in the latest issue of Aksiyon news magazine.
The recent remarks by the ADL that the Armenian genocide claims should be accepted -- a stance which was later softened by the qualification that it was a matter for historians -- caused uneasiness among the global Jewish community, Aksiyon noted. At the time Lenny Ben-David, former undersecretary at the Israeli Embassy in the US, had cautioned the Israeli government to act wisely on the issue. In his article published in the Oct. 5 issue of the Jerusalem Post, titled “Turkey and Armenia: What Jews should do,” In the piece, Ben-David referred to the arguments that Armenians killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims and hundreds of Jews in the early 20th century. An examination of the Ottoman archives and documents shows Armenian gangs are estimated to have killed somewhere in the region of 2 million Muslims between 1914 and 1919. The same archives also suggest thousands of Jews were killed by Armenians. Though the definite number is not known, it is reckoned to be approximately 10,000.
Aksiyon’s story also explains that Gad Nassi, a researcher and author who has made studies on Sabetayist, Ladino-speaking and Crypto Jewish communities, took down the massacre stories of living witnesses. At that time the Ottoman Empire sponsored the detailed studies of the atrocities perpetrated against Muslims by Armenians in collaboration with Russians. According to the reports prepared from these studies, officials saw a pile of the corpses of 300 Jewish people who had set off from Hakkari to search for their relatives, only to be intercepted and killed by Armenians. International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK) Chairman Sedat Laçiner maintains that the lack of a Jewish population in southeastern Anatolia can be attributed to massacre by Armenians.
Today’s Zaman Istanbul
Turks In Wales Protest ‘Genocide' Memorial
Turks living in the United Kingdom took action upon learning that a memorial for the memory of the victims of the so-called Armenian "genocide" at the hands of the Ottoman Empire would be erected in front of the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, on Nov. 3.
In a letter to the archbishop of Wales and the Welsh Center of International Peace, the British-Turkish Associations Federation mentioned that the Armenian allegations of genocide were baseless and that they, as Turkish citizens, were very sad that a memorial was to be erected confirming the Armenian defamations.
The federation noted that the Armenian allegations of genocide had not been verified by historians and that there is not consensus in the international community about terming the incidents during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire "genocide."
The federation's letter acknowledged that some measures were taken during the chaotic environment of 1915 to cut the support of Armenian groups to enemy countries and that Armenians were dispatched to certain regions under the framework of these measures. "Recognition of these baseless allegations as 'genocide' will contradict the policy of the Welsh Center of International Peace, which deemed peace a mission for itself. Hence, we propose that you work together and search for facts instead of admitting these allegations," the letter said. In the letter it was also stressed that the Armenian allegations of genocide were not even supported by world-famous historians such as Bernard Lewis, Norman Stone, Justin McCarty, Stanford Shaw, David Fromkin, Michael Gunter, Kamuran Gurun and Giller Veinstein.
Kamuran Samar London
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz: The Armenian Bill: Time To Trace A New Path
We learned yesterday in an article by Hurriyet's Fatih Cekirge of the administration's "enormous weapon" aimed at blocking the US Congress from passing the "Armenian genocide bill."
Administration consultant Egeman Bagis, who left for the US for precisely this business, is reportedly planning on telling US authorities "If the bill is accepted, you will no longer be able to arrange logistical support for your soldiers in Iraq through Turkey."
When I heard about this plan, I really wasn't able to understand how it was the US Congress was going to be thrown into a panic, and decide to postpone the voting on the bill.
This is a country which, pushing aside any logistic support from Turkey for a moment, has been able to invade an enormous country by lowering everything down from the air.
And the fact that the Turkish administration has not even considered this, and that they are seeing a useless threat as the only solution here, only serves to underscore our lack of policy on these sorts of matters.
So it is clear now that empty threats aimed at the fairly consistent policies of the US administration are not going to block this Armenian bill.
We need to start channeling our energy towards arenas which will actually elicit results, and this includes thinking about the possibilities presented to us by international law.
But this cannot be all. We need to take concrete steps in the propoganda war that we have somehow not been able to carry off up until now.
For years now we have given this enterprise aimed at passing the bill the slip, by hiding in the shadows of the US administration. Now is the time, seeing we no longer have the chance to carry on our old ways, to trace a new path for ourselves.
© Copyright 2006 Hürriyet
Last Move From Turkey Before Vote In Congress On Armenian Genocide Resolution
A Turkish parliamentary delegation is on its way to the U.S. as a last move to prevent the passing of the resolution on alleged Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during the World War I.
Columnist Fatih Cekirge of top selling Turkish daily Hurriyet wrote that the mandate of the delegation of MPs from AKP, CHP and MHP is stronger as it comes not only from the government but from the parliament – that is from the Turkish people – and the AKP MP Egemen Bagis, who heads the delegation, signaled that the warning they will deliver to the U.S. will also be very strong.
Turkey has repeatedly said that if the Congress passes the Armenian resolution U.S.-Turkey relations would suffer. It is now understood that Turkey will tell the U.S. that it might cut or restrict the logistical support that Turkey provides the U.S. military in Iraq through Incirlik airbase – also affecting the future withdrawal of U.S. from Iraq, via Turkey.
The other dimension is Turkish military’s disappointment with the U.S for its inaction against the PKK and tolerating the terrorists based in northern Iraq that launch attacks inside Turkey - a long time ally of the U.S. and a partner in the war against terrorism.
Source: Hurriyet, Turkey, October 8, 2007
Romania Involved In PKK Funding, Turkish Secret Services Say
The Turkish intelligence services have warned authorities that the Kurdish movement PKK has been funding its terrorist activities through several associations in various European countries, including Romania.
According to the electronic edition of the Journal of Turkish Weekly, quoted by Romanian news agency Mediafax on its website, Turkish services warned in several reports presented to authorities that the PKK was getting money for its activities through associations based in Romania, Germany, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Greece, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, UK and USA.
The associations assure PKK funds of over 300 million dollars, used by the terrorist organization to get weaponry, according to the sources.
The final report contains proof regarding PKK’s involvement in arms and drug smuggling, and urges authorities to launch a diplomatic and military campaign against the organization.
Apparently, all Embassies will be informed of the activities of PKK organizations and urged to take the necessary measures.
The Romanian Intelligence Service spokesperson, Marius Bercaru told Romanian news agency NewsIn on Tuesday that the financial activities of the Kurdish associations in Romania have been closely monitored over the past several years and their contributions to PKK dropped significantly in 2007.
Trend Exclusive Interview With The Foreign Minister Of Turkey, Ali Babajan
- What is your opinion of the current level of cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan?
- Azerbaijan is our fraternal country. Cooperation between Turkey and Azerbaijan is based on deep historical roots. Our peoples are connected by the ancestors formed over many centuries. Friendship and cooperation has strengthened further in recent years. Today Turkey and Azerbaijan have reached a close unity and developing economically our countries surely head towards the future. Azerbaijan is carrying out international projects which will assist in strengthening stability and security, economic development and integration of the region. Turkey actively participates in all these global projects. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project form new stages of development in the region. Consolidating our efforts regard to this and coordinating our policies, we can fully ensure the economic interests of the two countries. Currently commercial and economic relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan are developing intensively, but yet it does not fully reflect the existing potential – we should use this potential. There are high-level relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. We have good reliable relations with the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. It is not incidental that the newly elected President of Turkey, Abdulla Gul, will make one of his official visits to Azerbaijan at the beginning of next month.
- Recently it became known that the issue of opening borders between Turkey and Armenia was on the agenda again. What do you think of this?
- You are well aware of current relations between Turkey and Armenia. Obstacles to the development of relations between the two countries are presented on the one hand and problems in the history of our people on the other hand, by the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia which resulted from Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan. In this situation, Turkish diplomacy seeks and tries to find ways of dialogue with Armenia.
Recently participating at the General Assembly in New York, I met with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Vardan Oskanyan and I told him that we are neighbors and we need to exist in the way of dialogue and cooperation. We have historical problems, but we should try to regulate our problems in a peaceful and civilized manner and should look to the future.
- What role may Turkey play in regulating the conflict between Azerbaijan and Turkey?
- We have knowledge of the history and real situation of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We believe that in the near future Azerbaijan and Armenia will find realistic potential chances to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh problem peacefully. Turkey, as a fraternal country of Azerbaijan, is prepared to act as a political mediator to regulate the situation and achieve peace. We want our region to become the region of peace, dialogue and welfare. We very much want the 21st century to become the century of resolving conflicts, but not the century of confrontation and war. We wish all problems between the states, including territorial problems, to be resolved through political talks and consensus. It is a fundamental thesis of our foreign policy.
If we look through the foreign policy of Turkey, we can see relations Turkey had with Greece ten years ago and have now. In addition, we had problems with other neighboring countries. It is possible to speak of Syrian-Turkish relations, where only confrontations were in existence ten years ago, but today we are actively cooperating. We will apply this conception in resolving problems between other countries. We consider that the problems in Iraq, the Arabian-Israeli conflict and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict need to be politically resolved. We highlight this at meetings with many State Heads and Foreign Ministers.
- What are you thinking of the prospects of regulating Arabian-Israeli conflict within your diplomatic tour in the Near East?
- During my visit to the Near East, I am planning to visit nine countries in this region. I have already been to Syria and held talks in Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy. The visit was aimed at determining how Turkey, as a large and influential country, can assist in regulating historical Arabian-Israeli conflict. During the talks, I became aware that there are many points of contact between Israel and Palestine. In addition, I sent an invitation to the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, to make an official visit to Turkey. We have very good reliable relations with Israel and economic relations between the two countries are growing each year. During my talks with the Prime Minister of Israel and with the Chairman of Palestinian Autonomy, Mahmud Abbas, I made sure that the sides are very decisively inclined towards peace and dialogue. We believe that the Near Eastern conference in Annapolis will be prepared very well and the countries attending the conference will assist Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy in achieving a peaceful agreement between the countries. Turkey, as a country having historical roots in the Near East, hopes this very much.
Turkey: If Armenians Win In Congress, The U.S. May Lose; Cards Turkey Can Play
Source: CNN-Turk TV and all Turkish dailies, October 8, 2007 MEMRI, DC Oct 9 2007
Most Turkish dailies published a CNN-Turk TV report that lists Turkey's trump cards that it might use to deter the Congress from passing the Armenian Genocide resolution based on historical allegations that Turkey categorically rejects.
According to the report last March Pentagon's Deputy Under-Secretary Dan Fata had also presented a similar list to the House Committee of Foreign Relations, of what Turkey might do in case the resolution was adopted.
Turkey may cut or restrict the logistical support to U.S. military in Iraq. 60% of all supplies to U.S. units in Iraq go from Incirlik airbase.
25% of the fuel used in Iraq by coalition forces goes through the Habur border gate in Turkey.
U.S. fighter planes that are based in Incirlik airbase also train in Turkish airspace.
16 U.S. fleet ships that participated in the war in Iraq, refueled in Turkish seaports.
American economy may lose billions of dollars in arms sales if Turkey changes its suppliers.
Turkey committed to buy 106 of the new generation F-35s. There are also plans to purchase 30 F-16s for 1.65 billion dollars.
200 F-16s are to be modernized by the U.S. for 1.6 billion dollars.
There is an upcoming tender for the purchase of air defense systems with the U.S. Patriot system being preferred - despite Russia's eager competition.
U.S. makers are the top players in the tender for the purchase of training helicopters, valued at 50 million dollars.
Turkey plays an important role, at the request of the U.S., among NATO and U.N forces stationed at different places in the world.
Turkish military commanded the peace forces in Afghanistan for two terms; and is on duty in Lebanon and Kosovo.
Turkey is being considered by U.S. as a safe route for withdrawal of its troops from Iraq - which may all be jeopardized if Armenian resolution passes.
Turkish parliamentary delegation that will conduct meetings in Washington this week, might bring up all of the above issues.
Armenian Lobbyists Downplay Pressure Against Genocide Bill
By Anna Saghabalian, Radio Liberty, Czech Rep.
Oct 8 2007
A senior representative of a political party wielding influence in the worldwide Armenian Diaspora is optimistic about an imminent approval by a U.S. Congress committee of a resolution that he hopes will lay the groundwork for the World War I-era killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey to be recognized as genocide by the full House.
Giro Manoyan, Head of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau's Armenian National Committee and Political Affairs Office, said in Yerevan on Monday that the pressure mounted by Turkey and its lobbyist groups in the United States is unlikely to change the mood of congressmen, a majority of whom currently favor the bill.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress' House of Representatives is due to consider Resolution 106 on Wednesday. If the resolution is approved by the Committee, it will be up to the House Speaker to decide whether to bring it to the House floor for a vote.
According to Manoyan, only one congressman has so far succumbed to pressure to withdraw his support, which, overall, shows that the bill stands a good chance of passing in the Democrat-controlled House despite opposition from the Bush administration.
"The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) initiated active work to preclude any possible changes in [congressmen's] positions, and on October 10 the Committee will surely adopt a resolution and this resolution will be put to vote to the [full] House," he said.
Manoyan also downplayed the impact of the statement by eight former U.S. state officials voicing concern over the possible advancement of the resolution in the U.S. Congress.
"The former secretaries of state are only eight votes in U.S.
elections," Manoyan commented, referring to the political weight of ethnic Armenian voters in the United States ahead of next year's presidential election.
"Of course, the statements by the [former] state secretaries and even three defense secretaries will have their influence, but in the United States the opportunities of citizens' votes are the main means to counterbalance that."
Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) Armenia and Karabakh country director Arpi Vartanian says the main target today is to reach the passage of the resolution by the full House, since "it will mean the opinion of the House of Representatives that reflects the opinion of millions of Americans." Vartanian added that the adoption of the resolution by the Senate is a separate activity.
She believes that the continuing Turkish pressure will not significantly influence the position of House representatives because Armenian advocacy groups in the United States, including the AAA, "work throughout the year to resist Turkish pressure by meeting U.S. congressmen and conducting explanatory work among them."
"There are some congressmen who, of course, may withdraw their support, but I don't think a majority will make that step. For various reasons there are good chances for the resolution to be adopted this year as there is a better understanding of what a genocide is in the United States today," she explained.
Measures related to Armenian genocide recognition have been debated in Congress for decades, but have repeatedly been thwarted amid concerns about damaging relations with Turkey, an important U.S. ally.
Armenia and its lobbyist groups worldwide claim some 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1923 in an organized genocide. Meanwhile, Turkey denies that the deaths and deportations of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the beginning of last century was a result of genocide, but insists that Armenians rather fell victim to the widespread chaos in the years leading up to the Ottoman Empire's collapse.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President George W. Bush last week that ties between the two countries would be hurt if the U.S. Congress passed the bill.
Manoyan, however, thinks that "Turkey needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs Turkey" and in this sense he considers the threats voiced by Ankara to be of a formal nature.
"The ANCA's stance is that these are mere threats. Experience shows that even if Turkey did something immediately to realize its threats against countries that adopted similar resolutions, later everything was restored within a short period of time," the ARF representative said.
Diplomacy Channels Pushed By Turkey On Armenian Issue
Journal of Turkish Weekly
Oct 8 2007
Turkey mulls measures for the day after
Diplomacy is continuing at top speed to deter a possible move at the US Congress to pass a resolution supporting Armenian allegations of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, but as a House committee vote on the measure looms large on the horizon, Turkish decision makers are also preparing for the worst-case scenario, which does not seem all that improbable.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on Resolution 106, which calls on the US president to ensure the "Armenian genocide" will be reflected in US foreign policy, on Wednesday. The measure is widely expected to clear the committee, which will pave the way for its introduction in the House floor.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can, in theory, block the measure, but few expect she will do so, given her open support for the genocide allegations and pre-election pledges to work for congressional acknowledgement of the charges.
"We are not helpless if this resolution is passed," said Onur Oymen, senior lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and former diplomat, in a phone interview with Today's Zaman yesterday. He noted that Turkey had responded to a US decision to impose a military embargo on Turkey following the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974 by blocking US access to all bases in its territory.
What is at stake, say observers, is the US right to use an air base in southern Turkey, İncirlik. The base is critical, mostly for operations in Iraq, and its role may become even more critical in the coming months if US opts to use Turkish territory in a possible pullout of its troops from Iraq.
Experts note there are agreements signed by the Turkish and US governments to authorize US use of the base and warn closure of İncirlik could pose legal problems. But Oymen said that in practice the base is used for broader purposes that go beyond the framework stipulated in a 1980 agreement for defense cooperation between Turkey and the United States.
According to Oymen the US may lose a major route for logistics supplies for US troops in Iraq if Turkey decides to stop cooperating with Washington on Iraq, another possible measure to retaliate a congressional approval of the "genocide resolution."
"70 percent of the [US] logistics materials are transferred through Turkey to Iraq," said Oymen.
Counting on diplomacy
A closure of İncirlik and halting cooperation with the United States on Iraq could be two ways of hurting US interests in a critical region like the Middle East. And there are other steps that Turkish officials have refrained from publicly mentioning, such as Turkey's ongoing support for operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, or further tightening of the restrictions on ties with Armenia. There are tens of thousands of Armenians working in Turkey without fulfilling the proper legal conditions, such as obtaining work or residence permits. And although there are no formal ties with Armenia, charter flights are in service between the two countries and Turkish goods find their way on to the Armenian market.
What is more, Turkish officials have been sending out warnings lately that not only US-Turkey ties but also the regional cooperation with Israel would suffer if the Armenian resolution is passed in the US Congress, after influential US Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) changed its long-held position and decided to call the World War I events "genocide."
Taking the risk seriously, eight former secretaries of state recently wrote a letter to Pelosi, urging her to block the resolution to protect US interests in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as prospects for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. Retired Lt. Gen. Tony Scowcroft, chairman of the American-Turkish Council, added to the list concerns over the "many billions of dollars of annual trade with Turkey, both defense and civilian," and many "American jobs" that would be at stake.
But what complicates the matter is that these measures, if implemented, have the potential to hurt Turkish interests, in some ways more than they hurt US interests. Aware of the danger, Turkish policy makers have intensified diplomacy to avert passage of the resolution ahead of Wednesday's first vote.
Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan sent a letter yesterday to Pelosi warning of the negative consequences of the measure's passage and emphasizing that "it might take decades to heal negative effects of the bill if it passes." If it happens, he said, "It will be difficult to control the dynamics triggered by Turkish public reaction."
"What we are focused on now is ensuring this issue will not come to such a point as to affect US foreign policy," said Yaşar Yakış, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), in a phone interview with Today's Zaman. "This is what serious states like us are expected to do. Threatening retaliation leads to escalation."
As part of the intensifying diplomacy, a group of Turkish deputies, including the AK Party's Egemen Bağış, CHP's Şukru Elekdağ and the Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) Gunduz Aktan, are heading to the United States this week for talks on Oct. 8-11 with Congress members about the resolution.
Retaliation through halting cooperation with the United States in strategic and economic areas is a double-edged sword that may equally harm Turkey. High tension in relations with the United States may prove to be an undesired situation for the Turkish government, which has worked carefully -- and successfully -- to achieve economic stability throughout the nearly five years that it has been in power.
Looking at the means of retaliation case by case, the blocking of US access to İncirlik and cutting of the supply line for US troops in Iraq would put the US forces in Iraq in a difficult situation, further complicating the security situation in the war-torn country.
"Sudden deterioration in the situation of the US troops in Iraq, and thus in the overall security situation in Iraq, is not a favorable option for Turkey," said foreign policy expert Cengiz Candar, who is also a columnist for daily Referans.
Any damage to Israeli ties as a result of the US Congress passage of the Armenian resolution would deal a blow to Turkey's aspirations to become a credible regional actor after all the success the government has achieved to that effect over the past five years, according to Hurriyet columnist Ferai Tınc.
"Turkey occupies a geographical position such that it is geopolitically significant for the United States in every issue that Washington is concerned with," said Candar, but added that "maintaining the good relations is as vital for Turkey as it is for the United States."
Monument To Armenian Genocide Victims To Be Erected In Cardiff, Wales
09.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian community of Wales intends to erect a monument to the Armenian Genocide victims in Cardiff by November 3. The word Genocide will be inscribed in Welsh, English and Armenian on the monument shaped as cross.
Wales is the first UK province that recognized the Armenian Genocide at hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, CNN Türk reports.
Daniel Fried: Armenian Genocide Resolution to damage U.S. interests
09.10.2007 PanARMENIAN.Net/ “The Administration opposes House Resolution 106,” Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Daniel Fried said at a briefing in the U.S. Department of State.
“And we think it would do grave harm, both to U.S.-Turkish relations and to U.S. interests. It would hurt our forces deployed in Iraq, which rely on passage through Turkey. It would do far greater harm than good. It would do nothing to advance Turkish-Armenian reconciliation,” he said.
“It is not simply this Administration which opposes this bill, but all former living Secretaries of State have written to Speaker Pelosi in opposition, including: Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, Larry Eagleburger. They have all expressed the view that this resolution could, and I quote, "endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
“No one, neither the former secretaries nor the Administration denies that a terrible and inexcusable tragedy of mass killings and forced exile befell innocent Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and after. Those are historical facts. Up to a million and a half people were killed or forced into exile. The United States has recognized this. President Bush, like President Clinton before him, has formally recognized it in annual statements on Armenian Remembrance Day on April 24th. So the Administration does not deny anything. We do not deny anything. But we do not believe that this bill would advance either the cause of historical truth or Turkish-Armenian reconciliation or the interests of the United States and we oppose it,” he said.
As to Turkey’s possible restriction of some sort of access to Iraq, Mr Fried said, “I don’t want to discuss a possible Turkish reaction to a bill that I hope doesn’t pass, but it is true that the Turkish reaction would be extremely strong. It has been strong when such resolutions have passed before and we have to be mindful of how much we depend and how much our troops and the Iraqi economy depends on shipments from and through Turkey.”
The U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee will hold a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution October 10. The House version of the Resolution, H.Res.106, was introduced January 30 by lead author Rep. Adam Schiff. It’s supported by 227 Congressmen and 32 Senators.
Fethullah Gulen in Australia
Here is a radio program broadcasted by ABC Radio of Australia about Turkish scholar Fethullah Gulen.
04 / 10 / 2007
Fethullah Gulen Indicted, Escapes To U.S.
In 1999, footage was aired on Turkish television of sermons delivered by Fethullah Gulen to a crowd of followers, in which he revealed his aspirations for an Islamist Turkey ruled by shari'a as well as the methods that should be used to attain that goal.
In the sermons, he said:
You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this.
If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria… like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt.
The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete, and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it…
You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey…
Until that time, any step taken would be too early - like breaking an egg without waiting the full 40 days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside.
The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all - in confidence… trusting your loyalty and sensitivity to secrecy. I know that when you leave here - [just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and feelings expressed here." ...
In yet another sermon, he said, "The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web, to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don't lay the web to eat or consume them, but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life."
By the time this was aired, Gulen had already left the country for the U.S., supposedly for health reasons.
A year later, in 2000, he was indicted in absentia for attempting to change Turkey's system of government and for "forming an illegal organization with the purpose of establishing an Islamist state." It was from there that he built his international Islamist community.
ABC Radio - Encounter - October 2007
Policeman: Yeh I just feel strongly about issues with Muslim people. I believe they are sort of on the back foot in our country because of these stereotypes. There is nothing better than to connect with people over a plate of food I believe, yeh ...
Margaret Coffey: Along with their counterparts in NSW, and similar groups elsewhere, AIS is very much at the forefront of Muslim engagement in interfaith activities, quite often as the instigator. It's all inspired by a guiding genius - a United States based Turkish preacher by the name of Fethullah Gulen. If, for example, as a non-Muslim, you have visited the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney, or been to a gathering of Jews, Christians and Muslims called an Abrahamic Conference, or shared an Iftar in a Muslim home, then you have seen some of the fruit of Gulen's inspiration.
Woman: He's the great mentor I guess, he's the leader, and it's a great movement for tolerance and understanding, for peace for the world.
Ibrahim Dellal: I'm one of his admirers. I was fortunate enough to meet him twice. He is a man of compassion, caring and sharing, he loves human beings and he loves to see all human beings unite and accept each other as equals ...
Margaret Coffey: Up to this point Fethullah Gulen's name has been invoked almost solely in Turkish circles. The organisations that act under his inspiration don't tend to declare this, at least up front. But Australians are about to become a little more familiar with Fethullah Gulen's name. The Australian Catholic University based across the eastern States has entered into an agreement with the AIS to establish the Fethullah Gulen Chair in Islamic Studies and Muslim-Catholic Relations, with funding support from Gulen admirers in Turkey. It's an extraordinary achievement for what is described as a community organisation only seven years old. The ACU has refused Encounter's request for comment on either the Chair or the appointment process - it won't be making a comment, I'm told, until the Chair's occupant is announced, and that announcement is expected within a week or two. The University's reticence is understandable: the funding of Islamic studies in Australian universities recently became a matter of controversy with the decision of Griffith University to accept up to $1 million from Saudi Arabia for its Islamic Research Unit ... Back in the 1990s, when he was still based in Turkey, Gulen visited Australia to urge the Turkish community to educate their children - and today up to sixteen 'Turkish' schools throughout the country are the fruit of that visit ...
Margaret Coffey: ... People associated with Gulen routinely deny that he leads an organised movement with specific assets or that there is any hierarchical structure or system of accountability. Yet, a 2006 article posted on the Gulen website speaks of the Gulen movement's growth during the years since he left Turkey. Its worth, for want of a better description, is estimated at $25 billion American dollars. It runs Zaman, one of Turkey's major daily newspapers, and many other newspapers, magazines and journals in various languages, television stations, an important Turkish bank, unions, more than 600 schools, and six universities, including Virginia International University in Fairfax, Virginia ...
Zeki Saritoprak: ... But Gulen did not affiliate himself with any tariqa as well as any political party. And I think it comes from the teaching of Nursi when he said "I take refuge in God from Satan and politics." He would say it is very hard for a politician, even a Muslim politician to be a pious person. It will be fair I think to say that Gulen's understanding of Islam is much more spiritual oriented rather than political oriented. He focuses on the personality of people, not on the systems. Individual is important for Gulen, individual because the Quran actually speaks of individuals as a universe: so important in the sight of God, every human being ...
Zeki Saritoprak: Islam is a way of life but it is not an ideology. It is your heart and your actions, not only your words. He always avoid slogans. Gulen would be against these slogans - or sloganic Islam, if we can use this term. Islam is a civilisation. It is not like a cheap issue. It is very strong, it's very powerful. It is really a very important large concept. The problem of today - Islamism is to put Islam only within the limit of a political order and that is actually not Islam. It is limiting Islam. Islam is a civilisation ...
Margaret Coffey: This Encounter began with a description of Fethullah Gulen's admirers as a neo-Sufi movement within Islam, focusing on the spiritual transformation of individuals as a way of transforming society. That is not to say it is not politically adept. It is clearly adept at inserting itself - and Gulen's ideas - in the contemporary discussion about Islam, and at creating important institutional partnerships. How it goes about this insertion points to significant questions - for the movement and its partners.
Abstracted from ABC Online
'Jewish, Armenian Groups Defaming Us'
Herb Keinon , The Jerusalem Post Oct. 9, 2007
The widespread perception in Turkey is that US Jewish organizations have linked up with Armenian groups to "defame" and "condemn" Turkey, visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told The Jerusalem Post Monday.
He warned that if a measure characterizing the killing of Armenians during World War I as an act of genocide passed the US Congress in the coming days, it would not only harm Turkey's ties with the US, but also Ankara's ties with Jerusalem.
"All of a sudden the perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people, or the Jewish organizations let's say, and the Armenian Diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey, and trying to condemn Turkey and the Turkish people," Babacan said. "This is the unfortunate perception right now in Turkey. So if something goes wrong in Washington, DC, it inevitably will have some influence on relations between Turkey and the US, plus the relations between Turkey and Israel as well."
During the interview, Babacan - who arrived in Israel Sunday from Damascus for a two-day visit - diplomatically deflected whether he was satisfied with Israeli explanations of its bombing raid on Syria, and also backtracked from statements he made Sunday that Syria was playing a constructive role in the region.
He also intimated that he discussed during talks Monday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak Sunday's killing of 13 soldiers in Turkey, and reports that Turkey was considering military action against the PKK in northern Iraq.
"In terms of terrorism, Turkey has been under this terrorist threat for a while, and Iraq is a training ground of this terror organization," Babacan said. "I think Israel is a country that could understand how it feels when terrorists kill people."
Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political-military bureau, took part in Babacan's meeting with Barak.
Babacan said Ankara expected the US administration, the Iraqi government and the administration in northern Iraq to take action against the PKK operating from northern Iraq.
"We have been and are willing to cooperate more with the parties," he said. "We have been quite patient, but patience has a limit."
As to whether he expected any Israeli assistance in this matter, Babacan said, "Like in any regional issues, if there is any help that the Israeli government can offer in this specific issue, we are very happy to receive it."
Babacan would not say whether he asked, or Israel offered, any assistance.
"We had many, many topics to discuss during my visit," he said. "We had long agenda in hand, and I was happy to cover all these issues during my visit here."
One of the main agenda items was the proposed US congressional resolution branding the killing of Armenians "genocide." Babacan said Turkey "would be happy if the Israeli authorities" could use their leverage in Washington "so that nothing goes wrong over there."
He did not spell out what specifically he expected from Israel, other than to say, "What we have done is told them the problems, and it is up to them to decide what to do and how to help the situation."
Diplomatic officials said Israel officials in recent days have been in contact with key US congressional officials regarding the issue, and briefing them on possible ramifications of the resolution on Turkish-Israeli ties.
Babacan did not answer directly whether he believed the American Jewish organizations were in cooperation with the Armenian organizations to defame Turkey. But, in reference to the Anti-Defamation League's recently well-publicized reversal on the matter, he said, "If we see that, that Jewish organizations are deliberately and in a very comfortable way using the word genocide in a statement, this is a problem for us. This offends Turkey."
In August, the ADL - in a dramatic reversal of policy - said Turkey's actions against Armenians "were tantamount to genocide."
Asked whether he felt Israel could control the US Jewish organizations, Babacan replied, "It is difficult to tell the exact relationships, what kind of influence will work out. But we believe there are ways that could be tried."
Regarding Syria, Babacan - who met with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday, and that same day during a press conference with President Shimon Peres said he felt Syria and Assad were playing a constructive role in the region - toned down his comments.
Asked what he had in mind, considering Assad's support for Hamas, Hizbullah and possible nuclear connection with North Korea, Babacan corrected any wrong impressions his words may have created.
"I was just expressing my feeling that there is a hope for Syria to play a more constructive role in the region, and be part of the solutions, not part of the problems," he said.
"The way they are opening up politically and economically over the last few years is something positive and something to make use of, to benefit from," he added. "If the understanding [of what I said] was beyond that, I didn't mean [it]. That is what I meant, nothing else."
Babacan also raised eyebrows at that press conference by saying - regarding the IAF's raid on Syria and the fuel tanks allegedly dropped in Turkey by IAF warplanes - he expected an "explanation of what happened, and why it happened."
Asked whether he received those explanations and was satisfied with them, he said, "All the agenda items I had in my folder I was able to talk about with my counterparts." He also did not answer directly whether Turkey would continue allowing IAF maneuvers in Turkish airspace, as has been the practice in the past.
In reply to this question, Babacan - referring to military, industrial and economic cooperation - said, "Turkey and Israel are two partner countries in many fields," adding that "relations in all of these avenues move only forward, not backward."
Babacan met with Olmert, Barak and Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday, and then went to Ramallah, where he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki.
He is scheduled to meet with PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad on Tuesday, before leaving for a one-day visit to Jordan.
Babacan said he did not carry any message from Damascus to Jerusalem, and that the Syria-Israel sequence of his visit was the result of logistical reasons, not because Turkey was conducting shuttle diplomacy between the two countries.
Administration, Congress At Odds Over Armenian Genocide Bill
By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor
October 08, 2007
(CNSNews.com) - Despite efforts by the Bush administration to kill it, a bill before a congressional committee this week is threatening to unsettle U.S. ties with an important ally. The ripple effect may impact Iraq and Israel.
The legislation calls on the administration to refer to the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during the closing years of the Ottoman Empire as "genocide." It is the latest in a decades-long effort to change official U.S. policy.
Support for and opposition to the non-binding resolution, which goes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, crosses party lines. Sponsors include Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.), and the more than 220 co-sponsors include Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
A related bill in the Senate was sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and has 32 co-sponsors, including Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) and Republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).
The White House opposes the move -- as did the Clinton White House, which intervened in Oct. 2000 to prevent a similar House initiative. Former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, a Republican who chairs the American-Turkish Council, has cautioned against the bill, and eight former secretaries of state, Republican and Democrat, have urged Pelosi to block it.
The government of Armenia, a predominantly orthodox Christian former Soviet republic, has made the issue a top priority. Islamic Turkey is strongly opposed, and in recent weeks its government has warned the U.S. in no uncertain terms about the implications of passing such a resolution.
A member of NATO and aspiring future member of the European Union, Turkey is strategically located between Southeast Europe and Asia, and borders Syria, Iraq and Iran. It has strong ties with Israel.
Despite the Turkish parliament's refusal in March 2003 to allow U.S. forces to use Turkish territory to invade Iraq, Turkey by nature of its location, regional clout and a long-running war against Kurdish separatists is considered a key player in future events there. The U.S. airbase at Incirlik is also critical for ongoing U.S. operations in Iraq.
Now, however, Turkish lawmakers are threatening to force an end to the U.S. right to use the base if the Armenian genocide bill in passed. Other possible responses being mulled include a withdrawal of support for International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan.
A multi-party delegation of Turkish lawmakers will visit Washington this week to discuss the matter with U.S. members of Congress, and Turkish media quoted parliamentary speaker Koksal Toptan as telling Pelosi in a letter that "it might take decades to heal negative effects of the bill if it passes."
'National security interests'
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call Friday told President Bush that although the resolution is non-binding, it would harm bilateral relations. It would also harm Turkish-Armenian reconciliation efforts, he added.
(Relations between the two neighbors are not affected only by their history; Turkey cut diplomatic ties with Armenia over its 1993 occupation of Nagorno-Karabagh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan, a fellow Muslim ally of Turkey.)
After the conversation, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "the president has described the events of 1915 as 'one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century,' but believes that the determination of whether or not the events constitute a genocide should be a matter for historical inquiry, not legislation."
Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, noted during a briefing Friday that former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, James Baker, George Shultz, Alexander Haig and Henry Kissinger had warned in a joint letter that the resolution could "endanger our national security interests in the region, including the safety of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Supporters of the bill dismiss the argument about angering Turkey.
"There is no question that Turkey is bitterly opposed to recognition and is threatening our military and commercial relationship, including access to the Incirlik air base, but Turkey has made similar threats to other nations in the past only to retreat from them," resolution sponsor Schiff said in a House speech last April.
He noted that the European Union's stance on the issue had not prevented Ankara from seeking E.U. membership.
'Jews could be targeted'
Turkish officials said Erdogan also has appealed to Israel's ceremonial President Shimon Peres to use his influence with Washington. Last week, Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan told the Today's Zaman newspaper that the resolution, if passed, could stoke anger among Turks directed at Jews, as many Turks had a perception that Jews and Armenians were cooperating in the campaign.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish organization that counters anti-Semitism, last August announced that it had reviewed its position and now regarded the historical events - which it had previously described as "massacres and atrocities" - as "genocide."
At the same time, however, the ADL said it opposed the resolution. National director Abraham Foxman said it would not help Turk-Armenian reconciliation, could put the Turkish Jewish community at risk, and could jeopardize the important multilateral relationship between the U.S., Turkey and Israel.
Divisions over the resolution also were evident in a recent decision by Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat and foreign policy hawk, to withdraw her support for the bill.
In a letter to the House foreign affairs committee, Harman said while she viewed the events of 1915 as a "terrible crime ... against the Armenian people," she would vote against the resolution.
Harman, a former ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee who currently chairs the homeland security committee's intelligence subcommittee, said she believed that Turkey "plays a critically important role in moderating extremist forces" in the Middle East.
"Given the nature of the threat, I believe it is imperative to nurture that role -- however valid from the historical perspective, we should avoid taking steps that would embarrass or isolate the Turkish leadership."
According to the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan in Dearborn, more than half of the 2.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire were killed in 1915-1916 and again around 1923.
On April 24, 1915 more than 5,000 Armenians were massacred in Constantinople, today's Istanbul. In other cases, people were first deported, then killed. Some starved to death in prison camps, and others were loaded onto barges, which were sunk in the Black Sea, it says.
Turkey says between 250,000 and 500,000 Armenians, and a larger number of Muslims, died amid chaos accompanying the collapse of the 600-year Ottoman Empire and World War I.
"Documents of the time list intercommunal violence, forced migration of all ethnic groups, disease, and starvation as causes of death. Others died as a result of the same war-induced causes that ravaged all peoples during the period," the Turkish government says in a document responding to the allegations.
Armenia is slightly larger than Maryland, and home to some 2.9 million people. Some seven million Armenians live abroad, including one million in the U.S.
France And Turkey Move To Mend Fences Under The Shadow Of EU And Armenian Law
The New Anatolian / Ankara
08 October 2007
Once again it is the carrot tactic that is paying off to normalize Turkish-French relations.
Turkey has been angered by the French move to ban the denial of Armenian genocide and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will make every effort to deny Turkey full membership in the EU.
But in recent weeks things have started to change.
Sarkozy first met with his close ally U.S. President George W. Bush and later met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Bush has been working on Sarkozy to tone down his opposition ion Turkey at the EU. Then came the meeting with Erdogan in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General assembly meeting and things started to move for mending fences.
On Friday French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was in Ankara and diplomatic sources said this was the first step in the fence mending process.
France sees vast business opportunities in Turkey and that it is losing the market to its competitors. France wants to be active in the natural gas projects in Turkey as well as in the telecommunications industry. But it is losing out because of the frictions between Ankara and Paris.
Turkey and France has a similar chilly period in their relations in the 1980s but late Turgut Ozal lured Paris by offering massive satellite and airline purchase contracts. The same seems to be occurring now.
Kouchner said in an interview France wants to cooperate with Turkey in the field of energy in particular and would try to overcome Turkish opposition to the participation of Gaz de France (GDF) in the Nabucco pipeline project to carry natural gas from the Middle East and Central Asia to the EU via Turkey and the Balkans.
"This is a very important issue for France and I hope for speedy progress," he told mass circulation Milliyet.
The Turkish gas company BOTAS is reportedly blocking GDF's inclusion in the project in retaliation for the Armenian genocide bill.
France and Turkey said Friday they would work to mend fences and seek closer cooperation, despite lingering disputes over Ankara's EU membership bid and the Armenian massacres of the Ottoman era.
"We share a desire to improve our ties in every field... I see our talks today as the beginning of a new impetus in bilateral relations," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said after talks with Kouchner.
Sarkozy argues that most of Turkey's territory is in Asia and that the idea of a united Europe would be diluted if its borders stretch that far. He has instead proposed a close partnership agreement with Turkey.
Ankara has slammed Sarkozy's stance, insisting that full membership is the the only objective of its accession talks.
Pledging that Turkey would pursue its democratic reforms to catch up with European norms, Babacan stressed that "we expect the EU to stay loyal to the promises that it has made to Turkey."
Kouchner said the talks had laid the ground for an extensive dialogue on Turkey's EU aspirations.
"Our relations had cooled a bit. I hope they will warm up in the coming days," he said.
Kouchner said he hoped a French bill passed in October 2006 calling for jail sentences for those who deny that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against Armenians during World War I would not stand in the way of improving ties.
Turkey has threatened unspecified measures against the bill, which followed a 2001 French parliament resolution, which had already poisoned bilateral ties, recognizing the killings as genocide.
Sarkozy told Erdogan in New York last month that the negotiations would lead to closer ties between Turkey and the EU, "even though we disagree on the ultimate goal of these talks," Kouchner told Milliyet.
"Therefore, everything is open-ended today," he said, adding that a debate on the future of Europe was also needed.
Turkey conducted far-reaching reforms to win the green light for accession talks in October 2005 despite strong opposition in European public opinion, notably in France.
Last year, its bid took a serious blow when the EU, in response to Ankara's refusal to grant trade privileges to Greek Cyprus, suspended talks in eight of 35 policy areas candidates must negotiate.
Kouchner said France also backs a strong Turkish role in resolving regional issues such as the turmoil in Iraq, the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, the instability in Lebanon and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kouchner also met Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul before wrapping up his visit late Friday.
Turkey Launches Last Ditch Effort To Prevent Armenian Resolution In US
The New Anatolian /Ankara
08 October 2007
While Turkey has intensified diplomatic and political efforts to dissuade the American Congress from passing an Armenian genocide bill Turkish leaders are telling their American counterparts that such a move will seriously hurt relations.
On Sunday Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying that "it might take decades to heal negative effects of the bill if it passes," Toptan's office said in a statement.
Toptan - who is elected by the legislative body to chair parliamentary sessions - is considered neutral toward all political parties.
The genocide bill declares the killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1917 a genocide, though it would have no binding effect on the U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to consider the legislation late Wednesday.
Toptan's letter said the passing of the bill would be declared by Armenians as a confirmation of their view of the historical dispute.
"Then, it will be difficult to control the dynamics triggered by Turkish public reaction," it said.
Toptan said Armenia did not respond positively to Turkish proposal to establish a commission of historians to examine Turkish and Armenian archives and to share their findings with the public.
On Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. President George W. Bush that the measure would "harm the strategic partnership" between the two countries.
Bush reassured Erdogan that he opposes efforts by US lawmakers to denounce the Ottoman Empire's killings of Armenians as genocide, the White House said.
"The president reiterated his opposition to this resolution, the passage of which would be harmful to US relations with Turkey," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for Bush's National Security Council.
He recalled that Bush has described the events of 1915 as a tragedy, but believes that determining whether it was genocide is up to historians, not lawmakers, Johndroe said in a statement.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is due to vote on the genocide measure Wednesday. A similar bill is pending in the US Senate, adding to pressure on the administration to recognize the Armenian deaths not just as "forced exile and murder" - Bush's words in 2004 - but as genocide. Congressional sources say the fact that the house committee is voting for the resolution means it has the blessing of Pelosi.
Meanwhile, a Turkish parliamentary delegation comprised of top foreign policy experts will fly to Washington today to meet congressional members to dissuade them from voting for the resolution.
"If the United States makes a historical error and adopts a resolution on the incidents of 1915 in the House of Representatives, this would be a problem and scandal of the U.S.," said Egemen Bagis, Deputy Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party who will be in the delegation.
Bagis told reporters that main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Sukru Elekdag and opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Istanbul deputy Gunduz Aktan and he will pay a visit to the United States to hold discussions with non-governmental organizations, senators, members of the House of Representatives, high level bureaucrats and academicians and try to explain to all that the adoption of a resolution on the incidents of 1915 would be a serious blow to Turkish-U.S. relations.
"We will do everything possible to defeat the Armenian resolution which, if adopted, can hurt Turkish-U.S. relations and the national interests of the U.S.," Bagis said.
Bagis, Elekdag and Aktan will be in the United States until October 11.
Elekdag is a former Turkish ambassador in Washington and a former undersecretary of foreign affairs. Aktan is also from the foreign ministry who served as deputy undersecretary. He is a retired ambassador.
Meanwhile, in a full-page advertisement in the Washington Post, the Turkish embassy to the US called the pending legislation "one-sided" and warned it would "affect relations between the United States and Turkey."
A senior State Department official said US lawmakers risk provoking a severe backlash from Turkey.
Applying the genocide label would harm US interests, including "our forces deployed in Iraq which rely on passage through Turkey," Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said.
He said it was a historical fact that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed or forced into exile from 1915 through the early 1920 - something recognized by Bush as well as former president Bill Clinton.
"But it is true that the Turkish reaction would be extremely strong," Fried told reporters.
Armenians claim say more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a systematic genocide in the hands of the Ottomans during the World War I, before modern Turkey was born in 1923.
Turkey says the death toll is inflated and that the deaths occurred at a time of civil unrest.
Public opinion polls show that the United States has become widely unpopular in Turkey because of opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq.
After France voted last year to make denial of Armenian genocide a crime, the Turkish government ended military ties. A similar move with the United States could have repercussions on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which rely heavily on Turkish support.
Sanctions Against Us Won't Affect Congressmen, Expert Warns
Serkan Demirtas Turkish Daily News
October 9, 2007
Egemen Bagis's statements that Turkey can cut its logistic support for American troops stationed in Iraq are not considered very productive. 'I do not think that it will have an impact on the congressmen's decision' Faruk Logoglu says
Ahead of a crucial vote in the United States Congress, Turkey's threats on cutting logistic support and strategic cooperation with the U.S. if the genocide bill is approved, will have no affect on members of the Congress, experts warn.
“The sanctions related with Iraq can create a sort of excitement among the Congressmen but I do not think that it will have an impact on them,” said retired Ambassador, Faruk Logoglu, now head of the Ankara-based Eurasia Strategic Studies center (ASAM), whose last posting was to Washington D.C.
Congress' Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to approve Wednesday a bill which characterizes the incidents in 1915-1916 in eastern Anatolia as genocide and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a known supporter of the Armenian cause, could then decide to bring it to the House floor for a vote. Many believe that it is very likely that the bill will be approved if put to a vote in the House.
Turkey has been trying hard to stop the process in Congress, through an intense diplomatic campaign aimed at the U.S. Administration and Israel. The messages sent to U.S. officials were that the two long-time allies' relations could be seriously hurt if the bill is approved.
Cutting off support?
“For example, the Americans depend on Turkey for a large part of their logistic support in Iraq. We would be obliged to cut this support,” Egemen Bagis, deputy leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) who left for Washington D.C. yesterday to lobby the congressmen, was quoted by daily Hürriyet.
But Bagis softened his words at a press conference he held before his departure. “Turkey has a lot of options but it is not my responsibility to evaluate which of them could be used. The daily Hürriyet has exaggerated the scenarios. But we will be doing everything to stop the approval of the bill,” he said.
Among the mentioned sanctions are closing the Incirlik base, in Turkey's south to the American military to supply its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, not allowing the withdrawal of American troops through Turkish territory, and suspending some of the military equipment purchases.
Government has to decide
But according to Logoglu, threatening the members of Congress with such sanctions is not likely to work. “In general, I may say that such threats won't have any influence on the congressmen's decision,” he said.
“What is important here is the government's will and its purpose. Is it going to be good or bad? I always think that before applying such sanctions, they have to be analyzed on scales: Who will be most hurt by the sanctions? Us or them? They have to be applied if it is going to be the other party who will be hurt most,” he added.
Logoglu underlined that the U.S. has many allies in the region and can use their bases in some other countries. The U.S. has established military bases in Bulgaria and Romania after Turkey's rejection of a U.S. request to use Turkish bases and territory.
“Instead we should inform the congressmen about the U.N.'s Convention on Genocide and Turkey's proposal to Armenia for establishing a joint commission of historians to analyze the incidents. We may not convince many of them but we can shake their position a little bit,” the retired ambassador said.
The recognition of the Armenian genocide in the parliaments of third countries is one of the most serious problems Turkey is faced with in the international arena. A dozen or so countries, including Turkey's allies in NATO, have recognized the events in 1915-1916 as genocide.
Time To Bargain With Washington
Omer Taspinar email@example.com
Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom in order to bounce back. Soon, the veracity of this theory will be tested in Turkish-American relations. Next week, if the Armenian genocide resolution is approved by the US House of Representatives, the question awaiting Washington and Ankara will be: how low can we sink? Turkey already has the most negative perception of the United States in the world. According to the latest Pew Global Trend survey, the image of the United States in Turkey is less positive than in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. How much worse can things get, when 91 percent of Turks already distrust Washington?
The answer to this question is that things can always get worse, especially if Turkey overacts. Ankara could do so in a number of ways; restricting the use of the Incirlik air base, suspending defense contracts and temporarily recalling the Turkish ambassador are potential acts of retaliation that come to mind. Yet none of these steps would be wise. They would simply exacerbate an already troubled relationship by opening new wounds. Instead Ankara should try to see the Armenian resolution for what is. Contrary to what most Turks are probably thinking, this bill is not sponsored by the American government. It is not an attempt to punish Ankara.
What Turkish people need to understand is that this bill is purely about American domestic politics. It has very little to do with the deterioration in Turkish-American relations over the last few years. The real reason this non-binding resolution is likely to pass is related to two factors. First, there is an unprecedented amount of polarization between Democrats and Republicans. This is not a good time for strategic and rational thinking in Washington. In the past when things got rolling in favor of the Armenian resolution, Ankara could always count on the White House bringing some “geo-strategic” sense to the legislative branch. This time, however, Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Bush are barely on speaking terms. The war in Iraq and the current climate of polarization has drastically changed the ways of American politics -- no one is in the mood to compromise in Washington. The second factor that makes the approval of the genocide resolution very likely is Pelosi. There is little that can be done when the speaker of the House has such a strong personal commitment to bringing a resolution to the floor.
The question Ankara needs to be asking is the following: is a non-binding congressional resolution really worth jeopardizing what is left of the Turkish-American strategic partnership? Turkish-American relations have bigger problems than the Armenian resolution. There is no shortage of “real” issues -- such as the PKK, Cyprus and Iran -- between the two countries. Yet the Armenian resolution has been such a gigantic headache for the last 20 years that it has monopolized a big chunk of the Turkish foreign policy agenda in Washington. Turkey is spending millions to lobby against it and often finds itself hostage to other powerful lobbies in the process. Seeing this Armenian bill finally pass one is tempted to say good riddance!
Make no mistake -- the White House and the State Department will still do their best to stop the resolution. But it is very likely that the Bush administration will fail, for the reason explained above. And, having failed, Washington will to resort to “damage control” and “crisis management” with Ankara. Ironically, such damage control dynamics may present a golden opportunity for finally moving things in the right direction. This is what I mean by bouncing back one you hit rock bottom. But it takes two to tango; Ankara needs to play along by being measured in its reaction to the bill.
Instead of rapid retaliation and bitter plans for revenge, Ankara should see this whole ordeal as an opportunity to negotiate with Washington from a position of relative strength. The Bush administration will be apologetic and susceptible after the Armenian resolution. There is a strong chance Washington may be willing to compensate for what happened by delivering something that Ankara has long been asking for. If the Justice and Development Party (AKP) plays its cards right, it may become simply impossible for the Bush administration to postpone concrete action against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
This would certainly not improve Turkish-American relations overnight, but it would still go a long way in showing Turkish public opinion that America is still an ally that values Turkey. Such an American gesture against the PKK could even pave the way for a more serious bargaining process between Ankara and Washington about the future of northern Iraq. After all, this is the region where the US will end up keeping its troops for the foreseeable future. Let’s hope for the best, but prepare for the worst…
The Costly Bill Awaiting Us All The Day After
Bulent Kenes firstname.lastname@example.org
Turkish-American relations, which we have described as a strategic partnership, will be seriously tested by a new process that will begin this week. It is known that the Armenian diaspora and lobbies working for the recognition of the 1915 incidents as genocide by the US Senate is very close to attaining their goal this year.
I should note that ignoring a total tragedy that happened in the atmosphere of World War I and focusing only some parts of the larger tragedy is a betrayal of history. The betrayal becomes bigger through attempts to isolate the said partial drama from the entire tragedy and to ensure its legal recognition as genocide. The betrayal also makes these attempts irreconcilable with the science of history and the sense of justice and reason.
An important test awaits US Congress in terms of their attachment to the bilateral relations with Turkey as well as their commitment to justice and reason. The process to ensure legal recognition of the Armenian allegations as genocide is being launched through the deliberations on the draft resolution at the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. We will all see in the coming months whether the process will lead to the adoption of a certain bill on the endorsement of the Armenian allegations.
The same draft has made it through similar phases in the past. The draft was even considered at the congressional plenary session in 2000, but its adoption was prevented at the last minute at the initiative of President Bill Clinton. But the current support for the draft among Congress members is reportedly the highest ever. Control of the current administration by the Republicans and of Congress by the Democrats and the tense relations between the two parties raised doubt as to whether or not Bush’s probable intervention would be as effective upon the Congressmen as Clinton’s once was.
We will wait and see -- without much hope, though -- whether the White House statement issued following the phone call between Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and US President George W. Bush on Friday will work out. In the statement, the House noted: “The president describes the 1915 incidents as one of the biggest tragedies in the 20th century. But he is determined that whether the events constitute a genocide should be a matter for historical inquiry, not legislation. The president reiterated his opposition to this resolution, the passage of which would be harmful to U.S. relations with Turkey.”
However, in such delicate times, the worst should also be taken into consideration to prevent huge disappointments. Besides not only Turkey, but also the US administration, Armenia and even Israel should be prepared for the worst. Proper scenarios should be developed accordingly. As Foreign Minister and chief EU negotiator Ali Babacan underlined in his interview with Today’s Zaman: “If it is passed, relations with the United States will undoubtedly be affected very negatively. It will further damage the US image in Turkey. We, as the government, can’t prevent it no matter what we do... The Jewish population will inevitably be the target of public anger in Turkey.”
Babacan also said in the same interview that Turkish officials have told the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other US Jewish groups in recent talks that the widespread perception in Turkey would be that “Armenian and Jewish lobbies have united forces against Turks.” And he added that: “We have told them that we cannot explain it to the Turkish public if a road accident happens. We have told them that we cannot keep the Jewish people out of this.”
Babacan is right. In the event of the adoption of the Armenian genocide resolution at the Congress, there will be a costly bill awaiting all parties. Let us review the probable bill at a glance:
It will be impossible to keep anti-Americanism among Turkish people at the current level of 90 percent, which is already at the highest-ever due to the Iraqi occupation and US reluctance to deal with the PKK. The bilateral relations will further deteriorate. As pointed out by The Washington Post, some additional problems may arise in relation to the use of Incirlik Base. Turkey, which currently offers military and logistical support for the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, may waver in its position. This may have serious repercussions for developments in Iraq and the entire Middle East region.
In the event of the resolution’s adoption, Turkey will no longer be ambivalent in regard to making a decision on the row between the US and Iran. It is not so difficult to predict that the US will not be pleased by the new position Turkey holds.
Attempts by Turkey to improve relations with Armenia as well as bilateral relations with Israel will be seriously hampered by the adoption of the resolution. The embargo imposed by Turkey on Armenia will be expanded in a way implemented by the US in relation to firms conducting business relations with Iran. The measures to be introduced within the context of the embargo will even include the prohibition of indirect sales to Armenia. The probable measures against illegal Armenian workers in Turkey will add a more dramatic dimension to the entire situation.
Undoubtedly Turkish Armenians will be greatly uneasy at the passage of the resolution. They will probably be subjected to growing public anger and outrage in connection with the bill’s adoption.
Somebody had better tell us the benefits of such an evil draft, if there are any.
Turkey Mulls Measures For The Day After
Diplomacy is continuing at top speed to deter a possible move at the US Congress to pass a resolution supporting Armenian allegations of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, but as a House committee vote on the measure looms large on the horizon, Turkish decision makers are also preparing for the worst-case scenario, which does not seem all that improbable.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on Resolution 106, which calls on the US president to ensure the "Armenian genocide" will be reflected in US foreign policy, on Wednesday. The measure is widely expected to clear the committee, which will pave the way for its introduction in the House floor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can, in theory, block the measure, but few expect she will do so, given her open support for the genocide allegations and pre-election pledges to work for congressional acknowledgement of the charges.
"We are not helpless if this resolution is passed," said Onur Öymen, senior lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and former diplomat, in a phone interview with Today's Zaman yesterday. He noted that Turkey had responded to a US decision to impose a military embargo on Turkey following the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974 by blocking US access to all bases in its territory.
What is at stake, say observers, is the US right to use an air base in southern Turkey, Incirlik. The base is critical, mostly for operations in Iraq, and its role may become even more critical in the coming months if US opts to use Turkish territory in a possible pullout of its troops from Iraq.
Experts note there are agreements signed by the Turkish and US governments to authorize US use of the base and warn closure of Incirlik could pose legal problems. But Öymen said that in practice the base is used for broader purposes that go beyond the framework stipulated in a 1980 agreement for defense cooperation between Turkey and the United States.
According to Öymen the US may lose a major route for logistics supplies for US troops in Iraq if Turkey decides to stop cooperating with Washington on Iraq, another possible measure to retaliate a congressional approval of the “genocide resolution.”
“70 percent of the [US] logistics materials are transferred through Turkey to Iraq,” said Öymen.
Counting on diplomacy
A closure of Incirlik and halting cooperation with the United States on Iraq could be two ways of hurting US interests in a critical region like the Middle East. And there are other steps that Turkish officials have refrained from publicly mentioning, such as Turkey’s ongoing support for operations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, or further tightening of the restrictions on ties with Armenia. There are tens of thousands of Armenians working in Turkey without fulfilling the proper legal conditions, such as obtaining work or residence permits. And although there are no formal ties with Armenia, charter flights are in service between the two countries and Turkish goods find their way on to the Armenian market.
What is more, Turkish officials have been sending out warnings lately that not only US-Turkey ties but also the regional cooperation with Israel would suffer if the Armenian resolution is passed in the US Congress, after influential US Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) changed its long-held position and decided to call the World War I events “genocide.”
Taking the risk seriously, eight former secretaries of state recently wrote a letter to Pelosi, urging her to block the resolution to protect US interests in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as prospects for Turkish-Armenian reconciliation. Retired Lt. Gen. Tony Scowcroft, chairman of the American-Turkish Council, added to the list concerns over the “many billions of dollars of annual trade with Turkey, both defense and civilian,” and many “American jobs” that would be at stake.
But what complicates the matter is that these measures, if implemented, have the potential to hurt Turkish interests, in some ways more than they hurt US interests. Aware of the danger, Turkish policy makers have intensified diplomacy to avert passage of the resolution ahead of Wednesday’s first vote.
Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan sent a letter yesterday to Pelosi warning of the negative consequences of the measure’s passage and emphasizing that “it might take decades to heal negative effects of the bill if it passes.” If it happens, he said, “It will be difficult to control the dynamics triggered by Turkish public reaction.”
“What we are focused on now is ensuring this issue will not come to such a point as to affect US foreign policy,” said Yasar Yakis, a lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), in a phone interview with Today’s Zaman. “This is what serious states like us are expected to do. Threatening retaliation leads to escalation.”
As part of the intensifying diplomacy, a group of Turkish deputies, including the AK Party’s Egemen Bagis, CHP’s Sükrü Elekdag and the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) Gündüz Aktan, are heading to the United States this week for talks on Oct. 8-11 with Congress members about the resolution.
Retaliation through halting cooperation with the United States in strategic and economic areas is a double-edged sword that may equally harm Turkey. High tension in relations with the United States may prove to be an undesired situation for the Turkish government, which has worked carefully -- and successfully -- to achieve economic stability throughout the nearly five years that it has been in power.
Looking at the means of retaliation case by case, the blocking of US access to Incirlik and cutting of the supply line for US troops in Iraq would put the US forces in Iraq in a difficult situation, further complicating the security situation in the war-torn country. “Sudden deterioration in the situation of the US troops in Iraq, and thus in the overall security situation in Iraq, is not a favorable option for Turkey,” said foreign policy expert Cengiz Çandar, who is also a columnist for daily Referans.
Any damage to Israeli ties as a result of the US Congress passage of the Armenian resolution would deal a blow to Turkey’s aspirations to become a credible regional actor after all the success the government has achieved to that effect over the past five years, according to Hürriyet columnist Ferai Tinç.
“Turkey occupies a geographical position such that it is geopolitically significant for the United States in every issue that Washington is concerned with,” said Çandar, but added that “maintaining the good relations is as vital for Turkey as it is for the United States.”
FATMA DEMIRELLI ISTANBUL
Two Armenian Women Scientists In Ankara
''The Azerbaijani delegation was doing everything to disturb the Armenian delegation in a scientific conference ''Ikanas-38'' in Ankara. During their speeches, they were not losing the chance to curse the Armenian nation and our Diaspora,'' Hasmik Stepanyan, leading specialist of the Institute of Eastern Studies at the National Academy of Sciences, told a news conference today.
''Ikanas-38,'' an international cogress of Asian and North African studies, was held in Ankara on September 10-15 with the participation of 1200 foreign and 500 Turk scientists. Lilit Yernjakyan, professor of Conservatory and PHD in musical studies, and Hasmik Stepanyan took part in the congress from Armenia. Yernjakyan delivered a speech on eastern music and Stepanyan presented a report titled ''Anti-Armenian Turkish literature and Armenian-Turkish literary links in Osman Turkey in 19th century.''
What Is The Problem Between Turkey And Armenia - Should The Border-Gate With Armenia Be Opened?
by Hasan Kanbolat*
The Armenian lobby was not satisfied with the remarks of US President George W. Bush, who used the terms mass killings and forced deportation instead of genocide in reference to the events of 1915 in his regular April 24 statement.
The Armenian dossier is now on the agenda again, six months after these remarks.
The draft resolution (No. 106) on the Armenian genocide, with discussion initiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will be reviewed and voted on the in the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Oct. 10. Committee Chairman Tom Lantos will make a decision about whether it will be referred to the House floor. A Democrat from California, Lantos, who is known for his opposition to the resolution, does not have many options. The draft is expected to be voted on one week later on the basis of simple majority. AK Party deputy Egemen Bagis will stay in Washington during Oct. 7-11 in an effort to prevent the adoption of the draft resolution.
The fact that the said draft was taken onto the agenda for review and discussion does not necessarily mean it will be adopted. Turkey will seek ways to slow down the process by which the draft is adopted. On Sept. 25, eight former US secretaries of state (Madeline Albright, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher, Lawrence Eagleburger, Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and George P. Shultz) sent a letter to Pelosi in which they drew attention to the possibility that American interests might be undermined if the resolution is adopted. In March 2007, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent similar letters to Pelosi.
What is the problem between Turkey and Armenia? Should the border gate with Armenia be opened? We should seek answers for these questions.
The total length of the Turkish-Armenian border is 325 kilometers. There are two currently closed gates through this line, the Alican border gate and the Akyaka Railway border gate. The Alican gate is situated in the Alican village of Igdir while the Akyaka gate is located in Akyaka of Kars. Sixty-six kilometers away from Kars, this gate is commonly known as the “East Gate,” whereas the Armenians call it “Ahuryan Gate.” In addition to a railway, the gate also involves a village road.
The European Union views the closed border gates as an obstacle before Armenia’s integration with the union because of the strong emphasis on this country within the context of wider Europe. Armenia, which is currently seeking ways to increase pressure on Turkey, asserts that the current state of affairs inflicts damages on the economic situation in the country. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) estimates that the embargo imposed on Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan costs the Armenian economy $570-720 million every year. If the borders are opened Armenia’s exports will double and the gross national product (GNP) will increase by 30-38 percent. According to World Bank data, Armenian savings will reach $6.4-8.4 million in transportation, $45 million on energy consumption and exports will increase by $268.9-342.4 million. The cumulative benefit will be around $320-400 million. Armenians assert that the opening of the border gates will be a diplomatic defeat for Azerbaijan and Armenia will secure an important success in regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Furthermore, Armenia will become an important transit point in the transportation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries. Thanks to the use of Black Sea ports, railroads and highways of Turkey, free movement of goods will be secured and Armenia will be integrated with the European economy.
Following the Azerbaijan-Armenia war that lasted through 1994, 40,000 people from Nagorno-Karabakh -- occupied by Armenia -- and 700,000 from the other seven provinces of Azerbaijan had to leave their homes. Therefore, because of the invasion, 13 percent of the Azeri people became migrants in their own territories. It was for this reason that Turkey closed the border gates with Armenia in April 1993 and airspace in 1994. However, the issue on the border gates between Turkey and Armenia is not limited to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Armenia asserts that the 1920 Gümrü and 1921 Kars treaties that determined the border with Armenia are no longer in effect. In the independence declaration adopted on Aug. 23, 1990, Armenia described Turkey’s East Anatolian region as “West Armenia.” Furthermore, the state’s coat of arms described in Article 13 of the Armenian constitution contains Mt. Ararat (Agri), which undisputedly belongs to Turkey.
Despite the hostile attitude of Armenia, Turkey became the second country after the US to recognize its independence on April 16, 1991. Following the recognition, Turkey also granted humanitarian assistance to this country, including food and electricity. It also allowed use of its territory for transit purposes to carry humanitarian aid by other countries. Turkey invited Armenia to act as a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) on June 25, 1992, and Armenia was allowed to appoint a permanent representative affiliated with the organization in Istanbul. Armenian airlines are allowed to hold flights between Yerevan-Istanbul and Yerevan-Trabzon. Turkey also opened the H-50 air corridor for international airlines operating on the Armenia line. There are regular bus services from the eastern Black Sea through Georgia and Armenia, which uses the port in Trabzon for export and import purposes. The restrictions on admission into Turkey were removed through the visa regime introduced on Jan. 10, 2002 and 100,000 illegal Armenian workers have been allowed to stay in Turkey. Armenian citizens are allowed to take part in international sports and culture events held in Turkey. There are ongoing commercial activities between Turkey and Armenia through Iran and Georgia and about 20 companies founded by Turkish and Armenian businessmen are currently in operation. According to unofficial data, bilateral trade volume increased from $30 million in 1997 to $200 million in 2007.
In conclusion, Armenia’s integration with the West and democratization depends on its regular relations with democratic Turkey. Armenia, which has been illegally controlling Azeri territories under occupation for a decade, rejects most decisions and peace offers by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). For this reason the state of war with Azerbaijan still continues. In legal terms, Armenia is still an aggressor country. There is no plausible explanation for the occupation of the Azeri territories by making reference to the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the cease-fire having been honored for many years. This is why it should be admitted that it is time for Armenia to give positive responses to Turkey’s moves. The prevalence of democracy and reason in Armenia and the end of repression of the Armenian people will be the beginning of the desired resolution.
*Hasan Kanbolat is an analyst working for the Eurasia Strategic Research Center (ASAM)
Turkish Consumers’ Union Calls for U.S. Product Boycott
Turkish Consumers’ Union called for a boycott on U.S.-made products in response to adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"We decided not to use U.S.-made products to protest the approval of the resolution,” said Bulent Deniz, a spokesperson for the Turkish Consumers’ Union on Thursday, Xinhua reports.
In protest to the House Committee’s decision, cinemas screening American films were closed, McDonalds employees did not appear at work, Spiderman and Barbie dolls were burnt in some shops in Turkey.
Boycott All American Products!
This is the time when actions should speak. Despite all our warnings American legislatures at the Foreign Relations Committee preferred to surrender to the Armenian lobby. You must do your part to seek out actions that Americans understand. As Armenian Reality we urge our readers to boycott all American products. That will teach them a valuable lesson of leaving the history to historians.
Americans Should Understand What Is Beyond Armenian Resolution
The vast majority of experts on the Ottoman Empire reject the Armenian allegation of genocide. Turkish Americans and Turks along with most non-partisan historians know that the Turkish-Armenian civil war during WWI and the human tragedy that victimized all the people of the area do not constitute genocide. For this, they rely on the findings of experts on Ottoman history, the vast majority of whom do not accept the Armenian allegation of genocide, such as Bernard Lewis, Guenther Lewy, Andrew Mango, Avigdor Levy, Stanford Shaw, Masaki Kakiszaki, David Fromkin, Norman Stone, Edward Erickson, Heath Lowry, and Justin McCarthy, to list just a few notables.
“That the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany is a downright falsehood. What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale. But to make this a parallel with the holocaust in Germany, you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany. That in the deportation order, the cities of Hamburg and Berlin were exempted, persons in the employment of the state were exempted, and the deportation only applied to the Jews of Germany proper, so that when they got to Poland they were welcomed and sheltered by the Polish Jews. This seems to me a rather absurd parallel.”
But some politicians claim they know better than the experts named above. These politicians have already decided what events of 1`915 shall be called: genocide. They declared their open support for the so-called genocide resolution. No facts will change their minds now. Facts no longer matter to them. Last time I looked up, this was called “lynching.”
Here is the definition Webster’s II: Lynch. To execute without due process of law. The 1948 U.N. Convention defines the term genocide in articles 1-3. According to these articles, Armenian lobbyists and their agenda-ridden clients, so called genocide scholars (none are historians) need to produce proof of one minor point: intent ! Since Armenians could not discover to date any evidence of intent, Armenians fabricated some. Andonian’s fake Talaat Pasha telegrams, crude fabrications of Ottoman communication, are still used today by some “genocide scholars”. But there is more:
The same 1948 U.N. Convention also describes how the genocide verdict may be reached and by whom under article 6, which the genocide crowd conveniently always ignore: “competent tribunals” and after due process. The lynching planned for October 10, 2007 at the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee when the “bogus genocide resolution” H.R. 106 slated to be “discussed” is not exactly the competent tribunal the 1948 U.N. Convention meticulously described. The latter had something like Nuremberg in mind. Please note that there was never a trial by competent tribunals and, therefore, no verdict exists today on the Turkish-Armenian conflict. So how can so many benefit from a non-existent court verdict for so long?
Enter the politicians, community leaders, activists, lobbyists, journalists, clergy, biased academicians, and others whose blatant selective morality allow them to ignore the Muslim and/or Turkish suffering, even those half a million at the hands of Armenian nationalists, dismiss armed Armenian rebellions, Armenian terrorism, and perhaps worst of all, Armenian treason. If you take out “the Four T’s” of the Turkish-Armenian conflict during WWI, what’s left? You take out half the story and are left with nothing more than Armenian fabrications, exaggerations, omissions, errors, misrepresentations, propaganda, and lies. That is exactly what H.R. 106 all about: lies. It is a sad they if the highest legislative body in America passes a resolution glorifying lies. Legislators are committing an illegal act.
That the U.S. did not explode two atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children? That the blacks actually enjoyed slavery? That the native Americans welcomed their own extinction and lovingly exchanged their lands for the latter’s civilization and faith? That the Asians were never discriminated against and abused? We, as Armenian Reality, would like to believe that there still are decent and courageous politicians who can turn down the lure of campaign contributions, votes, fast track, and glory, and resist the bias and bigotry so easy to succumb to, and stop this HR 106 nonsense, in the name of truth, justice, and fairness.
Armenian Reality, October 11, 2007
Copyright © 2005 - 2007 Armenianreality.