- TDN Reporter Vercihan Ziflioglu Honored
- Armenian Parliamentary Hearings On Relations With Turkey
- Hoping 'Nail Baba' Brings You A 'Merry Kiss-Mas'
- Christmas In A Sad Urban Shadow Vercihan Ziflioglu
- President Abdullah Gül Will Meet With Us President George W. Bush
- Turkey Allocates $120 Mln For Promotion Activities
- Armenians Debate Ties With Turkey
- Olli Rehn: Article 301 Poisoning Turkey’s Relations With Armenia
- Turkey To Increase Efforts Against Claims On Genocide Against Armenians – Ambassador
- Rustamian: Normalizing Relations With Armenia Fall Out Of Pan-Turkism
- Turkish M.F.A. Expresses Discontent Over Rejection Of Perincek's Appeal By Swiss F.S.C.
- Watchdog Expresses Concern About Armenia's Media
- A Rumour From Ankara: Reciprocating The Injustice
- Pamuk: Prophet Or Poseur? Claire Berlinski
- Armenian Village Lacks Priest, Opens Greenhouse In Anatolia Vercihan Ziflioglu
- Beyond Recent Turmoil: The Future Of Us - Turkey Relations
- The Farce About The Turkish Military Satellite
- Trilogy Of Murder: Conspiracy And Beyond (I & II) Orhan Kemal Cengiz
- Turkish Party Leader Gives Great Christmas Gift To Armenian Cause
- Sins Of Our Fathers
- ‘Sarkozy's Ancestors Were Ottoman Citizens’
- Armenian Premier Reiterates Stance On Relations With Turkey, Other Issues
- Is Agreement Between Armenia And Turkey Possible?
- Armenian Foreign Minister: Turkey Does Not Have A Moral Right To Raise A Problem Of Armenia's Refusal From International Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide
- Armen Rustamyan: The Reason Of The Crisis In Armenian -Turkish Relations Hidden In Turkey's Preconditions
- Armenian Foreign Minister: For Historians And Experts In International Relations The Fact Of Armenian Genocide Is Settled
- Sadly For So-Called "Nationalist" Turks, Armenians Are Not Going Away
- Armenia, Turkey Border Was Determined By 1920 Sevres Treaty, Says Manoyan
- Turkey: Brothers In Arms?
- IP Leader Perincek To Apply To Ecj Regarding Decision Of Swiss Fsc
- 'Painful Effort'
- Armenian Businessman Acts As Mediator For Community
- Perincek To Appeal Swiss Ruling At European Human Rights Court
- "There Is No Point In Setting Up A House Which Will Then Blow Down In The First Wind"
- Present-Day Turkish-Armenian Border Doesn't Have Legal Foundation
- Dashnaktsutyun Promises Surprises
- With Our Economy We Cannot Win The War
- Armenia And Turkey Obliged To Cooperate, Committee Chairman Says
- From The Mountains Of Ararat
- Denial Of Genocide - Punishable
- Only Armenian Citizens To Be Called Up To Protect Borders
- Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems And Perspectives
- For The Real Turkey
- Schiff Refutes Deputy’s Account Of Meeting
- Jingoistic Climate Has Taken Government Hostage
- Normalization Of Turkish-Armenian Relations Vital For Entire Region
- Reconciliation Versus Justice, By Harut Sassounian
- Agos From Turkey In Armenian-Turkish Relations Parliamentary Hearings
- Vahan Hovhannisian: Turkish Society Needs Truth
- Hearings On Armenian-Turkish Relations At RA National Assembly
- House Approves $58.5 Million For Armenia And Reinstates Military Parity
- Eastern Black Sea: Far Eastern Europe
- Armenian Scholar Convinced: Policy Of International Recognition Of “Genocide” Dropped
- History Professor Lecture on 'Military Genius' in Turkey
- Turkish Ambassador To Azerbaijan: You Launch War In Nagorno Karabakh, And See How Turkey Boils Up
- Norman Stone Follows Judith Herrin To The Crossroads Of Civilisation In Byzantium
- What Hrant Dink Had Told U.S. Diplomat Bound For Armenia
- Kurdish 'Genie' Let Out Of The Bottle
- Congress To Reduce Foreign Aid To Armenia; Maintain Military Aid Parity With Azerbaijan
- Sarko Snows On 'Turkish Spring'
- Minority Music: In The Key Of Peace
- Diaspora Must Put Forth Proposals and Terms, Not Individuals
- Armenians in Turkey
- New vision for MIT
- Is It Still Genocide if Your Allies Did It?
- Turkey: Another Ally Lost
- Armenian Parliament Discusses Turkey Ties
- Swiss Court Rejects Perinçek's Appeal
- US Democrat Schiff ‘Surprised’ By Turkish Side Of Armenian Story
- Turkey Cooperates With Armenia In Framework Of Nato Programs
- Damage To Armenians During Genocide Years Totals Over $41 Billion
- Sargsyan: We Should Establish Relations With Turkey Without Preconditions
- Two Kinds Of Terrorism By Christopher Vasillopulos*
- Discussion Of Armenian-Turkish Relations By European Structures Important For Armenia
- Eu Interested In Development Of Armenian-Turkish Relations
- Obstacles In Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Essential, But Not Insurmountable
- Turkish Scholars Didn’t Arrive In Yerevan Over Religious Holiday?
- Oskanian: It’s Impossible To Subject Armenia To Greater Isolation
- Closed Turkish-Armenian Border Anomaly
- Oskanian: Turkey’s Preconditions Mean Nothing From Standpoint Of International Law
- Hakan Tekin: Turkey Not Scared Of Its History
- Congress To Reduce Foreign Aid To Armenia To $58.5 Mln
TDN Reporter Vercihan Ziflioglu Honored
December 25, 2007, ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News
Journalist and author Vercihan Ziflioglu's(center) achievement comes as a Christmas and early New Year's gift to the TDN family.
Among journalists from 37 countries, TDN’s Vercihan Ziflioglu won the “Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue” with four articles. The award is given annually to four journalists from European and Mediterranean countries
Journalist, poet and author Vercihan Ziflioglu, a reporter for the Turkish Daily News, was yesterday awarded the “Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue” organized by the Swedish Institute and supported by the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation.
Ziflioglu, 33, who joined the TDN from the daily Hürriyet last January, competed with journalists from 37 countries and was honored for four articles appearing in the TDN this year. Her winning reports included “Artist Without Borders Between Yerevan and Istanbul,” “Love At The Hatred Tunnel,” and “Turkey's ‘Ebru' Through the Eyes of Atilla Durak.”“I feel this is less an award for me and that it is an award to all at the TDN,” Ziflioglu said at an impromptu newsroom ceremony. “It is an award for cultural dialogue which is what the TDN is all about and I owe this honor to my colleagues who have been trusting, supporting and understanding.”A native of Istanbul, Ziflioglu began her newspaper career in 1993 at the Armenian-language daily Marmara. She later worked as a reporter and editor at the newspaper Jamanag between 1994 and 1995 and at the newspaper Agos from 1996 to 1998. She also worked in various culture and art magazines that are printed in the Armenian language and became the Turkey representative of culture and art magazine Sirag that is based in Beirut. Ziflioglu moved to the national press in 1998, joining the daily Hürriyet as a cultural reporter and moved to the TDN in January of this year.
At the TDN, her work focused largely on cultural, social and historical issues and a key interest has been an ongoing effort to cover issues and initiatives seeking dialogue and communication between the many cultures that comprise modern Turkey.“Vercihan is a disciplined and multi-tasking reporter, with a basket full of languages at her command, who has been invaluable the past year as we have sought to construct a team that can reflect Turkey in all of its complexity,” said David Judson, the TDN's editor-in-chief. “I cannot exaggerate how proud we are of Vercihan and the fact that the award came as we were putting out the newspaper on Christmas Eve was simply an extra ounce of joy.” In addition to her work as a journalist, Ziflioglu is a poet and author of two books. Her works have been printed in “Diaspora Armenian Modern Literature” (Royal Oak, Michigan 1994), “Modern Istanbul Literature” (Lebanon, 2004), “The Other Voice Armenian Women's Poetry Through The Age” (Massachusetts, USA 2005) anthologies. Her first book, titled “Ananun Yeraz”(“Without A Dream”), was published by Aras Publishing House in 2000. Her second book, “Hanelug” (“The Riddle”) was published in February 2007.The award, given annually to four journalists from European and Mediterranean countries, is handed out by the International Federation of Journalists, the world's oldest organization of journalists founded in 1926 and headquartered in Brussels. It is supported by the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. The foundation is named for the late Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh who was assassinated in 2003.Ziflioglu's prize carries an award of 5,000 euros. A trophy and formal presentation will be made to her in a ceremony to be held in Alexandria, Egypt.
Editor's Note: Well Done Vercihan, We have also enjoyed your articles and already mirrored many of them here.
Armenian Parliamentary Hearings On Relations With Turkey
24 December 2007 Omer Engin Lutem / Eraren
The Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, Armen Rustamian, sent me an invitation via e-mail to attend the parliamentary hearings organized under the heading “Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Perspectives” held on 19-20 December. Although they do not engender immediate results, such hearings are essentially useful as they are conducive to aiding the parties involved gauge each other’s viewpoints. For this reason, I would have liked to have been able to take part in the said discussions. Unfortunately, I had to inform Rustamian that I would not be able to attend due to prior engagements.
As gathered from the press, 20 or so Turks were invited to attend the hearings. Among them were personalities such as Taner Akcam, Fatma Muge Gokcek and Halil Berktay who fully espouse and have taken it upon themselves to win others over to Armenian views; people such as Orhan Pamuk and Baskin Oran who adhere to views that fall fairly in line with the Armenian stance; and individuals such as Can Paker who approach the subject matter from the perspective of the European Union. Apart from myself, in order to voice the “Turkish standpoint”, Turkish Historical Society President Yusuf Halacoglu, and International Strategic Research Institute Director Sedat Laciner were invited to attend. Most likely Patriarch Mutafian was called upon to participate in order to represent Turkey’s Armenian community. As these hearings were organized by the National Assembly of Armenia, it would only have been appropriate if members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly were invited to attend as well. However, on this point, nothing surfaced in the press.
All Turks invited notified how they would not be able to attend the hearings. No doubt this is a result of the hearings corresponding with a religious holiday and a result of the invitations having been made so late, and hence due to those in question having prior engagements. Without touching upon this organizational flaw, Arman Rustamian alleged that those invited did not participate because the Turkish government was opposed to the hearings. No doubt, the person in question does not know Turkey very well. In present day Turkey, there is no official authority which can or would make such a demand, let alone a suggestion to this end. No official spoke to me about these parliamentary hearings and I am sure this follows suit for those others who were invited from Turkey. If this were the case, this surely would be covered by the press.
Consequently, in the absence of the invited Turks, save for Peter Semnebi, special representative of the EU for South Caucasus, it appears that only Armenians (including Foregin Minister Oskanian) spoke during the hearings. Apart from a few strong criticisms, it seems that nothing new was voiced.
As cited above, the importance of such hearings rests in generating greater understanding concerning the views and standpoints of the parties concerned. Looked at from this perspective, it would be worthwhile if the Turkish Grand National Assembly’s concerned commissions were to organize a similar meeting in the coming months.
Hoping 'Nail Baba' Brings You A 'Merry Kiss-Mas'
December 25, 2007, David JUDSON
I've never been quite comfortable with those terms of the Anglo-Saxon world, “the holidays” or “seasons greetings,” that seek to give us an all-encompassing generic salute to the varied rites of December. But I realize I'll get little relief here in Turkey where the month that brings Hanukah, Christmas, Feast of the Sacrifice this year, and of course the New Year's finale has become even more complex. For starters, there are the differences in the rites of Turkey's traditional Christian communities; for the Greek Orthodox “Rum” the important day is the same as generally observed in Europe and the United States, today. Most Armenian gatherings, however, are at the end of the “12 days of Christmas,” that is to say on Jan. 5 and 6, I am told. And then in recent years has come the merger of New Year's into a sort of non-denominational “Noel,” with the man in the red suit repackaged as “Noel Baba,” and wreath-bedecked storefronts wishing shoppers “Iyi Noeller” in a would-be secular salute to the turning of the annual calendar.
I noted yet another step forward in this march of holiday synthesis just last week when I encountered a sign on a fashionable retailer in Istanbul wishing shoppers “Merry Kiss-Mas.” In some circles this would no doubt approach apostasy but that is neither my intent nor a realm of theological polemics I care to enter. I decided it was essentially akin to the synthesis created last year by my 7-year-old niece Mine, who lives in Antalya. She put it all in perspective for me in a phone call. “Uncle David,” she said to me in Turkish. “Nail Baba is bringing me a bicycle for New Year's.” For the uninitiated “Nail,” pronounced “Nigh-eel,” is a common Turkish name.
If I wonder at times what the original St. Nicholas would make of all the synthesis going on in his name, I suspect he'd smile at the additional step in it all taken by a 7-year-old in Antalya, not far from the town of Demre where he was born in the year 280. For his story has always been one of synthesis.
I spent a bit of time prowling on the Internet. And it is more than a little apparent that the story of St. Nick, of pine trees, of reindeer and gift-giving is a remarkable tale of two millennia of synthesis.
Indeed the original St. Nicholas may have played some role in the inspiration of gift-giving with which he is associated today. He was known in his original environs around today's Antalya as an exceptionally generous man, often giving presents to children and the poor. Although there are some religious and historical scholars who have suggested he is really a composite, constructed out of pagan myths that preceded the spread of Christianity into medieval Europe, and particularly Britain, where he had become quite popular by the late 600s.
I'll leave the details to the historians, but it is fair to say his association with today's Christian holiday seems to have come by a circuitous route. A couple of hours of desktop research yielded suggestions that the white beard and other characteristics were added by the Vikings invading England around 800 AD. Just as he was being adopted as “patron saint” by mariners, Russians and pawnbrokers, he was also being introduced to holiday gift-giving in Belgium and France by about 1100.
His reindeer with which we are familiar today seem to have entered his life about 1300 courtesy of the Germanic belief in a similar deity named “Odin.” And coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve (or New Year's Eve in the case of my niece Mine) apparently traces to Scandinavian Laps who lived in skin-covered domes where this feat was presumably easier.
For a while in the 1600s and 1700s he was banned in Puritan America and in some quarters of Britain as a vestige of “Popery.” But he seems to have been rehabilitated by the 1770s in New York and have picked up a new surname, Claus. This is derived from the Dutch Sinter Klaus, an appendage of that language's word for saint with the diminutive for Nicholas. He also picked up the tobacco habit about that time, given a pipe courtesy of a writer named Washington Irving. Irving would no doubt face criminal charges today were he to introduce nicotine to an icon of children. But he lived in simpler times.
On the name front, I had never given any particular thought to another name for the jolly fellow of my childhood, “Kris Kringle.” It seems that this is American mis-pronunciation of Christkindl or Christkindel, the German Christmas gift-bringer.
The first rendering that looks similar to the character we know today apparently came from the illustrator Thomas Nast in the middle of the 19th Century. But Santa was merely an “elf” at this point. It was about this time that in England and Canada that he also picked up the reference that has insinuated itself into today's Turkey, “Father Christmas,” or its loose translation “Noel Baba.”
It was not until 1931 that “Santa” got promoted from elf to the rotund and jolly fellow we know better. This transformation came with an advertising campaign launched by Coca Cola, one that seems to be serving the company to this day. He also seems to have spent a good part of the Cold War reinvented as “Father Frost” in the Soviet Union. But one assumes a thaw in that name as well as East-West rivalry.
And so here we are, nearly two millennia later. That somehow this mélange of tradition and symbolism has yet evolved in new ways in Turkey seems to be in keeping with the spirit of things launched so long ago in Demre. I think little Mine is on to something with her name change to the more familiar and Turkish “Nail” in place of “Noel” to precede “Baba.” We'll have to see how it turns out. Whatever his name, I am sure he'll be coming down chimneys in Antalya this year.
So whether you are working today, as we are at the TDN. Or taking the day off to spend with family and loved ones, we wish you cheer and good tidings and many new syntheses in the New Year. And to join in the spirit of synthesis, we all also wish you a “Merry Kiss-mas” from all of us at the Turkish Daily News.
* David Judson is the editor-in-chief of the TDN
Christmas In A Sad Urban Shadow Vercihan Ziflioglu ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News December 25, 2007
Father Dositheos Anagnostopoulos of the Patriarchate of Istanbul describes the shanty settlements around the historic Ayia Evangelistras Greek Orthodox Church in Dolapdere neighborhood as a sociological phenomenon and says, ‘inhabitants of this area are mostly from the lowest income groups. I am a man of religion and I cannot remain blind to people’s pains and struggles to survive in life. First human, then, environment’
Among the Istanbul churches where Christendom's holiest day will be marked today is the glorious architecture of the historic Greek Orthodox Church Ayia Evangelistra, a century ago part of a bustling residential neighborhood but today all but overshadowed by car repair shops and shanty dwellings.With pews to accommodate a congregation that once was more than 500, today the church's dwindling number of faithful is no more than 25. Adjacent to 114-year-old Ayia Evangelistra is the historic Yenisehir Greek Elementary School. The school, opened in the early 1800s, closed its doors in 1978 because of insufficient student numbers. Ayia Evangelistra, an example of gothic architecture, was built upon the order of the Russian tsar Alexander II in 1893. As decaying garages and deedless repair and auto parts shops have steadily encroached on the its environs, the suffered a further indignity two years ago when its historic 180 kilogram bell, a mixture of gold and lead, was stolen two years ago. The still-missing bell carried the seal of Alexander II inscribed inside it.
Father Dositheos Anagnostopoulos has been priest of the church since 2005. Noting that the Rum-Greek minority population in Turkey is currently around 3,000, according to the Patriarchate's official numbers, Anagnostopoulos said that about 16,000 Rums (Greeks with Turkish citizenship) lived in the Istanbul neighborhoods of Dolapdere and Kasimpasa from 1893 to 1923. The number is based on the priest's own research in the neighborhoods.
The squalor and shanty settlements around the church constitute a sociological phenomenon, Anagnostopoulos said. “People living around here are from lower income groups. Those who work in the surrounding car repair shops are people with concerns about their survival in life. We, as a church, do not want to be subjected to the reactions of the locals here.” Anagnostopoulos said he is a man of faith and he cannot turn a blind eye to people's pains and life struggles. “This issue should be solved by the municipality. However, it should be noticed that these people's lives should not be damaged further in the name of rehabilitating the urban environment,” he said. Anagnostopoulos also expressed his worry about recent assassinations and attacks against priests in some cities of Turkey but said he continues to permit people who want to enter the church to do so despite the recent notorious events. “This is the house of God. I have no right to ask anyone, who comes to visit the church, about who they are or what they are looking for. But sometimes some visitors even step up to the holy table during a service without taking permission. I refrain to warn them because this might cause reactions.” Anagnostopoulos said.
180-kilogram historic bell mysteriously disappears:
Anagnostopoulos said the Church of Ayia Evangelistra, dedicated to the memory of Saint Mary, is similar size in size to the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George, home to the Patriarchate in Fener (Phanar) district of Istanbul. He said that despite the fact that the church bell was stolen, the press has paid no attention to this issue so far. A 180-kilogram church bell's sudden and mysterious disappearance is quite a thought provoking issue, he said. Anagnostopoulos, recalled the tsar's seal inside of the historic church bell and the unique sound quality it had because it was made out of a mixture of gold and lead, adding, “Even if those who stole the bell attempted to melt the bell and then to sell it, they would get only $3,000. Unfortunately, this precious historic treasure is not in our hands anymore.” Anagnostopoulos told the Turkish Daily News that social differences among the Greeks of Kurtulus and Dolapdere neighborhoods in the early 19th century were also reflected in the daily life and prayers. Residents of the neighborhood of Kurtulus, formerly called Tatavla, were mostly upper class families. However, Dolapdere and its surroundings were mostly inhabited by poor sea toilers and Greek guildsmen. The hill between Tatavla and Dolapdere was a big obstacle for transportation. Anagnostopoulos said the Greek community that lived around the area collected donations among each other and built a wooden church in Dolapdere in the early nineteenth century. Anagnostopoulos, referring to academic studies and research as well as church records, said about 18,000 Greeks lived in the area at the beginning of the 19th century and the small wooden church could not respond adequately to needs of the community. At that time, Russia's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire reported the situation to the Russian tsar Alexander II. Finally, in 1893, the present Church of Ayia Evangelistra replaced the small wooden church thanks to the financial recourses provided by the tsar.
‘Human life more important than urban regeneration'
Anagnostopoulos studied biology at the Darmstad Technical University in Germany. He recalled his adventure of a journey from being a man of science to being a man of faith: “Churches and other community foundations are the only places that Turkey's Greek and Armenian communities come together. My grandfathers and my uncles were all clergymen and I was brought up in church atmosphere. Thus, the church was always the number one element of my life before science. It is no surprise that I became a cleric.” Anagnostopoulos has observed the effects of poor life conditions on Dolapdere's people and said these conditions are extremely unhealthy. Describing the shanty settlements as a sociological phenomenon, Anagnostopoulos said, “I am a man of faith and I am mostly concerned with how to heal the lives of people living in these shanty houses rather than rehabilitating the urban area around the Ayia Evangelistra.” Anagnostopoulos also referred to restoration projects by UNESCO in Fenar and said that urban rehabilitation should also go hand in hand with projects providing new settlements for the inhabitants whose economic situation is mostly very bad. “If the surrounding area of the Church of Ayia Evangelistra will be gentrified, the first thing to do is to rehabilitate the life conditions of locals living there”, he said. Anagnostopoulos is taking part in putting a project together with Istanbul Bilgi University's Dolapdere campus in upcoming days. The project will shed light on the lives and life styles of Greeks who inhabited Dolapdere, Kasimpasa and Tatavla (Kurtulus) through history.
Water is holy in Greek culture:
Water is holy in Greek culture. That is why each Greek Orthodox church includes an ayazma, small chapels built on natural waters. Anagnostopoulos said Ayia Evangelistra also had natural water in the past but the reason it does not flow currently could be a change in its direction. “We now store municipal water instead of natural water and distribute the water to believers after blessing it during a service at the beginning of every month,” he added. Natural water cannot be obtained anymore but humidity has damaged the church. Anagnostopoulos said the congregation began restoration activity in the church building last May and covered the walls with marble for protection. Hundreds of believers from Greece came to Istanbul by bus and, on March 25, visited the Church of Ayias Evangelistra for the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Anagnostopoulos said. “The icons inside the Ayias Evangelistra are believed to be miraculous,” he added.
Why Anatolian Greeks were called Rums
The priest criticized the common view in the world that Greeks of Greece and Anatolian Greeks have large cultural differences. He said, “Greeks and Rums are not two separate cultures. The only difference between us is the accent we use. We, Anatolian Rums, speak North Greek.” Anagnostopoulos continued, “Only Turks call Greeks Yunanli, the people of Yunan, in history. Yunan means Ionia and Ionia in history was located in Izmir (Smyrna) and around. The word Ion was transformed into Yunan in Arabic and then transmitted to Turkish.” He said that a new title was needed when a Greek kingdom was founded in the south of present day Greece in 1821. Europe referred to this kingdom as the Greek kingdom. The word Grecos includes all the ethnic groups living in Greece. “The Turkish word Yunan used to define us is a wrong term. We are known as Greeks throughout the world. Another reason why Turks call us Rums is also that Ottoman sultans used to call all the Orthodox communities living within the borders of the Empire ‘Rum,' term derived from Roman, and the patriarchate was shown as the head of the Rums,” Anagnostopoulos concluded: “That is why Anatolian Greeks were called Rums.”
President Abdullah Gül Will Meet With Us President George W. Bush in Washington on Jan. 8, only weeks after Bush reassured Ankara of the continuation of US assistance to Turkey in its fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq.
Gül's visit comes at the invitation of Bush, and preparations have been under way for a few weeks. The latest senior-level visit to Washington from Ankara, which took place last month, was carried out by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. During the Nov. 5 meeting at the White House, Bush defined the PKK as an "enemy of Turkey, of the United States and of Iraq." The US president also vowed to provide real-time intelligence, which the Turkish military could use to strike PKK targets.
As of Monday, during a telephone call placed by Erdogan, the two leaders reviewed the progress in the fight against the PKK. They welcomed the current cooperation against the terrorist group and agreed that it would continue. Turkey and the US share critical intelligence about PKK movements in Iraq, and intelligence from the US is believed to have guided a series of cross-border aerial strikes by the Turkish military against PKK targets in northern Iraq since Dec. 16.
Nonetheless, the agenda of the Jan. 8 meeting between the two presidents will not be limited to ongoing cooperation against the PKK, as a resolution passed this autumn by a US congressional committee that called the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide is likely to be placed on agenda by the Turkish side. Gül is expected to explain to Bush in detail the likely harmful impact of adoption of the resolution by the House on bilateral relations between the two NATO allies.
The political turmoil in Turkey's neighbor Iraq, the presidential election stalemate in Lebanon and Iran's controversial nuclear program as well as bilateral cooperation between Ankara and Washington in the energy field are also likely to be discussed by the two leaders.
"The agendas of these kinds of meetings in Turkish-US relations have always been sizeable. All the issues will be handled," an official from the Foreign Ministry told Today's Zaman.
Turkish-US relations experienced ups and downs during Gül's term as foreign minister before he took office as the new president in late August, but eventually, Gül's calm and logical approach helped ease the tension with Washington. In July 2006, Gül and his US counterpart, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, were posing for pictures in Washington with smiling faces as they jointly unveiled a "shared vision document" which they said would boost what they described as the two nations' strategic partnership.
Meanwhile, Ankara will be hosting four separate delegations from the US Congress in the coming weeks. The US delegations will have talks at both the Foreign Ministry and Parliament.
26.12.2007, SÜLEYMAN KURT ANKARA
Turkey Allocates $120 Mln For Promotion Activities
Turkey has allocated a $120 million budget to promote its tourism riches in Europe and across the world, officials from the Culture and Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry's official campaign to promote Turkey's resorts will be launched in January. In 2007, the ministry had three different campaigns, targeting separately the European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern markets. The ministry found that the strategy worked well and so it will also be the method of this year's campaigns to promote Turkey. The ministry has launched tenders to award the promotion campaigns to private advertising companies; some of these have already been completed.
Özgür Özarslan, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's general manager, said in the past four years, campaigns to promote Turkish tourism have begun as early in the year as January and have proved to be quite fruitful in attracting more tourists. The ministry's $120 million budget to promote Turkey in 2008 will be allocated to 10 separate campaigns in different regions of the world. Video clip showings, billboards, fairs and Internet-based advertising will all be parts of this year's promotional campaigns, Özarslan explained, adding that tourists from the Far East will be lured by highlighting the wealth of sites, artifacts, buildings and monuments Turkey offers for cultural tourism. Turkey's natural beauties, including the sea, sand and sky, in addition to health and spa tourism will be used to attract European tourists.
In the past, representatives of Turkey's tourism sector abroad and ministry officials were usually confronted with questions regarding safety in Turkey. In the past few years, though, this question has started to disappear, Özarslan said. "When we go abroad, we now see that Turkey's image as an unsafe country has disappeared. We don't get questions in that direction anymore." He said the change was a result of campaigns the ministry has been conducting in the past few years.
In the upcoming year, the ministry plans to intensify its campaigns to promote Turkish holiday resorts of Turkey in the United States. Özarslan said the campaign sought to increase the number of wealthier US tourists.
EMITT a ground to foster promotion
The Eastern Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Exhibition (EMITT) will be held on Feb. 14-17, 2008 at the TÜYAP Beylikdüzü Exhibition and Congress Center in Istanbul. Thousands of international visitors are anticipated to attend the exhibition, to be held for the 12th time. The number of the countries that have applied to attend EMITT, which is among the top 10 tourism exhibitions, has risen by 50 percent, and it is estimated that the number of visitors will increase by 100 percent.
Among the countries that will attend the exhibition for the first time this year are Kyrgyzstan, Peru, the Seychelles, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic and Turkmenistan. The Seychelles will enter the Turkish tourism market after three years. Greece, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan and Palestine, which have attended the exhibition in previous years, will step up their activities within the context of the exhibition.
Some of the 55 countries that will attend the exhibition with over 2,500 participant companies are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Crimea, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Georgia, Holland, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Korea, Macedonia, Morocco, the Maldives, Malaysia, Moldova, Nepal, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), the United Arab Emirates (Dubai-Sharjah), Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
EMITT Director Hacer Aydin noted that the growing number of countries willing to attend EMITT and that those which have attended before and which now want to attend with a larger number companies was an indicator that EMITT was fulfilling its function properly. "They have apparently profited from the pay-offs of having attended the exhibition and thus want to put this year's exhibition to good use," she said.
The countries' tourism companies that will attend EMITT will cooperate with Turkish travel agencies and tourism companies in order to increase the region's tourism potential. Istanbul Today's Zaman with wires
26.12.2007, Aslihan Aydin Ankara
Armenians Debate Ties With Turkey
TNA with Wire Services / Ankara 25 December 2007
The Armenian National Assembly on Thursday and Friday held two days of hearings on Turkey-Armenia relations, during which Armenian Revolutionary Federation Political Director claimed the border between Turkey and Armenia was drawn by the 1920 Sevres Treaty, to which the Ottoman Empire was a signatory and claimed the current border that was inherited from the Soviet Union should be renegotiated.
In testimony presented to the hearing, Giro Manoyan claimed that Armenia, as a member of several international organizations, has recognized the borders inherited from the Soviet Union, whereas the legal border is the one outlined by the internationally adopted 1920 Sevres Treaty.
He suggested that the National Assembly adopt legislation that prohibits the Armenian government from signing any treaty or document that does not recognize the boundaries set by the Sevres Treaty.
Manoyan also recommended that preliminary programs be implemented to engage the executive and legislative branches in the discussion of the aforementioned argument within the international community.
Manoyan also said the closure of the border by Turkey was key factor in addressing Turkey-Armenia relations, claiming that Turkey's failure to recognize the so-called Armenian Genocide and adopt measures for proper reparations and restitutions also impeded the process of normalizing relations.
He also emphasized that the 16-year history of the Republic of Armenia has demonstrated that threats and short-term or temporary steps do not yield tangible results in this process.
The Parliamentary hearings were initiated by the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Foreign Relations.
Participating in the hearings were the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and ARF Supreme Body Representative Armen Rustamian, the Speaker of the National Assembly Tigran Torosyan, Vice Speaker and Presidential Candidate Vahan Hovannesian, the Director of Turkish Studies at the Armenian Oriental Institute Ruben Safrastian, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, EU Special Representative Peter Semneby, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Hayk Demoyan, and a number of other politicians, foreign diplomats, and representatives from Armenia's intelligentsia. A journalist from the Turkish Armenian Weekly Agos was also present.
Also invited to the two-day hearings were two dozen prominent Turks, including Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk. But none accepted the invitation.
Committee Chairman Rustamian outlined that the purpose of the hearings was to clarify the reasons of the current crisis in the Armenian-Turkish relations, to assess the nature of the existing problems and to make clear the opportunities and mechanisms of parliamentary diplomacy in the normalization of relations.
"This hearing is long over due," he said. "There has been no issue that has had such significance in the history of our nation--for its past, present and future. It was clear that our parliament had to engage in such process to clarify its goals. I am expecting comprehensive, deep and interested discussions."
Rustamian added that the lack of relations between the two countries exceeds the boundaries of the two states and have a great impact on contemporary geopolitical developments. The Parliament had to get involved in the process, he said.
During his speech at the hearing, Vice Speaker Hovannesian, a member of the ARF Bureau, stated that Armenian-Turkish relations have entered a dead-end.
"As long as Talaat Pasha, Enver and Jamal are seen as national heroes in Turkey, "nothing will change," he added.
He claimed Turkey is run by a totalitarian regime and said Armenia cannot cooperate with a dictatorship.
"Like a dictatorship, Turkey tries to control not just the present, but also the past, he claimed. He claimed Turkey has blocked serious investigations into the Armenian Genocide claims.
The parliamentary hearings must lead to a consensus on what Armenia expects from Turkey, Hovannesian stated. The hearings must lay out what Armenia considers to be proper reparations and retributions and the Turkish Parliament should be informed about it, he added.
Hovannesian added that reforms in Turkey are being made in a distorted fashion. Turkey's admission in the EU will be a defeat, he claimed. "Turkey will not adopt European values. Instead, Europe will end up adopting Turkish values, which are completely alien to the EU."
Foreign Minister Oskanian said Turkey's precondition that Armenia must abandon genocide recognition is inadmissible for Armenia.
"Turkey wants fulfillment of its preconditions first and only then establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border," he said during his address to the committee. "Show me a European state which kept borders closed because of problems with neighbors."
Oskanian said, Turkey's entry to the EU "would be good for us in the political, economic and moral senses." But he made it clear that Armenia believes it should happen only after Ankara drops its preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and opening the Turkish-Armenian border. He said his government is worried that the EU will be more lenient towards the Turks than it was towards the former Communist states of Eastern Europe.
"Our concern is whether the EU will be as fair and demanding as it was towards other [nations seeking EU membership] or will take a political decision on Turkey's membership for other considerations," he said. "The international community rates opening of the border as the primary condition. Show me a European state which kept borders closed because of problems with neighbors," the Minister said.
"Any country would want its neighbor to be predictable and act within the framework of a clear value system," said Parliament Speaker Torosian, who is also a leading member of Sarkisian's Republican Party. But he rejected Turkish demands that the Armenian Diaspora stop campaigning for international recognition of the Armenian genocide and Turkey's compliance with EU standards.
While the EU stands for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, it has not included the issue on the agenda of its accession talks with Ankara.
Peter Semneby, the EU's special representative to the South Caucasus, avoided any criticism of the Turkish policy on Armenia as he spoke during the hearings. He said instead that Yerevan should not be worried about a growing Turkish presence in the region.
"It's in Armenia's interests that Turkey plays a larger role in the South Caucasus and that it gets a stake in the well being of the whole region," Semneby said.
Torosian, however voiced his concern that Turkey's decision to not participate in the discussions would not contribute to dialogue.
Olli Rehn: Article 301 Poisoning Turkey’s Relations With Armenia
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey is preparing to amend a controversial law on freedom of speech that has been criticized repeatedly by the European Union and could slow EU accession talks with Brussels.
The Justice Ministry will hand the draft amendment to article 301 of the Penal Code, which makes it an offence to "insult Turkishness", to the cabinet within 15 days, Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin told reporters on Tuesday.
It was not clear when the cabinet would approve the amendment.
The European Commission’s annual progress report on Turkey, published in November, called on Ankara to make "significant further efforts" on freedom of expression and religion, and noted that more people had been prosecuted under article 301 last year than in 2005.
Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has recommended that the EU not extend accession talks to the key areas of justice and human rights until the article is changed.
EU officials said the law was poisoning Turkey’s relations with Armenia.
Ankara began EU accession negotiations in 2005 but the EU suspended talks last December on eight of the 35 chapters or policy areas into which EU law is divided after Ankara refused to open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus, Reuters reports.
Turkey To Increase Efforts Against Claims On Genocide Against Armenians – Ambassador
Azerbaijan, Baku / ????? corr. E.Huseynli, S.Ilhamgizi / Azerbaijan and Turkey will increase efforts directed against claims on the genocide against Armenians, stated the new appointed Ambassador of Turkey in Azerbaijan Hulusi Gilinj by a telephone from Ankara.
“Measures have been taken in this direction. And I think such measures will be taken in the future too,” the Ambassador said.
Armenians stated that they were undergone to genocide by the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1923. France and Holland recognized genocide against Armenians. Turkey does not agree with such a statement. Armenians use such claims in order to prevent Turkey join the European Union.
Turkey closed its boundaries with Armenia. Ankara stated that it would not open its boundaries with Armenia until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be settled.
Gilinj who will function as an ambassador in Azerbaijan from February 2008 expressed regret towards occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenians.
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.
Rustamian: Normalizing Relations With Armenia Fall Out Of Pan-Turkism
Yerkir.am 21Dec 07
The key reason for the current crisis in the Armenian-Turkish relations is that Turkey puts forward preconditions, National Assembly's Foreign Relations Committee chairman Armen Rustamian said at the parliamentary hearings on the Armenian-Turkish relations.
He said that those preconditions include the recognition of Turkey's territorial integrity through a unilateral double ratification of the Kars Treaty and ensure Nakhijevan's tie with Azerbaijan, stop pursuing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and settle the Karabakh conflict by withdrawing troops from Karabakh and adjacent territories. He says Turkey is questioning the only Armenian-Turkish treaty by demanding a double ratification of the Kars Treaty.
Nakhijevan is mentioned because it was given to Azerbaijan as a territory under protection and not a territory being a part of it.
By demanding that the Armenian Genocide issue is not raised, Turkey aims to avoid any responsibility - territorial or material. By putting forward the Karabakh settlement issue, Turkey is becoming an unofficial party to the conflict.
Establishing relations with Armenia falls out of the pan-Turkism plans of Turkey and Azerbaijan, Rustamian said, adding that pan-Turkism poises threat not only to Armenia but also to the security of the entire region. He said that Turkey's admission into the European Union could be favorable for Armenia if becoming a European country is a sincere goal and not a means to boost its pan-Turkism.
Turkish M.F.A. Expresses Discontent Over Rejection Of Perincek's Appeal By Swiss F.S.C.
ANKARA - Turkish MFA said the rejection of the appeal of Dogu Perincek, leader of Worker's Party (IP) by The Federal Supreme Court(FSC)of Switzerland was "a serious violation of freedom of expression".
FSC of Switzerland had announced its rejection of the appeal of Perincek, IP leader, against the verdicts of Lausanne Court of First Instance and Regional Court of Appeal on 19 December 2007.
"We maintain the same views put forward in our press release which was made following the verdict of Lausanne Court of First Instance. We consider the verdicts of these courts, above all, as serious violations of freedom of expression," said a press release issued by Turkish MFA on Thursday.
Turkish MFA noted that 'an understanding which was predicated on subjective assessments' prevailed in the said verdicts instead of universal norms, principles and rules of law.
"In these verdicts, the historical facts have been replaced by the self-constructed memory of Armenian circles and the erroneous convictions of some circles concerning the 1915 events," said the press release.
Turkish MFA recalled the proposal it had made in 2005 to Armenia for the establishment a joint commission of historians to study the incidents of 1915 and said, "history should be evaluated and commented by historians and not by judicial or legislative organs."
On the other hand, Jean-Philippe Jeanneraz, Spokesperson of the Swiss MFA told A.A that the Swiss Government was of the belief that formation of a commission of historians would be beneficial for shedding light to the incidents that had occured in the last period of the Ottoman Empire, on Thursday.
Turkish MFA welcomed the statement made by the Swiss MFA following the verdict of FSC.
IP leader Perincek, who had been fined to 9,000 francs for breaching the disputed Swiss law on "denying" Armenian allegations of genocide saying "Armenian genocide is an imperialist lie", had filed an appeal with the FSC in March 2007.
Watchdog Expresses Concern About Armenia's Media
The Associated Press December 21, 2007
VIENNA, Austria: A media freedom watchdog expressed concern Friday about harassment and violence against Armenia's media, saying there was an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative at the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also said he was worried that the country's Gala TV may stop broadcasting as a result of pressure by authorities and called on officials to demonstrate goodwill for a compromise settlement.
"The recent cases of harassment and violence against independent and opposition media have contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the journalistic community in Armenia," Haraszti said in a letter to Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
Gala TV is facing two lawsuits that could result in the company being forced to pay about €58,000 (US$83,450) into the state budget and the loss of its right to use its broadcasting tower, according to a statement issued by Haraszti's office.
"I trust that the local authorities will not make arbitrary decisions and demonstrate goodwill for a compromise settlement so that Gala TV can continue broadcasting," Haraszti said in the letter to Oskanian.
In reference to a Dec. 13 explosion at the entrance of Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, a Yerevan-based opposition newspaper, Haraszti said: "I urge Armenia's law enforcement bodies to punish the perpetrators not just for the sake of justice but also to give support to freedom of expression in the country."
A Rumour From Ankara: Reciprocating The Injustice
The Istanbulian Personal Chronicles of a Turkish Journalist
December 23, 2007
Even though the historical proofs are not enough and there is no international consensus or a court decision yet, in some countries, it is illegal to announce that the claims about the so-called Armenian genocide is a lie.
Switzerland is one of these countries with such a law, which clearly contradicts with the freedom of speech. Dogu Perincek, the leader of Workers' Party of Turkey -a figure that I personally dislike, was -unfortunately- convicted and sentenced in Switzerland because he denied "the genocide." Moreover, Swiss authorities obstructed his right to defend himself by not issuing him a visa prior to his trial.
In Ankara, there are some rumors about a response against states that adopted such laws. It is said that after the imminent abolishment of Article 301 of the Penal Code, Turkey may adopt "countering" regulations. The law will make any person totally free to discuss and even support the so-called Armenian genocide in Turkey -which is actually happening even now- AS LONG AS they are not the citizens of those countries that don't allow Turks to debate the same issue.
For example: In today's conditions, if you are -let's say- a Turkish or a Greek or a Spanish or a Japanese citizen, your freedom of expression would be totally guaranteed on Armenian subject, just like other issues. However, if you are a Swiss, you won't be allowed to support the genocide claims in Turkey, as a response to the current Swiss law.
Such an exclusive law might be seen as discriminative at first, but it is actually in harmony with international law and the principle of reciprocity in international relations.
Though I am not sure if these gossips are groundless or not...
Pamuk: Prophet Or Poseur? Claire Berlinski
December 22, 2007
Other Colors Essays and a Story By Orhan Pamuk
Translated by Maureen Freely
The Globe and Mail, Knopf Canada, 433 pages, $34.95
The novels of Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's most celebrated and controversial man of letters, have been translated into some 20 languages. His novels Snow and My Name is Red are widely considered world-class achievements. The themes of Pamuk's oeuvre include the conflict between the East and the West, the tension between Islam and modernity, and the intense melancholia of his native Istanbul. Admirers find his style complex, multilayered and allegorical; detractors find him faddish and incomprehensible.
On Sept. 11, 2001, writers treating the themes of East contra West and Islam contra modernity hit the literary jackpot. Pamuk - Eastern enough to write novels about Ottoman calligraphers and Islamic radicals, Western enough to write them in a postmodern, magic-realist style - became the darling of the Western literary establishment, serially winning the most prestigious and lucrative literary awards in the Western world: the IMPAC Dublin Award, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the Prix Médicis étranger, the Premio Grinzane Cavour.
Then, in 2005, Pamuk remarked to a Swiss weekly newsmagazine that "thirty thousand Kurds, and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody dares to talk about it." By "these lands" he meant Turkey. By "nobody," it is not quite clear what he meant; as far as I can tell - and I live in Turkey myself - nobody here will stop talking about it. But the sentiment in Turkey, generally speaking, is that the Armenians had it coming, and quite a few more Kurds want killing.
Pamuk seemed to be suggesting otherwise. The Turkish government brought criminal charges against him under the infamous Article 301, which forbids citizens from insulting Turkishness. Pamuk was in one stroke elevated from symbolist writer to symbol. The European Union's Enlargement Commissioner called Pamuk's case a "litmus test" of Turkey's commitment to European values; writers around the world rightly denounced the charges as an outrage against free expression. In the end, the case was dropped on a technicality.
Facing death threats at home, Pamuk sensibly decamped for New York. But his prosecution, combined with his status as ambassador at large for the westernized Islamic world, functioned like camembert in a mousetrap to the Nobel committee, which in 2006 awarded him the Nobel Prize for literature. Pamuk is a talented writer, but no one in his right mind believes this was an award based on literary merit.
Pamuk has for the past three decades been filling his notebooks with sketches, half-finished short stories, thoughts about literature and reflections on the travails of life as a writer and a Turk. He has compiled them, loosely edited, into Other Colors, "a book made of ideas, images and fragments of life that have still not found the way into one of my novels." Although it contains previously published works, such as his Nobel acceptance speech and the transcripts of various interviews he has granted over the years, it is mostly comprised of non-fiction essays written some years ago but only now seeing the light of day: literary criticism, reminiscences of his boyhood and particularly of his father, reflections on the challenges of quitting smoking, a discussion of his wristwatches, two short meditations on seagulls and their sad fates, ruminations on the pathos of being a Turk and the Turk's endless, resentful fascination with Europe. There are more descriptions of Istanbul in the melancholy vein of his previous memoir, Istanbul: Memories and the City.
But this book is about Pamuk himself, particularly the challenges of being a great writer and a severe depressive. The collection has been received with rapture by many critics, who celebrate this offering as a unique window into Pamuk's interior life. Indeed, it is precisely that. Unfortunately, it seems that Pamuk's interior life is largely that of a lugubrious poseur.
"In order to be happy I must have my daily dose of literature," Pamuk gravely introduces himself. "In this way I am no different from the patient who must take a spoon of medicine each day." If you didn't quite get the point, he repeats it again two sentences later: "For me, literature is medicine. Like the medicine that others take by spoon or injection, my daily dose of literature - my daily fix, if you will - must meet certain standards." If he is forced "to go a long stretch without his paper-and-ink cure," he feels "misery setting inside me like cement. My body has difficulty moving, my joints get stiff, my head turns to stone, my perspiration even seems to smell differently."
Is he serious? Yes, he is. For page upon page, Pamuk stresses in these self-enamoured tones that he is a man who really likes to read books. Good ones, too, by famous writers like Dostoyevsky and Borges - not, you know, easy ones. He's different from other Turks, you see. But he's not like the Europeans, either. He's an outsider, eternally apart, rejected by all, accepted by no one (the Nobel committee aside). Life hurts. A seagull croaks.
There is a fleeting moment of insight when he later remarks that he wants "to say a few things about my library, but I don't wish to praise it in the manner of one who proclaims his love of books only to let you know how exceptional he is, and how much more cultured and refined than you." He negates this half-hearted essay at modesty in the very next sentence: "Still, I live in a country that views the non-reader as the norm and the reader as somehow defective, so I cannot but respect the affectations, obsessions and pretensions of the tiny handful who read and build libraries amid the general tedium and boorishness."
Sentiments such as these may make the reader suspect that Pamuk was prosecuted in Turkey not because he spoke the truth about Armenia and the Kurds but because he is a patronizing pest. But let's not quibble: Pamuk needs to read or he will die. That, surely, is the mark of a particularly excellent reader. And he is, moreover, caught between East and West, which makes his affliction all the more acute.
Pamuk lived and wrote in Cihangir, a lovely neighbourhood on the European side of Istanbul. This happens to be where I now live and write. From Cihangir, if your window faces the Bosphorus, on a clear day you can see Asia. So I'm caught between East and West myself, not to mention caught between north and south, and caught, at least twice a day, between daytime and nighttime. (By the way, you would not know it from reading Pamuk, but it is usually a clear day here. Istanbul is a bright, vibrant, cheerful city.) It is physically impossible not to be caught between East and West, actually. We all are. So may I take this opportunity to beg Pamuk, everyone who writes about Pamuk, and indeed, everyone who writes about Istanbul, to retire forever the phrase "caught between East and West"?
Yes, Istanbul is located geographically between Asia and Europe. Yes, Turks tend to be rather aware of this. Turkey, as Pamuk observes - and if you think about it for even a second, it should not come as a surprise - exhibits both Oriental and Occidental qualities. But this "caught between East and West" business - how much more literary mileage does he plan to get out of it? First time: a fair observation. Thousandth time: 999 times too many. (Next up: New York is a melting pot; Paris is the City of Lights; there's nothing in Texas but steers and queers.)
Even the hamburgers of his youth were, for Pamuk, "like so much else in Istanbul, a synthesis of East and West." So were the frankfurters, in fact. And like everything in Istanbul, they made him feel gloomy. "I would look at myself standing there, eating my hamburger and drinking my ayran, and see that I was not handsome, and I would feel alone and guilty and lost in the city's great crowds."
For this is his ultimate subject: his very sad mood. Forget for a moment the literary accolades and imagine what it would be like to go on a date with this melancholy egomaniac. He shows up at the café wearing a black turtleneck, brandishing his annotated copy of Notes from Underground, making sure the title faces out. Within minutes he tells you that, unlike everyone else in Turkey, he reads. "Books are what keep me going," he says.
"Really? I like books too," you say politely.
"Let me explain what I feel on a day when I've not written well, am unable to lose myself in a book," he adds gravely. "First, the world changes before my eyes; it becomes unbearable, abominable."
"Oh," you say. "That sounds very painful."
"I feel as if there is no line between life and death," he continues. "It's worse than depression. I want to disappear. I don't care if I live or die. Or if the world comes to an end, even. In fact, if it ended right this minute, so much the better."
It is a bright spring day in Istanbul. He tells you that he hates the springtime.
Pamuk is a creature of Istanbul's haute bourgeoisie, a class of Turks much given to examining their own misery and alienation and finding them intensely significant, much in the way the 19th-century romantics admired their own tuberculosis. The Turkish elite is, as Pamuk is painfully aware, a parvenu class.
What seems to escape him is that in stressing how much he reads and the quality of his taste, he does not display his distance from the social cohort from which he emerged. Rather, he marks himself as its caricature. Young women from this social class dye their hair purple and weep a lot. The older women complain of migraines. The young men are sent by their parents to psychiatrists who trained in the United States; they wear black trench coats, rarely shave and tell everyone who will listen that no one in Turkey understands them.
"Time passes," Pamuk scribbles in his notebook. "There's nothing. It's already nighttime. Doom and defeat. ... I am hopelessly miserable. ... I could find nothing in these books that remotely resembled my mounting misery." I suppose sentiments like these are not uniquely Turkish; teenagers around the world fill their diaries with this kind of drivel. But usually they read those diaries when they grow up, cringe, then throw them out along with their old Morrissey albums.
Mind you, Pamuk is not all gloom; he is immensely cheered by the thought of his own moral gravity: "A novelist might spend the whole day playing, but at the same time he carries the deepest conviction of being more serious than others." He brightens up when he considers his own accomplishments, too: "Having published seven novels, I can safely say that, even if it takes some effort, I am reliably able to become the author who can write the books of my dreams." Sometimes he works, he tells us, "with the incandescence of a mystic trying to leave his body."
And did he mention that he really, really likes books? - although I do have to wonder, occasionally, just how carefully he is reading them; in his discussion of Nabokov, for example, he describes Humbert Humbert as a man who "searches for timeless beauty with all the innocence of a small child." Beg pardon? Humbert searches for timeless beauty by molesting an innocent small child. There is quite a difference.
There are, here and there, flashes of the gloomy talent for which he is rightly admired. Reading the vignette A Seagull Lies Dying on the Shore, I felt quite bad for the seagull (although I am pleased to report that those same seagulls, which I see from my window, look perfectly healthy).
And there is one excellent section, quite chilling for those of us who live here, about the great earthquake of 1999. Pamuk recalls wondering whether, come the next big quake, the minarets of the Cihangir mosque would fall on his roof. I live next door to that very mosque. I had not thought of that. His comment prompted me to step outside and contemplate those minarets with a certain unease. Discussing the aftermath of the earthquake, Pamuk for a brief moment removes his gaze from the mirror and observes his surroundings with interest and even a hint of irony: "One rumour had it that the earthquake was the work of Kurdish separatist guerrillas, another that it was caused by Americans who were now coming to our aid with a huge military hospital ship. ('How do you suppose they made it here so fast?' the conspiracy theory went.)" Yes, there at last is an honest line; it will certainly sound familiar to anyone living in Turkey these days.
But the rest of the book is the kind of thing you can only publish if you have won a Nobel Prize and feel entirely confident that no matter what you say, everyone will buy it and the critics will be too afraid to point out the obvious: Sometimes it is best to keep your interior life to yourself.
Claire Berlinski is a writer living in Istanbul. She is the author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, Too, and Lion Eyes, a novel set in Paris and Istanbul.
Oh So Weary
I come home dead tired in the evenings. Looking straight ahead, at the roads and the pavements. Angry at something, hurt, incensed. Though my imagination is still conjuring up beautiful images, even these pass quickly in the film in my head. Time passes. There's nothing. It's already nighttime. Doom and defeat. What's for supper?...
What's on television? No, I'm not watching television; it only makes me angry. I'm very angry. I like meatballs, too - so where are the meatballs? All of life is here, around this table.
The angels call me to account.
What did you do today, darling?
All my life ... I've worked. In the evenings, I've come home. On television - but I'm not watching television. I answered the phone a few times, got angry at a few people; then I worked, wrote. ... I became a man ... and also - yes, much obliged - an animal.
What did you do today, darling?
Can't you see? I've got salad in my mouth. My teeth are crumbling in my jaw. My brain is melting from unhappiness and trickling down my throat. Where's the salt, where's the salt, where's the salt? We're eating our lives away. And a little yogurt, too. The brand called Life."
From the essay Dead Tired in the Evening, in Other Colors.
Armenian Village Lacks Priest, Opens Greenhouse In Anatolia
December 27, 2007 Vercihan Ziflioglu Antakya - Turkish Daily News
Surp Asdvazszsin, the one and only church in Vakifliköy, a village in the city of Antakya, was built on land used for silk farming 150 years ago. In 1996, the wooden church that was in a state of ruin was restored. A church bell was brought from Istanbul
The residents of Vakifliköy have traditionally earned their living from the citrus trade, and a new organic greenhouse project set to open this week could help entice the youth to stay and not seek brighter prospects elsewhere.
Located four kilometers from the city of Antakya (Hatay) near Turkey's border with Syria, Vakifliköy is a tiny settlement founded on the foot of Mount Mousa (Moses). The number of inhabitants in this far-flung village, the only Armenian village in Anatolia, is just 150 people in 30 households during the winter months. Elderly people constitute a large part of the population here because many of the youth have moved to larger cities or abroad in search of work and better fortunes.
The village that is about 130 meters above sea level was established in the mid-19th century. It remained within the borders of the Ottoman administration until 1918, the French Administration between 1918 and 1938 and the short-lived Republic of Hatay between 1938 and 1939. A large part of the Armenian population in Bityas, Haci Habibi, Yogunoluk, Hidiriye, Kebusiye, and Vakif settlements in the foothills of Mount Mousa and around Hatay, which decided to join the Republic of Turkey on June 29, 1939, migrated to Europe. Around 70 Armenian families stayed.
Organic greenhouse activities comply with EU standards
A 5,000-square meter organic greenhouse area will open in Vakifliköy in the next few days. Berç Kartun, the administrator in the village for 14 years, said organic produce will be produced in this greenhouse in compliance with European Union standards.
Kartun said the villagers grow many types of oranges as well as lemons in Vakifliköy. Vakifliköy's organic greenhouse project was planned to comply with EU standards and submitted to the World Bank a few years ago. The project won first prize.
Kartun said the young people of the village have migrated to big cities or Europe. Families with children also left the village because the village's elementary school did not have enough students to remain open, Kartun said.
Armenians born in Vakifliköy but residing in other cities in Turkey and abroad come together in their village during the summer, increasing the population to 250 people, Kartun told the Turkish Daily News.
Church exists without priest
The 150-year-old village church Surp Asdvazsazsin (St. Mary the Virgin Church) was restored in 1996 but no rituals or ceremonies are held since the village doesn't have a priest. Kartun said they had submitted a formal request for a priest to the Armenian Patriarchate, and added, “we used to have a priest living in the village until 2002 but when he died we petitioned the Patriarchate in Istanbul and asked for the appointment of a priest to Vakifliköy.” But the Patriarchate in Istanbul also faces difficulties due to an insufficient number of priests for the 38 Armenian churches in Istanbul.
Luiz Pakar, official spokesperson for the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, confirmed Kartun's statements, and said they don't even have enough priests to staff Istanbul's churches.
Misak Hergel and Canik Çapar, both born in Vakifliköy, said they cannot hold Sunday services without a priest and that this is a sad situation. Vakifliköy has a very small number of young people, which is why almost no wedding ceremonies are held. The village gets a priest only on Christmas, Easter and when a funeral is held.
Hergel said the land that the church was located on was used for silk farming 150 years ago before a single-storey wooden church building was constructed.
Villagers said the church was almost in ruins before it was restored in 1996. The church even got a new bell that was sent from Istanbul.
“We petitioned several authorities about restoration in the past but never received a positive response,” Çapar said. He continued, “restoration was suddenly permitted when our hopes were completely abandoned. I think this is related to the process of Turkey's integration with the European Union… However, we should have already had this right within the framework of minority rights,” he added.
Harvest festival attracts visitors from abroad
The church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Sunday closest to Aug. 15 each year. The Armenian harvest-time tradition, the Blessing of the Grapes, takes place during this feast. Hergel said the feast has been welcoming many guests from various countries from around the world for the last six years. They are served an Armenian traditional dish Harisa, which is made with wheat and chicken boiled in large kettles.
Beyond Recent Turmoil: The Future Of Us - Turkey Relations
December 27, 2007 David MERAHN
The relationship between the United States and Turkey has certainly experienced some difficult challenges of late. Between the "Armenian Genocide" resolution and growing tensions over Turkish actions in northern Iraq, the "strategic partnership" between these two nations seemed in danger of falling apart.
However, as the year comes to a close these seemingly insurmountable obstacles to cooperation have, at least for the moment, been worked out. The "genocide" resolution lost much of its support, and has been shelved from the voting agenda. A Nov. 5 meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan resulted in a new agreement and understanding about fighting PKK terrorism. This previous week we saw the Turkish military conduct the first widely acknowledged cross-border operation into northern Iraq since the aforementioned meeting. Many have suggested the anti-PKK strike was done in part with the new intelligence-sharing program with the Americans. Others dismiss this claim and say the action was taken without American knowledge, or permission. There were some concerns about the speed with which Turkey notified the U.S. military that it would be entering Iraqi airspace, but largely the U.S. response to the move has been minimal. While there will still be logistical concerns and political weariness, for the most part the new understanding about the importance of sharing intelligence and rooting out the PKK seems to be working. This is a marked change from even weeks ago when such a move by Turkish forces would have garnered a much bigger response.
All of this indicates that while problems still persist, the U.S.-Turkey bond has survived the storm, and perhaps even grown stronger as a result. So with these recent crises averted and new ties formed, the question remains: what lies ahead for the two nations in the year to come?
The Bush administration has made it very clear that they expect to accomplish a great deal before leaving office in January 2009. The next year could bear witness to the most active engagement between the two NATO allies since the Korean War. U.S. forces have seen marked progress in Iraq, with a dramatic reduction in both military and civilian casualties. This success has provided encouragement to those working to create a politically stable Iraq. As violence is curbed, the chance for political reconciliation becomes increasingly likely. At the crux of any potential Iraqi unity is role of the North and the fate of Kirkuk. A point made clear by the surprise visit made to Kirkuk on Dec. 18 by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The fate of this city, whether Kirkuk is under the central government or the regional Kurdish authority, is supposed to be decided in a referendum carried out before the new year. Such a referendum is increasingly unlikely due to the tremendous ethnic and political tension in the crucial oil-producing city. Turkey stands to play an important role in the final status of Kirkuk and the general shape of northern Iraq.
As one of the largest trade partners to the Kurdish north, Turkey has the chance to exert significant pressure on the future and stability of the region. In the next year the Americans may lean on Turkey to implore them to develop economic leverage and relations along the border to help push through change in the north. Many of the goals the administration has laid out involve the broader Middle East. Coming off the Annapolis conference, the United States' goals for the following year have become clearer.
The role Turkey plays in achieving many of these goals is that of an involved outsider. As a non-Arab, secular nation with a diverse economy and wide border, Turkey offers a different set of tools than many of America's other key allies in the region. While Turkey does not have a traditional role in many of the region's conflicts, it can be an important wildcard in an already complicated geopolitical scene.
It has been stated that the Bush administration is determined to see a two states solution implemented for Israel-Palestine before the end of 2008. While this is largely viewed as an Arab-Israeli problem, Turkey has become increasingly involved in the issue. Turkey recently hosted an international conference on the problem in Istanbul, and this past summer rumors flew that Turkey had been involved as a mediator in negotiations between Syria and Israel.
Turkey has significant links to both nations. Turkey and Syria enjoy many joint industrial investments, and share an extensive border. Turkey is one of only three nations with a largely Muslim population to recognize Israel, and while not always popular with the Turkish people, the government and the military have strong ties with the Jewish state. One should expect an increased Turkish presence in any eventual peace, especially in brokering the status of the Golan Heights.
Lastly, Turkey could play a larger role in the future negotiations with Iran. The most recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate stated that it is likely that Iran halted its covert nuclear weapons program in 2003. While it has not softened the rhetoric, one could expect the international community to take a more diplomatic approach to Iran. As a nation with increasing economic ties, including a multi-billion dollar pipeline, and the potential to be an energy hub, Turkey is in the position to be more actively involved with any future negotiations with Iran.
While 2007 was a rough year in many respects for American-Turkish relations, it was an important one in creating a path for even closer cooperation. In the year to come one should see that the United States and Turkish militaries will work together to root out and destroy terrorism, and increasingly engage in broad diplomacy to address problems in the region and around the world.
* David Merahn is with the BAC Military Science.
The Farce About The Turkish Military Satellite
Wednesday, December 26, 2007 Burak BEKDIL
Turkish press says the Turkish military satellite is ‘at PKK’s neck.’ That’s good news for the big angry Turkish man. The trouble is, the Turkish military satellite doesn’t exist
Turkey's first military satellite, dubbed "Göktürk," will be "at the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) neck soon." So say the Turkish newspapers. And so proudly. And in the same self-propaganda language they use for “precision strikes” against the PKK.
“Göktürk at PKK's neck” was a front-page headline in Hürriyet. Reading that headline, one might think that the Turks, with the help of their state-of-the-art satellite system, were watching with precision every move the PKK men in northern Iraq made. Understandably the “semi-demi-war coverage” in the press is primarily aimed for domestic consumption; so easy to see that it aims to sooth the big angry Turkish man. But the truth about the military satellite could not have been farther away from what we are expected to believe.
Göktürk, in the first place, cannot be at the PKK's neck, or at anyone's neck for that matter, because it just does not exist. Hürriyet's story quotes Murad Bayar, chief military procurement official, as saying that the military satellite contract would hopefully be awarded in three months' time. That means Ankara hopes to select a (foreign) supplier for the satellite program in March, earliest. Or in 2008. That, also, means if everything goes unusually smooth, the Turkish military will have its reconnaissance satellite in orbit no earlier than 2010-12.
The satellite saga
I don't think by that time Göktürk will have to perform any surveillance over the mountains of northern Iraq. But supposing it will, that still does not mean “Göktürk is at the PKK's neck.” In fact, Göktürk is another sad story revealing the many sad facets of Turkey's defense procurement apparatus, a bizarre mix of men in uniform and in fine-cut suits. Here is the story.
In the late 1990s, Turkey set off to have a military satellite for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes. In 2000, a preliminary deal was signed with French Alcatel. In early 2001, the deal was proudly canceled in retaliation for the French parliamentary resolution that recognized Armenian genocide claims. Then the satellite program went through a long phase of “uncertainties.”
This year we saw four contenders competing for the contract; Israeli, Italian, German and British “by passport.” Recently, the Israeli bidder was dropped because of the limitations of use its proposal entailed. Now the procurement authorities in Ankara must choose between the three “non-French” bids, knowing that two of them are something like “one-third French,” not by “passport,” but by ownership.
If the contract, worth around 200 million euros, should go to one of the one-third French companies, why was the fully French deal scrapped? Do the Turks get offended by awarding a military contract to a fully French company because of the genocide resolution, but feel perfectly comfortable about awarding the same contract to a “one-third” French company? Would that lessen the pain by two-thirds? But that is not the only complication surrounding the contract.
The “Italian” and the “British” bidders, who are in fact partly French, boast their history of satellite making. But should the Turkish authorities avoid them because they are “partly French,” that leaves one option, the German manufacturer, which has no past record of manufacturing the type of the satellite Turkey wants to buy.
Procurement system too slow
But there is more. Almost everyone in the procurement mechanism, civilian or military, is trying to push the contract to one of the three short-listed bidders, probably for “technical” and “personal” reasons, or a combination of both. Military contracts in this country, to put it mildly, have often been a little bit suspicious. But with or without suspicions, they almost always delay so unusually long that their initial reasoning of use is lost somewhere during the procurement process. The satellite contract is no exception.
If everything goes perfect from this day, Turkey will have procured its first military satellite 13-15 years after it planned to procure one. But in 13-15 years a country's entire security threat perceptions may change partly or entirely. You may need a weapons system at a given time but may no longer need it five years later, given the changing circumstances as dictated by changing threat perceptions. All the same it may happen that you may need the same war toys today and 15 years later. But in any case, 13-15 years for procurement completion means there is something wrong about your procurement system. The fact that you still need the system you planned to buy 15 years ago does not justify the delays.
And, by the way, are we not receiving “first-class, actionable, reliable, real-time” military intelligence from the Americans, enabling our military to inflict heavy losses on the enemy? Why, then, should we need a reconnaissance satellite when we have an ally with a wholehearted desire to share with us every kind of reconnaissance/intelligence material we might need, and with much superior technology?
* The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trilogy Of Murder: Conspiracy And Beyond (I & II)
December 15,26 2007 Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Let us look at the Father Santora, the Hrant Dink and the Malatya murders from a different perspective. Santora was a Catholic priest in Trabzon. Hrant Dink was of Armenian descent and a well-known intellectual but also he belonged to the Orthodox community. As everyone knows, the missionaries who were brutally killed in Malatya were Protestants. Basically three sets of murders eliminated people who belonged to three different sects of Christianity. If you are a person who likes conspiracy theories you could produce really complicated and plausible conspiracy theories in the face of these murders.
Imagine there are some “deep state” elements within Turkey who follow the Ittihat ve Terakki (Union and Progress) mentality which prevailed in the falling Ottoman Empire. If you assume the existence of this kind of central power/deep state apparatus which wishes to manipulate Turkey and its political atmosphere, and their involvement in these murders, then the whole meaning and the context of these man slaughters would be changed.
The message of the murders
Let us continue our conspiracy instruction process. What would these murders then mean? What would be the target of these moves? What kind of purpose would these murders possibly be serving? Three murders from three Christian sects in Turkey. You are sending very strong message to the every individual member of these sects that they are not wanted in Turkey. In this way you would be one step closer to your final goal of getting rid of the remaining handful Christians and you would contribute to the ethnic/religious “purification” of Turkey. What else? These moves will also have the potential to block the European Union process. Do not forget that just last week a Syriac priest had been kidnapped and a journalist of Greek descent have been severely beaten by “unknown” people, both of which indicate that, if there is such a conspiracy, it is still unfolding. If you want to continue this conspiracy theory you can go even deeper and make it more sophisticated still.
Trabzon and Malatya
Santora was killed in Trabzon which is very cosmopolitan and full of potential for conflict between different sectors of society who are sharply separated ethnically, religiously and culturally. Likewise, Malatya has a similar demographic structure. Dink was killed in Istanbul but his murder was a huge conspiracy on its own. As you see this chain of murders have the potential to serve multiple purposes at once. The Christian population will be got rid of. The seeds of huge conflicts will be sown in some cities that have huge potential for internal conflict between different sectors of the society and another obstacle between Europe and Turkey will be put in place. I could continue this conspiracy producing process but I think this is far enough!
People in Turkey like conspiracy theories a lot and most of the time they tend to think that “foreign intelligence services” have had a finger in these kinds of events in order to lead Turkey into an unknown position. Our people, however, are not aware of the fact that what has been happening in Turkey has a huge potential to create implausible, well supported conspiracy theories about Turkey's internal power balances, as I indicated above. Let us put conspiracy theories aside for a while and look at some concrete facts and try to evaluate them in this trilogy of murders.
If we leave aside speculations, what we have in our hands is the following: These are typical hate crimes aiming at eliminating some people because of their thoughts and their religious affiliations. In spite of these murders there has been no punishment or a prosecution for the ongoing hate speech campaigns toward minorities on the Internet and in media in Turkey. There is no awareness whatsoever on the part of the judiciary about their duty to stop these kinds of “hate speech campaigns,” instead they still press charges against intellectuals who publicly discuss the existence of minorities in Turkey. Basically legal provisions, similar to their western counterparts, aiming at protecting minorities against hate speech are used to punish those who claim that there are certain minorities in Turkey. This is really unbelievable but unfortunately a routine practice.
What about the court cases that continue right now?
P II: After I wrote the first piece two other terrible incidents happened. A Syriac academic, who was reportedly working on Armenian and Syriac genocide related issues, was killed when his throat was slit and as you all know a catholic priest was stabbed in the stomach while he was conducting a religious ceremony in Izmir. After each incident I kept saying that these incidents would not be the last ones.
I was in Malatya just one day after the massacre of three Christians there and I held a press conference together with the leaders of the Protestant community in which we said, we know this will not be the last incident. And it was not. Murder of the Syriac academic and the assault on the catholic priest will not be the last ones either. This will continue. Maybe until Turkey faces a series of pressure from the outside world!
I still do not believe any central planning for these attacks. What I do believe, though, is not less serious than these conspiracy theories about the central power's notorious acts in Turkey. I believe there is a deep-rooted institutionalized racist attitude among the security forces in Turkey. I believe a significant portion of Turkish society somehow identify themselves with the murderers not with the victims. I know many people believe that Christians, especially missionaries, are extremely dangerous and their only aim is to divide this country for the Western powers!
There are many books, thousands of articles about these kinds of ?clandestine? missionary activities. The National Security Council, which includes our big, big generals, seriously put the threats posed by the missionaries on its agenda. Our generals have discussed many times the dangerous activities of the missionaries who were able to convert at the most 2,000 Muslims to Christianity so far. Our population is 70 million and we have the second biggest army within NATO, yet we are still deeply afraid of handful Christians. Of course if these big, big generals discuss this issue seriously, ultra nationalist, violent youth start to consider the matter as a life or death problem. When these youngsters decide to handle the problem in their own way, our security forces turn a blind eye to their activities, and many people applaud these youngsters after such incidents. Affiliations of the security forces some times go well beyond ignorance of the preparation processes. Some officials and some people who have links with officials whisper into the ears of these youngsters: ?Look our country is in great danger! Someone should stop these Christians! Our hands are tied by laws, we cannot do anything, and someone should do something.?
There are thousands upon thousands of youngsters out there who are ready to kill someone on the slightest indication that the person concerned is doing something against Turkey. These murders will continue unfortunately, because all necessary conditions exist and there is no plan, action whatsoever to stop this man eating machine.
The government's responsibility
For a long time the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government has benefited from our infamous, notorious, unique, so-called division between the ?state? and the ?government.? This division indicates that you cannot be in power in Turkey just by being elected by the people because there are some other self appointed central powers. This is true to some extent. However, it is not a good excuse for the Erdogan government for doing nothing in the face of these attacks over Christians. They not only are the government but also got the second man in the AKP elected as president. They may not be controlling the army but they have full control over the police forces. In all these murders, when you dig enough, you can trace the links of the murderers both within the police and the gendarmerie. Another institution, which is fully under control of the government, the Directorate of Religious Affairs, spreads discriminative and provocative propaganda against Christians in this country. It is high time for Erdogan and his friends to put aside this role of helplessness and innocence. These attacks are strong wake up calls for the government. They preferred not to hear and to compromise against what happened in Semdinli in which soldiers were caught red handed after bombing a bookstore. However if they continue this way, they may find themselves in a nightmare on Elm Street after which they may not be able to wake up again.
I think Erdogan government has no excuse anymore! If they do not take the necessary steps, they will have the full responsibility of these shameful acts! I hope they will wake up soon!
* The writer can be reached at email@example.com
Turkish Party Leader Gives Great Christmas Gift To Armenian Cause
By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier
In a historic decision on December 12, Switzerland's Federal Tribunal confirmed a lower court's conviction of Turkish Party leader Dogu Perincek for denying the Armenian Genocide. The ruling by the Federal Tribunal (Supreme Court) has far-reaching consequences much beyond the borders of Switzerland. For years, Turkish officials have claimed that the Armenian mass killings of 1915-23 could not be viewed as a case of genocide since there was no court verdict to that effect. Turkish denialists persistently ignored the ample documentation provided by historians, genocide scholars, resolutions adopted by the European Parliament and legislatures of more than 20 countries, a UN human rights panel, and verdicts of Turkish Military Tribunals in 1919.
Two years ago, Perincek, the leader of Turkey's Workers' Party, went to Switzerland and challenged the Swiss authorities to try him for violating local laws on denying genocide. He claimed that he could not have violated the country's laws against genocide denial since there never was an Armenian genocide. He hoped that by obtaining a not guilty verdict, he would become a Turkish national hero for having single-handedly ended Armenian accusations of genocide against Turkey. Neither Perincek nor the Turkish government that backed his risky adventure seemed to realize that while winning the court case would promote their denialist agenda, a guilty verdict would deal a devastating blow to their continued refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
During his visit to Switzerland in July 2005, Perincek called the Armenian Genocide an "international lie" and was promptly detained and interrogated by Swiss Police. He was released, pending a fuller investigation of his statements. Charges were subsequently filed against him. For his mandated court appearance, Perincek returned to Switzerland in March 2007 with a planeload of fanatical supporters who described themselves as members of the "Talat Pasha Committee," in honor of the mastermind of the Armenian Genocide. He also brought with him over 200 pounds of "documents" that supposedly backed his denialist claims.
Testifying on Perincek's behalf were four notorious Turkophiles: Prof. Justin McCarthy from the United States; Norman Stone, a British denialist who teaches in Turkey; Jean-Michel Thibaux, a former Frenchman who had recently moved to Turkey, acquired Turkish citizenship and changed his name to "Atakan Turk"; and Prof. Paul Leidinger from Germany. Testifying against Perincek were genocide specialists Yves Ternon and Raymond Kevorkian from France and Tessa Hofmann from Germany.
Despite attempts by the Turkish government to pressure the Swiss authorities to drop the charges, the Lausanne Court of First Instance found Perincek guilty and fined $7,350 in lieu of a 90-day suspended jail term, ordered him to pay a $2,450 fine and $4,750 for court costs. In addition, the court warned Perincek that should he deny the Armenian Genocide again within the next 24 months, he could face imprisonment. Perincek thus became the first person to be convicted under Switzerland's anti-racism law for denying the Armenian Genocide. Article 261bis of the Swiss penal code -- which outlaws the denial, minimization or justification of genocide -- was heretofore applied only to those who had denied the Jewish Holocaust. Perincek was also ordered by the court to pay $9,000 for legal expenses and "moral compensation" to the Switzerland-Armenia Association which had initiated the lawsuit against Perincek. Since Ankara had sided with Perincek and provided legal and material support for his trial, the guilty verdict also implicated the Turkish government which declared the trial to be "inappropriate, groundless and controversial in every sense."
Fortunately for Armenians, Perincek stubbornly persisted in his efforts to challenge the Swiss legal system, thus causing even more damage to Turkey's denialist campaign. In June 2007, Perincek took his case to the Swiss Court of Appeal which confirmed his guilty verdict. Thus, within the short span of three months, Perincek helped confirm the fact of the Armenian Genocide through the verdicts of two Swiss courts. Not satisfied, Perincek then appealed his case to the Swiss Federal Tribunal which confirmed the verdicts of the lower courts on December 12, 2007.
The Federal Tribunal ruled that there was an overall consensus that the Armenian Genocide had taken place and that Perincek had not been able to prove the contrary, thus making light of his 200 pounds of anti-Armenian "documents" and dismissing the testimonies of the four so-called scholars who testified on his behalf. The Court also said that Perincek was "motivated by racism and nationalism," and not a desire for "historical debate." In countering Perincek's argument that not all countries have recognized the Armenian Genocide, the Court stated that even a United Nations resolution condemning the denial of the Jewish Holocaust received only 103 votes out of the 192 member states in January 2007. The Court further declared that the refusal of some countries to acknowledge such genocidal acts for political reasons does not cast doubt on their validity.
It is noteworthy that the Swiss Federal Tribunal stated in its verdict that "the denial of the Genocide constitutes a threat to the identity of the Armenian people." The Court also asserted that PerincekÂ¢s conviction "contributes to the protection of the human dignity of the members of the Armenian community who define themselves by the memory of the Genocide of 1915."
Thanks to Perincek and his shortsighted backers in Ankara, Armenians have won a very significant victory. This is the first time that the highest court of any country passes judgment on the Armenian Genocide, thus serving as a precedent for all future court cases on this issue. Despite his overzealous efforts to counter the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Perincek and Turkish officials who support him have only managed to undermine TurkeyÂ¢s massive denialist campaign. Perincek announced last week that he will be appealing his conviction to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Should he go through with that appeal, he would be making an even more substantial contribution to the Armenian Cause, by furthering the legal recognition of the Armenian Genocide through Europe's highest court of law.
Sins Of Our Fathers
Mahvish Zehra December 26, 2007
The more Turkey denies the 1915 genocide of Armenians, the less the world believes it Watching movies can be an educational experience. I have come across many interesting facts about history, different places, and life in general from watching movies. And wittingly or otherwise, they have left lasting impressions. Take the Jewish Holocaust for example; I don't think any person exposed to the media is ignorant of it. Every person reading this will have knowledge about the Holocaust, and be naturally against all the factors that brought it about.
For me, movies like 'Life is Beautiful' with the adorable Roberto Benigni, and the ways he tries to conceal from his young son the horrors of the concentration camp they are in, form a part of my impressions of the Holocaust. The destitution of the Jewish people captured by Adrien Brody in 'The Pianist', and the ruthless and coldly calculated extermination of the Jews shown in many other movies, form the major body of Holocaust knowledge that people are exposed to. While the Jewish people rightly deserve the sympathy of the whole world, why may I ask, the same sympathy is not afforded to other peoples similarly persecuted?
About two years ago, I stumbled upon a very interesting movie that I have not been able to forget. It was about another holocaust, one that happened around 1915, of a people I had not heard much about before: the Armenians. The film is titled 'Ararat', after Mount Ararat where biblically, Noah's ark came to rest after the flood. The Armenians call it 'Our Ararat' and see it as a symbol of their history and resistance. It is located in eastern Turkey and since 1920, some claim, it has been officially closed to the Armenians across the border from visiting it.
Armenians trace their history back to at least 2000 BC. They are one of the oldest Christian nations in the world, and the first nation to have adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301 AD. Only about one-fifth of Armenians live in present day Armenia, the rest scattered about the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East. Members of rock band, System of a Down, and singer Cher, are some famous Armenians.
Preceding the genocide of 1915, the Turks and Armenians lived in relative peace with each other. No doubt, the Armenians lived as second-class citizens in the Ottoman lands due to their Christian status. As the Ottoman Empire's power was deteriorating, revolutionary and nationalistic sentiments grew among its peoples. The Armenians, as a major Christian majority, desired independence as other Christian nations had received. They also clearly remembered the widespread killings they had been subjected to in the 1890's and in 1909, when they had demanded more rights and security from the Ottoman government. The Turks viewed the Armenians as getting in the way of their nationalistic aspirations, and under the pretext of 'disloyalty', planned out the genocide of 1915.
Ararat shows very graphically the treatment meted out to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks, which resulted in the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians. The Director, well-respected Canadian, Atom Egoyan, seems less concerned about winning awards or being a success at the Box Office then about making a lasting impression on his viewers. Scenes showing an Armenian woman being raped by a Turk while her toddler daughter clings to her ankle, or adolescent girls being burned alive, seem to scream out against the silence around the genocide. A silence being borne by Armenian descendants such as Egoyan, for more than 90 years.
Walking away from the film, one is not left untouched. It reminds one of the Jewish Holocaust in many ways. The cold and calculated extermination of the Armenians, and the brutal methods that were used in the process, bring to mind the Jewish concentration camps and gas chambers. Researchers have unearthed that Armenians were killed with hammers and axes to save ammunition. There were mass drownings and live burnings. Internationally renowned expert on the Armenian genocide, Professor Vahakn Dadrian, has produced a document written by General Mehmet Vehip Pasha, commander of the Turkish Third Army, who visited an Armenian village and found all the houses packed with burned human skeletons. General Pasha wrote in the document, "in all the history of Islam, it is not possible to find any parallel to such savagery."
It is not the point, of remembering and rehashing past events, to make a show and drama out of misery. Or to carry out performing rituals of our fathers we fail to understand anymore; it is to learn lessons. To make a vow to ourselves not to let anything remotely close to that event happen again. If we, people of today, have any reason at all to claim to be better than those of yesterday, it is because we have before us their mistakes and faults to learn from.
They say the similarities of the Armenian genocide with the Jewish Holocaust are not coincidental. There were many Germans present in the Ottoman lands who were witness to the mass killings and deportations, and thus carried back accounts to the rest of the world. Hitler thus had full knowledge of the genocide, and used it to learn from while planning out his own. For example, while ordering the mass extermination of the Polish, before the invasion of Poland, he is known to have said: "Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
The Turkish government denies any genocide took place, and claims that the Armenian killings took place during a time of political turmoil and fighting during World War One. To call the mass killings 'genocide' or even to speak of them in Turkey could leave you facing charges, as Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk discovered. In 2005, during an interview with a Swiss newspaper, Pamuk said: "A million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I'm the only one who dares to talk about it". These remarks left him facing 3 years in prison for 'public denigration of Turkish identity'.
Recently, Turkey finds itself embroiled in the Armenian genocide issue, as the U.S House of Committee approved a resolution, calling the 1915 Armenian massacres genocide. Turkey viewed the resolution as an insult and threatened the U.S that "great harm" would be done to their bilateral ties. Turkey is a very important U.S ally in the Iraq War, providing key logistical support to U.S troops in Iraq. Support for the resolution has since faltered as the U.S is more concerned about keeping good relations with Turkey, than taking the risk of passing a resolution that only recognizes the genocide, and nothing more.
The point of accepting responsibility for past sins, I repeat, is not to make a show out of misery. It is to learn lessons and better ourselves, so that those mistakes may never be repeated: of causing such misery, or letting it happen while we stand idly by. As Turkey plans an offensive into Northern Iraq against Kurds, who have been struggling for independence for years, it may seem poised to repeat the sins it denies so vehemently. The worst kind of sin is the one we refuse to acknowledge as a sin at all.
Copyright © 1997 - 2007 chowk.com
‘Sarkozy's Ancestors Were Ottoman Citizens’
It has emerged that grandfather and granduncle of French President Nicolas Sarkozy who is severely against Turkey's membership in the European Union were Ottoman citizens.
Oliver Chartier, a philosophy professor at Istanbul's Galatasaray High School the history of which dates back to 1481, wrote in an article aired by Internet news portal ABHaber that Sarkozy's maternal grandfather Benedict Mallah and his maternal granduncle Ascher Mallah who were born in Thessaloniki as Ottoman citizens came to Istanbul later and were both graduated from the Galatasaray High School.
Chartier in his article stressed that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, was also born in Thessaloniki, while criticizing Sarkozy's stance not considering Turkey as part of Europe.
In July 2006, during a visit to Greece, Sarkozy was honored at the French embassy in Athens by the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki. A plaque was unveiled which said: "In memory of Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Greece from the Thessaloniki Jewish Community, the town of your ancestors, mother and city of Israel and Jerusalem of the Balkans." Sarkozy opposes Turkey's membership in the EU, saying the predominantly Muslim country whose territory mostly lies in Asia does not belong to Europe. Instead, he said Turkey should lead a group of Mediterranean countries that have close ties with the EU.
26.12.2007 Today's Zaman Ankara
Armenian Premier Reiterates Stance On Relations With Turkey, Other Issues
Public TV Dec 21 2007 Armenia
The Prosperous Armenian party [PAP] announced today it will endorse the candidacy of [Prime Minister] Serzh Sargsyan in the [19 February 2008] presidential election. The decision was passed at the party's political council meeting.
[Passage omitted: the decision is based on the coalition agreement]
[Correspondent] The Prosperous Armenia party, being faithful to the coalition agreement signed with the Republican Party of Armenia [RPA] after the parliamentary election [in May], will endorse Serzh Sargsyan's candidacy. This was the only issue included on the agenda of the PAP political council meeting. The party said it will use its entire potential for Sargsyan's victory.
[Prosperous Armenia leader Gagik Tsarukyan, addressing the meeting] The Prosperous Armenia party will support Serzh Sargsyan's candidacy and will work for his victory.
[Passage omitted: Tsarukyan says Sargsyan is capable of dealing with all the issues Armenia faces.]
[Correspondent] The PAP political council members said that some of the party's programme provisions have been incorporated in the cabinet's programme and the support for Sargsyan will contribute to the implementation of the party programme.
[Passage omitted: PAP member call on other parties to show tolerance for maintaining stability in the country]
[Correspondent] Serzh Sargsyan appreciated the cooperation between the PAP and the RPA.
[Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, addressing the meeting] This is great honour for me and I express my sincere appreciation to you. [Passage omitted: Sargsyan praises the PAP]
[Correspondent] Sargsyan also spoke about the domestic political situation. He answered the allegations that National Unity party leader Artashes Geghamyan is running in the presidential election only after an agreement was reached with Sargsyan.
[Sargsyan, emerging from the meeting, answering journalists' questions] I have disagreements with Geghamyan over many issues.
Often, his criticism towards me and the authorities are not constructive. But you cannot say that Geghamyan is not a patriotic politician. I think that Geghamyan could be an ideological and political rival. Neither Geghamyan, nor me have made secrets out of that meeting [refers to a meeting between them slammed by the opposition media]. There is no secrecy; neither he, nor me deny such a meeting took place. I am ready to meet, dispute and discuss issues with all those politicians - opposition or pro-government - if they are constructive.
[Passage omitted: Sargsyan denies allegations he evades meetings with people.]
[Correspondent] Several media outlets have alleged that Sargsyan had acted under the dictate of the moment [as said] when he told The Financial Times that Turkey's admission in the European Union would contribute to the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.
Sargsyan reiterated that his position on this issue has not been changed for years.
[Sargsyan] I never change my opinion on a principal issue; I never change my opinion under a dictate of a moment. I have not said anything new. I have just used the opportunity to reiterate our country's position that is included in our national security strategy and other significant documents. I have said it a year ago, five years ago, seven years ago. Those who had no intention to hear, did not hear it; those who tend to comment those statements in a different way, are free to do so. What I am saying is that Armenia and Turkey are neighbours, and neighbours should have normal relations. I am sure that sooner or later, people in Ankara will have this understanding. But it is very important that the majority in Armenia have this understanding too.
[Correspondent] Sargsyan thinks that the forthcoming presidential election is very important for Armenia's further development. His wish is for the presidential election to result in a situation free of political confrontation and tension to ensure an effective cooperation of the legislative and executive branches of the government.
Is Agreement Between Armenia And Turkey Possible?
As one of its preconditions for normalizing the relations with Armenia Turkey raises the issue of the recognition of the current borders by RA, which is nothing but a serious concern for the national security of Armenia.
In the light of the negotiations about Turkey's integration into the EU, the issue of the Armenian-Turkish relations, which over the last 18 years haven't gone any better, gets more significance. The unwillingness to normalize the relations is mutual: neither Armenia, nor Turkey need to open the borders, which are not clarified yet. The Kars and Lausanne Treaties, which set the borders between the two countries, are not denounced yet, though the official Ankara thinks that with the USSR breakdown no one ever thinks of them any longer. /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The treaties make provisions for the Armenian border, i.e. including Kars, Ardaghan, Surmalu and Trabzon. In fact Turkey violates those articles of the treaty, which set the Armenian-Turkish borders. Perhaps, this had its significant role in the fact that the most part of Western Armenia is inhabited by Kurds and Armenians. In the meantime Turkey raises the issue of recognition of the current borders by RA, which is nothing but a serious concern for national security of Armenia. It is natural that Yerevan cannot go for it. The second and perhaps the most painful precondition set by Turkey is the denial of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1923. Even if these two preconditions can still be somehow understood, though it's quite difficult, the third one is worthless any comments. Ankara insists on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to Azerbaijan's benefit, by the way, explaining the closing of the borders in 1993 by the Karabakh conflict. According to the RA Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanyan, Turkey has nothing at all to do in the regulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; Turkey cannot have any influence on the resolution of this process. “The international practice doesn't allow interference of any interested party in the conflict resolution process,” said Oskanyan.
In the international community the first condition for normalizing the relations is the opening of borders and this cannot be a precondition. This was announced in Yerevan too and the EU special representative to the South Caucasus Peter Semneby emphasized that closing the borders is nothing but anomaly. “Armenia and Turkey need to come to an agreement for the sake of the future. The EU is ready to assist them in this process, but we believe that both parties should come to a compromise. It shouldn't be forgotten that the two countries have a common future. Of course this is a long process, which should be carried out carefully, step by step. Armenia and Turkey have different viewpoints on the events of 1915 and the Karabakh problem. But Armenia speaks for healing the relations without any preconditions, while Turkey practices just the opposite viewpoint. This is where compromise should be sought,” said Semneby. In his turn, the Head of the “Hay Dat” Office Giro Manoyan mentioned that Turkey's integration into the EU will definitely close all the ways for Armenia to Europe. “Turkey's integration into the EU at this moment will close all the ways for Armenia to Europe, since now Turkey creates all sorts of prohibitions for Armenia, trying to deprive our country of the membership in international organizations and the chance of joining the international negotiations,” said Manoyan and added, that Turkey will only use the EU in its own interests. He also believes that the negotiations with Turkey on the EU membership have started without the approval of all the EU Member-States, which already points at political intentions of the USA and the Great Britain. “It is not excluded that Turkey will be integrated into the EU with the same political intentions, however, with its current views Ankara will not carry out any reforms,” said Manoyan.
As for the issue of the Armenian Genocide, Turkey doesn't recognize it not only because of its political convictions, or the so-called “insult of Turkishness”, but because of the huge financial compensation, which will immediately follow the recognition. “According to official documents the responsibility that Turkey carries for the damage it caused during 1914-1919, the years when the Genocide was committed, makes $415 milliard. In January 1919 the Paris Peace Conference completed its works, whose main aim was concluding a peace treaty and considering all aspects of war, including the compensations for the damage caused by the war. Subsequently a working group was formed, which estimated the damage done to the parties and nations, which were not the immediate participants of the war. According to the report of the working group, the sum of the damage to the Armenian nation in Western and Eastern Armenia during 1914-1919 made more than 19.130 milliard francs, or more than $41.5 milliard, since for such cases the exchange rate of franc to dollar is 1 to $2.17. Here the material damage caused in 1920-1923 is not mentioned. If this period is also taken into consideration, the above mentioned sum will definitely be enlarged with minimum 20%, believes the historian and diplomat Ara Papyan.
Vardan Oskanian: "Complexity Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Lies In Synthesis Of Past And Future"
Yerevan, December 20, Noyan Tapan. The complexity of the relations between Armenia and Turkey lies in the synthesis of the burden of the past and the imperative need for living together peacefully in the region. This statement was made by Vardan Oskanian, the RA MInister of Foreign Affairs, during his sppech made at the parliamentary hearings held on the "Armenian-Turkish relations: Problems and perspectives" subject on December 19.
According to him, the approach of Armenia is that it is necessary to open the borders in order to settle the problems of the past and establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without preconditions. And Turkey suggests regulating the problems of the past before that: to recognize its current borders, renounce the problem on the recognition of the genocide and settle the Nagorno Karabakh issue in favour of Azerbaijan.
In the words of the RA Minister of Foreign Affairs, the preconditions of the Turkish side are beneath criticism from international and legal point of view. According to Vardan Oskanian, the Nagorno Karabakh antagonism is a problem between Karabakh and Azerbaijan and Turkey cannot become a side of that antagonism by closing the border and laying down conditions in front of Armenia. The Minister also mentioned that Turkey has not the right for raising a question on the recognition of the borders, since the Kars and Moscow treaties are still in force, which distinctly outline the borders existing between the two countries. The problem on the recognition of the genocide, which is the main direction of the foreign policy of Armenia, according to Vardan Oskanian, is the moral right of Armenia. As regards the raising of a question on the genocide by the Armenians of the Diaspora in the parliaments of the countries they live, that is the domestic affairs of that country and Armenia cannot interfere in them.
Armenian Foreign Minister: Turkey Does Not Have A Moral Right To Raise A Problem Of Armenia's Refusal From International Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide
ArmInfo. 'Official Ankara puts three pre-conditions against us for establishing of relations with Yerevan - recognition of the Turkish borders by Armenia, settlement of the Karabakh conflict in favour of Azerbaijan and refusal from international recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915', - Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said over the parliamentary hearings dedicated to the Armenian-Turkish relations.
He also added that Turkey does not have a moral right to raise a problem of Armenia's refusal from international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
Ankara saying of its aspiration to resolve the Karabakh conflict peacefully, at the same time closes its border to Armenia. This is nonsense, as such an approach is unacceptable in international relations. Oskanyan recalled that over the last 16-17 years Turkey twice lost its chance to contribute in normalizing and stabilizing of the region and resolving of economic problems. First, it was in 1991 when the USSR collapsed, and Russia was too weak to affect the region. 'That time Turkey could not contradict its ethnic and political interests to strategic interests of the region. Secondly, it happened in 2003 when they started the talks on Turkey's joining the European Union. Turkey had to explain to its people that for joining the EU one should establish relations with its neighbours and open the borders, but it did not happen, Oskanyan emphasized.
Armen Rustamyan: The Reason Of The Crisis In Armenian -Turkish Relations Hidden In Turkey's Preconditions
The key to the real reason of the current crisis in Armenian-Turkish relations is hidden in the preconditions Turkey sets for establishing relations with Armenia, Chairman of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Armen Rustamyan said during the parliamentary hearings on "Armenian-Turkish relations: Issues and perspectives."
According to Armen Rustamyan, Turkey sets four preconditions: unilateral recognition of the territorial integrity of Turkey through re-ratification of the Kars agreement, ensuring territorial link between Nakhijevan and other regions of Azerbaijan, suspension of the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide and withdrawal of troops from Karabakh and the adjacent regions.
Armen Rustamyan considers that the precondition connected with the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is the most illogical one, saying in the contemporary world it is not common to associate the relations between two states with a third country. "With this position Turkey is an unofficial party to the conflict rather than a neighboring country that refuses to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia. And this goes fully in line with the logic, according to which Turkey and Azerbaijan are two states of the same people, therefore, the conflict of the one is the conflict of the other," he noted.
As for Turkey's accession to the European Union, according to Armen Rustamyan, Turkey's membership can really be beneficial for Armenia, if Turkey pursues the fair purpose to become a European state in its true meaning and not use it as simply a means to give new force to its Pan-Turkic claims.
Armen Rustamyan directly links the perspectives of having a completely secure system in the region with the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and sees exceptionally peaceful means for resolution of issues.
"If all the parties interested build their diplomacy on there principles, this way will finally lead to success, where there will be no winners and losers, and everyone will benefit from the fruit of victory," Armenian Rustamyan considers.hr>
Armenian Foreign Minister: For Historians And Experts In International Relations The Fact Of Armenian Genocide Is Settled
Regnum, Russia Dec 19 2007
Turkey does not want to accept Armenia's position or is trying to misinterpret it, said Armenia's Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan while speaking at hearings at the Armenian parliament about problems and prospects of the Armenia-Turkey relations, a REGNUM correspondent informs.
According to him, the Turkish approach is to raise all debated issues, to receive an answer that suits Turkey and only after that to restore the diplomatic relations and open the border that was closed by Ankara one-sidedly in early 1990s. "Show to me two neighboring country in Europe that have no debated issues and problems, but none of them resorts to closing borders," Oskanyan noted.
After listing all pre-conditions for Turkey to establish the relations with Armenia, the foreign minister noted that up to 1998, when the position of the authorities was relatively mild, Turkey was focusing upon one of the pre-conditions - settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. After leadership changed in Armenia, the situation became more complicated and Turkey started insisting upon all the three point equally.
The minister stressed that from the point of view of the international law, the Turkish pre-conditions stand no criticism. The question of NKR is a problem of Azerbaijan and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic; in this connection, Turkey's interference and its attempt to make the relations with Armenia upon the Nagorno Karabakh conflict has no grounds. Moreover, there are some contradictions taking into account the Cyprus problem as well as the Treaty of Kars and the Moscow Treaty that are still in force de jure, believes Oskanyan.
The second pre-condition is recognition of Turkey' border by Armenia, the minister noted, adding that if Turkey really wants to settle the issue, it must establish diplomatic relations that automatically mean mutual recognition of borderlines and non-interference into each other's domestic affairs and so on. Speaking on Ankara's claim to forget about a possibility of Turkey recognizing the Armenian Genocide and let historians discuss the issue, Oskanyan noted that for historians of not only Armenian origin and international experts in genocide issues the question has been settled long time ago.
Moreover, until Article 301 of the Turkish constitution prohibiting mentioning of the Armenian Genocide exists, discussions and objectivity of Turkish historians still remains an open question.
Recently, Oskanyan noted, claims for hampering activity of the Armenian Diaspora in seeking worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its discussion at parliaments of other nations. However, noted the foreign minister, it is internal affair of each country whether to recognize or not the Armenian Genocide; Armenia does not meddle in the issue.
Members of international organizations and Armenian political parties are participating in the hearings. Representatives from Turkey declined to participate in the hearings.
Sadly For So-Called "Nationalist" Turks, Armenians Are Not Going Away
By Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher/Managing Editor, Usa Armenian Life Magazine
In 2015, Armenians worldwide will commemorate the 100th anniversary for the Armenian genocide. No body knows for sure if by then the Armenians will have begun healing their national wounds with the help of the descendants of the Turkish perpetrators.
Is there any indication that present-day Turkey that inherited the loot of the Armenian Genocide (lands and personal and real properties) in Western Armenia and Cilicia; and of the Greek Genocide in Pontus and Smyrna, will courageously step up to the plate and make amends to the victims and their descendants?
In complete disregard of the evolvement of Turkey?s political will, Harut Sassounian, the Publisher of the California Courier, launched three consecutive articles, titled "Armenians Demand Justice, Not Recognition," "Those Who Want Reconciliation Versus Those Who Seek Justice," and "Turks Could Gain More Than Armenians By Acknowledging the Genocide." One after the other, the articles appeared in an unprecedented number of media.
The articles, highlighting the shifting of the Armenian quest for justice into high gear and the Armenian activists? moving closer to real demands for land and property return, created a widespread interest in Turkey and its media.
The Turkish media was divided into two distinct groups. One properly characterized Sassounian as "One of the leading personalities of the Armenian community in the US" (The New Anatolian/Ankara - 14 December 2007; and Hürriyet, Turkey - Dec 14 2007). The second group mischaracterized him by labeling him "a radical leader of the Armenian community in the USA" (Yeni Safak - Dec. 14, 2007).
As readers may notice, despite the surge in the number of clear-headed righteous Turks who courageously recognize the fairness of Armenians? demand for Justice, there are still several Turks who are obstinately entrenched in Turkey?s long-failed denial policy. They continue to resort to all sorts of mudslinging against the victims and their descendants. One mudslinging tactic is to call the justice-demanding Armenians, "extremists," or "radical" and to call their land-usurping Turkish compatriots, "nationalists."
Could they explain - without resorting to lies ? how present-day Turkish occupiers of Western Armenia, the descendants of the invading Seljuks, coming from the Steppes of Central Asia, be called "nationalists?" And how can the forcibly dispersed descendants of the Western Armenian victims, demanding the return of their ancestral lands, be labeled "extremists?" No self-respecting journalist would allow his integrity and that of his profession be corrupted.
The Turkish leaders in Ankara, have the unique opportunity to settle the burning issues of 1) the Turkish-occupied Western Armenia; 2) and the hundreds of thousands of confiscated real and personal properties of the Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Arabs and others while Turkey is in a somewhat healthy bargaining position. The current international political climate that is not in Turkey?s favor might deteriorate in the near future. Common sense requires that today?s Turkish leaders confront their ancestors? dark past and make amends to the victims and not pass on to the next generation the 92 year-old grave political problem.
Back in 1908, who could have predicted that with the initial blasts of guns in August of 1914, the First World War would erupt, and consequently, the Ottoman Empire would crumble and disintegrate? 2015 is around the corner. Who knows what might happen by then?
Some Turks believe that with the lapse of time, Armenian demands will erode because "the coming generations will assimilate into oblivion along with their Cause." But sadly for these so-called "nationalist" Turks, Armenians are not going away. The opposite is taking place. The new generations are becoming more active in their quest for justice by bringing renewed stamina and know-how to their efforts. For one thing, they know that history and their people?s millennia-old existence are on their side. Despite the onslaught of several invading empires, Armenia lived on and witnessed their disappearance.
So, instead of submitting to a possible new unorganized and runaway dismemberment process, Ankara can wisely take the initiative for an organized reduction-in-size and preserve what is salvageable for an atoned Turkey. Europe, to which Turkey is striving to join, hopes so. Recently, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pöttering said: "I am hopeful the day will come and Turkey will come to recognize the Armenian Genocide. ? Turkey should acknowledge the atrocities committed against the Armenian people."
The ultimate benefit could bless the right-sized Turkey.
Turkey: Brothers In Arms?
By Elif Aydin, The Muslim News, UK, Dec 20 2007
The protracted problem of how to deal with terrorists agitating for separatism in Turkey is back on the agenda with a vengeance. With the Chief Prosecutor filing a motion to force the closure of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) for alleged links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan - PKK) and cross border incursions by the Turkish military in northern Iraq, the issue has resurfaced in recent weeks with demands for an insistence on clearer boundaries and concrete proposals for conflict resolution.
It wasn't anticipated when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the elections on July 22, that the party's new government would adopt quite so belligerent an attitude towards the PKK rebels operating from bases in northern Iraq and causing much bloodshed in Turkey's southeast. Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the weeks leading up to the elections patently refused to sanction a cross border operation by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) despite public protestations by the head of the TSK, General Yaşar Buyukanıt, that such an operation would yield significant and important results in the battle against renewed terrorist activity in the south east.
Erdogan throughout his electioneering was keen to project his party as one that saw the problems in the south east as socio-economic; rooted in cultural and economic neglect, and not political, in terms of a concerted programme in support of secession. He was the first PM when in 2005 he openly acknowledged the existence of a 'Kurdish problem' and of the failure of the state and successive governments to foster economic growth and investment in the south east as a palliative to the discontent that had festered since. His plan of action to reverse the history of the state's neglect has been one which focussed on the expansion of cultural rights, consistent with the demands of the EU negotiation process, and on economic development. But in recent months, the escalation in deaths of soldiers on the border, as well as matters well beyond the region itself, has changed much of the Erdogan's and the party's attitude towards endorsing a military operation in northern Iraq.
It's no coincidence of course that the vote in the Turkish Parliament supporting a cross border operation to rout out PKK rebels that use the Kandil mountain region to launch offensives into Turkish territory occurred not soon after a vote in the US House Foreign Affairs Committee supporting claims for the designation of the massacre of Armenians in 1915 as 'genocide'. The Turkish President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister had been active, as with every previous attempt by the House of Representatives, to concede to the rigorous lobbying of Armenians, to stress the impact of any such vote on US-Turkish relations. Indeed, so significant was the likely impact of a vote of support that US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and President George Bush warned the House of the damage its obstinacy would present to US strategy and interests in Iraq.
For some, Turkey's behaviour in threatening to cut off vital logistical support for and co-operation with the US in Iraq in protest over the Armenian issue, and the Turkish General Assembly's vote in favour of military action is commensurate with that of a behemoth whose ardent nationalism, societal as well as statist, is responsible for the disdain with which ethnic and religious diversity is treated in Turkey. The policy of Turkification which has directed the building of the nation since the Republic's inception, and latterly, a penal code which criminalises insults to 'Turkishness' and Turkish institutions, both undermine ethnic pluralism and critical perspectives of the nation's history.
Armenians would no doubt contest that the suspension of the vote on the floor of the House is yet another example of Turkey's refusal to face up to its past. And the administration in northern Iraq, which protested furiously at any attempted incursion into its territory by the Turkish army, is similarly unimpressed by the militarist posturing of its powerful neighbour.
Regional and Armenian diaspora politics aside, the problem of the Demokrat Turkiye Partisi (Democratic Turkey Party, DTP) in Turkey's broadening democracy, like so many other internal squabbles; involving scarf clad women and courageous journalists to Christian missionaries and foreign property investors, is about the comfortable fit of diversity and difference in a society long led to believe that uniformity and a single, supra all embracing identity was its source of strength.
Many in the AKP have themselves learnt from the harsh experience of February 28, 1997, what Turks call the post modern coup; that ousted the coalition government of Necmettin Erbakan's Refah Party, as well as the closure of the party's successor, Fazilet, in 2001, what it's like to be at the receiving end of discriminatory policies and establishment prejudices.
The ruling party's backing of reforms contingent to its EU membership bid, has had the intended consequence of broadening the liberties it seeks for its own constituency, with respect to the freedom of religion, to the Kurdish minority. The AKP's insistence on the Republic encompassing those of both a religious and non religious inclination is as easily extended in this discourse on the indivisibility of the unitary state and the recognition of ethnic, as well as religious, difference.
The distance travelled by the AKP to render itself a party of the people, not of 'a' people, something evident in the party's candidate list for the 2007 general elections, governs its attitude towards its Kurdish brethren.
While Kurdish parliamentary hopefuls contested the election as independents, so as to overcome the 10% threshold to parliamentary representation, the party was trumped by the AKP at the ballot box with the incumbents almost doubling their support in the South East, attracting more than half the votes in the region's 20 largest Kurdish populated cities.
The AKP's hitherto more co-operational stance and its emphasis on political methods for divesting ethnicity based party organisations of their ethnic constituency and a separatist agenda has seen Prime Minister Erdogan adopt an inclusionary policy in the make up of his new administration. Efkan Ala was announced as the new Permanent Undersecretary to the PM's office. Ala is former governor of Batman and Diyarbakır, densely Kurdish populated provinces in the South East, and a well respected figure for his handling of ethnic tensions in the region through the 1990s.
The current cabinet also includes several deputies representing southeast regions, ensuring that an ethno-regional representation in the Government persists at a time when hostilities at the border have given rise to sufficient grievance in the wider population to return deputies from the far right nationalist party, as well as Kurdish representatives.
Just as the AKP over the years has had to imprint its commitment to Turkey's secular democracy on the populace in words and deeds, so too is the DTP required to make clear its rejection of terrorism and violence for political gains if it is to be a valued and valuable actor in Turkish politics. While the establishment and sections of the population at large have in the past demonstrated their weaknesses in failing to reject the inherent flaws of a nation building policy that manufactured consent but didn't entirely merit it, through neglecting difference; ethnic, religious or otherwise, the long path trodden by the AKP, with the aid of the EU walking stick, holds out some promise for the future. Having learnt that protesting one's commitment to the rules of the democratic game must be evidenced in deeds and not merely panegyrics, its demands that the DTP and residents in Turkey's south east speak out and clearly against terrorism as the sine qua non to normalised political engagement, is a lesson borne of personal and party experience.
Broadening the Turkish imagination to willingly embrace the country's diversity is a struggle in which, as Erdogan rightly insists, all Turks are involved whatever their ethnic, religious or linguistic origins. "Those who have embraced the fundamental values of this country are my brothers," he says.
And of those that demand the unilateral and unequivocal backing of democracy as the means through which to deal with diversity in dignity, let them too demonstrate their commitment to the 'brotherhood'. Amending aspects of the penal code and the law on foundations would be a good place to start wouldn't you say so, brother?
IP Leader Perincek To Apply To Ecj Regarding Decision Of Swiss Fsc
Turkish Press,Dec 23 2007
ISTANBUL - Dogu Perincek, the leader of Workers` Party (IP) said he would apply to European Court of Justice regarding the ratification of the verdicts of Lausanne Court of First Instance and Regional Court of Appeal by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, on Saturday.
Holding a press conference at his party`s HQs in Istanbul Perincek, said the Swiss FSC had seriously violated freedom of thought and scientific freedom.
Perincek said the verdict of FSC rested on the political decisions of EU acknowledging the `Armenian genocide lie`.
"This is a politically motivated verdict. The Swiss administration and Swiss judges are becoming a tool for US plot of separating Turkey under the Greater Middle East Project. This is a shame for Switzerland," noted Perincek.
Perincek who indicated they would not surrender to this decision wowed to mobilise the Turkish citizens living in Europe to stand to this verdict.
Perincek said he would apply to the ECJ about the verdict.
"I will put a 90kg pile of Armenian documents --proving that the allegations of an Armenian genocide is an international lie-- on the bench of the ECJ," said Perincek.
IP leader Perincek, was prosecuted for breaching the Swiss law on "denying" Armenian allegations of genocide because of the remarks he made during a conference in the Winterthur city of Switzerland in 2005 saying that Armenian allegations of genocide were "an imperialist lie".
By Ayse Karabat, Today's Zaman, Turkey,Dec 23 2007
Some people argue that "foreigners" are playing with our psychology.
According to them, "foreign powers" are trying to make us weak and vulnerable because they don't want to us to be a "regional power."
According to those that espouse this argument, foreign powers are using the "Kurdish card" against us today as they used the "Armenian card" in the past. Those that defend "psychological operations" tended to think that some of the heinous assassinations or bloody terrorist attacks this country has witnessed were organized by these foreign powers.
Turkey is a country whose geographic location and resources can be very attractive to foreigners -- not only decent investors, but also to those with ulterior motives. At the end of the day, crime has no nationality and knows no belief. However, labeling everything we do not know or understand as having ulterior motives and as being psychological operations by foreigners is illogical.
People that hold onto this argument give the impression that they are like cavemen; anything they are unable to understand with their limited logic and knowledge is the business of some external powers!
There are several points that need to be made at this point. First, those who wish to make us scared of foreigners may be missing the fact that there are some "internal powers" in this country that benefit from our fears. Second, we should ask ourselves, if we are strong enough, how is it possible to play with our psychology?
Lastly, perhaps the psychology we need to comprehend in order to make ourselves stronger is something else entirely.
This week I interviewed several people, discussed various issues and exchanged ideas with a number of terrorism experts, members of the security forces, families of outlawed terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members and a former PKK member.
Regardless of how painful it may be, we have to accept the reality that in some parts of southeastern and eastern Anatolia, having a relative in the PKK confers a status on the family. This status, unfortunately, is not something to be ashamed of, to hide or to worry about. When a possible amnesty is discussed, families of PKK members don't rush to it or beg for it, rather they ask for conditions.
Yes, it is true that from the very beginning the PKK has been a tool in the hands of foreign powers. Almost every country and criminal organization with an interest in Turkey used the PKK in one way or another. They are still using it. But just think of an ordinary PKK member -- I mean someone who is not part of the group's leadership.
What compels them to stay in the mountains? What makes them attack?
What makes them kill and wish to die?
Utah University's Emre Uslu says that a PKK member sees himself or herself as a "self-sacrificing guerilla of the Kurdish cause." They call their members that are killed "martyrs." He says this culture is also reflected in the families. Because of this, he stresses, any talk about amnesty must also target the families. Creative ways should be utilized to convince the families because they are the only communication channel with PKK members.
Even members of the security forces say that any new regulations that are introduced with regard to amnesty should not include the term "regret," because even just using this term is repulsive to members of the terrorist organization.
The story of N, who joined the PKK when she was only 15 years old and left at the age of 19, sheds a lot of light on the situation as well.
She says she was affected by the "romantic" side of being a "freedom fighter." Her family was not poor, though most people believe that PKK members are illiterate and poor. This is not true. Some of them are highly educated, some have graduated from high school, and some, as is the case with N, come from western Turkey.
It is very easy to portray all PKK members as traitors, as bloodthirsty, as toys of foreign powers and so on. And although these are true -- nothing can justify violence -- ending the story there will not contribute to the solution. The psychology of these people, their motives and the attitudes of their families should be studied very carefully. Solutions need to then be a product of this effort.
Anything short of that will keep this country vulnerable to "psychological operations" by others, because those others know the answers we ourselves refuse to look for.
Armenian Businessman Acts As Mediator For Community
By Jason Kandel, Los Angeles Daily News, Dec 23 2007
When a trio of older Armenian men was robbed last month at a Tujunga park, they didn't go to the police.
They went to Jerry Hovsepian.
The longtime resident and community advocate called 911 for them from his Commerce Avenue market and translated when the cops arrived minutes later.
"None of us could call the cops, so we went to the store," Garnik Galostian, 72, a former watchmaker from Iran, says through Hovsepian.
"Without Jerry, we all would have gone home without reporting it."
Hovsepian, 51, is the de-facto community liaison, friend and ear for many Armenians and others in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
The humble man waves to everyone he passes in the Mayberry-like neighborhood and helps organize cultural and community events with a welcoming hand.
He cares deeply about quality-of-life issues in his community, trying to help keep the neighborhood safe.
"He is someone ... who really wants to make the difference in a community," said Jackie Keene, a field deputy for Los Angeles City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who is working with Hovsepian to push for the installation of cameras at Little Landers Park, where the men were robbed.
"He's invaluable, a wonderful resource. He really is trying to make a difference up there."
Lloyd Hitt, president of the Little Landers Historical Society in the Commerce Avenue neighborhood, agrees.
"If I have a problem, I got Jerry," Hitt said. "He's everybody's buddy."
Hovsepian deflects the praise, saying simply: "It's not about me.
It's about others. It's about people."
That's because he understands community. He grew up playing soccer in the streets of Tehran, raised by a mechanic father, a selfless man who never hesitated to help friends and family in the neighborhood.
"When people needed help, they would go to my dad," Hovsepian said.
"He would help people without letting everybody else know that he did it."
And Hovsepian knows the challenges a newly arrived immigrant can face -learning a new language, trying to understand a new culture.
He came to the United States in 1977, with his first stop in Irving, Texas. He moved on to Glendale, settling in Tujunga in 1985.
For three years he has owned Commerce Produce and Deli, a 2,500-square-foot ethnic market featuring Armenian pastries and a case stuffed with fresh-cut beef, poultry and fish.
The former real estate agent and television producer at a Glendale Armenian channel, he saw the need for a local grocery store in a community whose demographics have changed.
Tujunga used to be mostly Caucasian, but now the area includes a growing number of Latinos and Armenians, drawn partly because of more affordable housing.
For those who can't afford a few groceries, he extends credit, marking it in a book behind the counter.
"If they have a problem with their landlord, they come to me," said the tall man with thin, wispy red hair and a beard. "They come to me with any problems because I take the time to talk to people. It's like the good old days."
He has gained the affection of many in his neighborhood with his warm smile and generosity.
Near the store, a group of older Armenians has made Little Landers Park a second home, gathering twice daily for card games, political debate and mental exercise.
When their peace was broken Nov.9, the day two men in hooded sweat shirts held them up, they sought out Jerry, "the closest person they know," he said.
The gunmen first asked if the men were playing for money. After they said no, the robbers pointed guns at them and demanded whatever they had.
One gunman pistol-whipped one of the men, Kamalian Khrosrow, breaking his nose, before disappearing up Samoa Avenue, said Dave Escoto, a Los Angeles police Foothill Division robbery detective.
Escoto said the park is usually quiet, and the Sunland/Tujunga area typically sees between two and four robberies a month, but a local gang is also known to hang out in the area.
"It was pretty brazen," Escoto said. "It's surprising they'd rob three older guys sitting there playing in the park."
Hovsepian said one of the victims told him he was visiting from Iran and knew there were guns in America, but, "I didn't think they'd use one on me."
Two nights after the stickup, Hovsepian went to the Tujunga Neighborhood Council to urge the panel to get cameras installed in the park.
The next day, he got a visit from Keene, Greuel's field deputy, who said she was going to look into it.
Two years ago, the park was remodeled with bond money, and there were funds available for two cameras.
Escoto is pleased the men had Hovsepian, someone they trusted whom they could go to for help.
"We don't have too many Armenian-speaking police officers here in our division," Escoto said.
"Anytime we can get anyone to help us out, it's great."
Perincek To Appeal Swiss Ruling At European Human Rights Court
Hurriyet, Turkey,Dec 23 2007
After a Swiss court found him guilty of racial discrimination for denying Armenian Genocide, Turkish Workers' Party leader Doğu Perincek declared that he would lodge an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.
"I am going to place the 90 kilograms of documents proving that Armenian Genocide is an international lie in front of the ECHR. This ruling is the last example of the blind racism and racial hatred of Turkish people that is rising once again in Europe," Perincek told reporters at a press conference held at the Workers' Party Istanbul office.
"There Is No Point In Setting Up A House Which Will Then Blow Down In The First Wind"
Mediamax Agency, December 2007
Ambassador Ozdem Sanberk worked as a foreign policy advisor for Turkish Prime Minister Turgut Ozal between 1985 and 1987. He was an Ambaassador-Permanent Representative to the European Union in 1987-1991, Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in 1991-1995, and Ambassador in Great Britain in 1995-2000. He retired in 2000 and worked as Director in TESEV (Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation) until September 2003. Ozdem Sanberk was the member of Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC).
- What is the main obstacle today for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations?
- I think there are several obstacles. All are quite big but none should be insurmountable. First there is question of the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. If we could get a solution to that, as perhaps we can, everything would be easier.
Second there are the interlinked issues of territorial claims, historical campaigns, and the fanning of international prejudice and hatred against Turkey. We need detente on that front.
Third, following the second point, there is the question of psychological preparedness. We need an icebreaker. So I am glad that there are so many Armenian nationals in Turkey. At least lots of Armenians are now getting to know Turkey, and not just Turkey but also Turkish families and friends, and vice versa. That in my view is a positive feature of the situation. But what is needed is something public and symbolic. Do you remember the American-Chinese table tennis match which preceded the rapprochement between those countries? If we can hold our World Cup qualifying soccer match in a mutually respectful attitude, that might be it. But of course football is a passionate sport: one might say that it is a sport which creates more heat than light. So it may not be suitable. But I hope we can find something sooner or later.
Can I add by the way that the psychological hostility in Turkish-Armenians relations is something new? People often don't realize that. It is the result of the campaigns against Turkey since 1975. When I was a young man, there was always an automatic place for Armenians at any Turkish gathering, if Armenians were around. You were a natural part of our social scene and our communal life, particularly in the Diaspora. The murders of diplomats and officials and the huge propaganda campaign against us ended all that at least on the public level. I know that, where politics is not involved, even in places like California, Turks and Armenians have so much in common -language, food, TV series - that they still have very close social friendships despite the political issues. I wish we could get back more to that sort of thing. Turkish students who go to California apparently often go there with expectations shaped by the Diaspora campaign to demonize Turkey - and then they discover that there are some ordinary Armenians who don't take that attitude, with whom they have many things in common, including perhaps the Turkish language, and who become good friends and neighbours. That is what we should be striving to revive because it was the norm before 1975. After all many young Turks seem to have young Greek close friends these days. It would be so good if they had Armenian friends of their own generation too. Those who fan prejudice against Turkey are the big obstacle to normalization of this kind.
- Why is Ankara discontent with the proposal of Yerevan on establishment of diplomatic relations without preconditions? What is the vulnerability of the given proposal, according to you?
- There is a dispute. There are problems. There is no point in setting up a house which will then blow down in the first wind. Diplomatic relations have to be based on a clear understanding and a consensus approach, at least on essentials.
Turkey has always got to proceed cautiously on these matters. Every time there has been an opening, we have found the Diaspora bring the events of 1915-16 up and trying to get legislatures across the world to vote for anti Turkish resolutions and motions. That is a major restraint on Ankara domestically. Perhaps I might remind you of something our former president Suleyman Demirel once said. "It is very easy to extract resentments from history. What is much more important is to orient history towards the future, friendship, and a common destiny". In fact the first time he met President Kocharian at the Black Sea Summit in 1998, Mr Demirel asked him what causes for resentment or hostility there could possibly be between the six year old Republic of Armenia and the 75 year old republic of Turkey. "Let us help you on your way as a young republic towards integration with the world. Your people after seventy sterile years have the right to expect much more from you than this", he said.
- There is a point of view in Yerevan that, by making a decision on closure of the border 15 years ago, Turkey hoped to make Armenia more compliant as to the Karabakh issue. Since this did not happen, the Turkish authorities find it difficult today to admit the given mistake and this is one of the reasons they do not agree to open the border. How righteous is the given point of view?
- No, I am afraid this is not how we see things. Turkey took the decision it did because of the occupation of some of the counties of Azerbaijan and the eviction of the people who lived there. For us this was a human tragedy. We abide by this decision, but we welcome all efforts for a settlement and hope that these will eventually produce a solution and so enable us to normalize relations.
- Turkey accuses very often the Armenian Diaspora. Don't you think that the factor of the Diaspora became a convenient excuse for Ankara?
- Why would an excuse be convenient? We sincerely want normalization. There would be huge benefits for both sides. But the Diaspora, let me say the "hardline political Diaspora" because, as I say, there are those ordinary Armenians in all countries who are close to Turks, is a reality. We seem to be under a constant propaganda attack which sometimes comes very close to demonizing us as a people and which stifles anyone who tries to put our point of view.
- A few years ago, Vartan Oskanian and Abdullah Gul agreed upon realization of "small steps" policy, directed to the improvement of the relations. Why even this approach did not work?
- Let us hope it will still work. I think that every small step counts. We are having this discussion now, for example. And there are those Armenians working in Istanbul. I fear that the reason there are not more bilateral commissions, contacts, and exchanges, is that Armenians do not want them.
One of the main reasons these small steps have not been realized is of course the anti-Turkish resolutions brought up in the legislatures of countries like France and the USA. This hardly helps create a propitious climate in Turkey. But I would remind you that Turkey's Prime Minister wrote to Mr Kocharian in 2005 suggesting the foundation of a joint historical committee and said that third countries could be members of it and that their archives, as well as those of Turkey and Armenia, could be opened up to the investigation. This proposal was conveyed officially and through diplomatic channels but up till now it has been rejected by Mr Kocharian. I think that Armenia by not responding positively to this proposal may have let slip a historical opportunity.
Plenty of Turks go to Yerevan when the opportunity arises. They want to talk and they want to get to know you. But for some Armenians the position seems to be that Turkey must first concede every point and only after that they will agree to meet us. So yes, let's take steps, steps without strings if that is not mixing a metaphor, and see how far they take us.
- Don't you think that the steps, directed to the strengthening of isolation of Armenia, for example the construction of the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad instead of using the existing route through the Armenian territory, give birth to additional irritation in Yerevan and toughen its stance? Don't you think that the involvement of Armenia in large-scale regional and transport projects would increase the readiness of Yerevan to take up compromises, which are considered impossible today?
- Of course we would all like to see the resolution of conflicts and to replace them by regional cooperation. But there are strategic realities involved in things like building a railway. You simply can't do them in an uncertain security situation. And there are also all those hundreds of thousands of refugees in Azerbaijan. Let us overcome those problems, show that we have common interests and good faith, and we can start moving ahead.
- The absence of relations with Turkey influences the perception of NATO in Armenia. Despite the fact that Yerevan successfully develops the Individual Partnership Action Plan with the Alliance, many in Armenia consider impossible the further rapprochement with NATO before the settlement of the problem of the Armenian-Turkish relations. What is your opinion concerning this?
- It is for the Armenian people to make their own decision on when to join NATO. These are complex matters and I would not presume to advise you, though of course as your neighbour I genuinely cherish your security and well-being. When the differences between our two nations are overcome, we will certainly give you a warm welcome. At the moment I think the Individual Partnership Action Plan is a viable way forward.
- What is the attitude of Turkey to the presence of a Russian military base in the territory of Armenia and the statements of Armenian officials, according to which the very potential threat from Turkey is the main reason of the presence of Russian military men in Armenia? In general, what is your opinion, does the growing rapprochement between Turkey and Russia assist the settlement of problems in the Armenian-Turkish relations, or, on the contrary, hinder it?
- Let us look at the various elements of this. First, there is no strategic threat to Armenia from Turkey. It may exist in certain people's minds, but that is the only place it exists and I think the fear is artificial. Second, Armenian-Russian relations are a matter for Armenians and Russians. If despite what I say about there being no Turkish threat to Armenia, your country believes that stationing Russian troops on its soil enhances its independence that is a matter for the Armenian people to decide and no one else will have anything to say about it provided the arrangement remains purely defensive and has no offensive character. Third, yes of course it is a very good thing that Turkey and Russia are good friends these days, and I think that may well help regional detente in the Caucasus a bit, but I would not expect it to work miracles. It is our challenge as Turks and as Armenians to bury our differences and build a new relationship between us.
- If we judge from the publication of the Turkish media, your country is attentively following the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia. The Turkish press often voices comments, according to which the return of the first Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian to power would assist the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. According to you, how grounded those expectations are and to what extent do they correspond to the stance of the official Ankara?
- Well, I am long retired now. I do not speak for anyone but myself. All I would say is that we in Turkey hope there will be a president in Armenia who wants detente and cooperation with us and is less concerned by past grievances, and can also help settle your country's disputes with Azerbaijan. That last detail may not necessarily be quite as difficult as it looks. So we will look smilingly on anyone who comes to us with a real olive branch, whoever he is, old or new.
But yes, President Ter-Petrossian's good intentions towards Turkey were appreciated and I think perhaps we would have a better situation in the Caucasus today for everybody if his policies had prevailed.
- You occupied the position of the Undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry from 1991 up to 1995, when Levon Ter-Petrosian was in power in Armenia. If Turkey believes that he has a more constructive stance, what was hindering improvement of relations then?
- The difficulty then, as I have already indicated, was the invasion of the several districts and counties of Azerbaijan around Nagorno Karabakh and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of people living in them. Unfortunately that stood in the way of the historical reconciliation we would all like to see.
But there was appreciation of Mr Ter-Petrossian for his moderation. We remember for example that he came as a mourner to the funeral of the late President Turgut Ozal- that was a gesture which we very much appreciated and will never forget.
Present-Day Turkish-Armenian Border Doesn't Have Legal Foundation
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Turkish-Armenian border should be reconsidered, ARF Bureau's Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Director Kiro Manoyan said. `The present-day border doesn't have legal foundation. The Treaty of Kars, which determines the border, doesn't have legal effect. Thus, Armenia and Turkey should adjust the issue,' he said.
The Treaty of Sevres can serve as a legal basis, according to him.
`The necessity to review the borders emerged when Armenia obtained independence. Soviet Armenia could not insist on revision while formation of independent Armenia, the assignee of the First Republic, put into force the Treaty of Sevres, the only document that can determine the border,' he said.
`This territorial dispute is not the only one in the international practice. Turley itself has similar problems with other neighbors,' he said, Novosti Armenia reports.
Hayots Ashkharh, Armenia, Dec 22 2007
Dashnaktsutyun Promises Surprises
Head of ARFD parliamentary faction Hrayr Karapetyan was the guest of `Pastark' club yesterday.
Speaking about the phenomenon of the manifestation of black PR in the pre-campaigning period he introduced the party's attitude regarding this: `We appeal to all the candidates, to introduce their personal attitudes regarding the problems faced by the country. Of course if there are certain episodes of throwing mud on this or that political figure, there should be an answer. But there is certain limit.'
Each political power or political figure is supported by a part of our people and black PR leads to separation. `Thus they instigate conflict among the people. No political event should be a reason for conflict, because it doesn't derive from the interests of our nation and state and similar cases can disappoint our people. They will become disappointed of political processes, the future and the authorities.''
H. Karapetyan also underscored that in his recent speech ARFD candidate - Vahan Hovhannisyan has already mentioned about the importance of avoiding radical phenomena and trying to keep balance during the coming pre-election campaign, he also underscored that we mustn't ignore our achievements of the recent years. `There are lots of failings and we never forget about these failings. In case we come to power, we will shoulder a greater responsibility and by maintaining these achievements and by cooperating with healthy national political powers we are ready to correct these failings.'
In general, according to the speaker it is high time to run for the elections with personal candidates. `In our view we are able to have our own candidate and to develop the already existing achievements. As well as to struggle against all those phenomena that in our view has been overlooked. This means in our view the time has come for Dashnaktsutyun party to pretend for the highest position -the position of RA President. This doesn't mean that we autocratically lay claim to power. Never. I repeat, we are ready to cooperate with all the parties which will agree with our political program on the country's future and we are ready to take this responsibility.'
As we know Representative of the Supreme Body Armen Rustamyan is going head the pre-election headquarter of ARFD candidate.
Preparation works are in process in the provinces. H. Karapetyan says it is the discipline of the political structures that separates them from all the other parties. `We have our advocacy means. But in my opinion our structure is our strongest advocacy means. Because there is no village where there is no Dashnaktsutyun, the same way as there is no place in the world where there is no Armenian and Dashnaktsutyun party. That is why we will conduct an unprecedented campaign. We will employ new methods, the same way as we employed new methods during the nomination stage.
H. Karapetyan has noticed a tendency of polarizing the pre-election atmosphere and introduced it as the campaign between the former and the present day authorities. `I'm confident it is an artificial propaganda. The reality is far not like that. Of course this struggle is there. But, if we can say so, there is a brutal war in the propaganda domain. In fact this struggle is between, if not five, at least four candidates among the nominated nine.' Thus he came to a conclusion that there is a great probability of two-stage political campaign.
With Our Economy We Cannot Win The War
Lragir, Dec 21 2007, Armenia
The the economy, the structure of the economy in Armenia based on monopoly and protectionism does not undergo fundamental changes, Armenia cannot be competitive in any way, including in the military aspect.
"In the next war we are going to be in a worse state, less ready, and less independent. The economic independence of Armenia then will be weaker than at the beginning of the 90s. In the next war we will have a smaller chance, if it starts," stated Hrant Bagratyan on December 21 at the Hayeli Club.
What is Hrant Bagratyan's vision of reorganization and legalization of the economy based on illegal relations to avoid a transformational shock? In answer to this question Hrant Bagratyan says the problem is complicated but there are ways of solution, especially that most businessmen, oligarchs who are now criticized are in reality good businessmen. Hrant Bagratyan says he is against the calls for a revolutionary solution. "True and false are always concrete. We must observe each case separately to find out whether the given oligarch is to blame for the privatization of the given entity. We have considerable work to do. I am for privatization but even in this case I would not rule out denouncing some two or three deals as machinations," Hrant Bagratyan says.
Armenia And Turkey Obliged To Cooperate, Committee Chairman Says
Armenpress, Dec 20, 2007
Yerevan: Arthur Aghabekian, chairman of a parliament committee on defense and security issues, said today that Armenia and Turkey are obliged to cooperate in some issues.
He was speaking at the second and last day of parliament hearings on Turkish-Armenian relations initiated by a parliament committee on foreign affairs.
"Armenia and Turkey are obliged to cooperate in some issues because elements of cooperation are not a public demand, but stem from both countries' commitments to some international organizations,' he said.
Arthur Aghabekian, a former deputy defense minister, said Armenia and Turkey cooperate in the frameworks of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty and within the frameworks of the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace program.
He said Armenian and Turkish representatives participate in different events held both in Turkey and Armenia. He recalled that Turkey sent its representatives to Armenia for a NATO-sponsored military drills in 2003.
He said decisions in NATO are taken by consensus and Turkey never used its veto right to obstruct Armenia's participation in an international program.
The former deputy minister reiterated Armenia's official position on unconditional normalization of relations with Turkey.
"Armenia's border with Turkey it is also Armenia's border with NATO. If it were open it would certainly make Armenia closer to NATO and would give it an opportunity to expand its cooperation with the organization,' he said.
Aghabekian also said normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would help settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and normalize Armenia's relations with Azerbaijan.
From The Mountains Of Ararat
By James R Russell, Haaretz, 21/12/2007
I am an American Jewish scholar, a Zionist, and though I have devoted a lifetime to studying the culture of Armenia, it is not my own.
Nonetheless, it is fascinating, perplexing and relevant to, and intertwined with, important Jewish issues today. Armenia's uniqueness among the countries of the Near East is striking: Unlike surrounding Georgia, Kurdistan and Iran, it has no indigenous Jewish community; yet its history is more closely analogous to our own than that of any other nation. The Armenians formed the first Christian state, one that has endured in embattled isolation and proud independence: In their literature, written in a unique script unchanged over 15 centuries, the Armenians accordingly identify themselves with the Maccabees.
Their stubborn determination to be themselves, and to be free, made Armenians the object of fear and hatred in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. During World War I, they endured the 20th century's first genocide, a term coined some years later by a Jewish jurist, with the avowed purpose of giving legal definition to this unprecedented crime. At the time the Turkish rulers called their campaign a "jihad." The people of a handful of Armenian villages on Musa Dagh, a mountain on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, just north of the present-day Syrian border, fought off several Turkish armies until the French navy rescued the survivors.
The year before Hitler came to power an Austrian Jew, Franz Werfel, published his novel "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh." The Nazis banned it, its best-selling author fled to the United States, and in 1939 the German dictator assured his generals that just as nobody remembered the Armenians, whatever the Germans might do in Poland, they would never be punished for it. As the Wehrmacht advanced in 1942 through North Africa, some leaders of the pre-state Jewish community in Israel even talked about preparing for a last stand on Mt. Carmel on the model, not of Masada, but of Musa Dagh.
Not all the Armenians were murdered: Many fled into the northeastern part of their ancient homeland, still ruled then by the Russian Empire; and in 1918, the first independent Armenian state in half a millennium was proclaimed at the capital, Erevan. But a bitter civil war ensued among the Armenians: The Communists took control, the centrist government of the Dashnak (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) party fled into exile, and Armenia disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. America, fearful of the Red Menace and anxious to maintain good relations with strategically important Turkey, did indeed forget the Armenians. In 1935, the State Department, acceding to Turkish pressure, even forced MGM in Hollywood to cancel production of a film version of Werfel's book.
The embittered Dashnaks had in the meantime embraced racist and fascist ideology. On Christmas Day of 1933, at an Armenian church in Manhattan, two of their leaders disemboweled a political opponent, Archbishop Leon Tourian, during mass, in full view of thousands of parishioners. In Boston, their newspaper Hayrenik ("Fatherland") praised the German Fuehrer and youths of the Tseghagron ("Race Worship") group marched. Hitler intended to finish off the Armenians, though, and the Luftwaffe dropped leaflets over Erevan inviting the local Azerbaijani Turks to sharpen their knives. In fact, Soviet Armenia lost a quarter of its population in the fight against fascism.
Meanwhile, in New York, Avedis Derounian, a young man from a family of genocide survivors who himself had witnessed the murder of Archbishop Tourian, vowed to waken the U.S. to the dangers of homegrown fascism. After the war he traveled to the Middle East, and in his 1950 report on that trip, "From Cairo to Damascus," described how Nazism had been transplanted into the Arab world and offered the prescient declaration that radical Islam would prove to be a greater and more enduring danger to mankind than Communism.
Derounian saw Israel as the model for a free and democratic Armenia, and felt instinctively that Jews were his brethren. Many Armenians, however, were and are on the other side of the Arab-Israel divide; some Armenians had even supported the Nazis; and Israel, for its part, was to find it politic to court Turkey's friendship.
In Jerusalem four years ago, a young Armenian nurse who was to be honored on Israel Independence Day for her work rehabilitating victims of suicide bombings had to watch as Turkish pressure on the Israeli government led the ceremony's organizers to remove from the program all reference to her family having been survivors of the genocide. Armenians have reacted to this kind of holocaust denial with justifiable rage.
As Harvard's only professor of Armenian studies, I have found myself attempting to negotiate a viable, middle way, and have suggested that the Jewish community in America support genocide recognition by the U.S., which Israel might then follow, in the face of Turkish threats, which have included an attempt to blackmail the small Sephardic community in Turkey. Turkish intellectuals and defenders of human rights, like the historian Taner Akcam and the Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, have insisted at great personal risk that Turkey reexamine its past. We should support them.
At the same time, I have pointed out, one needs to recognize that there is real anti-Semitism in the Armenian community, and scapegoating of Israel and Zionism often goes well beyond the issues and becomes a cover for deeper hatreds. The Dashnaks, Hitler's wartime buddies, who are still a presence both within Armenia and in the diaspora, have jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon, championing the Palestinian cause on American campuses. Their central committee sponsors a traveling circus called "Armenians and the Left," featuring Israel-bashers like Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk.
Hannah Arendt was right: Anti- Semitism is the only survivor of the totalitarian ideologies of the last century. Not only that, but the "socialism of fools" is truly international again, and gaining strength. So if it comes to it, I'll leave my books and shoulder a rifle on Musa Dagh or Mt. Carmel. But until then I'll carry on studying the mystical meditations, poems and myths of the ancient and indestructible people from the mountains of Ararat, the Armenians.
James R. Russell is Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University.
Denial Of Genocide - Punishable
AZG Armenian Daily, 21/12/2007
As Sargis Shahinian informs from Switzerland, the federal court of that county found the leader of Turkish Worker's Party Doku Perincek guilty of "race discrimination".
In 2005, Doku Perincek announced that the Armenian Genocide was an "international falsehood". According to Switzerland federal court judgment, Perincek should pay a fine and the court expenses.
It is informed that the court judgment is important as it serves as a precedent for the courts and authorities, as they should adopt that the incidents of 1915 is Genocide.
Only Armenian Citizens To Be Called Up To Protect Borders
Armenpress, Dec 20 2007
Yerevan: General Sergey Bondarev, chief of the Russian border guard contingent in Armenia, which patrols Armenia's borders with Turkey and Iran, reminded today that 72 percent of funds required for this operation are provided by Russia and the rest by Armenia government.
Speaking at a news conference the General said beginning next year only Armenian citizens will be called up to protect borders with Turkey and Iran.
He also said the Russian government released 11 million rubles to build two kindergartens for officers' children in Gyumri and Artashat.
Russia sent also 45 vehicles to beef up the border protection.
He said 25 cases of border violation were registered this year involving 205 people, by 2 more than in 2006.
As a positive achievement he mentioned that no attempts to smuggle cattle from Armenia to Turkey were registered in the last 3 years.
Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems And Perspectives
Haroutyun Gevorkyan, Hayots Ashkharh, Armenia,Dec 20 2007
By the initiative of the NA Committee on Foreign Relations, yesterday the Parliament started the two-day hearings devoted to the theme "Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Perspectives"
ONLY IN FRIENDLY CONDITIONS
Foreign Minister VARDAN OSKANYAN introduced Armenia's attitudes towards the relationship with Turkey. "The difficulty of the Armenian-Turkish relations is on the one hand conditioned with the burden of the past and on the other hand - with the imperative of living in the same region together, in conditions of peace, security and stability, and establishing friendly relations. The challenge is to synthesize the past with the present and future.
Armenia is sure that the problems of the past are possible to solve only in conditions of establishing friendly relations between the two countries, when the borders are open and there are diplomatic ties.
Turkey, on the contrary, wishes to establish diplomatic ties and open the borders only after solving all the problems of the past the way it desires. Armenia does not advance any preconditions, while Turkey insists on preconditions: settling the Karabakh conflict or, at least, returning the neighboring territories to Azerbaijan, recognizing the borders of Turkey and waiving the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
All the three preconditions do not stand any criticism from the point of view of international law.
TURKEY -A CLASSICAL EXAMPLE OF TOTALITARIANISM
NA Vice-Speaker VAHAN HIVHANNISYAN, member of the ARFD Bureau, viewed the Armenian Turkish relations purely from the angle national and political interests and stated that the situation has come to a deadlock.
"A great number of regional and geopolitical obstacles are being mentioned in terms of introducing final clarifications in the Armenian-Turkish conflict. Whereas it is clear that no mutual agreement can be reached between democracy and dictatorship. Armenia is not a country of classical democracy, while Turkey is a classical example of dictatorship and totalitarianism.
Even if Turkey waives the preconditions it has advanced, no dialogue will be possible as long as Kemal Ataturk, Taleat Pasha, Enver, Nazim and Jemal are considered to be heroes and not murderers.
Changing the Turkish society is the only way out. Armenia has no problems in terms of searching new solutions, because it has already said what it had to say.
V. Hovhannisyan also had doubts as to the fact there might be purely positive expectations from a neighboring country which is a member to the European Union. "That Turkey mustn't be allowed to become an EU member under any circumstances is a radical opinion. As to the opinion that Turkey's membership to the European Union is only for the good of Armenia, this approach is radical too. The whole question is how Turkey will join the European Union: whether it will change or remain in the present-day status.
If the European Union is going to admit Turkey to its family, having no other way out as a result of a political calculation, Turkey will no longer have any reason to change. As a result, instead of Turkey's adopting the European value system, Europe will have to introduce quite a new system of values. This will, after all, lead to the collapse of the European Union.
For The Real Turkey
The one and only solution to get rid of all problems in Turkey is to increase knowledge and acquire information.
It is an obligation to acquire information to eliminate numerous problems, from separatist terrorism to allegations over the so-called Armenian genocide, from erosion to cancer and traffic jams. Power without knowledge will not be beneficial for anyone. If you do not know where your enemy is hiding, then you will have to settle for bombing rocks and stones on mountains, though you may possess the most efficient weapons of the world. As a nation that has been criticized on every occasion by the rest of the world ever since we set foot in the Balkans, we have encountered various troubles throughout history, and it is clear that we will face tougher problems in the coming years. At times when we were superior in knowledge to Western societies, Westerners respected us with mixed feelings - and they even admired us. But such feelings did not prevent Westerners from producing countless plans to destroy us.
25.12.2007, Ömer Lütfi Mete, Bugün
Schiff Refutes Deputy’s Account Of Meeting
US Congressman Adam Schiff has denied he was "surprised" when a Turkish lawmaker told him the story of his family, a survivor of Armenian atrocities in the course of World War I in eastern Anatolia, during a recent meeting in Washington.
Schiff, in a letter to Today's Zaman, said a story in the paper based on lawmaker Burhan Kayatürk's account and published on Dec. 20, "grossly mischaracterizes" the meeting he had earlier this month with a Turkish delegation, arranged by the American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL).
Kayatürk, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said he had explained that Turks and Armenians killed each other during civil strife when Armenians cooperated with the invading Russian army and revolted against the Ottoman Empire. He said his grandfather was one of the Muslims killed by the Armenians at that time and called on US congressmen not to deepen hostilities by pressing the administration to recognize Armenian claims that the events amounted to genocide of Armenians.
In response, Schiff said, according to Kayatürk, that he was surprised by what he heard and that it was the first time he heard a different account of the events. In his letter to Today's Zaman, however, Schiff denied having made such comments and insisted that he reiterated his outright position in favor of the Armenian claims.
"I told the delegation that the historical record was unequivocal -- that 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1923 and that this tragedy constituted the first genocide of the 20th century," he said, adding, "Turkey's denial of the genocide is hurting Turkey and jeopardizing the country's accession to the European Union."
24.12.2007, Today's Zaman Istanbul
Jingoistic Climate Has Taken Government Hostage
Lale Sariibrahimoglu firstname.lastname@example.org
When we look at mainstream Turkish media reports, we get the sense that Turkey has been waging an all-out war against another nation.
Exaggerated media coverage of Turkish raids into northern Iraq against outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists only helps further provoke the nationalistic sentiment that has already taken the form of dangerous nationalism. The day a Turkish air raid into northern Iraq was reported, another priest, this time in the Aegean coastal town of Izmir, was stabbed -- police apprehended a 19-year-old suspect.
Media coverage of the Turkish assault has also been full of misleading information about the correct version of the Turkish military's capabilities and has once again highlighted the level of intellectual capacity of some Turkish reporters in particular when it comes to military affairs.
Even former military officers appearing in programs on Turkish operations, deliberately or otherwise, made assessments that fell short of enlightening their audience about the technical aspects of the raids, and most of them, as usual, emphasized their political views on the attacks staged against the PKK.
Normally, one expects former military authorities to enlighten the audience about the technical features of the event in an attempt to give the right picture of the military's capabilities. Unfortunately we have once again witnessed deception of the public about the air raids by both mainstream media and by some retired military men.
Does Turkey really need to raid PKK hideouts in northern Iraq if Turkish decision makers have long ago addressed the problem of terrorists and terrorism in a more thoughtful and democratic manner? Have Turkish decision makers spent any effort preparing the public for a comprehensive democratic solution to the Kurdish problem?
On the contrary, we face today a public that overwhelmingly believes in a military solution alone to resolve our disputes. This has led to the public being more jingoistic and prone to being used by some "dark circles" in violent acts against those who think differently or who are not Muslims.
Father Andrea Santoro in Trabzon and Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in Istanbul were killed last year and this year, respectively, while we witnessed the brutal murders of three Christians in Malatya in the spring. These events were recently followed by the stabbing of Adriano Francini in Izmir in the past week.
Then came the arrest of Nurettin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), upon his arrival from abroad over charges that he had illegally avoided military service.
On the one hand stand the Turkish operations taking place inside a neighboring country while on the other an uncontrollable growing hatred against those who think differently, be they Muslims or Christians.
In the midst of this dangerous trend is an image that the government has been leaving as if it has been unable to give the right direction to the nation with regards to these extreme nationalistic tendencies.
I have doubts now that the government, which has handled the northern Iraqi crisis in a diplomatic manner, despite calls being made for quite some time now by Turkish hawks for a unilateral invasion of northern Iraq, can take courageous steps to find a comprehensive solution to the Kurdish problem.
Unfortunately the government also seems to have been hijacked now by ultra-nationalist sentiment, risking the exacerbation of an already fragile economic situation, vulnerable to global negative trends.
Parliamentary opposition, in the meantime, pursues policies that can only play into the hands of those who try to maintain their selfish interests at the expense of the country's normalization.
I have serious doubts over whether the political leadership has been left with any room for maneuver to introduce a functioning partial amnesty for the PKK militants while unveiling a package of measures to heal the wounds of Turkey's Kurdish citizens. The government does not seem to be taking bold political steps in addressing the Kurdish problem and displaying a determination to discourage ultra nationalism that has taken a violent nature.
If there are no surprises, though I wish there might be, the political leadership seems unable to take courageous political steps -- at least not until before local elections planned for March 2009.
Yavuz Baydar email@example.com
For the bayram we were gathered as usual with friends and loved ones in one of the loveliest locations in Turkey, the villages of Yesilyurt, Kozlu and Adatepe in the Ida Mountains, known and admired for crisp air, delicious food, golden olive oil and good wine. Whenever I am there, my admiration for Anatolia and its people is reaffirmed. I dare say nowhere but on the Aegean coast do you meet with such friendliness and hospitality. Of course it is the surroundings -- the natural environment of mythological Ida makes everyone feel as if they are truly in paradise on earth. Piles of fruit and vegetables of all varieties imaginable are displayed on the stands of villagers at the weekly bazaars. When you meet villagers carrying bottles of fresh olive oil and jolly fishermen with laughing eyes, you can’t help but feel thankful for all that life has to offer.
Whenever I am asked, I tell all my foreign friends to visit the region of old Troy, south Assos and the great bay of Ayvalik before everything else. Still wild and largely unpopulated, it is a wonderful area for rest and reflection.
As we, mainly intellectuals, met at the fireplaces keeping us cozy and far from the December chill, we fell unto a discussion over something that has always puzzled us. How come, we wondered aloud, a country with such friendly people suffers from deep-seated intolerance?
It is a fact of life in Turkey, this dreadful intolerance toward ideas, attitudes, gestures, words and lifestyles; it creates fear and timidity while killing creativity; it is a stumbling block to generational progress and it fuels isolation, loneliness and marginalization.
In the minds of the people, the source of intolerance is the same -- the “different” one is (taught to be) seen as an “enemy,” a “traitor” or a “bad example.”
Whatever the label, conditions haven’t improved in this regard. Armenians do not feel at ease; after the murder of Hrant Dink, his brother Arat and the rest of his family moved abroad. Orhan Pamuk has already chosen New York as his second home due to threats. A prominent musician, Fazil Say, is told to “get out if you want to” when he openly talked about his feelings of alienation in the current political climate. A retired general, Osman Pamukoglu, at a recent meeting with young university students, talked about “putting a gun in your mouth” because he did not like a question from one of them. When a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy protests about the beating of an Alevi pupil -- just because he is Alevi -- by his teacher, his party comrades refuse to join him in protesting against this detestable act of violence. We face new examples every day.
The latest data on this widespread intolerance in this deeply puzzling, complex country is found in a survey on the latest national elections done by two scholars, Ersin Kalaycioglu and Ali Çarkoglu. Some of the results are chilling indeed. Over 43 percent of respondents questioned on the topic of “perceptions of threat” think that minorities “threaten Turkey to a great extent.” Around 57 percent think that “Christian missionaries” threaten the country.
This type of picture had already emerged in another survey by Yilmaz Esmer of Bahçesehir University. The question was, “Which neighbor would you rather not have?” The responses, ranked in order from a list were unnerving: atheists (58 percent), fundamentalists (57 percent), non-religious (39 percent), other religions (34 percent), other races (27 percent), other nationalities (24 percent). Recently yet another survey showed that the “least desired” people in daily life are homosexuals.
The depths of the psyche reveal horrendous things and explain a great deal about the issues we are focused on, like Article 301. It is evidence of obvious intolerance -- institutionalized and fed by ignorance -- and it is a major problem.
People in responsible positions must make the decision to address the issue of intolerance. Schools, public institutions, workplaces, courts and Parliament should all be part of a national campaign to change mindsets. People, particularly the unemployed and disillusioned youth, must be provided with positive alternatives or they will continue to see danger and enemies everywhere they look.
How this will happen, I do not know. Someone needs to develop a plan or else we will be forced to watch history repeating.
Normalization Of Turkish-Armenian Relations Vital For Entire Region
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations is vital not only for the two states but also for the entire region, RA National Assembly Speaker Tigran Torosian said during The Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Prospects extended parliamentary hearings.
“Both Armenia and Turkey are members of the Council of Europe. Turkey is holding talks for EU accession. It means that this country should share the values European bases on. We have numerously stated that Turkey’s membership would be expedient for Armenia. Any country would like to have a neighbor that doesn’t represent a menace,” he said.
“European states are interested in normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and opening of the border,” he added. “Armenia doesn’t push preconditions while Turkey’s position is quite opposite. We insist on resolution of the issue in the framework of European integration.”
The Caucasus isn’t just a region of overlapping ethnicity and religion, but one of clashing national interests. It is home to three regional conflicts and cursed by natural resources. Thus it is with great pleasure that we read some positive news from the region, namely the further development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad.
When previously discussed, I noted that both Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s growing economic power and especially Azerbaijan’s importance as an energy producer and conduit has led to increasing regional integration, of which this new railway is one important example. Yet absent in all talk of progress and integration is Armenia whose name only appears in relation with the ongoing conflict in Karabagh. Readers will note other well known and critical projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas line.
However, at the moment, regional integration in the Caucasus is synonymous with the isolation of Armenia. Azerbaijan, being a key oil and gas producer as well as transit point for Central Asian energy, is enjoying both record oil prices and its strategic importance and using them to hold out on Karabagh talks. Although Azerbaijan’s position is that it wants its territory returned, this is unrealistic both in terms of Armenia’s national interest and in what would Azerbaijan do with a big region filled with Armenians who want to be part of Armenia. With reliable income and sitting on prime real estate, Azerbaijan becomes stronger over time as Armenia becomes weaker and further isolated.
The Georgian Connection
With a neo-imperial Russia to the north, Georgia is in a different position. It enjoys good relations with its other three neighbors, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan and also sits on prime real estate. With Armenia closed, Georgia is the sole connection through the Caucasus to Turkey, a situation that has worked to the great advantage of Tbilisi and become a central part of Georgia’s strategy. Inherent in Georgia’s strategy is good relations with all of its neighbors (despite problems with Russia). Thus, it is Armenia’s one regional link where goods can go both to and from Georgia, Turkey and Russia. Despite their political problems for example, there is regular bus service between Turkey and Armenia as well as trade. Georgia is also therefore Armenia’s most promising opportunity to break out, were Yerevan to modernize its railroads and roads to Georgia. At the moment for example, it takes around 16 hours to take the train from Yerevan to Tbilisi despite the very short distance (150 miles or so on a VERY indirect route) between the two.
What does this mean for the countries involved?
While regional projects such as this are fantastic steps forward, they tread through dangerous waters. With two conflicts in Georgia and one between Armenia and Azerbaijan, they aren’t out of the woods yet. Connectivity will make war less likely and more costly, but not impossible. In addition, increased ease of trade and flow of goods will greatly benefit all parties involves, especially Georgia (who recently signed a free trade agreement with Turkey). Armenia’s situation is very delicate and will require it to both reach out internationally to bring more pressure to bear on Azerbaijan for dragging its feet on Karabagh as well as vigorously modernizing infrastructure to Georgia.
Perhaps most important is the effect on infrastructure. While Turkey has a well maintained and extensive rail and road system, Georgia and Azerbaijan have miserable roads and railroads that take two to three times longer than cars. This blogger’s record was 1 hour and 20 minutes for 23 (~14 miles) kilometers in Armenia. Neither Azerbaijan or Georgia were much better with most roads hardly fit for livestock. If the region is to have any future, it firsts needs roads and rail to go forward on. The Kars-Tbilisi-Baku line is one step forward.
Comments / 4 Comments
Armenia’s isolation should not be overstated. Iran may prove to be a more reliable transit outlet than Georgia, given the problematic border between Georgia and Russia.
Just days ago the Russian state railroad was awarded a concession to upgrade and operate the Armenian railroad www.armenialiberty.org/armeniareport/report/en/2007/12/C1442B98-40D3-460C-85FA-44269A843CDC.asp
Earlier in the year Iran and Armenia inaugurated a gas pipeline which provides Armenia with an alternative to Russia. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6466869.stm
Meanwhile Armenia is a net energy exporter as it supplies Georgia with electricity. This will increase once Armenia replaces its nuclear reactor at Metsamor.
Azerbaijan has a fairly limited economic window as its revenues from oil & gas will likely start to decline in 2012.
R added these pithy words on 19 Dec 07 at 4:01 pm
R: Thank you for hte links on Armenia, I was unaware of those two events. And as for Azerbaijan, you’re correct, it has a short window of time to develop and modernize itself before its energy revenue begins to fade. This is also the time at which analysts worry a new war over Karabagh may begin.
Chirol added these pithy words on 19 Dec 07 at 5:07 pm
Great post. The map makes it look as if the rail would actually enter part of Armenia—I assume this is just a minor glitch in the graphics, yes?
Curzon added these pithy words on 20 Dec 07 at 7:42 am
Yes, a minor glitch!
From Baku to Kars, http://cominganarchy.com/
Those Who Want Reconciliation Versus Those Who Seek Justice, By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
While I anticipated that Turkish denialists would be unhappy with my last column, “Armenians Demand Justice, Not Recognition,” I did not expect that among my vocal critics would be “liberal” Turkish scholars and their Armenian cohorts.
Within minutes of my column’s posting on “armworkshop” — a website based at University of Michigan that advocates reconciliation (but without any consequences) between Armenians and Turks — a plethora of reactions started pouring in.
A Turkish scholar, Erol Koroglu, threw the first stone by sarcastically calling himself a “stupid” Turk. He was responding to my statement that denialists Turks “cleverly” refuse to recognize the Armenian Genocide in order to preempt further Armenian demands for restitution and return of land.
Two “reconciliationist” Armenian members of the “armworkshop” immediately chimed in. Sebouh Aslanian of Columbia University said he agreed with Dr. Koroglu about “this unfortunate editorial.” Aslanian went on to say, “Mr. Sassounian does not have the authority to represent all (or even most) Armenians. He is certainly not representing me,” even though nowhere in my column I had claimed to represent Mr. Aslanian or anyone else.
The next posting on the “armworkshop” came from businessman A. Nurhan Becidyan, formerly of Turkey. He said he agreed with “Sebouh that Harut Sassounian is not representing all Armenians.” Neither Aslanian nor Becidyan gave an explanation as to why they disagreed with my column and why they were opposed to Armenians receiving compensation for their losses.
Even more bizarre was the comment posted on “armworkshop” by Prof. Halil Berktay, an otherwise respected Turkish scholar and an outspoken critic of the Turkish government’s denialist policies. Not satisfied that only two Armenians had disagreed with my contention that Armenians should demand justice, Prof. Berktay tried to provoke more Armenians to say that they disagreed with me: “And where are the Armenian voices, groups, organizations, etc., to loudly and explicitly oppose him [Sassounian]?” he wrote. “To diassociate themselves emphatically from this ‘3-R’ position and to take a public stand against it?”
Mr. Aslanian, in a second e-mail, said he agreed with Prof. Berktay. “It would be reassuring if more Armenians who usually remain SILENT on the sidelines and are complacent step up to the plate and at least say ‘NOT IN MY NAME,’” he wrote.
Prof. Dennis Papazian refused to bite the bait and instead suggested in his “armworkshop” posting that a conference be organized on this topic to see “the variation of opinion within the Armenian and Turkish communities.”
Prof. Dalita Roger-Hacyan of France recalled in her posting that “not all Turks are afraid of reparations. One Turkish lady on this list was mentioning justice and compensation not long ago.”
Prof. Ann Lousin, the chair of the Genocide Research Project Committee of the Armenian Bar Association, wrote in her posting that she wanted Ankara to reflect the truth about the Armenian Genocide in Turkish textbooks. She wanted Armenian churches and monuments identified as such and Armenian churches given “some compensation.” She said: “Beyond that, there should be room for debate.” She also wrote that she did not want the house her grandparents owned in Sis in which her father and his siblings grew up. “I would like to be certain that the Armenian cemetery in that city, where my ancestors (hopefully) lie undisturbed, is well-kept-up and free of vandalism, that the seat of the Catholicos above the city is recognized as such, etc. There were four Armenian churches in Sis in 1910 — two Apostolic, one Protestant, and one Catholic. I know there aren’t enough Armenians there to justify renovation and reactivation, but I would like the buildings, if still standing, identified
as such,” she wrote.
Ragnar Naess, all the way from Norway, came to the defense of this writer’s column. He posted on the “armworkshop” the following comment: “Of course from a standpoint of general ethics, Mr. Sassounian’s words cannot be contradicted…. I would even say that people murdered and properties stolen more than 100 years ago might be compensated for. So I envisage that Mr. Sassounian in the name of general morality wants a general process of justice regarding all who had relatives murdered and properties stolen in the final phase of the Ottoman Empire.”
Prof. Ugurhan Berkok asked the following interesting question to the “armworkshop” members: “Beyond the politics, ethics and morals, I have some legal questions on this RRR discussion. Forget about R1 [Recognition] for a moment and concentrate on law. Can’t victims’ descendants file claims under current Turkish laws? After all, deportation is acknowledged by the Republic of Turkey. Now assume R1. No political (legally non-binding) statements to the effect of ‘no claims will be made’ are credible because R1 will legally enable victims’ descendants to make claims. Thus Sassounian’s opinion is in fact reality, whether the intention is there or not because no organization can coerce individual descendants to sign legally-binding ‘no-claim’ promises. Thus the three R’s are not legally splittable. Am I not right?”
In addition to the postings on the “armworkshop,” many Armenians from around the world wrote directly to this writer expressing their agreement with him. Here are some examples:
Dikran Abrahamian (Canada): “What Mr. Sassounian presented in his column is a platform — clear and concise. I wish our political entities would adopt and start working on it in earnest, and not waste their energy, money and the outpouring of volunteers in other directions.”
Benon Sevan, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General (Cyprus): “Most heartfelt congratulations on your column which puts the right emphasis and provides the direction towards which we should all strive and not simply demand recognition of the Genocide…. I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for your excellent and courageous columns.”
Bagrad Nazarian (London): “Sassounian’s column is a new and welcome departure…. The Armenian state/government must formally and effectively mobilize the entire nation (INCLUDING THE DIASPORA into the Armenian state structures) on this issue and speak and act on its behalf at international courts and tribunals (The Hague, UN, etc.). Why haven’t we as a nation — INCLUDING THE DIASPORA — debated this issue at the state level involving the whole nation — including the Diaspora — and worked out its unshakable and real de jure position, not just a token and very inadequate and almost meaningless ‘international recognition of the Genocide?’ Surely the Armenian government/parliament can establish an Armenian Genocide Reparations Commission (along the lines of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which successfully buried Apartheid) to formally assess and ascertain the extent and nature of our losses, the role of the ‘international community’/the Great Powers, their
unfulfilled promises, and formulate the ways and means of calling Turkey to account? It’s high time we stopped (both in the Diaspora as well as in Armenia) treating this most important national issue as an academic/scholarly issue for various university departments or a tactical and token foreign policy issue, a sort of an international ‘loves me loves me not’ game whether this or that parliament will recognize the Genocide!”
Mihran Keheyian (London): “I totally agree with Mr. Sassounian’s analysis and strategy on the Armenian Genocide. We should pursue it as a state no matter how long it takes. We should also make moves in order to activate the Sevres Treaty.”
Maurice Kelechian (San Jose, CA): “Sassounian opened Pandora’s Box! Not only is he shaking the Turkish foundation by its entirety, but also rattling the Armenian cage which seems trapped in its own cage or running like a hamster in a never-ending loop of genocide recognition — instead of dictating the day after…. His sharp pen is piercing the fake Turkish shield that is always trying to hide or misguide the taboo subject, forgetting how their next-door neighbor, the mighty Soviet Union, fell apart without firing a single shot! It fell apart because truth was chipping at its foundation, and that is exactly what is going to happen to Turkey sooner than later…. Mr. Sassounian is indirectly creating a fusion of Turkish and Armenian reality which neither one of them is happy with. His single-handed effort is illuminating the darkest demand of Justice! But my question remains why is he the only one who has been able to get out of this never-ending loop and is able to analyze it
realistically from a distance and figure out the full picture of Justice?”
David Boyajian (Newton, MA): “Sassounian’s column demonstrates once again that he is not only a fine writer — perhaps the best Armenian American writer and investigative journalist today — but also an opinion leader. I agree with him that we must move beyond mere genocide ‘acknowledgment.’”
It is noteworthy that hardly any Armenian, even among armworkshop’s reconciliationist members, responded positively to Prof. Berktay’s attempt to incite a large number of Armenians to repudiate this writer’s column outlining Armenians’ just demands for restitution and return of their usurped lands.
Only Representative Of Agos Newspaper From Turkey To Take Part In Parliamentary Hearings Dedicated To Armenian-Turkish Relations
Noyan Tapan, Dec 19, 2007
YEREVAN. The two-day expanded hearings on the "Armenian-Turkish relations: Problems and perspectives" subject will be launched in the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia on December 19.
Reports are envisaged to be delivered by Vardan Oskanian, the RA Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vahan Hovhannisian, the Vice Speaker of the National Assembly, Haik Demoyan, the Head of the Museum-Institute of the Armenian Genocide, and Ruben Safrastian, the Head of the Institute of Oriental Studies, and speeches are envisaged to be made by the invited experts, analysts, and political figures.
The participation of Peter Semnebi, the European Union Special Representative for South Caucasus, is also expected in the hearings and his speech is envisaged to be made on the first day of the hearings.
According to the information provided to a Noyan Tapan correspondent by the commission, about twenty representatives of Turkey, who were invited beforehand, have not arrived in Armenia, except for the journalist of the Agos newspaper.
Vahan Hovhannisian: Turkish Society Needs Truth
Noyan Tapan, Dec 19, 2007
YEREVAN. The Armenian-Turkish relations have reached a deadlock, and though its all motivations are partly true, they do not give a final answer to the question. Vahan Hovhannisian, the RA National Assembly Vice-Speaker, a member of the ARFD Bureau, said at the hearings on the subject "Armenian-Turkish relations: problems and prospects," which started on December 19 at the RA National Assembly.
According to him, democracy and dictatorship have never been partners. At the same time, V. Hovhannisian said that he is far from the idea that Armenia is already a classical democratic country. However, in his words, Turkey is a classical example of dictatorship and totalitarianism, as it tries to keep under control not only the present, but also the past. V. Hovhannisian considers that therefore a serious study of the Armenian Genocide and its reasons is excluded, and information on these events is closed for the Turkish public. Besides, according to him, "no result will be achieved" until the murderers, Talaat Pasha, Enver, and Jamal are perceived as national heroes by the Turkish people.
V. Hovhannisian also said that Turkish society really needs the truth.
Therefore, according to him, the results of the parliamentary hearings should be completed and they should include a very important component, what is retribution according to the Armenian party and in what way and in what terms it is expected. The NA Vice-Speaker considers that not only representatives of Turkey, who have turned down the invitation to take part in the hearings, but also the whole Turkish parliament should be informed about it.
According to V. Hovhannisian's evaluation, changes happen in Turkey in a distorted way and that country's membership in the European Union will be "a serious defeat, as it will mean that not Turkey accepted the European system of values, but Europe accepted an absolutely strange system of values." He considers that finally it will result in EU's weakening.
Hearings On Armenian-Turkish Relations Kick Off At Ra National Assembly
The two-day parliamentary hearings on "Armenian-Turkish relations: Issues and Perspectives" kicked off at the National Assembly today. The hearings were initiated by NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations.
Chairman of the Committee Armen Rustamyan noted that the necessity to organize the hearings had matured long ago. He associated it with the importance of the question, noting that there is no question that would have a similar influence on the history of the Armenian people - its past, present and future. Besides, according to him, Armenian-Turkish relations exceed the boundaries of relations between two states. "These relations really have a great importance and role in the contemporary geopolitical developments, and the Parliament had to get involved in the process. Thus, the aim of the hearings is to clarify the reasons of the current crisis in the Armenian-Turkish relations through these large-scale discussions, assess the nature of the existing problems and make clear the opportunities and mechanisms of parliamentary diplomacy in the normalization of these relations," Mr. Rustamyan noted.
Speaker of the National Assembly Tigran Torosyan noted in his speech that today's hearings will not put an end to the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations. On the contrary, the hearings are of special importance: they open a broad opportunity for discussions. The Speaker noted that the Parliament is ready to play an important role in the normalization of the relations between the two countries on the international level.
During the hearings speeches were delivered also by RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semenby and NA Vice-Speaker Vahan Hovhannisyan. The event featured parliamentarians, diplomats accredited in Armenia, experts, representatives of scientific and public circles.
Armen Rustamyan informad that a number of invitations were sent to Turkey, but these were all denies because of different reasons. He expressed hope that at last it would be possible to launch dialogue and called on his Turkish colleagues not to reject the contacts in the future.
House Approves $58.5 Million For Armenia And Reinstates Military Parity
The House of Representatives last night approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill, reinstating military aid parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan by allocating $3 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to both countries. Despite Azerbaijan's continued war rhetoric throughout the year and exponential increase of its military budget, the Administration had proposed to provide Baku with $2 million more in military assistance (FMF and International Military Education Training).
The Omnibus spending package, which combines 11 of the 12 annual appropriations bills into one measure, provides some $516 billion in federal funding, including $58.5 million in assistance to Armenia, an increase of $23.5 million over the Administration's proposal, but less than the nearly $75 million approved in FY 2007. Armenia's neighbors, Azerbaijan and Georgia, are slated to receive $19 million and $50.5 million respectively.
"The final number for Armenia represents a compromise between the House and Senate funding levels approved earlier this year- $68 million and $39 million respectively," stated Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "We appreciate the efforts of Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, (D-NY) and her colleagues with respect to the provisions regarding Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. We must ensure that despite a reduction in assistance that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have the necessary resources to continue their progress in strengthening their democratic institutions," continued Ardouny.
The bill also includes renewed funding confidence building measures for the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: ".funds made available for the Southern Caucasus region may be used, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for confidence-building measures and other activities in furtherance of the peaceful resolution of regional conflicts, especially those in the vicinity of Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh."
In addition, the final measure provides continued funding for the Millennium Challenge Account program (MCA), although reduced from $1.8 billion to $1.5 billion. Armenia, based on its record of performance in key indicators, is a recipient of MCA with a five-year $235.65 million compact to reduce rural poverty and increase agricultural productivity.
The agreement on the Omnibus Bill was reached late last week and finalized over the weekend. The Senate is expected to begin consideration of the bill today. Once passed by both chambers, the bill will be sent to President Bush for his expected signature.
Eastern Black Sea: Far Eastern Europe
Hasan Kanbolat H.Kanbolat@Todayszaman.Com
The North Caucasus region is a physical and political part of Europe. The borders of the European continent are the Ural Mountains and the North Caucasian mountain chain.
And the South Caucasus region is physically a part of Europe, albeit not politically. In fact, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are members of the European Council. Their national goals are to become members of NATO and the EU. To summarize, the Caucasus extends from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea through the Caucasian mountain chain that physically divides the region in two from the west to the east. Geographically, the North Caucasus, which is in the north of the Caucasian mountain chain, is in the European continent, and South Caucasus, which is in the south of this mountain chain, is in Asia. Politically, the whole of the Caucasus is a part of Europe.
The region that used to be called the Balkans until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 has begun to be described as "southeastern Europe." If we are now calling the West Black Sea region "Southeastern Europe," I suggest calling the East Black Sea, namely the Caucasus, "Far East Europe." This way, let's emphasize that the Caucasus is a part of Europe and is inside Europe, thereby making it clear that the Caucasus is a room in the European house.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Caucasus has consisted from the northwest to the northeast of the Rostov Oblast, the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions (Krai), the Adygea Republic, Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkar, North Ossetia (Alania), the Republic of Ingushetia, the de facto independent Chechnya (Ichkeria) and the Russian Federation, which includes the Dagestan Federal Republics. And from the southwest to the southeast, there are de facto independent Georgia , which includes Abkhazia, Ajaria and South Ossetia, whose autonomous status has been abrogated; de facto independent Azerbaijan, which includes the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh, which is still under Armenian occupation; and Armenia. The northern border of the region is the Don River and the southern border is the Aras River. Some researchers accept the Kuban River as the northern border of the Caucasus. This acceptance leaves the Rostov Oblast outside the Caucasus.
While the North Caucasus is already a political and physical part of Europe, why is the term Eurasia emphasized? Eurasia is actually a description made about the Soviet Union after its dissolution. Eurasia is also a "flexible" term. Today, everybody is trying to create their own Eurasia. The political infrastructure of the Eurasian identity after the Soviet Union was established during Vladimir Putin's presidency. It was once thought that the idea of "Eurasianism," popularized by Russian intellectuals, was going to protect the federal structure of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union and it is now viewed as a ground that will create a common denominator with the neighboring countries in the Asian continent from Turkey to as far as China. It can be claimed that this viewpoint is gaining a higher and higher degree of recognition from the decision makers in Moscow and is becoming a state policy. We should also dwell on whether trying to create an ideal of "Eurasian" people is a contemporary version of Russia's former mission of creating an ideal "Soviet people" and "Soviet society." In this regard, it can be claimed that Moscow has started seeking ways to create a common denominator on the ground of "Eurasianism and Common Eurasian House" inside and outside the country.
Armenian Scholar Convinced That Policy Of International Recognition Of “genocide Of Armenians” Should Be Given Up
04 December 2007, Demaz
Armenian issue once again turned to be “headache” for Turkey for the issue of recognition of “Genocide of Armenians” touches the fundaments of Turkish identity, declared in Yerevan director of the institute on oriental studies of National Academy of Science of Armenia, professor, Professor. Ruben Safrastyan.
“The only chance to establish relations with Turkey is to give up policy of international recognition of “genocide of Armenians”. The rest is political game. If Armenia makes concession in this issue, then Turkey may even promote taking decision on conflict in Garabagh taking into consideration interests of Armenia”, underscored Armenian specialist in Turkic philology.
“Late 90-s Turkey entered the stage of political and economic bloom, what became possible at result of activity of middle class which created ruling party of Justice and Development. The advent of Party of Justice and Development is natural being phenomenal occurrence of political history of Turkey; it is a party which regards conception of “soft” Islam with market economy. And of course symbol of all this transformation is Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan”, Safrastyan concluded.
History Professor Gives Lecture on 'Military Genius' in Turkey
Dec. 11, 2007 by Paige Patton, Communication Specialist, (254) 710-3321
Dr. George Gawrych, associate professor of history at Baylor University, recently was invited to give a lecture in Turkey about a prominent Turkish historical figure. Gawrych presented his lecture, "Ataturk as a Political and Military Genius," Nov. 9 in Ankara, Turkey.
At the invitation of the Turkish Confederation of Employer Association, Gawrych spoke on the day before Ataturk's death is commemorated each year. He was interviewed on a major Turkish television station, and the most popular national Turkish newspaper, Liberty, published an interview with him.
"There is really not much published in English about Ataturk and the Turkish War of Independence," Gawrych said. "I discussed his transition from successful military commander to statesman."
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. He was a division commander during the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 and was instrumental in preventing the partition of Anatolia and Eastern Thrace through his political and military leadership in the Turkish War of Independence. The successful resistance led to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Ataturk then instituted reforms in the political, economic and cultural aspects of life in Turkey, which led to the creation of a secular nation-state guided by educational and scientific progress.
Gawrych's teaching focuses on Middle East and military history, and one of his research projects studies Ataturk's leadership during the Turkish War of Independence. Gawrych travels to Turkey each summer to do further research.
"In my lecture, I wanted to give a fresh look at this genius by incorporating the military theory of Carl von Clausewitz," Gawrych said. "I wanted to show the critical importance of politics and his legitimacy as a soldier."
Broader research goals of politics and purpose in war led Gawrych to publish The Crescent and the Eagle: Ottoman Rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913 in 2006.
Gawrych received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He spent 19 years teaching at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a year at West Point as Visiting Professor before coming to Baylor in August 2003.
Turkish Ambassador To Azerbaijan: You Launch War In Nagorno Karabakh, And See How Turkey Boils Up
Azeri Press Agency, Azerbaijan
http://en.apa.az/ Dec 18 2007
"My dismissal as ambassador and appointment to another post in Turkey was a surprise for me," Turkish ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Azerbaijan Huseyn Avni Karslioglu said in an interview to APA. The ambassador said when Abdullah Gul was elected president of Turkey media reported that he would work with his old friends and his name was among them.
"But I said that recalling me would not be good. I have just come to Azerbaijan and started some activities here. This is the president's order. Only 11 months passed. My leaving did not make me fully glad.
Of course, my new appointment is also a high post. I will be head of president's secretariat," he said.
Huseyn Avni Karslioglu said he could not implement all the projects he planned as an ambassador.
"We wanted Abdullah Gul to pay his first official as a president to Azerbaijan and our wish came true. But not all the projects I planned for improving economic relations have been implemented.
Turkey-Azerbaijan relations develop in all spheres, especially in political-economic sphere. Turkey is able to do much for the development of non-oil sector in Azerbaijan. We want Azerbaijan to invest funds in Turkey," the ambassador said.
The ambassador said that Azerbaijan is loved in Turkey. But Azerbaijan is not recognized in Turkey.
"Year of Azerbaijan has not been held in Turkey up to now. Azerbaijan feels happy for any success of Turkey on the international level and Azerbaijan's achievement also makes Turkey happy. You launch war in Nagorno Karabakh, and see how Turkey boils up. Turkey will be so happy, if Azerbaijani football clubs Karvan, Turan, Garabagh and Khazar-Lankaran win on the international level," he said.
Speaking about Turkey's support to Azerbaijan in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the ambassador underlined that his country is not the co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group.
"Neither the co-chairing countries, nor Armenia want this. Our borders with Armenia are closed, and this has a serious influence on Armenians. Turkey undergoes political and economic losses. Turkey is exerted pressure," he said.
Huseyn Avni Karslioglu said the government devolved Turkish parliament's authorities in fighting against PKK to the servicemen.
He said that security agencies will take all necessary steps: "They will either bomb, or carry out operation..."
The ambassador said he will not be able to take his car GAZ 21 he bought in Azerbaijan with him.
"I planned to buy an old yellow bus and motor tricycle. I like to drive them," he said.
Huseyn Avni Karslioglu also said he does not part with Azerbaijan, and takes Azerbaijan with him.
Norman Stone Follows Judith Herrin To The Crossroads Of Civilisation In Byzantium
In old Istanbul
December 15, 2007
Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire
by Judith Herrin
392pp, Allen Lane, £20
The Byzantines "present a dead uniformity of abject vices, which are neither softened by the weakness of humanity, nor animated by the vigour of memorable crimes" - thus Gibbon. When he wrote his history of the decline of Rome, he found to his dismay that it had not really collapsed towards the end of the fifth century. Part of it had survived and flourished - the eastern half, with its great capital at Constantinople - and its people called themselves "Romans" (to this day, the Turks of Anatolia are called Rumi in Kurdish). So Gibbon had to plough on through the records of the Byzantine empire and hedid not much like what he had to do.
It is a complicated story, defeating all but the best chroniclers. Eastern Rome exhausted itself in a long war with Persia, and then lost almost all of its Middle Eastern territories to the Arabs (Muhammad was one of Gibbon's few heroes). There was a recovery in the 10th century, as the Arabs themselves declined, but towards the end of the 11th century, a good part of Anatoliafell to the nomadic Turks. The Byzantines looked to the west for help, but that again was a sad story. In 1204 the Fourth Crusade, marauding Normans and scheming Venetians, ruthlessly sacked the great city. In Istanbul they aredoing a good job, at last, of restoring the great church of the Pantocrator, where emperors of the Comnenos dynasty were buried. The Crusaders sacked the tombs and now there is only a tiny sliver of the original gold left: all the rest was looted and carted off to Italy.
The Fourth Crusade is one of the landmarks in the rise of western technology. The Byzantines traditionally defended themselves with a combustible called "Greek fire", which burned wooden ships and siege-towers. The Venetians worked out an antidote, treating leather with chemicals that resisted the flames, and enabled ships to approach the great sea walls on the Golden Horn. The Byzantines, convinced of their superiority, could not work out how their semi-savage enemies could be so skilled in such arts. But Constantinople was almost finished.
The empire lingered on for another 250 years, but in the main it had becomea football, kicked around by rival Italians. The Galata tower, built in 1384, is one of the city's landmarks, and you assume that it was meant to deter Turks or even Russians. It was in fact part of the defences put up by the Genoese against the Venetians, who were trying to get into the Black Sea trade, which Genoa monopolised. When the Turks finally did take Constantinople in1453, the "Latins" had in effect weakened the place to the point of indefensibility; the gulf between Catholics and Orthodox was so great that, up to the very last moment of the siege, the great Church of the Holy Wisdom, the Aya Sofya as it is now called, had to be kept closed because if the two sides congregated in it, they fought.
The Byzantines regarded theirs as the great civilisation, and Judith Herrin splendidly shows how right they were. She has not tried to follow the path of so many narrative historians, of greater or lesser gifts. Told in a particular way, the story of Byzantium can appear surreal - quarter-century civil wars between blinded grandfather and scheming grandson, manipulated by Genoese and Venetians who use Catalans and Turks as their agents; eunuchs leading armies; the deranged monks whom Gibbon mocked. Herrin is a leading Byzantinist, and she presents eastern Rome as a civilisation, with its strengths and defects. This is a very difficult business because the sources are extremely demanding and in some areas very thin indeed (there is an excellent presentation of this problem at the start of Mark Whittow's Making of Orthodox Byzantium 600-1025) - and paradoxically we often depend for knowledge on the manuscripts and artefacts looted by the Crusaders, who took them to Italy.
Chapters, sometimes very short, discuss matters both great and small. Herrin is excellent on the Ravenna of Justinian, with the extraordinary mosaics that somehow survived the second world war (when Allied bombing could be ruthless) and she is very good on that odd Byzantine (and Russian) phenomenon, the woman in power. Why is it that Orthodoxy, such a masculine creed (the monks of Mount Athos would not even allow hens into their vast monastery), producesso many feeble male rulers and so many competent female ones? She even manages to make iconoclasm - the enormous destruction of graven images in the early-middle period of Byzantium - comprehensible, though its relationshipwith the doctrine of the Trinity might have been explored.
There is a superb book by Alain Besançon, L'Image interdite, which discusses these matters in a long-term philosophical context (it ends up with a description of Mondrian, remorselessly reading the works of Madame Blavatsky, spiritualist extraordinary). Overall, just the same, Judith Herrin can workher way into the mind of Byzantium, and she gives prominence especially to the artistic side. A very good book, all in all.
· Norman Stone's World War One: A Short History is published by Allen Lane
What Hrant Dink Had Told U.S. Diplomat Bound For Armenia
Lragir, Armenia, Dec 17 2007
What is the attitude of the U.S. government toward the tough stance of Turkey on the Armenian and Turkish relations which offers stipulations in response to the proposal to set up relations without preconditions? The reporters asked the U.S. Charge Joseph Pennington on December 17 who had been a diplomatic official to Ankara before he came to Armenia in June 2007.
The reporters added to this question that when the resolution on the Genocide was going to be discussed at the U.S. House, statements were made that it would harm the Armenian and Turkish dialogue. How will it harm if there is no dialogue, the reporters asked?
In answer to these questions Joseph Pennington said the U.S.
government calls on both Turkey and Armenia to start a dialogue because it stems from the interests of both countries. Besides, the U.S. diplomat told a story which happened during his service in Ankara when he knew he was going to Armenia. Pennington says he met with Hrant Dink he had heard a lot about him, and talked on the phone but did not have a meeting. They met and discussed a number of things, including the Armenian and Turkish relation.
He says he had gone to his office in front of which he was killed, they walked to his favorite restaurant and he and Hrant talked for a couple of hours because he knew he was going to Armenia. Pennington says Hrant Dink gave him information on a number of issues and wanted to know how the United States can help the Armenian and Turkish relation. He kept saying that he is proud of being Armenian but he also loves his country, that is Turkey, the U.S. Charge says. He says when he asked Dink how the Untied States can be helpful to the Armenian and Turkish issue, he said help improve the relations between Armenia and Turkey, Pennington says.
Kurdish 'Genie' Let Out Of The Bottle
The Toronto Sun, December 16, 2007, Diyarbakir, Turkey
Turkey gets tough as Kurds renew their battle for independent state
The Turkish army helicopter came in low, passed directly overhead, then began descending onto a landing pad inside the sprawling 7th Corps military base.
I thought it would make a good photo and I quickly snapped a couple of shots. A shout from behind told me that someone took exception to my photography. A young Turkish jandarma had his rifle pointed at me as others came running out of a nearby building.
Keeping my arms outstretched to indicate my complete compliance I walked slowly towards the jandarma. They quickly removed my camera from my possession and despite the presentation of my press credentials and passport, I was whisked into the guardhouse.
The sergeant inside was curious as to my identity and activity, but I quickly realized he was only politely killing time until the M.I.T.
agents (Turkish secret service) arrived. About 90 minutes after my apprehension, four M.I.T. operatives arrived. Dressed in civilian clothes and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, it was readily apparent that the M.I.T. inspired awe in the uniformed jandarma. As none of the agents spoke English, they had to call a translator.
Eventually, they verified my press card registration and were convinced of my identity.
The photos I took were examined and any shot that included an image of Turkish military equipment or personnel was deleted. The M.I.T. team then drove me several blocks away from both the military base and my hotel and then left me on a deserted sideroad.
While I was disappointed by the deletion of some good photos and the prospect of a lengthy hike back to my lodgings, the Turks certainly have good reason to be on full alert in the Kurdish separatist hotbed of Diyarbakir.
So far this year Kurdish rebels have killed 110 Turkish security forces and wounded an additional 227. Most of these attacks took place in the border region with the Kurdish ambushers then retreating back to their mountain bases in northern Iraq. In a series of daring operations last October, the Kurds killed 28 Turkish soldiers, wounded another 23 and captured eight.
In addition to these cross-border guerrilla-style clashes with Turkish security forces, an extremist group called the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK) has initiated a terror bombing campaign. These violent provocations have ignited Turkish nationalist sentiment. A somewhat embarrassed Turkish military has explained that their hands are tied as long as the Kurdish rebels can operate with impunity from bases inside Iraq.
As a result of mounting domestic pressure to restore national security, the Turkish parliament approved a bill that will allow their military to launch a self-defence pre-emptive strike against the Kurdish rebels in Iraq.
Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration has publicly refused to grant Turkey the authority to enter Iraqi territory even to eliminate known terrorists. This double-standard policy --America invaded Iraq to protect themselves from non-existent weapons of mass destruction, but forbids Turkey from engaging proven terrorists --has led to increased anti-U.S. sentiment among Turkish nationalists.
For the Turkish military, the anti-American sentiment stems from the fact that the U.S. intervention into Iraq not only plunged a neighbouring country into chaos, it also let the genie of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey out of the bottle.
In 1984 the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) had first entered into open revolt against Turkish authorities, resulting in 15 years of bloodshed. An estimated 37,000 people were killed before the PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, was arrested in 1999 and the remaining Kurdish rebels fled from eastern Turkey into northern Iraq.
Following Ocalan's incarceration, the Turkish government implemented a number of reforms and economic development projects in eastern Turkey in an effort to appease the Kurdish minority. Closely monitored by the international community, the reformation and reconciliation with the Kurds is one of the benchmark objectives for Turkey's entry into the European Union.
However, not all Kurdish residents of eastern Turkey view these projects as progress.
"They built thousands of schools and, in particular, encouraged the education of our women," explained Serdar Sengul, the foreign relations advisor to the Kurdish municipal government in Diyarbakir.
"The problem is that the only official teaching language is Turkish and this is therefore a program designed to assimilate the Kurds and deprive them of their mother tongue."
TOO MANY DIALECTS
Turkish officials have argued that Kurdish is not a progressive language for education purposes as it consists of three primary dialects with dozens of regional sub dialects. Sengul, who studied Kurdish on his own initiative, discounted this argument by explaining that sometime in 2008 "Kurdish scholars will reach a consensus on a common alphabet."
Following the 1991 Gulf War, the Kurds in northern Iraq had militarily wrested control of three provinces from a severely weakened Saddam Hussein. This autonomous region was monitored by the UN and protected from Saddam by U.S. aircraft enforcing the post-war no-fly-zone. Although they were free from the Baghdad regime, the two major Kurdish factions in northern Iraq continued to battle each other in territorial disputes.
The key rivals, Massoud Barzani with the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), only forged an alliance of mutual convenience on the eve of the 2003 U.S.
attack. Since that juncture, Barzani and Talabani have supported the Americans. Talabani is now president of the entire country and his rival, Barzani, is the head of the Kurdish Regional Government.
For the past four-and-a-half years, northern Iraq has been steadily evolving into an independent state. Such an eventuality will not only fuel Kurdish separatist sentiments in Turkey, it will also ignite similar movements among the Kurdish minorities in neighbouring Syria, Iran and Armenia.
"When I visited (northern Iraq) earlier this year my heart was filled with pride," said 32-year-old Sengul. "Everywhere there was Kurdish flags flying, people were openly speaking Kurdish, and the name Kurdistan was evident everywhere. Here in Diyarbakir we don't consider that region to be northern Iraq. It is in fact southern Kurdistan."
With Turkish media continually broadcasting images of their military buildup along the Iraq border, there has been mounting pressure on the U.S. to push their Kurdish allies into reining in the PKK rebels.
Flexing their increased clout and independence, the Iraqi Kurds are divided in their support for the PKK. Massoud Barzani's KDP, whose zone of control includes the border region with Turkey, is fairly pragmatic.
"We are not opposed to a Turkish cross-border operation provided it does not destroy our villages and harm our people," said Omar Mirani, the KDP representative in Turkey. "We don't want a war between the Turks and PKK in our garden."
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was more bellicose in his response in which he declared that no Kurd, "not even a Kurdish cat," will be turned over to the Turks.
It is estimated that there are upwards of 5,000 PKK fighters currently based in northern Iraq. The rough mountain terrain where they are encamped is in very remote and inaccessible regions. This makes matters problematic not only for Turkish security forces, but also for the KDP to control them.
For the Turkish military, any cross-border operation to engage the PKK camps faces the same obstacle of hostile terrain that favours guerrilla tactics. So far, it seems as though the Turkish military response has been largely limited to only airstrikes and artillery barrages. Many of the fighter jet sorties are flown out of the major airbase at Diyarbakir to pound suspected PKK positions inside Iraq.
Ironically, it is Diyarbakir itself that might yet prove to be the key battleground in this burgeoning conflict.
With more than 1 million inhabitants, Diyarbakir is the major Kurdish urban centre in eastern Turkey. During the previous decade-and-a-half of violence, more than 5,000 residents have been killed in this city as a result of the fighting between separatists and security forces.
This past September, a bomb was detonated in one of Diyarbakir's public parks killing 10 Kurdish civilians -- mostly schoolchildren -- and injuring another 14. Speculation is that Turkish nationalists were responsible for the blast and that it was in retaliation for the Kurdish TAK extremists bombing campaign throughout the rest of Turkey.
On Nov. 25, Turkish police were forced to use water cannons, tear gas and batons on a Kurdish demonstration that spiralled into a riot. The reason for the protest was to demonstrate support for the Democratic Society Party (the political arm of the PKK) and to protest Turkish military strikes against the Kurdish rebels. Turkish state prosecutors have initiated proceedings to shut down the DSP for its refusal to condemn PKK terrorists. The Turkish Constitutional Court has agreed to examine the charges and to rule on the continued legality of the DSP.
"It will not be a quick process and it will obviously be a very sensitive ruling," explained Osman Paksut, a vice president of the Constitutional Court. "The DSP will have until next April to reverse their position and condemn the PKK terrorists. But no one expects them to take such action."
In the meantime, it appears the DSP in Diyarbakir has ample funding and widespread popular support amongst the Kurdish population. When I stopped by their new offices for a visit, it was my hope to obtain an interview with Osman Baydemir, Diyarbakir's 35-year-old mayor and a key figure in the DSP.
In March 2006, Baydemir received national attention when Diyarbakir erupted with violence. The spark was a funeral procession held for 14 members of the PKK who had been killed by Turkish security forces as they crossed over the Iraqi border. Four of those killed were from Diyarbakir and emotions had boiled over into a full-scale riot.
Police reaction resulted in the death of an additional 12 Kurdish civilians.
MAYOR TALKED TO CROWD
At the height of the crisis, Mayor Baydemir addressed the crowd in Kurdish and successfully dispersed them.
After making several phone calls, DSP officials advised me that, due to a full schedule, an interview with the mayor was not possible. As I left, a pair of F-16 fighter jets took off from the nearby airbase and flew overhead towards the Turkish border. My DSP host shook his head and said, "They're (Turkish pilots) wasting their time flying into Iraq. The PKK are here in Diyarbakir." When I asked him how he could be sure of this, he just grinned.
The revelation that the PKK have a known presence within the city limits made the actions of the M.I.T. agents far easier to understand. Dropping me off unseen on a deserted street was probably far safer for me than to be seen by Kurdish separatist sympathizers stepping out of a Turkish intelligence vehicle .
Besides, it was a pleasant day for a long walk.
Armenian National Committee of America
www.anca.org, Press Release, December 17, 2007
Congress To Reduce Foreign Aid To Armenia; Maintain Military Aid Parity With Azerbaijan
-- Vote on Omnibus Aid Bill as Early as Monday Evening 12/17
Calling for $58.5 Million for Armenia; $3 Million for Karabagh
WASHINGTON, DC - Negotiators representing the U.S. House and Senate appear to have agreed upon Fiscal Year 2008 assistance figures for Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, both at levels less than last year, as part of a far-reaching agreement on foreign aid and other appropriations measures that is set to be adopted soon by both houses of Congress, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The agreement includes $58.5 million in assistance to Armenia and $3 million in direct aid to Nagorno Karabagh. It also reverses the Administration's latest bid to retreat from its 2001 pledge to maintain in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"We are troubled by the reductions in aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh, particularly in light on the ongoing economic costs of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as Baku's increasingly violent rhetoric about restarting its war against the Armenians," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank all of our friends in the appropriations process who, working against significant competing budgetary pressures - were able to deliver figures higher than the President's request, and also to maintain military aid parity."
In addition to the Armenia and Karabagh allocations, the omnibus aid bill also includes $50.5 million for Georgia and $19 million for Azerbaijan. Millennium Challenge Account funding is set for $1.5 billion, half of President Bush's request.
On June 12th, the House adopted its version of the FY08 foreign bill, earmarking $68 million for Armenia, $6 million in direct assistance to Nagorno Karabagh, and maintaining parity in the levels of U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This represented a 48.5% increase over the President's budget request for Armenia, but less than the $75 million sought by the ANCA.
The Senate version, adopted on September 6th, called for only $39 million in aid to Armenia, $4 million above the President's request, but considerably less than the ANCA request. The Senate bill neither set a specific dollar amount for Nagorno Karabagh nor addressed the issue of military aid parity.
Thousands of Armenian Americans have communicated to their legislators on this issue via an ANCA Congressional Call In Campaign: http://capwiz.com/anca/home
In testimony submitted to the Foreign Operations Subcomittee on March 29th, ANCA Government Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian touched upon a number of key issues, including: 1) Restoring parity in all military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan; 2) Increasing economic Assistance to Armenia to at least $75 million; 3) Expanding U.S. Assistance to Nagorno Karabagh to at least $10 million in both humanitarian and development aid, and; 4) Preserving Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. The full text of the ANCA's testimony is available at: http://www.anca.org/assets/pdf/testimony/2007.pdf
In February of this year, in letters to leading Appropriators in the House and Senate, the ANCA outlined the Armenian American community's foreign aid priorities. For the full text of these letters, visit: http://www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1079
Sarko Snows On 'Turkish Spring'
December 18, 2007,Barçin Yinanç, ISTANBUL - TDN
French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to postpone the 'Turkish season,' a series of events to introduce Turkish culture to France. The event is originally scheduled for Spring 2009, just ahead of European Parliament elections planned for June of the same year. Sarkozy, known for his objection to Turkey’s accession to the EU, does not wish the EU electoral campaign to coincide with the events to promote Turkey in France
As if relations between Turkey and the Gauls were not galling enough, now the French government is taking steps to “postpone” plans for a “Turkish season” planned for France in 2009.
After last year's debate in the French legislature to ban “genocide denial,” a rough presidential campaign that brought President Nicolas Sarkozy to power amid no small amount of Turkey-bashing and now the French effort to erase the word “accession” (as in “Turkey's accession”) from the European Union document, “pourquoi” might be a fair question.
In Turkish diplomatic quarters, at least, the answer seems to be that as currently planned since 2006, Turkey's turn to tout its culture in a six-month cultural show that rotates among countries before all of France would coincide with elections for the European Parliament. And who among Sarkozy's power elite would want Turkish fashion shows, film festivals, book fairs and culinary expositions to be talking place when politicians will presumably be debating Turkey's virtues – or lack thereof?
“We think the real reason behind France's request to postpone the Turkish season, is the fact that it just comes ahead of Euro – elections,” a Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News yesterday. “We believe this is really unacceptable.”
Similar to the rotating “European Capital of Culture” process where a given city is chosen to be promoted by the European Union for a year, an honor that will be Istanbul's in 2010, the “country season” is a French tradition that lasts approximately six months. During that time, the chosen country's culture is introduced to France, through a series of cultural events. Last year it was the “Armenia season.”
It does not have to be limited to cultural events, of course. But the event is viewed as a golden opportunity for the promotion of the participating country in France.
Turkish diplomats say the decision to have a Turkish season in France was taken in 2006. But the French downplayed the firmness of that commitment yesterday.
“We never set a definite date, but having it for spring 2009 was one of the options,” said Bertrand Buchwalter, spokesperson of the French Embassy in Ankara. A request newly made by France's government to postpone the event has nothing to do with the Euro elections. Rather explained the diplomat, it all stems from calendar constraints of the “actors involved” in the event.
“At the beginning we aimed at coupling the Turkish season with the famous Paris book fair in Spring 2009. But it was not possible to have Turkey invited to the book fair, since another country was chosen,” said Buchwalter. The organization of a cultural season requires the mobilization of many important actors said the French spokesperson, and added, “if we want all the actors on board, it will be better to have the season in 2010.” For Buchwalter, it is simply a matter of organizational procedure. He noted that not just Turkey is being bumped from the calendar, but plans are in the works to delay Russia's “cultural season” that is currently planned for 2010.
Buchwalter's argument, however, is finding few takers in Ankara or elsewhere in Turkish diplomatic circles.
For if the Turkish season indeed takes place in spring 2009, it will roll right into the European Parliament elections due in June of the same year. As “Turkey has no place in the EU,” was one of the main themes of Sarkozy's electoral campaign for the presidency he and his party will therefore be questioned by the French electorate during the campaign on just how well the pledge to slow down Turkey's accession process toward joining the EU has been maintained. So far, Sarkozy has only been partially successful in hampering Turkey's membership process. A debate on that track record, on the heels of a six-month celebration of Turkey in France, would be, well, “inconvenient” in the words of Turkish diplomats.
The Turkish side is unwilling to change the date. But Buchwalter believes no decision has been finalized and that there will be further discussions on the matter.
Minority Music: In The Key Of Peace
Vercihan Ziflioglu, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News, December 18, 2007
Turkish record label Kalan Music is the only company searching for copyright owners through newspaper advertisements and paying them their copyright fees. A new album coming out next year will generate a lot of interest
Much of the recorded traditional ethnic and folk music from Anatolia is under the protection of Kalan Music, a Turkish independent record label. In 1991, Hasan Saltik founded the company and his compilations and archive have attracted the attention of music authorities abroad. In 2003, the company won The Netherlands's international Prince Claus Award with its release of a compilation of LP records of traditional Ottoman music and of Anatolian ethnic and folk music. In 2004, Saltik was selected ‘Hero of the Year' by TIME magazine.
Lawsuits hit Saltik one after another when he released the first CD in Kurdish in Turkey in the early 1990s. His company was shut down by Turkish authorities.
Saltik told the Turkish Daily News: “There is ultra nationalism in Turkey. Albums are freely released in the West but when we release an album representing the ethnic cultures of Anatolia they demand that we provide the Turkish versions of the songs.”
Kalan Music's large archive of documents and records is one of the most significant stops for musicologists and musicians from around the world who come to study the origins of Anatolian music. In a country like Turkey, where obtaining and infringing copyrights are a serious problem, Kalan Music is the only company searching for copyright owners through newspaper advertisements and paying them their copyright fees.
According to Saltik, a new album coming out in 2008 titled ‘Dersim '38 Agitlari' (Dirges of Dersim ‘38) will generate a lot of interest. The album, including a comprehensive booklet, is composed of dirges ululating after events that took place in Tunceli in 1938. These eulogies are a type of folk music that feature a melodic wailing following grievous events in Anatolia.
LPs restored and songs transferred to CDs
Kalan is the previous name of Tunceli, a Turkish city in Eastern Anatolia where Saltik was born and the namesake of his company. Founded in 1991, the company mostly released albums containing political music. During a visit to the U.S., Saltik encountered a music company called Crossroad Records, which restores classical works of Ottoman composers and puts them on the market. After researching the company, Saltik learned that the Crossroad belonged to an Armenian family. Then, he returned to Turkey and immediately contacted LP collectors he knew, ordered technical apparatus and instruments from London and built a special studio. He pursued the copyrights and tracked down copyright owners by placing ads in Turkey's biggest newspapers. The project gained momentum after the copyright permission was obtained.
Songs on the LPs were then transferred to CDs meticulously. Saltik said their project introduced many works of archival quality, from Classical Turkish Music to tangos. Each album was released with a detailed booklet prepared with the help of experts. For Saltik, these booklets are little encyclopedias. Saltik talked about the difference between an LP and a CD, saying, “Analog records do not allow for any corrections after a mistake, so you have to obtain the most perfect record in one attempt. LPs allows you perceive the sensitivity in the artist's voice while CD recordings are compiled through several trials. Even if the voice is out of tune, you can fix it during CD recordings.”
First Album in Kurdish
Saltik won The Netherlands' international Prince Claus Award with his release of a compilation of LP records of traditional Ottoman music and of Anatolian ethnic and folk music. Despite all of his success he faced many trials. And despite being banned after the coup of Sept 12, 1980, Kalan Music released its first album in Kurdish, titled ‘Hoy Nare', with Rahmi Saltik performing.
The album in Kurdish was followed by another work about the death fasts in Turkey. After the release of this album, Saltik was sentenced to three years in prison. Music CDs in Western languages are released without facing any restriction in Turkey but people who have lived in Anatolia for millennia are still struggling to make their own music in their own languages, Saltik told the TDN. The Ministry of Culture in Turkey demands translation of any ethnic work into Turkish on each CD.
“We perceive our own people as the ‘other'. We, as a country, have failed to preserve our rich culture. The state should support these cultures to protect them from fading away,” Saltik said. Kalan Music's large spectrum includes works ranging from anonymous folk songs to classical music. The company uses the revenue it has earned from pop music CDs to cover the costs of its compilation and archival projects. Saltik said, “I want to embrace Anatolia as a whole, without any discrimination. Those cultures on Anatolian soil are the riches of my country. Even though it has been manipulated and made to be forgotten, Anatolia was home to various cultures for millennia. We are all sisters and brothers. We are all the same.” Saltik thinks many historians in Turkey are nationalists and criticizes this situation. “Those people, although defining themselves as intellectuals and historians, have hindered our learning about the many cultures belonging to Anatolia, our own land. The mission of Kalan Music is to change this behavior,” he added.
Germans made compilations of Anatolian traditional folk music
Saltik said many researchers from Turkey and abroad apply to Kalan Music and come to scan its archives. He said their archive includes thousands of photographs and records and that the most significant record in their hands is a compilation of Anatolian melodies. Compiled by German folklorist couple Kurt and Ursula Reinhardt, the record dates back to the early 1900s.
Kalan Music plans to gather some of its archival works in eight albums and release them in 2008. Saltik said the CDs will be distributed free of charge. “Some who receive support from the Ministry of Culture produce so many unsuccessful projects. There is no one willing to do something for this country. Everyone seeks money. We will be expressing our silent protest by distributing these CDs that we will release thanks to our own limited financial resources,” Saltik told the TDN. He also aims to turn Kalan's archive into a library.
In 2008, Kalan Music will be releasing an album including folk songs of Yazidis and Anatolian gypsies. Yazidis are an Anatolian ethnic group. Their population was nearly 80,000 until the 1970s when it fell to 23,000. Today, an estimated 377 Yazidis live in Anatolia. Present-day Yazidis live in Syria, Iraq, Armenia, and in some European countries. According to Saltik, among the albums Kalan Music will be releasing in 2008, the ‘Dirges of Dersim ‘38' will attract the most attention.
The Diaspora Must Put Forth Proposals and Terms, Not Individuals
[December 17, 2007]
Vazgen Manukyan, a Candidate for the Presidency of the RA, Responds to Questions Posed by Readers: We have only translated Mr. Vazgen Manukyan's answers to questions submitted in English. The entire interview can be read in Armenian version of Hetq.
Edward Papelian -In Armenia there is corruption and rule of law is not popular or widely respected by the authorities. Both have nothing to do with closed borders with Turkey and the Karabakh issue. To hid corruption and to fight corruption are not the same: what is your approach to these important issues?
Vazgen Manukyan - Elements of corruption naturally were evident back when we lived under the rule of the Russian czars. Those elements grew under Communist rule in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Thus, when we came to power that corruption was in place. To struggle against this manifestation there has to be a true democratic system in place, an independent judiciary and a political society. Sadly, we lack these things today. In my address I noted that today corruption hasn’t grown as much as it has been transformed into one of the most important factors employed in the mechanics of the government. I don’t believe that corruption is a phenomenon that has deep roots in our people or that it has become second nature, as in other eastern countries. Even during the Soviet period when we’d visit Georgia or Azerbaijan with friends or family we’d notice that corruption levels in Armenia were less in comparison, that our people were less inclined to use corrupt methods. Under the normal rule of law and normal scrutiny corruption can be greatly reduced, especially if the authorities in power are anti-corruption in practice.
Regarding the rule of law, there is no democratic state mechanism to establish such a thing in our country. The authorities aren’t elected nor removed from office by popular vote. It’s in this context that corruption in Armenia becomes a manifestation of the exercise of power.
And you’ve touched on a very important point. If, in our past history, we Armenians would constantly say that we are guiltless and have experienced loss, today, we are the ones responsible for our present losses.
Edward Papelian -Kocharyan made mistakes too. But Levon Ter-Petrosyan (LTP) is stoking fears and at the end is calling for capitulation. Don't you think he is betraying state secrets in his demonstration just because of enmity, which he has with his "old" friends?
Vazgen Manukyan - I am uneasy about the vitriol and aggression that is presently spreading throughout our society not only by way of public rallies but also through the press and television. This road will not lead to an improvement of the situation in Armenia.
Edward Papelian - There is already no political culture and most of those are running for the Presidency seem to be looking for revenge. What are the core issues of you program?
Vazgen Manukyan - Not all candidates are running to seek revenge. As for our programs, I have consistently put forth an ideological roadmap for the past twenty years, which is impossible to explain in a few words here. You can refer to my address at the 17th Congress of the National Democratic Unity Party.
Edward Papelian - What are your thoughts about "Western Armenia" and the recognition of the Armenian genocide?
Vazgen Manukyan - I am convinced that the Genocide isn’t only an issue of historical remembrance. For the past 90 years Armenians have been forced to live with the realities resulting from the Genocide. Those major realities include the loss of a large portion of the homeland, horrific loss of human life, the huge efforts of two-three generations of exiled Armenians in precarious conditions to organize national life on a normal scale and to get back on its feet in hospitable countries, the matter of insuring the security of an Armenian state on a tiny fraction of the homeland, irretrievable cultural losses, etc....
Obviously, all this has kept the natural desire to affirm historical justice alive and well. And this can become a source of vitality for us when it comes to building our future. The efforts of the Diaspora seeking to achieve international public recognition of the Genocide, with the support of all Armenians and the Armenian state, is one of the most important factors for our collective and strong development.
Mher - How would you strengthen and increase true and transparent dialogue and cooperation between the Diaspora and the ROA? Specifically, between the common people from both realities?
Vazgen Manukyan - Those who are familiar with our ideological principles and directions know the importance we place on the necessity of Armenia-Diaspora collaboration. It has assumed a unique significance in conditions of the process of globalization, when all across the world nations and governments are simultaneously engaged in cooperation and competition. Armenia-Diaspora collaboration, in the context of Armenians as compromising as “global nation”, is an important component in our conceptual framework. It is too important and serious a matter to summarize here. But one thing I can say is that to establish effective collaboration between the Republic of Armenia and the Diaspora, as well as amongst Armenians living here and in the Diaspora, the initiative and outline must come from our government. Sadly, till now, the ROA has not approached this matter with the seriousness and understanding it deserves.
Harmick Azarian - It is clear to almost everyone who will win the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia. Although many opposition leaders do not favor Levon Ter-Petrosyan, he is offering at least an alternative to the current leadership. Why could the opposition not unite around him ( just at least to provide a counter weight to Serzh) instead we now see opposition leaders themselves slandering Ter-Petrosyan, this is MUSIC to the ears of the current regime. Do you think LTP has any chance?
Vazgen Manukyan - Firstly, I'd beg to differ with you. I wouldn't say that it's at all evident who will become the President of Armenia in 2008. As for the chances of Levon Ter-Petrosyan to be elected, I'd rate them pretty slim, especially since he’s repelling more people from his team than recruiting them.
Sako - Do you really think that Levon Ter-Petrosyan, would give Artsakh back to the dirty Azeris, and if you become president how would you solve the Artsakh issue. Thank you....
Vazgen Manukyan - As to my positions regarding the settlement of the Karabakh issue, I have expressed them in my address which you can read at the «Hetq» online website (www.hetq.am).
Ramik - Why should the Spyurk care who becomes President when 90% of Armenia's own citizens couldn't give a damn? Maybe they know something we in the Spyurk do not?
Vazgen Manukyan - I know for a fact that citizens of Armenia are quite interested in who will become president and have always been interested since our life is essentially dependent on who becomes president. I do not think that the Diaspora should be that interested as to who becomes president but rather as to the quality and effectiveness of established governmental structures when viewed from a perspective of national interests and taking into the account the freedom and rights of Armenian citizens. Sadly, some of our brothers in the Diaspora neglect these points. If the structures and adopted directions are correct in terms of the above, then the question of «who» exactly becomes president becomes less significant. Given the present state of affairs, the only reason we'd be interested in who becomes president is to make sure that person is capable of achieving all the above.
Thus it behooves the Diaspora to put forth proposals and terms, and not individuals.
Copyright © 2002-2007 Hetq Online.
Armenians in Turkey
[December 17, 2007]
I met Artur a little while ago. He was delivering an order from a shoe factory to my husband’s family. I noticed him, since in Istanbul you usually notice other Armenians. We saw on the doorstep and invited him inside.
I was surprised by his age; this slight, good-looking boy was only twelve years old. He was outspoken and gave direct answers. We learned that Artur had come to Turkey with his mother a year ago. He works at a shoe factory, from nine in the morning to eleven at night. The factory owner sends him to deliver goods to customers or to bring materials to the factory.
"Do you watch TV?" I ask him.
"As if I have time to lift my head up," he replies.
Artur already knows Turkish pretty well. As we spoke, he sometimes replied in Turkish when he couldn't remember the appropriate Armenian word. He lives in Istanbul with his mother and sister. His mother also works at the shoe factory, and his 15-year-old sister works in a jewelry store.
"I make 100 million liras a week (about $75), my mother makes $100, and my sister makes 100 million lira, too."
Rents in Istanbul start at 200 to 250 million liras.
"Is it enough?" I ask.
"We manage to get by somehow; my sister doesn’t make enough money to support herself, and I eat during my breaks in the cafeteria-my boss pays for it."
Artur used to go to School #11 in Hrazdan.
I went till sixth grade but I didn't want to, I always skipped classes after one in the afternoon. The classes were from nine to six, and I didn't want to go to that school. One day my mother asked me if I wanted to go to her. I said, why not? And me and my sister came here. I have done whatever type of job there is here. Before this job, I worked for 50 million a week.
The boy doesn't want to return to Armenia. He doesn’t think he needs school. He doesn’t save any of the money he earns.
"I give it to my mother."
The factory owner has promised to increase his salary to 150 million lira.
"I don't like Turks or Kurds. I say whatever I want to the boss. I'm not afraid of anyone."
Artur proudly says that he is not afraid of the dark, and after work he goes to an Internet cafe to play games.
"The Armenian place is open till one a.m.-I go there."
In Turkey, Internet cafes must close at midnight.
"And your mother doesn't say anything?"
"I sneak out when they fall asleep. They don’t know."
"When you come back late, your mother doesn't scold you?"
"No," he says sharply.
His father is in Armenia, with Artur's six-month-old sister. According to Artur, his parents aren't divorced, and to prove it he says quickly, "They'll be coming to Turkey soon."
There are Armenian schools in Istanbul, but only Turkish citizens can attend them, and so about 13,000 Armenians have no opportunity to get an education. Only the secret private school located next to Armenian Apostolic Church in the Ketikpasha district accepts Armenian children. Artur doesn't want to go there; he prefers Internet cafes.
"I know everything; I can get into the game and change everything."
Artur is not the only person in this city, but he is one of the few, who is completely at the mercy of fate. He has no future in this country. He cannot start anything here, and even if he lives the rest of his life in this city, he will be unable to obtain any citizenship right, because he is a Christian, and especially because he is an Armenian.
"Sometimes I buy some small items for one million lira and sell them for three million, or when my boss gives me money to buy materials, I buy them for a bit cheaper, and save ten million, " he boasts.
It was getting late, so we asked the youngster to go home, since Istanbul is dangerous, especially at night. He left, promising to come back. He left, leaving a strange silence behind.
Hermine Adamyan, Copyright © 2002-2007 Hetq Online
New vision for MIT
The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has entered a period of comprehensive restructuring.
In a bid to rid itself of an antiquated structure dating from the Cold War era, MIT will place greater importance on external intelligence rather than internal intelligence and will employ people who can speak English, Georgian, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, Bulgarian, Russian, Greek and other dialects of Turkish. The current rate of female employees within the organization, 18 percent, will be increased to 50 percent.
MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner had signaled a change in the structure of the organization in a written statement issued on Jan. 6, 2007, for the organization's 80th anniversary. Supported also by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, MIT is now ready to take steps toward its brand new composition after a year of preparations and planning.
The plans include measures that will change the organizational scheme of MIT and its work culture. The first step has been the replacement of all the old equipment used by the organization with hi-tech equivalents. The changes designed to make MIT more powerful, dynamic, active, efficient and flexible had become inevitable, particularly in recent years given Turkey's ever-increasing strategic importance.
MIT staff getting younger, more educated
MIT has offered many eligibility examinations in recent years to bring more educated young employees onboard. Previously, the minimum education requirement for a MIT employee was a high school diploma. Now this has changed, and only university graduates are qualified to become intelligence officers. With the recently employed officers having the higher educational requirement, the organization's rate of university graduates has increased to 68 percent, while 29 percent of employees are high school graduates, and primary school graduates account for only 2.2 percent. While primary school graduates have been moved to positions in support services, the high school graduates have also been moved to less important positions.
Following this alteration in personnel, the average age in the organization has also shifted. The rate of employees between the ages of 23 and 25 has increased to 4.6 percent; those between 26 and 35 have increased to 38.2 percent, and staff between 36 and 45 now make up 37.7 percent of the total. Meanwhile, employees between the ages of 46 and 55 have decreased to 18 percent, while those between 56 and 65 have shrunk to 1.4 percent. These figures indicate that the intelligence organization is becoming both younger and more educated.
Number of women to increase
As part of the new plan, the number of female MIT employees will be increased. Females currently make up 18 percent of employees, and the work to increase this percentage is ongoing. A male-centered organization since its foundation, MIT has appointed a female intelligence officer to one of its most critical posts to encourage more women to become intelligence officers. MIT also needs female analysts to work on site.
The new Strategic Research Center team of the organization has been formed with only university graduates. Focusing on the issue of national threats, the team will determine the organization's vision by bringing together the views of analysts. A new think tank has also been created to this end. The organization will be launching coordination projects with other countries' intelligence services in order to exchange real-time information. The restructuring also includes endowing regional heads with greater authority.
Of all the steps to be taken within the context of the modifications, probably the most important is pulling down the psychological as well as physical barriers between MIT and the public. MIT headquarters in Ankara's Yenimahalle district and other MIT buildings elsewhere are considered places of mystery by the public. Additionally, the practice of keeping the agents together as much as possible by providing them with housing will be stopped. The MIT apartments will be handed over to the Treasury, and the MIT staff will start living in ordinary neighborhoods. However, they will continue to conceal their identities in line with their work, receiving assistance with this from the state.
19.12.2007, Ercan Yavuz Ankara
Is It Still Genocide if Your Allies Did It?
Dr. Taner Akcam is one of the world's leading authorities on the Armenian genocide. He is a visiting professor of history at the Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Minnesota and is the author of A Shameful Act, which is the definitive account of the genocide and Turkish responsibility. Journalist Peter Schilling interviews him here.
How did you get involved in researching the Armenian Genocide?
I began in 1988 at the Hamburg Social Research Institute, working on the history of torture and violence in Turkish political culture. At first, I was studying and researching later Ottoman history. However, if one looks at this time period, one comes inevitably upon the massacres of 1894-1896 and the deportation and killing of the Armenians in 1915.
In 1991, the Institute launched a project to investigate whether or not the [lessons of the] Nuremburg Trials could be universalized. At the time there were no serious discussions about this subject. We wanted to know whether one could establish a court that would punish officials for the crimes they committed in the name of their government or nation. Within that project, I suggested looking into the Istanbul trials of 1919 and 1922 -- these were the trials that attempted to establish responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. They were sort of precursors to Nuremburg. So these two components came together, and I that's how I really started working on the Genocide.
And you're from Turkey? Are you a Muslim?
I grew up in a very secular family. My father was an atheist, but I grew up, of course, within Islamic culture. I am sure I carry on much of this Islamic culture in the way I live, but in terms of my personal convictions, I am very secular.
Please understand that I am a very ordinary Turkish intellectual. I come from the '68 Generation -- here it was the Hippie Generation, but we too were against the Vietnam War, American foreign policy, and so on. As progressive people of that time in Turkey, we believed that we, Turks created our nation-state in a fight against the great imperialist powers. We assigned a very negative role to the Christian minorities in Turkey, to the Armenians. To us, they were collaborators. This is how we perceived ourselves and the world, and how we saw Turkey's past. Since we saw all Christians in Turkey as allied with the imperialist state, we had a very negative image of them. As progressives, we always thought it was better not to touch on the topic of the Armenian Genocide, because to do so would be to enter a very dark, suspicious terrain, which could not be understood easily. It was not easy for me to decide to work on the Genocide. At first I thought: I'm working on a very suspicious terrain, better not to go in, actually.
You were active in protests from an early age, correct?
In my early period, in the early 1970s, I was in high school when the student movement was very active. This was a huge anti-war movement. When I started studying at the University it was already 1971, and 1971 was the military coup d'état in Turkey. We were under the control of military. At the beginning, we students were trying to reform the universities. We wanted students to have a voice. Later, they became radicalized, describing themselves as a socialist and democratic revolutionary movement. In 1974 there was the first free election in Turkey. The students became active, and I was one of these student activists influenced by his older brothers in the '68 movement. We wanted reform at the universities.
Now, this is important to understand because of the ongoing Turkish campaign in the United States to discredit me as a terrorist. The story begins with my arrest in 1974 for leafleting. At that time, the students didn't have representation at the universities. Our major demand was to have the freedom to establish a student organization to allow the university to hear us.
In order to distribute a leaflet in Turkey you had to go to the central police station and get special permission. You had to have this permit in your possession while distributing literature. However, even if you had this permit -- as I did -- you could still get arrested and held in jail for two or three days; which is exactly what happened to me. That was my "terrorist act": distributing leaflets -- with permission, mind you -- which said I opposed the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. I was against war. So the police arrested me and I spent two days in prison.
Now today, in the United States, you can go online and read about Taner Akçam's terrorist activities in 1974. It's very simple in the United States to stigmatize someone as a terrorist. With that label attached to someone's name, you can portray Al Qaeda and Taner Akçam in the same picture.
If you go to Google and type in "Holocaust", you get to the Jewish Holocaust immediately, and it takes some time and quite a few pages before you get to the crackpots whose Web sites attempt to discredit it. But with "Armenian Genocide," you get "Armenian Genocide Lie" on the first page, nine entries down on the day I checked (May 10). The famed British journalist and Middle East expert Robert Fisk argues -- quite effectively -- that we would think it insane to give equal time to a Holocaust denial group, but that is often par for the course on the subject of the Armenian Genocide. In 2006, John Evans, the United States' ambassador to Armenia, was even recalled by the U. S. government for using the term 'genocide' in a speech, and he was replaced by Richard Hoagland, who is on record as stating that what happened in Turkey doesn't qualify as a genocide. Since we know that Turkey opposes mention of the Armenian Genocide, I have to wonder why they are able to exert this level of control?
Turkey uses its political importance in the Middle East to pressure the U.S. and other countries not to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Especially the U.S. and Israel have vital interests in keeping good relations with Turkey, so both states have enormous problems to face. Why Turkey doesn't acknowledge the historical wrongdoing is one part of the story. The other part of the history is why the U.S. and Israel let themselves be pressured by Turkey. According to me actually this is a wrong attitude and doesn't help to solve the problem; just the opposite, it lingers the problem and makes it more complicated. I think a strategic partnership that hasn't been based on truth cannot stay healthy in the long term.
Actually, in 2006, John Evans, the United States ambassador to Armenia, was denied a Foreign Service award for "constructive dissent" because he had characterized the Armenian Genocide as such in public presentations throughout the U.S. The State Department forced him to recant, then recalled him from his post.
During confirmation hearings to replace Evans, ambassadorial nominee Richard Hoagland acknowledged the "mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire." At one point highlighting the issue of the perpetrators' intent, Hoagland strenuously avoided characterizing this "human tragedy" as a genocide -- without stating, however, that what happened in Turkey did NOT qualify. The Senate declined his nomination.
Since Evans' departure, Armenia has been without a U.S. ambassador.
Those who argue that there are two sides to the story -- the same people who wouldn't dream of saying such a thing about the Holocaust -- are not doing so because of strong counter-evidence, but only because of political pressure from Turkey. According to the Ottoman documents, there can be no question that the Ottoman government consciously and deliberately destroyed a part of its own population. There is plenty of evidence there.
Acknowledging the Genocide is not a problem of scholarship; it has to do with Turkey's military and political strength in the Middle East. The United States needed Turkey in the Cold War, needed Turkey against the Soviet Union, and needs Turkey today -- not only in the Iraq war, but also in order to preserve the energy routes. Turkey's relationship with Israel is also very important. Turkey is the only country in the Middle East with which Israel has peaceful relations. For these reasons, the Armenian Genocide is highly politicized.
After you were involved in this Nuremberg project, where did you go from there?
In Hamburg, I wrote my doctoral dissertation about the Istanbul Military Tribunals in 1919-1922 and the attitude of the Turkish National Movement towards the Armenian Genocide. The German edition, which appeared in 1996, was around 200 pages long. The Turkish edition was 600 pages. A substantially revised American edition came out in 2006 as A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.
And when did you start noticing harassment because of your pursuit of this subject?
Very early. 1996, I think.
By way of background, I couldn't go back to Turkey before 1993. With my early 1970s activity in the student movement, and some journal articles I wrote stating that the Kurds existed in Turkey, I was punished under Article 141 of the Turkish Penal Code. This was a law forbidding you to write about the Kurds. You also couldn't mention class struggle in Turkey. I wrote about a worker's strike in Istanbul and the right of workers to establish a trade union, topics which were also forbidden under Article 141. This law, by the way, had been adapted from the penal code of Mussolini's Fascist regime in 1936.
So in 1976 I was arrested and sentenced to prison for eight years, nine months and twenty days. I escaped from prison in 1977 and fled to Germany where I received political asylum and became a German citizen. In 1991, while Turkey was applying for membership in the European Union, Paragraph 141 was rescinded and my conviction was annulled. My issue regarding the escape from prison had already lapsed under the statute of limitations. Suddenly, I could go back to Turkey. I returned in 1993 with my family, intending to establish a documentation and research center on the late Ottoman and modern Turkish history. I worked with a private university in Istanbul in 1996 to establish this institute. But within a year, the Turkish Secret Service distributed a file against me amongst the scholars at the university, and they had to terminate contact with me because it was too risky. My family and I had to leave again for Germany.
There were and are no criminal charges pending against me in Turkey. Despite this, I have been constantly targeted by Turkish media, by the nationalists, and in certain political circles. In 2004, because of the strengthening nationalist movement in Turkey, the penal code was changed to prohibit any statement that challenges the official Turkish position. This is the infamous Article 301 that exists today. Now there are many scholars and writers who espouse the official Turkish position for fear of reprisal.
Recently there was a complaint against me because I supported a friend, Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist in Istanbul and an editor of a weekly Armenian/Turkish newspaper, who was charged under this law. He was assassinated in January 2007.
Now, Article 301 doesn't include anything specifically about the Genocide. Since the charge of "insulting Turkishness" is purposefully vague, some public prosecutor had decided that Dink's use of the term "genocide" constituted an insult. He was sentenced at the end of 2005 for the crime of insulting Turkishness. In 2006 he was put on trial for using the 'g' word.
So I wrote an opinion piece saying, essentially, "Here I am, I am also using the word 'genocide', please put me on trial." There was a criminal investigation, but the prosecutor dismissed the complaint. Since 1993 I have been able to travel to Turkey without any problem.
Do you feel that if you went back, you would be prosecuted?
No. The basic problem is the rise of nationalism in Turkey. Ever since my friend's assassination, many intellectuals have been living under police protection. I too could get police protection, but my life would be in danger. In fact, Hrant Dink's assassination showed us that the part of the police were complicit in the murder. You don't know whether or not you can trust the police.
Do you want to go back?
I would love to go to Turkey. I don't plan to live there, but I do plan to go back.
What brought you to the University of Minnesota?
I came to the United States because my work in Hamburg was almost at an end. I couldn't work on the Armenian Genocide and find a teaching position. So I came here because I didn't want to change my topic. I started at the University of Michigan as a visiting scholar. Then I came to Minnesota to give a lecture -- in fact, I gave three -- and the University liked them enough to give me a contract. I have a visiting status, but I am very happy here.
So the research that you did for A Shameful Act you pulled from Ottoman documents?
Actually my original dissertation was not based on Ottoman archival materials, but rather on two different categories of evidence. There were documents from the 1919 and 1922 Istanbul trials, the indictments, verdicts and minutes from meetings. These had been published in the daily newspapers of the time as well as in the official gazette of the government. I mostly used these for my PhD. Later, some of this information came from published memoirs.
In following years, I was able to work in the Ottoman Archive in Istanbul and I received very valuable documents from this Archive. This is the government archive, like the National Archives here in the U.S. In A Shameful Act I relied on these documents. The papers from the Interior Ministry were crucial to my study. They were catalogued just recently, in the 1990s, some in early 2000. They have still been working on cataloguing the documents.
What would prompt a group that wants to hide this information to open it to the public?
International pressure. You couldn't get these archives in the 1980s, but now the U.S. and Europe were saying, essentially, "Look, you claim that nothing happened, and yet you deny access to your archives." In the 1990s, the Turkish authorities launched a campaign to say, "Here we are, we are opening our archives."
Now, I would like clarify one point: the archives were always open to the public, but the question was whether or not the material related to this period was catalogued and available to researchers. If it's not catalogued, it becomes nearly impossible to examine. Also, in the past if you asked for material regarding the Armenians, you would be interrogated. They eased the working conditions in the archives so that it became easier to get access. The working conditions are better, the cataloguing has improved, and now that there's a new governing party, it's easier to do research on this topic.
Does this political party welcome news about the Genocide?
This party is more open than previous parties.
So there are these two parties, and one is more open-minded. But then there's a rise of nationalism. Do they both share hope of joining the E.U.?
No. The people who are challenging the Turkish position on Genocide and the governing party are in favor of joining the E.U. and want more democracy, more respect for human rights. But the resurgent nationalists and the Turkish Social Democrat Party are all very clearly against the E.U. and don't want to hear anything regarding the Armenian Genocide. The position of governing party towards the Armenian Genocide is more complicated. At the dawn of their power they had a more moderate position, but over the years the pressure from nationalists has become so strong that they have, on the surface at least, changed their previous position. I can give one example: initially they were inclined to open the border with Armenia, to support an open discussion in Turkish society, etc.
Is this the group that is primarily behind the efforts to discredit you and others who look into the Armenian Genocide?
That group is not the governing party. The group who organizes the campaign against me in Turkey and here in the U.S. is a part of what we call the "Deep State," the military-bureaucratic complex. This non-elected government body is behind the campaign to discredit Genocide scholars. The nationalists and the Social Democrat Party are behind this effort. Here in the U.S. there are some groups organized and controlled mostly by Turkish diplomats. I can give three names: ATAA (Assembly of Turkish American Associations); Turkish Forum (an e-mail group, coordinated between different initiatives in different states in the U.S.) and a Web site, TallArmenianTale.com (one of the most popular Armenian Genocide denial sites).
Definitely there are Turkish diplomats who nourish these sites with information. I mean, who could have given TallArmenianTale.com the exact date of my arrest in 1974? Even I had forgotten that! It was for leafleting! And there is no record of this in any journal or newspaper. This is what that Web site claims is a terrorist act. There must be some police officer in Ankara from whom they got the information. All these groups that I mentioned (ATAA, Turkish Forum, TallArmenianTale.com, some diplomats and police officers from Turkey) are very well connected.
Let's talk about this recent problem you've been having. Recently you tried to go to Montreal for a speaking engagement and were detained. What happened?
The McGill University Faculty of Law and Concordia University had invited me to lecture on my book A Shameful Act. At the airport in Montreal I was detained for almost five hours, without any explanation. Meanwhile, my hosts contacted the Ministry of Public Safety and the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. Because of this intervention, I was issued a special one-week visa.
On my insistence that I had the right to know exactly why I had been detained, I was shown a printout of my Wikipedia biography. For the last year, that page had been persistently vandalized by anonymous "contributors" seeking to label me as a terrorist. Since then I have received apologies from Wikipedia editors, and my biography is now protected from unauthorized changes.
At any rate, on my way back from Montreal, an American immigration officer advised me not to travel internationally until I could get this information removed from my customs dossier. I still don't know the extent of the problem! My lawyer wrote to the immigration office and we couldn't get any answer.
Before going to Montreal I had applied for a Green Card, and when you do that you get an automatic travel permit and working permit, just for submitting the application. My daughter has her permit. I haven't. It hasn't been issued. Today I am still on an H1 visa, which is a special visa for scholars.
But you still can't travel internationally?
I can travel internationally, but I might not be able to return. The U.S. officers could deny reentry. They could tell me to return to my home country and wait for this to clear up. My lawyer and I are still waiting for news about my Green Card. Now we're working on getting an extension of my visa and waiting to hear about the so-called problem.
[Note: since this interview, Dr. Akçam 's status has changed and he is able to travel internationally.]
That must be frustrating.
Of course! Someone writes in Wikipedia that I'm a terrorist, and suddenly I can't travel or have some trouble in my Green Card application process. We have letters from senators, both Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, and we're hoping for acceleration on my case. Acceleration of a case that has been delayed already.
I've already canceled five international appearances, three conferences in Germany and Italy, a book tour in Britain and Holland. I canceled all of them. My book has been translated into Dutch, and I can't go there to talk about it.
As a campaign to silence you, this has been horribly effective.
Not only has it been very successful in keeping me from travel, it's been difficult to work. I have to focus on the legal problem, writing letters to institutions, meeting with senators and my lawyers. I'm occupied, stressed... this is exactly what they wanted. My publishing house in Istanbul is waiting for an article, and I haven't had time to finish it.
Once this is cleared up, what are your plans?
I'm working on some research projects. I just finished work with another leading scholar of the Armenian Genocide, Vahakn Dadrian. We are writing a two-volume book on the indictments and verdicts and minutes of the Istanbul trials. This is a very important first-hand account of the Genocide.
I'm also working on a book I call the Demographic Policy. My central argument in A Shameful Act was that the Armenian Genocide was not an isolated act against Armenians but a part of a demographic policy enacted during World War I. It had two main components. One was against the Muslim non-Turkish population, who were redistributed, relocated and resettled among the Turkish population with the aim of assimilation. The second was against the Christian population, the Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians. The goal was to get the Christians out of Anatolia, what we now know as Turkey-to forcibly move them to Greece or Iran. Or, in the case of the Armenians, to eliminate them altogether.
In 1914, Anatolia was about 25 to 30 percent Christian. After the war it was 3 to 4 percent. The aim was to reduce the Christian population to no more than 5 or 10 percent so that they would have little sway in Turkey. Based on Ottoman documents we can prove this policy existed. The genocidal intent can be shown. What I began in A Shameful Act I will conclude in this book, based only on Ottoman documents.
What would you like to see as the result of your scholarship? Do you feel that knowing about the Genocide actually helps make Turkey a stronger country?
This is an important point. The military-bureaucratic complex, the ruling elite, still believes that facing history is jeopardizing Turkey's security. They believe that there is an intertwining, a link, between facing history and national security. This is the meaning behind the basic argument behind the Turkish denial position. They argue that genocide -- which they call relocation and deportation -- was due to the security concern during the First World War. They argue that the Armenian population was a threat to Turkish security during the war.
Today, talking about the Genocide is considered a threat to national security. That is why they call us traitors. If they openly talk about the Genocide -- or what happened to the Greeks and the Kurds -- they think Turkey will be partitioned, even now. They consider the Genocide claims as a big plan against Turkey; they believe that the United States wants to partition Turkey. Within the rising tide of nationalism, they believe that the U.S. invaded Iraq in order to create a Kurdish state. If you establish this state it would take over a part of Turkey.
They believe that the U.S. wants to revive the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, which would partition Anatolia among Greeks, Kurds and Armenians.
Any part of talking about history is regarded as part of a master plan to partition Turkey. If Turkey acknowledges the Genocide, the Armenians will want a part of the provinces; if Turkey admits the wrongdoings against the Kurds, they will want a part; if Turkey acknowledges the Greek problem, the massacres, the Greeks will want a part. Facing history is a part of a master plan to break up Turkey: this is the basic argument. My argument is that we have to find a way to disentangle security concerns from facing history. These are two totally separate issues. As long as Turkey doesn't face history, that will be a security concern. Any security concept which disregards human rights, which disregards the other national groups, and considers the Kurds a threat is detrimental in itself. Turkey must change its security concept.
Playing devil's advocate, do you think there's any truth to the concept that the U.S. wants to break up Turkey?
No. The U.S. doesn't have this option. Breaking up Turkey would only bring catastrophe. There is no such interest. But if Turkey continues to deny the existence of the Kurds, continues to deny the right of its ethnic minorities, partition could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Islamic government is actually more open to acknowledging the problem, and is looking for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation. But the military is looking for a military solution, and they consider the Kurds as a treat to Turkey's existence.
So actually, you want a strong Turkish state as much as the nationalists do?
I want a democratic, free Turkey, one that is a part of the E.U., and one that is a part of the Western democratic family. There is no way to achieve this unless Turkey faces its history.
Hearing what you've said, and hearing the rhetoric of the Bush Administration and supporters of the Iraq war, it seems odd that the right wing in America has not embraced your scholarship. Bush nominated a man for Ambassador to Armenia who obfuscates the Armenian Genocide, but one would think that someone like yourself, who supports democracy in a Middle East country and who is writing of essentially Muslim atrocities against Christians would be welcomed by the Right. Why is this?
Well, the war in Iraq is another piece of paper altogether. It is a wrong war, a wrong decision. But regardless of whether it was right or wrong, if they are honest with their argument -- spreading democracy in the Middle East -- they have to support the movement in Turkey toward a free society. If they are supporting the military, who are challenging this position, then that is a contradiction. This is what is happening in the U.S. now. If the information in the press is correct, the American new-conservatives are working with Turkish Deep State against Turkey's democratization movement.
So you think that contradiction exists?
Regarding the American arguments outwardly and their practice in the region we can definitely speak of a contraction. But we should never forget that nation-states don't have moral stances; they only have interests. It is naïve to think that the U.S. interest in the Middle East is only to establish democracy. Or U.S. follows certain moral principles in the region. Just the opposite. The last best example is what happened in April 2007. On April 27 of this year there was an "electronic coup d'état" in Turkey. The Turkish military issued a press release online that threatened the ruling party with a coup. The E.U. condemned the military immediately and said they wouldn't allow that to happen. For the first two weeks Americans just watched, to see who would win. They were pragmatic. If the military won, they'd be in good position. But five hundred liberals (I was on of the co-signer) openly challenged the military; we said that the military has no right to intervene in the democratic process. The ruling party took a very powerful stance against the Military. Even Tony Blair, for example, spoke out, it was only the American state department [that] really waited for two weeks to condemn the military. This is one of the basic problems of the U.S. in the region. They have a very bad reputation regarding the democracy and so they again prove that the people in the Middle East have the right not to believe the arguments of the U.S. administration. They stay only on the paper.
Minnesota Law & Politics, December/January 2008, no. 167
Turkey: Another Ally Lost
Philip Giraldi, December 18, 2007
Over the past six years the Bush administration, aided and abetted by Congress, has trashed what used to be described as American foreign policy. Foreign policy once was shaped around the U.S. national interest, but no longer. Vulnerable key allies such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are now struggling to deal with the consequences of a U.S.-inspired rush to democracy that has advanced a flawed, ideologically driven agenda. Russia was nearly a friend and is now again an enemy. Afghanistan is a corrupt narco-state where the Taliban is making a comeback and President Hamid Karzai is referred to as the King of Kabul because his writ runs no farther. The less said about Iraq the better. But amid all of the missteps and poor policy choices, the loss of Turkey stands apart because Turkey was a close friend and loyal ally of the United States when 9/11 took place. Nearly everything has gone wrong between Washington and Ankara, with the Turkish public's favorable assessment of the U.S. plummeting from 52 percent to 8 percent. And it did not have to happen.
Turkey actively supported the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. In February 2002 Ankara provided troops for the multinational International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) sent to occupy Afghanistan, commanding ISAF twice for a total of 14 months, but the relationship began to sour in 2002 when the United States was confronted by political change in Turkey that it did not know how to handle. Already actively planning to attack Iraq, the U.S. government sent a team to Ankara on July 14, 2002, to negotiate terms for Turkey's participation in a possible military action. The team was headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, a former ambassador to Turkey. Both Grossman and Wolfowitz were also strong advocates of the Turkey-Israel military relationship, which gave Tel Aviv a powerful ally in a Muslim country and guaranteed that the U.S. Congress would look benignly on Ankara.
The Turkish government appeared to be willing to accept an agreement in exchange for a large financial aid package, but on Nov. 3, 2002, parliamentary elections in Turkey replaced incumbent Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit with Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the moderately Islamic Justice and Development Party (AK). Wolfowitz and Grossman returned to Turkey to negotiate with the new government. Erdogan was definitely interested, if only to convince his critics within the Turkish establishment and army that he was supportive of the Western alliance, but polls taken in Turkey indicated that fully 87 percent of the public opposed war against Iraq. Many recalled the 1991 Gulf War, in which Turkey had to absorb more than half a million refugees and suffered severe economic dislocation, including a currency collapse. The Turks also believed that the U.S. was seeking to guarantee the security of Israel by stopping a Muslim country from having either weapons of mass destruction or the means to deliver them. It was noted with some concern in the Turkish media that the spokesmen for the war policy were all neoconservatives closely tied to Tel Aviv, notably Wolfowitz, Grossman, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and Harold Rhode, and that the Israel lobby in Washington had promoted the plans to attack Iraq.
The Turkish General Staff, a major player in all foreign policy decisions, was also cool to the war, harboring suspicions that a U.S. intervention in Iraq would lead to the creation of an independent Kurdish state. Wolfowitz appealed to the generals directly on his second visit, bypassing the government and apparently suggesting that they might want to overrule the civilians, something dangerously close to a coup d'etat. The army expressed concern that if Turkey wound up having to carry out a long occupation of the Kurdish region due to American failure to successfully stabilize Iraq, the financial and human costs would be unacceptably high.
As has frequently been the case, Washington, blind to many of the real issues that were fueling Turkish reluctance, tried to buy cooperation. Negotiations continued up to the last minute. Eventually the Turkish leadership and the U.S. agreed on a package consisting of $6 billion in immediate aid plus $24 billion in credits, but the open horse trading did not help sell the product, as many parliamentarians objected to the idea that they could be bought. Fifty thousand peace demonstrators marched in Ankara during the acrimonious parliamentary debate in which one deputy fainted and another suffered a heart attack. The actual vote finally took place on March 1, and the resolution failed to carry by three votes.
The parliamentary rejection was soon followed by a particularly unfortunate choice for U.S. ambassador to Turkey. In July 2003 Eric S. Edelman was named to the post and quickly became confrontational about Turkey's failure to support the American agenda. The abrasive Edelman was accused of acting "more like a colonial governor than an ambassador. … [He] is probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history." A petition that received thousands of signatures was circulated demanding that he be declared persona non grata and expelled from the country.
Edelman was not helped by press coverage coming from the U.S., which was followed closely and frequently replayed in Turkey. On Feb. 16, 2005, Robert Pollock's "The Sick Man of Europe – Again" claimed that "Islamism and leftism add up to anti-American madness in Turkey." A March 23, 2005, conference on Turkey at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute featured Pollock, Richard Perle, and Michael Rubin, all of whom had been harshly criticizing Ankara's policies in the U.S. media. The Turkish press reciprocated with accounts of American atrocities in Iraq. A spectacularly best-selling novel, Metal Storm, described a United States invasion of Turkey and was reportedly much read by senior politicians and military officers, while the most popular locally made movie in Turkish history, Valley of the Wolves, showed a Jewish American Army doctor harvesting Iraqi prisoner of war organs for shipment to Tel Aviv, London, and New York.
On March 20, 2005, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld poured gasoline on the fire, blaming Turkey for the consequences of its refusal to permit an attack on Iraq from the north, saying, "Given the level of the insurgency today, two years later, clearly if we had been able to get the 4th Infantry Division in from the north … more of the … Ba'athist regime would have been captured or killed." Had Turkey cooperated, Rumsfeld added, "The insurgency today would have been less."
The U.S. also proved to be spectacularly insensitive regarding the Kurdish issue. Turkey became the most anti-American nation on earth when on July 4, 2003, American forces in Iraq briefly detained Turkish special forces soldiers pursuing escaping PKK terrorists. The U.S. troops put the Turks in the same restraints and hoods as Iraqi prisoners, creating an image that still evokes anger among Turks and which was recreated in Valley of the Wolves.
Turks believe that though the U.S. claims it is fighting terrorists worldwide, it has ignored the PKK attacks that started in 1984 and have cost of over 35,000 lives and $6 billion to $8 billion in security costs per year. The problem is very real for Turkey and something it can ill afford, but Washington is clearly not listening. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice promised Ankara on at least three occasions that she would do something about the terrorism problem but did nothing. Former Gen. Joseph Ralston was sent to the region as a special emissary on the PKK problem in September 2006 with a White House and State Department pledge of "total commitment" to find a solution. Nothing was done and Ralston quickly found that he had no support from Washington. He resigned in early October 2007.
The final blow to U.S.-Turkish relations came with the pointless Armenian genocide resolution, which sailed through the House of Representatives in early October 2007. The resolution was described by both the White House and State Department as harmful to the national interest but passed out of the Foreign Affairs Committee when seven Democrats who had previously blocked such resolutions because of their support for the Turkey-Israel relationship switched their votes to provide the margin of victory. Committee Chairman Tom Lantos of California led the switch, expressing the need for "solidarity with the Armenian people" while acknowledging that a breach with Turkey 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." Lantos reportedly was angry with the Turkish government for its rapprochement with Syria and Iran, and his vote was intended "to punish Ankara" even though he conceded that the killing of the Armenians did not amount to genocide. Given the Israeli connection to the genocide resolution, the Turks believed that insult had been added to injury when the White House dispatched Dan Fried, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, and the ever unpopular Eric Edelman in his new role as undersecretary of defense for policy to Ankara to attempt to ease Turkish anger over the congressional vote. Both were regarded as primarily advocates for Israel. The meetings also could not have been more poorly timed, as 15 Turkish soldiers had been killed by the PKK in the previous week.
AntiWar.com, December 18, 2007
Armenian Parliament Discusses Turkey Ties
December 20, 2007
The Armenian parliament started a special two-day session Wednesday on Turkish-Armenian relations, problems and possibilities. Armenian lawmakers will discuss whether parliamentary diplomacy will help settle existing disputes. An Armenian official said they dispatched invitations to more than 20 people from Turkey, including the foreign minister, but did not receive an answer.
YEREVAN – Anatolia news agency
Swiss Court Rejects Perinçek's Appeal
December 20, 2007,GENEVA – AFP
Switzerland's Federal Tribunal on Wednesday rejected a Turkish activist's appeal over his conviction for having denied that mass killings of Armenians during World War One constituted genocide.
The tribunal, which is the country's supreme court, confirmed in every respect an earlier ruling against Dog(u Perinçek, leader of a small left-wing party, the Workers' Party (I.P).
On March 7 this year, a court in Lausanne fined Perinçek 3,000 Swiss francs (1,900 euros) and handed down a suspended sentence for having "denied the Armenian genocide three times during meetings held in Switzerland in 2005, motivated by racist motives."
Pierre-Henri Winzap, the judge who heard the Lausanne case, ruled that Perinçek's comments had not been motivated by a wish to start a historical debate.
He had described the defendant as an "arrogant provocateur" with "racist and nationalist motives".
The ruling made Perinçek the first person to be convicted in Switzerland for denying the Armenian genocide, following his claim the killings were an "international lie".
Wednesday's Federal Tribunal ruling is unlikely to please the Turkish government.
A Turkish foreign ministry statement issued shortly after the original March judgment described it as unacceptable and criticized Swiss media coverage of the case as biased.
It added: "We hope this injustice will be corrected in the future stages of the legal process by the impartial and independent judges we believe exist in Switzerland."
Having exhausted all legal avenues in the Swiss courts, Perinçek can now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the Armenians, 1.5 million of their kinsmen were killed from 1915 to 1917 under an Ottoman Empire campaign of deportation and murder. Rejecting the genocide label, Turkey argues 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 the war.
A number of countries and official bodies, notably the European Parliament, France, Canada and now a US House of Representatives committee, have labeled the killings a genocide.
Switzerland's lower parliamentary chamber recognized the killings as genocide towards the end of 2003.
Perinçek loses final appeal against ‘genocide conviction’
Switzerland's highest court confirmed the sentence against a Turkish politician convicted under anti-racism legislation for denying that early 20th century killings of Anatolian Armenians was "genocide," according to a ruling published by the court on Wednesday.
Dogu Perinçek, the leader of the neo-nationalist Turkish Workers' Party (IP), lost his final appeal against the conviction by a lower tribunal in March and was fined 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,450). The IP leader, who was also given a suspended penalty of 9,000 francs ($7,360) and ordered to pay 1,000 francs ($820) to an Armenian association, had called the alleged genocide of Armenians in 1915 an "international lie" during Turkish rallies in Lausanne two years ago.
The March ruling by the Lausanne court made Perinçek the first person sentenced under Switzerland's anti-racism law for denying the alleged genocide. The case has caused diplomatic tension between Switzerland and Turkey, with Ankara calling the case against Perinçek "inappropriate, baseless and debatable in every circumstance."
The Federal Tribunal said in its ruling on Wednesday that many historians, the European Parliament and numerous national parliaments considered the killings as genocide. In literature, the slaughter is mentioned as a classic example of genocide, the tribunal said.
The case was seen as a test of whether Switzerland's anti-racism law can be invoked against someone who denies that the Turks committed genocide in the killings. The legislation has previously been applied to Holocaust denial.
Ankara has recognized Armenia since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991, but nevertheless refuses to establish diplomatic ties because of Armenian efforts to secure international condemnation of the controversial World War I era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide. Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife which emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with the Russian troops who were invading Ottoman lands.
In 1993 Turkey also shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally, Azerbaijan, which was at war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished nation. Ankara wants Armenia to abandon its campaign for recognition of the killings as genocide and make progress in its dispute with Baku before formal diplomatic relations are re-established. The Turkish government has proposed formation of a joint group of historians from Turkey and Armenia to study the matter, but Yerevan has thus far declined to take up the offer.
20.12.2007,Today's Zaman with AP Ankara
US Democrat Schiff ‘Surprised’ By Turkish Side Of Armenian Story
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, uneasy with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) acting as if it is the representative of all Kurdish people living in Turkey, asked his deputies of Kurdish origin to initiate diplomatic action -- he has now begun to harvest the first fruit these efforts.
At Erdogan's request, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Ankara deputy Burhan Kayatürk and Mardin deputy Cüneyt Yüksel, went to the US to meet with Democrat Congressman Adam Schiff, the architect of the "Armenian genocide bill" accepted by the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Listening to the stories of Kayatürk's own family, Schiff was surprised by the Turkish side of the story concerning the Armenian issue.
Kayatürk, who has Kurdish orgins, and a Turkish delegation went to the US as invited guests of the US Youth Council (USYC). A meeting with Schiff provided Kayatürk with the chance to speak about experiences from his own life. The deputy told Today's Zaman about his experience, explaining first his own story, as told to Schiff.
"The name of my father's grandfather was Yusuf. Despite their good relations with the Armenians, the latter killed my grandfather, and I'm sure that my grandfather's relatives also killed some Armenians in return. The Armenians and the Muslims had good relations at the time, however, due to the promises the Russians made, the Armenians began doing wrong to their neighbors. As a result some atrocious events occurred between both sides. Moreover, tens of thousands of people from both sides died because of these wrongs. Then the forced Armenian emigration -- in addition to the illnesses, the clashes and traumatic events occurred along the route -- caused people to die. However, the Ottomans never killed the Armenians based on an intentional scheme. This cannot even be a matter of discussion."
When faced with the alleged claims of Armenian genocide, Turkey has opened the state archives for historians, Kayatürk said, and underlined: "We are ready; both Armenian and Turkish scholars are welcome to make research. Your [US] attempt harms Turkish-American and Turkish-Armenian relations."
He also asserted that 40,000 to 60,000 Armenians work illegally in Turkey. "Most of them nurse our children. If we were hostile, could we entrust our children to them?" In response Schiff reportedly emphasized that he was surprised with what he heard, adding: "I've never heard these [stories] before, and quite frankly I'm touched by them. For the first time, I'm hearing something different."
Kayatürk asserted that the Zeve cemetery was full of numerous graves belonging to Turks and Kurds whom the Armenians massacred in Van. He invited Schiff to Van to see for himself how many Turks were killed by the Armenians during those times of upheaval and confusion. Schiff said he was planning a visit to both Armenia and Turkey and that he could visit Van during his trip.
Meeting with Matt Bryza, US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Asian affairs, Kayatürk explained that he is of Kurdish origin, underlining that the Kurdish issue has nothing to do with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Kayatürk also emphasized: "The AK Party represent the Kurdish people in the best way. As the votes that AK Party received in southeastern province of Hakkari increased by 430 percent, it proves the fairness of the policies the party follows. The average number of supporters in the eastern and southeastern regions rose by 51 percent." He stressed, "The sooner the PKK problem in northern Iraq is eliminated, the better for both Turkey and the US."
20.12.2007,Ercan Yavuz Ankara
Turkey Cooperates With Armenia In Framework Of Nato Programs
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey cooperates with Armenia in the framework of Partnership for Peace NATO program, chairman of the RA NA permanent committee on defense, national security and internal affairs Artur Aghabekian said during today’s parliamentary hearings.
“NATO delegations to Armenia always included Turkish officers. Turkey took part in Best Efforts 2003 exercise presided by a Turkish general. Armenia always receives invitations for NATO events Turkey hosts,” he said. “The Armenian general staff chief paid a visit to Turkey by invitation of his Turkish counterpart.”
“During Best Effort 2002 in Georgia the Armenian unit was recognized the best and the Turkish command sent a letter of thanks for the highest standard of training of the Armenian servicemen. Moreover, Turkey has never exercised the right of veto on holding events in Armenia,” he said, Novosti Armenia reports.
Damage To Armenians During Genocide Years Totals Over $41 Billion
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ According to formal archives, the damage Turkey caused to Armenians during the years of Genocide (1914-1919) makes $41.5 billion, former Armenian Ambassador to Canada Ara Papian said during parliamentary hearings today.
He reminded that the Paris peaceful conference, which pursued the purpose to negotiate the peace treaties between the Allied and Associated Powers and the defeated Central Powers and define the damage caused by the war, concluded its work in January 1919.
A working group, which was formed to calculate the damage caused to the nations not immediately involved in the World War I, reported that the damage to the Armenian people 1914-1919 made over 19.130 billion franks (over $41 billion).
“At that the damage done during 1920-1923 is not counted, thus the figure should increase with at least 20%,” Ara Papian said, IA Regnum reports.
Sargsyan: We Should Establish Relations With Turkey Without Preconditions
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian parliamentary hearings on the Armenian-Turkish relations are extremely important, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby said at a meeting with RA Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan.
“The European Union, as Armenia and Turkey’s partner organization, is ready to countenance such discussions and serve as a bridge,” he said. “We should encourage those people who work for improvement of the Armenian-Turkish relations.”
For his part, PM Sargsyan noted that it would be advisable to engage Turks in these discussions. “We hope the EU will encourage Turkey’s participation in the process which provides a possibility to express opinions. I am confident that we should establish relations without preconditions. Both countries will benefit,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted the importance of Turkey’s membership in the EU and said it would help to improve the Armenian-Turkish relations.
Two Kinds Of Terrorism By Christopher Vasillopulos*
At the International Conference on Terrorism and Democracy held in Istanbul earlier this year, many Turkish officials made statements to the effect that: “All terrorists are the same. All terrorist acts are criminal and unjustifiable.”
Although it is easy to sympathize with simple and direct definitions of terrorism, such definitions cannot capture the diverse variety of terrorist acts. It is easy also to sympathize with officials who have to deal with the terrorist threat on a daily basis. Their overly simple definitions, however, cannot replace the more sophisticated and more complex definitions of terrorism that scholars find necessary. There are many kinds of terrorism, almost as many as there are terrorists. In general, a terrorist attacks a soft or weakly defended target, usually civilian. In general the purpose of terrorism is to weaken the belief that the government can protect its citizens unless it deals with the political demands of the group the terrorist represents. Thus, although terrorism usually involves violent criminal behavior, terrorism can only rarely be considered merely criminal. The terrorist usually intends to make a political statement that cannot be ignored or reduced to its criminal nature. Thus terrorism can only be understood by assessing many factors that reach beyond criminal law. These include the political, social and historical situation of the terrorist as well as his motivations. Placing terrorist acts in this complex context is not done to condone criminal activities. Criminal activities cannot be tolerated, whether done by terrorists or ordinary criminals. Terrorists should be punished and should expect to be punished for their acts. Their punishment is part of the sacrifice terrorists are willing to endure to make a political statement.
Understood in this way, it is clear why policies that treat all terrorist acts as if they were merely criminal cannot succeed. Unlike the ordinary criminal, the terrorist does not wish to evade responsibility for his or her actions. They want their actions to be understood as a protest against injustice and oppression. Terrorists are proud of their actions and their sacrifices. At best the police can deal with the symptoms of terrorism, by apprehending and punishing terrorists as if they were ordinary criminals. To deter or prevent terrorism, governments must deal with the reasons why people become terrorists. Counterterrorism, if it is to be more than a slogan, must involve an understanding of why a person is willing to participate in criminal activities without the normal rewards of criminal activity. The profit of terrorism is political, not material. Thus, the combat against terrorism must be equally political. While the police must take part in counterterrorism, they cannot be expected to deal with its political aspects.
Let me illustrate these points by analyzing two terrorist organizations: Hamas and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK is an organization that strives for a Kurdish state, normally conceived as including the Kurds of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. It makes the nationalist claim that only when the Kurdish people, conceived as a nation, have their own state can Kurds survive as a people. The assumption is that all other states wish to destroy or eliminate the Kurds as a culture and a people. One people, one state. No state, no people. There are two difficulties with justifying PKK terrorism according to this claim. First, there are millions of Kurds who are Turkish citizens and who do not believe they must have their own state to remain Kurdish. This does not mean they have been entirely happy with Turkish policies dealing with Kurds. They are pressing and have pressed for a more enlightened and liberal policy dealing with Kurdish issues. They have pursued these objectives as Turkish citizens, under a constitution that makes no ethnic distinctions. Second, a Kurdish political entity exists in northern Iraq. It amounts to a de facto Kurdish state. Those Turkish Kurds who believe they must have their own state can find a home there.
The PKK also claims that Kurds can have no effective voice as Turkish citizens. This claim seems false. There are no legal or constitutional provisions to make it more difficult for Turkish Kurds to engage in political activity than for Turkish citizens in general. The Kurdish voice is heard in parliament. There is a party that has made Kurdish projects the center of its platform. It is difficult to see how 12 million Kurds can be ignored so long as Turkish democracy remains intact. PKK claims must be evaluated in the context of the Turkish constitution, the vibrant Turkish democracy and the prevalence of liberalizing governmental policies toward all minorities in Turkey. In this political reality it is difficult to see PKK terrorism as anything more than a criminal conspiracy aimed at harming the Turkish state and the peace and security of all Turkish citizens, including Turkish Kurds. Any aid the PKK receives from the de facto Kurdish state, Israel or the US must be seen as part of this criminal conspiracy.
Now let us consider Hamas and the Palestinian revolt against Israel. The most striking difference between the situation of the Palestinians and the Kurds concerns their relation to Israel and Turkey respectively. Since 1948 Israel has engaged in state terrorism against the Palestinians. I am not speaking of the unjust imposition of Israel on Palestine by the UN in 1948. I am referring to the systematic expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from Israel with the intention of creating a Jewish majority. I am speaking of the intolerable conditions of the refugee camps, which have, in effect, expelled Palestinians from the Palestinian portion of the UN mandate. This process of expulsion or elimination has continued for almost 60 years, leaving 5 million Palestinians on about 10 percent of Palestine and about 2 million Palestinian exiles in other countries. This pitiful territory is honeycombed with illegal settlements populated by militant Israeli settlers and cobwebbed by Israeli military roads. The UN-promised Palestinian state on 45 percent of Palestine is no longer discussed, not even by Palestinians, who seem willing to create a state on about 20 percent of Palestine. Routinely, Israel conducts raids on Palestinian towns and villages, killing women and children, in their heavy-handed search for terrorists. Israel routinely cuts off electricity and water in areas inhabited by Palestinians.
No one can credibly claim that Turkey has engaged in similar policies against the Kurds. Although isolated Kurdish villages have been transferred, this is nothing like the 500 Palestinian villages destroyed as a result of Israeli counterterrorist activities. Secondly, no one has claimed that a majority of Palestinians wish to be Israeli citizens. No one can believe that the Israeli law does not discriminate against all non-Jews in favor of Jews. Israel proudly proclaims itself a Jewish state, conceived as the property of all Jews. As such, Israel can never have a constitution based on the equal status of all its citizens. Turkey proclaims itself a secular, constitutional democracy that belongs to the citizens of Turkey. There has been no Turkish policy to expel Turkish Kurds. There are no refugee camps or occupied territories filled with millions of Kurds living under Turkish martial law.
I believe these profound differences between the situation of Turkish Kurds and the Palestinians imply that Palestinian terrorism must be seen differently from PKK terrorism. It seems to me that Palestinian terrorists can make a credible claim that, so long as Israel pushes Palestinians into ever smaller corners of its land under ever more oppressive conditions, terrorist acts are legitimate forms of resistance and proper expressions of Palestinian nationalism. Moreover, unlike the PKK, Hamas can claim that it is protesting in favor of UN resolutions that have condemned Israel and which mandate a two-state solution, which is now official US policy as well. Unlike the Kurdish situation, there is a worldwide consensus, including Israel, that the Palestinians are entitled to their own state. Much of the electoral support for Hamas can only be understood by its support of this consensus and the ineffectiveness of its rivals in moving forward with this solution. Until Israel deals seriously with requests for it to dismantle its illegal settlements, stop interfering with fledgling Palestinian sovereignty, deal with east Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return and to arrange borders along pre-1967 lines, Palestinian terrorism will be seen by many Palestinians and their sympathizers as a tragic but indispensable response to Israeli state terrorism. Until Israel and the US are willing to act on the legitimate claims of the vast majority of Palestinians, they will be compelled to listen to the detonations of the few Palestinians who are willing to sacrifice their lives, to kill and be killed, to make their voices heard.
It remains a human tragedy when teenage Palestinians believe that the best service they can perform for their country is to become suicide bombers or otherwise engage in terrorism. To confuse these activities with a well-armed PKK terrorist is to proclaim that Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish citizens is the same as Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. To conflate Turkey’s attempts to deal with the PKK with Israeli state terrorism is to succumb to Zionist propaganda. Terrorism always creates human tragedy. Not to distinguish between the various kinds of terrorism compounds the tragedy, making it all but impossible to combat the causes of terrorism.
* Christopher Vasillopulos is a professor of international relations at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Discussion Of Armenian-Turkish Relations By European Structures Important For Armenia
YEREVAN, December 19. /ARKA/. Armenia attaches importance to the discussion of Armenian-Turkish relations by the European structures, Speaker of the RA Parliament Tigran Torosyan stated at his meeting with EU Special Representative in the South Caucasus Peter Semneby, who is in Yerevan to take part in the parliamentary hearings on Armenian-Turkish relations.
“Armenia attaches importance to the discussion of the problem at European structures in the context of European values and European integration, as, with specific principles being set, neither side can accuse European structures of being biased,” Torosyan said. According to him, the principles must be clearly set and accepted by the sides through statements.
Moreover, they must be applied in practice.
“The road travelled by the European Union is evidence that tolerance and dialogue is the basis for resolving disagreements. Armenia’s position is in harmony with the principles. Armenia is aware of the problems that have to be put aside for some time and of the necessity for cooperation in other matters and, through the creation of an atmosphere of mutual confidence and understanding, contributing to the resolution of the problems,” Torosyan said.
He pointed out that Turkey is setting preconditions, which specifically concern the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Armenian Diaspora thereby considering it possible to establish cooperation only after the issues have been settled.
“It is natural that the preconditions should be unacceptable for Armenia, as Turkey is raising issues related to a third state, Azerbaijan, in the context of Armenian-Turkish relations. Besides, Ankara is unable to resolve its psychological problems related to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and continues Armenia’s blockade,” Torosyan said. He stressed that these steps do not by any means fit the European system of values.
The RA Parliament has held hearings on problems and prospects of Armenian-Turkish relations.
The hearings were attended by representatives of a number of Armenian and international organizations, political parties, as well as by Peter Semneby. A Turkish representative declined the Armenian Parliament’s invitation. P.T.
Eu Interested In Development Of Armenian-Turkish Relations
YEREVAN, December 19. /ARKA/. The European Union (EU) is interested in the development of Armenian0-Turkish relations, EU Special Representative in the South Caucasus Peter Semneby stated at his meeting with Speaker of the RA Parliament Tigran Torosyan.
The public relations department, RA Parliament, reports that Semneby confirmed the EU’s concern over regional problems and interest in the improvement of the Armenian-Turkish relations.
According to him, the EU wishes to see more predictable relations and believes that European integration affords ample opportunities for this.
Speaker Torosyan expressed satisfaction with Semneby’s visit to Yerevan to take part in the parliamentary hearings and pointed out that this is evidence of the EU’s attention to regional problems.
The RA Parliament has held hearings on problems and prospects of Armenian-Turkish relations.
The hearings were attended by representatives of a number of Armenian and international organizations, political parties, as well as by Peter Semneby. A Turkish representative declined the Armenian Parliament’s invitation.
Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations. In 1993, the Armenian-Turkish border was closed on official Ankara’s initiative.
Turkey sets three preconditions for the establishment of bilateral relations: settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in Azerbaijan’s favour, Armenia’s recognition of Turkey’s borders and abrogation of its policy of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. P.T.
Obstacles In The Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Essential, But Not Insurmountable
Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ambassador Ozden Sanberk said in an exclusive interview with Mediamax that the obstacles in the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations are "essential, but none of those must be considered insurmountable."
1985-1987 Ambassador Ozden Sanberk was the Adviser to Turkish Prime Minister on Foreign Political Issues. 1987-1991 he was the Ambassador of Turkey to the European Union. 1991-1995 he worked as Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey. 1995-2000 Ozden Sanberk served as Turkish Ambassador to Great Britain. Until 2003 he headed the Turkish TESEV Research Institute.
Ambassador Ozden Sanberk has been a member of the "Armenian-Turkish reconciliation commission."
"First, there is a dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If we find its solution, everything will go much easier. Second, there are issues connected with territorial claims, historic campaigns, international prejudices toward Turkey and incandescence of hatred. Third, there is the question of psychological preparedness. We need an ice-breaker. What we need must be of public and symbolic nature. Do you remember the table tennis tournament between Americans and Chinese before the two countries reconciled? If we manage to hold the qualifiers between the football teams of Armenia and Turkey in the framework of the World Cup, it may become a similar step. However, we must confess that football is a passionate sport, so that this occasion may not be that proper. But I think that sooner or later we will find something proper," the retired Turkish diplomat said.
Why doesn't Yerevan's suggestion to establish diplomatic relations without any preconditions satisfy Ankara? Ozden Sanberk said: "It's senseless to build a house that will be destroyed from the first blow of wind. Diplomatic relations must be based on clear comprehension and compromise, at least on most important issues."
Turkish Scholars Didn’t Arrive In Yerevan Over Religious Holiday?
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ There is no political motive for Turkey’s refusal to participate in parliamentary hearings in Armenia, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby said in Yerevan.
“The date of the hearings coincided with one of the Islamic religious holidays. Religion plays an important role in Turkey’s decision not reject Yerevan’s invitation,” he said. “I am hopeful that hearings of the kind will be continued, since they provide the possibility to speak of disputable issues. The public of the two states should be prepared for a normal dialogue and the EU will contribute to the process.”
Oskanian: It’s Impossible To Subject Armenia To Greater Isolation
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Implementation of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-Baku can’t bring to Armenia’s greater isolation, as Azerbaijan and Turkey suppose, RA Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said during The Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Prospects extended parliamentary hearings.
“Armenia’s international isolation started with closure of the Armenian-Turkish border. The railroad can’t cause a greater isolation,” he said.
The project has aroused negative reaction of the EU and U.S., which firmly oppose any projects bypassing Armenia. The railroad is supposed to link Turley, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The cost promises to reach $1 billion.
Closed Turkish-Armenian Border Anomaly
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations is vital for the entire region. Closed border is an anomaly, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Peter Semneby said during The Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Prospects extended parliamentary hearings. Armenia and Turkey should come to agreement in the name of future, according to him.
“The EU is ready to contribute to the process but we think the sides should meet half-way. Common history should be forgotten. Of course, it’s a long process that should be carried out step by step. Armenia and Turkey practice different views on the events of 1915. But Armenia stands for normalization of relations without preconditions while Turkey holds an opposite view. That is why both should search for compromise,” Mr Semneby said.
He welcomed RA Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s statement regarding Turkey’s accession to the EU. “Such statements create a good basis for Turkish forces interested in normalization of relations. Formation of a joint commission of historians for investigation the fact of genocide is an interesting proposal. However, validity of article 301 hampers any dialogue,” he said adding that Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan promised to review the article.
Oskanian: Turkey’s Preconditions Mean Nothing From Standpoint Of International Law
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ “The Armenian-Turkish relations represent a very complicated issue burdened by the past. But however difficult they are, a solution is needed. And the only way to resolve problems is to normalize relations,” Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said during The Armenian-Turkish Relations: Problems and Prospects extended parliamentary hearings.
“Turkey wants fulfillment of its preconditions first and only then establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border. But it’s not right. The international community rates opening of the border as the primary condition. Show me a European state which kept borders closed because of problems with neighbors,” the Minister said.
He reminded of Turkey’s three preconditions: 1. resolution of the Karabakh problem in favor of Azerbaijan; 2. recognition of present day Turkey’s borders; 3. renunciation of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“Neither of the preconditions is admissible for Armenia. The Armenian-Turkish relations can be divided in three stages: from 1991 to 1993, when Turkey recognized Armenia’s independence without establishing diplomatic relations; from 1993 to 1998, when Turkey used the Karabakh factor (recognition of the Genocide was not on the RA agenda at that time) and from 1988 up to the present day… Nevertheless, from these preconditions mean nothing the standpoint of international law,” he said.
Hakan Tekin: Turkey Not Scared Of Its History
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ American lawmakers should not vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution, H.Res.106, since it can hamper the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, said Hakan Tekin, Turkey’s Consul General in Los Angeles.
“It’s not correct to describe killings of Armenians during World War I as Genocide,” he said. “The 27-21 Committee vote resulted in tensions in the Turkey-U.S. relations. Turkey briefly pulled its U.S. ambassador, Nabi Sensoy, back to Ankara after the vote.”
According to him, Turkey is not afraid to withstand history. Tekin reminded that Turkish Premier Erdogan proposed RA President Robert Kocharian to form a joint committee of historians to investigate the issue. "We are not scared of our history, and we are not trying to hide anything," Tekin said.
“The Congress shouldn’t pass the legislation, since it will become a tool of pressure in the hands of the Armenian community, which can influence on the U.S. political field,” the Consul General said, columnist Hakop Martirossian writes.
Congress To Reduce Foreign Aid To Armenia To $58.5 Mln
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Negotiators representing the U.S. House and Senate appear to have agreed upon Fiscal Year 2008 assistance figures for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, both at levels less than last year, as part of a far-reaching agreement on foreign aid and other appropriations measures that is set to be adopted soon by both houses of Congress, reported the Armenian National Committee of
The agreement includes $58.5 million in assistance to Armenia and $3 million in direct aid to Nagorno Karabakh. It also reverses the Administration’s latest bid to retreat from its 2001 pledge to maintain in military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
"We are troubled by the reductions in aid to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, particularly in light of the ongoing economic costs of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, as well as Baku’s increasingly violent rhetoric about restarting its war against the Armenians," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We thank all of our friends in the appropriations process who, working against significant competing budgetary pressures."
In addition to the Armenia and Karabakh allocations, the omnibus aid bill also includes $50.5 million for Georgia and $19 million for Azerbaijan. Millennium Challenge Account funding is set for $1.5 billion, half of President Bush’s request.
Georgia is supposed to receive $50.5 million; Azerbaijan will be allocated $19 million.