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28 February 2008

2361) Media Scanner 28 Feb 2008 (125 Items)

  1. Khojaly Genocide Forever Remembered By Elkhan Nuriyev*
  2. Gul's Congratulation Generates Discontent Of Historians
  3. Turkey May Enter Karabakh
  4. War Against PKK In Karabakh...The USA, Turkey And We?!by Elsad Mammadli
  5. Harut Sassounian Extends Congratulations
  6. Erdogan's Counter Offensive Against Armenian Genocide Claims
  7. ANCA / Sony ‘Screamers’ Dvd Launch Sets Stage For Expanded Genocide Education Effort
  8. Embassy Row -'Genocide' Politics
  9. `Armenia's New President is a Murderer'
  10. Turkish Web Site Calls For Annihilation Of Armenians
  11. US Seemingly Approves Ground Operation
  12. [News Analysis] Ground Operation Comes Earlier Than Planned
  13. The Greatest Turkish Story Ever Sold
  14. Becoming One With Research: An Adopted Yuruk Daughter By Vercihan Ziflioglu
  15. Turkish Military Tribunals : A New Book From Zoryan by Jean Eckian
  16. Journalists Beaten, Prevented From Taking Photographs In Violence At Polling Stations
  17. Against The Grain: The Armenian Genocide - Why Britain Is At Fault By Chris Green
  18. Donald Bloxham's Latest Book, 'The Great Game Of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism And The Destruction Of The Ottoman Armenians'
  19. Armenia's Population 3,229,900 On Jan 1, 2008
  20. Disobedient Armenian Diplomats Tendered Resignations To Support Levon Ter-Petrosyan
  21. Turkey And Armenia: A $12 Billion History Lesson
  22. Armenian Brutality That Targeted All Of Humanity By Zakir Hasimov*
  23. The Fog Of War by Andrew Finkel
  24. Was The Ottoman Empire A Colonizer?
  25. Totah Confusion By Garen Yegparian
  26. PKK Criminal Networks and Fronts in Europe
  27. It’s The Diaspora, Stupid, By Khatchig Mouradian
  28. Deep Roots: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Eastern United States
  29. Human Rights Watch: Armenia: Violence At Polling Stations Mars Elections Assailants Target Opposition Activists, Observers And Journalists
  30. Obama Will Be Good For The Turks -- And The World
  31. Questions Of No Importance by Burak BEKDIL
  32. Turkey Wishes Normal Ties With Armenia
  33. Armenian Prime Minister Sarkisian Wins Presidency
  34. As Result Of Re-Count In 34 Polling Stations, Sargsyan Lost 337 Votes
  35. “My Mother Tongue” : Greek, Armenian and Ladino
  36. Babacan: Turkey Stands For “Return Of Karabakh To Azerbaijan”
  37. Thousands Challenge Armenian Pm's Presidential Poll Win
  38. Gül Congratulates Sarksyan, Calls For ‘Normalization’ Of Ties
  39. Foundations Law Pleases Neither Nationalists Nor Minorities
  40. Threatened Lawyer Denied Protection
  41. Sarksyan Torn Between Realities And Maintaining The Status Quo
  42. Armenian Pm Wins Presidency, Opposition Protests
  43. And Here Are Bianet’s Questions For Prime Minister Erdogan…
  44. On Election Day, Turkey Outweighs Politics In Border Village Yigal Schleifer
  45. A Painful Cry Of An Eternal Love Vercihan Ziflioglu,
  46. Independent Kosovo Good And Bad For Turkey
  47. Cihangir: Nouveau-Rich Bohemian Downtown Neighborhood Vercihan Ziflioglu
  48. A Slice Of Home For Armenian ExilesBy Kieran Cooke
  49. U.S. Turks Aim To Change ImageBy Svitlana Korenovska
  50. Kocharyan’s Heir Seeks Top Job In Armenia Vote
  51. Presidential Elections In Armenia: Might It Be The Start Of A New Period? By Hatem Cabbarli*
  52. Armenians Go To The Polls Vercihan Ziflioglu
  53. Who Finished The ASALA Off: Thanks to Nuri Gündes by Mehmet Ali Birand
  54. Washington, Baku Concerned About PKK Cells In Caucasus
  55. Armenian FM: "I Support Discussion Of The Problem Of Garabagh And "Genocide" At A Conference In Munich"
  56. AI Fears for Life of Malatya Murder Case Lawyer Amnesty International
  57. Raffi Hovannisian Panders to Turkey At the Cost of Political Bankruptcy By Appo Jabarian*
  58. An Interview With Former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans
  59. Prime Minister Of Turkey Avoids Answering Questions On Regulation Of Armenian-Turkish RelationsNoyan Tapan
  60. Minister Oskanian Participates In The 44th Munich Security Conferencearmradio.am
  61. You Are The Ones Perpetrating Genocide; Get Out Of Karabakh
  62. WAC Prioritizes Collection Of Materials On Karabakh And Genocide
  63. Today.Az Armenian Foreign Minister: "I Support Discussion Of The Problem Of Garabagh And "Genocide" At A Conference In Munich"
  64. Gates Denounces Armenian Genocide Resolution
  65. Florence Avakian Discusses The Armenian Genocide On Al Jazeera Televisionunited Nations, NY
  66. Turkey In 2008 Through The Eyes Of A Foreigner
  67. Not A Language Of Struggle, But Of Peace!
  68. The 'Deep State' Is Smiling At Me In The Malatya Massacre Case - I - IV -
  69. Late Congressman Lantos Had Stormy Relationship With Turkey
  70. Zealous French Mayor Accuses Turkish Consulate Of Provocation
  71. Deep State Coup Averted in Turkey by Christopher Deliso
  72. Historian tells UF: Armenians didn't die from genocide during WWI By Katherine Siegel
  73. Ararat, 'Ark' Beckon TouristsH. Tzanis
  74. Georgia Doesn't Recognize Armenian Genocide Because Of Dependence On Turkey And Azerbaijan
  75. Pomegranate: A Fruit With A 5000-Year History
  76. Ani Fades Away in the No Man's Land between Turkey and Armenia by Albena Shkodrova
  77. White House Slashes Aid To Armenia; Breaks Military ParityANCA
  78. Jacobin Culture
  79. Sorry Under Pressure Isn't Sorry At All
  80. ‘The Travels’ by Marco Polo
  81. The Country Needs ‘truth Commission’ To Combat Gangs
  82. Help Is Needed From Armenians Traveling To Armenia
  83. Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey planning Black Sea Ring Highway
  84. Ergenekon: The Abyss Of Nationalism
  85. The Special Relationship Of Israel And The Us: Myths And Realities By Christopher Vasillopulos*
  86. U.S. Administration Proposes $24 Million Aid For Armenia In FY 2008
  87. Three Traditional Armenian Parties Issue Joint Statement
  88. Turkey Takes Action Against The Shadowy Far Right
  89. Cemal Usak: Ordinary Turkish Citizens Indifferent About Absence Of Relations With Armenia
  90. Turkey Plans To Combat Armenian Genocide Issue At The Hague By John C. K. Daly
  91. Turkey Set To Return Minorities' Properties
  92. Dink Trial Still Missing Main Protagonists...
  93. Turkey Must Defeat Ergenekon By Joost Lagendijk*
  94. Hillary, Obama And Mccain: Us Presidential Primaries From A Turkish Perspective
  95. Bad News For Erdogan?
  96. United States Recognises Sioux Independence
  97. "Euro-Turks: The Presence Of Turks In Europe And Their Future"
  98. Turkey Opposes Gdf In Nabucco, Official Says
  99. LA Lawyer Battles Giants For Armenian 'Genocide' Heirsby Haro Chakmakjian
  100. Turk Complains Of Discrimination
  101. Armenia's Elections: The Azeri PerspectiveC. Cem OGUZ
  102. McCain Refuses To Pledge Recognition Of 'Armenian Genocide'
  103. Armenian Imposition On Canada
  104. Elekdag: ICJ Involvement Will Deal A Blow To Armenian Thesis
  105. Republican Candidates Likely To Disappoint Us Armenians
  106. US Congresswoman Reiterates Bush's Opposition To Armenian Bill
  107. From Karamanlis To Ergenekon by Etyen Mahcupyan
  108. Obama Armenians’ Favorite In Democrat Presidential Race
  109. Parliament Moves To Probe Deep-State Gangs by Cevdet Selvi
  110. Prosecutor Suspected Ergenekon Links From Start
  111. Gladio, Turkish Counter-Guerilla And Ergenekon, A Devilish Trio
  112. Senior Fellow Sees No Us Policy Change Over Alleged Genocide
  113. Turkey Had To Send 100,000 Troops To Iraq Border To Get Us Attention-Party Chief
  114. Bandit State Is A Mild Description Lragir
  115. Mafia Game In The Armenian Way Naira Hayrumyan Lragir
  116. Freedom Of Speech Is Limited In Armenia Lragir
  117. Experts Discuss Why Turks Unable To Eliminate Gangs?
  118. Fikri Saglar: It’s Us Or The Gangs
  119. Militanz: Beats Arise From The Underground In The Çinçin Slums
  120. There Are Always Gangs In This Country, Only Their Structures Change
  121. How We Lost Turkey And How We May Recuperate It?Cengiz AKTAR
  122. Adam Schiff: Armenian Genocide Denial Imperils Turkey’s Future
  123. ASALA victim Güngör buried in Ankara
  124. Is A Long Overdue Controversy Finally Settled: Aram Andonian's Infamous Naim Bey's Real Identity Is Now Considered Revealed By Prof. Garabet K Moumdjian & REVELATIONS OF HILMAR KAISER
  125. Investigating Gangs Easier With New Penal Code, Says Professor


Khojaly Genocide Forever Remembered By Elkhan Nuriyev*

A man looks at photographs at an Adana exhibit featuring photos from the Khojali massacre, which took place on Feb. 25-26, 1992 and in which 613 Azerbaijanis were killed.

Every year in late February the Azerbaijani nation commemorates the bloody tragedy known as the Khojaly genocide.

An unprecedented massacre of hundreds of defenseless inhabitants of the small town of Khojaly in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan became one of the most heinous crimes against the Azerbaijani people. On the night of Feb. 25, 1992, the Armenian armed forces with the help of Russian troops carried out the seizure of Khojaly and razed the town to the ground. Following the occupation of Khojaly, a total of 613 innocent Azerbaijanis, including 106 women and 83 children, were massacred by Armenian and Russian forces, which also annihilated whole families, captured 1,275 people, left 1,000 civilians maimed or crippled, with another 150 reported missing. The 366th Russian motorized infantry regiment was accused of being involved in the Khojaly massacre. Even though Russian officials denied the accusation, Russia's then ambassador to Turkey stated that soldiers who deserted might have taken part in some incidents.

Unsurprisingly, the tragedy in Khojaly strongly affected regional geopolitics. Regional powers such as Turkey, Iran and Russia expressed grave concern about further destabilization of the region. Moreover, in all three countries, Azerbaijani diasporas organized massive protests in which demonstrators demanded that their relevant governments intervene to stop bloodshed in the conflict-torn area. Each of the regional powers took steps in a different way. Turkey closed its borders and only imposed an economic blockade on Armenia after the wider public in the country severely criticized the government's policy. Iran undertook diplomatic measures in order to act as a mediator between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. In turn, Russia hurriedly dissolved the 366th regiment and withdrew some Russian military hardware from Nagorno-Karabakh. Most of the regiment's weaponry and equipment, however, were left to the local separatists in the conflict-ridden area.

In point of fact, the tragic event in Khojaly had sparked the exodus of Azerbaijanis from their historic lands. More than 15 years have passed and the world community is still oblivious to the suffering caused by the Armenian aggression against the Azerbaijani people. As a result of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories occupied by Armenian troops, some 1 million people have been expelled from their homes and are forced to live in tent camps and railway wagons. Although Armenian officials have repeatedly denied their blame for the crimes committed against the population of Khojaly, the responsibility of the Armenian government is documented by numerous independent sources and eyewitnesses of this bloody tragedy. In response to misrepresentation by the Armenian side, the facts indicated by internationally renowned authors such as Thomas Goltz, Thomas de Waal, Holly Cartner and others confirm that the mass extermination of the Khojaly town civilians, including women, elderly and children, was ordered only because they were Azerbaijanis. In other words, the Khojaly town was chosen as a stage for further occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani territories, thus striking terror in the hearts of blameless people and creating fear before the horrifying massacre.

Indeed, the Khojaly massacre was a pivotal event that turned the international media's attention to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Accordingly, in Newsweek under the title "Face of a Massacre" the Khojaly incident was described as killings of ordinary Azerbaijani civilians, particularly mentioning that many people were killed at close range while trying to flee and that some had their faces mutilated. In turn, The New York Times under the title "Massacre by Armenians" wrote about burned and scalped bodies of victims. International coverage on the Khojaly tragedy also included a number of other commentaries that appeared in The Sunday Times, The Washington Times, Time and so forth. Moreover, Human Rights Watch described the tragedy in Khojaly as "the largest massacre to date in the conflict." Clearly, the massacre of Khojaly set a pattern of ethnic cleansing methodically perpetrated by the Armenian troops. In light of this, on Jan. 25, 2005, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) overwhelmingly adopted a resolution specifically emphasizing that "considerable parts of Azerbaijan's territory are still occupied by the Armenian forces and separatist forces are still in control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region." This prestigious European organization also expressed grave concern that the military action between 1988 and 1994 as well as the widespread ethnic hostilities which preceded it "led to large-scale ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which resemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing." As is seen, PACE made a significant first step forward to help the world community discover more information about the factual reasons of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Quite obviously, the Khojaly tragedy is the biggest modern slaughter of innocent civilians in the Caucasus. And therefore, for the Azerbaijanis and other peoples inhabiting the region, the word "Khojaly" has become identical with pain, sorrow and brutality. Khojaly is the most tragic page in history of independent Azerbaijan and a vivid reminder of the painful consequences of Armenian aggression. As the Azerbaijanis worldwide commemorate the tragedy of Khojaly, they appeal today with hope to the international community to bring the Armenian government to the international penal tribunal to answer for the crime against humanity. On several occasions different state structures and nongovernmental organizations have urged international organizations to condemn the ongoing aggression against Azerbaijan and facilitate liberation of the territories occupied by Armenian troops. Great powers should know and remember that there will be no true, long-term, sustainable peace without justice and without respect of human dignity and freedoms. It is high time that the United Nations, the European Union as well as other principal powers and all the international organizations condemn the massacre of Khojaly -- the genocide of the innocent population of Khojaly which will be forever remembered by future generations of Azerbaijanis.
*Dr. Elkhan Nuriyev is the director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Baku.
27.02.2008 Azadliq, Azerbaijan February 24, 2008


Gul's Congratulation Generates Discontent Of Historians
Views expressed in the letter are inappropriate

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has congratulated Serzh Sargsyan on his election as Armenian president

[Turkish President] Abdullah Gul's congratulatory letter [to Armenian president-elect] said: "I hope your new position will permit the creation of the necessary environment for normalizing relations between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, who have proven over centuries they can live together in peace and concord. I sincerely wish that our concerted efforts will contribute to regional peace and prosperity and create an atmosphere based on stability, mutual confidence and cooperation. Taking advantage of the opportunity, I want to convey my best wishes for your health and happiness as well as for the peace and welfare of the Armenian people."

We asked the deputy chairman of the PFAP [People's Front of Azerbaijan Party], Ibrahim Valiyev, to comment on Abdullah Gul's letter. He said that he did not approve of Abdullah Gul's views full of respect: "The Turkish president's view about the peaceful coexistence of Turks and Armenians can be justified because actually during the Ottoman Empire, Armenians were highly respected as a loyal nation. Almost all conditions were created for Armenians. At the same time, Armenians were resettled to the Caucasus as well as Azerbaijan with the help of Russia where they were also created all conditions there.

"However, as time passed, Armenians' treacherous intentions surfaced and they have never made a secret of their intention to seize Turkish lands. Armenians have always stabbed Turkey in the back in its difficult days. Their attitudes towards Turks emerged in difficult days of the fraternal country. Abdullah Gul should not have lost sight of historic facts. The Turkish president did not take into consideration that it is impossible to peacefully coexist with Armenians. Apparently, he invited Armenians to rapprochement at the international level."

The deputy chairman of the Citizen and Development Party, Aflatun Quliyev, does not consider this congratulatory letter relevant given the systematic and worldwide anti-Turkish propaganda of Armenians: "True, I would not like to comment on views of the Turkish president. Nevertheless, it would be possible to wait for the final results of the election. From this point of view, the letter made to surprise. As for the views sounded in Gul's congratulatory letter, people even with insufficient knowledge of the history are suspicious of those opinions. As a citizen, my assessment of the congratulatory letter is that it was a step made in haste in a time when Armenians are engaged in worldwide activities to have the so-called Armenian genocide recognized by various states. I consider that the views expressed in the letter were irrelevant."
Yeni Musavat, Azerbaijan
February 16, 2008


Turkey May Enter Karabakh

The PKK camps in the occupied lands will be hit. The US-Turkey-Azerbaijan alliance is being set up against the terrorist organization by Elsad Pasasoy
Washington discusses PKK with Azerbaijan

As part of the large-scaled military operations against the PKK, which have been under way since autumn of 2007, Turkey may also strike camps of the terrorist organization in Karabakh. According to reports obtained from sources in Turkey, this issue was on the agenda of the mutual discussions between Ankara and Washington to destroy the PKK facilities. Washington is said not against the discussion of this option considering the possibility of the PKK growing more active on territories of Azerbaijan.

As reported, for the first time the USA discussed the issue of the PKK in the mutual antiterror talks with Azerbaijan. Visiting Baku after Ankara, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy to the Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Frank Urbancic had talks with officials to this end.

[Azerbaijani] Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov, who met F. Urbancic, confirmed that the PKK was also posing a threat to Azerbaijan. Speaking about the issue, the deputy minister said that "this organization is coming closer to our country", thereby, hinting that the discussions were serious.

There are periodically reports in the Turkish and Azerbaijani media that members of the PKK, driven into a corner in the northern Iraq, cross Azerbaijan and set up bases there. Obviously, those reports have been sufficiently proved by evidence, and consequently, official circles have set the wheels in motion. At the same time, the start of the discussions between the USA and Azerbaijan over the PKK shows that the situation is more complex than we expected.

Official recognition of PKK threat
Incidentally, the Azerbaijani authorities have never spoken about the PKK so openly and fearlessly. A. Azimov's statement that "the USA and Azerbaijan are discussing the PKK issue at the antiterror talks" shows that cardinal changes have taken place with relation to this problem. We should recall that until recently, the authorities were deviating from commenting on the PKK under very different pretexts. Some officials even issued statements on the sidelines saying that "if we recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, it may pose a threat to Azerbaijan".

The fact that the USA has one foot in Turkey and another foot in Azerbaijan while discussing the PKK problem shows how the process is serious. Washington has already declared the PKK its enemy and obviously this is not a mere wordy political statement. The USA seems resolute to completely crash this terrorist organization.

This state has taken a decision to fight against the PKK after it stated to target the US interests in Azerbaijan too. Reports that the PKK would commit acts of terror against the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and other strategic energy infrastructures were obviously serious.

It is for sure that the PKK issue topped the meetings at the National Security and the Interior Ministries with Urbancic. It seems that a coalition of the USA-Turkey-Azerbaijan is being shaped in the fight against the PKK.

Intelligence reports confirm PKK presence in Karabakh
In the meantime, the Israeli intelligence has confirmed that the PKK terrorists have concentrated in Azerbaijani territories under Armenian occupation. The report says that after the operations of the Turkish armed forces against the PKK terrorist organization in regions bordering Iraq, terrorists are coming together in Armenia and in Azerbaijani territories under the Armenian occupation.

APA news agency quoted Turkish Show TV as reporting that after the Turkish armed forces pounded PKK camps, terrorists did not head for Iran but Armenia. This report was also confirmed by the Israeli intelligence. In conformity with a decision of the PKK leaders, the occupied Azerbaijani districts of Fuzuli and Lacin have been chosen camps for terrorists.

We should recall that addressing the latest Munich conference, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strictly urged the Armenians to "leave Karabakh". Some observers believe that such a strict position of the Turkish officials at the international event may be an announcement of the brethren country to carry out military operations against the PKK in Karabakh.

There are solid grounds now to say that the USA does not only recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization in words. Washington's position is now unambiguous in destroying camps of the terrorist organization which is openly threatening its interests.

In an interview with our paper, the head of the public relations office of the US embassy to Azerbaijan, Jonathan Henick, once again confirmed that the issue of PKK was discussed at the talks with Azerbaijani officials: "I cannot speak about details of the discussions as I did not attend those meetings. I can only say that we have no information about the existence of the PKK in Azerbaijan. We simply hear similar reports. We naturally are ready to have talks with Azerbaijani officials to this effect. The PKK has representatives in Turkey, Iraq, European countries and the problem of the PKK does exist. Naturally, if this problem also surfaces here, no doubt, we shall cooperate with Azerbaijan."

Can the USA target those camps after reports of the Turkish and Israeli sources that PKK terrorists have been resettled to occupied lands? In reply to this question, Henick said that "I cannot exactly say what might happen", adding that in fight against terrorism, peace-loving countries and governments should cooperate: "However, our priority is to fight against the PKK in Iraq and Turkey. If your reports on the PKK are confirmed, we are ready for talks with the Azerbaijani government."

Spokesman attests that PKK threat is high
The [Azerbaijani] Foreign Ministry spokesman, Xazar Ibrahim, has confirmed the existence of the PKK threat: "And this threat is very high. First, official Baku cannot control the occupied lands now. Second, the threat is that those territories are controlled by the occupying state with wide experience in the conduct of terror acts. For the time being, there are reports that the PKK is resettled there.

"Bearing in mind that the PKK carries out terror acts in the region, at the same time, it also issued statements that relevant infrastructures would be hit in Azerbaijan. The overall threat is very high. Therefore, this should be reacted properly. Azerbaijan is in political consultations to this end, at the same time, is in discussions with both regional and allying states."

As for the prospects of any specific military action, Ibrahim said that a relevant condition is required for this: "Azerbaijan is naturally capable of taking relevant steps to repulse all the dangers and threats."

Information we obtained at the end of the day was very intriguing. A source (an official editorial staff) on condition of anonymity said that the PKK's auxiliary camps had been in existence in Karabakh long before: "Simply those camps are being reinforced. The military arm of the PKK is being fully relocated to Karabakh. This is what makes Turkey and America uneasy. This terrorist organization has come all of a sudden closer to oil pipelines.

"Moreover, the PKK is bearing a grudge against the USA and this bad blood might be manifested in a dangerous option of committing acts of terror. Therefore, the USA wants the PKK be ousted from Karabakh and they could only be driven out from there by armed intervention. At present Azerbaijan and Turkey are in discussion over bombing PKK camps to be located in joint operations. This is very likely to take place in the months to come. The USA should also participate in this process closely. Military delegations of both countries have already stationed in Baku."

Our source also claimed that with the support of the USA, Turkish and Azerbaijani troops can kick off joint operations under the pretext of hitting PKK camps: "Both air and ground operations are possible in spring and the work is under way to work out such a plan. The USA needs several districts bordering Iran, at least Fuzuli be returned under Azerbaijan's control. Due to future-oriented strategic interests, the control over Azerbaijani occupied lands bordering Iran by Armenians as well as Russia does not suit the USA...[ellipsis as published]"

The Azerbaijani government may soon officially appeal to Turkey to intervene in Karabakh to deal with the PKK camps.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is soon expected to visit Turkey. The Turkish media report that this is connected with plans to work out a joint "fatal operation" against the PKK in spring. US Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey currently in Turkey told the local media after meetings Turkish officials that the aim of the countries' are to end with the PKK.
Yeni Musavat, Azerbaijan, February 17, 2008

War Against PKK In Karabakh...The USA, Turkey And We?!by Elsad Mammadli

The worldwide US fight against the PKK [the Kurdistan Workers Party] has caused certain shift in the attitude of the Azerbaijani authorities with regard to this organization. Until recently the demands from the authorities to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization went unheeded and efforts were made to hush this topic up under various pretexts.

However, after the visit of Frank Urbancic, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary and Deputy to the Coordinator, the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, to Baku, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has been already issuing statements to be deemed bold enough. Immediately after the visit of Urbancic, officials of the Foreign Ministry have voiced more than once that the country is ready to start a fight against the PKK in tandem with the USA and Turkey.

According to a latest unofficial report leaked to our paper, official Baku has not only stated its readiness for a joint fight but also agreed to the use of its territory to fight against PKK fighters resettled to Nagornyy Karabakh. There are even reports that relevant teams of the Turkish army, reconnaissance officers, accompanied by Azerbaijani officers, went through Azerbaijani territories to Karabakh and carried out raids to pinpoint locations of the PKK.

The possibility of taking such a step is very advantageous and estimable from the interests of statehood. Nevertheless, the intriguing point is that our government is cautious to admit officially that such a process is under way. In general, it is obvious that our government is avoiding issuing statements related specifically to the PKK. There may be various reasons behind this anxiety.

As everyone is well aware there is a strong Kurdish group in the authorities and they sympathize with the PKK. Either they do not let them to know or those people have the opportunity to influence the matter to a certain extent. However, based on available reports, the authorities' statement on readiness to fight the PKK and the existence of a decision, although kept in secret, caused deep concern of the "Kurdish mafia".

They are confident that if the USA and Turkey start an operation against the PKK terrorists using the Azerbaijani territories, this campaign would not go unnoticed for the PKK sympathisers inside the country. As the likelihood of shaking their political, economic strongholds and a "purge operation" against patrons of the mafia is high, the Kurdish group in the authorities and those relying on them are anxious...

Despite all these, we have to stress that the authorities have not so far officially recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization. Although the democratic forces have raised this issue time and again, the NAP [the ruling New Azerbaijan Party] majority in parliament has not adopted a law to recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization. Without such a law, it would be illogical for Azerbaijan to be involved in a fight against the PKK in an antiterror operation on its occupied territories.

For example, at present [Baku-based] Diplomat newspaper is openly propagating the PKK and no any measures are taken against its editor-in-chief. The law-enforcement agencies say that as the PKK is not registered as a terrorist organization, it is impossible to call to book its propagators... Nevertheless, there are signs that parliament would soon recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Under various opinions, the possibility of launching antiterror operations in the occupied Azerbaijani lands of Nagornyy Karabakh by Turkey and the USA might at the end result in ousting the Armenian terrorists from there.

That is to say, owing to a "local war" model, sometimes spoken about and even agreed with the Armenian leadership, territories unrelated to Nagornyy Karabakh are first emptied, the control over our districts bordering Iran is handed over to us; in exchange, the status of Nagornyy Karabakh is put on the agenda and tackled...

Given any option, the start of military operations in Nagornyy Karabakh, especially, Turkey's possible involvement in it under any pretext would be advantageous for Azerbaijan. The current state of Armenia is so that any change, any serious initiative may force it to its knee. It is quite important to test this chance.


Harut Sassounian Extends Congratulations
Armenpress, Feb 25, 2008
YEREVAN: President of the United Armenian Fund (UAF), Senior Vice President of the Lincy Foundation Harut Sassounian, has extended congratulations to Serzh Sarkisian on his election as President of the Republic of Armenia. The congratulatory message states in part: "Your Excellency President-Elect Serzh Sarkisian, I would like to congratulate you upon your election as Armenia's 3rd President.

Given your long years of service in various leadership positions, great achievements are expected from you for the benefit of the Armenian nation.

I hope you would establish the position of Minister for Diaspora Relations and expedite the adoption of a law on dual citizens, in line with the recently adopted constitution, so that all Armenians worldwide can contribute to the creation of prosperous homeland.

Armenia and the Diaspora working hand in hand can accomplish much more than separately.

You can count on the support of all Armenians in carrying out your patriotic duties. Once again, congratulations on your victory."


Erdogan's Counter Offensive Against Armenian Genocide Claims
February 27, 2008 ANKARA – Turkish Daily News

As the 16th year of the Hocali massacres are commemorated in Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Armenia of committing genocide and of unlawfully occupying Azerbaijani territory.

“We condemn those who perpetuated such an atrocity as a nation,” said Erdogan in a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting yesterday. Armenian armed forces are accused of killing over 1,000 Azerbaijani civilians on Feb. 25, 1992 in Hocali, during the armed conflict between people of the largely Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which unilaterally declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1992, and Azerbaijani forces. The battle ended, after Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and invaded a portion of Azerbaijani territory, when a Russian brokered ceasefire went into effect in 1994.

Erdogan called on Armenia to end its occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognized internationally as Azerbaijani territory. “When they come up with various claims against Turkey they should bear these in mind. Massacres will not lead you anywhere,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan refuted Armenian claims of genocide by the Young Turks against their kin in 1915, and said Armenia committed genocide in Hocali. “Against the nonsense they fabricate and disseminate in the world public opinion, we tell them the following: Talk after looking right into the mirror. If there was a genocide, it was you who perpetuated its most violent form,” Erdogan said. He argued that genocide is uncharacteristic of Turks. “The character of this nation does not let it commit such crimes. We call Armenians to end their unjustified occupation,” Erdogan said. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe oversees negotiations between two South Caucasian states, but the ceasefire is breached occasionally, like the incident in mid-February when an Azerbaijani soldier was killed due to Armenian fire.


ANCA / Sony ‘Screamers’ Dvd Launch Sets Stage For Expanded Genocide Education Effort
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Sony BMG Entertainment hosted an evening reception with community activists and human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Facing History and Ourselves to promote the DVD release of “Screamers,” the award-winning, documentary detailing the history of modern-day genocide from the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the Holocaust era to the Rwandan massacres on the ongoing Darfur Genocide.

"Screamers theatrical release in the last year raised the profile of genocide recognition in America and around the world. Now, the DVD release goes a step further because each and every DVD sale says to mainstream America 'We care about this issue, this matters to us as Armenians and as Americans, especially with a genocide going on now in Darfur.’ So this is a chance for those to make a real difference by buying the film, which has helped put this issue on the map. Each DVD also has an educational track which omits the strong language so that we can really get the message out to young people across the nation in schools. That is why Matt Damon's ad for the genocide education charity Facing History is at the top of the DVD. They support the message of this film The ANCA is also helping to get Screamers into the classroom which I am very excited about,” commented Screamers director Carla Garapedian.

The exclusive featured appearances by Grammy Award winning System of a Down lead singer Serj Tankian and Garapedian, both of whom offered insights on the DVD release. Participants were also able to view special features now included in the DVD detailing the making of the documentary as well as a special trip by System of a Down members to their high school alma mater, Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School.

Later that evening, ANCA ER Executive Director Karine Birazian had an opportunity to interview Tankian and Garpedian regarding their expectations of the movie’s impact, particularly in terms of student outreach and the growing movement to end the cycle of genocide. The interview will be available soon on the ANCA website.

“It was wonderful to team up with SONY BMG Entertainment to kick off the SCREAMERS DVD release with so many individuals and groups who play a critical role in genocide education,” commented Birazian. “In speaking with Serj and Carla - outspoken advocates in the battle to end the cycle of genocide – we see the important role the SCREAMERS DVD release will play in expanding the anti-genocide constituency nationwide. That’s why the ANCA is particularly proud to be launching the “Take SCREAMERS to School” program to ensure that every library and school has a copy of this important documentary.”

The DVD, which can now be purchased online by going to http://www.screamersmovie.com also offers a “Educational Version,” as well as bonus features including an extended version of the interview conducted with the late Hrant Dink, who was assassinated by a Turkish nationalist in January 2007.

'SCREAMERS' is a production of MG2 productions in association with BBC Television and The Raffy Manoukian Charity. Award winning director Carla Garapedian, a veteran reporter who has made a career of covering the most difficult stories, from Chechnya to repression in Afghanistan, follows the European tour of "System Of A Down" and their ongoing efforts, through music and activism, to raise awareness about denial of the Armenian Genocide and its legacy of a century of atrocities culminating in the ongoing genocide in Darfur. The film, distributed by Maya Entertainment, debuted at the American Film Institute (AFI) Film Festival in November, 2006, where it won the coveted AFI Audience Award.

The ANCA teamed up with Save Darfur and the Raffy Manoukian Charity in bringing SCREAMERS to a Congressional audience in January 2007 and once again in October 2007, with the participation of Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsor Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
RadioLur


Embassy Row
February 26, 2008 By James Morrison - 'Genocide' Politics

A grim but tireless debate between Turks and Armenians for more than nine decades found its way into the U.S. presidential campaign, as Turkish-Americans began organizing politically against any change in Washington's policy toward the "Armenian genocide" of 1915.

Officially, the United States recognizes the killings of hundreds of thousands of Armenians as a tragedy, but not genocide. Washington repeatedly has cited its concern over angering Turkey, a key NATO ally, as the reason for avoiding the loaded word. Turkey and Armenia also dispute the number of victims, with Turkey claiming about 300,000 and Armenia 1.5 million.

Yesterday, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations warned its members that the "Armenian dispute with Turkey is being politicized to the point of becoming an issue in the U.S. election campaign."

Democratic hopefuls Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have promised to reverse U.S. policy and recognize the slaughter of Armenians under the old Ottoman Turkish Empire as genocide, if either of them is elected president. Republican front-runner Sen. John McCain stuck to the U.S. line and referred to the massacre as a "tragedy."

"Far from the desired change that Americans are calling for, this sadly appears to reflect old-style politics as usual," the assembly said, referring to the statements of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

"As Turkish-Americans, we are getting involved, watching the debates, volunteering and voting in this election process."

The assembly, which represents more than 40 Turkish-American organizations, called for Turkish and Armenian scholars to work jointly to study documents from the period.

"It is critical that this matter be handled by objective experts in proper forum," the assembly said. "It is our firm belief that historians should write history, not politicians."

Secretary 'Pear Flower'

Condoleezza Rice has been praised and flattered as national security adviser and secretary of state, but she was never called a "pear flower with surpassing beauty" until she made her latest trip to South Korea.

Miss Rice yesterday traveled to Seoul for the inauguration of President Lee Myung-bak and later received a nickname from the Korea-U.S. Alliance Friendship Society. The society dubbed her "Ra I-su" and inscribed the name in Chinese characters on a document delivered to the U.S. Embassy. Chinese characters are commonly used in South Korea.

Society President Seo Jin-seob explained that "Ra" was inspired by Miss Rice's last name, the "I" means "pear flower" and "su" means "supreme."

"Together, they signify a faithful and upright public servant who is respected by allies," he said.

"In creating her Korean name, we hope that Korea and the United States will strengthen their alliance and partnership."

Korea.net, a South Korean news Web site, noted that Miss Rice's last name is difficult for Koreans to pronounce.

The society has also bestowed Korean nicknames on U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and his artist wife, Lisa, and Gen. Burwell Bell, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea.

Mr. Vershbow is Park Bo-woo, meaning "everlasting friends of Korea." Mrs. Vershbow is Park Shin-ye, or "trust in art."

Gen. Bell's nickname is Baek Bo-guk, "the defender of the country."

Christopher R. Hill, former ambassador to South Korea and currently the U.S. envoy to talks with North Korea, was called Han Gu-ri. The society said that "han" comes from "Hankuk," the Korean name for Korea. "Gu-ri" is a Korean word that sounds like the first several letters of Mr. Hill's first name.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com


`Armenia's New President is a Murderer'
21 February 2008
ANKARA - Yenicag, Turkish daily, reports that the Armenian voters preferred a murder as President of the country:

* HEAD OF THE TERRORISTS
`Serj Sarkissian organized the armed militants in the Mountanious Karabakh conflicts, he ordered massacres in Hocali, and now he is the President of Armenia. Sarkissian controls all armed forces and at the same time a good businessman. He has very good relations with the Armenian diaspora as well.'

* MURDERER PRESIDENT
`Armenia has a murderer president and it is expected that Mr. Sarkissian will follow similar policies to previous President Kocharian. It is expected that Armenia will continue to occupy Azerbaijani territories in his period. New President Sarkissian was the first responsible commander in Hocali Massacre and he order his militants to kill women, children and old people in Hocali. Hocali was a 10.000-people town and about 1.300 of Hocali people were killed by the armed Armenian forces under Sarkissian command.'

The previous Armenian President Robert Kocharian was also Karabakh veteran and responsible for many murders in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.


Turkish Web Site Calls For Annihilation Of Armenians
26.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ A written question has been submitted to Parliament concerning a web site that targets minority groups in Turkey by publishing telephone numbers and full addresses of many Armenian, Jewish and Greek schools, places of worship and publishing houses, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

The web site http://www.tennet.8m.com, today inaccessible, provides information on how to make Molotov cocktail bombs and how to avoid getting caught by the police.

It also gives detailed information on how and when to attack a building and encourages those who share opinions to meet through the web site’s chat room.

According to the site, the targets are Armenians, Jews, Assyrians and Ataturkcu Dusunce Associations (ADD) that support the opinions and reforms of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The targets indicated by the ultra nationalists related to the Armenians of Turkey, but also of the activists in Europe and on the American continent.


US Seemingly Approves Ground Operation
On the day Turkey launched its long-awaited ground operation into northern Iraq to root out Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists, the US tried to maintain a low profile, while stating that it was happy with the level of cooperation with Turkey to combat terrorism.

Learning the news of a ground operation from Today's Zaman in Brussels, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew J. Bryza said he needed more information to give a complete reaction but nevertheless underlined that he was "very pleased" his government had "finally fulfilled our commitment to Turkey."

In the wake of the presidential elections in the Greek side of Cyprus, which resulted in the ousting of incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos, Bryza indicated that the US was ready for a more active role in sorting out the Cyprus problem, which has been a major stumbling block in Turkey's European Union accession bid. During high-level talks with EU officials in Brussels on Turkey, Cyprus, Kosovo and energy security, he said the US fully supported the Nabucco gas pipeline project and downplayed the exclusion of France in the effort due to bilateral problems with Turkey.

Land operation
When asked by Today's Zaman's about the ground operation, Bryza replied as follows: "What I can say is that the US has lived up to its pledges, finally, to defeat terrorist PKK elements in northern Iraq as well as in Turkey. As you know, that happened when President [George W.] Bush met Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan on Nov. 5 in Washington and agreed that the US would share intelligence that would allow Turkish military to identify PKK terrorists and attack them. Since then we have a very successful record of cooperation. We have been comfortable to work out specific procedures to ensure that those operations are limited just to encounter terrorists and that damage caused to innocent civilians and property is minimized. Those goals have been achieved relatively well up until now.

"A land operation is a whole new level and I obviously need to find more to be more specific. What I can say is how we have been doing until is now quite well. I am very pleased my government finally fulfilled our commitment to Turkey to eliminate the terror threat, which is for Turkey the number-one national security concern."

In Baghdad, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a US military spokesman in the city, said the land operation was understood to be of "limited duration" and aimed at PKK members in northern Iraq.

Ready for Cyprus efforts
Bryza said he heard the news that the UN would be sending a high-level official to the island soon and that the US was ready for "an intensive effort." The Bush administration has previously been criticized for having turned a blind eye to the Cyprus problem. Refusing to set 2008 as a deadline, Bryza drew attention to statements by Ioannis Kasoulides, one of the front-runners in the first round of the Greek Cypriot presidential voting, in which the presidential hopeful said it would take at least some time to reach a possible solution.

Commenting on the Annan plan for reunification rejected by Greek Cypriots back in 2004, Bryza said there were many useful elements in the plan, named after then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and those parts which were mutually accepted should be taken advantage of fully. However, the American diplomat underlined that although the plan had been rejected, it still represented a milestone in the negotiations conducted so far for the settlement of the Cyprus dispute.

French participation in Nabucco 'not essential'
Lending strong support to the natural gas pipeline project comparable to the solid US backing during the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Bryza said the US was fully behind the project, which aims to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian gas. The American diplomat said that Caspian Sea gas reserves were sufficient to feed the pipeline, but added that the huge gas reserves in northern Iraq could also be transported to Europe via Nabucco. "We are trying to build on the success of the last decade and expand the infrastructure put in place with the same commitment, the same intensity," he said.

Touching upon the exclusion of France from the project by Turkey, Bryza said French participation was "good and positive" but "not essential."
23.02.2008 Selçuk Gültasli, Today's Zaman Brussels


[News Analysis] Ground Operation Comes Earlier Than Planned
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) launched ground operations backed by Turkish fighter jets against outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist targets in northern Iraq late on Thursday, earlier than the original plan for some time in March.

It has long been speculated that Turkish air raids -- which started on Dec. 16 last year with the support of US real-time intelligence and which are said to have had a serious psychological impact on the PKK by disrupting its communications and other infrastructure -- would be followed by ground operations. Though not on a large scale, the ground operations were required for the success of the military strategy to destabilize the PKK activities in N. Iraq.

But the ground operations came earlier than planned, mainly to catch the PKK by surprise, said a Turkish military analyst. According to earlier estimates, the TSK was planning to launch the ground offensive in late March, waiting for the snow in the region to melt.

The ground operations in northern Iraq, which were said to have taken place with several thousand troops, also came soon after Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's statement on Feb. 19 en route to Russia, noting ground operations might be launched. His statement came in response to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's warning over the Turkish air raids, which now total six since Dec. 16. "Our patience is wearing thin. We will not keep quiet if Turkey's operations continue," Barzani warned at the time.

However, as can be understood from the US statement made soon after the Turkish ground operations started -- which described the Turkish offensive as self-defense, but warned against excessive use of force -- US support in the form of real-time intelligence will continue for Turkey's ground offensives, too.

The TSK, for its part, pledged its respect for Iraq's sovereignty, noting that the ground offensive would continue until it reaches the target of ending the use of northern Iraq as a base for the PKK, which has frequently infiltrated from northern Iraq to stage violent attacks in Turkey.

Ground operations are ‘logical step’
As announced by the TSK in a statement posted on its Web site, air raids and artillery fire from within Turkey launched on Thursday morning against PKK targets in northern Iraq continued with the start of ground operations against the terrorist targets.

"Now it is a logical step to continue with the ground operations through which you put people on ground to destroy the logistics that the PKK left behind as a result of the Turkish air raids," said a Turkish military analyst.

The Turkish General Staff statement also noted that the ground operations were launched to prevent northern Iraq from becoming a permanent and secure base for the PKK, hinting that the Turkish military will not stay long in Iraqi territory. However, it is expected that the Turkish ground offensive will continue on and off until the PKK targets are rendered ineffective, said the same military analyst.

The Turkish ground operations also came soon after high level visits between the Turkish and US top level generals, with the latest visit paid by US Gen. James Cartwright, deputy US joint chief of staff, to Turkey, where he met with Gen. Ergin Saygun, deputy chief of Turkish General Staff.

According to the accounts of Turkish military sources, the Turkish military's earlier air raids disabled PKK communication links and intelligence assets, leaving the terrorists so intimidated that they have stopped using their communication equipment for fear that the signals relayed could be easily traced through the intelligence supplied by the US.

Turkish pilots who had been limited to training exercises at ranges such as the one in Konya, central Anatolia, during the Anatolian Eagle maneuvers have reportedly improved their skills in the air raids taking place against the PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.

The improvement of the pilots' skills also resulted in more success in hitting the critical targets of the PKK, reducing the latter's ability to coordinate any infiltrations inside Turkey to mount deadly attacks. "Turkish pilots' degree of proficiency has been developing while they have become more confident in their air raids in areas -- i.e. northern Iraq -- where they had not been familiar with the terrain before. The more their proficiency improves the better their success in air raids," says a Turkish military analyst.

As a result of increased proficiency of the Turkish military, ground operations have also become possible earlier than planned, while catching the PKK by surprise, said the Turkish military analyst.

In a related development, there has been speculation that the US, which has been supplying real-time intelligence to Turkey -- key in accurately determining the PKK targets -- may now press Ankara to send combat troops to Afghanistan to fight al-Qaeda terrorists. However, Turkey had previously pledged to contribute with around 24 officers to train Afghan military personnel, refusing to send additional troops for combat missions.

Afghanistan is expected to be one of the priority topics to be discussed during a scheduled visit to Turkey by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
23.02.2008 Lale Sariibrahimoglu Today’s Zaman


The Greatest Turkish Story Ever Sold
February 23, 2008
The image of uncivilized hordes kept at bay by a tiny group of enlightened masters is what the latter have systematically sold to the West for decades

Mustafa AKYOLA very informative piece appeared on these pages last week under the title “Decision to abolish headscarf ban hurts Turkey internationally.” Its writer, Dutch commentator Michael van der Galiën, nicely summarized how Europeans like him see this country. “We often think that the majority of Turks are overly religious,” he wrote, “but that they are kept in check by a modern elite.” He added that his fellow Europeans worry that “this elite cannot control these masses much longer,” and fear that “Islamists will take over and the European Union will have a massive problem.”

It is striking to hear this comment especially these days, because “the Islamists” that have been “kept in check by a modern elite” for decades have just taken a few more bold steps to make Turkey a liberal democracy. The members of the “Islamist” AKP (Justice and Development Party) have just passed the Foundations law, which gives our non-Muslim minorities the rights that the Turkish state, in the heydays of its secular nationalism, took away from them. (On the other hand, the party that represents the “modern elite,” the CHP, was getting ready yesterday to appeal to the Constitutional Court in order to have the law cancelled.)

Decades of story-selling:
In another occasion, a little less than a thousand ladies wearing the Islamic headscarf signed a petition that demands “freedom for everybody.” They said they wouldn’t be happy until every segment of the society – including Christians, Kurds, Alevis, artists, intellectuals, gays, lesbians, etc. – will be accepted and set free. Make no mistake: These are some of the “backward minded Islamic women” that are kept in check, and kicked out of the campus, by Turkey’s brilliant “modern elite.”

So, don’t you think that there might be a problem with the image of Turkey that Mr. van der Galiën and the likeminded Westerners have in mind?

I think there is, and also believe that this is a carefully manufactured deception by Turkey’s “modern elite.” The picture of uncivilized hordes kept at bay by a tiny group of enlightened masters is what the latter have systematically sold to the West for decades. “Hey, we are representing you in this sea of barbaric natives,” they implicitly said. “You need to support our enlightened despotism here.”

For most Westerners, this made sense. This “modern elite” spoke their language, wore their clothes, and shared their tastes. “These are guys are wonderful,” these Westerners often said to each other when they met Ankara’s or Istanbul’s crème de la crème. “They look like us.”

The reality was less chic. While Turkey’s “modern elite” looked Western, quite many of them did not believe in the principles that the Western democracies uphold. Therefore they did not refrain from suppressing millions of their citizens, the “unenlightened” ones, to impose their ideology or to preserve their privileges.

Jacobinism at work:
You will see what I mean when you look at the history of Turkey and examine the impact of the grand project of forcefully creating a secular, nationalist and homogenous nation from the remnants of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman Empire. Turkish liberals disapprovingly refer to the project as “Jacobinism,” because it takes its inspiration from the original Jacobins – the radical French revolutionaries who made great use of the guillotine to deal with their political opponents.

In Turkey, it is the Jacobin-minded “modern elite” that is responsible for the suppression of the Kurdish identity or the limitations on Christian minorities. (In the Ottoman era, both groups had broader rights.) The same elite is also responsible for the impoverishing of the religious mind – as they destroyed all traditional institutions of religious learning, Islam remained only at the hands of the rural and unsophisticated figures. The urban-secular divide that underlies much of the secular-religious dichotomy in Turkey is an outcome of that “puncture” in the society.

All this doesn’t mean that the masses which were dominated by the elite were open-minded liberals. No, not really. But from the beginning, they have been closer to believing in democracy. Moreover, since the 1980’s, thanks to their engagement with globalization, they have become more broad-minded than the “modern elite,” which increasingly grew rigid, intolerant and reactionary.

In the recent years, especially with the rise of the AKP and its pro-EU politics, the clichés created about Turkey’s religious masses have been weakened a bit. Quite many Westerners who follow Turkey now realize that the real trouble makers here are the CHP folks and other nationalist forces. But decades of story-selling is hard to break – as evidenced by Mr. van der Galiën’s piece. Moreover, the Western world is experiencing its own problems with radical Islam – a phenomenon which gives the Turkish story-sellers yet another card to play with.

More meaningful questions:
One of the standard tricks in this story-selling is putting the whole blame of the anti-Christian or anti-Jewish attitudes in Turkey on the Islamic side. Let me show you one example from the latest piece by fellow TDN columnist Mr. Burak Bekdil. In a series of rhetorical questions designed us to convince how “Islamist” the current government is, Mr. Bekdil questioned its composition. “Since Mr. Erdogan’s government is at equal distance to all faiths and every Turkish citizen is equal,” he asked, “why does Turkey not have a Jewish-Turkish general, or a Greek-Turkish diplomat or an Armenian-Turkish undersecretary?”

This is not a meaningful question, because no government in the secular Turkish Republic ever appointed a Jewish, Greek or Armenian citizen to such influential posts. Such ecumenical cabinets used to exist in the Ottoman days, but things have changed with the emergence of our nation-state and the dramatic decline in the population of the non-Muslims.

Therefore a more meaningful question would be to ask why the secular Turkish Republic never had Jews, Greeks or Armenians in its high bureaucracy. And that would lead to other questions, which would, finally, lead us to deconstruct the greatest Turkish story ever sold. But, apparently, not all of us are willing to go that far.


Becoming One With Research: An Adopted Yuruk Daughter By Vercihan Ziflioglu
February 23, 2008, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
Professor Leyla Neyzi at Sabanci University began living with Yuruks, a nomadic people of Anatolia, for her PhD dissertation. Her study was worthy of an international award, but she refused publication and struggled to return to life away from her adopted home on the plains

When Leyla Neyzi, one of Turkey's leading cultural anthropologists, decided to turn her trained research eye on the Yuruk people, she had no idea she would emerge a woman transformed with a connection so strong to her subjects that their way of life would become her own. Since living among the last nomadic group of ethnic Turkmens people for a year and a half in the mid 1980's, she has maintained the lifestyle of the Yuruks, devoid of modern amenities, and they have embraced her as one of their tribe.

Associate Professor Leyla Neyzi studies a little known field in Turkey. Neyzi is one of the first anthropologists in Turkey to trace the roots of cultures. What is most interesting is not her field of study, but how, after establishing a career in academic research, one ethnographic field study managed to completely uproot her academic aim. After completing her education in Stanford University, Cornell University and the City University of New York in the U.S., Neyzi gave up modern amenities and wealth to live in the mountains in 1984 to gather data for her dissertation. As a cultural anthropologist Neyzi observed the transition of the Yuruks from a subsistence culture to one that began greenhouse cultivation and tourism in the village of Ulupinar 1,000 meters above Antalya. Severing all ties with modern life, Neyzi started to behave like a Yuruk, embracing her host family deeply and changing her eating habits, style of speech and behavior.

Neyzi is currently lecturing at Sabanci University's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her biological family history goes back to the Chios island of Greece. Her great grandfather Sotiri Rodokanaki, a Greek living in the Turkish territories, had been taken from his family as a child in 1822 during the Chios Rebellion by a surgeon named Haci Ishak Efendi. Rodokanaki learned how to become a surgeon from his master and went to Paris. In the following years he became the doctor of the Ottoman Emperor Sultan Abdulmecit and received the title of Hekimbasi Ismail Pasha – the chief doctor. With this appointment, Neyzi's family first settled in Istanbul six generations ago. The Emperor's palace spheres begin calling Hekimbasi Ismail Pasha's daughter Leyla Hanim, ‘Saz', a type of wind instrument because of the songs she used to write in the Harem, the palace's family quarters.

Leyla Neyzi took her first name from her great-grandmother. But unlike her namesake, she was drawn to cultures rather than music. “I took the first steps toward my future job during childhood. I was questioning life all the time. I was attracted to things I had never known before,” Neyzi told the Turkish Daily News. Her education at Robert College gave her life direction, Neyzi said. She said she decided on her future field of study when observing the cultural clashes between the Istanbulite students and the Anatolian students, who were given scholarships to attend the college. “Those from Anatolia knew what was going on in Turkey. Istanbulite students from elite families lived as if they were in a glass house isolated from real life. I felt closer to Anatolian students,” said Neyzi.

Stanford education
Neyzi was sent to study in the U.S. by her family due to the tense political atmosphere in Turkey in the 1970s. At 17, she enrolled in Stanford University's Department of Anthropology and majored in cultural anthropology. Her first study was of Armenians emigrating from Anatolia. When she returned to Turkey, she was a 24-year-old Western-educated woman. After completing her studies in Cornell University, she moved to Egypt for two years.

Neyzi decided to study for a PhD degree after her two-year research study of Copts, Egyptians of non-Arab descent who are mostly Christian, and applied to New York's City University. “One of my professors was working on agriculture in cultural anthropology. He wanted me to study agricultural-based countries. And Turkey had barely been studied before in this respect,” said Neyzi, adding that at this point her life began to change.

Neyzi decided to study the Yuruks in Anatolia and went to live with a Yuruk family with the help of one of her friends. At first, the family treated her like an outsider and Neyzi had a hard time becoming accepted. For the first months she did not write any notes. “I wanted to earn their trust and become a part of their lives,” she said. She lived in a tent made of goat hair for a year and a half and began using nature's amenities for her personal needs. “Taking a bath was a big problem. I had a hard time getting used to taking a bath outdoors with a jug. There were times when I did not take a bath for weeks.”

While cutting the goat
Neyzi said the Yuruk settlements were far from each other. “We used to wake up at 4:00 a.m. before the sun rose and carry water in jugs from the mountain tops.” Yuruks use different sounds to communicate, and Neyzi eventually mastered this kind of communication.

Neyzi embraced her host family so much that she drifted away from her own family. “It was the Feast of the Sacrifice. My father came to see me all the way from Istanbul as a surprise. He was puzzled when he saw me with a knife in my hand just about to slaughter a goat. My father was the last person on my mind. I was so happy with my Yuruk family that I did not want him to visit.”

Neyzi said she started to speak a different language, particular to Yuruks, and had problems communicating with her own family when she went back home at the end of her research. Neyzi said her Yuruk host family embraced her like daughter after six months. With the help of the family, Neyzi investigated the life of Yuruks family-by-family and arranged their family trees. She also became informed about issues between the Yuruks and the state. Neyzi, who had lived at 1,000-meter altitude, said the main form of transportation had been her feet and it took a whole day to reach a city. “The plateau was the best place on earth. Becoming aware of nature in forests. Yuruks love nature: They live in harmony with it instead of trying to master it.” After a year and a half, Neyzi completed her research in the U.S. but faced difficulties returning to modern life. “I was not able to accept my home and my own family. The face looking at me in the mirror did not belong to me. I was drowning when I was indoors, surrounded by walls. I missed nature.”

Neyzi never lost her ties with her host family after she returned to Istanbul. She went to City University of New York in 1986 to present her dissertation. In the same year, her dissertation on Yuruks was found worthy of the Malcom H. Kerr Dissertation Award granted to social science researchers by the Middle East Studies Association.

She received many offers, including one from the University of Texas Press to have her research published, but never accepted any of them. “Father Mustafa and Mother Güldali were a part of my life. The idea of turning them into a commodity hurt me very much. For personal reasons I refused to have my research published.” Neyzi said after her research was complete she went through psychological distress and experienced emotional anxiety.

Neyzi's studies are not limited to Yuruks. She researched the Armenian community that emigrated from Anatolia to California, Copts, the oldest community in Egypt, and native Mexicans in South America. Neyzi's articles and oral history studies have been published in Turkish and English.

Publications by Leyla Neyzi:
“Istanbul'u Hatirlamak ve Unutmak: Birey, Bellek ve Aidiyet” (Tarih Vakfi Yurt Yayinlari, 1999); “Amele Taburu: The Journal of a Jewish Soldier in the Labor Battalions During The Turkish War of Independence” (Isis Press, 2005); “Türkiye'de Sözlü Tarih, Kimlik ve Öznellik” (Iletisim Yayinlari, 2007).


Turkish Military Tribunals : A New Book From Zoryan by Jean Eckian
KarabakhOpen 22-02-2008

After years of painstaking effort, with the assistance of Zoryan Institute (Canada) two experts historians, Turkish and Armenian, on the Armenian Genocide, have completed a new, authoritative translation and detailed analysis of the Turkish Military Tribunals concerning the crimes committed against the Armenians during World War I. Setting the tribunals in their historical and legal context, they, for the first time ever, have compiled the known documentation of the trial proceedings.

The Takvim-i Vekâyi is a prime source of legal evidence and eye-witness testimony for the Genocide, and therefore of extreme importance for introducing the legal argument for affirming the Armenian Genocide.

Consequently, it is an essential source for policy makers, historians, legal scholars, analysts of international relations, and those seeking truth, justice, and official recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The Zoryan Institute has decided to accelerate the publication of these trials because of its timeliness in addressing the legal basis of our argument, above and beyond the historical and moral. Due to its uniqueness as legal documentation, this project is vital for Genocide Affirmation, George Shirinian said, executive director of the Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation.


Journalists Beaten, Prevented From Taking Photographs In Violence At Polling Stations
Alert - Armenia 22 February 2008
(HRW/IFEX) - The following is an abridged Human Rights Watch press release:

Armenia: Violence At Polling Stations Mars Elections Assailants Target Opposition Activists, Observers And Journalists

(New York, February 22, 2008) - The Armenian government should investigate alleged assaults on election observers and journalists that marred the presidential election on February 19, 2008, Human Rights Watch said today. According to victim testimonies taken by Human Rights Watch, assailants beat and threatened opposition party activists, domestic observers, and journalists who attempted to document election fraud at polling stations during the presidential vote.

"These election-day attacks targeted the very people trying to ensure the integrity of Armenia's vote," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Armenian government should carry out independent and speedy investigations to ensure justice is served and to send the message that intimidation won't be tolerated."

On February 20, the Central Election Commission declared Prime Minister Serzh Sargsian the winner of the elections with 52.8 percent of the vote. Sargsian had the backing of current president Robert Kocharian. Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosian was the main opposition challenger and won 21.5 percent, according to official tallies.

In nine cases documented by Human Rights Watch, assailants intimidated, threatened, and even violently attacked opposition party activists, domestic observers and journalists at eight polling stations in and around the capital, Yerevan. Victims variously described their assailants as "big guys," "athletic," "tough," and apparently supporters of Sargsian. Most victims had been attempting to expose what they believed to be violations of electoral rules, such as incorrect voters' lists, intimidation of voters, violations of the right to a secret ballot, and ballot-box stuffing. None of the victims was able or willing to return to the polling station to continue observing the voting.

In several incidents, the assaults took place in the presence of police and polling station officials who did not intervene, and in one case a police officer appeared to assist the assailants. Some victims reported the attacks to police, who are investigating.

Human Rights Watch called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to look into election-related violence and ensure that its final report on the vote records these incidents.

At least three journalists were attacked. Lusine Barsegian of the newspaper Haikakan Zhamankak was beaten and had her camera and voice recorder stolen when she attempted to document what she believed to be intimidation of voters at a polling station in Yerevan's Erebuni district. A cameraman from the independent A1+ television station was beaten and had his camera taken at the same polling station. Two domestic election observers, Armen Matirosian, a member of parliament from the opposition Heritage party, and Zarui Postandjian, an observer from a nongovernmental organization, were also attacked at this polling station after they tried to raise alleged election violations with polling station officials.

The OSCE election monitors stated that the elections were held "mostly in line" with international commitments.

Tens of thousands of Ter-Petrosian supporters took to the streets in downtown Yerevan on February 20 and 21 to protest the outcome of the elections and what they believe to be widespread electoral fraud.

"The Armenian authorities should ensure that no harm is done to peaceful demonstrators," said Cartner. "Armenia claims to be a democratic country, and that means allowing people to exercise their right to freedom of assembly."

Details of Assaults
Yerevan Polling station 13/16
Lusine Barsegian, a journalist for Haikakan Zhamankak told Human Rights Watch she went to polling station 13/16 in the Erebuni district of Yerevan at approximately 2 p.m. on February 19. When she arrived, she saw that the polling station was very overcrowded. Some unidentified people were talking to voters in what she believed to be an attempt to influence their votes, and other people were observing the voters closely as they cast their ballots. Barsegian attempted to interview the central election commission representative responsible for the polling station about the apparent violations. At that point, policemen and a few unidentified men forced her out of the polling station. Barsegian protested, saying, "I have the right to be here. I have the right to take photographs."

With the assistance of Armen Matirosian, a member of parliament from the Heritage party, who was an authorized election observer, Barsegian again entered to the polling station. When she again attempted to take photographs, an unidentified man in plainclothes kicked her in the stomach and grabbed her camera and voice recorder. Other men also punched and kicked Matirosian. According to Barsegian, police stood by and did not intervene. After this attack, Barsegian and Matirosian fled the station and filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office.

When Zarui Postandjian, an observer from the nongovernmental organization Against State Violence, heard about the incident, she went to polling station 13/16. Upon arriving, she saw a severely overcrowded polling station and police and unidentified people observing voters as they marked their ballots. Postandjian has stated that she tried to take photos of the polling station when a policeman came up from behind her and hit her. At the same time, an unidentified man tried to grab her camera, and both he and the policeman punched her. Another observer came to assist her, and they both fled. Postandjian did not return to the polling station. Postandjian filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office, which opened a criminal investigation.

Kentron district
Hovsep Hovsepian, a cameraman with the independent A1+ television station heard about election violations at polling station 9/6 in the Kentron district of Yerevan. Hovsepian told Human Rights Watch that when he got out of his car at the polling station, a large group of unidentified men who had gathered outside the polling station attacked him and attempted to take his camera. When Hovsepian resisted, one of the men kicked him in the stomach and grabbed the camera. The assailants took the video cassette out of the camera, smashed it, and prepared to destroy the camera as well. At that moment, the driver of the car came out and the men began to attack him instead. Hovsepian and the driver broke free of the attackers, returned to the car and left the polling station.
www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/21/armeni18128.htm
For more of Human Rights Watch's work on Armenia: www.hrw.org


Against The Grain: The Armenian Genocide - Why Britain Is At Fault By Chris Green
21 February 2008, Independent.co.uk
Scholarship on the Armenian genocide is dominated by two strands, both very simplistic. One is the Turkish nationalist strand, which effectively tries to deny that it occurred, and that the Armenians who died were only killed as a direct result of their own treacherous behaviour. The second strand comes from the Armenian diaspora, whose scholars argue that genocide did occur: but their explanations for this are sometimes based on dubious evidence and are often polemical. The truth transcends both. Genocide was a policy choice made by a specific regime under specific conditions, not a culturally determined crime.

No one knows exactly how many people were killed, but in the immediate aftermath of the First World War at least 800,000 deaths were acknowledged by the new Turkish nationalist leader Mustapha Kemal Atatürk. Of around two million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1914, only 400,000 remained after the war. So the question is: what happened to them all? We know they were deported to harsh desert regions, and although some escaped to Arab states, most were massacred on the way by Ottoman paramilitaries. Putting the death toll at 200,000, as some Turkish nationalists do, is utterly untenable in terms of simple mathematics. It was one of the most intensive killing campaigns of the 20th century.

Yet both the USA and Britain still refuse to recognise it as genocide. They accept that a lot of Armenians died during "tragic wartime events", but say that the issue is best left to Turkey and Armenia. This is partly because a lot of Turkish state funding goes into official denial campaigns. In Britain, Holocaust Memorial Day assiduously tries to avoid mentioning the Armenian genocide, as a direct result of Turkish state pressure. So, a day supposedly dedicated to the commemoration of extreme events - to ensure that they never happen again - can't even confront one of the major genocides of the 20th century.

This is not just a matter for the history books. There's a direct line between Turkey's failure to confront what happened to the Armenians and the continuing persecution of Turkey's Kurds. Greater international pressure for freedom of speech and human rights in Turkey is the best way to improve the Kurdish situation. As for Britain, it should be wary of making grandiose but easy moral gestures about humanitarian issues if it is going to crumble under pressure. This isn't something that's going to go away.


Donald Bloxham's Latest Book, 'The Great Game Of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism And The Destruction Of The Ottoman Armenians'

Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908, By M. Sükrü Hanioglu
Oxford University Press (2001), 560 pp.

Reviewed by Christopher Deliso

In this new study of the intrigue and organization behind the Young Turk revolution of 1908, author and Princeton professor M. Sükrü Hanioglu makes a compelling case that the real motivation of these plotters and political agitators was, contrary to what some have maintained, not exactly an egalitarian, liberal reform movement having the simple goal of restoring the constitution of 1876. Nor was it at bottom an inclusive movement supported by a majority of the feuding Ottoman factions under a mantle of ‘pan-Ottoman’ reform. Rather, it was a conservative, militaristic movement, and the first sustained iteration of a xenophobic, anti-European Turkish nationalism, the repercussions of which are still being felt today.

Indeed, the Turkish police’s January 2008 arrests of ultra-nationalist plotters alarmed at the apparent loss of their country to an untrustworthy government is just one recent events that a shows remarkable continuity between the present and the relatively recent past, one in which a small though determined group of agitators developed a wide network of collaborators and finally won over large portions of the military to put muscle behind their demands. The major difference between the activities of then and now was that, unlike the Turkish ‘Deep State’ of the post-WWII period, the Young Turks did not rely on illicit commerce or organized crime for propelling their revolution. But it was unquestionably in the pre-WWI period that the seeds of a future militaristic and nationalistic conservatism were sown in Turkey, one which be institutionalized and energized after the mid-1960’s.

The Young Turks: A New Picture
Since he restricts himself to the period of 1902-1908, of course, the author does not draw out these connections. What he does do in Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 is nevertheless more than enough. Although very dense and undoubtedly somewhat slow going for the more general reader, this work will prove indispensable to serious students of the Balkans and, after a somewhat sluggish start, does become somewhat more exciting as the narrative unfolds, chronicling the final frenzied months leading up to the daring revolution in July 1908.

In documenting the evolution of the Young Turk movement, the major political organization of which was known as the CPU or CUP (Committee of Progress and Union), the author reappraises the organization, tactics and goals of the group as it struggled to attain relevance, something which it did substantially between the two Congresses of Ottoman Opposition Parties in 1902 and 1907. With a small leadership body based in Paris, and with secret branches throughout Europe and the Ottoman Empire, the CPU evolved in a few short years from an insignificant group of idealists and theorists into a pragmatic and effective network employing propagandists, assassins and plotters who were also taken seriously by European diplomats. Using previously neglected primary source material from dozens of archives across Europe, and the voluminous private correspondence of the CPU leaders themselves, Hanioglu very objectively analyzes the evolution of Young Turk thought, and how the evolution of this thought led fatefully towards a scenario in which it could act, and in so doing change the course of history.

The new picture of the CPU that emerges from the pages of Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 is, from the idealistic perspective, a rather unflattering one: far from being liberal reformers, the Young Turks in Paris were authoritarian, conservative nationalists motivated specifically by the perception that the sultan was on the verge of losing the empire’s Balkan and Arabian provinces through crude incompetence and mismanagement. To do this was disaster for the CPU, as it would, they feared, destroy Turkey’s prominence on the world stage and reduce its contact with European scientific and other forms of “progress.”

It was the overriding desire to keep the empire that led the CPU to grasp onto concepts such as ‘Ottomanism’ – the building of a single Ottoman identity capable of including the disparate ethnic and religious groups of the vast empire. However, the very divergent rhetoric that the CPU used in appealing to different groups indicate that this abstraction was, like the others employed, just another manifestation of the Young Turks’ cunning opportunism.

Rhetoric and Its Ends
Indeed, while the CPU used Ottomanism in attempts to win over Christians such as Armenians and Greeks, they used the pan-Turkic ideal and pan-Islamist ideal when approaching the Turks of Azerbaijan and Central Asia (they even attempted, less successfully, to appeal to the Bulgarians by citing the shared Turkic roots of the Ottoman Turks and early medieval Bulgars). And the Young Turks’ appeal for support to the Kosovo Albanians was also based on the stated desire to preserve Islam and implement Sharia law, both of which fundamentalist leaders among the Albanians desired. Ironically, however, while the CPU regularly railed on Sultan Abdul Hamid in its appeals to peoples being massacred under his watch such as the Armenians, Bulgarians and Macedonians, it praised him to the Kosovo Albanians, who apparently regarded the sultan fondly as a sort of “father figure.”

On at least one occasion, the author recounts, a contemporary Greek journal pointed out the contradictions in this wildly divergent rhetoric, which would have been clear to anyone capable of reading the CPU’s printed materiel. Indeed, while the CPU was able to bring together a wide enough coalition to act with its confusing and opportunistic rhetoric, the latent contradictions in it would cripple its efforts to rule afterward, and provide direct impetus for the already rebelling ethnic groups to continue their quest- the exact opposite of what the Young Turks had hoped to avoid by their revolution. Nevertheless, by 1913, with the conclusion of the Balkan Wars, the unthinkable had happened, and the Ottoman Empire had been driven almost entirely out of Europe.

Of course, those non-Turks who signed on with the CPU were not necessarily taken in by the Young Turk rhetoric; they were merely attempting to secure their own interests. In any case, it would have been clear to them that Ottoman “equality” in the eyes of the CPU meant an understood dominant role for the Turks, who resented what they felt was special treatment for the non-Muslim populations of the empire.

Realpolitik, nevertheless, played a considerable role. The Armenian rebels in the east were in dire straits by 1907, as was Jane Sandanski’s Macedonian band of rebels, following a schism caused by this faction’s assassination of two leaders of the Bulgarian IMRO in November of that year. The Albanian Tosks in Albania proper saw alliance with the Young Turks as a precursor to independence, whereas the Ghegs of Kosovo saw it as a way to promote Islam and stave off foreign intervention, in order to keep the European Murzsteg reforms, set up to protect persecuted Christians in Macedonia, out of their lands. In the months preceding the revolution, the CPU made appeals to both the right-wing of the IMRO in Bulgaria and the Greek government, which controlled surreptitiously the Greek bands fighting in Macedonia. Both were mistrustful of the “reformist” intentions and refused to participate.

Developing a Network
This did not mean, however, that the Young Turks were not active through their secret networks in these lands. It took them several years to create this network, and even to grasp the concept of how vital it would be in any effort to make the government bend to its will. At the same time, the CPU was not prepared to dilute its message or give up any of its power to groups formed inside the bounds of the empire – what became known as the ‘internal’ committees – and the ‘external’ one in Paris.

Lawless Macedonia, then under weak European supervision with the advent of the Murzsteg reform program, proved exceptionally fertile ground for CPU local branches to operate and to infiltrate the Ottoman army. It was also able to set up branches among Turkish populations in Bulgarian towns such as Kazanlak, Plovdiv, Vidin, Shumen, Balchik and Dobrich. The Greek island of Crete, then in an uneasy state of autonomy, also contained CPU sympathizers among the threatened Muslim population.

The CPU, aware that any reinforcement troops to be sent to Macedonia in case of a rebellion would be sent from Aydin province (near Izmir in Anatolia), made special efforts to propagandize the Aydin troops against the Sultan well in advance (they would be spectacularly successful in the end in so doing). Nevertheless, on an operational level, the Macedonian port city of Thessaloniki and Bitola to the north played the major role in the Young Turk’s ‘internal’ committee structure in the Balkans.

Constantinople, the ultimate prize, proved however exceptionally hard to penetrate, as the Sultan’s “extensive spy networks” were naturally very active there (one would like to have heard more about the activities and organization of these networks). From the correspondence and records of the CPU leaders, a marvelous picture emerges of turn-of-the-century intrigue: members crossing international borders in disguise, secret notebooks meant to be stored in safes, special code numbers ofr committee members, oaths of silence and penalties of death- all these and more tell the story of the CPU as an operational force. Although to modern ears they can sound amusingly archaic at times, these were the attributes of espionage a century ago, and were taken very seriously.

Another element that is oddly touching, in light of our modern sense of cynicism, is the very real influence of written propaganda (in the form of the CPU journal, Turk and other publications) on readers. In an age when periodicals relied to some extent on payment of subscriptions rather than advertising, readership was significant to the life of any journal and the pages of Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 are full of examples of activist journals that failed. Turk, however, resonated with common people from North Africa to the Middle East and Europe, and the (to us, strangely) heartfelt letters it elicited evidence this. In fact, the CPU seems to have gotten a fair number of branch members from those who read, and agreed with, its party magazine.

Unanswered Questions and Interesting Details
The arrangement of these branches was done cleverly. CPU’s leadership in Paris was a paranoid and authoritarian lot, and to lessen the chances that field operations would not be compromised, they established each branch via written correspondence and authorized direct communication only between each branch and the center- not, at first, from branch to branch. Yet given the rapid success of the CPU in establishing and managing these branches from afar, the author could have attempted to delve somewhat into the personalities of the leaders. True, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 is neither a psychological study nor a novel: still, the reader would like to comprehend how a small group of activists only differentiated by the nuances of their ideological stance was able to accomplish so much, so fast.

Clearly, the CPU was led by some capable figures, yet we do not hear much about their individual personal qualities- just who was popular with who, and who wielded more authority than the others at various points. Nevertheless, considering the rapid expansion of CPU activity between 1906-1908, it remains a mystery to us as how a handful of men were able to deal with what must have been an ever-mounting avalanche of correspondence, and increasingly complex issues requiring immediate and careful decision-making.

There are other unanswered questions that emerge from Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908. Considering the highly controversial activities of the CPU, and its ambivalent relationship with the European powers (whom it accused of bloodthirsty imperialism in the Ottoman Empire, as well as Islamophobia, morale hypocrisy and disingenuous pontification) it is unfortunate that the author does not mention how they were allowed to operate undisturbed from the very middle of Paris. Very interesting questions are not raised, such as why the French government tolerated the group (at one point it is revealed that the French were keeping police dossiers on the CPU, apparently still in the Paris archives today), and why the Sultan never sent assassins to eliminate them.

Nevertheless, one mark of a good study is that it raised more questions the further the investigation goes, and in this Dr. Hanioglu’s work is a fine example. Another distinction is the number of interesting details that pop up here and there, regarding which readers and scholars might be intrigued enough to delve into further on their own.

Such is the case with the tales of a Turkish professor at Cambridge University whom the CPU recruited to monitor the British media for anti-Turkish articles, or the Turkish science students in Paris who were asked for bomb-making advice. And we learn that in their early days, in fact, the Young Turks contemplated assassinating hated Ottoman political leaders with the help of Italian anarchists. We read of the uproarious case of an angry Albanian mob that gathered when it was learned that the children of Austrian railworkers in Skopje had been allowed to have a picnic in Kosovo. The surprising number of Young Turks that became Freemasons, the personal descriptions of Turkish death squads pillaging Macedonian villages, and the decisive role of Albanian irregulars in fleshing out the actual revolutionary brigades of 1908 are just a few of the great many interesting details presented in the book.

Most fundamentally, however, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 is vital for what it proves, and how it does so. From the fervent scrawlings of the Young Turks themselves, the reader of today is exposed for the first time to the intimate thoughts of these turn-of-the-century revolutionaries who, despite their own success, would hasten the downfall of an empire they had sought to save.

In the pages of this seminal work, it becomes eminently clear that all of the rich complexities and contradictions of modern Turkey – ranging from fiercely argued attitudes to Europe and the idea of “Western progress,” nationalism and the question of other ethnicities in Turkish and former Turkish lands, and of course Islam – have been not only existing, but have been actively debated, for well over 100 years. While the immediate value of the work is its historical specifics, it is the insights into an uncanny and remarkable continuity of existence that is perhaps the reader’s greatest reward.
2/23/2008 (Balkanalysis.com)


Armenia's Population 3,229,900 On Jan 1, 2008
Yerevan, January 21. Arka: On January 1, 2008, Armenia's population was 3, 229,900 people - 7,000 more as compared with the very beginning of the year.

The RA Statistical Service reports that the country's urban population was 2,069,300 people, and rural population 1,160,600.

Most of the people reside in Yerevan - 1,107,800. The Armavir region of Armenia has the second largest population - 281,600 people. The population of the Vaiots Dzor region is 55,800.

The Ararast region has the largest rural population in Armenia -195,200, followed by the Armavir region - 181,400 people. The Vaiots Dzor region has the smallest rural population - 36,500.


Citizens Of Armenia Don’t Have The Power To Change Things By Seda Grigoryan
Hetq.am February 25, 2008

This is the way a resident of Geghadir described his condition. They’ve long since gotten used to the ideas that as citizens of the ROA they don’t have the power to change things. Even though they confront numerous issues, they feel that it’s pointless to petition the community’s leader.

“It’s beyond his powers. What can he do?” during the course of 2007 the Mayor’s Office in this community of 740 received 7 petitions. Despite the fact that public receptions are held almost every day the villagers mostly knock on the Mayor’s door with problems of a personal nature. The villagers remain basically ignorant whether regarding Council Sessions or decisions that have been passed. Mayor Hrachya Sargsyan noted that, “we hold review meetings about twice a year.”

Decisions passed by the Council in Hankavan are publicized as prescribed by the law. They are posted in the window of the Mayor’s office or on the door of the village’s only store. “But the people mostly tear them down and don’t read them” said Anjela Gasparyan, the office secretary. During our conversation a young person from Hankavan, Nora Khachatryan, recalled seeing a notice in the store but said that she hadn’t read it.

The Mayor’s Office in Byureghavan also mostly receives petitions of a personal nature. Resolutions adopted by the leadership aren’t posted. Lianna Dallakyan, the office secretary explained that, “There’s no enclosed place to post such notices. We used to post them on the first floor of the Mayor’s Office but since the place was renovated we have no appropriate spot.”

In Saralanj, notices regarding decisions adopted by the Council and community leadership are posted either on the wall of the Mayor’s Office or local clubhouse, but no one reads them here also. Saralanj residents say they trust their mayor and that since the budget is small their suspicions are few.

It must be noted that in Armenian communities the notion of an “assertive resident” is still alien. Residents in basically all communities are indifferent when it comes to information that is posted. Today, they are little interested as to the size of their community’s budget and what expenditures are planned for the coming year. The reason for this is the ignorance of the people when it comes to the workings of the mayor’s office and the resources at its disposal.

On January 17th in the session chambers of the Charentsavan Mayor’s Office, the most important document of the community was being debated and discussed, the 2008 budget. Prior to the debate, copies of the draft budget had been posted on the Mayoralty building and at five other busy sites in the town. However, up until January 17th not one written proposal had been received and even members of the Community Council made oral recommendations. On the day the budget was to be approved not only were local residents and community groups not present, but also only 8 of the Council’s 12 members had shown up. Council member Manuk Asatryan, who also the Director of the Charentsavan station of the Armenian Water and Sewage Company, explained that he was unable to attend because he was busy with company work (a water pipe had been damaged) and that in any event he had reviewed the draft beforehand and made his observations. Mr. Asatryan said that, “I noted that they hadn’t allocated any monies for water distribution and that they must work to correct this.”

Overall, the review of the budget took place without any serious disagreement and that the Council members passed it unanimously.

Council members based their “activism” (a word which they agreed to with some difficulty) on their observations and proposals that they had made beforehand and which had been included in the draft. Mayor Hakob Shahgaldyan explained that this atmosphere of confidence arose from the work carried out.

Looking through the list of decisions passed by various Community Councils one is hard-pressed to come across votes cast against such resolutions. In the Mayor’s Office in Byureghavan it was stated that all proposals are exhaustively discussed and debated beforehand and that a common consensus is reached. Only then are the resolutions presented for a final vote. A similar explanation was given by the Mayor of Geghadir who confessed that it would be incorrect to describe the Council as active.

As for the village of Saralanj, it didn’t have a Community Council for quite some time. Mayor Gegham Zilifyan recounted that, “They would ask me, do you even have a budget for us to review?” In any event, they finally found five people to serve as a Council.
Kotayk


Disobedient Armenian Diplomats Tendered Resignations To Support Levon Ter-Petrosyan
February 24, 2008
Yesterday evening it was reported that the following Armenian diplomats had tendered their resignations and had voiced their support for the popular movement headed by Levon Ter-Petrosyan. The diplomats in question are: Armen Baibourtian, Deputy Foreign Minister of the ROA; Rouben Shugarian, Ambassador Extraordinary to Italy, Spain and Portugal; Levon Khachatrian, Ambassador Extraordinary to the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Joining the above Ambassadors was Razmik Khoumarian, Armenia’s Envoy Extraordinary to Moldova and Ukraine.

Shortly after the announcement regarding the diplomats’ unprecedented move was made at Freedom Square, “Haylur” and other T.V outlets broadcasted the news that President Robert Kocharyan had dismissed the “disobedient” diplomats from their posts and summarily stripped them of their rank and title. Specialists familiar with the ritual procedures in the diplomatic corps stated that such a move to strip Ambassadors of their diplomatic rank is a gross breach of the rules.


Turkey And Armenia: A $12 Billion History Lesson
By Timothy W. Ryback and Elazar Barkan / IHT
February 25, 2008

Last week, a senior French official flew to Istanbul to discuss Turkey's exclusion of Gaz de France from an $12 billion pipeline project - designed to bring Central Asian oil directly to European markets - because of recent French legislation making it a criminal offense to deny that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in 1915 constituted genocide.

The Turkish government clearly takes history seriously. Just last October, when the United States Congress considered a bill similar to the French genocide legislation - without the punitive dimension - Turkey threatened to restrict airspace vital to the American military efforts in Iraq. Washington backed off.

Turkey objects to the term "genocide" to describe the historical tragedy it calls the "events of 1915." Ankara is resolute in defending this stance and has mirror legislation to that of France making it a criminal offense to use the term "genocide." Turkey does not deny that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children perished in a series of population transfers across a rugged mountain region, but it blames the deaths on the tragic combination of bureaucratic ineptness and particularly harsh climatic conditions.

For Armenians, as well as nearly two dozen other countries ranging from Australia to Venezuela, this was "genocide" plain and simple. This clash of historical narratives has become more than academic, as France and the United States have recently learned.

George Orwell warned us about mixing history and politics, but after nearly a century, it is perhaps time for governments and scholars to cooperate in resolving this dispute by establishing an international historical commission to explore these issues in a sustained, comprehensive and, most important, cooperative matter, as the Czechs and Germans did with their joint historical commission in the 1990s when similar tensions strained their relations.

Unlike the Nazi persecution of the Jews, which was determined to have constituted genocide by an international tribunal in Nuremburg, and subsequent tribunals that made similar determinations for Rwanda and for Srebrenica in the former Yugoslavia, the Armenian genocide, or "events of 1915," has never been subjected to similar international historical or legal scrutiny. There have been judgments rendered on the tragedy, including expert opinions by the International Center for Transitional Justice and the International Association of Genocide Scholars. But there has never been a formal independent historical commission that has had access to the complete historical record or involved teams of scholars from Turkey and Armenia, like the Czech-German historical commission established to resolve historical disputes between those two countries or numerous similar commissions.

There have been several attempts in recent years by Turks and Armenians to address the issue collectively. In 2001, a Turkish-Armenian reconciliation commission was launched to great fanfare only to collapse a year later. In 2005, the late Hrant Dink joined 30 Turkish and Armenian scholars and journalists at the Salzburg Global Seminar to explore ways of advancing Turkish-Armenian dialogue. Last April, a group of Nobel laureates led by Elie Wiesel published an appeal for "understanding and reconciliation" that was publicly greeted by Turkish scholars in an open letter.

In a gesture toward dialogue, the Turkish government published full-page advertisements in major newspapers, including this one, calling for a joint Turkish-Armenian historical commission. And just this month, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reiterated this position at an international security conference in Munich.

Perhaps the time has come to take Turkey up on its offer and establish an independent, international historical commission that can explore the historical facts and legal definitions in a neutral and sustained manner and render an independent and informed opinion.

Such a commission would need to have the historical authority and legal expertise to review the historical facts and deliberate on the legal implications. It would need the cooperation of Turkey and Armenia as well as Russia, France, Britain, the United States and other countries to provide access to pertinent archives. And it would benefit from access to private archives that contain relevant documents.

History is best when it is researched and debated before it is lobbied and legislated. It will be a costly undertaking, both in terms of time and resources - there is no question about that - but as France and the United States know, unresolved historic legacies often come with an even higher price tag.

Elazar Barkan and Timothy W. Ryback co-direct the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation.


Armenian Brutality That Targeted All Of Humanity By Zakir Hasimov*
The Hocali massacre has gone down as one of the worst and most striking pages in Azerbaijanian history.
For 200 years the people of Azerbaijan were victims of constant nationalist, chauvinist attempts on the part of the Armenians to engage in ethnic cleansing and to carry out the politics of genocide.

The Azeris were kicked out of their historic lands and forced to migrate, events which were brought about through massacres carried out by the Armenians. The forced migrations of the Azeris off their own ethnic soil continued through the Soviet era, with 150,000 Azeris being deported from Armenia between 1948 and 1953. These deportees were moved to the Kur-Araz region of Azerbaijan. In 1988, 250,000 Azeris living on their own land were forced to move from this land and, in the process, Armenia became a mono-ethnic state. The events that began in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region in 1988 were aimed at bringing about the ideal of an "Armenia from sea to sea" that some Armenian ideologues were proclaiming. Villages and cities were destroyed, tens of thousands of innocent people were killed and hundreds of thousands of Azeris turned into refugees, fleeing from their own lands.

In the face of all international legal norms, the Armenian state has shown that it is prepared to carry out murder and terror to unite its lands with the lands of Nagorno-Karabakh. The massacre at Hocali was a result of this determination. This massacre was planned not just against the people of Azerbaijan, but against all of humanity. The massacre at Hocali stands along with other terrible stains that mark human history, such as Katyn, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What was the goal of the Armenians when they targeted Hocali? There were two goals: One was to remove the strategically problematic presence of Azeris in the mountainous region of Karabakh, and the other was to wipe Hocali from the face of the earth in one move. This was because Hocali was a place that was intertwined with Azerbaijan's own history and culture. The special cultural history sheltered in Hocali was known as Hocali-Gedebey culture. Hocali's antiquities were cultural examples of the special dynamic that occurs when human communities develop. These cultural monuments were destroyed by the Armenian invasion and occupation. The ancient Hocali cemetery -- one of the oldest cemeteries in the world -- was also lost. These events were not just clear examples of Armenian vandalism, they were attacks against world culture.

On the night of Feb. 25, 1992 terrorist Armenian gangs, backed by Brigade 366 from the Soviet Union's armed forces which was based in the city of Handeki, attacked Hocali. At that time there were 2,500 civilians living in Hocali. The civilians planned to go straight to the city nearest them, Agdam, to escape from the heavy rocket and gun fire. But this effort turned out not to help and 613 people were massacred during this vicious attack. Of these, 63 were children, 106 were women and 70 were elderly. Eight families were completely wiped out. Also, 25 children were left orphaned, and 130 children lost at least one of their parents. At least 487 people were injured, with 76 of these being children. Also, 1,275 people were taken hostage, while there are still 150 people who are still unaccounted for. In fact, the city of Hocali was wiped clean from the map, marking the bloodiest page in the armed struggle between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

An Armenian writer who has revealed this massacre in all of its horror is one of the founders of the "Greater Armenia" ideology, Zori Balayan, who is still being sought by Interpol. In his book titled "Revival of Our Souls," written in Armenian in 1996, Balayan describes the viciousness and horror of the attack on Hocali thus:

"Entering into one of the seized homes along with gang member Hachatur, we saw that our soldiers had nailed a 13-year-old Turkish child to one of the windows. In order to keep the child from screaming, Hachatur took the sliced-off breast of the child's mother and put it in the boy's mouth. Then I did to this child what his father and their like had done to our children: I flayed the skin from his stomach, head and chest. Then I looked at my clock. The child died seven minutes later from loss of blood. Later, Hachatur cut up the child's body and tossed it to dogs that came from the same roots as the child -- Turkish dogs. We did the same thing to three other Turkish children that night. My soul was filled with happiness just knowing that we had achieved 1 percent of revenge in the name of our people."

Sixteen years have passed now since the Hocali massacre. Photographs and video images exist documenting this massacre, as do live witnesses. The Armenians are calling events which took place 90 years ago under the Ottoman Empire, which no longer exists, a "genocide." Going further, Armenian lobby groups have used pressure to force the parliaments of many nations to officially accept the events of 1915 as genocide. Armenian sources discount the research done by Turkish historians on this topic, despite the fact that these historians have referenced Armenian documents in this research. As for the incidents in Hocali, they need no research. Just watching the video images is enough.

It is the Armenians who are creating the difficulty surrounding the question of Nagorno-Karabakh. Twenty percent of Azeri land is under Armenian occupation. There are around 1 million Azeri people who have been forced into refugee status because of this.

Unfortunately, we see that foreign politicians interested in examining events from 90 years ago from a one-sided stance continue to ignore a tragedy that occurred only 16 years ago. Still, our belief is strong and we continue to believe that justice will find its place.

Murder should not remain unpunished. The Armenians should be charged by world communities in the military-political rape they carried out against the Azeris. In addition, international organizations and world parliaments should seek justice for the murders that took place on Azeri lands in Armenia. We believe that the Turkish Parliament -- a friendly and brotherly organization -- will recognize this massacre for what it was, and that Turkish and Azeri lobbies can cooperate in letting the world know about what really happened in Hocali.

*Zakir Hasimov is Azerbaijan's ambassador to Turkey.


The Fog Of War
25.02.2008 Andrew Finkel a.finkel@todayszaman.com
If the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) decision to go guns blazing across the border into northern Iraq has accomplished anything, it will have been to supply the military's least favorite president with the mother of all diversions to approve the military's least favorite constitutional package. It was just under a year ago that the high command used what they described as the deteriorating security situation on the border with Iraq to try to embarrass a government bent on electing as president a man whom they suspected of planning to abandon the secularist founding principles of the Turkish state. Things did not turn out as planned and now the government, secure in its own re-election, has given the military the go-ahead to mount its land invasion. Abdullah Gül, the Turkish president, has used the fog of war to summon up his opponents' worst nightmare and give his assent to women covering their heads at university.

Curiouser and curiouser, the markets seem to be giving the president a pat on the back. One analyst report I read at the beginning of the week expressed little concern over the international fallout of Turkey invading Iraq and far greater relief that the headscarf of Damocles was no longer draped over the body public. Invasion has also proved a momentary distraction from the IMF's delay in completing the seventh review of its agreement with Turkey. This lengthy postponement is the result of the failure to enact social security reform, which in turn is the result of the Budget and Planning Commission's dithering over raising deputies' own pensions.

Yet eventually the consequences and risks of the first serious Turkish land operation into Iraq since America's own invasion will become apparent. Many commentators are jaundiced about suggestions that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) can be immobilized with a conventional land operation and feel the army is being lured into a trap of alienating Turkey's Kurdish population. However the more conventional Turkish wisdom that the invasion will seriously disrupt the militants' logistic and organizational structure has to be taken seriously. The timing of the attack while there is still snow on the ground appears to have been prompted by intelligence reports of 600 PKK intending to infiltrate into Turkey ahead of the Nevruz celebration on the first day of spring. The invasion will surely make it harder for the PKK to regroup, and it will also lessen their confidence that they are protected in the winter by the weather.

There is a school of thought which suggests that it would be a mistake for the Turkish armed forces to be too ambitious and that a completely defeated and demoralized PKK would have no compunction about sanctioning acts of urban terrorism such as the suicide bombing in Ankara in May 2007 in which six people lost their lives and many were more were injured. The PKK, through its political wing, has always sought legitimacy abroad and portrayed its struggle as one of self-defense against a state intolerant of Kurdish rights. Acts of indiscriminate violence would puncture, on a scale that would attract the world's attention, that argument and be regarded by their own constituency as an admission of defeat.

The Turkish army is almost certainly unconcerned at being overly successful. The very fact that it has been able to stage a border crossing into American-occupied Iraq marked a victory of sorts before even the first shot was fired. It marked the end of a bruising argument with Washington over its right to defend Turkish territory from the Iraqi side of the border. However Washington still warns that the operation should be limited in scope and not destabilize Iraq's north. "Destabilization" is a lightly coded message that US cooperation does not extend to Ankara expanding its mission to threatening Iraqi Kurdish autonomy. "The shorter the better," is the reply US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave to how long he wanted to see the Turkish operation to last and was more diplomatic than Massoud Barzani in suggesting that the problem that Turkey has with Kurdish separatists could not be resolved by force of arms alone. It has to talk to the Iraqi Kurdish regional government and remove the anti-democratic impediments which fuel Kurdish nationalist dissent at home.

Back in 2003 Turkey warned the United States of the dangers of trying to fix Iraq through armed intervention, that the use of force in such a brittle polity could have unintended consequences. It was good advice.
26.02.2008


Was The Ottoman Empire A Colonizer?
February 25, 2008, Ali GÜNES

International University of Sarajevo, jointly with Ankara Centre for Thought and Research (ADAM), through the sponsorship of Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), hosted an international conference on “East-West Relations: Past, Present, Future” on February 14-15, 2008, in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Highly well-known scholars and academics from different countries joined. All the papers were of vital importance to comprehend how both East and West have perceived each other, but I paid special attention to the papers that examined closely the legacy of the Ottoman in the Balkan region.I had two reasons to do so. First, I am on the verge of writing an article on Ivo Andric's Nobel Prize winning novel, The Bridge on the Drina, which deals artistically with the relationship between Orthodox Christian Serbs and Muslims in the eastern town of Visegrad (now eastern Republika Srpska) in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the beginning of the construction of the bridge over the Drina River in 1566 to the start of World War I in 1914. Secondly, I secretly sought the answer to a question which has haunted me for a long time: was the Ottoman Empire a colonizer? I certainly know that my effort is ridiculous and non-academic, since it is the historians who will give the right answer, yet I would like to share with you what was argued at the conference and what I learned from my reading of colonialism and what my Bulgarian and Serbian friends told me about the Ottomans.

Enter colonialism:
Colonialism, as defined by various scholars such as Leroy Beaulieu, Edward Said, Madan Sarup, Homi Hbabha and Gayatri Spivak, is a kind of “subjugation” and “exploitation” of a weaker nation by a powerful one through the deployment of “force”, often military actions. As these key words indicate, colonialism aims to include, along with the extension of the colonizer's way of life, culture, manners and language beyond its national borders, economic exploitation of the colony's natural sources, creation of new markets for the colonizers.There are countries particularly in Europe that obviously practiced such activities almost from the sixteenth century to the twentieth in many places around the world such as North and South America, Australia, Africa, and Asia. In addition, these colonizers also sent their settlers to populate the land or compelled local governments to carry out their mission. In history, the first organized process of colonization started with the Renaissance and geographical discoveries from the 15th century onward. The first colonies were established in the Western Hemisphere by the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Netherlands colonized Indonesia in the 16th century, and Britain colonized North America and India throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Later on, Britain also colonized Australia and New Zealand. Colonization of Africa, in fact, began during the 1880s, yet almost the entire continent was colonized by Europeans by the 20th century. The period of colonialism ended gradually after World War II, leaving its place to another form of colonialism known as post-colonialism or neo-colonialism.

What about the Ottomans?:
What about the position of the Ottomans within this definition of colonialism? It is known that the Ottoman Empire, like other European Colonizers, also crossed its national borders of Anatolia and extended its territory in Africa, Asia and Balkans. According to Ivo Andric in The Bridge on the Drina, the Ottoman Empire was a colonizer. Among many other things, he writes that the Ottoman Turks “took away…Christian children, [like Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic] from their mothers by force [to Istanbul]”: “when they were taking them away, their mothers refused to be parted from them and, weeping and wailing, were insensitive to blows and to curses. Stumbled after them as far as Visegrad itself”. Moreover, Andric also writes that the Ottomans took their “property and money” but gave back “merely crumbs”. However, Andric is also confused in his views about the Ottomans after the Austria-Hungarians invaded his country. In view of the “annexation crisis” and tension as well as the difficulties created in life by Austria-Hungarians, the older people sought the “sweet tranquility” of Turkish times, which used to be “the main aim of existence and the most perfect expression of public and private life”. During two recent conferences in Bulgaria and Serbia, I asked my Bulgarian and Serbian friends whether they viewed the Ottoman state as colonizer. The answers they gave were interesting. One of them said, “The Ottoman Empire, with regard to the definition of colonialism, was apparently a colonizer, yet it is not a Western type of colonizer when we look at its practices in our countries. It did not take anything from but gave us a lot. It also did not rule our countries in the same manner as other colonizers; we were governed by the people among us. We were secure. We are controlled now more than the Ottoman times, since our rulers, the media and economy are all controlled in one way or another. Life is not secure now.”

Ottoman laissez faire?:
At the conference Dr. Mehmet Bulut also noted what the Ottomans brought to the region. He argued that “the Ottoman state took very low tax and provided economic balance and welfare in the Balkan region, since it supplied traders with cheap food to prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a small group of people who formed the economic structure of the whole society at a time when individual entrepreneurship (laissez faire) was important in the West. In this respect, there is a great difference between the mindset of the Ottomans and that of Westerners in that the Ottomans distributed wealth not a small group of people but to a larger segment of society and also controlled the price balance in the market, by which it aimed to shun monopoly. Bulut also pointed out that the Ottomans, unlike the Western colonizers that divided and ruled, “amalgamated and tolerated difference of language, religion, culture and identity, which it considered fundamental aspects of nations when there were many ideological conflicts, fights and categorizations linked to religion, culture and identity in the Western world during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries”.

Ottoman multiculturalism:
Simply, the Ottomans created what we discuss today a multicultural atmosphere, in which everybody became able to present their identities, voices and view without any restrictions. Finally, Prof. Mehmet Can from International University of Sarajevo suggested that “the Ottoman model of tolerance toward every ethnic, religious, racial and cultural group might be a solution to the ethnic, sectarian and ideological problems the world faces nowadays”.My final conclusion is that I may not find a suitable place for the Ottoman in my readings, listening and talks.
...................
Ali Günes teaches English literature and culture at International University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo- Bosnia and Herzegovina. He can be conducted at aligunes@ius.edu.ba.


Total Confusion By Garen Yegparian
I’ve always advocated action, participation, doing something over doing nothing—in a word, activism.

But all along, I’ve held a bias that’s now been revealed to me. I suppose I owe everyone an apology. I’d just always assumed that activists, especially any who survive into their twenties and beyond, also develop/have good judgment. At the very least, I’ve observed most organizations checking the overzealousness of some of their members/activists in the interest of not doing damage to their cause. It seems I am dead wrong on this front.

Some time within the past month or so, Annie Totah, who sits on the Armenian Assembly’s Board of Directors (and has even been its chair and vice-chair) and is ARCA’s national chair (the Armenian Rights Council of America—the ADL/Ramgavars’ version of the ANC), sent out an e-mail that could have negative repercussions for the Armenian community. She is also heavily involved in the Jewish community, having married into it. Check this and more of her credentials out on the Assembly’s and ARMENPAC’s (the Assembly’s political arm) websites.

Normally, this is exactly the kind and level of participation I’d be advocating and lauding. But, here that judgment thing pops up again. The e-mail she sent negates many of the positives of her involvement. I have not been able to secure a copy of the e-mail, and that’s secondary. What’s more important is a piece by Ed Lasky it references found on the “American Thinker” website. You can find the reference to this on Ben Smith’s Blog, Politico.com.

The problem is the nature of Lasky’s piece and being associated with it. Eyeballing some of his other writings quickly conforms his conspiracy mongering approach. The piece in question, titled “Barack Obama and Israel,” does a smear job on that candidate. There’re subtle and overt references to Obama’s choice of religion and denomination; attempts to assign guilt by association using some of Obama’s supporters alleged transgressions against Israel; and even an attack based on Obama’s opposition to John Bolton’s nomination as UN Ambassador. The article even takes potshots at members of Congress, some of them H.Res.106 sponsors, among these Adam Schiff, one of our strongest Congressional supporters.

Annie Totah’s e-mail, presumably sent to a Jewish audience to demonstrate the superiority of her chosen candidate (Hillary Clinton), may or may not sway its intended readers. Frankly, I don’t care. In fact I wouldn’t even care if the other candidate were targeted. That’s not the point. Totah and ARMENPAC have chosen to support Clinton. That’s actually good. This way, regardless of who wins, with the ANC’s endorsement of Obama, one faction of our community plugged in.

But resorting to sleazy, innuendo-laden tactics like using this article reflects poorly on us as a community. It certainly reflects poorly on the organizations in which Totah holds high positions. But then, in the Assembly’s case, perhaps this is to be expected. Remember, they won the “coveted” SpitRain Award last August. In case you think I’m overreacting, here’s how Ben Smith describes Totah: “a Washington society figure and Armenian-American activist who’s also a member of Clinton’s finance committee.” Those who don’t personally know any other “Armenian-American activists” might, given human nature, attribute to the rest of us a love of gutter politics.

I’m not starry-eyed, nor delusional. Politics is blood sport. Of course these kinds of things will be done. But there’s a wisdom that’s expected of those holding visible positions in organizations. They cannot be associated with this kind of activity because it reflects poorly on the organization. For all I know, the Clinton campaign may have been following exactly this line of thinking by feeding Totah Lasky’s piece to disseminate.

Please call on Annie Totah, ARCA, ARMENPAC and the Armenian Assembly to apologize for this embarrassing gaffe. If she refuses, those organizations and others she serves should remove her from any offices she holds.

If they don’t, then we the community will know how to judge and not support them in the future.
ArmenianWeekly


PolicyWatch #1344
PKK Criminal Networks and Fronts in Europe
By Abdulkadir Onay February 21, 2008

On February 13, Frank Urbancic, deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, told CNN-Turk, "The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is like the mafia all over Europe." He added that in addition to its terrorist presence in Europe, the PKK has an "octopus-like structure carrying out criminal activity, including drug and people smuggling" to raise funds, as well as "fronts that provide cover to the organization's criminal and terror activities."

The United States and Turkey have recently begun to cooperate with each other against the PKK presence in northern Iraq, but the organization's relatively unnoticed European criminal networks and fronts remain a lifeline that, if unchecked, will allow it to remain well funded and supplied indefinitely. For their fight against the PKK to be successful, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union must tackle the group's European activities.

Criminal Fundraising in Europe
The State Department's April 2007 Country Reports on Terrorism stated that the PKK finances its operations through fundraising and criminal activity in Europe. Similarly, a recent NATO Terrorist Threat Intelligence Unit (TTIU) report found that the PKK is involved in illegal economic operations such as smuggling, tax evasion, and other forms of organized crime, including drug and counterfeit money trafficking as well as illegal foreign currency exchanges. The report also stated that PKK members apply coercion in collecting funds.

According to figures presented at the NATO Reinforced Economic Committee meeting in November 2007, the illicit narcotics industry is the PKK's most profitable criminal activity. The committee's subsequent report found that the PKK is involved in all phases of the narcotics trade, from raw production in Pakistan and distillation in Iraq to street sales and "taxation" of non-PKK-produced drugs in Europe. The report also showed human trafficking as the PKK's second most profitable illicit activity.

Europol has made a similar case about the PKK's criminal activities, offering specific evidence in its April 2007 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report: "Two PKK members were arrested in France in 2006 for money laundering aimed at financing terrorism. At the end of 2005, three members of the PKK were arrested in Belgium and another one in Germany suspected of financing the PKK. In Belgium, the authorities seized receipt booklets indicating that the arrested suspects were collecting 'tax' from their fellow countrymen. The rise of fundraising activities by the PKK in the EU is related to the escalation of the terrorist campaign of Kurdish terrorists in Turkey."

Fronts and Legal Loopholes
In addition to its criminal network, the PKK also uses fronts and legal loopholes to raise funds in Europe. The TTIU report stated that the group raises a total of $50 to $100 million per year. Although the bulk of this amount comes from criminal operations in Europe, approximately $12 to $15 million is raised through legitimate or semi-legitimate commercial activities and donations. According to Turkish authorities, the PKK has a vast network of 400 affiliated organizations in Europe -- about half of which are in Germany -- engaged in these commercial activities. The network includes affiliate or sympathizer organizations such as the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe (KON-KURD, headquartered in Brussels) and the International Kurdish Businessmen Union (KAR-SAZ, in Rotterdam).

The PKK also has a vast European propaganda and fundraising network that includes two news agencies, four television stations, thirteen radio stations, ten newspapers, nineteen periodicals, and three publishing houses. These media organizations are scattered across Europe and range from Roj TV in Denmark to the Firat News Agency in the Netherlands.

Purchasing Weapons
Revenues from the PKK's criminal activities and fronts have long funded the group's weapons purchases in Europe. Between 1984 and 2006, Turkey confiscated a total of 40,045 PKK weapons. The origin of many of the weapons could not be detected due to intentional destruction of identifying marks by producers, smugglers, or the users. Nevertheless, more than 16,000 of them have so far been traced. Some originated in European countries, including Italy, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and Russia. Moreover, of the 8,015 mines captured by Turkey, 4,857 came from Italy and 2,268 from Russia and the ex-Soviet republics. Such large amounts of weapons, often stored in military depots, normally would not disappear without alerting the authorities.

European Cooperation: Slow but Increasing
The PKK has enjoyed safe conduct in some European countries for quite some time. Today, these nations are beginning to understand the global effects of terrorism and the need for international cooperation, and are accordingly taking steps to ban or restrict PKK activities. For instance, as reported by the Turkish daily Sabah, the British Foreign Office acknowledged in January 2008 that the PKK and its affiliate organizations had been active in Britain and other European countries since 2001. As a result, Britain announced that "foreign terrorist organizations would not be allowed to exploit the territories of the United Kingdom to fundraise any more."

Most European states have also officially recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization (though some, such as Norway, have not yet done so). Accordingly, they are taking some concrete steps against the group. For example, in January 2008, a local Berlin court found a Turkish citizen guilty of leading an underground PKK cell in Bavaria since 1994 and sentenced him to nearly three years in prison.

U.S. Role in Facilitating European Cooperation
According to the European Council's 2002 Framework Decision on Combating Terrorism, member states are obligated to take necessary measures to ensure that any involvement with a terrorist group -- whether it be directing, funding, supplying, or participating -- is punishable by law. Unfortunately, European countries have been slow in implementing this legislation.

In order to be successful, the U.S.-Turkish strategy against the PKK presence in northern Iraq should include strong U.S.-Turkish-European counterterrorism tools to shut down the group's European criminal networks and fronts. In this regard, the United States should bring Turkey and Europe together by facilitating joint work among American, Turkish, and European law enforcement agencies.

Lt. Col. Abdulkadir Onay (Turkish Army) is a visiting military fellow in The Washington Institute's Turkish Research Program.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


Volume 73, No. 8, February 24, 2007
It’s The Diaspora, Stupid, By Khatchig Mouradian

Whether it is border disputes or animosities between peoples, you always have one entity to blame: the Diaspora. That is the context in which many Turkish intellectuals perceive Turkish-Armenian relations.

Never mind that the Armenian Diaspora cannot all be chunked into a monolithic whole. Intricacies like that are hard to fathom for some, who have grown up in a country where one official version of early 20th century Turkish history is taught, and where Armenians have been portrayed as evil collaborators that committed genocide against the Turks!

Since the Diaspora was formed chiefly after the tehcir (Turkish for deportation—not genocide, mind you), it is a no-brainer: Diasporan Armenians, the descendants of the “disloyal” Ottoman Armenians, are evil collaborators still, plotting to create animosities between Turkey and Europe, Turkey and the U.S., Turkey and Armenia.

The Diaspora is pushing the Genocide recognition agenda, these Turkish intellectuals argue, and dragging Armenia along with it. They think if Armenia is “left alone,” it would forget about the Genocide—although most Armenian citizens are descendents of Genocide survivors themselves—and beg forgiveness from Turkey for all the “headaches” their Diasporan cousins have caused.

Should Armenia also accept a Turkish mandate?
“Steps like opening up the Armenian border will overpower them [the Armenian Diaspora]. A tough, confrontational response, on the other hand, is actually what the Diaspora wants,” said Meltem Cakir of TUSIAD (the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association) in an interview that appeared in part in the Feb. 22 issue of the Turkish Daily News (TDN).

Kaan Soyak, co-chair of the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC), was quoted in the Jan. 8 issue of the Milliyet as saying that if Turkey were to approach Armenia with the intention of normalizing relations, Armenian authorities would be ready to:

a) Agree to Ankara’s suggestion of forming a joint historians’ commission.

b) Recognize the current border between Turkey and Armenia.

c) Withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh following security guarantees agreed upon through the Minsk process with Turkey’s participation.

d) Stop supporting Genocide resolutions in various parliaments.

Such concessions, in return for an “intention of normalizing relations,” are completely unrealistic. It is clear to most political actors in Armenia that even the intention to withdraw from Karabakh on the part of Armenia’s current or future leaders would lead to public outrage and scenarios reminiscent of the last weeks of Ter Petrossian’s reign.

Dashnak Dictatorship
In a Feb. 8 article titled “Armenia Needs a Better Course,” TDN columnist Semih Idiz wrote, “The Dashnak mentality continues to prevail in Yerevan, mostly due to the promptings of the Armenian diaspora. … The victory the Dashnaks believe they are scoring against Turkey is Pyrrhic [a victory with devastating cost to the victor] and will continue to be much more so in the future as Ankara takes less notice of pressure from the West.”

“Surely there are sound minds in Yerevan that see this and desire a different kind of understanding if relations with Turkey are to open up in ways that really make a difference for Armenia,” Idiz concluded.

Gunduz Aktan, in an article titled “Gross Injustice,” published on Feb. 17 in the New Anatolian, wrote, “Today, Armenia is a Dashnak dictatorship. But it dares to urge us to expand freedom of expression. Not a single book that denies the genocide claims is sold in Armenia.”

The above might be flattering to some of the ARF’s supporters, but like most of what Aktan says on Turkish-Armenian relations, they are exaggerations and misrepresentations at best.

Moving in next door
Now imagine what these intellectuals were thinking when the Armenian Parliament passed the first reading of the dual citizenship bill.

On Feb. 22, Sedat Laciner, head of the International Strategic Research Organization in Ankara, told Zaman: “We can easily say that the Armenian Diaspora is moving in next door and Armenia can no longer be described as an independent country.”

“Ter Petrossian was always careful about not letting the Diaspora as well as Russia intervene in the domestic affairs of his country,” Laciner added, noting that Kocharian, in contrast, is acting in line with the Diaspora’s policies.

In the following weeks, the dual nationality issue will, undoubtedly, generate a lot of discussion and concern within Turkey. It was always convenient to try to separate Armenia from the Diaspora and to try to neutralize the other with different tactics. But as the ties between the two wings of the Armenian nation have become stronger, our “next door” neighbor has begun to realize that they are between a rock and a hard place.
Armenian Weekly


Armenian Weekly
Deep Roots: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Eastern United States

This is the first in a series of interviews with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Central Committee of the Eastern Region of the United States. Professor Hayg Oshagan is the chairperson of the Central Committee.

Armenian Weekly: Could you give us a description of the Armenian communities in the Eastern Region?

Hayg Oshagan: What is unique about this region is that its diasporan roots predate the Genocide. The Eastern Region is also the most geographically widespread area the ARF covers, from Florida in the south, Massachusetts to the north and Wisconsin to the west. There are 17 ARF chapters, known as gomidehs, as well as the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and all its chapters. The family of organizations includes Hamazkayin, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), and the Armenian General Athletic Union and Scouts (Homenetmen).

The first gomideh was established in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1894. The Hairenik, established in 1899, is the oldest, continuously published paper in both the diaspora and Armenia. The Armenian Weekly, our English-language publication, recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.

The region is also unique in that it includes the financial centers of the world, in New York City, as well as the political center, in Washington, D.C.

AW: How does the ARF work within the communities?

HO: There are two aspects to the work that the ARF does—political and community. Politically, the ARF supports Armenia by trying to advance the political institutions and political culture in Armenia, as well as ensuring the viability of the Armenian state. In the diaspora, the effort is aimed towards Genocide recognition efforts, and maintaining communities and giving them the resources to grow and survive. Our political work is focused on a few themes, with Genocide recognition, and issues of financial and territorial reparation, being of paramount concern.

We also lobby the U.S. government for just and equitable military and economic aid to Armenia. We try to advance our efforts in academic circles, given that discussions in academia and academic scholarship often have real world consequences. We also try to present Turkey’s real record in human rights violations, making sure that lawmakers and the public understand both Turkey’s stance in blockading Armenia and in providing assistance to Azerbaijan.

We also spend a great deal of effort trying to maintain political activism in our communities. This represents our grassroots base, the communities that believe in what we do, and this support is essential to the success of all our efforts.

Our political work is pursued by every member of the ARF, and is organized at the local level by our Gomidehs and Armenian National Committee (ANC) chapters. At the regional and national levels, these efforts are conducted through the ANC Eastern Region based in New York, and by the ANCA offices based in Washington, D.C.

As an example, over the last two months, we have held a protest in front of the Azerbaijan Embassy, demonstrating against warmongering by Azerbaijan’s government; we have worked to bring two Genocide resolutions to the house floor for a vote; we organized a rally in front of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s office in Illinois, with the participation of System of a Down. We also organized and promoted a talk at Harvard University on the issue of the Genocide.

AW: How does the work of the ARF compare to other organizations that are active in the community?

HO: The ARF is the only organization that has remained committed to these goals, and the only organization that has stayed true to its purpose over the last 100 years. The ARF has withstood external influences and political pressures and has kept the interests of the Armenian nation as paramount in its work. This continuing activism in the ARF is also what attracts increasingly young members to join the ranks. This year, we’ve had dozens of young members join the ARF ranks, and there are many more applicants waiting to go through the educational process.

Beyond its political scope, the ARF is also involved in community work. This is what it means to be a diasporan organization: you have to maintain communities, in fact they have to prosper, while still being able to fight for a cause that’s broader than the geographical area of the communities themselves. The survival of the diaspora depends on well-organized, active and conscious communities that feel part of a greater whole and are engaged in a common purpose.

And this work, of course, doesn’t end with one year or two, but has to continue across generations. This is what only the ARF has been able to maintain in over a century of effort. Now, in turn, the diaspora has become essential for the survival of the state of Armenia itself, not only in terms of politics and lobbying, but also culturally and philanthropically.

You have to realize that simply being in a city doesn’t create a community. Twenty-thousand people in Detroit do not make an Armenian community, unless they have a means of meeting one another, seeing each other, hearing of each other’s work, and feeling a sense of belonging to something. The greater sense of community is not an easy thing to organize or establish.

Community centers, newspapers, radio and TV programs, schools, churches, picnics, scouts, public forums, and the work of affiliate organizations, in having meetings and functions, all play a role in creating a sense of belonging to a community. This is an essential part of our involvement in the diaspora and we spend a great deal of our time on these issues along with our family of organizations.

Currently, as examples, our gomidehs in the communities of Florida, Washington, D.C., and Detroit are looking into improving their community centers or building new ones, in order to better serve the needs of the community.

As I mentioned, our newspapers also play key roles in this regard. They don’t just report on events. By focusing on the everyday life of the community and encouraging local columnists, the newspapers provide not only more interesting stories that reflect what our diasporan communities are about, but also allow readers to feel that they belong to something that is greater than just their own individual lives. The newspaper and our other media allow a person to participate in the broader life of an active community and plays a critical role in maintaining the community itself. And beyond this, the media establish a connection between individuals and the Armenian nation’s political and other struggles.

This is obviously very important to the ARF, and, in fact, in order to expand the reach of the papers to a broader audience, we have established an online radio station and soon both publications will be accessible online. We need to make an effort to reach an audience that may not be used to reading a paper every week.

Anyone interested in joining this effort should be encouraged to contact our editors.

AW: What other efforts are being undertaken to improve the operations of the publications?

HO: The improvements extend into the structures in which our papers operate. We have been collecting funds to improve the Hairenik Building in Watertown, Massachusetts. Construction work has already started, and a great deal has yet to be done. We will not only maintain this building, but also improve it and also make all the necessary technological upgrades as well.

AW: How has the ARF cultivated and encouraged activism among the youth?

HO: Since the very beginning, the ARF has paid particular attention to our youth, developing them both politically and as active members of the community itself. The AYF Eastern Region is the oldest youth organization of the ARF. It was established in 1933 by Karekin Nejdeh, and has served all these years, for many generations. Its members strengthen not only the ARF, but also bring their involvement into Homenetmen, Hamazkayin, ARS, and the church.

The AYF recently completed a very successful Olympics, and AYF Camp Haiastan enjoyed an equally successful season. The AYF also has a well-organized internship program in Armenia. Throughout the year, members were able to attend international pan-Armenian events, including a socialist forum in Brazil, and pan-Armenian youth organization gatherings in Argentina and Canada.

The ARF takes great care that the members of the AYF receive adequate training and education in national and local politics, and methods of promoting political and community activism, as well as giving them a social environment in which to gather and meet one another and develop friendships. Our work cannot end with one or another generation, and so we have to make every effort to make sure that there are new faces, energy and imagination to take over and continue.

AW: What is the ARF’s relationship with other Armenian organizations?

HO: The ARF tries to reach out to all Armenian organizations, both local and regional as the need arises. In this respect, there are three organizations we work most closely with and consider to be part of our family of organizations, and they are the ARS, Hamazkayin and Homenetmen. The Central Committee is always in contact with the leaders of these organizations, as well as with the Eastern Prelacy, to ensure that we coordinate our activities and that we serve the various needs of the community.

AW: What are some of the issues presently facing the ARF in this region?

HO: One of the greatest challenges in this region is the geographical distance that separates us from one another. Our communities develop as if they were islands, and this creates difficulties both in the community as well as in maintaining a sense of identity in being part of one region.

We also face serious hurdles in securing the resources we need to maintain the infrastructure of this region. Whether it’s the newspapers, community centers, or schools, these physical structures are anchors to this region and they need to be maintained. If we overlook these needs, we are seriously endangering the very existence of our diaspora.

Another issue is more broadly cultural, in a sense. We are a political organization, and yet we live in the larger, American culture that is often apolitical, especially among the youth. The ARF is not for everyone, and yet we must find ways for those interested in political or community activism to find their way to us. This has always been something to overcome for the ARF, particularly in the United States.

This, of course, is also a concern for our entire family of organizations. Lastly, our political work often pits us against various levels of the U.S. government, especially when we have issues relating to Turkey, a close ally of the United States. Believe me, it is not easy to face such a mighty power, but the ARF has never backed down from any challenge facing the Armenian nation, and it never will.

AW: Have any difficulties arisen within the organization?

HO: Occasionally, one or another of our family of organizations faces a particular difficulty. For example, due to the improprieties of an individual member, the Homenetmen is now facing serious issues. The individual in question was both a member of the Homenetmen and the ARF. As leaders of our community, we have never allowed and cannot allow moral, ethical or legal misdeeds on the part of any of our members. In this case, the ARF has expelled the individual in question from its ranks. The Homenetmen is also pursuing all possible recourse, including legal ones, in order to resolve the matter. We are certain that the Homenetmen will overcome its current difficulties with the support of our family of organizations and our entire community.

AW: What is the role of the Central Committee within the framework of the ARF?

HO: The Eastern Region Central Committee has seven members, and each of us assumes certain responsibilities. As chairperson, I oversee the work of the Central Committee, deal with organizational matters, and maintain formal ties with the Eastern Prelacy and other bodies, as well as national-level leaders. I also serve as liaison with the ARS.
Garo Ketsemanian is the vice chairperson of the Central Committee. His responsibilities include overseeing activities in Armenia and Artsakh, as well as maintaining ties with Hamazkayin. Alex Sarafian is responsible for the finances of the organization.
Antranig Kasbarian is the liaison to our media, and to our political operations.
John Jerikian maintains ties with the Homenetmen and the Armenian Cultural Association of America. Steve Mesrobian is the Central Committee representative to the AYF, and participates in all the youth activities. Angel Manoogian is responsible for the various fundraising efforts in the region. Fundraisers that we organize or oversee include ANC-related fundraisers, Central Committee fundraisers, Hairenik Building fundraisers, as well as fundraisers for activities in Artsakh, Armenia and Javakhk. The Central Committee also maintains an endowment fund for donations to specific projects within the region. As an example, the most request bequest was a $50,000 donation in the will of Gosdan Bozajian for publication projects of the Hairenik Association.

AW: How has the ARF maintained its strong presence in light of other organizations that have formed in the community?

HO: While there have been other organizations, and occasionally individuals who initiate projects, the ARF is the only organization that has continuously been engaged in the community. The presence of the ARF along with its family of organizations and the continuing existence of the community are inextricably tied to one another. As we are strong and effective, so the community is better able to maintain itself.

The ARF is armed with 100 years of experience. Its capacity to always adapt to changing conditions—while keeping the principles and beliefs on which the organization was founded—has given it the ability to play this role within the diasporan communities of our nation.

This relationship and continuity is critical not only in terms of experience, but also in terms of being able to initiate and to follow through, even if the time frame is one of years. And so the ARF not only works to maintain the structure of the community, it also provides the impetus to move the community forward into the future.

I want to emphasize, however, that although I am referring to the ARF, our effort has always been a collaborative one. We have always welcomed the participation of others, because our ultimate aim has been the well-being of the Armenian nation in the homeland and diaspora.

It is only with the help and trust of our community that we have achieved, together, what we have accomplished. I am certain that this essential work will continue, and that together, we will achieve for us here and our nation everywhere, what we all sacrifice and hope for.

Human Rights Watch: Armenia: Violence At Polling Stations Mars Elections Assailants Target Opposition Activists, Observers And Journalists

(New York, February 22, 2008) – The Armenian government should investigate alleged assaults on election observers and journalists that marred the presidential election on February 19, 2008, Human Rights Watch said today. According to victim testimonies taken by Human Rights Watch, assailants beat and threatened opposition party activists, domestic observers, and journalists who attempted to document election fraud at polling stations during the presidential vote.

“These election-day attacks targeted the very people trying to ensure the integrity of Armenia’s vote,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Armenian government should carry out independent and speedy investigations to ensure justice is served and to send the message that intimidation won’t be tolerated.”

On February 20, the Central Election Commission declared Prime Minister Serzh Sargsian the winner of the elections with 52.8 percent of the vote. Sargsian had the backing of current president Robert Kocharian. Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosian was the main opposition challenger and won 21.5 percent, according to official tallies.

In nine cases documented by Human Rights Watch, assailants intimidated, threatened, and even violently attacked opposition party activists, domestic observers and journalists at eight polling stations in and around the capital, Yerevan. Victims variously described their assailants as “big guys,” “athletic,” “tough,” and apparently supporters of Sargsian. Most victims had been attempting to expose what they believed to be violations of electoral rules, such as incorrect voters’ lists, intimidation of voters, violations of the right to a secret ballot, and ballot-box stuffing. None of the victims was able or willing to return to the polling station to continue observing the voting.

In several incidents, the assaults took place in the presence of police and polling station officials who did not intervene, and in one case a police officer appeared to assist the assailants. Some victims reported the attacks to police, who are investigating.

Human Rights Watch called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to look into election-related violence and ensure that its final report on the vote records these incidents.

In one case documented by Human Rights Watch, assailants grabbed a Ter-Petrosian proxy (a candidate’s authorized representative) at a polling station in Yerevan, forced her into a car and drove her to a remote area. There, they beat her in the head and face, threatened to rape her and attack her family, and abandoned her. She eventually made her way to a police station where she filed a complaint. She is still suffering from headaches and other medical repercussions of the attack.

At least three journalists were attacked. Lusine Barsegian of the newspaper Haikakan Zhamankak was beaten, and had her camera and voice recorder stolen, when she attempted to document what she believed to be intimidation of voters at a polling station in Yerevan’s Erebuni district. A cameraman from the independent A1+ television station was beaten and had his camera taken at the same polling station. Two domestic election observers, Armen Matirosian, a member of parliament from the opposition Heritage party, and Zarui Postandjian, an observer from a nongovernmental organization, were also attacked at this polling station after they tried to raise alleged election violations with polling station officials.

The OSCE election monitors stated that the elections were held “mostly in line” with international commitments.

Tens of thousands of Ter-Petrosian supporters took to the streets in downtown Yerevan on February 20 and 21 to protest the outcome of the elections and what they believe to be widespread electoral fraud.

“The Armenian authorities should ensure that no harm is done to peaceful demonstrators,” said Cartner. “Armenia claims to be a democratic country, and that means allowing people to exercise their right to freedom of assembly.”

Armenia has a history of flawed elections and harassment of opposition parties. In March 2003, Human Rights Watch documented widespread ballot stuffing and intimidation during Armenia’s presidential election runoff. Human Rights Watch documented mass arrests of opposition supporters, violent dispersals of demonstrations, and raids on opposition party headquarters in April 2004. The protests derived from the government’s failure to address the many violations of electoral rules documented in the 2003 presidential election.

Details of Assaults

Yerevan
Polling station 13/16
Lusine Barsegian, a journalist for Haikakan Zhamankak told Human Rights Watch she went to polling station 13/16 in the Erebuni district of Yerevan at approximately 2 p.m. on February 19. When she arrived, she saw that the polling station was very overcrowded. Some unidentified people were talking to voters in what she believed to be an attempt to influence their votes, and other people were observing the voters closely as they cast their ballots. Barsegian attempted to interview the central election commission representative responsible for the polling station about the apparent violations. At that point, policemen and a few unidentified men forced her out of the polling station. Barsegian protested, saying, “I have the right to be here. I have the right to take photographs.”

With the assistance of Armen Matirosian, a member of parliament from the Heritage party, who was an authorized election observer, Barsegian again entered to the polling station. When she again attempted to take photographs, an unidentified man in plainclothes kicked her in the stomach and grabbed her camera and voice recorder. Other men also punched and kicked Matirosian. According to Barsegian, police stood by and did not intervene. After this attack, Barsegian and Matirosian fled the station and filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office.

When Zarui Postandjian, an observer from the nongovernmental organization Against State Violence, heard about the incident, she went to polling station 13/16. Upon arriving, she saw a severely overcrowded polling station and police and unidentified people observing voters as they marked their ballots. Postandjian has stated that she tried to take photos of the polling station when a policeman came up from behind her and hit her. At the same time, an unidentified man tried to grab her camera, and both he and the policeman punched her. Another observer came to assist her, and they both fled. Postandjian did not return to the polling station. Postandjian filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, which opened a criminal investigation.

Arabkir district
Reuben Armanian, a proxy for Ter-Petrosian, went to polling station 4/26 in Arabkir at approximately 7:30 p.m. to replace some of his colleagues who had been observing the conduct of the voting during the day. He told Human Rights Watch that when he arrived, a group of 40 to 50 athletic-looking men were standing in and near the polling station. Approximately 10 of these men attacked Armanian, punching him on the head and body. “What could I do but look for a way to escape them?” Armanian told Human Rights Watch. “I ran 10-20 meters and no one followed me. But I couldn’t return to the polling station because these guys were still there.” Photos, obtained by Human Rights Watch, of Armanian two days after the attack show him with a severely black and swollen right eye.

Human Rights Watch also received reports that at least two other proxies and observers were attacked at polling stations in Arabkir. One victim was too afraid to speak to Human Rights Watch out of fear of repercussions.

Kentron district
Hovsep Hovsepian, a cameraman with the independent A1+ television station heard about election violations at polling station 9/6 in the Kentron district of Yerevan. Hovsepian told Human Rights Watch that when he got out of his car at the polling station, a large group of unidentified men who had gathered outside the polling station attacked him and attempted to take his camera. When Hovsepian resisted, one of the men kicked him in the stomach and grabbed the camera. The assailants took the video cassette out of the camera, smashed it, and prepared to destroy the camera as well. At that moment, the driver of the car came out and the men began to attack him instead. Hovsepian and the driver broke free of the attackers, returned to the car and left the polling station.

Unidentified district #1
An opposition party proxy who did not want to be identified out of concerns for his safety told Human Rights Watch that at a polling station in one Yerevan district he saw violations of election regulations and asked that the election commission officials respond. After a few minutes, a group of 15 to 20 people attacked him, punching and kicking him until he lost consciousness. He was then taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He suffered broken ribs and pain in his kidneys as a result of the beating.

Unidentified district #2
One Ter-Petrosian supporter who asked not to be identified also described to Human Rights Watch how assailants removed him from a polling station, forced him into a car and drove him away. At a location unknown to the victim, a large group of men beat him severely in the head and body, saying that they were beating him because of his support of the opposition. As a result, the victim suffered several broken ribs.

Abovian, about 20 kilometers from Yerevan
Larissa Tadevosian, a proxy for Ter-Petrosian, has told Human Rights Watch that she went to polling station 28/7 in Abovian at approximately 7:30 a.m. Three large, athletic men approached her, and two of them dragged her out of the polling station. Tadevosian struggled to free herself, but was dragged across the yard and shoved into a car. The three men drove Tadevosian to a deserted area outside the town. After taking her out of the car, one man beat her on the head and face. “They told me that I should be silent and not say anything more about the elections,” she told Human Rights Watch. “They threatened to rape me. They threatened to harm my family.” The men then left Tadevosian in the deserted area and drove away.

Tadevosian was unable to return to the polling station because of her condition. She went directly to the police, who ordered a forensic medical examination. Two days after the attack, she complained of headaches, dizziness, and other medical problems.

Gurgen Eghizarian, a proxy for Ter-Petrosian and a former deputy head of the National Security Service, received information that election observers at polling station 28/6 in Abovian had been kidnapped and beaten. He has stated that he went to the polling station together with Erjan Abgarian, a 68-year-old Ter-Petrosian proxy and former head of the customs service. Election commission representatives and observers there denied that they had seen anything happen to the observers, but Eghizarian demanded that the senior election commission representative sign a statement about what had happened. While at the polling station, a group of seven or eight men armed with pistols attacked Eghizarian, his son, and Abgarian, beating them on the kidneys, ribs, and back. Eghizarian told Human Rights Watch that the men also threatened him and the others saying, “Sargsian will be president, and if you go against him, you will be killed.” He suffers headaches and has a bruise on his forehead as a result of the assault.

A senior official for Ter-Petrosian told Human Rights Watch that at least three other proxies were beaten in Abovian on election day.

Another Ter-Petrosian proxy who wished to remain anonymous told Human Rights Watch that large, athletic men would arrive periodically at another polling station in Abovian and would take prospective voters aside “for a little chat,” apparently in order to influence their votes. These same men also spoke to election commission officials, observers, and candidates’ proxies, and threatened them should they speak out about any violations. This same proxy told Human Rights Watch that in mid-afternoon some men took him aside and threatened him and told him, “You didn’t see anything.” He claimed that these men were responsible for stealing and falsifying ballots and stuffing the ballot box at this polling station. Police stood by and did not respond. This proxy stated that he continued to fear for his safety and had sent his children to another location and was reluctant to leave his own apartment.

hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/21/armeni18128.htm


Obama Will Be Good For The Turks -- And The World
February 22, 2008, Vural CENGIZ

Armenian issue should not be the only criterion for American Turks to judge among the presidential hopefuls

Democrat presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama declared that he approves 1915 events to be called “genocide,” and Turkish-American voters turned sour. A week later, Senator Clinton had sent a letter arguing “Armenian Genocide” is real. Turkish-Americans got confused. Who would they vote for? No hope for the Turks?

In fact, neither politicians really meant to say anything about the historic events between Turks and Armenians. They just want the Armenian-American votes. Would they really ever officially accept Armenian claims? I do not think so. Everyone needs to understand one thing: American presidents work for American national interests, not Armenian ones.

The same movie all over again:
Armenian-Americans are seeing the same movie all over again. Support a leader, get a promise, work hard to carry a resolution against not only Ottoman Empire but also the modern Turkish Republic, and get disappointed at the end. Neither Armenian-Americans nor other Armenians can see the reality: We are living in the era of healing and peace, not hatred and revenge. They could not see the reality but all American presidents could.

Next act will be the same because there are Turks as well as Armenians in American society. America's most famous tennis player is an Armenian; however, most its famous doctor is a Turk. Richest home-builder was an Armenian while the richest music developer was a Turk. United States is a melting pot and it is important that all minorities feel at home here.

There are many aspects of Turkish-American relations. Yes, Armenian hate resolutions are important for Turks. None of us enjoy our ancestors being called monsters. Since we are not calling anyone's ancestors monsters after losing millions to wars and revolts, I believe we have right to do so.

Turks and Americans have many other issues to work on together. Cleaning up our countries from chemical waste, using our landfills to generate power and usable goods, turning solar and wind power to energy, helping poverty in the Middle-East - are to name the few.

A new president with better understanding of environmental issues as well as social ones would be such an excellent asset for not only the United States but also for the world. Europeans, Asians, Africans looking for a different U.S. President who understands environmental issues and supports new acts to clean the planet and turn the global warming off.

Barack Obama can be the leader that the world is looking for. He can put a new list of criteria to judge what is good and bad for American people. He can stop the hate wars between Muslims and Christians by promoting peace and helping the communities in need. He can be the one to stop dropping the bombs and start sending the doctors, food and clothing as well as capital to create more jobs, to build more hospitals and schools all over the world.

Can't Hillary be one? Not really. Since she wants all the credit for her husband's administration saying she was the one involved totally, this is the time to consider if she had her chance already. Did she really do what Obama is promising to do? Not at all.

Our world is experience severals wars at the same time today. In addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, people of Palestine, Tibet, the Uyghur region of China, Darfur, Kenya and many other small countries are suffering active wars. Many other nations such as Uzbeks, Saudis, Chinese and Syrians live without democratic rights under dictatorships. We cannot really say that President Bush is doing much to change the situation if we are smart enough to see the war in Iraq is not really for the Iraqis.

Look at the bigger picture:
The United States needs a completely new President to change her image and to make a difference in the world for better with her own actions. American politics “as usual” is not going to be enough to give hope to nations of the planet including Turks. As a part of the planet's populace, Turks need American actions to be changed totally.

Turks do not have high hopes about the future as long as American politics in Iraq continue as usual. Help in the war against the terrorist PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party) from United States in the last two months gave some hope to many Turks about the United States. However, Turks will not feel friendly to the US as long as they don't feel that America's Iraq politics is completely changed. And it looks like only Obama can change it.

Africa is the sleeping power of the world. It has a young population. It has invaluable mines, diamonds, gold, and oil. So Africa can be the star of 21st century if the right politics are developed by the superpower and its new leader. If Africa succeeds, it would be good for all nations.

Barack Obama is an African-American. He knows suffering, hunger and danger much better than Senator Clinton. He is not a rich man. He understands the issues of poor and middle-class families. He also understands poor and middle-class nations. Turkey stands right there. He is good for Turks, as well as the rest of the world..

Vural Cengiz is the president of the Turkish-American Businessmen's Union. He can be contacted at vurcen@yahoo.com.


Questions Of No Importance by Burak BEKDIL
February 22, 2008

Religion is a dangerous thing as it relates to ‘indoctrination.’ Such indoctrination may cause confusion and, as in my case, provoke a list of silly questions. But did God not tell us to 'use our minds?'

Religion is a dangerous thing to play with as it relates to ‘indoctrination.' Such indoctrination may cause confusion and, as in my case, provoke a list of silly questions. But did God not tell us to “use our minds?”

1. Is it not a breach of the constitutional article on secularism when lawmakers amend the Constitution with the aim of easing educational rules so as to allow a religious manifestation of a select sect of a select religion?

2. If the Constitution can be amended so that members of a select sect of a select religion can practice their faith, can it not also be amended so as to allow the same people who would wish to practice their faith in other ways? For example, why “oppress” a pious Muslim who would wish to practice another verse (3:4) by marrying up to four women? Or someone who wishes to make a not-so-friendly speech on Jews and Christians based on Koranic verses (5:13, 14, 51; 9:30; 60:8, 9)? Are these not practices explicitly mentioned in the Koran? Why constitutional liberties for a group who wish to practice a non-existent verse, but “oppression” against those who might wish to practice existing verses?

3. The Koran says women should not expose their beauty and ornaments to men, but it does not say hair should not be exposed. Is putting on make-up not “exposing beauty?” Is putting on make-up not a female practice based on the motive of looking “more beautiful, prettier (than one really is)” to the others? Has anyone ever seen a lady in a prison's women's cell regularly putting on make-up? Do the ladies not want to look prettier to their cell-mates? If so, why? Why do pious women with the turban and in make-up expose their “made-up” beauties to the others (including men), but not their hair? Do they use “halal make-up?” Do they put on mascara produced with prayers? A lipstick produced exclusively for Muslim women? (Note: The term ‘halal make-up' belongs to my lovely cousin who lives in the cornfields of Arizona)

4. Is gambling not a sin in Islam? Is betting not gambling? How much money does the Turkish government make every year from administering betting and lotteries?

5. Is drinking not a sin in Islam? How much in billions of new liras does the Turkish government make every year in taxes and levies on alcohol? Is it “halal” when the government earns from alcohol consumption and spends in, say, buildings mosques and financing a fat budget for religious affairs (Diyanet)?

6. Is “al-riba – usury” not a sin in Islam? Is the Turkish Treasury not paying one of the highest real interest rates (al-riba?) in the world? Or is earning al-riba a sin, but paying is not?

7. Can Muslims make friends with Jews and Christians although the Koran explicitly says they should not (5:51)? Would a Muslim who makes friends with Jews and Christians “be one of them” as 5:51 says? Or is this a verse not applicable in peace time, as a top Diyanet bureaucrat and a theologian recently said?

8. Are there “part-time verses”? Verses that apply in certain times and do not in others? If yes, which ones are they? If no, why 5:51 is a “special case?” Is 5:51 “sui generis” like Kosovo?

9. Why does a former president of Diyanet say covering the head is not a commandment of God, when his successor says it is? Which one of the two presidents should the Muslims believe? Since there are no spiritual leaders in Islam who have the authority to “speak on behalf of God,” with what authority do theologians speak? Does studying theology give certain Muslims the authority to “speak on behalf of God” over the others? In Islam, does the farmer in some remote corner of Anatolia not have equal rights in interpreting the Koran as the president of Diyanet? Is the president's interpretation “holier” than the farmer's, or mine? Are the Ulema like bishops and cardinals and the Pope?

10. Is Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, who recently proposed sharia in Britain, a secret recruit of the Fethullah Gülen school? Since that school is remarkably efficient in recruiting devout Muslim missionaries disguised as wine-drinking (and even pork-eating) men with wives without the turban, how probable is it that the pope one day makes a public speech in which he confesses he is a pious Muslim and a faithful member of the Gülen school?

11. How successful could the global “all-pious-of-the-world-unite!” project be? When all pious of the world have united, having crushed all the damned atheists and the less pious, could their tactical cooperation continue, or will they begin to slaughter each other, this time, as part of a “convert-to-my-religion-you-infidel!” project?

12. How does Islam regard homosexuality? How would Recep Tayyip Erdogan incorporate the EU practice on gay rights with the Koranic verses on homosexuality? Which way would he go for, when they would inevitably clash? Would he consider homosexuals as equal to heterosexuals, like the EU does, or would he apply the Muslim rules on homosexuality? If he goes for the former, would he not be “deviating” from the holy way?

13. If the Turkish state is at equal distance to all faiths, why do the constitutional amendments aim to liberalize selected attire featuring a selected sect of a selected religion? Is this not discrimination against all who do not fall into the category of non-pious Sunni Muslims – and who might wish to manifest Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, theist or any other religious symbol on campuses?

14. If pious Sunni Muslims can have the privilege of forcing lawmakers into constitutional amendments to pave the way for a campus manifestation, what other privileges can they have in other areas of public administration? Since “the others” are not as powerful as the pious Sunni Muslims (as evinced by the fact that the constitutional amendments exclusively target this majority) can they be “equal citizens?” Since Mr. Erdogan's government is at equal distance to all faiths and every Turkish citizen is equal, why does Turkey not have a Jewish-Turkish general, or a Greek-Turkish diplomat or an Armenian-Turkish undersecretary? Can this be a pure coincidence?

15. Is premeditated deception not a sin in Islam?


Turkey Wishes Normal Ties With Armenia
February 22, 2008, Fulya Özerkan Ankara – Turkish Daily News

Yerevan’s policies over the last 10 years have brought no solutions to problems with Turkey or Azerbaijan and Sarksyan will take this into consideration, says retired ambassador Lütem

President Abdullah Gül congratulated Serzh Sarksyan yesterday on winning the presidential election in neighboring Armenia and hoped that the election result will help normalize bilateral ties.

“I hope your new position will offer an opportunity for the normalization of relations between the Turkish and Armenian peoples who have proved over the centuries that they can live together in peace and harmony,” Gül said in the message, according to the Presidency's press office.

The president wished that their joint efforts will help create an atmosphere based on reciprocal trust and cooperation that will eventually contribute to regional peace and prosperity.

Sarksyan, 53, garnered 52.86 percent of the votes in Tuesday's election with many here considering the election outcome as the victory of status quo. Sarksyan, like his predecessor Robert Kocharian, is seen in Ankara as a hardliner.

“Under normal circumstances it is quite predictable that Sarksyan will pursue a similar policy toward Turkey like that of Kocharian because the two have been close colleagues for a decade,” said retired Ambassador Ömer Engin Lütem, director of the Institute for Armenian Research at the Ankara-based Eurasian Strategic Studies Center.

Armenia's policies over the last 10 years have brought no solution to the problems with Turkey or Azerbaijan, he added. “Indeed, Armenia has been isolated in the region … I believe that Sarksyan will take this into consideration.”

Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia and closed its border more than a decade ago in protest to Armenian troops' occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azerbaijani territory.

No early steps predicted

But unlike many political observers, Lütem expects that Sarksyan will take bolder steps to normalize relations with Turkey.

“If you ask me when this will happen I don't know but obviously it will not happen very soon,” he added and explained that urgent and early steps could cost Sarksyan seriously and lead to hesitation among the Armenian nationalists who voted for him.

Feryal Orhon Basik of Istanbul University disagreed that Sarksyan will adopt a milder approach for a resolution of problems with Turkey.

“State policies remain unchanged regardless of whichever leader comes to power,” she said. “The Armenian diaspora will never give up on their indemnity claims.”

Turkey and Armenia are also at loggerheads over Ankara's refusal to acknowledge as genocide the killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-16.

Basik argued that the Armenian diaspora and the Armenian church had insistently pushed for recognition of the genocide allegations on every platform since 1915 and said this policy will continue in the upcoming period.

Turkey strongly denies Armenian genocide claims and suggests an independent commission of historians be established to study the allegations.


Armenian Prime Minister Sarkisian Wins Presidency
February 21, 2008 YEREVAN - AP
Complete election returns showed that Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian has won Armenia's presidential vote, the election commission chief said yesterday. The opposition claims the vote was rigged and several thousand supporters protested in the capital. Riot police were dispatched to the election commission headquarters.

A preliminary count of the ballots cast nationwide showed Sarkisian had nearly 53 percent of the vote in Tuesdays election, Central Election Commission chief Garegin Azarian said - enough to win outright and avoid a runoff. Top opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian had 21.5 percent, Azarian said.

Opposition claims fraud:
Ter-Petrosians backers have alleged widespread fraud, and a crowd that swelled to more than 15,000 gathered in a central Yerevan square near the Central Election Commission building to protest the results. The commission headquarters, a five-minute walk from the square, was cordoned off by metal barriers, and a few dozen helmeted riot police with truncheons stood guard. Police patrolled streets near the protest.

A senior Ter-Petrosian aide, Nikol Pashinian, urged the crowd to stand up for justice. "It would be a crime on our part to leave the country to this criminal regime," Pashinian said.

Sarkisian was groomed by outgoing President Robert Kocharian and was widely expected to win, in part because of favorable media coverage and support from the state bureaucracy. He has also benefited from economic improvements in recent years.

Ter-Petrosian accused the authorities of resorting to ballot-stuffing, vote-buying and beating his activists who monitored the election. He asserted that he was actually the winner.

"These figures have nothing to do with reality, we are overwhelmingly ahead of them," his spokesman, Arman Museian, said of the results announced by the election commission.

A candidate needed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Concerns over instability:
The allegations of fraud and threats of mass protests raised concerns over instability in the volatile, strategic country at the juncture of the energy-rich Caspian Sea region and southern Europe and bordering Iran.

"I have no doubt that the authorities have falsified the election and I will protest with all those who also feel cheated," Simon Grigorian, a 38-year-old engineer, said at the protest.

Observers from a Moscow-led group of ex-Soviet republics as well as from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were monitoring the vote, and the OSCE was to release its assessment later Wednesday.

Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian - Armenias first president after the 1991 Soviet collapse - were the two top contenders vying to lead the South Caucasus nation, where more than a quarter of its 3.2 million people live in poverty despite some economic progress in recent years.

The election campaign was dominated by the countrys economic revival and efforts to resolve the status of Nagorno-Karabakh - a mountainous region in neighboring Azerbaijan that has been under ethnic Armenian control since a cease-fire ended six years of fighting in 1994.

Kosovos declaration of independence from Serbia on Sunday added an element of uncertainty for Armenians, many of whom see clear analogies between Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian government says the region should be recognized as a sovereign state, while Azerbaijan says it will never cede its territory.

Armenia experienced an economic collapse after the Soviet breakup and in the face of blockades by Azerbaijan and its key ally Turkey.

The blockades have hamstrung Armenias economy and cut it out of lucrative regional energy and transport projects.

The U.S., whose large Armenian diaspora has a strong lobby in Congress, has poured some US$1.7 billion (1.15 billion) in aid into the country since 1991, encouraging economic and political liberalization.

Armenia is eligible for millions more in U.S. aid, but a questionable election could jeopardize Washington's support.


As Result Of Re-Count In 34 Polling Stations, Sargsyan Lost 337 Votes
22.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ As result of re-count in 34 polling stations, Serzh Sargsyan lost 337 votes; Levon Ter-Petrosyan lost 1 vote; Vahan Hovhannisian lost 7 votes; Tigran Karapetyan lost 4 votes.

Atrur Baghdassaryan and Aram Harutyunyan gained 5 and 3 votes respectively. Vazgen Manukyan and Arman Melikyan received 1 extra vote each.

The number of invalid ballots increased by 21. The results remained unchanged in 12 polling stations. The recount was launched in 21 polling stations in Yerevan, 2 in Aragatsotn, 4 in Kotayk, 2 in Shirak and 5 in Lori regions, reported Serzh Sargsyan’s election staff.


“My Mother Tongue” : Greek, Armenian and Ladino
Bia News Centre 21-02-2008 Nayat KARAKÖSE-Gökçe GÜNDÜÇ-Avi HALIGUA

The Greek population is dwindling, and the Armenian and Ladino languages have also suffered from assimilation policies over the last decades. New generations may not speak the languages of their grandparents anymore.

The accounts of people with native languages other than Turkish, written for bianet on occasion of the International Mother Language Day (21 February) all resonate with the same feelings and thoughts: the “other” languages have been silenced, hidden, and thus not developed.

Lack of formal teaching and/or lack of societal recognition of the languages has meant that there is a danger or reality of new generations not learning them anymore.

Greek, Kurdish, Bosnian, Ladino, Arabic, Armenian, …they have all experience assimilation policies in Turkey.
Greek population dwindling

We spoke to Mihail Vasiliadis, the editor of the Apoyevmatini newspaper. He said that with the forced migration of Greeks from Turkey (“Rum”) in 1964, the population dropped from 100,000 to under 3,000.

“The reduction in the population has also made it difficult to speak the language. There are around 2,000 Greek-speaking Rum among the 70 million Turks. Families have even started to use Turkish.”

The editor has also pointed to the pervasive influence of TV on the young generation: “The new generation grew up with Turkish. Of course everyone must know the state’s official language. But they must also be able to use their own languages at the same level.”

Because the Greek spoken in Turkey is identical with the Greek of Greece, there is no danger of the language dying out; however, there is a question of linguistic competence.

“There used to be a Greek school in every neighbourhood of Istanbul. Now there are only three high schools and five primary schools.”

The Apoyevmatini has got a circulation of 600, but Vasiliadis still insists on publishing only in Greek in order to keep the language alive.
"Not as well as the language deserves"

Nayat Karaköse, an “Armenian living in Turkey”, wrote about her experiences with her experience of “not being able to speak, read or write Armenian as well as it deserves.” Although she attended an Armenian school until third grade, she then asked her parents to take her out because she was unhappy.

She blames her unhappiness on the pressure children feel when learning two languages at once, with different alphabets. Her parents, friends and relatives all warned her not to forget her Armenian, but she says:

“Every day as I was growing up, I neglected Armenian. Years passed and I learned English, French, a lot of Italian, but I had thrown my own mother tongue to the side and forgotten more and more of it.”

She nevertheless feels grateful for being able to speak the language, while today many Armenian children do not know their mother tongue anymore.
"Loss of language is not the most vital issue"

Avi Haligua speaks of the loss of Ladino, the Spanish dialect spoken by the descendants of the Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition and coming to Constantinople, today Istanbul, in the 15th Century. He himself was brought up speaking Turkish and says, “For the third generation, most people will not speak [Ladino].”

“All my memories connected to Ladino belong to my childhood. I only know the terms of endearment well in that language.”

Haligua writes that in the nation-building process, the Republic wanted one language only, one result of which was the “Citizen speak Turkish” campaign of 1928.

Erdogan's double standards
He says, cynically, that the assimilation which Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan denounced as a “crime against humanity” in Germany recently, was applied strictly in Turkey.

However, for Haligua the main problem is not the loss of the language; as long as the different people in Turkey, be they a headscarved student, a Kurd forced to migrate, a Senegalese “illegal migrant”, a writer sentenced under Article 301, or a worker forced to work under slave conditions, are not treated as people, then there will be no peaceful coexistence. (GG/NK/TK/AH/AG)


Babacan: Turkey Stands For “Return Of Karabakh To Azerbaijan”
21.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey stands for return of Nagrono Karabakh to Azerbaijan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said in Moscow at a joint news conference with Sergei Lavrov.

“Our country repeatedly spoke about the necessity to resolve frozen conflicts in the South Caucasus. We support the UN Resolutions on the issue and stand for liberation of seized territories,” he said, RIA Novosti reports.

The Nagorno Karabakh conflict is dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Group, represented by Russia, France and the U.S. Armenia insists in a package resolution of the conflict while Azerbaijan prefers a stepwise resolution which supposes return of territories to Azerbaijan, return of Azeri refugees and only then talks on Karabakh’s status.



Thousands Challenge Armenian Pm's Presidential Poll Win
Thousands of opposition supporters rallied for a second straight day in Armenia's capital Thursday, claiming the
presidential election was rigged and vowing to protest until a new vote is held.

More than 25,000 gathered in a square outside Yerevan's opera house, urging the authorities to declare Tuesday's election invalid and call a new one. Election officials said Wednesday that Prime Minister Serge Sarkisian _ the favored successor of outgoing President Robert Kocharian -- received almost 53 percent of the vote, enough to win the presidency outright.

Thousands of opposition supporters gathered in Armenia's capital for a second day on Thursday and said they would not leave until the victory of Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan in a presidential election is overturned.

Official results gave Sarksyan, a close ally of outgoing President Robert Kocharyan, 52.86 percent in a vote on Tuesday that Western observers said had been broadly fair. Sarksyan has pledged to continue his predecessor's policies. His chief opponent, former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, alleged the vote was distorted by ballot-stuffing and intimidation of opposition activities. Official results gave him 21.5 percent of the vote. Perched high in the Caucasus mountains, Armenia is in a region emerging as a key transit route for energy supplies from the Caspian Sea to world markets, though it has no pipelines of its own. Reuters reporters at the protest on Freedom Square, outside Yerevan's opera house, said between 15,000 and 20,000 demonstrators had gathered on Thursday -- roughly the same number that protested the day before. "Our protest will be permanent,"said Nikol Pashinyan, a senior aide to Ter-Petrosyan. "We demand that the Central Election Commission declare the election invalid and call a new election," he said.

Authorities have not given permission for the protest but police kept a low-key presence and did not try to intervene.

In a statement, 53-year-old Sarksyan said he would not allow the protests to drag the ex-Soviet state of 3.2 million people into turmoil. He said the vote was fair. "Every person has the right to freedom of speech but any ... attempt to provoke instability is not permissible in a democratic country," he said. Sarksyan will take over a country with a growing economy but which is hampered by disputes with two of its neighbors, Azerbaijan and Turkey. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war in the 1990s over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, and some analysts warn it could flare again into fighting.
22.02.2008 Reuters Yerevan


Gül Congratulates Sarksyan, Calls For ‘Normalization’ Of Ties
President Abdullah Gül yesterday sent a message of congratulation to Serzh Sarksyan, the winner of Armenia's presidential elections, saying that he hoped Sarksyan's victory would lead to a "normalization" of relations between their estranged countries.

"I hope your new position ... will permit the creation of the necessary environment for normalizing relations between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, who have proven over centuries they can live together in peace and harmony," Gül said in his message, which was released by the president's press office. "I sincerely hope that ... an atmosphere based on reciprocal trust and cooperation can be established that will contribute to regional peace and prosperity," Gül noted in the message.

Ankara has recognized Yerevan since the former Soviet republic won 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 that 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 the recognition of the killings as genocide and make progress in its dispute with Baku before formal diplomatic relations can be established.

Groomed by outgoing President Robert Kocharian, Sarksyan has vowed to continue the policies of the incumbent president.

Sarksyan, a 52-year-old former welder, is from Nagorno-Karabakh -- as is Kocharian, a notorious hard-liner. Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory inside Azerbaijan that has been controlled by Armenian and local ethnic Armenian forces since a six-year war which ended in 1994. Tensions remain high between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Sarksyan was at Kocharian's side in the separatist administration during the war.
22.02.2008 Today's Zaman Ankara


Foundations Law Pleases Neither Nationalists Nor Minorities
Turkey's nationalist politicians have stated that they are most uneasy about a law ratified by Parliament on Wednesday to return properties confiscated by the state to non-Muslim religious minority foundations, while the minorities in question have said they too find the law dissatisfactory.

The law also allows minority foundations to receive funding from foreign countries. Nationalists say allowing minority foundations too much freedom in their dealings with foreign countries would run contrary to the principle of reciprocity, as not all Turkish foundations in foreign countries have the same rights. Non-Muslims state that they are offended by this argument, saying it turns them into hostages in their own country. However, minority groups say despite some improvements in their property rights, the new law risks exacerbating the problems of non-Muslim minority foundations.

The EU has long been pressing Turkey to pass the measure that would allow the foundations belonging to minority groups to reclaim seized assets -- including churches, school buildings and orphanages -- that were registered in the names of saints. EU officials hailed the decision, including EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who said: "The adoption of the new law on foundations is a welcome step forward.

This is an important issue for Turkey, and one that all EU institutions have regularly highlighted as important to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms for all Turkish citizens."

The law would also allow Muslim foundations to receive financial aid from foreign countries. The reform appears designed to meet conditions set by the EU for Turkey's membership in the bloc.

Parliament passed the measure 242-72. President Abdullah Gül, a close associate of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is expected to approve the new legislation .

The improvements include allowing non-Muslim foundations to work together with organizations in foreign countries, establish branches and representation offices abroad, set up umbrella organizations and become members of organizations established abroad.

Nationalists are ill at ease with the law. Deputy leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Mehmet Sandir in evaluating Wednesday's vote on the minority bill said on Thursday in a statement he made to the press that his party has made all the warnings it possibly could against the law. "Why this persistence and obstinacy? Which problem of the nation will you be solving with this law?" he asked. Sandir said the law was passed not for the country and the nation but because the EU and the US demand it.

"From our perspective, this is no innocent law. It is an obvious attack on the sovereignty and independence of the Turkish nation. It is a violation of Lausanne, the European Human Rights Convention and the Constitution. This is a political decision, and it will have political consequences. It is a law of treason that is preparing a state similar to the partitioning and eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire."

Sandir, in a statement directed at the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said, "You cannot possibly defend such an extensive range of freedoms without violating the Treaty of Lausanne." It was in the 1923 Lausanne Treaty where most foreign powers recognized the current frontiers and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. He claimed that the future of Turkey was being pushed into chaos by the law. "This law has passed now but when we come to power we will annul this law," he said.

In a statement released a few days before the law was passed the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), which works together with committees representing minority groups, agreed, t that it was a violation of the 1923 treaty, but for an entirely different reason. "The present text of the draft is not acceptable because it violates the fundamental rights and liberties of non-Muslim citizens that are guaranteed under the Turkish Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne," TESEV said.

TESEV has appealed to the government and Parliament many times to listen to representatives of non-Muslim foundations and come up with a new bill, saying the one adopted on Wednesday was not capable of solving the problems of Turkey's minority foundations.

Meanwhile, State Minister Hayati Yazici, who provided information on the law, said Parliament had passed historical legislation. "From now on, wherever there are buildings left from Ottoman foundations in the world from Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, Syria to Algeria, Turkey will be restoring and maintaining these," he noted.

He said nobody had reason to have any suspicions about the law. "There is a sensitive republican government that protects rights and laws in every sphere. The only target of this government is to serve everyone equally," said Yazici.

Background on seizure of minority property

Turkey seized some properties owned by minority foundations in 1974 around the time of an intervention on Cyprus that followed a coup attempt by supporters of union with Greece.

The country's population of 70 million, mostly Muslim, includes 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 23,000 Jews and fewer than 2,500 Greek Orthodox Christians.

Parliament first approved the measure in November of 2006. But the president at the time, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, was a secularist who was often at odds with Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government, and he vetoed it.

Critics have said, however, that the measure makes no clear provision for assets that have since been sold on to other people.

Religious minorities have often complained of discrimination in Turkey, which has a history of conflict with Greece, a country that is predominantly Christian, and with Armenians, another mostly Christian group.
22.02.2008 Today's Zaman with wires Istanbul


Threatened Lawyer Denied Protection
More than two weeks have passed since a lawyer representing three Christians murdered last year in the southern province of Malatya requested that authorities provide him with protection after he was the subject of threats and intimidation on a number of occasions; his request has not yet been granted.

The case's third trial will take place in Malatya on Monday, when Orhan Kemal Cengiz will continue his work without any protection because a "bureaucratic examination" as to whether his demand is necessary has not yet been finalized.

Cengiz has worked as a human rights defender in Turkey for 15 years, including as a founding member of a number of human rights initiatives, including Amnesty International Turkey, and as a legal representative of human rights violations victims from across the spectrum. He currently serves as the president of the Human Rights Agenda Association.

Threats and intimidation directed at Cengiz have intensified since November last year, when the trial of those accused of killing the three men at the Zirve Publishing House began.

On April 18, 2007, Christian Turks Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel and Christian German national Tilman Geske were tied to their chairs, stabbed and tortured at the publishing house in the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya before their throats were slit. The publishing house they worked for printed Bibles and Christian literature. The killings drew international condemnation and added to Western concerns about whether Turkey can protect its religious minorities. Five people were arrested and charged with murder related to the incident.

The petition for protection penned by Cengiz and submitted to the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office is dated Feb. 8. After the prosecutor said that the issue was not in his realm of authority, Cengiz gave the same petition to the Ankara Governor's Office. Since then, whenever Cengiz has called authorities to inquire about the progress of his application a bodyguard, he has been met with the same reply: "We are examining your request and we have been collecting the views of different departments concerning it."

Despite the fact that the Turkish authorities have apparently considered both the threats against Cengiz and his request for protection to be trivial, Amnesty International issued an urgent action call for his protection on Feb. 13. While expressing concern that the threats against Cengiz are a direct result of his legitimate work as a lawyer and human rights defender, Amnesty International also called for a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the threats.

"It is not the first time that a lawyer is being threatened in this country just because of his legitimate profession. But it is the first time that a lawyer is simply being demonized and made into a target via serious disinformation," Cengiz said this week in an interview with Today's Zaman.

"I have been working as a human rights lawyer for the last 15 years and I am well known to human rights circles in Turkey and abroad. I cannot help thinking what kind of devastating effects this campaign would have on a person with less experience, with less of a support base and [less] networking around."

In November, Cengiz saw an article in a local newspaper in Malatya attributed to the Ihlas News Agency that included details he believes could only have been obtained through the interception of his telephone and electronic communications regarding the case. He later learned that a letter had been sent to the Malatya public prosecutor accusing Cengiz of involvement in the publishing house murders. The letter also contained other false information apparently designed to damage his reputation and make him a target.

In January of this year Cengiz received a letter -- the substance of which indicated it had been written by the same person or people who had sent the letter to the Malatya public prosecutor -- that purported to be a letter of support but in fact contained both veiled and direct threats to his safety.

'Semdinli is just the dragon's nose'
"All of these incidents clearly display that the killings in Malatya were not 'the job of five kids.' There is a power like a dragon that doesn't even bother to hide. In a case such as the Malatya murder trial, which is being closely watched by the world, they feel themselves free in their efforts to harass the victims' lawyers. This is the reflection of the general problem in Turkey onto a micro level," Cengiz said.

"This dragon showed its nose for the first time in the Semdinli case, which should be read as a milestone in this country," Cengiz continued, referring to the bombing of a bookstore in Semdinli in November 2005 that resulted in one death. In May 2007 the Supreme Court of Appeals quashed the 39-year sentences of two gendarmerie intelligence officers who were caught at the scene of the bombing.

"Semdinli is the milestone in devilish actions by paramilitary forces," he said, stressing that he considered the killing of a Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006, the murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink by an ultranationalist youth in January 2007 and the brutal attack in Malatya as further acts in the same vein.

"Ergenekon is the tip of even the tip of the iceberg," he said, referring to an operation against Ergenekon, a shadowy and illegal crime organization, some of whose members were arrested in a recent police crackdown.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that some circles within the state were had been disturbed by the operation against Ergenekon.

However Cengiz, who says he saw positive moves in the field of democratization by the government until one or two years ago, said the government cannot play "the aggrieved or disadvantaged party" in regard to this issue anymore.

"There is still room for hope; this opportunity to eliminate the so-called deep state has not been missed yet. But unfortunately I cannot see any governmental will to do so. Without having this issue resolved, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government will never be able to wield power, although being elected to power with a majority vote. There is an illness and this illness will also catch hold and [only] let this government go if it remains inactive."

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan once said that the AK Party knew well the value of rights and freedoms, referring to Erdogan's imprisonment in 1999 for reciting a poem at a public rally in Siirt that was determined to have violated Article 312 of the penal code then in force.

Following being charged and ahead of his imprisonment, Erdogan had called Cengiz and the two had a lengthy meeting in Istanbul upon the now-prime minister's request. At that time, Erdogan listened to Cengiz's professional advice and briefings concerning international law and his case. Hopefully, Erdogan will again give ear to Cengiz's views this time, both as a man of law and simply as a citizen.
22.02.2008 Emine Kart Ankara


Sarksyan Torn Between Realities And Maintaining The Status Quo
Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan walks onstage to address his supporters during a pre-election rally in Yerevan last weekend. Sarksyan won a clear victory in Tuesday’s presidential election and is now expected to stick to policies of outgoing President Robert Kocharian.

Taking a look at the political background of Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan, who won a clear victory in Tuesday's presidential election, one can hold little hope for a dramatic shift in the intransigent policies of Yerevan, which has put worldwide recognition of an alleged Armenian genocide at the heart of its foreign policy decision-making mechanism.

Yet facts on the ground, in particular the poverty in the volatile country, may force Sarksyan to bring a new tone to Armenia's well-known and established discourse since he will find challenging files on his desk when he eventually takes office.

The head of the election commission in Yerevan announced yesterday that complete election returns showed Sarksyan has won Armenia’s presidential vote, while the opposition claims the vote was rigged, with several thousand supporters protesting in the capital.

A preliminary count of the ballots cast nationwide showed Sarksyan had close to 53 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, Central Election Commission chief Garegin Azarian said -- enough to win outright and avoid a runoff. Top opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian had 21.5 percent, Azarian said.

Landlocked Armenia lies high in the Caucasus Mountains between Turkey and Azerbaijan, two states with which it has strained relations. The ex-Soviet republic has emerged as an important transit region for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets but lacks significant resources of its own.

Groomed by outgoing President Robert Kocharian, Sarksyan has vowed to continue the policies of the incumbent president.

Sarksyan, a 52-year-old former welder, is from Nagorno-Karabakh -- as is Kocharian, a notorious hard-liner. Nagorno-Karabakh is a territory inside Azerbaijan that has been controlled by Armenian and local ethnic Armenian forces since a six-year war which ended in 1994. Tensions remain high between Armenia and Azerbaijan, both ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus. Sarksyan was at Kocharian’s side in the separatist administration during the war. For nearly 15 years he has held senior posts in Armenia’s government, including those of defense minister and national security minister.

Hasan Selim Özertem, a Eurasia expert from the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/USAK), has maintained that Sarksyan will continue Kocharian’s intransigent approach on key issues closely related to Turkey.

“He has already pledged that he will not abandon policies pursued by Kocharian. As a leading member of ‘the Karabakh clan’, he will particularly maintain a nationalist attitude on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Meanwhile, he will deepen relations with Russia as well as with Iran,” Özertem told Today’s Zaman on Wednesday.

“If Petrosian was elected he might be expected to launch pragmatist initiatives on key issues concerning Turkey in the short term or at least in the medium term. In the past Petrosian had strongly argued that Armenia could become a powerful country only by improving its relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Though Petrosian may still try to stage a ‘colored revolution’ similar to those in Georgia and Ukraine, it will not be as effective,” Özertem also said.

Ankara has recognized Yerevan since the former Soviet republic won 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 which 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 the recognition of the killings as genocide and make progress in its dispute with Baku before formal diplomatic relations can be established.

Prominent Milliyet columnist and foreign policy expert Semih Idiz’s impression concerning the era of Sarksyan’s presidency is, however, quite different from that of Özertem.

Idiz, who was in Yerevan during election campaigning, held lengthy interviews with Armenian politicians and representatives of civil society there.

Sarksyan’s stance, which signals a firm continuation of Kocharian’s policies, is “the perception on the surface,” Idiz told Today’s Zaman yesterday.

“Yet one has to take into consideration the realities on the ground, mainly a crippled economy in Armenia. Thus he will at some point feel the need and pressure to make a shift in certain policies. The economy was also a main item during his campaign. In order to be able to improve the economy, a normalization of relations with Turkey is a must,” Idiz added, referring to the fact that the election campaign was dominated by policies for economic revival. More than a quarter of Armenia’s 3.2 million people live in poverty.

Idiz also noted that Sarksyan would eventually have to be “realistic” concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue as well, given the fact that the international community has adopted a solid stance considering Armenia’s presence in the territory as occupation.
21.02.2008 EMINE KART


Armenian Pm Wins Presidency, Opposition Protests
A demonstrator holds a newspaper with a portrait of Armenia's PM and presidential election winner Serzh Sarksyan.

Thousands of protesters gathered in Armenia’s capital on Wednesday claiming a presidential election was rigged to hand victory to Prime Minister Serzh Sarksyan, but Western observers called it broadly fair.

Sarksyan has promised to continue the policies of outgoing President Robert Kocharyan, his close ally. The new leader’s biggest challenges will be a simmering territorial conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan and frozen ties with Turkey.

Sarksyan took 52.86 percent of the votes, the Central Election Committee said, giving him enough to win outright in the the first round. Nearest rival Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Armenia’s first president after independence from the Soviet Union, had 21.5 percent.

Yesterday’s presidential election in Armenia was conducted mostly in line with the country’s international commitments, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement.

Further improvements are necessary to address remaining challenges, it added. Earlier, Kocharyan congratulated 53-year-old Sarksyan on his victory in what he called free and fair elections.

Ter-Petrosyan’s supporters though refused to recognize the result and said they would protest until Sarksyan’s victory was overturned. They said Tuesday’s vote was marred by ballot-stuffing and intimidation of the opposition. Between 15,000 and 20,000 protesters gathered at a rally in central Yerevan, chanting “Levon! Levon!” and “Serzh: leave!” a Reuters reporter said.

They were preparing to march towards the Central Election Commission building. Police kept their distance from the protesters. “Once again we have had our usual shameful election,” Ter-Petrosyan told the crowd. “Once again crude force has committed an act of violence against the will of the people. We will proceed calmly and with restraint, and with no doubt about our ultimate victory,” he said.

Previous elections in Armenia have been followed by days of opposition protests alleging ballot fraud. A new round of protests will be a test for stability in a country which, in the 1990s, was rocked by political convulsions.

Armenia is squeezed between Turkey and Azerbaijan in a region that is emerging as an important transit route for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets, though Armenia has no pipelines of its own.

Analysts say the unresolved conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh could flare again into violence, possibly threatening a BP-led oil pipeline that runs next to the conflict zone.

Kocharyan, who is also 53, is barred by the constitution from serving a third consecutive term. He is expected to remain influential but has refused to disclose what role he wants until his replacement is inaugurated.

He and Sarksyan, both natives of Nagorno-Karabakh and veterans of its 1990s separatist war there, are credited with overseeing a period of double-digit economic growth after economic meltdown under Ter-Petrosyan.
21.02.2008 Reuters Yerevan


And Here Are Bianet’s Questions For Prime Minister Erdogan…
Bia News Centre 20-02-2008 Tolga KORKUT
Three journalists and an academic asked Prime Minister Erdogan questions on live TV. Because we feel that their list was missing vital questions, here is our own list.

Journalists Ergun Babahan, Hasan Cemal and Mustafa Karaalioglu, as well as sociologist Prof. Dr. Beril Dedeoglu met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the atv channel on Sunday (17 February) to ask him about current issues.

On first glance it seemed as if they had all the “hot topics” covered, but they only touched on rights issues.

Thus, we at bianet decided to ask Erdogan our own questions. There could be many more, but this is an initial list:
Deaths in Tuzla shipyards

As far as labour organisations have been able to confirm, there have been 83 deaths in Tuzla shipyards. In the last eight months, there were 16, and only in the new year, there have been six. So, what are you doing to promote humane working conditions at the Tuzla shipyards? What are you going to do with the employers who create the working conditions which cause deaths?
Kurdish issue

What is your plan for a democratic, peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue and an end to conflict?
Labour rights

When will there be a legal framework which guarantees universal trade union rights?

When will you listen to the warnings of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)?

When will you withdraw your reservations to the rights to trade union membership, strikes and collective bargaining in the European Social Charter?

Torture
When will you ratify the Additional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture which offers an important mechanism for monitoring the centres depriving people of their personal freedoms and for preventing torture? When will you meet with rights organisations in order to agree on a national mechanism?

When will you amend the Law on Police Duties and Powers which has led to an increase in torture and rights violations?

Discrimination
When will you legislate against all kinds of discrimination and hate speeches?

Semdinli, Susurluk
When will you take the commission reports on the Semdinli and Susurluk events (in which the “deep state” has been involved in illegal activities) to parliament?

Military-civilian relations
When will the office of Chief of General Staff become linked to the Ministry of Defense rather than the Prime Ministerial Office?

When will there be an end to the two-headed judicial system of military and civilian courts? When will military courts only be used for disciplinary misdemeanours in the army?

When will the Chief of General Staff stop being a member of the institution which decides on whether he should be prosecuted?

What was discussed and decided at the meeting with Chief of General Staff Yasar Büyükanit in Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul? There has been no explanation offered.

When will the right to conscientious objection become acknowledged as a constitutional right?

Murder of journalist Hrant Dink
Why are the police and gendarmerie officers who played suspicious roles in the Hrant Dink murder still in office?

Freedom of expression
When will you change not only Article 301 (“denigrating Turkishness or institutions of the Turkish Republic”), but also the 14 other articles identified by rights organizations as obstructing freedom of expression?

Law on Elections and Political Parties
When will you abolish the 10 percent election hurdle? How do you plan to change it?

When will the obstructions to internal democracy in political parties be lifted?

Women’s rights
When will there be a quota to ensure that there are female decision makers in political parties, parliament and work places?

How do you monitor whether the Prime Ministerial order concerning violence towards women is applied?

Why do you abolish the protection and support of working women in the last legal package on employment and the “Social Security Reform”?

When will you finally open the women’s shelters which local authorities are obliged to have?

Social policy
What will you do in order to rectify the inequality in income distribution?

Education and children’s rights
Despite decrees of the European Court of Human Rights, compulsory Religious Education classes still exist. When will you abolish them?

When will you withdraw Turkey’s reservation to the right to education in children’s mother tongue in the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

When will Turkey ratify the international conventions related to the protection of minorities and cultures?

When will discriminatory content be taken out of school books?

What will you do to ensure full academic freedom?

Equality and sexual orientation
When will you add the criterion of sexual orientation to the constitutional guarantee of equality?
Climate change, environment and cultural treasures

When will you ratify the Kyoto Protocol? As the Kyoto period draws to a close, what are your plans?

Court decisions protecting the environment and people against gold mining in particular are not applied – why?

How will you save Allianoi and Hasankeyf (both ancient cities which will be flooded in dam projects)?

Despite analyses which show the risks and inefficiency of nuclear energy, why are you insisting on introducing nuclear power plants to Turkey? What are you doing for a long-term policy on renewable energy? (TK/AG)


On Election Day, Turkey Outweighs Politics In Border Village
Yigal Schleifer 2/19/08 EurasiaNet, NY Feb 19 2008

Not far from Armenia's borders with Turkey and Georgia, at an age-old trading crossroads, lies the village of Shirakavan. The political excitement connected to the country's February 19 presidential vote commands little attention here. Rather, the focus is on the day-to-day struggle to survive and how, if possible, Armenia's relations with Turkey could play a role.

On election day, several men are standing in the snow outside of the village's school, which serves as a polling station. Among them is Shirakavan's mayor, Gevorg Haroutiunian, who describes how many of the village's farmers cannot reach their land, because it lies near the closed Turkish border.

"The fact that the border is closed causes damage on both sides," says the mayor.

It is a problem that is visually immediately at hand. A tall watchtower and several unmanned artillery positions look out over Shirakavan's snow-covered border area. Off in the distance, a pencil-thin minaret rises from a mosque on the Turkish side.

"If we can have some diplomatic relations with Turkey, we could have a positive dynamic here," adds Haroutiunian.

The diplomatic stalemate with Turkey certainly comes at a cost for Armenia. Studies estimate that the country could be losing as much as $400 million in annual trade because of the closed border between the two states. Meanwhile, various regional projects, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the soon-to-be-completed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, are working to further deepen Armenia's political and economic isolation among its neighbors. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Although it didn't get as much attention as fighting poverty or corruption, the question of Armenia's relations with Turkey lingered throughout the presidential campaign, but it was often used more as a way to smear a candidate than as a chance to propose ways forward on the issue.

No dramatic proposals for change have come from either of the race's two key candidates - Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.

Though he has said he supports Turkey's European Union membership bid, Sarkisian is expected to continue the policies of outgoing President Robert Kocharian, Armenian analysts say.

And while Ter-Petrosian has promised to be "pro-active" on the issue, Tevan Poghosyan, executive director of the International Center for Human Development, a Yerevan-based think tank, notes that actions taken during his 1991-1998 presidency resulted in no breakthroughs.

"If you are interested in opening up the relations, don't look here," Poghosyan says. "The key is on the Turkish side. It's not dependent on what the candidates say on the issue."

Despite various attempts over the years to get Ankara and Yerevan to the negotiating table, other experts believe that relations between the two neighbors will remain frozen for the foreseeable future, with the Armenian genocide issue and the question of Nagorno-Karabakh continuing to stand as major roadblocks in the way of any progress. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

"Normalization of relations has become a magic word that keeps getting repeated, but nothing is done about it," says Ruben Safrastyan, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at Armenia's National Academy of Sciences in Yerevan and an expert on Turkey.

"There is no possibility for state-to-state diplomacy right now. We need to take things down a step to track-two [non-governmental] diplomacy. In this respect, Armenian diplomacy needs to be more proactive and we lack that proactivity right now."

Adds Safrastyan: "There are elements in Turkey that are trying to have dialogue with Armenia, and we need to have a dialogue with those elites."

"There are some elements about each other that we know, but there are many that we don't know and we are not even bothering to get to the table and learn about it," comments the International Center for Human Development's Poghosyan, whose organization sponsored a series of meetings in 2001-2004 between Turkish and Armenian academics, journalists and other opinion shapers.

"Our knowledge of each other is very symbolic," he continues. "The public on both sides is dealing in stereotypes."

For now, much of the impasse between Turkey and Armenia revolves around the genocide issue. Ankara refuses to recognize the mass killings of Armenians in Eastern Turkey during the late Ottoman period as genocide. Instead, it has called for the convening of a joint commission of historians to decide on the issue before any negotiations on normalizing relations can start.

Armenians see this as an unacceptable precondition, one that asks too much of them.

"I think this topic, the Armenian genocide, could be the ground for dialogue, but without preconditions," says Hayk Demoyan, director of Yerevan's Museum-Institute of the Armenian Genocide.

"We can't forget our memories in order to have better relations. This can't be the cost."

But both Poghosyan and Safrastyan say they believe slow progress in being made in Turkey regarding the genocide issue, which may enable the two neighbors to move beyond the problematic subject.

"I am optimistic, and it has to do with developments in Turkish society," Safrastyan says. "I believe that in five or ten years, Turkish society will start asking more about the genocide issue. This development could end up having leverage over Turkish diplomacy."

Meanwhile, 20 kilometers from the border village of Shirakavan, in the town of Gyumri, a onetime Soviet industrial powerhouse, many locals see trade as a way to move past the political issues.

"We should see trade as separate from the genocide issue," says Eduoard Haroian, owner of a shiny hardware store that sells German-made power tools. "One is a political issue and the other is an economic issue."

"In my opinion, most of the people here are ready for the border to be open," continues Haroian. "We have a saying: if one has an enemy, it's always harder to make a living."

Editor's Note: Yigal Schleifer is a freelance reporter who covers Turkey and the South Caucasus.


A Painful Cry Of An Eternal Love
Vercihan Ziflioglu, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News, February 19, 2008
A group of artists from Turkey and Armenia will be coming together in a huge project by Turkey’s acclaimed piano virtuoso Fazil Say. Yasar Kemal, one of the greatest literary masters of the world, will write the lyrics of the ballet version of the legend ‘Akh Tamar,’ which will be on stage in 2009

A group of 250 major artists from Turkey and Armenia will give life to the legendary "Ah Tamar" symphonic piece through Turkey's world-renowned piano virtuoso Fazil Say who is readying to realize the project next year.

The project is a crucial step that will bring Armenia and Turkey closer to each other, Say told the Turkish Daily News in an exclusive interview.

Say, sensitive to the current situation and the heated debates recently surrounding him, wanted to preview the article or would refuse to consent to its publication. Underlining that he faced great difficulties after a translation-related mistake in the past, Say said: “My struggle is for Turkey's bright future. I am tired of being misunderstood, misinterpreted and falsely introduced to people.”

The celebrated Turkish pianist's remarks that he wants to leave Turkey, uttered in an exclusive interview with German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, received much attention by the Turkish media and were followed by an intense polemic in December 2007.

Say, an envoy for the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, will compose the ballet version of the vocal and symphonic work. The lyrics will be composed by Turkey's world famous writer Yasar Kemal.

Tense atmosphere
Say said he started working on his Akh Tamar project in 2004 but had to abandon it for a while due to the tense atmosphere that was created after Nobel Price winner novelist Orhan Pamuk said in a 2004 interview that about 30,000 Kurds and 1 million Armenians had been killed in Ottoman Turkey.

Say, noting that the political atmosphere in the country became even more tense in 2007 following the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink, founder and editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, said his project was further delayed due to all these "unfortunate" events.

Say, who said that he had once spoken to Dink about the project over the phone, said that it is highly important in terms of taking steps toward friendly relations between Turkish and Armenian people. Drawing the attention to the recent collaborative work by Greek artist Mikis Theodarikis and Turkish artist Zülfü Livaneli, Say said efforts by these two prominent artists have paved the way for a warming of Turkish-Greek relations within the last few years.

Say said he has contacted the Armenian State Opera Ballet for his project and received a positive reply from the institution.

When reminded that an opera on the legend of Akh Tamar was firstly composed by world-renowned Istanbul-born Armenian composer Sirvart Karamanukyan, Say said he did not have much knowledge on the issue, however, he would be pleased to make contributions to any kind of projects about it. Karamanukyan, 95, has received several international awards and medals.

At the moment Say said he is focused on the Akh Tamar project that he plans to stage next year. Say will first compose the music of the ballet version of Akh Tamar. The legend has a beautiful concept, Say said, adding, that he will then construct and edit his work based on that concept. The Akh Tamar ballet will embark on a world tour after it is staged in Istanbul, Yerevan and on the island of Akh Tamar in Van Lake in eastern Turkey.

Discussions obstacle to dialogue Armenians and Turks tell different versions of the Akh Tamar legend. According to the Turkish version, Tamar falls in love with a Turkish boy whereas according to Armenians, both the hero and the heroine of the legend are Armenian.

“Everybody's Akh Tamar is different from each other's. You may listen to the legend from 100 persons but each one can tell it in a different way,” Say said. Arguing over such a topic is just meaningless, he added.

“For Armenia, even Beethoven and [Leonardo] da Vinci are of Armenian origins. Armenia perceives everything with a great ego... but what is important today is taking steps of friendliness. We should leave aside unnecessary discussions,” he said.

Say, drawing attention to his position as an envoy for the 2008 European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, said that unless necessary steps of friendliness and reconciliation are not taken, healthy relations cannot be established between Armenia and Turkey. “We all would like to know what the facts are,” said Say. With the said steps, relations between the two peoples will heal and dialogue will start, he added.

Two different versions of the legend
Armenian legend has it that Tamar, a young and beautiful princess, falls in love with a poor Armenian boy who each night would swim from mainland to the Island of Ah Tamar (Akhtamar) to unite with his love. He found his way with the help of a torch lit by Tamar to prevent him from drowning in a current. However, Tamar's father, the king, quickly became angered by the situation and imprisoned his daughter in a fortress. He then, lit the torch as his daughter used to do but directed it toward the current instead. The dark waters of the lake drowned the boy and his dying cries, they say, were just "Akh Tamar" (Oh Tamar).According to the Turkish version of the legend, once upon a time, there used to live a beautiful girl named Tamara, the daughter of a chief monk living on the island. Tamara fell in love with a young Muslim shepherd boy from one of the surrounding villages. The boy swam to island every night to unite with Tamara, who waited for him with a candle. Tamara's father who later learns about the situation goes down to a shore on a stormy night. He carried a light in his hand and, by shaking it, causes boy to lose his strength. Tired of swimming in different directions due to the light, the boy is submerged under the dark waters of the lake. His final cry was “Ah Tamara” and Tamara, who hears the cries of her love, surrenders to the waters of the lake and drowns herself.


Independent Kosovo Good And Bad For Turkey
As was expected, Kosovo announced its independence yesterday. For the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), Kosovar independence is a positive development, though to think it will bring immediate benefits would be naive.

Both the United States and the European Union keep saying insistently that “Kosovo is not a precedent.” But even [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s question put to the EU last week about northern Cyprus -- “It has been independent now for 40 years, why don’t you recognize it?” -- which was aimed at exposing the EU’s “double standards,” indicate a new crack in the wall facing northern Cyprus. For Turkey’s close ally, Azerbaijan, Kosovo’s independence is a very bad precedent. There is no doubt that it will be an important example for Armenians pushing for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. And it is clear that the powerful Armenian lobbies in Europe and America will use this precedent as much as they can.
19.02.2008 Semih Idiz, Milliyet


Cihangir: Nouveau-Rich Bohemian Downtown Neighborhood
February 18, 2008, Vercihan Ziflioglu Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
Cihangir, a nouveau-rich bohemian downtown neighborhood situated near Istanbul’s cosmopolitan quarter Pera (Beyoglu), is the subject of a master’s thesis written by Binnaz Tugba Sasanlar, a graduate of the Sociology Faculty at Bogaziçi University

Binnaz Tugba Sasanlar, a third-generation member of a family that settled in Cihangir, wrote her master's thesis on the neighborhood where she was born. In her study titled “A Historical Panorama of an Istanbul Neighborhood: Cihangir from the late 19th century to the 2000s”, Sasanlar aims to tell both the past and the present story of Cihangir.

In addition to oral history narratives by both older and new inhabitants of the neighborhood, she used official telephone directories from the years 1929, 1933, 1942, 1950, and 1966 as primary sources. After spending a couple of weeks searching the vestiges of a lost human fabric that once constituted the neighborhood's local population, Sasanlar located myriad names and addresses that belonged to old denizens of Cihangir. Records in the telephone directories she scanned at the Ottoman Bank Archives and Research Center mostly belonged to Greeks. She also applied to Title Deed's Office to study old records, but could not get a positive reply. Then, she met George Petridis of Baloukli (Balikli) hospital, elder house, and psychiatry clinic in Istanbul. With Petridis' help, she examined church records that are called the ‘kalamazoos'.

Through telephone directories and church records as well as other primary sources, Sasanlar discovered name-by-name, street-by-street, and even apartment-by-apartment the residents of many who lived in Cihangir in decades past.

A contribution to the history of a cosmopolitan Cihangir, where Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Levantines, Turks, and other Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants lived in harmony for centuries, Sasanlar's study says the neighborhood was mainly populated by Greeks in the past.

Some 2,000 Greeks used to live in the neighborhood until as recently as 1968. Sasanlar's thesis also includes visual materials like old and new photographs and maps of Cihangir. Among them, the most significant are the famous Pervitich Maps of the 1920s. These maps show lot by lot a detailed architectural layout of old Istanbul quarters, all having multi-layered histories.

“I just tried to tell the story of Cihangir by situating it within the framework of the story of the decline of cosmopolitan Istanbul and from a time that has already faded away,” Sasanlar expressed her aim in writing her thesis. She thinks Cihangir, which has always been a select neighborhood with a unique aura, underwent different types of transformations throughout its history. And since the second half of the 1990s, Cihangir, being the first example of gentrification process in Istanbul, has been rediscovered, even reinvented and reconstructed by those who began to flock to settle there and others who just watch them from outside.

Thesis to be published
Speaking to Turkish Daily News (TDN) about her thesis, Sasanlar said, “Cihangir where I was born and grew up has undergone a fast transformation and has already lost much of its original character and human texture.”

After receiving her Bachelor's degree from the Sociology Faculty of Bogaziçi (Bosporus) University, Sasanlar attended a master's program in history at Bogaziçi University's Atatürk Institute. She completed her thesis and received her MA degree in 2006. Written in English, Sasanlar's thesis will be published in the upcoming months. A board member of the Cihangir Neighborhood Association, Sasanlar described her thesis as “a tiny contribution to micro history.”

Cihangir losing its original character
Sasanlar said her grandfather and his family migrated from Erzurum to Istanbul when he was five years old during the first years of British occupation of Istanbul. The family, then, settled in Tophane and Cihangir. “Sense of belonging to a certain place is important for me,” said Sasanlar. “Even if I was not attending a graduate program, thus, not have to write a master's thesis, I would still write something on Cihangir,” she said.

Making a sociological observation on the rapid change Cihangir has been experiencing both in its cultural and human fabric over the last decade, Sasanlar said she was stuck between doing a sociological study and writing the history of Cihangir, even refraining from the latter at the beginning of her study. “Istanbul is being shaped by the uneven effects of globalization everyday. This is a peripheralization process and transforming the city into an amorphous metropolis through transformation,” she noted, referring to how the global transforms the local when the two encounter each other. According to Sasanlar, the gentrification process Cihangir has undergone is something that should be analyzed along with the attributions to Istanbul's uncertain globalization experience.

Unhappy with Cihangir's losing its original character, she has a critical outlook about present-day Cihangir. “Since I was born, I've had the chance to view the silhouette of the city of both the Ottoman and Byzantine times from the balcony of my house. The Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia, the Sultanahmet Mosque, and the Galata Tower, all constituting the unique monumental heritage of the city, were in front of my eyes like a picturesque tableau. And I grew up absorbing and internalizing that tableau,” she said. “Istanbul is an ancient palimpsest, a multi-layered text in my eye.”

Faced with a scarcity of sources written specifically about Cihangir at the beginning of her study, she said, “There was almost no sources specifically written on Cihangir.” She, then, referred to piece about Cihangir Mahallesi (neighborhood) and Cihangir Street in the famous Istanbul Encyclopedia written by historian Resat Ekrem Koçu. She also referred to the Istanbul Encyclopedia published by the Economic and Social History Foundation. Other important sources she used were the Seyahatname (the itinerary chronicles) of famous Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi and volumes of Annuaire Orientals, commercial yearbooks published in French in the late Ottoman Empire. She covered the period between 1890s and the early 1900s in these books. “Cihangir is a neighborhood and neighborhoods are living organisms, so I incorporated oral history narratives into my methodology,” she said, pointing to a number of in-depth interviews she conducted with the older and new inhabitants of Cihangir.

Breaking with rigidity on paling history pages
“Use of telephones was very new in those years,” she said. But despite that, she encountered several records that mostly belonged to non-Muslim subscribers from Cihangir. Sasanlar said specifically the 1950 and the 1966 telephone directories allowed her to compare with other records the effects in Cihangir of two notorious events; the September 6-7 rioting against Istanbul's Rum population in 1955 and the 1964 deportation to Greece of Rum, Turks of Greek heritage. The September 6-7 events broke out in Istanbul upon false news that the house where Atatürk was born in Thessalonica was bombed. Properties of Greeks, Armenians, and Jews were looted. Schools, churches, synagogues and cemeteries were damaged. These two years, 1955 and 1964, were crucial turning points also in the history of Cihangir since many Greeks and other non-Muslims began gradually leaving Turkey after these two events. Records Sasanlar obtained from the muhtar (neighborhood administrator) of the Cihangir Mahalle show that the number of all non-Muslims presently living in Cihangir is about 350.

The 1950s and the influx of immigrants from Anatolia
In contemporary Istanbul, however, Cihangir remains the subject of a commercialized nostalgia for a past cosmopolitan urban fabric.

“I just wanted to tell the story of Cihangir, just to mark a tiny, modest note in history,” said Sasanlar, adding, “My aim definitely is not to submerge people in nostalgia. I was born in 1978 when Cihangir already started to decline. The Cihangir I tell about is Cihangir of the 50s and the 60s, a neighborhood that lived and was consumed before me.”

Sasanlar said the story of Cihangir is one beyond the limits of any ordinary urban tale. In the epoch of hegemonic and uneven globalization, what Cihangir experienced is resuscitation by those identity seekers, she noted. The 1990s saw the re-popularization of Taksim and its surroundings, and therefore, Cihangir. She said that culturally fragmented middle and upper middle class strata that began to flock to the neighborhood in recent years has paved the way for the genesis of a new obsession they call ‘The Republic of Cihangir'. Sasanlar said a similar migration of immigrants took place from Anatolia to Istanbul, and in this case Cihangir, in the 1950s and it continued in subsequent decades. In the 1970s and the 1980s, however, the neighborhood faced a déclassement. But it has entered the new millennium, in which etiquette and the concept of belonging to a certain community became the trend in Istanbul's select neighborhoods, as a prestigious place to live for those hoping to acquire an identity through belonging.


A Slice Of Home For Armenian Exiles
By Kieran Cooke, BBC News, Armenia

Voters in the small republic of Armenia are soon to go to the polls to elect a new president. But away from politics many have other things on their minds - particularly those in the capital.

Armine grabs my arm.
"Look, why don't you invest here? Buy a flat and in one year your money will double."

We are sitting in a small cafe in the centre of Yerevan, drinking strong, grainy coffee.
A babushka in a white smock serves us local crusty, piping hot pancakes filled with spicy meat paste.

Armine, formerly a teacher and translator but now a property developer, is dressed in figure-hugging red jeans and a denim top with the message "look at me, twice" printed across it.
But she is no fashion mannequin.

Freedom gained
A product of the old Soviet-style education system, Armine speaks five languages, has an engineering degree, and plays the cello expertly.

When I first met her on a visit to Armenia three years ago, she dreamed of setting up a music school for children.

She was fiercely proud of being Armenian and admonished me for my ignorance about the achievements of her people.

Now the talk is only of property and becoming rich.
It's a country that's going nowhere. I just want to make my money and leave
Armine, property developer

"It's like so many other places in the old Soviet Union. We gained freedom but somehow we have lost our soul," says Armine.

"The Russians, once again, control most of the economy while gangsters and oligarchs swank about in their limousines and fancy jewellery, all powerful.

"The politicians are hopeless, only filling up their own pockets.

"It's a country that's going nowhere. I just want to make my money and leave."

Armine is busy building up her funds.
She has bought and sold homes five times in the past two years. Each time, she says, she has doubled her money.

As Jewish families might buy a second home in Israel, so the Armenian diaspora - present in virtually every major city in the world and many of them extremely wealthy - are buying houses and apartments in Yerevan and the prices keep rising.

Armenians from Beirut, from Aleppo in Syria, from Singapore, and from Los Angeles are investing in property "back home," just in case things go wrong elsewhere, says Armine.

The latest and most noticeable purchasers are members of the Armenian community in Iran, just over Armenia's southern border, many of whom have considerable financial power.

An empty city
We stroll along dust-filled streets, Armine's high heels navigating through piles of rubble.

The Soviet era was not know for great architecture but old Yerevan had a pleasant, intimate feel.

It is sad to see it disappearing.
The diaspora buys but does not stay, says Armine.

"Meanwhile, locals find they can no longer afford to live here. One day, this could become an empty city."

I want to leave property and building behind and go south to see a very special mountain.

Pictures of the majestic, snow-covered summit of Mount Ararat hang in Armenian homes, in restaurants, in the offices of millionaire bankers, all over the world.

Once, in New York undergoing treatment on a troublesome molar, I looked up and there, glued to the ceiling, was a picture of Mount Ararat.

To Armenians, Ararat - where Noah and his ark are said to have come to rest after the flood - is sacred, somehow a symbol of who they are.

I feel I can reach out and touch the great mountain, etched against a clear blue sky. Except, of course, it is across the strongly guarded border only a few miles (kilometres) away in Turkey, Armenia's old enemy.

"You see," says Armine.
"Even Ararat is in exile."

And, though this is a special place, there is no escape from the property boom.

One of Armenia's most wealthy oligarchs, who is said to have made his initial fortune by winning the unofficial title of world arm-wrestling champion in a Las Vegas casino, runs one of the country's biggest cement plants.

Day and night, a long plume of yellow smoke spews out, shrouding the valley around Ararat, the fumes filling the air.

The cement goes off to Yerevan to build yet more apartments and shopping malls.

"Now, all I can think about is becoming rich," says Armine.
"And I will leave this place where there is no future."
There is sadness in her voice.

I am sure, for good and bad, she will achieve her twin ambitions: wealth and exile.

From Our Own Correspondent 14 February, 2008 BBC Radio 4
news.bbc.co.uk


U.S. Turks Aim To Change Image
February 17, 2008
By Svitlana Korenovska - A Washington-based organization is spearheading a drive to correct what it sees as common misconceptions about Turkey, hoping to change how Americans see the massacre of Armenians in World War I and educate them about Turkey's role in rebuilding Iraq.

The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) already has organized meetings in 11 cities and will continue to tour the United States with meetings and lectures in an additional 19 cities.

The program, inspired by ATAA President Nurten Ural, aims to teach Turkish Americans how to be more active citizens and how to defend and promote themselves in American society.

According to a Turkish Embassy registry, there are about 150,000 Turks living in the United States. ATAA puts the number at 250,000, counting ethnic-Turkish immigrants from countries other than Turkey.

The assembly, representing more than 60 leading Turkish-American organizations across the country, sees its main goals as explaining Turkey's account of the Armenian massacres and overcoming common prejudices against Turks.

The effort by the Turkish-American assembly will have to counter a strong Armenian lobby in the United States. Several U.S. cities — especially in California, Michigan and Massachusetts — have large Armenian populations with considerable political influence. One estimate put the number of Armenian Americans at 1.5 million.

The Armenian lobby won a significant victory in October when, despite an appeal from President Bush, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution describing the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

As many as 1 million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, according to the Armenians, who describe the deaths as genocide. Turks acknowledge that large numbers of people died, but they object to the use of the word genocide.

"We are seeking dialogue with Armenian Americans. Rather than monologue on the Armenian perspective, we want broad and deep debate regarding all the facts and the law," said Gunay Evinch, the president-elect of the ATAA.

"I would like to be clear that in no way does the Turkish-American community or Turkey deny the massacres of Armenians," Mr. Evinch said.

"We also call for sincere attention to the 1.1 million Muslims and Jews who perished during the Armenian Revolt, 1885-1919, in the same area of eastern Ottoman Anatolia and under the same conditions under which Armenians died. The truth we seek is the complete truth."

The organization also wants Americans and their government to better understand what Turkey is doing to help the United States in Iraq.

The ATAA points out that Turkey has made large donations to Iraq for humanitarian purposes and construction work, while helping with military training and in establishing a dialogue among Iraq groups and factions.

Mr. Evinch said he worries that the image of Turkish Americans will be hurt by television shows that depict people of Turkish heritage as Islamic terrorists.

"There wasn't one [event] in American history, let alone European history, when we had Turkish people engaged in Islamic terrorism," he said.
www.washingtontimes.com


Kocharyan’s Heir Seeks Top Job In Armenia Vote
Armenia votes next week in a presidential election that is likely to transfer power from outgoing President Robert Kocharyan to his trusted ally and prime minister Serzh Sarksyan. Opposition parties already allege the campaign is unfair, setting up Tuesday's election to be a test for stability in a country that has only in the last few years recovered from a period of political convulsions.

Nestled high in the Caucasus mountains, Armenia is in a region that is emerging as a vital transit route for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to energy-hungry world markets, though it has no pipelines of its own. The energy flows could be threatened, analysts warn, if an unresolved conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan flares again into fighting. A dispute between Armenia and its other neighbor, Turkey, complicates Ankara's relations with the West.

Opinion polls give Sarksyan, 53, a lead over the rest of the field, including former speaker of parliament Artur Baghdasaryan and Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the previous president who was forced to resign in 1998 but is now seeking a comeback. Most observers predict that if Sarksyan is elected, his rule will be, in most aspects, a continuation of Kocharyan's 10 years in office that have been marked by economic growth and hostile stance toward Azerbaijan and Turkey. "Our candidate is the only one with an exceptional chance to win in the first round," said Armen Ashotyan, a lawmaker with Sarksyan's Republican Party. "If he wins, naturally a continuation of the policy direction will be ensured."

Sarksyan's victory though is not guaranteed. "There is serious competition going on," said analyst Alexander Iskanderyan.

Long partnership
Close associates for over 20 years, both Kocharyan and Sarksyan are from Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of oil-producing Azerbaijan whose ethnic Armenian population broke away in a 1990s war. Kocharyan, also 53, is constitutionally barred from serving a third consecutive term. He is expected to remain influential, but he has refused to disclose what role he will take until his replacement is inaugurated. Some commentators have predicted Kocharyan could become prime minister, mimicking the arrangement in nearby Russia where outgoing President Vladimir Putin has said he may serve as prime minister if his protege Dmitry Medvedev wins the presidency.

"The intrigue of the election in Armenia is where Kocharyan will go and who will be the prime minister," Gevorg Pogosyan, an independent analyst, told Reuters. Voters credit Kocharyan -- and by association Sarksyan -- with overseeing strong economic growth. Gross domestic product grew last year by 13.7 percent. Once blighted by power blackouts, capital Yerevan is now enjoying a construction boom. Sarksyan's election chances are boosted by the fact the opposition has failed to unite around a single candidate. Previous votes in Armenia have been followed by mass opposition protests alleging ballot fraud, and observers say more are possible after Tuesday's vote. Armenia is Moscow's only firm ally in a region where Russia and the West are competing for influence. It is home to a Russian military base and Russian firms control a significant chunk of the Armenian economy.
17.02.2008 Reuters Yerevan


Presidential Elections In Armenia: Might It Be The Start Of A New Period? By Hatem Cabbarli*
In 1998, following a "bloodless coup" that sent Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosian to his resignation, Robert Kocharian, a representative of the more hawkish factions of Armenia, came to power. Kocharian is now serving out the last period of his administration.

Since the Armenian Constitution specifies that no one person can be elected for more than two terms back to back, Kocharian is unable to take part in these elections. Since its independence, Armenia has never experienced this serious or even dangerous of an election process. Naturally, it is possible to theorize that in fact these elections represent the start to a new period in this nation's history, and it is also possible to say that the election process itself seems very full of serious implications for the country.

According to information from the Armenian Central Election Commission, the candidacies of nine people have been officially accepted for the upcoming Feb. 19, 2008 presidential elections. Those competing for the posting of presidency current Prime Minister and Armenian Republic Party leader Serj Sarkisian, National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, National Unity Party leader Artashes Gegamian, Nation of Laws Party leader Artur Baghdasarian, Armenian Parliament Vice President and member of the Tashnakutian Party Vahan Hovannesian, Peoples' Party leader Tigran Karapetian, independent candidate Arman Melikian and National Solidarity Party leader Aram Harutunian.

It appears likely that immediately prior to the elections some candidates will withdraw their candidacies and throw their support behind either Sarkisian or Petrosian. A total of 13,428 observers will be watching the elections from both inside Armenia and internationally. Armenia has 1,923 electoral regions.

Results from public opinion research that began immediately after the start-up of the election campaigning period reveal a number of conflicting views. For some reason, whichever party undertakes public polling seems to come in first place; this is a tradition which has not changed at all in the past 17 years. According to results from the "Populus" Research Center on Feb. 11, 50.7 percent of voters will choose Sarkisian, 13.4 percent will choose Baghdasarian, 12.6 percent will choose Ter-Petrosian, 7.6 percent Hovannesian, 6.4 percent Gegamian, 4.5 percent Karapetian, 3.2 percent Manukian and only 0.9 percent will go for Melikian. If however it is considered that these types of public polls do not actually reflect the truth at hand, there is good reason to be suspicious of these results.

It appears that the most serious struggle in Armenian's presidential elections will be experienced between Sarkisian and Ter-Petrosian. The other candidates, by comparison, seem to have no other function than acting as "pawns to be sacrificed in the greater chess match." Withdrawals from the elections by candidates such as Baghdasarian, Hovannesian, Artashes Gegamian and Karapetian, who would, in doing so, throw their support behind either Sarkisian or Ter-Petrosian, could well affect the outcome of the election outcome. But of course the likelihood that any of these above-mentioned candidates would do such a thing is as likely as the "sun rising from the West."

Aside from Sarkisian, none of the candidates in this election has been satisfied with the election campaigning period. Two examples of this are Baghdasarian's announcement that he has received death threats and Petrosian making a demand that the elections be postponed by two weeks to the Armenian Constitutional Court on the basis that state bureaucrats had thrown up barriers to his own electoral campaigning machine. The Constitutional Court has rejected his claims.

In the meantime, Sarkisian has used all the opportunities open to him as prime minister by trying to use every mechanism under his control to put on pressure. At times the use of these mechanisms has caused problems for Sarkisian, problems which Petrosian has not shied away from using against Sarkisian during the process. Despite the fact that Sarkisian's position may have appeared powerful through the end of 2007, it started to become clear at the start of 2008 that this was not in fact necessarily the truth. During the election period, Molotov cocktail attacks have taken place against both Sarkisian and Petrosian's campaign trails.

During this period Sarkisian tried to whip up support for his candidacy both inside and outside Armenia. The visit to Armenia by Russian Prime Minister Victor Zubkov at the start of February and the public analysis of the strategic cooperation between these two nations as well as the talk of an increase in Russian investment in Armenia and the coming increase in trade volume to $1 billion in 2008 have all been nothing but an attempt to raise Armenian public opinion in favor of Sarkisian. The fact that Armenia is a fringe outpost for Russia as well as the imbalance in economic, political and military relations between these two nations means that Armenia does not have too much room to move freely. Sarkisian is the candidate supported most by Russia and Russia will in fact gather up the support necessary to see that he is elected.

In terms of candidates who can truly face Sarkisian in the electoral boxing ring, there is Ter-Petrosian. Looking at the mechanisms controlled by each of these candidates, it is clear that the first controls management while the second controls political mechanisms. Though Sarkisian may not be getting the results he desired in the pressure placed upon Petrosian, this is not dissuading him. To the contrary, these pressures are pushing political groups who supported neither him nor Petrosian closer to Petrosian. Recently, news has been published about groups which had previously been neutral in the election period throwing their support behind Petrosian. In fact, this announcement of support for Petrosian has even included the candidate's former enemies, the Tashnaksutian Party's Eshterek region head group, which has announced its support for Petrosian. In addition, Armenian sources are indicating that candidate Artur Baghdasarian has already come to an accord with Petrosian. In terms of decisions that Baghdasarian could make during the election period, this would be right on the mark for him no doubt, as he was a government figure forced to resign from his position as head of parliament under the administrations of Kocharian and Sarkisian and could thus benefit highly from being behind Petrosian.

In recent times Petrosian has also contributed a new level of seriousness in election rallies and shows to the idea that the problem with Nagorno-Karabakh needs to be solved. He is no doubt aware that his previous moderate messages on this topic have brought him some political advantages.

Despite the fact that both the Azerbaijani and Turkish media may portray Petrosian from time to time as a candidate who will "come to the table" for talks, it should not be forgotten that it was under his previous presidency that Azerbaijani land was occupied, that the Hocali massacre took place and that the independence proclamation, asserting the so-called Turkish genocide against Armenians, was accepted. In the face of these reminders the famous letter from Petrosian, "Peace and War," which he shared with the Armenian people before his resignation could be brought out as a rejection of these claims. But it should not be forgotten that Petrosian came to the talks table as the winner of a war and as a leader who took great strides in advancing the genocide propaganda.

It appears that Petrosian's political ratings are rising with every passing day during this election process. But it is quite likely that this fact alone will not help in changing the election results. It is also quite possible that with a victory by Sarkisian, a political crisis similar to that seen in Uzbekistan could occur, with events unfolding the way they did in Andijan. Even if this scenario is denied by some, it should not be ignored as a possibility.

With only a few days left to go before the elections, Petrosian's visit to Moscow came as a surprise to both the Armenian administration and the Armenian public. It might well make Sarkisian uncomfortable that Petrosian has visited Moscow so close on the heels of Russian Prime Minister Zubkov's visit to Yerevan. Even though some Russian sources have indicated that Petrosian met with future Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in Moscow, other sources fully deny this, even saying that Russian government officials had been forbidden from meeting with Petrosian. Meanwhile, some Russian researchers say that Petrosian's visit to Moscow was aimed at soothing fears in the Russian capital. Though commentaries like this do spark the question of how it is that Petrosian believes in himself so strongly that he feels the need to allay fears in Russia about his coming to power in Armenia.

It may well be that Petrosian wins these elections. But, if we look at what Stalin said, that "it doesn't matter who gets more votes in an election; what matters is who tallies the ballots," we see that it would really be no surprise if Sarkisian emerged victorious from the ballot boxes.

Following its presidential elections, Armenian political life may split more decisively between Karabakh Armenians and Armenian Armenians. If Petrosian and his circles were a bit more patient and resilient, they could cause some serious problems for the Sarkisian administration. In fact, they could even prevent Sarkisian from sitting for five years in the seat of the state presidency. In short, the Feb. 20 Armenian elections could go down in Armenian political history as the second "Oct. 27" crisis.

* Hatem Cabbarli is the deputy director of the Azerbaijani National Parliament Analytic Information Outlet and the director of the Information Research Department.
17.02.2008


Armenians Go To The Polls
Vercihan Ziflioglu Yerevan – Turkish Daily News, February 16, 2008
Armenians are readying to elect the country’s fifth president Sunday. Current Prime Minister Serj Sarksian, Levon Ter Petrossian and Vahan Hovhannisyan are favorite candidates. Candidates chant the same line: No compromise in ‘genocide’ and Nagorno-Karabakh

The Republic of Armenia is readying to elect its fifth president, but the political atmosphere in the country is quite tranquil. Nine candidates are compitunf on Sunday's elections. Among them are Prime Minister Serj Sarksian of the Republican Party, Levon Ter Petrossian of the Pan-Armenian National Movement and Vahan Hovhannisyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Ter Petrossian, the first president of the Republic of Armenia, which won its independence in 1991, had resigned seven years later. People here still describe him as “president of cold and dark years.”

Talking to the Turkish Daily News, Giro Manoyan, the international representative of the Dashnaktsutyun – the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – said the closed border between Turkey and Armenia constitute “a kind of cold war.” Despite the closure, the Armenian economy has gained a considerable pace, he claimed. “We shall determine our attitude in accordance with what steps Turkey will take,” Manoyan said.

All political parties participating in the elections pursue a “no compromise” policy on two crucial issues: Allegations of genocide and Nagorno-Karabakh.

No big change:
Turkey perceives Ter Petrossian as a moderate politician, due to past policies he pursued when in power, Manoyan noted. “However, Turkey had better not be much hopeful about Ter Petrossian. No big change will take place in Armenia's Turkey policy,” he added.

Manoyan pointed to an earlier remark by Ter Petrossian, who said “If there had not existed a genocide, there would have been no diaspora.”

“These words render his political stance and attitude towards Turkey crystal clear,” he said.

Armenians are highly sensitive about the issues of ‘genocide' and Nagorno-Karabakh, said Manoyan. It is almost impossible to make any compromises on these issues, he added.

According to Manoyan, reopening of Turkey-Armenia border is not a prerequisite for development of Armenia's economy. The economy has gained serious pace despite the closure, he claimed.

Manoyan also emphasized that the elections are highly important in terms of internal problems, rather than relations with neighbors. If domestic problems are solved, Armenia's foreign relations will strengthen, he added.

Nagorno-Karabakh:
Manoyan reminded that the tensions between Turkey and Armenia are also related to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. “Turkey has blocked its relations with Armenia because of Azerbaijan. No healthy relations can be established between two countries when the borders are closed,” he said.

The nationalist politician argued that Turkey has never favored the foundation of an independent Armenia. “The iron curtain lowered on Turkey-Armenia relations in 1921 has never been lifted since then,” he claimed.

In recent years, citizens of Armenia have begun migrating to many countries, including Turkey, mainly to find jobs. For Manoyan, this is quite natural since people are free in their choice. “Not only citizens of Armenia but also of many other countries work in Turkey. Pursuing policies over that situation would be the worst thing to do,” he concluded.


Who Finished The ASALA Off: Thanks to Nuri Gündes by Mehmet Ali Birand
February 10, 2007
We have been listening to the National Intelligence Organization's (MIT) former director of the Istanbul area, Nuri Gündes, for days now. He is a courteous gentleman whom I have known for a while. He is approaching 90. After his retirement in 1986 he remained silent for a very long time. He is currently working on a book. It is maybe because of this that suddenly he started appearing on TV. During his appearances, he talked about what the “deep state” has been in the past and how the state bureaucracy affected situations.

It is understood from Gündes's accounts that the actions and statements of the years between 1960 and 2000 were correct.

So, when the state institutions could not deal with a situation, it employed men from the mafia, hired hit men from outside and lured them to fire guns “in the name of the country.”

Gündes explained very well the logic that dominated MIT in the past. He demonstrated the miserable state this institution was in by “kissing mafia boss Alaattin Çakici on both cheeks” and sending his regards to him. Gündes's words made me sad for MIT. I was one of those that believed this institution to be more proper not only today but also in the past. Apparently it is no different from other security organizations.

There is no need for discussion anymore.
The state's security units employ people from outside and instigate them, or simply look the other way when it serves their purposes.

Here are the memoirs of some retired officers, their explanations on TV, the accounts of former police or law officers, the statements by Gündes.

On top of all these add the treatment of Ogün Samast, the police and the gendarmerie, and you will see what is trying to be done.

It was something else that actually stopped ASALA:
I would like to add a last point here:
It was not the right wing militant and mafia boss Çatli or mafia boss Çakici that finished off the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA). They are bragging in vain. It was the raid of Paris's Orly Airport in 1983 that finished the ASALA off. Feeling ill at ease by the raid, the French and U.S. Armenians who used to support ASALA monetarily stopped the aid and the issue was closed. I know this through French authorities that were involved. The ones that were instrumental in the stopping of the aid were MIT and the Foreign Ministry. Otherwise, ASALA did not yield because it was afraid of the Turkish bullies. They were stopped because they had gone too far with their murders.

Athens now views Western Thrace differently:
Going back a while in history one remembers how Greek governments used to view the Turks in Western Thrace. They were not even called “Turks” but were called a “Muslim minority.” They were treated as Turkish spies and were not allowed to buy real estate or exercise their basic rights. Each declaration by Ankara was seen as interference in their domestic affairs. According to the conspiracy theories, Turkey was using the Turks of Western Thrace to divide Greece and attach this portion to Turkey.

Years have gone by and a lot has changed. Greece became a full member of the European Union. With this membership it both prospered and its self-confidence increased. As a result of this, the residents of Western Thrace, once seen as a “dangerous minority” are now treated as “Greek nationals.” There are still some issues, but the Turks of Western Thrace started seeing themselves as Greek nationals also. They seek their rights just as EU citizens.

We are able to witness the change in climate when we see the images of Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis's visit to Western Thrace at the beginning of the week. The minister was met with applause by the Turks.

While explaining Athens policies for the future, Bakoyannis said investments in Western Thrace will increase and citizens with Turkish backgrounds will be able to benefit from these investments. She emphasized that the country's self-confidence has increased.

Yes, there are shortfalls. Nevertheless, it is clear that Greece is ahead of Turkey in terms of its approach to minorities. This should not upset us. The contentment of Turks in Western Thrace means our contentment. The age of hindering each other and being hostile is over. There may be conflicts about various issues but we need to get used to living together, to tolerating each other.

In both countries, there are groups of people that feed on feelings of hostility toward someone. As they raise their voices in the face of tension, they fuel disagreements. However, the way things are going, it seems that even the voices of fanatics will be subdued.


Washington, Baku Concerned About PKK Cells In Caucasus
Turkey has attempted to drive PKK fighters out of northern Iraq in recent months
(AFP)

Azerbaijan's government has raised concerns with U.S. officials that militants from Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) are expanding from northern Iraq into the Caucasus and could be setting up cells in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov tells RFE/RL that the PKK issue was the main focus of his talks on February 14 with visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on Terrorism Frank Urbanchik.

"We suggested that this issue be watched closely," he says. "These issues will be more broadly discussed, I believe, in the next round of talks between Azerbaijan and the United States."

Like Turkish officials, Azimov describes the PKK as a "terrorist group." But Azimov stops short of confirming Turkish state media reports that allege the PKK has already moved from northern Iraq into the Azerbaijani districts of Fuzuli and Lachin. Both of those districts have been occupied since the early 1990s by ethnic-Armenian forces who waged a separatist war in Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

But Azimov does suggest that PKK fighters are moving closer to Azerbaijani territory. "Lately, we have been watching [PKK] activities...very closely," he says. "Due to the problems that Turkey is facing, we have been very vigilant. According to the information we are receiving from different sources, the activities of this organization are approaching our country."

More specifically, Azimov says the PKK is building "close relations" with "terrorist groups and organizations" that are enemies of both Turkey and Azerbaijan -- a remark seen in Baku as a reference to Armenia or ethnic-Armenian forces.

Government officials in Yerevan have consistently denied Turkish media reports that PKK militants have moved into the districts of Azerbaijan that are occupied by ethnic Armenians.

Independent and opposition media in Azerbaijan also report that PKK militants are now active in parts of Azerbaijan. Those reports alleged that ethnic-Kurdish officials in Azerbaijan's government have been backing the PKK -- a claim that Baku also denies.

U.S. Regional Concerns
Jonathan Henik, a public-affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Baku, confirms that the United States and Azerbaijan have been discussing the threat of PKK militancy. He says most of Washington's previous discussions on the issue had been with Turkey or with European governments.

But Henik says the United States is increasingly concerned about what appears to be growing ties between the PKK and other groups in the Caucasus that have been deemed terrorist organizations. He says Washington is also worried about the threat the PKK poses to energy infrastructure in the Caucasus.

Click image to enlargeThose concerns focus on a 1,770-kilometer pipeline that carries Caspian oil from Baku through Georgia and on to southeastern Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

About 20 million ethnic Kurds are scattered mainly in northern Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Describing themselves as the world's largest stateless minority, most live in southeastern Turkey, where the PKK has fought an insurgency since 1984. More than 30,000 people have been killed in that fighting, most of them ethnic Kurds.

Though the PKK declared a cease-fire in 1999, fighting by separatists resumed in southeastern Turkey in 2004. Authorities in Ankara fear that the Kurds in northern Iraq plan to set up their own state -- a move that would stir tensions and lead to increased calls for autonomy by Turkish Kurds.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul raised the issue during talks at the White House in early January with U.S. President George W. Bush. After that meeting, Bush told reporters he supported Turkey's efforts to fight the PKK militants in northern Iraq.

"Relations between the United States and Turkey are important for our country. And we have worked hard to make them strong," Bush said. "And I believe they are strong. We deal with common problems. One such problem is our continuing fight against a common enemy -- and that's terrorists. And such a common enemy is the PKK. It's an enemy to Turkey. It's an enemy to Iraq. And it's an enemy to people who want to live in peace."

(RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service correspondent Alekber Raufoglu contributed to this report from Baku.)
http://dndtalk.com


Armenian FM: "I Support Discussion Of The Problem Of Garabagh And "Genocide" At A Conference In Munich"
www.today.az Feb 13 2008, Azerbaijan

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan considers the fact that the issues, connected with the Garabagh conflict, "Armenians' genocide" and closing of Armenian-Turkish borders, were raised at the Munich conference, to be positive.

"Turkey's Prime Minister Rejep Tayip Erdogan addressing the conference introduced his country as a democratic state, striving for accession to CoE and promoting peace and stability in the region and on the whole. I told him that closed Armenian-Turkish borders can not be the policy of peace-keeping and stability and it is impossible to settle the issue by means of the positive and balanced policy of Turkey on the problems of Garabagh and "Armenians' genocide", Vardan Oskanyan said.

According to him, his question, asked in a form of a small speech, was quite calm and constructive, while Erdogan's reply was not concordant to it.

"Erdogan has demonstrated a standard approach which is not new to us", Oskanyan noted.

It should be noted that Armenia and Turkey to not maintain diplomatic relations and the Armenian-Tyurkish borders were closed in 1993 by Ankara's initiative.

Official Yerevan declares readiness to restore relations with Turkey unconditionally. However, Turkey puts forward a number of provisions for restoration of bilateral relations, in particular, Armenia's rejection of the policy of international recognition of "Armenians' genocide" and concessions in the Garabagh issue.


AI Fears for Life of Malatya Murder Case Lawyer
Amnesty International 19-02-2008 Ai/ Erol Önderoglu
Amnesty International has started an urgent action call for lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz, joint attorney in the Malatya murder trial; the NGO says it fears for his life.

Amnesty International (AI) has issued an urgent action call because it fears for the life of lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz. Cengiz is the joint attorney representing the family of one of the three men murdered at the Christian Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, in the southeast of Turkey, in April 2007.
No protection granted yet

AI says in its action call issued on 13 February:
“Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer, human rights defender and newspaper columnist, has been threatened and intimidated because of his legal work on behalf of one of three men killed in an attack at a Christian publishing house in April 2007. He has asked the authorities to provide him with a bodyguard to protect him. The authorities have not yet granted this request.”

Cengiz, so AI, was a founder of Amnesty International Turkey and other human rights initiatives. He has represented many victims of rights violations.
“He has been threatened and intimidated on a number of occasions, intensifying since November 2007, when the trial began of those accused of killing the three men at the Zirve publishing house.”
Letters with threatening content

“In November, Orhan Kemal Cengiz saw an article in a local newspaper in Malatya, which included details that he believes could only have been learnt through the interception of his telephone and electronic communications about the case. He later learned that a letter had been sent to the Malatya prosecutor accusing him (Cengiz) of involvement in the murders. The letter also contained other fales information apparently designed to damage his reputation and make him a target. Finally, in January 2008 Cengiz received a letter, the substance of which indicated it had been written by the same person or people who had sent the letter to the Malatya prosecutor. This letter purported to be a letter of support but in fact contained both veiled and direct threats to his safety.”

Reminding the readers of the negligence in the Hrant Dink case, where journalist Dink had reported threats and the police authorities had been aware of murder plans but had not prevented the attack from happening, Amnesty International has called on human rights defenders to urge authorities to protect Cengiz. The appeals are to be sent to Mehmet Ali Sahin, Minister of Justice, Besir Atalay, Minister of the Interior, Nabi Sensoy, Ambassador of Turkey in Washington, Ercüment Yilmaz, Ankara Chief of Police, as well as Ankara’s Duty Prosecutor. (EÖ/TK/AG)


Raffi Hovannisian Panders to Turkey At the Cost of Political Bankruptcy By Appo Jabarian*
August 29, 2007, Armenia's Heritage Party leader Raffi K. Hovannisian sent a letter of congratulations to the then newly elected Turkish president Abdullah Gul.

He wrote: "The deep divides between our countries, be they of contemporary character or part of the legacy of the Great Armenian Dispossession, must be overcome and resolved in truth, with integrity, and through the partnership of the two new leaders and their fellow citizens of good faith and conscience."

Soon after the content of the letter was revealed, the highly insulting term "Great Armenian Dispossession" used in lieu of the words "The Armenian Genocide" sent political shockwaves in Armenia and the Diaspora. Heritage Party officials hoped the issue would disappear with the flow of time. But the exact opposite happened.

On February 13, Armen Tsaturyan of "Hayots Ashkhar" (The Armenian World) wrote a scathing commentary against Hovannisian. He stated: "If we set aside all the political major and minor likability and non-likability issues and are guided by cool logic, we can not define Raffi Hovannisian's action except with one word: 'Treason.'"

Tsaturyan reported that Hovannisian pandered to Turkey as follows: "It is to be hoped that, during your tenure and that of the next Armenian president to be elected in several months' time, Turkish-Armenian relations will enter a wholly new phase of reflection, exploration, discovery, and ultimate normalization."

"It turns out that the son of historian Richard Hovannisian, a notable heir to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, needs further 'studies' on the issue of the Armenian Genocide. With his outlandish proposal to co-initiate 'studies,' he is furthering the Turkish obvious goal to establish a joint commission of historians. And that is the shortest route to subjecting the facts of the Armenian genocide to suspicion," concluded Tsaturyan.

On February 16, according to Noyan Tapan news agency, in an open letter to the Heritage Party, the chairman of the Armenian community of Slovakia Ashot Grigorian blasted Hovannisian: "No doubt, Raffi Hovannisian should have been well aware of the political value of the term 'genocide,' whose importance is hard to overestimate today. Turkey is ready to pay dearly if the Armenians agree to replace the term 'genocide' with any other word. ... In his letter, Hovannisian replaced voluntarily the term 'genocide' with another term more acceptable to Turks, thus ruining the work we have done for years and decades. This calls into question today the result of the huge and hard work on passing the resolution on the genocide in the National Assembly of Slovakia. The resolutions passed by the parliaments of about twenty countries have also been deprived of meaning."

An Armenian activist underlined: "As the saying goes, one should not change horses in
mid-stream, Armenians have invested decades of effort to get the words Armenian Genocide recognized. There is no reason to abandon that and start using another word. In fact, the smart thing to do would have been to use all sorts of words like 'forced deportation', 'mass killings', 'ethnic cleansing', 'dispossession', but use these words in addition to 'genocide', NOT in its place. Also, why is Raffi congratulating Gul? He is neither the President nor the Foreign Minister of Armenia!"

One wonders, what's going on in the Hovannisian households in Los Angeles and Yerevan?

In early 2006, the grandfather Prof. Richard Hovannisian of UCLA, reportedly told RFE/RL that "in some respects Armenia is now an even less democratic state than Turkey, its historical foe regularly castigated by the West for its poor human and civil rights record."

On July 30, 2007, on the eve of the passage by U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee of the Armenian Genocide resolution 106, Raffi's son and the elder Hovannisian's grandson Garin wrote in the Washington Times: "... Bad congressional resolutions might well begin to sound like good Philip Larkin: 'Sexual intercourse began /In nineteen sixty-three. .../ Between the end of the Chatterley ban /And the Beatles' first LP.'" This was not the first time that the second junior Hovannisian has ridiculed and poked fun at his martyred Armenian ancestor's Cause.

And now, his father, Raffi, all too willingly attempts to jeopardize the Armenian Cause in return of personal political gains.

In 1992, the Raffi Hovannisian the Armenians knew and respected was the steadfast Foreign Minister of Armenia who clearly uttered the words Armenian Genocide in Turkey. He was fired by the then president of Armenia, Mr. Levon Ter Petrossyan ironically for having been honest. Then, Raffi remained in Armenia and pursued the objective to become the next president of Armenia. His efforts were blocked. When that didn't materialize, his father, Prof. Hovannisian slapped Armenia in the face by preferring Turkey as a "better Democracy" than Armenia. What a change for the worse! Then Raffi's son Garin "punished" Armenia. So if Turkey is a better democracy than Armenia, how come he is not relocating to what is now called Turkey and pursue his political ambitions there by presenting his candidacy for the presidency of Turkey?

By having pandered to Turkey, Hovannisian overdrew on what was left of his political capital in Armenia-Artsakh and around the world. He effectively antagonized literally millions of Armenians. Every year millions of survivors and their descendants flock to the Armenian Genocide monuments in Yerevan and elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands mobilize in marches condemning Turkey's continued denial of the Genocide and the wholesale forced occupation of the Armenian lands.

Hovannisian has de facto attempted to torpedo the justice pursued by the clear majority of Armenians. But in fact he torpedoed his own political career.

The overwhelming majority of Armenians in the homeland and the Diaspora would prefer to see their beloved republics of Armenia and Artsakh transform their soviet-era corrupt bureaucracies into healthy, fully functioning government bodies. But that desire, along with the urge to seek personal political gain, does not give the Hovannisians or anyone else a green light to make erroneous statements, unfairly belittling, and even worse undermine their fledgling new republics and provide damaging ammunition to the enemy.

*Executive Publisher/Managing Editor, USA Armenian Life Magazine, appojabarian@gmail.com



Disclaimer: Our Media Scanner Posts include only a fraction of the News items selected from up to 1500 Turkish & Armenia Related excerpts we receive every week.
An Interview With Former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans
08-02-08
Long-time Asbarez correspondent and contributor Raymond Kupelian recently attended the Armenian Heritage Cruise, where former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans was a special guest. During the trip, Kupelian interviewed the Ambassador. We present the interview below.

Raymond Kupelian: You became a legend for millions of Armenians around the world. To them, you are more popular than the US president. You earned that popularity the hard way; by endangering your job and your future as a diplomat. What prompted you to follow your conscience?

John Evans: The last thing I was thinking about when I decided to level with my audiences about the Armenian Genocide was whether it would make me “popular” with anyone. To the contrary, I knew that doing so would make me very unpopular with my own employer, the U.S. Department of State, and that was very much on my mind. But I felt then, and I feel now, that it was unhealthy for American officials, elected or appointed, not to be able to discuss serious issues honestly with fellow American citizens. It is almost impossible to speak honestly and with any credibility to a knowledgeable audience, Armenian or non-Armenian, while pretending, for policy reasons alone, not to know and recognize that the Armenian Genocide happened.

R.K.: Why is the State Department so obsessed with the idea of not offending Turkey, while, when invading Iraq we realized how unreliable our so called “staunch ally” was?

J.E.: I would not say that the State Department is “obsessed” with not offending Turkey; rather, the cold, rational calculus has always been that Turkey is our NATO ally, and that we would go out of our way to avoid “offending” the Turks, even at the cost of withholding the truth about the Genocide. In fact, no U.S. official has ever denied the facts about what happened in 1915; it is only the characterization of those facts as a case of genocide that has been withheld.

As for the March 2003 decision of the Turkish National Assembly not to grant U.S. forces the possibility of invading Iraq from Turkish territory, that was a decision that the Turks made after intense discussion, and, although the Administration did not like it, NATO Allies remain sovereign powers and can take such decisions on occasion.

R.K.: The world looks upon the US as the bastion of democracy, moral values, and the future architect of a just and decent world. What message is the Bush administration is conveying to our friends and foes by covering up crimes committed against humanity, specifically the Armenian Genocide?

J.E.: I believe the world still views the United States as a leader in human rights, although that reputation, which was decades in the making, has certainly been tarnished in recent years. Our policy of going along with Turkey in its denial of the Armenian Genocide is clearly motivated by current considerations of Realpolitik rather than by any innate desire to “cover up” crimes against humanity. In March of last year, in a hearing on U.S.-Turkish relations, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried actually used the term “ethnic cleansing” to refer to the events of 1915. “Ethnic cleansing” is seen as a crime against humanity, although the phrase, which has negative connotations on account of its implication that some territory needs to be “cleaned,” has been called “genocide from the point of view of the perpetrators.”

R.K.: Isn't our unconditional support to Israel radicalizing the Moslem world, when half of our oil supply comes from the Middle East? And yet we shy away from just pronouncing the G world, to not offend Turkey?

J.E.: There are really two questions here. The United States has supported the State of Israel since its foundation sixty years ago this year, and there is no reason to imagine that that support will not continue indefinitely. It seems to me that the important thing we could bring to the central Middle East conflict is our credibility as an honest broker of a just and lasting peace. I'm afraid we have lost some of that credibility in recent years.

As for Turkey and the question of the Armenian Genocide, I think I have already given you an answer.

R.K.: Recognition of the Genocide has been pushed to the back burner, as some of our intellectuals were advocating for years. By sheer evolution, now the G word has conceded its place to Reparation. Armenian political leaders were moving toward the Reparation long before the failure of the House Genocide resolution 106. With Turkey knocking at the doors of EU, is there any chance of settling the long overdue issue?

J.E.: The so-called “Copenhagen Criteria” that the European Union agreed Turkey would need to meet in order to qualify for accession to the EU do not include recognition of the Armenian Genocide, although mending relations with its neighbors and opening the land border with Armenia are included at least by implication.

It seems to me that a measure of compensation for the wrongs committed by the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire is more likely to come about as the result of a political process that includes democratic political evolution within Turkey than as a consequence of any single legislative or judicial act.

R.K.: There are two ongoing presidential elections; the US Primaries and the one in Armenia. As for US elections, who are your choice among the democrats and the republican Candidates?

J.E.: As one who has long been an independent, I have not yet fully made up my mind yet. But I like what Senator Obama has said about the need to put an end to the genocide that keeps happening in our world and about the Armenian Genocide in particular. He is reported to have said, when the question of my statements about the Genocide were being discussed: “That the invocation of an historical fact by a State Department employee could constitute an act of insubordination is deeply troubling and is a clear sign that it is time to revisit the Administration's guidance on this issue.”

R.K.: Are you planning to write a book about your recent experience with the State Department, on the Armenian Genocide?

J.E.: Yes, I am working on a book about the issue of the Armenian Genocide.

R.K.: What is your impression of the Secretary of State Ms. Condoleeza Rice. As a person of African descent, one would have expected her to be more sympathetic toward the sufferings and the plight of others?

J.E.: I do not believe it is fair to generalize about Dr. Rice's views either from the facts of her own heritage or from her policy 's which has long been the policy of successive Secretaries of State of both parties 's on the Armenian Genocide.

R.K.: In recent years, beside Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, you where one of the few high ranking person in the foreign services, subjected to harsh treatments, to say the least. Are you hoping to be vindicated with a democratic win in this year's White House race?

J.E.: I see very little in common between my case and that of Ambassador Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame. They became embroiled in a party-political matter. The issue of the Armenian Genocide is not a partisan one.

I do not look at our elections this year as an opportunity for vindication, but I do hope that the new administration, of whichever party, will take a fresh view of the issue of the Genocide. My book will contain some practical, though principled, suggestions as to some things that could and should be done about it. As discussions during this Armenian Heritage Cruise have again shown, the issue is not simply going to go away.

R.K.: Are you planning to sue the State Department or Secretary Condoleezza Rice for their ill advised behavior?

J.E.: No.

R.K.: Would you be willing to return to Armenia as the U.S. Ambassador?

J.E.: Yes, but only on the condition that the U.S. policy of withholding the historically accurate qualification of the events of 1915 as “genocide” is changed.


Erdogan, Oskanian Spar Over Armenian Issue At Munich Conference
13 February 2008 Today's Zaman
An international security conference held in Munich over the weekend was the scene of a quarrel between Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and Armenia's Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, with Erdogan accusing the Armenian side of avoiding dealing with historical facts on their allegations of an alleged Armenian genocide during the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

Opening the 44th annual Munich Security Conference, Erdogan also reiterated an offer he had extended to Armenian President Robert Kocharian in 2005 that calls for a joint committee of Turkish and Armenian experts to study the allegations. The call has remained unanswered by Yerevan to date. "At the moment, the Armenian foreign minister is also here. Look, I extended my invitation and sent a letter in 2005. ... There is no such thing called genocide in our culture and civilization. It is not possible for us to accept this, either. We are ready for any confrontation and are ready to speak with information and documents," Erdogan said.

When Oskanian interrupted his remarks by saying "You are speaking about peace, but our border is closed," Erdogan continued: "Mr. Oskanian, look, when I became prime minister, as you know, there were no air links between Armenia and Turkey. I came, I opened the doors for airline transportation. Cargo transportation flows from Armenia to I.stanbul now as well."

Noting that his government took the initiative to restore a historic Armenian church in the eastern Anatolian province of Van and that 10,000 Armenian citizens are currently residing in Turkey for work, Erdogan added, still addressing Oskanian: "I have no problem with my Armenian citizens. We get along extremely well with them. Other than that, more than 40,000 Armenians have come to my country. I wonder why? You should ask yourself, why did they come? ... Because Turkey is a country of peace."


Prime Minister Of Turkey Avoids Answering Questions On Regulation Of Armenian-Turkish Relations
Noyan Tapan Feb 12, 2008
MUNICH. On February 9-10 Vardan Oskanian, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, took part in the 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy.

The conference was presided over by Horst Teltschik, the former National Security Adviser of Germany. Leaders of different countries, 40 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence, about 500 guests, that is to say, mass media, research centers, experts of international relations, who discussed the existing and future security challenges in a straightforward atmosphere, were present at the conference.

Recep Taiip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, delivered a speech on the foreign policy and security of Turkey under the main title of the conference: "The world in chaos - change of forces -lack of strategies".

After his speech Vardan Oskanian made commentaries and touched upon the viewpoints voiced by Prime Minister Erdogan with regard to Turkey's being a democratic and main strategic performer contributing to peace and stability in the regions and beyond its borders.

Taking into consideration the fact that the Prime Minister of Turkey is proud of the democratization process and the strategic role of Turkey in establishing peace and stability both in the region and beyond its borders, Vardan Oskanian said: "Mr. Prime Minister, you also affirmed your distinct position concerning becoming a full and equal member of the European Union and we in Armenia are for that. We want to have that kind of neighbor.

However, as you know, at present, the border between our countries is closed by Turkey. We have often raised this question mentioning that we would like to have normal relations with Turkey: open borders and diplomatic relations.

Armenians would like to be direct beneficiaries of the vision introduced by you today. However, we heard you distincly and clearly repeating the two main motives or excuses for keeping the border closed. The first of the voiced reasons is Armenia's involvement in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the second is the fact that Armenia is after the recognition of the Genocide.

However, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is proceeding between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and the recognition of the Genocide is our moral and historical obligation. Mr. Prime Minister, our countries are not at war at this moment and under these circumstances, when we are not at war, are the reasons you brought enough to justify the fact that the borders between our countries is closed?

You can help us to quickly regulate the Nagorno Karabakh conflict with your positive involvement. The establishment of normal relations, the opening of borders and the establishment of diplomatic relations will allow us to discuss the differences of our approaches with regard to the Genocide problem.

Interesting processes are proceeding and Turkey can become a natural bridge between the Caucasus and the European Union and NATO. And I wonder, do not you think that with a more positive involvement in the region, with the establishment of equal and neutral relations with everybody Turkey will play a more positive role in the regulation of our relations with regard to the abolition of the obstacles you mentioned?"

The Prime Minister of Turkey did not answer the questions of Vardan Oskanian concerning the perspectives of the regulation of the geopolitical situation and relations. Instead he repeated the suggestion on creating a commission of historians and said that the 1915 massacres have not been historically proved, on the one hand suggesting historians and archeologists studying the problem, on the other hand rejecting the possibility that the Genocide is a part of the Turkish culture.

According to the information provided to Noyan Tapan by the Press and Information Department of the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, within the frameworks of the conference Vardan Oskanian had bilateral meetings with Petras Vaitiekunas, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, and Volker Stanzel, the political director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.


Minister Oskanian Participates In The 44th Munich Security Conference
armradio.am 12.02.2008
Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanian participated in the 44th Munich Security Conference on Saturday and Sunday February 9 and 10.

Former German Defense National Security Advisor Horst Teltschik, who heads the conference, presided over the two days during which several heads of state as well as more than 40 foreign and defense ministers, and 500-plus members of the media and international policy makers participated in open dialogue about current and future security challenges.

Under the general conference topic of "The World in Disarray -Shifting Powers - Lack of Strategies," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Turkey's Foreign Policy and Security Interests.

Following the Prime Minister's statement, Minister Oskanian took the floor, responded to Erdogan's articulation of his vision as a democratic and major strategic player in the region and beyond, contributing to peace and stability.

Minister Oskanian began by acknowledging that the Prime Minister takes pride in Turkey's democratization and "its geostrategic role in our region and beyond, to achieve peace and stability." Minister Oskanian continued by saying, "Mr. Prime Minister, you also reiterated your firm commitment to becoming a full member of the European Union, which we in Armenia support. This is precisely the kind of neighbor we would like to have. But as you know, today the border between our two countries is closed by Turkey.

We've often raised this issue, stating that we would like to have normal ties with Turkey, open borders and diplomatic relations. Armenians would like to be the beneficiaries of the vision you projected here today. But we have heard you, loud and clear, repeating two main reasons, or excuses, for keeping that border closed. One of your reasons is Armenia's engagement in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the second is our pursuit of genocide recognition. The Nagorno Karabakh conflict is between Armenians and Azeris.

Genocide recognition is our moral, historic obligation. Our countries are not at war, Mr. Prime Minister, and I wonder whether short of being at war, the reasons you always offer are sufficient to justify maintaining closed borders between our two countries. You can help us, by your positive engagement, to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Having normal relations, open borders and diplomatic relations, will allow us together to address our differences on the genocide issue. There are important processes going on and Turkey can be a natural bridge for the Caucasus, with EU and NATO. So I wonder whether you think that with Turkey's positive engagement in our region, with equal, neutral relations with all, Turkey wouldn't play a more positive role in addressing those very issues that you consider to be obstacles for normalization of our relations."

Turkey's Prime Minister did not respond to Minister Oskanian's questions about the geopolitical situation and prospects for normalization.

Instead, he repeated the offer to convene historians, spoke about "1915 massacres being not proven historically" and on the one hand offered historians, archaeologists and others to study the matter, and on the other hand rejected the possibility of genocide being part of Turkish culture.

During the conference, Minister Oskanian held meetings with Lithuania's Foreign Minister, and the German Foreign Ministry's Political Director, Dr. Volker Stanzel.


You Are The Ones Perpetrating Genocide; Get Out Of Karabakh
by Turan Yilmaz Hurriyet Feb 10 2008

"Sharp Exchange" Reported Between Turkish Premier, Armenian Minister

The sharp exchange between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanyan has put its stamp on the Security Summit [ 44th Munich Conference on Security Policy] that began in Munich yesterday. Erdogan accused Armenia of perpetrating "genocide" against Azeris in Karabakh.

Erdogan is attending the summit, which is being held in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof under tight security measures, as an honorary guest and delivered the opening address. Erdogan also answered questions at the summit, which is attended by more than 250 participants, including the foreign and defence ministers and military officials of 47 countries. When Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan referred to Erdogan's remarks that [Turkey] "is ahead of its time" and asked why diplomatic relations have not yet been established [between Turkey and Armenia], Erdogan responded with the following sharp comments:

'Your Citizens Are Running'
"There was no air cargo transportation between Turkey and Armenia. I opened the gates when I took office. Today, there is cargo transportation between Turkey and Armenia. The Armenian church on the island of Akdamar [in Van] was in ruins. We restored it and opened it to serve our Armenian citizens as a gesture. Furthermore, today, in my country, there are more than 40,000 Armenians who are not our citizens. Why do these people run and come to my country? We do not have any problems with Armenians who are our citizens. However, you should ask yourself why Armenians run from Armenia and from many other places in the world and come to Turkey. [They do so] because Turkey is a country of peace."

'Genocide in Karabakh'
"The resolution of the Minsk Summit [as published] in connection with Nagorno Karabakh has not yet been implemented. The world considers Armenia an occupier. Leave that place - get out so that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Azeri can settle there. They are also our kinsmen. Why do you not take a positive posture on this? The Karabakh events clearly demonstrate who has seized whose property and who has perpetrated genocide against whom.

'Very Unbecoming'
"Massacred Christians, Armenians. On what basis do you say these?

This is a very unbecoming approach. What information do you have in your hands? I wrote a letter and issued my invitation. We opened our archives. Armenia should also order its archives and open them if it can so that archaeologists, historians, political scientists, and legal experts can conduct research. Then we can decide as politicians.

'Prepared to Face Up'
"It is inappropriate to level accusations against Turkey with the argument that massacres were perpetrated only in 1915. There is no genocide in our culture or civilization. We are prepared to face up to anything. I invite Armenia to make its own preparations. We cannot accept attributions of genocide to us in parliaments of the world as a result of lobbying. We will come to a reckoning with our history if necessary."

Signed Golden Book
Prime Minister Erdogan visited Bavarian Premier Gunther Beckstein yesterday. During the visit, Erdogan signed the Golden Book of Bavaria. Erdogan's wife Emine and Beckstein's wife Marga were also present during the signing ceremony and press briefing. After the briefing, Beckstein gave a dinner in honour of Erdogan.

'We Are not at War'
Erdogan was upset with the following question from Armenian Foreign Minister Oskanyan: "There are no diplomatic relations between us. Our border is closed. When we ask why, you always refer to developments related to the genocide of 1915 and Nagorno Karabakh. However, we are not at war with you. Why can we not sit down and discuss these matters? Why can we not establish diplomatic relations? We have no preconditions."


WAC Prioritizes Collection Of Materials On Karabakh And Genocide
13.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The World Armenian Congress is presently focused on collection of documents on the Armenian Genocide and the Nagorno Karabakh problem, WAC President Ara Abrahamyan told a news conference in Yerevan.

“The package will be produced to the in International Court of Justice in The Hague. The WAC has already issued a three-volume edition edited by international law professor Yuri Barsegov,” Mr Abrahamyan said.


Professor Criticized For Genocide Views
Professor Ali Igmen was the focus of defamatory remarks, sent possibly to him by a CSULB faculty member, for his insistence on the existence of an Armenian genocide.
By: Rosaura Figueroa and Erin McKenzie 2/13/08
The Scholars in Conversation on the Armenian Genocide forum on Tuesday proved to be controversial on the most personal of terms for Ali Igmen, director of the oral history program at the Cal State Long Beach History Department. Igmen was targeted during the forum's discussion and debate on allegations of propagandizing his views on the hotly debated existence of an Armenian genocide.

According to Igmen, the allegations came from a tenured professor from another college at CSULB who attacked Igmen's credibility for supporting definition of the events as genocide.

The tensions surrounding the controversial subject may have led to an increased police and security presence at the presentation. Protesters were told to stand in the back room before the disputed Armenian genocide forum took center stage.

The panel discussion included experts Richard Hovannisian from UCLA and Taner Akcam from the University of Minnesota, who discussed their investigative findings with a full audience of students, professors and guests.

Both Hovannisian and Akcam emphasized the Turkish rejection of any such genocide taking place between 1915 and 1918. The Turkish government claims the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians was a result of a civil war and the targeting of Turks by Armenian rebels, rather than genocide.

"It is important for a society to face its own history," Akcam said. Few Turkish scholars are willing to discuss the topic openly and are apprehensive about using the word genocide, according to Akcam. He also said that avoiding the term allows for the liberty of denial.

The panel did not include any scholars who supported the Turkish's government stance on the issue.

"Some students approached me and said that both sides were not represented," said Igmen after the forum. "But they were civil and polite, and I was not upset by them."

About a dozen supporters clapped as an open question-and-comment session highlighted the absence of any opposing viewpoint.

"[It's] not possible to consider a denialist point of view," said Akcam.

Hovannisian added that to invite a scholar who supported the Turkish government's official stance was equivalent to inviting a Holocaust denier to a forum on the genocide of the Jewish population and others during the times of Nazi Germany.

According to Akcam, the Turkish government has done a cleansing of national archives in order to destroy proof pertaining to an Armenian genocide. He referred to the absence of any such incident in Turkish textbooks as a case of social amnesia and denial.

However, Akcam said that not all proof could be destroyed because the Armenian genocide was a massive state effort that left trails.

Hovannisian said the 800 accounts he has gathered from survivors of the genocide were proof that could not be ignored. He also compared the Armenian genocide to background music - it's there all the time, but we never listen to it.

Akcam called for a need of more Turkish scholars who are willing to recognize and discuss the Armenian genocide as a crime.

"Turkey must change their language," said Akcam.

Currently, the word genocide is considered a national threat to the Turkish government, according to Akcam.

Hovannisian pointed to fear of financial repercussions as one reason for the Turkish government's unwillingness to acknowledge an Armenian genocide, which he described as unique because it fulfills all five aspects of the United Nations' definition of genocide.

Andy Franks also contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2008 Daily 49er


Today.Az Armenian Foreign Minister: "I Support Discussion Of The Problem Of Garabagh And "Genocide" At A Conference In Munich"
13 February 2008

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan considers the fact that the issues, connected with the Garabagh conflict, "Armenians' genocide" and closing of Armenian-Turkish borders, were raised at the Munich conference, to be positive.

"Turkey's Prime Minister Rejep Tayip Erdogan addressing the conference introduced his country as a democratic state, striving for accession to CoE and promoting peace and stability in the region and on the whole. I told him that closed Armenian-Turkish borders can not be the policy of peace-keeping and stability and it is impossible to settle the issue by means of the positive and balanced policy of Turkey on the problems of Garabagh and "Armenians' genocide", Vardan Oskanyan said.

According to him, his question, asked in a form of a small speech, was quite calm and constructive, while Erdogan's reply was not concordant to it.

"Erdogan has demonstrated a standard approach which is not new to us", Oskanyan noted.

It should be noted that Armenia and Turkey to not maintain diplomatic relations and the Armenian-Tyurkish borders were closed in 1993 by Ankara's initiative.

Official Yerevan declares readiness to restore relations with Turkey unconditionally. However, Turkey puts forward a number of provisions for restoration of bilateral relations, in particular, Armenia's rejection of the policy of international recognition of "Armenians' genocide" and concessions in the Garabagh issue.
/Novosti-Armenia/


Gates Denounces Armenian Genocide ResolutionAP
The U.S. defense secretary said Tuesday that both Turkey and the United States needlessly damage their relations by sniping at each other and said they should stop it.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates mentioned no concrete examples but clearly referred to a resolution pending in the U.S. Congress that would accuse Turkey's predecessor state of committing genocide against its Armenian neighbors a century ago.

"Our two nations should oppose measures and rhetoric that needlessly and destructively antagonize each other," Gates said in a speech to the American Turkish Council, a business group that promotes U.S.-Turkish relations.

Gates continued: "That includes symbolic resolutions by the United States Congress as well as the type of anti-American and extremist rhetoric that sometimes finds a home in Turkish political discourse."

Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent joint identical letters two weeks ago to House leader Nancy Pelosi and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos, both Democrats, and the leader of the Republican minority, John Boehner, that said passage of the resolution would put U.S. security at risk.


Florence Avakian Discusses The Armenian Genocide On Al Jazeera Television United Nations, NY
- Florence Avakian, an accredited United Nations journalist, and free lance writer based in New York, recently was interviewed on Al Jazeera television which has a worldwide audience of over 70 million. The interview which took place at United Nations headquarters in New York, focused on the Armenian Genocide, and its prospects for recognition by the United States Congress.

She emphasized that the issue was one of moral and human rights, and should not be compromised because of political expediency. This first genocide of the 20th century was a catalyst in persuading Rafael Lemkin to call the mass slaughter of a people a "genocide", she said.

Ms. Avakian pointed out that early United States administrations had recognized the magnitude of the Armenian tragedy perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey, and that The New York Times during that period, had run front page articles about the horrific events. This accentuated the plight of the refugees, and resulted in American efforts to help the survivors. Even Hitler, she reiterated, had chillingly stated, "Who remembers the extermination of the Armenians", before he started his own plan.

When asked about Turkey's intention to close the American base in Turkey, as well as other such threats, she said the issue must not be one of "callous political expediency", As an influential world power, the United States should stand up as a beacon of justice. Even today, the world is seeing genocides and ethnic cleansing continue, with virtually no action taken to prevent them, a precursor to future genocides, she noted.

With huge military and industrial corporations joining the well-financed Turkish lobby and the Bush administration to stop the Genocide bill, several members of Congress caved in, causing the bill to be tabled indefinitely, she pointed out.

While a freshman student at Hunter College High School in New York, Ms. Avakian had represented her school on the NBC television series "The New York Times Youth Forum" on the topic of genocide. At that time, she was privileged to meet Rafael Lemkin who was the moderator of the program.

Florence Avakian received a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Political Science on a Falk Fellowship at Michigan State University. She was also awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship in Journalism to Cornell University, and an English Union Speaking Fellowship to Oxford University in England.

At the United Nations, she has interviewed several world leaders including India's Indira Gandhi, Georgia's President Edward Schevardnadze, Turkey's President Bulent Ecevit, and Cypriot Presidents Archbishop Makarios, Glafkos Clerides, and Spyros Kyprianou, among others. She is a regular member of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA).

In the last several years, Ms. Avakian has had her Op Ed articles on the and Armenian issues published in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Examiner, Baltimore Sun, and the Hearst Feature Service Ms. Avakian is a frequent contributor to The Armenian Reporter, and to Ararat Magazine. She is also the news reporter in English every week on the Armenian Radio Hour of New Jersey.
By Harry Koundakjian


Turkey In 2008 Through The Eyes Of A Foreigner [Letter To The Zaman Editor]
Up until recently I had not shown any particular interest in Turkey. Sure, I knew German Turks or Turkish Germans and, of course, I regularly shopped at the Turkish supermarket in my area in Mainz-Kastel. I also enjoyed stories about Nasreddin Hodja. But that was about it.

Last year this changed dramatically. First of all, I became acquainted with Mevlana Rumi and Yunus Emre. Then a trip to the Turkish Riviera and a visit to Konya were real discoveries. It made a lasting impression on me when I stood at the shores of the Mediterranean near Phaselis at the place where Alexander the Great and his troops spent the winter before the battle of Issos; when I experienced the atmosphere at the Mevlana monastery in Konya; and when I reread the story of Apostle Paul's visit to Ikonion, where the population did not receive him in a very friendly fashion. I stood above the city of Alanya in the fortress of Sultan Kaykobad, who must have had a very interesting, open and knowledgeable personality. I suddenly realized that Anatolia was a very special region in the world, and that this has to do with its cultural and historical role as a crossroads of many civilizations throughout the centuries and millennia. So I was eager to also get to know Istanbul, a city I finally visited just a couple of weeks ago. It is probably too much to speak of a culture shock, but there was and is a lot to digest.

For example, I could hardly have imagined that you would have such a fierce debate in predominantly Muslim Turkey about the issue of the headscarf. I was simply not aware of the fact that women wearing headscarves were not allowed entrance into Turkish universities. And I was really surprised about the vehemence of the emotions attached to this question. I had for some time been angry about our debate on this issue in Germany. Why should the state intervene into people's lives on the question of their dress? And what really is the difference between a state that demands the wearing of the headscarf and a state that bans it?

I was also not just a little surprised to read in an English-language daily in Istanbul, that a liberal professor of a university in Ankara had been sentenced to 15 months in prison because he had dared to criticize the founder of the Turkish Republic. His critique was actually nothing dramatic. I also learned through this case of Mr. Atilla Yayla about the hotly debated Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). It concerns the crime of insulting "Turkishness." I have to confess; I didn't know much about Kemalism and had never read the Turkish Constitution. But I tried to imagine what would happen if the German government were to decree the introduction of the Cyrillic script, the "purification of the German language" and the banning of traditional folk costumes in the rural areas of Germany. What would happen if it were to put the churches under state administration or prevent any criticism of Otto von Bismarck, for example, in the name of "respect for German-ness or Prussia's glory"?

Having said this, I fully understand the historic role that Atatürk played as the savior of Turkey and founder of the modern Turkish Republic. Without him, the British probably would have eliminated not only the Ottoman Empire but also the possibility of Turkey's survival. Without him, Turkey would not exist today as a state with a population of more than 70 million inhabitants and a tremendous potential for development. But it is obvious that the great founder of modern Turkey bequeathed the country a heavy burden, one which for many now seems to be more of an obstacle than support. Anyone who visits Istanbul, this wonderfully situated city on the border between Asia and Europe, a city which is rightly praised in all the guide books for its ethnic and cultural richness, cannot deny that that this city is indeed one the most culturally diversified places on earth. So what does "Turkishness" mean in this context? What can it mean for the Kurds and the other ethnic communities that inhabit Turkey?

Maybe there is a bit of naiveté involved when I say the problem of the Kurds and the question of the fate of the Armenians, could be solved relatively easily. What would speak against the idea that the Turkish government would open negotiations tomorrow with those groups or parties of the Kurdish population that reject violence, in search of a federal solution to their basic aspirations? What would speak against the Turkish government's pulling together a group of historians and specialists, who would go through the Ottoman archives -- or German or British historical documents, for that matter? I don't think that the most important aspect of the Armenian question is to answer whether or not there was a genocide against the Armenians or "only" massacres. The really important question is how could members of different ethnic groups that had lived together in peace for a very long time, become archenemies practically overnight? How did the mechanism of manipulation function when circles in Britain and France decided to destroy the Ottoman Empire and divide it among themselves and other nations?

I have reached the firm conclusion that most of the questions that right now are so fiercely and hotly debated in the Turkish media and public are merely secondary. They are obstacles that have to be removed. Even the question of Turkey's entry into the European Union is being taken much too seriously, especially given the deepening crisis that Europe finds itself in. My impression is that Turkey needs, more than anything else, confidence in its own country and population. The country needs a deeper understanding that real wealth and a perspective for the future lie with its predominantly young population. The country needs development, it needs a viable development perspective, too -- especially for eastern Anatolia. During my stay in Istanbul I also read about the grave problems of the Turkish railway system. Most of it has not been touched in 100 years and the rail administration is considering introducing safety measures like seat belts on their trains. Wouldn't that be an appropriate to build a modern railway system that connects all parts of the country? I am sure Turkish experts could work this out in no time.

By the way, the industrial development of Germany started with the idea of a national railway network by Friedrich List! And of course, today we have the maglev technology. It is fast, secure and runs without noise. It is also very much suited for the Taurus Mountains.!
Michael Weißbach, Germany. 13.02.2008


Not A Language Of Struggle, But Of Peace!
In Turkey the search for chaos never seems to end! We seem to keep feeling the need to scratch the scabs … and everything just has to be black and white for us.

Our textbooks don’t write about a search and struggle for a peaceful, levelheaded, compromise-leaning language of politics. We have been this way for years. We instead have a political tradition that contains no dialogue, compromise, or culture of tolerance. No matter what topic we take up to discuss here in Turkey, whether it is the Kurds, the Alevis, the Armenians or secularity, our political style does not change. I know these contradictions are very difficult. But what we do makes them more and more difficult -- and in this way we continually choose different camps, preventing ourselves from ever getting anywhere.
13.02.2008 HASAN CEMAL, MILLIYET


The 'Deep State' Is Smiling At Me In The Malatya Massacre Case - I - IV
February 9, 2008 Orhan Kemal CENGIZ

I am facing difficulties in writing this article. It is even difficult to explain how and why I find it difficult to write this piece. Anyway, after having carefully weighed it, I decided to go on and write it. Why it is difficult? Because I will be giving a response to a seemingly “personal attack.” Furthermore, by writing these articles, I may be increasing the risk I am taking as a result of my human rights work. And finally, these revelations may provoke more attacks against me and the legal team, which may serve the attackers' purpose of creating confusion and smoke surrounding the Malatya massacre case (On Apr. 18, 2007, three Christian missionaries were ruthlessly murdered by a gang of Turkish nationalists in the eastern Anatolian city of Malatya. The killers broke into Zirve Yayincilik, a Bible publishing company, first tortured and then killed their victims by slitting their throats.) However, finally, I have come to the conclusion that this is a historical responsibility on me. We have had enough tolerance towards the irritation that we have been confronting for some time.

This is a serial about some “news,” “informer letters” and “personal support letters,” all of which I believe have been written and prepared by the “same hand” in order to create “disinformation and confusion” about a case as well as aiming at intimidating those who try to protect the victims rights.

To explain what I am trying to say, I will have to make long quotations from some texts and I would like to thank you for your understanding. As it is known, a lot of controversies rose in the context of Malatya massacre case and the case got a massive coverage in the press and media. However, there is another battle of nerves behind the close doors and I will try to give you a glimpse of it.

After the horrendous incident took place in Malatya, while the investigation continued, I received an “informer letter.” Who am “I” in connection to this murder case? I am the legal consultant of alliance of the Protestant organizations and the legal representatives of the victims. In this letter, someone with the name of “Ali Aslan” was accusing high-ranking gendarme officers, a professor of theology and one of the directors of an ultra nationalist party with conspiracy to commit these murders. According to this short letter, if these people's prior telephone conservations were checked it could be established that all of them are in contact. Then I did not have a deep knowledge about the case file (it was declared confidential until the prosecutor brings his case against the accused) and I did not pay enough attention to this letter. However, after a while our legal team sent it to the prosecutor with a petition accompanying it.

It was the first sign that some dark relations were surrounding this case. The second sign came when we first went to Malatya a few days before the first hearing. Then we realized that there had already been a campaign against me and the legal team in the local “media.” It was quite surprising to see the hostility towards us. Some people, for some reason were quite irritated with the fact that the victims are being represented with a strong legal team. In addition to that, when we looked into some of the details in these “news” we came to the conclusion that some of the information contained in these pieces could not have been gathered without intercepting our telephone conversations and electronic communication. I will explain these “elements” in the following pieces. But, first of all I would like to give you the “local taste.”

Here you can read a long excerpt from one of the local newspaper covering the Malatya murder case.

The title of the article reads: “Is this a new game?”

Let us read the rest of it together:
“It has been indicated that on Friday, Nov. 23, 2007, a huge army of lawyers will participate in the hearings regarding the Zirve publishing house incident. In addition to the huge army of lawyers and the German television channels that will participate in the hearings, it has been noted that Cengiz, who has been the legal consultant for the Association of Turkish Protestant Churches since 2002, came earlier to Malatya and has reserved space for 27 people at the Altin Kayisi Hotel, possibly with the intention of influencing the court, due to the importance of this case. It has been observed that lawyers from the Diyarbarkir Bar Association will be among the army of lawyers coming to Malatya to participate in the hearings regarding the Zirve Publishing house murders. Among them will be the lawyer of the PKK terrorist organization leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Some are interpreting this as a deliberate and planned attempt to shape public opinion. According to the information that has been obtained so far, those attending the hearing on Friday will include: Izmir Bar Association Lawyers, Nalan Erken, Murat Dinçer, Oya Aydin, Hafize Çobanoglu, Ali Koç and Serkan Cengiz; Istanbul Bar Association lawyers, Fethiye Cetin (who handled Hrant Dink's case), Hakan Bakircioglu (the lawyer for Agos Newspaper) and Ayse Batum (one of the lawyers who visited Abdullah Ocalan at Imrali); and Diyarbakir Bar Association Lawyers, Tahir Elci and Sezgin Tanrikulu.

Why Orhan Cengiz?
Following the murder that came to light at the Zirve Publishing House, Ihsan Özbek, the Senior Pastor of the Kurtulus Churches and the President of the Turkish Protestants, came to Malatya and said he would follow the event closely. On his visit to Malatya he said, “If necessary, we will sell snails in a Muslim neighborhood.” Some believe that this remark, construed to be provocative, led to the decision to withdraw Ihsan Özbek and bring in Orhan Kemal Cengiz, as a replacement.

Attempts to conflate three events?
On Sunday, Feb. 5, 2006, Andrea Santoro, the 61-year-old priest of the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Trabzon was killed after celebrating Mass. In February 2007, Hrant Dink, the General Manager of the Agos Newspaper, was killed in an armed attack outside Akbank on Gazi Caddesi in Sisli Halasgar. On Apr. 18, 2007, the German citizen Tilmann Ekkehart Geske, Necati Aydin and Ugur Yüksel were killed in the Zirve Publishing House in Malatya. A desire to conflate three separate events has been noted.

It is noted that, in the past, those aiming to divide the country along the lines of right – left, Sunni – Alevi, or Kurdish – Turkish, refused to give up their aspirations and received support from outside the country. It is necessary not to forget that these events are being brought together in an attempt to make them appear as a genocide or enmity between religions…It has become known that lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz will hold a press conference following the hearing…”

- - - - Part II - - - -

In the first piece of this series I quoted from news coverage in the local media in Malatya about the “legal team” representing the victims in this case. The tone, the style and the way it prepared clearly shows that “the writers” of this news aimed at creating hostility toward us and trying to show us as if we are there for illegitimate purposes. This effort starts with the title, “Is this a new game?” and goes like that along the text.

However, when we went into the details we realized we were not only confronting a bunch of hostile “journalists” there, but this was a “prepared and delivered” story. The details showed us very clearly that “some circles” tapped telephone conversations between the members of the legal team and somehow penetrated into our e-group which we use to discuss our legal strategies and to get organized. Anyway I would like to give you some specific examples of some items which can only be obtained through interception of our communications.

The names of the lawyers who were going to come to Malatya for the hearing are given in it. There were only two (normal) ways of obtaining these names. One is to check the hotel reservation book and the other one is to look at the power of attorneys given to the court. They could have obtained all the names of lawyers with these ways but except one. Mr. Serkan Cengiz's name was not registered in neither in the hotel book nor did he deliver a power of attorney to the court then. The only way to obtain his name was to check the list of the members of the legal team's e-group, which is of course not public.

In the news coverage they inform the public that Mr. Ihsan Özbek, pastor of the Kurtulus Church, will not come to Malatya for the hearing and I was replaced with him. I am their lawyer, so it is not possible to have this kind of replacement but somehow the “authors” of this news coverage knew that Mr. Özbek would not come to the hearing. I requested him not to come for security reasons. Mr. Özbek did not declare to anyone that he would not come to the hearing.

The text mentions our possible legal strategies in this case. It is true that we were planning to submit a new context to the court in which we intended to show the similarities between Santora, Dink and Malatya murders. However, this intention was never declared anywhere. Somehow these local newspapers knew it and were able to inform their readers about our strategy.

There is very specific information in that news coverage that I would like to mention specifically. It mentions that we were making a preparation to allege that the crime concerned was indeed genocide. This was true. Some time ago before the hearing, Mr. Ergin Cinmen, a member of our legal team, called me from Istanbul and he suggested to offer the court to change the qualification of the crime from “terror” to “genocide.” And he explained his reasons for this demand. I agreed with him and I said “let's discuss this in the legal team's meeting before the hearing in Malatya.” Namely, this idea of us was even not known by our other friends before our meeting in Malatya. However, this newspaper somehow managed to guess what we would demand before the court.

In that mews coverage it is stated that I will make a press conference after the hearing in Malatya which was true again. However, like many other things, this was not declared anywhere; it was only known by the members of the legal team.

After considering all these items, we came to the conclusion that somehow this news coverage prepared by one of the “intelligent” agency or with the help of them.

Strange things continued to happen while we were in Malatya for the first hearing. In the first hearing we submitted some petitions to the court in order to show them how we perceive the case. A volunteer assistant stayed at the hotel during the hearing and tried to send these petitions to the members of the press while we were delivering them to the court. However, he was not able to enter into his email accounts; whenever he attempted to lodge into his mail addresses he saw the same sentence on his screen: “entrance into this website was forbidden by the court's order.” His three different accounts were blocked and he was in shock when came back to the hotel from the court room.

Apparently, someone did not like the idea that our petitions will be on a wide range circulation. Of course there was no such “court order” but there were some people who somehow knew that this computer was going to use for the distribution of our petitions and they were able to stop our communication by using this “label.”

Highly 'sophisticated' letter of conspiracy :
While we were having a legal team meeting in Izmir for the second hearing, a quite weird news arrived into our meeting room. Journalists kept calling us, asking if we had any information about an “informer letter” which attributed whole responsibility of these murders on me. Everyone had a difficulty for a while to understand what that was all about. This is a very long letter. But I would like to make long quotations to give you the taste of Turkish style conspiracy producing:

“Important lessons had been learned from the Africa Mission. The Asia, Middle East and Turkey Mission should be directed in the same way. But some unexpected events began to occur. Within the Mission, the German "School" (ekol) began to dominate. This had to be stopped. And that's exactly what happened. On 13.12.2004 the covert group ('Kripto') was mobilized and given its operational orders. In relation to this, certain problems had begun to be discussed within the Adana, Malatya, Diyarbakir and Van Mission. For example, the rivalry in Malatya between the German School the American School had gradually begun to turn into enmity. In this respect, the Mission's bosses in America had begun to feel a significant unease regarding Germans within the Mission. The Americans thought that if this problem was not solved, in time, American interests in the region would suffer. The Germans had the opportunity to become dominant across the board. The plan was put into effect in a very professional manner. America employed Armenians under the umbrella of the covert group. The Armenian Protestants would work for America. The Germans would be liquidated. Since I am here only discussing the Malatya dimension, I won't talk in detail about Istanbul, Nevsehir, Kayseri, Adana, Mardin, Urfa, Van, Diyarbakir. Because important events will shortly take place there, too. From now on Kripto is going to take decisive steps. Turkey is going to be covered with blood.”

There is subtitle after this paragraph, reading:
“The Employment by Kripto of Orhan Kemal Cengiz for the Purpose of Conducting Operations and Making Plans”What it is written under it, is the subject of the next piece

- - - Part III - - - -

I am the lawyer of the victims in the brutal murder case of three Christian missioners (by slitting their throats) in Malatya. And the story gets complicated

In the last piece of this series, I completed my article with a long quotation from a so called “informer” letter, accusing me of conspiring of all murders in Malatya and put it in the context of an internal conflict within the protestant community, namely between Americans and Germans. This story is getting complicated, again I should remind you, I am the lawyer of the victims in the brutal murder case of three Christian missioners (by slitting their throats) in Malatya.. You may laugh and put aside this letter thinking it is just written by an insane person. However, I have different ideas. The letter, which you are about to read, I think, was written and sent to the court to meet different needs and purposes.

1) When you read it carefully, you will see that, it is not trying to be convincing. Instead it prefers to seem very speculative and implausible. Why? Because I think, it would like to say to the court that every kind of conspiracy can be produced about anyone, no matter what his position is. As if it is trying to tell the court that “even a human rights lawyer, defending the rights of the victims, can be accused of conspiring the murderers and then appear before the suspects as a person who accuses them and try to get them punished as heavily as possible. In this context, I would like to remind you that there is an uninvestigated “informer letter” in the court file, accusing some high rank soldiers, an academician and a director of one of the ultra nationalist party for paving the way of these murders. Just consider how the court will review it after having this conspiracy letter about me.

2) This letter attempts to create smoke and confusion surrounding the case and me. It is trying to sow the seeds of suspicion about me. There are so many details and it tries to provoke some ordinary people to think that there must be some truth in it. It tries to create an image of me, that can be demonized easily and comfortably. If they decide to kill me in the future than the pretext will be ready. Mr. Cengiz was the head of American mission and unfortunately he was killed by the German mission who tried to take revenge. This might be funny for you but do not forget how highly regarded conspiracy theories are in Turkey. Some people even tried to assert that Hrant Dink was killed by an Armenian, because the Armenian lobby was irritated by Mr. Dink's approach to the Armenian matter.

3) This detailed letter of conspiracy once again includes some details which can only be obtained through interception of my communications. Almost all information contained in this letter is wrong but there is one single element that makes me very suspicious about it. I really went to the U.S. after some time of the incident, to give a presentation to the Orthodox community there in order to give them some ideas about the legal aspects of the problems of the Patriarchate. The “authors” of this letter knows these events and try to distort them in their letters.

4) I think this letter also a kind of personal letter addressing to me, saying, “you went much further Mr. Cengiz and you underestimate our capacity.”It also includes some details which may be specifically put in it to refer to my private life. For example it kept saying “Cengiz's relatives.” I do not have any relatives in Malatya but the family of my former wife, whom I divorced more than three years ago, were from Malatya. It says I was driven out of Nevsehir. My only connection to this city is my former girlfriends. One of them was from this city and the other one was on duty in Nevsehir for a while. I am not sure about these particular points but I think they might also be messages to me to point that “we know everything about you Mr. Cengiz.”

Anyway, after these long explanations, let us read the rest of the letter. However, unfortunately I have to leave out some parts of this text (originally more than four pages long) in order to be able to use my space within its limits. Sorry for that:

‘Mr. Cengiz the Devil':
“On 13.12.2004, the Covert Group selected Orhan Kemal Cengiz as the most suitable person for this task. In mid-2005, the Covert Group sent a delegation to Turkey. After lengthy negotiations, and tons of money changing hands, Orhan Kemal Cengiz was employed. This only became known later – even by the brothers in the Mission. As a matter of fact, someone by the name of M.H. - an employee of English MI6 - gave us this information. On the basis of this information, we took a decision as MBW, in Nevsehir. We informed the brothers in Istanbul, Samsun, Trabzon and Malatya to stay away from this man. So, I can clearly state that Tilmann's murderer is Orhan Kemal Cengiz himself. The following brothers know for sure that we issued this warning: M.P., S.H., B.K., S.G., K.Y., D.H. Because together with these brothers we drove Orhan out of Nevsehir. But we stuck to him like glue so that his filth would not spread. So, Orhan will be very familiar with these names. That is, as long as he doesn't start his demagogy again. Because he has received special training in broadcasting sensationalist news and in manipulating communities.

Orhan Kemal Cengiz is Armenian to the point of racism. He is a Protestant who knows Malatya well, even having relatives there. Cengiz, who joined the Protestants, being baptized in the 90s later managed to convince people of his devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ through his service in the earthquake- stricken region. Before he was completely broke but since joining the Mission, Cengiz' belly is full and there's money in his pocket. He is a bloody murderer, one of the Covert Group's bloodthirsty hitmen.

Cengiz, the employee of Kripto, managed to gather together these youths who murdered Tilmann by using his old relatives from Malatya. But he himself was nowhere to be seen, he always used others to do his work. (…) In this fashion, the kids had been organized, the operation would be undertaken and finally they would be taken overseas so the crime could not be solved. The youths had been given cheques in the value of YTL 480,000 and YTL 350 in cash. This is how the kids were deceived. At Cengiz' request, they had each been advised to write a letter. In any case, they would be heroes. But after the operation began, the kids lost control of the business. Cengiz' faithful friends Ryan and Gokhan, who had been brought into the Malatya mission, now stepped in and, according to their instructions, changed the course of this business, taking it in a completely different direction. And the events were given the appearance of a murder driven by the kids' bigotry.

One of the most important reasons for the operation against the Germans was the opposition to America which had developed in Turkey. Germans within the Mission and at other levels were behind this anti-Americanism. For this reason, Germans in Turkey and especially brothers within the Mission, needed to be careful about this man. He ordered urgent protection of Tilmann's wife, Suzanna (sic), and his children. They were just using sister Suzanna to help the Americans. Because through Orhan Kemal Cengiz, $8 million intended for sister Suzanna was transferred to the Armenians.”

Tasks given to Cengiz by Kripto':
Some time after these events Orhan Kemal Cengiz was called to America where he gave activity and outcome reports. Directives were given by Kripto about his subsequent activities. Orhan Kemal Cengiz was rewarded with $10 million. Orhan Kemal Cengiz was given complete authority to mobilize and organize the other minorities as well. He was given authority regarding efforts aimed at opening the Heybeliada Seminary and securing an ecumenical character for the Fener Greek Patriarchate. Cengiz was also give lots of money toward his law practice.

- - - Part IV - - -

So what is the deep state? It is a joke. I hope one day we all laugh at the shallowness that it created!

Orhan Kemal Cengiz have been trying to tell you the story of complicated and sophisticated harassment and intimidation attempts toward a human rights lawyer in the case of the massacre of three Christians in Malatya. And this story is not completed. It is still unfolding.

The letter I was quoting in the last piece ends with a so called “death list.” After this letter reached the court file, I received a “support letter” in which someone pretends to be an “Armenian” from Malatya and supports me. For me, it is so clear that behind this “Armenian” voice are the same people who have been trying to manipulate the case and create smoke around me. They had sent a letter to the court, claming that Orhan Cengiz is an Armenian and that a so-called “Armenian” sent Orhan Cengiz a supportive letter. Under this “Armenian's letter” is the signature of “Ali Aslan,” whose name was also on the informer letter accusing the gendarme commanders in Malatya of these murders.

Allegations, counter-allegations – some dark forces are fighting over this case. Finally I learned that one of the alleged conspirators in the Malatya murder case has been visiting newspapers and trying to tell them a complicated conspiracy theory. This man, with the name V.B.A, whose name was mentioned by the suspects in the Malatya case as someone who “inspired” them to fight against Christians and who was caught with a automatic rifle (AK-47) in his possession in Adıyaman, started to give statements to some media outlets as soon as he released from prison, accusing me of being the conspirator of the Santoro, Dink and Malatya murders.

They are now widening up the scope of their conspiracy theories. Finally, it becomes crystal clear to me that their attempts will not stop, and I have applied to a prosecutor in Ankara, telling the whole story, and applied the Ankara governor for police protection. I am being threatened by “the deep state.”

Human Rights organizations' response:

Amnesty International issued an urgent action for my protection. (http://www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa04008.pdf ) Three major human rights nongovernmental organizations in Turkey (Human Rights Association, Mazlumder and Helsinki Citizen's Assembly) made a common declaration to urge the government to stop the harassment that I am facing in connection with the Malatya massacre case. I am grateful to them. I have been working as a human rights lawyer for the last 15 years and I am well known to human rights circles in Turkey and abroad. I cannot help thinking what kind of devastating effects this campaign would have on a person with less experience, with less of a support base. It would probably be devastating!

Deep state is not deep at all:

This article's title bears the phrase “deep state.” Actually, it is not deep at all. It is too apparent, too obvious. They do not even bother to hide. In such a case as the Malatya murder trial, which is closely watched by the world, they feel themselves free in their efforts to harass the victims' lawyers. Where does this power come from? The answer is simple: Impunity!

The so-called “deep state apparatus” in Turkey knows that even their cheapest manipulations will not be investigated; they will not be touched. They know Turkish society is dying to buy their cheapest sick theories. If there are buyers, there will always be sellers. Turkish society has always tended to go in the direction the conspiracy theories' creators wanted them to go. Look at Turkey's history of coup d'etats. You will see how the support base prepared step by step for these military interventions. Look at the history of political murders; you will see that conspirators have always won. If they wanted to provoke Kurds, they killed Kurds; if they wanted to provoke seculars, they killed a secular figure, and so on. After all of these murders, Turkish society took the path the conspirators wanted them to take. Why should they give up, then?

Thought-provoking reader comments:

I received support from many individuals during these irritating times. One of them is Hans A. de Wit, whom Turkish Daily News readers will remember from his remarkable articles published in this newspaper. Hans has a nice Web blog (http://internationmusing.blogspot.com). He published the third piece of a series on his Web site. I just checked readers' responses to its publication on this Web blog. They are very interesting and thought provoking. I would like to share them with you.

These are the reader comments on conspiracy theories about me.

Thomas said: “The results of an insane and sick, deeply sick mind, or minds. There are tons of people in Turkey who will believe this 'letter' as I experienced.”

Tufan said: “Nothing new under our Turkish Sun.But what disturbs me is this:a) Turkish migrants reading Hürriyet take everything for granted, even if Turks are killed.b) The complete ignorance of the Turkish public about the real power struggle, a.k.a. the military.c) The ridiculous stance Hürriyet takes. I am ashamed by fellow Turks abroad; they still cannot think on their own. Intelligence poverty.

d) Why, and why does a foreigner like Hans always have to point out these pacts? Are Turks cowards? Yes, they are!!!”

Gulay said: “no, Turkish people are generally like sheep or the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) would not be in power... As for this article the really sad part is that a lot of Turks will believe this as their belief in some vast conspiracy to destroy Turkey (which after Paris 1919 may be well founded) never stops... This also says much about the appalling standards of Turkish journalism”

Hans replies: “Gulay, the Sevres syndrome is obviously still alive.Yes, Turks act like sheep; it is no more for the AKP than it is for the CHP (Republican People's Party). I miss one thing in Turkish society: proactivity. It is so much a boss culture. Many Turkish people always look for a father figure. Only people who spend several years in the United States, Australia or Europe have a much more critical view. I've seen so many talented Turkish young people getting crazy in the workplace since their bosses stick to an ‘I am the boss, you listen only' mentality.”

So what is the deep state? It is a joke. I hope one day we will all laugh at the shallowness that it created!
orhan.kemal@superonline.com


Late Congressman Lantos Had Stormy Relationship With Turkey
February 13, 2008
The only Holocaust survivor in Congress had voted for and against 'Armenian genocide' resolutions at different times

Ümit Enginsoy Washington - Turkish Daily News

In his long career in the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, either as the panel's chairman or senior Democratic member, Tom Lantos several times had to deal with resolutions calling for U.S. recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide, winning Turkish officials' admiration and invoking ire at different times.

Lantos, 80, died Monday at Maryland's Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington from cancer of the esophagus.

When the House panel, then called the International Relations Committee, took up a genocide resolution in October 2000, Lantos stood against the argument that the Armenian deaths amounted to genocide. His staunch defense of the pro-Turkish position made him a hero in the eyes of many Turkish officials.

The resolution passed the committee but was stopped on the floor when then President Bill Clinton made a last-minute personal appeal against its endorsement.

A similar legislation came to the same committee in September 2005, but this time Lantos' position was different.

Championing Israel's interests in the U.S. Congress, Lantos was frustrated by what he saw as moves by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government for rapprochement with Iran and Syria, top adversaries of the United States and the Jewish state in the Middle East.

Changing positions:
Lantos this time said he still did not believe that the Armenian killings constituted genocide, but that he would support the resolution to punish Turkey. Passing the committee, the bill failed to reach a House floor vote.

Then came a visit by Khaled Mashaal, top leader of the radical Hamas group in Palestine, a sworn enemy of Israel, to Turkey in early 2006, increasing Lantos' anger with the Erdogan government.

In October last year, the third attempt in the past nine years for the passage of a genocide resolution reached the same House panel's agenda. Following the Democratic Party's landslide victory in the November 2006 congressional elections, Lantos this time was chairman of the panel, renamed the Foreign Affairs Committee.

At the time Ankara warned that any congressional recognition of the genocide claim would likely lead to the curbing of bilateral military ties with the United States, hurting U.S. operations in Iraq.

Speaking at the markup hearing on the resolution, Lantos said he was torn between a need to recognize a "historical fact" and an urge to protect U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Still the Turks hoped that he would oppose the resolution in a final panel vote, but to their huge dismay, he voted for it.

Turkish diplomats voiced their shock and disbelief, and Egemen Bagis, a leading parliamentary deputy from Turkey's ruling party, criticized Lantos, saying his understanding of history was changing with time. The bill once again passed the committee but did not come to a floor vote.

Lantos announced in early January that he had cancer and would not seek a 15th term in the November polls. But nearly a month later he died. Despite some bitter memories, Turkish diplomats were saddened by the death of a former ally, with Turkish Ambassador to Washington Nabi Sensoy sending a message of condolences to Lantos' widow, Annette.

The Armenian National Committee of America and the Armenian Assembly of America, the two largest U.S. Armenian groups, have also said that their community was mourning the congressman's death.


Zealous French Mayor Accuses Turkish Consulate Of Provocation
February 12, 2008 Mustafa Oguz – Turkish Daily News

The next local elections in France slated for March 9 and 16 have had the unlikely effect of pitting a commune mayor against the Turkish consulate general in Lyon.

The socialist mayor of Villeurbanne, a commune of Lyon, Jean Paul Bret accused Turkish officials in the city of pressurizing the Turkish community into endorsing an official view on Armenian claims of genocide, in comments to the Turkish Daily News over the weekend.

Bret is said to have obliged French Green Party candidate, Sirma Oran, who prepared to make it into the common list with the socialists in the upcoming local elections, to pay homage to a monument in Lyon commemorating Armenian claims of genocide. Oran refused Bret's bidding and although she consented to categorize the 1915 killings as genocide she faced continued pressure from Bret finally withdrawing her candidacy at the end of last month. Oran lamented the negative image of Turks in France fomented by some lobby groups afterwards and argued that for the last three years the Turkish community has been exposed to immense pressure.

When the TDN asked the mayor his view on Oran's words, his office brushed away claims that any such pressures were exerted on Turks, and put the blame on the Turkish consulate general.

Bret accused the Turkish Consulate in Lyon of putting pressure on the Turkish community in the city. “Turkish authorities in the city exert pressure on elected officials as well as on the mayor himself,” Bret's office said. The mayor also castigated Turkey's rejection of classifying the 1915 killings as genocide and alleged that it prevented further reconciliation between Armenians and Turks.

An archetype of prejudicial thoughts
Turkish Consul General in Lyon Ismail Hakki Musa dismissed Bret's allegations and said the mayor's arguments betray a prejudice against Turks, who are thought of as a people easily manipulated, in an interview with the TDN. “There are 120,000 Turks settled in Lyon and we are merely 15 or 20 officials at the consulate. It is Turks themselves who proved to be sensitive on these issues,” said Musa.

Turkish associations frequently visit the consulate and reiterate their willingness to integrate into French society, he added. “Turks in Lyon see their origins as an asset but they also endorse French citizenship,” said Musa, and noted that the Turkish community considers Turkey and France as two home countries. “However, they can not bear to hear unfounded accusations about their ancestors,” said Musa.

Expressing contempt for Bret's charges on the Turkish state of being “négationniste” (rejecting the genocide claims) and causing amity between Armenians and Turks, Musa emphasized that Bret is one of the politicians who backed the resolution on Armenian claims of genocide in the French Parliament in 2001.

Bret, a “sui generis” case
The consulate nurtures very friendly relations with the French authorities, said Musa and underlined that the incident in Villeurbanne stands out as an exceptional one. “One should not generalize the incident and think of Bret's attitude as endemic in French political life. Many Turks willingly participate in elections under various French political parties' banners, including socialists,” Musa said.

The Socialist Party's candidate in Strasbourg Roland Ries similarly decried the treatment Oran was put through. “It is unacceptable to force candidates on subjects irrelevant to local elections,” he said. Two Turks in Ries' candidacy list, Mine Günbay and Saban Kiper said they were not confronted with similar obligations.


Deep State Coup Averted in Turkey by Christopher Deliso
On 22 January, Turkish police arrested 33 individuals, some connected with the military, in the largest concerted action against the "deep state" – that shadowy underworld linking extremists and criminals from the spheres of military, political, judicial and the academy. Some were accused of belonging to an ultranationalist group, Ergenekon, that was allegedly "preparing a series of bomb attacks aimed at fomenting chaos ahead of a coup in 2009 against Turkey's center-right government, whose European Union-linked reforms are opposed by ultranationalists." The ultranationalists (who also distrust the Erdogan government for its alleged Islamist agenda) were plotting to assassinate prominent cultural figures, such as Nobel-prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, journalist Fehmi Koru, and possibly Kurdish politicians. The deaths of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, two Italian priests and three Protestant missionaries have already been blamed on ultranationalists associated with the Ergenekon group.

The police had been investigating the group for the past few years, compiling in the process a dossier of some 7,000 pages. The current operation was sparked following a police raid in Istanbul this past summer, which recovered weapons (and some low-ranking military men). But the big fish, including two retired generals, were only caught in the recent police operation. While it seems to have been a major victory for the government and for Turkey in general, many have expressed cynicism that a completely thorough investigation will ever be accomplished. Because the case involves high-ranking officials from the military – that self-appointed guarantor of Turkey's secular, constitutional order – "it remains to be seen whether the cases will be brought to trial," states the Guardian.

But it is not so simple as just a matter of upholding army pride. The activities of the gang, which apparently ranged from false-flag terrorist attacks and assassinations to drug smuggling and espionage, are closely intertwined with the fortunes and affairs of the ruling class in Turkey. As editors and local commentators have been saying, to really act against the deep state is almost unimaginable; no one knows where the trail might ultimately lead.

Deep Background: The Cold War, NATO and the Rise of the Deep State

We do, however, know where it started – and why. Indeed, it is more than a bit ironic that the major recurring threat to society and political stability in Turkey over the past 60 years, the "Deep State," was actually enabled by the country's Western allies, and first of all, America. After WWII and with the creation of NATO, the military alliance created "secret armies" throughout Europe, consisting of so-called "stay behind" forces, charged with waging sabotage campaigns and resistance in the case of a Soviet invasion. However, they became prone to corruption, interference with domestic politics and society, and were in some cases involved with brutality against Leftists and the citizenry in general. While the most famous of NATO's secret armies was the Gladio operation in Italy, it was arguable in Turkey that this dangerous policy had the most serious long-term consequences, with the creation of a stay-behind force known as the Counter-Guerrillas.

The core of this covert paramilitary force was made up of right-wing radicals and fascists who espoused a narrative of inherent Turkish greatness and racial superiority, in the context of not only Turkey itself but of the ethnically Turkic republics of Central Asia (then under Soviet control); there were also the fond dreams of the bygone Ottoman Empire which, in its heyday, spread across the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans.

The Counter-Guerrillas were officially a part of the Turkish Army's Special Warfare Department, and housed in the US Military Aid Mission building in Ankara, according to a Los Angeles Times report from 1998. This department received funding and training from U.S. advisors to establish, as in other NATO states,"stay behind" squads of civilian irregulars who would theoretically vex the invading Soviets. Stocking the staff was accomplished partially through a nationwide "youth group," the Grey Wolves, established in 1969 under the aegis of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its leader, Alparslan Türkes. This Counter-Guerrilla member and ultranationalist politician dreamed of creating the mythical "Turan" – a pan-Turkic empire which would stretch through the Central Asian republics, and include the Uighur Turks of western China's Xinjiang province.

Naturally, the Counter-Guerrillas and Grey Wolves also operated closely with Turkey's intelligence service, the MIT, and were used by right-wing governments to suppress civil liberties. Military coups in 1971 and 1980, and chronic massacres of civilian demonstrators throughout the 1970s, were all led by Counter-Guerrilla/Grey Wolves elements. The American intelligence services at times appear to have been supportive, regardless of the ominous implications for democracy. Immediately after the 1980 military coup that brought General Kenan Evren to power, American CIA Ankara station chief Paul Henze reportedly cabled Washington exulting, "our boys have done it." At that time, the Grey Wolves had 200,000 registered members and one million sympathizers nationwide, though the Turkish Deep State was still in embryonic form compared to the decade that was to come.

When domestic political fortunes changed, important figures such as Colonel Türkes, and other Grey Wolves were arrested. However, those who volunteered to fight against Kurdish and Armenian groups were often released. With the outbreak of war against the Kurdish PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, or Kurdistan Workers Party) in the 1980s, the covert force turned to "black ops" such as torturing and killing Kurds while disguised in PKK uniforms. Further, an Islamic terrorist organization, Turkish Hizbollah (not related to Hizbollah in Lebanon) was reportedly created by the Turkish military and the MIT in the 1980s, to divide the rebelling Kurds in the southeast. In all, up to 20,000 Islamic fighters, most of them Kurds, were indoctrinated and organized into proxy terrorist and assassination squads. Throughout the 1990s, Turkish Hizbollah murdered over 3,000 businessmen and ordinary civilians in assassinations and bombings. This monstrous creation was modeled on America's apparent success in Afghanistan, where it had created bin Laden's mujahedin to fight the Soviets.

The state's role with Turkish Hizbollah was confirmed in February 2000, when former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller admitted publicly that she had ordered the military to arm the group six years earlier. Çiller justified the jihadis as a necessary part of Turkey's own war on terror. In his book Crescent and Star: Turkey between Two Worlds, the former New York Times bureau chief in Istanbul, Stephen Kinzer, recounted Ms Çiller's scandalous statements. "Yes, it was my signature on the order to deliver those weapons," she said. "We met and made a decision. We decided that terror was the main issue and that whatever was necessary to stop it would be done... The military chief of staff, the governors, the police – everyone worked together on it."

The deep state also played a major role in heroin smuggling from Afghanistan through Turkey, a route which now accounts for around 90 percent of heroin smuggled into Europe. Like everything else, there were no clear-cut lines of control between political parties, ethnicities, or services. By 1998, for example, at least 15 MIT officers had been killed in the vicious internal battle between the intelligence service and the police over control of the drug trade. "Only criminal networks working in close cooperation with the police and the army could possibly organize trafficking on such a scale," concluded Le Monde Diplomatique. The celebrated former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds writes that "the Turkish government, MIT and the Turkish military, not only sanctions, but also actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities and networks."

One such network was discovered in 1998, when Turkish police were accused of using their European embassies to aid smuggling. Huseyin Baybasin, known as "Europe's Pablo Escobar," masterminded the drug flow to Britain. According to the Guardian, the Kurdish kingpin was granted asylum there in 1995, in exchange for informing the British Customs & Excise service about Turkish officials involved in heroin trafficking. After his arrest in Holland soon thereafter, Baybasin disclosed that he had received "the assistance of Turkish embassies and consulates while moving huge shipments of drugs around Europe, and that Turkish army officers serving with NATO in Belgium were also involved. "The government kept all doors open for us," he said for the Guardian. "We could do as we pleased." A senior UK Customs officer stated that the drug barons evaded arrest, as they were "protected" at a high level.

The one single incident that encapsulates what the Turkish deep state is all about for many Turks occurred on November 3, 1996 near the town of Susurluk, on the Izmir-Istanbul road. A car crash there killed what would seem an unusual group of friends: the counterterrorism police chief, a Turkish beauty queen, and her lover, the former Grey Wolves leader and drug smuggler Abdullah Catli. Pistols with silencers and machine guns, plus false diplomatic passports, were found in the mangled car's trunk. The only survivor, Kurdish parliamentarian Sedat Bucak, was a tribal chief who administered a swathe of land in the Kurdish southeast as a liegeman of the government. He guarded it with his private army, and "thus acquired the power of life and death over the area's inhabitants," reported the French newspaper. For his part, Catli "was a heroin trafficker on Interpol's wanted list [and] was carrying a diplomatic passport signed by none other than the Turkish Interior Minister himself."

Catli's team of hired assassins were alleged to have worked from a "list" kept by Prime Minister Çiller. According to Le Monde Diplomatique, she hailed him as a "great patriot" at his ignominious funeral. Catli was known for racketeering people by warning them that they were on "Çiller's list"; if they paid up, he could get their names removed. However, "having pocketed the money, he then went on to have them kidnapped and killed, and sometimes tortured beforehand."

Signs of Continuity: Activities, Ideology and Personnel

The dramatic recent arrests of the Ergenekon gang show that the descendents of NATO's secret army in Turkey remain serious threats to internal stability – the extent to which seems to have surprised many Turks, judging from the tone of recent media reactions. Yet it also seems that there is now a popular will to oppose them, stronger perhaps than in years past. This week, across the Turkish media, the cry has gone out to slay the beast once and for all. While the American media seems content to not follow the story through to its logical conclusion, the Turks know better. Respected Turkish columnist Ali Bayramoglu sums it all up:

"…one looking for Ergenekon need not go too far. This is the story of Ergenekon – the Turkish Gladio – from the assassination of [journalist] Abdi I.pekçi [in 1979] to 'the massacre of March 16' [in 1978, when seven students at an Istanbul university were killed in a bomb attack], then peaking in Susurluk and possibly involved in the Council of State shooting [of a senior judge in 2006]."

Indeed, the similarities are striking, and not only in the use of strategic and deceptive organized violence for political ends. The very name of today's troublemakers, Ergenekon, is rhetorically loaded: as the Turkish Daily News reminds,

"…the name 'Ergenekon' implies an ideological link to the Turkish far-right, as in Turkic genesis mythology, it is believed that a gray wolf showed the Turks the way out of their legendary homeland, [the valley of] 'Ergenekon.' Turkish ultranationalists have used the name 'Grey Wolf' for decades."

Recent reports have also attested to a continued reliance on heroin smuggling for funding false-flag terrorism within Turkey. Turkish newspaper Zaman reports:

"…Germany's Niedersachsen State's anti-drug department, the LKA, which tapped the phones of some of the Ergenekon members as part of a narcotics investigation, proved that Ergenekon members were indeed in the drug business as well. The records of a Nov. 20, 2003 phone conversation between retired Capt. Muzaffer Tekin, arrested in June of last year as the owner of the munitions depot found in an Istanbul shantytown that started the Ergenekon operation, and Yilmaz Tavukçuoglu, an alleged drug trafficker, shows that Ergenekon used drug money to fund its activities."

Together with the continuity of violent activities intended, as in years past, to presage a military takeover, the Deep State's rumblings continue to be fuelled by drug profits and enlivened by the old fascistic brand of nationalism. An example is the professor and intellectual figurehead of the movement, Ümit Sayin, who in November urged followers to stage a coup d'état, describing himself "as being anti-Semitic, saying that Jewish people were fanatical, racist and in favor of religious law. 'Hitler was right about certain things,' he said."

In addition, the same cast of characters, some with direct connections to events of years past such as the Susurluk scandal, have been targets of the latest police action. The ringleader of the Ergenekon group, according to the Turkish media, is Veli Küçük, "a retired general who is also the alleged founder of a secret intelligence unit in the gendarmerie," a man who had hovered on the periphery of previous Deep State investigations; though Küçük's surreptitious squad, the JITEM, allegedly "carried out bombings and killings for which other groups were widely blamed," he somehow always managed to not be implicated (a Kurdish former informant quoted by Zaman charges that the general is covering for figures even higher-up sympathetic to the coup attempt).

Another former military man, retired army colonel Fikret Karadag, "also heads the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces (VKGB)," one of several activist groups that have followed in the footsteps of the 1960s-era quasi-political organizations that fed the original Grey Wolves movement. Sami Hostan, another suspect, was "a key figure in the Susurluk investigation." Also arrested was Sevgi Erenerol, a former political ally of Alparslan Türkes, and spokeswoman for the so-called "Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate," a church without a congregation, simply a front and meeting place for nationalist agitators.

The most recent reports claim that Gen. Küçük "had tried to ring 'influential friends' just before his arrest on Jan. 22." Aware that police were closing in, the former general "made eight phone calls to 'influential friends,' telling them that the police were waiting at the door to take him into custody, and asked for help – but his pleas for help were rejected."

However, despite this eleventh-hour setback, other new information reveals the intricate web of plotters, from low-level assassins to high officials, involved in the plot. Zaman adds:

"…a plot to kill Turkey's only Nobel Prize-winning author, Orhan Pamuk, was also among Ergenekon's plans. Newspapers printed transcripts of recorded phone conversations between Spc. Sgt. Muhammed Yüce, Ret. Col. Fikri Karadag and Selim Akkurt, the trigger-man hired to do the job, whose phones were tapped with a court order. Officials say that Yüce, who was also arrested for being part of the Ergenekon organization, said in a phone conversation with the hit-man that he had spoken to Karadag about the planned Pamuk assassination. Yüce told Akkus, that an Istanbul businessman would financially support them as would a prosecutor and a judge in Istanbul's Kadiköy district.

Akkurt, who spoke in a worried tone, is quoted as saying he was concerned he might end up like Mehmet Ali Agca, a deep-state assassin who also shot the pope in the '70s. Akkurt expressed a desire to be like O.S., the teenager who shot Dink in January of last year, saying: 'He has trillions of lira in his account. Plus, those around him have become heroes.' In response to these words, Yüce was quoted as having said: 'You, me and Fuci will take care of Orhan Pamuk. We will have YTL [New Turkish Lira] 2 million in our accounts. Are you with me on this one?' Akkurt is heard giving an affirmative response to Yüce's question in the recordings.

Shortly after his conversation with Akkurt, Yüce sent a text message to a relative in which he wrote: 'We will take care of Orhan after the conference. They will put in [YTL] 5 billion into our account. They will give us a gas station and a villa. Sedat Peker will take care of us while we're in jail.' Peker is an ultranationalist mafia leader with apparent links to deep-state figures."

For Turkish sociologist Cem Özatalay, a wide consensus of powers had grown concerned enough to instigate the recent action: "it is clear that the USA, the General Staff and the AKP [Turkey's ruling party] have agreed to break the back of Ergenekon." Indeed, it is interesting to note that the robust action against the ultranationalist group unfolded not long after Turkish President Abdullah Gül returned from meetings with US President Bush in the White House. And, despite the significant participation of disgruntled elements in the army and former military officials in the plot, it seems clear that the Turkish military as an institution would prefer to keep the uneasy peace with the allegedly 'Islamist' government of Prime Minister Erdogan, rather than engage in old adventures that would diminish Turkey's standing abroad and quite possibly affect its ability to access Western military technology at a time when Turkey is trying to create an independent defense industry of its own. In denying army support for the coup attempt, Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff General Yasar Buyukanit recently stated that "at every opportunity, there have been in the past and there continue to be efforts to link the armed forces with these kinds of things."

Uncharted Territory

Aside from keeping foreign policy leverage and ensuring defense industry cooperation, there might be a third reason why there was not wide support in the Turkish establishment, either civilian and military, for a coup, though at bottom it does have import for watchers of Turkey's deep state activities. This is the planned participation of Turkey (along with other American allies in the Middle East and North Africa) in an American-led program, GNEP, to create nuclear power plants as a means for alleviating energy strain and dependence on oil. On 22 January, as the Ergenekon arrests were going down in Turkey, Washington announced that the country would get the green light to go ahead with the program.

Aside from the rather alarming possible implications of juicing up, say, Saudi Arabia, there are other items of interest here, the most relevant being the question of why an agreement on nuclear technology transfer to NATO-ally Turkey had not been achieved long ago. Indeed, why not? As the AFP reported:

"…the deal stalled shortly after being signed in July 2000 because US agencies received 'information implicating Turkish private entities in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation,' the White House said… 'the pertinent issues have been sufficiently resolved.'"

Whether through a remarkable harmonic convergence of events or just plain coincidence, the GTEP deal is peaking just at the moment Turkey appears to be gaining the upper hand in the struggle against the deep state – and, not to mention, at just the same moment that London's Sunday Times has come out with a serial investigation on what would seem to be exactly this subject: the role of Turkish deep state figures in the theft of American nuclear secrets, at precisely the moment American security agencies were stumbling across "information implicating Turkish private entities in certain activities directly relating to nuclear proliferation."

Some have speculated that legalizing the nuclear trade with Turkey is the Bush administration's way of retroactively legalizing the activities of any of the shadowy governmental figures that the Times alleges were involved with the illicit commerce, so that they cannot be touched in the event that their alleged misdoings are exposed. I do not know enough about how such legislation works to be able to comment on the likelihood of this or not, but even if so, it would seem a rather small element of what is a global program with objectives beyond securing the legacies of a few bad apple bureaucrats.

However, it certainly is remarkable that none of the Western media bodies reporting on the GNEP developments, or on the recent arrests in Turkey, have examined these events in the larger context of the historic US/NATO role in creating the Turkish deep state, and of what the Times alleges, not to mention attempting to put all the pieces together.

Maybe the pieces fit; maybe they don't. Yet unless the mainstream media (the only media well-funded enough to undertake a proper investigation) starts to take an interest, we will never know. After all, no one in officialdom is talking about the Times' allegations and yet, somehow, "the pertinent issues have been sufficiently resolved," says the White House. In other words, Turkey's proliferation violations have been solved – even though they have never been properly explained, or even admitted, by the powers that be.
February 9, 2008, balkanalysis.com




Historian tells UF: Armenians didn't die from genocide during WWI By Katherine Siegel
Special to The Sun

Armenians during World War I died of starvation and disease, not genocide, an Ottoman Empire historian said Friday in a speech sponsored by the University of Florida's Turkish Student Association.
Continue to 2nd paragraph

Justin McCarthy, a history professor a the University of Louisville, was greeted by applause in a half-full University Auditorium and spoke about his research on what others say was genocide against the Armenian people during World War I.

Armenians cannot claim that the Ottoman Empire's intention was genocide because it is clear from his research that the Armenians fought back during the war and even formed guerrilla armies, McCarthy said.

"The Ottomans were defending themselves against this guerrilla war," he said. "The Armenians cut the Ottomans' telegraph lines and revolted when the military came into their towns."

When the Ottomans attempted to relocate the Armenians, Armenians raised up against their own government, McCarthy told the crowd.

McCarthy argued that the relocation of the Armenians was justified because the Ottomans feared them after they sided with their enemy, Russia.

"Lives were lost during the deportation, but the Ottomans never intended to kill the Armenians," McCarthy said.

Surrounding the many Turkish students who attended the event were some who are adamant that McCarthy's conclusions are incorrect.

Tigran Kesayan is a UF freshman microbiology major who attended Friday night's appearance by McCarthy, which was also sponsored by ACCENT, UF's speaker's bureau.

Kesayan, whose Armenian grandparents immigrated to what is now Armenia, believes that McCarthy's research doesn't examine all the facts.

"He makes claims about civil war, but there is overwhelming evidence saying (Armenians) were being exterminated," Kesayan said. "UF is a place of learning, and to have a person who represents such a small amount of scholars who think genocide didn't take place is not learning, it's biased."

Ilknur Oktayer, secretary of external affairs for the Turkish Student Association, said the association wanted to pose the Turks' side of the story and wanted the topic to be debated.

"He is very in the middle and he looks at both sides," Oktayer said of McCarthy. "We believe that he is the most unbiased."
www.gainesville.com


Ararat, 'Ark' Beckon TouristsH. Tzanis
ANA-MPA 02/07/2008

Whereas Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' milestone visit to Turkey late this week may have dominated much of the "weightier" news coming out of the closely watched EU candidate country, a distinctly overlooked press conference -- replete with Biblical connotations --took place last week in a remote and snow-covered far-east corner of Turkey that nevertheless offered glimpses of modern Turkey's unrelenting desire for development and international recognition.

Located on a dry, elevated plain towered over by imposing Mt. Ararat and Lesser Ararat, the dusty border town of Dogbeyazit played host to the off-beat press conference, where a disparate panel of Hong Kong media executives-cum-Christian evangelists, a handful of Turkish academics and scientists along with officials of the host province (Agi) enthusiastically unveiled "material evidence" of the existence of the Biblical Noah's Ark.

The "evidence", resembling a small bolder of a greyish colour, was reportedly tested by a Hong Kong lab and deemed to be petrified wood, according to the two men behind Hong Kong-based Noah Ark Ministries International, Media Evangelism Ltd. founder Andrew Yuen and HK documentary maker Yeung Wing-Cheung.

Both men, who joined local mountain guides for a gruelling expedition atop Mt. Ararat last February, said the object was taken from an 11.5-metre-long chunk of the same material -- called a "large wooden structure" in press releases -- which was found in a cave located at roughly 4,000 metres atop Mt. Ararat. The fabled mountain dominates the landscape in the rugged triangle where the modern states of Turkey, Iran and Armenia converge -- geographically, but certainly not politically. A military presence is easily discernable in the area, as the town hosts a well-equipped army garrison and there are gendarmerie checkpoints on all roads in the province, although locals appear more-or-less unfazed by the activity.

Promises to give samples of the "object" to researchers and labs around the world for independent testing, ahead of another "Noah's Ark" summit in Dogbeyazit in August, and access to the cave on the northwest side of the mount were uttered and repeated, as Yuen casually informed reporters that at least one piece of the material found in the cave will be returned to Hong Kong for display in a future "Noah's Ark theme park". He quickly clarified that "theme park" means a cultural and "inspirational" centre on a Hong Kong waterfront, with construction to come via local government funding and support by a major land developer in the former British colony.

Asked to calculate the costs for his organisation's quest to find and prove that a wooden structure was still somewhere atop Turkey's highest peak, Yuen said "several hundreds of thousands of dollars" since 2004.

For local residents, predominately ethnic Kurds, and central government-appointed officials, Ararat's potential as a draw for "Indiana Jones"-like pilgrims and adventurous tourists wishing to step-off the "beaten path" appeared incalculable. One of the leitmotifs stressed by the local and Hong Kong organisers of the conference was that all three major monotheistic faiths cite the story of Noah, the Flood and the Ark.

The last time the area attracted international attention it was of a decidedly negative light, namely, a series of deaths in January 2006 attributed to the H5N1 virus during the height of the "Bird Flu" scare around the world. The Agri area also witnessed a major Turkish military operation in late 1994 against Kurdish insurgents, whereas the mountain and the surrounding lands at one time formed the medieval "Armenian heartland".

A new three-star hotel in Dogbeyazit is testament to local hopes that venerated Ararat will again lure travellers to the remote Agi and Igir provinces by the thousands. The deep-pocketed Hong Kong Chinese executives also promised to build a museum in Dogbeyazit, a pronouncement that was met with applause in the cold auditorium where the presentation was held.

"(The discovery) supports the thesis of the Ark resting on Ararat," was the way the city's governor, Cemalettin Demirciogu, diplomatically opened the press conference, with a trio of out-of-town Turkish professors merely adding their belief that the Ark rests on Mt. Ararat, "but that more substantiated evidence (of its existence) is necessary".

Indicative of the type of visitor local officials hope will help end the isolation of this under-developed and often turbulent part of the Near East, self-described "Ark researcher" Gerrit Aalten recounts several stories related to his repeated visits to the area and friendship with local people.

Asked if he believes there are remains of a wooden ark atop Ararat, the Dutchman responds, "yes, definitely."


Georgia Doesn't Recognize Armenian Genocide Because Of Dependence On Turkey And Azerbaijan
08.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Every year on April 24 the Armenian community and the RA Embassy in Tbilisi organize a march from Saint Gevorg Church to the Armenian cemetery, Primate of the Georgian Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net.

“Armenians of Tbilisi repeatedly sent letters to the parliament urging to recognize the Genocide but no reaction followed. I suppose, the matter is being hampered by Georgia’s economic dependence on Turkey and Azerbaijan. However, progress is observed. All newspapers cover our April 24 actions. When we stuck posters dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, policemen did not allow anyone to tear them off. The Armenian community of Georgia hopes for the better. Otherwise, it will be hard to survive,” he said.


Pomegranate: A Fruit With A 5000-Year History
 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

Thickened by reduction and then strained, pomegranate syrup continues to develop its niche in the culinary world, where it is used as a salad dressing, marinade, glaze and a powerful and exotic flavor in many dishes

Images of exotic banquets of the past, be they Greek, Roman or Persian, will invariably depict luscious, dusty-red pomegranates, their arils (seed kernels and juice) spilling as if the fruit spontaneously burst, juices tricking with the sheer force of the eruption.

Pomegranates are an ancient and revered fruit.

Pomegranates were among the first fruits to be cultivated, roughly 5,000 years ago. Spreading from Mesopotamia (modern-day Iran), their cultivation moved to ancient Egypt, India, Afghanistan and China before reaching Europe. They are perhaps most famously known through Greek mythology and the tale of Persephone and Hades.

While there are many versions of the story, the common thread tells of Hades kidnapping Persephone and taking her to the underworld as his wife. The Fates dictated that anyone who ate or drank in the underworld would be destined to remain there, never to return to the earth. Hades fooled Persephone into eating four pomegranate seeds, as one story goes. Those four seeds condemned Persephone to four months in the underworld each year. During her initial and then yearly confinement, Persephone's mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, went into mourning and thus the worldly plant life ceased to grow. In ancient Greece, this fable explained variations on weather patterns, the seasons.

Pomegranates have reached out to many civilizations throughout history and remain a symbol of fertility and abundance in Greek and Armenian cultures to this day. Jewish tradition regards the pomegranate as signs of righteousness with their 613 seeds, equivalent to the Torah's 613 commandments. Christian religious ornamentations on garments and hangings for public worship often incorporate pomegranates woven into the fabric. The Quran refers to pomegranates as fruit found in the gardens of Paradise.

According to Mevlana's "Mesnevi," written in 1250, pomegranates were present in Seljuk kitchens. Records from Topkapi Palace show both sour and sweet pomegranates were used in the 15th century. The sour fruit was used in place of today's lemons, which were not readily available in Istanbul and thus imported from the far reaches of the Ottoman Empire. Other references show both sweet and sour sherbets made of pomegranates from the 15th to the 19th century, and sweets of stewed fruits in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In present-day Turkey, market and greengrocer stalls, along with street vendors, sell the fruit anytime from June, but most often between October and February. The fruit found in the latter months will come from storage, where they have been improving with age, developing flavor and juice. Semi-arid lands with hot summers and cool winters are ideal for growing pomegranates. The trees themselves can endure drought conditions and will live for hundreds of years, although they produce the best fruit before they are 15 years old. They also withstand frosts to -12 degrees Celsius, so it is not surprising to find wild pomegranate groves thriving outside ancient, abandoned settlements in Armenia and Georgia.

Whether a pomegranate is sweet or sour depends on the variety and stage of ripeness. Generally, they lie somewhere between the two. They are juiced and found as a beverage in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. Thickened by reduction and then strained, pomegranate syrup continues to develop its niche in the culinary world, where it is used as a salad dressing, marinade, glaze and a powerful and exotic flavor in many dishes. Grenadine, a sweet, red syrup used in cocktails to lend a distinctive flavor and pink color, was originally made from pomegranate juice, although these days it is made from other berries, such as raspberries and redcurrants. Pomegranate arils are found decorating the classic and traditional Turkish desserts such as asure and gullaç.

Dealing with this striking fruit in the kitchen can be a little tricky and a lot messy. The juice stains easily and the marks are very hard to remove, so a coverall is suggested. For juicing pomegranates the easiest way is to simply cut one in half around the middle and press it in a long-handler juicer. Alternatively, roll the fruit on a bench to soften and crush the arils before cutting a hole and letting the juice drip out, squeezing to extract as much as possible. Juice can also be made by smashing the arils, once removed from their casing, in a food processor and then straining the juice through a muslin cloth.

Digging out the arils is easily done in water. Score the pomegranate in several lengths, place in a large bowl of water and soak for a few minutes, then break it apart. Pull the arils away from the white, pithy membrane. The arils will sink as the pith floats, making separating the two infinitely easier. Otherwise, cut the pomegranate in half, lay the cut side down on a plate and firmly tap the arils out with a wooden spoon. Arils can be dried, powdered or just frozen for different uses.
Chemistry from the kitchen

Why does pomegranate syrup burn so easily?
Pomegranates naturally contain sugar. An average size cup of pomegranate juice contains the equivalent of five teaspoons of sugar. About half of the sugar is glucose and the other half fructose. Both of these single molecules are quite reactive and when subjected to high heat, break down relatively quickly. They turn into a range of other compounds, including those that have a sour or bitter flavor, all part of caramelization. This process in itself generates more heat and can quickly burn the sugars, leaving an unpleasant bitterness and burning irritation in the nose. Normal table sugar, sucrose, is also made of the same simple molecules, glucose and fructose. In sucrose however, they are joined together, slowing down their potential for reactivity and requiring a higher heat to start the reaction. Sucrose starts to caramelize at 170 degrees Celsius, glucose at 150 degrees and fructose at a very low 105 degrees, not far above the boiling point of water.

[EASY RECIPES]
Pomegranate syrup
Take as much juice as you like and reduce it over a low heat until the desired consistency is reached. It will burn easily, so care should be taken. For a different flavor, add a cassia stick, ginger, cloves or other spices, while reducing and remove for subtle hints, or leave in the syrup for a stronger kick.

Köfte with sour pomegranate syrup
INGREDIENTS: 420g lean minced beef, 75g (½ medium) onion, finely diced (or grated and juice thoroughly drained), ¾ tsp salt, 3 large pinches freshly cracked black pepper, 15ml (1 tbsp) pomegranate syrup, oil for cooking METHOD: 1. Mix all ingredients for burger together and shape into 24 köfte. 2. Heat oil in a large flat-based pan to medium heat and cook six köfte at a time, turning once and reducing heat to ensure cooked through. Note:The köfte will burn easily if the heat of the pan is too high.

Tomato and pomegranate chutney
INGREDIENTS: For chutney, 200g (1 large) tomato, chopped, 100g (1 small) apple, peeled, cored and chopped, ¼ pomegranate, arils extracted, 30ml (2 tbsp) apple vinegar, 45ml (3 tbsp) sour pomegranate syrup (nar eksisi), ¼ tsp salt, 2 large pinches salt 1. Place ingredients in a medium small pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until all ingredients softened and mixture resembles a chunky sauce when stirred. 2. Serve as an accompaniment to köfte, grilled meats or cheeses.
04.02.2008 Sharon Croxford Istanbul


Ani Fades Away in the No Man's Land between Turkey and Armenia by Albena Shkodrova
Photographs by Anthony Georgieff

We pass by Ocakli, the last Turkish village before the border with Armenia. The mythical Armenian capital Ani, which at the end of the ninth century outshined Constantinople, Cairo, and Baghdad with its splendour, lies somewhere before us. Chronicles called it "City of 1,001 Churches" and a replica of Istanbul’s Saint Sophia used to stand in its centre.

For the time being, however, nothing on the road speaks of grandeur. We are travelling across Turkey's most provincial backwater. Large, desert-like areas and settlements as if from some prehistoric age alternate along the road on which we are alone.

Ocakli seems to be inhabited exclusively by sheep. We see a group of them observing us from behind a low pen wall. Then we notice that they are engaged in wrecking it by pulling out the straw from the bricks. Judging from their matter-of-fact look, they have been working at it for a long time.

The only person around – leaning on a wall, smoking a cigarette, eyes us with surprise. We slow down to make sure we are on the right path and find out that he speaks French almost without any accent. "I live in Paris," he leisurely waves his hand. "I work for Renault, came to see my parents for the holidays."

This time we get over our shock more quickly than the first time, 120 miles to the south, when a woman wearing salwars and a psychedelically bright headscarf astounded us with her Californian drawl.

We may be the only people on the road for the day. The reason is that the tarmac ends where the country ends too. Ani, one of the least known but most intriguing tourist destinations on the globe, is a mile ahead.

We approach it along the Silk Road. If Marco Polo had not been a fraudster, as an increasing number of historians claim, our car tires are treading the ruts of his horse’s hoofs.

Today, it is impossible to retrace his steps across Asia due to political as well as geographical reasons. One of the obstacles is nearby – the same bridge that the Venetian traveller crossed was detroyed. Centuries ago...

Ani has been in ruins for the last seven centuries. After the First World War, the ancient city’s remains fell into a zone of considerable political tension. Three conflicts of Kemal Atatürk's Turkey – with the Soviet Union, Armenia, and the Kurdish separatists, led to severe travel restrictions being imposed in the course of decades. The Soviets enforced a 700-meter "security zone" into Turkish territory, similar to the one still that’s still in place in southern Lebanon. Nobody was allowed here, including journalists.
The Quarrymen

Ani is one of the symbols of the contemporary Armenian nation just like the Ararat Mountain 150 kilometers to the south. To commemorate the 1,700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia in 2001, the Armenian government funded the construction of a cathedral in Yerevan. The stones for this cathedral, St. Gregory the Illuminator, came, symbolically, from Ani. Well, from as close as possible: the other bank of the river which is Armenian territory. For this purpose, not far uphill from Marco Polo's bridge, a huge quarry, still functioning today, was built. In a way, the quarry adds to the surrealism of the scenery. The Kamaz trucks and numerous cranes there make incredible noise which the wind blows in waves to the old Armenian capital, now in Turkish territory.

After the disintegration of the USSR things took a more liberal turn, to an extent. Only a year ago, it was more difficult to penetrate into the ancient Armenian capital than to pass the JFK Airport immigration. Tourists were allowed through the castle walls only after coming to blows with Turkish bureaucracy in the town of Kars, which required three different permits to be issued in three different offices. Then, at the gate, they were forced to either leave their passports and cameras with security or to write explanations on why, while taking pictures of the cathedral, they had "captured" the borderline behind it too.

We are lucky. Pass permits as well as photography bans were repealed in 2004. Tickets are now sold from a caravan at the castle walls.

Apart from the moustached clerk, there isn’t a soul around. We enter a corridor between the two belts of reddish stone which used to guard the city and look for a gate onto the plateau.

We find it after 200 meters – the Lion's Gate, a tall, well-preserved arch, with the wind blowing through it at nearly the speed of a hurricane. It’s as if all the hot air from inside the castle is trying to escape and shave off the flat plateau covered with long-untrimmed grass.

We manage to overcome Ani's untraditional fortification and a surreal view opens out before our eyes: a steppe with halves of monumental buildings scattered all over. On the left we see half a church, behind it we can make out half a turret, and at the end of the plateau there is half a chimney of a severed mosque.

A thousand years ago the capital of the Armenian kingdom, comprising present-day Armenia and parts of Iran and Eastern Turkey, was a mediaeval metropolis. Its 1,001 churches were technologically and architecturally avant-garde at the time. Its wealth and splendour attracted an increasing number of people, and at the end of the tenth century its population reached 100,000 people.

Turned into a capital by Ashot III, Ani reached the height of its glory with the Bagratids, an Armenian dynasty which declared themselves descendants of King Solomon and King David. Its apogee was during the reign of Gagik I (989 – 1020).

In 1045 the city, named Anahid, after the Persian counterpart of Aphrodite, fell under Byzantine rule. Only 20 years later it was taken over by the Seljuk Turks. For almost a century the founders of the Ottoman Empire fought for control over Ani with the Georgians. The beginning of the end came in 1239, when the Mongol tribes attacked. They had little use of city life and made no effort to restore Ani after a big earthquake in 1319 destroyed it almost to the brick.

The final blow was dealt by the last great nomad leader, Tamburlaine, enthusiastically depicted by a number of western writers ranging from Christopher Marlowe to Edgar Allan Poe. With him, Ani disappeared from the face of the earth.

After the fourteenth century the ruins remained lost for mankind. Earthquakes, wars, vandalism, attempts at cultural and ethnic cleansing, amateur excavations and restorations, and simple neglect added to the gradual destruction of the handful remaining ruins.

"What is Ani like?" wrote Konstantin Paustovski in 1923. "There are things beyond description, no matter how hard you try."

Now only a few tumbledown churches, some sections of a castle and Marco Polo's bridge remain from what used to be a magnificent city. In some places the double city wall rises and culminates in turrets of various shapes and heights, in others it goes down, sometimes completely disappearing in the tall grass.

We take a broad dusty road, which meanders between the ruins.

Armenian architecture is one of civilization's greatest enigmas. It has its own unique appearance, but more importantly – it forms the basis of a popular European medieval phenomenon, known as Gothic style. According to Joseph Strzygowski, who wrote in the early twentieth century, Armenian engineers were the first to devise a way to put a round dome over a square space. They did this in two ways: either by transforming the square into a triangle or by building an octagonal structure to hold the dome. Their architectural genius resulted in stunningly beautiful buildings.

We slowly reach the first large building, the Church of the Redeemer, and find out where the Austrian historian carried out his field research.

The inscription on the façade says that the church was commissioned in 1035 by Prince Ablgharib Pahlavid, in order to house a piece of the cross of Christ. Bought in Constantinople, it had to rest here until Christ's second coming. Miraculously, the church managed to survive until the twentieth century: though neglected, it was in one piece until 1957 when its eastern section was destroyed by lightning. The rest was badly shaken by an earthquake in 1989 and according to architects, it is in danger of collapsing. Somebody has apparently come up with the eccentric solution to block up the former church door using some broken stones found in situ.

Now the Church of the Redeemer is reminiscent of a theatre décor: a whole façade on one side and missing walls on the other so that the audience could view the action on the "stage."

Fifty meters further, we come up against the canyon of the Arpaçay River, known on its Armenian bank as the Akhurian, which divides Turkey from Armenia. On the two opposite slopes there are ancient settlements carved into the rocks, their origins still being disputed by historians.

The cathedral looks intact, but there is a surprise lurking behind the gate: we find out that the dome is gone, the open sky above us. Startled by the noise, hundreds of pigeons take off from the column capitals and fly out like smoke through a chimney. Strzygowski must have been a romantic art history scholar, not an engineer.

As a former pontifical church, the cathedral has three entrances: the north one for the patriarch, the south one for the king, and the west one from for commoners. This was Ani's most important building, designed by the famous Armenian architect Trdat Mendet. Its dome fell in the earthquake in 1319, but this was only the beginning of a series of disasters. The western façade is now also in danger of collapse.

On the walls we notice graffiti (Vovochka+Lena=love), left by Turkish and Russian visitors. Some of the inscriptions are by Armenians who must have managed to get here during some of the gaps in Turkey's restrictive policy.

Trdat Mendet obviously had megalomania issues. After building the cathedral, he designed the huge Church of Saint Gregory half a mile north. His ambition was to build it on the model of the Saint Sophia in Istanbul. Its dome, however, collapsed shortly after it was erected and was never restored. Still, the St. Gregory church, named after the Armenians' patron saint, contains the largest number of frescoes dating from the tenth to the twelfth centuries, which made the Turks call it Resimli Kilise, the Church with Pictures.

We go on to the remarkable red Menüçer Mosque, whose arabesques, from a distance, evoke the Alhambra.

Naturally, the Turks and the Armenians argue over it too, as the former claim it was built by the first emir of the Shaddadid dynasty and the latter insist it dates from Bagratid times.

It remains uncertain who is right but the ruins suggest entrancing architecture. The combinations of red and black stone typical of Ani are varied with white, and the six surviving domes have different ornamentation, in a manner characteristic of the Seljuks. Though half-ruined, the mosque was used by local Muslims until 1906.

We are climbing uphill to the remarkable castle when we suddenly notice that the path beneath our feet is not covered with gravel. What we have mistaken for small stones are in fact ceramic chards. I draw my hand across them and find a couple with ornaments and several coated with a colourful glaze. Ten steps further I stop and repeat the experiment: we are literally walking on ceramics broken over the centuries.

The chips may have come from anywhere: from the city sewerage system (a remarkable technological innovation at that time), from pots in rich merchants' homes, from the often gilded church interiors, from the tiles of somebody's elegant bathroom, from a tombstone or a plaque commemorating somebody's triumph.

From this moment on I can't get rid of the feeling that I am treading on the remains of people's souls. I stalk like a stork until I reach the gates, thinking that a handful of Ani's paving material can tell us more than the thickest of history books.

Like the ruins of Troy, this is a place where you have to imagine, not just see. "À la recherche du temps perdu," politely says the Turk leaning on the same wall when he notices us go out of the Lion's Gate. Mehmed speaks an almost unaccented French.

Practicalities

Kars is located some 1,500 km east of Istanbul. Unless you have a car, the best way to go to Ani is by taxi (45 km, $80) Make sure that the taxi driver has understood that he has to wait for you for at least three and a half hours, because otherwise you may end up sleeping under the stars. In the summer, the temperature on the plateau where Ani stands reaches 36°C and in the winter it may fall to -42ºC.

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com

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White House Slashes Aid To Armenia; Breaks Military Parity
ANCAPress Release, February 7, 2008 Elizabeth S. Chouldjian

-- Proposes 59% Reduction in Economic Aid to Armenia

WASHINGTON, DC - President George W. Bush, in his last budget proposal to Congress, continued his Administration's track record of recommending dramatic reductions in U.S. economic aid to Armenia and seeking to tilt the military aid balance in the region in favor of Azerbaijan, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The President's budget recommends cutting U.S. economic aid to Armenia from the FY2008 estimated level of $58 million to a proposed FY2009 level of $24 million - a cut of nearly 60% and $11 million less than his FY2008 request. This dramatic reduction to Armenia, a nation economically blockaded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, takes place against the backdrop of assistance proposals to other Independent States of the Former Soviet Union that are either remaining constant or experiencing increases. According to the President's figures, Georgia, for example, would receive $52 million, while Azerbaijan, which is collecting billions in oil revenues, is set to receive $19.5 million. The President's budget proposal does not include any specific assistance figures for Nagorno Karabagh.

The President's budget, in yet another clear breach of the White House's agreement with Congress in 2001, seeks to tilt the military aid balance toward Azerbaijan. His proposal includes three times as much International Military Education and Training aid to Azerbaijan ($900,000) than Armenia ($300,000). Foreign Military Financing is kept constant for both countries at $3 million. No specific dollar amounts are allocated for either Armenia or Azerbaijan in the President's request for Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Program (NADR) funds. The President's budget estimates that, in actual practice, the U.S. government spent three times more IMET assistance in Azerbaijan ($952,000) than Armenia ($286,000) during FY2008, despite the fact that the U.S. House specifically stated that equal amounts of IMET aid ($500,000) should be given to both nations.

"The President, in his last year in office, has, unfortunately chosen to leave a legacy of eight straight years of proposing sharp reductions in Freedom Support Act aid to Armenia. Even worse, he is, once again, seeking to tip the military aid balance in favor of Azerbaijan, at a time when leaders in Baku are escalating their threats to renew their aggression against Armenians," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "If the President's figures are accepted, he will have succeeded, during his time in office, in presiding over the reduction of U.S. economic assistance to Armenia From more than $90 million, when he took office, to less than $25 million."

The State-Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees will now review the budget and each draft their own versions of the FY2009 foreign assistance bill.

The agreement to maintain parity in U.S. military aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan was struck between the White House and Congress in 2001, in the wake of Congressional action granting the President the authority to waive Section 907 restrictions on aid to Azerbaijan. The ANCA has vigorously defended this principle, stressing that a tilt in military spending toward Azerbaijan would destabilize the region, emboldening the Azerbaijani leadership to continue their threats to impose a military solution to the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. More broadly, the ANCA has underscored that breaching the parity agreement would reward the leadership of Azerbaijan for obstructing the peace process, and undermines the role of the U.S. as an impartial mediator of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.


Mehmet Kamis m.kamis@todayszaman.com Jacobin Culture
It is extremely difficult to understand a contemporary intellectual who defines himself as modern. He makes a world of his own based on his own truth and forces everyone to act in compliance with that world. Not just that, either; he imposes his ideas. He calls his worldview modern and worships it and dismisses all the rest as primitive and insults them. He classifies ideas and lifestyles as good or bad and sees the ones he doesn't approve of as ones to be gotten rid of completely. He chooses to comfort himself by defining his despotism, arrogance and Jacobin qualities as modern. This is a very common and vehement situation.

Universities in Turkey have an official ideology. All scientific work and research should be in line with this ideology. This is particularly so if your field of study is history or sociology as you should be able to have results that are compatible with the official ideology in order to be accepted as modern. The only criterion for you to be considered modern in Turkey is to dress in accordance with imposed norms and to have a glass of an alcoholic beverage in your hand.

In a recently published book in Turkish, titled "Mosul and Its Minorities," authored by Harry Charles Luke, who was deputy governor of the British colony in Jerusalem between 1920 and 1924, it is possible to come across very interesting information on the Middle East. Luke describes Mosul with a single sentence: "If you tour the entire enormous Mosul plain, you see that it is impossible to find two villages side by side which are of the same race, speak the same language and worship the same God." The author mentions in his books the races and religions in the region at the time: Nestorian Christians, Jacobeans, Chaldean Christians, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, Yazidis, Shiites, the Mandean Family (whose history dates back to the Prophet John) as well as Muslim Turkomans, Chechens, Circassians, Kurds and Arabs. At the turn of the 20th century, many people from different ethnicities and faiths practiced their religions freely in the Middle East.

Here comes a very simple question: Is it possible for all these different ethnicities to exist in either Europe or in the Turkish Republic with all their different faiths and ways of dress? Would the modern world allow them to exist the way they are and practice their religion? The modern world is rapidly making life more and more monotonous. It is designing the world the way it wants; it insults, otherizes and obliterates all other values, cultures and faiths that have been generated so far in the world. The modern world, not only in Turkey but also in Europe, is discussing the headscarf as if it has nothing more important to do. It wants to give it a familiar shape just as it shapes everything, and it wants to decide what it will eventually look like. It thinks that it has such a right because it finds anything and everything but itself dangerous and perceives it as a threat. This is so because it is extremely self-righteous, arrogant, megalomaniac and savage.

Does democracy mean electing someone from among a group of people who dress, think and live in the same way as an administrator? Or does it mean respecting the other party, accepting its differences and respecting its right to live differently? One can't help but conclude that the Middle East of a century ago was much more democratic and humane as thousands-of-years-old faiths and cultures lived together. It is really unbearable for the modern man to see himself as an authority on other people's lives and their lifestyles.
09.02.2008


Armenian Duduk Virtuoso Suren Asatryan At CRR
Suren Asatryan, one of the very few master virtuosi of the duduk, an Armenian folk music instrument, is slated for a performance in Istanbul on Feb. 12 at the Cemal Resit Rey (CRR) Concert Hall.

Asatryan, accompanied by Murat Kagan Ergün on guitar, Vahan Arutunyan and Garnik Tigranyan on duduk, Gagik Hakverdiyan on percussion, Manvel Galisyan on vocals and Arayik Dalakyan on clarinet, will take to the stage at 8 p.m.


Sorry Under Pressure Isn't Sorry At AllCaitlin Wall 02/06/2008
Last week, Australia's government announced that it will formally apologize for its decades-long practice of stealing Aboriginal children and giving them to white families to raise. The practice, intented to destroy "Aboriginality" and force racial assimilation, was official government policy from 1915 to 1969. During these years, many children were raised in poor conditions in institutions, received little to no education, and suffered abuse at the hands of caretakers. Apologizing for it is an admirable step by the new Australian administration to move forward from a dark past. Australia aside, though, there has been a real lack of sincerity on the international apology front lately.

Over the past year, some in the U.S. Congress have attempted to force apologies from other nations on two occasions. First, the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging Japan to apologize for forcing thousands of women into sex-slavery during WWII. More recently, the House attempted a vote condemning Turkey for its treatment of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century. And while I by no means wish to diminish these atrocities, I wonder: Would an apology elicited under pressure really contribute to the healing process?

Consider the case of Iraq. This past Sunday, controversial legislation to reintegrate former Baathists back into Iraqi government became law. It was one of the key "benchmarks" the U.S. Congress has been using to judge the Iraqis' progress. As Feisel al-Istrabadi, Iraq's former deputy ambassador to the U.N., pointed out in a recent Seven Questions interview, de-Baathification had gone horribly awry. The question, though, is not whether reconciliation is warranted, but whether it is real and sustainable given how the bill came about—under U.S. pressure. Can reconciliation be treated like just another benchmark? Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a top Sunni leader and influential member of the Presidential Council, certainly doesn't think so.

Which US presidential candidate is Turkey likely to cheer or boo?
Political junkies across the United States and the world have had Feb. 5 circled on their calendars for months. After all, 24 states voted for presidential nominees that day, the biggest primary day in US history.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama dug their heels in for a extended battle for the Democratic presidential nomination after splitting wins in last week's primaries. Although the races are primaries, not presidential elections, Turks are watching the competition closely.

Republicans had a clear winner. Senator John McCain was badly wounded in the Vietnam War decades ago and he's been hurt politically because of his support for the war in Iraq, but following Super Tuesday, he savored victory.

McCain's chief rival, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign. And with Romney out, Senator McCain is locked in as the frontrunner in the Republican Party race, while Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton face the prospects of a long fight between themselves for the Democratic Party's nomination. Foreign policy plays a bigger role than usual for voters in the US election this year as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, and the world has come closer to Americans since they were hit by terror on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Americans for the first time felt threatened with Sept. 11. We now have the situation in Iraq. Foreign policy has become an important factor in the presidential race," said retired Ambassador Ilter Türkmen, a former foreign minister.

And when you say Iraq, Turkey inevitably becomes involved. Turkey has interests in the stability and unity of Iraq as it opposes the emergence of a separate Kurdish state in the north along its border.

The US and Turkey have been working closely, especially in the last few months, to combat the threat posed by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq.

In addition, the US depends on moving supplies for Iraq through Turkey. US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried told a House committee last year that 74 percent of US air cargo for Iraq goes through the Turkish base at Incirlik. Much of the fuel used by US forces in Iraq and fuel and food for Iraqis are transported across the Turkish-Iraqi border.

The US presidential contenders hardly ever mention Turkey in their campaigns, but they have to explain their plans to the voters on how the war in Iraq will be ended and the steps that will be required to maintain calm in the country after American troops are withdrawn.

A New York Times editorial run before Super Tuesday endorsed Clinton on the grounds -- among other reasons -- that she "seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq's chaos after American troops leave."

The newspaper also singled out McCain as the best choice for the Republican Party's presidential nomination because he was one of the first prominent Republicans to point out how badly the war in Iraq was being managed. However, the editorial also noted that McCain lacks "a real idea of how he would win this war, which he says he can do."

Critiques of Clinton have noted her vote for the resolution on the use of force in Iraq while Obama opposed the war from the start. But according to The New York Times, "That's not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended."

Exploring advisors to understand candidates' policies
Philip Gordon, senior fellow for US foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said McCain has a number of hawkish foreign policy advisors in addition to few challengers to advise him informally such as Richard Armitage, President George W. Bush's deputy secretary of state, and Gen. Colin Powell, again W. Bush's secretary of state.

"McCain and Bush need each other now. McCain respects Bush. There is a truce between them," Gordon said, speaking to Sunday's Zaman from Washington.

To name a few hawkish advisors, Gordon mentioned James Schlesinger, President Nixon and President Ford's secretary of defense, energy and national security adviser; Randy Scheunemann, national security aide to then-Senate majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott; Stephen Biegun, former national security aide to then-Senator Bill Frist and now Ford Motors vice president of international government affairs; and William Kristol, The Weekly Standard editor.

Gordon said McCain wouldn't be shy in using military force when dealing with terrorism and that if Turkey deals with the PKK with force, he would understand.

"McCain represents acute awareness of Turkey's security-producing role and would probably prefer a Turkish-US partnership that would call for active Turkish engagement in the region. On Turkish issues McCain has a good understanding as he has a very strategic outlook," said Suat Kiniklioglu, the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) deputy chairman of external affairs and spokesman of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission.

When it comes to Clinton, many observers think she will follow in the footsteps of former President Bill Clinton.

In addition, Turks like the last name "Clinton" a great deal, especially after Bill Clinton's visit in 1999 to a tent city near Istanbul, where he consoled earthquake victims and promised US aid. The visit signified a peak in Turkish-US relations.

"On Turkey, I think she will follow in the footsteps of Mr. Clinton, too. Some of her advisors, such as, Richard Holbrooke, [President Clinton's special envoy on the Cyprus problem], Madeleine Albright, [President Clinton's secretary of state and now chairperson of the National Democratic Institute], and Samuel Berger [President Clinton's national security adviser] appreciate Turkey's importance," Gordon said.

There is no doubt that Clinton's foreign policy team is better known in Turkey, but this should not be a determining factor, Kiniklioglu said, after he had a chance to meet some members of Obama's foreign policy team in Washington.

"Obama's stance on the events of 1915 is more committed to the Armenian diaspora. Obviously, this is not a very desirable situation. What change in US politics would mean for Turkey constitutes a huge question mark. I don't think Americans really know what Obama would mean for them. Hillary's presidency would mean more predictability for Turkey," stated Gordon.

Armenian genocide claims and candidates
Usually, not a single word is uttered by the presidential candidates about their likely policies toward other countries, except where there are contentious global issues involved, like the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

However, Turkish audiences who hear about the candidates' endorsements of Armenian genocide claims during the primaries might think it's a huge issue in their campaign even though it is not.

"Each candidate does it," Türkmen said. "Neither Hillary Clinton nor Obama have been known as firm advocates of the issue and will most probably cast it to the side if elected president."

In January, both Obama and Clinton, in statements sent to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), had pledged to officially recognize the controversial World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide if they become president. ANCA later announced its support for Obama.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Obama after he promised to acknowledge the so-called "Armenian genocide."

"Both candidates may regret in 2009 having endorsed this issue as the fate of HR 106 has shown it could become quite an embarrassment for Congress," Kiniklioglu noted.

Last year, despite pleas from the Bush administration, the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a non-binding resolution that described the events of 1915 as genocide. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and an ardent supporter of the Armenian claims, has so far not brought the resolution to the House floor, after a strong appeal from the Bush administration that passage of the resolution would deeply harm relations with NATO ally Turkey.

In October of 2000, weeks before a presidential election, Armenian groups came very close to a victory in the United States, with a genocide resolution reaching the House floor. Yet, only hours before a final vote, then-President Bill Clinton personally intervened and urged Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert to withdraw the resolution on grounds of national security. Hastert agreed, prompting major disappointment among Armenians.

Unlike his Democrat rivals, McCain has notably refrained from using the term "genocide," while outlining his views on "issues of special concern to the Armenian American community" in a letter sent to the influential ANCA.

Leadership style
American voters' views on blogs regarding presidential contenders vary. Some think if they pick Clinton, they would know who and what they are picking, while if they pick Obama, they might be playing Russian roulette.

Some think that Obama will make a fantastic vice president in 2008, to prepare him to be a spectacular president in 2016; they point to Clinton's experience, saying that she will be able to straighten things out that "Bush screwed up."

When it comes to Turkish interests, Obama's foreign policy team is not bad at all, observers say.

"He has Zbigniew Brzezinski [President Carter's national security adviser and now a Center for Strategic and International Studies scholar] who knows Turkey very well," Türkmen said.

Obama has other strong advisors who are well able to brief him on foreign policy related to Turkey: Gregory Craig, State Department director of policy planning under President Clinton; Anthony Lake, President Clinton's national security adviser and now a professor at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service; and a more familiar name for Turkey, Dennis Ross, President Clinton's Middle East negotiator.

Despite feelings of unease about what kind of a change he might offer, Obama has generated excitement among American voters, especially younger ones. In many ways, some voters think Obama is what Bill Clinton was in 1992: a person with a transcendent vision of post-partisan politics, who might bring Americans together.

"In particular he attracts first-time voters and African Americans. His message about change and the image of being an outsider of the Beltway appears to work well for him," Kiniklioglu said.

Gordon said there are no major differences between Obama and Clinton when it comes to their foreign policy approaches, except maybe on Iran, Syria and Cuba. "It's a question of leadership style and presentation," Gordon added.

Obama supports engagement with regimes such as Iran and Syria rather than isolation. And this might be an area of cooperation between Turkey and the US.

Obama and Islam
Could the Turkish public feel kinship toward Obama because he has some Muslim ties?

A member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, Obama lived in Indonesia between the ages of 6 and 10. While his father was an atheist and his mother did not practice religion, Obama's stepfather occasionally attended services at a mosque there.

His foes use these ties to fuel rumors that he might be a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Quran, rather than a Bible, The Washington Post reported last November.

According to news reports, Obama regularly mentions his time living and attending school in Indonesia, and the fact that his paternal grandfather, a Kenyan farmer, was a Muslim. Obama brings up these facts as part of his case that he is prepared to handle foreign policy, despite having been in the Senate for only three years, and that he would bring a new face to parts of the world where the United States is not popular.

What will determine the future of the race?
Obama's fundraising surged to $32 million last month while Clinton brought in $13.5 million. Both are expected to continue until their money or their hopes are exhausted.

Meanwhile, the likely Republican nominee, McCain, will try to unify the party behind him. The Republican Party's history suggests that they like to rally quickly around an acknowledged frontrunner.
10.02.2008 Yonca Poyraz Dogan Istanbul


‘The Travels’ by Marco Polo
I remember as a child learning that Marco Polo was a Venetian traveler who went to China and wrote a book about China and its emperor. Right? No, wrong -- or at least only partially right.

This week, while reading "The Travels," Marco Polo's epic account of his journey to China, I realized that the book he wrote is only partially about China. The first two books of his trilogy relate not to China, but to the lands of Turkey and Central Asia that he passed through on his way to the realms of Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan. Instead of being a book about the Chinese world, it is in fact a book about the Turkic world, the Mongol world, the Indian world and the Chinese world.

Marco Polo set out on his travels in 1271. At the start of that century, from their nomadic origins at the edge of the Gobi Desert in Central Asia, the Mongols built an amazingly organized social, political and above all an imperial structure, in a matter of decades. The architect of this, Emperor Genghis Khan, died in 1227 and by the time Marco Polo left Venice the empire was ruled over by Khan's grandson Kublai Khan.

Polo's father, Niccolo, and uncle Maffeo first got the travel bug on a trading mission to Bukhara in modern-day Uzbekistan. There they had joined a Mongolian embassy to the court of Kublai Khan and had been authorized by the Mongol emperor to return to Venice to undertake some commissions for him. When they later returned to Kublai Khan, they took their nephew with them. The young Marco was to so impress the emperor that he would end up traveling in the service of Kublai Khan over the breadth of the empire, from Beijing to India.

Benjamin Colbert, in his introduction to Marco Polo's account of his travels, says they "belong, then, to the story not only of Europe's contact with, but also its knowledge and imagination of the East, as well."

Marco Polo's "The Travels" is in fact a very early first edition of Lonely Planet's guide to Central Asia! It reads like a travel guide.

Now, Lonely Planet's slogan is "Everything you need to know about where you want to go" and it prides itself on the thoroughness of its research. Founder and owner Tony Wheeler states: "At Lonely Planet we like to say that our writers go to the end of the road. And they had damn well better. Because I go to the end of the road."

Marco Polo echoes these sentiments of telling you "all you need know" and prides himself on the depth of his research when he exclaims in the prologue to "The Travels":

"Ye emperors, kings dukes, marquises, earls, and knights, and all other people desirous of knowing the diversities of the races of mankind, as well as the diversities of kingdoms, provinces and regions of all parts of the East, read through this book, and ye will find in it the greatest and most marvelous characteristics of the peoples … as they are severally related in the present work by Marco Polo … who states distinctly what things he saw and what things he heard from others. For this book will be a truthful one. It must be known that … no man … ever saw or enquired into so many and such great things as Marco Polo above mentioned."

After a first chapter that gives an overview of his route and the reasons for his travels, Polo details his journey from Turkey and Armenia to Kublai Khan's summer palace at Xanadu (near modern day Duolun). Book two starts with some detailed anthropological information about the Khan and his court, and then describes routes to Burma and then through China. Book three describes routes through India, and then fills in stories and tales relating to the different peoples mentioned.

The modern day traveler wants to know what to see, to learn about the nature of the people in the land they will travel to, to pick up a few amusing anecdotes and stories concerning these people, and to get practical information concerning how to get from point A to point B, and where to stay and where to eat.

The first three of these needs are amply met by Marco Polo. But as his readers were conducting their tour vicariously, sitting by their own firesides reading the great man's work, "The Travels" gives its reader no advice on where to stay or which route to take. It is more like a Michael Palin travelogue than "The Holiday Program" on the BBC.

In the 13th century many would probably share the view of Kublai Khan, who was reluctant to give the Venetians permission to return to their homeland, asking "what motive they could possibly have for wishing to expose themselves to all the inconveniences and hazards of a journey in which they might probably lose their lives."

So, what does this prototype Lonely Planet guide tell us about Turkey? Marco Polo was not complimentary about the people of Kayseri, but he liked their horses and carpets. He mentions that Sivas was the place where St. Blaise had been martyred. Erzincan is called the gateway to Armenia, with handsome public baths and the seat of a bishop. Erzurum's cold winter is worthy of note. Mus and Mardin are mentioned as places where cotton is produced in great abundance, and boccasini cloth is woven. Their inhabitants are "manufacturers and traders."

Further on we learn about the oil in Mosul, the noblest city of Baghdad, the miracle of a monastery at Tabriz, the horses and falcons of Balashan, the dark-skinned people of the Kashmir, the gardens, orchards and vineyards of Kashgar, and finally Samarkand "a noble city, adorned with beautiful gardens, and surrounded by a plain, in which are produced all the fruits that man can desire."

If Marco Polo were really writing for Lonely Planet, his editor would have circled various paragraphs to be feature boxes: chapter XLV would be a history box relating the story of Genghis Khan, cultural boxes would focus on the customs of birth of boy babies, legend boxes would tell us the story of old victories, and must see places boxes would include the governor's castle at Karakorum.

Oh, and the editor would find him snappier titles for the chapters, and insist on a number of detailed maps and line-drawn illustrations.

Now, what a travel book that would be!

"The Travels" by Marco Polo, Published by Wordsworth Editions, Paperback. 3.99 GBP. ISBN 978-185326473-3
10.02.2008 Marion James Istanbul


The Country Needs ‘truth Commission’ To Combat Gangs
Ankara University law professor Mithat Sancar underlines that Turkey and its society can no longer live under the "double state" understanding. He stresses that if there are no results from the investigation into the recently uncovered Ergenekon gang, which was shown to have a deep state nature as well as connections to the military, other deep state elements will be encouraged.

Sancar, author of "Devletin Akil Kiskacinda Hukuk Devleti" (Rule of law in the pincers of raison d' état) and "Geçmisle Hesaplasma" (Coming to terms with the past) claims the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is not showing decisiveness in terms of the rule of law. In this interview with Sunday's Zaman, Sancar explores the history, structure and battle against the deep state in Turkey.

Do all states have a deep component?
The illegal acts of states are not unique to Turkey, nor are they new. We can define "deep state" as follows: a structure defending the idea of being able to act outside of the law and take actions against the law and general ethics for the sake of the "superior interests" of the state. This understanding can also be called raison d'état. Some call it a parallel state or double state. Although these structures are related to the emergence of the modern state, the source and structure of them varies according to the countries in which they are established. For example, in NATO countries there was a structure called Gladio; in all the countries the Gladios have common pillars, but it is not right to say all of them were the same. So to say that the Turkish Gladio is a copy of the others is to underestimate the problem.

So how it is in Turkey?
In Turkey it is a product of the system. In Turkey the general state understanding was developed under the sovereignty of the raison d'état. This is also valid for politics. Here the general understanding is to think that all kind of methods can be used for the sake of the so-called, self-defined hallowed. To think that all means to reach the goal are legitimate. This Machiavellian approach can be seen in all political streams, leftist, rightist, nationalist and Islamist.

At what point did the deep state in the modern sense emerge?
At the beginning of the republic the deep state was not on the agenda for a while because the cadres that established the republic were its administrators. A cadre that is controlling everything does not need to establish a deep state. When the race between the founders of the republic and other elites started, the concept of deep state emerged. After World War II there were two important developments: the beginning of the multi-party system [in Turkey] and the establishment of NATO. The multi-party system forced the founders of the republic to enter a race with a newly emerged elite. The idea of a different elite could be a thereat to the owners and to the main principles of the republic developed at that time. When Turkey became a member of NATO, we met with "deep organizations" allegedly established [to protect] against communism. A nucleus-like structure outside of the law and beyond control was established. When I say outside of the law, I mean outside of the jurisdiction of the political will. This structure is higher than the governments, all the establishments and is ready to defend the "high interests" of the state by any means.

When we look at Ergenekon there is a difference from the other gangs, it looks more civilian. So is there any change in the structure?
When we look at the process after the 1950s we can see three types of structures: sometimes they are interwoven, sometimes one is above the other. The first is directly within the state but totally outside of the law, directly a state apparatus: the Special Forces, the counter-guerilla forces and later the structure called [the Gendarmerie Intelligence Group Command] JITEM. These kinds of structures in some European countries were established by Nazi leftovers. Their actions are never limited by the illegal actions of state officials. The second type is not directly within the state, but is related to the state, protected by the state and used by the state. The third is not directly related to the state but is known by some parts of the state and tolerated by the state. The structure of Susurluk (the site of a car crash that uncovered links between a police chief, a convicted fugitive and ultranationalist, and a deputy) is a mixture of the first and the second. There we met with people who had very dark relations and who were in the past the perpetrators of very serious crimes. All took roles in events that seriously disturbed society by creating chaos. With reference to Friedrich Meinke, the theoretical analyst of raison d état, when we look at the relations in Susurluk, the history of the deep state is written in blood and dirt. When we look at Ergenekon, it does not appear totally independent from the state, but for the time being we don't know how far these relations go. So far our knowledge does not allow us to define it; however, in general we can say that these kinds of structures could not act fearlessly if they were not protected or tolerated by the state. The organizations directly linked to the nucleus of the state usually act in a more controlled [manner] and with more discipline. The control is usually concentrated in one center, but in Ergenekon it is more untidy and interwoven with street fascism. It is easier to dissipate these. When necessary, organizations with loose relations with the nucleus can be sacrificed.

What could happen if the Ergenekon operation does not reach a conclusion?
They would be encouraged. If it had been possible to take things to their conclusion after the Susurluk case, if the mechanisms of the law had been implemented fully, most probably heinous murders like Hrant Dink or the Council of State attack would have been prevented. The Prime Ministry's investigation board report openly pointed out very serious crimes by the Susurluk gang and their links with to very high state officials. The real perpetrators of Susurluk, although they were known very well, were not brought to justice. They were not touched. Despite all this evidence, documents, if you cannot touch them, you encourage them -- and others who want to imitate them. They say, "If nothing is happening, we can act freely." They make wider plans for more heinous actions.

What is the solution to the deep state?
The antidote to this understanding is the rule of law and all its establishments. For this important tasks go to the organs of the state. Not only for them; there are also tasks for the different segments of society and the political parties. The main burden is on the government's shoulders. It has to show a decisive will and has to take measures against establishments that are not doing their jobs. But unfortunately there are no signals showing its decisiveness by the government in terms of state rule. The signs show the opposite. The AK Party does not have a structure that has a decisive will on the rule of law. It has not fully internalized the idea of the rule of law. So far it is not possible to place the AK Party outside of the existing understanding of the administration and politics.

Public support for the fight against gangs is not that high. Why?
The idea of "when necessary actions outside of the law could take place" harms poor people the most. Because if the power of the law is not working, then the law of power works. And it is only benefited from by the powerful. I believe that if there is a decisive political will defending the rule of law, it will get the support of society. This cycle must be broken somewhere. A society cannot live in this dual structure long term. In order to break this cycle, either there must be an effective demand from society or sincere and decisive political will. I mean the interference that will break the cycle either comes from the top or from below. In order to break it from the top, the political will must be decisive; in order to break it from below society's will has to put pressure on the political will. Then the change of atmosphere can take place very quickly.

The existing laws are good enough to combat gangs?
There are enough means and possibilities to fight against this understanding and its implications. But in order to obtain results, the establishments whose task it is to implement the law must obey the rule of law. These laws are [currently] implemented in a dual structure. To prevent crime and the investigation of crime is the responsibility of the security forces. Security forces should act according to the principle of neutrality. The deep state is by its very nature connected to the police and the army. We have to add the intelligence [bodies here] also. The one that follows crime and collects evidence is the security apparatus. If there is a weakness there, it is inevitable that that the law will be ineffective. This is the first phase of the problem. The second is the judiciary. Even if the security force works very well, if the majority of the people within the judiciary are close to this [dual] understanding, if they are not willing to do what they have to do despite the evidence, there will be no results. Here comes the importance of the political will. Political will is responsible for the security apparatus. If the public personnel who are not doing their job properly are investigated and the results [of that investigation] are seen, this means the security apparatus is forced to work properly. In such an atmosphere, the judiciary is also forced to work properly; the escape plans of the judiciary will be closed.

But we have cases like Semdinli -- very disappointing, isn't it?
Semdinli (where in November 2005 a bookshop was bombed, resulting in one death; a former terrorist and two noncommissioned officers were implicated in the attack) is the worse example for the government in the rule of law. For me, the statements of the prime minister and the justice minister at that time against [former Van] Public Prosecutor Ferhat Sarikaya (disbarred after he called for an investigation into possible connections between then-Land Forces Commander Gen. Yasar Büyükanit, now chief of General Staff, and the Semdinli incident) were scandalous. If they had said that everybody is equal before the law and everybody has to respect the rule of law, events could have developed in another way. The punishment of Sarikaya had a very negative effect on judges and public prosecutors. You cannot expect heroic acts from people if they feel and know that they are not protected.

Then what can be done?
If the existing measures are not good enough to go deeper, it is not difficult to develop other means. When we look at past experiences in the world, we can see that for special cases there are special regulations. They have several names, the most popular one after the South Africa experience is "truth commission." We have some investigative committees in Parliament; they don't have the right to implement sanctions. The truth commission does not take the place of the judiciary, just the opposite, it helps it. But its function is not limited to that. These kinds of commissions are established in order to shed light on the dark events of the past. It is not necessary to judge the perpetrators of these events. The important thing is to get rid of the darkness. But of course in order to reach success, such commissions should have great authority and should receive the support of the government.

But isn't a truth commission a utopian dream under current circumstances in Turkey?
One of my articles examining the possibility of coming to terms with the past in Turkey was titled "Being realistic and asking for the impossible." Under the existing circumstances it looks impossible to have real confrontation [with the past]. At the beginning of AK Party rule, many people thought that we had caught the momentum toward democracy and rule of law. But as time passed, it was realized that the AK Party does not have a general democracy program. As we see, Turkey does not treat its longstanding problems from the general perspective of freedom and democracy. If the government had been able to put in place a general democratization and liberalization perspective concerning the interconnected web of the country's serious problems, we would now be in a different place. I do not expect an extremely radical democracy program, but if even a standard democratization initiative could be implemented, then the truth commission would not be so utopian. Issues of freedom and democracy are not detached from each other; in this sense the fight against gangs is not as independent from the headscarf issue as is generally thought. If you were able to convince more people you have a real program for democracy and rule of law, and if you had taken significant steps that would make Turkey a true democracy with rule of law, then claims that you have a secret agenda or that you seek democracy and liberty only for yourselves would not be found convincing. You would not need to seek consensus among institutions, then, because the consensus on democracy would affect those institutions, and the nation would think it was building democracy and rule of law and that they are considering the demands from their own voters' base in this regard. But unfortunately we are far from this position.
10.02.2008 Ayse Karabat Ankara



Disclaimer: Our Media Scanner Posts include only a fraction of the News items selected from up to 1500 Turkish & Armenia Related excerpts we receive every week.

Help Is Needed From Armenians Traveling To Armenia
Hello to everyone, i will use English as a faster way to type my question.

This is the second time i ask this, please do not give me hatred nor immature answers, that won't help me at all.

My family and I left Armenia in 1997, I was 8 years old at the time. We left for Canada and for many reasons, my cousin got killed in the army, his brother, my other cousin turned insane when he returned home, he was raped and beaten on numerous occasions. Like many other families we decided to emmigrate, my brother was turning 14 and then would have been forbidden for him to leave the country.

Long story short friends,

I'm now 19 years old, Canadian citizen holding a Canadian passport. I'm willing to travel back to see my grandparents who are very old and I can't take a chance and risk not to see them alive again.

I'm a student and have a family here, parents, cousins, grandparents and my brother who is 24.

My question is to you, do I risk to be drafted or have any sort of complications if i travel there? If I have a Canadian passport, will I get drafted in the army or not get clearence at the airport? Can I travel there and return home safely? If you were born in Armenia, and have been in the same situation, meaning that you traveled to the motherland using your foreign passport, please help me.

As for the rest, do not start questioning my beliefs, my honor, my loyalty, my will to participate in the army. My answer to all that is: I am not going to serve in the Armenian army for reasons I made clear.

Thank you all for taking the time to read and answer my question.
hyeforum.com


Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey planning Black Sea Ring Highway
07.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Turkey are planning to launch Black Sea Ring Highway project supposing ferry communication, Russian Transport Minister Igor Levitin said. Kavkaz-Kerch (Ukraine) and Kavkaz-Poti (Georgia) are functioning. The project includes establishment of ferry communication with Varna (Bulgaria) and Istanbul (Turkey).

According to the Minister, the Black Sea Ring Highway project is supposed to be implemented in 2010-2015. The cargo traffic will raise from 2.000.000 to some 5.000.000 tons. In all, 12 ferries will be put into operation. “We don’t think there can be problems with Georgia except for some tariff issues. Anyway, Georgia can’t block the cargo pass,” Mr Levitin said, Georgia Online reports.


Dogu Ergil d.ergil@todayszaman.com Ergenekon: The Abyss Of Nationalism

"Ergenekon" is the imaginary valley surrounded by mountains of metal where the sole surviving Turk, who was maimed in a decisive battle, was carried to safety by a female wolf. What is nice about legends is that everything is possible.

The injured Turk healed by the she-wolf had children that grew in number until there were enough to reenter the outside world. A blacksmith among them started a large fire that melted a part of the mountain where they lived and they emerged to conquer the world. Ergenekon symbolizes the rebirth of Turks through overcoming the worst that had befallen them. That imaginary day is celebrated every year by the nationalists, who turn it into a present day reality by driving the point home that we Turks can be born out of our own ashes in times of duress.

Another symbol of our past grandeur is the coat of arms of the presidency, depicted as a sun surrounded by 15 stars. The sun is the present Republic of Turkey, while the stars are past states (mostly empires) that were either founded or ruled by the Turks.

With such a grandiose historical background -- real or imagined -- it is very hard for a regular Turk to accept the stark reality that their country is an insufficiently developed, second-rate power, incessantly fighting political and economic instability. Many Turks look back and idealize the power and affluence of the empires left behind and they look at the present to see the US and the EU far more prosperous, developed and powerful than their country is. How do you think this corrosive feeling of relative deprivation and powerlessness can be compensated for? Especially when you do not have the ability of critical thinking to assess where we went wrong and fell behind "contemporary civilization," which we aspire to be a part of. Well, you do two things; in your thinking, you blame the others for what you have lost or been "denied," thus building a conspiratorial view of the world and life in general. Secondly, you organize structures beyond legal boundaries and institutions to take affairs into your own hands and try to win the past power and glory of your failing state. There are no moral or legal boundaries in such a quest.

Recently a clandestine organization called Ergenekon was discovered that plotted to pit ethnic and cultural groups against each other, assassinate public opinion leaders to agitate the people and invite the army to stage a coup. Most of the members of Ergenekon are ex-army officers and intelligence personnel with civilian affiliates in ultranationalist organizations. Although they are no longer on active duty, they have close and intricate relations with some of the active personnel in their old institutions. This is what the investigation initiated against this organization, labeled "the Ergenekon terrorist network," by the prosecutor's office has revealed.

Although the name of the organization has been publicized only recently, the public knows about the alleged criminal activities of most of its members. One example is retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, who has been accused of sanctioning numerous political assassinations as the head of the notorious gendarmerie intelligence unit JITEM, facilitating the bloody takeover of gambling houses and seeing that some drug revenues in the hands of the Kurdish mafia made their way to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Further evidence from the hidden documents of retired Maj. Mehmet Zekeriya Öztürk revealed that Ergenekon had close links to the ambush of the Council of State (Ankara) on May 17, 2006, in which a judge was murdered and several others were wounded in a shooting by an ultranationalist lawyer. The same dossiers included intimate information on both the bombing of the daily Cumhuriyet (carefully chosen as a Kemalist publication to garner hatred against non-Kemalists) and the Semdinli bombing, where two non-commissioned officers were caught red handed bombing a book store.

Hrant Dink, the celebrated journalist of Armenian descent, was assassinated on a street in Istanbul in broad daylight and the nationalist thug who did it is on record chanting, "I killed an Armenian." Ergenekon's link to this murder has not been substantiated yet, but some of its members, including Küçük, are on record as threatening him. But there are strong clues that these criminal "patriots" had planned to kill the only Nobel laureate Turkey has ever had, namely Orhan Pamuk.

What kind of nationalism divides the nation and wages war against an internally generated enemy that is our citizens? What kind of patriotism is it that hires and trains assassins to kill their own nationals just because they do not think, act and believe the way they do? They are not honest, either. They bomb, kill and steal and blame others for these deeds, which they claim would come to an end if they came to power.

Fortunately, neither the state bureaucracy nor the nation gave in to these criminals, but instead initiated a cleansing process. It is obvious that no state can build legitimacy and no nation may survive with these parasites sucking its blood and darkening its future.

Let us see how far this cleansing goes in purging Turkey of a cancerous nationalism that is the enemy of the very nation it claims to serve and exalt.
06.02.2008


The Special Relationship Of Israel And The Us: Myths And Realities By Christopher Vasillopulos*
"You let me have the Jewish vote of New York and I will bring you the head of Ibn Saud on a platter. ... The [Truman] Administration will sell all seven Arab states, if it is a question of retaining the support of the Jews of New York alone." Bernard Baruch, 1946

Despite the obvious truth of Baruch's statement, to say that America's domestic politics is the basis of the special relationship between the US and Israel will automatically result in being labeled anti-Semitic, as presidents from Truman to Clinton have found out. Although suspicion of Israel has varied from administration to administration, from crisis to crisis, every president has said in effect that the survival of Israel is indispensable to American security and interests in the Middle East. No president, however, has been able to say why a tiny, resourceless nation that has waged war and otherwise antagonized all of its neighbors and oppressed millions of Palestinians for decades is more important than the resource rich Arab world, the strategically vital Middle East and a billion Muslims throughout the world. Does anyone believe that the US holds 30 percent of Istanbul in such high regard?

No one denies the political significance of American Jews, least of all the Jewish and Israeli lobbies when they are fundraising. Especially in presidential elections, Jewish votes and Jewish money have been decisive in swinging crucial urban states like New York, Florida, California and Illinois. Nor does anyone deny the sympathy of the vast majority of American Jews for Israel and the ability of the Israeli and the Jewish lobby to mobilize their support. To pretend that the special relationship is not based on these facts is simply nonsense. Although it is troubling enough to say to the world that Israel is more important than any other comparable population or nation, this is not the worst aspect of the special relationship. Special relationships interfere with and sometimes override rational and realistic policy formation. Special relationships infuse an irrational ideological component into international politics, creating more instability, insecurity and anxiety than would otherwise be the case. Is this not the aim of ideologically committed irrational terrorism? Special relationships may not be as extreme as fundamentalism, but by fostering anti-material and anti-objective decision making, they move in the same irrational direction.

The special relationship between Israel and the US has proved this point repeatedly. For example, the US has always been against nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Despite repeated assurances from various Israeli governments and American concessions based on these assurances, Israel has perhaps 400 warheads. America has been against the growth and formation of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Despite countless assurances to the contrary, Israel has continued to defy the US and the world in this regard. Just last week, Israel has approved hundreds of new homes in East Jerusalem. This list could be extended indefinitely. The point is that due to the special relationship, the US has simply accommodated Israeli defiance of American interests in the Middle East. How can anyone refute the Arab perception that the US will go along with anything Israel wants, including actions that undermine American oil interests? What could be a more powerful demonstration of the power of an irrational relationship than the subordination of the interests of the world's greatest power in the world's most important strategic resource?

Let it be acknowledged that America has one overriding interest in the Middle East: oil. Virtually all of the ambivalence and twists and turns of American policies can be explained only by oil. That is, they could have been explained before the existence of Israel and the special relationship. For example, America generally supported Arab nationalism against French and British interests, when it improved the flow of oil. When Arab nationalism seemed to impede the oil flow, the US acted against Arab nationalism, as when during the Cold War Nasser seemed to be siding with the Soviet Union. The same reasoning can be applied to American claims to support stability and territorial integrity in the region. In the First Gulf War America supported Kuwait because Saddam threatened oil supplies. Similarly America generally supports democracy and human rights, yet it seems not to notice violations when they emanate from Saudi Arabia. Whatever one may think about such policies, they are at least rational and justifiable to this extent. When traditional policy preferences or values were overridden, they capitulated to an overwhelmingly important strategic objective: oil. The world economy depends on oil, so its free flow is much more than a capitalist desire. When this flow is endangered by an ideological commitment, as it is by the special relationship, the peace and posterity of the world is put at risk far beyond the dreams of the most extreme terrorist.

Catastrophic effects

The profound differences between the First Gulf War and the current Iraq War illustrate the catastrophic effects of the special relationship. Far from securing territorial integrity and security in Iraq and the region, far from aiding the flow of oil at reasonable prices, the Iraq War has dismembered Iraq, enflamed Lebanon, threatened Iran, disillusioned Turkey and justified Russian, Chinese and French claims that America is a rogue state that has embarked on an ideological Zionist binge.

To the degree that the special relationship overrides the contradiction between the American interest in oil and the Israeli interest in perpetual war against or among Arabs, it calls for explanation of why mentioning this is seen as anti-Semitic. Given the history of anti-Semitism in the US, it is not surprising that the Jewish and Israeli lobbies downplay their influence over American foreign policy in the Middle East. While Jews are the most successful ethnic group in American society, they constitute less than 2 percent of the population. So how can one explain their success in shaping American foreign policy? Several objective factors play a role. I have already discussed the importance of Jews in American elections. Jews have been disproportionately important in the media, print and television. Although not all media outlets are as forthrightly partisan as The Wall Street Journal or the Fox Network, on most issues dealing with the Middle East the differences between these neoconservative mouthpieces and more liberal media like The New York amount to the differences between Israel's two major parties, Labour and Likud. The media reach of American Jews can be even more insidious. A Disney film, Aladdin, has a song, "Arabian Nights," with these lyrics: "Oh, I come from a land, from a faraway place, where the caravan camels roam, where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face. It's barbaric, but hey, its home." This racist fare offered to children is similar to the songs the Nazis taught the Hitler Youth. It is impossible to imagine any America media using similar lyrics filled with Jewish stereotypes or stereotypes of any other minority except the Arabs. The Jewish domination of Hollywood and its bias in favor of Israel is too well known for comment. Yet, for all the importance of the media, I do not believe that they account for the success of the Jewish and Israeli lobbies. The messages as well as the media have been all important and these messages have a long history.
*Professor Christopher Vasillopulos is an international relations instructor at Eastern Connecticut State University.

05.02.2008
--------------------------
Part (2)
American foreign policy in the Middle East has been grounded in several myths which the American public largely believes.

While the media have proclaimed these myths, I do not believe they would have taken such a deep hold on Americans if they were not predisposed to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views. America, as Edward Said and many other scholars have demonstrated, is a profoundly "orientalist" society. To a great extent, American prejudices against African Americans and Jews have been successfully transferred to Muslims, a transfer reinforced and exploited -- but not created -- by 9/11.

Myth One: "Christianity and Judaism are true religions, despite their many differences, while Islam is false and in principle violent and intolerant." As I have spent a good deal of my life studying Judaism and Christianity -- and to a much smaller extent, Islam -- I can say that except for the most liberal versions of Christianity and Judaism, the differences between the religions are unbridgeable. Their main similarity, ironically enough, is their mutual intolerance. More Jews have been killed in the name of Christianity than in the name of Islam. And more Christians have killed each other than have been killed by Muslims. Moreover, Christianity rejects the racist concept of the "chosen people." Like Islam, Christianity is a universal religion, believing that all human beings are created equal in the face God. In the name of Judaic-Christian accommodation, these inconvenient facts are submerged in a mutual hatred and fear of Islam. I appreciate that this accommodation masks Western imperialism, but it is there nonetheless, and its success as a mask depends on anti-Muslim sentiment.

Myth Two: "The US and Israel share many common values, including a love of peace, human rights and democracy." Since 9/11 it has been difficult to even write this sentence, as America has become as aggressive, war-like and dismissive of human rights as the Israelis. There is this difference, however: America at least has a constitution based on natural rights, including the equality of all peoples. Israel is the Jewish state, which means it can never have a constitution that treats all its citizens equally, as the late Israel Shahak and many other scholars have demonstrated.

Myth Three: "The US and Israel share common goals in the Middle East." As this myth has already been discussed, I need only reiterate the obvious. The principle and overriding goal of American Middle Eastern policy is the free flow of oil at market prices, that is, prices independent of ideological factors. The principle and overriding goal of Israel is its survival as the Jewish state. Let me state the differences between these priorities as clearly as I can. If Israel never came into existence -- or if it ceased to exist -- America's interest in the Middle East would remain the same. If all Israelis moved to the US, American policy in the Middle East would be simplified and advanced. This profound difference is never mentioned in public in America. Quite the contrary, American presidents have said that the survival of Israel is more important than oil. Protecting Israel is the "right thing to do." It may indeed be the right thing to do, but no categorical statement that contradicts material reality can be the basis of a rational foreign policy, nor can it justify the priority of oil for the US and the world economy. American presidents are responsible for the security and prosperity of Americans. Whatever their private views, these can never appropriately override material interests. The reason is plain: Americans are a diverse people who must keep their religion and their religious-like views separate from the policy formation process. Otherwise, America will cease to be a secular state under its constitution. How Americans behave ethically or morally is their concern, so long as their behavior is within the law.

Myth Four: "As a model of progress and economic development, Israel has demonstrated its superiority to the Arabs. Israel is modern, while the Arabs are in principle tribal and backward." Israel has become one of the world's most successful economies. The question, however, is "Would it have done so without the massive infusion of foreign capital [grants in the name of loans] and the massive military support of the US?" Israelis receive more US tax money per capita than any comparable group of Americans. Of course, the argument has been that this was possible because Israel is small. There simply has never been enough money to go around the poor countries of the Middle East. This argument has been proven false by the $12 billion a month that is being spent in Iraq. It is difficult to believe that if there were 200 million Jews in similar conditions, the money would not have been found.

Myth Five: "A strong, militarily dominant and nuclear-armed Israel is essential to peace in the region. Since Arabs only understand force, Israel has to be aggressive and perceived as ready to annihilate the region. Otherwise, it could never get the Arabs to negotiate." Even the Zionist Henry Kissinger has denied this proposition. Israel only negotiates when it believes it can not enforce its will militarily. As Jimmy Carter, along with many others, has written, Israel is the chief obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It does not see peace as desirable, except on terms unacceptable to the Palestinians and to Arabs in general. And it will not see peace as a preferred option so long as the US persists in condoning its actions, even when they contravene American objectives.

Myth Six (The Neocon Myth): "America, allied with Israel -- a kind of special relationship plus -- can reshape the entire Middle East so that all its regimes will be friendly to Israel and the US. This reshaping is an appropriate use of American military supremacy. The Arabs will eventually succumb to ‘Shock and Awe,' an avowedly terrorist policy aimed at undermining any expression of true Arab nationalism. If enough Arabs are terrorized, support for Hamas and Hezbollah will dissolve."

It has not mattered that all these myths have so far proven false. The power of myth is that it needs no evidence to be believed. Myth can revive itself in failure. In all of international relations, no myths have been more destructive of peace, security, property, decency, and human rights than those that comprise the basis of the Israel-US special relationship. These myths have not only prolonged the oppression of millions of Palestinians and otherwise destabilized the region, they have made world security much more precarious. How can any nation state formulate a rational foreign policy when the world's leading power allows itself to be driven by ideology rather than by an assessment of objective material interests?

* Professor Christopher Vasillopulos is an international relations instructor at Eastern Connecticut State University.
06.02.2008


U.S. Administration Proposes $24 Million Aid For Armenia In FY 2008
05.02.2008 18:41
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Given Armenia’s support in the global war against terrorism as well as the ongoing attempts by Turkey and Azerbaijan to isolate Armenia, the Armenian Assembly of America today expressed its opposition to the Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Budget.

As in years past, the Budget proposal calls for asymmetrical military assistance to Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Administration’s spending plan recommends $3 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to both countries, but Azerbaijan is slated to receive $600,000 more than Armenia ($300,000) in Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev recently proclaimed that "Armenia did not win the war. The war is not over. Only the first stage of the war has been completed." He added that Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent.

"Given Azerbaijan’s increased war rhetoric, I have strong concerns with giving any military aid to Azerbaijan, and we definitely should not give them more than we’re providing Armenia," stated Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Joe Knollenberg (R-MI).

"I will work with my colleagues to ensure that Armenia has the resources needed to continue to strengthen its democracy as well as ensure its security," continued Knollenberg.

The FY 2009 Budget also calls for $24 million in economic assistance to Armenia, the lowest request to date made by the Administration. The figure represents $34 million less than what Congress approved last year, and $11 million less than the Administration’s request in FY 2008.

Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny echoed Congressman Knollenberg’s concerns, stating: "President Bush missed an important opportunity to demonstrate that his Administration is serious about a policy of regional cooperation and economic integration in the region."

"Azerbaijan’s continued threats to resume war, undermines U.S. objectives in the region and I am confident that Congress will reject this approach," Ardouny added. "In a budget that calls for over $39 billion in the International Affairs account, $24 million for Armenia is woefully inadequate. Rather than reduce funding to Armenia, we urge the Administration to work with Congress to end the dual blockades imposed upon her by Turkey and Azerbaijan."

The announcement is the first step in a lengthy budget process. The next step is for the House and Senate to review the Administration’s request through committee hearings.


Three Traditional Armenian Parties Issue Joint Statement
06.02.2008
Yerevan (Yerkir) - The three tradition Armenian political parties -the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Ramkavar Azatakan Party and the Social Democrat Hnchak Party - have issued a joint statement.

The call says in parts: The Artsakh Self-determination movement began on February 20, 1988, and Azerbaijan responded with massacres in Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad to peaceful demonstrations. The rightful fight, at the expense of sacrifices by thousands of Armenians, resulted in a victory and today's Nagorno Karabakh Republic. But Azerbaijan continues its anti-Armenian crimes and policies.

The Bureau of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Central Board of the Ramkavar Azatakan Party, and the Central Board of the Social Democrat Hnchak Party have resolved to mark the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement jointly in the Homeland and in the Diaspora, and to jointly protest against the anti-Armenian crimes and policies, and to jointly raise the issue of the rights of Armenians before Turkey.

Twenty years after the commencement of the Artsakh movement, we now face new challenges. The legal recognition of the factual liberation of Artsakh, the protection of Artsakh's current borders, the resettlement of the liberated territories are the priorities that all the Armenian should unite for. A secure and strong Artsakh is essential for Armenia's existence.

Another example of a pan-Armenian cooperation is the issue of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Turkey. There are serious achievements today thanks to the joint efforts.

We are calling on all Armenians:

To announce 2008 the year of the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement and jointly celebrate it;

Join efforts for an international recognition of the Armenian Genocide until the Republic of Turkey recognizes it and assumes full reparation;

Announce February 28 a day symbolizing the massacres of Sumgait and Baku and inform the international community and world countries of all criminal policies carried out by current and former governments of Azerbaijan; and

Do whatever possible to support the development and strengthening of the Armenia-Artsakh government.


Turkey Takes Action Against The Shadowy Far Right
Feb 07, 2008 Haroon Siddiqui

Given the prevailing paranoiac obsession with Islam, the media have duly informed us that the "Islamist" government of Turkey is set to lift the "secular" ban on the hijab in universities.

Another view of this development would be that a democratic government is about to restore some basic human rights for women: freeing them from state strictures on what they should or should not wear.

Meanwhile, a more significant development in Turkey is going unnoticed in the West: the busting of a right-wing plot of murder and mayhem, designed to destabilize the country and trigger a coup against the elected government.

Number one on the plotters' hit list was Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.

Thirty-three members of a clandestine cell are charged with "provoking armed rebellion."

They include: A retired army general who was earlier allegedly associated with bombings and extrajudicial killings – incidents that were blamed on "Islamists" and others; A leading prosecutor who had hauled Pamuk and other writers into court, on the infamous charge of "insulting Turkishness" – such as questioning the official denial of the 1915-17 Armenian genocide; Some former army officers with links to an anti-Semitic academic, who thinks that "Hitler was right about certain things," and that 9/11 was the work of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service.

Turkey is abuzz with the expectation that a thorough probe and a transparent trial may, finally, unmask "the Deep State."

That refers to the shadowy forces in the army, the judiciary and the bureaucracy long suspected of working with the mafia to advance their ultra-nationalist agenda.

They are thought to have been behind the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 and a judge in Ankara in 2006.

The latest arrests are unprecedented, and follow a public pledge by Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan to expose and eradicate such elements.

He has been democratizing Turkey to strengthen its candidacy for the European Union. He has run into stiff resistance by the old guard, led by the army, which is ostensibly safeguarding Turkey's secular traditions against the "Islamic" encroachments of his religious Peace and Justice Party.

In fact, he is dismantling the autocratic policies put in place back in 1925 by Kemal Ataturk. That legacy includes keeping religion at bay with bayonets, denying the wrongs done to the Armenians, oppressing the Kurdish minority and silencing political and intellectual dissidents.

Erdogan has already begun restoring the linguistic and cultural rights of the Kurds, even while battling Kurdish separatists in the south along the border with Iraq.

Last year, he nominated as his presidential candidate Abdullah Gul, whose wife wears a hijab. That led the army to threaten a coup. Gul won handily. Now the government is easing the ban on the hijab.

Next, it hopes to axe the law against "insulting Turkishness."

But its move against the nationalists is its boldest.

Last week, the main headline on Page 1 of the English newspaper Zaman captured the widespread public sentiment:

"Million-dollar question: Who's the boss of the Deep State? It's time to get the number one in the operation."

A historic democratic battle to end the quasi-dictatorship of the Turkish army and expose the elusive fascist forces that have long haunted Turkey has finally begun.

Too bad the West remains fixated on a piece of cloth called the hijab.

Haroon Siddiqui, the Star's editorial page editor emeritus, appears Thursday and Sunday. hsiddiq@thestar.ca



Cemal Usak: Ordinary Turkish Citizens Indifferent About Absence Of Relations With Armenia
07.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ “Armenia and Turkey are far from each other in politics and at the same time are very close in culture. Besides, we are neighbors,” said Cemal Usak, Secretary General of Intercultural Dialogue Platform. The closed border affects both states but Armenia suffers more, he said.

“From the economic standpoint, open border is not a necessity for Turkey but Armenia needs it not to pay Georgia for transit of Turkish goods. It’s a mere political issue. Certainly, I would like to travel directly but not through a third state,” Usak said.

“The events of 1915 were a tragedy both for Turkey and Armenia. You lost compatriots, we lost our friends and relatives. In course of 700 years Armenians and Turks lived like friends. The past 100 years made us enemies. But, to be honest, I don’t think that ordinary Turkish citizens are concerned about absence of relations with Armenia,” Usak said.

Since the middle of 16th century Western Armenia had been under the Ottoman yoke. The first pogroms started under the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid in 1867 and continued till 1923. The Armenian Genocide claimed lives of 1,5 million of people. Half a million found shelter in different countries throughout the globe, forming the Armenian Diaspora.


Turkey Plans To Combat Armenian Genocide Issue At The Hague By John C. K. Daly
February 6, 2008

The tragic events in eastern Anatolia in 1915 continue to roil not only Turkish-Armenian relations, but the international community and Turkish-American relations as well.

For more than 25 years, Yerevan and the Armenian diaspora have lobbied to have the events in the wartime Ottoman Empire labeled as the 20th century’s first case of genocide, a definition that successive Turkish governments have furiously lobbied against. Now the issue seems set to appear before The Hague’s International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbitration.

At issue is the February 2001 genocide resolution adopted by France, which concisely states: “France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915.” It was a largely symbolic act, since it did not allow for the prosecution of those who deny that the 1915 massacre was genocide. At the time Ankara was furious, but despite the dispute, trade between France and Turkey grew 22% in 2002 and by 2006 had increased 131% (Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2007).

The issue has never really gone away, however. Last week veteran Turkish diplomat Sukru Elekdag, from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), brought up the issue following talks at the French parliament, where he was part of a Turkish Grand National Assembly delegation. Elekdag suggested that France should reconsider its legislation under the terms of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. “We can go to the Internal Court of Justice with France and ask whether the law adopted in France in 2001 is in compliance with the agreement in 1948 and whether the 1915 incidents constitute genocide.”

Speaking to Today's Zaman, Elekdag expanded on his observations, saying, “What would the authorized court rule if we assume that the UN Convention could be implemented retrospectively? … It is obvious that the court will rule that the French parliament is not authorized to make such a decision, and it will also have to announce that the UN Convention cannot be implemented retrospectively due to the principle of legality. This means that the 1915 incidents cannot be described as genocide. If the ICJ makes such a ruling, then Armenia's genocide allegation will entirely collapse” (Today's Zaman, February 5).

Elekdag, a former foreign ministry undersecretary and former ambassador to the United States, has a history of opposing international efforts to label the events of 1915 as genocide. Speaking at the “Turkish-Armenian Relations and 1915 Incidents” symposium at Ankara's Gazi University in 2005, he declared, “The Armenian diaspora's accusing Turkey of genocide is a legal crime” (Anatolian Times, November 25, 2005).

Having attempted to battle the decision in the media, the Turkish government is now set to take its case to The Hague. Ankara will argue that since France's genocide resolution was not based on any French court decision, then the French National Assembly’s decision should be based on a prior ruling by an international court. Elekdag told Hurriyet, “There is no international court ruling on the Armenian so-called genocide allegations. Is the French parliament a court? France is thus in the position of having disregarded the 1948 UN Convention” (Hurriyet, February 4).

Turkey will propose that Ankara and Yerevan each select three judges, who in turn will select a chairman. The panel will review Turkish archival material as well as the Dashnak (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) Party archives in Boston, Armenian Patriarchate archives, and those of foreign missions in the Ottoman Empire at the time to determine the validity of their documents. The survey will be followed by an extensive forensic survey of possible contributory factors such as demographics and disease, ending with testimony from relevant parties.

Even if Turkey succeeds in its Hague appeal the issue is hardly likely to go away for Ankara, as many EU politicians insist that Turkey must recognize the Armenian genocide before it can join the European Union.

The issue has also crossed the Atlantic. On January 30, 2007, U.S. Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), and the co-chairs of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) introduced a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide, which was only tabled in October after furious lobbying by the Bush administration (see EDM January 23, October 12, 17, 2007). Undeterred, Congressional critics in the House of Representatives recently introduced a new resolution condemning the January 19, 2007, murder of ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (Panarmenian.net, February 5). Furthermore, Democratic presidential candidates Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton have both stated that, if elected, they will recognize the Armenian genocide.

The imbroglio seems to be a classic case of political posturing versus historical reality, and the only certainty is that the issue seems unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
© The Jamestown Foundation MMIV




February 7, 2008
Turkey Set To Return Minorities' Properties
Turkey's parliament set to approve law to return properties to minorities Reform seems designed to meet EU conditions for Turkey's membership Parliament expected to vote on returning property to religious minorities

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's parliament is poised to approve a law allowing properties confiscated by the state to be returned to Christian and Jewish minority foundations.

The reform appears designed to meet conditions set by the European Union for Turkey's membership in its club, but critics say the measure would not go far enough.

Parliament is expected to vote as soon as next week on returning property to religious minorities, and the ruling party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the majority required to approve the law.

Parliament first approved it in November 2006, but the president at the time, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, was a government opponent and he vetoed it.

The country of 70 million people, most of them Muslim, includes 65,000 Armenian Orthodox Christians, 23,000 Jews, and fewer than 2,500 Greek Orthodox Christians. E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press


Dink Trial Still Missing Main Protagonists...
There is continuing reluctance to link the different trials in Trabzon, Samsun and Istanbul concerning the murder of journalist Hrant Dink. Senior police and gendarmerie officers are still not on trial.

Bia news centre 07-02-2008 Erol ÖNDEROGLU
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecution has decided that it lacks jurisdiction in the criminal complaints filed against Trabzon’s former Province Gendarmerie Commander Colonel Ali Öz and five gendarmerie officers, Istanbul’s Chief of Police Celalettin Cerrah and other police officers for gross negligence in the Hrant Dink murder.

Files sent to Sultanahmet and Trabzon

Prosecutor Selim Berna Altay has sent the file on Cerrah and the Istanbul police officers to the Sultanahmet Chief Public Prosecution, also in Istanbul. The file on Öz and other gendarmerie officers, who have been accused of neglecting to do their duty before the murder was carried out, as well as of tampering with evidence, has been sent to the Trabzon prosecution.
Dink family has called for one trial for everyone

Lawyers for the Dink family have previously demanded that gunman, participants and organizers within the state should all be tried in the main murder trial in Istanbul, at the Istanbul 14th Heavy Penal Court.

However, the investigations so far have been limited a small group of mostly young men from Pelitli, a district of Trabzon, and the state connections have been ignored.
Trabzon may rule lack of jurisdiction

In fact, in Trabzon only gendarmerie officer Okan Simsek and sergeant Veysel Sahin are being tried for not acting despite their knowledge of a planned murder.

Witness Coskun Igci, who is a gendarmerie informant and the brother-in-law of murder suspect Yasin Hayal, told the Trabzon 2nd Criminal Court of Peace at the hearing on 22 January 2008: “I told the (defendants) three to four months before the murder that Yasin Hayal would kill Hrant Dink. They told me they would be pursuing the case.”

After listening to the statements of the two suspects, the Trabzon court will decide whether to decree lack of jurisdiction and send the file to the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court. The court case is to continue on 20 March.

In Samsun trial for souvenir photos with murder suspect

Other suspects in the murder case are currently being tried in Samsun, where gunman suspect O.S. was caught after the murder. The Samsun 4th Penal Court is trying Metin Balta, acting chief of the Anti-Terrorism Branch and officer Ibrahim Firat in relation to the souvenir pictures which police and gendarmerie officers took with suspect O.S. and a Turkish flag in the tea room of the Anti-Terrorism Branch. The court still has to decide whether to send the files to Istanbul for a joint trial.
Third hearing in Istanbul soon

Meanwhile, the third hearing in the Dink murder trial will be held on 11 February in Istanbul. With the latest addition of Coskun Igci, the number of suspects tried has risen to 19, eight of them in detention.

The eight suspects in detention are O.S., Erhan Tuncel, Yasin Hayal, Zeynel Abidin Yavuz, Ersin Yolcu, Ahmet Iskender, Tuncay Uzundal and Mustafa Öztürk. (EÖ/TK/AG)



Turkey Must Defeat Ergenekon By Joost Lagendijk*
If only half of the rumors about Ergenekon are true, the complete eradication of this secret network is crucial for Turkey's future.

The authorities must be praised that they have not given in to fear and have brought this conspiracy to daylight. However, Turkey has won only the first battle. To win the war against the "deep state" the government has to persevere.

Just over a year ago, Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was shot dead in Istanbul. Dink fought for reconciliation between Turks and Armenians. The thought of reconciliation enraged the nationalist side, which consequently depicted him as a traitor and a threat to Turkey. Dink became the victim of this fierce nationalism. While the young fanatic who killed him was arrested soon afterwards, it has become clear that he was not the mastermind behind this hideous crime.

Several of the suspected members of Ergenekon were somehow involved in the nationalist struggle against Dink. Lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz filed the lawsuit against him for breaching the infamous Article 301. Retired Maj. Gen. Veli Küçük, the alleged leader of the network, reportedly threatened Dink. Lawyer Fuat Turgut is defending the killer of Dink in court and, moreover, threatened the family of Dink in front of the courthouse.

The murder was, sadly enough, only one tragic event in a series of violent incidents in which there appeared to be more than meets the eye. Conspiracy theories seemed justified, but none of them could ever be confirmed.

Now, it has become clear that the assassination of Dink was indeed part of a plot. The series of atrocities was to prepare Turkey for a coup d'etat in 2009. The allegations, although astonishing, are credible enough. By sponsoring Islamic fundamentalist violence, like the brutal murders in Malatya, the organization intended to promote the fear for Islamization of Turkey. By intimidating and attacking the media, it wanted to silence critics of Turkish nationalism. Generally, the crimes connected with Ergenekon contributed to an atmosphere of fear.

The latest reports confirm around 20 arrests. Among them are well-educated persons, who must be deemed intellectually capable of meticulously planning the crimes. They are also public figures with, unfortunately, some leverage over public opinion. There are, however, no leading figures among them, no one with a high position within politics, the economy or the society in a broader sense. In short: none of the suspects could hope to stage a coup with the cooperation of only the now arrested members.

Police investigations should now make clear whether Ergenekon's scheme was mere grandiose or had indeed a real chance of success. In the latter case, complicity within state institutions was a prerequisite. Putting aside the elected government in Turkey is only possible with backing of influential persons in the state apparatus. Their names and the level of their complicity should be revealed. These questions must be answered to safeguard Turkish democracy.

Fortunately, the mood in Turkey seems right to root out the organization. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to continue to combat Ergenekon. Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit also made a welcome statement, in which he distanced himself from the criminal network and stressed that the conspirators must be brought to court. The remaining members of Ergenekon must be arrested, regardless of their function, status or position.

The reform of Article 301, which is used as an instrument by nationalist forces to curb the freedom of expression, at first seemed to coincide with the first anniversary of the murder of Dink. This would have been highly symbolic, as Dink's conviction under this article preceded his murder. Instead of the reform, the Ergenekon arrests marked the anniversary of the death of Dink. This does even more to honor his memory. It means that Turkey finally stands up against the power of violent and undemocratic nationalism and against the hidden networks of the so-called "deep state." I wish the judiciary, the government and other authorities the strength, the perseverance and the courage to get to the bottom of Ergenekon.

*Joost Lagendijk is member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Greens and chairman of the Turkey delegation of the European Parliament.
08.02.2008


Suat Kiniklioglu s.kiniklioglu@todayszaman.com Hillary, Obama And Mccain: Us Presidential Primaries From A Turkish Perspective
Let me underline from the very outset this is a very parochial Turkish perspective on the outcome of Super Tuesday.

By now it has become certain that Super Tuesday produced a clear frontrunner on the Republican side while dramatically splitting the Democratic vote. Indeed, the race on the Democratic side is very exciting, and as many American observers have noted, it is the most dramatic race in living memory. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are locked in a close race that is likely to continue until the very end. Perhaps the nomination at the Democratic National Convention will be determined by super delegates. We will find out in the near future.

First of all, it must be stated that Obama has generated a long-forgotten excitement among American voters, especially young voters. In particular he attracts first-time voters and African Americans. His message about change and the image of being an outsider of the Beltway appears to work well for him. That said most Turks are annoyed with his vocal endorsement of the Armenian issue. He is also too much of an unknown for most Turks and thus comes with a certain level of unpredictability.

Hillary's foreign policy team is well known to the Turkish establishment, and even her surname invokes sympathies here in Ankara. After all, Bill Clinton's visit to Turkey in 1999 signified a peak in Turkish-US relations. Interestingly, Hillary's endorsement of the Armenian issue produced a lose-lose situation for her as the Armenian diaspora announced its support for Obama right after her endorsement. Hillary's endorsement -- despite advice to the contrary by her foreign policy team -- did not serve her at all as it pleased neither Armenians nor Turks. Both candidates may regret in 2009 having endorsed this issue as the fate of HR 106 has shown it could become quite an embarrassment for Congress.

John McCain, although not widely known in Turkey, is seen as a person who understands Turkey's strategic value extremely well. He has not committed himself to the Armenian issue and has shown a principled stance on Iraq -- something Turks find genuine, particularly in light of the increasing signs that Iraq will remain a united state. McCain is seen as a candidate who has a balanced approach to Turks and Kurds in the region. It remains to be seen how he would do against either of the Democratic candidates. He might benefit from an early candidacy for himself and a bitter fight on the Democratic side until the very end. Such a scenario may provide McCain with invaluable time to beat a Democratic opponent, although most pundits tend to predict a Democratic victory regardless of the candidate.

Turks are following the US election very closely. It matters considerably to the rest of the world who is leading the administration in the White House. The Turkish establishment believes the US does not have the luxury of having a president without extensive foreign policy experience. The world, more specifically the Middle East, needs an engaged and responsive US president.

We Turks look forward to working with the new US president, who will hopefully focus on re-identifying a common agenda in Turkish-US relations. Turkey and the US have common objectives in the region. We need to find the proper mechanisms and channels of dialogue which will produce convergence. Our countries may again become the major security producing actors in the region. Regardless of who becomes the next US president, we are in for an exciting political time.

Get ready for sleepless nights glued to the TV screen.
08.02.2008


Ali H. Aslan a.aslan@todayszaman.com Bad News For Erdogan?
Bad news for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Given the results of the "super Tuesday" primaries in the US, Barack Obama, whom Erdogan lashed out at after he promised to acknowledge the so-called "Armenian genocide," has never been so close to winning the Democratic Party's nomination for the 2008 presidential elections.

Erdogan harshly criticized Senator Obama, depicting him as an "acemi" (rookie) politician. Many people fall into the trap of underestimating others. As an underestimated politician who has proven to be the most durable "black" leader in the "white-dominated" Republic of Turkey, Erdogan should have known this more than anyone else. Furthermore, he himself was not more experienced than Obama in government affairs and he was only two years older than Obama (46) when he became prime minister with the Turkish general elections in 2002. And I'm telling you, the chances for Obama to be the next president of the US are no less favorable than Erdogan's 2002 bid. The Clintons, who also seem to have underestimated him, should nowadays be grappling with this fact more than anyone else.

Obama made a strong start by winning the Iowa caucus. The Clinton camp became increasingly nervous after Obama stole the normally Clinton-loyal black Americans in South Carolina. But it wasn't until this Tuesday that alarm bells started to ring for Clinton. Once considered the obvious frontrunner in the Democratic race, Senator Clinton now feels the breath of Obama on her neck.

Elections in the first five states granted Clinton 51 percent more delegates than Obama. In the aftermath of Super Tuesday, however, delegate tallies are almost even or only slightly in favor of Clinton according to varying counts due to the confusing calculation methods of the Democratic primaries. Obama has the psychological edge since he won five more states than Clinton, whereas the big enchilada, California, went to Hillary.

There is an even more dramatic comparison in their respective monetary situations. Who would expect an "underdog" candidate like Obama to surpass Clinton in terms of campaign funds? Senator Clinton, whose campaign ran out of money, had to borrow $5 million from her personal account. Obama, on the other hand, enjoys $32 million raised in January alone, compared to Hillary's $13.5 million.

Everybody knows money talks in politics (although perhaps not as much as Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who has spent millions from his own fortune so far, has counted on). Vice versa, talk generates money (though not necessarily as much as former preacher Mike Huckabee might have wished for). Obviously, Obama has proven very successful in transforming his speaking abilities into campaign funds. His debate performance may not be extraordinary, but he can definitely score high points when he addresses crowds. The wider American public probably first got acquainted with Obama during his impressive nationally televised victory speech in Iowa. And it should be no surprise that he was able to garner increasing numbers of young voters, who constitute the backbone of his political organization.

It looks like the more people get to know Obama, the more likely they are to vote for him. So time is on Obama's side in this unusually long intra-party race. The Clinton campaign is far from being dead. But eventually we might very well find ourselves in a situation where we will be talking more about White House foreign policy under Obama's command. If only, of course, he also beats the Republican candidate. That person seems to be Senator John McCain, given his lead over the remaining two contenders, Romney and Huckabee, which is mathematically almost impossible to beat.

Speaking of mathematics, it's almost a certainty that Clinton, Obama or McCain is going to be the next US president. All of them are multilateralists, and that's good for the US and for the world. I'm sure their counterparts in Ankara, no matter how enraged they might be at times, will do their best to not reduce Turkey's relations with the US to issues like the debate over Armenian allegations of genocide. They would expect the same from the American side. After all, even the US cannot afford a "with us or against us" mantra on particular policy topics. How can Turkey do so?
08.02.2008


United States Recognises Sioux Independence
Russell Means, who defends Native Indian rights in the United States, said in a statement on behalf of the Lakota Freedom Delegation that they were withdrawing from all previous agreements, made 150 years ago, with the federal government. Washington avoided making an immediate response, making its views known a number of weeks later when a statement from the White House announced its new approach. It is an approach that will deeply affect the next stage of world politics. The statement said that the United States will not force any part of the country to live with them, and that the future of relations between the United States and Sioux would be negotiated.

Such a development could turn all world balances upside down. The right to self-determination could turn a development such as this into standard procedure. In fact, a reasonable agreement between the US and the Sioux would be in the interests of the United States more than anyone. Perhaps the Sioux will have their own licences, passports and badges of sovereignty. But none of these would, in reality, damage the US. But after America has permitted a nation to decide on its own future, even if one within its own borders, it could be more successful in directing the balances in other countries.

The Sioux

“We call on the US State Department. We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area – Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming – that encompasses our country are free to join us.” This statement came from Russell Means, Native Indian rights activist. According to the statement, they have withdrawn from all previous agreements with the US government, some of which were signed 150 years ago, because the United States has infringed the 33 agreements “in an attempt to steal their ability to continue their culture, land and lives”. The statement says that their independence is based on Article 6 of the US Constitution and the Vienna Agreement.

We will see later how the Sioux will continue their struggle and the US authorities’ response to the matter. But the steps taken by the Sioux could affect the future of those minorities who have long sought independence, as well as those who have not had the heart to demand independence but have gone door to door seeking support.

The Sioux have a population of about 150,000 and living in South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Montana, North Dakota and Canada. They previously lived in North America around Lake Superior, but lost in wars against European colonists and were driven to Minnesota and Dakota. In the middle of the 19th century they were placed in concentration camps. They rose again in 1876 to begin a fight for independence, but their resistance was broken in a large massacre by US forces in 1890. The Sioux call themselves “Dakota”, “Lakota”.

The Dakota doctrine

Perhaps in the near future, the “Dakota doctrine” will be used to describe this process. But even if it is given a different name, there are some truths that have come to the fore because of it. The first is that a minority could have separatist demands just be living in the United States. If the US does not stop the process, many groups could pass through the open door.

Beyond such groupings as the Kosovar Albanians, Bosnian Serbs, Montenegrin Armenians, the Sioux are less-well known and similar groups could be effected.

For instance, the French political scientist Jean-Yves Camus wrote on 14 August 2007 in Le Soir that he was wary of the European Union’s “Balkanisation”. Of course these striking words are designed, rather than being realistic, to draw attention to the problem. No one wants there to be street fighting in the 21st century between Catalans and Castilians, or for there to be ethnic cleansing between Franks and Basques. But if Camus were to write his piece today he would probably say the threat to the European Union is not Balkanisation, but “Dakotaisation”.

This is because both the United States and European Union are affluent, federative, institutionalised, powerful systems. Presumably neither the Sioux nor the peoples who want to separate from EU member states want to line their borders with barbed wire and walls. The Flemings of Belgium, the Basques of Spain and France or the Catalans of Spain all see the future of their dreams intertwined with the EU.

The time is no longer suitable for the European Union to say “one land, one nation” or “one people, one licence, one state”. It should be mentioned that in Catalonia, in Spain, the official language is Catalonian and those who do not speak the language cannot have their official transactions completed.

According to Camus, “Balkanisation is the greatest obstacle to the emergence of a strong Europe. This paradoxical face of globalisation could lead to the United States becoming a hyperpower.”

Camus believes such a process will both make Europe’s own integration harder and provoke ethnic-centred world views and racism.

In Europe today, these regions have demands for independence: the Basque, Faroe Islands, Flanders, the Gagavuz Turks, Northern Ireland, Catalonia, Corsica, Kosovo, Scotland, Transnistria and South Tirol.

These regions, meanwhile, demand autonomy: Astoria, Bretonia, Alsace, Friuli, Carelinia, Sardinia, Savonia and Schlesia.

Besides these, there are 14 ethnic groups that demand greater rights, and eight who demand greater autonomy. A great many more groups can be added to this number from Greece.

Outside of those who give their countries a name, there are 300 groups living within European Union borders, making up some 103 million people. 166 of these live in Central Europe. As the EU busies itself with ethnic identities beyond its borders, it was far too late to see what was happening within them. A 1977 study found that there were only 90 groups, number some 38 million.

But in recent times the European Union, perhaps as a side effect of the age of information, has become more political and adopted a more ethnic-centred structure. More democracy and more legalities have allowed more people to determine their true identities.

The EU became involved in the matter of minorities at the start of the 1990s for two basic reasons. The first was enlargement, and the need to acquire sovereignty over territory before formal membership. The second was that demographics had become a valuable weapon for Europe once again, after the lightning of World War II trauma and the softening of Cold War circumstances. The EU has failed to build a system followed by all member states up to now, which has given members and EU institutions the luxury to operate according to the conjuncture.

That is why there is no law in France or Greece protecting minority rights. In contrast, Italy protects its minorities of twelve different languages and history with a comprehensive law. Britain and Austria have arrangements that exempt them from the EU, operating under international agreements, and only consider their national minorities. Latvia, a new member, has not even ratified those international agreements.

Europe’s basic problem in structuring minority rights is the separation of collective rights and personal rights. It is a very real truth that it is not sufficient to merely prevent people from being subjected to discrimination. The EU is portrayed as a champion of minority rights in our region, but in its own territory it has just yet only managed to prevent discrimination.

The EU’s acquis states that member countries must develop the identities and cultures of minorities within their borders. But seeing as the European Union only operates in line with the needs and demands of its member states, it cannot be expected to make an effort until a member or institution makes a demand.

A concrete example can be found in Spain’s Catalans, Greece’s Turks or France’s Moroccans. As long as they do not work to have their rights delivered and their identities development, no one can demand these from them.

That is why gypsies have become the vehicle of sin-makers in the European Union. This might be a ruthless criticism, but out of its 300 minority groups and 103 million people, the EU has chosen the group least likely to cause problems and is focusing all its energy on gypsies. They pose no risk, be it in terms of population or territory.

And as Camus says, those important groups that could “prevent a strong Europe from developing” are continuing to wait.

In the days that the Sioux announced their withdrawal from the United States, Belgium and Spain were watching the demonstrations of their own Flemings and Catalans.

As if challenging those who say “countries that enter the EU never break up”, both groups were voicing their demands for independence in the loudest possible voices. Most Western Europeans watching the demonstrations were surprised, because their understanding was that the nation-state is only seen in post-Communist Eastern Europe. This should not have happened, they said, in the unified, deepening and enlarging European Union.

The EU was unable to develop its own values with which to replace national values. As globalisation descends with all its anger on weaker countries, it caught strong Europe on the wrong footing. Wealth was not a reason to concede from identity. The Basque, Scots, Catalans and Flemings certainly thought so. Presumably the same thinking applied in the most developed part of the Soviet Union, the Baltic.

When we think that this European crisis has been most felt in Brussels, capital of the European Union, the Sioux could have created a new concept that could spread by domino effect.

When we think that many historical ethnic groupings - the Moravians of the Czech Republic and the Silesians of Poland included – have begun to define their identities down national lines, the United States might not avoid taking the step that could prevent a strong Europe from emerging, and even push Russia off the table and transform it into a indecipherable puzzle.
www.diplomaticobserver.com


"Euro-Turks: The Presence Of Turks In Europe And Their Future"
Journal of Turkish Weekly Feb 5 2008

The Turkish entrepreneurs of Germany averaged 112,500 Euro of
investment per head and in total reached an investment volume of 7.7 billion Euro.

Prof. Dr. Faruk Şen, director of the Turkey Research Center Association (TAM), recently published a book presenting the statistics he had compiled while doing research on Turks living in the European Union.

He also chronicles his own experiences, as a Turk who has spent many years in Germany. The book, "Euro-Turks: the Presence of Turks in Europe and their Future", was published by the Turkish publishing house Gunizi Yayıncılık.

TURKOFAMERICA has compiled some of the more striking data that come straight from Prof. Şen's book on the experience of these "Euro-Turks".

THE TURKISH POPULATION COMPRISES THE 19TH EU COUNTRY There are 5.2 million Turks living in the 27 countries of the European Union. Approximately 1 million of this body of people consists of a minority population of Turkish descent living in Bulgaria and Romania. The remaining population is mostly a result of immigration to EU countries from the 1960s on.

This 5.2 million population numbers close to the population of Denmark and is almost twice the population of the Baltic states.

European Turks are basically the 28th country of the European Union.

Based on population, they would even be the 19th country in the union.

Forty-two percent of the Turkish immigrants living in EU countries are citizens of that country. Forty-two percent is equivalent to 1,777,000 people. This is equal to the populations of Greek Cyprus, Malta, and Luxembourg combined. Of that number, 625,000 are dual citizens.

ECONOMIC POWER After realizing that worker companies were unsuccessful, from 1986 on many Euro-Turks and business owners began to implement their dreams.

In many European cities, when the words "Turkish entrepreneurs" are uttered many names come to mind, including Vural Oger, Ali Akkanat, Ahmet Aydın, Hulisi Bayam, Ahmet and Dicle Fırat, Aydın Yardımcı, Hilmi Selcuk, Gulcan Ayvalık, Mehmet Coban, Kadir Uğur, Muslum Balaban and Bekir Akman, all businesspeople well-known and respected in their fields.

The number of Turkish entrepreneurs in Germany numbered nearly 70,000 at the end of 2006. With the added countries of Bulgaria and Romania, where there are many Turkish people doing business, that number increases to 107,000.

68,300 ENTREPENEURS IN GERMANY In the 1990s among the Turkish population in Germany, a growing number of people opted to form their own companies. Entrepreneurs of Turkish descent, as the largest ethnic group of entrepreneurs in the country, have served the function as one of the largest powerhouses of business owners.

The number of Turks working freelance from November to December of 2006 reached 68,300. The increase from the year before, when there were 64,600, was 5.7 percent. One out of every ten Turkish families receives their main source of income from freelance work.

A TURNOVER OF 31.6 BILLION EURO There seems to be no neighborhood in the cities of modern-day Germany where there is no Turk involved in at least one sector, including gastronomy, trade, craftsmanship, or a service-related business.

The average yearly turnover of 68,300 Turkish business owners working in Germany is 31.6 billion Euro. A large number of the businesses that average a yearly turnover of 462,000 Euro consist of family-owned and -run businesses. The Turkish entrepreneurs of Germany averaged 112,500 Euro of investment per head and in total reached an investment volume of 7.7 billion Euro.

THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!

It is striking how large a gulf there exists between the reality of Turkish entrepreneurs and the image of them in the public eye. In the public, Turkish entrepreneurs are thought to be mainly owners of doner stands or produce sellers, and not a group that has many representatives in a large number of sectors.

Over time, the doner stands became restaurants, the small-time doner producers became large outfits, airline ticket sellers became large travel agencies. A large percentage of Turkish business owners (78.3 percent) form individual companies.

There are 53,500 individual companies in Germany. While every one out of ten has a partnership in a simple firm, the percentage of limited companies is just 9.2 percent. According to findings by TAM, the average age of Turkish entrepreneurs is 37.8.

Nearly 43.5 percent have German citizenship and the average amount of time the person has lived there is 23.6 years. Most are men, although the number of female entrepreneurs is growing. The percentage of entrepreneurs that are women is 24.2 percent. Seventy-five percent of the business owners have a trade degree.

TURKISH ENTREPRENEURS IN THE EU A large number of the Turkish entrepreneurs in the EU (68 percent) live in Germany. France and Holland follow close behind. In the 10-year period between 1996 and 2006, the investment volume of Turkish entrepreneurs increased from 5.6 billion Euro to 10.9 billion Euro.

The turnover of 21.8 billion Euro in 1996 has increased as of 2006 to 43.9 billion Euro. Alongside this increase in size and profit, there has also been an increase in employment. In 1996 there were 232,000 employed whereas today the amount is 474,000.

When the Turkish population of Bulgaria and Romania (who became EU members in early 2007) is taken into consideration, 23,500 Turkish business owners can be added to that list. In this way, the number of Turkish entrepreneurs has reached 124,500 in the EU at large.

THE PUSH FOR REAL ESTATE While the debate over whether foreigners should be able to buy houses in Turkey or not is ongoing, more than 260,000 Turks in the EU already own a house, story, or property. In other words, more than 25 percent of the property used by Euro-Turk business owners belongs to them and a large number are fixing up these buildings and renting them out.

At the beginning of 2006 the number of business owners that owned their property in Europe had surpassed 255,000. At the beginning of 2007 this number began to push 280,000. The largest improvement in property ownership has been witnessed in Germany. Of the Turks living in Germany, 203,000 were property owners as of the end of 2006.

The net real estate wealth of Turkish households is about 9.7 billion Euro. In the EU, the net real estate wealth of Turks is 12.2 billion Euro. In Germany the household gross real estate wealth is 3.9 billion Euro and the net real estate wealth is 2.9 trillion Euro.

LOBBYING ACTIVITIES AND SCHOLARLY COOPERATION Today in Germany alone there are more than 2,300 active mosque associations and the associations formed by Euro-Turks living in EU-member states number more than 4,000. In line with Turkey's desire, there is no strong European Turkish lobby similar to the Armenian or Jewish lobbies in Europe.

One reason for this is that there is no strong willingness on the part of Turks living there and because they are not members of a powerful country. In terms of politics, European Turks are quite sophisticated. In Germany in particular, there are numerous politicians of Turkish descent in political parties.

According to official figures, Turkey sends 130,000 students to 70 countries for purposes of study. Unofficial figures suggest a number closer to 200,000. From Thailand to Georgia, Singapore to South Africa, it is possible to run into Turkish students at the far corners of the earth. Even in remote areas of the US, it is possible to find Turkish students studying at universities, as there are nearly 40,000 Turkish students studying there.

In Germany on the other hand, 95 percent of the Turkish students studying higher education (or 36,000) are children of immigrants.

IN CONCLUSION Within the framework of marriage and population increases in the European Union, the Turkish population there increases yearly by 150-180,000. At the same time deaths are also increasing. The population of Euro-Turks in 2023, if there are no large-scale changes, will be a bit more than the population of Greece and will reach the 10 million mark.

In a Europe where an estimated 10 million Euro-Turks will live, will Turkey itself be a part of the EU starting 1 January 2014? Although I was initially quite optimistic about such a development, I no longer retain hope regarding this issue and instead wish to proceed as though it is not an eventuality.

Europe's conservative nature, its own internal divisions and anti-Islam attitude, and its dwindling resources will eventually make it seem less attractive to Turkey. The EU will undoubtedly find a reason not to take Turkey and for this reason Turkey-EU relations will always be directed by the Euro-Turks.

Perhaps Turkey will find allegiance with the new economic powerhouses of China and India and will use its strategic location on the border of the EU to full advantage.


Turkey Opposes Gdf In Nabucco, Official Says
Turkey opposes Gaz de France's inclusion in the Nabucco gas pipeline project because of France's stances on Armenian accusations of genocide and Ankara's EU bid, a senior energy official said on Wednesday.

His comments to Reuters, reiterating Turkey's previously stated opposition, followed expressions of support from Romania's president and Hungarian firm MOL for GDF's involvement in the project that would bring Caspian gas to Europe.

The five billion-euro ($7.4 billion) pipeline is designed to pass via Turkey and the Balkans to Austria and is a key plank of the European Union's plans to reduce its dependence on Russian gas imports. It is planned for completion in 2012.

The Turkish official, who declined to be named, said that in normal conditions Turkey would be glad to accept GDF as a partner, given its experience and success in the energy sector. "Turkey avoids using energy as a political instrument, it has no such aim," he said. "But France has unacceptable positions on the incidents of 1915, which should be left to historians, and on the European Union and other joint projects."

Ankara has previously said it opposed Gaz de France's involvement in the project because of the French National Assembly's approval of a bill making it a crime to deny Armenians suffered a genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks in 1915-16. Ankara denies the killings were a systematic genocide.

Turkey is also upset about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's opposition to Ankara's quest for European Union membership. Sarkozy says the EU cannot absorb Turkey, a relatively poor Muslim country with 70 million people, and says Brussels should instead negotiate a "privileged partnership."

The Nabucco consortium is equally owned by oil and gas companies in the transit countries -- Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL, Romania's Transgaz, Bulgaria's Bulgargaz and Turkey's Botas. The Nabucco consortium on Tuesday confirmed German utility RWE will join the project.

The Turkish Energy Ministry official said six partners was enough for the project but that a seventh partner, from a gas-producing country, could join.

Iran has stated its desire to supply gas to the Nabucco project.

“We are aiming to enter the European market to export gas and the more partners we have in this long route of passage, the faster it will be. Of course we appreciate that Turkey is the first part of this route,” Hojjatollah Ghanimifard, international affairs director at the National Iranian Oil Company, told Reuters.
07.02.2008 Reuters Ankara


LA Lawyer Battles Giants For Armenian 'Genocide' Heirsby Haro Chakmakjian Feb 5,

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Lawyer Vartkes Yeghiayan has been waging a long and hard battle against US and French giants for million-dollar claims from Armenians dating back to the waning days of the Ottoman Empire.

Thousands of unpaid insurance policy claims have flowed in from the Armenian diaspora across the globe to Yeghiayan's small legal firm in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb with the largest concentration of Armenians in the US.

In his two-decade crusade, Yeghiayan and a small team of lawyers have won 37.5 million dollars for clients after settling two cases with New York Life in 2004 and later in 2005 with French insurers AXA in California courts.

But the silver-haired, 71-year-old lawyer is pragmatic about his quest to seek a financial settlement for the heirs of Armenian account-holders, who lost their lives or assets in the mayhem of World War I and before the birth of modern Turkey in 1923.

Armenians say at least 1.5 million were killed from 1915 to 1917 in what they call a campaign of deportation and murder by the Ottoman Empire. The claims are denied by Turkey, which says hundreds of thousands died on both sides after Armenians took up arms for independence.

Several of Yeghiayan's own family members perished, including a grandfather whose name, however, does not appear on his lists of life insurance policies which were never honored.

"These are not genocide lawsuits. What we are talking about is companies making an immoral profit," said the former Peace Corps assistant director.

"It's not for the money. It's the concept that your grandfather felt there was a danger and wanted future protection for his family. As one of the beneficiaries said, 'That's a sentiment I will always cherish.'"

The heirs of 9,500 Ottoman Armenians who had bought policies are eligible to benefit from the New York Life and AXA deals, which also have to cover more than seven million dollars in legal expenses and fees. Any unclaimed funds have been earmarked for Armenian charities and the church.

Yeghiayan's odyssey started back in 1986 when he was reading the memoirs of the US ambassador to Ottoman Turkey, Henry Morgenthau.

In a meeting with then interior minister Mehmed Talaat Pasha, Morgenthau was asked for a list of Armenians who had taken out insurance policies with American companies. The Turkish minister argued the Ottoman government was the rightful beneficiary since there were no heirs.

Morgenthau, who had reported back to Washington on the horrors which his consuls were witnessing, stormed out of the meeting.

For Yeghiayan, that passage was a moment of revelation.

"That's when I jumped out of bed," says Yeghiayan.

With the enthusiasm of a detective, he launched a massive paper-trail hunt which took him from the State Department to the National Archives and finally into the insurers' annual reports and aging archives.

Taking gambles, such as turning down an initial settlement offer, he courted the help of influential Armenians in California's political hierarchy to help clear legal hurdles.

In the November 2005 AXA settlement, the largest number of some 9,000 claims came from Armenia, where a poster campaign gave details about the case and sought claimants, followed by the United States, and France.

As in the earlier New York Life case, for which the funds have already been disbursed, claimants from far apart as Brazil, Bulgaria and Lebanon were also represented.

Under the terms of the settlement, New York Life denied any wrongdoing, but "concluded that it is in its best interests to settle this action ... in order to avoid the expense, inconvenience and interference with its ongoing business operations that would result from further litigation."

But treasure-hunters will be disappointed -- the average award per policy amounts to a modest 6,000-7,000 dollars in the so-called Class Action cases.

Undeterred by recent setbacks in court, Yeghiayan now has his sights set on Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank of Germany.

Deutsche Bank told AFP they "do not comment on pending legal procedures," but both banks, through their lawyers, have denied any liability, arguing the suit amounted to "unconstitutional" meddling in Germany's foreign affairs.

Despite emergency heart surgery in 1999, Yeghiayan has no plans to step down. "I realize the other side may have 3,000 lawyers and that Vartkes will not be around forever, but what am I going to do if I retire?"


Turk Complains Of Discrimination
February 6, 2008
A French politician of Turkish origins will apply to an organization in France that fights discrimination and inequality, a decision that came after she was forced to withdraw her candidacy in the municipal council elections for refusing to recognize Armenian genocide claims. The Socialists and the Greens had put Sirma Oran Martz forward as a candidate in the town of Villeurbanne.
PARIS – AA


Armenia's Elections: The Azeri Perspective
February 6, 2008 C. Cem OGUZ

I spent last week in Azerbaijan and was surprised by what I saw. Baku in particular looks like one vast construction site these days. The elegant and chic late 19th century buildings in the city's heart that reflect its colorful past are being rapidly renovated. I was, however, disturbed by the number of what I call beton boxes, ugly modern-style concrete apartment blocks, that have sprung up everywhere and are destroying Baku's beautiful and unique skyline.

After seeing a newly built apartment building on nearly every corner, I felt compelled to ask my friends whether these flats are indeed selling. I had been told that such flats were going for prices in excess of $4,000 per square meter. With a wry smile on his lips, one of them replied, “Azerbaijan is a capitalist country now. If they were not selling, why would our businessmen be investing in them?” I am sure that Stalin and his communist comrades-in-arms are turning in their graves these days…

The mass grave in Quba

I started to wonder whether the countryside, or inner parts of Azerbaijan, are also benefiting from this apparent economic revival in the capital. My trip to Quba, a beautiful city in the northern part of the country, just 50 kilometers from the Russian (Dagestani) border, gave me the opportunity to make a first-hand comparison. Indeed, it seemed so. In Quba, for instance, I observed that the locals are enjoying tangible improvements in their quality of life. There is a high volume of border trade going on with Russia and a new road is being rapidly built from Quba to Baku, which I was told will extend as far as the Iranian border.

While I was in Quba, city authorities showed me a mass grave that they have just discovered. It is peculiar in the sense that both Muslim and Jewish victims massacred by the Armenian Dashnaks in 1918 are buried there side-by-side. I took several photos that I will soon send specifically to Abraham Foxman, national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) who, a couple of months ago, said that the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Turks “were tantamount to genocide.”

The Azeri academics I spoke to voiced strong support for the idea. In fact, parliamentary resolutions in Western countries regarding the Armenian “genocide” allegations get their hackles as much as ours. I attended a lecture at Khazar University where almost every participant complained about “Western bias, ignorance and double-standards.” They could not understand how easily, or without having any idea about what really happened, they could arrive at such conclusions. I later found out that the government will soon initiate a campaign against Armenian propaganda. Atakhan Pashayev, head of Azerbaijan's national archives, for instance, told me that they, too, will soon open their archives and display the documents of this period on the Internet.

Actually not a day passes in Azerbaijan without one hearing a discussion among the public relating their views on Armenia, Armenian-occupied territories, or Western countries' biased attitude towards the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute. Among the ordinary Azeris, the gackins (approximately one million refugees from Armenian-occupied lands) in particular, the belief that use of force seems to be inevitable has become more widespread than ever. The Azeri government has launched new programs to improve living conditions among the gackins. For instance, from the country's oil revenue, which witnessed a boom last year, AZN 154 million was allocated to refugees and internally displayed persons. Yet, as a school teacher in a refugee camp just outside Baku, where three to five families are forced to live together in a single room of only 15 square meters, told me, they would rather live in tents in their native land than in palaces in Baku.

Armenia's presidential elections

That being said, what I was particularly interested in was how the Azeri decision-makers were approaching the presidential elections in Armenia, which are scheduled for Feb. 19. I spoke with several young Azeri MPs and found them to be brilliant minds with a strong vision of where the world, as well as their region, is headed. In particular, I wanted to know what they thought about the likelihood of Levon Ter-Petrossian being elected. They described Ter-Petrossian as a leader they could indeed work with, but expressed doubt about the possibility of him getting elected.

I posed the same question to a senior authority and the answer I got was interesting. Noting that Azerbaijan's 2007 budget was approximately $12 billion, he told me that $1.2 billion of this amount was spent on the military. Actually, they would prefer to direct that money towards solutions to the problems Azeri people are facing today. “And Petrossian,” he then added, “is indeed someone to work with and a realistic politician who is aware of the potential that the region holds.” However, he too was pessimistic that the elections would be fair and free. He doesn't believe, he said, Armenia's “Karabakh clan” in power wants a normalization of relations with either Azerbaijan or Turkey.

Towards the end of my trip, I came together with a group of journalists. In the interviews, the first question they posed to me was why Turkish reactions to Hrant Dink's murder had been so exaggerated, citing the public slogan “We all are Armenian.” This clearly had confused and hurt them. I tried to explain that the way Hrant Dink was murdered certainly needed to be condemned, and that the people chanting such slogans were trying to show solidarity and empathy with the Armenian Turkish community. One of them reproachfully replied, “Our territories have been under Armenian occupation for the last 15 years. Why do Turkish journalists in particular begrudge us the same empathy they showed the Armenians?”

This was a question for which I had no answer..

.* The writer can be contacted at ccem@bilkent.edu.tr


McCain Refuses To Pledge Recognition Of 'Armenian Genocide'
February 5, 2008
The other leading Republican candidate Romney has also so far declined to back the Armenian cause
Ümit Enginsoy, Washington - Turkish Daily News

U.S. Armenians have failed to win a pledge from Sen. John McCain, the Republican frontrunner in the race for the U.S. presidency, to recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide," after winning such promises from Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In a weekend letter to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the largest and most radical U.S. Armenian group, McCain qualified the Armenian deaths as a "tragedy," falling well short of Armenian demands that the killings be branded as genocide."It is fair to say that this tragedy, the brutal murder of as many as one and a half million Armenians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, has also been one of the most neglected," McCain said in his letter, according to an ANCA statement."The suffering endured by the Armenian people during that period represented the prologue to what has come to be known as humanity's bloodiest century," he said.McCain's remarks echoed President George W. Bush's statements on each April 24 in recent years, the day of commemoration of Armenian deaths. Armenians have strongly criticized Bush for what they see as the weakness of his statements and for opposing congressional efforts for genocide recognition.In his long career in the Senate, McCain has also consistently refused to back Armenian genocide resolutions.

Other Republican Romney:

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, McCain's main rival in "Super Tuesday" primaries and caucuses in more than 20 states today, so far has not responded to ANCA's request to comment on last century's Armenian killings."To date, the Romney for president campaign has not issued any statement on issues of concern to the Armenian American community," ANCA said. It said Romney's campaign had only shared copies of proclamations he had made during his tenure as Massachusetts governor. "While the first three statements during his four years in office properly described the Armenian Genocide as genocide, his fourth and final statement refrained from using the accurate terminology," ANCA said.Failing to win backing for its cause, ANCA so far has declined to endorse any Republican candidate. The Republican candidates' positions were in sharp contrast with remarks made by Obama and Clinton.

Obama to benefit from Armenian vote:

Both presidential hopefuls have pledged to "recognize the Armenian genocide as president." They also voiced backing for the passage of two genocide resolutions pending in Congress. Still, ANCA announced last week that it was supporting Obama in the race against Clinton. The Armenian Public Affairs Committee, or Armenpac, has announced its endorsement for Clinton, but its influence is much less than that of ANCA.In nation-wide polls, McCain was well ahead of Romney just on the eve of Super Tuesday, while Clinton and Obama were tied.The Republican Party is holding primaries and caucuses in 21 states today. A total of 22 states and American Samoa will simultaneously see Democratic primaries and caucuses.


Letters to the TDN editor, February 5, 2008 (Cengiz AKTAR ) Armenian Imposition On Canada

Dear Professor Özay Mehmet, I have read your article published in the TDN that covered an important aspect of the Canadian education system, or actually its weakness. It is open to manipulation by any militant group wishing to propagate its ideology in the Canadian education system and in the Canadian society.

As a Jew I am very sensitive to any minority persecution and defamation. In this case the target is the Canadian Turkish community.

In comparison, I am one of the Israelis who lost in the holocaust many family members, yet I am not believing that this should allow me to hate Germans or affect my conception of present day Germany. Here in Israel, we do teach at school the unbelievable details of the holocaust history, we remember the millions of our murdered people, but we are also very careful to insist that it is absolutely wrong and forbidden to teach or incite total hatred.

The propaganda and anti Turkey hate campaign fired by some Armenian groups should not be tolerated. It is too bad that even governments are influenced by it, as some politicians believe they could make some political gain.

I am glad that at last some Canadian voices come against it, and I expect the Turkish community in Canada would effectively resist any hate campaigns.

Professor Samuel Goldsmith, Tel Aviv University


Elekdag: ICJ Involvement Will Deal A Blow To Armenian Thesis
It is time for Ankara to bring new perspective, organization and dynamism to the Armenian issue, according to veteran Turkish diplomat Sükrü Elekdag.

Elekdag, a deputy for the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), insists that Ankara should take the first step in this new direction by asking France to jointly take an almost decade-old French parliamentary decision recognizing the controversial World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to determine whether the century-old incidents can accurately be categorized as acts of genocide according to a related UN convention.

Elekdag's first remarks on the issue came last week in the French capital following talks at the French parliament as part of a Turkish parliamentary delegation.

The controversial decision bluntly stating that "France publicly recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915" was made in January 2001, leading Ankara to lodge strong protests with Paris, including the cancellation of a number of major projects with actual or potential French involvement.

"We can go to the ICJ with France and ask whether the law adopted in France in 2001 is in compliance with the agreement in 1948 and whether the 1915 incidents constitute genocide," Elekdag was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, in an apparent reference to the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. He noted that the delegation had shared this view with French lawmakers during their talks.

Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects these claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with the Russian troops who were invading Ottoman territory.

Elekdag, a former Foreign Ministry undersecretary and also a former ambassador to the US, speaking with Today's Zaman on Monday, elaborated on his remarks. First of all, he made clear that it was not possible to try the Ottoman Empire under the 1948 UN Convention, since a convention could not be implemented for incidents that took place prior to its adoption and the controversial killings referred as the incidents of 1915 took place long before the adoption of the convention.

"What would the authorized court rule if we assume that the UN Convention could be implemented retrospectively?" Elekdag asked. He answered by referring to a ruling back in February 2007 in which the ICJ exonerated Serbia of direct responsibility for the mass slaughter of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, but ruled that it failed to prevent a genocide. Key to the court's findings was its conclusion that no one in Serbia, or any official organ of the state, could be shown to have had the deliberate intention to "destroy in whole or in part" the Bosnian Muslim population -- a critical element in the 1948 Genocide Convention.

"According to this landmark ruling, a state cannot be held responsible for genocide if it had used the means it had in hand to prevent the genocide incident via showing the utmost effort and good will. … On the other hand, the party that makes the genocide allegations must prove with 'absolute and undisputable' evidence that the perpetrator had not implemented necessary precautions with due diligence and that it committed the crime with the specific intent [dolus specialis]," Elekdag continued.

"In light of these facts, the French parliament's decision in 2001 is a typical sample of execution without trial," he added.

What Turkey and France should ask the ICJ is whether the French parliament has the authority to make a decision about the Ottoman Empire according to the UN Convention and to ask whether the 1915 incidents constituted genocide according to the same convention, he said.

"It is obvious that the court will rule that the French parliament is not authorized to make such a decision, and it will also have to announce that the UN Convention cannot be implemented retrospectively due to the principle of legality. This means that the 1915 incidents cannot be described as genocide. If the ICJ makes such a ruling, then Armenia's genocide allegation will entirely collapse," Elekdag said.

"If France avoids a joint application to the ICJ -- which is a big probability -- then a heavy blow will be dealt to the political and moral superiority of the Armenian thesis … in the international arena. Such a development will also constitute a factor that will prevent or at least make more difficult conviction of our citizens on charges of denial of genocide and the making of parliamentary decisions about the 1915 incidents."
05.02.2008 Emine Kart Ankara


Republican Candidates Likely To Disappoint Us Armenians
US Republican candidates for the presidency are cool toward Armenian demands for recognition of an alleged genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, their responses to an inquiry by a US Armenian group have revealed.

Unlike his Democrat rivals, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has notably refrained using the term "genocide," while outlining his views on "issues of special concern to the Armenian American community" in a letter sent to an influential Armenian diaspora organization, the Arme-nian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Another Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, who was also contacted by the ANCA for the same purpose, did not send a letter in response. Instead, his campaign officials shared with the ANCA copies of proclamations made by Romney during his tenure as Massachusetts governor. In his first three statements during his four years in office, Romney did use the term genocide to describe events of the World War I years, though his fourth and final statement refrained from using the term. To date, the "Romney for President" campaign has not issued any statement on issues of concern to the Armenian American community, the ANCA noted.

Last month, both Democratic rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in statements sent to the ANCA, have pledged to officially recognize the controversial World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide if they become president. Late last month, the ANCA announced its support for Obama.

ANCA announced on its Web site over the weekend that McCain, in his letter sent to the organization on Friday, condemned "the brutal murder of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under the rule of the Ottoman Empire," and praised the Armenian American community for "ensuring that one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century is never forgotten.” Yet, McCain's letter "notably fell short of properly characterizing the Armenian Genocide," the ANCA stressed.
05.02.2008 Today's Zaman Ankara


US Congresswoman Reiterates Bush's Opposition To Armenian Bill
New Anatolian / Ankara 01 February 2008

A Republican U.S. congresswoman said the Bush administration was opposed to an Armenian bill over allegations on the incidents of 1915, but added that there is always a possibility that the bill may come to the Senate floor again.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be acting against the will of a majority of congresspeople if she re-tries to bring the issue up on the agenda," said Virginia Foxx, North Carolina.

Foxx cited "a Congressional awareness" about the issue, saying that many congresspeople regretted endorsing the bill in the first place.

"Many congress member who put their signatures on the bill will not vote in favor of it," Foxx told reporters in New York.

When asked to comment on a joint support by Democrat's presidential candidates, Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton, for Armenian lobbies in the U.S., Foxx said neither of the two presidential hopefuls could grasp how important Turkey is for the U.S.

The congresswoman also said Turkish President Abdullah Gul's and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent visits to the US.made an influence on the administration to shift its stance toward the terrorist organization PKK.


From Karamanlis To Ergenekon by Etyen Mahcupyan e.mahcupyan@todayszaman

We are going through a period marked by a plethora of striking developments. While the EU membership process is continuing at a mercurial pace in the background, the government appears determined to finish drafting a new constitution and thus obliterate at least three embarrassing situations: the amendment of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), making the Foundations Law more citizen friendly in terms of democracy and most importantly, removing the ban on the headscarf, which has become a gangrenous issue. On the other hand, the practices currently in effect that are against the most fundamental universal moral principals are enough to reveal the quality of the regime in Turkey.

The world has at least benefited us in one way -- we have gotten used to comparing ourselves with others. Therefore, it is no longer possible to accept that this regime is fair, liberal, democratic and secular or that it has any other positive qualities. The intellectual expansion society has undergone in the last decade has made the nation into a much more conscious group of people who are now quite difficult to deceive. In addition, since this process coincided with a time when relations with the EU gained in intensity, it is no longer possible to convince Western observers of the "much praised" qualities of the republic.

It is likely that this atmosphere is helping us to more easily internalize the realistic comments foreigners make about us. Costas Karamanlis, the first Greek prime minister to visit Turkey in almost half a century, expressed his country's support for Turkey's EU membership with their wish to see "a democratic Turkey as a neighbor." But while putting it into words, he simply said, "We support Turkey's democratization." The person who emphasized that Turkey wasn't democratic enough was not the US president or the prime minister of a European country such as "great and deeply rooted" Germany or France, which are traditionally considered prestigious. The one who said that was Greece, the little neighbor next to us, which was governed by us up until two centuries ago. However, nobody, even those who consider themselves nationalists, reacted by saying, "Who does this man think he is?" Apparently, everybody admits to being "backward" and insufficient as implied by Karamanlis.

The modern era prioritized economic measures, so much so that the UN bases its comparisons between countries mostly on socio-economic figures, while the academic world continues expressing development essentially in economic terms. However, the post-modern era gave rise to a viewpoint in which political measures such as human rights, participation and transparency gained importance, and it then became easier to understand countries like Turkey, because it is possible to make a sense of such countries only by assessing their political systems and regimes. As of today, Turkey is politically an underdeveloped country, and the secular bureaucratic elite -- along with the secular statist media that supports it -- haven't run out of steam yet in their quest to perpetuate this situation.

One of the historical secrets of the Ergenekon operation, the flash event of recent weeks, lies here. Turkey's political underdevelopment has for decades been providing ground to certain groups of the secular bureaucracy for greater influence and power. This underdevelopment not only alludes to a coup planning military but also a totalitarian state ideology which puts society in second place. As an example of the statist policies generated by the worn-out Turkish identity, the Ergenekon formation clearly reveals our underdeveloped condition. Therefore, it crossed no one's mind to object to Karamanlis' statements.
01.02.2008


Obama Armenians’ Favorite In Democrat Presidential Race
US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has gained support from an influential Armenian diaspora organization, the Washington based-Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), days after he pledged to officially recognize the controversial World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide if he becomes president.

ANCA announced its support for Obama on Tuesday, praising him as "the Democratic candidate best positioned to bring fundamental change to how the United States addresses issues of special concern to Armenian American voters."

A few days after Obama, rival Hillary Clinton had also announced last month that she would officially recognize the alleged genocide of Anatolian Armenians if she becomes president.

"Based on his strong record in office, his bold statements as a candidate and our judgment as to the policies he will pursue as president, we believe that, among a strong field of Democratic candidates, Senator Obama will best reflect the views and values of Armenian American voters," ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian was quoted as saying a press conference held at the ANCA Western Region headquarters. His quotes and the organization's support have been aired on the ANCA's Web site.

The ANCA listed certain key elements of Obama's record that led to the endorsement. One of those elements is Obama's "public criticism of the Bush administration for firing former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans over his truthful remarks recognizing the Armenian Genocide."

The ANCA stressed that Obama "has publicly asserted that, 'An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy.'"

Ankara has already chided both Obama and Clinton, warning them to act in a responsible manner while electioneering.

"Politicians who run for the US presidency should act in a more responsible manner in regard to both history and the future; they should take pains not to offend a friendly and ally country and its people via groundless statements; and they should keep in mind the sensitivities of the Turkish-American relations within this framework," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released over the weekend.

The Washington-based diaspora organization also noted that "unlike other Democratic candidates, he [Obama] also pledged to 'promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.'"

Armenians claim that up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects these claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with the Russian troops who were invading Ottoman territory.
01.02.2008 Today's Zaman Ankara


Parliament Moves To Probe Deep-State Gangs by Cevdet Selvi
A proposal is in the making to establish a parliamentary commission endowed with powers to probe illegal, deep state-linked gangs.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy chairmen have decided to draft such a proposal and submit it to Parliament next week, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is ready to evaluate such a proposal if the CHP brings it to Parliament, sources said.

Though political parties have seemed cautious about an investigation launched into the deep state-linked Ergenekon gang, officials of the opposition CHP have rolled up their sleeves to extend the scope of the investigation and scrutinize the links between gangs and the deep state after it was revealed that such illegal formations were behind several assassinations whose hit men have never been captured. CHP officials have so far refrained from commenting on or issuing a statement about a Jan. 22 police crackdown on a gang known as Ergenekon that resulted in the apprehension of 29 people after they were charged with inciting people to revolt.

CHP Deputy Chairman Cevdet Selvi said the latest police crackdown on the Ergenekon criminal organization proved that illegal groups in Turkey have become very dangerous over the last few years.

In a phone interview with Today's Zaman, Selvi recalled that several prominent Turkish figures who attempted to investigate the relationship between illegal formations and the deep state met with unfortunate fates.

Ugur Mumcu, a leading figure in investigative journalism, Gaffar Okan, a former Diyarbakir security chief, Yasar Günaydin, a former prosecutor for the State Security Court (DGM), and Dogan Öz, a former Ankara chief prosecutor, were all assassinated as they investigated links between gangs and the deep state.

"The CHP deputy chairmen are currently evaluating the issue. We will present a proposal to Parliament next week to establish a parliamentary commission to probe the links between the deep state and gangs and to dissipate this ‘shroud of fog' behind many assassinations.

We would like to endow this commission with extra powers,” said Selvi. He maintained the commission in question should be composed of deputies and experts specialized in gangs and other illegal groups.

Recalling that similar parliamentary commissions were established to investigate several other infamous cases, Selvi added: “These commissions could not manage to shed light on the related cases as the realities were either covered up by researchers in the commissions or as commission members were not given the necessary power to clear up the mystery of these incidents.”

The term “deep state,” referring to renegade powers inside the state, became popular after a car accident in 1996 -- widely known as the Susurluk incident -- in which a member of Parliament and a senior police official were traveling together with a fugitive ultranationalist. The incident made it clear that national intelligence units employ gangs to do their dirty work. Several people were taken into custody in the investigation of the Susurluk gang -- and in dozens of similar cases -- but most of the key suspects have been released.

AK Party ready to evaluate the proposal

Sources said the ruling AK Party is not opposed to the idea of establishing such a parliamentary commission to investigate deep gangs under the roof of Parliament.

Nihat Ergün, deputy chairman of the AK Party’s parliamentary group, said it is clear that there are hidden groups behind the assassination of several important figures. “The government is exerting utmost effort to shed light on such killings, the perpetrators of which still have not been captured. But we have not put forward the idea of establishing a parliamentary commission to probe the Ergenekon gang because an investigation is still under way,” he told Today’s Zaman.

Stressing that the AK Party has decided to remain silent until the investigation is concluded, Ergün noted officials of his party are not opposed to the idea of forming such a commission.

DTP and DSP favor the proposal, MHP remains cautious

Though the Democratic Society Party (DTP) and the Democratic Left Party (DSP) favor a proposal to be drafted by the CHP to investigate links between the deep state and gangs, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) remains cautious.

The DTP believes that a commission possessing special powers will help uncover many illegal groups.

MHP Yozgat deputy Mehmet Ekici, on the other hand, noted that the CHP aims to label nationalists as gang members with such a proposal, adding that his party will assess the proposal when it is submitted to Parliament.
01.02.2008 Ercan Yavuz Ankara


Prosecutor Suspected Ergenekon Links From Start
An Istanbul prosecutor currently working on the case of a shadowy network that is believed to have been behind many crimes, including political assassinations, had asked an Ankara court for the documents of the case related to the 2006 Council of State shootings, to which his current suspects in the Ergenekon case seem to be linked, news reports said on Thursday.

The ongoing investigation into the crime network shows that the prosecutor has taken painstaking effort to draw up the links between various suspects and gangs in his earlier research that lead to dozens of arrests last week.

A police operation last week carried out as part of an investigation into a house filled with explosives in Istanbul resulted in the arrests of dozens of members of a crime network -- known as Ergenekon -- accused of involvement in plans for a violent uprising against the government. The operation was a culmination of an eight-month police investigation that has been pending since the arms depot was discovered in June last year.

Before last week's raids were even staged, the Istanbul Public Prosecutor's office investigating the house full of munitions had requested that the Ankara 11th Higher Criminal Court -- which is overseeing the cases of the two crime networks known as Sauna and Atabeyler as well as a deadly shooting at the Council of State -- send it copies of the indictments and expert reports for each of the cases. The Ergenekon gang is accused of the Council of State shooting as well, a suspicion that was confirmed only last week when 29 of Ergenekon members testified in court. The Ankara court sent the documents to the prosecutor in December of last year.

Earlier, the Ankara 11th Higher Criminal Court itself had asked for the documents of the case regarding the house full of munitions in relation to the Council of State shooting trial, due to apparent links between the suspects of the two cases. Fourteen suspects were detained in last week's dawn operations into the Ergenekon gang, including Veli Küçük, a retired major general who is also the alleged founder of an illicit intelligence unit in the gendarmerie, the existence of which is denied by officials; the controversial ultranationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz, who filed countless suits against Turkish writers and intellectuals who were at odds with Turkey's official policies; Fikret Karadag, a retired army colonel; Sevgi Erenerol, the press spokesperson for a shady church group called the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate; and Sami Hostan, a key figure in an investigation launched after a car accident in 1996 near the small town of Susurluk that uncovered links between a police chief, a convicted fugitive who was an ultranationalist and a deputy. Ali Yasak, a well-known gangster linked to the figures in the Susurluk incident, was also detained in the operation.

A total of 29 people are currently under arrest as part of the Ergenekon investigation. The prosecution accuses the Ergenekon organization of "attempting to take over the state, disrupting public order and weakening the authority of the state."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would not let any of the country's institutions be slandered, referring to recent controversy about the military sparked by the Ergenekon organization, although he did not specifically identify the situation.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit, in a statement earlier this week, strongly criticized what he called efforts to associate the acts of "illegal organizations" with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), saying that the TSK is not a crime organization. Some arrested in the operation against the Ergenekon network include retired army officers. The investigation has also found that the group was working to lay the groundwork for a coup to be staged by the military in 2009.

In his Address to the Nation speech on Thursday, Erdogan said: "'We will not in any way stand for the besmirching of our institutions. In this struggle, all our agencies, the judiciary, the police, the military, the media and civil society are doing their best. I am pleased to see that trust in our institutions has been increasing. There are some who are uneasy as we are more and more peaceful. They know that they get weaker as long as our bonds of brotherhood are growing stronger."

Turkey against the gangs

Operation Globe in 2005 was the start of Turkey's investigation into gangs, whose reach was found to extend to the state bureaucracy and foreign secret services. These gangs, which carry out attacks to defend the old system in which a staunchly secularist elite does not share power with any other group, are collectively known as the "deep state". Almost every crime gang that has former or current army or security service members seems to be linked to each other, evidence from the recent investigations shows.

The "Sauna Gang" was exposed in February 2006. Its members included a former police chief and an army captain. The gang used photographs showing politicians in inappropriate positions, mostly in saunas, but as the investigation deepened, evidence indicated that its involvement went deeper than merely extorting money, and its links with the rest of the shady neo-nationalist groups became apparent. In May 2006 a senior judge was killed in an attack against the Council of State, one of Turkey's three higher courts. The hit man was a neo-nationalist lawyer, Alparslan Arslan, but the links he had to other individuals could not be thoroughly investigated at the time.

Meanwhile, an investigation into hand grenades thrown at the Cumhuriyet newspaper office also in May 2006 found that the hand grenades were obtained from the Turkish military. Retired Cap. Muzaffer Tekin, who was taken into custody as part of the Council of State attack, was released by a court at the time. In the same month, 13 people, including three army officers, were arrested, when a house full of guns and munitions was discovered in the capital. A similar arms depot was discovered in June 2007 in Istanbul, also bearing explosives and hand grenades. The grenades found in the house had the same serial numbers as those used in the Cumhuriyet bombing.
The Ergenekon investigation

More and more interesting details about the Ergenekon and some of its members have surfaced as the investigation into the group continues. Many of the future plans of the group -- which is already suspected of the murder of three Christians in 2007, the murder of a priest in the northern city of Trabzon, the murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, the 2006 shooting attack against the Council of State and grenades thrown at the Cumhuriyet newspaper -- were revealed. Ergenekon had plotted to kill Turkey's Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk and had already hired two triggermen. It also had plans to assassinate some Kurdish politicians and even the neo-nationalist lawyer Kerinçsiz, a member of the gang publicly known for filing criminal complaints against writers and intellectuals he found to be unpatriotic. Killing Kerinçsiz would create chaos, which they hoped would lay the groundwork for an uneasy environment in the country that would justify a military coup against the government in 2009.
01.02.2008


Gladio, Turkish Counter-Guerilla And Ergenekon, A Devilish Trio
In August 1990 Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti openly admitted for the first time what had long been denied: the existence of a secret army inside the Italian Secret Service (SIFAR) codenamed “Gladio,” Latin for “double-edged sword.”

Moreover, Andreotti also claimed that a network of secret, unofficial armies controlled by NATO and the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been set up all across Europe. The British secret service, MI6, as Andreotti revealed, was also involved.

Up until today, a full investigation into these secret NATO armies, some of which also seem to have been linked to terrorism and crime, has not been carried out -- and Swiss historian and security expert Daniele Ganser says this is neglect with serious consequences. “Ergenekon could be an outcome of the old Turkish Counter-Guerilla,” he says. In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, he explains the structure of these secret armies, what the “tension strategy” was during the Cold War and what it could be today.

“What we can definitely prove nowadays is the existence of these secret armies. And we have a good amount of knowledge on how they were structured,” Ganser says.

Facing an increase in the popularity and strength of communist and socialist parties in some countries, like Italy and France, worries emerged in Washington and London that these countries’ inner security could no longer be ensured. Secret, unofficial armies were then set up, Ganser says and adds: “NATO was simply afraid of being weakened from within.”

Secret armies all across Europe

The network of secret armies, he says, spread across Western Europe in its entirety, including Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Greece -- and Turkey.

According to Ganser, in the event of a Soviet invasion, these secret, anti-communist soldiers would have operated behind enemy lines, strengthening and setting up local resistance movements in enemy-held territory, evacuating shot-down pilots and sabotaging occupying forces’ supply lines and production centers.

The strategic planning came from London and Washington. NATO assumed the general coordination of all such behind-the-scenes organizations on an international level under the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) and the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), linked to NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), which is always commanded by an American general, Ganser asserts, adding, “It is absolutely obvious that there were these meetings, even if NATO refuses to comment on Gladio today.”

The secret armies were trained by British and US special forces. To ensure their anti-communist commitment, some members of the secret armies were recruited from the extreme-right margins of society. In Germany, former Nazis were active in the unofficial armies. The codenames for the armies varied from country to country; “Absalon” in Denmark, “Gladio” in Italy, “P26” in Switzerland, “ROC” in Norway and “SDRA8” in Belgium.

Gladio-like structures in Turkey

In Turkey a secret army was set up and codenamed “Counter-Guerrilla.” “Today we definitely know about its existence,” says Ganser.

Gen. Kemal Yilmaz, the chief of the special forces in Turkey at the time, officially confirmed on Dec. 3, 1990 the existence of Counter-Guerilla. He explained that the “stay-behind” army was under the command of the Turkish Special Forces and had the task “to organize resistance in the event of a communist occupation.”

“But though we know a lot of things, many of this secret army’s activities and involvements remain in darkness,” Ganser says. How strongly NATO and US intelligence backed and supported the use of terror in the countries in order to discredit the political left during the Cold War remains a subject of ongoing research. “Nonetheless, it is certain that at least some massacres ... [and] military actions had been organized, promoted or supported by men inside state institutions,” Ganser states.

An “important source of evidence” supporting the theory that Counter-Guerrilla also engaged in torture, he points out, comes from Talat Turhan, a former Turkish general who said he had been tortured in a villa in Istanbul’s Erenköy district by a team led by retired officer Eyüp Ozalkus, chief of the National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) interrogation team for the combat of communism. “They blindfolded me and bound my arms and feet. Then they told me that I was ‘in the hands of the Counter-Guerrilla unit operating under the high command of the army outside the Constitution and the law.’ They told me that they ‘considered me their prisoner of war’ and that I was ‘sentenced to death’,” Turhan later revealed.

However when Bülent Ecevit, after the Italian revelations of 1990, implied to the press that Counter-Guerrilla units might have been involved in domestic terror and announced he suspected Counter-Guerrilla involvement in the Taksim Square massacre in Istanbul in 1977 -- where half a million citizens had been fired upon by snipers during a protest rally on May 1, leaving 38 dead and hundreds injured -- acting Turkish Defense Minister Safa Giray snapped, “Ecevit had better keep his ... mouth shut!”

Terrorist attacks were backed by state authorities

“Terror is an unbelievably strong means to manipulate and frighten the population,” Ganser underlines. “The real victims of a terrorist attack are not those left dead -- the real victims are those people who are affected by becoming afraid. The public [will then] ... turn to the state to ask for greater security.” Several Italian sources have confirmed this, among them Vincenzo Vinciguerra, a convicted right-wing terrorist who himself took part in this so-called “tension strategy” in which terror was manipulated to influence the political climate. “This is the political logic that lies behind all the massacres and the bombings which remain unpunished because the state cannot convict itself or declare itself responsible for what happened,” Vinciguerra says.

It can be the state itself or a private group of people who try to force the government to act according to their will, to legitimize a war, for example, Ganser explains, adding that he “could well imagine” that Ergenekon is a kind of successor organization of the Turkish Counter-Guerilla of those days. “We know that these groups recruited heavily among the Turkish Grey Wolves [a youth group linked to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)],” he states. “As long as this original phenomenon is not fully examined, its subsequent structures will remain [a mystery], too.”

He also says he would “not be surprised” if some of the attacks allegedly perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are later revealed to have been the work of some clandestine Turkish organizations to legitimize Turkish military intervention. “Terror is a very powerful weapon for constructing enemies,” Ganser emphasizes.

However, he says, these are assumptions that need further investigation and what is really missing to that end is a parliamentary fact-finding commission. “Neither journalists nor scientists can do this work properly; what is really needed is the state’s engagement in the investigations. It is the legislature that must investigate the executive, it’s the job of the parliamentarians to shed light on this,” he concludes, saying that examining these kinds of secret armies is therefore the natural first step in approaching the problem of the “deep state.”
Who is Daniele Ganser?

Swiss historian Daniele Ganser currently teaches in Basel University’s history department and in previous years researched foreign and security policy at the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s (ETH) Center for Security Studies and Military Academy. His important book “NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and terrorism in Western Europe” was recently translated into Turkish. www.danieleganser.ch
01.02.2008 Kristina Kamp Istanbul


Senior Fellow Sees No Us Policy Change Over Alleged Genocide
February 1, 2008 ANKARA - Turkish Daily News

A victory for the Democrats in the U.S. presidential elections will not lead to a shift in the American policy of not recognizing the genocide claims of Armenians, according to an expert on U.S. foreign policy.

“The (U.S.) Congress understood that it was not a good idea to go in this direction,” Walter Russell Mead, a Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, told a group of reporters in Ankara, alluding to the alleged genocide resolution that was adopted by a U.S. Committee but not taken to the House floor.

He underlined that presidential candidates were making such commitments in order to win support from different groups during their election campaigns and expressed belief that a Democrat president would not opt for a change in U.S. policy with regard to the Armenian question despite election-time pledges. With backing from more than half the U.S. House this summer, proponents of the genocide resolution pushed for its Congressional recognition, a move that came after the adoption of the highly contentious bill by a U.S. Committee to the dismay of Turkey. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been a longtime backer of the resolution, she has so far refrained from bringing it to a floor vote in the House following intense pressure from Turkey and the Bush administration.

Elaborating on American foreign policy, the senior fellow said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which were more than a spectacular event, provoked a conflict between civilizations and placed Washington under grave strain. However, he added there were no new wars or crises during the second term of U.S. President George W. Bush who appointed Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state for the new term.

On Turkey, he said Washington exerted serious efforts to address concerns and highlighted that relations turned a corner, predicting they would be even better.

“Turkey is one of the few countries whose priority in the eyes of the United States does not change,” he added.

In comments on the headscarf controversy – one of the most emotionally charged issues in Turkey, the senior fellow said it was difficult for Washington to understand the headscarf debates in Turkey since the perception of secularism was slightly different in the two countries. He said Turkish secularism was inspired by the French Revolution, while America, home to many religions, was neutral between those many religions.


Turkey Had To Send 100,000 Troops To Iraq Border To Get Us Attention-Party Chief
AA Jan 31 2008 Turkey

WASHINGTON, D.C. (A.A) -Suat Kiniklioglu, a deputy of the Justice and Development (AK) Party, said Wednesday that "if the Armenian resolution had been adopted in the US Congress and Turkey had entered Iraq to eradicate terrorist PKK organization, there would have been immense damage to strategic relations between Turkey and the United States."

Speaking on Turkish-American relations at the Rumi Forum in Washington, D.C., Kiniklioglu stressed that "Turkey had to send 100,000 troops to the Iraqi border in order to get the attention of US"

"Intelligence sharing by the US contributed to bilateral relations after the visit paid by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Washington, D.C. on November 5th, 2007," Kiniklioglu remarked.

"Rational decisions made by the US and results gained after the intelligence sharing contributed to positive feelings of Turks towards the United States. The anti-American sentiments in Turkey were not caused by the culture of the US but by its policies," Kiniklioglu said.

Asked about the end of a ban prohibiting girls from wearing headscarves in Turkish universities, Kiniklioglu emphasized that "the issue of headscarf is a personal one and a right of girls."


Armenians Should Act Like Americans Lragir Jan 30 2008 Armenia
The Russian politicians and political scientists, unlike NATO and the West, do not even try to appear neutral in the Armenian presidential election, and they even hold round-table meetings in Moscow where they utter the name of the candidate which they think will win the election, considering Serge Sargsyan as such, pay official visits in the pre-election period, which are instrumentalized in the election campaign. On January 30 the reporters asked the presidential candidate Vahan Hovanisyan whether this is not an interference with the internal affairs of Armenia, who spelled out his vision of the foreign policy of Armenia at the NATO Information Office in Yerevan.

"I think the Russian government agencies, at least the top ones, publicly avoid interference. There are elements of interference in some speeches of political scientists. We suppose that one political scientist or another is related to one political circle in Russia or another. In this respect, it is rather unpleasant when a Russian political scientist states directly that the victory of this or that candidate is in the interests of Russia, and they will try their best to foster his victory. This is clear interference, and unacceptable because it will enable another country from another continent to endorse another candidate and say they will do their best to help him win. The question occurs what "trying their best" means," Vahan Hovanisyan says.

According to him, Armenia should not become an arena where the interests of great powers clash. He admits that there are external interests but he gives the example of the U.S. presidential election in 2004. Vahan Hovanisyan says Bush stood a small chance to win. "But he succeeded. Because the world media started criticizing him. The European media, the Russian media, the media of the Far East and the Near East, everyone wanted Bush to lose the election. But the Americans love freedom, and when they saw that others are trying to influence them, and influence their choice, they opposed and elected George Bush," Vahan Hovanisyan says. According to him, this is the right approach, and the Armenian people should act similarly.

"Outside efforts cannot guide us. I think our people should realize this. And it is dangerous. In reality we know what a favor the foreign sources do when they start praising a candidate. I think this track does not lead Armenia toward development," Vahan Hovanisyan says.


Bandit State Is A Mild Description Lragir Feb 1 2008 Armenia
The head of Levon Ter-Petrosyan's election headquarters Alexander Arzumanyan stated in a news conference on February 1 the bandit state is a mild description for the ruling elite, judging by the conduct of the election campaign.

Alexander Arzumanyan summed up the first ten days of the election campaign and said the election is rigged because there are obvious illegalities. In particular, Alexander Arzumanyan says Prime Minister Serge Sargsyan had instructed to set up a working commission in December which is formally part of government but in reality works for the political plans of Serge Sargsyan, receiving requests from citizens to solve their material and financial problems and meeting most of them. Alexander Arzumanyan presented several examples such requests and said they count thousands.

Besides, he presented lists of personal information about voters and persons in charge of them. In other words, people who are responsible for the voting of the people included in the lists. Alexander Arzumanyan presented a number of such lists which were taken from Serge Sargsyan's election office.

It allows Alexander Arzumanyan to state that the election has already been rigged. Levon Ter-Petrosyan's election office is likely to report this information to the international observers. They are not going to appeal to the Constitutional Court. Alexander Arzumanyan assured that despite illegalities they will protect the votes of the society and will win in the first round. Alexander Arzumanyan says the guarantee is the popular movement which has emerged around Levon Ter-Petrosyan and is gathering momentum. According to him, a dictatorship can be overthrown through a powerful popular movement only. The fact that immense percentage is ascribed to Serge Sargsyan and hardly 4 to 5 percent to Levon Ter-Petrosyan is typical of a dictatorship, where the society is intimidated and does not tell their real opinion to pollsters. Alexander Arzumanyan gave the example of Iraq, saying that before the overthrow of Saddam's regime his rating might have been 100 percent but later the real attitude of people toward him became known.

In answer to the question about their team's attitude toward the movements led by other opposition candidates, such as Arthur Baghdasaryan who announces about a civil movement which supports him, Alexander Arzumanyan says they have a normal attitude toward any other movement and they intend to defeat the bandit regime through this pan-national movement, as well as through the groups of this systems in the election commissions and also through the laws of the bandit system like they had defeated the Soviet dictatorship.


Mafia Game In The Armenian Way Naira Hayrumyan Lragir Feb 1 2008 Armenia
The presidential race in Armenia increasingly resembles the game Mafia which has been popular among the political and scholarly elite and youth since the Soviet years.

Like in the popular game, too many candidates are running in the race to make counting others' cards difficult. And like in the game, there are "honest citizens", "investigators" and "Mafiosi". However, as long as the game is not over, nobody can tell who was honest and who pretended to be. In fact, in the Armenian election the "viewers" will hardly understand who is who even after the voting.

Those who have ever played mafia know the purpose of the game is to make everyone believe that you are an honest citizen and you must fight mafia. In addition, you can do it in any way - lying, bluffing, arousing sympathy, letting down friends and destroying others.

Eventually the "honest citizens" try to destroy mafia, whereas the "Mafiosi" try to protect themselves and reproduce. In addition, all the actions take place with eyes closed, and without any idea of who the opponent is.

An honest citizen does not know who is honest and who is bluffing.

However, they must pretend that they are looking through everyone and planning every step. Everyone wears a clever face and tells lies, knowing that the others realize everything.

The reality in Armenia is similar to the "last night" of the game when the decision is made on whom to "kill" the last. It should be noted that the candidates are playing in accordance with the rules -"till the last".

The supporters of one candidate are beaten, the office of another is attacked, the third's supporters are checked by the tax service, the fourth candidate presents a selection of lyrical poems and complains of the other candidates who are speaking "clever words". The representative of the parliament majority is criticizing the acting prime minister who did not take a vacation during his election campaign.

Most interestingly, unlike "Mafiosi", the "outsiders" do not leave the "game". For instance, the leaving president states that "after the election we will not harm the supporters of the All-Armenian Movement." One more difference: whoever you are in the game, an honest citizen or a Mafiosi, if you lose, you admit your defeat.

Meanwhile, in the Armenian elections they stake their all as if it is a matter of life and death.

Although, in other countries too, elections resemble a game. The only difference is that after the "night", in accordance with the legislation, the candidates hold public debates. In Armenia, everyone agrees to debates but no debates are ever held. One more thing: in other countries the resignation of a prime minister like in Italy is not perceived as a mortal insult. It is just politics.

Usually 9 to 11 people play the game. The others watch. Without interfering and snickering. Here is another resemblance between the Armenian elections and the game: for the first time the voters are embarrassed and do not know what to do. And there is not a line "against everyone" in the ballot.



Freedom Of Speech Is Limited In Armenia Lragir Feb 1 2008 Armenia
The Human Rights Watch report for 2008 states that in Armenia the reporters continue to encounter threats in their activities.

Among cases of violence the assault on Hovanes Galajyan, editor of the Iskakan Iravunk Newspaper, is mentioned. The report also mentions the arson of the cars of the owner of the Im Iravunk Newspaper and the founder of panorama.am Ara Saghatelyan, and the founder of the Football Plus Newspaper Suren Baghdasaryan.

The Human Right Watch report mentions the imprisonment of the editor of the Yerevan Newspaper Arman Babajanyan, considering the sentence as too severe.

The report also points to the closure of Gala TV, an independent channel of Gyumri, for avoiding taxes.


Experts Discuss Why Turks Unable To Eliminate Gangs?
Despite numerous attempts to deal with the criminal enterprises created within the state since the 1990s, a number of events still remain a mystery due to the failure of the commissions established to resolve the cases related to these gangs.

Retired Gen. Veli Küçük (wearing a cap) was among the suspects accused of being a part of a gang that has links to renegade groups hidden within the state hierarchy.

Chairmen of the extrajudicial murders investigation commission, the Susurluk commission, the Ugur Mumcu murder investigation commission and the Semdinli commission underline that they now better understand why they were unable to resolve the cases after the recent arrests in relation to the Ergenekon gang. Speaking to Sunday's Zaman, the chairmen of the special commissions talk about the reasons why they failed to obtain satisfactory results. Susurluk commission Chairman Mehmet Elkatmis holds that the struggle against the gangs was circumvented by the criminal enterprises inside the state by relying on the notion of state secrecy and confidentiality of the official documents.

Semdinli commission Chairman Musa Sivacioglu says the concept of state secrets was the major reason for their failure to effectively deal with the Semdinli case. Ugur Mumcu murder investigation commission Chairman Ersönmez Yarbay says the commission fell short of fulfilling its mandate mainly because of the reluctance of the Parliament speakers to do their jobs. Chair of the commission on extrajudicial murders investigation Sadik Avundukluoglu asserts that foreign actors play the greatest role in the failure of the commissions to address the issues concerning the illegal enterprises within the state.

Avundukluoglu: Foreign actors involved in the issue

In the 1990s when extrajudicial killings were prevalent in Turkey, an investigative commission was set up in Parliament to deal with the issue. While the operation period of the investigative commissions was limited to months under Parliament bylaws, the said commission has carried out its work for two years relying on special methods; its work resulted in a comprehensive report which offered great opportunity to crack down on the gangs. However, the report was simply ignored. The chair of the commission explains the reason why it was ignored:

“The report was not even referred to the general assembly of Parliament. Somebody did not want it in Parliament for review and discussion. There was a secret power that prevented its consideration and preparation. To better understand this power, it is necessary to know Turkey’s recent history. There was anarchy in Turkey before 1980; we named it terror after that year. We failed to define anarchy or terror because Turks see it daily. Those who rule a country that has struggled with anarchy and terror for four decades are unable to make a distinction between these two concepts.”

“Some security forces were set up based on the technological facilities of the time and the structure left from Ottoman times. That structure was not sufficient to resolve this sort of problem. Most importantly, there are foreign actors behind these plots. The plans and plots of the foreign actors for this country never end. They revise their plans and create new ones constantly. People do not kill each other in Turkey for no reason. Somebody prepares a scenario to ensure that people kill each other. We only watch this game as bystanders.”

Yarbay: Special units inside the state are not shut down

An investigative commission was set up in Parliament after the murder of Cumhuriyet daily writer Mumcu. A hit man was apprehended after confessing. However, the origin of the bomb placed underneath his car was never explained. Recently, allegations were made that the intelligence agency is responsible for his murder after the investigation into Ergenekon gang. The chair of that commission, Yarbay, explains why the commission failed to shed light on the case:

“The investigative commissions have two months to resolve the case. What can you possibly do in such a short time? Yet, you may find something. But the assignment expires in two months and the result is referred to the Parliament speakers. They do not even read the reports; they also do not consider them at the general assembly. They do not look at the crime reports. First, they are lazy; second, they do not pay attention to the reports; third, they do not want any trouble. For these reasons, the commission reports do not receive any attention. We filed 10 crime reports, but none of them was even considered. Nobody listened to us when our assignment expired. We file crime reports with the prosecutors; the prosecutors are unable to obtain information from the Parliament speakers.”

“There is no reliable flow of information in relation to the persons specifically assigned within the state. The prime minister, the chief of general staff and the president should follow the transfer of the duties of the persons close to them. They have to know who is assigned to a special duty. But none of them have any idea about this sort of information. The unit assigned to deal with ASALA in 1982 is still in operation and nobody is aware of this; you decide the gravity of the situation. The specially assigned persons should be removed from their duties when a new administration takes over. If not, their duties should be transferred in the presence of authorities from the new government. Particular information on the specially assigned persons should be recorded. JITEM is such a case. There are some missing guns. There are a number of entities within the state acting on behalf of the state. However, they lack a legal basis.”

‘Explosives resolve Mumcu murder’

Yarbay asserts that these entities are responsible for a number of unresolved cases in Turkey, giving the following warning:

“The chiefs of general staff had control of these structures in the military coups of May 27, March 12 and Sept. 12. However, starting in the 1990s, these entities started directing the upper units. The work of the West Working Group (BÇG) and JITEM are no secret. For this reason, the state is the only responsible entity behind the extrajudicial killings in Turkey. The public sees it that way. If effective action were taken against these structures, the state would not have been accused so harshly. These murders would not have been committed if the state had information on these secret units. There is something happening so that we cannot control the young military officers. This is horrible. If the commander is unable to control his subordinates, this means that the country is finished.”

“The Mumcu murder was resolved, at least the hit men were found. One of them confessed that he monitored the surroundings during the placing of the bomb. We have to trust this information unless the opposite is proven. But we have no idea as to whether that person did it alone; who is behind this incident, really? This should be investigated. What was the origin of the explosives? Obviously, the material was not something you could find in the market. If the origin of the explosives is pursued, the real actor behind the incident will be found. The same person said they were responsible for all bombing events between 1984 and 2000. What are we doing? Nobody investigates this.”

Elkatmis: State hides the gang

The chairman of the Susurluk commission set up to investigate the incident that occurred when a truck collided with a car carrying deputy Sedat Bucak, security officer Hüseyin Kocadag and Abdullah Çatli, who was assigned to fight ASALA, holds that somebody took measures to ensure that the case remains unsolved.

He notes that retired Gen. Veli Küçük, currently under arrest in relation to the Ergenekon case, and the police chief at the time, Mehmet Agar, did not make any statement before the commission despite repetitive calls.

“We wanted Susurluk to be a milestone, but it was not. This issue will not be resolved. What happened to those who fight against the gang is obvious. The prosecutors have broad authority but we all know what happened to the prosecutors who used their authorities to the fullest. We all know what happened to the Semdinli prosecutor. The result would not have been different even if that person had authority because those who rule the country have no intention to resolve this issue. If Veli Küçük’s statements were taken in the Susurluk case and he faced some sort of sanction, maybe there would be no need for the current Ergenekon investigation. We all know what happened to former intelligence chairmen at the police department, Sabri Uzun, Hanifi Avci and Bülent Orakoglu [they were forced to resign or given positions in remote areas]. The report of the Semdinli commission was not even printed and distributed because we know that some important names are behind this case. Otherwise, the prosecutors would shed light on these cases overnight. Somebody wants this country to be filled with gangs. We were close to a solution in Susurluk, but all of a sudden we faced a thick wall of state secrets. This means that the state did not want a solution. Ergenekon is not something new. This is a gang that has existed since Susurluk.”

Günes: No problem will be resolved without common action

Hasan Fehmi Günes, who was interior minister when journalist Abdi Ipekçi was murdered, contributed to the apprehending of Mehmet Ali Agca, a suspect in the murder. However, he asserted that Agca was deliberately released from prison. Günes holds that common action is needed for effective combat against the gangs:

“I believe that this sort of enterprise is effectively dealt with if all of the state institutions act together. What is missing is the lack of a common will and determination to address this issue. It is not possible to resolve this issue through efforts by a few police officers alone. The high expectations from these people are unfair. The state should express its determination just like the Italian government’s clean hands action. As long as these entities inside the state remain effective, we will not attain our goal of a state governed by the rule of law. The biggest obstacle before that goal is the irresolution of the problem in relation to these gangs. Their roles inside the state should be questioned and proper groundwork should be laid to prevent their reappearance in the state.”

Sivacioglu: State secrets are the biggest obstacle

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal paid a visit to Semdinli following the detonation of a bomb placed at the Umut Bookshop, allegedly owned by a pro-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) individual. Both underlined that they would do their best to illuminate the case. A commission was set up in Parliament to deal with the issue. The Semdinli commission prepared a report two months after its assignment in which it made reference to Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit. However, the report was not even printed for distribution by the Parliament. The chair of that commission, Sivacioglu, explains why:

“The studies commissions carry out are technical work alone. This sort of commission invites the relevant people; some accept the invitation and some do not. Those who refuse to give statements will face no sanction because the commission has no such authority. Following the completion of the investigation, the commission seeks to review some documents and information; in this case, they have to face two notions, state secrets and commercial secrets. When you ask for information, you hear the response, “This is state secret.” The parliamentary bylaws should be amended to allow the study commissions to have access to information. Moreover, their term of assignment should be extended. What can you possibly resolve in two months? More importantly, the notions of state secrets and commercial secrets should be redefined. Removal of state secrets from the relevant laws will facilitate resolution of this kind of incident.”

Susurluk commission member Fikri Saglar agrees with Sivacioglu:

“We need a law that will determine the boundaries of the state secret, its establishment and removal. One bureaucrat acts as he wishes, despite the fact he is assigned by the elected persons. You are denied access to the documents designed by the bureaucrats to be secrets. The notion of state secrets should be abolished. The judicial process in relation to this sort of issue should be accelerated and the parliamentary bylaws should be amended to recognize the authority of the commissions. Third, public awareness should be raised. If 15 gangs and 40,000 members are apprehended in 10 years, there is a huge faction we are talking about. People should be taught that organized crime enterprises are a reflection of social exclusion.”
03.02.2008 Ercan Yavuz Ankara


Fikri Saglar: It’s Us Or The Gangs
Fikri Saglar, a former deputy who devoted most of his political life to the struggle against gangs -- or, in other words, counter-guerilla organizations within the state -- thinks that Turkey has come to a critical point: Either it will safeguard the rule of law or the gangs will become more brutal.

Saglar was a member of the parliamentary commission that was established in 1997 to investigate the Susurluk gang. After a car incident in Susurluk in 1996 links were uncovered between a member of parliament, a police chief and an ultranationalist convicted fugitive. These relations were understood as being tied to a Gladio, a NATO "stay-behind" organization. Saglar opposed the parliamentary commission's report, claiming that the investigation was not done properly. He is also co-author of the book "Susur-luk, the Deep Relations."

Some of the names in the Susurluk investigation recently came to the agenda once again when police launched an operation against the Ergenekon gang. The gang was allegedly working to create a suitable atmosphere for a military coup and to incite a Kurdish-Turkish civil war. There are also claims that the gang was involved in the murder of journalist Hrant Dink, the Council of State attack and the brutal killings of missionaries in Malatya. Saglar explains the resemblances between Susurluk and Ergenekon and questions whether Turkey will be able to get rid of such gangs in an interview with Sunday's Zaman.

During the Susurluk scandal the society was reactionary; there were demonstrations and strong demands for uncovering the truth. But we do not see this now, after the discovery of the Ergenekon gang. Why is that so?

There were three phases in the Susurluk issue. The first one was the peak of support of the public, until Feb. 28 [the date of the "post-modern coup" in which the Islamic Welfare Party (RP) was pressured out of power by the military]. After that the movement of society stopped. The judiciary started and later it left [the case] to freeze. The people who demanded that light by shed on the Susurluk case voted for the [Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the [Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)] in the 1999 elections. The explanation for this was the capture of [Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan]. But, on the other hand, this meant that a portion of those people who demanded the shedding of light on the Susurluk case voted for a party even though there was a consensus that it involved with Susurluk. After 10 years I am still asking myself why. But it is a fact that those counter-guerilla -style organizations have the power to direct society with social engineering.

So you think that there is a relation between Susurluk and Feb. 28?

The Susurluk case was used as a reason to topple the government at that time [a coalition between the RP and True Path Party (DYP)]. The government underestimated the Susurluk case. Also, it was obvious that the government at that time had some problems with some of the establishments of the state. It was not possible to hold this discussion openly because there was a government that came to power by democratic means. This is why a new method -- the so-called post-modern coup -- was tried. But before this the society was well prepared by social engineering. Organizations like Ergenekon have methods for directing society and leading it to an uproar. Most of the people who participated sincerely in the actions for shedding light on the Susurluk case took a position of defending democracy and the rule of law. But this position was used in a different way, and it become clear after Feb. 28.

Is the aim of the gangs to open the way for coups?

You can see it when you look at the structure and facilities of the counter-guerilla [organizations]. You can see that they are masters of directing society into uproar. They have one aim: to resist occupation in a country that is under occupation and get the support of the people for this resistance. But if there is no occupation, it is possible to create a virtual occupation. This is not just my idea; there are documents and proof for it. The high-ranking officials behind the Sept. 12, 1980 coup said, "We decided to intervene, but we waited for the situation to become suitable." When did it become suitable? You could point to many dates. For me it is the bomb attack to the Malatya mayor's house in 1978. Until that time those protests were seen as innocent students' actions. After the bombing, protests turned into actions that led to tension. The same type of bomb was used for the assassination of journalist Ugur Mumcu. When you look at the events before Sept. 12, the events were coming one after one and people were waiting for a savior, and that day the savior was Kenan Evren. The perpetrators of these events were also involved with the Susurluk gang.

Was the aim of the Ergenekon to lead a coup?

I have some doubts that they were planning a coup for 2009 because it is not clear when the situation would have been suitable for a coup. Furthermore, the government is also serving the interest of these elements by heeding the basic principles of the republic and abetting the establishments of the state. While the government is saying that they will abolish the headscarf ban at universities, the rank and the file of the party are saying that they are aiming to bring the headscarf to the public sector, too.

However, if Turkey is not becoming a state that obeys the principles of universal law, it can face actions outside of the law at any time. Today in Turkey no one's life is secure. Some people are able to sit and order the murder of Turkish citizens in the name of the high interests of the state. Their decisions are executed, too. Most of the people who were killed would not have had any idea why they were killed, and they can be anyone, a low-ranking civil servant, an ordinary citizen, a journalist, you name it.

Instead of opposing these gangs, some people seem to be supporting them. Why is that so?

During the dirty war in southeastern Anatolia, serious chauvinist nationalism developed. The young men returning to their homes as martyrs, the people dying every day, led to a reaction in the society. Turkish nationalism is developing simultaneously with Kurdish nationalism. Sunni-Alevi tensions are also subject to provocation, although this is not at the surface so much. This climate, with the help of the lack of the rule of law, prepares the groundwork for these kinds of organizations to find young people to use with tendencies toward violence. In the last 10 years the police carried out 3,012 gang operations, the gendarmerie carried out 771. The number of detainees is around 40,000 and the arrests are at 15,000. This only shows that forming a gang is a real business.

What is the main difference between Ergenekon and Susurluk?

The most important one is that the Ergenekon file contains JITEM. We don't know it yet, but if the press reports are true, if Veli Küçük really said that he is the founder of JITEM and this is why he has a habit of archiving everything, this means a lot. Until now the existence of JITEM and all the actions attributed to it were rejected by the military. This may become clear during the judicial process, and many events of the past may see daylight.

Küçük did not show up at the Susurluk commission, did he?

He was not called. The story goes like this: It was on the agenda to call former Foreign Minister Tansu Çiller, her husband, Özer Çiller, and Veli Küçük -- in addition to some other names. Çiller said that if she was called to the commission she would withdraw from the coalition [government]. There were five members from the coalition and four from the opposition on the commission, and this is why the commission gave up on calling those names. There are only two names who were called to the commission to speak but who did not show up: Teoman Koman [former National Intelligence Organization (MIT) undersecretary and commander of the Gendarmerie] and Necdet Ürug [former chief of staff].

How did you feel when Küçük was arrested?

For me, the report from Kutlu Savas is very important for the Susurluk case. It is an official report of the state. He had been given full authority by the prime minister at the time, Mesut Yilmaz. This report mentions that Küçük had many conversations with Sami Hostan and Drej Ali [well-known gangsters involved with Susurluk]. The last person that Abdullah Çatli [the ultranationalist fugitive who died in the Susurluk accident] spoke with before his death was Küçük. In this report there are documents showing that Küçük had knowledge about the unsolved murders in the triangle of Kocaeli, Düzce and Sakarya [cities under the control of Küçük as head of the gendarmerie in the area, in which there were many mysterious deaths of Kurdish businessmen suspected of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK]. While there was an expectation that there would be a judgment, a commission of three generals held an investigation and concluded that there was no criminal involvement and that these actions of Küçük were aimed at intelligence. Küçük kept his position and was protected with a shield. Later, in events like the bombing of the Cumhuriyet newspaper and the Dink murder, Küçük's name -- and picture -- came up. So I am hopeful and I consider the Küçük arrest as a positive step in removing this cancer from Turkey so it can become a state of law. If the political will, the will of the society, supports this process, Turkey can remove this counter-guerilla structure within itself, maybe. At least it can gain the respect of its own citizens.

Who is number one in this gang?

I don't know who, but someone above the prime minister, the president and the chief of general staff. It is a very well-known fact that these organizations can act fearlessly. These are the ones who are claiming that there is no one else to protect the high interests of society and who see themselves with absolute authority.

Have there been any structural changes? The last gang had civil society elements, journalists and so on.

I don't think so. Anyone can be in it. Perhaps not the structure but the method has changed. When you look at the events, the perpetrators are arrested and they are underage children. When the case is solved, the society loses interest in them. But if they remained unsolved murders, society would ask questions. When you look at the events, you will notice that the perpetrators are doing their best to be caught. Seems that they don't want society's involvement with it.

What is needed to solve these cases? Courage?

The reason that we have many documents now is the clashes within the establishments and between themselves. Secondly, brave judges, public prosecutors and media. The persons who are dealing with this structure -- despite the obstacles -- continue to the do their best. I think we have come to a critical point. Turkey wants to get rid of this cancer. The Turkish people have an idea what of is going on -- although, perhaps not all of them. There are still some people who think that these kinds of things are lies from people who do not love their state. It is just the opposite: The people who are trying to illuminate these events are the ones who love their state. The rotten part should be cleared away to prevent it from spreading. A rotten state is destined to disappear or become suitable for use by others. People are acting in a way that I cannot understand. The people who did not give information 10 year ago, the ones who protected people at that time, are they not ashamed now?

Do you think that a special law is needed?

There is a need of a law that defines state secrets. A bureaucrat can do whatever he likes. If a file is classified as secret, even the courts or elected officials cannot do anything. The state secret concept has to be reorganized. Also, special courts must be established to speed up the judicial process. There should be amendments to the Constitution by Parliament. Thirdly, in the long run the awareness of the people should be increased through the education system against organized crime.

Where is the financial support for these gangs?

Turkey is a place for money laundering. The underground economy is as big as the national economy. The underground economy consists of the smuggling of weapons, nuclear material and drugs. A couple of years ago 36 percent of the drugs intercepted in the world and 65 percent in Europe were seized in Turkey. These numbers only show how big drug smuggling is in Turkey. There are many ways to launder money -- very expensive houses, off-shore banking and so on. The gangs make money from that kind of business.

There have always been politicians involved in these gangs. What is your guess for Ergenekon?

The underground economy also works according to basic rules of the economy. The gain is as big as the risk. The best way to earn more but reduce the risk is to work with a politician or a bureaucrat. The mafia is organized crime with political power. In Susurluk they were caught in the process of becoming the mafia. So far in Ergenekon there has been no political involvement found, but I think it will be clear very soon. In Turkey, you cannot buy anyone easily, but you can rent.

What are the possible links with other countries?

According to the UN, the underground economy 10 years ago was around $13 trillion, and a tenth of it came from drug smuggling. The most important input for the drugs comes from Afghanistan. Asian countries are the producers and the Western ones are the consumers. Turkey was the only country that imposed capital punishment for drug smuggling before Sept. 12. After Sept. 12 this attitude -- I mean severe punishments for drug smuggling -- was weakened. Drug smuggling is an important factor in terrorism, too. There were some involvements of these gangs in coup efforts in Azerbaijan and there was support for Gen. Rashid Dostum in Afghanistan. At first glance, these kinds of things look like they have political reasons, but the main reason is efforts for securing drug smuggling routes.

How far will the efforts for shedding light on these gangs go? Are you hopeful?

Turkey is undergoing a process of transformation. If the concept of the rule of law gains strong ground, everything could be solved very quickly. Look at Italy and Spain. They are good examples. But while Turkey is cleaning these kinds of things, if it politicizes the judiciary and the law, Turkey cannot get anywhere. Plus these gangs can be more brutal. Turkey is on a razor's edge. The AK Party is playing its most dangerous game. On the one hand, it is saying that it will shed light on these gangs but, on the other, if it is politicizing the judiciary, this razor will cut them.
03.02.2008 Ayse Karabat Ankara


Militanz: Beats Arise From The Underground In The Çinçin Slums
It’s the Çinçin slums of Ankara that trickle down past the city’s historic castle where a tangle of seedy backstreets give way to the dark underbelly of city life.

The underground group

It’s the stories of those who occupy these streets -- the gypsy beggars from regional towns and villages, the shady suited characters and the “genuine fake” wrist watch stall owners. It’s these fringe topics two “underground” hip hop artists from Ankara address in their third independent studio album, “Militanz.”

The album is gritty, raw, morbid and not everyone’s cup of tea: “This is not the kind of album you want your children to listen to.” Just an attention grabbing catchphrase, you may think, but it’s certainly an insight into the world and mind of two young Turks grappling to keep hip hop culture alive in a pop-dominated Turkish music scene.

After a guided tour of their self-made recording studio off Tunali Hilmi Street in Ankara, we head down to a swanky café minutes away to chat about the new record and the state of hip hop in Turkey. VEYasin, or Yasin, is 24 while Evren Besta smirks as though saying he’s 29 is some kind of confession. The reason being, he is almost 30 and “still playing around with music.” But for this pair, like many devotees of hip hop, music isn’t just a hobby -- it is their life, their means of expression and of sanity.

Both born and bred in Ankara, Yasin and Evren started to collaborate in the year 2000. After being told to kick their then band name Militanz by their then music label, they set off to form their current group Mode XL in 2003, with Evren on vocals and Yasin sharing the vocals and creating the beats. This period saw the birth of Base Mode -- an independent music label the pair started in hope of creating a musical institution for hip hop makers and lovers in Ankara. While juggling the interview with endless interruptions from his cell phone, Yasin sighs, admitting that running a label while producing his own music can get hectic, but is worth the effort,

“Our aim in creating our own label was about making a place for people who wanted to create music with us under the one roof. We found that there were so many talented people around that we wanted to work with … basically we wanted to hold the Ankara scene together. And I can confidently say that if we weren’t around, hip hop in Ankara would not exist.”

The independent label currently has six artists under its wing, some having pressed albums in recent times. On a personal level, the independence of managing their own label has helped them realize their short-term dreams. “We do our own business ourselves. We take charge in all of our projects, be it filming videos, taking photos or designing our album covers. We are trying to put what’s in our head out there without ruining or compromising our style,” Yasin says, momentarily taking his eyes away from his phone.

Evren says the title of their new album, “Militanz,” is a tribute to their original band name and their aspirations in reviving the hip hop culture in Turkey. “We chose the name ‘Militanz’ as a sign of our commitment to fighting for what you believe. So because we believe in keeping hip hop music alive, we thought this name was appropriate.”

So why write about the dirty business and people of inner city streets?

Evren believes the backstreets of any city bears witness to a reality we prefer to ignore. “Almost all cities have a dirty suburb. The events that take place in these suburbs spread around town like Chinese whispers. These stories have an impact on people. You generally avoid these streets if you don’t want to get caught up in dirty business, but what if one day you have no choice? What if you have to walk through this part of town to get to your destination?”

Evren says the concept of walking the streets can be interpreted as something of a metaphor for life, “not knowing what might catch you by surprise just around the corner.” His own life experiences have played a serious role in the production of the album and its lyrics,

“You need to be cautious when you cross a street, always keep the eyes in the back of your head open because you just don’t know what will happen. People should in no way be afraid of each other: I believe everything will eventually lead the way it should. But it’s hard to trust people these days. After my own life experiences, I’ve made the choice not to trust anyone.”

Evren says the album is about exploring the psychology of the listener while encouraging average people to get out of their physical and mental comfort zones. “What we’re trying to say is that there are some things in life we have to face up to. The sooner, the better. We want our music to, on donning your headphones, to create an image before your eyes. We want you to think about how the street looks now that you’re listening to our music.”

He explains this music genre helps him tell this story: “We spend a lot of time on the street. We are not homeless but we love the streets atmosphere. The hip hop culture we belong to is ultimately owned by the street. I chose hip hop as a means of expressing myself originally and I would like for it to stay that way.”

Mehmet Tez from music magazine Rolling Stone Turkey, who keeps his finger on the pulse with emerging artists, agrees: “Rap depends on well written lyrics and from this point of view I believe it is completely homegrown and unique to this country. … Groups do what they value, create their music from scratch and explain their own stories. The stories they explain are local and original. They express themselves, their lives, their existence effectively. This isn’t just a hobby or about simply having fun. It is their reality that is conveyed.”

Hip Hop 101: Turkey and abroad

Hip hop characteristically consists of a rhythmic style of speaking called rap, over backing beats produced by a DJ using turntables or other electronic means, including synthesizers and drum machines. Hip hop roots extend to a musical and cultural movement that came out of New York ghettos during the 1970s, predominantly among African-American and Latino communities. Artists and groups including Grandmaster Flash and Parliament are widely considered the pioneers of this genre of music.

While original hip hop centered on highlighting the struggles of the civil rights movement in the US, hip hop today sees the music genre morphing and branching off to various sounds, themes and also countries. If you walk into most music stores today you will find the hip hop music section will contains popular, political, religious tunes from many countries including France, Spain, Germany and Japan.

The 1990s gave rise to a growing presence of hip hop in Turkey, but not without its own turbulent times. Cartel, a pioneering Turkish hip hop group, gained success with their first album in both Turkey and Germany. Following a bloody argument within the group, some members were jailed and the album was banned from the music market. This naturally had a negative impact on the image of hip hop in the country and on newcomers to the Turkish hip hop scene. It wasn’t until 2001 that the genre was reinvigorated by the group Nefret, founded by Turkish rapper Ceza (translating to punishment in Turkish) and Dr. Fuchs. Some credit these two artists with starting a new generation of hip hop in Turkey.

In 2008 Ceza is among only a handful of hip hop artists who have made it in a pop-dominated music industry. With most artists still unsigned, hip hop remains largely underground. Ceza, however, is featured rapping in a current TV commercial for a Turkish newspaper.

Tez feels the tides are changing for the genre in Turkey. “As it stands hip hop hasn’t hit the popular music market, but a strong wave is approaching. The emerging hip hop from cities is proving itself to be a really unique music genre. Istanbul, Izmir, Adana, Mersin, Diyarbakir, Antalya and many more cities and towns in Turkey have their own unique hip hop scenes.”

The hip hop audience is changing too. Serkan “Tetik” Özturk, a hip hop musician from Izmir says: “Hip hop no longer caters to a certain group of people. You can hear hip hop sounds in clubs, bars… It’s not uncommon to hear hip hop pumping out of a passing car on the street. Hip hop is no longer listened to by teenage boys sporting baggy jeans and a reversed cap.”

Özlem Çeliker is 24 years old, married and the proud mother of a 2-year-old son. Her job involves caring for an elderly woman who “talks a lot.” She first started listening to hip hop when her brother was going through hard times. “There is a song that explains the problems my brother went through: ‘I hurt myself, I slept on the streets, I was thrown out of home, I slept on the streets.’ Something like that, but it was about the experiences of a young person. So I suppose I listened to this because it was really my brother’s story.”

Özlem continues: “Hip hop to me is more than about love, it’s the fact that it explains people’s daily problems and what they go through -- that is why I like it. Really other songs are all about ‘I love you, don’t leave me’ and whatnot, but with hip hop you hear about completely different stories. That’s why I like it.”

She doesn’t consider herself to look like a follower, but has a deeper more emotional connection to the music: “I wear a headscarf and so I have to be careful with what I wear. I can no longer wear baggy pants, but I still wear sneakers,” she says smiling. “So even though I don’t look the part, I feel drawn to the music. I think life is already dark, life is not easy. So instead of listening to air-fairy music I prefer the darker content because that’s reality. Isn’t it?”

Özlem confesses that while she has an MP3 player filled with hip hop music, she doesn’t know which artists the songs belong to. “I don’t really follow a particular group. I own an MP3 player so frankly when I download music I don’t usually know which group it’s from, I just download it because I like the sound.”

Technology: friend or foe?

The success of hip hop groups and artists has become harder to gauge given the underdevelopment of the hip hop music sector in Turkey, coupled with the expansion of illegal downloading Web sites. Back in the day, the success of a band was based on albums sales, but now emerging artists have to look at alternative ways of getting heard and making money. Emerging artists tend to have a love-hate relationship with sites like MySpace and YouTube, which they use to share their music, videos and biographies. Tetik utilizes such Web sites, and notes: “MySpace is truly a valuable resource for up-and-coming bands, but there is no doubt that while the Internet gives, it also takes. I find it really sad that the day after an album is released; you can download it as an MP3 from one of the many file-sharing Web sites. So considering the hip hop audience in Turkey is predominantly made of up young people who are already Internet savvy, most circulation of hip hop [music] is made via the Internet. This can be demoralizing for music makers as it can leave us out of pocket. I believe that the hip hop audience should be more aware of the impact illegal downloading of music can have.”

Yasin from Mode XL is more optimistic and open to the new challenges the information age poses. “You know, you just have to accept this as the fate of the music industry. People are listening, but not in the conventional way, that is by buying an album. People prefer to download music, be it illegally or legally, from the Internet because it has now become natural to them and technology has advanced so much. So we’ve just had to accept that this is the way technology is going. Even the biggest stake holders in the music industry are grappling with illegal file sharing and downloading of music.”

He maintains that while at this point MP3 downloading does not enable them to make a direct profit from their music, the Internet enables the band to be promoted independently of middle managers or record labels who focus on profiteering. “Instead we look at how we can use the Internet to our own advantage. As a result, we’re striving for the sale of MP3s -- if we can’t succeed in doing that we’ll just wait and see what other new theories come our way. We just have to wait for these theories to be realized. But overall we don’t aim to become millionaires from music; we just want to be heard. We just want the freedom to express ourselves.”

Tez believes Web sites like YouTube and MySpace offer valuable forums in which musicians can meet, communicate and share music. “In fact, the kind of chemical reaction these Web sites create is now necessity. The Web has given individuals the opportunity to be heard and I believe it will be a more vital and important medium in the future.”

DIY music and the future of hip hop

There are scores of emerging artists, just like Mode XL who produce their own music in self-made studios. Tez maintains that an uninterested record industry, coupled with cheaper and more accessible recording and editing equipment, means more artists are using the do-it-yourself method, or DIY, rather than signing up to a label.

“As the Turkish music industry has not yet realized the music genre’s potential, emerging artists really have no choice but DIY. Musicians are producing their own simple and pure videos based on their financial ability. And this displays their music for what it is, natural.”

Evren and Yasin’s studio hosts a range of recording and editing gadgets. There, the pair produces their own beats, film and edit their own videos and design their album covers.

“This [DIY ethic] is at the very least some kind of strength, especially given the hip hop slice of the Turkish music industry is so small -- well, not even really established when countries like France, Germany have already achieved this. They have a real presence in the music industry; their own sector, their own radio stations, clothing labels, venues. Considering the music scene is nowhere near embracing hip hop culture here in Turkey, we as individuals at the very least are doing our best to get things happening.”

For the time being Turkish hip hop will continue to pulse in headphones, backstreets and underground shows across Turkey.

Further information: Militanz” by Mode XL is out now. “Across the Bridge,” by Fatih Akin is a film about contemporary Turkish music.
03.02.2008 Özlem Öztürk Ankara


There Are Always Gangs In This Country, Only Their Structures Change
"Even if the structure changes by time, having gangs is in our political culture and it started even before the republic," say historian Avni Özgürel, retired military judge Ümit Kardas and journalist Mehmet Altan.

A statue of Topal Osman in the Black Sea province of Giresun is shown in this file photo. Topal Osman, a member of the special forces during the Turkish War of Independence, was a hero, according to some, while others consider him one of the most notorious gang leaders.

All of them agree that a tradition of political gangs starts with the Committee of Union and Progress (ITP), a secret organization when it was established in 1889. The ITP came to power after a coup during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Its remaining elements were eliminated only after the establishment of the Republic.

"The ITP was the first gang to come to power in world history," says Özgürel.

After coming to power, the ITP redesigned the Special Organization, Teskilat-i Mahsusa. Acts of this Special Organization are also under discussion today, their use of political power for their own personal interests, political assassinations and their self-perceptions as the "saviors" of the state.

"From then until the present, maybe the structure of the groups has changed a little, but the founding idea is the same," says Ümit Kardas. "The law is something easily forgotten." Mehmet Altan gives the example of Topal Osman, a member of the special forces. According to some, Osman was a hero. Veli Küçük, a retired major general, who is also the alleged founder of an illegal intelligence unit in the gendarmerie, agrees with this statement. Küçük is under detention because of his alleged links to the Ergenekon gang, which allegedly aimed to create a chaotic atmosphere in Turkey and to prepare the grounds for a military coup.

Özgürel, Altan and Kardas all speak of the story of Osman while evaluating the situation today, the Ergenekon gang, its structure, its culture and the possibility of getting rid of this gang tradition.

Although there are still many dark points related to the life of Osman, historians agree that since he became disabled during the Balkan wars, he was labeled “lame Topal Osman.

The Ergenekon terror organization allegedly had some links with the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. For example, Fuat Turgut, the lawyer of the main suspect of the Dink murder is also under detention for having links to the Ergenekon group. Dink’s murderers were from Trabzon, which neighbors Giresun, Osman’s hometown.

He was also active in the fight with Greeks in the Black Sea region. In those days, a deputy in the first Turkish Parliament wrote a petition against Osman and complained that he was distributing land left from Greeks to gang members and terrorizing the locals.

Among the detained Ergenekon organization members, there are some familiar names from a former gang, called Susurluk. The name stems from an accident that occurred in 1996 near the small town of Susurluk in which a police chief, gangsters, a deputy and Küçük were found to be in the same vehicle. The Susurluk gang was also accused for terrorizing the locals of southeastern and eastern Anatolia and gaining economic interests from these actions.

The Susurluk gang was also accused of being responsible for many assassinations and using brutal and unlawful methods in its fight with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). There were many discussions about these events in the media and Parliament at the time. Osman’s methods while fighting against the Koçgiri Kurdish clan’s uprising in 1921 led to furious discussions in Parliament at the time, too.

Ergenekon members were allegedly planning to kill some intellectuals and politicians, including the Democratic Society Party’s (DTP) former Deputy Chairman Ahmet Türk. Osman was the murderer of a deputy in his time, deputy Ali Sükrü, who was a strong opponent of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and was against the Lausanne Treaty.

“Ali Sükrü’s murder is the father of the Susurluk case,” says Mehmet Altan. He adds that there were some incidents which were not brought to the fore in the meantime.

“This kind of organizations has had a place in our culture since Ottoman times, like Osman. There were always groups in the political structure which claimed that they were saving the state,” Altan says.

Ümit Kardas agrees. According to him, this tradition has been inherited by the republic, too.

“The republic’s nationalism is problematic. It aims at assimilation and oppression,” he says. He adds that even the end of the one-party system did not bring this tradition to an end.

“When the multi-party system was introduced, the periphery moved to the center. Elites did not like that. So the negative attitude of these elites added to the problematic nationalism understanding and we came to this point,” Kardas says, summarizing the last half century.

According to him, the main ideology of the gangs has not changed as they still see themselves above the law and the people, but the structure of the gangs has changed a little bit.

“The structure is more complicated now due to technological developments. This apparatus also uses the mask of nongovernmental organizations, which are important in today’s political life,” Kardas says.

Among the Ergenekon members there are heads of some NGOs like the National Forces Association’s Fikret Karadag or Kemal Kerinçsiz, the head of the Hukukçular Birligi, the Lawyers’ Union. Another member who was under detention is Sevgi Erenerol, the press spokesperson for another NGO called the Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate.

The Ergenekon gang also has a columnist member

While elaborating on the gang culture Altan is also agreeing that the structure changed but the main reasons which led to the gang culture is the same:

“Since the establishment of the republic, as it was in the case of Osman, there is a clear cut difference between the understanding of nationalism and the superiority of the law. The defender of this tradition has the idea ‘if we need to, we can put the law aside.’ Not being respectful to the law is one of the main sources which feeds this understanding,” says Altan.

He also underlines that the Turkish economy is not putting production to its center so involvement by the direct state becomes inevitable, leading to economic clashes over capturing state power. He also underlines that the national education system is reproducing the “blind and problematic nationalism” ideology.

After speaking about the history of the deep roots, its culture and changing structure of gangs, Özgürel, Altan and Kardas share their different views about the future of the gangs.

Altan thinks if the government were brave enough, this problem could be solved. He also suggests that the attitude of the EU and the US will be important. According to him, they don’t want this corrupted structure anymore and recent murders of missionaries have definitely disturbed them. The Ergenekon group is also accused of involvement in these killings, including the killing of an Italian priest in 2006 and the murder of three Christians in the city of Malatya last year.

Kardas thinks that in order to end this gang tradition, the government should be brave enough to take an initiative and work to the end.

“Instead of facing this challenge, if the government prefers to compromise, we cannot go anywhere. But our government is not even brave enough to remove the obstacles in front of freedom of thought, restricted by Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK),” says Kardas, referring to an infamous article which regulates the denigration of Turkishness and state apparatus like the army.

Özgürel is skeptical about what is really going on. He thinks that the history of gangs shows that sometimes certain elements of gang are sacrificed for the continuation of the system, a good example of this being the Osman case.

After killing deputy Sükrü, the state decided to punish Osman. He got into a gun battle with state security forces and was captured after being wounded. But he died on the road to the hospital. He was beheaded and his body was shown to the public at Ulus -- at that time the center of Ankara.

Osman is considered a hero by people like Kenan Evren, the leader of the 1980 military coup and the person who re-popularized Osman in Giresun. There is also someone who really admired Osman to the point of ordering a sculpture of him to be made and erected in Giresun. This great fan of pioneer gangster Osman is now in detention. His name is Veli Küçük, allegedly the leader of the Ergenekon gang.

In Giresun, a sculpture of Osman still exists, though not the one made on the order of Küçük.
27.01.2008 Ayse Karabat Ankara


How We Lost Turkey And How We May Recuperate It?February 2, 2008 Cengiz AKTAR

As Turkey's dedicated friends, some high-ranking European politicians keep parroting that the country will join the EU in due course if it obeys by the rules and continues the reform process. They have the reformist action of the first Erdogan government as a reference point and praise its achievements by systematically comparing Turkey with other Muslim countries. Such comparison is indeed full of rewards and as long as Turkey is viewed from a Muslim perspective it undoubtedly appears like a champion of Human Rights and economic development.

This mindset is extremely risky as it gives both Turkey and its supporters the excuse to sit back and do nothing while waiting for the reform process to eventually start again. In the meantime Turkey bashers in EU have their hands free to work adamantly in order to jeopardize the accession process. This in turn makes EU less and less relevant in Turkey while its leverage on its political transformation shrinks every day. The government meanwhile is happy with the lip service and no-cost commitments to the country's EU perspective from friends. So happy that it adds more empty words to it by declaring 2008 ?Year of EU' when it declared 2005, the first year of EU negotiations, "Year of Africa!"

Betting on Sarkozy's departure from office at the latest in 2017 many in Europe prefer a sort of brinkmanship by simulating negotiations until then. No matter if Sarkozy's anti-Turkey endeavors would help to create in Europe what is essentially a peace project, the latest ground for war among cultures. And no matter Turkey drifts steadily away from Europe and European values towards Middle East.

European perspective now completely blurred

Since Dec. 17, 2004, the day Turkey received the green light for opening accession negotiations, the government virtually stopped working on EU matters by its own decision. Since then Turkey is drifting away from Europe. With last year's row over the election of a new president of the republic, the ultimatum of the military establishment always ready to meddle in politics, the ongoing military operation in Iraq and no visible solution to the country's internal and external disputes, Turkey doesn't look like a country set toward EU membership anymore. Obviously the disappearance of the European perspective from the horizon has played an important role in this state of affairs.

Actually since the European perspective started to recede, Turkey's chronic illnesses have resurfaced. The best illustration was last year's ultimatum by the military. Would Turkey's military establishment have dared to interfere in politics in such a blatant way if Turkey's European perspective was still alive and the country was busy negotiating with the EU, like Croatia? Some observers argue that the army's meddling in politics had exactly the purpose of derailing the European process. They overlook that Turkish military chiefs and in particular the previous Chief of the army staff General Hilmi Özkök supported groundbreaking reforms implemented by Turkish governments in 2002-04. These reforms were far-reaching and in contrast with the present stalemate between secularists and non-secularists in which the military establishment seems to play the role of trendsetter.

In the meantime, in Europe, some politicians have started to work against Turkey's EU accession bid, the minute that the Turkish government stopped working on EU-inspired reforms. Today public surveys carried out both in Turkey and in Europe show that Europeans, fearing that Turkey will become a huge burden for the Union, and Turks, who think the EU will harm their country, have begun to perceive each other almost as enemies.

In other words, time has come for both sides to openly say what their intentions are. Turkey's membership process cannot continue as it has since 2005. Neither multilateral nor bilateral relations between the EU, its member states and Turkey can be managed in an atmosphere of constant tension that needs relentless crisis management.

An accession date should now be announced

Moving away from the current deadlock depends as much on Turkey's will as on a powerful message by the EU: A public statement of an accession date. Personally, my favorite date is the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey, 2023 that sounds very reasonable in terms of preparations.

Some analysts argue that 2023 is too far away. However, bearing in mind the state of preparations in Turkey, the anti-Turkish mood in Europe and the time necessary for the ratification of accession treaties in national parliaments, 2023 is tomorrow. Let us not forget that another "big" candidate, Poland, worked 15 years to reach western standards before becoming a member state in 2004. Plus, 2023 is distant enough to placate the doubts of some European politicians.

But above all, a tentative date is the most precious incentive for Turks, who are impatient by temperament but are stimulated by meaningful perspectives. Turkey has already negotiated a major agreement with the EU, the customs union, meeting the 1995 deadline. In 2002 at the Copenhagen European Council, EU leaders gave Turkey a rendezvous for the end of 2004 to comply with the political criteria in order to go into negotiation process. Both deadlines were met successfully.

Other analysts, who argue that no accession date was given to any candidate countries, should consult the Helsinki and Nice European Councils held in 1999 and 2000. Both summits conclusions announced that the EU would "be in a position to welcome those new member states which are ready as from the end of 2002."

Some others argue that giving an accession date to Bulgaria and Romania was counterproductive and slowed down essential reforms as membership was, in a way, guaranteed. But hardly any new member states (and even some old member states) have fully complied with the membership criteria at the date of accession.

Finally, it is obvious that EU countries are unlikely to agree between themselves on giving any accession date to Turkey as of today. But those friendly countries who encourage Turkey verbally and who are strongly in favor of Turkey's integration with the EU could and should propose a target date for the benefit of all concerned.

Ersever’s top-secret archive found in general’s house

Veli Küçük - Ahmet Cem Ersever

An archive containing state secrets belonging to a major who was mysteriously killed in 1993 was found in the home of a retired brigadier general arrested for membership in a crime group, newspapers reported yesterday.

More and more claims have been emerging as the investigation into the “Ergenekon” crime network, which appears to be part of a formation that operates with the knowledge of parts of the government bureaucracy, the armed forces, the police and the judiciary.

According to reports, an archive containing top state secrets previously belonging to Maj. Cem Ersever, who was assassinated in 1993 with the perpetrator never being captured, was found during a search of a ranch house belonging to retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, arrested in the Ergenekon operation last week. Another file, which documented that journalist Ugur Mumcu was assassinated with a bomb by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in 1993, was found in the home of another retired army member, Zekeriya Öztürk, news reports claimed. However, this document never made its way to the prosecutor’s desk, they also stated.

Ersever’s secret archive

Ersever was a former major who left the army after Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Etref Bitlis was killed in a suspicious plane crash. Ersever, in a confession made to the press after he left the army, told the public about figures who would become some of the most famous names in Turkey in 1996 when for the first time the Turkish public’s suspicions of a “deep state” would be confirmed with a car crash in the town of Susurluk, in which a police chief and an internationally sought criminal would be killed and a deputy who also led a southeastern Kurdish clan armed by the state against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists would be seriously injured.

Although scores of definitions are offered for the phrase “deep state,” ample evidence shows that Ergenekon-like groups acting to protect to interests of cliques inside the military and the bureaucracy have been responsible for a number of political assassinations and attacks blamed on various other parties. Some analysts believe this clandestine phenomenon, the deep state, is a remnant of Operation Gladio, a network of secret paramilitary units organized within most NATO countries after WWII, although there is evidence that suggests such structures existed even in the times of the Ottomans.

Ersever’s confessions were later compiled in a number of books by author Soner Yalçin. The major before his assassination also said he was in charge of the southeastern operations of JITEM, an intelligence unit in the gendarmerie that does not exist on paper.

Ersever’s body was found in Ankara on Nov. 4, 1993. His girlfriend and right-hand man were also killed, and his archive disappeared.

In a report that Hanefi Avci, a police chief investigating deep state links, would compile three years later on the above-mentioned car crash, the location of Ersever’s archives was noted as the home of the driver of a customs police chief. According to the report filed by Avci, these were taken by the gendarmerie, which also trapped Ersever, who had arrived to meet with the police chief’s driver. The document also states that Ersever was killed by a man who used the code name Yesil and who worked for Küçük.

The archive, which had been lost for more than a decade, might shed light on the dirty jobs Ersever did for JITEM.

The Mumcu link

According to a news report from the Taraf daily, a document that journalist Ugur Mumcu was killed by “deep state” forces was found in the home of Zekeriya Öztürk, another Ergenekon member who was arrested after an armed attack at the Council of the State in 2006 that left a senior judge dead, apparently the work of Ergenekon. However, this document later mysteriously disappeared and never made its way to the prosecutor working on the Council of State shooting case.

Who was Cem Ersever?

Ahmet Cem Erserver was born in the eastern city of Erzurum in 1950. On Dec. 11, 1979 he was assigned by the Gendarmerie Command to investigate smuggling incidents in various crimes. After the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d’état, Ersever was assigned to a southeastern post to collect intelligence on the PKK. Establishing JITEM, a paramilitary intelligence unit in the gendarmerie set up to carry out operations with the intelligence collected on terrorists, was his idea. Ersever set up the first lines of communication between Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani. He also had sound links with northern Iraq’s Turkmens and Iraqi intelligence units. After Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Bitlis died in a suspicious plane crash, he left the gendarmerie in March 1993. In his resignation he wrote, “A gang formed inside the authorized organization in the Southeast is preventing the Turkish nation from seeing the real dimensions of the events taking place there.” His dead body was discovered by the gendarmerie in Ankara on Nov. 4. 1993. He wrote the books “Conspiracy in the Triangle” (Üçgendeki Tezgah) and “APO-PKK-The Kurds” (APO-PKKO-Kürtler). His death and his archive are covered in an entire chapter of the 1996 Susurluk car crash police report.
02.02.2008 Today’s Zaman Istanbul


Adam Schiff: Armenian Genocide Denial Imperils Turkey’s Future
01.02.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ This week, Rep. Adam Schiff commemorated slain Agos editor Hrant Dink in a Congressional Record statement, Rep. Schiff’s spokesman, Mr Sean Oblack told PanARMENIAN.Net.

The statement says,

"Madame Speaker:

"It is with a mixture of anger and sadness that I rise today to honor the one year anniversary of the murder of Hrant Dink, the courageous Armenian-Turkish journalist, who was murdered by a Turkish extremist.

"Mr. Dink founded the bilingual newspaper Agos in 1996, giving a voice to Turkey’s Armenians. He acted on his beliefs of building community and acknowledging the past, for which he was persecuted, prosecuted and eventually forced to pay the ultimate price. Clearly, however, his life’s work was not in vain; at his funeral, approximately one hundred thousand people marched behind his coffin, chanting, "We are all Dink. We are all Armenians."

"Before Mr. Dink’s untimely death last January, the Turkish government constantly tried to limit his freedom of speech. It confiscated copies of Agos on many occasions and on the flimsiest of pretenses. In 2004, Mr. Dink wrote an article stating that Turkey’s first woman pilot was an
Armenian orphan adopted after 1915. The government convicted him of insulting "Turkishness" under Article 301 of the Penal Code, a law specifically designed to prevent discussion of the Armenian Genocide. He received a six-month suspended sentence. This was just one of several such prosecutions against Mr. Dink.

"Mr. Dink’s courage to confront the historical facts of the Armenian Genocide cost him his life. He continually received threatening telephone calls, emails, and letters. He reported this terrorization to the police, but they failed to protect him. On January 19, 2007 an extreme nationalist teenager shot Mr. Dink three times outside the Agos offices in Istanbul, killing him. Court hearings continue, but Mr. Dink’s family stated that the investigation of his murder was conducted in secrecy and is incomplete.

"Turkish prosecutions under Article 301 increased in 2007 and continued to affect Mr. Dink’s family. Arat Dink, his son, published an interview in which Mr. Dink said that the 1915 to 1917 Armenian massacres constituted genocide. Last October Arat Dink received a one year suspended sentence for publishing this interview. Punishing Mr. Dink’s son for publishing his murdered father’s words is a travesty and exposes the lengths to which Ankara will go to hide the truth about the Armenian Genocide.

"Mr. Dink’s death was devastating to the democratic principle of a free and unfettered press and to the efforts of a handful of Turkish intellectuals who have been fighting to expose the crimes of Turkey’s Ottoman predecessor. Denying the Armenian Genocide harms Turkey and imperils the future of this important nation. As the world marks the anniversary of Dink’s murder I reiterate my call for Turkey to honor the memory of Hrant Dink by repealing Article 301, and to acknowledge the truth of the Armenian Genocide.

"Together with his family and colleagues, the Armenian community in Turkey, and his admirers around the world, we remember Hrant Dink, heroic defender of speech and human rights, on the one-year anniversary of his murder."


ASALA victim Güngör buried in Ankara
A funeral was held yesterday for Kemalettin Kani Güngör, a former commercial counselor at the Turkish Embassy in Canada who had spent the last 26 years of his life paralyzed due to an attack by an Armenian terrorist group. Güngör died on Wednesday due to intestinal problems at the age of 76.

Speaking to Today's Zaman before the funeral, Güngör's brother, retired Gen. Osman Güngör, said Kemalettin Kani Güngör never disparaged his assailants. "There is deep meaning underlying his attitude," he said.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan and former Constitutional Court President Yekta Güngör Özden attended the funeral, which took place at Ankara's Kocatepe Mosque.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry released a written statement expressing sorrow over Güngör's death. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of Güngör, who was attacked by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia [ASALA]. We extend our condolences to his family. The Turkish public will always remember Güngör and the other assassinated Turkish diplomats who served their country with honor. "

Güngör was seriously wounded by gunmen in the parking lot of his house in Canada's capital of Ottawa in 1982. Thirty-four Turkish diplomats were killed in attacks by ASALA in 19 countries between 1973 and 1994.
01.02.2008 Gürhan Savgi Ankara


Is A Long Overdue Controversy Finally Settled: Aram Andonian's Infamous Naim Bey's Real Identity Is Now Considered Revealed January 18, 2008 By Prof. Garabet K Moumdjian

Armenian Genocide historian Dr. Hilmar Kaiser has set himself as an authority of the Armenian Genocide during the past decade. The bulk of his research is conducted in primary archival material. As of 2005, Kaiser is meticulously conducting research at the Directorate of Ottoman Archives in Istanbul (This interviewer also has been conducting research there since 2005), Turkey, which is now open to historians worldwide, after a 10 year hiatus. When he emailed me regarding his findings about the identity of the infamous Naim Bey, I was more than compelled to conduct this interview with him. Naim Bey was the source of the telegrams that presented proof of the intentional genocidal policies of the Young Turk government and especially that of Talaat Pasha, then Minister of Interior of the Ottoman Empire. Andonian, a journalist and himself a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, published his famous "Naim Bey's Memoirs"1 in 1920. Since the 1980's The Turkish side has devoted much time and effort to undermine the authenticity of Naim Bey's telegrams. Moreover, Turkish scholars have gone as far as to proclaim that Naim Bey himself is nothing more than a fictitious character and perhaps a figment of Andonian's imagination.

Garabet Moumdjian:Let' s start with the quintessential question: Who was Naim Bey?

Hilmar Kaiser: According to Aram Andonian, Naim Bey was an Ottoman official who had been involved in the Armenian deportations from Aleppo to Der Zor. After the war, he supplied confidential information and a series of documents and renditions of documents to Aram Andonian. The information and the materials were later published by Andonian together with a part of his own memoirs in 1920.

G.M.: And who was Aram Andonian?
H.K.: Aram Andonian was a well-known journalist in Constantinople. On April 24, 1915, he was arrested together with other Armenian intellectuals, politicians, clergy, businessmen, and Armenians who had been taken due to a confusion of names. Luckily for Andonian, he belonged to the group that was detained at Tchankiri. This group had better chances of survival than those at Ayash, who were almost all killed. Andonian escaped from deportation and spent time in hiding in Aleppo. He was one of the first Armenians to secure evidence on the genocide. His papers are kept at the Nubarian library in Paris and are of supreme importance for research on the Armenian Genocide.

G.M.: Why is the identity of Naim Bey so important?
H.K.: Evidently it is critical to identify all officials that were involved in the Armenian Genocide, particularly those who were responsible for the execution of the deportations. This holds truer for Naim Bey as he was Aram Andonian's informant and the data provided by him stands today at the core of an important debate.

G.M.: What is this debate about?
H.K.: For decades, Naim's information and the documents he supplied were seen as the principle proof for the Armenian Genocide. In 1983, Turkish authors published a book doubting the veracity of the documents and Naim Bey's existence.2

G.M.: What were their arguments?
H.K.: The two authors brought forward a number of technical aspects. For instance, they claimed that Talaat's signature on the documents were fake. And, indeed, the signatures were not Talaat's. But this fact was misunderstood by many. After all, the materials carrying Talaat's "signature" were supposedly telegrams received by officials in Aleppo. They were not faxes or letters, so it was impossible to have Talaat's original signature on the papers. The authors also compared the style of central authority documents with the work of provincial scribes.

G.M.: Was all criticism answered?
H.K.: Not really. The two authors rightly pointed out that we do not have access to any of the originals. They were either lost or misplaced. This fact severely limits the value of the material for historians. I, for my own part, use Aram Andonian's own memoirs in my work but do not engage the documents. The Turkish authors also claimed that Naim Bey never existed as they had not found a personnel file for him.

G.M.: Did you find Naim Bey's file?
H.K.: No. The two Turkish authors seem to have thought that Naim must have been an official of the central authorities. But recent research in the Ottoman archives showed that many, if not most, of the Ottoman officials working around Aleppo and along the Euphrates had been locally hired, even as part-timers, and they were temporary employed for the deportation work. I did not find a personnel file. We have hardly any evidence from the Ottoman provincial authorities at all. In other words, we depend on incidents were local evidence made its way into the files of the central authorities. In the case of Naim we were lucky that such a case exists.

G.M.: Then, who was Naim Bey?
H.K.: Naim Bey was a relatively young man in 1916. He was 25 or 26 years old, born in Silifke. In 1916, he worked in Meskene as a deportation official responsible for the dispatch of Armenians to Der Zor. At the time a scandal erupted. Some Armenians had succeeded in bribing officials and managed to escape with the latter's help to Aleppo or avoid further deportation towards Der Zor. The authorities in Aleppo got wind of the affair and ordered an inquiry. Naim Bey managed to keep out of trouble but we know from Aram Andonian that he had taken bribes as well.

G.M.: What is the importance of this discovery?
H.K.: The new Ottoman documentation confirms the information Andonian gave to a surprising high degree. This adds considerably to Andonian's credibility even though we still have no originals of the materials supplied by Naim Bey. Moreover, the new evidence confirms that the deportation officials were locally hired. Equally important is to show that the Turkish writers' information is flawed and their research is not the last word on the topic. With the identification of Naim Bey an important stone missing from the mosaic has been uncovered and must be put back in place.

G.M.: Do you expect to find the original documents any time soon?
H.K.: The identification of Naim happened some 25 years after the publication of the Turkish book. This alone shows you how slow progress is. However, it happened 17 years after the start in the Ottoman archives and only three years after the archives became available again, following a 10 year interruption. You, Mr. Moumdjian, have been at the archives and have conducted research there. You know how time consuming the process is. We are able to get only 25documents per day after ordering them a day in advance. It's a tedious process that has to be done anyways.

G.M.: Are you hopeful to find the documents in the future?
H.K.: Today, the Andonian material is not as important for historians as it had been decades ago. The documentation obtained from the Ottoman and other archives has replaced Andonian's publication in current debates. Certainly, Andonian's material could be a 'smoking gun' if proven to be true. But that is not the focus of or a few documents. The crime was highly complex and we need to process large volumes of evidence from a variety of sources. This takes time and is a slow process given the lack of available funding. The identification of Naim Bey is an important step in the right direction but it won't be the last important new finding. It strongly underlines the importance of Ottoman documentation and work in Turkish archives.

G.M.: Lastly, since you identified Naim Bey, can we at least know his real name? Did Aram Andonian use a pseudonym in order to keep his real identity a secret?
H.K.: Garabet, I know why you ask that question? I will elucidate Naim Bey's identity issue through a special lecture with document presentation on my next visit to the Los Angeles area. But for now let me answer by this: It gets even better than you think. Andonian's Naim Bey's name is NAIM BEY.
hyelog.blogspot.com

REVELATIONS OF HILMAR KAISER
07 February 2008, ERAREN
German historian Hilmar Kaiser obviously tries to court the Armenian community after the parenthesis of the Deutsche Bank. According to the daily Armenian newspaper Asbarez, Hilmar Kaiser, during his stay in Glendale ( California) gave an interview to Prof. Garabet Moumdjian pretended to reveal the identity of an Ottoman civil servant who had in his possession all the correspondence of Talat Pasha. According to Hilmar Kaiser, Naim Bey was a functionary who dealt with all the works of Talat Pasha. In a book published in 1920 by Aram Andonian, an author from Istanbul, Naim Bey was described as person attached to the Talat’s ministry of interior.

-Naim Bey was a young man in 1916. He was 25 or 26 at that time. He was borne in Silifke. In 1916, he was the responsible officer in Maskanah for the Armenians who were deported to Der-er-Zor. A scandal took place at that time. Some Armenians gave bribes to Turkish officials and with their assistance escaped to Aleppo. The Turkish authorities of Aleppo learning what happened ordered for an investigation. However Naim Bey achieved to not bothered although, according to Aram Andonian, he was among the Turkish officials who took the bribe>> says Hilmar Kaiser in this interview.

Hilmar Kaiser who is famous around the world of being a specialist of the Armenian genocide lost its credibility within the Armenian community when he decided to work for the Deutsche Bank in the framework of the lawsuit opposing this bank to Armenian-American lawyers about the life insurances which were not paid to the heirs of the Armenian victims of the 1915 genocide. Kaiser worked before without success with Armenian attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan (he made researches in the archives of the Deutsche Bank but said that there was nothing in them). It seems that Kaiser received 50.000 euro to work with the Deutsche Bank. A court in California decided that there was an interest conflict as Kaiser had no right to reveal information that he obtained during his work with Vartkes Yeghiayan and consequently Kaiser and the lawyers of Deutsche Bank were declared incompetent for this case. Deutsche Bank was obliged to hire new lawyers for the lawsuit which is still continuing against the three Armenian lawyers.

Hilmar Kaiser was recently gave a conference at Glendale. and received a fee for this. It seems that he said he wants to sell his information ... and now lives in Thailand.
------------------
ERAREN Note. .A book published in 1920 by Aram Andonian entitled The Memoirs of Naim Bey contained some telegram’s attributed to Talat Pasha . This book was considered the next sixty years as the evidence of Armenian “genocide”. In 1983 two Turkish historians, Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yüca, published “Ermenilerce Talat Paşa’ya Atfedilen Telgrafların Gerçek Yüzü (The Truth about the Telegrams attributed to Talat Pasha by the Armenians) and demonstrated that these telegrams were fake.

The English translation of this book titled “ The Talat Pasha Telegrams” can be found Here


Investigating Gangs Easier With New Penal Code, Says Professor
Adem Sözüer

Effective June 1, 2005 the new Turkish Penal Code (TCK) introduced numerous regulations to more easily investigate organized crime, but what prevents us from uncovering the truth is a lack of effective implementation of the law, said Adem Sözüer, the architect of the new TCK.

Professor Sözüer said even naming the recent operation "Ergenekon," an operation in which several people with links to the deep state were arrested, has obstructed revelation of the truth because this historical designation, and reports published during the investigation have caused some groups to see them as "victimized patriots" and others as "enemies of democracy."

Sözüer said without implementing strict measures, organized crime will not be dissected thoroughly but will rather launch sensational investigations and trials to nobody's satisfaction.

For Monday Talk, Sözüer explained the new legislation, which contains provisions that allow quick prosecution after evidence has been collected and harsh penalties for those involved in organized crime.

Are there loopholes that block a probe into the "Ergenekon gang"?

There are general problems applicable to the prosecution process of all offenses in our country. These problems are more frequent with respect to organized crime. The new Turkish Penal Code and criminal procedure legislation have introduced solutions to this problem on a legal plane. Also, there are improvements in practice. However, it takes time to attain the desired level of application. The purpose of a criminal investigation or prosecution is to uncover the truth. What prevents us from attaining this purpose is not legal loopholes, but a lack of effective implementation of the law -- for instance, the classification of criminal organizations according to their purposes, giving 'labeling names' to operations, failure to observe the principle of confidentiality during investigations, etc. In this regard, an organization that commits an offense should be called a "criminal organization" irrespective of the purpose for which that offense has been committed.

What might the drawbacks be in making these designations?

For instance, the criminal organization Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is a terrorist organization under Turkish law. But many countries, particularly in Europe, regard it as a political organization and support it. This is because we do not have a common definition of terrorism. On the other hand, the definition of a criminal organization involves injury, theft, robbery, damage to property, arson and other offenses that are clear. However, if you do not use this terminology, but opt for other terms such as rightist terrorism, leftist terrorism, neo-nationalist terrorism or fundamentalist terrorism, this will take the issue away from a criminal investigation.

Do you see a drawback in naming the recent operation "Ergenekon"?

Even if the prosecution exposes a criminal organization, this historical, mythological designation and the reports published during the investigation have caused some groups to see them as "victimized patriots" and some groups to see them as "enemies of democracy." What is important for the state, democracy and the society is whether a crime has been committed or not. For this reason the designation should be objective and acceptable to everyone. This designation should be "criminal organization."

Can we expect that actions will soon be brought following this last operation?

New legislation contains provisions that allow quick prosecution after evidence is collected. For instance, a novel provision is that the court may return the indictment. This will ensure that the prosecutor will investigate more thoroughly and be diligent when collecting evidence. In the past, a case would be opened without sufficient evidence and the prosecutor would collect evidence during the prosecution. This tended to lengthen trials -- and even if they ended in acquittal, innocent people would feel the weight of the prosecutorial process. When the old legislation was in force -- before June 1, 2005 -- only 40 out of 100 cases filed ended in the conviction of the defendants. This rate is over 85 percent for Germany and Japan. This means that they do not launch a suit without having strong evidence. But there is an unwillingness to implement these reforms.

What kind of unwillingness?

For instance, the legal arrangements concerning the confidentiality of the investigation are observed neither by the investigative authorities nor by the press. It is an offense to publish statements given during the investigation stage. You cannot impose a ban on publication because it is already an offense. Accordingly, the press law does not permit the court to issue a ban on publication. But courts are making such shocking decisions. This is what should be done: When an investigation is launched, news reports should only be allowed to state that an investigation is being conducted about such and such an issue without breaching confidentiality. When a case is filed, news reports should only state who is being tried and under what charges, as the issue at that point enters the public domain. Yet the reports should not try to influence the prosecution or disparage the defendants. Without implementing strict measures in this regard, you cannot be successful in thoroughly exposing organized crime. The only result of not implementing strict measures will be sensational investigations and trials, and the results will not satisfy anyone.

Would you say that was the case with the Susurluk trial?

In Turkey, some investigations have been used as a tool to purge political rivals. Sometimes, no real investigation has been conducted. And the court decisions have been found unsatisfactory, as in the case of Susurluk. Several people were convicted on charges of establishing a criminal organization. Yes, establishing a criminal organization is an offense. If you claim that this organization has been active for years and has been very influential but fail to prove even a single crime committed by this organization, then the court's decision will be seen by some groups as a "great injustice" and by others as a "great deficiency."

Given that some people have been arrested in connection with the Ergenekon gang, can we assume that evidence has been collected and a trial launched?

If, during the investigative stage, an arrest is made, this means that a decision that restricts personal freedom in a severe manner has been given, and in this case, as a rule of thumb, a trial must start at the end of the investigation. However, one should not forget that arrest does not imply final conviction. It only means that the person in question is seriously suspected of having committed the offense and might escape or obstruct evidence. In such cases, the person in question may be arrested as a precautionary measure. In principle, people should be tried without being under arrest. This is because we do not know whether they are guilty or not. In Turkey, arrests are a frequently used measure.

What is the case in Europe?

Among European countries, Turkey ranks first in terms of the number of people arrested. In European prisons, about 90 percent of the inmates are convicted prisoners while in Turkish prisons there are more arrested prisoners than convicted prisoners. A pardon was announced in 1999, but our prisons are still full, with about 80,000 inmates. Even if you continuously build new prisons, you cannot catch up with the rising number of inmates. Instead of arrest, other effective measures should be used. These measures are both effective and more cost effective. But many people still think of criminal justice as merely consisting of arrest. Public authorities sometimes act under this pressure. Thinking that arrests equal justice is wrong.

State secrets can no longer be hidden from the courts, right?

In the past, during criminal investigations and prosecutions, certain information and documents were hidden from the courts on grounds that they were considered state secrets. Whether a document is a state secret or not was determined by relevant individuals or institutions, not by the courts. This was completely amended by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMUK). In our day, evidence related to a criminal act cannot be kept secret from the courts. If the evidence in question is a state secret, then the courts will enter into the record only information related to the criminal act, which means state secrets will not be divulged. Yet, the problem of immunity still exists.

Whose immunity?

One shouldn't only think of parliamentary immunity when the word "immunity" is uttered. Everyone who works in public institutions in Turkey has some sort of immunity. For example, one would need special authority to try academics, rectors, deans and research assistants. This is the same case for police officers and soldiers. All civil servants have immunity. So do all bureaucrats. Permission should be obtained from these people's supervisors to make them appear before the courts. Only ordinary citizens do not have immunity in Turkey.

Do authorized people act in coordination with each other during an investigation?

Authorized individuals such as police officers, gendarmerie, coast guards and customs officials should act in coordination with one another. If effective coordination does not exist among them, investigations launched into criminal acts cannot be successfully carried out. For example, a mutual archive of fingerprints and photographs has not yet been prepared by police officers or the gendarmerie. Such archives have long been in use in Germany. This is an effective and safe way of having knowledge about the acts of policemen and gendarmes. But in Turkey we cannot implement even the most fundamental institutional structuring due to a lack of political will.

What penalty does the new TCK prescribe for those involved in organized crime?

Should even one single person die in an activity of a criminal organization, the head of the organization and all of its founders bear the responsibility for this death. Assassinating a person as part of an organized crime ring was less onerous under the former TCK. For instance, if you decided to kill five people for whatever reason, you received different penalties for each death. But if you established a criminal organization and killed 1,000 people, you received only one penalty. Today the leader of an organization which we consider to be a terrorist organization has been held responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, but he has only received one penalty regardless of how many crimes the organization committed. The new TCK states that the "founders and leaders of a criminal organization are responsible for all the criminal activities the organization commits." This is a much more efficient penalty compared to the former one.

Can people testify without fear?

People were afraid to testify before. The witness protection program is very significant in this regard; there has been a new regulation concerning this matter. Should there be an article on punishment that would bring the harshest penalty, you would still need to collect evidence to make use of it. The laws offer various opportunities to help gathering evidence too.

Do you think the judiciary can independently act to prosecute gang members?

There are several rules to insure judicial independence, but even the judges themselves testify that the judiciary does not act independently in Turkey. Additionally, when you say judicial independence in Turkey, many take it as if the judiciary should be independent of the government. However, it is not only that. The judiciary should be independent of all powers in society, including the press, the public and others.

PROFILE
Adem Sözüer

Adem Sözüer is an academic at Istanbul University's faculty of law. He offers graduate-level courses on the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMUK) and mass communication law. Sözüer became an associate professor after completing his thesis on "Criminal Law Precautions for Preventing Organized Crime" in 2000. He was subsequently assigned the role of academic consultant by Istanbul University for the preparation of new criminal codes between 2003 and 2005 and has given seminars attended by judges, prosecutors, lawyers and doctors both in Turkey and abroad. Sözüer has published over 50 books, articles and reports in Turkish, German and English.

y.dogan@todayszaman.com


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