- Monument to Symbolize Peace, Unity by Vercihan Ziflioglu,
- Impressions from Armenia
- Turkish Americans, Armenians, Justin Paul's Article, And ‘Calmness' by Gunay Evinch ATAA President-Elect
- Pre-election Sociology and Post-election Psychology By Hrach Bayadyan
- L.A. Times Errs by Providing Platform to Turkish Denialists By Harut Sassounian
- Armenian Minister From Turkey Will Keynote Genocide Month Gathering In Fresno
- Problem With 'Modern' Turks Is... They Are Outdated by Ziya MERAL
- Armenia's Central Bank Chief Set To Be New PM
- Many Knesset Members Rate Armenian Genocide Recognition To Moral Duty
- House Vote On Armenian Genocide Resolution Possible Before Summer Vacation
- Jewish Community Of Armenia Called On Knesset To Recognize Armenian Genocide
- Young Armenians Demand Dialogue
- Armenian Genocide Program At BCC
- Pelosi Willing To Bring Armenian Genocide Resolution To House Floor
- Anatomy Of A Conference : "A Prism Of The South Caucasus Through Perspectives Of Security From Europe Through Turkey To South Caucasus" by Beril Dedeoglu
- Protest Action To Be Held In Front Of Turkish
- Consulate By Armenian Community Of Chicago On April 24 - Noyan Tapan
- Turkish Cypriots To Commemorate Armenian Genocide For First Time This Year
- Armenia's Richest Men!
- Turkey’s Recent Political Turmoil: A Turkish Delight in Disguise? by Ellen Rosskam*
- Erdogan Visiting Sweden to Prevent Discussion of Armenian Genocide Bill?
- Turkey Changes Lobbying Firm in US Congress
- Turkish, Armenian Women's Magazine by Vercihan Ziflioglu
- If Israel Recognizes So-Called “Armenian Genocide”, Document About Genocide Against Palestinians Will Be Submitted To Azerbaijani Parliament
- Genocide, Diplomacy And Terrorism
- Asimed Urges Wikipedia To Remove "Semi-Protection" The Article On Armenian Allegations Concerning The Incidents Of 1915.
- Armenian Genocide Discussion In Knesset End In Scandal
- Incident Occurs In Israeli Knesset’s Commission While Discussing Issue On “Armenian Genocide”
- Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora Need to Hold Joint Fight to Prevent Myth on Armenian Genocide: Turkish Ambassador
- Reflections on the Armenian Weekly, the ARF, and the Armenian Nation: An Interview With James H. Tashjian Interview by Garo Adanalian
- Tarsy Sets the Record Straight: Calls on U.S. Congress and President Bush to Recognize Armenian Genocide By Khatchig Mouradian
- Doing Business with an Armenian By Tom Vartabedian
- Out Of Armenia, Something New?
- The Armenian Mirror-Spectator: "Why Do We Ignore Ictj's Report On Genocide?" AZG Armenian Daily
- Our Humor Is Just Like Our Country
- Azerbaijani Genocide 31 Mart 1918: Don't Forget Bloodiest Pages Of History By Rovshan Ibrahimov
- Countering AKP Propaganda by Michael van der Galien
Monument to Symbolize Peace, Unity by Vercihan Ziflioglu,
April 10, 2008, ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Kars is the city which is closest to Armenia from Turkey. Mehmet Aksoy, a prominent Turkish artist, designed a sculpture and called it the ‘Paragon of Humanity.’ A 130-m high monument will be erected on top of Kazıktepe Hill situated just across the ancient castle of Kars. It will be a symbol of peace
Setting sail from Turkey's eastern province of Kars, a call for peace and friendship will reach, wave after wave, the Republic of Armenia, and from there to every corner of the Caucasus.
Kars is the closest point in Turkey to Armenia. From Kars, the two countries are only a half hour apart. Despite that, the people of the two countries do not know each other and, because of that, mutual prejudices can never be overcome. This is because close contact is not possible between the two peoples, Turks and the Armenians. Leaving aside the diplomatic and political problems between Turkey and modern-day Armenia, the largest problem between the two societies is an absolute failure to establish a dialogue between Turks and Armenians. At this point, civil society initiatives and artists from both countries have much to do.
Mehmet Aksoy, a prominent Turkish artist, arguably one of the world's greatest sculptors, is readying what he calls the “Paragon of Humanity,” a 130-meter high monument to be erected atop Kazıktepe Hill situated across from the ancient castle of Kars. About 14 meters of the monument has so far been completed. A “V” symbolizing peace will rise toward the sky from a spot four meters from the monument. Tears, symbolizing pain, will fall from the eyes of the Paragon and will be visible from all of Armenia and the Caucasus. These teardrops will glitter with the help of laser lights at night.
Aksoy, speaking to the Turkish Daily News, said, “we Turks and Armenians are sisters and brothers. Now, it is time for both of us to open our hearts to each other and heal our traumas.” Aksoy's greatest dream is to see yet another peace and friendship monument rise from Armenian side, opposite the “Paragon of Humanity.”
The opening ceremony for the “Paragon of Humanity” will be held on Sept. 1,World Peace Day. “I would like to invite my family and world-famous musician Bob Dylan, whose ancestors migrated from the Kağızman district of Kars a few generations ago, to the opening ceremony for the Paragon,” said Aksoy and added, “Dylan is also from a family of Armenian descent.”
Hands to reach peace
The idea of a Paragon first appeared on the agenda three years ago. Then it became a project with the initiative of Kars Mayor Naif Alibeyoğlu. Aksoy said the project was suspended for a period due to prejudices and opposing views of some groups. Despite that, Aksoy did not suspend his studies and continued to produce projects regarding the Paragon, even though he thought turning his idea of the “Paragon of Humanity” into reality was no more than a dream. Aksoy explained his attitude; “Brothers have been enemies to each other since the time of Abel (Habil) and Cain (Qabil). Now, it is time for peace between the brothers.”
Aksoy designed the “Paragon of Humanity” in the form of a human body divided in half. Two halves of the same body will be positioned to look at each other face to face and a wall will rise in the middle. A hand will reach out to the sky. “The hand will serve as a call for amity and humanity,” he said and added that he has faced problems from some circles that have speculated about the Paragon's hand. Aksoy said, replying to negative comments about it, “the extended hand belongs to the body divided into two halves. That is to say, the hand belongs to neither of the parts. It is the part of a single body.”
Gender of the huge sculpture will be uncertain. Aksoy said his aim in doing that was to attract attention to the phenomenon of “human.” A teardrop, nine-meters in diameter, will fall from the Paragon's eye. “Teardrops are falling down from the eyes of God for the cruelty that one brother commits against another,” said Aksoy and noted that holy books were the source of his inspiration.
‘I am tied from the bottom of my heart to people of this land'
“Hostility between Turks and Armenians has been perpetually fuelled,” said Aksoy, and he hoped for a victory of “love” soon. Living in Berlin for many years, the artist said, “Rums [Greeks with Turkish nationality] and Armenians were my best friends during all those years that I was far away from my home country. Those people are still tied from the bottom of their hearts to Turkey. And so am I.”
For Aksoy, problems similar to those between Turks and Armenians can also be seen all around the world. He said the basic reason for those problems is a lack of belief and love and added, “Man has produced incredible technology but has failed to take even a tiny step in the name of humanity and love.” External interventions further fuel the problems between Turks and Armenians, said Aksoy. “If they leave us alone with each other, we would definitely overcome our problems. But this does not suit some people's interests.”
Aksoy has already begun talking with local residents about his sculpture. “I tell them about love and friendship, that we have lived on the same land for centuries.” He concluded, “let's embrace each other, no matter who is Turk, who is Armenian or who is Kurd. As an artist, I just would like to hope. It is impossible for me to live without hope.”
Mehmet Aksoy was born in Hatay in 1939. In 1969, he attended the Istanbul Fine Arts Academy Sculpture Department. With a state scholarship, he went to London to continue his education in 1972. Between 1972 and 1978, he served as a founding member and president of the Berlin Association of Turkish Academician Artists. Aksoy is the recipient of several national and international awards, such as the second-place prize in the Luthar Platz Sculptural Competition (1982), the second-place prize in the Bundengartenschen Sculptural Competition (1985) and the Rumi Peace Award.
Impressions from Armenia
Because of the border between Armenia and Turkey is closed, the Turkish goods are transported to Armenia via Georgia with trucks.
Stating that he has been transporting goods to the region since 1993 and they have been bringing every kind of goods including refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine as well as construction equipments and textile, and also they have not been experiencing serious security problems throughout their activities in Armenia and the political problems among the two countries are not reflected to commercial life, Erdoğan Kibar, who works at the Turkish truck garage at Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, said: “The owner of the truck garage is an Armenian. Nevertheless, he pays attention to our problems and shows warm interest towards us.”
Noting that approximately 500 Turkish trucks enter Armenia via Georgia in a month, Kibar stated that generally Armenian origin Turkish citizens are active in the region, moreover, it is possible to run into every kind of Turkish products at the Armenian market and also they take unprocessed leather to Turkey from Armenia.
While talking about his social relations in Armenia, Erdoğan Kibar, said: “We sometimes visit Armenian families and establish good friendship here. We freely walk around the streets and shop at the markets. However, we still feel restlessness due to being in Armenia.”
The other Turkish drivers at the garage stated that they do not have a serious security problem and they also have a nice social life here. The drivers expressed their wish for a Turkish embassy to be opened at Yerevan.
Kibar, who indicates that they also have to obey the rules in Armenia like in every country expressed that they only lacked a Turkish Consulate.
Erdoğan Kibar said: “We do not have a place to resort when we encounter a problem and we do not know where we can take service for the procedures that should be done at the consulate.”
The name of the major wholesale trade, which is done in the capital city Yerevan is “Malatya Bazaar”. Karapet Gevorgyan, who is a wholesale trader at the bazaar, when the Armenians who inhabited in Malatya emigrated here all together the bazaar was called as “Malatya Bazaar”.
Expressing that it was inhabited to bring Turkish goods to Armenia for the last year, Gevorgyan stated that this was also connected to political causes, and there are serious legal deficiencies and disorder and everyone is attempting to hold on at the market by means of illegal ways.
Pointing out that he has been doing commercial activities in the region for long years after he came from Turkey and settled to Armenia, Gevorgyan stated that he was not welcomed by Armenian society. Gevorgyan noted that some of them are having difficulty at understanding that Armenians still live in Turkey, and due to these kinds of reasons they are experiencing serious difficulties at their social life.
The population in Armenia is struggling to make a living rather than following political problems. Anna Gukasyan, an Armenin citizen, who is 42, and living in the capital city Yerevan, noted that she has been making a living by bringing oranges from Mersin and selling them up till the previous year, and now she is unemployed and struggling against the heavy living conditions.
Indicating that the population’s agenda is occupied by struggling to make a living rather than the political problems, Anna said: “We are not prejudiced against Turkey. We wish the border gate between the two countries would open soon.”
Clarifying that there are lots of Turkish goods at the Armenian market, Gukasyan told that the quality of the product that is brought from Turkey is better than the ones brought from Iran and for this reason people generally prefer to buy Turkish products, which has higher quality.
Explaining that struggling to make a living is getting increasingly hard, Artur, 38, who is another Armenian citizen, stated that a liter of gasoline is above 1 Dollar and the highest retirement salary is 25 Dollars (29 YTL).
Expressing that they do not have any trouble with electricity or natural gas, Artur expressed that they wish the problems between Turkey and Armenia would be solved soon and the borders would be opened.
Noting that he is not disturbed from the Turkish products that are sold at the market, Artur said: “I am interested in the quality of the product as a person who makes conscious shopping.”
The Armenians, who did not wish conflict anymore in the region and stated that they believe that the problems would be solved soon between the countries, stressed that they demand a life with stability, peace and quiet.
Pointing out that they have been living with Azerbaijanis at Karabakh for a long time, Akopyan Makorovyan, an Armenian citizen, who is 82, said: “All of you are close to me like my grand children. We do not wish to pour out tears and blood any longer.”
Speaking in Azerbaijani and indicating that she was a teacher when she was young, Akopyan Makorovyan, expressed that she wished all people at the region should be in friendly relations by living everything aside, which had occurred in the past.
Particularly young generation, attract attention with their stylish way of dressing at the capital city Yerevan, which has a modern appearance. The buildings, which are illuminated in the evenings attaches magnificence to the city, which does not have any trouble with energy procurement. However, traces of poverty can be observed at the slums.
Source: Anadolu Agency-24-25.01.2008
Turkish Americans, Armenians, Justin Paul's Article, And ‘Calmness' by Gunay Evinch ATAA President-Elect
Letters To The Editor / TDN, April 9, 2008
Justin Paul's Article in the Turkish Daily News, “Turks need a calmer approach to counter Armenian claims,” (April 1, 2008) was a welcomed critique by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), but can benefit from some corrections and depth, as well as mention of some “calm” strategies the ATAA is implementing
First, it should be noted that the ATAA is not a lobby, i.e., it does not support or oppose specific legislation or political candidates. ATAA, run and operated by dedicated volunteers, is a non-profit organization which provides education on issues that effect U.S.-Turkish relations. We hope that by bringing balance to the debate, Americans will make educated decisions that strengthen and promote U.S.-Turkish relations.
The ATAA practices assertive and calm education and advocacy, taking Jewish American non-profits as a model. During the debate on the Armenian Resolution, last October, the ATAA convened all Washington Turkish American organizations, both secular and faith-based, visited all 437 Congressional offices, and explained why the events of 1915 do not constitute genocide, why a legislature should not sit in the seat of prosecutor and judge, and why the United States must treat Turkey fairly and justly.
Regarding Taner Akcam's, “A Shameful Act,” the ATAA researched and published a scholarly critique that is downloadable at www.ATAA.org. Turkish Americans provide the critiques to libraries, scholars and local leaders nationwide.
To protect freedom of speech, the ATAA filed a civil rights lawsuit against the State of Massachusetts whose school curriculum guide censors the work of scholars who disagree with the Armenian allegation of genocide.
Paul writes that is a misrepresentation to state that terrorism by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) continues to the present. But, modern terrorism is far more than physical attacks; it is creation of a mental and emotional state of fear. Following over 230 attacks the killed more than 70 and injured more than 700, in 2001 ASALA started to reorganize and issue threats.
And, as recently as 2001, weapons, ammunition and explosives connected to the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) were discovered in a storage facility near Cleveland. In January 2001, Mourad Topalian, former JCAG leader and Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) was connected to the storage facility and at least four terror attacks, and convicted of weapons and explosives charges. To make sure that he received the maximum sentence for his crimes, the ATAA submitted to the federal court a Victims Impact Statement, also downloadable at www.ATAA.org.
As Armenian American groups such as the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have refused to condemn Armenian terrorism, and have even honored Armenian terrorists, unfortunately hate crimes and racial threats against Turkish Americans have increased. The ATAA now keeps an archive of affidavits of victims of Armenian terrorism, hate crimes and hate speech.
In the end, we must keep in mind the human context. When Jewish Americans are attacked as aggressively as Turkish Americans are attacked by Armenian activists, they characterize the offense as anti-semitic. Similarly, Turkish Americans feel the racism and suffer emotional distress. Turkish Americans express their anger, fear and distress in many ways, some of which are not “calm,” but all of which are protected under freedom of speech, though not perfectly persuasive.
For this reason, ATAA President Nurten Ural commenced the Gaining Power through Grassroots Advocacy program by which ATAA is visiting over 40 local Turkish American organizations and hundreds of Turkish Americans nationwide, to help Turkish Americans channel their energy toward more productive advocacy. And, it seems to be working, as the Armenian media recently recognized that the Turkish American community in Washington has become a “more formidable rival.”
Gunay Evinch, ATAA President-Elect, Fulbright Scholar in International Law, US
Pre-election Sociology and Post-election Psychology By Hrach Bayadyan
Armenia is witnessing the dawning of a period of gloom. The indications of this are numerous - the incessant persecution of those in any way linked to the Movement, the continued labeling of a `certain segment of the nation' and its leaders, the detention of people either strolling, reading or playing chess along Northern Avenue and the interrogation of schoolchildren participating in local protests in Vanatur.
It particularly manifests itself in the increase in the number of those speaking on behalf of the nation and those either making pleas, sounding the alarm or wildly ranting in the name of the nation. Even during the days of the State of Emergency the pages of the press were open to them, as well as the television and radio outlets.
Suddenly, one day they (those who now speak on behalf of the nation) discovered that in `our nation' there was a 21% segment of our politically active electorate that had been `zombified', who were `suffering from memory loss and who were driven by the rage to `destroy'. This 21% group had the potential to betray the nation and they were overwhelmed with `righteous anger' regarding this fact.
Here are some examples of the language employed by those speaking on behalf of the nation. `We call on all patriotic forces to struggle against the movement of Levon Ter-Petrosyan that is detrimental to the nation'; `We must create a patriotic and a national opposition' (the words of G. Sargsyan and Hayk Babukhyan); `...Azerbaijan is overjoyed that Levon Ter-Petrosyan has succeeded in splitting the Armenian nation into pieces, of breaking its backbone. This is treason. And today, I am even more concerned that the events that have taken place can have much more severe consequences in terms of national preservation than we can imagine today' (Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan). In a word, patriotism, or more correctly, love of one's nation, has again become the fashion of the day.
What has evolved is something akin to a post-socialist form of post-modernism where everything is referenced from the Soviet-era without distinction (the formula sometimes used is, `socialist in form, national in content'; a formula which has been turned completely around from the original). As a result, we have witnessed everything from widespread interrogations and arrests, to people being called `traitors to the nation' and extending to a variety of absurd reminisces like `the years of stagnation'. There are of course differences between what is taking place now and the past. The dissidents of today have still not been carted off to the psycho ward and for the most part it has been sufficient to label them as `victims of psychological diversion' or `individuals who have been lobotomized'. During the Soviet era people were tracked down for reading books that were banned. Today, the reading of books at certain locations is banned. On the other hand, it's not clear why they don't interrogate the school kid from Gyumri who's donated 100 drams of his milk money to the GALA TV fundraiser or why they don't arrest the villager who walks several miles to Gyumri to donate a portion of his meager pension to that same fundraiser. For aren't these actions equally subversive as the others?
It's been evident for some time now that sociology in Armenia has become a `pre-election science'. What's new is the use of psychology in the post-election phase, to explain everything that sociology couldn't predict or foresee in the first place. Putting it another way, if Armenian sociology explains the `norms' then the need was felt for psychology and psychologists to interpret the dangerous `deviations' or `anomalies' not accounted for. `They accept all gods without question. It's a form of hypnosis which leads to destruction' (Karen Nalchajyan). The victory of Serzh Sargsyan, in these terms, was sociological, and that of Levon Ter-Petrosyan was psychological (with a negative connotation).
It's really not important who started the whole campaign of psychological `explanations', but in the February 21st edition of `Azg', on the day after the first public rally following the election, there were already hints of the psychological commentary to follow in the questions posed by reporter Susanna Margaryan to a psychologist. Here are some examples of her questions: `Is it possible that a person imbued with the qualities of a leader could possess more undesirable (I won't say dangerous) opinions than any other candidate possessing beneficial opinions but having a weaker charisma?'... `I propose to speak in general terms, about the mass suggestion imparted to the crowd'... `Is it possible to keep a large segment of the electorate inspired for a given length of time?'. And if Albert Nalchajyan's answers didn't clearly correspond to then expectations of the reporter, a few days later, on February 27th at the `Hayatsk' club, Karineh Nalchajyan, another psychologist, explained everything that was possible to explain. She particularly described the various psychological devices used to influence the consciousness of the society and explained that for ten years straight Levon Ter-Petrosyan had been working to master those devices.
On the other hand, psychologist Samvel Khudoyan had the following to say in response to the same reporter from `Azg' - `Such manipulation can be achieved by anyone who wishes to exploit another for his own ambitions. Such forms of manipulation are carried out during the elections of any given country. The only difference is that in the civilized world such crude manipulations (ballot stuffing, psychological intimidation and physical force) are replaced by more refined forms,
But such sober evaluations didn't correspond to the official version of things. The Public Prosecutor asserted, for example, that psychological offensive had been continuously unleashed on the people attending the rallies. In similar cases the exact wording used speaks about `widespread memory loss' and `general hypnosis'. If government officials and political and party operatives didn't have the opportunity of expressing sociological knowledge when making insights, then, the psychological factor was clearly abused in the post-election answers. All this ultimately reached ridiculously comical levels and in this regard the satirical comments of Matthew Bryce were quite tame.
I don't know exactly how many people believe this psychological hypothesis but let me give one example of a similar type of reasoning. The reporter asks the following: `Most of the protestors had rallied around the former president not because they shared the ideas of Ter-Petrosyan but because they were displeased with the regime'. Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan replies that, `Yes, those hypnotized people followed Levon's rhetoric, without listening to what he was saying.' It would appear that here the political commentator was just as `hypnotized' since he didn't hear the question asked of him.
In all these explanations the Armenian language is imperceptibly being cheapened. Given the very modest capabilities of both the current president and the president -elect regarding literate Armenian speech, well thought out language and the mastery of oratory, diversionary means and manipulation are being declared.
Even while speaking about important social issues and the many other reasons (the corruption, injustice and illegality that is pervasive in the country) that could have fueled this social rebellion, they refuse to credit the Movement with any positive connotation. Here's another quote from Karineh Nalchajyan, `The authorities were shaken and understood that things couldn't continue as such, that the floodwaters could rise and destroy everything.»
If Ter-Petrosyan is completely being demonized and equated with evil, those around him are being stripped of the most basic of things, i.e., logic, the ability to resist manipulation and comprehending what's best for the nation. According to Aram G. Sargsyan, «If they had used reason they would have all together ruled out the possibility of voting for Ter-Petrosyan.» Accordingly, the entire Movement was one big irrational outburst, devoid of any constructive attributes.
Of course, they forget to note the following clearly self-evident points in their explanations - the government's use of overwhelming force on the morning of March 1st in Freedom Square and that the division of society, its extreme polarization into the haves and the have-nots, took place during Kocharyan's term in office. It is understandable that they do not speak in terms of a civil society, democratic principles and other such things. The uniting factor is the nation - thus the terms «traitor of the nation», «national cleavage» and «defense of the national psyche». Ethnic commonality then, in and of itself, becomes the self-evident and absolute principle for unity. The term «we» is constantly bandied about and almost unconsciously used by many people - «our nation», «our people», «our shameful first day of spring», «our disgrace».... Again they forget to mention anything about the society. (Parenthetically, what is the function of sociology in all this when there is no society to speak of, where there isn't even a minimum of correlation to that type of society that gave birth to the science of sociology in the first place, to interpret that same society?)
On March 19th, the reporter from the daily newspaper «Azg» proposes another explanation. Taking into account that Ter-Petrosyan's «promise to destroy and demolish was sufficient to gather such a respectable portion of the electorate around him», he asks, «Where does the frenzy, either latent or manifest, spring >From to arouse this intent «to destroy?» Answering his own question he explains, «The main reason is our centuries-old lack of statehood.»
I would like to refer to another excerpt from the above-mentioned interview given by Samvel Khudoyan in which he asserts that Armenians possess «traits specific to the Asiatic mentality». These are «servility, provincialism, the mind-set of the serf, toadyism». I have one important reservation. I believe that the «Asiatic mentality» isn't the reason. Rather, I would like to substitute the euphemism «lack of statehood» with a term accepted and understood by all - subjugation. It has been the Armenian people's longstanding colonial subjugation, rather than the «frenzy to destroy», that has instilled the above-mentioned qualities into many of our people, qualities that have been passed down through the generations. Thank God, however, these qualities are not found in everyone and in everybody.
L.A. Times Errs by Providing Platform to Turkish Denialists By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Just when The Los Angeles Times -- after a series of misjudgments by previous editors -- had developed an improved sensitivity on the Armenian Genocide, a new editor comes along and offends the Armenian community once again -- andof all months, in the month of April!
The Times posted on April 2 on its website -- but thankfully did not include it in its printed edition - "a partial transcript of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations' meeting with The Times editorial board." The introductory note further stated: "Leaders of an umbrella group for Turkish-American groups stopped by The Times recently to discuss the debate over the Armenian genocide, Turkey's membership in the European Union and quashing Kurdish separatism in northern Iraq. Below are highlights from that meeting."
The transcript listed the participants as Tim Cavanaugh, the Web editor of The Times opinion page, Nurten Ural, President of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), Ahmet Atahan, President of Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California, and Allison Block, Advocacy Director of ATAA. It is extremely disappointing and disturbing that the editorial board of The Times would welcome a group of genocide denialists to its headquarters, particularly since the newspaper has an unequivocal policy of recognizing the indisputable facts of the Armenian Genocide. To make matters worse, the newspaper posted the Turkish denials on its website, thereby giving them a platform to disseminate their lies worldwide. This is akin to inviting a group of neo-Nazis for a meeting with the editorial board of The Times "to discuss the debate over the Jewish Holocaust" and then post their revisionist statements on the newspaper's website!
The only explanation -- which can not be misconstrued as a justification for such an irresponsible behavior -- could be that one of the highly paid American public relations firms hired by the Turkish government arranged this editorial board meeting. David Hiller, the Publisher of The Times, should investigate this scandalous episode and provide an explanation along with an apology to the Armenian community.
Mr. Cavanaugh opened the meeting with the following statement: "The L.A. Times is on record as supporting the term genocide to describe whatever it is that happened in the early part of the 20th century." Mr. Cavanaugh displayed his total insensitivity to the Armenian Genocide by describing it as "whatever it is that happened." Would he have described the Holocaust as "whatever it is that happened to the Jews?" He then asked the Turkish group for their viewson the Armenian Genocide.
Mr. Ural, after repeating the standard Turkish distortions of the Armenian Genocide, made the following ridiculous statement: "Some of my best friendsare Armenians. Secretly, they come to us, openly, publicly, they refuse to cometo us."
Mr. Cavanaugh was then quoted as making the following very strange statement to the Turkish group: "They [Armenians] can come in and make their own case." If The Times wanted to invite an Armenian-American group for an editorial board meeting, the editors know how to contact the community leaders. They should not have to hear of such an invitation from reading the transcript of a meeting with a contingent of Turkish denialists.
Mr. Cavanaugh seemed quite well-informed on Armenian issues, however, when he told the Turkish group: "What you hear from Armenian groups is, you know, when you say debate, the response to that is, 'Well, we don't ask Jewish groups to come in and debate German groups about whether the Holocaust happened. And why should we be subject to that =80¦ sort of self justification?'" That is an accurate observation about the Armenian position on this issue.
Mr. Cavanaugh then resorted to the standard trick of trying to divide the Diaspora from Armenia on the Genocide issue when he told the Turks: "We hadthe Armenian prime minister in a few months back, and he suggested=80¦ we're talking about Armenian Americans, right? Because =80¦ the prime minister discussed the idea that this is something that gets people exercised more in the Diasporathan it does in Armenia itself =80¦." In reality, according to the transcript of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan's October 19, 2007 meeting with the L.A. Times editorial board, when he was asked, "Why does this issue [genocide] matter more to Armenian-Americans than to Armenians?" he answered: "I wouldn't say it is more important for the Armenian Americans than for the Armenian Armenians -- I think for all the Armenians in the world this issue is very important. But for one part of our people this problem was more important because it concerned themselves immediately." Mr. Cavanaugh was present at that meeting.
Allison Block, the rookie advocacy director of ATAA, responded to Mr. Cavanaugh by contradicting herself. While agreeing with the claim that the genocide is a Diaspora issue, she made the illogical assertion that should the U.S. Congress recognize the Armenian Genocide at the urging of Armenian-Americans, Turkey will punish Armenia by keeping its border closed.
Finally, Mr. Cavanaugh asked "Why would [Armenian Americans] push the [genocide] issue?" Mr. Ural interestingly answered: "Land. Money." Mr. Ural is correct. Armenians demand just compensation for their losses. Why shouldn't Armenians ask for what is rightfully theirs? The descendants of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust properly received billions of dollars for their horrible losses. Armenians deserve no less.
Armenian Minister From Turkey Will Keynote Genocide Month Gathering In Fresno
FRESNO - An Armenian pastor whose ministry is based in the Republic of Turkey will speak at the oldest Armenian Church in the State of California on April 29.
Reverend Krikor Aghabaloghlu will keynote the Spring 2008 Dinner of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church Men's Fellowship.
The dinner event, honoring the faith and sacrifices of the Armenian Martyrs of 1915, will take place on April 29, at the church campus, 430 South First Street at Huntington Boulevard in Fresno.
The keynote speaker was born in 1957 in Arapkir, Turkey near the confluence of the Eastern and Western branches of the Euphrates Rivers. After receiving his early education in his native city and Malatya Province, Aghabaloghlu matriculated at the University of Istanbul, a state institution dating to A.D. 1453. He majored in the history of Turkey as an undergraduate and receiveda Bachelors of Education Degree in 1979.
Some years later, Aghabaloghlu completed graduate work at the Bitinia Bible School of Istanbul. In September 1999, the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East granted him a license to preach and perform the Sacraments at the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedik Pasha, Kumkapi, Istanbul. Three years later he was ordained a Minister of the Word and Sacraments and continues to serve as pastor of the Gedik Pasha congregation. He is married to the former Maria Semerji and they have two children.
Founded in 1850, the Gedik Pasha church is one of the oldest Armenian Evangelical houses of worship in Turkey and was the home church of the lateHrant Dink, founding editor of the influential Agos Weekly .newspaper. In 2005, the Turkish national television channel, Flash TV, invited Aghabaloghlu to participate in a five-hour live talk show on the topic of the Armenian Genocide. The young pastor had once been jailed for challenging the confiscation of church property by the authorities. Shocking his broadcasthosts, he told viewers there was no doubt genocide had occurred and that citizens of Anatolia knew the truth about the subject. He insisted that a member of the clergy has the obligation to tell the truth and he refused to allow himselfto be silenced.
The host congregation in Fresno has its roots in the Ottoman Empire of 19th Century Turkey. On July 25, 1897, 40 immigrants from Marsovan, a town in the Central Black Sea region, chartered the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno. The boyhood church of authors William Saroyan and A.I. Bezzerides, FAPC today has a multigenerational congregation drawn from the Old and New Worlds.
Reverend Mgrdich Melkonian is the Senior Pastor, Reverend Aren Balabanian is the Associate Pastor, and Edward N. Esajian is Chair of the FAPC Men's Fellowship Executive Committee.
The California Courier Online
Problem With 'Modern' Turks Is... They Are Outdated by Ziya MERAL
April 8, 2008
What is described as a 'modern' outlook in Turkey is often nothing but the banal repetition of outdated enlightenment ideals
The English word “modern” has made its way into colloquial Turkish and is used interchangeably with its direct Turkish equal, “çag(das,,” which literally means “of the era.” Though the word “modern” in English still maintains the connotation of something that is up to date, such as a modern kitchen, it also signifies something belonging to modernity and modernism as the social condition and philosophy, which dominated late 19th and most of the 20th century.In many ways, the “modern” is really no more “çag(das,.” We live in a completely different social condition, shaped by a completely different philosophy. Therefore, if I were to compliment an intellectual with the word “modern” today, it would be more of an insult. I would be suggesting that his or her ideas and reactions are passé and naïve, if not backward. Similarly, when a building is called “modern” in architecture, it refers to the concrete lumps of the previous century, which were built with the ideals of managing human beings as effectively as possible while maximizing cost and benefit, with no consideration of aesthetics and quality of life whatsoever.
Interestingly, when the word “modern” is used in Turkish, it is always a complement. Its unique use as a positive adjective includes a “modern person” and “modern society.” However, when we look at what a person must believe or do in order to be called “modern,” an irony surfaces. What is described as a “modern” outlook in Turkey is often nothing than the banal repetition of outdated Enlightenment ideals. Some of the “modern” myths that linger among us in their full pride are:* A country can only survive if it is a homogenized nation state that has to assimilate any different identity into a well-defined single type. Any element of difference -- language, ethnicity, religion and opinion -- is a threat to its existence. * Citizens are part of a foolish herd that must be led, controlled and managed for their own sake, even against their own wishes.* The goal of education is to produce non-questioning and easily controllable citizens. * Religious beliefs belong to the “dark ages.” If only we have more education and science, they would die out and everyone would be atheists. For now, we should make sure that it is limited to personal space. These “modern” beliefs were, in fact, the glimpse of heaven promised by the “çag(das,” men of the 19th century. Yet, where we stand today is far from the anticipated Shangri-La.The modern vision is the very reason why the 20th century was one of the darkest ages of history. “Modern” ideals and know-how are two sizes too small for today's ever-obese global reality. As every futile attempt to cover global rips with local patches shows, we can no more share the optimism of the “modern” man who thinks, if only we have the commitment and strength, our future would be bright. The only one who is not aware of this is the “modern” man. He walks our streets, full of himself, confident of the future that awaits him at the end of his path, like a sleepwalking French man who is consumed by his daydream that his culture, language and values present the pinnacle of human civilization, which everyone else envies or aspires to reach. One must be careful not to honor the “modern” man with the status of the lovable, but naïve, Don Quixote. “Modern” man is often dangerous, aggressive and poisoned by his self-confidence. He is loud and distractive, and if he only has his way, he will easily move beyond good and evil and push his black and white homogenized pill down our throats.
We need less ‘modern'
Turks:It is because we have so many “modern” Turks around that we are distracted from breaking the all-too-human cycles of Armenian-Turkish, Kurdish-Turkish, Secularist-Islamist conflicts. It is because of the “modern” vision that non-Muslims of Turkey have to continue to live in daily fear that at any moment a “modern” man who has the courage to face the challenge may put a bullet in their heads. It is because of the “modern” academics of our nation that Turkish universities, with the noble exception of a handful, are gigantic and distasteful sausage machines that produce non-analytical and démodé “modern” copycats. It is because of the “modern” leaders of our country that we face the risk of turning into an Amish or Hasidic community stuck in history, thinking that a certain previous century, with its aims, dress, language and strategies was the only and ideal ‘pure' and ‘real' moment. So what we need least are more “modern” Turks. It is time for us to learn to see today's world as it is and not through outdated ideals. We urgently need more “çag(das,” Turks, who are able to look beyond the clichés of a past century and lead our nation to safety in this increasingly bleak age. We need high caliber pioneers, just like Mustafa Kemal was in his “çag(” (era)
Ziya Meral is a researcher on Middle East minorities and a writer. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Armenia's Central Bank Chief Set To Be New PM
The party of Armenia's president-elect, Serzh Sarksyan, said on Tuesday it would back the chief of the central bank to be the new prime minister.
The prime minister's job will be vacant from today when Serzh Sarksyan, who currently holds the post, is sworn in as president of the ex-Soviet state in the Caucasus mountains. Sarksyan's Republican Party said it would back 48-year-old Tigran Sarksyan, chairman of the central bank since 1998, for the job. The two men are not related. "If Tigran Sarksyan is put forward as a candidate for the post of prime minister, I anticipate that our party will support it," party spokesman Spartak Seyranyan said. Under the Armenian constitution the president proposes the prime minister, but parliament then has to vote on the candidate. The Republican party won 65 seats out of 131 seats in last May's parliamentary election. Two other parties in the ruling coalition also indicated they would support Sarksyan for the premiership. Serzh Sarksyan won a presidential election in February which his opponents said he rigged. He ordered a 20-day state of emergency on March 1 when eight protesters died in clashes with police in the capital.
09.04.2008 Reuters Yerevan
Many Knesset Members Rate Armenian Genocide Recognition To Moral Duty
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Discussion of the Armenian Genocide in Israel’s Knesset is an extraordinary phenomenon and we are hopeful for a logical development, Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Director Kiro Manoyan told a news conference in Yerevan.
“All parties represented in the Knesset voted for introduction of the issue into the agenda. Discussions will start in May, after the vacation. The issue will be possibly transferred from the committee on education to the committee on security. Knesset member Haim Oron and Hay Dat Jerusalem Office are working for the same purpose,” he said, adding, “Many Knesset members rate the Armenian Genocide recognition to their moral duty.”
On March 26, Merets party proposed to put the Armenian Genocide issue on the Knesset’s agenda.
House Vote On Armenian Genocide Resolution Possible Before Summer Vacation
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, has never been removed from agenda, Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Director Kiro Manoyan told a news conference in Yerevan.
“I think that the vote may be held before the Congress goes on the summer vacation,” he said.
The Armenian Genocide Resolution was adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee with a vote 27 to 21 on October 10, 2007. The vote in the full House has not been scheduled yet. Meanwhile, several Congressmen recalled their signatures under pressure of the Turkish lobby.
As to nomination of Marie L. Yovanovitch to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Armenia, Mr Manoyan said, “The Bush administration has probably decided that long absence of Ambassador in Yerevan can affect relations with Armenia and damage U.S. positions in the entire region.”
U.S. Charge d’Affairs, Mr Joseph Pennington has been acting as Ambassador for 18 months already.
An earlier attempt to nominate Amb. Richard Hoagland to replace Amb. Evans was blocked by Sen. Robert Menendez (Dem.-N.J.), to protest the dismissal of Amb. Evans and to object to Amb. Hoagland’s poor choice of words in responding to Senators’ questions on the validity of the Armenian Genocide.
Jewish Community Of Armenia Called On Knesset To Recognize Armenian Genocide
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Jewish community of Armenia has issued an address to the Knesset in regards of the discussions held there last week.
“Discussion of the Armenian Genocide issue in the Knesset is an important move in a country whose citizens survived the Holocaust and still suffer from terror,” says the statement PanARMENIAN.Net received from the Jewish community of Armenia.
“Israel has demonstrated the whole world how dear is a human life, how important is the life of each Jew. Everyone who dares to attempt these lives are given a proper response. Each nation honors its past. Armenians have been for 93 years mourning for the innocent humans slaughtered in the Ottoman Empire.
“To condole is in nature of noble people. Blackmailing the whole humanity, threatening and choking with their invented stories, barbarians are eager for new blood. It’s high time to put an end to this. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the most atrocious crime of the 20th century, will be a manifestation of a civilized society, unity of sense and world. This is our debt of honor to the dead. This is your responsibility for the growing generation and your voters.
“Our future is in your hands. Demonstrating solidarity, strength, wisdom in unanimous condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, you will be ennobled by your heirs. So, be kind and human. We are convinced that majority of Islamic people are civilized, peaceful and conscious people wishing to get rid of the stigma of the past. We will help them by taking a fair decision. We call on you to be reasonable and adopt a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide,” the statement says.
Young Armenians Demand Dialogue
The outcome of the presidential election in Armenia, which is the only country that gives cold shoulder to Turkey’s “Zero problems with the neighbors” approach, could change this situation. A sample civil initiative, which brought the youngsters of the two countries, gave hopes for a dialogue.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan mentioned at the press conference in Davos that the relations between Turkey and Armenia could follow a more positive course from now on and cooperation can come on the agenda. Babacan was mentioning that a dialogue and cooperation atmosphere can come on the agenda following the presidential elections that will be organized on 19 February in Armenia. Because the existing President Robert Koçaryan, who is known with his hard core attitude against Turkey, has not attended the elections, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisyan was nominated as a candidate from the radical wing instead of him. The strongest candidate of the opposition is Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the first president of the country. Contrary to the existing office in power, Petrosyan voices that both the question of the invasion of the Upper Karabagh and the question of Turkey can be solved with peaceful methods. This was the fact that lied beneath Babacan’s hopeful speech.
Armenia is the only country, which does not take a positive respond to Turkey’s “Zero problems with the neighbors” approach since 2003. However, Turkey was one of the first countries that recognized her declaration when she gained her independence from Russia in 1991. Later, the issues like the invasion of Azerbaijan and the so-called genocide have destroyed the friendship between the two countries.
Even though there is no positive respond from Yerevan to Ankara’s moderate offers, nowadays, Armenian people establish hopeful cooperation, which demonstrate that they are not closed to a dialogue. The distance that is taken at the project, which is supported by the EU funds and that is prepared by a group of Armenians, who would like establish dialogue with Turks, has been one of the most significant indicators of this. A distance was taken for establishing civil dialogue bridges among the two countries with the project that lasted for almost 4 months.
The project for “Encouraging the Dialogue between Turkish-Armenian Youth” which was prepared by Urban Foundation for Steady Development (UFSD) in 2007 and presented to EU, EU Neighborhood Policy Fund can allocate a support of 25 thousand Dollars. So, UFSD contacted the Association for Marmara Educators for Turkey (MED) of the project. 20 Armenian youngsters are brought to Turkey in the context of the project of MED and UFSD. Most of the attendees, who came to Turkey for the first time, were taken to historical places, and a seminar was given for them on Turkey-EU relations…
At the second phase of the project, a Turkish delegation consistent of Tolga Saatçioğlu, who runs the project in the name of MED, Armenian Expert Assistant Professor Cafer Ulu and Salim Kocabaş, the project adviser, went to Armenia. During the contacts, which continued for a week, they toured and examined Gümrü and the bordering cities, and primarily Yerevan. In the context of the study, interviews were held with almost 100 persons from both countries on the course of the Turkish-Armenian relations. These interviews were full of quite positive messages.
Salim Kocabaş, the project consultant, stated that the study, which can be characterized as “a first step”, has resulted to be fruitful. Kocabaş (35), a technical teacher for ten years, has conducted 6 different projects and involved in 10 different projects with EU funds until today. The UFSD officials, in fact, had reached the MED project commission via the contact information of the other projects that was conducted by Kocabaş: “We accepted the project that was presented to us by UFSD without any hesitation since the goal of the project is developing a dialogue between Turkey and Armenia. This was an civil attempt that was not tried before.”
Armen Varosyan, the Project Director of Armenia, stated they aimed at starting a civil dialogue process among the two countries. Varosyan, who is one of the Armenians that has got in touch with the Turks for the first time in the framework of the project, had been influenced from the cosmopolitan structure of Istanbul: The people from Istanbul met us warmer than I thought. The culture of Armenians is very close to Turks’. The young generations do not know each other. We wanted to bring the youngsters together with this project. Because, this is the only way how young generations can show empathy for each other. Also, these kind of studies, will surely develop inter governmental relations. Varosyan, who stated that he received extremely positive messages due to the project, said: “In fact, everyone was expecting a dialogue atmosphere such as this one.”
Tigran Petrosyan, one of the attendees of the project, considered that the process should continue with the new projects. He stressed that the young generation of both countries could talk on the issues without prejudices and reach to more positive results compared to the politicians.
The project, which does not have a political target and is based on a dialogue atmosphere, was regarded as positive at both sides. The four phases of the mentioned study, which can be characterized as the first of its kind, was completed without encountering any problem. In the context of the project, both the Armenian youth and the Turkish delegation had a chance to make clear observations. Socio-economical information has been obtained on the regions during the trips.
According to Assistant Professor Cafer Ulu, who is an expert on Armenia, and who is one of the members of the Turkish delegation that went to Yerevan, the project is an important starting point: “It is was signifivant to establish dialogue without the existence of the third persons via using the same language; Turkish language.”
The Turkish delegation in Yerevan met with kindness that they have never expected. They were offered Turkish tea. The Armenians also preferred “Rize” tea. They had not encountered any negative attitude during the trip. They frequently had the chance to speak Turkish with Armenians in Yerevan. The consultant of the project Salim Kocabaş said: “Knowing Turkish in Armenia is an important privilege. We examined the Islamic Research Center and the Turkish Department of the Yerevan State University. We observed that the Armenians were both interested in Islam and Turkish very much. They are seriously interested in the Turkish language. We met people, who can speak Turkish perfectly well, even though they have never visited Turkey. They only demanded a dictionary of the Ottoman language before we went to Yerevan. The curiosity of the youth for Turkey has really surprised me. You can hear the voice of the Turkish television channels and radios everywhere in Yerevan.
The Turkish delegation, which visited a program of Mig TV, which is based in Vanadzor at the third phase of the project, was surprised by the questions that were directed to them. While the Turkish delegation was expecting questions on the so-called genocide claims, the assassination of Hrant Dink or the relations between the two countries, most of the questions were on Turkey-EU process. The sincerity of the atmosphere had increased when they all spoke in Turkish language. Indicating that he felt he was at a panel in Turkey, Kocabaş said: “The Armenians think that when Turkey becomes a member of EU, she would open her borders and the neighboring relations will be like the one in 1991. As a consequence, they support Turkey’s membership to EU.”
The Turkish delegation agrees the discontent of the young generation over the Diaspora. The ones who live in Armenia are disturbed over Diaspora’s negative attitude even though they do not take any responsibility while they are having economic difficulties. Young Armenians think that Diaspora does nothing but producing legends on the tragedies, instead of producing improvement projects. Almost all of the young generation complains of the Diaspora. Kocabaş said: “The Armenians are saying the following: ‘If they do not take the responsibility, they should not talk.’ The Diaspora, which lives under very good conditions, speaks without taking any responsibility. The ones, who suffer from this, are the ones in Armenia, who have economic difficulties, and Turkey. Especially, the educated ones are aware of this fact. If Diaspora does not involve, then the relations would develop. The Diaspora Armenians, who are about seven million, are active at the politics of the countries like the USA; France and Lebanon.”
The surface of Armenia, which has a population of three million, is 30 thousand kilometers and the country is weak for the underground sources. It’s most significant income is its industry, which produces small part of machine. Turkey’s move for closing the borders, affects the country and especially the bordering cities deeply. Kocabaş stated that the cities, which are far from the bordering regions, cannot even provide its fundamental needs like water. He said: “The trade, which was realized with small busses, which frequently traveled to Turkey prior 1991, was keeping these cities alive. Today, these cities are in extreme poverty. The population of the region is hopefully waiting for the day when the borders would open. The survival of these cities depends on the borders.”
The young generations of both countries believe that the bridge, which is built with the EU funds, should be widened. They are ready to re-unite with the new projects. And as we keep on talking, they perceive the difference between the facts and the things that are told to them. “It is evident that in fact, we have good relations and ready for cooperation. I believe we will reach at the best together. I am very hopeful”, said Marina Arakelyan, a 24-year-old girl. Veronika Hakobyan pointed out the greatness of the positive atmosphere that has been caught with these small steps. And may be the words of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the former President of Armenia, is more meaningful for them now: “It is difficult for Armenia to reach prosperity before a solution is found at the Upper Karabagh and the borders are opened with Turkey.” (*)
It seems like realistic and moderate approaches replace the imaginary and baseless statements. And the biggest share at this belongs to the young generation and no one else, who sides absolute peace and friendship!
Source: (*) Hyetert-05.02.2008
Armenian Genocide Program At Brookdale Community College, Canada
"The Georgetown Boys" musical sponsored by the Center for Holocaust Studies as this year's Annual Armenian Genocide Remembrance Program, will be a story of about 109 young boys who, after being orphaned during the Armenian Genocide, were brought to Canada to be trained as farmers in Georgetown, a suburb of Toronto.
Written and directed by Dr. Herand Markarian, the musical features the Hamazkayin Youth Theater Group of New Jersey. It captures the experiences of the boys as they adapt to a new country thousands of miles from their ancestral homeland. Most of the performers are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors.
Long Branch Middle School Auditorium, 350 Indiana Ave. (corner of Indiana and Bath Avenues).
Pelosi Willing To Bring Armenian Genocide Resolution To House Floor
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Discussion of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106, approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee is still on the agenda, AAA Regional Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh said Friday.
“Ms. Pelosi is willing to bring the Armenian Genocide to House floor. She is just awaiting congressional support essential for passage of the measure,” Arpi Vartanian said.
“The resolution is co-sponsored by 211 Congressmen against the required 218. The Armenian Assembly of America is working for the purpose,” she said, Novosti Armenia reports.
H.Res.106 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 30, 2007. It doesn’t need approval by the Senate or President.
Anatomy Of A Conference : "A Prism Of The South Caucasus Through Perspectives Of Security From Europe Through Turkey To South Caucasus" by Beril Dedeoglu email@example.com
A conference titled "A Prism of the South Caucasus through the Perspectives of Security from Europe through Turkey to South Caucasus" was held at Tbilisi State University on March 27-28.
The first conference in this series took place last year at Galatasaray University and the third and final one will be held in Brussels next year. The aim of the conference is to explore the roles of NATO, the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as regards South Caucasian security issues.
The conference and the elaborate simulation which was held before it were organized by Turkish, Georgian and Azerbaijani students and academics, and the participants were from around the world. The conference was financed by states, NGOs and international organizations and the presentations were made by international security experts.
This conference coincided with NATO's critical Bucharest Summit and as the main theme was security, NATO naturally was a main topic of discussion. However, the background of the speeches was forged by the tensions between the US and Russia, the EU's effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) and the energy issue.
Students' questions to the experts were reflective of their respective states' official positions. They tried to find out whether or not Russia is trying to divide Azerbaijan and/or Georgia; why Turkey is supporting Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue; why the Turkish-Armenian border remains closed; why the EU is not doing enough about the region; and why these three countries are willing to join NATO. The experts' answers to these were quite ambiguous. However, the questions and answers highlighted the dichotomy between pro-Russian and pro-transatlantic attitudes, and the young participants noticed this dichotomy.
When it came to the discussion on finding solutions to the problems of the South Caucasus, the young participants analyzed events through their own individual futures. This realistic approach was based on their desire to pursue lives different than that of previous generations, as young people are tired of bilateral and multilateral problems. Their general belief is that the Bush administration's aggressive policies are inciting Russia to adopt severe measures in response, which is destabilizing the region. This period of aggression is harmful to efforts aiming to establish friendly relations, communication and cooperation between societies. Within this context, most of the young people at this conference believe that peace and cooperation can be established under the auspices of NATO or the EU. The rest of them believe that these two organizations are not trustworthy but that peace and cooperation are inevitable even if they must be established under Russia's protection. These different opinions prove that there is a disagreement over methods; however, it also shows that young people want the same thing: development, cooperation and peace.
The speakers tried to explain that placing the blame on third parties for crucial problems is not always the best option and that it would be better to push these countries to launch their own democratization processes. But the students showed more important things to the experts. Armenian, Georgian, Turkish and Azeri students have worked in harmony; they've transported sick people to the hospital; they have brought homemade meals to those who were hungry; they have eaten countless khachapuris together and drunk Georgian wine; and they have danced and sung together. In brief, they didn't allow their states' problems to poison their personal relations. We, experts, need to understand what young people need in order to exist in our world. If we understand them, it will be easier to lay the ground of our and their common future.
Protest Action To Be Held In Front Of Turkish Consulate By Armenian Community Of Chicago On April 24 - Noyan Tapan, April 3
On April 24, 26 and 27 a Genocide Commemoration event will be held in Chicago by the Armenian National Committee of Illinois. On April 24 a demonstration will be held in front of the Turkish Consulate in Chicago. On April 26 a commemorative program will be held with guest speakers Congressman Daniel Lipinski, State Representative John A. Fritchey and Henry D. Astarjian. The program will be held at Shahnasarian Hall in Glenview. And on April 27 a requiem service will be conducted in the Armenian Apostolic Church of Glenview.
Turkish Cypriots To Commemorate Armenian Genocide For First Time This Year
Nicosia, April 2, Armenians Today - Noyan Tapan. The Progressive Turkish Cypriot parties in Boyug Khan will for the first time commemorate the Armenian Genocide on April 24. As the Gybrahayer site reports, the main speaker will be announced next week.
. . . I wonder if this an April 1st Joke
Editor at this site . .
Armenia's Richest Men!
There is some controversy about the list of Armenia's Top 10 richest people that is to be published by Forbes Armenia, but something tells me it is pretty close, especially the top spot. Only the net worths of two people are given: Tsarukian at $400-500 million and Sargsyan at about $150 million.
I will be doing individual profiles of some of these people later on, so keep reading the blog. Trust me, you won't want to miss it!
1. Gagik Tsarukian - Businessman
Companies: Multi Leon - Kotayk Abovyan Beer Factory, Abovyan Plant of Measuring Equipment, Yerevan Chemical Drug Company, Mek Furniture Network, Aviaservice, Multi Stone Stone Processing Company, Yerevan Ararat Brandy, Wine and Vodka Factory.
2. Armen Avetisyan - Chairman of the State Customs Committee.
Fact: Admitted all the country's big importers are his friends.
3. Mikael Baghdasarov - Businessman
Companies: Mika Corporation - Armsavingsbank, Armavia Airlines, Mika Cement Plant, Mika Limited oil trading company.
4. Hrant Vardanyan - Businessman
Companies: Grand Holding - Grand Tobacco, Grand Candy
5. Khachatur Sukiasyan & Family - Businessman
6. Yervand Zakharyan - Mayor of Yerevan
7. Robert Kocharyan - President of the Republic of Armenia
Fact: It is known that Kocharyan was "elected" in 2003 with unfair means.
8. Serge Sargsyan - Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia
Fact: Once "Head of Propaganda and Agitation Division of the Stepanakert City Communist Party Committee."
9. Andranik Manukyan - Minister of Transport and Communication of the Republic of Armenia
10. David Harutyunyan - Republic of Armenia Minister of Justice
Well, there you have it! Of importance, the majority of the people on this list are government officials.
Sources: ArmeniaPedia, and the original Forbes list.
You mean "Armenia's mafia". I remember once in Yerevan, a driver told me "There is no mafia, the goverment is the mafia". April 21,
But former goverment also was mafia. And now two mafias are fightig and innocent people are dying. March 4, 2008
Turkey’s Recent Political Turmoil: A Turkish Delight in Disguise? by Ellen Rosskam*
The vast majority of Turks, including supporters of the Justice and Development Party, are firmly committed to democracy and a secular state.
The events that took place in Turkey on Friday, March 14 have raised a number of responses from various pundits and advisors to policy makers around Washington. There is room for additional analysis.
Accusing the ruling party of alleged anti-secular activities, Turkey's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya, submitted a petition to the country's Constitutional Court demanding the ousting of the ruling party, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül as well as banning the latter two from political activities for five years. The chief prosecutor's move was a surprise to some, but expected by others (International Herald Tribune, March 14, 2008). One of the key issues that has flamed this fire is recent legislation lifting a ban on headscarves worn in universities. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) enjoys some 47 percent of popular support. By most measures, the AK Party is viewed as a moderate Islamist party, mainly focused on economic reforms. The Constitutional Court is made up largely of Kemalist secularists. The ruling party has one month to prepare a defense (a period which can be extended), but it is likely to be months before a hearing is held (similar to the way such government processes drag on in most countries).
I view all of these events in the most positive light. Why?
1. If the Constitutional Court finds no evidence in support of the chief prosecutor's accusations, then the court's decision could be interpreted as an indication of the ruling party's unwavering, dedicated support for maintaining Turkey as a strong secular democratic state.
2. Conversely, if the Constitutional Court were to find evidence of anti-secular activities, that too would be an indication of strong, unwavering institutional support and oversight for commitment to Turkey's secular democracy.
3. If version two were the outcome, some degree of shuffling of politicians and deputies would necessarily take place, as well as possibly the need to elect a new prime minister and president, but none of this can be predicted with certainty.
Guarding national stability is high on the government's agenda as well as high on the agenda of Turkey's allies, particularly the US and those in Europe. And Turkey has extensive experience with the overnight shuffling of politicians, parties and deputies. National instability did not result in all such cases, even prior to the AK Party's economic reforms. Reforms in Turkey, starting in the late 1980s under former President Turgut Özal, but entering into full force during the 1990s, have literally transformed the country in a space of less than two decades.
4. All of these events should be considered within an historical context of the recent past of less than 20 years. As recently as the 1980s (during the period of the last military government), it would have been essentially unthinkable for a chief prosecutor to take such action against not only the ruling party, but also against the prime minister and the president of the country. This could have been the kind of action to trigger a military coup. The fact that such action can be taken today is a testimony to the many steps forward that Turkey has made in its recent democratic reforms. While corruption at many levels of government is still an area of concern, notwithstanding, institutional strength and transparency is growing stepwise.
Allowing democratically established institutions to attempt to sort out their problems is essential. These are the types of democratic actions that frequently take place inside the US government, for example.
5. The recent lifting of the headscarf ban for women in universities: This remains a sensitive issue for many people inside Turkey and some outside the country. Most of the recent discussion has focused on fears of this move as an indicator of the AK Party's reduced commitment to secularism and democracy at the national level and fears among secular Turks that women will feel pressured to wear a headscarf against their wishes. Respecting sensitivities, we should also consider that lifting this ban will now allow many more young women to receive a university level education, which they could not have obtained in the past. The process of democracy depends largely on an educated population. Increasing the number of people who are well educated and affirming equal rights to education by sex is crucial to furthering democracy in any country. This emotional bomb could likely have been neutralized had parallel legislation been passed protecting women not choosing to cover their heads.
Notwithstanding, the real question may not be about lifting this ban, but rather on the 1989 implementation of the ban in the first place, which was a direct limitation on freedom of expression and institutionalized a major obstacle to higher education for females, and which served to further a gender-based schism in the society.
6. Democracy does not come in one neat little package. It cannot be bought at K-Mart, online or at Tati (the French equivalent of K-Mart). Nations are free to pick and choose elements of democracy as applied in countries with long histories of democracy and to mould those elements to fit according to culture, social structure, mores and culture-bound value systems -- an approach essential to help facilitate the acceptance of new elements of democracy which are usually introduced through national level reforms. These are challenges for any government, perhaps more so in a democracy, where numerous voice groups are meant to have the space to express their views and to which the government is meant to listen and consider. In the US, our constitutionally-cherished right to freedom of expression and freedom from religious persecution has its roots in our founding fathers, who came to the new world to escape religious persecution. Based on these fundamental rights, Americans do not object to religious symbols being worn in schools or in congressional offices on Capital Hill. The European experience is difference. While Europe has a long history of religious persecution, nonetheless European democratic states were not founded on populations seeking freedom from religious persecution. France's concept of laïcité is based on freedom from religion, such that no religious symbols have any place in public institutions. Here is an example of two countries -- France and the United States -- with contrasting views on freedom of expression, yet which are both democratic states. Increased understanding, tolerance and peace can be promoted by respecting democratic governments' choices to select how they shape their own democracies as they draw on principles of democracy from other countries. This is particularly important to respect when a majority of any population gives their voice support for proposed reforms. "By the people, for the people…" Regarding its lifting of the headscarf ban, the Turkish government could have been more effective in making it known more strongly internationally that it was basing its decision on the American version of freedom of expression and freedom from religious persecution rather than on the French concept of laïcité.
7. The vast majority of Turks are firmly committed to democracy and a secular state and there are no convincing indicators of this changing in the near or distant future, irrespective of accession to the European Union.
8. There are fears in the West about a growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Turkey and fears due to Turkey's fostering improved relations with its neighbors to the east. Recently, President Gül spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In an open forum, he was asked about Turkey's relations with its neighbors to the east and how this was viewed in juxtaposition to the foreign policies of its strongest and most important ally, the United States. The president reminded the forum that Turkey has existed next to its neighbors to the east far, far longer than the United States has even existed. He emphasized by historical context the importance for Turkey, in its geo-politically sensitive position, to not only maintain and build improved relations with its Arab state neighbors, but also to help broker better relations with those same countries for the US and European countries.
In this sense, Turkey, under the AK Party's two terms in government, has been playing a critical role for Western foreign policy and Western concerns, albeit not without some hiccups. These are delicate balancing acts between very different power brokers in vastly different countries, with vastly different cultures, political systems and vastly different views toward the United States in particular. Insufficient deep cross-cultural understanding is a major obstacle to real progress through foreign policy. And the stakes are high, as energy issues take on a position of primordial importance, the US's position in Iraq, the absence of dialogue with Iran, concerns over a possible nuclear build-up by Iran and terrorism.
9. There is concern in the United States about waxing and waning popular Turkish support for the United States. At a Feb. 28 Capital Hill panel discussion by Turkish deputies from three opposing political parties, Dr. Fatma Nur Serter, member of Parliament for the Republican People's Party (CHP) opposition party, itemized a number of issues that make Turks sensitive toward the United States government and toward the American people:
Turkey has always had good relations with the US, but popular support waned significantly at the outset of the Iraq war, as Turks widely did not support US policies toward Iraq.
Hopes and fears
Turks want national unity and to have good relations with the US. However, any perception by Turks that there is a threat to Turkey's sovereignty or that there is meddling in its national affairs by any other country is received with strong reactions from the Turkish government and by the Turkish people. (Such national sentiments have implications for possible accession to the EU where there would be some interference in national affairs by Brussels.) Mr. Egemen Bağış, foreign affairs representative for the AK Party, countered Dr. Serter's comment, saying that if entered into the EU, any degree of loss of national sovereignty would be far outweighed by the wider package of sovereignty that would be gained through EU membership.
The 2007 proposed congressional resolution on the "Armenian genocide" generated a great deal of anger toward the US from Turks. While Turkey has made great strides in this issue, including opening their archives to independent researchers, to date Armenia has not responded in kind.
* Turks feel very strongly about their secularism and see it as a crucial road to modernization. Western fears about a loss of this commitment raises sensitivity among many Turks.
* Women in Turkey know they acquired the rights they have through the secular state. As such, women in Turkey are strong supporters and protectors of the secular state.
10. The US's recent support to help Turkey quash the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has generated a significant increase in Turks' positive feelings toward the US.
Turkey has a number of significant obstacles to overcome in its process of "modernization," not the least of which are in the areas of freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, institutional transparency, eliminating corruption in public institutions and poverty elimination. Yet we should remember that changes in these areas are slow and difficult processes in most countries. Building public confidence in governmental institutions long perceived as corrupt and untrustworthy is a challenging, lengthy and achievable undertaking. Government institutions in Turkey can demonstrate that they are transparent and monitored, that they include public involvement in both decision-making and priority setting and that they are trustworthy. Viewed from a historical context, Turkey's "to do" list should also be considered in relation to its "already done" list. The institutions at work demonstrate a commitment to democracy and a secular state, but there is still a long road ahead in the process of full democratization, recalling that democracy is an ongoing and permanent process -- everywhere.
* Ellen Rosskam, Ph.D., MPH is a Southeast Europe policy scholar in the Southeast Europe Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.
Erdogan Visiting Sweden to Prevent Discussion of Armenian Genocide Bill?
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ It was a surprise to hear that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was coming for a visit to Stockholm, Sweden on April 1-3 to meet his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt for negotiation, the Union of Armenian Associations in Sweden told PanARMENIAN.Net.
It was said bilateral questions and negotiation for an agreement about EU membership is on the agenda. But the Armenian Union in Sweden cannot help wondering if this really is the reason for the meeting.
Mr Fredrik Reinfeldt wrote a letter to the Armenian Union earlier to inform of the demands Turkey has to face before the membership talks. But Vahagn Avedian, the chairman for the Armenian Union wonders if those demands have a more profound meaning or not.
“Turkey breaks the law when it comes to human rights, freedom of religion and freedom of speech and oppresses the minorities by governmentally financed hate-campaigns,” he said.
“The fact that the Turkish Prime Minister is visiting Sweden just two weeks before the discussion of the Armenian Genocide bill in the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs due on April 17, 2008, makes it difficult to ignore what the real purpose of his visit actually is.”
Avedian reminded that Erdogan’s press conference in Sofia was postponed to prevent Bulgarian members of the parliament to ask questions about the Armenian Genocide.
“Is the reason for the visit to Sweden to somehow prevent the parliamentary bill about the Armenian Genocide in the Swedish Parliament? It is well known that Turkey is spending a great amount of money on propaganda to hamper international recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 1915,” he said. “It would be unfortunate if Erdogan’s visit affected the Swedish foreign policy.”
Turkey Changes Lobbying Firm in US Congress
Turkey has parted ways with former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, whose lobbying firm has represented the country for the past eight years.
Turkey has not renewed its long-standing contract with The Livingston Group, and is instead transferring its main lobbying business to DLA Piper, a multinational law firm that had split the government-relations workload with Livingston over the past year, US congressional newspaper The Hill reported on Monday.
According to The Hill, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a senior policy adviser with DLA Piper, will replace Livingston as Turkey's top GOP lobbyist with Congress. Armey, who lobbied alongside Livingston last year, will partner with former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, who lobbies Democrats for Turkey at DLA Piper.
It is unclear whether Turkey or Livingston initiated the split, which both sides insisted was amicable. "We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship for eight years, we've had a lot of legislative victories together, and we wish the Turkish people lots of continued success and happiness in the future," Livingston said in a statement to The Hill.
Turkish Ambassador to the US Nabi Şensoy, who said Livingston helped transfer the lobbying business to DLA Piper, released a statement praising the lawmaker as "a gentleman of remarkable capabilities and stature."
Şensoy also noted that Turkey had begun to restructure its lobbying team by hiring DLA Piper last year and described that as part of a transition.
The parting of Turkey and The Livingston Group ends one of the more lucrative Washington lobbying contracts for foreign governments. In April 2006, Turkey renewed its relationship with Livingston through a year-long contract worth $1.8 million. In May 2007, Turkey hired DLA Piper on a $100,000-per-month contract while retaining Livingston. Turkey mounted a massive lobbying campaign last year to defeat a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.
Though the resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, many of its co-sponsors withdrew their support after meeting with Turkey's lobbyists. That, along with pressure from Republicans and the Bush administration, forced House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to postpone a floor vote on the resolution last year.
02.04.2008 Today's Zaman İstanbul
Turkish, Armenian Women's Magazine by Vercihan Ziflioglu
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News, April 3, 2008
Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine, published by the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association, is in its fourth year. Prepared by Turkish and Armenian women, the magazine covers social and cultural topics
Despite the closed border between Turkey and Armenia, the efforts of civil society to address the issue and to build ties between the two countries continue.
The Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine, founded in 2004, is one of the steps taken in this regard, through which Turkish and Armenian academics and artists gather on a shared platform to search for possible means of compromise.
The magazine, now in its fourth year, is published annually in Turkish, Armenian and English by the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association.
The chairman of the association, sociologist Şule Kılıçarslan, also serves as the magazine's editor-in-chief. On the Armenian side, artist and writer Dzovinar Lokmagözyan is the publishing council coordinator for the magazine.
Dink was on advisory board
Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper Agos, who was murdered last year, served on the magazine's advisory board for the first two issues.
The magazine covers social and cultural topics, but not historical nor political issues. The magazine's first issue was supported by the American University Center For Global Peace, based in Washington D.C.. Later issues were published with support from the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association.
Kılıçarslan and Lokmagözyan spoke to the Turkish Daily News about Turkish-Armenian relations and the magazine. Kılıçarslan said the magazine could not be distributed due to insufficient budget, despite a circulation rate of 5,000.
However, Kılıçarslan added, the association sent each issue to the U.S. Senate and the European Parliament.
No history or politics
Turkish and Armenian Women's Magazine is one of the projects of the Eurasia Cultural and Social Development Association, which aims to foster communication between Turkey and Central Asian countries in the 21st century.
Kılıçarslan said they decided to publish the magazine to participate in the process of establishing dialogue and peace between the two countries and added that the magazine covered subjects ranging from the business world to civil society, and from the arts to sports.
“Both countries have experienced reciprocal traffic accidents. Yet, in the magazine we aim to look into the future instead of the past,” said Kılıçarslan, “therefore we abstain from historical or political topics.”
Kılıçarslan said the first steps toward publishing the magazine were taken in 2002 when they traveled to the Armenian capital Yerevan from Turkey with a team of nine on March 8, 2002, International Women's Day. They did not know what to expect on their first ever trip to Armenia and took the initiative for the magazine during the trip.
“The magazine was going to be published in and distributed from Turkey. The copyright also belongs to Turkey. Therefore, the Armenian side became suspicious and prejudiced,” said Kılıçarslan, emphasizing they overcame prejudices with mutual tolerance and cooperation.
Kılıçarslan said they intentionally left out political subjects from the magazine. “Lokmagözyan interviewed the Armenian culture minister for the last issue, but we did not publish it. Otherwise, we would have had to include a politician from Turkey as well. We are against statements of politicians in the magazine even if they are on cultural issues,” Kılıçarslan said.
“Armenians are very interested in, and curious about, the magazine. Any attempt for dialogue is very much supported in Armenia. All organizations give me a positive answer when I ask them for an interview,” said Kılıçarslan.
Lokmagözyan noted women's constructive character and said women could, through their tolerance, overcome any problems in the male-dominated world. “The reason I collaborate on the magazine is to introduce people to each other and to establish bridges of amity,” said Lokmagözyan, who believes the magazine plays a major role in this respect.
Regarding the political relations between Turkey and Armenia, Kılıçarslan thinks that Turkey, as a large country, has various problems, “whereas Armenia has only several main problems, the biggest of which is Turkey.” Kılıçarslan noted that Turkey and Greece had their times of conflict but overcame those conflicts with solidarity and dialogue.
Lokmagözyan said politics brought disaster upon nations and added that art could overcome all these problems.
Nonetheless, Lokmagözyan said in order to overcome the conflicts between the two countries, all political problems should be discussed openly, and said, quoting the American writer Ernest Hemingway, “A person will be scared of the lion three times in life. First, when he sees the lion's footprint, second when he hears the lion roar, and finally when he encounters the lion, after which there is nothing left to be scared of.”
If Israel Recognizes So-Called “Armenian Genocide”, Document About Genocide Against Palestinians Will Be Submitted To Azerbaijani Parliament 02 Apr 2008
Baku. Ramil Mammadli –APA. “Document about Israeli genocide policy against Palestinians since 1967 can be sent to the parliamentary discussions”, Fazil Gazanfaroglu, Chairman of the Great Order Party and member of the Parliament told APA.
He said he had prepared this document, but has not submitted it to the parliament commission yet for not damaging Azerbaijan-Israel relations. “If Israel recognizes so-called “Armenian genocide”, we will do our best to adopt the document about genocide committed by Israelis against Palestinians and Israel will be responsible for such measure”. Fazil Gazanfaroglu said he believed that his counterparts at the Parliament would support him. “At first the document will be submitted to the Human Rights Commission of the Parliament. I believed all members of the Parliament contributing to the national interests will support this document”.
Genocide, Diplomacy And Terrorism
A partial transcript the Assembly of Turkish American Associations’ meeting with The Times editorial board.
April 2, 2008
Leaders of an umbrella group for Turkish-American groups stopped by The Times recently to discuss the debate over the Armenian genocide, Turkey's membership in the European Union and quashing Kurdish separatism in northern Iraq. Below are highlights from that meeting.
Tim Cavanaugh: The L.A. Times is on record as supporting the term genocide to describe whatever it is that happened in the early part of the 20th century. We'd be interested in hearing your views on that.
Nurten Ural, president, Assembly of Turkish American Associations: Sure. Well, as far as the events of 1915, of course we do not like to call it a genocide because it was not a genocide. We do agree that many Armenians died at that time; we feel very bad about that, but many if not more Turks and Muslims died at the time. It was a time of war, and in war, people die. But we really think Turkey's position on this is — Turkey has opened its archives, and they say, let's get all the historians, open up all the archives, let them dive into the archives, research what really happened, and everybody will accept whatever happened.
What we don't like is having the politicians make history or set history when they're not that knowledgeable about history. If the historian part doesn't work, let's take it to court — have the international court get historians or whatever to see what happened in those days. As Turkish Americans, we're very strong on this, that, you know, as far as the fact, let's find out what the real facts are instead of what we want them to be or what others want them to be …
Cavanaugh: What kind of discussions do you have with Armenian groups, Armenian-American groups in particular?
Ural: Well, we try to have discussions … We invite them always to debates; in fact, some of my best friends are Armenians. Secretly, they come to us; openly, publicly, they refuse to come to us … To us, we have the same culture as the Armenians: We have the same music, we have the same foods — we should get along … We need to get this out into the open, we need to get past it, we need to go on.
The thing that personally … upsets me about this whole thing is teaching children hatred. In this time in the world, we don't need that. We need to teach them peace and to get along with each other.
Cavanaugh: They can come in and make their own case … but just as a question: What you hear from Armenian groups is, you know, when you say debate, the response to that is, "Well, we don't ask Jewish groups to come in and debate German groups about whether the Holocaust happened. And why should we be subject to that … sort of self justification?"
Ural: It has been proven that the Holocaust happened; it has not been proven that the genocide has happened …
Ahmet Atahan, president , Association of Turkish Americans of Southern California: If you're talking in the streets [to] an Anatolian-born Armenian or American-born Armenian, their views reflect, I think, a little bit different than the political side of the whole issue. So when you say Armenians, yes, we do talk with Armenians. Yes, we do work with them, we live with them, we entertain ourselves with them. But when it comes to the political angle, some sectors [are] driving the whole issue. It's different than the common Armenian that's really thinking in a different wavelength …
Cavanaugh: We had the Armenian prime minister in a few months back, and he suggested … we're talking about Armenian Americans, right? Because … the prime minister's discussed the idea that this is something that gets people exercised more in the diaspora than it does in Armenia itself …
Allison Block, advocacy director, ATAA: There's no question about that. In fact, there are more [Armenians] living outside of Armenia than in Armenia proper. In fact, Armenia proper is suffering incredibly because of this. As you are aware, the border between Turkey and Armenia is closed right now. It was closed for obviously a different issue, but such political tension has caused Turkey to keep the border shut … Should this issue be brought to Congress and decided upon in Congress, that indeed the United States recognizes this is genocide, I think you'll find that the border will stay shut and Armenia itself as a country will suffer even more. Turkish businesspeople and Armenian businesspeople are already trying to find ways to cooperate because … there is no question that this is a diaspora issue …
Cavanaugh: How does this impact you guys as Turkish Americans? These are international issues that are for other people to settle, so where do you come into this?
Ural: Personally, my niece came from school crying — well, my brother had to go get her from school — when an eight-year-old girl tells my niece, "Your grandfather killed by grandfather," and my niece has no idea what they're talking about … That is what we don't like to see, when our children [are] attacked in school for no reason whatsoever, for a reason that they're not even aware of … That should not be encourage by parents; that should not be taught by parents …
Cavanaugh: Is this formed to some degree by the fact that the United States at the time was among the few patrons the Armenians had? … Is that something that sort of structurally works against you guys, that there is this long history of sympathy?
Block: I wouldn't necessarily say that's a factor.
Atahan: There's a couple details there … Don't label the whole thing 1915 events, because when you look at history, you have to look at … a much wider time period to see the real reasons and kind of why things happened … because there are events after 1915 that Armenians don't talk about that [are] actually against them …
You cannot just look at a narrow timeframe. When you look at … the end of the 18th century, you'll also see that there are a lot of religious missions and activities. So when you look at the American point of view, there [are] some religious-influenced events that show sympathy …
Ural: Also, events such as the Armenians taking and being allies with the Russians fighting against the Turks. Like I said, it's a time of war; that's why many of them died, just as well as Turks did. There's a lot of complications … It's not just a thing saying, you know, Turks killed Armenians and it's a genocide.
Atahan: Forget old times, come to today. When you look at Iraq today, there are a number of deaths, a number of people dislocated and everything. When you look at it, so does that mean, a few years down the road people can easily say, "Americans caused the big loss in Iraq, so that was a genocide"? Or, you look at it in a more logical way … and you look at the reasons and say … "This is a war time, this is what happened …" But if you put the emotions on the table, and don't look at the realistic end of it, of course the picture's going to be totally different …
Cavanaugh: Why would [Armenian Americans] push the issue?
Ural: Land. Money.
Atahan: Not just land … but also, if you're able to get an 18-year-old kid today have certain feelings because he's an Armenian. So you lose that hatred as a tool to keep an identity, you use it for other purposes, and you need to keep on going for financial gain [and] for other purposes. But is that the reality? Who knows — that's a different issue. With Turks, it was overcome. We had losses; bury it, get over it …
I had my relatives die. My grandparents and family, the whole village vanished. But I don't feel hatred for anybody because of it. It was a war time, it happened, period. My life is different …
Turkey and the European Union
Cavanaugh: Turkey is perpetually trying to get full EU membership … What do you do on that issue?
Ural: In my personal opinion, I think Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe. To me, it doesn't matter if Turkey is a part of Europe; I think it would be better off if it wasn't …
Atahan: The identity situation comes in there … We want to stay as Turks. Yes, economically, we may do certain things — joint venture-type things — but identity should be kept in a way. Even today, I can see that between Germany and France, I mean, you cannot just label them one country like [the] U.S. is, between Texas and, you know, New York. A New Yorker is a New Yorker, a Texan is a Texan …
Cavanaugh: What's the hold up? Why does Europe still argue over this? And who would like to see Turkish accession, and who wouldn't?
Block: There are several different factors, in my opinion, that come into play. First of all, you have Nicolas Sarkozy, who is very much opposed to Turkish EU accession, primarily because in his own country, he's seen as a nationalist and wants to preserve the purity of the European Union as this Christian club, et cetera. Before Angela Merkel was elected, she was very much opposed to full membership for Turkey. But since she's been in office, since her visit to Turkey, in fact, she's come around quite a bit. The U.K. has obviously been quite supportive of Turkey's accession …
Many of the other acceding countries into the European Union haven't been held under such scrutiny as Turkey has. For example, Turkey was one of the first countries that they were actually talking about having a full referendum in every state on Turkey accession, which would be the first time any acceding country has been held to that standard. So of course Turkey's going to be upset and say, "Hey, you're holding us to a completely different standard ..."
The bar keeps shifting for Turkey, whereas for Croatia, for example, they're much more, I guess, lenient in some of those terms … When Ireland came in as one of the members, their economy was horrible … and still they were allowed in. Their economy grew and flourished, and now they're a very functional, contributing part of the European Union. Another issue, for example, Poland: Many in the union were afraid of the Polish Plumber, all of these manual laborers coming from Poland into the European Union and taking all of the other Europeans' jobs. That was, in fact, not the case. Many Europeans, in fact, went to Poland to find work …
They fear that all of the uneducated, unemployed laborers from Turkey will come rushing into the European Union. In fact, I don't think that's the case. Turkey has an incredibly young, educated population that would benefit Europe …
Kurdish separatism and terrorism
Block: I'm sure you're aware of Turkish cooperation in Afghanistan, with [the International Security Assistance Force]. I think it's amazing that Turkey is the only country that has controlled the ISAF three times as a member of NATO and is the only Muslim country that has controlled ISAF in Afghanistan. And, you know, Turkey is a partner in fighting terrorism in those terms, and I guess that's what Turkey expects from the United States in turn.
And we've seen that more recently with the cooperation, the military intelligence sharing against the PKK in northern Iraq. Another point I'd to make about northern Iraq is, all of the construction and development that's going on in northern Iraq is primarily Turkish companies — I'd say, 90% of the construction that goes on in northern Iraq.
Cavanaugh: When we're talking northern Iraq, are we talking about Kurdistan?
Ural: There is no Kurdistan.
Block: Northern Iraq — the northern part of Iraq, which, yes, there is a Kurdish population there, but primarily the companies that are doing all of the infrastructure development there are Turkish companies …
For a while, I guess maybe it was almost a year ago now … when the area was starting to get less controlled because of the PKK violence, there were numerous Turkish truck drivers that were killed in northern Iraq because of PKK violence. This is before … the recent incursions of the PKK coming into Turkey. There was violence already in northern Iraq against Turkish truck drivers that were helping them, you know, rebuild that part of the country …
Cavanaugh: If there were a Kurdish national home developed [in Iraq], would you guys take a position against that?
Block: Because of the PKK issue precisely … Turkey has suffered under PKK terrorism for about 20 years now, and more than 30 to 35,000 people have been victims of PKK terrorism within Turkey alone … Primarily 20 years ago it was … the PKK … carrying out attacks in Turkey mostly to fight for rights that they had been denied, and Turkey has come to terms with that. Many of the freedoms that were denied to Kurds in the past have been granted — the ability to speak their language, the ability to educate in Kurdish, the ability to broadcast in Kurdish — a lot of those freedoms have been granted.
So now primarily the Kurdish terrorist organizations are working in northern Iraq and operating there because the United States kind of protects them there. So they come into Turkey and carry out their attacks … primarily now to establish their own territory. So what that means that they're fighting for is their own Kurdish state, which would carve out a piece of Turkey, Iraq and Syria, and parts of Iran.
Now you'll see that the Kurdish terrorist organizations in northern Iraq are starting to cooperate more with other Kurdish terrorist organizations, for example, in Iran, because of this desire to carve a Kurdish nation out of those areas.
Ural: So it would be bad, not only for Turkey, but I think for the United States if they did create a Kurdistan
1. I am glad the LA Times recognizes the need to provide space to cover up history and obviously recognize the importance Turkey represents to the US.
Submitted by: Talaat
April 2, 2008
2. I cant believe something as such was published by LAtimes. I am very disappointed in the quality of the work. I expect more of back ground information. Also not a one view explanation of events. very bad writing and work two thumbs down!
Submitted by: Mark Santiago
April 2, 2008
3. I am ashamed for being a Turkish national. We as a nation have to come face to face of our history. We should admit that we did infact commit Genocide of the Armenians. We did take away their homelands and stole their wealth. Also, I am ashamed that this lies still continue on until today and the latest victim is the Armeinan publisher's murder in Istambul by our very own government who wishes to silence everyone from discussing the Armenian Genocide. If Ural truly wants peace in the world he should begin a self analysis of truth adjustment. Acknowldge the Armenian Genocide.
Submitted by: OC Turk
April 2, 2008
4. This piece indicates clearly LA Times lack of understanding in Kurdish, Armenian, and Turkish dynamics, and politics. You have simply offered a platform to a turkish lobby group in spreading its racist and offensive propaganda; without questioning them (real questions). This is why I believe this piece is more a platform than a journalistic article. This also comes in the heels of the Turkish governement repression of the Newroz (kurdish new year) celebrations, where several kurds lost their lives! I am truly disappointed in LA Times for given the turkish lobbies a mean to white wash what they have done and are doing right now.
Submitted by: Dilsad
April 2, 2008
5. continued: What are these people talking about, what rights? Just recently, Turkey denied kurds in some provinces in SE turkey from Celebrating Newroz, an ancient kurdish celebration. While some went a head with their celebrations, turkish security forces aggressively broke up the celebrations. Hundreds were injureds, and hundreds more were detained. Where was the the LA Times to cover that? You can see what they did in this video here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=pYvE7bm2cl0 i hope the Times can put more balance in their news!
Submitted by: Babban Q
April 2, 2008
6. Turks = Muslims, and their concept of truth is a little different than ours. IE, they lie, especially to gain military advantage. Look up Taqqiyah on the google and learn about how there is no lying in Islam.
Submitted by: fightingthegoodfight
April 2, 2008
7. I hope the times can hire more educated writers that can question the people they interview a little bit better, rather than letting them spread the propaganda that were taught by their governments. Everyone knows well, that the Armenian Genocide was indeed a Genocide! If Turks were so open about discussing the Genocide, then why many of the writers that wrote about it got jailed by the government? This should be common knowledge for a journalist that is trying to cover this issue, and it should be questions that are asked, but i guess this shows what exactly this journalists intentions were...
Submitted by: Babban Q
April 2, 2008
8. continued.. Many Turkish Muslims also died fighting Arab Muslims, who were seeking their freedom from Ottoman oppression, and Indian Muslims who were with the British Middle East army in Mesopotamia. All this Muslim blood, then, is on the head of the Ottoman Turkish government and not on the victimized and helpless Armenians. There were at most around three million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, most of them old men, women, and children, and they can hardly be blamed for the death of three million "Turks or Muslims." That is absurd.
Submitted by: Patricia
April 2, 2008
9. "We do agree that many Armenians died at that time; we feel very bad about that, but many if not more Turks and Muslims died at the time." Turkish propagandists sometimes use the deceptive, expression "three million Muslims" died too. Yes, three million Muslims probably did die in WW I, but so did twenty million Christians. What has that got to do with the Armenian Genocide? The Turks died, unfortunately, because their own government led them into World War I against the European Allies.
Submitted by: Patricia
April 2, 2008
10. Here is a video that can fully illustrate so called "human rights" in Southeastern Turkey; I guess every Turkish solider sees it as their right to beat & torture innocent women & kids: http://www.mideastyouth.com/2008/03/30/turkey-and-a-world-of-silence/
Submitted by: Stop Turkish Aggression!
April 2, 2008
11. How can the Armenian genocide be denied? Over 1 million people died. The Turkish gov't doesn't want a Kurdistan because they are afraid that 25 million Turkish citizens, that happen to be Kurdish; will revolt and join the rest of their fellow Kurds. Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq have tried so hard to segregate since the destabilization of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey, this isn't an empire no more. Kurdistan WOULD benefit the US; seeming that they are the most reliable ally fighting terrorism in IRAQ.
Submitted by: Stop Turkish Aggression!
April 2, 2008
12. Events.. the Armenians taking and being allies with the Russians fighting against the Turks. ..it's a time of war; that's why many of them died, just as well as Turks did. There's a ot of complications … It's not just a thing saying, you know, Turks killed Armenians and it's a genocide could read Events such as the Jews taking and being allies with the Allies fighting against the Germans. Like I said, it's a time of war; that's why many of them died, just as well as Germans did. There's a lot of complications … It's not just a thing saying, you know, Germans killed Jews and it's genocide This explanation is unconvincing.
Submitted by: ben munda
PDT, April 2, 2008
13. Ugly and sad how Ural is trying to victimize Turks with the silly story about his niece. What about the millions of Kurdish kids in Turkey who come home crying from their schools after their Turkish teacher tells them that Kurds don't exist? Turkey has burned over 4000 Kurdish villages, displaced over 3 million people, practices torture, kills innocent civilians, and most of the 35000 killed were at the hands of their own military. All facts reported by HRW and Amnesty.
Submitted by: Hewrami
April 2, 2008
14. "Ural: Personally, my niece came from school crying — well, my brother had to go get her from school — when an eight-year-old girl tells my niece, "Your grandfather killed by grandfather," and my niece has no idea what they're talking about … That is what we don't like to see, when our children [are] attacked in school for no reason whatsoever..." For no reason, yea right what about 1.5 million Armenians killed, and historical homelands stolen? NO REASON?
Submitted by: K
April 2, 2008
15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Committee_for_Relief_in_the_Near_East American Committee for Relief in the Near East Relief in the Near East and the Armenian Genocide Please copy & paste this sites
Submitted by: Harut
April 2, 2008
16. I cannot believe the Times gives space to the shameful and disingenuous denial of the Armenian Genocide 93 yrs after the event. What's on tap for next week a new perspective on how the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was excuse for the Holocaust! Becasue it was at a time of war?
Submitted by: Shel
April 2, 2008
17. I am sorry to hear that Ural's 8-year-old niece came home crying the other day. Life sure must suck to be an ancestor of Genocide perpetrators and the niece of Genocide deniers. Now if Ural would be equally as compassionate about my grandfather's 5 sisters (ages 10 and under), who are buried in the desert between Kayseri and Syria, we could all call it even, go home and be best friends forever. (bff) www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLvbRNd0XWw
Submitted by: Peter Musurlian
April 2, 2008
18. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide Just copy & paste Armenians live out side of Armenia since 1915, because the Western Armenians were tortured & massacred. The ones are living today are the ones who stayed alive by escaping the country. And to mention mostly are Western Armenians who live in Diaspora. Just like every country, Armenians were living in Armenia until 1915. You say, this was a war. My dear when you loose all of your new born, children, woman, grandmothers & continue to loose all Armenian structures, churches, thousands of years old cemeteries in Western Armenia, continuation of denials & denials
Submitted by: Harut
April 2, 2008
19. This is not a issue with two sides. The historical verdict on the events of 1915 has been in for some time now see the International Association of Genocide Scholars unanimous and unequivocal findings of genocide being a government planned and executed plan against the Armenian subjects of Ottoman Turkey. For some uneducated Turks it is a moral issue they have to come to terms with for their own well being and the development of their country into a responsible modern nation.
Submitted by: Steve
April 2, 2008
20. 1.5 Million people, on their own homeland, killed by their own government. These are clearly not casualities of war. Im further convinced by the fact that Assyrians and Greeks and essentially every christian minority of the Ottoman empire also claim genocide agains the turks, just not with the same zeal that the Armenian communities have. If we cite the contributions Armenians have made to America they will clearly over shadow any contribution made by Turkey. Once again, America acts as a puppet of foreign powers and continues to look abroad instead of taking care of its own.
Submitted by: J
April 2, 2008
21. An embarassing understanding of history and a perfect example of why the Sudans and the Rwandas of the world will continue as the rest of the world stands to be a spectator.
Submitted by: Mary Vard
April 2, 2008
22. Yikes. Next thing we know, David Irving will able to give his views. It seems that Turkey has a checklist of do's and don'ts/taboos for everyone to adhere. They certainly are demanding. Why are they a US ally?
Submitted by: Andrew
April 2, 2008
23. Tim Cavanaugh, what a whole load of nonsense!! You have simply given a forum to the Turkish representatives to rehash the main Turkish government propaganda line which denies the reality of the Armenian genocide. You conduct this "interview" with an obsequious pandering that reeks of pure anti-Armenianism. If the LA Times indeed qualifies "whatever that might have happened" as you state, as Genocide, then why do you not defend the thesis of your own newspaper? It is clear from your tone of this staged sham of an interview that the defense of truth is not on your agenda here! What a circus.
Submitted by: Zareh Sahakian
April 2, 2008
24. So many distortions in this article. The zionist joke la times doesn't deserve to be printed
Submitted by: Leo
April 2, 2008
25. Those hundreds of thousands of able bodied Armenian men (18-60yo) drafted into the Turkish labor battalions, when and where were they discharged ? And upon their release, how did Turkey explain to these Armenian men that their wives, children and elderly parents died, by "accidental" starvation during a deportation that "went wrong" ? What happened when these Armenian men returned to their homes, farms and businesses and found them occupied by Turks ? What would American GIs do if this happened to them ?
Submitted by: ATAA, answer my questions please
April 2, 2008
26. The Armenian genocide is a fact. And historians have analyzed this genocide already. Just ask the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Or the 23 countries including Germany, turkeys own ally during the war says it was Genocide. Hardly political or sympathetic. It was systematic. Very Nazi like. In fact most consider the Armenian Genocide as a 'dress rehearsal' for the holocaust! Someone should tell these nonsense deniers that the Armenian archives are open. In fact, one has to only go as far as our own U.S archives, which details the systematic brutal extermination of the Armenian population by the Turks.
Submitted by: Thetruth
April 2, 2008
27. Ms. Block has Chutzpah to cold-heartedly warn Armenia that it will continue to suffer if the US Congress passes a Genocide Resolution. I guess killing the Armenians wasn't enough, it's now time to pick on whatever part of the Armenian nation was able to survive. I guess with Ms. Block's announcement to the Times editorial board, Turkish threats are no longer reserved for closed door meetings with members of Congress, the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House.
Submitted by: Al Zine
April 2, 2008
28. It's disingenuous of Mr. Ural to legitimize his country's insidious denial of the Armenian Genocide under the banner of "let historians decide." In 2003, a group of Turks and Armenians requested that the highly respected International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) facilitate an independent legal study on whether the 1948 Genocide Convention was applicable to events of 1915. When the ICTJ rendered its judgment, the Turks walked away from the very request they had made. I guess the verdict of Genocide didn't fit their lens of Denial.
Submitted by: Vartan
April 2, 2008
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
Asimed Urges Wikipedia To Remove "Semi-Protection" The Article On Armenian Allegations Concerning The Incidents Of 1915.
ERZURUM - The Turkish Association for Fight Against Unfounded Genocide Allegations (ASIMED) launched an e-mail campaign against Wikipedia urging it to remove the "Semi-Protection" lock over the article on Armenian allegations concerning the incidents of 1915.
Chairman of Asimed, Assistant Professor Savas Egilmez, said the best thing about Wikipedia was its feature allowing users to edit (make corrections, deletions and additions) in articles published on the website.
"When you browse the English version of Wikipedia which publishes its content in various languages, one notices an issue in complete contrast with the Wikipedia principles. In the english website while the article on Armenian allegations concerning the incidents of 1915 contain all the thesis of the Armenian diaspora, the Turkish thesis are excluded," said Egilmez.
"The web site allows users to make editions in all subjects, but it does not allow edition of the article on Armenian allegations. The site only provides the theses of the Armenian diaspora. This is a great injustice against the Turkish Nation."
Egilmez said they started an e-mail campaign to stop this injustice and asked Turkish nationals to support it by sending e-mails to the web site`s administrators (firstname.lastname@example.org) .
Wikipedia has a "Protection policy" allowing administrators to protect a page to restrict editing or moving of that page, and remove such protection.
"Editing or moving of a page can be restricted by administrators. As Wikipedia is built around the principle that anyone can edit it, this should only be done in certain situations," says the policy.
Under the policy there are four types of protection.
Though the policy says "Semi-protection in particular, should not be used to settle content disputes" currently there is a "Semi-protection" lock over the article on Armenian theses concerning the incidents of 1915
Armenian Genocide Discussion In Knesset End In Scandal
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Today, April 1, the Israeli Knesset was deciding on a panel to discuss the Armenian Genocide recognition issue.
During the session, Knesset members Zeev Elkin and Joseph Shagal, who hold opposition opinion the issue, entered a hot debate.
“Elkin, as a chairman of Israel-Armenia interparliamentary group, initiated the discussion together with Haim Oron. Israel has held a neutral position on the issue for 60 years. All my attempts to warn about inexpedience of the move were fruitless,” Shagal said.
“I regret that our discussion exceeded the frames of ethics. All what happened damages the Knesset’s image,” said Zeev Elkin, for his part, Newsru.co.il reports.
Incident Occurs In Israeli Knesset’s Commission While Discussing Issue On “Armenian Genocide” 01 Apr 2008
Baku. Lachin Sultanova-APA. “Which commission of Israeli Knesset will discuss the so-called Armenian genocide”, this was discussed in the commission of Israeli Parliament. APA reports quoting Israeli mass media that Josef Shagal, who is from Baku by origin, and representative of the ruling party Zeev Elkin had a conflict, they insulted one another.
At the end of the discussions decision was passed to discuss the “Armenian genocide” in the Knesset’s commission of foreign affairs and security.
After the meeting, Josef Shagal told journalists that the events happened in Turkey in 1915 were historical facts.
“Armenians were citizens of Turkey, but supported Russia in Russia-Turkey war. This is called collaborationism. Analogous event happened during Lebanon war when SADAL fighters. Hezbollah killed those, who supported us and could not leave the country. It should be taken into consideration that they were killed not because they were Christians, but because they were collaborationists”, he said.
Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora Need to Hold Joint Fight to Prevent Myth on Armenian Genocide: Turkish Ambassador 01.04.08
Israel, Jerusalem, 1 April /corr. TrendNews R.Abdullayev / Azerbaijani and Turkish diasporas need to hold a joint struggle in order to prevent the myth of the Armenian genocide propagated by the Armenian diasporas, Turkey’s Ambassador to Turkey, Namik Tan, said. “We should be seriously engaged in full-scale propaganda to prevent the lies which Armenian diasporas are spreading worldwide,” the diplomat said during the event in Israel’s city of Rishon Le Tsion, with regards to Genocide Day of the Azerbaijanis.
In order to realize this insidious idea, measures of military, ideological and organizational character have been taken sequentially, Tan said. “Many years of the history of Azerbaijan and Turkey have been roughly distorted, and the history of Armenia has been described ‘as more ancient’ and artificially overstated. Even in Israel, they raise this issue in Knesset,” the Turkish diplomat said.
According to him, the possibility of discussing the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’ in the Knesset of Israel is regrettable. Namik Tan his expressed gratitude to the Congress of the Azerbaijanis in Israel for sharply condemning the biased and wrong initiative of the Israeli MP Oron and for supporting and protecting the interests of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Israel.
Supporting the opinion of the Turkish diplomat, the leader of Israeli ‘Herut’ Party, Michael Kleiner, stated that no tragedy in the world can be compared with the Holocaust. “Tragedies may take place, but no-one has the right to speculate the tragedy of a nation losing 6,000,000 people,” he said. Michael Kleiner highlighted high ethnic and religious solidarity of the Azerbaijanis. “The Jews residing in Azerbaijan have never sustained pursuits and discrimination and have maintained their national and cultural traditions,” Kleiner said.
The President of the Congress of the Azerbaijanis in Israel, Alex Shapiro Suliman, said that after Azerbaijan regained its independence, a possibility appeared to create an objective picture of the historical past of the nation. “The genocide against the Azeri people which has not received its political and legal assessment for many years is one of the little-investigated pages of Azerbaijan’s history. Gulustan and Turkmenchay agreements signed in 1813 and 1828 was a beginning to the division of Azerbaijan’s historical land,” Suliman added. According to him, the genocide has transformed into an integral part of the occupation of the Azerbaijani lands.
The representative of the Universal Peace Federation, Hod Ben Tsvi, said that practically the world does not know anything about the genocide of the Azerbaijanis and highlighted the necessity to increase information to the international community.
During the event, a photo exhibition was organized and literature was handed out regarding the genocide of the Azerbaijanis.
Reflections on the Armenian Weekly, the ARF, and the Armenian Nation: An Interview With James H. Tashjian
Interview by Garo Adanalian
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Armenian Weekly, the following interview was conducted with long-time editor James H. Tashjian, on April 29, at his home. Mr. Tashjian served as editor of the Armenian Weekly for over 30 years and was also editor of the scholarly journal Armenian Review until 1982. Current Armenian Weekly editor Jason Sohigian also participated in the interview.
The text was transcribed as accurately as possible. Mr. Tashjian’s comments are edited for length and clarity (for example, “Russian Armenian” has been changed to “Eastern Armenian”) but are otherwise verbatim. Readers should also note that the Armenian Weekly was known as the Hairenik Weekly until 1969.
Garo Adanalian: The Hairenik Weekly was first published in 1934. Wasn’t it founded as an organ of the AYF?
James Tashjian: It was the organ of the ARF, and then became an organ of the AYF. But that was really only titular. It was the property of the ARF at all times. But they gave us the privilege of putting everything that the youth wanted in the paper. There were no restrictions at all. Of course, all ARF developments of major proportions were carried out beautifully and thoroughly, so much so that they [the readers] used to complain about it. I suppose they still do. I’ve heard many complaints about the extensive coverage in the Weekly of news from Armenia, when actually there has been an absence of news of the community.
In my opinion—and this [former Hairenik Editor] Reuben Darbinian agreed with as well as the ARF in those days—the Weekly’s job was to serve the Armenian community in this country. For that reason we carried extensive sports news, for example. The AYF followed our lead, so to speak. They had extensive basketball leagues, baseball, and so on. But we are not going to go into all that today.
GA: When you were the editor, were you told what to print and not to print?
JT: There was some control over the Weekly—while Mr. Darbinian was alive there was no control at all. Later on a so-called group of reformists, around 1975, changed the methodology of what we were doing.
GA: How so?
JT: They thought there was too much AYF news. They had flamboyant ideas of how the Weekly should run as an Armenian paper in America. Their leadership of the AYF and the Weekly waned over the years, but the damage was done.
But as far as I am concerned, the Weekly is the best thing on the market today.
GA: When did you first become involved with the Weekly?
JT: When I was in high school. Surprisingly, the Central Executive of the AYF asked me to be the sports editor of the paper, and of course at the time I was involved in college football and hockey and so forth. I said that I would be glad to do that—I became interested in the paper. When I joined the AYF, I took a good deal of interest in it. But the thing I enjoyed so much was that the AYF Central Executive was in a supervisory capacity of the Weekly and they never bothered us.
We had several columnists, such as K. Merton Bozoian (Uncle Bozo) and so forth. I made a list of people that were involved both with the Weekly and the AYF—you can’t distinguish one from the other. There was General Karekin Nejdeh, of course, who was the founder of the AYF.
Some of the other early AYF leaders I wanted to remember today are John Hovhanissian, James G. Mandalian, Armen Bardizian, Arthur Giragosian, K. Merton Bozoian, Popken Hachikian, Berge Aslanian, Dick Hagopian, Harry Sachaklian, Hagop Mooradian, and Florence Kasparian Kazanjian.
GA: At that time you couldn’t distinguish the Weekly from the AYF?
JT: No you couldn’t. The AYF is a totally different entity today. Unfortunately, perhaps because the world has changed, or perhaps the candidates for membership have changed, I don’t know. There has been a change and it ought to be studied. I think what you have to do—both with the Weekly and the AYF—is concentrate on the younger members.
Frankly, the Weekly is not being read by the people that ought to be reading it. Many AYF alumni have told me that they are reading the [Armenian] Reporter. Why? They tell me, “Gee, that news from Armenia is very good. The struggles and difficulties they’re having, their dialogues or lack of dialogues with the Turks.”
It just isn’t enough. We need a dynamic newspaper covering the Armenian-Americans and their lives. That’s what we need and we haven’t got it. The Reporter comes closest to it. You have a job on your hands to convert the Weekly’s mission.
Let me cover these people that were involved with the Weekly and the AYF. I cannot stress enough the closeness of the two. I became involved with the AYF administration without even having become a member! While I was there I was fortunately able to assist both the AYF and the Armenian Weekly.
It was a glorious experience, really, especially while Reuben Darbinian was alive. He was the greatest Armenian mind. He was the sort of man that could teach at Harvard or Yale, yet he was modest. He was a great friend of the young people. He held several advanced degrees.
GA: How did you come to know him?
JT: My father used to go to the Hairenik all the time and visit with Mr. Darbinian. When I finally entered the ranks of the employees of the Hairenik I came to know Mr. Darbinian as a person and as a leader. I became very close to him, almost like a son.
Jason Sohigian: Who would do the translations of his articles into English?
JT: Mr. James G. Mandalian used to do that, but there was a problem with that because Mr. Darbinian had been educated in Eastern Armenian. But remarkably, when he came to the Hairenik in 1922, he learned Western Armenian so that people could understand what he was saying.
I can’t compare myself to Mr. Darbinian. I couldn’t be the man that he was. He was a remarkable person—and when he passed away there were only 30 people at his funeral. He was perhaps the last living representative of his heroic government. His history in the ARF and with Armenians alone would astonish.
GA: What role did he play in the First Republic?
JT: Mr. Darbinian was among other things the Minister of Justice in the First Republic. He was also one of its leading diplomats, visiting Moscow on various diplomatic missions.
Then there was James Mandalian, who was the second editor of the Hairenik Weekly, as it was called at that time.
GA: What was your relationship like with Mr. Mandalian?
JT: We were like brothers. I admired him because of his intellectual facility, and he was a rather interesting man personally. He supported everything we had to do, and his Weekly reflected that. By the way, he was the first executive secretary of the AYF, and he was a very successful one.
And now let me tell you about the first editor of the Weekly, Armen Bardizian. I didn’t know him very well. I was in school at that time, back in 1934. He was a combatative man, and he didn’t last long. Mr. Mandalian came along and took his toga away.
JS: Who was the columnist Politicus?
JT: Politicus was Harry Boyajian. His son, David, is the fellow that supplies you with articles from time to time. When he first started writing for the Weekly, he was a rabid leftist. But later on when I met him professionally, he had changed his tune to the right. He was conservative, but was a very able man. I used to have a lot of arguments with him, but in the end he came out all right. He undoubtedly had some experiences that led him to do what he did.
GA: What was it specifically that you hoped the Armenian people would achieve, comparing the Armenian Cause then with now?
JT: First of all, I am strictly against the Armenians attempting to enter into a dialogue with the Turks. I read in today’s Weekly that TARC seemed to have failed, that they broke off relations with the Turks, which is favorable in my opinion. We have nothing to give the Turks, and the Turks have an enormity to give to the Armenians, which they will never give.
GA: How do you think we will be able to get back what the Turks owe to the Armenians?
JT: I don’t know. People with greater minds than mine have struggled with that question for years. You see, Garo, we have nothing in Armenia but stone. The Turks on the other hand are sitting on historical Armenia, on the other side of the Arax River. Will they give us any portion of that land? Never.
On the other hand we have a problem with Russia, for instance, geopolitically. Are we a Caucasian nation? No, but even the American government considers us a Caucasian nation. But we are separated from the Caucasian chain by Georgia and Azerbaijan. What are we then? We are a Middle Eastern nation. Our mountains extend from northern Asia Minor right into Armenia and finally Persia.
On what basis do we advocate negotiations with the Turks? Would an apology be the answer? That won’t bring back the 1.5 million, will it? The Turks could make categorical history by coming out and saying, “We are sorry that we massacred the Armenian people.”
A friend of mine who visited Turkey some time ago came back and said, “You know, Jim, I was talking to a Turkish intellectual.” They have intellectuals, but as far as the Armenian Question is concerned, they become bums, like everyone else. My friend said, “That man told me that Turkey has two enemies: one is the Armenians and the second is the Russians.” You see?
GA: When you’re talking about relations with Turkey, what do you suggest that the Armenian government should do?
JT: I think rather than going too deeply into that, what we have to understand is that we are lucky to have the Republic. We are damn lucky to have that. And it wasn’t the Russians that did that. The Russian attitude towards Armenia dates from St. Catherine and Peter the Great. Both of those tyrants regarded the Caucasian nations—as Armenia was deemed to be at that time—to be part of the great Russian nation. Understand?
Armenia today is part of the CIS. Why? Because we are a nation that separated itself from mother Russia. Circumstances prevailed in 1991 so that we formed our independence. We should rigorously hold that, and we are not going to do that if we are going to look to Russia as our salvation. Russia has never been our salvation.
JS: But Armenia faces a choice between Turkey and Russia to protect its borders—right now Russia is the one guaranteeing Armenia’s existence.
JT: Is that so? I doubt it. I think the Turks do not move on Armenia because they regard the Russians to be in that position. I am interested in what the Armenians regard! It will be easier for Armenia to be annexed to Russia than to Turkey of course. You see? These are questions that have occupied the Armenians for too long.
We’re a nation! We should understand that we’re a nation. If Armenia really wants to be recognized as it should be, worldwide, it should strike oil. A major reason for this war in Iraq is because of oil. But if you find oil in Armenia, you’ll find most of the nations in the world coming to our assistance. The oil field that extends from Basra in Iraq to Baku certainly extends to Armenia. Look at the map.
GA: Have you been to Armenia?
JT: No I haven’t, and I am not going to Armenia in the near future because I don’t want to be disillusioned. I read the news about the poverty there. Armenia’s plight today is that is has no outlet to the sea. It’s futile to ask the Turks to give us back Trebizond. It’s ridiculous. The Persian Gulf is too distinctly difficult and far away from us. We have to have an outlet to the sea for our industries.
GA: So given its geopolitical circumstances, what do you think Armenia’s salvation will be?
JT: It will be when Turkey is bankrupt, just like the Soviet Union.
GA: It has gone bankrupt, but the United States is keeping it afloat.
JT: The United States is doing that, but we have to wait for international developments to create a US-Turkish enmity. That can be predicted. One of the recent examples is the recent refusal of the US to allow Turkish troops into Iraq. We could use have men in this war, but Turkey was refused allowance into Iraq.
The Turks are not happy with the status of the US airfields in Incirlik. What you have is a fundamentalist government in Turkey and they are not fully happy with America, except that America’s money is keeping them solvent. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to look forward to changing the status of the Armenian republic. Hopefully Russia will not act in that.
JS: I don’t think that’s a question right now.
JT: Right now, I agree with you. But in the event of an international explosion, you can be sure that one of the first nations that will be taken over by the Russians for “its own security” is Armenia.
JS: I first visited Armenia a few years ago. Even though there’s a lot of poverty, it’s a great feeling to be on our land. I recommend it—it’s the first time you feel truly at home.
JT: You recommend it? Then let me put on my hearing aid to listen to you (laughter). No, I really don’t want to be disillusioned. I have relatives in Gyumri, a third or fourth cousin, who is an educated man and was a professor at Yerevan State University. He is now cleaning streets. You see? There’s no reason for my going because I can’t help them. There’s nothing I can do, nothing we can do to really assist them.
But visiting would be nostalgic. It’s Armenia, it’s my parental nation. On the other hand—and this we used to teach the AYF and Mr. Darbinian was totally in favor of it—that we were damn lucky to be admitted into America. If we hadn’t been, our parents would have been forced to stay in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq. You see?
We should be grateful to America—that doesn’t mean politically. You can be what you want politically in this country. Being an American is connotated, you understand? The idea of America being a melting pot of ethnic groups is nonsense. We ought to remain an Armenian group in America! We can do that too if we pull the right strings, with the leadership we need.
GA: Do you think that the new Armenian-American generation should start to repopulate Armenia?
JT: I don’t know Garo. Let me tell you something that’s very odd. In my day when I was in the AYF there were only a handful of people who were students in college. They gravitated to the AYF—I don’t know why, but they did. That generation was AYF heartfeltly, but today things are different. There are so many around here that are all college graduates, but are they deeply interested in the fortunes of their parent people? I see little interest, except in dances (laughter). But I see virtues in social affairs too.
The Boston AYF Chapter at one time used to have a Grand Ball every November or so, and you’d find thousands of people there—thousands. I don’t see any AYF activities socially. It’s not enough for the kids to write for your children’s page [the AYF Page]. That can’t be the only activity of the AYF.
In my opinion, the only organized group worldwide today that can do anything to alleviate matters concerning the Republic is the Dashnaktsutiun. Never mind today that they are submerged over there—what are they, the third largest group? That’s because—I won’t even talk about why...
GA: As you know, it’s the 70th anniversary of the Weekly this year. Given that you were there for about 30 years, you are for the most part an expert on what the Weekly was. What are your views on what the Weekly will be in the next 70 years?
JT: I can’t predict that. But I will stress again that the only force in the world today that can do anything about Armenia is the ARF. It is the only organized force that can really operate to save Armenia, to expand Armenia, and to make it what it ought to be—a real nation, a nation in all respects. Without that force in this country, I don’t think the Armenians can very well achieve any goal.
The forces against us are remarkably strong. The AGBU today is doing what the Ramgavar party was doing before—collecting money, it has millions. This is their prime activity. Most non-Dashnaks have gravitated to that organization.
But our virtue is that when we receive a dollar, we do not accumulate it. We spend it on things that are needed in the community and in Armenia to the best of our ability. That’s why we are not an organization with many millions of dollars in reserve. We spend in terms of Armenians. What are their needs? I don’t know at this point.
JS: Because of the work that you’ve done at the Weekly, you have laid a solid foundation for what it is today. You have given some advice and some ideas here, but we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the work that you and others have done.
JT: The principal suggestion I might have is that you make it an Armenian-American newspaper. Your principal goal is to strengthen the community in this country. And in strengthening the community, you are strengthening Armenia, so that we can do what is needed. I think that without America, Armenia would have difficulty even existing. We are the principal buttress that Armenia has today. Without this community, Armenia cannot function.
You know, all these people that are going to Armenia and coming back are doing exactly what the Dashnaks wanted. Do you realize that? Your job is with purpose—to strengthen our community, the Dashnak community in this country, to create a fraternity, to create a feeling amongst ourselves that will swallow those people up and make them Dashnaks. It’s our job to teach our own people first, and to teach the others after that.
The ARF has made some errors, there’s no question about that. But overall, since 1890, it has been the Armenian community worldwide. If it weren’t for the AYF and the ARF, there would be no community in this country.
You have a whole community of former AYF members out there who today are not active. They can be brought back into the fold. How to do it? It’s up to the organization’s leadership. They can do it, but not by preaching socialism or anything like that.
Let me tell you something about socialism. In an emerging country like Armenia, I am very happy that we have what we might call a socialist government. Except that there is nothing going on that is socialistic that I know of. They are an emerging country, and they need a form of government that at least distributes equality amongst the people.
You have Armenia with its pro-Russians, with its pro-nothings. You have people like that because Armenia is a nation of different people—it’s inevitable. But we do what we can....
Tarsy Sets the Record Straight: Calls on U.S. Congress and President Bush to Recognize Armenian Genocide
By Khatchig Mouradian
BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)-On March 19, former New England director of the Anti-Defamation league (ADL) Andrew Tarsy, who resigned last fall during the uproar over his organization's position on the Armenian genocide, delivered the Robert Salomon Morton Memorial Lecture at Northeastern University in Boston.
Titled "The Power of Words: Why the Term Genocide Matters so Much 60 Years After it Became a Crime under International Law," the public lecture was Tarsy's first after his resignation, and was-with its content and message, with the lines and what was implied between the lines-a groundbreaking one. Although he avoided directly criticizing the ADL for its denial of the Armenian genocide and its opposition to congressional resolutions affirming it, Tarsy's lecture served as a powerful call against political expediency and for the unambiguous recognition of the genocide.
"In the past, the Morton Lecture has brought scholars and authors, war crimes prosecutors, and Holocaust survivors before this academic community >From all over the world," Tarsy said. "I am none of these things. But last year I wound up in the center of a storm over genocide right here in Boston, Massachusetts. You have heard the story by now. And it is not my intention to relive it with you today." He went on to explain that his lecture is based on personal experience, recent intense learning, and reflection.
Tarsy discussed in detail how and under what circumstances jurist Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide. He said, "The creation of the term genocide is inextricably linked to the deliberate annihilation of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in the early part of the 20th century and to the Holocaust itself."
He mentioned the impact Soghomon Tehlirian's assassination in Berlin of Talaat Pasha, the genocide mastermind, had on Lemkin, who embarked on a lifelong quest to make crimes against ethnic groups punishable by international law.
Tarsy provided an overview of the Armenian genocide. "The first stage was the murder of Armenian political leaders, priests and intellectuals. Then Armenian men were driven out of their communities and either executed or sent to death camps. Next the remaining women and children were taken out of their homes. Many of the women and girls were raped and murdered in scenes that are far more obscene than I could convey," Tarsy said.
"The rest, hundreds of thousands, were sent on death marches across their country, without significant food, water, clothing or shelter. Special units were organized and given orders by the government to attack the marchers on their way. Most of those who managed somehow to survive the rape and beatings died of starvation and thirst. Many surviving women were forced into the harems of Turkish men and Islamized with their children. Other groups of Armenians were loaded onto boats, taken offshore and thrown into the sea to drown."
Tarsy concluded his account of the genocide by saying, "In all, well over a million Armenians were murdered and left to starve to death by their own government and by their own countrymen. Hundreds of thousands more were permanently displaced. And their property personal, religious and historical artifacts, along with their homes, churches, schools and businesses were taken, defiled and destroyed."
Tarsy went on to explain Lemkin's effort to find a name for the crime of killing an entire group of people, and to lobby to make it an international crime. He explained, "Lemkin failed to win over the delegates at the 1933 League of Nations conference. Too political, some said. These kinds of crimes occur too seldom to legislate, said others. ... Six years later, in 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. Lemkin escaped but could not convince his family to go with him in spite of the danger. He would not know until after the war, but 49 of his family members, including both of his parents, were killed in the Holocaust. The painful irony is overwhelming."
Lemkin coined the word genocide in the mid-1940s and his tireless lobbying culminated in the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, although it would take decades until mass murderers would be tried for committing genocide.
Why the Word Matters
Tarsy explained that the word genocide matters so much today for four reasons: validation, justice, reconciliation and prevention. "All four contain the ultimate reason for the importance of the term and that is our moral obligation to discern, to the best of our ability, the truth," he said.
Talking about validation, Tarsy said, "The simple designation of genocide can be a source of meaningful validation for its victim class. 'At least the world understands what happened to us,' a survivor might say."
He added, "Many of those who avoid using the word genocide in the Armenian case are simply caught in a political no-win situation and are choosing politics over truth." He expressed hope that the next president of the United States would acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
Responding to the argument made by some that the validation conferred by using the term genocide gives the impression that all genocides are the same, Tarsy said, "I have seen no evidence of this problem during my immersion in the issue. To the contrary, the common ground Jews and Armenians find as victims of genocide seems to make them even more interested in understanding the particular and unique aspects of each other's stories. Their mutual empathy can be a source of healing, and their mutual efforts can produce wisdom."
He added, "Perhaps it can even strengthen our resolve to intervene the next time we see the precursors to genocide."
Talking about the second component of his argument, namely, justice, Tarsy said that mass murder and genocide are not one and the same. "If we don't charge people with the crimes they have actually committed, we can never provide a full accounting of the damage done. This has obvious implications for redress including reparations for the victim community. But it is much deeper than reparations. Holding people accountable for precisely the crimes they commit is fundamental to the administration of justice."
Addressing the issue of reconciliation, Tarsy again underscored the importance of using the term genocide. He said, "Being specific about what happened in these catastrophic instances is also a prerequisite to the possibility of reconciliation and progress. The existence of the term genocide itself has helped diverse people talk about history with candor and precision, and turn terrible tragedies into new possibilities."
To drive home his argument, he asked, "How can Tutsi survivors in Rwanda be expected to go back and live peacefully with their Hutu neighbors in reconciliation if there is no way to describe the entirety of what was done to them?" He also argued, "The rebirth of a Jewish community in Berlin is another example. I will not oversimplify the matter. But can you imagine this taking place without Germany's acceptance of what happened in the Holocaust?"
Finally, Tarsy underscored the importance of the term genocide in the context of prevention. He noted that when we see the precursors to genocide, we must effectively petition our leaders to act.
Tarsy called the packed audience, consisting mainly of students, to contribute to the recognition of past genocides, and the prevention of future ones. He concluded the speech poignantly, saying, "When the term genocide applies, as it does for example in the case of the Armenians, it is imperative that we be unhesitating and unambiguous in applying it, regardless of the political consequences. Anything less facilitates the obfuscation of truth. Anything less dishonors the memory of the dead. And anything less ultimately imperils the safety of the living. This is why words matter, and this is why the term genocide means so much 60 years after it became an internationally recognized crime."
During the question and answer session following the lecture, Tarsy was asked what he thought about the congressional resolution on the Armenian genocide. He responded, "Congress should recognize it as a genocide because it was a genocide, and our president should recognize it, and maybe our next president will. The politics are always going to be fierce. We are going to have troops in Iraq. Turkey is a very important ally that should be handled with the most care out of strategic reasons and out of care for the people there, but it was a genocide. So that's where we're left."
Asked about justice for the Armenian genocide 92 years after it happened, when all the perpetrators have long died, almost all the survivors are now gone and the successor government, the Turkish government, still denies it, Tarsy said, "You've identified a really big problem. The number one rule in response to it should be, 'the burden of getting us out of that predicament should not fall on the victims' because that is where it is stuck at this point. For all the Armenian people living in Boston, in the U.S., in France, or wherever, it's a really bona fide intellectual dilemma, but somebody took their houses, somebody took their bank accounts, somebody took their family Bible."
The Armenian Weekly On-Line
Doing Business with an Armenian By Tom Vartabedian
When somebody says to me, "None of your business," it usually means they don't want any.
Lately, I've been consumed by the world of business. And in my shrewd dealings, I have come to one conclusion. It is very vulgar to talk about one's own business. Only people like stockbrokers do that, and then merely at dinner parties.
I know of no better place where men may deceive one another than the stock market, especially during these troubled times. It turns into a combination of love and war.
However, that is not my business today. The matter at hand is doing business with an Armenian-those of my ethnic kind. My father was a stickler for supporting your own. He always drove home the hard fact that "birds of a feather should flock together."
When an Armenian opened up a business, Dad was usually the first one at the door. He bought his cars from an Armenian, had his insurance dealings with an Armenian, and made sure his restaurant supplies were purchased from Armenians.
His vacations-however few they were-he spent at an Armenian beach resort. When he got sick, an Armenian doctor called. If he needed a new suit, he made sure the sale went to an Armenian.
Conversely, his business drew very few Armenians. They would never reciprocate for some reason, regardless of the home-cooked meals my mother helped prepare or the fine Armenian hospitality they couldn't wait to initiate.
I happen to come from the same mold. My instincts always urge me to patronize my own kind. Given the choice, I feel more at home when I'm dealing with an Armenian. But to a certain point.
A certain turn of events has cast a shadow of doubt. Allow me to explain. I just received a letter from an Aram Hagopian. He deals in camera accessories and we've been doing business for quite some time.
He writes, "Dear Tom. After checking our records, we note that we have done more for you than your mother did. We carried you for 15 months."
I'd give the guy credit but I don't have any left. Where is this trust that Armenians are known to possess? If he made the bill out for the proper amount, I may have paid it, had the cash flow been available.
My barber was Armenian. I went to him for years, even when his eyesight was failing. Business was so bad, I felt sorry for the guy. He even had a sign in his window that read, "One barber-no waiting."
One day he cut off the sideburns on half my scalp and left the other one standing. I gotta hand it to old Sam Karoustian. It grew so popular that a fad was started and he survived a pretty close shave.
I have since taken my business to another Armenian barber. This one appears to be a lot busier, much to my regret. His window sign reads, "Four barbers-panel discussions."
A prominent Armenian philanthropist hired me to photograph his daughter's wedding and spared no expense, except when it came to the meal at the reception. While 700 guests dined on prime rib at this posh Boston hotel, I found myself in the kitchen munching on a cold turkey sandwich with members of an Armenian band.
"Couldn't we have been part of the wedding party?" I asked myself. "Hey, aren't we peas in the same pod?"
Money usually talks, but in this case, it said nothing to impress me. My father always said a rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.
I've waited an eternity for an Armenian plumber to show and don't seem to have much success with an Armenian broker. He tells me all's well, that ends. I'm afraid that's where my money is headed.
The "Armenian discount" merchants promise me tends to be 10 percent more than the normal price. I imagine it's pretty much the same across the ethnic board. It all points to another logical conclusion. People should mind their own business. If they don't, others will.
I'm still looking for a good Armenian dentist. The last one I called was 40 years ago when a nagging toothache shut me down.
"Take two aspirins and I'll call you with an appointment," he promised. I'm still waiting. In the meantime, I've taken my business to a Jewish dentist and he's treated me like one of his own.
The Armenian Weekly On-Line
Out Of Armenia, Something New?, Feb 21st 2008 | YEREVAN, The Economist
Armenia's new president says he is ready to talk to Azerbaijan
ELECTIONS in former Soviet republics rarely yield surprises. The incumbent wins; the opposition cries foul; it takes to the streets. The presidential vote in Armenia on February 19th ran true to form. Serzh Sarkisian, the prime minister, won 53% of the vote, enough to avert a runoff with his main rival, Levon Ter-Petrossian, with 21%. Mr Ter-Petrossian, a former president, said Mr Sarkisian had stolen the vote even before ballots were counted. Independent observers talked of ballot stuffing and intimidation.
Yet, as thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Yerevan, monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe opined that the election was “mostly in line with the country's international commitments”, even though the vote count in 16% of stations was “bad or very bad”. That verdict makes it more unlikely that the opposition can overturn the result.
Assuming Mr Sarkisian does get the top job, he will have his work cut out. Small and landlocked, Armenia has been blockaded by Azerbaijan and Turkey since it won a vicious war in 1994 for possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, a province of Soviet Azerbaijan that was mostly populated by Armenians. Russian troops patrol some of its borders and, though economic growth has been fuelled by a building boom and dollops of aid from America and the Armenian diaspora, much of the recent wealth is concentrated in the hands of oligarchs. Russia has a huge stake in the economy.
Like the outgoing president, Robert Kocharian, Mr Sarkisian is from Nagorno-Karabakh. Both men were commanders in the war. But unlike his hawkish predecessor, Mr Sarkisian is “a pragmatist, a skilled manager, and receptive to new ideas,” argues Tigran Mkrtchyan, a foreign-policy expert in Yerevan. As defence minister, Mr Sarkisian oversaw Armenia's adhesion to a NATO scheme for former Soviet colonies. This week Mr Sarkisian told your correspondent he was ready to make peace with Azerbaijan so long as it was “an honourable one”. This might include ceding some of the conquered territories outside Nagorno-Karabakh. On Turkey, he struck a more hawkish note, calling Turkey's pre-conditions for establishing diplomatic ties “unacceptable”. Yet long-stalled unofficial talks between the two countries are expected to resume once Mr Sarkisian takes over.
What transpires between Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan is not up to Mr Sarkisian alone. Clearing the government of corruption is. One test will be the number of allegedly crooked ministers he boots out of the cabinet. Should he flunk this, Mr Ter-Petrossian's talk of “criminal rule” will ring ever more true.
The Armenian Mirror-Spectator: "Why Do We Ignore Ictj's Report On Genocide?" AZG Armenian Daily
Washington, DC - The Armenian Assembly of America would like to call your attention to the following editorial published on March 8, 2008 in The Armenian Mirror-Specator entitled "Why Do We Ignore ICTJ's Report on Genocide?"
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Below is the full text of the the editorial entitled "Why Do We Ignore ICTJ's Report on Genocide?"
March 8, 2008
Why Do We Ignore ICTJ's Report on Genocide?
Turkey's current Genocide denial strategy is grounded on a specious proposal for a new joint study by Armenian and Turkish historians of the events of 1915-1923 although just that kind of study had already been done by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). The center's report categorically concluded that the horrors suffered by Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I met all the critical criteria of genocide as defined by the 1948 International Genocide Convention. That treaty was adopted by the international community of nations, including Turkey.
The Armenian and Turkish participants in the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, (TARC), whose membership was agreed to by both governments, jointly sponsored the ICTJ study. That center is a highly-respected institution whose mission includes the readiness "to assist countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuses." ICTJ scholars studies all the critical evidence and arguments submitted by both Turks and Armenians and after careful analysis concluded that the Armenian population of western Armenia had been victims of Genocide. Whereas ICTJ study's strict mandate was to define 1915-1923 atrocities, it did not further comment whether Armenians could use its finding to seek reparations from Turkey. After all is said, its finding remains as powerful argument for our nation. Its verdict was so stark that Turks immediately denied its validity. That the Turks rejected the findings is understandable. They lost.
But why have most Armenian political activists deliberately ignored the findings?
The reason for Armenian silence is self-evident. When TARC was formed, it generated an emotional opposition campaign led primarily by the ARF. Even though the Armenian government was consulted throughout the entire TARC process and approved of its mission, Yerevan distanced itself from the enterprise when the sharp attacks on TARC were hottest. Most other groups in the diaspora did as well. They were uncomfortable with the controversy and either shied away from it or joined the chorus of criticism.
We also took issue with TARC. But we objected to the adopted process of the effort and composition of the group and not its intent. In any case, whether TARC should have been organized differently or whether it made tactical or other mistakes, it is a fact, that its singular achievement, the ICTJ's validation of the Armenian Genocide, was not recognized.
The Armenian Assembly has been the lone advocate of the ICTJ report. It consistently invoked the ICTJ verdict in statements issued before and during the congressional effort to pass Resolution 106 recognizing the Armenian Genocide. There were two other notable exceptions. Hrant Dink and former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans. Hrant Dink said the formation of TARC and the ICTJ report gave him the opportunity to pursue his cause to gain Turkey's acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide. And Evans has cited the ICTJ report as one of the key factors that convinced him to publicly state the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. It is a pity that others have not done the same. We have needlessly deprived ourselves of a powerful argument in our efforts to gain Congress to enact the Armenian Genocide resolution.
Henceforth, the Armenian Mirror-Spectator will invoke the ICTJ report to counter Turkey's new study ploy.
We will expose that proposal as a smokescreen to hide Turkey's true motive. Ankara fears the inevitability of congressional recognition and hopes that their offer will convince enough members of Congress to avoid enacting Resolution 106. They want their proposal to be seen as reasonable and a fair way to remove this vexing problem from public discussion.
We must not let that happen. Whatever the Armenian communities' objections were to the TARC process the ICTJ verdict was an impressive achievement indeed. It is an important weapon in our arsenal of arguments to gain the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Turkish denial must be confronted always and everywhere and to deny us the compelling verdict of the ICTJ is both unwise and self-defeating.
Press Committee of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator
Our Humor Is Just Like Our Country
Yerevan, April 1, Noyan Tapan. "The April 1 holiday of 2008 is not marked festively, as there is March 1 in this April 1," Aramayis Sahakian, the Chairman of the Union of Armenian Humorists, the editor-in-chief of the Vozni newspaper, said at the April 1 press conference meaning the March 1 events when eight demonstrants and one policemen died. He expressed the hope that next year April 1 will be marked solemnly and will give a smile to the Armenian people that has experienced many sufferings. Meanwhile A. Sahakian said that there are few "joyful" holidays on the Armenian calendar: and April 1 was officially proclaimed as a holiday of humor thanks to the former Prime Minister, late Andranik Margarian.
According to Sukias Torosian, the Head of the Union of Cartoonists, at present "everything is in a satirical condition" and we do not have the cultural ideas we had formed formerly. "Our cartoonists, for instance, return with a victory from all international contests," he said. According to S. Torosian, one of Armenian cartoonists has gained at once six medals in a contest held in China lately. However their talent and success, as S. Torosian added, do not contribute to increase of attention to caricature in Armenia. For instance, that branch of art is appreciated so highly in England that there is a museum of cartoons there.
Actor Hrant Tokhatian said that after the collapse of the Soviet Union the Armenians renounced high-quality Soviet humor, but have failed to create their own humor so far. "Our humor or satire is just like our country," he concluded.
Azerbaijani Genocide 31 Mart 1918: Don't Forget Bloodiest Pages Of History By Rovshan Ibrahimov
02 April 2008, Turkish Weekly
In 1918, while the entire world was involved hitherto unprecedented in the history of mankind war, the Armenian armed brigades, using the anarchic situation created relative to the collapse of the Ottoman and Russian empires, through terror, has tried to create own state, Armenia, on the territory of regions Anatolia (Turkey) and Southern Caucasus. To this end, receiving broad support from the Bolshevik Russia, the Armenian formation on 30, March 31 and April 1 committed the carnage in Baku against the Muslim population, cruelly destroying up to 15 thousand people.
The events in Baku were well planned and were implemented by the military formations Armenian terrorist organization Dashnaktsutyun and Bolsheviks. It is noteworthy that at the time Baku was under the administration of Baku Commune, consisting mainly Armenian and Slavic origin Kommissars (Ministers). Chairman of the commune was, the representative of Lenin Armenian origin Stepan Shaumyan. Dashnaktyutun and Bolsheviks looking for the cause and to forcibly change the ethnic composition of Baku. It should be noted that the six months before the genocide, Azerbaijani party Musavat during the elections in Baku City Council won three times more votes than the Bolsheviks. This could not alert in Baku Bolsheviks, as Baku was one of the few industrial centers former Russian Empire.
In addition, it was actually the only center of oil production in which so craved Bolshevik power in Russia.
After the funeral of Azerbaijani philanthropist Zeynalabdin Tagiyev's son, Mohammed who died in Lenkoran held in Baku, the officers were present at the regiment, which served late, had to go back to the Lenkoran with the military ship "Evelyn". Armenians immediately spread rumors about that Azeri officers have ordered the destruction of the Russian population of Mughan, region in the Southern part of Azerbaijan. Taking advantage of the situation committee headed by Stepan Shaumian, disarmed officers from the ship. Muslim organizations tasked committee to return the weapons of the Azerbaijani officers. However, in response Shaumyan announced the attack on the Azerbaijani population in Baku.
Mass rioting and destruction of innocent civilians also continued in other settlements of Azerbaijan. So only Shamahi has been wiped off the face of the earth 58 villages, in Guba - 112 in Gyandja province - 272 (including 115 in Zangezur and 157 in Karabakh), in Irevan province - 211 in Kars area - 82 settlements, destroyed hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis, about a million people driven from their historical-ethnic lands. This is just an incomplete list of settlements destroyed, along with all its population.
While Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora for many years are working for the recognition of the Armenian population resettlement events which took place in the former Ottoman Empire in the of 1915 as genocide, the events of March 31 insufficiently covered on the pages of world history. Azerbaijanis Genocide of 1918 was one of the bloodiest events in the history of Azerbaijan, along with the bloody tragedy in Baku in January 1990, and genocide in Khojaly in 1992.
As can be seen only in the 20th century Armenian fascism, several times subjected to ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis living territory, ensuring that the territory of present-day Armenia is not available a single Azerbaijani town and none any Azerbaijani settled here. It was also expelled more than a million Azerbaijanis from Nagorny Karabakh and the surrounding occupied by Armenian forces, the seven administrative regions. In the territory of Armenia destroyed thousands of historical monuments belonging to the Azerbaijani history and culture, changed many names.
According to the decree published during the presidency of Heydar Aliyev, on 26 March 1998 31 March events has been officially recognized as Azerbaijanis Genocide Day. This ordinance is a vital step in restoring the historical reality of what happened. As can be seen, these events should not be forgotten, because as you can see from history, exposing events once again failed to hit the peaceful Azerbaijani population.
On the other hand the international community must also alert the genocide of Azerbaijanis in the events of March 31, 1918. This is the most humanity, remembering the bloody pages of its history, will get a chance to prevent the recurrence of such events.
Countering AKP Propaganda by Michael van der Galien
by Ali Şur (29 Mar 2008):
Sign At The Entrance:
"Turkish Cabinet Meeting In Progress"
A friend of mine, and reader of this blog, has written a guest post for PoliGazette in response to an op-ed by Mustafa Akyol, which was published in the Wall Street Journal. As you all will know, we encourage readers to send us their opinions; if we like what they write - we don’t have to agree with it of course - we’ll publish it. Here’s His post called “Countering AKP Propaganda.”
The AKP is adept at, if nothing else, promoting propaganda to demonize its opponents and using legal and illegal means to silence its opponents, all while quietly marching a country in which the vast majority of the population is against religious fundamentalism towards Sharia law. The AKP is nothing more than a wolf wrapped in sheep’s clothing.
Who is Mustafa Akyol?
He is an Islamic writer, who claims to argue both against Islamic extremism and what he calls extreme secularism. Yet, he is an outspoken promoter of intelligent design. He works with Islamic foundations that base theories of modern science on religion. Akyol identifies himself as a spokesman for Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, a group accused of intimidating Turkish university professors in campaigns to limit academic freedom as part of a creationist movement. He is director of a subsidiary founded by Fethullah Gülen-leader of a movement that has founded thousands of Islamic religious schools that indoctrinate students and a man who has urged his followers in the judiciary and public service to “work patiently to take control of the state.”
Mustafa Akyol is part and parcel of a movement to eliminate secularism and that promotes an Islamic state, based on Islamic law-the antithesis of democracy.
What is Akyol’s propaganda?
Akyol’s opinion piece promotes tyranny of the minority and is a smear campaign against those who wish to maintain the separation of religion and government in Turkey, and leave religion in the private sphere-as is done in all modern democracies.
Akyol fails to mention that 53% of the population in Turkey did not vote for the AKP and that secularists who voted for the AKP did so in response to the AKP’s moderate message of tolerance, its promise of economic and not religious reforms, and assurances the AKP was not moving the Republic of Turkey towards Sharia law, messages the AKP has dropped from its platform since the election. Contrary to Akyol’s assertions, secularists comprise the undisputed majority in Turkey.
Who is the AKP and what do they stand for?
Akyol misrepresents and craftily avoids discussing the most objectionable of the AKP’s recent attempts to bring religion into government. He does not discuss how AKP politicians have attempted to make adultery punishable by a three year prison sentence, make consumption of alcohol illegal, or the AKP’s censorship of the media and any who dare to criticize it.
While Akyol references Gucci wearing women in headscarves, he fails to mention the increased incidents of so-called “honor killings” in the more conservative provinces, the proponents of which find support in Islamic fundamentalism, that women who dare not wear “Islamic fashions” are now increasingly harassed on the street, that a follower recently found justification for throwing acid on the legs of a women who was wearing a skirt that was “too short”, that families of poor women are paid to force their daughters to wear the hijab, or that the Koran says no more than for followers to dress modestly–it says nothing of scarves, hijabs or burkhas.
Just this week, the AKP raided the house of an 83 year-old Ilhan Selcuk, a journalist and the head of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper (akin to the NY Times in the U.S.). 12 others were arrested in simultaneous raids in Ankara and Istanbul. One of the arrested is Professor Alemdaroglu, former president of Istanbul University, the largest in Turkey. Another is the Labor Party’s leader, Dogu Perincek. Others are journalists and media people. These people now join about 30 others who were recently arrested and charged with the same offense.
The imprisoned all share the common attribute of being outspoken critics of the AKP, and all stand accused under the same 2 articles of the penal code, inciting riots against the state and forming secret organizations for that purpose.
While Akyol tries to represent the AKP as a party representing democracy, AKP based government officials have now sued or jailed more journalists and critics of its regime than any other government in Turkey. That is the AKP-style democracy Akyol promotes in his propaganda piece.
A Turkish historian recently wryly commented that Turkey now in 2008 is like the Iran of 1978. All that is needed now is the return from the U.S. of Fethullah Gulen who, just as Ayatollah Khomeini was in Tehran, could be met by a crowd of one million.
Why do the EU and U.S. support the AKP?
The E.U. and U.S. want to maintain Turkey in a weakened state to maintain control over the transport of precious natural resources (oil and gas) and create reasons to keep Turkey out of the E.U. What better way to accomplish both goals than to promote a religious regime the majority of Turkish society opposes?
However, the destabilized state in which the west wishes to maintain Turkey by supporting Islamic regimes requires a delicate balance–something the west has proven, via its former support of the Taliban “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan and its Iraqi invasion, to be completely inept at achieving and maintaining at the expense of millions of people. Nor does the west learn from its past mistakes.
All that the west has achieved by interfering in Turkey’s internal politics (ongoing since the 1800s) is a precarious balance that was slowly, and is now more rapidly tipping towards an intolerant, undemocratic and religious regime that ignores the will of the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Turkey.
Akyol’s opinion piece is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to make Sharia strictures socially acceptable before forcing their formal adoption by a society that rejects them.
March 28, 2008
Have you read anything on Suffism from Mr. Güllen ?
A. A. B.
March 28, 2008
Mr. Gülen mentions the word Sufism, but he says "Sufism should be according to Coran and Sunna". I’m sorry, but that is absurd. Sufism claims a spiritual level that actually goes beyond textual literalism.
He also rejects core Sufi beliefs such as wahdat al-wujud/vahdet-i vücud and claims spiritual experience in Sufism to be crazyness, but for which he has a lot of tolerance.
So, I am sorry but Mr. Gülen claims the term without subscribing to the content. As for his actual beliefs, it should be interesting to note that he cites Sayyid Qutb/Seyyid Kutub as one of his inspirations.
March 28, 2008
AAB - Would you please explain what Sayyid Qutb/Seyyid Kutub is?
Although it is impressive that the AKP obtained 47% of the vote in the last election, it is true, as the author states, that 53% did not vote for the AKP. The AKP seems to believe that the last election gave it a mandate, yet the country seems to be deeply divided. This is not a good state of affairs.
Isn’t the real question here why the EU and US support the AKP whereas it does not represent the true majority? Why do they support the AKP’s religious reforms as "democratic" when it does not represent the will of the majority of the people?
And, isn’t the reason that Turkey is portrayed as a successful model of "moderate Islam" due to its secular tradition from which all apperances the AKP is moving away from?
Do the EU and US really want to alienate the 53% of the population (roughly 38 million people) who oppose introduction of religion into the government sphere?
I find it odd that countries that oppose the wearing of headscarves by muslim girls in their schools support a political party that is opposed to such a policy.
There is too much hypocrisy inherent in the response of the west towards this issue for comfort.
Michael van der Galien
March 28, 2008
That’s a radical Hally. It’s a founding father, so to speak, of the modern extremist movement. He, basically, was a terrorist and told others to become terrorists as well.
And, isn’t the reason that Turkey is portrayed as a successful model of "moderate Islam" due to its secular tradition from which all apperances the AKP is moving away from?
Exactly: and for some reasons too many Europeans don’t understand that there’s a connection between the two. Either that, or they don’t truly care.
March 28, 2008
The following article is from: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oew-ellis28mar28,1,7404770.story
My apologies if this is in violation of any Poligazette policy against posting entire articles, but this one was too good not to share. It actually cites facts, figures and quotes to support its statements.
BLOWBACK Turkey’s religious bent The ruling party is corrupting the country’s secular character. By Robert Ellis
March 28, 2008 In his Blowback, "My party is good for Turkey," Egemen Bagis does what can only be described as a hatchet job on Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Bagis, who is a foreign policy advisor to the Turkish prime minister, calls Cagaptay a "self-proclaimed Turkey expert," but this kind of language is nothing new to Bagis.
In November 2005, he dismissed a warning by Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, concerning Turkey’s current account deficit as "entertaining." But now the chickens have come home to roost. Turkey’s current account deficit is close to an annual $40 billion, and the ongoing credit crunch combined with the political turmoil in Ankara could have foreign investors heading for the door. As those investors plug a large portion of the deficit and sit on 72% of the shares traded on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, their departure could precipitate a crisis similar to the one Turkey experienced in 2001.
And incidentally, Bagis seems to be nowhere as thin-skinned as his boss, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a report by the Turkish Publishers Union two years ago, Erdogan had already earned around $90,000 in compensation by suing journalists and authors for "violating his rights and freedoms."
When Bagis claims the governing Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, is "upgrading the country’s democratic standards," this is construed differently by the secular opposition. In the words of columnist Cüneyt Ülsever, the party is engaged in "the formation of a religion-based state," which is different from the concept of a secular democracy enshrined in the Turkish Constitution.
One of the leading principles in that constitution is Article 10, which concerns gender equality and explains the opposition to wearing head scarves at universities and in schools and public offices. Bagis claims that letting women wear them is a sign that Turkey is an "advanced democracy," and that otherwise, women wouldn’t go to university. But as the European Court of Human Rights noted in a November 2005 ruling allowing the prohibition of head scarves, "[The head scarf] appeared to be imposed on women by a religious precept that was hard to reconcile with the principle of gender equality."
The head scarf is also perceived as the banner of political Islam. Erdogan remarked in January: "Even if [the head scarf] is a political symbol, can you ban political symbols or can you say that wearing a symbol is a crime?" Furthermore, recent research shows that only 1% of female students say that head scarf concerns stop them from enrolling in universities.
The AKP is replacing the top echelons of the educational system — along with state administration and the judiciary — with its own followers. It intends to give religious school graduates the same access to universities as state high school graduates as part of this process, so that students primarily trained to be imams can replace secular leaders in the bureaucracy.
As far as Turkish foreign policy is concerned, the last word still belongs to "Bearded Celal," a little-known Turkish philosopher who wrote 50 years ago that "Turkey is a ship heading for the East. Those aboard think they are heading for the West. In fact, they are just running westwards in a ship sailing eastwards."
Among examples of the reorientation of Turkey’s foreign policy toward the Middle East are the visit to Ankara by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in February 2006 and the cordial reception given to Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir in January. And when Erdogan visited Khartoum two years ago, he declared that no assimilation or genocide was committed in Darfur.
On the visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to Turkey in August 2006, Abdullah’s foreign minister declared Turkey to be Saudi Arabia’s new strategic partner, and this entente was enhanced when Abdullah was awarded a state medal of honor from Turkey last November.
This cordial relationship undoubtedly has to do with the level of Saudi investment in Turkey, but there is a more sinister element. Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has researched the influx of money into Turkey from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern states and concludes that this is "an engine for Islamist parties to whittle away at Turkey’s secular traditions."
Therefore, it would have been helpful if Bagis had spent time substantiating his assertions instead of attacking Cagaptay. As I learned at school when playing rugby, "Go for the ball and not the man!"
Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish press and in the Turkish Daily News.
March 29, 2008
The great surprise to me is the fact that Wall Street Journal actually posted the disagreeing comments on its discussion forum including the one above :)))
Wall Street Journal has taken a 180 degree turn from its 2005 portrayal of Turkey's AKP as the Anti-Semitic religious fundamentalists. The then-infamous smear-piece called "The Sick Man of Europe - Again", surely has not been forgotten by many.
In a swift turn to the opposite end of the spectrum, The Wall Street Journal of 2008 has apparently befriended this so-called "Moderate" Islamic party so much that they have honored one of their chief propagandists with an opinion piece that successfully employs the mud-slinging tactics favored by your editorial.
Clearly what was the enemy in 2005 has all of sudden become the Journal's best friend. That the Journal has fallen for the "Moderation" propaganda of AKP is obvious. Mr. Akyol would have fooled ME as well, had he not so blatantly and outrageously attacked the protectors of the secular republic as "extreme" elements of Turkish society that have to be shunned just like radical Islamists...
It takes a talented writer like Mr. Akyol to portray secular people committed to Kemalist principles as jihadists rivaling Osama bin Ladin. It takes an equally clueless and naïve bunch of Western journalists to actually BUY that argument.
Veil is NO freedom. This argument would be laughable if it were not being taken that seriously by many. NOBODY chooses to wear the headscarf. Those who claim to do so indeed do it under pressure from family and friends, and then pretend it's been their own idea all along. The culture forces the woman to cover her "unforgivable shame", and then presents it in a much better sounding package of "modesty". In political Islam, modest woman cover, immodest ones don't.
When will the West come to grips with the fact that the veil has become a front in the ongoing "clash of civilizations", where both sides are using the woman's body and how they want to present it as a symbolic means to further their agendas? Fundamentalist Islam wants to cover the woman, the Western World wants to "open it up" as a supposed sign of modernity and advancement.
Ridicule me. Call me the intolerant elitist secularist. Because I'm a Turkish woman who wants to have the freedom NOT to wear the headscarf. While you are busy doing that, be informed that a good number of Turkish women are now being forced to cover under pressure. On top of that, those whose wives don't "cover" do NOT get promoted within the AKP Government or will not be awarded lucrative government contracts. The veil is the ultimate symbol of political Islam, where the effects are most strongly felt in Turkey rather than in Europe or the United States.
Who wouldn't want to see Moderate Islam succeed? The VERY nature of the secular Turkish Republic is precisely what makes "Moderate" Islam a true possibility today. Indeed, none of the other Muslim countries have succeeded in establishing Islamic way of living as a true success story. Because there is NO country out there that has been able to do that without falling under fundamentalist ruling governed by Shariah laws. No exceptions to the rule. Only Turkey.
The only way to keep it that way is via adhering to Kemalist Principles, and that means maintaining the secular nature of the Turkish Republic. If this idea of "clash of civilizations" is going to be resolved, the solution will be found within Turkey, with foundations laid down by Ataturk's principles and nothing else. There's not a truly Moderate Islamic society out there. That's why Turkey remains Islam's only chance. Because no other "Muslim" society is capable of doing it.
So if Wall Street Journal is intent on making "Moderate" Islam their new best friend, they should ask themselves who these true "Moderate" Muslims are and who represents real Islam. The ranks of AKP that utilize religion for political agendas do not constitute Moderate Muslims nor do they protect real Islam, but those who guard the secular nature of the republic do. Thanks to Kemalist secularists, Islam in Turkey is the only one not hijacked by religious fundamentalists. Perhaps you will learn to respect secularism in Turkey and the way Kemalist principles have so successfully maintained today's Islam and the way it's so peacefully practiced in Turkey today.
Perhaps one day the Journal will actually publish a critical piece about Turkey that seeks to analyze issues rather than smear and swift boat the opposition. And perhaps one day, Wall Street Journal will LEARN how to become a MODERATE commentator that actually sheds light upon the very urgent problems faced by Turkey as well as the entire world civilization.
April 1, 2008
Let`s suppose. Kemal is right! AKP and other conservative muslims are threatining Turkish Republic and have a secret agenda to establish islamic state. So secular establishment should shut down AK Party and execute %47 of turkish population.
Of course nobody can kill anyone for not having the same ideology. But Secular establishment are trying to do the smiliar things. They are using every possible way to opress from observant muslim majority to kurdish minority, greek and armenian minority.
This opression led road to PKK terorist organization. I fear that this steps by the establishment cause people express themselves using violence.
We all need democracy and observant muslims and kurdish minority want Turkey`s European Union membership to be freed from the establishment`s opression. Like many turkish immigrants seeking safe heaven on european soil.
April 4, 2008
Mr Kemal’s comment is misleading in the sense that 53% of the population is fiercely opposing AK party and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Public opinion polls tell that 30% of the voters wont ever vote for the AK Party, and their reasons vary from far right to far left, and 20 % out of the remaining 53% voters indicated that AK party would be their second choice.
The rest of Mr Kemal’s comments are just copy/paste from CHP(Republican party) propoganda.
April 5, 2008
Mustafa you are wrong, when did anyone who believes in secularism (which is the more enlightened view after centuries of religious oppression by various religions) want to execute "47% of the Turkish population", you are sounding very ignorant right now.
Secular establishment IS DEMOCRACY AND FREEDOM. It is the belief that government should not have a religious bias towards Muslim, Christians, Jews, or any other religions.
Secular establishment PROTECTS minorities, while parties like AKP are the antithesis of democracy and freedom because they want religious institutions to control people’s lives rather than the freedom of each one’s own belief derived by their own thinking rather than what others force them to believe.
The Headscarf IS an oppression of freedom and religion, because it solidifies a belief in religious institutions of Islam rather than Islam, the Qur’an, or God. Neither God nor the Qur’an ever clearly states that Muslims should wear head scarves–this is a MYTH.
This MYTH was created by corrupt religious leaders who want to control women– it is an offense against every woman in the face of the planet. No feminist would accept such bullcrap.
Credit For Above: PoliGazette, March 27, 2008
Secular Jihad By Mustafa Akyol
March 26, 2008, Istanbul
Who would you expect to be zealous enemies of "moderate Islam"? Islamic fundamentalists? You bet. From Osama bin Laden & Co. to less violent but equally fanatic groups, Islamist militants abhor their co-religionists who reject tyranny and violence in the name of God. But they are not alone. In this part of the world, there is another group that holds a totally opposite worldview but shares a similar hatred of moderate Islam: Turkey's secular fundamentalists.
This secular hatred comes, most recently, in the form of a stunning attempt by judicial means to shut down the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and ban its top 71 members, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, from politics for five years. Even President Abdullah Gül, a former AKP minister, is on the to-ban list of the country's chief prosecutor, Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, who submitted his indictment to the Constitutional Court in Ankara on March 14. The court is expected to decide this week whether to take up the case.
It is, needless to say, the first time that a ruling party, which won 47% of the vote less than a year ago, is threatened with judicial extermination. In the past, pro-Kurdish parties have been closed down due to their links with the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). Yet the AKP is under threat simply because of its political views. It's a judicial version of the military coup d'etats that Turkey has experienced four times in the past half century.
Yet what are those political views of the AKP which, according to the chief prosecutor, require its banning? The 53,000-word indictment gives a clear answer: The AKP folks are too religious, they speak about God and religion in the public square, and they want more religious freedom.
The major "crime" of the AKP that is emphasized in the indictment, and which provoked the whole process, is the recent constitutional amendment that opened the way for female students to wear Islamic head scarves in Turkish universities. This ban was enacted in 1989 by a Constitutional Court decision. Since then thousands of young girls have been forced to choose between their beliefs and a university education. Some have gone to European or American colleges. Others have tried to wear wigs on top of their scarves in order to enter Turkish campuses.
The indictment also presents lengthy quotes from Prime Minister Erdogan that demonstrate his "antisecular views and activities." These include his remarks in June 2005 to CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "My daughters can go to American universities with their head scarf. There is religious freedom in your country, and we want to bring the same thing to Turkey." In another "criminal" statement, made in London in September 2005, Mr. Erdogan said, "my dream is a Turkey in which veiled and unveiled girls will go to the campus hand in hand." During a February 2005 interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag, his "crime" was to note, "We Turks prefer the Anglo-Saxon interpretation of secularism to the French one" -- for the former grants more religious freedom to its citizens. For the chief prosecutor, these all prove that Mr. Erdogan and his party aim to dilute and then overthrow secularism.
Actually there is some truth to this claim, because Turkey's official secularism is fiercely illiberal and shows limited respect for religious freedom. Any religious expression or symbol in the public square is considered an infringement of secular principles. For Ankara's old guard, the public square should be dominated by what former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer proudly defined as "the state ideology."
According to Princeton historian Sükrü Hanioglu, this ideology is rooted in the "vulgar materialism" of late 19th-century Germany, which heralded a postreligious age of "science and reason." This philosophy, which was emulated by some of the Young Turks and inherited by most of their Kemalist successors, has been openly endorsed by the Constitutional Court. "The secularism principle," Turkey's top judicial body argued in a 1989 decision, "requires that the society should be kept away from thoughts and judgments that are not based on science and reason."
A similar secular fundamentalism is propagated in the West by popular thinkers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens -- but there it is one of many competing ideas. In Turkey secular fundamentalism is the official ideology, and it is eager to crush any alternative.
Besides their ideology, Turkish secularists also use a seemingly realist argument. If religion is given even a little bit of space in public, they argue, it will soon dominate the whole system. This doctrine of pre-emptive intolerance guides, and misleads, Ankara's establishment on virtually every issue. If we allow the Kurds to speak in their mother tongue, the establishment has argued for seven decades, we will have a Kurdish problem. But today they have a much bigger problem precisely because they have suppressed the Kurdish language and culture. Despite their presumptions, it is repression, not freedom, that feeds political radicalism.
Turkish secularists also portray the AKP as part of the radical Islamist movement. For them, there is no difference between the Gucci-wearing, head-scarved woman in Istanbul who wants to study business and the chador-wearing woman in Tehran who cries, "Death to capitalism!"
But the Muslim-democrat AKP is quite different from the Islamists of the Middle East. That's simply because Turkish Islam is a unique interpretation of the global faith. Since the Ottoman reforms of the 19th century, Turkey's observant Muslims have been widely favorable toward democracy. And since the 1980s, thanks to their engagement in globalization and capitalism, they have become much more Western-oriented than much of the secular elite. That's why the secularists constantly accuse the AKP and the supporting "Muslim bourgeoisie" of serving "American imperialism" and "Zionism." The same paranoia is reflected in the chief prosecutor's indictment. In it he notes, apparently in all seriousness, that Colin Powell and other U.S. officials have praised "moderate Islam," and he connects Prime Minister Erdogan to "the American Broader Middle East Project which aims at ruling countries via moderate Islamic regimes."
The U.S. should indeed encourage Turkey not to enact a "moderate Islamic regime" -- a project that exists only in the fantasies of Turkish secularists -- but to achieve a real democracy in which the sovereignty of the people overrides the ideology of its bureaucrats and army officers. What the latter threatens these days is not only the most popular and successful political party of Turkey, but also this country's democracy.
Mr. Akyol is deputy editor of Turkish Daily News.
Copyright © 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc
Turkey's religious bent: The ruling party is corrupting the country's secular character By Robert Ellis, March 28, 2008
In his Blowback, "My party is good for Turkey," Egemen Bagis does what can only be described as a hatchet job on Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Bagis, who is a foreign policy advisor to the Turkish prime minister, calls Cagaptay a "self-proclaimed Turkey expert," but this kind of language is nothing new to Bagis.
In November 2005, he dismissed a warning by Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, concerning Turkey's current account deficit as "entertaining." But now the chickens have come home to roost. Turkey's current account deficit is close to an annual $40 billion, and the ongoing credit crunch combined with the political turmoil in Ankara could have foreign investors heading for the door. As those investors plug a large portion of the deficit and sit on 72% of the shares traded on the Istanbul Stock Exchange, their departure could precipitate a crisis similar to the one Turkey experienced in 2001.
And incidentally, Bagis seems to be nowhere as thin-skinned as his boss, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to a report by the Turkish Publishers Union two years ago, Erdogan had already earned around $90,000 in compensation by suing journalists and authors for "violating his rights and freedoms."
When Bagis claims the governing Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, is "upgrading the country's democratic standards," this is construed differently by the secular opposition. In the words of columnist Cüneyt Ülsever, the party is engaged in "the formation of a religion-based state," which is different from the concept of a secular democracy enshrined in the Turkish Constitution.
One of the leading principles in that constitution is Article 10, which concerns gender equality and explains the opposition to wearing head scarves at universities and in schools and public offices. Bagis claims that letting women wear them is a sign that Turkey is an "advanced democracy," and that otherwise, women wouldn't go to university. But as the European Court of Human Rights noted in a November 2005 ruling allowing the prohibition of head scarves, "[The head scarf] appeared to be imposed on women by a religious precept that was hard to reconcile with the principle of gender equality."
The head scarf is also perceived as the banner of political Islam. Erdogan remarked in January: "Even if [the head scarf] is a political symbol, can you ban political symbols or can you say that wearing a symbol is a crime?" Furthermore, recent research shows that only 1% of female students say that head scarf concerns stop them from enrolling in universities.
The AKP is replacing the top echelons of the educational system -- along with state administration and the judiciary -- with its own followers. It intends to give religious school graduates the same access to universities as state high school graduates as part of this process, so that students primarily trained to be imams can replace secular leaders in the bureaucracy.
As far as Turkish foreign policy is concerned, the last word still belongs to "Bearded Celal," a little-known Turkish philosopher who wrote 50 years ago that "Turkey is a ship heading for the East. Those aboard think they are heading for the West. In fact, they are just running westwards in a ship sailing eastwards."
Among examples of the reorientation of Turkey's foreign policy toward the Middle East are the visit to Ankara by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in February 2006 and the cordial reception given to Sudan's President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir in January. And when Erdogan visited Khartoum two years ago, he declared that no assimilation or genocide was committed in Darfur.
On the visit of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to Turkey in August 2006, Abdullah's foreign minister declared Turkey to be Saudi Arabia's new strategic partner, and this entente was enhanced when Abdullah was awarded a state medal of honor from Turkey last November.
This cordial relationship undoubtedly has to do with the level of Saudi investment in Turkey, but there is a more sinister element. Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has researched the influx of money into Turkey from wealthy Islamist businessmen and Middle Eastern states and concludes that this is "an engine for Islamist parties to whittle away at Turkey's secular traditions."
Therefore, it would have been helpful if Bagis had spent time substantiating his assertions instead of attacking Cagaptay. As I learned at school when playing rugby, "Go for the ball and not the man!"
Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish press and in the Turkish Daily News.