- Flag Burning Angers Turkey (Video) & & 3 Turks Burn Armenian Flag In Protest in Iskenderun
- Turkish Historian Cicek: “No Genocide Was Committed On April 24, Only 556 Armenian Terrorists Were Arrested”
- Ankara Condemns Disrespect For Its Flag In Armenia Commemoration
- Bush Refuses To Say 'Genocide,' Again
- Van Riot, The Children Heroes And A Tragedy Of A Doctor
- Al Jazeera Film Documents Armenian Massacre Of Turks
- Armenia To Step Up "Genocide" Recognition Drive By Hasmik Mkrtchyan
- Armenia: Overcoming the Past - How Can A People Overcome A History Of Genocide? By Cesar Chelala
- No Surprise In White House's April 24 Statement
- Eve Of April 24 Tranquil On The Armenian Front
- A New Era Of Relations With Yerevan?
- ‘We Came To Çanakkale As British-Australians And Walked Away As Australians’
- 301: Same Old Cake With New Icing?, Amanda Akcakoca
- Kizkalesi: Sun, Sea, Sand -- And Castles
- Armenia Cold To Turkey's Call For Dialogue
- Armenian Genocide Identified As Template For Holocaust And Other ‘Modern’ Genocides 23.04.2008
- Rand Corporation: Progress In Armenia-Turkey Relations Possible After Karabakh Settlement
- Armenian Genocide: Justice Is Demand Of International Law And Security Of Nations
- Pamuk’s “Youth” To Be Published In Armenian
- Over Thousand Armenian Citizens Immigrated In U.S. In 2007
- Baku Hosts Roundtable On “so-Called Armenian Genocide: Today’s Realities”
- Five Years Of My Life: An Innocent Man In Guantanamo By Murat Kurnaz
- Babacan's Address To Ra Foreign Minister Was As Warm As Turkish President's To Serge Sarkisian
- Turkish Formin Says Sent Dialogue Letter To Armenia
- Germany's Turkish Minority - Two Unamalgamated Worlds
- US Refuses Engine Production In Turkey For Attack Choppers
- Another Example Of Keeping Fire Aflame, So That Animosity Persists, Donations Exist
- ``Turkic Network” was Founded in New York
- Turkey “Slams” Argentinean Statement On Armenian Genocide
- BBC, The Washington Post And PKK by Sedat Laciner
- Speaker Pelosi Urges To Put An End To Turkey’s “Gag-Rule" On The U.S. Congress
- "Le Monde" Comments On Babacan's Message To Armenian Foreign Minister By H. Chaqrian
- Turkish-Americans Taking Steps To Build Their Influence In Washington
- Campaign Urging Ankara To Acknowledge Armenian Genocide Starts In France
- EAFJD: EU Denies Armenian Genocide To Please Turkey
- Turkey's Genocide Dilemma by Jasper Mortimer
- “Atlas of Shame” On Tortures In Modern Turkey Published
- My Dream For Turkey, By Boris’s Great-Grandfather
- Armen Ayvazyan: Refusal From Territorial Claims Without Any Political Dividends Impermissible
- It's Time to Demand Reparations for Genocide, Says Historian
- Turkey Makes Strange Demands Of Armenia To Establish Diplomatic Relations
- Union Of Martyr Nations Formed In Yerevan
- PKK Militants Fleeing To Armenia, Four Killed
- Turkey Seeks Dialogue With New Armenian Gov't
- Secretary Of State Takes Upbeat Line On Karabakh Peace Armenian Reporter
- Ten Years Of Foreign Policy, Security Under Robert Kocharian, by Tatul Hakobyan - Armenian Reporter
- Editorial: The Armenian Genocide: Moving Forward Armenian Reporter
- Stay For Ragip Zarakolu
- Ep/Turkey: A New Report Without Any Political Position
- Sweden Was Informed Of Extermination Of Armenians In 1915 But Preferred Not To Intervene
- How The Society Is Being Stripped Of Its Immunity
- Watertown Center Helps Survivors Tell Their Stories To Following Generations
- NJ Meeting With Guenter Lewy On Monday 21st: The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide
- Eafjd: Ep Rapporteur On Turkey Avoids 'Armenian Genocide' Term Again
- Recognizing The Genocide: Bulgaria
- Next Steps To Normalize Turkish-Armenian Relations by Hovhannes Nikoghosyan
- Ali Babacan: Turkey Willing Normalization Of Relations With Armenia
- Armenia: Genocide Or Carelessness?
- Schwarzenegger proclaims April 20-27 as Days of Remembrance of Armenian Genocide
- AAA To Continue Serving For Armenia’s Interests
- A Glossary Of Turkish Political Terms by Burak Bekdil
- Israel: Discussing Armenian Genocide
- Vintage Postcards Tell About Culture by Vercihan Ziflioglu
- Akcam's Book About Armenian Genocide Presented In Athens
- Armenia Has No Human Rights by Mikhail Zygar
- Greek And Armenian Clergy Clash At Jesus' Tomb On Orthodox Palm Sunday
- Congratulations, Mr Sukru Aya, On Your Enlightening Book "Genocide Of Truth" Based On Neutral or Anti-Turkish Sources
- Remarks at the American-Turkish Council Luncheon: Secretary Condoleezza Rice
- Compensation From Turkey, Cash Amount?, Who Take The Money, How To Distribute?
- How Would You Feel If You Woke Up One Morning To See An "X" Marked On Your Front Door? by Dogu Ergil
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- An Unexpected Attempt Of The Los Angeles Times
- Tibet Exposes Genocidal Australian Human Rights Abuses by By Dr Gideon Polya
- Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Unlikely In Near Future
- Baku Can Accuse Israel Of Genocide Against Palestinians
- Ruben Safrastyan: Turkey May Review Its Approaches On Armenian-Turkish Relations
- ANCA Outlines Bush Administration’s Failing On Armenia Issues
- Turks Can Only Blame Themselves For Not Joining The European Union By Harut Sassounian
- It Is Not Excluded That Turkey Reconsiders Its Approaches In Establishing Relations With Armenia,
- What Is The Crime Armenians Committed? Arthur Hovhannisyan
- “What Kind of a Country is Turkey? by Murat BELGE
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Flag Burning Angers Turkey (Video) & 3 Turks Burn Armenian Flag In Protest in Iskenderun
3 Turks burn an Armenian Flag, and thrashed it in protest in Iskenderun. They said they cannot tolerate Turkish Flag to be burned and stamped on it and condemn the Armenians's such disrespectful attitude to Turkish Flag in Yerevan yesterday
Turkish Historian Cicek: “No Genocide Was Committed On April 24, Only 556 Armenian Terrorists Were Arrested”
Ankara. Mais Alizadeh-APA. Head of the Armenian studies unit of Turkish Institute of History, Professor Kamal Chichek’s interview with APA.
-On May 27, 1915 Interior Minister Talat Pasha signed resolution on the movement of Armenians to other areas for prevention of their treason against Ottoman Empire. Why Armenians mourn April 24 every year?
-The historic documents show that the resolution on the Armenian movement was signed not on April 24. On that day leaders of Armenian gangs, who committed treason against Ottoman Empire were arrested and sent to the Chankir and Ayash prisons near Ankara. 235 leaders of Armenian terrorist gangs were arrested in Istanbul and 321 arrested in other provinces on April 24. One of them well-known terrorist Komitas was released 13 days later and interior ministry allowed him to leave for Vienna and later he died in Paris. We have the historic documents, which show that 556 Armenian gang leaders were arrested, but some foreign historians lie that 2500 were arrested and most of them were executed. The arrested terrorists were accompanied by 75 police officers on their way to prison for their security. Most of the arrested persons were allowed to walk in the city and to visit police office for confirmation of their presences. If the history of April 24 contains these facts, why Armenians mourned it as a day of so-called genocide? It is a scenario written by Vahakin Dadriyan. He wrote that 1915 events should meet the UN “Genocide Convention” adopted in 1948.
Ottoman Empire declared mobilization in August, 1914 and Armenians were also involved in the Army. Therefore more Armenian gangs remained without their leaders. According to the second part of Dadriyan’s scenario, Armenians’ legs were broken when their leaders were arrested and after the May 27 resolution of movement the defenseless Armenians took the way of death. Were the people arrested on April 24 innocent? No, they were members and leaders of “Dashnak”, “Hnchak”, “Ramgavar” and other terrorist organizations. A lot of weapons were confiscated in their places. They were rebels against the war-involved country and Ottoman Empire like every country undertook preventive measures. They were not killed after the arresting. They were taken to prisons under the strong control and 55 of them were released in a short time. 57 persons were deported and many of them exiled to other cities. The Government aimed not to kill the gang members and leaders, but to make them passive. For that Armenians symbolically mourn on April 24.
- Prime Minister Erdogan sent a letter to Armenian president Robert Kocharyan on May 8, 2005 and suggested to establish joint commission for researching of historical realities, but he didn’t receive positive respond. Do Armenians refuse to establish the joint commission because they know that they falsified the historical realities?
-Yes, they know. Kocharyan said in his respond that “they cannot accept this suggestion, which opens discussions on the “Armenian genocide” and as it was a historical reality, it couldn’t be discussed”. Kocharyan intended to establish intergovernmental commission, but not the commission of historians. In fact the events turn into history and Kocharyan intended to politicize the issue. Armenia said it intended to improve relations with Turkey. Armenia, which occupied the lands of our Azerbaijani brothers, has no right to make a condition before Turkey. Only Turkey can make the conditions.
Our main demand is the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied Azerbaijani lands. Unfortunately no country except Turkey makes remark for Armenia, which occupied Azerbaijani lands. All over the world imposed sanctions against Saddam Huseyn because he occupied Kuwait. The world countries should impose embargo against Armenia too. If Armenia intends to be our friend, it should leave history for historians and recognize our borders – it is our other demands. Armenian should leave their claims for recognition of so-called “genocide” and Anatolian lands. It is unserious policy.
26 Apr 2008
Ankara Condemns Disrespect For Its Flag In Armenia Commemoration
The Turkish capital has harshly reacted against a Turkish flag being trod upon during an official demonstration in Yerevan on Thursday commemorating tragic World War I-era events that Armenians claim amount to genocide.
News reports showed pictures of the demonstration during which a Turkish flag was laid on the ground and participants of the commemoration stamped on it, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a written statement. There were also reports that a Turkish flag was burned during an earlier demonstration on Wednesday, also in Yerevan, the statement said, stressing that the same reports noted the acts of disrespect were also committed by Armenian officials.
"With the meaning that it carries, the Turkish flag symbolizes freedom and all the fundamental values and beliefs of the lofty Turkish nation, which have come from, the history to date. In regards to this aspect, it is in a way accepted as synonymous with our nation's existence. The importance attributed by the Turkish nation to these values and its flag, which reflects them is closely known by everybody. In this regard, the related news reports led to great sadness, reaction and indignation in our society," the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in the statement. "We harshly condemn those manners and actions," the statement concluded.
Turkey categorically rejects the Armenian claims of genocide and says equal numbers of Turks were killed when the Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army.
26.04.2008,Today's Zaman Ankara
Bush Refuses To Say 'Genocide,' Again
Ümit Enginsoy, Washington - Turkish Daily News, April 26, 2008
Armenian group says Bush betrayed own pledge
U.S. President George W. Bush, in his eighth year in office, said Thursday that he shared the pain of Armenians over the tragedy of the World War I-era killings of their kinsmen in the Ottoman Empire, but declined to use the term "genocide" to characterize the incidents, angering U.S. Armenian groups."On this day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire," Bush said in his annual April 24 Remembrance Day statement."I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in commemorating this tragedy and mourning the loss of so many innocent lives," he said.Bush said he welcomed the efforts by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster reconciliation and peace, and that he would support joint efforts for an open examination of the past "in search of a shared understanding of these tragic events.""We look forward to the realization of a fully normalized Armenia-Turkey relationship," he said.But Bush's remarks fell short of meeting Armenian demands that he qualify the killings as genocide.
Facing Armenian criticism
:"President George W. Bush, today, again resorted to the use of evasive and euphemistic terminology to obscure the full moral, historical, and contemporary legal implications of the genocide," the Armenian National Committee of Armenia (ANCA), the largest U.S. Armenian group, said in a written statement."This April 24, President Bush's last in office, he completed his eight-year long betrayal of his campaign commitment to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide," said ANCA's executive director, Aram Hamparian.He was referring to Bush's remarks during his election campaign in 2000 that he would properly recognize the Armenian killings if elected president.Bush "not only pursued patently anti-Armenian policies throughout his two terms in office, but never once – amid his many meetings on Armenian-related issues with foreign leaders – agreed to discuss these concerns with the leadership of the Armenian American community," Hamparian said.The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) also joined the criticism against Bush.Bush's "2008 presidential statement again provides a dictionary definition of genocide, but the resistance in using the term genocide not only fails to complete George W. Bush's promise, but more importantly fails to promote the professed goal of preventing genocide," AAA said in a statement."Turkey's long term interests would be better served by coming to grips with its genocidal past, rather than fining and jailing those who speak the truth about the Armenian genocide," it said.
Turkey slams Argentina in genocide row, cancels visit Turkey slammed Argentina Friday over a new parliamentary document referring to the World War I killings of Armenians as genocide and cancelled a visit to the country by a cabinet minister."The Argentine Senate has approved a new text supporting the baseless Armenian allegations... (which) we strongly condemn and fully reject," the foreign ministry said, without giving details about the document."Following the adoption of this resolution, the visit of State Minister Mehmet Ayd?n... was cancelled," the statement said.Ayd?n has been scheduled to travel to Buenos Aires on April 28-29 for a gathering of the UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations initiative, which aims to foster dialogue between Islamic and Western societies and is co-chaired by Spain and Turkey.Argentina is among an array of countries that have recognized the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide, much to Turkey's ire.
Van Riot, The Children Heroes And A Tragedy Of A Doctor
Armenians, who inhabited at the surrounding villages of Van started to settle in convoys before Van uprising had initiated, and the Armenians who were called for doing their military obligation when mobilization was declared, had fled and arrived at Van clandestinely.
Until the month of October, all young Muslims in and Around Van had joined army, elderly, women, and children were only left behind. One of the most horrible news of the month of October was the move of the Corps in Harput towards Erzurum.
A division of the Corps in Van had also left here; however, certain precautions were taken for preventing Armenians to learn that the division had left for good and for giving an impression that many troops exist in the city. For instance; the circle around barracks were reinforced, the lambs and stoves of the empty wards were lit and breads were kept to be bought as previously. A division of troops were tasked to enter and exit continuously from the gates of the barracks. (1) All of these were the precautions, which were taken for the Armenians in the city. Because, it was known that according to the reports, the 30-40 thousand of Armenians in the city (02) were waiting for the invasion of Van by the Russians. In this connection, they had started terrorist activities around Van.
While terror incidents were occurring, it was reported to Van on 12 January 1915 that the ammunition of the Turkish army in Iran was about to run out and it was informed that a shipment of ammunition was urgently needed. Because only elderly and children were left in the city, the following question was brought on the agenda: Who was going to take the ammunition to the Turkish army?
Eventually, even though it would be risky, it was decided that 11-12-13 years old children would undertake this mission. In this connection, 120 children of the voluntary families, accompanied by several gendarmeries were set out to take the ammunition to the army on their back. On 21st of January it was reported that the children had taken the ammunition to the army and they were set out for returning. (03)
Not long passed over the news that children had set for the return, weather conditions had changed all of a sudden and snow had accompanied the storm. While the families were waiting in restlessness on one hand, on the other they were continuously going to the government building in order to receive news from their children. However, a tragic news had reached the city; only 40 children and 8 gendarmeries, most of whose situation were severe, were able to survive. The bodies of 30 children were found at the mountains and paths during the research attempts that were carried out by the “Sakak” Tribe, and they were brought to the city, but the fate of the remaining 41 children, two teachers and gendarmeries, were unknown. (04)
Medical treatments of the children, who were brought to the city on 03 February, had started. In the meantime, while these incidents were occurring in the city, the number of reports, which indicate that Armenians had rioted and organized attacks against the troops and the local civilian population in various parts of Van, had intensified.
Because the hospital were full with heavy casualties, who came from the Iranian front, the children received medical treatment with two doctors at a big house, which was used as a hospital. These doctors were Dr.Refik bey and Dr.Maltizyan. Everyone were pleased at the arrival of the mentioned doctors, who were elderly Armenians that had gained friendship and love of the people of Van. Dr.Maltizyan, who was not appreciated by the Catholic and Protestant Armenians in Van for being an Orthodox, had never paid attention to the nationality and the religion of his patients and helped everyone, who needed his help for a long time. (05)
Only 22 out of 40 children, who were brought back to Van, could be rescued, with the sacrifices of the two doctors, who made great efforts for healing them. Dr.Refik bey and Dr.Maltizyan attempted to heal them without sleeping many nights.
Meanwhile, reports which point out that Armenians were rioting at various villages and towns, continued.
It was reported at the telegram dated 16 March of the headquarters of the Gendarmerie Division that Armenians had attacked to the gendarmerie station at Van/ Sitak, and also cut the telegram lines. The governor of Van had informed the Commander-in-Chief on 20 March that the conflicts are all over city and that they are getting more violent. (06)
On the other hand, a significant incident that occurred at Van had distressed the civilian population of Van. Dr.Maltizyan, who had gained the love of all Van inhabitants with the interest he had shown towards the Turkish children, who had gone and came back from Iran, was hanged on 10 April 1915, (07), carrying the following note on his cloth: “This is the fate of the ones, who serve our enemies.” Governor Cevdet bey regretted for the incident and ordered a funeral ceremony that would be suitable to his service and honor to be organized for the Armenian doctor. (08)
That tragic incident occurred as following: An unknown person, who came to his house in the midnight, had demanded his help for a patient. Knowing that the doctor did not feel very well in the evening hours, his wife wished the doctor not to go for the patient until the morning. However, Maltizyan said that the patient might be in an emergency situation and so, he decided to go. When the doctor did not come back home, his family were not suspicion for they thought he was with the patient. However, they had received the tragic news in the morning.
1. Ilgaz, “Sark Yildizi”, V.I, P.41
2. James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916
3. Ilgaz, ”Sark Yildizi”, V.I, P.82
4. Ilgaz,”Sark Yildizi”, V.I, S.86-90
5. Ilgaz, “Sark Yildizi”, V.I, S.90-91
6. Gürün, Armenian Folder, P.266
7. Akçora, Armenian Uprisings…., P.170.
8. Ilgaz, “Sark Yildizi”, V.I,P.122
Source: Senol Kantarci-Kirikkale University-International Relations Department
Turkish-Armenian Conflict-Articles (GNAT-Great National Assembly of Turkey)
Al Jazeera Film Documents Armenian Massacre Of Turks
A team from the international TV channel Al Jazeera is currently in the eastern province of Igdir to shoot a documentary program on the massacres committed by Armenians on Turks.
Al Jazeera, an Arab news channel broadcasting in Arabic and English, planned to shoot a program about the massacres committed by Armenians, the channel's Turkey bureau chief Yousef Sharif told reporters on Thursday.
Sharif said the TV channel's team arrived in Igdir to collect information from witnesses of the massacres. He said the monument erected in memory of the Turks massacred by Armenians, which is the highest monument in Turkey, would also be highlighted in the Al Jazeera program.
The TV channel's team had conducted an interview with Ali Asker Turk, a witness to the massacre, in Igdir. They also shot scenes in Oba village, where 97 Turks were burnt alive by Armenians.
Al Jazeera is a television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Initially launched as an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel with the same name, Al Jazeera has since expanded into a network with several outlets, including the internet and specialty TV channels in multiple languages, and in several regions of the world.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Armenia To Step Up "Genocide" Recognition Drive By Hasmik Mkrtchyan
Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:42 AM BST
YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia's new president said on Thursday he will seek "historic justice" for 1.5 million ethnic Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks, claimed as a genocide by Yerevan and which still affects relations with Turkey.
Turkey strongly denies Armenian claims, backed by many Western historians, that the massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One amounted to a systematic genocide.
The issue has evolved into a source of tension that has complicated Ankara's relations with the United States and the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join.
President Serzh Sarksyan, who was sworn into office this month, said in a speech to mark Armenia's annual Genocide Day that securing international condemnation of the killings nearly a century ago would be a priority for his administration.
"As a result of the genocide that was planned and carried out by the state in Ottoman Turkey, a vast number of Armenians were annihilated on their native land and lost their living space," Sarksyan said in a statement.
"International recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide is an appropriate and inevitable part of Armenia's foreign policy agenda," he said in the statement. "The Motherland of all Armenians, the Republic of Armenia, should redouble its efforts for the restoration of historic justice."
Thousands of Armenians -- some with tears in their eyes -- laid wreaths of carnations and tulips in Yerevan at a memorial that honours those who perished in the killings, which took place between 1915 and 1923.
The tiny ex-Soviet republic of Armenia is sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan in a region that is emerging as an important transit route for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets, although Armenia has no pipelines of its own.
Armenia insists the killings should be declared a genocide and the massacres have been recognised as such by some Western lawmakers.
But Ankara says large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslim Turks were killed during the violent and chaotic break-up of the Ottoman Empire. A law in Turkey makes it criminal offence to call the killings a genocide.
Armenia and its neighbour Turkey have no diplomatic links, although Turkish President Abdullah Gul this month sent a letter to Yerevan calling for dialogue to normalise ties.
Turkey has kept its land border with Armenia closed since the early 1990s in protest at Yerevan's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, a slice of territory belonging to ally Azerbaijan which is populated by ethnic Armenians. Turkey also objects to Yerevan's claims on some of its land.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Catherine Evans)
© Reuters 2008
Armenia: Overcoming the Past
How Can A People Overcome A History Of Genocide? By Cesar Chelala
Special to The Epoch Times Apr 06, 2008
A view of a placard showing the picture of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was murdered in Jan. 2007 by a Turkish nationalist. The placard is part of a demonstration calling on the EU to require Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)
During a recent trip to Armenia, I was once again reminded of man's inhumanity to man, his brutality to fellow human beings. I also found myself face-to-face once again with the power of memory and of hate, and asked myself if there is any way to overcome the lingering and pernicious effects of murderous acts.
In 1915, as the Ottoman Empire was in its death throes, over a million Armenians were massacred, and many others were forced into exile from the land that had been theirs for centuries.
More recently, in the 1970s in my own country, Argentina, the military conducted what has become known as the "dirty war" against those who opposed its dictatorship. In the process, the military made "to disappear" thousands of people—as many as 30,000—never to be seen again or accounted for.
In the Argentine case, many years later, military officers—including members of the former ruling junta—were tried and imprisoned. While this action couldn't bring back the "disappeared," it was a necessary act of justice for their families and partial closure for their losses.
But what about the Armenian hatred for the Turks, almost a century after the devastating events of 1915? Can the antagonism be overcome so that a civilized relationship between the two countries can be brought about? It is obviously too late to bring those responsible to justice. However, it should be possible to reach a level of understanding between the two societies.
While in Yerevan, I spoke with Professor Mira Antonyan, director of the Fund for Armenian Relief, about the effects of those events on Armenians today. "The only thing that unites us now is our resentment against the Turks for the events of the past. Being Armenian means having sad memories," she told me. That feeling was shared by her husband and a friend of both, who regularly trade with Turkish businessmen.
I told them that I felt Armenians were in a quagmire, unable to move forward because of the tremendous weight of history. "Perhaps you are right," Mira's husband answered, "but genocide is a very heavy burden on our shoulders. We cannot just forget what happened. We cannot erase our memory."
Broadly speaking, I believe that there is a generational divide on the question. The older generation—those over 50—insist on the need for an apology from the Turkish government. The younger generations, without rejecting the facts of history, feel the need to overcome those memories. They believe that such visceral attachment to the past is self-defeating.
Kamilla Petrosyan, a psychiatrist in her late 30s, told me how her 4-year-old son arrived home one day from kindergarten frightened to death on learning that day about the 1915 massacres. "We have to stop this culture of victimization," she said, "otherwise we will never be able to move forward."
Recent events have shown that the Turks too are beginning to show signs of the need to move forward. A number of Turkish intellectuals, including last year's winner of the Noble Prize for literature, Orhan Pamuk, have made public statements to that effect. And, following the assassination last year of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, some 50,000 people marched through the streets of Istanbul in solidarity, and leading members of the present Turkish government attended the funeral ceremonies at the Armenian Patriarchal Church.
What we now desperately need is a change of paradigm, to move from a culture of violence to one of peace. Recent times have been characterized by the use of violence over dialogue, and of aggression over diplomacy. Very little has been done to build effective bridges for peace.
Even limited initiatives, such as the one carried out by volunteers from the American Peace Corps in Armenia for summer camps for children from both Turkey and Armenia, are valid undertakings. In talks with several Armenian schoolteachers, I found them eager for contact with Turkish schoolchildren.
It is only by constructing bridges of understanding—particularly working with young people, still untainted by the weight of the past—that we will be able to change the present paradigm of violence and war for one of collaboration and peace.
Dr. Cesar Chelala is the co-author of "Missing or Dead in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims," a New York Times Magazine cover story, for which he shared an Overseas Press Club of America award.
No Surprise In White House's April 24 Statement
US President George W. Bush has once again avoided using the word "genocide" in a traditional message released every year to commemorate tragic World War I-era events that Armenians claim amount to genocide.
"On this day of remembrance, we honor the memory of the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the mass killings and forced exile of as many as 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in commemorating this tragedy and mourning the loss of so many innocent lives," Bush said in his message. He called for more efforts to promote peace and said the US welcomed "the efforts by individuals in Armenia and Turkey to foster reconciliation and peace, and support joint efforts for an open examination of the past in search of a shared understanding of these tragic events." He also called on the Armenian government to promote democracy.
A commemoration ceremony was held on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, the eve of April 24 -- the day Armenians claim marks the anniversary of the beginning of a systematic genocide campaign against Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.
Senator threatens to block new envoy
Meanwhile, a Democratic member of the US Senate has threatened to block the appointment of an ambassadorial nominee to Armenia unless she labels the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide.
In August of last year, after a year-long confrontation, the White House bowed to pressure from the Armenian lobby, withdrawing its nomination of a career diplomat as ambassador in Yerevan. The move was hailed by Armenian groups in the United States.
The White House's nomination of Richard Hoagland was blocked in the last Congress, and the Bush administration resubmitted his name in January 2007 when the new legislature convened. But a Democratic senator, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, placed a hold on the nomination for the second time in January 2007 because of Hoagland's refusal to call the World War I-era killings of Armenians "genocide." A hold is a procedural privilege accorded senators that prevents a nomination from going forward to a confirmation hearing. Hoagland's predecessor, John Evans, had his tour of duty in Armenia cut short because, in a social setting, he referred to the killings as genocide.
In late March of this year US President George W. Bush nominated a career diplomat, Marie Yovanovitch, who is currently ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, to be US ambassador to Armenia.
"I plan to direct the tough questions which I had directed to Bush's previous nominee Hoagland to the new nominee, too. I hope her answers will be what they need to be. Otherwise, I won't hesitate to block the appointment," Menendez was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency.
25.04.2008, Today's Zaman Ankara
Eve Of April 24 Tranquil On The Armenian Front
The influential Armenian diaspora is preparing to mark April 24, the day they claim marks the anniversary of the beginning of a systematic genocide campaign against Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.
Last year, pressure on the US administration was considerably high, with the expectation of having the word "genocide" included in the text of a commemoration message which is traditionally delivered by the US president on April 24.
The Armenian diaspora continues to deal with the disappointment over the fact that a resolution which called the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide has not yet been adopted by the US Congress even though it was passed by a US congressional committee in October of 2007. In his message for April 24 of last year, US President George W. Bush adhered to the administration's policy of not referring to the incidents as genocide.
"Each year on this day we pause to remember the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, when as many as 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, many of them victims of mass killings and forced exile," Bush said.
Turkey categorically rejects the claims of genocide and says as many Turks were killed when the Armenians took up arms against the Ottoman Empire in collaboration with the invading Russian army.
Bush, in his message, also called for the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia. "Today, we remember the past and also look forward to a brighter future. We commend the individuals in Armenia and Turkey who are working to normalize the relationship between their two countries. A sincere and open examination of the historic events of the late-Ottoman period is an essential part of this process. The United States supports and encourages those in both countries who are working to build a shared understanding of history as a basis for a more hopeful future," he said. Turkey mounted a massive lobbying campaign last year to defeat the 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.
US administration policy on the issue remains the same, a US diplomat based in Ankara told Today's Zaman yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary. "I haven't yet seen any draft text. However, taking into consideration the fact that our administration's policy remains the same, I assume that this year's text will look similar to last year's text," US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow said when asked about Bush's message, which is expected to be released today.
In the last few months, more than the content of Bush's message, the Armenian diaspora based in the US has been focused on presidential candidates and their stances on the very same issue. The Washington based-Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) already announced earlier this year that US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama had gained their support.
The support for Obama came days after he pledged in January to officially recognize the controversial World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide if he becomes president.
ANCA, meanwhile, has been pushing a fierce campaign for adoption of the related resolution at the US Congress with an aggressive campaign targeting Turkey. "Who decides when America speaks on human rights?" is the leading slogan of the campaign. "You should… Not a foreign government," it answers.
On ANCA's Web page, a picture showing the mouth of the Statute of Liberty gagged with the Turkish flag is shown.
24.04.2008, Today's Zaman Ankara
A New Era Of Relations With Yerevan?
Do statements made earlier this week by Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in regards to Turkish relations with Armenia really signal the "start of a new era" with our neighbor?
It is still early to answer this question. If what is meant by a "new era" is the creation of a new dialogue between these two neighboring countries and the "normalization" of relations in general, then the "preparations" that Babacan mentioned need to be given time -- on both sides -- to mature. This, however, is what we see: There is in fact some new action and movement in relations between Ankara and Yerevan, this in the wake of general elections in Armenia this past February and the formation of the administration this month. This enlivening of relations is still at the stage of being mostly reciprocal warm messages between the two nations. Even this, though, should be perceived as an important start to something.
24.04.2008, Sami Kohen, Milliyet
‘We Came To Çanakkale As British-Australians And Walked Away As Australians’
Australian Ambassador to Ankara Peter Doyle
More and more Turks have been taking part recently in the observation of Anzac Day in the famous Anzac Koyu (Anzac Bay).
This annual event, which is held on the 24th and 25th of April this year, is marked by ceremonies commemorating the World War I Dardanelles campaign and the Gallipoli battlefields. Together with increasing devotion to the memories of Turkey’s fallen in the fateful Battle of the Dardanelles, Turks are also recognizing the sufferings of the other side of the coin. More than 50,000 Australians served in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915, and 8,709 never returned from Turkey. Australian Ambassador in Ankara Peter Doyle says that in Australia the loaded meaning of the Dardanelle Campaign accounts for more than mere numbers. “There, we became a real nation,” he says. During our visit to his office in Ankara, he was sitting in front of an Aboriginal drawing wherein desert trees were given human forms and made almost alive, dancing. That same dynamism was present in Ambassador Doyle’s words.
Why is Anzac Day so important for Australians? Australians never had wars before then?
The separate states of Australia decided to come together in 1901, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed in that year. That is the start of Australia as a separate nation rather than a collection of British colonies. There were battles before. For instance, Australians fought in the Boer War in South Africa, in Sudan and in many other places. But Gallipoli took on -- not only at the time, certainly even after then -- a main importance. Its main importance ... [is] to our sense of national identity. So we had made those soldiers who fought at Gallipoli into heroes, the way we Australians would best like to be seen. The attributes that they displayed during that campaign, courage and resilience and their reverent sense of humor; all those things we still deeply value as Australians and sense as central values of ourselves.
There is a second point to this identity issue. For Australians this was the first time they fought as Australians. In earlier wars they were usually part of a British army. The Gallipoli Campaign was of course under the command of a British officer, but, increasingly through the campaign, Australians fought as Australians under Australian command. It was that transition from British to Australian that gave us the sense of national identity. Some of the ex-soldiers talked about this after the Gallipoli Campaign -- that they went as British-Australians and came back as Australians.
Do you have a special name you use for soldiers? Like we call ours mehmetçik?
Anzac became that name, actually. Literally, Anzac means Australian New Zealand Army Corps. But it has become a word which sums up all these attributes. We use the phrase “in the spirit of Anzac.” So it is really an equivalent of “mehmetçik.”
So in some sense Anzac Day is celebrated, not only commemorated. Am I right?
That is a very important point. It is certainly a commemoration of those who sacrificed themselves for the nation. But yes, it is also a celebration of who we are as a people. I have not yet attended a dawn service at Gallipoli, but I am told that it is a very different feeling between the dawn service, which is a very somber commemoration ... and then later in the day the Australian service at Lone Pine -- more of a celebration of the national identity of who we are. So even within the day that we hold the ceremonies in Turkey, you can see the two aspects of the day.
Do you still have Anzac veterans?
No, unfortunately not. The last Gallipoli veteran died, I think, in 2002. His name was Alec Campbell. And he was a Tasmanian. When he came to Gallipoli he was 16 years old and he lived to, I think, 103. Actually, the [Justice and Development Party] AK Party invited a group of woman relatives of Gallipoli veterans to visit Turkey to take part in the March 18 commemorations this year. And one of the four Australian women who accepted that invitation was the granddaughter of Campbell.
Can we make any comparison between Anzac days observed in France and in Gallipoli? Do you have similar relations with the French?
Not quite to the same extent, I think, is fair to say. But just as there are many people in Turkey [who] when they think of Australia, the first thing they think of is Gallipoli; in France as well many people do remember the contribution of Australians to that battle on the Western front. And as with Turkey, there is great warmth that came into the relations. But I think it is fair to say that [with] Turkey ... [there is] a very special feeling to the relationship, which is not really repeated anywhere in France.
This may be an oft-repeated question, but why were the Anzacs there?
I have been asked this question several times already in the short time I have been in Turkey. Why did Australians come so far to fight against Turks? The answer is quite a simple one. It goes to that sense of imperial obligation. Australians at that time felt that if the British motherland was in peril or in war, then so was Australia. And of course in those days Australia relied on the British for their security as well. So there were lots of good reasons, if you like, strategic as well as emotional ties to the motherland to fight with the British.
Many Australians then were born as British. They saw themselves as British as well as Australian. And so it was natural for them that they would sign up. Also, it seems very odd to us now in retrospect that many of the young Australian men who signed up did so with a sense of adventure. I don’t want to trivialize it, but I think there was this sense of adventure. However it didn’t turn out to be such an adventure as they had thought.
Turks of Turkey have already started to participate in observations of Anzac Day. You have a sizeable Turkish community in Australia also. Do they join in Anzac day observations there?
Absolutely. … First, I will start with the commemorations in Turkey. We noticed over the last few years an increasing number of Turks attending the ceremonies. And that is very welcomed. We actually put on an interpretative program on the night before the dawn service: all sorts of documentaries, live interviews and music. That is designed to provide information in an entertaining way. That helps people understand more about World War I and about the Gallipoli Campaign.
Within Australia the Turkish community is on the verge of being Turkish and Australian. So they can look at Anzac Day from both perspectives. I am not sure if there is anything particular about the way that they commemorate the events of the Gallipoli Campaign or the Çanakkale war, but they are fully Australians already and so they are part of commemorating the event.
This brings us to a point from where we can jump to the issue of integration. Why was Australia more successful than Europe in integrating newcomers?
Well, we are a nation of immigrants. We are a young nation and we regard immigration as an overwhelmingly positive value. Most Australians are either the sons or daughters, or grandsons and granddaughters of immigrants. It is impossible to imagine Australia without immigrants. So our total perspective on the issue is very different from the more settled European countries. Of course in the 19th century we were more British than we are now. But even then we had people from all over the world settling in Australia.
Another key difference is that we always invited people to immigrate to Australia and then to become citizens. So the idea that people will come just for labor and then return to their home countries is alien to us. And the overwhelming majority or people have chosen to do that. Particularly Turkish Australians; almost all have chosen to become Australians.
After the upsurge in terrorism targeting the West, some formerly multiculturalist countries like Netherlands and England started to discuss whether multiculturalism was a good decision at all. Didn’t you have similar discussions?
We had those discussions more in the ‘80s than we do now. I think that there is a broad acceptance in Australia that immigration is a good thing for the country. Not just economically, but in so many cultural, social aspects, we are much richer for inviting people from all over the world to come and join us. Our sense of identity is still evolving. So it is not the same fairly rigid views of what people need to subscribe to in order to become Australian. There is a bit more space for people to decide the way they will become Australian.
People retain a part of their identity of homeland. Whether they are Turkish or Indonesian or Dutch, they will retain a part of that. But we also saw that they take on parts of Australian identity. This is not done by government policy. It is done by osmosis, if you like, with the community around them. In Australia we are very proud of the fact that it happens so well.
Turkish workers went to Australia in the 1960s upon Australian invitation. Do you think in this decision the common heritage of Gallipoli was influential?
Well, I suppose it is a combination of factors. At that time we were at the high time of Australian immigration. In the 1960s most immigrants came from Europe, overwhelmingly from Britain and Ireland, but also from Italy and Greece. And then we looked to Turkey. Of course Turkey was happy to have some people immigrate to Australia. So it was a mutual governmental agreement. And it worked out extremely well. We now have a settled strong Australian Turkish community that makes a strong contribution to the country. There are a number of very successful Australian businessmen of Turkish origin who retain their relations with Turkey, invest here, trade between the two countries.
You are having a photograph exhibition in May in Turkey. Can you give us more information about that?
It is actually about immigration. We have a Turkish-Australian community in Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state. This community decided that they would put together an exhibition that celebrates the 40th anniversary of Turkish immigration to Australia. So it tells the community’s story from the community’s perspective. This exhibition was launched this year at Museum Victoria in Melbourne. We are now going to bring that exhibition to Turkey. We will open in Ankara in May, and we plan to open it in Istanbul in June and then in Çanakkale and in Mersin in September. We hope the exhibition will give people here a very strong sense of the close people-to-people link between Australia and Turkey.
Turkish-Australian economic relations -- are we doing well, or is there more to do?
I think both. Last year we had a 30 percent increase in bilateral trade. This is a very good prospect for the future. However our trade is very narrowly based, mainly minerals and foodstuffs. However there are several exports of Australia to Turkey that don’t really fit into traditional categories. For instance, the big vehicle ferries that go through the Sea of Marmara between Istanbul and Yalova and the southern part of Marmara; those are Australian products. The investments are also underdeveloped. There are some large Australian groups who are interested in Turkish infrastructure businesses, and if they decide to come to Turkey, they may attract other Australian companies as well.
Australian-Turkish economic relations are a little bit victim of Turkey’s success and Australia’s success. Because Turkey’s domestic economy has been doing so well for the last five years or so and because the Turkish entrepreneurial spirit has seen a great deal of success in the Balkans, in Europe more broadly, in Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and Central Asian republics as well, I think that Turkish businessmen haven’t looked ... far away. Australia missed out of that sense. Likewise, Australia’s success -- we are now [at] seven or eight years of consecutive growth -- of course they do not rival Turkey’s numbers, but still well above the OECD averages; that is underwritten by our trade relations, mainly with the Asian Pacific countries. So just as Turkey is concentrating on neighboring zones, so Australia has been doing. So likewise, the Australian companies haven’t looked at the opportunities here in Turkey.
We have a bilateral joint economic commission, and we are trying to finalize dates now for Mr. Mehmet Simsek’s [state minister for foreign trade] visit to Australia. It is Australia’s turn to host that commission, and we hope that within the next couple of months he will be able to visit Australia for consultations without the minister of trade, Mr. Simon Crean, on how we might improve and deepen our commercial relations. I also hope that Mr. Simsek will take with him some of the representatives of Turkish business organizations. This may provide the impetus we need to overcome the obstacle of distance.
22.04.2008 Kerim Balci Ankara
301: Same Old Cake With New Icing?, Amanda Akcakoca email@example.com
Sometimes it seems like the EU has been asking Turkey to amend Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) forever. During every debate, conference, interview or conversation about Turkey there is always a reference to this controversial article. Introduced on June 1, 2005, as a prerequisite for opening accession talks, it was part of a package of penal code reforms brought in to replace the old Mussolini styled code that had been adopted by Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. However, due to frequent vague language, the new penal code has not lived up to EU expectations and a number of articles have been extremely manipulated by hard-line nationalists working in both Turkey's judiciary and the legal profession. Article 301 is the most extreme case, with many of the cases involving high-profile personalities such as Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk. Journalists, editors, publishers, human rights activists, academics and others have been prosecuted -- not just for insulting Turkishness but also for defiling the memory of Atatürk, alienating the people from the military, denigrating the organs of the state, etc. Ever since, the EU has been asking Turkey to either remove or amend the article. At the same time, however, one could conclude that the EU should have been far more stringent when reviewing the new penal code back in 2005 and should not have accepted it so quickly.
Over the last two and a half years the government has repeatedly promised to change the article but it is only recently -- as the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is fighting for its life with the Constitutional Court mulling over whether or not to close the party down -- that they have decided to transform deeds into actions and have suddenly reinvigorated their EU reform agenda. The best thing would be to abolish this controversial article, but unfortunately the government is not brave enough to do that. Rather it has decided just to fiddle around with the wording and give the justice minister more of a say on which cases should be heard. The proposed revisions will seemingly still include loop-holes for manipulation. The draft, which is due to be voted on in Parliament later this week, is a real disappointment as Ankara is missing an important opportunity to reinvigorate the reform process and underscore its commitment to free speech and the EU. The European Commission may well conclude that the changes are inadequate and don't go far enough and ask Turkey to make further alterations. A half-hearted effort will in particular be a slap in the face for Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who has gone out of his way to support Ankara and encourage member states to push ahead with the negotiations.
But let's see what happens once the changes are adopted. I will be closely following the case of Ragip Zarakolu, whose trial was due to take place on April 8, 2008 but was postponed until June 17. Zarakolu has been subjected to many years of harassment, trials and periods of imprisonment since the 1970s for publishing books on issues such as minority and human rights. His publishing house was bombed by right-wing extremists in 1995, forcing it to go underground. The present case was filed against him in August 2005, related to the publication of a book by Dr. Dora Sakayan titled "An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922."
Furthermore, so much focus has been placed on Article 301 that it is easily forgotten that there are numerous other articles (at least 20) which also curb freedoms. These include Article 318, alienating people from military service, Article 288, the attempt to influence a fair trial, and Article 216, inciting enmity and hatred among the population on the basis of social class, race, religion, sect, language or regional differences. All of these should be reviewed immediately.
Of course, it will take more than amendments to laws to change things in Turkey given the fact the nation has been fed on nationalistic fodder for the last 70 years. What really needs to change is the way people think and act, particularly those who work in the judiciary and legal profession, but this will take years. In the meantime strong legislation should be adopted that makes it as difficult as possible for laws to be manipulated. The government needs to put a system in place that will begin to stop the continuing prosecution of innocent people. After all it should be a basic human right to be able to speak, write and publish freely and peacefully on any issue you desire without the fear of criminal investigation, harassment or penalty.
Kizkalesi: Sun, Sea, Sand -- And Castles
Over the millennia, Turkey has been inhabited by a succession of different peoples and civilizations. Each has left their mark.
Hittite rock-reliefs, Greek theaters, Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches, Seljuk caravanserais and Ottoman mosques -- amongst countless other remains -- litter the nation’s often beautiful landscape. Some of these sites, backed by campaigns and promotions launched by the publicity gurus in the Ministry of Tourism, have become iconic. They appear to sum up, in a series of startling photographic images, everything this fascinating country has to offer. The library of Celsus at Ephesus, Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, the Commagene heads atop Mt. Nemrut, the cliff-hanging monastery of Sumela and the palace of Ishak Pasa above Dogubayazit sites whose images lack the “in your face” grandeur and power of the “A” list but which nonetheless command your attention and intrigue you sufficiently to vow to get around to visiting them one day. Think, perhaps, of Antalya’s Yivli Minare, Amasya’s rock-cut tombs or Harran’s “beehive” houses. Top of this hypothetical “B” list for me, though, would have to be the offshore ruin of medieval Kizkalesi, or “The Maiden’s Castle.”
Situated on the Mediterranean coast between Mersin and Silifke, Kizkalesi possesses a rare beauty. Traveler and writer Michael Pereira was fortunate enough to have visited the castle back in the 1960s, when the rash of development now scarring the mainland opposite the castle was not even at the itching stage. Pereira, standing on the golden strand of beach opposite the castle describes it in glowing terms:
“Whether its setting is unique I do not know, but certainly it is superb. It seems to float upon the water like a ship, its smooth and rounded towers, menacing yet graceful, thrown into sharp relief against the brilliant sky and sea. Nothing breaks the outline, no crowding tree or dipping slope of a hill. It is a perfect silhouette of grey on blue. Isolated, inaccessible and remote as the legend which clings to it.”
Pereira, hot and bothered after his exertions exploring the ancient town of Korykos (which lies across the coast road behind the modern resort of Kizkalesi and can still be visited today) elected to swim the 250 meters or so to the castle. He found little of interest there, as the interior was just a mass of tumbled masonry and the once well-patrolled walls home only to noisy sea gulls. Today, of course, you don’t have to swim to the castle. The western end of the beach has several boats with captains quite happy to divest you of a few lira to make the crossing. Unlike Perieira, you’ll have the opportunity to take photos en route, and be well enough shod to explore inside the castle without fear of getting a thorn in your foot.
Despite the mess of concrete that has disfigured the town of Kizkalesi, it is still a great place for a vacation -- especially if you have kids. Most of the accommodation is in small, family run pensions with shady gardens and easy access to the wonderful beach -- easily the best on this stretch of the Mediterranean. The sand is fine, soft and shelves very gently into the limpid blue waters of the sea. As you lay back on a sun-lounger, reading your book under the shade of a beach umbrella, you can keep an eye on your offspring splashing safely in the shallows. And of course if they want to build a sandcastle using the very fine materials to hand, they have a perfect model to work from -- the ever-present Maiden’s Castle seemingly floating on the sea just a short way offshore. If they complete that one, just point down the beach to the so-called land castle -- another romantic ruin that was once joined to the sea castle by a causeway. It’s worth exploring this overgrown ruin, preferably around sunset, when it is cooler and the encroaching shadows lend an air of mystery. Many of the materials used in the castle are recycled -- purloined from the remnants of the ancient Roman/Byzantine city of Korykos -- including columns, capitals and other chunks of decorative masonry. The view from the battlements at this time of day is superb, with the distant walls, towers and parapets of Kizkalesi mirrored in the placid deep blue waters of the bay.
If you tire of castles and the beach, there is plenty to do around Kizkalesi. Just a few kilometers to the west is the charming seaside village of Narlikuyu. Here the late Roman Kizlar Hamami or Bath of Pompenius is worth a look, with a fine mosaic floor depicting the Three Graces, minor goddesses in the Greek pantheon of divinities personifying beauty, gentleness and friendship. There are a number of fish restaurants here with good reputations -- and they are certainly more atmospheric than the eateries in Kizkalesi. Far more likely to get your kids attention are the nearby Cennet ve Cehennem. After all, what kid could resist a trip to heaven and hell! Cennet (heaven) is a 70-meter-deep gorge formed by the collapse of an underground canyon, reached by a mighty flight of steps. Beyond the gorge is a genuine cave, that of Typhon who, according to Greek myth, was a fire breathing monster with a hundred heads and father of Cerberus, the fierce three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to the underworld. Handily enough, virtually next door to heaven is hell (cehennem). A 120-meter-deep sinkhole rather than a true cave, it is supposedly where Zeus imprisoned Titan and, according to local legend, marks one of the entrances to the underworld.
If the heat is not too unbearable there are a number of classical era ruins scattered in the hills behind Kizkalesi, and along the coast to the east. Adamkayalar is perhaps the most interesting. Here a terraced rock face is punctured by Roman era tombs with relief carvings of the dead -- but be warned -- the path up is steep and rock-face precipitous, so take care. Three kilometers along the coast is the modern village of Ayat, ancient Elaeusa Sebastae. The remains here date from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The pick of the monuments is a well-preserved temple, with a number of Corinthian columns still standing. Further on lie the remains of another ancient city -- Kanytelis or, in Turkish, Kanlidivane (place of blood). The ruins here are grouped around a large chasm some 90 meters long, 70 meters wide and 60 meters deep. Locals believe it was used to execute criminals -- first by throwing them into the chasm and then by watching them be devoured by wild animals. It’s a good story for the kids even if it is only local lore.
Kizkalesi has a great beach, friendly family pensions, plenty of things of interest nearby -- and an iconic fairytale castle. What more could anyone ask for?
Your kids may be intrigued to learn the legend of Kizkalesi referred to by Pereira. It seems that a local king had a very beautiful and much loved daughter.
Unfortunately, a soothsayer visiting the court one day foretold that this attractive girl would die tragically young -- after being bitten by a venomous snake. In an attempt to thwart destiny, the king ordered a castle to be built out to sea. Once the castle was completed the king sent his daughter off to live there -- protected from serpents by the natural barrier of the sea and castle’s ramparts. The girl passed her time quite happily until her 16th birthday. Unfortunately, as a gift the king decided to send his daughter a present -- a basket of figs. Excitedly the girl uncovered her treat -- only to reveal a deadly viper hidden amongst the delicious fruit. Destiny was not to be averted and the girl succumbed to its deadly bite. Locals claim the castle is still inhabited by venomous snakes -- descendents of the lethal viper -- so it may be better to tell your kids this tale after a trip to the ruins!
The real story
The real story of the twin castles is interesting enough. They were built in the 12th century when this region was part of the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (set up by Armenians fleeing eastern Anatolia following the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in 1071) to protect the flourishing port and town of Korykos from seaborne invasion. During the 12th and 13th centuries this region was much affected by the passage of the Crusaders, traveling through en route to the Holy Land. In the 14th century the famous Crusader Lusignan dynasty assumed control of the Cilician Kingdom of Armenia (through marriage) and King Peter used the castle as a base against the Muslim Turks in Anatolia. In the end, though, Islam prevailed. In 1448 the castle fell to one Ibrahim Bey and became an Ottoman possession not long after.
How to get there:
Nearest airport, Adana (regular flights from Ankara, Istanbul and Antalya). Frequent buses from Adana to Kizkalesi (2 hours).
Where to stay:
Yaka Hotel Tel: (324) 523 2444;
Hantur Tel: (324) 523 2322;
Where to eat:
Kizkalesi: Pata Restaurant
Narlikuyu: Kerim Rerstaurant
Admission times and fees:
Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle): Daily, dawn to dusk 2 YTL
Korykos (land) Castle: Daily, dawn to dusk 2 YTL
Bath of Pompenius at Narlikuyu: 2 YTL
Cennet ve Cehennem: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 2 YTL
Kanlidivane: 8 a.m.-7 p.m., 2 YTL
Guides and books: “Blue Guide Turkey; Mountains and a Shore” by Michael Pereira
23.04.2008, Terry Richardson Mersin,
Armenia Cold To Turkey's Call For Dialogue
Fulya Özerkan, Ankara – Turkish Daily News, April 22, 2008
Foreign Minister Babacan writes a letter to his newly elected Armenian counterpart, saying that Turkey is open to dialogue for normalization of troubled ties. Yerevan also says it is for dialogue, but calls for the re-opening of closed borders first
Armenia's stance toward dialogue with Turkey remains intact despite Ankara's calls for the beginning of a new era in bilateral ties between the two neighbors that currently have no diplomatic relations.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told reporters yesterday that he had dispatched a letter to his Armenian counterpart, congratulating him on his new post and saying that Turkey is open to dialogue in order to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations.
“There is no doubt that there are problems in the two countries' relations but a solution passes through dialogue. Our doors are open to dialogue,” Babacan said when he was asked about Turkish-Armenian relations during a news conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.
“We received the letter of Babacan and we considered it to be very positive,” an Armenian diplomat, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Turkish Daily News.
“But this [call for dialogue] should not only be in words, but also in deeds. We expect action,” he said and reiterated the well-known Armenian position that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and re-opening of the closed borders without any preconditions play a major role in normalizing the ties.
“This is one of the key elements. It is nonsense for a European Union candidate country to keep its borders closed with its neighbor,” added the same diplomat.
However, it appears a new momentum has been gained in bilateral relations in the wake of the elections in Armenia as Babacan said, without elaborating, preparations were underway to normalize troubled relations through different channels, while the new Armenian foreign minister said in an interview that Yerevan was “for dialogue with Turkey.”
In an interview with Armenia's Mediamax news agency, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said, “With regard to our relations with Turkey, we have, on various occasions, expressed our readiness to normalize them without any precondition.”
He said the alleged genocide of the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire was a dark page of their common history with Turkey and added, “We have to turn this page and together we must build a secure future.”
“I want to once more reiterate the readiness of Armenia to develop relations with Turkey without preconditions and our commitment to make necessary steps to that end,” he noted.
The Armenia diaspora's attempts for international recognition of genocide claims as well as Armenian troops' invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Azeri territory, have prevented the two nations from having diplomatic relations. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993, a move that hurt the economy of landlocked Armenia.
Armenian Genocide Identified As Template For Holocaust And Other ‘Modern’ Genocides 23.04.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ New York Times bestselling author, Professor Peter Balakian joined political figures, and representatives and members of Sydney’s Armenian community in commemorating the 93rd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia.
Balakian, Rebar Professor of the Humanities at Colgate University and Raphael Lemkin Prize-winning author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (2003), exposed the 1,000 attendees to research identifying the Armenian Genocide as the ‘template’ used by Adolf Hitler for the Jewish Holocaust, as well as other ‘modern’ genocides.
"To understand the Jewish Holocaust, to understand the Cambodian Genocide, to understand Darfur; we must first of all understand their template of genocide in the modern period, the Armenian Genocide," said Prof. Balakian.
Balakian’s address highlighted the need for worldwide recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.
"Professor Balakian has brought great exposure to the Armenian cause worldwide and he is now continuing this in Australia," said Mr. Varant Meguerditchian of the organizing Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee.
"The research he presented tonight shows why recognizing and condemning acts of Genocide remains an important human rights priority."
Rand Corporation: Progress In Armenia-Turkey Relations Possible After Karabakh Settlement
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ RAND Corporation issued a report titled "Turkey as a U.S. Security Partner" prepared for the United States Air Force.
"Since the end of the Cold War, Turkey has strengthened its position in the Caucasus - a region where it has long-standing interests. Relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia have improved significantly.
However, Turkey's relations with Armenia remain strained as a legacy of the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915-1916," writes Stephen Larrabee, the author of the report.
"Armenia's continuing occupation of Nagorno Karabakh" poses another obstacle to better Turkish-Armenian relations, according to him.
"In 1993, in response, Turkey closed its border with Armenia and suspended efforts to establish diplomatic relations with Yerevan. Turkey has made settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict a precondition for the normalization of relations with Armenia," the report says.
"Recently, under U.S. pressure, Ankara and Yerevan have quietly begun to explore ways to improve relations. However, while some small progress has been made in improving relations, any major breakthrough, such as reopening the Turkish-Armenian border, is only likely after a settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh dispute."
Armenian Genocide: Justice Is Demand Of International Law And Security Of Nations
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ “April 24 is the day of mourning for Armenians throughout the globe. 93 years ago Young Turks perpetrated the Armenian Genocide, the fact modern Turkey denies despite international opinion. The problem now is not to convince the international community of the fact of Genocide but to achieve its official recognition. None of U.S. Congressmen denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide,” says “Day of Sorrow” article published in Vostochno-Sibirskaya Pravda newspaper.
The author of the article reminds that on October 10, 2007 the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the Armenian Genocide Resolution, H.Res.106.
“The Russian State Duma recognized the Genocide in 1994… As a UN member, the Republic of Armenia is obliged to speak out for elimination of consequences of the Genocide perpetrated against its people. The crime of Genocide doesn’t have time limitation. Justice is a demand of international law and security of nations. The Armenian community of Irkutsk mourns over the innocent murder victims,” says the article signed by the chairman of the regional department of the Union of Armenians of Russia.
Pamuk’s “Youth” To Be Published In Armenian
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia holds negotiations with Nobel Prize winner, Turkish author Orhan Pamuk on publication of his novel “Youth” in Armenian, chairman of the Union of Writers of Armenia told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
“The book on the Armenian Genocide will be published with assistance of ARF Dashnaktsutyun,” Levon Ananyan said.
“Armenia should help the Turkish society to understand what happened to Armenians in early 20th century. Unfortunately, we are badly familiarized with the Turkish public and Turks are badly informed about the Armenian life,” he said adding that the book will apparently published through endeavors of the Armenian community of Istanbul.
Over Thousand Armenian Citizens Immigrated In U.S. In 2007
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The U.S. Department of State published statistics of migration and non-migration visas issued to foreigners in 2007.
The number of U.S. visitors totals 6.4 million; 434 thousand immigrated in the United States.
According to Armenia report, over a thousand of RA citizens immigrated in the U.S. and 4.2 thousand visited the country as tourists in 2007.
Azerbaijan: 0 migrant and 3.1 thousand tourists. Georgia: 444 migrants and 4.8 thousand tourists. Russia: 4 329 migrant and 137.2 tourists, Washington ProFile reports.
Baku Hosts Roundtable On “so-Called Armenian Genocide: Today’s Realities”
23 Apr 2008
Baku. Ramil Mammadli –APA. "Hesret yolu" ("Way of Sorrow") Public Association for Assistance of War Prisoner and Hostages has held roundtable on “So-called Armenian genocide: today’s realities”, APA reports.
Esmira Orujova, Chairwoman of the Association stated that international community was feeble to so-called Armenian genocide. Super states used so-called Armenian genocide against Turkey. To her, Turkey has not committed any genocide against Armenians. There was not discrimination against Armenians during Ottoman Empire. Irada Rzazadeh, Chairwoman of Public Association for Social Welfare of Citizens stressed the role of USSR in the adoption of April 24 as day of Armenian genocide. To her, great monument has been erected in Yerevan during USSR period. This day is marked as national condolence day. She stated that Azerbaijan and Turkey could prevent lies of Armenians elucidating facts.
Five Years Of My Life: An Innocent Man In Guantanamo By Murat Kurnaz
guardian.co.uk, April 23, 2008
A Turkish citizen born and raised in Germany, Murat Kurnaz was only 19 when he was arrested without explanation in Pakistan in October 2001. Handed over to the US, he spent the next 1,600 days enduring the brutal life of a prisoner at Guantanamo and various forms of torture, before being released without explanation or apology in August 2006. Here he describes the early days in his cage in Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Bay
"053, GET READY FOR THE ESCORT TEAM!"
It was still dark. The numbers of Erhan and Serkan and of the two Uzbeks were also called. It was our turn.
We were gathered at a spot in front of the open hanger, led off one by one, and brought to a tent. There they cut off our beards and shaved our heads. At least they would no longer be able to drag me around by the hair, I thought.
We received new orange-colored overalls, and they chained us back up. "We're gonna put you now into the same cave with Osama bin Laden," said the soldier who had shaved my head, "and then we're gonna shoot you."
They didn't put a sack over my head this time. Instead they wrapped it up like a package with soundproof headphones, a gas mask, blinders, and watertight, thick black diving goggles. The soldier tightened the handcuffs so that they immediately began to hurt. It was hardly bearable.
"Too strong," I murmured underneath the mask. I was trying to tell the soldier that the handcuffs were too tight, but I didn't know the right word.
"Let me see," I heard another soldier say, who must have been standing next to the first one. I held out the cuffs in his direction, but he tightened them even more around my wrists. You bastard, I thought. He put something thick and stiff over my hands - gloves or maybe mittens. Then he hit me in the face and kicked me in the genitals. I fell. They carried me out of the tent and threw me on the ground. I was told to lie there on my side.
"You guys are going to get shot," the soldier said.
That I understood. And as I lay there for four, five, or maybe six hours in front of the hangar, I also understood the purpose of all of the get-up. The g loves weren't meant t o warm my hands, and the headphones and mask weren't there to protect my ears and face. They were there to ensure the soldiers' safety, so we couldn't bite, scratch, or spit at them. We couldn't cough any bacteria into their faces, spread any germs, or infect them with a disease. They didn't care whether we suffocated under the masks.
I knew what awaited us: a first-class flight. They chained us together and herded us onto the plane. We were bound so tightly we couldn't move a millimeter. Again, I thought that they were taking us to an American military base in Turkey. What else was I supposed to think?
Sleep would have been the only consolation in such a situation. But the soldiers kept hitting us to keep us awake. I thought about the American movies I had seen in Bremen. Action flicks and war movies. I used to admire the Americans. Now I was getting to know their true nature.
I say that without anger. It's simply the truth, as I saw and experienced it. I don't want to insult anyone, and I'm not talking about all Americans. But the ones I encountered are terrified of pain. They're afraid of every little scratch, bacteria, and illness. They're like little girls, I'd say. If you examine Americans closely, you realize this - no matter how big or powerful they are. But in movies, they're always the heroes.
The flight must have lasted twenty-seven hours. Somewhere we made a stopover. We weren't able to move throughout the entire flight. They never loosened the restraints, not for a moment. We didn't know where we had landed or where they were taking us. We didn't even know if we were going to arrive alive.
I felt the heat immediately and could hear the barking of dogs in spite of the soundproof headphones. Through the goggles, I could perceive the bright light of the sun. On the runway, the first prisoners collapsed. They took off our face masks. The sunlight was blinding. We were told to lie on the ground. I kept my eyes closed. I heard the clicking of cameras. We were being photographed.
I carefully opened my eyes, but all I could see were boots on the glittering concrete surface. They put our masks back on - mine was a bit loose. They herded us into a bus. It was white. It was dark inside the vehicle. There were no seats in the bus, just hooks attached to the floor. They chained us to the hooks so that we could neither sit nor stand properly. They kept hitting us, and the dogs, which had been taken onto bus, bit us.
"Don't sit like that!"
A blow followed.
"Sit up straight!"
It was unbelievably hot on the bus. We must be in a country with warm winters, I thought. Southern Turkey? It was February or March. Maybe somewhere near the city of Adana. Adana could have been this hot. It was definitely above ninety degrees.
I felt the bus drive across a bridge or an on-ramp. Then we stopped. The bus began to sway. We must be on a ship, I thought. They were kicking us constantly, and the ship listed to one side. Is there an American military base on an island off the coast of Adana, I asked myself. Or are they taking us to Cyprus? Then we rolled back down the ramp and left the ship. At some point - we couldn't have driven more than a half-hour - the bus stopped.
"Get out! Out!"
We had to kneel and lower our heads to our chests. There was a crunching sound. From under my mask, I could see gravel. I don't know how long exactly we knelt there. Several hours. The heat was unbearable. In Afghanistan and on the plane, it had been ice-cold. The soldiers were constantly yelling and hitting us. At last, I was allowed to stand up. The soldiers pushed me forward, and I stumbled barefoot across the gravel. The way was long, with lots of left and right turns. They yelled at me the whole time.
"We'll kill you!"
Then a soldier yelled, "Stop!" Someone took the mask from my head. I was standing in a tent. I saw a name tag. It was the first time I saw a soldier with his name on his chest. I will never forget it. Two other soldiers held my arms tight. They took off the gloves.
"I speak German," said the man with the name tag. "We're going to have a really great time together."
A number of soldiers were busy doing things to me. They pulled out hairs from my arms, put a swab in my mouth, and took my fingerprints. Someone was always fiddling with me. The procedure took quite a while. I kept looking at the one soldier's chest, at his name tag. I was weighed, and they measured my height.
"Name?" they asked.
It was a wonder to me that I could still talk. I hadn't slept properly in weeks because of the noise from the planes, bombs, and electrical generators in Kandahar and because of the interrogations. But at least I was standing up. I was happy to be standing because we sat the whole time on the plane. I didn't know how I was able to stand. It was almost as though the name tag on the male soldier's chest was keeping me upright. I will call him Cecil Stewart.
They put an armband on me. There was a new number on it: 061. It was green and made of plastic.
"This is a nice place," said one of the soldiers who had taken hair and saliva samples. "Lots of trees."
Trees? Were they making fun of me?
He pointed outside the tent.
The tent door was open. I couldn't see any trees. I saw hills. Hills and sand and cactus. Big cactus. There aren't any trees where cacti grow.
"Do you know why you're here?" I heard the man with the nametag ask.
"Do you know what the Germans did to the Jews?" he said. "That's exactly what we're going to do with you."
Someone grabbed me by the shirt and pushed me out of the tent. Outside I saw a number of tightly packed rows of chain-link fence. It was like a labyrinth. I saw another prisoner in his orange overalls being led through the fencing. The soldiers immediately threw me to the ground. I landed on the gravel. "Lie there!" The man with the nametag pressed his knee into the back of my neck, pushing my face into the gravel, so that I could no longer see the other prisoner and the escort team. Only when they were out of sight did we move on.
Where is the prison they're taking me to? I asked myself.
We passed through a number of doors in the chain-link fence and arrived at a pen, also made of chain-link fence. These were cages. Prisoners in orange overalls were already sitting there, each in their own little cages. One beside the other, all in a row, like tigers or lions in a zoo. The labyrinth had to be pretty big if we were all going to fit in here. Surely these strange cages were only an intermediate station. But all I could see around me were hills and cactus. Maybe the prison was over the crest of one of the hills. The soldiers opened up a cage and pushed me inside. I was told to kneel.
"You are Charlie-Charlie-3. Say it!"
"Charlie-Charlie-3," I said. I had trouble understanding. Why was my cage called Charlie-Charlie-3?
Then the soldier took off the chains and locked the door in the fence.
"Sit down!" they ordered.
I sat down.
"Don't move!" they snarled.
I didn't move. They yelled something else that I didn't understand, but I suspected it was about how they were going to kill me. But surely they could have done that a lot more easily earlier. The soldiers left.
I thought they would come back in a few minutes and get me. I sat somewhat more comfortably Indian-style and collected myself. I rubbed my wrists and ankles, which were swollen and bloody. At least they had taken the cuffs off. That felt better, and I calmed down a bit, even though I felt a stinging sensation, as if being poked by a thousand needles. I need to distract myself so I looked around.
In the cage, there were two plastic buckets, the color of eggshells and semitransparent. One contained some water that stank. Perhaps for washing, I thought. The other seemed to be the toilet. There was a thin foam mattress, less than an inch thick, on the ground and a blanket on top. Next to the blanket were a piece of soap, a towel, and a pair of flipflops. We'll be taking these new things with us, I thought. We're probably just waiting here while they prepare our cells.
The prisoners in the other cages greeted me.
One of the prisoners in a nearby cage looked like an Afghan Uzbek. He, too, greeted me. I asked him in Turkish how long he'd been here, but he didn't understand. I tried to communicate with my hands. You? Here? I counted on my fingers: one, two, three, four...
The Uzbek answered in his native tongue and held up all his fingers twice: "Twenty." I took this to mean twenty minutes. He'd been in his cage twenty minutes longer than I had in mine.
I waited. Someone would soon come and get us. Still seated, I measured my cage with my hand. I knew from my shipbuilder's apprenticeship how long the span between my thumb and little finger was when my fingers were stretched out. So I didn't need a measuring tape to figure out that the cage was six feet by seven. It was around six feet high. All told, it was less than fifteen square feet. In Germany, there's a law that kennels in the animal shelter have to be at least twenty square feet. I knew that because I myself had been a dog owner.
I waited and looked around. Not far from me, a prisoner was being led through the chain-link fences. He was still wearing his mask and the soundproof headphones, and I heard the soldiers screaming at him. They kept walking back and forth along the same passageway. Now I understood how we had come here. I thought that we had walked a long distance, but the spot where we had been forced to kneel for hours before they took the mask off was only a few yards away from my cage. We had kneeled directly beside one another, but we didn't know that. They led us around in circles until we thought that we were in a large camp or a prison. But the whole time we had always been in the same place within the maze of chain-link fence pens.
I thought, if it's March, my birthday is coming up. What a surprise. Suddenly I heard a quiet splashing. A frog was swimming in the bucket of water. I had only ever seen them on television - frogs don't live on the Weser River in Bremen. It must have been looking for water in this desert. Where had it come from? I fished him out of the stinking water.
It sat on my hand and looked at me, breathing rapidly. I tried to pat it gently, but it hopped to the ground and disappeared through the fence.
Hour upon hour I waited. No one came. No one was brought away and relocated. In the end, guards came with something to eat. On paper plates, as I saw from a distance, but it was something. Until now we had only ever gotten Emaries. I was looking forward to eating some real food. Maybe everything would get better. It couldn't be any worse than in Kandahar.
That would prove to be a mistake...in every respect.
As the guards approached my cage, all I saw on the plate were three spoonfuls of rice, a slice of dry bread, and a plastic spoon. That was it.
They shoved the plates through a small square opening around knee-height within the fencing. I thought there must be some sort of mistake. Perhaps something had fallen off the plate. Then I saw the rations given to the Uzbek. It was the same miserably tiny pile of rice, or maybe even less. I would have rather had an Emarie. At least they contained crackers.
I ate the rice and looked at my armband. The rice was cold and not fully cooked; the kernels were as hard as sand. But it was all I had to eat. My armband read: "Kunn, Murat, male, Turkish, 5-foot-4, 165 pounds."
They had misspelled my name - after all the time they kept me in custody and despite having confiscated my travel papers. I drank some water from the bucket. I was exhausted. The difference in climate between here and Kandahar was enormous.
Suddenly, within a matter of minutes, the sky grew dark. The sun was gone, and harsh bright lights were switched on. The light came from neon lamps affixed to the corrugated aluminum roof and a large number of spotlights that were mounted on sentry posts and the fences. It reminded me of the soccer stadium in Bremen. From loudspeakers that must have been hanging somewhere, there came some static and then a call to prayer. The time for evening prayers was a while ago, I thought, but then suddenly the voice was drowned out by loud music. It was the American national anthem. I heard the other prisoners start to complain, but that didn't help. At some point, I knelt, carried out the prayer ritual and said as well as I could in Arabic: "Praise be to Allah. Allah hears all who praise him." I bowed thirty-three times. Rock music was now blaring from the speakers, almost too loud to bear. The volume was louder than in any Bremen disco I'd ever experienced.
I had a sneaking suspicion that the Uzbek hadn't been saying he'd been in his cage twenty minutes longer than me. He had meant twenty days. They weren't going to be taking us to prison today. That was all right by me. Despite the light and the noise, all I wanted to do was sleep.
But I couldn't sleep. Every few minutes, guards came and pounded the fence with their nightsticks. Every few minutes someone, sometimes next to me and sometimes in front of me, killed something in his cage and threw it out - snakes, rats, and spiders. The guards' boots crunched on the gravel. And then there were the 1,000-watt spotlights.
The guards returned. We all had to get up and "identify ourselves." We had to extend our hands through the opening in the cage where the food had been shoved through, so that they could read our armbands. Later they pounded on the fencing of my cage because I had my hands under the blanket. "Take your hands out!" Later still, they rattled the fencing because I was lying on my side. "Lie on your back!" At some point, I feel asleep from sheer exhaustion.
Camp X-Ray had been built especially for us, and true to its name, it was supposed to be a prison camp in which everything was completely transparent. This was something entirely new. There were no cells where you could be alone. There was no privacy, no protection from the watching eyes of the guards or the cameras, not even for a second. The cages were so small that it drove you to desperation. At the same time, nature - and freedom - were so tantalizingly close it could make you go crazy. An animal has more space in its cage in a zoo and is given more to eat. I can hardly put into words what that actually means.
The cellblocks all had a second roof of corrugated tin, but the cages were still somewhat in the wilderness. The sun beat down, and there was no refuge in the shade unless the sun was shining directly on the tin roof, which hung about a foot above the chain-link fence roof proper of the cages. The aluminium also heated up fast. We were just as exposed to the rain since it always was driven in from the side. You couldn't escape it no matter which corner of the cage you crept into.
The camp contained six cell-blocks: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot. The blocks were separated by narrow corridors through the chain-link fence pens. Every block had six wings, also named from Alpha to Foxtrot. A wing consisted of ten cages arranged at a right angle. Every cage had a name: Alpha-Bravo 1, Bravo-Charlie 5, Delta-Alpha 9. I was in Charlie-Charlie 3. There were high chain-link walls around the six blocks, interrupted by guard towers with sharpshooters.
The initial days in Camp X-Ray weren't easy. I didn't know we were in Cuba. I had no idea what rules applied here. The rules were constantly changing anyway, and you'd get punished for breaking them. The first night I learned that I was only allowed to cover my legs, and nothing else, with the blanket, and that I wasn't allowed to sleep on my side, only on my back. In the days that followed, I learned that I wasn't allowed to get up and walk around my cage. During the day, we had to remain seated and at night we had to lie down. If you lay down during the day, you were punished. We weren't allowed to touch the fence or even lean our backs up against it. We weren't allowed to talk. We weren't to speak to or look at the guards. We weren't allowed to draw in the sand or whistle or sing or smile. Every time I unknowingly broke a rule or, because they had just invented a new one, did something I shouldn't have, the IRF team would come and beat me.
IRF stood for "Immediate Reaction Force" and consisted of five to eight soldiers with plastic shields, breastplates, hard-plastic knee-,elbow-, and shoulder-protectors, helmets with plastic visors, gloves with hard-plastic knuckles, heavy boots, and billy clubs. I would say they were thugs. Thugs whose entire bodies were protected by bullet- and knife-proof gear. They didn't have weapons with them other than the billy clubs - probably because they were afraid of us getting our hands on them.
I often saw fear in their eyes as they stood in front of our cages and waited to be deployed, even though we didn't have shoes on and were already cowering on the ground. They came with pepper spray in a kind of pressurized aerosol gun that they could aim precisely at a prisoner from ten feet away. It contained oleoresin capisicum, which is made from chili peppers. They sprayed the entire cage and waited until the prisoner was completely unable to resist. Then they stormed in.
"Get up!" "Hurry!"
I heard loud rock music, and I heard their commands. The pepper spray burned my nose, throat, and eyes. I had to cough. The burning was diabolical.
"Get up!" they yelled.
"Get to the wall!"
"Hands to the wall!"
"Move! Move!" happening to me. I heard them beating the fence with their billy clubs.
When the cage door was opened, I heard them yelling. I felt a baton blow to my head. I huddled, and they beat me. They picked me up and threw me to the ground. They kicked and punched me. I curled up into a ball. Then I got angry and tried to defend myself. I jumped to my feet, blind, and started swinging my arms. I got hold of someone's helmet, but they forced me back down and grabbed me by the genitals. They held my arms and legs to the ground, until I was lying there like an animal about to be drawn and quartered. One of them pressed his shield on my chest, while another punched me in the face. At some point, I couldn't hear the music anymore. I heard nothing.
I didn't get much sleep the night of my first visit from the IRF team. I lay on my back - shaken by throbbing pain and the pounding bass from the music - and tried not to move. I had learned that I was only allowed to cover my legs with the blanket and had to keep my hands in plain view on my stomach. I heard the IRF team many times that night. I prayed to Allah that they wouldn't return to my cage.
The next morning, my whole body hurt. I sat up and looked around. It was still dark outside the fences, but breakfast had already arrived: a hardboiled egg without its shell, a slice of dry bread, and a few peas. I heard a couple of the prisoners calling to the guards. It was always the same word:
A short time later, the guards came and brought the prisoners a small piece of toilet paper. They shoved through the square hole in the cage.
"TP!" I called.
I didn't get any toilet paper. I had learned that toilet paper was a matter left entirely up to the guard. If he felt like giving you some, you got some. If not, you had to improvise.
A short time later, the escort team arrived. They bound me, and we walked through the corridors in the chain-link fencing. They pressed my head down so that I couldn't look around. At every door, the guard who did the unlocking read my armband and searched me for weapons. We left Block Charlie, went through the corridor between Charlie and Bravo, walked along Bravo and arrived in the corridor between Bravo and Alpha.
All I could see was the gravel and the cages with other prisoners. Suddenly someone called out in Turkish.
"Murat, Murat! It's me!"
It was Nuri's voice.
Nuri was a Turk I'd met in Kandahar. He sat next to me in front of the hangar while we were waiting to be loaded on to the plane. He had looked terrible. His eyes were swollen, his lips were split, his wrists and ankles bled from the cuffs, and some of his teeth had been knocked out. I had asked him what his name was and where he came from. He said he came from Izmir. That was the city where my father was born.
Nuri was an electrician. He was married and had two children. We had heard the constant screaming of prisoners being tortured in the hangar. Nuri had said: "Now we're going back to where we came from."
Allah, he said, had created us from earth, and the earth was where we would return.
"Do you think," Nuri had asked, "that they'll just let us go after all they've done to us?"
"In any case, it will be better than here," I had answered, "whether or not they kill us."
Nuri had laughed. "You're right. But I'm still worried about my children."
So Nuri was here. I heard him, but I wasn't able to turn my head enough to see him. I couldn't answer.
"Try to get transferred to Block Alpha." How was I supposed to do that?
"Ask the guards," he said. "Ask them to move you here."
I heard him call the guards. They stopped and let my head go. Nuri glared at one of them and gestured for him to come closer. He pointed to an insect crawling on his arm. He pointed to the guard, as though saying: You are this insect. Then he squashed the bug with his hand.
We came to an open space. There was an electric car like a golf cart. We drove in it past a row of long, low buildings, made of chipboard. They were arranged in blocks of four, raised on stilts about three feet off the ground.
Soldiers and an African American woman in uniform waited in front of the building where we stopped. The soldiers frisked me, then the woman asked: "Do you have any weapons?"
That was ridiculous. Where was I supposed to get any weapons?
I said, " Yes, I have."
"Where?" the woman asked and immediately took a step back.
I bared my teeth.
The woman ran away, calling out that I had tried to bite her. Other soldiers hurried up and threw me on the ground.
"You want to bite the guards?"
One spoke loudly and quickly. I could hardly understand a word.
"No, no," I said. "No problem. I don't bite women."
They pressed me to the ground and screamed at me. They were nervous. I hadn't been counting on that. I heard them call an IRF team.
"He wants to bite," the officer said.
The IRF team hit me a couple of times. Then they picked me up and brought me into one of the wooden buildings. There were two rooms, fifteen to twenty square feet, obviously for interrogations. The building had looked much bigger from the outside. There was a chair in the middle of the room. I was told to sit. There was a massive ring in the floor, and they attached the chains between my feet to it with a padlock. The chains around my feet were attached to another chain that ran around my stomach and was attached to my handcuffs.
I couldn't stand up, raise my hands, or even move. In front of me was a table and another chair. That was all. There were two doors but no windows. All around me there was compressed wood. Even the table was made of compressed wood. I looked around the bare space. I didn't see a camera or a mirror. My interrogator would enter through the second door. Behind it there had to be another room, the camera room. But where were the cameras? A guard stood at my side.
My interrogator came out of the second door. He was in his mid-forties. "This is a great opportunity," he said in German. "I'm looking forward to speaking German with you. I don't want to forget it."
He spoke with an accent, but his German was fluent. I was surprised. At least I would have the chance to explain myself in German and prove my innocence. But before I could say a word, he told me that he went to university for a few years in Germany. I think he said in Frankfurt. I waited for him to finish.
He lit a cigarette.
He didn't ask me any questions. Instead, he just talked. He had shared a house with other American students, and they had regularly smoked hashish. A woman from the authorities regularly came to their house with a dog trained to sniff out drugs. But they knew when she was coming so they would break the hashish into little pieces and spread it all over the carpet with a toothbrush. The dog went crazy because he smelled the scent of hashish everywhere, and the woman was happy because she seemed to have discovered the drugs. But she couldn't find them, and every time she left disappointed.
Why was he telling me this silly story?
He was excitable. A lot of the time, he was laughing. There was a file with some papers and a pen on his desk. He told me some more stories, which bored me. He was talking as if I were hardly even there. I think all he wanted was to hear himself speaking German. Or was he trying to win me over?
Whatever, I thought. At least, I was sitting in a chair and no one was beating me.
Suddenly he asked: "Do you know what we have in store for you?"
I smiled and held the smile long enough so he was sure to see it. "Yes," I said.
His expression changed. He had probably been expecting a different reaction. He continued to smoke. I had hoped I would finally be allowed to explain. But I soon realized that this man wasn't at all interested in whether or not I was innocent.
"Tell me your life story," he said.
I started telling him about my apprenticeship as a shipbuilder.
"No, start with your childhood," he said. "Tell me about your childhood."
I told him about going to school in Hemelingen, but he kept interrupting me, he wanted to know names. The names of the friends I had mentioned. He wanted to know if I had any girlfriends - their names interested him, too. He wanted to know when and where I had spent my time and which discotheques I had worked for. Names, names, names.
He said it was obvious that as a terrorist I had only tried to hide in the discos, that I was using them for cover.
"I know you terrorists," he said.
Why should I have tried to hide in a disco?
"You didn't use to wear a beard," he said. "A disguise. You only used your girlfriends."
He was always interrupting me. Did he really think I was a major terrorist?
"I know all your stories. You might as well start with the truth."
He kept smoking.
I told him about my interest in kung-fu.
"Typical for terrorists," he said. "You've all had training in martial arts. Of course, you have. But you're probably the only one who admits it."
He wanted to know which fitness and karate studios I'd worked out in. He said he himself went to a fitness studio.
"Mohammed Atta had a fitness studio in Germany, but behind the scenes he planned his attacks. Just like you."
"I only worked out in my studio in Bremen, nothing else," I said. "I don't know what Mohammed Atta did. I only know him from television."
He wrote down everything I said. I noticed that he used a different pen than the one he had put on the table at the beginning of the interrogation, which he had handled so strangely. It dawned on me that there had to be a hidden camera in that pen. He had placed it on the desk with the cover pointing directly at me so that the camera could film me head on. He never used it for writing, and he handled it so carefully that I knew it had to contain a miniature camera. That much I knew about electronics.
The interrogation lasted for several hours. I told him everything up to the day of my arrest in Peshawar. A few times he stood up and left the room briefly. Perhaps he went to get a bite to eat or something to drink. He packed up his files and carefully put the camera-pen into his breast pocket.
"That's enough for today," he said. "I know you're lying. From the beginning to the end. That's only going to make your situation worse. Bad luck, boy. You shouldn't lie."
"I'm not lying. Why should I be lying?"
"We know exactly who you are. But we wanted to hear it from you in your own words. You blew your chance!"
Then he left, and the escort team brought me back to my cage. They searched me for weapons and then left me alone.
In the meantime, my sneaking suspicion had become a certainty. The Uzbek had indeed meant twenty days and not twenty minutes. The cages weren't temporary pens. They were the prison, wherever it was we were. There wasn't going to be anything else. These cages were my future. I realized that now. But for how long? Chayr Insha Allah. With Allah's will, good things should happen.
But how could any good things happen here?
The guards came and said: "Get ready for a shower!"
I remembered those words from Kandahar.
I stripped down to the boxer shorts they had given us, put the towel, soap, and flip-flops under my arm and waited. They came back with the IRF team and a German shepherd. What had I done wrong now? I only learned later that some prisoners were always accompanied by the IRF team when they were taken to showers or interrogations. They were the ones who were especially strong or had trained in martial arts. Others were just escorted by normal guards.
"Turn around and get on your knees! Hands on your head!"
I turned around, knelt, and put my hands on my head. They entered the cage and put me in handcuffs and foot shackles. Then we walked through the chain-link fences until we got to the showers. They were ordinary cages like the ones in which we were imprisoned, but they were divided in two and there was a hose hanging from the fence. A guard outside the cage turned on the water. They put me in the cage and took off the handcuffs. A thin stream of water came out of the hose. I stepped under it, and as I took the soap and lathered myself up, a quick countdown began. Three-two-one-over. There was no more water. My body was still covered in soap suds, but the soldier operating the tap said:
"Your time is up."
That was what they called taking a shower.
On the way back to my cage, one of the soldiers asked me if I worked out and, if so, in what form.
"Hey, you got big arms," he said. "What do you do?"
I said nothing.
When I arrived back at my cage, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was a new prisoner in Charlie-Charlie 1, which had previously been unoccupied. He was young, around my age, maybe nineteen or twenty. He lay on the ground, making soft noises. He wasn't crying. Instead I thought I could make out something of a melody, a sad song in Arabic. He didn't have any legs. His wounds were still fresh.
I sat in my cage, hardly daring to look, but every once in a while I had to glance in his direction. The stumps of his legs were full of pus. The bandages wrapped around them had turned red and yellow. Everything was bloody and moist. He had frostbite marks on his hands. He seemed hardly able to move his fingers. I watched as he tried to get up. He crawled over to the bucket in his cage and tried to sit on it. He had to go to the toilet. He tried to raise himself up with his hands on the chain-link fence, but he didn't make it. He couldn't hold on with his swollen fingers. Still he tried, until a guard came and hit his hands with his billy-club. The young man fell to the ground.
Every time he tried to hoist himself onto the bucket, the guards came and hit him on the hands. No one was allowed to touch the fence - that was an iron law. But a young man with no legs? They told him he wasn't allowed to stand up. But how could he have done that without any legs? He wasn't even allowed to lean on the fence or to crawl onto the bucket.
Over the next few days, I talked to him a bit. I could hardly understand him. His name was Abdul Rahman, and he came from Saudi Arabia. I think he said he had been at Bagram, where he had been exposed to extreme cold, just as we had at Kandahar. That's why he had frostbite in his fingers and legs. American doctors had amputated his legs at a military field hospital.
I felt incredibly sorry for Abdul. He must have been in unbelievable pain, and he looked half-starved to death. Nonetheless, they just threw him in a cage and left him lying there instead of treating his injuries. How was he supposed to survive? What kind of doctors were they? And the guards that hit his hands.. what kind of people were they?
The bandages wrapped around Abdul's stumps were never changed. When he took them off himself, they were full of blood and pus. He showed the bandage to the guards and pointed to his open wounds. The guards ignored him. Later I saw how he tried to wash the bandages in his bucket of drinking water. But he could hardly move his hands, so he wasn't able to. And even if he had, where would he have hung them up to dry? He wasn't allowed to touch the fence. He wrapped his stumps back up in the dirty bandages.
When the guards came to take him to be interrogated, they ordered him to sit with his back to the door and put his hands on his head. When they opened the door, they stormed in as they did with every other prisoner. They hit him on the back and pushed him on the ground. Then they handcuffed and bound him so he could no longer move. Abdul howled in pain.
Why did they do this? He had no legs and only weighed around a hundred pounds. What could he do to them? Abdul was carried to interrogation. The guards put their arms under his armpits, pressing his shoulders, neck, and head down. They lifted him and carried him through the corridor, his stumps dangling in the air. Abdul cried out horribly.
When he was brought back hours later, his face always looked like he had been beaten.
We spent a few weeks together in Charlie-Charlie. Abdul was always friendly and pleasant, a real nice guy. It took a while for us to communicate, but in the end we managed. I learned that, like myself, he was newly married. His wedding had been a couple of months ago. I asked him if his wife knew he had lost his legs. Of course she didn't - I should have known better. No one knew anything about us. We talked about sports a lot. Abdul said he liked playing soccer.
The strange thing was how calm he remained, even though he was in terrible pain. He was a person who never lost interest in others despite his own atrocious situation. When the IRF team beat him, he never cried. But when he heard or saw them beating prisoners in the other cages, he did cry. He cried in a loud voice. He still felt sympathy for others, even though he himself had been treated so inhumanely. Then he was moved, and I never saw him again.
Today I know that Abdul survived his injuries. His wounds healed, and he can use his hands again. He's gained weight, and he tries to keep himself in shape. I've heard from another prisoner that he can even do push-ups. Abdul had told the other inmate to say hi to me. As of 2007, he's still being held captive at Guantanamo.
Abdul wasn't the only prisoner who had parts of his body amputated. I saw other such cases in Guantanamo. I know of a prisoner who complained of a toothache. He was brought to a dentist, who pulled out his healthy teeth as well as the rotten one. I knew a man from Morocco who used to be a ship captain. He couldn't move one of his little fingers because of frostbite. The rest of his fingers were all right. They told him they would amputate the little finger. They brought him to the doctor, and when he came back, he had no fingers left. They had amputated everything but his thumbs.
A lot of Afghans had been injured or maimed in the fighting. Some of them were missing an arm or a leg. I saw open wounds that weren't treated. A lot of people had been beaten so often they had broken legs, arms, and feet. The fractures, too, remained untreated. In Camp X-Ray I saw a man taken away to interrogation. When he returned, his arm was dangling as though it was only attached to the rest of his body by skin and tissue. The bone in his arm must have been completely severed, but he was simply thrown back into his cage. How was it supposed to heal?
I never saw anyone in a cast. That will heal by itself, the guards always said. Shortly before my release, I met another prisoner who had had two of his fingers broken by the IRF team. The swelling got worse over the days and weeks. I saw some of the people who suffered these injuries again. Others simply disappeared. Or perhaps I didn't recognize them. In the initial days in Camp X-Ray, we all had shaved heads and faces. Later most of us had long beards and hair. There were always prisoners whose arms, legs, and fingers had healed crookedly. They couldn't use their fingers or their limbs. Some of them only had one arm.
Over the years, I had a lot of toothaches and other health problems. But I tried to avoid being taken to the doctor at all costs. I wanted to keep my teeth, fingers, and legs. I saw an elderly man who was blind. He was interrogated, beaten, and tortured the same way the rest of us were. The Americans didn't distinguish among us. The man, I was told, was over ninety. He was an Afghan. His hair and his beard were as white as snow.
A prisoner in a cage next to mine at Camp X-Ray told me his father was also being held at Guantanamo. He had asked the guards a number of times to be allowed to see him. They refused. It was not a unique case. There were lots of fathers and sons in Guantanamo. I knew an eighteen-year- old whose fifty-year-old father was also being kept prisoner. There were also lots of brothers. The fathers had to watch as their sons were beaten, and vice versa. Who can stand to watch his own father being beaten up? In Camp Delta, I saw the IRF team mistreat a prisoner in the cage facing mine. His son was imprisoned next to me. He was forced to watch everything.
Once in Camp X-Ray, I spit at a guard who had hit the old man. They came and said, You're going to be punished! I answered, What are you going to do, lock me up? I'm already in this cage. They beat me up. I'm not proud of what I did, but with some people all you can do is spit on them. This particular guard was maybe twenty or twenty-five years old. The old man was blind. I'd never experienced anything like it. How can people be so awful, so repulsive?
The first time I saw Abdul, I thanked my God that he had spared me that fate. I thanked Allah that I was doing a lot better than Abdul, although I was being tortured and kept locked up in a cage. Sometimes, when I heard the IRF team coming to Charlie-Charlie, I prayed they would come and beat me up and not Abdul. During one of my interrogations, the American who spoke German showed me some newspaper clippings. They'd been printed out from a computer, and you could see the logo of the newspaper. The New York Times, the Washington Post. There was a whole pile of them. He translated the headlines.
"German Taliban Captured by Special Forces in Afghanistan Fighting."
Had they written those articles themselves? They sounded genuine. My interrogator read a couple of paragraphs out loud in English, then he translated: "Units of American special forces succeeded in capturing a German Taliban during fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan. The man who was trained in marital arts put up biettr resistance ... "
An American newspaper had written such lies about me?
"But you know that I was captured in Pakistan," I said.
"Yes, we know it," the man answered. "But the people on the outside don't know it. It's none of our business. Journalists write whatever they want." The American laughed.
At night the creatures came. Perhaps they came down from the hills I could see during the day. Our cages were full of spiders, black widows, and small tarantulas. The tarantulas were black and covered in thick fur. We became good friends. The guards had no objection to us being visited by spiders. Family visits weren't allowed, but spiders were. I didn't care. Tarantulas don't kill people. If they bite you, all you get is a headache. The guards used to crush them into the gravel under their boots.
There was another type of spider the guards were afraid of. They called it the "brown la cruz" or something like that. The spider was reddish-brown, very small, and, with the exception of its backside, hairless. It was supposedly far more poisonous than a tarantula. Its bite could be fatal if not treated immediately. The spiders were able to jump. I always caught them and threw them as far away as I could. I didn't kill them. They hadn't done anything to me. You shouldn't kill any animal you don't intend to eat. The same goes for plants. Snakes also came at night. They were attracted by the warmth of the gravel and concrete.
Charlie-Charlie was one of the outer rows of cages so we were the nearest to the surrounding natural environment. I never got as many visitors as I did there. One time a boa constrictor came. It was very long and thin, and I thought - it still has a lot of growing to do. There were various kinds of snakes, brown ones, green, gray. But they did us no harm. I remembered the snakes in my grandfather's yard and in the hazelnut grove. I thought about the yellow one I had tried to kill with a branch and which Ibrahim had taken care of with a hazelnut twig. Now I felt sorry for it.
One night, I had just fallen asleep despite the din from the loudspeakers, when I felt something crawling on my hand. It felt like someone was trying to tickle me. I thought in my half-sleep that I was at home and my mother was trying to wake me up. She often used to wake me up by tickling me. I opened my eyes and saw that there was a scorpion on my hand. A little black scorpion. I threw it to the ground and crushed it under my foot. I knew that if I did this quickly he wouldn't have time to sting my foot.
Frogs often slipped through the chain-link fence. They looked nice. I don't know how they got into my cage, but suddenly they'd be sitting there. They were in search of water and would leap into the bucket. Sometimes I only saw them when I was drinking. They would be crouching at the bottom of the bucket. That always cheered me up.
The animals I liked best were the iguanas. I always kept some of my slice of bread to feed them. I rolled up the bread into tiny balls and scattered it in front of them on the ground. The iguanas had various colors, green, greenish yellow, or gray. They looked like tiny dragons. Some of them were too big to slip into the cage. But they came anyway. I would flick breadcrumbs through the chain link. They got used to it. Iguanas? Where were we?
Hummingbirds also visited me in my cage. I had read a lot about hummingbirds. Weren't they native to the Caribbean?
Some time later I heard another prisoner say he thought we might be in Cuba. One of them said the Americans had a military base in Cuba. So I asked one of the interrogators, We're in Cuba, aren't we? Yes, he said, we're in Cuba. The cage next to me had become vacant. There was a relatively small but powerfully built man in the one behind it. At first I never saw the IRF team in that cage. Perhaps they were afraid of him. One evening I spoke to him in Turkish. He talked a lot, but I could only understand a little bit. He was Chechen but came from Dagestan. I tried to imagine what it looked like there. I think he said he was a wrestler. But it must have been some unusual form of wrestling. Using his hands, he explained that you weren't allowed to touch your opponent's legs. I liked the man.
I don't want to reveal too many personal details about him. Today I know that he's back in prison. After being released from Guantanamo and sent home, the Russians arrested him at the airport. They trumped up some accusation against him and threw him in jail. I've been told he was sentenced to fourteen years. He is named after an Arab prophet. It's a common name. I'll call him Isa - the Arab name for the prophet Jesus. In Christianity, Jesus is the messiah. In Islam, he's a major prophet, whose return we are still awaiting. I hope that the Chechen will return some day, too, after he's been freed.
Isa was a funny guy. He was always smiling and making faces, although that was forbidden. He didn't give a damn about the guards or the IRF team. He stood up and exercised when he felt like it. He was unbelievably strong. He could do standing backflips. Once he showed me just how powerful he was.
"Psst," I heard him whisper.
Isa was sitting Indian-style and motioned for me to edge over toward him.
"Psst ... "
"Evet?" I asked in Turkish. Yes?
Isa raised his arms and bent his upper body over sideways toward the cage door. He grabbed a vertical iron bar. I could hardly believe my eyes. Bracing himself on one elbow, his legs walked through the air in slow motion, as if suspended by an invisible rope. Then he straightened both of his arms so that his entire body was suspended off the ground horizontally. I wouldn't have thought that was possible. I'd never witnessed such strength and body control. Isa held this position for a couple of seconds, then carried out the same slow-motion movements in reverse, until he was once again sitting Indian-style on the ground.
I was thrilled.
"Eh?" said Isa, grinning with joy like a child. He slapped his thighs.
I applauded, as though I'd just witnessed a magic trick.
The IRF team came and beat him up terribly. Shortly thereafter they sprayed my cage with pepper spray, the door opened, and it was my turn. I rolled up into a ball as best I could on the ground. At least, I thought, the beating was worth it.
Another time Isa gave me a present. It was after dark and the guards were doing their rounds, so no one was talking.
"Psst," I heard Isa whispering again.
I looked over. He wasn't asleep yet.
"Hediye," he whispered. That's Turkish for gift.
In his hand I saw a ball of rolled up paper. I was curious. Was there something to eat inside?
"What's in it?" I asked.
"Hediye," he said.
He waited until the guards had passed by his cage. He flicked the paper through the empty cage toward me. It bounced off the fence and landed on the ground, but I succeeded in getting it through the chain link. I opened it and was startled to see to a giant, disgusting, exotic-looking worm. It was neon green, yellow and red, with legs like a millipede and pincers like a scorpion. The worm looked really dangerous. Its colors were like a pretty piece of graffiti art. It quickly crawled from the paper and onto my hand. I let it drop. It writhed on the ground, and I grabbed a flipflop and tried to crush it. Isa laughed himself sick. He was lying on his back holding his stomach in his hands. Then the IRF team came.
Isa was full of such stunts. When the guards yelled at him, when they threatened and tried to scare him, he would roll up on the ground and laugh. That got the guards really mad. But Isa would just point at them and laugh. As if to say, "Look at how their faces get red when they're yelling."
At Camp X-Ray, there were also female guards - just as there had been in Afghanistan, serving in many capacities except on the IRF teams. There were whites, blacks, and Latinas. The guards were frequently rotated, but I soon came to know most of them. I often saw Cecil Stewart, but he never talked to me. I had the feeling some of the guards would have liked to talk with some of the prisoners. "Sorry," those guards would say. "I can't talk to you. They're watching me." They were under surveillance. It was an iron law that guards weren't to talk to the prisoners. They weren't allowed to treat us like human beings.
I learned the names of two other guards. I will call him Johnson. His specialty was kicking on the cage doors while we prayed. He did this over a course of months. He was known for it. Once I called him by his name.
"Mr. Johnson, please TP."
That made him mad. Instead of giving me some toilet paper, he sent in the IRF team. The guards patrolled around the clock in twelve-hour shifts. Their boots were always crunching somewhere on the gravel. The only time you didn't hear the sound was at night - because of the loud music. In Charlie, they patrolled the corridors between the cages in pairs, while the others sat somewhere and drank coffee. The sharpshooters watched us from the guard towers.
There were signs in Arabic, English, and Persian on the chain-link fence. "Escape is pointless. Sniper surveillance round the clock." But there was no way we could get out of the cages. The fence was made of thick chain link, with the links welded together. One evening, however, I witnessed a scene that made me think.
It was already dark by the time our guard shoved our paper plates through the opening in the cage doors. Cold gruel and a slice of bread. His mind must have been elsewhere because he also shoved a plate into the empty cage between me and Isa. Maybe he thought its occupant was away being interrogated. Isa ate his food. Then he turned in my direction. I saw him tear the fence in a certain spot. He bent the wire and loosened, bit by bit, the solder.
It sounded like a seam of thread popping. The hole was maybe ten or fifteen inches in diameter so that his arm and half his shoulder fit through the opening. Isa grabbed the plate of gruel from the neighboring cage. He replaced it with his empty plate and sealed up the hole in the chain link so that no one would notice a thing. The chain link fences were full of dents from the batons and prisoners wrestling with the IRF teams.
Isa laughed and ate his second helping of gruel.
Then the guards came to collect the plates. They threw them in a plastic garbage bag. I held out my plate through the opening. In the cage next door, the guard retrieved the empty plate and moved on to Isa, who also handed his plate through. Suddenly the guard stopped. He turned around and looked at the empty cage. He looked at his garbage bag, at Isa, and then at me. He scratched his head.
"I saw who ate that plate of food," I said. The guard approached my cage.
"You know Lee [not his real name]?"
"Yeah . . ."
"Lee was here. He ate the plate of food and then left it."
"I know Lee is crazy," said the guard. "But he's not that crazy."
"Then you tell me who ate it," I said.
He shrugged. Then he moved on to collect plates form the other prisoners.
Lee was the third guard whose name I knew. He was Asian, and the other guards used to make jokes at his expense. Lee treated us just as badly as his colleagues, and so we often made fun of him, too.
Isa was grinning from ear to ear.
Until that point, I'd never thought about trying to escape. But after I saw how Isa had torn a hole in the chain-link fence - it got me to thinking. If he'd made it bigger, he could have slipped through. There was a possibility to escape. You had to be very strong. But if Isa could do it, couldn't I as well?
Then I would have to climb over the next fence. It was maybe twelve feet high. There was barbed wire on top that you'd have to get through. But what was the story with the perimeter fence?
That night I dreamt of Faruk, a friend of mine from Bremen. I dreamt of how he was consumed by the drugs he took, how he tried to prove how tough he was by beating people up. And I then I dreamt of him looking me in the eye as if to say: Help me! You're my friend!
It was dark when I woke up. I heard the noises of the animals, and I thought about Faruk. I had failed him as a friend. I thought about Bremen. I asked myself how I had come to be sitting in this cage. Actually, I thought, everything started with a joke Selcuk had made about my beard.
Extracted from Five Years of My Life. An Innocent Man in Guantanamo by Murat Kurnaz. Published by Palgrave Macmillan at £14.99. Murat Kurnaz will be speaking at a panel event for Amnesty International on April 28 in London and May 8 in Belfast. Please visit www.amnesty.org for further details.
© Guardian 2008
Babacan's Address To Ra Foreign Minister Was As Warm As Turkish President's To Serge Sarkisian
By H. Chaqrian, AZG Armenian Daily, 22/04/2008
On the occasion of victory on the presidential elections of February 19 Serge Sarkisian was congratulated by the presidents of France, Russia and Georgia, as well as president of Turkey Abdullah Gul.
On April 15 the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to France Edward Nalbandian was dismissed from his office and appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by the presidential decree. On April 19 Mr. Nalbandian was congratulated by the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Iran, Greece and Turkey.
A day after Foreign Minister of Turkey Babacan congratulated Edward Nalbandian, the Turkish pTV, referring to the Armenian, reported the words of the Minister, "I am sure Your diplomatic experience shall be useful for Your country and that we shall be able to establish necessary dialogue in order to reach the desirable goals"
On the same day, April 20, the Turkish press, following the example of the television, represented Nalbandian's welcome speech as a message addressed to Turkey. "Radikal" newspaper wrote, "Armenia, which had refused to create a joint scientific commission in connection to study the 1915 events, offered Turkey an olive branch by electing Serge Sarkisian a president.
The newly appointed Foreign Minister of Armenia expressed willingness to start dialogue with turkey without preconditions in order to normalize the relations. Although the Minister repeated the official doctrine of Yerevan about 1915 events, he said he advocates forgetting that dark pages of the past and forging our future security. Stressing the strategic importance of the Southern Caucasian region, Nalbandian noted that normalizing the relations between the states of the region and settling all the controversies shall benefit all of them."
In general, the address of the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan to the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian was rather warm, as well as the message of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Serge Sarkisian. The Turkish press has also been more cautious when commenting on Armenia since then. Evidently it is caused by official Ankara's approach to the Armenian issue from the national point of view, and the Turkish press has always been loyal to the authorities.
It is worth mentioning, that the friendly messages of Gul and Babacan imply neither global revision on Turkey's policy on Armenia nor concessions in preconditions. Nevertheless it is possible that the publication of the messages in the Turkish press will a little improve the social opinion about Armenia in Turkey.
Turkish Formin Says Sent Dialogue Letter To Armenia
by Selcuk Gokoluk, UK
ANKARA, April 21 (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Monday he had sent a letter to Yerevan calling for dialogue with Armenia and saying Turkey wanted to normalise ties between the two countries.
Ankara has no diplomatic relations with Armenia and keeps its land border closed in protest at the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which broke away from Azerbaijan as the Soviet Union fell apart. It is run by ethnic Armenian separatists but is not recognised by any state.
"Turkey desires to normalise its relations with Armenia. Turkey is keeping channels of dialogue open with the new Armenian government," Babacan told a news conference.
Armenia and Turkey are also at loggerheads over Ankara's rejection of Armenian claims, backed by many Western historians, that massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One amounted to genocide.
Ankara says large numbers of both Christian Armenians and Muslims Turks were killed during the violent break-up of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul congratulated Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan on his election win in February and said he hoped for an improvement in relations.
The tiny ex-Soviet republic of Armenia is sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan in a region that is emerging as an important transit route for oil exports from the Caspian Sea to world markets, though Armenia has no pipeline of its own.
Turkey was among the first countries to recognize Armenia's independence after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union but has no diplomatic ties due to Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, a slice of Azeri territory populated by ethnic Armenians.
Germany's Turkish Minority - Two Unamalgamated Worlds
Apr 3rd 2008 | Berlin, Economist
Germany's Turks Do Not Properly Belong. But What Is It That They Should Belong To?
HE DID not plan it that way. But when Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, arrived in Germany for an official visit in February he found the Turkish community in turmoil. A few days before his arrival nine Turks, five of them children, had died in a fire in the south-western city of Ludwigshafen. A hate crime, many Turks suspected. The month before, Roland Koch, the conservative premier of the state of Hesse, had tried to win re-election by promising to deport foreign criminals (two-thirds of Turks do not have German citizenship). The transparent appeal to xenophobia backfired, costing Mr Koch his majority and perhaps his job.
Mr Erdogan both calmed tempers and inflamed them. In Ludwigshafen he reassured sceptical Turks that German police and firemen could be trusted. But then he seemed to urge them to hold themselves aloof from German society. Assimilation was a “crime against humanity”, he told a crowd of 16,000 in Cologne. Turkish children should be able to study in Turkish-language schools and at a Turkish university. With that, he largely wore out his welcome. Politicians across the spectrum accused him of fomenting Turkish nationalism on German soil. Perhaps, some mused, the European Union should suspend membership talks with Turkey.
These are awkward times in the fraught 47-year history of Germany's 2.6m Turks, the country's largest ethnic minority. They have powered Germany's industry, populated its cities and produced more than a handful of millionaires, artists and politicians. Doner kebabs, invented by Turks in Berlin, are edging aside currywurst as Germany's favourite fast food. Yet on average these Turks are poorer, less well educated and more violent than ordinary Germans. Even those who speak Germany's language, carry its passport and thrive in its economy are not sure they belong. “We're in, but not in all the way,” says Yasemin Kural, who works in public relations.
How Germany deals with its minorities is a mounting preoccupation for its leaders. In cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants 45% of children under 15 have a “migration background”, meaning either that they immigrated themselves or have parents or grandparents who did. Across Germany, the proportion is nearly a third (including children born to ethnic-German immigrants). Migrants have starring roles in crime, poverty and now terrorism, both as perpetrators and as victims. They and their children account for 36% of the population at or near the poverty line and for 29% of the unemployed.
They are also an asset. Migrants can relieve the shortage of expert labour that now plagues industry and the dearth of children that threatens Germany's future. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, rightly insists that their integration into Germany's society and economy is “decisive” for its well-being. Much of what must be done, such as upgrading education, is colour-blind. But to convert foreigners into fully fledged Germans, Germany is having to redefine itself.
Opening the door, and closing it
The story of Turks in Germany can be told as a tale of two shocks. In 2001 Germans were stunned by mediocre results in the first international PISA test of reading and maths, which was largely due to the poor performance of its “migration-background” students. The second shock was September 11th 2001, when Turks became Muslims in the eyes of many Germans and thus a threat to peace. The PISA shock matters more.
The school authorities in Neukölln, a multi-ethnic part of Berlin, deployed guards to 13 schools in December 2007, not so much to enforce good behaviour as to ward off outside gangs. That modest deterrent barely begins to address their problems. In one such school, Thomas Morus, only two or three of the 50 or so pupils who graduate each year find apprenticeships, the stepping-stone to employment for most young Germans. Four-fifths of the students, with Turks the biggest group, come from homes where German is not the first language. Most speak neither German nor their mother tongue well, says Volker Steffens, the school's principal. Thomas Morus entered the news briefly in 2005, when a student defended the “honour killing” of a Kurdish girl because “the whore lived like a German”, prompting Mr Steffens to send a written rebuke to pupils and parents.
As a Hauptschule, Thomas Morus is in the lowest of the three orders of high school into which most German children are streamed, usually at ten but, in Berlin, at 12. Just 14.8% of German children but 45.4% of Turks end up in Hauptschulen, which ought to prepare them for simple trades but often fail to do even that. In Neukölln they are a dumping ground. Graduates cannot work out how many square metres of carpet would cover a floor, says the district's education chief, Wolfgang Schimmang. The “negative selection” of Thomas Morus's student intake, says Mr Steffens, is “downright extreme”.
The plight of Turkish students has many causes, but they begin with an earlier act of negative selection, the “guest-worker” programme launched in the 1950s. From 1961 onwards, Turkish workers streamed out of the Anatolian countryside to take up West Germany's offer to join its “economic miracle”, which needed unskilled labour to keep it going. Alongside lesser numbers of Italians, Yugoslavs and others, the Turks mined coal, forged steel and manned factories, transferring their earnings back to the home country they assumed they would return to.
When the miracle ended, Germany tried to get rid of them. It shut the door to new guest-workers in 1973, which had the unintended effect of encouraging migrants to import their families. By the early 1980s the government was offering Turks cash to return; it was accepted only by the few who were planning to go back anyway.
As the migrants dug in to Germany, they lost their footing in its economy. The steel and coal industries of the Ruhr slumped in the face of foreign competition. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 the government withdrew subsidies to industry in West Berlin; more than 200,000, many of them Turks, were fired, says Nihat Sorgec of BildungsWerk in Kreuzberg, which trains young Turks for work. Many eluded unemployment—and some entered the middle class—by starting their own businesses; Turks own more than 70,000 across the country, often doner-kebab joints. But many drifted. The unemployment rate among foreigners is more than double the overall German rate of 7.8%. In Neukölln, says Mr Schimmang, 40% of the workforce is jobless and half the families live off government handouts.
Guest-workers are bequeathing some of their handicaps to later generations. Having grown up in Germany, the young are better educated than their parents and would be strangers in Turkey if they returned. Yet many Turks remain misfits at home. In the 2003 PISA test the maths scores of second-generation Turks placed them more than two years behind their German contemporaries. A sixth of migration-background pupils drop out of school, compared with less than a tenth of Germans. And Turks are three times as likely as non-migrants to have committed multiple acts of violence.
Schools are supposed to even out the odds among children of different backgrounds, but by the time migrant children arrive at Thomas Morus, its director thinks, it is almost too late. Their parents are “education-shy” and boycott the get-togethers over coffee that the school offers. At home, satellite television beams foreign-language programming at children whose German is already imperfect.
Germany has few ethnic ghettos. Heavily Turkish Kreuzberg, once on the periphery of West Berlin and now at the centre of the united city, feels more like Greenwich Village than the South Bronx, and even Neukölln “rocks”, according to the cover of a Berlin entertainment magazine. But migrants and Germans lead largely separate lives: when German children reach school age their parents flee (along with middle-class Turks), leaving poorer migrants alone together. “The education system transmits inequality among parents extremely strongly to the successor generation,” says Frank Kalter, a sociologist at the University of Leipzig.
Not by design. Hauptschulen spend more per student than loftier tiers of high school, and in Berlin there is a supplement when the proportion of foreigners passes 40%. But the effort falls short. The city's teachers have been demoralised by pay cuts and a heavier teaching load. Many were transferred unwillingly to Neukölln from East Berlin's shrinking schools; less than 1% of the district's 2,500 teachers share their students' migrant backgrounds. That may be why the concern Thomas Morus's staff feels for its students seems tinged with a sense of estrangement. More than two-thirds of Turks see themselves as victims of discrimination, says Faruk Yen of the Centre for Studies on Turkey in Essen. And alienation can be dangerous.
The radical fringe
When police rounded up the plotters of what would have been Germany's worst terrorist attack last autumn, Germans were shocked to learn that two of the four young conspirators were Turks. Turks account for the bulk of Germany's 3.2m-3.4m Muslims. But the border between religion and politics, policed until very recently by the Turkish state, has been largely respected in Germany, too. “Islamic activism appears to be confined to the non-Turkish element” of Germany's Muslim population, said a study published last year by the International Crisis Group. Now that assumption looks shaky. In the past year the amount of Turkish-language material preaching jihad over the internet has exploded, intelligence officials say.
Even more than most Europeans, Germans are wary of Muslims. According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Research Centre, 82% of Germans were “very” or “somewhat” concerned by the rise of Islamic extremism, compared with 77% in Britain and 76% in France. In Germany 51% of Muslims thought “many” or “most” Europeans were hostile to them; in France 39% of Muslims had that feeling and in Britain 42%. Disputes over headscarves and mosques bruise Muslim feelings as often in Germany as elsewhere in Europe (minarets should not “ostentatiously” overshadow church spires, Ms Merkel has said). After September 11th 2001, “Suddenly we were all suspect,” says Ahmet Iyidirli, a politician from Kreuzberg.
Partly in defiance, says Werner Schiffauer of the Europa Universität Viadrina, “the Turkish community is becoming more Muslim,” reinforced by a global quickening of Islamic feeling. Profound faith is probably less widespread than its symbols: drug-dealers in Frankfurt flaunt Islam as rappers do bling. But 29% of adult Muslims attend mosque regularly and 87% call themselves believers, according to a recent study by Germany's interior ministry.
Religiosity arouses two fears: that the devout will create “parallel societies” incompatible with German culture and democracy and that a few of their number will become recruits to extremism and violence. The interior-ministry survey found that nearly half of Muslims consider their religion to be more important than democracy; more alarming are the 9% who do not condemn suicide attacks and the 15% of school children who are anti-Semitic or anti-Christian. Islamists who advocate violence account for about 1% of adult Muslims, and just a handful will act on their beliefs. The domestic intelligence agency monitors 28 Islamist groups with 32,000 members, most of them adherents of IGMG, the European arm of Turkey's Islamist Milli Gorus movement. “Germans seem to perceive a visible Islamic way of life as an entryway to terrorism,” says Oguz Ucuncu, IGMG's general secretary.
So integration must now proceed along two tracks: guiding Turks into the social and economic mainstream and Muslims toward allegiance to the Rechtsstaat, the state conditioned by the rule of law. There is a risk of collision.
Turkish Muslims are a diverse group. They include some 600,000 Alevis, who practise an easy-going form of Islam, and the same number of Kurds, whose occasional confrontations with Turks in Germany mirror strife between the two peoples in Turkey. DITIB, the largest grouping of Turkish Muslims, is a creature of Turkey's traditionally secular state, which pays the salaries of imams in Germany and until recently wrote their sermons.
Since 2006 representatives of these and other brands of Islam have been part of the German Islam Conference established by the interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, which seeks to make religion a bulwark against extremism rather than a conduit to it. In March it backed German-language teaching of Islam in public schools and agreed that religious freedom must be bounded by the “basic democratic order”. The test may be whether IGMG, an informal participant despite the spies' suspicions, can get along better with the German state than it has with the Turkish one. Milli Gorus rejects Turkish secularism and can sound anti-Semitic when berating Israel. IGMG's adherents want to be good German citizens, Mr Ucuncu insists. The group defends religious scruples that look to Germans like a rejection of their norms—keeping schoolgirls out of mixed-sex swimming classes, for example—as exceptions to a general willingness to integrate. “We want to immunise against extremism and terrorism,” says Mr Ucuncu.
The state's deference to religion alarms secular Turkish groups, one of which is setting up a council of liberal theologians to contest orthodox rulings on issues such as headscarves. Rather than catering to the zealotry of a minority, they insist, the state should ensure that all Turks gain full access to Germany's bounty. Achieving that requires a two-front approach, says Lale Akgun, a Social Democratic member of the Bundestag from Cologne: an “education offensive” as bold as the one that vaulted workers' children into universities in the 1970s, and an “openness offensive” to instil a sense of fellowship between migrants and native Germans.
On both sides there is resistance. Even six decades after Hitler, Germany has not sloughed off the idea that Germanness is a matter of blood rather than of culture or allegiance. However high they rise, however good their German, Turks are not allowed to forget that they are foreigners. “I employ 100 people and still I'm not seen as German,” says Mr Sorgec.
Mr Erdogan's sortie against assimilation plays to Turkish inhibitions, like the sort expressed by Mrs Aydin, a hijab-wearing housewife from Neukölln. She sees “no future” in Germany for her three children because there are “no jobs”. Her 17-year-old son has no intention of returning to Turkey, yet is not a German citizen. “He is a Turk and remains a Turk,” says Mrs Aydin. Even winners are readier to call themselves Berliners or Europeans than Germans. Andreas Cem Vogt, head of marketing at a call-centre company, opted for civilian rather than army service, a common decision, on the uncommon grounds that he did not feel “100% German”. With a German father and a Turkish mother, “I grew up in two worlds.”
The middle ground between assimilation and aloofness is just being marked out. The 2000 citizenship law allows non-ethnic Germans to obtain citizenship. The 2005 immigration law marked the start of an integration push that now enlists all levels of government and the private sector. Some 250,000 migrants have taken federally financed language and civics classes. States are rushing to upgrade children's German before they enter primary school. Under Berlin's Deutsch Plus programme, pre-schoolers who fail a test get six months of tutoring. Attitudes are changing, too. Surveys show that young Turks cling less tightly to Turkish culture than older ones, and that the share of Germans who think too many foreigners live among them has shrunk from a large majority 25 years ago to a narrow one now.
Turks still bristle at what seem to be anti-Turkish obstacles, such as requiring spouses from poor countries to learn a bit of German before arrival. They resent having to choose between German and Turkish citizenship. Germans are unsure what it is foreigners should embrace in order to belong. They want them to absorb their Leitkultur, but the pre-war charisma that made Jews passionate Germans has gone.
That may not matter so much in a Europeanising Germany whose sense of itself is based largely on the rule of law. Refashioning identity is likely to be a collaborative process, enlisting people like Aylin Selcuk, a dental student from Berlin who grew weary of being asked where she came from and whether she spoke German. She started DeuKische Generation to persuade Germans that Turks could be as German as anyone, and to push Turks to embrace the language and norms of their adoptive country. “Germans think we'll leave, but I'm mainly German,” she insists in Hochdeutsch as mellifluous as anyone's. Astonishingly poised for a 19-year-old, she might just become the first German chancellor to boast a Turkish name.
US Refuses Engine Production In Turkey For Attack Choppers
The US administration has turned down an Italian request for the transfer of technology for US T800 engines to pave the way for their production in Turkey and to be mounted on Turkish attack helicopters intended to be co-produced with Italian Agusta Westland.
Unlike an earlier statement made by Undersecretary Murad Bayar of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) to daily Hürriyet that the Italians had ensured that an export license for production of T800 engines in Turkey at Tusas Engine Industries Inc. (TEI) facilities, local sources close to the project told Today's Zaman that the US has only agreed to extend technical assistance support for the engines, not their production in Turkey.
The engines to be mounted on Turkey’s attack helicopter play an important role in the project since it would increase the efficiency of the helicopters in line with the request made by the Turkish Land Forces Command.
The US refused to sign a manufacturing license agreement (MLA) with Italy for the LH Tech T800 engines but agreed to sign a technical assistance agreement (TAA) that envisages technical support to be given for the engines to be fitted on Turkish attack helicopters, said the same sources.
The SSM and Italian manufacturer Agusta Westland signed an agreement in September of last year for the co-production of 51 A129 attack and tactical reconnaissance helicopters at the Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI) facilities in Ankara. The project, worth around $2.7 billion, is codenamed T-129.
The project involves local production of software source codes and hardware as well as the integration of high-technology avionics on the helicopters. But due to delays in both export license approval by the US, as well as the Italian government’s late approval of its company transferring the necessary technology for the production of helicopters in Turkey, the project has not yet begun.
The SSM, believing that the latest technical hurdles have been overcome, plans to make the project effective in the first half of April, soon after the planned meeting of the SSM Executive Committee on April 9, during which the procurement of some arms projects will be decided.
Plans for the acquisition of attack helicopters date back more than 10 years, to when Turkey first decided to buy them as an urgent requirement. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), allegedly unhappy about the selection of the Agusta Westland model over concerns it would not meet its operational requirements, has urgently sought the transfer of around 10 used Cobras from the US to meet its needs during the increased fight with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists.
But US has so far turned down the Turkish offer, due to the unavailability of Cobras, and instead offered armed Black Hawk or possibly Apache attack helicopters.
In the meantime, the Land Forces Command refused an Italian offer for the transfer of its own attack helicopters as an interim measure, despite the fact that the Italian helicopters were selected for co-production in Turkey and were intended to be used by the Land Forces Command.
There has been increased speculation in Ankara that Turkey’s attack helicopter plans with Italy may fail, mainly because the Turkish configuration requests on the helicopters are hard to meet.
Turkey to opt for US Sikorsky multipurpose helicopters
The SSM Executive Committee, which includes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit and Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, cancelled a multipurpose helicopter acquisition project at its Dec. 5, 2007, meeting.
Instead it decided Turkey would conduct talks with the US Sikorsky and Italian Agusta Westland for the procurement of over 80 helicopters for the TSK, worth around $1.5 billion.
However, Today’s Zaman has learned that the SSM Executive Committee is expected to cancel its 2000 decision, under which a tender was opened for the helicopters’ acquisition. Instead Turkey may now buy US Sikorsky helicopters as a sole source.
Meanwhile, during its April 9 meeting the SSM Executive Committee may decide on the winner of another long-awaited acquisition, the Göktürk electro-optical satellite project -- worth around $230 million.
Turkey has decided to eliminate Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) from the Göktürk project. A selection is expected to be made from among Italian Telespazio, Germany’s OHB-System and Britain’s EADS Astrium.
Due to heavy French involvement in the Italian offer, the TSK is allegedly inclined not to favor Telespazio, while reportedly preferring German OHB-System, though local industrialists state that Germany does not have a proven satellite system.
Britain’s EADS Astrium, meanwhile, has reportedly increased its level of technology transfer offer to Turkey, while minimizing French content in the project to make its system more attractive.
Turkey has reduced its ties with France following the latter’s adoption of a resolution condemning Ottoman Turks for alleged responsibility in a so-called genocide of Armenians during World War I.
31.03.2008, Lale Sariibrahimoglu Ankara
Another Example Of Keeping Fire Aflame, So That Animosity Persists, Donations Exist
Would You Accept The Eu To Support Genocide Denial?
Petition by European Armenian Federation For Justice And Democracy
For Release On The 24th April – International Remembrance Day Of The Armenian Genocide
Would you accept the EU to support Genocide denial?
No, of course. And would you accept the funding of an ultranationalist State? No again, obviously.
However, for now more than ten years, the European Union regularly denies, grossly negates or fails to deal justly with the Armenian Genocide.
It makes it in your name, without your consent and it is thus conniving against the will of EU citizens with the worst of crimes against Humanity.
It makes it to please Turkey and to ease the stubborn accession process of this country despite the lucid opposition of Europeans.
Yet, Turkey is a racist, militaristic and xenophobic State where superiority of the Turkish “race” is taught, where ethnic and cultural diversity is repressed and where the heritage of minorities is destroyed. This very same Turkey committed the Armenian Genocide, keeps on denying it and is absolutely failing to comply with the European values.
Because of the nature of this absolute crime, because of its 1 500 000 victims and because of the pledges for protection and reparation made by Europe to the survivors – the Union would have to demand to Turkey the recognition of this Genocide in the framework of the accession process.
However, facing the intransigence of Turkish diplomacy, it is far easier to cover it, to cover its denial – as well as the other breaches of Turkey to Human Rights.
As it fails to compel Turkey to its values, the Union actively attempts to “counteract the negative perceptions of the Turkish EU-accession process that exists in certain segments of public opinion”: On this year, as on the former ones, 40 to 60 million Euros from our taxes will grant a program of “dialog between European and Turkish civil societies” intending to turn acceptable the unacceptable. This amount is part of the half billion Euros granted yearly by the Commission to Turkey’s criminal regime.
On this Thursday 24 April 2008, we commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This commemoration gives us the opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity with the victims of all genocides: the Armenians, the Jews, the Tutsi and now, sadly, the Darfouri; As Genocides performed today stem from the same ideology that currently deny the first Genocide. As denying the Armenian Genocide also allows to hush present mass crimes.
If, as us, you believe that genocide is both a severe moral failure and an actual political threat,
if, as us, you don’t accept to be made an accomplice of such a policy which ruins European values,
then please sign up to this petition that will be forwarded to the European Union.
I sign up the petition
The European Armenian Federation represents the European citizens with Armenian origins toward the European institutions
``Turkic Network” was Founded in New York
The Federation for Turkish-American Associations (TADF), which based in New York/ USA and the American and Azerbaijani Society, introduced the ``US Turkic Network`` (USTN) project that was founded for developing relations between Turkish society and the USA, with a program that was organized at the Turkish House.
During the meeting, besides the goal of bringing the Turkish society in the USA together, information was given about the project, which was initiated for developing relations between the Turkish world and the USA, putting the Turkish effect forward at the local and national American elections, acting jointly against the unreal Armenian claims, and initiating mutual political, cultural and social studies.
Expressing that rooting from the thought of “One Nation and Two States” there cannot be two different Diasporas in America, like Azerbaijan Diaspora and Turkish Diaspora during the opening speech, Tomris Azeri, the Vice-President of TADF and President of American Azerbaijan Society, stressed the importance of mutual studying.
During the meeting, which continued with a film entitled “One Nation and Two States” Kaya Boztepe, the President of TADF noted that the members of Turkish-American society should leave defense aside and set up for “attack” on the Armenian claims.
Stating that Republican Party has proposed him a candidacy from the New Jersey state, Boztepe stressed the importance of this offer as regards the distance that Turkish society has covered.
As the Federation, they have chosen New Jersey state as a sample state and visited the members of the Congress, Boztepe said: “there were many Conressmen opposing us. However, no one has told them the other side of the story until today. But, now they know that there are turks who inhabit there; it is not empty.”
Boztepe indicated that USTN will undertake very important task for helping the congressmen remember that there are Turkish voters at the election region.
During an informative presentation entitled “The Elevtion Day of the Turkish Diaspora in the USA”, Adil Baguirov, the Director of US Azerbaijani Network stated that their goal was not tomake lobbying activities, but to defend the rights of the Turks. Pointing out that they will a an association, which will defend Turks, not the opponents of Armenians, Baguriov, invited the members of Turkish-American society to take part at the project.
Expressing that the Armenians, who influence the foreign policy of the USA constitute 1 percent of the USA population and two big associations, that was founded by the Armenians and whose budget is 13 million Dollars in total, have share at this situation.
Telling that there is n “Armenian Genocide Museum” at Washington, Baguirov called for opening a “Turkish History Museum” and a department within, which demonstrates how Turks and Azerbaijanis were massacred.
The program was attended by New York Consul General Mehmet S,imsek and a crowded group consisted of Turks, Azerbaijanis, Ah?ska Turks and Turkmen.
The web site of the association, entitled www.usturkic.org will be opening in the coming days.
Turkey “Slams” Argentinean Statement On Armenian Genocide
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday necessary initiatives were underway pertaining to the Argentinean Senate’s statement on the Armenian Genocide.
"The Argentine Senate has approved a new text supporting the baseless Armenian allegations... (which) we strongly condemn and fully reject," the Foreign Ministry said.
Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydin cancelled his visit to Argentina following this adoption of the resolution.
Aydin was scheduled to travel to Buenos Aires on April 28-29 for a gathering of the UN-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations initiative, which aims to foster dialogue between Islamic and Western societies and is co-chaired by Spain and Turkey.
"Decision of the Argentina Senate contradicts historical facts and violates principles of international law," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said, the Anatolian Agency reported.
Congressman King Reaffirmed Historical Fact Of Armenian Genocide For Congressional Record
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Congressman Peter King (R-NY-3) reaffirmed the historical fact of the Armenian Genocide in remarks offered for the Congressional Record on Thursday, April 24, 2008 reported the Armenian National Committee of New York (ANC of NY).
Speaking at the meeting, Cong. King told the delegation of Armenian community leaders that he has always known that the events of 1915 constituted genocide, and pledged to include such language in a statement to be offered for the Congressional Record.
In his remarks, he stated: "Today I rise to mark the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide which began on this date ninety-three years ago. From 1915-1923 the Ottoman Empire carried out the deportation of approximately 2 million Armenian men, women, and children from their homeland of which 1.5 million were killed. And to this day, neither the Ottoman nor Turkish governments have been held to account for their involvement."
BBC, The Washington Post And PKK by Sedat Laciner
The national interests are pursued not only by means of tanks and guns both in the US and the UK because the power of media is regarded as a crucial tool to be utilized in the defense policy of the country. Especially in cases of military operations to be conducted against any country, the public relations constitute the most important aspect of the issue. As many as the number of soldiers operating on the field, there exist those people acting to shape the public opinion worldwide just like the litheness of a machine.
‘The public opinion is tried to be captured’ with the help of diplomatic representatives, so called NGOs, charity organizations, environment clubs, child associations, archaeology institutes, corporations, newspapers and TV channels and many other official, semi-official and civil society organizations.
Even though we do not approve, some photos are produced and given meaning, if necessary, as in the case of the Gulf War. Then, you watch on the TV screens the tragedies of those spurious victims swearing and testifying their countries in order to settle down the
USA. Whenever you happen to gather information about a country to be invaded, you realize that the required information is diffused excessively and freely by an invisible hand throughout the internet. The American info-production centers prepare such excessive and functional data that you may not even need any other sources to be informed. For instance, 80% of all the information floating in the net on the nuclear activities of Iran is consciously diffused by the US herself. If you want to reach the basic information about Iran, the most convenient source to be found is probably either Wikipedia or CIA World Factbook. Moreover, even some diplomats, whose countries are the enemies of America, reach some information about their country via CIA World Factbook.
Shortly, the defense (offense) is not realized by tanks and guns. Those targeting the results only through hard power are the ones possessing solely that power, and always end up with disappointment. What is played is the intelligence game in which the most important area of clash is the media, and generally public relations. Therefore, no state has the right to survive in this game if it is not well-advanced in terms of communication.
In that regard, the seemingly independent broadcasting organizations such as BBC, CNN and the
Washington Post can easily transform into a spy or a soldier within quite a short time. We have experienced the most animate examples of this issue in the fight against PKK terrorism, and we are still continuing to experience. Almost all the Western media organizations reject to call PKK as a ‘terrorist organization’. In spite of the tons of protest letters sent to BBC, the so called independent British press organization, which has the full public support for its expenditures, states that they choose to use impartial language with regard to such issues. The BBC Editorial Guideline states that when reporting terrorism “other people’s language should not be adopted” and “the use of the term of terrorism should be avoided, other people should be let to characterize.” Even if it seems quite nice on paper, the organization in question (PKK) is the one labeled as ‘terrorist’ and accepted as such in the laws by almost the whole world. The British Anti-Terror Law is not immune to this general rule. Therefore, there exists no situation according to which BBC would act with the fear of treating unjustly to anybody. Nevertheless, if BBC has not been able to comprehend whether PKK is a terrorist organization or not, there is something strange here. What is more, BBC has not demonstrated the same sensibility in the case of IRA, whose activities have been labeled as ‘terrorist’ by the same BBC. It has been BBC which quite easily censored the news related to IRA, and which could not stand hearing even the voices of the IRA leaders, but instead replaced them with the voices of machines. In other words, the principles of BBC Editorial Guideline do not apply when it comes to the members of IRA. For instance, in the news of 15 April 2001, entitled as “Real IRA Linked to Post Office Blast”, it was stated that the blast “is thought to have been the work of dissident Irish republican terror group the Real IRA”. In another case of 26 January 2006 news, the activities of IRA were presented as “the IRA terror campaign”. In line with such examples, according to BBC, there is no doubt about Al-Qaeda’s being a terrorist organization. Almost in each and every news, the expression of “terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden” is utilized for the leader of Al-Qaeda. BBC, with regard to ETA, utilizes the same approach and easily calls it as a ‘terrorist organization’. The examples are so of a mass amount that it is impossible to cite each and every of them.
In short, BBC does not take it hard to label those terrorist organizations, other than PKK, as ‘terrorist organization’. With regard to those organizations, the principles of Editorial Guideline do not cause any problems. However, when it comes to a terrorist organization pouring the bloods of Turks and Kurds, BBC feels the necessity of being impartial. It seems the blood of 5.247 civilians murdered by PKK is not so enough that BBC mentions about its being not ready to call PKK as a terrorist organization. PKK is such a terrorist organization that it can bomb in front of an education institution in the middle of a crowded city in which many Kurds live. And, BBC happens to find regarding PKK as a terrorist organization as incompatible with its principles…
In this case, is BBC the only one acting on double standards?
Of course, not!
Those so called respectable newspapers and channels do not use the expression of ‘terrorist organization’ for PKK while it is utilized for Al-Qaeda unhesitatingly.
Keep aside the utilized language, in the last operation (Operation Sun), some broadcasting organizations, primarily BBC and the Washington Post, went well beyond this language and produced news that can be rightly regarded as being clear psychological support to PKK. While the Operation was underway, the Iraq-originated news of BBC seemed just like a PKK campaign conducted in an explicit, planned and programmed manner. To exemplify, if the news written by Crispin Thorold under the title of “Sympathy for Rebels in Northern Iraq” were penned by the PKK, there would be not much of a difference. Firstly, when you look at the photos published in the newspaper, you can think of the Iraqi town of Ranya as a town in the US. In the photo, the SUVs of the newest models, a wide motorway and a peaceful town were quite successfully portrayed. The mountain covered with snow was so successfully displayed in the photo that the ordinary town of the north part of Iraq resembled a skiing center in Canada. Considering all these, one tends to think that the image to be created should be the image of civilized members of PKK living peacefully among the civilized people. Moreover, no Ranyanian is troubled with the PKK. On the contrary, according to Mr. Thorold, PKK is quite popular and welcomed in Ranya. “In Ranya, local people have got used to their neighbors in the PKK”, says the ‘journalist’ of BBC. One man with whom Mr. Thorold talked states: “I like the PKK. They are very good people. They look after people here. The PKK are fighters but they are not dangerous people like other people, like Islamic people. Like Osama bin Laden.” The British journalist told with one man in enormous Northern Iraq without mentioning his name, and, this one man praised PKK in an unbelievable manner. What is strange here is that this ‘one man’ used the expression of ‘dangerous’ for the Islamic people. Then, is this ‘one man’ non-Muslim?
Another person with whom the British journalist told is again unnamed one middle-aged man. This middle-aged man states: “The Turkish government wants to attack all the Kurdish people and not just the PKK. Turkey just wants to make things complicated here in the Kurdish region of Iraq.” The British journalist does not give the name of this middle-aged man, but does not hesitate to add: “That view is shared by many local politicians…” The third man with whom BBC told in this region again does not have any name. The person is presented as an elderly man in the news. This elderly man says: “The PKK are human beings like us. They just want to stay in their country. The Turkish government is like Saddam Hussein’s regime. In the south of Turkey they cannot even study their own language. The situation is getting worse. We just want it to improve and for there to be peace.”
How is it possible to mention about the good will and independent journalism of BBC after seeing such expressions? If we, by stating to have told with three unnamed people, publish those writings praising Al-Qaeda and make a comparison between the British government Saddam Husain, how would be the reaction of London to such condemnation? By the way, let’s to remind, the article of Thorold was just only one example that can be regarded as BBC’s explicit support to PKK.
The Washington Post
The Washington Post was among the newspapers ‘supporting’ PKK during and after the Operation. The news entitled as A Kurdish Society of Soldiers, written by Joshua Partlow and photographed by Andrea Bruce, constitutes on its own such an excellent example that it can serve as the basis of the book to be prepared for the course on the issue of how to support terrorism with media. Partlow portrayed PKK as ‘a Kurdish movement and army seeking for justice’. What is more, he presented PKK as a civilized movement far from the violent culture of the
Middle East, and went even to a point to state: “They relate their struggle to those of the American revolutionaries who fought the British crown.” The Andrea Bruce’s camera tried to create an image of poor but proud people who are romantic, civilized and in a struggle for right. The journalists claim to follow the operation with PKK terrorists for 5 days. I say ‘they claim to’ because there is no sign of clashes in their photos. In the writings of Partlow and the photos of Bruce, instead of a harshly devastated Zap region, there exist the terrorists of PKK who stand to challenge Turkey and behave so calm and romantic to feed a little bear with baby bottle. Additionally, Partlow noted that the ‘guerrillas’ of PKK received no salaries. It is obvious that Partlow regards PKK members not as terrorists, but as laborers who should get salaries in return for their jobs.
Especially Andrea Bruce’s photo showing a member of PKK feeding a little bear with a baby bottle should be analyzed more closely. Of course, Bruce did not put the expression of ‘terrorist’ under this photo, too. This person called as ‘A PKK rebel’ smiles while feeding the baby animal with the compassion of a mother. He has a Kalashnikov put on the rocks, but Bruce stated that PKK is a self-sufficient society, and bears no resemblance to the rest of
Iraq. Within such a portrayal, the one looking at the photo either feels sorry for PKK or admires it.
In another photo, Bhoz Erdal is displayed. The note made by WP is as such:
“The Turkish army could not capture any of our territory, could not get one of our bases, our weapons or even a scrap of nylon.”
WP states that these words belong to “the PKK commander”. Again, he mentions neither the expression of terrorism nor the sign of “terrorists”. As if there existed a legitimate army in before us (!)
The US sometimes acts as such. When the balances are thought to have broken down, she puts some amount of weight in one side of the teeter-totter. Such amount is placed sometimes in the Turkish sides, sometimes in the side of the terrorist. It has been proven as such in the Operation Sun as well. When Turkey showed the signs of going out of control, the number of anti-Turkey news began to increase in the Western media. The attempts to present PKK as a pleasant-romantic people’s movement increased substantially. While the Turkish general staff was distributing the press, someone was ensuring the balance with the photos of dead women, of ‘pleasant terrorists’ feeding baby bear. While BBC was diffusing the news that PKK got the support of all the Kurds, Turkey was trying to ‘enlighten’ an enormous operation by means of short statements. While even PKK was working with some associated journalists, Turkey fought against PKK on the one hand, and the misunderstandings on the other.
We have not been able to comprehend, yet.
We still regard the fight against terrorism as the fight against terrorist.
We have stuck to the point of the number of the dead terrorists.
We are still unable to realize that the most important part of the fight against terrorism is conducted in the minds. Therefore, we are still running after the terrorists in the areas defined by the fairness of the others; and cannot jump into the stage of fight against terrorism.
For those wondering the attitudes of BBC and The Washington Post in the next operation, let me say that they will continue not to call PKK as ‘terrorist organization’. However, the question of which side to be ‘supported’ will be determined by the conditions. Nevertheless, irrespective of whichever side is supported, they will continue to rely on the Book of Editorial Guidelines.
 ‘Editorial Policy BBC Guidance Note’ Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/assets/advice/reporting_terrorism.pdf
 ‘Real IRA Linked to Office Blast’, BBC News, April 15, 2001. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1278355.stm
 ‘Bin Laden Suspects Fight Extradition’, BBC News, October 22, 2001. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1613919.stm
 ‘Journalists in the Frontline’, BBC News, October 1, 2001. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_newas/1567324.stm
 ‘Sympathy for Rebels in Northern Iraq’, BBC News, October 26, 2007. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7063402.stm
 ‘A Kurdish Society of Soldiers’, The Washington Post, March 8, 2008. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/03/07/ST2008030703635.html
Copyright © 2005 Journal of Turkish Weekly
Speaker Pelosi Urges To Put An End To Turkey’s “Gag-Rule" On The U.S. Congress
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was joined by more than a dozen of her House and Senate colleagues yesterday in urging passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, a move described by legislators on both sides of the aisle as a long overdue of Turkey’s "gag-rule" on the U.S. Congress and a powerful step toward ending all forms of U.S. complicity in Turkey’s multi-million dollar campaign of denial, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"I come to pay respect with some sadness – certainly sadness over what happened nearly 100 years ago but also sadness that it is long past time for the President and the Congress to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide," Speaker Pelosi said.
She then went on to explain the modern day implications of genocide denial. "Many times people have said to me as we were bringing this up and since then ‘Why are you doing this? Even if it is genocide, it happened a long time ago?’ I said ‘I know, but genocide is happening right here and now on our planet. It happened in Rwanda, and it is happening in Darfur. And as long as it exists we have to make a statement about a genocide we know happened – no matter how long ago.’"
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer concurred, sharing with the assembled Members of Congress and Armenian American community activists, "Don’t accept the premise at all that this resolution is about what happened in 1915-1923. Does it recognize it, does it relate to it – of course. But it is a resolution that says not just to Turks, not just to the Armenian people, but to all peoples, that we need to recognize the transgressions of the past – however heinous they may be and however much we may want to deny them. Because if we do not, our children will not recognize their responsibility to never let it happen again."
"Americans don’t like gag rules," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We saw that at this year’s Capitol Hill observance, and we’re seeing it across Congress, from both sides of the aisle. Americans don’t appreciate a foreign government dictating our human rights policy and resent Turkey’s attempts to veto America’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide."
"Le Monde" Comments On Babacan's Message To Armenian Foreign Minister By H. Chaqrian
AZG Armenian Daily 24/04/2008
"Sabah" newspaper on April 22 informed that "Le Monde" newspaper, France, commented on Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's call upon Armenian authorities to start dialogue with Turkey. "Le Monde" also drew attention to the fact that the Turkish side made that statement right on the eve of April 24.
"Le Monde" noted that Babacan's initiative was not a novelty and reminded of Prime Minister Erdogan's proposal to establish a joint Armenian-Turkish commission for studying the 1915 events. Then the newspaper continues, "At that time Turkey offered Armenia two preconditions for starting dialogue.
Armenia was supposed to stop agitating foreign states to adopt the Genocide and to return to Azerbaijan the occupied territories adjacent to Karabakh. No information is available, whether the last message of Babacan contained any preconditions or no. Armenia in its turn never offered turkey any preconditions."
And finally the French newspaper concluded, "One day after the presidential elections in Armenia President of Turkey Abdullah Gul surprised all the international observers by being among the first to congratulate Serge Sarkisian".
Turkish-Americans Taking Steps To Build Their Influence In Washington
Eurasia Insight, Joshua Kucera: 4/25/08
Turkish-American groups are making a bid to expand their political influence in the United States, expressly aiming to counter the considerable sway of their Armenian American rivals on Capitol Hill.
The coordinated effort includes strengthening Turkish-American grassroots organizations, improving relations with elected officials and the media and legal defense of those who advocate pro-Turkey positions. Representatives of several Turkish groups described the long-term strategy at the American Turkish Council’s Conference on U.S. Turkish Relations, at an April 14 session called “Empowering the Turkish-American Community.”
The representatives repeatedly stressed their intention to put forth a positive vision of Turkey, rather than in taking adversarial positions. But the effort is geared toward advancing the Turkish interpretation of the 1915 massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Armenians and most historians call genocide but which Turks call regrettable deaths in a messy war. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
“Our cause is not anti-Armenian, or anti-Greek, anti-Bulgarian or anti-Arab. It’s to try to create a balance on issues that impact Turkey, Greece, Armenia and other countries in the Caucasus and Middle East,” said Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America.
The goal, said Nurten Ural, president of the Assembly of Turkish American Organizations, is to strengthen the Turkish position ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1915 events.
The issue of the Armenian genocide comes up every year before Congress, as pro-Armenia members of Congress try to pass a resolution officially recognizing the genocide. But while Armenians rely on their large and well-organized diaspora in the United States to advance their agenda, Turks have relied on high-priced lobbyists hired by Ankara, and on the Pentagon, which maintains a longtime military alliance with Turkey.
Turks in America are significantly outnumbered by Armenians: according to Kaya Boztepe, president of the Federation of Turkish American Associations, there are 1.5 million Armenian-Americans and about 450,000 Turkish-Americans. But there are also 450,000 Azerbaijani-Americans and 935,000 Americans of Azeri Iranian descent, along with smaller numbers of related groups like Uzbeks and Tatars, he said.
“Sometimes people say ‘there are so many people fighting against us.’ There are 1.5 million Armenians, mostly in California. But less than half are really dedicated, less than half of that really follow up and only 50,000 of them make donations,” he said.
The presence of several veterans of pro-Turkey lobbying, however, suggests that at least so far the effort is somewhat more top-down than grassroots. McCurdy, a former US diplomat, is the former president and CEO of the American-Turkish Council, a group of heavyweight US and Turkish government and business leaders. Lydia Borland, who is helping the Turkish-American groups improve their relations with members of Congress, is currently on the council’s executive committee, and was until last year a registered lobbyist for the Turkish-US Business Council, according to Senate records.
“The biggest bar for Turkish Americans is the belief that they can’t make a difference,” Borland said at the conference.
The Assembly of Turkish American Associations is holding seminars across the country for Turkish-Americans to learn about how to make their case to politicians, the media and the public. So far, the assembly has held 19 seminars and is planning 11 more.
The goal is to foster a “Turkish-American community who is confident in themselves, assertive in public education and advocacy and comfortable with confrontation,” said Nurten Ural, the assembly’s president.
The last 18 months have seen the formation of the first two Turkish-American political action committees, which raise money for pro-Turkey politicians. Since January of 2007 the two committees – Turkish Coalition USA PAC and Turkish-American Heritage PAC – have raised $660,000 for congressional candidates, said McCurdy, who is also the treasurer of Turkish Coalition USA PAC.
The groups are also trying to get a Turkish-American elected to Congress. “We have to get a Turk in Congress – actually two, a Democrat and a Republican,” McCurdy said. “I’m confident we’re going to see that in two years.”
In the meantime, Turkish groups have managed to increase the numbers in the Congressional Turkish Caucus; the caucus now numbers 77 members, having added 15 members just since the 2006 elections.
Turkish lobbying groups have specifically targeted black members of Congress. Twelve members of the Congressional Black Caucus are also in the Turkish Caucus, according to Lydia Borland.
Turkish groups are also looking to form alliances with other ethnic groups in the United States, in particular Bosnian Muslims, Macedonians and Albanians. “We believe there is a special bond to be created with communities with which Turkey shares a historical relationship and a cultural affinity,” said Guler Koknar, vice president of the Turkish Coalition of America, which provides scholarships targeted to university students in each of those groups to study abroad in Turkey.
The TCA is also targeting scholarships to U.S. minorities. It provides a $2,000 travel grant for any African-American college student who wants to study in Turkey. “This is the most underprivileged, underrepresented groups of study abroad students, and we think it’s a shame that it is so. As you know, the African-American community is on the rise, its place in this society is growing by leaps and bounds and its effectiveness, too,” Koknar said. That program has been so successful that it is being expanded to include Hispanic Americans and Native Americans, Koknar said.
Editor’s Note: Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
Campaign Urging Ankara To Acknowledge Armenian Genocide Starts In France
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe amid 100 thousand of French paid a homage to the Armenian Genocide victims and reaffirmed his urge for Turkey’s acknowledgement, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net
For this exceptional occasion, three Genocide survivors, respectively 94, 100 and 103 years old were invited to take part in the event.
Turkish journalist Ali Ertem (currently residing in Germany) was also resent at the site. Decrying Turkey for its negationism, he announced start of a campaign calling on French Turks to urge Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The same initiative in Germany gathered more than 15 000 signatures, according to him.
Alexis Govcyian, chairman of the Coordination Council of the Armenian Organizations of France, for its part, challenged the Turkish government by inviting it to recognize immediately and "to assume all consequences of the Genocide".
But, on this painful day for all Armenians throughout the globe, Turkish hackers once again wanted to point out their virulent hatred by pirating the imprescriptible.com web site. Curiously, their inscription refers to the Kurdish PKK.
It says, "Pkk/kadek/hpg is the world’s most bloody and brutal terrorism group. They killed approximately 35.000 innocent people without any cruel till now. All the nations and states must know which are supporting these bloody and brutal terrorism groups, supporting terrorism will brings suffer and death. We are always be a side of peace but we have always some words to say these terrorists "which" wants to separate us and kill innocent people."
On April 27, an initiative of Collectif VAN (Armenian Vigilance against the negationism) will pay homage to the victims of Genocides of Armenians, Jews, Tutsi and that of Darfur. This demonstration will be organized in front of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris with a slogan "The Genocides look at you."
EAFJD: EU Denies Armenian Genocide To Please Turkey
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The European Armenian Federation issued a petition on the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide to be sent to the European Union.
The petition says,
“Would you accept the EU to support Genocide denial?
No, of course. And would you accept the funding of an ultranationalist State? No again, obviously.
However, for now more than ten years, the European Union regularly denies, grossly negates or fails to deal justly with the Armenian Genocide.
It makes it in your name, without your consent and it is thus conniving against the will of EU citizens with the worst of crimes against Humanity.
It makes it to please Turkey and to ease the stubborn accession process of this country despite the lucid opposition of Europeans.
Yet, Turkey is a racist, militaristic and xenophobic State where superiority of the Turkish “race” is taught, where ethnic and cultural diversity is repressed and where the heritage of minorities is destroyed. This very same Turkey committed the Armenian Genocide, keeps on denying it and is absolutely failing to comply with the European values.
Because of the nature of this absolute crime, because of its 1 500 000 victims and because of the pledges for protection and reparation made by Europe to the survivors – the Union would have to demand to Turkey the recognition of this Genocide in the framework of the accession process.
However, facing the intransigence of Turkish diplomacy, it is far easier to cover it, to cover its denial – as well as the other breaches of Turkey to Human Rights.
As it fails to compel Turkey to its values, the Union actively attempts to “counteract the negative perceptions of the Turkish EU-accession process that exists in certain segments of public opinion”: On this year, as on the former ones, 40 to 60 million Euros from our taxes will grant a program of “dialog between European and Turkish civil societies” intending to turn acceptable the unacceptable. This amount is part of the half billion Euros granted yearly by the Commission to Turkey’s criminal regime.
On this Thursday 24 April 2008, we commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This commemoration gives us the opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity with the victims of all genocides: the Armenians, the Jews, the Tutsi and now, sadly, the Darfuri; as Genocides performed today stem from the same ideology that currently denies the first Genocide. As denying the Armenian Genocide also allows to hush present mass crimes.
If, as us, you believe that genocide is both a severe moral failure and an actual political threat;
if, as us, you don’t accept to be made an accomplice of such a policy which ruins European values;
then please sign up to this petition that will be forwarded to the European Union.”
Turkey's Genocide Dilemma by Jasper Mortimer
April 24, 2008
[Ankara, Turkey] History surrounds the newly refurbished park where old men sit and smoke and stray dogs bark on the slopes beneath Ankara Castle. There are the massive medieval walls of the citadel, the Museum of Anatolian Civilization at the park’s southern end, and across the valley stands a column erected by the Romans in the fourth century.
But there is nothing in Hisar Park that reveals its own history, what happened there before it became a park.
Photographs of the area taken in the early 1900s, such as those published in Ankara Magazine in November 2005, show a densely built district called Hisaronu, which means “in front of the castle.”
The houses were posh – three stories high with balconies and flagpoles – and the men in the street were smartly dressed in black coats and fezzes. After all, Hisaronu was home to the city’s mohair merchants, doctors and lawyers. It was also known as the Armenian Quarter.
Two events destroyed Hisaronu in the decade 1910–1920. The first came in 1915 when the Ottoman authorities applied the policy of “deporting” Armenians to remote parts of the empire. But this did not empty the district, as Greeks and Muslims lived there as well. Then in 1917 an accidental fire sped through the wooden-clad buildings of Hisaronu and razed it.
Curiously, Hisaronu’s inhabitants never rebuilt their homes. Many of them had second homes, with gardens, on the outskirts of the city, and they may have lived there in the hard times that followed World War One. The Greek residents may have left Turkey in the exchange of populations that accompanied the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.
But what became of the Armenians?
The census of 1914 said there were 11,646 Armenians in Ankara, but the census of 1927 recorded only 705; “so we can conclude that more than 10,000 Armenians were forced to leave Ankara in 1915,” Ankara magazine quoted the historian Akin Atauz as writing.
Thursday (April 24) is the 93rd anniversary of what is regarded as the start of the crackdown on the Armenians. On the night of 24 April, 1915 police arrested 235 leading members of the Armenian community in Istanbul, then the capital of the Ottoman empire.
During the next seven years up to 1.5 million Armenians died, either through massacres or deprivation in forced marches, according to Armenians. Turkey denies this, saying that 300,000 Armenians died in civil strife that emerged after Armenians in eastern Anatolia sided with invading Russian troops.
But there was no local strife or collusion with the enemy to justify the deportation of Armenians in Ankara and Istanbul. And it is the persistence of such questions, or the failure to answer them, that burdens Turkey like a ball and chain.
Last year Ankara had to exert all its diplomatic and military weight to stop the U.S. Congress from passing a resolution that declared 1915–1922 to be genocide. Ultimately Turkey succeeded, but everyone knows the resolution will return after the U.S. electoral season. Democrat candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have pledged to support a genocide resolution should either become president (Republican candidate John McCain has not).
Inside Turkey Armenian-related events continue to unfold and embarrass thinking Turks. Last month the little-known eastern town of Askale, , hit the front pages when its municipality staged a re-enactment of a massacre committed by Armenian militants in 1918. Mainstream newspapers condemned it as “shocking” and a “disgrace,” arguing that such plays would encourage children to emulate the teenagers who killed an Italian priest in Trabzon in 2006 and the Armenian editor Hrant Dink last year.
The two trials of those allegedly involved in Dink’s murder have revealed a series of blunders, and worse. Officials in the security services were pre-warned of the plot to kill Dink but took no action and, in two cases, forged documents after his death to cover their negligence. The suspicion is that the state was careless of Dink’s life because it despised him for challenging the official line on 1915–1922.
Turkey has to re-address 1915–1922. As former diplomat Mehmet Ogutcu wrote in the Turkish press last year: “We do not want the Armenian question to top our national and international agenda as it impairs Turkey (from) becoming an effective regional power and opens Turkey to the whims of international pressure.”
The question is how to revisit the issue. Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan, whose penchant for problem solving has led his government to break ground on many fronts, surprised many Turks when he invited Armenia to set up a joint commission of historians that would delve into the Ottoman archives and report on what happened to the Armenians.
Turks were dismayed when Armenia did not seize this offer. Instead the Yerevan government replied it wanted Turkey to establish diplomatic relations, and then such a commission would be one of several items on the bilateral agenda. Ankara-Yerevan ties have been stalled for years by the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave that has declared itself independent of Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey.
Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkey’s equivalent of Walter Cronkite, has proposed that Turkey invite a third country, such as a Britain, to chair a commission of Armenian and Turkish historians to look into the issue. Birand, who does not believe genocide occurred, made his suggestion in a column, which stressed that while Turkey won last year’s battle in Congress, it may not win the next.
Gerard Libaridian, a former adviser to the Armenian president, now teaching Armenian history at Michigan University, told this correspondent that while a joint commission was worth pursuing, it would be difficult to create. He predicts a lot of argument over the appointment of commissioners, terms of reference and the evaluation of evidence.
Moreover, Libaridian adds, the commission’s findings would create a political problem for at least one of the governments that appointed it.
“Accepting a commission that will make a determination means that you are open to the possibility that it wasn’t genocide, just as Turkey might be open to the possibility that it was,” he says.
Even if such hurdles could be cleared, it is doubtful how influential the commission’s finding would be. Turks and Armenians have been weaned on inflexible views of 1915–1922.
“It’s impossible to get Turks to admit that their forefathers were committers of genocide. It’s a very strong accusation,” Tayyibe Gulek, a politician and deputy chairwoman of the Democratic Left Party, said in an interview.
For Gulek, the way forward is “to have historians look at the archives,” and she is utterly confident these will vindicate Turkey.
The Turkish Armenian talk-show host Hayko Bagdat says there is something to be said for a Turk who cannot admit the possibility of genocide: “That he takes this line shows he has moral values.”
The views of Hayko, as he was known to listeners of the Istanbul radio station Yasam, conflict with those of U.S. Armenians, who see people such as Gulek as proof that Turkey has not changed since 1915. In fact, the 60,000 Armenians in Turkey and the 1 million Armenians in America have very different ideas on how to push Turkey to change on 1915–1922.
U.S. Armenians seek a Congressional acknowledgement of genocide, which would add the United States to the list of 19 countries whose parliaments have passed such declarations. They see such resolutions as due recognition of a massive injustice, and they believe ultimately these motions will produce change in Ankara.
But that is not all that is going on. The U.S. Armenian Libaridian has said the demand for “genocide recognition” has become a rallying cry, “a principle of community organization,” for diaspora Armenians.
American Armenians need “April 24” as a means of retaining their identity and values in a foreign country, Hayko says.
“There is a unity built on common pain, hatred and reaction. But that isn’t present among Armenians of Turkey because we haven’t left our land, and we kept our identity,” says Hayko, whose talk show Unkept Promises focused on Turkish Armenian issues.
What Hayko wants to see is not Congressional resolutions, or even recognition by Ankara. He wants a change of heart by people in the street.
“It would not satisfy me if (Prime Minister) Erdogan were to say, ‘I’ve been thinking about 1915–1922 – so many Armenians were killed,’” Hayko says. “This would not change my daily life.
“What I would like is for Turkish people to empathize with what happened then. That would make me more confident about the future for my child in Turkey.”
Leading the way to such a change, he adds, were the 100,000 Turks who walked behind Dink’s hearse in his January 2007 funeral, the like of which the country had never seen before for an Armenian.
Etyen Mahcupyan, who replaced Dink as chief of Agos newspaper, also argues against resolutions in foreign parliaments, saying that Turks must change their views for “moral reasons” and not because of external pressure.
Hayko and Mahcupyan seek the slower route to change, that which comes about through the gradual accumulation of evidence and opinion, in private as well as public debate.
And it is not only Turkish conservatives who must take part in this opening up. There are Armenians in Turkey who have closed the door.
A case in point is Sultan Onkun, a member of Ankara’s small Armenian community whom this correspondent met at the French Consulate church in Ulus, which now functions as the only Armenian church in the city.
“My attitude is that 1915–1922 is past and no good can come from digging into it,” says Onkun, a mother in her mid-forties, who manages a store selling top quality cutlery and crockery. Her great grandfather served in the Ottoman army during World War One, and her relatives never told her that Armenians were singled out, let alone massacred.
Onkun criticizes the controversial 2005 conference in Istanbul in which liberal and conservative Turks debated whether genocide occurred.
“Instead of spending time on this sort of thing,” Onkun says, “people should look forward and think about how to maintain the unity of Turkey. People should focus on maintaining that unity rather than digging up the past and disturbing things.”
While Onkun has chosen to assimilate the mainstream of Turkish thinking, other Turks are trying to change that thinking. Two examples deserve mention.
The writer Elif Shafak created a stir in 2006 when she published The Bastard of Istanbul, a novel that deals with an Armenian woman whose family members were massacred in 1915–1922. Educated abroad, Shafak first encountered the Armenian issue when she read about the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, a terrorist group that was targetting people such as her mother, a Turkish diplomat.
Turks are discussing 1915–1922 as never before, Shafak said in an interview with the Boston-based Armenian journalist Khatchig Mouradian: “The problem is that the bigger the change, the deeper the panic of those who want to preserve the status quo.”
Another trailblazer is Taner Akcam, one of a handful of Turkish academics, who have courageously said that the evidence remaining of the events of 1915–1922 shows Armenians were systematically killed.
His 2006 book A Shameful Act takes its title from a remark by the legendary Turkish leader Ataturk about the killings of 1915-22. Drawing heavily from Ottoman, German and Austrian archives, Akcam tells the story of Mazhar Bey, the governor of Ankara province who was sacked for resisting the orders about the Armenians.
“One day Atif Bey came to me and orally conveyed the interior minister’s orders that the Armenians were to be murdered during the deportation,” Mazhar testified at a post-WW1 trial. “’No, Atif Bey,’ I said, ‘I am a governor, not a bandit, I cannot do this.’’’
Akcam, who teaches at the University of Minnesota, has been castigated in the mainstream Turkish press and has received death threats by email. But his book is freely available in mainstream bookshops in Istanbul and Ankara.
Twenty-five years ago Akcam’s book would have been banned, and a coffee-table publication such as Ankara Magazine would not have delved into the city’s Armenian history. We still do not know what happened to the Armenians who lived where Hisar Parki stands today, but Turkey is moving down the right road.
Copyright © 2008 The Media Line www.themedialine.org
“Atlas of Shame” On Tortures In Modern Turkey Published
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish Human Rights Association has prepared “Atlas of shame”, a book of torture with studies by nine professors and doctors. The study took five years and photos of more than 10 thousand people who were tortured were scanned.
Torture atlas prepared by Turkish Human Rights Association revealed that one million people have been tortured since September 12, 1980.
Turkish Human Rights Association revealed that more than one million people have been tortured since the military coup in 1980. Scientists have carried out studies for five years and have proven the embarrassing methods of torture with the torture atlas of 236 pages. The book tells about torture methods, torture diagnosis and way of examination with photos and drawings, Sabah newspaper reports.
Turkish-Jewish Businessman: “Turkey Lost When Jewish, Armenian Businessmen Were Chased Away And Made To Leave The Country”
In a letter to the chief editor of Turkish daily Referans, owner of Alarko Holding Izak Alaton reacted to a recent high court decision in Turkey that banned the sale of real estate to foreigners. Alaton wrote about how in 1940s Armenian and Jewish businessmen were chased and compelled to leave the country - at Turkey's loss - and more recently how willing investors for big development projects in Turkey were rejected just because they were Jewish – as in the case of the Israeli businessman Sammy Ofer who would invest one billion dollars to develop a port in Istanbul. Alaton said that the bureaucracy and the media had joined forces to stop the project.
In his letter that is published at Referans, Alaton wrote, “As long as this paranoia, this xenophobic, anti non-Muslim, antisemitic sentiments will continue to exist in Turkey, we will all be obliged to live in mediocrity, stuck in the sidelines of life.”
Source: Referans, Vatan, Turkey, April 23, 2008
My Dream For Turkey, By Boris’s Great-Grandfather
Norman Stone, 23rd April 2008
Norman Stone on the dramatic life and death of Ali Kemal, one-time interior minister of Turkey and our mayoral candidate’s forebear
Boris Johnson is one eighth Turkish. His great-grandfather (there is, if you abstract the fez and the moustache, a family resemblance) was a well-known writer, Ali Kemal (1868–1922) who came, because of his politics, to a tragic end. He knew England very well, and when the British occupied Constantinople for four years at the end of the first world war, he collaborated with them. They had left the Sultan on his throne, and there was a puppet government which controlled a few back-streets. Poor Ali Kemal made the awful mistake of becoming its minister of the interior for some three months. As happens with collaborationist regimes, he quarrelled with his colleagues (there is a very funny scene of this sort, about Vichy France, in Céline’s D’un château l’autre, where Alphonse de Châteaubriant ends up throwing the crockery). Then he spent his time on journalism, and taught at the university: he knew a great deal about literature. But a nationalist resistance built up in the interior (based on Ankara) and when, late in 1922, it triumphed, Ali Kemal did not leave.
It was crazy: the Sultan himself was smuggled out in a British ambulance to Malta, and the Ottoman dynasty was thrown to the four winds. History does not reveal the reasons for Ali Kemal’s staying. At any rate he was picked up, while being shaved at the Grand Cercle d’Orient in the European city — it was the Levantines’ club, and only Turks of a high rank were admitted — and put on a train for trial in Ankara. His captor, Nurettin Pasha, had lost his two sons in the war, and had gone a little mad. Somehow, he allowed a mob to take Ali Kemal off the train at Izmit, the old Nicomedia, and they lynched him. The episode is written up in Louis de Bernières’s Birds Without Wings.
That book is a homage to the Turkey that might have been, with Greeks and Armenians taking their place. Ali Kemal thought that that should have happened. That was why he supported the British, in whom he put his faith. But at the time Lloyd George was really after the partition of Turkey: Greater Greece, Greater Armenia, even an Anglo-Kurdistan, with bits and pieces for the French and the Italians. There would have been a rump Turkey, run by a puppet Sultan. Ali Kemal was the puppet of a puppet. Everyone, including himself, let him down. The story ends, none the less, with some uplift. He had had two wives, one British — hence the Boris connection — and, after her death from childbirth, one Turkish. Boris (and his father, Stanley Johnson) has done him proud. On the Turkish side, there was a boy, Zeki Kuneralp, who was very bright and needed a state scholarship. Kemal Atatürk, the chief target of Ali Kemal’s journalistic attacks, was by then the Turkish equivalent of de Gaulle. He said: give that boy the money. Zeki’s son is now a chief negotiator on the subject Turkey-in-Europe. Another son is a leading publisher.
Curiously enough, Ali Kemal wrote a book, predicting what would happen to his progeny. It is called Fetret, meaning ‘interregnum’, and the word itself has some significance. In 1402, the first Turkish (or, more accurately, Ottoman: ‘Turk’ until the 20th century was a word used by foreigners) state was overthrown by Tamerlane, and for three decades there was in effect a war of succession, between men who identified with the east and men who identified with the west; that war, in various forms, has gone on to this day. You could have used that word to describe the Ottoman empire of the later 19th century and this is reflected in the architecture. The Sultans had given up the old Topkapi Palace, and moved to the Dolmabahce Palace on the Bosphorus, over which the spirit of Queen Victoria hovered. Old Stambul had become a museum piece, and even then a chief building in it — now a school — was the Caisse de la Dette Ottomane, the headquarters of foreign money-men who were collecting the debts from charges on the railways or the customs. The heart of town was the European quarter, Pera, with the Cercle d’Orient where Ali Kemal was finally caught. Now, what was a bright young Turk to make of all this?
In 1840, there had been some hope. At the time of the Crimean war, even Karl Marx applied himself to learning Ottoman Turkish, because he thought that ‘the Asiatic Mode of Production’ would adapt to capitalism in a modernising Turkey (or Egypt). But by 1870, the debts had gone up and up, and by 1890 more or less everyone was writing off the Ottoman empire as yet another derelict non-European concern — what was soon to be called ‘the Third World’. Not just the Greeks but now also the Armenians, who had been called ‘the most loyal’ of the Sultan’s Christian subjects, were falling prey to separatist nationalism. Sultan Abdul Hamit reigned for 30 years and reckoned that modernisation could happen, provided politics did not get in the way. He practised a sort of absolutism, but promoted schools to train his officials, whether civilian or military. These schools in effect produced an opposition to him, of young men who spoke good French and who knew something about Europe. Ali Kemal was one of these, dreaming of a liberal and European Turkey. Most of his peers — they can loosely be called ‘Young Turks’ — were meritocrats, often from the southern Balkans, but Ali Kemal was socially a cut above them, the son of the head of a guild, living in quite grand circumstances in a villa above the castle of Rumeli. As such, he must have had some private money, because he spent much of his time abroad, and married an Anglo–Swiss wife, Winifred Brun, in 1903. She died, leaving two children, in 1910, and, when the radical Young Turks were briefly out of power in 1911–12, he went back to Istanbul, marrying again.
Then the Young Turks, led by the formidable and ruthless Enver Pasha, came to power again, and took Turkey into the first world war. Ali Kemal sat it out, disapprovingly, in Bournemouth, and the two English children were brought up by their grandmother in a village near London. Fetret is a book dreaming of the Turkey that his little son will one day see. It is liberal, modelled on England. It has room, and more than room, for Christian minorities, but it is Turkish. It is Muslim, but the Islam is generous and tolerant. It adheres to its own identity, especially linguistic, but the young must learn French, because French literature is far ahead of any other.
Ali Kemal (incidentally a pseudonym: he was originally called ‘Ali Riza’, after one of the very first, tentative, Turkish nationalists) apparently belongs quite high up the tree in Turkish literature. I have to say ‘apparently’ because he wrote in Ottoman Turkish, and that is a very far cry from the modern language: my copy of Fetret has a small dictionary at the back, translating the old (Arabic and Persian) words for today’s readers. When Kemal Atatürk took over, he changed the script, and drastically modernised the language; and in the Sixties it was even mutilated (there is a superb book on this by Geoffrey Lewis, A Catastrophic Success). Turks disagree quite violently as to the language reform: slavish imitation of the West, or Turkey’s ticket to the modern world? Ali Kemal, who read and wrote very widely, was clearly in two minds. He was quite right to disapprove of the Young Turks’ taking Turkey into the first world war. That produced endless disasters, including the loss of a quarter of the population — Turkish, Greek, Armenian and Kurdish.
Ali Kemal hoped that the British would pick up the pieces and realise his ambitions. His timing was quite wrong; and he ought to have gone with the people who joined Kemal Atatürk in the depths of Anatolia. But he was a decent man, living a lonely life as an exiled litterateur, speaking broken English to a small son who must have seen him as a sort of Martian, and dreaming that one day the little boy would see a different Turkey. And lo and behold.
©2007 by The Spectator (1828) Ltd.
Armen Ayvazyan: Refusal From Territorial Claims Without Any Political Dividends Impermissible
Every year facing April 24 Turkish officials make statements in support of normalization of relations with Armenia, which are meant to mislead the outer world and not to allow it to interfere in bilateral relations, Director of the Ararat Center for Strategic Research, PhD in Political Science Armen Ayvazyan told a press conference today. According to him, every year these statements aim at showing that Turkey is engaged in dialogue with Armenia and aim at weakening the pressure of the European countries. However, according to Armen Ayvazyan, pressures from the international community are always ineffective and do not result in positive steps by Turkey.
The issues of Genocide and its consequences were not included in the foreign policy agenda in early 1990s after the country gained independence. From 1998 the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide was put on the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Armenia. According to Armen Ayvazyan, the recognition of the Armenian Genocide should develop from a moral issue into a territorial one from the point of view of Armenia's security. In his opinion, the reference to the issue of territories would create the best opportunity for influencing Turkey. Although the lands will not be returned all at once, the proper opportunity may emerge in years, even decades, since the policy will lead to that earlier or later. It's not permissible to refuse from territorial claims without any political dividends. In his opinion, besides being an issue of security of the people of Nagorno Artsax, the Artsakhi issue is a question of Armenia's security: Syunik would fall without Artsakh and Armenia would not exist without Syunik, while having liberated Artsakh and the territories surrounding it we have created a serious territorial and security guarantee.
Documents on recognition of the Armenian Genocide exist on the level of about twenty international structures, which, however, do not contribute to the sharp issues of Armenia's security, and do not exert any influence on the current state of Armenian-Turkish relations, do not pose the question of responsibility and reimbursement for this greatest crime against humanity.
According to Armen Ayvazyan, the adoption of H. Res. 106 on the Armenian Genocide by the US House of Representatives could create a peaceful situation in the region and suggest opportunities for recognition of the Genocide by Turkey, would improve the psychological aspect of the country's security.
It's Time to Demand Reparations for Genocide, Says Historian
YEREVAN (ArmRadio)--Today we are entering a new stage in the campaign for Genocide Recognition where the Armenian Nation must begin demanding reparations for the crimes committed by Turkey, Director of the History Institute of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Ashot Melkonyan told a press conference on Wednesday.
"We say that Turkey has perpetrated Genocide, the world recognizes it and we are satisfied," Melkonyan said. "What do we want after this? We want that the guilt of the criminal is recognized in the court."
"After having made much progress in the international recognition of the Genocide, we must decide what the next step will be," he said.
Melkonyan then went on to provide an overview of the Armenian Cause as it developed from the onset of the Genocide, focusing on the period between 1915 to the present. According to him there have been four stages of historic development for the Armenian people in the context of the genocide.
He explained that the period from 1915 and 1923 can be characterized as one of reaction where the fact of the Armenian Genocide was so real that it found response in distant Uruguay and Argentina. Archive materials from different countries were published in tens of languages and it was an issue in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.
According to the historian, the year 1923 marked the start of a long period of denial, which was a dreadful stage, when the wound was fresh, and the world was indifferent. It lasted until 1965, after which the Genocide issue was raised both in the Motherland and the Diaspora.
The third stage, he explained, falls between 1965 and 1995 and is characterized as a period of recovery of memory and resumption of activism. Argentine, Cyprus and other countries recognized the Armenian Genocide during this period.
The Final and most important period in this history came about when the Republic of Armenia adopted the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a foreign policy objective, Melkonyan said. During this period, more then ten countries recognized the Genocide.
But the word Western Armenia was not included in the resolutions of those countries, he said.
Today, Armenia is entering a new stage in the history of the Cause for Genocide Recognition, he said, moving from a drive for recognition to reimbursement.
Turkey Makes Strange Demands Of Armenia To Establish Diplomatic Relations
What concerns the normalization of the relations with Armenia, such opportunity is rather doubtful, if only Yerevan doesn’t deny the recognition of the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turks, which is not to be expected.
Turkey has found itself in a rather difficult situation: on the one hand Turkey is already tired of waiting for 10-15 more years to be integrated into the EU; on the other hand, this idea seems too tempting to give it up. The demands of the EU after all are no fancy but necessity for the Turkish officials. As it has already been said more than once, Turkey must prove by its actions and not by words that the country has chosen the democratic way of development.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ According to the European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, now Turkey is suffering the most crucial moment in the entire negotiation process, “however, if it continues actively carrying out European reforms, the country may be integrated into the EU in 10 years. We are waiting for the time when there will be freedom of speech for each person, and protection of the rights of women and minorities. Active efforts should be made for this. We shouldn’t hope that these and alike problems will ever be solved on their own,” announced Rehn.
The vice-chairman of the Bavarian Christian-Social Union and the representative of the European Parliament Ingo Friedrich spoke of the third possible way for the non-EU member countries. Likewise the Union for the Mediterranean, an East European Union may be established. According to him, Ukraine, Moldova and the countries of South Caucasus could be included in such a union. “At present the EU has exhausted all the possibilities of expanding, but leaving the European countries without prospective would be unfair,” says Friedrich. The idea of establishing a Union for the Mediterranean has been first spoken of in March. Besides the EU member countries, a number of countries of the Mediterranean region will be included in it. Turkey, Libya, Lebanon, and Israel are among these countries. Regular conferences in the sphere of energy, migration, terrorism and trade are planned to be held. The Union will be officially declared about in July.
What concerns the normalization of the relations with Armenia, such opportunity is rather doubtful, if only Yerevan doesn’t deny the recognition of the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turks, which is not to be expected. “The position of the Armenian side towards the dialogue with Turkey is still unclear, in spite of Ankara’s calls to the start of a new era in the two-sided relations between the two neighboring countries, which presently do not have any diplomatic relations,” writes Turkish Daily news in its article “Armenia is indifferent to the Turkish calls for dialogue.” The author of the article mentions that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Ali Babacan congratulated the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia on his appointment. “Turkey is open to dialogue, and to the normalization of the Turkish-Armenian relations. There are no doubts that the relations of the two countries are not very healthy, but this can be solved via dialogue. We are open to it,” said Babacan during a joint press-conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria Ursula Plassnik. Earlier the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan announced: “Regarding our relations with Turkey, we have announced more than once that we are ready for normalization of the relations without any precedent conditions. The Genocide is a black page in our history, and we must work together and turn this page and build our stable future. I would like to repeat that Armenia is ready for the normalization of its relations with Turkey without precedent conditions. Armenia will continue working towards this.”
Turkish Daily News also quotes the words of an Armenian diplomat, who had preferred to remain anonymous, and who said that the calls for the dialogue must not be only in words, but in actions. “We are waiting for some actions,” had said the Armenian diplomat, and then added, that Armenia keeps to its viewpoint regarding the normalization of the relations and opening the Armenian-Turkish borders without precedent conditions. “This is only one of the key factors. This is nonsense, when a country, being a candidate for the EU membership, keeps the borders with its neighbor closed,” he said.
The newly elected president of Armenia Serge Sargsyan also mentioned that the recognition of the Genocide by Ankara is extremely important for Yerevan, but its denial shouldn’t be a barrier in the relationship of the two countries. “We have always said and will say that Armenia is ready and willing to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any precedent conditions. It is Turkey, that sets rather strange demands to Armenia for establishing diplomatic relations,” he said.
Meanwhile on April 21 the Committee for International Issues of the European Parliament held hearings on the traditional report about the “progress” in Turkey. The members of the Committee reviewed the project of the Resolution of the Dutch parliamentarian, as well as the 262 amendments in the document. The current document is not as laconic, as the one from last year, which was a gesture of a good will to the new government of Turkey, yet it is far from the expectations the Europeans have, since it reminds of the serious violations by the Turks. Like in the section “international relations”, the project of the Resolution calls the Turkish government on abolishing the economic blockade and opening the borders with Armenia, but refrains from blaming Turkey. As for the issue of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the author avoids using the term “Genocide” and limits himself with ‘the call to the Turkish and Armenian governments on starting the process of coming to an agreement over the present and past problems and the initiations of the debates of the historical events.” “This wording definitely belongs to Ankara. The denial of reminding the Genocide means denying the Genocide itself,” said the president of the Armenian Federation of Europe Hilda Choboyan. The EAFJD reminds that the position of the European Parliament, confirmed in 1987 and 2005, presupposes the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a precondition for Turkey to be integrated into the EU. Meanwhile, Ankara has never reached any success in this issue, and any indulgence is interpreted by Turkey as a free way to carry on the policy of denial not only in Turkey, but in Europe as well. The 6 out of the 262 amendments have immediate connection to the Armenian case, in particular, to the problem of the Armenian Genocide.
Union Of Martyr Nations Formed In Yerevan
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Union of Martyr Nations bringing together organizations of nations, which were subjected to genocide in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries, was founded in Yerevan today.
Union co-chairman Avetis Kalayjian said the purpose of the formation is to struggle for recognition of genocides of nations which once inhabited the Ottoman Empire.
“Our joint work will produce more effect. Initially, the union will include Assyrian, Greek, Kurd, Yezid and Armenian organizations dealing with the Armenian Genocide recognition issue. In outlook, we plan cooperation with local and foreign organizations,” he said. “One of the Union’s goals is informing of the international community of the genocides at the hands of Turks, who mislead the whole world by publishing numerous books and organizing exhibitions. We must spare no effort to prevent circulation of lies.”
“We must inform the international community of Turkey’s crimes to prevent their repetition in future,” said chairman of the Yerevan Greek Union Frunzik Nikolaidi, Novosti Armenia reports.
A Turkey-Armenia Reconciliation?
Not quite, but recent niceties stir faint hope.
April 25, 2008
History can comfort or afflict us, and affliction was the order of the day Thursday as Armenians around the world commemorating the genocide of their people by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 were met by Turks protesting that the genocide never took place.
The argument over remembrance and denial of the Armenian genocide has in recent years moved from France to the U.S. Congress and now to Israel, which faces its own moral and political dilemmas in deciding whether to debate the issue in the Knesset. Turkey is strongly lobbying to prevent such a debate. Like the United States, Israel is now torn between its commitment to confront genocide deniers of all kinds and its geopolitical interest in maintaining relations with its only Muslim ally.
It's a lose-lose proposition for any nation involved in the dispute, and for the millions of Turks and Armenians alive today who will have to continue to live next to each other. It's a winner, however, for Russia, which has been competing with the United States for influence in Armenia and which has leverage over the former Soviet republic's economy.
Given their rock-hard positions, there is little chance that the genocide issue will soon be resolved to the satisfaction of either side, but there is, for the first time, a faint hope for a thaw in relations between modern Turkey and Armenia. In Yerevan, President Serge Sargsyan took office this month after a deeply flawed election in which he promised to improve ties with Ankara. And although the two countries have no diplomatic relations, Turkish President Abdullah Gul was among the first to congratulate him -- and to express his desire to normalize relations.
These meager niceties between longtime foes should be extended. Turkey's offer to create a panel of historians to investigate the atrocities of 1915 remains objectionable as long as it continues to deny that the slaughter of Armenians constituted genocide. Still, there are areas for cooperation. Turkey could temporarily reopen its closed frontier with Armenia -- with the caveat that it could shut the border again if relations sour.
A friendly, democratic government in Ankara could help Yerevan rebuild its frayed ties with the West, improve its economy and, eventually, negotiate peace with Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Demonstrating the political maturity to pursue rapprochement with Armenia could bring Turkey closer to its goal of joining the European Union. History need not be destiny.
Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times
PKK Militants Fleeing To Armenia, Four Killed
New Anatolian, April 20 2008, Turkey
Turkish forces in northeastern Anatolian continued to hunt down PKK militants on Sunday and in clashes killed four militants and lost one soldier, military sources reported.
This time the clashes were carried to the northeastern border area of Kars where the PKK militants are said to be fleeing to Armenia.
Another Turkish soldier was wounded during the clashes in Kars. Operations are under way in the region, it added.
Turkey and most of the international community, including the EU and the U.S., consider the PKK a terrorist organization. Turkey launched a major eight-day ground incursion against the PKK in February, sending thousands of troops into Iraq.
Turkish FM Invites Armenia For Renewed Dialogue
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told a news conference on Monday he has sent a letter to Yerevan calling for dialogue with Armenia and saying Turkey wanted to normalize ties between the two countries.
Babacan said on Monday Turkey desires to normalize its relations with Armenia and is keeping channels of dialogue open with the new Armenian government.
"Turkey wants to see peace, stability, security and prosperity in its region, but as you know our relations with Armenia do not fit into that formula. We have problems, and the only way to solve these problems is through dialogue. Our doors are open to dialogue in the new period ahead," Babacan said, when he was asked about Turkey-Armenia relations during a news conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.
Turkey closed its border with ex-Soviet, Armenia in 1993 during a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan - a Muslim ally of Ankara. The move hurt the economy of tiny, landlocked country, sandwiched between Turkey and Azerbaijan in the region.
As the result of Armenia's February general election, Serge Sarkisian, a former prime minister, was sworn in earlier this month as the country's third president since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey categorically rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when the Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Turkey Seeks Dialogue With New Armenian Gov't
By The Associated Press
ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's foreign minister said Monday he is seeking a dialogue with the new government in Armenia to try to normalize ties between two neighbours who have no diplomatic relations.
Ali Babacan told reporters he had written to his Armenian counterpart saying that Turkey "is open to dialogue with the aim of normalizing Turkish-Armenian ties in the new era."
A historical dispute has prevented the two from having diplomatic relations.
Armenia says the Turks killed up to 1.5 million Armenians around the time of the First World War, toward the end of the Ottoman Empire, in what should be labelled genocide. Turkey says the killings occurred at a time of civil conflict and that the casualty figures are inflated.
Turkey also closed its border with Armenia in 1993 during a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan - a Muslim ally of Ankara. The move hurt the economy of tiny, landlocked Armenia.
"Admittedly we have problems, some of which date back 100 years," Babacan said, when he was asked about Turkey-Armenia relations during a news conference with the visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.
"But the only way of overcoming these problems is through dialogue. Our doors are open to dialogue in this new period," Babacan said.
Following Armenia's February election, Serge Sarkisian, a former prime minister, was sworn earlier this month as the country's third president since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Secretary Of State Takes Upbeat Line On Karabakh Peace Armenian Reporter
"I am very much of the view that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is one that could be resolved, and actually, with just a little bit of will, could be resolved relatively quickly," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on April 15, appearing to contradict her own assessment a month ago.
In congressional testimony on March 12, Dr. Rice acknowledged, "in the immediate future I don't know that Nagorno-Karabakh can get solved."
But in response to a question from the American Turkish Council (ATC) conference audience this week, Dr. Rice said that the Karabakh peace agreement "is just going to take taking a couple of difficult decisions and getting an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh."
The question came following Dr. Rice's address at the ATC's 27th annual conference, held in Washington, in which she touted the importance of U.S.-Turkish relations, compared Kemal Atatürk to Thomas Jefferson, and sought to avoid commenting on the dominant issue of the day in Turkey: the secular-military establishment's effort to ban the ruling party through a constitutional court ruling.
Dr. Rice promised continued U.S. assistance to Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebel forces and encouraged the lifting of Turkish penal code provisions that "criminalizes insulting 'Turkishness.'"
ATC, which is funded primarily by major U.S. weapon systems manufacturers with contracts in Turkey, is a central element of the Turkish lobby in the United States. It is chaired by retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor to former President Bush and onetime superior of Condoleezza Rice. Turkish government delegates at the three-day conference included state minister Kursat Tuzmen and defense minister Vecdi Gonul. (For more information, see www.the-atc.org.)
Ten Years Of Foreign Policy, Security Under Robert Kocharian, by Tatul Hakobyan - Armenian Reporter
YEREVAN -- In order to evaluate President Robert Kocharian's foreign policy during the ten years of his presidency, it is necessary to take a look at the political map of the region. Armenia's border with its neighbors is about 1,300 km (800 mi) long, of which only 200 kilometers are open. In other words, more than 80 percent of the border -- the Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani -- is under a blockade. Armenia, which is landlocked, has only two outlets to the outside world: Iran, which is situated in the south has serious problems with the West, and Georgia to the north, which in its turn has been under a Russian blockade for the past two years.
It is not possible to speak of a full-fledged Armenian foreign policy and the guarantee of the country's security while Turkey continues its hostile policy and keeps the Armenian-Turkish border closed and Azerbaijan continues to blockade Armenia because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. On the other hand, every rational Armenian official or diplomat knows that there is a price to be paid for the blockades to be lifted and that is to make compromises on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. However, not only is our country not willing to pay the price, it does not even have the right to do so.
* Armenia and Russia
Armenian-Russian relations have a very important place in Armenia's foreign policy. Yerevan-Moscow cooperation can be looked at on two planes. Armenia, which is blockaded by hostile neighbors, has no choice other than to hold fast to Russia and even link the guarantee of our country's security with it. Since 1992 Armenia is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the backbone of which is Russia. Apart from that, the last Russian military base in the Southern Caucasus is situated in Gyumri and the Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Iranian borders are defended by the joint efforts of Armenian and Russian peacekeepers.
This situation began after Armenia declared its independence and is not Robert Kocharian's legacy. However, during the past 10 years, Armenia's dependence on Russia has intensified, this time even in the political and economic fields. In particular, about 80 percent of our country's energy system is under the supervision or being administered by Russians. Today Armenia receives only Russian gas; the nuclear power plant in Metsamor is administered by Russians; nuclear fuel is imported from Russia and they have also bought our country's energy giants: Hrazadan's thermo-electric power station's fifth block; the Sevan-Hrazdan cascade, and the Armenian section of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline.
* Armenia and Iran
Political and economical relations between Yerevan and Tehran have seem stable development during the past 10 years. Both the previous and present presidents of Iran, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have visited Armenia, and Mr. Kocharian has twice visited the Iran. On March 19, 2007, the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline opened; an agreement on constructing a joint hydroelectric power station on the Araks River has been signed, and currently the two countries are considering the possibility of constructing an oil refinery in Meghri, Armenia.
Iran's relatively neutral stance on the Karabakh issue is highly valued in Yerevan. It is true that during voting in different international organizations, Iran sides on the whole with Azerbaijan. This fact is intentionally ignored in Yerevan. The Armenian authorities did not even publicly complain when during his official visit last year to Armenia, Mr. Ahamadinajad did not visit the Genocide memorial, Tzitzernakabert. By failing to do so, he violated the host country's protocol.
* Armenia and Georgia
No matter how much Armenian-Georgian relations are called friendly and dynamically developing, they must be looked at in the context of developments in the region. During Mr. Kocharian's ten years of presidency, Armenia's political and economic isolation increased; along with Turkey and Azerbaijan, Georgia played a small negative role in this reality.
If we criticize the Armenian authorities for Armenia's political and economic isolation, then we must also show the other side of the coin. During the past ten years, some large regional energy-communication projects have been implemented or are still in process: the Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipelines; the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline, and the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway. Official Baku and Ankara have said that Armenia's integration in these regional projects is "welcomed," but they have also set some preconditions: concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In other words, the alternative is serious concessions in the Karabakh issue.
* Armenia and Turkey
In the past ten years, Armenian-Turkish relations have reached an impasse, as Ankara continues to link their developments to a number of preconditions. Over the past few years, Turkey has steadily followed its policy of isolating Armenia. Yerevan is not setting any preconditions to establishing relations with Turkey, including the Armenian Genocide issue, which Mr. Kocharian included in Armenia's foreign policy agenda ten years ago. In the past decade, the parliaments or governments of 13 countries recognized the Armenian Genocide.
For the establishment of Yerevan-Ankara relations, the ball is in Turkey's field. NATO's and the USA's important ally, Turkey, which is geographically perfectly located in the Eurasian region, has moved relations with Armenia to the back burner and only after a country, in particular the United States, recognizes or is about to discuss the Armenian Genocide does Ankara begin to worry and rework the Armenian issue. It is interesting to notice that Ankara prefers getting into a dialogue with third countries for the settlement of the Armenian issue, as does Armenia. In order to open the Armenian-Turkish border and establish Yerevan-Ankara diplomatic relations, the authorities of our country rely more on third parties. However, the third parties exert pressure on Turkey more in their own interests than necessarily in Armenia's. Of course, we must not believe that if we establish direct dialogue with Turkey, progress will be made, but the fact is that Yerevan is not the initiator and has de facto adapted to the current state of Armenian-Turkish relations, which has been imposed by Turkey.
* Armenia and Azerbaijan
Yerevan-Baku relations, which in reality do not exist, have mainly proceeded within the framework of the negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict carried out by the OSCE Minsk Group. Mr. Kocharian met with the presidents of Azerbiajan, Aliyev father and son, more than 30 times; that's much more than he has met with Vladimir Putin.
* Armenia and the U.S.
During the ten years of his presidency, Mr. Kocharian has been to Washington for a NATO summit in 1999, a bilateral visit in 2000, and after the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Key West in 2001. In May 2005, when George Bush came to the Southern Caucasus, he only visited Georgia. For the past two years the United States does not even have an ambassador in Yerevan, because of the Armenian Genocide issue. Regardless of all this, Armenian-American relations have seriously progressed during the past ten years and had the March 2008 events not happened, the relations could have been evaluated as completely satisfactory.
On March 27, 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation signed a $235.65 million five-year contract with the Armenian government. The United States also continues to provide foreign aid to Armenia aimed at economic and democratic improvements.
Even though Armenia's role in international peacekeeping efforts is modest, it is very important for Armenian-American relations. For several years now, our county's 34-member battalion is carrying out a peacekeeping mission as part of the Greek battalion in Kosovo; this section of the territory is under U.S. supervision. The United States highly values Armenia's participation in stabilizing the situation in Iraq. For the past three years, Armenia has been sending a rotating 46-member battalion comprised of drivers, sappers, and doctors to Iraq. It is foreseeable that Armenia might become involved in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, which like Kosovo is under NATO's supervision.
* Armenia and Europe
A European and Euro-Atlantic orientation has been one of Armenia's foreign policy priorities for the past ten years. Apart from having high-level relations with the European Union and NATO member states (France, Greece, Italy, and Belgium), Armenia is also a part of the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan. The full implementation of this program, which was signed on November 14, 2006, for five years will create all the necessary conditions for raising relations with the EU to a new, higher level.
Armenia is cooperating with NATO as part of the Individual Partnership Action Plan signed on December 16, 2005. The implementation of this project will bring Armenia closer to NATO's standards.
During Mr. Kocharian's presidency, Armenia also became a member of the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization. During the past decade Yerevan has raised the level of cooperation with important and developing countries such as Japan, China, and India to another level. Mr. Kocharian has visited Tokyo, Beijing, and Delhi.
Taking into consideration Armenia's place and location on the political map, during the past ten years of Mr. Kocharian's governance, a very active foreign policy has been carried out; numerous presidents have visited Yerevan including the presidents of influential countries, such as Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Mohammed Khatami, and Karolos Papoulias, as well as high-ranking secular and spiritual officials such as Pope John Paul II, Javier Solana, and others. However, it appears that Armenia has not yet found its permanent place in the international family.
Armenia is part of Europe geographically and with its system of values. This means that Armenia can become a member of the EU and NATO, if it complies with the standards of those organizations. A country aiming to become a member of the EU and NATO must remain true to the democratic value system, militarily comply with NATO's standards, and economically comply with the EU. Obviously, Armenia cannot hope to become a member country for the next 15-20 years. However, in our case, we have another factor which is more important and primary; does Armenia wish to become a member of NATO and the EU? Armenia has never announced that the objective of further intensification of relations with NATO and the EU is to become a member of those organizations.
Yerevan is running a "complementary" foreign policy, which supposes equivalent relations with strategic ally Russia, the EU, and the United States. This kind of policy is most effective when Russia and Europe, Moscow and Washington have calm relations. When these relations become tense, the policy of complementarity comes under strain.
Armenia is part of the CSTO. None of its neighbors is a member. If Georgia enters NATO, the Armenian-Georgian border will turn into a CSTO-NATO contact line. And so, Georgia's membership in NATO should not be viewed only in the context of Tbilisi-Brussels relations. Once Georgia becomes a NATO member, Armenia will be placed in a very difficult position. In other words, being bordered on one side by NATO member Turkey, with its hostile policy toward our country, future NATO member Georgia on the other side, and by Azerbaijan with its military threats on the third side, Armenia's choices may become more limited.
(c) 2008 Armenian Reporter LLC
Editorial: The Armenian Genocide: Moving Forward Armenian Reporter
Armenians around the world are bound together by many ties: kinship, pride in and love for our shared heritage, concern for each other's well-being and for the homeland, and more. We work together on diverse issues, ranging from building and maintaining schools and churches to investing in Armenia and Karabakh, from caring for Armenian refugees >From Iraq to defending Karabakh from Armenia's neighbor to the east.
The Armenian Genocide -- which we remember this month on the 93rd anniversary of its inception -- is but one part of who we are; a very important part. We often hear calls to "move beyond" the Genocide issue. We understand the sentiment; yes, there is so much more to being Armenian than caring about the Armenian Genocide. But we think the call to "move beyond" misses the point. We are a capable nation, and we can handle more than one issue at a time. We must move forward with the matter of the Genocide.
Maintaining the memory of the Armenian Genocide is part of the Armenian people's unfinished business. The scale of what was destroyed by the Turkish government boggles the mind: well over a million human lives, young and old; families; potential, hopes, and dreams. The maps on pages 12 and 13 show over 3,000 Armenian churches and monasteries and some 2,000 Armenian schools that existed in 1913. What happened in 1915-17 was the destruction of an entire civilization in its ancestral home. What also happened -- and is still happening -- is the erasure of that heritage and its replacement with a fictional narrative of Turkish history.
We, and with us the civilized world, cannot allow our heritage to be erased and replaced with a fiction concocted by the illegitimate heirs to our patrimony.
Looking back at the last year, we see some progress and we see some challenges.
* The House resolution affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide was adopted in the Foreign Affairs Committee against the overwhelming opposition of the Bush Administration on behalf of Turkey.
* After Turkey and President Bush suffered that defeat, they pulled out all the stops. Spending millions and calling in favors from friends and allies in politics and the media, they targeted and attacked the members of Congress -- starting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who dared to affirm those proud pages of U.S. history, American support for the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The resolution is on hold, awaiting a less hostile administration. In the meantime, the Armenian Genocide was front-page news around the world for days on end.
* In the aftermath of the firing of Ambassador John M. Evans in September 2006 for properly referring to the Armenian Genocide, President Bush's nomination and renomination of a new envoy who refused to recognize the Genocide ended in failure. The president has made a new nomination. We hope the administration will allow this candidate to speak the truth.
* The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish-American organizations came under immense pressure from their constituents and the larger community to take a principled stance on the Armenian Genocide. The extent of Jewish-American anger at the denialist or overly pragmatic positions of some Jewish leaders was a credit to the many who spoke out.
* The Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum planned for Washington remained at a virtual standstill, as efforts led by Gerard L. Cafesjian to build a worthy museum and memorial continue to be subverted. The matter remains in the U.S. federal courts.
* Scholarly consideration of Armenian civilization in Asia Minor and its demise in 1915 continues with the greater participation of scholars from Turkey. This is a positive development. A cause for concern is that the number of Armenian scholars doing archival and field research on the subject is very small, and support for such research is inadequate.
* In the arts, books, movies, poems, music, and popular culture, more of the many stories of the Armenian Genocide are being told. More and more non-Armenians know about and care about this matter. This is an important development of recent years.
* The Turkish government continues to criminalize public acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide even as it and its proxies make disingenuous calls for dialogue between Turkey and Armenia on the subject.
* The restoration of the Armenian cathedral at Aghtamar in Lake Van --as a Turkish museum, not a church or a monument to the Armenian heritage -- was the subversion of what could have been a great first step on Turkey's part. There has been no meaningful follow-up.
* The Turkish state is trying to come to grips, through legal reform, with the decades-long practice of appropriating Armenian and other minority-owned community property (churches, schools, hospitals, and properties that provide financial support for such institutions). This was a major item on the agenda of Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in January 2007. But the new law neither stops the practice altogether nor restores the bulk of previously taken property.
We cannot reasonably expect to win every battle. The progress we have seen this year is not simply the work of a moment, but the fruit of years of effort and groundwork laid by a generation of activists in political, cultural, academic, religious, and other fields. The struggle for justice we are waging is long, and having come so far, we have no right to simply give up on it. By every objective measure, the past year has been one of advancement for the cause of Armenian Genocide recognition. It will not advance further if we relent.
In these circumstances, there is plenty for us to do as a community. On this 93rd anniversary, many of us will choose private contemplation and prayer as ways of remembering our lost relatives and the civilization that Turkey destroyed. We urge our readers to go beyond the private and attend public gatherings as well, to speak up to family, friends, community leaders, the media, and their elected officials. Starting on April 24, 2008, let the new year be one of ever-greater progress.
(c) 2008 Armenian Reporter LLC. All Rights Reserved
European Armenian Federation For Justice And Democracy
Sunday, 20 April 2008
Stay For Ragip Zarakolu
- MEPs appeal to the Turkish Minister of Justice
- The European Armenian Federation calls for the abolition of article 301
- The trial is postponed until a cosmetic reform of the TPC clauses which are a destruction of liberty
Four eminent members of the European Parliament – Mrs Koppa and Mr Toubon, both vice-presidents of the delegation EU-Turkey, Mr Gaubert, vice-president of the sub-committee on Human Rights and president of Licra, Mr Kasoulides, former minister of Foreign Affairs and recent candidate for the Cypriot presidency – have recently sent a letter to the Turkish Minister of Justice, Mr Sahin, in order to inform him of the Unions concern about the trial developments (see below[i]). The MEPs mention that the “long, costly and morally exhausting” trial comes from “judicial relentlessness”. They are also worried about Mr Zarakolu’s “physical security” regarding “nationalistic renewal in Turkey” especially revealed by the “murder of Hrant Dink and the revelations referring to the criminal organization Ergenekon”.
The MEPs ask Mr Sahin to “abrogate without any delay the 301 article and similar clauses” of the Turkish Penal Code and “other legislative and statutory texts which are effective in Turkey”. They also ask for the cessation of “iniquitous prosecutions” in opposition to Mr Zarakolu and they underline that his “condemnation and even more, any attempt to his integrity will constitute a cutting contradiction to the European ambitions of Turkey”.
On April 9, at the end of another hearing of Mr Zarakolu, the criminal court in Istanbul decided to postpone the hearings until June 17, i.e. after the possible adoption by the Turkish Parliament of the amendments tabled by the AKP government referring to the 301 and 305 articles of the TPC.
The European Armenian Federation reminds that Mr Zarakolu is a publisher and militates for several years in favour of Human Rights in Turkey. He is one of the founding members of the Turkish Association for Human Rights and he forms part of those dissidents prosecuted under the 301 article for having “insulted the State and the Republic” and “the memory of Ataturk”.
In this case, Mr Zarakolu is prosecuted following the article 301 because he published two books on the Armenian genocide, the founding act and the major taboo of the Turkish state and society. One of the books deals with the rescue of an Armenian family by Turks during the genocide!
“Mr Zarakolu case is without any doubt one of the most symbolic trials instituted by the Turkish State against one of its dissidents. Apart from the penal condemnation, Mr Zarakolu is enduring financial difficulties deliberately induced by the trial in order to reduce him to silence. Moreover, he fears now for his life as the trials are only a way to point out the potential victims to the killer teams controlled by the State” commented Laurent Leylekian, the executive director of the European Armenian Federation.
According to the latest news, the “reform” proposed by the AKP recommends to replace in the 301 article which penalizes “the insult to the Turkish identity, the Republic, State institutions and organs” the terms “Turkish identity” and “Republic” respectively by “Turkish nation” and “Turkish Republic”.
The Federation considers that this “reform” will change nothing to the Turkish prosecutors dealings who – according to a recent poll – consider themselves as the guardians of the “National interest” of their country. “The Turkish prosecutors will continue prosecuting in the same way those who dare to speak about the Armenian Genocide, the occupation of Cyprus, or oppression of the Kurds. Europe has to force Turkey to abrogate these articles which clearly violate the Copenhagen criteria by penalizing the freedom of expression not only of Turks but also of Europeans”, concluded Laurent Leylekian.
Several international organizations, such as the International Publishers Association, the League for Human Rights, Amnesty International mobilized and launched petition campaigns and alerted the European Commission in the framework of Turkey’s “accession process”. They also point out that these trials violate at the same time “freedom of expression” and the “right to a fair and impartial trial” which are theoretically guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. They ask for a total abolition of the 301 article and other similar clauses of the Turkish Penal Code.
 International League against Racism and Xenophobia
[i] Letter sent by Mrs Koppa, Mr Gaubert, Mr Kasoulides and Mr Toubon to Mr Sahin, Minister of Justice of Turkey
M. Mehmet Ali Sahin
Ministre de la Justice
Türkiye Cumhuriyet Bakanligi
06659 Kizilay – Ankara
European Armenian Federation For Justice And Democracy
Friday, 18 April 2008
Ep/Turkey: A New Report Without Any Political Position
The blockade on Armenia merely mentioned; the Armenian Genocide passed over
The EP Committee on Foreign Affairs will adopt on Monday 21 April its traditional report on Turkey’s “progress”. The members of the Committee will have to look into the draft resolution prepared by Mrs Ria Oomen-Ruijten (Christian-Democrat, Netherlands) and the 262 amendments tabled. Mrs Oomen-Ruijten was also the rapporteur of the resolution adopted last year.
The new preparatory document seems to be less brief than the former one which essentially aimed at exhibiting a gesture of goodwill towards the new elected Turkish government. Nevertheless, it remains well short of European expectations by continuing in minimizing the serious breaches of Turkey.
Thus, in the “external relations” chapter, the draft report “calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and re-open its border with Armenia” but, in accordance with the rest of the document, abstains from condemning Turkey. The Armenian genocide issue is dodged by a wording which “calls on the Turkish and Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events”.
“This wording is typically dictated by Ankara: by refusing to mention the Genocide, it is denialist ; by sending away Turkey and Armenia, the genocide is rooted out from the political scene and from the context of International Law in order to consider it as a tool of the only conflict between a criminal state and its victims”, commented Hilda Tchoboian, the chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.
The Federation reminds us that the position reaffirmed several times by the Parliament from 1987 to 2005 consists in demanding the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a prerequisite for accession. The Federation highlights that the Turkish regimes have never progressed on this issue as on others only under constraints of strong demands, and that any complacency is interpreted by Ankara as a green light given to its State denial in Turkey and even in Europe.
About 6 (mainly from communist and socialist MEPs) out of the 262 amendments tabled deal with Armenian issues, notably with the Armenian Genocide (see below [i]).
In a general point of view, the 2008 edition deals with all the Turkish breaches but by using light and depoliticised wordings: the innumerable lack of progress observed on crucial issues as the State of Law, democracy, protection of minorities or freedom of expression are only considered as “concerns”, “regrets” and “repeated demands”. Only the PKK is formally condemned but without any explanation regarding Turkish State exactions in Kurdistan.
Referring to article 301of the Turkish Penal Code, which penalises freedom of expression, the draft report only asks for a “reform” and “modifications” whereas the European civil society and all Human Rights organizations call for a complete abrogation.
“We believe that this way of proceeding – the one which consists in enumerating the problems in a technocratic manner by refusing to give them a political appreciation – reduces the role of the European Parliament”, continued Hilda Tchoboian. “Doing worse than the European Commission is useless for the Union and its citizens. What Europeans need is a Parliament which is the conscience of Europe”, she concluded.
[i] Some tabled amendments
Amendment 4, Citation 4a (new), Alexandra Dobolyi, PSE
– having regard to its resolution of 18 June 1987 on a political solution to the Armenian question,
Amendment 126, Paragraph 15 a (new), Béatrice Patrie, Martine Roure, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, Harlem Désir, PSE
15a. Condemns the bringing of charges against Turkish writer Temel Demirer for having declared ‘Yes, there was an Armenian genocide in this country’; emphasises that the freedom to express a non-violent opinion and the acknowledgment of dark moments in history are fundamental values of the European Union; urges the Turkish authorities, therefore, to end such prosecutions and to acknowledge the Armenian genocide;
Amendment 201, Paragraph 33, Alexandra Dobolyi, PSE
33. Calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and to re-open its border with Armenia; once again calls on Turkey to refrain from any short-sighted and politically motivated regional energy and transportation projects in the South Caucasus which violate European Neighbourhood Policy principles of sound development; calls once again on Turkish and the Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events; calls on the Commission to facilitate this reconciliation process;
Amendment 202, Paragraph 33, Giulietto Chiesa, PSE
33. Calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and to re-open its border with Armenia; calls once again on the Turkish government to start a process of recognition, allowing for a frank and open discussion of the Armenian genocide; calls on the Commission to facilitate this recognition process;
Amendment 203, Paragraph 33, Béatrice Patrie, Martine Roure, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, Harlem Désir, PSE
33. Calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and to re-open its border with Armenia; calls once again on the Turkish government to start a process of recognition, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of the Armenian genocide; calls on the Commission to facilitate this recognition process;
Amendment 205, Paragraph 33, Maria Eleni Koppa, PSE
33. Calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and to re-open its border with Armenia; calls once again on Turkish and the Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, calls for the holding of a frank and open discussion of the genocides of the Armenians, Pontians and other nations and ethnic groups; calls on the Commission to facilitate this reconciliation process;
Sweden Was Informed Of Extermination Of Armenians In 1915 But Preferred Not To Intervene
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ A recently conducted study at the Uppsala University has revealed highly interesting information in the Swedish Archives, which once again confirm the researchers’ view of the events in the Ottoman Turkey during the First World War: the Christian minorities, the Armenians in particular, were subjected to genocide, www.armenica.org reports.
The survey conducted by Vahagn Avedian, Editor of Armenica.org and Master Degree Student at Uppsala University, covers the period between 1915 and 1923 and includes, among others, reports which the Swedish Ambassador, Cosswa Anckarsvard, and the Swedish Military Attaché, Einar af Wirsén, both stationed in Constantinople, sent to the Foreign Department (found in the National Archive) and the General Staff Headquarters (found in the War Archive) in Stockholm, respectively. In total, about eighty documents were found with direct relevance to the so-called Armenian Question, of which some are over-explicit in their message: the Turkish Government conducted a systematic extermination of the Armenian Nation.
On July 6, 1915, Ambassador Anckarsvard, writing to the Swedish Foreign Minister, Knut Wallenberg, concludes: “Mr. Minister, The persecutions of the Armenians have reached hair-raising proportions and all points to the fact that the Young Turks want to seize the opportunity, since due to different reasons there are no effective external pressure to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consist of the extermination [utrotandet] of the Armenian nation.”
Major Wirsén’s reports to the General Staff concur with Anckarsvard’s analysis. In 1942 Wirsén published his memoirs, entitled “Memories from Peace and War”, reflecting upon his time as Swedish Military Attaché in the Balkans and Turkey. In a chapter entitled “The Murder of a Nation”, Wirsén renders his observations of the Armenian massacres: “Officially, these [deportations] had the goal to move the entire Armenian population to the steppe regions of Northern Mesopotamia and Syria, but in reality they aimed to exterminate [utrota] the Armenians, whereby the pure Turkish element in Asia Minor would achieve a dominating position.”
The mentioned quotations are a fraction of the information presented in the study. In addition to the mentioned archives of the Foreign Ministry and the General Staff, the reports from the Swedish missionaries and the Swedish newspapers were also included in the study and concur with the same view.
Presently, Sweden, as all other states, chose to secure its national interests rather than standing out from the rest by advocating Armenia’s right and the question of punishing the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. The present-day Swedish Government does not seem to be willing to become involved in the question either. Just last fall, the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, during an interpellation in the Swedish Parliament, refrained from officially recognizing the 1915 genocide, partly by referring to “the need of additional research about what really transpired in the Ottoman Empire.”
How The Society Is Being Stripped Of Its Immunity
Gor Abrahamyan April 21, 2008
The radical opposition is in a state of indecision. Ever since the arrests of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s supporters after March 1st and the investigations of his ideological partisans the opposition has printable version
This fact has forced the opposition to focus attention on defending the rights of the detained, to see that they are fairly treated while in custody, and not on directing the popular movement or guiding public sentiment.
The second reason is that the opposition isn’t certain when it comes to what future actions would prove to be the most effective and hasn’t decided what specific steps it can take given the current situation. World public opinion has basically remained unresponsive to the specific demands made by the opposition regarding the proper evaluation of the current situation. Despite the serious pressure brought to bear on the Armenian authorities by the Council of Europe, it is clearly stated that these measures are directed not to remove the causes leading to the present situation but rather to remove the consequences. In an interview granted to the Russian “Novaya Izvestiya” newspaper, Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s general observations lead one to conclude that perhaps one of the decisive factors in the failure of the opposition to achieve its aims was exactly the inadequate response of the West both during the election and the pre and post elections processes. This stance on the part of the West regarding the opposition proves that during the February 19th to March 2nd time period what took place in Armenia had no similarity at all with the Color Revolution phenomenon.
In any event, to understand the reasons and factors that led the West to be so precautious and to be so allegiant regarding the actions of the authorities, a serious analysis must be conducted. This is not only a matter for the opposition to take up since it is has a most direct bearing on Armenia’s entire political system and culture, in general. The problem is that world public opinion has created a certain stereotype regarding the opposition in Armenia according to which the opposition is not able to become a political player and have any influence on the political decision-making process and cannot evolve into an instrument of change. As such, world public opinion cannot rally around it.
This is conditioned based on two essential factors. Firstly, the great influence that the Russian factor has on the Armenian political landscape and which necessitates that any change be made solely with the approval gained from the authorities in Moscow and secondly, until September 2007, the time of Ter-Petrosyan’s return to the political arena, the barren state of the oppositional field, a result of the virtual inaction of the forces existing therein.
Perhaps such an external stance wouldn’t have been so important, and could even have been considered positive in terms of having an independent opposition, if it weren’t for the threat that the social movement could be removed from its political course that has resulted from the present indecision of the opposition and its wait and see approach. In his latest public statement Ter-Petrosyan promised to shortly declare a new conception and approach regarding actions to be taken in the future. However, his interview to “Novaya Izvestiya” leads one to conclude that the only definite thing that the opposition can propose for the moment is to mold public opinion around the idea of not accepting this regime. And the fact that Hovhannes Igityan, a representative of Ter-Petrosyan’s team, is presently in Strasbourg attending the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in an attempt to lobby the Europeans and make known to them the opposition’s approaches and demands regarding the present situation in Armenia, is evidence that the opposition is attempting to bring the game to the field of external pressures.
At the same time, the social movement that was sparked in the corridors leading to Freedom Square has essentially been left to fend on its own or to rely on the organizational potential of a few social organizations. Given that it has been deprived of its political base, the movement can wind up being deeply disenchanted with the opposition. This signifies that the society will gradually be deprived of the ability to raise the social-psychological and objective dissatisfaction and issues it has internally accumulated to the political level. This, in all cases, can lead to two possible conclusions. Either the scope of that accumulated dissatisfaction will reach such a critical level that a social-civil eruption will take place, leading to more confrontation, loss of life and other unpredictable consequences, or despair will give way to a deep-rooted nihilism that will strip society of the essential components vital for its healthy functioning, such as the incentives to struggle and strive in the name of justice. In any event, as a result of either scenario we will be left with an unhealthy and afflicted society and political system and consequently an enfeebled government.
On the other hand, the authorities will loose that only effective conduit by which it could tap into and take the pulse of the society’s real discontent and get a grasp of reality’s objective stimuli, in a word a true basis upon which to make decisions regarding the situation that confronts us. In the event that the mechanisms of this reciprocal link are violated not only will the issue of the government’s legitimacy not be resolved but it will also grow thornier, regardless of the type of staff politics that Serzh Sargsyan conducts. Thus, if he expresses the political will to implement radical reforms the first and most important step to take along that road must not be to strangle this unprecedented wave of social discontent, to persecute those in political departments by handcuffing them, but rather to place this wave in its correct course and to assist in activating a true opposition to lead it. Only in this way will it be possible to essentially decrease the extremist emotions in the society.
In this context any manifestation of contact between the authorities and the opposition can be of benefit in changing the current state of affairs. In other words, by complying with the social demands the authorities will have to go the route of serious reform (and not a temporary imitation), otherwise the beaten down radical oppositionists on Northern Avenue will take concrete steps to assume the role of a strong opposition in order to safeguard the application of the measures initiated by the regime. It is not possible to imagine any type of dialogue between the regime and the opposition occurring any other way. Moreover, any other type of relationship outside this scenario could be even worse. The problem is that presently the base for discussion between the regime and the opposition doesn’t generally exist because the two sides are mostly being lead according to the principles of mutual denial and intolerance. If anyone from either side showed signs of compromise he or she would be seen as a loser in the eyes of the people. This perhaps wouldn’t be viewed as so shameful or dishonorable if the events and victims of March 1st weren’t looming in the background and the shadow of those responsible.
The regime, in the event that it manifests such will, need not demand that the opposition unreservedly accept the official election results or the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court’s final decision. This would even be senseless and a step that Ter-Petrosyan would never take given that he has never signed off on his official defeat. This needs to be perceived as a principled departure point for the opposition, whose constant broaching, furter hardens the latter’s stance.
Those steps that the opposition and world public opinion are demanding the regime to implement shouldn’t absolutely be directed at Ter-Petrosyan despite the fact that currently their possibility is so viewed. They must be directed to that society for whom Serzh Sargsyan declared the willingness to be the president of all members during his inauguration. This assumes much deeper solutions than new parliamentary elections or the release of those in custody. As to what concrete steps and solutions these might be is a theme for another discussion all together.
Copyright © 2002-2008 Hetq Online
Watertown Center Helps Survivors Tell Their Stories To Following Generations
By Erica Noonan, Globe Staff | April 20, 2008
WATERTOWN - The way survivors see it, the tragedy of genocide is magnified when the history remains untold. If more had been done to recognize the Armenian genocide, which killed the family of 98-year-old Asdghig Alemian, perhaps Edgar Krasa, 87, would have been spared the horrors of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Had the history been better remembered, they believe, there's a chance that 21-year-old Marie Carine Gakuba would not have had to suffer through an ugly chapter of her own national history - the Rwandan genocide.
Alemian, Krasa, and Gakuba were brought together last Sunday to share their stories of survival. The program, called "Genocide Committed, Genocide Denied, and Genocide Repeated," was hosted by the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, North America's only permanent memorial to the Armenian genocide.
Krasa and Gakuba are sad witnesses to what happens when history is ignored and forgotten, say the descendents of the first genocide of the 20th century, in which more than 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of Turkish soldiers between 1915 and 1917.
"The question we are always asking ourselves is, 'What can I do personally so that genocide never happens again to anyone?' " said Mariam Stepanyan, the 32-year-old director of the Armenian Library.
Armenians "carry the memory of loss in their hearts," she said.
With only a handful of the Armenian genocide survivors still alive, the responsibility for keeping that memory alive has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Generation X. Stepanyan is among a small group of 30- and 40-something Armenian-Americans at the core of a burgeoning local genocide-awareness movement, one that has united them with victims of the Nazi Holocaust, their descendants, and survivors of more recent genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Rwanda.
Armenians have lived longest with the heavy cultural and moral obligation to prevent genocide. The almost missionary zeal to educate the public about the massacre is an unshakable part of their cultural identity, said Ara Nazarian, a 36-year-old researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
"We are an ancient people and this is a fresh wound because it is only 93 years old," said Nazarian, who as a teenager growing up in Iran helped collect oral histories of the survival stories of his elderly Armenian neighbors.
"It doesn't define everything about being Armenian, but it's ingrained. These are stories told at the most personal levels by your grandma, and it is a human link that you can't forget," he said.
Young Armenian activists are the new faces pushing forward a decades-old effort to get the US government to officially acknowledge the massacre as a genocide, and also to seek an apology and reparations from the Turkish government.
They are also increasingly reaching beyond their own cultural group to join forces with people like 52-year-old Jewish community organizer Susie Davidson, who pulled together last Sunday's program with Alemian, Krasa, and Gakuba.
"Reaching out to others alleviates the feeling of suffering and aloneness. It's a natural emotional progression to empathize with other victims of genocide," said Davidson, who became interested in forming intercultural alliances with Armenians after meeting some last year at a "Dream for Darfur" rally at Boston City Hall. The event brought together a mix of genocide survivors to raise attention to the ongoing massacre of an estimated 500,000 people in western Sudan.
"There is a certain strength to be realized from coming together," said Davidson, author of "I Refused to Die," a collection of stories from Boston-area Nazi Holocaust survivors. "The experience is similar, and this can only lead to strength in numbers."
Armenians are eager to collaborate because they hope the suffering of their ancestors can make a difference for the future, said Stepanyan.
Sharistan Melkonian, 39, who works for the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts, said she feels efforts among the next wave of next-generation Armenian activists are beginning to bear fruit, citing a bruising, high-profile philosophical battle last year with the Anti-Defamation League over the national Jewish group's refusal to formally recognize the Armenian genocide.
More than a dozen local communities dumped the Anti-Defamation League's "No Place for Hate" antiprejudice program in protest of the organization's reticence, and earlier this month the Massachusetts Municipal Association broke off its sponsorship of the program.
"I do feel like we are making a difference," said Melkonian.
Beth Israel's Nazarian said he hopes he can raise his own infant son in a country that has learned lessons from Armenia's painful history.
"I'm hopeful that when he's old enough to understand we won't still be fighting for recognition," he said. "I can teach him about the history and culture, and any time he sees injustice - especially of such magnitude - he needs to do something about it."
One of the few Armenian survivors healthy enough to attend the gathering on Sunday, Alemian was orphaned as a small child. Frail and wheelchair-bound, her voice ringing with anguish, she showed the crowd of more than 100 people a photograph of her late parents - the only way she has to remember their faces.
Krasa, a Czech Jew, was imprisoned in the Terezin concentration camp by German Nazis, who exterminated an estimated 6 million Jews between 1937 and 1945.
He survived the camp, but more than 90,000 Jews died there.
"Everybody says, 'Never again,' but we see how power-hungry men can start a genocide," said Krasa, referring to post-World War II genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Africa.
Gakuba was only 8 when her family was chased into hiding during the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Rwandans were murdered over a 100-day period.
She watched armed men shoot her 12-year-old brother to death while she and her siblings huddled for safety in a swamp.
Now studying political science at the University of New Hampshire, she speaks about her experiences at genocide-awareness events.
As a child, Gakuba believed the horror around her "was happening all over the world, that's why nothing was being done to stop it. You can imagine how disappointed I was when I found it wasn't," she said ruefully.
As an adult, she is more sober and cynical about the cruelty she witnessed, and about the world's indifference.
"I guess I am hopeful. I am crossing my fingers that something might get done. But if nobody is going to do something to stop [genocide], they should stop saying they will," said Gakuba.
"It gives people a false sense of security."
Erica Noonan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
NJ Meeting With Guenter Lewy On Monday 21st: The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide
The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide Introduction by Dr. David Cuthell at Stevens Institute of Technology, on Monday, April 21 in New Jersey.
The Program in Gender and Cultural Studies The College of Arts and Letters in Association with The Institute of Turkish Studies presents Guenter Lewy speaking on His controversial New book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide Introduction by Dr. David Cuthell, Executive director of the institute of Turkish Studies
Monday, April 21, 6:30 PM, Stevens Institute of Technology, in New Jersey
No admission charged
Eafjd: Ep Rapporteur On Turkey Avoids 'Armenian Genocide' Term Again
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The EP Committee on Foreign Affairs will adopt on Monday 21 April its traditional report on Turkey's "progress", reported the European Armenian Federation.
The members of the Committee will have to look into the draft resolution prepared by Mrs Ria Oomen-Ruijten (Christian-Democrat, Netherlands) and the 262 amendments tabled. Mrs Oomen-Ruijten was also the rapporteur of the resolution adopted last year.
The new preparatory document seems to be less brief than the former one which essentially aimed at exhibiting a gesture of goodwill towards the new elected Turkish government. Nevertheless, it remains well short of European expectations by continuing in minimizing the serious breaches of Turkey.
Thus, in the "external relations" chapter, the draft report "calls on the Turkish government to end the economic blockade and re-open its border with Armenia" but, in accordance with the rest of the document, abstains from condemning Turkey. The Armenian Genocide issue is dodged by a wording which "calls on the Turkish and Armenian governments to start a process of reconciliation, in respect of the present and the past, allowing for a frank and open discussion of past events".
"This wording is typically dictated by Ankara: by refusing to mention the Genocide, it is denialist; by sending away Turkey and Armenia, the genocide is rooted out from the political scene and from the context of International Law in order to consider it as a tool of the only conflict between a criminal state and its victims", commented Hilda Tchoboian, the chairperson of the European Armenian Federation.
The Federation reminds us that the position reaffirmed several times by the Parliament from 1987 to 2005 consists in demanding the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a prerequisite for accession. The Federation highlights that the Turkish regimes have never progressed on this issue as on others only under constraints of strong demands, and that any complacency is interpreted by Ankara as a green light given to its State denial in Turkey and even in Europe.
About 6 (mainly from communist and socialist MEPs) out of the 262 amendments tabled deal with Armenian issues, notably with the Armenian Genocide (see below [i]).
In a general point of view, the 2008 edition deals with all the Turkish breaches but by using light and depoliticized wordings: the innumerable lack of progress observed on crucial issues as the State of Law, democracy, protection of minorities or freedom of expression are only considered as "concerns", "regrets" and "repeated demands". Only the PKK is formally condemned but without any explanation regarding Turkish State exactions in Kurdistan.
Referring to article 301of the Turkish Penal Code, which penalizes freedom of expression, the draft report only asks for a "reform" and "modifications" whereas the European civil society and all Human Rights organizations call for a complete abrogation.
"We believe that this way of proceeding - the one which consists in enumerating the problems in a technocratic manner by refusing to give them a political appreciation - reduces the role of the European Parliament", continued Hilda Tchoboian.
"Doing worse than the European Commission is useless for the Union and its citizens. What Europeans need is a Parliament which is the conscience of Europe", she concluded.
Recognizing The Genocide: Bulgaria
Frontier Times, 19 April 2008, Bulgaria
Another Bulgarian city adopted a declaration recognizing Turkish genocide over Armenians and Bulgarians.
April 17, in Rousse, the Municipal Council approved with 36 in favour, 3 against and 6 abstained a special declaration wherein the town's governors recognize the genocide over Armenians and Bulgarians carried out by the Turkish state and army. Between 1903 and 1913, tens of thousands of Bulgarians were slaughtered by the Turkish in the territories that remained out of the Bulgarian state, and between 1915 and 1918 of over 1.5 MILLION Armenians, having before that, in 1895/6 butchered between 100,000 and 200,000 Armenians.
Besides the recognition of these acts of extreme violence in the beginning of 20th century, the declaration calls for "the Republic of Turkey assuming the responsibility and offer its apologies for the five centuries of enslaving of Bulgarians, for the crimes committed and mass murders perpetrated of all Bulgarians who, under the force of the Berlin Treaty (of 1878), remained within the boundaries of Turkey and to pay indemnities to the heirs of the refugees for their suffering and for the robbing of their properties and possessions that were left on its (Turkey's) territory."
This declaration will be presented to the embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Sofia and also delivered to the Human Rights Commission in the EU Parliament. The declaration was initiated by ATAKA and VMRO representatives and was earlier adopted in the city of Bourgas.
Meanwhile, the Turkish consul from Bourgas was reported to have arrived in Rousse and attempted in discussions with the mayor to prevent the adoption of such a declaration. After Bourgas approved the declaration, the Turkish city of Edirne, in a harsh reaction to this, terminated all common projects, and severed all connections between the two cities.
Bulgaria was enslaved by the Turkish between 1396 and 1878. In the first century of slavery alone, the Bulgarian population was diminished from about 2,000,000 to just over 200,000. Mass slaughter was carried over Bulgarians most regularly, with some of the most brutal taking place in 1876 as the April Uprising was crushed, leaving some hundred thousand, including women and children, dead.
The modern Turkish state has continually refused to recognize the terror performed over other peoples in its earlier history and has demonstrated especially harsh attitude to the Armenian genocide question.
Next Steps To Normalize Turkish-Armenian Relations by Hovhannes Nikoghosyan
Diplomatic Traffic, April 18 2008, DC
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 at the height of the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno Karabakh, a conflict in which Turkey sided with Azerbaijan. At the time of the closure, the Russian media were speculating that Turkey might invade Armenia but was warned off by the head of Russia's General Staff, who was said to have told Ankara that to do so might start World War III.
In the mid 1990s there were rumors of secret negotiations between Armenia and Turkey concerning the route of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. It was said that Turkey suggested the pipeline run through Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia instead of Georgia, in exchange for Armenia withdrawing its forces from Nagorno Karabakh. If such talks were held, nothing came of them as the pipeline was routed through Georgia.
The next, and possibly the most positive step in bilateral ties, was the creation of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) in 2001 by civil society representatives from Armenia and Turkey. TARC was originally financed by the US Administration and coordinated by David Phillips, a senior adviser at the US State Department.
Today we can say that the major step towards real reconciliation made by TARC was the decision to ask the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) to study the applicability of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention to events of 1915-1923. The ICTJ published a report in 2003 stating that the Ottoman Empire in its late years had committed genocide against Armenians. However, TARC stopped functioning after its fourth meeting in Moscow. No official outcome of its work was ever published.
If we look at how Armenians and Turks conduct business, one can hardly describe their behavior as that of enemies. The notion of the two peoples being enemies today is a stereotype perpetrated by those powers that benefit from the standoff between the two, especially for strategic and military reasons. I deeply believe that if we do not take any steps to improve the ongoing situation in Armenian-Turkish relations their "geopolitical incompatibility" will become a matter of fact. For instance, in Armenia both political and public opinion believes that the Kars-Baku railway project (bypassing Armenia through Georgia) is a project Ankara is behind to support Baku, and not a project that will help strengthen regional integration and peace.
The most important reason for improving Turkish-Armenian relations, however, is the need for both countries to be more stable European allies, since both nations want to join the European Union.
Besides, keeping the Turkish-Armenian border closed is not the best way to solve problems in 21st century. There are unresolved disputes within Europe, but no borders are closed. The best way forward is a fair dialog. No state can move forward alone without cooperating with its neighbors.
In 2001 Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian made the following statement: "The fundamental obstacle for future Armenian-Turkish relations is our lack of trust in Turkey, as well as the fact that we are not hopeful that Turkey will become our reliable partner." I believe, no one could describe the current situation better. And the same mistrust is no doubt present in Ankara. The fact is that neither side trusts the other. What can be done to improve the situation?
In 2001 former Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem suggested the holding of a Turkish-Azerbaijani-Armenian trilateral conference on regional security issues. I believe this was a great idea that was unfortunately never carried out. But the idea is still valid.
I believe it would be useful to call a wider conference for regional peace and security, focused on confidence-building measures in the South Caucasus/Caspian region. The following powers could participate: Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia, the United States and the European Union.
I think this is an issue to be discussed seriously. It is a matter of fact that all the participants have reservations regarding rapprochement with at least some of the others, but these should be discussed as soon as possible. It is important for each country to articulate for the others what concessions it deems acceptable for the talks to succeed. Armenia believes in a non-military approach to solving the thorny regional issues, but it has not received a positive response so far.
Hovhannes Nikoghosyan is the Managing Editor of "Actual Policy"
Ali Babacan: Turkey Willing Normalization Of Relations With Armenia
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan congratulated Edward Nalbandian on appointment Foreign Minister of Armenia.
“I am confident that your experience will be useful for your country and believe that we will establish a dialogue to achieve the desired goals,” Mr Babacan said in his message.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia, Frank Walter-Steinmeier of Germany, Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran and Dora Bakoyannis of Greece, SCTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, chairman of AAA board of trustees Hrair Hovnanian, chairperson of the European Armenian Federation Hilda Tchoboian and coordinator of the Armenian Organizations of France Alex Govchian also sent congratulatory addresses to Minister Edward Nalbandian, the RA MFA press office reported.
Armenia: Genocide Or Carelessness?
Oxford Analytica, April 17 2008, UK
Armenians around the world mark this Thursday as 'Armenian Genocide Day'. On this day in 1915, a pogrom began of the Armenians in Constantinople. Armenians say 1.5 million were deliberately exterminated during the First World War.
Turks, who celebrate National Sovereignty Day on Wednesday, do not deny 'events', but say many of their own people died too amid general mayhem. If Armenians succumbed to harsh conditions while being moved (as a 'fifth column' suspected of siding with the Russian enemy) from northeastern Anatolia to Syria, it was because the authorities were not interested in treating them properly.
Whether the proper term is genocide is still a live political controversy:
Armenia and the Armenian diaspora -- mostly descended from Ottoman refugees -- insist on spreading their version in order to be revenged on a racial enemy.
Turks, as a matter of honour, deny it - "the national character does not allow it to commit such crimes", Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said recently.
Others align themselves with one or the other side. In Bulgaria, anti-Turkish ultra-nationalists recently sponsored a genocide recognition bill; in Denmark, it was the far-right Danish People's Party. Israel, an ally of Turkey, withholds recognition -- as long as Ankara behaves itself.
Turkey's international weight has prevented all but a few countries taking the Armenian line, although they include France, which has made genocide denial a criminal offence. A move to recognise it lies before the US Congress, but President George Bush managed to stall it after Ankara threatened to restrict aerial access to Iraq.
Presidential candidate John McCain opposes Resolution 106, valuing Turkey as a US ally. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both support it -- although her husband dodged the issue for his eight years in office.
In 2007, Turkey proposed a joint historical commission to establish the truth -- in itself, a step forward. Whether the commission succeeds in reaching agreement on the terminology hardly matters -- a lot of people died at a time of war because other people hated them for who they were.
Schwarzenegger proclaims April 20-27 as Days of Remembrance of Armenian Genocide
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed the week of April 20th through April 27th as “Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide,” the Armenian Assembly of America told PanARMENIAN.Net.
The declaration says:
“Every April, we take time to commemorate the lives of those forever devastated by the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1923, more than one million Armenians were killed in the territory of the Ottoman Empire, and countless more lost everything they owned. Intellects and store owners, children and seniors, men and women, people from all walks of life were victims of these horrific acts. Often listed as the first genocide of the twentieth century, these events had a life-altering impact on many, and stimulated an Armenian Diaspora.
California has ensured that those lost and affected by this tragedy will not be forgotten. In 2006, I signed Assembly Bill 1210, authored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, to allow construction of a memorial for California’s survivors in Capitol Park. Additionally, in 2005, I signed Senate Bill 424 authored by Senator Chuck Poochigian, which designated in state law a specific time to observe the California Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
I ask all Californians to take time this week to reflect on this tragedy and its consequences. In joining our friends in the Armenian-American community in this observance, all of California helps remember the lives that were lost or changed by these fateful events.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim April 20-27, 2008, as “Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 7th day of April 2008.
AAA To Continue Serving For Armenia’s Interests
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan met Tuesday with Hrair Hovnanian, Chairman of Board of Trustees of the Armenian Assembly of America, the RA leader’s press office reported.
The parties discussed the Armenia-Diaspora relations and the Armenian-American cooperation. “The AAA will continue cooperating with Armenia’s new President and will continue serving for Armenia’s interests,” Mr Hovnanian said.
A Glossary Of Turkish Political Terms by Burak Bekdil
April 16, 2008
I gather there is a general confusion over the most important terms and concepts in Turkish politics. I hope my homemade glossary could help a little bit
We often argue, column-to-column, face-to-face, message-to-message, on various contentious issues surrounding the never-boring Turkish political affairs, indeed without agreeing on a common terminology. In the hope of making a modest contribution to our future arguments, here is an introductory glossary of Turkish political terms:
Anti-Americanism: A state of mental delirium of which Islamists and nationalists accuse each other. In fact both accusations are true, for different reasons.
Anti-Semitism: see anti-Americanism.
Bribe: A de facto “halal” earning that allows politicians and bureaucrats to live on their modest salaries without any dishonest income. A major means of redistribution of income.
Conservatism: A political doctrine in which a politician defends existing evils as opposed to Liberalism, in which a politician would wish to replace them with the new ones.
Conciliation: A parliamentary session at which government and opposition MPs discuss their salaries and other benefits.
Constituents: A long queue of people waiting in front of MP's office rooms for jobs, business contracts and other favors in return for their votes in the next election.
Corruption: An infidel slandering against honestly Muslim Turks. A western attempt to weaken the integrity of the world's most honest nation. Also a banking coincidence of erroneous wire transfer into a bigwig's account coupled with a government contract for the sender.
Coup d'etat: A state of undemocratic rule the Turks hate but give 92 percent consent.
Cyprus: A Mediterranean island that is considered as a province of Turkey by the Turks. Possibly one of the few common denominators uniting all different ideologies in the Turkish political spectrum.
Demagoguery: Whatever a rival politician says.
Dishonesty: A prerequisite to political success.
Election: The only day in a span of four years that the average Turk believes he is an important man. A sine-qua-non for the subsequent public deception.
Election pledges: A grandiose public deception which, in the corporate world, would have led to multi-billion dollar compensation cases.
EU, the: Jobs with fat salaries for most of our “enlightened” nation; the instigator of Project Sevres Version 21st century” for the nationalists; a full motor insurance for motorist Recep Tayyip Erdogan in case his car crashed into a tank.
Free speech: Tolerance, as long as the speech fits into the ruling ideology. An attack on “our moral values” when it does not.
Honesty: An imaginary condition voters tend to believe exists in politics.
Hypocrisy: (see politics) Muslim hypocrisy: Islamic banking. Jewish hypocrisy: Shabbat elevator.
Infidel: Anyone who practices Islam less observantly than you.
Innocence: The state or condition of a politician before he becomes a full-fledged politician. If this unwanted case persists, the person disappears from the political scene.
Intention: Mostly the opposite of what a politician says he intends.
Islamism: Overt abstinence of alcohol and pork, semi-overt desire to see an increase in the number of observant Muslims, and a covert desire to see the whole world converting to Islam. Judicial coup d'etat: The chief public prosecutor attempting to ban the ruling party.
Judicial perfection: The Constitutional Court removing the political ban of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Judiciary: The institution most Turks think is corrupt. These days the institution secular Turks tend to trust.
Kemalism: An ideology a quarter of Turks militantly defend, half of them are indifferent to and another quarter hate.
Liberalism: A nice political doctrine used as a weapon to defend the rights of fellow ideologues. Just like a Windows application, liberalism disappears into the background when at stake is an opponent ideology, its symbols or the rights of its defenders.
Muslim democrats: The imaginary tag former and present Islamists use to look pretty to their western supporters and to avoid clashes with the secular military.
National view: The “illegal shirt” Recep Tayyip Erdogan once wore, then said he took off, but was recently prosecuted for secretly putting it on at his home.
Nationalism: Shooting in the air and killing your neighbor's six-year-old child after a national football victory.
Nation's will: The most often-repeated concept for the winner of an election. A democratic carte blanche for undemocratic rule.
Nepotism: Appointing the village imam as head of a hospital in Istanbul, or your 80-year-old aunt as head of the Football Association. Formerly, appointing a junior banker as minister for economy.
Packs of food: (also sacks of coal) Principal instrument to garner votes.
Politics: The patriotic art of mass deception to satisfy any feeling of power fetish often disguised as heroism.
Opinion polls: Principal instruments for political manipulation. Ironically, some may prove to be accurate.
Parliament: A sacrosanct house that gives legal immunity to its tenants who follow their private agendas disguised as representing the nation.
Poetry: A literary discipline which may put a future prime minister in gaol. In the 1970s it meant a ban and prison for a script that read: “We shall walk hand in hand / and always forward…”
President: The job that allows Islamist politicians to use their “religious-meters” in electing someone for the presumably apolitical position. Job qualifications in 2007 included a wife with the turban.
Secularism: The always-nervous retired woman who shouts at her cleaning lady because she had voted for the AKP.
Social democracy: In the past, contracts to businessmen from a selected sect of Islam; today, political isolationism.
Sultan: The person the Turks often think is their prime minister.
Traitor: Anyone who thinks different than you in matters of national ethos.
Turban: (what if … is a political symbol) The jewel of 21st century Turkish political semiotics. An excuse seculars and Islamists love to justify their wars which, without the turban, also would have broken out.
USA, the: The country all Turks say they hate but would pack up and immigrate to within 15 minutes if given the chance.
Israel: Discussing Armenian Genocide
16 April 2008, Los Angeles Times
A week before Israelis and Jews will mark Holocaust Remembrance Day early May, Armenians throughout the world will be commemorating their own tragedy.
Armenians say 1.5 million people, one third of the ethnic nation, were massacred by the Turks in 1915-1916. Turkey maintains that between 250,000 and 500,000 Armenians were killed during the minority's struggle for independence, and a similar number of Turks. The Armenians are relentless in their push for recognition of the killings as genocide, while an uncomfortable Turkey counters these efforts with international pressure.
In this bitter dispute, Israel finds itself in both a moral and diplomatic hard spot.
For the first time, the Israeli parliament is going to discuss the matter. Knesset member Haim Oron raised the issue, reminding that in recent years the U.S. Congress and French parliament have passed laws recognizing the Armenian genocide. "It is impossible that the Jewish nation will not speak up," he said.
Turkey and Israel are more than geographically close. The two countries share various strategic interests and the thought of a public discussion of the sensitive issue makes both sides nervous.
One possibility is that the issue be discussed in the Knesset's foreign affairs and defense committee, whose sessions are closed to the press.
"The Armenian issue is very sensitive for Turkey," Hasan Murat Mercan, chairman of the Turkish Foreign Affairs and Defense committee, told Jerusalem officials during a visit last week. "We would prefer if this discussion didn't take place at this time ... because it may harm relations between the two countries." A senior aide to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert replied that Israel believes the issue needs to be settled between the two sides with the involvement of historians, and has no interest in undermining its important strategic relations with Turkey.
Aside from "not denying the occurrence of the terrible events" and expressing understanding of the deep sensitivity, Israel has long avoided a clear public position. Attempts to include the topic in the school syllabus nearly a decade ago failed, authorities being reluctant to anger Turkey and concerned it would detract from the importance of the Holocaust.
In 2003, an Israeli nurse of Armenian descent was chosen as one of the traditional 12 torch-lighters in the yearly memorial ceremony preceding Independence Day. The text she wrote for the government brochure had described her as a "third generation to survivors of the Armenian holocaust in 1915." But protest from the Turkish embassy led the reprinting of 2000 new brochures, stating instead that she was the daughter of the long-suffering Armenian people and that her grandparents were "survivors of historic Armenia."
Reuven Rivlin, a veteran legislator who was Knesset speaker at that time, wrote last week that Israel is obliged to recognize the Armenian genocide: "We cannot, in the name of political or diplomatic wisdom, suppress such fundamental human values, which touch on the roots of our tragic existence."
—Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem
Vintage Postcards Tell About Culture by Vercihan Ziflioglu
April 17, 2008, Turkish Daily News
A historical study of vintage postcards by researcher Osman Köker sheds light on the daily lives of Armenians who lived in Anatolia a century ago. Old postcards showing Armenian orphanages, schools, monasteries and churches, constitute unique primary sources on the history of Turkey's Armenian community
Postcards have been an important means of communication since the early 20th century. They have carried evidence of different cultures and lifestyles from one corner of the world to another. Today vintage postcards constitute a unique source of information about life in the past for art collectors and researchers.
Researcher Osman Köker decided in the late 1990s to conduct a study of Armenians in Anatolia during the Ottoman Empire. Speaking to the Turkish Daily News, Köker explained his desire to study such a historical topic, “My daughter was given a text about the history of Tokat, a province in northern Turkey, as homework. All the sources we scanned said that Tokat had always been a Turkish province throughout history. But how could that be? We Turks entered Anatolia in 1071.”
What Köker aimed to do was to break the rigidities the official Turkish history taught to students in all state schools and many of private ones. Köker began his study with a 4,000-piece private postcard collection owned by collector Orlando Carlo Calumeno. During his examinations of Calumeno's huge archive, Köker discovered a total of 700 postcards reflecting the social life of Armenians living in Anatolia from 1895-1914.
After paying Calumeno copyright fees for the postcards, Köker gathered all his sources, complied, edited them and decided to have them published as a book. However, things did not go as he hoped. He faced problems in publishing his study and so, with his own financial resources, founded Birzamanlar Publications in 2005 and published his book, titled “100 Yil Önce Türkiye'de Ermeniler,” or Armenians in Turkey 100 Years Ago.” A second edition was published last week
Book in three languages
Köker's book has been published in Turkish, English and German. The postcards used in the book were exhibited in Turkey, Germany and France in recent years and they will be moved to Europe for display in fall 2008. The exhibition will also travel to Armenia.
“My aim is not only to write history. This is a kind of cultural activity,” said Köker. “I have been writing about Armenians in various newspapers and journals for many years. Therefore, the topic is one of my special areas of interest.” Köker said, and pointed out the significance of such a study for Turkey, “Turkey spends large amounts of money for lobbying activities against the Armenian Diaspora. But my study shows that we, here in Turkey, can speak freely on all issues. This book is a source of prestige for Turkey.”
“100 years ago was the golden age of Armenians in Anatolia. They were at the highest level they could reach socially, culturally and economically. And besides, we used to have a more peaceful atmosphere a century ago. That is the reason I chose to study that era,” he said.
Köker's study began with one question: In what parts of the Ottoman Empire did Armenians live at the beginning of the 20th century?
A province-by-province and even village-by-village documentation of the areas where Armenians lived in the Empire formed the second phase of his project. With the help of Calumeno's postcard archive, Köker also identified, one by one, the Armenian neighborhoods, churches, monasteries and orphanages that existed in Anatolia at the beginning of the 20th century. Köker even learned the Armenian language in order to read primary and secondary sources in Armenian. All in all, his study took four years and resulted in a qualified documentation of Armenians' way of life at the time, from economics to the social sphere.
During his research, Köker found some 50 postcards among the postcard collection that were sent by the same person. These dispatches outlined an itinerant's journey, step by step. He also found several panoramic photos of Anatolia in Calumeno's collection.
About 7,000 people have visited Köker's exhibitions since 2005. During exhibitions held in Turkey, interesting coincidences have taken place. “No matter whether Armenian or Turk, many people have encountered old pictures of their hometowns during those exhibitions,” he said. The only negative reaction to Köker's work came from a visitor at the Tüyap Book Fair in 2005. “A visitor from Bafra, a district in the Samsun province of Turkey, said that we filled everywhere with Armenians. I did not reply to him and just took him to see the board with photos and postcards showing Bafra at the time. He was shocked by what he saw. A century-old Armenian school in one of the postcards was the school he had attended. That person had absolutely no idea about the history of the school where he himself had been a student once upon a time.”
Akcam's Book About Armenian Genocide Presented In Athens
Presentation of "A shameful Act: Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility" book by Turkish scholar Taner Akcam took place in Athens on April 16, the RA MFA press office reported.
"I am often asked why Turkey keeps up its policy of denial. I think that it's conditioned by moral reasons. Each nation has its heroes. It's hard to accept the shortcomings of these heroes and it's even harder to realize that they were criminals and liars.
Degradation of heroes is pregnant with grave consequences and can deliver a serious blow on national dignity. That is why Turkey should be a developing democracy and its people should learn to face up the history," Akcam said.
Armenia's Ambassador to Greece Vahram Kazhoyan, Greece parliament vice speaker Anastasios Nerandzis, MPs, university lecturers and representatives of the Armenian community also attended the ceremony.
On April 15, the book was presented in Thessaloniki.
Armenia Has No Human Rights by Mikhail Zygar
Kommersant, April 18 2008, Russia
The Council of Europe threatens to deny Armenia the right to vote Yesterday the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided to deny the Armenian delegation the right to vote from June, this year, unless Yerevan provides for the observance of human rights and the freedom of the press, and releases political prisoners. Such a strict measure is reaction to the presidential election in Armenia, which was rendered rigged by the PACE. At the same time a group of delegates censured Vladimir Putin's order to establish special relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Armenian issue was brought up during the current PACE session throughout the week. Monday it was decided to consider separately the topic of the recent presidential election and the one of the observance of human rights in Armenia. As to the former, the verdict of the Council of Europe was more or less neutral, whereas the latter was going to be subjected to severe criticism. The Armenian opposition, in its turn, supported separating the matters. "We presume that Armenian politics and inter-party struggle is our own business. Neither Europe nor Russia has the right to interfere," Ovanes Yegityan, head of the Armenian delegation to the PACE from 1992 - 1998, told Kommersant, "But the human rights issue is quite a different matter. The PACE should articulate its position on violence, arrests and political prisoners." According to Mr Yegityan, he managed to come to Strasbourg hardly escaping arrest in Yerevan, and he is sure to be arrested as soon as he returns. "I'm well-known in the PACE. In Strasbourg they know that I am no terrorist, nor bandit, and I'm only persecuted for expressing my views openly. So my example proves that opposition is persecuted for political reasons," he told Kommersant.
Britain's ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and France's Georges Colombier delivered a report on the situation in Armenia, which opened yesterday's debates. The British stated as far back as Monday that the fraud during the presidential election didn't influence its outcome, but yesterday he was less emollient, "Not a single recommendation of the Council of Europe regarding Armenia has ever been met. The latest election was marked with fraud, which can cast doubt on the outcome of the election. In Armenia there is the atmosphere of jealousy and distrust towards major democratic institutions. As a result of the election, violence sparked, 10 people were killed, and thousands arrested; candidate Ter-Petrosyan is under house arrest, the freedom of speech and assembly has been restricted, and evidently, human rights have been violated."
A resolution drafted by Mr Prescott and Mr Colombier calls for Armenia to provide for independent investigation of the events of March 1 as soon as possible, to release all political prisoners, to begin dialogue with opposition, to amend the law on mass assembly, and to lift all restrictions on the freedom of speech. According to the resolution, unless Armenia fulfils the requirements, it will be denied the right to vote at the next PACE session June. John Prescott underscored that during his inauguration, the new president Serzh Sargsyan pledged to alter the legislation so that it could comply with the standards of the Council of Europe.
Igor Chernyshenko, Deputy Head of the Russian delegation, attempted to come to the rescue of the Armenian government. He stated that "the Armenian society is now stabilizing, various political parties are trying to consolidate, that's why the PACE must send a message that we support the Armenian government in its desire to resolve the conflict. I suppose that any government has the right to defend itself by any means available, even using force sometimes."
The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Hungarian Parliament, Mattias Yorshi, retorted that "The European Council should not have integrated Armenia until the latter held at least one legitimate election. But there haven't been any. Of course we can say that Armenia has taken another step towards democracy, but it's not true. Elections are rigged, there is the lack of democracy, and distrust of democratic institutions in that country. In June we will have to be honest to acknowledge that the requirements we laid down onto Armenia won't have been met. The government will make no compromise because there is no environment to control it. Alas, I'm pessimistic about it."
Andreas Herkel, Head of the Estonian delegation, supported his colleague, although he claimed that the Armenian government was not the only one to blame for what was happening in that country -"It's the reflection of the state of affairs in Russia."
The Armenian delegation took things easy. Its members had prepared several amendments to the resolution, but approved of it on the whole, claiming that Armenia would do its best to fulfil all the PACE requirements. The only thing to exasperate the Armenian delegation was criticism on the part of the Azerbaijan delegation. "If Azerbaijan wants to be the paragon of democracy, it must hold fair presidential elections this year and resolve the case of political prisoners. You'd better get the beam out of your eye before preaching virtue," said the indignant delegate Armen Rustamyan.
In the end, with the majority voting for it, the resolution was passed. Konstantin Kosachev, Head of the Russian delegation, told Kommersant that he voted for it keeping in mind the stance of the Armenian delegation, which considered the resolution acceptable and balanced. According to Mr Kosachev, by the time the summer session of the PACE opens, the matter will have gotten less sharp, and unless there is new unrest in Yerevan, possibly, no sanctions will be imposed on Armenia.
After the debates on Armenia finished, many of the delegates showed their interest in the news regarding Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The notorious Mattias Yorshi was quick to draft "Declaration on the unilateral decision of the Russian Federation to legitimate its links to the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." The document expresses worry about Vladimir Putin's recent order regarding the issue and reads that Russia tries to undermine the territorial integrity of Georgia, that's why Russian peace-keepers may not stay in the frozen conflicts zones anymore. In conclusion, the declaration calls on the UN Security Council to change Russia's peace-keepers with those of the UN.
The declaration hasn't become an official document of the PACE, only "stating the viewpoints of the 25 signatories," but the list of the signatures Mattias Yorshi managed to collect, is rather impressive. Besides the ever-critical-of-Russia Lord Russell-Johnston and Roumania's senator Ilie Ilashku (who participated in the war between Moldova and Transnistria), the speakers on Russia -Switzerland's Andreas Gross and Dik Marti, as well as Belgium's Luc van den Brande - signed the document.
Mr van den Brande and Greece's Theodoros Pangalos are the delegates to deliver a report on the situation in Russia this fall. Next week they arrive in Moscow with their first inspection. They are supposed to have a meeting with Russia's Justice Minister Vladimir Ustinov, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, Heads of the Supreme and Constitutional Courts Vyacheslav Lebedev and Valery Zorkin, and Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev.
Dik Marti, the current speaker on Chechnya, became more active during the present session, too. He delivered a four-page information report and asked the Assembly to give him mandate to visit Chechnya. Russia's Dmitry Vyatkin promised to render his assistance.
For all that, Russia's delegates acknowledge that the critical potential regarding Russia has grown with the PACE, and the criticism of Moscow can become much more intensive within a few next months.
Greek And Armenian Clergy Clash At Jesus' Tomb On Orthodox Palm Sunday
By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 20, 3:49 PM ET
JERUSALEM - Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows at one of Christianity's holiest shrines on Orthodox Palm Sunday, and used palm fronds to pummel police who tried to break up the brawl.
The fight came amid growing rivalry over religious rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site in Jerusalem where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected.
It erupted when Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.
When police intervened, some worshippers hit them with the palm fronds they were holding for the religious holiday. The Eastern Orthodox churches, including the Armenians and Greek Orthodox, follow a different calendar from Western Christians and celebrate Easter next Sunday.
Two Armenian worshippers who attacked the Greek Orthodox clergy were briefly detained by Israeli police. Scores of Armenian supporters then protested outside the police station during the questioning of the two, beating drums and chanting.
The Holy Sepulcher is shared by several Christian denominations according to a centuries-old arrangement known as the "status quo."
Each denomination jealously guards its share of the basilica, and fights over rights at the church have intensified in recent years, particularly between the Armenians and Greeks.
Father Pakrad, an Armenian priest, said the presence of the Greek priest during the Armenian observances violated the status quo. "Our priests entered the tomb. They kicked the Greek monk out of the Edicule," he said, referring to the tomb area.
Pakrad accused the Greek Orthodox Christians of trying to step on the Armenians' rights. "We are the weak ones, persecuted by them for many centuries."
The Greek Orthodox Patriarch in the Holy Land, Theofilos III, told The Associated Press that the Armenians are pushing to change the rules, challenging what he said was the dominance of the Greek church in the Holy Land.
"This behavior is criminal and unacceptable by all means," he said. "They wanted to trespass on the status quo concerning the order that regulates the services between the various communities."
The Church of the Nativity in nearby Bethlehem — where Jesus is said to have been born — also falls under the status quo arrangement. Last year, pre-Christmas cleaning in that church turned ugly when robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones.
Congratulations, Mr Sukru Aya, On Your Enlightening Book "Genocide Of Truth"
Book Launch was held at Istanbul Commerce University on Monday, 14th April 2008. First Minister of Culture and present UNICEF President in Turkey Sir Talat Halman, Prof Dr Kemal Cicek Sumerology Expert Muazzez Ilmiye Cig, Local and International Media, Diplomatic Missions, Turkish Historical Society, Academic Staff from various universities, Mr Sukru Aya's Turkish Armenian school mates from Robert College were among the guests.
We Congratulate Sukru Aya On His New Book "Genocide Of Truth" and would like to see his further investigative research work at our site, since he has more time, energy and determination now.
Mr Sukru Aya's Over 100 Articles At Our Site - Here- and Regularly Updated Archives of His Posts at our site - Here -
The G E N O C I D E of T R U T H !
INTRODUCTION (Talat S. Halman)
FOREWORD & BIOGRAPHY (Sukru S. Aya)
Please Click Here To Read the Updates on This Book
Remarks at the American-Turkish Council Luncheon: Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC, April 15, 2008
Thank you very much. Thank you very much to Eli Alharal. Thank you for that wonderful introduction. I’d also like to thank my great friend and mentor, General Brent Scowcroft. I hear he was telling you stories about when I was younger. I hope he didn’t tell you too many. I could tell you a few about him, too. (Laughter.) But Brent, thank you for your work with this great organization, but also for your continuing leadership and your great public service.
I’d like to thank the Turkish Minister of State for Trade, Mr. Kursat Tuzmen, whom I had a chance to meet just recently. The Minister of Defense is here, Mr. Vecdi Gonul and also I see that the Ambassador to the United States from Turkey is here and the American Ambassador to Turkey is here. So we have a very distinguished group of people, all of whom are dedicated and devoted to furthering this extremely important relationship, a relationship that has only grown in importance over the recent years in the complicated environment in which we find ourselves in the world. It’s wonderful to see so many other friends here from the Diplomatic Corps.
Turkey is a vital and strategic partner of the United States, and so it’s fitting that this year’s conference theme is: “Regional Allies and Global Partners.” I did indeed visit Turkey, first as Secretary of State, in my very first trip in 2005 because the centrality of this relationship is very clear to me and has been for a number of years. But a year later, my then counterpart, Foreign Minister Gul, now President Gul, and I decided to create a strategic vision statement for U.S.-Turkish relations, because we wanted to show that the relationship between Turkey and the United States was evolving and was moving toward the challenges of the 21st century. That it, of course, was a relationship that had important elements as military allies and NATO. But it was much more than that. It was a relationship of growing economic ties. It was a relationship of growing diplomatic responsibility for the challenges in the world. And perhaps, most importantly, it was a growing relationship between our peoples. I am always very much mindful that, while the relationship between governments is important, the relationship between peoples is what really brings a firm foundation to a relationship between nations.
Now, as NATO allies over many decades, our cooperation today is closer and more necessary than ever – in fighting terrorism, in promoting freedom and democracy, and in ensuring that all people within the region can live safely and securely without fear. Our commitment to these goals also leads us beyond the region, to cooperate on a global basis for the advancement of peace and prosperity and freedom. The United States views our great democratic ally, Turkey, as an active shaper of positive global trends, and it is a mission that is uniting us more and more in the 21st century.
It was Turkey’s founder, Kemal Ataturk, who famously described the new Republic’s vision as, “Peace at home, peace in the world.” He recognized back then the importance of promoting peace as a key policy objective of the Turkish Republic – just as our own founder Thomas Jefferson did for the United States when he said, “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy.” Our mutual cooperation is helping to ensure a region and a world that are freer, more at peace, and more secure.
Turkey and the United States in pursuing that vision share a commitment to a united Iraq that is secure, stable, prosperous, at peace with its neighbors, and free from all forms of terrorism. Let me be very clear: the United States recognizes the PKK as a common enemy of Turkey, Iraq, and the United States. Our nations, together with our European partners, are pursuing a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the PKK’s safe haven in Northern Iraq and to cut off its criminal and financial networks in Europe. At the same time, we are working for positive change in Iraq to ensure the stability of Iraq through the neighbors process. Turkey hosted the last expanded Iraq neighbors ministerial in November in Istanbul. And we will meet later this month in Kuwait to address the challenges that we face and the progress that has been made in Iraq.
Turkey and the United States are also working side-by-side in Afghanistan. I was just with my Turkish colleagues, including President Gul and Foreign Minister Babacan in Bucharest this week – last week with our NATO allies to reaffirm our long-term commitment to Afghanistan’s success. Turkey has been integral to NATO’s success in supporting the Karzai government, in limiting the Taliban’s influence, and in providing humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for the Afghan people. Together we recognize that sustainable democratic development in Afghanistan is the key to sustainable peace.
Turkey and the United States will continue to work together to defend and promote freedom and opportunity for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. As President Bush has said, “Freedom can be resisted, and freedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied.” Turkey's own long legacy of advancing modern and democratic reforms as a Muslim majority society can inspire those throughout the broader Middle East and beyond who seek to meet their own national challenges democratically.
Governments that are democratic and free must also strive to ensure that their citizens are prosperous. Turkey and the United States have been promoting economic freedom, open markets, and increased trade, not only with each other but also with our partners around the world. Our dialog on these issues is very deep, it’s frequent, and it’s wide-ranging. In fact, this Thursday, as we hold our annual Economic Partnership Commission, this will be in full view. This meeting addresses the central economic issues that tie Turkey and the United States ever closer together in an ever more mature economic relationship – including investment, trade, innovation, cooperation in building prosperity in states that neighbor, states like Pakistan and Afghanistan. And of course, there is a significant portion of our work that is devoted to reliable energy.
We fully understand that the growth of both our economies increasingly depends on new, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly sources of energy. Currently, Turkey occupies a strategic location in the region’s energy supply chain. Eight percent of the world's oil transits Turkey each day, and its position becomes increasingly more important with the construction of each new pipeline on Turkish soil. Turkey and the United States are now building on the success of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and we are developing a new generation of natural gas infrastructure that will help Europe secure its energy supplies at prices set by markets, not by monopolists. The Turkey-Greece-Italy and Nabucco pipelines are emerging as a new Southern Corridor connecting gas supplies in Azerbaijan and the Caspian Basin, as well as Iraq, with Turkey and other European markets.
The United States and Turkey will from time to time disagree on how best to pursue our goals on all the issues I have mentioned today. It happens among friends. But we will also -- always do so, remaining firmly united by our shared democratic values, like tolerance and respect for human dignity and human rights. Throughout history, both Turkey and the United States have struggled to be true to these values. And while we have each made many advances, many struggles lie ahead.
The United States was founded on great principles, but our founding documents did not recognize equal rights for my ancestors or for women. In fact, when our Founding Fathers said “We the People,” they didn’t actually mean me. It took the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, to overcome the compromise in our Constitution that made the founding of the United States of America possible, but that made my ancestors three-fifths of a man and enslaved them for another hundred years. Many courageous individuals fought for many years to improve American democracy, and to ensure that it is truly representative of all American citizens and that process continues even today. Thus, when we see the process of building and perfecting democracy in a friend like Turkey, we know that the road is not easy; it is, indeed, hard.
In the 84 years since the founding of the Turkish Republic, Turkish citizens have continually built on Ataturk’s commitment to democracy and secularism. As with all countries, it is a work in progress. We have seen Turkey strive to improve and transform its democracy and to modernize its economy in its bid to join the European Union. We continue strongly to support Turkey’s EU candidacy. It will be good for Turkey and it will be good for Europe. Ankara’s openness to renewed efforts on the divided island of Cyprus to reach an agreement on bizonal, bicommunal federation is also a key part of the process of Europe’s construction.
In 2007, we witnessed the maturity and vibrancy of Turkey’s democracy as it weathered and came out stronger. It was a challenging political year that included a delay in the presidential election, and then the carrying out of both parliamentary and presidential elections. You may know that the struggles continue. But Turkish – the Turkish people, the Turkish voters, will resolve the difficulties before them within their secular democratic context and their secular democratic principles. All that can be asked of a democratic society is to stay true to those principles as it goes through difficult times.
Indeed, as Winston Churchill once said, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Still, both we and Turkey know that democracy is the best system we have to ensure that human rights and fundamental freedoms are ensured for all. On that note, we commend Prime Minister Erdogan for stating recently that parliament will amend Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes insulting “Turkishness.” We encourage this. Expressing one’s beliefs is not an insult to the state; it is one of the highest forms of citizenship.
Democracy is also the best way to protect peoples’ right to practice religion freely. We appreciate the support that Turkey has given to the people across the broader Middle East and North Africa – impatient patriots in those places who are working to strengthen civil society and build democratic institutions as the guarantee for their freedom of conscience. These freedoms are essential to defeating extremism and terror. We have worked together, too, in the Middle East to try and promote a process through the Annapolis process, that would give the Palestinian people also an alternative to extremism and terror in their own state. And I want to thank the Turkish Government for the – its presence at Annapolis and its continuing support to that process.
Both of our nations want to be the best champions of these values that we can within the region, and therefore we must continue to strengthen these values at home in our own democracies. We continue to encourage Turkey to recognize and protect civil rights of all religious and ethnic groups, such as by reopening the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Halki Seminary as a vocational school.
The United States and Turkey will continue to support freedom, democracy and prosperity in the broader Middle East and well beyond because we know from hard experience that it is the best way for diverse peoples to live together, and to share power, and to resolve their differences in peace without oppression of anyone, or exclusion, or worse. These values are the foundation of everything we do together. And they are why I believe Lord Palmerston got it wrong when he said that “nations have no permanent allies.” The United States does have permanent allies and those are nations with which we share values and we have, therefore, a permanent friend and ally in Turkey.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Secretary Rice has graciously agreed to take some questions, and I’ll assist. The lights are bright, so we’ll do our best to see hands, but we’ve got -- let’s see, what have we got?
SECRETARY RICE: I see somebody over there, yes.
MODERATOR: Ümit, we’ve got a microphone right here. All right, we’re going to go for a non-journalist first. (Laughter.) Here’s one right here. Please.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the United States had supported when the Annan plan vote was proceeding that it will support the ending of the isolation of the northern Cypriot people, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. As an incentive to the new momentum that is building up on the island, is there any opening toward that? Thank you, ma’am.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Yes, there is a new momentum building on the island, and we very much support efforts to use this new momentum to perhaps finally come to a solution. We were disappointed, frankly, a couple of years ago when the efforts of Kofi Annan, we thought, were very close to producing a result and, frankly, should have produced a result. And we made it known that we felt the Turkish Government had supported that solution, and we therefore acted to make some small steps to help to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. I received, for instance, members of that government.
It’s a more hopeful period and a more hopeful sign now. But ultimately, some difficult choices are going to have to be made. People are going to have to overcome political differences and, really, political resistance from both sides. And so we will be very supportive of the UN process there. We will be active in the diplomacy, as we were the last time. I can tell you, for instance, when the referendum was up, the President personally made phone calls to try and carry it across. And so we’re going to do everything we can to encourage the parties, but there is a different spirit now and we should build on that momentum.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madame Secretary, thank you very much. It was a great speech. Perhaps you could share with us, since you were in Bucharest here not too long ago, since we have two great NATO allies here, maybe you could share with us a little bit of your sensing of how did the summit go and what were some of the great takeaways that came, particularly like in Afghanistan. Could you share that with us, please?
SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely. It was a terrific summit. It was, in particular, a terrific summit because it was rather unscripted and people didn’t read from their note cards. They actually worked at the summit. And it was a summit that I think will be remembered for four very important achievements.
The first actually has to do with Afghanistan. The alliance issued a vision statement on Afghanistan that clearly commits the alliance for the long term in Afghanistan. And I don’t mean military forces. Hopefully, the time will come in the relatively near future where Afghans can largely carry out security on their own. But we have to remain committed to that country because, of course, the Taliban is a tough enemy. It’s an enemy, by the way, that isn’t winning on the battlefield, so it’s decided to do what terrorists do; it’s decided to kill innocent people instead. And that’s why you have the car bombs and the suicide bombs and those techniques, and the kidnappings. That’s a sign, to my mind, that they don’t want to take on NATO in military formations; they want to -- they want instead to kill innocent civilians.
And so it’s a hard problem. It’s a counterinsurgency strategy that has to be met by clearing these areas, by giving security, building police forces, and then reconstruction and development. And a lot of the discussion was about how to get a better reconstruction and development civilian component to the counterinsurgency. But the allies did talk about troops levels. We received new forces from France. The United States made some commitments. And I’m confident that NATO is going to take that mission and carry it to its successful conclusion.
Secondly, we had very great successes on missile defense. The truth is that this is not, of course, missile defense as we conceived it in the 1980s when it was meant to be a kind of shield against the mutually assured destruction of facing thousands and thousands of Soviet warheads. Rather, this recognizes that the region, including, by the way, the region in which Turkey lives, faces the emerging threat of small missile threats from the region, and that countries ought to be able to defend themselves. And so NATO has agreed on a program of cooperation on missile defense, and we then went on to Sochi to talk to the Russians, where I think there was general agreement that we, with Europe and Russia, should pursue the possibilities of missile defense.
Third, I think it will be remembered as a summit where new members were admitted: Albania and Croatia. I know that the enlargement of NATO is controversial in some quarters, but I can tell you that when I sit in this alliance where now, 12 of the 26 members are former captive nations, it is an alliance that is reborn by the fact that it has members who have recent experience with tyranny. They are the people who remind us what NATO really was about, which was an umbrella for security among democracies.
And when you sit with Poles and Czechs and Hungarians and Latvians and other Balts, you know what NATO is and why it has been so important to peace and security in the world. And so, the admission of Albania and Croatia was great. It was unfortunate that Macedonia could not be admitted. And as soon as that name issue is resolved, it will be admitted, and that came through very closely – very clearly.
Finally, it was – it was a summit that I think will be remembered for having said that NATO’s lines will not stop at Ukraine, that in fact, Ukraine and Georgia should eventually have membership in NATO when they meet the criteria. And while there was lots of reporting about the membership action plan, this or that, I would just point people to one of the first sentences of that statement, which literally said that they will be members of NATO. And that’s an important signal, because there is a struggle, still, in much of this part of the world for whether or not these are going to be countries that are going to be immersed in transatlantic values and transatlantic institutions. And this was a strong signal.
Turkey was a good partner in all of those. I, myself, believe that the European construction, which has been really very rapidly moving along in the last few years since the end of the Cold War, will not really be complete until Turkey is in the European Union. But this was another opportunity to show that transatlantic institutions have tremendous power to transform nations and peoples in accordance with the values that won the Cold War.
MODERATOR: The Secretary knows that the hand waving frantically in the background is a Turkish journalist and she says that’s fine. (Laughter.) Ümit?
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. One thing, there is a legal closure case against Turkey’s ruling party. What’s your take on that? Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. We are following very closely this case, of course, and it is a matter, obviously, for Turks to decide. We believe and hope that this will be decided within Turkey’s secular democratic context and by its secular democratic principles. But I think it is in everybody’s interest that it be done in this way, that the voters will be heard. Turkey has democratic institutions, and it is our great hope that it will be resolved in that context.
MODERATOR: One more question. I saw another hand back here a minute ago. Right here. Cengiz.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. As a dual citizen of Turkey and U.S., I’m going to ask a tough question if you’ll allow me. When the Soviet Union was dissolved, then-Secretary of State Baker sent a letter to each republic as a precondition of democratic relation – diplomatic relations. There were four conditions, one of which was no change in prevailing borders with use of arms. Subsequently, 20 percent of Azerbaijan was occupied by Armenia. And United States initiated sanctions against Azerbaijan. And 20 percent of Azerbaijan continues to be occupied at the moment. How are we going to solve that problem for the benefit of all the people, including the Armenians?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, I am very much of the view that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is one that could be resolved, and actually, with just a little bit of will, could be resolved relatively quickly. We have been close several times within the Minsk process, where we have the cooperation of several countries including Russia, the European Union, the United States. It is just going to take taking a couple of difficult decisions and getting an agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Nagorno-Karabakh.
It needs to be done. I have made the case to both the Armenian Government and to the Azeri Government that they are falling behind the rest of the region because they will not resolve this conflict between them. And frankly, there is plenty of, if you wish to use the word blame, to go around on both sides. This could be done if there’s political will and it ought to – it ought to be done.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Madame Secretary. Please remain at your seats. The Secretary will say hello to our head table and we want to thank her very much for a wonderful speech and for being with us this afternoon.
SECRETARY RICE: Thanks, Jim. Thank you. (Applause.)
2008/286 April 15, 2008 www.state.gov
Compensation From Turkey, Cash Amount?, Who Take The Money, How To Distribute?
"Justice and the Armenian Genocide" article by "The Armenian Reporter" weekly newspaper dated 29 March 2008 states that the Armenian circles have made attempts for their claims to be recognized by Turkey until today, however, they have not discussed the compensation issue, which will be demanded when their claim would be recognized, and the leaders of the Armenian Diaspora should think about on the issues like which compensation would be fair, what would they demand from Turkey, and if the compensation would be paid in cash, then what would the amount be and how would they decide on this, who would take the money and how would it be distributed.
It was also indicated in the article that the compensation that would be paid in cash would not be enough and there are people, who believe that the fatherland of the Armenians should be given back to the Armenians, nevertheless currently millions of Kurds are living at the Eastern Anatolia, where it is claimed to be formerly “the Western Armenia”, and so, the Armenians would be minority if Kurd continue to inhabit at this region and an excuse would not be enough for the Armenian Diaspora but if they do not decide what their goal is, Armenians would return empty-handed once again.
It seems that the fanatic Diaspora Armenians, whose existence is indexed to Turkish hostility, are thinking in a hurry: “We should not lose time. And, we should work out on how we would get this money, so that we won’t be empty-handed.” Moreover, they are thinking over the disturbances they would face due to the numerical superiority of the Kurds, after they seize (!!!) Eastern Anatolia.
Of Course, the fearless and unconscious statements of the Armenians is not the first. As it is known, Oskanyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, had implied that they have land demand from Turkey during a session at the Armenian Parliament dated December 2007, and during the same course of time, saying that 1the final goal of the Armenians for decades is recognition, compensation and land, Harut Sasunyan, the owner and the editor of the California Courier, had indicated that it is time for passing to the other phases after recognition to the notables of the Armenian society at the USA.
While the Armenians, who forget that the Serves agreement was thrown at the garbage of the history with the national struggle and Anatolian revolution that were initiated by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, keep imagining on their obsessive expectations, it is worth reminding the respond of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to the telegram, which was sent to Erzurum on August 12th, 1919 by Colonel Selahattin, the commander of the 12th Army Corps and consisted the decisions that were taken by various parties to be given to the American delegation.
“The decisions that were taken by the various parties in Istanbul to be given to the American commission, was met with great regret at the representatives commission of the “Müdafaa-i Hukuk” Society in Erzurum. Even a span of land, where Turks and Kurds constitute the majority, would not be left to Armenians. The illusion, which puts forward that there is an intensive Armenian society around Erzincan and Sivas, arises from ignorance. The parties and the associations in Istanbul should see the limits of their authorities.”
As a result, the everlasting ambitions of the Armenians continues to harm the relations between Turkey and Armenia, which is attempted to be established with peaceful hopes, and to create desperation for a permanent solution.
How Would You Feel If You Woke Up One Morning To See An "X" Marked On Your Front Door? by Dogu Ergil email@example.com
The Jews of Nazi Germany must have felt the same way when they saw that mark on their door just before the pogrom that decimated 6 million of them. That is exactly how I felt when on Monday, April 7, I saw my name listed among those individuals and NGOs that had been marked as subversive by the office of the Chief of General Staff.
The duty of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is to defend the country from external enemies. That is why we give the best years of our lives for military duty (I personally gave two years of my youth right after university to serve as a reserve officer) -- even our lives when demanded -- and spend generously to maintain a strong army that refuses any fiscal control over its spending by civilian authorities.
Yet, the TSK has invented an "unlawful" duty of keeping an eye on and record of every individual and civic organization and then categorizing them as patriotic or "subversive." These lists are called "andic," which in military terminology means figures and organizations to be aware of -- and life is made hard for them. Who was put on the "andic" list that was recently publicized? You can see businessmen who have made it to the list of the word's richest entrepreneurs; renowned intellectuals; internationally acknowledged academics, etc. They have all been accused individually or as affiliates of NGOs working to disseminate the culture of democracy, reconciliation of different ethnic-cultural groups and peaceful methods of problem solving. Ah! They have yet another sin: They are all pro-Western. So they are accused of being cronies of either the EU or the US. Besides their motives they are also accused of receiving funds from the EU, European and American donor civic organizations to finance their activities. This is ironic because Turkey lives on borrowed money from foreign financial resources, and the TSK is one of the biggest recipients of contributions and credits from foreign military or government sources.
Among the foreign dignitaries listed are the former EU ambassador to Turkey, Ms. Karen Fogg, and former Secretary-General of the UN Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Mr. Costas Carras, a Greek businessmen and writer who participates in the Greek-Turkish Forum, which was formed to build bridges between the two nations. Among the suspicious businessmen are Mr. Rahmi Koç and Mr. Bülent and Mr. Nejat Eczacibasi, the executive heads of Turkey's biggest holdings. One of the three richest families in Turkey, the Sabanci family, is both listed as economic agents -- that is not in favor with the TSK -- but also as the founders of a liberal university (Sabanci University) that allows research into the history of Turkey with an enigmatic Armenian incident somewhere along the way.
Subversive universities are not limited to Sabanci only; the liberal and open-minded Bahçesehir and Bilgi universities have not escaped the wrath of the TSK. Needless to say, numerous national and international NGOs weigh heavy on the list of organizations with perverted motives: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Turkish Family Planning Association, the Turkish Women's Health Center, the McCormick Foundation and many more. The only link among these may be that they are independent organizations that are not driven by the directives of the Turkish state apparatus.
However, the coup de grâce of the list came with a subgroup called the Sabbataists. Sabbatai Zevi was a Jewish rabbi who lived in Ottoman Turkey in the 17th century and proclaimed himself a prophet. Upon the complaints of the Jewish leadership at the time that he was dividing the Jewish flock of the empire, he was forced to convert to Islam or face execution. He did convert, yet he never gave up his original religion. His followers also converted to Islam but remained loyal to Judaism. Lately, the nationalistic paranoia born out of enemies within and without, only to be seen by the nationalists, led to the rediscovery and exposure of Sabbataists as a fifth column among "pure" Turks.
The andic has revealed that the TSK have been infected with the psychology to see enemies everywhere, and made its own list of Sabbataist individuals and organizations. I am labeled as a Sabbataist because of my affiliation with TESEV. What these great researchers [sic] have missed is that my research titled "The Eastern Question" (published in 1995 on the Kurdish question of Turkey), which led to a great commotion in the society then, was not in fact sponsored by TESEV but the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB). These patriots have not done their homework well because my father was also an army staff officer. As a rule, religious minorities are not allowed into the military academies.
How could they miss things so badly, then? It's simple; their investigators are so blinded with the fear that the world they know, which provided for them handsomely, is slipping away from beneath their feet. It is time that they realize that the country they have taken an oath to protect is inhabited by people. These are real people with opinions, habits, preferences, expectations, fears and worries, not battalions under order. No one has the right or the privilege to reject the people -- our people. Sooner or later service people have to reconcile with them if they are going to serve them, as it is written in their institutional bylaws, rather protecting an abstract "motherland." Only then we will have a serving state instead of a master that dictates at will and reduces everyone to obedient subjects.
Baku Announces 53 Pct Rise In Army Spending
Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, in a tense armed standoff with neighbor Armenia, is to increase military spending by 53 percent this year, state media quoted President Ilham Aliyev as saying on Tuesday.
Azerbaijan fought a war in the 1990s with Armenia over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The two countries have never signed a peace treaty and Azerbaijan has not ruled out using force to restore its control over Nagorno-Karabakh. "In the past 4-5 years the military and defense budget of the country has risen from $150 million to $1.3 billion. However Azerbaijan's state budget over this period has risen ten-fold," the Azerbaijan newspaper quoted Aliyev as saying. "I believe that in the context of an overall increase in government spending, defence spending should be increased from $1.3 billion to $2 billion in 2008. Azerbaijan has great military potential and must strengthen this," he said. Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally-recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Since the war it and surrounding districts have been controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists who receive assistance from Armenia.
16.04.2008 Reuters Baku
What Is This Violence Within The Spirit Of The Human Kind?
Osman Coskun a hero of the Kayseri, who had died in 1958, described how the Armenian minorities, who were living in and around Kayseri made oppressions and tortures to Turks during the Salvation War, by cooperating with the invader France at his memories, which was published 50 years later from his death, as following:
(Second Ergenekon-While the Salvation War was Starting-GiTa Publication P: 112-113):
“This relocation (The Armenian Relocation in 1915) is being exaggerated so much! Turkish nation is claimed to be a cruel and wild monster for this reason. The official documents are in front of my eyes. In a town, where four thousand houses existed, most of the palace-like residences belonged to Armenians. The real owners of the country were living in damp and dirty huts. They were wealthy and they had money so they were living in prosperity. They possessed the best soils, most valuable vineyards and orchards. Trade and art activities were totally owned by them.
Always the tiring jobs were done by the Turks. If the Armenians lend Turks money, they charged heavy interest. They never lend money without a mortgage. Thousands of Turks traveled around the country and worked at heavy and difficult jobs for to be able to overcome their debts. They still could not get out of their debts and turned their most valuable soils, vineyards and orchards and cattle over them.”
“When we walk around at our villages, we realize that none of the valuable soil or agriculture belonged to a Turk. Our Armenian citizens did not buy these by paying their cost. They obtained those soils by putting the villagers into debt and leaving them under the pressure of heavy interest.
While it was enough for the Turks to live only with bread and cheese, the Armenians equipped their table with silver forks and spoons. While the Turks wear patched worn-out cloths, the Armenians wearing European style of cloths; they were dressing up their women with silk cloths. While the Turks could not find anything to put on the floor, the Armenians used silk carpets and curtains in addition to marble consoles.
They possessed all the wealth of the country.
…They lived Free, comfortable and wealthy life. On Mondays, they invaded water mills from Elbiz to Babayan, and from Kösk Pinar to Down Everek, and ate baked lambs, stuffed leafs, desserts and drank their “Raki”. They had fun with their daughters by listening to a lute, violin and a tambourine at every corner, and no one even looked at them.
They use to get around the villages without any hesitation with strong and healthy horses, which had golden embroidered caps and they consumed honey, cream and chicken.
They use to leave the saddlebags, which are full of gold, at one side of the room without any fear. Their lives, goods and honors were completely safe. They possessed an eternal freedom of conscience.”
Despite all of these, what have they done? The first bomb exploded at Everek. The first move for the rebellion had erupted here. Tashnak, Hinchak Committees were, actually, getting prepared to hit the Turk at the back…
The Armenians, who returned back with the Russians and the ones, who had not been relocated, killed their neighbors and friends cruelly, whom they coexisted at the East for centuries and who had treated them with tenderness. The Women and the children could not also escape from their rape. What I saw there was children, whose heads were crushed and women, whose breasts were cut.
The Armenians destroyed everything at the villages and towns they entered; they burned down everything. What could the government of those days do? Shouldn’t it think about the lives and future of its own nation? Or should it set up death camps like intellectual and civilized (!) Europeans and prevent this incident to happen? What other chance did she have besides relocation?
Following Osman Coskun witnesses the violence incidents, he wrote the following in his memories:
“Oh, my God! Are you the one, who encourage or lead the humankind to commit these horrible murders with your holy books or prophets? What is this violence at the spirit of the humankind? Why have you created the humankind like this, my God?”
Let’s not forget those painful days!
Rahmi Turan-Hürriyet Gazetesi-07.04.2008 www.soykirimgercegi.com
An Unexpected Attempt Of The Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times, which is published in the USA and generally known to be defending Armenian viewpoints, has listened to the Turkish representatives of the Turkish society living in the USA on the 1915 incidents for the first time and allocated a space for a comprehensive editorial, which presented the Turkish viewpoints.
It is a well-known fact that the newspaper, which addresses mostly the inhabitants of the California state, frequently brings the Armenian viewpoints at this state, where the great majority of Armenians inhabit in the USA.
The editors of the newspaper have come together with the authorities of the Association for the Turkish American Assembly for the first time and published the opinions of Nurten Ural, the head for the Association for the Turkish American Assembly, who represents the Turkish origin American citizens and Ahmet Atahan, the head for the Southern California Turkish American Association.
Ural stated that the newspaper opposed characterizing the 1915 incidents as genocide for it is not a genocide, and many Armenians had died during that period, which is extremely sad, but the fact that many Turks besides Muslims had also died at the same period of time, should not be disregarded and these incidents always happen during a wartime.
Expressing that Turkey has called for opening her archives to the historians, Ural said: “What we do not like is politicians’ attempt for re-writing the history without knowing anything.”
Ural stated that the Armenian origin American citizens and Turkish origin American citizens discuss this issue from time to time, where same music, same food and culture are shared.
Saying that “We need these to be discussed openly and the history to be left behind”, Ural stated that one of the matters that distressed him, is the attempt for implanting hatred to children.
Pointing out that there are differences of stance between the Armenian children, who are born in Anatolia and the children Armenian origin Americans, Ahmet Atahan noted the following:
“Let’s forget the past and come to the current time. Presently, there are people, who were expelled from Iraq and a series of deaths. In couple of years, will some people ask: “Americans have given a rise to a great loss in Iraq. Is this genocide?” If you consider the causes, you will reply as following: “This is wartime and it happens.” Nevertheless, if you put the emotions on the table and you do not think about its realistic outcome, then, of course, the picture will totally be different.”
Answering a question on why the Armenians dwell upon this subject, Nuten Ural responded as: “Land and compensation” and Atahan as: “It is not only the land but giving a certain kind of sentiment to an eighteen-year-old young man for being an Armenian at the present day.”
Atahan said: “For to be able to preserve this hatred and an identity, they are using it as a tool for financial earnings.”
Anadolu Agency-03.04.2008 www.soykirimgercegi.com
Tibet Exposes Genocidal Australian Human Rights Abuses by By Dr Gideon Polya
15 April, 2008, Countercurrents.org
Australia and other Western nations have been properly chiding China for human rights abuses in Tibet. However Australia has an appalling human rights record as assessed by the horrendous avoidable deaths of its domestic and overseas Indigenous subjects. Indeed White Australia’s appalling and genocidal human rights record has prompted formal complaint to the ICC over Australia’s involvement in ongoing Aboriginal, Iraqi, Afghan and Climate Genocides.
Because of the absence of outside reporters it is difficult to assess what is actually happening in Tibet. According to a March 30 News.com report: “Exiled Tibetan leaders have put the death toll from the Chinese crackdown at between 135 and 140 Tibetans, with another 1000 people injured and many detained” (see: www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,23454758-23109,00.html ). On April 10 the Dalai Lama claimed that “hundreds” had been killed (see: www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2007/s2213780.htm ).
Amnesty International criticized China over human rights abuses in Tibet in a recent statement to the UN Human Rights Council (see: action.amnesty.org.au/news/comments/11342/ ). In short, Amnesty International recognized the right and duty of China to protect all citizens from violence but expressed concern over past abuses (including lethal force and torture of detainees), the exclusion of independent human rights monitors from Tibet and its fears for human rights abuses in Tibet.
QUOTE: “We are deeply concerned at human rights violations during recent events in the Autonomous Region of Tibet and neighbouring regions.
Read our oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council:
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at human rights violations during recent events in the Autonomous Region of Tibet and neighbouring regions.
Initial protests by Tibetans in these regions appear to have been peaceful and suppressed in violation of protesters' right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including through excessive use of force.
Amnesty International is aware that protests later turned violent, with individuals apparently attacked solely for their ethnic identity, resulting in death, injury and damage to property. Amnesty International condemns such attacks unreservedly, and acknowledges the Chinese authorities' right and duty to protect all individuals against violence.
However, Amnesty International is concerned that in restoring order, the Chinese authorities have resorted to measures which violate international human rights law and standards. These have reportedly included excessive use of force, including lethal force and arbitrary detentions.
Amnesty International has previously documented a pattern of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in Tibet by China's security forces, especially those accused by the Chinese authorities of "separatist" activities. Moreover, China has long banned independent human rights monitors from Tibet, and the region is now virtually sealed. For these reasons AI fears for the safety of those recently detained.
Amnesty International calls on the Human Rights Council to address the human rights situation in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and in the neighbouring provinces which have experienced unrest. Amnesty International also calls on the Chinese authorities to:
- release all those detained solely for peaceful protest;
- fully respect the rights of all persons to freedom of expression, association and assembly;
-avoid unnecessary and excessive use of force in restoring order and protecting individuals and property;
- fully account for those detained, ensuring they will not be ill-treated and are released unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offences and remanded by an independent court;
- ensure that all killings, violent assaults and other attacks on persons and property are investigated promptly, independently and effectively, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators and the victims, and that suspected perpetrators are prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and are without the imposition of the death penalty;
- allow independent UN scrutiny into the current human rights situation in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring provinces;
- grant unimpeded access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and neighbouring provinces for journalists and other independent observers.
Beyond these immediate concerns, Amnesty International calls on the Council to urge the Chinese authorities to address Tibetans' long-term grievances, including restrictions on religious practice, persecution for exercising their freedoms of expression, association and assembly, government policies that have weakened their culture and ethnic identity, and perceived exclusion from the benefits of economic development.” END QUOTE
The Australian PM Rudd has acknowledged China’s sovereignty over Tibet – as has the Dalai Lama – but has been touring the world criticizing Chinese human rights abuses. Addressing more than 500 students students at Peking University, Rudd stated (in Mandarin): "Australia like most other countries, recognises China's sovereignty over Tibet. But we also believe it is necessary to recognise there are significant human rights problems in Tibet . . . the current situation in Tibet is of concern to Australians” (see: www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23514546-661,00.html ).
The Chinese response has been an official rebuke delivered while PM Rudd was visiting China : “"Tibet is purely an internal affair and none of the foreign countries or other groups has any right to interfere" (see: www.theage.com.au/news/national/butt-out-china-tells-rudd/2008/04/10/1207420591291.html ).
For an Australian academic summary of the current Tibet situation in April 2008 see: www.newsroom.uts.edu.au/events/detail.cfm?event_item=10310 .
For decent humans who believe that “all Men are created equal and have an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit if happiness”, one key, baseline measure of human rights adherence is “under-5 year old infant mortality” that can be expressed as “annual death rate percentage” (the percentage of under-5 year olds dying each year) or “under-5 year old infant deaths per 1,000 births”.
The UN ESCAP (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) has used data from the China Population Information and Research Centre (CPIRC) to estimate infant death rates in China (see: www.unescap.org/esid/psis/population/database/chinadata/intro.htm ) and in Tibet (see: www.unescap.org/esid/psis/population/database/chinadata/tibet.htm ).According to ESCAP the overall mortality rate has fallen from 28 per 1,000 in the 1950s to 6.60 per 1,000 in 2000; there was a wide gap between urban and rural people in the death rates; mortality at all ages in Tibet was much higher than the national average; and in 1990, life expectancy in Tibet had reached 59.64 years, 57.64 for male and 61.57 for female. The life expectancy for China as a whole was 67.5 in 1990 and is now (2005-2010) about 73 years as compared to 67 for Tibet (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ).
China has made enormous progress in reducing excess deaths (avoidable deaths) both in Tibet and China as a whole (see: “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/1375/247/ and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ).
According to the UN ESCAP the infant mortality rate [“under-5 infant deaths per 1,000 births”] in Tibet had fallen from 430 per 1,000 in 1951, 91.8 per 1,000 in 1990 to 35.3 per 1,000 by the year 2000 – as compared to 34 for China as a whole in 2000 according to the UN Population Division (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ). Dr Sonal Singh wrote in The Lancet (The Lancet 2004; 364:1009, “Tears from the land of snow: health and human rights in Tibet”): “Infant mortality rates at 92 per 1000 live births and maternal mortality rates at 20 per 10000 in the TAR were nearly three times those in the Chinese population in the 1990s” but this has evidently improved according to the UN ESCAP statistics quoted above. However it must be cautioned that medical services are better in urban areas (that have a higher Han Chinese population) than in rural areas (where there is a much higher Indigenous Tibetan population). Further, these statistics are for the Tibetan Autonomous region rather than for Indigenous Tibetans. Independent scrutiny as advocated by Amnesty International is urgently required.
Consulting the “World Population Prospects: the 2006 Revision Population Database” of the UN Population Division (see: http://esa.un.org/unpp/ ) we find that for 2007 (2005-2010) the “under-5 year old infant deaths per 1,000 births” is 29 (for China, and a similar value for Tibet as indicated by UN ESCAP data) as compared to values in China’s “good outcome” neighbours of Russia (21), Vietnam (23) and Kazakhstan (29) and in its “poor outcome neighbours” of Mongolia (54), Kyrgyzstan (64), North Korea (65), Bhutan (65), Laos (67), Nepal (72), Tajikistan (78), India (79), Myanmar (97) and US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan (235).
By way of comparison for 2007 the “under-5 year old infant deaths per 1,000 births” were in the range 5 - 8 for the US (8), Australia (6) and other Western Occupiers of Afghanistan.
These infant mortality statistics can also be presented as “annual under-5 year old death rate percentage” (the percentage of under-5 year olds dying each year) which for 2007 was 0.61% for China (and similar to this for Tibet according to ESCAP data) as compared to values in China’s “good outcome” neighbours of Russia (0.44%), Vietnam (0.47%) and Kazakhstan (0.66%) and in its “poor outcome neighbours” of Mongolia (1.14%), Kyrgyzstan (1.43%), North Korea (1.28%), Bhutan (1.28%), Laos (1.46%), Nepal (1.56%), Tajikistan (1.68%), India (1.69%), Myanmar (2.09%) and US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan (6.15%).
By way of comparison, for 2007 the “annual under-5 year old death rate percentage” was in the range 0.10% - 0.16% for the US (0.16%), Australia (0.12%) and other Western Occupiers of China’s neighbour Occupied Afghanistan.
Now the Ruler is responsible for the Ruled and there is a moral obligation of a Ruler to do everything possible to preserve the health and lives of subject citizens. However International Law via Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (see: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/92.htm ) is quite explicit in demanding that the “Occupying Power” does everything it can “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” to ensure food, medical supplies, and health of the population.
Australia, the US, the UK and their allies have been patently FAILING to meet these obligations in Occupied Afghanistan and indeed in Occupied Iraq as reflected in huge post-invasion under-5 infant deaths totalling 2.3 million and 0.6 million, respectively; post-invasion excess deaths (avoidable deaths) totalling 3-7 million and about 2 million, respectively; and refugees totalling 4 million and 4.5 million, respectively (see: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/21138/42/ ).
Key evidence of this sustained, remorseless, war criminal US Alliance failure to provide life-sustaining requisites is given by the World Health Organization (WHO). Consult WHO (see: www.who.int/en/ ) and you will discover that the “annual total per capita medical expenditure” permitted in Occupied Iraq by the US Coalition is $135 (2004) as compared to $19 (Occupied Afghanistan), $2,560 (UK), $3,123 (Australia) and $6,096 (the US) (see: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/17139/42/ ).
If we want to reliably quantitate “human rights abuses” we could use the ratio of “annual infant death rate” in the Occupied Country to that in the Occupier country. In relation to Occupied Afghanistan and its Occupier White Australia this “Occupied/Occupier infant death ratio” is 6.15%/0.12% = 51.3 and in relation to Occupied Iraq and Occupier Australia the ratio is 2.32%/0.12% = 19.3 – whereas the ratio for Tibet infant death rate /China infant death rate is roughly 1 (i.e. equality).
For the US, the world’s #1 terrorist state, the Occupied/Occupier infant death rate ratio for Occupied Afghanistan is 6.15%/0.16% = 38.4 and 2.32%/0.16% = 14.5 in relation to Occupied Iraq.
On this measure, war criminal White Australia is currently the world’s worst human rights abuser by far.
Australia is currently loud in its criticism of Chinese human rights abuses in Tibet (thereby pleasing Australian and Western humanitarians and Bush-ites simultaneously). Chinese human rights abuses are no doubt occurring in Tibet and should be urgently addressed as indicated by Amnesty International – but it is gross hypocrisy of war criminal Australia to buy into this issue without reference to its own actions.
Genocide is defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention as follows (see: www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/genocide/convention.html ): “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
You can therefore understand why I have recently made a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) (see: www.countercurrents.org/polya030308.htm and climateemergency.blogspot.com/2008/02/formal-complaint-to-international.html ) over Australian involvement in Aboriginal Genocide (90,000 excess deaths in the last 11 years; Indigenous population now 0.5 million); Iraqi Genocide (post-invasion excess deaths 1.7-2.2 million; 4.5 million refugees); Afghan Genocide (post-invasion excess deaths 3.3-6.6 million; 4 million refugees); and Climate Genocide (16 million people die avoidably from deprivation annually and this is increasingly climate change impacted; Australia is one of the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluters; over 6 billion are predicted by Professor James Lovelock FRS to perish this century from unaddressed global warming).
Australia has been described by John Pilger as America’s Asian sheriff (see: www.newstatesman.com/200803060031 ) – and indeed Australia in its Orwellian and Goebellsian criticism of China over Tibet can be seen to be acting as America’s puppet. This gross hypocrisy by genocidal White Australia can be seen as America’s Pot calling the China Kettle black.
Dr Gideon Polya published some 130 works in a 4 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). He has just published “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://mwcnews.net/content/view/1375/247/ and http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contribution “Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality” in “Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics” (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007): www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm
Normalization Of Armenian-Turkish Relations Unlikely In Near Future
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations is hardly possibly during Serzh Sargsyan's presidency, a Russian expert said.
"Armenia's new President will never agree to Ankara's ultimatums," said Mikhail Alexandrov, head of the Caucasus Department at Russia's CIS Institute.
"I do not think that Armenia should feel Turkey's tough position keenly. It can develop the economy by means of strengthening cooperation with other countries in the region," he said, reminding about Turkey intention "to open the border and establish diplomatic relations only after withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azeri territories," Strana.ru reports.
There are currently no formal diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, which demands to stop the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during the WWI when some 1.5 million of Armenians were slaughtered.
Turkey has also taken a pro-Azeri position on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and has kept the Armenian border closed since 1993.
Baku Can Accuse Israel Of Genocide Against Palestinians
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ A document about Israel's genocidal policy against Palestinians can be put on discussion in Milli Mejlis, said Fazil Gazanfaroglu, chairman of the Great Revival opposition party and a member of parliament.
He said that the document developed by him wasn't submitted to the parliament not to damage the Azerbaijan-Israel relations.
"If Israel recognizes the Armenian Genocide, we will do our utmost to pass the document about the genocide committed by Israelis against Palestinians and Israel will be responsible for such a measure," Gazanfaroglu said.
He voiced assurance that his counterparts will support him. "The motion will be first submitted to the Human Rights Commission. I believe all members of the parliament contributing to the national interests will support it," he said, the Azeri Press Agency reports.
Ruben Safrastyan: Turkey May Review Its Approaches On Armenian-Turkish Relations
Serzh Sargsyan's pre-election statements on establishment of Armenian-Turkish relations without any preconditions and holding open discussions received a positive reaction both in the West and in Turkey, Director of the Oriental Studies Institute of RA National Academy of Sciences, Turkologist Ruben Safrastyan told a press conference today. He added that this is proven by Turkish President Abdullah Gul's congratulation to Serzh Sargsyan on his victory in the presidential elections.
Besides, according to Ruben Safrastyan, if the "Justice and Development" Party remains in power, it's not ruled out that official Ankara may reconsider its approaches on establishing relations with Armenia. The Turkologist reminded the words of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan that the economic, no t the political interests should be taken into consideration in Armenian-Turkish relations.
ANCA Outlines Bush Administration’s Failing On Armenia Issues
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has outlined the Armenian American community’s concerns regarding the Bush Administration’s seven-year record of largely counterproductive, frequently unfriendly, and, at times, antagonistic policies toward Armenia and the Armenian American community.
The April 4th letter, signed by ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, listed thirteen areas in which the President and his Administration fell short of both their own commitments and our nation’s basic human rights standards, retreated from America’s historic commitment to Armenia, and strained – through a series of ill-advised policies and often hostile actions - the enduring ties that have long bound together the American and Armenian peoples. The following points are covered in significant detail in the 6-page letter, the full text of which is provided below:
1) The President's broken campaign pledge to recognize the Armenian Genocide
2) Opposition to the Congressional Genocide Resolution
3) The Evans firing and the Hoagland nominations
4) The waiver of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act
5) Reduction in aid to Armenia
6) Abandonment of the military aid parity agreement
7) Mistaken listing of Armenia as a terrorist country
8) Lack of U.S.-Armenia Presidential visitations
9) Failure to confront the desecration of the Djulfa cemetery
10) Failure to maintain a balanced policy on Nagorno Karabakh
11) Taxpayer financing of the Baku-Ceyhan bypass of Armenia
12) Failure to effectively pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to end their blockades
13) Neglect of relations with the Armenian American community
Over the course of the past seven years, the ANCA has repeatedly requested, to no avail, the opportunity to meet with the President and his Secretary of State to discuss these and other issues of concern to Armenian Americans. This most recent ANCA letter, once again, asks for such a meeting, inviting the Secretary of State to visit with the collective leadership of the Armenian American community to discuss U.S. foreign policy toward Armenia and the surrounding region over the remaining months of the Bush Administration.
Turks Can Only Blame Themselves For Not Joining The European Union By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
A major controversy has been brewing for some time throughout Europe about the wisdom of admitting Turkey to the European Union.
Most Europeans oppose Turkey's membership either out of prejudice or because of irreconcilable legal, political, economic and cultural differences. Turkish leaders, rather than exerting the necessary effort to bring their country into compliance with EU requirements, have taken the easy way out by criticizing Europe for being anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim.
In order to pressure the EU to accept Turkey as is, Turkish leaders have adopted the clever tactic of putting the sole blame on the Europeans rather than on their own inability and unwillingness to make the necessary changes. Turks have repeatedly claimed that Europeans have prevented them from joining the EU ever since 1963, when their country first became an associate member of the European Economic Community (the predecessor to the EU). What the Turks don't say is that the lengthy delay has been due to their lack of compliance with EU requirements, not to mention the overthrow of the elected government by the military on three occasions. The Turks can only blame themselves for their inability to join the EU during all those years.
There are two basic reasons for Turks' lack of interest to comply with EU requirements: First, almost half the Turkish public is opposed to joining the EU. Turkey is a nation that is split into many diametrically opposed political, religious and ethnic factions. There is even a pending case in the Constitutional Court to outlaw the ruling political party and remove the President and Prime Minister from office.
As a result, Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan has a serious dilemma. He wants Turkey to join the EU in order to safeguard his party's rule from radical nationalists and military hardliners, without making too many concessions to the Europeans, lest he be accused of catering to the enemies of the Turkish way of life. Consequently, he has been doing his best to appear as if he is making the required changes in Turkish laws without actually doing so. A good example of this political acrobatics is Article 301 of the penal code which criminalizes "insulting Turkishness" and stifles freedom of speech. This article is frequently used by nationalist prosecutors to silence all those who make any reference to the Armenian Genocide.
For the past 3 years, Erdogan has been continuously promising to change this draconian law at the insistence of EU officials. With each promise, Turkey gets accolades from gullible Europeans. Last week, once again, Erdogan announced that the Turkish Parliament will "soon" amend Article 301 which would in effect keep this controversial article in the penal code, while convincing the Europeans that Turkey is bringing its laws up to EU standards.
In the April 10th issue of the Turkish newspaper, "Today's Zaman," E. Baris Altintas wrote that even if Article 301 is completely removed, the penal code includes many other articles that would continue to stifle free speech. The author mentioned the following examples of other repressive laws:
-- Article 115 bans declaring one's religious, social, political and philosophical beliefs;
-- Article 125: committing crimes against dignity;
-- Article 216: inciting people to hatred and hostility;
-- Article 217: provoking people to disobey the law;
-- Article 220: propagating an outlawed organization;
-- Article 222: banning the use of Kurdish letters q, x, and w;
-- Article 263: education in violation of the law;
-- Article 288: making public statements about an ongoing court case;
-- Article 299: uttering insults against the President;
-- Article 300: denigrating symbols of the sovereignty of the state;
-- Article 304: provoking foreign officials to declare war against Turkey or insult it;
-- Article 305: engaging in deeds against fundamental national benefits;
-- Article 309: attempting to overthrow the regime of the Turkish Republic;
-- Article 311: attempting to overthrow by violence the Turkish Parliament;
-- Article 318: discouraging the public from serving in the army;
-- Article 323: printing false news stories; and
-- Article 341: denigrating the flag of a foreign country.
Erdal Dogan, a lawyer for Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul a year ago, was quoted by "Today's Zaman" as stating that even if all of these problematic articles were removed, nothing much would change in the Turkish judiciary. Certainly, nothing would change in Turkish society.
If Article 301 is any indication - which is still not amended after 3 years
-- it would take more than 50 years for Turkey just to amend the above 17 articles. Of course, joining the EU would take even longer!
The fact is that Turkey has not been able to join and probably won't be able to join the EU in the foreseeable future, not because of European opposition, but due to Turkey's "deep state," radical nationalists and millions of its citizens who have no interest in adopting democratic European values!
"It Is Not Excluded That Turkey Reconsiders Its Approaches In Establishing Relations With Armenia," Ruben Safrastian Believes
Yerevan, April 10, Noyan Tapan. The statements of Serge Sargsian in the pre-election period about establishing Armenian-Turkish relations without preconditions and holding open discussions, had a positive response both in the west and in the very Turkey. This was mentioned by Ruben Safrastian at the press conference, which was held on April 10, who also added that the evidence of that response is the congratulatory telegram sent by Abdullah Gul, the President of Turkey, to Serge Sargsian on the occasion of being elected. In addition to this, according to Ruben Safrastian, if the Justice and Development party preserves its ruling positions, it is not excluded that the official Ankara will reconsider its approaches in establishing relations with Armenia. The Turkologist also reminded the words of Ali Babajan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, according to which economic and not political interests should be taken into consideration in Armenian-Turkish relations.
Touching upon the home political situation of Turkey, Ruben Safrastian mentioned that the permanent struggle between Kemals and Islamists has been moved to a legal sphere. The Kemals, according to him, have been trying since March 14 to hit the Islamist Justice and Development party, striving for reaching the stopping of the activities of that political force for at least five years. The ruling party in its turn, in the prevision of Ruben Safrastian, will try to avoid that danger in a few ways. In particular, they will try to speed up the European integration process, which in the past years was considerably slowed down. In addition to this, the Justice and Development party will also try to come to a certain compromise with Kemals, thus keeping away from amending the Constitution, which was considered to be the main objective of that party. And finally, according to Ruben Safrastian, in case of stopping, the members of the Justice and Development will penetrate into smaller parties and will again come to power through making them bigger. Negotiations with the above-mentioned small political forces on that very subject have already started.
What Is The Crime Armenians Committed? Arthur Hovhannisyan
Hayots Ashkhar Daily, April 12, 2008, Armenia
Recently a piece of noteworthy information has been published in `Hayots Ashkharh' and `Golos Armenii' dailies regarding the meeting and secret negotiations between L. Ter-Petrosyan and the leader of `Grey Wolves' (`Nationalistic Movement' Party) Alparslan Tyurkesh. Many details of the meeting in hotel `Grillon' in Concord Square in Paris, on March 1993, are still unknown.
Anyhow 12 years after the before mentioned meeting, on March and April, 2005 the series of articles in Turkish `Milliet' include important information regarding the contacts and deals between Alparslan Tyurkesh and his son Tughrul Tyurkesh and Levon and Telman Ter-Petrosyans.
According to our information from the Turkish side Turkish Ambassador Bleda, Secretary of the Embassy Menter Shahinler, as well as the son of the leader of `Grey Wolves' Tughrul Tyurkesh and from Armenian side former Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan and Jirayr Liparityan, considered as a `gray cardinal' in the administration of the former President, also participated in the before mentioned negotiations.
Quoting Samson Eozararat, (an Armenian or considering himself an Armenian born in Turkey), who used to be in close cooperation with L. Ter-Petrosyan `Milliet' reported details about the meetings, kept in secret before. Eozararat underscored that during the discussions A. Tyurkesh has mainly introduced Ankara's official stance and Ter-Petrosyan mentioned that he has many times heard the arguments of the Turks.
By the way the Turks were shocked, when Levon Ter-Petrosyan wished the best to Tyurkesh's son in Turkish language. They were shocked not because of the fact of wishing well but because of his perfect knowledge of Turkish language. In Levon Ter-Petrosyan's letter addressed to Turkey, published in ''Jumhuriet'' in 1995 the before mentioned wishes were warmer: ''We express our friendly and warm feelings towards the Turkish people.''
In his interview given to ''Milliet'', Jirayr Liparityan, one of the participants of the before mentioned meeting, who was the key responsible for the foreign policy of the former authorities, underscored that the meeting between Levon Ter-Petrosyan and A. Tyurkesh was of great significance in the path of interstate relations. He said there has been no disagreement between L. Ter-Petrosyan and Foreign Minister Vahan Papazyan in their negotiations with Turkish officials.
As reported by ''Milliet'', quoting Samson Eozararat, a little after the meeting the two sides discussed the issue of building a monument dedicated to the victims of 1915 (notice: not the Genocide of 1915, but simply 1915) on Armenian Turkish border. The most noteworthy thing is that they were planning to write: `We mourn for the pain we caused': in Turkish - on the side looking at Armenia and in Armenian - on the side looking at Turkey.
I wonder what pain did Armenians cause to Turkish people? What crime did we commit, which is equal to Armenian Genocide? Meanwhile it is not difficult to notice, that by participating in similar discussions and by giving his agreement regarding the construction of the before mentioned monument L. Ter-Petrosyan, as a President of Armenia, has, in fact, played into the hands of Turkey's foreign policy and advocacy and the latter is shamelessly introducing Turks as the victims of the Genocide and the Armenians - as those who committed that Genocide.
On February 23, 1995, Jirayr Liparityan visited Turkey, where he met with Tughrul Tyurkesh in Hotel `Hilton' in Ankara. It's worth mentioning that the meeting that started at 22.45 p.m. finished at 02.00 a.m.
`Milliet' also touched upon Samson Eozararat's visit to Yerevan and the fact that he returned to Turkey from our capital city by the closed border. It is noteworthy that the secret envoy didn't have any problems with the border-guards of the both sides. Most probably his departure from Armenia has been realized by Levon Ter-Petrosyan's direct mediation.
“What Kind of a Country is Turkey? by Murat BELGE
April 16, 2008
Since the discovery of her body, the rape and murder of the Italian artist became the subject of almost all top stories in Turkey. Radikal's headline was also the following: “What kind of a country is this?” A right question…
Dreadful, disgusting… A young person, who dedicated herself to a certain aim and embarked on a journey to make it real; a worldview that made her a volunteer for such an act; an endless love for humanity; and a unique understanding of ethics…And given all these, alas, the very “understanding” of that creature who murdered her…
Relatives of the murdered person, too, do share, and definitely, live similar values. And that's why they say, “this is just an individually committed act by a ‘wretched' psycho. Blaming Turkey only through looking at such an individual incident would be wrong.” This is certainly true. But is it 100 percent pure truth? Isn't that famous “individual case,” a cliché that we'd love to utter whenever we encounter such situations, anything but a pure camouflage of the very “non-individual cases” most of the time?
Not long ago, Alanya became famous for its rape cases. And the victims were generally the Dutch. Then appeared some of our “citizens” that applauded the crap men who committed those acts. Now, I recall that, on one of those days, upon the quick release of one of those “individual psychos” after being held in custody as short as two days, the Dutch prince, or princess-whoever I forgot-canceled his (or her) visit to Turkey.
Weird enough, we act, most of the time, quite fast and highly carefully in arresting and heavily punishing those who attack foreigners in such ways. Perhaps this is because we do not want the whole world to remember us with such cases (oh yes, this is what we have always cared about). But here, too, there is this type of correlation resembling the one between killing the mosquito and drying the marsh: Because the roots of the attack committed by those “individual psychos” lie in the very general ideology. Such attacks are mostly committed against the “ecnebi” or “ajnabee,” the foreigner, and the “gavur,” the infidel, and hence, just because this is so, they do not even seem like indictable offenses to the eyes of a considerably large group living in this country. The psycho of the last case does have a criminal record. But this guy definitely does not attempt “raping” others in a perpetual manner. Such instincts in him are stimulated only when he finds someone “Italian.” Because a “gavur” is already a “prostitute” by birth.
Persons who are products of that type of mentality (!) do not necessarily have to have an inclination for a “sexual” crime only. Can one tell me how much different is this last incident from the Santoro murder, the Malatya case, the episode in which the pure-hearted patriotic son of the motherland burst into elation and cried, “I have killed the Armenian!” and again the same episode, in which some officials were having their photographs taken with the young hero killing the Armenian.
Parents of the youngster that murdered priest Santoro were recorded in history with their words that can be interpreted as, “If our child had murdered an imam, everyone would keep their strict silence, but just because he murdered a priest, they have raised the devil.” So, one wonders, were these people more “individual Turks” while they were uttering such words.
Okay, they were the mother and the father of the one who committed the murder. And it is something expectable that they try to protect their “baby” in someway or another. But still, all these “babies” are, somehow, given the red carpet treatment and are taken to the bosoms by some masses at the very moment they appear at the jail door when set free. Ah yes, we are used to such chorus, aren't we. Let me remind you of one more. “He was born in Malatya and he shot the Pope!”
Yet, there might not be anyone who goes to greet our latest folk hero in front of the prison since he went behind the bars for he committed a disgraceful, “infamous crime” not a successful act, a “source of pride” that others have committed so far. But as long as that general ideology continues to exist and its existence continues to be supported, it will not be an epitome, and ones akin to it will surely rise until history comes to an end. If this solid instigation of nationalism and the blatant xenophobia will keep going on in an escalating way, then, it would not be any surprise if one rises to congratulate him and even present him a “plaque.” As an “award for ridding the world of one Italian…”
Murat Belge's article was published in Radikal daily and was translated by TDN staff
A New Era In Armenia by Ömer Engin LÜTEM
15 April 2008, ERAREN
The new president of Armenia Sezh Sarkisyan officially assumed presidency. The strict controls of the security forces in the square that the presidential ceremony took place were the result of bloody incidents after the presidential elections and reflected the fear of an orange revolution in Armenia.
During the presidency of Kocharian, opening of Armenia to the world, maintenance of rapid economic development, and lack of governmental crisis except for a few occurrences in his first presidential years resulted in a considerable degree of stability in Armenia. When looked from outside, Armenia was seen as governed by a freely elected parliament and a government with an independent media; however, in reality, Armenia was administered by a small clique convened around Kocharian and Sarkisyan, which has been quite intolerant to criticisms and which developed closer relations with business circles.
Indeed, it has persistently been argued that in the Armenian foreign policy, the principle of “complementarity” has been pursued, meaning that Armenia should develop its relations with the US and the EU as well as with Russia. However, during Kocharian’s presidency Armenian dependence to Russia became more evident. Russia, which has enriched as a result of increase in oil prices during the last three years, benefited from privatization in Armenia and bought many facilities particularly in the field of energy; therefore, it gained a significant supremacy in Armenian economy. Therefore, in any important initiative or decision the consent of Russia is required. Being aware of this fact, Ter Petrosyan tried to convince Russia in supporting his presidential candidacy; however, Moscow clearly expressed its preference of Sarkisyan.
The US and the EU, on the other hand, tried to attract Armenia to the Western world, as they have been doing for Georgia and Ukraine. Although Armenia joined American Millennium Challenge aid program, NATO’s Partnership Action Plan and EU’s European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan in accordance with the principle of “complementarity”, there has been no significant change in the orientation of Armenian foreign policy, and as mentioned above, its relations with Russia have even consolidated more.
During the presidency of Kocharian, there has not been a major change in the Armenian foreign policy towards resolution of its conflicts with Azerbaijan and Turkey. The most important reason of this is that Kocharian has been supported by the extreme nationalists of Armenia, particularly by the Tashnaks. What is more, unlike Ter Petrosyan, Kocharian has developed close relations with the Armenian Diaspora, in which extreme nationalist movements dominate. Any solution of the problems with Turkey and Azerbaijan is dependent on Armenia’s abandonment of its irreconcilable attitude; however, since extreme nationalists have been against any kind of concession, Kocharian has avoided from resolving its foreign policy disputes. However, this resulted in isolation of Armenia in the Southern Caucasus.
Indeed, new president Sarkisyan gave the indication before the elections that he would particularly work for the resolution of Karabagh conflict; however, the incidents that occurred on March 1, the suppression of opposition through use of force, which resulted in 8 casualties and almost 70 injuries, and continuation of demonstrations despite subsequent declaration of state of emergency have weakened his position. Therefore, probably the new president would give primacy to the provision of domestic security and order and then he would possibly focus on foreign policy issues.
"Armenia Accounts For Nearly 150 Political Prisoners" Levon Ter Petrosyan
15 April 2008, Today Az
"Armenia accounts for nearly 150 political prisoners", said first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan. According to him he does not know any other country "CoE member, which has political prisoners". "All my trustees and leaders of my teams are arrested. Some of them are obliged to hide.
Moreover, the leaders of villages, where I won, are dismissed. The dismissed are also the chairmen of electoral commissions, at whose points I have won. Tens of people, who were civilly active, are invited to the police. They are beaten, dismissed and their businesses are ruined.
I will form a certain public opinion so that not to recognize these authorities. For this purpose we will use all possible and legal means", said Ter-Petrosyan.
Turkey’s Turning Point :Could there be an Islamic Revolution in Turkey? By Michael Rubin
April 14, 2008
Few U.S. policymakers have heard of Fethullah Gülen, perhaps Turkey’s most prominent theologian and political thinker. Self-exiled for more than a decade, Gülen lives a reclusive life outside Philadelphia, Pa. Within months, however, he may be as much a household a name in the United States as is Ayatollah Khomeini, a man who was as obscure to most Americans up until his triumphant return to Iran almost 30 years ago.
Many academics and journalist embrace Gülen and applaud his stated vision welding Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Supporters describe him as progressive. In 2003, the University of Texas honored him as a “peaceful hero,” alongside Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama. Last October, the British House of Lords and several British diplomats celebrated Gülen at a high-profile London conference. Later this year, Georgetown University scholar John Esposito will host a conference dedicated to the movement. As in 2001, Esposito will cosponsor with the Rumi Forum, an organization Gülen serves AS honorary president.
The Gülen movement controls charities, real estate, companies, and more than a thousand schools internationally. According to some estimates, the Gülen Movement controls several billion dollars. The movement claims its own universities, unions, lobbies, student groups, radio and television stations, and the Zaman newspaper. Turkish officials concede that Gülen’s followers in Turkey number more than a million; Gülen’s backers claim that number is just the tip of the iceberg. Today, Gülen members dominate the Turkish police and divisions within the interior ministry. Under the stewardship of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of Gülen’s most prominent sympathizers, tens of thousands of other Gülen supporters have entered the Turkish bureaucracy.
While Gülen supporters jealously guard his image in the West, he remains a controversial figure in Turkey. According to Cumhuriyet, a left-of-center establishment daily — Turkey’s New York Times in 1973, the Izmir State Security Court convicted Gülen of “attempting to destroy the state system and to establish a state system based on religion;” he received a pardon, though, and so never served time in prison. In 1986, the Turkish military — the constitutional guardians of the state’s secularism — purged a Gülen cell from the military academy; the Turkish military has subsequently acted against a number of other alleged Gülen cells who they say infiltrated military ranks.
In 1998, according to Turkish court transcripts cited in the Turkish Daily News, Gülen urged followers in the judiciary and state bureaucracy to “work patiently to take control of the state.” The following year, the independent Turkish television station ATV broadcast a secretly taped Gülen telling supporters, “If they . . . come out early, the world will squash their heads. They will make Muslims relive events in Algeria,” a reference to the Islamic Salvation Front’s overwhelming 1991 election victory in the North African state. After party leaders spoke of voiding the constitution and implementing Islamic law, the Algerian military staged a coup leading to a civil conflict that killed tens of thousands.
Because of his statements and veiled threats, the judiciary in 1998 charged Gülen with trying to “undermine the secular system” while “camouflag[ing] his methods with a democratic and moderate image.” Convicted in absentia, but free to run his organized from his U.S. exile, Gülen continues a rather inconsistent approach to tolerance and secularism. He often equates the separation of religion and state with atheism, an assertion many of Turkey’s most secular officials find offensive: Believing that religion is best kept to the individual rather than state sphere does not equate with any lack of belief in God. In 2004, Gülen equated atheism with terrorism and said both atheists and murderers would spend eternity in Hell.
Gülen has received a legal break, however. In 2002, Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, AKP) won a plurality in parliamentary elections and, because of a fluke in Turkish election law, was able to amplify one-third of the popular vote into a two-thirds parliamentary majority. Erdogan used this advantage to enact reforms which had the net affect of stacking not only the civil service, but also banking boards and the judiciary with his political supporters and religious fundamentalists. Erdogan’s judges wasted no time. They placed liens against political opponents’ property, seized independent newspapers and television station including, not by coincidence ATV, and assigned sympathetic judges to hear appeals against earlier decisions levied against Islamists. On May 5, 2006, the Ankara Criminal Court overturned the verdict against Gülen. While a public prosecutor — a secularist hold-out — appealed the court’s action, the process is now nearing conclusion. Gülen’s supporters are ecstatic. His slate wiped clean, Gülen has indicated he may soon return to Turkey.
In Tehran then as in Ankara now, U.S. ambassadors preferred garden parties with the political elite and maintained contacts with only a narrow segment of the population. They were blind. As the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency remained clueless or belittled concerns about Khomeini’s intentions, millions of Iranians turned out to greet their Imam at Tehran’s international airport. Turks now say that similar crowds might greet Gülen when his plane touches down in Istanbul.
Gülen is careful. He will not order the dissolution of the Turkish Republic. But, ensconced in his Istanbul mansion, he could simply begin to issue fatwas prying Turkey farther from the secularism to which Erdogan pays lip service. As Khomeini consciously drew parallels between himself and Twelver Shiism’s Hidden Imam, Gülen will remain quiet as his supporters paint his return as evidence that the caliphate formally dissolved by Atatürk in 1924 has been restored.
The secular order and constitutionalism in Turkey have never been so shaky. The government now controls most television and radio stations. Erdogan has gained the dubious distinction of launching more lawsuits against journalists and commentators than any previous Turkish prime minister.
As Erdogan discourages dissent, his and Gülen’s supporters among prominent Turkish columnists and commentators equate Islamism with democracy, and secularism with fascism, a line too many Western diplomats eager to demonstrate tolerance with an embrace of “moderate Islam” accept. Erdogan himself has argued that it was secularism which led to Hitler; that Islamism would never produce such a result.
Last month, after one of the few independent judicial authorities filed a lawsuit against Erdogan and the AKP for violating constitutional provisions separating religion from politics, the prime minister responded with a midnight round up of leading academics and journalists who had criticized him. Even Erdogan’s supporters were shocked to wake up on March 21 to learn that Ilhan Selçuk, the bed-ridden octogenarian editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet described by Turks as their Walter Cronkite had been arrested in a predawn raid on charges of plotting to launch a military coup; the police have yet to provide any evidence. Nor is Selçuk the only victim in the most recent intimidation campaign. A Hürriyet columnist, Ahmet Hakan, has received threatening phone calls from lawyer Kemaletin Gülen, a relative of Fethullah.
When Islamists pursue campaigns of hatred, Western officials not only pretend nothing is amiss but also, as in the case of Palestinian leaders, often increase their support. This week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will address the judicial case against Erdogan and the AKP. Members of her staff suggest she will lend subtle support to the prime minister. Indeed, it may be tempting to condemn the court action as a political stunt: The prosecutor’s legal brief is shoddily written and poorly argued. Despite its faults, however, the underlying legal issues are real.
Rice should be silent. Any interference will backfire: Turks, already upset that U.S. ambassador Ross Wilson seldom meets with opposition leaders, will interpret any criticism of the case as White House support for the AKP. Secularists will ask why Turkey’s liberal opposition should not have the right to all legal remedies. They already ask why the West applauds legal action taken against Austrian populist Jörg Haider and French demagogue Jean Marie Le Pen, but the same U.S. and European officials appear to bless Erdogan’s legal exceptionalism. By undermining judicial recourse, Rice may accelerate violence and lead support to those who argue — wrongly — that the government’s disdain for the law and constitution should be met with the same. On the off-chance, however, that Rice accepts that the court case should run its course, Turkey’s religious conservatives will accuse her of masterminding the approach.
Over the past seven years, the Bush administration has made many mistakes. Bush was correct to recognize the importance of democratization; bungled implementation has turned a noble ideal into a dirty word. By equating democracy only with elections, the State Department and National Security Council fumbled U.S. interests in Iraq, Gaza, and Lebanon. One man, one vote, once; parties that enforce discipline at the point of a gun; and politicians who seek to subvert the rule of law to an imam’s conception of God do little for U.S. national security. Never again should the United States abandon its ideological compatriots for the ephemeral promises of parties that use religion to subvert democracy and seek mob rather than constitutional rule.
Turkey is nearing the cliff. Please, Secretary Rice, do not push it over the edge.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of the Middle East Quarterly.
© 2008 The Middle East Forum