20 May 2008

2472) Media Scanner May 2008 (127 Items)

  1. Turkey & Armenia: Promise Amid Discord by D. Nigar GOKSEL
  2. Turkey Offers "Dialogue" To Armenia By Emil Danielyan
  3. The Genocide Debate
  4. Barack Obama And Turkish Foreign Policy by Emre Uslu-Onder Aytac
  5. Avoiding The G-Word By David Kronin
  6. Armenia: Leading Human Rights Defender Assaulted
  7. Varna City Council Condemns Armenian Genocide
  8. Mayor Of Manchester Issues Proclamation Recognizing Armenian Genocide
  9. Nalbandian: Anti-Armenian Propaganda Should Be Stopped In Azerbaijan
  10. Turkish Ambassador Calls On Armenians: We Should Not Raise Our Children With Animosity
  11. Chairman Of Turkish History Organization: "If Armenians Believe Themselves, Let Them Unveil Dashnak Archives In Boston"
  12. Return Of Turks Meskhetians In Armenian-Inhabited Regions Pregnant With Negative Consequences For Georgia
  13. Armenia-Turkey Relations Activated In 2007
  14. Turkey Report: EP Rejects Armenian Genocide Amendments
  15. Will Armenia Have To Choose Between The USA and Russia, i.e., Between NATO and the CSTO?
  16. Armenian Lobby Presses For New Bill In US
  17. ‘Genocide’ Book Dropped From Reading List In Canada
  18. Well-Attended Joint Concert Pays Tribute To Armenian Community
  19. Turkey's Top Business Association Releases Armenian Bill Report
  20. A Sculpture In Memory Of Dink
  21. Armenian Imposition On Canadian Education by Özay Mehmet*
  22. Turkish Diplomat Calls On Turkish People In U.S. To Enter Politics
  23. What Is The Significance Of May 21?
  24. Xenophobia Across Europe Threatens Turks, Turkey’s EU Accession Process
  25. An Interview with Amb. Tatoul Markarian Armenian Ambassador to the U.S.
  26. Turkish Armenian Relations, Civil Society Dimension
  27. 'Genocide' Book Dropped From Reading List In Canada
  28. Board Removes Book On Genocide
  29. Education And Genocide, Ethnic Pressure
  30. Armenia And Turkey Interests Don’t Coincide
  31. Children Should Not Be Raised To Hate
  32. Cypriot Armenians’ Trust In Turkish Community Depends On Its Attitude About Armenian And Greek Genocides
  33. Turkish Scientists And Politicians Fear To Publicly Recognize Armenian Genocide
  34. Global Peace Index 2008: Azerbaijan One Of Most Aggressive Countries In The World
  35. Turkey Offers $20 Million To Armenian Diaspora To Open Armenian Archives in Boston
  36. Russian-Azerbaijani Relations: New Stage of Development
  37. Meeting Between Armenian And Turkish Young People Takes Place In Kars
  38. The Opening Of The Armenian-Turkish Border Is A Political Project And In The Economically Armenia Does Not Need It, Neither Does Turkey
  39. U.S. Willing To Strengthen Ties Between Armenia And Turkey
  40. “I Am Sad In Armenia” Valerie Gortzounian
  41. Armenia & Genocide, Growing Engagement Of Azerbaijan, By Ara Sanjian
  42. Analysis: Armenian Opposition Issues New Ultimatum
  43. Armenian Tourist Resort Or Armenian Settlement?, AZG
  44. Genocide Book Pulled From High School Reading List in Canada Unnati Gandhi
  45. Tüsiad Criticizes ‘genocide' Resolution In Us Congress
  46. NATO Exercise Due In Armenia September 15 - October 21
  47. Thousands Of New Jersey High School Students Educated On The Armenian Genocide armradio.am
  48. Turk Tourists, Who Visited Armenia, Return To Turkey Under Great Impression Noyan Tapan
  49. Lake Van Dying
  50. Primate Of Australia And New Zealand Interviewed By Abc Radio, Noyan Tapan
  51. A Symposium on Tolerance
  52. ANCA Eastern Region Director Continues To "Educate, Motivate, And Activate" Thousands Of New Jersey High School Students Educated On The Armenian Genocide
  53. Rep. Costa Calls On New U.S. Ambassador Nominee To Answer Questions On Armenian Genocide
  54. Roman Pope Benedict Xvi Not Calling 1915 Events As Armenian "Genocide"
  55. Five Years Of Cooperation With "Hypocrat" Panorama.am
  56. We Have Nothing To Discuss, Hayots Ashkhar Daily,
  57. Paul Murphy Used "Armenian Genocide" Expression, Panorama.am
  58. Illustrated Talk On Aghtamar And Medieval Armenian Kingship At Naasr
  59. Genocide Belief Seen As 'Insult' By Turkey, Jennifer Campbell, Citizen Special
  60. Argentina Losing Us Over ‘genocide' Row, Warns Ankara
  61. Priority In Armenian Foreign Policy: The Us Or Iran? by Hatem Cabbarli*
  62. Turkish Historians’ Statements On Armenian Genocide Can’t Be Treated Seriously
  63. TTK: We Have Documents Refuting Armenian Claims
  64. The Reign Of The Oligarchs In Armenia, Vardan Djaloyan
  65. Armenia: Blogging Comes of Age, by Onnik Krikorian
  66. Traveling Across The Peace Bridges Over Closed Borders
  67. UK Government Member Uses Term Armenian Genocide For The First Time
  68. We are all Kemalists by Nicholas Birch
  69. Abused French Of Armenian Origin Leaves Armenia
  70. ANCA Chairman Sharply Criticizes Bush's Final April 24th Statement
  71. TTK: We Have Documents Refuting Armenian Claims
  72. "The Armenian Genocide; Truth And Policy" Conference In Great Britain
  73. Comic Mentions The Armenian Genocide
  74. Obama Vs. Mccain And Prospects Of Us-Turkish Relations
  75. Brussels Reporters Fed Up With Armenian Lobby
  76. Turk-Armenian NGO is a No-Go
  77. Turkey Should Not Be Given A Seat On United Nations Security Council By Harut Sassounian
  78. Armenian Ship Sunk By British Pirate In 1698 Found Off Coast Of Dominican Republic
  79. Harut Sassounian To Receive 2008 Ellis Island Medal Of Honor
  80. Armenia And Terrorism According To Us Department Of State
  81. Asim Mollazade: "Armenian Lobby Organizations Lead The Campaign Of Attempt To Draw A Veil Over Armenia's Internal Problems, Which Have Become Known To The Whole World"
  82. Why Do Turks Keep Denying The Armenian Genocide?
  83. And Kentucky Makes 41, AncaUpdate,
  84. Four Year Old Injustice Ends: The Minority Report Is Not Guilty Bia News Service
  85. Article 301 Remains: A Damaging Step For Freedom Of Expression Bia News Service
  86. Karekin Urges World To Recognize Genocide Claims
  87. Paperback - Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire By Judith Herrin
  88. Denying Armenian Genocide, Ankara Can’t Understand What Democracy Means
  89. Possible Rapprochement Between Armenia And Turkey By John C. K. Daly
  90. Obama Reiterates Backing For Armenian Cause
  91. "Fight Against Armenian Lies"
  92. Prospective Negotiations With Armenia
  93. Sydney's Armenian Community Commemorates The Armenian Genocide Hagop Tchamkertenian
  94. L.A. Times Invites This Writer to Counter Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide By Harut Sassounian
  95. Los Angeles Armenians Explore the Diaspora in India
  96. Turkey-Armenia Exchange Letters As Sarksyan Begins His Term In Office
  97. A Mythos And The History
  98. Armenia: Idea Of "Genocide" As A Brand And Opium For People
  99. RA President Awards Persons Promoting Armenian Genocide Recognition
  100. What Happened On April 24" Discussion In Istanbul (H. Chaqrian)
  101. Ataa Speaks On Turkish American Advocacy, Voices Concern On Armenian Terrorism And Hate Crimes
  102. New Armenian Government And Turkey by Omer Engin LUTEM
  103. No Bases For Dialogue, Gevorg Harutyunyan
  104. Ruben Safrastian Notes Expediency Of Transfering Genocide Recognition Issue From Political To Legal Plane
  105. Armenian Ombudsman Alarmed By Human Rights Situation
  106. "Secret Of Success Of Armenians' Propaganda Is Simple: They Speak Of 1915 "Genocide" Constantly, Every Day"
  107. Turkish Foreign Minister Says His Country Is Ready For Dialogue With Armenia
  108. Balakian Speaks For Sydney Armenian Genocide Commemoration Week
  109. Turkish Historian: `No Genocide Was Committed On April 24, Only 556 Armenian Terrorists Were Arrested'
  110. 'Diaspora Harms People Of Armenia'
  111. Sydney's Armenian Community Commemorates the Armenian Genocide
  112. Can Turkish-Armenian Relations Normalize? Sahin Alpay
  113. Baku Calls Firing Of Azerbaijan And Turkish Flags As Brutality
  114. Kardes Türküler Perform Eclectic Mix In Antalya
  115. A Coming Of Age And Of Solidarity by Murat Ersavci, Turkish Ambassador to Australia
  116. 300 years of Ottoman melody: Sahakyan's Armenian Choir by Vercihan Zifliog(lu
  117. Strategic Research Center Makes Sensational Disclosures
  118. Book By Austrian Historical Scientist
  119. Rakel's Suffering
  120. TTK Reports Some Mosques Abroad Converted Into Bars
  121. Ancient Mosaics Discovered At 7,000-Year-Old Dara Ruins
  122. US Group: Turkey Ranked Partly Free In Press Freedom Index
  123. Necessary Initiatives Underway On Text Backing Armenian Allegations, Foreign Ministry
  124. U.S. Turkish Lobby Going To Expand Its Political Influence
  125. History: An Argument With An End By Paul Doolan
  126. Turkish Immigrants: Perpetrators or Victims? by Lauren Huddleston
  127. Neglect's Costs, Turkish Integration in Germany, by Heather Horn


Turkey & Armenia: Promise Amid Discord by D. Nigar GOKSEL
May 22, 2008
An inspiring conference on Turkey-Armenia relations was held in Yerevan this past Tuesday. At the end of the event, which was organized by the Yerevan-based Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, and supported by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and USAID, a number of students among the audience took the microphone kindly asking that their “elders” guide them in making a difference in the relationship. Thirty young students were motivated to give me their email addresses with hopes that I could link them with Turkish counterparts upon my return to Istanbul.

The conference witnessed a clash of opinions between Amberin Zaman, Turkey Correspondent of the Economist, and Chairman of the Liberal Democrat Party in Turkey Cem Toker, about Turkey's domestic trends. By evening, the debate had made its way to the Armenian press under the title “TURKISH POLITICIAN AND JOURNALIST HOLD A HEATED DEBATE” – where the discussions were labeled “surprisingly frank.” Armenians were amazed to see Turks arguing with each other in Yerevan. “We imagine Turkey as one very unified bloc – in fact not only unified within its borders, but with the entire Turkic world,” a young Armenian man admitted hours after the conference.

Shaken concept of the Turk:
Despite deep and undenied differences, there were certain points all conference discussants agreed upon: Only if a country has a strong democracy can ideas of reconciliation spread and effect policy. Unless we challenge some of the common wisdoms and obtain the knowledge necessary to form informed opinions, we will be susceptible to the provocations of nationalist and populist forces; In terms of bilateral relations, both the genocide resolutions in third countries pursued by the Armenian diaspora and the policy of keeping the Turkish border closed seems not to have served intended purposes – perhaps they have backfired; There is a lack of clarity and a gap between declarations and practice on both sides.

It also seemed hopeful that the sides could move closer to a shared view of history, as long as they set reasonable expectations. Whether ultimately a plurality of ideas about history can be lived with or whether a shared version needs to be achieved was left inconclusive.

As the end of the conference neared, one young man expressed the joy he felt in having his conception of the Turk shaken through this event. He was warned, with humor, that there are many different Turks just like there are many different Armenians – naturally. The young Armenian, like most others, had never met a Turk before, he was in his mid 20s.

Armenia's turmoil:
Armenia is undergoing deep domestic turmoil, especially heightened since March. There are close to 100 opposition members jailed. Every public institution is internally divided in terms of political camps. Political apathy has been replaced, among many young and well-organized people, by a drive to shift political dynamics through momentum. More people are questioning what they took for granted or felt powerless in the face of. Economic hardships are also instrumental in this restlessness. No matter what the result of these particular crises, there is change in Armenian society and the need to restore legitimacy will in some form or another effect politics, eventually. Though very limited, there are already signs of “fresh professionalism,” as cautiously indicated in a recent article by a well-known analyst, Richard Giragosian.

I was as proud of Turkey as I have ever been when I was able to respond with a confident “no” to a young Armenian woman who asked if we would be penalized when we returned to Turkey, for disagreeing with certain policies, past and present. There are, to be sure, still limitations on freedom of speech, but not like as it was in the past.

Sometimes it takes a trip eastward to appreciate how far Turkey has traveled and the untapped potential it has for more influence. A pity that Turkey is so consumed with its own internal conflicts.

Diba Nigar Göksel is a senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative (www.esiweb.org) and editor-in-chief of Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ).

Turkey Offers "Dialogue" To Armenia By Emil Danielyan
Eurasia Daily Monitor, DC May 20 2008

Turkey has offered to enter into a "dialogue" with neighboring Armenia that would aim at improving the historically strained relations between the two nations. The diplomatic overtures have prompted a positive response from Armenian leaders, raising fresh hopes for the elimination of a major source of geopolitical tension in the South Caucasus. Ankara, however, has given no official indication so far that it is ready to drop its preconditions for normalizing bilateral ties.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul was one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate Serzh Sarkisian on his highly controversial victory in Armenia's February 21 presidential election. "I hope your new duty will provide the necessary atmosphere for normalizing ties between the Turkish and Armenian peoples who have proved for centuries that they can live side by side in peace and harmony," Gul wrote to the new Armenian leader (AP, February 21). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan sent similar congratulatory letters to their newly appointed Armenian counterparts in late April, both of them stressing the need for a "dialogue."

According to the Armenian government's press service, Erdogan also spoke of unspecified "certain steps" that could be taken to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations. "Admittedly we have problems, some of which date back 100 years," Babacan told reporters in Ankara on April 21, "but the only way of overcoming these problems is through dialogue. Our doors are open to dialogue in this new period" (AP, April 21).

"I would like to reaffirm the Armenian government's commitment to constructive dialogue and the establishment of normal relations without preconditions," Armenia's Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said in a written reply to Erdogan. Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian told RFE/RL's Armenian service on May 1 that he had responded to Babacan's letter in a similarly "positive way." "We should not work the way we did in the past, because we failed to solve our problems and to normalize relations. We should work with a new style," he said without elaborating. Nalbandian found the very fact of a rare exchange of letters between Armenian and Turkish leaders encouraging and expressed the hope that it would be followed by "positive steps."

Turkey closed its land border with Armenia in 1993, at the height of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh, out of solidarity with Azerbaijan, with which it has a close ethnic and cultural affinity. Successive Turkish governments have since made the reopening of that border and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Yerevan conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan. They have also demanded a halt to the decades-long Armenian campaign for international recognition of the 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. Ankara has reacted particularly furiously (most recently in the fall of 2007) to persistent efforts by Armenian lobbying groups in the United States to push such a resolution through Congress.

Armenia's leaders, for their part, have rejected any linkage between the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute and Turkish-Armenian ties. They have also agitated for genocide recognition, while stressing that they do not regard it as a precondition for improving relations with Turkey. President Sarkisian reaffirmed this policy in a written statement issued ahead of the April 24 annual remembrance of more than one million Ottoman Armenians killed in what many historians consider the first genocide of the 20th century. He made it clear that Yerevan would continue to support the genocide recognition effort spearheaded by the worldwide Armenian diaspora "with multiplied vigor."

Whether the proposed dialogue is a sign of a softening of the Turkish policy on Armenia or a public relations stunt is not yet clear. The offer seems in stark contrast to the Turkish government's reported refusal to allow an organization of Turkish and Armenian businessmen lobbying for cross-border commerce between the two countries to open an office in Istanbul. In a May 9 statement, the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC) said that it had been ordered by the Turkish Interior Ministry to "cease its activities in Turkey." The TABDC said the ban was "sending mixed signals regarding the Turkish government's intentions." "The rejection letter by the Ministry of Interior in Ankara is all the more surprising as this same government had sought help from the TABDC a few years ago to establish contact with Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora," the group's Turkish co-chairman, Kaan Soyak, complained.

Ankara has stuck to its preconditions despite years of pressure from Washington, which believes that the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations would give a huge boost to regional stability. "I think that there are a lot of people in the upper reaches of the Turkish government who recognize that an open border would change the strategic map here in a very positive way," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Matthew Bryza said in October 2007 (RFE/RL, October 24, 2007).

According to David Phillips, an American scholar who chaired a US-sponsored "reconciliation commission" of prominent Turks and Armenians, Ankara came within an inch of opening that border in the summer of 2003. In a book published in 2005, Phillips said the Turks backed off after the U.S. pressure "all but disappeared" with the onset of the war in Iraq. With no such pressure visible at the moment and prospects for a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement remaining uncertain, a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement may still be a long way off.


The Genocide Debate
22 May 2008, Toronto Star
The decision to remove a book from the reading list of a new high-school course on genocide smacks of bowing to pressure from a well-organized community. A committee of Toronto public school board staff and university academics recommended removing Barbara Coloroso's book, Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide, from the Grade 11 course after the board received complaints from seven Turkish Canadian groups and a 1,200-name petition. Coloroso's examples of genocide include the killing of 1 million Armenians in in 1915.

The review committee concluded that Coloroso's book was "not a good example of rigorous historical scholarship." But the complaints the board received went far beyond the scholarly merits of the book and into 's view that what happened in 1915 wasn't a genocide at all, even though and other countries have labelled it as such.

To its credit, the review committee did not back off including the Armenian genocide in the course content, although it noted that students should be made aware of conflicting opinions.

The review committee's decision to delist Coloroso's book has been appealed to a panel of trustees, who could recommend reopening this issue to allow the full school board to vote on it. In the circumstances, that seems appropriate.


Barack Obama And Turkish Foreign Policy by Emre Uslu-Onder Aytac
22 May 2008, Today's Zaman
With his latest victory in Oregon on Tuesday, it became clear that Barack Obama will be the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the United States to run against Republican John McCain. Given the current economic conditions and the bitter frustrations of the American people over the war in Iraq, unless there is a dramatic change before November 2008, it is very likely that Obama will be the next president of the US.

Obama's presidency would influence Turkey's relations with the US for a number of reasons. The first thing Turkey has to deal with is the Armenian genocide issue. Obama has already declared that he would recognize the events of 1915 as genocide if he becomes president. McCain on the other hand thinks that it is not in the best interests of the US to confront Turkey based on an event that occurred close to a hundred years ago. McCain's position on the Armenian issue naturally gained some sympathy from Turkish people, including politicians and diplomats. However, for a number of reasons, Obama's basic foreign policy position would be more beneficial to Turkey's interests than that of McCain.

Obama outlined his foreign policy initiative as a dialogue not just with the US's allies but with its foes as well. He very straight forwardly suggested that the US engage in dialogue with Iran and Syria. His position on the foreign policy of the US is clear -- change. Obama states that he will carefully withdraw the US troops from Iraq as soon as possible.

Obama's foreign policy position would help Turkey on three fronts. First, Obama's basic premise of finding a solution to international problems through dialogue overlaps a great deal with Turkey's current foreign policy initiative of a multi-dimensional approach to find ways to solve its international problems through dialogue. Despite the Bush administration's open criticism of Turkey's efforts to maintain friendly relations with Iran and Syria, the Turkish government's new foreign policy initiative would become an opportunity to strengthen its strategic relations with the US during Obama's presidency. In fact, Turkey would play an intermediary role between the US and Iran to prepare basic necessities between the two countries. Even if Turkey did not play such an intermediary role between Iran and the US at least the US would not criticize Turkey for the initiative to develop dialogue between its neighbors.

Second, Obama's decision to withdraw the US troops from Iraq would eventually benefit Turkey in its relation with northern Iraq. Iraqi Kurds now realize that they will need Turkey after US troop withdrawal. If Turkey manages to present the similarities between its foreign policy initiative and that of the US this would lead to more cooperation between the US and Turkey on the issue of fighting terrorism and sharing similar views on the issue of the Kurdish question. Obama's foreign policy perspective would provide the basics for dialogue between Kurds in northern Iraq and Turkey. This eventually would lead to finding a permanent solution for the problem.

Obama's position on the Armenian genocide issue seems to be a problematic one for Turkey. However, if Turkey were able to demonstrate its openness to solving this issue through dialogue -- i.e., establishing a commission for independent historians to investigate the issue objectively by examining international archives, including Ottoman, Russian, British and Dashnak archives in Boston -- Obama would put pressure on the Armenian side to accept Turkey's offer as the first step of establishing dialogue between the two sides. Thus, what Turkey should do is to choose a way to demonstrate its openness to dialogue if the Armenian side accepts Turkey's offer to establish the commission of historians. On this matter, Professor Yusuf Halaçoglu's recent statement of suggesting $20 million of financial help to open the Dashnak archive in Boston would be clear evidence of the Turkish authorities' openness to dialogue on this subject.


Avoiding The G-Word By David Kronin
22 May 2008, The Guardian
The EU has come up with a new term to describe the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915. This week the European parliament will seek to introduce a new euphemism for genocide into the lexicon of international relations. Diplomats who follow MEPs' advice will no longer have to run the risk of offending countries with a dishonourable history by uttering the 'g' word. They can, instead, refer to the most egregious crimes against humanity as "past events".

That is the phrase our fearless elected representatives use in a report they are about to formally endorse on Turkey's efforts to join the European Union. Although it advocates a "frank and open discussion" between Turkey and Armenia about "past events", the report is anything but frank and open about what those events could be.

In the absence of more explicit guidance, I can only assume the "events" in question were the slaughter of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915. There is ample evidence to suggest that this was the 20th century's first holocaust and that it partly inspired the efforts to exterminate Europe's Jews that Hitler initiated two decades later. No less a personage than Winston Churchill described the "massacring of uncounted thousands of helpless Armenians, men, women and children together, whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust". Political bodies across the world have passed resolutions recognising that a genocide occurred, including the European parliament itself back in 1987 (a fact conveniently omitted from the new report).

The question of whether the terms "genocide" or "holocaust" can be applied to the plight of the Armenians is not a purely historical or academic one. It is painfully pertinent to modern-day Turkey.

Last year Hrant Dink, the editor of Agos, a bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper, was murdered by extreme nationalists. He had been prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which made it a criminal offence to utter anything that could be construed as denigrating Turkishness. Dink was under no illusions that he was charged because he was prepared to address the Armenian genocide.

In 2005, the Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk told a Swiss newspaper that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were murdered" in Turkey during the previous century and that "hardly anyone mentions it, so I do".

For bravely trying to break a taboo, Pamuk also found himself facing charges, though these were later dropped on a technicality.

Pamuk and Dink are the most high-profile victims of article 301, a law that has also been evoked to muzzle academics, human rights activists, even students and singers. Foreigners have been affected, too. The Turkish translation of Robert Fisk's mighty tome The Great War for Civilisation - which contains a harrowing account of unearthing Armenian skeletons in the Syrian desert - hit the shelves with zero marketing, because its publishers were scared of the reaction it would otherwise receive.

Last month, the Turkish assembly agreed to modify the law, reportedly to placate the EU's most powerful institutions. Out went the crime of insulting Turkishness. In came the crime of insulting the Turkish nation.

Several analysts have concluded - rightly - that this amendment is cosmetic and ambiguous. Yet according to the European commission, it is "very much a welcome step forward". The socialist grouping in the European parliament, which includes Britain's Labour MEPs, has made a similar statement ahead of this week's debate.

It is ironic that MEPs are indicating they may settle for something less than a total repeal of article 301. One MEP, the Dutch Green Joost Lagendijk, has been investigated under its provisions for accusing the Turkish army of inflaming tensions in the largely Kurdish south-east of the country during 2005.

Don't get me wrong. I'm in favour of Turkey joining the EU, once it chalks up significant improvements on its human rights record. And I consider it repugnant how right-wing politicians in France, Germany and Austria have opposed Turkey's accession efforts so that they can pander to an anti-Muslim bias for selfish electoral reasons.

But assaults on elementary rights like free expression have to be opposed whenever and wherever they occur. When alterations to laws designed to stifle democratic dissent are quite patently piecemeal, they should be criticised, not applauded.

And is it too much to ask from our elected representatives that they call a spade a spade and a genocide a genocide?


Armenia: Leading Human Rights Defender Assaulted
Investigate Whether Mikael Danielian Was Targeted for His Human Rights Work
(New York, May 22, 2008) – As part of their investigation into yesterday’s assault of a leading human rights defender, the Armenian authorities should investigate the extent to which the victim’s human rights work was a motive for the attack, Human Rights Watch said today. Mikael Danielian, the Chairman of the Armenian Helsinki Association, was wounded by an air gun on May 21, 2008 in Yerevan, the country’s capital. Danielian was not seriously wounded.

“The circumstances of the attack on Mikael Danielian suggest that his prominence as a human rights defender was a motive,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Given this, the Armenian authorities must consider it as part of a thorough and objective investigation into the attack.”

Danielian told Human Rights Watch that at approximately 3 p.m. on May 21, in the afternoon he was riding in a taxi in downtown Yerevan with two of his colleagues. When the taxi stopped at a traffic light, a car pulled up behind the taxi and started to vigorously honk. A young man, Tigran Urikhanian, the former leader of the Armenian Progressive Party, got out of the honking car and approached the taxi. When Urikhanian recognized Danielian, he began swearing at him and allegedly punched him through the open car window. Danielian then got out of the taxi and he and Urikhanian engaged in a serious argument. Danielian then claims that, without warning, Urikhanian shot him with an air gun that fires highly compressed air and is sometimes carried for self defense in Armenia and other countries. Danielian sustained light wounds on his chest and neck, and was treated for a sharp increase in his blood pressure by an ambulance arriving on the scene.

Artur Sakunts, another human rights defender who arrived a few minutes after the altercation began, told Human Rights Watch that he witnessed Urikhanian verbally assault Danielian, calling him a spy and a “shame to Armenia,” because of his human rights work. Sakunts also witnessed Urikhanian and another man slap Danielian in the face again.

Following the incident, Danielian was immediately taken to the central police station, where he gave a statement. The investigator in the case ordered a medical forensic examination of Danielian, which was carried out on May 22.

Armenia faced a serious political and human rights crisis after the presidential elections of February 19, 2008. Armenian police used excessive force and violence to disperse peaceful demonstrators on Freedom Square in Yerevan in the early hours of March 1, while a violent clash between protesters and security forces later that evening left at least 10 people dead, including two security officials.

hrw.org


Varna City Council Condemns Armenian Genocide
22.05.2008, /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The city council of Varna, Bulgaria, adopted a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide. Besides, April 24 was proclaimed Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide Victims.

The city council members voiced hope that their decision will help recognition of the Armenian Genocide by other cities and the Bulgarian state in tote.

Varna has become the forth Bulgarian city to recognize the Genocide.

The issue was several times raised in the parliament but was always dropped because of the fear to strain relations with Turkey, RFE/RL reports citing Bulgarian media.


Mayor Of Manchester Issues Proclamation Recognizing Armenian Genocide
22.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ On May 20, 2008, at a New Hampshire Alderman meeting and the Manchester City Hall, Manchester Mayor Frank C. Guinta presented a proclamation commemorating the Armenian Genocide to the local Armenian activists at the event, reported the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley (ANC of MV).

Present at the event were several members from the Armenian National Committee of Merrimack Valley, who helped to organize the event, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Knights of Vartan, the American-Armenian Veterans, along with numerous community members.

When presented with the proclamation, ANC of MV representative, Aram Jeknavorian thanked the City and the Mayor, pointing out, "that the Armenian –American Manchester community is moved and pleased that, that this City of Manchester, NH, which was a great save haven for the Armenian Genocide victims of 1915, has taken action to proclaim its recognition of the Armenian Genocide and will continue to renew its proclamation annually."

Mayor Frank Guinta was elected mayor in 2005. Prior to that, in 2000, he was elected to the first of two terms in the New Hampshire Legislature. The following year, Guinta was elected Ward 3 Alderman, representing Manchester’s downtown. In January 2006, Business NH Magazine cited Guinta as an "intriguing leader" in its "Powerful People" issue and, in January 2007, named him one of the 10 most powerful people in New Hampshire.

Manchester, NH is located in the first Congressional District, overseen by first term Democrat Congresswoman Shea Porter. Ms. Porter, who is not a cosponsor of the Armenian Genocide resolution, was sent an ANCA Congressional questionnaire asking her to respond to Armenian American issues. The ANC of MV has received favorable questionnaires from other Congressional Candidates which will be published in an upcoming press release.


Nalbandian: Anti-Armenian Propaganda Should Be Stopped In Azerbaijan
22.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ To create a favorable atmosphere for Karabakh talks, the anti-Armenian should be stopped in Azerbaijan, Armenia’s Foreign Minister said.

“No conflict can be resolved with ongoing propaganda of one state against another,” Edward Nalbandian said in an interview with H2 TV Channel

“According a social survey, 82 per cent of the Azerbaijani population is displeased with the OSCE Minsk Group activities. At that 29 per cent stand for resolution of the conflict by use of force. This is a dangerous index. I do not know any other country where so many people could stand for resumption of hostilities,” he said, Novosti Armenia reports.


We wonder if Armenia has stopped Anti-Azerbaijan, Anti-Turkish Propoganda. Is this just a proud Armenian Hypocricy, How about National Turkish Flag Burning Day in Armenia, was that an exercise to warm the relations between Armenia and Turkey. Editor


Turkish Ambassador Calls On Armenians: We Should Not Raise Our Children With Animosity
Turkish Press, May 21 2008
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Turkish Ambassador in Washington D.C. has called on Armenians not to raise children with animosity.

Speaking at a meeting hosted by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies on "the Future of Turkey-U.S. Strategic Partnership", Nabi Sensoy said, "the draft resolution submitted to the U.S. Congress on the incidents of 1915 brought Turkey-U.S. relations to 'brink of a disaster'. We are pleased with leaving those days behind as a result of resolute attitude of U.S. administration and congressmen."

Sensoy reminded that Prime Minister Erdogan had called on Armenians to form a joint committee of historians to unveil the truth.

"Turkey has opened its archives long ago. Armenians should do the same thing. We expect politicians in the United States and in other countries to let historians to deal with past events," he said.

"We should not raise our children with animosity. I grew up together with many Turkish citizens of Armenian descent. It was one of our Armenian neighbors who cried and mourned most when I lost my father. Enmity does not lead us to anywhere," he said.

Denying accusations that Turkey imposed economic embargo on Armenia, Sensoy said that Turkey was the fifth biggest economic partner of Armenia and number of weekly flights between Turkey and Armenia reached four.

"Everyone in Turkey condemned killing of journalist Hrant Dink. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest his assassination. It is not correct to claim that the Armenian issue was not discussed in Turkey. On the contrary, any opposition to state's views regarding the incidents of 1915 was banned in Armenia with an amendment to the penal code in October 2006." he said.

Sensoy also criticized that the Armenian diaspora thwarted Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan's speech during his visit to Washington D.C.

Referring to the other developments in the region, Sensoy said, "Like the international community, Turkey does not want to see Iran armed with nuclear weapons. However, we think that Iran should not be fully isolated by the international community. Instead, we should improve our relations with them and try to persuade them to change their policies."


Chairman Of Turkish History Organization: "If Armenians Believe Themselves, Let Them Unveil Dashnak Archives In Boston"
Azeri Press Agency, May 21 2008, Azerbaijan

Ankara. Mayis Alizadeh-APA. Chairman of Turkish History Organization, the center of government policy against the so-called "Armenian genocide" claims, Professor Yusuf Halachoglu interviewed by APA

-You told "Hurriyet" newspaper on May 20 that you might give $20 million to Armenians for unveiling of Dashnak archives in Boston. What leads you to make such statement?

-Dashnak Party was the main Armenian organization in Anatolia in that time. Therefore unveiling of Dashnak archives will make clear all essences of the events. Armenians claimed that they had no financial resources to unveil the archives and to research the documents. We told them that we might support them financially on condition that the archives would be opened and materials would be qualified under our control. However it is impossible for Armenians to accept it, because they know that such event didn't take place and they try to use it only. I made this proposal to prevent it.

-Dashnaks spread terrorism over Azerbaijan after Anatolia. Everybody knows that Dashnaks committed genocide in Baku on March 31, 1918. Are there any materials on it in archives in Boston?

There are probably such materials. Why did Dashnaks carry their archives to Boston, the US? The Republic of Armenia was established and they could carry these materials there. Armenian archives till 1923 were remained closed. They could carry these archives to Russia as well. States telling lies about archives of Ottoman Empire should be clever. Everybody should know that archives of Ottoman Empire are open and Armenian archives remained close.

-Rajab Tayyip Erdogan's letter on it was not replied positively on May 8, 2005.

You know reasons why they did not reply to letter. What will they discuss with us? Which documents will they show? If they believe in themselves, they should open archives of Dashnaks.

-Your another initiative - discussions within the framework of Vienna platform remained unsuccessful for unilateral claims of Armenians.

Armenians stated that they could conduct discussions after approval of so-called genocide. What will we discuss after its approval?!


Return Of Turks Meskhetians In Armenian-Inhabited Regions Pregnant With Negative Consequences For Georgia
22.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Return of Turks Meskhetians in the Armenian-inhabited regions of Georgia is pregnant with negative consequences, said Giorgi Gogsadze, director of the department of human geography at Tbilisi State University.

“Like 10 years ago, I do state now that the Council of Europe’s urge on return of Turks Meskhetians to Georgia will do no good. But unfortunately, we are under pressure,” Govsadze told Caucasus 2007 international conference.

“Armenian-inhabited Samtskhe Javakheti region has always been remarkable for loyalty toward the authorities. Armenians of Samtskhe Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli voted for pro-governmental forces at all elections. In 2003 they supported Eduard Shevarnadze; after the ‘rose resolution’ votes were given in favor of Mikheil Saakashvili. The same happened on January 5, 2008, although the official figure of 90 per cent of votes is exaggerated, since majority of Javakhetians usually leave for Armenia or Russia to earn living in winter” the Georgian expert said.


Armenia-Turkey Relations Activated In 2007
22.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Caucasus 2007 international conference kicked off in Yerevan today. The conference will focus on the events taking place in the South Caucasus.

“The participants are free to discuss the events that took place last year, the most important of them being the elections in Georgia and Armenia. Efforts for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement were continued. Some kind of dynamics was observed in the Armenia-Turkey informal relations. However, the meetings and discussions can’t ensure a breakthrough in the near future,” said Alexander Iskandaryan, director of Caucasus Institute.

The possibility of normalization of relations between the two states is strong enough but Armenian and Turkish diplomacies have a great deal of work to do, according to him.


Turkey Report: EP Rejects Armenian Genocide Amendments
22.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The European Parliament (EP) adopted on Wednesday a report on Turkey urging the government to accelerate reforms.

In a plenary session the EP debated and voted on the report, prepared by Dutch parliamentarian Ria Oomen-Ruijten. The report is a non-binding and recommendatory one.

The parliament rejected amendments to the report regarding the incidents of 1915 submitted by a group of French MEPs regarding the 1915 events.

However, the amendment on EP’s concerns about news reports regarding Turkish riot police’s disproportional use of force during May Day celebrations was accepted. The amendment also said that the changes made in article 301 of Turkish Penal Code were not enough and urged Turkish parliament to revise the article and completely remove other restrictive stipulations.

The report, adopted last month by the European Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, expressed concern about the potential consequences of the recent dissolution case filed against Turkey’s ruling Justice & Development (AK) Party.

Another amendment to the report said the EP expected Turkish Constitutional Court to act in accordance with the Venice Commission guidelines and European standards on the prohibition of political parties.

It also called on the Turkish government to respect pluralism, secularism and democracy while carrying out reforms and to reach a compromise with political parties and urged the political parties to distance themselves from violence and terrorist organizations.

The report says the parliament takes note of the process underway to prepare a new, civilian constitution; regards it as a key opportunity to place the protection of human rights and freedoms at the core of the constitution and underlines the need for a broad involvement of civil society in this process.

The report also says the parliament "welcomes the commitment of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that 2008 is going to be the year of reforms; urges the Turkish government to make use of its strong parliamentary majority to resolutely pursue reforms that are crucial for Turkey’s transformation into a modern democratic and prosperous society."

It says "(the parliament) encourages the Turkish government to make further systematic efforts to ensure that the democratically elected political leadership bears full responsibility for formulation of domestic, foreign and security policy and that the armed forces respect this civilian responsibility; points out, in particular, the need to establish full parliamentary oversight of military and defense policy and all related expenditure."

The report also urges the Turkish government and the parliament to abolish immediately article 301 of the Penal Code as a symbolic and substantive step towards full respect of freedom of expression in the country and underlines that, once the urgently needed abolition of article 301 has been carried out, further legislative and implementation steps will be required in order to ensure that Turkey fully guarantees freedom of expression and press freedom in line with ECHR and European democratic standards.

It says the parliament encourages the Turkish authorities to resolutely pursue investigations into the Ergenekon affair, "to fully uncover its networks reaching into the state structures and to bring those involved to justice."

The report welcomes the recent adoption by the Turkish Parliament of the Law on Foundations and says "the European Commission should analyze whether the Law addresses all shortcomings faced by non-Muslim religious communities with regard to property management and acquisition, including expropriated property sold to third parties."

The report also calls upon the Democratic Society Party (DTP), its members at the parliament and mayors "to engage constructively in the quest for a political solution to the Kurdish issue within the democratic Turkish state."

It strongly condemns the violence perpetrated by the terrorist organization PKK and reiterates European Parliament’s solidarity with Turkey in its fight against terrorism. The report urges the Iraqi government and the regional Kurdish administration not to allow Iraqi territory to be used as a base for terrorist acts against Turkey.

The report stresses the need to arrive at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question within the UN framework, claiming that "the withdrawal of Turkish forces would facilitate the negotiation of a settlement."

Mrs. Oomen-Ruijten’s report also calls on the European Commission and the Turkish government to start negotiations on an agreement to ease granting of visas to Turkish nationals.


Will Armenia Have To Choose Between The USA and Russia, i.e., Between NATO and the CSTO?
Most of the Russian experts think that since Armenia, who has actually been Russia's only true ally in the region, does not have an outlet to the sea cannot be considered a key ally.
15.05.2008
NATO's role in the region of the South Caucasus in the condition of strong rivalry between Moscow and Washington for the dominating stand in the region grows increasingly. The thing is not even in the fact that Georgia does its best to become a full member of the Alliance or in Russia's opposition to Georgia's intention. The close cooperation of the Alliance with all the three South Caucasian countries brings to the thought that the USA does its best to make the South Caucasus and Russia fall apart. In some sense, it has already been done in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Now it is the time for Armenia, which, according to Russian political scientists, is almost the only ally of the RF in the region. However things are not exactly the way as it is interpreted by Moscow. Most of the Russian experts think that since Armenia, who has actually been Russia's only true ally in the region, does not have an outlet to the sea cannot be considered a key ally. The key allies of Russia in the region may be only Georgia and Ukraine, which are the countries that are striving to integrate into NATO. The truth is though, that there is also Turkey, which participates in all NATO projects, and which is a full member of the Alliance. Turkey is the one that speaks for the admission of Georgia and Ukraine in the Alliance with the hope that it will be of some use to it in its fight against the Kurds. It must also be mentioned that this plan is very likely to work out. Participating in the "Mediterranean Dialogue", "Istanbul Cooperation Initiative", giving Incirlik air base for the military flights of the American airplanes to Afghanistan and Iraq, Turkey becomes indeed the irreplaceable country in the region. Moreover, as the Kars Treaty stipulates, Turkey may interfere in the regulation of the conflict in Abkhazia, which actually Turkey does under cover of NATO.

As the RF Ministry of Defense informs, the leadership of NATO countries carries out a course of military assistance to Tbilisi. According to them, such actions are motivated by the county's preparations for the integration into the North Atlantic Alliance. According to Moscow, the USA, Turkey, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Israel are the countries that give bigger support to Tbilisi. All this destabilizes the development of military-political situation in Transcaucasia. According to the facts provided by the RF Ministry of Defense, the foreign countries provide Georgia with armament, financial support, and train the Georgian soldiers, as well as ensure their education in the educational institutions in NATO countries. "At the same time the military-technical assistance from the West is often free of charge," says the press-service of the Ministry.

Practically, Armenia is the only country which is out of the sphere of influence of NATO. The truth is however, that there is the Individual Partnership Action Plan. Yet, as it seems, this is not enough, since Armenia is included in the CSTO, which serves the Russian interests in the region and helps Armenia to guard the Armenian-Turkish border. However, the Alliance is not going to put up with such conditions for long. If Russia does not succeed to attract Georgia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan to its side, Armenia will find itself in isolation. NATO understands this very well, and consequently carries out trainings within the frames of the project "Partnership for peace", and never spares praising the Armenia army, which indeed serves it.

"In the professional aspect the Armenian Army is very well trained. I made sure of it already during the NATO trainings Best effort 2003, which was held in Armenia. The aim of the present trainings "Cooperative Longbow/Lancer-2008" is working out the joint actions of NATO forces. They will also promote the professionalism and will help the professionals to comply with NATO standards," announced the representative of the Alliance Claudio Vercelotti in Yerevan.

It is very probable that Armenia may get the Plan of Action for Integrating into NATO, although this issue is not yet on the agenda of the Armenian foreign and defense policy. Though, who knows what may change in the coming several years in the region, especially if we take into consideration the fact that the USA has not given up the idea of establishing the "Great Middle East", which involves the Middle East, the South Caucasus, Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It may happen so, that one day Armenia will have to choose between the USA and Russia, i.e., between NATO and the CSTO.
«PanARMENIAN.Net» analytical department


Armenian Lobby Presses For New Bill In US
US Congressman Adam Schiff has introduced legislation to both US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to urge Turkey to lift "its 15-year blockade of Armenia and outline concrete steps taken by the administration in that effort."

Schiff is a Democrat representing the 29th Congressional District in California, where members of the Armenian diaspora are particularly active. In December 2005, he received the Distinguished Civic Award of the Western Diocese, Armenian Church of North America, according to the biography on his Web page.

The legislation, titled "End the Turkish Blockade of Armenia Act," notes that "Turkey's ongoing blockade of Armenia does not promote regional security and prosperity, thereby undermining the short-term and long-term policy objectives of the United States," the Washington based-Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reported over the weekend, applauding the move.

The Armenian diaspora continues to deal with disappointment over the fact that a resolution calling World War I-era killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks "genocide" has not yet been adopted by the US Congress, even though it was passed by a US congressional committee in October 2007.

Ankara refuses to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan because of Armenian efforts to secure international condemnation of the controversial 1915 killings of Anatolian Armenians as genocide. In 1993
19 May 2008, Today's Zaman Ankara


‘Genocide’ Book Dropped From Reading List In Canada
A petition campaign launched by Turks living in Canada against a recent decision in Toronto to include in school curricula the study of an alleged genocide of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire has eventually yielded a result, with the book being pulled from the recommended reading list of a new Toronto public school course.

Some 11,000 petitions have been collected in the online petition campaign. In January, the Unity Group, consisting of several Turkish NGOs in Canada, said that the course would put at risk the lives of Turkish and Muslim students in high schools. The group called on authorities to reverse the decision to include the course, created by one of the largest school boards in Canada, the Toronto District School Board, in the 2008-2009 curriculum.

Barbara Coloroso's "Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide" was originally part of a resource list for the grade 11 history course, "Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity," set to launch across the Toronto District School Board district this fall. The book examines the Holocaust, which exterminated 6 million Jews in World War II; the Rwandan slaughter of nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994; and the killings of Anatolian Armenians at the beginning of the last century.

"But a committee struck to review the course decided in late April to remove the book because 'a concern was raised regarding [its] appropriateness. ... The Committee determined this was far from a scrupulous text and should not be on a History course although it might be included in a course on the social psychology of genocide because of her posited thesis that genocide is merely the extreme extension of bullying,' according to board documents," The Globe and Mail, an English-language Canadian daily, reported on Friday.
19 May 2008, Today's Zaman Toronto


Well-Attended Joint Concert Pays Tribute To Armenian Community
The least that can be said of the Sisli Symphony Orchestra and its Swiss-trained conductor Serâ Tokay is that they do not lack artistic audacity. Only three years into its existence, the young ensemble has gained respect from critics for its musical endowment and endeavors. A concert held last Saturday provided another occasion to prove those critics right.

The performance, on May 17 at Istanbul's Lütfi Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Center, was a joint concert by Istanbul's Sisli Symphony and the Vartanants Choir. The latter is an amateur choir conducted by renowned cantor and State Opera Chorus member Adrusan Halacyan. Some 1,000 people filled the concert hall on Saturday and were visibly filled with the artists' communicative passion.

Tokay conducted both ensembles for two hours, through classical pieces by Mozart, Verdi, Bizet and Donizetti. The pieces included sequences from Mozart's "Requiem Mass in D Minor," Verdi's operas "La Traviata" and "Nabucco" and Bizet's famed "Carmen." Knowing the orchestra's affinity with Russian and Slavic composers, Saturday's program was a challenging one for the musicians and their chief. "We adapted to the repertoire of the choir and soloists," Tokay told Today's Zaman ahead of the performance. "Italian compositions have little in common with the Slavic soul that we like to express, but one also learns while dealing with the unfamiliar."

The joint performance was a first for the young orchestra but also for the choir, which Halacyan has headed since 1985. "I had this dream of a partnership between the choir and a symphonic orchestra," Halacyan recalled. Sisli Mayor Mustafa Sarigül, who attended Saturday's concert, was the architect of Halacyan's encounter with Tokay and thereby of their collaboration, the choir conductor said. "The singers and I have been preparing for 23 years to perform music at a professional level."

Halacyan has served the Vartanants Choir since childhood, starting as a cantor in the church. The 76-year-old ensemble is known for its wide repertoire of Turkish, Armenian and European pieces. "This concert is dedicated to the Armenian community but also reflects the cultural diversity of Sisli Municipality," Halacyan said, observing that Armenian Istanbul Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan attended the performance as well.

As a result, the program featured pieces by Turkish composer Dede Efendi and Turkish-Armenian artists Ara Bartevyan and Sirvart Karamanuk. The ensemble notably performed Karamanuk's symphonic poem "Ah!... Tamar," while Istanbul State Opera soloists Zafer Erdas (bass-baritone), Caner Akin (tenor), Aylin Ates (mezzo soprano) and Ayten Telek (soprano) gave a remarkable demonstration of their virtuosity in half of the 18 pieces.

"Karamanuk's symphonic poem, which is composed of one movement and lasts about 20 minutes, has only been performed three times since its creation. The first performance took place in Yerevan in 1968," Tokay said. The orchestral conductor added that although she did not know the choir or the pieces beforehand, she accepted the offer immediately. "This was a new experience for me and my musicians and I hope we will repeat it. The main challenge was of course to conduct simultaneously the choir and the orchestra, as if it were one single ensemble or body," Tokay said.

During their interview with Today's Zaman, Tokay and Halacyan engaged in a discussion about their respective positions. Tokay argued that a choir needed a conductor more than the orchestra did. "Of course, musicians have to pay great attention to the gestures and breathing of the conductor," she explained. "But once they know their score well, there is no need for the conductor to give a starting sign to every single group of instruments. Technique is the key to a successful instrumental performance."

The choir, however, needs constant attention to and from the conductor, Tokay said. "Singers are much more sensitive to the instructions and attitude of the conductor. They need him or her in order to stay in tune, but also for their voice to express the right feelings. Inner parameters matter more than in the case of an orchestra."

Halacyan nodded and added two ideas to the observations: "First, it is crucial for all the singers to know each other very well, much more than for the musicians. There needs to be a kind of fusion within the choir and with the conductor, so that a quick glance is enough for everybody to understand each other."

The choir conductor also noted "the key importance of mediation or non-mediation." In the case of an orchestra, he said, the instruments come between the musicians and the conductor and technique is essential for the mediation to function. "But in the case of a choir, there is no mediation. The relation is one of immediacy and that explains why the conductor is all the more important for the singers to give the best of themselves."

For that matter, Halacyan recalled that the Vartanants Choir was an all-amateur choir wherein 55 male and female lawyers, physicians, carpet traders and jewelers gathered to sing like real professionals. "Some of them didn't even know the music scale when they started singing with the choir. I think they became like professionals without even noticing it," Halacyan said. "They sing with their heart and that is how they improve." That, "and an outstanding choir conductor," Tokay added with a smile.
19 May 2008, Anne Andlauer Istanbul


Turkey's Top Business Association Releases Armenian Bill Report
May 19, 2008, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
Turkey's top business association has released a report on an Armenian bill regarding the incidents of 1915, calling it a one-sided view of events that promotes more hatred, it was reported Friday.

The bill was adopted last year by the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives but was turned down by the general assembly. The report drawn up by researcher and specialist in law, David Saltzman, for the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), was presented Thursday at a Washington conference on Turkish-U.S. relations, private CNN-Türk television reported Friday. In the report, TUSIAD declared its will to form a platform in which the incidents experienced by Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire during World War I could be discussed. The report states there had never been a legal opinion that can justify the 1915 incidents as "genocide," and those who back the allegations had never brought them before an international court. "The global public opinion is focused on this one-sided view. And the rejection to acknowledge facts and the failure to consider the historical background of the incidents help this view attain continuity," the report said. ?New generations are raised with more hatred and antagonism. Normal relations cannot be realized before these conditions are reversed,? it said.

Meanwhile the Armenian lobby in the United States presented a new bill to House of Representatives urging Washington to pressure Ankara to lift an embargo, which it claims Turkey imposes on Armenia, the Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman, prepared the bill, which envisages the United States launching initiatives for the removal of the embargo and the U.S. State department preparing a report for Congress about the incidents. The same text will have to be submitted to the Senate and should be adopted both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate and then be signed by the president in order to be enacted.


A Sculpture In Memory Of Dink
May 19, 2008, Vercihan Ziflioglu, Istanbul – Turkish Daily News
A well-known Turkish sculptor has said he will design a dove-shaped sculpture in memory of slain Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink

Dink was assassinated on Halaskargazi Avenue in Istanbul's Sisli district on Jan. 19 last year. Mehmet Aksoy, who generally is sensitive toward the topics on Turkey's agenda and expresses his feelings through his art, came up with this idea himself.

The sculpture will be 120 centimeters tall and 120 centimeters wide. It will be placed inside a bulletproof glass case. There are several options for where to place the sculpture, but Aksoy plans to erect it on the sidewalk where Dink was shot.

“People passing by will see the place where he died and face their conscience. Because the biggest conviction is people's conscience,” said Aksoy.

Aksoy was inspired by Dink's last article “Güvercinin Tedirginligi” (The uneasiness of a pigeon) and decided to make a dove-shaped sculpture. He once visited the Dink family's atelier and saw a dove sculpture, which affected him greatly.

After some procedural requirements are completed, the project, which has also been approved by the Sisli Municipality, will be undertaken, said Aksoy.

Although Aksoy said the project has received confirmation from the municipality, Sisli Municipality's press adviser, Aziz Özhan, said that Aksoy has not made a formal appeal to them, and that they cannot implement a project without authorization from the Greater Istanbul Municipality.

The editor-in-chief of daily Agos, Etyen Mahcupyan, emphasized that Aksoy's project is an important one. Mahcupyan said Sisli Municipality has confirmed the project and added that the idea of placing the dove-shaped sculpture on the sidewalk came from the municipality.

“I have no idea how bureaucracy works, but the decision will be a reflection of Turkey's maturity,” he said. The founder of the Human Rights Association and owner of Belge Publication, Ragip Zarakolu, also emphasized the importance of the project and continued, “Let no one lose their lives because of their thoughts, let no one touch the peaceful doves anymore.”


Armenian Imposition On Canadian Education by Özay Mehmet* January 28, 2008
Canada is an amazing democracy, but it is deficient in one major way. It lacks a national Ministry of Education. Its education system is Balkanized with some 11 provincial educational jurisdictions, each having its own standards and curricula. This is partly historical and partly religious, reflecting the power sharing that existed in 1867 when the Canadian Confederation was established.

As a result, local activists and ethnic lobbies are sometimes able to impose their own versions of history on the silent majority. That is the principal reason for the fact that now in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, the local school board has fallen into the hands of Armenian lobbies, hell bent on rewriting history through parliaments and the decentralized education systems.

Within each Canadian province, there is a provincial ministry of education and numerous local school boards consisting of elected persons called Trustees. They are accountable to local property taxpayers, called ratepayers, and a few hundred ratepayers can make the difference in who gets elected a trustee.
In recent years, genocide studies have become very popular; especially in predominantly Jewish Canadian areas and many school boards have rightly approved Holocaust modules teaching students the horrors of Nazi Germany. These Jews were innocent, unlike the Ottoman Armenians who committed treason and were relocated out of the war zone.

Now the Armenian nationalists have joined the bandwagon. Using the fake Hitler quote (“who still remembers the Armenian massacres?”) and other documents such as the notorious forged Andonian Telegrams, these Armenian activists have been having a field day at the expense of Turkish/Ottoman history. If not checked, they will have Canadian students learn Turkish history from Armenian eyes. Worse still, Turkish Canadians will be reduced to second-class citizens. Already Turkish Canadian students are being bullied and harassed even by teachers in schools teaching Armenian modules.

Turkish Canadians outraged
So now the Turkish Canadian community of Toronto is up in arms. They came by the hundreds to a Toronto and District School Board meeting on Jan. 16 to voice their anger. The Trustees were caught unawares. “We never expected so many to show up,” said one official, and the meeting had to be moved to an auditorium in order to accommodate everyone.

What happened in Toronto on Jan. 16 is a repetition of what took place at the Ottawa School Board some 18 years ago. At that time, thanks to the opposition of the Turkish Canadians in our national capital, the Armenian module was rejected.
It is hoped the same thing will happen in Toronto. But unfortunately that would not solve the problem. Turkish Canadians are unable to speak because Canadian news media is so pro-Armenian, it is virtually impossible to have the Turkish version of history heard.

Canada lacks a national education system. Even if the Toronto school board realizes the ethnic mess it got itself into, there is no guarantee that Armenian nationalists will not take their attack on Turkish history to some other school board.

Canadian schools may yet turn into ethnic battlegrounds unless a sane method is discovered to contain “homelandism,” i.e. politicians pandering to ethnic lobbies pursuing nationalist ideologies imported from some homeland overseas, sometimes resorting to terrorism in pursuit of national causes. Opportunistic politicians are ready to ignore these dangers for the sake of a few votes.

The irony is that Canadian school boards are hardly in a position to lecture anyone on how to face history. They can teach students Canadian history, for example, creating a module on a proclamation issued by the Governor in Council dating back to 1756, but still on the books, under which a scalp bounty of 25 or 30 British pounds was payable for every Native Canadian turned in to an official, dead or alive!

That is how the native population was exterminated. Of course, the proclamation has no force or effect today, but astonishingly the Canadian government refuses to rescind it as demanded by the First Nations of the country. [Source: http://www.danielnpaul.com/BritishScalpProclamation-1756.html]

* Özay Mehmet, Ph.D, is professor emeritus with the Carleton University, Canada. He can be contacted at Mehmet5010@rogers.com


Turkish Diplomat Calls On Turkish People In U.S. To Enter Politics
5/18/2008, WASHINGTON D.C.
Speaking at the annual conference of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), Nabi Sensoy, Turkish ambassador in Washington D.C., said that Americans with Turkish origin should not only be voters, but they should also take their place in the U.S. Congress as "elected" politicians.

"If we get together, we can make our voice heard all across USA. We need to enter politics," said Sensoy, expressing the power of "ethnical lobbies" in the country.

He also requested Americans with Turkish origin to meet and be in continuous contact with the congressmen of the regions they are living in.


What Is The Significance Of May 21? by Hasan Kanbolat h.kanbolat@todayszaman.com
How many people in Turkish society know about what happened in 1864? Does the year 1864 have any significance for ordinary people? I don’t think so. May 21, 1864 is the day when the exile and genocide campaign led by the Russian Empire during its invasion of the northern Caucasus in the 19th century ended. At the end of the war with the Russian Empire, 95 percent of the peoples of the northwestern Caucasus -- the Adiges, Wubihs, Abkhazs and Karaçay-Balkars -- had perished as a result of a campaign of forced migration and genocide. Almost all members of the Wubihs, the local people of Soçi, had been exterminated in the genocidal campaign; those remaining were forced to migrate to the Ottoman territories -- in this way, the members of this nation were wiped out forever. May 21 represents the anniversary of the painful memories in the past and is observed in silence every year as a day of mourning by the peoples settled in the northwestern Caucasus.

Turkish people who know the year 1915 because of allegations in relation to the Armenian question often have no idea about the year 1864. Why does Turkey have to be defensive all the time vis-à-vis the Armenian genocide allegations? Why is Turkey afraid of its history? Actually, Turkey does not need to fear its past, simply because almost half the people currently living in Turkey are descendants of people who were subject to ethnic cleansing, extermination and genocidal campaigns in the past in different parts of the world. The Adiges, Wubihs, Karaçay and Balkars, Kosaks and Abhkazs of the northwestern Caucasus; the Chechens, the Dagestan people and the Ossets from the northeastern Caucasus; Karabakhs, Azeris, Ahiskans, Terekemes and Karapapaks from the southern Caucasus; Balkan Turks, Albanians, Bosnians, Pomaks, Ulahs, Torbeses and Macedonians from Balkans; Arabs and Jews from Spain; Turks from Crete and Rodos; Cypriots from Cyprus; Turks, Palestinians and Kurds from the Middle East; Uzbeks, Turkmens, the Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Tajiks from Central Asia; and Uygurs from Far East have come to Turkey throughout the past 150 years in pursuit of peace and survival following brutal campaigns against their existence in their original lands. The Anatolian soil has been the land where immigrants and those escaping extermination and annihilation have found peace; why doesn’t Turkey make strong reference to this fact? Why hasn’t a memorial for the genocidal campaigns our ancestors were subjected to been erected in our country? Who are we waiting for? Recently, there have been some attempts to throw roses and cloves on the Bosporus in memory of pains past, but don’t our ancestors deserve a glorious memorial? Don’t the people from the Caucasus, the Balkans, Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, Crimea, Central Asia, East Turkistan, Afghanistan and other places deserve a monument?

The Armenian genocide allegations occupy a central place on Turkey’s agenda. Some Turkish intellectuals rely on an Armenian tragedy discourse. Don’t the people who currently constitute half of the population in Turkey and had to migrate to Turkish soil because of genocidal campaigns in their homelands in the last 150 years have a tragedy? Don’t the Crimean Tatars and Cretan Turks have a tragedy? Is it impossible for non-Christians to suffer a tragedy? Turkish intellectuals should investigate the details of the tragedy of their fellows first instead of the tragedies of neighbors. They should stress that Armenians were asked to migrate and not deported because the Armenians were displaced within the Ottoman soil. They were moved from Anatolia to the Middle East because of the war conditions during World War I. They were not deported. However the Turks and Muslims were deported from the Russian Empire. It is not possible to speak of deportation without exile and cross-border migration. May 21 should be observed in Turkey as a remembrance day for our ancestors.
20.05.2008


Xenophobia Across Europe Threatens Turks, Turkey’s EU Accession Process
The rise of the right strengthens racist parties in Europe because rightist parties keep toughening their remarks in order to win votes normally cast for racist parties. France’s Sarkozy came to power with a strong rightist tone in his speeches similar to that of the racist Jean-Marie Le Pen.

The right has been on the rise in Europe. The rise of the right strengthens racist parties because rightist parties toughen their remarks, thereby becoming closer to racist parties, in order to win votes normally cast for the latter. The most prominent victims of this tough rhetoric are minorities, including Turks and naturalized European citizens, as well as Turkey's likely EU membership.

In recently held British local elections, the Conservative Party's victory and the Labour Party's greatest landslide defeat in the last 40 years have catered to commentaries suggesting that the right will soon be "covering" Europe. The arrival of Christian Democrat Angela Merkel in power in Germany, the maintenance in France of the power in the hands of the right through Nicolas Sarkozy, the restoration of the Christian Democrats to power in Belgium and Italy's latest face of its Fascist Party having become a very strong partner in the government raise the question of "What on earth is happening in Europe?" Exceptions aside, the European right either opposes Turkey's membership or views it unfavorably. Because supporting Turkey's membership is a state policy in countries such as England, Spain, Italy and Sweden, the arrival of rightist parties in power changes nothing. Having placed the rise of the right in Europe under the magnifying glass, Today's Zaman has scrutinized the issue with its different dimensions in mind. The situation in Europe where the right has been getting stronger is as follows:

The French right, which took control of the Elysée Palace in 1995 after the two-term (14 year) presidency of the socialist François Mitterand, consolidated its power with Sarkozy, who was elected last year. If Jacques Chirac's rapidly deteriorated right managed to emerge from the ballot box in 2007 as the winner in both the general and presidential elections, the credit goes to Sarkozy's promises for realizing radical reforms and the left's disorderliness.

Having adopted a harsh stance against immigrants with the slogan “zero tolerance” during his term as interior minister, Sarkozy hardened his stance during his election campaign. He adopted a populist rhetoric toward the Muslim minority and was criticized for his fear-mongering, which was meant to bring him more votes from the far right. His efforts to appeal to this far-right segment paid off during the elections. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s votes dropped from 20 percent in 2002, which had allowed him to move on to the second round of the elections, to 10 percent. As soon as he took office, Sarkozy, as he had promised, immediately created the first Immigration and National Identity Ministry in the history of Europe.

All through his election campaign he defended the idea that Turkey did not belong in Europe and thus opposed its EU accession process, promising to stop the accession process if he was elected. However, at the first European summit he attended as the French president, he clearly saw that he could not stop the accession talks on his own. This time, he chose to impede the process through various methods.

The French leader’s attitude toward legislation about an alleged Armenian genocide -- passed in the French National Assembly in 2006 and which makes it a crime to deny that the alleged mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and after World War I were genocide -- remains unknown, with the legislation still awaiting deliberation in the Senate. The inactivity of the Elysée Palace and the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), the main French center-right political party in power, in regard to this issue so far, is a curious development, whereas the Armenian diaspora in the country demands that this legislation, which penalizes the denial of the alleged genocide, be passed in the Senate before the European parliament elections set for 2009.

German voters not tilting toward far right; center sliding there
The rise of the right observed in many European countries manifests itself in Germany in the form of the center sliding toward the far right. At first glance, the far right in Germany appears weak. Since the late 1960s, German far-right parties have never managed to surpass the 5 percent election threshold and thus could not make it to the Federal Assembly. The number of far rightists in Germany was quoted as 38,600 in 2006. Of all these people, 10,400 were described as “prone to resorting to violence” while 21,500 of them were members of far-rightist parties. Having a closer look at people’s views reveals that between 15 to 20 percent of the German population is closer to the worldview of far rightists.

This apparently small number of members of far-rightist parties is maintained through the policy of claiming the sensitivities of the far-rightist segments. This claim prevents voters from gravitating toward these parties. In particular, the intellectual stream, called the New Right (Neue Rechte), fulfills the function of a bridge between the right and the far right and endeavors to make rightist views dominant among the public. This trend in turn impacts Turks and Turkey’s EU accession process. However, the xenophobia and Islamophobia in Germany that adversely affect the Turks in the country are more prevalent than simply being exclusively rightist or far-rightist feelings. Far rightist views are shared by more than 15 percent of the population; xenophobia is widespread in about 30 percent; and signs of Islamophobia, or enmity towards Islam, are found in two-thirds of the population.

The rise of the right observed in many European countries manifests itself in Germany in the form of the center sliding toward the far right. At first glance, the far right in Germany appears weak. Since the late 1960s, German far-right parties have never managed to surpass the 5 percent election threshold and thus could not make it to the Federal Assembly. The number of far rightists in Germany was quoted as 38,600 in 2006. Of all these people, 10,400 were described as “prone to resorting to violence” while 21,500 of them were members of far-rightist parties. Having a closer look at people’s views reveals that between 15 to 20 percent of the German population is closer to the worldview of far rightists.

This apparently small number of members of far-rightist parties is maintained through the policy of claiming the sensitivities of the far-rightist segments. This claim prevents voters from gravitating toward these parties. In particular, the intellectual stream, called the New Right (Neue Rechte), fulfills the function of a bridge between the right and the far right and endeavors to make rightist views dominant among the public. This trend in turn impacts Turks and Turkey’s EU accession process. However, the xenophobia and Islamophobia in Germany that adversely affect the Turks in the country are more prevalent than simply being exclusively rightist or far-rightist feelings. Far rightist views are shared by more than 15 percent of the population; xenophobia is widespread in about 30 percent; and signs of Islamophobia, or enmity towards Islam, are found in two-thirds of the population.

British right against racist party
In local elections held on May 1, the Conservative Party won 100 of the 159 local governments, with the Labour Party sustaining the heaviest defeat of the last 40 years. It would be more accurate to contend that the Conservative Party’s victory stemmed more from the scandals in which the Labour Party got involved in recent years than a swelling of nationalist feelings. Despite the existence of a far-right party in Britain, only the Liberal Party, in addition to the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, is on the political scene. The Conservative Party frequently emphasizes that people should never vote for the British National Party.

The problems Turks face are mostly those encountered by all Muslims. A survey conducted by the Global Market Institute last year shows that 92 percent of Muslims living in Britain are of the opinion that the source of anti-Islamism is the media. The survey also shows that 50 percent of Britons share this view of Muslims, whereas minorities in Britain think that the Western media stereotypes the Muslim image and that the interpretation of Islam that favors the frequent use of violence, supported by a very small minority, is given very wide coverage in the media and in an extremely exaggerated fashion.

Source of inspiration for European far right: Danish People’s Party
The right wing in Denmark can be categorized under two fronts: While liberal and conservative parties can be described as traditional right, the far right is represented by the Danish People’s Party. The architect of the far right in Denmark is Mogens Glistrup, who founded his Progress Party in 1970. The real rise came about in 1995 when Pia Kjaersgaard parted ways with his “mentor” Glistrup and founded the Danish People’s Party. After building his chief policy on xenophobic roots, Kjaersgaard won 12 percent of the votes in the November 2001 elections and managed to bring 22 deputies into parliament, thereby becoming the key party in terms of “parliament arithmetic.” Kjaersgaard’s Dansk Folkeparti (DF) supported the liberal-conservative coalition government from outside parliament and left its mark on this term. Turning its rhetoric of “Denmark belongs to Danes” into a commonly held view, he managed to make this slogan the only topic of the election agenda. The word “foreigner/immigrant” meant “Muslim” for Kjaersgaard. Asserting “Where Islam exists, tolerance cannot exist,” he also became the secret architect of the harshest immigration law ever, which entered into force on July 1, 2002, in Europe. The DF never allowed for Muslims to cease to be in the spotlight and progressively increased its votes with this policy. Having raised the number of its deputies to 24 in the February 2005 elections, it won 25 seats in parliament in the November 2007 elections, becoming Denmark’s third-largest party.

The Danish People’s Party attacks Islam and Muslims at every opportunity and objects to Turkey’s EU membership. Placing an incessant emphasis on Turkey’s place being in the Middle East, the party spreads fears that Turkey’s membership will mean the invasion of Europe by 70 million Muslims. It also defends cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed and Muslims published by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005 on every ground, while demanding that the headscarf be banned in public places.

According to many experts, the rise of the right in Europe was sparked by the DF’s rise to a key position in Denmark. The most important reason for this rise is that the Social Democrat Party remained indifferent toward problems faced by minorities during its term in power between 1994 and 2001, thereby turning 8 percent of the population into a problematic mass. Although social democrats garnered 90 percent of the ethnic vote in the previous elections, they left minorities high and dry with the rise of the far right and because they changed their message accordingly. They were punished for this by getting the lowest rate of votes of the last 100 years in the November 2007 elections.

Racists become strong partner of government for first time
General elections held in Italy on April 13-14 gave the rightist alliance led by Silvio Berlusconi a landslide victory. Berlusconi, who founded the People’s Party for Freedom (Popolo della Liberta [PDL]) with the support of the National Alliance Party (Alleanza Nazionale [AN]), the latest version of the mutated Fascist Party, and also supported by the Northern League (Lega Nord) from outside parliament, was charged by the Italian people with running the country for five years. The restoration of the rightist alliance to power in Italy will not directly affect the lives of the 20,000 Turks living in the country; however, the fact that Lega Nord holds anti-Islamist and xenophobic ideas and the likelihood that it may put these ideas into practice in the new Berlusconi government, the Turks, who account for a very small percentage among immigrants who live in the country, might also be negatively affected.

Berlusconi’s arrival in power again is not expected to precipitate any negative developments in Turkish-Italian or Turkish-EU relations because Italy supports Turkey’s quest for EU membership as state policy. Just the contrary, it is highly likely that relations between the two countries will further flourish since Berlusconi is a pragmatist merchant-politician and has ties of personal friendship to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that the smaller partner of the rightist alliance, the Northern League, is anti-Turkish.

Swedish far right against both EU, Turkey’s membership
The same voting traits can also be observed in Sweden, with the votes of leftist and social democrat parties progressively falling and those of rightist parties increasing. In the general elections of September 2006, the eight-year social democrat administration ended and a rightist coalition made up of four rightist parties formed the government.

Currently, despite the existence of the Folk Parti, a party known to have a negative stance toward minorities, the government cannot implement blatantly populist policies owing to dominant egalitarian policies. What plays a great role in this is the Swedes’ ingrained idea of being against any sort of discrimination. The most unusual attitudes are probably those adopted by Nyamko Sabuni, the minister of integration and an immigrant himself, whose statements against immigrants and in particular Muslims draw very strong ire.

Like the previous social democrat government, the rightist coalition in power fully supports Turkey’s EU membership. All of the seven parties in the Swedish parliament believe that Turkey’s membership would contribute a positive value to the union and that EU membership is definitely necessary for Turkey to realize its reforms to the fullest extent.

While xenophobia is not allowed to grow, Sweden’s racist party, the Democrats of Sweden, is preparing to carry out an anti-Turkish campaign in order to surpass the 4 percent election threshold to enter parliament. Party officials think that opposing Turkey’s EU membership would earn them new votes.

Party president Jimmi Akesson is known to be a defender of the idea that Sweden should leave the EU. Although his party is against the EU, they will spread propaganda against Turkey’s likely accession to the EU. In the 2006 elections, the Democrats of Sweden got only 2.9 percent of the vote and won a total of 282 seats in 144 local government councils.

With contributions by Today's Zaman reporters Ali Ihsan Aydin from Paris, Ismail Kul from Frankfurt, Hasan Cücük from Copenhagen, Ramazan Kerpeten from Stockholm, Ibrahim Kaya from Rome, and Kamuran Samar from London.
20 May 2008, Selçuk Gültasli Today’s Zaman


An Interview with Amb. Tatoul Markarian
In the following interview, conducted exclusively for the Hairenik and Armenian Weeklies, Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian speaks about the current situation in Armenia, genocide recognition, and Turkish-Armenian relations.

Armenian Weekly—All of us in the diaspora were troubled by the complex post-election political situation in Armenia. What steps have been taken to restore stability in Armenia? What are the main lessons of the February 2008 elections?

Tatoul Markarian—First, we should make a clear a distinction between the election and the post-electoral developments. The February 2008 presidential election was recognized by the 350-strong International Observers’ Mission as being mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards for democratic elections, as the international observers’ mission noted in its initial and subsequent reports. The election is over, and the Constitutional Court upheld the election results.

Unfortunately, the election was overshadowed by the post-electoral developments that presented a serious challenge to democratic process and state institutions. The basic dictum that nothing can justify threatening the fundamentals of our statehood, the stability of our homeland, and the security of Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabagh] by creating artificial divisions was ignored.

President Serge Sarkisian’s dialogue with Armenia’s political forces and civil society has begun, and such efforts will continue in the coming months and years. Following his election, a new political coalition was formed in the National Assembly that represents over 80 percent of the votes of the Armenian electorate. The Armenian leadership believes that only through constructive dialogue, inclusiveness, and tolerance of a variety of constructive ideas and solutions will we be able to draw the right lessons for all of us, and learn to make better choices and policies both domestically and internationally.

The Armenian government realizes that the post-electoral developments in Armenia have placed Armenia and its political process at the center of attention of the international community. Post-electoral events in Armenia, while very regrettable, do not represent a departure from Armenia’s fundamental commitment to democratic development. And we will do everything to restore domestic stability and our nation’s international reputation.

A.W.—The new Armenian government received a vote of confidence in the parliament and started its activities. What are the main priorities and goals set by this government?

T.M.—The new Armenian government, under Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian, will of course continue the progress of previous governments that generated a double-digit economic growth and reduced the poverty rate from 56.1 percent to 26.5 percent currently. President Sarkisian’s election platform and the new government’s program that was approved by the National Assembly on April 30, 2008, set ambitious but realistic goals and priorities. These goals recognize the presence of economic and social challenges, and set out realistic ways to address them.

Defending Armenia’s national security and promoting sustainable economic growth will remain a top priority for the government, including macroeconomic stability and high rates of growth, a reduction in poverty, and further liberalization of the economy. Enhancing competition, and the business and investment climate will work toward meeting such goals. Other priorities include improved governance and public policies and fighting corruption; investing in Armenia’s educational and scientific institutions; focusing on the development of Armenia’s regions to ensure that the economic growth in Yerevan continues to spill over to the rest of Armenia; and addressing social welfare and social security issues.

The government’s targets for 2008-12 include an 8-10 percent annual economic growth evenly spread out between urban and rural areas; reducing the poverty rate to 11 percent and extreme poverty to 1.6 percent; and raising educational spending to 3.5 percent of the GDP and health care investments to 2.2 percent of the GDP. These goals can and will be met by channeling the enterprising and creative potential of the Armenian people, and we all—including the Armenian diaspora—have a role to play in Armenia’s economic growth.

A.W.—How does the new president and government see the future of homeland-diaspora relations?

T.M.—Homeland-diaspora relations were an important focus in President Sarkisian’s election platform and they are also addressed in the program of the new government. Strengthening these ties will thus remain a priority for the Armenian government, especially since these ties have been dynamic across many areas. Underlying this dynamism is our mutual belief that in order to effectively pursue our national goals in the international arena, we should work together to further strengthen Armenian statehood and continue Armenia’s successful democratic transition. And this requires us to be even stronger and unified as ever, especially in the face of recent developments in Armenia.

I would like to use this occasion to extend my deep appreciation to all the leading Armenian-American organizations throughout the diaspora for their wisdom, their great sense of national unity and solidarity, and their unreserved support to the leadership and the people of Armenia.

Since the early years of its existence, the young Armenian state embraced and promoted national issues, including the defense of Artsakh and genocide recognition, and we are proud to see how the diaspora has embraced the newly independent Armenian state and has shared the responsibility through the difficult times in Armenia. National unity is undoubtedly the best guarantor for success in achieving our national goals, such as building a strong and prosperous Armenia, defending the freedom of Artsakh, and achieving international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

A.W.—What is Armenia’s position on the international campaign to recognize the Armenian Genocide? Has Armenia’s policy changed after the election of President Sarkisian?

T.M.—Armenia’s official position on genocide recognition has been stated in public on many occasions over the previous years. The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not just about addressing the historic injustice, but it has a direct bearing on current developments and prospects for peace and stability in the South Caucasus region. Turkey continues to deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire and continues to deflect from addressing the important issues of the present, such as lifting the blockade they have imposed on Armenia for 15 years. This leaves us with no choice but to pursue the recognition of the genocide and a solution of present-day Turkish-Armenian problems internationally.

In his first public remarks on foreign policy, President Sarkisian reiterated that the issues of international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide would remain on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda. And in his Genocide Day address, President Sarkisian noted that “When it comes to genocide condemnation, the denial has no future, especially today, when many countries of the world have added their voices to the voice of truth.” The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not just an Armenian issue. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations and bear universal significance and reverberation and must receive universal recognition.

A.W.—What are the prospects for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations?

T.M.—Our policy toward Turkey will continue under Armenia’s newly elected president. We are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey, just as we have offered consistently since 1991, meaning that Turkey has to resolve all issues bilaterally with Armenia within normally established inter-state relations. This readiness has been reiterated not only by the newly elected president, but also by the newly appointed prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

Armenia’s position is open and transparent. We set no preconditions for the normalization of bilateral relations. We are interested in concrete steps and results, never in a vague process for the sake of process. In this regard, we find that progress is possible.

A.W.—The increasingly aggressive tone in the Azeri official statements and the Azeri incursion on the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabagh and Azeri forces on March 4 generated grave concerns about the peaceful settlement of the Karabagh conflict. Where do we stand in this process?

T.M.—Armenia’s position on the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict remains consistent under the new Armenian leadership. As stated by President Sarkisian and Minister Nalbandian, we believe that the fact and the right of self-determination of the people of Karabagh must be affirmed and recognized internationally. Armenia remains committed to a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Karabagh conflict within the OSCE Minsk Group.

A final settlement is still being negotiated but some realities are already irreversible. The Nagorno-Karabagh Republic has existed since 1991 and conforms to all definitions of an independent state. It has held several presidential and parliamentary elections democratically. Furthermore, it is clear that the Sumgait pogrom, the subsequent massacres and expulsion of the 350,000 Armenians living in Soviet Azerbaijan, as well as the armed hostilities against the Karabagh Armenians and continuing hate rhetoric in Azerbaijan against Armenians and Armenia have created a situation where Azerbaijan can never claim to govern Karabagh. Many in the international community recognize this. And the package on the table mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs recognizes the right of self-determination of Nagorno-Karabagh.
May 17, 2008, Armenian Weekly


Turkish Armenian Relations, Civil Society Dimension, By Asbed Kotchikian
The multidimensional aspects of Turkish-Armenian relations have gone through monumental changes in the last two decades. Some of the more important changes include: the breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of an independent Armenian state, which has added a state-to-state dimension to the bilateral relations; the changing political landscape of Turkey, where in the last decade a rising civil society movement has emerged and started challenging the conventional socio-political processes in the country; and the shifting perceptions within the Armenian diasporas regarding Turkish-Armenian relations after the appearance of an internationally recognized actor—Armenia—and its inclusion in the genocide recognition equation.

This article argues that the civil society dimension in Turkish-Armenian relations is important, based on the premise that only in the case of a well-developed and strong civil society in both entities will it be possible to address the issue of genocide in a constructive way.

Civil society and democracy
The definition of civil society that this research focuses on is taken from the Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics. According to this definition, a civil society:

“...refers to the arena of un-coerced collective action around shared interests, purposes, and values. In theory, its institutional forms are distinct from those of the state, family and market...”

"...commonly embraces a diversity of spaces, actors, and institutional forms, varying in their degree of formality, autonomy, and power. Civil societies are often populated by organizations such as registered charities, development non-governmental organizations, community groups, women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions, and advocacy groups."(1) [Emphasis mine]

This being said, it is important to make it clear that civil society operates independent of democracy; it is quite possible to have elements of civil society operating in non-democratic countries, while at the same time not all democracies are conducive to civil society movements.(2)

While civil society and democracy could be mutually exclusive, civil society and commitment to civil action go hand in hand. Commitment to civil action is characterized as individuals acting in unison to advocate “collective action within an array of interests, institutions and networks, developing civic identity, and involving people in governance processes."(3) Furthermore, commitment to civil action occurs through participation in civil society where individual citizens are provided with opportunities to interact with politicians to influence policy or politics.(4) The development of civil society and civil action are possible either through government encouragement and development of such institutions—in the case of more open and democratic societies—or from a bottom-up process where grass-root organizations coalesce to form civil society groups and encourage citizen participation in political processes.

Finally, in a democratic setting, civil society acts as a mediator between individuals and the state apparatus, hence acting as a conduit to communicate personal views and values into state institutions.(5)

Civil society in Turkey
Today Turkey is undergoing major domestic changes which are not getting the attention that they deserve from the Armenian side. Over the last eight decades, Turkey has been trying to redefine itself and find its place in a changing world, among changing ideas about what it means to be Turkish. A growing number of human rights activists in Turkey as well as increased civil society movements have been trying to force Turkey to change from within as well as without.

From within, the issues of respecting human rights and the rights of minorities have been almost ever present in the public discourse of successive Turkish governments during the last several decades. While this discourse has been initiated and encouraged by Ankara’s continued attempts for European Union membership, the results have been more genuine than one would expect; in late 2004, there were some legislative changes to create a less restrictive environment in Turkey and to allow civil society groups to function as alternatives to the existing state institutions.6 This came as the debate of whether Turkey has viable and self-sustaining civil society movements was “raging” in academic and policy circles.(7)

One manifestation of civil society activism in Turkey occurred in January 2007 with the assassination of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. The assassination of Dink on Jan. 19, 2007 resulted in mass outcries by Turks who regarded Dink and his advocacy important for the development of an open Turkey. There were mass demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of the assassination where demonstrators carried signs that read, “We are all Hrant Dink, we are all Armenians.” While these outcries were cautiously greeted by Armenians, it is quite possible that for those Turks taking the streets, Dink’s assassination provided them with a symbol for their cause to push the envelope for socio-political reforms in Turkey.(8)

Civil society in Armenia
Similar to the situation in Turkey, civil society movements in Armenia are a new phenomenon. The past decade witnessed a rise in scholarship on the development of civil society in the post-Soviet space, in general, and in Armenia, specifically.(9)

Also similar to Turkey, the civil society movement in Armenia has witnessed more activism in the past several years, as there has been considerable advancement in the way civil society groups have functioned beyond the realm of NGO sector development and have shifted their attention from humanitarian assistance to democracy building focusing on issues such as human trafficking and women’s participation in politics.(10)

Furthermore, the mass demonstrations that Armenia witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 presidential elections in February 2008 was viewed by many experts as a sign of a growing number of civil society groups in the country where attention was given on the issue of government accountability and respect for human rights.(11)

Why civil society matters
From the perspective of Turkish-Armenian relations, civil society is bound to play an important role in the enhancement of communication between the two entities. While it is quite possible that the initial stages of communication would have to tackle issues less “painful” than genocide recognition, it is conceivable that over time genocide will be put on the discussion agenda at a popular level and, by extension, at the government level. Civil society is an instrument to allow more voices to be heard in the various socio-political processes in any given country and as such facilitates more representative policies. However, the development of such an atmosphere is conditioned by the establishment of legal boundaries to protect the emerging public space from the influence of state power.(12) Both Turkey and Armenia have gone a long way to create those legal boundaries; however, civil society movements in both countries are still in their infancy and require more time to entrench themselves in their respective countries.

Observing the current social and political developments in Turkey, it is possible to argue that engaging those elements of Turkish society that are adamant to change the political status quo in their country—by advocating for more openness to discuss controversial issues—could yield better results than the oversimplified view that Turkey is the same country it was 30 or even 10 years ago. The lack of parameters for this engagement is what complicates this task. What is meant by parameters is the identification of actors within Turkish society to engage them in communication with their Armenia counterparts; and the setting up of discussion points which, while seemingly non-controversial, could pave the way for a gradual shift towards identifying issues and topics that make Turkish-Armenian rapprochement difficult.

Extended hands over the divide between Turkish and Armenian societies should be based on—and with the goal of—mutual respect for civil society endeavors. Such a goal should be well thought of and articulated to make sure that individuals, groups, parties, and governments on both sides realize that it is mutually beneficial to further the development of civil society. A Turkey where civil society and rule of law prevail would be more likely to recognize the genocide—or at least entertain the idea of talking about the genocide in a critical matter—than one where the government and society are unwilling to even fathom the idea of using the word “genocide.”

EndNotes
1) Definition of civil society, Centre for Civil Society at the London School of Economics at www.lse.ac.uk/collections/CCS/introduction.htm#generated-subheading2, retrieved on March 31, 2008.

2) Brian O’Connell, "Civil Society: Definitions and Descriptions," Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 29 (September 2000), no. 3, p. 477.

3) Terry L. Cooper, Thomas A. Bryer, and Jack W. Meek, “Citizen-Centered Collaborative Public Management,” Public Administration Review 66 (December 2006), supp. 1, p. 76.

4) Ibid.

5) Patrick M. Jenlink, “Creating Public Spaces and Practiced Places for Democracy, Discourse, and the Emergence of Civil Society.” Systematic Practice and Action Research 20 (October 2007), no. 5, p. 432.

6) See Filiz Bikemen, “Progress on Civil Society Legislation in Turkey,” The International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law 7 (February 2005), no. 2.

7) For a detailed discussion on pre-2000 civil society development in Turkey, see M. Lutfullah Karaman and Bulent Aras “The Crisis of Civil Society in Turkey,” Journal of Economic and Social Research 2 (2000), no. 2, pp. 39–58.

8) For a more detailed discussion on this issue, see Asbed Bedrossian and Asbed Kotchikian, “Hrant Dink: The Martyr for Many Causes,” Armenian News Network/Groong Review & Outlook. (Feb. 1, 2007). Available at www.groong.com/ro/ro-20070201.html.

9) See for instance Dirk J. Bezemer and Zvi Lerman, “Rural Livelihoods in Armenia,” Post-Communist Economics (September 2004) 16, no. 3, pp. 333–348; Robert S. Chase, “Supporting Communities in Transition: The Impact of the Armenian Social Investment Fund,” The World Bank Economic Review (2002), 16, no. 2, pp. 219–240; and a very recent exhaustive book by Armine Ishkanian titled Democracy Building and Civil Society in Post-Soviet Armenia (Routledge, 2008).

10) See for instance Anna Walker, “Nations in Transit 2007 Reports: Armenia,” Freedom House Report available at www.freedomhouse.hu/images/fdh_galleries/NIT2007final/nit-armenia-web.pdf, accessed on March 31, 2008.

11) See Armine Ishkanian, “Democracy Contested: Armenia’s Fifth Presidential Elections,” openDemocracy, March 4, 2008. Available at www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/caucasus/armenia_elections, accessed on March 31, 2008.

12) See Michael Bernhard, “Civil Society and Democratic Transition in East Central Europe,” Political Science Quarterly 108 (Summer 1993), no. 2, p. 309.

Armenian Weekly



'Genocide' Book Dropped From Reading List In Canada
20 May 2008, Today's Zaman
A petition campaign launched by Turks living in Canada against a recent decision in Toronto to include in school curricula the study of an alleged genocide of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire has eventually yielded a result, with the book being pulled from the recommended reading list of a new Toronto public school course.

Some 11,000 petitions have been collected in the online petition campaign. In January, the Unity Group, consisting of several Turkish NGOs in Canada, said that the course would put at risk the lives of Turkish and Muslim students in high schools. The group called on authorities to reverse the decision to include the course, created by one of the largest school boards in Canada, the Toronto District School Board, in the 2008-2009 curriculum.

Barbara Coloroso's "Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide" was originally part of a resource list for the grade 11 history course, "Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity," set to launch across the Toronto District School Board district this fall. The book examines the Holocaust, which exterminated 6 million Jews in World War II;
the Rwandan slaughter of nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994; and the killings of Anatolian Armenians at the beginning of the last century.

"But a committee struck to review the course decided in late April to remove the book because 'a concern was raised regarding [its] appropriateness. ... The Committee determined this was far from a scrupulous text and should not be on a History course although it might be included in a course on the social psychology of genocide
because of her posited thesis that genocide is merely the extreme extension of bullying,' according to board documents," The Globe and Mail, an English-language Canadian daily, reported on Friday.


Board Removes Book On Genocide
May 17, 2008 Brett Popplewell, Staff Reporter www.thestar.com
The Toronto District School Board has removed a recent book about human atrocities from the curriculum of a new high school course after a committee was asked to look into public concerns over the book's treatment of the Armenian genocide.

Barbara Coloroso's Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide had been selected as a resource for a new Grade 11 history course about genocide and crimes against humanity, but the book and the course came under review after they were challenged by members of the Canadian Turkish community.

While the board's review committee decided to remove Coloroso's book from the curriculum, deeming it "far from a scrupulous text," the Armenian genocide will still be taught in the course.
Coloroso, the bestselling author of parenting books, draws similarities between behaviour exhibited in childhood bullying and that exhibited in a genocide.

In addition to dealing with the mass murder of more than a million Armenians, the book also examines the Holocaust that killed six million Jews during World War II and the Rwanda genocide of almost a million Tutsis in 1994.
The course's inclusion of the Armenian genocide has been controversial since its initial announcement and was met by a petition with more than 1,200 signatures opposed to the book and the course.

"To pick Armenia as a genocide when it is so controversial – especially when there are atrocities by other countries that could have been chosen – is just wrong," Lale Eskicioglu, executive director of the Council of Turkish Canadians, said prior to delivering the petition.

Officially, the Turkish government views the slaughter of the Armenians as wartime casualties of World War I, with both sides guilty of some provocation.

Board representatives declined to comment on the matter last night because members of the community can still appeal the decision.
With files from Louise Brown


Education And Genocide, Ethnic Pressure , Globe And Mail Editorial, 19 May 2008
The Toronto District School Board has set a dangerous prec­edent by yielding to demands from the Turkish-Canadian com­munity that it withdraw a book about genocide from the recom­mended reading list of a new high school course.

The board's capitulation over the inclusion of Barbara Coloroso's Ex­traordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide in a grade 11 history course called Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity creates the unsettling perception that individual ethnic groups can dictate the way we teach history in our public schools.

Other boards across Canada have already shown interest in replicating the new course, which magnifies the implications of blacklisting Ms. Col­oroso's work.

The complaints stretched well beyond the book to claims that more than a million Armenian deaths in the early aoth century should be excluded from genocide studies, echoing assertions by the Turkish state and some scholars that the victims were casualties of the First World War.

To the board's credit, the course will still classify the massacres as a genocide while encouraging student awareness of conflicting opinions, a laudable stance given that the over­whelming mass of scholarship on the subject has approved the geno­cide label, as have Canada, 21 other countries and 41 U.S. states.

But its assertion that the book has been pulled because it is "not a good example of rigorous historical schol­arship" raises questions about the board's own rigour in choosing the text in the first place. If it is as his­torically shaky as now claimed, it should never have reached the list.

Board documents claim the book was chosen for its relevance to the course - both focus on the tragedies of Armenia, Rwanda and the Holo­caust - and call Ms. Coloroso "a re­nowned educator." Reviews of the book describe her as an accom­plished lecturer and an expert in parenting and education, all of which casts doubt on claims that her writing is unsuitable for high school students.

The decision also promises to con­sider a lobbyist's request to include texts by Bernard Lewis and Guenter Lewy. Some Armenian groups ques­tion the scholarly reputations of both writers for their public denials that the deaths constituted geno­cide.

The board softened its stance slightly by allowing that Ms. Color­oso's text could be useful for a seg­ment of the course, on the social psychology of genocide, because of its thesis that describes genocide as akin to schoolyard bullying, another subject she has studied extensively.

Last week Ms. Coloroso said she is frustrated that the board had been bullied by a small group. She of all people seems unlikely to use the term "bully" lightly, and her lament is sure to resonate with those who treat history as a controversial field that invites debate.


Armenia And Turkey Interests Don’t Coincide
20.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia MP, member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Armen Ashotuan thinks that the true and announced interests of Turkey and Armenia do not coincide.

“If the interests, which are just declared, can be compared, so the true interests clash only,” Ashotyan told “Global Challenges and Threats: Are Joint Efforts between Armenia and Turkey Possible?” international conference in Yerevan.

“If Armenia needs Turkey as a steadily developing neighbor, Turkey needs Armenia at the instigation of world powers and major international organizations,” the MP said.

“Armenia’s global and regional interests focus international recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, open communication and recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey is aspired to join the EU and maintain Turkish unity,” he noted.

“Turkish unity supposes that Turkey doesn’t accept any possibility of relations with Armenia unless the Karabakh problem is resolved. Fearing for its territorial inviolability, it keeps on denying the Armenian Genocide, which is frequently used as a stumble block for Turkey’s accession to the EU,” Ashotyan said, Novosti Armenia reports.


Children Should Not Be Raised To Hate, May 21, 2008, Washington - Anatolia News Agency
A senior Turkish diplomat Monday called on Armenians not to raise their children with hatred and put behind historic animosity between the two countries.

Speaking at the Potomac Institute's "The Future of Turkey-U.S. Strategic Partnership" seminar, Nabi Sensoy, Turkey's ambassador to Washington, said that the American Congress' attempt to pass an Armenian resolution had brought Turkish-American relations "to the brink of disaster," and that he was glad the American administration's resolve had put those days behind.

When an attendee of Armenian descent criticized Turkey for what he called “its policy of intimidation,” pointing out that Armenian resolutions in other countries had not resulted in disasters in diplomatic relations, Sensoy replied, "This is a deep and complicated matter; the best way to move forward is for the two sides to get together and debate until the truth is out in the open."

"We should not raise children to hate. We do not do that in Turkey. How open is the Armenian diaspora to meet Turks?”

He reminded the audience that accusations of an embargo against Armenia were false and that today Turkey was Armenia's fifth-biggest trade partner. The ambassador said he was hoping that relations between the two nations will normalize and that there will be many positive new developments.

On the other hand, the 2006 amendment in Armenia's penal code forbidding any opposition to the official state view on the events of 1915 was unfortunate, said Sensoy reminding the audience that nobody in Turkey had been convicted over thoughts on the Armenian issue so far.


Cypriot Armenians’ Trust In Turkish Community Depends On Its Attitude About Armenian And Greek Genocides
21.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The contacts between the Armenian and Turkish communities of Cyprus have become more active, head of the Hai Dat Cyprus Office said.

“Both Armenian and Turkish communities were invited by presidential candidates for discussion of a scope of issues on the threshold of the election. During the meeting, the representatives of the Armenian community noted that the degree of trust in the Turkish community depends on its attitude about the Armenian and Greek genocides,” Hakob Manoogian told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

As to unification of the Greek and Turkish parts of the island, the UN plan is unreal, according to him.

“The population of Cyprus understands that Kofi Annan’s plan can’t be implemented unless Turkish troops are withdrawn,” Mr Manoogian said.


Turkish Scientists And Politicians Fear To Publicly Recognize Armenian Genocide
21.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ According to the Cypriot Constitution, the Armenian community of Cyprus is a national minority empowered to have representatives in the parliament and government.

“Election of Marios Garoyian the Parliament Speaker of Cyprus has cemented the positions of the Armenian community as a full-fledged participant in the country’s political processes,” head of the Hai Dat Office Cyprus Hakob Manoogian told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

“We are proud that the Speaker represents the Armenian community. I’d like to mention that Garoyan doesn’t conceal his Armenian origin. But we all are citizens of Cyprus and work for its glory,” he said.

Mr Manoogian also informed that the Hai Dat Cypriot Office serves on the European Armenian Federation (EFAJD). “We coordinate our moves with the EFAJD leadership. As you know, Cyprus recognizes the Armenian Genocide. More and more Turkish Cypriots admit that Turkey really perpetrated the Genocide. However, Turkish scientists and politicians fear to publicly acknowledge this historical fact,” he emphasized.


Global Peace Index 2008: Azerbaijan One Of Most Aggressive Countries In The World
21.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Most countries in the world are performing better against key measures of peacefulness compared with last year, according to the latest rankings of the Global Peace Index(GPI), now in its second year.

This year the Index has been expanded to rank 140 countries – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe - according to how peaceful they are, both domestically and how they interact with the outside world.

Azerbaijan ranks 101, thus entering the list of the most aggressive countries of the world. Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are the most peaceful among the post soviet republics, the Financial Times reports.

The Index is constructed from 24 indicators of external and internal measures of peace including UN deployments overseas and levels of violent crime.

Iceland, making its first appearance in the Index, tops the rankings. Countries in Scandinavia have also emerged as among the most peaceful countries on the planet with Denmark (2) and Norway (3) scoring very highly. New Zealand (4) and Japan (5) - the only member of the G8 in the top ten - complete the highest ranked. The United States held virtually steady at number 97, dropping one slot from last year’s rank of 96.

But other nations, including Angola (110), Indonesia (68) and India (107), have demonstrated the greatest improvements compared to last year’s Index.

Based on a direct comparison of the 121 countries measured in the GPI 2007 to GPI 2008, a majority of the individual indicators have seen slight improvements. On average, scores for level of organized conflict (internal) and violent crime, political instability and potential for terrorist acts have all improved marginally. In contrast, the world’s armed services have grown on average per country, as has the sophistication of its weaponry.

Other key findings: small, stable and democratic countries are the most peaceful - 16 of the top 20 are western or central European democracies; the G8 fared very differently: Japan (5), Canada (11), Germany (14), Italy (28), France (36), UK (49), United States (97), Russia (131); Iraq is the lowest ranked country on the Index (140).


Turkey Offers $20 Million To Armenian Diaspora To Open Armenian Archives in Boston
Head of Turkey's state-funded Turkish Historical Society (TTK) Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu offered to give $20 million aid for the classification and opening of the Armenian archives in the U.S. city of Boston. Halacoglu who spoke to Hurriyet said that the Armenian archives in Boston included very important documents regarding the tragic events of 1915 and about the 500,000 Armenians who – he claims - currently live in Turkey with changed identities.

Hurriyet quoted Halacoglu as saying, "The Armenians had said that they don't have money to sort through and categorize the archives, and therefore they cannot open them. I openly told them, 'We can give you the money needed and open those archives', but they did not respond to my offer". Halacoglu said that he had spoken about his proposal with members of U.S. Congress and journalists, as well as two Armenian historians Ara Sarafian and Hilmar Kaiser. He said that the opening of the archives in Boston would launch a real debate on the issue and added, "This would directly open a debate over their genocide claims. Armenians are aware of this and they are doing their best not to come to the table".

Turkey has been urging Armenians to open the archives in Armenia and in the U.S. for objective historians to study and evaluate the incidents of 1915.
Source: Hurriyet, Turkey, May 20, 2008


Russian-Azerbaijani Relations: New Stage of Development 21 May 2008
The year of 2008 is very important for Azerbaijan, since the presidential election is to take place in the country this year. Besides, the year of 2008 is important for the entire South Caucasus. The Russian-Caucasian relations may break new horizons, and this can concern Georgia, Azerbaijan and even Armenia. I believe that Russia and the Caucasian states will understand each other better in spite of the current strained
relations between Moscow and Tbilisi.

As for the Russian-Azerbaijani relations, I think that they will develop within the framework of the diversification of Azerbaijan's foreign policy and economic relations. In Russia this new trend is being adapted to, it is understood that the new independent states are guided by the national interests rather than by nostalgic feelings.

Moscow and Baku will continue getting used to each other. Something will be taken painfully. For example, new oil and gas routes through Azerbaijan will meet with Russia’s rejection.

The parties will pin their great hopes on new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Anyway, he does not make strongly-worded statements that we used to hear. Of course, this is good.

The important question is how the territorial conflicts will be settled. This year drastic decisions will not be taken. I do not know when they will be taken. But I feel that pragmatism tells.

One can say that formerly Russia could use the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to influence the participants of the conflict – Armenia and Azerbaijan. But I believe that now these countries are likely to use the conflict to influence Russia. For example, when it is said that if Russia does not change its position on the conflict, Azerbaijan will bring about a rapprochement with the West.

Alexey VLASOV, general director of the Information and Analytical Center for Study of the Social and Political Processes in the post-Soviet space, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow
The hopes or apprehensions of the experts who believe that after the change of power in Russia the Kremlin’s foreign policy will be changed drastically are unlikely to be realized. In the short term the policy, which Vladimir Putin conducted during his second presidential term, will be followed.

How is that connected with the South Caucasus? I think that neither Russia nor the Western states have produced the new rules of the game that should be clearly formulated due to the dynamic development of the situation in the South Caucasus as well as in Central Asia.

The chaotic processes, which will be still more intense after the Kosovo precedent, result from the unbalanced strategy of the Russian Federation. It is not clear if we should proceed from the “closed concepts”, namely the South Caucasian problems should be resolved within the region with Russia acting as a moderator, or we should go over to “open strategies” and say that the EU and NATO have certain interests in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. If that is so, we must sit down at the negotiating table together with the Western politicians and draw up the rules of the game.

For today Russia’s foreign policy, there are no synchronous actions in different areas. That’s why the policy pursued towards Abkhazia and South Ossetia differs from the policy pursued towards the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Rasim MUSABEKOV, political scientist, Baku
If the Caucasian conflicts are not settled, the relations between the regions’ states and with Russia are unlikely to become stable. Azerbaijan’s foreign policy must focus on elimination of consequences of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan that led to the occupation of not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also the territory where there were six times as many people as there were the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.

I believe that this is the major impediment to the development of the Azerbaijani-Russian relations. When Vladimir Putin was the Russian President, those relations became much better and much more pragmatic. The economic relations’ potential is not exhausted. Azerbaijan is the largest market in the Caucasus. Many Azerbaijanis speak Russian.

As regards the security issues, Azerbaijan does not try to reduce the problems to the mass media squabbles. I believe that if Azerbaijan does not see the change of Moscow’s attitude in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, it will be extremely difficult to stop Azerbaijan’s drift in the Western and NATO direction.

The stage when Russia tried to prevent Azerbaijan from developing the Caspian Sea energy resources became a thing of the past. This country implemented the large-scale projects concerning the oil and gas exploitation and supplies to the world markets sidestepping Russia. Today Azerbaijan is getting Russia’s competitor as oil and gas exporter, though not very serious, in the international markets.

There is a different kind of interest in building the relations with Azerbaijan. Gazprom displays an interest in the purchases of the Azerbaijani gas. This is reasonable and can be negotiated pragmatically.

At present there is a clash of positions on the Transcaspian projects of the energy supplies. If Azerbaijan reaches the agreement with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, this will be difficult to stave off. If there are consumers and suppliers of those energy resources, it will be almost impossible to prevent those projects from being implemented.

Rashad RZAQULIYEV, head of the Foundation of Social Developments, Baku
We should view the Russian-Azerbaijani relations in the context of shaping the Eurasian policy. It is Russia that plays a certain role in the formation of a new fair order in Eurasia. In this respect Russia’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement will be an important and serious part of the big geopolitical game.

If Russia fails to stop a split of the Eurasian space by the foreign forces, then at least the Nagorno-Karabakh issue can change the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus.

The past experience does not allow us to hope that Russia will change its position on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. In my opinion, Azerbaijan itself should be concerned about its territorial integrity and sovereignty. I’m sure that Azerbaijan is able to resolve those problems or will be able to do that in the near future.

The problem is different. The global political situation is formed by a small group of the states. The Russian political elite must continue to be conscious of their responsibility for their country as well as for the large area that is historically and culturally connected with Russia. The maintenance of order in the South Caucasus should proceed from Russia’s national interests.

The material is based on the experts’ addresses during the video conference Moscow-Baku “Russian-Azerbaijani relations: New Stage of Development”. The video conference was organized by the Russian News and Information Agency RIA Novosti on May 13, 2008.
Alexey Malashenko, Alexey Vlasov, Rasim Musabekov, Rashad Rzaquliyev,
Moscow – Baku
Alexey MALASHENKO, scholar-in-residence, program co-chair, the Carnegie Moscow Center
www.turkishweekly.net/


Meeting Between Armenian And Turkish Young People Takes Place In Kars Noyan Tapan
May 19, 2008
YEREVAN. 20 Armenian young men left for the town of Kars on the initiative of the Association of Young Women of Armenia to take part in the program under the title Role of the Youth in Social Work.

According to the Association, the group of Armenian young men is headed by Lilit Asatrian, the Chairwoman of the organization.

Program's goal is to mitigate the stereotypes among youth in Armenia and Turkey, to give them a possibility to get acquainted with the two countries' cultures, and to form cultural understanding through voluntary work.

A working discussion on subjects of communication, dialogue, and peace will be also organized within the framework of the program, as well as a visit to Ani is planned.


The Opening Of The Armenian-Turkish Border Is A Political Project And In The Economically Armenia Does Not Need It, Neither Does Turkey
PanARMENIAN.Net, 17.05.2008
The opening of the borders can have a negative impact on Armenia and also in the regard that the war between the Turkish regular army and the Kurds may noticeably approach the Armenian border.

The congressman Adam Schiff introduced the bill calling the US President of Senate to urge Turkey to raise the blockade of the Armenian border. "The act of raising the Turkish blockade of the Armenian border" presumes a response from the Secretary of State about the measures of the USA for raising the blockade of the Armenian blockade in 30 days after final passing of the document. "We must intensify the pressure on Turkey so that it raises the terrible blockade of the Armenian border, which will allow the Armenian entrepreneurs to fully participate in the global economic procedures, as well as will promote Armenia's integration into Europe," said Adam Schiff.

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ According to the assessment of the US Secretary of States, due to the blockade the transport expenses of Armenia make 30-35% more than it normally would. Besides, the blockade puts obstacles on the way of American and international humanitarian aids, which is a violation of the US and international humanitarian aid standards.

Lately Azerbaijan has become the most active "protector" of Turkey on the international arena. One can understand Baku very well; it Turkey is suddenly forced to deploy the border with Armenia, which is by the way under blockade with the request of Azerbaijan, Baku will be left all alone in the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. Turkey is not a very reliable ally, but Azerbaijan does not have any other choice.

The issue of the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border has a different interpretation in Turkey. For example, the Deputy of the National Assembly of Turkey, the former State Minister Reshat Dogry announced: "From time to time this question is raised in Turkey. However, I think that no international organization will be able to make Turkey open the borders with Armenia unless the Karabakh Conflict is resolved, unless Armenia gives up the idea of its claims on territorial integrity towards Turkey, and finally, unless Armenia does not stop putting pressure on Turkey in the issue of the Armenian Genocide. This is the viewpoint of the Turkish nation and government," says the Azeri Agency APA.

Unfortunately, the current Administration of the USA will hardly be able, or will hardly want "to call Turkey to open the borders," but maybe the next one will not follow Ankara's tastes so blindly. First of all the USA, only then Armenia and the entire region need it.

The opening of the Armenian-Turkish borders, as it has been mentioned more than once, is simply a political project and in the economically Armenia does not need it, neither does Turkey. In the given situation we should take a closer look at Georgia, whose economics and industry was destroyed due to the Turkish stock.

Something like this may be expected for Armenia. In the economic point of view it is better to enjoy the contacts one has and not want anything else. The strange thing is that the Turkish party is of the same opinion. Non-official turnover of $400 million between the two countries is most acceptable.

Together with this we should not forget, that in the provinces bordering on Armenia are mostly populated by Kurds and sons of the Armenians who have survived 1915. The opening of the borders can have a negative impact on Armenia and also in the regard that the war between the Turkish regular army and the Kurds may noticeably approach the Armenian border, which is a very serious problem. Based on the national security of Armenia, in the given situation the closed borders with Turkey, at present, is the smallest of all evil, not mentioning the fact that on the maps of the Great Kurdistan the huge territory between Turkey and Armenia is "sought by Kurdish territories".


U.S. Willing To Strengthen Ties Between Armenia And Turkey
20.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The U.S. government works to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey, said Steve Banks, Political/Economic Chief at the U.S. Embassy Yerevan.

“NGO efforts can be helpful for diplomatic moves,” Mr Banks told an international conference organized by Eurasia Partnership Foundation jointly with the Analytical Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation.

The Armenia-Turkey Cross-Border Dialogue and Cooperation Program was launched in 2006 by Eurasia Foundation (EF).

“The program is meant to contribute to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey is by strengthening the capacities of non-government, local government and business sectors,” Mr Banks said.

“Today’s conference is an effort to create a basis for international and regional integration, what is extremely important for sustainable economic integration,” he added, Novosti Armenia reports.


“I Am Sad In Armenia” Valerie Gortzounian, May 19, 2008
Today I am sad. Thirteen years ago I decided to leave France, my third homeland, and relocate to Armenia, with the intention to invest in the fatherland, which I did by creating the Le Cafe de Paris. I invested my time, energy, health and resources, so printable version

Over time the Cafe has become a favorite place to do business, meet friends and just relax. However my little dream has turned into an unending nightmare. Not wishing to delve into my personal problems, I’d just like to simple note that due to my faith, perhaps misplaced, in my fellow man I gave a loan to a person. This person claimed that he couldn’t repay the loan while actually he just refused to do so. When I took this person into my business, out of a sense of charity, I realized that he was periodically stealing from me along with other employees he had won the loyalty of. These employees, like their patron, had become corrupted, one more than the other. I could say that this is a fairly commonplace occurrence that can happen anywhere. But everywhere else there is a system of justice that serves as strong defender of one’s rights and interests. The justice system is there to grab the hand of the thief...This is the reality everywhere except in my beloved Armenia where the practice of justice is corrupt to the very core, where compromises are made with the guilty party, where the weak are preyed upon for all they have, the spoils to be split with the powerful, and where money is valued more than the truth. This is the reason for my grief. I am sad that our beloved Armenia, so dear to our hearts, has ceased to function normally. I am sad because in the event that things continue in this way I will be forced to close the Cafe and return to France.
www.hetq.am


While the continuing struggle between Armenian and Turkish officials and activists for or against the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 shows no sign of abating, and while its dynamics are becoming largely predictable, a new actor is increasingly attracting attention for its willingness to join this “game.” It is Azerbaijan, which has—since 1988—been engaged in at times lethal conflict with Armenians over Mountainous Karabagh.

In modern times, Armenians have often found it difficult to decide whether they should view the Turks (of Turkey) and the Azerbaijanis as two separate ethnic groups—and thus apply two mutually independent policies towards them—or whether they should approach them as only two of the many branches of a single, pan-Turkic entity, pursuing a common, long-term political objective, which would—if successful—end up with the annihilation of Armenians in their historical homeland.

Indeed, almost at the same time that the Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire was attracting worldwide attention, extensive clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis first occurred in Transcaucasia in 1905. Clashes—accompanied, on this occasion, with attempts at ethnic cleansing—resumed with heightened intensity after the collapse of tsarism in 1917. They were suppressed only in 1921, by the Russian-dominated communist regime, which reasserted control over Transaucasia, forced Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to join the Soviet Union, and imposed itself as the judge in the territorial disputes that had plagued these nations. The communists eventually endorsed Zangezur as part of Armenia, while allocating Nakhichevan and Mountainous Karabagh to Azerbaijan. This arrangement satisfied neither side. A low-intensity Armenian-Azerbaijani struggle persisted during the next decades within the limits permitted by the Soviet system. Repeated Armenian attempts to detach Mountainous Karabagh from Azerbaijan were its most visible manifestation.

At the time, Turkey was outside of Soviet control and formed part of a rival bloc in the post-World War II international order. The difference in the type of relations Armenia had with Turkey and Azerbaijan during the Soviet era partly dictated the dissimilar ways the memories of genocide and inter-ethnic violence were tackled by Soviet Armenian historians until 1988. Benefiting from Moscow’s more permissive attitude from the mid-1950’s, Soviet Armenian historians, backed implicitly by the country’s communist leadership, openly accused the Turks of genocide, but made no parallels between the circumstances under which Armenians had been killed in the Ottoman Empire or during clashes with Azerbaijanis earlier in the 20th century. Getting Moscow’s acquiescence, especially if their works would be published in Moscow and/or in Russian, was not easy for Armenians. However, Soviet Armenian historians were, at the same time, “protected” from challenges by Turkish state-supported revisionism (or, as others describe it, negationism), which was suppressed even more firmly within the Soviet Union.

Hence, it is still difficult to know what Soviet Azerbaijani historians thought about the Armenian Genocide of 1915: Were they more sympathetic to arguments produced by Soviet Armenian historians or those who had the blessing of the authorities in Ankara? The polemic between Soviet Armenian and Soviet Azerbaijani historians centered from the mid-1960’s on the legacy of Caucasian Albania. A theory developed in Soviet Azerbaijan assumed that the once Christian Caucasian Albanians were the ancestors of the modern-day Muslim Azerbaijanis. Thereafter, all Christian monuments in Soviet Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan (including all medieval Armenian churches, monasteries and cross-stones, which constituted the vast majority of these monuments) were declared to be Caucasian Albanian and, hence, Azerbaijani. Medieval Armenians were openly accused of forcibly assimilating the Caucasian Albanians and laying claim to their architectural monuments and works of literature. This was probably the closest that Soviet Azerbaijanis came—in print—to formally accusing the Armenians of committing genocide against their (Caucasian Albanian) ancestors.(2)

Since 1988, however, as the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Mountainous Karabagh has gotten bloodier and increasingly intractable, the Azerbaijani positions on both negating the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and accusing Armenians of having themselves committed a genocide against the Azerbaijanis have become more pronounced and now receive full backing from all state institutions, including the country’s last two presidents, Heydar and Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijani officials, politicians, and wide sections of civil society, including the head of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Haji Allahshukur Pashazada, as well as numerous associations in the Azerbaijani diaspora, now fully identify themselves with Turkey’s official position that the Armenian Genocide is simply a lie, intentionally fabricated in pursuit of sinister political goals. Even representatives of the Georgian, Jewish, and Udi ethnic communities in Azerbaijan have joined the effort. Unlike in Turkey, there is not yet a visible minority in Azerbaijan that openly disagrees with their government’s stand on this issue. This probably explains the absence of the Azerbaijani judiciary in the campaign to deny the 1915 genocide. If there are officials or intellectuals who remain unconvinced with this theory propagated by their government, it seems that they still prefer to keep a very low profile.

The Azerbaijani position depicts the same ambiguity as Ankara’s. On the one hand, repeating almost verbatim the arguments in mainstream Turkish historiography, they flatly deny that what happened to Armenians was genocide. At the same time, they frequently contend that this historical issue remains controversial to this day and that these genocide claims need to be further investigated. These two positions can be reconciled only if the outcome of the proposed additional research is pre-determined, whereby the proponents of the genocide explanation would eventually concede that they had been wrong all along. Indeed, Azerbaijanis try to show that Armenians are avoiding such a debate because they fear that they will lose the argument.

Azerbaijanis argue that Armenians want to convince the world that they were subjected to genocide because they plan to take advantage of this to push forward their sinister aims. They warn that, after achieving international recognition of the genocide, Armenians will demand compensation and raise territorial claims against Turkey. Moreover, Azerbaijanis maintain that Armenians, by pursuing the issue of genocide recognition, are seeking to divert international attention from their continuing aggression against Azerbaijan, including the occupation of Mountainous Karabagh. Moreover, any prominence given to the Armenian Genocide claims may—according to Azerbaijanis—also aggravate prejudice and hatred in the South Caucasus, make it difficult to maintain peace, and further delay the just regulation of the Karabagh conflict, which—they argue—is already being hindered because of Armenian intransigence and arrogance. The Azerbaijanis claim that by recognizing the Armenian Genocide, foreign countries will show themselves “to be in cooperation and solidarity with aggressor Armenia.”(3) They will also justify the actions of Armenia, which—for Azerbaijan—is a country that encourages terrorism. They will also become an instrument in the hands of (Armenian) instigators trying to stir up enmity among these countries, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and even the entire Turkic and Islamic world.

In the specific cases of both the United States and France, which are heavily involved in attempts to regulate the Karabagh conflict, recognizing the Armenian Genocide will—argue Azerbaijani sources—cast a shadow on their reputation as bastions of justice and old democratic traditions. It will also weaken their role in the Caucasus and perhaps in the whole world. Reacting to French deliberations to penalize the denial of the Armenian Genocide, Azerbaijanis argued that this would curtail free speech. In Estonia and Georgia, local Azerbaijani organizations have argued that the formal commemoration of the genocide may lead to a conflict between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities living in those countries. Commenting on the discussion of the Armenian Genocide issue in the French legislature, an Azerbaijani deputy stated that the adoption of that bill might result in all Turks and Azerbaijanis having to leave France. Indeed, some Azerbaijanis have gone so far as to argue that pursuing the genocide recognition campaign is not helpful to Armenia either; such resolutions would further isolate Armenia in the Caucasus, while only leaders of Armenian diaspora organizations would benefit. In fact, those Armenians whose relatives died in 1915 should—according to Azerbaijani analysts—be saddened by such manipulation of their families’ tragedy in exchange for some political gains today.

Nevertheless, Azerbaijanis admit that the current Armenian strategy has had some success in convincing third parties that there was a genocide in 1915. Azerbaijanis attribute this success to a number of factors: the prevailing ignorance in the West regarding the real situation in the Caucasus; the strength of the lobbying efforts of the Armenian diaspora; and the prevailing anti-Turkic and anti-Islamic bias in the “Christian” West.

Because Armenian Genocide resolutions are usually pushed by legislators and opposed by the executive branches of various governments, the Azerbaijanis differ in their explanation of this trend. Some put the blame solely on ignorant, selfish, and short-sighted legislators, while others argue that the executive branch is also involved in these efforts. Vafa Quluzada, a former high-ranking Azerbaijani diplomat and presidential adviser, claimed that George Bush and Condoleezza Rice stood behind the resolution passed by the House International Relations Committee on Oct. 10, 2007. “The Armenian lobby was created by the U.S. administration,” he said. “If otherwise, who would allow the Armenian Assembly to sit in the building of the Congress?” Quluzada claimed that the “Americans established [the Armenian lobby] and support it in order to cover up their expansion in the world.”(4)

Within the context of their campaign against the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, Azerbaijanis often repeat the official Turkish argument that evaluating the events of 1915 is more a job for historians than politicians. Azerbaijani officials and parliamentarians have publicly objected to the laying of wreaths by foreign dignitaries at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, the possible use of the term “genocide” in the annual U.S. presidential addresses on April 24, and the discussion of this issue in national parliaments or by international organizations. Azerbaijani deputies have established direct contact with foreign parliamentarians to explain their viewpoint. At the same time, Azerbaijani politicians, pundits, and news agencies consistently downplay the political weight of foreign parliamentarians who raise the genocide issue in their respective legislatures.

Moreover, organizations of Azerbaijani civil society have organized pickets and demonstrations in front of the embassies of states in Baku, which were feared to be taking steps towards recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Azerbaijani television stations have also filmed documentaries on location in Turkey recording what they describe as acts of Armenian tyranny in Ottoman times. A Russian television station, which is transmitted regularly in Azerbaijan, was temporarily taken off the air when it showed Atom Egoyan’s film “Ararat.” In October 2006, when the French National Assembly was debating the passage of the bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide, Azerbaijani Public Television and a number of private television stations stopped showing films and clips produced in France. Finally, hackers from Azerbaijan continually attack Armenian sites with messages denying the Armenian Genocide.

Azerbaijani expatriates have also been active. On April 24, in both 2002 and 2003, Azerbaijani deputies in the Georgian parliament attempted to block suggestions by their Armenian colleagues to pay homage to the memory of Armenian Genocide victims. Azerbaijani expatriates of lesser standing have, in turn, often held demonstrations, issued statements, held press conferences, and organized books and photograph exhibitions in various countries where they reside. In the United States, the Azeris’ Union of America reported on March 15, 2006 that it had “distributed more than 600 statements and letters denouncing Armenian lies among American congressmen and senators.”(5) Azerbaijanis in America also reportedly earned the gratitude of Douglas Frantz, the managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, by sending hundreds of letters to the newspaper in his support, after he was criticized for preventing the publication of an article on the genocide by Mark Arax.(6) The State Committee on Work with Azerbaijanis Living Abroad seems to be the conduit of much of the information on such activities in the Azerbaijani diaspora. There is also evidence that the Azerbaijani embassies are often directly involved in organizing some of the said demonstrations by Azerbaijani expatriates.

Among the books distributed by Azerbaijani activists in order to propagate their own views to foreigners are some of the publications that have been printed in Baku since 1990 in Azerbaijani, Russian and English. Some of these works are authored by Azerbaijanis; others are Russian-language translations (and, in one case, a Romanian translation) of works by George de Maleville and Erich Feigl, and of Armenian Allegations: Myth and Reality: A Handbook of Facts and Documents, compiled by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations—all acclaimed by the supporters of the Turkish state-approved thesis regarding the 1915 deportations. In June 2001, Baku State University invited Feigl to Azerbaijan. He was later awarded the Order of Honor by President Ilham Aliyev. In August 2002, Samuel A. Weems, the author of Armenia: Secrets of a Christian Terrorist State, also visited Baku at the invitation of the Sahil Information and Research Center.

Former and serving Turkish diplomats, as well as Turkish and Azerbaijani parliamentarians, have repeatedly called for further cooperation and the development of a common strategy—both at the official and civil society levels—to foil Armenian lobbying efforts. Part of this cooperation is within the realm of Turkish and Azerbaijani academia; conferences dedicated fully to the Armenian issue or panels on this topic within the confines of broader academic gatherings—with the participation of Azerbaijani, Turkish, and sometimes other experts—have taken place frequently in Baku, Istanbul, Erzerum, and other locations. Among the longer-term projects, one may point out that the Turkish Historical Society, Baku State University, the Institute of Azerbaijani History, and the Association of Businessmen of Azerbaijan-Turkey established a joint working group on May 15, 2006 to make the international community aware of the Armenian issue. It would meet once every three months, alternating between Baku and Ankara. The following year, the League of Investigating Journalists in Azerbaijan launched a Center for Armenology, where five specialists, mostly immigrants from Armenia, would work. This center has reportedly established ties with Erzerum University, which already has a center on what it describes as the “alleged Armenian Genocide.”

Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation against the Armenian Genocide recognition campaign is also evident among the Turkish and Azerbaijani expatriate communities in Europe and the United States. Indeed, some of the demonstrations mentioned above as the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora were organized in conjunction with local Turkish organizations. Within Turkey, among the Igdir, Kars, and Erzerum residents, who consider themselves victims of an Armenian-perpetrated genocide, and who filed a lawsuit against the novelist Orhan Pamuk in June 2006, were also ethnic Azerbaijanis; their ancestors had moved from territories now part of Armenia.

Azerbaijanis, like Turks, are very interested in having the Jews as allies in their struggle against the Armenian Genocide recognition campaign. Like Turks, Azerbaijanis do not question the Holocaust. However, they liken the Armenians to its perpetrators—the Nazis—and not its victims—the Jews—as is the case among Holocaust and genocide scholars. The Azerbaijanis argue that Jews should join their efforts to foil Armenian attempts at genocide recognition because there was also a genocide perpetrated by Armenians against Jews in Azerbaijan, at the time of the genocide against Azerbaijanis in the early 20th century. They repeatedly state that several thousand Jews died then because of Armenian cruelty. The support of Jewish residents of Ujun (Germany) to public events organized by the local Azerbaijanis was attributed to their being provided with documents that listed 87 Jews murdered by Armenians in Guba (Azerbaijan) in 1918.(7)

Yevda Abramov, currently the only Jewish member of the Azerbaijani parliament, is prominent in pushing for such joint Azerbaijani-Jewish efforts. He consistently seeks to show to his ethnic Azerbaijani compatriots that Israel and Jews worldwide share their viewpoint regarding the Armenian Genocide claims. In August 2007, he commented that “one or two Jews can recognize [the] Armenian genocide. That will be the result of Armenian lobby’s impact. However, that does not mean that Jews residing in the United States and the organizations functioning there also recognize the genocide.” He explained that because expenditures for election to the U.S. Congress are high, some Jewish candidates receive contributions from the Armenian lobby and, in return, have to meet the interests of this lobby. According to Abramov, “except [for the] Holocaust, Jews do not recognize any [other] event as genocide.”(8)

Azerbaijani arguments that Armenians perpetrated a genocide against Azerbaijanis and Jews in the early 20th century have received little attention outside Azerbaijani circles. However, when the issue was touched upon in a contribution to the Jerusalem Post by Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli adviser to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 4, 2007, his article was also quickly distributed by the Azeri Press Agency. Ben-David called on Israel and Jewish-Americans to be careful regarding Armenian claims against Turkey. He listed a number of instances when—he believed—Armenians had massacred hundreds of thousands of Turkish Muslims and thousands of Jews. “Recently, Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan requested assistance in building a monument to 3,000 Azeri Jews killed by Armenians in 1918 in a pogrom about which little is known,” he wrote.(9)

Even if the official Turkish and Azerbaijani positions are in total agreement regarding the denial of the Armenian Genocide, some tactical differences can be discerned when analyzing Azerbaijani news reports in recent years. For example, Azerbaijani calls to impose sanctions against states whose legislatures have recognized the Armenian Genocide have never gone beyond the rhetoric. In 2001, they were openly condemned by President Heydar Aliyev. On a few other occasions, suspicions, not to say fears, can also be noticed, when one of the two parties becomes anxious that the other partner may desert the common cause and appease the Armenian side at its own expense.

Most of these Azerbaijani efforts to correct what they perceive as purposefully distorted history are directed toward audiences in third countries, not in Armenia. For Armenians, on the other hand, the chief opponents in their quest for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide remain the Turkish state and those segments of Turkish society, evidently the majority, which have internalized the official viewpoint. For most Armenians, the support this standpoint is increasingly receiving from Azerbaijan is still at most a sideshow. They still seem unaware of the growing Azerbaijani engagement in this issue. The “war of words” between Armenian and Azerbaijani officials remain largely confined to mutual accusations of destroying historical monuments. On certain occasions, one side or the other dubs the mixture of acts of neglect and vandalism by the other as “Cultural Genocide,” while at the same time denying that their own side has any case to answer.

However, mutual accusations of the destruction of monuments are just the tip of the iceberg in a larger interpretation of demographic processes in Transcaucasia in the last 200 years as one, continual process of ethnic cleansing. Within this context, the term “genocide” is often used as shorthand to indicate slow, but continuing ethnic cleansing, punctuated with moments of heightened violence also serving the same purpose. Indeed, where the contemporary Azerbaijani attitude toward Armenia departs from Turkey’s is now the official standpoint in Baku that the Armenians have pursued a policy of genocide against the Azerbaijanis during the past two centuries.

While the Turkish state and dominant Turkish elites vehemently object to the use of the term “genocide” to describe the Armenian deportations of 1915, and while some Turkish historians, politicians, and a few municipal authorities have accused the Armenians themselves of having committed genocide against the Ottoman Muslims/Turks—in their replies to what they say are Armenian “allegations”—this line of accusation has never been officially adopted, to date at least, by the highest authorities. It has not become a part of state-sponsored lobbying in foreign countries.

However, Azerbaijani efforts have taken a different direction over the past few years. Azerbaijani officials—even those of the highest rank—now assert repeatedly that Armenians have committed “the real genocide,” resulting in the death or deportation of up to two million Azerbaijanis in the last 200 years. Armenians, they say, invaded Azerbaijan’s historical lands, ousted its population, created an Armenian state, and falsified history through the destruction or “Armenianization” of historical Azerbaijani monuments and changing geographical names. Azerbaijan has even made a few timid, and so far unsuccessful, attempts to have the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approve a document adopting this viewpoint. In March 2007, Iosif Shagal, the head of the Israel-Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary association, acknowledged that the Knesset had received documents about the genocide committed against Azerbaijanis.

In 1998, President Heydar Aliyev decreed March 31 as Genocide Day—an annual day of national mourning in Azerbaijan. It marks all episodes of genocide against Azerbaijanis by Armenians since the turn of the 20th century. Four specific timeframes were highlighted as periods of intense Armenian persecution and massacres. The first was 1905-07, when Azerbaijanis say that tens of thousands of civilians were killed in Yerevan, Vedibasar, Zangezur, and Karabagh, while hundreds of settlements were razed to the ground. Then, following the Communist Revolution in 1917, the Azerbaijani people reportedly faced a new series of calamities over a period of a year and a half. Tens of thousands were killed by Armenians—with communist support—in Baku beginning on March 31, 1918. (This is the symbolic date chosen to commemorate all acts of violence against the Azerbaijanis.) Azerbaijanis see a third major episode of this Armenian policy of genocide in what they describe as the mass deportation of thousands of Azerbaijanis from Soviet Armenia from 1948-53. Finally, the last intensive stage of Armenian persecution coincides with the most recent phase of the Karabagh conflict, which began in 1988.

Since 1998, a series of annual rituals has been developed in Azerbaijan to mark the Genocide Day, including a special address by the Azerbaijani president, the lowering of national flags all over the country, and a procession by officials, diplomats, and scores of ordinary citizens to Baku’s Alley of Martyrs. Ceremonies are also held in other parts of the country, along with classes dedicated to the Genocide Day in educational institutions and exhibitions. Memorials have already been erected in Guba, Nakhichevan, Shamakha, and Lankaran. Relevant events are also organized in Azerbaijani embassies abroad.

Outside the confines of Azerbaijani state structures, Sheikh ul-Islam Pashazada also appealed to the world in 2002 to recognize the events of March 31, 1918 as genocide. Azerbaijani scholars and politicians have propagated this new thesis during conferences in Turkey. On April 24, 2003, a group of writers and journalists set up an organization called “31 March” to compensate for what they thought were the feeble activities of the state structures and public organizations in this sphere. Action in this regard is also gradually spreading to the Azerbaijani diaspora and involving Turkish expatriates living in Europe.

Among all instances of mass murder specified in the Azerbaijani presidential decree on genocide, the massacre in the village of Khojaly in Mountainous Karabagh on Feb. 26, 1992 is given the most prominence. Its anniversary is now observed annually with rallies and speeches—in addition to the annual Genocide Day on March 31. In 1994, four years before the formal adoption of the Genocide Day, the Azerbaijani National Assembly had already recognized the events in Khojaly as genocide and requested parliaments throughout the world to recognize it as such. Similar requests have been repeated since, both by the country’s successive presidents and other public figures. The massacre/genocide of Khojaly also comes up regularly—and in its own right—in joint academic and educational activities by Turkish and Azerbaijani scholars.

These Azerbaijani arguments that they continue to be the target of a genocidal campaign by Armenians is going hand in hand these days with the historical thesis that Armenians are newcomers to the territories they are now living on, and that they have taken control of these territories through a premeditated campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The origins of this modern Azerbaijani interpretation of Armenian history go back at least to the territorial claims that the Azerbaijanis presented at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. It also manifested itself in part during the above-mentioned “paper wars” between Soviet Armenian and Azerbaijani historians from the mid-1960’s. Modern-day Azerbaijanis put the beginning of their woes with the Russian occupation of Transcaucasia in the early 19th century. They consider the districts of Yerevan, Zangezur, and the Lake Sevan basin as being, until then, historic regions of Azerbaijan; but the Russian conquerors deported their Azerbaijani population and settled in their stead Armenian migrants from the Ottoman Empire and Iran. Azerbaijanis also argue that Yerevan was an Azerbaijani city until it was granted to Armenia in 1918. The Bolsheviks are accused of having given additional territories to Armenia when the Soviet regime was installed. And, finally, it is pointed out that Armenians have conquered further territories during the recent war and that they still harbor irredentist designs toward Nakhichevan.

Within the context of this recent historical interpretation, it is becoming more frequent in Azerbaijan to describe the territories of present-day Armenia as Western Azerbaijan, and the ethnic Azerbaijanis, who lived in Armenia until 1988, as Western Azerbaijanis. There exists a non-governmental organization called the Western Azerbaijani Liberation Movement, established in 2005, which aims to protect the interests of the Western Azerbaijani emigrants, including their right to return to their original places of residence. Other related demands go further, from giving these Western Azerbaijanis—after their return—a status of an enclave within Armenia to the outright annexation of Yerevan, Zangezur, and other “Azeri territories” in today’s Armenia to Azerbaijan.

Most issues discussed in this article are of direct relevance to the future of Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Any Armenian-Turkish or Armenian-Azerbaijani efforts to overcome the existing, respective antagonisms should necessarily address these Azerbaijani (and similar Turkish and Armenian) convictions and attitudes. For, understanding them will in all likelihood open the way to a better grasp of the problematic situation in Eastern Asia Minor and Transcaucasia, and may lead to those involved in conflict resolution to delve deeper into issues of identity, fears, irredentist aspirations, and prejudices, which have become an accepted part of the respective public discourses in these countries and their respective educational systems.

To escape the existing pattern of mutual accusations, additional research appears to be necessary to write a historical narrative acceptable to specialists on both sides of the political divide, which is based not only on a comprehensive and scientific study of the available facts, but which also addresses the various social, political, and ideological concerns of all the protagonists involved. The Azerbaijani attitudes described here are comparable not only to positions taken in Turkey, but also to some of the prevalent attitudes among Armenians vis-à-vis their Turkish and Azerbaijani neighbors. Limitations of space forced us to avoid this dimension altogether within this particular article. However, comparative studies of the Armenian and Azerbaijani historical narratives may be useful in separating historical facts from ideological statements and may provide an intellectual climate whereby the future coexistence of these two nations as non-antagonistic neighbors can be contemplated and discussed.

This study also indicates that the increasingly politicized use of the term “genocide” among Armenians, Turks, and Azerbaijanis is leading (perhaps unconsciously) to the trivialization of this concept, whereby its relatively strict definition provided for in the 1948 United Nations Convention is being replaced by a looser meaning. The word “genocide” often becomes, in the context described in this article, a synonym for “ethnic cleansing” or even smaller-scale and ethnically motivated massacre or murder. The frequent use of the term “genocide” by Armenians to describe the pogrom in Sumgait (Azerbaijan) in February 1988 is also indicative of this trend. While it is beyond doubt that the murder of individuals, massacres, and acts of ethnic cleansing deserve punishment as criminal offences no less than a crime of genocide, maintaining a healthy respect towards the distinctions, which scholarship has devised over decades to define the various types of mass slaughter, appears to be necessary more than ever in order to have a more accurate understanding of the peculiarities of various episodes in history and similar occurrences in the world today.

Finally, the enthusiasm shown by Azerbaijan in denying the Armenian Genocide (when modern-day Armenians do not usually hold it responsible for committing the crime) brings to attention the fact that denial is not necessarily only “the last phase of genocide”; genocide can also be denied by groups other than the perpetrators and/or their biological or ideological heirs. Genocide can be denied by the new foes of the (old) victims, and again the Armenian case is not unique and can become the topic of yet another comparative study.

EndNotes
1) This article is an abridged version of the paper “My Genocide, Not Yours: The Introduction of the ‘Genocide’ Paradigm to the Armeno-Azerbaijani ‘War of Words,’” which the author presented at the Sixth Workshop on Armenian Turkish Scholarship in Geneva on March 1, 2008.

2) This theory has continued to flourish in Azerbaijan after the collapse of the Soviet system and now often covers all Christian monuments on the territory of the Republic of Armenia, as we shall see toward the end of this article.

3) Rafig, “A genuine genocide was committed in Khojaly: The Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Caucasus hails the present position of the US Congress,” Yeni Musavat, Baku, Oct. 23, 2000.

4) “Azeri analyst sees pro-Armenian US move as assault on Islam,” Day.az, Oct. 13, 2007.

5) E. Abdullayev, “Azeri: Meeting to Denounce Lies on Armenian Genocide to Be Held in New York April 22,” Trend, March 15, 2006.

6) “Los Angeles Times’ Armenian Journalist Leaves Newspaper for Biased Article about Alleged Armenian Genocide,” Azeri Press Agency, June 20, 2007.

7) J. Shakhverdiyev, “Germans of Jewish Descent Protest Faked Armenian Genocide,” Trend, April 24, 2006.

8) I. Alizadeh, “Jews Recognize no Event as Genocide except Holocaust,” Trend, Aug. 24, 2007. This statement by Abramov that Jews recognize only the Holocaust as a genocide contradicts his use of phrases like “the genocide of Azerbaijani Jews perpetrated by the Armenians” or his reference that the massacres at Khojaly in 1992 constituted genocide.

9) “Israeli Diplomat Lenny Ben-David: Armenians Massacred Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims and Thousands of Jews,” Azeri Press Agency, Sept. 6, 2007.

END OF Part I

April 26, 2008, ArmenianWeekly




Analysis: Armenian Opposition Issues New Ultimatum 16 May 2008
The standoff between the Armenian authorities and opposition that resulted from the flawed February 19 presidential ballot and the violent police crackdown 11 days later on opposition supporters who rejected
the official election returns looks set to continue.

Speaking on May 12 on Armenian Public Television, Levon Zurabian, who is an aide to former President and defeated presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian, said that unless the Armenian authorities revoke by June 20 the restrictions on public meetings and demonstrations enacted by parliament in March, the opposition Pan-National Movement that supports Ter-Petrossian will defy that ban and convene a meeting on Yerevan's Freedom Square. Former Justice Minister David Harutiunian, who now chairs the parliament commission on legal affairs, pledged on April 22 that the legislature will ease the restrictions by the end of May, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Freedom Square was the site of the mass protests that followed the announcement that according to official returns, the February 19 presidential ballot was won by then-Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian with almost 53 percent of the vote. Ter-Petrossian, who polled only 21.5 percent, claimed he had been denied an outright victory. The Freedom Square protests lasted until early on March 1, when they were broken up by police. A subsequent assault on opposition supporters later that day resulted in 10 deaths, including one police officer. Outgoing President Robert Kocharian declared a state of emergency that was lifted three weeks later, but the restrictions on public rallies enacted by the parliament on March 17 remain in force.

Ter-Petrossian's supporters initially sought to circumvent those restrictions by staging "protest walks," but police intervened. Then, on April 19, the Yerevan municipal authorities gave permission for a pro-Ter-Petrossian rally in Yerevan that was attended by several thousand people. But permission for a second such rally, to be held on May 5, was withheld.

On May 2, Ter-Petrossian convened a congress of his Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) in a government conference hall in Yerevan. In his 90-minute address to that gathering -- his first public address since March 1 -- Ter-Petrossian said, as he had done earlier, that while he does not consider Sarkisian the legitimately-elected president, he is ready to accept his invitation to dialogue provided that the authorities first comply with the demands contained in a resolution adopted on April 17 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

They include conducting an "independent, transparent and credible inquiry" into the March 1 violence; the release of persons detained in the wake of those clashes "on seemingly artificial and politically motivated charges;" and the immediate repeal of the legal amendments effectively banning opposition rallies. Ter-Petrossian's staff estimate the total number of those detained or arrested at over 100; according to the Prosecutor-General's Office, 59 people have been formally charged. Those still in detention include several of Ter-Petrossian's closest associates within the HHSh, among them former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian.

Ter-Petrossian further told the May 2 congress that he thinks the only way to defuse the persisting tensions is to hold preterm parliamentary and presidential elections; at the same time, he admitted that neither the Armenian leadership nor the international community is likely to welcome that proposal, Noyan Tapan reported. And he argued forcefully that the HHSh should be restructured and strengthened, given that "it is obvious that thanks to its broad public support, the...movement will play a permanent and decisive role in all future political processes in Armenia," RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Ter-Petrossian further proposed that the two dozen mostly small opposition parties and groups that backed his presidential bid should form an alliance, to be called the Armenian National Congress, that might eventually coalesce into a single political party. But at least one of his backers was cool to such a merger: People's Party of Armenia leader Stepan Demirchian, who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent President Kocharian in the February-March 2003 presidential ballot, told journalists on May 9 that while the consolidation of opposition forces is welcome, it is "too early" to talk about merging parties, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.

Meanwhile, the Armenian authorities have agreed to the PACE demand for an independent investigation into the March 1-2 violence, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on May 12, quoting Avet Adonts, a members of Armenia's PACE delegation. Adonts said the commission will be formed by the end of this month and include representatives of both parliamentary and extraparliamentary parties and "international forensic experts." And in a further small gesture of goodwill, two close Ter-Petrossian associates arrested in the wake of the March clashes, former deputy parliament speaker Karapet Rubinian and Union of Painters of Armenia member Tigran Baghdasarian, were released from detention on May 13, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.


Armenian Tourist Resort Or Armenian Settlement?, AZG
According to May 13 publication of "Milliet" newspaper, a tourist resort for Armenians is to be constructed near the coast of Lake Van. This initiative roused a wave of indignation in Turkey. Most fiercely the initiative was opposed by Orhan Ozkaya, former vice-director of Turkey’s Cadastre office.

On May 15 the official newspaper of the "Grey Wolves" organization, "Eni Cag", responded the wave of indignation. According to the newspaper, Ozkaya stated that the tourist resort, which is to be constructed near the "Armenian Church of Akhramar" (according to information provided by "Milliet" the resort is to be built on the shore of the lake), can hardly have any positive consequences for Turkey and it is aimed at converting the population into Christianity.

Ozkaya also expressed confidence that the Armenian tourist resort implies establishment of an Armenian community in the Van region. For that purpose the interconfessional dialogue is to be used. He also noted that the Turkish legislation allows the community foundations to buy unlimited areas of land, and this means that 10% of the area of Van district may soon belong to foreigners (i.e. Armenians).


Genocide Book Pulled From High School Reading List in Canada Unnati Gandhi May 16, 2008
A book about genocide has been pulled from the recommended reading list of a new Toronto public school course because of objections from the Turkish-Canadian community, the author says.

Barbara Coloroso's Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide was originally part of a resource list for the Grade 11 history course, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, set to launch across the Toronto District School Board this fall.

The book examines the Holocaust, which exterminated six million Jews in the Second World War; the Rwandan slaughter of nearly one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, and the massacres of more than a million Armenians in 1895, 1909 and 1915.

But a committee struck to review the course decided in late April to remove the book because "a concern was raised regarding [its] appropriateness. ... The Committee determined this was far from a scrupulous text and should not be on a History course although it might be included in a course on the social psychology of genocide because of her posited thesis that genocide is merely the extreme extension of bullying," according to board documents.

Director of education Gerry Connelly did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.

Ms. Coloroso, a best-selling author of parenting books, said she wasn't surprised her work was removed, given that "ever since the book came out, the Turks have mounted a worldwide campaign objecting to it, which is not surprising because of the denial of the genocide."

She said what upset her was not so much that her book had been pulled, but that it was replaced by works by Bernard Lewis and Guenter Lewy, whom she refers to as deniers of the Armenian genocide.

"I knew when I wrote Extraordinary Evil that I would anger some genocide deniers," she wrote to Ms. Connelly. "I am disappointed that a small group of people can bully an entire committee. ..."

The Council of Turkish Canadians is opposed to the course for classifying the Armenian killings as genocide and inciting anti-Turkish sentiment. It has gathered nearly 11,000 signatures on an online petition calling for changes to the course. Turkey has denied the killings were genocide, saying they were First World War casualties.

Kevser Taymaz, president of the council's board, said yesterday the book's removal was "one positive move" by the school board, but added the Armenian massacres should not even be considered as part of course that is entitled "Genocide."

"The course is one-sided. If they want to introduce the events of 1915, it should be giving the historical truth from both sides and let the students decide."

Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, said Armenian-Canadians feel the course as it stands is headed "in the right direction."

"But we have some concerns about ... the inclusion of Bernard Lewis and Guenter Lewy as reputable scholars. It will be unjust to the hundreds of scholars who have researched the Armenian genocide."


Turk Business Association Releases Armenian Bill Report
Turkey's top business association has released a report on an Armenian bill regarding the incidents of 1915, which was adopted last year by the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives but was turned down by the general assembly.

The report on , drawn up by researcher and specialist in law David Saltzman for the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), was presented on Thursday at a Washington conference on Turkish-U.S. relations.

In the report, TUSIAD declared its will to form a platform in which the incidents experienced by Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire during World War I can be discussed.

The report, "U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 106: Legal and Factual Deficiencies," said that there had never been a legal opinion that can justify the 1915 incidents as "genocide," and those who contend the allegations had never brought them before an international court.

"The global public opinion is focused on this one-sided view. And the rejection to acknowledge facts and the failure to consider the historical background of the incidents help this view attain a continuity," the report said.

Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. The Armenian diaspora has lately increased its organized activities throughout the world for the acknowledgment of their unfounded allegations in regard to the incidents of 1915 as "genocide" by national and local parliaments.

Turkey 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.

Turkey is of the view that parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate forums to debate and pass judgment on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation.

In 2005, Turkey officially proposed the establishment of a joint commission comprised of historians and other experts from both sides to study the events of 1915, utilizing not only Turkish and Armenian archives, but also those of relevant third-party countries and to share their findings with the public. Armenia has not responded positively to this initiative, as yet.


Tüsiad Criticizes ‘genocide' Resolution In Us Congress
A leading and influential Turkish business group has harshly criticized a resolution pending in the US Congress seeking official recognition of "a systematic genocide campaign" against Anatolian Armenians in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD) earlier this week released a report on the issue drawn up by researcher David Saltzman and titled "H. RES. 106: Legal and Factual Deficiencies." The report, analyzing the factual and legal deficiencies of US H. Res. 106, was shared with the public in Washington on the occasion of a seminar held on the 10th anniversary of TÜSIAD opening its office there.

The Armenian diaspora continues to deal with the disappointment over the fact that the resolution, which calls the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks genocide, has not yet been adopted by the US Congress even though it was passed by a US congressional committee in October 2007.

"We are not historians or jurists. We are simply concerned about seeking the truth on the Armenian issue. Equally we are interested in fighting a libel that has been accepted as historical truth by too many for far too long," TÜSIAD said in a written statement, while announcing the report's release.

"Most organizations of the Armenian diaspora, academics as well as some political operatives insist on calling the tragic events of that period 'genocide.' Their further insistence on engaging in a serious debate over the historical record only after admission by Turkey that genocide had been committed makes it impossible to have an open discussion," TÜSIAD also said.

Ankara to recall ambassador from Argentina after ‘genocide’ rulings
The Turkish capital plans to call its ambassador from Buenos Aires back home for "political consultations," in reaction to Buenos Aires' insistent indifference to Ankara's marked uneasiness over a cascade of laws, official decisions and statements in support of the Armenian "genocide."

"The bilateral relationship with Argentina is likely to encounter much activity soon," Turkish diplomatic sources told Today's Zaman on Friday, noting that Turkey's Ambassador to Argentina Hayri Hayret Yalav was expected to be recalled to Ankara for "political consultations in the near future" in order to review bilateral relations with this country.

Yalav, who was appointed to his current post with a government decree in December 2006, previously returned to Ankara in early 2007 after presenting his credentials to then-Argentinean President Néstor Kirchner -- again for "political consultations." Officials at the Argentinean Embassy in Ankara, approached by Today's Zaman on Friday, said that Argentinean Ambassador to Turkey Brugo Marco was currently in Buenos Aires. Counselor Luis Susmann did not want to make a statement on the issue in absence of the ambassador, officials also said.

Developments generating friction in bilateral relations between Argentina and Turkey actually date back to autumn 2006. In November of that year the lower house of Argentina's parliament adopted a resolution recognizing killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as "genocide." The resolution, which was adopted by an overwhelming majority in the assembly, declared April 24 an official "day of mutual tolerance and respect" among peoples around the world. Armenians mark April 24 as the beginning of a "systematic genocide campaign" against Ottoman Armenians.

In January 2007, in a move that brought applause from the Armenian diaspora, former President Kirchner approved the draft law proclaiming April 24 "the day of tolerance and respect."

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide claims and says Turks and Armenians were killed in internal strife when Armenians revolted against Ottoman rule in eastern Anatolia in hopes of carving out an independent state in collaboration with the invading Russian military.

In April of this year, Argentina's Senate approved a declaration with reference to the law, which entered into force in January 2007 following the president's approval. In the same month, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that State Minister Mehmet Aydin had cancelled a planned visit to Argentina in protest of the country's stance.

Turkish officials regard the fact that Argentina is home to the third-largest Armenian diaspora -- following the United States and France -- as a strong factor in the current political crisis on the bilateral political agenda, although this element has no relation to the substance of relations with the country.

Observers say the point to which bilateral relations between Argentina and Turkey have come is particularly sad at a time when Ankara has shown significant will to improve relations with the Latin America and Caribbean countries.

In line with its multidimensional foreign policy, Turkey pursued a more active policy towards these countries in the beginning of the 1990s. An "Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean" was put into effect as of 1998 and has been reviewed constantly since then. In 2006 Turkey took another significant step, declaring 2006 Year of Latin America and the Caribbean, giving a further boost to the action plan.

Yet the same observers say that under current circumstances the Turkish capital has been pushed into the point of taking certain measures to show clearly its displeasure at Argentina's attitude.
17 May 2008, Emine Kart Ankara


NATO Exercise Due In Armenia September 15 - October 21
15.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The first stage of Cooperative Longbow/Lancer 2008 NATO exercise within Partnership for Peace program will kick off in Armenia on September 15, the training programs coordinator told a news conference in Yerevan.

Belgian army lieutenant colonel Marc Devos said the command staff exercise will last 2 weeks, from September 15 to October 21. “The exercise will be conducted in the Military Institute after Vazgen Sargsyan. The first stage will bring together 84 servicemen from Armenia and 170 representatives of NATO member states. The second stage will include 320 Armenians and 748 NATO representatives, including 75 servicemen from NATO land forces in Heidelberg. The scenario of the exercise is as follows: an armed conflict breaks out in the Atlantic Ocean and NATO is asked to launch a peacekeeping operation. The exercise will be conducted under command of brigadier general Claudio Vencellotti and deputy chief of the RA armed forces general staff, major general Arshaluys Paytyan,” Devos said.

He also informed that 340 thousand euro was allocated for the first stage of the exercise. The second stage will cost 350 thousand euro. “The host country should ensure security of the exercise participants. If any country requests extra guard, the host country is obliged to provide it.


Thousands Of New Jersey High School Students Educated On The Armenian Genocide armradio.am 15.05.2008
In continuation with the New Jersey State mandate on genocide education, Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) Executive Director Karine Birazian presented a series of lectures to The Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey and Chatham High School in Chatham, New Jersey on the topic of genocide.

"It is always a true honor to be invited to speak at local high schools. The impact we can make by educating students on this important human rights issue is vital to the prevention of the crime genocide," commented Birazian.

In mid April, the Academy of Holy Angels invited Birazian to be part of their annual Awareness Day, where this year, the title of the one-day workshop for students was called "Think Globally, Act Locally." Students were able to select from a variety of workshops pertaining to global issues and problems our society faces and ways to take action. Birazian's topic entitled "Never Again?" touched upon genocides that have occurred throughout the 20th century and the ongoing genocide today in Darfur. Students also gained insight on how they can get involved and take action.

Jennifer Cucchisi, a social studies teacher at the school commented: "It is important that every generation learns about genocide in order to achieve the goal of "never again." Some students may not want to hear about it, they may turn their heads at the pictures, but the only way to stop genocides from happening is to make sure that everyone is educated on the horrors of them. The pictures and stories, however graphic they may be, are necessary and they help us to ensure that what happened during these senseless slaughters is never forgotten."

Birazian also spoke to the students at Chatham High School at their annual Holocaust Remembrance Program where she presented on the history of the Armenian Genocide and the current battle in Congress on trying to pass legislation recognizing this atrocity. Steve Maher, Social Studies Supervisor for the high school has worked to coordinate activities revolving around genocide awareness and remembrance. In the past, the school has studied the Killing Fields in Cambodia, as well as Darfur, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. "We seem to have our greatest success in touching the lives of students when we bring history closer to their experience, particularly with survivors of the European Holocaust," commented Maher.

Following the lecture, Birazian met with the activists from the Darfur student group and spoke about additional ways they can get active on this important issue.

During her lectures, Birazian touched upon a recent event that took place at the Springfield Library. Last month, Birazian, ANC of NJ members, community activists, along with Dr. Seymour Siegler, Ed.D, Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brookdale Community College, spoke before the Library Board regarding the decision by the Library to allow a special hosting of the film the "Armenian Revolt" followed by a question and answer session led by Dr. Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Lewy, who has written several articles questioning the history of the Armenian Genocide, was invited by the Society of Turkish- American Architects Engineers and Scientists (MIM).

Birazian and others expressed deep concern that showing the film and having an Armenian Genocide denialist come and speak at the library would be detrimental and constitute a form of "hate speech," pointing to the example that the library would never have allowed Holocaust deniers come to speak on Holocaust denial at the library. The members of the Library Board still agreed to host the event, and responded by indicating that if Holocaust deniers want to come to present at the library, they would be permitted because it is freedom of speech.

Birazian stressed to the students that "freedom of speech" can eventually turn into hate speech and denial of history when pushed to the limit, and as informed citizens, we must do all we can to make sure that genocide denial be confronted.


Turk Tourists, Who Visited Armenia, Return To Turkey Under Great Impression Noyan Tapan
May 13, 2008 ANKARA. The Turk tourists, who visited Armenia a few days ago, have returned to Turkey under a great impression.

As the Turkish sources report, 29 Turks and one German took part in the journey with famous Turk excursion guide Faruk Pekin at the head organized by the Fest Tourizm agency and they were all very pleased with the journey made to Armenia.

Murad Ismail, the representative of the Fest Travel agency, mentioned that it is the first time that such a tourist journey has been organized and stressed that the tourists were greatly impressed by the historical monuments of Armenia.

"We were very well welcomed. Everybody was very kind," he said.

And Faruk Pekin mentioned in his turn that the most negative thing during the journey was "the problem of lavatories" as those situated on roads between cities have turned into ruins.

The Turk tourists in Armenia visited the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, Matenadaran (Armenian repository of ancient manuscripts), the Blue mosque, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and other places.

The Turkish press writes that the group of the Turk tourists visits Armenia when efforts directed at the establishment of diplomatic relations are continuing between the parties.


Lake Van Dying
15.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Lake Van, the fifth largest lake in Europe, is dying. Unless urgent measures are taken, the lake will dry up within the next 10-15 years.

The Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association (TURMEPA) has included Lake Van in its project ‘Limitless Blue’ that has been carried out for two years to save coastlines.

As it works to protect a coastline of 8,333 kilometer from Hopa to Iskenderun, TURMEPA plans to save Lake Van as well. The association has organized an event to clean the shores of the lake.

Esref Cerrahoglu, TURMEPA executive board chairman, said, “According to reports of experts, pearl mullets will die out in 10-15 years. Lake Van will become a source of pollution and will not be suitable to swim in. Taking some urgent measures could save the lake, which is an example of very significant historic and ecological richness of the region. This is why we are also working for Lake Van as well as our coastlines.”

As part of a project titled “Limitless Blue,” for two years TURMEPA has been giving courses on the protection of the seas to primary school students living on the coastlines. There were 105,000 students from Van who participated in one of the courses last week, the Turkish Daily News reports.

Situated in historical Armenia, Lake Van is Europe’s fifth largest lake. The city of Van located on the eastern shore of Lake Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom in the 9th century BC. Its ancient inhabitants called themselves Nairi and the city was a major Armenian center.

Despite courageous resistance, the city’s Armenian population was devastated during World War I by Ottoman troops as a part of the Armenian Genocide.

Holy Cross church situated on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van was reconstructed not long ago and transformed into museum. There is no cross on the top but a Turkish flag and a portrait of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk are stuck at the entrance.


Primate Of Australia And New Zealand Interviewed By Abc Radio, Noyan Tapan
Sydney, May 13, Armenians Today. With the advent of commemorations last week in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, a radio interview was conducted with His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand by John Clearly on ABC Radio Local.

Whilst the interview was initiated to introduce the Archbishop and the Armenian Apostolic Church to the broader listening audience, it was timely scheduled to coincide with the commemorative week and bring about greater awareness of the Genocide and the issue of recognition. The interview also explored religious aspects of Armenian heritage as well as some cultural.


A Symposium on Tolerance
Professor Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar of Anatolia and the head of the Catholic apostolic board of Turkey said: “We have the privilege of living at the lands, where the Christianity was opened to the world.”

The opening speech of the symposium entitled “The Comparison between the Sects of the Christianity and the Traditions”, which was organized by Catholic apostleship that is situated in Hatay/ Iskenderun, was made by Professor Maddalena Santoro, the head of the Don Andrea Santoro Association.

Professor Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar of Anatolia and the head of the Catholic apostolic board of Turkey gave information on the formation of the Christianity in his speech. Indicating that they posses a privilege of living at the lands, where the Christianity was opened to the world, he noted the following:

“Our different praying traditions constitute a cultural mosaic, which will be a memory and prophecy for all of us. This is an invitation for a deep examination of the divergences, which have erupted during the history as a result of human fragility. The thinking, liturgy, tradition, differences of expression, which can be perceived better comparing to the other places, is not a cultural split, but a richness of diversity, which can be seen since the beginning of the Christianity.”

Seyitne Melki Ürek, the Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church in the Province of Ad?yaman, told about the history of the Syria during his speech.

Orhan Biçaklar, the priest of the Samsun province Agape Protestant Church, Antuan Auda, the apostolic of the Keldani Church, which is located at Syria/ Halab, Dirtad Uzunyan from the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Joseph Abi Aad, , the apostolic of the Maroni Church, which is located at Syria/ Damascus, priest Abdo Badwi from the Lebanon St. Espirit University and religion men attended at the symposium that was organized at the Conference hall of the Don Andrea Santoro Dialogue Center that is located at the Catholic Church of the Iskenderun Province. (*)

The eternal tolerance of the Turks, displays also itself today. During the history, when the Turks added the lands, in which non-Muslim tribes inhabit, to their country, they took the rights of the people of these regions under guarantee with law, in a sense, they suggested and legalized treating people from the other religions with tolerance and justice.

Therefore, it should be once again reminded to the Armenians, who aim at gaining the interest and support of the Christian world with the so-called claims, that a new era had started for them, which they had never experienced in their history with the foundation and the development of the Ottoman Empire, and particularly with the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, also every kind of religious, political, social, economical and cultural pressure was lifted over them, and an era for peace, security, prosperity had started for them.
Source: (*) Anadolu Agency-03.05.2008, 15.05.2008,
www.soykirimgercegi.com


ANCA Eastern Region Director Continues To "Educate, Motivate, And Activate" Thousands Of New Jersey High School Students Educated On The Armenian Genocide
NEW JERSEY- In continuation with the New Jersey State mandate on genocide education, Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) Executive Director Karine Birazian presented a series of lectures to The Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, New Jersey and Chatham High School in Chatham, New Jersey on the topic of genocide.

"It is always a true honor to be invited to speak at local high schools. The impact we can make by educating students on this important human rights issue is vital to the prevention of the crime genocide," commented Birazian.

In mid April, the Academy of Holy Angels invited Birazian to be part of their annual Awareness Day, where this year, the title of the one-day workshop for students was called "Think Globally, Act Locally." Students were able to select from a variety of workshops pertaining to global issues and problems our society faces and ways to take action. Birazian's topic entitled "Never Again?" touched upon genocides that have occurred throughout the 20th century and the ongoing genocide today in Darfur. Students also gained insight on how they can get involved and take action.

Jennifer Cucchisi, a social studies teacher at the school commented: "It is important that every generation learns about genocide in order to achieve the goal of "never again." Some students may not want to hear about it, they may turn their heads at the pictures, but the only way to stop genocides from happening is to make sure that everyone is educated on the horrors of them. The pictures and stories, however graphic they may be, are necessary and they help us to ensure that what happened during these senseless slaughters is never forgotten."

On May 7, 2008, Birazian also spoke to the students at Chatham High School at their annual Holocaust Remembrance Program where she presented on the history of the Armenian Genocide and the current battle in Congress on trying to pass legislation recognizing this atrocity. Steve Maher, Social Studies Supervisor for the high school has worked to coordinate activities revolving around genocide awareness and remembrance. In the past, the school has studied the Killing Fields in Cambodia, as well as Darfur, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia. "We seem to have our greatest success in touching the lives of students when we bring history closer to their experience, particularly with survivors of the European Holocaust," commented Maher. Following the lecture, Birazian met with the activists from the Darfur student group and spoke about additional ways they can get active on this important issue.

Birazian, who has been lecturing at high schools for close to a decade, first started lecturing on genocide at the age of 15 to her classmates at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, IL. Since then, Birazian has lectured to thousands, both students and teachers, on genocide and the importance of becoming active. Birazian has presented and exhibited at the Illinois and National Council for the Social Studies, as well as organized and hosted genocide education workshops for educators.

During her lectures, Birazian touched upon a recent event that took place at the Springfield Library. Last month, Birazian, ANC of NJ members, community activists, along with Dr. Seymour Siegler, Ed.D, Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Brookdale Community College, spoke before the Library Board regarding the decision by the Library to allow a special hosting of the film the "Armenian Revolt" followed by a question and answer session led by Dr. Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Lewy, who has written several articles questioning the history of the Armenian Genocide, was invited by the Society of Turkish-American Architects Engineers and Scientists (MIM).

Birazian and others expressed deep concern that showing the film and having an Armenian Genocide denialist come and speak at the library would be detrimental and constitute a form of "hate speech," pointing to the example that the library would never have allowed Holocaust deniers come to speak on Holocaust denial at the library. The members of the Library Board still agreed to host the event, and responded by indicating that if Holocaust deniers want to come to present at the library, they would be permitted because it is freedom of speech.

Birazian stressed to the students that "freedom of speech" can eventually turn into hate speech and denial of history when pushed to the limit, and as informed citizens, we must do all we can to make sure that genocide denial be confronted.


Rep. Costa Calls On New U.S. Ambassador Nominee To Answer Questions On Armenian Genocide
14 May 2008, Panarmenian
On May 8, 2008, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno), a long time friend and supporter of the Armenian American Community, sent a letter to Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, the new ambassadorial nominee of the United States to the Republic of Armenia, requesting her to answer questions regarding her views and opinions about the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

"It is important that the United States fill this empty diplomatic position in Yerevan, Armenia," said Costa. "But before she is confirmed by the United States Senate, it is critical for my constituents and me to know her thoughts on the first genocide of the 20th century: the Armenian Genocide," he added.

"In light of the events that took place with previous ambassadorial nominee Richard Hoagland, the Armenian American community welcomes Rep. Costa’s tough questions to Ambassador Yovanovitch on the subject of the Armenian Genocide," said Andrew Kzirian, ANC-WR Executive Director. "It is imperative that the next ambassador of the United States to Armenia accepts the importance of Genocide recognition," he added.

Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch currently serves as the United States Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic. On March 28, 2008, President George W. Bush announced plans to nominate Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia. Yovanovitch will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for confirmation hearings, followed by a confirmation vote by the panel and the Senate, before she is officially appointed.


Roman Pope Benedict Xvi Not Calling 1915 Events As Armenian "Genocide"
14 May 2008, Today Az
Head of the Roman Catholic Church Benedict XVI received Cathalicos of all Armenians Garegin II. Touching upon the events of 1915 in the Osman Empire, the pope did not call them "genocide". At the same time, Benedict XVI called this events the "martyrdom" of the Armenian people.

According to AFP, Garedin II speaking before the 20,000 audience, gathering in the square of St. Peter, in the last day of his visit to Vatican, called on the peoples of the world to condemn those, responsible for the "genocide" of the Armenian people.

In turn, Benedict XVI said: "The recent history of the Armenian apostle church is reflected in the contrast of persecution and martyrdom, darkness and hope, humiliation and spiritual resurrection. Restoration of freedom of church in Armenia became a source of great joy for all of us".


Five Years Of Cooperation With "Hypocrat" Panorama.am
14/05/2008 Today Harutyun Kushqyan, the minister of health received Gerald Oberndorfer the coordinator of the USA humanitarian aid. He told to the minister that sooner two containers will arrive in Armenia fill with medical aids. The containers should provide the inhabitants of Martuni and Artik hospitals with necessary medical issues, sayd the official web site of the ministry.

The coordinator was interested in possible cooperation with "Hyprocrat foundation" established in Alaverdi city. In this regard the minister has positively evaluated the cooperation and said that the contract will be prolonged for five years.


We Have Nothing To Discuss, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, May 14, 2008, Armenia
"Nothing has changed in the struggle they started from September. They don't have any intentions to review their position. They don't need any dialogue, because their pre-conditions are not realistic.

Even the Council of Europe clearly mentioned in the resolution that only those detainees that haven't committed crimes must be released. But they demand to release all the detainees. Their morality is definitely deteriorated, because it was Levon Ter-Petrosyan who left his supporters in the critical moment and now he wants to get absolution. In such circumstances we have nothing to discuss with Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Armenian Pan National Movement. What we really need is to have a dialogue with the people, and we have already started this process," Razmik Zohrabyan says.


Paul Murphy Used "Armenian Genocide" Expression, Panorama.am, 13/05/2008
The British Government has condemned desecrating Armenian khachkar commemorating Armenian Genocide in Cardiff. It took place on 27 January, in the day of Holocaust, reported New Generation cultural union.

Paul Murphy the state secretary of Wales said that "he condemns the desecrating of Armenian Genocide monument in Cardiff in 2008 January".

"I condemn the rude attempts to desecrate the monument. It comes to prove that we need to treat seriously racism; brutal and hateful attempts and we should join to stand them. I hope that when the guilty are revealed it would smoothen the pain," said the state secretary of Wales.


Illustrated Talk On Aghtamar And Medieval Armenian Kingship At Naasr
Dr. Lynn Jones of Florida State University will give an illustrated lecture entitled "Between Islam and Byzantium: Aghtamar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Kingship," on Thursday, May 22, at 8:00 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA. This lecture is the second talk given in memory of Arshag Merguerian (1926-2005), architect and an active member and friend of NAASR for nearly fifty years. The expenses for the lecture will be covered by funds contributed to NAASR in Merguerian's memory.

During the period of 884-1045 AD, Armenian rulers had loosened the ties that subjected them to the Arab caliphate, but by the end of this period the Byzantine empire had instead become dominant in the region. Dr. Lynn Jones will provide a thorough analysis of the development of the visual expression of medieval Armenian rulership during this era, based on her recently published book Between Islam and Byzantium: Aghtamar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Rulership. In this lecture, Jones will focus on the famed Church of the Holy Cross at Aghtamar.

Broad and Complex Interactions
Setting the art and architecture of the period more clearly in its original context, Jones reveals the messages works were intended to convey by those who created and viewed them. Her analysis provides a new perspective on the complex interactions between a broad range of nationalities, ethnicities, and religions, shedding fresh light on the nature of medieval identity and adding to a growing literature on the eastern neighbors of Byzantium.

Lynn Jones received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Illinois. In addition to Florida State she has taught at a number of other universities, including the University of Maryland, the University of Minnesota, Cornell, and Yale. In 2006-2007 she served as President of the Byzantine Scholars Association of North America. She has published on medieval Armenia, Byzantium, Georgia, and Islam. Between Islam and Byzantium: Aghtamar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Rulership is her first book.

Admission to the event is free (donations appreciated). The NAASR Center is located in Belmont opposite the First Armenian Church and next to the U.S. Post Office. Ample parking is available around the building and in adjacent areas. The lecture will begin promptly at 8:00 p.m.


Genocide Belief Seen As 'Insult' By Turkey, Jennifer Campbell, Citizen Special, http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen, May 14, 2008
The fact that the Canadian government has recognized Armenian claims of genocide by the Turks in 1915 still casts a shadow over relations between Canada and Turkey, the incoming ambassador says.

Rafet Akgünay noted in an interview yesterday that Canada is one of the only governments in the world to recognize Armenian claims and said his government finds it particularly strange coming from a country that is known internationally as a peace-loving and peace-making nation. (In 2004, Canada's Parliament reversed the country's previous policy when it voted for a private member's bill that recognized as genocide the killing of Armenians during the First World War.)

"It's taken as an insult in Turkey and it's an insult from a country which is known around the world as a country that loves peace and security and stability. This is just the other way around because you recognize something which is not established as fact.

"Writing history is not the task of parliamentarians or officials of government," he said.

Given that, Turkey has asked foreign governments to encourage both sides to study the archives and decide exactly what happened. Turkey has proposed a joint committee of historians from Turkey and Armenia, with the possibility of third-party historians joining in to come up with a decisive analysis of the history.

That said, Mr. Akgünay said the Armenian issue is not the only one on his agenda -- indeed, it's just one facet of the political side. He's also going to work toward air agreements where Turkish Airlines could fly into Canada. "One of the first things I did in Canada was to attend a meeting of the Turkey-Canada Business Council and all the business people asked me to try my best to start flights from Turkey. Turkish Airlines is ready but there are still agreements to be made in Canada."

He plans to develop the trade relationship. Two-way trade between Canada and Turkey now stands at $1.3 billion, which is "peanuts" for both countries.

By comparison, Turkey's two-way trade with Russia is $25 billion.

He will also work with Turkish-Canadians, who number about 50,000, many of whom contribute greatly to the economy, he said.


Argentina Losing Us Over ‘genocide' Row, Warns Ankara
The Turkish capital's patience seems to have been stretched to the limit by Buenos Aires' indifference to its strong uneasiness over a cascade of laws, official decisions and statements in support of claims of a systematic genocide campaign against Anatolian Armenians in the beginning of the last century.

"Endorsing laws, decisions and statements concerning the so-called Armenian genocide both at its federal and regional parliaments since the 1970s, Argentina hasn't given a thought at all to the reaction it created in Turkey," a senior Turkish diplomat told Today's Zaman on Tuesday.

"The relations between Argentina -- which hasn't avoided mounting the tension via adopting last year a law concerning April 24; this year's approval of the Senate of a declaration concerning this law and statements made by senior level bureaucrats -- and Turkey have come to the point of rupture," the same diplomat, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, also said, reflecting Ankara's anger over the issue.

In November 2006 the lower house of Argentina's parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide. The resolution, which was adopted by an overwhelmingly majority in the assembly, declared April 24 an official "day of mutual tolerance and respect" among peoples around the world. Armenians mark April 24 as the beginning of a systematic genocide campaign against Ottoman Armenians.

In January 2007, in a move that brought applause from the Armenian diaspora, Argentina President Néstor Kirchner approved the draft law proclaiming April 24 "the day of tolerance and respect."

Turkey categorically rejects the genocide claims and says Turks and Armenians were killed in internal strife when Armenians revolted against Ottoman rule in eastern Anatolia in hopes of carving out an independent state in collaboration with the invading Russian military.

In April this year, Argentina's Senate approved a declaration with reference to the law, which entered into force in January 2007 following the president's approval. In the same month, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had announced that State Minister Mehmet Aydin cancelled a planned visit to Argentina in protest of Argentina's stance.

Turkish officials exerted efforts for overcoming the languor in bilateral relations with Argentina that emerged following January 2007, the diplomat explained, adding, however, that these efforts went unanswered.

"The Argentinean government hasn't put distance between itself and this law and has even avoided making a statement that would emphasize the importance attached to good relations with our country," the diplomat said, portraying a move in April of this year as a sign clearly showing incomprehension of the Argentinean Senate concerning ongoing "tension and disappointment" in Turkey created by earlier developments in Argentina.

It will not be a surprise if the Foreign Ministry announces that it will call its ambassador in Buenos Aires for political consultations as it did in January of last year.

"Under these conditions, continuing relations between the two countries at the ambassadorial level is not compatible with political realities. The crisis between the two countries will deepen further as long as decisions and discourses belonging to Argentina -- based on Armenian lies distorting history and violating fundamental principles of international law -- continue," the Turkish diplomat said.

Argentinean ambassador summoned to Foreign Ministry

The Foreign Ministry recently summoned Argentinean Ambassador to Turkey Brugo Marco to its headquarters, where Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, undersecretary of the ministry, submitted to Marco a diplomatic note of protest expressing Turkey's uneasiness over the series of developments.

"The policy that has been assumed by Argentina concerning the so-called genocide is unacceptable. International relations are conducted state-to-state, thus governments are also responsible for problems created in bilateral relations by decisions made at parliaments, which are indispensable parts of states," Apakan told Marco while handing over the note.

The undersecretary of Argentina's Justice Ministry attended a demonstration in Buenos Aires last month to mark April 24. This attendance and a series of accusatory statements against Turkey are considered by Ankara "an attack to not only on Turkey's history, but also on the modern Turkish Republic."

"These facts also clearly showed us that anti-Turkey policy has gone beyond the borders of the parliament and has been embraced by the government as well. The hostile manner assumed insistently against our country is an open evidence of the presence of a political dispute between Argentina and Turkey -- whatever its reason or justification is," the same Turkish diplomat said.
15 May 2008, Thursday Emine Kart Ankara


Priority In Armenian Foreign Policy: The Us Or Iran? by Hatem Cabbarli*
Due to the irredentist policy it has maintained since independence, Armenia has had serious disagreements and problems with all its neighbors except Iran; these problems are for the most part still prevalent.

Armenia is currently unable to use the northern border for transportation because it invaded part of Azerbaijan, and unable to use the western border because it still insists upon refusing to recognize Turkey's territorial integrity, relying on the so-called Armenian genocide discourse. Even though it seeks to resolve the problem in relation to the northern border via transportation through Georgia, at this point it is still unable to use the route effectively because of current problems in the region. In this regard, its relations with Iran become very important. Even if Armenia's geopolitical weakness determines the relations between the parties, there are also important political factors at play. Iran has remained ignorant vis-à-vis Armenia's invasion of Azeri territories, despite the latter's predominantly Shiite population; it also extended support to Armenia in relation to the southern Azerbaijan question. In the event of an Azeri victory in this war, 30 million Azeri Turks in the region would have been eager to become independent or seek integration with northern Azerbaijan. Moreover, Iran has also sought to circumvent Turkey's influence in the region and undermine bilateral relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan by maintaining good relations with Armenia. The same goal was shared by Armenia in its policy vis-à-vis Turkey.

Rapprochement between Iran and Armenian has also been criticized by the US because of its escalating tensions with Iran. Actually, the US has never been so clear and determined in its opposition to the good relations between Armenia and Iran. Even though the US currently asks Turkey to limit its relations with Iran, its silence in response to rapprochement between Iran and Armenia should be noted. Is it because of the impact of lobbying activities by the Armenian diaspora in the US? If so, this means that US national interests are subject to the initiative of the Armenian lobbies -- which is irreconcilable with state dignity and seriousness. Is it possible to speak of Christian/American solidarity in favor of Armenia, which seeks to expand its territories in predominantly Muslim regions?

Even though Armenia has declared a strategic alliance with Russia, the amount of aid granted it by the US is far greater than the aid forwarded by Russia. Armenia receives the most American financial aid after Israel; the US still grants large amounts of aid to this country. In addition, the US views Nagorno-Karabakh as a separate unit; based on this decision, the American administration transmitted financial aid for the Karabakh Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh directly instead of the Azeri administration.

The US does not act based on ethical considerations when it requests permission to set up military bases in Azerbaijan, while it remains silent vis-à-vis the improving bilateral relations between Armenia and Iran. The US is not uneasy with the cooperation between Christian Armenia and Muslim/Shiite Iran, while it is disgruntled by attempts to maintain relations between Muslim countries, including Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. It goes even further, requesting to set up bases in Azerbaijan and relying on its military units stationed in Turkey in its operations against Iran.

The US has intensified its pressure on Azerbaijan to secure approval for a military base while it never considers making a similar request of Armenia, which receives large sums of financial aids from the American institutions every year and maintains good relations with Russia and Iran. Armenia sometimes returns American requests despite the large amount of financial aid. During the discussions as to whether it was possible to station NATO troops in Armenia when a crisis had erupted between the US and Iran in relation to the uranium enrichment, Armenian Defense Minister Serj Sarkisyan underlined such a possibility was out of question even in theoretical basis.

A new visa control procedure
Beginning Dec. 16, 2002, the US decided to apply the visa regime envisaged for the citizens of states supporting and sponsoring international terrorism to Armenian citizens as well. Armenia became the 21st state (and the first Christian state) subjected to this regime. The visa controls under this regime were made in relation to all Armenian citizens over age 16 that live in or will later arrive in the US. This decision, made after Sept. 11, has in general included Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Pakistan. During the discussions over the introduction of this regime and inclusion of Armenian citizens in its scope, David Shahnazaryan, who served as the Armenian intelligence chief in the administration of the first head of state, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, made a sensational statement wherein he noted that Afghan terrorists entered the US holding Armenian passports. Undoubtedly, this was the major reason for the US to include Armenian citizens in the visa regime.

According to new reports by Armenian news agency Panarmenian and others, the US administration lifted this tough via regime for Armenian citizens following pressure from the Armenian government and the Armenian diaspora effective, effective Dec. 18, 2002. The US administration ceasing to apply this visa regime vis-à-vis Armenian citizens only two days after its introduction reveals how important and influential the Armenian diaspora is.

Parallel to these developments, the US has never pressured Armenia, despite some Armenian corporations selling nuclear technology to Iran. In response to improvements in bilateral economic relations, Iran seeks to construct an oil refinery plant in Armenia. The US, which expressed its displeasure and uneasiness with a natural gas agreement between Iran and Turkey, has made no statement in relation this project, which will obviously make Iran very influential in the region.

Finally, the US noticed Armenia's true face. The US State Department expressed its concerns over the frequent official visits held between Armenia and Iran. Furthermore, the US described Armenia as a terrorism-sponsoring state, adding that the country had a corrupt banking system that contributed to money-laundering activities to finance terrorist acts. Following this statement, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisyan unexpectedly pledged to improve relations with Iran, further noting that the national security council secretary would hold official visits to Iran to meet with the Iranian president and other official figures. It is likely the US will not remain silent this time as well vis-à-vis this development, and act reasonably to pick its supporters and enemies. The US may at least suspend financial aid for Armenia and extend the aid to Nagorno-Karabakh through Azerbaijan. It may even consider repealing section 907 supplemental to the Bill on Supporting Independence, which prohibits financial aid to Azerbaijan.

The actions of the Armenian administration should demonstrate that the country's foreign policy priorities don't rely on the US, which supplies it with financial aid; its priorities instead include Russia, which has almost colonized this country, and Iran, which uses Armenia against Azerbaijan, instead of the US. The US should consider this Armenian stance in its relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey and consider also the strategic alliance between Russia and Armenia when devising a policy vis-à-vis this country. At the very least, it should base its policy vis-à-vis Turkey and Armenia on a more ethical ground.

* Hatem Cabbarli is the deputy director at the Azerbaijani National Assembly's Analytical Information Department.
15 May 2008,


Turkish Historians’ Statements On Armenian Genocide Can’t Be Treated Seriously
13.05.2008/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The statements by Turkish historians, specifically by the President of the Turkish Association of Historians, about “falsifications” of the fact of the Armenian Genocide can’t be treated seriously, an Armenian expert said.

“Their allegations are nothing but a regular propagandistic trick,” Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the RA Academy of Sciences, Prof. Ruben Safrastyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

“Academic circles do not question the fact of the Armenian Genocide. Leading historians throughout the globe are convinced of it. As to documents allegedly proving the opposite, the statements on their existence have nothing to do with the truth. To understand this, you can study German, British and U.S. archives. Actually, Yusuf Halacoglu has specialized in the Ottoman period and he could be useful for Turkey if he engaged in study of this period.

Earlier, 1news.az Azeri agency quoted Halacoglu as saying that “the Turkish Association of Historians possesses 100 archive pages proving that Armenians were not subjected to genocide during the WWI.”


TTK: We Have Documents Refuting Armenian Claims
Turkish Historical Society (TTK) President Yusuf Halaçoglu has claimed that his organization has 100,000 pages of archived documents that serve as proof refuting allegations that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the current state of affairs regarding Armenian genocide allegations held last weekend at Kastamonu University, Halaçoglu asserted that genocide allegations were completely false.

Arguing that recognizing the 1915 killing as “genocide” would be meaningless, Halaçoglu stated that a historical committee should be established to investigate the issue. He noted that the TTK has been collecting documents and information on the issue from several countries and that the society currently has about 100,000 pages that positively refute Armenian genocide claims. During the panel discussion, Kegam Karabetyan, a member of the Istanbul Bar Association, also gave a talk. “Like all of you, I, too, am a child of Turkey and a citizen of the Turkish Republic. While I have Armenian roots, I take pride in living in Turkey and being a child of Turkey. How happy is he who says I am a Turk, and how happy are those Armenians living in Turkey,” he said.
13 May 2008, Today’s Zaman Kastamonu


The Reign Of The Oligarchs In Armenia, Vardan Djaloyan May 12, 2008
The present is also a part of history, created as a result of past realities and decisions. In our case however, a mythological thought process dominates. As early as the beginning of the last century the poet Vahan Teryan characterized the Armenian printable version

As far as I understand it the ‘priestly’ way of thinking makes its case according to one simple logic - the state of affairs is conditioned by the moral factor and difficulties are God’s punishment for our sins; the sins of the Armenian National Movement during the term of Levon Ter-Petrosyan and those of the ‘Karabakh clan’ today. Perhaps the term ‘God’s punishment’ is most often only to be found within the circles of Tigran Karapetyan, the President of the People’s Party in Armenia, but it is clear that, given singular exceptions, this explanatory model fits for the majority of Armenia’s intellectuals and political actors.

In the 19th century Western Europe created the field of historical sciences in an attempt to avoid the theological model of ‘God’s punishment’, to confront God’s will with a social will. According to the historical explanation society creates itself, but in Armenia an historical secular mode of thought still doesn’t have deep roots in the social consciousness and mythology is the dominant mode of thought in Armenia. For example, the ‘cold and dark years’ are considered to be the work of ‘evil forces’, rather than a form of self-expression for a ‘cold and dark’ society. Fraud, cheating, usury and violence, in general, were considered to be just the first signs of the joyous capitalist future to come. The society was spontaneously giving rise to such social, economic and political institutions that proved to be the decisive factors conditioning today’s reality.

As an analytical example let’s take the ‘clan system’ in Armenia. Let’s note that clans arose as far back as the reign of Levon Ter-Petrosyan but they principally differ from the clans during the Kocharyan epoch.

While describing the 1990’s it is necessary to note the overall disintegration of the economy, particularly as a result of unsuccessful reforms. The first consequence deriving from that situation was that one’s personal survival became the primary issue. People started to form survival units, or clans, due to the weakness of social institutions. Such a unit could not only be economic clan but also the religious community, a large industrial plant, a creative union, a fraternal group for mutual help, etc. Conditionally, one can call all of them “taniks” (roof), a term that surfaced in the 1990’s. Particularly, in conditions of legal turmoil, the “tanik” was entrusted with protecting the clan from robbers, those involved in the rackets and those elements in the Ministry of Internal Affairs engaged in copycat activities. To be fair I must note that compared to the rest of the CIS, Armenia was one of the leaders when it came to battling street crime, the rackets and highway robbery and it was due to the efforts of Vano Siradeghyan, the former Minister of Internal Affairs now under investigation. It was only during the late 1990’s, for example, that they came to realize in Russia that one could wipe out the bandit gangs without the use of the judicial system, often with the assistance of other gangs. They came to the same realization in Georgia just a few years ago.

Many analysts of the post-Soviet system claim it is the corrupt systematic clannish pseudo-government that replaces the outlaw turmoil in the following phase; rackets are replaced with corruption.

In these conditions, lawfulness, the establishment of normal economic relations and the creation of an effective system of social security demands serious and long-term work, of course if nothing terrible happens. The ‘Armenian luck’ factor worked due to Nayri Hunanyan, the terrible happened, and for three years Armenian found itself in a deep political crisis.

Russia experienced such a political crisis from 1993-1996. In particular, before the presidential elections Boris Yeltsin signed the so-called ‘oligarch accord’ to prevent the Communist regime from returning to power. Let us point out that inside the regime they were discussing even worse possible outcomes than what actually happened. For example, Boris Berezovsky proposed to pull out of the elections and reached an agreement with the Communists to invite them into the government. This ‘ruling clique conspiracy’ scenario of Berezovsky occurred in Armenia this year. With that agreement the elections and the idea of political competition become meaningless. With the help of the oligarchs Yeltsin faked the elections and for their ‘services rendered’ he basically handed the country over to them. In both cases the road to the new system was paved with a bloody settling of the scores regarding the Parliament. Afterwards, in both countries the Parliament ceased to play an effective political role.

In Armenia the oligarchs’ accord was reached in 2001-2002 and at its core were the business friends (Karabakh clan) of Robert Kocharyan; but they weren’t the only ones. The essence of that accord was superbly expressed by Yeltsin when he stated, “grab as much power as you can”. One of them seized effective control of the Syunik Marz, another grabbed the sugar business, etc. In our country the Yeltsin scenario was repeated thanks to Robert Kocharyan, the nation was handed over to a few semi-criminal oligarchs.

The essential attribute of the ‘oligarch accord’ is that rather than initially solving the issue of power and the law, it manifests itself as an agreement to disarm - everyone goes about their business and the others don’t interfere, or simply put, they don’t kill each other off. Robert Kocharyan counteracted the survival clan with an economic/political one.

By the mid 1990’s the issue of disarming the people was already an issue, which was slowly being solved, but Kocharyan inserted a sudden change into it. From the point of view of the ruling clique the people owned more arms than was necessary and this presented a threat. The Americans have a saying that, “God created men equally while the Colt mad them equal”. The disarmament was a preparatory stage for the future creation of an unjust and unequal society. Economic redistribution was preceded by arms redistribution; arms passed to their private security personnel. The murder of Poghos Poghosyan by Kocharyan’s bodyguard at the Aragast Cafe was a dramatic and symbolic event in that redistribution which showed that they were the real law. Suffice it to say that the principles of that ‘stable system’ were borrowed from the settling of scores system used by criminal gangs.

The noted Russian economist Alexander Auzan writes that it is difficult for oligarchs not to shoot one another. It was Ivan Kiveliti, who by the way, was murdered by one of his partners, that told me this. It’s difficult because they’re all out for revenge. The situation gets more entangled if we take into account the fact that heroes of Soviet Armenian culture like Viktor Hambartsumyan and Paruyr Sevak were replaced with ‘heroes of cash’, the oligarchs that go by nicknames. The ‘oligarch accord’ transformed the individual oligarch into a player on the national level, whatever his social reputation, or more correctly, in spite of it.

The oligarch under the pseudo-government of Kocharyan was turned into the final decision-maker on the social level. The oligarch’s personal security detachment is a more expensive proposition than even the costs associated with national security for the simple reason that the ‘budget’ of the oligarch, that’s to say the amount of taxes collected, is larger than the state budget. This is the measuring stick that differentiates the pseudo-government from a normal one. In the end, what resulted from this process was that the police lost its social role, turning into the overall security force for the clans and borrowing their main qualities, impudence, brutality and a hostile attitude toward the people.

The 2001 ‘oligarch accord’ permitted the oligarchs to plunder the industrial assets, gold mines and large plants in the construction and food sectors, etc. While what was mostly being privatized in the 1990’s were non-operating plants, in essence real estate, the picture changed after 2000 with large, profitable and working plants being taken over.

These firms were purchased at nominal prices, at about 10% or lower of book value. This fact allowed the oligarchs to multiply their resources by ten and even one hundred-fold in the course of a few years. As a result they, the oligarchs, were transformed from mid-level commerce capitalists into industrial super-capitalists. In essence, the regime granted that fortune to the oligarchs in return for political support. It was an important lesson for them; there is victory if you support political banditry. It was also a defeat for capital since a victory signifies the establishment of stable rules and regulations on the playing field, which isn’t the case in Armenia. This also means that the profits derived from redistribution in Armenia are still more important than industrial efforts and if a large portion of social wealth is derived from money transfers and assistance, then the essential problem is to appropriate those transfers and assistance. Due to the oligarch-clan system in Armenia it’s much easier to appropriate the near serf-wages of average Armenians working in Russia and elsewhere than to construct and create actual industrial concerns. The process of redistribution, where one sector of the economy is taken out of the hands of one and given to another, a parasitical practice that dominates in Armenian society and the economy, simply means that there are yet no rules governing the economy, no real market relations. The segment with the most to gain in the situation is the “nomenmklatura” (nomenclature), top ranking officials from ministers on down to Regional Governors, Deputy intellectuals to showbiz stars, who survive on wealth seizure.

Sadly, to transform Armenia still means to revolutionize, to change the rules of the game, to assert that when it comes to attitudes regarding private property theft is not the equivalent of the work ethic.

The ruling elite in Armenia, driven by the survival instinct, is attempting to find compromise solutions, to postpone its ultimate demise. This is not mere moralizing rhetoric. Out of a few hundred thousand voters Artashes Geghamyan today enjoys the support of a few thousand supporters and the same will happen tomorrow for Artur Baghdasaryan. The ruling elite has lost all confidence of the people in a dramatic fashion and so it’s productive for the regime to go the route of compromise.

The West advises not to believe in the compromises of the ruling elite, but rather to enter into discussion with the opposition. It’s a piece of wisdom learned from their bloody history. The other alternative is to continue with the tyranny and spill blood again until the awakening of a mass social consciousness that will serve as a vanguard and bring forth a new mass-based ruling elite.
www.hetq.am


Armenia: Blogging Comes of Age, May 11th, 2008 by Onnik Krikorian
Arguably the most active country in the South Caucasus when it comes to blogging, the content and relevance of blogs on Armenia was at first nothing really worth writing home about. Most posts by foreigners living in the capital almost entirely focused on how good their lives were while others were simply copy and paste exercises reproducing articles without comment. Perhaps the only time when bloggers started to write original posts was whenever the Armenian Genocide came into the focus of the international media.

Even so, the situation slowly started to change in the run-up to last year’s parliamentary election as the political climate intensified in preparation for the inevitable transfer of power which occurred during this year’s presidential election. Under the constitution, the president is prohibited from holding office for two consecutive terms and as the then incumbent head of state was coming to the end of his second, Armenia would elect a new leader.

Of course, this being the former Soviet Union where vote-rigging and vote-buying are as much part of the election process as physically casting a vote, it was make or break time for the extra-parliamentary radical opposition in the country. And with the broadcast media controlled by the government, it was only natural that the Internet would be seen as a natural medium to disseminate alternative information.

Nevertheless, with a few exceptions, most blogs still consisted of regurgitated articles from Armenia’s low circulation, highly polarized, and largely discredited print media. There was little unique material, but there was at least the start of some discussion.

[…] Armenian blogs are extremely politicized these days. However, that politicization is not an artificial phenomenon, but a reflection of our daily reality “offline.” Indeed, it has almost become a pattern for blogs to actively respond to significant political events, which are also headline news in the traditional local media, such as the recent presidential election in neighboring Georgia, the publication of Levon Ter-Petrossian’s electoral platform, and the following press conference.

The campaign team and supporters of the first and former president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, were quick to harness the power of the Internet — especially blogs — as the government-controlled media either ignored their candidate or engaged in black propaganda. Naturally, pro-government bloggers responded, and supporters of both Ter-Petrossian and then prime minister, Serge Sargsyan, soon opened up new blogs on free weblog hosting services, but particularly on LiveJournal.

Writing for Global Voices Online, Artur Papyan described the situation perfectly.

For the past few weeks, a number of anonymous blogs have been launched which are directed towards throwing mud at various presidential candidates. Bloggers that had traditionally taken a more moderate approach, also became “infected” with unrestrained politics. As a result, those taking their first steps in the Armenian blogosphere felt as if they had instead materialized in a psychiatric hospital.

Indeed, much of what was being posted soon became either skillfully crafted propaganda or little more than mutually hostile attacks by both sides on anyone that dared to disagree with them. Local blogger and political analyst Samvel Martirosyan noted the phenomenon on E-Channel.

A number of other similar “military” blogs could be mentioned. They have several common features. These blogs have been launched in the course of the past month. Their contents have unequivocally negative character: here you will not find any positive information in favor of any candidate. Sometimes the authors write about other issues as well, so that the purposes of the blogs do not become very obvious. However, those postings are brief, have no purposes, mainly referring to other bloggers’ postings.

Basically, political blogging intensified. Some lone voices such as Christina at Mi Or [AM] lamented the situation which was reflected in nearly every sphere of life in the country. However, online voices such as hers were in the minority.

I don’t know, really don’t know… hatred and evil are clashing like waves in this little piece of land, and their rage is acquiring the force of a tempest. Hatred closes you eyes, puts your target in front of you and all your creative talents are wasted on efforts to destroy it. Spare those efforts…

In a sense, the local blogosphere precisely mirrored the actual election campaign itself as well as an increasingly polarized media which, rather than remain objective, soon became extensions of the campaign teams of both Ter-Petrossian and Sargsyan. But, following the latter’s predictable election as president, all of that was about to change despite the Council of Europe declaring the vote as “largely in line with international standards.”

YouTube became full of videos depicting electoral irregularities and illegalities such as ballot box stuffing and actual violence in polling stations. Bloggers either embedded them in their entries or posted their own photographs from the daily opposition rallies which soon defined the immediate aftermath of Sargsyan’s controversial and disputed election. The Armenian Blogosphere had never seen so much activity.

The moment when blogging really came of age, however, was on 2 March 2008 – less than two weeks after the election and a day after the dispersal of an opposition camp set up in a central Yerevan Square led to clashes between radical opposition supporters and the authorities which left at least ten people dead and hundreds injured. A 20-day state of emergency had been declared in the capital and all media outlets were restricted to only reporting news based on official government information.

Only blogs remained to disseminate uncensored news, and while some news sites and YouTube were blocked, no action was taken against bloggers.

Hetq Online, a pro-opposition online weekly, was one of those affected by the state of emergency restrictions and last week published an article recognizing the importance of blogs during this period. Although one media lawyer had determined that blogs could be legally interpreted as media outlets, neither pro-opposition nor pro-government bloggers adhered to the new government emergency regulations.

As there was no unofficial information coming out of Armenia, bloggers both at home and abroad moved in to fill the gap.

[…] The blogosphere, which already had heated up before this, continued the political debate with even more energy. […]

Tigran Kocharyan (aka Pigh) states that, “What resulted was that my ideas, let’s say, essentially dovetailed with those of the regime. I came out and declared that I wouldn’t abide with the restrictions and I continued to publish the blog, like before.”

The opposition was just as active. For example “bekaisa” not only circulated the announcements from Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s headquarters or interviews given by Ter-Petrosyan and his supporters, but also followed what the foreign press had to say about all of this, publishing and often translating these articles as well.

And even if YouTube had been blocked in Armenia, ways to circumvent the restriction such as using anonymous proxy servers became the norm for those fortunate enough to have access to fast Internet connections. A1 Plus, a pro-opposition TV station deprived of its broadcasting frequency in April 2002 used the online video sharing service to disseminate clips while Ter-Petrossian activists continued to produce and upload materials in his support.

The A1 Plus channel soon became one of the most popular on YouTube.

Writing again for E-Channel, Samuel Martirosyan recognized how adept the opposition were at utilizing the Internet to get their message across. In part, forgetting the media vacuum that also exists in Armenia, this was because many of their most active supporters were young, progressive, educated and with experience of living abroad or working for international organizations. Even so, with Internet penetration in Armenia around 6 percent, the reach of such new mediums for political communication was limited.

[…] net videos are being actively used. Particularly, Levon Ter-Petrossian’s team has given up television airtime, posting video materials in the web site of the candidate, as well as in YouTube.

[…]

Apparently, such virtual means do not yet greatly affect the election results in Armenia. However, in spite of the fact that Internet users do not form a big percentage in Armenia, they are one of the most active groups of voters. This circumstance can have an incomparably bigger influence than it seems at a first glance.

Regardless, on the government side, rumors had long been circulated by opposition supporters that the National Security Service (NSS), the successor to the notorious Soviet-era KGB, were even employing people to blog in order to offset what was undoubtedly “control” of the Internet by the radical opposition. Some even wondered if pro-government bloggers were real people.

[…] When recently Observer posted the list of ten propaganda blogs, there was a big fuss about it. Several bloggers that were particularly being accused tried to prove they were real people, and not disguised employees of NSS. Bloggers even purposefully met with Countrev in order to make sure he existed.

However, the fact remains a fact: for the last month, numerous blogs have opened, the main function of them being apparent campaigning. Sure, the motives are not clear since we don’t know who has been backing them up. […]

One ethnic Armenian political analyst based in the United States recognized the importance of blogs although also identified one of their main shortcomings. “With a media blackout in place [..t]he only source of independent (although biased) news remains the various blogs maintained by individuals in Armenia and a handful of international news agencies that have limited access to properly assess the situation in the country,” wrote Asbed Kotchikian for ISN Security Watch.

Not only had blogging and online file sharing sites come of age in Armenia, but they had also become the new Samizdat.

Samizdat (Russian: ????????) was the clandestine copying and distribution of government-suppressed literature or other media in Soviet-bloc countries. […]

This grassroots practice to evade officially imposed censorship was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.

Vladimir Bukovsky defined it as follows: “I myself create it, edit it, censor it, publish it, distribute it, and [may] get imprisoned for it.”

Writing on Profy, a non-Armenian blogger also noted their significance from afar.

The Armenian government has apparently underestimated the power of bloggers, however. Armenian bloggers, both inside and outside the Armenian borders, have continued to post and discuss the news, linking those who have been cut off from any non-government news source to alternate sources of information. Both hosted and independent blogs are still able to post articles, and as of yet, no hosted blog services have been blocked.

While many of us take the ability to blog for granted, for many it has become the only way to get more than one version of important news events. Citizen journalism may be a luxury here in the U.S., but for many parts of the world, it’s a necessity.

Interestingly, restrictions did materialize on those blogs written by Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) in Armenia. Kyle’s Journey in Armenia, for example, wrote about how travel by PCVs in the country away from their sites, and especially to the capital, Yerevan, had been prohibited. The Peace Corps reportedly demanded he remove the post although he instead locked it away under password protection instead.

With the country essentially on lock-down, Peace Corps has put us on high alert and is requiring us to stay at our sites until further notice. Outside of Yerevan (and Noyemberyan is no exception), things are functioning as normal, and we have not had any problems with civil unrest here or in our region at all. Schools and businesses are open, and we are going forward with life, albeit with a black cloud looming over the country. […]

[…] We will see in the next couple weeks, but until then life will remain tense and uncomfortable. It can only get a lot better, or a lot worse, from here. Hopefully this State of Emergency will do the former and at least keep people off the streets. It has, of course, disrupted some things in my life (for instance, my friend was supposed to come teach a class here this week, and my skiing trip was canceled) but I am safe and not worried about the situation getting worse here in Noyemberyan.

Concerns from international organizations and diplomatic missions were probably justified. Tensions between the two main rival camps became even more heated. Both continually accused the other of “treason” while more neutral, objective or just plain indifferent bloggers were subject to intimidation and harassment, especially from radical opposition supporters. Although some of us had already been accused of being NSS agents, there were also threats of physical violence or later retribution from both sides.

As a result, some blogs, and most notably the pro-opposition Unzipped as well as my own The Caucasus Knot started to moderate comments. Some media sites such as Armenia Now and Hetq Online had set up their own blogs or introduced commenting on otherwise official communiqués in order to circumvent the state of emergency restrictions, but caution with allowing such vitriolic and antagonistic comments became an issue there as well.

Even after the state of emergency ended, the situation remained tense, with Hetq Online having to close off its comments section until it was brought back by popular demand. During the period of emergency rule itself, A1 Plus blogger Shushan Harutyunyan says she spent “several hours” each day reading the comments and “editing out the profanity.”

But for all the problems associated with blogging in Armenia during the political upheavals associated with elections in the South Caucasus, certain precedents were set. Not only were blogs the only source of information unrestricted or censored by the government inside the country for nearly three weeks, but the president-elect was even forced to go online to solicit questions from concerned citizens and members of the large and influential Diaspora.

True, it wasn’t really a blog and more just a temporary web site hosted on a blogging platform, but the intent to counter the propaganda victory the opposition had already scored was genuine. Ironically, the move secured the continuation of blogs as Samuel Martirosian explains.

In this state of emergency, various network groups took up the role of the media. Information was being disseminated through E-mail and there has been so much of it that it was already being turned into spam.

Public networks were also being used – for example, Facebook where there were about 150 members from Armenia only in the group Open Information in the Days of Information Blockade.

Bloggers were extremely influential at that period – their activeness had increased for a few times. It was the bloggers that started presenting the events of March 1 online, turning into the only information source at that moment. LiveJournal bloggers were the most active ones. Moreover, a real informational war started here between the two camps. The quantity of blog visitors drastically increased. Apart from that, dozens of new blogs were opened only for these three weeks.
[…]
That is why, there was a danger that NSS would take up measures to block Livejournal and other blogs. Serzh Sargsyan personally saved the situation by deciding to open his blog in Livejournal and to answer to questions, distracting the attention of security officers. […]

Now that post-election tensions have eased with the presidential election more distant in the minds of most Armenians, that situation is reflected online too. The rhetoric of hate and division has started to slowly subside, giving way to more reasoned and restrained discussion and debate, while the quality of Armenian blogs has noticeably improved. Regardless of the political rights and wrongs of the opposition or the government, supporters of the former at home and abroad continue to prove themselves as the most active and committed.

One blogger from Armenia now living and working in the United Kingdom had already set a precedent for blogs covering issues that were not reported elsewhere with his Unzipped: Gay Armenia site. The blogger applied the same level of professionalism, albeit in support of the former president, on his other blog, Unzipped. And even if most blogs reverted back to cross-posting materials available elsewhere, the Armenaker Kamilion set another precedent by painstakingly translating and posting English versions of key opposition texts.

Certainly, even if the readership of Armenian blogs still remains quite low with readership of most only tripling during the state of emergency period, their importance to the political process is now unprecedented and will definitely not be underestimated in the future. Hetq Online provides the best example of this and coincidently also gives this post the perfect quote to end on.

A few days ago I went to the trial of someone arrested on March 1st. There were many people in the hallway waiting for the start of the court session. A man of about fifty sitting next to me asked what news outlet was I covering the story for. I told him it was for the Internet, thinking to myself that it wasn’t likely that he’d be interested or that he’d remember the address of the website.

-Is it in one of the blogs? - He asked, which greatly startled me.

-No, not in the blogs. But do you read the blogs? - I asked.

-Sure I do. You can’t really believe what the papers write, can you now?

It will be interesting to see whether the precedent set in Armenia is followed during parliamentary and presidential elections still to be held this year in Georgia and Azerbaijan.
by Onnik Krikorian

11 Responses
[…] of next month’s Global Voices Online Summit in Budapest, Hungary, I’ve just compiled a backgrounder on the role blogs played during the recent presidential election and especially in its immediate […]
May 11th, 2008

[…] of next month’s Global Voices Online Summit in Budapest, Hungary, I’ve just compiled a backgrounder on the role blogs played during the recent presidential election and especially in its immediate […]
May 11th, 2008
Ani:3
Onnik, very good and informative wrap-up of the recent past–let’s hope that blogging continues and matures in Armenia and the Diaspora and that Internet access improves and increases.

I do think the part about Serzh Sargsyan’s blog needs an emendation, though, since in the Hetq article you cited–”This blog was created and managed by Ruben Muradyan (aka blogger “Uzogh”)” –as well as my recent discussions with Uzogh on the Armenian Observer site (”Divided Blogosphere” entry) it has become clear that the blog was in fact ghost-written and who actually answered the questions that were actually answered is open to speculation.
May 11th, 2008 at Onnik Krikorian:4
Ani, do we know that it was ghost-written or is this just speculation? Certainly, the answers to those questions asked on the TV show were from Sargsyan.

Anyway, otherwise as I say in the post, I don’t really consider it to be a “blog.” Instead, it was just hosted on a blogging platform and the text entered by others.

“Created and managed” doesn’t mean “written” to me, although because the site was used only to collect questions for a television interview, I can’t consider it Sargsyan’s personal blog or any blog at all.

It will also likely not be continued. Anyway, talking of blogs and political figures, it would have been interesting for Ter-Petrossian to blog from under effective house-arrest.

Of course, with the precedent set in other developed countries, it would have been encouraging to see some candidates for parliament and the presidency blog from time to time and answer comments.

Next elections, perhaps.May 11th, 2008 Ani:5

Onnik, even if Sargsyan gave ideas and direction to someone else as to what to say but didn’t write it himself, it was ghostwritten. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_writing
The image of Sargsyan hunched over his computer, typing away, was a strange one but was the image conveyed–I guess semantic analysis comparing his oral vs. written answers could clear it up.

Ter-Petrossian missed a great opportunity to blog (perhaps they cut his Internet connection??), although he did write his own Washington Post article, whereas Sargsyan/Baghdasarian clearly had someone write theirs for them–you agree on that, don’t you?
May 11th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian:6

Ani, I live in the hope that at least Sargsyan’s answers were from him even if he didn’t type them in himself. Maybe that’s naive, but regardless, I think the whole endeavor was incorrectly portrayed as his blog when it clearly wasn’t one.

And yes, I don’t doubt that Ter-Petrossian wrote his own Washington Post article as he did everything else. I don’t know about the Sargsyan/Baghdasarian follow-up. Certainly, I would hope they penned it jointly, but if they didn’t…

Well, anyway. Slightly going off the point of the post, but I agree that Sargsyan’s “blog” wasn’t really one. Nice idea, but the implementation was not one that people were immediately expecting.

I really hope that some progressive-minded politicians in Armenia think about blogging and being “in touch” with their potential electorate. Until then, hats off to Ter-Petrossian’s supporters and campaign team for really utilizing the possibilities offered by the Internet and blogs in particular.

They set a precedent and one that I hope will continue. It is now for other political forces to show themselves to have entered the 21st Century by following suit. No sign of that so far, however, although I think some of Heritage’s people should consider it.

Interestingly, Raffi Hovannisian’s son Garin is an active blogger so with people like him and Zara Postanjian around, it would add a new welcome dimension to things. Some NGOs should also consider it, not just to get their message across, but also to set a precedent for transparency in how projects are implemented in the CIS.
May 11th, 2008 Zaven:7

I doubt Levon would be blogging. Runs counter to his style. Aloof, couldn’t-be-bothered, without much regard for PR (just recall his presidency).

Then again, tactics changed during the 10 day Opera circus, though he has for sure cut a deal to save himself (again).
May 12th, 2008 8

[…] Media in Armenia and Onnik Krikorian has written an in depth analysis of this phenomenon at Global Voices. Explore posts in the same categories: […]
May 12th, 2008 :9

[…] my recent post for Global Voices Online on Armenian blogs in the period immediately before, during and after the 19 February presidential […]
May 12th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian:10

In the post above I mention how the comments section of various blogs and news outlets became saturated with hostile remarks from both sides to the extent that one online publication closed it’s section down before eventually opening it up again later.

Interestingly, it would appear that some of those from the pro-government side were coordinated by a nationalist forum. Given the personal nature of some attacks from the other side, it is possible that something similar might have been staged as well.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that this was the case so far. From the other side, however, it was definitely coordinated.

There is an organized effort today to undermine and isolate the Armenian Republic upon the international stage. This concerted anti-Armenian effort is being run by Washington DC and the tools they are using are entities such as Armenianow, Radio Liberty, A1 Plus, Hetq, various blogs and individuals involved within the Armenian Assembly. These organizations and websites have become magnets for delusional asswipes amongst our people as of late. Off-set their effort, post remarks/comments in support of the ruling administration in Yerevan. However, be aware that anti-Levon comments are being periodically deleted by site administrators in order to artificially create an impression that a majority of the Armenian “public” is against the Armenian authorities. Therefore, be ready to repost your comments when required. We need to get involved, we need to contact our embassies, we need to contact Armenia’s presidential office and various national organizations and express our opposition to what is going on.
www.globalvoicesonline.org


Traveling Across The Peace Bridges Over Closed Borders May 12, 2008
A travel agency recently organized the first-ever cultural tour to Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic relations. “The hospitality was great,” one participant said. “During our last dinner, Armenians sitting next to us in the restaurant joined us to dance.” The urbane group, however, could not avoid their hosts’ genocide claims and listened patiently to genocide stories

Despite sour relations between Ankara and Yerevan, a Turkish travel agency decided to organize a cultural tour to Armenia and mustered a group of 30 tourists for a 10-day trip to Turkey's neighbor to the east.

The visit, the first of its kind, was organized by Fest Travel, known for its cultural tours worldwide. “We have organized tours almost everywhere around the world,” said trip leader Faruk Pekin, who is also Fest Travel's general director. “This time, it was Armenia's and Georgia's turn.”

Since the borders between Turkey and Armenia are closed, the group flew to Georgia, then traveled to Armenia by bus.

“Although there are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, we encountered no problems with visa procedures except for a few bureaucratic ones on the Armenia-Georgia border,” Pekin told the Turkish Daily News.

Turkey sealed the border in 1993 to protest Armenian forces' occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the South Caucasus, a de facto independent republic that is officially part of Azerbaijan.

The Armenians were pleasant and interested in their group, Pekin said.

“In one church, they opened the treasury room just for us,” he said.

After crossing the Georgian-Armenian border, the group visited the Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries, named world cultural heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Tour member Ertan Serbetçi said he found the mountaintop churches and cathedrals the most fascinating parts of the tour.

He was also impressed by the trip's upbeat tone.

“We experienced nothing negative,” he said.” The conflict is not between the Armenian and Turkish nations.”

Fellow traveler Leyla Çizmeci said she was proud to take part in the agency's first cultural visit to Armenia.

“The hospitality was great,” she told the TDN. “At our last dinner, Armenians sitting next to us in the restaurant joined us to dance.”

Nonetheless, the urbane group could not avoid encountering Armenian genocide claims condemning Turks for the killing of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 and saying the whole world should recognize it as "genocide."

“The group patiently listened to stories of genocide,” said Çizmeci. “Talking and listening to each other is the way to get rid of prejudices, and such kinds of trips between two countries may help normalize bilateral ties.”

The greenery she observed throughout the tour and the Georgian and Armenian music that accompanied them on the bus made the trip an unforgettable 10 days, she said.

The tour of Yerevan included visits to the Matenadaran Museum of Ancient Manuscripts, Yerevan Square, Republic Square, Yerevan State University, the Haghtanak (Victory) Bridge, the state historical museum, the city concert hall and opera house and the parliament building.

After Yerevan, the group took in the Ejmiatsin Cathedral, Hripsime Monastery, Surp Guyane Church and Zvartnos Cathedral. The last stop was the Garni Temple and the Geghard Monastery, with its view of Mount Ararat.

The number of participants reflects the sizable demand that exists for visiting Armenia. Another tour is planned for the end of August.

“We also hope to contribute to building warmer ties between our two countries,” Pekin said.


UK Government Member Uses Term Armenian Genocide For The First Time
13.05.2008, /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The UK government has strongly condemned the desecration of the Armenian Genocide Monument in Cardiff, Wales, which occurred on Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, 2008, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

In a reply to MP David Burrowes, (who had taken up a complaint by B. Nazarian of Armenia Solidarity about the act of vandalism), the Secretary of State for Wales, the Rt Hon Paul Murphy, replying for the UK government specifically referred to "the desecration of The Armenian Genocide Memorial in Cardiff in January 2008."

"I wholeheartedly condemn this violent act of desecration. It is distressing that this is yet another example of how we must all continue to be vigilant against such acts of racism, violence and hatred; and that we all need to stand united against them,” he said.

“This attack, like many similar crimes, is often unprovoked and undertaken under the cover of darkness. I hope that when the vandals are caught and prosecuted for this crime, this will go some way to easing the pain and distress that has been caused by this terrible act", he said.

"This is a most significant development" said a spokesman for Armenia Solidarity. "In the past government ministers have made strenuous efforts to avoid using the phrase the Armenian Genocide.
http://www.panarmenian.net/news/photos/26039.jpg


We are all Kemalists by Nicholas Birch, May 2008
Turkey's supposedly antagonistic "democratic Islamists" and "authoritarian secularists" are actually cut from the same cloth

Nicholas Birch is a freelance reporter based in Turkey

Battle lines are being drawn in Turkey. Indicted for anti-secular activities by the country's chief prosecutor, the ruling AK party faces closure just eight months after it won a general election with 47 per cent of the vote. At the end of March the country’s constitutional court agreed to hear the prosecutor’s case, and the dispute could now roll on for months. It's the latest and most bitter round of a feud that goes back decades. On one side, pious democrats. On the other, authoritarian secularists.

That's the most commonly used dichotomy, anyway. But just how questionable it is was evident from the surreal row that triggered the prosecutor’s closure case: the government’s attempt to end the ban on women wearing headscarves in universities. Conservatives insisted that the ban breached the obligation for Muslim women to cover their heads. Opposition leader Deniz Baykal, dubbed a "staunch secularist" by the western press, argued for the ban on the grounds that a woman who leaves her head uncovered is not committing a cardinal sin in Islam. Few made the simple argument that what a woman wears on her head is none of the state's business.

"This war is not between secularists and non-secularists, but Turkish Muslims and Muslim Turks,” says columnist Gokhan Ozgun. The real fear of secularists "is that their non-secular positivist Muslim state might turn into a non-secular orthodox Muslim state."

Far from being secular in the sense of maintaining a division between religion and state, the Turkish state has always used Sunni Islam to impose homogeneity on a multi-confessional society. Being a Turk means being a Sunni Muslim, as Timur Topuz, a Turkish convert to Christianity, found out when he leapt up to celebrate the Turkish football team's victory against Ukraine in 2005. "You, happy that we won?” his grandmother asked.

The key instrument of religious control is the directorate of religious affairs, or Diyanet, set up in 1924 when the Ottoman caliphate was abolished. With a staff of 100,000 and a budget rivalling national expenditures on defence or education, Diyanet preaches an admirably moderate form of Islam. But it maintains the authoritarian mentality of the soldiers who founded it. It runs Turkey's 80,000-odd mosques and drafts the Friday sermons read by imams across the country. Even purely religious issues are often given a nationalist flavour. In February, during Turkish operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, congregations were told that "fighting for the motherland is jihad, dying for it martyrdom." The directorate's aim has always been "to cultivate loyal citizens rather than good Muslims,” says Hakan Yavuz, an expert on Turkish Islam.

Yet attacks on this pious nationalistic brew are increasing. Some of the loudest criticisms come from Alevis, members of a 10m-strong ethno-religious minority whose syncretistic Shia-coloured beliefs and dance-filled rituals put them at the outer reaches of the Islamic spectrum. In March, Ali Kenanoglu won a landmark court case to get his son exempted from "religious culture and ethics" courses made compulsory, by constitutional order, for all schoolchildren in 1980 by a military junta. Dozens of other Alevi families, who see the syllabus as Sunni propaganda, have followed him to court.

Alevis' attitudes towards Diyanet are also changing. In the past, most merely demanded equitable representation within it. Now, many want it closed. "It would be the most important privatisation in Turkey's history,” says Aykan Erdemir, a Sunni sociologist who wrote his doctoral thesis on Alevism. "Turks gave up expecting the state to produce jam and pyjamas decades ago. Should it produce religious services? No. The services it produces are crap."

Rhetoric like this is rare in Turkey, where the few liberals there are huddle together for comfort in a handful of affluent Istanbul neighbourhoods. But it appears to be spreading to some conservative Sunni Turks. Neslihan Akbulut and Hilal Kaplan, twentysomething wearers of headscarves, became household names in February when they issued a press release, signed by 1,500 women, stating that ending university headscarf bans was meaningless without an end to discrimination against Alevis and non-Muslims, and a peaceful solution to Turkey's Kurdish problem.

When the AK party won its landslide last year amid deep national polarisation, its leaders promised compromise, stirring excitement with talk of replacing the authoritarian constitution many see as at the root of the country's ills. Then silence fell. Major reform ideas have now fallen from the agenda. Instead, the government has preferred piecemeal changes, like the headscarf ban, aimed at satisfying its conservative Sunni core supporters. Compromise has been abandoned in favour of rhetoric about representing the will of the nation. None of this justifies the anti-democratic closure case. Yet AK is far from being the democratic bastion many in Europe still make it out to be.

Its limitations become more glaring by the week. When police tear-gassed and beat trades unionists gathered on May day, AK backed the action. Far from standing up for a pro-Kurdish party also facing closure, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan refuses to shake hands with its MPs. The party’s response to the Ali Kenanoglu case was equally duplicitous. "We can't change a constitutional article," said the education minister, whose party had just rewritten two to sidestep headscarf bans.

Where has the government's earlier reformism gone? Some think two failed coup attempts in 2004 scared it into compromising with the state. Others think it's all about money. “Back in 2002, AK had only their chains to break," says Rusen Cakir, a political analyst. “Now, they've got contracts, cash, and they just want to hold on to power." Ayhan Bilgen, former head of a Muslim-slanted human rights watchdog, argues that AK failed to learn from 1997, when the army shunted a more traditional Islamist party from power. "Conservative Sunnis should have realised then that for all they are encouraged to see themselves as Turkey's number one citizens, the state does not tolerate them either. But… AK has now returned to the statist view of Islam—we defend the status quo and the state defends us."

AK’s transformation is summed up by a speech given by Erdogan in March: "Inshallah, we will carry our country towards the future according to the principles of one nation, one state, one motherland, one flag… Let nobody create discord among us… If we continue along this road loving each other on the basis that 'we love the creature because the Creator created him,’ problems will disappear."

This one-nation rhetoric was borrowed unchanged from a stockpile of tired slogans Turkey's authoritarian establishment has been regurgitating for decades. Indeed, apart from the religious connotations of “discord” (or fitne), the only phrase Erdogan uttered that was not a calque on Turkey's official Kemalist ideology was the one about creators and creatures, borrowed from Turkish Sufism.

Turkey's tragedy "is that all parties are Kemalist,” argues Ali Murat Irat, an Alevi intellectual. He is right. AK isn’t the fundamentalist bugbear of secularist imagining, slavering for sharia. It’s the naughty child of the system secularists set up and are now defending to the death. Like the son of a military officer who finds religion, AK may have repressed its father's barracks-room mentality for a while. Now it is back with a vengeance.

Turkey's secularists appear unaware that at the root of all they hate is their own authoritarian tradition of co-opting religion for nationalist purposes. For Turks dreaming of full democracy, the only hope is that AK lends an ear to the likes of Bulent Yilmaz, a Kurdish intellectual. "The Turkish state is like a black hole," he says. "If you don't want to be sucked in, you have to keep away, and move fast."

Abused French Of Armenian Origin Leaves Armenia 15 May 2008, APA
French citizen of Armenian origin has left Armenia because of corruption and illegality, APA reports. Valery Gordzunian, who opened “Paris coffee” café in Yerevan 13 years ago gave an interview to one of the Armenian websites that the ongoing injured her very much.

“I decided to leave France for Armenia to open café there 13 years ago. I have spent much money, energy. “Paris coffee” was the café of friends and businessmen. My wish has been collapsed, because of my credulity. I do not want to go in detail of actions committed against me. I lent money to one man and he refused to give it to me. My open-heartedness caused to involve him in business. I understood that he robbed my money with the help of corrupted shareholders. I cannot defend my rights and interests in Armenia. There is corrupted court in Armenia. I have mourned today very much. There is not Armenia, being valuable for me and you. I am obliged to close “Paris coffee” café and return to France”, she said.

ANCA Chairman Sharply Criticizes Bush's Final April 24th Statement
13 May 2008, De Facto
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian strongly criticized President George W. Bush's most recent April 24th statement as the final step of his betrayal of his campaign promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and a symbol of his Administration's "morally bankrupt" eight-year policy of complicity in Turkey's lies and denials.

The letter also notes that the President, during his two terms in office, has refused repeated requests by the leadership of the Armenian American community to discuss the Armenian Genocide and other issues of mutual concern. To note, earlier this year, on April 4th, Hachikian wrote a separate letter to the Secretary of State outlining 13 specific areas in which the Administration pursued policies at odds with the views and values of America's one and a half million citizens of Armenian heritage.


TTK: We Have Documents Refuting Armenian Claims
Turkish Historical Society (TTK) President Yusuf Halaçoglu has claimed that his organization has 100,000 pages of archived documents that serve as proof refuting allegations that Armenians were subjected to genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the current state of affairs regarding Armenian genocide allegations held last weekend at Kastamonu University, Halaçoglu asserted that genocide allegations were completely false.

Arguing that recognizing the 1915 killing as “genocide” would be meaningless, Halaçoglu stated that a historical committee should be established to investigate the issue. He noted that the TTK has been collecting documents and information on the issue from several countries and that the society currently has about 100,000 pages that positively refute Armenian genocide claims. During the panel discussion, Kegam Karabetyan, a member of the Istanbul Bar Association, also gave a talk. “Like all of you, I, too, am a child of Turkey and a citizen of the Turkish Republic. While I have Armenian roots, I take pride in living in Turkey and being a child of Turkey. How happy is he who says I am a Turk, and how happy are those Armenians living in Turkey,” he said.
/Zaman/


"The Armenian Genocide; Truth And Policy" Conference In Great Britain
AZG Armenian Daily #089, 10/05/2008
House of Commons of Great Britain held a conference on May 8 under heading "The Armenian Genocide; truth and policy".

Chairperson, Member of House Bob Pink underlined that Great Britain should recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of RA National Academy of Sciences Hayk Demoyan touched upon the Turkish policy on denial of the Armenian Genocide. According to him, the democratization of Turkish society is a very important factor in the improvement in Armenian-Turkish relations.

Armenian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Vahe Gabrielian highlighted the importance of the British Parliament's members' involvement in the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Turkish publisher Zaracolu, Director of "Hayhimnark" cultural organization, Lecturer in anthropology Suzan Patti and Historian-genocidologist Mike Joseph also delivered speeches.
Translated by L.H.


Comic Mentions The Armenian Genocide
May 10, 2008
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2319/2482407284_294a7c44b3_o.jpg
The internet comic Subnormality references the Armenian Genocide in its latest edition. Not only does it refer to the genocide as "cruelly forgotten" but goes on to quote the famous line by Adolf Hitler in a typically humorous manner.


Obama Vs. Mccain And Prospects Of Us-Turkish Relations
Yavuz Baydar y.baydar@todayszaman.com

"The world wants to see the United States lead. They've been disappointed and disillusioned over the last seven, eight years." These were the words of the almost-certain Democratic nominee for the next US presidency -- Barack Obama. Emerging as the winner of the North Carolina Democratic primary in a tight race with Hillary Clinton, who might drag the race on until July (unless she might have to accept to run for vice president on Democratic ticket), we will see Obama turning his focus on John McCain, the Republican candidate.

As I spent some informative days in Washington, D.C., this past week, I was happy to witness Americans coming out of the fog of primaries to see who would possibly run in both camps in November this fall. It is obvious that we are now heading for a presidential election unprecedented in US history, which might end with the first black president ever, hoped to be a way out of the mess that the Bush era left the country in. We know that some 80 percent of Americans now believe their country is on the wrong track and that some 60 percent believe the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Take it for granted that this issue will define the election outcome.

As we expect two candidates (if we stick with the assumption that Obama will secure his candidacy for good) with an age difference of some 25 years, there will be a new era with the new president -- whoever that will be -- in which the strain on US foreign policy will be obvious. The Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan -- all waiting to be dealt with, and in a different mood and manner than the world became used to during the George W. Bush era.

Take it for granted, also, that Turkey will be the focus when dealing with all these major issues related to global security.

But which Turkey? A country in a deliberately sustained political crisis, constantly struggling within itself and with an uncertain outcome, or a promising, reliable one?

This was the main theme, when we met -- a group of foreign policy makers, prominent analysts, journalists and diplomats -- at the Brookings Institution for two days to assess where things are as regards US-Turkish relations in these troubled times. After all, relations between the two countries would be severely challenged if two Turkish parties -- one of which has the majority in Parliament - were to be shut down by court decision.

Although there was a clear intent on the part of US officials to avoid responding to questions such as "What would the US administration's reaction be if and when the Justice and Development Party [AK Party] is shut down and some of its top deputies are banned from politics?" in private conversations, one could notice the clear unease of US officials over such a prospect.

This was a high-level meeting. The "Sakip Sabanci Lectures," in memory of the late, great businessman, gathered for the fourth year at Brookings. Each year, an outstanding diplomat from the State Department is invited to share their views on the course of relations between these somewhat troubled allies. This time, we had the opportunity to hear what Nicolas Burns, the recently retired undersecretary of state for political affairs, had to say, together with Strobe Talbott, the president of Brookings.

Happy that the strains in the relationship were now over, Burns was hopeful about the future. The lesson was that one should never allow war to stretch the relations to the limit, as the Iraq war did. The next president's priority, he warned, would be the Middle East and Iraq, and he praised Turkey as "the most successful Muslim state in the world." He also praised the AK Party for a successful policy, calling President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "great statesmen in foreign policy issues."

There will be some serious business with Turkey when the next president takes over, Burns said. The president should help Ankara in its fight against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terror; reinstate a clear commitment for Turkey's full membership in the EU; and -- most importantly -- make sure Turkey remains democratic, "civilian-led," secular and stable. For its part, Turkey should reform its military, open its borders to Armenia, set a new policy on allowing the education of Greek clergy at the Halki seminary and boost a breakthrough in the Cyprus talks.

All this is routine talk. A democratically elected government on both sides could deal with these. But the issue is how to approach a "threat of disruption" in Turkish democracy. What must the new US administration do if it happens? If the deep strategic relations with Turkey mean something to the US, why is it that there is such an apparent "out of sync" discourse about the closure cases between the EU and US? Are US officials aware that they are alienating the EU Commission in its approach to Turkey? If Turkey's affairs are integrated by their very nature to the EU domain, why is the US refraining from taking a stand?

US officials must respond candidly to these questions to make us sure about their stance. Now, we know nothing about it.
11.05.2008


Four Year Old Injustice Ends: The Minority Report Is Not Guilty
Bia News Service, 07-05-2008, Erol Önderoglu
The Supreme Court of Appeals confirms the acquittal of Prof. Dr. Kaboglu and Prof. Dr. Oran, who were on trial for four years for the Minority Rights and Cultural Rights Report they prepared to improve the role of civil society in Turkey.

The Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the acquittal of Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Kaboglu, the former head of the Human Rights Advisory Board of the Prime Ministry (BIHDK) and Prof. Dr. Baskin Oran, the head of the subcommittee of the same board. Attached to the Prime Ministry, the Board was established to give civil society a say in efforts to improve Turkey’s human rights record. Both Kaboglu and Oran were accused of “Inciting hatred and hostility among people” for proposing the “Türkiyelilik” concept in the Minority Rights and Cultural Rights Report, which was penned by them and accepted by the Board on October 1, 2004. Not easily translatable, the term “Türkiyelilik” means being from Turkey, which was construed by nationalist circles as an unacceptable departure from the already established term of Turk, a term with strong ethnic connotations.

On May 10, 2006, Ankara's 28th Criminal Court dropped the Article 301 charge, following the reply by the Justice Ministry that the conditions for the trial for “denigrating Turkishness” had not materialized, and ruled that the defendants were to be acquitted of the Article 216 charge, “inciting hatred and hostility among people” as well.

Investigating the appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals 8th Penal Circuit overturned the acquittal decision regarding the Article 216 charge, ruling that the corporeal and incorporeal conditions of the crime existed.
When the Chief Prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeals objected to the acquittal decision, the file came on the agenda of the Court of Appeal’s Plenary Penal Committee. On its April 28 meeting, the Plenary Committee ruled to confirm the acquittal decision of the court. As a result of this decision, Kaboglu and Oran’s acquittal finally became definite.

Kaboglu: The decision will form a precedent for the courts

Kaboglu described the outcome of the confirmation of the acquittal decision as a very important gain for the freedom of expression and discussion.

Explaining that the decision was a first example of its kind for the Plenary Committee of the Supreme Court of Appeals Circuits from the perspective of Article 216, Prof. Kaboglu said that this decision was an important precedent for all the judiciary organs, including the Supreme Court of Appeals.
“The injustice brought about by the four-year-long trial ended”
Stating that the decision ended the enormous injustice brought about by the four-year-long trial, Kaboglu stated that he wished this would contribute to the human rights and democracy, emphasizing how it also meant for the users of the freedom of expression that creating an arbitrary thought crime was not possible.

Kaboglu also indicated that this decision was a definite warning for the government as well, for it constantly violated the Code 4643 by not calling the IHDK to meet following the litigation, adding that the outcome should also be taken into consideration in the case of Article 301, which he claimed should be annulled. (EÖ/TB)


Article 301 Remains: A Damaging Step For Freedom Of Expression
Bia News Service, 09-05-2008, Erol Önderoglu
The president Gül ratifies the revised 301, which now forbids denigrating the Turkish Nation rather than Turkishness. The permission to open a case will need the approval of the Ministry of Justice and the cases will be heard in the Criminal Court of Peace.

The president ratified the revision of Article 301, which forbids “denigrating Turkishness, the Republic, the institutions and organs of the State” and he sent it back to the prime ministry to be published.
It was revised to adapt to EU, but it caused more problems

Article 301 was born during the course of adapting to the norms of the European Union. Article 159 of the old Turkish Penal Code was eventually changed completely to become the Article 301 on June 1, 2005. However, following the reactions it received and the many culprits and sentences it created in three years, the lawmakers had to revise Article 301.

The Minister of Justice Mehmet Ali Sahin had explained in a response to a motion that in last five years six thousand seventy five individuals were tried under the 159 revision and Article 301. Seven hundred forty five of them were sentenced.

While some organizations for rights, among them Helsinki Citizens Assembly (HYD), the Human Rights Association (IHD), the Organization of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed People (MAZLUMDER), the Joint Platform for Human Rights (IHOP) connected to the Turkish branch of Amnesty International, the Initiative Against Thought Crime, Say Stop to Racism and Nationalism (DurDe), stated that Article 301 must be annulled, the government ignored these calls.
Passed with 250 votes against 65

Despite objections from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Turkish Parliament (TBMM) passed the bill to revise Article 301 with 250 votes against 65 on April 29.

In the new article, the expressions of “Turkish Nation” and “the State of the Turkish Republic” replaced the expressions of “Turkishness” and “The Republic”, respectively, while the title of the article was changed to “Denigrating the Turkish Nation, The State of the Turkish Republic, the institutions and organs of the State.”

The new form of Article 301 became:

“The person who denigrates openly the Turkish Nation, the State of the Turkish Republic or the Grand Assembly of Turkey and the judicial institutions of the State shall be punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 2 years. The persons who denigrate the military and police organizations of the State will too receive the same punishment.

Expressions of thought with the intention to critique shall not constitute a crime.

The prosecution under this article will require the approval of the Ministry of Justice.”

The investigations and the cases will be taken to the Criminal Court of Peace

According to the new arrangement, the permission to open a case will be given by the Ministry of Justice. It is expected that as the revision goes into effect, the investigations that were opened since “they contained judgments to the advantage of the culprit” and the cases that were finalized will be taken up again.

Since the punishment time was lowered from three years to two years, the new cases will be in the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court of Peace and the cases that are still open at the Criminal Court of First Instance will be transferred accordingly. (EÖ/GG/TB)


Civil Disobedience Restarts: 200 People Commit The “thought Crime”.
Bia News Service, 08-05-2008
The Initiative Against Thought Crime restarts its activities as a reaction to the increased number of law suits targeting people who simply express their opinions. 200 people report themselves to the authorities for the same “crime”.

The new lawsuits and the nearly completed trials forced the 13-year-old Initiative Against Thought Crime to restart its “civil disobedience” activities to draw attention to the arrangements against the freedom of expression. They announced their decision yesterday (May 5) at a press release given at Üsküdar Hall of Justice in Istanbul.
Following the press release, more than two hundred people denounced themselves by stating that they agree with the “criminal” thoughts of the individuals like the lawyer Eren Keskin, the former Democratic Society Party (DEP) deputy Mahmut Alinak, the former editor of Agos, an Armenian-Turkish weekly, Aris Nalci, the license holder of the same newspaper Sarkis Seropyan, and the singers Bülent Ersoy and Ferhat Tunç.

Yurdatapan: Peaceful expression of a thought cannot be sued

The individuals who took part in the civil disobedience act signed a proclamation that said they knew the meaning and outcome of what they were doing and signed it with their free will. The initiative spokesperson Sanar Yurdatapan reported their crimes to Üsküdar public prosecutor’s office on behalf of the activists.
Yurdatapan explained that the civil disobedience activities of1995 are restarted, that they will continue reporting themselves to the prosecutors by becoming a party to the crimes of the people who are sued for expressing their opinions in a peaceful manner, whatever their opinions may be.

Keskin: I hope this activity will help our voice be heard
According to Keskin, “When the topic is the freedom of expression, we should look at which thoughts are banned. These are thoughts related to the Kurdish, Armenian, Cyprus and the Turban (Headscarf) problems. Everyone who thinks differently from status quo commits a thought crime. I am also one of these people. I hope this activity will help our voice be heard.” The journalist Erol Özkoray, the artist Ferhat Tunç, the actor Mehmet Atak and some civil disobedience activists joined Keskin as well.

Keskin, Allinak, Nalci, Seropyan, Tunç are accused, Ersoy is under investigation

Following the demand by the general staff, the lawyer Keskin was sued for her interview with the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel on June 24, 2006, which was construed as “denigrating the Turkish Armed Forces.”

The former DEP deputy Alinak was sued for being in violation of the 1928 Law of the Acceptance and Application of Turkish Letters, according to Article 222 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The legal proceedings about Nalci and Seropyan for “obstructing the just trial proceedings” is continuing. They are on trial for their article titled “Akilli Tahta” (The Smart Board) that was published on the November 9, 2007 issue of Agos, in which they critiqued the decision that was reached regarding Hrant Dink’s Article 301 case.

The singer Bülent Ersoy’s words during a television program are under investigation for “alienating people from doing their military service.” The singer Ferhat Tunç is accused for “doing the propaganda of a terrorist organization”.

Civil disobedience again…

Since the beginning of the “civil disobedience” activity at the time when Yasar Kemal, a famous writer from Turkey, was called to the State Security Court in 1995 for his article published in Der Speigel, more than eighty thousand people have taken part in the “crimes” of the others by giving signatures to seven books and forty-eight booklets. (EÖ/TB)


Karekin Urges World To Recognize Genocide Claims
The head of Armenia's Orthodox Church took part in Pope Benedict XVI's public audience on Wednesday and urged all countries to recognize that Turks committed genocide against Armenians early last century.

Karekin II sat at Benedict's side during the traditional weekly audience in St. Peter's Square -- part of a visit to the Vatican that is the latest high-level contact between Catholic and Orthodox leaders.

Addressing a crowd of faithful assembled in the square, Karekin appealed "to all nations and lands to universally condemn all genocides that have occurred throughout history. "Denial of these crimes is an injustice that equals the commission of the same," he said.

Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, visited Armenia in 2001 and paid his respects to the Armenians killed in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Many countries have been careful in treating the issue, because any recognition of the killings as genocide is likely to rattle a nation's ties with Turkey. Last year, the US House of Representatives stopped short of voting on a resolution that would have called the killings genocide after Turkey threatened grave consequences to relations.
08.05.2008, AP Vatican City


Paperback - Byzantium: The Surprising Life Of A Medieval Empire By Judith Herrin
Reviewed by Ross Leckie, The Times, May 2, 2008
It was Byzantine from its beginning. Re-founded in AD330 as Constantinople and known today as Istanbul, the city of Byzantium was the heart of an extraordinary empire. The successor to Rome, under its 90 consecutive emperors and 125 patriarchs, it lasted for some 1,100 years until the Ottoman Turks took it at last in 1453 and another empire began. Before then, by repelling Muslim conquest, Byzantium made Europe possible. As Herrin puts it, Europe “could not have existed had it not been shielded and inspired by what happened farther to the east in Byzantium”.

It's a long story, though, and prejudices abound - such as the pejorative modern use of the adjective “Byzantine”. And while there are many books on specific aspects of Byzantine history, there are few on the whole. Such an endeavour is a daunting one, and few scholars possess a thousand-year range. So Herrin's attempt is admirable. Does she succeed?

As a general, accessible introduction, yes. Her approach is thematic, rather than chronological. That has advantages - and disadvantages - as she is forced to go back and forth in time. Nor can she give the totemic, formative figures such as Diocletian the attention he deserves. But the compensations are many, with 28 short chapters on subjects ranging from the crusades to eunuchs. The infelicities are few - did Byzantium really inherit from Rome “a contempt for trade”? - and Herrin's achievement in re-creating a complex world is huge.


Denying Armenian Genocide, Ankara Can’t Understand What Democracy Means, 02.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Truth about the Armenian Genocide Is That It Is True! The denial policy of Turkey and the corresponding justification of the genocide sends the wrong message to the new generations of Turkey; worse, it breeds the potential justification of mass murder in the world as a whole, Edward Papelian writes in “Turkey’s Chronic Inability to Face the Truth” article published in Global Politician on April 29, 2008.

Indeed, as the former Israeli Minister of Education and a Member of Knesset wrote in reference to the Armenian Genocide: "We cannot accept victims without murderers, genocide without the responsible. An orphaned genocide is the father of the next genocide."

The article continues:
“Co-existence Is an Obligation of the People of the World: generations have had to deal with the genocide of the Armenians. And much time and energy has been wasted - time and energy which could have been constructively used for compensation and reconciliation. As long as Ankara continues to carry out international diplomatic feuds and to view the acknowledgment and condemnation of the genocide as only provocation or national humiliation, it has not and cannot understand what humanity, democracy, compensation, reconciliation civilized society, Europe and the culture of remembrance means. As a result, communication and interrelations with the free, democratic world will naturally remain troubled and disturbed. That is why the time has come for Turkey to look in the mirror.

“Turkey has to understand that the invented glorious history of Turkish politicians/bureaucrats – the very ideology of the state itself – is not only biased and based on racism, but that the corresponding industry of genocide denial is outdated. Cosmetic "reforms" and cosmetic "changes" to notorious penal codes are meaningless and change nothing. It is the mentality of the Turkish politicians which has to be changed, not the facts on Armenian Genocide. What was happened was and remains genocide.

“Even in "modern" Turkey, independent historians and journalists do not have an easy life, especially if they undertake any attempt to question the official national dogma regarding the Armenian Genocide and destruction of other Christian minorities. When they do so, the Turkish Minister of Justice speaks of the "stabbing Turkey in the back with a dagger" and of the betrayal of the fatherland. (In Turkey, such utterances – especially when coming from a minister of the government – can be the equivalent of a death sentence and are reminiscent of the fatwa of the religious fanatics.) Among others, the Noble Prize winner Orhan Pamuk was forced to go to exile due to his questioning of the official stance, and the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink – an outspoken voice of the tiny Armenian community still in Turkey (foreigners in there historic home land!) – was executed in cold blood in 2007 in front of his office after the Turkish judiciary publicly persecuted him.”


Possible Rapprochement Between Armenia And Turkey By John C. K. Daly
May 9, 2008
Among the “frozen conflicts” left over from the implosion of the USSR in December 1991, the economic implications of Armenia’s 1988 to 1994 conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh are perhaps the most striking, as Armenia’s economy has until recently stumbled along while Azerbaijan’s has soared, floating on a tidal wave of oil exports.

One of the unpleasant diplomatic byproducts of Yerevan’s dispute with Baku over Nagorno-Karabakh was Turkey’s decision in 1993 to close its 204-mile-long border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan. Turkey had no formal diplomatic ties with Armenia, but ironically, the previous year Turkish Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel had opened the border with Armenia for humanitarian aid, thereby clouding diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan, even as it was supporting the Azerbaijan side in the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh at the United Nations (Hurriyet, November 13, 24, 25, 27, 1992).

With economic considerations undoubtedly in mind, Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian recently extended an olive branch to Turkey. On May 6, during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Paris, Nalbandian said, "For its part, Yerevan is ready to establish relations with Ankara without any preconditions. Our nations and the whole region [would] benefit from it" (Interfax, May 6). This echoes earlier, similar government pronouncements. On June 5, 2005, when addressing the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership, then Armenian President Robert Kocharian announced, “We are ready to continue dialogue with Azerbaijan about the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and with Turkey on establishing relations without any preconditions” (www.panarmenian.net, June 5, 2005). Last June then Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met on the sidelines of a Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization summit in Istanbul, where Oskanian told Gul that Armenia wanted to improve ties with Turkey, which would be facilitated by reopening the border. Gul responded that Armenia should first work to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Azerbaijan (Daily Star, June 26, 2007).

While Armenia’s disputes with Azerbaijan date back to the twilight years of the Soviet Union, its issues with Turkey are nearly a century old, focusing on the tragedies in eastern Anatolia during World War One. Armenia labels the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians there genocide, a charge that Turkey strongly rejects. Armenian advocates for years have been urging the U.S. government to label the events as such, adding stress to relations between Washington and Ankara.

For Yerevan, the net result of its foreign policies toward Baku and Ankara has been diplomatic isolation, which in turn has slowed potential growth rates and had a deleterious effect on the economy.

In 2007 the Central Intelligence Agency estimated Armenia’s GDP growth rate at 13.7 percent, Azerbaijan’s at 31 percent and Turkey’s at 5.1 percent. The CIA concluded, “Armenia will need to pursue additional economic reforms in order to improve its economic competitiveness and to build on recent improvements in [eliminating] poverty and unemployment, especially given its economic isolation from two of its nearest neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan” (“Armenia,” “Azerbaijan,” “Turkey,” 2008 CIA World Factbook).

A bitter truth for Armenia is that while it is adjacent to a rising oil producer, the vast majority of Armenia’s energy is produced with fuel imported from Russia, including gas and nuclear fuel for the Metsamor nuclear power plant,. Its main domestic energy source is hydroelectricity.

Yerevan’s diplomatic isolation meant that Armenia was excluded from the $3.6 billion, 1,092-mile-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, but Azerbaijan in turn was forced to pay a price for its unwillingness to negotiate, as the BTC was forced to take a lengthy detour around Armenia, adding substantially to the project’s cost and causing delays in construction. Armenia continues to lose out on regional developments, such as the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway line, due to be completed in 2010.

While Turkey has consistently maintained that resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is a precondition for normalizing its relations with Armenia, Ankara has attempted to assist in facilitating peace negotiations, convening the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia in trilateral discussions in 2002 in Reykjavik and 2004 in Istanbul, all to no avail. Interest in resolving the impasse led the new administration of U.S. President George W. Bush to convene a diplomatic summit in Key West in April 2001 between the former presidents Robert Kocharian of Armenian and Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan, again without results (“Remarks with President Kocharian of Armenia, and President Aliyev of Azerbaijan at Key West Peace Talks,” Secretary Colin L. Powell, Key West, Florida, April 3, 2001, www.state.gov).

An honest broker may now again be at the table. The French co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Bernard Fassier, has given some faint cause for optimism on the issue, stating, “France treats both Armenia and Azerbaijan as friends and its position is completely impartial. It would assist development if the borders were open not only between Turkey and Armenia but also between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Nobody is interested in the poverty and the misfortune of its neighbor. Closed borders do not hinder Armenians from traveling to Turkey by air or from working in Turkey. It shows that relations between the two countries are not completely disturbed. We hope for a peaceful solution to all problems between the countries. The normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia will help resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Simultaneous resolution of these two problems is possible” (AzerTag news agency, May 5).

For Yerevan, the choices are as stark as they are unpalatable. Concessions must be made on its territorial and ideological disputes with its neighbors if it wishes to gain the diplomatic traction to participate in the economic growth of eastern Anatolia and the southern Caspian. If events of the last decade and a half have proven anything, it is that Turkey and Azerbaijan, in particular, can get along without Armenia more easily than Armenia can prosper without them, preconditions or no preconditions.
© The Jamestown Foundation


Brussels Reporters Fed Up With Armenian Lobby
Brussels reporters aren’t happy with the volume of e-mails, press releases and newsletters sent to them by Armenian lobbyists, a poll has revealed.

In an online survey conducted by global communication consultancy APCO Worldwide in cooperation with API and Journalists@YOURSERVICE, Brussels reporters were asked to pick the worst public relations pitch of the last year. Activities of Armenian lobbyists were voted the sixth-worst. Reporters complained of too many e-mails from Armenian associations, spamming inboxes. The number-one in the worst 10 is a “commercially oriented but disguised-as-politics briefing approach.” The second-worst was “GMO crops are good for the environment and help to beat hunger in the world.” In the top 10 on the best practices list, reporters most admired the new EU broadband statistics, setting up 27 short separate national interviews with each country’s press. The second in the top 10 is Manchester United’s 50th anniversary match for the EU.

Media corps wants Juncker as president
Asked who they would vote into the EU presidency if given the chance -- a hotly debated topic these days -- the Brussels press corps made it clear they were rooting for Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker. Juncker received 35 percent of press members’ votes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel garnered 21 percent and Tony Blair, 18 percent. Some argue that Juncker, the long-time prime minister of one of the smallest EU members, will never be taken seriously in negotiations with countries like Russia, the US or China. As for Tony Blair, his chances are getting slimmer, as French President Nicholas Sarkozy has withdrawn his support for the former British prime minister. According to the Lisbon Treaty, the EU should elect the first EU president in December at the latest, as she or he must begin in their post on Jan. 1, 2009. The first-ever president of the club will be elected by the leaders of the 27 members with a qualified majority.

At a time when Barroso has been roundly criticized by a segment of the Turkish press for demanding “democratic secularism,” the majority of Brussels reporters believe European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is doing a good job. Fifty-six percent say Barroso is a good president while 28 percent disagree. However Brussels reporters do not want to see him as the first EU president.

The most-read paper by Brussels correspondents is The Financial Times; 46 percent of them read it, while 33 percent read the Euobserver, an online EU daily.

The survey was sent to 1,614 journalists in Brussels and elsewhere who cover European affairs. Of these, 121 responded, corresponding to roughly 10 percent of the Brussels press corps.
10.05.2008, Selçuk Gültasli Brussels


Turk-Armenian NGO is a No-Go
May 8, 2008, Fulya Özerkan, Ankara - Turkish Daily News
A Turkish-Armenian business organization is not permitted to open a branch in Istanbul, in total contrast to the government’s willingness to restart political dialogue with Armenia following elections there

While political leaders of both Turkey and Armenia debate ways to "open dialogue," an effort by a Brussels-based association of Turkish and Armenian businessmen has been told that even an Istanbul office for the nongovernmental organization is off the table, it was revealed yesterday.

The request began with Brussels-based Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council's request last year to establish an office in Istanbul. But, the Turkish Daily News learned that the request was quietly rejected by the Interior Ministry in February.

Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the Council, confirmed that four Turkish members of the organization including himself applied last May to open the office supposed to connect the Turkey-EU network in order to foster business opportunities.

"We have received no response for nine months and in February, the Istanbul Governor's Office sent a letter rejecting our request without any justification," Soyak told the TDN yesterday.

Until February, he continued, Turkish and Armenian members of the Council had the impression that the Interior Ministry would allow the opening of the office because at round-table discussions in the United States last November, Turkish diplomats heralded the government's plans to allow the office. However, the letter from the Istanbul Governor's Office was in total contrast to expectations.

"… As a result of the inquiry carried out by our ministry, permission is not granted for opening the agency of the mentioned organization in Turkey, and it is requested to end the activities of your functioning branches and agencies, if any, in our province and notify us of their addresses," noted the letter, the original copy of which was obtained by the TDN. The letter carries the signature of Fikret Kasapoglu, deputy governor of Istanbul.

Speaking to the TDN, Kasapoglu said the Governor's Office had no involvement in the issue and that all the authority rested with the Interior Ministry.

"This means double-standards. I cannot understand why the Turkish government is opposing this," said Soyak, drawing attention to what he called a "paradox" that the government currently opposing the opening of a Turkish-Armenian office in Istanbul sought help from the same Council a few years ago to lobby against a controversial report proposed by the European Parliament. The report, which was eventually blocked in the parliament, required that Turkey recognize the alleged Armenian genocide as a precondition to become a member of the European Union.

The TDN learned that the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) stepped in for the opening of the office in Istanbul and was planning to raise the issue during talks with EU officials, who came to Ankara for the bi-annual Troika meeting Tuesday.

The Troika is comprised of the EU commission, EU term president and the next term president. It discusses reforms and the pace of negotiations with candidate countries.

The government's rejection comes right after calls for dialogue with Armenia in the wake of the elections there, a development that raised hopes for the opening of a new chapter in troubled relations.

The Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council is a nongovernmental network of Turkish and Armenian business leaders working since 1997 for the restoration of normal relations between Turkey and Armenia and for the reopening of their common border.

The two neighbors have had no diplomatic links after Ankara severed ties in protest to the Armenian occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, over which Armenia fought Turkey's ally Azerbaijan in a war in the early 1990s. Attempts by the Armenian diaspora to garner international support for recognition of genocide claims have further soured ties.


Turkey Should Not Be Given A Seat On United Nations Security Council By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
The Turkish government is turning the world upside down, trying to secure a seat on the coveted United Nations Security Council. Ankara has resorted toall sorts of improprieties, such as bribing third world countries, to win over their votes in support of its candidacy.

These Turkish tricks were exposed by the Eurasia Daily Monitor, published by the Jamestown Foundation.

In October, the U.N will select five countries to fill five rotating seats on the Security Council. To represent the region known as "Western European and Others Group" in the Security Council, U.N. General Assembly members will vote for two of the following three candidate countries: Turkey, Austria and Iceland.

Turkey last served on the Security Council in 1961. Turkish officials have been lobbying for this seat ever since 2004 -- almost five years before the scheduled date of the vote on October 16, 2008. If successful, Turkey wouldserve a two-year term beginning on January 1, 2009.

To garner votes for his country, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan has been meeting "a succession of dignitaries from little-known states in far-flung corners of the world," Gareth Jenkins reported in the Eurasia Daily Monitoron April 17.

During the month of April, the leaders of Nauru, the Republic of Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Palau, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa and Tonga arrived in Istanbul for a conference on how to improve Turkey's almost non-existent ties with these states. Later in the month, Foreign Minister of the Maldives, Abdullah Shahid, was invited to Ankara for discussions with his Turkish counterpart, Jenkins reported.

Turkey stands to benefit diplomatically and politically from its possible membership in the Security Council which would also raise the country's prestige and national pride, Jenkins said.

Turkey launched its campaign for Security Council membership in June 2004, when it sought the support of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), during the group's summit meeting in Istanbul. In the first six months of 2006, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials visited 30 countries, seeking their support. In September 2006, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener went to Cuba to attend the Summit Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. After a breakfast meeting for leaders of Caribbean states, hostedby the Turkish Embassy in Havana, Sener told Turkish journalists: "I had never heard of the names of some of them before, but they all have a vote at the UN." The lobbying efforts continued in 2007, with Turkish officials visited another 27 countries.

Turkey allocated in 2006 a total of $700 million in assistance to various developing countries. It contributed $20 million to pay off the debts of small nations to the UN, in order to ensure that they are not deprived of the right to vote -- for Turkey! In 2007, Turkey established a $15 million fund to support underdeveloped small island states. Moreover, for the first time Turkey established relations with the Marshall and Cook Islands.

In order to secure the votes of African states, Turkey is opening 10 new embassies in Angola, Chad, Ghana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger and Tanzania. In 2005, Turkey became an observer member of the African Union. In March 2008, Turkey announced that it is allocating $50 million in development funds to several African countries. In August 2008, just two months before the UN vote, Turkey will host a conference in Istanbul on Turkey-Africa Cooperation.

Given the extreme vulnerability of small island states to global warming which may cause them to be overrun by rising sea levels, Turkish officials have developed a sudden interest in environmental issues. After meeting in Istanbul last month with leaders of several island states, Foreign Minister Babacan announced his government's commitment to fighting global warming and risingsea levels! Actually, Turkey is one of the very few states that has yet to signthe 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Turkey is not qualified to serve on the U.N. Security Council, as it is a major violator of human rights and a threat to the peace and security of neighboring states.

All those who have contacts with officials of UN member states should expose Turkey's vote-buying efforts and urge the delegates of these countries not to vote for Turkey. Instead, they should support the candidacies of Austria and Iceland - two truly democratic countries which are far ahead of Turkey in every respect!


Armenian Ship Sunk By British Pirate In 1698 Found Off Coast Of Dominican Republic
Divers are thought to have found the remains of the ship captained by British pirate Captain Kidd, off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic.

The wreck was found by a local diver, archaeologist Charles Beeker, and is thought to be that of the 400-ton Quedagh Merchant, sunk in the Caribbean around 1700 after Kidd had abandoned it to make his way to New York in a bid to clear his name. He was hanged for piracy in London in 1701.

In 1698, Kidd had captured the Quedagh Merchant, an Armenian vessel under French protection and loaded with gold, silver and valuable cloths. The ship was his most notable capture and set in stone his reputation as a fearsome pirate. But Kidd always maintained that he was not a pirate but a privateer, loyal to the British crown.

Following his decision to leave the vessel and head north to face his persecutors, the Quedagh Merchant was sunk and looted. The chances of recovering treasure from the wreck today are slim. But it is the wreck itself which is interesting archaeologists.

"We've got a shipwreck in crystal-clear, pristine water that's amazingly untouched," Beeker told journalists. "We believe this is a living museum. The treasure in this case is the wreck itself."

Considering the wreck's shallow depth and close proximity to shore, it seems remarkable that it has remained undiscovered until now, despite having been the target of searches over many years. So far, a number of main hull structures, along with cannon and anchors, have been found.

Details of construction and armament appear to tally with historical records, and archaeologists plan this year to continue surveys to establish conclusively whether or not the wreck is that of the Quedagh Merchant.

Editor Note. I wonder if another compensation case coming up. Maybe it is already in progress!


Harut Sassounian To Receive 2008 Ellis Island Medal Of Honor
GLENDALE -Harut Sassounian, the President of the United Armenian Fund, Senior Vice President of the Lincy Foundation, and publisher of The California Courier, will be among this year's recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor given by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) on May 10 inNew York City. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is awarded to outstanding Americans who have distinguished themselves as citizens of the United States and have helped enable their ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of American life.

This year's recipients will receive their awards at the annual ceremony filled with patriotic pageantry at Ellis Island. A gala reception will follow in Ellis Island's Great Hall. The evening's events will be capped by a spectacular fireworks display in New York Harbor.

"To be included among such remarkable Americans who have devoted their lives to the preservation of America's freedoms as well as their ethnic heritage is a very deeply touching and moving honor," Sassounian says. "I am proud to be a citizen of the United States, a country where people from all over the world come and blend together in a larger society while keeping their unique backgrounds."

As President of the United Armenian Fund (U.A.F.), a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American charitable and religious organizations, Sassounian has coordinated the procurement, delivery, and distribution of over $500 million of humanitarian assistance to Armenia since 1988's devastating earthquake. Sassounian also serves as the Senior Vice President of Kirk Kerkorian's Lincy Foundation, where he has overseen the implementation of over $200 million of infrastructure-related projects in Armenia, as well as a $20 million loan program to small- and medium-size businesses.

In addition to his positions at U.A.F. and the Lincy Foundation, he volunteers his time and expertise serving on the Leadership Council ofUSC'sInstitute of Armenian Studies and the Board of Directors of Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena.

A former non-governmental delegate on human rights at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, he played a leading role in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and has also served on the Community Advisory Board of Los Angeles PBS station KCET-TV.

Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier. An author and documentary producer, his commentary has a world-wide audience. Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients are selected each year through a national nomination process. Screening committees from NECO's member organizations select the final nominees, who are then considered by the Board of Directors. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially passed resolutions recognizing the Ellis Island Medals of Honor, which ranks amongthis country's most prestigious awards. Each year, Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients are listed in the Congressional Record, honoring those who have made enduring contributions to the nation and to the world.
The California Courier Online


Armenia And Terrorism According To Us Department Of State
On May 1 the US Department of State published its annual report on terrorism. In these reports, published regularly since 2004, are being figured out the statistics for anti-terror actions in the world and US cooperation with other states. Naturally, we are first of all interested in the statistics about struggle against terrorism in Armenia and its neighbors, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Comparing the conclusions about Armenia and Azerbaijan, at once we noticed that a great number of people were arrested in Azerbaijan under suspicion of being involved in terrorist organizations. The report says that 15 civilians, calling themselves "North Army of Mahdee" were detained and accused for being in contact with the Iranian Revolution Guardians’ Corpse. Another terrorist group, lead by some Arab, Abu Jafar, was caught in Sumgayit. 11 people were arrested in September. It is said they were preparing a terrorist attack against the US Embassy in Baku.

However, the report on Azerbaijan, so rich with arrests and terrorist organizations, lacks the most important part – the conclusion. It is uncertain, whether the United States are concerned with the large number of terrorists in Azerbaijan, or not.

On the contrary, the report on Armenia, where not a single incident however linked with terrorism was recorded, is full of conclusions of the American "experts". It turns out that the USA is troubled with the intensive Armenian-Iranian relations. The "experts" elaborated in details, how last year the President and the Defense Minister of Iran visited Armenia and how close the diplomatic relations between Yerevan and Teheran are. By the way, the President and the Defense Minister of Iran also visited Azerbaijan in 2007, but nothing is said about that in the report.

At the same time Department of State report says that although Armenia cooperates with the USA the in struggle against terrorism, the corruption in the Government, shadow economy and high level of criminal may permit illegal transfer of arms, terrorists and money through the territory of Armenia.

Our conclusion is simple and obvious: the Department of State had nothing to write about Armenia and all the absurd was written in order to write just something. The report on Armenia has no legal or juristic grounding and is only aimed at stating that there are "certain criminal elements" in Armenia, which may possibly cooperate with terrorist financial structures. This sounds absurd, when at the very same time there are dozens of such criminals in Azerbaijan, which are already cooperating both with financial and militant terrorist structures. The report clearly shows that the United States, having nothing to say against Armenia, but minding to equalize Armenia and Azerbaijan, invented inconsistent and fake "accusations" (if this word is suitable here).
By A. Manvelian, translated by A.M


Asim Mollazade: "Armenian Lobby Organizations Lead The Campaign Of Attempt To Draw A Veil Over Armenia's Internal Problems, Which Have Become Known To The Whole World"
06 May 2008, Today Az
Day.Az interview with MP Asim Mollazade, chairman of the Party of Democratic Reforms.

-How would you comment on the tough criticism of Azerbaijan by US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice first and US President George Bush then?

-First of all the speech of US President George Bush was not devoted to assessment of situation in Azerbaijan in separate. It dated to the World Day of Press. However, I do not think that the criticism of the US leadership is something surprising as official Washington has repeatedly made due announcements addressed to Azerbaijan.

-Do you agree that US allocation of over $3,000,000 for conduction of upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan is interference with the internal affairs of our country?

-Of course, not. The US allocation of over $3,000,000 for different programs aimed at conduction of fair and transparent elections in Azerbaijan, is also not new. The United States have allocated definite assets for all elections in Azerbaijan through various funds and organizations. Moreover, a part of allocated funds will be spent for work with government organizations. Therefore, I think it is incorrect to draw too much attention to the said traditional actions of the United States or call them the interference with the internal affairs of Azerbaijan.

-Speaking about Condoleezza Rice's announcement addressed to Azerbaijan, several local experts consider not the fact of criticism incorrect but the comparison with Armenia, where bloody events occurred. Do you agree with this statement?

-I agree that Condoleezza Rice's announcement is not a criticism of Azerbaijan. It is an attempt to draw a veil over the problems of Armenia, which became known to the world society after the recent presidential election in this country.

Though, it is well known to everyone that people were killed during the bloody events in Yerevan, over 200 representatives of Armenian opposition were arrested and the parliament deputies are currently under arrest in Armenia. Censorship and emergency state have been applied in this country. Unfortunately, the world society has not condemned these actions of the Armenian leadership. I can suggest that this is because the world community, on the whole, and the United States do not want the development of democracy in Armenia.

- But, why do you think the United States try to distract attention from the need to punish those, who committed bloodshed in Yerevan and ruined the idea of democracy in this country, to the attempt to assess situation with the level of democracy in Armenia and Azerbaijan?

-Active role is played by the Armenian lobby organizations, which lead the campaign on the attempt to draw a veil over the big problems inside Armenia, including the problems of freedom of speech, freedom of political convictions and other problems in human rights, well known to the whole world.

In this connection, I would like to remind one interesting moment: I have repeatedly asked the representatives of the Council of Europe, why the representatives of Armenian opposition and human rights organizations, which could speak of the real life in Armenia, repressions against the opponents of powers of these countries, are not invited to the hearing on the situation in Armenia. I received no response to my question. Thus, we can say that the United States, and the whole West do not want to see Armenia as a developed and democratic state. It seems that the United States and West prefer to see Armenia as an outpost state.

-There is a truth that nothing is free of charge. In other words, what can Armenia offer to the United States, as a gratitude for the policy of official Washington of carrying Armenia out of this situation in which she found herself owing to its support to separatism and territorial claims to neighbor countries?

-Nothing. Moreover, I am sure that the leadership of Armenia will further conduct policy aimed at escalation of aggression in the South Caucasus region and will not make any concessions in the negotiation process on the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, preferring to imitate the negotiation process. Therefore, I think that such policy towards Armenia is an ill office for the Armenian people which is doomed to stay under control of military criminals. These actions also demonstrate the weakness of not only the United States, but also all the democratic countries of the world before the Armenian lobby, whose actions contradict to the national interests of the United States.

-Do you really think that Armenian lobby is so strong that it is able to press on official Washington and the leading countries of the country?

-Certainly, it is. In particular, we have already witnessed how ethnic lobby groups conducted activities, contradicting to the national interests of the United States.

-But what should Azerbaijan do if the Armenian lobby is so influential?

-Azerbaijan should work at creation of its lobby organization and strengthen its positions in the world and be stronger.

-I would once more return to the announcements of the US leaders. Don't you think that criticism addressed to Azerbaijan before the presidential elections prove that the United States tend to criticize their results, even if ideal elections are held in our country?

-I do not think that there is a risk of such developments. I think that free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan will be highly appreciated by the United States.

-Is the possibility of free and democratic elections in Azerbaijan high?

-I think Azerbaijan has all conditions for conduction of transparent and democratic elections. Merely, a great deal of work should be done in this direction.


Why Do Turks Keep Denying The Armenian Genocide?
Yahoo Answers
I have seen several posts here from Turks denying the Armenian genocide. I find it difficult to understand how they keep denying the historical facts that have been chronicled by credible historians. It is like the president of Iran denying the Holocaust. Why can't these people ever admit to their faults? Look at the Germans, they acknowledged their participation in the Holocaust and apologized for their crimes.

Yeah, that's weird, isn't it? I have known a lot of Turkish people and they've always been great friends and easy to hang out with but bring up this subject and it's like you insulted their mothers.

Because it's nothing but a BIG LIE perhaps? have you ever thought about it? may be you should also wonder
a) WHY mature men & women do not accept the existence of the tooth fairy & Santa Clause (Hint: because they are fakes too)
b) WHY armenians need A LIE to maintain their identity and to turn so violent racist folks as to feed terrorist organizations like asala?

pls let us know when you get to find out why ...


And Kentucky Makes 41, AncaUpdate, May 7, 2008

Last week, Kentucky became the 41st state to recognize the Armenian Genocide (red means recognition). Click on the map to see where your state stands.

1) Kentucky Becomes 41st State to Recognize Armenian Genocide
2) ANCA "End the Gag Rule" Campaign Hits Capitol Hill
3) Senator Obama Pledges Continued Efforts to Press Turkey to Acknowledge Armenian Genocide
4) Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan Urges Vigilance Against Genocide in Capitol Hill Meetings
5) Eight Years of Broken Promises: Bush Again Breaks Pledge to Recognize Armenian Genocide
DARFUR ACTION: Are your investments supporting Genocide?

Kentucky Becomes 41st State to Recognize Armenian Genocide
FRANKFORT, KY - The Armenian National Committee of America- Eastern Region (ANCA-ER) welcomed today a proclamation issued by Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The "Bluegrass State" proclamation brings the number of states to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide to forty-one.
The powerfully worded proclamation designated April 24, 2008, as "Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide" in the state of Kentucky, noting that "recognition of the ninety-third anniversary of this genocide is paramount to guarding against the repetition of future genocides and educating people across the Commonwealth about the atrocities of these horrific events." Read more. . .

ANCA "End the Gag Rule" Campaign Hits Capitol Hill
High-Impact "End the Gag Rule" Ads Featured in Capitol Hill Websites and Publications
WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America's (ANCA) nationwide "End the Gag Rule" campaign has gone to Capitol Hill, highlighting the unacceptability of Turkey's use of threatsand intimidation to veto U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The campaign includes coordinated grassroots activism, focused Congressional outreach, and an unprecedented series of compelling print and on-line advertisements in Capitol Hill websites and publications. The ads, which serve as the centerpiece of the campaign, feature a powerful image of the Statue of Liberty with a Turkish flag gag over her mouth, symbolizing Turkey's efforts to silence America's proud and principled advocacy of human rights.
Full page print ads appeared on April 23rd and 24th in Roll Call, The Hill, and Congressional Quarterly's CQ Today, and on-line ads are appearing, through all of April and May, on a rotating basis, on the following websites targeting Members of Congress and the broader Washington, DC public policy community.

3) Sen. Obama Pledges Continued Efforts to Press Turkey to Acknowledge Armenian Genocide
WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) pledged to continue his efforts to press Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, in a strongly worded statement submitted yesterday to the Congressional Record marking the 93rd Anniversary of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The statement by the Senator, who has been endorsed in the Democratic primaries by the ANCA, was one of 30 remarks by Senators and Representatives including those by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered remarks at the April 23rd Armenian Genocide observance on Capitol Hill.
“Armenian Americans value Senator Obama’s consistent and principled leadership in pressuring Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and to end its shameful campaign to deny this crime against humanity,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “He remains clearly the best positioned to bring about real change, real action, and real hope for an end to the cycle of genocide.” Read more. . .

4) Archbishop Choloyan Urges Vigilance Against Genocide in Capitol Hill Meetings
WASHINGTON, DC – His Eminence Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States, urged Members of Congress to speak with moral clarity about the Armenian Genocide and to work to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, during a full day of more than 20 Capitol Hill meetings leading up to the April 23rd Congressional Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Archbishop’s meetings included discussions with Senators and Representatives from traditional Armenian American communities in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as those from growing communities in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Among the legislators he met with were: Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Republican Peter King (R-NY), Congressional Human Rights Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Phil English (R-PA), Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), Rep. James Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. John Tierney (D-MA). View the photo gallery and read more. . .

5) Eight Years of Broken Promises: Bush Again Breaks Pledge to Recognize Armenian Genocide
WASHINGTON, DC – In his eighth and final year in office, 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 Turkey's genocide against the Armenian people between 1915-1923, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“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 Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
“The President not only failed to honor his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but used the full force of his White House to block Congress from taking the very step he himself had pledged to undertake as a candidate for office. He not only fired a sitting U.S. Ambassador who had the courage to honor his president’s forsaken pledge by speaking truthfully about this crime, but then went on to nominate a genocide denier to take his place. He 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.” Read more. . .

DARFUR ACTION: Are your Mutual Fund Investments Genocide-Free?
Years after the genocide in Darfur was publicly acknowledged, millions of people are unknowingly and inadvertently investing in the companies that are funding this genocide. Investors entrust their family savings and pension funds to mutual fund and other investment firms, which in turn invest those savings in companies which help to fund genocide.

A broad base of major financial institutions invest in a small set of problem companies, particularly PetroChina. When confronted with this problem, these investment firms ignore the moral issue of investing in genocide.
Mutual Funds and investing firms are being asked to adopt a simple resolution at their upcoming shareholder meetings, stating: The Board will institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that, in the judgment of the Board, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity, the most egregious violations of human rights.

Votes are now being cast by shareholders of 15 Fidelity funds including the widely held Contrafund, Magellan and Puritan funds in advance of shareholder meetings on May 14.

In the first two rounds of voting, 50% to 60% of the shareholders eligible to vote did not return ballots expressing their opinion on the proposal. For the May 14 vote, if just one third those people vote for genocide-free investing, the proposal will pass. .

Take Action Now by Visiting Investors Against Genocide


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Published by the Armenian National Committee of America, Washington, DC 20036

Obama Reiterates Backing For Armenian Cause
May 1, 2008, Ümit Enginsoy, Washington - Turkish Daily News
Involved in a fierce battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton to grab the Democratic Party's nomination for the U.S. presidential elections in November, Sen. Barack Obama has reiterated that the United States should recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide." "It is imperative that we recognize the horrific acts carried out against the Armenian people as genocide and I will continue to stand with the Armenian American community in calling for the government of Turkey to acknowledge it as such," Obama said in an April 28 statement that was printed in the Senate's official record.His remarks came on the occasion of the April 24 remembrance day for the Armenian killings.He claimed that "the occurrence of the Armenian genocide is a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming collection of historical evidence," although many prominent historians dispute this view."I called for Secretary [of State Condoleezza] Rice to closely examine what I believe is an untenable position taken by the U.S. government," Obama said. "I will continue to push for the acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide, and I offer the Armenian people my condolences."In January, Obama announced that he would recognize the Armenian killings as genocide, if elected president.Shortly later, Clinton followed his example and made a similar statement.

Fierce competition:Still, the Armenian National Committee of America, the largest U.S. Armenian group, apparently found Obama more sincere than Clinton, and as a result put its backing behind the African American senator from Illinois against the former first lady.Clinton so far has not made an April 24-related statement.Republican presidential nominee John McCain has consistently not supported genocide recognition resolutions in Congress.Obama and Clinton will be facing each other in key primaries in Indiana and North Carolina next Tuesday.In the nomination process, Obama presently commands the support of more delegates than Clinton, but she won the Pennsylvania primary last week, raising her hopes in the competition.In another development, Turkey's ambassador here, Nabi S,ensoy, hosted several members of the Congressional Black Caucus at a reception at his residence late Tuesday as part of Turkey's efforts to reach out to African Americans."This is aimed at improving our image in America, we want to enjoy closer relations with African Americans and also Hispanics," Sensoy said.

"Fight Against Armenian Lies"
29 April 2008, Azg
On April 27 at the Times Square, New York, a rally was held by the "Young Turks" organization, the subdivision the Union of Turkish Organizations of America. The rally was dedicated to the "fight against Armenian lies and the memory of the assassinated Turkish diplomats" and was aimed at opposing the Armenian Genocide commemoration events. The demonstrators declared that the history is to be left to be studied by historians.

On the next day, the members of the Armenian community of the USA held a demonstration on the same place. CNN-Turk reports that a number of US Congressmen took part in the Armenian rally and emphasized the necessity of recognizing the Armenian Genocide both in Turkey and in the USA.

Ömer Engin LÜTEM / Prospective Negotiations With Armenia
29 April 2008, Eraren
While there emerged the possibility of commencement of a negotiation process between Turkey and Armenia, in Yerevan, in the demonstrations organized for commemorating the “genocide” on April 24, Turkish flags were burned and stepped on. These incidents attracted strong reaction of the Turkish public opinion. The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the incidents by emphasizing the moral significance attached to the Turkish flag in Turkey.

Besides, it was also seen that there were many negative expressions in the message that Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan had issued on the same day.

Sarkisyan argued that international recognition and condemnation of Armenian “genocide” has been an indispensable part of Armenian foreign policy. When Kocharian became president in 1998 he integrated this principle to Armenian foreign policy and thereafter Armenian diplomacy has paid considerable attention and exerted significant efforts for the recognition of genocide allegations by other states. Still, there are nineteen parliaments that have recognized these allegations. Since twelve of them made this recognition after 1998 Armenian diplomacy contributed much to the international acceptance of genocide allegations, thanks to the concerns of EU countries for the Turkish accession process.

Another important expression that attracted attention in Sarkisyan’s message is that Armenian efforts would be duplicated for the realization of “historical justice”. What is meant by “historical justice” is not clear. In Armenia as well as in the Armenian Diaspora, the perception that the Armenians were subjected to injustice during Ottoman administration has prevailed. With this expression, it was intended to stipulate that the territories demanded from Turkey have not been recovered and the compensation for relocation has not been received yet.

Armenian President also declared that the Armenian side is “ready to normalize its relations with Turkey without any precondition, while they are holding the memory of the innocent victims alive”. However, it is paradoxical for Armenian authorities to demand normalizing relations with Turkey, while they have been increasing their efforts for international recognition of genocide allegations and they have tacitly been voicing territorial demands and compensation.

Finally, it is evident that Sarkisyan has adopted the formula of “establishing diplomatic relations without any precondition”, which had also been the case in Kocharian period. Indeed Turkey has presented several preconditions for normalization of the relations. First of all, Turkey demanded mutual recognition of territorial integrity between two countries. Ending the efforts for the international recognition of genocide allegations and resolution of Karabagh conflict are other conditions, although they have secondary precedence. Armenia, on the other hand, aims to open the land border and to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without taking the existence of these problems into consideration.

According to the press, Prime Minister Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan sent a message to Armenian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and congratulating them for their new tenure. They also called for dialogue for the normalization of bilateral relations. These messages have been replied positively; however normalization of bilateral relations without any precondition has been repeated as well.

In sum, it is understood that a negotiation process may be initiated between two countries; however, since there would be no major change in the attitudes of the two sides, it is difficult to guess what kind of results might emerge out of these negotiations.


Sydney's Armenian Community Commemorates The Armenian Genocide Hagop Tchamkertenian
Armenian Rights Council of Australia, 25 Apr 2008
The Sydney Armenian community came together on Sunday 20th of April 2008 for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. The annual commemoration is organised by the three traditional Armenian Political Parties comprising of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and is supported by Sydney based Armenian religious, cultural, educational, media, benevolent and sporting organisations.

The key note speaker at this year's commemoration was New York Times Bestselling Author, Professor Peter Balakian who joined political figures, representatives and members of Sydney 's Armenian community in commemorating the 93rd anniversary of the Turkish campaign to annihilate the Armenian nation.

Represented at the commemoration were the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, as well as the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Dr.Brendan Nelson. Also represented at the commemoration were the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Morris Iemma and the Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, Mr. Barry O'Farrell MP.

Professor 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) highlighted the critical role that the Armenian Genocide played as a precursor for other modern genocides.

The Armenian Genocide was used by infamous 20th century dictators including Adolf Hitler in planning and justifying the execution of the European Jews, Gypsies, communists and homosexuals during World War II.

Professor Balakian highlighted the shared history of Armenians and Australians which was fostered following the arrest of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals on April 24, 1915 in Istanbul Turkey , and the Gallipoli landing of the Anzacs on April 25, 1915 .

Balakian's address stressed the need for worldwide recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

In refuting Turkish claims that the events of 1915 was an example of the many tragedies that befell the people of the Ottoman Empire due to the prevailing war time conditions, Professor Balakian was able to present in a logical and systematic manner the events that prove that the Armenian Genocide was pre-conceived and highly organised centrally by the Turkish authorities.

Balakian stressed that besides being the first example of a modern genocide, what made the Armenian Genocide further unique was the use of technology by the Turkish authorities.

The telegram was extensively used to issue concise instructions to all regions of the Ottoman Empire on how to eradicate the Armenians.

And with all able men killed, cargo trains were used to transport the remaining Armenian population comprising of women, children and the elderly to established concentration camps in the Syrian Desert .

These concentration camps condemned those that were transported there to certain death by hunger and disease.

Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian in his statement to the attendees said the days of sadness and sorrow have long past. Instead the Armenian people in both Armenia and the Diaspora are now in pursuit of justice and accountability.

While welcoming the growing number of countries, states, provinces and city councils who have officially acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian said what the Armenian people are seeking is the official acknowledgment of the crimes committed against the Armenian people by past Turkish authorities.

The Turkish acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide will prove to be the most meaningful to the Armenian people Archbishop Aghan Baliozian concluded, drawing a thunderous applause from the attendees.


L.A. Times Invites This Writer to Counter Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Three weeks ago, I wrote a column criticizing the editors of The Los Angeles Times for providing a worldwide platform for Turkish denials of the Armenian Genocide by posting on the newspaper's website the transcript of their meeting with leaders of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA).

In response to my column, the executives of The Times invited me last week to meet with editors Tim Cavanaugh and Paul Thornton. After the meeting, The Times published the following note on the editorial page in its April 24, 2008 issue: "Harut Sassounian visits the editorial board to discuss genocide denial, changing governments, historical records and more." Highlights of the editorial board meeting were posted on The Times website which can be accessed by clicking on the following link: www.latimes.com/primarysource. Portions of that interview are reprinted below:

The Armenian question, 2008: Harut Sassounian on realpolitik and genocide Harut Sassounian, publisher of the California Courier and a leading figure in the local Armenian-American community, visited the Times this week to discuss relations with Turkey, genocide recognition and other matters. Here are some highlights.

Giving a forum to the ATAA
Tim Cavanaugh: The Times recently put up a transcript of our meeting with the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. You've indicated that that's comparable to giving, say, skinheads a platform to deny the Holocaust. Could you expand on that?

Harut Sassounian: I fully respect freedom of expression -- after all, I'm the publisher of the California Courier, so I understand the mission and purpose of journalists and editors. However, I took offense, and a lot of the people who contacted me were offended, that this group could come in and not only have a meeting -- which is not a problem -- but then have their words of denial put on the world wide web. Even with the best intentions of educating and informing the community about their position, the L.A. Times is becoming anindirect conduit for denial of genocide, which is very offensive to us.

Cavanaugh: Clearly anything I say on this is going to sound defensive, but I would say there's news value in hearing these people state their position. This is not a fringe group; it's a well-established organization. Sassounian: Any group, no matter who they are, that denies any genocide or holocaust, I can not with a clear conscience call them a respectable group.They lose respectability when they deny genocide.

Talking Turkey
Sassounian: I avoid interfacing with Turkish officials, because they're bound by their positions to propagate the official Turkish line of denial. So there's no point in having any communication with an official who can't say anything other than the government's position. I've had many offers to meetwith Turkish consuls or ambassadors, but I turn down all invitations because they know what I'm going to say and I know what they're going to say, so there's no point in offending each other.

Paul Thornton: But they would say they're inviting you to join them in some kind of fact-finding mission that will determine the final say in this -- even though historians agree.=80¦

Sassounian: I'm not the one who needs fact-finding. I welcome and encourage Turkish officials, scholars and journalists to do all the fact finding they need. If they have questions, I'll be happy to answer questions or direct them to sources. But I don't need to find out what happened. I know what happened. My grandparents' families on both sides were wiped out. So that's not something I read in a book. I grew up with my grandfather and grandmother telling me the hell they went through. It would be besmirching their good name to join in some kind of fact finding.

Widespread recognition of the Armenian genocide

Cavanaugh: My anecdotal impression is that there's pretty wide acceptance of the reality of the Armenian genocide: popularly in the United States, and maybe worldwide. I mean, a substantial number of people in the world don't even know the Holocaust happened, so you're never going to have total awareness,but there does seem to be pretty wide recognition.

Sassounian: That is a very correct impression. Scores of countries, parliaments, have passed resolutions recognizing it as genocide. The U.S. Congress itself, all the way back in 1916. There was a Senate resolution in 1920; more recently in 1975 the House passed a resolution recognizing the genocide. In1984 there was a second resolution. President Reagan in 1981 signed a presidential proclamation saying "genocide." The UN Sub-commission on Human Rights did a study and concluded it was genocide. The European Parliament in 1987 passeda resolution. And many others have since then. So at this point it's no longer what we used to call the forgotten genocide or the hidden Holocaust.

Cavanaugh: So what are you campaigning for now? I mean there was this thing last year where Cong. Jane Harman disappointed a lot of people locally. What would we be looking for now in terms of recognition?

Sassounian: Let's dispose of Jane Harman before we get on to more serious issues. Jane Harman's mistake was that she was a co-sponsor of the genocide resolution; while remaining on record as the co-sponsor, she wrote a letterto the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee asking that the resolution not be brought up for a vote. So she was saying one thing openly and doing something else behind the scenes. That's double-talk and dishonest in my book. Coming back to the more serious issue, for several decades after 1915, parts of various families survived the genocide. So initially, they found themselves in the deserts of Syria, no housing, no food, nothing -- completely in destitute shape. So what was on their mind was getting a mud hut to live inand a piece of bread to eat. Over time, they built churches, schools, a semblanceof normal life. Then people of the next generation started forming groups dedicated to recognizing the injustice that was done to them. They would write letters to government officials, which would get ignored.

When my generation came along, we were the first to get educated, know foreign languages, understand the ways of politics. It was this generation that began to get some recognition of the genocide. Little by little, as things began to change, the Turkish government started to react, started saying there's no such thing, just ridiculed it. But as the world began to accept this, the Turkish government started putting serious money and effort behind the denial. So they brought in Turkish and non-Turkish scholars, hired lobbying firms.

But now the genocide is an established fact. So we're not clamoring anymore about the world ignoring us. And the L.A. Times is the best example of that. The paper is on record recognizing the genocide. So are the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Even recently, Time magazine issued a statement recognizing it as genocide and saying it would be referred to as such.

In 1915, there was a nation living on its own ancestral homeland. They had been there long before there was a Turkey. In addition to losing 1.5 million people, we were uprooted from our homeland. So what Armenians would like --and this is not a dream that can be realized anytime in the near future -- is justice. Everything was taken from them: their lands, churches, bank accounts, livestock, homes, everything. This was a gross injustice done to these people. Just asking for recognition from the Turks, having them come and say "Yes, 90 or 100 years ago, your ancestors were wiped out," that doesn't do anything. We already know we were wiped out.

So what we want, as a right -- no matter how impossible its implementation --is justice for the Armenian people. For all the stuff that was taken from them we demand just compensation. And that can take many forms. This is where Armenians and Turks should sit down, and have a very lengthy and serious discussion about what can be done, what's realistic and what's not, what form it should take, whether it's realistic to demand land at this point, whether it's realistic to make financial compensation, as Germany did with survivors of the Holocaust... At least at the surface level, Armenian churches, religious monuments in Turkey, should be returned to the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey. Not to the United States or Armenia or some foreign entity, but to the few survivors who live in Turkey still. These are citizens of Turkey and these are their houses of worship. And they have the right, under the Treaty of Lausanne, to worship there.=80¦

Thornton: What's preventing a case from being brought to the international court right now?

Sassounian: Nothing's really preventing anyone. There are several practical issues. One is that Armenians for many decades were trying to recover and establish the facts of the genocide, so they weren't running to court. In recent years, lawyers filed against New York Life, and got a $20 million settlement for Armenians who had life insurance policies. Now there are lawsuits against several German banks to recover funds that Armenians deposited before the genocide. There was also a large amount of money deposited in the Ottoman Bank. So at some point, Armenians are going to go for their possessions, and go to European courts with their deeds of trust and demand that they get their possessions back.

The second answer is that the world court can only take cases brought by governments. For many years there was no Armenian nation. So now we have the Republic of Armenia, which is in desperate straits, so they're not going togo and antagonize Turkey, which is a much stronger neighbor. And the Diaspora has no standing in that court.

This is not about wishful thinking. You have to go to international experts and find out, for example, does a court now, in 2008, deal with an event that took place 93 years ago? You have to look at questions regarding the Genocide Convention of 1948, whether that has any retroactive effect. Those are very complex legal issues. It's not a matter of civilians saying "I want this or that." Because the worst thing that can happen to Armenians is, if they're not skilled in legal issues, if they just go and file in court and the court dismisses the case because it has no jurisdiction, then the next day the Turkish propaganda machine will say, "The Armenians tried to file a genocide claim but it was dismissed because it had no merit."

Cavanaugh: One of the things that really seems to make it tough for these kinds of discussions is this axis in Washington D.C. of realpolitik types who take the line that we can't do anything to infuriate Turkey, that we need to have them on board, they're important to Israel, and so forth. What presence do Armenians maintain in D.C.?

Sassounian: We have a couple of small Armenian organizations with small staffs, who try to defend Armenian interests and counter the Turkish efforts. But as for realpolitik, I studied international affairs and I was a U.N. delegate for ten years, so I know the reality of the world. And I know manyof the things we say run counter to realpolitik. But let's stay at the level of realpolitik for a moment, and not get into issues of justice or truth. If U.S. and Israeli officials, from day one, or even now, would say to the Turkish republic: "We are allies, we share common interests, we wouldn't want to doanything to hurt you. But this is something that was done more than 90 years ago, bya former regime that no longer exists. We cannot, because of friendship, go against the truth. This is history. We're not talking about taking action, of grabbing a chunk of Turkey and giving it to Armenia. We have no ill will against Turkey. But we cannot change history. This thing happened in 1915. We will continue to be friends."

Think of it this way: Say a new administration came up in Germany and said, "We are deeply offended by the constant reminders of the Holocaust, and if the United States ever again brings up the Holocaust, we're going to walk out of NATO, send your ambassador back, cut off trade, etc. We're going to do that unless you shut down the Holocaust Museum in Washington." What would the U.S. government do? It would say, "I'm sorry. We're going to continue to recognize the facts and we're not going to be bullied by anybody, especially a country that is much less powerful than the United States." And Germany's much more powerful than Turkey.

This is what they should have done with Turkey. But instead, to the detriment of U.S. interests, they are always trying to appease, trying to say "Yes, it was a tragedy but it was not genocide. We can't pass this resolution." If you are always trying to appease, and saying you're sorry whenever Turkey gets offended, once they see that you're being soft and weak and not determined,then they start being demanding. That's why last year when the resolution came up, Turkey threatened to block delivery of military hardware going through Turkey to Iraq. Now they've got you. Now you've allowed yourself to be manipulatedby a regime that's not only denying history, but threatening your interests. Instead, you should show you are resolute. In 1981, when President Reagan signed that proclamation, the Turkish government complained, and there were negative articles in the Turkish press. Three days later, it was completely forgotten. That's the position the U.S. government should take. Many other countries have taken that position, and for a while Turkey was mad at them, but they don't take the position that when this or that country recognizes the Armenian genocide they punish them for it. So, if you want realpolitik, just bite the bullet and get it over with.

Cavanaugh: Do you see different attitudes from the Turkish government, on this or any other issues, since the Islamist party has been in power?

Sassounian: I think the government in power now is much more people-oriented, sympathetic in general to all sorts of minority rights and human rights. That doesn't mean they're pro-Armenian by a long shot. But that's a government that eventually could lead to positive developments between Armenians and Turkey. However, on the negative side, that government is under tremendous internal pressure from the Turkish equivalent of neocons. The radical, nationalist, and kemalist Turks are putting so much pressure on Erdogan's government that Erdogan is not in a position to take positive steps on this issue.

However, since the new government has come into power in Armenia, there has been an exchange of letters between Turkey and Armenia, saying they're interested in establishing normal relations. So there are early indicationsthat possibly with new officials, this could lead to something positive.


Los Angeles Armenians Explore the Diaspora in India
CALCUTTA, INDIA - India is an amazing country which has contributed its share of culture, architecture, religion and history to the world. Everyone should have the chance to visit this historical place to see with their own eyes the old cultural sights. But all of this aside, one should remember that India is also dear to the hearts of Armenians. Many have established their lives there and built churches, schools, printing presses and clubs to keep alive the Armenian spirit.

Inspired by the possibilities of this ancient nation, a group of Armenians visited India in February, to better acquaint themselves with the country and an important aspect their own culture. The tour was organized by TNI Holidays and conducted by Helena Cray, who was born and raised in India. She was educated at Calcutta's Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy established in 1821. Being of Armenian descent, she understands her people's place in this vast country along with its history and the people's mindset.

The visiting group of Armenians spent one week in New Delhi where they visited the historic sights, sampled the cuisine and acquainted themselves with the locals. Of course visiting India and not seeing the spectacular Taj Mahal in the city of Agra would make the trip incomplete. After New Delhi they left for Calcutta, a once heavily Armenian populated city. They are five Armenian churches and other related sights in the region and they began to explore them all beginning with the Armenian cemetery, the retirement center, and the Saint Nazareth, Saint Gregory, and Holy Trinity churches. Afterwards they made a quick pilgrimage to the Saint John the Baptist Church in Chinsurah.

While at Calcutta's Armenian college, they were greeted by the community's leader and the school's principal Father Oshagan Gulgulian who gave them a tour of the facilities and filled them in on the school's latest activities. The guests had a chance to dine with the students and exchanged ideas.

Their next stop was Saidabad. Two centuries ago, it fostered a thriving Armenian community involved in the silk trade who worshiped at the Holy Virgin Armenian church. Built in 1758 it was recently renovated.

The Armenian-Americans were honored by the members of the church board in Calcutta. Sunil Sobti and Suzan Ruben were gracious hosts who briefed the visitors on the status of the community and their exciting plans for the future. Helena Cray, who now lives in California, can be reached at 818)517-2901for more information on upcoming tours to India.
The California Courier Online


Turkey-Armenia Exchange Letters As Sarksyan Begins His Term In Office
28 April 2008, Hürriyet
Armenia's new prime minister welcomed on Sunday the good will congratulatory message of his Turkish counterpart, saying Yerevan is ready to start dialogue with Turkey on improving relations but repeated its view that talks should not have any preconditions. Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed his hope that with the election of Tigran Sarkisyan Turkish-Armenian relations "will enter a new period, which would contribute to peace, stability and welfare in the region," Yerevan-based Mediamax agency reported. Armenia was ready to start dialogue with Turkey on improving relations if Ankara does not set preconditions to talks, Sarksyan wrote in his response letter.

The letter exchange between the two countries' prime ministers came after Turkish people and the government showed strong reaction to the Armenian provocation during a so-called "genocide" commemoration last week. In the official ceremonies, Armenians walked over and burnt the Turkish flag. A deputy chairman of the ruling AKP said Armenia "should apologize" for the incidents.

Last week Turkey's foreign minister said he had sent Armenia a letter calling for dialogue. Turkey's calls for dialogue or proposal to form a committee to investigate the so-called "genocide" clams have continually received a cold response from Yerevan.

However some think the recent letter exchanges between two countries could be a step towards a warming of relations. "I confirm the readiness of the government of Armenia to engage in constructive dialogue and establish relations without preconditions," Sarksyan wrote in a letter to Turkey.

Turkey and Armenia have no diplomatic links after Ankara severed ties in protest against Armenian control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Armenia invaded in a war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. The border between Turkey and Armenia has been closed.

"I assure you that our efforts will be aimed at ensuring peace, tolerance and stability in our region," Sarksyan added in the letter.

Armenia's genocide claims are another problem in two countries' relations. Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.

Turkey 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.

Turkey is of the view that parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate forums to debate and pass judgment on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation.

In 2005, Turkey has officially proposed the establishment of a joint commission comprised of historians and other experts from both sides to study the events of 1915, utilizing not only Turkish and Armenian archives, but also those of relevant third-party countries and to share their findings with the public. Armenia has not responded positively to this initiative, as yet.


A Mythos And The History
The Armenian claim, which increasingly influence our nation deeply and attempted to cope with in various platforms since the foundation of the Turkish Republic, has started evidently to turn into writing or constructing of the history.

Attempting to turn these claims into a binding decision at a position of an historical fact at various international platforms of the national or local parliaments, seems like “a process designed for re-constructing Armenian genocide history”. This method is a way of writing history, in other words, making science that would not fit into ethical and scientific framework.

The genocide mythos that is desired situates the facts to this kind of heretic way of thinking. The approval of this by the legal bodies waylays the researches that could be prepared on this issue, or search documents and archives to a great extent. Moreover, the afore-mentioned history construction seems planned but not free, designed for calling us to account for the incidents, but not designed for knowing, judging, and also not descriptive. This process is not impartial, but convicting as regards its consequences. In practice, it can easily be exploited and used arbitrarily. It involves not only the past and present generations of our society but also the next generations as well.

The move for labeling the tragic incidents that occurred during 1915 crisis as genocide and turning them into a genocide mythos is a serious question, whose future results cannot be calculated from today. Being an accused target of genocide, which has been invented, is more painful situation than being its subject. The point, which hurts the Turkish nation deeply about the resolutions that are taken at the foreign institutions, is the perception of speculation. And, which is also the attempt for bringing this scenario forward at various countries as a scene connected to each other.

Ordinary Individual and Social Representation

In the framework of socio-psychological findings, it is understandable how these kinds of attempts for re-writing history can find supporters at various parts of the Western countries easily, even if it surprises some people, who are devoted to the ideals of democracy. The typical individual of these societies is not a person, who can think rationally, collects information, filters the information prior the decision and who is sensitive regarding documents and evidences, as the democracy theories assume. Moreover, these kinds of ordinary people, whom daily socio-psychological researches are focused on, in other words, everyone except the experts of the discussion topic, produce theories via shortcuts without spending much effort instead of learning the opinions of experts by moving in a systematical way on the problems that rack their minds.

These theories remind mosaics, where the pieces of information, which are transferred from here and there, seems to be pasted side by side and which does not seem to posses a consistent connection. This mosaic, which is not depended on the necessity of appropriateness to logical principles, is the culture of a world, which is shaped by prominently media and culture, mass media devices. Although a sufficient amount of information is not necessary, everyone produces shortcut theories when there is no need for logical arguments and opinions. This is also true for us.

Human mind is not fond of emptiness. Our tendency of perceiving the world on mental basis and dominating it, directs us to search for causal explanations on individuals, situations and incidents on which we make observations. This searching becomes concrete when we ask and attempt to answer the questions of “Who did it?” “Why did he do it?” at every incident of our area of perception. Finding a subject to each incident and attributing a reason for it, relieves people and gives an end to mental stress.

The socio-physiological researches on the epistemology of the daily life show us that there is a commonsense or “mutual sense information” in other words a social thought, which is different from scientific information. This information is a kind of information, which is used and produced by an ordinary person in his daily life. In the beginning, the daily information was characterized as incorrect information that is produced by an imperfect scientist, in other words, the man in the street.

However, currently (1) it is considered that daily information or theories have their own dynamics, and that information is not incorrect and it is socially motivating nevertheless, the men in the street does not desire to learn the facts and etc. People do not search for the scientific information, but they are in need of the instrumental information in their daily life in this sense. Therefore; for instance, it is not important how the scientists perceive the atom physics. This information does not carry an operational value in daily life. The parts that are simplified about the atom physics, which are reflected to media and the parts that are leaked to the daily talks, is the thing that is important. Its perception in daily life and social representation would be sufficient.

(…) As it was indicated by Nisbett and Ross (02) we should know the regression law in our daily life. We should pay attention to statistics. We judge a whole group with a testimony of a single person or a single incident. We pay attention to the one which is particularly sensational and concrete and attempt to confirm our identifications and hypothesis. The world or the reality we talk upon in our daily life is a social construction that is made by our structural design.

(…) Social representations are total of images, statements and models, which are formed previously for a certain object. They are conditions and tools of communication between people. Describing and presenting ourselves occur via social representations.

Representation, which is not special for an area of expertise and which can be seen almost at every field and which are shared by various people, both influence and constantly re-produce various activities of the persons, who share them. These people, who are readers of certain newspapers, customers of a store, frequenter of a café, a member of a religious society or a party, both nourish their social representation and use during their evaluation and mental activities in their daily life. Not only leaving it in their private individual life but because they are tools of evaluation and activity, they give rise to social and moral outcomes. Moscovici said: “A change in the social representations, which are the contents of our thoughts is important, because this can also change the world. The thoughts of people, in other words, the content of the thoughts have effects on the style of their thoughts.” (03)

The discussions around the so-called Armenian claims occur on the plan of social representation rather than the discussion of a thesis on a historical fact or a historical finding. (04-8) Because the object of the above mentioned representation is historical events, the demand for leaving the history to the historians seems like a logical offer, although the field where social representation was formed and the scene, in which it was committed, is not the world of the experts. Social representations enter the circuit at the very first chance as ready-to-use and easy diagrams by leaking everywhere, except for the controlled world of the scientists, at every space, between the lines, the covered fields of the subconscious. They replace a social fact or a historical reality. Since the representations are in the status of “a world that really exists”. Therefore people are writing history without considering that they are constructing a history, or re-writing history as they wish.

It sometimes shows itself in the brochures that are distributed around by a foreign diplomat, sometime at pure questions that is asked by a tourist or at intellectual discussions, sometimes at the resolutions of the European Union or a town council, sometimes at a TV program or a movie. Although when these things come out they step back by saying “It was a mistake”, “It was our carelessness” “In fact, we wished to say…” depending on the reaction shown, the social representation preserves its existence.

When an issue turns into a social representation, a situation, which is extremely difficult to change, emerges. We have attacked attentions to the fact that these come into existence as pieces of mosaics that originate from various information sources. Since the source and starting point of the process cannot be identified clearly, they deal with its result and unfortunately, there is no suitable instrument for struggling against it.

Let’s think of a typical individual of Western societies. They are not different from the ordinary people of our society; a person, who is not interested in every problem and who does not beat his brain on the problem. He reads news in the newspaper or distributes an announcement at a street or listens to news at the radio or watches a scene on the TV or somebody is commenting while his friends are having a chat. Let’s suppose that all of them talk to him about the so-called Armenian genocide. This issue is a subject, which he does not know anything about (or little does he know about). What will he do? He does not wish to beat his brain on the problem and he classifies this information to a folder in his head. Whenever he receives similar information, he perceives it in the light of the scheme at the existing folder. Therefore, an Armenian image is an image of a victim, oppressed, mistreated etc. On the contrary; an image of a Turk is cruel, unfair, merciless etc. Moreover, because of the humane tendency which is called as basic reference mistake, all the things that are made against the Armenians are attributed to the dispositional particularities of Turks and neither the circumstances nor the things that are done by the target person are considered.

This kind of socio-physiological findings can make us understand the thoughts of the people at the Western societies and in this connection, how does the public opinion come out. The main point that should be dwelled upon on how the public opinion comes out is the representations and motivations of the ordinary people in these countries towards the things that occur outside the Western world. Generally, the relation of the Western people with the world outside themselves can be as a result of the guidance of the various influence mechanisms of the public opinion. The attempts of the national governments for guiding the public opinion to think in their parallel in order to legitimate their policy in front of public, is an understandable occurrence. A second reason can be well-intentioned attempts of the international decision mechanisms for making the World a better place to live or a more convenient place to coexist with the aim of promoting of some certain values (like democracy and human rights). Nevertheless, although these things are important, they are not sufficient.

As it was put forward by the social psychologists, who study on social conscious, although people believe in the contrary, they think on the mental representation of the world, not on the world. The world we discuss, talk upon is the world of our perception, images and representations. Therefore, although we exist in the same world, we live on different psycho-social universes. A same situation can be perceived and represented differently by various people. These influence our attitude on the situation. As a result, the differences of the people, who write and talk over ”the same things on the issue” can not be perceived with the criteria of right or wrong. It would be more convenient to evaluate these differences by taking the social representations into account, in other words, the formation and the functions of the representations.

Social Usage of the Claims

How can the attention of the Western people to the world outside himself and tendency for sharing the so-called Armenian claims be evaluated? It seems unrealistic at first sight that an ordinary Western individual, whose life passes among metro-work-sleep triangle, who has relatively less concerns on future, who tries to have pleasant time in his spare time, who loves to have fun and eat, who does not read much or is contented with turning the pages of a newspaper casually, whose intellectual interest is weak, in other words, an ordinary person, who we closely know the similar versions in our society (For instance; a person, who we situate in a triangle of pajamas-sleepers-television) may show interest at the fate of African or Asian people.

When the so-called Armenian claims become widespread at the form of social representation, they have some practical functions. I would like to attract attentions to certain points by taking up the issue from the Western world’s point of view, where the social representation is nourished mostly. Some of them are related with - structure of the human being, some with the general tendencies and some with the target groups...

The first comment comes from the field of communications. As it is known, news on disasters, murders, accidents, poverties takes place on the mass media. All points to the same outcome from the psycho-social angle. People like to read or see the bad things that happen to the other people. Putting the negativity of the others on the shop window ensures some kind of a relieve. What can be more relieving than seeing ourselves at the good side or a good role when the evilness in this world, is the traces of the others. The second step of this determination is finding a subject or preferably a bad subject. Since the evilness, which does not have a subject, would be the traces of blind forces and irrational powers in the world, it would be meaningless to feel safe in this world. There is no place for negativity, which is caused by the powers contrary the will of mankind, in other words, situational factors, and coincidental evilness at the process diagram of the world, which is chipped according to us. The most suitable subjects to this diagram which demands a guilty, who is not one of us, are the bad foreigners.

The second comment is related with the topic of “Nausea” by Sartre. The ones, who have committed sin in their past in one way or the other, strongly need to relieve their conscience. This humane sentiment is an expression of a rooted tendency, which has been connected to a ritual practice by all the religions. Almost every religion has developed a method of atonement for the sins that are committed. Method for conscience relieving is either based on paying a price or putting an opposite act forward like being more religious, more benevolent, more patriotic, being a better defender of human rights etc. This second comment, is valid both for the governments of the former colonist countries and for their citizens.

The third comment, is related with administrations more than people, and is based on the strategy of preserving a certain kind of order at the society and an integrity at a group by finding a scapegoat. The top examples of this strategy are the creation of scapegoats during the years, when plague disease occurred at medieval ages or during 1930’s by Nazis.

Throughout the history, the effort for seeking a scapegoat, which would ensure getting out of a crisis by sacrificing a victim by various societies, had never exposed itself with its gross nakedness during the moment it appeared, and it always showed itself in a legitimate shape. At a time when most of the world was suffering hunger and poverty, the interference of the Western countries to the other countries, which always resulted with consolidating their own superior position, is outlined on the ground of democracy, human rights and cultural rights. These kinds of activities may also posses a strategic meaning.

As a matter of fact, during the period of discovering of new continents and colonization, soldiers and merchants went through the way that was opened by the Christian missionaries, who were spread out to the new continents for introducing the message of the God, and they had colonized these places. Furthermore, it is possible that the globalization process, which is being experienced currently, may target all countries, except for the West, to become dependent.

The targeted countries, which are chosen as scapegoats, are always the countries, whose retaliation capability is weak. However, the past faults and defects of these targeted countries, seems in much smaller dimensions comparing to the things that were done by the judging countries, as at the story of “Plagued Animal” by La Fontaine. On the bases of individual plans, this strategy results with more or less content of the people of the Western countries on their own situation, country and the administration.

The fourth answer is related with the construction of a collective ethnical identity by means of creating an “enemy” and “the others” by the Armenian Diaspora or a kind of masked Turkish hostility which can be called as Turk-phobia that is revived from time to time at European countries and some parts of the world.

1. S.Moscovici, “La Nouvelle Pensee magique”, in Nouvelles Voies en Psychologie Sociale, Bulletin de Psychlogie, Volume XLV, n.405, (1992), p.301-324
2. R.E.Nisbett ve L.Ross, Human Inference: Strategies and Short Comings of Social Judgement, (Englewood Cliffs(N.J.), Prentice Hall, 1980)
3. S.Moscovici: “Presentation”, age, p.142

Source: Prof.Dr.Nuri Bilgin-Ege University the President for Turkish-Armenian Relations Group (TERI.G) - Turkish-Armenian Conflict Articles-Grand National Assembly of Turkey

www.soykirimgercegi.com


Armenia: Idea Of "Genocide" As A Brand And Opium For People
24 April 2008, Today Az
The issue of responsibility of Osman empire for the so-called termination of Armenian population has once been considered in court.

This was in the 1920s when Malta tribunal to judge Osman officials for crimes against Armenians was convened by initiative of Great Britain.

The most curious was that English appointed Armenian scientist Khang Khazaryan the head of the expert group, empowered to confirm the arguments of prosecution. He was instructed to study carefully the archives of the Osman empire, Great Britain and the United States for the due materials.

Yet, Khazaryan and his assistants failed to reveal any proves that would evidence that Osman officials ever sanctioned or encouraged murders of Armenians. In the end, the British prosecutor general passed the verdict of not guilty and freed 144 detainees after two years and four months of imprisonment.

It seems that the issue should have been put an end to. Yet this did not occur. Armenians again armed with well-checked methods of blackmail and terror. The political murders of former officials of the Osman empire and Azerbaijan People's Republic, committed by terrorists of the Dashnaktsutsun party fall on the 1920s.

Within 50 years after that the world endured a new wave of violence committed by Armenian terror organizations. Not only Turks, but also Jews, Russia, French, Americans and representatives of other nationalities fell victims of this terror. This have not put Armenians closer to recognition of the so-called genocide, but only antagonized the world against them.

In the end, then working US President R.Reigan said following the next criminal action of Armenian terrorists on July 28 of 1883; "Neither real nor false resentment may justify the terrors of these days. On behalf of people and government of the United States, I voice my deep condolence to the Turkish government and families of innocent victims. But just a condolence would not do. This senseless violence should be stopped. I will speak with other leaders of the countries regarding urgent and more coordinated measures to terminate such brutal and inhuman actions from a civilian community"

Along with the terror activity Armenians carried out intensive propaganda, aimed at recognition of the so-called genocide. Uruguay was the first to fall for the bait (1965) and by 2008 the number of countries, believing in the Armenian interpretation of the events, which occurred 90 years ago, reached 20.

On the whole, due to the rapid development of mas media the idea of "genocide of Armenians" changed so much that it now resemble a kind of Jegregor-a structure, which has its own energy and subdue new and new areas. According to specialists in Jegregorology, the number of supporters is one of the crucial factors of Jegregor's power, as a structure, influencing the processes in the surrounding world. In turn, Jegregor gives support and power and self-confidence to people. And, indeed, the idea of "genocide of Armenians", the propaganda campaign in its favor, give power to Armenians by playing a role of a consolidating factor and at the same time being a means of self-identification for Armenians.

American professor Jirire Libaridian noted analyzing the problem that the fear of the Armenian diaspora for assimilation "obliged its representative to find anchors, which would prove their national identity. Thus, the combat with recognition of genocide has turned into an arranging enterprise and uniting principle. It unites the past and future: future consists of recognition of the past. Present is just a moment of struggle". At the same time, at any stage the struggle turns into an all-absorbing process, when it is not clear what you are struggling for and against whom. In the end, Armenians start to fight against each other, which we currently observe in Armenia, where a front of combat against the Karabakh clan is initiated under the slogan of fight till the end.

By the way, for Armenian authorities the myth of genocide is a suitable propaganda slogan, allowing to pass the buck of public resentment to an external enemy and have an unlimited access to Diaspora's reserves outside Armenia. According to Armenian opposition activist Armen Grigoryan, official Yerevan "shares view of most Diaspora Armenians according to which recognition of genocide is more important than diplomatic relations with Turkey and opening of borders which would allow Armenia to make effective use of ways of communications with the European and Near Eastern countries". This is profitable for the ruling elite, as "the recognition of genocide as an urgent task of external policy is a good bait, ensuring support of the Diaspora to the non-democratic internal policy".

It should be reminded that idea of "genocide of Armenians" has turned into a kind of political brand, offered to interested countries on the external market. The political brand science has become a separate trend in political science. In line with it, external policy of countries is nothing but attraction of attention to the country by means of different political brands. According to Lyaporov, these brands become a kind of state ideas, used "as a key message to the external world". The scientist presents most significant brand countries, including the idea of the United States-American Dream, Great Britain -Cool Britannia, Italy-Dolche Vita, Germany-Vorsprung durch Technik, Switzerland-Keeping Privacy. Continuing this list and applying it to Armenia, we will have: current idea of Armenia-Armenian Genocide. This is what Armenia offers to purchase. As a rule, this product (in a form of adoption of any political decision) is purchased by the states which have definite, unfriendly plans towards Turkey. The fact that this product is false is a secondary issue for a customer.

It is curious that Armenian authors personally speak about Armenians' striving to manipulate the historical facts. According to political scientist Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan "Armenians love their own history, reread it with admiration, focusing on the most terrible pages of national disasters. They admire tragedies and disasters, being proud of managing to survive. False, immature patriotism makes Armenians exaggerate the sufferings of their people and increase the number of victims of any disasters".

In his research "Virtual Passions", professor Rovshan Mustafayev states that the idea of Armenian genocide has recently become virtual, when "figures lose common sense, as their main argument. In conditions of expansion of virtual reality, this idea "flies along the halls of representatives of democracy, is widely voiced in the press, encourages creation of a network of lobby organizations", but "even in the flight it is not a sign bird, by whose help Arabians and ancient Romans tried to predict their fate".

The presence of countries who were historical enemies of Turkey and who consider the said concept as a working tool of their own policy towards Ankara, on the list of states, recognizing the "genocide of Armenians" is as obvious as the fact that due decisions of any parliaments are more politically motivated than historically substantiated. On the whole, as Russian political scientist Heydar Jemal says "myths of genocide is a strongest weapon of the international liberal club, promoting organization of politically correct zombieing of "the silent majority".

The problem of Armenians is that the myths, they create, will finally blast as a soap bubble, giving the sack to those who believed in this tales. The awareness is already coming. Voices of those, who tried to wake their compatriots, are already heard in Armenia. At one of the conferences in Yerevan, where public figures of the three South Caucasus countries, young Armenian writer Luisa Pogosyan voiced interesting ideas on the aforementioned subject: "Myths on genocide, we were feeding on in the Soviet times for many years, have transformed into a doomed idea of eternal animosity between Armenians and Turks as well as Azerbaijanis. The process of genocide recognition, process of condemning crimes against humanity, I think, has transformed into a complex of our exclusiveness and supremacy over the whole world. This is the disease, which hinder us from correct perception of reality and moving forward". If such opinions have emerged, there is a hope that era of awareness will start in Armenia, which will have a positive impact on the political atmosphere in the region.


RA President Awards Persons Promoting Armenian Genocide Recognition
24 April 2008, Panarmenian
Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan signed Tuesday a decree on decoration of persons contributing to recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the RA leader’s press office reported.

Yuri Barseghov (Russia) for his book “The Armenian Genocide: Turkey’s Responsibility and International Community’s Commitments” and Yves Ternon (France) for significant scientific contribution to the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide will be conferred the 2007 awards.

Roger Smith (U.S.) will be decorated with Movses Khorenatsi order.


What Happened On April 24" Discussion In Istanbul (H. Chaqrian)
23 April 2008, AZG
Head of "Komitas" institute, London, taking part in the event Each year on April 21 the Armenian people commemorate the victims of the Genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

Mourning events are being organized in the US, France, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, the Arabic and Latin American states and Iran. Poland, Georgia and, according to "Milliet" columnist Semihj Idiz, Israel.

In short, each year the number of the states remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide is growing. More and more statesmen, political and social figures from different countries are taking part in events dedicated to the one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.

Expert of the Armenian Researches Institute of Ankara Yildiz Deveci invites the public attention to this fact in the Institute's April 21 bulletin and notes that the week-long events in Moscow are organized by the Union of Armenian Russians, and the events in California are announced by Governor Schwarzenegger himself.

Yildiz Deveci also makes comments about the "What Happened on April 24" discussion, organized on the same day in Istanbul. Before analyzing the comments of Deveci, let us inform that the discussion is organized by the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Union. Head of the "Komitas" institute Ara Sarafian (London) was invited and took part in the event. He is to make a report about the reason why the Armenians consider April 24 the beginning of the massacres.

Although the number of the attendants of the discussion is rather small, Human Rights Defender Ragip Zarakolu is included among the rapporteurs. His report is entitled "April 24 - the Beginning of Elimination of the Intellectuals". Another Rapporteur, ex-director of the Human Rights Union Ereb Keskin is entitled "April 24, 1915 in Human Rights Aspect".

More information shall still be provided about the discussion in Istanbul. In conclusion let us mark that Armenian Researches Institute Yildiz Deveci is sure that Turkey, having organized such a discussion, is unconsciously joining the long list of states, which commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Deveci concludes that such events may result in growing support in Turkey for the "Armenians' claims about genocide" .


Ataa Speaks On Turkish American Advocacy, Voices Concern On Armenian Terrorism And Hate Crimes
18 April 2008, Turkish Press
Justin Paul's article in the Turkish Daily News, "Turks need a calmer approach to counter Armenian claims," (April 1, 2008) was a welcomed critique by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), but can benefit from some corrections and depth, as well as mention of some "calm" strategies the ATAA is implementing.

First, it should be noted that the ATAA is not a lobby, i.e., it does not support or oppose specific legislation or political candidates. ATAA, run and operated by dedicated volunteers, is a non-profit organization which provides education on issues that effect U.S.-Turkish relations. We hope that by bringing balance to the debate, Americans will make educated decisions that strengthen and promote U.S.-Turkish relations.

The ATAA practices assertive and calm education and advocacy, taking Jewish American non-profits as a model. During the debate on the Armenian Resolution, last October, the ATAA convened all Washington Turkish American organizations, both secular and faith-based, visited all 437 Congressional offices, and explained why the events of 1915 do not constitute genocide, why a legislature should not sit in the seat of prosecutor and judge, and why the United States must treat Turkey fairly and justly.

Regarding Taner Akcam's, "A Shameful Act," the ATAA researched and published a scholarly critique that is downloadable at www.ataa.org. Turkish Americans provide the critiques to libraries, scholars and local leaders nationwide.

To protect freedom of speech, the ATAA joined a civil rights lawsuit against the State of Massachusetts whose school curriculum guide censors the work of scholars who disagree with the Armenian allegation of genocide.

Paul writes that it is a misrepresentation to state that terrorism by the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) continues to the present. But, modern terrorism is far more than physical attacks; it is creation of a mental and emotional state of fear. Following over 230 attacks the killed more than 70 and injured more than 700, in 2001 ASALA started to reorganize and issue threats.

And, as recently as 2001, weapons, ammunition and explosives connected to the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide (JCAG) were discovered in a storage facility near Cleveland. In January 2001, Mourad Topalian, former JCAG leader and Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) was connected to the storage facility and at least four terror attacks, and convicted of weapons and explosives charges. To make sure that he received the maximum sentence for his crimes, the ATAA submitted to the federal court a Victims Impact Statement, also downloadable at www.ataa.org.

As Armenian American groups such as the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) have refused to condemn Armenian terrorism, and have even honored Armenian terrorists, unfortunately hate crimes and racial threats against Turkish Americans have increased. The ATAA now keeps an archive of affidavits of victims of Armenian terrorism, hate crimes and hate speech.

In the end, we must keep in mind the human context. When Jewish Americans are attacked as aggressively as Turkish Americans are attacked by Armenian activists, they characterize the offense as anti-semitic. Similarly, Turkish Americans feel the racism and suffer emotional distress. Turkish Americans express their anger, fear and distress in many ways, some of which are not "calm," but all of which are protected under freedom of speech, though not perfectly persuasive.

For this reason, ATAA President Nurten Ural commenced the Gaining Power through Grassroots Advocacy program by which ATAA is visiting over 40 local Turkish American organizations and hundreds of Turkish Americans nationwide, to help Turkish Americans channel their energy toward more productive advocacy. And, it seems to be working, as the Armenian media recently recognized that the Turkish American community in Washington has become a "more formidable rival."
Gunay Evinch, ATAA President-Elect, US Fulbright Scholar in International Law


New Armenian Government And Turkey by Omer Engin LUTEM
24 April 2008, ERAREN
The prospective foreign policy of the new Armenian government towards Turkey is not totally clear yet. However, it can be concluded that there will not be a major change, at least in principle. Because the new major decision makers are not new actors. The current President Sarkisyan had taken part in all the governments of Kocharian period; the new Prime Minister had contributed to the policy-formation of the former governments particularly in the economic field. Finally, the new Foreign Minister had served as the Armenian Ambassador to Paris during the tenure of former governments. The irreconcilable policies of Kocharian had impeded the development of Turkish-Armenian relations as well as Armenian-Azeri relations and this resulted in Armenian isolation in the Southern Caucasus. Therefore, it is for the interest of the new government to follow policies of reconciliation despite the possible reaction of the nationalist circles.

There are three major questions between Turkey and Armenia:

First question is the recognition of the non-violability of the borders, in other words, the recognition of territorial integrity. Without such recognition, it is impossible to establish relations between neighboring countries on the basis of mutual confidence. Due to the ‘Greater Armenia’ dreams, which have still been present in the mindset of the majority of the Armenians, Armenian governments refrained from this recognition for the last sixteen years after independence. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Oskanyan has sometimes tried to distract reactions to declare verbally that the Treaty of Kars is still valid; however this is not sufficient. Two countries had to declare clearly that they recognized territorial integrity of each other with an official document.

The second question is the genocide allegations. Unlike the presidency of Ter-Petrosyan, the governments established in the presidency of Kocharian stated international recognition of genocide allegations as a major item in their foreign policy agendas. In reality, Armenian diplomacy has showed intense efforts through hoping that in case of an increase in the recognition of the genocide allegations Turkey would accept them as well and this would result in payment of compensation and realization of some Armenian territorial demands. However, just the opposite has happened, and increasing international recognition of the genocide allegations resulted in a more determinate Turkish attitude in this respect. Determination of what had happened in 1915 is the business of scholars not parliaments. Turkish offer of the establishment of a joint commission of historians, which has been appreciated more and more, provides the most fertile ground for handling this question. Meanwhile, if Tigran Sarkisyan’s government program, which will be declared in a few days, will not include the issue of international recognition of genocide allegations, this will create a positive atmosphere in Turkey towards Armenia.

The third question is the Karabagh Question. Armenia wanted Turkey to take an objective stance in this matter; however, this is not a realistic attitude because of intimate relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The resolution of the Karabagh question is not only important for Armenia and Azerbaijan but also for the security of the Southern Caucasus; therefore it is quite urgent. On the other hand, it should be considered that the resolution of this question will ultimately lead to opening of land borders between Turkey and Armenia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan sent a message to the new Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edvard Nalbandyan and congratulated him. He further stated that Turkey wants to normalize her relations with Armenia and is open to dialogue for that purpose. In other words, Turkey once more showed her good intentions towards Armenia.

Establishment of a new government in Armenia and Turkish declaration of being open for dialogue creates a favorable atmosphere for initiating serious negotiations.


No Bases For Dialogue, Gevorg Harutyunyan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, April 24, 2008, Armenia
Political Secretary of "Dashink" party, which was liquidated and later joined "Ramkavar" party, Andranik Tevanyan, is the interlocutor of "Hayots Ashkharh" daily.

"At the moment society is so tensed that even impartial evaluations and actual realities are perceived subjectively. It is very difficult to express any idea. I assess our internal political and economic situation as close to critical. The pre-election and post-election events didn't create and atmosphere of solidarity, on the contrary they arouse social polarization.

To understand the reason of the tension created in our country after each election on the state level and especially presidential elections, we must realize how we usually come to power, handover power and maintain power in Armenia. Because in our country we still lack the democratic mechanisms of these processes, it is impossible to provide people's participation in the before mentioned processes. The thing is, when we made a transition to the free market economy, from soviet rule, the system of the private ownership was formed in the wrong way and immediately appeared in the legal crises, which still continues.

This is the reason why, in parallel with the political developments, processes of the re-distribution of ownership take place, or at least is expected. Certain business structures in this condition are usually subject to pressures, because the right to ownership is not protected institutionally.

In the system of the combination of authority and ownership, the authorities usually try to maintain their informal rent on the ownership. During the elections the authorities are guided by the principle "everything or nothing" and the pro-oppositional parties appear in the status "now or never".

"And what is the solution?"

"In Armenia the struggle for power has turned into a life and death struggle. If the ruling government has to handover power, they can't have any guarantees that their personal and ownership security will be provided. The consequence is the crises following each election process.

Today we speak too much about the radical opposition. In my view it is the ruling power that is radical in our country. They will never handover power.

The only way out is the decentralization of the ruling power, the formation of an open ruling system. Until we have competitive political relations, we can't expect that the elections will lead to social solidarity."

"But it was the representatives and the observers of the same international organizations that assessed our presidential elections as "unprecedentedly competitive" and the crises arose after one of the candidates declared himself a President and didn't respond to the proposals for dialogue."

"I don't think any dialogue is possible between the ruling power and the candidate that declared himself a President. Actually there are no bases for dialogue. Ter-Petrosyan continuously states by the press supporting him that he intends to "struggle to the end". For them dialogue means: either taking the power or holding new elections. The ruling power won't agree to any of them. In such circumstances dialogue is impossible.

Even if we imagine that Levon Ter-Petrosyan accepted the proposal for dialogue, for this or that reason, those against the authorities, won't agree to this decision. The only way to mitigate the existing tension is to make radical reforms.

The forthcoming local self-governmental elections in my view will turn into the centers of small and big tensions. I don't think there will be a political rivalry.

All this needs to be changed. Painful reforms are what we need in reality.


Ruben Safrastian Notes Expediency Of Transfering Genocide Recognition Issue From Political To Legal Plane
YEREVAN, APRIL 26, NOYAN TAPAN. Considerable research is needed to transfer the issue of recognition of the Armenian Genocide from the political to a legal plane, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the RA National Academy of Sciences, turkologist, candidate of historical science Ruben Safrastian said during a meeting with reporters.

Accoridng to him, scientists and lawyers from Armenia and the Diaspora, as well as foreign experts should be involved in the development of legal documents based on examination of a great number of hsitorical facts.

R. Safrastian drew attention of reporters to the fact that the possible outcome of applying to the Hague Tribunal has not so far been explored neither in Armenia nor in the Diaspora. In his words, while carrying out research work, it is also necessary to decide whether the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian Diaspora and several Diasporan organizations will apply to the Hague Tribunal. He urged to take a serious approach to preparation of legal documents, taking a number of factors into account, such as the role and authority of Turkey in the region, its resources, and the fact that Turkey has struggled against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for decades.

Safrastian underlined the necessity of the youth's active participation in the process of the Genocide's recognition. In his words, this process is directed not to the past, as some young people believe, but to the future: "Genocide is a mass violation of rights of a group of people so participation in the struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide will create an opportunity for our country to play a leading role in the struggle against genocides," he said. According to him, the Turkish side too is currently examining the expediency of transfering the Genocide issue to the legal plane. However, the aspirations of the Armenian and Turkish sides to transfer the issue to a legal plane differ markedly: Armenia wants to create conditions for receiving compensation (territorial, material or moral), while Turkey strives to stop the recognition process.

The scientist also paid attention to the fact that today the European Union has increased its pressure on Turkey in connection with discussion of the issue of Turkey's joining the EU, which has opened an opportunity for Armenia to get concessions from Turkey in a number of issues.


Armenian Ombudsman Alarmed By Human Rights Situation Interfax News Agency, Russia, April 25 2008
Armenia's ombudsman Armen Arutyunian has published a special report on the February 19 presidential election and on subsequent developments in Armenia.

Arutyunian said, while presenting his report at a news conference, that the presidential election and the events that followed had a strong impact on the human rights situation in Armenia.

"A system has formed which divides the country into "us" and "the rest", while the proclaimed democratic principles of forming power are in fact fake, he said. "Legal political struggle has thus been restricted," he also said.

The new president and the governing coalition have inherited a grave legacy from the previous leadership, Arutyunian said. "We would rather do without this legacy. But if it's there, we must look for ways out," he said.


"Secret Of Success Of Armenians' Propaganda Is Simple: They Speak Of 1915 "Genocide" Constantly, Every Day"
24 April 2008 - Today.Az
Day.Az interview with chief executive of USAN project Adil Baghirov.

-World Armenians mark the anniversary of what they call "the genocide" of 1915 on April 24. How do US Armenians prepare for this event within a year?

-You are right. Indeed throughout the whole year Armenians focus on preparations for the day of 1915 "genocide". The Armenian diaspora arranges numerous street rallies and protests on this day in the United States, in particular, in front of the Turkish embassy to the United States in Washington, in front of the Turkey's Consulate in Los-Angeles.

Moreover, on this day films are transmitted by US TV channels about the Armenian version of the 1915 events in Osman Turkey, articles are published on this topic both in the Armenian US press as well as the overall US press, lectures and presentations are arranged with leaflets issued on this topic in various universities of the United States.

Considering the strong Armenian diaspora in the United States, the effect of actions on this day is very strong, considering that such propaganda actions have been carried out by the Armenian diaspora beginning from the 1960s.

- Is it possible to say that in the result of work carried out by the Armenian diapora, an average American has fully agreed with the Armenian version of the 1915 events?

-I would like to say that in fact an average American has no idea of the details of the events, which occured in Osman Turkey nearly a century ago. Though, we should confess, that when Armenia and "genocide" is spoken of in the United States, this "genocide" is regarded as one that had taken place in real. The secret of success of this propaganda is simple: Armenians speak of "genocide" every day.

In particular, one of the leaders of Armenian diaspora in California told me in the 1990s that the "genocide" of 1915 is a subject, Armenians discuss during breakfact, lunch and dinner.

Practice shows that nothing of the kind is observed in case of the Azerbaijani and Turkish diaspora groups of the United States. We prefer to focus on positive not tragic events of the history of our people. But practice shows that people, in particular, in the United States attach special importance to tragic events. In the result, the announcements about tragic events and their analysis affects the society. Perhaps, this is the reason of success of Armenian lobby in imposing their version of the 1915 events on the US society.

Naturally, we have made conclusions from what we have and we work to neutralize the success of Armenian diaspora in this direction.

-Is there a hope that consolidating Azerbaijani diaspora of the United States will manage to neutralize the effect of such propaganda actions of the Armenian diaspora and attain similar influence in the United States?

-You were right to mention that the Azerbaijani diaspora of the United States is consolidating. Being in constant contact and cooperation with the Turkish diaspora and diaspora groups of other countries in the United States, our diaspora becomes stronger, more informed and prepared.

Yes, we conduct numerous arrangements, expand field of our activity, but we should not forget that Armenians have carried out such work for already 50 years, while Azerbaijani and Turkish Diaspora groups started to work in this direction in the early 1990s and intensified their activity only in the late 1990s. In other words, Armenians have an advantage in the sense of propaganda.

Despite this and despite the numeral superiority of the US Armenian diaspora before the Azerbaijani and Turkish diaspora groups, the facts, demonstrating the real success of our diaspora groups, do exist at the moment. These achievements should be considered in the context of strengthening positions of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the world. And I am sure that this will have a positive effect. However, this might not occur in a couple of years. We should work much to neutralize the results of long activity of the Armenian diaspora in the United States and to turn the balance in our favor.

-The example of the work of your organization demonstrates the achievements, people loving Azerbaijan and living beyond its bounds, can reach. In this connection, a question arises about the need for such organization of the State Committee for work with Azerbaijanis, residing abroad.

To answer this question it is necessary to take a trip to a recent past. I think, the overall success of the Azerbaijani diaspora and its achievements in resistance to Armenian diaspora grew after the committee was founded. Moreover, it should be noted that each country has its own pecularities. In particular, for the CIS countries, such state committees and active role of the state in strengthening positions of compatriots are crucial.

As for the United States, it is sometimes not impossible to reach success there, as the United States is a large, multinational, multi-religious country, where a diaspora, in this case, the Azerbaijani diaspora should reckon on its own powers to strengthen positions. Our diaspora has recently managed to establish ways of work with the US community, ways of strengthening our own positions, informing Americans about our interpretation of the events, which occured in the modern history of Azerbaijan.

In other words, in a number of moments, the role of the Azerbaijani state can not rival the role of Azerbaijanis, residing in the United States, as to informing the Americans about any events in our modern history or in the history, which Armenian diaspora of the United States tries to interpret differently.

Therefore, we have no other way out except for basing on our own powers and work in favor of both Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis, residing in the United States.


Turkish Foreign Minister Says His Country Is Ready For Dialogue With Armenia
4/26/2008
ANKARA - Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Monday that Ankara was ready for dialogue with Yerevan to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia.

"Armenia now has a new government and I have sent a letter to the new Armenian counterpart expressing that Turkey is ready for dialogue in order to normalize its relations with Armenia," Babacan told a joint press meeting with his Austrian counterpart Ursula Plassnik in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

"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," he said.


Balakian Speaks For Sydney Armenian Genocide Commemoration Week
Armenian National Committee of Australia, 27 April, 2008
SYDNEY: As the keynote speaker and guest of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee, Professor Peter Balakian delivered four lectures in Sydney from 20-24 April.

On Sunday night, 20 April, before a crowd of about a thousand including various Members of Australian and New South Wales Parliament, Balakian gave the keynote address as part of a two-hour ceremony to commemorate the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Speaking about the significance of the Armenian Genocide for the twentieth century, Balakian discussed and analysed the importance of the event as a template for genocide to follow in the 20th century, emphasising that genocide in Germany, Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Darfur and other places could be better understood in light of how the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out.

On Monday, 21 April, Balakian spoke at the prestigious Sydney Institute directed by Gerard Henderson. In his lecture, he presented the Armenian Genocide as a landmark event in modern history and spoke about how the Turkish government's unprecedented campaign of denial has become an embarrassment to Turkey in the face of one of the best documented genocides in history. Balakian reflected on the importance of the Australian government's recent apology for its treatment of the Aboriginal peoples.

At the Shalom College of the University of New South Wales, Balakian spoke on Wednesday 23 April, along with a Holocaust survivor, Mr. Feldman and a Darfur survivor, Mr. Mansoul about genocide in the twentieth century and the lessons of the Armenian Genocide. The lecture was sponsored by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the Darfur Australian Network.

For Thursday 24th April, Balakian delivered the keynote address at the Parliament of New South Wales. In a moving ceremony that preceded the event, a wreath was laid by the young daughter of a Darfur survivor and by Mr. Badelian, the oldest Armenian Genocide survivor in Sydney at the site of the Genocide memorial on the grounds of the Parliament. In his address, Balakian focused on the lessons of the Armenian Genocide and the problems that arise when massive human rights crimes are committed with impunity. He focused on the impact of the Turkish denial on the Armenian community and on Turkey, noting that Turkey is further alienating itself from the modern world by its refusal to own up to its history.

Balakian also noted the exemplary statement made by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in apology for the Australian treatment of the Aborigines.

"It's a statement that sets a high standard for all the nations of the world as they seek to come to terms with dark chapters of their pasts," he said, adding that Prime Minister Rudd's emphasis on Australia's need to "deal with unfinished business", and the "need to face the pain of past injustice", was essential for a nation to "turn the page and move forward". Balakian suggested that Australia might be the kind of nation that would see ethical meaning in acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

Balakian closed by thanking the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee for their extraordinary work in planning the complex events of the week, and for their grace and warmth and their many talents as a cultural community.

"Professor Balakian has raised the profile of the Armenian Genocide amongst the wider Australian community," said Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee Representative, Stephen Abolakian. "As a result of Balakian's visit, progress toward affirmation of the Armenian Genocide by the Government of Australia has gained greater momentum."

On Friday, Balakian headed to Melbourne for another week of lectures and for the Australian Poetry Festival.

MEDIA COVERAGE
The following Australian news agencies covered April's Armenian Genocide
Commemoration:
- ABC Radio National
- ABC Radio Sydney
- ABC Newsradio
- ABC Television
- SBS Radio
- The Australian
- The Daily Telegraph
- The Age
- Southern Courier
- North Shore Times

During the last days of the Ottoman Empire, the government implemented a policy of Genocide upon its Christian Armenian population. As a result, up to 1.5million Armenian men, women and children lost their lives between 1915 and 1922. The Armenian Genocide is yet to be recognised by the Government of Turkey.


Turkish Historian: `No Genocide Was Committed On April 24, Only 556 Armenian Terrorists Were Arrested'
April 26 2008, 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.


'Diaspora Harms People Of Armenia' Gaziantep Haber 27, Turkey, April 26 2008
A Turkish member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) said Saturday people of Armenia were aware that the diaspora harmed them

A Turkish member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) said Saturday the people and administrators of Armenia were aware that the diaspora harmed them.

Eyup Fatsa, an MP from northern province of Ordu and a member of the Turkish Group in PABSEC, talked to AA on his trip to Yerevan between April 16th and 18th where he attended a meeting of the PABSEC's Political Committee and titled "Terrorism".

"I was concerned that the Armenians may bring up the issue of 1915 incidents and cause tension on the topic of terrorism. Yet the Armenians displayed warm hospitality and acted sincerely. They did not bring up issues on which we were concerned," Fatsa said.

"Armenian MPs who were our hosts gave us tours in the country. We attended luncheons and dinners hosted by the PABSEC Armenian Group chairman and deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament," Fatsa said.

"I have informed the Armenians that there are certain issues between Turkey and Armenia. The two countries are very close to each other. The distance between Yerevan and Turkish Igdir province is only 27 kilometers. We must find political solutions to political matters and leave historical issues to historians," Fatsa noted.

"Armenian politicians request that the border gate with Turkey get opened," Fatsa said.

"Despite all the problems, the trade volume between Turkey and Armenia has reached 180 million USD," Fatsa said.

"Armenian people and politicians indicate that the development of relations between Armenia and Turkey are to the benefit of Armenia," Fatsa said.


Sydney's Armenian Community Commemorates the Armenian Genocide
The Sydney Armenian community came together on Sunday 20th of April 2008 for the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. The annual commemoration is organised by the three traditional Armenian Political Parties comprising of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and is supported by Sydney based Armenian religious, cultural, educational, media, benevolent and sporting organisations.

The key note speaker at this year's commemoration was New York Times Bestselling Author, Professor Peter Balakian who joined political figures, representatives and members of Sydney 's Armenian community in commemorating the 93rd anniversary of the Turkish campaign to annihilate the Armenian nation.

Represented at the commemoration were the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, as well as the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Dr. Brendan Nelson. Also represented at the commemoration were the Premier of New South Wales, the Honourable Morris Iemma and the Leader of the Opposition of New South Wales, Mr. Barry O'Farrell MP.

Professor 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) highlighted the critical role that the Armenian Genocide played as a precursor for other modern genocides.

The Armenian Genocide was used by infamous 20th century dictators including Adolf Hitler in planning and justifying the execution of the European Jews, Gypsies, communists and homosexuals during World War II.

Professor Balakian highlighted the shared history of Armenians and Australians which was fostered following the arrest of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals on April 24, 1915 in Istanbul Turkey , and the Gallipoli landing of the Anzacs on April 25, 1915 .

Balakian's address stressed the need for worldwide recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

In refuting Turkish claims that the events of 1915 was an example of the many tragedies that befell the people of the Ottoman Empire due to the prevailing war time conditions, Professor Balakian was able to present in a logical and systematic manner the events that prove that the Armenian Genocide was pre-conceived and highly organised centrally by the Turkish authorities.

Balakian stressed that besides being the first example of a modern genocide, what made the Armenian Genocide further unique was the use of technology by the Turkish authorities.

The telegram was extensively used to issue concise instructions to all regions of the Ottoman Empire on how to eradicate the Armenians.

And with all able men killed, cargo trains were used to transport the remaining Armenian population comprising of women, children and the elderly to established concentration camps in the Syrian Desert. These concentration camps condemned those that were transported there to certain death by hunger and disease.

Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian in his statement to the attendees said the days of sadness and sorrow have long past. Instead the Armenian people in both Armenia and the Diaspora are now in pursuit of justice and accountability.

While welcoming the growing number of countries, states, provinces and city councils who have officially acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian said what the Armenian people are seeking is the official acknowledgment of the crimes committed against the Armenian people by past Turkish authorities.

The Turkish acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide will prove to be the most meaningful to the Armenian people Archbishop Aghan Baliozian concluded, drawing a thunderous applause from the attendees.
Compiled by Hagop Tchamkertenian, Armenian Rights Council


Can Turkish-Armenian Relations Normalize? Sahin Alpay s.alpay@todayszaman.com
Armenia's new president, Serzh Sarkisian, on the occasion of the "Genocide Day" commemorated on April 24, said: "International recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide is an appropriate and inevitable part of Armenia's foreign policy agenda. The motherland of all Armenians, the Republic of Armenia, should redouble its efforts for the restoration of historic justice." The statement appeared to be a negative response to a recent letter sent by Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan to his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, stating that Turkey was open to dialogue to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations.

Then, on April 26, the prime ministers of Turkey and Armenia exchanged letters. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Tigran Sarkisian on his appointment as Armenian prime minister and expressed hope that "[In] the new stage, which started after the presidential elections of Feb. 19, 2008 in Armenia, certain steps can be taken in the process of the settlement of bilateral relations. In connection with this, I would like to stress that the proposals, presented to your side earlier, which according to us will facilitate the advancement of the process, remain valid." In his response, Sarkisian expressed his confidence that "by means of personal contacts we will be able to jointly assist [in] the solution of all the issues, which concern us. …" (from Armenian news agency Mediamax)

The exchange of letters between the prime ministers seems to signal new efforts to try to normalize relations between the two countries. This would certainly be a much-welcomed move in the interest of the two peoples. At this hopeful moment it seems proper to question whether stepped-up efforts by Armenia for the "international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian genocide" as advocated by President Sarkisian can help Turkey establish diplomatic relations and open the border with Armenia and eventually force Ankara to recognize the "Armenian genocide."

Let me first explain my position on the "Armenian genocide." I have deep-felt sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians who were punished collectively by deportation to the Syrian desert for the crimes of Armenian nationalists who sided with Russia against the Ottoman state during World War I and perished on the way due to killings by members of security forces and gangs, starvation and disease. I am, however, not convinced that the great tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians was a "genocide" ("the first genocide of the 20th century") that was "planned and carried out" by the Ottoman state. Nor are all historians that specialize in late Ottoman history convinced. The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire by revolts and wars did not, on the other hand, result only in the mass sufferings of the Armenians (and other Christians) but also of Muslim-Turkish subjects of that empire.

I strongly believe that the Turkish people have the right to know what really happened to their Armenian fellow countrymen during World War I. I also strongly believe that Turkey has to recognize the tragedy inflicted upon Armenian fellow countrymen by the Ottoman state it overthrew in 1923. I am, however, convinced that if the Turkish people and state are ever going to face the truth about what happened to the Ottoman Armenians, the issue has to be freely discussed and the people freely informed in Turkey. I believe that the "genocide" resolutions passed in various parliaments have not facilitated but hindered free debate in Turkey on the Armenian question and will continue to do so. Whatever progress has been made so far in lifting the veil over the Armenian question is the result of efforts by Turkish intellectuals who have dared to question official history.

My dear friend and colleague the late Hrant Dink's position on this question was clear: "Turkey's democratization is much more important than its recognition of the genocide. Only a country that is democratic can dare to deal with its history, discuss its problems and feel empathy. … It is only after they learn about the Armenian problem that the people can decide whether this was genocide or not. There is no meaning in a state or government recognizing the issue under pressure from the outside. Because those who need to see the truth are not states but peoples. … States have no conscience, but societies and peoples do." (Radikal, May 23, 2005.)
28.04.2008


Baku Calls Firing Of Azerbaijan And Turkish Flags As Brutality
Azerbaijan, Baku, 26 April / corr Trend News K.Ramazanova / Baku calls the firing of Azerbaijani and Turkish flags as brutality.
“These actions by Armenia show the world their true face,” Araz Azimov, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, told journalists in Baku on 26 April.

Azimov said that Azerbaijan follows the laws and does not intend to take similar steps. “We witnessed such actions in the past,” he said.

On 25 April the flags of Turkey and Azerbaijan were fired in Yerevan on 25 April during the ceremony dedicated to the victims of the so-called ‘Armenian genocide’.

Armenia accuses Ankara of genocide of 1,500 Armenians in 1915-1917 during the Ottoman Empire. There are not any diplomatic relations between Armenian and Turkey, whereas the Armenian- Turkish border was closed in 1993 at Ankara’s initiative.

Turkey rebuffs accusations by Armenia and confirms that during the inter-ethnic conflict, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century, many Muslim Turks were killed along with Christian Armenians. The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan offered to research the issue with the help of historical achieves of both countries, whilst Armenia did not favour it.Ankara’s principle position on the issue states that in 1915 Armenians were internally displaced due to political interests of Ottoman Empire and that cannot be considered as genocide against the nation.


Kardes Türküler Perform Eclectic Mix In Antalya
Folksong ensemble Kardes Türküler, famed for their diverse repertoire consisting of ethnic Anatolian folksongs in many languages including Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Azerbaijani, is scheduled for a concert this week in Antalya.

The ensemble, which has released six albums since they were formed in 1993, will take to the Antalya Open-air Theater stage on May 3 at 9 p.m. Tickets, priced at YTL 23, can be purchased at Biletix.com


A Coming Of Age And Of Solidarity by Murat Ersavci, Turkish Ambassador to Australia, Melbourne Age, The Australian, Canberra Times, April 25, 2008
IN LESS than another decade we will be marking the centenary of the conflict at Gallipoli. One hundred years is a significant time. The last survivors of those who fought on both sides have now gone to their rest. Yet each year during March and April, in Turkey and in Australia and New Zealand, ceremonies are still held to mark the anniversary of the various stages of the Gallipoli landing, and to mourn all the suffering and cruelty of war.

In all three countries there is strong public interest in the anniversary and commitment to ensuring that the annual commemoration continues. Even though the witnesses have gone, we see these past events as sharply as if we had experienced them ourselves.

There is the bitterness of a futile invasion which cost around half a million lives and blighted a generation. In several countries, including Australia and Turkey, there are untold numbers of families, including my own, who to this day mourn a young member killed at Gallipoli. World War I was a war in which it was extraordinarily painful to be a combatant: everyone knows of the mud of Flanders and the trenches, but the discomfort to both sides was at least as great at the Dardanelles, or Canakkale as we call it in Turkish.

For the Anzac troops who took part, it was also a meaningless conflict. Their lives were sacrificed in a cause which had little or no relevance to the countries they came from. Yet they still carried out their duties in a heroic spirit which has won the admiration of later generations.

For the Turkish people, it was the opposite. The struggle at Gallipoli was a matter of life or death. For the previous hundred years, Western powers had been trying to partition the Ottoman Empire and their designs upon it would have left little or no room for an independent Turkey. If the Gallipoli landings had succeeded, Turkey would quickly have lost its capital and control of the land and sea. It is pretty clear what would have followed such a disaster.

So it is perhaps less surprising that such a desperate national situation on the Turkish side gave rise to great heroism and saw the emergence of a remarkable military genius in Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the first divisional commander at Gallipoli, the future founder of the Turkish Republic and its first president. Who of us can remember his command to soldiers — "I order you to die" — without a shudder? Of course, in practice, millions of young men in World War I received exactly this order, but in the case of the soldiers at the Dardanelles they were not being asked to waste their lives. Without their sacrifice, and Mustafa Kemal's leadership, I think it is unlikely that we would have a Turkish Republic today.

So during this terrible and pointless conflict, all three countries discovered deep reserves of courage and heroism in their soldiers and came of age as countries.

Around 3000 years earlier, a few miles south of the area of the landings, on the other side of the Straits, the city of Troy witnessed a war that became an epic in human history with the same mixture of brutality, nobility, heroism, suffering, and wretchedness as the Gallipoli campaign.

Perhaps this epic heroism is the reason the Gallipoli campaign is one of those rare historical conflicts that brought reconciliation and a spirit of togetherness and peace in its aftermath. For as everyone knows, within a few years of the end of World War I in 1918, and the international recognition of the new Turkey with the 1924 Treaty of Lausanne, there was a remarkable new attitude on both sides to the Gallipoli campaign. A spirit of mutual respect and understanding has bound Turks and Australians ever since.

It is, I think, not just a matter of national pride, though that is undoubtedly part of the story. It is also a spirit of respect for the sacrifice that all those heroic young men made and a determination to show that later generations not only honour their memory but are determined to build a better world. And we do that by commemorating them together and sharing our pride and grief.

Things have been that way since at least the early 1930s when Ataturk urged the mothers of the fallen soldiers of Turkey's erstwhile enemies to wipe away their tears because "they have become the sons of this country". It is a familiar quotation, but I suspect it is one which wakens at least a little emotion in all of us, no matter how often we hear it.

Is all this relevant to today's world? Clearly it is. For a start, though we tend to overlook the fact, Gallipoli was a conflict between nations of different faiths. But the spirit of reconciliation, heroism and mutual respect with which we remember Gallipoli enables all involved to transcend a division which in other times and places has been deep and painful.

Second, Gallipoli means inspiration for international co-operation. I am very conscious of this because the various associations and groups in our countries that work together each year do so in a rare spirit of goodwill and mutual harmony.

Finally, like all epics, Gallipoli shows us how to be noble and good, qualities we do not hear too much about in our hyperactive, modern, market-driven societies.

So I am proud that the commemorations continue and that there is no sign that the Gallipoli spirit is flagging even though the veterans are no longer among us. Long may it continue to do so. Those 500,000 men died largely in vain, yet something immensely valuable was born as a result.

I salute the memory of all who fought on whatever side. May they rest in peace.


300 years of Ottoman melody: Sahakyan's Armenian Choir by Vercihan Ziflioğlu Turkish Daily News May 2, 2008
The Sahakyan Armenian A Cappela Choir, a 305-year-old institution performing hymns and classical Armenian folk songs as well as Western classical pieces, is the subject of a documentary by director Feza Sınar. Financially supported by Culture Ministry, the documentary will be showcased at Turkish and international film festivals next year

Founded a staggering 305 years ago, the Istanbul-based Sahakyan Armenian A Capella Choir recently became the subject of a documentary produced by director Feza Sınar.

Sınar's documentary brings the giant 170-member choir – 100 adults and 70 kids aged between 5 and 16 – to the silver screen and craftily displays rehearsals of the historic choir alongside behind-the-scenes episodes from the members' daily lives.

“The process of alienation we have been experiencing as subjects of this society has deeply affected me. It is nothing but unconsciousness that is the reason of this current situation we face,” Sınar said, referring to what prompted her to film this documentary.

Sevan Agoşyan, the choir's director, spoke about the significance of Sınar's work, saying that the production of a documentary, specifically with the support of Culture Ministry, that tells the story of their choir has made all members quite happy.

While Sınar spoke of her impressions of the centuries-old choir, Agoşyan spoke about its the past and present situation.

The documentary was funded by the Culture and Tourism Ministry. Shooting was comlpeted in March and the film will be showcased at Turkish as well as international film festivals next year.

Cameras become part of rehearsals and Sunday services

Research for the documentary began as early as 2006 because Sıran wanted to create a different kind of documentary.

“In fact, we had no certain topic in mind at first,” she said. But then, the team recalled how much the Sahakyan Choir that they listened to during Galata Festival held in 2005 had affected them.

Sınar then contacted the choir's director and asked for permission to carry out her project. After being granted special permission from Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, the team started shooting the documentary.

Throughout the filming Sınar and her team had the chance to attend choir rehearsals and other social activities of the choir, helping them film the documentary more accurately.

“Choir members often forgot that the cameras were on during the shooting,” said Sınar, noting that the uncomfortable feeling at the beginning later turned into a warm friendship between choir members and the documentary team.

Sınar said the music performed by the choir has great similarities with Turkish classical music as well as hymns sang in mosques.

Gospel choir, a 2,000-year-long tradition

“It is quite important for the Sahakyan A Capella Choir to express itself and to feel that it is also a part of this society,” said Sınar.

Referring to a conversation between her and Agoşyan, Sınar said that “due to the ASALA terrorist group in the 1970s, some of Agoşyan's Turkish friends had cut off their connection with him even though they were his closest friends.”

Agoşyan said he and his choir initially thought that the idea of having a documentary filmed about the choir was a little strange.

“Rehearsals require great discipline and concentration. But there would be people around us who try to conduct shootings. At first, this made me a bit uncomfortable.”

He added that the cameras and the documentary team became a part of the choir and they developed an intimate relationship.

Agoşyan noted that church choirs are a 2,000 year old tradition in Armenian culture. “Every Armenian kid conventionally attends church choir before starting school. At the age of 12, he or she already has a considerable knowledge of musical notes,” he said.

Noting that there were hundreds of Armenian choirs both in Istanbul and in Anatolia during the Ottoman Empire, Agoşyan said that today the number of remaining Armenian choirs in Istanbul is only five.

The Sahakyan A Cappella Choir performs hymns and classical Armenian folk songs as well as Western classical pieces.

Musical backgrounds of Agoşyan and the 170-member Sahakyan Choir is limited with the education they received during they were members of church choirs. The Sahakyan Armenian A Cappella Choir will perform at the Yunus Emre Culture Center in Istanbul's Bakırköy district on May 17.

The choir will also perform at the Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center on Nov. 12.
-------------------------------------
Choir with the church Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II brought Armenian artists from various provinces of Anatolia to certain neighborhoods of Istanbul following his conquest of the city in 1453.

In doing this, his aim was to increase the city's population. One of these neighborhoods is Samatya, where the Armenian community of Istanbul still refers to it as "little Paris" as it was one of the most remarkable neighborhoods of Istanbul where the modernization and Westernization processes of the late Ottoman Empire were experienced the most

In 1461, the Armenian Patriarchate in western Bursa province was relocated to Istanbul upon special orders by Mehmet II, and Yebisgobos (Bishop)Hovagim was appointed Patriarch.

Then, the splendid Byzantine church "Panayia Peribleptos" was transferred to the Armenians of Istanbul as the patriarchal church has been known as the "Surp Kevork (Saint Kevork) Church" since.

Finally in 1703, the Sahakyan Choir was formed within the church.


Strategic Research Center Makes Sensational Disclosures
01 May 2008, Azg
The Strategic Research Center of Moscow has published an analytical report entitled "The Presidential Elections of Armenia from the Point of View of Ex-President L. Ter-Petrosyan’s Influence on the Internal Political and Electoral Processes".

The "Analytical Report" provides a detailed description of the stages of Ter-Petrosyan’s political career from 1988 onwards. In particular, the Russian analysts provide the following information on L. Ter-Petrosyan’s political steps:

"L. Ter-Petrosyan did not stand close to the sources of the Karabakh Movement; he joined it later, after feeling that this force might bring him to power. And the fact that he, together with his companions-in-arms, was arrested by Mr. Gorbachov’s decree made him a hero. And that he was released just six months later is estimated as a proof of the fact that Mr. Ter-Petrosyan was recruited by the Soviet Intelligence Services.

There is some documented evidence on the real motives of L. Ter-Petrosyan’s being involved in political processes in the 1980’s. The orientalist, formerly less popular but materially well-off, was pushed to the demonstration arena in April-May 1988 by the desire of saving his brother, Telman Ter-Petrosyan who was accused of large-scale embezzlement and bribe-taking and was in custody pending trial.

As reported by several sources, Telman Ter-Petrosyan, the manager of one of the large enterprises, was not only one of the wealthiest people in Armenia but also one of the masters of the ‘black cash’ of the Communist Party – a holder of amounts envisaged for giving bribes on different levels through the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia.

And this key figure, one of the pillars of Soviet Armenia, was overthrown by the Gorbachov-led system of ‘perestroyka’. It was necessary not only to save Telman but also make the system collapse so as it wouldn’t recover its punitive force. Therefore, together with the pro-Karabakh speeches, one of the first appeals of L. Ter-Petrosyan was ‘To remove the Prosecutor General of the Republic’. The appeal was accepted with enthusiasm. The goal was achieved. The Prosecutor General was removed from office, and the newly-hatched member of Karabakh Committee had his brother released from prison.

As to L. Ter-Petrosyan’s second "advent" in autumn 2007, the analysts of the Strategic Research Center of Moscow present quite interesting observations in this regard." In particular, the authors of the "Analytical Report" say that Ter-Petrosyan and his team received tremendous amounts of financial resources for the electoral campaign. Turkey and Azerbaijan provided the funding through the Western Foundations.

The specialists of the Strategic Research Center are sure that Ter-Petrosyan’s return to the political arena was not absolutely impromptu. "There are grounds to assume that different foreign structures played a special role at the stage of preparing his return. Every year, the ‘British Council’ sends active young people to study in the Public Policy School of the Birmingham University. For being awarded the ‘Achieving’ scholarship, it is necessary to submit recommendations from the liberal parties, and the Armenian Pan-National Movement is one of them."

"There emerged the youth movement called ‘Sksel a’; it first organized innocent flash mobbers and carnivals, attracting students to its ranks. The movement was funded by Britain. Step by step, it became politicized. Last year, the funding of the movement made up more than 100.000 pounds." According to the data of the Strategic Research Center of Moscow, the foundations named after Fredric Nauman and Fredric Ebert, as well as "Eurasia" foundation and others provided funding to the organizations supporting the Armenian Pan-National Movement for 10 years continuously.

In 2007, a number of activists belonging to anti-government youth movements and having ties with the Armenian Pan-National Movements (Ter-Petrosyan’s Press Secretary was one of them) were awarded scholarships in different universities abroad, e.g. the United States, Great Britain etc. During the whole year, the studied the political technologies and returned to Armenia prior to Mr. Ter-Petrosyan’s pre-election campaign.

"Since the very start of Ter-Petrosyan’s electoral struggle, the group of politicians representing ‘Spectrum’ Strategic Analyses Center have been working in Yerevan; they are also members the International Institute of Strategic Research, London, The US Naval Foundation. According to non-official data, ‘Spectrum’ is an organization actively cooperating with the Turkish and Azerbaijani Intelligence Analytical Center," the analysts of Moscow announce.

In addition to all this, it is worth mentioning that the activists of the Armenian Pan-National Movement have received their Master’s Degrees from the NATO University, studied in the Political Research and Public Administration School of NATO, taken special leadership courses in the G. Marshal European Center of Security Issues, Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Book By Austrian Historical Scientist
01 May 2008, Today Az
The book "Armenian estromania" by Eric Feigl, famous Austrian historical scientist, one of few European researches of the so-called "Armenian genocide", was published in Poland.

The due announcement was made by a source from the Azerbaijani embassy to Poland.

As is reported the book is published in Polish and translated by the officials of the Azerbaijani embassy to Poland.

"The rich illustrated scientific work of the Austrian scientist destroys the myth of "Armenian genocide", creates exact and scientifically checked idea of the origins and existing forces of Armenian terror, reveals most of its bloody pages, speaks of the groundlessness and falseness of historical, territorial, cultural and other claims of Armenia against its neighbors-Turkey and Azerbaijan", the source said.

The book is distributed among the representative of the political and scientific circles of Poland.


Rakel's Suffering
Right before our eyes, Rakel Dink, the widow of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, is growing older, collapsing, bowed with grief and pain.

In just a year and a half or so, she appears to have aged about a decade or two. It has not been enough that we killed her husband, the father of her children; every day, every week, new details are learned about this murder, pointing to just how well-planned this event was. But this information, first before our eyes, but blatantly before Rakel's, is destroyed. "We will not supply you with the truth. We will not allow you to get to the bottom of what really happened. Have you not understood this yet? Do you really not grasp this?" At every trial so far, it is as though they want Rakel and us to watch and see just how organized, prepared and indifferent to the law this inner-state-organized gang belonging to the deep state is with its ability to prevent access to the real murderers. I have no idea how Rakel is even able to stand this horrible show, this circus of insults to the genuine desire for justice. Yes, before our very eyes, Rakel is being transformed into an old woman.
02.05.2008,Perihan Magden, Radikal


TTK Reports Some Mosques Abroad Converted Into Bars
The Turkish Historical Society (TTK) has issued a report about mosques abroad, particularly in the Balkans, that have been converted into restaurants, nightclubs or other entertainment venues serving alcohol.

According to the report, Tasköprü Mosque, often referred to as the Thursday Marketplace Mosque, and Çukur Mosque in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, were converted into restaurants where alcoholic drinks are served, while a mosque in Constanta, Romania, was transformed into a nightclub.

TTK President Yusuf Halaçoglu stated that in the past Turks would never cause damage to churches, opting instead to transform them into either museums or mosques. “These mosques should at the bare minimum be converted into museums. Irreverence to places of worship is unacceptable,” he said.

According to the report, the Tasköprü Mosque was built in the 16th century and continued to function as a mosque until the 1940s, though its minaret had been destroyed before that. In the 2000s, the mosque was converted into a restaurant that serves Italian food. A huge vase was placed to cover the niche indicating the direction of Mecca and its windowpanes were replaced with colorful glass. Outside, one can easily distinguish the lead-covered dome and the stone walls of the mosque.

Çukur Mosque, close to the office of Plovdiv’s mufti, or highest-ranked religious scholar, is another Ottoman building transformed into a restaurant. The second floor of the building is being used as an open veranda, while the base of the destroyed minaret has been decorated with flowers. The restaurant offers a variety of alcoholic beverages.

Halaçoglu noted that converting places of worship into nightclubs or other entertainment places is not acceptable in any religion. “These places of worship should at the very least be converted into churches or museums where irreverence cannot be exercised,” he said.
02.05.2008, Aslihan Aydin Ankara


Ancient Mosaics Discovered At 7,000-Year-Old Dara Ruins
http://medya.todayszaman.com/todayszaman/2008/05/02/mosaic.jpg
The mosaics depict animal figures and representations of umbrella motifs.

Ancient mosaics have been discovered at the 7,000-year-old Dara ruins near the Turkish city of Mardin.

The mosaics, which came to light through a new set of archeological digs which began at Dara last year, depict animal figures and representations of umbrella motifs. Authorities note that the mosaics found at Dara are similar in some ways to the ancient mosaics at the historical site of Zeugma, also in Turkey. In the meantime, the Mardin Governor’s offices are offering their support for the digs at Dara, which originally began in 1986, led by Professor Metin Ahunbay and his team. A new set of archeological digs slated to start this month at Dara will be receiving the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Günay, who visited the southeastern Anatolian town of Mardin last month, stated at that time that the ministry would be supplying the necessary financial support to the Dara digs to ensure that the historical treasures found in Mardin would surface for study and appreciation.

The 40-meter-deep site at Dara has been cleared, and military food and arms supply depots belonging to the Babylonian and Persian empires have already emerged, as have stone cemetery sites. Residential sites and underground homes carved from rock have also been found.

Mardin Governor Mehmet Kiliçlar has announced that every effort possible will be made to see that the other historical mosaics at the Dara ruins will also be found, adding that the findings up until now show that a “second Zeugma” exists in Mardin. “Dara, which was used as a military barracks city by the Romans, appears to have sheltered a population of over 100,000, judging from the historical ruins and the water cisterns that have been found so far. After these archeological digs are completed, Dara will be the ‘Aspendos’ of the Southeastern Anatolian region,” Kiliçlar said.
02.05.2008, Seyhmus Edis Mardin


US Group: Turkey Ranked Partly Free In Press Freedom Index
Although Western Europe has continued to boast the highest level of press freedom worldwide, Turkey is the only country ranked as "partly free" in the region following a two-point dip in the country's score, the US-based Freedom House announced in a report on Tuesday.

The survey, released annually in advance of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, assessed the degree of print, broadcast and Internet freedom in every country in the world. Out of the 2008 ratings of 195 countries and territories, 72 (37 percent) were rated "Free," 59 (30 percent) "Partly Free" and 64 (33 percent) "Not Free." The evaluations are based on an assessment of the legal, political and economic environments in which journalists worked during 2007.

"The continued prosecution of large numbers of journalists and the high-profile January 2007 assassination of Turkish-Armenian editor Hrant Dink, apparently with some involvement by state actors, were the primary factors behind a two-point decline in the score from 49 to 51," according to the report, titled "Press Freedom in 2007: A Year of Global Decline."

Turkey's legal and political environments were both ranked 20 and its economic environment ranked 11. A lower number indicates more freedom. "With heightened polarization regarding issues of secularism, nationalism and separatism, reform efforts toward enhanced freedom of expression stalled in 2007," the report said.

The report also noted developments related to the newly revised Article 301, which restricts freedom of expression. "Convictions against journalists are made much less frequently than are prosecutions, but trials are time-consuming and expensive. A total of six convictions were made for charges under Article 301 in 2007 (nine were acquitted). In a positive development, the Supreme Court of Appeals confirmed a lower court's prior decision to drop the Article 301 case against Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk in August."

Freedom House noted setbacks in press freedom outnumbered advances two to one globally and that there was some improvement in the regions with the least press freedom: the Middle East and North Africa. Gains in these regions have been attributed to a growing number of journalists who are willing to "challenge government restraints, a pushback trend seen in other regions as well."

Western Europe continued to boast the highest level of press freedom worldwide in 2007, with 24 countries (96 percent) being listed as free, including top-ranked Finland and Iceland and lower-ranked Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Estonia, Germany, Portugal, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. Countries registering declines included Portugal, whose score worsened due to a new law that could strip journalists of their right to protect confidential sources and gives employers the right to reuse journalists' work in any way for 30 days following initial publication, as well as Malta, whose score deteriorated by several points due to a series of a threats and attacks against journalists covering public demonstrations and debates.
01.05.2008, Today's Zaman Istanbul


Necessary Initiatives Underway On Text Backing Armenian Allegations, Foreign Ministry
Turkish Press, April 29 2008
ANKARA - Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday that necessary initiatives were underway pertaining to the new text adopted by the Argentine Senate supporting Armenian allegations regarding 1915 events.

The spokesman said Turkish State Minister Mehmet Aydin cancelled his visit to Argentine upon this development.

Aydin was to attend "Alliance of Civilizations Initiative" in Argentina between April 28th and 29th.

The spokesman said, "decision of the Argentina Senate contradicts historical facts and violates principles of international law."

Turkey has long been facing a systematic campaign of defamation carried out by Armenian lobbying groups. The Armenian diaspora has lately increased its organized activities throughout the world for the recognition of their unfounded allegations in regard to the events of 1915 as "genocide" by national and local parliaments.

Until today the parliaments of Argentina, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Uruguay, Greece, the Greek Cypriot administration, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Chile, Venezuela and the European Parliament passed either resolutions or issued statements. In addition, some local parliaments in the USA, Canada, Britain, Australia, Argentina and Switzerland passed similar resolutions.

Turkey is of the view that parliaments and other political institutions are not the appropriate fora to debate and pass judgments on disputed periods of history. Past events and controversial periods of history should be left to the historians for their dispassionate study and evaluation.

In 2005, Turkey has officially proposed to the government of Armenia the establishment of a joint commission of history composed of historians and other experts from both sides to study together the events of 1915 not only in the archives of Turkey and Armenia but also in the archives of all relevant third countries and to share their findings with the public. Unfortunately, Armenia has not responded positively to this initiative, yet. Turkey`s proposal is still on the table.

U.S. Turkish Lobby Going To Expand Its Political Influence
29.04.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ 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.

As reported by Eurasianet, 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 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.

"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.

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," Nurten Ural said.


History: An Argument With An End By Paul Doolan
28 April 2008
Dutch historian Pieter Geyl famously wrote that history is “an argument without an end”. In Switzerland today, arguing about history can mean you might end up having to explain your historical views before a judge of law.

In January of this year State Prosecutor of Zürich announced he had opened investigative proceedings against the mainstream conservative weekly Die Weltwoche. The magazine’s potential crime - publishing an article in October 2006 by British historian Norman Stone. The former Oxford Professor of Modern History had argued that he was not convinced that the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 constituted genocide; such an historical view is a crime in this neutral country.

This is now the second case on this issue that has led to a legal investigation in Switzerland.

In March 2007 a judge announced that the Armenian genocide was “an established historical fact” and handed down sentence on Turkish Marxist politician Dogu Perincek who, in a speech in 2005, had stated otherwise. Perincek was found guilty of racism and received a suspended sentence in jail and a fine of 3,000 Swiss francs. In December 2007 Perincek lost his appeal when the Swiss Federal Supreme Court upheld the verdict. He promised to take it to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

This, as well as the current investigation into Die Weltwoche, raises the issue of the role of the judiciary in implementing state-sanctioned historical truth. Very few deny, even among the so-called deniers, that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were slaughtered in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. This historical fact was determined, not by a judge or a parliament or public opinion, but by individuals who have analysed the written sources and oral testimonies.

The great majority of informed commentators, including Harvard’s Samantha Fox, regard the terrible actions of the Ottoman authorities to have been genocide. But there are a number of well-known non-Turkish deniers, including Israel’s Shimon Peres and Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis. Surely it is only by means of unfettered research and debate by historians, and not by lawyers and judges, that the argument will be brought to an end if indeed there can be an end.

The practice of history is slowly becoming something of a risky business. Increasingly Holocaust denial has become an illegal offence in European countries and the European Union recently agreed that all member states should pass legislation on this issue.

At the instigation of Poland and the Baltic States the EU has promised to create a committee that will examine the necessity for also outlawing the belittling of, denial of, or justification for, Stalin’s crimes. Meanwhile the Swiss parliament has banned outright any sort of denial of the Armenian Genocide and the French have made moves to do something similar. Turkish authorities have responded to the French manoeuvres with the threat that they will pass a law recognising French policies in Algeria between 1954 and 1962 as constituting genocide, and will consequently imprison anyone who denies this.

Turkey already uses its notorious article 301, which forbids insulting “Turkishness”, to prosecute those of its citizens brave enough to accept the accusations of genocide. These have included Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, historian Taner Akcam and the late Armenian defender of freedom of speech Hrant Dink, murdered in January 2007 by a 17-year-old assassin.

We could be facing a future when the historian, before embarking upon her lecture tour, will not only have to check for visas and vaccinations, but will also need to go over a thorough checklist of what opinions are allowed and what are disallowed. Perhaps Kazakhstan would like to declare the Irish Famine a form of genocide and ban its denial, while Indonesia could ban the denial of the genocide of Australian Aborigines.

In October 2007 The House Committee on Foreign Affairs in Washington joined the bandwagon and passed a resolution recognising the mass killing of Armenians as an act of genocide. The Bush regime opposed this move, but for the wrong reasons of course. Bush believes that the resolution will damage American relations with Turkey. He remains unconcerned with a far deeper, and potentially more long-term, danger that yet another government has made a pronouncement on state sanctioned historical truth.

Some claim to be supporters of freedom of expression, but that this freedom must be curtailed “in extreme cases”. But it is only in “extreme cases”, and especially when one is faced with an opinion that one finds repugnant, that one faces the challenge to support freedom of expression.

One can sympathise with the aspirations of the Armenian people and admire the courage of the likes of Hrant Dink, Orhan Pamuk and Tanar Ackan, while nevertheless defending the right to freedom of expression for those who articulate a conclusion that one finds to be suspect or even odious.

John Stuart Mill summarised this nearly a century and a half ago:

If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

Die Weltwoche followed Stone’s article with a reply from Swiss historian Hans-Lukas Kieser, thereby following that old fashioned approach of providing two sides of the story - in other words, an argument.

Roger Köppel, editor of Die Weltwoche, claimed that the investigation of his magazine by the Zürich court is “incomprehensible”. Perhaps he now realises that the great historical issues of our day will be decided, not by historical argument, but by parliamentary vote, and prosecutors and judges will enforce these decisions. Peter Geyl must be turning in his grave.

Paul Doolan teaches history at Zürich International School, Switzerland and lectures in Political Systems at the College for International Citizenship in Birmingham, England.
-----------------
History: an argument with an end : Comments
By Paul Doolan, published 28/4/2008

The great historical issues of our day are being decided not by historical argument, but by parliamentary vote, with judges enforcing these decisions.


Its a difficult balance. Where there is an established body of historical evidence that genocide occured a court having the discretion to fine genocide deniers is justified, but locking them up is not.

One area the author doesn't touch is the mental suffering deniers inflict on the relatives (or race) of people slaughtered in a genocidal act. Historians like anyone else are not free to write anything if it definitely hurts those already kicked.

As to genocide of aborigines - yes hunting expeditions did go out to exterminate aborigines in Australia's past - with logistical support amounting to bounties. This is a national shame on par with the mass killing by Asian nations of different races, castes, religious or ideological groups.

Furthermore given the collaboration and war crimes of the many Swiss, Austrians and Germans aginst Jews in WWII its justified that they continue to atone for this by enforcing legislation thats prevents British authors from further exploiting inbred Germanic anti-Semitism.

Fighting fire with fire is an additional reason. Rightwing groups have been known to host, fund or encourage denialist authors and the Turkish Government likewise. Anti denialist governments have a right to combat group and State sponsored pro-denialists.

Pete
http://spyingbadthings.blogspot.com/
Posted by plantagenet, Monday, 28 April 2008 10:48:36 AM
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If you want History with an end read the Book of Revelation.
Theres the end.
It wont budge one fraction from what John has written...no matter what anyone thinks:)
Posted by Gibo, Monday, 28 April 2008 10:57:16 AM
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The logic of this article is so obvious. The people and governments who have, and who are attempting, to restrict the free expression of opinion are setting the foundation for a new variant of the very tyrannies and injustices that they claim they are trying to protect people against. This pattern reflects the same mentality of those who led the Medieval and Renaissance era Inquisitions . . . . "We have the absolute and unchanging truth for all time, and we must suppress any 'heresy' which denies that truth".
God help us all if that way of thinking continues to spread.
Posted by sonofeire, Monday, 28 April 2008 11:07:15 AM
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If "Pete" wants to fight "fire with fire", he has every right to do so on the basis of objective evidence and reason. He does not have the moral right to do so by soliciting the coercive power of the state to suppress the opinions of others, no matter how foolish those "other" opinions may be. There is a fundamental difference between merely expressing an opinion about an historical event, and actually personally ADVOCATING offensive violence and genocide against another group of people. It should be manifestly obvious that the infliction of "mental" suffering . . . as opposed to actual PHYSICAL suffering . . . is purely subjective. Islamic fanatics are constantly using the excuse of "mental and emotional suffering" to justify the suppression of opinion whenever they get "offended" by anyone possessing the temerity to question the misogynistic death-cult ideology of Islamic Jihadism. We have a right to be protected from PHYSICAL attack or specific and immediate threats of violence to our person. We do not have a moral right to be protected from opinions that we simply don't like.
Posted by sonofeire, Monday, 28 April 2008 11:33:58 AM
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Another example of people taking on things that they don't have to. I mean,how many people bother 'denying' events like the Holocaust and what happened to Armenians?

The answer is, only a very few nutty intellectuals trying to attract attention to themselves. Most people don't know and don't care.

There must be better subjects for consideration out there.
Posted by Mr. Right, Monday, 28 April 2008 11:57:33 AM
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These historians should be very careful if they come to New South Wales. Unlike most english speaking countries, where truth is an absolute defence against a charge of libel, in NSW, to defend a charge of libel you must not only demonstrate that what you said was true, but also that it is in the public interest (as decided by the judge) that the truth should be revealed.

Again, if you assert that asians have an average IQ that is greater than africans, as happened recently, you are liable to be shouted down in lectures and barred from campuses by the administration. Notwithstanding that rational analysis makes it very unlikely that such different groups would have EXACTLY the same IQ, current political correctness requires that their IQ's must be regarded as equal, and that this fact is beyond dispute. Please note, I am not making any claims one way or the other, I am simply noting the situation.

If further proof were necessary, we need only look at the first amendment to the US constitution, which provides that:

"Congress shall make NO LAW respecting....the freedom of the press"

If I were you, I would be very careful about publishing there anything that the Supreme Court regards as being outside its protection.

Surely the only conclusion that we can come to is things have not changed much since the days of the inquisition, except that they would no longer burn you at the stake.

And people think we are ruled by elected politicians, not judges. What a laugh!
Posted by plerdsus, Monday, 28 April 2008 1:44:25 PM
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This is one of the best article I've read on this subject in quite a while. The issue with those laws isn't whether or not the events of 1915 constituted genocide, it's that governments don't have any business deciding upon these matters... And, not only that, but by these laws, governments want to tell people what to think.

Disagreeing - one can disagree on this issue while one knows a lot about it; many experts disagree with the Swiss government for instance - is illegal. The old adage, that the clash of two different opinions results in the truth, seems to have been thrown overboard.

Historical events should be left to historians to decide upon. And more frequently than not, they will never reach a consensus.

As for the comment about psychological effects; that's the biggest bunch of nonsense I've ever heard. We could also turn it around; from a Turkish perspective it's incredibly 'stressful' to hear one's ancestors and one's country held responsible for a genocide that (according to most Turks) never happened. Not only that, but Armenians tried to ethnically cleansed the lands themselves; no one ever speaks about that. If you want to talk about 'psychological' stress, etc., you should take this all into account as well. Once you do, it never stops. Making opinions that people find difficult to hear illegal isn't a good solution.

The history of mankind should have taught us that by now.
Posted by shutout, Monday, 28 April 2008 6:38:11 PM
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This is one of the best articles I've read on this subject in quite a while. The issue with those laws isn't whether or not the events of 1915 constituted genocide, it's that governments don't have any business deciding upon these matters... And, not only that, but by these laws, governments want to tell people what to think.

Disagreeing - one can disagree on this issue while one knows a lot about it; many experts disagree with the Swiss government for instance - is illegal. The old adage, that the clash of two different opinions results in the truth, seems to have been thrown overboard.

Historical events should be left to historians to decide upon. And more frequently than not, they will never reach a consensus.

As for the comment about psychological effects; that's the biggest bunch of nonsense I've ever heard. We could also turn it around; from a Turkish perspective it's incredibly 'stressful' to hear one's ancestors and one's country held responsible for a genocide that (according to most Turks) never happened. Not only that, but Armenians tried to ethnically cleansed the lands themselves; no one ever speaks about that. If you want to talk about 'psychological' stress, etc., you should take this all into account as well. Once you do, it never stops. Making opinions that people find difficult to hear illegal isn't a good solution.

The history of mankind should have taught us that by now.
Posted by shutout, Monday, 28 April 2008 6:38:15 PM
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An interesting article.

However I have a question - what if one's right to free speech impinges on another's right to life, liberty, freedom or whatever?

I know there are no absolutes here (for example that was the very rationale Thatcher used to deny free speech to the IRA) but what about those whose speech is designed to inflame and physically hurt others, or to organise groups politically to do so. The Nazis seem a good example.

It seems to me that some deniers are not about historical debate or enquiry but about political activity to repeat previous outrages or continue old battles.
Posted by Passy, Monday, 28 April 2008 8:02:57 PM
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Nationalist Greeks, Armenians and ultra religious Christians are wielding a strong effort to put down Turks in media and parliaments worldwide. Unproven Armenian allegations are being used to further the anti-Turkish bias. It has become difficult for children of Turkish heritage to proudly attend school with a majority of Armenian children and for the educated adults to keep their jobs in face of racial bigotry. Turks have become the ‘Jews’ of Europe.

I think the correct action would be to curtail bias against Turkish people in general. But, instead; this bias took a more dangerous form and judges started to bend this artificially created social model. I can’t single out the Swiss judges with the excuse that they could be trying to clear out their guilty conscience at the Turks expense. (Reminder: Switzerland obtained its riches through innocent Jewish victims’ gold?)

The existing international laws of racial discrimination seem to ignore the Turks’ rights to free speech and their protection against genocide. No one stops to think for a minute what happened to the Turks who owned the land registry of most Balkan countries? Over 80% of Bulgarian land was registered to Turkish citizens of the Ottoman Empire. The majority of Balkan population was Turkish before the same World War I years that ended up with less Armenians in Eastern Anatolia. We must be prepared to apply the same standard in recognizing Turkish losses as well.

Also, the newly created position of ‘genocide scholars’ have to accept Armenian allegations hook line and sinker. Otherwise, they could lose their title. Have you heard about how Dr. Dennis Papazian of umich.edu wrote to everyone to tape what Hilmar Keiser says in his conferences and report to him. All of this because historian Hilmar Keiser thinks the Armenian relocation was self defense of Ottoman Empire.
Posted by Hatice, Monday, 28 April 2008 8:36:56 PM
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An excellent article.

The quotation from JS Mill, however, is selective.

Mill said (at 340),"That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

The fact is that "history" which,for example, denies the Destruction of European Jewry or The Armenian Genocide is harmful to others, in particular to the victims of such historical events.
Posted by Seneca, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 11:06:50 AM
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How many times does it have to be said?

The fact that someone may become emotionally upset by the mere expression of an OPINION about an HISTORICAL EVENT does not mean that they have been "harmed". No one in a truly democratic society has a moral "right" to NOT be offended. They only have a right to be protected from physical attack or direct and specific threats to their physical safety. There are people who will become offended at the drop of a hat. If someone wears green hair, rings through their eyebrows, bones through their nose, and I call them "ugly", does that mean the state has a right to prevent me from expressing an opinion about that individual because I may cause that hyper-sensitive soul emotional "harm"?
Posted by sonofeire, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 2:58:48 PM
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I agree with seneca.

Son of Eire, another point is that Nazis for example use freedom of speech to organise the next holocaust. Holocaust denial is part of that strategy.

To use your analogy, the real intent in calling someone ugly is not just to offend them (although they may be) but to use this divisive scapegoating as a way to achieve or continue in power.

In any event some words are of themselves hurtful, reflecting say a history of slavery and suppression of rights and liberties and are used to put people into a category of being inferior and second class.
Posted by Passy, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 7:54:41 PM
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The Armenians are sure that these events were genocide and claim that Turkey does not want to face with her history and so she does not scrap article 301 which restricts freedom of speech. However, Turkish articles obviously do not have any power of sanction on Armenians. So, what is the reason of Armenians’ insistent refusal of Turkey’s suggestions to discuss these events together with historians from both sides? For example:

*In 2004, the Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform (VAT) was founded to exchange documents about the 1915 events by Austrian, Turkish and Armenian historians. After receiving 100 Turkish documents, the Armenians refused to send their documents which they promised, to the Turkish historians and afterwards the Armenian foreign minister announced that they did not want to discuss the 1915 events with historians.

*Armenia refused the Turkish prime minister's and the Turkish Assembly's invitation announced on 13th April 2005 which suggested to establish a Joint Commission composed of historians from both sides and discuss the events which took place during the 1st World War.

*Turkey sent full page ads to five popular newspapers of the United States (US) calling on Armenia to ‘bring light the events of 1915 together with Turkey and to establish a joint commission composed of historians from both sides in addition to historians from other nations’, in April 2007.

*And the Turkish prime minister repeated the same invitation on February 2008 , in Munich at the 44th Security Conference where the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Oskanian also attended?

In neither of these invitations was there any precondition, unlike it is claimed by the Armenians.

*Why did the Armenian historian Sarafyan, who accepted the recent invitation of the chief of Turkish History Foundation, Halaçoğlu, for cooperation to investigate Harput events, abandon the project, after talking the Armenian diaspora? .....

(continued in the next box)
Posted by akasya, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 2:00:44 AM
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cont..
*Why are the Armenian archives still closed? The archives of Taşnak (Dashnak) Party is present in Zoryan Armenian Institute in Boston. Both Turkish government and Turkish History Foundation offered the Armenians to open these archives; but the directors of the Zoryan Institute replied that they did not have enough money to open the archives. Turkish government and Turkish History Foundation promised financial support.Why did the Armenians refuse this suggestion too? (Nüzhet Kandemir, http://www.ntvmsnbc.com/news/418517.asp). Note that Zoryan Institute has quite enough money to provide financial support for Taner Akçam who advocates the Armenian claims in Minnesota University.

If a genocide had really occured, why did Brian Ardouny of the Armenian Assembly of America announce ‘We don’t need to prove the genocide historically, because it has already been accepted politically’? Why did the chief of the Armenian Archives in Armenia tell that they were not interested in the achives, but all they are interested is the world’s public opinion.

In your life, have you ever seen a criminal who persistently calls the victim to bring his evidences? And, have you ever seen a victim who passionately accuses somebody of committing crime and giving him great harm but strictly avoids of bringing his proofs before the referees or going to court, and tells that he need not prove that this person’s guilt, because the community has already accepted this person as guilty?

In this situation would you not ask the question of which era you are living in? 5000 BC or 7000 BC?

And what else should Turkey do, to FACE WITH HER HISTORY? Who is afraid of facing with her history? Turkey or Armenia and those who support them?
Posted by akasya, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 2:03:58 AM
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Thank you akasya.

It seems that I need to know a lot more about what is claimed to be the "Genocide of the Armenians"..

Can you recommend a book?
Posted by Seneca, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 12:56:23 PM
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Part 1:
Whoever tells about topics which obviously abolish the Armenians' imaginary past, are labelled as ‘deniars’, as ‘agents of Turkish government’, or ‘people hired by the Turkish government’ or ‘disingenous scholars/authorities’. And, here are the names of Armenians who comply with the these terms:

The Armenian Soviet historian A.A.Lalayan who stated that the Dashnaks displayed extreme courage to massacre Turkish women, children and ill and old people (Contrarevolyutsionnıy ‘Daşnaktsutyun’ İ İmperialisti-çeskaya Voyna 1914-1918 gg.’, Revolyutsionnıy Vostok, No.2-3, p.92, 1936) was an Armenian deniar and he was also hired by the Turkish government years ago.

Armenian Boghos Nubar, who told that ‘150 000 Armenian volunteers in Russian Army were the only forces against Turks’ (Times of London , 1919 Jan 30 Link: http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2007/10/2013-150-000-armenian-volunteers-in.html) was also a deniar and agent of Turkish government.

Armenian T. Haçikoglyan who told that the Dashnaks eradicated thousands of Turks with their bloody hands (T. Haçikoglyan, 10 Let Armyanskoy Sttrelkovoy Divizii,p4-6. İzdatelstvo Polit. Uprav. KKA, Tiflis, 1930) was also a deniar and agent of Turkish government.

Hovannes Katchaznouni, the first prime-minister of the Armenian state founded in 1918 and the prime authority of the Dashnagzoutiun Party who wrote a book ‘Dashnagzoutiun Has Nothing to do Anymore’ and K.S.Papazian, the writer of ‘Patriotism Perverted’ published in 1934, in Boston were the main Armenian deniars. Because:

In both of these books, the writers displayed the terrorist identity of Dashnaks, and their lack of vision. Katchaznouni stressed on that they should have used a peaceful language towards the Turks but they (Armenian Dashnaks) rejected the Turks who suggested to negotiate with them and they went on fighting in cooperation with the Russians
Posted by fehmi, Friday, 2 May 2008 1:21:52 AM
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Part 2
Papazian wrote that Khatisian and the then prime minister S.Vratzian didnot publish the text of Treaty of Gümrü which put an end to war between Turkey and the Armenian Republic on December 2, 1920, which coincided with the entrance of Bolsheviks into Armenia.Gümrü Treaty shows that in neither region of the Ottoman state, did the Armenians make up the majority of the population.

And both writers told that the Armenian prime minister Simon Vratzian applied to the Turkish government on March 18, 1921 and asked military help of the Turks against the Bolsheviks!

Of course, even these few examples give great harm to the present Armenian thesis and lead people to question the Armenian’s innocence, their predominance in Ottoman population, and most importantly their genocide thesis.

Of course, the fact that Ottoman government offered the Dashnaks negotiations long before deportation is the major point that is not wanted by the Armenians to be known since they make great effort to show that the Ottoman government committed a genocide aiming ethnic cleansing.

And they fear the question of why and how the Armenian prime minister Simon Vratzian applied to the Turkish government on March 18, 1921 and asked military help of the Turks against the Bolsheviks, in spite of that the Turks committed a (so-called) genocide and murdered 1.5 million Armenians!

So, it is not surprising that both of these books are banned in Armenia. It is also a fact that all the copies of the book of Hovannes Katchaznouni, in all languages were collected from the libraries in Europe by Dashnags. The book is included in the catalogues but no copies can be found in the racks.

Because, Hovannes Katchaznouni, the first prime-minister of the Armenian state and K.S.Papazian were the greatest deniars and the most disingenous scholars/authorities of the Armenians' present thesis
Posted by fehmi, Friday, 2 May 2008 1:27:22 AM
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To Seneca,

Here are the sources which I think useful:

Electronic sources:

Edward J Erickson. The Armenians and Ottoman Military Policy,1915. War in History 2008;15(2):141-167.
http://wih.sagepub.com/current.dtl

GORDUKLERIM YASADIKLARIM - I witnessed and lived through
Written by a Russian Lt Colonel- PDF format in Turkish-English-French and original Russian

“The Armenians in the Late Ottoman Period” Published by the Turkish Grand National Assembly 2001, Ankara http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/yayinlar/yayin1/armenian.htm

Ismet Binark “Archive Documents About the Atrocities and Genocide Inflicted Upon Turks by Armenians” Published by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, 2002, Ankara http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/yayinlar/yayin3/atrocity.htm

http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/yayinlar/yayin1/6-Halacoglu(109-142).pdf
The reasons of deportation discussed by Yusuf Halacoglu

Issues Missed in the 1915 Armenian Debate
http://www.tsk.mil.tr/eng/ermeni_sorunu_salonu/sarem_book.doc

The Armenian Question- Basic Knowledge & Documentation
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES

A Quarterly Journal Of History, Politics and International Relations
Armenian Issue by Forsnet (http://www.ermenisorunu.gen.tr/english/intro/index.html)

ATAA Reference Center

VIDEOS:Sari Gelin Documentary:
The truth about Armenian Genocide-episode1,2,3,4,5,6,7

English Books:
Sukru Server AYA. "The Genocide of Truth". 2008.

Guenter Lewy The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide.University of Utah Press

Justin Mc Carthy, Esat Arslan, Cemalettin Taskıran, Ömer Turan. The Armenian Rebellion in Van. University of Utah Press

Kamuran Gurun. "The Armenian File" (1983)

Professor Justin McCarthy and Heath Lowry have quite a bit of papers like "Who fired the First Shot" and "The US Congress and Adolf Hitler on the Armenians".

Prof. Turkkaya Ataöv "What Happened to the Ottoman Armenians", "The British Blue Books: Vehicles of War Propaganda (1914-1918)", "An Armenian Source: Hovhannes Katchaznouni", "Hitler and the Armenian Question".

There are many other books written in Turkish. Some books of Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu and Hikmet Ozdemir are translated into English and are on sale on Amazon.com.
Thank you
Posted by akasya, Friday, 2 May 2008 2:02:38 AM
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akasya......

Many thanks for going to so much trouble.

You have created a most valuable resource.

sonofiere.....

Your use of the Inquisition is quite incorrect. The Inquisition burnt books and people not in agreement with Roman Catholic dogma.

Holocaust denial, for example, denies the truth of an historical event which is the most researched and documented event ever.
Motive, therfore, is relevant. Why deny an event which according to all the evidence occurred?
Posted by Seneca, Friday, 2 May 2008 12:11:45 PM
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"Motive, therfore, is relevant. Why deny an event which according to all the evidence occurred?"

In response to Seneca's question, the Holocaust is proven. The Armenian matter is an assertion made through politics and prejudice, not through the facts.

There is no "evidence." The British tried very hard to find the judicial evidence at the end of the war, in their Nuremberg, the Malta Tribunal. Everything claimed in Armenian propaganda was considered, and rejected, "evidence" such as British war propaganda (e.g., the Blue Book), U.S. State archival documents (Morgenthau, consuls, missionaries), newspaper coverage, 1919-20 puppet Ottoman government's kangaroo courts-martial; the British even had total access to the Ottoman archives, appointing an Armenian in charge for over two years, and the real evidence demonstrated that the Ottomans tried to protect the Armenians. (Some such documents were taken away and may be found today in the British archives.) "Personal opinions" is what one British official said of the "evidence," which is another word for "hearsay," and then there were the many forgeries, as that of Aram Andonian's Naim Bey memoirs. Every single one of the accused parties, totaling 144 at the height of the process, was released, none charged with any crime.

Motive is indeed relevant. The reason why the "evidence" falls short is that there was no motive to exterminate Armenians as the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews. The Armenians served as a powerful and wealthy segment of Ottoman society, and there was no network of hatred against them. After the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War, fanatical Armenian leaders kicked into high gear, aided by their missionary allies, and Ottoman-Armenians as a whole either learned to regard Turks as racially inferior or were coerced (via terrorism) to turn against their country. They joined the allies, and were subsequently relocated by the Ottoman government. Most Armenians who died lost their lives through famine and disease, as most of the nearly three million other Ottomans who died, even the soldiers. Armenians who were massacred were killed by locals, acting on their own accord; there is simply no evidence tying in the central government.
Posted by hw, Friday, 2 May 2008 5:38:52 PM
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A post by Mr Right, from above: "Another example of people taking on things that they don't have to. I mean,how many people bother 'denying' events like the Holocaust and what happened to Armenians? The answer is, only a very few nutty intellectuals trying to attract attention to themselves. Most people don't know and don't care.

Mr. Right is right when he says most don't care. The only reason why "deniers" bother to get involved is for reasons of defense, and in defense of the truth because, unfortunately, genocide-involved people can be very passionate, very dogmatic, and often fanatical. If Mr. Right were accused of a crime where there is no evidence, he would be "denying" the charges as well. Mr. Right is very wrong when he labels professors as Norman Stone as "nutty." That is a highly un-intellectual comment, and if Mr. Right is so sure of the genocide evidence, he is welcome to point to it. What we may more correctly call those few intellectuals as Stone is "brave," since what will be have to gain by "attracting attention to himself"? Those who are for genocide make money in the highly profitable genocide business; those who point out the falsehoods only invite trouble and ostracism, and defamation such as charges of being "nutty." The only reason why a professor of integrity would dare to go against the tide, as far as the Armenian claims, is to tell and defend the truth.

Regarding Mr. Doolan's fine article:

"The great majority of informed commentators, including Harvard’s Samantha Fox, regard the terrible actions of the Ottoman authorities to have been genocide."

Anyone with minimal objectivity and the desire to peruse below the surface can quickly see what a sham the Armenian genocide claim is. If "Harvard’s Samantha Fox" has concluded genocide, she has only consulted the ubiquitous propaganda, and that hardly makes her a "competent" commentator, let alone an "informed" one.
Posted by hw, Friday, 2 May 2008 5:42:19 PM
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"intent to destroy" is indeed important.

From 1902 to 1923 we see a strong intention to destroy the Ottoman Empire and wipe out its Muslim Turks from all lands captured by the invading forces.

For instance; prior to 1912, 80% of Bulgarian land was registered to Muslims, but no Muslims remain there now. Turkish names were wiped out from the historic grave stones and at one time it was deemed illegal to use Turkish names, let alone speak Turkish. Similar events took place in all Balkan Countries.

In contrast for over 600 years, Armenians freely practiced their religion and spoke their language under the Turkish Ottoman rule. How could the same government all of a sudden, decide to carry out Armenian genocide at a time when majority of its high ranking government posts were held by Armenians? e.g. The Ministry of Foreign Afafirs, the Finance Department, and all trade was in the hands of Armenians during 1915.

Obviously the Ottoman Government had no intention to perform Armenian genocide; when armed Armenians pillaged Muslim villages in cooperation with invading Russian forces, Turkish government reacted with a tactical decision to relocate them from the zone they posed a danger to the Ottoman Army's maneuvers.

The Armenians' hatred of Turks is evident from folk songs of the times. Whereas no hatred of Armenians has been traced to Turkish people. "People's hatred" and "intent to destroy" are very important.
Posted by Hatice, Friday, 2 May 2008 7:02:12 PM
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Let us reevaluate Armenia’s persistence on the word ‘genocide’ from a different perspective:

Armenia’s attitude towards Turkey’s land integrity: Article 11 of the Armenian Declaration of Independence of August 23, 1990; refers to Eastern Anatolia of Turkey as Western Armenia and as such beholds that this area is part of Armenia. Since the Armenian constitution recognizes as a basis “the fundamental principles of the Armenian statehood and national aspirations engraved in the Declaration of Independence of Armenia”, it likewise accepts the characterization of Eastern Anatolia as Western Armenia and this, albeit indirectly, translates into the advancement of territorial claims. The Armenian politicians and school books call Eastern Anatolia of Turkey, ‘invaded mother land of Armenia’ and in Armenia the school children are being grown up being conditioned to be patriots to rescue their invaded land. Even the marches they sing are about this condition. The Armenians who write in such blogs that the Eastern Anatolia cities do not belong to Turkey, as if the present Eastern boundaries of Turkey was not determined by treaties of Gumru (1920), Moscow (1921) and the whole boundaries by Lausanne (1923) Treaties; after the Turkish Freedom War.
Posted by aylinata, Friday, 2 May 2008 11:07:20 PM
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Additionally Armenia refused Turkey’s recurrent offers to commit an agreement declaring that each country recognizes the other country’s land integrity, in 1992 and later.

Why do the Armenians force Turkey to accept a genocide? The answer is hidden in a speech of the chief of Dashnak Party Hrant Markaryan who told that their efforts for the recognition of Armenian (so-called) genocide was not an isolated purpose but it was a part of the struggle for rescue of the West Armenia (Armenian Forum Vol2 No 4; Armenian Weekly On-line, 18 June, 4 July 2003). The Armenian then prime minister Andranik Markaryan told that the internationally recognition of (so called) Armenian genocide and demanding land from Ankara as 'compensation' was possible only after Armenia had strengthened and the Armenians should not have told that they demanded land from Ankara loudly and everywhere (Arminfo 26 May 2004). On one occasion President Kocharian stated that since today’s Armenia does not have the clout to advance such demands, doing so should be left to future generations at a time when conditions would hopefully be better suited to this end'. A poll taken in Armenia revealed that almost all youngsters in the Republic of Armenia wished to follow up with land claims from Turkey and 90% of them said Turkey must unequivocally accept genocide allegations. (Milliyet - April 11, 2006)

The world should not forget that Germany's claim on Zudetland and Gdansk just because they were its historical lands caused burst of World War II! History is full of wars which broke up because of claims of states on their historical lands. If an item like the aforementioned Armenian item were present in the lawbook of Mexico claiming that Texas, Arizonna, New Mexico and California which were historical lands of Mexico, belonged to Mexico but invaded, would the American tolerate it?

Therefore the world should not overlook Armenia’s aggressivity, which is hidden behind their role of victim and should think about the price of their support to the Armenians very well.
Posted by aylinata, Friday, 2 May 2008 11:08:14 PM
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The documents the Armenians present to prove that genocide occurred consists of many forgeries. For example:



1) The number of Armenians who were relocated:

The number of the Armenians who were relocated was reported as 600-700 thousand by Boğos Nubar Pasha who attended to the talks of Sevres Treaty as a chief of Armenians. However the number of relocated Armenians is given as 1.5 million by some Armenian sources and 2 and even 2.5 million by some others.

2) Aram Andonian’s book (The telegrams which were claimed to have been sent by Talat Pasha to order the massacre of the Armenians which were pressed in the book of Aram Andonian in 1920, in three languages): It was proven by both the Turkish and foreign historians that these telegrams were fake too.

After these telegrams were published in Daily Telegraph in England, in 1922, the English Foreign Ministry made a scrutiny and denounced that they were prepared by an Armenian association.

3) Diary of American Ambassador Morgenthau published in 1918. Professor Heath Lowry, an American historian from Princeton University displayed that the events depicted in the book depended on lies or half true events, by comparing the information Ambassador Morgenthau sent to American Foreign Ministry, with those written in the diary, in his book entitled ‘The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story’, in 1990 .

4) The cover photograph of the book of Tessa Hoffmann: Tessa Hoffmann printed the painting of Russian artist Vasili Vereshchagin depicting a mass of skulls which was painted in 1871, as if it were the photograph of 1915 Armenian genocide, in the cover of his book and had to admit his forgery during the trial of Doğu Perinçek held in Switzerland in March 2007, in which he was listened as a wittness
Posted by mustafa ka, Saturday, 3 May 2008 12:26:02 AM
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Interesting article. And from the posts it again demonstrates that history changes perspective depending on the viewpoint. Australians should well understand this considering our own history.

That's why, regardless of what may be the official, or generally understood to be the truthful version of history, it is concerning when laws are made to prohibit an alternative view. It is not even so much an issue of free speech.

How can a view that might be erroneous be corrected if it has to stay underground? Making expressing a particular view punishable by law does not make it go away or even make it more wrong, you know, as opposed to just a little wrong.

Also by strenuously denying any other voices will not alter what happened. It will not diminish the suffering of any individual.

Maybe by listening to the other side, by seeing how something horrible was justified at the time will make us more alert to similar arguments today and prevent genocide from occurring in the first place.

We are all getting steamed up about 'true' versions of history without acknowledging that the very atrocities we condemn are still happening today and will continue to happen. Official versions of which future historians could be jailed for. It is insane.

Creating a law against deniers of anything does not diminish the culpability of those standing by pleading it didn't concern me.

However unpalatable, the actions of peoples in every historical event made perfect sense to all the players on all sides. There is no such thing as the 'good' guys and the 'bad' guys. That only happens in B grade movies.
Posted by yvonne, Saturday, 3 May 2008 3:44:08 PM
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I wonder how easily people who advocate human rights, peace and freedom of speech forgot all the following:

Did the Armenians not establish outlawed terrorist organizations ASALA, JCAG (Justice Commandos for Armenian Genocide) and ARA (Armenian Revolutionary Army) and did they not perform dozens of murders and hundreds of terrorist activities? Because of these Armenian terrorist organization’s activities, did 70 people not die (39 of whom being innocent Turkish diplomats); were 524 people not wounded; were 105 not pledged? Additionally did these organizations not perform 208 bombing activities during 1975-1986? Then, they did not stop; they only passed on their trade to kill Turkish people to the PKK.

What did the American Armenians do when Armenian Yanıkyan, who murdered the Turkish diplomats Mehmet Baydar and Bahadir Demir in Santa Barbara, California and surrendered the police (and inspired the formation of ASALA afterwards) ? The Armenians gathered around the district and SALUTED the murderer!

The Armenian criminal of Orly Airport massacre, Karapetyan, a member of ASALA, who was imprisoned for 18 years but set free by France, Armenians’ ally in crime, returned to Armenia in May 2001, he was welcomed by the then Armenian prime minister A.Margaryan, the Armenian folk and journalists who applauded him as if he were a national hero. A. Margaryan told that he appreciated this hero’s service for his country. Armenian Yerivan municipality provided work and house for the MURDERER (www.prima-news.ru/news/articles/2001/9/13/15705.html)

A monument of Tehleryan, the murderer of Talat Pasha was erected in Yerivan in 2006 (Milliyet March 17,2006 and Agos March 24, 2006)

Mourad Topalian, ex-leader of Armenian National Committee of America was sentenced to 36 months in prison for his complicity in bombing the Turkish mission at the United Nations. In spite of this, he was not labeled a terrorist by Armenian Americans.

In the lecture of Richard G Hovannisian, held in Florida Atlantic University, on April 2, 2008, one Armenian woman told that the Armenians should have killed more Turkish diplomats!........
Posted by Zekiye, Saturday, 3 May 2008 11:36:28 PM
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.....The inadequacy of the international community to give honest and evidence-based responses to the massacres inflicted upon Turks/Muslims by the Armenians in Anatolia in the 1st World War, and its tolerance to aforementioned Armenian terrorism, led the Armenians to perform new Turkish massacres during their invasion of the Azerbaijani territory in 1992. The genocide of the Azarbaijani Turks by the Armenians in Hocali; was witnessed by the European journalists: One woman’s fingers were plucked and two men’s skins were flayed. (The Economist March 7, 1992, p.48), some were burned, some of the bodies were destroyed (New Republic Vol 206, No 14, April 6, 1992, p.11); more than 1000 Azarbaijani Turks were massacred (‘Faces of Massacre’ Newsweek, March 16, 1992; ‘Massacre by Armenians Being Reported’. The New York Times, March 3, 1992)].

Here are other examples showing that the Armenians have adopted the language of violence as a life style:

The Armenians committed sabotage upon the house of American historian Stanford J Shaw just because he declared that Armenian genocide did not occur in 1977. They also murdered their own chairman of assembly Karen Demirciyan and prime minister Vazgen Sarkisyan in the Armenian Parliament building, in 1999. (http://raufray.worldpress.com/2008/03/14/armenianterror)

Turkish prime minister and Turkish Assembly several times suggested Armenia to discuss these events together with historians from both sides and even historians from other countries. Armenia persistently refused. By making the parliaments pressure to pass genocide resolutions, Armenia aims to bypass historical realities and wants to escape from facing with its own history unlike Turkey.
Therefore, people and countries who support Armenia in its policy, foster and approve violence which had become Armenian national language, instead of supporting dialogue and peace for other countries.

PC: But, when Hrant Dink was murdered, Turkish people, president, all members of goverment, bureaucrats from all levels, journalists sincerely mourned and condemned the murderer. Millions of Turkish citizens gathered in his funeral ceremony and shouted as ‘we are all Armenian’ with tears. Including the annual Press Freedom Award of Turkish Journalist Association, Hrant Dink was awarded with many prizes, after his death.
Posted by Zekiye, Saturday, 3 May 2008 11:40:10 PM
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This is becoming tedious.

"Passy" and "Seneca" . . .

For anyone to claim that collective knowledge about past events should be set in stone . . . that there is nothing more to be discovered . . . that all the "truths" are established . . . that the "sacred cows" cannot be questioned because doing so may hurt someone's feelings . . . is as arrogant as saying we have discovered everything there is to know about physics, or medicine or the origin of the universe. It is absurd. I don't believe in "sacred cows" . . . period, even if questioning those sacred cows causes "offense" to someone else. Verbal or written "offense" is, almost always, in the subjective eye and ear of the beholder. I can't count the number of times I have caused "offense" to some hyper-sensitive soul because THEIR definition of an adjective that I used to describe something had a different emotional connotation than my definition of the SAME word. I'm not psychic. Am I supposed to walk around in a state of fear about offending people because of the possibility they may misinterpret an honest expression of OPINION as a personal insult? I get annoyed and offended by "Passy"s" Marxist dogma everytime he puts a word to a page, but I would not dream of suppressing his right to do so . . . as long as he does not cause me PHYSICAL harm.
Look, this is not rocket science folks. If someone is so emotionally fragile as to fall apart over WORDS, how in heaven's name are they going to survive in this world? Earth is not a monastery. I have a pretty thick skin, and I have been insulted many times by people who have called me "stupid" simply because I expressed an opinion different than their own. So what? The world did not come to an end.
Posted by sonofeire, Monday, 5 May 2008 11:09:21 AM
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It was Churchill early in WW2 who declared that he preferred his top generals to have a thorough knowledge of historical strategy right back to the Greeks.

No doubt Churchill's grave mistake over giving the order for the alled attack on Gallipoli early in WW1 had got conveniently stuck in his mind.

However, though a knowledge of historical strategy is all-important for leaders, it is surprising how many of our leaders pattern the needed strategy for today on lessons they say of early WW2.

Rather than an obvious build-up and takeovers by the Nazi forces, we have had much smaller incidents such as the 9/11 attack, the Americans putting on such a show as if their whole nation was to be taken over.

Similar to the overdone occupation of Iraq, which is now in the position that Saddam's Sunni forces our allies went into defeat because they were so cruel to the Shias, are now on the American side trying to defeat Iraqi Shias whom apparently got fed up with the Americans trying to save them?

With much of the blame now being lofted on Shia Iran, even academic historians are wondering what warlike events back in history could be similar to it?

Of course, we might get over it by placing the whole blame on Islam, or even Mahomet.

Or why not on Christianity which hasn't proven as snow white as it's Angel's wings neither?
Posted by bushbred, Thursday, 8 May 2008 5:33:50 PM
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We might ask where do genuine historical laws come in below?

It has been asked in the Guardian newspaper recently why the Americans have such a love of war?

Maybe the same can be asked of the Islamics?

Also historically the white Western races are descended from the warlike barbarians over the Alps, as the Romans called the Germanics.

Also the mostly Arab Islamics are descended from barborous Arabic tribes.

The British Germanics of a smallish island state, have proven themselves as seafarers as well as ruthless colonialists, becoming a powerful global entity, to colonise North America, beginning what is now not only the independent entity of the United States, but today the world’s ever strongest power.

From the above we hsve the horrific situation in the Middle East, seemingly consisting of tribal problems between mostly whites and dusky off-whites, which according to the United States President, George W Bush, is mostly about right and wrong.

But should a leader of a nation based on the colonial subjugation of native inhabitants be lawfully trusted to make decisions about right or wrong?

Indeed, it was Immanuel Kant, German philosopher who declared back in the late 17th century, that not one personage, nor one nation even under God should ever be trusted to have dictatorship over this world?

Thus it was the League of Nations followed by the present United Nations, both beginning with a belief in a democratic representation of Kantian global philosophy, which was simply an elected federation of world nations of arranged equal power, with multilateral shared leadership.

But the problem has never ever been solved of how to prevent one ruthless big power unlawfully ruling the world, and the only nation allowed to have an unlimited armoury - as it was to some measure with Britain with the League' and to the full right now with the United States from the UN?
Posted by bushbred, Friday, 16 May 2008 7:07:10 PM







Turkish Immigrants: Perpetrators or Victims? by Lauren Huddleston
In 1961, Germany had to outsource for labor for the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the Federal Republic recruited Turks for the foreign worker program. Originally, this arrangement was temporary, so no efforts were made between the German and Turkish cultures for integration. But by the time the construction of the Berlin Wall was finished, most Turks had not made enough money to move back to Turkey and start over. Today, 2.4 million Turks constitute Germany’s largest minority group.

According to an article in The Economist, the German and Turkish cultures have yet to blend. After September 11th, German natives have begun to view this ethnic group, particularly the youth, as terrorist threats. The Turkish presence in Germany presents several issues:

Turks are needed as a cheap work force for Germany’s economy, yet 29% of the migrants are unemployed.
Turkish migrants are a large source of violence and crime.
36% of Turkish migrants hover near the poverty line.
Turkish students fail to keep up with German natives in school.

However, the Harvard International Review states that the cause of these issues lies in the migrants’ unequal opportunities. The German government’s neglect of necessary integration efforts has only fueled the animosity between the two cultures. If the government would try to understand the Turks’ plight, they could find a solution to help the Turkish youth have equal opportunities to make a life in Germany. The article does not specify the obstacles which the Turkish youth face nor suggest methods by which the German government may integrate them.

The two articles mentioned debate the issue of immigration in Germany in a similar fashion to debates about America’s foreign policy. The Economist presents Turkish migrants much like the way conservative Americans view Arabs:
Turkish migrants are threats to Germans’ security, and
They are violent perpetrators in German society.

However, the Harvard International Review takes the more leftist, politically correct stance in a similary fashion to the affirmative action advocates in the States:
The Turkish migrants deserve a equal opportunities, and
They are victims of social injustice and unfortunate circumstances.

facweb.furman.edu/~mhuntsberger/
--------------------
Neglect's Costs, Turkish Integration in Germany, by Heather Horn
From A Tilted Balance, Vol. 29 (1) - Spring 2007

Heather Horn is a staff writer at the Harvard International Review.

The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 exacerbated a labor shortage in West Germany. In response, the Federal Republic decided to include Turkey in its foreign worker recruitment program. In the following years, Turks were allowed into Germany as guest workers with the expectation that their stay would be temporary.

Today, Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany, constituting 2.4 percent of the population. They also form a large part of the growing Muslim presence in Germany. Owing to a change in nationality laws in 1999, many are now German citizens, but natives and immigrants continue to clash. Unfortunately, the small-scale nature of recent integration initiatives suggests that the German government fails to recognize the deep roots of this problem.

The task?s difficulty results partly from longstanding native opposition to immigration, which has left Germany ill-equipped to deal with integration problems. Turkish Germans suffer from obstacles common to immigrants, including the language barrier, a lower economic starting point, and racism. In 1993, Science reported that Turkish teenagers were eight times less likely to attend university than were their German counterparts. Even now, Turks tend to live in all-immigrant, lower-income communities feared by native Germans as crime zones. Sadly, this perception is sometimes quite close to reality, and it lends lamentable support to prejudices. A study by the Bavarian police reported in April 1998 that crime rates among foreigners between the ages of 14 and 17 tended to be three times higher than that among native Germans.

Gangs are a particularly problematic source of German fears. In 2003, a gang of mostly Turkish immigrant schoolboys was accused, and the majority convicted, of organized violence against German classmates. One local politician was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying that Turkish communities themselves produced violent children, citing in particular a Turkish culture of machismo. Such prejudiced views of cultural differences only worsen the integration problem, and, unfortunately, the violence between Germans and Turks is not only one-way. In May 1993, five Turks died at the hands of neo-Nazi arsonists. Sadly, neither the example of gang violence against Germans nor the incidences of racially motivated attacks against Turks are uncommon.

Conflict between Turkish and native Germans is the brutal consequence of neglect of the integration problem and highlights the need for change. Perhaps the best effort yet?though not directly addressing the Turkish problem?has been the German government?s recently initiated two-year program of enhanced effort toward Muslim integration, which began with a conference with Muslim leaders in September 2006. Goals include setting up three committees for the discussion of various issues surrounding integration. The initiative, however, is lacking in concrete details and is not sufficient to address Turkish integration. Decades of governmental neglect have made German fears about their immigrant neighbors self-fulfilling. Barred from becoming fully accepted members of the community by racism, economic distress, and, until recently, nationality laws and language barriers, teenage Turks roam the streets in all-immigrant gangs, increasing German fear and suspicion.

Alienated Muslim youths are considered by scholars and policymakers alike to be the primary source of homegrown terrorism. Germany, therefore, must make integrating Turkish communities a top priority. Efforts by both sides must go beyond the cosmetic if either side wishes to see the desired results. The process will be painful, but without decisive action, the Turkish integration problem will only continue to fester.