- Turkey Better Have A Plan B For Armenian 'Genocide' Bill, Say Campaign Advisors
- Ankara weighing challenges of probable Obama period
- What We Are Seeing Is A Despicable Rewriting Of History Aimed At Absolving Perpetrators Of Mass Murder
- Georgian Muhajirs Were Privy To Mass Killings Of Armenians And Greeks In Ottoman Empire
- Advisers: Turkey Needs A Plan B
- Ankara Deplores France's Referendum Clause
- Turkish American Legal Defense Fund Responds to Akcam Hiring at Clark University
- Call for Opening Archives Has Echoed All Over the World
- Pamuk Backs Turkey On The Pitch
- The Knesset Goes On Holiday, But Ankara Has Already Started Putting Pressure On Israel In The Issue Of The Armenian Genocide
- Komitas String Quartet Set For Istanbul Performance
- Lake Van’s Forgotten North Shore
- Slovakian Foreign Minister Objects To ‘armenian Genocide’ Bill In Parliament
- An Old Neighborhood Through Camera Lenses
- Local Musician Applies To Become Armenian
- Çarsi Puts An End To Its 25-Year-Long Story
- Slovak Foreign Minister Backs Turkey Over Genocide Bill
- Tdn's Ziflioglu Honored In Athens
- Black Sea Union A 'Chance' For Turkey To Prove Itself
- No Records From Gulbenkian About A Museum In Istanbul
- Virtual `Armenian Turkish Youth Club' Will Be Created by Mesrob Muthafyan
- The History Of France's Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide Traces Back To 1915
- Armenian Lobby Scarcely More Powerful Than The Turkish One
- Kubis Explains Slovak Govt's View Of Armenian Genocide To Babacan
- Armenian Youth In Turkey And Opposite
- Armenians in Turkey Vardan Grigoryan
- Analysis: Armenian Authorities Continue To Send Mixed Signals
- Georgia Pursues Anti-Armenian Policy During Past 2 Centuries
- Interview: Fatih Akin, Turkish Atom Egoyan, With Better Hair, R.M. Vaughan
- Lobbying The Turkish Way
- TABDC: Discussion Of Genocide And Karabakh Issues Make Turkey-Armenia Reconciliation Possible
- Ancc: Turkey Has Distinction Of Being World’s Worst Perpetrator Of Crimes Against Humanity
- Monument To Armenian Genocide Victims Unveiled In Cyprus
- Book review; ‘My Grandmother: A Memoir’ by Fethiye Çetin
- Reading Turks’ Minds Through ‘Valley’
- Award-Winning Scientist Back At Work To Save Endangered Lake
- Turkish Neo-Nationalists And Global Ultra-Nationalists Form An Axis Of Evil
- The Question Babacan Wasn’t Asked In The European Parliament
Turkey Better Have A Plan B For Armenian 'Genocide' Bill, Say Campaign Advisors
TDN June 4, 2008
Turkey needs a plan B in the likelihood the U.S. Congress passes a resolution endorsing Armenians claims of genocide under a new administration, said campaign advisers for the presidential candidates of both American political parties Monday.
Richard Burt, campaign advisor to Republican nominee John McCain, and Philip Gordon, campaign advisor to likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama, discussed the implications of a Republican or Democratic victory for Turkish-American relations at a panel organized by the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD) and the Brookings Institute.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's top presidential candidate, has pledged to recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide" if elected president, as does his competitor Hillary Clinton.
Though not excluding a possibility of a change of heart, given that politicians act differently in practice than they claim in their election campaigns, Gordon advised the Turkish government to have a plan B on the "genocide" resolution issue. Marc Parris, a former American ambassador to Ankara, argued that Democrats will become stronger in Congress and said the Turkish government should be prepared.
Meanwhile, a U.S. administration under Obama will be more sensitive to developments in Turkish democracy compared to an administration under McCain, which may be inclined to give less importance to idealist values and care more about national interests, said Gordon. “It will be hard to overlook steps that did not look democratic,” said Gordon.
Both Gordon and McCain said the United States will be less interventionist and will consult more with its allies, which will require its allies to commit more to solving world problems themselves. “You will not hear McCain saying, ‘You are either with us or not.'”
A McCain administration will try harder to consult with its allies but in return will expect greater cooperation from them, including Turkey,” said Burt, a former official from the U.S. State Department. Whereas Burt argued that both Democrats and Republicans see Turkey as a traditional ally, Gordon said the new administration will have to devise a new policy on Turkey and cannot afford to continue overlooking Turkey in favor of other priorities.
U.S: Turkey Needs Plan B If Congress Passes Armenian Genocide Resolution
04.06.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkey needs a plan B in the likelihood the U.S. Congress passes a resolution endorsing Armenian Genocide under a new administration, said campaign advisers for the presidential candidates of both American political parties.
Richard Burt, campaign advisor to Republican nominee John McCain, and Philip Gordon, campaign advisor to likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama, discussed the implications of a Republican or Democratic victory for Turkish-American relations at a panel organized by the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD) and the Brookings Institute.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s top presidential candidate, has pledged to recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as Genocide if elected president, as does his competitor Hillary Clinton.
Though not excluding a possibility of a change of heart, given that politicians act differently in practice than they claim in their election campaigns, Gordon advised the Turkish government to have a plan B on the Genocide Resolution issue. Marc Parris, a former American ambassador to Ankara, argued that Democrats will become stronger in Congress and said the Turkish government should be prepared.
Whereas Burt argued that both Democrats and Republicans see Turkey as a traditional ally, Gordon said the new administration will have to devise a new policy on Turkey and cannot afford to continue overlooking Turkey in favor of other priorities, the Turkish Daily News reports.
Ankara weighing challenges of probable Obama period
As Barack Obama takes a huge stride toward becoming the first black US president, the relative unpredictability of changes in US foreign policy in the event of his eventual presidency has led to concern in the Turkish capital -- particularly due to Obama's inexperience compared to other candidates and his clear support for the official recognition of an alleged genocide of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination on a promise of hope and change for Americans weary from years of war. Obama's victory sets up a November election contest against Republican John McCain that looks to be a clash of generations as well as a debate on Iraq, The Associated Press said yesterday -- summarizing what the contest between Obama and McCain means for the US.
As for Turkish decision makers and politicians, there are a number of reasons to take into consideration while weighing between possible McCain and Obama terms. Apparently, McCain's experience, including his knowledge of Turkey's strategic importance for Washington as well as his friendly attitude toward Turkey concerning Armenian allegations of genocide, make him a more favorable candidate for Ankara. Nevertheless, Turkish officials have ruled out such a choice while also playing down any kind of uneasiness with Obama's foreign policy rhetoric.
"This is an issue for US Democrats, and Turkey does not have any particular preference between Obama and McCain. Obama's remarks on the Armenian issue are actually not very different from those of past presidential candidates. It is a strong possibility that he will try to be more balanced on this issue once elected," Suat Kınıklıoğlu, a deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), told Today's Zaman yesterday.
Obama says he would withdraw US troops within 16 months of taking office in January 2009. Some analysts say that this is a disadvantage for Turkey as a quick withdrawal of US forces would leave it to deal with a neighbor in an even deeper quagmire.
Kınıklıoğlu, who was head of the German Marshall Fund's Turkey office before being elected to Parliament in July 2007, believes that a quick withdrawal is not in favor of US interests and that any move to withdraw if Obama is elected would be on a small scale in order to satisfy domestic expectations in the US.
On the Iranian issue, another important foreign policy issue of close interest to Ankara, Obama and McCain have very different approaches.
McCain backs much tougher financial and trade sanctions against Tehran, while Obama's position is open to dialogue and seems closer to Turkey. Ankara firmly favors the resolution of the Iranian nuclear dispute via diplomatic means.
Kınıklıoğlu said he believed that McCain would not ignore regional partners' stances on the Iran issue, particularly that of Turkey. "He would not like to repeat mistakes made ahead of the Iraqi war by ignoring regional partners," he said.
Egemen Bağış, a top foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, sounded confident concerning probable effects of the outcome of US presidential election over US policy toward Turkey.
"Whoever is elected in the end, we will respect the outcome of the US citizens' will in compliance with our stance asking for respect for democracy in Turkey. Nonetheless, sitting in the presidential chair has always made one better understand Turkey's strategic importance to the US and its people, no matter what the president's ideology may be," Bağış, in charge of the AK Party's foreign policy affairs, added. 05 June 2008, EMİNE KART Zaman
SPLC: What We Are Seeing Is A Despicable Rewriting Of History Aimed At Absolving Perpetrators Of Mass Murder
04.06.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ A network of U.S. scholars funded by the government of Turkey is part of an energetic campaign to cover up the Turkish genocide of as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I, an effort that has found success in Congress and the White House, according to the latest issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, released today.
As the SPLC told PanARMENIAN.Net, despite abundant documentation and eyewitness accounts of the slaughter of Armenians by Turkey’s Ottoman government between 1915 and 1918, the current Turkish government has paid lobbyists and funded the network of American academics, many of whom dismiss or rationalize the killing. Genocide scholars agree that the slaughter was, indeed, a genocide.
“What we are seeing is a despicable rewriting of history aimed at absolving the perpetrators of mass murder and demonizing their victims,” said Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, a quarterly investigative journal that monitors the radical right. “It is no different than the Holocaust denial of Nazi sympathizers who claim there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz and Treblinka.”
The cover story recounts a March 2007 event where Guenter Lewy, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, told a Harvard University audience that the Turkish government at the time may have been guilty of ineptness and “bungling misrule” - but not genocide. Lewy, one of the most active members of the network of academics, has made similar revisionist claims in speeches at other campuses and in his 2005 book, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide.
As early as 1985, Turkey bought full-page newspaper advertisements to publish a letter questioning the genocide that was signed by 69 American scholars. All 69 had received funding that year from the Turkish government or its proxies.
As the only Muslim-dominated country in a troubled region to call the United States and Israel its allies, Turkey also has wielded significant political influence in Washington. Last fall, lobbyists on the Turkish payroll stymied a congressional resolution commemorating the genocide by persuading more than 100 lawmakers to reverse their positions. Even President Bush flip-flopped on a 2000 campaign promise to back official U.S. recognition of the genocide.
“Denial is the final stage of genocide,” Gregory Stanton, president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, told the Intelligence Report. “It is a continuing attempt to destroy the victim group psychologically and culturally, to deny its members even the memory of the murders of their relatives. That is what the Turkish government today is doing to Armenians around the world.”
Georgian Muhajirs Were Privy To Mass Killings Of Armenians And Greeks In Ottoman Empire
04.06.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Georgian muhajirs were privy to mass killings of Armenians and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire, a Turkish historian said at “Georgian Muslims and the Ottoman Empire. The end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th centuries” conference in Tbilisi.
“Leader of Georgian Muslims Ali-Pasha Tavgerizade was involved in forming armed groupings,” Oktay Özel said in his report titled “The emigration of the Muslim population of Adjara to Anatolia and the Russian-Ottoman war of 1877-78.”
Touching on relations between Georgian Muslims and Christians in Asia Minor, Dr Ozel said that Georgian Muslims were privy to mass killing of Armenians and Greeks in Ottoman Empire. “It’s hard to say when Georgians were fulfilling the orders of the Ottoman government and when they were driven by their bellicose spirit but they were killing along with Cherkess and other muhajirs. Most likely, they wanted to demonstrate their loyalty to the Sultan,” he said.
Advisers: Turkey Needs A Plan B by Michael van der Galien on June 4, 2008
Turkish Daily News reports that advisers of the Turkish government have told them that since it’s likely that Americans will elect Barack Obama president, Turkey needs a “Plan B” for the Armenian issue. Obama is surrounded by people who believe that what happened to Armenians constitutes genocide and who feel it’s important for the US to recognize it as such.
Richard Burt, campaign advisor to Republican nominee John McCain, and Philip Gordon, campaign advisor to likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama, discussed the implications of a Republican or Democratic victory for Turkish-American relations at a panel organized by the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSIAD) and the Brookings Institute.
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s top presidential candidate, has pledged to recognize the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as “genocide” if elected president, as does his competitor Hillary Clinton.
Though not excluding a possibility of a change of heart, given that politicians act differently in practice than they claim in their election campaigns, Gordon advised the Turkish government to have a plan B on the “genocide” resolution issue. Marc Parris, a former American ambassador to Ankara, argued that Democrats will become stronger in Congress and said the Turkish government should be prepared.
I agree with all the above. The Democrats seem to adhere to the somewhat awkward philosophy that ignoring America’s mistakes, but exaggerating things done by others hundreds of years ago, leads to a better world. Not only that, many Democrats are also influenced by Armenian voters and pressure groups; see, for instance, Nancy Pelosi.
But there’s more to these elections for Turkey than the events of 1915 of course; there’s also democracy within Turkey, the PKK problem, and foreign mingling in Turkey’s domestic affairs. According to the advisers, John McCain would be quite an objective president when it comes to Turkey, and not idealistic; he would do what he considers to be in America’s interest, he wouldn’t force Turkey to become a second France if Turks don’t want to do that or if it would lead to instability within Turkey.
Obama, these advisers say, will choose a different approach; he, and Democrats in general, are more idealistic. They are heirs to the Enlightenment; they think that the principles advocated in the West can be applied everywhere. And that when they are applied everywhere, all will be well. Not only that, they also consider it their duty to force these principles upon other people, thus say the advisers.
I basically agree with them; a McCain administration would be best for Turkey, which makes it rather amusing that most Turks favor Obama. They think that Obama would be more sensitive to Turks, and to the Muslim world. They forget, however, that of the two, McCain clearly has the more pragmatical record.
In either case, Turkey needs to come up with a different strategy. Both on the Armenian issue, and on general issues. With regards to the events of 1915 and World War I, Turkey should finally start an education offensive; the West behaved terribly arrogant, selfish and cold before, during and immediately after World War I. They wanted to conquer the Ottoman Empire, and thus Turkey (Anatolia) and divide it between themselves. They wanted to Turks into a conquered people. Anatolia into a colony. In order to do that, they told Armenians to rise up against the Ottomans, taught them nationalism, and gave them weapons and money, promising them that they would get a ‘Greater Armenia’ in return for their treason. They radicalized the Armenians, and especially French troops and Russian troops (assisted by their Armenian allies) misbehaved greatly; conquering entire parts of the Ottoman Empire, and ethnically cleansing the lands from Muslim Turks.
From Turkey’s perspective, World War I almost doomed the end for Turkish independence. And to objective observers, it did as well. Turks were massacred en masse, and Anatolia was transformed into a colony. Turks had no other choice but to fight back; they were fighting for the survival of their nation and for the survival of themselves, as a people.
Turkey has to share this part of history with the world. The evil forces in this story aren’t the Ottomans; they were Western powers who decided, around 1850, that they would divide the Ottoman Empire between themselves. In the West, we’d rather ignore that part of our history, but Turks should point it out time and again.
And Democrats may be more sensitive to such an argument.
1 leo June 4, 2008
Michael van der Galien I can’t even believe your trying to make a case for a murder…I can’t imagine anyone trying make a case or excuse for the nazis killing the jews and you have made a case why the Turks killed the Armenians…First you have to stop trying to be politically incorrect and start speaking the truth about a subject that can’t even been discussed in Turkey. Also you need to visit a Church in Turkey and see what they have done to it…People don’t know that Churches in Turkey have been converted to Mosque.
2 Hans June 4, 2008
I am shocked by an ‘expert’ on Armenian and American affairs his writings, who never lived in these countries or regions. This is typical ‘we are Dutch, we know it all behaviour’.
Dutch in Istanbul ( 6 years) before 6 years in NYC, LA, Miami, and 10 years in various European countries….
3 Global Hero June 4, 2008
Yet an other strategy for Turkey? Turkey does not need strategies, it needs to admit it’s past. It is wasting millions of dollars in revisionist activities and yet loosing the battle. Turkey will be much better off by recognizing the genocide and moving on.
4 Kemal June 4, 2008
If Armenians want someone to blame for the war they lost against the Ottoman Empire, they should complain to those that exploited them and then abandoned them: England, France and Russia.
Funny how Armenian genocide proponents constantly avoid discussing the Ottoman Muslims and Jews their revolutionaries killed both before, during and after WWI.
If you ask Armenian genocide proponents, they are justified in all that they do or ever did. Armenians had the right to revolt, declare war on the Ottoman Empire, ethnically cleanse southeastern Anatolia and massacre unarmed civilians. The Ottomans, however, had no right to defend their people or their lands. How racist, self-serving and distorted is that?
Leo - you tell us, how many mosques are there in Armenia? The majority of the population that lived in the lands people now call Armenia were primarily Ottoman Muslims up until the Russians and Armenians ethnically cleansed and massacred them away in the 1800s. So tell us, how many mosques remain?
How many mosques remain in Khojaly? Or, have they all been destroyed as part of the most recent cultural genocide committed by Armenians against Azeri Turks?
And what do you know what can or cannot be spoken in Turkey? They speak and write about this issue all the time. Even the Turkish Prime Minister speaks about it, discusses openly his offer for a joint history commission.
Then there’s Halacoglu’s offer to pay $20M to catalog the Dashnak archives that the poor American Armenian that claimed it did not have the funds or manpower to catalog–that is until Halacoglu made his offer. Now Armenians claim those archives have been open all along, but only to "accredited historians", which remains undefined but appears to require accepting the genocide thesis before access is granted.
Leo, Michael makes a case for the truth.
5 Kemal June 4, 2008
Turkey will not be blackmailed by the Armenian Diaspora’s lobbying strategies, nor will it be pressured by Armenian support of terrorists, like ASALA and the Justice Commandos or the PKK, that kill innocent people.
The only way Armenians will ever see any kind of acceptance of this issue is by taking their case to court–which, of course, they will never do because they’ve forged too many documents, rely upon false quotes, war time propaganda that doesn’t stand a chance when scrutinized under cross examination and don’t have any credible evidence of the intent to commit genocide.
6 Lucrèce June 4, 2008
"If Armenians want someone to blame for the war they lost against the Ottoman Empire, they should complain to those that exploited them and then abandoned them: England, France and Russia."
Vous pouvez ajouter la FRA-Dachnak, le Hintchak et l’aile radicale de l’Armenakan/Ramkavar. Il est extraordinaire que ces formations politiques, dont l’irresponsabilité a coûté la vie des centaines de milliers d’Arméniens, osent parler au nom des victimes.
"The majority of the population that lived in the lands people now call Armenia were primarily Ottoman Muslims up until the Russians and Armenians ethnically cleansed and massacred them away in the 1800s."
Oui, et pas seulement au XIXe siècle d’ailleurs, les massacres ont continué jusqu’en 1920, et les déplacements de population jusqu’à l’époque de Staline, au moins.
Beginning with the war of 1828-29, the Russians promised privileges and autonomy (a promise still undelivered) to the Armenians, in return for Armenian support against the Turks. Twice, in 1828 and 1854, the Russians invaded Eastern Anatolia, each time favoring local Armenians, and twice they left, taking 100,000 Armenian sympathizers with them to the Caucasus, where the Armenians took the place of emigrant and deceased Turks. (The province of Erivan, the present-day Soviet Republic of Armenia, was 80% Muslim before 1828). In the 1877-78 war, the Russians took and held the Kars-Ardahan region, driving out Muslims and providing a home for 70,000 Armenians in the region, many of whom came from other areas of Anatolia. Perhaps 60,000 Armenians went to the Russian Caucasus in the troubles of 1895-96. Finally, the migration of the World War I era resulted in an almost even exchange of 400,000 Armenians from Eastern Anatolia for 400,000 Muslims from the Caucasus.
"Or, have they all been destroyed as part of the most recent cultural genocide committed by Armenians against Azeri Turks?"
L’expression génocide culturel ne veut pas dire grand-chose, et contribue à dévaluer le mot génocide. Pour être rigoureux, il vaut mieux parler de purification ethnique (ethnic cleansing), et décrire les faits, tout simplement. C’est tout à fait suffisant pour rendre compte de l’horreur et de l’inhumanité.
Des chiffres sur les destructions et autres crimes commis par les forces arméniennes :
"Now Armenians claim those archives have been open all along, but only to "accredited historians", which remains undefined but appears to require accepting the genocide thesis before access is granted."
Exact, M. Lewy n’a pas pu accéder aux archives du parti dachnak.
7 Michael van der Galien June 4, 2008
Lucréce; i’m going to have to ask you to write in English. Our readers, most of them, don’t speak French and this is an English-language forum. Appreciate you commenting, but please do so in English.
8 Lucrèce June 4, 2008
Sorry, mister van der Galien, but my pratice of English language is very irregular (except reading), and the writting of a relatively long text, about complex questions, and especially in the evening (11:15 p. m. in Paris), is not easy. However, I will try to accommodate your request.
9 Jason June 4, 2008
Here is a useful tool to assist: babelfish.yahoo.com/
June 5, 2008
The next President of the United States will mostly likely be Democratic Barack Obama. Turkey has been warned to have a plan ‘B’ regarding the Armenians’ allegations when the new administration takes over by advisors of both McCain and Obama. And as always, Turkey has taken this with a grain of salt and decided to basically, do nothing. Ironically,while Armenians worldwide accuse Turkey of bribing Politicians and ‘paying into denialist’ campaigns, Turkish-Americans believe Turkey is NOT doing enough fighting these accusations! It is true that Turkey has offered to have their Ottoman archives examined by neutral Historians and it is a fact that she is willing to take the genocide issue into International Courts and has also offered to have a historical review of all Ottoman archives together with Armenia,Turkey and the ARF …but to no avail.
The world is not even aware of the fact that Armenia refuses to acknowledge this offer and has flatly refused to take the ‘accused’ to court, which is very strange, by any country or victim to not take the perputrator to court…but I guess when you have had so many countries pass illegal genocide Resolutions against Turkey already..there really isn’t any need to do so! Yes, illegal…The term genocide can only be applied to those countries that have been tried and found guilty by the verdict of a jury and court, according to the United Nations. So these Resolutions are direct violations against the U.N Policy on genocide…but , people are not aware of this little glitch either I guess. So how effective are these resolutions against Turkey then? Well, enough that schools are adopting genocide courses to their curriculum and enough that racism and hatred against Turks and Turkish-Americans have escalated and anti-Turkish hostility is on the rise everywhere…..
This is a great satisfaction to the Armenians. To have the world turn against Turks has been the top of their list of genocide propoganda ‘do’s’. If the priority of the Armenian Diaspora had been in aiding Armenia instead of pouring millions into its genocide campaign,she would not be a shrinking country of less then 3 million people today.While the Diaspora is too busy trying to come up with the next propoganda tactic, ethnic Armenians of Armenia are running to Turkey for work and better living conditions. You know, the country that has ‘genocided’ their people…the country that is sooo bad. The country that is GIVING VISAS to Armenians for a better life! Let them continue with their lies and self-pittying slogans of playing victims,because in the end, all they are going to have left is their genocide. No other identity but genocide….No Turkish territories, no Armenia, nothing but being victims to an idea of genocide.
June 5, 2008
Thank you to Jason.
Amanda Akcakoca email@example.com
Another Campaign Against Turkey
As I was walking into work earlier this week I noticed an announcement for a meeting taking place on the Kurds and international law in the same building as my office. Being an inquisitive person and keen to hear new developments on Kurdish-related issues I decided to gatecrash and quietly took a place at the back of the room.
In a very short time it became clear that it was something of a lobbying effort for the removal of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from the EU terrorist list. There was a panel made up of four academics -- one Kurdish woman, Widad Akrawi from Denmark, but originally from northern Iraq; a German, a Swede and an American. These four presented facts to support their view that the PKK is not a terrorist organization but rather a combatant organization currently carrying out an "armed conflict" with Turkey and acting in accordance with international laws and treaties.
They presented a long list of reasons why the PKK should not be classed as a terrorist group -- apparently in line with international humanitarian law -- including: belonging to an organized armed unit or force which forms part of a belligerent party, serving under organized and responsible command, fighting openly on military battlefields, having a fixed and clear distinction from civilian persons (e.g., wearing uniforms that have distinguishing insignias), carry out traditional military operations, carrying arms openly, having military bases and fighting in accordance with the laws and customs of war. I have to say that I was rather surprised by these arguments given that the PKK fighters I have seen never seem to wear any type of uniform, and I would hardly call planting bombs under sun beds or on buses in accordance with the laws of war, never mind the significant number of innocent civilians that have been killed by the PKK. Indeed PKK operatives regularly target areas where there are no Turkish soldiers in sight. It would be hard to define such acts as anything other than terrorism, and I found it hard to believe that well-educated academics were putting their reputations on the line to argue the contrary.
The aim of this campaign is to have the PKK removed from the EU list of recognized terrorist organizations by means of lobbying EU governments and their permanent representations in Brussels, the European Parliament and others with influence as well as by holding such events as this. Needless to say the speakers viewed the move earlier this year by the European Court of Justice to exclude the PKK from the EU's list of terrorist networks as a step in the right direction. However, as EU leaders later clarified, it had been something of a procedural mistake on their part that had led to the court's decision, and the PKK was still very much on the list; there seems very little chance of that changing in the near future.
The speakers, who saw the PKK and Turkey's own Kurdish issue as one and the same, portrayed the EU as only seeing the plight of Turkey's Kurds through Ankara's eyes, with their role being far too weak. They stressed that the EU needs to push Turkey far more vis-à-vis its reform program towards the Kurds, while at the same time the EU should also push Turkey to have face-to-face talks with the PKK. In short the speakers believed that the EU's decision in 2002 to list the PKK as terrorist organization has become a major reason for the continued failure to find a peaceful solution to the problem, given that Turkey continues to refuse to negotiate with terrorists, and asserted that as a result Kurdish people continue to face serious violations of human rights.
I think these people will never be taken seriously, not least because they try to legitimize the actions of the PKK. It is highly unlikely they will find any support in Brussels -- or anywhere else -- for such a ludicrous campaign.
Beril Dedeoglu firstname.lastname@example.org
France, Country Of Inventions
France's Turkey policy necessitates a high level of creativity. In this context, several inventions have been developed to sustain an attitude of "anything but Turkey's EU membership."
Thus Turkey has become a factor to test France's intellectual capacity.
France's first invention was to offer Ankara privileged partnership status, the substance of which nobody seems to know. Moreover, this is not a category that exists within the current EU structures or that is compatible with EU ethics. As such a bizarre status couldn't be proposed officially by the EU, certain people hoped that Turkey would accept it by itself. However, Turkey has categorically refused even to discuss this unethical proposition.
Then, the second invention was put forward, i.e. the Mediterranean Union. France has proposed the establishment of a union of Mediterranean states, granting Turkey the pivotal country role. The purpose of this bright idea was to convince Turkey that the Mediterranean Union is better than the EU. Turkey never understood why it should renounce EU membership for the sake of this strange organization, and it has refused to view it as an alternative to its official EU candidate status. Furthermore, other EU members have also become suspicious of France's real intentions. After a long quarrel, the Mediterranean Union became the Union for the Mediterranean, and every involved actor affirmed that it cannot and will not be used to replace Turkey's EU full membership.
The third invention was to remove the words "membership" and "accession" from EU official documents about Turkey. In other words, France has already asked the EU to adopt a negative stance on Turkey's membership while the latter engages in negotiations as a candidate country. The idea was to give Turkey's candidacy dubious status, expecting Turkey to negotiate without knowing the final objective of negotiations. As expected, Turkey strongly opposed this stance and many EU member countries have declared that this inappropriate attitude was unworthy of the EU.
Hence the fourth invention was announced -- to transfer the authority of the final decision on Turkey's membership from Brussels to Paris. Thus even if all other EU member states approve Turkey's full membership, the verdict will come from French voters. Under current laws France has to organize referendums for every future enlargement, but Paris doesn't want to risk Croatia's or Kosovo's future membership. In brief, French decision makers don't want their nation to refuse everybody, just specific ones. As they cannot give country names, they search objective-looking criteria that would differentiate Turkey from Bosnia, Croatia or Kosovo. They can't call this criteria "religion" because that would be shameful for secular France, nor "culture" because that would be racist. They can't determine a geographical limit either because in that case they would face interrogations about Cyprus. Finally they have noticed that Turkey is a populous country and thus they have said "population." Countries with populations larger than 5 percent of the EU population will have to make it past the referendum if they want to become an EU member. This means that decisions about countries with less than 20 million inhabitants will be made by the politicians, and for the rest the French people will be consulted. So, the solution is simple for France: head counting. Maybe the next invention will be about the shape and the diameter of people's skulls. It's obvious that there are politicians in France eager to "protect" their country from crowded "eastern nations." One wonders when the French people will get fed up with the scare tactics of these politicians.
Ankara Deplores France's Referendum Clause
The Turkish capital has labeled French lawmakers' approval of an amendment to constitutional reforms apparently aiming to block any eventual Turkish membership in the European Union as "odd," while warning Paris over the negative consequences of adoption of the clause by the French Senate on "traditional friendship between the peoples of the two countries."
Under the amendment tabled by deputies from the center-right UMP party, holding a referendum would be obligatory for approving the EU accession of any country whose population exceeds 5 percent of the EU population, which stands at about 500 million. With its population of 70 million, EU candidate Turkey will be affected by the referendum clause.
The French National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, approved the amendment with a 48-21 vote late on Thursday. The provision, if eventually approved by the Senate and a majority of both houses, will make France the first country in the world whose constitution contains clauses specifically targeting a foreign country.
Turkey is annoyed by the "discriminative approach towards Turkey although accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU began with the common target of full membership and with approval of France too," the Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a written statement.
The statement by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Özügergin came in from of a response to an official question.
"It is inevitable that this kind of discriminative approach will harm our bilateral relations and will also have a negative impact on images of Turkey and France in each country as well as on the traditional friendship between the peoples of the two countries," Özügergin said, expressing Turkey's regret over the hostile attitude of certain French politicians. 04 June 2008
ANCA Calls For Congressman Stephen Cohen To End His Shameful Denial Of Armenian Genocide
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian National Committee Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC), the nation’s largest Armenian American political action committee, is calling for Congressman Stephen Cohen (D-TN) to end his shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide. Cohen, a Democrat who represents the Ninth Congressional District in Tennessee, is a known genocide denier who has actively worked to oppose legislation to mark the murder of 1.5 million Armenian Christians who died in the first genocide of the 20th century, the ANCA told PanARMENIAN.Net.
Cohen, a member of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 to a majority African American district in and around Memphis, Tennessee. His victory was largely seen by political pundits and observers as the result of a Democratic primary that included 14 candidates, most of them African Americans, who split the vote, thereby allowing Cohen to prevail. In 2008, the African American community has largely rallied around candidate Nikki Tinker, who is challenging Cohen in a Democratic primary slated for this August.
"Congressman Cohen practices what I charitably call selective amnesia on the Armenian Genocide," commented Cohen’s constituent, Dany Beylerian from Memphis. "He should be ashamed for wantonly kowtowing to a foreign government’s [Republic of Turkey] demand that the premeditated murder of the Armenian people be denied. It is unbelievable that the Congressman talks about the Holocaust and the ongoing genocide in Darfur from one side of his mouth and uses the other to deny the Armenian Genocide," added Beylerian.
On October 17, 2007, just seven days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted the Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res. 106), Cohen joined Congressman John P. Murtha, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense at a press conference to urge the House Leadership to not bring the Armenian Genocide Resolution to the House Floor for a vote. Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), chairman of the Congressional Turkish Caucus, also participated in this genocide denial press conference.
In an October 18, 2007 article by New York Times reporter Carl Hulse, Cohen was quoted explaining his opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution: "I’ve got the compassion for the people, the Armenians that are fighting for their ancestors," said Cohen. "But these are real-life situations, and sometimes your heart has to give in to your head and do what makes sense for your country."
Earlier this month, Cohen was asked at a town hall meeting in Memohis why he has chosen to engage in the ugly and immoral practice of genocide denial. He responded by sharing with his constituents that Congress should not legislate history. In an ironic twist, Cohen has introduced legislation apologizing for slavery, himself promoting the legislating of history.
In answering Beylerian at the town hall meeting, Cohen carefully crafted his statements so as not to use the word "genocide." He claimed that Turkey was too important an ally and referred to the Armenian Genocide as a war between Armenian and Turkey. Knowingly or unknowingly, his response is drawn directly from the genocide denial arguments crafted by firms lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government that are paid over $2 million annually to deny the Armenian Genocide. When pressed whether he would promote the interests of a German government that denies the Holocaust, Cohen did not provide an answer.
Turkish American Legal Defense Fund Responds to Akcam Hiring at Clark University
David Saltzman, Senior Counsel at the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF), responded to the Boston Globe regarding the controversial hiring of Taner Akcam as a Historian at Clark University.
Turkish historian not the best choice for Clark University
June 3, 2008, THE BOSTON GLOBE - Clark University is of course free to hire whomever it chooses, but to assert that Taner Akcam was the "best scholar in the pool" seems a long stretch.
First, he is not, as the article suggests, a "Turkish historian" insofar as his undergraduate studies were in economics and his graduate studies were in sociology. Akcam's signature work, "A Shameful Act," though lauded by those seeking to validate the Armenian allegation of genocide, has received a fair amount of criticism for selective use of materials, misreading of Ottoman sources, errors in chronology, and the lack of a bibliography. Moreover, although Akcam is keen to apply the term genocide to the Ottoman Armenian tragedy, his writings fail to address the legal requirements for this very specifically defined crime.
Finally, reporter David Abel errs in saying Akcam was imprisoned in the 1970s for his work on the Armenian issue. Akcam was convicted for his participation in leftist groups that were implicated in attacks on US diplomats and the assassination of far-right militants and Turkish security officers. In sum, though Akcam has a certain cachet as a Turk who would take on Turkey, in its search for a Turkish historian versed in the late Ottoman period, Clark could have done much better.
DAVID SALTZMAN, Chief counsel
Turkish American Legal Defense Fund, Washington, DC
© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper
Call for Opening Archives Has Echoed All Over the World
The influential steps that were taken by Turkey on the 1915 incidents strike the slandering campaign over and over again that is enforced by the Armenian Diaspora and Armenian administration.
The offer for founding a mutual history commission that was put forward by Turkey has caused confusion over the Diaspora and Armenia; they were quiet for a long time. They attempted to escape from their historical responsibilities by asserting that some countries recognize their genocide claims. Nevertheless, the proposal caused a tendency towards listening to both sides in the world public opinion.
The last offer was from Turkish Historical Society Chairman Professor Yusuf Halacoglu. Halacog(lu’s 20 million Dollars proposal for opening and classification of the Armenian archives in Boston had echoed in the world media. The only exception is the Armenian Diaspora and Armenia. Both of them are quiet.
You will mount the future of your country to the basis of tension with Turkey, which is a regional power. On the other hand, you will present publications that are proved to be false, as documents, and you will abstain from opening archives. On the contrary, you will have extreme demands like compensation and land.
The Armenians, who managed to mislead the world public opinion and secure support from certain circles in return for their interests or by exploiting feelings, currently face a critical dilemma. Archives and the facts are on one hand, slanders and ambitions, on the other. The end of the both ways would not reach to a good point for the Armenians.
Scientists’ concrete and scientific evidences, who have become experts on the Armenian question and who have examined archives and historical documents, would be insufficient against the statements like “Poor Armenians, who are the victims of genocide and who have been oppressed”. As a result of Turkey’s determined and rationalist activities, opening of the Armenian archives in Armenia and the archives in the other regions of the world will become an obligation for the Armenians.
Abraham Lincoln was once said: “You can deceive all people sometimes, some people sometimes; but you cannot deceive all people forever.”
Not only the archives in Boston, but also the Mechitarists in Italy/ San Lazzaro Island and the state archives in Yerevan should be opened for all the researchers as was done for the Ottoman archives.
Source: SoykirimGercegi - Editorial
Pamuk Backs Turkey On The Pitch
Istanbul - Turkish Daily News, June 3, 2008
Nobel Laureate Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk talks to German Der Spiegel about his passion for football. Pamuk says he will support the Turkish national team in EURO 2008 despite the fact that he thinks football provokes nationalism and xenophobia in the country
The last time Orhan Pamuk spoke to the European press caused a huge fuss in Turkey, but this time the iconic Turkish novelist chose a lighter subject to voice his thoughts about his country – football.
The winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 2006 declared that he will support Turkey in the upcoming European Football Championship, or EURO 2008, the continent's football showpiece event, despite the presence of coach Fatih Terim, who he described as “an ultra-nationalist.”
Speaking to the German magazine Der Spiegel, Pamuk said that he would naturally support the Turkish team in the cup.
“I will support the Turkish team, just like you will cheer for the Germans,” he said. “Although the coach Fatih Terim is an ultra-nationalist, of course I will support Turkey. But I am not fanatical.”
Pamuk's views on the Turkish national team may reverse his public image in his country. He caused a stir in Turkey when he told a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that “one million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it.” He was charged with the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code for “insulting Turkishness.”
Pamuk was once again in the spotlight last week, when some pundits compared him to Nuri Bilge Ceylan, who won the Golden Palm Award for Best Director at this year's Cannes Film Festival with his film “Three Monkeys.” Ceylan's acceptance speech, in which he dedicated his award to Turkey saying, “…To my lonely and beautiful country, which I passionately love,” was compared to Pamuk's acceptance speech in which he talked about his father.
A Fenerbahçe fan:
The Nobel Prize winner writer stated that his love of the game dates back to the days when he was a child, when he was holding his father's hand to be taken to Fenerbahçe's games. The novelist has been a keen admirer of the Istanbul side ever since and admits he simply cannot stand the feeling when his teams lose.
“Of course I will watch the EURO 2008 games,” Pamuk said. “But my will is broken when the Turkish team loses, I just cannot stand it.”
He added that he could not watch the second half of Fenerbahçe's Champions League quarterfinal game at the English giant Chelsea in a game that the Yellow Canaries eventually lost 2-0. Pamuk revealed that he has been saddened to see that Fener players “losing the ball constantly like little children.”
Passing and possessing abilities are not the only downsides of Turkish football as Pamuk sees it. He complains that the game provokes nationalism and xenophobia in the country.
“Portuguese dictator Salazar ruled his country with the help of football, which was seen as the opium of people to him. I would be happy if it were like that in Turkey,” he said. “It is not opium in Turkey; it is more like a machine producing nationalism, xenophobia and authoritarian thinking.”
But losses are more important for that matter.
“What provokes nationalism is not the wins, it is the losses,” he said. “The nationalism is born from disasters such as lost wars or earthquakes. The 8-0 loss to England [which happened twice in 1984 and 1987] was that kind of a disaster.”
That disaster of the English routing moved Pamuk to include details of that game in the first drafts of his cult novel “Black Book.”
“The man in the book was listening to that game on the radio,” Pamuk stated. “English players mocked our men. For me, those losses were humiliating, a metaphor of the situation of the country. But I left that part out of the book, because it was too long anyway. Now I regret that, though.”
He added that Turkey will comfortably beat Armenia in the autumn World Cup elimination rounds fixture, which is a game that began sparking debates months ago.
“Turkey will win, because obviously it is the better side. I hope that will be like that,” he said, adding that he has some worries. “In case a loss comes, the Turks will say, ‘That's OK, Armenians are humans after all, like us.' Is that possible? No, I am not that naïve.”
However, not all of his memories about football are dark, and Pamuk recalled “poetic” moments from the game.
“It is not the goals that linger in my mind from those days; it is that Fenerbahçe players were emerging onto the pitch in their yellow jerseys,” he explained. “It was like they were springing onto the field from a cage. I loved that, it was like a poem.”
The Knesset Goes On Holiday, But Ankara Has Already Started Putting Pressure On Israel In The Issue Of The Armenian Genocide
Ankara is against the discussion of the question of the Armenian Genocide in the parliament of Israel, strongly believing that it will damage the strategic relationship between Turkey and Israel.
The Israeli Knesset will be on holiday till May 18, and now Turkey is doing its best “to persuade” the deputies to forget about the discussion of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey has already started implementing the well-known method; blackmail, which works so well in the USA and so badly in Europe. It is quite obvious that it will be much easier with Israel, than with any other country, especially with Europe. However, it should be mentioned that Turkey, which have chosen the Islamic Justice and Development as the leading party of the country, will most probably want to join the Islamic world, whose main aim is to raze Israel to the ground.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ At present, the reconsideration of the main directions of the Turkish foreign policy is in process. The recent conclusion of agreement on cooperation in the energy sphere with Iran and the reestablishment of the cooperation with the Arab countries speak of the fact that Ankara is getting closer to the Islamic world, and in the Islamic world the friendship with Israel and the USA is considered betrayal of Islam. However, Turkey still needs both the USA and Israel.
The official Ankara is against the discussion of the question of the Armenian Genocide in the parliament of Israel, strongly believing that it will damage the strategic relationship between Turkey and Israel. The Chairman of the Commission for International Relations of the Parliament of Turkey Murat Mercen declared, “This is a very delicate question for the Turkish society, and we wouldn’t want it to be discussed in the Israeli Parliament. We have only asked our Israeli friends to make it clear for several Israeli politicians, that there is no need to “write” a history resting on some momentary political passions, which will do a serious harm to the strategic partnership between Israel and Turkey.
Having been in Israel, the delegation of the Turkish parliament thinks that “the advertising of the Armenian problem is a very delicate issue for Turkey.” The representatives of the delegation have declared this to the advisors of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Shalom Turgeman. “We prefer that this issue isn’t discussed in the Israeli Parliament, since it will damage the Turkish-Israeli relations,” said the Turkish deputies. It was mentioned, that this problem must be resolved between Turkey and Armenia with the participation of historians. “Israel recognizes the strategic importance of its relations with Turkey, but there are questions and parliamentary initiatives, which have nothing to do with the government,” said the Prime, adding that the government of Israel is not interested in the worsening of the relations with Turkey. “I am convinced, that Israel realizes the negative disposition between the two countries, which may be caused by the issue of the Armenian Genocide,” said Mercan.
According to the deputy of the Knesset from party “Kadima”, the chairman of the inter-parliamentary union “Israel – Armenia” Zeev Elkin, it is not possible to predict the result of the discussion of the Armenian Genocide in the Israeli the Knesset. “The fact that the issue is already involved in the agenda is already a big achievement. During the past 20 years the issue of the Armenian Genocide has not at all been discussed in Israel. The deputies already feel great pressure from the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Turkish lobby, which now has the support of Azerbaijan as well. It must be mentioned that their reaction was rather quick and effective, which unfortunately can’t be said about Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. The discussion, of course, will not become a bill, but I think that we, in case of a positive decision, may adopt a declaration on the issue of the Armenian Genocide,” said Elkin. He reminded that the given initiative is suggested every year around April 24, before the spring holidays of the parliament. “But this time the opposition’s demand was supported not only by the opposition, but also by party, included in the coalition. As for me – I was led by pure moral understanding, since I know history very well,” emphasized the deputy of The Knesset.
In his turn, the Director of the Institute of the Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Science Professor Ruben Safrastyan thinks, that the discussion of the Armenian Genocide in the Israeli the Knesset is an instrument of pressure on Ankara. “The Resolution on the Armenian Genocide will hardly be passed, and this issue is once again becoming a stumbling block among the three countries. In particular, one of the reasons of the discussion of the issue of the Armenian Genocide was Israel’s and the US Jewish Community’s resentment with Turkey’s attitude towards the Arab countries and the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” said Ruben Safrastyan.
«PanARMENIAN.Net» analytical department
Komitas String Quartet Set For Istanbul Performance
The Komitas Quartet, which claims to be the oldest string quartet in the world with a history of over 80 years, will perform a concert on June 13 at the Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ) Maçka campus.
Founded in Moscow in 1924 by four Armenian students of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the quartet today consists of Eduard Tadevosyan, Syuzi Yerits-yan, Aleksandr Kosemyan and Aram Talalyan.
Lake Van’s Forgotten North Shore
Lake Van with the Van Castle in the background.
Lake Van and its hinterland are the highlight of any visit to Turkey's East.
Set at an altitude of 1,750 meters, ringed by rugged, snow-capped peaks, blessed with a wealth of unusual historical sites and home to some rare and beautiful wildflowers, it is easy to see why the ancient Armenians said of the region and its 4,000 square kilometer alkaline lake "Van in this world, paradise in the next." Few visitors, however, stay long enough to fully explore the lake and its environs. Most visit the southern shore and make a fleeting visit to the wonderful Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the island of Akdamar, or explore the Urartian citadel just outside the city of Van on the lake's eastern shore. But the northern shore, east of (admittedly uninspiring) Tatvan and west of the equally dull town of Ercis, is if anything even more spectacular and dramatic than the lake's picturesque southern shore.
So what is there to see? First off is the dramatic volcanic peak of 3,050-meter-high Mt. Nemrut (no, not the one with the colossal heads on, that's further west near Adiyaman) around 15 kilometers north of Tatvan. The eruption of this peak some 6,000 years ago blew the top off the mountain -- and at least some of this debris landed right on top of a natural funnel where the westward flowing river exited a wide basin into the narrows of the Bitlis gorge. Thus a natural "dam" was formed -- leading to the creation of beautiful Lake Van. As a bonus the eruption resulted in two lakes forming in the caldera of the volcano. It is possible to visit the seven kilometer diameter crater either with your own vehicle or by taxi or minibus from Tatvan as a dirt road snakes its way up the north side of the mountain -- but be warned, as late as early summer (especially after a harsh winter) the dirt road becomes treacherously boggy with snow-melt. Snow-filled in winter and early spring, the crater is vividly green in spring, with beech, aspen and juniper trees in abundance -- plus reeds fringing the lakes. Many migrating birds stop-off here in spring including stilts, ducks, herons and the scarce black velvet scoter. You can swim in the warm waters of Sicakgöl (hot lake) or even, in the heat of August, those of Sogukgöl (cold lake) in the western part of the crater. On your way up or down from the crater, look out for the black goat-hair tents of transhumant Kurdish families grazing their flocks on the apparently barren volcanic slopes of the peak.
Assuming you have your own transport, it's possible to exit the crater via the eastern rim and follow a tortuous dirt road down to the shore of Lake Van not far from the lakeside town of Ahlat. Spread amongst the sprawl of the modern town of Ahlat is a site every bit as distinctive as Akdamar -- a vast cemetery going back to the time of the Seljuk Turks. Here, dating from between the 11th and 16th centuries, are literally hundreds of finely carved headstones sticking-out from flower-strewn graveyards. The tombstones, some tilted at improbable angles, are beautifully aged and covered with flowing calligraphic Arabic script (mainly in the Persian and Arab languages) and liberally splotched with green-grey lichen. Visit at sunset, with the incised inscriptions thrown into vivid relief and the tombstones throwing a patchwork of ever-lengthening shadows across the parched yellow grass, for best effect. A small but well-laid out museum holds a number of fascinating artifacts from the Urartian era onwards. There are also a number of kümbet tombs, shaped very much like the drum on Akdamar church, with polygonal sides and a conical roof. Up to four bodies could be interred in each tomb, in a semi-underground chamber beneath the main structure (which was used as a prayer hall for the deceased). Some of these tombs were for Mongol chieftains and their relatives, others for Seljuk Turkish or Turcoman notables. There's a decent hotel right on the lake to the east of the town and an excellent restaurant in the center.
An hour east of Ahlat is the charming town of Adilcevaz. There's not a lot to see here, but the town is set amongst lush orchards irrigated by water tumbling down from the slopes of towering 4,058-meter Mt. Suphan, Turkey's third-highest peak a short way north and east. In the hills to the north, a wonderful half-day outing from the town, is the half-collapsed ruin of Skantselorgivank Church. Set on a hilltop but dominated by higher peaks, this once-beautiful medieval Armenian church is built from attractively contrasting black basalt and red sandstone. Above it are the scant but impressive remains of a once mighty Urartian citadel -- Kefkalesi -- best reached by taxi from Adilcevaz. The town's lakefront hotel is passable and there are a number of decent restaurants both in town and on the lakeside. A crumbling Seljuk castle, impressively set on a spur extending towards the lake from the mountains behind, makes a great adventure if you are confident on rough terrain -- and the views of the lake and peaks from the top are fantastic. Easier to visit is the diminutive Tugrul Bey mosque at its foot, a typically Ottoman domed and minareted structure made from the local stone.
To reach the summit of Mt. Suphan you must allow two days and be both fit and experienced. Although not technically difficult, this is a real mountain, with sudden storms a possibility even in the summer and the soft and friable volcanic rock and sand making walking hard going in places. Having said this, there is none of the rigmarole of applying for a permit (necessary to climb the region's other -- and Turkey's highest -- major volcanic peak of Agri) and the views from the top over Lake Van and the waves of peaks running all the way south to the Iraqi border, are arguably more impressive. There are even a couple of attractive lakes tucked into the slopes of the peak and two more in the crater itself. For the really hardy, winter ascents are possible and the peak is attracting an increasing number of ski-mountaineers -- but you'll have to be prepared for temperatures of minus 30 degrees!
The town of Ercis is unprepossessing but it does give access to the fascinating village of Ulu Pamir, 30 kilometers to the north. It is hard to believe that you are in Turkey here as the people are Kirghiz, with distinctive Central Asian features and many still sporting the traditional dress of their original homeland -- heelless leather boots and kalpak hats for the men and scarf-topped pillbox hats for the women. Their journey to these remote highlands (Ulu Pamir is set in a dramatic, green mountain valley which certainly looks like parts of the upland areas in Central Asia) is a story in itself. Fleeing the conflict in Afghanistan in the late 1970s, they set up home in Pakistan. Unsettled, they appealed to their ethnic kin in Turkey -- and in 1982 the Turkish authorities generously airlifted both them and their livestock to "the homeland" in 1982. Of course Ulu Pamir is not a tourist destination in the normal sense -- there are no hotels or facilities -- just the home of this indomitable people (some with felt yurt tents still pitched in their gardens) but each June the village holds a festival. Falconry, horse-riding displays and folk dancing take center stage and visitors are welcomed.
You'd need at least two days (and preferably more) to drive from the city of Van around the lake and visit all the places mentioned here -- not allowing time for walks and climbs of course. But the scenery here rivals that of anywhere in the world for sheer austere beauty -- and an ever-improving infrastructure is making it accessible to more and more people -- so get there before the crowds and discover Lake Van's forgotten northern shore for yourself.
How to get here and travel around:
Nearest airport: Van. Regular flights from Ankara, Istanbul and Antalya. Intercity buses from most major towns to either Tatvan or Van, or by train (3 weekly) from Istanbul. Both Hertz and Avis have agents in Van.
Admission and opening hours: Ahlat Museum. Tues-Sun 8 a.m.-noon & 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Books, maps and Web sites: “The Rough Guide to Turkey,” “Lonely Planet's Trekking in Turkey (0/P),” “Kartographischen Verlag Reinhard Ryborsch map series No: 6.”
04 June 2008, TERRY RICHARDSON VAN
Slovakian Foreign Minister Objects To ‘armenian Genocide’ Bill In Parliament
Slovakia's foreign minister has said a parliamentary resolution passed by the country's parliament in 2004 to recognize Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire did not reflect his government's stance and vowed to lobby cabinet ministers to oppose a bill making denial of the alleged genocide a crime.
Slovakian Foreign Minister Jan Kubis, spoke at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, in Bratislava late on Wednesday. "I will discuss this matter with the Slovakian justice minister and members of the government. I believe history must be left to historians. We know the sensitivity of the Turkish public on this matter and will not permit this topic to place a shadow on good relations between Turkey and Slovakia," he was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. Kubis' remarks appear to pit him against Justice Minister Stefan Harabin, who was quoted as saying this week on Armenian news sites that the bill criminalizing denial of the alleged genocide will go into effect early next year. The bill extends punishment for denial of the Holocaust to other "genocide" cases, including the alleged Armenian genocide, and seeks up to five years in jail for Slovak citizens who deny the Armenian claims. "The Armenian genocide is the most outrageous crime against humanity," Harabin was quoted as saying by PanARMENIAN.net 30 May 2008
An Old Neighborhood Through Camera Lenses
Vercihan Ziflioglu, ISTANBUL - TDN May 30, 2008
Müjgan Arpat, a photographer and a human rights activist, spent five years researching the Gavur neighborhood, the long-established Armenian neighborhood that has lost its multicultural fabric in Diyarbakir. Various photographs Arpat took in the historic neighborhood are now on display at Kars,i Art Works in Beyog(lu
A photographer and human rights advocate has conducted extensive research into an ancient Armenian settlement in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir and is currently displaying her photographs in an exhibition in Istanbul.
Müjgan Arpat's research into the historic neighbourhood of Gavur, or Giaur, which means infidel, took five years, during which she also took hundreds of photographs.
The exhibition, titled “The Gavur Neighborhood, Those Who Remain – Those Who Came,” opened last week at Kars,i Art Works on Taksim's Istiklal Street. As the photographs show, the Gavur neighborhood, where Armenians once lived before 1915, no longer has any Armenian residents today.
“The Gavur neighborhood still carries the traces of the Armenian culture, despite all past plundering and destruction,” said Arpat. Explaining what the title refers to, she said, “In mansions and churches reflecting the thousands of years old Armenian culture, there live today many Kurdish families who migrated to Diyarbakir from other southeastern provinces.”
For Arpat, it is important to be able to speak freely about the iron curtain drawn over Turkish Armenian relations, and about the bitter events that took place over the history of the two cultures. “We, as Turks, should reconcile with our past and speak on some issues without any hesitation,” she said.
Arpat will donate all the income she earns from the exhibit to a foundation established in the name of journalist Hrant Dink, the former editor in chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual weekly Agos, who was assassinated. The exhibit will run through June 14.
Hundreds of photos
Arpat went to Diyarbakir in 2003 to prepare a special report for a German television channel where she worked as a reporter. She said the novels of Migirdiç Margosyan, a Turkish writer of Armenian descent who was born in the Gavur neighborhood, inspired her and prompted her to conduct research in the historic Armenian neighborhood of Diyarbakir. In Giaor neighborhood, many of the historic buildings that belonged to the Armenians are called “gavur buildings,” and have been damaged for that reason, she said. “All cultures existing in this country are assets for us. We have to protect these cultures,” she added.
Arpat's study showed that only a few Armenian families live in Diyarbakir today and do simply want to remain anonymous. The multicultural fabric of the province has faded away so quickly, said Arpat, adding that only in the Urfakapi district do about 20 Armenian families remain, as well as a small group of Assyrians and Chaldeans. Despite the fact that these people are members of different sects, they are forced to gather at a single spot, the Saint Mary Sur Church in Urfakapi, to hold mass every Sunday.
From stock exchange to coffeehouse
Meanwhile, the stock exchange building is the most interesting structure located in Gavur, said Arpat, adding the centuries-old building presently serves as a coffeehouse, while the inside is full of rubbish. “This building is where Armenians used to have commercial transactions with Assyrians and Arabs a century ago. You can grasp the architectural value of it only by looking its façade, but when you enter the inner yard, you encounter almost an outdoor museum despite all damage to the structure so far,” she said.
Karsi Art Works is located at Hanif Han in Gazeteci Erol Dernek Street in Beyoglu.
Local Musician Applies To Become Armenian
May 30, 2008, Mikail Pelit Malatya – Dogan News Agency
A local musician in the eastern province of Malatya applied to court Wednesday to get a name change, declaring that he was really an Armenian.
Kazim Akinci, who lives with his mother and makes a living selling his albums, said his family hid the fact that they were Armenian Christians, but had decided to stop hiding his true identity after Turkish journalist of Armenian decent Hrant Dink was killed early last year.
He applied to a Malatya court to change his name to Serkis Nerseyan and went to the local population registry to change the religion section of his identity card from Muslim to Christian.
Speaking to the Dog(an news agency, he said, “I live in Malatya and neither I nor the society has any problem with me being an Armenian. However, my family hid this fact for years due to a baseless fear.”
He said his sadness over Dink' murder had made him decide to declare his identity. “I make a living by selling my albums. I am well liked by those around me. They like me not because I am ‘Kazim' or ‘Serkis.' I am liked because of my personality. There is no reason for fear or hiding.”
Dink was shot and killed in front of the office of the weekly Armenian newspaper Agos in January 2007 by an ultra-nationalist teenager. Dink was also found guilty of insulting Turkishness by a court.
Malatya made the headlines in April last year when five ultra-nationalists raided the offices of a publishing house, murdering two Turkish Christian converts and a German national, all of whom were working as Christian missionaries.
Çarsi Puts An End To Its 25-Year-Long Story
TDN, May 29, 2008
Turkish football agenda is shaken with the most influential fan group's decision to disband, as Bes,iktas,'s Çars,i declares it is splitting. Çars,i's leader Alen Markaryan makes the statement at the premiere of a documentary devoted to the fan group
On the 25th year of its birth, Turkey's most organized and influential football fan group, Çars,i of Bes,iktas, has disbanded, its leader Alen Markaryan declared Tuesday night.
Speaking at the premiere of “Asi Ruh” (Rebellious Spirit) which is a documentary on Çars,i, Markaryan made a speech that announced the end of the fan group, citing rumors and insults as the reason behind it.
“We do not like untimely separations, so we said, let's find the right time and leave this place,” said an emotional Markaryan. “But there were insults from many masked people, and we feel that pain. We wanted to leave silently and alone from that dock and from this heartland of ours.”
Born in Bes,iktas, district and deriving its name from the Bazaar, near the club's home I.nönü Stadium, the 25-year-old Çars,i was known for its passionate support and politically-charged banners and chants, mainly leaning to the left. The replacement of letter A with the symbol of anarchism can only be proof of the group's character.
Recently there were remarks in the media and public that the image of Çars,i was overshadowing the club, which was compared with the contrast between the team's lack of success and the fan group's filling the headlines. Bes,iktas, has not been able to win a league title in the last five years, but Çars,i grew bigger and bigger in that period, even becoming known in Europe. The astonishing noise and choreography in the crowd were talked about quite a lot on the continent, especially after their performances in games against Liverpool, Marseille and Tottenham Hotspur.
“We did everything for Bes,iktas,, but I feel that we were causing harm to the club while doing all this,” said Markaryan caustically, responding to criticisms. “We could leave immediately if we were causing harm, if we were somebody's men.”
What Markaryan was emphasizing was the Sinan Engin case, which let to internal turmoil within Çars,i earlier this season. When Engin was reappointed manager of Bes,iktas,, Çars,i opted to protest the situation, unfurling banners “Çars,i is against Sinan Engin” in the opening game of the season against Konyaspor.
Seen as a key member that led the club to a league championship in its centennial season, Engin fell from grace after Bes,iktas, failed to clinch the title the following season in 2003-2004. Things went even sourer for Engin when it was alleged that he had helped Alaattin Çakici, a convicted mafia leader, to get a passport to flee the country using Bes,iktas,'s position. Though Engin denied the allegations, then Chairman Serdar Bilgili dismissed the manager from the club.
A few days after the Konyaspor game, Markaryan came together with Engin at a meeting, giving messages of peace to the press.
“We were always the bad guys of the block,” complained Markaryan. “We tried to give something from our hearts, we only tried. We had our signatures good or bad, beautiful or ugly, we had our hits, number ones.”
Speaking of hits, Çars,i has to be credited for its creativity. In 2003, referee Ali Aydin called French player Pascal Nouma “a Negro.” I.nönü Stadium was filled with banners of “We are all negros” the following week, in support of their beloved striker.
The sentence quickly become a catchphrase in the country, so much that it was adopted in support of the murdered Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, as the chants of “We are all Armenians,” were heard on the streets of Istanbul in January 2007.
Rhyming the word “kars,i,” which means against in Turkish, Çars,i was second to none in creating opposing slogans. The banners of “Çars,i against global warming,” “Çars,i against war,” “Çars,i against the nuclear power plant,” “Çars,i against child pornography,” “Çars,i against neo-nazism,” could be seen in the stands of I.nönü, to name but a few.
An irreplaceable color will be forever lost from Turkish football, if Çars,i's decision to quit is for good. But Markaryan's words of Çars,i's affection for Bes,iktas, could be lead to believe that this is not the end.
“We almost quit last year when the chants of ‘sellout Çars,i' were heard at the stadium, but what kind of feeling it was to be Bes,iktas,-less, while living Bes,iktas, 24 hours,” asked Markaryan. “Where were we goingi”
Slovak Foreign Minister Backs Turkey Over Genocide Bill
May 30, 2008 BRATISLAVA - Agence France-Presse
Slovakia's foreign minister said he will lobby his government about a proposed law making genocide denial an imprisonable offence, after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Wednesday.
Speaking at a joint news conference in the Slovak capital, along with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Jan Kubis said he would take up the matter with Slovakian Justice Minister Stefan Harabin.
"I will point out to the minister of justice the sensitivity of this issue ... which can have an affect on our relations with Turkey," Kubis said.
"History should be treated by historians, not politicians," he added.
Babacan said Turkey has proposed a joint commission with Armenia and possible third parties to investigate the Armenian killings. "Without any evidence Turkey cannot accept any allegations," he added.
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated killings during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey says 300,000 Armenians and at least an equal number of Turks were killed in civil strife when the Christian Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up against the Ottomans.
Harabin is one of the main movers behind the bill, which would make denial of genocide punishable by up to five years in prison. During a visit to Armenia Tuesday he said he considered the killing of the Armenians a crime against humanity.
Although the Slovak parliament passed a bill declaring the Armenian killings a crime against humanity in 2004, the country's current law only makes denial of the Jewish Holocaust a criminal offence.
Tdn's Ziflioglu Honored In Athens
May 31, 2008 ATHENS - Turkish Daily News
Vercihan Ziflioglu, a reporter for the Turkish Daily News, formally received the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for Cultural Dialogue Thursday evening in a ceremony here with Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Günay also present.
“This has been a good week for Turkey,” Günay said. “A few days ago Nuri Belge Ceylan made us proud in Cannes and today Vercihan is making us proud in Athens.” The minister's reference was to Turkish filmmaker Ceylan who received the best director award last week at the Cannes Film Festival.
The prize, which carries an award of 5,000 euros, is part of an annual competition organized by the Anna Lindh Foundation, named for the late Swedish foreign minister who was murdered in 2003 by an assailant later judged insane. The competition is organized with the International Federation of Journalists based in Brussels and open to journalists from 37 countries in the European Union and the Mediterranean. Ziflioglu was among four journalists who received awards for work in 2007.
Ziflioglu, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origins, was honored for a series of stories that appeared last year in the TDN. Those stories included “Cyber-challenge to hatred” exploring the work of an artist who organized an Internet portal in the wake of the assassination of journalist Hrant Dink that seeks to bring young people together to confront ethnic hatred. Also among Zifliogu's work was a story on musical collaboration between Turks and Armenians, a story on efforts to capture the ethnic diversity of Anatolia in a photograph exhibit called “Ebru” and a story on artistic collaboration between university students in Turkey and Armenia.
The Athens ceremony was held as part of a summit of European Union culture ministers that included Günay, Greek Culture Minister Michael Liapis and Slovenian Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti. Slovenia currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
Introducing Ziflioglu, Anna Lindh Foundation Director Andreu Claret praised her work as reflective of the goals of the organization created in memory of the slain Swedish diplomat. “Our endeavor is to make intercultural dialogue a normal part of everyday life,” Claret said.
Liapis saluted the honored journalists and said such work should support “the political will to ensure that the Mediterranean is a sea that unites people rather than divides people.” In comments that followed, Simoniti said that artists and journalists contribute greatly to intercultural understanding. “Art is not only a powerful tool for civilization, but also a powerful tool for dialogue,” Simoniti said.
Ziflioglu, 32, joined the TDN in 2006 as part of the team that reorganized the newspaper and moved its headquarters from Ankara to Istanbul. She joined the TDN after working for eight years at the TDN's parent newspaper Hürriyet, the national flagship daily of the Dogan Media Group.
She said she was accepting the award on behalf of the entire newspaper, which has a mission of explaining Turkey's diversity and complexity in the English language so that Turkey may be better understood internationally.
“Besides English and Turkish, about 15 languages are spoken in our office,” she said. “A multi-cultural atmosphere and a sense of co-existence in peace and harmony is the main characteristic reflected in our daily.”
The TDN's Editor-in-Chief David Judson also attended the awards ceremony in Athens.
“As a small newspaper that works in large measure through synergies with other much larger newspapers in the group, inter-cultural dialogue is not just a journalistic goal but a practical tool that I believe is at the core of the TDN's vitality,” Judson said. “We are all so proud of Vercihan that she has carried this ethos to a large European audience of colleagues.”
The three other journalists honored in Athens were Gideon Levy of the Israeli daily Haaretz, Jamila Zekhnini of the Belgian magazine Agenda Interculturel and Uros Skerl of the Slovenian daily Dnevnik.
Ziflioglu was to be further honored Friday night at a dinner at the Turkish Embassy in Athens hosted by Günay.
Black Sea Union A 'Chance' For Turkey To Prove Itself
Fulya Özerkan Ankara - Turkish Daily News, May 31, 2008
Whenever different models of partnership with the EU are floated around, Turks grow suspicious assuming they are meant to derail its decades-long objective to join the 27-nation bloc. Socialist MEP assures that the idea of a Union for the Black Sea is independent of Ankara’s EU bid
While some European Union member states have proposed a series of regional cooperation mechanisms to expand the bloc's ties with non-member states, including the France-led Mediterranean Union initiative, European Socialists are championing a new project in which Turkey will play a major role.
Leading Socialist MPs, Jan Marinus Wiersma and Hannes Swoboda, this week introduced the idea of a Union for the Black Sea in a European Parliament report to develop the EU's strategy toward its eastern neighbors. Both underlined that Turkey could play a pivotal role in this new model.
“The Union for the Black Sea will help Turkey to prove once again how important a country it is for the EU,” Wiersma told the Turkish Daily News late Thursday.
Whenever different models of partnership with the EU are floated around, Turks grow suspicious on the assumption that they are meant to derail Turkey's decade-long efforts to join the 27-nation bloc. Likewise, Ankara has said in strong terms it will never accept a Mediterranean Union led by Turkey-skeptic French President Nicolas Sarkozy if it is meant to act as a substitute for Turkish membership in the EU.
“We are aware that people in Turkey might raise questions once we develop a new role for Turkey,” said Wiersma, alluding to his idea for a Union for the Black Sea. “But this is a model led by European parliamentarians who favor Turkey's entry to the EU. This is not meant to replace full membership.”
European Socialists came up with the proposal to establish a Union for the Black Sea last year after the launch of the Mediterranean Union project.
“We used this momentum to develop ties with the Black Sea region. It is not surprising that another proposal to reach out to the East came from Sweden and Poland in the same week,” said Wiersma.
However, the Black Sea model is different from the Swedish-Polish proposal, which is confined to six countries: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, he noted.
“Turkey is not on their list,” said Wiersma. “We especially wanted to include Turkey and Russia in the Union for the Black Sea.”
Again discussing the Swedish-Polish proposal, the Euro MP said, “As far as I can see it is a kind of an extension of the European neighborhood program, a kind of waiting room for those countries that might in the future become members of the EU.”
Wiersma emphasized that the goal of the Union for the Black Sea would be to find common solutions to such common problems facing the region as environment, migration and security matters, adding, “That is only possible if we involve Turkey and Russia as well.”
The idea of a Black Sea Union has been endorsed by the European Parliament report's author German Christian Democrat MP Elmar Brok and will be discussed during the French presidency beginning in July.
“We are parliamentarians and have to convince the governments to accept this idea,” said Wiersma. “There is a growing awareness among the member states that something more should be done for the countries in the East because what the [EU] Commission is doing for the Black Sea is not enough,” he concluded, referring to the “Black Sea Synergy,” an EU-led initiative to develop regional cooperation with the Black Sea.
No Records From Gulbenkian About A Museum In Istanbul
May 31, 2008 Safak Timur Istanbul – Turkish Daily News
A prominent Armenian businessman in the Ottoman Empire, known as “Mr. Five Percent” for his shares in the oil business, did not leave any information in his well-kept records about his reported desire to open a museum in Turkey, according to the president of the foundation in charge of his collection.
In April a well-known Turkish businessman, said in a letter to an editor in chief of daily that Calouste Gulbenkian wanted to open a museum in Istanbul in the 1940s, but that Turkey refused the prominent philanthropist's demand. The Gulbenkian Foundation's museum is now in Lisbon, Portugal presenting pieces from Gulbenkian's own collection along with examples of contemporary art. In the letter it is cited that Gulbenkian's experience as an example of the attitude of the Turkish state toward non-Muslims and foreigners.
However, Emilio Rui Villar, president of the board of trustees of the Gulbenkian Foundation, said Gulbenkian kept very regular records, and that the foundation cannot find any information in those records that he wanted to open the museum in Turkey.
“I know his grandson and great grandson well and they did not confirm that information either,” said Villar. Gulbenkian's demand to open a museum in Istanbul and the refusal by the Turkish state is simply a rumor, said Villar. In contrast, there are records of his thoughts about opening a museum in London and Washington, Villar added.
Gulbenkian foundation will lead EFC
Villar will lead this term of the European Foundation Center, or EFC, whose annual congress was held in Istanbul last week. Taking over the administration from Volkswagen Stiftung's head Wilhelm Krull, Villar will be the head for the upcoming period.
Among Villar's priorities for the new term is to have a European foundation statute that would allow more cross border activities for European foundations and to create a common set of fiscal rules binding all foundations in European Union member countries. Building a new generation of philanthropists is on the agenda as well. Finally, encouraging European foundations to operate more outside Europe is another priority for Villar.
“There are many very crucial questions that require global attention. Climate change, energy, food scarcity, global health and the like. All those require long term wisdom and solidarity of all continents,” he said.
Following the path of his own foundation, which supports scientific research with grants and scholarships, Villar said foundations need to increase knowledge and contribute to the translation of scientific knowledge into technology.
A dynamic third sector in Turkey
Villar said he found a very dynamic charitable sector in Turkey with a long tradition. “The work of The Turkish Third Sector Foundation [or TÜSEV] and the way this big meeting was organized show that the third sector in Turkey is a mature one,” he said.
Stating that he is personally in favor of Turkey's membership in the EU, Villar said Europe is a community of values, and religion is not a question relevant to the revival of Europe. Fulfilling civic rules and values is the issue, he said.
The Gulbenkian Foundation has connections with giant foundations like Sabanci and Aydin Dogan. “In several areas we can cooperate,” he said, when asked about any plans that the foundations have about activities in Turkey. The foundation already supports Armenian schools and hospitals in Turkey, along with giving its support to the Armenian diaspora in many countries.
Who is Calouste Gulbenkian?
Born in the 1860s to an Armenian family in Istanbul's Asian district of Üsküdar, Gulbenkian was educated in the United Kingdom and France, and graduated with an engineering degree from King's College London. Gulbenkian founded the Turkish Petroleum Company. Germany also had shares in the company, so after the defeat of Germans in World War I, Gulbenkian transformed the company into the Iraq Petroleum Company began exploring the Mesopotamian geography of today's Iraq for oil.
The company also had British, Dutch and French shareholders. Between the two world wars, Gulbenkian moved to Paris from London, and after the German invasion of Paris he moved to Vichy. In 1942 he decided to go the United States, but instead stayed arrived by car in Lisbon prior to his passage across the ocean to the United States, and stayed there until his death in 1955.
Virtual `Armenian Turkish Youth Club' Will Be Created by Mesrob Muthafyan
May 31, 2008
A virtual `Armenian Turkish Youth Club' will be created in the Intenet under the `Armenia-Turkey: Regional Dialogue and Cooperation' program. The `Youth Academy' NGO participates in the program from the Armenian side.
Director of the program Artak Barseghyan informed that preparation works are currently under way. Information in different spheres that will interest the Armenian and Turkish young people is being collected. Jointly managed web-resources, including online forums, will be created. Not only Armenian and Turkish young people, but also those from other countries will participate in the discussions.
On electronic newspaper titled `Club Zone' will be issued once in three months. Joint roundtables, mutual visits will be organized.
The program is implemented with the support of the `Eurasia Cooperation' Fund.
The History Of France's Recognition Of The Armenian Genocide Traces Back To 1915
It would be incorrect to explain the disposition of the French government regarding the Armenian Genocide only through the powerful Armenian Diaspora, in spite of the assertions of Turkish and Azeri historians.
10 years ago, on May 29, 1998, the National Assembly of France passed the bill on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide committed in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 with the first reading. -France officially recognizes the Armenian Genocide of 1915,- says the law, signed by the President of the National Assembly Laurent Fabius. On November 7, 2000, a similar law was passed in the Senate of France. And on January, 2001, President of France Jacque Chirac signed a law which stipulated that France recognizes the Armenian Genocide on all official levels.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ On October 12, 2006, the Lower House of the French Parliament passed a bill, according to which the denial of the Armenian Genocide committed in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 is criminal offence. The document stipulates that the denial of mass killings of the Armenian people will be punished by one year imprisonment and a fine of 45.000 Euros ($ 56.4 thousand).
The history of France's recognition of the Armenian Genocide traces back to 1915, immediately after the slaughters had begun. On May 29, 1915 the Ambassadors of France, Great Britain and Russia to Constantinople sent a telegram to the US Department of States with the following content: -One month ago the Turks and the Kurds, living in the Western Armenia, with the support and cooperation of the Ottoman authorities, started the mass killing of the peaceful Armenian population of Erzrum, Van, Sasun, Bitlis, Cilicia, and Mush. At the very same time Armenian intellectuals were killed in Constantinople by the Young Turks. We call all the countries of the Entente to interfere and put an end to this brutal policy.-
The Armenians living in Constantinople were in close relationship with France: many Armenian companies had their branches in Paris, the children of the Armenians studied in the University of Sorbonne, and maybe this was the reason why France became one of the first countries where the Armenian people started to move after having survived the Genocide. The Armenian Diaspora in France has more than half million and is very organized both in the political and social aspect. However it would be incorrect to explain the disposition of the French government regarding the Armenian Genocide only through the powerful Armenian Diaspora, in spite of the assertions of Turkish and Azeri historians. It is true, that Armenian Diaspora is very large in number, but it does not have enough influence to have the Parliament and President recognized the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The Turkish Diaspora in Western Europe is the largest and the richest one, but it can do nothing to fight injustice. The Turkish Diaspora only manages the showing the ruined memorials and the cemeteries for the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The uncompromising attitude of France in this issue showed the entire world and first of all the USA and the Great Britain, that the policy of blackmail and intimidation carried out by Turkey regarding Paris does not work. And by the way, after having passed the bill about the criminal offence for denying the Armenian Genocide, the relations between Paris and Ankara even improved, in any case, regarding trade-economic relations.
Meanwhile, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Ali Babacan in representing Turkey in 2006 during the negotiations in the EU announced that the French law violates one of the most basic principles of the EU, i.e. the freedom of opinion. -Leave the history to the historians,- he said. The whole thing is that the Armenian Genocide is a historical fact and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey in this case is simply taking the desired for the reality.
By the way, the bill on the criminal offence for the denial of the Armenian Genocide will be passed by the Parliament of Slovakia by the end of 2008 and will come into effect in January - February 2009. -In Slovakia whose Parliament recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2004, there was a law about criminal liability for the denial of the Holocaust. With amendments we widen the frames of the law and expend its influence on all genocides, and in particular, on the Armenian Genocide,- said the Minister of Justice, Vice-Prime Minister of Slovakia Stephan Kharapin. «PanARMENIAN.Net» analytical department
Armenian Lobby Scarcely More Powerful Than The Turkish One
AZG Armenian Daily
The Diaspora, of course, greatly contributes the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The contribution of the Armenian lobbies is most remarkable, although the progress in the run for international recognition of the Genocide cannot be explained only by the Diapsora's efforts, as that would be beyond the powers of both Armenia and the Diaspora. The secret of the success of the recognition campaign is not in the Diaspora's capability of imposing certain decisions upon Parliament of different countries, but rather in the irrefutability of the historical truth.
Expert of the Armenian Research Center of Ankara, Yildiz Deveci, published in the institute's May 28 bulletin published an article entitled "The Scottish Armenian Lobby and the Position of the Protestant Church", which is aimed at explaining the Catholic Church's initiative on the Armenian Genocide by the influence of the Armenian lobby.
This is what he wrote, "By now the 1915 events have been recognized as genocide by the parliaments of 19 states. The influence of the Armenian lobbies of those countries in this issue is well known. Nevertheless parliaments of certain states with very little Armenian population sometimes tend to display similar attitudes, which shows that the power of the Armenian lobbies does not depend on the number of the Armenian population.
In this regard the activity of the Armenian lobby in Scotland is remarkable. For the first time the question of the `Armenian Genocide' was included in the agenda of the Edinburgh municipality council in 2005, by the initiative of Liberal Democrats. In despite of objection of certain MPs, the council qualified the 1915 events as genocide.
Although in 2006 member of Edinburgh Municipality Council Phil Etridge demanded to support Turkey's proposal to establish a joint historians' commission for studying the 1915 events and stated that `in England the rights of the minorities are always respected and the Armenians pretend that they are the only minority massacred in the war', his demands were rejected.
Recently the Armenian lobby of Scotland, pursuing the recognition of the `Armenian Genocide', has been trying to put the Scottish protestant church to work. The Elder council of the Scottish protestant church, which was founded in the 1690's, has made decision to ensure the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in England. This decision will surely have some effect in the British parliament, as the Armenian lobby of England periodically states that it expects an `appropriate' decision on that matter from England during the coming couple of years."
Although the Parliament of England still seems unwilling to make a certain decision on 1915 events and states that they can be hardly qualified as genocide, the efforts of the Armenian lobby and the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Scotland and Wales, make us suppose that hot arguments on the Armenian Genocide will soon occur in England.
By H. Chaqrian, translated by A.M.
Kubis Explains Slovak Govt's View Of Armenian Genocide To Babacan
Czech News Agency, May 28, 2008 Bratislava May 28 (CTK)
Slovak Foreign Minister Jan Kubis today explained to his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, the Slovak government's position on the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire and assured him that Bratislava does not want to politicise the issue.
The two ministers focused on it following the appreciation with which Slovak Justice Minister Stefan Harabin's position on the Armenian genocide met in Armenia on Tuesday.
"I explained that the government's position rests in the effort to avoid politicising similar issues. I said it is up to historians, not necessarily politicians, to assess history," Kubis told journalists after meeting Babacan.
Ankara refuses to speak of genocide in connection with Armenians. It says the death of about 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-17 was caused by the war and famine.
The Slovak Justice Ministry has proposed, in its draft amendment to the Penal Law, that the denial of any genocide, including Armenian, be outlawed in Slovakia. At present only the denial of the Holocaust is unlawful.
During Harabin's ongoing visit to Yerevan, his efforts in this area were appreciated by the head of the Armenian Church.
Kubis today said he will tell Harabin how sensitive the issue is in Turkey.
He said he will tell Harabin that if he insisted on the planned legislation concerning genocide, it could affect Slovak-Turkish relations.
Babacan today said that Turkey had offered the Armenian government to form a joint commission of experts to analyse the past events.
He said Ankara is ready to accept the result of such a debate of scientists and come to terms with it, no matter what it is like. However, it would not accept any accusations of Turkey, made without reliable scientific evidence, he said.
Armenian Youth In Turkey And Opposite
Armenian and Turkish youth have repaired the secondary school of Arpachay village by their own will. Such events are organized in the frameworks of -the role of youth in social work- project leaded by -Young Women Association of Armenia-, in 16-19 May.
The project has been conducted together with Volunteer Foundation of Turkey. 40 Turkish and 20 Armenian youth in Kars took part in the project. Armenian youth has also visited Ani and witnessed the cultural values of it, said Lilit Asatryan the president of -Young Women Association of Armenia-.
According to Asatryan the mission of the project is to break the stereotypes formed among Armenia and Turkish youth and to contribute to their close relationship through culture.
Armenians in Turkey Vardan Grigoryan
Hayots Ashkhar Daily, May 31, 2008
Harassments Not Excluded
The most noteworthy thing recorded in Armenian-Turkish relations during the recent years is the direct touches between the representatives of the two peoples - by mutual visits and various events organized by different international organizations.
Unlike certain non-official negotiations on state-governmental level, which usually end in the exchange of the viewpoints regarding unsolvable issues, the before mentioned touches are undoubtedly much more sincere.
The fact that the victims of the Great Genocide of Armenians living in different parts of Turkey gradually return to their roots, gives additional significance to the before mentioned.
Before, those `Turks' revealed their identity only after shifting to Europe, but at present they start this process even inside Turkey.
By the way the conversation is not only about Armenians.
According to the approximate calculations of the scientists the overwhelming majority of the present-day Turks are absolutely not the generations of the tribes, which have once moved from Middle Asia. Moreover, not only the forcibly `islamized' natives, Armenians and Greeks, but also different peoples and representatives of different tribes were added to them. This entire conglomerate, gained the most ignorable name `Turk' during the formation of the Republic of Turkey.
At present not only the Kurdish and Zaza communities, but also all the other representatives of the nations, as if `once and for all' merged with the Turks, want to separate.
The present-day Armenian-Turkish dialogue hold on the level of people's diplomacy often reveals the existence of a `hidden internationalism' in Turkey, compared to which the population of European multinational countries can seem homogenous.
At present, when the bilateral touches develop and when lots of Armenian tourists visit Turkey and on the other hand the leadership of this country is trying to convince Europe that they are very tolerant towards the non-Turkish citizens of their country, lots of `islamized' Armenians remind of their existence.
The evidence is the extremely sensitive attitude towards the singers in `Eurovision' in Turkey. The great number of the votes given to the singer representing Armenia testifies to the fact that Armenians have a bigger community in Turkey, than the representatives of Europe and Balkans.
The Armenians visiting Turkey often eyewitness similar manifestations of mutual sympathy. No matter how the slaughterers tried to uproot the natives leaving in their motherland for centuries, Armenians, with their surprising quality to adjust, survived 1 century after the Great Genocide. So their great interest towards Armenians and Armenian culture testifies to the fact that this part of our people is not lost.
The interest towards Armenian culture manifested by the `'islamized'' Armenians must find response by the persons responsible for the spheres of education and culture in Armenia and the process of democratization must become more real in Turkey. The indefinite policy in this country and the threats about new harassments demands great caution towards the destiny of our compatriots living in this country.
The evident absence of the possibility of Turkeys membership to European Union during the coming decade, the unavoidable complications in Turkey-USA relations make the future harassments of the national minorities living in that country more real.
In our view by helping the `islamized' Armenians in their search for self-identification we should avoid to politicize the processes taking place in the cultural and partially educational fields, which Turkish state itself is trying to initiate in the future, as a new anti-Armenian provocation.
Armenians still remain an endangered national minority in Turkey and no one can exclude the repetition of harassments towards them.
Analysis: Armenian Authorities Continue To Send Mixed Signals 31 May 2008
Three months after the disputed February 19 ballot in which former Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian was elected to succeed Robert Kocharian as president, and despite repeated expressions of concern by the U.S. government and the EU, courts continue to hand down, or to uphold, prison terms on supporters of former President and defeated presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian.
On May 23, Armenia's Court of Appeals upheld three-year prison sentences handed down to Ter-Petrossian supporters Simon Amirkhanian and Samvel Karapetian, who were sentenced last month for alleged interference in the vote count at a polling station in Gavar, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported.
The court similarly upheld verdicts against three Ter-Petrossian election campaign activists sentenced to between 18 and 30 months in prison on charges of assaulting a pro-government heckler during a campaign rally in the town of Talin, and on May 26 against Hovannes Harutiunian, a Ter-Petrossian proxy sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of illegal possession of ammunition.
The Abovian municipal court on May 23 sentenced Sos Gevorgian to one year in jail on charges of illegal possession of weapons, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Gevorgian's uncle Sasun Mikaelian is one of three opposition parliamentarians charged with plotting to overthrow the Armenian leadership in the wake of the disputed February 19 vote.
Meanwhile, the Armenian authorities are planning to deport Zhirayr Sefilian, a prominent Lebanese-Armenian oppositionist jailed in late 2006. Sefilian and a fellow Karabakh war veteran, Vartan Malkhasian, were arrested in December 2006 just days after founding an unofficial pressure group opposed to resolving the Karabakh conflict through territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.
They too were charged with calling for the violent overthrow of the Armenian government. A Yerevan court found Malkhasian guilty of that charge and sentenced him in August 2007 to two years in prison; Sefilian was acquitted on that charge but found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison for illegal possession of arms. His sentence is due to end on June 9.
Both Sefilian and Malkhasian claim they were jailed for their pledge to fight to prevent fraud during the May 2007 parliamentary elections, and both subsequently endorsed Ter-Petrossian's presidential bid. Sefilian's defense lawyer Vahe Grigorian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that deporting Sefilian would be illegal as he has two underage children. Sefilian has appealed to Bako Sahakian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, to grant him political asylum there, according to Arminfo on May 22.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutiun (HHD), one of the four parties represented in the coalition government, has informed President Sarkisian of its objections to the decision, first to deny Sefilian citizenship of the Republic of Armenia, which he has twice applied for, and then to deport him, HHD bureau head Hrant Markarian told journalists in Yerevan on May 27, Noyan Tapan reported. On May 28, Armenia's Administrative Court rejected the police request to endorse Sefilian's deportation on the grounds that it was incorrectly phrased, according to Noyan Tapan.
Meeting on May 24 with President Sarkisian in Yerevan, three visiting members of the U.S. House of Representatives -- Adam Schiff (Democrat, California), Wayne Gilchrest (Republican, Maryland), and Allyson Schwartz (Democrat, Pennsylvania), all of them members of the House Democracy Assistance Commission -- expressed their shared concern about the ongoing postelection crackdown, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on May 26.
"We are concerned with the problems that occurred during the election, the violence that occurred after the election," Schiff told RFE/RL after the talks. "We consider ourselves very strong friends of Armenia. We want a good and successful future for Armenia, a democratic Armenia.... So we are here to try to assess the situation and talk with the Armenian government about how we can help move the government further in the direction of democracy," he said.
Specifically, Schiff stressed U.S. concerns that at least some of those detained and sentenced in the wake of the postelection protests and the violent clashes on March 1-2 in Yerevan between police and security forces and Ter-Petrossian supporters were targeted purely because of their political affiliation. "We've raised concern about the detention of anyone who was detained for political reasons, and we certainly hope that the government addresses these issues," he said. "No one is advocating that people that committed violent crimes be released or not be subject to trial. But people should not be detained or put to trial for merely expressing their views."
The pro-Ter-Petrossian daily "Haykakan zhamanak" noted on May 24 that U.S. President George W. Bush has still not congratulated Sarkisian on his election as president.
The overall pattern of repression has, however, been tempered by two positive moves on the part of the authorities. On May 23, Sarkisian's national-security adviser, Garnik Isagulian, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that Ter-Petrossian will be invited to nominate a representative to Sarkisian's planned public chamber, which will comprise both pro-government and opposition politicians and will focus on key domestic and foreign-policy issues. Isagulian said he would call Ter-Petrossian's office personally "and try to agree terms with them," and then, assuming the invitation was not rejected out of hand, meet personally with Ter-Petrossian's staff to repeat the offer.
But Levon Zurabian, Ter-Petrossian's former presidential spokesman, told RFE/RL the same day that Ter-Petrossian will not embark on any talks with the authorities as long as his supporters remain in jail, as doing so would mean that "the authorities have drawn us into the hostage trade...they would seek to extract a concession from us in exchange for the release of every hostage."
On May 26, state prosecutors agreed in what was termed a goodwill gesture to release opposition Nor Zhamanakner (New Times) party leader Aram Karapetian from pretrial detention, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Karapetian was arrested on February 24 for having circulated DVDs on which he posed incriminating questions to both Kocharian and Sarkisian, and hospitalized with heart problems on May 15.
Georgia Pursues Anti-Armenian Policy During Past 2 Centuries30.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia has always been correct with Georgia as regards the problems existing between the two states. Obviously, the strategy has been exhausted, an Armenian expert said.
“Armenia mustn’t forget the Armenian community in Georgia. Joining our efforts, we can prevent Georgia from its further expansion over the Armenian historical and cultural heritage,” expert at Mitq analytical center Vahe Sargsyan said during “Georgia’s Anti-Armenian Policy” conference in Yerevan.
Under the pretext of integration, Georgia oppresses Armenian candidates for state posts and bans the native language in Armenian schools, according to him.
“Georgia’s anti-Armenian policy has a 2-century record. 90 years ago Georgia let Turkish troops in Akhalkalaki and Akhaltsikhe to slaughter 40-50 thousand Armenians. During the soviet period, Tbilisi did its utmost to isolate Georgia from Armenia. The same policy was preserved after Georgia obtained independence. In 1990-ies, when Armenia was cut off the entire world, Georgians constantly blew up the gas pipeline and robbed trains. Now, Georgia fails to adopt a law on national minorities, as required by the Council of Europe,” he said.
Interview: Fatih Akin, Turkish Atom Egoyan, With Better Hair, R.M. Vaughan
globeandmail.com, May 30, 2008
The first time I visited Germany, I noticed that every third shop appeared to be owned and run by Turkish Germans. "Yes," my Canadian hosts told me, "Turks are everywhere in Germany - and nobody talks to them, unless they need something cleaned."
As one of the largest diasporic communities in Europe, Germany's Turks (many of whom were born in Germany, but are still regarded as outsiders) are caught between two universes: the go-go new Germany, happily enmeshed with the European Union, and their homeland, which lives in constant anxiety about its future. While Germans enjoy the freedom and security of a unified Europe, Turks wonder not only if they will ever be part of Europe, but if their state will remain secular and democratic.
Turkish-German actor-director Fatih Akin explores these tensions in his latest film The Edge of Heaven - a pensive potboiler that follows the members of a complexly blended family as they move back and forth between the two countries, trying to sort out where they all belong.
Assured and confident, The Edge of Heaven takes its melodramatic time, allowing the viewer to chew over the characters' various (and often furious) political and personal misgivings. His strategy is simple, but effective: Put two characters from very different worlds in a room, turn on the camera, and watch sparks fly.
Given that The Edge of Heaven is such a chatty movie, it's hardly surprising that Akin himself turns out to be a power talker. Jumping from art to politics to filmmaking, Akin is the Turkish Atom Egoyan, but with better hair.
You cast a very wide net with this film.
There was a lot of stuff I wanted to tell in the film. I know the problem when you make a film and you don't know what it's about, I know that this is a crisis. But this is really the opposite. I was full of all the information in the film, the political situation in Turkey, the different kinds of relationships in the film, the gap between the European Union and Turkey, and, and, and, and! There was a lot of stuff! That was difficult, to manage that all in one film, to not overrun the audience, not to make it worthless. I cut out a lot of film. We can put it in the DVD, all the extras!
Although we see bad behaviour in the film, there are no real villains. You avoided finger-pointing.
It's how I see the world, how I see human beings. I really don't believe in good or bad in my life philosophy, even if it's easy in film. For me, cinema is a reflection of life, a reflection of society and my thoughts.
Is it also a reflection of your own mixed heritage?
Yeah, definitely yes. That has, I mean, still an impact on my work. I would like to do pure genre somehow too, though. Like a western, or political thriller. At the beginning of this film, it started off that way, but it became a philosophical puzzle instead.
The Edge of Heaven is a very patient film. We are given large chunks of information and dialogue, which seems counter to the way people absorb the world today.
But what you describe is something that is based on Western cinema. Our generation in the West is fast, fast, fast. But I don't know how healthy this is. I have done that in movies, and might do it in the future again, but if you look at Asian cinema - Taiwanese cinema, Chinese cinema, Persian cinema - it is slow. It lets you breathe, it makes you think. And also because this film is so full, I thought maybe it would be better to put the camera at a distance and let it stay. I'm a big Ang Lee fan! He takes time. But taking time and making something boring are not the same. You have to make it not boring, trust the pictures to tell the stories.
Fassbinder's great muse Hanna Schygulla has a key role in your film. Was this meant as a tribute to Fassbinder?
My very first film, in 1997, led to people comparing me to Fassbinder, so now I have reached the climax by using Fassbinder's great actress! Ha! There is a huge discussion now in Germany, am I the new Fassbinder? Well, I'm not! Ha! I don't want to be!
You'd have to make three films a year, like he did.
Ha! Yes! But my rhythm is every three years, one film! I need more time! Fassbinder was very direct; he always chose the shortest way to tell something, and maybe this is a common thing between us. I don't like to hang around and hide my information.
What's the block keeping Germans, and other Europeans, from embracing multiculturalism?
It's too early for that. In a way, the ideal is like here, Toronto, people from all over the world living together. We don't have that in Germany. The biggest difference between immigrants here and immigrants in Germany is that immigrants here consider themselves Canadians. Turks in Germany still consider themselves Turks - we cannot let it go. And a lot of Germans don't accept us as Germans either. Maybe it's something that takes more time. Immigration to Germany is only 40 years old. Maybe for my children it will be more clear.
Will Turkey join the EU?
I'm not a big EU fan. They never agree about anything! It is not a real union. We need certain laws in Turkey, for free speech and better education, but it's sad that Turkey has just an interest in these improvements to join the EU, and not to better Turkey itself.
BORN Aug. 25, 1973, Hamburg,Germany HOMETOWN BOY
Akin still lives in Hamburg, with his wife and son. In 1995, his first short film received the Audience Award at the Hamburg International Short Film Festival.A METEORIC RISE
After making his feature debut in 1997, Akin found the international spotlight when his third film, Head-On, won the Golden Bear - the top award - at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival. He was just 30.
COMING TO AMERICA
Akin was invited to direct a segment in a new all-star anthology film, New York, I Love You (along with the Coen brothers and Gus Van Sant). "It makes no sense to love the cinema and not ... work there," Akin told an interviewer recently. "If you love the cinema, you have to love America."
Lobbying The Turkish Way May 30, 2008, Nese Yahya Istanbul-Turkish Daily News
Lobbying is quite a useful tool, if performed effectively of course. Those who want to influence international political or economic decision making, especially when certain new policy is still at its preparation stage, know very well how to successfully implement lobbying as part of their strategy. Apparently, that's the reason why there are currently around 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels, mainly consultants, lawyers, associations, corporations and NGOs who are seeking to influence the EU's legislative process. Out of these, some 2,600 special interest groups have established a permanent office in this European capital.
No doubt, lobbying is very crucial for Turkey, an accession country to the EU. Yet, compared to the activities of Croatia, another accession country, our lobbying activities seem to be quite limited. The chief negotiator of Croatia for instance is established almost permanently in Brussels, spending half the year there and the other half in Zagreb. His counterpart in Turkey however ? Ali Babacan is wearing two hats. Besides being a chief negotiator for the EU process, he is a foreign minister and holds various other responsibilities. This in turn, makes his task of chief negotiator a difficult one. His international traveling agenda is quite tight. Even if regular visits to Brussels are assigned, their number is far behind compared to the activities of other countries or compared to the benchmark of what is called "effective lobbying." It is a fact that a presence in front of the relevant authorities is imperative, especially when one wants to be understood in the right way. And this is particularly true for the case of Turkey, where we all like to think that we are quite often misunderstood.
A year or so ago, I happened to visit the European communication office ? external affairs (or simply the lobbying office) of Unilever in Brussels and talk about the structure and processes they implement specifically while aiming to influence policy making related to food and additives. This office effectively represents the multinational with key stakeholder audiences including politicians and regulators, non-governmental organizations, industry associations and academia.
Thinking of lobbying issue on a national level, I am just questioning how many of the top local companies in Turkey have engaged in this type of activity, either through their own office or by employing the services of various lobbyists. To align and ensure coherence of communication on external affairs policies and issues it is important that a company has a presence at this level. Of course, TUSIAD, The Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association had set up offices in Brussels, Washington, Paris, Berlin and had recently opened another one in Beijing. For sure, this is a must for collective lobbying as the association tries to push issues on macro level, but the importance of a company's own premises and its own communication team in critical locations should not be underestimated.
The Expo candidacy of Izmir was an excellent example of city branding in Turkey. But one still questions to what extent the disillusionment with the result can be attributed to the Turkish way of lobbying. This particular experience had proved that something is not quite right in the way we lobby. Or in other words, there are still many lessons to be learned on this issue; a significant one is to know how to influence the vote and how to reach key decision makers. Is it by engaging national artists like Sertab Erener and Fazil Say, who eventually appeared at the last phase of the publicity campaign of Izmir or is it by organizing a promotional campaign involving artists popular within the voting countries, like the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Ddur and the football player from Surinam, playing in Milan team? What about getting the support of world-wide prominent figures like Al Gore, just as Milan did? Well, the result explains it all, but as far as we keep learning and not repeating mistakes, no problem.
A 'lobbyist' through film
This week the Turkish film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival. For sure, it was not lobbying, but mere competence that brought him the Golden Palm award. But still, during the ceremony speech, saying from the bottom of his heart, I am dedicating this prize to my lonely and beautiful country which I passionately love I guess was another, silent, but very much sincere and humane way of lobbying for an image of a country. I raise my hat to his success and indeed genuinely hope that there will be many more to come. NOTE: Nese Yahya is the managing director of Expatia, a company providing services to foreigners who wish to settle in Turkey and foreign companies who invest here. www.expatia.net
TABDC: Discussion Of Genocide And Karabakh Issues Make Turkey-Armenia Reconciliation Possible
29.05.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Mosaic Institute invited Kaan Soyak, the Co-chair of the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council (TABDC) to Toronto to address a group of Canadians of Turkish and Armenian origin at a dinner reception on May 22, independent French journalist Jan Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.
Kaan Soyak and Arsen Ghazarian, the Armenian Co-chair, established the TABDC in 1997, as a think tank NGO aimed to improve relations between Armenia and Turkey.
The mission of the TABDC is to seek normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia by opening the border between the two countries, which has been closed for more than a decade. In addition, the TABDC advocates establishing diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia.
The Embassies of both Turkey and Armenia in Ottawa sent senior representatives to the Toronto meeting convened by the Mosaic Institute. In addition, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada sent a senior diplomat to be present at the Mosaic Institute event.
"There was a wonderful atmosphere of respect and willingness to listen" said Vahan Kololian, Chairman of the Mosaic Institute. "Clearly the TABDC is doing important work in the Caucuses region, and it is important for them to know that many in the Turkish and Armenian Diaspora support their efforts," he said.
Mr. Soyak said, "It is the position of the TABDC that diplomatic relations can be established and borders can be opened, while the Genocide issue and the Nagorno Karabakh problem continue to be studied and discussed.”
Ancc: Turkey Has Distinction Of Being World’s Worst Perpetrator Of Crimes Against Humanity
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian National Committee of Canada recently participated in two important historic commemorations - for the Pontian Genocide and the Rwandan Genocide victims. On May 18, the Brotherhood Pontian of Toronto organized a memorial for the 353,000 Pontian Greek victims of atrocities perpetrated by the Turkish government from 1916 to 1923.
Among the 350 people who attended the commemoration were a high-ranking Greek Cabinet minister, a member of the Greek parliament, and representatives of the department of foreign affairs of Greece, the ANCC told PanARMENIAN.Net.
The memorial was held at St. Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Church in Toronto.
The keynote speaker Michael Charalampidis, author, and member of the executive committee of the International Association for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, emphasized the imperative for Pontians around the world to organize and to become more politically active in the international recognition of the Pontian Genocide.
Furthermore, he said he appreciated and valued the pioneering work of the Armenian National Committee and the Armenian people, at large, in their political activism and in paving the way for the Pontian community to follow in their footsteps.
Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC), urged the international community and governments “not to be selective in their condemnation, as their political and economic interests dictate, but to bring to justice the Turkish genocide perpetrators and their accomplices. Today the Turkish government, encouraged by the international community’s silence, is not only denying the Armenian, Pontian, and Assyrian Genocides and continuing its illegal occupation of Cyprus, but it has also launched a genocide against the Kurds.”
Babikian said it’s “imperative for us to stand united in solidarity, to remind the world of the Turkish government’s past and present crimes, and to demand that the international community to stop its appeasement policies towards a fascist and racist Turkish government which has the distinction of being the world’s worst perpetrator of crimes against humanity.”
Babikian reminded the gathered that the “rampant extreme nationalism, prejudice and xenophobia in contemporary Turkey is an ominous sign and a reminder of the climate which existed in Turkey in the early 20th century.”
He added that Canada and the international community can send a clear and unequivocal message to the Turkish government that the international community will not tolerate such inhuman treatment of our fellow human beings and will not allow the genocide denial machine to operate with impunity.
On April 4, the ANCC participated in a press conference at the Gatineau city hall to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the genocide of Rwanda’s Tutsi minority. The press conference was organized by the HUMURA Association, with the participation of the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Association of Darfur, and ANCC.
Genocide denial was the theme of the press conference. At the end of the conference the participants signed a letter bringing to the attention of the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, that “genocide deniers hide behind the veil of dubious scholars of the ‘truth’ who increase the agony of the victims’ wounds that have never healed… While Canada rightly protects fundamental liberties, including the liberty of expression, we strongly believe that genocide deniers should never enjoy constitutional guarantees to propagate heinous and racist speeches targeting specific ethnic groups in Canada.”
Babikian said that he considered it ANCC’s privilege and honor to participate in the gatherings to “show our friendship with other genocide victim nations. We, the survivors of similar heinous crimes, or the descendents of those who survived, must unite to remind the international community that such crimes will not be forgotten, denied or be allowed to be repeated. We owe it to our martyrs who paid the ultimate price for intolerance, xenophobia and hatred.”
Monument To Armenian Genocide Victims Unveiled In Cyprus29.05.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ On May 28, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias unveiled a monument to the Armenian Genocide victims, saying that he remains committed to creating a better future for all Cypriots, in a peaceful and reunited Cyprus.
The President referred to the integration of Armenians, who fled Turkey and arrived on the island. He praised their successful entrepreneurial spirit, saying they have made the country proud.
"This site is very symbolic; this is where the first Armenians, who fled for their lives in 1915, first landed on the island,” he said, as he unveiled the memorial in the southern coastal town of Larnaca.
"This memorial is an expression of appreciation shown by the Cypriot people for the hospitality and support to Armenians who have since made Cyprus their home."
Christofias reiterated his respect and solidarity as well as deep feelings of love to the Armenian community here, noting that Cyprus offered them a new beginning and was a refuge at difficult times.
Referring to the political situation in Cyprus, he said his government would not cease to work for a united peaceful and prosperous country for all its citizens, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Latins and Maronites.
He noted that Cyprus has suffered from a military coup, Turkey’s invasion and the continuing occupation of its northern part. Thousands of people have been displaced; many of them Armenians and people have been separated.
"Our ultimate goal is to reunite our country and our people in a bizonal bicommunal federation with one sovereignty, one citizenship and one international personality," he stressed.
He closed his remarks by assuring the Armenian community that he will continue to strive for a better future for the country and all its people.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, the Ambassador of Armenia Vahram Kazhoyan said: "93 years ago Armenia was in tragedy. Genocide had already started on the territory of historic Armenia. 93 years ago we were mourning and we still mourn the victims, the memory of the victims of the genocide which started ion 24th April 1915."
However, he said, "Armenia has survived and today is a day of festivities for Armenia, it is a big holiday for Armenia, today is the rebirth of our first Republic back in 1918. In 1918 in May after victory in three major battles against Ottoman Turkey Armenians established their first Republic after 700 years of non independence."
"After a lot of difficulties we have survived thanks to the help of our friends, and amongst these friends was Cyprus. One of those people was the Cypriot people who helped Armenia since the first days of the genocide and who was among the first countries who recognized the genocide officially in 1982," he pointed out.
Armenia and Cyprus since the independent of Armenia 70 years ago have been in the international arena, as friends helping each other with a lot of understanding between them, he noted.
“I am sure that the monument in the promenade of Larnaca will become not only one of the major monuments dedicated to the Armenian Genocide all over the world, but I am confident that it will become one of the beautiful landmarks of Larnaca,” he added, and thanked the Municipality of Larnaca and the government of Cyprus, The Famagusta Gazette reports.
Book review; ‘My Grandmother: A Memoir’ by Fethiye Çetin
As a girl, Turkish lawyer Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as an adored Muslim matriarch by the name of Seher. Then she learned that Seher had been born an Armenian Christian, Haranus, who, several decades before, had been seized from the clasp of her mother by a World War I Turkish gendarmerie corporal officiating over a column of Armenians being marched out of Anatolia.
"My Grandmother," now out in a translation by novelist Maureen Freely, is Çetin's compelling account of her gradual discovery of the deep contradiction between her proud nationalist education and the realities buried deep in Turkish society. The bare narrative offers few moral and historical judgments, few dates, no maps, no politics. There is also no discussion of whether the disappearance of the Armenians of Anatolia was the result of a genocide or massacres or civil war. Surprises abound: for instance, Seher came to feel great affection for the corporal as a new father. Asked why it all happened by Çetin, all the grandmother can ask back is, "What should I know?"
The fast-selling original of the book is part of a genre in modern Turkish literature that tries to make amends for the gaping hole left by the Armenians in the country's public history. The theme is dominant in both Orhan Pamuk's recent "Snow" and Elif Safak's "The Bastard of Istanbul." Çetin's book is already required reading for students in progressive Turkish institutions like Sabanci University in Istanbul. Along with occasional recent exhibitions and conferences about the lost Armenians, these are part of a trend in Turkey that is grappling with a history of denial, nationalism and fears of political consequences.
Altogether eight Armenian girls ended up as new-minted Muslims in the small Turkish town where Çetin's grandmother found herself. Even her brother Horen survived to become known as a shepherd called Ahmet. Initially working as domestic servants, then as free wives and mothers, they kept alive customs like colored candy-bread, which they would share at Easter without letting the children know why; they labored under discrimination enough already. Everyone in town knew they were of Armenian origin. Their official papers registered them as "converts," but they were mocked in the streets as "converts' sperm" or the "leftovers of the sword." The family is convinced this was why one talented relative was unable to take up a place in a good military school.
Translator Freely, in a valuable introduction, reckons there could today be 2 million such descendants of Armenians among Turkey's population of 75 million. More than 30 other ethnicities still survive, and this new proof of the impossibility of repressing its inherent multi-ethnicity helps explain the shrillness and sometimes schizophrenia of Turkey's one-nation ideologues. Çetin argues that all in Anatolia are of "impure blood."
The pain of the Turkish Armenians is not yet over. As a lawyer, Çetin represents the family of murdered Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, cut down in January 2007 by a young man inspired by this same deep-rooted nationalism, and hailing from Trabzon, an eastern Turkish city with a history of ethnic trauma. As Çetin's grandmother warns her children, telling them not to be afraid as they pass by a cemetery, "Evil comes from the living, not the dead."
"My Grandmother: A Memoir" by Fethiye Çetin , With an introduction by Maureen Freely, Published by Verso, ISBN: 978-1844671694, $14.71 in hardcover 02 June 2008, HUGH POPE
Reading Turks’ Minds Through ‘Valley’
Nothing worked. Due to the violent content of the series, I tried to keep my son away from the television on Thursdays, when my husband, who is normally committed to playing with our son after work, was hypnotized by the “Valley of the Wolves, Ambush” series.
Eventually, I found the solution to be to knock on the door of my next-door neighbor, who was kind of suffering from the same mania, with my son and some slices of cake in hand.
But what is it that draws him and his fellow workers to the series, so much so that Fridays were full of dialogue from the last episode of “Valley” “The Valley of the Wolves, Ambush,” which will wrap up this Thursday, usually gets the highest ratings, including its re-runs. “It is themselves who they find so appealing in the series; it is their lives and their souls that they find,” says psychiatrist and associate professor Erol Göka, chosen “Intellectual of the Year” in 2006 by the Writers Union of Turkey with his book “The Psychology of Turks.”
“The series is incredibly successful in dealing with the setting, characters and action, and it sums up the state of the emotions of our people very well. The work of fiction also does a good job in making enemies,” says Göka, who also heads the psychiatry clinic of Ankara Numune Hospital.
On that point, Ilham Khalilov, a psychologist from the Zen counseling center in Istanbul, agrees with Dr. Göka. “Every character is depicted with a particular feature. For example, Iskender, the narcissistic head of an unknown power, has been portrayed so well that his character comes through even in the language he uses.” The characters even evolve as we do in real life, says Khalilov, pointing to Abdulhey, the manliest man, the bravest heart of all, the one no one can catch smiling, as an example. “He was more masculine at the beginning of the series. Now he has turned into someone else.”
Khalilov also links the obsession with strong, masculine characters -- portrayed so well by protagonists Polat, Memati and others -- with the lack of an authority figure at home. In Turkey, he argues, as the father is usually at work, a dependent relationship between the mother and child exists. “For this reason the father figure is usually not prominent in the family, leading the child to look for an authority figure outside of home.” But the argument does not apply to adult men, Khalilov says.
The two experts share the same view on whether the series would ever become a bad example for teenage boys -- who are already busy building an identity and simultaneously trying to adapt to changes brought about by puberty -- because it is a frequent scene of violence in which people kill with no trace of regret on their face. That fact alone would give a false idea to a young mind that killing a person is not serious and that guns are not that harmful after all. Psychologist Khalilov plays down this option but says there are exceptions. Only mentally imbalanced individuals would be motivated by a work of fiction -- say, a movie or a story -- according to him. A healthy adult male can easily differentiate between fiction and reality, and that is the case with “Valley,” Dr. Göka believes.
The series tells the story of an intelligence officer, Polat, whose mission, given to him by men from the deep state, is to infiltrate a gang in order to get rid of it. He then ends up establishing his own gang because of corruption in the system that once employed him. Throughout this entire story, the men in his gang are depicted as heroes in terms of their loyalty to Polat, though their human side is portrayed at times. This characterization of the men as having flaws makes the series likeable, says Khalilov.
A disturbing question, though, continues to bother the mind. It is of no harm to adult men, but what about teenagers struggling to find role models and dealing with raging hormones That is, would the series have played into the wicked hands of those who want to use the young in their ill-intentioned scenarios like assassinations of prominent public figures such as slain journalist Hrant Dink The Turkish-Armenian journalist was murdered by a 17-year-old who was later found to have links to a gang. Dr. Göka disagrees with this argument, voiced by many. He even goes further by saying: “No, I don’t agree with that at all. We cannot judge a whole nation by the crimes of a few punks -- That is a crime bigger than crime itself.” What he says then is remarkable: “A Turk’s mind doesn’t understand racism. Though Turks are a warrior community, as all historians agree, they are the nation which has the greatest tolerance in the world.”
Khalilov sees a connection between the socioeconomic background and gangs. “Children of less educated and less wealthy parents are more likely to be involved in gangs. A teenager who lacks those things would look for wealth and power outside his or her family,” Khalilov says.
Göka, who deals with the community psychology of Turks in his book “The Psychology of Turks,” discusses the argument that it addresses Turks’ need for guns and that it is for that reason popular among a nation famous for its gift of forming armies. What he says is nothing new: Turks are a military society. “The well-known trio, ‘At-Avrat-Silah,’ [Horse-Woman-Gun] is of great importance in our ‘historical psychology.’ The point is that it is not only the weapons, but also our ‘warrior state of mind.’ I do not know how other societies are, but Turks are like that. And we can never analyze anything correctly without realizing this feature of ours. Turks are well known in history for their warrior features. Turks, fighting without gender discrimination, fought not only for their nation; they were employed as warriors by other nations’ armies because of their well-established war tactics. Therefore it is not this relation between Turks and guns which make ‘Valley’ a must-see on Tuesdays,” Göka says, giving another perspective on Turkey’s “deep state.” “The major part of the success of the series lies in the fact that it can make us ask questions about some issues in order for them to come under the spotlight in a country in which a great deal of secret and suspicious business has taken place.” “To some extent, it helps to calm our paranoia [or the skeptic within].”
On the other hand, Zekayi Altun, a fan of the series, says, “I don’t think it is about the guns.” What he finds so spellbinding in “Valley” is its scenario, which ties the latest developments in Turkey with fiction. He also dismissed the idea of guns being a “bad example” by invoking Memati’s drug problem. Memati, a picture-perfect example of a strong man in the series with his courage, is forced to use drugs during his captivity by the antagonists of the series. Polat then comes to his rescue, but by then, Memati is already a drug addict. On that point, Polat’s father, a mosque preacher, tries to encourage him to quit. The pious man functions as a messenger throughout the series, says Polat. Therefore, the series can balance its violence with a message about the results of the guns.” He adds: “For instance, in the latest episode, at least 10 minutes were spent explaining the harms of drugs. I am sure those with a tendency to imitate the crimes in the series also take their cues from what Polat’s father, who is even good to his enemy, preaches and models with his role.”
The series’ fans are not all men. Fatma Yeler, 85, used to watch it when Elif, Polat’s ill-fated lover in the series’ first season, was alive. The scriptwriter killed her in a tragic car accident. “They fight less and are less entertaining,” Yeler says. “They have not filled the gap that Elif’s absence has left,” says another former fan, Nevin Öztürk, a 40-year-old housewife from one of Istanbul’s upscale districts.
The series is rated “seven and above” by the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK). I ask Zekayi if his wife and young daughter watch it. “No,” he says. The series’ season finale is this Thursday. Though the questions asked above still remain unanswered, there is something for sure: Zekayi’s wife, children and I will finally catch a breather from this show this summer. 02 June 2008, Pinar Tas Istanbul
Award-Winning Scientist Back At Work To Save Endangered Lake
Dr. Çagan Hakki Sekercioglu
His parents took him to a child psychologist when he was six years old because they were worried about his “unusual habits,” such as bringing home insects, frogs and lizards and reading loads of information about these creatures.
But the psychologist said there was no problem and that he needed “proper mentoring,” and Çagan Hakki Sekercioglu continued his endeavors to become a well-known conservation ecologist, ornithologist, tropical biologist and nature photographer.
On May 21, Dr. Sekercioglu became the first person from Turkey to receive the United Kingdom’s most prestigious environmental award, the Whitley Award, in the 15-year history of the prize for his work at Kuyucuk Lake in Kars, a northeastern province of Turkey.
For Monday Talk, he provided the details of his work at Kuyucuk Lake and explained why it should be protected.
Before discussing the award-winning project, let’s first talk about you. How did you find yourself in this area of work and study?
Since my early childhood years, I have been interested in wildlife and animals. In encyclopedias, I would look at the pictures of animals and nothing else. I would have my parents read me the articles about those animals, and they were sick and tired of reading the same stories over and over again, so I was forced to read them myself. I surprised my parents by reading at the age of four and a half. I spent my childhood in Ataköy (a district of Istanbul), and it was greener and wilder back then. I would spend a lot of time outdoors and catch lizards, turtles, insects and frogs and bring them home. I would keep and raise them. My parents became worried and took me to a child psychologist. I mentioned in my Whitley acceptance speech that my early career in biology almost came to an early end when I was 6 years old.
Hopefully, the psychologist supported you.
He told my parents that they should encourage me. But in Turkey who would do that They just let me be.
You’ve received some scholarships, right?
I received full scholarships to Harvard University and to Stanford University. When I went to Robert College, it was much less expensive compared to today; but I still really needed a scholarship because my family is a typical Turkish middle-class family. Only when I was 16 we moved into this apartment out of a rental. My brother, who is eight years younger than me, won the exam and got a chance to go to Üsküdar American High School, but he couldn’t because my parents could not afford it.
Now about your project, why Kuyucuk Lake?
The project is a conservation, restoration, environmental education, research and eco-tourism initiative at Kuyucuk Lake of Kars in northeastern Turkey. This lake is a globally designated important bird and biodiversity area. We counted over 30,000 birds in one day on the lake, especially during fall migration. Throughout most of the year you’ll see thousands of birds there, except in December through February, when the lake is frozen. We have documented more than 160 bird species, and I’m sure there will be more than 200 bird species recorded as we study it more. The lake is small, but there are a lot of birds. We counted over 20,000 ruddy shelduck in September 2004. This is nearly 12 percent of the world population found on one day on Kuyucuk.
The Whitley Awards committee values projects with local impact and local support, right?
Absolutely, you would never think this is a small lake. One of the finalists of the Whitley Award was a man who was trying to save 1 million hectares of Amazon rainforest. If they just looked at the size, they would have decided differently. But they appreciated the fact that our project involves lots of local support, all the way from villagers to the mayor and the governor.
What is it that attracts this variety of birds to Kuyucuk Lake?
It is a productive wetland surrounded by intensive grazing and agriculture. It is protected from hunting and it is located right on the eastern Turkey bird migration flyway, which is one of the most important flyways in the world. Tens of thousands of birds have to rest, feed and breed there. It’s also a very clean lake, both chemically and biologically.
Have you spotted any rare birds there?
We spotted a few, for example, the spur-winged plover, not recorded in the area before. This bird is seen mostly in Africa, the Middle East and southern Anatolia, and only in warmer climates. The closest location where it is found is 640 kilometers away. But on April 23, I saw and photographed one, a beautiful bird that we didn’t expect to find there. Recently, we also saw six endangered and beautiful red-breasted geese, a greater sand plover, a Caspian tern and a super-rare white-tailed plover.
Right after getting your award, you went to the region again. Could you tell us what you did there?
We monitor birds. We catch birds with special bird nets that are 12 meters in length and 2.5 meters high. Birds cannot see it and they hit the net and then they dangle in the pocket. We put very lightweight rings on them, or bands as they are called in the United States. Each ring has a unique identification number.
So various aspects of a bird’s life can be studied by being able to locate the same bird again?
Yes, the finder can use the address on the ring, give the ID number and be told the known history of the bird’s movements. Near the Aras River, we ringed a bird which was later shot in Cyprus; we caught a hawk with an Israeli ring; we caught a bird coming from Moscow, and a swallow with a South African ring, a Turkish distance record. This is a way to determine the migration flyways, patterns of bird movements for large populations.
When did you go to Kuyucuk Lake for the first time?
September 2003, and we started the project in 2004. I go there twice a year, in spring and fall, during migration, when the area is the most biological activity.
You also travel to other regions in the world to observe and research birds. Could you tell us more about this?
I have major projects in Costa Rica and Ethiopia. I did my Ph.D. project in Costa Rica. I received my Ph.D. in 2003, but I have continued working on the project. This year was my 10th year there. I think it’s the biggest tropical radio-tracking project. Radio tracking means putting a small radio-tracking device with an antenna on birds. They give a signal about every two seconds. So we can walk in the forest and follow an individual bird for weeks or even months.
What do you find out about birds that way?
We can tell what they eat, their habitat, nesting type and their means of survival. We found that the juvenile mortality rate was 55 times higher than adult mortality. Another interesting project relates to coffee plantations versus forests in Costa Rica. We found that forest is three times better for the long-term productivity of the species than the coffee plantations. But no one knew this before.
Is radio tracking a new technique?
No, but tracking young birds with radio, especially in the tropics, is relatively new. Even with established methods, such as bird monitoring, ringing and bird counts you can find out things that won’t give you the whole picture.
You’ve been given 60,000 pounds as part of the award. How do you plan to spend it?
It is all allocated. When you apply for a Whitley, they ask you for a very detailed project budget. (Showing the glass rectangle prism and the paper award), these are all the awards I received personally. The money does not come to me. It goes to the society, Kuzey Doga Society, bank account. We have to buy ecological monitoring equipment and research supplies. I have to pay the salaries of my team. We plan to hire an eco-tourism consultant with the money from the budget, and we will use it for our vehicle expenses during research in the region. We don’t have a car but we need one, and the money is not enough to buy a vehicle because we have other priority expenses. We are field biologists, but we cannot afford a field vehicle. So we need to rent a car. I have been to 60 countries, but I have never seen more expensive car rentals than in Kars. There is no competition.
How much are the rentals?
We tried to rent a four-wheel-drive last year and they asked for YTL 250 ($200) a day. After a lot of bargaining, we got it for YTL 200. In Costa Rica, a brand new Nissan Pathfinder is $50 a day. So we usually rent a regular car which cannot take us deep into the forest, or we borrow a professor’s car; she kindly offers us her car for free quite often. And the award is for 60,000 pounds but half of it is for next year. We have to give them a report and they have to be satisfied with what we have done to release it.
Does the project in Kars have any financial support from Turkey?
No, Americans and Britons are supporting it. They value our biodiversity more than we do.
Is there at least an increasing interest in supporting your project in Turkey?
The local government is very interested in it. The governor and the mayor are very supportive in terms of facilitating things. They will pay for the guards and the fence to protect the lake from too many cows. The governor gave us an empty school building to use as a tourist guesthouse. The environment and forestry directorate gives us research permits. We collaborate with Kafkas University in the region. Arpaçay kaymakam (an administrator within a province) recently gave us YTL 1,000 -- a first and a very nice gesture -- to buy a chicken wire fence and poles to use in a cattle exclosure experiment. He wants to improve our research cabin. Another positive development occurred when I was in Kars this time around. At the district office of the Ministry of Forestry and Environment, they said they will provide support for our publications.
What publications do you have other than the calendars full of beautiful photographs of birds in the Kars region?
I have published a bird watching chapter in a tourism guide for Kars, an article on birding in Igdir and Kars in an American bird watching magazine, many articles in Turkish magazines and newspapers, and a poster of the birds of Igdir. We are also working on scientific articles.
How are you using the funding from the Christensen Fund, one of the main sponsors of your project?
Their mission is to give seed money to encourage things which would then find local support. They want local people to show ownership of the project and support it as well.
How are things going at the local level?
The governor gave us an empty school building to turn into a guest house for eco-tourists, but there are no decent showering facilities or toilets. The building has to be cleaned and painted, and none of this is in our budget. If this is done, it will be good for the village as well because tourists could stay in the village, eat, sleep and spend their money there. This should be a task of Kuyucuk businessmen who are outside of Kars and mostly in Istanbul. We are trying to help their village.
I noticed that last year an Armenian project received the Whitley Award. It’s right across the border near Kars, right?
The Armenian project is about protecting and educating about storks. Actually, the symbol of Igdir (eastern province of Turkey) is the white stork. When I saw the Armenian project, I thought, we could have done that in Igdir. It’s an easy project, but it shows you the importance of marketing. Storks are not even endangered. They are declining in parts of the world, but it really is not a conservation priority. But storks get everyone’s attention, they are symbols of wetlands, and they are charismatic birds.
Why was it so important for you to save Kuyucuk Lake, outside of its ecological qualities?
Everyone has to do his or her share. If everyone saved one Kuyucuk, we would have saved 29 planets. If you do the math, 219 hectares (the area of the lake) times 6.7 billion people (world population) equals 29 times the surface area of the planet. In terms of bird numbers, Kuyucuk has 30,000 birds and the world has about 86 billion individual wild birds. That is 13 birds per person. If every person saved 13 birds, every bird would be saved. So I’m doing the job of 2,300 people!
Dr. Çagan Hakki Sekercioglu
Sekercioglu was the recipient of two awards on May 21 -- the Whitley Award, donated by the William Brake Charitable Trust, and the United Kingdom’s most prestigious environmental award, the Whitley Gold Award, for his work at Kuyucuk Lake, in Kars province of northeastern Turkey.
Sekercioglu was born in 1975 in Istanbul and graduated from Robert College with highest honors. He went on to receive biology and anthropology degrees from Harvard University before obtaining his Ph.D. on a full scholarship from Stanford University in biological sciences. His doctoral research focused on the causes and consequences of bird extinctions around the world. He is the recipient of various awards and honors, including the silver medal in the fourth International Biology Olympics in 1993 and JCI Turkey’s outstanding young environmental and moral leader of the year in 2003. He is currently a senior research scientist with Stanford University’s department of biological sciences. email@example.com 02 June 2008, Yonca Dogan Poyraz
Turkish Neo-Nationalists And Global Ultra-Nationalists Form An Axis Of Evil
Neo-conservative scholar Michael Rubin addressed a forum on global leadership hosted by Bahçesehir University in Istanbul last week (L). Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin (R), Workers' Party Chairman Dogu Perinçek (C), who was arrested recently in connection with a police crackdown on the Ergenekon gang, and former Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals Vural Savas, are seen together in Istanbul in this photo dated December 2004 (R).
Why would Gündüz Aktan, a former ambassador and a declared nationalist, refer to both Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) and Schmitt's staunch critic, Leo Strauss (1899-1973), in the same article as sources of inspiration to define the current domestic political struggle in Turkey?
Aktan did this in his farewell article to the readers of the Radikal daily on June 9, 2007 and claimed that Turkey's situation coincided with Schmitt's view that politics is a struggle of different lifestyles that can be fatal. Schmitt is known to be the ideologue of National Socialism, and Leo Strauss was a Nazi survivor who immigrated to the US to become the theoretician of the neo-conservative ideology. What brought these two unlikely bedfellows together and made them a source of inspiration to Aktan was their uncompromising antagonism against liberalism. Schmitt believed that through its endeavor to reconcile opposites, liberalism was an effort to change the intrinsic characteristics of politics and Strauss believed in "the continuation of the existing hegemony" by any means necessary. Schmitt believed that war is a way to keep the current hegemony so it has to exist to prevent the spread of liberalism. Strauss believed that "noble lies," robust internationalism, declarations of emergency, immunity from accepted rules and laws and, finally, the aestheticization of violence were all legitimate methods to preserve the standing hegemony.
Turkish neo-nationalists (Ulusalci) do not have the intellectual depth of Gündüz Aktan, but their operational strategies overlap with those of Schmitt and Strauss to such an extent that it is unexplainable without a link between the various embodiments of the Ulusalci ideology -- such as the Semdinli gang, the Red Apple Coalition, the Ergenekon gang and the Republican rallies -- and the two conflicting ideologues of neo-conservatism. The link is in human form: Michael Rubin, Daniel Pipes, Matthew Bryza, Barry Rubin, Zeyno Baran and Soner Çagaptay (directly) and Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Robert Novak (less explicitly).
The most visible link between the American neo-cons and the Turkish Ulusalcis is the love affair between Rubin and the self-marginalized Turkish daily Cumhuriyet. Rubin, an associate of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), is the inventor of the term "Islamofacism." In his articles in the Middle East Forum journal he has openly praised names like Serdar Akinan, Tuncay Özkan and Nihat Genç and compared Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to French racist Jean-Marie Le Pen and Austrian fascist Jörg Haider. What is interesting and unacceptable about Rubin is the fact that though he has attacked Turkey after the March 1 memorandum with the worst of words, he was still invited to the War Academy in Turkey to give a conference. Rubin's claims about Fethullah Gülen reflect the rhetoric of the Ulusalcis to the point that he uses Gülen's name in its distorted form (Fetullah), as is done by the Ulusalcis of Turkey.
For an anti-imperialist newspaper like Cumhuriyet, Rubin, a political strategist working with figures like William Kristol and Robert Kagan who are leading the openly imperialist Project for the New American Century (PNAC), should be the last name to be praised or used as a reliable source in their pages. But this fellow and Cumhuriyet have developed a fruitful relation wherein Rubin cites Cumhuriyet's distortions as a source and then Cumhuriyet carries them to its headlines as if they belonged to Rubin himself. This vicious circle of "referencing" is used by other Ulusalci publications. Aydinlik weekly, for example, uses its relations with Andrey Melnikov of Nezavisimaya, a daily published by the Izvestia Group in Russia, and Yana Amelina, a foreign policy editor for the Russian News Agency, in the same way. They are informed directly by Aydinlik or through its grandmaster Dogu Perinçek's son Mehmet Perinçek, who has a post-graduate degree from Moscow, and later on Aydinlik refers to them as reliable sources of information about the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the future of Turkey, Islam and the Gülen Movement. These Russian names are expectedly from the supporters of the Eurasia Movement and have good relations with Mehmet Perinçek due to his active role in Eurasianist circles. The Moscow bureau of the Ulusalcis is run by Mehmet Perinçek and, in a striking similarity to Rubin, they have also organized conferences in Turkey managing to reach the core of the secularist establishment.
Political analyst Emre Uslu says that it is almost impossible to detect the organic links of the Ulusalcis with the West because these people were the ones who once managed almost all relations between Turkey and the West. So their relations may be a continuation of old innocent relations. These relations are also hard to detect, according to Uslu, because they are being managed by institutions, think-tanks and academicians that have legitimate covers.
The think tanks actively engaging the Turkish Ulusalcis are AEI, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Hudson Institute. The institutional relations between the American neo-cons and the Turkish Ulusalcis are run by the office of Dick Cheney, Richard Perle of AEI and Zeyno Baran of the Hudson Institute on the American side and, on the other side, by Mustafa Süzer, former owner of Kentbank and a close associate of Perle, and Ilhan Selçuk, "big brother" of Cumhuriyet. Süzer's meetings with Dick Cheney were disclosed in the Turkish press and never denied by either side. Selçuk is also reported to have spoken with Cheney's advisors and established a back-channel with the US vice president's office through Elçin Poyrazlar, the Washington representative for Cumhuriyet. Writing in the Yeni Safak daily, Taha Kivanç claimed that this back-channel had already been established before the American occupation of Iraq and that Selçuk had promised the Americans Turkey's support in return for American neo-con support for the Turkish Ulusalcis to come to power in Ankara.
Cengiz Çandar claimed in a recent article in the Referans daily that the Ulusalcis are using the pretext of a future American operation in Iran as an opportunity to convince the neo-cons that an Ulusalci government in Ankara would serve them better.
The think tank connections of the Ulusalcis are working both ways: The Ulusalcis receive tactics and information from the think tanks, and they also try to influence the American administration through the think tanks. One example of this reciprocity can be seen in the articles of the Washington Institute's Çagaptay, in which Çagaptay has not only labeled Turkey's AK Party government as a danger to Turkish-American relations, but has even guided former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on how to prevent the AK Party's further growth and Constitutional reforms. The Hudson Institute meeting in which the scenario of a possible military intervention in Turkey was discussed with two high-ranking Turkish generals in attendance is another example.
This advisory connection is evidenced mainly in newspaper articles from neo-con writers. The Washington Times, The Washington Post and The New York Times frequently publish articles by the American allies of the Ulusalcis. Figures like Rubin, Pipes, Jim Hoagland and Novak try to convince Americans that post-July 22, 2007 Turkey is no longer an ally of the US; that the AK Party government would feel better at home in Iran than in the US; that the AK Party uses the rhetoric of EU membership and economic development to conceal its real intentions; that the real allies of America in Ankara are the soldiers and the American should work with them alone; that Turkey should not be taken into the EU; and that Turkey will soon become a second Iran in the region. One protagonist of this last absurd idea is Rubin, who wrote recently in National Review Online that a prospective return of Gülen to Turkey would have the same effect as Khomeini's return to Iran from Paris and called on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice not to support the AK Party government even in the name of democracy. Rubin was sarcastically critical of the American Ambassador in Ankara Ross Wilson, who managed to convince Rice to stand by democracy in Turkey, claiming that Wilson knew only partying in the garden of the embassy.
Ulusalcis also have allies in the US State Department. Richard Perle is said to have worked on the name of the Turkish Ulusalcis to convince -- successfully - Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Dan Fried that the AK Party is no good for the American policies in or around Turkey. Ali Aslan, the Washington representative of the Zaman daily, thinks that this is the only explanation that could explain why Fried could not stand firm against the e-memorandum of April 27, 2007. It was also claimed that State Department diplomat Matthew Bryza, long-time boyfriend and, more recently, husband of Zeyno Baran, was the person who wrote the declaration read by Fried that gave the Turkish military the "green light" by saying that the Americans were not on any side of the discussion. The extent to which Bryza was influenced by his wife is not known, but the similarities in their rhetoric against the AK Party are striking. Baran, who was already a controversial figure due to her involvement in the infamous Hudson Institute meeting, her article in Newsweek that predicted a military coup in 2007 and her involvement with the colored revolutions in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Ukraine, is known to have given speeches on several occasions claiming that the AK Party would, in time, return to its Islamist roots and that the Turkish public voted for the AK Party on July 22 with the assurance in mind that the army would oust the AK Party if it tried to change the system in Turkey.
Another channel for Ulusalcis to reach American ears is the lobbyists that worked for Turkey in the past but lost their contracts with Ankara. These companies are contracted by Ulusalcis because their names are already associated with that of Turkey. Ulusalcis are even able to reach low-ranking employees of lobbyists that are currently working for Turkey. One such case is the Livingston Group, which campaigns against Armenian genocide allegations. Frank Gaffney, an employee of this company, wrote in a Washington Times article that Turkey should be kept out of the European Union.
The Eastern connections of the Turkish Ulusalcis are more detectable but smaller in number. Russian political scientist Aleksandr Dugin from the Eurasia Movement is well known in this regard. He even protested the recent arrests of Ulusalci Ergenekon militants in Turkey and claimed that Ergenekon was a supporter of Russia in Turkey. He claimed that Veli Küçük was the mastermind of the military project to turn Turkey's face to Russia. Küçük, on the other hand, had activities organized around the Azerbaijan Cooperation Association. Sources following the Ulusalci organizations claim that Dogu Perinçek's daughter, Kiraz Perinçek, who is at the head of the Turkey department of Chinese Radio, and Adnan Akfirat, the head of the Turkish-Chinese Business Association, are working to create a rapprochement between Turkey and China.
The Western and Eastern connections of the Ulusalcis are a reflection of the pre-July 22 election alliance forged between the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Turkey on a global scale, and these relations are no less paradoxical. Ulusalcis want Turkey to close its gates to the world and to "continue their traditional authoritarian elitist hegemony" within these closed gates. But they are not powerful enough to close those gates from within, so they turn to their traditional enemies, "the American imperialists," to shut them in Turkey's face. The irony is that there are some Americans who are lending their ears to that call.
01 June 2008, Kerim Balci Ankara
The Question Babacan Wasn’t Asked In The European Parliament
Abdulhamit Bilici todayszaman.com
I recently listened to the speeches delivered by Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in the European Parliament (EP), where Turkey is subjected to the harshest criticism.
He delivered his first speech at the Joint Parliamentary Committee and then his second speech at the Foreign Affairs Committee. I had to listen to the first one standing because I couldn't find any seats due to my utter amazement at seeing a Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) member currently being sought with an Interpol red notice under the roof of the European Parliament.
I was very annoyed to see somebody sought with a red notice being able to freely enter an institution that represents 27 EU member countries at the heart of the European continent. Our Brussels correspondent, Selçuk Gültasli, and I immediately wrote a news article and sent it to Zaman's Web site. I'm sure you all got angry while reading it. I paid particular attention to this piece, and saw that it remained on the top of the "most read" list throughout the day.
Officials should take care of this strange situation. However, my intention today is not to get stuck in this negative event. Just the contrary, I want to draw your attention to a positive development I observed in both of the sessions Babacan attended.
As you know, following India, the European Parliament is the parliament of the second largest democracy in the world, where the different opinions of 492 million European citizens are represented. In order to truly appreciate the diversity of this structure, where 785 members of parliament elected directly by the votes of EU citizens work, it is enough to look at the plaque at the entrance of the building. "European Parliament" is written in all of the 23 official languages of the union on this rectangular plate. This institution, which calls to mind the Tower of Babel in the legend, has the record of employing the greatest number of interpreters in the world.
The duties of this institution, which grows stronger by the day, are to oversee the democratic monitoring of the EU's institutions and to contribute to the preparation of the budget. However, according to me, the most interesting thing about this is that it is a mirror in which you can hear the pulse of the entire European public beating and which reflects all the colors and thoughts in Europe. The political groups under this roof take shape according to ideologies, not nationalities. The liberal, conservative, green and even fascist elements of Europe are represented there.
I listened to Babacan's speeches and the answers he provided to the questions he was asked in a free environment that contained so many different views on Turkey. But I concentrated on the questions of European politicians and their intonation while directing their questions. Well, what things did they ask? Cyprus, the Aegean issue, the Armenian issue, energy, Article 301, party closures, judicial reforms, the Kurdish issue, the cross-border operation…
What immediately got my attention was that Turkey was almost treated like a family member and that the questions included things the EU did not deem fitting for Turkey, a country which says it takes EU standards as a foundation. Generally, they were questions such as "How can you expedite Nabucco?" "Why have the reforms slowed down?" "When will you open your air and seaports to the Greek Cypriots?" "What steps are you taking against the closure case?" and "Are your archives open in regard to the Armenian issue?"
In my opinion, the minister replied to all the questions very intelligently and very calmly. However, there was one question that was not asked, and I think that it was far more important than the questions that were asked. None of the members of parliament -- including the members of the anti-Turkey groups -- asked whether there was a place in Europe for Turkey. Nobody brought up the theses defended by some European leaders such as Angela Merkel and, in particular, Nicolas Sarkozy. It was as if there were no representatives of the thought that argues that there is no place in Europe for Turkey.
I asked European Parliament member of Turkish origin Vural Öger and the Brussels representative of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSIAD), Bahadir Kaleagasi, what they thought about the developments. They agreed with my assessement on the positive changes regarding Turkey in the European Parliament, noting that such meetings should be held much more frequently.
The fact that the recent report on Turkey, which is said to be the most well-balanced report drawn up so far, was passed with the support of 467 members is an indicator of this change.
While flying to Stockholm from Bratislava, our stop after Brussels, I shared this view of mine, and Babacan agreed with me. He said that by looking at the questions one could see that the general attitude had changed from three years ago, that the members knew Turkey better and that they now asked questions to understand rather than questions not based on facts. He also recounted an anecdote: During his meeting with Elmar Brok, famed for his staunch anti-Turkey stance, in the cafeteria of the parliament, Brok made this confession: "Up until this point, I always wished that the accession talks wouldn't be initiated and that this project would never come to fruition. Now I wish that they would never stop."
As Turkey keeps fulfilling what is incumbent upon on it, this picture will keep growing more positive unless we yield to despair.