2575) Media Scanner 31 Aug 2008 (136 Items)

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
  1. WWIII: Turkey's Options, STRATFOR,
  2. President Of Turkey Gul To Visit Armenia
  3. Turkey Not Ready To Recognize the Genocide of Armenians by Prof.Dr. Ruben Safrastyan
  4. Armenia-Turkey By Armen Tsatouryan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily,Towards New Solutions
  5. Dashnaktsutyun To Raise The Voice Of Revolt By Lilit Poghosyan
  6. Discussions Continue by Hayots Ashkhar Daily
  7. Armenian Opposition Party Critical Of Dashnaks' Anti-Turkish Protest Plans
  8. Interview Of Armenian President Sargsyan To Turkish Daily "Radikal"
  9. Cold War Caricatures Don't Tell The Georgian Story: War In The Caucasus Is Anything But A Tidy, Black-And-White Story
  10. Reluctant Baku Says Armenia Visit Decision Up To Turkey
  11. Turkish Daily Radikal Interview With Sarkissian
  12. Sarksyan Awaits Gül, Assures Measures Taken Against Low Reaction
  13. The View From The Kremlin, Western Morning News
  14. Genocide Denial: Scholar Claims Pressure to Deny Genocide, Intelligence Report,
  15. Turkey's Nobel Laureate Pamuk To Release New Novel
  16. Turkey Should Stand Russia And U.S. At Equal Arms Length
  17. Armenian Invitation To Contribute Solution To Problems, Turkey Says
  18. Ruben Safrastian Does Not Rule Out That Presidents Of Armenia And Turkey Will Discuss Idea Of "South-Caucasian Platform"
  19. Turkey Has A Rough Road Ahead
  20. Saakashvili Pulled The Trigger: Turkey Between Russia And Georgia
  21. Crisis in the South Caucasus: Turkey's Big Moment?
  22. Armenian Public Television Company and Turkish TRT Agree On Cooperation
  23. Armenia`S Former Foreign Minister Said On Tuesday That Turkey`S Proposal For The Establishment Of A "Caucasus Cooperation And Stability Platform" Was Interesting
  24. Turkey Moves Ahead With 'Unsatisfying' Caucasus Diplomacy
  25. Turkey's Location, A Blessing Or A Curse?
  26. Armenia Expects 5,000 Turks For Football Game
  27. Geopolitical Diary: How Far Will The Caucasus Conflict Go?
  28. Montreux And Turkey,
  29. Serge Sarkissian "We Need To Soften The Opposition"
  30. The Caucasus Moment By Vartan Oskanian,
  31. Obama's Vp Pick May Not Be Disaster After All
  32. Organized Crime Nation By Dave Eriqat
  33. The Creeping Caucasus Catastrophe
  34. Gül Now Has Another Reason To Go To Armenia
  35. Two Days With Joe Biden: Cassandra Joins Charisma,
  36. Obama's Vp Pick Cold To Turkey,
  37. Serzh Sargsyan: "Armenia Is Ready To Restore Relations With Turkey Without Any Provisions
  38. Fair Dialogue, The Best Way Forward, Hovhannes Nikoghosyan,
  39. Unique Opportunity for Armenians To Reclaim Their Properties in Turkey
  40. For True Caucasus Stability Turkey Must Remain On Course
  41. Turkey Must Open Its Border With Armenia
  42. Turkey Is In Trouble
  43. Ottoman Dynasty Through Lenses Of Abdullah Fréres' Camera
  44. Turkey Decries Toronto School Board Genocide Course
  45. France Is Faced With Its Genocidal History
  46. The ANCA and the Armenian Weekly at the Democratic National Convention
  47. A Genius Ignored: Jean-Paul Bret
  48. Turkey's Caucasus Boat Likely To Sail
  49. Dashnak Party Will Demonstrate, In The Event Of Abdullah Gul's Visit
  50. ABC1 Program: Return To Armenia, In Search Of Meaning, AUGUST 28, 8.30pm
  51. ANCA: Obama/Biden Democratic Presidential Ticket Strong On Genocide Recognition
  52. A Voice From The Other Black Sea
  53. Abdullah Gul Supports Armenia’s Membership In Stability & Partnership Platform Of Caucasus Organization By. H. Chaqrian,
  54. Armenia Welcomes Turkey Plan For Talks On Regional Securi, Interfax Russia
  55. Is Caucasus Alliance Possible?
  56. Brief History Of: Former Soviet Republics, By G Cruz, TIME
  57. Books: Help Is On The Way, By Joshua Muravchik, WallStreet Journal
  58. Young Civilians Call For Opening Armenian Border For Match
  59. Babacan, Lavrov In Talks Over Dubious Caucasus Platform
  60. Post-Soviet Security Bloc Ends Joint Drills In Armenia
  61. Azerbaijan .. Real Threat To Its Territorial Integrity
  62. Robert Fisk's World:Voice Recovered From Armenia's Bitter Past
  63. Responding To Georgia Crisis, Turkey Seeks New Caucasus Security Initiative JamesTown
  64. Yerevan Mayor To Provide Turkish Fans With Food & Part-Time Residence
  65. Hackers Crash Armenian Gov't Websites, AzerNews
  66. What Did You Do For Eu Today?, I Berkan
  67. Russia To Convey Turkish-Led Proposal To Armenia First
  68. Caucasian Table Setting For Five?
  69. Armenia & New Turkish Proposal, Richard Giragosian,
  70. Caucasian Stability Pact Nice Idea, But Will It Work? by S Idiz
  71. Waiting & Watching, The Economist
  72. Turkey Readies For Dialogue With Armenia Over Caucasus Plan
  73. Bloody Launch Of Kars-Akhalkalaki Railway Turkish Sector, Hayots Ashkharh
  74. Armenia:Erdogan Proposed Creation Of A New Union
  75. Why Did Turkey Invite Iranian President?
  76. Turkey, Iran: Ankara's Priorities Shift
  77. Russian-Georgian Conflict Scrambles Strategic Map Of Europe
  78. Anti-Turkish Armenian Activities In Syria On Rise
  79. D.C. Statement on Armenian Genocide, By Colby Itkowitz
  80. Dashnaks Vow Protests Against Gul’s Visit By A Martirosian
  81. Turkish President Faces Dilemma In Accepting Armenia's Invitation
  82. Law Of The Jungle by Yusuf Kanli
  83. Caucasus Plan Void Without Yerevan by Yasemin Çongar
  84. Pros And Cons Of A Visit To Yerevan
  85. Turkey 'No Enemy' To Armenia: Gul
  86. Is Turkey The New Tuscany?
  87. Turkish Daily News Cracks Down on Dissent [Michael Rubin]
  88. Anca Interns Return To University And Community Life Committed To Strengthening Grassroots Activism,
  89. "The Great Illusion of Armenians" by Talin Suciyan
  90. Armenia Scraps Visas For Turkish Soccer Fans By Emil Danielyan
  91. FBI’s Plan to ‘Profile’ Muslims by Juan Cole
  92. "Memphis Blues" Continues: "Taking Pride In House Intrusion And New Excuse For More On-Line Donations" by SSA
  93. Shadow Theater Show "Hacivat & Karagöz, or Greek Karagiozis: Whose Is It Anyway?
  94. Hush Words : Censored In Indian Country By Brenda Norrell
  95. Recent Developments In Turkey-Armenia Relations Interview With Amberin Zaman By Khatchig Mouradian
  96. Treating Turkey Tamely by Garen Yegparian
  97. Armenian Newspapers In Istanbul Working Against Armenia?
  98. Turkey's Young Civilians extend olive branch to people of Armenia
  99. Democracy, Armenian Style - The Bloggers March On by Shushan Harutyunyan
  100. The Turquoise Genocide
  101. Why Is The Georgian Conflict Crucial For Turkey?
  102. Jews, Ottomans and Turks
  103. * Hi, folks! I’m getting sick and tired of ANCA’s scandalous News!
  104. Turkey, Armenia Should Aim Low, Armenian Think Tank
  105. "Turkey At Crossroads On Armenia" - Trend News Expert
  106. Football Diplomacy Does Not Compare With 70s Ping-Pong
  107. Two Women's Story In A Changing TurkeyFrank WHITE
  108. Railroads and Pipelines Integrate the Caucasus by Sedat Laciner
  109. Armenian Youth: Let There Be Light
  110. Ankara And Yerevan Lift The Bans
  111. With No Precondition
  112. ``No One Should Search for Traces of Armenians on the Agri Mountain”
  113. Why Gül’s Invitation From Yerevan Is Not An ‘opportunity’ By Elsever Salmanov*
  114. Discussions Heated after the Release of ‘Genocide Report’ by Rwanda
  115. Armenian Interests Will Not Be Damaged If Gul Watches Football In Yerevan
  116. In Statement, Us Official 'Holds Ottomans Responsible' For Crimes Against Armenians
  117. Ankara’s Esenboga Airport Holds Particular Significance For Martyrs
  118. It Is All About Money To Give Honey To Distant Turkey!
  119. Crucial Directions In Armenia-Diaspora Relations by By Prof. Onnig Beylerian
  120. State Dept. Holds Ottoman Officials Responsible for 'Mass Killings' By Harut Sassounian
  121. Turkey Overacts To The Upcoming Opening Of American Museum Of Armenian Genocide In Washington And Trying To Prevent It
  122. "Common Sense" May Win by By David Petrosyan
  123. Interview With Gibrahayer E-Magazine Editor Simon Aynedjian
  124. Reporters at “Agos” Continue to Work Under Threat by Edik Baghdasaryan
  125. How To Build Relations With The Diaspora?
  126. Armenia Will Never Stop Pressing For Armenian Genocide International Recognition
  127. Denial Of Genocide Never To Be Encouraged
  128. Turkey's Denialist Cohorts in Washington Fuel - Armenian-American Activism in November Elections
  129. Aztag Daily: An Important Communication Bridge with the Armenian World
  130. U.S. Will Urge Turkey To Recognize Armenian Genocide Soon
  131. U.S. Department Of State: Yovanovitch In No Way Sought To Cast Any Doubt On 1915 Events
  132. Halacoglu Packs Up - What does Yusuf Hoca's Departure Mean to Turks and Armenians? by By Khatchig Mouradian
  133. An Interview With Baskin Oran, “that Much Ignorance Is Only Possible With Education”
  134. Dashnaks Leader Uneasy Over Armenian Overtures To Turkey
  135. Government To Blame For Armenia's "Isolation"
  136. ARF: Genocide Not Up For Discussion

WWIII: Turkey's Options, STRATFOR, 29/08/2008

If Turkey gets fed up with Russian bullying tactics, there is little stopping it from allowing an even greater buildup of NATO warships in the Black Sea to threaten the Russian underbelly.

With Cold War tensions building in the Black Sea, the Turks have gone into a diplomatic frenzy. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan had his phone glued to his ear on Thursday speaking to his U.S., U.K., German, French,

Swedish and Finnish counterparts, as well as to the NATO secretary-general and various EU representatives. The Turks are also expecting Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili to arrive in Istanbul on Aug. 31. And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to arrive for a separate meeting with the Turks early next week.

The Turks have a reason to be such busy diplomatic bees. A group of nine NATO warships are currently in the Black Sea ostensibly on routine and humanitarian missions. Russia has wasted no time in sounding the alarm at the sight of this NATO buildup, calling on Turkey — as the gatekeeper to the Dardanelles and Bosporus straits between the Black and Mediterranean seas — to remember its commitment to the Montreux Convention, which places limits on the number of warships in the Black Sea. As a weak naval power with few assets to defend itself in this crucial frontier, Russia has every interest in keeping the NATO presence in the Black Sea as limited and distant as possible.

Turkey is in an extremely tight spot. As a NATO member in control of Russia’s warm-water naval access to the Black Sea, Turkey is a crucial link in the West’s pressure campaign against Russia. But the Turks have little interest in seeing the Black Sea become a flashpoint between Russia and the United States. Turkey has a strategic foothold in the Caucasus through Azerbaijan that it does not want to see threatened by MOSCOW . The Turks also simply do not have the military appetite or the internal political consolidation to be pushed by the United States into a potential conflict — naval or otherwise — with the Russians.

In addition, the Turks have to worry about their economic health. Russia is Turkey’s biggest trading partner, supplying more than 60 percent of Turkey’s energy needs through two natural gas pipelines (including Blue Stream, the major trans-Black Sea pipeline), as well as more than half of Turkey’s thermal coal — a factor that has major consequences in the approach of winter. Turkey has other options to meet its energy needs, but there is no denying that it has intertwined itself into a potentially economically precarious relationship with the Russians.

And the Russians have already begun using this economic lever to twist Ankara’s arm. A large amount of Turkish goods are reportedly being held up at the Russian Black Sea ports of Novorossiysk, Sochi and Taganrog over the past 20 days ostensibly over narcotics issues. Turkish officials claim that Turkish trucks carrying mostly consumer goods have been singled out for “extensive checks and searches,” putting about $3 billion worth of Turkish trade in jeopardy.

The Turks have already filed an official complaint with MOSCOW over the trade row, with speculation naturally brewing over Russia’s intent to punish Turkey for its participation in the Russian-excluded Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and push Ankara to limit NATO access to the Black Sea.

But the Russians are playing a risky game. As much as Turkey wants this conflict to go away, it still has cards to play — far more than any other NATO member — if it is pushed too hard. As Turkish State Minister Kursat Tuzmen darkly put it, “We will disturb them if we are disturbed. We know how to disturb them.”
If Turkey gets fed up with Russian bullying tactics, there is little stopping it from allowing an even greater buildup of NATO warships in the Black Sea to threaten the Russian underbelly.

The Turks could also begin redirecting their energy supply away from the Russians, choosing instead to increase their natural gas supply from Turkey or arrange for some “technical difficulties” on the Blue Stream pipeline. The Russians also ship some 1.36 million barrels per day of crude through the Black Sea that the Turks could quite easily blockade. These are the easier and quicker options that Turkey can employ.

But there are also some not-so-quick and not-so-easy options for Turks to consider as well, including riling up the Chechens in the northern Caucasus and Turkic peoples in Central Asia and within the Russian Federation to make trouble for MOSCOW .

These are not options that Ankara is exactly jumping to take, but they remain options, and will be on both the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers’ minds when they meet in the coming days.

President Of Turkey Gul To Visit Armenia
HULIQ (press release), NC, Aug 30 2008,
According to the English version of Hurriyet the president of Turkey Abdullah Gul has accepted the invitation of the president of Armenia Serz Sargsyan to visit Armenia and to watch the football match between the national teams of Armenia and Turkey together.

Hurriyet writes "Turkish President Abdullah Gul has accepted an invitation from his Armenian counterpart to watch the World Cup qualifier between the Turkish-Armenian national teams in Yerevan as the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the visit would contribute to renewed relations between the two countries, Vatan daily reported on Saturday."

Vatan Daily has reported the news here, but it's in Turkish.

According to the newspaper Armenia, has not yet been officially informed about Gul's decision to travel to Armenia, but will be invormed officially next week.

It's very interesting that yesterday the foreign minister of Azerbaijan Mr. Elmar Mamediarov was in Turkey meetin the foreign minister Babacan and said that Azerbaijan is basically cool to Turkish president's visit to Armenia. Mamediarov also added that it's up to the Turkish president to accept the invitation or to deny it.

Months ago the president of Armenia as a good gesture invited the president of Turkey together to watch the world qualifier football match between the two national teams that will meet first time in history. This would also be a good opportunity for them to discuss the bilateral relations and bring the positions of the two countries closer through dialogue.

Yesterday Today's Zaman in an article "Reluctant Baku says Armenia visit decision up to Turkey" reported that there are mixed reactions about the Turkish visit to Armenian in Azerbaijan, but it was very interesting to read one of the reactions according to which the president of Azerbaijan Mr. Ilham Aliev should go to Armenia to join to talks and to watch the match.

""Gül should not go there because there will be provocation and chaos if he goes. No one will be welcoming if Gül agrees to visit," said Akif Rustemov, a teacher, to Cihan news agency. He softened his opposition when asked whether Gül and Sarksyan should discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "If this is the case, then he should go. In fact, our president, Ilham Aliyev, should also join. Foreign mediators have been trying to find a solution for 17 years, but nothing happens. We have to solve this ourselves."

Woudn't it be nice if the three presidents together just watch a soccer match with one another and dialogue about the future of their countries.

Prof.Dr. Ruben Safrastyan > Turkey Not Ready To Recognize the Genocide of Armenians, 30 Aug 2008

Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences, Turkologist Ruben Safrastyan is the interlocutor of “Hayots Ashkharh” daily.

“Mr. Safrastyan at this stage of the geo-political developments what peculiarities do Armenian-Turkish relations have?”

“We must record that Turkey’s attitude towards Armenia is at clarification stage in the condition of the aggravation of the country’s internal-political situation. As we know the ruling party “Justice and Development” is facing different charges.Besides that, recently the sector of the Turkish secret organization named “Ergenekon” was revealed. The goal of the organization is to stage a military coup d’etat in Turkey. Ex-military-men, influential figures, Generals and representatives of Turkish elite are the members of the before mentioned organization.In fact it is the regular attempt of the traditional Turkish Kemalist elite to maintain power. The thing is there is a struggle between two pro-governmental groupings in Turkey. The newly formed elite united with the pro-governmental “Justice and Development” party is struggling against the Kemalist elite that has been in power for decades.This struggle has created great tension in Turkey’s internal political life. In such conditions the government in power did certain steps regarding Armenian Turkish relations, aimed at gaining the support of the West, especially the USA. It is not a secret that for many years the USA puts pressure on Turkey to open the borders with Armenia. In this context, it’s worth mentioning that the victory of Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama is becoming quite possible.Turkish analysts preview that in this case it will be impossible to avert the adoption of resolution 106 in the Congress. It is not accidental that the representatives of Turkish Foreign Ministry met with Obama’s counselors, during which according to our information the Americans recommended their Turkish partners to elaborate another program of Armenian-Turkish relations. The Turks will most probably try to create delusion among American democracy as if they are doing their best to improve relations with Armenia.”

“Why delusion? Doesn’t Turkish people, society, or the authorities want to have regular relations with Armenia?”

“In my view Turkey is not ready for principled changed in their policy regarding Armenia. According to Turkey Armenia must announce that it doesn’t have any territorial demands towards Turkey and that it recognizes Kars agreement, that it is ready for unilateral concessions regarding Karabakh, refuses the goal of the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians and will remove this issue from its foreign policy.Of course the latter is the most important issue for Turkey. But we must also record that Armenian historians and the specialists have already recognized the fact of the Genocide. American scientist’s society doesn’t accept Turkish stance saying that the fact of the Genocide is disputable.The US leadership also accepts the fact of the Genocide, but not officially, taking into account their state interests. But in the very near future the USA will have to officially recognize the Genocide of Armenians. In this regard Turkey intimidates that it will break off with the USA and will use sanctions, but it is of course ridiculous. And the USA in its turn recommends Turkey not to lose face and to find serious solutions.”

“Recently OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted Turkey’s proposal, according to which the Parliaments of the member countries must encourage the idea of the formation of the joint committees of the countries with disputable issues, to conduct historical investigations. Thus many issues will be solved?”

“Still in 2005, when Erdogan sent a letter to our President to set up a committee of historians, Armenia officially responded that we are ready to set up a committee to study all the spheres. In my view this is the only way to bilaterally discuss all the existing problems and achieve results.In case of setting up a committee of historians, believe me, Armenia will never agree to make the issue of the Genocide of Armenians a matter of discussion. We are ready to discuss the reasons and consequences of the Genocide in the framework of historical facts. But before the discussion there should be a certain consensus. For scientific dispute there are certain principles that must be mutually agreed upon. Otherwise the discussion is senseless.”
By Gevorg Harutyunyan http://www.analyst-network.com

Armenia-Turkey By Armen Tsatouryan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, 30 Aug 2008, Armenia
Towards New Solutions
The discussions that have started in Turkey after President Serge Sargsyan's interview to the Turkish `Radical' newspaper testify to the fact that Turkey has recently started to demonstrate an increased interest in Armenia.

The Turkish Mass Media conduct thorough discussions over President Abdullah Gyul's visit to Armenia for watching the Armenia-Turkey football match to be organized on September the 6th, but the official circles of the country continue announcing that they haven't made a final decision yet.

The reason is that the new situation in the Armenian-Turkish relations has some complex processes underlying behind. It is actually the `mirror' of the new geopolitical realities developing in the South Caucasus.

The first and perhaps the most important reality is Russia's active and biased participation in the regulation of the century-old Armenian-Turkish conflict.

And the second reality which makes the task of accelerating the Armenian-Turkish dialogue an urgent issue is the international crisis `in and around Georgia'.

The ruling elite of Turkey have started to realize that it is no longer possible to implement their programs in the South Caucasus while continuing to pursue their traditional policy of isolating Armenia.

Therefore, wh en is seems on the one hand that the political-military situation in the region is favorable for our county and on the other hand Armenia faces the threat of being subjected to a total blockade, it becomes obvious that we may find a breakthrough in the communication blockade by way of opening the Kars-Gyumri railroad.

But because the process of unknotting the Armenian-Turkish entangled string is related to a lot of difficulties, we can't, for the time being, speak about bringing the parties' viewpoints with regard to strategic issues closer. All we can do at present is to discuss the possibilities of opening the Armenian-Turkish `railway corridor' and initiating a sincere dialogue with the help of Russia, the interested party.

Serge Sargsyan's invitation addressed to his Turkish counterpart and the subsequent discussions initiated by that country, as well as the recent rumors on the probability of constructing the Armenian `branching' of the Baku-Jeyhan oil pipeline can be accounted for by this. In such conditions, the presence of the Turkish President at the September 6 football match may become the `prelude' of the whole process.

In his recent interview, S. Sargsyan expressed belief that `all the measures will be taken to receive President Gyul in Yerevan in an appropriate manner.'

However, right after receiving relevant clarification on the `urgent =0 Atopic', the correspondent of `Radical' immediately passed on to the traditional and strictly painful agenda of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Through the questions asked to the RA President, he tried to clarify Armenia's official attitudes towards the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the probability of presenting territorial claims to Turkey and other issues.

The answers Serge Sargsyan gave to the Turkish correspondent left no room for speculating the `package of preconditions' of the Turkish side.

In particular, the President gave the following answer to the question concerning the mutual recognition of the borders, `Armenia is for the UN Charter and a number of other international treaties, and it respects its international commitments.' And in response to the question concerning the territorial claims, the President said, `I don't remember any Armenian official expressing an opinion about territorial claims.'

By saying that, Serge Sargsyan made it clear that our state creates no occasion or pretext that may be viewed as an obstacle or put an end to the Armenian-Turkish dialogue.

The same concerns the correspondent's lame attempt of viewing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a `precondition of the Armenian party'. The RA President immediately interrupted the correspondent by giving the following clear-cut answer, `All over the world, there's no Armenian not believing the fact of the Genocide. However, the recognition of the Genocide is not a precondition for regulating the relations with Turkey.'

That's to say, the President of Armenia managed to find such formulations for presenting the painful points in the Armenian-Turkish relations that do not allow the Turkish side to make all that a favorable pretext for postponing the solution of the issue of resuming the bilateral relations and opening the borders.

This new `portion' of political messages the Armenian President sent to Turkey through `Radical' newspaper actually `shift the ball to the Turkish half of the field.' Turkish President Abdullah Gyul has now no pretext for rejecting the invitation of visiting Yerevan and excluding our country from regional programs.

It now rests with Russia, our strategic ally, to make its unhesitant intervention in the process of lifting the blockade of Armenia.

Dashnaktsutyun To Raise The Voice Of Revolt By Lilit Poghosyan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, 30 Aug 2008, Armenia
NA Deputy Speaker, member of ARFD Armenian Supreme Body Hrayr Karapetyan was the guest of `Hayatsk' club yesterday and the palette of the questions prepared by the journalists was rather inclusive.

`Should Armenia recognize the independence of South Osatia and Abkhazia at this moment? To what extent is it possible that in that case Russia will recognize NKR independence?' Touching upon the before mentioned issues the speaker said: `At this stage it is not realistic, because Russia's recognition of the independence of South Osatia and Abkhazia is conditioned by its relations with Georgia. And we shouldn't forget that Russia doesn't have any problem in its relations with Azerbaijan.'

Lots of things will depend on whether or not Minsk Group will continue to act by this format, will Russia maintain its status of a Minsk Group co-Chair and in general what new things will be registered in the negotiation process. `If it turns out that the possibilities of Minsk Group are exhausted and the negotiations have met a deadlock, also because of the relations between Russia and the West, we will have to think seriously about it.'

By now Armenia hasn't recognized NKR independence: `only because we don't consider the peaceful settlement of the conflict exhausted. If we feel that the negotiation process has no prospect and that we need strategic changes in Artsakh issue we must draw conclusions from that and take brave steps.'

As regards the decision of the Municipality not to give permission for holding demonstration in Azatutyun Square, according to the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, from the legal point of view it is not justified, but from the moral and political point of view it is acceptable `none of Armenian officials has the right to ban the demonstration devoted to Artsakh's independence.'

Moreover NA Deputy Speaker believes 20 years after 1988 `Armenia must over again raise its voice for the sake of Artsakh's sovereignty' and this must be a real pan-national movement, to prove to the world that Armenians are united in this issue.

In his interview given to Turkish newspaper `Radical' Armenian President Serge Sargsyan particularly underscored that any type of non-civilized attitude towards Gyul's `football' visit to Armenia will be addressed to Armenia and himself personally. What is Dashnaktsutyun's attitude towards this announcement, which is going to meet the Turkish President with political protest functions?'

`Dashnaktsutyun is always loyal to its principles no matter we make part of coalition or not. Turkey continues its anti-Armenian policy. They don't repent; they continue to persecute national minorities in their country and Hrant Dink's tragic death is a bright example. For us it is a simple political ground to raise our voice of revolt. If you remember two years back Gegham Manukyan raised a poster during his meeting with Erdoghan. It was not violence, or a breach of law; it was a form of a civilized revolt. The same thing will be in Armenia but in a more powerful way,' H. Karapetyan recorded.

He added: `We will not breach the law. Our mechanisms are going to be political. We will raise political issues during Gyul's visit; we will demonstrate our political stances. We aught to do that. So I don't think what the President said contradicts our steps. We don't intend to kill someone or to do any kind of violence.'

Discussions Continue by Hayots Ashkhar Daily, 30 Aug 2008, Armenia
After publishing the interview with President Serge Sargsyan on August 28, the Turkish `Radical' daily yesterday conducted an interview with Abdullah Gyul, the President of Turkey. Below we present the interview with Mr. Gyul.

`The RA President has announced that he views the prospect of watching the September 6 football match between the Armenian and Turkish representative teams together with you as an opportunity for regulating the relations. Have you made any decision with regard to your visit to Armenia?'

`I read your interview with his Excellency Serge Sargsyan with great attention. In my opinion it is an important interview. I view it as an example which may, in all aspects, contribute to the solution of all the problems and help overcome the misperceptions.

I can say that we continue the discussion of all the possible developments connected with the invitation of His Excellency Serge Sargsyan.'

`Armenia has claims and expectations related to the establishment diplomatic relations and the opening of the border. Is it possible to expect any developments in this direction?'

`I sincerely support the recent efforts towards establishing peace in the region. I believe it is important to assess the potentials. What we want is to solve all our problems with our neighbors. I attach too much20 importance to the solution of problems by way of a dialogue. We are a country which solves problems in the region. We set much store by peace and stability in the Caucasus.'

`Then what is the obstacle to the solution of the problems?'

`I believe that the settlement of the frozen conflicts in the Caucasus, first of all the settlement of the Karabakh conflict by way of a dialogue will bring peace and welfare to the population of the region. I said that to His Excellency Serge Sargsyan during our meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan.

As I announced last time at the opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, we truly wish all the countries in the region to be involved in this project.'

Armenian Opposition Party Critical Of Dashnaks' Anti-Turkish Protest Plans
ArmInfo News Agency (in Russian), Aug 29 2008, Armenia

Yerevan, 29 August: "The authorities are obliged to provide conditions to all political forces for holding rallies. I respect the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun's [ARFD] right to hold rallies, however, I assess negatively a possible anti-Turkish protest," a top member of the opposition Republic Party, Suren Surenyants, told journalists at the Tesaket club today.

He said that on the one hand, the ARFD joins the governing coalition, on the other hand, it is critical of the president's initiative to invite the Turkish president to a football match in Yerevan. "If the Turkish president's arrival in Yerevan is so important for the ARFD, then let them withdraw from the governing coalition and criticize the president," Surenyants said.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun intends to stage a rally on 2 September on the independence day of the Nagornyy Karabakh republic. ARFD representatives have also repeatedly stated their intention to hold a protest in case the Turkish president arrives in Yerevan. The Yerevan mayor's office did not sanction the 2 September rally of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutyun.

Interview Of Armenian President Serge Sargsyan To Turkish Daily "Radikal" Armenpress, Aug 29, 2008
Q: The 2010 World Cup qualifier between the national teams of Armenia and Turkey, scheduled for September 6 in Yerevan, is probably the most politicized sporting event in our region. In terms of politics what were your expectations when you invited Turkish president Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to watch the game together?

A: My number one goal was to normalize the relations between our countries. Mr. Gul's congratulation message upon my election said about the opportunities of normalizing the relations between Armenia and Turkey. Later on Prime Minister Erdogan stated that Turkey is open to a dialogue with Armenia. In return, I decided to use this opportunity. There is a good sports event ahead. It is the first time in the history our football teams will meet. It may become a good opportunity for us to develop our relations. The result of the game is not important, anyways I hope it will be a pleasure for the fans. There excitement will be great. This will be a big and exclusive event in our relations, and I hope it will become more special due to the presence of the Armenian and Turkish presidents. We are neighbors and will remains so. I am sure having normal relations will benefit both the countries. My invitation to Mr. Gul shall be considered in this context.

Q: There are some concerns in Ankara about this invitation. How, for example the problem of the borders is to be solved and how president Gul will be received in Armenia. Do you share these concerns?

A: There is nothing to worry about. If we have invited a president of a foreign state, we are able to provide everything on a due level.

Q: I have met with some representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Party, who are against your invitation. They said they will so everything to be heard in case president Gul arrives in Yerevan.

A: I am sure their means to express themselves will remain in terms appropriate for an official visit. Not being politically correct they will first harm themselves, Armenia and me, then Mr. Gul.

Q: What do you think about the regional power engineering and communication projects realized by Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, which, in case of peace and stability in the region, might be very profitable? Would Armenia like to join those projects? Do you think that some day you will be received in Turkey in the same way as the leaders of Azerbaijan and Georgia are, and the leaders of Turkey will have doubts to accept invitations from Armenia?

A: By now I have learned two things about regional cooperation projects. First, in case not all the countries of the region are involved, or one of them is excluded, the projects do nothing but create new dividing lines. Second, when political aspects of the project outscore the economic ones, the projects usually turn out not as successful as it they meant to be. It is something similar to harnessing a horse from behind the cart.

Q: Which project do you mean?

A: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad, for example. Doesn't such railroad already exist? It can be made operational again with minimum expenses. A lot is being spent to leave Armenia out. In the past the leaders of Armenia visited Turkey. I too, in different offices, have been to Turkey. Reciprocal visits between neighbors are quite a normal thing, and they should not be deemed as some kind of courtesy to the opposite party. Our efforts are aimed at that.

Q: When the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was launched, president Gul in the presence of Aliyev and Saakashvili said that Armenia could join this project in case of respecting the international law. Do you think he hinted at the borders defined by the 1921 agreement of Kars?

A: I think Mr. Gul would give a better answer to that question. I can only assure that Armenia supports the regulations of the UN, as well as other international treaties, it respects its own international commitments.

Q: Well, I shall phrase my question more precisely. There are some parties in Armenia that refer to a part of Turkey as Western Armenia and, basing on the Sevres Treaty, have territorial claims from Turkey. Do you admit that it is difficult to have full-fledged diplomatic relations with a neighbor which argues your borders? What is your official opinion about the legitimateness and recognition of the agreement of Kars?

A: I can hardly remember any Armenian official to make territorial claims on Turkey. But I can always hear that from Turkey. I don't think it is right to base upon single statements. If so, there are many people in Turkey who assure that in fact there is no Armenia at all. We do not need any pre-conditions to establish relations with Turkey. I know about the anxiety of Turkish officials regarding the phrasings like Western and Eastern Armenia. It seems strange to me. Western and Eastern Armenia are geographical terms used in the 19th century. Trying to forget those expressions, coming from the past, is equal to trying to deny the existence of Sparta, the Russian Empire, the Ottoman Empire or other historical facts. If we had assumed that official policy, we would have called our country Republic of Eastern Armenia, not Republic of Armenia. None of the Armenian officials spoke such things. Russia, for example, has territorial issues with China and Japan, but it doesn't prevent those states from having normal diplomatic relations.

Q: After your invitation to Gul, very serious things as the Russia-Georgia conflict happened in Caucasus. What do you think about Russia's assistance to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which separated from Georgia?

A: In fact tragic events happened. People were killed. It showed what can arms race result in such cases. We advocate settling such issues through peace negotiations. We also advocate respecting peoples' right to self-expression and self-determination. It s regretful that things take such a turn and of course we do not like it. We believe that the joint plan of the Presidents of Russia and France, Medvedev and Sarkozy, will bring peace and stability. Peace and stability are very important to us. Putting everything aside, 70% of Armenian trade is made through Georgia.

Q: Yerevan experienced problems with fuel because of the railway bridge in Georgia blown up by the Russians, is that so?

A: Yes, it is. We hope the problem will be solved in two days. The instability in the region is against Armenia. It displays very well how we need stability. Prolonging the instable situation for three more months or years would multiply our problems.

Q: Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian already approved Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's initiative on Caucasian Stability and Partnership Platform. Can you give any details on Armenia's policy in this question?

A: Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian expressed positive attitude to Erdogan's initiative on regional stability, security and dialogue. I think the Foreign Minister took right actions. After we receive the proposal we will discuss it in details and announce our opinion.

Q: Do you think that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is a very important issue in your relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, may soon be settled? Do you think that making a peace agreement with Azerbaijan will raise political and economic cooperation in the region onto a new level?

A: We had a productive meeting with President Aliyev in Saint Petersburg on June 6. Both of us ordered our Foreign Ministers to proceed the work in accord with the principles adopted in Madrid. There have been three meetings since then. I hope we'll find a solution soon.

Q: Can you suggest an approximate date?

A: It would be wrong to predict anything before the presidential elections in Azerbaijan. We shall see what happens after the elections.

Q: Do you draw parallels between Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia? I ask this because you said that people's right for self-determination should be always respected.

A: All the conflicts have something in common and something different. I prefer making ourselves lessons out of them instead of focusing on similarities and differences. I can clearly see that efforts to solve such issues with military force result in unpredictable and complicated consequences. I would like to know how many people knew the results of the conflict before starting it. We have to be very cautious.

Q: From outside it seems that the Turkish-Armenian relations are in stalemate because of the Genocide issue. Do you think it is right? Do you think Armenia-Turkey relations cannot progress until Turkey recognizes the tragic events of 1915 as genocide? Is it a pre-condition?

A: You can hardly find an Armenian in the world who does not believe the Genocide took place. But the recognition of the Genocide is not a pre-condition for establishing dialogue with Turkey. That is why we say that we are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any pre-condition.

Q: What is your opinion about making a historians' commission to study the 1915 events? Do you think it is possible to have two commissions, one for normalizing the relations and another for studying the 1915 events? Do you think they can work at the same time?

A: I think we need to elaborate new approaches to this issue. For I cannot remember a non-governmental commission to be ever established to settle an intergovernmental issue. The best way is to start diplomatic relations. In that case numbers of substructures and groups may be established in the frameworks of the Armenian-Turkish intergovernmental commission. Earlier a similar commission was found in the USA. Did it work? Its necessary to create a proper environment for the functioning of the scientific commission you suggested. Therefore normal diplomatic relations are bare necessity.

Q. Do you believe that the ongoing confidential meetings of Armenian and Turkish diplomats will yield any outcome?

A. I would never support them if I believed they would not. But on the other hand I believe that the course of relations shows that we, the leaders of the two countries, have reached the decision-making point. They are not going to be easy ones. Not all Armenians or Turks will like them. But I am sure that the overwhelming part of both societies will support those decisions. I do not mean the diplomats' efforts, by the overall atmosphere. Abdullah Gul's congratulatory message, Erdogan's words, my invitation to Gul, even the interview with you are parts of this atmosphere. In this sense I believe that we have reached the decision-making stage.

Q. Will Gul's decision to come or not to Yerevan effect that situation?

A. I think his visit will be important. Because it is not easy to make important decisions. Addressing an audience and looking in the eyes of the one before you are different things. If I did not believe it was important I would not send the invitation. We had difficult times in our history, however Armenia is ready for development of relations and expects the same from Turkey.

Cold War Caricatures Don't Tell The Georgian Story: The War In The Caucasus Is Anything But A Tidy, Black-And-White Story, By Dan Gardner, The Gazette (Montreal), August 29, 2008
As Russian tanks rumbled through Georgia, leaving a swathe of destruction, the western media hurriedly dug up background information for a public that - let's be honest - was not entirely aware that Georgia is something other than the home of the Atlanta Braves.

One historical tidbit appeared repeatedly: Georgia had been forced into the Russian empire in the 19th century but in 1918, with Russia embroiled in civil war, Georgians bravely threw off their shackles. Independence lasted until 1921, when a Bolshevik army invaded and dragged this proud people back into a Russian-dominated empire.

In 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia once more tasted freedom. But now, the Russians were yet again on the march.

History seldom offers such neat parallels. Or such tidy morality plays. It was hard to avoid the conclusion that Russia is incorrigible.

But neat parallels and tidy morality tales are almost invariably neat and tidy because messy details have been left out. And so it was with the story of Georgia's first, tragic bid for freedom.

Following the declaration of independence in 1918, the first shots Georgians fired weren't at Russians. They were at Armenians, in a squalid little war fought over obscure scraps of land.

The Caucasus - a mountainous region not much bigger than England and Wales - is home to some 40 languages. The ethnic mix is bewilderingly complex.

And borders? For 2,000 years, they have twisted and curled like currents in a river mouth as the people of the region migrated, fought themselves, and were pushed about by foreign invaders from the Romans to the Russians.

Any attempt by a people to break from the status quo and form its own state with its own territory is fraught. Any attempt in the Caucasus is explosive.

Georgia's war with Armenia was followed by struggles with the Ossetians and the Abkhaz, ethnic minorities who saw themselves as distinct from Georgians as Georgians are from Russians.

But the Georgians wouldn't let them go. The vicious fighting that followed weakened the new Georgian state, contributing to the victory of the Bolshevik army that invaded in 1921.

Not so neat and tidy, is it? And the complexity only deepened during the Soviet years.

Abkhazia, which had been an "autonomous province" within the newly independent Georgia, was made its own Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. That lasted until 1931, when Abkhazia became an "autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic" within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. South Ossetia had a similar status.

This fiddling with borders was the work of Josef Stalin. Himself a Georgian, Stalin had a keen understanding of national passions and he drew borders and moved populations in ways calculated to create ethnic conflict and thereby strengthen Moscow's control.

As that control finally faded in 1989, Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union. But neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia wanted to go - both resented Georgian dominance and feared they would lose autonomy within an independent Georgia - and so they sought to become Soviet republics.

Fierce fighting broke out. Thousands died. Tens of thousands were ethnically cleansed.

Georgia failed to take control of either Abkhazia or South Ossetia but the international community decided the Soviet borders set by Stalin in the 1930s would stand. And so two "frozen conflicts" were created: Georgian sovereignty over Abkhazia and South Ossetia was internationally recognized but effective control was held by the Abkhaz, South Ossetians and their Russian allies.

The war this month was sparked by a Georgian attempt to resume control of South Ossetia. The massive Russian response and subsequent ceasefire essentially ensured everything will go back into limbo.

It all makes the head spin. And bear in mind that this is a greatly simplified version of the conflict. Add all the relevant details and it begins to resemble Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the interminable legal battle in Dickens's Bleak House.

Unfortunately, the mess in Georgia is far from unique. Similar conflicts pepper the valleys of the Caucasus. And not only there. Moldova. Somalia. Nigeria. It's only on maps that the earth is neatly divided into clear, uncontested states.

In settling these disputes, the international community is guided by two powerful principles.

One is the inviolability of borders. Order is a precarious thing. Recognize one breakaway and others will seek the same status, nations rightly fear. The status quo must be respected.

But then there's the right of a people to "self-determination." Now enshrined in international law and the United Nations charter, the first modern declaration of this right was found in the "Fourteen Points" that U.S. president Woodrow Wilson laid out as the basis for a post-First World War peace settlement. Wilson's words inspired countless minorities to assert themselves - minorities that included Georgians, Abkhaz, and Ossetians.

Obviously, these two international principles push in very different directions, but they're not necessarily irreconcilable.

And yet we heard almost nothing about the law, research, and precedents from politicians, commentators and the media. Faced with bewildering complexity and their own ignorance - honestly, how many of us had even heard of South Ossetia in July?- they turned to the comfortingly familiar tropes of the Cold War.

The Russian government insisted NATO's support of Kosovo and Kosovo's recent declaration of independence from Serbia were precedents for its actions. But few gave the point any serious examination. Why complicate such a satisfying morality play?

Please note: I am not taking sides. I am not denying the machinations of Vladimir Putin. I am not denying the brutality of the Russian invasion.

What I object to are Cold War caricatures and anti-Russian sentiment so crude it verges on bigotry.

Reality anywhere is complicated. And reality in the Caucasus? Only deluded foreigners would see anything neat and tidy about it.

Reluctant Baku Says Armenia Visit Decision Up To Turkey
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has met with Turkish officials in Ankara to discuss a crisis in the Caucasus that Turkey hopes can be resolved through dialogue among regional countries that would include Armenia, with which Azerbaijan is officially at war with over the occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey, in contrast to its NATO allies, has refrained from a strong condemnation of Russia after it fought a brief war against Georgia and later recognized two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as independent states. Instead, Ankara has proposed a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, a scheme that calls for new methods of crisis management and conflict resolution. But involvement of Armenia is problematic in the mechanism, given that Turkey has no formal ties with Armenia and that Azerbaijan is still in a state of war with Yerevan due to its continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

But there have been developments that suggest a thaw in Turkey-Armenia relations. It has emerged that Turkish and Armenian diplomats have been holding secret talks on normalization of ties, and Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan has invited his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, to watch a World Cup qualifying game between the national teams of the two countries on Sept. 6. Gül says he is still considering whether to accept the invitation.

Asked to comment on a possible visit by Gül to Yerevan, Mammadyarov declined to comment. "This is a decision that the president of Turkey will make," he told reporters upon his arrival in Ankara. He met his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, President Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later in the day.

Speaking after talks with Mammadyarov at a brief press conference, Babacan assured Azerbaijan that Turkey and Azerbaijan were "strategic partners" acting with an understanding that they share the same destiny in all areas, in an apparent reference to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

But Mammadyarov, in turn, was less enthusiastic about supporting a US-backed pipeline to transfer natural gas from the Caspian region to Europe via Turkey. Asked about Russian readiness to buy Azeri natural gas, something that could deal a blow to the planned pipeline, Mammadyarov said Azerbaijan would consider profit while deciding on the offer. "We haven't given a response yet. Talks are continuing," he said before meeting with Babacan.

Azeri gas is set to become a major source of supply for the planned Nabucco pipeline, a cornerstone of Europe's policies to diversify away from heavy reliance on Russian gas. Pressed to say whether accepting the Russian offer would undermine Nabucco, Mammadyarov said, "This is a matter of trade and profitability."

Turkey closed its border with Armenia and severed formal ties after Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. Normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, Yerevan's shelving of support for Armenian diaspora efforts to win international recognition for Armenian genocide claims and formal recognition by Armenia of the current border with Turkey.

Azerbaijan, Turkey's regional and ethnic ally, is likely to be offended by any rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. But the recent crisis in the Caucasus may force a rethinking of regional balances. The Russian operation in Georgia raised questions about the security of regional transportation and energy transfer lines. With its Armenian border closed, Turkey relies on Georgia as an outlet to the Caucasus.

The proposed Caucasus platform will also require a restoration of some sort of dialogue between both Armenia and Turkey and Armenia and Azerbaijan. Turkish officials have said Armenia will definitely become a part of the proposed platform and that formalities of the dialogue with Yerevan will be decided after further talks with Armenian ally Russia, raising expectations that dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan could take place via Moscow's mediation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will arrive in Turkey early next week for talks on the proposed Caucasus platform. On Sunday, Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili will have talks in Istanbul on the situation in the region and on the potential Caucasus platform.

Azerbaijanis cool to Gül visit
In the streets of Azerbaijani capital Baku, public opinion is divided but mostly cool to a possible visit by Gül to Armenia to watch the World Cup qualifying game on Sept. 6.

"Gül should not go there because there will be provocation and chaos if he goes. No one will be welcoming if Gül agrees to visit," said Akif Rustemov, a teacher, to Cihan news agency. He softened his opposition when asked whether Gül and Sarksyan should discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. "If this is the case, then he should go. In fact, our president, Ilham Aliyev, should also join. Foreign mediators have been trying to find a solution for 17 years, but nothing happens. We have to solve this ourselves."

"Gül should not go to Armenia because it is a hostile country," said Ahmed Halilov, a civil servant, to Cihan. "If it's an enemy of Azerbaijan then it's also an enemy of Turkey because we -- as our politicians say -- are one nation with two states."

Mahmud Necefov, however, disagreed, saying Gül should visit Armenia and discuss every issue of dispute. "Political issues should be taken up and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue should definitely be discussed," he said. "I think he should go and discuss everything."

In remarks published yesterday, Gül refused to give a hint on whether he is planning to go but sent warm messages to Armenia. "We want to solve our problems with all neighbors. This is our region and we are all children of this region. Turks and Armenians live side by side in these lands," Gül told Radikal daily.
30 August 2008, Today's Zaman Ankara

Turkish Daily Radikal Interview With Serge Sarkissian
This page was automatically translated from French
29 August 2008, by Stéphane / armenews

The visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Armenia will increase the diplomatic ties between the two countries and open new opportunities said Thursday, August 28 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in an interview with the Turkish daily Radikal.

"The establishment of diplomatic relations is the best solution. As a result, many subcommittees and groups will be formed under the umbrella of a commission established by the two governments, "said the head of state.

"I will not have launched an invitation to my Turkish counterpart if I did not believe the significance of his visit. We have been neighbors for centuries and have survived many difficulties. Armenia is in favour of development of our relations and expects the same willingness on the Turkish side. "

Questioned about the secret negotiations, Serzh Sargsyan said, "I do will not encouraged if I had not thought they were useful for us."

"We have to take important decisions for the development of our relations. These decisions will not be easy but I hope the people of both Turkish Armenian that will encourage them, "said Serzh Sargsyan.

The President also stressed that Armenia does not consider the recognition by Ankara of the genocide of Armenians as a precondition for establishing diplomatic ties. "Every Armenian any part of the world always says that genocide took place, but we do not an essential condition for improving our relations," he added.

Serzh Sargisyan said it was hopeful of finding a solution to the problem Nagarno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan and added that the meeting he had with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Saint Petersburg, June 6 had been very positive.

"We avonc both given instructions to our Ministers of Foreign Affairs to work on the Madrid principles. So far, they have seen all three times. I hope that we will find a solution in the near future. "

Sarksyan Awaits Gül, Assures Measures Taken Against Low Reaction, August 29, 2008, ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan said the if President Abdullah Gül accepts his invitation to watch the football match between the two national teams on Sept. 6 in Yerevan, it would serve as a normalization of relations. Acknowledging the difficulty of Gül's decision, Sarksyan, in an exclusive interview with daily Radikal yesterday, assured that all measures were taken to receive Gül in the appropriate way.

“Our national football teams will encounter each other for the first time in our history. This could be a good chance to develop our relations. The result is not important. I hope it will be a good event which will please the audience. Excitement will be high. Through the participation of the Armenian and Turkish Presidents, it will be a fantastic event. We are neighbors and we will continue being neighbours. I think it is more beneficial for both countries to be in usual relations. I made my proposal to Mr. Gül in this framework”, he noted.

Sarksyan also maintained that there shall be no fears of possible negative reactions to Gül.

“I think they will not go beyond acceptable behaviour to make their voice heard. I consider uncivilized behaviours towards Gül as a discourtesy against Armenia and me because the one who invited Mr.Gül is me”, he said.

While talking about the alleged Armenian genocide, he underlined that it is not a precondition for them to start diplomatic relations with Turkey. “We are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any precondition,” he said, reflecting a well-known position of Armenia.

Sarkysan argued that no Armenian authority mentioned any territorial claims of Turkey, whereas he keeps hearing it from the Turkish side. “I also heard concerns about East-West Armenia from Turkish officials. It is weird to me because these are geographical terms used in the 19th century. Persistence in forgetting and erasing the statement which stayed in the past resembles denying the past existence of many geographical terms including Sparta, the Russian Dynasty and the Ottoman Empire. If it were our official policy, our name would not be Republic of Armenia but Republic of East Armenia,” he added. Sarksyan insisted that if diplomatic relations were established, these issues would be discussed more easily.

Sarkysan recalled that Foreign Minister Nalbandian welcomed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an's statements to communicate his proposal on Caucasus stability platform with Armenia. “When we get the offer, we will study the details and reveal our attitude”, he said.

The View From The Kremlin, Western Morning News, August 25, 2008 Plymouth
He diplomatic war of words flew. Nato announced curtly that it would no longer "do business as usual" with Russia. Russia promptly snapped back that it would not "do business as usual" with Nato - which may have some awkward consequences for the supply lines to Nato troops in Afghanistan, some of which are sent overland through Russia, with Moscow's consent.

No matter. Neither side is giving any quarter. At the time of writing Russia was still pulling the vast majority of its troops out of Georgia, but Nato remains bristling.

An emergency meeting of the Western alliance warned Moscow last week that it would not be allowed to draw any "new line" in Europe that prevented Georgia and other like-minded countries from joining Nato should they so wish.

And we all know these smaller countries do so wish. Georgia, for one, is absolutely gagging to join Nato. For Tbilisi, it is the only possible protection from the menace of the Russian bear.

But let us flip the coin. What follows is not a justification of the Russian regime, let alone its invasion of Georgia.

But if we are to manage the present crisis intelligently it is vital that we in turn understand that, from the Kremlin's perspective, it is not Russia but Nato that is drawing the new line in Europe.

It is Nato that is rampantly extending its reach right up to the Russian borders.

To those in the West, accustomed to viewing Nato as an entirely benign organisation, that might seem an inconsequential development - but that's not how they see it in Russia.

Since its formation, right the way through the Cold War, Nato was a terrifying nuclear alliance expressly pitted against the might of Soviet Russia.

The collapse of communism and the removal of a political system that was committed to the destruction of Western values enabled a fresh start. Hands of friendship were extended that would never have been possible when most of us were children.

The hopeful believed that with the rise of fundamental Islamic terrorism, the old Nato versus Russia antagonism would be forgotten as both forces regrouped to combat a mutual enemy.

The trouble is that neither forgot the old combat. Russia's grip on the energy supplies for much of Europe alarms EU governments, while Russia itself has become extremely jumpy as first the European Union and then Nato have extended their warm embraces to its former satellites.

It has been nerve-racking for Moscow to see Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia all scuttle into the Nato tent.

It had no illusion that these former satellites had fled to Nato precisely for protection from itself, and however bellicose or not the Kremlin was, the knowledge that Nato was prepared to extend its protection to its former satellites was seen as an aggressive act.

Moreover, with the membership of Estonia and Latvia, Nato's military might now reach right up to the Russian border, albeit only along a small proportion of it.

But Nato did not stop there. It opened dialogue with a host of other countries Russia once considered its own. Under the so-called Partnership for Peace programme, Nato began forging its own direct links with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrghyz Republic, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And those were just the pygmies.

Nato also formed "Partnerships for Peace" with those three major nations on Russia's underbelly - Georgia, Belarus and the Ukraine.

To calm the Kremlin's nerves, Nato also opened a Partnership for Peace dialogue with Russia itself, but if you are of a mildly paranoid disposition it is easy to see how Russia would remain profoundly discomfited by the onward march of Nato's influence into regions Russia has historically considered to be its own stamping ground.

Russian fears have been fuelled by two further developments. The first was the decision by Nato's April summit to consider applications from both Georgia and the Ukraine to become full-blooded members of the alliance. Russia's envoy to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, declared that "pushing Georgia into the alliance is a provocation that could lead to a bloodbath".

The second was the agreements the Americans struck with Poland and the Czech Republic to base sections of its missile defence shield on their soil - a shield the Russians believe to be targeted against themselves.

Let us be clear. Russia is a dangerous and unpredictable power. It needs to be handled firmly, but it must also be handled wisely.

I repeat my conclusion from last week. Goading the bear that has an iron grip on much of your energy supplies when you yourself are overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan is folly of the highest order.

Genocide Denial: Scholar Claims Pressure to Deny Genocide, Intelligence Report, Fall 2008

"A perfect storm of silly allegations," is how Institute of Turkish Studies Executive Director David Cuthell describes the barrage of media coverage ITS received early this summer regarding concerns that ITS, a nonprofit organization funded by the government of Turkey, is promoting denial of the Armenian genocide.

It began June 3 with the release of the Summer 2008 issue of the Intelligence Report, which exposed a network of U.S. scholars and lobbyists who deny the Armenian genocide and also happen to receive money from the Turkish government, either in the form of research grants, travel reimbursements or speaker's fees. The money was often channeled through ITS; in the case of the lobbyists, it came in direct payments from Turkey.

That same day, the Huffington Post publicized an open letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from the president of the Middle East Studies Association. The letter protested the alleged forced resignation of former ITS board of governors chairman Donald Quataert, who said he resigned in late 2006 under pressure from Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy after refusing to retract his affirmation in a scholarly book review that "what happened to the Armenians readily satisfies the U.N. definition of genocide."

Sensoy denied pressuring Quataert to resign or threatening to withhold ITS funding if Quataert didn't retract his affirmation of the Armenian genocide, as the former board chair alleged. Nevertheless, the media storm intensified further in early July when The Washington Post reported that four ITS board members had resigned in protest after learning of Quataert's situation.

Quataert told the Post that a few years ago, he and other board members were surprised to learn upon looking into the source of the institute's funding that what they had been led to believe was an irrevocable blind trust was in fact "a gift that could be revoked by the Turkish government."

Defending the integrity of the ITS, Cuthell told the Intelligence Report that while the ITS funding is currently held in the form of a sovereign bond by the government of Turkey, "one of my goals is to move it [the funding] back into the U.S. so that no one is under any false impressions as to the nature of our funding."

"I can categorically state that the Turkish government has never interfered with any of our funding decisions," Cuthell said. "We've been slimed."

Turkey's Nobel Laureate Pamuk To Release New Novel
World-famous Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, who was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006, focuses on love as well as details in daily life in his latest novel "Masumiyet Muzesi", (the Museum of Innocence).

Pamuk started to write his novel in 2001 soon after the release of Kar (Snow). After a one year break to finish his other novel "Istanbul" in 2003, Pamuk worked five years on the "Museum of Innocence", which he said was a flamboyant romance.

Pamuk's publisher said on the internet site created for promotion of the book that Museum of Innocence centers on love, just as Kar focused on politics or "Benim Adim Kirmizi" (My Name is Red) blended painting, mystery and romance.

In an earlier interview, Pamuk said "Museum of Innocence" was "a flamboyant novel" set in Pamuk's hometown, Istanbul. The focus of the story is an obsessive love affair, Pamuk said, adding that the novel explores into the big question of what love really is.

But as he did almost in every novel he wrote, Pamuk still deals with delicacies and details of daily life such as friendship, newspapers, television, loneliness, happiness, family and painting.

Over the past seven years since he started writing the Masumiyet Muzesi, Pamuk won several prizes including, "2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) for his novel My Name Is Red, 2002 Premio Grinzane Cavour (Italy) for his novel My Name Is Red, 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (Ireland) for his novel My Name Is Red, 2005 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (Germany), 2005 Prix Medicis Etranger (France) for his novel Snow, 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature (Sweden), 2006 Prix Mediterranée (France), 2006 Puterbaugh Award (USA) and 2008 Ovid Award (Romania)".

"Masumiyet Muzesi" is not only a novel, but also the name of the unopened museum Pamuk has been trying to establish in Cukurcuma district of Istanbul. This museum is also a part of the novel. Pamuk visited lots of museums around the world to see how personal belongings were showcased at these museums. The museum will exhibits several objects which are delineated in the novel.

"Masumiyet Muzesi" will be translated into more than 30 languages. First translation will be published in Germany two weeks after the release in Turkey.

Ertugrul Ozkok: Turkey Should Stand Russia And U.S. At Equal Arms Length
Armenian Invitation To Contribute Solution To Problems, Turkey Says

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said his Armenian counterpart's invitation to watch a football game in Yerevan is an example showing that contribution to solving the problems could come from every level, adding he is still considering whether to accept the invitation or not.

The report hit the dollar and supported its decline against other major currencies, while U.S. oil prices rose 1 percent due to the approach of Tropical Storm Gustav towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Reports have begun to circulate in Moscow that Russian oil companies are under orders from the Kremlin to prepare for a supply cut to Germany and Poland through the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline, the report said.

"They have been told to be ready to cut off supplies as soon as Monday," a high-level business source told The Daily Telegraph.

Any move would be timed to coincide with an emergency EU summit in Brussels, where possible sanctions against Russia are on the agenda, and be a dramatic escalation of the Georgia crisis.

The Polish government said on Thursday that Russian deliveries were still arriving smoothly and it was not aware of any move to limit supplies, the newspaper said. The European Commission's energy directorate said it had received no warnings of retaliatory cuts, the report added.

Russia has repeatedly restricted oil and gas deliveries over recent years as a means of diplomatic pressure, though Moscow usually explains away the reduction by referring to technical upsets or pipeline maintenance.

In July, deliveries to Czech Republic through the Druzhba pipeline were cut after Prague signed an agreement with the U.S. to install an anti-missile shield. Czech officials say supplies fell 40 percent in July. The pipeline managers, Transneft, said the shortfall was due to "technical and commercial reasons".

Supplies were cut to Estonia in May 2007 following a dispute with Russia over the removal of Red Army memorials. It was blamed on a "repair operation". Latvia was cut off in 2005 and 2006 in a battle for control over the Ventspils terminals. "There are ways to camouflage it," said Vincent Sabathier, a senior fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

A senior LUKoil official in Moscow said he was unaware of any plans to curtail deliveries. The Kremlin declined to comment, The Daily Telegraph added.

London-listed LUKoil is run by Russian billionaire Vagit Alekperov, who holds 20 percent of the shares. LUKoil produces 2 million bpd, or 2.5 percent of world supply. It exports one fifth of its output to Germany and Poland.

Russia exports roughly 6.5 million bdp, supplying the EU with 26 percent of its total oil needs and 29 percent of its gas.

Presidential Guards Preparing For Yerevan Mission
Turkish officials have been tightlipped over whether President Abdullah Gül will accept an invitation from his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarksyan, to visit Armenia to watch a game between the two countries' national soccer teams, but the president's elite bodyguard team is preparing for a possible Yerevan mission.

The Presidential Security Directorate, the body in charge of protecting the president, has been busy preparing for Gül's visit to Armenia in case the president accepts Sarksyan's invitation, sources told Today's Zaman. Plans include a dispatch of a 15-member counterattack team to Armenia over the weekend as a forward unit. Officials at the Foreign Ministry said there are no official plans to send a security team to Armenia at the moment.

Gül has declined to comment on whether he will accept the invitation, a landmark move that would break the ice between the estranged neighbors. "We are still considering it. What is important is whether such a visit will be useful or not," Gül said in televised remarks yesterday.

Turkey severed its diplomatic ties and closed its border gate with landlocked Armenia in the early 1990s in protest of the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the official Turkish policy, normalization in ties depends on the Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, a reversal of Armenia's policy to support its diaspora's efforts for worldwide recognition of Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire and official recognition by Yerevan of the current Turkish-Armenian border.

There has been no change in the Armenian stance in any of these areas, but prospects emerged recently for a thaw in relations. Turkish and Armenian diplomats have been holding secret talks on the normalization of ties and Sarksyan, following a message from Gül to congratulate him for his election as president earlier this year, invited Gül to Yerevan to watch the World Cup qualifying game between the national teams on Sept. 6. While observers say it would be a good step that would also help Turkey restore its influence in the Caucasus, critics like the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) say Armenia has done nothing to deserve such a top-level gesture and warn against offending regional ally Azerbaijan.

Security is another concern. Mindful that the president could go to Armenia with a last-minute decision, the Presidential Security Directorate and the police have been reviewing preparations for a possible visit. The plans include a dispatch of the 15-member team to discuss in detail with Armenian security officials preparations for Gül's visit.

According to current plans, a group from the counterattack team, armed with M5 and M16 rifles, will be responsible for Gül's security during the visit. High security measures are expected to be taken at Razdan Stadium, where the game will take place. Armenian police will be in charge of securing the roads Gül will use during his stay in Yerevan.

28 August 2008, Sedat Güneç Ankara

Ruben Safrastian Does Not Rule Out That Presidents Of Armenia And Turkey Will Discuss Idea Of "South-Caucasian Platform"

Noyan Tapan Aug 26, 2008

YEREVAN, AUGUST 26, NOYAN TAPAN. It is not ruled out that in case of the Turkish president's visit to Yerevan, in addition to issues related to Armenian-Turkish relations, he will discuss with his Armenian counterpart the Turkish side's initiative of creating a "South-Caucasian platform", director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the RA National Academy of Sciences Ruben Safrastian told NT correspondent.

In his words, the idea of creating a "South-Caucasian platform" that envisages developing the regional cooperation in the format of Russia, Turkey and the three South Caucasian countries is part of Turkey's policy in the Caucasus. In particular, Turkey pursues its geopolitical goals and tries, through realization of this idea, to strengthen its influence in the South Caucasus and to distance itself from the policy of the West, including the U.S, in this region and play an independent role.

In the opinion of R. Safrastian, taking into account the visits of Turkish leaders to Moscow and Baku, this initiative has undergone development recently. At the same time, he expressed a doubt that Russia may agree that the initiatives of Turkish displomacy should be put into practice as Russia is not interested in the strengthening of Turkey's positions in the Caucasus.

To recap, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has invited his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to a qualifying match between the national football teams of Armenia and Turkey which will be held in Yerevan on September 6. So far Ankara has not given an official answer to this invitation.

The Armenian-Turkish land border has been closed by Ankara since 1993.

Turkey's precondition for opening the border is considerable progress in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, as well as Armenia's renunciation of its demand to recognize the 1915 events in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

Turkey Has A Rough Road Ahead By Robert M Cutler
MONTREAL - The realities of Turkey's economy and politics would alone have killed off the summer revival in the country's stock markets. Russia's invasion of Georgia, on Turkey's back doorstep, made sure.

The benchmark ISE National 100 Index gained as much as 28% from the start of July to August 4 in the run-up to the Constitutional Court decision not to ban the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The index has since fallen from around the 43,000 mark to under the 41,500 level I identified this month as the lower bound of a band of resistances stretching up to 45,500 and dating from the first half of 2006. (See Turkey ruling spurs (brief) stock revival, Asia Times Online, August 8, 2008).

Turkey is trying to elaborate a new and autonomous foreign policy in unprecedented conditions. For this to be successful, two things are necessary. These are a settling-down of its international region - the Georgia invasion making that look even less likely than previously - and a settling-down of its domestic politics. That also is not certain.

The government is seeking to deepen its energy ties with Iran in the hope that Europe will decide to decrease its energy dependence on Russia by increasing such dependence on Iran. Yet Iran is conspicuous by its absence from Turkey's recent proposal to establish a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform (CSCP), which would include Turkey, Russia and the three South Caucasus states, and perhaps others such as the US, at least as observers.

Such a forum is not a new idea. The CSCP is the same idea that Turkey's president Suleiman Demirel proposed in 1999-2000, when it was called the Caucasus Stability Pact, only to see it abandoned by the subsequent government in Ankara headed by his longtime rival Bulent Ecevit.

What is clear is that the CSCP initiative was a surprise to many players. This is not a fatal flaw but is surely a sign that it has not been adequately prepared. Especially, it is not clear where it would fit into the alphabet soup of regional and transregional organizations already concerned with the region, or in the current parlance what its "added value" would be.

One Turkish analyst has suggested that Erdogan is looking for political cover to improve relations with eastern neighbor Armenia, to ameliorate the economic situation in eastern Turkey. This would be why he visited Baku to discuss the proposal with Armenia's own eastern neighbor, Azerbaijan, which seems less antagonistic to the idea than earlier in the decade, because it is clear that Turkey's blockade of Armenia only increases the latter's dependence on Russia.

(The blockade was instituted in the early 1990s initially due to a dispute involving the Nagorno Karabagh region.) But Erdogan risks creating the impression that he welcomes Russia's participation in the CSCP to decrease Western influence in the region.

That impression is enhanced by the warmth of his welcome last week to Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, whom he permitted among other things to avoid paying respects at the Ataturk monument, a visit that is diplomatically de rigueur for all foreign heads of state as a mark of respect to the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and to be filmed at length by television cameras at prayer in a major Turkish mosque. Turkish commentators have remarked that this latter gesture, beyond disrespecting the secularism of Turkish political modernity, violates the intimacy of prayer under Islamic religious tradition.

That meeting did not lead to the conclusion of an energy contract, but one should not think that that failure is the result of pressure from the US, which is hostile to Iran's nuclear program. Rather, as the Turkish energy ministry stated, the problem is with the conditions of Tehran's buy-back contracts. The Iranian oil minister retorted that Turkey was "not informed about the culture of the buy-back contracts". According to him, "the price ceiling of the contract is determined after carrying out tenders". Almost needless to say, this is an unorthodox perspective. Nor is Turkey uninformed after years of experience with problems of Iranian (non)fulfillment of past contracts.

Turkish economic advisors correctly see dangers arising from commodity price increases, financing costs and the absence of production guarantees and insurance costs. Also the present constitution of the Iranian state forbids recognition of jurisdiction of any international court or arbitration procedure. Not just Turkey but every potential foreign investor in the energy sector in Iran faces all these hurdles. Iran has only itself to blame for the absence of Western investment.

The CSCP initiative is Turkey's attempt to provide that Russia's invasion of Georgia does not make additional South Caucasus energy pipelines impossible. That Russian troops did not destroy Azerbaijan-owned energy infrastructure on Georgia's Black Sea coast, but some reports have put that down only to a saving telephone call from Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliev to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, terminating on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, was closed when Russia launched its invasion because of a Kurdish-claimed sabotage of the pipeline, although it is scheduled to reopen in the near future.

Oil from Kazakhstan, to the east of the Caspian Sea, crosses Georgia by rail for export. Just this week such a train exploded after hitting a mine on the newly restored main east-west railway in the country, a mine that was not there before the Russian invasion. After years of discussion, Kazakhstan agreed just this summer with Azerbaijan on the terms for contributing crude from the Tengiz and Kashagan deposits in Kazakhstan into the BTC.

That is in greater doubt now, as is a trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Kazakhstan's southern neighbor Turkmenistan crossing the South Caucasus into Turkey and from there to Europe. Likewise, Russian energy giant Gazprom's now-repeated offer to buy all of Azerbaijan’s natural gas production, for piping through Russia to foreign markets, acquires a new profile under conditions of continuing Russian occupation of Georgian territory.

Turkey had a rough economic road ahead even before the Russian invasion of Georgia. The country's long-term foreign currency debt is rated several notches below investment grade. No current initiative will contribute to solving the most glaring economic problem facing the government, the current account deficit, which was US$1.5 billion in 2002 (the year that Erdogan's party came to power), rose to $37 billion in 2007 and is estimated to exceed $50 billion by the end of the current year.

These days, especially in the Caspian/Black Sea region, pipelines are not big moneymakers. Rather, they are treated as services to the consortium that owns the gas or oil being transported. The CSCP will not solve Turkey's basic economic problems, which arise from its domestic financial and social evolution over the past six years. The outlook cannot be optimistic in the context of the worldwide economic downturn now beginning.

Robert M Cutler is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Carleton University, Canada. Copyright 2008 Asia Times Online

Saakashvili Pulled The Trigger: Turkey Between Russia And Georgia
Turkey has been involved, historically and demographically, with many of the regions of “frozen conflict” in post-Soviet space. At this point, one might consider the position of Turkey as being at the epicenter of Euro-Atlantic and Russian extremes concerning the frozen conflicts.

Georgia, since 1991, has been considered a valuable “strategic partner” by Turkey for several reasons. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Caucasus Pact idea is a good opportunity to create an inclusive (Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) new foreign policy approach at this stage. This approach should be merged with the representation of all the frozen or unfrozen conflict areas, peoples, ethnic groups and regions included under the roof of such an alliance.

Turkey and the “frozen conflicts” in former Soviet space
Turkey has been involved, historically and demographically, with many of the regions of “frozen conflict” in post-Soviet space. The Gagauz question in Moldova, the status of Crimea and the resettlement of Crimean Tatars to their homeland in today’s Ukraine, the Chechen problem, the Abkhazian and South Osetian questions, the issue of Ajarian autonomy, the relocation of Ahiska Turks in Georgia, the problems of Borchali Azeris in Georgia, the dispute over Nagorno Karabakh, and many other frozen conflicts concern not only the representatives of these ethnic groups within Turkey but also Turkish governments, due to the activities of lobbyists acting on these ethnic groups’ behalf. In Turkey, many such lobbyists are well organized around advocacy and civil society organizations. They usually have a direct influence on both the Turkish public and on Turkey’s administrations. Beyond the agitations of the lobbyists, the frozen conflicts themselves represent potential instability in the region, as was recently seen in the latest South Osetia (5 Days) War. The status of these regions as ‘instabilizers’ is one of the reasons why Turkey, and probably the rest of the world, has had difficulty engaging in the economics and politics of the region. Another issue that characterizes the frozen conflicts is the existence of the former hegemon, Russia, as an integral part of all of them. This latter point is the reason why all these frozen conflicts have long been considered the major obstacle to Euro-Atlantic interests in post-Soviet space.[1] At this point, one might consider the position of Turkey as being at the epicenter of Euro-Atlantic and Russian extremes concerning the frozen conflicts.

Turkey and Georgia
Georgia, since 1991, has been considered a valuable “strategic partner” by Turkey for several reasons. The first reason really is strategic; having a weaker, friendly country between gigantic Russia and Turkey as a “buffer zone” makes good tactical sense. It is assumed that to be a neighbor of a superpower, old, new or reborn, is risky. Second, especially after the invasion of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, and in the wake of the Nagorno Karabakh problem, Georgia was valued again as the only direct corridor by which Turkey could reach Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and the rest of the Turkic republics. Thirdly, Georgia provides the best option for the transportation of Caspian energy riches to international markets via Turkey, bypassing both Russia and Iran. For a good part of the 1990s, the Georgian economy survived thanks to shuttle trade between Turkey’s Black Sea provinces and its own. The Turkish military helped its Georgian counterparts in their ambitious effort to meet NATO standards in their military and defense infrastructure. In some cases, Turkey trained Georgian military officials, and some basic, non-sophisticated equipment was transferred by Turkey to Georgia. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline, and Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway projects were all aimed to strengthen Turkey’s ties with the Caucasus and the Caspian Basin. Georgia was seen as a key player in all these projects; the need to support Georgia has thus rarely been questioned, even during the Georgian civil war and the Abkhazian and South Osetian wars.

The Ajaria Experience and Osetia Fiasco
The general perception in the Turkish press is that Georgia’s Saakashvili administration has failed to calculate the extent of the Russian reaction to its attempt to crack the self-declared South Osetian Republic.[2] But before considering the reverberations of Saakashvili’s present actions, it may prove important to consider their political precedent. Many Turks have not even heard about Saakashvili’s similar actions in Ajaria a couple of years ago. Ajaria was given to the Soviets in 1921 by the Kars Treaty between the Turkish Grand National Assembly and Soviet representatives from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Article 6 of the treaty explicitly guaranteed the autonomy of the Muslim majority in Ajaria, which is why an Ajarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established in 1921. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ajaria was ruled by an authoritarian former communist, Aslan Abashidze. Although Abashidze was not a separatist, he achieved a high degree of autonomy from Tbilisi, especially after the Georgian Civil War of 1992-1993.

One of the first consolidation attempts on the part of Saakashvili administration in the spring of 2004 was to liquidate Ajaria by military means and force Abashidze to flee Moscow via the Turkish town of Trabzon. Although this development agitated some discussion among the Turkish intelligentsia about the rights of – and guaranteurship of Turkey over – the autonomy of Ajaria, Turkey took no steps and raised no vocal criticism of the issue. Since then, it is a well known fact that the Georgian cross was inserted into Ajaria’s sovereign flag. Some might consider the success of the Saakashvili administration in “re-uniting Ajaria” with Georgia as an inspiration – or view it as a model for the current attempt to liquidate Osetian defacto independence.

On the present occasion, Saakashvili’s timing was quite perfect. The international arena was full of other matters. The very opening of the Olympics was a showcase for world leaders to meet each other and to appear before world public opinion. Unable to understand the timing and the use-of-force motives of Saakashvili, some major columnists in the Turkish media have started to make some analogies. One of them was quite extreme indeed. Ferai Tinç, in her column in Turkish daily Hurriyet asked Saakashvili: “Have the ones who shed a green light to Saddam for the invasion of Kuwait said to you that the Olympics are excellent timing?”3 The US and its allies were quite busy in Afghanistan in their search for more military manpower from NATO allies. They have asked Turkey repeatedly to increase the number of Turkish forces in Afghanistan and to send some major combat troops. Iraq still poses a major challenge for the US and her allies, including Georgia, a former troop contributor. The Georgian attack on Tskhinvali comes at a time when Iran-US nuclear disaccord is obvious and the international community is on the verge of taking new sanctions to force Iranians to give up their current position. The Georgian leadership might have calculated their attack against the separatist South Osetia as a new fait accompli just like their experience in Ajaria.

Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks and Turkey
Quite unknown to the international public, the situation of the Ahiska Turks has been one of Turkey’s major concerns in its relations with Georgia since 1991. The Ahiska Turks were one of several ethnic groups subjected to mass (and in some cases quite murderous) exile/deportation to Central Asia in 1944. Along with Crimean Tatars, Volga Germans, and Chechens, they were exiled to Central Asia and dispersed to more than four thousand locations in the former Soviet Union. In 1989 and 1990 the Ahiska Turks were targets of local ethnic violence in Central Asia and many of them left Uzbekistan for Azerbaijan, Kazakstan and Russia.[4] Vatan Society, the only representative institution of this very widely dispersed and impoverished population, spent a good deal of the 1990s and 2000s searching for ways to resettle the Ahiska Turks in their homeland in Georgia. Georgian authorities had one condition for this: Ahiska Turks were required to declare that they were ethnic Georgians.

After 2003-2004, with the Saakashvili administration in power, there appeared to be new hope for the Ahiska Turks. Turkey had already received minor numbers of Ahiska Turk refugees since 1991. However, the major point for Turkey was to assure over half a million Ahiska Turks that Turkey would help finance their relocation. In due course, numerous conferences and official gatherings were held concerning the situation of the Ahiska Turks. Saakashvili, during his May 2004 visit to Turkey, accordingly met with most of the representatives of the Ahiska Turks and promised to do everything possible in order to secure their resettlement.[5] Since then almost nothing has been achieved and no steps have been taken by the Georgian administration on the part of the proposed resettlement, a situation which continues to cause resentment in Turkey. Moreover, in accordance with Georgia’s commitments to the European Union, the Ahiska Turks were obliged to apply for resettlement by the end of 2008. There have been very few applications to date, due both to the bureaucratic difficulties imposed by the Georgian administration and also to uncertainties regarding the recognition of the ethnic and religious identities of the applicants. Especially after the August 2008 South Osetia war, the near future appears to hold few prospects of any progress toward the resettlement of Ahiska Turks in their homeland.[6] This gridlock naturally places further anti-Georgian pressure on Turkish governments domestically through the mobilization of civil society organizations working on behalf of the Ahiska Turks.

The Caucasian Diaspora in Turkey
Both Abkhazians and Osetians are a part of greater Causasian/Circassian diaspora in Turkey. Circassians in particular are quite famous for their solidarity and public spirit. After fighting against the Tsarist armies for a century, they found refuge in the Ottoman Empire throughout the 1900s in several waves of immigration, and were settled in disparate regions all over the Empire. The descendants of the Ottoman Circassians are to be found in Israel, Jordan, Syria, Greece, Macedonia, and even Bulgaria. But the bulks of the Circassians have remained within the borders of Anatolia and have taken important initiatives throughout the republican era.

Especially during the first Chechen War (1994-1996) the Circassians showed their solidarity to a great extent. Immense aid and media campaigns bombarded the Turkish public. Governments during this period felt the pressure of this public barrage acutely, and took action both by accepting Chechen refugees and by declining to impose strict control over the type of “aid” going through Turkey to Chechnya. But, during the second Chechen War, with multiple factors (i.e., the appearance of a visible “Jihadist” influence there, changes in the international dynamiycs, and the different governments both in Russia and Turkey), Circassian solidarity with Chechnya waned. In contrast, the solidarity concerning Abkhazian and South Osetian causes has maintained its strength since the beginning of the 1990s. One of the major civil societal platforms of the Circassian diaspora in Turkey is called as the Federation of Caucasian Associations. The memorandum this group published on the 9th of August concerning the South Osetia war was entitled “Memorandum Concerning the Invasion of South Osetia by Georgia”. The title alone serves to explain the stance of the Turkish Circassian community on the issue. A similar protest was published by another group, the Friends of Abkhazia in Turkey. Of course, the stance reflected in these documents is expected to have an impact on the government and political parties; it should also be expected that Turkish public opinion will be shaped in part by the lenses of such an approach.[7]

Georgians in Turkey
There is a tiny Georgian minority in Turkey. Although politically quite active over the years, it is difficult to argue that they have shown a similar solidarity to that enjoyed by the Circassians. Turkish Georgians are Muslim descendants of Ajarians who stayed or preferred to stay on this side of the border during and after the 1921 delimitation. Probably for the first time in Turkish history, Turkish Georgians have organized a protest meeting in Istanbul in support of Georgia. Although outnumbered by the Circassians, they are expected to have an influence over politicians of Black Sea origin, probably including the prime minister himself. Given the long-standing historical and demographic concerns raised by both sides, Turkey needs an approach that will satisfy Turkish Georgians as well as the Ahiska Turks.

Kosovo’s Impact and Saakashvili as a Leader
Although Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of Kosovo, none of the Turkic republics followed suit. In this respect they have chosen to stick with Russia. Both the Kosovo War of 1999 and Kosovo’s independence in 2008 were considered important backlashes against Russian diplomacy and power politics. If one includes Tbilisi’s “unequivocal geopolitical choice in favor of the West” and NATO[8] it might be easier to understand how Georgia could become the very fragile target of Russian “diplomacy.” Saakashvili has given the best opportunity to Russia for challenging the new world order.[9] Without any short-term prospects for EU membership, decorating or furnishing almost all state institutions in Georgia with EU flags not only demonstrates Georgian leadership’s commitment to this cause: it sends a message to Russia. But this gesture is tragicomic as well. The author, just a couple of months ago, saw many ruined schools and hospitals in the Georgian countryside with brand new Georgian and EU flags in front of them. Russia is exactly ready to do anything possible to see a more pro-Russian or a more “independent” administration in Georgia.

The Turkish media, especially those sources closest to the government, are full of accusations against Saakashvili. There is almost no doubt among the Turkish public that he is responsible for all these messes. One writer queries, “Do you see how an irresponsible, ambitious, hasty [person], no statesmen at all, employing nationalism and religious symbols without any control, a clamorous leader, has forced his country, his allies and his enemies into huge turmoil? He has taken one of the most sensitive regions of the world to the brink of a major war.” [10]

These accusations are not without basis in fact. Moreover, Saakashvili’s chauvinistic policy against the Muslim population (Ajaras, Azeris, Ahiska Turks and others), Abkhazians and Osetians also raises concerns in Turkey.[11] The one major promise made by the Saakashvili administration to the Georgian people was to enter into the EU and NATO quickly. For this purpose, Saakashvili needed to eliminate South Osetian and Abkhazian demands and he was also asked by the EU to help the Ahiska Turks resettle their homeland. But he preferred to allocate approximately 70% of the national budget to military build-up. While the countryside was quite miserable economically, Tbilisi started to look like a surreally reborn historic city. Perhaps even more troubling, Saakashvili did not hesitate to use disproportionate police force against democratically demonstrating opposition members last year. Saakashvili has failed to create civilian jobs, preferring to invest in the military and the state. Not surprisingly, Saakashvili lost support from his people during last winter’s presidential elections and during the May 2008 parliamentary elections. It was the Saakashvili administration that opened Pandora’s Box by beginning to bomb South Osetia as a result of a search for a fait accompli or a miscalculation.

Saakashvili, until now, has not behaved with the dignity of a president of a great people but rather has acted as a war correspondent for CNN. One day sees him declaring war, the other declaring ceasefire, and the following day begging the international community for help. He might once have secured the full-fledged support of poor Georgians in this catastrophe by employing his extremely religious and nationalistic slogans. He is a caricature now. Failing to consult his allies, his neighbors and his own domestic opposition, Saakashvili is now the target of nearly everyone. This situation marks a total discreditation of his leadership qualities. It should not be forgotten that it was Saakashvili who pulled the trigger.

Turkey in this Equation
Turkey has close historical, strategic, economic and ethnic linkages to all parties in the confrontation. Therefore, Turkey has to take all of these into consideration. The following points could be relevant for Turkish crisis management and the reformulation of Turkish foreign policy concerning the region:

Turkey should refrain from taking the initiative or in fact any direct action toward mediating the conflict. Any involvement stands to have important results in both the domestic and international politics of the country. A Turkish initiative might alienate Russia, an important economic and energy partner internationally. It would definitely alienate members of the domestic Circassian diaspora and the political elites in the country who support their cause. Any expression of open political sympathy with the Georgian administration would alienate the nationalist civil society and political powers in Turkey that are in close contact with the Ahiska Turks and Borchali Azeris in Georgia.

Turkey should bring the humanitarian side of the current catastrophe to the forefront. War-torn Georgian regions, devastated South Osetia, and economically backward Abkhazia should be the direct recipients of Turkish aid campaigns and investment. Humanitarian support would satisfy domestic lobbies and Russia alike. Turkey should accept refugees from Georgia’s war-torn regions in the short run and should establish direct economic relations with Abkhazia and South Osetia. This should include direct flights from Istanbul to Sokhumi and Tskhinvali. The future of these regions should be liberated from the decisions of chauvinistic and irresponsible parties’ personal decisions.

In the medium and long term, Turkey should take the initiative to re-build Georgia with huge grants. However this time the grants should concentrate on building the country’s civilian infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, and electricity and water investments. The humanitarian-centered approach should also be valid for this re-building attempt. Within this context, Turkey and Western allies should allocate funds to invite thousands of Georgian, Abkhazian, Osetian, Azeri, Ahiska, Mingrealian all other ethnic students to complete their higher education in the liberal democracies of the West.

In the post-war re-formulation of Turkish foreign policy, the Tbilisicentered approach should be replaced by a multi-faceted approach, including the creation of political ties with Abkhazia, South Osetia and Ajaria. If Turkey fails to make such connections, those regions are destined to establish ties only with the Russian Federation, currently the only country in the world struggling to explain the problems of the region’s people. This burden should be lifted from the shoulders of Russia. Power politics and Russia’s ambitions for hegemony arguable shadow Russia’s humanitarian aid to those regions.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Caucasus Pact idea is a good opportunity to create an inclusive (Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) new foreign policy approach at this stage. This approach should be merged with the representation of all the frozen or unfrozen conflict areas, peoples, ethnic groups and regions included under the roof of such an alliance. Erdogan’s approach could be productively supported by economic and energy concerns and, perhaps more importantly, with more humanitarian and inter-ethnic dialogue patterns.

If Turkey could develop such an inclusive approach, not only establishing relations with the “centers” of the nation states but also with the “problematic regions” by capitalizing on its historical and ethnic heritage, it would succeed in establishing secure links between its allies in the West and those regions without alienating any regional power.

[1]Vladimir Socor, “The Frozen Conflicts: A Challenge to Euro-Atlantic Interests,” Report prepared by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, on the occasion of the NATO Summit 2004.

[2] Semih Idiz, “Türkiye’yi Bati’ya iten Rusya’dir,” Milliyet, 11 August 2008.

[3] Ferai Tinç, “Gürcü Lideri Kim Itti?” Hürriyet, 11.8.2008.

[4] Calep Daniloff, “The Exile of the Meskheti Turks: Still Homesick Half a Century Later,” Azerbaijan International, Spring 1997, (5.1) pp. 12-16.

[5] The speech of Turkish MP Ensar Ögüt at the Turkish Grand National Assembly, 22nd term, 2nd legislative year, 110th session, July 6, 2004.

[6] Çagri Erhan, “Gürcistan’daki Durum Ahiska Türklerinin Dönüsünü Imkansiz Kiliyor,” ASAM Analysis, 11 August 2008.

[7] This point of view has a long precedent: the Federation has declared that the inclusion of South Osetia and Abkhazia in Georgia in the first place were criminal acts on the part of Stalin, who acted in order to promote his home country Georgia within the Soviet Union. See Kafkas Dernekleri Federasyonu, “Gürcistan’in Güney Osetya’yi Isgali Nedeni Ile Yayinladigimiz Bidiridir,” 9.8.2008. However the historical background of the inclusion of these two regions into the lands of Georgia is a bit different.

[8] Igor Torbakov, “New Caucasus War: All Sides are Likely to Lose,” Upcoming article by Dr. Torbakov sent to the author in 11.8.2008.

[9] Fehmi Koru, “Dikkatle ve Ihtiyatla,” Yeni Safak, 12 August 2008.

[10] Ibrahim Karagül, “Bir Delinin Basimiza Açtigi Belaya Bakin,” Yeni Safak, 12 August 2008.

[11] Hakan Albayrak, “Saakasvili ve Sovenist Siyasetin Iflasi,” Yeni Safak, 11 August 2008.

[*] PhD International Relations, Bilkent University, Ankara. karasar@bilkent.edu.tr

26 August 2008, Hasan Ali Karasar Foundation For Political, Economic And Social
Crisis in the South Caucasus: Turkey's Big Moment?, August 27, 2008
Turkey controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles, through which Russia and other Black Sea countries conduct most of their trade. As the only NATO member to border the Caucasus, the conflict between Georgia and Russia offers Turkey a unique opportunity to bolster its regional clout, to check Russian and Iranian influence, and to help secure the flow of Western-bound oil and natural gas from former Soviet Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Will Turkey’s leaders rise to the occasion?

Amberin Zaman

Turkey is the sole NATO member that borders the Caucasus. It controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles, through which Russia and other Black Sea countries conduct most of their trade. The recent crisis between Georgia and Russia, offers Turkey a unique chance to bolster its regional clout, to check Russian and Iranian influence, and to help secure the flow of Western-bound oil and natural gas from former Soviet Central Asia and Azerbaijan.

Will Turkey's leaders rise to the occasion? Turkey's proposal to create a “Caucasus Stability and Coop­eration Platform,” a scheme calling for new methods of crisis management and conflict resolution, is a step in the right direction. Yet, there's one glaring hitch. Turkey does not have formal ties with one proposed member: Armenia. And without Armenia, Turkey's hopes of becoming a regional bigwig aren't likely to go far.

Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, floated the idea of the platform during a string of meetings with Russian, Georgian, and Azerbaijani leaders over the past week. Critics have dismissed the initiative as an empty gesture that will allow Prime Minister Erdogan to burnish his credentials as a statesman and hog the international stage. The plan (which also talks about cooperation in tourism and trade) is vague and lacking in substance. No wonder Erdogan's respective hosts embraced it so effortlessly, the cynics add.

Not everyone agrees. Many believe that the platform could serve as a useful cover for mending fences with Armenia; a step that is clearly in Turkey's interests but which faces formidable diplomatic obstacles. In 1993, Turkey sealed its border (though not its air links) with its eastern neighbor, after Armenia occupied a chunk of Azerbaijan following a nasty war over the Nagnorno-Karabakh enclave.

Regional backdrop for the conflict
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or OSCE-sponsored talks to broker a peace have failed so far. Keeping the Turkish border shut has hurt exports to Central Asia and limited Ankara's regional influence, yet it has not humbled Armenia into returning occupied Azerbaijani land. Instead, it has spawned a flourishing black market trade in Turkish goods carried via Georgia by a handful of oligarchs who have propped up successive Armenian strongmen and pushed Armenia further into the arms of Russia and Iran. Meanwhile, flush from its recent oil earnings, an increasingly bellicose Azerbaijan, has been muttering about retaking Nagorno-Karabakh by force if need be.

All of this creates the regional backdrop for the current conflict in Georgia, which has starkly illuminated the need for all sides to rethink the status quo. The need for new strategic thinking was never more clear than last week, when Russia blew up a rail bridge near Tbilisi, thereby disrupting Georgia's main rail network that runs to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This disrupted Azerbaijan's oil exports, which had already been hit by an explosion earlier this month in the Turkish section of its main export pipeline running from Baku to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Yet a proposed extension of the pipeline looping through Armenia might have saved the day.

The moment for Ankara
Landlocked and poor, Armenia is looking even more vulnerable. Most of its fuel and much of its grain comes through Georgia's Black Sea ports, which are virtually paralyzed. The capital city of Yerevan is already experiencing a serious fuel shortage, where many filling stations have halted sales of gasoline and supplies of key commodities such as jet fuel and wheat are dwindling. Armenia is reportedly trying to secure additional fuel supplies through Iran, its only remaining neighbor whose border remains open.

This is the moment for Turkey to step forward. By re-opening the rail line linking the eastern province of Kars to Armenia, which then hooks up with both the Georgian and Azerbaijani grids, Turkey could both expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid to Georgia's war-ravaged north and help avert the looming crisis in Armenia. Azerbaijan would benefit too. But its leaders, who oppose the slightest contact between Turkey and Armenia, are sure to disagree.

Turkey's ethnic and religious ties with its Azerbaijani cousins have long held sway over Ankara's regional policy. But there seems to be growing recognition in official circles that isolating Armenia is hurting Turkey without necessarily helping Azerbaijan. For one, there are renewed worries that a U.S. congressional resolution calling the mass slaughter of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 genocide may be passed should the Democrats win this November's presidential election. Relations between Turkey and the United States, already bruised by Iraq, would sink to new lows. Whereas if Turkey and Armenia were to make peace beforehand, the resolution might be buried for good. Besides, relations with Armenia would make it easier for Turkey to push for a deal on Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mindful of such rewards (and with plenty of nudging from America) Turkish and Armenian diplomats have been holding secret talks in Switzerland over the past few months that could lay the ground for re-establishing diplomatic ties.

Turkey has several key demands. The first is that Armenia declare that it has no territorial claims on Turkey. The second is that Armenia shelve its backing for its diaspora's campaign for international genocide recognition and allow a commission of historians from both countries to investigate the events of 1915 instead. Armenia's pragmatic president, Serzh Sarkisian, has responded positively to both. And upping the ante, Sarkisian invited his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül to a football World Cup qualifier between Turkey and Armenia to be played in Yerevan on Sept. 6. Azerbaijan is deeply unhappy, and President Gül has yet to respond. As ever, all eyes are turned to Turkey's influential army, which trained and armed Azerbaijani officers during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. In a hopeful sign, pro-establishment newspapers that tend to reflect the generals' views have commented favorably on the secret talks after they were leaked. More significantly perhaps, the habitually meddlesome top brass has not uttered a word. Gül may well decide to travel to Yerevan. The question may then become whether the Turkish leader will take the train from Kars or fly.

Armenian Public Television Company and Turkish TRT Agree On Cooperation
27 August 2008 - Today.Az
Alexan Arutyunan, chairman of the Armenian board of the Public television company, and Ibrahim Shahin, director general of the Turkish TRT television company, signed a memo of cooperation in Ankara.
The document envisages organization of television and radio programmes about Armenia and Turkey, exchange of experience between the two countries, which are members of the European Broadcasters Union, according to the Armenian Public Television Company.

TRT Secretary General Ali Kemoghlu-oghlu noted during the meeting with the Armenian delegation that the first broadcasting of programmes in their country was organized by Constantinople Armenians in 1907. He said Turkey still remembers this fact.

The Public Television Company of Armenia is a state mass media. Along with the territory of Armenia, the public television and public radio of Armenia also broadcast in the countries of the CIS, Europe, Near and Middle East, the United States and Canada, North Africa, Siberia, Far East and Australia.

ANKARA - Armenia`S Former Foreign Minister Said On Tuesday That Turkey`S Proposal For The Establishment Of A "Caucasus Cooperation And Stability Platform" Was Interesting.

In an article titled "The Caucasus Moment" published in International Herald Tribune, former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said that the concept of such proposal must be developed right and implemented well.

"The proposal today, in this new tense environment, must be more serious and sustained. It must marginalize no one," Oskanian said.

Recalling Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan`s recent visit to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, Oskanian said that Erdogan discussed the Turkish plan there and publicly made reference to Armenia`s inclusion as well.

"It is also a fortuitous coincidence that President Abdullah Gul of Turkey has been invited by President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia to watch the Turkey-Armenia FIFA World Cup qualifying match on September 6th together," he said.

Oskanian also said that such invitation offered an opportunity for the two countries to discuss common security challenges and pave the way for a region of peace. (DO-MS)

Turkey Moves Ahead With 'Unsatisfying' Caucasus Diplomacy
August 29, 2008

The shuttle diplomacy by Prime Minister Erdogan following the war, encompassing visits to Moscow and Tbilisi, will be followed by official contacts in Istanbul with the foreign ministers of the rival sides. While Turkey is still engaged in diplomatic efforts for a solution to the crisis, analysts say its policy is far from satisfactory

Ankara - Turkish Daily News

As Turkey readies to host the rival sides of the latest Caucasus war along with to ongoing a telephone diplomacy with world leaders, analysts yesterday considered Turkish policy toward the region as "inadequate" and even "weak."

Ankara's efforts not to hurt ties with its strategic ally in the Caucasus, Georgia, its energy-trade partner, Russia, or with Turkish citizens of Caucasus origin are to blame for this "weak policy," according to Mustafa Aydin, a senior analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, or TEPAV.

"But at the macro level Turkey has failed to draw the direction between the Western bloc and Russia for 10 years," he argued. "All these factors bind Turkey hand and foot." His remarks came at a Caucasus meeting in Ankara organized by TEPAV.

"Turkey has fallen behind in the Caucasus with the policies it has so far pursued," said Cihan Candemir, head of the Federation of the Caucasian Associations. But he said the latest crisis offered an opportunity for Turkey to prevent further crises and maintain peace and stability in the region. "But Turkey should very well know about the expectations of the parties concerned."

Turkey has been walking the lines of a fragile diplomacy so as not to offend any party. In a show of shuttle diplomacy following the war, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew to Moscow and Tbilisi for separate talks with the leaders, and now Turkey will host the foreign ministers of Georgia and Russia, Eka Tkeshelashvili and Sergei Lavrov.

Georgia's Tkeshelashvili is expected to hold talks with Turkish officials in Istanbul over the weekend to be followed with Lavrov's contacts Tuesday, again in Istanbul, said diplomatic sources.

Ankara maintains contacts with world leaders on the other side for an exchange of views over the Caucasus conflict and its proposal to establish a regional platform for peace and stability that will involve five countries: Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan held telephone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France, Sweden and Finland, and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, said a written statement released by the ministry.

In telephone conversations Babacan said Turkey attributes significance to the territorial integrity of Georgia and expressed concerns over Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

NATO denies military buildup
Meanwhile, the passage of NATO ships through the Turkish straits to dispatch humanitarian aid to war-hit Georgia has been a source of contention between Russia and NATO. Turkey is serious in its implementation of the Montreux convention governing the access of military ships to the Black Sea, but some Russian military officials raised concerns over the U.S. ships loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Georgia as well as over the NATO exercise in the Black Sea scheduled long ago.

But NATO rebuffed Russian accusations that it was building up naval forces in the Black Sea.

"There is no NATO naval build up in the Black Sea as Russian authorities are claiming in the media," alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said yesterday, after Moscow warned that it would respond.

The alliance said five warships under its flag were in the sea for routine and long-planned exercises and that they had sought permission through the proper channels in June to be there.

Turkey's former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit said there was no situation in the Black Sea that violated the long-standing Montreux convention. "The treaty is implemented letter by letter … it is as simple as this," he noted.

Cyprus different issue, says Gül
Besides Turkey's conflicting interests with the West and Russia, political implications of Moscow's recognition of the two breakaway provinces opened to question of whether or not this could serve as a model for northern Cyprus.

"South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Cyprus are separate issues. Will the [Russian decision] have an impact on Cyprus? I believe it could have but I cannot predict in which direction," said Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gül, in Ankara.

For his part, Gül said the Cyprus problem was essentially different from the latest Caucasus crisis. He said Turkish and Greek Cypriots originally founded the state of Cyprus as partners, but the island was divided because the conditions of that partnership were not fulfilled.

"This makes the Cyprus problem a more just and legitimate cause for the Turkish Cypriots," he stressed.

Turkey's Location, A Blessing Or A Curse?, August 29, 2008, Semih Idiz
During the Cold War, Turkey's “strategic location” used to be an asset that Ankara could take advantage of on many levels. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, this strategic location has become the source of major headaches for the country. Developments in the Southern Caucasus provide the last example to attest to this fact.

It is however the most serious and potentially problematic example for Ankara to date. The simple reason for this is that Turkey has little choice but to get on well with all the countries and organizations involved in this dispute.

Put another way, Ankara is not in a position to take sides in this dispute, at a time when a new “East-West divide” is in the offing, even if it is a member of NATO. How Turkey will react if this divide grows and sides have to be taken is not clear. This is what is worrying many diplomats in Ankara.

For one thing, as mentioned above, Turkey has been a NATO member for over half a century. It also benefited from the security cover this provided, and Moscow's designs relating to the straits and eastern Anatolia could be kept at bay in this way.

But things changed fundamentally after the Soviet Union collapsed. Russia became one of Turkey's main economic partners with the value of the economic interaction between the two countries reaching tens of billions of dollars – and this figure continues to grow.

Taking sides
Turkey is also greatly dependent on the energy supplied by Russia. In addition to this Turkey has become the prime destination for Russian tourists, whose revenues are highly welcome and hold a significant place in the countries total earnings.

In the meantime, Georgia also became a key country for Turkey, and a major reason for this is the energy lines that go over its territory, thus connecting the Caspian basin with the Mediterranean. Put another way, this is not a country that Turkey can afford to alienate either for a host of reasons.

Caught in the middle as it is in this crisis, there was little choice for Ankara but to put forward the idea of a “Stability Pact” or “Stability Platform” for the Caucasus. Although there was little prospect for this idea to take off, it nevertheless provided Turkey with the option of remaining relatively neutral in this dispute, even if this was not to everyone's satisfaction in Washington.

But now, as things get hotter between Russia and the West, it is clear that Ankara is not going to be able to escape some serious questions that could arise in this context. For example, will Turkey be able to maintain its normal ties with NATO; should the alliance decide to become bullish in the fact of Russian aggression against Georgia?

If Turkey is forced to take sides, whichever side this may be – and it is clear that the almost pathologically anti-American Turkish public would like it to be on Russia's side – what costs will this impose on Ankara both politically and economically?

Then there is the highly sensitive question of the Turkish straits, passage through which is regulated by the Montreux Convention. Under this convention there are strict rules for the passage of military ships belonging to countries that do not have a coastline on the Black Sea.

This arrangement is also to Moscow's satisfaction since the convention has effectively kept NATO out of the Black Sea. Developments, however, show that all that could be changing. Today there are more countries with a coastline on the Black Sea that would rather see a U.S. and NATO presence there than otherwise.

Opposed to this are just Turkey – which ironically is a NATO member – and Russia. Otherwise it is clear that Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia would like to see a U.S.-led force counterbalancing Russia in the region, especially after the irredentism displayed by Moscow in Georgia.

Needless to say the prospect of revising the Montreux Convention is a nightmare for Ankara since this could also open the door to a revision of the Lausanne Treaty, a thought that is anathema to the average Turk.

Territorial integrity
There are other reasons that leave Turkey in a difficult position here. For one thing the notion of “territorial integrity” is sacrosanct in this country for obvious reasons. Therefore the invasion and subsequent division of Georgia but Russia is not something that Ankara can condone in any way. On the other hand the declarations of independence by Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a development that provides the Turkish side with new arguments vis a vis Cyprus.

As it is Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, who was in Ankara yesterday prior to the start of talks with the Greek Cypriots on Monday, openly supported the Abkhazians and Ossetians when asked about this by reporters.

This is not something that Ankara can do openly, of course, because it would provide precedence for outside support for Kurdish separatism. How Ankara is going to juggle all of these diverse and contradictory factors, while trying to serve its best national interest at the same time, remains to be seen.

The simple fact is that there are more questions today than there are answers, since no one can really predict what direction relations between the West and Russia will take as a result of this crisis.

Sometimes it takes only someone to remove a small stone for big events to be set in motion. This is what Russia has done with its invasion of Georgia, and no doubt this will rebound on it, if not today or tomorrow, then soon in ways that Moscow probably never predicted.

In the meantime Turkey has already started experiencing the negative effects of this illegal move of Russia's, which it cannot condemn openly due to the need to get along with Moscow, to mention but one major reason.

Things were already bad enough for Ankara as a result of the illegal invasion of Iraq by the United States, and the regional dynamics this set in motion. They have only gotten worse with Moscow's illegal invasion of Georgia.

These two examples are also enough to show that Turkey's strategic location on the map is no longer a blessing but more of a curse at this stage.

Armenia Expects 5,000 Turks For Football Game, August 29, 2008, ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
At least 5,000 Turkish football fans were expected to visit Armenia for their teams' World Cup qualifying round game in Yerevan, a high official in Armenian football said.

Armen Melikbekyan, vice president of the Armenian Football Federation, said he learned from contact with the Turkish Football Federation that Armenians had learned that Turkish fans have a great interest in the game, which is to take place Sept. 6.

There were places reserved for Turkish fans at the Hrazdan Stadium in Yerevan and that Armenian officials would facilitate Turks' arrival to the country, Melikbekyan said in an interview in the latest edition of the Turkish-based Armenian weekly Agos.

“We have no problems with the Turkish Football Federation and we are informed that Turks are eager to watch the match,” said Melikbekyan. “The ones who will go to the game will not need to get visas and they will not pay the fee of $50 for entrance to the country. That will make it easier for Turks to come.”

However, Melikbekyan said there would be nothing easy on the pitch. Having watched Turkey's friendly game against Chile last week, Melikbekyan said Armenia was hard to beat in its own stadium.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gül has yet to give a response to Armenian President Serge Sarkissian's invitation to watch the game together at the Hrazdan Stadium.

Geopolitical Diary: How Far Will The Caucasus Conflict Go?, August 28th, 2008, Stratfor.com
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev flew to Tajikistan on Wednesday for a summit with China and four Central Asian countries. The countries are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which meets regularly. This meeting had been on the schedule for while and has no significance, save that it brings the Russians into contact with four former members of the Soviet Union and as important China.

Each of the Central Asian countries is obviously trying to measure Russia’s long-term intentions. The issue will not be Georgia, but what Georgia means to them. In other words, how far does Russia intend to go in reasserting its sphere of influence? Medvedev will give suitable reassurances, but the Russian empire and Soviet Union both conquered this area in the past. Retaking it is possible. That means that the four Central Asian countries will be trying very hard to retain their independence without irritating the Russians. For them, this will be a careful meeting.

Of greater interest to the world is China’s view of the situation. Again, China has no interest in Georgia. It does have to have quiet delight over a confrontation between the United States and the Russians. The more these two countries are worried about each other, the less either and particularly the United States can worry about the Chinese. For China, a U.S.-Islamic confrontation coupled with a U.S.-Russian confrontation is just what the doctor ordered.

Certainly the least problem Washington will have is whether the yuan floats and, hoping for cooperation with China, the United States will pull its punches on other issues. That means that the Chinese will express sympathy to all parties and take part in nothing. There is no current threat to Central Asia, so they have no problems with the Russians. If one emerges, they can talk.

In the meantime, in the main crisis, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called attention to the Black Sea as a potential flash point in the confrontation between Russia and the West. He warned that there could be direct confrontations between Russian and NATO ships should NATO or its member nations increase their presence there.

According to NATO there are currently four NATO ships in the Black Sea for a previously scheduled exercise called Active Endeavor. Putin explicitly warned, however, that there could be additional vessels belonging to NATO countries in the Black Sea that are not under NATO command.

It is hard to get ships into the Black Sea unnoticed. The ships have to pass through the Bosporus, a fairly narrow strait in Turkey, and it is possible to sit in cafes watching the ships sail by. Putting a task force into the Black Sea, even at night, would be noticed, and the Russians would certainly know the ships are there.

As a complicating factor, there is the Montreaux Convention, a treaty that limits access to the Black Sea by warships. The deputy chief of the Russian general staff very carefully invoked the Montreaux Convention, pointing out that Turkey, the controlling country, must be notified 15 days in advance of any transit of the Bosporus, that warships can’t remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days and that only a limited number of warships were permitted there at any one time. The Russians have been reaching out in multiple diplomatic channels to the Turks to make sure that they are prepared to play their role in upholding the convention. The Turkish position on the current crisis is not clear, but becoming crucial; both the United States and Russia are working on Turkey, which is not a position Turkey cares to be in at the moment. Turkey wants this crisis to go away.

It is not going away. With the Russians holding position in Georgia, it is now clear that the West will not easily back down. The Russians certainly aren’t going to back down. The next move is NATO’s, but the alliance is incapable of moving, since there is no consensus. Therefore, the next move is for Washington to lead another coalition of the willing. It is coming down to a simple question. Does the United States have the appetite for another military confrontation (short of war, we would think) in which case it will use its remaining asset, the U.S. Navy, to sail into the Black Sea? If it does this, will it stay awhile and then leave or establish a permanent presence (ignoring the Montreaux Convention) in support of Ukraine and Georgia, with its only real military option being blockade? If this happens, will the Russians live with it, will they increase their own naval, air and land based anti-ship missile capabilities in the region, or will they increase pr essure elsewhere, in Ukraine or the Baltics?

In short, how far does this go?

Montreux And Turkey, 8/27/2008, By Nasuhi Gungor
STAR- We should be watching developments in the Caucasus more closely. Yesterday Russia officially recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in response to requests from the two breakaway Georgian provinces, according to President Dmitry Medvedev. Considering the developments beginning with Georgia's attack on South Ossetia earlier this month, this latest move might not seem surprising. But in terms of the bigger picture, one can say that through its recognition Russia took a risky step in a thorny area.

Medvedev's statement yesterday was very interesting. He said, 'Russia calls on other states to follow its example. This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives.' His message in this statement was very clear. He based his reasoning on the idea that if there are severe violations of human rights in a country – along the lines of Iraq and Kosovo – then there is a right to intervene there. Russia is now signaling that it has the power and will use this right. It's also taking the risk that the very same weapon could be used in areas nearby or attached to itself. Britain's reaction to Russia's recognition points to difficult days ahead. A British Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Britain found the decision unacceptable, adding that the move would do nothing to help the cause of peace in the Caucasus.

So in the future, how will Russia meet the demands that will emerge in problematic areas around itself? Will it also recognize their independence in order to save lives? And how will it respond to pressure from outside in this respect? Here's another important question: Will Russia be allowed to do as it pleases in Ossetia? If it is, there is no way Georgia can maintain its former power and importance.

US interests in the Caucasus center around energy, but for Russia, the issue is about protecting its existence. Of course, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has been most blamed for the recent crisis. Most people say he miscalculated and that Georgia paid a huge price for this. His latest statement was a complete disaster: 'I believed the main attack would come in Abkhazia – not that they (the Russians) could attack Tbilisi.' He added that he believed the mounting tensions in South Ossetia before the conflict had been a 'bluff.' If Saakashvili believe South Ossetia is unimportant for Russia and moves accordingly, this leaves me speechless. But everyone knows the opposite – that Russia won't forsake the region, resulting in a great conflict over Ossetia – and would find Saakashvili's assertion laughable.

Due to the current situation, Turkey is now moving through a difficult time, unlike anything it has seen in years. Now it's more difficult to make our stand. In addition, discussion of the future of the Montreux Convention is just the beginning.

Serge Sarkissian "We Need To Soften The Opposition", 27 August 2008, by Stéphane / armenews

The Armenian President Serge Sarkissian gave an interview to Austrian newspaper Der Standard, which was published August 22, 2008.

STANDARD: "If you are close to Russia, not looking too far towards the west" - Is this the lesson given by Russia with the war in the Caucasus?

Sarkissian: A look back at the history of Armenia said that the friendship with Russia has never been enforced. The friendship does not concluded under duress and still less can not be sustained, see expand.

I do not speak for other countries, but at least Armenia is very open, cordial and constant in its relations with Russia.

I would also like to emphasize that our strategic relationship with Russia has never been an obstacle to extend our good cooperation with other states in and outside the region and international organizations.

The broad spectrum of programs and common with the EU and NATO and that increasingly develop relations with European states, the U.S. and Iran prove it.

STANDARD: Armenians are not concerned for the first time directly by the effects of a crisis between Georgia and Russia. What advice to attend the Russia-you can give your partners in Georgia?

Sarkissian: Any advice to give would be inadequate. The policy we have developed over the past years, is based on the principle that small powers should really make every effort in our region this extraordinarily sensitive to soften opposition possible between the superpowers and not aggravate them.

It is simple to make profits in some regions momentarily when one supports the opposition between major powers. But the effort is more difficult when it comes to aspire to an open collaboration in the field of common interests.

Even if one takes into consideration all the challenges put in place today and that we must accept it does not make sense to build new lines of separation and artificial ideological camps.

STANDARD: A major Russian military base is located in Armenia. A Russian predominance in the South Caucasus is she good for Armenia?

Sarkissian: The sovereignty that is important is also beneficial for Armenia as for every other State. In our time, such sovereignty implies participation in international security agreements and regional effective.

Armenia has made the decision in this regard to join the Treaty on the organization of collective security (CSTO, the military organization Community of Independent States).

The basic principle of the organization is an armed attack on one member state is an attack on all. I believe that military bases are rather in our time a symbol of effective cooperation more than a hegemony.

STANDARD: What conclusions do you draw the military intervention in Georgia for Nagorno-Karabakh and the other "so-called frozen conflicts"?

Sarkissian: The tragic events in South Ossetia confirmed that each attempt brings with itself serious consequences both for military and geopolitical in the South Caucasus when it comes to looking for a military response to the right to ' self-determination. Recent events have shown that the real threat lies in the arms race in unjustified increases in the military budget and the bellicose rhetoric in the South Caucasus.

The events have also demonstrated that the solution to similar conflicts should be on the principle of the free will of the people who fight for self-determination, and that solutions must sz find in this desire. Other conflicts inevitably lead "to ethnic cleansing" and the violation of international humanitarian laws.

STANDARD: Turkey has never really responded to the offer of Armenia to open diplomatic relations without preconditions. Now you have even invited Turkish President in Yerevan. What makes you believe that the Turkish authority is more open to a dialogue?

Sarkissian: We are ready without preconditions to relations with Turkey. The Armenia has always felt compelled to have this political line. Today, we face a political situation that benefits nobody but on the contrary, where all perdont.

I am convinced that the rivalry on a long-term makes no sense and is unnecessary. Several days ago my Turkish counterpart explained that the turkey has no enemy in the region. To follow words with actions, concrete steps must be taken for normalization.

The Caucasus Moment By Vartan Oskanian, August 24, 2008, YEREVAN, Armenia
Although we could see the clouds gathering, the recent Georgia-Russia confrontation shook us all. No one had allowed themselves to believe that mixed messages and complicated agendas would come to such a head, causing so much devastation, loss of life and geopolitical chaos.

The South Ossetia conflict should not be viewed solely through the larger prism of Georgia-Russia relations. This is an ethnic conflict, after all, and one of several in the Caucasus. It is a warning to the international community: If pipeline safety is a concern now, then imagine the very real dangers that an Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict over Nagorno Karabakh would create.

Therefore, in order to seriously tackle the more difficult conflicts throughout this region, the comparatively more straightforward security and stability issues must be resolved first - and quickly.

Conflicts in the region would be viewed in a wholly different, more reassuring and tolerant context if there were a binding and strong security pact that assured non-use of force.

These conflicts are not frozen. In the absence of a security pact, there is an arms build up that is in itself destabilizing, distorting national budgets and hampering the normal development of civil society.

Yet in the Caucasus, our countries and peoples have lived under a common umbrella far more than we have been divided. Today, we share a common vision of European integration, a vision that is greater and more enduring than issues that divide us. It is in the broader context of European integration that our issues should be resolved.

Although integration with Europe is not controversial, NATO expansion is. Never in history has a grand coalition formed to defeat a particular enemy survived after the task was completed. Not after the Napoleonic wars, not after World War I and not after World War II.

After the West's Cold War victory, two things happened. NATO tried to reinvent itself by directing its attention and resources to other regions and addressing other problems. Containing Russia was not a declared intention. And NATO created the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council, which invited all Eastern Bloc and former Soviet republics to participate.

This was visionary and potentially sustainable. After all, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe extended their efficacy in that way by including the remnants of the USSR. Not only did they remain relevant and viable, they contributed immeasurably to our own growth and development.

But NATO also planned to continue and even expand in the same form, even after its stated goal had long been met. Given the changed security environment and Russia's great security sensitivities, this was, it appears, a strategic mistake.

Georgia's eagerness to get into NATO is understandable. But the security benefits to Georgia that NATO membership would bring would be offset by the creation of a dividing line in the Caucasus, and its attendant security challenges.

Perhaps this is the Caucasus moment: A historic opportunity, in the context of a new regional security pact, for Brussels, Washington and Moscow to meet with Tbilisi, Yerevan and Baku and create a nonaligned Caucasus, free of security memberships and adversarial alliances. Such positive, engaged, inclusive neutrality will be possible and beneficial all around.

This would be in the best interest of this highly combustible region. A U.S.-Russia confrontation at the Georgia-Russia level will make life very difficult, not just for us here in Armenia but also for Azerbaijan and Turkey.

It is in the context of these existential security issues that we must view the recent Turkish proposal for a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.

The idea of such a pact was floated already in 1999. The concept found favor because there were fresh memories of the use of force in our region, and the urgency of security arrangements was evident. Opposition to Russian interests was not yet deep and there were no tensions through proxies. But even during such a honeymoon, the idea didn't become reality.

Today, force has been used again, and perhaps for that reason, the idea has resurfaced. But today, with the threat of a renewed Cold-War mentality, divisive lines may be drawn through these mountains and all regional relations will become unimaginably complicated. That is, where there still are relations.

Turkey's proposal is therefore interesting and the urgency is not lost on anyone. But the concept must be developed right and implemented well. But we've been down this road before in this part of the world, where good intentions were sidetracked by the very political problems they were meant to resolve.

The Black Sea Economic Cooperation pact, for example, was created precisely for the purpose of bringing together those who otherwise shared no common forum for economic cooperation and the resolution of problems. But it's effectiveness has been limited because Turkey lacked the commitment to use the forum as a way to relate with a country like Armenia, with whom its borders are closed.

The proposal today, in this new tense environment, must be more serious and sustained. It must marginalize no one. Security issues are intertwined, and they ought to be addressed in a stability pact with a comprehensive, strong security component.

During his visit to Baku last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Turkish plan and publicly made reference to Armenia's inclusion. It is also a fortuitous coincidence that President Abdullah Gul of Turkey has been invited by President Serzh Sargsian of Armenia to watch the Turkey-Armenia FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Sept. 6 together.

This offers an opportunity for these two neighbors to discuss common security challenges and pave the way for a region of peace.

Vartan Oskanian was foreign minister of Armenia from 1998 to April 2008. He is the founder of the Civilitas Foundation in Yerevan, which addresses foreign policy, democracy and development issues in the Caucasus.

Obama's Vp Pick May Not Be Disaster After All
US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's decision to pick Senator Joe Biden as his running mate is likely to increase the chances of a US policy shift on Armenian claims of genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire, but does not necessarily mean trouble for Turkey-US relations as a whole, analysts have said.

Obama's selection of Biden as a running mate alarmed Turkish newspapers. Many dailies recalled an unpleasant meeting between Biden and late Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit in 1999, in which Biden told Ecevit, in what some saw as a rather impolite manner, that he would work to block US aid to Turkey if Ecevit's government did not compromise on its Cyprus policy. The 65-year-old senator is also known to be close to Greek and Armenian lobbies and to support Armenian claims that 1.5 million Armenians were subjected to genocide in eastern Anatolia during the World War I era.

But much depends on who will be the new foreign minister in the event that Obama is elected as president, said Bülent Aliriza, director of Turkey studies at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Whether Biden will be a powerful vice president like incumbent Dick Cheney also depends on whether Obama would like to see a strong man as his vice president or not, as Biden's powers in foreign policy will be limited to how much power Obama would like him to have, said Aliriza. Obama will probably not let Biden become a "new Cheney," said Sanli Bahadir Koç, an expert on US ties at the Ankara-based Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM). "Biden may be an important part of the decision-making mechanism in foreign policy, but it may not be wise to expect Biden to control the entire foreign policy-making process."

In comments reported by the Anatolia news agency, Aliriza also played down concerns on the Armenian issue, saying Biden did support Armenian efforts when they came up, but that he has had no leadership role in bids to win recognition from the US Congress or the administration to the Armenian claims of genocide. What may bother Turkey more, he said, is Biden's pro-Greek and pro-Greek Cypriot stance on Cyprus and his earlier calls for division of Iraq into Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions to defuse tensions in the war-torn country. The disintegration of Iraq is an anathema for Turkey, which fears such a division could trigger tension and conflicts across the entire Middle East.

Other analysts are even more optimistic that some of Biden's views on Turkey could change in time, something that happens quite often in the world of politics. "We tend to analyze what could happen in the future on the basis of past policies of the US and Turkey. But both the United States and Turkey are changing, and so will Biden," said Mensur Akgün of Istanbul's Kültür University.

Time risk
But there is the risk that there may not be enough time for Obama, who has also pledged to support Armenian claims if elected as president, and Biden to adjust their stance before April 24, marking the anniversary of what Armenians claim was the beginning of the genocide campaign. US presidents have for many years been under pressure from the Armenian lobby in Washington to recognize the alleged genocide in their traditional April 24 message but, heeding concerns that such a move could deal a big blow to ties with NATO ally Turkey, they have never referred to the World War I events as genocide.

If elected, Obama will take office as president in January and will have to deal with the issue soon after coming into the office, in April. "All presidential candidates talk during their election campaigns, but then go through a training period of six months to one year as president. If Obama is elected, April 24 will come before this training period," according to Professor Mustafa Aydin, head of the International Relations Department at Istanbul's TOBB University.

Given the pro-Armenian stances of Biden and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 2009 appears likely to be a very dangerous year for Turkish-US in ties with the United States, Aydin said.
28 August 2008, Today's Zaman Istanbul

Organized Crime Nation By Dave Eriqat, 20 August, 2008, Countercurrents.org
A Typical Day At The Compound
[Scene: Four capos are sitting around a conference table plotting strategy.]

Bennie “Bucks”, hands clasped as if praying: Should I start the “helicopter” now, Henry?

Henry “Bazooka”, calmly and authoritatively lighting a cigar: Not yet, not yet. Let’s see if we can trick the Chinese or the Arabs into buying some more Treasury bonds first. If not, then you can crank up the helicopter.

Georgie “The Brain”, looking up from his doodling on a piece of paper: Hey, I’ve got an idea. If the Chinese want a piece of the action in Iraqi oil, why not demand that they buy some more bonds?

Henry “Bazooka”: Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too.

Dicky “Shotgun”: Yeah, and if they don’t want to play ball, we’ll just take the gloves off! By the way, when are we going to hit Iran?

Georgie “The Brain”: Christ, Dicky, can’t you think of anything else? I’ve got my legacy to think about and our guys are going to get slaughtered in the election as it is.

Dicky “Shotgun”, leaning forward and slapping his palms on the table: So what? Who gives a fuck what the voters think? Just cancel the damned election – you have unitary power – and let’s get on with taking down Tehran!

Henry “Bazooka”: That might not be such a great idea for the economy. We’ve pretty much got everybody where we want them right now. All those morons that trade with us bet the farm on our economy, so now they have to bail us out or go down with our ship. If we attack yet another country they might decide to swallow their losses and let us sink. We pulled out all the stops to pound down oil and commodity prices and pump up the dollar and the stock market in time for the election. Let’s not throw away all that effort by causing oil to shoot through the roof. [Chuckling and raising his cigar to his lips.] Besides, maybe the Israelis will make the first move against Iran anyway.

Bennie “Bucks”, timidly raising a finger: We do have a problem, though. We’re running out of Treasuries to trade for worthless securities. Sooner or later we’re going to have to start up the printing presses.

Henry “Bazooka”, leaning back and slowly exhaling a perfectly circular smoke ring: I’ve got that covered. The SEC isn’t going to look too closely at the books anymore, so companies can hide their worthless junk in the level three category and doll up their quarterly financials. We’ve got our banker pals protected from naked shorting, so their stock ought to hold up pretty well without any more intervention on our side. And Georgie here just signed the housing bailout bill, so we have unlimited Treasury funds now to use for anything we want. Congress isn’t going to look very closely at what we do with that money. So just be patient, Bennie.

Georgie “The Brain”: That reminds me, Bennie. The missus wants to build a second guest house down at the ranch. After all I’ve done for the bankers, you think they can get us a good “loan”?

Bennie “Bucks”: I’ll make some calls …

Dicky “Shotgun”, impatiently interrupting: Well, if we can’t go to Tehran, can we at least stir up a little trouble for the Russians in Georgia?

Georgie “The Brain”: Go for it! I never liked that pecker, Putin, anyway. Hee, hee. Pecker Putin, Pecker Putin. Hey, that’s funny! I crack myself up! Pecker Putin! Thinks he’s so tough because he knows karate. Big deal! I know how to do stuff …

Henry “Bazooka”: Georgie, please! Give it a rest! Dicky, I don’t see a problem with that. Just don’t let it get out of control like you almost did with those nukes from North Dakota last summer. Jesus! What the hell were you thinking?

Dicky “Shotgun”: Excellent! Hey, Henry, you got any more of those cigars?

Henry “Bazooka”, pulling a cigar out of his pocket and sliding it across the table to Dicky: What’s the matter? Can’t you afford them?

[All four capos burst into gut-splitting guffaws.]

Organized Crime Nation
Recently I’ve commented to several people and in several forums that I feel like I’m living in a town run by an organized crime family. There are no laws or rules other than what the crime family bosses say there are. And if the existing rules prove inconvenient for the bosses, they simply ignore them until they get around to changing them. Meanwhile, the rest of us struggle to keep abreast of the latest rules, ever afraid of displeasing these bosses, even if unwittingly.

Americans seem to harbor a romantic but naive fondness for gangsters. Consider one of this nation’s most cherished movies, The Godfather. While it’s a great movie, it glorifies violence and criminality, albeit with a touch of class and honor. The pervasive message in this movie is, if you have a disagreement with someone or find yourself competing against them in business, the solution is to just kill them. Or take the popular television show, The Sopranos, which portrays the same mentality.

I’ve got news for Americans, we’re living the fictions portrayed in those films! And the real life gangsters aren’t low class thugs, but are the captains of business and politics, the elites.

Three Class Society
I used to think of the U.S. as having a two class society comprised of elites and masses, but I now believe there’s a third class, which I call the enlightened: a significant number of people who understand how the system truly works, who are repulsed by it, but who really don’t know what to do about it. Some, like me, write about it as an outlet for their frustration; others start political foundations to explore alternative systems; many throw up their hands in despair and leave the country.

By “class” I’m not employing the traditional meaning of socioeconomic class, but rather I refer to ideological or psychological class.

The Elites (“The Bad”)
A tiny percentage of the population comprises the elite class. This class is not defined by breeding, culture, character, education or wealth, although its members are never poor. It’s virtually impossible to be a member of this class and fail to become rich. One can be a complete nincompoop, but as long as they are a member of this class they will be rich. Nevertheless, its members belong to this class not by virtue of their wealth but by virtue of their insider status. These are people have extensive connections to other insiders and they are willing to get their hands dirty and take maximum advantage of the system without regard to scruples, principles, justice, honor, integrity or the harm they cause to other people or the nation. The power and wealth of individuals within this group spans a broad spectrum. There is little to no distinction between government or private sector members of this class, and they seamlessly wend their way back and forth between the two sectors. There is no distinction between nationalities either; citizens of any nation are free to participate in the system, so long as they possess the proper elite credentials. Members of the elite class travel freely across national borders and own houses, businesses and assets in many different countries. Should one country’s laws prove inconvenient, members of the elite class can find safe haven in a more accommodating country until their lawyers can arrange for the purchase of the mitigating indulgences.

Did you know that the presumed Republican candidate for President and his wife are reputedly worth $200 million? I had no idea, but it seems par for the course for our “representatives” today. A former president and his wife, who began their political career possessing rather humble means, are now worth at least $100 million. It’s interesting how money seems to be gravitationally attracted to those in politics. According to this article in American Free Press:

IF YOU STILL DOUBT that the big media is determined to keep under wraps the organized crime origins of the $200 million fortune of John McCain and his wife Cindy, take note of how the prestigious Washington Post touched on the issue in its July 22 edition. Rather, instead, note how the Post covered up the matter.

Notice how the article emphasizes the reputed connection between the candidate and organized crime, as if there is really any difference between organized crime and politics today.

The Masses (“The Ugly”)
The vast majority of the population (90% or more) occupies the class I call the masses. The wealth of these people also varies widely, encompassing everyone from the abjectly poor and homeless through the very wealthy. The primary distinguishing characteristic of the masses is that they are utterly disenfranchised from the levers of power. They may own modest sized businesses, be quite wealthy, serve on legislatures, be celebrities, be political activists, make campaign contributions, vote diligently, make a lot of noise, but they are still utterly disenfranchised and none of them are even aware of that fact. This ignorance of their impotent status is an essential determinant of their membership in this class known as the masses; were they not ignorant, they might be members of the enlightened class. The masses continue to play the rigged “game,” retaining faith in the “system,” at most acknowledging that it’s not perfect, but believing that perhaps with a little effort and the right leadership it can be “fixed.”

The Enlightened (“The Good”)
Finally there is the third class I mentioned, the enlightened, who see clearly how the system works but are essentially powerless to change it. These people are significant in number in absolute terms, but represent a tiny minority in relative terms. These people, too, span a wide socioeconomic spectrum, although it’s nearly impossible for someone to be wealthy and enlightened at the same time. Along the path to riches people face a repetitive dilemma: to maintain their integrity and principles or sacrifice them “just a little bit” for gain. By the time they find their pot of gold, their integrity and principles are so compromised that the people have likely become full fledged members of the elite class. I’m sure there are exceptions, people who do manage to become rich while maintaining every ounce of their integrity and principles, but such people would be truly exceptional.

While some enlightened people see a narrow but incisive slice of the corruption, others, such as me, see a broad but shallow panorama. Nobody can see the entire picture of corruption that permeates the system, but my belief is that it is total: every legislative process, regulatory apparatus, law enforcement agency, procurement process and election is compromised today.

Despite my jaded attitude, I’m surprised almost daily by new revelations. For example, earlier today I read an article by former U.S. Marine, Scott Ritter, describing how he believed his life was threatened by the U.S. Government itself when he sought to investigate WMDs in Iraq. A little later today I read an article by the awe-inspiring Catherine Austin Fitts that revealed breathtaking criminality within the government in her discussion of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which President Bush just signed into law. To quote one shocking paragraph from her article:

After I began researching HUD fraud in the late 1990s, I would be contacted by people with experience with HUD fraud. They insisted that the same home was being used to create ten or more mortgages that were placed into different pools. They alleged that Chase as the lead HUD servicer and the other big banks were implementing such systems. This was why we would see the same house default two, three, or four times in a year, they claimed. FHA mortgages had to be churned through multiple defaults to generate the cash to keep all these fraudulent pools afloat. This, they insisted, was all going to finance various secret government operations and private agendas. [My emphasis]

By the way, I can’t recommend highly enough Ms. Fitts’ epic Dillon Read & the Aristocracy of Stock Profits for an insight into the sheer criminality that pervades our system. Another must-read is the aptly named article, The Nearly Unfathomable Depths Of Pentagon Corruption, a lengthy, two-part exposé that left even me stupefied. It is incisive stories like these that enrich my understanding of how pervasive and deep the decay and corruption is in our system.

The elites obviously participate in this corrupt system because they’re making staggering fortunes. Naturally, they want to keep the system going as long as possible, but they are so consumed by greed that they don’t understand the need for balance, for sharing the wealth. It’s this unmitigated greed that’s creating the socially destabilizing inequity we see brewing today. How much of an advantage do these elites enjoy? Consider this just-released report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which says that between 1998 and 2005 over 60% of the approximately 1.3 million U.S. Controlled Corporations (USCCs) reported no tax liability. As we all know, corporations are the playthings of the elites. Do average citizens get a similar pass when it comes to paying taxes? Just ask Ed and Elaine Brown of New Hampshire. It must be sweet to be one of the elite: deferred prosecution, guaranteed markets, government protected monopolies, and no income taxes.

The masses have no choice but to participate in this corrupt system. The elites own the hamster cage, the masses live in the hamster cage, and they’d better run on that wheel if they want access to food, water, energy, money, jobs, health care, education, information, entertainment, or even to disseminate their own ideas through publishing. Only the Internet is outside of the control of the elites, which is precisely why they are trying so desperately to control it. The Internet is the most powerful and egalitarian tool for the dissemination of information ever devised.

The Internet must not be allowed to be destroyed. If we do nothing else to improve our condition, we must protect this sanctuary of enlightenment.

Members of the enlightened class that remain in this country have little choice but to participate in this corrupt system as well. There are signs, however, of people seeking a way out of the system. Some people live “off the grid.” Some, like me, have deliberately sought to distance themselves from the system as much as possible, by ceasing the pointless practice of voting, reducing their dependence on a high income, minimizing entangling alliances with corporations, producing their own food and energy, relying on bartering, living in locales that afford them physical separation from the “system.” Some people have recognized that since our system revolves around money the best way to withdraw support from the system is to stop feeding it money. The enlightened would surely like to have a greater impact than they are having, but there is a huge obstacle: the elites are simply too powerful. They have worked assiduously for decades, perhaps more than a century, to build this system from which they now enjoy unfathomable profits. (Hedge fund managers have been known to “earn” a billion dollar salary in a single year!) This system is fully legitimized by a staggering number of laws, each having at least one cash-dripping lobbyist to defend it, making it next to impossible to “reform” the system. Of course, that’s by design. Still, the enlightened have begun to climb out of the hamster cage and create an alternative existence, hoping to set an example for the masses that they will follow, but they are not yet following.

The only way the enlightened class can hope to overcome the legitimacy and financial and military power the elites now control is through force of numbers, but there simply aren’t enough enlightened people to mount such a challenge. They need the support of the masses, whose number is immense, but the problem is how to get through to those masses.

So many people among the masses have been so thoroughly brainwashed into believing that their government is not only legitimate but pristine, and that they must always be subservient to the authority of government, that it is next to impossible to convince them to join the enlightened. (Even after everything that’s been revealed, even as the economy goes down the drain, the President enjoys the support of something like 25% of the populace!) From time to time I have fancied attempting to enlighten a family member about just one vein of criminality slicing through our system, only to realize that such a task would involve several hours of persuasion, not to mention several hours of research beforehand in order to assemble a body of convincing evidence. This daunting effort is required to enlighten a single person about a single problem. (Over the years I have had to read dozens of books and literally tens of thousands of articles to acquire the limited understanding I now possess.) It’s beyond impractical to try to convince large numbers of people that the system is a criminal enterprise through and through, especially if they don’t want to know about this stuff anyway. In any case, such efforts are pointless because enlightenment cannot be given to people; they have to seek it out and discover it for themselves. All we can do is point them in the right direction, and only when they are ready.

I’ve always loved my nation, and I’ve come to my conclusions about the system in place today slowly and reluctantly. My beliefs do not ensue from a predisposition to “hate America.” Nevertheless, were I to try and enlighten some of these people about the true nature of our system, I have little doubt that I’d be dismissed as a kook at best, and at worst I’d be accused of being “unpatriotic.”

In any case, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to educate the clueless masses about this sorry state of affairs and the myriad people responsible for it. Even if they were receptive to being made aware of this knowledge, it would take months to give them an adequate introduction to the problems and convince them to take meaningful, constructive action toward solving them. It seems like the only practical route for the masses to achieve enlightenment is painful first hand experience, after which the masses will finally begin to see the truth about the world they live in, provided they mange to see through the elites’ misdirection. Unfortunately, such poverty and oppression is the stuff of which revolutions are made. It would be nice if we could enlighten the masses and start truly reforming the system and bypass revolution.

Countries that export goods to the U.S. are complicit in supporting this system as well, needing to maintain the volume of exports to the U.S. in order to maintain social order in their own nations. Consequently, they’re caught in a sort of Catch-22: the longer they associate with the U.S., the more corrupt their own system becomes; yet to withdraw from the U.S. would result in more immediate turmoil and hardship in their own countries. Some of these countries are in a second Catch-22 with respect to financial issues: thanks to the one-sided export relationship they have with the U.S. in which they sell real goods in exchange for electronic digits called dollars, they have now accumulated vast quantities of dollar-denominated financial instruments that will surely decrease substantially in value over time; yet if they try to sell these financial instruments they will decrease in value even faster. My suspicion is that these trading partners recognize that they are in such a Catch-22 with regard to these financial issues, so they have established numerous sovereign wealth funds to quietly unload these financial instruments, but that approach has so far not been terribly successful at profitably shedding their massive accumulation of dollar reserves. However they are still looking for opportunities to unload their dollars and sooner or later they will probably discover a successful avenue. If the holders of vast quantities of dollars discover a painless way to get rid of them, the game may well end abruptly and the whole house of cards that shields the corrupt U.S. system from scrutiny may come tumbling down, because the U.S. will no longer be able to sell its debt to anyone. It will have to resort to “printing” money and likely end up like Zimbabwe, which last I heard, had 2,000,000% annual inflation.

I offered the following speculation in my own essay titled What Would It Look Like If Civilization Had A Nervous Breakdown?:

There is, however, a new variable in the house price equation that didn’t exist until recently: foreign buyers. The globe is awash in trillions of U.S. dollars that the U.S. manufactured to satisfy its hungry appetite for imported goods. If the U.S. dollar continues to decline sharply in value, as it’s been doing for years, those foreign holders of dollars may seek to spend them before they lose any more value. What better place to spend U.S. dollars than in their country of origin, on residential, commercial, and even agricultural real estate, on infrastructure, and on what remains of our industrial base.

Well, according to this recent article, sovereign wealth funds are seeking to do just what I speculated:

One sovereign fund, said to have earmarked $29 billion to purchase foreclosed residential real estate, recently hired a West Coast mortgage broker and is starting to search for bargains.

While Americans are no longer be able to afford homes in this country, foreign buyers are coming in, buying those homes, and keeping their prices elevated, thus keeping the game going when what’s really needed is a massive downward correction, a purging of excess. I won’t be surprised if cash-strapped U.S. states start selling off public assets to holders of vast quantities of dollars, making foreign countries the proud new owners of our formerly public assets, such as highways, bridges, water and energy infrastructure, and maybe even public parks. I hope the postage to mail payment for my electricity bill to China isn’t too much.

A Levitating Leviathan
Although it’s difficult to prove because secrecy is endemic in the government, there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that the government, in collusion with key insider companies, routinely manipulates pretty much all the financial markets: currencies, bonds, commodities, precious metals, stocks, and now even housing.

The government has more than once expressed interest in preventing house prices from falling. While counterintuitive to us lowly citizens who cannot afford today’s house prices, it does make sense to lenders, who are on the hook for the inflated prices, to keep house prices elevated rather than suffer losses. Physical housing is also the cornerstone of an elaborate house of cards of derivative financial instruments. If house prices decline, then a derivative house of cards many times the size of the physical housing market suffers huge losses.

How does the government manipulate house prices? By maintaining artificially low, effectively negative interest rates, for one. The Federal Reserve sets the federal funds target rate, which affects short term interest rates for such things as home equity loans, which are now all but dead. By manipulating long term bond prices upward, long term mortgage interest rates can be driven downward. In addition, for at least the last year the government has been bailing out the banking industry with hundreds of billions of dollars in “loans” and “liquidity injections.” These bailouts are an indirect form of house price manipulation because when the government keeps the banks afloat and effectively absorbs their losses, the banks can keep on lending without regard to risk, which helps maintain higher house prices. In addition, the maximum loan value that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which together own more than 50% of all mortgages in America – can purchase was recently increased substantially, offloading one more element of risk – big loans – from the banks to the government, thus helping to maintain higher house prices. Were the banks instead forced to suffer the consequences of their profligacy, lending would shut down and house prices would plummet (even faster than they are already plummeting). While such a scenario would produce financial carnage, it would be over with swiftly and at the end of it all houses would be far more affordable. Finally, as Ms. Fitts points out, the manipulation of the housing market has now become overt and legitimized in the new Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

Whether by design or happenstance the U.S. Government is in a unique position internationally to manufacture money at will simply by typing numbers into a computer, and players continue to play along, in part, because of forced complicity. No other country in the world enjoys this monetary luxury.

As already noted, countries presently hold trillions of U.S. dollars. Were they to cease accepting dollars in exchange for their goods, the value of their existing dollars would plummet, costing them hundreds of billions of dollars. In addition, in order to maintain favorable exchange rates between their currencies and the dollar and thus keep their export machines humming, many countries are forced to debase their own currencies, which artificially elevates the value of the dollar relative to other currencies. Thanks to long standing agreement, most oil sold on the planet is priced in dollars, and many other goods sold internationally are priced in dollars. These trade practices create artificial demand for dollars, thus elevating their value. While the dollar is no longer backed by gold, it is in a sense “backed” by oil, as well as military muscle. It has been noted by many that Iraq was attacked not long after it ceased selling its oil for dollars. I believe that might well have been one of several reasons why Iraq was attacked, especially since immediately after the U.S. occupied Iraq its oil was again being sold for dollars.

So government-led manipulation, subtle extortion and even military force are used to keep the system levitated. Without such active intervention, the system would probably disintegrate rapidly.

What Went Wrong
The founders of this nation sought to create a decentralized federation of states, primarily to maximize individual freedom and self governance and minimize the likelihood of tyranny developing. Such decentralization also had the advantage of thwarting large scale corruption.

However, from the earliest days of this nation’s history, at least as far back as Abraham Lincoln, our “leaders” have often been hostile to the Constitution, finding it too constraining, utterly missing the point that “constraint” was the primary goal of the Constitution. Slowly but surely, the federal government eviscerated the Constitution, one article and amendment at a time, so slowly that hardly anybody noticed or uttered a peep of objection. Today we have a leviathan of a central government that has usurped powers far outside those authorized by the Constitution. As a result, it has become a veritable one stop shop for people seeking to corrupt the system; no longer do such people need to negotiate corrupt deals with fifty separate state governments. Even the manner of corruption has become sanitized and legitimized: it’s called campaign contributions. If one wants to corrupt the system today all they have to do is make some well placed, juicy campaign contributions and, voilá, a new law is crafted specifically to benefit the donor, all nice and legal. To paraphrase Ms. Fitts’ Dillon Read web site, modern business operates on the maxim of, “buy a lawmaker, make a law, make a business.” Nevertheless, there is still plenty of “old school” sleazy corruption and illegality as well.

How Much Longer
One question I frequently ask myself is, “How much longer can this all continue?” How much longer can the government continue to manipulate the price of everything? How much longer will exporters continue to play along and accept our dollars for their real goods? How much longer will the masses remain sequestered in a state of self-imposed blissful ignorance? How much longer can businesses in the U.S. continue to hide their losses? How much longer can the government keep monetizing everything with impunity? How much longer can this country keep exporting its wealth-creating jobs and industries without acknowledging the repercussions?

Frankly, I’m awed by the acumen with which the elites have been able to keep the game going thus far. I expected to see starker signs of disintegration long before now, but even now things seem to be moving in slow motion.

Psychological Toll
When I was a kid, values like integrity, honor and trustworthiness were lauded. I actually believed in those values as a kid and still do today. I can still recite from memory the Boy Scout Oath and the Scout Law. To our leaders, however, those values are duplicitous marketing slogans that are mocked in private. I can picture our leaders having a hearty chuckle in private at the foolish masses who believe in slogans like “freedom” and “democracy,” while they pat themselves on the back for their staggering personal windfalls derived from propping up friendly dictators and killing millions of innocent people.

While I joke about the state of affairs under which we live, it has taken a profound psychological toll on me. Knowing that I live in a system of organized crime has crushed my spirit and extinguished what minuscule ambition I once possessed. I see little point in planning for or working toward any sort of future knowing that the system can capriciously turn against me at any moment. I’m no longer willing to play the rigged game as a “serf” or compromise myself to achieve “success.” To preserve my sanity I’ve felt compelled to “check out” of the system and content myself with mere existence, as a “useless eater” and “useless drinker.” But if it helps my case any with the elites who supposedly want to exterminate all the useless eaters, I eat like a bird these days because I’m dieting.

The Creeping Caucasus Catastrophe, Thomas Goltz, Special To The Pulitzer Center, August 23, 2008
Tbilisi, Georgia
(Thomas Goltz is an adjunct professor of Political Science at Montana State University, Bozeman, and author among other books of Georgia Diary: A Chronicle of Political Chaos and War in the Post-Soviet Caucasus, M.E. Sharpe, 2006)

Russian troops and tanks may have at least partially completed their pull-out from territory seized during its August 8 blitz of this tiny post-Soviet country, but that should be little reason to celebrate, as the real (if creeping) catastrophe has just begun.

In addition to humiliating the Georgian army and reducing any Georgian military installations to rubble, the Russian blitz has humiliated the EU, the US and NATO by exposing just how little 'friends of Georgia' could do in the country's hour of need. Even after Russia announced that it regards itself in compliance with all points of the emergency cease-fire plan negotiated by France, Russian troops continue to occupy numerous locations in western Georgia, and are in the process of setting up a self-declared 'security zone' well outside the legally defined geographic limits of the two contested 'autonomous' areas of Georgia. Moscow keeps one hand on Georgia's economic throat, the other a mail-fist ready to smash this proud, ancient nation of poets and artists.

At the last checkpoint outside the hub-city of Gori yesterday, scores – nay, hundreds -- of Russian tanks and Armored Personal Carriers poured out of feeder roads and fields as part of the well-ordered pull-back, but there was absolutely no sense that the Kremlin was bending to any outside pressure in doing so. Rather, the sense was that the Russian military was flaunting its success, quite content with allowing a damaged Georgia to understand the enormity of the disaster which had just washed over it, tacitly encouraging a spirit of revolt to fester against the government of the young, brash Mikheil Saakashvili, whom many have incorrectly blamed for igniting the conflict in the first place.

The list of projected problems directly associated with the disaster is truly ominous. According to European Union experts, the country suffered some $1 billion in direct infrastructural losses, and will lose a projected $1 billion more in direct foreign investment over the next year or so, as foreign capital shies away or decides to cut losses and walk away—and just when Georgia, with a population of about five million, seemed to have turned the economic corner and was starting to look and feel like a prosperous place.

Consider the fate of Karl Griffin, an old friend of mine who has been running the Caucasus Construction LTD firm in Tbilisi for the past two and a half years. "We had contracts worth $7.5 million, were employing 152 workers, and looking to grow," said Karl. "But now the government has frozen our accounts and we cannot even pay our Value Added Tax. I paid my workers during the week of war because most are reservists who got called up. But now I have been forced to serve them all notice that at the end of the month, they are all officially unemployed."

Karl's situation, repeated across the country, will result in knots of sullen, unemployed men gathering along road-sides from Tbilisi to Batumi, joining the estimated 120,000 displaced citizens as the lush and productive Georgian countryside turns from green to grey with the coming of winter.

"We are looking at a creeping catastrophe," said Peter Semneby, EU ambassador to the three Caucasus countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. "The only silver linings I can see are the level of international political support expressed to Georgia as a result of this crisis, as well as the strange fact that it seems to have shocked Armenia and Azerbaijan into more serious dialogue to resolve their long standing problems."

This may turn out to be mere wishful thinking, although both Armenia and Azerbaijan sent railway construction crews to work side by side with their Georgia counterparts to help repair a critical bridge blown by the Russians.

The first concern to come to mind is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline linking Azerbaijani oil and gas fields to an eastern Mediterranean terminal in Turkey. The BP-run line was shut some weeks before the conflict, due to Kurdish sabotage in Turkey that does not seem to be connected to the brief Georgian-Russian war, and will no doubt come back on line in the near future. But the idea of building other lines through a country that might get bombed again will be met with extreme caution by hydrocarbon producers. Azerbaijan has now started to export its crude via a smaller gauge line that passes through Russia, even though the $4 billion B-T-C pipeline was specifically built to bypass Russia. And longtime observers in the region can now only chuckle at the idea of rapid completion of a new railway line, the Kars-Tbilisi-Baku (KTB) initiated with such fanfare in the Turkish city of Kars on July 14 of this year. This so-called 'Steel Silk Road' project was to spur trade from Central Asia all the way to Europe upon completion in 2014. Azerbaijan had advanced credits to Georgia to pay for its portion of the line, but will soon be looking at a credit crunch itself until the B-T-C pipeline (and another cross-Georgia line that ends at the Black Sea terminal of Supsa) come back on-line.

So why or how did Georgia find itself in this mess that is now impacting the entire South Caucasus and even the greater world beyond?

There is sufficient evidence to suggest that Saakashvili was warned by the United States and others that Russia was planning a provocation that would result in destruction of infrastructure and eventual social cohesion and stability if Georgia rose to the bait.

"We had to do it," he told me, when I was summoned to a meeting in the presidential apparatus at around 3 AM Friday morning, referring to the initial Georgian resistance to the mass of Russian armor that poured into northern Georgia like a steel tsunami on the early morning of August 8th, when the fiction that Georgia was merely over-reacting to South Ossetian militiamen had been lifted. That fiction had begun with skirmishing on the 7th, with said 'militia' forces employing types of weaponry theoretically not allowed in the 'Peace Keeping zone,' and using Russian 'Peace Keepers' there as sort of willing (military) human shields. Willing, that is, until some ten were killed. After this 'outrage,' the propaganda campaign on both sides went into high gear. My friend and former war-correspondent colleague Lawrence Sheets, now the senior analyst for the Brussels' based International Crisis Group, has been working on an exact time-line of who did what to whom, and when, as are numerous other experts from all sides.

While a certain amount of fuzziness exists, the main point is that Georgian forces inside the South Ossetian region were responding to provocations against the Georgian civilian population living there, provocations that continued to grow in force, leading Saakashvili to call for the first unilateral cease fire on the evening of the 7th. And then 'violate' it when fighting continued with reports of Cossacks entering South Ossetia—meaning northern Georgia--from Russia proper. By dawn of August 8th, there was clear evidence that a well-prepared 58th Russian Army itself was entering the fray from Russia, and the decision was taken in Tbilisi to bomb bridges and close the main road north of Tskhinvali. Satellite photographs now provided by a UN body called UN0SAT clearly show that the main destruction caused by Georgian firing in the vicinity of Tskhinvali is not in the city itself (although there is some there) but on the road leading to the Roki tunnel that the Russian army would use.

By mid-morning of the 8th, Russian planes were bombing not only Georgian positions in and around Tskhinvali, but other 'targets of opportunity' around the main Georgian military base at Senaki, and eventually hitting radar installations in Poti and outside Tbilisi while their tanks pushed the out-gunned Georgian forces out of South Ossetia towards the city of Gori. The Russian rationale for the invasion was by that time being expressed by the the claim that some 2,000 'Russian citizens' (Ossetians who had been given Russian traveling documents over the past few years) had been killed during the first 24 hours of the conflict in an act of 'ethnic cleansing' and even 'genocide' mounted by marauding Georgians. The bodies of these alleged victims of Georgian atrocities have yet to be displayed; the morgue in the regional capital of Tskhinvali confirmed that it had only processed some 44 corpses for burial during the same period. It soon became clear that this was nothing more than a well-constructed pretext for Russia to project strength and seize territory, and possibly topple the obsessively pro-western Saakashivili government and forever dash Georgian hopes of becoming a member of NATO (and possibly the European Union as well).

But Saakashvili decided that even if he ducked and dodged on August 8th, there would be another provocation, and then another, and that the only thing to do was make a stand, allow the conflict to escalate, and then hope for some sort of international intervention. Brinksmanship, in a word, in true Caucasian style. Saakashvili's popularity ratings—which some say had dipped down to 14% recently—has allegedly seen a surge by approving Georgian men, because they feel like men again.

The reader will note that I have a reluctance to use the term 'South Ossetia' as the place the conflict began.. The reason for this is that it is my contention that using this somewhat exotic term only serves to confuse the root nature of the conflict, and that it might be more accurate (or at least informative) to describe the conflict area as being 'northern Georgia,' Pure and simple. While it is true that the area enjoyed the status of being an 'autonomous district' of Georgia during Soviet times, theoretically serving as a sort of national homeland for Georgians citizens of Ossetian ethnicity, in reality the population of some 60,000 that lived in the region as defined on maps was in fact not exclusively Osset, but about half ethnic Georgian, and it was these citizens who Saakashvili had to protect. (Indeed, of the total population of Ossetian citizens living in all of Georgia, who number around 100,000, only half lived inside the 'autonomy,' with the rest scattered around the rest of the country.)

So what was the root cause of the invasion? In addition to the standard (and true) canard about 'Resurgent Russia Under Vladimir Putin' , the conflict can be traced back to the time leading to the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, when there (briefly) existed a rabidly nationalist and anti-Soviet regime in Tbilisi that declared its policy as one of 'Georgia for the Georgians.' As part of this policy, the regime made efforts to dissolve the special status of the autonomous district, resulting in a brief, bitter war of secession that effectively detached about a third of the territory from the control of the central government. But another third remained under de-facto Georgian control; the remaining third of the region was more or less uninhabited. The 'Ossetian' third sought and received protection from Russia, and soon devolved into a 'black hole' criminal state famous throughout the region for smuggling and contraband activities that enriched the elite but left average citizens increasingly impoverished. Tension ebbed and flowed over the intervening years, even as the Georgian state under Saakashvili endeavored to share much of the increased prosperity it has seen in recent years in an effort to re-integrate the area into the national whole. At the same time, the Ossetian third of the South Ossetian region, along with a second breakaway region on the Black Sea known as the 'autonomous republic of Abkhazia' , served as a Trojan Horse for Russian efforts to destabilize Georgia, cripple its economy and permanently put paid to Saakashvili's efforts to have his country accepted as a full member of NATO. The irony is that Russia apparently decided to invade following the NATO summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania in April of this year, when and where Georgia was denied the fast-track membership program known as the MAP, precisely because certain European members of the alliance—specifically, France and Germany—were concerned that including Georgia under the NATO umbrella of collective security (known as Article Five) might drag the entire alliance into conflict with resurgent Russia.

In the event, the fighting was fast and furious and over almost as soon as it began, with Russian forces dispatching the newly trained Georgian forces with unsurprising ease. The most interesting aspect of this was the relative discipline shown on both sides. The Georgian forces actually obeyed when instructed to affect a unilateral cease-fire and save themselves from annihilation; even the hot-headed and revenge-code driven local population also refrained from tossing grenades at Russian soldiers taunting them from multiple road-blocks, even while Russian irregulars indulged in a good bit of looting of Georgian villages and small cities such as Gori. Once they received their orders to pull back, the Russians, too, evinced a discipline nowhere evident the last time I saw them in action, in Chechnya in 1999. (Although it should be noted that the pull-back is far from complete). The level of casualties, too, has been surprisingly low, and appears to number in the several hundreds and mainly consist of self-sacrificing Georgia soldiers in the early days of the conflict, and is certainly nowhere near the 'thousands' of Ossetia citizens announced by Russia.

But it may not be over yet. The most disturbing news I have received since the guns fell silent is that Russia may still be attempting to force renewed violence by means of truly devious provocations, such as false-flag 'volunteers' to the Georgian cause, getting Georgia to accept mercenary muscle in the form of Blackwater-like 'private security companies,' and then exposing this in a propaganda coup

"The last thing Georgia needs at this moment are guys with guns wandering around the countryside outside of the direct control of the central government," said Patrick Worms, a PR media affairs consultant to the government of Georgia, Worms also noted that the arrival in Tbilisi of a group of some 80 Estonian humanitarian relief specialists nearly resulted in a diplomatic rupture between the tiny Baltic state and behemoth Russia, raising deep concern that Russia might use the ' pretext of 'savings its citizens' in another area on its long frontier.

Lastly, there is the question of where all this leads.

At this point, the west has few pressure points on Moscow. Weirdly, the best might be oil. If the west (and now China and India) could wean themselves of their hydrocarbon addiction and cause the collapse of Russia's main stream of income and control over much of western Europe, Russia's behavior might be modified.

Fat chance.

In the short term, Moscow has all the cards.

Get ready for a long, cold winter in Georgia, with social chaos around the corner.

Gül Now Has Another Reason To Go To Armenia, Barçin Yinanç, August 25, 2008
Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland were unable to attend the Turkey-Africa Cooperation Summit that took place last week in Istanbul. When journalists asked for the reason, they got an interesting answer. Apparently, they were attending another meeting in South Africa and were unable to manage to send a separate delegation to Turkey. “An inconvenience of being a tiny state,” you might say.

But listen to this: When the crisis erupted between Russia and Georgia, there was practically no one in the Caucasus department of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The head of the department was in Mousul for a temporary assignment. His deputy? He has had no deputy for the past six months. For reasons that remain a mystery, no appointment has been done to this post. Number three was in Nachcevan again for a temporary assignment. And since the remaining junior officials were off for vacation, the issue had to be dealt with even to the single little detail by the undersecretary, Apakan, and his deputy, Çeviköz. I am sure they were both grateful that there was no other immediate crisis to deal with.

This is the situation in a country you can hardly call “tiny.”

Turkey's changing position in the new cold war

When the crisis erupted, the general feeling in Turkey was that Georgia's unpredictable leader made a terrible mistake and that it would have been rather natural to expect a Russian reaction. In a few days, it became obvious that Russia's intentions were not limited to just encountering the Georgian assault.

Today those who are trying to analyze Russia, recall Vladimir Putin's speech in 2007 at the Munich Conference calling for new security architecture. Russia became increasingly uneasy about the existing security structure. But its discontent was mainly due to the fact that it could not get rid of the Cold War mentality. The United States, on the other hand, underestimated this fact and further antagonized Moscow by going ahead with the recognition of Kosovo, insisting on NATO's enlargement to Georgia and Ukraine and deployment of missile defense shield in Europe.

Now everyone is asking the same question: Are we going back to the Cold War?

The policy of Turkey alone is enough to demonstrate that even if we are, it will take place in a whole new setting.

Turkey has not only vetoed the decision of NATO to deploy surveillance planes in the region as a sign of solidarity with Georgia, it has also prevented a show of force by the United States, which tried to send its biggest hospital ship to the region, at the expense of violating the Montreux treaty. The fact that Turkey's proposal for a Caucasus pact has seen a positive reaction from the Russians while it displeased the Americans is another example that there is a whole new game.

“It is only natural that we have to maintain a delicate balance between our commitments to our NATO allies and our neighbor,” a senior Turkish official told me. “According to the figures of 2008, Russia is now are biggest trade partner. We can't ignore that,” he added.

Relations with Russia are however not the only criteria shaping Turkey's policy on the recent tension. The Turkish government genuinely believes that going to a collision course with Russia is not only against Turkey's interest but also against the interest of its Western allies. “A show of solidarity with Georgia through NATO's military means would have not help defuse the tension; to the contrary it would have aggravated the situation,” said a Turkish diplomat.

Stability pact and relations with Yerevan
The Turkish government believes that the ground for cooperation with Russia is slipping. This is the main motivation behind the proposal for a new mechanism among Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

This initiative sounds quite unrealistic at the beginning when the cease-fire between Russia and Georgia is still fragile, the frozen Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict has the potential of turning to a full-fledged war, and Turks and Armenians are not talking.

I am pretty sure that Turkish diplomacy will spend every effort and succeed to organize a meeting at least on the foreign ministerial level. But in the aftermath of the meeting it will be highly difficult to give a meaningful substance to the so-called Caucasus Stability Pact.

The merit, however, to this highly frustrating process could be the contribution it can make to the improvement of Turkish-Armenian ties. The Turkish side has been looking for ways of conveying the principles of its proposal to Armenia since it has no diplomatic relations with the latter. The football game between Armenia and Turkey to take place in Yerevan in September provides an excellent opportunity to discuss the matter at the highest level. In my opinion, it would be a mistake anyway to turn down the invitation of Armenian president to watch the game together. Now there is even one more reason to go to Yerevan.

Two Days With Joe Biden: Cassandra Joins Charisma, Dennis Redmont, August 25, 2008
Spending two days in Venice next to U.S. Senator Joe Biden two months ago, I could not help thinking two things: He is as clairvoyant as Cassandra and he is nobody's ‘'Yes-Man.''

Cassandra, if you remember, was that Greek Goddess who foresaw and predicted that the city of Troy (yes, the one in Turkey) would be destroyed.

Cassandra lived on quite unhappily but her name became the equivalent of ‘'I told you so.''

As far back as a few years ago, Biden was saying to his American grassroots audiences what the priorities were: ‘”Pakistan, teetering, Russia, moving in an authoritarian direction, Iran, malleable but dangerous.''

He was prescient on the Balkans calling Milosevic a few choice words before anyone else during the Clinton administration and many of his foreign policy choices pushed the Bush administration to change its lines just as Biden became disenchanted with the Bush policy on Iraq -- despite having voted for the attack in 2002.

He is fond of saying about his former Democratic rivals -- and still does and still will -- ‘'I have more experience than all of them including the candidate who says she has the most experience (Hillary Clinton) and I have changed more things than the guy who is talking about change (Barack Obama).''

The Council for U.S. and Italy, a think tank and a forum which brings together the best of U.S. and Italian business with significant world leaders once a year in Venice, invited Biden as a keynote speaker in June and I spent two days next to him and his wife Dr. Jill Jacobs.

Before and during his trip, it was always clear he was going to do everything his own way. He was fastidious on his U.S. foreign policy speech text beforehand and clipped and fast on his replies afterwards.

After all, Biden has been acting as a ‘'shadow foreign minister'' for nearly a decade, meeting all the foreign leaders as Chairman of the prestigious U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Private family man without any escort

And the day after his Venice keynote speech, when the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and business leaders like Marco Tronchetti Provera and Sergio Marchione of Fiat were waiting at lunch for Biden, he decided that it was more important to skip the chit chat and join the group later for desert after sleeping off his jetlag.

His plans for Sunday private Catholic mass in Venice were equally important.

This is a man who was elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 when Richard Nixon was in the White House and Obama was 11. A few days after Biden's surprise victory in Delaware for the Senate, he lost his first wife and infant daughter in a car accident. His son was saved and he is now attorney general in Delaware schedule for Iraq duty as a National Guard reserve in October 2008.

When he was widowed, Biden travelled 90 minutes each way from Delaware to Washington on the train every day to be near his family. He still does that every weekend--- but on the train not in a big limousine.

In Venice, it was the same. Private time and a private family man without any escort.

Here were some of his messages that he delivered in Venice.

--Priority number 1 is to re-establish credibility of the United States.

--Iraq is an obstacle.

--The U.S. spends 3 billion Dollars a week in Iraq. It needs to be solved fast but not with a unilateral exit.

--The United States should be able to have a dialogue with Iran and as John F. Kennedy said ‘' we should never fear to negotiate.''

Biden also described the political scene in the United States back in June while the primaries were still underway as ‘'an incredible moment since I came out of college in 1960s'' because a woman and an Afro-American were competing for the presidency. Obama has ‘'the more energy and the strength'' to prevail, he said as it was not yet clear who would be the final winner and his prediction came true.

Biden also thwarted off fears that his party would be divided at the Denver Convention later this week. ‘'You will see total unity,'' he said.

Foreign policy positions
Having described the man: Loquacious, sometimes prone to gaffes and sometimes harshly cutting in his dialogue with the public, what about his other foreign policy positions?

First of all, he has his priorities right: This is what he said after spending 24 hours in Georgia at mid-August and speaking with President Mikael Sakashvili:

"I left the country convinced that Russia's invasion of Georgia may be the one of the most significant event to occur in Europe since the end of communism. The claims of Georgian atrocities that provided the pretext for Russia's invasion are rapidly being disproved by international observers, and the continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region. The war that began in Georgia is no longer about that country alone. It has become a question of whether and how the West will stand up for the rights of free people throughout the region. The outcome there will determine whether we realize the grand ambition of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.''

He was there. He knew where the fire was and provided analysis.

Biden will surely bring up the Georgia case during the next few months and the rival presidential ticket will have to explain:

For example, a U.S. lobbyist for Georgia, Randy Scheunemann, worked for Sakashvili, to urge the United States, if necessary, to intervene militarily. He also worked at the same time for Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain between January 2007 and March 2008, receiving money from both sides. This is a time bomb waiting to explode.

Iraq is another issue. Biden, in 2006, urged a tripartite federal system for the war torn country in a much discussed plan.

Staunch supporter of "secular Turkey"
Biden is not a well liked figure in Turkey. His past position on Cyprus seeking withdrawal of the Turkish troops and his support of the ‘'Armenian Genocide bill'' stand as worrisome factors for the Turks.

But Biden does know Turkey well. He was in Turkey in February with some other senators. He is also a staunch supporter of ‘'secular Turkey.'' ‘'Real Politik'' may force him to come to terms since he keeps talking about a regional solution for Iraq if the presidential ticket is successful.

It is too early to predict whether ‘'Mr. Cassandra'' will shore up'' Mr. Charisma'' Barack Obama.

The real election campaign is still to start but you can be sure that foreign policy and security will also take place center stage now that Joe Biden is there--- besides the central issue of the economy.

News, Commentary And The Exercise Of Judgment, August 25, 2008, David Judson

As readers of the Turkish Daily News are aware, we correct our inevitable errors and omissions in a timely basis, usually on this page above the standing policy statement “Getting it right.” Sometimes we have to go beyond just setting the record straight, however, to a restatement of our policy and values. This is one of those times.

So this column is first a correction and an apology to Richard Giragosian, a guest whose essay Friday was drastically changed. It was just one word, inserted by a copy editor. But it was a word at the core of unresolved disputes between many Turks and Armenians and thus the change was drastic. Giragosian said “genocide.” We edited that to “alleged genocide.” While the change reflected prevailing sentiment at this newspaper, it also violated our rules on the treatment of commentary.

The journalistic navigation through this set of linguistic shoals is always difficult. And at the TDN we face many such challenges every day. We are unusual if not unique among Turkish newspapers in that we publish in English. But that is not all that sets us apart. Unlike many newspapers, we do not have an “agenda,” nor do we seek any specific outcome in the many deep debates that define Turkish society. International readers are an important constituency, but we are not a “newspaper for foreigners.” In fact, a majority of our readers are Turks who obviously come to us for reasons other than the English language. In one sense, our job is simple: a concise snapshot of Turkey each day. But in another sense our job is quite complex, for the picture is always one of many hues.

As much is subjective, no memo on guidelines or rulebook can entirely suffice. Intelligent judgment that reflects our broader values, by each and every reporter and editor, is the only policy with a chance of success. So it is worth a bit of ink and newsprint to again share the reasoning that defines our policy on news, translation and commentary, in particular for our new readers and new staffers of whom we have quite a few.

Striving to reflect views of all sides
I will get to the anatomy of the error. But first let me share a little about the TDN. As I say, it is a complex newspaper, in a complex country at a complex time of history. On the editorial side, we have about 50 staffers who are as remarkable for the depth of their education as they are for the breadth of their worldviews and backgrounds. This is no accident. Enabling Turkey's stories to be told by authentic voices is at the heart of the mission I have sought to articulate at the newspaper; that we are succeeding is, I hope, self-evident. Each day we also rely heavily on the expansive resources of our corporate parent Hürriyet, the flagship of the Dog(an Media Group, and our sister newspaper Referans, the national business daily. We subscribe to two domestic news agencies and four international news agencies. As with all good newspapers, we also collaborate with an ever-expanding network of informal partners ranging from the Turkish Policy Quarterly to the Slovak Foreign Policy Association to the Athens daily Kathimerini to make this portrait of diversity even more so. I have remarked on a number of occasions that we are perhaps the only newspaper in the world where Mahmud Ahmadinejad or George Bush or Vladimir Putin or Raul Castro could pop into the newsroom and quickly find a sympathetic face ready to take him to lunch. People usually think I am kidding. I am not.

Each day this tiny and hyper-diverse team casts its literal and figurative net broadly. About mid-day, what began as an information gathering marathon transforms to a news production sprint of translation, editing, final phone calls, rewrites and headlines. In the news environment in which we work, of war and imminent war on a variety of borders, of intense ideological competition at home, of bare-knuckle politics, of social transformation at breakneck speed, the task can be daunting. It works only because of hundreds of judgment calls made by everyone at each step. These are judgments made in the context I seek to describe.

So what is the context that binds a team in the exercise of judgment? It is a commitment to democracy. It is a commitment to free expression. It is a commitment to playing it straight. I do not ask the practitioners at the TDN to feign a lack of conviction on views or principles they hold dear; I do insist on transparency and candor so that we can collectively maintain balance and fairness. We strive not just to reflect the views of “both sides” but to reflect the views of “all sides.” Our reporter Ekrem Ekinci, a philosophy graduate, helped me out the other day in a chat where I was to trying to articulate this. Our work at the TDN, he suggested, is less a pursuit of the “objectivity” offered up in journalism school curriculum than it is a pursuit of the “enlarged mentality” advocated by Immanuel Kant, the ability to perceive and understand perspectives different than your own without surrender of your own beliefs.

So, for example, we don't take an editorial position on the issue of “minorities” in Turkey which classes Armenians, Greeks and Jews as statutory minorities but does not acknowledge such distinctions for Kurds, Alevis, Assyrians and many others. We do, however, have a standing explanatory “box” on the history of this issue and the 1923 Lausanne Treaty that started it all. This runs next to stories where this terminology comes up.

Wording on religious and ethnic issues
Readers are used to seeing the sourcing above stories “TDN with wire dispatches.” Commonly, stories that we derive from other media sources will not be as complete as our standard demands. Sometimes it is an extra phone call to the subject of the story; sometimes it is a bit of background or context that we add. And we routinely eschew language common in other media that could be seen as disparaging. You will not, for example, find a reference to “Arab capital” in the TDN's business pages but rather its national source, be it Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or Dubai. A writer once insisted that it was legitimate to describe a Russian billionaire as a “Jewish oligarch.” Not unless the story is about his donations to a synogogue. Religious or ethnic adjectives in front of the noun are fine only when they are relevant to the subject matter. That writer no longer works at the TDN.

And when it comes to that debate of how to describe the events in the murderous final days of the Ottoman Empire, we avoid in translation “sözde” or “so-called” to modify Armenian claims of genocide. A “so-called” genocide connotes disparagement, an “alleged genocide” denotes the current state of legal and historical debate. This is the kind of sensitivity, judgment and “enlarged mentality” that we try to bring to the news pages. And the news is often radically edited.

Different scale for editorial pages
The editorial pages require judgment on a different scale. For here our license is more restricted. Our constraints include Turkish press law, standards of decency and a wariness toward recklessness. We endeavor to clean up the basic elements of grammar when necessary and sometimes edit for necessary brevity. But as our standing statement reads, “few views are unwelcome on the pages of the TDN.” We will, upon my judgment or that of another editor, include a disclosure in the case of controversial claims by a guest columnist that go starkly against prevailing views: “The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect the views of the TDN,” is the note we will add. But we do not ever, under any circumstances, change the direct meaning or intent of commentary. We might well reject it in its entirety. But if we run it, respect to the author's views is fundamental.

Do we always execute these goals of judgment without flaw? No. Sometimes we fail which means we start anew. And on Friday this values-based policy ran aground. We violated this trust with our readers.

“I have watched with interest your coverage of Armenia and Armenian-Turkish affairs. All to the good. However, Richard Giragosian's piece today ‘Armenia and the new Turkish proposal' while otherwise worthy has the word “alleged” in reference to the Armenian genocide of 1915,” wrote a reader in Montreal, Richard Elliot. “Mr. Giragosian has confirmed that his original text did not contain the word “alleged” and that the TDN added it without consulting him and without disclosing in the paper that the word was not in the original text. This is unethical from a journalistic point-of-view. It also casts doubt on the TDN's willingness to publish opinions not in conformity with the official Turkish position. Finally, it causes embarrassment to Mr. Giragosian, a respected analyst and commentator who has taken the risk of being published in a Turkish paper, who must now explain that his text has been altered substantively.”

Mr. Elliot could not be more right. We could not be more wrong. We apologize. And now, our values restated, we go back to work.

Sen. Joe Biden's, Presidential candidate Barack Obama's pick for vice president, Senate record has been consistently anti-Turkey. However his vast knowledge of Turkey could be a plus for future ties with a possible Obama administration, analysts say

Obama's Vp Pick Cold To Turkey, August 25, 2008, Ümit Enginsoy, Washington - Turkish Daily News

Sen. Joe Biden, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama's choice for vice presidency, is a foreign policy guru, but during his 35 years in the U.S. Senate he has almost constantly voted for or joined initiatives against Turkey's interests.

But still some analysts suggest that his vast knowledge of Turkey might be an advantage if Ankara is to deal with an Obama administration that may come to power in the wake of the United States' Nov. 4 presidential election.

Obama, who will compete against Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, announced Saturday that he had picked Delaware Sen. Biden, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as his running mate.

Like Obama, Biden is a staunch supporter of the Armenian cause. The two men both back last year's draft resolution in the Senate calling for the United States' official recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide". The resolution will probably go nowhere during this session of Congress, but analysts expect a strong effort on this matter from pro-Armenian politicians next year. Obama himself pledged to label the killings as genocide if elected president.

Biden, 65, was close to and influenced by former Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who is of ethnic Greek origin, and has adopted an anti-Turkish position on several disputes with Greece and Greek Cypriots.

Consistent record
Over the past 15 years, Biden has also worked against a number of planned U.S. arms transfers to Turkey on grounds of alleged human rights violations and other reasons.

In the latest such case in 2003, he opposed the use of a U.S. Ex-Im Bank loan for the purchase of naval helicopters. Eventually the matter was resolved, but Turkey, when signing a 2005 contract for the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft for 17 S-70B Seahawk helicopters, opted not to use the loan.

When the United States was in deep trouble in Iraq two years ago, Biden came up with a proposal to divide the war-torn country into three parts along ethnic and sectarian lines under a very loose confederation. Turkey is strongly opposed to the division of Iraq, and the idea was later shelved when ensuing U.S. policies helped improve the situation in Iraq.

"It's a fact that Biden has a consistent record against Turkey in Congress. But it's also a fact that he knows Turkey and Turkey's leaders quite well," said one analyst here. "As a result I think it's better to deal with someone with a deep knowledge of Turkey than another person who is ignorant about Turkey."

During a stopover in Turkey following a visit to Afghanistan in February, Biden and fellow Democratic Sen. John Kerry and retiring Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel met with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an. In the latest meeting, Biden and several of his committee members met with visiting Foreign Minister Ali Babacan here in June.

Serzh Sargsyan: "Armenia Is Ready To Restore Relations With Turkey Without Any Provisions", Today.Az, 25 August 2008

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan considers that it is time to restore relations between Yerevan and Ankara.
In his interview to Austrian Der Standard newspaper Serzh Sargsyan noted that Armenia is ready to restore relations with Turkey without any provisions.

"Armenia has always been loyal to its declared political line", added the president, Interfax reports with reference to the press service for the head of state.

He said "today there is a situation in our relations, which is not profitable for anyone. I think there is no sense or need of being eternal enemies".

The President considers that it is time to settle the Armenian-Turkish problems and "this step will be mutually profitable for both parties".

"If you remember, Turkish Premier Erdogan noted several months ago that doors are open for a new dialogue in this time period. I am sure that we can have such a dialogue if we wish and the arrival of Turkish President Gul to Armenia will further strengthen these positive trends", noted Sargsyan. /Gazeta.Ru/

Fair Dialogue, The Best Way Forward, Hovhannes Nikoghosyan, Turkish Daily News, Aug 26 2008
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 at the height of the conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno Karabakh, a conflict in which Turkey sided with Azerbaijan. At the time of the closure, the Russian media were speculating that Turkey might invade Armenia but was warned off by the head of Russia's General Staff, who was said to have told Ankara that to do so might start World War III.

In the mid 1990s there were rumors of secret negotiations between Armenia and Turkey concerning the route of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. It was said that Turkey suggested the pipeline run through Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia instead of Georgia, in exchange for Armenia withdrawing its forces from Nagorno Karabakh. If such talks were held, nothing came of them as the pipeline was routed through Georgia.

The next, and possibly the most positive step in bilateral ties, was the creation of the Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission, or TARC, in 2001 by civil society representatives from Armenia and Turkey. TARC was originally financed by the U.S. Administration and coordinated by David Phillips, a senior adviser at the U.S. State Department.

Steps for reconciliation
Today we can say that the major step towards real reconciliation made by TARC was the decision to ask the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice, or ICTJ, to study the applicability of the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention to events of 1915 to 1923. The ICTJ published a report in 2003 stating that the Ottoman Empire in its late years had committed genocide against Armenians. However, TARC stopped functioning after its fourth meeting in Moscow. No official outcome of its work was ever published.

If we look at how Armenians and Turks conduct business, one can hardly describe their behavior as that of enemies. The notion of the two peoples being enemies today is a stereotype perpetrated by those powers that benefit from the standoff between the two, especially for strategic and military reasons. I deeply believe that if we do not take any steps to improve the ongoing situation in Armenian-Turkish relations their "geopolitical incompatibility" will become a matter of fact. For instance, in Armenia both political and public opinion believes that the Kars-Baku railway project (bypassing Armenia through Georgia) is a project Ankara is behind to support Baku, and not a project that will help strengthen regional integration and peace.

The most important reason for improving Turkish-Armenian relations, however, is the need for both countries to be more stable European allies, since both nations want to join the European Union.

Besides, keeping the Turkish-Armenian border closed is not the best way to solve problems in the 21st century. There are unresolved disputes within Europe, but no borders are closed. The best way forward is a fair dialog. No state can move forward alone without cooperating with its neighbors.

Lack of trust
In 2001 Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian made the following statement: "The fundamental obstacle for future Armenian-Turkish relations is our lack of trust in Turkey, as well as the fact that we are not hopeful that Turkey will become our reliable partner." I believe, no one could describe the current situation better. And the same mistrust is no doubt present in Ankara. The fact is that neither side trusts the other. What can be done to improve the situation?

In the same 2001 former Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem suggested the holding of a Turkish-Azerbaijani-Armenian trilateral conference on regional security issues. I believe this was a great idea that was unfortunately never carried out. But the idea is still valid. I believe it would be useful to call a wider conference for regional peace and security, focused on confidence-building measures in the South Caucasus/Caspian region. The following powers could participate: Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia, the United States and the European Union. Maybe this very format, in the end, will be adopted in the framework of "Caucasian table" promoted by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. No state should be pushed back if Turkey wants to create a "working atmosphere" and regional stability.

I think this is an issue to be discussed seriously. It is a matter of fact that all the participants have reservations regarding rapprochement with at least some of the others, but these should be discussed as soon as possible. It is important for each country to articulate for the others what concessions it deems acceptable for the talks to succeed. Armenia believes in a non-military approach to solving the thorny regional issues, but it has not received a positive response from other regional partners so far.

Unique Opportunity for Armenians To Reclaim Their Properties in Turkey By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier

Armenian citizens of several Middle Eastern countries may have a unique opportunity to reclaim their properties in Turkey without hiring a lawyer or going to court.

A Turkish newspaper reported last week that the government of Turkey has been negotiating with Syria, Iraq and Egypt over conflicting land claims of those citizens who lost their properties after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took up this long-standing issue during their recent meeting in Turkey, but failed to come to a mutually acceptable solution, according to an article by Ercan Yavuz in the August 23, 2008 issue of Today's Zaman.

Turkey claims that its citizens own a total of 750,000 acres of land in Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Turkish officials also claim that the Syrian government confiscated lands belonging to citizens of Turkey. In a reciprocal move, in 1966, Ankara confiscated the properties of Syrian citizens living in Turkey. After lengthy negotiations, Turkey and Syria signed a protocol in 1972 and created a joint commission to document the disputed properties. "Turkish citizens hold 2,411 title deeds in Syria, of which 2,108 are slated for evaluation by the commission," Today's Zaman reported.

The commission reportedly confirmed that Turkish citizens own 2,534 real estate plots in Syria, involving 250,000 acres of land, 1,576 houses and 3,533,844 Syrian liras. Some of these deeds were rejected by the Syrian government, while the status of more than 700 others could not be resolved. Syria also rejected 276 out of 987 submitted files; and 711 cases have not yet been decided upon, according to Mr. Yavuz's article. Syria reportedly confirmed that Turkish citizens own about 250,000 acres of land in Syria, while claiming that its citizens own an equal amount of land in Turkey. Turkey, on the other hand, claimed that its citizens own twice as much land in Syria.

Turkey has had a similar dispute with Iraq and Egypt. Iraq adopted a law in 1961 restricting Turkish citizens to buying no more than one house and one workplace. Iraq then ordered the sale or confiscation of properties belonging to Turkish citizens, according to Today's Zaman. In 1985, Turkey and Iraq agreed to allow property owners in their respective countries five years to file a claim. The due date was subsequently extended twice. Turkey sent 87 files of land claims to Iraq, 53 of which were reportedly accepted by Iraq. In all, Turkey claimed that its citizens own in Iraq about 160,000 acres of land, 150 buildings, 11 charitable foundations, more than 2 million Iraqi dinars and 8,000 pounds sterling. On the other hand, Iraq claims its citizens own 48 buildings and 11 plots of land in Turkey. The American invasion of Iraq interrupted the settlement of these claims.

Turkey also signed an agreement with Egypt in 1982 to solve their property disputes. According to Today's Zaman, 1,590 files have been submitted by Turkish citizens who claim property ownership in Egypt. The Egyptian government has reportedly accepted 256 of these files. In addition, Turkey claims that the Egyptian government, agreeing that 31 charitable foundations in Egypt belong to citizens of Turkey, paid more than $95,000 to 72 Turkish citizens. Leading Armenian organizations in Syria, Iraq and Egypt should contact their respective government officials and verify the information published by Today's Zaman. If the Turkish report is accurate, these organizations should urge Armenian citizens of their countries, including those living overseas, to submit to them copies of their property deeds or other documentary evidence of ownership. The organizations would then pursue the inclusion of Armenian claims in the negotiations being held by their respective governments with Turkey, demanding either the return of Armenian-owned lands or fair compensation for the lost properties.

The key advantage of this approach is that Armenians do not need to hire lawyers and go to court, as the officials of the three Arab countries, on behalf of their citizens, are negotiating directly with their Turkish counterparts to settle such reciprocal claims.

This is a unique opportunity that Armenians need to take advantage of immediately. Once the outstanding property ownership disputes are settled, Armenian citizens of Syria, Iraq and Egypt may never again have the opportunity to reclaim their properties located in Turkey.

For True Caucasus Stability Turkey Must Remain On Course, Adil Baguirov, Turkish Daily News, Aug 26 2008

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in mid-1993 was due to Armenianaggression and occupation of Azerbaijani territories of Karabakh andseven other regions (total of about 15 percent of Azerbaijan, with over800,000 Azerbaijanis and Kurds displaced or killed). Incidentally, thesebinding demands on Armenia about withdrawing and ceasing occupationwere made not just by Turkey, but by the U.N. Security Council, the U.N.General Assembly, OSCE, PACE and OIC, just to name a few, all of whichArmenia ignored.

Missed opportunities
What is troublesome is that not only was this worthy initiative of PMErdogan monopolized by the Armenian lobby, but it also quite overtlyattempts to hurt Georgia, by reducing trade turnover of all theregional states with Georgia and redirect pipelines and railroads tobe routed through Armenia, instead of Georgia. When PM Erdogan wasdrafting his proposal, he probably could not have imagined that hisidea would be ripped from context and used with such ulterior motivesby one special interest group to the detriment of Georgia, Azerbaijanas well as Turkey.

If Armenia was serious about good neighborly relations, it would havestopped its occupation of Azerbaijan, removed all its troops, andstopped the blockade of Naxcivan region (which has been under Armenianblockade since 1989). This would have definitely improved thesituation in the region, and would have placed Armenia on the rightside of economic development - and relations with its neighbors.

Secondly, what has Armenia done to repay Turkey for its persistentgoodwill, to demand yet another expensive gesture? For example, Turkeywas among the first states to have recognized Armenia back in 1991,has allowed regular, charter and humanitarian air flights to/fromArmenia, welcomed over 60,000 illegal immigrants from Armenia, has cutin half its border and other security personnel on the border, has atleast $35 million in official trade turnover with Armenia(unofficially could be as high as $200 million), charges the sametourist visa fee ($12 for one month) as it does on everyone else, isamong the first to congratulate the new Armenian president on assuminghis new office -- the list is long and can go on.

In return, Armenia attempts to put pressure on Turkey throughthird parties, sometimes resorting to blackmail, such as speculatingthat the recognition of 1915 events as "genocide" would be "rewarded"with a EU membership, or, as the latest article in The Economistclaims, if the land border opens then the U.S. Congress might not adoptits non-binding "genocide" resolution. All these speculations are ofcourse untrue.

Border politics and economic impacts
Armenia's remaining population is around 2 million and itspurchasing power is increasing very slowly, meaning it simply cannotafford to import Turkish goods and prefers less expensive Iranian andChinese goods. Also, as Armenian economy found ways to cope with tradesanctions, the effect of lifting the Turkish embargo would have almostno positive economic change, although will make the Turkish marketmore accessible for illegal immigrants and suitcase traders fromArmenia.

Turkey stands to gain much more through increasing trade with the truly booming economies of Azerbaijan and Georgia, than with Armenia, as every dollar invested into Armenia without strings attached currently fuels further groundless claims and occupation, whilst investment to Azerbaijan and Georgia, along with other Turkic countries, creates economic growth, prosperity and more economic opportunities with positive return on investment.

Possible repercussions
Hence, there are simply no real political, economic, trade andmonetary benefits for opening of the land border. However, opening ofthe land border would mean a great symbolic victory by Armenia overboth Turkey and Azerbaijan. For starters, it would irreparably damagerelations between two brotherly states. It would also greatlydamage prospects of Karabakh war settlement. It would show thatpushing Turkey around and holding it hostage to never ending demandsworks, and that Turkey can be forced to rescind its own words andpromises. All this would empower Armenia, but weaken Georgia,Azerbaijan and Turkey.

What would be the right course of action for Turkey in this situation?1) To be firm and continue demand Armenia to comply with internationallaw and UN resolutions; 2) To continue and accelerate regionalprojects with Georgia and Turkic nations; 3) To promote greaterresearch and awareness of Turkish history, particularly in the periodof WWI, such as through the Azerbaijan Turkey Historical ResearchFoundation (ATAF); 4) President Gul should accept PresidentSarkissian's invitation to watch the football match, but travel toYerevan from Baku, so that the symbolism is not lost on the host, andwhile in Armenia, to simply enjoy the game, while firmly reiteratingpoint No. 1 as a precondition for CSCP to be viable. The sooner Armeniacomplies with the international law, the quicker confidence and trusttowards it will be built. The region wants and deserves peace, butachieving it requires firmness and honoring commitments.

Turkey Must Open Its Border With Armenia, AZG Armenian Daily, 26/08/2008
Experienced Turkish diplomat and political scientist Mehmed Bayar stated that Turkey must open its border with Armenia. In an interview to Miliet newspaper Bayar said that Turkey suffers most from the closure of its Armenian border.

"As long as the border is close, the influence of Turkey in South Caucasus will be limited, and Turkey will not be able to appear to the world as a fair and mediating state. Ankara shall have the initiative of this strategic decision. Opening the border without any precondition Turkey shall weaken the Armenian allegations regarding history. If Turkey is not to lose its position in South Caucasus, it should do that," assured Bayar.

According to Milliet, Bayar was the first diplomat to represent Turkey at the talks on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, and the regional experience of Bayar had decisive role in Erdogan's initiative on the new Caucasian union.

Turkey Is In Trouble, Panorama.am 25/08/2008
Sen. Joe Biden, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama's choice for vice presidency, during his 35 years in the U.S. Senate has almost constantly voted for or joined initiatives against Turkey's interests. It is reported by "Turkish Daily News".

Like Obama, Biden is a staunch supporter of the Armenian cause. The two men both back last year's draft resolution in the Senate calling for the United States' official recognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide".

Biden, 65, was close to and influenced by former Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, who is of ethnic Greek origin, and has adopted an anti-Turkish position on several disputes with Greece and Greek Cypriots.

Over the past 15 years, Biden has also worked against a number of planned U.S. arms transfers to Turkey.

Note, Barak Obama has announced that after the election he will adopt the article, on World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as "genocide".

Ottoman Dynasty Through Lenses Of Abdullah Fréres' Camera
Vercihan Ziflioglu, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News, August 28, 2008

The Abdullahian Brothers or the Abdullah Fréres--as they used to be called--were each given the honorary title of “royal photographer” not by Sultan Abdulhamid II—as it used to be believed until recently-- but by Sultan Abdulaziz, the 33rd ruler of the Ottoman Empire

Until recently, it was widely believed that the Abdullah Fréres (the Abdullah Brothers), who introduced photography to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, were honored with the title of royal photographers by Sultan Abdulhamid II.

However, recently discovered documents and records show it was not Abdulhamid II but Abdulaziz, the 33rd Ottoman Sultan, who granted them the privilege of serving the Palace.

Bahattin Öztuncay, a researcher and a close friend of Ömer Koç, heir to the throne of Koç Holding, one of Turkey's biggest conglomerates, discovered many unique documents and photos from auctions all over the world. One such treasure he came across in auction was the only existing signed photo of James Robertson, one of the world's first war photographers who died in 1888.

During the auctions he attended, Öztuncay happened upon a number of photos taken by the Abdullah Brothers. He developed an attraction for their work and decided to collect more of the two brothers' work. He soon began a further study of their lives.

The results of his research have been published in a two-volume book titled “Photographers of Dersaadet (Istanbul of Ottoman times)”. The book was published by Aygaz Publications, both in English and in Turkish. The sponsor was Koç Holding.

Hundreds of photographs collected by Öztuncay are preserved in an aluminum folio and kept in a dark room. “The quality of these photographs taken by the Abdullah Brothers are so high that they could even compete with photographs taken using modern technology today,” said Öztuncay. “They are perfectly colored by hand. You cannot see even a spark of silver on them,” he added.

The photographs are now a part of a huge collection owned by Koç. Digital versions of them are also the part of the same collection. Öztuncay said Koç plans to open a photography museum, which is expected to be one of a kind, not just in Turkey but also in other parts of the world.

Empire's first photography studio opened on Istiklal Street

The Abdullah Brothers, named Vichen and Kevork, were Ottoman citizens of Armenian descent. They went to Paris in the early 1800s to study photography. For Öztuncay, the Abdullah Brothers' visit to France, after they were recommended by French ambassador in Istanbul to do so, was clearly a turning point in their life.

In 1811, when the two brothers were in Paris, they published a photo album titled “Young”, which was composed of photographs of Sultan Abdulaziz, his cabinet and some other statesmen. When they returned to Istanbul, Abdulaziz honored them by granting each the title of “royal photographer”.

In the following years, the two brothers became highly popular in Europe. They took pictures of a number of dynasty members, including Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Germany. “Princess Alexandra invited the Abdullah Brothers to open a branch in her country,” said Öztuncay. But the Abdullah Fréres rejected the offer and opened the first photo studio in the Ottoman Empire just across from the English Hotel, on Grande Rue de Péra, present day I.stiklal Street.

A document among archives of Ottoman Bank
“The Abdullah Fréres won Abdulaziz's confidence. They were even permitted to take pictures of some female residents of the Palace. These residents included the Sultan's two daughters, Refia and Fatma,” said Öztuncay. In full body photos that the Abdullah Brothers colored by hand, two princesses, Refia and Fatma, wear Western-style clothes with their heads uncovered. Öztunçay said began to go down hill for the Abdullah Brothers when Abdulhamid II ascended the throne. During his reign the two brothers suffered serious financial problems. A credit contract that was coincidently uncovered among the archives of the Ottoman Bank shows the level of financial difficulties the two brothers faced while Abdulhamid II was on the throne.

Embassy, August 27th, 2008
Turkey Decries Toronto School Board Genocide Course
The killings of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 is being taught alongside the Holocaust and the 1994 Rwandan genocide By Michelle Collins

In a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the province's Ministry of Education, the Turkish Embassy has voiced strong objections to a Toronto District School Board decision to teach students that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 was genocide.

Furor Over High School Course Reached House in 1988

Twenty years ago, the debate surrounding the Ottawa Board of Education's decision to refer to the killing of Armenians as Turkish genocide went all the way to the House of Commons.

External Affairs Minister Joe Clark rose in the House on March 17, 1988 to say that one of his senior officials should not have interfered with the board's decision and said an official apology would be sent.

Mr. Clark's assistant deputy minister of the Europe branch, Jacques Roy, had sent a letter to the board criticizing the decision to characterize the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as genocide in a new high school course. Mr. Roy said it would affect relations between Turkey and Canada.

Mr. Clark told the House the letter had been sent without his knowledge and said the Department of External Affairs should not have been involved in the matter.

The lessons will come in a new course entitled "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications" that will be launched with the start of the new school year in September. The course's three case studies include the Ottoman's killing of Armenians in 1915, the Holocaust and the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Although the Canadian Parliament approved a motion in 2004 recognizing the killings as genocide, the Turkish government has long disputed the description.

The idea of teaching a course on genocide was first raised three years ago by a Toronto board trustee, but has since been met with controversy on all sides. Aside from Turkish objections, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress advocated that the Holodomor should be included in the course, and the Muslim Canadian Congress accused the board of religious bias.

As the controversy escalated over what was and wasn't included in course material, the school board decided earlier this year to strike a review committee. After a few public meetings, the panel concluded that the course reading list would need to be approved by a panel of historical experts.

It's unclear how the Armenian killings were included in the Toronto school board course proposal, but the inclusion of one book in particular, Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide by Barbara Coloroso, sparked outrage.

At one point the review committee had agreed to remove Ms. Coloroso's book from its reading list, which in turn prompted outcry from the literary community and a letter from Penguin Canada president David Davidar to the school board defending Ms. Coloroso's credentials as an educator.

This past June, after months of debate, committee and public review, the school board decided to include Ms. Coloroso's book as a text examining the psychology of genocide, and on June 2 gave final approval for the course to go ahead in 11 Toronto high schools, reaching about 300 Grade 11 students.

Turkish Outrage
That has prompted a backlash from the Turkish Embassy as well as members of the Turkish community.

"This is a pedagogical thing and goes against traditional Canadian principles of objectivity, and this is a matter of history...which should really be immune to political pressures," said Yonet Tezel, first counsellor at the Turkish Embassy. "That's something for Canadian educational institutions to consider themselves, we don't need to remind them of that.

"The school board's decision to go ahead anyway and teach it as genocide, it's very objectionable, that's why Turkish parents are concerned, and I sympathize with them."

Mr. Tezel said the Turkish Embassy has communicated its concern to colleagues at the Department of Foreign Affairs and to provincial officials that as the school year commences, Turkish Ambassador Rafet Akgünay will continue to raise his concerns through diplomatic channels.

The Council of Turkish Canadians has also expressed its disapproval, especially of the inclusion of Extraordinary Evil.

Lale Eskicioglu, executive director of the Council of Turkish Canadians, launched a formal complaint against the Toronto District School Board in November. Ms. Eskicioglu also started a petition, which she said has collected 12,000 signatures.

"It cannot be taught as genocide," she said. "You can teach it as a dispute or under Ottoman history maybe, but you cannot teach it in the same category with Holocaust and Rwanda. This is a very serious crime. You cannot accuse a nation or its people of that which amounts to slander and hate propaganda because it's not correct."

For Ms. Eskicioglu, this is a personal plight, and a situation in which she feels she and her fellow Turks have been wronged.

"Why should my daughter, alongside with her Armenian friends, sit in the same classroom and hear one-sided inaccurate versions of history, which is categorized with the worst crime in the world?" Ms. Eskicioglu asked.

Although the course has been approved, she said she plans to pursue the matter further, and that she and other parents will closely monitor the course teachings and materials used. Fearful that children of Turkish descent will face discrimination, Ms. Eskicioglu also said they are prepared to take legal action if any are bullied as a result of the teachings.

This past April, she said, posters accusing all Turkish people of being mass murderers were discovered pinned up around Carleton University's campus in Ottawa.

"This is our fight because these are our children," she said. "Please do not teach inaccurate history."

Course Overdue
But those in support of the course and its inclusion of the Armenian killings as genocide say it is long overdue and that the inclusion of the course is part of living in a diverse and multicultural country such as Canada.

Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, who represents the Toronto riding of Scarborough-Agincourt and in 2005 travelled to Armenia to commemorate the Armenian genocide, expressed his support for the course at one of the school board's special meetings in June.

Although Mr. Karygiannis said the meeting was "cordial," he said he is disturbed that at least one protestor in turn verbally attacked him and his Greek ancestry.

"The course is needed, we cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore," Mr. Karygiannis said Monday. "This is where we have to move on, we have to turn the page, we have to acknowledge what happened, we have to teach our children what happened."

Executive director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, Aris Babikian, said there are several respected scholars who have concluded the Armenian killings to be genocide.

Over the last several months, he said, the controversy has been fuelled by some members of the Turkish community misrepresenting some of the issues, and disputes that Turkish students will face discrimination or bullying.

"The issue, it's not to try to stigmatize certain segments in our society in Canada on the controversy, it's something the students should [learn] from these past experiences and in the Turkish-Armenian case, it is the hype and paranoia of the Turkish government inflaming the issue here because they are getting involved in these issues," Mr. Babikian said. "We do not have any issue with the Turkish-Canadian community."

System superintendent for special projects for the Toronto School Board Nadine Segal said that despite the controversy, school board officials feel very positive about the planned course and are confident they have knowledgeable teachers. She said it has been an "incredibly exciting project" that has, for the most part, received positive support from international academics.

"There was never any intent to offend any community or to suggest that one person's suffering was greater than another's," Ms. Segal said. She added that the course is not meant to exclude any other genocides and that many of the other 20 events of the 20th century that had also been considered, will be woven into the course. "We had to select areas that were well-resourced, that had materials that were available for high school students."

She said the course was built in alignment with the Ministry of Education's policy for a locally-developed course, and involved input from community groups.

"It's very carefully constructed, also the main focus of the course is global citizenship and what students can do to respect human rights and prevent future genocides, so we expect students to be critical thinkers and do something with this information, and that's where we move into the section of the course that focuses on social action."

France Is Faced With Its Genocidal History
Currently holding the EU Council Presidency, France, which assumes it as a duty to give human rights and democracy lessons to the world, is now being accused of genocide.

Because of its role in the events that occurred between two tribes in 1994 and resulted in the death of 800 thousands of people, France is officially accused of genocide with a report declared by Rwandan government on August 5th 2008. In the report prepared by the Rwandan Investigatory Committee, it is mentioned that “The support of France had a political, military, diplomatic and logistical nature”.

In the 500-pages report of the Commission, it is stated that France was aware of the genocide arrangements, took part in these arrangements, and played an active role in the murders. France is also being accused of providing intelligence, strategy and military support to the perpetrators of genocide, contributing to the determination of the list of people to be murdered, providing weapons, being directly involved in the killings. The commission suggests Rwandan government in its report that “Formal allegations against the French government should be submitted to the international institutions, legal action should be brought and 33 French political and military officials should be brought to trial”.

The Investigatory Committee also makes heavy accusations against French soldiers who were on duty during the military operation carried out by France in June-August 1994 under the guise of “humanitarian assistance”. Rwandan Ministry of Justice tells in its statement on the issue that “French soldiers were also directly involved in the genocide, they killed Tutsis and those Hutus who had been blamed for hiding Tutsis, and they raped many Tutsi people who survived”. The Ministry of Justice emphasizes that “France’s great support for, decisiveness in and insistence on the murder policy in Rwanda prove that French military and political officials were accomplices in the execution and arrangement of Tutsi genocide in 1994”.

Among the French officials who are being accused in the report are the President of the time Francois Mitterand, Prime Minister Eduard Balladur, Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé, his former chief of staff Dominiques de Villepin, Elysee Secretary General Hubert Véedrine.

As is known, the downing of the French airplane aboard which Rwandan and Burundian presidents were traveling in 1994, resulted in the incitement of massacres in Rwanda. It had been found out that the missiles used in the sabotage against the plane had come from the arsenal of the French army. All of the three French pilots had died in this sabotage.

According to the United Nations, the genocide that resulted in the death of so many people in April-July 1994 had been “planned” for the annihilation of Tutsis by Hutus. In the statements made by the UN at different times, it was told that French companies had continued to supply weapons to this country even after the UN imposed arms embargo to Rwanda and that the UN had been warned about the massacres three months ago, but the initiatives for a resolution to be taken by the Security Council for tasking the UN troops in order to prevent any massacre had been hindered by France.

Despite all these developments, French administration insistently continues to avoid making any explanation showing repentance. It is reported that in the course of the preparation of the report, France has been making efforts to prevent genocide allegations from getting official recognition by pressuring Rwandan government through a variety of means, Rwandans did not yield to pressures, and they opted for the truth to come to light.

When the report was announced, France strictly rejected the accusations against its former political administrators and military officials and Romain Nadal, the Spokesman of the Foreign affairs Ministry, told that there were “unacceptable” accusations against French political and military leaders in the report prepared by the Committee; and this stance of France is accepted as an example of typical “French custom of denial”.

Rwandan genocide is unfortunately neither the first nor the last damage to the humanity caused by France with its wars and intrigues. Despite all its denials, the dark past of France is full of serious crimes against humanity.

This decision on genocide is not the first accusation against France in the international arena. In June 2006, French State and Railway Company “were convicted of playing a role in the transportation of the Jews to the concentration camps during the Second World War” and were ordered to pay compensation. The French Railway Company also had similar convictions previously.

It has been already written in the pages of history that France subjected 1 million people in Algeria to genocide with its attacks directed at innocent civilians during the Second World War and that it attempted to annihilate Algerian people by torturing 25.000 people and with the extrajudicial killings of 3.025 persons. In the course of the investigations into what happened in Algeria, it was established that in the murky operations of certain Algerian terrorist groups, there was a forth individual, mostly a police officer or a military security officer who accompanied them and that these terrorist groups confirmed that the police, military security or SDCE (French Secret Services) and a subordinate secret service called GIC gave them information slips and thus indicated their targets; in short, it is known they carried out the filthy activities on behalf of the police and the republican army.

In that period, the Algerian Muslims called Harkis, who were conscripted in the French army, were disappointed with the result of their attempts to take refuge in France after the independence of Algeria. Only for 42 thousand of them, they had provided homes. Upon the request of De Gaulle in 1962, they were housed behind barbed wire deep in the French forests in small uncomfortable barracks constructed hastily. This is an interesting example of what has happened to the collaborators of the French against the independence of their country.

Turkey is also one of the countries that have been targeted by France for her obscure policies. During World War I, France had occupied Ottoman territory and massacred millions of innocent civilian people. As a result of “the friendship ties that had strengthened for centuries” between the Armenians and France, the Armenian gangs were provided with arms in the end of the 19th century and provoked to rebel against the Ottoman Empire. Part of the members of these Armenian gangs who did not succeed to pull away territory from Turkey at the end of World War I, fled to France.

These Armenians, who went to Marseilles, were brought together in the Oddo camp which had extremely bad housing conditions. The Oddo camp was officially closed down in 1928, but actually in 1935. Not any Armenian could leave the camp without a working contract. The authorities treated these Armenians like stateless people, but when France fought with Germany they were sent as soldiers constituting another hypocrisy in history that the French have to account for.

It is still fresh in our minds that - until it caused harm to the country with the Orly attack - France did not show any reaction for years against the terrorist organization ASALA, which came into existence in the 1970’s and was known for its attacks against Turkish targets especially diplomats, and that France felt sympathy for the Armenian terrorists and adopted a tolerating attitude.

In the 1980’s, the Armenian terrorist organizations changed their tactics upon the reactions they received from the world’s public opinion and resorted to cooperation with the terrorist PKK. The PKK was known for its attacks against Turkey and became now affiliated with ASALA which killed diplomats. These facts were stated many times by the relevant experts and supported with evidence. In spite of this, France did not take any measure against these terrorist organizations that were hostile towards Turkey and refrained from cooperation. This was extremely meaningful….

When talking about “France” and “terror”, one of the names that comes up in our minds is Mitterand and his wife who are also accused for the genocide in Rwanda. The Turkish public opinion knows these two very well. The support provided by France to the PKK has increased considerably due to the foreign policy understanding of Mitterand and maybe also a little bit due the effect of the “special protection” shown to the PKK by First Lady Daniella Mitterand as a result of her “personal friendship” with Head of the Paris Kurdish Institute Kemdal Nezan. Consequently, France has become one of the most important bases of this terrorist organization in Europe. And it appears that France still continues to welcome terrorist groups that have no other aim than being hostile to Turkey.

However, the Armenian diaspora in France as well as the terrorist organizations, that are striving against the independence and/or territorial integrity of other countries, are collaborating with France without foreseeing what will happen to them by trying to understand what has happened to those who betrayed Algeria, Rwanda and the Ottoman State. In the future, as it has happened before, France shall push aside the traitors in accordance with its own interests or shall, instead of her own children, send the traitors to other wars to die.

As a matter of fact, it is not a coincidence that France is pronounced whenever we talk about a massacre, war or genocide at any place of the world. While she has a history of colonization, she continued her aggressive, expansionist policies in the 21st century. She holds control of an important part of the world’s arms trade. Her national income is bolstered with the blood shed in other countries darkly shadowing world peace. Every year, more than 300 thousand people are being killed on the world with conventional weapons. Even more people are being wounded, violated in their rights, forcefully deported and left helpless. In 2005, 82% of all the arms transfer on the world was realized by five countries. One of these countries is France. Thus, France has an important portion in the world’s arms trade. A war that is staged at any place on the world is sustaining the French economy.

In France there is still a longing for colonization and laws that praise the era of imperialism and slavery are still in force. Although these raise some doubts about the long-term foreign policy goals of France, at present they talk about a “French crisis” on the world. Certain historians say that the “regression process” of this country started with the Prussian-French War in 1870. Although France won in World War I on paper, this was actually the beginning of the end. World War II followed by the Cold War era caused polarization between the USA and the USSR as a result of which France regressed even more and in the international arena this country was not taken so seriously anymore.

The time has come for France to refresh her memory and encounter her past not only because of its inhuman acts in Rwanda, but also in the territories of the Ottoman Empire, in Algeria and in the other colonies.

France should accept the role that she has played in the genocides throughout her history and apologize for that. French politicians and military officials that are responsible for the genocide in Rwanda should face trial in the international court for war criminals.

In spite of everything is there still freedom, equality, brotherhood?...

The Organization for the Commemoration of the Genocide Victims (SKAO)

Marketing 101: The ANCA and the Armenian Weekly at the Democratic National Convention, August 26, 2008
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter with ANCA Exec. Dir. Aram Hamparian at the Democratic National Convention
Read the Daily Updates at:http://dnc.hairenik.com
The ANCA's Aram Hamparian, Eastern Region Director Karine Birazian and Eastern Region Outreach Coordinator Ani Hagopian have teamed up with Armenian Weekly Editor Khatchig Mouradian to bring you daily coverage from the Democratic National Convention.
Urge Candidates in your area to submit an ANCA Questionnaire

Obama/Biden Strong on Genocide Recognition; US-Armenia Relations
LA Fundraiser to Honor Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Joe Knollenberg

Asbarez Election Coverage: 2008
Candidate David Krikorian (Ind. - OH)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA)
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)

Obama/Biden Strong on Genocide Recognition;
US-Armenia Relations
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's announcement of longtime Armenian American issues supporter, Sen. Joe Biden as his choice for Vice-President. Sen. Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been an outspoken advocate of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide and brings the principled international leadership needed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

"As we stated back in January, Armenian Americans, a community that is deeply committed to a moral U.S. foreign policy and constructive American engagement abroad, respect Senator Biden's leadership and, today, we welcome his addition to the Democratic ticket," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Elected to office in 1972, Senator Biden has been a voice of moral clarity on issues of concern to the Armenian American community including. . . Read more

LA Fundraiser to Honor Rep. Knollenberg
-- Event to be held August 28th

LOS ANGELES--Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus and a staunch supporter of issues of importance to Armenian Americans, will be honored on August 28, at a reception co-hosted by the Armenian National Committee Political Action Committee (ANC-PAC), the U.S.-Armenia Public Affairs Committee (USAPAC) and The California Courier newspaper. Also in attendance will be members of the National Organization of Republican Armenians (NORA.

Congressman Knollenberg, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Michigan, has been an outstanding leader on Armenian issues since he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992, consistently garnering an A+ in the Armenian National Committee of America's Congressional Report Card.

Congressman Knollenberg has been one of the Armenian-American community's staunchest allies in Congress, on occasion even publicly opposing both his party's President and leadership in defense of Armenian issues. He is in the political race of his life, one of the Top 5 most competitive Congressional races in the country, and how our community responds will be watched closely. We encourage all to support this very worthy effort even if you are unable to attend. Read Asbarez News coverage . . .
Published by Anca.org

A Genius Ignored: Jean-Paul Bret MG, February 11, 2008
**This page was automatically translated from French.**

"The hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue."

Francois de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims.

The mayor of Villeurbanne, Mr. Bret, is an extraordinary vision. He decides to list common with the Greens. He asked one of the candidates nominated by the party to "recognize the genocide" Armenian. This person has a Turkish name, it would have called Jeannine Dupont, the same question would have been raised, no doubt. This person runs. It's not enough for Mr. Bret: he asked him to repeat itself with the 'Armenian community "of Villeurbanne. It runs again. It is still not enough for Mr. Bret, which then requires a "recognition" written.

The hunt "Holocaust denier"
Mr. Bret, any person challenging that the fate of Armenians in 1915-1916 could be a genocide is, he says "Holocaust denier" - even if this dispute does not affect the individual suffering and magnitude of various crimes. The slightest suspicion in this regard can cause the severest penalties, the most copies. Mr. Guenter Lewy, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, who fled Nazi Germany, a teenager with his family in 1939, is "Holocaust denier".

"The three pillars of the Armenian claims, to classify the losses incurred during the First World War as genocide fail to substantiate the accusation that the Turkish regime Young organized the massacres. Other alleged evidence of a plan of destruction are no better.

Apply or not the term genocide to events that occurred here almost a century may seem unimportant to many historians, but this application - or not - keeps a great political importance. The Armenians and their supporters, as the Turkish nationalists have made claims and defended their cause the price of a simplification of the historical reality, complex and ignoring crucial evidence, which would lead to a more balanced representation of the past. Academics occupation have based their position on previous work, often ignoring the dishonest interpretation of the primary sources that they included. Against the backdrop of major political issues, both sides have sought to silence those who oppose their views, and to prevent a confrontation of all theses in the presence [1]. "

Historians specializing in Ottoman history, and whose reputation is international, are "all Holocaust deniers, including MM. Bernard Lewis (Jewish), Stanford Jay Shaw (Jewish confession), and Gilles Veinstein (born in 1945, Paris, in a Jewish family).

"For the rest of the [World War I], a large part of the Armenian population was killed or fled. [...] The Armenians claim that these deaths are the result of a genocidal policy implemented by the Ottoman government. […] The minutes of the council of ministers did not confirm this, rather they show the clear intention to investigate and improve a situation where six million people (Turks, Greeks, Arabs, Armenians, Jews and others) were killed by a combination of uprisings and attacks against bandits, and massacres against-massacres, famines and diseases, compounded by sudden foreign invasions, during which all the peoples of the empire, Muslims and non-Muslims, accounted for victims and criminals. […] After the revolution [Russian], a truce was signed between the Republic and the Ottoman Empire, but the Armenian units began a widespread massacre of Turkish peasants still living in the southern Caucasus and eastern Anatolia, where were over 600 000 refugees, in addition to 2 295 705 Turks living in the provinces of Erzurum, Erzincan, Trabzon, Van and Bitlis after the war [2]. "

"1) There were no hate campaign aimed directly Armenians, no demonization comparable to anti-Semitism in Europe.

2) The deportation of Armenians, though widespread, was not total, and in particular it does not worked in two major cities of Istanbul and Izmir.

3) The Turkish actions against Armenians, though disproportionate, were not born from nothing. The fear of an advanced Russian provinces in eastern Ottoman, knowing that many Armenians saw the Russians as their liberators against the Turkish regime and awareness of Armenian revolutionary activities against the Ottoman State: it helped create an atmosphere of anxiety and suspicion, aggravated by the situation increasingly desperate Empire and the neuroses - much usual - wartime. In 1914, the Russians set up four major units of Armenian volunteers and three others in 1915. These units accounted for many Ottoman Armenians, some of whom were well-known public figures.

4) The deportation for criminal reasons, strategic or otherwise, had been practised for centuries in the Ottoman Empire [3]. "

"Second point: there were also many casualties among Muslims throughout the war because of fighting but also actions against them by Armenians, against a backdrop of ethnic rivalry and national levels. If there are forgotten victims, it is them, and Turks today are entitled to denounce the bias of Western public opinion in this regard. Is it because it was only Muslims that they are neglected, or because they implicitly considers that the ultimate success of their peers deprives them of the status of martyrs? How porterions us therefore on the same facts, if things had turned otherwise, if the Armenians had finally founded on the rubble ottomans, a State sustainable Anatolia?

But the last point, critical debate, by its legal and political implications, is whether the massacres perpetrated against the Armenians were on the agenda young Turkish government, if the transfers have been a lure for a systematic extermination, implemented in different ways, but decided, planned, remote at government level, or if the Young Turks were only guilty of recklessly triggered movement which ended in massacres. The mere fact pose the question may seem absurd and outrageous. It is true that state involvement is a prerequisite for full implementation by the Armenian tragedy of the term genocide, as has been forged in 1944 and defined by the Nuremberg Trials and the United Nations Convention of 1948.

We must however admit that there is no evidence so far of government involvement [4]. "

Similarly, be included among the "negationist," Professor Eberhard Jäckel, one of the greatest specialists of Nazism [5], the British government [6], the German government [7], the Spanish government, Israeli Parliament [8], the Bulgarian Parliament [9] and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres [10].

Some minds will say sorry that Mr. Bret has completed a miserable operation politician, whose methods recall sadly trials inquisitoriaux: heretical repents in public, and was excluded from the community if it persists in the heresy. Let us dare to proclaim the truth loud and clear: Mr. Bret is a genius - a genius ignored. Although he never made history studies (like many other "specialists" self on Ottoman history, such as the surgeon Yves Ternon), he managed to unmask the "denial" where it can be found: within scientific research, recognized as such, and in governments of key allies France. This genius can not be praised enough.

The dear friends of Mr. Bret
Just think! It is already facing the hydra of Turkey, but it needs to be more wary of his friends. Mr. Bret effect maintains good relations with the local Armenian Revolutionary Federation (FRA-Dachnaktsoutioun). Because, as surprising as it may seem, this party abroad (or to be quite correct its youth branch) has a section villeurbannaise, as indeed a section of Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and another to Décines located, as Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon. If a reader Turkey has a European section of the PS in the suburbs of Munich, Milan, Edinburgh, to write to the association, which will pass.

The heroic and visionary Mr. Bret manages a tour de force: remain an impeccable democrat, while being friendly local members of the FRA. Indeed, the FRA has "raised the level of terrorism in practice sacrosanct [11]." The list of major terrorist acts of the FRA includes:

the first hostage-taking in the contemporary era, one that took place in the Ottoman Bank (Istanbul), August 26, 1896, with the declared aim (and succeeded, unfortunately, beyond all hope) to promote violence anti, a pretext for intervention even more major powers in the Ottoman Empire [12];

the failed attack against the Sultan Abdul Hamid II, in 1905, which cost the life of the founder Dachnaktsoutioun, Christapor Mikaelian, who died while handling the bomb he was preparing [13];

the assassination of Bedros Kapamaciyan, Armenian mayor of Van, December 10, 1912 [14];

the massacre of many Muslim civilians between 1914 and 1922 [15];

the assassination of Archbishop Leo Tourian, head of the Armenian Church for the Americas, New York, December 24, 1933 [16];

a series of attacks between 1973 and 1985, including the suicide bombing of Lisbon, on July 27, 1983, commemorated each year by the FRA [17];

the double attack on 1 August 1993, against Viktor Polianitchko (top Russian official) and General Ossetian Safonov [18] which has earned the FRA to be prohibited in Armenia until the election of Mr. Kocharian, a his friends, as President of the Republic [19].

The heavy file dachnak party is not confined to these terrorist activities, it also includes activism pronazi some of its most prominent members, activism never disavowed, but rather glorified, until today, by the direction of FRA. Hairenik, the body of the party dachnak the USA, has shown its unwavering support and its full accession to the ideological Nazism. The edition of September 17, 1936 says:

"And came Adolf Hitler, after fighting worthy of Hercules. He spoke of the race the vibrant heart of the Germans, thus splashing fountain engineering nationally. "

A month earlier, on August 19 exactly Hairenik did not hesitate to write:

"It is sometimes difficult to eradicate these harmful elements [Jews], when they have contaminated up to root like a chronic disease, and when it becomes necessary for one people [in this case the Germans, or rather Nazis] to eliminate them by an unusual method, these attempts are regarded as revolutionary. During this surgery, it is natural that the blood flows. Under such conditions, a dictator is seen as a savior. "

Other members of the FRA are not content to support the Third Reich in words: they made him the gift of their person. Thus, General Ganayan (or Kanayan, according to the transcript of the Armenian alphabet in latin alphabet), better known by his nickname, Dro, he formed and led the 812nd battalion of the Armenian Wermacht, whose main result of weapon was the roundup of Jews in the USSR occupied [20]. Dro based since 2000 in a mausoleum, which was inaugurated by President Kocharian [21]. In an editorial in April 2001, Hairenik range General Dro among the "heroes" of the Armenian people [22], thus demonstrating its perfect continuity with the line pronazie 1930s. Mr. Vahan Hovhannesian, FRA candidate in the presidential election in Armenia, also considers Dro as a "hero" [23].

It goes without saying that Mr. Bret has asked all his friends from the FRA to recognize and condemn, then orally, in writing, all his crimes. It goes without saying that Mr. Bret is necessarily also "committed" to the "recognition" of the "Armenian genocide" for "recognition" of many crimes of the FRA, the years 1890 to the present day.

How? You do not read, heard or seen this in the media, but then not at all? This can only be a failure on their part. So, a genius like Mr. Bret can not ignore such facts.

[1] Guenter Lewy, "Revisiting the Armenian Genocide," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2005.

[2] Stanford Shaw and Jay Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, New York / London, Cambridge University Press, Volume II, revised edition, 1978, pp. 315-325 (based on Ottoman documents).

[3] "The explanation by Bernard Lewis," The World, 1 January 1994.

[4] Gilles Veinstein, "Three questions about a massacre," The History, in April 1995.

[5] "But if we take into account the fact that Turks and Kurds had also deplored heavy losses and, admittedly, after more than fighting the disease, about one third of British soldiers Indian and taken prisoner by the Turks in 1916 have died, it encourages strongly suggests that no intention exterminatrice has existed. "Eberhard Jäckel," Genozid oder nicht? "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 22, 2006.

[6] "The evidence is not sufficiently established to convince us that the events should be classified as genocide under the United Nations Convention of 1948 on genocide which, anyway, is not ' retroactive application. The interpretation of events in eastern Anatolia in 1915-1916 is still the subject of a genuine debate among historians. "Lady Scott (Foreign Office), statement on behalf of the British government before the House of Lords, 2001.

[7] "The federal government believes that consideration of massacres occurred in 1915-1916 can not be by definition a matter of history and that it therefore relates only to historical research and the two countries namely Turkey and Armenia. "Response by German Minister of Foreign Affairs to a parliamentary question in March 2001.

[8] "Israeli Parliament rejects bill alleged genocide," Turkish Daily News, March 16, 2007.

[9] "Bulgarian lawmakers reject Armenian" genocide "claims", Turkish Daily News, 18 January 2008.

[10] "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing comparable to the Holocaust took place. The Armenians have endured is a tragedy but not a genocide. "Shimon Peres, maintenance Turkish Daily News, April 10, 2001.

[11] Gaïdz Minassian, Armenian War and Terrorism, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2002, p. 262.

[12] Francois Georgeon, Abdülhamit II, Sultan Caliph, Paris, Fayard, 2003, pp. 299-300; Stanford Shaw and Jay Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, op. cit., pp. 203-205.

[13] Gaïdz Minassian, Armenian War and Terrorism, op. , pp. 2.

[14] Justin McCarthy, Esat Arslan, Cemalettin Taskiran and Ömer Turan, The Armenian Rebellion at Van, Salt Lake City, University Press of Utah, 2006, pp. 164-165.

[15] Justin McCarthy and others, The Armenian Rebellion at Van, op. cit., pp. 233-251.

[16] Mr. Michael Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People". A Study of Contemporary Armenian Terrorism, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1986, p. 55.

[17] Gaïdz Minassian, Armenian War and Terrorism, op. cit., pp. 21 to 114, especially pp. 88-93 on the attack in Lisbon.

[18] "A representative of Boris Yeltsin killed in the North Caucasus", Le Monde, August 3, 1993; Gaïdz Minassian, Armenian War and Terrorism, op. , pp. 262. It is true that the two victims have not failed to global humanism is the least we can write, but they deserved a trial, not an ambush.

[19] The ban was also motivated by the relationship between the FRA and part of the Russian far-right, led by Mr. Jirinovsky: Gaïdz Minassian, Armenian War and Terrorism, op. , pp. 241.

[20] Sedat Laçiner, "The Second World War: Armenian-Nazi Collaboration?", The Journal of Turkish Weekly, May 21, 2005. http://www.turkishweekly.net/comments.php? ID = 1133

[21] "Dro, pro-Nazi become heroes," Humanity, April 19, 1999. See also the official website of the FRA: http://www.arf.am/English/ARFNews/1999/199902.htm

[22] http://www.hairenik.com/armenianweekly/april/editorial001.html

[23] http://www.armtown.com/news/en/yer/20080129/494/

Turkey's Caucasus Boat Likely To Sail, Emine Kart Ankara Today's Zaman, 24 August 2008
Turkey is in a bid to be the shipyard for the construction of a boat called "Caucasia Stability and Cooperation Platform," with five sailors on the boat having "deep-frozen conflicts" with each other.

Views regarding the proposed platform differ, with some suggesting that this boat is destined to sink even before setting sail for the first time, while others say that it may be a good idea for those five sailors -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey -- to be on their own in the high seas so they can put their heads together to discuss their issues with each other. Ankara's proposal for the platform came after a regional crisis erupted following a Georgian military offensive in its Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month. In the first half of August, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid successive visits to Moscow and Tbilisi and earlier this week traveled to Baku to promote and gain support for the proposed platform. Both Georgian and Russian leaders said they would welcome the idea, while a joint statement released by Erdogan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev said Baku had approached the proposal "positively."

Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a state of enmity due to Armenia's continued occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan, and observers say a regional alliance including both countries as members may be difficult to implement. With Armenian troops still in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijani leadership is unlikely to warm to any sort of cooperation with Yerevan.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Aliyev, Erdogan did not refer to Armenia and said instead Turkey was willing to further cooperation with Azerbaijan and Georgia for peace and stability in the Caucasus. He also said the Nagorno-Karabakh problem should be resolved on the basis of principles of international law and through peaceful ways. Aliyev thanked Turkey for its supportive stance.

Ahead of his departure for Baku on Aug. 20, however, Erdogan disclosed Ankara's eagerness for Armenia's participation in a "Caucasus alliance," as he said it would greatly increase regional stability. He said the form of talks with Armenia would be set following Babacan's consultations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In the meantime, as of Aug. 16 and 17, Babacan initiated a hectic telephone diplomacy, having talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; EU term president France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; Council of Europe term president Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt; and Alexander Stubb, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chairman-in-office and Finnish foreign minister.

His talks focusing on Turkey's proposal took place before he departed for Brussels to participate in a key meeting of NATO foreign ministers, who had emergency talks to reconsider the alliance's ties with Russia after the conflict in Georgia.

As of Thursday this week, remarks by Georgian Ambassador to Turkey Grigol Mgaloblishvili, who firmly said that his country would not participate in the proposed cooperation platform for the Caucasus as long as Russia doesn't entirely withdraw its forces from Georgian soil, led to curiosity over whether Tbilisi's initial welcome to the idea was just out of courtesy.

In an initial reaction to the Turkish plans to involve Armenia in the Caucasus talks, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said Yerevan welcomed the Turkish initiative. "Armenia was always in favor of dialogue and talks, particularly on the issues concerning cooperation and security in our region. The Turkish prime minister's statement on the intention to start talks with Armenia on this agenda could be welcomed," he said in a statement in response to a question posed by Today's Zaman on Wednesday.

It is not clear what shape the planned talks with Armenia will take. Turkey severed its ties with Armenia in the early 1990s in protest of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to official Turkish policy, normalization of ties depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, the termination of the Armenian policy of supporting claims of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire and an official endorsement by Armenia of the current borders between the two countries.

As of Friday afternoon Babacan, as expected, initiated a telephone conversation with Russia's Lavrov and spoke of the proposed platform.

"During the conversation, Mr. Babacan conveyed our concrete proposals concerning the Caucasia Stability and Cooperation Platform to the Russian side," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Özügergin told the Anatolia news agency. The two ministers decided to meet next week within this framework, Özügergin said, noting that the two also decided to hold another meeting in early September.

Russia's 'one package for all'

If this platform can at least bring together in Ankara the foreign ministers of the two sides -- Georgia and Russia, who say that they will not meet with each other for the time being -- then it will take an important step on the way to building peace and stability in the Caucasus, believes Associate Professor Kas?m Kamer.

South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh are all "frozen conflicts," Kamer, a Caucasia expert of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/ USAK), first of all noted, while speaking with Sunday's Zaman.

"OSCE [the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] is ineffective in regards to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, since Russia is one of the co-chairs in the OSCE Minsk Group. If such a Caucasia platform is established, Russia's participation in this body is inevitable, and if Turkey can get Russia and Georgia together under the same roof, then this will be a success by itself," Kamer said.

"Both Russia and Georgia do not want to give up South Ossetia and Abkhazia at the same time. However there may be a bargaining on the two regions, while Georgia will definitely be very stubborn, as it considers both of the regions its own soil. On the other side, there is a deep lack of confidence vis-à-vis Russia, a lack of confidence which makes expectation of great consequences from this platform in the short run very difficult. Russia's main goal was to topple Saakashvili with its recent move; it would either walk to Tbilisi in order to enter the capital or it would force Georgia to give major concessions, like withdrawing half of its troops from the disputed regions. Nevertheless, none took place, and it seems Saakashvili will remain in power for a considerable time. Thus Russia couldn't reach its eventual goal," he explained.

The Nagorno-Karabakh factor

When asked about the possibility of any improvement in resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the event of their sitting around the same table within the framework of the proposed platform, Kamer underlined that Armenia's acceptance of Turkey's mediation in the international legal sense doesn't seem possible, since Turkey is a party in this dispute. On the other hand, the same thing applies to Russia's mediation from the point of view of Azerbaijan, as according to Azerbaijan, Russia is a party in this dispute, he said.

"What could happen is this: The parties come together around the same table, and they can take steps regarding secondary issues related to Nagorno-Karabakh, for example the refugee issue. In the long run, Russia has a tendency to introduce the issues of Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia in one package, which will not be acceptable for a large majority of the international community because the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is entirely different from all others, since Armenia is de facto on Azerbaijan soil via invading Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence and its recognition by the world, Russia has become increasingly aggressive concerning the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. But it is impossible to put these issues in the same file -- neither geographically nor historically [can this be done]. Even looking at the significant differences of population between Kosovo and these regions make this point clear," Kamer said.

"We also have this triangle of Caucasia, the United States and Turkey. The US is actually looking favorably at all kinds of moves of rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. Yet a significant step by Armenia is not easy to be taken in the short term due to the clout of the hard-liner Karabakh clan with the leadership of the country. As a matter of fact, Turkey's conditions for reopening the border and re-establishing diplomatic relations are quite moderate," he added.

Does anyone have a better idea?

According to retired Ambassador Özdem Sanberk, a former Foreign Ministry undersecretary and an esteemed foreign policy analyst, Turkish diplomacy has taken a very appropriate step that deserves appreciation -- via maturation of the idea of the Caucasia platform. Sanberk also has a strong conviction that this initiative is destined to "take off," given that Russia, one of the two countries key to rendering the initiative successful, has approached Turkey's idea positively. The other is the United States, which should definitely not be excluded from this process, he says.

"If someone has a better idea, then s/he should come forward and tell us this better idea," Sanberk told Sunday's Zaman, saying that he could not agree with those analysts and politicians who suggest that Turkey's proposed platform is "a stillborn idea."

"Such an initiative could not be taken without having Russia's consent, and Turkey gained this consent. Nobody takes initiatives with consequences or success being taken for granted, as there is always a calculated risk. When Turkey initiated the Black Sea Economic Cooperation back in the early 1990s, the same kinds of comments were made, suggesting that the idea was not realistic at all. But it took off. Later it lost its vigorousness due to neglect by the governments of the time, starting from 1996," Sanberk said, while bringing to mind a similar idea for constituting a Caucasia cooperation platform put forward in 1999 by the then-President Süleyman Demirel.

"Unfortunately the coalition government led by late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit and the next president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, neglected the idea put forward by Demirel purely on political concerns, since it was not first floated by them, and it failed before it was born," Sanbek continued.

As for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) coming to power for the first time in 2002, it handled the European Union membership process as a priority and made a very appropriate decision by doing so, Sanberk said, adding however, he wished the AK Party government had also made the Caucasus platform idea a priority and had matured it simultaneously with the other priorities, such as playing a key role in the Middle East.

"When governments give clear signals about their priorities, the people of Turkey read this message and act accordingly and make the necessary sacrifices falling on their shoulders. In the case of the absence of clear signals and messages, extreme ideas such as Turkey joining the Shanghai Five or its establishing a new front with Iran and Russia gain currency in the town," the veteran diplomat said, highlighting the influence of foreign policy messages on domestic politics as well.

Turning back to the proposed Caucasia platform, Sanberk said that today's circumstances were not sustainable for Russia, although it had manipulated very good chess maneuvers in the recent incidents by showing off its military capacity at a time when the European continent's security capacity was overstretched.

"But now it needs sustainable power, and it cannot rely forever and solely upon the ups and downs in natural gas prices to maintain its power. This should be well explained by Turkey to Russia, with which it has a strategic relationship. Moscow should understand that the Soviet Union cannot be re-established and that the current situation is not in its interests, either. As for the Georgian ambassador's remarks, they are not surprising, Tbilisi is naturally trying to maintain its position at this phase.

"I find comments suggesting that a new cold war era has started as exaggerated, but it is obvious that the cards are being redistributed. And that this is happening -- putting forward constructive and positive ideas -- as Ankara has been doing, is extremely good," Sanberk said. "The fact that this idea has not been rejected spells that it will be able to stand on its own feet. Even if these five countries come together and set a date for their second meeting without making a concrete decision over disputed issues, this will be a real success."
‘EU, US should be well informed'

As of Tuesday, during a briefing at the US State Department's Foreign Press Center on the "Situation in Georgia and Implications for the Caucasus," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's proposal for a Caucasus cooperation platform appeared to have received a lukewarm response from the State Department's top diplomat for Eurasian and Caucasian affairs.

"I must say I was surprised," Matt Bryza, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency at the briefing. "I hadn't been briefed that that was going to happen. We have a partnership with Turkey on the Caucasus, and I presume that we'll be able to work together very closely now with our allies in Turkey since we do have clearly shared interests, not to mention values, throughout the Caucasus with our Turkish ally."

According to Associate Professor Kas?m Kamer, the United States would like to actively take place in such a platform, and those remarks reflect their disappointment over the perception they got as if they were being excluded on purpose from this platform by Turkey.

"Russia's actions in Gori led to an environment of cold war, and Washington was actually not expecting such action by Russia, which fuelled already existing doubts over Moscow's respect for Georgia's sovereignty. All of these facts might have led to such a distanced manner by the United States; however, in the long term, this platform is also in the interest of the United States," Kamer, of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO/ USAK), told Sunday's Zaman.

Retired Ambassador Özdem Sanberk, a former Foreign Ministry undersecretary, was actively involved in 2001 in the arrangement and conduct of series of conferences under the title "Seeking Stability in the Caucasus," initiated by the I.stanbul-based Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV).

The late Ismail Cem, then foreign minister, had also attended those conferences -- during which establishment of a Caucasus Stability Pact was discussed.

"Then we were discussing the involvement of the United States and Iran in the issue; today there is no US aspect of the issue at the time being, but Washington should definitely be persuaded to effectively support this initiative," Sanberk told Sunday's Zaman.

"The Western world in general, for example via NATO, and the United States in particular should be appropriately briefed that their interests in the region will be protected. In this regard, Mr. Babacan's telephone talks are very positive. Yet I believe that the level should be upgraded with Mr. Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan holding talks with EU term president France's leader Nicolas Sarkozy as well as with the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana," the veteran diplomat added.

Approached by Sunday's Zaman on Friday and invited to comment on the Turkish proposal, US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow first of all praised Turkey's efforts as a regional player.

"As we have seen in the recent past, Turkey has played an important role in the region, and we hope that Turkey's new efforts to promote stability in the South Caucasus will be in harmony with other international efforts to promote peace, prosperity and stability in the Caucasus -- including through NATO, the EU and the OSCE," Schalow told Sunday's Zaman. "And we look forward to consulting with Ankara on its Caucasus platform concept," she added.

The Dashnak Party Will Demonstrate, In The Event Of A Visit By Abdullah Gul, 24 August 2008, by Stéphane / ArmeNews
AutoTranslated From French

The Turkish President Abdullah Gul will face demonstrations if he accepts the invitation of his Armenian counterpart to visit Yerevan and follow the next match between the national football teams from both countries said Thursday, August 21 the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).

The Dashnaktsutyun, which is represented in the coalition cabinet of Tigran Sarkisian has traditionally been a tougher line on Turkey and made no secret of his disapproval about the invitation.

Aghvan Vartanian has reaffirmed its plans regarding demonstrations against what would be the first ever visit to Armenia by a Turkish head of state.

"If President Gul visited Armenia to monitor the game, there will be meetings, protests and appeals against Turkey," Vartanian said at a press conference. "But this will not be organized only by the Dashnaktsutyun." "We have problems with Turkey and the solutions of these problems relate to the future rather than the past," he said.

Mr. Vartanian has to understand that Serge Sarkissian can not force the Dashnaktsutyun to reconsider its plans. "The Dashnaktsutyun has always been an independent force in politics and expressed its positions on various issues regardless of what others thought," he said.

ABC1 Program: Return To Armenia, In Search Of Meaning, AUGUST 28, 8.30pm
THIS intriguing story's dark background is the Armenian genocide of 1915. This is the genocide denied by its alleged perpetrator, Turkey.

Joanna Kambourian's family is one among millions for whom the repercussions continue.

The graphic artist from coastal NSW is the troubled subject of the first episode in the new series of Family Footsteps. She is the daughter of a Dutch mother and an Armenian-American father. But it was her Armenian great-grandfather on whom events turned. As conditions deteriorated around him he had to choose between saving his family by betraying his culture or accepting the high risk of their very cruel deaths.

He chose life. Now Joanna wants to return to Armenia to see if time has changed the harsh judgment.

``The worst thing about going to Armenia would be that the Armenian people do not forgive my family for the past,'' she says.

Her father is encouraging. ``Here's a culture you are part of, kid, go do it,'' he says.

Two weeks in the village of Ohanavan is every bit the cultural bootcamp you may imagine, although she is warmly embraced by host Tehmineh, a teacher; her husband Ara, an orchardist; and his mother, Jemma, also a teacher.

Joanna struggles to contribute by working in the bakery, making lavash bread using centuries-old techniques, eats unpalatable local delicacies and even allows a rooster to be sacrificed for her host family to confer a blessing on her.

In fact, this is only one of their gifts; the other is their hospitality and care for her, signified by assigning her Jemma's room, the warmest in the house, being next to the stove.

Joanna's winter visit inevitably means we see Armenia at its bleakest and it's hard to resist a shake of the head when she joins in a celebration in Tehmineh's classroom, staged because heating has been restored to the school after two years.

The more conventional upsides are learning to dance with the women, touring the market of the nearby capital, Yerevan, and visiting the vicinity of Mt Ararat, where Noah's ark landed, according to the Bible story. Beyond it lies the village from which her family came, today part of Turkey.

It's all part of the search for her Armenian identity and some comfort to take back to her father, so her visits to the genocide museum and a local historian are powerful moments.

``I owe it to my family, my ancestry, to find a way to put a lot of their feelings of grief and shame and loss to rest, but I'm not sure how that is going to go,'' she says.

The family could not have chosen a better emissary.

Source: Weekend Australian, August 23, 2008

ANCA: Obama/Biden Democratic Presidential Ticket Strong On Genocide Recognition; U.S.-Armenia Relations, August 23, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) welcomed Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's announcement of longtime Armenian American issues supporter, Sen. Joe Biden as his choice for Vice-President. Sen. Biden, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been an outspoken advocate of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide and brings the principled international leadership needed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

"As we stated back in January, Armenian Americans, a community that is deeply committed to a moral U.S. foreign policy and constructive American engagement abroad, respect Senator Biden's leadership and, today, we welcome his addition to the Democratic ticket," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

Elected to office in 1972, Senator Biden has been a voice of moral clarity on issues of concern to the Armenian American community including:

* Support for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, dating back to his work with Senator Bob Dole to pass the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.J.Res.212) in 1990, and stronger U.S.-Armenia relations.

* A perennial supporter of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, adopted in 1992, which restricted U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan due to its ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.

* In May, 2007, Senator Biden, in response to a question from the Los Angeles Times editorial board about the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.106), said: "I support it, and the reason is simple: I have found in my experience that you cannot have a solid relationship with a country based on fiction. It occurred. It occurred." Senator Biden has been cosponsor of every resolution reaffirming the Armenian Genocide introduced in the Senate over the past 20 years.

* In connection with his leadership in pressing the Administration to explain its firing of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, and the controversy over the subsequent nomination of Dick Hoagland in 2007, Senator Biden secured from the Administration a number of commitments, among them that:

-- The next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia will meet extensively with representatives of the Armenian American community before and during their tenure in Yerevan.

-- The State Department will brief Members of Congress on its efforts to promote Turkish recognition of the real history of the Armenian Genocide.

-- U.S. ambassadors to Yerevan and Ankara would exchange visits for the purpose of ending Turkey's economic blockade of Armenia.

* He authored a resolution (S.Res.65), which was adopted in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by unanimous consent, to honor journalist Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in Turkey last year for writing about the Armenian Genocide.

* In July, 2008, Sen. Biden reiterated his commitment to securing U.S. and Turkish recognition of the Armenian Genocide in connection with the nomination of U.S. Ambassador to Armenian Marie Yovanovitch. "Recognition by the United States of the Armenian Genocide is not the final goal. The real goal is the recognition of Turkey - of the Turkish Government - of the Armenian Genocide and the establishment of a common Turkish-Armenian understanding of the events and tragedy that took place," stated Sen. Biden.

The ANCA endorsed Senator Obama in the Democratic primaries and will announce its general election endorsement decision following the Democratic and Republican primaries. The ANC of Iowa had endorsed Sen. Joe Biden in his presidential election bid prior to the Iowa primary earlier this year.

A Voice From The Other Black Sea By Merve Erol, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News
August 23, 2008

Sevval Sam says death is the greatest of all gifts given to humans. 'But the fear of death is the biggest punishment. There is no such thing as immortality. Thank God there isn’t. I don't want to carry on in this life for too long. We become old and worn out. It is not easy to carry pain or all sorts of suffering'

Sevval Sam has exceeded expectations with her new “Black Sea” album. Some of her songs will make you cry while others will bring you to the dance floor. With roots in the Black Sea, Sam's great-grandparents were from Crimea and Thessaloniki. She says she's a bit of Kurd too. “My mother, father, big sister, we all sing different songs,” she said. “We inherited a sense of rhythm and talent for language. I performed songs in Hems,in, Georgian, Laz and Greek languages in a concert. It was my first; I was stunned to sing before 5,000 people.”

In folk songs there is always migration from Crimea, let's say, to Istanbul…

Folk songs have their own stories. In these lands there has never been a single nation dwelling here. Migrations, pain, massacres, exchanges took place. People are telling their own story along the way while they were being dragged from place to place. It is almost impossible to be a pure Turk in Turkey. But we do not pay attention to this and we use this against each other, turn against each other. But we should perceive this as our richness, our diversity and enjoy it.

Three songs in the album are from Hasan Tunç of Maçka. What kind of a man was he?He sings and plays single “kemençe”, small three string violin. His hit composition “Ben Seni Sevdig(umi” is 50-year-old. But a song never gets old. The finale of the “Dertliyim Kederliyim” is also nice.

The song ‘Ahmedum' is from Nokta Ana, who is she?

She is a mother who lost her son at the end of the Crimean War. And the song “Ahmedum” is for him; it is a threnody. No other woman has voiced it before. There are a few glottal voices in the piece. People from the Black Sea check to make sure I do them appropriately. Then they smile and give a nod. (She laughs).

Speaking of the Black Sea, it unfortunately brings to mind the type of people who reject diversity, a type of fascist…

I wouldn't know if this could be a regional reaction. But I think the bottom line is being uneducated and ignorant. There are two tendencies directing people: One is nationalism which is the sense of belongingness; people who fail to be individuals unite under a single flag and then think they are valuable. The other one is religion. In addition to these two elements, it is said that regional factors are also influential. “I am from the Black Sea and I use my revolver whenever…” This is not right. This is the result of miseducation. Our culture, song, art and intellect should come to the fore.

There are of course other people in the Black Sea, not only the murderers of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink. There are people like Kâz?m Koyuncu in the Black Sea…

Of course, there are. For years, we were cheated by whim-whams; they said this is music from the Black Sea. These songs were built on a nonsense techno rhythm. But one day Kaz?m came out and proved to us that the music of Black Sea is something else. We cannot hurt the pride of the Black Sea just because of ignorant people like Dink's murderer. There are so many brilliant people in the Black Sea.

Kâzim showed us even after his death that he does not need a body to change some things. A culture center was opened for his memory, his songs are still around, and his ideas are being discussed. Kâz?m showed us how dirty politics are, what friendship means and why the environment needs protection. I think he wanted to say “Here is everything you need. Now it is your turn to make something out of this” and then left us. I usually cry for people left behind. That thin, slightly humpbacked little man turned into a prodigy on the stage. And it was worth seeing this child of the Black Sea on that stage. He has gone and I still am crying for us.

Your album, the Black Sea, is like a dry shot of vodka; its plain and simple arrangements relax us.

Yes. I don't belong to any music genre but I have my own way of expressing music. I like simplicity. Music should be made without rushing into anything or without trying a chaos of different motifs.

The album “Istanbul's Secrets” hit the shelves last year in Turkey. You sing Spanish, English and French songs in that album. How could you describe that type of music?

It was an important experiment for me. Bristol-style trip-hop, a fusion group it was. For the album different artists gathered from different places around the world including singers and musicians from Portugal, France and Latin America. I sang with Benjamin Escoriza from Radio Tarifa. He wants to use the Black Sea tune “Ben Seni Sevdig(umi” in his album. Now I am back and forth to Britain for the second “Istanbul's Secret's” album. It was like a sudden explosion for me after a very long time. I am preparing a fourth album in 1.5 years. (She laughs).

What is your favorite Black Sea joke?
Actually I don't like jokes; I prefer true stories. But there is this that I laughed a lot. You hit the road in the Black Sea region, you spent some time on the road, and you keep going and going, then suddenly see a sign reading “Village Breakfast, 500 m back.” (She laughs).

Abdullah Gul Supports Armenia’s Membership In Stability & Partnership Platform Of Caucasus Organization By. H. Chaqrian,

Foreign Ministry of Turkey Orders to Minister for Sports to attend the Football Game in Yerevan

Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan made his first official statement about the Partnership Platform of Caucasus organization initiative on Auguts, then took measures to popularize it during his visits to Moscow, Tbilisi and Baku. He suggested Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to join the organization and emphasized the importance of Armenia’s participation in it.

Georgia and Azerbaijan gladly accepted the offer, while Russia approached it with certain awareness. First of all the idea was not seriously accepted by Russian diplomats, and secondly they were aware of the United States standing behind the initiative. However, after the official Washington opposed the idea of establishing another political structure in the region, Russia revised its positions and expressed willingness to support the new union under the condition of having the leading role in it.

The Turkish public is not certain about the Stability and Partnership Platform of Caucasus, moreover about Armenia’s membership. Therefore serious debate started in Turkey regarding the reality of the idea in general and the issues of Armenia’s membership in the future organization.

Professor of Marmara University Busra Ersanli, as repored in August 21 Bianet release, said that there is no proper background for creation of such a union, taking into account the deep controversies between Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The professor also noted that Russia will not bear being an outsider in the organization, and, although welcoming the idea today, Russia will never permit a NATO or USA-oriented structure in the territories of its vital interest.

Eni Cag, commenting upon this initiative, cited the statement of National Movement Party Vice-President Aktay Vural, who said, "Let Armenia stop the occupation of Karabakh and resign the groundless claims about the Genocide. Turkey must not be ensnared with fake ideas, for matters of stability and peace, Armenia must give up the policy of enmity against Ankara and Baku".

Head of MotherlandParty Ugur Mumcun added, "the controversies with Armenia are not of emotional matter. There are serious claims of territories, and it is ridiculous to make an alliance with that country".

In the same release Eni Cag qualified the debatable initiative of Erdogan as a task from the EU. However, the idea was welcomed by Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, in this way or that. Erdogan, as reported by Radikal, ordered Foreign Minister Ali Babacan to start talks with Yerevan regarding the Stability and Partnership Platform of Caucasus initiative. Babacan is also to ask Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to become a mediator in the expected Armenia-Turkey talks.

As far as it is known, the negotiations are to be started in September after the UN General Assembly Session, in case the Babacan-Lavrov meeting has positive results.

The idea of inviting Armenia to the Stability and Partnership Platform of Caucasus was also approved by President of Turkey Abdullah Gul. He said that first of all Armenia is to be invited because of being a Southern Caucasian states and secondly, in his opinion, Armenia’s membership will help to settle the controversies with Turkey.

But the anxiety of the Turkish authorities is not only about the Stability and Partnership Platform of Caucasus. The question of Abdullah Gul’s attendance to the Armenia-Turkey game remains unresolved.

In connection with this matter the Government of Turkey sent the following message to the President’s administartion, "Although President Abdullah Gul’s visit shall have a great importance and positive consequences, the Armenian side has not made yet the gesture necessary to make the visit real. Therefore, the most reasonable neutral move is to send Sports Minister Murad Baseskioglu to watch the game".

Armenia Welcomes Turkey Plan For Talks On Regional Security Interfax, Aug 20 2008, Russia
Armenia welcomes Turkey's plans to start talks on regional cooperation and security.

"Armenia has always advocated dialog and talks, especially over issues of cooperation and security in our region," Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandian said in answer to questions from the Turkish newspaper Zaman.

"We welcome the Turkish prime minister's statement on the plans to start talks with Armenia on these issues," Nalbandian said, according to the Armenian Foreign Ministry's press service.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan said that the events in South Ossetia necessitate the creation of a platform of peace and cooperation in the Caucasus region.

Tbilisi and Moscow spoke positively of the Turkish initiative. The Turkish prime minister flew to Baku on Wednesday for talks with the Azeri president.

Meanwhile, Armenia and Turkey do not maintain diplomatic relations, and the Armenian-Turkish border has been closed since 1993 on Armenia's initiative.

Is A Caucasus Alliance Possible?, Today's Zaman, Aug 22 2008
Turkey is continuing its talks with countries in the Caucasus for a proposed Caucasus stability and cooperation platform, which was proposed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a regional crisis erupted following a Georgian military offensive in the Russian-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month.

The project will start as an economic cooperation platform among countries in the region and will tackle issues of conflict, as well. Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are hoped to become members of the initiative. But with Armenia and Azerbaijan in a state of enmity due to Armenia's continued occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in Azerbaijan, observers say a regional alliance including both countries as members may be difficult to implement.

Sabah daily's Erdal Safak says such projects are of great importance for the Caucasus, as through them the countries in the region will find common ground on which to cooperate in a number of areas, including energy, transportation, infrastructure, education and health. "If the countries in the region do not stand for their joint future, the Caucasus will not be able to enjoy peace, security and prosperity," he writes. He stresses that the membership of Iran in the planned platform is of great importance. "Iran should be included in the platform both due to the position of parts of its territories in the Caucasus and due to the fact that the alliance will be of direct concern for Iran. The platform should be supported by a number of internationally recognized organizations, such as the EU, the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] OSCE, the [Black Sea Economic Cooperation] BSEC and the World Bank," he explains, adding that the platform shouldn't assume the duty of solving frozen conflicts in the region.

Milliyet's Fikret Bila notes that the planned alliance in the Caucasus is worth paying attention to for the countries in the region. "It was President Abdullah Gul who gave the first message to Caucasian countries last year regarding the proposed platform. He called on Armenia to normalize its relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan and participate in giant energy projects in the region," he recalls. He also writes that Caucasian states should stop being used like pawns by the US and Russia and should exert their utmost efforts toward becoming more prosperous and peaceful through energy projects. "Turkey's call for an alliance in the region is very important for all Caucasian countries. Turkey may become a leader in a project for peace and development in the region by persuading all regional leaders to contribute to the alliance. War will bring no good to the Caucasus, as it didn't bring any happiness or wealth to the Middle East," Bila concludes.

Radikal's Ismet Berkan, on the other hand, is not hopeful that the planned platform will prove effective. "The platform will include Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. It will aim to make these five countries discuss matters with one another. To me, making these countries sit around a table is a great success. But I don't believe the platform will even succeed in this. I don't expect Russia to discuss the Caucasian issue with any other country. On the one hand, if Russia decides to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Caucasus will be dragged into greater chaos. And, on the other, it will not allow any other country to intervene to help solve the problem. Thus, it is of great importance to closely follow developments in the region," he states.

A Brief History Of: Former Soviet Republics, By Gilbert Cruz, TIME, Aug 21 2008
Since the breakup of The Soviet Union in 1991, its former republics have attempted to take different political directions. Most came together in the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), which is still led by Russia. The Baltic nations joined NATO and the European Union in 2004--a course Ukraine and Georgia have flirted with recently--while the resource-rich Central Asian republics have remained largely loyal to Moscow. But after the invasion of Georgia, former members of the U.S.S.R. face an inescapable truth: you can't run from geography. Try as they might to move closer to Europe, many are now nervously eyeing a resurgent Russia on their borders.

1. BELARUS 2. UKRAINE 3. MOLDOVA Russia has held a grudge against Ukraine since the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution. Belarus has kept particularly close ties with Moscow, while Russian troops are currently stationed in a semidetached Moldovan territory.

1. GEORGIA 2. ARMENIA 3. AZERBAIJAN A vital region for the West, which has high hopes for an oil pipeline through Azerbaijan. George W. Bush visited ally Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia in 2005. Tiny Armenia, which borders Turkey and Iran, readily accepts Russian protection.

1. KAZAKHSTAN 2. UZBEKISTAN 3. TURKMENISTAN 4. KYRGYZSTAN 5. TAJIKISTAN These states are wedged between Russia and China. Several are resource-rich and endure varying levels of autocratic rule; a few have let NATO use land for bases.

1. ESTONIA 2. LATVIA 3. LITHUANIA Thriving, technologically advanced democracies with prickly relationships with Russia. Estonia blames Moscow for major cyberattacks in 2007.

Books: Help Is On The Way, By Joshua Muravchik, Wall Street Journal, Aug 21 2008
Most international-law experts have long agreed that war is permissible against a government that commits or tolerates atrocities against its own subjects. This rule does not apply to instances of run-of-the-mill repression, but it does apply to abuses of extraordinary severity. The government at fault is deemed to have forfeited its claim to sovereignty, and other states may send troops to stanch the bloodshed. Nobody has defined where the threshold lies, but it was obviously crossed -- to take two notorious examples -- in the case of Hitler's Holocaust and Pol Pot's maniacal regime in Cambodia.

The problem is that no one lifted a finger in response to either horror. While international law rests in part on intuitive justice, it also rests on custom. What have states actually done by way of humanitarian intervention? Not much. Decades back, the case often cited in legal literature was the landing of Western forces in the Congo in the 1960s to protect Europeans caught in the middle of a multi-sided civil war. But rescuing whites stranded in African chaos made an uninspiring example. A more promising precedent was Tanzania's invasion of Uganda in 1978 to oust Idi Amin. Tanzania, however, insisted that its action was taken in response to territorial violations by Ugandan forces, not to Amin's murderous domestic record.

In short, the case book on "humanitarian intervention" seemed hopelessly thin until the 1990s. In the decade between the Cold War and the war on terror, global diplomacy focused on a series of crises ripe for humanitarian intervention: Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo. In these cases, however, the performance of outsiders was decidedly mixed. The firmest, timeliest response came in Kosovo, where the atrocities were fewest; the least effort was made in Rwanda, where they were greatest. In Bosnia, intervention began too late; in Somalia, it ended too soon.

Still, acceptance of the idea grew, and in 2005 and 2006 the United Nations enshrined in various resolutions what it called the "responsibility to protect." With "Freedom's Battle," Princeton historian Gary J. Bass buttresses the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention by reacquainting us with three 19th-century episodes in which military invasions were undertaken to rescue populations subjected to terrible abuses. He describes the naval efforts of Britain, France and Russia in support of the Greeks fighting for independence from Turkey in the 1820s; the suppression by France of communal warfare between Druse and Maronites in Lebanon and Syria in the 1860s; and Russia's defense of Bulgarians against Ottoman "horrors" in the 1870s.

Mr. Bass relates these episodes masterfully, providing a wealth of detail in fluid prose. Although he aims to make a point -- about the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention -- his accounts are full and fair-minded. "Freedom's Battle" is a pleasure for the learning one can take away from it and for the opportunity it provides to reflect on how much things have changed since the 19th century, and how much, in certain ways, they have not.

The battles between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon -- eventually resolved not only by outside force but also by a power-sharing arrangement representing each sect -- seem painfully familiar. So does the assiduity with which Russia played every humanitarian crisis solely for its own aggrandizement. The poet Byron was the apotheosis of philhellenism, journeying to Greece to join its fight for independence, and his disappointment in the real-live Greeks he met sounds like so many contemporary encounters of Westerners with the Third World.

Preludes to current debates can be heard in Thomas Jefferson's forecast of universal democracy as well as in John Quincy Adams's rejection of a donation for Greek relief on the ground that he would rather see the money spent "at home." One feels a frisson of a contrary kind in reading the scale of the massacres that galvanized the conscience of the 19th century -- death merely by the thousands. So innocent seem those days before slaughters by the millions.

I am not sure, however, that Mr. Bass's story leads to the conclusion he aims for. He claims that "the tradition of humanitarian intervention once ran deep in world politics." But his accounts offer ambiguous evidence. In every case the victims were Christians mistreated by Muslims, and in each case those urging rescue appealed directly to Christian solidarity. Napoleon III, preparing to send soldiers to Syria to protect the Maronites, invoked the glory of the Crusades. How far is all this from rescuing white people in Africa?

Worse, even the religious solidarity was sometimes feigned. Russia long arrogated the right to intervene as protector of Christians under Ottoman rule, but Mr. Bass quotes Disraeli's plausible report "that the Russian ambassador had told him that 'Russia did not care a pin for Bulgaria, or Bosnia . . . what it really wanted was the Straits.' " Mr. Bass provides a wrenching chapter on the World War I massacre of Armenians by the Turks, focusing on U.S. ambassador Henry Morgenthau's vain appeals for intervention. This massacre eclipsed the killings in Greece, Syria, Lebanon or Bulgaria -- and yet went unimpeded. So much for the "tradition" of humanitarian action running "deep" in world politics.

Finally, Mr. Bass tackles some of the difficulties -- then and now -- of humanitarian intervention. On one end of the spectrum, few states are willing to risk the lives of their own citizens to rescue others. On the other, humanitarian concern may be put forward as a pretext for what are really imperial designs. Today the first difficulty is much more likely than the second -- think only of the unrelieved sufferings of Darfur. I'm with Mr. Bass in wishing for a greater willingness to intervene, but I suspect that interventionists are on stronger ground appealing to natural justice than to "tradition."
Mr. Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, has just completed a book about democrats in the Middle East.

Young Civilians Call For Opening Armenian Border For Match 23 August 2008, Today’s Zaman
The Young Civilians, a democratic youth movement, has called on authorities to open the Turkish-Armenian border for 24 hours on Sept. 6 for the World Cup qualifying match between the two countries’ national teams scheduled for that day.

In a statement released earlier this week, the Young Civilians, known for their frequent use of political humor, said: “Turkey is playing its first game in the group preliminaries of the World Cup with Armenia in Yerevan on Sept. 6, 2008. Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan has invited Turkish President Abdullah Gül to Yerevan to see the game. This game is a great opportunity to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia.”

The statement went on to describe how difficult it would be for Turks to attend the game. “Fans traveling from Turkey to see the game have two options for getting to Yerevan: The first is by air, which is very expensive and where it will be hard to find a free seat. Second is going to Georgia by road, which takes only half an hour from Igdir to Yerevan.” The group then called on the authorities to open the border for the day. “We just want to see the game and then return home,” the statement noted The Turkish-Armenian border has been closed since 1994.

Babacan, Lavrov In Talks Over Dubious Caucasus Platform
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan yesterday spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, on the phone to discuss a proposed cooperation platform for the crisis-hit Caucasus amidst reports that Turkey will include its estranged neighbor Armenia in regional peace efforts via Russia.

Babacan conveyed a set of "concrete proposals" to Lavrov during the conversation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin said, without elaborating. Officials from the Turkish and Russian foreign ministries will meet next week to work on the proposals. Babacan and Lavrov will also meet in early September to review progress in the technical talks.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the architect of the proposed Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, has said he won backing from regional countries, including Russia, for the proposed alliance. But questions remain on how the regional countries will set aside their differences and embark on a cooperation initiative.

News reports in the Turkish media said Turkey could talk to Armenia, one of the regional countries that Ankara wants in the Caucasus platform, via Russia, Armenia's regional ally, in the initial stages. Direct talks between Turkish and Armenian diplomats and foreign ministers are planned for later stages.

It was not clear whether one of the concrete proposals passed on to Lavrov concerned some form of Russian mediation between Turkey and Armenia, two neighbors that have had no formal ties for more than a decade. Turkey severed its diplomatic ties and closed its border with Armenia in the early 1990s in protest of an Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. Normalization in ties, says Ankara, depends on Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, Yerevan ending its efforts for worldwide recognition of claims of an Armenian genocide at the hands of the late Ottoman Empire and formal recognition by Armenia of the current borders with Turkey.

But despite the obstacles remaining in place for dialogue, Ankara says the proposed Caucasus platform will include Armenia as well. President Abdullah Gül reiterated late on Thursday that Armenia was planned to be included in the proposed Caucasus platform. "They have been invited to this to help resolve problems. Talks and preparations are still under way," he noted.

According to plans that are still being worked out in Ankara, the proposed platform will include Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Erdogan has so far visited Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan to discuss the initiative. Armenia said it welcomed Turkey's plans to include Yerevan in regional peace efforts.

Gül is still considering whether to accept an invitation from his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarksyan, to visit Armenia to watch a World Cup qualifying game between national soccer teams of the two countries on Sept. 6. If it takes place, the visit will represent landmark progress in efforts to normalize ties between the two countries, but Turkish diplomats are unsure whether Armenia has taken enough conciliatory steps to deserve such a gesture.

As deliberations continue in Ankara over whether Gül should accept Sarksyan's invitation, reports have appeared in the Turkish media that decision-makers are leaning toward sending a Cabinet minister, instead of the president, to Armenia. State Minister Murat Basesgioglu, who is responsible for sports, is reportedly a candidate to visit Armenia. 23 August 2008, Today's Zaman Ankara

Post-Soviet Security Bloc Ends Joint Drills In Armenia
YEREVAN, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - The joint Rubezh-2008 command-and-staff exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization finished Friday in Armenia.

About 4,000 troops from Armenia, Russia and Tajikistan took part in the four-stage military exercise, which started July 22, on the territory of Armenia and Russia.

Other CSTO members were represented by military staff from their defense ministries.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a security grouping comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.

(Day.Az)August of 2008 may enter the history of Azerbaijan As A Period Of Determination Of Our Country’s Fate, As There Is A Real Threat To Its Territorial Integrity.

Armenia, which occupied Azerbaijani lands under Russia’s support, has passed to an active pressure on our country in the negotiation process on the resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno Karabakh.

This pressure is put again under support of Russia, which, by its occupation of Georgia and open support of separatism, openly demonstrated to Armenians whose side it will take in the Karabakh conflict. In fact, Armenia and Russia are now forcing Azerbaijan to peace, which is profitable for Armenia and Russia, but which is a disgrace for Azerbaijan and dangerous for the further territorial integrity of our country.

After Russia openly occupied Georgia, the bellicose and self-confident statements from Armenian side have become more frequent. Notably, that they are voiced by either representatives of Armenian powers or Armenian opposition.

Thus, the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan also openly demonstrated readiness to bow and scrape before Russia. According to him, no one can challenge the fact that “by its decisive interference Russia has rescued the South Ossetian people from genocide”. Naturally, he said nothing of the genocide of Georgians, which is currently continued by Russian troops, Kazak volunteers and Ossetians. This can be understood, as nothing more is expected from a politician, who was leading Armenia in the years, when Russia helped it to occupy Nagorno Karabakh, when the genocide of Azerbaijanis in Khojaly was committed. It is clear that Ter-Petrosyan, who decided to throw off the mask of a pro-western politician, openly flirted with the Kremlin for his political future. He seems to consider that he will not need this mask again and that the future of Armenia and the entire South Caucasus is in the hands of those, who will bow lower before Russia.

The same opinion is also supported by working Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. He said “the tragic events in South Ossetia proved that such conflicts should be settled on the basis of people’s free will. Otherwise, we will inevitably witness ethnic separatism and violation of the norms of international humanitarian law”.

The subtext of this declaration is clear: “Azerbaijan and the world society should recognize the independence of Nagorno Karabakh, otherwise, Russia will enter its troops and force Azerbaijan to peace”. This is a hidden threat not only to our country but also to the established world order. It is not by accident that this declaration was voiced by a person, who personally took part in the Karabakh war and fired at peaceful Azerbaijani civilians!

After this announcement of Sargsyan and the overall open pro-Russian moods among the political establishment of Armenia, Azerbaijani diplomacy has a good chance to put the equality sign between the Armenian politicians, who rule Armenia, owing to Russia’s armed aggression against Azerbaijan and Mr Kokoyti and Baqapsh, who were appointed as leaders of unrecognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia by the Kremlin.

But the most important is that Azerbaijan should clearly understand that Russia may pass from verbal support of Armenia to definite pressure on our country. The declaration of CSTO secretary general Nikolai Bordjuzha, who confirmed that in case of a threat to one of the member-states, the fourth article of the contract will be executed, is one of the components of pressure on Azerbaijan by Russia.

Certainly, most will remain unhidden. For example, direct or indirect threats from Russian side to the BTC pipeline in a form of bombs, which can be dropped by Russian pilots “by accident”, are possible. The talks about the US failure to secure Georgia from Russian military aggression are possible during the meeting between the leaderships of Russia and Azerbaijan, which means that we should draw conclusions and agree to recognize the independence of Nagorno Karabakh. Otherwise, Russian tanks may immediately be directed to Baku, like in case with Tbilisi. In other words, they will “force us to peace” diplomatically.

The only way out is Azerbaijan’s soonest integration with NATO. We should respond by force to another force. The only force, which can resist growing appetites of the Kremlin is NATO. They have not left a choice to us. Any delay in this issue equals to death.

Robert Fisk's World: A Voice Recovered From Armenia's Bitter Past, 23 August 2008
It's a tiny book, only 116 pages long, but it contains a monumental truth, another sign that one and a half million dead Armenians will not go away. It's called My Grandmother: a Memoir and it's written by Fethiye Cetin and it opens up graves. For when she was growing up in the Turkish town of Marden, Fethiye's grandmother Seher was known as a respected Muslim housewife. It wasn't true. She was a Christian Armenian and her real name was Heranus. We all know that the modern Turkish state will not acknowledge the 1915 Armenian Holocaust, but this humble book may help to change that. Because an estimated two million Turks – alive in Turkey today – had an Armenian grandparent.

As children they were put on the death marches south to the Syrian desert but – kidnapped by brigands, sheltered by brave Muslim villagers (whose own courage also, of course, cannot be acknowledged by Turkey) or simply torn from their dying mothers – later became citizens of the modern Turkey which Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was to set up. Yet as Maureen Freely states in her excellent preface, four generations of Turkish schoolchildren simply do not know Ottoman Anatolia was between a quarter and a half Christian.

Heranus – whose face stares out at the reader from beneath her Muslim headscarf – was seized by a Turkish gendarme, who sped off on horseback after lashing her mother with a whip. Even when she died of old age, Fethiye tried to record the names of Heranus's Armenian parents – Isguhi and Hovannes – but was ignored by the mosque authorities. It was Heranus, with her razor-sharp memory, who taught Fethiye of her family's fate and this book does record in terrible detail the now familiar saga of mass cruelty, of rape and butchery.

In one town, the Turkish police separated husbands, sons and old men from their families and locked the women and children into a courtyard with high walls. From outside came blood-curdling shrieks. As Fethiye records, "Heranus and her brothers clung to their mother's skirts, but though she was terrified, she was desperate to know what was going on. Seeing that another girl had climbed on to someone's shoulders to see over the wall, she went to her side. The girl was still looking over the wall; when, after a very long while, she came down again, she said what she had seen. All her life, Heranus would never forget what came from this girl's lip: 'They're cutting the men's throats, and throwing them into the river.'"

Fethiye says she wrote her grandmother's story to "reconcile us with our history; but also to reconcile us with ourselves" which, as Freely writes, cuts right through the bitter politics of genocide recognition and denial. Of course, Ataturk's decision to move from Arabic to Latin script also means that vital Ottoman documents recalling the genocide cannot be consulted by most modern-day Turks. At about the same time, it's interesting to note, Stalin was performing a similarly cultural murder in Tajikistan where he moved the largely Persian language from Arabic to Cyrillic.

And so history faded away. And I am indebted to Cosette Avakian, who sent me Fethiye's book and who is herself the granddaughter of Armenian survivors and who brings me news of another memorial of Armenians, this time in Wales. Wales, you may ask? And when I add that this particular memorial – a handsome Armenian cross embedded in stone – was vandalised on Holocaust Memorial Day last January, you may also be amazed. And I'm not surprised because not a single national paper reported this outrage. Had it been a Jewish Holocaust memorial stone that was desecrated, it would – quite rightly – have been recorded in our national newspapers. But Armenians don't count.

As a Welsh Armenian said on the day, "This is our holiest shrine. Our grandparents who perished in the genocide do not have marked graves. This is where we remember them." No one knows who destroyed the stone: a request for condemnation by the Turkish embassy in London went, of course, unheeded, while in Liverpool on Holocaust Day, the Armenians were not even mentioned in the service.

Can this never end? Fethiye's wonderful book may reopen the past, but it is a bleak moment to record that when the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted for insulting "Turkishness", Fethiye defended him in court. Little good it did Dink. He was murdered in January last year, his alleged killer later posing arrogantly for a picture next to the two policemen who were supposed to be holding him prisoner. It was in Dink's newspaper Agos that Fethiye was to publish her grandmother's death notice. This was how Heranus's Armenian sister in America came to read of her death. For Heranus's mother survived the death marches to remarry and live in New York.

Wales, the United States, even Ethiopia, where Cosette Avakian's family eventually settled, it seems that every nation in the world is home to the Armenians. But can Turkey ever be reconciled with its own Armenian community, which was Hrant Dink's aim? When Fethiye found her Aunt Marge in the US – this was Heranus' sister, of course, by her mother's second marriage – she tried to remember a song that Heranus sang as a child. It began with the words "A sad shepherd on the mountain/Played a song of love..." and Marge eventually found two Armenian church choir members who could put the words together.

"My mother never missed the village dances," Marge remembered. "She loved to dance. But after her ordeal, she never danced again." And now even when the Welsh memorial stone that stands for her pain and sorrow was smashed, the British Government could not bring itself to comment. As a member of the Welsh Armenian community said at the time, "We shall repair the cross again and again, no matter how often it is desecrated." And who, I wonder, will be wielding the hammer to smash it next time? ©independent.co.uk

Responding To Georgia Crisis, Turkey Seeks New Caucasus Security Initiative JamesTown.org
By Alman Mir - Ismail, August 22, 2008
The Georgian-Russian military conflict has created new security dilemmas in the South Caucasus. Not only has the fragile stability established since the chaos of 1990s been ruined, but the East-West energy and transportation corridor has also been made vulnerable. Turkey, as one of the largest donors of the South Caucasus region and an active player in regional politics, surprisingly stayed out of the conflict, neither defending its regional ally Georgia nor making official statements at the governmental level. For many in the region, this was perceived as a sign of Turkish weakness, lack of interest in the South Caucasus region from the ruling AKP party, and growing dependence on Russia in terms of trade and regional alliance. Others simply called it a “sell-out of Caucasus.” Indeed, Turkey benefits from the regional energy pipelines and such a reaction can only raise surprise among regional countries.

Partly because of the desire to refute these rumors and partly to achieve Turkey’s long-awaited goals in the Caucasus, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan came up with the “Platform for security and cooperation in the South Caucasus” initiative. The initiative, which Erdogan plans to discuss with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is intended to create a regional security framework. It intends to accomplish this by encouraging greater integration between Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia and empowering Russia and Turkey to play the leads roles of regional security guarantors. Erdogan’s vision is to solve the frozen conflicts in the region on a sustainable and long-lasting basis and to satisfy the national interests of Russia, which regards the West’s influence in the region as a “zero-sum game.” Under this initiative, NATO would be limited to an outside role in providing security for the region -- a clear effort to minimize Russian distrust and anger.

With this idea, Erdogan visited Baku on August 21 to talk with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and unveil this plan. Azerbaijani public and politicians generally have greeted this proposal with a great degree of skepticism. Political analyst Rasim Musabeyov was quoted by ANS TV on August 21 saying, “Turkey wants to push Azerbaijan towards compromise and also make sure Armenia plays more pragmatic role. This is the vision behind the Caucasus Platform idea of Erdogan.”

Opposition newspaper Yeni Musavat believes that under the pretext of the Common Caucasus Platform, Erdogan wants to open borders with Armenia. Indeed, since its arrival in power in 2002, the AKP party has been favoring the idea of restoring economic and trade ties with Yerevan in order to improve the economic situation in Turkey’s Eastern regions, such as Kars and Erzurum, which suffer greatly from the closed borders with Armenia. Azerbaijani officials have protested against these ideas, saying that opening borders prior to Armenia’s liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories would not only damage Turkish-Azerbaijani solidarity and alliance in the region, but also symbolically forgive the ethnic cleansing by Armenia. Previous Turkish governments have preconditioned the opening of the borders with Armenia to the end of the Karabakh conflict. For Azerbaijan, closed borders between Turkey and Armenia are another tool of pressure on the officials in Yerevan.

Nevertheless, after the presidential elections in Armenia in early 2008, Turkish-Armenian relations seem to be entering a new stage. Newly elected President of Armenia Serj Sarkisian has invited his Turkish counterpart Abdulla Gul to Yerevan to watch a soccer game between the two countries. This sport event began a series of diplomatic events, culminating with the revelation by senior Turkish officials that high ranking diplomats of the two nations are engaged in negotiations in Geneva. And on August 22, Yeni Musavat even reported that Turkey opened flights into Armenia.

Officials in Baku seem less nervous this time about the possibility of the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations than back in 2003-2004. It appears that even in the circles of the Azerbaijani political leadership, there is an understanding that the economic pressures on Armenia do not work and simply reinforce Armenian dependence on Russia. Perhaps the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations will entice a breakthrough on the negotiation process in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. More trust between these two nations might prompt Armenia to extend certain concessions, should Yerevan feel itself more secure.

However, some analysts believe that this Erdogan’s initiative is doomed to failure. Nationalism, realpolitik, and irrational behavior still dominate politics in the Caucasus, and it would be unrealistic to expect Armenia to be less nationalistic or Russia to behave more pragmatically. “If the West manages to push Russia out of Caucasus, then the idea of the common Caucasus home might be possible. If Russia stays in the region, then not,” says Ilgar Mammadov, political scientist (ANS TV, August 21). His colleague Zardusht Alizadeh echoes pessimism: “The initiative of Erdigan will be unsuccessful” (Day.az, August 20).

Similar proposals for the common Caucasus House, like the common EU, were made in the early 1990s but eventually failed due to a lack of desire from the competing powers both inside and outside of the region.

Because Of Armenia-Turkey Football Match Armenian Government Charged Yerevan Mayor's Office To Provide Turkish Fans With Food And Part-Time Residence, 2008-08-21
ArmInfo. Because of Armenia-Turkey WCQ-2010 football match, which will be held in Yerevan on 6 September and taking into account arrival of a big number of Turkish fans to Armenia, Armenian government charged Yerevan mayor's office to provide Turkish fans with food and part-time residence.

Yerevan mayor Ervand Zakharyan was charged to hold relevant work to improve the territory near the republican stadium after Vazgen Sarkisyan. The match will take place at Razdan Stadium. Armenian police and National Security Service will serve with medium security on 1-11 September.

To recall, on 15 August Armenian government adopted a decision about temporary non-visa regime for Turkish citizens on 106 September. As chief of Armenian Police, Alik Sarkisyan, said about 20thsd Turkish fans may visit Armenia.

Hackers Crash Armenian Gov't Websites, AzerNews Weekly, Aug 20 2008
A group of Azeri hackers has crashed the websites of the Armenian Prosecutor-General`s Office, as well as all 18 cabinet ministries, the Russian online publication, Gazeta.ru, reported.

The cyber-attack took place on August 12. A special coding installed by the hackers redirects those entering the website to another web page containing threatening statements against Armenia and Russia. Moreover, the page has a story supporting Azeri judo wrestler Elnur Mammadli, who has won a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, and a pledge to free Azeri territories from Armenian occupation.

Nonetheless, all the information and links from the Armenian Prosecutor-General`s Office website were left intact.

The hackers warned they would continue waging the "cyber-war" until Azerbaijan`s land is liberated.

What Did You Do For Eu Today?, Ismet Berkan, Turkish Daily News, Aug 21 2008
I think Foreign Minister Ali Babacan takes the lead among politicians who get annoyed by hearing the sentence "The government slows down in the European Union reforms."

Babacan tries to explain the things done for the EU even in the most stagnant periods. I am the editor-in-chief of a newspaper giving full support to Turkey's EU bid. We are trying to report every single news story in the subject but if Babacan hadn't said, I wouldn't have become aware that a total of 29 EU-related laws passed in Parliament since the July 22, 2007 elections.

Babacan's program is really hectic. He cannot say how many cities he visited, which world leaders he met or which foreign ministers he talked to, without looking at his itinerary. And this of course is not stemming from his being a hardworking man; this is because of Turkey's increasing significance and being willing to take a key role in important issues around the world.

Diplomacy traffic
Let me give you an example here: On Monday morning, Babacan woke up in Ankara and started the day with working on Turkey's National Program, based on an EU road map for the next four years. Then he presented this program at the Cabinet Council, got on a plane, headed to Istanbul and hosted the Turkey-African League Summit, had a dinner with the African leaders and top level officials and flew to Brussels at midnight. In the early hours of Tuesday, Babacan attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, extraordinary foreign ministers meeting on the crisis in Georgia. He was back to Istanbul on the same evening and then attended a dinner for the African guests hosted by President Abdullah Gul. Don't underestimate a NATO meeting, here Babacan met once again with the State Secretary of the United States Condoleezza Rice; in fact they were on the phone for the last three days. Then he met Rice for the second time. Likewise, Babacan took the Caucasus issue together with his French and German counterparts.

Until yesterday, he was playing a pivotal role in negotiations between Iran and the West over the Iranian nuclear program. He will continue to do so. In the meantime, Israel-Syria talks, Syria-Lebanon peace, bilateral relations with Armenia, etc. are in line. So we are talking about extraordinary efforts of a human being on a busy agenda.

Communication strategy
I had a chance to talk with Babacan during the Istanbul-Brussels flight. It was not an interview or a press briefing. It was just a casual conversation between us. He said that he will make appointments with opposition leaders in the upcoming days to explain the "National Program" and seek consensus.

The program is too technical. It states, let's say, adaptation of measurement and weighing scales by following such and such EU directives but on the other side, it also talks about political reform process, for instance adaptation of the Venice Criteria in the closure of political parties.

Technical matters, which include a colossal 1,600 word article, Turkish Trade Law regulations pending in Parliament, are relatively easier subjects to deal with. But political reforms necessarily contain constitutional amendments, so they are more sensitive and certainly requires consensus.

But on the other hand, communication strategy to be followed inside the country and this communication itself are as important as the EU bid. If I do not even know that a total of 29 laws were passed in the previous period, then the public opinion that the EU works stopped cannot be blamed.

Perhaps the government should reconsider bringing EU reform packages to Parliament for discussions again. Perhaps then we will revive the public excitement for the EU bid and an EU promotion can be managed this way. For instance, The Consumer Courts that now we have in the system and owe to the Customs Union are in service for the benefit of people, but this was not even communicated to the public properly.

Expectations of a high gear
I hope the government will take a high gear in the EU works after the "National Program" and we go back to discuss positive agenda items and our future.

There is this Georgia crisis by the way. NATO foreign ministers convened 10 days after the war between Russia and Georgia. They will probably have no solid decision. So I wonder if it is necessary to question about why we have NATO. I think it is.

Georgia and the Caucasus are extremely critical areas that cannot be left to Russia to be its back yard. But I wonder if the Western system will be able to wake up from this 18-year long sleep and if it does, isn't it late?

"No, come on. Nothing had ended yet," say some optimists, but I disagree with them.

Georgia will claim its place in history as one of the biggest failures and inattention of the Western system.

And don't forget that we have our share in this failure too!

Russia To Convey Turkish-Led Proposal To Armenia First, August 22, 2008, ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Turkey's proposal to create a stability pact in the Caucasus is helping improve Turkish-Armenian ties amid low-profile diplomatic contacts that have commenced between the two neighbors.

As questions linger over the fate of the Turkish-led proposal, due to conflicts between the potential members, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to communicate Turkey's proposal for a Caucasus stability pact with Armenia after a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, this week.

On another front, the deputy undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Ünal Çeviköz, is expected to hold talks with his Armenian counterparts regarding the Caucasus plan. Çeviköz was one of the Turkish diplomats who held secret talks with Armenian officials in Switzerland.

Turkey has prioritized Armenia's involvement in the regional cooperation mechanism. Diplomatic sources earlier told the Turkish Daily News that it was Armenia that was most negatively affected by the Georgian-Russian war in the region and highlighted the importance of Yerevan joining the platform.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday that Babacan would speak to Lavrov this week after which the format of the contacts would be determined. The proposal is expected to be first presented to the Armenian side by the Russian foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Yerevan welcomed the Turkish will to include Armenia in the Caucasus pact. “Armenia was always in favor of dialogue and talks, particularly on the issues concerning cooperation and security in our region,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a written statement released by the Armenian Foreign Ministry.

“The Turkish prime minister's statement on the intention to start talks with Armenia on this agenda could be welcomed,” he noted.

Babacan is expected to hold talks with his Armenian counterpart on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York in September.

Caucasian Table Setting For Five? August 22, 2008, Fulya Özerkan - Mustafa Oguz, Ankara - Turkish Daily News
Despite the government’s optimism over the 'Caucasus platform for peace and stability in the region,' the idea floated by Turkey rests on weak pillars, say analysts. Under current circumstances, bilateral problems between the potential members overshadow the feasibility of such a project

While Turkey has moved fast in the wake of the latest Caucasus crisis to devise a way to bring divided parties around a single table to discuss the future, it remains to be seen if all five dinner guests will approve of the seating arrangements.

Two guests, Georgia and Russia, are effectively at war and only held apart by a cease-fire. Another configuration of two, Armenia and Azerbaijan, are in a state of declared war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. And the would-be host, Turkey, while “recognizing” Armenia, does not have formal diplomatic relations with the country. And the biggest guest of all, Russia, is in an unpredictable mood over everything from foreign policy to energy policy to its relationship with the United States and China.

Enter Turkey, the would-be peacemaker in one of the world's most fractious regions, which is nonetheless the key to the world's energy geo-strategy for the foreseeable future.

“Do I think that the idea to promote regional cooperation in the region is a good one and that Turkey has a role to play here?” asked Stephen Larrabee of the RAND Corporation think tank. “The answer is yes. But this particular proposal is not the way to approach it. In a general sense I would agree that Turkey has a role to play and needs to be more active.”

Despite statements made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealing that the leaders of Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan responded positively to the Caucasus plan, diplomats gave contradicting messages regarding Ankara's initiative.

A Russian diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier Moscow had not yet given an official response and was still discussing the proposal. The same official made clear, however, that Russia would not sit at the negotiating table with the current leadership in Georgia.

In an interview with the Turkish Daily News, Georgia's ambassador to Turkey welcomed the Turkey-sponsored initiative to create a Caucasus alliance but said it was not possible for Georgia to sit at the table with Russia at the current stage, as they were still under occupation.

“We are ready to discuss with Turkey all kinds of regional initiatives but at this stage there is no possibility that we enter any cooperation mechanism with Russia as long as the occupation goes on and a single occupying soldier stays on my soil,” said Ambassador Grigol Mgaloblishvili, who just returned from Gori, one of the flash points in the war between Russia and Georgia. The ambassador noted that after the Russian withdrawal and the rebuilding of peace and stability, Georgia would have serious discussions with Russia about the Caucasus mechanism and the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “After occupying forces leave and all of those people who were forced out of their houses go back, then we will start talking and discussing future probabilities and possibilities. But again, I can assure that the territorial integrity of Georgia will maintain,” he said.

Bilateral conflicts poison regional mechanism
Meanwhile, foreign affairs analysts said Ankara's initiative is “dead in the water” at this particular time. “Can you imagine Georgia being in any kind of regional group with Russia when it has just invaded that country and still has troops on its soil? This is like inviting the fox in the hen house,” said Larrabee. He was not convinced by Erdogan's first impression that Georgia is favorable to the project. “I have to take that with a great deal of skepticism,” he said. “I can imagine a regional grouping between Turkey plus the Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. Of course even then it would be difficult without some kind of regulation of relations with Armenia. I cannot imagine even Azerbaijan is too interested, especially now helping a regional partnership with Russia,” Larrabee said. Turkey also conceives of the project as a means to soothe tensions with Armenia, with which it has no direct diplomatic links. Ankara repeatedly stressed that regional cooperation projects are open “to all countries in the region.” However Larrabee underlined that Turkey needs to coordinate its policies with its Western allies. Matt Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said he was surprised by the announcement of the Caucasus stability pact, noting that the United States and Turkey have shared values and interests in the region. A more favorable view arrived from Hugh Pope, a senior analyst for the NGO the International Crisis Group, who noted that even though a platform is a rhetorical device, it could serve to limit violence in the region. “I think that what's great about the Turkish initiative is that Mr. Erdogan is one of the few people who have talked to all of these people as a neutral person. I think that's more important than the substance of the Caucasus stability and cooperation pact,” he said, but added the initiative would be more useful if Erdogan could visit Armenia.

Armenia And The New Turkish Proposal, Richard Giragosian, August 22, 2008,
As the conflict in Georgia over the past two weeks has so demonstrably confirmed, there is a glaring need for stability in the South Caucasus region. As part of a broader Turkish initiative to assert geopolitical influence, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently launched a new bid for bolstering stability and security in the region. Hailed as the “Platform for Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus,” this new Turkish initiative seeks to forge a new cooperative attempt at conflict prevention, multilateral security and regional stability.

Heralding this new initiative, the Turkish prime minister arrived in Baku on August 20 to meet with President Ilham Aliyev and to more clearly define the proposal's goal for securing the now vulnerable energy export routes running from the Caspian basin to Europe.

The Energy imperative
While one of the most pressing needs is to rapidly resume the flow of oil exports through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or BTC, pipeline, closed since August 6 after an explosion damaged the Turkish portion of the pipeline and has not been reopened since the subsequent conflict in Georgia raised fresh security concerns. Although preliminary testing of the Turkish section of the pipeline began on August 18, serious concerns linger, especially as the BTC's back-up route, the 90,000-barrels-per-day-capacity Baku-Supsa pipeline, has also been shut down after a key railway bridge was destroyed in Georgia.

Erdogan's Azerbaijan visit comes in the wake of earlier meetings in both Moscow and Tbilisi last week, where he also pressed for support of the new initiative. Most importantly, it is the imperative of stability for energy that is the key to the initiative, as the recent outbreak of hostilities in Georgia has raised new concerns over the viability of not only the BTC and Baku-Supsa pipelines, but also the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural-gas pipeline and the U.S.-EU backed Nabucco gas pipeline project, which proposes bringing an additional 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe once operational by 2020.

Mutually positive messages
Although Azerbaijan and Georgia have obvious vested interests in the Turkish proposal driven by their shared energy ties, the exclusion of Armenia from the regional energy infrastructure will only exacerbate the challenge of convincing Armenia of the need to accept and support the initiative. Although this challenge seems to be recognized by Ankara, as seen by Prime Minister Erdogan's recent statement promising, “We will discuss the project with Armenia to construct a cooperation region with five countries,” made at the Turkey-Africa summit in Istanbul, Armenia seems by no means ready to follow Ankara's lead without any serious improvement in the two countries' non-existent relations and closed borders.

Yet there have been some recent signs of optimism from both sides, demonstrated by both Turkey's relaxation of its air space quota for Armenia in order to ease access for humanitarian aid flows into Georgia via Armenia, and President Abdullah Gül's August 16 reconciliatory message to Armenia. That statement noted that Turkey is “no enemy” and pointed out that the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia affirms the need for “early measures to resolve frozen problems in the region and ... prevent instability in the future.” The Turkish president went on to state, “This is our understanding on all problems. We are no enemy to anyone in the region,” before reiterating the Turkish proposal to set up a regional forum for stability in the Caucasus.

In addition, after a round of secret talks in Switzerland, there is ample room and even greater necessity for a historic breakthrough in relations between Turkey and Armenia.

If Gül rejects the invitation
But Gül's conciliatory remarks were not part of an attempt to restore bilateral ties, but were in response to a question on whether he would accept an invitation by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian to go to Yerevan in September to attend a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia on September 6. And as he replied that he was still “evaluating the invitation,” there is a danger that Armenian public opinion will be angered and disappointed by a Turkish rejection of the invitation, which seems likely at this point.

Such a negative Armenian reaction to a likely Turkish decision not to come to Yerevan would also set back recent Armenian overtures, including an Armenian decision to unilaterally suspend its visa regime with Turkey to facilitate the arrival of Turkish fans for the upcoming first-ever match between the two countries' national football teams. An earlier and far more significant overture came earlier this summer, when Armenian President Sarkisian signaled his government readiness to accept, in principle, a Turkish proposal to form a joint historical commission, which would theoretically also examine the historical veracity of the alleged Armenian genocide of 1915.

Thus, it seems equally clear that while Ankara is not yet willing or able to tackle its unresolved bilateral problems with Yerevan at this time, Armenia will remain unwilling to accept or support this new Turkish initiative for regional stability. And Armenian public reaction, both within Armenia and its worldwide diaspora, is certain to reject any move to sign up to the Turkish regional initiative prior to the restoration of normal diplomatic relations and the opening of the closed Armenian-Turkish border.

Caucasian Stability Pact Nice Idea, But Will It Work? by Semih Idiz, August 22, 2008
Turkey's proposal for a “Stability Pact for the Caucasus,” or SPC, is clearly an expression of Ankara's need to do something in the face of Russia's invasion and occupation of Georgia. Having good relations with these two countries puts Turkey in a difficult position in this crisis.

The fact that it is a NATO member, and a close military ally of the United States, on the other hand, complicates matters further. Other factors complicating matters for Ankara include its close ties with Azerbaijan, which are not just based on economic and political interests but kinship between the two peoples also.

Then there is Turkey's, and Azerbaijan's, highly problematic relations with Armenia, without which the “Caucasian Circle” cannot be considered complete.

Not in a position to take sides between Georgia and Russia in the first instance, and Russia and the United States, in the second, Ankara obviously felt it had to do something in the face of a new crisis on its borders that has a great spillover potential to the detriment of Turkey.

This meant that Turkey could not assume any role other than that of potential peacemaker. And hence its SPC proposal, which incidentally is not a new one, having been first floated in 2000 by then president, Suleyman Demirel.

However it appears very unlikely that this will happen since the obstacles at the present time appear insurmountable.

The basic idea of Turkey's proposal is that countries in the region, and one assumes with interests in the region, somehow get together to work out a system that is to the advantage of all the parties.

How this is to be achieved given the deep animosity between Georgia and Russia and Azerbaijan and Armenia is hard to see. One also assumes that for such a project to succeed both Washington and Tehran have to participate in a new vision for the region.

Given the new Cold War between Moscow and Washington, as well as the high-tension relations between Washington and Tehran - which could at any given time turn into a military conflict - this too appears highly unlikely.

US surprised
Apart from this, the U.S. State Department's point man in the Caucasus, Matt Bryza, has already expressed “surprise” over Ankara's proposal, showing Washington is not too comfortable with this idea.

One assumes this is because under the SPC, Russia would have a bigger political say in the fate of the Caucasus than the Americans would like. There is also the fact that no project for the region, SPC or otherwise, can overlook Iran which also has regional interests and to a certain degree can even be considered a Caucasian state.

It does not appear likely, however, that Washington would give its go-ahead for any project that gives Iran political influence in a region of strategic value for the United States. Then there is the question of Azerbaijan.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a one-day visit to Baku Wednesday to promote the SPC idea and told reporters later that President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan also supported the project.

But is this really the case, or is it that President Aliev had no choice but to appear as if he was supporting the project.

Because if one looks objectively there are reasons for Baku not to be too keen about it. For one thing Azerbaijan is still in a state of war with Armenia over the enclave of Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenians who occupy Karabakh, on the other hand, like Armenia proper, rely on Moscow for their security against Azerbaijan.

The Russian invasion of Georgia has sent a clear message to pro-NATO and pro-U.S. Azerbaijan that the same could befall it, if it should decide to move against the Armenian's in Karabakh militarily.

Put another way, given how vital a national cause the Karabakh issue has become for Azerbaijan, it is clear that Baku will be more reliant on the West, and in particular the United States, in the future rather than move toward a pro-Armenian Russia.

Diplomatic tightrope
Azerbaijan is also worried about the peaceful overtures between Turkey and Armenia, which have been searching for means to establish a workable dialogue process with a view to normalizing relations.

Even the suggestions that President Gül may travel to Yerevan for the Turkey-Armenia football match in early September has upset the Azeris deeply, judging by commentary in their media.

Neither could Erdogan's remarks that Turkish officials will discuss SPC with Armenian officials in New York - during the U.N.'s General Assembly meeting in September – have gone down too well in Baku.

After all, if the project succeeds, this will not only get Armenia out of its current isolation in the Caucasus, by willl also contribute to normalizing ties with Turkey.

Equally important is the fact that if this project succeeds, Armenia's protector Russia will also have a big say in regional developments. So with its isolation gone and Russia's protection against not just Azerbaijan but also Turkey, Yerevan will have secured the best result for itself. But of course there is a very big “if” involved here.

Given all these complex factors, it becomes even more apparent that Turkey's SPC proposal is the product of Ankara's desire to do a diplomatic tightrope walking act, without getting embroiled in the new Cold War in the Caucasus. But in reality, the SPC cannot be much more than an expression of a desire – optimistic and well intentioned as it may be - rather than something that has a chance of taking off bringing genuine stability to the Caucasus any time soon.

Waiting And Watching, Aug 21st 2008 | Ankara And Yerevan, The Economist
A large NATO country ponders a bigger role in the Caucasus

AT THE Hrazdan stadium in Yerevan, workers are furiously preparing for a special visitor: Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul. Armenia’s president, Serzh Sarkisian, has invited Mr Gul to a football World Cup qualifier between Turkey and its traditional foe, Armenia, on September 6th.

If he comes, Mr Gul may pave the way for a new era in the Caucasus. Turkey is the only NATO member in the area, and after the war in Georgia it would like a bigger role. It is the main outlet for westbound Azeri oil and gas and it controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles, through which Russia and other Black Sea countries ship most of their trade. And it has vocal if small minorities from all over the region, including Abkhaz and Ossetians.

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has just been to Moscow and Tbilisi to promote a “Caucasus Stability and Co-operation Platform”, a scheme that calls for new methods of crisis management and conflict resolution. The Russians and Georgians made a show of embracing the idea, as have Armenia and Azerbaijan, but few believe that it will go anywhere. That is chiefly because Turkey does not have formal ties with Armenia. In 1993 Turkey sealed its border (though not its air links) with its tiny neighbour after Armenia occupied a chunk of Azerbaijan in a war over Nagorno-Karabakh. But the war in Georgia raises new questions over the wisdom of maintaining a frozen border.

Landlocked and poor, Armenia looks highly vulnerable. Most of its fuel and much of its grain comes through Georgia’s Black Sea ports, which have been paralysed by the war. Russia blew up a key rail bridge this week, wrecking Georgia’s main rail network that also runs to Armenia and Azerbaijan. This disrupted Azerbaijan’s oil exports, already hit by an explosion earlier this month in the Turkish part of the pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan, in Turkey.

“All of this should point in one direction,” says a Western diplomat in Yerevan: “peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” Reconciliation with Armenia would give Azerbaijan an alternative export route for its oil and Armenia the promise of a new lifeline via Turkey. Some Armenians gloat that Russia’s invasion of Georgia kyboshes the chances of Azerbaijan ever retaking Nagorno-Karabakh by force, though others say the two cases are quite different. Russia is not contiguous with Nagorno-Karabakh, nor does it have “peacekeepers” or nationals there.

Even before the Georgian war, Turkey seemed to understand that isolating Armenia is not making it give up the parts of Azerbaijan that it occupies outside Nagorno-Karabakh. But talking to it might. Indeed, that is what Turkish and Armenian diplomats have secretly done for some months, until news of the talks leaked (probably from an angry Azerbaijan).

Turkey’s ethnic and religious ties with its Azeri cousins have long weighed heavily in its Caucasus policy. But there is a new worry that a resolution calling the mass slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in the 1915 genocide may be passed by America’s Congress after this November’s American elections. This would wreck Turkey’s relations with the United States. If Turkey and Armenia could only become friendlier beforehand, the resolution might then be struck down for good.

In exchange for better relations, Turkey wants Armenia to stop backing a campaign by its diaspora for genocide recognition and allow a commission of historians to establish “the truth”. Mr Sarkisian has hinted that he is open to this idea, triggering howls of treason from the opposition. The biggest obstacle remains Azerbaijan and its allies in the Turkish army. Mr Erdogan was expected to try to square Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliev, in a visit to Baku this week. Should he fail, Mr Gul may not attend the football match—and a chance for reconciliation may be lost.

Readers' comments
Michael Lalpian wrote:August 22, 2008
atilas, envers and ozgurs will have me believe that my mother, who at four years old witnessed the beheading of her grand father as well as killing her grand mother, BY TURKISH SOLDIERS, by pushing her from her roof asking her to fly, in SIS renamed Kozan after 1923, were fictions of her imagination!

Sis (Kozan) was near Adana on the south western part of the Ottoman empire. There was no war or front in this region...
If Armenians were the massacrers of Turks, WHY ARE WE DISPERSED TO THE FOUR WINDS TODAY?

Turkey having realized her denialist propaganda has no future, specifically US possibility of recognizing the Genocide of the Armenians in 1915, are cleverly seeking a recociliation with Armenia prior to this event taking place.

It is hoped that truth and justice will prevail and there could be some accomadation to be arrived at with the current good will overtures extended to each other by the respective governments.

Will the Western interests allow this to happen, contrary to their doctrin of devide to rule policies?

student15 wrote:August 22, 2008
Garalov R.I. what you are writing is lie. You were not there but we, Armenians, will never forget the operation “koltso” organized by Russians (which is a documented fact). We will never forget Russia’s supplies of military equipment to Azerbaijan. We also will never forget about the mercenaries from Russia fighting for Azerbaijan (many of them where captured). Even Turks admit the bravery of our fedayin.
The war in Artsakh is in the interests of Russia. It is a war in which both Armeni and Azerbaij loose and Russia wins.

Garalov why do you think that Confederation of Caucasian states cannot be created?

Garalov R.I wrote:August 22, 2008
Confederation of Caucasian states is balony!!!

Ioan wrote:August 22, 2008
I really liked tha idea of hrachyag of having a confederation of Caucasian states. I also think that something like that will be made possible via two things: more economic development and more co-working with the European Union. Afteral, each of the three countries in the area can apply for EU membership, and help each other to achieve this goal.

In addition you might actually have some friends interrested in you doing this: Romania, my country the EU just accross the Black Sea. Romania (and the EU more and more) is interested in having a stable, developing and prosperous Black Sea area. More, unlike other countries in EU, Romanians can easier understand the process you are going through, and help with fitting into the current EU concert.
Turkey should also support this process, because it wants good neighbours and because it will also serve its own integration in the European Community.

murat piskin wrote:August 22, 2008
I really like our president, but i cant understand its aim to establish diplomatic relations with "poor and landlocked" Armenia. I believe that we have enough others conflicts to work for, i would be more pleased if we had relations to the regional government of northern iraq. But now our head of state may travel to this tiny spot, where criminals like Monte Melkonian are celebrated as heroes. I, as a turkish citizen, do NOT support my presidents action in this case. Armenian should come to terms with their own past before they can knock on our door. Again, its them who rely on us, we just dont need Armenia.

Barishci wrote:August 22, 2008
I never understand why Republican Turks try defending sins of Osmanli Empire - yes Osmanli Armenians make separation war and joining Imperial Russia- Yes Imperial Osmanli Government try and crush - Yes bad things happening in wartime - yes Armenians die in desert of Suria - yes Osmanli Turks die by Armenians - yes Ottoman Kurds used by Osmanli Government to make dirty work - But why Republican Turkey after killing Osmanli Empire tries defending? Maybe father of Republic involved? Maybe Enver Pasha friend of Kemal Pasha involved? Maybe Ismet Pasha involved? Maybe someone know?

roomik wrote:August 22, 2008
Hmmm interesting ,so it was Armenians who killed the Turks thanks god ,I knew something was wrong ,how else you would explain we're a whopping 3m ppl vs turkey's 70m and azerbaijan's 8m ppl imagine how much less of us would be around if they had killed us :).

ozgur_001 wrote:August 22, 2008
PLEASE DO NOT FLAME this thread with Genocide. It's not going anywhere!!! Wanna talk geno then go to a armenian forum side.

here we are discussing the further cooperation in Caucasus post-Russian invasion of Georgia. We have a bear to tackle who just woke up from its hibernation and seriously committed to swallow back those who fled from its cave.

Atilla_Enver_Pasha wrote:August 22, 2008
Chelsea, the reason why Turkey doesn't recognize genocide, becuase there wasn't any genocide. It was a massacare where Armenians killed more than half a million Azerbaijanis, Kurds and Turks and then there was the retaliation and armed confrontations. Have you been to Erivan? If yes then you have seen tens of statues Armenians established to honor their so-called "genocide heores" such as andranik and others. Who were these people? These people were heads of the Armenian militia commanding tens of thousands of Armenians killing Azerbaijanis and Turks. To call the 1915 event a genocide one shall say that the massacares were unilateral and without any reason. This is what happened when Germans killed more than 6 million Jews unilaterally without any or none military confrontation or fighting. Whereas in the armenian case, armenians killed hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis, supported RUssian invasion of the region, planned and implemented hundreds of terror acts. Just in one they they have torn down more 60 Azerbaijani villages around the lake what Armenians now call Sevan (the true name is Goyche).

The armenian lobby and Armenians are stuck in the lies they have themseleves built about the so-called genocide, which didn't take place. Reversly it took place against Azerbaijanis and Turks. Over half million Azerbaijanis and Turks were massacared by Armenian militia and fundamentalists armed and trained by then France,Russia and UK. Armenians prefer to believe in what they want to believe. But this is not going to help in anything. With landlocked country and international aid (would be more true to call it international begging) Armenia heads to nowwhere.

Azerbaijan has fought with the RUssia and rich Armenian lobby over Nagorno-Karabakh and it indeed won the war because of its size and whom it was fighting with. This happned during the first years of independence with no embassies in the world, with no financial resources and with no organized army. The death toll of the Armenian militaty was aroudn 5,500 whereas Azerbaijanis was aroudn 10,000, the same death per capita. Just imagine what would happen if Azerbaijan starts to show its muscles to the fundamentalist Armenia now with more resources, more trained and organized army, with better diplomatic service, with better and balanced policies in the region. it will the end of the artificially created Armenia and the fascist armenian lobby.

hrachyag wrote:August 22, 2008
For countries like ours, ideal would be to have a confederation of states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, political leadership of the three countries are not always selflessly committed to the interests of the country and about the people there, selfish personal interests, there are ambitions, there are nationalist forces ...

For example, Europe, now overpassed all this in a natural way, as a result of it we see a prosperous, united Europe .

I am convinced that will take place in the Caucasus as well (not 10 and not 20 years) and similar processes will be possible in our region as well.


Chelsea wrote:August 21, 2008
Why doesn't Turkey just recognize the Genocide?

V.K. wrote:August 21, 2008
If azerbaijan attacks Armenia (including Artsakh) it will be the end of azerbaijan as we know it. For all of aliev's talk about being able to take Artsakh, he won't do it not only because of the loss the instigator in the conflict would recieve but also because his western masters will not allow him to jeapordize the oil flow anymore than it has been in recent weeks.

fortran123 wrote:August 21, 2008
It has been almost 20 years and the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh have not only maintained their own "territorial integrity", they have done so while building a strong democracy, growing economy and building a highly efficient and dedicated army. All this was done in-spite of the blockade and the constant genocidal rhetoric coming out of Baku.
Regardless of the fact that Nagorno Karabakh was never part of an independent Azerbaijan and that the land was alway (throughout thousands of years) inhabited by Armenians, The NKR republic has demonstrated that it is an independent state in every respect.

Even with all that said, do you really expect Armenians of NKR to be part of an Azerbaijani state? A state that tried to annihilate them less than 20 years ago...I don't think so.

Hands off the heroic Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh!

Garalov R.I wrote:August 21, 2008
I think nobody in Turkey would have any interest to open borders with Armenia, not only because Azerbaijani territory is under occupation, but fate of 1915 "genocide".

p.s: va21-do you really belive that 2-3 armenian soldiers could have defeated Azerbaijan without Russian help?? I think sooner Armenia realizes it's better cooperate and avoid being agressor, it would better for them, rather than try to "sell" everything in exhange for energy and security to Russia. I am afraid Amrenia will have to ask Russian help again if Azerbaijan decides to re-establis territorial integrity by carrying antiterror operations in Garabagh

Indiana Johns wrote:August 21, 2008
If Turkey established better relations with Armenia and opened its Armenian section of border, this would accelerate the resolution of the Karabakh question by putting more pressure on Azerbaijan to accept a compromise. Right now, Turkey is the only country that's backing Azerbaijan in this conflict.

va21 wrote:August 21, 2008
"...Armenia occupied a chunk of Azerbaijan in a war over Nagorno-Karabakh." - not sure why Economist keeps insisting on this lie (well, kind of guessing, but...). Again: Nagorno-Karabakh, a majority Armenian populated, historically Armenian and 'granted' to Azrbaijani SSR in 1920 by Bolsheviks. Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians declared in accordance with the hitherto laws of USSR a secession from Azerbaijani SSR in 1988 at the beginning of USSR collapse. Azerbaijan responded with pogroms (Sumgait in 1988 and Baku in 1990) of its Armenian population, and unleashed a war against the tiny Nagorno-Karabakh. However, despite being outnumbered and outgunned (Azeris inherited far, far more weapon from Soviet Army than Armenia did) Armenians won the independence war, also creating a security belt around Karabakh proper. Today Armenia proper serves as a security guarantor for ethnic Armenians in Karabakh, but that doesn't mean Armenia actually "occupies" Karabakh.

In summary - Karabakh Armenians have fought hard for their independence, they have all the arguments on their side - they constitute ethnic majority (unlike, say, Abkhazia), they won the independence without any major help from outside (unlike Kosovo), and they managed to build an able and democratic society - rated higher than Azerbaijan - source: freedomhouse.org (unlike, say, Ossetia). The only "argument" Azeris have is oil (guarantees backing of Westerners with "flexible" sense of morality) and "brotherhood" with Turkey (to the latter's detriment, as the article seems to suggest).

Will Turkey recognize that the justice is the best guarantor of stability in Caucasus? Will Turkey bridle it's oil-drunken "young brother"? Will they recognize that in this century you do not subjugate anybody and forcing to live with you by force? Azerbaijan - instead of spending billions on buying weapon - would be better off building a prosperous and democratic country, where others *want* to live (that, BTW, applies to Georgia, too).

Turkey Readies For Dialo Gue With Armenia Over Caucasus Plan, August 21, 2008, Turkish Daily News
With Turkey on tour promoting the creation of a Caucasus alliance platform following the Georgia-Russia war, it faces the difficult question of how to communicate this idea to Armenia. Before departing for Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an, said Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, will speak to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov this week, “after which the format of the contacts with Armenia” will be determined.

Diplomatic sources told the Turkish Daily News that contact with Yerevan could be held at the level of deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry. Ünal Çeviköz was one of the Turkish diplomats who held secret talks with Armenian counterparts in Switzerland.

“We may not have diplomatic ties but Turkey recognizes Armenia,” said a Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said the absence of Yerevan in the Turkey-sponsored Caucasus solidarity mechanism would be felt because it was Armenia that was most affected by the latest war in the region.

In a conciliatory message to Armenia, President, Abdullah Gül, said over the weekend that Turkey is “no enemy” to any country in the region, stressing that the Georgia-Russia conflict has shown the need for “early measures to resolve frozen problems” in the Caucasus.

Ankara has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan, since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991, because of an Armenian campaign to secure international recognition of the Armenian killings under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

In 1993, Turkey also shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, then at war with Armenia, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished nation.

Diplomats from Turkey and Armenia met secretly in Switzerland in July in a fresh effort to normalize ties, following three rounds of talks in 2005 and 2006. No progress has been publicly made known.

Erdogan traveled to Moscow and Tbilisi last week to discuss the Caucasus proposal.

On his visit to Baku, he said he and Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, would discuss Ankara's proposal to establish a regional platform for stability and cooperation in the Caucasus that would include Georgia, Russia and Armenia.

“We have vital interests in securing durable peace and stability in the region,” he told reporters.

Bloody Launch Of The Turkish Sector Of The Kars-Akhalkalaki Railway Hayots Ashkharh, July 26 2008

The dramatic events recorded in [Georgian province of Samtskhe-]Javakheti on the eve of the official launch of the Turkish section of the Kars-Akhalkalaki-[Tbilisi-Baku] railway [connecting Turkey and Azerbaijan via Georgia] show that even peaceful Turkish-Azerbaijani initiatives have a bloody conclusion for us, Armenians.

It is more than obvious that before the launch of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway, the clashes that started in Akhalkalaki on 17 July were the result of simple provocation by the Georgian special services. These were aimed at demonstrating the resoluteness of the Georgian government to carry out the construction of the railway via Georgia's territory without a hitch.

So, notwithstanding how much the methods of struggle chosen by the United Javakhk organization correspond to the new realities in the region, the activists of the latter have received the role of "scapegoats" in this show.

This testifies to the fact that the launch of the construction of the Turkish section of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway may be tantamount to adding new explosive elements to the already tense situation in the region.

Georgia is under serious political pressure from Russia, which will reach its peak in December 2008, when the Georgian government expects to receive full rights to join NATO. It is not incidental that large-scale military manoeuvres were taking place in the countries neighbouring Georgia in the north and south while the Georgian, Azerbaijani and Turkish presidents laid the rails of, as they put it, "a new silk road" in Kars on 24 July.

The existing situation makes the Armenian government avoid the temptation to give hasty assessment of the recent developments. However, one should not forget that the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway project was not feasible either economically or technically both in the past and nowadays. It is a lever of political pressure upon Armenia. The loud words that the Georgian, Turkish and Azerbaijani leaders said in Kars on 24 July are, in reality, a smokescreen for the whole civilized world.

To add to it [the smokescreen], the Turkish president said in Kars that this project was open to any country in the South Caucasus. Concurrent with his comment, apparently meant for Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan recalled in disguised ways the well-known preconditions set before our country.

What kind of "open project" are the Turks and Azerbaijanis speaking about, if Armenia is offered to forget its historical past and political achievements in order to participate in it? It is clear that this PR show has been initiated to "save face" in the atmosphere of the lately activated non-official Armenian-Turkish contacts.

So, until 2011, when the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway is to be launched, Javakheti's territory can be used to put pressure upon Armenia and to organize political provocations. The Azerbaijani contractor which is to carry out the construction in Javakheti will not stay away from these provocations as they can spoil Armenian-Georgian relations.

The Turkish special services will also become active in Javakheti, which will also try to drive a wedge between Armenians and Georgians and also speed up the return of Meskhetian Turks. Georgia, in turn, will find itself in an ambiguous situation, as having provided its own territory for a geo-economic experiment, which has apparent elements of bluff, it will have to face its negative results sooner or later. Moreover, no matter how much the countries, which are starting the construction of the Kars Akhalkalaki railway, try to advertise the economic "advantages" of their project, it becomes even more obvious with the lapse of time that they will be in growing need of funding to complete it on time. It is clear at present that the project will cost not 400m dollars, but 600m-700m dollars, but this will not be the final cost.

New elements of tension are being brought in the South Caucasus region with the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway under the guise of a large-scale economic project. Who benefits from this? Armenia and Armenian diplomats should do their best in the near future so that the start of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway does not become an opportunity for new clashes and arrests in Javakheti. It is necessary to win time at least until the end of this year, when there will be some clarity in Russian-American relations and Georgia's participation in NATO programmes. It cannot be ruled out that these clarifications will be accompanied by a new "round" of tension in [Georgian breakaway regions of] Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Given the current unfavourable geopolitical shifts, it is very important that we do not become "a party" to rivalry among superpowers that have interests in the region, while at the same time gaining their favour in the issue of overcoming Armenia's blockade. At some point then the role and significance of the Armenian factor will be valued that will stop Turkey's plans to invade the South Caucasus.

We believe that in the beginning of 2009, Armenia and Armenian diplomats will be given an opportunity to take more proactive steps in order to break the circle of blockade and provocations, which is being created around it as a result of the construction of the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway.

Armenia: Recep Tayyip Erdogan Proposed The Creation Of A New Union20 August 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
The participation of Armenia in a Union South Caucasus will increase stability in the region, "said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference Thursday, August 14 upon his return from a trip to Moscow and Tbilisi .

Recep tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey also wanted that Azerbaijan participates in the platform for security and peace adding that regional economic cooperation and the safe transport of energy were also key issues for this institution possible .

"Next week the platform will be discussed during a visit to Baku," he said. "We hope that Azerbaijan will accept both the new platform of cooperation that will help find solutions to ethnic conflicts in the region," said Turkish Prime Minister.

According to Erdogan, the creation of a Union Caucasian resolve conflicts in the Caucasus based on the principles of the Treaty of Kars signed between Russia and Turkey in 1921. The Treaty of Kars has established the present borders of the region placing the Nakhchivan and Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.

The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Babacan will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov next week to launch the beginning of the process "said Erdogan.

"Of course the Minsk process is underway in the region. The USA, Russia and France are the primary managers of this process. But no conclusion has been reached in this process, which has almost 13 years. We want this process to be accelerated ... the solution to the conflict of Nagorno-Karabak will also end the problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia "said Erdogan.

He added that the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the main obstacle to political stability, economic development and regional cooperation in South Caucasus.

Mr. Erdogan and the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Babacan met with Mr. Saakashvili in Tbilisi Thursday to discuss the recent conflict in Georgia and South Ossetia and make an offer from Turkey for a forum on stability in the Caucasus.

The Turkey wants to secure peace and form a platform of cooperation that would include Russia and Georgia and which serve to develop common stability of the region "said Erdogan at a joint press conference with Mr Saakashivili.

"We asked Georgia to participate in this platform. Our proposal was also welcomed by Russia, "he added.

Erdogan also said that Turkey supports the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia adding that he will visit Azerbaijan to discuss the security of the pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Wednesday, August 13 the Turkish prime minister met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow where he stressed the "importance" of regional solidarity.

"We want to establish an economic cooperation [and] it leads to cooperation for regional peace and security," he said. "We also want this institution is responsible for managing the crisis and seek solutions to any problem in the region," he added.

Fatih Cekirge: Why Did Turkey Invite The Iranian President?
Why did Turkey invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who made the call to“wipe Israel off the map” and refers to the United States as the “devil administration”, to visit?

Now a cold wind blows from Israel towards Turkey. What is the reason behind the start of a diplomatic attack at this time? Why make this invitation at the cost of creating questions with Israel, the U.S. and even in international finance circles? The answers lies deep within the corridors in Ankara.

The answer is this:

- Ahead of the elections in the U.S., Bush is finalizing all the necessary plans for an attack aimed at Iran….

Turkey is receiving information along these lines from Washington. In other words, they could strike at anytime…

With such an apparent likelihood, Turkey faces an extremely difficult dilemma. The scenario is this:

-Should the United States go ahead with an attack they will again want permission to fly Turkish air space. A more intensified embargo demand could be asked. What would Turkey do in such a situation? This is the big question… Turkey experienced a huge crisis of confidence with the United States after it refused to allow the U.S. to cross into Iraq through Turkish borders. In a repeat of this situation, the government could find itself in an extremely difficult situation. The government is using all its strength and doing all it can to avoid finding itself in this situation and is working to “support Iran to avoid war”.

- Is it possible to be successful?
- It doesn’t look likely…

If you look at it from this angle, even the Georgian conflict can gain a different meaning… Because the following question is being still being asked:

- Why did Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili undertake this action against Russia? If he is not just being foolish, what was the motivation behind this strife?

The known facts are these:

- Ahmadinejad previously made a very important visit to Armenia. The U.S. watches closely the growing closeness of Russia-Armenia-Iran relations. Energy, in particular the alternative Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, creates unease in Russia and Iran. Because this route will be opened towards Mediterranean countries, with Israel is at the top of the list... Maybe Russia plans to use Georgia as an alternative base in response to a strike on Iran, as the U.S. uses Turkey as an alternative. Russia wanted to show Georgia its military force, and send the message it is its “back yard” or that will not be “used to launch attacks on Iran”…

Is this possible? Yes... And it is for this reason Turkey finds itself at the center of a state of “war readiness”… And if Turkey is unsuccessful in dissuading Ahmadinejad, difficult and heated days lie ahead for Turkey…

Turkey, Iran: Ankara's Priorities Shift, 18/08/2008
STRATFOR -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two-day trip to Ankara ended Aug. 15. While the Iranian government and state media have touted his trip as proof that Iran and Turkey are close allies, the Turkish government is far more concerned with containing the current situation in the Caucasus, which could have major implications for Turkey’s ally Azerbaijan. Read STARTFOR analysis.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrapped up a two-day trip to Ankara on Aug. 15. The Iranian government and state media have been hyping Ahmadinejad’s visit to Turkey for days in an attempt to showcase to the world the Iranian belief that Iran and Turkey, as the two principle non-Arab regional powerhouses, are close and natural allies.

But while Iran is eager to forge closer ties with Turkey, the Turks do not have much time for Ahmadinejad right now. Ankara has bigger things on its mind, namely the Russians.

Turkey is heir to the Ottoman Empire, which once extended deep into the southern Caucasus region where Russia just wrapped up an aggressive military campaign against Georgia. Turkey’s geopolitical interests in the Caucasus have primarily been defensive in nature, focused on keeping the Russians and Persians at bay. Now that Russia is resurging in the Caucasus, the Turks have no choice but to get involved.

The Turks primarily rely on their deep ethnic, historical and linguistic ties to Azerbaijan to extend their influence into the Caucasus. Azerbaijan was alarmed, to say the least, when it saw Russian tanks crossing into Georgia. As far as Azerbaijan was concerned, Baku could have been the next target in Russia’s military campaign.

However, Armenia — Azerbaijan’s primary rival — remembers well the 1915 Armenian genocide by the Turks, and looks to Iran and especially Orthodox Christian Russia for its protection. Now that Russia has shown it is willing to act on behalf of allies like South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the Caucasus, the Armenians, while militarily outmatched by the Azerbaijanis, are now feeling bolder and could see this as their chance to preempt Azerbaijan in yet another battle for the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region— especially if it thinks it can look to Russia to militarily intervene on its behalf.

The Turks and their ethnic kin in Azerbaijan are extremely wary of Russia’s intentions for the southern Caucasus beyond Georgia. Sources told Stratfor that Azerbaijan has learned that the Russian military jets that bombed Gori and Poti were based out of Armenia. This development not only signaled a significant expansion of Russia’s military presence in the southern Caucasus, but it also implied that Armenia had actually signed off on the Russian foray into Georgia, knowing that Russian dominance over Georgia would guarantee Armenian security and impose a geographic split between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If the Armenians became overly confident and made a move against Azerbaijan for Nagorno-Karabakh, expecting Russian support, the resulting war would have a high potential of drawing the Turks into a confrontation with the Russians — something that both NATO member Turkey and Russia have every interest in avoiding.

The Turks also have a precarious economic relationship with Russia. The two countries have expanded their trade with each other significantly in recent years. In the first half of 2008, trade between Russia and Turkey amounted to $19.9 billion, making Russia Turkey’s biggest trading partner. Much of this trade is concentrated in the energy sphere. The Turks currently import approximately 64 percent of the natural gas they consume from the Russians. Though Turkey’s geographic position enables it to pursue energy links in the Middle East and the Caucasus that can bypass Russian territory, the Russians have made it abundantly clear over the past few days that the region’s energy security will still depend on MOSCOW ’s good graces.

Turkey’s economic standing also largely depends on its ability to act as a major energy transit hub for the West through pipelines such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which was recently forced offline due to a purported Kurdish militant attack and the war in Georgia. Turkey simply cannot afford to see the Russians continue their surge into the Caucasus and threaten its energy supply.

For these reasons, Turkey is on a mission to keep this tinderbox in the Caucasus contained. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent the last couple of days meeting with top Russian leaders in MOSCOW and then with the Georgian president in Tbilisi . During his meetings with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, President Dmitri Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Erdogan pushed the idea of creating a Caucasus union that would include both Russia and Georgia. Though this organization would likely be little more than a talk shop, it is a sign of Turkey’s interest in reaching a mutual understanding with Russia that would allow both sides to maintain a comfortable level of influence in the region without coming to blows.

The Iranians, meanwhile, are sitting in the backseat. Though Iran has a foothold in the Caucasus through its support for Armenia, the Iranians lack the level of political, military and economic gravitas that Turkey and Russia currently hold in this region. Indeed, Erdogan did not even include Iran in his list of proposed members for the Caucasus union, even though Iran is one of the three major powers bordering the region. The Turks also struck a blow to Iran by holding back from giving Ahmadinejad the satisfaction of sealing a key energy agreement for Iran to provide Turkey with natural gas, preferring instead to preserve its close relationship with the United States and Israel. Turkey simply is not compelled to give Iran the attention that it is seeking at the moment.

The one thing that Turkey can look to Iran for, however, is keeping the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict under control. Iran’s support for Armenia has naturally put Tehran on a collision course with Ankara when dealing with the Caucasus in the past. But when faced with a common threat of a resurgent Russia, both Turkey and Iran can agree to disagree on their conflicting interests in this region and use their leverage to keep Armenia or Azerbaijan from firing off a shot and pulling the surrounding powers into a broader conflict. In light of the recent BTC explosion claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkey can also look to Iran to play its part in cracking down on PKK rebels in the region, many of whom have spent the past year fleeing a Turkish crackdown in northern Iraq by traversing through Iran to reach the southern Caucasus.

While Iran and Turkey can cooperate in fending off the Russians, it will primarily be up to Turkey to fight the battle in the Caucasus. Russia has thus far responded positively to Turkey’s diplomatic engagements, but in a region with so many conflicting interests, the situation could change in a heartbeat.

Strategic Forecasting, Inc., Stratfor, is a private intelligence agency founded in 1996 in Austin, Texas. George Friedman is the founder, chief intelligence officer, and CEO of the company.

Russian-Georgian Conflict Scrambles Strategic Map Of Europe
16/08/2008 The FINANCIAL -- "The Russian tanks rumbling across parts of Georgia are forcing a fundamental reassessment of strategic interests across Europe in a way not considered since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the subsequent collapse of communism.

"Washington and European capitals had encouraged liberalization in lands once firmly under the Soviet aegis. Now, they find themselves asking a question barely posed in the past two decades: How far will or can Russia go, and what should the response be? The answer will play out not just in the European Union, but along its new eastern frontier, in once-obscure places like Moldova and Azerbaijan.

"Already, the United States has changed tack toward MOSCOW . There will be no U.S. military action in the Caucasus, but by dispatching Condoleezza Rice to Georgia and insisting that Russia withdraw, Washington underlined that the Russians should not move on the capital, Tbilisi . French leaders, acting on behalf of Europe, had already firmly told the Russians they could not insist on the ouster of Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili , as precondition for a cease-fire.

"Farther west in Poland, American negotiators Thursday dropped resistance to giving the Poles advanced Patriot missiles in exchange for stationing parts of a missile defense system there. That system, the Americans insist, is intended to deflect attack from Iran.

"The Russian ambassador to NATO , Dmitri Rogozin, was not the only member of the Russian military and political leadership who saw things differently. "The fact that this was signed in a period of a very difficult crisis in the relationship between Russia and the United States over the situation in Georgia shows that of course the missile defense system will not be deployed against Iran but against the strategic potential of Russia," he told Reuters.

"The Poles, indeed, had their own security in mind. "Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of - knock on wood - any possible conflict," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.

"The reality is that international relations are changing," said Pawel Swieboda, director of demosEUROPA, an independent research organization based in Warsaw. "For the first time since 1991, Russia has used military force against a sovereign state in the post-Soviet area. The world will not be the same. A new phenomenon is unfolding in front or our eyes: a re-emerging power that is willing to use force to guarantee it interests. The West does not know how to respond."

"At stake 20 years ago was whether the Kremlin, then under Mikhail Gorbachev, would intervene militarily to stop the collapse of communism. But Gorbachev chose to cut Eastern Europe free as he focused - in vain - on preventing the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.

"Communist bloc lands from the Baltic States in the north to Bulgaria in the south have since joined the European Union and NATO - a feat, despite flaws, that in the Western view has made the continent more secure and democratic.

"But Russia never liked the expansion of NATO . In the 1990s, it was too weak to resist; today, in the Caucasus, Russia is showing off its power and sending an unmistakable message: Georgia, or much larger Ukraine , will never be allowed to join NATO .

"The implications of Russia's action reverberate well beyond that, from the European Union's muddled relations with its key energy supplier, Russia, through Armenia and Azerbaijan in the south, to Ukraine and Moldova.

"This region has everything the West and Russia both covet and abhor: immense reserves of oil and gas, innumerable ethnic splits and tensions, corrupt and authoritarian regimes, pockets of territory which have become breeding grounds or safe havens for Islamic fundamentalists. As a result, the region has become the arena for competition between the Americans and Europeans on the one hand, and Russia on the other, over how to bring these countries into their respective spheres of influence.

"The EU - as ever, slow and divided - has offered few concrete proposals in order to bring the countries of what Russia calls its "near abroad" - Belarus, Ukraine , the Caucasus and the Caspian - closer to Europe. Russia insists it should protect ethnic Russians and Russian citizens in those countries - a point that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France seemed to concede this week in a Kremlin appearance alongside President Dmitri Medvedev.

"The emergency meeting this week of EU foreign ministers showed just how divided they were. Analysts say it is because the 27 member states have not been able to separate their view of Russia from adopting a clear strategy towards the former Soviet republics on the EU's new eastern borders.

"The Georgia crisis shows that Russia is in the process of testing how far it can go," said Niklas Nilsson of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Stockholm. "This is part of a much bigger geopolitical game. It is time for the Europeans to decide what kind of influence it wants in the former Soviet states. That is the biggest strategic challenge the EU now faces."

"NATO, led by the U.S and several East European countries, has reached out more actively. At a summit meeting in Bucharest in April, Georgia and Ukraine failed to get on a concrete path to membership as they had sought, but did secure a promise of joining eventually.

"Georgia and its supporters say that NATO membership would have protected Georgians from Russian tanks. West European diplomats by contrast note with relief that Georgia is not in NATO , and thus could not invoke the Article V of the alliance charter that stipulates that an attack on one member justifies other alliance nations coming to its defense.

"The newly resurgent Russians, buoyed by oil and gas wealth and the firm leadership of Vladimir Putin, have played their hand with less hesitation.

"Tomas Valasek, the Slovak-born director of foreign policy and defense at the Center for European Reform in London, says Russia has used the ethnic and territorial card in order to persuade some NATO countries that admitting Ukraine or Georgia would prove more dangerous and unstable than keeping them out. Georgia's incursion Aug. 7 into South Ossetia, a territory that fought Georgia from 1990-1992, serves both these Russian arguments and MOSCOW 's passionate objections to the West's support for an independent Kosovo.

"Recognize Kosovo's break with Serbia, Putin warned last spring, and Russia will feel entitled to do the same with South Ossetia and Georgia's other breakaway enclave, Abkhazia - where Putin needs stability in order to realize his cherished project of the 2014 Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi.

"Ukraine, bigger than France and traditionally seen by Russians as integral to their heritage and dominion, has been conspicuously quiet over the past week. President Viktor Yushchenko flew to Tbilisi with the presidents of the three Baltic states and Poland to show support. But he later failed to join them at the side of President Mikheil Saakashvili . Both Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko have been measured. "They are very concerned about the Crimea and the energy situation ahead of the winter," said a spokesman who requested anonymity.

"In the case of Crimea, Yushchenko signed a decree that would impose further controls over access to the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based. Russia has insisted it would keep the fleet there despite a 1997 agreement between MOSCOW and Kiev to end the lease in 2017.

"Senior Ukrainian officials say that the weak EU response on Georgia will only embolden Russia to focus even more on Ukraine , where many inhabitants speak Russian and, particularly in the eastern half, look to MOSCOW , not Kiev , for leadership.

"The crisis in Georgia has clear implications for regional security, and of course Ukraine ," said Hryhoriy Nemyria, deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine who is responsible for European integration. "This crisis makes crystal clear that the security vacuums that have existed in the post-Soviet space remain dangerous.

"After Georgia is Ukraine ," said Swieboda. "The EU and U.S. cannot take their eyes off Ukraine now. Russia will do everything possible to ensure that NATO will not offer Ukraine the chance to start accession talks in December."

"As for Georgia's eastern neighbor Azerbaijan, energy and ethnic tensions provide ample fodder for strategic dispute. Georgia and Azerbaijan are crucial for EU plans to build the Nabucco pipeline that would bring gas from Central Asia and Azerbaijan via Georgia to Europe. That would weaken Europe's dependence on Russia; it is hard to see investors lining up to bankroll Nabucco if Georgia remains in military conflict. Azerbaijan also has Caspian oil, which must again travel west via Georgia.

"But it is the unresolved status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, which explains why President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan has been measured in his response to the crisis in Georgia.

After a bloody war in the early 1990s, Nagorno-Karabakh functions as a part of Armenia, supported by Russia.

"Aliyev has adopted a different style than Saakashvili ," said Leila Alieva, director of the National Committee on Azerbaijan's Integration in Europe. "We know that Russia is involved in Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev does not want to provoke Russia by trying to change the status quo of the enclave. If he tried to do so, it could cause a big Russian reaction."
By Judy Dempsey, Herald Tribune

Anti-Turkish Armenian Activities In Syria Are On The Rise
The anti-Turkish activities of Armenians in Syria continue. Syrian Armenians now claim the settlements, buildings and churches in Turkey that are allegedly belonging to the so-called Armenian community. The officials of the Armenian Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches in Aleppo are trying to provoke our Armenian citizens in Turkey by spreading lies that Hrant Dink also bequeathed in his will that the mentioned buildings and the churches that were transformed into mosques should be identified and reopened for service. It is reported that the administrations of all three churches will forge a committee of Syrian Armenians so as to carry out the mentioned activity and that related costs will be covered by the budget allocated by the Syrian Government to Armenian churches.

Moreover, the daily "Kantsasar" Newspaper that is published in Aleppo under the auspices of the Dashnak Party gave out a poster depicting "the former Armenian settlements". The said poster also included pictures of our Sanliurfa province, telling ridiculous lies that regional churches have been transformed into mosques and that the name of "the Baba Abrahamyan brook" was turned into "the Fished Lake". In another poster published by the same newspaper in May 2008, there were pictures of the historical church in thee Akdamar Island in the province of Van, asserting that the red color in the Turkish flag symbolized the spilled Armenian blood. The related authorities in Syria are expected to intervene and put an end to these baseless, unreasonable and ridiculous lies as soon as possible.

A short while ago, a monument on "the 1915 Incidents" was erected in the garden of the Saint Hagop Armenian Orthodox Church in Haseke Ras Al Ayn right after the end of the restoration activities. During the speeches delivered in the opening ceremony, false accusations were made that Turks murdered thousands of Armenians in Haseke. It was surprising that along with the Armenian congregation, prominent members of certain Arab tribes, military and civilian officials also took part in the ceremony. It creates question marks that when anti-Turkish speeches were delivered the Syrian officials did not intervene. Given the Turkish-Syrian relations in the recent period, Syrian authorities should behave sensitively and not permit such activities.
Diplomatic Observer

Aug. 20, 2008, D.C. Makes a Statement on Armenian Genocide, By Colby Itkowitz, CQ Staff

Late last year, lawmakers balked under pressure from the Turkish government, which warned against the United States officially declaring a century-old massacre of Armenians as genocide. Apparently, the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment doesn't scare that easily.

The city agency has given its stamp of approval to convert the former Federal-American National Bank into the Armenian Genocide Museum of America, according to public records.

"Visitors to the museum will come to understand the Armenian Genocide as the prototype for modern crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur," a Web site for the museum says.

The debate over whether to declare the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the former Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago heated up in Congress when Bush administration officials warned that such a move would threaten U.S. relations with Turkey. The resolution (H Res 106) was approved in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Oct. 10, 2007, but was never sent to the floor.

The museum is set to open in 2011.
Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill, (c) 2008 Congressional Quarterly Inc.

Dashnaks Vow Protests Against Gul’s Visit By Anush Martirosian
Turkish President Abdullah Gul will face street protests if he accepts his Armenian counterpart’s invitation to visit Yerevan and watch the upcoming match between the national football teams of the two countries, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) reiterated on Thursday.

President Serzh Sarkisian extended the invitation to Gul earlier this summer to underscore his desire to improve Armenia’s historically strained relations with Turkey. Ankara offered to engage in a “dialogue” with Yerevan shortly after he took office in April.

Dashnaktsutyun, which is represented in Sarkisian’s coalition cabinet and has traditionally favored a harder line on Turkey, makes no secret of its disapproval of the invitation. Aghvan Vartanian, a leader of the nationalist party, reaffirmed its plans to stage demonstrations against what would be the first-ever visit to Armenia by a Turkish head of state.

“If President Gul visits Armenia to watch the game, there will be meetings, protests and calls against Turkey,” Vartanian told a news conference. “But that will not be organized only by Dashnaktsutyun.”

“We have problems with Turkey and solutions to those problems relate to the future, rather than the past,” he said.

Vartanian made clear that Sarkisian can not force Dashnaktsutyun to reconsider its plans. “Dashnaktsutyun has always been an independent political force and has expressed its positions on various issues regardless of what others will think,” he said.

Dashnaktsutyun leaders earlier expressed concern about Sarkisian’s stated readiness to accept, in principle, Turkey’s proposal to form a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians that would jointly examine the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. They said Turkish recognition of the massacres as genocide is a necessary condition for normalizing bilateral ties.

Turkish President Faces A Dilemma In Accepting Armenia's Invitation, Hurriyet
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul faces a tough decision on whether to accept Armenia's invitation to watch a football game between the two countries' national teams in Yerevan. Gul is yet to make a decision, however his closest aides and the foreign ministry has divided over the issue.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has invited Gul to watch a football match between the two counties' national teams on Sep. 6 to mark "a new symbolic start in the two countries' relations".

Some of Gul's closest aides and advisors think he should accept the invitation and pay a visit to Yerevan, while some others think he should not. The other option before Gul is sending a lower level official instead of the president, while some others insist no one should go to the neighboring country.

Supporters of the acceptance of the invitation say such a visit by a Turkish president would send the world a message that Turkey favors compromise and dialogue.

The other camp, however, is concerned the Armenian diaspora could use this visit to promote its claims of so-called "Armenian genocide" instead of using this as a window of opportunity. Also it is feared that a protest of Gul by Armenian people at the match could worsen the relations.

Still Gul is expected to make his decision on the issue at the 11th hour due to the busy diplomacy calendar that Turkey faces. The dilemma that the Turkish president faces is a strong signal that the lack of confidence between the two sides emerges as one of the biggest challenges in the process to normalize relations.

Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency. However there is no diplomatic relations between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue.

A warming period had started between two neighboring countries after the presidents exchanged letters after Sargsyan's election victory.

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
Law Of The Jungle, August 18, 2008, Yusuf Kanli

Conformity with international law is a fundamental principle in international affairs as well as a basic element of bilateral and multilateral code of conduct between the members of the international community of nations. As opposed to the “law of the powerful” or “law of the jungle,” the principle of supremacy of international law provides particularly to the less powerful or smaller nations the ability to defend their rights and interests against the mighty powers or the big states.

When, however, law of the powerful replaces or dominates the international law it becomes all the more difficult to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, what is legitimate right of a country and what is an imperialistic tool for dominance …

With the collapse of the Iron Wall and subsequently the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, a new and unsustainable unipolar world order came to being while the Russian Federation plunged into economic, political and social problems and battled with them for a long period. With the U.S. adopting the “You are either with us or against us” doctrine of George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, on the one hand increasing oil and gas prices helping Russia recover from its woes and start aspiring for its long-lost global power, prominence and influence and on the other hand gradually started to shape up a new world. Unfortunately, this new world is one based on the law of the powerful, rather than the international law.

Imperial aspirations

The U.S. occupation of Iraq, attacks on Afghanistan, challenge to “keep all options including use of force” to convince Iran give up its nuclear ambitions and “second track” discussions in military journals and elsewhere by some U.S. retired officers suggesting redrawing maps of the Middle East – including Turkey and punishing Serbia (to avenge the Serbian atrocities during the dreadful war disintegrating the former Yugoslavia) policies were just some of the hallmarks of the post 9/11 “achievements” of the Bush administration.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the majority Armenian-populated “Nogorno-Karabagh” enclave of Azerbaijan, carving up of the Abhazia, and South Ossetia statelets in Georgia and other Russian-manipulated trouble spots of the Caucasus, as well as the growing support of Russia for Serbia, growing Russian diplomatic influence regarding Iran and other Mideast developments and most lately the Russian occupation of Georgian territory with the pretext of “defending South Ossetians” in line with its “peacekeeping role” in the region, underline, on the other hand, that Moscow which has re-structured its economic and military might – thanks to increased oil and gas prices – still had no less imperial aspirations than Washington.

Lavrov's adamancy

“One can forget about any talk about Georgia's territorial integrity because I believe, it is impossible to persuade South Ossetia and Abkhazia to agree with the logic that they can be forced back into the Georgian state.” A declaration of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is indeed nothing less than a declaration by Russia that Moscow has restarted considering itself as a “super power” which is determined to apply force and achieve whatever change it would like to see in the region in considered within its “sovereignty sphere …”

What Russia did in Georgia and what the U.S. has been doing in Iraq over the past years are in essence no different than each other. Both two countries without resorting to international law and acquiring international legitimacy have taken unilateral punitive actions against what they themselves considered “wrong and unacceptable” developments within areas they believed fall within their “sovereign influence area.” That is, the way the U.S. perceived pre-war Iraq developments and the way Russia perceived Georgia's efforts to re-establish its territorial integrity as well as the way they responded to such developments underline that the concept of national sovereignty was considered by both two countries as far less inferior and insignificant than the “sovereign rights of the powerful.”

In a way we can reach the same conclusions in Chinese opposition on Tibet, or the EU's and NATO's approaches towards Serbia …The problem is that these big powers could use such pretext to undertake punitive action in full violation of the international law and even go to the extent of changing administrations the way they like.

If Lavrov can say today, “One can forget about any talk about Georgia's territorial integrity,” who can guarantee that the same sentence will not be used tomorrow for some other country or countries?

Law of the powerful is jungle law … Who will be the next prey?

Caucasus Plan Void Without Yerevan August 18, 2008, Yasemin Çongar

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an's proporsal of a Project for Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus is a blind shot. It is an initiative easy to criticize for being an empty shell or destined to remain as merely words when one looks to its foundations. There might be some truth in these criticisms too, but I think these do not diminish the importance of Ankara's offer. I do not count the hasty and raw appearance of Erdog(an's offer, which was presented to Russian and Georgian presidents, and that will be shared with Azerbaijani president next week, as a fatal weakness. Even being able to say that “the initiative may spark a fresh and multilateral talk in the region,” saves Ankara's proposal from being futile, it even makes it an intelligent one.

This plan must be strengthened with efforts to normalize relations between Yerevan and Turkey. The time and ground are ripe for such an attempt. The impression Ankara left on me is that President Abdullah Gül will go to Yerevan on Sept. 6 to watch the 2010 World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia. Armenia's decision to exempt Turkish spectators from visa requirement between September 1 to 6 is an important gesture towards facilitating Gül's visit and creating a better atmosphere for the trip. I think that Erdog(an and his close circle developed the Caucasus Project while bearing in mind that Armenia must have a place in it and with a possibility of opening the way for normalizing relations with Armenia in their heads.

If my opinion is right, Erdog(an will go to Baku as a determined leader to break de facto Azerbaijani blockade on Turkish foreign policy decisions next week. While offering his “blind shot” to Aliyev, he will emphasize the need to start a regional dialogue for solution of problems in Nagorno Karabakh, just as in the North and South Ossetia. It is imperative that the limited dialogue between Armenia and Turkey give way to regular diplomatic ties for his conversation to have a meaning.

Pros And Cons Of A Visit To Yerevan
Yavuz Baydar Y.Baydar@Todayszaman.Com
It seems that the big question will remain to be answered to the very end. Will President Abdullah Gül say yes to the invitation to Yerevan by his counterpart in Armenia, Serzh Sarksyan?

The possible meeting to take place there represents a fascinating pretext. For the first time in their history, the national soccer teams of both countries are to meet in a match, on Sept. 6, which will help qualify for the World Cup 2010. Comparisons to the historic ping-pong diplomacy between the US and China in the ‘70s are enthusiastically drawn by the commentators.

True, a wonderful pretext, but it is an opportunity that also involves high risk. To accept would be as easy or as tough as to reject.

Gül is, my sources tell me, inclined to accept. A key defender of resolving the conflict between Ankara and Yerevan and establishing a new political climate to be dominated by normalized relations, he would certainly be fit to take this bull by the horns. The main question for Gül is not whether he would do it, but how. That part is a tricky one.

The easing of Armenian visa requirements for soccer fans from Turkey is a step to be commended, to be sure. After all, the embargo imposed by Turkey through closed land borders did not prevent Armenian workers from flying rather regularly to Istanbul and Armenian tourists to the beach resorts on the Turkish coast.

Turks have also supported the regular presence of Yerevan in the context of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, in Istanbul. On various levels, a dialogue has been established between NGOs, journalists and academics. The heinous murder of Hrant Dink clearly helped people sympathetic to rapprochement move more keenly ahead. So on the social and diplomatic level, things do not look that bad.

But they do in the Caucasus. The crisis in Georgia that erupted so unexpectedly might add to the matters to be considered if Gül is to accept Sarksyan’s invitation. The progress of Turco-Georgian relations has been taking place not exactly in line with Armenia’s national interests, and Gül’s visit might also be taken by Russia as a symbol of “taking sides” against Moscow, particularly if one also takes into consideration that due to the “squeeze” by the Turkish embargo and enforced, involuntary cooperation with Iran in the south, Armenia fell increasingly more under the influence of Russia in the past decade.

On the other hand, the crisis in Georgia and the Caucasus in general might create a challenge for Gül and Sarksyan in an exercise to discuss common interests and -- who knows? -- strategic openings for the future. As with Iraq, Turkey more or less looks like the only reasonable path to the West for Yerevan. In the long run, EU and NATO membership for Armenia will benefit -- more than Armenia itself or Turkey -- the entire Western community. It is all a matter of vision, and Gül made clear in a recent Guardian interview that the regional actors do need a new vision.

True, there are great obstacles before Armenian-Turkish normalization. What concerns Gül most of all are the issues “shelved”: the bleeding and explosive conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh (and the heavy Armenian and Azeri arms spending); the dispute over the tragic fate of hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians between 1915-1918; and what Ankara sees as “Armenian denial of recognition of the border.” Nobody expects both statesmen to plunge into finding a solution on these issues, but it seems reasonable that views can be expressed as to clarify the intentions on Karabakh and opening the border. The soundest method would be not to talk at all, about history, for now.

Another point of concern on a possible visit to Yerevan is how to deal with the Azeris. As much as Gül is inclined to further talks with the Armenians, so is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan keen on enhancing cooperation with Baku. It is no secret that these two have some differences of opinion as to how the triangle puzzle will be handled. The success of a visit to Yerevan will be therefore almost entirely dependent on whether Erdogan in particular will be strong enough to persuade Baku that it is in the Azeris’ interest, as well; that a peaceful resolution be reached on Karabakh; and that whatever is in Turkey’s interest, must be simply be in Azerbaijan’s best interest as well.

In general, Gül’s visit will have many pros, rather than cons. But it must be made clear that he is truly welcomed and well-treated in Yerevan. There should be no room for any provocations at all. The match has the potential to turn the course of history. Sarksyan and Gül, if keen and well-supported by the West, can even stand as candidates for the Nobel Prize for peace.

Let us end with a question: If the EU is seen as truly interested in normalization between Turkey and Armenia, why shouldn’t Sarksyan also add Nicolas Sarkozy to his invitation list for the match?

The Caucasus needs such signals, as much as it enjoys 22 men running after a ball.

Turkey 'No Enemy' To Armenia: Gul
ANKARA (AFP) — President Abdullah Gul sent a reconciliatory message to neighbouring Armenia on Saturday, saying Turkey is "no enemy" to any country in its region, as he mulled a possible landmark trip to Yerevan.

The conflict between Georgia and Russia shows the need for "early measures to resolve frozen problems in the region and... prevent instability in the future," said Gul in televised remarks in the central city of Nevsehir.

"This is our understanding on all problems. We are no enemy to anyone in the region," he said, reiterating a Turkish proposal to set up a regional forum for stability in the Caucasus.

Gul's conciliatory remark came in response to a question on whether he would accept an invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian to go to Yerevan in September to watch a World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia.

He replied he was still evaluating the invitation.

Ankara has refused to establish diplomatic ties with Yerevan since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991 because of Armenian efforts to secure international recognition of Armenian massacres under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

In 1993 Turkey shut its border with Armenia in a show of solidarity with its close ally Azerbaijan, then at war with Armenia, dealing a heavy economic blow to the impoverished nation in the strategic Caucasus region.

Diplomats from Turkey and Armenia met secretly in Switzerland in July in a fresh effort to normalise ties following three rounds of talks in 2005 and 2006. No progress is so far publicly known.

Turkish and Armenian leaders have meanwhile met on the sidelines of international gatherings, including a Black Sea regional summit in Istanbul last year.

Armenians claim up to 1.5 million of their kin were killed in orchestrated massacres during World War I as the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor, was falling apart.

Turkey rejects the genocide label and argues that 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia and sided with invading Russian troops.

Is Turkey The New Tuscany?
15 August 2008, www.independent.co.uk

It straddles Asia and Europe – and is the holiday choice of the chattering classes. As David Cameron joins them, John Walsh explains why Turkey is having its moment in the sun
© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
East and West: Istanbul, the Golden Horn, and the Asian part across the Bosphorus in the distance

Next week, David Cameron is off to Turkey for his summer holidays. Boris Johnson has just come back from there; he posed on a boat in fetching red, floral, shorts. Boris, of course, has a family connection with the place: his ancestor, Ali Kemal, a Turkish journalist, served in the government of Ahmed Tevfik Pasha, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire. But Cameron? What is it about the place that has brought the two most powerful Conservative politicians in the UK, two Old Etonian members of the Bullingdon Club, to a country of 70 million Muslim people with a dubious human rights record and no access to a decent bottle of Château Pétrus 1985?

It could simply be that other places are just less appealing to the modern politician. Australia is too far away; Africa is too volatile; and visiting America would seem like sucking up to President Bush when everyone is the world is preparing to say good riddance. Mauritius is too keen on the modern slavery of indentured labour. Spain is too contemptuous about British holidaymakers. Holidaying in France without a personal invitation from Met Mme Sarkozy seems low-rent. Italy is too familiar – didn't MPs stop going to Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche at the end of the millennium? The Greek islands have been too overrun by British students and clubbers since the mid-1970s.

It may, of course, be the heat. Turkey is scorching in August. You can guarantee that, every single morning, up to 40 degrees of incinerating rays will attack your flesh like a six-foot steam-iron. Mr Cameron has been photographed splashing around a Cornwall beach in a black Peak vest and with a body-board; he'll need all the covering he can get.

A more sophisticated reason for visiting Turkey is to inspect its unique status as the hinge between East and West – not just Asia and Europe, but between Islam and Christianity, fundamentalism and enlightenment, spiritual zealotry and decadent consumerism. Turkey is, for a Tory mindset, the nearest bit of Asia you can visit while still feeling safely in Europe. It's Asia-lite. It's a 98-per-cent Muslim country without the scary bits: the fatwa, the jihad, the suicide bombers. And within its boundaries, a modern East-West-style struggle for the upper hand is taking place every day.

It was known to the Romans as Asia Minor, and in its northwest region, the border of Europe and Asia is a daisy-chain of waterways – the Dardanelles strait, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus that leads to the north coast, thereby connecting the pleasure steamers and pedalos of the Aegean with the scary Russian tankers of the Black Sea. The western end of the Dardanelles is the location of Troy, which every schoolboy knows as the setting of Homer's Iliad. On the north shore of the Sea of Marmara, the ancient Greeks founded a city called Byzantium, which, renamed Constantinople, became the centre of the Greek-speaking Roman Empire. The Ottoman Empire nabbed it in 1453, and made it Europe's largest, richest and most glamorous city in the Middle Ages. Its name changed again to Stamboul, and was finally resolved into Istanbul in 1930, during the reformsof Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Ataturk's name, 70 years after his death in 1938, remains crucial in the debate about modern Turkey. He was the commander of the Ottoman forces in the First World War who wiped out the invading British and Australian forces at Gallipoli, and became the key figure in the nationalist movement that wrested control of Turkey back from the French, Italians, Greeks and Russian-supported Armenians who had controlled its regions for too long.

He was a pragmatic, pro-Western visionary who pulled Turkey out of its dark ages through a mixture of democratic initiatives and authoritarian diktats. He insisted Turks spoke Turkish (not Arabic,) banned the fez (too Ottoman and, as it were, old-hat), he insisted on the Western Gregorian calendar rather than the Middle Eastern, he abandoned Arabic script for Roman letters, insisted Turkish citizens took surnames, banned the old Sultanish harem practice of polygamy, championed Turkish culture and gave everyone the vote. He also separated church from state, and banned religion from having any influence on politics. He gave the country a new sense of its post-Ottoman identity, as a nation state rather than a mix of random nationalities. And he insisted that the state should be entirely Turkish (which meant, shockingly to modern eyes, shipping all Greek speakers off to Greece and dispossessing the Kurds.)

This did wonders for national pride. Statues of the great man, dressed in a sensible Western suit or astride a horse, can be found in every one-mosque town across the nation, while his name or face appears on stamps, currency notes, airports, and bridges. It gave the Turkish people a self-consciousness and hostility towards both religion and non-Turks that sustains to this day.

This may account for the feeling, common to every traveller, that Turkey is a Janus-faced, mildly schizophrenic land of old and new. In the west, around Bodrum and Izmir, where tourists flock every summer to drink raki, hit the beaches and dive off boats, local women go out to work, live as they please, drink and flirt in a very non-Muslim way; the girls dress as if they were in Camden Town.

In the less touristy interior – in Kayseri, for instance, the manufacturing city in the heart of Cappadocia, or further east towards the Black Sea coast, things are more strait-laced: all the factories have prayer-rooms for their workers, and the city is dominated by a huge mosque. Women are required to preserve their modesty on pain of death by "honour killings" (of which they were 2000 in the first six years of this century.) Even on the south coast, in the popular Bay of Antalya, local women still wear slave pants, bake pancakes in the open air and perform feats of clairvoyance as they did 300 years ago. The muezzin calling the faithful to prayer from the towers of mosques may occasionally be drowned out by the throb of Turkish techno, but he's still around.

This is a country where, to modern urban voters, "secularism" is synonymous with democracy. The majority of Turks want another Ataturk in power – someone who will steer them towards the West than the East, so there can be more "Anatolian Tigers," benefiting from the economic freedoms of the 1980s, under Turgut Ozal's Motherland Party.

"We need to protect our modern lifestyle. We don't want very religious or conservative people to govern us," a club owner called Ali Korur told the BBC last year, "Some people worry that Ataturk's revolution is in danger, but I think people who are used to modern life will never return to the age of ignorance."

The chief emblem of "ignorance" is the turban, or headscarf, worn by religious women. It has become the centre of a noisy debate. Since 1997, when the army authorities booted out a government for being too "Islamist," Turkish women have been banned by law from wearing headscarves in "public offices." This can mean universities and schools and, as two-thirds of the female population habitually cover their heads, millions of women missed the chance to attend college. The wearers were and are seldom dangerous radicals or fundamentalists, but merely conservative-minded Muslims who take seriously their religion's stipulations about modesty.

The issue was tackled this February, when the Turkish parliament passed an amendment that said: "No-one can be denied his or her right to a higher education," and grudgingly allowed traditional scarves to be worn on campus. Hostile voices complained it was the beginning of a process which would impose religious beliefs on the population.

This is why Turkey is so fascinating to foreign intellectuals: it's an upside-down world where left-wingers yell at scarf-wearing girls in the street, where modern Muslims worship secularism and dread expressions of piety, and where the libertarian reforms of 80 years ago are invoked, in the 2000s, to quell free expression.

The spirit of Ataturk lies behind Article 301, in the modern penal code, which bans people from "insulting Turkishness." When Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel laureate, talked about the Armenian massacres by Ottoman Turks in 1915, he was arrested and tried (the charges were dropped, but the world took notice). A woman journalist called Perihan Magden wrote in favour of conscientious objection and was tried for "turning people against military service". The prime minister, Recep Erdogan, sued caricature artists for painting him as an animal, and won. No wonder Turkey's application for full membership of the EU has been temporarily delayed.

David Cameron would be advised not to mention the Armenian events to his hosts, or the fate of the Kurds, or the excellence of Midnight Express, Alan Parker's movie which offered a rather negative picture of the Turkish prison system. Cameron should also avoid mentioning Cyprus, or wearing a fez in public, or asking for tickets to the camel wrestling (it was all over in January.) But he will surely be intrigued by a nation on whose vital eight borders, from Iran and Georgia to Bulgaria and Greece, such tumultuous history was fought down the centuries, and where a lot more history seems destined to happen, soon; a country with one foot in Islam and the other in Western capitalism, stuck in the Ataturk past, puzzled by the changing present and slightly paranoid about where its cultural future lies.

Turkish Daily News Cracks Down on Dissent [Michael Rubin]August 15, 2008, National Review Online
More signs that freedom of the press is on the decline appear in Turkey as editors scramble to keep the ruling party happy.

After a frequent commentator on Turkish affairs and Turkish Daily News columnist wrote an article critical of the ruling party's abuses in the Los Angeles Times, the editor of the Turkish Daily News informed him that he would henceforth be banned from its pages for having criticized the prime minister.

This from a tagline of the columnist's new home at EuropeNews:

Robert Ellis is a frequent commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish press and since 2005 also in Turkish Daily News. However, after a critical article on the AKP in the Los Angeles Times in March, he was informed by TDN’s editor he was ‘persona non grata’.

Meanwhile, after the Turkish court's ruling that effectively slapped the ruling party's wrist for ignoring constitutional provisions regarding secularism, the Turkish president has shown that the AKP will not now compromise or change its behavior, having vetoed the appointment of secularists to led Turkish universities and, in many cases, unilaterally substituted his own pro-Islamist candidates.

Anca Interns Return To University And Community Life Committed To Strengthening Grassroots Activism, August 14, 2008, Anca.Org

WASHINGTON, DC - A summer of intense grassroots activism and political training came to an end this week as the 2008 Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) "Leo Sarkisian" summer interns returned to their campuses and communities, energized to put their enhanced skills to work in advancing Armenian American advocacy priorities.

This year's participants gathered from across the U.S., Canada, and as far away as Argentina to work in the ANCA national headquarters and gain first-hand Armenian American advocacy training in the heart of Washington, D.C. "Having such a diverse group of motivated and intelligent young activists, each with different backgrounds and experiences, really added to the richness of this year's internship experience," said Internship Coordinator Serouj Aprahamian. "I think they've gained a lot, not only from working in the office but also from one another and I'm sure they will go on to be true torchbearers for our Cause well into the future."

As in years past, each intern was assigned a specially tailored project geared toward enhancing the ANCA's efforts and strengthening their advocacy skill-set. The internship group also took part in a comprehensive lecture series featuring such highly acclaimed speakers as Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian, Senior Council to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Dean Shahinian, as well as ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian and former ARF Bureau member Garo Armenian.

Participants were also given the opportunity to attend a number of foreign policy and human rights briefings on Capitol Hill, including the testimony of US Undersecretary of State Dan Fried on American policy toward Armenia and the nomination hearings for the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Yerevan, Marie Yovanovitch.

Throughout this whirlwind of Hai Tahd education, training and activity, each participant gained a broader understanding of the factors at play when it comes to Armenia and the advancement of Armenian American issues. They also walked away with a variety of newly gained skills ranging from conducting in-depth research, to working with the media, meeting with representative officials and even engaging in international diplomacy.

Named in honor and memory of pioneering ANCA activist Leo Sarkisian, this eight-week intensive program, now in its 24th year, gives student leaders and activists the tools necessary to effectively advance Armenian American concerns on campus and in their communities. It is an integral part of the ANCA Capital Gateway program, a year-round internship / job placement service which provides Armenian Americans greater opportunities to explore careers on Capitol Hill, in the U.S. Foreign Service and key Washington, DC foreign policy think tanks.

"The great illusion of Armenians" by Talin Suciyan - Nokta
3 August 2008, by Stéphane / ArmeNews

(Following statistical machine translation by Google may contain some errors)

The Armenians can live in peace in Turkey? The diaspora in doubts, and the murder of journalist Hrant Dink confirms Unfortunately, these doubts. The cry from the heart of an Armenian journalist in Istanbul.

Now, talk about justice, law, murderers arrested, why and how has no meaning. Hrant Dink died. Period. The only thing today that worthwhile to be remembered is that Armenian who had managed to make its voice heard was assassinated. The words spoken by the assassin - "I killed an Armenian" - are indeed the best illustration.

Yes, this is an Armenian that the killer has murdered. In doing so, he hurt all Armenians. Under such circumstances, I am Armenian of Turkey, I must confess that today, any prose devoted to the consequences of this murder for democracy, freedom of expression and human rights touches me less that the crime itself. I thought however that the situation which had taken shape from a small decade now offered specifically to the Armenians in Turkey a fresh perspective, and that it was part of normalcy and in the long term. I was convinced that it should be so and not otherwise. But the murder of Hrant has come painfully recall that this new context of freedom was not at all normal and there was indeed no reason why it is. With this crime, I realized that all my hopes were based on this new atmosphere created by Hrant and [its journal Turkish-Armenian] Agos.

The trauma that had been rejected far behind we have suddenly reappeared with the assassination. The speech of earlier generations saying that nothing would change for ever the Armenians of Turkey is therefore proved. Therefore, I have no argument vis-à-vis my parents. When they tell me to "drop" and no longer do this job [journalist], the examples that I could oppose them until recently illustrate how implacable decidedly that nothing has changed. Ditto for the Armenian diaspora, the face of which I am speechless when it states that "the genocide continues." Lately, Hrant often evoked the possibility to leave and leave the country. It is indeed eighty years that "leave" is a possibility that each Armenian considering different moments of his life.

In reality, this situation is normal leave, although it has no place to go and no "homeland" to which to return. I think as Hrant, the day he was assassinated while he was descending the steps of the staircase after the lunch, knew very well where he was going. At the end of December, Hrant had ended his article by this sentence Hovhannes Tumanyan: "Come, my children, but in any case, do not live like us." The Armenian poet, born in 1869 and died in 1923, was witness the most painful moments in the history of Armenians. In this context he had written a few words. As for us, we still perpetuating the experience of all Tumanyan, but five generations later! Rest in peace, Hrant.

Armenia Scraps Visas For Turkish Soccer Fans By Emil Danielyan
In a fresh overture to Ankara, Armenia decided on Thursday to unilaterally suspend its visa regime with Turkey to facilitate the arrival of Turkish fans for the upcoming first-ever match between the two countries’ national football teams.

The Armenian government said Turkish citizens traveling to Armenia from September 1-6 will not require entry visas. “The decision was taken to enable citizens of the Turkish Republic to attend the September 6 game between the football teams of Armenia and Turkey to be played in Yerevan,” read a government statement.

Armenia and Turkey were drawn into the same European group of the qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and are scheduled to play each other in Yerevan and Istanbul. The two teams have never faced each other before.

The forthcoming match in Yerevan’s Hrazdan stadium will come amid renewed hopes for a normalization of relations between the two bitterly estranged neighbors that have no diplomats relations and open border. Ankara offered to embark on a “dialogue” with Yerevan shortly after Armenia’s February 19 presidential election controversially won by Serzh Sarkisian. The latter responded positively to the offer, calling for a “fresh start” in Turkish-Armenian relations.

Earlier this summer, Sarkisian signaled his government readiness to accept, in principle, a Turkish proposal to form a joint commission of historians who would look into the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. He also invited Turkish President Abdullah Gul to arrive in Yerevan and watch with him the World Cup qualifier.

Gul has yet to respond to the invitation. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last month that Gul’s decision will depend on unspecified “developments ahead of the match.” A senior U.S. diplomat told RFE/RL on July 18 that the first-ever trip to Armenia by a Turkish president would be a “real ground-breaking moment.”

Under the rules of world football’s governing body, FIFA, a country hosting a World Cup match must set aside at least 5 percent of stadium seats for traveling fans. The Hrazdan stadium has a capacity of more than 50,000 seats, meaning that 2,500 Turks are entitled to cheering for their team there.

The decision to waive the visa regime was meant to underscore Yerevan’s readiness to allow the presence of a sizable traveling crowd at Hrazdan. Media reports in Turkey have said that as many as 10,000 local fans are eager to travel to the Armenian capital.

The Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) said on Thursday, however, that it has still not been approached by the Turkish Football Federation, which is supposed to distribute game tickets in Turkey. “We still have no information about how many Turkish football fans would like to attend the game,” the FFA’s executive director, Armen Minasian, told RFE/RL. “We have received no applications from the Turkish Football Federation yet.”

With the widely anticipated match bound to arouse nationalist passions in both countries, the presence of a large number Turkey supporters would be a major security headache for the Armenian authorities. The unusual sight of visiting fans waving Turkish flags in a stadium adjacent to Yerevan’s 1915 genocide memorial could infuriate the home crowd.

But Minasian downplayed the security risk. “The government and the FFA are taking all necessary measures to prevent incidents during the march,” he said.

(Turkish Football Federation photo: Turkish players celebrate their dramatic quarter-final victory over Croatia during the 2008 European football championship in Austria.)

FBI’s Plan to ‘Profile’ Muslims by Juan Cole, July 10, 2008, Salon.com
The U.S. Justice Department is considering a change in the grounds on which the FBI can investigate citizens and legal residents of the United States. Till now, DOJ guidelines have required the FBI to have some evidence of wrongdoing before it opens an investigation. The impending new rules, which would be implemented later this summer, allow bureau agents to establish a terrorist profile or pattern of behavior and attributes and, on the basis of that profile, start investigating an individual or group. Agents would be permitted to ask “open-ended questions” concerning the activities of Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans. A person’s travel and occupation, as well as race or ethnicity, could be grounds for opening a national security investigation.

The rumored changes have provoked protests from Muslim American and Arab-American groups. The Council on American Islamic Relations, among the more effective lobbies for Muslim Americans’ civil liberties, immediately denounced the plan, as did James Zogby, the president of the Arab-American Institute. Said Zogby, “There are millions of Americans who, under the reported new parameters, could become subject to arbitrary and subjective ethnic and religious profiling.” Zogby, who noted that the Bush administration’s history with profiling is not reassuring, warned that all Americans would suffer from a weakening of civil liberties.

In fact, Zogby’s statement only begins to touch on the many problems with these proposed rules. The new guidelines would lead to many bogus prosecutions, but they would also prove counterproductive in the effort to disrupt real terror plots. And then there’s Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s rationale for revising the rules in the first place. “It’s necessary,” he explained in a June news conference, “to put in place regulations that will allow the FBI to transform itself as it is transforming itself into an intelligence-gathering organization.” When did Congress, or we as a nation, have a debate about whether we want to authorize the establishment of a domestic intelligence agency? Indeed, late last month Congress signaled its discomfort with the concept by denying the FBI’s $11 million funding request for its data-mining center.

Establishing a profile that would aid in identifying suspects is not in and of itself illegal, though the practice generally makes civil libertarians nervous. When looking for drug couriers, Drug Enforcement Agency agents were permitted by the Supreme Court in United States v. Sokolow (1989) to use indicators such as the use of an alias, nervous or evasive behavior, cash payments for tickets, brief trips to major drug-trafficking cities, type of clothing, and the lack of checked luggage. This technique, however, specifically excluded the use of skin color or other racial features in building the profile.

In contrast, using race and ethnicity as the — or even a — primary factor in deciding whom to stop and search, despite being widespread among police forces, is illegal. Just this spring, the Maryland State Police settled out of court with the ACLU and an African-American man after having been sued for the practice of stopping black and Latino men and searching them for drugs. New Jersey police also got into trouble over stopping people on the grounds of race.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last year in State v. Calvin Lee that a defendant’s plausible allegation that the arrest was initiated primarily because of race would be grounds for discovery: The defense attorney could then request relevant documents from the prosecution that might show discriminatory attitudes and actions on the part of the police. Because racial profiling is most often felt by juries to be inappropriate, its use could backfire on the FBI. Suspects charged on the basis of an investigation primarily triggered by their race could end up being acquitted as victims of government discrimination.

If the aim is to identify al-Qaida operatives or close sympathizers in the United States, racial profiling is counterproductive. Such tiny, cultlike terror organizations are multinational. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, is a Briton whose father hailed from Jamaica, and no racial profile of him would have predicted his al-Qaida ties. Adam Gadahn, an al-Qaida spokesman, is from a mixed Jewish and Christian heritage and hails from suburban Orange County, Calif. When I broached the topic of FBI profiling to some Muslim American friends on Facebook, a scientist in San Francisco replied, “Profiling Muslims or Arabs will just make al-Qaida look outside Islam for its bombers. There are many other disgruntled groups aside from those that worship Allah.”

It is a mystery why the Department of Justice has not learned the lesson that terrorists are best tracked down through good police work brought to bear on specific illegal acts, rather than by vast fishing expeditions. After Sept. 11, the DOJ called thousands of Muslim men in the United States for what it termed voluntary interviews. Not a single terrorist was identified in this manner, though a handful of the interviewees ended up being deported for minor visa offenses. Once it became clear that the interviews might eventuate in arbitrary actions against them, the willingness of American Muslims to cooperate declined rapidly, and so the whole operation badly backfired.

The fiasco of the prosecution of the Detroit Four should also have been instructive. These four Arab men apparently had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, having moved into an apartment in southwest Detroit recently vacated by a man suspected of al-Qaida ties. The prosecution alleged that innocent vacation videotapes of places such as Disneyland found in the apartment were part of a terror plot, and that vague doodles in a notebook depicted targets abroad such as a Jordanian hospital and Incirlik Air Force Base in turkey. The prosecution relied heavily on an Arab-American informer who might reduce his own prison sentence for various acts of criminal fraud if a conviction were obtained, and whose testimony against the four suspects evolved dramatically over time. The initial conviction of two of the men, Karim Koubriti and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi on charges of giving material support to terrorism, which was hailed as an achievement by the Bush administration, was overturned when the prosecution was discovered to have withheld key exculpatory evidence.

In a startling reversal, two members of the prosecuting team were tried for criminal misconduct, and although they were acquitted, their misconduct was not in question. A Detroit judge even apologized to a third man, who was held for three and a half years on a minor fraud charge and then deported. The entire affair raised questions about whether Muslim-Americans could hope for justice if for any reason they got accidentally caught up in the Justice Department’s frantic search for Muslim terror cells on American soil (very few have been found). The flimsy case against the four men would have had no plausibility at all had they been white upper-middle-class residents of Connecticut.

Not only has the Justice Department engaged in prosecutorial misconduct with regard to Muslims, but at least one FBI operation also appears to have involved actual entrapment. Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Burson Augustine, Rothschild Augustine, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera and Lyglenson Lemorin were arrested in June 2006, and accused of being an al-Qaida cell plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Batiste, aka Brother Naz or Prince Manna, led a small cult in a poor neighborhood of Miami called Seas of David, which was apparently an offshoot of the Moorish Temple Science, an African-American folk religion. The cult mixed themes from Judaism, Christianity and Islam but was not identifiably Muslim. The group met in a warehouse and talked big.

The FBI put an informant among them who repeatedly offered them money and equipment for their activities, some of which he appears to have suggested. Batiste maintained in the trial that he was just stringing along the informant in hopes of extracting a promised $50,000, and that he was insincere in pledging allegiance to al-Qaida. When the Justice Department announced the arrest in 2006, the indictment went on about the belief of the group in jihad, or Muslim holy war, but it is a little unlikely that these individuals knew anything about Islam at all. Both attempts to prosecute them ended in mistrials, primarily because the FBI could produce no evidence that when they were arrested they had any weapons or explosives in their possession. They were full of crazy talk, but even some of that was suggested to them by the Department of Justice.

Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans, along with members of some other ethnic groups, are therefore understandably alarmed that the Department of Justice may soon have the tools to bring them under investigation without any proof of wrongdoing. As CAIR national legislative director Corey Saylor noted in a statement, “Any new Justice Department guidelines must preserve the presumption of innocence that is the basis of our entire legal system … Initiating criminal investigations based on racial or religious profiling is both unconstitutional and un-American.” Muslim Americans and Arab-Americans have already suffered from being profiled in a de facto sense. Unsurprisingly, to have that injustice become policy concerns them. The protests would be even louder if so many in the community were not afraid to speak up and draw attention to themselves, as one of my Muslim American Facebook correspondents pointed out to me. Another remarked sadly that not only had George W. Bush not brought democracy to the Muslim Middle East, but he had also damaged its prospects in America itself.

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His most recent book Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) has just been published. He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.
Copyright ©2008 Salon Media Group, Inc.

"Memphis Blues" Continues: "Taking Pride In House Intrusion And New Excuse For More On-Line Donations"

A Message from Memphis. . . August 7, 2008
Dear Friend:
I am sitting here with my laptop in downtown Memphis after a long, hot day of campaigning against Steve Cohen, one of the most vocal opponents in Congress of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

An agitated Rep. Steve Cohen shoves Armenian American reporter Peter Musurlian out of a press conference on the eve of today's August 7th primary.

Rep. Cohen slams the door on the journalist, continuing his press conference and making disparaging remarks about Musurlian and Armenian Americans, referring to them as killers and assassins. Watch the video.

The last few days have been a whirlwind, with Cohen showing his true colors - physically removing an Armenian American reporter from a press conference then spewing ethnic attacks against the reporter and Armenian Americans in general. We sent out an update about that last night, but if you have not had a chance to watch the footage yet, click here and watch the news coverage from the Memphis FOX affiliate.

I wanted to personally share with you that, while I'm sorely disappointed by the outcome of this election, I'm also tremendously proud of our community's commitment, generosity and vision in fighting back against the enemies of truth and justice. Win or lose, we sent a message across Capitol Hill that we will not sit still while Members of Congress block the recognition of the Armenian Genocide or pursue other policies harmful to Armenia and the Armenian people.
And we cannot stop here. No Congressman must be allowed to get away with ethnic slurs against our community. Cohen should be held accountable in Congress and the courts for his hateful and hurtful actions.

I am tremendously grateful for our community's participation in this vote and I am personally eager to hear your thoughts about this race, the lessons we can draw from this experience, and the methods we can employ to build on our efforts in upcoming election cycles.

PS: If you agree that the ANCA should continue fighting hard against the enemies of the Armenian Cause, please send a secure online donation - large or small - to the ANCA today. www.anca.org

Shadow Theater Show "Hacivat & Karagöz, or Greek Karagiozis: Whose Is It Anyway?
© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
Despite the gradual improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey over the last decade, it seems that there is still much to squabble about. Both countries have laid claim to the origins of the shadow theater show (Hacivat and) Karagöz, or in Greek Karagiozis.

Newspapers reported this week that the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism will be launching an attack on Greek efforts to appropriate the Turkish folk figures. Their efforts are part of their attempt to register Karagöz at the planned 2009 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. They are planning a range of actions, including preparing a dossier of historical research proving that Karagöz originated in Turkey, naming office buildings, parks and public squares after him and encouraging TV producers to show programs about him and his sidekicks. They will also be trying to revive the tradition of touring shadow theater companies performing across the nation by employing actors and training them in the art of puppetry. A Karagöz research institute will be founded, his stories will be reprinted and a book of Karagöz images will be published.

Who is this Karagöz that everyone wants to have a piece of? He's a puppet with six or seven centuries of history behind him, the Ottoman equivalent of Mr. Punch (though somewhat less violent). Popularly thought to be based on the lives of two garrulous laborers whose comic chatter slowed down work on a construction of a mosque in Bursa, after their execution they became folk heroes. Karagöz is the not-too-bright representative of the common man, and Hac?vat is a low-ranking official of sorts. Generally whatever scheme the two come up with during the course of a play, Karagöz ends up ruining it through his buffoonery, and Hac?vat reacts like the long-suffering Oliver Hardy dealing with the incompetent Stan Laurel.

The shows were incredibly popular in Turkey, but the advent of television has almost wiped them out (except at cultural festivals). However, the 2006 film release of the popular costume drama "Who Killed Hac?vat and Karagöz?" sparked new interest in the puppets, both in Turkey and across the sea in Greece. Three months after the film came out Turkish papers were reporting that Karagiozis was playing to packed Athens theaters, telling a story of Greek suffering under the Ottomans. Turkish theater artist Emin S,enyer said that the Turkish government's unwillingness to invest in keeping traditions alive was allowing the more active Greek government to present this particular shadow puppet to the world as if he was their own.

Karagiozis: inspiration for poor
In Greece there are those who are happy to accept that Karagiozis made his way to the country via the Turks, but there are also alternative theories that Greek merchants brought shadow theater from China, or that a Greek invented the art during Ottoman rule in order to entertain the sultan. Despite these differences, experts agree that in the 1880s the stories and adventures of Karagiozis were adapted for a newly independent Greek society through the invention of numerous local characters. Karagiozis' popularity flourished from 1915 until 1950, a difficult time for the nation with its wars and social unrest. The puppet hero was a continuous inspiration for the poor, an uncompromising protagonist who tried in vain to change his fate and protest against social injustice. The character is still regarded with great affection.

Of course these are not the only cultural elements that the two nations argue over. Comments responding to a recent news story illustrate some of Turkey's fears: "Let's not wake up to the danger too late; we need to be ever vigilant. … They've taken yoghurt, feta and baklava; we've lost döner and helva, too. None of these are known as ours anymore." Should UNESCO choose to involve itself in the nebulous area of cuisine, they may never extricate themselves from the arguments. Several dishes are fiercely contested:

Dolma/sarma: The Turkish word dolma means stuffed, and can be used to describe any vegetable with a mince and rice filling, whereas sarma means wrapped, and refers to the vine leaf or cabbage leaf version. Called dolmades by the Greeks, it's probably acceptable to infer that if the word actually means something in Turkish then the dish originated here. There are variations of dolma throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The food wars
Baklava: The Lebanese, Armenians and Greeks all claim that they invented this sweet, sticky pastry, and they did probably all have early variants. However, the form we know today -- with its syrupy, nutty filling -- was devised in the kitchens of the Ottoman court; the word means diamond-shaped in Turkish. On May 16, 2006 Turkish baklava producers held a demonstration and press conference in I.stanbul, attended by then-State Minister for Economy and chief EU negotiator Ali Babacan. The demonstrators were protesting Greek Cypriot claims that baklava had been their national creation. The placards read: "Baklava is Turkish. We will not allow Greek Cypriots to feed it to the world."

Feta: The Greeks won this battle, not just against Turkey but against the entire EU. Under a European Court of Justice ruling, feta -- like Champagne and Parma ham -- became protected. As of 2007, producers of this crumbly white cheese who do not actually make it in Greece cannot call it feta or even feta-style cheese. Turks call their version of this beyaz peynir, or white cheese. According to cookery expert and chef Hülya Erdal, "Feta cheese can only come from Greece. Any other cheese that remotely resembles this delightful fare is really only an imitation and cannot be called anything other than white cheese."

Yoghurt: Known worldwide as Greek yoghurt, this plain white substance was probably a spontaneous appearance caused by wild bacteria in animal skin bags used for carrying milk. There are records of 11th century yoghurt consumption by nomadic Turks in the Diwan Lughat al-Turk. The Greeks call it yiaourti. The name may be derived from the Turkish word yog(urmak, which means to knead, although the etymological link is tenuous. Hülya Erdal states: "If you know anything about food, then you'll know that yoghurt was without a doubt invented, cooked up, made, produced, whatever you want to call it, in Turkey. Forget what anyone else tells you. It's an original Turkish food product and always will be. Of course, that's not to say that "Greek-style yoghurt" or "French-style yoghurt" isn't original, but notice their choice of words. Let's make sure that we all understand: It's just a variation on a tried and tested Turkish recipe."

Döner: Outside of Turkey and Greece, this roasted spitted meat dish seems to be equally well known as a Turkish and Greek dish. In the UK and Ireland it is predominantly recognized as Turkish; in Sydney, Australia, it is Turkish döner, but 800 kilometers away in Melbourne it is Greek souvlaki, and in Adelaide it is called gyro (this means rotating, as does the word döner). In America it is mainly gyro, but in Canada it's döner. In the Netherlands they say both gyro (pronounced geero with a Dutch, throat-searing g) and döner. In Moscow it's sheverma. Shall we call this one a draw?

Whoever made the food or created the puppet seems by and large irrelevant, provided we can all enjoy them. It's not like putting meat (or a puppet) on a stick ranks up there with the discovery of the theory of relativity. Still the debate rages on. Take, for example, the cuisine of Cyprus: Despite the two ethnic groups' long history of close proximity to each other's kitchens, each side still tries to distinguish one food or another as theirs.

In reality it's more complicated than this. Cyprus, for instance, is an island fraught with history. Its history is reflected in its cuisine, with recipes originating from the Middle East, Greece, Turkey, Italy and even Africa. Recipes include molohiya, a leafy green vegetable long known to grow only in Cyprus and on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. The dish kolokas is a stew made from a large, brown-skinned yam that probably originates in Sudan or thereabouts. The food of Cyprus cannot be claimed by one nation or another; this is a cuisine that mixes old and new, that represents almost the entire world.

Perhaps the best solution to some of these debates is to follow the EU plan on how to handle the long-running Cypriot cheese debate. Last year Nuno Miguel Vicente, in charge of Cyprus at the EU Directorate General of Agriculture, made a statement declaring that the best case scenario for everyone would be to register the cheese bilingually as both hellim and halloumi.

Hush Words : Censored In Indian Country By Brenda Norrell
I didn't see it coming. After 25 years of writing American Indian news, I didn't really expect to be blackballed and censored out of the business. But, then again, any journalist writing serious news in the United States should expect to be censored. There are some hot topics that get U.S. journalists fired, including investigating the war in Iraq. U.S. Presidents realize the power of words and song to move the masses. It was Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier," during the Vietnam War that led to her being blackballed and censored out of the music business in the U.S.

In Indian country news, there are also hush words, words to be used sparingly, if at all. For editors, those words include two names "Russell Means" and "Leonard Peltier." Also, in Indian country, reporters know it is unlikely that editors will publish any serious criticism of the war in Iraq or the Bush administration. Reporters also know it is unlikely that their articles will be published if they point out how the elected American Indian tribal councils sell out their people and their land, air and water for energy royalties and energy leases. At the same time, those councilmen and tribal chairmen give voice to the need to protect sacred Mother Earth.

While on staff at Indian Country Today in 2004, the managing editor, a non-Indian, demanded that I halt writing about "grassroots people and the genocide of American Indians." When I continued, I was reprimanded again. Eventually I was fired without a reason given.

It taught me about history and the soul of America. In the United States, there is this hole in history, and this hole in the hearts of the people, which disallows for these facts: the genocide of American Indians, including the butchering of women and shooting of little children, and the kidnapping, enslavement, torture, rape and murder of blacks.

At ICT, I was terminated after one of my articles was rewritten; turning the exposure of Donald Rumsfeld profiteering from the bird flu's Tamiflu into a near advertisement for the product. Also before I was terminated, I was instructed to never write about, or even investigate, the fact that the Navajo commercial farm, Navajo Agricultural Products Industries, has a Raytheon Missile factory on the same land where it grows potatoes, corn and other commercial crops. The Navajo Nation owned NAPI also boasts that it uses genetically-modified seeds; seeds leading to widespread misery for the world's Indigenous Peoples.

I was also told I could not publish a news probe into whether Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell was actually Portuguese or Northern Cheyenne.
Well, most of the usual suspects received good jobs at the big museum in Washington D.C.

The important point is not to be fooled by the newspapers, do your own investigating. The editors, publishers and owners have their own agendas. These days, very little of it has to do with truth. If you want to learn about the destruction of sacred places and all the corporations rushing to poison the land, air and water where you live, you'll need to search out the information, don't expect to read about it in your newspaper.

The non-Indian newspapers have no qualms about censorship these days. In the spring, I wrote an article about the Longest Walk for a news publication. A watered-down version of it was published. Here is one of the paragraphs that was censored:

"It was in Greensburg, Kansas, that another dimension of the west opened up, the force of a tornado to rip out a town. The debris was still piled high nearly one year after the tornado of May 4, 2007. I could only think of the billions of dollars going to rebuild Iraq, after the US bombed it; the billions going to the corporate friends of the Bush family. Still, there was hope and abundant love in this town as the people were rebuilding green, focused on solar and wind power and sustainable gardening."

Hope, that's what keeps us going, and readers like you.

Thanks for reading.

Brenda Norrell is human rights editor for U.N. OBSERVER & International Report. She also runs the Censored website.

Recent Developments In Turkey-Armenia Relations Interview With Amberin Zaman By Khatchig Mouradian
Amberin Zaman is the Turkey correspondent for the Economist. She has also covered the conflicts in Nagorno-Karabagh and Northern Iraq for many international publications including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. A citizen of Turkey, she divides her time between Turkey and Armenia.

In this interview, conducted by phone in late July, we talk about the recent developments in Turkey-Armenia relations.

Khatchig Mouradian -How is the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia being viewed by political circles and the public in both countries?

Amberin Zaman-As you know, it was recently revealed that senior Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have been meeting secretly with their Armenian counterparts in Switzerland for some time. These talks undoubtedly laid the ground for the recent and very public overtures by Turkish leaders to Armenia and by Armenian leaders to Turkey. Among these, Armenian president Serge Sarkisian's invitation to Turkish president Abdullah Gul to watch the World Cup pre-qualifier soccer match between Turkey and Armenia, set to take place in Yerevan on Sept. 6, is the most exciting and potentially groundbreaking step of all. I am hopeful that President Gul will attend. In fact, I am almost sure that he will because what we are witnessing in fact is a strategic shift in policy in both countries. In Turkey, there is growing recognition that relations with Armenia need to be assessed and handled on their own merits, that is to say, independent of existing concerns about if and how they can affect the genocide resolution that may again be brought before the U.S. Congress. Such tunnel vision is being replaced by a broader and more sophisticated approach, one that aims to reduce tensions in the Caucasus, to improve Turkey's international image, and, on an economic level, to gain direct land access to lucrative markets in Central Asia that remain blocked because Turkey's borders with Armenia are closed. That said, how much easier it would be for any U.S. administration to defend a Turkey that enjoys healthy ties with Armenia, that contributes to the prosperity of the Armenian people, should Congress decide to revive the genocide resolution? Turkish policy makers finally seem to get this.

The good news is that the Turkish public seems to be ready for normalizing ties with Armenia as well. When news of the secret talks were first leaked, I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the top editors and commentators in the mainstream, pro-establishment Turkish press speak up in favor of these talks and, indeed, argue that Azerbaijan should support these talks because it is in their interest as well. The status quo is not helping anything. It's ordinary people on either side of the border-whose lives could improve dramatically if direct links were to be established-who are paying the price.

K.M.-What about the reaction of Armenia?

A.Z.-The reaction in Armenia to efforts to break the ice with Turkey has been by and large positive. Even the Tashnags, at least initially, embraced the idea of President Gul attending the football match.

I was very recently at the Sardarabad Museum, which as you know is located on the battlefield where the Armenians defeated Turkish troops at the end of World War I. I spoke to some old Armenian ladies there, women who had lost loved ones in 1915. I was surprised and happy to hear that they did not oppose President Gul's visit. They did add that Armenia needed to be wary of Turkey's motives but that he should come nonetheless. Similar sentiments are echoed throughout a broad cross-section of people here. People understand that peace with Turkey will open up a whole new world to them, a better and more prosperous world.

K.M.-You spoke about a shift in Turkish foreign policy regarding Armenia. Talk about the timing of this shift. We read in Turkish newspapers how there are two camps in Turkish political circles: one pushing to continue radical approach and the other pushing for rapprochement with Armenia. In this context, how do you see this shift?

A.Z.-Actually, one must not be misled by the news of leaked reports in which it is claimed that the talks are new. Armenia and Turkey have been holding such talks for years. This is just the most recent round in a series of such talks. The difference is that both sides seem more committed to concluding them successfully than at any time before. The desire for rapprochement is utterly sincere. Now, you were speaking of two camps. That is true. There is a camp within the Foreign Ministry that is supported by some critical players within the government who say there can be no deal between Turkey and Armenia until Armenia makes some kind of gesture on the Karabagh issue. But there is another more realistic group of people who understand that if indeed there is to be peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, that process would be better served by a Turkey that has normal diplomatic relations with Armenia, a Turkey that can actually talk to Armenia and play some kind of meaningful mediating role in helping bring these two parties together. These are the same people who want Turkey to join the European Union. They understand that as long as Turkey does not have normal ties with Armenia, this will always be held up by its opponents within the EU as an excuse to deny Turkey full membership. The same policymakers probably also believe that establishing diplomatic ties with Armenia will make it less likely that Armenia will actively support efforts for international recognition of the genocide. That is where the historical commission issue comes in to play, and I am fairly sure that its nature and purpose is a matter of intense debate between Turkish and Armenian diplomats.

K.M.-There are also some critics in Armenia who say that because of President Sarkisian's own internal problems and the external pressure exerted on him after the crackdown on the opposition during and after the elections, that he is trying to win over the Europeans and the U.S. by improving ties with Turkey.

A.Z.-Well, domestic pressure is driving both sides, but I wouldn't say it's the main reason. For the ruling AK Party, outreach to Armenia was certainly a way of gaining international sympathy as it came under attack from the army and the secularists at home. The same may be true for President Sarkisian But, even before he was elected president, I interviewed Mr. Sarkisian and even then he told me that he wanted normal relations with Turkey, that Armenia has no territorial claims on Turkey. He's come even further now by saying he is not opposed to establishing a historical commission. This is a big step and its drawn sharp fire from his opponents. In short, the willingness to take risks seems to be much stronger on both sides.

Looking at things from the Armenian vantage point, let us not also forget that we have an increasingly bellicose-sounding Azerbaijan; one that is muttering about war, about recapturing Karabagh by force. We are faced with an Azerbaijan that is spending huge sums on fancy weapons. Surely, all of this must be exercising official minds in Yerevan. Clearly, if Armenia were to have normal relations with Turkey, the risk of renewed conflict in the region would be significantly reduced. My sense is that in order for this process to move forward, Azerbaijan too has to do some strategic thinking and realize that war is not a solution.

K.M.-How does the Turkish army view the AK Party's move to improve Turkish-Armenian relations?

A.Z.-Nobody really knows what the army's position is on normalizing ties with Armenia. Then again, nobody really knows what their position is on any issue unless they spell it out themselves. But as I already mentioned, what is encouraging is that we have heard pro-establishment figures in the Turkish media, who often reflect the views of the General Staff, sounding very supportive of this process. So that gives me a great sense of hope. Besides, the army wants good relations with America and normal relations with Armenia mean even better relations with America. That said, I am sure that there is a lot of sympathy for Azerbaijan. It's widely assumed that Turkish army officers helped train the Azeris in the Karabagh war. Those people, if they are still around, must be rather hawkish.

K.M.-I want to ask you about Armenian cultural and architectural heritage in Turkey today, and the state in which they're kept. Do you think if Turkey were to make a genuine attempt to improve the situation of Armenian churches, cemeteries, and monuments, it would be sending a sign of good will to Armenia and the diaspora?

A.Z.-Well, I think it is a key component in detraumatizing the relationship between Turks and Armenians, not only with the Armenians in the diaspora and in Armenia proper, but also with Armenians living in Turkey today-the Armenians who stayed behind, who understandably keep a low profile, and who therefore tend to get overlooked in the conversation about Turkey and Armenia. I think that recent overtures by the government, such as restoring the Akhtamar Church in Van, point to change. I recently heard that the mayor of Gaziantep, a city in southern Turkey, whose mayor is from the AK Party, has begun restoring an Armenian church there. It's a tough thing, because as you know we have a strong and sometimes violent neo-nationalist movement. The mayor is, I understand, facing quite a bit of criticism, but that has not stopped him from moving forward. I think that embracing and restoring our Armenian heritage-for it is our common Anatolian heritage-will create a lot of good will all around. We owe this to future generations. But clearly there is so much more that needs to be done and undone, as in the case of churches that have been converted to mosques. The Church of the 12 Apostles in Kars comes to mind. As you know it was recently re-opened to public worship as a mosque, even though there is another substantially sized mosque right next to it. I recently met with the director of the Parajanov Museum here in Armenia, Zaven, who had just come back from a 10-day tour by car of eastern Turkey. He showed me photographs he had taken of Armenian churches and other buildings in Turkey. They were brilliant, for they illustrated most vividly and painfully the cultural wealth that was bestowed by the Armenian people, the beautiful work that they did, the fantastic carvings. Most are in ruins. Why should they be allowed to decay, to rot? It is very sad. Still, the restoration of Akhtamar gives me hope that there will more work done in the future. Civil society is already playing a very significant part in this process, especially young people. I was recently at the Golden Apricot Festival here in Yerevan and I was very proud to see a young Turkish film director, Mehmet Binay, screen a documentary about hidden Armenians in Turkey. He spoke very eloquently and sincerely about these people, about the ghosts of the past, and despite some initial skepticism he succeeded in winning over his Armenian audience. Other young Turks approach me all the time, come to me with ideas about this and that project to build bridges with Armenia. Likewise, I've also met young Armenians who have told me that they were once scared of Turks; they now travel to Turkey and return with nothing but positive stories to tell.

K.M.-My last question is about the Hrant Dink murder trial. When we last talked about this a year ago, you weren't very optimistic about the entire process. What has changed?

A.Z.-I must say that I am slowly beginning to change my views on this because, as you know, an active army officer, a colonel, is now being interrogated-a colonel who is thought to have been tipped off about the murder well in advance and who allegedly did nothing to stop it. So, this is a very significant development. You may be aware of the whole Ergenekon case and the fact that a former general, who is said to be the leader of this illegal gang and who is alleged to have repeatedly threatened Hrant, is now in jail. He and fellow members of the so-called Ergenekon gang are facing a wide range of charges, including a plot to overthrow the government. I was bitterly disappointed that Hrant's murder was not included in the indictment against the gang. Yet, I remain hopeful that in the course of this trial more light will be shed on the tragic and senseless death of our dear friend Hrant Dink, hopeful that justice will be served. We owe justice to Hrant, to his family, to his friends. And we owe justice to the memory of all innocent people who were killed on these lands.

Treating Turkey Tamely By Garen Yegparian
Not a bad year for Turkey, this 2008. Hrant Dink is all but forgotten by the outside world. A train derailment and a factory fire garnered sympathy for them. Similarly, the case of a Turk in Saudi Arabia facing the possibility of a death sentence for "using God's name in vain," its very absurdity inspires pity for this man away from his home. There's also the news of Turkey's supreme court (more on this institution's wisdom later) finding in favor of Alevis' children not being obliged to study a different brand of Islam. Couple these with Turkey's role in Israel-Syria negotiations and well-spun data about Turkey's developing economy and its sociological impacts and you've got a great sense of what image the average reader of the LA Times forms of the fairly well-disguised dictatorship. Of course, it would be a crime to omit the editorial cheerleading about a possible thaw in Armenia-Turkey relations based on Gul congratulating Sarkisian's election as president. Please note, this ink was spilt on April 25, long before Sarkisian's ghastly gaffe in Russia, using the occasion of genocide commemoration as the lead-in for the paper's argument.

Bad news? Well of course there was some. Protests against U.S. policy when Cheney visited were reported, as was the whole scarf-ban-rescission fiasco. Of course the recent bombings could not be glossed over, but hey, Turkish law enforcement (the same Keystone Kops who couldn't follow up on leads that might have prevented Dink's assassination) conveniently pinned the blame on those "terrorist" Kurds, almost overnight. You know how awful it is to be like the "terrorist" Minutemen of 230 years ago (not the border-addled clowns of today). But Turkey's three and a half decade occupation of northern Cyprus never rises to the level of relevance.

What's most interesting and relevant is the suit brought against Turkey's ruling AK Party (labeled as Islamist) for its attempt to undo the Ataturk-inspired headscarf ban. The "secularists," those whom you might think would be more enlightened, tried through legalistic means to shut down the party that had less than a year earlier increased its parliamentary majority. The guys are such Ataturk worshipping chauvinists that anything even remotely impinging on his deific presence in Turkey generates virulent reactions. So, the "enlightened" approach is to ban a popular party through the courts.

Meanwhile, soap opera-ishly, the government arrested 86 coup plotters who have various levels of connectedness to Turkey's military establishment-another nest of Ataturk idolaters. These people were also out to get the AKP.

So now, you had a crisscross tug-of-war going between the chauvinists and Islamists. One sector of Turkish society is out to ban the other while the second is delegitimizing the first by arresting its less savory elements. The country was in the throes of what can only de described as a major constitutional crisis. Of course the Supreme Court, which could have banned the AKP, did not. Rather, they partially defunded it. How much more blatant a threat to a legal party could Turkey's "deep state" have given? The only reason the ban didn't happen is, to my mind, the concern that it would be too brazen a challenge, too sharp a slap, to the Europeans who hold Turkey's economic future in their hands. Go figure, party-banning is just uncool to the Euros.

Did anybody at the LA Times notice this and comment? Nope, of course not! Turkey is an important ally. It "generously" allows transit of supplies to U.S. troops in Iraq. We can't go around risking that! Remember, that's the cover story many of Steve Cohen's (we'll visit him next week) ilk in Congress used to work against H.Res.106.

Even if this pathetic brownnosing is understandable from the paper that brought us Doug Frantz, how can we explain Armenia's position? In the midst of a crisis that could have toppled the sitting government of or led to a coup in Turkey, Serge Sarkisian threw a lifeline to the AKP and Gul. Instead of using every diplomatic trick in the book to create more maneuvering room for Armenia, at least vis-à-vis Turkey, a cowering rapprochement was initiated by Armenia. Was there a quiet deal cut in advance of the public theatrics? Under the circumstances, it seems unlikely. So why not hammer away at Turkey to extract concessions? I don't understand.

What's even less understandable is the maddening absence of letters-to-the-editor from Armenians regarding these issues and the slant of the coverage given. Doesn't anyone read these things? What are we afraid of? Please, make your voice heard, via ink or pixels.

Armenian Newspapers In Istanbul Working Against Armenia? 08.08.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Several Turkish journalists are working for Armenian-Turkish Agos newspaper founded by slain editor Hrant Dink.

As a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter came to know from the Armenian community in Istanbul, the number of Turkish journalists has increased while editor-in-chief Etienne Mahchupyan doesn’t know Armenian well.

As to another Istanbul based Zhamanak newspaper, the staff fully supports Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and never publishes positive articles about Armenia.

“When the RA NA decided to send peacekeepers to Iraq, Zhamanak was the first to trample the Armenian government in the mud. This newspaper used to pretend patriotism in the soviet period. Now, it completely surrendered to the Turkish pressure,” the source said.

Zhamanak was founded in 1908. It’s owned by the family of Kochunyans.

Turkey's Young Civilians extend olive branch to people of Armenia, August 11, 2008
DETERMINED:Members of a Turkey-based NGO that calls itself Young Civilians are set to visit Yerevan on September 6.
© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
Vercihan Ziflioglu, Istanbul - Turkish Daily News

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has yet to respond to Armenian President Serge Sarkisian's invitation to join him for the Turkey-Armenia football game to be held in Yerevan on September 6.

But a Turkey-based nongovernmental organization that calls itself Young Civilians --not only because they are a group of youths-- has already decided to be in the capital city of Armenia on that date in order to form a peace bridge between the two countries.

Young Civilians has already prepared their meters-long banners containing messages of friendship and peace to be waved during the game.

What prompted Young Civilians to take such actions was the peaceful and objective attitude of two broadcasters from Armenia's Radio Liberty, Erik Gazharian and Karlen Arslanian, whose remarks on relations between Turkey and Armenia were published in the Turkish Daily News last week. The main goal of Young Civilians is to participate in joint projects with a young, dynamic Armenian-based group that includes Gazharian and Arslanian.

Formed in 2000, the Young Civilians, whose members include Turgay Og(ur, Hayri I.nce, Erkan S,en, Ceren Kenar, and Said Albayrak, has issued the following statement to the people of Armenia:

“That our president has given a positive reply to the invitation is definitely an important step. But more important than that is establishing a dialogue between the two peoples: the Turks and the Armenians. We are not politicians. But we will be in Yerevan on September 6 in the name of peace and friendship. Fifty of us will be there to form a bridge. But hundreds of us will follow in the near future.”

The Young Civilians, with 2000 members, has dedicated themselves to establishing peace and harmony among peoples of different faiths and cultures. Their organization's website is www.gencsiviller.net

“We listen to the voice of our conscience,” says a representative from Young Civilians.

“Some ears might not perceive Karlen's and Erik's voice as a strong one. But to us, their voice is one free from hatred and enmity. We were deeply impressed when we read the interview in which these two strong and self-confident young people from Armenia expressed themselves and the way they look with hope to the future, without denying the past.”

‘Even historians cannot solve the problem'
Young Civilians described what happened in the past as “painful events.” “As Karlen and Erik pointed out, no matter what words you utter to describe those events in history, they would not alleviate the pain caused by them,” they said. Young Civilians do not concur with the common idea that only historians from Armenia and Turkey can solve the Armenian issue. “Traumas can only be overcome through mutual understanding, having close contacts, sharing the pains, and listening to each other,” they said. “For historians, too, voice an official rhetoric just as politicians do,” they added.Young Civilians also noted Turkey has taken a leap in consolidating freedom of expression. “We have begun, for some time, debating about our thoughts freely in Turkey. The biggest problem between the Turks and the Armenians is just a lack of a healthy and full-fledged communication. We, members of the two societies, might begin a dialogue by detaching ourselves from politics. We truly do not need official ideologies anymore.”

Young Civilians and Istanbul-born young Armenians to stand shoulder to shoulder Kenar, a member of the Young Civilians, referred to the recently burgeoning dialogue between Turkey and Greece, putting aside past political tensions. “Let's recall the past years, when we, Turks and Greeks, came to the brink of war because of the Kardak Rocks, just some small rocks on the Aegean Sea. But today, we are extending olive branches to each other and again becoming immersed in each other's songs,” she said. She notes that she has a sister who is six years old and, therefore, never witnessed a moment in history when Turkey and Greece were on the brink of war. “So, why shouldn't such normalization take place in Turkey-Armenia relations, as well, within ten years, for instance. I see no obstacles to that,” she added. Albayrak, S,en, Og(ur, and I.nce agree with Kenar. They made the following remark:“Our consciences and hearts will produce a peaceful and harmonious future. We would like young people of Armenia to help us in accomplishing that. We want to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors.”Yong Civilians said they would also take their Istanbul-born Armenian friends to Yerevan to watch the football game together. “There, in that stadium, we shall stand shoulder to shoulder, together with our friends from the Armenian community of Istanbul. And we shall, altogether, cry out for peace and friendliness. In fact, we shall be hugging each other in that stadium as Hrant would do if he had lived.”

Democracy, Armenian Style - The Bloggers March On by Shushan Harutyunyan August 11, 2008
A year ago, within the Armenian internet community, people were talking about the formation of a blogging culture and explaining what a blog actually meant. Today, there are some 1000 - 1500 blogs and around 200 active bloggers who are shaping social opinion in the internet, even to the point where blogs are soliciting rebuttals on a governmental level. Today, discussions regarding the competition between blogging and the press, or their joint operation, are of current import. All this started within the course of the last one or two years.

Blogger and journalist reporter-arm states that, “Bloggers are free individuals and can write what they want and how they want in their blogs. This is the exact essence of the matter. Blogger and physician Artmika says, “In any event, this is how my voice gets heard. I see that I can assist in making changes.” Another blogger, theoretician Kornel, states, “The blog is sort of like my notebook. Everyday I jot down things and in order not to lose those references and themes I put them in my blog. In addition, I see the comments of my readers.” The blogger Observer, who also comments on the Armenian blogosphere, says, “Today in Armenia there’s a very active blogger community and they are active outside the borders of the internet as well. Apparently, these people are active citizens with a definite orientation.”

Interest in the blogs doubled especially during the pre-election period in 2008, along with the creation of blogs and websites of the various candidates. Now, there are already blogs of various organizations, initiatives, groups and individuals as well as blogs covering a certain development or issue. Examples are blogs regarding the boycotting of Eurovision, preparations for the next public rally, the release of political prisoners and blogs which forward questions to the president. Through the means of internet communities, groups and bloggers, propaganda is effectively at work within the Armenian network.

“The issue is that political circles and people in general have started to seriously think about transferring their activities to the virtual arena”, states Gegham Vardanyan (http://reporter-arm.livejournal.com/) and adds that the blog is one of the tools used to attract an audience.

“Blogs are news sources. This became apparent after the previous elections and one of the reasons for their development is perhaps the growth of the internet’s popularity in Armenia” observes Samvel Martirosyan (http://kornelij.livejournal.com/) He also jokes that the growth of blogging is also linked to the Armenian character. “When somebody starts to work at something, others join in also.”

Mika Artayan, a resident of England who is author of the “Unzipped” and “Unzipped: Gay Armenia” blogs (http://unzipped.blogspot.com/; http://gayarmenia.blogspot.com/), believes that the Armenian blogosphere is currently in a development phase and that, in comparison to other countries of the South Caucasus, Armenian blogosphere is more varied and established. Artmika foresees that, “The role of the blogs in terms of information will only grow with time. Following the example in western nations the influence of bloggers on political, social and cultural life will increase. Such long-term prospects are quite realistic.”

Artur Papyan (http://ditord.wordpress.com/) suggests a distinct model regarding the growing importance of the role of bloggers. According to him, blogs are run by individuals with ties to the news outlets and reporters. Thus, news outlets cover themes discussed in the blogs and issues covered by the news outlets are discussed in the blogs.

Observer states, “In my estimation bloggers are in the 30 - 40 year-old range that are users of the internet and more or less belong to the middle class. Consequently, their opinions cannot possibly reflect the views of the society at large. However, due to the fact that bloggers are active not only in the internet but in their daily lives, has attracted a great amount of attention to the blogs.”

The issues of concern to bloggers vary by country. In one country bloggers might be fighting to receive certification on par with news outlets. In another country, the main concern of bloggers is to remain anonymous and not exposed publicly. In yet another, bloggers are attempting to resolve technical problems by the use of telephone blogs. Finally, there are countries where bloggers have to overcome the legal restrictions placed on them. What they all have in common is their attempt to exercise their right of expression in various forms. In this context, the development of the blogosphere in Armenia was the result of its being an informational alternative to the channeled news outlets. This was particularly evident during the days after the declaration of the state of emergency in March.

Today the number of blogs continues to grow but, according to Kornel, that mass hasn’t yet taken shape. According to him, for a time a struggle took place which resulted in the blogosphere dividing between liberals and nationalists and later a polarization based on “personalized politics” started; essentially along the lines of “Levon supporters” or “Levon opponents”. Observer also verifies that blogging is serious work and points to the Global voices on-line and TOL bloggers who are paid to blog.

“According to information at my disposal, the National Security Service attempted to offer money to people or to coax individuals to start-up blogs covering certain specific pre-election topics or to publicly chide certain candidates. In his opinion, when it is proposed that bloggers “get paid to propagandize” this signifies that the influence of the blogosphere is already quite massive.

For-profit blogs have extensively spread throughout the world. There are those that accept advertising and others that write review regarding the latest models of telephones or photo cameras.

Kornel relates, “I don’t know if getting paid to run a covert ad is OK, or the opposite. There was the case of a top economist who ran a blog and received a rating. Later on he published a few negative blurbs about a certain company. As a result, the shares of that company dropped drastically, the firm went bankrupt and closed its doors. Afterwards, the blogger was taken to court and during the trail he confessed that he had taken money from a competing company.”

Individuals also gain a following in the blogosphere just by the comments they leave; when they don’t have their own blog or when they don’t frequently post articles if they do. It is through the posting of comments that blog articles are thoroughly expanded upon and the issues involved exposed.

“We must understand that, for example, the people following livejournal came from the forums. They are the same names, the same photos. They simply migrated from one network to another, more up-to-date one”, states Observer. He notes that the attraction of blogs lies in their freedom. Unlike forums, they do not have moderators or administrators and that the relationship between author and the individual posting a comment is more equitable.

“A news outlet blog creates a feeling of kinship with the reader. Also, they cover issues that aren’t written about in the main pages on the paper” says Observer, noting that all the media outlets would do well to create their own blogs since “forums” are out-dated. Kornel however counters that the blog of the news outlet is the news reporter himself; reporters must have their own blogs. “When news reporters run their own blogs firstly they gain recognition and furthermore the news outlet undergoes a process of socialization”, he states and underlines that editors must encourage that their reporters run their own blogs.

Artmika says that his primary sources of information remain the news outlets but that the role of blogs in this context has doubled.

“The advantage of the blogosphere lies in its diversity. However, one still encounters personal insults and the use of uncivilized language”, says Unzipped, the author of Gay Armenia. He started the blog with the intention of raising the issue of the rights of homosexuals in Armenia, the Diaspora and the South Caucasus in general, placing the issue in the context of the defense of human rights.

“In general, issues and problems related to the life of homosexuals are raised in the pages of Gay Armenia. Also, manifestations of homophobia are covered since these also surface in the pages of the Armenian news media. I run Unzipped to expose issues related to Armenia in general and those which I find of interest’, recounts the author.

“I don’t consider myself a blogger in the classical sense. I’m more a carrier of the traditional media but it seems to me that all of this must be consolidated. All reporters must see what is taking place in the blogs, as a source of material”, states reporter-arm.

Artur Papyan says, “It is the human, subjective factor that’s important for me in the blogs and it is precisely this that differentiates blogs from the news outlets. What I find especially attractive in the blogs are the “charity drives”, when the bloggers get together and raise money for a child’s operation, for example.”

“I find that blogs are already competing with the news outlets but that this fact isn’t fully comprehended. This is clearly evident when the activities of the blogs and news outlets are compared side by side. Here’s a fairly crude example. Our news outlets don’t operate from Friday evening till Monday afternoon. Many news stories that take place within this time frame can only be found in the blogs. At the very least, the blogs are way ahead of the Armenian media on these off days”, says Samvel Martirosyan.

“One writes about politics, another about her female musings and another about knives or automobiles. The interests vary. One writes because of the lack of real contact. The more varied the society, the greater the difference in the blogs; the more numerous the colors, the better”, concludes reporter-arm.

An Artist's Mind Cannot Be Restrained, August 13, 2008, Vercihan Ziflioglu, YEREVAN- Turkish Daily News
After his death, world famous Armenian director Sergei Parajanov’s surname was changed to Parajanian, replacing the Russian suffix –ov with the Armenian suffix –ian. At the same time, his house in Yerevan, capital of Armenia, was converted to a museum

The 1990 burial ceremony of Sergei Parajanov, the world famous Armenian director, was held in Yerevan, Armenia's capital city, and became the stage for an interesting incident. The Russian suffix –ov in his surname was replaced with the Armenian suffix –ian, as he was buried in Panteon, the ‘Cemetery of Intellectuals.' Parajanov was born to an Armenian family in the city of Tbilisi in the former Soviet Union, now modern day Georgia.

In fact Parajanov, himself, never felt it necessary to change his Soviet surname to its Armenian version by replacing its ending with the suffix –ian, which is added to the surname of each Armenian newborn during Baptism rites.

Both versions of his surname, Parajanov and Parajanian, are written on his mausoleum in Panteon. But many intellectuals in Armenia think changing Parajanov's surname was not correct. Vartan Fereshetian, a close friend, noted, “Sergei never denied that he was an Armenian. But he also never felt that he needed to change his surname. He was so busy producing works of art that he could not find time to make an identity analysis.”

Parajanov's interest in cinema began when he was still a boy. However, later in life he was sentenced by the Soviets to prison in Siberia. He was not allowed to take any personal belongings with him, yet, he continued to create while in Siberia. For he would not eat pieces of bread given to him as a daily meal, instead making collages out of them.

“Sergei's creativity was something stunning. His hands were always busy. Whatever material he had in his hands, he'd begin to give a form to it, turn it into a work of art. If it would be a stone, then he'd begin to chip it,” recalled Fereshetian.

Parajanov used to produce porcelain dolls of imaginary characters before he gave them life in his films. He would also make collages and sew the costumes himself.

Shortly after his death, Parajanov's house in Yerevan was converted into a museum. In the three-story house, more than 600 collages, ceramic dolls and costumes are displayed. When entering the museum, visitors feel they have come into a fantastic world, which is located at Dzoragiugh Ethnographic Center No: 15/16 in Yerevan.

A star born out of mud
Parajanov was born in Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. Just like his friends, he was fond of toys, especially dolls, when he was a child. He would often get lost while playing games on the street with his friends and they would later find him at another street corner playing by molding objects out of mud. The very act of producing an object, a work of art, was itself a passion for him, deeply affecting his inner world. Hundreds of collages, porcelain dolls, and costumes displayed at the museum in Yerevan may well give visitors an idea of the scope of Parajanov's talent and imagination. But beyond his talent, what led Parajanov to success was his deep internalization of Armenian culture and traditions, of which he was a part, and the Georgian culture, in which he had grown up. Parajanov's works reflect both of these cultures. For instance, pomegranate, which symbolizes fertility, a divine gift and unity in Armenian culture, is a figure that he often used in his films. He rose to prominence on the world stage with his 1968 film, “The Color of Pomegranates.” which won numerous awards and is considered a masterpiece of 20th century cinema.

World-famous artists gather to commemorate Parajanov
On one of the museum's doors, a note is posted, saying, “Blacks cannot enter here.” A staff member said Parajanov himself pasted it there, though it had an ironic and symbolic meaning. “Parajanov had seen that note on one of the seats in a plane during a flight. He had removed it, brought it to home and, then, pasted it on a “white” door,” he said. Among the museum's remarkable displays are dozens of photographs and correspondences, in which one can easily see the close ties Parajanov had with his contemporaries, including Jean Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Louis Bunuel, Federico Fellini, Michalengelo Antonioni, and Andrei Tarkovsky. When Parajanov was exiled to Siberia, many world-famous artists, including French surrealist poet and writer Louis Aragon and Russian poet Elso Triolet, joined together to protest his exile. But their voice, pitted against the strong Soviet regime, remained quite weak. As his friends continued to work for his release, Parajanov kept on creating, in his cell, without concern about the atmosphere surrounding him.

The Turquoise Genocide
© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
Did you notice how the latest report about the French role in Rwandan genocide has been hushed up?

Only a few media outlets have followed up the story... Why this mutism? Why the black-out? Because the report was prepared by Rwandans and not by Westerners?

I am not sure if what France did in Rwanda could be called as genocide. But I know the saying: "There is no smoke without fire."

And I insist: France should face its bloody history in Algeria, Rwanda and other former colonies, as well as in Europe, before judging on the history of other nations...

If you still think that François Mitterand was a great statesman and not a criminal like Radovan Karadzic (because of his role in Operation Turquoise), you just fool yourself.

Jean Baudrillard had been warning us about this situation since its very beginning:

"Rwanda. All the media say where the killers and instigators (including us) are, and yet the whole business carries on. The information is factual, but it doesn't reach any conclusion. The consensus provides the excuse of collective vileness through this general knowledge." ("Fragments: Cool Memories III (1990-1995)", page 92)

Anonymous said...

With the list of French Atrocities, one has to take into consideration it focuses only on conventional physical genocide, and ignores the many cases of spiritual genocide, which can have consequences far exceeding those of the physical genocides, the former sometimes being the preparation work for physical genocide, but always in the aim to benefit from indefinitely. Because of this, the world was never truly decolonized.

Turks should not be accomplices of Spiritual Genocide even if it may look to "benefit" them. It doesn't. Misery and spiritual death of fellow Oriental peoples doesn't benefit us, it only isolate us.

August 12, 2008


Why Is The Georgian Conflict Crucial For Turkey? August 10, 2008
The on-going armed conflict in Georgia (mainly in South Ossetia and Abkhazia) is very important for Turkey, because...

1) BTC and BTE: A part of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline (Oil) and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum Pipeline (Natural Gas) lays in the Georgian territory. It is reported that Russian warplanes have tried to bomb the pipeline. Turkey, normally, has got friendly relationships both with Russia and Georgia. However, Russia is the main competitor of Turkey with regard to her intentions to monopolize the European energy market. The current conflict may change the geostrategical balance in the region.

2) Arms Sales and Aid: Turkey has been one of the leading countries to modernize and supply Georgian army in the last three years. This is why Russia has accused some countries to encourage Georgian atrocities (then they called it as ethnic cleansing and then, finally, as genocide), singling out Ukraine. However, Russian media reported that Russia actually meant the USA, Israel and Turkey, as well as Ukraine.

3) Blockade Question: The aerial and naval blockade of Georgia by Russian forces may dramatically effect Turkish economy. Morever, the trade in northeastern Turkey through land routes is highly dependent to the stability of Georgia, because the border with Armenia remains closed due to diplomatic reasons.

4) Turco-Caucasians: A significant number of Caucasian ethnic groups (like Circassians, Ossets, Abkhazs and Chechens) live in Turkey, mainly in the northeastern provinces which border Georgia. The conflict effects them emotionally, if not only economically. A flood of Georgian refugees is also probable.


Jews, Ottomans and Turks
I just reread Philip Mansel's great study Constantinople: City of the World's Desire, 1453-1924, and there's an interesting point that he makes in there about Jews in the Ottoman Empire: "In Constantinople, the words pogrom, ghetto, inquisition had no meaning." The official Ottoman tolerance of "people of the book"- honestly more economic than philosophically-based- answers a question from Western European History, namely "Where did the Jews go to flee the Inquisition?" Many of them fled to Constantinople.

This is interesting for us moderns who are used to hearing about the "eternal enmity" between Jews and Muslims. Mansel notes that, while there were in fact tensions between Christians and Jews in the Empire, "The Muslim population of the city... was tolerant or indifferent towards Jews." Indeed, when Jews were expelled from places like Castille and Aragon, the Ottomans threw open their doors to them. Mansel notes a (perhaps apocryphal) comment from Bayezid II that "King Ferdinand could not be as clever as reputed, if he expelled so many industrious subjects to enrich a rival monarch." The port of Salonica, in particular, became a famed home for refugee Jews, and was often called the 'New Jerusalem.' After 1502, the Sultans also took in Arabs from Granada, and it's worth remembering (as it's often forgotten now) that the Ottomans and Arabs were quite often at odds.

In the nineteenth-century, its cosmopolitanism became a problem for the inhabitants of the empire. Following Mazzini's creed, "Every nation a state," one by one various nations took on the Ottomans, especially the Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Arabs and Turks. However, largely due to the time and place of Jewish national aspirations, the Jews didn't really run up against the Ottoman will in the same way as, for example, the Armenians did. We don't hear about the same pogroms at this time either, while there are bloody clashes between the authorities and other groups in the empire.

On the other hand, Mansel makes the interesting note that Jewish poverty increased greatly in Constantinople after Mahmud II abolished the Janissaries in 1826. Mansel: "Closely linked to the Janissaries, whose finances they alone had been said to understand, the Jews suffered from the 'Blessed Event'." So, while they weren't being targeted by the authorities and local mobs, as in places like Russia, the Jews of the Ottoman Empire were becoming poorer.

Their safety in Constantinople didn't really decline as the Turkish nation replaced the Ottoman dynasty. The Turks aimed at forming a modern and enlightened state, although the reality often fell short of the goal. We should remember that the Armenian genocide, for example, was the work of the crumbling Ottoman state, and not the Kemalists who replaced them by 1924. Modern Turkey was to be guided by Islam, but was intended to be secular in all public functions, a goal that is still often in doubt.

It's interesting to note (and I know a scholar who notes this frequently) that many of the Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany were taken in by Turkey and other ex-Ottoman territories, such as Greek Salonica. In the latter case, this was no protection as Salonica was occupied by the Nazis and its Jews shipped out to the death camps. Even today, Salonica (also known as Thessalonki) has not returned to its former status as a city in which at least a third of the population was Jewish.

Again, it's worth considering much of this when people talk about the eternal anti-Semitism of the Islamic Mind. In my research, it seems as if there is quite a bit of anti-Semitism in Arab countries, beginning largely in the late 1800s and the twentieth-century. However, there is not the same history in the Ottoman Empire, which was the largest Muslim empire in history. So it's worth making distinctions within the dar al-Islam because different Muslim territories tend to differ greatly.


* Hi, folks! I’m getting sick and tired of ANCA’s scandalous News! (Watch Video)!
* Yesterday: It was R. Menendez and his donors of $ 136.000 mostly out of N.J.
Today: It is Correspondent Musurlian from CA, entering (uninvited) house of Steve
Cohen (D-TN), to back Nikki Tinker who got only $ 35.000 Armenian contribution!
Cohen physically pushes Musurlian out of his house! Now, "Genocide Scandal" in TVs!

* Is there no one to ask Cohen to read this
August 6, 2008
Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen Shoves Armenian American Journalist Out Of Press Conference
Photo Caption: An agitated Steve Cohen forces journalist Peter Musurlian out of a press conference, following repeated calls to explain his opposition to genocide legislation.

MEMPHIS, TN - Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) today forcibly removed Armenian American journalist Peter Musurlian from a press conference, apparently frustrated by repeated calls to explain his Congressional opposition to legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
"Apparently we need to send Congressman Cohen a copy of the first amendment as well as the state penal code," stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "Physically throwing out a reporter committed to getting the facts on his opposition to genocide legislation, is nothing more than a high school bully tactic and is conduct ill-befitting a Member of Congress."

Musurlian, who works for a public access TV station in Burbank, California, in addition to running his own production company, Globalist Films, had traveled to Memphis to document the days leading up to the contentious August 7th Democratic primary between first-term incumbent Steve Cohen and challenger, former civil rights lawyer, Nikki Tinker, for LA based Horizon Armenian Television.

Following a series of unanswered interview requests filed earlier this week, Musurlian attended several public Cohen events on Tuesday evening, documenting his campaign activities and looking for an opportunity to speak with the Congressman. Musurlian's efforts to participate in a Wednesday press conference, hastily called by Cohen at his own residence, were cut short when a volatile and clearly agitated Cohen forcibly shoved Musurlian out the door, slamming it in frustration. Throughout the process, Cohen made disparaging references to Musurlian's Armenian heritage, and proudly stated his opposition to human rights legislation commemorating the Armenian Genocide. That resolution, H.Res.106, has over 200 Congressional cosponsors and was adopted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last October. Following Committee adoption of H.Res.106, Cohen was a leader amongst a handful of Democratic legislators opposing full House passage of the resolution, going so far as holding a Capitol Hill press conference against the human rights measure.

"Genocide must be universally condemned - whenever and wherever it occurs. Rep. Cohen's opposition to Armenian Genocide recognition today, begs the question: Which genocide will he oppose commemorating tomorrow?" noted Hamparian.

In the weeks leading up to tomorrow's primary, Armenian Americans in Memphis and across the U.S. joined Emily's List and the Congressional Black Caucus PAC in supporting challenger Nikki Tinker. Tinker, in response to an ANCA Congressional Questionnaire, pledged to support House passage of Armenian Genocide legislation, as well as legislation to put an end to the ongoing Genocide in Darfur. The ANCA has endorsed Tinker and encouraged community support for the candidate, resulting in over $35,000 in contributions, a large portion donated through http://www.actblue.com/page/armeniansfornikki, organized by Memphis activist Dany Beylerian.
Rep. Cohen's actions against Musurlian were the top news story throughout Wednesday on Memphis television and radio stations. Links to the raw footage from the Cohen shoving incident and local news coverage are available on the

Turkey, Armenia Should Aim Low, Armenian Think Tank
August 6, 2008, Mustafa Oguz Ankara – Turkish Daily News
In the event of an eventual meeting between the Turkish and Armenian presidents many disputes are likely to be played as a zero-sum game, according to an Armenian think tank. From genocide claims supported by Armenia to the Nagorno-Karabakh occupation and non-recognition of Turkish borders, neither side is expected to budge on much.
“It is apparent that Turkey brings forth several preconditions for normalizing relations with Armenia, and these preconditions include the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Mountainous (Nagorno) Karabagh and Armenia's rejection of the policy of genocide recognition. But it is clear that Armenia cannot meet these preconditions,” said Syuzanna Barseghyan, research coordinator at the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, or ACNIS, responding to questions by the Turkish Daily News yesterday.

“This results in Armenia's formal view that mutual relations with Turkey must be established without any preconditions,” she underlined.

Turkey sealed its border with Armenia after the latter occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 1993. Ankara has no diplomatic ties with Yerevan, although it was one of the first to recognize the ex-Soviet state's independence.

An invitation in July from Armenian President Serge Sarkisian to President Abdullah Gül to visit Yerevan led to predictions of a new period for relations between the two countries. “Armenia's newly elected president Serge Sarkisian's invitation has caused broad discussions also in Armenia,” Barseghyan maintained. The Turkish side has not responded to Sarkisian's invitation to watch the World Cup 2010 qualifying game between Turkey and Armenia, which will kick off Sept. 6 in Yerevan.

“But considering the fact that Armenia still is under the post-election crisis which followed this year's presidential elections and that this situation influences the foreign policy of Armenia's leadership, it is fairly difficult to predict how beneficial this invitation will be for bettering Armenian-Turkish relations and to know Sarkisian's true motives behind this invitation,” she asserted.

Sarkisian also wrote in an article published by the Wall Street Journal on July 9 that Armenia is ready to engage in “a new phase of dialogue with the government and people of Turkey.” Reports suggest that Turkish and Armenian diplomats are working on the subject.

Reconciliation difficult at grassroots level

Public opinion surveys carried out by ACNIS on a wide spectrum of the Armenian population suggest that one major task of a “new phase of dialogue” would have to involve changing perceptions on the Armenian side of the border.

ACNIS's public opinion survey in 2005, “The Armenian Genocide: 90 Years and Waiting,” asked whether “the Armenian and Turkish peoples [can] ever be reconciled.”

Only 23.8 percent of the respondent Armenian citizens answered “yes” and 33.1 percent said “no,” while 43.1 percent found it difficult to answer.

It does not get any better with the very basic question of establishing relations. “A large majority, 76 percent, believed relations with Turkey must be established, but without forgetting the past -- or the recognition of the genocide, while the other group was completely against the establishment of any relations,” underlined Barseghyan.

She depicted current Armenian-Turkish relations as emotional rather than rational. “The problem seems irresolvable. A meeting between the presidents of the two countries or the discussions to that effect at the very least makes the examining of potential resources for partnership become an order of the day,” she said, noting, however, that those resources remain undetected.

"Turkey At Crossroads On Armenia" - Trend News Expert Trend News Agency, Aug 5 2008, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 August / Trend News corr. R.Hafizoglu / Armenians implement an active lobby activity to restore their 'obedient nation' image, like in the period of the Ottoman Empire.

For this purpose, Armenia did not need political maneuvers. The recent events in Turkey have proved the activity of Armenians in the territory of the country.

It is not by chance that Turkish President Abdullah Gul was invited to watch the football match between the Turkish and Armenian teams in Yerevan on 6 August by Armenian's Serzh Sargsyan. Actually, such a step by Armenians may drive Turkey into a corner. Gul's rejection to visit Armenia may be evaluated as Turkey was not ready to launch a dialogue with Armenia, and Armenians consider the possible visit of Turkish President to the country as the start of dialogue between the countries.

A serious popularization was carried out in Turkey before Gul was invited to Yerevan. Dismissal of Pf.Yusuf Khalachoglu, who attempted to prove the invented pretensions to 'Armenian genocide', from the chairman position in the Turkish History Department, gave an impact to extend the Armenian popularization in Turkey.

The scheduled festival Yeshil Yayla through support of the Armenian Government in the Rize City, is one of the lobby activity of Armenians in Turkey. The Christensen Fund (TCF) supported by Armenian Diaspora has allocated â~B¬200,000 to hold this festival. The funds were allocated to support hemshins, who reside in Turkey and state about their Armenian origin.

Ismayil Dinchar, the Head of International Force Unity Platform, said that the scheduled festival by Armenians in the Black Sea region was directed to reinforce their lobby activity and to prove hemshins the unity of historical origins. Furthermore, Armenians, who attempt to prove hemshins that they have the one historical roof, state that the Armenian Churches and churchyards in Turkey were in a bad situation.

These statements were published in the Turkish magazine Evrensel Hayat. "There are hundred of our Churches in Turkey, and they are in a bad situation. Our main Church is the cloister on the Mereto mountain and Church Maria Mother of God in Gulse. Turks do not respect our graves. Gravestones are installed with the names of Muslims, while there is not any sign on the graves of Armenians. This must be stopped," is stated in the magazine.

There are other evidences about the Armenian lobby activity in Turkey.

Some 70,000 Armenians illegally work in Turkey. Former MP of Armenian Parliament Stephan Grigoryan said the following about Armenians illegally working in Turkey in the interview to the Star newspaper: "I normally perceive that Armenians work in Turkey. We will solve this problem as soon as we will restore the diplomatic relations with this country. Armenians have good working conditions in Turkey. Turks and Armenians have one culture, music and traditions. In spite of Dashnaks, we should start the dialogue with Turks from the common issues rather than problems."

Grigoryan has positively evaluated the invitation of Turkish President to Yerevan and touched upon the importance of such a step to develop relations between the two countries. "I do not believe that Gul will visit Yerevan, but there is a message to Turkey beyond this invitation. Our further development depends on Turkey. Turkish political elite is very intelligent. Turkey understands that it is an ally not only for Azerbaijan in the region. We should use of this chance and to take the initiative to our hands," former Armenian MP said.

Furthermore, Armenians hope that the Turkish-Armenian border to be opened in the near future.

Gregoriy Vanyan, the Chairman of the organization World Initiatives of South Caucasus, has evaluated the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border as a very significant step to stabilize relations between Armenia and Turkey and to solve the problems.

Another evidence of development of the relations between Turkey and Armenia is an opening of the Armenian language and literature faculty in one of the Universities in Nevsher City.

Turkish Education Ministry has opened the Armenian language and literature faculty after an official permission by the Foreign Ministry. This was said by Pf.Mehmet Metin Hulagu to the information agency Habertime. Hulagu hoped that the faculty would play a role of bridge between the two countries. Taking into consideration that there are few specialists in Turkey, who can speak in the Armenian language, such specialists will be attracted from Armenia.

It would be simply-minded to take actualization of the Turkish-Armenian relations as by chance. European Union is also interested in normalization of the Turkish- Armenian relations and opening of borders. EU's main demand from Turkey is to open borders with Armenia and to restore relations with this country in response to support the Turkish ruling party.

All the aforesaid make us to think that the deadlock period between Turkey and Armenia have passed. Armenian's prospectus depends on Turkey. Turkey faces another historical choice.

Football Diplomacy Does Not Compare With 70s Ping-PongTurkish Daily News, Aug 5 2008
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan's invitation to his Turkish counterpart to attend a World Cup 2010 qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia is reminiscent of the ping-pong diplomacy that thawed U.S.-Chinese relations in 1971. But whereas the great turning point in the Cold War involved two powers of comparable weight and sound motives for the two sides to compromise on certain policy positions, no such comparisons are yet visible between Ankara and Yerevan.

Associate professor Kamer Kasim, a writer at the International Strategic Research Center, or USAK, said Armenia must be willing to change its attitude on three key matters currently harming Turkey-Armenian relations for the football diplomacy to achieve any meaningful results. "The first is a deletion of the expression 'west Armenia' from its declaration of independence, and a signature of an agreement on good neighborliness and the inviolability of borders," Kasim said in an interview with the Turkish Daily News yesterday.

Armenia's declaration of independence, signed by its first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, in 1990, states that Armenia supports the recognition of international claims of genocide in the Ottoman Empire and "western Armenia," a reference to eastern Anatolia.

Kazim continued, saying, "Second is progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh case, and third is dropping charges of genocide against Turkey." Turkey severed diplomatic ties with Armenia in protest of Yerevan's occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region over which Armenia fought Turkey's ally Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s.

It is unclear whether or not President Abdullah Gul will fly to Yerevan for the match on Sept. 6.

Tough matters likely to be avoided

An alternative to an all-or-nothing approach to the expected fresh diplomatic initiative would be to focus on soft topics shadowed by hard politics. "I do not expect great things from an eventual meeting, but it is evident that there will be a thaw in bilateral relations," Fuat Keyman, a professor of International Relations at Koc University commented.

Keyman noted that Turkey must take the lead in softening relations and stop pushing Armenia into a corner. "I believe that Turkey is an important player in the Caucasus, Balkans and the Middle East. As Turkey has more influence, Armenia is more and more isolated," he maintained, making reference to three important projects that connect Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey and bypass Armenia --the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline inaugurated in 2005, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas line opened end 2006 and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, construction of which started this year. "Moreover, as Turkey's negotiation process with the European Union advances, economic and cultural relations will improve with Armenia," Keyman asserted.

There are internal difficulties that seem to narrow the scope of bilateral dialogue, Kasim argued. The status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region is unlikely to benefit from whatever diplomatic thaw Turkey and Armenia seek to achieve in the short term, both experts agreed. "Sarksyan is of Karabakh origin, so are his supporters," noted Kasim, pointing to difficulties the Armenian president might face even if he is willing to adopt a policy change. "Even if the president is willing for progress, it will be negotiated behind the scenes and made public at the last minute," Kasim stressed.

Another point is the Armenian position, which holds that Armenia is ready to talk without any preconditions. "This is propaganda by Armenian because it is Turkey that brings conditions," Kasim said, pointing out that no concrete policy changes have yet been proposed by Yerevan.

Two Women's Story In A Changing TurkeyJuly 29, 2008
They were wealthy beyond measure, in generosity and kindness, in knowledge and experience of multitudes of intersecting cultures, and in courage that does not even know itself or call itself courage


They were not lovers or relatives or simply friends or exactly mistress and servant. Though their relationship showed certain aspects of each of these groupings. They lived together in Istanbul, at the time I knew them, from 1969, in a household consisting of two flats cobbled together in a modern apartment block in Sisli.

There are certain pairings that do not fall under any of the conventional human close relationships. Tiko and Madame Jeanet were such a twosome. They were in their 60s and 70s when I was friends with them. Tiko's real name was Beraet Bulayir a variant of Bolayir, near Tekirdag, where her grandfather Namik Kemal is buried); Mme. Jeanet called her Cici'm pronounced jijim—my Pet? my Dear?) at home and Beraet'anim—lady—in public). Tiko pronounced Mme.'s name Zhanet and is the one who spelled it Jeanet. The rest of us thought it was Jeannette, as in the French song: “Madame Jeannette, when the sun goes down,/ sits at her door at the edge of the town...,” waiting for one who will not come—who lies buried in the great Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

An asymmetrical relationship

Close-bonded though they were—though each also had some life separate and apart—there was a definite asymmetry in their relationship. Tiko the name she used with foreign friends) held the higher social position, and presided over the household when guests were entertained. Mme. Jeanet was definitely the housekeeper though not paid), shopping and cleaning, and cooking and serving, whenever I was there: she wouldn't sit at the table until all had been fed, and Turkish coffee was presented and drunk – for fortunes to be read out from the dregs.

Bobbing in and out of the kitchen, she was part of the conversation at all times, though, as much as the language situation allowed. They spoke French with each other, and with some of their relatives and friends, Turkish with their neighbors and some of their relatives and friends, Greek with some others, and Russian or Arabic with yet others. And Tiko spoke English with some of her Turkish friends, who had gone to the same American school at Arnavutköy Albanian Village) on the Bosporus. Mme. Jeanet didn't know English, and since most of their foreign guests used English, were in fact Americans, knowing varying amounts of Turkish or French, or none, it was tricky always to involve Mme. Jeanet in the table talk, however much she was interested, and included, in principle.

Family of Namik Kemal

Mme.'s education had been in French at the Notre Dame de Sion girls lycée) near Taksim Square at the center of the European city. She was Greek, and Christian, but Roman Catholic rather than Orthodox—a minority within a minority in Istanbul. Her husband was Russian—Yemelyanenko, his surname—but he was considerably older, and had died before I came on the scene. I saw his gravestone in the Sisli Cemetery only after she, too, was buried there. They had no children.

He had been some kind of retainer in the household of Tiko's father, Ali Ekrem, himself the son of Namik Kemal 1840-88), the chief poet and writer of the Young Ottoman nationalist movement of the 19th century, intent on converting the imperial sultanate into a Western-style constitutional monarchy or republic—not accomplished until Atatürk led the way to the present Turkish Republic in 1923.

Ali Ekrem was himself a secretary of the Sultan, a professor at Istanbul University, and sometime Governor of Jerusalem Palestine) and Governor of the Greek Isles. He had four children and no doubt numerous servants, assistants, and hangers-on. Ottoman extended families, as in those of the American South or in czarist Russia, often included unmarried or widowed relatives or family friends or students or governesses and nurses or individuals whose role was hard to define—better undefined. Mme. Jeanet had come as a bride into that patrician compound, and simply stayed on after her husband died.

They had all lived together in a fine old konak mansion and garden in the Süleymaniye Solomon's) district of historic Istanbul, near the great Sinan Mosque of that Sultan's and King's name. When Tiko's father and mother and brother and older sister were all dead the brother ended his own life young, it was said out of rejected love for his violin teacher; and Selma abla had decamped to New York as a young woman, working later for the Turkish Mission to the United Nations and, as Selma Ekrem, writing her autobiography, Unveiled, and other books on Turkey), a survivor of the collective, whom Tiko called Teyze Aunt), inherited Tiko and Jeanet Tiko's marriage to Ziya Bey not lasting) and moved the three of them to the flats in Sisli dying there before I arrived).

Change of worlds

Tiko and Mme. may have had some meager pensions, but Tiko supported the household by giving private English lessons. Twice a week she also gave her services as a volunteer teacher at a “dernek” for poor village boys, who lived there to get their education in Istanbul. She belonged to several other charitable or educational societies, such as the Turkish-American University Association, directed then by her kinswoman, Mrs. Ayse Sarialp, daughter of Leyla Hanim and Gen. Ali Fuat Cebesoy, Atatürk's best friend at military school and a leader of the new Republic. An Istanbul commuter boat is named for him. Ayse Hanim's husband Ruhi Bey was Turkey's first Olympics medalist. She organized—her middle name was Organizer – private bus trips for us all to many parts of Turkey and many parts of Istanbul. Occasionally Jeanet would go alone to visit relatives in Athens, Tiko to her sister and friends in America.

Mme. Jeanet was godmother to all her neighbors, and to anyone who presented a need. She was short and rotund, her black hair plastered; she was wall-eyed, like Jean-Paul Sartre, and wore round-rim glasses. Her face and head were round, her dress non-descript, respectable, not quite all-black as a traditional Greek or Italian widow's. She could smile winningly, tease and be teased, but her characteristic attitude was solicitude for her Cici's comfort and wellbeing, and anyone else's in her ken.

Intersecting cultures

Tiko's network of friends and associates included Jews local and foreign), Christians Armenians, Greeks, and others), Muslims strict and nominal), secularists, seekers—and fire-worshippers and snake-handlers, had any crossed her tireless ways. Foreigners were her hobby, and simply part of her Ottoman cosmopolitanism. She had made the transition without complaint, from Ottoman graciousness, aristocracy, and autocracy to modernity she was a hostess at the Turkish Pavilion of the New York World's Fair, 1939), though she had descended from privileged daughter of a rich and richly refined civilization to impoverished teacher in a demotic and truncated culture, whose newspapers she could hardly read or wish to) in purportedly her own language. But she persevered, loving to introduce newcomers to what she knew of her departed and present worlds, helping to bridge as she could the generations and gaps between them and between divided and divisive groups.

If you saw Tiko and Mme. Jeanet on the streets of Istanbul, inconspicuously dressed, waiting for a dolmus, or carrying provisions on their hill, you would not think, “These two women, one tall and thin and short-haired, the other, not—are wealthy beyond measure, in generosity and kindness, in knowledge and experience of multitudes of intersecting cultures, and in courage that does not even know itself or call itself courage.”

* Frank White, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, The City University of New York, and spends part of each year in Alanya, Turkey.

Railroads and Pipelines Integrate the Caucasus by Sedat Laciner
The Caucasia is such a small region to fight for. Having a bloody history, the region faced with numerous tragedies partly because of being on crossroads. All these sorrowful events should remind us that no nation can provide stability and security to the region without co-operation of the other regional countries. In this framework, the railroad that connects Kars, Tbilisi and Baku is a big step for being hopeful for future. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan is gradually but in a confident manner attaining regional cooperation may be even integration in the region that previously known with bloody conflicts. First, Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline BTC) connected these three countries; later, the gas pipelines solidified this connection. The pipeline coming from Azerbaijan and Georgia was added to the pipeline coming from Iran. Turkey and Georgia merged their regional air traffic and now the railroads are on the way. Thus, these three states are integrating with each other with long-term common interests. Therefore, the railroads are bringing these three countries in a non-separable manner.

Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railroad project includes development of 183 km of existing railroad and construction of new railroads as 76 km in Turkey and restoration of 26 km in Georgia. The estimated cost of the project is $ 422 million. However, this cost probably will reach to $600 million with the additional development projects. The railroad line will have the yearly transportation capacity of 15 million tons of goods.

This project may be seen as a small-range project for Turkey with its length and cost. However, the function of the project is for Turkey and the region is far more over its cost. First of all, a less developed region of Turkey will be integrated to Azerbaijan and Georgia. In addition, this project will ease the trade and transportation with Azerbaijan and her open hinterland that reaches to the Middle Asia. As we know the trade and social relations are highly relied on the transportation lines. It is certain that the relations between the people in the region and with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia and middle Asia will prosper.

Secondly, this line will bring a rapprochement between Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan and their interests will be structurally similar. With tightening of relations and bridging of the interests cooperation will be intense and as an outcome of this process first the economy of these three states then their politics will be closer as we see in the process of the European Union. Thus, in the middle of a region whose name seems to be equal to instability there will be an island of political and economical stability. Hopefully, this island will expand through the other states in the region.

Another advantage of the line is to increase the capacity of the land routes which is highly sensitive to the local security problems. With more security the cost of transportation in the region will dramatically decreased.

Fourth contribution of the line is directly connecting the homeland Azerbaijan to its far West province Nahcivan. As we know there is Armenia between homeland Azerbaijan and Nahcivan, and Armenians do not allow transition of people through their lands. Airlines are highly expensive compared with the railroads. There were problems of security, high costs of money and time about using Georgia lands for transit passage. The railroads will make vital contributions on the solution of all these problems. Thus, Azerbaijan will develop faster and connection of Nahcivan and Azerbaijan will bring important material benefits to Turkey too.

Another benefit is having an incessant railroad from London to China. As we know the construction of a tube line that connect Istanbul Bosphorus under the sea. Thus, in the near future one will be able to directly go to the coasts of China from London by just getting on a train. Thus, Caucasia and Turkey will connect Europe to Asia with tighter bonds. This is why the countries such as China and Kazakhstan endorse this project.

It was a wish for the Turkish statesmen that at least a small portion of the line pass through Armenia because Armenia has so many advantages about both energy and transportation projects. However, obstinacy of the country caused her to be by-passed from the project. Erivan tried to block the projects that she is not included but failed. Armenia and Armenian Diaspora spent a great deal of effort in order to create difficulties for the railroad project. Nevertheless, all these attempts failed. Day by day, Armenia has been isolated in the region and excluded all these economic cooperation. On contrary to the expectations Iran and Russia can not stop this isolation. Despite having borders with Iran, Iran does not have the ability to integrate Armenia to the rest of the world. Actually, Iran has also so many problems in integration to the rest of the world. Armenia does not have borders with Russia, even if she had borders, and Russia does not have any positive significant effect to development of the countries that she supports. Russia has a different style in international politics. Russia made Armenia economically dependent to her with loans until now. Russia for example has the monopoly of energy supplies in Armenia. In other words, Armenia pays high costs for not cooperating with Turkey but only Russia. Staying as an invader on the Azerbaijani soils and turning 1915 incidents to a major problem is cornering Armenia. Yerevan does not recognize national borders of Turkey and tries to harm Turkey’s interests around the world. As a consequence of these problems, Armenia’s border with Turkey is closed and of course the one with Azerbaijan. However, if only Armenia could withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani territory, recognize Turkish borders and stop using genocide claims as a weapon against Turkey and Turkish people, there would be no reason to exclude Armenia from the regional integration. Especially, the genocide claims have an emotional aspect for the Armenians. The 1915 incidents are being kept fresh as it happened yesterday and the parties that benefit from the genocide genocide industry) prevent wounds to heal. Of course Diaspora has a great contribution on this situation. Since, Diaspora is not affected by the problems of the region they do not understand the significance of the problems that Armenia faced and how it troubles Armenia to raise the tension.

There is an open government in Turkey that even can debate the genocide claims. Moreover, there is not a solid hatred among Turkish people against Armenia. Turkey is ready to speak any issue. Turkey is ready to cooperate on every issue with Armenia. However, if one wants to cooperate with his/her neighbor, he/she should show respect to the neighbor’s home.
28 July 2008 Copyright Journal of Turkish Weekly www.turkishweekly.net

Armenian Youth: Let There Be Light
July 28, 2008, Vercihan Ziflioglu, Yerevan - Turkish Daily News

A group of youth in Armenia has voiced their opposition to any interference into relations between Turkey and Armenia from Western countries and the Diaspora. They also sent a message to Turkey, saying, ‘Please do not blame Armenia because of the acts and attitudes of the Diaspora.’

The members of the youth team at an influential Armenian radio station are pushing for the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia and for fruitful dialogue coupled with close contact between the peoples of both countries.

Erik Gazharian, a member of the youth program at Radio Liberty Azatutyun in Armenian) and an international relations expert, addressed Western countries and the Armenian Diaspora, saying: “Western countries manipulate the Armenian issue in line with their own interests and their interferences damage Armenia's relations with Turkey. The Diaspora, on the other hand, should be well aware of the fact that Armenia is an independent republic. And Turkey should consider not the Diaspora but the Republic of Armenia as her addressee.”

Gazharian was also critical of the Armenian genocide bill that would grant U.S. congressional recognition to the alleged genocide. “The states have been utilizing such a sensitive issue while also maintaining its own interests, which pushes Armenia into big difficulty, and Turkey unfortunately takes a negative attitude toward Armenia -- not to America -- because of such attempts,” he said, referring to the genocide resolution.

Gazharian said he believed the Armenian issue had been politicized, saying the current question, rooted in a controversial history, should be the concern of objective historians from both sides. “No matter whatever you call it, genocide or forced migration, a painful episode took place in history. This is undeniable,” he added.

The youth program's director, Karlen Aslanian, on the other hand, said of the Armenian issue: “The bitter events that occurred in the past decades are still the biggest obstacle to a possible reconciliation between the two peoples, the Turks and the Armenians. We, the two sides, do not communicate with each other. It is a must for both of us to start dialogue and to share our pains with each other.”

Normalization of relations more important than border opening

For Gazharian, a move by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian to extend an invitation to Turkish President Abdullah Gül to watch a football game together was a significant step, signaling normalization of bilateral relations. “The first statesman that congratulated Sarkisian immediately after he ascended the presidential throne was President Gül,” said Gazharian. “I hope positive course of relations between Turkey and Armenia would not remain limited only to a football game,” he added.

Gazharian also addressed Armenian politicians. “If politicians in Armenia want to establish good relations with Turkey, border opening should not be the only criterion in their eyes anymore. Open borders do not necessarily mean normalized bilateral relations,” he said.

Gazharian visited Turkey last year -- his first visit to the country. Because the Turkey-Armenia border was and is still) closed, he entered Turkey from Georgia. “I just wanted to personally experience the feeling of traveling along a closed border between two neighboring countries. So, instead of entering Turkey from an open gate located at a spot that is 50 minutes away from Yerevan, I chose to travel for hours and hours in a bus to Georgia. From there, I crossed to Turkey,” he said.

Families from Armenia spend their holiday in Antalya

Both Gazharian and Aslanian plan to visit Turkey once again in the upcoming weeks. On their next visit, they would like to bring some of their young friends as well. “We have positive opinions about Turkey. Yes, painful event did occur in the past decades. But from now on, we should look to future not to the past,” they said.

Rich families from Armenia go to Turkey's Mediterranean resort town Antalya each summer to spend their holiday, said Aslanian. According to official figures, approximately 70,000 citizens of Armenia spent their summer vacation in Antalya last year, he added.

“Those people, who are presented as enemies against Turkey, chose to spend their holiday in Turkey rather than spending it in any Western countries,” said Aslanian, arguing that such non-political relations between societies are more significant than political relations between states.

Ankara And Yerevan Lift The Bans Maria Rybakova, Victor Yadukha, WPS Agency, July 28, 2008 Russia
HIGHLIGHT: THE US AND EUROPEAN UNION CAN RECONCILE TURKEY AND ARMENIA?; Details of secret negotiations between representatives of Armenia and Turkey leaked to the Turkish press. Besides conditions for opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, the details dealt with the problem of genocide of Armenians, ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in general.

Yesterday, details of secret negotiations between representatives of Armenia and Turkey leaked to the Turkish press. Besides conditions for opening of the Armenian-Turkish border the details dealt with the problem of genocide of Armenians, ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenian-Azerbaijani relations in general.

According to the Turkish mass media, Ankara has been having unofficial meetings with Yerevan for a few years keeping them in secrect to avoid the negative reaction of Azerbaijan. Earlier, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Ali Babacan confirmed the fact of periodic meetings with Yerevan but did not speak about the details.

The problems discussed during the negotiations are so closely intersected that it is impossible to achieve progress in solving of one of them without solving another. The US and the European Union are persistently pushing Ankara towards opening the borders, which will enable Yerevan to get rid of its isolation. In response, the unofficial intermediaries promise that Yerevan will move the matter of the genocide of Armenians from the foreign policy level to the level of discussion by historians. Former President of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, has refused to do this but possible signals have been coming from Yerevan lately.

Reconciliation is openly lobbied and, as in the case of Gyumri, it is financed by the US embassy in Yerevan. Analysts point out that Armenia called "the last ally of Russia in Transcaucasia" is prepared to listen to the calls of the West, especially if they are confirmed by financing.

At the beginning of the week, it became known that the US Congress approved the allocation of $52 million to Armenia and $8 million to Nagorno-Karabakh.

With No Precondition
Metehan Demir announced a development, which gives an impression that the relations between Turkey-Armenia, which was left aside for a while, is on the eve of a turning point:

The representatives of the two countries have secretly been negotiating in Switzerland for some time. We wish they would succeed.

In fact, the news lacks basic information. For instance; the goal and the content of the meetings are not known. However, it can be estimated that in general, issues like improving the relations, for example; opening the borders, which is closed down by Turkey 14 years ago, lifting the economic embargo that was imposed by Turkey, starting the diplomatic relations between the two countries, and legalizing the situation of the 60 thousand or so Armenians, who are the citizens of Armenia, and who live illegally with the tolerance of Turkish government, are targeted.

Actually, we are familiar with the fact that Armenia is eager to “normalize” these relations, and American government constantly inculcates-even puts pressure-on Turkey on the issue.

The possibility of taking new steps on this direction had gained strength following Serzh Sarkisyan was elected as the president of Armenia in 2008 of February. A more moderate attitude was expected from the new president comparing to the former President Robert Koçaryan, who is the speaker of the representatives of the falcon wing of the Armenia politics.

Nevertheless, we are aware of the fact that Serzh Sarkisyan had not used a soft language about Turkey during an interview in America on 27 October 2007, when he was the Prime Minister at Koçaryan’s presidency term. For instance at the mentioned interview he exactly stated the following:

“One cannot expect us to be peaceful as long as we have a neighbor besides us, which does not recognize the genocide. They Turks) not only refuse genocide but keep the borders closed, as well. Therefore, we have a neighbor, which does not accept civilized and normal relations. We did not choose the place we live with our own will. We are aware of the fact that we have lived there in Turkey) for long centuries, in fact for thousands of years. And we are aware of the fact that we should also live there for the coming thousands of years. This should also perceived by our neighbors. …) The genocide occurred at the Western Armenia, which is currently within the borders of Turkey. …) Those people had to leave their own land because of the genocide.”

If only it were these statements, it would be “No problem”. However, Armenia informed that Armenian Republic has adopted the international recognition of the “1915 genocide in the Western Armenia and the Ottoman Turkey” at the ‘Independence Declaration’ dated 23 august 1990, as a responsibility.

We are talking about a neighbor, which displays Turkey’s Agri Mountain in her flag , in other words, she openly declares that she longs the lands of the Turkish Republic.

A neighbor, which officially declares all of these, and does not accede saying that she officially recognizes the agreement, which determines the border between Turkey and Armenia on one hand, and on the other; ‘talks about not putting any precondition for the negotiations, which aims at establishing normal and civilized relations with Turkey’…

Let’s wait and see the point, where the secret and bilateral meetings would reach with a neighbor like this.
Oktay Eksi- Hürriyet Daily Newspaper-18.07.2008

``No One Should Search for Traces of Armenians on the Agri Mountain”
Oktay Belli, Assistant Professor of the History Department of Istanbul University said: “No one should search for the traces of Armenians on the Agri Mountain. They came and settled here later.”

Prof. Dr. Belli gave archeological information on the Agri region mountain during BC I and II at the “International Symposium on Agri Mountain at the Turkish Culture”, which was organized jointly by the Atatürk Cultural Center and Igdir governorship at Igdir Cultural Center accompanied by a slide demonstration.

Expressing that Anatolian lands and Agri Mountain is the center of civilization, Belli noted the following:

“Hurri’s had first come to Agri Mountain from the Caucasus. Later, Urartu civilization and Armenians had lived at the region. The Armenians were a poor population. They inherited the things that were made by the Urartu civilization. No one should search for the traces of Armenians on the Agri Mountain. They came and settled here later. I know every inch of this region. There is not even a single Armenian historical work of art here. This is told by the scientists of the world. Armenians have nothing to do with the word “Ararat”. Armenians call Agri Mountain as “Masis”. Researchers and travelers call it as “Ararat” since it is a world from the Pentateuch.”

Önder Göçgün, Assistant Professor of the Education faculty of Pamukkale University, stressed that since Agri Mountain is a historical place, it is Turkish nation’s own property at his speech entitled “Agri Mountain as an Epic Element at the Stories of Dede Korkut”.

Pointing out that “Agri Mountain” is frequently pronounced at the stories of Dede Korkut, Assistant Professor Önder Göçgün, stated the following:

“As has been clearly put forward at Dede Korkut’s book, which is one of our richest leading epical documents and one of the principal structure of our literature, history and national culture, Agri Mountain, which is the price of many martyrs’ blood, is our own property, owing to the fact that it is one of the historical places of the Turkish nation. In the direction of the goals that were put forward by our leader Atatürk, it will always be our own property until the eternity with a high national conscious.”

Mete Alim, Assistant Professor of the Geography Department of Kazim Karabekir
Faculty of the Atatürk University stated at his presentation entitled “Agri Mountain as regards Geographical Particularities” that although %65 of Agri Mountain is located at Igdir and %35 is located at Agri, it is still named as Agri province. He pointed out that this should be corrected.

Expressing that Agri Mountain is called as “Curved Mountain, Noah’s Mountain and Great Mountain”, Alim said the following:

“It is highly possible that the word Agri comes from the Turkish that was used during the Shamanism period. Armenians’ claim which expresses that this location was the center of their country and the belief which indicated that Noah’s ship had landed on this mountain has increased the significance of Agri Mountain both politically and religiously. This circumstance has increased the number of people who climbed the mountain. We can make use of these circumstances to attract tourist into the region.”

Eflatun Neimetzade, Assistant Professor of the Education faculty of the Gazi University made a presentation on “Agri Mountain in the World of Music and Theatre”.

Expressing that Agri Mountain is a monument of honor of the Turkish World Neitmetzade, stated the following:

“We are proud of presenting the culture and art richness of the Turkish nation as a synthesis to the whole world. Agri Mountain has taken its place at novels, poems and music”. Let’s claim Agri Mountain and own it.

Indicating that there are pictures of Agri Mountain everywhere in Armenia, Neitmetzade said: “The Armenians do not recognize Turkish borders; they long for the Turkish lands. Some merchants from Kars have started a signature campaign for opening the Armenian border. Opening the borders means losing the lands of Karabagh and hopes of Turkish world.”

Anadolu Agency-29.06.2008

Why Gül’s Invitation From Yerevan Is Not An ‘opportunity’ By Elsever Salmanov*
It is not clear whether Turkish President Abdullah Gül will accept his Armenian counterpart’s invitation to Yerevan.

Azerbaijan is one of the most eager countries in seeking peace, harmony and cooperation in international relations. Its commitment to international law and the maintaining of good relations with other countries despite being a victim is clear evidence of this.

International law recommends friendly relations between states and bans hostile actions, recommending sanctions in the event of breaches and violations. Azerbaijan has never been party to bad relations with other countries. Quite the contrary, it has always favored and promoted peace and cooperation among all countries in the world. Therefore, in principle, Azerbaijan is not opposed to any probable rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. The matter that bothers Azerbaijan is this: respect for the inviolability of the borders of the state recognized by the international community.

Turkey bases its decision to keep its border with Armenia closed and not to establish diplomatic relations with this country on the following factors: the failure of Armenia to officially recognize the Kars agreement, which determined the border between the two countries after Armenia gained independence, Armenian demands for Turkish recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide in the Armenian Declaration of Independence and Armenia's insistence on keeping 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory under occupation.

Those who work to smooth relations between the two countries say there are only a few who oppose normalization of these relations, all of whom are well known and closely followed in Turkish and Azeri societies because Armenia suffers from difficult economic conditions because of its aggression and it is being excluded from regional projects for the same reason. Despite this, it still maintains its aggressive stance, by which it violates basic international legal rules, and it still makes attempts to ensure that its aggressive policies are endorsed by the international community. The latest example of this is the soccer diplomacy that has occupied a central place in the recent agenda. The newly elected Armenian president, Serzh Sarksyan, has invited Turkish President Abdullah Gül to watch a 2010 World Cup qualification match between the national teams of the two countries in Yerevan. Whether Gül will accept the invitation is not clear.

Armenia needs to take positive steps
But if the Armenian side does not consider the reasons I mention above for Turkey's decision not to improve its relations with Armenia or if it fails to take positive and concrete steps toward this end, it is most likely that President Gül will not accept the invitation, because he is not an ordinary figure due to his position. Therefore, none of his actions are simply and ordinary. Watching a soccer game may be the act of an ordinary man. But if a president watches a soccer game in a place other than his country, this may lead to different diplomatic interpretations, particularly if the host country is known for its aggression against your country and your allies.

Turkey is a big state. It is an actor in international relations. Therefore, it should not be possible for a country like Armenia to force it to give up on a policy or take any particular step. Armenia's suggestion of opening the border between the two countries and assigning a commission for investigation of the alleged "genocide" without taking any concrete steps is nothing but an attempt to get rid of the economic difficulties that the country is currently facing.

From the perspective of international relations perspective and that of big powers and other neighboring countries, we reach the following conclusion: The US is asking for the opening of the border gate between Turkey and Armenia to alleviate Armenia's economic suffering because a more economically stable Armenia will be resistant to Russian influence and will maintain low-profile relations with Iran. Consequently, the influence of Russia and Iran will be reduced in the region. The reason for the Russia and Iran's eagerness to ensure the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia, on the other hand, is that in such an event, Azerbaijan will lose on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, because a more economically stable Armenia will adopt a harsher stance in peace talks.

Russia and Iran are seeking to ensure that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue remains as it is now, because it is easier for them to interfere with the region when there are problems. Moreover, the presence of more than 30 million Azeris in Iran has always forced it to remain cautious in its relations with Azerbaijan. On the other hand, Georgia does not want improved relations between Turkey and Armenia because Armenia would then be more comfortable in demanding territories from Georgia. Therefore, when this conjecture is con sidered, a rapprochement with Armenia without Turkey receiving strong guarantees that Armenia will comply with international legal rules will be a compromise and encourage a violator of international law. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Turkey holds the key for justice in the Caucasus region. Furthermore, the motives of those who so eagerly seek the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia should be investigated. I hold that it would be a mistake to compromise Turkey's national interests for the sake of the appreciation of a small Armenian population in Turkey and the probable economic benefits of such a rapprochement. Moreover, concrete steps should be taken to ensure the integration of the Armenians living in Turkey into Turkish society. Otherwise, it is not suitable for Turkey to remind them of their "homeland" every opportunity it gets.

Turkish-Armenian relations not a domestic issue
I think it would be useful to stress this point as well: It is wrong to connect Turkish-Armenian relations with the domestic politics of Turkey. It is wrong to hope that Turkey will improve its relations with Armenia in an attempt to show that it is a democratic state or to make recommendations toward this end after the murder of a distinguished Armenian intellectual who was a Turkish citizen because the Turkish administration does and did everything that needs to be done by a democratic state. Therefore, those who hope that Turkey will improve its relations with Armenia after dealing with gangs and secret organizations and those who see improved relations with Armenia as the extension of this legal process are simply wrong, because this legal process is part of Turkey's internal affairs and the institutions of the Turkish state have done everything that needs to be done. Moreover, Turkey's insistence on receiving guarantees from Armenia prior to improving its relations with this country because of its own security interests and those of its allies is not an isolationist foreign policy.

Therefore, Sarksyan's invitation to Gül to watch a soccer game in Yerevan is not an opportunity for Turkey because the Armenian side is currently dealing with economic difficulties and maintaining its aggressive policies. Those who present this as an opportunity are approaching the issue with a fait accompli view for different reasons. If Turkey takes action or steps toward the improvement of relations without making the Armenian side respect international law, this violator of international law will be encouraged and start demanding territory from Georgia. Furtherance of the issue may even become an international precedent. It is obvious that the improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations without ensuring Armenia's commitment to international law will greatly damage Turkish-Azeri relations.
*Elsever Salmanov is a Ph.D. candidate at Istanbul University's Institute for Social Sciences.

Discussions Heated after the Release of ‘Genocide Report’ by Rwanda
06 August 2008
The long-awaited report of the Rwandan government was released Tuesday intensifying the debates over the alleged involvement of France in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which left
behind 800.000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus within just a couple of months.

The Rwandan government and genocide survivor organizations have always accused France of training and arming the militias and former government troops who led the genocide. However, the latest report has most explicitly pointed out the political figures and military people of France as the responsible parties to the Rwandan genocide.

While the report presents most explicit allegations on the French officials’ involvement in the 1994 genocide, there exist some doubts over the impartiality and the legitimacy of the report on the part of the French side.

The Arguments of the Report

The report explicitly accused a raft of top French politicians of involvement in the genocidal acts and massacres of 1994.

“The overwhelming nature of France’s support to the Rwandan policy of massacres… shows the complicity of French political and military officials in the preparation and execution of the genocide,” said a statement of the Justice Ministry released after the report was presented in Kigali.

“French forces directly assassinated Tutsisand Hutus of hiding Tutsis…. French forces committed several rapes on Tutsi survivor,” the statement said.

The report further claimed that the military and humanitarian Operation Turquoise carried out by the French between June and August 1994 abetted the atrocities perpetrated by the extremist Interahamwe Hutu militia.

“The French military did not challenge the infrastructure of genocide, notably the checkpoints manned by the Interahamwes. They clearly requested that the Interahamwes continue to man those checkpoints and kill Tutsis attempting to flee,” the statement noted.

Therefore, the report brings about serious and explicit accusations against the top military and political French officials at the time of giving direct support of ‘a political, military, diplomatic and logistic nature’.

The report named former French prime minister Edouard Balladur, former foreign minister Alain Juppe and then-president Francois Mitterand, who died in 1996, among 13 French politicians accused of playing a role in the massacres. Furthermore, Dominique de Villepin, who later became the prime minister of France, was included in the list as well. Lastly, 20 military officials are named in the report with an accusation of their involvement in the Rwandan genocide.

Report as a Legal Challenge for France?

After the release of the long-awaited report, many now discuss about the level of challenge Rwanda can make against France on legal grounds.
Concerning the issue, the Rwandan officials stated: “Concerning the seriousness of the alleged crimes, the Rwandan government has urged to the relevant authorities to bring the accused French politicians and military officials to justice.”

“This is a report of inquiry; not a criminal file. It is not a statement of guilt but on the basis of this report, other things can follow,” said the Justice Minister Tharcise Karugarama.

The Debates over the ‘Political’ Nature of the Report

Unveiled by the Minister of Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, the 500-page report is a product of nearly two-year investigation over the 1994 genocide. Commissioned by the government, the report has been produced by an independent commission of inquiry led by former Minister of Justice, Jean de Dieu Mucyo.

Being a product of one and a half year, the report brought together testimonies from genocide survivors, researchers, writers and reporters.
However, there are serious concerns about the report due to the claims on the ambitious political agenda that the Rwandan government had while preparing the report.

It is argued that the government-commissioned report is retaliation to the recent indictments against the important officials of Rwanda by the Spanish and French judges explaining that the Mucyo Commission was set up before the two European indictments.

A French judge in 2006 called for the current Rwandan President Kagame to stand trial over the death of his predecessor in April 1994, which is believed to the opening scene for the 100-day nightmare of Rwanda.

The French investigative judge, Jean Louis Brugiere, accused the ethnic Tutsi rebel leader at the time, Paul Kagame, of having been responsible for the death of President of Rwanda in April 1994.

Regarding the European indictments, Karugarama stated that they “… were very unprofessional and political rather than judicial.” She further stated that the fresh report of the Rwandan government provides a ‘good basis for potential charges against individuals and states but not good enough in itself.”

French Response to the Report
The first response of Paris to the report was quite chary as the officials refused to make any comment on the report Tuesday while not forgetting to add that the governmental inquiry over the 1994 events lacked legitimacy and impartiality.

Instead of reacting with a fresh statement, a spokesman from the Defense Ministry referred to a government statement of January 2007. The French government had declared that the commissioned inquiry of the Rwandan genocide had neither ‘independence’ nor ‘impartiality’ because the Rwandan government aimed ‘to gather evidence of the involvement of the French state’ in the Rwandan genocide.

The earlier position of France pointed out that the inquiry had ‘no legitimacy nor competence’ to conduct interviews in France as the two countries cut of diplomatic ties in 2006.

France accepts no accusation of genocide; however, declares that there could be some ‘political mistakes’ at the time.
On the other hand, as early as 1998, France rejected any responsibility in the 1994 genocide.
August 06, 2008

Armenian Interests Will Not Be Damaged If Gul Watches Football In Yerevan
06.08.2008 /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Union of Armenians of Russia supports the initiative of RA President Serzh Sargsyan to invite his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to Yerevan.

"The Armenian Diaspora numbers 8 million people and all have different opinions. We rate President Sargsyan's invitation as a good will gesture. Armenian interests will not be damaged if Gul watches football in Yerevan," said Gegham Khalatyan, UAR Vice President.

"Armenia will benefit anyway. As to the United States and Russia… Over 100 of U.S. Congressmen and presidential candidate Barack Obama stand for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. At the same time, Turkey is an important ally for the U.S. and it's natural that each initiative for normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations is welcomed," he said. "To achieve serious results, Turkey should first of all openly face the dark pages of its history. Otherwise, all efforts will be useless."

"Russia pursues a pragmatic policy in the region, although it often doesn't meet long-term strategic interests. However, presence of the border guards and a military base in Armenia is a restraint for Turkey," Khalatyan said, ANF news agency reports.

In Statement, Us Official 'Holds Ottomans Responsible' For Crimes Against Armenians
Ümit Enginsoy, Washington - Turkish Daily News, August 2, 2008
In new correspondence with the U.S. Congress on World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman empire, U.S. President George W. Bush's administration has continued to avoid using the word "genocide," but also says it holds Ottoman officials responsible for crimes against Armenians.

"The administration recognizes that mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes," Matthew Reynolds, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for legislative affairs said in a letter to Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The letter reached Biden hours before the committee voted Tuesday to support Marie Yovanovitch, Bush's nominee for ambassador to Armenia.

Reynolds was responding to questions by Biden and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez on Yovanovitch's views on the Turkish-Armenian relationship.

The letter was first posted on the web site of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), the largest U.S. Armenian group.

In response to a question by Biden about a plan to invite Turkish and Armenian archivists to the United States for professional training, Reynolds said that Washington's aim was "to help archivists protect the evidence of the past so that future generations will have the documentation of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians committed by Ottoman soldiers and other Ottoman officials in 1915."

"Our goal is not to open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events," Reynolds said.

Setback for Turkey:

Turkish sources admitted that they saw these two new points raised by Reynolds as a setback for Ankara.

"Particularly the point that the Americans see World War I-era events as fully documented realities is disturbing, and makes Washington's stated support for our proposal for the creation of a joint Armenian-Turkish history commission to probe the events totally irrelevant," said one source. "If the events are fully known, there is no need for an investigation, the letter says, which is in contradiction with the official U.S. policy."

Commenting on developments, Aram Hamparian, ANCA executive director said, "The State Department letter, although clearly falling short of America's moral responsibility and national interest in recognizing and condemning the Armenian genocide, did mark a step in the direction of distancing U.S. policy from the dictates of the Turkish government.” Analysts said that the points raised by Reynolds represented concessions by the administration to pro-Armenian senators to persuade them not to block Yovanovitch's nomination.

Washington has had no full-time ambassador in Yerevan since May 2006 and attaches great importance to sending Yovanovitch there at a time of increasing Russian influence in the region and a worsening conflict over the development of nuclear arms with Iran, they said.

Yovanovitch was expected to be confirmed in a Senate floor meeting before this weekend.

In May 2006 Bush fired John Evans, the last ambassador, who had vocally described the Armenian killings as genocide, in violation of Washington's official policy. He then nominated career diplomat Richard Hoagland for the post, but Menendez blocked the nomination for failing to qualify the Armenian killings as genocide. Bush then proposed Yovanovitch, who also has declined to use the word ‘genocide.'

Ankara’s Esenboga Airport Holds Particular Significance For Martyrs
Hasan Kanbolat H.Kanbolat@Todayszaman.Com
Two terrorists from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) terrorist organization staged an attack at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport on Aug. 7, 1982. The attack, carried out with automatic weapons and a bomb, led to the deaths of two security officers, including Ankara Deputy Chief of Police Hamdi Yahyaoglu, and six passengers, two of whom were foreigners. An additional 72 were wounded. During the attack, one of the terrorists was killed and the other, Levon Ekmekçiyan, was caught after being wounded. The Esenboga attack was ASALA’s first terrorist attack in Turkey.

Attacks by Armenian terrorist organizations against Turkish diplomats serving abroad started in 1973. In the first terrorist attack, Turkish Consul General in Los Angeles Mehmet Baydar and Consul Bahadir Demir were murdered in an ambush in Santa Barbara on Jan. 27, 1973. No one in Turkey understood why the two young Turkish diplomats were killed in the US by Armenians, nor did anyone believe that these murders were committed by Armenians. However, as the death toll grew, it became obvious that Armenian terrorist organizations were behind these killings.

Armenians were recognized and considered a loyal nation by the Ottoman state in the first half of the 19th century. They replaced the Greeks as reliable and loyal Christian subjects of the Ottoman state when the Greeks rebelled against the state in Mora in the 1820s. However, this changed during the war between the Ottomans and the Russians in 1877-78 and Armenians resorted to insurgency and terrorism with the help and instigation of Russia, which became their protector and sponsor after the 1878 Berlin Agreement, signed in the aftermath of the war, which the Ottoman state lost.

In this process, Ottoman Armenians, with the help of large states, rioted in the hope of having a state of their own. They took action to create an Armenian state in Anatolia. But there was one thing they forgot: The demographic structure of Anatolia was rapidly changing in the 19th century. Turkish and Muslim populations were subjected to genocide and forced migration in the Balkans, Crimea and the southern and northern Caucasus because the Ottoman state was losing territory. People from these areas then migrated to Anatolia. There was no land left other than Anatolia for these people to settle down and seek refuge in. The Turkish and Muslim population had no other option than to make Anatolia its homeland. For this reason, there was no chance for Armenians to create a state of their own in Anatolia. Armenian riots and acts of terror did nothing than harm peace and harmony in Anatolia.

Ankara’s Esenboga Airport holds a particular importance in the history of the Republic of Turkey. During the period between 1973 and 1994, coffins wrapped with Turkish flags were transported from 13 countries and 17 cities (Rome, Marseilles, Athens, Lyon, Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen, Geneva, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Boston, Lisbon, Burgas, Belgrade, Brussels, Vienna and Teheran) to the airport. Funeral prayers were held at Ankara’s Maltepe Mosque, and the martyrs were subsequently buried in the Foreign Ministry’s Martyrs’ Cemetery.

What was done at the Esenboga Airport to remember the martyrs killed in the ASALA raid on Aug. 7, 1982? Nothing. Not even a plaque was placed in the airport to remember the martyrs; no corner was opened for the martyrs; no picture was hung in memory of these martyrs; not even a small statue representing peace was erected. At no time were sirens sounded for a moment of silent to remember the martyrs of the Esenboga Airport attack.

Armenians are Turkey’s next-door neighbors. They are a part of the same family. For this reason, terrorist attacks carried out by ASALA or any other terrorist organization cannot be attributed to the Armenian nation. However, we should remember that not only Armenians but also Turks suffer from great pain.

It Is All About Money To Give Honey To Distant Turkey!
Subject: Senators Force Bush Administration Retreat from Turkey's Genocide Denial July 30, 2008

Amb. Designate Marie Yovanovitch
TOP STORY: Senators Biden, Boxer, Menendez Force Bush Administration to Distance United States From Turkey's Genocide Denial Policy

"The Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire."

-- Matthew A. Reynolds
Acting Assistant Secretary Legislative Affairs

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Ambassador Nominee to Armenia After Last Minute State Department Clarification
WASHINGTON, DC -- In the midst of mounting Senate scrutiny and the prospect of a “hold” on Marie Yovanovitch’s nomination to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, the State Department, yesterday, cleared the way for her approval by retreating from statements calling into question the historical record of the Ottoman Empire’s destruction of its Armenian population, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

Additional Resources
State Department Letter to Chairman Biden
Senators Biden, Boxer, Menendez and Cardin Speak Out on U.S. Policy on Armenian Genocide

The Department of State letter – sent in response to sustained pressure from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE), and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) – was issued only hours before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was set to vote on her nomination. The Committee confirmed the nomination by voice vote, with Senator Boxer going on record against the nomination, citing the Administration’s reluctance to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide. The full Senate will likely consider her nomination prior to their August recess.

“Today’s State Department letter, although clearly falling short of America’s moral responsibility and national interest in recognizing and condemning the Armenian Genocide, did mark a step in the direction of distancing U.S. policy from the dictates of the Turkish government,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “While we, of course, remain troubled by the President’s refusal to properly characterize the Armenian Genocide – as reflected in Ambassador Yovanovitch’s responses – we were gratified to see that, as a result of pressure from Senators Biden, Boxer, and Menendez, the Department of State has retreated from its most offensive and factually unsupportable assertions calling into question the historical fact of Ottoman Turkey’s destruction of its Armenian population.”
Last month, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) delayed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s consideration of the confirmation of Ambassador Yovanovitch in response to the State Department’s late responses to the eight sets of written questions submitted to her by members of the panel. In the days leading up to today’s vote, Senators Biden, Boxer and Menendez approached the State Department for further clarification of the nominee’s statements. Facing strong pressure and the prospect of a Senate “hold,” Matthew Reynolds, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, wrote to Chairman Biden to formally affirm that: “the Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire.”

During the Committee meeting, Chairman Biden, and Senators Boxer, Menendez, and Ben Cardin (D-MD) spoke forcefully about the necessity for proper U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, stating that while the State Department’s letter represented progress, the proper characterization of the Armenian Genocide remains a moral imperative and will bolster U.S. credibility in stopping 21st Century genocides. "Full recognition by the U.S. government of the Armenian Genocide can and will come, and today we got a bit closer," explained Chairman Biden. "The Bush Administration should realize that if you are blind to the past you can't see the future."
Read more. . . www.anca.org

Crucial Directions In Armenia-Diaspora Relations by By Prof. Onnig Beylerian
Ottawa, 31 July 2008

I should like to thank everyone who took time to reflect on the subjects I raised in my PowerPoint presentation, which was not the best tool to express the nuances of one’s own thoughts. It is also encouraging to see that Armenia-Diasporan relations do generate passionate arguments and debate. That is yet another indication there is a great future for Armenia and its Diaspora.

To put things in their context, I was asked by Dr. Dikran Abrahamian to present findings based on my own observations of Armenia-Diaspora relations, as they relate with policy development. My views did not in any way reflect those institutions I could be or am associated with. They are truly my own contributions as a distant and admittedly non-influential member of Canada’s Armenian community.

In this response, I can only be brief and respond to what I think are the most important issues raised by those who have been gentle enough to consider and comment my findings and observations.

1. Undoubtedly the Diaspora is already involved in Armenia. To say the Diaspora should not interfere in Armenia’s affairs is not to recognize reality. The main question is how the Diaspora’s involvement can be more effective. Seeking remittances and cash disbursements or relying on the goodwill of individual Diasporans is insufficient and misplaced in many ways. Money is not everything; the real wealth of the Diaspora resides is in its knowhow, cumulative experience and global networks, which are not noticeable if one goes to a typical Armenian church on a Sunday morning. These are the ingredients Armenia is after and which it wants to tap. The problem is that this is a treasure chest that can only be opened through a set of policies that provides Diasporans with concrete incentives to participate in Armenia’s development. Without these incentives, I don’t see how the Diaspora will develop its present engagement to higher levels. Hence my suggestion that Armenia should provide the Diaspora with means to participate effectively in the Armenian political process and institution building, and not necessarily in the decision-making process; even though Armenia’s foreign policy was and still is led by personalities largely supported and well-regarded by the Diaspora. By participating in the political process, I mean Diasporan representatives sitting in the Parliament in some capacity, or competent Diasporans sitting on government consultative bodies, such as commissions to fight corruption or setting up a professional and non partisan public service. The Diaspora could also be entrusted to set up an independent body to monitor and report the validity of results of future elections. There are many other useful tasks the Diaspora could do if it was seriously asked as a means to effectively contribute to Armenia’s political and economic development. The Diaspora may not have the experience at first to undertake these tasks, but lack of experience is no excuse for not trying to do the best it can.

2. Does the Diaspora possess the capacity to do all of the latter? To answer this question one needs to make a distinction between community organizations situated at the level of host countries and full-fledged Diasporan organizations that represent several community organizations at once. Forcibly, such organizations would span across several host countries, such as the United States and Canada. Today, while there is appreciable traffic between Armenians living in different countries who collaborate on multiple projects and issues, there are no permanent consultative or coordinating bodies whose mission is to address the interests and needs of Armenian communities throughout the world. Conventional wisdom amongst Armenians is to keep their business low-key as there are obvious advantages to get the job done in the traditional and time-tested Armenian way. But there are also disadvantages in that it does not contribute to institution-building and it leaves a lot of Armenians out of the loop.

Therefore it is not surprising that the Diaspora is not ready to play any useful role at this moment, because it has no institutional and organizational transnational existence and because the opportunity to create that context was simply never attempted, despite the goodwill of influential Diasporans very keen in creating their self-styled personal Congresses. One would have wished that the initiative to build the Diaspora’s transnational institutions came from its own ranks. But unfortunately that did not happen thus far. So Armenia stepped in since it does face immediate and serious challenges even more so that it can use state means to establish some process to have access to the Diaspora’s resources.

So far Armenia organized three conferences and despite the huge enthusiasm generated by those venues, no permanent bodies came out if it. Everybody returned home to continue their daily Diasporan chores and we’re still wondering as to what really happened. The last conference looked like an academic symposium instead of being a true Assembly of Armenians (or more aptly Hayotz Hamazhoghov -- I’m sure Viken will correct my Western Armenian); which should be the equivalent of the General Estates where a nation takes stock of the issues it faces but also of its strength . It’s like drawing up an inventory of one’s capabilities and ultimately power so as to address major challenges. If at the fourth Armenia-Diaspora conference there is clear political will to conduct the proceedings in that way and with the clear intent of establishing permanent bodies to develop and implement major policies and programmes, then a huge step will be taken in the right direction as many capable and skilful Diasporans will in time step forward. It should remain a hope that the Dialogue Committee set up by Armenia’s Foreign Affairs will broach this issue and eventually adopt practical measures to reach out to many Diasporans.

3. Some have argued that the Diaspora is in such a sorry state when it comes to its own internal political processes that it would be arrogant on the Diaspora’s part to claim that it can “interfere” at will in Armenia’ internal affairs. First, I do not share the dire conclusions of the institutional state of Armenian communities. On the contrary it is hard not to fully recognize those who did contribute to the building of schools and churches to protect and nurture small islands of Armenia in distant lands. It is also hard to dismiss either all those who selflessly contributed to the genocide recognition campaigns or those who responded to the calls of Armenians in distress in 1988, 1991 and onwards, such as Charles Aznavour who had forgotten his roots until the earthquakes shook him up to his core. Many of the Diaspora’s efforts are those of unsung heroes of Armenian communities across the globe and whose histories have yet to be written. In short, let us not short change the enormous achievements of individual communities.

However the institutional weaknesses of community organizations --and there are many—we need to hang on to them at all costs. The only sure way that Armenian life in the Diaspora can flourish is to modernize these community organizations and to welcome back all those who have left it for good or those who among the younger generation do not see any interest in being part of it. I do not have readymade answers as to how that feat can be realized. But I do know that exceptional young Diasporans did not wait for that modernization to happen and therefore moved to discover the deepest dimensions of Armenia and hence of themselves. In this discovery, the hub is in Armenia but also in individual communities where there is need for more transparency and inclusiveness. Without really noticing, a new global Armenian identity is emerging where it will be difficult to draw a clear line between the Diaspora and Armenia. The contours of that identity remain quite hazy, but one way to find that out is to draw together individual communities spread across the globe in workable forums. I believe that mustering the Diaspora’s power in its own organizations or institutions with the full support of Armenia as its base represents one way of initiating and promoting this modernization.

However, we have to be realists and correctly evaluate the stage at which the Diaspora and Armenia are so as to move from that point onwards, slowly but surely. In many ways both are at same level of political development. Therefore they are called upon to work in tandem as the Diaspora will never disappear: it has proven it can survive and regroup even after the worst disaster. Nor will it dissolve in some big repatriation scheme.

Armenia has the ingredients to help the Diaspora to get its act together and the Diaspora has the ingredients to help Armenia even more effectively, provided that the Diaspora is given the opportunity to do so. Both sides have everything to gain if they can only identify what is to be done. This entails that they accept to work hard in making this happen. It’s not an easy task and it will take several generations.

I hope I answered to some of the questions which were raised.

State Dept. Holds Ottoman Officials Responsible for 'Mass Killings' By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The long-awaited full Senate confirmation of the new Ambassador to Armenia was finally brought to a close on August 1, after last minute concessions by the Bush Administration.

Hiding behind the excuse of a questionable presidential policy of not using the term Armenian Genocide, inept State Department officials completely mismanaged the whole process, starting from the unwarranted dismissal of Amb. John Evans from his post in Armenia, and ending up with multiple attempts to geta replacement confirmed by the Senate over a two year period.

Faced with a determined group of Senators who were ready to block the nomination of Marie Yovanovitch, as they had done earlier to Amb. Richard Hoagland, State Department officials were forced to rush a last minute letter on July29 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, admitting in so many words that Ottoman Turkey had effectively committed genocide against Armenians, without using that term.

In that letter, Matthew Reynolds, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, made two important clarifications and acknowledgments: 1. The purpose of the planned invitation of Turkish and Armenian archivists to Washington is to help them "protect the evidence of the past so that future generations will have the documentation of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians committed by Ottoman soldiers and other Ottoman officials in 1915." Mr. Reynolds further clarified that the State Department's aim is "not to open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events." On the basis of this clarification, it remains to be seen whether Turkey would agree to send its archivists to the United States in order to have them trained in preserving the Ottoman archives on the Armenian Genocide.

2. "The [Bush] Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenianswere conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes." Mr. Reynolds asserted that Amb. Yovanovitch "in no way sought to cast any doubt on historical facts."

The Turkish Daily News, reflecting serious Turkish concerns with the contents of State Department's unexpected letter, reported that "these two new points raised by Reynolds [were viewed] as a setback for Ankara. Particularly the point that the Americans see World War I-era events as fully documented realities is disturbing, and makes Washington's stated support for our proposal for the creation of a joint Armenian-Turkish history commission to probe the events totally irrelevant. If the events are fully known, there is no need for an investigation, the letter says, which is in contradiction with the officialU.S. policy."

Most members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, however, were pleased with the State Department's latest clarifications. Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) stated during the July 29 Committee meeting that he did not think that without the "sustained push" of Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) "the Administration would have come as far as they have" in acknowledging the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Sen. Biden thanked the Armenian American community for its dedicated efforts in this regard. The Armenian National Committee, working closely with key members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was instrumental in reaching a last minute arrangement that cleared the way for Senators not to block Amb. Yovanovitch's confirmation in return forthe United States distancing itself further from Turkish denialism.

Sen. Biden further told the Committee that during his recent trip to Ankara along with Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), he pressed Turkish officials: "When are you going to get real with this [genocide issue]?" He asserted that Turks "know what happened and they're trying to figure out how to deal with this."

Sen. Boxer, in her turn, told the Foreign Relations Committee on July 29 that she was voting against the nomination of Amb. Yovanovitch in order to make "a statement against the Bush Administration's failure to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923=80¦. There are a few issues on which weshould never waiver. And one of those is the issue of genocide." She also stated: "There is no need for further study or historical research. The facts are clear." Sen. Boxer concluded by saying that "because Amb. Yovanovitch can still notuse the word 'genocide,' I cannot vote for her nomination today."

Sen. Menendez also spoke at the Committee meeting: "It is a ridiculous game that this Administration asks our Ambassadors to play over the use of the word 'genocide.' And I was concerned about some of the responses that Amb. Yovanovitch wrote to some of our written questions=80¦."

Even though the Senators were dissatisfied with the Bush Administration's refusal to allow Amb. Yovanovitch to use the term genocide, they voted to confirm her on August 1, taking into account the insistent requests of the Armenian and American governments to have a U.S. Ambassador dispatched to Yerevan as soon as possible.

Armenian leaders had tried to be helpful in easing some of the roadblocks in the way of Amb. Yovanovitch's confirmation by the Senate. They probably believe that accommodating the United States on such matters would help strengthen their hand in countering their domestic opponents. However, Armenian officials should not be surprised if the new U.S. Ambassador makes critical comments about Armenia's domestic political situation, in keeping with her official duties.

Finally, we hope that after the November 4 elections, the next U.S. president would put an end to playing shameful word games with genocide terminology and allow Amb. Yovanovitch and other American officials to follow the admirable example set by Pres. Ronald Reagan back in 1981, when he issued a presidential proclamation that matter-of-factly mentioned the Armenian Genocide.

Turkey Overacts To The Upcoming Opening Of American Museum Of Armenian Genocide In Washington And Trying To Prevent It arminfo, 2008-08-05

ArmInfo. Turkey overacts to the upcoming opening of American Museum of Armenian Genocide in Washington and trying to prevent this event scheduled for 2010, Director of Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Hayk Demoyan told ArmInfo. 'I think such attempts will continue. But their number is growing which arouses concern. Official Ankara cannot but feel concern about the second Genocide Museum that will occur not far from the White House', he said.

He outlined the great attention of Turkey to his recent visit to the future building of the museum in Washington since it is already a real step for development of the future exposition of the museum. H. Demoyan mentioned that almost every year the Turkish Embassy in the USA exerts pressure of the USA demanding removal of materials on Armenian Genocide from the Holocaust Museum. However, the Museum honorably sustains the Turkish pressure and do not yield to these demands.

The museum building was acquired on the funds of famous philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian and Hovnanyan Family. Twenty countries have already recognized Armenian Genocide particularly, Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, low chamber of Italian Parliament, over 40 of the United States, the parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentine, Belgium, Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Canada House of Commons and Polish Seim, as well as a number of international organizations.

"Common Sense" May Win by By David Petrosyan, August 4, 2008
At the press conference organized on the occasion of the 100th days of President's assuming his post, Serzh Sargsyan answering journalists' questions about possible reaction of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to his invitation to visit the Armenia-Turkey elimination match of Football Championship, expressed the hope that common sense will win in the given situation.

The past two weeks demonstrate that indeed "common sense," in the Turkish political sense of that term, of Armenian-Turkish relations indeed won.

Indeed, by using the term "common sense" in the context of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and their consultants should have known that Ankara interprets that term in asbolutely another way.

We will consider the situation being formed in the South Caucasus region from point of view of Ankara:

i) the influence of its main geopolitical opponent in the region, Russia, has significantly weakened. Moscow has withdrawn its troops from Georgia, where they had been more than 200 years,

- ii) the main geoeconomic project, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline connecting Turkey with its strategic ally Azerbaijan functions successfully,

- iii) construction of the Kars-Akhalkalak-Tbilisi-Baku main line started, which under already existing Kars-Gyumri main line, will bypass Armenia, the last ally of Russia in the region,

- iv) construction of the Kars-Akhalkalak-Tbilisi-Baku main line, dependence of Georgia on Azeri gas, as well as the single-vector policy of Tbilisi strengthened the military-political alliance of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Ankara together with its western partners controls Baku-Batumi strategically important line in the region,

- v) Ankara modernized the military aerodrome in Marneuli, bringing it in line with NATO standards and if necessary, according to an agreement with the Georgian authorities, it can use that aerodrome for its own purposes,

- vi) part of the officer staff of Georgia and Azerbaijan's armed forces study at higher educational institutions of Turkey,

- vii) Turkish policy in European direction, though with some problems, advances. Brussels, for the present, does not make strict demands to Ankara either on the issue of recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the years of World War I or on the issue of opening the Armenian-Turkish land border,

- viii) the policy of Ankara had some problems with the United States last autumn, when it was trying to get by bargaining the right to deliver blows to the camps of Kurdistan Workers Party in Iraq. The "Armenian map" at that time was apparently used by Washington for exerting pressure upon Turkey, but it resulted in Ankara's achieving a disposition beneficial for itself.

Under the formed situation it is obvious that the problem of normalization of relations with Armenia is not PRIMARY on the foreign political agenda of Ankara. Turkey quite successfully solves problems of expanding its influence in the region "without glancing back" at not normalized Armenian-Turkish relations. At that, Ankara successfully patronizes its strategic ally Azerbaijan and very consistently protects its interests.

Taking into consideration all above mentioned, a natural question emerges: why should Ankara have responded to the appeals of Serzh Sargsyan from Moscow, which were also voiced in the Wall Street Journal later?

An interest in normalization of relations was expressed in words, with tbe diplomatic grace peculiar to Turks, while in practice Abdullah Gul made a trip to the uninhabited medieval capital of Armenian Bagratuni kings, Ani, but sent no positive signal addressed to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan or Armenian people. Moreover, Gul's message was rather correct, but clear-cut in the respect that in essence, Armenia was given directions how to act to achieve favor of its western neighbor: "First of all, I want to say that I expressed gratitude to the President for the invitation. We have made no decision yet. Our policy is open. We want to establish good-neighborly relations. We want to establish good cooperation with all countries of the regio. There are some problems, these problems need to be liquidated. We want to see this region stable and peaceful. All regional countries could join regional programs if they recognized the territorial integrity of their neighbors."

That means Armenians should give up: any, even a compromise solution to the problem of Nagorno Karabakh status, and their demands connected with recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

Being in Ani, near the Surb Prkich (Saint Saviour) half-ruined church of XI century, A. Gul said a few phrases, which only emphasized all above mentioned: "Ani is very important for us. Because Turks came to Anatolia through this place."

We suppose that most probably, A. Gul will not arrive in Yerevan for the Armenia-Turkey football match and in general, Ankara will be reserved enough in normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations and opening of Armenian-Turkish border. At present, it is more necessary for Armenia than for Turkey. For a dialogue between the countries indeed to take place and to have a chance to be efficient, it should be prepared for a long time and patiently, that is, a thing should be done, which Armenian and Turkish diplomacies had not done rather long. Rather on the contrary, at least over the past ten years Armenian diplomacy in the whole world and at all levels carried on policy contributing to recognition of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey and Turkish diplomacy, on the contrary, policy of denying that fact. Besides, official Yerevan and part of the Diaspora carried out policy of ostracism towards Armenian participants of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission. Naturally, all that did not contribute to formation of atmosphere of confidence and dialogue between the sides.

Long and systematic work is needed for preparing success of the initiative President S. Sargsyan spoke about. No such work has been done. More seriousness and solidity is needed for that, which today, unfortunately, not only the Armenian Foreign Ministry, but also the presidential residence lacks. Finally we should try to get formation of such a situation when Turkey would be interested in establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries without preconditions, as well as to stimulate Ankara's interest in conducting negotiations on opening of the Armenian-Turkish land border.

Besides, we would recommend official Yerevan to give up football or by-football terminology/rhetoric and not to use such expressions as: "...the ball is in Turkey's court." Otherwise one forms an impression that official Yerevan could fail to remember the necessity of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations if the two countries' national teams did not get in the same elimination group of World Football Championship 2010.

And for the present, we suppose that "common sense" from Turkish point of view will indeed win and Abdullah Gul will hardly arrive in Yerevan. Certainly, the Turkish side will not say "no," it would be too non-diplomatic and too far from Turkish style of action. Most likely, Ankara will diplomatically plead its being busy, A. Gul's participation in some other important event, etc.

It is also important to remember that the Justice and Development ruling Turkish party, the leaders of which are A. Gul and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, successfully passed by a number of home political reefs, and the Constitutional Court turned down the lawsuit on ban to the party represented by country's Prosecutor General Mustafa Oziurek. Therefore, a number of preconditions have been created to reduce home political tension in Turkey. In difference to Turkey, S. Sargsian's political positions are not so stable, and Ankara knows it well. It understands that they deal with a weak President. Of course, Ankara may make use of S. Sargsyan's weakness and thrust upon him solution of a number of problems in the light beneficial for Turkey, or it may wait a little more and see what result the home political struggle in Armenia will have.

A question emerges: is the political initiative announced by S. Sargsyan on June 23 in Moscow of no use? It is not so, we are not so gloating. For instance, it is very positive that by autumn, by the Armenia-Turkey football match, at last the reconstruction of the largest stadium of the country, Hrazdan, will be at last completed, and now 55 thousand spectators can visit matches of country's football national team, which is 3.5-fold more as compared with Vazgen Sargsian Republican Stadium. Is it bad?

"The Noyan Tapan Highlights" N30, August, 2008 --David Petrosyan is a political analyst in Yerevan, Armenia, and writes a regular weekly column in Noyan Tapan. He also provides weekly analyses to the Armenian service of SBS Radio in Australia, and written for a variety of Russian language political newspapers.

Interview With Gibrahayer E-Magazine Editor Simon Aynedjian
Azad-Hye, Dubai, 24 February 2006: Simon Aynedjian was born in Nicosia, Cyprus in 1959. He attended elementary education at the Ouzounian-Melikian School (present-day Nareg) and The English School in Nicosia. He studied Communications and International Relations in the US and continued his graduate studies at Intercollege and through correspondence. He is a Director in his family owned clothing manufacturing factory and in the last 3 years he has joined a leading Logistics company and holds the position of Executive Director of a major IT company in Cyprus - GAP Vassilopoulos E-Media Ltd, which is one of the companies within the GAP Group.

He is married to Louise Kaprielian and they have two daughters and a son. He has been active in the Armenian community for three decades.

He is also active in tennis. He is the over 35 and over 45 champion of Cyprus. In 2005 he won international championships on the world tennis tour and finished 2005 in the top 100 on the world senior tour.

Below is an interview with Simon Aynedjian specially for the readers of our webiste:

Could you tell us a few words about the Armenian community in Cyprus? The Armenian community in Cyprus is not a newly formed one. It has a continuous history of almost one thousand years. However, the biggest wave of Armenians arrived in Cyprus after the Adana massacres (1909) and continued up to the time of the Genocide (1915-1921). The survivors of these two tragic historical events have created the Armenian community as we know it today numbering around 3,000. There have been population fluctuations though.

In the 1940s and 50s we witnessed the repatriation of hundreds of Armenians from Cyprus to Armenia. When the EOKA struggle and the inter-communal disturbances began in Cyprus in the 1950s another wave of movement, this time to the United Kingdom further reduced the number of Armenians. After the Turkish invasion in 1974, a fresh wave of emigration took place chiefly to the UK, further decreasing the numbers.

The Lebanese Civil War (1975-1991) and the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979) resulted in an influx of temporary immigrants in Cyprus. They considered Cyprus as a transit station to the West, although some of them settled down in Cyprus and others returned back to their respective countries.

The latest wave comes from Armenia itself, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The economic difficulties in Armenia caused many to find shelter in countries providing employment and prosperity. However it should be noted that the majority of these Armenians were actually the children and grandchildren of those who had emigrated to Armenia during the repatriation period of 1940s and 50s.

In numeric terms the number of Armenians in Cyprus are about 3,000, around one third of them consist of Armenians who have come to Cyprus during the last 15 years. Unfortunately, this portion of Armenians is not yet fully integrated in the Armenian community, except for the elementary school where their children attend. I believe that this pattern is more or less true in all diaspora communities.

How about the political structures of the community? The present political structure of the community could be characterized by the presence of two factions: Dashnaktsoutiun (ARS, AYMA/HMEM, Hamazkayin, AYF, ANC) and AGBU "affiliated" organisations (Ramgavars, Henchaks, Communists) pretty much in the same structure as all Armenian diaspora communities globally.

Recent elections (October 2005) for the post of the community Representative in the House of Representatives of Cyprus resulted in the election of Dr. Vahakn Atamyan (AGBU "affiliated") with a margin of 52% while Dr. Antranig Ashdjian (Dashnaktsoutiun) received 44 % and Parsegh Zartarian (independent) 4%.

And the life of Armenians in Cyprus? The Armenian community of Cyprus is fully Armenian spoken. The average Armenian Cypriot speaks also fluent Greek and English. The older generation knows also Turkish to a certain degree. Before the 1974 invasion Armenians lived with the Turkish Cypriots in harmony. The invasion resulted in loss of considerable Armenian properties, which are now under Turkish occupation such as the Armenian monastery of Sourp Magar in Kyrenia, the Ganchvor Church in Famagusta and the Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, Armenian elementary schools and Armenian Prelature in Nicosia.

The community has been active for the last three decades in supporting the Armenian Cause in all possible ways, especially propagating awareness about the Genocide in Cypriot political and media circles.

The community has sent large amounts of humanitarian and other assistance to Artsakh. In this effort which continues presently through the programs of the Armenian Relief Society Sossee Cyprus Chapter, the community always has the moral and financial support of Greek Cypriots. Currently, through a program administered by The Armenian Relief Society (HOM), some 400 orphans in Armenia and Artsakh are sponsored by Armenian and Greek Cypriots.

Relations between Armenia and Cyprus are cordial and at a very high level, with frequent visits of state delegations. The State Dance Ensemble of Armenia has recently performed in Larnaca and Nicosia.

A major setback in the life of our community has been the closure of Melkonian Education Istitute, and I believe that the full extent of the damage will surface in years to come. In the mean time I feel it is important that all parties - the AGBU and local administrators -involved in the scandal of the closure of the school account for their role in it.

Thousands of Armenians worldwide, especially those who use the Internet and electronic media, have been receiving Gibrahayer e-magazine. Could you give us an idea about this extremely popular project? Gibrahayer is seven years old. It started with a list of 50 subscribers and has reached 5,000 subscribers globally (only 15% of the subscribers are from Cyprus). Cyprus is in the center of civilizations and conflicts. It is a politically vibrant area where Armenians live and prosper. The political, social and religious mix no doubt creates an active atmosphere and the need to communicate both at a community level and globally at Diaspora level and build bridges of communication between Cyprus, the diaspora and our homeland.

We feel we are an integral part of Cyprus. It is important that Armenians in Cyprus live and prosper. We feel that we have to stay here to safeguard whatever belongs to us: our church, our schools, our history, our homes, having in mind our new role of aiding economically and politically our newly formed Republic of Armenia and newly liberated lands in Artsakh and supporting our national cause. I am convinced that the Armenians of Cyprus will also become an example of co-existence with the Turkish Cypriots and as an extension will pave the road for a new Armeno-Turkish understanding.

The role of Gibrahayer therefore is to form a kind of bridge. You will be amazed - as you already know yourself as a subscriber of our e-magazine - by the articles received, letters as well as the discussions that have been taking place lately by our readers. A number of our subscribers have re-discovered each other through the pages of Gibrahayer.

Old friends, past students of the Melkonian Educational Institute, emigrants, people who have left Cyprus a long time ago and now live in other countries, have found each other and have renewed their friendships.

Where does the funding of Gibrahayer e-magazine come from? The subscription of the e-magazine is free and will remain as such. It is neither funded by any organization nor does it accept financial assistance from anyone. We sometimes urge readers to donate sums for noble causes, our latest appeal being the assistance to a young Armenian tennis star, 15 year old Zarouhi Haroutyunyan from Armenia who currently practises with the Cyprus National Tennis Team. During the period that our readers have funded her tours, she has climbed an incredible 700 positions on the ITF Tour from 1245 to 575.

Is there any political line adopted by Gibrahayer e-magazine? Any opinion or any event, even the simplest of statements, contains a degree of political attributes. Gibrahayer therefore has its political direction and a unique way that it views society and politics. This is visible in the way it presents news and the choice of articles and editorials.

Personally I have been involved in Dashnaktsoutiun and its affiliated organizations. That does not mean that I always adopt the "party line" as it comes.

We need to keep under check our organisations and parties and this is done through democratic institutions and procedures as well as transparency. In the case of party members and people involved in community affairs it is achieved through increased participation in our community structures and decision making processes.

I would like to think that Gibrahayer is also a tool that besides the information gateway it provides to its readers, it also invites them to think and act on the way we live our life in our communities and the way we contribute to our homelands.

Reporters at “Agos” Continue to Work Under Threat by Edik Baghdasaryan August 04, 2008
An interview with Rober Koptash, Agos Political Commentator

Rober’s parents hail from the town of Sepastia. When Rober was 12 years-old the family moved to Istanbul. The family name is “Shirvanian” which they were forced to change in 1934 when the Turkish government passed a law requiring Armenians to adopt Turkish surnames. Turkish was the language spoken at home. Rober began to learn Armenian at the age of seven at school. He writes articles for Agos in Turkish.

For the past ten years, he has also been working at Aras Publishing where he edits books translated from Armenian into Turkish. Presently, Robert is defending his doctoral thesis at one of Istanbul’s leading universities and conducts research into 19th century Ottoman archives. Robert states, “This was impossible a mere twenty years ago since the archives were closed. Now they’re open and they give me whatever I want. I haven’t encountered any problems to date.”

Q - How do you view the state of relations between Armenia and Turkey? Armenians adhere to two extreme positions; one group wants to normalize relations while the other is dead-set against such an overture, including the opening of the border.

A - While I would like to see the establishment of cordial relations, it is not something easily achieved. Let me provide an explanation of such relations on two different levels. On the first level are relations between governments and on the second, between peoples. Relations between the two governments are dependent on Moscow, Washington and various other geo-political factors. This issue could be resolved by taking a single step, in the course of one day, or it could take 20-25 years to iron-out. It’s a different matter when the issue is in regards to relations between the two peoples. Here, the potential for establishing relations is much greater. There are already regular flights between Istanbul and Yerevan. Cultural bridges can be created and we see such occurrences periodically. Such relations must be commenced now. If we wait for the governments themselves to resolve their issues, such work will be harder in the future. We can build these bridges as citizens, as individuals, to establish contacts as small groups. Steps in this direction have slowly begun and they must serve to further develop such relations. Theatrical troupes from Armenia already travel here to perform. Armenians from the ROA come here to work and Turkish journalists make working trips to Yerevan. Twenty years ago all this would have been unheard of, but today, it is a possibility.

Q - How would you explain why the murder of Hrant Dink moved so many in Turkey to take to the streets, in an outpouring show of sympathy?

A - Hrant always spoke of peace and the peaceful resolution of the issues involved. He never uttered a disparaging word about anyone. He was seen as a man of peace and this is one of the reasons for the support he engendered. Secondly, Hrant was the only Armenian a large segment of Turks actually knew. They had no other Armenian acquaintances. He was the only Armenian they had any contact with, the only Armenian to appear on Turkish TV speaking about political matters. Thus, when Hrant was killed, these Turks lost the one and only Armenian they knew. For these Turks, historical issues such as the Genocide, the fate befallen the Armenians, were open questions that their government refused to accept. These people viewed Hrant as a means to resolving these issues. TV stations all at once started to show pictures of Hrant and broadcast his statements. In the streets, what you saw was a more democratic-minded; left of center, mass of individuals that were more liberal thinking. Personally, I found this phenomenon to be quite surprising.

Q - What themes do you write about in the pages of Agos?

A - Mostly articles related to Turkish internal political issues but which also touch upon Armenians. In other words, I attempt, by writing in Turkish, to give voice to our issues and the repression we face as Armenians to the society at large and to counter the dominant viewpoints in circulation. This was the approach taken by Hrant Dink and what Agos continues today. Not everyone writes about the Genocide but I try to do so whenever possible. Naturally, there are pressures exerted in this regard but I always think not to do so will leave us empty-handed. Let us at least write about such issues now and let the chips fall where they may afterwards.

Q - What are the pressures that are brought to bear?

A - In reality, such pressures are not targeted at only Armenians. Anyone in Turkey who openly writes something against the state constantly faces the threat of Article 301 and other such statutes. Thus, it is more a matter of legally sponsored repression than any type of censorship. If, for example, you were to write an article stating that as a result of what was done in Turkey a guy named Zohrab was killed, more likely than not, you’d receive a letter in the mail a few days after the article appeared calling you a liar and that you will meet the same fate as Zohrab. We have received some such hate mail and give it little weight. They are only letters and such things are commonplace in Turkey.

Q - Do you report such things to the police?

A - Sometimes, such hate mail is addressed to the Agos offices and other times to the homes of Agos staff members. If the mail is sent directly to Agos, the police immediately follow up on it. On two occasions, I received such threats in letters addressed to my home but I never reported the matter to the police. Why, because I really did not believe that the police would actually investigate the matter if I did.

Q - Do Turkish TV stations invite you to participate in debates or other broadcast forums?

A - I have been asked to participate in a few university lectures and I have attended such events. I have turned down the few requests I’ve received to appear on TV. I have refused such requests after Hrant’s murder. Appearing on TV became a bit scary. Your face becomes known and since I get around on public transportation all the time things could get a bit dangerous. Hrant’s face was well known to the public at large since he was the only Armenian who spoke openly on behalf of the community. When TV stations ask me to appear on camera I tell them that it’s risky and look what happened to Hrant. They understand my predicament.

Q - Do you have any Turkish friends?

A - Yes, I am on good terms with many but this fact doesn’t present a true picture of Turks in general in this country. You must remember that the circle in which we work is quite limited and includes only the more open-minded ones, those that have contact with Armenians and who understand our issues. Naturally, we encounter more difficulties once outside this circle and when we visit other cities. We have Turkish reporters and intellectuals working at Agos who have always expressed a willingness to assist us. When a certain issue is raised in the pages of Agos these Turkish journalists report it to their Turkish papers saying, look what the Armenians are writing about. In this way, these issues get a much wider audience. We seem to work well together. However, there are reporters that refuse to a look at Agos, who view it as an enemy paper.

Q - Does Agos write about the Genocide?

A - Yes, but we try not to use that word. Rather we use the term “Metz Yeghern” (Great Atrocity). It’s a term that I use myself, whether spelt out in Latin letters or in Armenian. The pressures that Hrant faced were because he used the taboo word. You can describe what happened but if you employ the term Genocide you can be taken to court. We have had to create a new set of terminology to describe historical reality; it is something we’ve grown accustomed to. For instance, people understand what we mean when we use the term “Great Exile”. It is not only a matter of the term Genocide. For example, you cannot write that it was the Ottoman Army or Ottoman soldiers, or Turkish soldiers that did such things. You can only use the word “army” or “soldier”, without any qualifiers. When the anniversary of April 24th approaches, we write about the Armenian writers who were rounded up and killed, their lives and how they met their tragic fates. We do not have to use the term “genocide” but people clearly understand the message and this is important.

Q - Do you face any danger just by giving this interview?

A - I would say no because I have covered these issues already. However, people are fearful here just because being Armenian is risky in and of itself. My mother implores me, “Rober, for the love of God, doesn’t write such things.” However, my mother is a different person and I am different as well. I cannot see living any other way. If I do not write and speak out, well, let’s just say, I could not live that way.

How To Build Relations With The Diaspora?
At the very first stage of the relationship with the Diaspora, the Armenian authorities adopted not only new approaches corresponding to the challenges of the 21st century but also started the process of establishing relevant institutions for putting their plans into practice.

Let’s recall the main stages of the activities carried out in the sphere during the past years.

It is well-known that since Armenia’s gaining independence, the relationship with the Armenian colonies of the Diaspora has passed two principal stages of development, the first stage being the period preceding the 1998 shift of power and the second stage being the period between 1998 and 2008. And although these two stages drastically differed from each other in terms of the policy trend towards the Diaspora, such differences were of political-ideological rather than practical-organizational nature.

During the tenure of L. Ter-Petrosyan, the Armenia-Diaspora relations acquired an extremely ideologized character, becoming one of the “spheres” of the political struggle inside the country. The Diaspora was artificially divided into two camps, and this created a serious threat in terms of restoring the realities of the Soviet-time Armenia.

After the 1998 shift of power, it became possible to overcome this harmful phenomenon as a result of advancing the formula of cooperation among Armenia Artsakh and the Diaspora. However, the right political-ideological starting point in the relationship with the Diaspora was not yet enough for adopting and applying concrete and clear-cut procedures of implementation.

Following the 1998 shift of power, the political component increasingly developed in the Armenia-Diaspora relations, the common strategic objective of achieving the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide being the underlying thesis of such policy. As regards the clear-cut procedures of cooperation, they continued to remain on the level of the economic assistance and the involvement of the medium-scale investments of the Diaspora.

The fact that the Armenian authorities are seriously inclined to establish a new level cooperation with the Diaspora became obvious due to the initiative of setting up a separate structure dealing with the issues of the Diaspora and granting it the status of a ministry. This kind of ministries exist in many countries, so having a Diaspora community twice exceeding its population, our country could no longer fall behind other states.

This means that the Armenian authorities are no longer satisfied with organizing pan-Armenian conferences or conducting fundraising marathons, and they view the relationship with the Diaspora as a day-to-day painstaking activity.

From now on, any educational, cultural and other problem of any colony of the Diaspora will become a matter of concern for the Republic of Armenia as well. And each of our compatriots will feel that he/she is not alone in his/her everyday work aimed at the preservation of the Armenian nation and enjoys the support of the Armenian statehood.

The most important component in the process of upgrading the relationship with the Diaspora from the political-ideological level to the plane of day-to-day practical work is certainly the sphere of economic cooperation. And as shown by the experience of the past years, there is no progress in this sphere. With their huge capital, the representatives of the Armenian Diaspora have a strictly cautious attitude towards making serious investments in our country. They prefer to satisfy themselves with medium-scale programs which cannot produce a serious negative impact even if they suffer a failure.

Such phenomenon results from psychological complexes which developed in the course of several years. In order to overcome them it is necessary not only to introduce serious changes in the tax and customs policy implemented in the country but also form an absolutely new atmosphere of mutual trust. In this respect, the new authorities managed, in the course of their few months’ activity, to do more than did their predecessors in the whole period after Armenia’s gaining independence.

As a result of President Serge Sargsyan’s meeting with the prominent Armenian businessmen during his visit to Moscow and after their visit to Armenia, a radical turning point was observed in the dispositions of the Armenian businessmen residing in Russia. A couple of weeks later, the amount of the investments promised by the Armenian businessmen reached the borderline of 700 million US Dollars.

This is an unprecedented phenomenon in the whole history of the Armenia-Diaspora relations. The businessmen of the Diaspora have started to demonstrate trust in the reforms implemented in our country and link their future entrepreneurial activity to their motherland.

In such circumstances, the interests of foreign countries’ non-Armenian capital will inevitably increase, since the companies (mainly founded by the Armenians residing in Russia) which are going to enter our country will bring others after them.

Thus, all the plans that were discussed during the successive conferences devoted to the Armenia-Diaspora relations for around 1.5 decade are being put into practice by the Armenian authorities from the very first months of their activities.
Armen Tsatouryan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, July 31, 2008, Armenia

Armenia Will Never Stop Pressing For Armenian Genocide International Recognition PanARMENIAN.Net , 30.07.2008
Armenia never stopped and will never stop pressing for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, RA Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told a news conference in Yerevan today.

"We just want normal relations with our neighbors and stand for normalization of relations with Turkey without preconditions. President Sargsyan's invitation is a good will gesture which never means that we question the fact of Genocide. We will not make concessions in recognition of Turkey's borders or in the Nagorno Karabakh issue either. Now, we are waiting for Turkey's response," the Minister said.

Turkey severed its ties and closed its border with Armenia in 1993 as a token of solidarity with Azerbaijan in the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

Ankara also says the normalization of ties depends on Armenia's formal recognition of the current borders with Turkey and changing its policy of calling for worldwide recognition of the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

In a sign of readiness to normalize ties, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan proposed "a fresh start" in relations with Turkey in an article published in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

Sargsyan also invited Gul to a World Cup qualifying match between Armenian and Turkish teams on September 6.

Denial Of Genocide Never To Be Encouraged Gevorg Harutyunyan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, July 31, 2008, Armenia

Before his visit to Moscow aimed at the meeting with OSCE Minsk Group co-Chairmen and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan convened a press conference yesterday.

"These meetings will be about Karabakh conflict and are organized by the efforts of the three co-Chairmen. The proposals made in Madrid will be discussed. Serge Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev confirmed that the negotiations will continue on the bases of the before mentioned proposals."

Estimating the 100 days of his tenure the Foreign Minister considered it both noteworthy and normal, that he has made his first official visit to Artsakh. "We give special importance to Karabakh issue. We usually have different discussions with NKR authorities regarding this issue. We have already had three meetings with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, before the meetings between Serge Sargsyan and Ilham Aliev in Strasburg and St.

Petersburg. The fourth meeting will be on August 1 in Moscow. I will also meet with OSCE Minsk Group co-Chairmen and we will do our best to achieve the settlement of Karabakh conflict."

Touching upon Serge Sargsyan's recent visit to Ukraine the leader of the Foreign Administration considered it completely successful. "The meeting between the two Presidents last more than two hours. The discussions were rather meaningful, constructive and in the atmosphere of mutual trust. The possibilities of bilateral cooperation in different spheres, as well as different regional and international issues were discussed.

We hope this meeting will open a new page in Armenian-Ukrainian relations.

The Ukrainian President reconfirmed his invitation for Serge Sargsyan to visit their country.

Serge Sargsyan's and the Catholicos' unprecedented participation in the anointment ceremony of the Saint Cross church that has been built 650 years back and hasn't been reconstructed since then, was really exciting.

Edward Nalbandyan refuted the rumors that have appeared in the press, according to which he has agreed with the statement made by Daniel Freed saying that the presidential elections in Armenia have been "significantly breached" and that by his instruction Armenian Ambassador to Austria met with OSCE Chairman Luis Maria de Puichi in the airport in Vienna.

"Freed didn't make similar statement during his visit in the USA. We had a very constructive meeting with him and other US officials. But we didn't have any concrete meeting in Vienna. Simply according to the regulation the Ambassadors of our country must meet and see off those Armenian guests who travel by transit tours. Maybe de Puichi gave you those details but I don't have similar information."

0AAs for the speculations regarding the proposal made by Turkey to set up a committee of historians: "If you are concerned that a certain committee is going to discuss the issue of the Genocide, than I must repeat a very simple truth, to make it clear once and forever: Armenian authorities will never take a step that will encourage the denial of the Genocide. Similar thing can't happen.

What we really want is to have regular relations with our neighbor. There are 2 or 3 closed borders in the whole world and we are trying to open one of them. We must establish diplomatic relations without any pre-conditions.

Our initiations had a very positive response in the world.

Hopefully Turkish President will accept the invitation to visit Armenia on September 6. This will give an opportunity to discuss all the issues of bilateral concern and regulate all the inter-state relations. The conversation is not about concessions.

Edward Nalbandyan didn't agree with the statement that Armenia pursues "feeble" policy towards Georgia: "Whom do they want to bite with those teeth? We attach great importance to establishing friendly relations with Georgia. We are going to take all the possible measures to consolidate relations with Georgia. We never ignore any issue regarding Georgian-Armenians. We hope all the issues will be solved. I believe there is no unsolvable issue between Armenia and Georgia because our steps derive from the interests of the both countries."

Turkey's Denialist Cohorts in Washington Fuel - Armenian-American Activism in November Elections
By Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher/Managing Editor, USA Armenian Life Magazine

While Armenian Americans deserve much credit for their political victories during the last few years, they must remember that there still are many more "miles to go and promises to keep!"

One of these promises is to keep the victorious journey going until justice is served for Armenians.

One of these victories is the Oct. 2007 passage of Armenian Genocide Resolution in the House Foreign Relations Committee. Armenian American activists led an epic political battle à la "David vs. Goliath" and came out triumphant.

The mere fact that the Bush administration, Turkey's high-paid lobbyists, pro-denialist members of U.S. Congress, and eight former and current Secretaries of State joined forces against the HR106 and were badly defeated is very telling about the rising power of the Armenian American lobby and the inevitability of its further growth.

This Nov 4, once again Armenian-Americans will remember that "All politics are local." They will look no further than the congressional districts where denialist anti-Armenian candidates are vying for congressional seats.

The voters will dictate the fate of both incumbent and new candidates for U.S. Congress and other important high offices, including that of the President, based on the merits of a candidate.

In my opinion, in this election year, Armenian-American voters and political contributors have two fundamental missions to accomplish:

* Support those candidates that demonstrate unwavering support for the Armenian Genocide resolution and other issues of concern for the Armenian American community; and * Unseat or block the re-election or the election of those who have shown opposition to the Armenian Genocide resolution and other important Armenian-American issues.

Two distinguished Armenian-American activists ? Aram Hamparian, the Executive Director of Armenian National Committee of America, and Harut Sassounian, the Publisher of the California Courier respectively have released an open letter to Armenian Americans and an editorial commentary.

Hamparian wrote on July 16: "On one side is Tennessee Cong. Steve Cohen, who's fought the Armenian Genocide Resolution tooth and nail, even held a press conference against this legislation. Just last week, in his local paper, he bragged that among his 'biggest accomplishments' was unraveling a 'resolution to condemn Turkey for the Armenian Genocide almost a century ago.' On the other hand, you have Nikki Tinker, a principled community leader who has pledged to fight for Armenian Genocide recognition, to help Nagorno Karabagh, and support Armenia. She has received broad backing, including strong support from the African American community that makes up roughly 60% of the District, and nearly 80% of its Democratic Party."

In a July 31 commentary titled "November Election: Time to Reward Friends and Punish Foes in Congress," Sassounian wrote that while Armenian-Americans should be commended for the Oct. '07 important achievement, "they seem to have overlooked that 21 members of Congress had gone on record siding with the denialist regime in Ankara, opposing a resolution on the Armenian Genocide. Just imagine what would have happened if that resolution had been about the Holocaust and even a single member of Congress had voted against it! Justifiably, there would have been nationwide condemnation of that legislator, who would have been either pressured to resign or defeated during the next election! It is simply amazing that 21 members of Congress would vote against the Armenian Genocide and not a whimper is heard from the Armenian community and no action is taken against them. Nevertheless, Armenian-Americans can still act against these legislators by contributing funds and voting for candidates challenging them in the November 4 election." See related lists of candidates in Sassounian's column following this article.

As I see it, there are notorious neo-cons in both Republican and Democratic parties and they need to be rooted out. These liars and charlatans should be reminded that they can not escape the accountability demanded by the electorate; and that a heavy price must be paid for their decadent denialism.

Good deed doers deserve meritorious recognition and support. And misdeed doers deserve demerit slips by way of election defeats. Unseating these unworthy congressional incumbents would not only reduce the number of anti-Armenian opportunists from political power but would also effectively block the opponents of the Armenian Cause from rising to senior positions in various committees and sub-committees of the U.S. Congress.

Aztag Daily: An Important Communication Bridge with the Armenian World, An Interview with Editor Shahan Kandaharian, By Appo Jabarian

During the many decades that I have lived as an Armenian-Lebanese in the Diaspora, also known as "al-mahjar" in Arabic, never have I broken my ties with my birthplace and especially the Armenian-Lebanese community.

Lebanon, and many countries of the Middle East -- and especially those in the vicinity of the genocidal killing fields in Turkish-occupied Western Armenia -- Syria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine (Israel did not exist back then) and Egypt, have a special place in the hearts of Armenians worldwide. It is with deep sense of gratitude that I, along with succeeding Armenian generations, remember that these noble states sheltered our orphaned grandparents escaping from the genocide of 1915-1923.

For me as an Armenian-Lebanese, one of the ways to keep in touch with Lebanon has been the Armenian-Lebanese media mainly consisting of ARF Dashanktsutiune's Aztag daily, Hunchakian party's Ararad weekly, and Ramgavar party's Zartonk bi-weekly. In recent years, I have visited the editorial offices of the party organs and others and had very interesting and educating conversations with their respective editors.

During my and my siblings' (Ani, Vatche and Sako) formative years in the 1960's and the '70's, our household in Nor Sis (New Sis, named after the capital of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia), in the Armenian municipality of Bourj Hamoud, was continuously enriched by various Armenian publications and Aztag was certainly one of them. To me, Armenian publications and equally respectable Lebanese dailies such as the Arabic-language Al-Nahar and Al-Anwar, and the French-language L'Orient-Le Jour and Le Soir, and monthly La Revue Du Liban were a home within a home.

Each publication has a unique history; some of them spanning over several decades. Recently Aztag daily turned 80 years old. Each of the passing 80 years brought technological and publishing challenges that were successfully overcome by the staff of Aztag under the watchful eyes of thousands of avid readers in Lebanon and around the world.

Despite navigating through eight continuous and sometimes arduous decades, this Armenian daily does not show any signs of weakening. It's the opposite. It has become very relevant for Armenians in the Diaspora.

In order to present our readers with a glimpse of day-to-day life at Aztag, I conducted an interview with Shahan Kandaharian, a young and creative Editor.

The following is the text of the conversation:

JABARIAN: How do you explain the eighty year-long existence and prosperity of Aztag despite the crises experienced by Lebanon and the Armenian-Lebanese community?

KANDAHARIAN: Talking about Aztag Daily's noticeable progress requires subjective narration, which I would like to avoid. Nevertheless it would be fair to make notes in an objective fashion or to discuss the achieved plans. I'm convinced that one should not be satisfied; there is still more to be accomplished; and follow-up efforts still need to be carried out. The founders and the succeeding directors all have made invaluable contributions. It is thanks to them that the daily continues to breathe and to thrive since its inception 80 years ago.

I think, working in synch with contemporary demands, in terms of both content and style, is the main prerequisite for ensuring the daily's continuity. You know firsthand, as to how extensive an effort must be made on a daily basis in order to carry out uninterrupted daily publishing throughout the past decades. And in the case of Armenian media, one can envision the level of devotion and commitment by my predecessors.

I'd like to add that it is impossible to imagine the daily's survival without the ideological power which backs the daily: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The Dashaktsutiune's multi-faceted contributions are the principle source of the daily's vibrant performance.

We should also recognize the decades-long beautiful tradition of group cooperation that has been the prevailing modus operandi among all the departments - editorial, management, technical, printing and distribution.

It is the entirety of all these elements that in the face of crises, difficulties and tribulations experienced by Lebanon and the Armenian-Lebanese community enabled the daily to be in a leading position in the Armenian media.

JABARIAN: How do you rate the level of effectiveness of the Armenian-Lebanese media in general and Aztag specifically?

KANDAHARIAN: I can only venture to talk about Aztag. The size of the readership of our electronic medium/website or the number of the visitors surpasses the number of the readers of the print version. To be fair, the Armenian-Lebanese expatriates' existence outside of Lebanon plays an important role in making Aztag Daily's website so popular.

In a very short period after the website was launched that we realized that the longing by Armenian Lebanese is an integral factor. In other words, Aztag Daily's website www.aztagdaily.com has become a bridge of communication for the Armenian-Lebanese and for that matter all Armenians who are interested in closely following developments in the community in Lebanon.

Our website has a multi-media section. An increasing number of readers visit the website in order to watch certain interviews or to read a particular news item, written in a concise style, about an event organized by a certain organization. Now we're in the planning stages for facilitating direct web casting of events, interviews, press conferences and round table discussions.

The website also facilitates the flow of news. The website's stability in timely dissemination of the news about the Lebanese political and security tribulations has become indispensable especially for those circles that continue to be deeply concerned about the welfare of their compatriots.

JABARIAN: For many, Aztag daily has become "a second school." Can you please elaborate?

KANDAHARIAN: Today, I wouldn't go that far in qualifying Aztag daily as being "a second school." For the preceding generations, I think a similar statement would have been appropriate based on their testimonies. But today, I don't come across similar testimony made by members of middle or younger generations. In terms of the crowded field of international media, Aztag Daily's primary function for the Armenian reader is to first and foremost be a means to follow Armenian community life and to evaluate the role played by the Armenian factor in the general political landscape of Lebanon.

JABARIAN: Is the electronic media a threat to the existence of the print media?

KANDAHARIAN: The World Wide Web and its facilitation of electronic media naturally is a revolution in the field of journalism. The print media's ability to disseminate news is slow. Today, the speed of dissemination by concerned parties of news regarding any event, taking place in any corner of the world, is enhanced by the technology of satellite transmission via websites.

When TV became popular, people started saying that the print media's role has become meaningless. When TV entered into peoples' homes some started questioning the importance of radio. When the web became popular and the electronic media proliferated, the question of the day became: "Has the print media become endangered?" The fact remains that today, the radio, print media with its varying formats, and TV are all working. I'm convinced that all the mass media - although different in format and style - will continue to function. The issue remains to be the challenge of adaptation to new conditions of speedy accuracy.

JABARIAN: Can you talk about the activities organized by Aztag Daily?

KANDAHARIAN: In addition to the ten-page daily, there is the task of maintaining the website in English language format and the flow of news. We also have the publication of the weekly supplement of Yerkir weekly in Mesrobian (classical) Armenian orthography; the children's "Bzdig M'uzdig" ("Little Mittle") publication that has been widely acclaimed and that serves the purpose of establishing a tie between the child and the print media from a very young age. The young children not only read the publication but also contribute to it. They present drawings in its pages. The editorial team and the auxiliary committee annually organize two competitions: the first in composition and the second in orthography. Around three hundred fifty Armenian students, representing all the schools in various parts of Lebanon, participate in these competitions.

The Aztag monthly mirrors the essential events and developments related to the Armenian life.

We also have the Aztag Literary and Aztag Arts periodicals that are devoted to narrating the artistic life in their respective fields in Armenia and the Diaspora.

It's been almost one and a half years since the Aztag Press Club has been established. The discussions gather the representatives of Lebanon's twenty-seven Armenian news organizations. The group consists of representatives of Armenian political parties' and various denominations' official organs, as well as the representatives of literary and cultural publications. The gathering of this group fosters the harmonization and healthy formation of the media and information field.

Presently, the editorial board is holding consultative meetings with editorial teams of Armenian schools for the specific purpose of creating a medium where youth-related issues can be further explored.

All these efforts pursue the goal of tapping into the collective intellectual potential. I think that's one of the functions of contemporary Armenian media.

U.S. Will Urge Turkey To Recognize Armenian Genocide Soon
30.07.2008 PanARMENIAN.Net/ “Approval of Ambassador-designate Marie Yovanovitch’s appointment by U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee culminated an important milestone toward recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the U.S. executive branch”, ARF Dashnaktsutyun Bureau's Hay Dat and Political Affairs Office Director Giro Manoyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

"22 months after Senator Menendez put his hold on Richard Hoagland's nomination, through the written responses and clarifications of the Ambassador designate and the U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, the US State Department affirms that: “

A) Over one and a half million Armenians have fallen victim to the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations conducted by the Ottoman Empire;

B) The US does not cast any doubt on the veracity, and its goal is to help preserve the memory, of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, the “Medz Yeghern,” or Great Calamity, as Armenians refer to it, and that not characterizing it as genocide is exclusively a policy adopted by the US President;

C) To achieve full reconciliation, Turkey must come to terms with its past," Mr. Manoyan said.

"I think, the Senate will soon confirm Ms. Yovanovitch's nomination and she will arrive in Yerevan to assume her duties. Time and events have demonstrated that the policy and efforts of the Armenian-American community in general and specifically of the Armenian National Committee of America were right and efficient. I am convinced that with such high level of political influence, Armenian-Americans and their supporters in the US legislature will soon attain the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the US President. It is obvious that Turkey not only has no reason to be content with the expressed US current policy, but should be extremely concerned that the day is near when the United States of America, through its legislature, its executive branch and its President will call upon Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide," Mr. Manoyan concluded.

U.S. Department Of State: Yovanovitch In No Way Sought To Cast Any Doubt On 1915 Events
30.07.2008 PanARMENIAN.Net/ On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, Matthew A. Reynolds, Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs sent a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden to comment on questions regarding the process of appointment of Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.

The letter received by PanARMENIAN.Net says,

"Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing in response to your concerns regarding responses to questions for the record submitted by you and Senator Menendez regarding the nomination of Marie Yovanovitch as Ambassador to

Regarding your Question #1, Ms. Yovanovitch mentions an International Visitors Program under consideration that would bring archivists from Turkey and Armenia to the United States for
professional training. Our goal is to help archivists protect the evidence of the past so that future generations will have the documentation of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians committed by Ottoman soldiers and other Ottoman officials in 1915. Our goal is not to open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events.

Regarding Ms. Yovanovitch's response to Senator Menendez's Question #8, the Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes.

In her testimony, Ms. Yovanovitch tried to convey her deep empathy with the profound suffering of the Armenian people and in no way sought to cast any doubt on historical facts.

We hope this information is helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance on this or any other matter."

Halacoglu Packs Up - What does Yusuf Hoca's Departure Mean to Turks and Armenians? by By Khatchig Mouradian
WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)-On July 23, Resmi Gazete (Official Gazette) announced that Yusuf Halacoglu, the head of the Turkish Historical Society (TTK) since Sept. 21, 1993, was dismissed from his position.

Halacoglu had become notorious following a number of issues that were highly publicized-at least in Turkey-like his denial of the Armenian Genocide in Switzerland and the investigation against him in that country; his debates with and challenges to genocide scholars Taner Akcam, David Gaunt, and Ara Sarafian; and, most recently, his $20 million offer to the ARF to open its archives here in Watertown (better known in the Turkish media as the "Boston archives").

For years, progressive Turkish scholars have urged Ankara to replace Halacoglu. In off-the-record interviews I conducted on July 23, several of these scholars said they were very happy with the decision.

According to the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet, Halacoglu-who is called Yusuf hoca (teacher) by many in the TTK-said he is currently on vacation (in Bodrum) and the developments took place without his prior knowledge. Halacoglu added, "This is something that can happen any time. One of the Seyhulislams [a title of superior authority on Islam] says, 'We are people who are used to pack up and be on our way. We can go anywhere anytime.' I believe the same. Today you do this duty for the state; tomorrow you continue as a scientist. These are normal things. I perceive these things as normal."

Turkish commentators and political analysts I talked to generally agreed that Halacoglu's contract was terminated because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) wanted to appoint someone close to the AKP. Halacoglu was very close to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), an ultra-nationalist party that has 71 seats in the Turkish parliament. According to some sources, his ties to what is known as the "Deep State" in Turkey may have contributed to the decision of not renewing his yearly contract as well.

It is also likely that the AKP was not happy with the extreme radical and confrontational course Halacoglu had taken on the Armenian Genocide and the Kurdish issue.

Whether this signals a change of policy regarding the Armenian issue-in the current, generally positive atmosphere between Turkey and Armenia-is not clear, however. Many think that although the AKP may have been unhappy with Halacoglu's confrontational approach regarding the genocide, the party is not prepared to face off with the army nor the bureaucracy either on the Armenian issue. Therefore, no major change in its policy should be expected.

Dr. Ali Birinci, a prolific scholar called a "conservative," "Islamist," and nationalist" by those who know him, will replace Halacoglu. Although most commentators and researchers I spoke to say that in all likelihood Birinci will not take the TTK in a completely new direction-at least as far as the Armenian issue is concerned-it is expected that he will at least not employ Halacoglu's sensationalist tactics.

Scholars familiar with Birinci's work consider him a serious researcher who has sometimes challenged the "established" historical knowledge in Turkey. Although Birinci does not have publications on the Armenian Genocide, one Turkish-born scholar expressed a "minute hope" that he would employ his training and experience to gradually challenge the fossilized denialist rhetoric on the genocide issue.

So what will become of Halacoglu? He will retain his position at Gazi University and probably continue publishing works on what he calls the "alleged Armenian genocide." There are a few-very few-scholars who believe that recently Halacoglu, having realized how untenable his position was, had begun to work on publishing more credible research and to venture into what one scholar called "constructive cooperation" with researchers who acknowledge the genocide.

Judging from the experiences of Gaunt and Sarafian, however, this sounds highly unlikely. Yet if he was, indeed, contemplating a fresh start, it is never too late. Either way, we have not heard the last from Yusuf hoca, who kept the Turkish-and, to a lesser extent, Armenian-media busy for years.

An Interview With Baskin Oran, “that Much Ignorance Is Only Possible With Education” By Khatchig Mouradian
On May 30, long-time human rights activist in Turkey Prof. Baskin Oran received an email from the Turkish Revenge Brigade, a group responsible for the assassination of a prominent human rights activist in 1998. The email included a death threat and swear words aimed at Oran and the Armenians. The text was similar to the one Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink received before he was killed last year on January 19 in Istanbul.

Worried that this interview, conducted in May, could cause more problems for Oran in Turkey, I decided to postpone its publication and shelve the transcript indefinitely. I sent it to Oran, however, with a note explaining my reluctance to publish it. These are my words, he said, and they will not change because of threats.

Baskin Oran is a regular contributor to Dink’s newspaper, Agos, and to Radikal in Turkey. Unlike Dink, he does not use the term “genocide” when referring to the massacres of the Armenians during World War I. Yet, Oran is far from being a “genocide denier” and is an outspoken critic of the Turkish state’s denial of the suffering of the Armenians. He also believes that Armenian Genocide resolutions in countries like the U.S. make the job of Turkish democrats more difficult when it comes to educating the Turkish public about 1915.

Khatchig Mouradian When talking about taboos in Turkish society, you often quote Sakalli Celal (Celal the Bearded), who said, “That much ignorance is only possible with education.” Talk about how education has promoted ignorance.

Baskin Oran Any nation-state is created mainly by using two instruments: compulsory military service and national education. During this education, you are constantly taught this or that and you come to believe in it because it’s very heavy indoctrination. Teaching something does not only mean teaching something, it also means not teaching something. And this is the case in Turkey with the 1915 massacres.

I heard about 1915 for the first time in the U.S., when I was 18, from a friend of mine called Bob Harabedjian. He was a very funny guy. We were both in different cars, we stopped at the red light. We were high school students. He said, jokingly, “You dirty Turk, you killed my grandparents.” I said, “F*** off, bastard” and we continued our way. Of course I forgot the incident the very same day. This was in 1964. Afterwards, we came to hear about it in 1973, when the ASALA killings started. It was like being awakened at 4 o’clock in the morning not by a radio alarm clock, but by a bomb under the bed. We immediately said, “What the hell are they doing, these murderers?” This did not lead us to study what happened in 1915. On the contrary, we only felt a very strong reaction vis-á-vis the killing of totally innocent people, the diplomats.

Later, and especially after Turkey’s candidacy became official in 1999, we started reading publications by Taner Akcam and some members of the Armenian diaspora, and we came to learn that a lot had happened in 1915–16.

But with the passing of time, the word “genocide” was so frequently pronounced that two parallel alleys developed among us: the first was learning about what happened in 1915 and the second was reacting to the word “genocide.” Because for the Armenian, “genocide” means one thing: 1915. But for the Turk, “genocide” means one thing also: 1933–45. That simply means that Turks felt the Armenians were telling them, “Your grandfather was a Nazi.”

On the other hand, a wing of the diaspora was (and is) trying to obstruct Turkey’s candidacy to the EU. This was (and is) totally unacceptable for us Turkish democrats because this candidacy was (and is) the very occasion that had permitted us to learn things that were concealed from us until then. The laws called “EU Harmonization Packages” enacted between 2001–04 have been a benediction for democracy in Turkey, and they were made possible thanks to seeing a light at the other end of the tunnel. By this I mean membership in about 15 years.

To sum up, this is a very typical case of dialectics: The diaspora has taught us, the Turkish democrats, what our “grandfathers” have done, and by the same token the diaspora has prevented (and is preventing) us passing it on to our people. People block their ears when they here the “g-word.” I personally have no objection to the horrors of 1915 being called “crimes against humanity,” for instance. But this word is definitely counterproductive in Turkey.

The diaspora ended its terrorist tactics when the Orly bombing caused apprehension in the Western world and started the “Armenian bills.” Very cleverly so. But in this particular case, the diaspora was not able to change that endless tape of “It was genocide” and replace it with more sophisticated discourse, so it prevents us from teaching our people the facts.

Well, what about understanding the Armenian state of mind also, you would say. Don’t worry about it; we know how it is because we read about it and we learned about it from Armenians of Turkey like Hrant. We know why this word is sacrosanct. It’s because the Armenians were not able to mourn their dead freely so this is the only way to get satisfaction. They will never be able to get rid of a sentiment of revenge as long as the Turkish state continues denying the facts. I don’t know about the other parts of the world but in the Middle East, mourning your dead openly is the only way you can get it out of your system. This is a sheer fact.

But let us not forget what Hrant, the most important student of Turkish-Armenian relations, had said: “Both Turks and Armenians are sick; the former because of paranoia, the latter because of trauma.” The Muslims destroyed the Armenians (and civilization in Anatolia as well) and now deny everything. This makes the Armenians sick. And the Armenians are right now playing an endless tape, and that makes the Turks sick.

K. M. Talk about the Armenian issue in the context of the wider problem of “silences” in Turkey.

B. O. The Turkish state and the Ottoman state have never looked for rational solutions to major problems: from 1915 on, the Armenian massacres; from 1924 on, the Islam issue; from 1925 on, the Kurdish issue; since the 1950’s, the Cyprus issue. We Turks have a habit of stuffing those dead bodies in the closet, as the French say, or sweeping them under the carpet, as the Turks say. And of course there, they rotted and started to stink. Now, they are coming out of the closet all at once, mainly because we are trying to enter the EU and we have to face all those issues one by one, without which we cannot claim that we are Europeans. But we are scared to death. At least three zombies are chasing us.

This is one of the things that the EU and the Armenian side should be able to comprehend. In the Armenian mind, there is one issue only; but in the Turkish mind, there are several problematic issues that need to be resolved. And they are linked to each other. Once you decide to solve a problem, you have to open your mind, and once you open your mind, all things will enter.

This is, of course, our fault. We never solved anything. But if Armenians, EU people, etc. don’t comprehend this, all sides will continue to suffer for a long time and for nothing. Now, if the hawkish wing of the diaspora prefers to lengthen the suffering for reasons of its own, which is understandable, it’s an option of course. But I doubt it’s the good one.

K. M. Talk about Turkey’s relations with Armenia. On several occasions, you have talked about a missed opportunity in 2000.

B. O. At the end of 2000, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the most rational state structure in Turkey because it’s the most Westernized, proposed a plan to start to solve the Armenian problem in three initial stages: 1) The border trade with Armenia would be encouraged. Harbor facilities (Trabzon, probably) and other economic benefits would be provided to alleviate Armenia’s economic hardship in order to diminish the influence of hardliners; 2) A process would be set in motion to discuss the Armenian massacres within an academic framework; 3) The problems of the Armenian minority in Turkey would be addressed.

Behind this was the thought of normalizing life in Armenia and therefore getting Armenians ready to have normal relations with Turkey. And this way the pressure on Turkey would ease.

Nationalism is the ideology of bad times. If you are enduring hardship, you become a nationalist. It’s like an analgesic. Therefore, now both sides feel pressured, and if they have better economic relations both will be better off. People are leaving Kars just as they are leaving Armenia. So why not open the border, enabling Armenia to get cheaper goods and Kars producers to make money. This is a win-win situation. But Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit killed the proposal, saying, “Let us first ask Azerbaijan.” Of course, you can guess what Azerbaijan answered, and the proposal was killed. Now that Azerbaijani oil is flowing to Mersin it’s even more difficult economically.

I personally am of the opinion that any solution will start by a normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. But there are obstacles to it. I’ll just name them but will not dwell on them: 1) public opinion in Turkey; 2) Azerbaijan; 3) the Armenian diaspora.

If anyone is expecting Turkey to abide by the wishes of the Armenians at a clack of their fingers, this will not happen. It must go in stages.

K. M. Talk about the road leading to 1915.

B. O. Turks should learn about what happened in 1915 and accept the facts. On the other hand, as 1915 did not start in 1915, Armenians should learn more about the period from the 1850’s on.

In the mid-1850’s, the Muslim Circassians were driven out of Christian Russia upon the defeat of Sheikh Shamil. In a miserable way they took refuge in the Ottoman Empire. The easiest way for them to feed themselves was to pillage people who had something and who were not protected, and these were the Armenians of eastern Anatolia, who also happened to be Christian.

Almost at the same era, the Kurds started doing the same. The Kurdish tribal leaders had revolted (1806–43) against the centralizing policies of the Tanzimat and were beaten at the end. The last and most powerful of them, Bedirhan Bey, was exiled to Crete. Then, the Kurds lost their tribal hierarchy and, as a consequence, started to cut the hen that laid golden eggs instead of continuing to do what they have been doing for centuries: collect the golden eggs once a year, meaning collect the yearly “protection money” from the Armenians who were much wealthier and much weaker than the Muslims for a variety of reasons.

Under the pressure of the emigrated Circassians and the Kurds, the Armenians made their grievances known to Istanbul—to the Armenian Patriarchate and the Amira (the Armenian bourgeoisie and nobles who were in very good terms with the administration), and to the sultan. Neither of them cared. The Patriarchate would care only after Khrimian, from Sivaz, became Patriarch (and this is why the Armenian question is also the product of a class struggle). The sultan would have cared, but he was in an even worse situation than the Patriarch. He could not possibly give the Kurds, fellow Muslims, the impression that he was protecting the non-Muslims against the Muslims, especially because the Muslims of the empire were already very hysterical about the egalitarian discourse of Tanzimat. Also, the Western powers had happily started using the grievances of the eastern Anatolian Armenians to interfere with the domestic affairs of the empire: The famous “Eastern Question” became nothing but the “Armenian Question.”

In this mess, the Armenian petty bourgeois youth, already imbued with nationalist and also narodnik/anarchist ideology in places like Saint Petersburg, Paris, Geneva, etc., found that the only way of surviving was to set up revolutionary bands and parties, and attack Muslim villages. This further provoked both the Muslims of eastern Anatolia and the sultan. Whether or not they intended to, the Armenian revolutionaries perfectly reminded the administration in Istanbul of the “Bulgarian Model,” i.e., the tactics of setting up armed clashes to attract the attention of the Great Powers, and to obtain autonomy first and independence later.

Therefore, just as there is more than one zombie for Turkey now, there was more than one specter for the Ottoman Empire: the Russians in the East (called Moskof, despised and feared); and the Western powers (each one of which wanted to get the lion’s share from an empire destined to dismember one day or the other). Not counting the economic problems, of course.

Under these circumstances, Abdulhamid, a master of balance, thought he could find a solution by founding in 1890 the Hamidiye Regiments to kill four birds with one stone: to suppress Armenian upheavals; render happy Muslims alienated by Tanzimat; breed rivalry between the Kurds (only Sunni and selected tribes were admitted); and also deprive the Great Powers of any excuses for intervention.

Then the real plight of the Armenians started in eastern Anatolia. Until then, the massacres were sporadic and local in nature, and also mutual, although asymmetrical. When the regiments were started, the killing was institutionalized.

The state kills when there’s an armed rising. But the Ottoman state was harsher when it came to the non-Muslims—especially if they were conceived as being an “instrument” of the outside Christian powers. I must remind you that the latter used the “Eastern Question” and then forgot all about the Armenians in the Treaty of Lausanne.

Everything was made even worse when the CUP entered the scene, adding its Turkist and even Touranist ideology to these fears. Several things were working together to annihilate the Armenians, starting with the panic prevalent in the minds of the CUP officials. As the result of the Balkan War of 1912 especially, the empire had shrunk to a mere Anatolia and “now the Armenians are selling it to the Russians,” though the CUP officials.

To sum up: 1915 was a disgrace to humanity. But it did not start in 1915. The period 1839–1915 must be studied as a whole. The Turks are avoiding 1915, and the Armenians are avoiding the period leading to it. Nothing should be avoided.

K. M. For decades, you have been at the forefront of the struggle for human rights and democracy in Turkey, against all odds. What kept and keeps you going?

B. O. My conscience, of course. Well, also my expertise on nationalism and minorities.

But this does not mean that I was born like that from my mother. On the contrary, I was very much under the influence of Turkish nationalism (Sakalli Celal!) well until the 80’s, although I became a leftist while studying at Mulkiye (Faculty of Political Science). In 1982, I think, I first started working on the Turks of W. Thrace, Greece. This minority enjoyed protection under Article 45 of the Lausanne Treaty, which said that the rights given to non-Muslims in Turkey (Articles 37 to 43) would also apply to Muslims in Greece. Would you believe that at that time I was not aware of the situation of non-Muslims in Turkey? That’s how I came to learn slowly about the non-Muslims and the Kurds.

Now, for me and my democrat friends the circle of the “oppressed and excluded” is even larger. We were able to put this into action during our “Common Independent Left Candidate” campaign at the parliamentary elections of July 2007. There we said at least three things unheard of before. We said, “When the left became known in Turkey in the beginning of the 60’s, it spoke only for the proletariat, the working class. In the 70’s, we hesitantly added a second oppressed and excluded element (despite ourselves, because we were staunch Kemalists): the Kurds. But after the 80’s, new categories of oppressed and excluded peoples came into being, or came to our attention: the Alevis, the non-Muslims, the Roma, the homosexuals...Now, to be able to say that we are leftist, we have to be the spokespeople for all these oppressed and excluded categories.”

We also said the following, which, to my mind, was even more original: “So far, all these excluded and oppressed people defended their kind only. Now they have to defend not themselves but each other. This is the only way they can save themselves from being excluded and oppressed: The socialist will defend the Kurd, the Kurd the Armenian, the Armenian the homosexual, the homosexual the Alevi, the Alevi the Roma, etc.” I must remind you that this approach was very much in line with Hrant’s approach.

The third thing we said during the campaign (and it brings me to my point): “We also call upon people who are not oppressed and excluded, but who have a conscience.” That’s where the conscience comes in.

I am a white Turk. A Turk does not mean an ethnic Turk in Turkey. It means a Muslim Turk (because the Millet system, which was legally abolished in 1839, is still prevalent in the minds of all Muslims). A Turkish WASP needs even more qualifications to be a maqbul Turk, that is to say a Turk that is well trusted and liked by the establishment. This Turk has to be Hanefi (and not Shafi—most Kurds are Shafi); has to be Sunni (against Alevis); Muslim (against non-Muslim); and Turk (against those who do not say they are Turks). On top of all these qualifications, you also have to be a secularist.

I am a white Turk, but with a conscience. All those who have a clean conscience should act like this. I gain nothing from being an advocate of human and minority rights in Turkey. All I get is trouble. I was kicked out of the civil service four times during two military coups. The first time was in 1971, and I came back in a year or so on court order. At the end of 1982, I was kicked out three times and each time I came back with a court order. Now, I am having security cameras and barbed wire installed to my home. But if I don’t speak and write as I do now, how can I sleep? How can I look in the mirror? How can I face my wife? It’s as simple as that, [while] defending Armenian rights in the U.S. or France is a piece of cake!

K. M. You mentioned the court. How do you feel about the courts in Turkey today?’

B. O. It’s all upside-down now. People show their real face or stance in times of hardship and fear. The judiciary in Turkey feels threatened. That was not the case during the coup in 1971. And once the effect of the 1980 coup passed, they were instrumental in bringing people like me back to their work—applying the laws, nothing else. Now they feel threatened by all the zombies. In Turkish we have a saying, “If the salt stinks, then there’s nothing to do.” Now the judiciary is the salt. When people like me were kicked out of their jobs, the judiciary was the last resort. Now the judiciary applies to me Articles 216 and 301/2 because I wrote a report entitled “Minority and Cultural Rights,” a report required by Article 5 of the bylaws of the Consultative Council on Human Rights attached to the prime ministry. We just took our job seriously.

What I’ll say is that accusation under Article 301/2 (denigrating the judiciary) is funny (I wrote very extensively about it all in the Regent Journal of International Law), but 216 is unbelievable. This article was promulgated among the EU Harmonization Packages in order to stop hate speech against the disadvantaged...and they applied it to me (“dissemination of hatred and grudge among people”).

Maybe you have noticed that there is a great resemblance between the conditions in 1914 and 2008 in Turkey from the point of view of perceived fear. The subjects of the fear are of course very different, but the strong perception is the same: Zombies will eat us. Zombies of “Islamism,” “Kurdism,” and “genocide” nowadays.

In a way, all this fuss is to trying to substitute for the fear caused by communism, which unfortunately is no longer there. But this is not “because of education” only (Sakalli Celal again). People on the street also strongly feel very insecure as a result of the deep economic, social, and political change in the country.

Turkey is undergoing the second modernizing revolution of its history. The first one, under the name of Kemalism, had happened in the 1920’s. It permitted a transition from a semi-feudal empire to a modern nation-state, from community to nation, from the subject of the sultan to the citizen of the republic. Now Turkey is in the difficult process of completing this metamorphosis: Making a pass from the monist nation-state, assimilator, and/or discriminator by definition, to a democratic state; from an ethnically and religiously-defined nation to the concept of citizenship defined by free choice of the individual; from the citizen who was “compulsory” because the state denied his infra-identity, to a citizen whose infra identity is recognized and respected by the state. This is happening thanks to the hope related to the Turkish candidacy to the EU.

The most interesting thing in all of this is the radical change of the position of the actors: The revolution from above of Kemalists had met a religious reaction from Islam in the 20’s. Now the second revolution meets the nationalist reaction of the Kemalists under the name of Sevres Paranoia. This paranoia, I already spoke about it, is mainly characterized by Islamic, Kurdish, genocide discourse. The CHP (People’s Republic Party) and the Turkish army are the spokespersons behind it.

Therefore, the second revolution is more difficult than the first one because the Kemalists, victors of a liberation war, had no organized opponents against them in an autocratic setting. But today the sons of the then-revolutionary Kemalists are trying hard to keep all things like they were in 1930.

But thanks to the emerging civil society that did not exist before, the second revolution has a lot of chances. Against some odds, of course: Some unbelievable mistakes of the Islamists, terror of the PKK, and the endless tape of a wing of the diaspora.
July 12, 2008 Armenian Weekly

Dashnaks Leader Uneasy Over Armenian Overtures To Turkey By Anna Saghabalian, ArmeniaLiberty
A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) reiterated on Wednesday his party’s misgivings and unease about President Serzh Sarkisian’s diplomatic overtures to Turkey.

Armen Rustamian warned that Turkish President Abdullah Gul will face street protests by Dashnaktsutyun if he accepts Sarkisian’s invitation to visit Yerevan and watch the first-ever match between the two countries’ national soccer teams to be played on September 6.

“We must not allow Turkey to create an illusion about the existence of relations [with Armenia,]” he told journalists. “This is all it wants.”

Rustamian said Dashnaktsutyun, which is a junior partner in Armenia’s governing coalition, would “remind” Gul of the 1915 Armenian genocide and other problems existing between the two nations. “We have the right to express our protest within the civilized norms,” he said. “We are currently thinking about what forms it could take.”

The Armenian and Turkish governments raised new hopes for the normalization of the historically strained relations between their nations shortly after Sarkisian took over as Armenia’s new president in April. Official Yerevan responded positively to Ankara’s offer of a “dialogue.” As well as inviting Gul to pay a first-ever visit to Armenia by a Turkish head of state, Sarkisian signaled last month his government’s readiness to agree, in principle, to the creation of a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians that would study the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Sarkisian’s predecessor, Robert Kocharian, rejected the idea floated by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2005, saying that the highly sensitive issue must be addressed by the two governments, rather than historians. In an interview late last month, Kocharian faulted Sarkisian for extending the extraordinary invitation to Gul welcomed by the United States.

Rustamian agreed with Kocharian’s stance, while playing down the significance of the invitation. “If I were the president I wouldn’t invite him,” he said.

Rustamian, who also chairs the Armenian parliament’s foreign relations committee, insisted at the same time that there are no “strategic differences” within Armenia’s leadership on how to improve relations with Turkey.

Successive Armenian governments have stood for an unconditional normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, saying that the two countries should establish diplomatic relations and open their border before tackling their outstanding problems. Dashnaktsutyun has traditionally favored a harder line that makes Turkish recognition of the genocide a necessary condition for a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement.

Government To Blame For Armenia's "Isolation" Haykakan Zhamanak, July 24 2008, Armenia
The ceremony to lay the foundation of the Turkish sector of the Kars-Akhalkalaki[-Tbilisi-Baku] railway will take place today in [the Turkish city of] Kars. This is the railway through which our neighbours, Georgia and Azerbaijan, will get the opportunity to establish railway transport links with Turkey. This link was previously ensured via Armenia's territory - via the Gyumri-Kars railway. As a result of the non-operation of the Gyumri-Kars railway due to the Karabakh conflict, these countries did not have railway links, which essentially hindered the development of commercial ties between them. Thus, the Gyumri-Kars railway acquired strategic significance for these three countries, which implies that it was a strong lever in Armenia's hands for solving its regional problems. However, many understood that it was possible to use this lever only in a very short perspective, and that the moment would approach when it would lose its role and significance.

This short period of time should have been used in a possibly efficient way. As a result of the revolution in 1998 [when former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan had to resign on the wave of public discontent and under pressure from some state officials], when in essence a decision to freeze the Nagornyy Karbaakh conflict was made, this was introduced as a very victorious policy; it was already clear that our neighbours would deprive us of our levers. First, the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline was constructed, which was extended significantly to bypass Armenia; then the Baku-Erzrum gas pipeline was constructed, which also bypassed Armenia, and now the construction of Kars-Akhalkalaki[-Tbilisi-Baku] railway is being accomplished. This was the direct result of the "victorious" foreign policy of Armenia. And [Armenian President] Serzh Sargsyan's flirtations with the Turkish leadership against this background are laughable, to put it mildly. If he has already understood that it is impossible to ensure Armenia's development without having normal relations with neighbours, then he understood this very late, and a person of this intellect just does not have the right to aspire to the office of the Armenian president. If he had understood this earlier and did not say a word and did not hinder [former President Robert] Kocharyan's continuing his "victorious" foreign policy, then it is even worse. We would like to note that Kocharyan said three years ago in public that the Kars-Akhalkalaki [-Tbilisi-Baku] railway will not be constructed. Then, when the construction started, some of our officials were cynical to the extent that they said that this railway would benefit Armenia and Armenia would have railway links with Turkey via Georgia. Now the government tries not to notice that the railway is already under construction and that it will be put into operation next year. They are doing the right thing - if they notice that, then they will have to confess that they turned Armenia into one of the most isolated countries in the world, if not the most isolated one.

ARF: Genocide Not Up For Discussion
YEREVAN ARF Press Office)—”The ARF Bureau is adamant that the facts of the Armenian Genocide not be up for discussion, and that no high-ranking official representing Armenia have a different approach,” read an announcement issued by the ARF after its first plenary session, which ended Tues. July 8. “Universal recognition of the genocide is vital for the existence, security, and future of our people and statehood,” it continued.

The announcement also summarized the Bureau’s meeting conclusions and emphasized the need for the diaspora—through the formation of the Diaspora Ministry—to become an essential political and economic component in making Armenia an important actor on the world stage.

The Bureau also outlined the importance for the ARF to become a more active force in domestic Armenian affairs, given the internal and external challenges facing Armenians today.

A specific emphasis was placed on ensuring that the Karabakh question remains on the national agenda. The Bureau also determined the responsibilities of ANC chapters and others in garnering international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and strengthening Armenia’s statehood.

It also welcomed the recent election of the ARF representative to the Executive Board of the Socialist International.

“The ARF Bureau’s responsibility is to improve the moral consciousness in Armenia, strengthen its democratic standards, development social stability, resolve economic issues, and ensure the unity of Armenia and the diaspora,” the statement read.


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