- German News Agency Corrected It’s Mistake
- Will Armenia Sign Documents With Turkey?
- [News Analysis] Turkey Faces Diplomatic Balancing Act By Ibon Villelabeitia
- Diaspora's Main Problem Is Maintenance Of Armenian Language
- Ara Kochunyan: We Should Not Fear That Opening Of Border Will Damage Armenia's Security
- Turks, Angry Armenians, And Congress By Matt Hurley
- Descendants Of Armenian Genocide File Class Action Against Insurer Amanda Bronstad Law.com
- Armenian Genocide Deniers On Trial, World Radio Switzerland
- On Armenian-Turkish Relations: Armen Ayvazyan And Gevork Khudinyan Speak On Yerkir Media
- Interview With Editor-In-Chief Of Zhamanak Istanbul-Based Armenian-Language Newspaper, Ara Kochunyan
- Round Table On Armenia-Diaspora Relations Held On Initiative Of World Armenian Congress
- Turkish People Wishes To Establish Good-Neighborly Relations With Armenian People, Ara Kochunian Says
- Turkey: Armenia Ties Could End Genocide Resolutions AP
- Turkish Culture Ministry Wishes To Cooperate With Armenia In Restoration Of The Ruins Of Aniarmradio
- Glance At Armenian Press Freedoms
- Secret Negotiations Between Armenia & Turkey Have Resumed In Switzerland
- Survivors Of The Genocide & Their Heirs:New Joint Trial
- 20th Anniversary Of Nagorno Karabagh Movement Marked At Capitol Hill Program
- VP Nominee Reiterates Support for Armenians at Democratic Convention By H Sassounian
- Armenia And Turkey Are Beginning To Take Baby Steps Toward Each Other S Markedonov
- Muslim Cleric & Armenian Priest United In All But Headgear, V Ziflioglu,
- Sowing The Seeds Soli Ozel
- Pressured By Washington & Brussels, Turkey Has Long Ago Opened Its Airspace
- Turkey Will Not Accept Any Pre-condition In Its Relations With Armenia
- Turkey’s New Diplomatic Confidence Signifies Changing Role As Regional Power D Sammut*
- Yerevan Hails Turkish Initiative for Caucasus K Simonian
- Turkey & Crisis In Caucasus
- Armenian FM: "Armenia Positively Assesses Turkish President's Visit To Yerevan"
- Nalbandian And Bryza Discussed Armenian-Turkish Relations
- What Turkey Should Be Doing Panorama.am
- Who Gets In: And What Happens Once They're Here
- Turkish End Play: Turkey Goes Active In Caucasus And Plans To Restore Relations With Armenia: D Yermolayev,
- Us Envoy To Nato Upbeat On Possible Armenian-Turkish Diplomatic Ties, Mediamax,
- Interview With Azerbaijani Political Expert Z Alizada,
- Schoolgirl Of Armenian Origin Included In Turkish National Water Polo Team NT
- Gul’s Turkey & Sargsyan’s Armenia, L Nazaryan
- Preconditions Continue To Remain As Preconditions Even If Not Expressed Directly
- Volkan Vural: Ankara Should Establish Diplomatic Relations With Yerevan Without Wasting Time
- Turkey Is Not Indifferent To Armenian Pain, Vural Says
- Karabakh Problem Should Be Resolved By Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey And Russia
- Ara Papyan: How Can We Trust Armenia's Security To Turkey?
- Ara Papyan: Turkey's Presence In Karabakh Process Is Inadmissible
- Turkey And Armenia Inch Forward, Over Soccer, Hugh Pope
- Whither Turkish-Armenian Relations? N Birch
- "Football Diplomacy" between Armenia and Turkey, Hawks and Agitators Marginalised
- Kaan Soyak: In Case Of New War In Karabakh, Turkey Will Assume Impartial Position
- Anca Outlines Concerns About Gul Visit To Armenia
- Turkey: Repression Continues Despite So-Called “reform”
- The Anti-Defamation League: We Do Not Deny Genocide
- Armenia Is Ready To Work With Turkey To The Renovation Of Monuments In Armenia
- Overwhelming Majority Of Armenian Society Has A Positive View Of Gül's Visit
- Comments By Representatives Of Political Forces On The Armenian Presidential Statement Gül On The Return To Azerbaijan Territories
- "Ah! Little Brother! "By Ahmet Altan
- Turkish Mass Media Works Under Restrictions
- Walking Carefully From Transdnestr To Yerevan, F Lukyanov,
- Reviving The Armenian Heritage
- Back Door Talks Follow Football Diplomacy
- Turkish - Armenian Ties Get Cultural Boost
- "Soccer Diplomacy" To Help Dispel Armenia-Turkey Grudges
- What's In A Name?, Forbes
- 'Miscalculation Behind Caucasus Events' PRESS TV
- This Is Equal To Treachery
German News Agency Corrected It’s Mistake
Germany Ambassador of Turkey, Ahmet Acet reminded that Ankara does not defines 1915 events as “genocide“. In the statement that he gave to biggest news agency of Germany, dpa, Acet said, “The term genocide is defined in United Nations’ Prevention and Punishment of Genocide Crime Agreement in 1948 and any organ of United Nations does not recognizes 1915 events as genocide.“
During President Abdullah Gul’s Yerevan visit, between 6 and 7 September, German news agency wrote, “United Nations Commision of Human Rights defines 1915 events as genocide“. German news agency declared that report is erased from database of newspaper. http://falsegenocide.com
NSC Of Armenia: Our Neighbors Are Not Our Rivals
It's good that the countries in South Caucasus start to realize that mutual rivary is of no benefit to anyone. It seems that Armenia and Turkey have already understood that. In the news report today the head of the National Security Council of Armenia Arthur Baghdasaryan says "our neighbors are not our rivals."
The visit of the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul to Armenia at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan created a completely new situation in the region, Secretary of National Security Council Arthur Baghdasaryan told a press conference, noting that RA President’s Initiative of launching normal political dialogue was a most correct political step. “Our neighbors are not our rivals, we must gradually establish normal relations with our neighbors: this is the slogan in the sphere of foreign policy and security, which our politicians are guided by. The launch of the Armenian-Turkish dialogue envisages different components, which embrace the vital interests of the Republic of Armenia in most different fields,” Arthur Baghdasaryan said.
As for the rumors that Turkey may assume the role of a mediator in the Karabakh conflict settlement, Arthur Baghdasaryan said Turkey can never become a mediator, especially considering that there has never been such a question. Armenia has always defended and defends the format of negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group. The Co-Chairs also accept that the Minsk Group format should not change. According to him, Abdullah Gul has expressed the will to contribute to the resolution of the issue. “We are ready to accept any assistance. Assistance and mediation are different missions. We welcome any attempt of assistance that can contribute to the peaceful resolution of the issue,” Arthur Baghdasaryan said, appreciating the fact that the French and US Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group visited Stepanakert during their latest visits to the region and met with NKR leadership. According to him, this is a new emphasis and an immediate expression of the reality that NKR is becoming an active participant of the process. According to the Secretary of the National Security Council of Armenia, the conflict between Russia and Georgia evidenced once again that the attempts of solving issues in a military way result in unwanted consequences. The authorities in Armenia once again proved their balanced position of resolving conflicts through mutual concessions. Speaking about the opportunities of opening of the border between Armenia and Turkey and its consequences, Arthur Baghdasaryan noted that research is carried out to find out the possible positive and negative aspects of it.
Nevertheless, the opening of the border can ensure much greater dividends for Armenia's economic development than certain negative trends. He said the positive sides of exploitation of the Gyumri-Kars railway are obvious, simply reminding that the distance between Gyumri and Kars is 3 km. http://falsegenocide.com
Will Armenia Sign Documents With Turkey?
As early as September 7 in Yerevan we arranged with the Turkish Foreign Minister to meet in New York on the sidelines of the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly. Mr. Babacan suggested organising another meeting in a trilateral format,” said Armenia’s FM Edward Nalbandian when commenting on Turkey’s mediation in the disputed three-way meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. According to Turkish media, some document is going to be signed during the upcoming meeting with Ali Babacan in New York. The Armenian FM was asked to comment on the authenticity of the information.
“Upon the instruction of the Presidents of Armenia and Turkey, as a result of the talks with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Babacan, we declared about our resoluteness to fully normalise the bilateral relations and we are trying to make steps in this direction. I hope we will move along that way without creating artificial obstacles fro each other,” said Mr. Nalbandian.
Asked about the changes of the OSCE Minsk Group format, Mr. Nalbandian said,” The Minsk Group is the acting format of resolving the Karabakh conflict. The Group enjoys the real support of the international community. The negotiations continue on the basis of the proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. I think that today good preconditions exist for the conflict resolution, which can open new opportunities for regional cooperation for all countries.
According to the information disseminated by Azeri media, OSCE Minsk Group US Co-Chair Matthew Bryza declared in Baku that Turkey can have its contribution to the process of the Karabakh conflict settlement and help Armenia demonstrate more flexible position. The Armenian FM said in this view: “If we believe in the citations of Azerbaijani media, then most probably Mr. Bryza incorrectly used the word Armenia instead of Azerbaijan, since Turkey can use its influence for making Azerbaijan’s position more flexible, deriving from the reality that Azerbaijani leaders have many times described the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey as “one nation-two states. And I think that any rumors about Turkey’s alleged influence on Armenia in this context are apparent exaggeration.”
[News Analysis] Turkey Faces Diplomatic Balancing Act By Ibon Villelabeitia
Turkey faces a delicate diplomatic balancing act between its old and new partners after reaching out to countries beyond its traditional Western allies and strengthening its status as a regional power.
Turkey, a NATO member which hopes to join the European Union, has in recent years built diplomatic and commercial ties with Central Asia, Iran, Russia, the Caucasus and the Middle East and may soon win a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
It has no natural resources of its own, but has positioned itself as an energy hub for Caspian and Central Asian oil and gas exports transiting to Western markets.
Since the end of the Cold War, Ankara has had the luxury of not having to choose between its Western and Eurasian interests. But it could now face some hard choices between its traditional allies and new, less predictable partners.
This has been highlighted by the standoff between the West and Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme and by tensions between Moscow and the West over Russia's brief war with Georgia.
"Turkey can't be all things for all the people all the time," said Fadi Hakura, a researcher at London's Chatham House.
"Turkey's multilateral engagement will force it to make priorities. If there's a conflict between Russia and the United States, what side is Turkey going to take?" Hakura said.
COLD WAR BULWARK
Turkey, a member of NATO since the 1950s, was the alliance's bulwark against Soviet expansion during the Cold War.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it has diversified its foreign policy, looking eastward and forging closer ties with neighbours such as Syria.
This has created strains with Washington, which accuses Damascus of supporting international terrorism.
The Islamist-rooted AK Party, which swept to power in 2002 has cemented ties with the Middle East, rediscovering a region which it was an integral part of under the Ottoman Turks.
Turkey is now mediating talks between Israel and Syria. It also hosted a meeting of Caribbean nations and a summit of African leaders this summer, events linked to its desire to win a Security Council seat.
Turkey wants to leave its diplomatic footprint and become a regional player, said Hugh Pope, an author on Turkey and an analyst for the International Crisis Group.
It is a question of prestige and it has brought peace with its neighbours but Turkey will have to soft-pedal on its foreign policy if it wins a seat at the United Nations.
Turkey has also offered to try to help resolve the dispute between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear programme, which the West says is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who says the programme is intended entirely for civilian purposes, travelled to İstanbul last month on his first visit to a NATO country.
But Ankara would face a difficult choice if it had to vote at the Security Council on whether to impose more sanctions on Tehran for failing to comply with the United Nations' demands over its nuclear programme.
Ankara does not want Iran to have nuclear arms, but has trade and energy ties with Tehran which could be damaged by any further sanctions. How it votes on such issues could also affect it ability to mediate.
CHALLENGE FOR THE WEST
Russia's military intervention in Georgia highlighted just how hard the diplomatic balancing act could be for Turkey.
A close U.S. ally with good ties with neighbouring Georgia, Ankara depends heavily on Russian energy imports but incurred Moscow's wrath by letting NATO ships sail through the Bosphorus Strait into the Black Sea during the conflict.
Ian Lesser, a researcher at the German Marshall Fund think-tank, said Turkey's ambivalence in the Caucasus conflict could be a harbinger of transatlantic disputes to come amid growing competition between NATO and Russia.
"As relations with Washington and Brussels have cooled, some Turkish strategists have even begun to consider the possibility of alternative strategic alignments in Eurasia, and above all with Russia," Lesser wrote in a recent paper.
Alarmed by Moscow's war with Tbilisi, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan embarked on shuttle diplomacy in the Caucasus.
President Abdullah Gül also visited Armenia for a soccer match in an effort to reduce almost a century of hostilities between the two countries with no diplomatic ties.
Turkey's increasingly independent and assertive foreign policy could present a challenge for the West if it were no longer able to expect Turkey to toe the line on its foreign policy, Pope said.
Despite slow progress, Turkey says joining the 27-state EU remains its main foreign policy objective and has vowed to carry out reforms to bolster its flagging entry bid.
But political analysts say Ankara's diplomacy of breadth rather than depth could distract it from its EU membership drive.
"It would be a mistake for Ankara to see its successful foreign policy as a substitute for the EU," Hakura said.
"It's Turkey's EU candidacy status that has made it attractive to many countries in the first place to establish ties."
19 September 2008, Reuters Ankara
Diaspora's Main Problem Is Maintenance Of Armenian Language PanARMENIAN.Net 18.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian community of Istanbul tries to resolve problems both on state and community levels, Ara Kochunyan, editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Istanbul-based Armenian-language newspaper, said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net.
"We have a hospital and a school under the aegis of the Constantinople Patriarchate. The EU urged Turkey to return constructions belonging to national minorities. We are allowed to build and reconstruct houses and churches. In two or three years we will have new houses. Life in a community helps to preserve faith, tradition and language," he said.
The main problem is maintenance of the Armenian language, according to him.
"An entire generation can hardly understand and speak Armenian. That is why most of the newspapers are bilingual. Asbarez newspaper has been an exception until recently but now it's published in three languages: Armenian, English and Spanish. Otherwise, no one will buy Armenian press. During 100 years of existence, our newspaper didn't lose readers. We present various viewpoints about the events taking place in Armenia and Diaspora," Kochunyan said.
The Armenian community of Istanbul numbers 60-70 people. Some 40 churches throughout Turkey are under the authority of the AAC Constantinople Patriarchate.
Ara Kochunyan: We Should Not Fear That Opening Of Border Will Damage Armenia's Security PanARMENIAN.Net 18.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ We should not fear that opening of the border will damage Armenia's security, Ara Kochunyan, editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Istanbul-based Armenian-language newspaper, said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net.
"Nations should be in contact; otherwise all the problems will remain unsettled. Normalization depends on Presidents of Armenia and Turkey. A step forward was made. But given current transformations in geopolitics, there is no need to hurry. The developments prompt that borders should be open. The question is when it can happen. Turkey is a pragmatic state. After the war in South Ossetia, the Turkish authorities concluded that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan had better go through Armenia. Ankara understands that Armenia is the most stable and predictable country in the region," he said.
Turks, Angry Armenians, And Congress By Matt Hurley massdiscussion.blogspot.com Sept 16 2008
Oh, where to start...
Well, this answers a question that BizzyBlogger Tom Blumer and I had during an off-the-air discussion about the Enquirer: Malia Rulon still has a job. For some reason.
I really have a difficult time understanding why a cash-strapped news organization would waste time on the political ramifications of a grand total of 549 (297 Turks and 252 Armenians) people in the 2nd District, but you know the Enquirer...they like to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Republicans out of desperation.
Wow...for once Wulsin mouthpiece Kevin Franck makes a good point...:
"The conflict between Turks and Armenians is serious and deserves discussion, but I think families in Southern Ohio care more about lowering gas prices, fixing our economy and making health care more affordable," spokesman Kevin Frank said.
...which I note because that will never happen again...
But since the Angry Armenian is what this piece is really about, let's bring on David's failure to take his latest chance to say, "No comment."
"How can you deny a historical fact? She does it simply to get bought off," he said. "It has nothing to do with why I am running for office, but it does speak volumes about her. ... She's a scary lady."
Oh, David... My advice is to stop saying things like this if you ever want to be taken seriously. This is the kind of stuff that real politicans don't get caught up in because it makes them look bad. Did you not learn a lesson from the fallout of Jean Schmidt's comments regarding Rep. Murtha? Character assassination is not a good way to win friends and influence people.
Anyway, let's finally get to what this is all about...
[T]he Miami Township Republican has praised the founding of Turkey on the House floor, marched as grand marshal in the Turkish Day Parade, opposed legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide, joined the Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations, lunched with a group of Turks at Cafe Istanbul in Newport, Ky., and raised nearly $20,000 in campaign contributions from Turkish sources.
And apparently, in certain corners, that makes a person "scary."
What's so scary, you might be asking yourself...
"Congresswoman Schmidt is one of the few members of Congress who actually read Guenter Lewy's book about the genocide and is one of the few members of Congress who actually doesn't believe that it was genocide," the e-mail said. "We have a member of Congress from Ohio who is willing to stand up to the Armenian lobby and it is important for the Turkish American community to support her."
G. Lincoln McCurdy, who is treasurer of the Turkish Coalition USA PAC, said Schmidt first appeared on the PAC's radar after she was criticized by Armenian groups for opposing a House resolution that recognizes the Armenian genocide.
"The Turkish community thought we should support her, because of this harassment. ... that's the primary reason why the Turkish-Americans have been supporting her," McMurdy said.
I don't know about you, but I'm prtty frightened by all of this...
Pfaff said Schmidt read books about the Turkish-Armenian history, met with the Turkish ambassador, an Armenian group and an official from the State Department before making up her mind on the issue.
"She believes that there were certain atrocities committed but that they were committed on both sides," Pfaff said. "She just doesn't believe that it was a state-sponsored act, which is the definition of genocide."
Beyond that, Schmidt "doesn't believe that we should slap an ally like Turkey in the face with this type of resolution," Pfaff said. "It's not good for our national foreign policy."
Rep. Schmidt has actually read up on this stuff and has made an informed decision! If only all of our elected officials would do so...
By the way, when will Malia and the Enquirer be doing full exposes on Republican Leader, my Congressman and a Great American -- John Boehner -- and his colleagues Steve Chabot and Geoff Davis?
Again, Wulsin mouth Kevin was right: This stuff is a waste of time...of course, I just killed more time retelling it... God help me, I want this election to be over.....
Descendants Of Armenian Genocide File Class Action Against Insurer Amanda Bronstad Law.com Sept 17 2008 CA
Descendants of the Armenian genocide filed another class action against an insurance company, claiming they are entitled to benefits that should have been paid to the beneficiaries of their ancestors. The class action was filed on Monday against Aviva PLC, a British firm, which insured individuals during the Armenian genocide. Baghtchedjian v. Aviva, No. CV08-cv-06030 (C.D. Calif.)
The suit is the latest to involve insurance firms targeted for policies sold during the Armenian genocide. Others include New York Life Insurance Co., which in 2004 agreed to pay $20 million to settle similar claims, and AXA S.A., which agreed to a $17 million settlement in 2005.
The Armenian genocide is believed to have killed more than 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923.
Aviva is the successor firm to Norwich Union Life Insurance Society and Commercial Union Insurance Co., which sold insurance to Armenians who lived in the Turkish Ottoman Empire before the genocide.
The lead plaintiffs, Raffi Baghtchedjian and Nisan Papazyan, both residents of Los Angeles County, are suing on behalf of all Armenians who owned life insurance policies at Norwich Union and life and fire insurance policies at Commercial Union from 1880 and 1930 and whose beneficiaries were not paid -- a potential class of about 10,000 individuals.
Vartkes Yeghiayan of Glendale, Calif.-based Yeghiayan & Associates represents the plaintiffs. He was involved in similar cases against New York Life and Deutsche Bank.
Calls to an Aviva spokesman were not returned.
Armenian Genocide Deniers On Trial, World Radio Switzerland http://www.worldradio.ch/ Sept 17 2008
Three Turkish nationals have gone on trial in the canton of Zurich for denying that there was an Armenian genocide. The three made the comments during a public demonstration in Winterthur in June last year and repeated them yesterday in the courtroom. They say they are sorry for the Armenians who died but argue that Turkey did not commit genocide, saying this is an "international lie". The prosecutor has asked for the accused to be fined up to CHF12,000 each. The defendants' lawyer says his clients should go free because people can only be punished for racially motivated statements denying genocide. He claims his clients made the comments out of patriotism.
On Armenian-Turkish Relations: Armen Ayvazyan And Gevork Khudinyan Speak On Yerkir Media "Ararat Foundation" September 12, 2008.
On the occasion of the September 6'th, 2008 visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Armenia, at the invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, to watch the September 6 Turkey vs. Armenia soccer match in Yerevan, Armen Ayvazyan, doctor of political science and history and director of " Ararat " Center for Strategic Research in Yerevan and Historian Gevork Khudinyan spoke at Yerkir Media TV program which was aired on September 12, 2008.
In the interview, both historians, expressed their reservations regarding any positive outcome of this visit, stressing about complexity of the matters existing between neighboring countries such as Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish collaboration with Azerbaijan in its aggresive relation towards Artsakh ( Nagorno-Karabagh Republic), Turkish and Azerbaijani blockade of Armenia and Artsakh ( Nagorno-Karabagh Republic), Turkish and Azerbaijani keen determination of total annihilation of Armenians and their homeland and culture and beyond everything else the naiveness of the Armenian authorities in not recognizing and not properly addressing the grave danger existing upon the Armenian Nation in any positive and effective way.
Please watch this interview on http://blog.ararat-center.org/. We are confident that this informative interview and all other subsequent subject matters in this blog will be of great interest to you. The history is the evidence and unfortunately therefore the true intentions of our neighbors speak for themselves. Our neighbors are persistent in what they say and in what they do, they have not changed and wish not to be changed. The destiny and the faith of our beloved nation and people can no longer be guided by wishfull thinking and self deceptive manners which we have been acustomed to. Dishonoring,disrespecting and downplaying our national values to please Turkey will have great negative consequences for well being of our nation and the Armenian authorities must not exercise this failed and capitulative policy any longer.
Interview With Editor-In-Chief Of Zhamanak Istanbul-Based Armenian-Language Newspaper, Ara Kochunyan
Ankara sees Armenia as most stable and predictable country in the region The Armenian community of Istanbul is one of the oldest and at the same time the most vulnerable. It’s rather hard to live in Turkey and remain an Armenian. But life goes on and the community grows in number, mostly thanks to migrants from Armenia. Nevertheless, there are taboos people are unable to lift, despite Turkey’s aspiration to join the European family.
Editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Istanbul-based Armenian-language newspaper, Ara Kochunyan tells PanARMENIAN.Net about the everyday life of the Armenian community. 18.09.2008
It is difficult to be an Armenian newspaper editor in Turkey?
To begin with, Zhamanak newspaper is one of a few Armenian-language newspapers published in the Diaspora.
The mass media in Turkey, including the Armenian-language press, works under certain restrictions. We do not use the term ‘genocide’ in our newspaper not because we deny this fact. This is a very sensitive issue in Turkey. Our newspaper publishes various versions of the 1915 events and the readers make conclusions," he said, adding that terminology is given a back seat in the issue.
The Armenian community of Istanbul is in an awkward position. On the one hand, we are Turkish citizens. On the other hand, we are the heirs of the victims of the 1915 events, when several dozens of thousands of people was all that has remained from a 200-thousand Armenian community. We have to keep it in mind. Each editor has his "inner censor."
What’s the main problem of the Diaspora?
The main problem is maintenance of the Armenian language. An entire generation can hardly understand and speak Armenian. That is why most of the newspapers are bilingual. Asbarez newspaper has been an exception until recently but now it’s published in three languages: Armenian, English and Spanish. Otherwise, no one will buy Armenian press. During 100 years of existence, our newspaper didn’t lose readers. We present various viewpoints about the events taking place in Armenia and Diaspora.
Do you think that warming in the Armenian-Turkish relations and even opening of the border is possible?
I think we should not fear that opening of the border will damage Armenia’s security. Nations should be in contact; otherwise all the problems will remain unsettled. Normalization depends on Presidents of Armenia and Turkey. A step forward was made. But given current transformations in geopolitics, there is no need to hurry. The developments prompt that borders should be open. The question is when it can happen. Turkey is a pragmatic state. After the war in South Ossetia, the Turkish authorities concluded that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan had better go through Armenia. Ankara understand that Armenia is the most stable and predictable country in the region.
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is the most painful issue in Turley. You said you don’t use this term…
We try to be impartial in this case. As you know this word is a taboo in Turkey. Of course, we remember the 1915 events after which the Armenian people dispersed throughout the globe. But the most important task for is to cover the life of the community, which increased due to the flow of migrants from Armenia. They live and work in Istanbul freely.
True, it’s hard for Christians to live in a Muslim country, although Turkey is a secular state. Furthermore, I should mention that the life in Istanbul and Ankara is different from that in other regions of Turkey. In addition, there is a great-power attitude of mind preserved from the times of the Ottoman Empire… Realizing all this, you will see how hard it is speak of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey.
Is there any news in the Hrant Dink murder case?
The trial will resume in a month but I don’t think there will be anything new. Ogun Samast, the murderer is just a youth. The court has to find out who supported and instigated him. Anyway, things are not moving. A couple of new witnesses were found. We will see…
How does the Armenian community of Istanbul live now?
We try to resolve our problems both on state and community levels. We have a hospital and a school under the aegis of the Constantinople Patriarchate. The EU urged Turkey to return constructions belonging to national minorities. We are allowed to build and reconstruct houses and churches. In two or three years we will have new houses. Life in a community helps to preserve faith, tradition and language.
There is an opinion that the Patriarch of Constantinople is appointed by the Turkish government. Is that true?
No, not at all. The Patriarch is elected by the community council consisting of 99 people. After election, the Patriarch, who is the leader of the national minority, receives a letter from the Cabinet allowing him to dress in compliance with his ecclesiastical rank. The clergymen in Turkey are not allowed to dress in a way revealing their religious belonging. The Armenian and Greek spiritual leaders make an exception. The newly elected Patriarch also receives congratulations from Catholicos of All Armenians, who confirms his election. «PanARMENIAN.Net», 18.09.2008
Round Table On Armenia-Diaspora Relations Held On Initiative Of World Armenian Congress www.nt.am Sep 17, 2008
Yerevan, Armenians Today - Noyan Tapan. On the initiative of the World Armenian Congress (WAC), a round table "The Problems of Armenia-Diaspora Cooperation" dedicated to the problem of Armenian preservation and the mechanisms to implement the Armenian preservation process was organized on September 17.
The participants in the round table held at the WAC Armenian Office discussed such problems as the preservation of the national identity of the Armenian people in Armenia and the Diaspora, the preservation and development of the Armenian people in the rapidly changing world, the formation of a collective national description of Armenians, the protection of language, culture, religion and history as components of the national identity, and the creation of a general Armenian world.
Among participants were the vice president of WAC, chairman of the Democratic Party of Armenia Aram Gaspar Sargsian, the director of Noravank scientific and educational foundation Gagik Harutyunian, the director of IT Foundation Garegin Chugaszian, the chairman of Noyan Tapan media union's council Tigran Harutyunian, candidate of technical sciences Nikita Zarubian, ethnographer, Armenologist Harutyun Marutian, political scientist Suren Movsisian and others.
Turkish People Wishes To Establish Good-Neighborly Relations With Armenian People, Ara Kochunian Says
Yerevan, September 17, Noyan Tapan. The Zhamanak daily of Istanbul, the foundation 100th anniversary of which will be marked on October 28, from the very start has adopted a way to cover everything happening in the Diaspora, in Armenia, and Artsakh. Daily's editor-in-chief Ara Kochunian said at the September 17 press conference.
According to him, publishing an Armenian newspaper in Turkey is already heroism, but it does not mean that they come across any discrimination or other attitude in that country. A. Kochunian expressed the hope that more importance will be attached to freedom of expresssion in Turkey as a result of the reforms carried out in the country in the past years.
Touching upon the Armenian-Turkish relations, A. Kochunian said that Armenia has expressed political will to establish normal and natural relations with its neighbors. "If there is such readiness, we should be more reasonable to ensure contacts in the relations of the two countries," Zhamanak's editor emphasized.
A. Kochunian positively estimates Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Armenia. According to him, it can be a stimulus for establishment of normal relations. According to him, surveys show that the Turkish people has also considered Gul's visit to Armenia as a positive steps and wishes to establish good neighborly relations with the Armenian people.
Commenting upon the publication on the Day.az Azeri site that A. Gul and RA President Serzh Sargsyan spoke about returning the occupied territories, A. Kochunian said that he was in the plane with A. Gul and answering journalists' questions the Turkish President said that he "is not going to Armenia for any proposal and document."
Turkey: Armenia Ties Could End Genocide Resolutions AP September 10, 2008
ANKARA, Turkey: If Turkey and Armenia forge diplomatic ties and are seen to have good relations, other countries could well stop passing resolutions that accuse Ottoman Turks of genocide against their Armenian population during World War I, Turkey's foreign minister said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said in a television interview that after the Turkish president's breakthrough visit to Armenia on Saturday, the two countries had stepped up efforts to resolve their differences.
Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in 1915-18 in Ottoman Turkey in what is widely regarded as the first genocide of the 20th Century. About 20 parliaments have passed resolutions to this effect.
Turkey denies any genocide, saying the death toll has been inflated and the dead were victims of civil war and unrest.
Turkey lobbies vigorously whenever a legislature handles a bill that describes the mass killings as an act of genocide. Last year President George W. Bush narrowly prevented the passage of a nonbinding resolution to that effect in the U.S. Congress. He warned lawmakers that it would imperil Turkey's logistic support for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in protest over its support for Armenians fighting for the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, a Turkish ally. In addition, Armenian nationalists claim the Mount Ararat region of Turkey as western Armenia. But the most contested problem is the massacre of Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
Today in Europe NATO chief says Russia cannot block Georgia membershipRussia slams NATO for "Cold War" visitRussian forces kill 10 militants in Dagestan "If we manage to make rapid progress in our initiative to solve the problems," Babacan told the local channel NTV, "then there will be no need for third country parliaments to discuss these issues. We can tell them: 'Mind your own business. Armenia and Turkey are getting along well.'"
He declined to say which problem the two governments would tackle first, saying all the issues must be laid on the table.
Armenia "has a solution-focussed position," Babacan said. "There is a political will on both sides for a solution."
He added he might take part in a tripartite meeting with the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the upcoming U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Turkey's closure of its border with landlocked Armenia is known to have hurt the smaller country's economy. But Babacan said Turkey and Armenia were still conducting trade worth US$500 million a year, with the goods traveling through Georgia.
Turkish Culture Ministry Wishes To Cooperate With Armenia In Restoration Of The Ruins Of Aniarmradio.am 17.09.2008
Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay responds warmly to Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Bogosyan's call for greater cultural cooperation. "We would like to establish friendly relations with our neighbors," said Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay in an interview with Turkish Daily News, adding that Turkey was ready to embark on more cultural cooperation with Armenia.
"President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan was a significant development in terms of Turkey-Armenia bilateral relations," said Gunay. "At this point, steps Armenia will take are highly significant.
These steps will shape the cultural and political cooperation between the two countries."
Gunay's warm response came shortly after Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosyan called for more cultural cooperation between the two countries in an exclusive interview with the Turkish Daily News last week. "Let's start working collaboratively in the cultural realm to help new generations overcome the trauma," she said.
Gunay said the Turkish Culture Ministry was ready to cooperate with Armenia in the cultural realm if bilateral political relations normalize.
"Hostility benefits no one. Our door is open to everyone. We definitely wish to have cooperation with Armenia's Cultu re Ministry in restoration of the ruins of Ani and unearthing the monastery on Akdamar Island," said Gunay.
A Glance At Armenian Press Freedoms
The Yerevan Press Club monitors Armenian press’ adherence to the principle of objectivity and tracks to what extent it enjoys freedom of expression from the government.
The history of the press in Armenia is one of challenges and tragedies.
Under Soviet rule, Armenian journalists worked under constant pressure, while a courageous few struggled against the regime. Even today, the mysteries surrounding the murders of journalists who fought for freedom of expression at risk of their lives have remained largely unsolved. With the dissolution of the repressive Soviet regime in 1991, Armenia became free to pursue a greater freedom of expression in its press. Yet the situation did not improve much in the newly independent country.
Many journalists remain undefeated. And a group of these free and active journalists came together in 1995 and formed the Yerevan Press Club, which is still the country's only nongovernmental organization dedicated to the media.
The Yerevan Press Club cooperates with a number of international bodies, including the Council of Europe, the Open Society Institute, the International Center for Journalism, the Article 19 and the Media Diversity Institute.
Its president, Boris Navasartyan, who is a graduate of the journalism school at Russia's Rostov University, spoke with the Turkish Daily News about the current situation of the Armenian press, freedom of expression and the industry's understanding of objective journalism.
He criticized the Armenian press for its anti-Azerbaijan and anti-Turkey policies and said the Yerevan Press Club was working to improve the situation.
He expressed a strong sense of devotion to his craft. He said he considered himself a “freelancer,” because “I could not overcome the numerous problems related to the freedom of press if I simply report news, be a typical journalist, remain blind to things going on around me.” So he chose not simply to stay in the office but become a more active in the wider community.
Portrayals of Turkey and Azerbaijan
The heart of the Armenian press beats in Yerevan. The most prominent newspapers in the country are “Aravot” (Morning), “Haygagan Jamanak” (Armenian Time), “Azk” (Nation), “Hayotzs Asxarh” (Armenian World) and “Çorort İşxanutyun” (The Fourth Force).
Some Armenians view some of the papers as predominantly supporters of current President Serge Sarkisian and others as supporters of the first president of Armenia, Levon Der Petrosian. “The press has almost no affect on the political agenda in Armenia,” said Navasartyan.
“Citizens are mainly informed through television. But the information provided to them does not meet people's needs. Essentially, people in Armenia are not provided enough news and information,” he said.
But while the papers may be politically neutral, domestically, Navasartyan was more critical of the media's stance towards Armenia's neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan. “Press here in Armenia portray Azerbaijan and Turkey as two ancient enemies.”
He said the Yerevan Press Club had formed connections with colleagues in Azerbaijan to try to improve the situation. “When reporting about news on Azerbaijan and Turkey, how you portray the persons and the way, the tone you report is very important,” he added.
He said a reporting style that was not objective and based on prejudgments simply fuels the hostility between the two peoples.
Navasartyan said the club collaborates with Turkish journalists as well. He said, however, it was difficult to compare the media in the two countries, as the landscape remains very different. “Turkey took a great leap in the name of freedom of press. But the Armenian press is just at the beginning of the way.”
Armenian government sensitive to criticism
Navasartyan also said the organization has struggled with its relationship with many governments in Armenia. “Governments do not want us to criticize them. They do whatever they can to prevent counter-voices. They want the Yerevan Press Club, a strong institution, not positioned against them but by their side,” he said.
The principle of objectivity and neutrality is the Yerevan Press Club's core principle, he said, concluding, “Our struggle is fundamentally for neutrality and for an independent and democratic Armenia free of prejudices.”
YEREVAN-Vercihan Ziflioğlu September 18, 2008
The Secret Negotiations Between Armenia And Turkey Have Resumed In Switzerland 18 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
According to the Turkish press behind the scenes diplomacy between Ankara and Yerevan continues this week in Switzerland with the third round of meetings between senior diplomats from both countries. Diplomats are trying to complete a draft joint statement to be issued after the tripartite summit between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to be held in New York in late September.
The under-secretary of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ertugrul Apakan and his deputy, Unal Çevikoz, have travelled to Switzerland late Sunday evening to meet their Armenian counterparts in Berne, which has already hosted the first two rounds of talks in May and July .
According to the daily Hurriyet the positive atmosphere created after the first meeting between President Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serge Sarkissian September 6 paved the way for a more comprehensive discussion on important issues.
Turkish diplomatic sources say that Armenia is ready to give its green light for a joint commission of historians to study the events of 1915 but that preparations will take at least one year in view of the need to establish the mechanism that will allow verification of documents in the archives and the choice of members.
The participation of experts from third countries and that a representative of an international institution is also under discussion. "The official announcement to establish a committee will facilitate Turkey's position facing the resolutions of alleged genocide in many countries," said a Turkish official who wished to remain anonymous referring to the initiatives of countries like the United States, U.S., Canada, France and Argentina.
The joint efforts are also on the verge of reaching new committees to work on economic affairs and culture to accelerate the normalization of relations. There are those Armenian hopes of a rapid opening of the border but on this subject Ankara expects simultaneous progress on other fronts including the establishment of the commission of historians before going farther and proceeding to initiate of the border.
The settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh stands out as the key problem in order to facilitate reconciliation and the opening of the border.
Ankara has welcomed the initiative of Armenian President to talk about the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh during his first meeting with Abdullah Gül. "This is an important indicator that Armenia now also recognizes a connection between the Karabakh conflict and normalization of relations with Turkey," said a Turkish official.
However Ankara considers unrealistic to expect a quick result before the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan on October 15.
The Survivors Of The Genocide Of Armenians And Their Heirs Intentent A New Joint Trial 18 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
Los Angeles, CA September 2008
The descendants of survivors of the Genocide of Armenians intentent a new trial, this time against collective Aviva, a British insurance company, the successor of Norwich Union & Commercial Union, companies have sold insurance in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).
Eighty thirteen years after the tragedy of the Genocide of Armenians, a joint trial is brought to recover the capital of life insurance whose payment was unjustly "chosen".
Aviva is the eleventh insurance company pursued on behalf of victims of the Genocide of Armenians.
Vartkes Yeghiayan and his law firm, Yeghiayan & Associates, are the descendants of victims of the Genocide of Armenians in this new joint trial, as they did during the proceedings: Marootian against New York Life Insurance Company, Kyurkjian against Axa, Movsesian against Victoria Versicherung AG & Deirmenjian against Deutsche Bank.
From 1880 to 1915, Armenians living in Western Armenia (Turkey) bought life insurance and fire of European and American companies. This case concerns those who have bought policies from Norwich Union and Commercial Union.
On 24 April 1915, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) is launching a systematic campaign of annihilation of the Armenians, through a process of deportation and massacre of the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1922, approximately two million Armenians perished.
Among the victims, there are those who have purchased life insurance and fire Norwich Union and Commercial Union.
Despite requests repétées these companies refuse to pay the amounts budgeted. Yeghiayan & Associates request a federal court to order the companies to identify their customers Armenian, publish their names so that their beneficiaries receive the capital of these life insurance.
Vartkes Yeghiayan adds "& Aviva its subsidiaries have retained for 93 years millions of dollars that belong to the beneficiaries of victims of the Armenian Genocide. No society should take advantage of genocide, but so far Aviva has done nothing to find the names of those entitled and settle their dues. With this federal trial, we want to motivate and bring justice to victims of the Armenian Genocide. "
20th Anniversary Of Nagorno Karabagh Movement Marked At Capitol Hill Program
-- Special Guest Mark Geragos Joined by More than Ten Members of Congress; Community Leadership; Armenia and NKR Diplomatic Corps
-- Geragos Challenges Congress to Provide at least $100 Million to Artsakh
WASHINGTON, DC - Members of Congress joined together on a bipartisan basis this evening to mark the 20th anniversary of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (Artsakh) freedom movement, at a Capitol Hill program headlined by prominent lawyer and humanitarian Mark Geragos, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The evening, titled "Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Artsakh: 20 Years of Freedom, Democracy and Progress," was hosted by the Congressional Caucus of Armenian Issues in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabagh Representation in the U.S., and Armenian American organizations.
"As a community deeply devoted to Artsakh's security, we are pleased to be joined by our Congressional friends at today's Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabagh's hard-won freedom," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We take from this event an added measure of devotion to standing up against Azerbaijani and Caspian energy interests, increasing developmental aid to Nagorno Karabagh, zeroing-out military aid to Azerbaijan, and breaking down the artificial barriers to U.S.-Artsakh dialogue."
Throughout the evening, Members of Congress offered remarks congratulating Nagorno Karabagh -- praising its commitment to democracy, peace and stability, and citing it as an example for other countries in the region. Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), who served as Masters of Ceremony for the evening, offered moving remarks along with Reps. Shelly Berkley (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), George Radanovich (R-CA), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Tim Walz (D-MN).
The event invocation was offered by His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S., while a special presentation on the Nagorno Karabagh liberation movement was made by His Eminence Archbishop Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern U.S. In recognition of Congressional support for Artsakh, the Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs were given a special book of letters and drawing prepared by the children of Artsakh, presented by Ms. Nelly Martirosyan, who had recently spent over two months working with youth there.
In his keynote address, Geragos challenged Members of Congress to increase their support for Nagorno Karabagh, calling the $30 million in U.S. assistance allocated to date to Nagorno Karabagh insufficient, and asserting that this aid package, to a democratic nation in a troubled region, should be at least at the $100 million level.
Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian and NKR Representative in the U.S. Vardan Barseghian provided insight on the current peace talks over Nagorno Karabagh and the ongoing commitment of both countries to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. A special video marking the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement, prepared by film-maker and documentary producer Peter Musurlian, highlighted the economic progress and strengthening of democracy in the Republic. The evening concluded with moving remarks by human rights activist Kathryn Porter, a frequent visitor to Artsakh who has shared trying and triumphant moments with the women of Artsakh during and after the conflict in the region.
VP Nominee Reiterates Support for Armenians at Democratic Convention By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier
Now that both political parties have selected their presidential and vice presidential nominees, we can better judge which side is more supportive of Armenian issues.
As the Democratic National Convention came to a close last Thursday night, Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden, briefly met at a private reception with a large and enthusiastic group of supporters.
As they were hastily making the rounds and shaking the hands of supporters, my young son, Aram, told Sen. Biden: "Thank you for your commitment to the Armenian community." Sen. Biden, looking squarely in his eyes, emphatically replied: "I don't know anybody more committed than me."
Those who have followed Sen. Biden's distinguished career in the U.S. Senate have no doubt about the accuracy and sincerity of his statement. Not surprisingly, ever since his vice presidential nomination over a week ago, the Turkish press has published dozens of hysterical articles about Sen. Biden's long-standing "anti-Turkish" and "pro-Armenian" positions.
Topping Sen. Biden's solid pro-Armenian record, Sen. Obama himself has repeatedly made supportive statements on Armenian issues, which explain why Turks and Azerbaijanis prefer Sen. McCain who refuses to acknowledge the Genocide. The best example of Sen. Obama's strong commitment to the truth manifested itself during his visit to Baku in 2005, when he was harassed by Azeri journalists for having sent a letter to Pres. Bush asking him to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Instead of ducking the issue, Sen. Obama boldly told the irritated Azeris that the Armenian Genocide was a historic fact and that "killing civilians anywhere in the world should not be allowed."
Although we need to be weary of promises made by politicians, Armenian-Americans no longer need to beg presidential candidates to acknowledge the Genocide. That was already accomplished by Pres. Reagan back in 1981. Just as the Jewish community does not ask presidential candidates to say Holocaust, Armenians do not need to ask them to say Genocide either.
However, should a candidate refuse to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, as is the case with Sen. McCain who voted against a Senate Resolution on this issue sponsored by Sen. Bob Dole in 1990, Armenian-Americans should condemn him rather than support him. In a statement Sen. McCain issued earlier this year, he referred to the Armenian Genocide as "painful experiences," "tragedy" and "brutal murder." How many American Jews do you think would vote for a presidential candidate who would dare to call the Holocaust mere "killings" or a "massacre?" Since Sen. McCain is adamantly refusing to acknowledge the Armenian Genoc ide in a close race when he needs every vote to win, the chances are slim to none that he would use the term "genocide," after he becomes President!
Therefore, voting for Sen. McCain should be out of question for any self-respecting Armenian who cares about the Armenian Cause. As to Sen. Obama, we should expect him to do much more than merely acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. He should be asked to increase foreign aid to Armenia and Artsakh, pressure Turkey and Azerbaijan to lift their blockades of Armenia, denounce the violations of civil, cultural and religious rights of the Armenian minority in Turkey, urge Turkey and Azerbaijan to preserve Armenian historic and religious monuments, and appoint qualified Armenian-Americans to senior positions in his administration.
In my opinion, there is a clear contrast between the two presidential candidates. Sen. Obama stands for change, while Sen. McCain is for the continuation of Pres. Bush's failed policies.
Those who vote for Sen. McCain, they would be voting for four more years of Armenian Genocide denial by the White House and the State Department, continued blockade of Armenia by Turkey and Azerbaijan, and an increased threat to Artsakh's survival by an emboldened Azerbaijan.
Beyond Armenian affairs, Sen. McCain's election would negatively impact important issues affecting America and the world, such as: U.S. troops remaining in Iraq indefinitely; possible American military involvement in new wars in Iran and Georgia; more U.S. soldiers losing their lives around the globe for no good reason; trillions of dollars added to the national debt; millions of Americans joining the poverty rolls; more Americans without health insurance; and more terrorism around the world.
Sen. Obama may not be able to deliver on all of his promised changes, but at least he won't make the situation any worse than it is now!
Despite Their Turbulent Past, Armenia And Turkey Are Beginning To Take Baby Steps Toward Each Other Sergey Markedonov, Special to Russia Profile
On the surface, it appears that Armenia and Turkey, whose trenchant relations stand out as the most bitter in the Southern Caucasus, are now making gestures of reconciliation toward one another, precisely by holding a soccer match between their teams. However, the prospects of a brighter future for both nations are inescapably viewed – and thus, impeded -- by the ghost of an ever-present past, as the issues of the “Armenian genocide” and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remain unresolved.
Professional sport has once again demonstrated that it can be an important political factor. The first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying round, on September 6 was a poignant occasion as the Armenian soccer players took on Turkey’s national team (the Euro 2008 bronze medalists, along with Russia). The return game between the two sides will also take place in the fall, a year from now.
This soccer match is wedged within the context of trenchant historical and political conflicts between the two nations. Let us remember that Armenia and Turkey have no formal diplomatic relations at present. Ankara also maintains a land blockade of Armenia (350 kilometers of the border was closed in 1993), but airplanes do fly between the two states (the Yerevan-Istanbul route was launched in 1996). Turkey supports Azerbaijan’s position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, participates in the training of the Azeri officer corps, and carries out transportation projects to circumvent Armenia (the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Tbilisi-Kars railroad project); it also officially denies the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In Armenia, these events are central to the country’s historiography, collective memory and spiritual culture.
So, on September 6, an event of great historical importance took place in the Armenian-Turkish bilateral relations. Abdullah Gul, the president of Turkey, visited the Armenian capital of Yerevan, accepting the invitation of his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan to attend the World Cup qualifying match. It is reasonable to think, however, that no revolutionary changes have emerged in the relationship between two states that have accumulated a huge joint list of mutual complaints and grievances. However, the mere fact that the leaders of Turkey and Armenia were able to put aside the main dishes on their political menus and see the normalization of relations as important already says a lot.
At the moment, key issues such as the Armenian Genocide, the occupation of Azeri lands beyond the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenian armed forces, Turkey's land blockade of Armenia and Ankara's support of Azerbaijan have not been discussed. There have been declarations made in the spirit of political correctness, emphasizing good will. Following the meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Serzh Sargsyan said: “We have expressed the hope that we are capable of showing good will in order to solve existing problems and not pass them on to later generations.” Abdullah Gul, in turn, used similar words to underline the following: “We expressed the political will to create an atmosphere fit to solve the problems that exist between Armenia and Turkey. I hope that this visit will open up great possibilities for us.” As Mikhail Gorbachev would say in such situations, “the process has begun.”
Parallels between Sargsyan and the first (and last) president of the Soviet Union have already been drawn in Armenia. Many consider the decision to receive the head of the Turkish Republic in Yerevan as an unjustified political concession. According to some representatives of the opposition, Sargsyan has been forced to demonstrate amiability toward Ankara because he is an heir of the Robert Kocharyan regime, which opted for the use of force in repressing opposition protests in March of this year, thus putting Armenia's foreign policy in a vulnerable position. Now he has to compensate for domestic failures on the foreign stage--rather strange logic if we take into account that it was during Kocharyan's two terms that relations between Armenia and Turkey were almost completely frozen. It was Kocharyan who announced publicly that if he were president of Armenia, he would not allow the Turkish leader's visit to Yerevan.
Even inside the ruling coalition, Gul's visit was met with far from universal enthusiasm. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation “Dashnaktsutyun” (ARFD), the republic's oldest political force and a party to the ruling coalition, spoke out against the visit. The party organized mass protests with the slogans “Armenia remembers everything” and “Turkey must recognize the Genocide.” It seems that a certain part of the Armenian government apparatus (which does not participate in public polemics) likewise has its own views on the question of improving relations with Turkey. And these views are not held in the spirit of the “new thinking.”
In Turkey, however, things are also far from idyllic. Gul's decision to go to Yerevan provoked an ambiguous reaction from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish premier is worried that the president's trip will fuel harsh oppositionist criticism of official authorities. Quite naturally, representatives of extreme nationalist forces have already labeled Gul a “traitor.”
In truth, Sargsyan was not the first to propose a “thawing” of relations with Turkey, and neither was Gul. It emerged in the early stages of the development of independent Armenian governance, and for very objective reasons. The armed conflict with Azerbaijan and complex relations with Georgia (due to the Georgia-Abkhazian conflict, into which the Armenian community in Abkhazia was drawn, as well as the complicated Armenian-Georgian relations in Djavakheti) isolated Armenia. In this light, a confrontation with powerful Turkey (whose army is second in NATO to that of the United States, while its multilateral ties with Turkic-language Azerbaijan are more than obvious) did not present Yerevan with the best scenario. As for Turkey, “the formation of new independent states in the Caucasus at the end of the Cold War increased Ankara’s importance, while at the same time creating serious risks,” as noted by Mustaf Aydin of the Turkish National Security Academy. “The fall of the Soviet Union rid Turkey of a century-old Soviet/Russian threat, but at the same time it created a power vacuum on its borders.”
This is why, in 1992, Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan met with Suleiman Demirel (the Prime Minister of Turkey at the time). In the course of their meetings, the problem of settling the Karabakh conflict was discussed. However, the aggravation of the military situation on the Karabakh front in 1993 and, ultimately, the military defeat of Azerbaijan led to an estrangement between Turkey and Armenia. Ankara accused Armenia of aggression against Azerbaijan and of supporting Kurdish terrorist organizations. The result was the beginning of Turkey’s land blockade of Armenia.
At the same time, despite any action taken by Turkey, Yerevan did not give up hopes of overcoming the mutual rift. In 1995, in a speech dedicated to the 80th anniversary of “Yegerna” (the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in Armenian historiographic terms), president Ter-Petrosyan blamed the genocide on the “Young Turk” regime, not on the Turkish people. When Ter-Petrosyan left office, the official Yerevan position became much harsher. When speaking at the 53rd UN session, Armenia’s second president Robert Kocharyan attempted to bring the “Armenian issue” back into the field of international politics; the issue was expelled in 1923.
Thus Sargsyan is not a pioneer in this area. He is trying to repeat the experience of the early 1990s. At the same time, we should not see his “new thinking” as altruism and compassion for mankind. Sargsyan operates in the state’s national interests. He is keen on opening up the borders to minimize Armenia’s isolation, and to break up the ties between Baku and Ankara. This would make the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict a matter of the two countries of Southern Caucasus; therefore, Turkey’s role would not be that of “Azerbaijan’s fan and supporter.” It would also become a positive background for the West (the criticisms addressed at Armenia for its stubbornness and lack of diplomatic progress in relations with its neighbors could be hushed up).
Incidentally, Turkey also has its own reasons for historical reconciliation. Firstly, Turkish foreign policy in the last few years has taken a very clear European angle. The European Union is always very positive about saying goodbye to the past (especially if this parting is carried out amicably). Meanwhile, the “Armenian issue” greatly complicates Turkey’s record in bolstering its candidacy for EU membership. Secondly, progress in relation to Armenia will add a positive dynamic to the rocky American-Turkish relationship. Thirdly, there are economic reasons as well. It should be noted that Turkey’s regional officials and businessmen have on numerous occasions spoken publicly in support of developing economic contacts with Armenia. However, there are also serious obstacles on the way toward mutual understanding.
An important issue that unsettles the bilateral relationship is the problem of interpreting the events of 1915 by the politicians and historians of the two countries. For Armenia, the events of 1915 are termed as genocide (some of the historical research extends the genocide period, adding to it the Armenian-Turkish wars during Armenia’s first independence in 1918-1920 and the political actions at the end of the 19th century). Alexander Iskandaryan, director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, has noted that “a great part of the population of today’s Armenia is made up of descendants of the Armenians who survived the genocide. Mostly it was the people who were able to somehow make it across the border to the territory of the Russian Empire.” Iskandaryan added that as a result of all this, “there are verbally preserved histories that live in the families, told to children in one form or another.” In Turkey, the events of 1915 are seen either as deportation, or as a “massacre,” or as a “resettlement of Armenians.” In the last few years, the events of the early 20th century have also been interpreted as an ethnic conflict or a civil war (especially since the Armenians residing within the Ottoman Empire were its nationals). Moreover, there have been quite a few books published in Turkey that assess the 1915 events precisely as genocide. This is something that used to be impossible to imagine.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also puts Armenia and Turkey on opposite sides. In the early 1990s, Turkey was able to avoid a direct participation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation (although the public opinion inside Turkey demanded a greater involvement). However, the conflict served to highlight Ankara’s interests in the Caucasus. This was the conflict that forced Ankara to close off its land border with Armenia (which increased Armenia’s economic and geopolitical isolation). Up until now, Ankara has been demanding concessions from Yerevan in Karabakh as an important condition for opening up the border. But this is a price Armenia is not willing to pay today.
So far Yerevan is willing to make minimal concessions. Armenia’s Football Federation changed its logo for the qualifying round match, removing the image of Mount Ararat (a place of sacred, symbolic importance for all Armenians, despite its location with Turkey). However, concessions in soccer are not equal to giving up Karabakh or the genocide of 1915.
And this is how both sides have presently chosen the tactics of “small acts.” Without daring to make drastic breakthroughs, the two nations, immersed in the most complicated context of bilateral relations, are trying to simply initiate a normalized dialogue. This is already a major breakthrough in itself, considering the overarching historical context. Perhaps this model of optimization will become a pattern for other states of the Greater Caucasus as well.
Sergey Markedonov, Ph.D., is the head of the Interethnic Relations Department at Moscow’s Institute of Political and Military Analysis.
Muslim Cleric And Armenian Priest United In All But Headgear, Vercihan Ziflioglu, Turkish Daily News, September 15, 2008
A ceramic jug produced in Kütahya in the 18th century displays the figure of an Armenian priest and a Muslim cleric standing side by side, embracing each other as a symbol of friendship
The Islamic call to prayer and the tolling of church bells have echoed together on Anatolian lands for centuries. Peoples of different ethnicities, cultures and faiths once lived in peace on Ottoman territory before a sense of nationalism grew and undermined the tradition of fraternity.
But a ceramic jug dating back to the 18th century remains as a small symbol of that co-existence and brotherhood.
The unique jug, a secret treasure, is item No. 6 in a permanent collection, titled “Kütahya and Ceramics,” displayed at the Pera Museum. The exhibition was founded in the name of Suna Kiraç and I.nan K?raç in 2005. The ceramic jug, attracting attention with its strong colors and figures, is the most precious piece in the collection.
As Turks and Armenians look for ways to overcome past trauma and achieve reconciliation, the ceramic jug, produced 300 years ago in the Kütahya province of Turkey, offers a message of peace. The jug displays figures of an Armenian priest and a Muslim cleric standing side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder and embracing each other. The two religious figures differ from one another only in their headgear. The Christian cleric wears a black hat, as the Muslim cleric wears a white turban.
Edine Süleymanoglu, who is responsible for the collection, spoke to the Turkish Daily News regarding the piece. Süleymanoglu said Armenian craftsmen's works were the first examples of the art of ceramics in Anatolia.
Asked how one can identify that the Christian figure displayed on the jug was an Armenian priest, Süleymanoglu said, “It is quite clear. The way he dresses and the type of headgear he wears reflect typical priest's attire in Armenian culture.”
Turkish-Islamic vs Armenian ceramics
The art of ceramics first emerged in the Anatolian region in the late 16th century. Masterpieces of ceramic art were produced in the prominent provinces of I.znik and Kütahya.
“Ceramics produced in I.znik were mostly used in palaces and mosques. But those produced in Kütahya became part of people's daily life,” Süleymanoglu said. Armenian craftsmen produced the best examples of ceramics in Kütahya, she noted.
“Armenian craftsmen passed onto Turkish craftsmen the fine points of the art of ceramics and tips on making details and figures,” she added.
What differentiate the Turkish-Islamic art of ceramics from the Armenian art of ceramics are the dominant images.
“Islamic art restricts displaying figures. That is the reason Islamic works of ceramics display motifs of flowers, trees, birds and angels. But the Armenian art of ceramics mainly used figures of angels, saints, Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary as well as figures representing nature and daily life,” she said.
Kütahya's ceramics take their color from nature
Ceramics produced in Kütahya differ from those traditionally produced in I.znik in terms of the vibrancy of their colors. “Kütahya is located in the middle of Anatolia and has a rich floral landscape. Colors used in ceramics are extracted from nature,” said Süleymanoglu.
She said the jug was attractive because it had strong colors and was decorated with details as well as various figures. Its motifs represent both Turkish-Islamic and Christian-Armenian art.
Süleymanoglu highlighted the image of unity presented by the two figures standing side-by-side:
“In the Ottoman tradition, that type of hugging, in which one of the arms comes over one of the shoulders of the person hugged, is a symbol of friendship. If a priest and a Muslim cleric – top level figures in two big religions – are so close to each other, this is definitely proof of friendship between the Christian and Muslim peoples.”
Süleymanoglu drew the attention to the headgear worn by the figures of the Armenian priest and the Muslim cleric as another symbol of the similarities between the two peoples. “In both Islam and Christianity, heads should be covered before God. Thus, both figures on the jug have covered heads.”
Turkish Press Sept 13 2008 Sowing The Seeds By Soli Ozel
SABAH- The crisis in the Caucasus has shifted almost all actors' strategic calculations and also led to unexpected lessons. For example, Russia, which won the war, is now facing unprecedented pressure. Since the start of the conflict the value of Russia's stock exchange plummeted $290 billion and it also lost capital totaling $21 billion. Now we're no longer talking about the Soviet Union, which opted out of capitalism, and so Russian capitalists and elite have to deal with these realities of life. Official statements saying that relations with NATO would continue should be evaluated with this in mind.
Following the crisis, the US started to take diplomatic measures using its limited power and possibilities in the region. Its reaction was moderate. The US found it necessary to send money in order to protect Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's power and restore the country, because US foreign policy can't risk a big conflict with Russia. So a policy of reconciliation emerging in this context should come as no surprise. In this respect, Turkey's moves show a search for diplomacy in line with the new balances and realities in the region.
If President Abdullah Gul's recent visit to Armenia yields results, so frustrating opponents of the move, and diplomatic relations are established, Ankara will be able to play a founding role in new regional equations. According to a survey done by Metropoll, a large majority of the Turkish public approved of the visit and wants Turkish-Armenian relations to improve. So if the government continues this initiative, it won't incur a political cost, but will win many points both at home and abroad.
If this initiative is supported by Russia, as Sabah daily's Yavuz Baydar claims, we can say that all the actors in the region are looking for a new balance. The emergence of a structure from this search, which is the aim of the Caucasian cooperation platform proposed by Turkey, will require complex diplomatic moves, political determination, and good will. After Georgia, Azerbaijan is the country which has suffered the most from this conflict. As Paul Goble of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy wrote, 10 assumptions which shaped Baku's foreign policy in the post-Cold War era have collapsed. Among these is the assumption that Turkey would support Azerbaijan against Russia.
As Goble wrote, of course Turkey wouldn't withhold its support in countering threats to Azerbaijan. But Azerbaijan must have realized that unsolved problems could one day explode just like a land mine. Accordingly, solving the Karabakh issue carries great importance. During his current visit to Azerbaijan, Gul should explain the Armenia initiative to reassure the Azeris. So the three countries' foreign ministers' plan to meet during the UN General Assembly in New York is right in this respect, but Turkey's efforts alone aren't enough to solve this issue. Obviously, the US, which placed great importance on the Armenia visit, will support efforts to find a solution. If Russia does the same, this will ensure that Turkey's efforts bear fruit.
Pressured By Washington And Brussels, Turkey Has Long Ago Opened Its Airspace For Humanitarian Aid For Armenia. Day.az website, Azerbaijan Sept 9 2008
Apparently, land frontier is on the waiting list now
A Day.az interview with prominent political expert Rasim Musabayov.
[Correspondent] The Armenian-Turkish borders may be opened for humanitarian aid, and this depends on "gestures of the Armenian side and the development of the relations". Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper has reported with reference to diplomatic sources. What could this mean? What does "humanitarian aid" mean?
Borders opened for humanitarian aid for a long time
[Musabayov] As a matter of fact, pressured by Washington and Brussels, Ankara has long ago opened its airspace for the humanitarian aid for Armenia. Apparently, the land frontier is on the waiting list now. The delivery of goods transported to Armenia as part of the many-millioned aid sent by the USA and the EU is borne in mind. The matter is that the use of other routes raises the transport prices highly. US congressmen have repeatedly suggested deducting this cost from the aid allocated for Turkey although this did not reach that point. Now by all appearances, Ankara in the capacity of softening relations with Yerevan is ready as a sign of goodwill to open borders for similar cargoes. "Humanitarian aid" for Armenia is not only food and medicine but also equipment, materials and so on.
[Correspondent] Abdullah Gul is arriving in Baku tomorrow. Further he will pay a visit to the USA. Will this visit be connected with the latest trip of the Turkish president to Yerevan, since, as the president of Turkey said they had discussed the Nagornyy Karabakh issue in the course of his [6 September] visit to Armenia?
[Musabayov] On part of Baku, this is beyond any doubt. The trustful and close nature of our relations with Turkey assume not only informing the Azerbaijani leadership about the content of the negotiations between Ankara and Armenia but also taking into consideration of our concerns and interests in the context of the Karabakh conflict. As for Gul's visit to Washington, apart from coordinating his latest initiative with Americans, it is important for him to establish beforehand contacts with candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties in the upcoming US November presidential elections.
Gul promotes Erdogan's new initiative
[Correspondent] Political experts maintain that Ankara has been working towards the restoration of its role as a regional power with which was also connected the visit to Yerevan of the Turkish president as well as the proposal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to establish a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform. Do you agree with this?
[Musabayov] As a matter of fact, the role of Turkey in its capacity as a regional power is recognized, if not by all, then by many, and firstly, by the European powers and the USA. Another issue in question is that Ankara often comes forward with foreign policy initiatives, clearly articulating own interests and a vision of the development of the region and the world, without satisfying itself with going along quietly with the policy of the USA with regard to the Near East, Iran and the South Caucasus.
Nevertheless, the visit of President Gul to Yerevan, the initiative of Prime Minister Erdogan with regard to the Caucasus Stability and Security Platform in the South Caucasus are not only the reflection of the growing ambitions of Turkey. Most likely, we are observing an attempt of Ankara to initiatively react to rather dangerous challenges and crisis in the region, because of the Russian interference in Georgia and the actual annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
For Turkey, the confrontational scenarios of the development of the situation in the South Caucasus, by turning this region into the battle field between Russia and the West is fraught with huge risks and losses. You know that as a single member of NATO with direct borders with the South Caucasus, Turkey risks to turn into a frontal state. And exactly for this reason, the main burden of human and financial losses falls on Turkey. Obviously, such a prospect does not gladden Ankara and therefore, it is undertaking efforts to start dialogue with Moscow and the South Caucasus countries to reduce the degree of tension and to somehow, ease the situation.
Therefore, even if the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform in the South Caucasus initiated by Erdogan is not realized (this is likely to be so) and the negotiations with Armenia yield no concrete results, the process of intensive dialogue at the moment of the crisis will create absorbing effect and be useful.
Armenia facing tough choices
[Correspondent] Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan at a meeting with his Turkish counterpart confirmed Armenia's position about its readiness to establish relations with Turkey without preconditions. Could it mean that currently Yerevan is ready to slow down the recognition of the "genocide of Armenians" and become more compliant in the issue of Karabakh?
[Musabayov] Well, this is not a brand new position and it does not at all mean a refusal from the policy of advancing the process of recognition of "the genocide of Armenians" or flexibility in the Karabakh issue. In the issue of the "genocide", Yerevan alludes to the diaspora, and as for the Karabakh conflict, it pins secret hopes that Ankara, in exchange for the refusal from direct claims on Turkey, will depart from its principled position of supporting Azerbaijan and even puts pressure on Baku for the purpose of inclining it to acceptable for the Armenians compromises. However, although Armenians boast, their state is far from being enviable.
The events in Georgia have demonstrated Armenia's extreme vulnerability which found itself in the transport blockade for the first time. They began to sell gasoline with coupons in Yerevan. If this lasted a little bit longer, there would have been interruptions with food and products. Winter lies ahead. If relations between Tbilisi and Moscow remain confrontational, then Armenian transit via Georgia to Russia will have to be forgotten.
Well, this means that there would be no Russian gas, it would be impossible to deliver fuel elements for the nuclear power station. Winter lies ahead, moreover, as has already been made public, the Metsamor nuclear power plant is suspended for a three-month scheduled preventive repairs. So the Armenian rulers have reasons to be anxious, moreover, the opposition and wide layers of the public do not recognize the legitimacy of the ruling regime. The opening of the Armenian-Turkish borders could become vitally important for Yerevan, and Ankara has to maximum use the circumstance and avoid making a bad bargain of the negotiations under way.
Gentle gestures by Turkey towards Armenia possible
[Correspondent] Do you think Ankara would agree to the opening of the borders with Yerevan despite the unsettled status of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict for the purpose of implementing own national interests of Turkey in the region?
[Musabayov] I assume that as a gesture of goodwill, Ankara may open borders for "humanitarian" goods, permit limited amount of border trade and mutual visits of citizens. The further will depend on reaction of Yerevan. The establishment of diplomatic relations does not mean the recognition of the existing borders by Armenia.
Therefore, it is important for Turkey to have exactly registered Yerevan's refusal from the territorial and other claims. In this case, the level of activity of the diaspora to advance the recognition of the "genocide" may create only image problems for Turkey but nothing more. The territorial claims, obstacles to join the European Union and so on have some strength and sense only in that case when they are backed by a concrete state, a subject of the international relations.
As for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations to the detriment of Azerbaijan and our interests in the issue of the Karabakh settlement, even if such thoughts occur to someone's mind, then Gul and Erdogan are enough experienced and well-versed in politics to risk strategic alliance with us for the sake of fugacious dividends. The Turkish public opinion, the military, the opposition would not allow a cynical bargaining at the expense of the Azerbaijani brothers.
Nevertheless, I would urge the critics of Abdullah Gul to think over the fact that without adjusting dialogue with Yerevan, without certain easing of the relations with Armenia, Turkey cannot pretend to a role of a mediator in the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict.
Bearing in mind that after Russia's actions in Georgia, the relations between the USA and the European Union are tense and the activities of the Minsk Group have been paralysed, Moscow is demonstrating its intention to take the process of the Karabakh settlement to own hands. In order not to remain a third party observer in this process, Turkey has to look for new opportunities to boost its role in the capacity of the regional power which we are observing now.
It is difficult to predict whether or not those diplomatic manoeuvres of Ankara would be productive. I do not rule out that Russia would wish to see Ankara in a role of extra or second on the South Caucasus scene on which it sees itself the patron. I am afraid that if Turkey acts independently, without support of its traditional allies in the person of the USA and NATO, it would come true.
Russia may step up role in the Karabakh conflict resolution
[Correspondent] Moscow has been recently proactive with regard to Azerbaijan. Does Russia really intend to bring the process of the Karabakh settlement under own control?
[Musabayov] To all appearances, this is the case. The latest events related to Georgia showed that it is impossible to retain deep-rooted ethno-territorial conflicts in a "frozen" state. If a new Armenian-Azerbaijani war breaks out, it would be much more dangerous and large-scaled than the latest hostilities in Georgia. It is unknown whether or not Turkey would remain indifferent which means in this case a large-scaled war threatening with unpredictable consequences. Such a development of the events is fraught with dangers and undesirable for everyone. The activities of the OSCE Minsk Group have been practically paralysed due to behaviour of Russia and the tension in her relations with the USA and the EU.
Under such conditions, Moscow intends to take the process of the settlement under its control in order, first, to demonstrate the whole world that it may act not only in a negative way but is also able to play a constructive and peacemaking role. Second, after the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia has frozen relations with Georgia for a long time. Consequently, the transit of military cargo not only by land but also with the use of airspace of Georgia becomes impossible. As a result, the Russian outpost of Armenia remains isolated. Russia can only open the communications towards Armenia once there is a progress in the Karabakh settlement, minimum, after the liberation of the occupied districts around Nagornyy Karabakh. At the same time, Russia intends to strengthen its political and economic positions in Azerbaijan through productive mediation mission and make Baku owing to her.
It is hard to say whether or not the Russian mediation would yield positive outcome. The whole previous experience makes us to treat it sceptically.. Russia has no levers to exert pressure on Azerbaijan, whereas Moscow did not want to pressurize Armenia up until now. There is a tiny chance that the Kremlin rulers will be able to persuade [Armenian President] Serzh Sargsyan to agree (with some changes) to the stage-by-stage plan of the OSCE Minsk Group turned down by [the former Armenian president, Robert] Kocharyan.
Well, it is fine if this happens and the process of the settlement would be moved from a dead point. If not, Azerbaijan does not need to play at giveaway with Moscow and Armenia. Let us wait and follow events worldwide and the regional geopolitics of the South Caucasus and expand the area for Baku's manoeuvres.
Ak Party Executive Says Turkey Will Not Accept Any Pre-condition In Its Relations With Armenia 9/14/2008
ANKARA - An executive of the governing Justice & Development (AK) Party has said that Turkey would never accept a pre-condition of recognition of some Armenian circles` allegations about incidents of 1915 to improve its relations with Armenia.
Speaking at the panel discussion "Whither Turkey" hosted by the Eastern Institute during the Krynica Economic Forum, one of the most prestigious forums in eastern Europe, in Polish capital city of Warsaw, Egemen Bagis, deputy chairman of the AK Party, said, "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed Armenia to establish a joint commission with the participation of the third countries and to open archives. Armenia has not yet given a response to Turkey`s proposal."
"Turkish President Abdullah Gul`s paying a visit to Armenia upon invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsian is the most concrete sign of Turkey`s good-will. On the other hand, more than 1 million documents examined upon directives of Turkey proved that those bitter events were not genocide, but a civil war during a world war."
Bagis added that Turkey would never accept a pre-condition of recognition of some Armenian circles` allegations about incidents of 1915 to improve its relations with Armenia.(UK)
Turkey’s New Diplomatic Confidence Signifies Changing Role As Regional Power By Dennis Sammut*
The recent crisis in the Caucasus has seen an upsurge of Turkish diplomatic activity in the region, including an initiative to launch a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform and an opening up to Armenia.
They are the latest in a series of initiatives by Turkish diplomacy that many observers perceive to be part of an increasingly sophisticated and successful foreign policy enhancing the country’s role as a regional and global player. Other examples are the role that Turkey is playing to broker a deal between Israel and Syria, the enhanced political dialogue with Iran, and the development of deeper relations with the Gulf Arab states.
It is true that one needs to put all the flurry of activity in context. Turkey’s foreign policy remains underpinned by two considerations that define the broader Turkish agenda, namely the country’s embedment within the Atlantic alliance -- of which Turkey is both a valued and a strategic member -- and Turkey’s European Union membership aspirations. Turkey is, however, keen to promote peace and stability in its immediate neighborhood as an essential prerequisite for its own security and prosperity, and the need for regional peace is now emerging as a third foreign policy consideration.
The Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform is an idea that was long overdue. The demise of the Soviet Union left a lot of unfinished business in the Caucasus and the international community, busy dealing with a range of other international crises from the Balkans to Iraq, had preferred to deal with the problems in the region by containing them rather than solving them. The danger of this approach was obvious, but few were ready to take up the challenge of engaging with a series of complex problems that seemed to have no solution. The war over South Ossetia was only one of a number of crises ready to happen in the region and highlighted a need for more structured and consistent international engagement to help avert a repetition. Turkey’s Caucasus initiative is therefore timely and praiseworthy.
Turkey may have been mulling the idea of a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform for some time, and Turkish diplomats may have preferred to do some more behind-the-scenes preparation before launching it, but the Georgia crisis offered both a need and an opportunity, and the Turkish government went public with the initiative during Prime Minister Erdog(an’s visit to Moscow at the height of the Georgian crisis on Aug. 13.
There are few details about the Turkish initiative but this is natural because the idea is still evolving, and to ensure buy-in from all the stakeholders one needs to have maximum flexibility. Defining the stakeholders may be the first challenge. Such an initiative can only succeed if it is inclusive rather than exclusive. Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been mentioned as the participating countries, but this list needs to be broadened. Both the US and the EU now have a strategic interest in the region and need to be part of the process. Iran, although marginalized because of its other problems with the international community, has historically been a player in the region and is better in the tent than outside it.
Even trickier is the issue of how to involve Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The first two are now recognized by Russia as independent states and Russia has already started the process of insisting on their participation in relevant international forums. Nagorno-Karabakh is not yet recognized by any state but is an essential part of the jigsaw when dealing with relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which technically are still at war with each other on the issue of the status of the territory. There is in the Caucasus now an unprecedented situation where we have states -- states that are recognized only by some and unrecognized states. Discussions in the preparation of the platform will likely therefore need to be organized through a series of asymmetrical round tables where the de facto authorities of the unrecognized or partly recognized states can be invited on an equal basis in some but not all of the round tables.
The second set of challenges will be related to the content of the platform. Should this be solely a security mechanism, or should there also be a political and economic dimension? Should democracy and human rights be part of its agenda? Views on these issues differ. The security agenda is complex as it is, yet solutions to the problems of the region have to be multidimensional, and a broad yet manageable agenda will need to be worked out.
A third challenge is to define a timetable for working out the platform. This cannot be a process regulated by artificial timeframes. Turkey must be ready to engage with this initiative long term if it is to see it succeed. The Helsinki process in the 1960s and 1970s took a decade to mature and two years of intensive diplomatic activity to bear fruit. In the end it was worth waiting for because it gave Europe a security framework that served it well for decades. Turkey must therefore be ready for the long haul with its Caucasus initiative.
A second Turkish initiative over the last few weeks saw a historical opening up to Armenia and the visit of President Abdullah Gül to that country. It is impossible for Turkey to pursue its Caucasus Platform initiative without a normalization of its relations with Armenia. Sooner rather than later Turkey and Armenia must follow through on the Gül visit by establishing diplomatic relations. This will not be the end of the process of normalizing relations between the two countries and dealing with the baggage of history, but rather the beginning. The process, however, needs to start and here again Turkey will need to have the stamina to stick with it through its inevitable ups and downs.
Turkey’s new diplomatic confidence and assertiveness has wider implications, too. Up to now Turkey’s role as a regional power was due mainly to its military strength rather than its political and diplomatic clout. This has now changed. Turkey, like the European Union, is now using soft power rather than military power to yield its influence in its neighborhood. This augurs well for the future and strengthens Turkey’s hand in its European Union membership aspirations. Europe must also show its appreciation of its development by engaging positively with Turkey’s foreign policy initiatives and to lend its moral and political support where appropriate.
*Dennis Sammut is the executive director of the British organization LINKS and a long time commentator on the Caucasus and European security. email@example.com 15 September 2008, Monday
Yerevan Hails Turkish Initiative for Caucasus By Karine Simonian
Armenia welcomes the Turkish initiative aimed at establishing a stability and cooperation platform in the Caucasus, President Serzh Sarkisian told media as he visited the country’s northern Lori province late last week.
“The Turks have said from the very outset that their initiative is not an alternative to any structure or format but is aimed at improving the atmosphere,” the Armenian leader stressed. “I consider it natural that we should welcome this initiative, we have no right to avoid any discussion, especially if it is aimed at strengthening our security.”
The issue was reportedly discussed by the two countries’ leaders on September 6 as Turkish President Abdullah Gul made a historic trip to Armenia at the initiative of his Armenian counterpart.
Official Ankara announced plans to create a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Pact that would include the three South Caucasus countries plus two regional heavyweights, Turkey and Russia, following the brief but devastating war between Russia and Georgia over the latter’s breakaway province of South Ossetia in August.
In a recent interview with RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service, Gul emphasized that the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh is not just a bilateral issue between the two Caucasus republics, but also affects the whole region.
“Peace and stability is in the interest of everyone and to have that we have to resolve problems. But to resolve the problems we have to have discussion and dialogue,” Gul said.
President Sarkisian expressed his satisfaction that the Turkish head of state also communicated the impressions of his Yerevan trip to the leader of neighboring Azerbaijan, with which Armenia is at loggerheads over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that declared itself independent from Baku after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
He further appreciated the offer of assistance that Gul said Turkey was ready to render in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, if need be.
“I was glad to accept that offer because only someone not normal would reject assistance,” Sarkisian said, emphasizing the difference between ‘assistance’ and ‘mediation’.
Sarkisian also said that any step that can help the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh problem should be regarded as positive.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian reiterated Yerevan’s position as he received a senior visiting U.S. diplomat on Saturday.
During the meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, Nalbandian said Armenia welcomes the steps aimed at building confidence and developing cooperation in the region, the Armenian Foreign Ministry reported.
He also gave a positive evaluation to the Turkish president’s visit to Armenia, describing it as a good stimulus to starting a ‘serious dialogue’.
Bryza, who is the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group along with representatives of Russia and France, met with the Armenian minister as part of his regional tour to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process as well as the recent developments in the region, including the war in Georgia and Armenian-Turkish relations.
Before meeting with Bryza, Nalbandian paid a visit to the Georgian capital where he also presented the latest developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and opportunities for normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey.
In Tbilisi Nalbandian was received by the country’s Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze and President Mikheil Saakashvili.
The Foreign Ministry’s press office quoted Nalbandian as stressing during his meeting with President Saakashvili that Armenia is one of the countries most interested in stability, security and peace in the neighboring republic. He reportedly said that apart from the fact that about 70 percent of Armenia’s foreign trade is made through Georgia, “two peoples have bonds of centuries-old friendship.”
Turkey And The Crisis In The Caucasus Haber Gazete, www.habergazete.com Sept 15 2008
The outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia following the ill-advised Georgian attempt to wrest control of the breakaway province of South Ossetia on August 7 posed an immediate challenge to Turkish interests. The conflict introduced instability and dangerous unpredictability immediately beyond Turkey's northeastern border after a period of relative calm in the Caucasus. It also placed Turkey in a difficult diplomatic position not only between two neighboring countries with which it has been cultivating close relations and cooperation, especially on energy, but also between the United States and Russia.
Georgia has assumed particular importance to Turkey as the middle leg of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline carrying Azeri oil to markets through the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline bringing Azeri gas to Turkey. However, after centuries of conflict and confrontation, Turkish-Russian relations have also witnessed a remarkable improvement and Russia now supplies over sixty per cent of Turkish gas via Thrace and the Bluestream pipeline under the Black Sea.
After reportedly attempting to contact Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on August 8 to express support. However, three days later, as Russian forces were pushing deeper into Georgia and Saakashvili was pleading for immediate help against Moscow, Erdogan unveiled a Caucasus Cooperation and Stability Pact which would include the two combatants as well as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey.
Significantly, Erdogan first took his plan to Moscow on August 13 where he met President Dimitri Medvedev and Putin, who were predictably receptive to the idea, before going on to Tbilisi to meet the beleaguered Saakashvili, whose response to the idea of participation in a new cooperative forum with a country occupying portions of his country was understandably less enthusiastic. The plan was then conveyed by Erdogan to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on August 20 and by President Abdullah Gul to Armenian President Serge Sargsyan during his ground-breaking visit to Yerevan on September 6.
Although the fighting in Georgia has ended, the recognition by Russia of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia ensures the continuation of the Georgian-Russian confrontation. Azerbaijan and Armenia remain locked in a seemingly endless dispute over Nagorno Karabakh. It is therefore unlikely that the proposed pact will come into being in the near future. Consequently, the JDP Government's willingness to push ahead with this proposal as its primary response to the Caucasus crisis needs to be understood with reference to its broader policy of striving for 'zero problems' with its neighbors as well as its demonstrated enthusiasm for playing the role of a mediator or facilitator in the solutions of problems in the regions surrounding Turkey.
These goals were also displayed during the prolonged effort to encourage Israel and Syria to proceed to a peace settlement, most recently during a visit by Erdogan to Damascus on September 4 where Syrian President Bashar Assad was reported to have given Erdogan yet another proposal to convey to Israel. At the same time, the JDP Government has been trying to help in reducing tensions between the United States, and Iran, whose controversial president Mahmud Ahmedinejad visited Turkey on August 14-15.
While there have been periodic statements by Turkish leaders and officials that their diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East were coordinated with the United States, as part of what Ahmet Davutoglu, the leading foreign policy adviser to Erdogan, calls 'rhythmic diplomacy', it is noteworthy that the Bush Administration has shown a distinct reluctance to provide open support for these efforts. Nevertheless, Erdogan remained convinced that despite its skepticism about the likelihood of positive results, the United States would ultimately recognize the benefits of his approach.
Growing tensions in US-Russian relations engendered by the war in Georgia seem likely to test the limits of Washington's tolerance of Erdogan's brand of active regional diplomacy and coordination with Turkey's main ally. On August 19, a senior US official focusing on the Caucasus crisis, Matthew Bryza, hinted at the divergence between the two countries by publicly expressing his 'surprise' over Ankara's Caucasus proposal.
After an initial hesitation at the beginning of hostilities, the Bush Administration has adopted a policy based on buttressing Georgia through the provision of diplomatic and economic assistance, mobilizing its allies and, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put it somewhat undiplomatically, 'punishing' Russia. A critical component of this strategy involved Turkey directly as the planned dispatch of US Navy vessels to deliver supplies to Georgia required passage through the Turkish Straits.
On August 14 the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Cartwright, identified the two ships that would be sent as the Comfort and the Mercy. As the tonnage of the ships exceeded the limits of the 1936 Montreux Convention governing passage through the Straits, the United States may have expected Turkey to show flexibility in a gesture of allied solidarity. However, when Turkey chose to demand strict adherence to the Convention, smaller US vessels were sent through the Straits.
After a pointed reminder from a Russian admiral that the US ships would have to leave the Black Sea after twenty one days in accordance with the Convention, the Turkish Foreign Ministry proceeded to confirm that Turkey would insist on the application of the relevant provision and notify the embassy of the country concerned in the event of transgression. The positive signals sent to Moscow were then underlined by an astonishing gesture on the part of the Turkish Navy Commander who hosted his Russian counterpart on a Turkish frigate in the Black Sea on September 1.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan had joined his NATO colleagues at an emergency meeting on August 19, convened at the request of the United States to formulate a response to the Russian military action, where it was agreed, as the NATO Secretary General announced, that there could not be 'business as usual' with Russia. However, Erdogan made it clear on September 2 that Turkey would not be a willing participant in a policy of confrontation with its important neighbor. In comments published in Milliyet, Erdogan said: "It would not be right for Turkey to be pushed towards any side. Certain circles want to push Turkey into a corner either with the United States or Russia after the Georgian incident. One of the sides is our closest ally, the United States. The other side is Russia with which we have an important trade volume. We would act in line with what Turkey's national interests require."
Erdogan's stance seems to have popular support in Turkey. While there is no particular affection for Russia or its leaders, there is also little sympathy for Georgia or its impetuous president. At the same time, as opinion polls confirm, Turks have developed a strong aversion to the policies and methods of the Bush Administration and are therefore cool to the idea of cooperation with Washington against Moscow. The nuanced approach also has the backing of the influential Turkish General Staff which has been carefully cultivating its own links with the Russian military parallel to its traditionally close ties to the US military establishment.
Turkish national interests apparently dictate a continuing dialogue with Moscow even as Washington is trying to isolate it. On September 2 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Istanbul for talks with his Turkish counterpart. After promising a resolution of the costly delays in the processing of Turkish goods through Russian customs, Lavrov publicly acknowledged the favorable thrust of Turkish diplomacy by expressing "appreciation for Turkey's efforts in the Caucasus." It is noteworthy that while Lavrov was enjoying Turkish hospitality, Vice President Dick Cheney was on a trip to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine to underline the Bush Administration's determination to confront Russian policy in the Caucasus. Cheney's itinerary did not include Washington's closest ally in the region and the task of maintaining contact with Turkey was delegated to William Burns, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, who was received by Erdogan on September 5.
In view of the stated seriousness of the Bush Administration's new policy towards Russia and the Turkish Government's demonstrated desire to avoid a deterioration of its relationship with its northern neighbor, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Caucasus crisis is once again heightening sensitivities in US-Turkish relations. To be sure, both sides remain committed to the alliance and have endeavored to repair the breaches caused by Turkey's unwillingness to support military action by the United States against Iraq in 2003 and the American delay in backing a Turkish military response against Kurdish terrorism emanating from northern Iraq. However, the shared interests which bound them so closely in their Cold War alliance against the Soviet Union are not as strong as they were as Ankara's pursuit of its own interests with Moscow confirms.
As the Bush Administration is on its way out, it will be its successor which will have to determine how it will maintain the alliance with Turkey as well as future relations with Russia. Another important related task will be to examine the viability of the East-West energy corridor, which is the product of US-Turkish cooperation, in the new geopolitical environment. As part of its review it will have to take into account the North-South axis linking Russia and Turkey which is helping to shape international relations and energy politics in the Caucasus as well as beyond.
Armenian Foreign Minister: "Armenia Positively Assesses Turkish President's Visit To Yerevan" Today.Az Sept 15 2008
Foreign minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandyan met on Saturday with US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on Karabakh issue Matthew Bryza.
"Armenia positively assesses the visit of the Turkish President, which is a serious stimulus for the start of a dialogue", said Nalbandyan.
Speaking of the Turkish initiative of creating the Caucasus Stability and Security Platform, the Foreign Minister said that Armenia welcomes steps aimed at strengthening trust and developing cooperation in the region.
During the meeting, the sides discussed the process of the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict, regional issues and issues of the Armenian-Turkish relations.
By request of the visitor, Minister Nalbandyan presented results of his two-day visit to Georgia.
The sides also touched upon some other international and regional problems.
Edvard Nalbandian And Matthew Bryza Discussed Armenian-Turkish Relations DeFacto Agency, Sept 15 2008, Armenia
YEREVAN, 15.09.08. DE FACTO. The issues referring to Karabakh conflict's peaceful settlement, situation in the region and Armenian-Turkish relations were discussed on September 13, at the RA FM Edvard Nalbandian's meeting with the OSCE Minsk group Co-Chair, Assistant to the U. S. State Secretary Matthew Bryza.
According to the RA MFA Press Office, touching on the latest developments around Armenian-Turkish relations Edvard Nalbandian said Armenian party positively estimated Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan, which had become a serious stimulus to initiate a dialogue.
Commenting on Turkey's initiative on building Stability and Cooperation Platform in Caucasus, the RA FM noted that Armenia welcomed steps targeted at strengthening confidence and development of cooperation in the region.
On the guest's request RA FM presented the results of his visit to Georgia.
Edvard Nalbandian and Matthew Bryza also discussed a number of regional and international issues.
What Turkey Should Be Doing, Panorama.am 16/09/2008
After the visit of the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul to Armenia the leader of Armenian Cause Office of ARF Kiro Manoyan expressed his attitude that the policy of Turkey towards Armenia will be changed.
"The reality is that their policy adopted before the President's visit is being continued," announced Kiro Manoyan. According to him, Armenia side urges the negotiations to be continued in the frames of Minsk Group, whereas the Turkish side states that the mission of the current group is not effective. "What Turkey should do is to urge Azerbaijan not to delay the negotiations. Current issue should be solved out through peaceful negotiations," says Mr. Minoyan.
Who Gets In: And What Happens Once They're Here, by Peter Skerry, The Weekly Standard, September 15, 2008
The New Case Against Immigration Both Legal and Illegal by Mark Krikorian Sentinel, 304 pp., $25.95
The New Case Against Immigration lives up to its title. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, Washington's most respected restrictionist voice, has produced a radical but constructively provocative case for the fundamental incompatibility of mass immigration with mature modern societies. Arguing that America has outgrown mass immigration, he mounts a frontal assault on all its forms-legal as well as illegal, skilled as well as unskilled.
One does not have to agree with Krikorian to see that this is no screed by a neo-Malthusian doomsayer, or nativist zealot. Neither does it bear any trace of the outraged naivete that characterizes so much restrictionist commentary. The grandson of Armenian immigrants, Krikorian has produced a well-researched, policy savvy book whose comprehensiveness and verve ought to embarrass Washington's major think tanks, which veer between narrowly technical and evasively high-minded approaches to the topic.
At the core of Krikorian's analysis is his refrain: "It's not the immigrants, it's us." He explicitly rejects the view that immigrants today, especially Hispanics, are unwilling or unable to assimilate. Rather, he argues that they are not assimilating because multicultural elites are encouraging them not to, through such misguided policies as foreign-language ballots, bilingual education, ethnic studies programs, and dual citizenship. He also emphasizes how Spanish-language electronic media and easy air travel back home similarly retard assimilation.
Yet these familiar points do not represent Krikorian's strongest suit. In fact, he ignores abundant evidence that, despite such multicultural efforts, Hispanic immigrants and their children are learning English and adopting American values. And while he correctly highlights the potential problems posed by huge concentrations of immigrants from one social, cultural, linguistic group (Hispanics), Krikorian goes too far when he asserts that its largest component, Mexican immigrants and their offspring, is "marginalized from the American mainstream."
Nevertheless, Krikorian dismisses restrictionist nightmares about Chicano radicals bringing about a reconquista by Mexico of territory lost to the United States in 1848. Readily acknowledging "the genuine American patriotism of millions of Hispanic citizens," he prudently chooses not to obsess about Mexican flags at street demonstrations and soccer games. "There will be no secession of the Southwest from the Union," he concludes. Yet he does insist that the loyalty of Hispanics "doesn't change the fact that Mexico is already actively involved in American domestic politics ostensibly on their behalf." He argues persuasively that, while Americans are not paying attention, Mexico is advancing its own national agenda based on its sense of historical grievance, demanding for Mexican citizens in the United States, and even for Mexican Americans, prerogatives and rights that are not enjoyed by Mexico's own foreign nationals, and even naturalized citizens. Yet again, Krikorian pushes the point too far when he concludes: "In a modern society there are two choices: mass immigration accompanied by a progressive loss of sovereignty, or protection of sovereignty through limits on immigration."
Similarly strained is Krikorian's perspective on immigration and national security. He is certainly correct to dismiss the foolish rhetoric that "there's no relationship between immigration and terrorism." Usefully, he shows how Homeland Security is overwhelmed by the monitoring of the entry and exit of millions of individuals every year. Emphasizing the customer service mentality that seeks to keep the traffic moving with minimal delays, he again stresses that the problem is not immigrants, but us. Focusing on America's failure to grasp the full implications of today's asymmetric warfare, he argues that immigrant communities are potential staging areas for terrorists.
This is undoubtedly true, but is that the end of the story? For example, he never considers the evidence that Muslim Americans can be valuable assets in the struggle against Islamist terrorists.
Krikorian is on more solid footing when addressing the demographic implications of immigration. He points out that because immigrants only slightly increase America's fertility rate, they reduce the average age of the population minimally. So immigrants won't solve America's Social Security problems. Nevertheless, they do contribute significantly to overall population growth, which he regards as too high to sustain Americans' present quality of life: "The real population question for Americans is not whether a Malthusian catastrophe awaits us but rather what kind of life we will bequeath to our grandchildren."
Krikorian is particularly deft when analyzing the impact of immigration on government spending. He lays out the data demonstrating conclusively that immigrants are a net fiscal burden, now and in the foreseeable future, especially at the state and local levels. As have others, he points out that one-fourth of those without health insurance are immigrants. But digging deeper, he points out that most of the growth in the uninsured is traceable to immigrants. He invokes Milton Friedman's observation that "you can't have free immigration and a welfare state." But unlike many free-marketeers and libertarians, he rejects the notion that immigration can be used to undermine the welfare state. Self-conscious realist that he is, Krikorian sees that Americans lack the political will to deny social welfare benefits to immigrants and their children, pointing to failed efforts to do so amid welfare reform during the 1990s. As he concludes, "Walling immigrants off from government benefits once we've let them in is a fantasy."
Most compelling is Krikorian's analysis of the economic impact of immigration. Drawing on the research of economist George Borjas and others, he demonstrates that immigrants represent an increasing proportion of the poor, and that the income gap between immigrants and natives has been widening, while the children of immigrants have been making gains relative to their parents but earning less than other Americans. One result is increased competition at the bottom of the labor market between immigrants and unskilled American workers, especially African Americans-though Krikorian is careful to note that this is hardly the only problem confronting poor blacks. Finally, he argues that the huge influx of unskilled immigrants is discouraging investment in innovative technologies that increase productivity.
Reading Krikorian's uncompromising critique, one cannot help but wonder what drastic policy recommendations will follow. Yet his actual proposals fall far short of his radical views. Relying on a "zero-based budgeting" approach to the question of how many legal immigrants to admit annually, he comes up with 400,000-less than half the approximately one million we have been admitting in recent years. To achieve this, he would limit family-based admittances to spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, excluding parents, adult siblings, and the adult children of legal residents and citizens.
To support his "pro-immigrant policy of low immigration," he urges increased funding for immigration services, including expanded English-language instruction and the establishment of immigrant welcome centers. As for the 12 million or more illegals here, he rejects mass deportations but also opposes any kind of amnesty, proposing instead "attrition through enforcement"-that is, rigorous application of existing immigration laws, especially in the nation's interior. Over time, he maintains, illegals here would leave and subsequent newcomers would be discouraged from coming.
None of these recommendations will pass muster with immigration advocates or their sympathizers-or with rabid restrictionists, for that matter. But the main problem with Krikorian's proposals is that they fly in the face of his own analysis. If immigration is fundamentally at odds with contemporary America-weakening the nation fiscally and economically, squeezing the most vulnerable of our citizens, and threatening our sovereignty-then surely 400,000 immigrants a year is still too many.
Krikorian identifies himself as a conservative addressing "Americans in the patriotic mainstream, liberal and conservative." But his approach might be more aptly described as a curious blend of populism and technocratic policy-wonkery. On the populist side, he articulates a defense of "the revealed preferences" and "natural" choices of millions of ordinary Americans whose freely made decisions are being "artificially" controverted by their government's immigration policy. He sees immigration overwhelming the stable or slow population growth resulting from "the reproductive free market" in which Americans have opted for small families. And while he does not defend suburban sprawl when driven by increased population pressures from immigrants, he does insofar as it results from choices made available to Americans by technology and affluence.
Up to a point, this stance is prudent, even admirable. Too many Americans today feel besieged by immigrants, while their grievances are ignored or smugly dismissed by elites. But surely Krikorian pushes his populist perspective too far when he opposes skilled immigration on the grounds that it would hurt the earnings of college-educated Americans. This is a concern, to be sure; but he never explains why such relatively well-off Americans should be shielded from competitive global labor markets.
In Krikorian's view, America's immigration policy is a vast social engineering project overseen by transnational elites insulated from popular pressure. In the one faint echo here of Lou Dobbs, Krikorian invokes the specter of a remote, out-of-touch government that makes contemporary America sound like pre-revolutionary Russia. Yet while elites have behaved irresponsibly, they have not simply foisted mass immigration on the American people. Krikorian underestimates the extent to which immigration is tied to our understanding of ourselves as a nation. This self-image is rooted in history and ideology, but also embedded in the fabric of daily life. In this regard it is telling that he never addresses the perspective, most elegantly put forward by MIT economist Michael Piore, that far from being a threat to modern societies, immigrants are essential-not merely because they work for less, but because their flexibility and drive overcome the rigidities and constraints arising from affluence and entitlement.
At some level, Krikorian must understand this-hence, his goal of 400,000 immigrants annually. Yet rather than articulate a broad rationale capable of sustaining responses to the inevitable demands for fewer (or more) immigrants, he arrives at this number with the spare logic of an accountant. Such is the curious nature of Krikorian's technocratic populism, which is extremely well informed about policy details, but tone-deaf and too reactive to sustain a new direction for U.S. immigration policy.
For example, Krikorian holds up Japan as a low-migration society from which the United States has much to learn. Arguing that America's reliance on low-skilled immigrants retards innovation, he points admiringly to Japan's advances in robotics. Yet he fails to consider the myriad ways in which Japan's antipathy to immigrants and foreigners reflects a way of life quite antithetical to fundamental American values. Certainly those millions of freedom-loving, patriotic Americans feeling squeezed by immigrants are not going to be drawn to Japan as any kind of model.
Similarly cramped is Krikorian's reasoning about illegals. He rejects mass roundups and deportations because of the fiscal cost, the economic disruption, the ability of immigrants' rights attorneys to derail such efforts, and the pervasive media presence that would broadcast the inevitable missteps. Completely missing is any suggestion that mass deportations might be unfair to a significant number of people. Krikorian simply fails to consider that immigrants who live and raise families here might, over time, come to have claims on this society. These are complicated and emotional questions, too often pushed toward a predictable open-borders conclusion by advocates and their sympathizers. Nevertheless, these are more wrenching dilemmas for many Americans than Krikorian's cold logic allows.
Finally, Krikorian proposes a limit of 50,000 humanitarian admittances (refugees, asylum-seekers, and others) per year-about half what we have typically been accepting, at least before 9/11. The problem is not that the figure seems too low or too rigid, but once again, that it is too narrowly arrived at. Krikorian seems to have opted for this number because it was the target set by the Refugee Act of 1980, not because it somehow speaks to the larger question of why a nation like the United States accepts refugees. Nor does he offer any broader exploration of how doing so might be central to American ideals or responsibilities as the most powerful nation on earth. Indeed, he does not even acknowledge these dimensions of America's refugee policy.
These days the New York Times clearly believes that immigration policy can be reformed on the basis of the genuinely wrenching personal tragedies that it features almost daily. Serious analysts might well react in frustration. Yet melodrama and moralism must not be permitted to obscure the moral underpinnings of this nation's immigration policy. In this regard, the limitations of Krikorian's perspective are clear. Still, those who reject his perspective would do well to provide as sober and reasoned an articulation of their own position.
Peter Skerry teaches political science at Boston College and is a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke.
Turkish End Play: Turkey Goes Active In The Caucasus And Plans To Restore Relations With Armenia: Armenia And Turkey Intend To Normalize Relations by Dmitry Yermolayev, WPS Agency, What the Papers Say Weekly Review (Russia) September 15, 2008
Presidents of Armenia and Turkey met in Yerevan and decided to finally normalize relations between their two countries, severed in 1915. "We all hope that we are able to express good-will for solution to the existing problems rather than leave them to the next generations to grapple with," President of Armenia Serj Sargsjan said. "We expressed the political will to create the atmosphere necessary to solve the problems that exist," his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul Enhanced Coverage LinkingAbdullah Gul -Search using: Biographies Plus News News, Most Recent 60 Days added. A meeting between Armenian and Turkish foreign ministers followed the summit. The ministers reiterated the determination to reestablish fully-fledged relations and discussed the Caucasus Stability and Security Platform.
What does it mean? Could Ankara, Baku's dedicated ally in the Karabakh conflict settlement, decide to normalize relations with Armenia and even perhaps establish diplomatic relations with it? Everything done in the region so far (construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and development of transport routes between Baku and Ankara bypassing Armenia) did not exactly endear Turkey to Armenia. Neither was it calculated to, for that matter.
So dramatic a turn in Ankara's foreign policy took Azerbaijan entirely by surprise so that it took Baku certain time to recover its wits and try to puzzle it out. A statement made by Novruz Mamedov of the Azerbaijani president's secretariat implied that "Yerevan needed Gul's visit more than Ankara itself did." It was a misinterpretation, of course. President of France Nicolas Sarkozy appraised Gul's visit to Yerevan as "a gallant initiative of historic magnitude."
What with the geopolitical changes taking place in this part of the Caucasus, Armenian-Turkish normalization facilitates settlement of the old conflict over Karabakh and, even more importantly, brings Turkey into the equation in a manner official Baku never expected. No wonder Sargsjan made a point in the talks with Gul that a dialogue was all it took to discuss any problem however complicated. Bearing in mind that Gul is also expected to visit Azerbaijan now and the United States on September 20, observers are stone-cold confident that some game on a major scale is under way, one where stakes are high indeed.
Activization of Turkey's policy in the Caucasus in the meantime may have a thoroughly logical explanation. Georgian aggression against South Ossetia played havoc with the previous geopolitical accents in the region, including the ones that concern security of energy routs from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia. What really counts is that this aggression put the Western community's pet Nabucco in jeopardy. Official Baku is understandably upset. In fact, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedjarov informed official Ankara on a visit there recently that Azerbaijan could shift all its energy export routes to the territory of Russia after all. Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan seem to be of the same frame of mind. It means that Turkey may cease being the route by which Central Asian hydrocarbons reach Europe.
It may be added that Ankara's refusal to recognize genocide of the Armenians in 1915 was one of the factors that prevented its membership in the European Union. Normalization of the relations with Armenia now may remove this barrier and some others as well. There is actually more to it than meets the eye. Turkey's participation in the so called Caucasus Five project boosts its geopolitical weight in the eyes of Europe and makes it a broker in the international dialogue initiated by Paris.
As for the Turkish-Azerbaijani relations, Gul's visit to Yerevan plainly shows that Baku is about to be asked to accept a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. This is precisely the geopolitical end game Moscow has been telling Baku to beware. It is up to Azerbaijan now.
Us Envoy To Nato Upbeat On Possible Armenian-Turkish Diplomatic Ties, Mediamax, Sept 15 2008, Armenia
Yerevan, 15 September: US permanent representative in NATO Kurt Volker stated in an interview to Mediamax that OSCE Minsk Group is a suitable format for the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh conflict.
US diplomat said this, answering the question of the special correspondent of Mediamax in Brussels on NATO's possible stirring up in the settlement of "frozen" conflicts.
"OSCE Minsk Group is a suitable format for the settlement, and the issue is the political will of the sides, holding negotiations," Kurt Volker stated.
US Ambassador to NATO stated that the contacts between Armenia and Turkey, which have been initiated, will have positive influence on the process of Karabakh conflict settlement and the whole region in general.
"Establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and the opening of the border will be positive for the region. Settlement of the existing problems will create regional cooperation and benefit the integration of the region into a wider global economy," Kurt Volker stated in an interview to Mediamax.
Turkey Warms To Armenia Canberra Times, September 15, 2008 Australia
The pace of the thaw taking place between Turkey and Armenia is nothing short of breathtaking. Much attention has been focused on Turkish President Abdullah Gul having attended a football match in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, at the invitation of his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, but the two sides are moving beyond symbolism.
A deal has been struck under which Armenian power stations will supply electricity to Turkey, and state-run Turkish Radio Television has signed a cooperation pact with Armenia 1 TV.
Gul has even professed full confidence that the issue which caused Turkey to close its border with Armenia in 1993, the latter's war on Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, can be resolved with relative ease.
It is depressing to compare all this with the lethargy that typifies intra-Arab cooperation. Arab governments are incapable of joint action. They talk about unity, but they connive against one another with neither mercy nor shame and regard one another's citizens as hostile aliens.If successful, Turkey's charm offensive will show how soft power can undo the complications wrought by the harder variety.
A Day.Az Interview With Azerbaijani Political Expert Zardust Alizada, Azerbaijan, Sept 9 2008
Zardust Alizada: We can easily come to terms with the Armenian public on friendly terms with Turkey as against the part of the Armenian public depending unambiguously on Russia
[Correspondent] The fuss around the latest visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Yerevan is not dying down. The majority of the observers in Azerbaijan inclined to see more negative aspects rather than positive moments. What is your assessment of the processes under way?
Successful ever government
[Alizada] [Passage omitted: The Turkish prime minister has been carrying out profound reforms]
So everything is fine with [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan]. The only problem is the Armenian issue. Armenia speaks about the "genocide" everywhere, has territorial claims to Turkey. Since Turkey was very interested in Azerbaijan in the beginning of 1990s, it has begun to strategically support our country.
Nevertheless, Azerbaijan turned out to be insufficiently good partner. Turks started to train our military, supply ammunition and weapons, but eventually, they saw that Azerbaijan was not interested in Karabakh up to the mark. Turkey is in excellent relations with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, and Russia with everyone, except for Armenia.
The security of any state is measured by its relations with neighbours. What should the government do in such conditions? Turkey has done a lot for the adjustment of dialogue and improvement of the relations, having no diplomatic relations with Armenia; it allowed Armenian citizens to arrive in Turkey in search of a living. That is to say, they have made some layers of the Armenian population economically dependent on themselves, like, for example, Russia has made the major part of the Azerbaijani population dependent on itself.
Ankara boosts business ties with Yerevan
Ankara has begun to encourage the development of the Armenian-Turkish business relations and at present Armenian businessmen do business absolutely free in Turkey. The Turkish leadership has been encouraging contacts at the level of civil societies, which is also good.
And finally, voices are being heard in Armenia that Turks are not enemies but neighbours through which the road runs to Europe. Of course, these voices are weak against the background of those who shout "Russia is our future!", "Owing to Russia, we have taken away Karabakh!" and so on. Nevertheless, a struggle has started, the stratification of Armenian society has started and Turkey will benefit from it.
Therefore, I think that the visit of Gul to Yerevan is very wise step; it is a very bold step towards the start of intensive dialogue. This reminds me "a ping pong diplomacy" between America and China in 1970s, and "the wrestlers' diplomacy" when Iranian wrestlers arrived in America and Americans to Iran.
I think that Gul undertook a positive step which will serve improvement of the relations between Armenia and Turkey and increases the level of security and mutual understanding in the region. Here crops up another issue: do we not need the establishment of security and cooperation in the region for a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh problem as our government claims? Or, does everyone need to be at loggerheads with one another for this? The second is absolutely illogical. I think Erdogan is a wisest Turkish politician after Ataturk, he has been ruling over the country in a brilliant manner and reforms Turkey by leading it forward.
Improvement of ties to be conducive to regional cooperation
[Correspondent] Consequently, will the visit of Gul to Armenia be only to our benefit?
[Alizada] Certainly. Just imagine a situation, the mutual relations between Armenia and Turkey will improve, the Armenian economy will be attached to the Turkish one, Armenian society will orient itself to the Turkish one, and given this voices of those who shout: "Enmity between Turks and Armenians are for ever" will not enjoy support. And in this situation, we shall easily agree, find a compromise decision with the Armenian public in friendly terms with Turkey but not with that part of the Armenian public depending unambiguously on Russia.
Russia's influence over Armenia huge
[Correspondent] Incidentally, will it be possible to succeed in all these, bearing in mind the current dependence of the Armenian leadership from Russia?
[Alizada] It is outright that Russia has fastened Armenia to itself with many belts. The first such a belt is the military bases which have been established by no means against Azerbaijan but to keep the Armenian society under control as well as the army as the most effective instrument of the Armenian society.
The second belt is the Armenian national mythology about the enmity to Turks, which has been cultivated and supported by the Russian science, propaganda and special services, knowing thereby that they tear Armenia from the Turkic world and fasten to Russia.
The third belt is the Karabakh army, which sits around Yerevan and controls the Armenian opposition.
The fourth is the Armenian politicians, mainly; those who have come out from the Karabakh movement and are for a union with Russia, including the same Levon Ter-Petrosyan.
The fifth belt is [Karabakh president] Bako Sahakyan, an officer of the GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Defence Ministry] who is in Karabakh to control both [Armenian President] Serzh [Sargsyan] and Robik [ex-president] Robert Kocharyan, through whom Russia governs Armenia.
In order to break all those belts, Turkey has begun to alter its policy, using peace potential, economy, cooperation, and Azerbaijan also should change its approaches since our country's foreign policy in this direction is completely ineffective.
Turkish prime minister's initiative doomed to failure
[Correspondent] And, nevertheless, are you still convinced that the initiative of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform lacks any prospect?
[Alizada] Yes, this initiative is absolutely senseless. Look: Georgia has unambiguously orients itself to Europe, America and NATO, Armenia is now unambiguously attached to Russia; in its turn, Azerbaijan balances between them, saying: "Do not hinder us to rob our own people". That's it. Can there be an alliance among a crawfish, a pike and a crane?
[Correspondent] Will Turkey succeed in realizing own interests in such a complicated situation?
[Alizada] Turkey is very powerful and independent country in order to be subjected to someone's influence. Yes, Turks use Georgia as a transit route, they built an oil pipeline worth 4bn dollars at our expense, although the Iranian route to the tune of 300m dollars would be more profitable and secure.
Azerbaijan for Turkey is a jumping board for entering more promising and powerful Central Asian region. Owing to the future of Turkey in the Turkic speaking world, the price of this country grows in the eyes of America. I myself heard in Ankara words of the [now former] chairman of the Social Democratic People's Party, Erdal Inonu, that after the demise of the USSR, Turkey has gained brilliant chance with regard to Turkic countries of the former Soviet Union, and that one should not forget that Ankara can realize this potential only in alliance with the USA.
In other words, Turks and Americans act in tandem in the issue of entering of the West and Turkey into the Turkic republics. In this process, quoting cultural and other common features with other countries of the Turkic world, Turks realize their economic and geopolitical interests and this is normal.
Schoolgirl Of Armenian Origin Included In Turkish National Water Polo Team Noyan Tapan, www.nt.am Sep 15, 2008
Instanbul, Armenians Today. Stephani
Berberoglu, a pupil of the 12th form of Mkhitarian college, has been included in the national water polo team of Turkey. Marmara daily (Istanbul) reported that she together with other members of the national team will soon leave for the Slovak Republic to take part in an international water polo competition there.
Gul’s Turkey and Sargsyan’s Armenia, Lena Nazaryan , Ararat Davtyan September 15, 2008
During last week’s roundtable organized by “Hetq”on Armenian-Turkish relations topics discussed included recent developments pertinent to the issue and the newly emerging security problems faced by Armenia resulting from these developments. Analyst Laura Baghdasaryan moderated the panel whose participants included Kiro Manoyan, who heads the ARF Bureau’s Political Affairs Department and its Hay Tad Office, Hayk Demoyan, Director of the GAA Genocide Museum/Institute and Manvel Sargsyan, political scientist.
L. Baghdasaryan - Recent developments in the context of Armenian-Turkish relations are the main focal points for analysts and political scientists. However, only a few up till now have reflected in detail on all those security issues facing Armenia that are directly linked to the possible mormalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. What I propose is that we focus on these issues. What were the security issues facing Armenia and the region up till the invitation sent to the Turkish President to visit Armenia? What prompted the President of Armenia to go along with a state of near non-contact right up till the first visit by a Turkish President to Armenia?
K. Manoyan - I believe that President Sargsyan made the invitation based on several concerns and calculations, one of which is to change the current situation regarding the Artsakh negotiations by establishing relations with Turkey. Turkey closed the border with Armenia due to the Artskah issue and I believe that in the calculations of our President an important place is given to the fact that if he can jump-start a certain type of relations with Turkey, to at least ease the blockade, this will certainly have consequences on the Artsakh negotiations. And if the Turkish President had refused the invitation, Armenia would have come out the winner in terms of publicity.
M. Sargsyan - In the eyes of our leaders the problem was something else. We had gone through the events of March 1st, a crisis situation, which was the overriding issue. Here, everything centered around this issue and the leadership lived with this problem. The invitation was made in this set of conditions and from this point of view, I believe, the invitation was similar to what Sahakashvili did. The invitation that Sargsyan publicly announced in Moscow was merely to resolve the domestic problem, to direct attention to a totally different sector.
H. Demoyan - It was a pretty bold and risky move by President Sargsyan, which essentially was greeted by the masses if not with anger than with a healthy dose of skepticism. It was also risky in the sense that if Gul accepted the invitation who would have guaranteed the scenario according to which events would develop? On the other hand, there was a positive step, which at least gave us an advantage in the short-term. Returning to the security issue, I wish to say that we must be quite careful and in the first place safeguard ourselves from any euphoric attitudes, from getting ahead of ourselves and from any inclinations to take sudden steps both in terms of regional affairs and in Armenian-Turkish relations.
L. Baghdasaryan - I have always been convinced that there are two pivotal security issues in the South Caucasus - the Georgian-Russian contradiction and the Armenia-Turkish one. Georgian-Russian relations have deteriorated and they are worse today than ever before. In the Armenian-Turkish equation, as you have described, there is the possibility for movement. In your estimation, how vital is the Azeri factor when it comes to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations?
M. Sargsyan - First, let me state that I share the traditional opinion that Armenians will certainly pay a price when it comes to relations with the Turks. In other words, Russia loves Armenians from afar but when it comes directly here, Armenia becomes just a piece of territory. However, certain developments have occured that allow one to say that developments might perhaps progress along a different trajectory. I believe that there already exist new phenomena that force Turkey not to demand anything from the Armenians so long as Russia assists it in various forms regarding other matters. Turkey is in a state of alarm over the Kurdish issue, which is linked to the United States. That is why the Turks have come and cozied up to Russia. If such approaches exist, here it is possible to understand what Gul is up to. In the plane returning from Armenia Gul is recorded as stating that he was surprised that President Sargsyan brougt up the Karabakh issue. “We didn’t discuss the genocide or the roads but for some unknown reason he broached the Karabakh issue.” What does this signify? On the other hand, knowing all this, he leaves his Foreign Minister in Yerevan who is continuing negotiations solely on the issue of the roadways. The Foreign Minister has already stated that they have talked about reopening the roads and that perhaps in the future they’ll study the question of the gas pipeline. For Russia, Armenia as a road condut is very vital but for Turkey it's her salvation. Just by selling that condut to Russia she will obtain a military alliance over Kurdistan. And it’s no wonder that they’ve already discussed Turkey pulling out of NATO. Azerbaijan has already been told that from now on you reach Turkey by going through Armenia. This is the place allotted to Azerbaijan.
K. Manoyan - I partly agree with what Manvel has said. Yes, that’s the intention but it’s still not final. It is not surprising that Azerbaijan accepted the Cacasus Platform. The issue isn’t the Platform if Turkey already knows that it won’t be realized since even before the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict there’s the Georgian-Russian conflict looming and the two parties have already said that they’re not on speaking terms.In other words, if there’s a new failed proposal, why must it be Azerbaijan to do it. There’s a second question which is that it appears that Turkey has started to finally remove itself from the situation it placed itself in for the past 15 years when Armenian-Turkish relations were hostage to Azerbaijan. For Turkey this was a restriction of sorts on its regional politics. The fact that I remain totally unconvinced in all this is that I question to what extent the current Turkish leadership has final say-so over this matter. Yes, there appears to be a striving on their part but isn’t it possible that one day perhaps the Turkish Army will step in and say - this is as far as you can go.
M. Sargsyan - There's a new playing field on which a thousand things can be forgotten. What does a railway across the territory of Armenia mean? Let's not forget that there are two entrances to the TransCaucasus and both pass through Armenia. The one goes through Julfa and to Armenia. It passes through Azerbaijan, Georgia and from there to Russia. The other comes from Kars. Another railway doesn't exixt at the moment and if you close the road through Armenia, Russia becomes Armenia's railway. For Iran and Turkey this means that through Armenia they have a gate towards the Caucasus and an exit from the Caucasus for Azerbaijan and Georgia. Thus, it is possible that tomorrow Georgia will request a transit road from us. Yes this is something new for Russia in the Caucasus and it has links to Russian interests and strengthens it to the level that the Karabakh conflict and other tiny matters are no longer issues. But I repeat that Turkey is also headed to this because it feels threatened from the back, from Iraq and Kurdistan. Why are they taking the Foreign Ministers to the United States. For Turkey isn't out to convince Armenia, Turkey will be convincing Azerbaijan to settle the matter, that this is what Turkey needs.
L. Baghdasaryan - We still haven't discussed the Diasporan factor in the transformation of Armenian-Turkish relations. Is it possible to view the Diaspora as a separate role-player in this context?
K. Manoyan - Yes, the Diaspora is a player. I think it would be correct for the government to calculate the possibilities of the Diaspora so that it doesn't become a point of contention. Thus, any given step between the governments of Turkey and Armenia or any set of relations must not serve to create division between us (Armenia and Diaspora) but rather the opposite, that we must utilize all our resources so that those intergovernmental links actually produce results. I am not saying that the Diaspora must become a "fifth column", but I don't agree with the approach that claims that there are national interests and so-called state interests. The public relations advantage that Turkey got from their President's visit will be constantly used within the corridors of the European Union. They have already started to tell Armenians living abroad that if the Foreign Minister of Turkey comes here please don't organize any demonstrations since your two nations have started talking to one another. In certain occasions this is a form of pressure.
H. Demoyan - The Diaspora is linked to the process of Armenian-Turkish relations. It plays to Turkey's advantage to state that the Diaspora is a hindrance to the normalization of relations. By doing so Turkey resolves a very important problem. What is our conceptual or publicity point of departure in this case, when there is a normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. Firstly, the Diaspora must come forth as a separate structure and an independent player. It must not be represented as a body directed from Armenia but rather as a linking factor with Armenia. The Armenian came to be in that country and turned into one part of its history and memory, thus it has the right to raise such an issue and Turkey must understand that this is a humanitarian step and not a political one.
M. Sargsyan - I believe that the Diaspora is an ideologically advanced reality. There was a time when there was the matter of the preservation of the Armenian identity. Today, one segment of the Diaspora is concerned with problems facing the Armenian state, another segment is indifferent and another struggles in the name of democratic principles. If the Armenian government implements a policy and convinces others that it is correct, people will be convinced that it is so. Tomorrow the border with Turkey might be opened and they might state that those Armenians who wish to live in Van can come and do so. People can say that they don't want to. The Diaspora is an ideological manifestation; as citizens they live in other countries. They only comprise the Diaspora on a ideological level. And ideas and thoughts are constantly changing and will change. Armenia must be capable of putting forth the correct set of ideas.
L. Baghdasaryan - Put another way, the Diaspora can adopt a more tolerant stance regarding the normalization of Armenia-Turkish relations without the Genocide recognition fact?
K. Manoyan - Everything depends on the price we'll be paying for those relations. I'd say the same thing for the people of Armenia. If our analyses are correct and that today Turkey has a greater need for Armenia and that the price we pay won't be too great, then I believe both the people of Armenia will tolerate it and the Diaspora will understand it. But if we have to pay a heavy price for relations, both now and in the future, then you won't find many in Armenia who will tolerate it. The expectations and approaches regarding Armenian-Turkish relations differ somewhat in the Diaspora and Armenia. It would take about a half an hour for an Armenian sitting in Montreal to ponder the issue.But half the population of Armenia sees the border every day and realizes that the enemy lurks on the other side. Having relations with Turkey will have a direct impact on the daily lives of people in Armenia and this is what must be discussed. What is the value of the border for us? I don't agree that our salvation lies in the opening of the border firstly because the last 15 years has proven that our economy can develop, here and there, without it. The opening of the border also signifies the potential of Turkish infiltration, something they can accomplish not by economic calculations but by geo-political ones; so that Armenia becomes totally dependent on Turkey. It was about six months ago that someone sneaked in one millon from Turkey and the place went crazy. What is one billion for Turkey? - to buy up corporations and land, to make Armenia economically dependent in so many ways. I believe we must take a measured approach to the border issue and not permit the creation of a general impression that leads people in Armenia to believe that their only salvation lies with the opening of the border.
Without Preconditions, Anahit Shirinyan September 15, 2008
“Whether we like it or not, there exists a geographical as well as an historical reality. Armenia is our northeastern neighbor and we’ve shared a centuries-old history with the Armenian people and cultural cooperation.” writes Yusef Canli in the Turkish Daily News. Noting that the normalization of Armenia-Turkish relations flows from the interests of the two sides he adds, “How can Turkey be a regional power if it continues to have problems with other countries in the region. How can Turkey, while attempting to play a constructive role in the Middle East, in the Georgian-Russian crisis..., continue to deride the necessity to normalize relations with its neighbors.”
Recent developments show that today Ankara is much more interested in normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations. As Turkish analysts point out, political realities emerging in the region demand this to be so. According to Turkish analyst Barchin Yinanchi, it seems that Turkish decision-makers have concluded that Armenia’s isolation from regional cooperative projects as a policy of exclusion has “thrown Armenia into the hands of the Russians”. The same analyst goes on to say that, “In the context of recent developments Turkey is inclined to avert a polarization where you have Russia and Armenia, on the one hand, and Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia, on the other.”
Oral Chalishlar writes, “Turkey, in order to improve its influence in the Caucasus envisages to exercise a more dynamic foreign policy. One of the main pillars for such a political course on the part of Turkey is to have better relations with Armenia, given that Turkey has cordial relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia in the same region. Chalishlar believes that even though it appears that Armenian-Turkish relations are in a dead-end due to debate regarding the genocide, it would be more correct to state that the real problem is the tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the issue of Karabakh.
In conjunction with all this, however, there are political forces in the countries of the region that come out in opposition to any possible normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. Deniz Baykal, a Turkish politician and longtime leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Devlet Bahceli, leader of the National Movement Party (MHP) came out with remarks critical of Gul’s visit to Armenia. According to the Turkish press, representatives of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) were forced to declare as void their plans to accompany the Turkish President to the football match in order that the opposition not use it as a lever to criticize the government.
Those criticizing Gul’s visit to Yerevan also included Akif Nagi, Chairman of the Karabakh Liberation Organization and the Musavat Party, both in Azerbaijan.
In Armenia, a more constructive approach was displayed regarding this issue. Armenian National Congress leader, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, once again welcomed the step to invite Gul to Armenia. While it is true that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation reaffirmed its intent to meet Gul at the airport with protests, nevertheless they it noted that the protests would be “civilized”. However, the primary question of concern to all in Turkey, Armenia and in Azerbaijan is whether Gul’s trip to Armenia will lead to any positive movement in the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations. The initial step that can be taken in the direction of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations would be the opening of the 325 kilometer Armenia-Turkish border and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. In this matter the opinions of various political forces in Armenia converge. That’s to say that Armenia is ready to establish normal relations with Turkey without preconditions. Today, the possibility of opening the Armenian-Turkish border appears more possible than ever, particularly in the context of regional processes occurring in the recent period. The prospect of opening the Armenian-Turkish border, however, isn’t that well received in neighboring Azerbaijan. Thus, in the opinion of Anar Mamedkhanov, a Deputy in the Azeri Parliament, only Armenia will benefit from the opening of the border given that “closed borders” is the only card Turkey and Azerbaijan have to play in the matter of the “occupied territories and to counter the Armenian cards putting pressure on Turkey when it comes to the ‘alleged genocide’ issue” and today “Turkey can give those cards to Armenia with its own hands.”
The conviction of the Musavat Party is that in the situation when Russia’s aggression towards Georgia further exacerbated the virtual blockade of Armenia, the gestures made by Turkey to Armenia as well as the visit at a top governmental level, will negatively impact the settling of the Karabakh conflict.
Political scientist Leila Aliyevan, despite expresing her apprehension regarding the possible opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, nevertheless stresses that the beginning of dialogue between Ankara and Yerevan will directly impact on the strengthening of Turkey’s influence in the South Caucasus which in turn would mean the gradual restriction of Russia’s influence on Armenia. The political scientist conjectures that after this Armenia would be more compromising regarding the Karabakh conflict settlement issue. On the other hand, though, political scientist Hekmet Hajizadeh believes that, when compared to Russia, Turkey doesn’t have the potential in order to pull Armenia to its side. This means that Azerbaijan should not entertain any hope at all that Armenians will adopt a constructive stance towards the Karabakh question.
Georgi Vanyan, Chairman of the Caucasus Center of Peace-Making Initiatives, in an interview given to “Day.az” expresses the opinion that being present at the football match in Yerevan is conditioned on the convergence of Turkish and Russian interests on certain points and that in this there is no Armenia, per say, nor a component of Armenian-Turkish relations. Mr. Vanyan concludes that, “Developments taking place can in no way impact on Azeri-Turkish relations.”
Turkish specialist Grigor Harutyunyan, a former advisor of the Armenian delegation to The Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization (BSEC), the initiatives taken by Turkey to be included in regional porocesses is conditioned not only by recent regional developments, but on the fact that today the governing Justice and Development Party in Turkey is attempting to exercise a political policy independent of external forces, especially the United States. According to the expert, the governing party sees Turkey as being a regional super power. This is evidenced by Ankara’s attempts, particularly in recent years, to assume the role of mediator in the process of peacefully resolving existing regional conflicts, by co-operating with Iran in the gas sector despite the U.S. imposed embargo. Mr. Harutyunyan views the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border in the near future to be quite realistic. The specialist singles out those advantages that would accrue to Armenia if the border were to open. First and foremost, Turkey could become an alternate route for Armenia, especially if we take into account how vulnerable Georgia is as a transit route for Armenia. The other advantage, in his view, would be a fall in prices given that according to some estimates prices of goods entering Armenia via Georgia increase buy some 40%. Finally, the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border would serve as a good opportunity to develop links with Turkey and to deepen those links in the future.
“In the event that the border is opened the unavoidable issue regarding consulates will soon be raised and the necessity of opening a consulate will be felt. It can’t be ruled out that afterwards diplomatic relations between the two nations will be established. Of course, the opening of the border will benefit the development of political relations.” notes Mr. Harutyunyan. As for a negative consequence, “there is also a justified fear that the Armenian economy will be threatened and sublimated to a possible Turkish economic expansion.” Mr. Harutyunyan does not agree with the widespread notion that Armenia represents nothing of importance for Turkey and that it has nothing to offer Ankara. According to him, Turkey today faces an energy shortage and that Armenia can sell energy to Turkey. At a very minimum, according to Mr. Harutyunyan, Armenia can also serve as a transit route for Turkey.
It is Mr. Harutyunyan’s belief that Turkey’s relations with Azerbaijan should not hinder its establishing relations with Armenia as well. “If Turkey should pull back from cooperating with Armenia because of Azerbaijan then Armenia’s participation in the Caucasus Peace and Cooperation Platform becomes redundant given that it would assume a purely formal nature given that it would contradict the objectives and issues of this Turkish-sponsored project. In the event of the Platform’s formulation, the specialist considers Armenian-Turkish cooperation in a variety of fields to be realistic. However, he sees the issue of Armenian0Azeri cooperation to be more problematic given that the issue of defining the status of Karabakh will come up within the parameters of that cooperation. In the estimation of Mr. Harutyunyan what’s important vis-a-vis Armenian-Turkish relations is moving that first stone. “It’s important to make contact. All other problems will gradually find their own solutions. It is only necessary that the two sides take reciprocal steps, without considering them to be gestures of goodwill.”
Nice try David 'take on a common English name to hide my Turkish/Azeri identity' Johnson.
It is an unfortunate fact that Armenia has to rely on Russia and Iran for both trade and political support. However Armenia is far from being their puppet, like say Georgia is to the US.
Also Artsach was freed with no Iranian help and with little Russian help. The reality is the Azeris recieved relatively far more help from the USSR/Russia at the start of the conflict (Operation Ring).
Hagop (2008-09-17 David Johnson, DJ:
How funny. Turkey is a country run by NATO/America and helped by another country that starts with an I...
Mr. Johnson alleges that Armenians' pursuit of justice for the loss of lands, culture and millions of dead is "politically motivated", meaning I guess that it is artificial, not felt by the people of Armenia and the Diaspora, and that Armenia and Armenians have some sort of ulterior purpose in pursuing claims for justice they actually don't believe in.
Hardly. Mr. Johnson does not know history, psychology or current events.
What Mr. Johnson does not know is that every family lost people they can name, whose pictures they may have actually seen, who came from places in w armenia they have heard described, but almost certainly have not seen. the loss on property is in the billions, the loss of a society is incalculable and irreplaceable.
If old enough to have known a survivor, as I knew my grandparents, they heard countless stories too horrible to repeat, and too uncomfportable for Mr. Johnson to hear.
If Armenian is economically vulnerable, and needs help from Russia, you can ascribe that to borders closed by a hostile Turkish neighbor, facing a warlike and belligerent Azerbaijan emboldened by that portion of oil money, not stolen by the kleptocrats. I suppose we can find many instances of poor nations which depend on aid from larger neighbors and allies. What bettter future comes to Armenia if it diminishes ties with Russia and Iran, exactly?
As for Karabagh, it is traditionally Arenmian land, but from the 1960's on, Azeris tried to assert control over it, even though it was never part of Azerbaijan except through the fiat of Stalin. The case for Karabakhi independence is far greater than was the case once for US independence - the Crown did not massacre thousands of Americans, I think it got to about 11 in the Boston Massaacre. Would Mr. Johnson like to pay his taxes to the Queen?
Perhaps Johnson is the nom de plume of a Turkish nationalist.
Dear David Johnson
first o all so called modern Turkey is 1000´s of years behind Iran (even behindof Islamic Republic!). Turkish nationalism, Turkishnees and Kemalism are nothing but racism ! Turks have adopted in Anatolia a new home land. Iranians are living in there historic land, Iran like Russia is a home to many to different folks , most of these folks have there own provinces for centuries!!. If Iran would take so called modern Turkey as an “example” the Persians in Iran should start with the annihilation of non Persians … Let us hope that not a single country in the Middel east and the whole world would ever take so called modern Turkey or Sudan as an example to solve its own national problems, because in this case Iran would have to commit many genocides!!!!
1-"ending occupation of Karabakh" !? Let Turkey end the occupation of West Armenia and other parts of former East Armenia (kars, Ardahan).. Beside this Karbakh is not occupied by Armenians but Karabakh is inhabited by Armenians who are defending themselves against Pan Turan and Turkish fascism! Your comments are a good proof for this
2- Armenia is not Georgia or Azerbaijan Who are serving the interests of Israel or Turkey, Armenia is serving its own interests and this facts is not acceptable for certain countries! Please do not forget. “the so called “strong and modern turkey” is serving in these or other way s foreign interested in order to be keep certain territories etc!
We have to deal with a Turkey which is paranoid… We all (including Turkey and you) are aware of the “threats” which permitted Turkey and Soviet Azerbaijan to annex former Armenian territories. Otherwise v Turkey would have no reason to be afraid to face the Truth about the forced deportation and annihilation of Armenians from there historic homeland in “EAST ANATOLIA”
David Johnson (2008-09-16
Armenia is a semi-independent country that is run by Russia and helped by Iran. Without Russia and Iran , Armenia could not have won the war with Azerbaijan.
Armenia needs to understand that its neighbors are more important to her existence . Yerevan should stop serving Russian and Iranian interests and start serving Armenia instead. Dropping politically motivated historical claims against Turkey as well as ending occupation of Karabakh will lead to economic prosperity for Armenians and more importantly independence for Armenia. That is if Russia and Iran let Armenia run by Armenians. Time will tell.
U Turn (2008-09-16
sorry for the mistakes
There is no Turkish U Turn in its realisation to Armenian. Current Turkey needs at least another 100 years to face its past and make peace with Armenian Nation! Armenia and Armenian Diaspora should demand from Germany (is democratic and has other humanitarian values than Turkey!) an "answer" an "EU-answer" to the Armenian Genocide This justice for Armenian equation and Turkish crimes of 1915 ... ) and today’s Turkish blackmails and threats against Armenia!
U Turn (2008-09-16
There is no Turkish U Turn in its realeation to Armenian. Current Turkey needs another 100 years to face its past and make peace with Armenian Nation! Armenia and Armenian Diaspora should demand from Germnay (is democratic and has other humanitarian values teh Turkey!) an "answer" an "EU-answer" to the Armenian Genocide (this is the Armenian wuation) and Turksih blackmails!
U Turn (2008-09-16
I wish real peace and respect between Armenia and Turkey! Today, we Armenian have to deal in many areas with a Turkish political elite similar the ones in 1915 only the methods and “turbans” of Turkish politicians has undergone some changes. Todays Turkey is in many case even more dangerous and capricious as Ottoman Turkey, because Turkey got above all a lot of help from European countries - suhc as France, UK- and US to cover up Armenian Genocide (e.g siagning Treaty of Lausanne ...)
Turkish Gorbatschow or Turkish politicians like the German ones who made peace with Jewish nation are NOT BORNE YET!
For President Gul the deported Armenians of 1915 “were terrorists” and for Erdogan “Turkish nation has nothing to be ashamed!“ (waw).. CHP and MHP would implement “Armenian Genocide” for Kurds if tomorrow were the beginning of a third World War!
Any way we need a kind of dialog with Turkey without exaggerating or have wrong expectation of such a dialog !
Imitation of a dialog with Turkey can be “self-deception” and very harmful to Armenia. Turkey is busy “putting traps” for Armenia! Armenia should pursue an aggressive and active foreign policy and develop alternative ways to deal with Turkish lies and racial motivated foreign policy . As long as there is no “U” turn in Turkish relation regarding Armenian Nation!
Turkey needs another 100 years to face its past! Armenia and Armenian Diaspora should demand from Germnay (is democratic and has other humanitarian values!) an "answer" to the Armenian Genocide!
Republic of Azerbaijan is just a creation of Turkish warlord Nuru Pasha. We have to accept this fact. This historic fact will able Turkey any time to turn Azerbaijan being a tool to blackmail Armenia.. . What Turkey expects from Armenian nation is just “unconditional capitulation“ this includes justification and legalization of a Genocide. SHAME ON THIS TURKEY! Therefore Armenian will lost time and resources and gain nothing but allow its own humiliation from “imitation “ of a dialog with Turkey. The other plan/policy of Turkey is blackmailing Armenia . Beside this imitation of a dialog with Turkey will send the wrong signals to EU, US and the world community including Armenian Diaspora.
What Armenia and Armenians need/expect from Turkey is just a “U” turn. This is to stop putting “traps” in front of Armenia. We need a honesty “U” turn of Turkey in its relation with whole Armenian Nation (this includes Armenian Diaspora and NK!)
Yes, there were many courageous Muslims/Turks in Ottoman Turkey who helped Armenians during the genocide. This is a fact as the genocide itself is a fact, But me as an Armenia, I am tired of invented “past Turkish/Armenian love stories” by Turkish editorials and colonists … If we believe Turkish colonists and Turkish politicians: “Ottoman Empire was the paradise on the earth”!
Turkish author ,Elif Shafak, tries to portray in her roman “bastard of Istanbul” the “modern Turks” as a progressive and open-minded nation/people- I would like to believe on this fictions and help it become true. In this case let them (Turks at least the “progressive ones” ) to stop lying , covering up, let Turkey to face the dark pages of Turkish history and let Turkey stop blackmailing Armenian Nation!
September 16, 2008, Preconditions Continue To Remain As Preconditions Even If Not Expressed Directly
VAHRAM ATANESYAN, Head of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the NKR National Assembly, presents his views on the recent developments in the Armenian-Turkish relations.
“All in all, I estimate Mr. Gül’s visit as positive. There are a great number of unresolved issues in the Armenian-Turkish relations, and the ways towards their solution should be sought in the dialogue between Armenia and Turkey, the Armenian people and the Turkish society. In this respect, it is necessary to welcome the Armenian President’s initiative of getting the dialogue on the start. Naturally, it is impossible to make predictions on the future of the Armenian-Turkish relations by one meeting only. Especially considering the fact that during his visit to Baku, the Turkish President made certain accentuations which, in my opinion, do not quite correspond to the reality. The general impression is that Turkey continues to stipulate its relations with Armenia by the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and the fact of the Karabakh issue being unsettled.
This obviously contradicts to the general viewpoint, i.e. there should be no precondition for establishing relations between the two countries.”
“Before and after his visit to Armenia and even during his meeting with Mr. Aliev in Baku, the Turkish President refrained from the traditional practice of communicating with Armenia in the language of ultimatums.”
“Preconditions, in all cases, remain as preconditions regardless whether they are expressed in a direct or indirect manner. President Gül’s visit to Baku testifies to the fact that Turkey does really see those preconditions in its agenda. The conversation is about both the Treaty of Kars and the recognition of the Genocide, as well as the pro-Azerbaijani settlement of the Karabakh issue. I do really have such a feeling.”
“Nevertheless, let’s agree that this was the first case that the Azerbaijani President, in his turn, refrained from bellicose statements and was relatively restrained in his expressions.”
“What restrains the Azerbaijani President is the current situation in the region. Making bellicose statements after the recent developments in South Ossetia will not simply fit the general logic of the regional and geopolitical processes. Therefore, I wouldn’t account for it by the fact that the Turkish President has given Mr. Aliev certain guarantees as a result of which the latter has mitigated his rhetoric.
Or rather, the general atmosphere is such that the Azerbaijani President could not have possibly made a statement on solving the issue of the ‘occupied territories’ through military operations. It would also be illogical to consider the Turkish President’s visit to Armenia as a ‘mutual concession’ to the Armenian side. Whereas the Azerbaijani media and politicians are inclined to interpret Mr. Gül’s visit in their context, saying that the Turkish President has made a concession by visiting Yerevan, and the ‘ball’ is on the playground of the Armenian side, so to say. This is an unserious approach.”
“Does it mean you don’t believe in Mr. Gül’s sincerity when he expresses his willingness to assist in the process of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict?”
“In my opinion, even the Turkish President himself does not believe in his own sincerity when the conversation goes around the fair solution of the Karabakh issue. That’s to say, the accentuations he voiced in Baku do not show any change in Turkey’s attitude; neither do they give any hint that President Gül is going to demonstrate impartiality with respect to the Karabakh issue. This should be clear to everybody.
It’s one thing when the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group or the G-8 Foreign Ministers say that the settlement should be based upon all the fundamental principles of international law including the peoples’ right to self-determination, and quite a different thing when speaking about the ‘occupied territories’ and the return of the refugees, the Turkish President seems to be putting a full stop at this point. By doing this, he actually ‘proofreads’ the general logic of the negotiation process, which implied a mutual concession.
If the President of Turkey puts a full stop after the return of the ‘occupied territories’ and the refugees, and that full stop is political in its nature, then it really doesn’t correspond either to the developments that took place before August and the developments that are taking place now. There is such an impression that Turkey is trying to do something which Azerbaijan didn’t manage to do so far and is assuming the role of a guarantor to prevent Azerbaijan from using force against us. God grant that I were mistaken, and my feeling proved to be wrong.”
“Does the Karabakh side find the replacement of the Co-Chairs acceptable, especially considering that this policy works to the benefit of Turkey and to the detriment of Russia?”
“I don’t think it would be right to prefer one of the mediators to the other. As regards Turkey, its unilateral participation cannot certainly be constructive.
In my opinion, it would be better if the three Co-Chairs continued working on the principles which were being discussed till the last moment and around which the parties had expressed willingness to negotiate in the near future.”
LILIT POGHOSYAN © Hayots Ashkhar September 16, 2008
September 15, 2008 Volkan Vural: Ankara Should Establish Diplomatic Relations With Yerevan Without Wasting Time
The recent visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Armenia can serve as a basis for further development of relations between the two states, said Volkan Vural, the Turkish Ambassador to Armenia in 1991-93. "Diplomatic relations between the two countries must be established, without wasting any time," he said, adding that the opening of the border with Armenia would not only benefit Armenia, but also Turkey. The former ambassador said that Turkey lost a golden opportunity to establish relations with Armenia when the Soviet Union collapsed. “If Turkey had established diplomatic relations with Armenia in 1991, perhaps it would have averted the Karabakh conflict,” he said. Vulral added that the establishment of diplomatic relations would also benefit Azerbaijan. “As to territorial claims, Turkey has an army equal in amount to the entire population of Armenia. So, we must feel safe,” he said, Taraf Turkish newspaper reports. Volkan Vural was the only Turkey’s ambassador to Armenia with residence in Moscow while Yerevan wasn’t represented in Ankara even at the level of Charge d’Affaires. Presently, Karen Mirzoyan, Armenia’s representative to the BSEC (residence in Istanbul), is the only Armenian diplomat in Turkey.
September 15, 2008 Turkey Is Not Indifferent To Armenian Pain, Vural Says
Turkey must immediately apologize to Armenians for the "tragic events of the past," said Volkan Vural, Turkey’s former ambassador to Armenia in 1991-1993, Taraf Turkish newspaper reported. "Although it is difficult to imagine that Turkey would recognize the Genocide, nevertheless, it must apologize to Armenians and other ethnic minorities - Greeks, Assyrians, Kurds - for displacing them and massacres, and allow them to return to the land of their ancestors and become Turkish citizens," said Vural. “It’s important to show that Turkey is not indifferent to the Armenian pain.” "The return of assets and financial restitution are difficult issues to tackle. However, it would be possible to make a symbolic offer of financial restitution," explained Vural, saying that making an apology is an "imperative for a country like Turkey." "The Armenian question cannot be resolved by a commission of historians. Such a commission can only help in the resolution process by analyzing some of the issues," said Vural, adding that the Armenian question can be resolved only by political leaders. "Although the establishment of Armenia-Turkey relations will not entirely vanquish Armenians’ genocide claims, it will provide psychological reprieve. It is imperative to differentiate rhetoric with the realities of life," added Vural. "Turkey must have more faith in itself and not become hostage to the genocide issue," said Vural, adding that Turkey must have strength to acknowledge what has happened in the past and work toward establishing neighborly and friendly relations. "Armenians in the Diaspora will always force the genocide recognition issue," he said. "But if Turkey-Armenia relations are normalized, borders are opened, trade increases and people get wealthy, their pressures would lose effectiveness" said Vural. Volkan Vural was the only Turkey’s ambassador to Armenia with residence in Moscow while Yerevan wasn’t represented in Ankara even at the level of Charge d’Affaires. Presently, Karen Mirzoyan, Armenia’s representative to the BSEC (residence in Istanbul), is the only Armenian diplomat in Turkey.
Karabakh Problem Should Be Resolved By Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey And Russia
The fate of a Caucasus alliance is in the hands of leading regional powers - Russia and Turkey, a Russian expert said. "All understand that conflicts damage not only political but also economic relations. Armenia is surrounded by Turkey and Azerbaijan, what hampers it economic development," said Alexander Sotnichenko, senior lecturer at St. Petersburg State University. At the same time he remarked that routing its oil via Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, Baku suffers huge losses. "The pipe goes around Armenia, thus becoming one of the most expensive and unprofitable," he said. "The problems should be resolved consistently, without interference of countries which don't know anything about the situation in Caucasus," the expert emphasized. As to absence of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno Karabakh in the Stability and Cooperation Platform, Sotnichenko said, it's not an obstacle for economic and political ties. "Russia and Japan hasn't signed a peaceful agreement yet, but it doesn't hamper normal relations. Turkey has the problem of Cyprus. The EU views Turkey as occupant but enjoys good relations with it. So, such problems are solvable," he said. Touching on the Karabakh problem, the expert said, "If we recognize Karabakh, we will damage relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. The problem should be resolved through talks, with participation of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia," Nakanune.ru reports. September 16, 2008
Ara Papyan: How Can We Trust Armenia's Security To Turkey?
Turkey's Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform will hardly be implemented, Armenian historian Ara Papyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. A plan 3+3+2 (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, U.S. and EU) failed several years ago, he reminded. "The same story will be now. I can't understand how we can trust Armenia's security to Turkey. Is there anybody who thinks that one football match can reconcile the two countries? Turkey seeks domination in the region. But neither Russia nor the U.S. wants a strong Turkey. So, they will not hurry to support the initiative," he said. At that, he noted that Turkey pursues an insidious policy, urging to form a commission of historians to study the fact of the Armenian Genocide. "Armenia should insist that denial of the Genocide and its consequences is a shameful page in Turkish history. No relations are possible unless Turkey acknowledges it. We should beware of Turkish interference in any Armenian affair," the diplomat concluded.
September 16, 2008
Ara Papyan: Turkey's Presence In Karabakh Process Is Inadmissible
"President Serzh Sargsyan describes Turkey's intention to join the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement process as contribution but, in my opinion, Turkey is aspired to become a mediator," Ara Papyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. No good will come out of Turkish mediation, according to him. "Just a couple of days ago President Gul said in Baku that Turks are Azeris are one nation. A mediating country should have a neutral position, but I can't say much for Turkey. The same refers to Iran. I am convinced that Armenia doesn't need any change in the OSCE Minsk Group format. Actually, instead of France, Russia and the U.S., we risk having regional mediators, which will pursue their own ends. It will be extremely offending for Armenia," he said. Earlier, Turkish President Abdullah Gul announced his intention to mediate between the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents. "The OSCE Minsk Group failed to produce effect during 17 years of its mediation. Turkey-Armenia and Azerbaijan-Armenia issues are not only bilateral but also territorial. The situation in the region has changed. Resolution of conflicts will lead to political and economic stability," he said. Today, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also expressed Iran's readiness to mediate between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh issue.
Turkey And Armenia Inch Forward, Over Soccer, The Two Countries' Leaders Begin To Work On The Future Instead Of Getting Mired In The Past. By Hugh Pope , September 16, 2008
The soccer was disappointing: A scrappy game on a rough pitch whipped by turbulent winds that sent many a pass askew. But the Armenia-Turkey World Cup qualifier in Yerevan, Armenia's capital, on Sept. 6 was an almost unbelievable event. The 2-0 victory for the Turks was beside the point. All eyes were on the two countries' presidents, sitting together in the stadium -- albeit behind bulletproof glass -- in a brave attempt to bury one of the Caucasus' most bitter legacies.
This was the first visit by a Turkish head of state to Armenia, and it was all the more remarkable for taking place less than a month after Russia's invasion of Georgia set the Caucasus on a knife's edge. It's part of a realignment in which Turkey, caught between its NATO membership and its energy reliance on Russia, is pushing for a regional diplomatic initiative that would bring together Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey.
Within that context, Armenians and Turks are seizing a chance to stop their futures being mortgaged to history. That includes the dispute about the Armenians' demand that the Turks recognize there was a genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 that killed 1.5 million Armenians, many of them women and children. Turkey, which succeeded to that empire in 1923, agrees that hundreds of thousands died as a result of massacres, forced marches, famine and disease, but it says that this was World War I, that many Turks were killed by Armenians and that the Armenian militia was openly aligned with the invading forces of the Ottomans' enemy, the Russians.
It is not just the Armenian side that has to overcome bitterness. Armenian attacks from 1973 to 1994 killed 42 members of the Turkish foreign ministry and their families all over the world, including, in 1973 and 1982, Turkish consuls general in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Turkey also closed its border with Armenia in sympathy with Azerbaijan during the 1988-94 Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which Armenians, seeking self-determination for that Armenian-majority enclave, seized more than 15% of Azerbaijan and drove more than 700,000 Azeris from their homes (more than 400,000 Armenians also fled or were driven from Azerbaijan).
The two sides do not have formal diplomatic relations, but Turkish President Abdullah Gul's visit to Yerevan, at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, did not come out of the blue.
Turkey has in recent years pushed its idea that the genocide issue should be turned over to a mutually agreed, neutral commission of historians, although many Armenians in the diaspora, mainly in California, France and Lebanon, want full recognition of the genocide to come before normalized diplomatic relations. In April, Armenia elected Sargsyan, who began to stress Armenia's desire for normalization. Formerly secret meetings between Armenian and Turkish diplomats are now moving forward faster and with greater transparency.
Turkey has many reasons for reaching out to Armenia beyond stability in the Caucasus. Seeking regional influence, it is working to improve relations with all its 10 difficult neighbors, and notably with Cyprus, where it is backing progress toward a settlement to reunite Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the Mediterranean island. It wants to show that it can resolve disputes, which will bolster its negotiations to join the European Union. It also needs moral points in its struggle with the Armenian lobby, which will next year almost certainly try again to win U.S. official recognition of an Armenian genocide.
Trouble in the neighborhood is also concentrating minds in Armenia, which spun free of the Soviet Union in 1991. Its future no longer seems secure, given its near total strategic dependence on a newly assertive Russia, a border with a difficult Iran and the fact that 70% of its trade passes through unstable Georgia.
There were fewer Armenian boos and hisses for Gul in the soccer stadium than might have been expected, nationalist parties muted their opposition, and the several hundred protesters along his motorcade route simply held placards demanding genocide recognition. Participants said real warmth characterized the relations between the officials, who rediscovered how close Turkish and Armenian cuisine and social culture remain.
In Turkey, meanwhile, almost all major media commentators cheered Gul's decision to travel to Armenia, and two-thirds of Turks told pollsters they approved. A top retired Turkish ambassador publicly suggested that Turkey would do well to exchange ambassadors, open the border, apologize for the events of 1915 and offer compensation and even citizenship for the descendants of those expelled.
A dispute that has done Turkey and the Caucasus so much harm may have begun to abate. As Gul put it: "We are all the children of the same Earth, with memories that are both bitter and sweet."
Hugh Pope is author of "Turkey Unveiled: a History of Modern Turkey" and is Turkey project director for International Crisis Group.
Armenians and Turks
1. The politics of the region is somewhat similar to what the politics are with Israel and its neighbors. Since Armenia accepted Christianity in 301 AD it was singled out as the black sheep of the region and was isolated from its muslim neighbors. The history speaks for itself and the world does not need a group of sophists to put their spin on it. I enjoyed Guls Quote at the end of the article and do hope that these two groups can find a way to co-exist. by: PeterPatience, 2:25 PM PDT, September 16, 2008
2. Peace and friendship are great things we all want, in both countries. The visit was a positive step, but vulnerable to abuse by media. Truth and respect for scholarly historical research are other great concepts which the Armenian lobbies in the US seem to have low regard for. I hope a joint neutral historical commission completes its work and we all breathe some peace in my lifetime!!
by: Ege Yildirim, September 16, 2008
3. It is not 'a couple of Turkish propaganda groups' but the Turkish diplomatic community, my family is part of which, who state that more than 100 attacks were committed by Armenian terrorists between 1973-91. My friends lost their parents in one of those attacks.
by: Ege Yildirim September 16, 2008
4. First of all, the media is making too much a big deal out of this. Opening the border doesn't mean that Armenia will flourish and diminish low economic standards. Look at Georia, they have an open border with turkey and they even have a route to the ocean; they aren't doing that great. The issue behind the genocide is reparations; that is the only factor that can normalize their relations. Either land or a lot of money, even then Armenians and Turks will never be close. Overall, Turkey has gotten itself into a huge hole and i don't see how it is going to get out of it.
by: John P. 11:40 AM PDT, September 16, 2008
5. The question is what do the people who live in Armenia and Turkey want, not the ones who live abroad and certainly not those of us out here with our opinions which we think is so righteous. If the people who live in these two countries want to get over the past and get to a relationship of sharing their similar cultures and possibly enjoying each other as neighbors, then the rest of us need to shut up, stay out of it, and keep our pathetic nit picking opinions to ourselves. It is their lives, not ours.
by: Tim September 16, 2008
6. I would like to simply point out that the lack of diplomatic ties and an open border all these years has been 100% Turkey's decision. Armenia has always said they were happy to have both. Turkey, unfortunately wanted to punish Armenians for bringing up the big Turkish shame (the Armenian Genocide) and for holding onto a piece of land that they've inhabited for thousands of years (Karabakh) despite the Turkish occupation of N. Cyprus making their stance so hypocritical. So many years wasted.
by: Raffi Kojian, September 16, 2008
7. No matter what happens regarding how many countries recognize the genocide claim, it wont do any good to the people living in Armenia and Turkey now, in today's realities. Armenia would be benefitting greatly by such a warming relationship with Turkey as it is now isolated from the rest of the world and have a very poor living standards due to the lack of border trade. Perhaps, the only credit Gul would deserve during AKP's reign would be his willingness to show a positive attitude towards mutual resolution between these two great cultures.
by: JudasPriest September 16, 2008
8. The assertion that Armenian murders went on until 1994 is a gross exaggeration used by a couple Turkish propaganda groups. There was nothing past the early 80s. Some Turkish groups do count a few attacks by Greeks against Turkish officials in the 80s and 90s as "Armenian terrorism" however in a way of extending by a decade the spectre of these attacks. I question the source of Mr. Pope's facts for this article if such an easily disprovable mistake slipped through.
by: Paul, September 16, 2008
Whither Turkish-Armenian Relations? Nicholas Birch in Istanbul September 16, 2008
As symbolic gestures go, Turkish President Abdullah Gul's attendance at an Armenia-Turkey football match in Yerevan on September 6 could not have been bettered.
The first visit by a senior Turkish politician since Armenia became independent 17 years ago, it has sparked an upsurge of fraternal feeling on both sides of a border closed since 1993. And the signs are that there is more to come. If Armenia agrees to renounce territorial claims on eastern Turkey implicit in its founding charter, one senior Turkish diplomat says: "We could see diplomatic relations begun and rail links restarted within six months."
"The two sides are in agreement over a surprising number of issues," agrees Richard Giragosian, a Yerevan-based analyst, describing Armenia's invitation of Gul as "a vital foreign policy victory" for the Caucasian state's embattled government. Armenia stands to benefit enormously from the rapprochement. With its Azeri and Turkish borders closed, Georgia has been its only window on the West. When Russia wrecked Georgian infrastructure in August, it was Armenians, not Georgians, who suffered from food shortages.
It is no coincidence either that the two Turkish provinces bordering Armenia are the country's poorest. For years, politicians in Kars and Igdir have been calling for the border to be opened. Trade between the two countries "would slow rapid population movement away from eastern Turkey," says former Turkish ambassador to Russia, Volkan Vural. "It would provide Central Asia-bound exporters with a good new route. Plus energy security would be improved if Armenia joins current energy projects."
Though Turkey has increasingly used its key position on the "East-West" corridor connecting Europe to the Caspian as a card in its stumbling EU negotiations, such optimism seems premature, for three reasons.
Reasons not to be cheerful
First, it ignores the fact that Armenia's border with Azerbaijan has been closed since the 1988-1994 armed conflict that took place in the small ethnic enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the predominantly ethnic Armenians and Azeri forces. Azerbaijan showed considerable statesmanship in backing the Turkish-Armenian rapprochement. But there is no sign of progress on Nagorno-Karabakh. Instead, enriched with oil and gas money, Baku now spends $1bn annually on military rearmament. Belligerent rhetoric about re-taking lost territories is, if anything, on the up.
Second, and much more importantly, Turkey's talk of a new Caucasian pact appears to ignore the key lesson of August's conflict in South Ossetia; in today's Caucasus, Russia is boss. The August bust-up "was clearly not about Ossetia, only a little about Georgia, only a little about Nato, and a huge amount about geopolitics," says David Smith, director of the Georgian Security Analysis Center in Tbilisi. "It was a shot fired at the East-West corridor, a warning to BP, ExxonMobil, anybody hoping to loosen Gazprom's hold on Central Asia."
With Russian bombs falling within 200 metres of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, Georgia's neighbours seem to have got the message. Azerbaijan recently upped oil exports via Russian pipelines when BTC flow was interrupted by a Turkish Kurdish separatist sabotage attack on the pipeline on August 6. And when US Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Baku on September 3 to drum up local support for a trans-Caspian gas line, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev turned him down.
With the future of Nabucco, a hugely expensive EU-backed gas pipeline due to bring Caspian gas direct to Europe by 2013, looking increasingly doubtful, some analysts hint at the possibility of rerouting the East-West corridor through Armenia. But this talk of Armenia offering new energy security possibilities misses another point: Georgia earned its position on the East-West corridor thanks to its staunch pro-American stance; Armenia, meanwhile, to cite Richard Giragosian, is little better than "a Russian garrison state."
Visitors to Yerevan have their passports stamped by Russian border guards. Armenia's energy and telecommunication sectors have been in Russian hands since 2005 and 2006 respectively. Russian Railways bought Armenian railways this January. In that context, Giragosian argues, opening the Turkish-Armenian border risks abetting Russian efforts to sideline Georgia. "The key question Turkey needs to ask itself over Armenia," he says, "is do we have a partner on the other side."
"Football Diplomacy" between Armenia and Turkey, Hawks and Agitators Marginalised
The FIFA World Cup qualifying match that wrote diplomatic history: Turkey played in Armenia last Saturday. And this gave the governments of the two neighbouring countries that have long been deeply at odds a chance for rapprochement. Baha Güngör comments
No notable events occurred during Abdullah Gül's visit on Saturday as the first Turkish president to set foot in the Republic of Armenia since its founding in 1991. A few small groups protested, but they, as well as the "hawks" in Ankara, who even accused Gül of "betraying the fatherland", received little attention from the international community.
Armenian head of state Serge Sarkisyan proved to be a congenial host and refrained from statements that could have strained the atmosphere. The nationalist extremists and agitators had no opportunity to put on a major display.
That Gül would end the holy month of Ramadan with its prescribed days of fast in Armenia of all places at the side of the Armenian president is due to the drawing of qualifying groups for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
Triumph of reason
There were many fears, but in the end reason triumphed. After the recent Georgia conflict, Turkey and Armenia must be more aware than ever that striving for peace and for a solution to their existing conflicts is much better than insisting on nationalist and irrational extremist positions.
Both Armenia and Turkey passed the international test of diplomatic maturity on the football field with flying colours. In the stadium's honorary box seats they watched the game together. And television images of their friendly gestures symbolise the willingness of both sides to enter into dialogue.
Armenia is very interested in opening as soon as possible the border it shares with Turkey, which has been closed since 1993. This is also in Turkey's interest, which is searching for new routes to transport crude oil and natural gas out of the Caspian region.
In 1991, Turkey was among the first countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union to recognise the new Republic of Armenia. But the historical territorial demands made by the Armenians angered Turkey so much that diplomatic relations were broken off in 1993 and the border was closed.
Chance for dialogue
In one year the return match will be held in Turkey. Time enough for diplomats on both sides to free themselves from the ballast of historical necessities and to push forward the process of dialogue. Almost a century has passed since the events of 1915-1916.
For Armenia the death of hundreds of thousands of Armenians was "genocide". Internationally cautious diplomats talk about "massacres". Turkey repudiates the number of 1.5 million Armenians and admits only around 200,000 killed "in the chaos of World War I".
Meanwhile diehard Turkish nationalists are rendering their country poor service and have accused Gül of "betraying the fatherland" after his trip to Yerevan.
This circle still does not want to accept that the concept of the nation state has changed radically in the 21st century. In Europe nations who fought and caused even greater destruction and human suffering in the Second World War have come together to forge a lasting peace.
In the Balkans internationally backed efforts are fully underway to work through the atrocities of the 1990s and to pave the way to peace.
That Turkey and Armenia have the stature to make peace for the benefit of both countries is the best outcome of the football match, the victor of which was Turkey. But both Gül and Sarkisyan walked away with the diplomatic victory.
Baha Güngör © Deutsche Welle / Qantara.de 2008 http://www.qantara.de
Kaan Soyak: In Case Of New War In Karabakh, Turkey Will Assume Impartial Position
The visit of Turkish president Abdullah Gul to Armenia made a big stir in the region. Informal contact between the leaders of the two countries, who have exercised ping-pong diplomacy, can lead toward normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Kaan Soyak, Chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council (TABC) commented to PanARMENIAN.Net on the recent developments.
How do you assess the arrival of Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Yerevan?
Arrival of Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul in Yerevan was an important and resolute step. The fact that he invited Mr Sargsyan to Istanbul is no less important. We never thought that President Sargsyan will invite his Turkish counterpart to Armenia and that Mr Gul will accept the invitation. But it happened. I should mention that the internal political situation in Turkey did not affect the President’s decision. Moreover, judging by publications in Armenia and Turkish press, the public in both states welcome normalization of relations and opening of the border. I am hopeful that Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Istanbul in 2009 will be another step toward normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. We are neighbors. The region should be secure and peaceful. This refers not only to South Caucasus countries but also to Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.
What is more important for Turkey: recognition of the Armenian Genocide or resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict?
Recognition of 1915 events as genocide is a more important issue for Turkey than Karabakh. A commission of historians should be formed to deal with the issue. Only after that, opening of the border would become possible. As to the Karabakh problem, Turkey can help the settlement process. The conflict is a regional issue and war is not the best way to resole it. I am convinced that Azerbaijan will never start war against Nagorno Karabakh but if it does, Turkey will assume an impartial position.
Do you think normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations will help Turkey to join the EU?
Readiness to normalize relations with Armenia can be described as a move toward the EU membership. One of EU conditions is normal relations with neighbors. Although we don’t think that Europe is ready to accept a 70-million Muslim country, we continue reforms. At that, normalization of relations is as well important for Armenia, which participates in the ENP.
Media reports about possible opening of the border for transportation of humanitarian cargo…
When the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict broke out, some Armenian and Turkish organizations requested Ankara to lift the blockade for a humanitarian corridor. There is no talk about it yet. But I believe that it will happen sooner than we expect.
Anca Outlines Concerns About Gul Visit To Armenia
"For this initiative to succeed, Turkey's leaders need to view this as a true opportunity for enduring peace, not simply as a photo opportunity to help alleviate the growing international pressure it is under to recognize the Armenian Genocide."
-- ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian
WASHINGTON, DC -- The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has expressed hopes and reservations regarding Turkey's President Abdullah Gul's impending visit to Armenia, at the invitation by Armenian President Serzh Sarkisyan, to watch the September 6th Turkey vs. Armenia soccer match in Armenia's capital, Yerevan.
"We are, as you can imagine, watching this matter with vigilance, mindful of the risks that Armenia is taking for peace, hopeful that Yerevan's diplomatic initiative will bear fruit, yet cautious regarding the realistic prospects for progress given Ankara's longstanding and deeply troubling track record of antagonism toward Armenia," explained ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian, in a September 4th letter to House and Senate Members. Click here to read the complete text of the letter.
Recognizing that this visit cannot, by itself, substitute for real progress in improved Armenia-Turkey relations, Hachikian remained hopeful "that Armenia's pro-active diplomacy, if matched with real movement by Turkey, can serve as a first, cautious step toward a true reconciliation based on truth and justice."
To that end, Hachikian outlined some immediate and long-term steps President Gul could take to demonstrate his sincerity in accepting President Sarkisyan's invitation, including showing the "willingness to walk the mile from Armenia's national soccer stadium to the 'Dzidzernagapert' Armenian Genocide Memorial, a tradition long honored by foreign dignitaries visiting Yerevan." In the days and weeks following President Gul's departure from Armenia, Hachikian urged:
"* Lifting domestic restrictions on the study, discussion, and recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and abandoning opposition to international recognition and commemoration of this crime against humanity - including by the White House and the U.S. Congress.
* Lifting its blockade of Armenia, allowing free Armenian access to its traditional transportation routes, ending its opposition to the incorporation of Armenia in regional and international initiatives impacting the Southern Caucasus, and removing restrictions on Armenian stewardship of cultural and religious heritage sites within Turkey.
* Publicly and in practice adopting a truly neutral position as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group charged with mediating a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict, ending military support for Azerbaijan's armed forces, and openly calling on all parties to reject any non-peaceful resolution to this conflict.
* Lifting all restrictions on the collective rights of the Armenian community in Turkey.
* Accepting Armenia's offer to negotiate the establishment of normal diplomatic relations without any preconditions, and agreeing to resolve all outstanding bilateral issues in a peaceful, non-violent manner."
Turkey: Repression Continues Despite So-Called “reform”
European Armenian Federation For Justice And Democracy, Bruxelles, Press Release 15 September 2008
Article 301 still oppresses in Turkey despite the law’s supposed reform and Gül’s visit to Armenia
According to the independent Turkish press, AKP Minister of Justice, Mr. Mehmet Ali Şahin, has authorized the prosecution of Turkish intellectual dissident Temel Demirer under Article 301.
During a tribute dedicated to Hrant Dink, Temel Demirer stated: “We live in a country where not shouting the truth makes us complicit in the murder. Hrant was killed not only because he was an Armenian, but because he voiced the truth about the Genocide in this country. If Turkish intellectuals do not commit the crime outlined in Article 301 301 times, then they will be accomplices to this murder. There is genocide in our history. It’s called the Armenian Genocide. […]. Those who massacred Armenians yesterday are attacking our Kurdish brothers today. Those who desire the brotherhood of peoples must reconcile with this history. […]. I ask everyone to commit this crime. Yes, there was Armenian Genocide in this country.”
Demirer had been prosecuted under Article 301 because of this statement. However, in the spring, the Turkish Assembly achieved a semblance of reform which replaced the crime of insulting “Turkishness” with insulting the Turkish nation and which required that the filing of cases by authorized by the Ministry of Justice. Unlike Human Rights organizations, the European Commission and Parliaments hailed this so-called reform.
The European Armenian Federation recounts the comments of Mr. Demirer’s lawyer: “We were expecting this decision. With this decision, they have just proven that their promises regarding the European Union, democracy, structural reforms and human rights are all fairytales. On the one hand, they go to Armenia to watch a football match, on the other hand they are filing cases under Article 301.”
“This is yet another indication that Article 301 is not compatible with a democratic society and that it must be thoroughly repealed. Turkey must take steps now toward full and comprehensive recognition of the Genocide; otherwise, it will be clear that Gül’s show in Armenia was just a PR ploy with no foundation” said Laurent Leylekian, the executive director of the European Armenian Federation.
The European Armenian Federation emphasizes that there is a current reality in Turkey that is far different from the illusions propagated by Ankara’s PR strategy. The Federation calls upon the European Commission, Council and Parliament to act according to this reality.
Addendum: since the initial release of this PR in French (11 Sept.), the Turkish Ministry of Justice allowed prosecuting another intellectual, columnist Ahmet Altan, for the very same reason, i.e. for having affirmed the Armenian Genocide.
The Anti-Defamation League: We Do Not Deny Genocide 17 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
With the appointment of a new director for the region of the New England Anti-Defamation League has anticipated a new controversy about the Armenian Genocide and the association has thus released Friday, August 22, 2008 a new declaration.
Date: August 22, 2008 Through our partnership, communities have received thousands of shares entitled "No Place for Hate" who have committed tens of thousands of residents of Massachusetts. (...) We are deeply affected by questions about the position of our organization with regard to the Armenian Genocide. The ADL has never denied the tragic and painful events committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians and we have referred to these massacres and atrocities as genocide. All anti-hate the ADL classify genocide as the supreme crime against humanity. There is simply no basis for the false accusations that we would have engaged in some form of denial of a genocide and we believe this characterization of the ADL crossed the frontier of acceptable criticism and falls into the category of demonization. We sincerely hope that this will clarify our position and that we can continue to work together to bring this awareness and education to communities throughout the Commonwealth.
Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, http://www.armenews.com/
Armenia Is Ready To Work With Turkey To The Renovation Of Monuments In Armenia 17 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
Turkey and Armenia must pursue a more cultural cooperation that will do more to heal the historical trauma that diplomacy "said Minister of Culture of Armenia in an exclusive interview with Turkish Daily News.
Hasmik Pogosyan has appealed to Turkish Minister of Culture Ertugrul Günay to improve relations between the two countries. "We will start working in full cooperation in the cultural field to help new generations to overcome the trauma."
Hasmig Pogosyan said, "We lost our families during the genocide and have been forced to leave the country where we were born. But it is also a fact that many families Turkish conscientious helped us during these painful events. How can we deny the reality and blame entirely Turkish society. "
Dialogue and cooperation in the cultural field have more meaning that diplomatic relations, said Hasmik Pogosyan adding it could lead to a speedy rapprochement between the Turkish and Armenian.
Many relics and cultural sites of the ancient civilization of Armenia placed within the boundaries of modern Turkey, Pogosyan said, adding that the Ministry of Culture of Armenia wanted to work with his Turkish counterpart to renovate future generations. Hasmik Pogosyan said that his greatest dream would be to organize a festival celebrating Turkey in Armenia.
Ms. Pogosyan said that the church Aghtamar in a small island on Lake Van in Turkey was important. "The renovation of such structures is significant in terms of transition to the younger generations. But Turkey neglected one thing: Is it correct to call a church a museum? "She said.
Ms. Pogosyan said that the restoration his ministry was ready to provide any logistical support to the Turkish authorities to ensure that the restorations were made in accordance with the characteristics of the original structures.
"The Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey was not seen as important by official policy," says Pogosyan. "Regardless of the denial, we simply can not change history," she said. She drew attention to the restoration work which will soon begin on the ruins of the Armenian town of Ani. She said that his ministry was ready to collaborate with the Turkish Ministry of Culture on this project.
She said that the Armenian Ministry of Culture was ready to work on the translation of literary Turkish Armenian and they are printed in Armenia. Given the fact that Turkish and Armenian often discuss the origins of food and music Ms. Pogosyan said, "I hate such discussions. The two peoples have existed together for centuries, they shared their emotions, have shared their lives, have shared their food and folk songs. How can you say that a song belongs to a people? Such debates are useless for both sides. "
An Overwhelming Majority Of Armenian Society Has A Positive View Of The Visit Of President Gül 17 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
According to the President Sarkissian, an overwhelming majority of Armenian society has a positive view of the visit of President Gül. The objective of improving the climate between the two countries is reached. A willingness to address the problems between the two countries is also present in Turkey.
On relations between Russia and Georgia, the President believes that Armenia has a strategic relationship with Russia on the one hand, neighbourly ties with Georgia, on the other. It is therefore up to Armenia to respect its commitments, as a neighbour and as a strategic partner. / Hahyastani Harapétoutiun, Hayots Achkhar /
Embassy of France in Armenia, Press Service
Comments By Representatives Of Political Forces On The Armenian Presidential Statement Gül On The Return To Azerbaijan Territories 17 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
Aravot, Azg, 168 Jam and Tchorord Ichanoutiun publish some comments from representatives of political forces on the Armenian presidential statement Gül on the return to Azerbaijan territories.
Levon Zourabian, coordinator of the National Congress of the opposition announced to "A1 +" that nothing on that earned Armenia and Upper Karabakh had been mentioned during the visit of President Gül. This suggests that Serge Sarkissian is "conducive to compromise unacceptable to go legitimate in the eyes of the international community". According to Hovhannes Margarian (party "rule of law"), "There is a foreign policy balanced and constructive, break the ice and establish economic ties, without preconditions with Turkey." Aram Safarian Party (Prosperous Armenia) said "I do not want to comment on reports of Turkish media." Edourd Charmazanov (Republican) found that: "It is clear that Turkey is pro-Azerbaijani". Regarding the statement by President Sarkissian, his approach is outlined in the programme of the party. "
In an interview with Hayots Achkhar Vahan Hovhannissian (Dachnak Party) said that "If for the opening of the border you have to pay the price of territorial compromise unjustified, we must bear in mind that it would return some thing without being able to resume later, while Turkey will always have the possibility, if it so wishes, closing roads. "
Embassy of France in Armenia Press Service
Ahmet Altan Article In Taraf Translated By Nor Marmara "Ah! Little Brother! "By Ahmet Altan 16 September 2008, by Stéphane / armenews
Editor's Note Nor Marmara: The remarkable writer Ahmed Altan, in the Turkish newspaper "Taraf" Thursday, September 11, during the first visit of President Gül had written a touching and very moving that has left on readers feel a great spiritual lesson. We highly appreciate Ahmet Altan for moving the text and we translate, with the certainty that our readers will have tears in their eyes to read.
Kiffer Louise English translation.
"When I write about the Armenians, my arm lengthens a strange way to a melody breaking the heart of men.
I want to listen to a sound special violin music or sad doudouk.
Although in this country we do not talk about it, however, on the earth, is one of the greatest suffering that this nation has endured.
Do not say suddenly "They too have killed"
It's really shameful to say such a thing.
The Armenian groups on the Russian border, and of Armenian Boursa, the old Adana, the child of Sivas, what links they had with each other?
Otherwise being Armenian.
The Ittihadistes organized a ruthless genocide
Wait a minute
Wait, I ask you ...!
One evening, you're sitting at home, knocks on the door, you grab power and takes you on.
The door of your home remains open
You are ordered to put you in road
At midnight, upside down, all on the crowd, it makes you go through mountain paths.
Right next to you, an old woman, exhausted, spread the floor.
She died in moaning.
His small-son crying, it smashes against the rocks
You think all this is storytelling?
Do you know what you mean by "Teskilat-i-Mehsusa"?
This means: Special Organization
This organization of Ittihadistes appalling.
Is this already happened that violates your wife in front of your eyes?
Is this already happened that strikes your husband in the chest and that kills before your eyes?
Have you ever happened while you were sitting at home at lunchtime, you are thrown to the ground and drags you out and takes you, simply for being born Turkish?
Only and only to be born Armenian, for this reason alone, and that has led to thousands of people.
Apart from being Armenian, there was no other reason for being kills.
We have a conscience
Simply for the fact that we have the same blood do we get the Ittihadistes, Teskilat-i-Mehsusa, and should we not cry for the death of a child of another people?
Do you know just how many thousands of Armenians were killed the Ittihadistes by laying on the rocks?
They killed them only because they were Armenian.
They drowned in rivers.
They passed over the sword while they were extended by land, tired, exhausted.
They looted the property of Armenians killed.
Think a bit like a young Armenian the soft-spoken, an Armenian grandmother rieuse, black eyes, a master sculptor extensive hands giving a soul to stone ...
A young Armenian lovers
A teenager Armenian ...
Think about it
And think of all this at midnight on a mountain path.
Hungry, tired, exhausted and only
Knowing well that leads to death
Knowing well that they walk to death
And they will be killed.
Hundreds of thousands of
Hundreds of thousands of beings ...
Their race has it really matter?
Just imagine that draws your husband by the throat, and that takes him, and hit a rock.
Frankly, you do not you move because it is only due to be born Armenian they had to endure such suffering?
One minute, one minute, put yourself in the place of these beings.
A second only feel their helplessness.
To understand what the assassination of man you like, look after your inner world.
And since we are Turkish, should we be blind to the suffering experienced by others?
The Ittihadistes have committed great sins.
They killed many people.
They removed a race and are passed.
And we, for many years, we have prevented these men to raise their well-loved by songs from the heart?
Even these songs moving us seemed too many.
We were always lied.
We were told that they, too, we killed them.
On the Russian border, there were Turks Mahométans, and they were killed by rebel groups in Armenia.
They too were savages.
But women of Malatia, Boursa, Sivas, Marache, Adana, children, men, old people, what relationship they had with these rebels?
The Ittihadistes killed simply because they were Armenians.
And in the end we were irritated by the grandchildren of beings that we killed because they wanted their talk of "those days".
If you had killed your grandmother, your grandfather, your father, your mother, you would not protest aloud about this?
N'auriez you not want to feel indebted to them?
Do not hold Ittihadistes, criminals, carrying guns thirst for blood.
You are closer, not one of them, but those who died.
You are human.
And today we are moving in "their" country.
I do not know if we'll succeed, but ...
If only to remember those days, our eyes also s'emplissaient tears and that we can whisper: "forgive us"
Maybe our backs s'allégerait great weight, and perhaps an Armenian with a big moustache, we would have smiled on this path, where a boundary had been drawn for us.
Turkish Mass Media Works Under Restrictions 17.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The mass media in Turkey, including the Armenian-language press, works under certain restrictions, Ara Kochunyan, editor-in-chief of Zhamanak Istanbul-based Armenian-language newspaper, told a news conference in Yerevan.
"We do not use the term 'genocide' in our newspaper not because we deny this fact. This is a very sensitive issue in Turkey. Our newspaper publishes various versions of the 1915 events and the readers make conclusions," he said, adding that terminology is given a back seat in the issue.
"The Armenian community of Istanbul is in an awkward position. On the one hand, we are Turkish citizens. On the other hand, we are the heirs of the victims of the 1915 events, when several dozens of thousands of people was all that has remained from a 200-thousand Armenian community. We have to keep it in mind," Kochunyan said and added, "Each editor has his "inner censor."
Zhamanak was based in 1908 and is one of a few Armenian-language newspapers in the Diaspora.
Walking Carefully From Transdnestr To Yerevan, By Fyodor Lukyanov, The Moscow Times, Sept 17 2008, Russia
Following the tumultuous events in the Caucasus, the struggle for influence in the former Soviet republics has turned into an open confrontation. Moscow has clearly articulated its policy toward its neighbors, calling those regions Russia's exclusive sphere of influence. By trying to create its own geographical sphere of influence, Moscow is essentially pushing for a multipolar world --a global system of competing power centers with each attempting to strengthen and extend its reach.
The very idea of establishing an exclusive sphere of influence is inherently confrontational since Russia's international partners would never agree to such a model. Western politicians' oft-repeated refrain is that it is inadmissible to apply 19th-century principles in the 21st century. At the outbreak of the current crisis, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington would not allow Moscow to achieve its strategic goals. Of course, the United States does not consider its own goals to be a return to the 19th century. After all, it does not have a regional sphere of influence in the classic sense. Its interests encompass the whole world.
The European Union categorically rejects the rhetoric likening current events to the epoch of the Great Game, insisting that modern international relations are built upon a different foundation. But that has not stopped the EU from attempting to expand its model on its neighbors. Thus, the EU is effectively increasing its own exclusive sphere of influence.
China is the third major participant in post-Soviet politics. Beijing views any discussion of spheres of influence as being attributes of Western -- including Russian -- colonialism, characterized by contemptuous and arrogant attitudes toward others. This is why it would be futile to expect China to support Russia's new course. Beijing portrays its own ambitions for expansion in terms of a desire for global harmony. In practice, this means the steady promotion of China's economic interests wherever and whenever possible. Central Asia is the region in which both Beijing and Moscow have strong interests. This region is the most valuable chunk of the post-Soviet landscape. Its huge energy deposits make it the choice prize in the larger geopolitical standoff.
It is not difficult to imagine that Central Asia could become the focal point for future conflicts.
Russia is taking active diplomatic strides in the Transdnestr territorial problem. The Kremlin wants to prove that it can resolve crises through diplomacy and not only through military force.
In all likelihood, Moscow's terms for resolving that situation will involve neutralizing Moldova by forbidding it to join NATO and insisting that Russia maintain a military presence on its territory. It is hard to imagine that Washington would simply sit and twiddle its thumbs were such a resolution imminent. If the United States and Europe were unhappy with that possibility in 2003, they would hardly agree to it now, especially given the prevailing competition for influence in the region.
If the United States and the EU do step in and disrupt the agreement again, it will prove that their motivation is not to preserve Moldova's territorial integrity, but to prevent Chisinau from falling under Moscow's sphere of influence.
But Russia's frustration at seeing its efforts derailed for a second time could complicate the situation. Of course, recognition of Transdnestr's independence is not likely to be in the offing. In that case, it is unclear what to do with the territory Ukraine rudely severed from Russia, and any resolution of the conflict would remain only a theoretical possibility.
Belarus is the second object of potential rivalry. The more the East-West conflict heats up, the more important Minsk becomes. For Russia, Minsk is the only exception to the number of ill-wishers that flank its western border. For Brussels and Washington, Minsk represents an opportunity to snatch from Moscow its ally. Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko is a master at squeezing an advantage out of any situation and now a huge opportunity has opened before him.
>>From the West, the Belarussian leader wants official recognition of the legitimacy of his upcoming parliamentary elections, a thawing in political relations with the United States and greater contacts with the EU. From Moscow, it wants natural gas discounts and, if possible, other economic perks.
Lukashenko has already made conciliatory gestures toward the West by releasing political prisoners -- including presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin -- and relaxed restrictions against the opposition during the election campaign.
Belarus will probably offer Russia military cooperation and joint opposition to NATO -- for a price, naturally. Judging from the evasive language Minsk has used in describing its position in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it is not planning to recognize their independence. But rejecting such a possibility outright is also not in its best interests.
The West has already indicated that it is willing to be flexible. Washington anticipates a more democratic Belarus emerging and does not rule out repealing sanctions against the country's leadership. For now, sanctions have been lifted from two Belarus firms. The EU is likely to follow suit.
The third possible cause of disagreement concerns Georgia's neighbors in the South Caucasus. Azerbaijan is walking a fine line, exhibiting its readiness to cooperate with everyone, but being careful not to move too close to any one particular partner. Yerevan finds itself in a difficult position because of the Russia-Georgia conflict and not only because its oil pipeline passes through Georgian territory. Armenia worries that Moscow will require more concrete forms of support from fellow Collective Security Treaty Organization member countries. But if Yerevan were to spoil its relationship with Georgia -- an important economic partner and home to a significant Armenian population -- it would become more hopelessly isolated. At the same time, upsetting Russia could be dangerous because a great deal is riding on that relationship, including the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.
A possible breakthrough in the impasse between Yerevan and Ankara could change the situation. In this scenario, Turkey would become an independent regional power with interests that often differ from the United States and the rest of Europe. That would open up additional opportunities for Russia, but could also intensify existing rivalries.
I have purposely avoided mentioning Ukraine. Nobody denies that Ukraine will be the main battleground in the impending geopolitical confrontation. The situation there is fraught with the possibility of wide-scale destabilization and intervention by foreign powers. The entire post-Soviet landscape increasingly resembles a minefield where the slightest sudden movement could lead to yet another explosion.
Reviving The Armenian Heritage September 17, 2008, Barçin YİNANÇ
Minutes to the football game between Turkey and Armenia. A Turkish sport commentator of Armenian descent is being interviewed by a Turkish TV channel. When asked to evaluate the possible performance of the Armenian team, he said, “I am a Turkish citizen. I only know the Turkish national team.”
Obviously he is concerned that talking about the Armenian national team would cause his loyalty to Turkey to be questioned.
Having seen the fate of journalist Hrant Dink, we should hardly be surprised about this over-sensitivity.
Having a low-profile presence is not a reflex limited to the members of the Armenian community. Even the Jews of Turkey, whose loyalty to Turkey is rarely questioned, are careful not to be too vocal in Turkish society.
The visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gül has been mostly evaluated from the perspective of Turkey-Armenia relations. It is expected that the visit will open the door to the process of normalization between the two countries. The government, which will concentrate on breaking the deadlock with Armenia on the diplomatic front, should also do the same to solve some of the problems of the Armenian minority.
Unfortunately few in Turkey are aware of the significant contribution of Armenians to Turkish social, cultural and economic life. We at the Turkish Daily News are lucky to have Vercihan Ziflioğlu, an Armenian Turk, who reports often about the Armenian presence in Turkey. It is thanks to her articles that I have become increasingly aware of the immense Armenian contribution to our cultural richness.
Obviously we did not have to wait for the positive atmosphere created by the football diplomacy to tackle the problems of the Armenian community, especially those of the Armenian patriarch, as well as the revival of the Armenian cultural legacy in Anatolia. The restoration of the Armenian Church Akdamar near the eastern city of Van was the first step in the right direction. Anatolian lands are full of similar examples of Armenian architecture in ruins.
One of the reservations on reviving the Armenian cultural and social legacy in Turkey is the fear of possible compensation demands from Armenians who lost their property during the tragic events of the 1915. But these fears are baseless.
According to the Lausanne Treaty, any claims for restitution were supposed to be lodged within 12 months from when the treaty came into force. In Article 15 of the Kars Treaty signed in 1921, to which Armenia was a signatory, contracting parties agreed to promulgate immediately after the signing of the treaty a complete amnesty to citizens of the other party for crimes and offenses committed during the course of the war on the Caucasus front. Legal experts claim that the provisions of both treaties set a legal block for any compensation demands.
President Abdullah Gül had said his visit demolished psychological barriers. I hope this visit will also demolish psychological barriers in Turks' approach to the members of the Armenian community.
Back Door Talks Follow Football Diplomacy September 17, 2008, CANSU ÇAMLIBEL, Turkish Daily News
The behind the scenes diplomacy between Ankara and Yerevan, which set the ground for President Abdullah Gül's landmark visit to Armenia, continues this week in Switzerland with its third round between top diplomats of the two countries. Diplomats will try to finalize a draft for the common declaration of good will in the wake of a tripartite summit between Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to take place in New York at the end of September, the Turkish Daily News has learned.
Undersecretary of the foreign ministry, Ertuğrul Apakan, and his deputy, Ünal Çeviköz, headed for Switzerland late Sunday to meet their counterparts in Bern, which already hosted two rounds of talks in May and July. The positive atmosphere flourished after the first-ever meeting of President Gül and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan on the margins of the football match Sept.6 which paved the way for a more comprehensive discussion on substantial issues.
Although the last few weeks have staged an eminent disclosure of high level contacts between Turkey and Armenia, foreign ministries stuck to the confidentiality principle and declined to announce the meeting between diplomats.
Diplomats will try to reach a compromise on a common language for reflection upon the developments fortified with Gül's visit and the football match between the two national teams. The declaration is to be announced at the meeting of Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, which is expected to the take place during the U.N General Assembly in New York Sept.23 until Oct.1.
Verification of archives, involvement of an international body
Diplomatic sources said Armenia now moves closer to giving a green light for a joint committee of historians to study the events of 1915. This is a long-standing Turkish proposal was categorically rejected by the former Armenian President Robert Kocharian. Considering the need to establish a mechanism for verification of documents in archives, together with choosing the members, preparations are expected to take at least one year which gives Turkey time on international platforms. Participation of experts from third countries and a representative from an international institution are also under discussion. “Official announcement for the establishment of a committee would ease Turkey's position, culminating in alleged genocide resolutions in many countries,” said a senior Turkish official, who wished to remain unnamed, referring to initiatives in countries like the U.S., Canada, France and Argentina.
Combined efforts are underway for setting up other committees to work on economic and cultural affairs to accelerate the normalization of relations. Armenian expectations for the opening of the sealed border between the two countries loomed large especially after the outbreak of crisis in Georgia, which has been the major gateway for Western markets from Armenia. However, Ankara waits for simultaneous steps on other fronts in order to further proceed with the opening of the border.
Settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh stands out as a key issue in the facilitation of steps towards reconciliation and also the opening of the border. Although Turkey recognized Armenia as an independent state after the demise of the Soviet Union, it has never established diplomatic relations due to the conflict in Nagorno Karabagh, an Azerbaijani territory claimed by Yerevan. Ankara welcomed Armenian President Sargsyan's initiative to bring up the Nagorno-Karabakh issue himself during meeting with Gül. “This is an important indicator that now Armenia also recognizes a connection between the Karabakh conflict and the normalization of relations with Turkey,” said the senior Turkish official.
Ongoing talks under the Minsk group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, for resolving the Karabakh conflict are also said to have reached an encouraging phase, adding up as another motivation for the Turkish side. However, it is still not realistic to expect a speedy outcome before the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan on Oct.15.
Turkish - Armenian Ties Get Cultural Boost September 17, 2008
Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay responds warmly to Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Bogosyan’s call for greater cultural cooperation.
Armenia and Turkey are taking strides toward a rapprochement in the cultural realm as diplomatic relations have continued to warm since the football game in Yaravan two weeks ago.
“We would like to establish friendly relations with our neighbors,” said Turkish Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay in an interview with Turkish Daily News, adding that Turkey was ready to embark on more cultural cooperation with Armenia.
“President Abdullah Gül's visit to Yerevan was a significant development in terms of Turkey-Armenia bilateral relations,” said Günay. “At this point, steps Armenia will take are highly significant. These steps will shape the cultural and political cooperation between the two countries.”
Günay's warm response came shortly after Armenian Culture Minister Hasmik Bogosyan called for more cultural cooperation between the two countries in an exclusive interview with the Turkish Daily News last week.
“Let's start working collaboratively in the cultural realm to help new generations overcome the trauma,” she said.
Günay said the Turkish Culture Ministry was ready to cooperate with Armenia in the cultural realm if bilateral political relations normalize.
“Hostility benefits no one. Our door is open to everyone. We definitely wish to have cooperation with Armenia's Culture Ministry in restoration of the ruins of Ani and unearthing the monastery on Akdamar Island,” said Günay.
Armenian monastery on Akdamar Island to be unearthed
The ruins of the ancient Armenian city of Ani, located in Turkey's eastern province of Kars right on the Turkish-Armenian border, was until recently shaken by explosions in Armenia's stone quarries.
“Although we have kindly warned authorities in Armenia about the explosions, they ended only a very short time ago,” said Günay.
“We should work not to demolish a cultural heritage site that actually belongs to the world and to humanity, but to restore it so as to pass it onto younger generations,” he said.
Another ancient Armenian structure within the borders of modern day Turkey is the Surp Khac Church on Akdamar Island, located in the eastern province of Van. The church was restored and opened as a museum when Atilla Koç, former Turkish culture minister, was in office.
Günay discussed archaeological relics that belong to an ancient Armenian monastery and that are located near the ancient church. “The Turkish Culture Ministry wants to unearth the ancient Armenian monastery near the Akdamar museum. In the upcoming periods, we can start joint work with the Armenian Culture Ministry in unearthing those relics as well.”
No minority but part of a whole
Armenians living in Turkey have been following the course of relations between Turkey and Armenia silently, but closely. Perhaps, the most prominent attendees of the historical Turkey-Armenia football match held in Yerevan on Sept. 6 were Turkey's Armenians.
During the game, some refrained from expressing their feelings, though they privately supported the Armenian team. On the other hand, others supported both Armenia and Turkey.
“Rapprochement of the two peoples, the Turks and the Armenians, make the Armenians of Turkey happy as well. This is important,” said Günay.
Günay, drawing the attention to the significance of intercultural dialogue, said, “I am against the word ‘minority.' Everyone is part of a whole in the world. No one can describe another one as a ‘minority member' or a ‘majority member.' Moreover, we have lived on this land together for centuries, as we perceived it our homeland. As Ms. Bogosyan said, even our songs are the same.”
"Soccer Diplomacy" To Help Dispel Armenia-Turkey Grudges, People's Daily Online, Sept 16 2008, China
Armenia-Turkey relations have begun relaxing with an impetus of the "soccer diplomacy". Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan invited his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul Serzh to the Armenian capital of Yerevan to watch a soccer match, or the historic World Cup qualifier match held between the Turkish and Armenian teams, and the two leaders enjoyed the match in the stadium in early September.
Soon afterwards, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that his country would work for the establishment of diplomatic ties with Turkey. He spoke highly of the visit by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, which, he noted, had opened broad vistas for the dialogue between the leaders of the two nations. As both countries border on Georgia, their reconciliation will exert a great impact on geopolitics in the Caucasus.
Since the announcement of its independence in 1991, Armenian, a former Soviet republic, has still not forged its normal diplomatic ties with Turkey to date owing to its differences with Turkey on the recognition of a historic issue, namely, the massacre of Armenians by the authorities of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923. Its government insists on Turkey admitting that the Ottoman Turks murdered more than 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1917. The successive Turkish governments, nevertheless, have not shown any obvious changes in their attitude, and only refer to it as something untoward that had occurred during the disintegration process of the Ottoman Empire and that a death toll of 1.5 millions was an exaggeration and even those Turks with abnormal deaths during that period was definitely no less than the number of lost Armenians. So gaps in the historical recognition of the Armenian genocide pose the biggest obstacle to the normalization of relations between the two nations.
The thawing of bilateral ties derives from their respective needs for economic development. Armenia is a small, land-locked nation in Central Asia and its sole adjacent outlet to the Black Sea is under control of Turkey, which, however, has had a closed border with Armenia. For a land-locked nation like Armenia, it is imperative to access to a sea outlet in its neighboring country. So Armenia has to rely heavily on Turkey in this regard, but the latter has since 1993 imposed a trade embargo against it and caused it grave economic losses. Hence, whether it is able to improve its relations with Turkey will directly affect its economic interests.
To Turkey, the Armenian genocide is indeed a "fast knot" that prevents it from getting access to negotiations on its entry into the European Union (EU) and has long tarnished its image in Europe. So it is of incalculable, practical significance for Turkey, which is both eager and anxious to join EU, to improve its relations with Armenia and gradually forge normal diplomatic ties.
A "soccer diplomacy" game alone cannot dissolve or dispel nearly a century-old grudges between the two nations as a matter of course. In spite of desires for the development of their bilateral relations, both sides are faced with strong resistances from the antagonistic mood and ensuing education that have been shaped and deep-rooted over a long period of time.
Upon the arrival of the Turkish president in the Armenian capital, hundreds or even thousands of Armenians that had lined the route of President Abdulla Gul's motorcade from Yerevan airport to the city proper, were seen holding placards in protest against Ankara's refusal to consider the 1915-1917 atrocities as crimes... At the presence of Gul at the World Cup qualifier match, many Armenian fans booed and hissed the game and even the playing of the Turkish national anthem. Meanwhile, there are also a lot of voices in opposition to reconciliation in Turkey as well. Consequently, it seems that the betterment of bilateral ties will eventually hinge on the common understanding of nationals in both countries on this major political issue.
Moreover, the relaxation of Turkey-Armenia ties has drawn increasingly extensive attention from global public opinions partly because of another vital backdrop on the Russia-Georgia conflict. President Gul mentioned particularly during his visit that the improvement of bilateral ties will be conducive to stability and cooperation in the Caucasus region. Turkey is a member nation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), while Armenia is on a good, intimate terms with Russia and also in very good terms with NATO, though it does not intend to join it. The present Turkish-Armenian ties anyhow reflect trends and changes of geopolitics in the South Caucasus region, and they deserve special attention.
What's In A Name?, Forbes Sept 16 2008, NY
The decision of New York's Giants and Jets to drop Allianz as their stadium naming rights sponsor for their new stadium raises more questions than it answers. The German based financial company had connections to the Third Reich during the Nazi's genocide of the Jews. So it is not hard to understand why many in the public and media were outraged by the idea of seeing the Allianz name on the new stadium.
But the boycott and death of the Allianz sponsorship begs the question: What about other sports related deals with companies that have ties to governments that have committed atrocities in the past? Citigroup bought the naming rights for the new stadium the New York Mets will open next season. Citi does a business with Turkey, which committed genocide against the Armenians not long before the Nazis sought extermination of the Jews. Should the kibosh be put on Citi's deal?
During WWII the Japanese army committed war crimes that have been called an Asian Holocaust against civilians and prisoners of war. Toyota Motor built military trucks for the Imperial Army. Yet the Houston Rockets play in the Toyota Center. Then there is Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two banks that are part of JPMorgan Chase history let customers use slaves as collateral.
Why stop at stadium naming rights?
Mercedes-Benz, a huge part of the Hitler war machine, sponsors the NBA, NFL and PGA golf tournaments. Should the auto maker be given the boot? There is a lot in a name--both money and emotion--when it comes attached to a property that will be given enormous attention. But shouldn't the rules be applied evenly?
'Miscalculation Behind Caucasus Events' PRESS TV, Sept 16 2008, Iran
Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki says that wrong signals and miscalculation by countries outside the region led to the Caucasus events.
"The Caucasus region has important points for convergence but developments during the past month caused many problems for the region," Manouchehr Mottaki said in a joint press conference with his Armenian counterpart, Edward Nalbandian, in Tehran Tuesday.
Mottaki added that Iran, as a neighbor to the sensitive region of the Caucasus, presented a proposal on consultation among regional countries with the aim of drawing up strategies for cooperation.
Mottaki said that following the directions of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he made separate visits to Russia, Azerbaijan and Germany. The minister added that the current visit by the Armenian foreign minister to Tehran is a 'good opportunity' to complete the chain of talks.
Iran and Armenia share common concerns and stances on regional developments, Mottaki said.
Mottaki also expressed Iran's readiness to mediate between neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Karabakh issue.
Nalbandian said that Tehran and Yerevan enjoy the same position on the conflict in Georgia.
The Armenian minister noted that Iran has very interesting ideas and proposals, adding Yerevan would keep talking with Tehran about regional security and stability.
This Is Equal To Treachery September 17, 2008, Interview with SAMVEL KARAPETYAN, Head of the organization studying the Armenian architecture
“On the day of the Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s arrival you were in Western Armenia, and could actually see and feel the Turkish society’s attitude towards that fact.”
“The Turkish society is actually unaware of what happened in the past. Or rather, six generations in Turkey have been educated and brought up by such a state-national curriculum and ideology that presented them everything just the other way about.
This time, we visited Artsati village of Erzrum. Before 1915, it was one of the most densely populated villages, and there were exclusively Armenian catholics inhabiting there. There is now a museum of the Turkish Genocide in the village. Can you imagine a museum of the Turkish Genocide in an Armenian-populated village? A group burial has been discovered here; naturally, of Armenian people. But the Turks present everything just the other way about, making the village one of their important tourist attraction sites.
When the Director of the hotel of the town of Ardvin learnt that we were Armenians, he said, ‘Hey you, Armenians! What trouble you have made for us!’ And we asked, ‘What is it we have done?’ And he immediately said, ‘What trick have you played on us in Ardvin?’ and then I asked him, ‘How come that no Armenian was left in Ardvin while the Turks live and prosper there? So, who now makes trouble and for whom?’ And there, the Turk began thinking over what I had said…
“I wonder how the Turks estimate the disgraceful step of the Football Federation of Armenia. Before the Armenia-Turkey football match, the latter changed the logo on the uniforms of our football players, replacing the picture of Ararat with … a football.”
“On those days, ‘Aksham’, one of the Turkish periodicals, printed the new and old colored logos of the Armenian Football Federation on its front page and wrote that Armenia had shown a sign of good will by removing the picture of Ararat from the logo of its football federation. There was accentuated irony, neglect and sarcasm in the information published.
The next day, ‘Huriet’ published another article (showing the picture again) expressing astonishment that the picture of Ararat had been removed from the Logo, but President Serge Sargsyan had received Mr. Gül below the picture of Mount Ararat.
With regard to this issue, I heard some statements in the National Assembly. I realized that the state had taken no initiative in this direction (by the way, besides Mount Ararat, the Armenian scripts were also removed from the logo). This was an independent action by the Head of the Football Federation.
This is equal to treachery. If someone is ready to renounce his logo and emblem at peace time, it means he is a potential traitor. In a little bit more serious situation, that person will commit a much graver crime, a high treason.
I wonder whether or not he has been held accountable for that step. If not, then we don’t have a state.”
ANAHIT YESAYAN © Hayots Ashkhar