- Lawsuit Filed Against US National Archives To Obtain Documentation On Armenian Genocide
- Over 800 Particicipants Welcome Pres. Serj Sarkissian In New York By Garbis Kazanjian,
- F.Y.I. Every Day Is A Good Day To Ask On-Line Donation by Sukru Aya
- Menendez Hammers Turkey's "Historical Commission" Proposal, www.anca.org
- Armenia Should Help Turkey To Face Its Past Panarmenian
- Congress Of Canadian-Armenians Supports Three Candidates In Coming Elections, Noyan Tapan
- Opening Of Armenian-Turkish Border Is Beneficial For Both Armenia And Turkey, Political Scientist V. Dilanian Considers, www.nt.am
- No Great Expectations Should Be Anticipated From The Meetings Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkey Due In New-York Karine Ter-Sahakian
- Karabakh Questions Turkey's Sincerity
- Alexandros Peterson: Turkey Serious About Opening Border With Armenia
- Gibrahayer's First Online Mini-Survey Reveals... Gibrahayer Nicosia
- Turkmen Ready To Provide Large Room For Armenian Investments, ARKA YEREVAN
- Film Entitled 'Eternal Flight: Hrant Dink' Shown In Buenos Aires ArmInfo
- Community: New York Greek-Americans For Obama-Biden To Host Fundraiser In Manhattan
- ANCA Makes policies for U.S.A. for Turkey and ARMENIA!
- Diaspora Should Counter Turkey's Divide and Conquer Strategy By Harut Sassounian
- Armenian Genocide: The Holocaust Deniers Functionalize The Erasmus Program and Hallacoglu
- The Turkish Minister Of Culture Responded Positively To The Call From His Armenian Counterpart
- The Current Flows Between Ankara And Yerevan
- British Insurance Giant Sued by Victims of Armenian Genocide
- Turkey Scared To Admit Armenian Genocide, Says Historian Robert Tait in Yerevan
- There Is A Direct Danger Of Recurrence Of March 1 Events By David Petrosian
- Anca.Org Press Release September 21, Obama Marks Armenian Independence Day
- Armenia Presses For Diplomatic Ties With Turkey Ahead Of Commissions
- The Danger of Ethnic Homogeneity By Boris Kagarlitsky
- InterMedia Survey Finds Armenians Most Favorably Inclined Towards Russia and Optimistic about Democracy in their Country
- Armenia Wants Diplomatic Ties With Turkey Before The Creation Of Committees
- Poll: A majority of Turks applauded the visit of Abdullah Gul to Yerevan
- Euro Court Takes A Stand Against The Turkish GovernmentBy Mark D. Tooley
- Armenia And Turkey: Children Of The Same Earth By Hugh Pope
- Turkey Without U.S. Intervention?
- Humanity Monument in Kars Will Be Perched On 3 October
- "Avoiding The Word-G" by David Cronin
- Vortex, Vertigo
- Turkish President's Visit under International Spotlight, By Antranig Dereyan
- Where Was Everyone? Vahan Hovhannisyan
- Turkey Is Benefiting From Armenia's Diplomatic Gesture, Says Hovanessian
- Vahan Hovhannisian: Opening Of Armenian-Turkish Border Also Meets Turkey's Interests
- Turkey Without U.S. Intervention? A1+
- Anca Urges Scrutiny Of 10 Failings In U.S.-Turkey Policy During Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing
- Open Debate: Border Issue At Forefront Of Economic Discussions Following Gul Visit Sara Khojoyan
- Caucasus Concerns: Region Under Microscope As Various Parties Plan Its Future By Aris Ghazinyan
- Nkr In Focus: Ossetia Conflict Continues Reflected Attention On Karabakh Naira Hayrumyan,
- Sargsyan Welcomes Turkish-Initiated Security Platform For S. Caucasus, By Aris Ghazinyan
- Babacan: Turkey Hopes For Dialog With Armenia
- Dashnaktsutyun Dissatisfied Of The Foreign Ministry's Passiveness, Gevorg Harutyunyan
Lawsuit Filed Against US National Archives To Obtain Documentation On Armenian Genocide
Los Angeles, Calif.--A civil action against the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States was filed yesterday seeking documents as they relate to the Armenian Genocide (1914 to 1925). (Vartkes Yeghiayan v. National Archives and Records Administration of the United States of America, Case No. CV08-16248, U.S. District Court, Central District of Calif., Sept. 23, 2008).
"Repeated efforts have been made to procure these documents, but the National Archives has been non-responsive," says Mark MacCarley, partner with Glendale, Calif.-based MacCarley & Rosen who is representing plaintiff Vartkes Yeghiayan. "Its actions are in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)."
The initial request by Yeghiayan occurred in April 2006. "The National Archives acknowledged receipt of the request, but has not provided the information despite repeated inquires from my client," says MacCarley. "The National Archives, without explanation, has exceeded the generally applicable 20-day deadline for processing FOIA requests. We simply want the requested documentation."
Yeghiayan is an attorney who has successfully litigated lawsuits in State and Federal courts against U.S. and foreign businesses for Armenian Genocide asset restitution. More than 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the genocide with millions more deported from the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey). Yeghiayan filed the FOIA request because he believes documents are being held by the U.S. government that would identify countries having either direct complicity in the Armenian Genocide or profited by the Ottoman Turks actions against Armenians.
"This lawsuit is on behalf of Armenian-Americans who are seeking documentation and information that could shed light on what happened to their loved ones during the Armenian Genocide,” says Yeghiayan.
MacCarley & Rosen, PLC
Diane Zakian Rumbaugh
Rumbaugh Public Relations
Over 800 Particicipants Welcome Pres. Serj Sarkissian In New York September 25, 2008, By Garbis Kazanjian, NEW YORK, NY
As we say in Armenian, "there was no room to throw a needle" in one of the largest halls in Manhattan, the Cipriani Hall on 42nd Street, not very far from the UN Building when on Sept. 24,in the evening, starting at 7:00 PM a welcome special event took place, with cocktail and dinner honoring the President of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Serj Sarkissian, organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the UN and the Leading Armenian-American Organizations and Churches.
President Sarkissian is visiting New York, with his high delegation, including Foreign Minister Mr. Edward Nalbandian, newly appointed Minister of Diaspora Mrs. Hranoush Hagopian and other dignitaries, having in his schedule to address the UN General Assembly, to meet with the UN Secretary General and other presidents and head of states. The Foreign Minister Mr. Nalbandian informed that he will have meetings among others, with the foreign minister of Turkey and following that a tripartite meeting with both foreign ministers of Turkey and Azerbaijan. Also Mr. Nalbandian, responding to my question, said that no meeting is scheduled between the presidents of Armenia and Turkey.
Looking to the packed crowd in the hall, one can imagine the strong patriotism of our people. On these days, it was really an adventure to drive to Manhattan. Because of the UN General Assembly, many streets and avenues were closed and tight security arrangements were taken by City and Federal governments. The traffic was crazy, but also our people were "crazy" to meet and honor the president of the Republic of Armenia.
The program started with Armenian and American Anthems performed by singers Vagharshag Ohanian (Armenian Anthem) and Anoush Barklay, accompanied by Karen Karapetyan (American Anthem), while the attendees stood respectfully.
The opening invocation was called by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of East Coast U.S.A. Archbishop Barsamian welcomed President Sarkissian for his first visit to New York as president, welcomed Ambassadors Armand Martirossyan, Tatoul Markarian, the honorable guests and the participants, declared that our dream of centuries has become a reality since 17 years. After some brief biography of the President and his patriotic achievements, the primate declared that this community will support the independence and development of the motherland.
For the opening remarks, the master of ceremonies invited American Armenian veteran diplomat and Ambassador Edward Djerejian, who has been Ambassador to Syria and Israel, has carried high diplomatic posts in Russia, Lebanon and other countries and worked with the State Department as Assistant Secretary of State. Mr. Djeredjian recalled his first visit to Armenia in 1981, and the visit of Anastas Mikoyan to the State Department during the missile crisis, when he was a Junior diplomat, and how, during his encounter, Mikoyan expressed satisfaction that Armenians are successful in this country. Mr. Djerejian commented that only an Armenian could appease the crisis and for this reason, Russians sent Mikoyan to Washington. He expressed his happiness to see how much Armenia has progressed as an Independent Republic during these 17 years. The Ambassador appreciated that Armenian diplomacy has established close relations with Russia, America and many other countries. Giving his approval to the "Football Diplomacy", as a bold step taken by President Sarkissian, encouraged the Armenian leadership to continue the rapprochement with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Neighboring countries.
Concluding his address, Mr. Djerejian declared that the challenge for the Armenian people is to cooperate together, to develop the economy, to build a cultural and democratic country and to become a bridge between the East and the West.
Ambassador Tatoul Markarian was invited to the podium to bring his message. Mr. Markarian welcomed the guests who had come to welcome the president of Armenia.
He informed that the next day, on Sept. 25th, President Serj Sarkissian will address the UN General Assembly and will report about the realizations of Armenia and the situation in the caucasus. The Ambassador informed that the presidenthas scheduled visits to Armenian organizations such as AGBU, the Armenian Assembly, The Diocese, the Prelacy, ANCA, the political parties and other Armenian institutions. As sponsors and donors of the expenses of this celebration, Ambassador Markarian thanked Louise Simone Manoukian, Richard Manoukian, Nazar Nazarian, Hrair Hovnanian and Hratch Kaprielian.
Ambassador Edward Djerejian came to the podium, introduced the President of the Republic of Armenia with a brief biography and declared that it is an honor and privilege to invite H.E. Mr. Serj Sarkissian to make his keynote address.
Under long standing ovation and applause, President Sarkissian started his address. Following some excerpts from his message and the conclusion.
"Time has come to the Armenian people to celebrate new victories. We all are participants".
"With the reestablishment of our independence, our duty has not ended. Today our problem is to take steps toward development."
"We celebrated nationwide the 17th Anniversary of Independence, in Armenia and Diaspora."
"I thank Armenians in America who helped. Today we have to be united, together."
"Follow to see what is happening around our country. Armenia is under storms. Borders are being closed. There is conflicts between states."
"Under these circumstances we had meetings with the president of Turkey. The time has come to solve our problems. And I saw the willingness and the audacity in him."
"After our meeting in Yerevan, the Foreign Minister of Turkey declared that Turkey is ready to encounter its past."
"Let us talk. those who evade talking are those people who are afraid. We are sure that the pending primary problems can be solved. Mr. Gul has stated his readiness to help solving the Karabagh conflict. Our aim is to convince Azerbaijan that the Karabagh problem can not be avoided."
Regarding investments the President encouraged to establish businesses, invest in Armenia, where there are big projects and prospects to earn money. As big projects he mentioned the construction of Iran-Armenia Gas pipeline, the construction of a modern atomic energy plant, the construction of 7000 houses for the earthquake victims.
Talking about Diaspora, he remarked that it is multi-faceted, multi-talented, multi-language, that Diaspora is in critical situation, that in 15-20 years the Diaspora will melt and that Armenia, the Armenian government will tend a helping hand. As the Diaspora has supported Armenia, now it is time that Armenia supports the Diaspora.
Concluding his message, that we have devised programs for Armenia Diaspora cooperation and for this reason I have introduced a ministry of Diaspora, the minister today is with us, Hranoush Hagopian. Every Armenian should believe that the center of the world is Armenia.
"Long live Armenia, long live the Armenian people and thank you for your cooperation."
F.Y.I. Every Day Is A Good Day To Ask On-Line Donation
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Sukru S. Aya
Subject Obama or McCain - VOTE NOW by email@example.com
Who should Armenian Americans support?
John McCain or Barack Obama.
For you this might be an easy question, or you might still be on the fence.
Either way, your opinion counts.
So please cast your vote today.
Who best represents your values? Who shares your views on the economy and taxes, defense and foreign policy, education and immigration, social issues, and the environment?
And, while we all know how tough real change is in Washington, who’s better positioned to improve how America deals with Armenian issues: justice for the Armenian Genocide, freedom for Nagorno Karabagh, and a more secure future for Armenia?
Whether you’re a Republican, Democratic, or Independent – please vote today.
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Menendez Hammers Turkey's "Historical Commission" Proposal, www.anca.org Press Release September 24, 2008
-- Senators Menendez and Kerry Grill Ambassador Designate to Ankara during Confirmation Hearing
WASHINGTON, DC - New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez pressed U.S. Ambassador to Turkey nominee James Jeffrey to explain the Administration's apparent renewed backing for Turkey's widely discredited push for a "historical commission" on the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA). The move comes despite the State Department's pledge, made during the nomination process for U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch, to oppose efforts that would open to debate the fact that Ottoman Turkey used mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations to destroy over one and half million Armenians.
"We want to share our special thanks with Senator Menendez for, once again, shining a powerful international spotlight on the Administration's policy of complicity in Turkey's denial of the Armenian Genocide," stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We are especially for his incisive line of questioning regarding the State Department's flawed and inconsistent position on Turkey's self-serving proposal for a historical commission. A clear illustration of the bankruptcy of the Administration's policy on the Armenian Genocide was the nominee's convoluted response to the simple question, posed by Senator Menendez: 'If Turkey would be willing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, would the United States be willing to do so?'"
Ambassador-Designate Jeffrey's confirmation hearing, held earlier today, was chaired by Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who, in his opening remarks, cited his decades long support for Congressional reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. Following Amb. Jeffrey's testimony, Sen. Kerry led the questioning on the Armenian Genocide, asking if the nominee could "assure the Committee that the Administration is not supporting - financially, rhetorically, or otherwise - an effort to convene a commission to settle an historical debate [on the Armenian Genocide] - that in effect is not a debate."
Jeffrey responded, "Mr. Chairman, as you have indicated, the Administration recognizes and mourns, and is very, very, very concerned about the historical facts, which include, as you said, the mass killing and the forced exile of up to 1.5 million Armenians at the end of the Ottoman Empire. We support, as President Bush made clear in his recent statement on March 24th, the open effort on both sides to get to the bottom of the historical facts and to move forward as part of a reconciliation process both to establish closer and eventually full relations and to work out these dark chapters in the past."
Sen. Kerry followed up, asking if Jeffrey is, in effect saying that "we are supportive of the historical commission itself and its goal? Or are we supportive of simply maintaining the historical records?"
Jeffrey responded: "We are supportive of anything the two sides mutually agree on, Sir. And as part of any process, there should be a full and open review of the events of that time."
Jeffrey's response sparked a series of probing questions from Senator Menendez, who opened his remarks by expressing his "dismay" at Jeffrey's answers, arguing, "that puts us before where we were when we had the Ambassador designee to Armenia [Marie Yovanovitch] being interviewed." Senator Menendez then quoted extensively from a July, 2008, letter from Asst. Secretary of Legislative Affairs Matthew Reynolds, issued to clarify various responses that U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch had given during her confirmation hearing. The letter explained that, a proposed effort to bring Turkish and Armenian archivists to the U.S. is not a means to "open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events." The letter went on to note that "the Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes."
Sen. Menendez, concerned that Jeffrey had veered away from Administration policy articulated in the Reynolds letter, asked "The historical facts, as I see it, have now been admitted to by the State Department and clearly stated as such." And I don't get the sense that's what you're telling us, so that puts a complication in this process. Maybe you can help us out."
Jeffrey was again evasive, responding that, "what assistant Sec. Reynolds wrote is U.S. government policy and we stand by it. What I was trying to convey was that it is also important for Turks and Armenians to move forward on a joint effort to work on these issues to come to some kind of, to the extent they can, common view of the historical past."
Menendez shot back, asking "Why would we support an initiative that ultimately doubts whether those are the historical facts? If the Turks seek to do it, that's one thing. But why would we be supportive of an effort that ultimately undermines the very position that the State Department has?"
Jeffrey responded in generalities, noting "In conflicts such as this, Senator, we believe, and we apply this across the board in the many conflicts that I have been involved in, we have an obligation to the historical record and to our citizens to have our own views, but it is also important to encourage the various sides on a dispute, be it this one, be it others, to try to come to some sort of joint understanding of the past and a joint way forward for the future."
Menendez then went back to Sen. Kerry's original question once again. "Would you then, as Ambassador, be someone who would advocate rhetorically, financially or otherwise, that the commission should be constituted and move forward?" Jeffrey responded: "The effort that can be taken for people to review openly the facts of that period would be supported by me."
Sen. Menendez would later return to Amb. Jeffrey for a second round of questioning, expressing frustration that the lack of "straight answers" from Ambassadors precludes Senators from making "straight judgments" on key foreign policy issues. He then asked Amb. Jeffrey, simply, if "If Turkey would be willing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, would the United States be willing to do so?" Jeffrey initially replied that he "can't commit the Administration to any future action," but upon further questioning stated, that while Turkish recognition would be important, "there would be other factors that would have to be weighed, such as our general approach to other conflicts in the region and taking positions. The relationship between Turkey and Armenia is a major factor in the policies we take, the words we use. But there are other factors as well, sir."
Menendez ended his questioning on the Administration's Armenian Genocide policy by asking whether Jeffrey would follow in the footsteps of Undersecretary Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried, who, according to multiple press accounts, last October, traveled to Turkey to "express regret" at House Foreign Affairs Committee passage of Armenian Genocide legislation. "Senator," said Jeffrey, "I never have and I never will express regret. This is an independent and equal organ of the U.S. government and it deserves the respect of everyone, everywhere in the world."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Biden and other Committee members are set to submit additional questions to Ambassadorial nominee, who may be confirmed as early as Friday of this week.
Extended excerpts from the Menendez-Jeffrey question and answer session follow.
Excerpts of the Menendez-Jeffrey Question and Answer Session Senate Foreign Relations Committee September 24, 2008
Sen. Menendez: When you say 'we support whatever the commission does to get to the bottom of the historical facts' well, that's not what the Administration has said to us. The Administration in its letter, unless we are not to believe letters sent to this Committee now, states 'our goal is not to open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events.' And that letter by Asst. Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mr. Reynolds, further went on to state that 'the Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes.' What I heard you respond to the question is quite different. So do you want to clear it up or are you sticking to your story that we support whatever it is to get to the bottom of the facts. The historical facts, as I see it, have now been admitted to by the State Department and clearly stated as such. And I don't get the sense that's what you're telling us, so that puts a complication in this process. Maybe you can help us out."
Amb. Jeffrey: Certainly what Assistant Sec. Reynolds wrote is U.S. government policy and we stand by it. What I was trying to communicate was that it is also important for Turks and Armenians to move forward on a joint effort to work on these issues to come to some kind of, to the extent they can, common view of the historical past.
Sen. Menendez: If in fact we already have come to the conclusion that the historical facts, as outlined by Mr. Reynolds on behalf of the State Department in July of this year, are that 'we indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes,' why would we support an initiative that ultimately doubts whether those are the historical facts? If the Turks seek to do it, that's one thing. But why would we be supportive of an effort that ultimately undermines the very position that the State Department has?
Amb. Jeffrey: In conflicts such as this, Senator, we believe that as a general rule, and we apply this across the board in the many conflicts that I have been involved in, we have an obligation to our own citizens and the historical record to have our own views, but it is also important to encourage the various sides on a dispute, be it this one, be it others, to try come to some sort of joint understanding of the past and a joint way forward for the future.
Sen. Menendez: Would you then, as Ambassador, be someone who would advocate rhetorically, financially or otherwise, that the commission should be constituted and move forward?
Amb. Jeffrey: The effort that can be taken for people to review openly the facts of that period would be supported by me.
Sen. Menendez: If Turkey would be willing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, would the United States be willing to do so?
Amb. Jeffrey: We would have to see at that time. I can't commit the Administration to any future action.
Sen. Menendez: I realize you can't. But would you, as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, say to the next Administration - whoever that Administration may be - that we should recognize it as well?
Amb. Jeffrey: We constantly review many things in our foreign policy processes. This one, because of the great interest in the American public and in Congress, is one that gets reviewed all the time. That would certainly be a major factor in any review, if the two sides could come to an agreement on that particular term or other issues, related to the past, Sir.
Sen. Menendez: Well, if Turkey, on its own, came to the evolution that in fact it made a decision that 'yes, a previous - not even Turkey as we know it today - but the Ottoman Empire did what the State Department says it has', that 'yes, there was a Genocide' would it not be in the interest of the United States to recognize what Turkey itself has recognized?
Amb. Jeffrey: It would be, as you said, a very important factor, but aside from being concerned of committing this or a future Administration to a specific course of action or predicting it, there would be other factors that would have to be weighed, such as our general approach to other conflicts in the region and taking positions. The relationship between Turkey and Armenia is a major factor in the policies we take, the words we use. But there are other factors as well, sir.
Sen. Menendez: When you take your oath, should you be confirmed as the Ambassador to Turkey, do you know what that oath says?
Amb. Jeffrey: Yes, Sir.
Sen. Menendez: And does that oath speak to an Adminstration or to the country.
Amb. Jeffrey: It speaks to the country, Senator.
Sen. Menendez: And in that respect, one of the things I look for, when we have nominees here is that, understanding fully that the State Department to a large degree and whatever Administration you work for is going to define your parameters, when I have an Ambassador here, I want to be able to get straight talk, so that I know and I can make straight judgments as one member of the U.S. Senate, and as a member of this committee. And I can't get that straight talk if I hear a constant constrainment of what is the truth or the realities or opinions you may have in a country as it relates to questions being posed to you as Members of this committee. So, I hope that we recognize that the oath is to this country and this [the Senate] is an institution of the country, at the end of the day. And so, let me ask you this question. There are a series of media accounts [. . .] that reported that Undersecretary of State Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried traveled to Turkey in October of 2007 to "express regret" over the adoption of the Armenian Genocide resolution by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, one that I sat in at one time. Is it your view, should you ultimately be approved by the Senate as an Ambassador, to express regret of what an institution of the U.S. Congress does?
Amb. Jeffrey: Senator, I never have and I never will express regret. This is an independent and equal organ of the U.S. government and it deserves the respect of everyone, everywhere in the world.
Sen. Menendez: I appreciate that answer.
Text of July 29th State Department Letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee
United States Department of State Washington DC, 20520
July 29, 2008
Dear Mr. Chairman:
I am writing in response to your concerns regarding responses to questions for the record submitted by you and Senator Menendez regarding the nomination of Marie Yovanovitch as Ambassador to Armenia.
Regarding your Question #1, Ms. Yovanovitch mentions an International Visitors Program under consideration that would bring archivists from Turkey and Armenia to the United States for professional training. Our goal is to help archivists protect the evidence of the past so that future generations will have the documentation of the mass killings and deportations of Armenians committed by Ottoman soldiers and other Ottoman officials in 1915. Our goal is not to open a debate on whether the Ottomans committed these horrendous acts; it is to help preserve the documentation that supports the truth of those events.
Regarding Ms. Yovanovitch's response to Senator Menendez's Question #8, the Administration recognizes that the mass killings, ethnic cleansing, and forced deportations of over one and a half million Armenians were conducted by the Ottoman Empire. We indeed hold Ottoman officials responsible for those crimes.
In her testimony, Ms. Yovanovitch tried to convey her deep empathy with the profound suffering of the Armenian people and in no way sought to cast any doubt on historical facts.
We hope this information is helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of further assistance on this or any other matter.
[signed] Matthew A. Reynolds Acting Assistant Secretary Legislative Affairs
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate
Armenia Should Help Turkey To Face Its Past Panarmenian September 25, 2008
Armenia welcomes any assistance for resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the RA President said. “Turkish President’s initiative can help the Minsk Group process,” Serzh Sargsyan said during a meeting with the Armenian community of New York. “Mr Gul voiced willingness to assist in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict,” he said adding that Armenia’s main goal is to convince Azerbaijan that recognition of Karabakh people right to self-determination is inevitable. Touching on normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, President Sargsyan said, “We do not suffer from complexes and I am hopeful that the two countries will resolve their problems one day. Armenia should help the Turkish public to face their past.” Mr Sargsyan thanked the Armenian community and NGOs for rendering assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. He also briefed on projects to be implemented, including construction of a new nuclear power plant, Iran-Armenia railroad.
Armenia Changes Opinion On Turkey’s Becoming Ebrd Recipient, Panarmenian September 25, 2008
The Board of Directors of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided that Turkey should become a recipient of EBRD investments, pending final confirmation by the Bank’s Board of Governors. Armenia, which was the only country to vote against during the Tuesday’s meeting, changed its opinion the next day, an EBRD representative told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. Turkey has been a shareholder of the EBRD since the Bank was founded in 1991 and made a request in April this year for a change in its EBRD status to become a Country of Operations. Its application said the EBRD could contribute to the development of entrepreneurial and open-market initiatives in a wide range of sectors across Turkey and such a change would be “immensely beneficial for the Bank as well as for Turkey”. The resident Board of Directors, which represents the Bank’s 63 Governors, made its decision after a strategic review of the implications of investment in Turkey. The Governors will make a final decision by the end of October 2008. EBRD President Thomas Mirow said, “The overwhelming majority in favor of this decision is an impressive sign of unity among the shareholders that will further strengthen the institution.” He added, “Support for the further development of a dynamic market economy will be beneficial not only to Turkey, but also help bolster economies in the EBRD region with strong trade and investment links to Turkey, especially in the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia.” In agreeing to the Turkish government’s request, the EBRD would apply to Turkey the unique skill sets and experience it has built up over 17 years in helping to develop market economies. EBRD investments in Turkey would aim to support the further development of a more open and entrepreneurial economy by promoting growth of small businesses, supporting privatization and bringing private sector financing and know-how to the provision of public services. A particular emphasis would be placed on investments outside main metropolitan centers. A high priority would be placed on supporting the development of agribusiness and promoting energy efficiency.
Congress Of Canadian-Armenians Supports Three Candidates In Coming Elections, Noyan Tapan Sep 24, 2008
MONTREAL, ARMENIANS TODAY. The Congress of Canadian Armenians (CCA) today declared its support for the candidacy of StÃ©phane Dion, Agop Evereklian and Eleni Bakopanos in the Canadian general election that will be held on October 14, 2008.
"The CCA does not in any way endorse any particular political party" said Taro Alepian, Chairman of the CCA. "However, we have decided to support these three individual candidates in the MontrÃ©al-Laval region because they have proven through their actions over many years to be friends of our community, and because they have declared their intention to continue to promote several issues that are important to Armenians."
This is the first time that the CCA has declared its support for individual candidates in an election. In future elections, it will selectively extend this support to candidates in other regions of the country where there are significant Armenian communities.
The CCA encourages all eligible members of the Armenian community to exercise their democratic right to vote on October 14.
Opening Of Armenian-Turkish Border Is Beneficial For Both Armenia And Turkey, Political Scientist V. Dilanian Considers, www.nt.am, Sep 24, 2008, Noyan Tapan
YEREVAN. Opening of the Armenian-Turkish border is beneficial for both Armenia and Turkey. Vahan Dilanian, the Chairman of Yerevan Center for Studies of Political Developments, said at the September 24 press conference. According to him, it is beneficial for Turkey in the respect that Armenia is the shortest way to Middle Asia and Azerbaijan.
Besides, it will essentially contribute to development of Turkey's eastern regions. The third advantage, according to him, is that in case of opening the border Turks will get rid of the Kurdish burden: the latters will migrate to Armenia and other South Caucasian countries," V. Dilanian said.
And for Armenia, according to the political scientist, opening of the border will give a possibility to easily penetrate into the Arab World and Europe.
According to V. Dilanian, at present Turkey tries to play an important role in the issue of Nagorno Karabakh settlement. As he evaluated, as a result of the meeting of Foreign Ministers to be held in late September in New York considerable progress can be recorded in the issue of Nagorno Karabakh settlement.
In V. Dilanian's opinion, Turks do not admit the Armenian Genocide as they do not believe that their ancestors have committed such an evil.
"Recognition of the Genocide is more beneficial for Turkey, as it will deliver the latter from pressures exerted by European countries and Senate for many years," he said adding that the current Armenian-Turkish relations give serious guarantees in that respect.
According to Turkish political scientist, analyst Turgut Kerem Tuncal, the problems of the past should be put aside and all possibilities should be used for establishing good-neighborly relations between the two peoples.
According to him, the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations will not be an easy process. "That way will be very difficult, but as they say, sometimes treatment is painful but saves one's life," he said. According to him, the sides should start to improve their relations from very small and mild steps. They are: opening of borders, establishment of diplomatic relations. And the most important, according to T. Kerem Tuncal, establishment of relations between the publics of the two countries should be the axis of development of these relations.
T. Kerem Tuncal also said that Turkey can play the role of a mediator in the issue of Nagorno Karabakh settlement. "Having a stable Caucasus is in Turkey's interests, therefore Turkey will seek to solve that problem," he said. According to the Turkish political scientist, it will also deliver Armenia from dependence on Russia.
No Great Expectations Should Be Anticipated From The Meetings Armenia-Azerbaijan-Turkey Due In New-York Karine Ter-Sahakian
Unfortunately, the UN is not a place to resolve arguments and conflicts; it is just a place where state representatives meet to discuss what they cannot converse over in any other territory.
In the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly the regional states expect to resolve some problems related to the latest events in South Osssetia and Georgia. With the active Turkish diplomacy there can be set hopes on normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Moreover, the trilateral meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan due on September 25 will apparently be held under US patronage, and most likely the United States will make every effort to have no Russian representative at the meeting.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Ministers will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - the main sticking point in the relations between the three countries. Quite possibly Ali Babacan and Elmar Mammadyarov will try to incline their Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandyan towards refusing the OSCE Minsk Group services on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict regulation. However, Armenia will never agree on Turkey's mediation in the issue, as it would mean simply offering Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan. But Turkey's pressure on Azerbaijan is also an option. The reason lies in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which became insecure after the Georgian war. Actually the BTC proved that no long-term political project can be profitable if it is realized on the pretensions of politicians and their unquenchable ambition to isolate the neighbouring country, which in this particular case is Armenia.
Meanwhile, the foreign policy of Turkey has been changing. The United States is no longer Turkey's major ally, and it may so happen that Russia, the country on which Turkey's economy leans, may take the place of the US. "Increasingly, Ankara finds itself at the center of bewildering crosscurrents. It's a strategic ally of the United States and Israel - but it also tries to maintain friendly relations with Syria and Iran. It is a candidate for European Union membership -but has divisions with the Union over Northern Cyprus. Its borders with the Caucasus, and cultural ties with Turkic republics in Central Asia, make Turkey a key part of Europe's hopes for energy independence from Russia - but it is heavily dependent on Russian gas and trade. Small wonder Turkey is refusing to choose sides," Newsweek reports. According to Russian Ambassador to Ankara Vladimir Ivanovskiy Russian-Turkish economic relations are developing dynamically and they are inclined to further growth.
As we have been mentioning, Turkey is a pragmatic country and it will never act against its interests. The Georgian war showed how far the Iraqi war and Russian economy can make Turkey walk from its obligations towards the USA, in order to clear its own path.
Nevertheless, no great expectations should be anticipated from the meetings due in New-York. The widely advertised meetings of Armenian and Turkish Presidents can only serve as a guise that conceals the real state of affairs. After all the UN is not a place to resolve arguments and conflicts; it is just a place where state representatives meet to discuss what they cannot converse over in any other territory.
Its incapacity to resolve conflicts the UN has been demonstrating since the Balkan war, which ended in breakdown of Yugoslavia and declaration of Kosovo independence. Further, the UN was unable to settle the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, which resulted in changes not only in the Caucasus territory but also in the whole world. Let alone the UN resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regulation, which were never executed. In our opinion, the current state of affairs has its roots in the fact that the Organization has turned into a one-way road. All it does is blaming others. Whereas when founding the UN, great American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pictured the Organization only as a "peacemaker", in the true sense of this word. However, as it seems, the UN is going to suffer the same fate as the League of Nations, which had to dissolve itself after years of negligence.
Karabakh Questions Turkey's Sincerity 24.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ It's premature to give assessments to Turkey and Iran's initiative to mediate for the Karabakh problem resolution, chairman of the NKR NA committee on foreign relations Vahram Atanesyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.
NKR will announce its position after exact proposals are made, according to him.
"As far as I remember, Iran was a mediator on the initial stage of talks and it has experience in resolution of problems of the kind. As for Turkey, I do question sincerity of its intentions. A supporter to Azerbaijan, it will hardly be an impartial mediator," he said.
Iran and Turkey announced intention to mediate for resolution of the Karabakh conflict after the Georgian-South Ossetian clashes. Russia welcomed the initiate. However, OSCE Minsk Group French Co-chair Bernard Fassier stated that the MG format is not subject to transformation.
Alexandros Peterson: Turkey Serious About Opening Border With Armenia 24.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Azerbaijan was shocked by Russia's actions in Georgia and decided to change the route for its oil and gas, a U.S. expert said.
"A decision to develop east-west pipelines was taken. Some of them will go through Novorossiysk, some through Iran. Heydar Aliyev has once persuaded Turkey, Georgia and the United States to develop such an oil pipeline," said Alexandros Peterson, southeast Europe scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre.
"Azerbaijan is facing a presidential election. It's disappointed with the fruitless Minsk process. Moreover, the Russian invasion in Georgia proved unpredictability of the region and Baku's policy grew more unpredictable," he said.
Turkey and Azerbaijan are west-oriented, according to him. "Nabucco gas pipeline one of the most important aspects. Meanwhile, mostly guided by Russian interests, Armenia just watches the process, its best friends being Russia and Iran. Nagorno Karabakh also remains a problem. Armenia tries to preserve the status quo; Azerbaijan doesn't exclude the possibility to resolve the conflict by use of force," he said.
At that, he noted that Turkey's importance should not be neglected. "Gul's visit to Yerevan was symbolic. Turkey is serious about opening the border with Armenia. The initiative to mediate between Yerevan and Baku for resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is an advance," Petersen said, Interfax reports.
Georgian Developments And Armenia's Economy Vasak Tarposhyan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily 24 Sep 2008 Armenia
Though Georgian-Osatian developments didn't have direct impact on their neighbor countries, anyway Armenia's economy was significantly harmed due to that war. There have been no official assessments in that regard. But according to the calculations of the experts due to the non-operation of the communication roads Armenia's economy suffered 700 million dollar's loss.
At the beginning of the conflict and during the period following it, the damage caused by the conflict was conditioned by firstly the problems linked with the transportation of the loads. After the bombing of Gory's railway bridge Armenia was deprived of transportation of loads by railways.
The first aid goods were transferred by tracks, which is naturally much more expensive.
This situation continued for 10-15 days. During the period following it though the railway connection was partially restored, anyway around a month was required to regulate the road transportation.
Due to the damage of the communication ways the entrepreneurs had to spare additional money to store the goods in Poty and Batumy. It was during those days when the so-called not legal expenses were added. Though the communication between Armenia and Georgia is completely restored, anyway, as the importers state, the transportation has become significa ntly expensive because of alternative payments.
The present situation must have had direct impact on Armenia's economy.
It firstly influenced load transportation.
The volume of both import and export was reduced. According to the data of national statistics service, as compared with the previous month in August, when there were no problems linked with load transportation, the export was reduced by 36%. Due to this change 5 % drop has been recorded in this sphere from January to August, as compared with the same period of last year.
Though the situation linked with exporting is not very favorable this year, before that it was possible to maintain last year's level.
The tendencies noticed during the previous months display that the changes in August are directly linked with the developments that took place in the region. Particularly in July the export was increased by 8,7% as compared with June, and in June - by 16,6% as compared with May.
Due to the damage of the communication roads the export from Armenia was stopped for some time. Though the economy inside the country didn't have serious problems, anyway it was impossible to export ready products to the foreign market.
The processes taking place in the industry led to the drop of the volumes.
As compared with July in August it was reduced by 4%, whereas in July 6,5% growth was recorded as compared with the previous month.
0D The losses owing the situation created in the industrial sector were conditioned by the difficulties in importing both raw materials and ready products. It is well known that this circumstance has both direct and indirect impact on economy. The problem is mainly linked with exporting markets, particularly because the export of local products has always collided with serious problems. And irregular delivery never contributes to the improvement of competitiveness.
On the other hand the delays linked with the realization have their impact on the formation of the current assets and the regular organization of the industry.
Drop of importing volumes was also recorded in August. As compared with the previous month it was reduced by 18%. It was unprecedented for the recent 1-2 years.
The lowest economic growth in Armenia was recorded in August, which made up 3,6% mainly on account of agriculture. Drop was recorded even in the sphere of construction, something that has not been noticed during the recent years.
The before mentioned tendencies recorded in economy in August were mainly influenced by the instable situation in the region, due to which for around a month Armenia was deprived of the regular possibility of transportation communication.
Gibrahayer's First Online Mini-Survey Reveals... Gibrahayer 24 September, 2008 Nicosia
Gibrahayer e-magazine's first online survey has provided interesting information about our community that may help decision-making bodies to re-assess their mission in our island.
No doubt, there are aspects of the survey itself that could be organised in a different way. Subscribers have come forward with new ideas, to include more questions, to have more options and use different models and approaches.
The few people actively involved with Gibrahayer's publications probably could not undertake a bigger survey. In order to accomplish this we will need volunteers. You can begin by sending to us an email and we will do our best to put people and questions together and organise a bigger survey.
The survey that we publicise today, probably has certain shortcomings. We start with the very fact that this was an ONLINE survey and not a telephone or postal one. We are certain that we would have had similar shortcomings if the survey was conducted over the phone. Would the interviewees truthfully answer the questions put to us? Perhaps an online survey better catered for anonymity.
Nevertheless, Gibrahayer's first online survey IS a reality and here are YOUR results, which provide a near indication and some trends in our community.
ONLINE SURVEY RESULTS
Despite our Christian values and pride as the first Christian nation, only 18% regularly attend Church, almost 6% never attend Church and the rest attend Church a few times a year on christenings, weddings and funerals.
Despite attempts in recent years to increase Greek learning at the expense of Armenian and English, 54% of parents wanted to send their children to English secondary private schools with 0% to a Greek Cypriot Gymnasium.
Despite talk of regression of the Armenian language, 70% said that they spoke Armenian best, better than Greek or English.
Despite a close contest in the elections of a few years ago, Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian was rated with a combined positive vote of "good" and "excellent" taking 66% while 23% did not give an opinion and 11% declared that they found the MP's work "unsatisfactory".
Despite the size of the community and ongoing talk that community functions are not attended well, only 13% declared they do not attend events and 10% that they attended less than three functions a year.
Despite the fact that 18% skipped the question, Cypriot political parties received the following preferences. DIKO 34%, DISY 29%, AKEL 25%, EDEK 15%.
Despite 14% skipping the questions the Gibrahayer placed themselves, 19% right-wing, 24% center-right, 49% center-left and 9% communist.
Despite efforts by the "graduating" Hokapartsoutiun to show that there are minimal problems in Nareg, only 4% found Nareg's mission extremely good, 25% very good, while 71% gave Nareg a negative vote between "could be much better" (51%) and very bad (20%).
Despite being labelled upper Middle-class, almost 30% said they were just making ends meet, 5% not making ends meet, 10% said that money was not an issue, while one in two stated they were simply living comfortably.
Despite the fact that Armenian Cypriots declare being chezok (neutral) and almost 18% skipped the question, when asked if they were to vote which Armenian political party they would vote for, Ramgavars collected 14%, Henchagians, 13%, Communists 5% and ARF Dashnaktsoutiun 70%.
Sen. Menendez Urges Ambassador To Turkey Nominee To Recognize Armenian Genocide 25.09.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Senators Bob Menendez and John Kerry pressed U.S. Ambassador to Turkey nominee James Jeffrey to explain the Administration’s apparent renewed backing for Turkey’s widely discredited push for a "historical commission" on the Armenian Genocide, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian told PanARMENIAN.Net.
"We want to share our special thanks with Senator Menendez for, once again, shining a powerful international spotlight on the Administration’s policy of complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide," stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
"We are especially thankful for his incisive line of questioning regarding the State Department’s flawed and inconsistent position on Turkey’s self-serving proposal for a historical commission. A clear illustration of the bankruptcy of the Administration’s policy on the Armenian Genocide was the nominee’s convoluted response to the simple question, posed by Senator Menendez: ‘If Turkey would be willing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, would the United States be willing to do so?’"
Senators Menendez and Kerry are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and have veto power. Menendez has twice blocked Richard Hoagland’s nomination as Ambassador to Armenia for his denial of the Armenian Genocide.
Turkmen Ready To Provide Large Room For Armenian Investments, ARKA Sep 24, 2008
YEREVAN, September 24. /ARKA/. Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdimohamedov is ready to provide large room for Armenian investments, Armenian Foreign Ministry's press office reports.
On Monday, the president met with Armenian Ambassador to Turkmenistan Vladimir Badalyan. He outlined areas for cooperation - construction, healthcare and chemical industry.
Berdimohamedov stressed the importance of traditional ties with Armenia and said they should be strengthened.
The president and the ambassador also discussed the issues related to organization of the first meeting of Armenian-Turkmen economic commission.
Film Entitled 'Eternal Flight: Hrant Dink' Shown In Buenos Aires ArmInfo 2008-09-23
ArmInfo. A documentary entitled "Eternal Flight: Hrant Dink" was shown in Buenos Aires on September 20, the press-service of the Armenian foreign ministry told ArmInfo.
Ambassador Vladimir Karmirshalyan, Argentine film critic Jacques Poghosian and historian, Dr. Romaro A. Garero made speeches. According to the source, the public highly estimated the 20 minutes long documentary directed by Hrant Hakobyan. About 400 people were present at the film show. The film was shown at the representative office of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU).
To note, films by Armenian directors are shown at the AGBU office in Buenos Aires once every two months with the support of the Armenian Embassy.
Community: New York Greek-Americans For Obama-Biden To Host Fundraiser In Manhattan, September 23
New York.- A group of Greek and Greek Cypriot Americans announce they will host a fundraiser reception in support of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his running mate Joe Biden. This grassroots event, "New York Greek Americans and Friends for Obama-Biden Ê¼08 - A Celebration of America and Hellenism" will be held one day before the first highly anticipated presidential debate on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 6:00pm-8:30pm, at the Olympic Tower Atrium CafÃ©, 645 Fifth Avenue (entrance on 51st St.) in New York City. NY Assemblyman Michael Gianaris will make a special guest appearance. Additional guests will be announced at nygreekamericansforobama.com, but Barack Obama and Joe Biden will not be attending.
Event hosts Dean Sirigos, Olga Alexakos, co-hosts and chairpersons are leaders and members of numerous Greek-American organizations. Jeff Kurzon is affiliated with Armenians for Obama and Obama NYC. Sirigos stressed that due to the partisan nature of the event, the event will focus on individual participants and not local Greek-American organizations. "In the future our efforts may develop into a flexible and effective network, which can join with traditional organizations and others that might be formed by Greek Republicans to mobilize our community. As Greek Americans we will then finally have the public affairs impact we need and deserve," Sirigos said.
Olga Alexakos said it's a wonderful and important opportunity for New York area Greek Americans to rally for an Obama-Biden ticket and to make a vital contribution to this important campaign. "We strongly encourage donations beyond the minimum to fuel our drive to victory in November and to show our community's support for Obama-Biden."
Speakers will highlight the Obama-Biden support of Greece and Cyprus. As a member of the United States Senate, Barack Obama has supported Greek American community positions on Greece and Cyprus and Joseph Biden has been a strong supporter and leader on those issues for more than 30 years.
Event minimum donation is $50 ($30 for students) and will feature a musical performance by Blue Note recording guitarist Spiros Exaras and vocalist Fay. Complimentary hors dÊ'oeuvres, wine and refreshments will be served. For more information and RSVP, visit www.nygreekamericansforobama.com
Gianaris is Assembly member for the 36th Assembly District in Queens and the first Greek-American to be elected to office from New York City. In the Assembly, he emerged as a leader on government reform issues sponsoring numerous measures to improve the efficiency and productivity of state government. Born to Nicholas and Magdalene Gianaris, he is a lifelong resident of Astoria and graduate of the New York City public school system. He graduated from Fordham University, Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor degree in Economics and Political Science before receiving his law degree from Harvard Law School, attending at the same time as Barack Obama.
ANCA Makes policies for U.S.A. for Turkey and ARMENIA!
All To End Nowhere But To Conflict And Continue O Dilemna, So That Anca Can Ask Donations!
DASNAKS knew it all! They boiled nothing but trouble and they still do! After all this is their “kettle of money minestrone soup”!
Sükrü S. Aya
10 things Bush got wrong about Turkey
September 22, 2008
In the Hot Seat. . .
Deputy National Security Advisor, Amb. James Jeffrey is set to face questions on the U.S.-Turkey relationship at his confirmation hearing this week. Sept. 24th at 2:30pm
U.S. - Turkey Relations:
Special Report: 10 Failings in U.S.-Turkey Policy (PDF)
ANCA Urges Scrutiny of U.S. Turkey Policy During Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing
ANCA Action: Urge Candidates in your area to submit an ANCA Candidate Questionnaire
From the Campaign Trail:
Obama Marks Armenian Independence Day
ANCA Urges Scrutiny of U.S. Turkey Policy During Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing
Senate Panel Set to Consider Nominee on September 24th
10 Failings in U.S. Turkey Policy (PDF)
Bio: Amb. James Jeffrey
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to closely scrutinize ten serious shortcomings in the Administration’s handling of the U.S. - Turkey relationship, during the September 24th confirmation hearing for James Jeffrey to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.
In letters to panel Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) and other key Committee members, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian outlined the Administration’s failings, and encouraged strict scrutiny of the nominee in order to “ensure accountability for past errors, as well as to apply the lessons learned from these setbacks in charting a more productive and principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations.”
Hachikian underscored that, “We are today, near the close of the Bush Administration’s eight years in office, at a meaningful milestone in our relationship with Turkey. This hearing provides an important opportunity both to look back over the challenges, the progress, and the setbacks of the past, as well as to look forward to approaches to develop our ties in ways that advance both our interests and our values in this vital region of the world.” . . .
House Foreign Affairs Comm. Chairman Praises Armenia's Help to U.S. Diplomats During Georgia Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC - House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), today, thanked Armenia for providing safe transit for U.S. officials during the recent Georgia conflict, during Committee consideration of a $470 million post-conflict assistance package to Georgia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Noting the “ripple effects” of the crisis beyond Georgia’s borders and the absence of Armenia in the bill, Chairman Berman pledged consideration of additional assistance to Armenia next year. He stated, in his opening remarks, that, “I note that the ripple effects of this crisis were clearly felt beyond Georgia’s borders. The United States is grateful to the Armenian Government for providing safe transit for American and international officials, relatives of diplomats and NGO representatives and Georgia nationals. Although this bill does not include funding for other countries in the Caucasus region, it is my intention, when we consider the authorization of assistance next year, to examine the wider impact of this conflict and provide appropriate funding for Armenia and other affected countries.”
Rep. Sherman (D-CA), an outspoken supporter of post-conflict aid to Armenia and Javakhk, expressed reservations about language in the bill, which may support the construction of a new pipeline bypassing Armenia.
“We see that there are pipelines in Georgia,” stated Rep. Sherman. “Why are there pipelines in Georgia? Because we funded an anti-Armenia pipeline that violates the rules of geometry - that does not use a straight line - but rather goes around Armenia in order to benefit those who are trying to isolate Armenia and now there is talk in this resolution of a new pipeline - again one designed to avoid going through Armenia territory, avoid building a peace pipeline between Azerbaijan and Armenia.” . . .
Bipartisan Group of U.S. Representatives Call for Post-Conflict Aid to Javakhk and Armenia
WASHINGTON, DC - Twenty Members of the U.S. House of Representatives today joined with Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and George Radanovich (R-CA) in formally calling upon President Bush to dedicate portions of the proposed $1 billion post Georgia-Russia conflict aid package to meeting economic development needs in Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia and to helping to offset the economic impact of the recent crisis on Armenia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The signatories of the letter included two key members of the House panel that writes the foreign aid bill, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ); the Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI); as well as the chamber’s two members of Armenian heritage, Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA). Also signing the letter were the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank (D-MA), the Co-Chairman of the Human Rights Caucus, Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Jim Costa (D-CA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Mike Honda (D-CA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), James Langevin (D-RI), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Colin Peterson (D-MN).
“Armenians Americans - from Fresno, New Jersey and around the nation - thank Representatives Pallone and Radanovich and all those who added their names to this worthwhile effort to address the pressing post-conflict humanitarian and developmental needs in Georgia and in Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to working with these legislators and our other friends on Capitol Hill to reach out to these populations during their time of need.” . . .
20th Anniversary of NKR Movement Marked in Capitol Hill Program
Special Guest Mark Geragos Joined by More than Ten Members of Congress;
Community Leadership; Armenia and NKR Diplomatic Corps
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.” . . .
Obama Marks Armenian Independence Day
Stresses his Respect for Enormous Armenian Contributions to American Life
WASHINGTON, DC - Presidential candidate Barack Obama today joined with Armenian Americans in celebrating Armenian Independence day in statement that noted Armenia’s first modern instance of independence in 1918 and congratulated all Armenians on Armenia’s rebirth in 1991 as an independent state after 70 years of Soviet rule, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Senator Obama has, at several points during the campaign season, shared his views on Armenian American issues, including in a statement this April dedicated to the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. In January of this year, in a statement on the eve of the California primary, he outlined his views on a broad array of Armenian American concerns. The Illinois legislator, who was then facing Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for his party’s nomination, called for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 & S.Res.106), and pledged that, as president, he will recognize the Armenian Genocide. He also reaffirmed his support for a strong “U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy,” and promised to “promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.” . . .
Diaspora Should Counter Turkey's Divide and Conquer Strategy By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier
Armenians worldwide have been following with great concern sinister Turkish attempts at rapprochement with Armenia.
Their apprehension is based on several factors. The first is that Turkey has pre-conditioned its rapprochement with the demand that Armenia participate in a historical commission on the Armenian Genocide -- a devious stratagem to cast doubt on the long established facts of the Armenian Genocide.
Furthermore, Turkish leaders have publicly announced that their true intent is to let the world know that Armenians and Turks are engaged in serious negotiations on the Armenian Genocide, therefore, it is no longer necessary for the U.S. Congress or parliaments around the world to adopt resolutions on this issue.
Finally, Turkish leaders have stated that by making a separate deal with Armenia, they would be rendering the Armenian Diaspora and its demands irrelevant. Nevertheless, in assessing the Turkish attempt at reconciliation with Armenia, one needs to keep in mind the following issues:
In the aftermath of the recent Russian-Georgian war, all countries in the region have re-evaluated their strategic interests. The opening of the Turkish border would reduce Armenia's reliance on Georgian ports to import more than 80% of its supplies. To protect Armenia's national security, the Parliament should immediately adopt legislation prohibiting foreign ownership of strategic resources, vital industries and real estate in sensitive border regions.
Turkey, on the other hand, has several reasons for wanting to improve its relations with Armenia: 1) Having normal diplomatic relations and an open border with all its neighbors, including Armenia, would help realize Turkey's desire of becoming a dominant regional power; 2) To help bring economic prosperity to the most destitute regions of Eastern Turkey; 3) To provide an opportunity for Turkey to project its political and economic power across the Armenian border, all the way to the Central Asian Republics; 4) To downplay the charges of genocide from the Armenian Diaspora and third countries by establishing a historical commission; and 5) To facilitate Turkey's entry into the European Union, since having open borders with neighboring states is an EU requirement.
The rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey is also being encouraged by Europe and the United States, because it would create an alternate land corridor for the unimpeded transport of vital oil and gas supplies from the Caspian region to the West. This new initiative also serves Russia's interests, as the opening of the Armenian/Turkish border would diminish the value of Georgia's Black Sea ports.
While it is understandable why Armenia and Turkey are seeking improved relations, it remains to be seen whether Armenia would be better off at the end of these deliberations, given Turkey's extensive diplomatic experience compared to that of Armenia. After all, getting concessions from Turkey is not an easy task, as demonstrated by the lengthy and unproductive negotiations over Cyprus. What counts is the end result, rather than the process itself!
Rather than getting involved in acrimonious debates with Armenia's leadership, we should acknowledge that Armenia's interests may sometimes diverge from those of the Diaspora, and that the two would take different positions on some issues, given the differences in their status. Therefore, Diaspora communities should pursue their own agenda, independently from that of Armenia.
In order to counter Turkey's attempts to make the Diaspora irrelevant, Armenians worldwide should continue their efforts to expose Turkish crimes against humanity and go beyond mere genocide recognition by expanding their activities to the following areas:
-- Pass resolutions in the U.S. Congress and European parliaments, seeking to defend the human rights of the Armenian minority in Turkey, particularly the rights of Armenian churches and schools;
-- Demand the lifting of an undeclared ban on Armenian citizens of Turkey to enter its diplomatic service or hold high-ranking military posts;
-- File lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights and U.S. Federal Courts to force Turkey to return to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul) the hundreds of Armenian church buildings confiscated by the Turkish government after the Genocide;
-- Seek the return of personal properties expropriated by Turkey;
-- Expose the muzzling of Turkish citizens under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which makes it a crime to refer to the Armenian Genocide; and
-- Strongly counter all attempts by Turkish officials and their hired lackeys to deny and distort the facts of the Armenian Genocide.
Such actions would make it perfectly clear to Turkish officials that unless they deal directly with the Diaspora and reach a fair settlement on the damages emanating from the Armenian Genocide, they would continue to be hounded around the globe, regardless of any agreements they might have reached with the Armenian government.
Armenian Genocide: The Holocaust Deniers Functionalize The Erasmus Program, 23 September 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
The Turkish daily Taraf published on 18 September 2008 an article entitled "Going through his brain washed".
It turns out that students of the University of Marmara to be sent to Europe under the Erasmus program were forced to attend a seminar about the official Turkish theses issues concerning the Greeks of Pontos, Kurds, Armenia and Cyprus.
The speaker on the Armenian issue was Yusuf Halacoglu. The meeting was announced to students via e-mail stating that they did not attend the meeting to exchange their trip would be canceled.
The Turkish Erasmus coordinator Professor Selahattin Gurises said that their intention was "to inform students about issues that give a headache to Turkey." In his speech Yusuf Halacoglu said that as Turkish citizens, students must defend the Turkish theses. Some students have protested against this statement saying they went "to unite with students from other cultures, not to fight against enemies."
As Yusuf Halacoglu continued his full of animosity towards the Armenians, many students have left the room and went to account to Professor Selahattin Gurises.
He said he had decided to have this meeting because of what had happened to him in Spain when the Catalans have recognized "those living in the south-east" (he can not publicly say the Kurds!) and that students did not know how to defend Turkey (he believes that Turkey should do) which led to what students receive at least a little training.
Original article: www.taraf.com.tr
The Turkish Minister Of Culture Responded Positively To The Call From His Armenian Counterpart , 23 September 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
"We would like to establish friendly relations with our neighbors," said Turkish Minister of Culture Ertugrul Günay in an interview with Turkish Daily News adding that Turkey was ready to engage in more cultural cooperation with Armenia.
"The visit of President Abdullah Gül in Yerevan is a significant development in terms of bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia," said Günay. "At this stage, not that Armenia will take will be highly significant. These steps form the cultural and political cooperation between the two countries. "
Mr. Günay said that the Turkish Ministry of Culture was ready to cooperate with Armenia in the cultural field where bilateral political relations are normalized. "Hostility does anyone. Our door is open to everyone. We certainly want to have cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Armenia in the restoration of the ruins of Ani and further work in the monastery Island Akghdamar "said Günay.
The ruins of the ancient Armenian town of Ani, located in the eastern province of Kars in Turkey to the Turkish-Armenian border, have until recently been shaken by explosions from the quarrying of stone in Armenia. "Although we kindly warned the authorities of Armenia explosions, they ended there is only a short time," said Günay.
"We must work not to demolish a site of cultural heritage that belongs in fact to the world and humanity, but rather the renovations to pass to younger generations," he said.
Another common could be Khac Surp Church in Aghdamar Island. The church has been renovated and opened as a museum when Atilla Koç, former Turkish minister of culture was based.
Mr. Günay spoke of archaeological relics belonging to an old Armenian monastery, which is located near the church. "The Turkish Ministry of Culture wants to unearth the Armenian monastery near the museum Aghdamar. Very soon we will start working with the Armenian Ministry of Culture to unearth these relics, too. "
"The rapprochement of the two peoples, Turks and Armenians, Armenian makes Turkey happy too. This is important, "said Günay.
The minister highlighted the significance of intercultural dialogue: "I am against the word minority. Everyone is part of a brand in the world. No one should describe the other as "a member of a minority or a member of the majority". In addition, we lived on this land together for centuries, we have seen to our homeland. As Ms. Bogosyan said, even our songs are the same. "
For Nalbandian, Turkey Will Not Participate In Peace Process , 23 September 2008 by Virginia / armenews
The Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Nalbandian, was optimistic about a future resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, stressing that such reconciliation would open new opportunities for regional cooperation.
However, on Turkey, the minister said not to believe in a reconciliation with Armenia, simply through a football match.
The Armenian diplomat has used the term "obvious exaggeration" to talk about the so-called Turkish influence in Armenia. He also pointed out in reports broadcast media in Azerbaijan, insinuating that Turkey wanted to increase its role in conflict resolution course of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Many Azeri media have indeed recently quoted Matthew Bryza, the U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group OSCE, announcing a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Turkey. According to Bryza, "Turkey can have its contribution in the peace process and assist Armenia."
The Current Flows Between Ankara And Yerevan , 23 September 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
Long enemy, Turkey and Armenia operate a spectacular rapprochement leading to increased cooperation, particularly in the energy field. An Armenian newspaper analyzes the new position of Turkey in a region in crisis.
Starting from next year, Armenia will deliver electricity directly to Turkey by the city of Kars. Armen Movsisian, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia, announced an agreement in this regard was reached last Saturday between his administration, coupled with the company's high-voltage lines, and the Turkish electric company Private Unit, which imports and delivers high voltage through Turkey. On 6 September, its emissaries were in Yerevan within the framework of the visit of President Abdullah Gül [who visited Yerevan at the football match Armenia-Turkey].
The agreement provides that the Turkish side will first four to five months to rehabilitate all the necessary infrastructure in Turkey. In the early days, the quantities of electricity transferred have been set at 1.5 billion kilowatt hours per year, a figure which should then be gradually increased to 3.5 billion, as the transport capacity will increase. For Armenia, this represents an entirely new market. It has the capacity necessary energy, and the recent agreement will make the best potential.
Babadjan Ali, Foreign Minister of Turkey, told Reuters that "Armenia could become an alternative to the route of the pipeline meant to serve the West from the Caspian Sea through the territory of Georgia, became little course after the Russian intervention "(he referred to events in Georgia last month). The minister also noted that cooperation between Ankara and Yerevan could both ensure the security of energy projects in the Caspian Sea region, but also strengthen the influence of the West in the South Caucasus. He thought the Nabucco project, in which Turkey assumes the role of main transit countries. For now, Armenia has not responded to his words. It should probably consult Russia, so far opposed the draft, which does not meet its interests.
Third big news, which is far from being the last in order of importance: Volkan Vural, former Turkish ambassador to Russia and former representative of Russia to the United Nations, told Turkish journalists that his country would ask for forgiveness to the Armenian people for what happened in the early twentieth century. When he was asked if Turkey would officially raise the issue of the Armenian genocide, he replied that, if development of relations between the two countries, it is essential to the topic. The diplomat argued that while it was unlikely that Turkey recognize the genocide, it should immediately apologized for the deportation and massacre of Armenians, for the great pain caused to the Armenian people. As to possible compensation, he said that the return of property and payment of financial compensation were complex problems, but a symbolic gesture could be done. Mr. Vural also pointed out that the joint commission of historians from both countries can not resolve the Armenian issue, it could aid "light on some episodes and help reach a solution.
It would be naive to talk about changes in psychology and vision of Turkish officials, but the events that took place in Georgia in August opened in Ankara serious opportunities to make at least two of its main objectives: up to a leader in the Caucasus region and play an intermediary role in conflict zones. It is in this perspective that we must consider "surprises" mentioned above. At a time when other actors are doing a spectacular return on the international scene, Ankara tries to appear as a partner of the same level. The situation is complicated, and it is difficult to predict what will happen. In this process, Armenia will conduct its boat with a delicate clock to avoid hitting a mine geopolitical submerged. And the road is full.
Gaiane Movsesian, www.courrierinternational.com
British Insurance Giant Sued by Victims of Armenian Genocide LOS ANGELES - Descendants of the Armenian Genocide filed a class action lawsuit last week against Aviva, a British Insurance company that is the successor in interest to Norwich Union and Commercial Union, companies that sold insurance to Armenians in Turkish Ottoman Empire prior to the 1915 genocide (Baghtchedjian and Papazyan et al vs. Aviva et al , U.S. District Court, Central District of Calif.).
The lawsuit seeks to recover life and fire insurance benefits that were wrongfully withheld from beneficiaries of those killed during the genocide. AVIVA is the 11th insurance company to be sued on behalf of Armenian Genocide victims and their heirs.
Raffi Baghtchedjian and Nisan Papazyan, the lead plaintiffs of the federal class action lawsuit, are suing on behalf of all Armenians who owned Norwich Union life insurance and Commercial Union life and fire insurance policies during the Armenian Genocide, and whose beneficiaries were never paid insurance benefits.
Baghtchedjian and Papazyan are represented by attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan of Glendale-based Yeghiayan & Associates, who is co-counsel for similar class action cases, including Marootian v. New York Life Insurance Company, Kyurkjian v. Axa, Movsesian v. Victoria Versicherung AG, and Deirmenjian, v. Deutsche Bank AG.
From 1880 to 1915, many Armenians living in Turkey purchased life and fire insurance policies from various European and American Insurance companies. This case involves those who purchased policies from Norwich Union and Commercial union. On April 24, 1915, the Turkish Ottoman Empire launched a systematic campaign to destroy Armenians through a process of massacre and deportation, known as the Armenian Genocide. Between 1915 and 1922, approximately two million Armenians perished as a result.
Among the victims were the owners of life and fire insurance policies issued by Norwich Union and Commercial union. "These companies never paid benefits to victims of the Armenian Genocide or their heirs," says Yeghiayan.
In the lawsuit, Baghtchedjian and Papazyan are asking the federal court for an order requiring Aviva to identify the insurance benefits that belong to Armenians, identify the rightful heirs and to pay the benefits to them. "For more than 93 years, Aviva and its subsidiary companies have been holding millions of dollars that belong to the heirs of the victims of the Armenian Genocide," says Yeghiayan. "No organization should be allowed to profit from genocide, but until now, Aviva has had no incentive to identify the rightful heirs and pay the money owed to them. With this federal lawsuit, we intend to give them an incentive."
Turkey Scared To Admit Armenian Genocide, Says Historian Robert Tait in Yerevan September 22 2008, www.guardian.co.uk
Turkey risks a collapse of its secular political system akin to that of the Soviet Union if it bows to international pressure to recognise the 1915-22 Armenian genocide, the head of Armenia's state memorial to the event has told the Guardian.
Hayk Demoyan said Ankara could not acknowledge the systematic killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman troops during the first world war because it would lead to a wholesale re-writing of history and undermine the ideological basis of the Turkish state.
In remarks that will cast a shadow over attempts to forge a new Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, he said those implicated included Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of modern Turkey and a figure Turks are taught to revere. Historical documents proved Atatürk committed "war crimes" against Armenians and other groups in his drive to create an ethnically homogeneous Turkish state, Demoyan insisted. "Fear of rewriting history is the main fear of modern Turkey," said Demoyan, director of The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan, Armenia's capital.
"It is a fear of facing historical reality and causing a total collapse of the ideological axis that modern republican Turkey was formed around. Turks get panicked when you compare Atatürk's legacy to Lenin.
Atatürk was sentenced to death in absentia by a military judge to punish war crimes during the first world war. There are documents from non-Armenian sources listing him as a war criminal ."
Demoyan's remarks come amid fledgling attempts to re-establish links between two countries which have not had diplomatic relations since 1994, following a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turkey's ally.
Tentative efforts towards normalising ties occurred this month when the Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, visited Yerevan to attend a World Cup football match between Turkey and Armenia at the invitation of his Armenian counterpart, Serge Sarkisian.
Unlike most visiting heads of state, Gül did not visit the genocide museum, which displays documentary and photographic exhibits proving, Armenian officials say, that their ethnic brethren were subjected to deliberate genocide. Turkey vehemently denies this and has jailed Turkish citizens who argued otherwise. However, rising numbers of Turkish tourists and journalists have visited the museum recently.
"More than 500 Turks have visited this year. They've come in unprecedented numbers," Demoyan said. "Their reaction is one of shock. At first there is denial. Sometimes they ask: 'What is our sin?' or 'How can we be responsible for this?'. It's not taught in Turkish schools, so we understand their reaction."
Turkey claims the Armenian death toll has been exaggerated and that most victims died from starvation or disease. It also argues that many Turks were killed by Armenian groups.
There Is A Direct Danger Of Recurrence Of March 1 Events By David Petrosian, September 22, 2008
A regular rally of the opposition with the participation of many thousand people took place after a 45-day interval in Yerevan, in the territory near Matenadaran (Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts). It was the first opposition rally sanctioned by the city authorities since March 21, that is, after the cancellation of the state of emergency. However, to all appearances, even the current castrated legislation on the right of holding public events does not influence the way of thinking of the representatives of law enforcement bodies and executive power of Armenia. A few days before holding the rally the Police in Armenia, including their special subdivisions, organized a real hunt for opposition activists, which according to the legislation in force, notified citizens about the forthcoming rally with the help of leaflets and loud speakers. The policemen even showed readiness to arrest journalists. At that, when representatives of the opposition and journalists drew Police officers' attention to the fact that by informing citizens about the forthcoming rally they act within the law, in response the officers stated: "The law is us."
However, the main events happened on the rally day. Not only additional Police and internal troops detachments were brought in to the center of Yerevan, the city center was just crowded with them. Besides, special means were also drawn to the center of the capital, including cars equipped with fountains. On the eve of the rally the opposition leaders were informed that according to the secret instruction of President Serzh Sargsyan, the Police and internal troops were to organize a series of clashes with opposition representatives during the march that was planned to be held along central Yerevan streets straight after the rally. According to the action plans, the clashes were to become large-scale in consideration of opposition's readiness to repulse to representatives of law enforcement bodies and were to lead to a bloodshed. It would become an occasion for accusing the opposition of organizing a bloodshed and mass disorders. After which, under the pretext of restoring the "constitutional order," state of emergency would be introduced for a long term (possibly up to one year). Introduction of state of emergency regime was to become a start of total repressions not only against representatives of the opposition, but also against dissidents. Therefore, dictatorship would be completely established in the country. However, S. Sargsyan's calculations were not justified. The political experience of first Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian became the reason. In spite of protest of some of his companions-in-arms, he made a decision to give up a march and therefore, failed the plans of the authorities. At that, the radical part of the opposition remained discontent with the decision of the first President, partly because it was not completely informed of the plans of the authorities. In essence, the authorities in Armenia were going to repeat, true, a little in a different variant, the violent actions against their opponents analogous to those committed on March 1 of the current year. It should be mentioned that during those events in Yerevan, according to official data, 10 people died and more than 200 were injured. It is not accidental that starting the last week of August policemen had been constantly telling opposition activists that "a new March 1 will be organized soon." A natural question emerges: why only 6 months after the tragedy near the Embassies of France and Italy did it occur to Armenia's leadership to repeat the bloody slaughter?
One of the main reasons of this political-criminal recurrence, in our opinion, is as before practically absolute indifference of the international community, first of all of European organizations, to the events in Armenia. In particular, according to official sources, on September 11, Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, reported the Monitoring Commission about the process of investigation of the March 1 events and about the condition of persons imprisoned in this connection. He mentioned some progress in investigation of the March events, but expressed concern with the problem of prisoners. PACE Monitoring Commission took into consideration information presented by the Commissioner. The above mentioned issues will be placed on the agenda of next meeting of PACE Monitoring Commission during PACE session to take place from September 29 to October 3, 2008. However, to all appearances, these issues will not be considered either at a PACE plenary session or at the sitting of Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe. So, the threat of CE sanctions against Armenia is moved to January, that is, more than 70 political prisoners may remain in their prison cells until the beginning of next year. And the consent of the authorities to create a fact-finding group on the March 1 events (half a year after the events!) based on parity principle does not mean at all that the promises of official Yerevan will be fulfilled. In one word, the Armenian authorities received a kind of a delay until January 2009 and, as they suppose, they have been given carte blanche for continuing repressions against their opponents and dissidents. Besides, official Yerevan is not going to fulfil the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights on returning on air the A1+ TV company.
A number of authoritarian human rights organizations are also incredibly passive in connection with the situation in Armenia. Earlier we already informed you about absolute indifference shown to the events in Armenia by the Amnesty International renowned human rights organization based in London. However, we do not mention any considerable activeness in Armenia of no less renowned human rights organization, the U.S. based Human Rights Watch, either. Helsinki Association and individual countries (for instance, Norway) are perhaps, an exception, as through their human rights organizations, on their own initiative, they continue observing the situation in the sphere of human rights in Armenia.
From all above mentioned one can draw a conclusion that the main players in the West that have their direct geopolitical interests in the South Caucasian region, as before are inclined to carry on REALPOLITIK. We mean "twisting arms" of Serzh Sargsyan's administration in the issue of settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The main bargaining is conducted on the line "concessions for legitimacy," that is, one-sided concessions in Yerevan's position on Nagorno Karabakh settlement should be compensated by recognition of legitimacy of Serzh Sargsyan's power by the United States and Washington. At that, difference in policy of Brussels and Washington in the issue of complicated home political situation in Yerevan is reduced to the fact that for the present, Americans treat more cautiously the public opinion in Armenia than their European partners. Meanwhile Moscow, Washington, and Brussels taking advantage of weakness and illegitimacy of Serzh Sargsyan also push through a number of new geopolitical plans, the goal of which is to remove the negotiations process from OSCE Minsk Group. Ankara's initiative to form a Peace and Security Platform in the Caucasus is used for that very purpose. In case this initiative is fulfilled, the OSCE Minsk Group can be disintegrated and the negotiations ground beneficial for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh can be eliminated. Instead, Yerevan is offered dubious bilateral and tripartite negotiations formats where the Armenian side's room for political and diplomatic manoeuvre is limited. Apparently, Tehran is also concerned with the situation being formed. Kamal Zareh, the Adviser for Political Issues of the Embassy of Iran in Armenia, named Ankara's political initiative incomplete and not sincere. Of course, Iran is not pleased with the presence in the South Caucasus of players from outside the region, including within the framework of not so mobile OSCE Minsk Group, but Tehran is much more anxious about activity of Ankara. We do not exclude that Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian during his last visit to Tehran was presented more minutely with Iran's position on the situation in the South Caucasus. In our opinion, Yerevan should always remember that its land communications through Iran are open long ago and operate uniterruptedly, while land communications through Turkey are still planned to be opened, and the political price demanded by Ankara may prove to be unacceptable for Armenia. It is not known when the Armenian-Turkish border and communications will be opened, therefore, we should not make haste and accept all proposals of Ankara.
At the last opposition rally, the first Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian in fact sent a message to Serzh Sargsyan pointing out the danger of removing the negotiations process on Nagorno Karabakh from the format of OSCE Minsk Group. One of the most authoritative functionaries of ARFD Kiro Manoyan, Armenian Defence Minister Seyran Ohanian, NKR President Bako Sahakian and lastly, Armenia's Foreign Ministry expressed the same position during the following two days. However, the main person responsible for the foreign policy of Armenia, President Serzh Sargsyan, for the present, is only the executor of the will of the main foreign political players in the region. The lack of domestic legitimacy hinders his making and defending a decision beneficial for Armenia. S. Sargsyan also lacks proper level of understanding that his ability to balance between the main geopolitical players and domestic problems is limited, including in the respect of time, and real legitimacy cannot be granted from abroad.
As regards recurrence of "March 1," we can be cured of it only when those really and not mythically guilty of that crime are found and punished. The current President, for the present, demonstrates only willingness to conceal that terrible crime. It should be supposed that for carrying on such a policy he and his environment have rather weighty arguments, which, however, do not coincide with public and state interests.
"The Noyan Tapan Highlights" N35, September, 2008
--David Petrosyan is a political analyst in Yerevan, Armenia, and writes a regular weekly column in Noyan Tapan
Anca.Org Press Release September 21, Obama Marks Armenian Independence Day
-- Stresses his Respect for Enormous Armenian Contributions to American Life
WASHINGTON, DC - Presidential candidate Barack Obama today joined with Armenian Americans in celebrating Armenian Independence day in statement that noted Armenia's first modern instance of independence in 1918 and congratulated all Armenians on Armenia's rebirth in 1991 as an independent state after 70 years of Soviet rule, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
Senator Obama has, at several points during the campaign season, shared his views on Armenian American issues, including in a statement this April dedicated to the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. In January of this year, in a statement on the eve of the California primary, he outlined his views on a broad array of Armenian American concerns. The Illinois legislator, who was then facing Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for his party's nomination, called for Congressional passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 & S.Res.106), and pledged that, as president, he will recognize the Armenian Genocide. He also reaffirmed his support for a strong "U.S.-Armenian relationship that advances our common security and strengthens Armenian democracy," and promised to "promote Armenian security by seeking an end to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, and by working for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination."
The full text of his January statement is posted on the Senator's campaign website: www.barackobama.com/2008/01/19/barack_obama_on_the_importance.php
In today's statement, which again cites the Armenian Genocide, Senator Obama noted that "after centuries of living in the Persian, Russian, and Turkish empires, Armenians first achieved their modern independence in 1918 and regained it after 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991. Their struggle continues, but in the years of renewed independence they have been able to guide their own destiny through years of war and economic dislocation."
Senator Obama went on to mention the President of Turkey's recent decision to accept the President of Armenia's invitation to a World Cup qualifying match in Yerevan. The ANCA has outlined its views on this development in letters sent to the U.S. Congress. To read the text of these letters, visit: www.anca.org/press_releases/press_releases.php?prid=1578
The full text of Senator Obama's Statement by Senator Barack Obama on Armenian Independence Day
September 21, 2008
On this day, September 21, Armenians and friends of Armenia everywhere celebrate the independence of the Republic of Armenia, and I extend my warmest and best wishes on this happy occasion. Throughout their long history, a spirit of independence, self-reliance, and survival defines the Armenian people. After centuries of living in the Persian, Russian, and Turkish empires, Armenians first achieved their modern independence in 1918 and regained it after 70 years of Soviet rule in 1991. Their struggle continues, but in the years of renewed independence they have been able to guide their own destiny through years of war and economic dislocation. Even in the face of genocide, the pain of the past has not defeated the Armenians, either in Armenia or the far-flung diaspora.
America has benefited tremendously from the vigor and talents of the Armenian people. Armenian-Americans have made enormous contributions to American life - to our arts and academia, to business, science, and politics - while still maintaining strong ties to their ancestral home.
Recent events in the Caucasus region remind us of both the importance of rededicating ourselves to peace, and the possibility of progress even where there is a long history of alienation. The conflict in Georgia shows the danger that lurks when rising tensions are ignored and the United States pursues a diplomatic strategy of neglect. But in recent days we have also seen the hopeful step - taken by the Presidents of Turkey and Armenia -- to restart dialogue that could, in time, bring a welcome normalization of relations and offer Armenia more diversified opportunities for trade, transport, and energy supplies. American policy must build on this step, to ensure that Armenia enjoys a future not merely of independence but of partnership and cooperation with the U.S. and its allies.
Hurriyet, September 21, 2008, Armenia Presses For Diplomatic Ties With Turkey Ahead Of Commissions
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said it would be better to form diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia prior to the establishment of any commission, Milliyet Daily reported on Sunday.
"I generally said that I was not against the establishment of commissions between the two countries... First, let our joint border be opened and diplomatic relations constituted, then we can establish commissions, sub-commissions and sub-sub-commissions for any issue," Milliyet quoted Sargsyan as saying.
Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it declared its independency in the early 1990s. However there is no diplomatic relations between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey's call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory despite UN Security Council resolutions on the issue.
In 2005, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a first step towards resolving the issue by proposing that a joint commission of historians launch an investigation and publish their conclusions, but the proposal was rejected by Yerevan.
The decisions taken by the commissions are also not determining, and would only make recommendations for decision takers and governments, Sargsyan said and reminded of similar commissions formed by U.S. efforts in the past
"In fact, if you remember a similar commission to this was formed in the past with the efforts of the United States and this commission concluded a 'genocide had taken place'. What happened then? Has something changed? Did anybody accept it? No. Nobody accepted."
Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915. Turkey rejects the claims, saying that 300,000 Armenians along with at least as many Turks died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms for independence in eastern Anatolia.
NO TERRITORIAL DEMAND FROM TURKEY
Sargsyan also denied that they were making territorial demands from Turkey.
`I am surprised by the territorial demand claim. I do not know but it is a common opinion. But have you ever heard an Armenian official saying, `We are demanding territory from Turkey.' In no way has such a statement ever been made,' he said.
A warmer period began between the relations between the two neighbors after Gul paid a landmark visit to Armenia early September to attend a World Cup qualifying match between the countries' national teams. Turkey hopes this period would lead to a normalization of relations.
The Moscow Times, Russia, September 21, 2008 The Danger of Ethnic Homogeneity By Boris Kagarlitsky
Judging by the mood in Tbilisi just before and after the war, it is clear that Georgian and Russian societies are remarkably similar. In both countries, we see the desire to rally the people around the state regardless of their leaders' faults and mistakes. They both also believe that the state should hold onto its separatist territories at all costs.
Look at the parallels between Chechnya and South Ossetia. The Kremlin used force and widespread destruction as justifiable measures in the Chechen war, and Georgia considered the bombing of South Ossetian towns as a just punishment for the republic's rebellion.
But there is one fundamental difference between public opinion in Georgia and Russia. In Georgia, nationalism is pervasive, and the few who might feel differently are careful to remain silent. In Russia, dissenting voices can always be heard, even when patriotic fervor reaches unprecedented levels.
In contrast, when a small state dominated by a single ethnic group whips up nationalistic sentiment, it has an amazing power to mobilize the entire community in support of a single idea or belief, leaving almost no room for criticism. During the Soviet era, the Moscow intelligentsia took a patronizing pleasure in the ethnic solidarity among people from the Baltic states -- particularly when it was compared to the lack of unification among ethnic Russians. Many Russians admired the Baltic song festivals, in which thousands of people lined up in long columns. But the scenes always made me uneasy because of their striking resemblance to the mass rallies of Hitler's Third Reich.
Georgia is far from being the only former Soviet republic with a uniform public opinion. You would have trouble finding anyone in Armenia who could understand Azerbaijan's position regarding the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Many contemporary Turkish intellectuals would willingly risk going to jail for stating that almost 100 years ago, a genocide of Armenian citizens did, in fact, occur on Turkish soil, even though the Turkish government denies it. But I do not know of a single Armenian intellectual who has ever written anything that treats Turkish history and culture with respect.
Every year, many young Israelis refuse military duty in the occupied territories and activists from Israel's political left speak out for the rights of Palestinians. Yet decisions by the authorities in Estonia and Lithuania designed to offend the feelings of their Russian minorities, such as moving the Bronze Soldier monument in Tallinn and prohibiting Soviet symbols in Vilnius, did not provoke the slightest protest among any Estonians and Lithuanians, even among the most liberal of them. Causing divisions among people along ethnic lines is by no means a sign of pluralism.
Paradoxically, the split in Russian public opinion between supporters and opponents of the country's imperial traditions is far more similar to public sentiment in Western Europe than to many countries on Russia's borders. It is inevitable that Russia's "post-imperial" consciousness evokes criticism, discussion and reflection in society. The same is largely true in Ukraine with its sharp division between the Ukrainian majority and the substantial Russian minority.
Russians can portray themselves as either victims or aggressors. They can take pride in their history or be ashamed of it. We experience conflicting emotions regarding both our past and our present. We are free to argue about our country's future course. These are all characteristics of a healthy society that, having once fallen ill with the disease of nationalism, is now likely to recover.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said with any certainty regarding the ethnically homogeneous former Soviet republics.
Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.
InterMedia Survey Finds Armenians Most Favorably Inclined Towards Russia and Optimistic about Democracy in their Country
WASHINGTON, Aug 28, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Despite a powerful Diaspora lobby in the United States, Armenians' positive feelings towards the U.S. are nearly 40 percentage points behind their feelings towards neighboring Russia. So says a survey of the small (3 million inhabitants) yet strategically located nation, conducted earlier this year by InterMedia, a Washington, D.C.- based research, evaluation and consulting organization.
The InterMedia survey found fully 90 percent of Armenians are favorably inclined towards Russia, but only 53 percent say they are so inclined towards the United States.
"The higher favorability towards Russia compared to the U.S. is not surprising," says Lyuda Andriyevska, one of InterMedia's project managers for Eurasia. "Russia has been the main strategic partner for Armenia for centuries. Currently, Russia provides landlocked Armenia with oil and gas, invests heavily in business and infrastructure, sells weapons and supports many positions of Armenian foreign policy, the touchiest of which is its dispute with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region."
Armenia is strategically significant in the region due in part to its location at both the energy and ethnic crossroads of Europe, Asia and Middle East. With growing demand for energy resources in the world, Armenia is an important player among three regional powers -- Iran, Turkey and Russia -- all of which compete for political and economic leadership in the region.
Only slightly more than one-quarter of Armenians, 28 percent, are favourably inclined towards their northern neighbour, Georgia. "One reason is the souring of Georgian-Russian relations over the last couple of years," says Ms. Andriyevska. "Georgia serves as a lifeline for the Armenian economy, as all the inland trade with Russia goes through it. However, the ongoing conflict between Georgia and Russia has seriously disrupted communication and transportation of energy and food supplies to Armenia. This should serve to increase Armenians' animosity towards Georgia and perhaps even take some of the lustre off their feelings towards Russia."
The InterMedia survey also found Armenians are pro-European but less keen on NATO. Seventy percent of the population agree or strongly agree with the statement that "Armenia should join EU." NATO, on the other hand, has the support of only slightly more than a quarter of the population, 27 percent.
Although favorability toward Russia is high, there are fundamental differences in public sentiment between the two countries. The InterMedia survey finds Armenians are more optimistic about democratic changes in their country and have more faith in the power of the electoral process than do Russians. Almost two-thirds of Armenians, 64 percent, anticipated increased chances for democracy and personal self expression after the presidential elections in February 2008; only 5 percent of the Russian population expected similar improvements in terms of democracy and self expression after their own 2008 presidential elections. (InterMedia's Russian survey took place in January 2008.)
InterMedia is a leading international media research, public opinion, evaluation and consulting organization creatively equipping clients to understand their audiences, gauge their effectiveness and target their communications in transitional and developing societies worldwide. Based in Washington, D.C., and active year-round in more than 60 countries, InterMedia helps clients understand complex issues in challenging research environments. The company's strengths include its people-area experts skilled in scientifically-based research and focused on client solutions-its vast global network of local research partners and contacts and its rich data archive of more than 670 media and opinion surveys carried out over the past 15 years.
Survey Details: InterMedia conducted a nationally representative survey of 2,000 face-to face interviews in Armenia between 22 January and 27 February 2008. Maximum margin of error, with a 95% confidence interval, is +/-2.2%.
Armenia Wants Diplomatic Ties With Turkey Before The Creation Of Committees 22 September 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
According to the Turkish daily Milliyet dated Sunday, 21 September 2008 the Armenian President Serge Sarkissian said it would be preferable to establish diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia before the establishment of any committee.
"I always said that I was not against the establishment of committees between the two countries ... First, let us open our common border and establish diplomatic relations so we can establish committees, subcommittees and sub-committees on any issue, "said Serge Sarkissian quoted by Milliyet.
The decisions taken by the commissions are not decisive and do only as recommendations for those who make decisions and governments said Serge Sarkissian recalling that similar committees had been formed in the past with U.S. efforts.
"In fact, if you remember similar commission was formed in the past through the efforts of the United States and this committee has concluded that genocide had taken place. What happened then? -Has this changed anything? Does someone has accepted? No nobody has accepted ".
Serge Sarkissian also wished to clarify that Armenia had no territorial application vis-à-vis Turkey. "I'm surprised a land claim. I do not know but it seems that it was a common view. But have you ever heard an Armenian official said they "We demand the territories of Turkey." Not such a declaration was made, "said the president of Armenia.
Poll: A majority of Turks applauded the visit of Abdullah Gul to Yerevan
The brief visit of President Abdullah Gül in Yerevan to attend the football match between Turkish and Armenian teams received the favors of an overwhelming majority of Turkish society.
The MetroPOLL Research Center based in Ankara conducted a survey on the visit of Abdullah Gul to Yerevan to take the opinion of Turks in this regard. According to the survey, 69.6% of respondents felt that the visit of Mr. Gul in Armenia was successful, a figure which suggests that the Turks are hopeful that the visit may be a turning point in relations between Turkey and Armenia.
15% of respondents felt that the visit was a failure and 15.4% said they had no opinion.
"Turkey and Armenia have taken steps to normalize their relations after years of discussion. Although some political parties and some politicians are strongly opposed to Mr. Gul travel to Yerevan, the two governments and presidents have done their best to break the ice between the two countries. Gul's visit to Armenia was received with satisfaction by the Turkish nation. For me, this visit could be a turning point in Turkish-Armenian relations, "said Professor Sencar Ozer, one of the leaders of the survey.
According to Professor Eser Karakas, editorialist at the Turkish daily Star, said that the visit was a huge step for the resolution of problems between the two neighbors. "This is a significant step benevolence. It would be great if the two countries strengthened not by repeating in the future. That can not solve all problems between Turkey and Armenia, but it can at least help Turkey to open its border with its neighbor, "he explained.
Another question asked in the survey concerned the tough position of opposition parties the CHP and the MHP to the visit of Mr. Gul in Yerevan. When asked if the CHP and MHP were right to react negatively to the visit of Mr. Gul, 65.6% of those claimed that the two opposition parties were in error. Only 24.9% of respondents supported the MHP CHPet while 9.5% had no opinion.
Ozer Sencar stressed that the Turkish nation has been disturbed by the reaction of the CHP and the MHP. "Our people do not consider such reactions as a democratic behavior. A considerable majority of the company is aware that both parties strive to create an atmosphere of chaos in the country. However, the company does not face other crises, "he said.
Mr Karakas was agreed with this analysis adding that the discussion between Turkey and Armenia comes from a political disagreement and the two nations are not parties to the conflict.
"The peoples of both countries say at every opportunity that they have no problems with one another. These are the states that have problems, "he noted.
According Ozer Sencar "the two opposition parties have shown the positions that they want to keep the crisis between Turkey and Armenia. However, people here want to have friendly relations with Armenia. I think the CHP and the MHP will suffer from their tough stand against normalization of relations with Armenia. "
Another subject of the survey was about future relations with Armenia. In response to a question on what policy Turkey should pursue in its relations with its neighbor, 62.8% of respondents indicated that Turkey should develop diplomatic and economic relations with Armenia, while 25.9% stated that Turkey should maintain the existing policy. 11.3% of respondents had no opinion.
"Our people are tired of discussions with Armenia which Turkey has no advantage. We had a discussion with Armenia about what happened 80 years ago. People do not want events dating from the Ottoman period that affect their lives longer. That's why they attach so much importance to the visit of Mr. Gul to Yerevan "concluded Ozer Sencar.
The telephone survey was conducted September 7 among a random sample at the national level of 1019 adults residing in cities and villages. The margin of sampling error is 2.5 percentage with a confidence level of 95%.
Euro Court Takes A Stand Against The Turkish GovernmentBy Mark D. Tooley frontpagemagazine.com Sept 18 2008
Does good ever come from the European Court? Apparently yes! Or at least occasionally. The court ruled in favor of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and against the Turkish Government this summer over a symbolically important property dispute.
Orthodox Christians in what is today Turkey once numbered in the millions. But Islamic pressure over the centuries, continuing through the 20th century, wore down ancient Orthodox communities through attrition. About 30 percent of Turkey was Christian nearly a century ago, most of them Armenian or Greek Orthodox. Today, Christians may number fewer than 100,000 out of a population of over 60 million. And only about 3,000 are Greek Orthodox and under the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Even under an ostensibly secular government since the 1920's, the dwindling Christian minority in Turkey has suffered under various legal and social pressures, including often insurmountable restrictions against churches retaining, much less purchasing or developing property.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is largely restricted to a small island of property in Istanbul. Until the European Court ruling, the Patriarchate did not legally own any property in Turkey, including its own administration building. Churches and related buildings, by law, are governed by private foundations. Also by Turkish law, the Patriarch must be Turkish born, an increasingly onerous restriction as the number of Orthodox priests in Turkey has declined to a small handful. With Turkey having closed the only Greek Orthodox seminary over 30 years ago, there is a real question as to whether there will be any Orthodox priests in future decades from whom a future Patriarch could be selected.
The most recent dispute between the Patriarchate and the Turkish Government involved an historical orphanage on the Turkish resort island of Buyukada, a property that the Patriarchate bought in 1902. Since the 1930's, the orphanage was registered as a private foundation because Turkey would not recognize the Patriarchate as a legal entity. Eleven years ago, the Turkish General Directorate for Foundations (Vakiflar), which oversees non-Muslim religious groups, seized the property after deciding the orphanage's foundation no longer functioned. Church properties have often been seized by the government under this pretext, as Greek Orthodox die off or emigrate. In 1999, the Vakiflar sought to make the orphanage legally independent of the Patriarchate, which fought the seizure in the Turkish courts, finally resorting to the European Court.
In July, the European Court, sitting in Strasbourg, France, ruled that Turkey had violated the property rights clause of the European Convention on Human Rights by seizing the orphanage without financially reimbursing the Patriarchate. The ruling is significant because Turkish non-recognition of property rights for non-Muslim groups is pervasive. And if the court ruling stands, the orphanage site will be the only property in Turkey legally assigned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom hailed the European Court's decision in defense of the Patriarchate's property, noting that Turkey chronically denies non-Muslims the "right to own and maintain property, to train religious clergy, and to offer religious education above high school."
According to the U.S. Commission, Turkey has "consistently used convoluted regulations and undemocratic laws to confiscate--without opportunity for legal appeal or financial compensation--thousands of religious minority properties, particularly those belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Greek Orthodox community under patriarchal jurisdiction.
Turkey's policies have led to the decline--and in some cases, virtual disappearance--of some of these religious minorities on lands they have inhabited for millennia." The dispute over the Buyukada orphanage, with an estimated real estate value of 80 million Euros, was the first time that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which normally seeks a low profile, has directly sued the Turkish Government. Turkey has 3 months to appeal the European Court's decision, which, unless overturned, compels Turkey to return the property or pay for it.
"This is the first time the Ecumenical Patriarchate is recognized as the subject of rights under international law," one of the lawyers for the Patriarchate told the Athens News. "This is a major guarantee for the church's survival in Turkey." Well, at least the ruling enshrouds the Patriarchate with some legal protection. But there are many other petty harassments of the Patriarchate by Turkish law, which prohibits the Patriarchate from employing the term "ecumenical" for itself. Turkey legally acknowledges the Patriarch as only the chief priest of the tiny Greek Orthodox minority in Turkey, even though the international Orthodox community has recognized the Patriarch as the communion's senior prelate for 16 centuries. And in Turkey, all citizens must list their religion on their identity papers, which helps to perpetuate different treatment for non-Muslims.
The major seminary for the Orthodox in Turkey has been closed by the government for over 30 years. And non-Turkish Orthodox priests who work for the Patriarchate are unable to gain work visas from Turkey so they have to continuously enter the country as tourists. In meetings with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and other Turkish officials who belong to the governing Islamic party, the Patriarch has been told that wider freedoms for his flock depend on greater opportunities for Muslims living in Greece. The Patriarch has pointed out that Orthodox living in Turkey are native-born Turkish citizens, while Muslims in Greece, who do in fact have greater liberties, usually are not Greek citizens.
Secularists in Turkey sometimes defend their government's restrictions on religious activity by arguing that greater freedoms would assist radical Islamists far more than the small Christian minority. But the boxing in of Turkey's tiny Greek Orthodox population, with the evident hope that it and its senior Patriarch will fade away altogether into the mists of ancient history, seems exceptionally petty. The European Court's defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's property rights, at least in one case, may extend to the 2,000 year old Christian community in Turkey at least a few more years of breathing space.
Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Armenia And Turkey: Children Of The Same Earth By Hugh Pope*
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 the Armenian capital of Yerevan 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 their claims that there was genocide in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 that killed 1.5 million Armenians, many of them women and children. Turkey, which succeeded 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. 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 percent of Azerbaijan and drove more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis 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 Gül’s visit to Yerevan, at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, 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 Sarksyan, 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 US 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 percent of its trade passes through unstable Georgia.
With Armenians surprised and somewhat guarded about the Turkish turnabout, there were fewer boos and hisses for Gül in the Yerevan 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, however, said real warmth characterized the relations between the officials, who rediscovered how close Turkish and Armenian cuisine, musical tastes and social culture remain.
In Turkey, meanwhile, almost all major media commentators cheered Gül’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 Gül put it: “We are all the children of the same earth, with memories that are both bitter and sweet.”
*Hugh Pope is co-author of “Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey” and is Turkey project director for the International Crisis Group.
Turkey Without U.S. Intervention? 18 September, 2008
U.S. Armenian political analyst Richard Kirakosyan stresses the importance of the meeting of Abdulah Gull and Serzh Sargsyan, however he considers Turkey’s intermediary mission as impossible. “The Russians and Americans are colleagues in the Minsk Group and both want to keep the status quo and that is why Turkey can’t enter the negotiation process”, said Kirakosyan.
In an interview with “A1+” Richard Kirakosyan said that he does not trust the promises made for the quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict. According to Kirakosyan, Turkey’s active politics in the region is of a separatist character, that is, “Turkey has a plan to enforce his interests and keep them without the help of America.”
As far as the security platform proposed by Turkey is concerned, Kirakosyan said: “It is not a new platform. What’s important is the process. The important thing is that the Turks came to Armenia and not vice-versa and what’s also important is to start the process.” But Kirakosyan does not know what is going to happen next. In any case, he stresses that the establishment of Turkish-Armenian relations will be in the interest of Armenia and Turkey, but it will hurt Azerbaijan.
Humanity Monument in Kars Will Be Perched On 3 October
Humanity Monument, which is built as an alternative to the alleged genocide monument in Yerevan, will be perched on 3 October by Kars City.
Kars City Mayor Naif Alibeyoglu said, “If you keep your humanity, there wouldn’t be any war and poverty. Humanity monument is built against genocide monuments and it shows that Turkish people is slanted towards humanity”. Underlining that monument is built to give the message that Turkish people didn’t made genocide, Alibeyoglu said, “Kars City had very hard years, for 40 years this city suffered. These lands were under invasion. 90,000 soldier of us became martyr in these lands. As you know, once upon a time Kars city’s official territory included a part of Month Ararat. Humanity spreaded World from Noah’s ark which landed on Month Ararat. So we are building this monument to deliver people this message.”
Humanity monument’s building process started 3 years ago, and it’s inauguration ceremony will be between 3 and 5 October, in Caucasian Cultures Festival. City Mayor Alibeyoglu said they expect many deputy and Culture and Tourism Minister’s attendance.
"Avoiding The Word-G" by David Cronin 19 September 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
The EU has discovered a new term to express the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915.
Guardian Unlimited, UK, http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk
This week the European Parliament will seek to introduce into the lexicon of international relations, a new euphemism in place of the word genocide. If they follow the advice of Members of Parliament, diplomats will no longer run the risk of offending countries to dishonorable past by saying the g-word. They can now turn to crimes against humanity the most flagrant as "past events". This is an expression that our brave elected officials use in a report they are about to take on the efforts of Turkey to join the European Union. Although a "frank and open discussion" between Turkey and Armenia on "past events" be desired, the report did nothing open and frank about the nature of these events.
In the absence of explicit indication, I can only assume that these "events" are the massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces in 1915. There are many proofs that show that this was the first genocide of the 20th century and partly, he served as an example for the extermination of the Jews of Europe that Hitler began two decades later. Winston Churchill himself described the massacre of thousands and thousands of Armenians defenseless men, women and children together, all regions in a single holocaust. " Various political structures around the world have passed resolutions recognizing that genocide took place, including the European Parliament itself in 1987 (a fact conveniently omitted for the new report).
The question whether the term "genocide" or "holocaust" can be used to describe the plight of Armenians is not only historical or academic. It is painfully relevant to modern Turkey today.
Last year, Hrant Dink, the editor of Agos, a newspaper bilingual Turkish and Armenian, was assassinated by a nationalist extremist. He had been prosecuted on the basis of Article 301 of Turkish Penal Code, which considers it a criminal offense any statement can be interpreted as a denigration of turquicité. Because he would address the issue of genocide, Dink was not any illusions about the real cause of the charges against him.
In 2005, the writer and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk told a Swiss newspaper that during the past century, "30 000 Kurds and one million Armenians had been murdered" in Turkey and that "the world speaks, So I spoke too. "
To have bravely broken a taboo, Pamuk also found himself the subject of an indictment, abandoned thereafter for formal defect.
Dink and Pamuk are the most famous victims of Article 301, a law was also invoked as a means to muzzle universtaires, activists of human rights but also students and singers. Foreigners have been affected them too. The Turkish translation of the book considerable Robert Fisk The Great War for Civilization - which includes a passage on ripping the unburied skeletons of Armenians desert of Syria - arrives on the shelves without any advertising, because publishers fear the reaction it might provoke.
Last month, the Assembly of Turkish acepta change the law, ostensibly to calm the institution the highest in the EU. The crime of insulting the turquicité was withdrawn. The crime of insulting the Turkish nation has made its entry.
Several analysts have concluded with reason - that this amendment is ambiguous and pure form. The European Commission, meanwhile, deems it "a step forward very well come." The Socialist Group of the European Parliament, to which the elected Labor Party of the United Kingdom, made a similar assessment before the debate this week.
Ironically, compared to an outright repeal of Article 301, MEPs they can be satisfied with a less categorical. A member of the European Greens, the Dutchman Joost Lagendijk, was the subject of an investigation on the basis of this article for accusing the Turkish army to provoke tensions in the south-east high-Kurdish majority in 2005 .
Make no mistake, I support Turkey's accession to the EU, when it has achieved significant improvements on human rights. And I find repugnant how right politicians in France, Germany and Austria have opposed the efforts of Turkey, flattering and the anti-Muslim sentiment for crass electoral reasons.
But human rights such as freedom of expression must be fought wherever and whenever they occur. When changes to laws designed to stifle the challenge are clearly than piecemeal, they should be criticized, not applauded.
And is it too much to ask our elected representatives they call spade a spade and genocide a genocide?
Vortex, Vertigo By Garen Yegparian
Books by Turks, published in Turkey, keep coming out addressing-sometimes tangentially and sometimes directly-the Armenian Genocide.
Hrant Dink is killed. Tens upon tens of thousands of Turks rally in condemnation, with signs and slogans proclaiming, "We are all Hrant Dink. We are All Armenians."
The most recent iteration of a commemorative genocide resolution doesn't pass the U.S. House of Representatives. BUT, this happens while even many of its opponents recognize there's no question as to the veracity of the Turkish-organized slaughter. They just argue, "it's not the right time" for other, unrelated, reasons.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul is among the first to congratulate then-president-elect Serge Sarkisian.
Sarkisian, on a trip to Russia, invites Gul to watch a soccer match between our two countries. Simultaneously, he opens the door to the possibility of creating the "history commission" long proposed by Turkey as a means of delaying its genocide recognition. Sarkisian later backpedals on this matter.
Georgia's bellicose president, Mikheil Saakashvili, initiates a war with Russia and his country gets beaten to a pulp. Tensions are running high between Russia and the "West"-Europe and the U.S.-at somewhat different levels. The region-the Caucasus-is very tense.
Azerbaijan's war-mongering statements, occasional probing forays against Armenia's and Artzakh's forces, and massive oil-money based arms buildup continue.
Two months of hemming and hawing diplomatic gobbledygook (also euphemistically referred to as "evaluating the invitation") later, Gul accepts Sarkisian's invitation. Gul goes to Armenia. Many seemingly good feelings are announced. But the two presidents don't discuss genocide recognition, much less, one would imagine, territorial, historical, cultural, and financial restitution.
Baku doesn't like the public love-fest between Armenia and Turkey.
One of the genocide-organizing-triumvirate's (Jemal) grandsons places a wreath at the Dzidzernagapert Genocide Memorial. Many other Turks, in Yerevan to watch the football match, go to the Genocide Museum, currently exhibiting Armenian contributions to the development of Ottoman sports.
The Turks of Turkey, in a poll, are supportive of this seeming rapprochement, and the elites are giddy with their discovery of "football diplomacy," unsubtly likening it to the U.S.-China ping-pong diplomacy of the 1970's. I'm curious whether there's a geographic bias to this poll. Is it skewed with greater participation from urban vs. rural areas, or vice-versa?
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey are to "finish" the job brought to its midpoint by the presidents. Meetings are forthcoming.
If this isn't a political/diplomatic vortex of accelerating speed-think of the decreasing time intervals between each of the above developments (compare this to hurricanes as they pick up energy), I don't know what is. If you're not feeling some vertigo, you must be superhuman.
Trying to fit all these puzzle pieces together in my brain is not easy. And that assumes that it's even possible to form a coherent picture. I also don't like this queasy feeling of being left out.
More importantly, while no one is opposed to the development and improvement of relations between our two countries, if Armenia starts cutting deals with Turkey while excluding Armenian Diasporan voices and participation, that's unacceptable. If, especially, a genocide recognition deal is made, excluding reparations and lands, then we have a serious problem. Bypassing the Diaspora, and the Armenian public in general (and the Turkish one, too), through secret negotiations is unwise and could land us, the relatively weaker side, in the same boat as the Palestinians after the Oslo agreements were signed with Israel.
Let the sun shine on whatever's going on. Let the public in. Let's do this right. Both sides will be the better off for it.
Turkey Beats Armenia 2-0 in Historic Match Turkish President's Visit under International Spotlight, By Antranig Dereyan
Armenia and Turkey have unresolved issues, but on Sept. 6, they let go of the bitterness and came together for a soccer match-the first ever match between these sides and the first match on the road to qualification in the 2010World Cup, which will be played in South Africa. (By luck of the draw, Armenia and Turkey were drawn into the same group, Group 5, which also contains 2008 European Champions Spain, Belgium, Estonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.)
Even though this was just a soccer game, anything between these two sides, is anything but. It is always about something more.
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian had made an offer that to this day has the Armenian community rattled, both in the Homeland and throughout the diaspora; he invited Turkish President Abdullah Gul to join him in Yerevan to watch the match in his presidential skybox.
This gesture alone was shocking enough to some; even more shocking, however, was that Gul accepted and made instant history by making the first ever visit by a Turkish president to the post-Soviet, independent Armenia.
"I hope that [the visit] will help lift the obstacles that stand in the way of rapprochement between the two peoples and contribute to regional friendship and peace," Gul said to the Associated Press. "President Sarkisian was brave in taking the opportunity of inviting me to this game,"
Gul made his way out of the plane and into his car, but not without Armenians greeting him on the road with signs, in Armenian and English, which according to AP read, "We want justice," "Turk admit your guilt," and "1915 never again."
Putting politics aside and focusing on the actual soccer game though, Turkey, after having their national athem booed by the sellout crowd of mostly Armenians, came out strong, building on their impressive run at the 2008 European Cup, where they went all the way to the semi-finals. They ran fast, hard, and tried to out-power the Armenians, but the Armenians stayed with them, matching their runs and strong play.
However, as the second half kicked off, it was the Turks who controled and didn't look back. The Turks were out to prove that the odd-makers who predicted them to finish second in Group 5 was no fluke.
In the 60th minute, striker Tuncay Sali (of Middlesborough, the English Premier League) scored to put the Turks up 1-0, and in the 78th minute, Semih Senturk (who plays his club soccer for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce) doubled Turkey's tally with a header from a cotner kick that beat Armenia's 34-year-old goalkeeper Roman Berezovski, of Football Club Khimki of Russia.
From there, the Turks went on cruise control, stopping Armenia at every point. Armenia tried to get into the game and score, but Turkey became too formidable a foe as the final minutes ticked away and it claimed victory, 2-0.
Armenia and Armenians should not be ashamed of this result, however. Armenia as a team is young, inexperienced, and inconsistant when it comes to World Cup play. During this match, Armenia's best scorer, Edgar Manucharyan, was injured late in the first half and was never able to get into the game. By the 65th minute, he was subsituted off and Armenia started to look lost without him on the field. It is no big surprise, then, that Turkey scored when Manucharyan was injured and eventually off the field completely.
When Manucharyan left, the team was never able to regain the strength it had shown in the first half.
They never ran through the middle of the field or gained any control around Turkey's goalkeeper Volkan Demirel's six-yard box. (In contrast, most scoring in this game occurs when the ball is played in the opposing goalkeeper's six-yard box.)
Armenia's wingers were never able to get a good cross or corner kicks in and when they did, no strikers were in place to take the cross, to have a scoring chance. Manucharyan ran, got into the path of the crossed ball, and basically carried the Armenian team on his back, and it showed when he was non-existent in the second half.
The game showed that Armenia, as a team, still has a long way to go before they can match up with the likes of a Turkey on the international soccer stage.
Turkish players play in the best leagues around the world and their club teams-Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, and Besiktas-are always in competion if not in the premier European club competions (Champions League and UEFA Cup) year in and out.
Most of Armenia's players play in Armenia, and the best teams there-Football Club Punik and Football Club Yerevan-never make it past the fourth round of any of Europe's club competitions.
Armenia's best scorer, 21-year-old Manucharyan, plays for the Dutch team Ajax Amsterdam, which is a good team in Dutch soccer; when it comes to Europe, however, they do not perform well and as a consequence, Manucharyan never gets to play at the top level in Europe.
The captain of the Armenian team is midfielder Sargis Hovsepyan, 34, who has only played for two teams outside of Armenia, Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia and Torpedo-Metallurg of Russia, which is now called Football Club Moscow. Neither of those teams made it into a European club competition while he was on the team. Hovsepyan has scored only once for his national team since his first game in 1998.
Experience in club football (or soccer) converts into success at the international level. That's not to say that having vast experience at the club level makes champions out of any international team-just ask England-but it helps. Armenia and its players do not have that experience. Turkey and their players do.
So, do not be overly concerened about Armenia's poor showing; a combination of nerves and lack of experience played a big role in this lopsided outcome.
Remember, this is the same Armenian team that tied Portugual and 2004 European champion Greece in back-to-back games last year. They have shown that they can play great at times, but must do so more consistently.
In time, Armenia, with its young players maturing, learning how to play together, and acquiring a better work ethic, should be near the top of the powers of international soccer. Just be patient.
Armenian Weekly, Watertown MA USA Sep 13, 2008
Hayots Ashkhar, September 19, 2008, Where Was Everyone?
Vahan Hovhannisyan says many political forces regret that they didn’t joint Dashnaktsutyun party in their anti-Turkish function. “Many people like to read brave lectures from different tribunes and during different seminars. But when the time came when they should say this to Gyul they went …where they went. And we acted.”
He also mentioned that even Ter-Petrosyan postponed his demonstration. “It is better for the political figures to hold their meetings in those parts of the city were they have certain role. Ter-Petrosyan didn’t build Northern Avenue. He has built the bazaar near “Hrazdan” stadium. So he must hold his meetings there, because there are elements of trade in his demonstrations, which is better to practice in the bazaar,” Vahan Hovhannisyan states.
Turkey Is Benefiting From Armenia's Diplomatic Gesture, Says Hovanessian September 18, 2008
YEREVAN (Yerkir)--Turkey is reaping the benefits of Armenia's diplomatic gesture toward establishing friendly relations with its neighbors, said Armenian Revolutionary Federation Parliamentary Bloc chairman and Bureau member Vahan Hovanessian during a press conference Thursday.
The ARF leader said the invitation from President Serzh Sarkisian was a prudent effort to demonstrate to the international community that Armenia was willing to establish relations with all its neighbors.
However, Hovanessian said, Turkey is utilizing that effort for its own gain by mounting an aggressive campaign to claim the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is not part of Armenia's agenda.
Such efforts by Turkey will slow the international recognition process, said Hovannesian who wondered why Armenia's leadership has been silent on that front. He urged Armenia's government to immediately counteract Turkey's effort by expressing confidence that Armenia has not made any agreements with Turkey on any matter, including the swap of lands for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
"I consider that it is the expression of the frequently noticed passivity of our diplomacy. We have seen a lot of this," he said.
Hovannisian said that the ARF discusses these issues with its coalition partners, but added that it is more advisable that such issues should be discussed by the National Security Council.
"If political forces see that no common approach emerges within the coalition regarding these issues, they may draw their conclusions. But I must say that there is no such issue yet," Hovannisian concluded.
"Not only the ARF, but all political forces and the entire Armenian nation is opposed to Turkey having any role in the Karabakh conflict resolution," added Hovanessian when speaking about recent overtures by Turkey and Azerbaijan for including Turkey in the Minsk Group or allowing Turkey to lead the resolution process.
Hovanessian said Turkey has always had a pro-Azerbaijan policy and the blockade of Armenia was the most glaring example of that policy. With the blockade Turkey has already become a non-objective side to the conflict, therefore its participation in the process is unacceptable.
"Armenia's leadership must to everything possible to ensure that the Minsk Group continues its efforts toward the resolution of the conflict," said Hovanessian.
In addressing Turkey's proposed Caucasus stability pact, Hovanessian said that while efforts to establish peace and stability were admirable, the entity proposing such a pact must have an objective approach to all players in the region. Turkey, he said, has not demonstrated that.
Vahan Hovhannisian: Opening Of Armenian-Turkish Border Also Meets Turkey's Interests ArmInfo, 2008-09-18
ArmInfo. 'Turkey makes use of the results of the visit of the Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Armenia perfectly, while Armenia is overmodest and does not try to make use of the brave step of Serzh Sargsyan who invited his Turkish counterpart', Head of the parliamentary faction of ARF 'Dashnaktsutyun' party Vahan Hovhannisian said at today's press-conference in the National press-club.
Having touched on the issue of establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey and opening of the border, V. Hovhannisian said: 'Having opened the border, Turkey will not oblige Armenia as it is necessary both for us and them'. The MP also emphasized that due to the fact that the Armenian-Turkish border was closed, Armenia could avoid a threat of drug trafficking. 'Everyone knows that the drugs entered the south regions of Armenia from Azerbaijan, while Turkey provides the whole Europe with drugs', Hovhannisian said. 'Having opened the border, Turkey will be able to claim of its tolerance to the European Union.
However, judging by the present situation, I doubt if Armenia will be able to receive political dividends from this', the MP said.
Turkey Without U.S. Intervention? A1+ 18 September, 2008
U.S. Armenian political analyst Richard Kirakosyan stresses the importance of the meeting of Abdulah Gull and Serzh Sargsyan, however he considers Turkey's intermediary mission as impossible. "The Russians and Americans are colleagues in the Minsk Group and both want to keep the status quo and that is why Turkey can't enter the negotiation process", said Kirakosyan.
In an interview with "A1+" Richard Kirakosyan said that he does not trust the promises made for the quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict. According to Kirakosyan, Turkey's active politics in the region is of a separatist character, that is, "Turkey has a plan to enforce his interests and keep them without the help of America."
As far as the security platform proposed by Turkey is concerned, Kirakosyan said: "It is not a new platform. What's important is the process. The important thing is that the Turks came to Armenia and not vice-versa and what's also important is to start the process." But Kirakosyan does not know what is going to happen next. In any case, he stresses that the establishment of Turkish-Armenian relations will be in the interest of Armenia and Turkey, but it will hurt Azerbaijan.
Anca Urges Scrutiny Of 10 Failings In U.S.-Turkey Policy During Ambassadorial Confirmation Hearing
-- Senate Panel Set to Consider Nominee on September 24th
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to closely scrutinize ten serious shortcomings in the Administration's handling of the U.S. - Turkey relationship, during the September 24th confirmation hearing for James Jeffrey to serve as the next U.S. Ambassador to Turkey.
In letters to panel Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) and other key Committee members, ANCA Chairman Ken Hachikian outlined the Administration's failings, and encouraged strict scrutiny of the nominee in order to "ensure accountability for past errors, as well as to apply the lessons learned from these setbacks in charting a more productive and principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations."
Hachikian underscored that, "We are today, near the close of the Bush Administration's eight years in office, at a meaningful milestone in our relationship with Turkey. This hearing provides an important opportunity both to look back over the challenges, the progress, and the setbacks of the past, as well as to look forward to approaches to develop our ties in ways that advance both our interests and our values in this vital region of the world."
Among the main failings listed in the letter was its strident attacks on growing bipartisan movement toward U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, including President Bush's firing of Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, and the "sad public spectacle," in October of 2007, of the Administration caving in to Turkey's threats against Congressional recognition of this crime against humanity.
Both members of the Barack Obama-Joe Biden presidential ticket serve on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and are strong advocates of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, each having spoken out forcefully against the denial of this crime.
The full text of the ANCA letters is provided below.
September 19, 2008
I am writing to share our concerns with you regarding President Bush's nomination of a candidate to serve as our nation's next Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey.
We are today, near the close of the Bush Administration's eight years in office, at a meaningful milestone in our relationship with Turkey. This hearing provides an important opportunity both to look back over the challenges, the progress, and the setbacks of the past, as well as to look forward to approaches to develop our ties in ways that advance both our interests and our values in this vital region of the world.
Among the areas that hold the greatest level of concern for us, as Americans of Armenian heritage, are those that deal specifically with Armenia, as well as those with broader implications for U.S. diplomacy in the greater Middle East and Caspian regions. These include:
1) The Bush Administration's failure, in early 2003, to secure Turkish cooperation in opening a vitally needed northern front against Iraq.
2) The Bush Administration's tacit approval for successive invasions of northern Iraq that have threatened to destabilize the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
3) The Bush Administration's lack of any meaningful response to Turkey's increasingly close ties with Iran and Syria.
4) The Bush Administration's contribution to the downward spiral of Turkish public favorable ratings for the United States, which are at 12% according to the Pew Research Center.
5) The Bush Administration's firing, in 2005, of the well-respected U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, over the Turkish government's objections to his truthful statements about the Armenian Genocide.
6) The Bush Administration's sad public spectacle, in October of 2007, of caving in to Turkey's threats against the U.S. Congress' recognizing a crime against humanity. (This capitulation was compounded by the decision of the President to send two of his Administration's senior officials, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried, to Ankara to personally apologize for America for the House Foreign Affair Committee's approval of this human rights legislation.)
7) The Bush Administration's refusal to apply any meaningful pressure on Turkey to lift its illegal blockade of Armenia.
8) The Bush Administration's failure to take any concrete steps to end Turkey's closure of the Halki theological seminary.
9) The Bush Administration's ill-advised efforts to legitimize the illegal Turkish occupation of Cyprus by, among other actions, facilitating U.S. and international access to illegal ports of entry in the northern parts of this sovereign island nation.
10) The Bush Administration's shameful silence on one of the highest profile human rights cases in recent Turkish history, the prosecution and official Turkish government intimidation of journalist Hrant Dink, until after his assassination in January of 2007 on the streets of Istanbul.
This track record deserves close scrutiny, both to ensure accountability for past errors, as well as to apply the lessons learned from these setbacks in charting a more productive and principled course for U.S.-Turkey relations. We thank you for your consideration of our concerns on each of these points, look forward to your robust questioning of the President's nominee, and, of course, to your sharing with us feedback on the nominee's responses prior to the Committee vote on his confirmation.
Kenneth V. Hachikian
Open Debate: Border Issue At Forefront Of Economic Discussions Following Gul Visit Sara Khojoyan Armenianow Reporter
According to the information service of the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul did not discuss economic issues on September 6, reflecting instead on the settlement of bilateral relations and exchanging thoughts over the recent developments in the region. Nevertheless, the presidents mentioned the meeting was a serious signal to further dialogue.
Aboard his plane back to Ankara, Gul told journalists that regarding opening the border to Armenia "there is no such question" under discussion. But the president added that "If this atmosphere maintains, everything will settle down, will normalize."
For some traders in Armenia, however, business from Turkey is beyond "normal" already.
Goods of Turkish origin are now imported to Armenia via third countries - mainly through Georgia. And while the goods produced in Turkey make only 4 percent of the overall volume of imports to Armenia, their monetary value grows annually. To compare, Armenia imported goods of Turkish origin of about $40 million in 2004, with the figure almost doubled reaching $95 million in 2006 and 3.5 times more in 2007 than in 2004 reaching to more than $130 million.
Goods of European origin are also imported through Turkey. In case of opening the border these goods will pass a shorter and, as the cargo carriers say, 25-30 percent cheaper way.
The need for alternative ways of transportation of goods was once again proved by this summer's war in Georgia, when the conflict caused havoc in Armenia due to the shortage of gas and wheat.
The 2000 World Bank report mentioned Armenia's GDP will have a 30 percent growth, if Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azerbiajani borders open simultaneously, and the two countries lift the economic embargo over Armenia.
Another survey was done in 2005 by the Armenian-European Political-Legal Advice Center operating in Armenia with the results pointing to an opposite picture.
The AEPLAC survey showed the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will impact Armenia much less than many believe and forecast. The report particularly mentioned Armenian economy will have only $20-23 million annual growth that was equal to only 0.67 percent of Armenian GDP of the period, when the survey was done.
AEPLAC report said in case of the opening of the Gyumri-Kars railroad, Armenian goods will once again appear in the Middle Eastern markets. Meanwhile, Armenia is still not ready to respond to the demand of Turkish and Middle Eastern markets for electricity and cement.
Nevertheless, as Armen Movsisyan, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia stated last week Armenia will be providing electricity to Turkey beginning 2009 with the head of the UNIT private energy company included in the delegation accompanying Turkish President.
"An agreement on exporting electricity from Armenia to Turkey via Kars was signed within the framework of the visit. The agreement provides that the Turkish side will restore all the necessary infrastructure on the territory of Turkey within a 4-5 month period," said Movsisyan.
Economist Andranik Tevanyan, director of "Political Economy" Research Institute says opening of the border will have big economic importance in terms of the re-operation of the railroad.
"Iranian territory is not equal to the Georgian territory in terms of using it as a trasit route. The two can't be compared and replace each other. In case of opening the Armenian-Turkish border we will have an alternative transit route equal to the Georgian one," mentions the economist underlining, however, the threat the opening will pose.
"There is threat the local producers won't stand the competition. The monetary-credit and tax-budgetary policies of Armenia do not facilitate to the development of the local manufacturers; no competitive economic relations develop. The market in this situation may be devoured by the foreign producer with very serious consequences."
Armenian businesspeople and cargo carriers are most interested in the opening of the border.
Arsen Ghazaryan, director of Apaven company, the largest cargo carrier of Armenia, and the chairman of the Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen of Armenia, says Armenia will only benefit if the border opens.
"If the border opens, most importantly, it will facilitate to the economic integration of the region. Both Armenian and Azerbaijani markets will advantage. I think its wrong to try to show the benefits by figures today, because speculating with figures is not a serious thing. We will get a neighbor country with its market and we will manage to import and export goods passing just 300-400 kilometers by car."
Ghazaryan, who is also a co-chairperson of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council is confident: "Economics and business environment in Armenia are ready today to resist the healthy competition of the Turkish capital."
"I don't think they can have an economic expansion in case the border opens. It could happen 10 years ago, but not today. On the contrary, we will use Turkey's territory as a alternative route to Europe, which means to the world, and we will also become a transit route of Turkish and European goods to Central Asia, thus restoring Armenia's role of a crossroad it used to play," says Ghazaryan.
Ruben Safrastyan, Turkologist and director of the Insititute of Oriental Studies, National Academy of Sciences believes it is early to speak about the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border.
"I don't think speaking about the opening of Armenian-Turkish border is reasonable. Gul's visit was just a first step also in starting talks on that," says the expert. "Opening the border is a necessity, because there can't be closed borders in the 21st century. For Armenia, alternative routes are a necessity, particularly on the background of problems that appeared after the confrontation in Georgia."
Safrastyan underlines at the same time, Armenia needs to be ready for the possible opening.
"We need to take into account, the opening of the border may be as dangerous as it may be useful, if the economic situation of Armenia and Turkey's constant unfriendly attitude are taken into account. One can't exclude that Turkey may start an economic expansion in Armenia (and will occupy the larger part of economic market). Armenia, therefore, needs to be ready for such developments."
Caucasus Concerns: Region Under Microscope As Various Parties Plan Its Future By Aris Ghazinyan
The current situation in the South Caucasus is so intricate that developments which could seem incredible still at the end of this year could prove possible in perspective. It had been said before that the "strong-arm" repartition of Serbia and the subsequent recognition of Kosovo would become precedent. But in speaking about the similarities in the situation around Kosovo and the Caucasus, especially the political reshape of regional borders, it is often neglected that one of the main linking factors is the aspiration of Turkey to play a major role in both processes.
Ankara legitimately believes that the independence of Moslem Kosovo was its victory. Today, it is trying to make a victory in the Caucasus front. However, this region considerably differs from mainland Europe. It has a completely different "geopolitical kitchen."
One way or another, Turkey has already advanced the initiative on establishing a so-called Stability and Security Platform in the Caucasus with the participation of Ankara as well as Moscow, Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi. Official Ankara did not find a place for Iran in this list. It is clear that Teheran does not and will not put up with such a status.
Kamal Zarekh, a representative on political affairs at the Embassy of Iran in Armenia, said that Iran's non-participation in the Turkish initiative makes it "inferior". In his opinion, the South Caucasus countries come to the conviction that for resolving their problems they should not pin hopes on countries outside the region.
"However, traditional approaches should be considered while new ideas are developed. The idea of Turkey was presented not in a sincere manner. Thus, it is simply impossible to ignore Iran in the matter of ensuring a balance of regional forces," he said.
The diplomat believes that "the best variant would be the 3+3 scheme that will be the worthiest model of settling problems. This model will involve the three republics of the South Caucasus, as well as Russia, Iran and Turkey."
It is on the geographic plane of 3+3 that all the recent events are seen. Such as the meetings of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the president of Russia, the first-ever visit of the Turkish head of state to Yerevan, the visit of Armenia's foreign minister to Georgia, and others.
Teheran itself, for its part, initiated a number of measures. In particular, Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchekhr Mottaki unfolded a very active shuttle diplomacy in the past week. On September 12 he was in Moscow and the next day he was already in Baku. In both cases the agenda of the discussions included bilateral and regional cooperation, including Turkey's initiative on establishing a Stability and Security Platform in the Caucasus.
On September 16, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandyan was in Teheran for meetings with Iranian officials. He was received by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held negotiations with his counterpart Mottaki as well as Speaker with Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani and Secretary of the Supreme Council of National Security Sayid Jalali.
Nalbandyan said that Yerevan welcomes Teheran's initiative aimed at easing tensions, emphasizing that Armenia has always been for establishing peace and stability in the region. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is also expected to travel to Teheran soon. Before that, the president of Armenia had already received an invitation from his Turkish counterpart.
It is demonstrative that immediately after the visit of Nalbandyan to Iran, Secretary of Armenia's National Security Council Artur Baghdasaryan on September 18 gave his first press conference in this capacity in which he said: "Turkey cannot be a mediator in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict." Baghdasaryan also stressed that no such issue has been raised and Turkish President Abdullah Gul only expressed a desire to render assistance in the process of settlement. But assistance and mediation, he said, are different things. He practically repeated the words of the president and the press conference itself appeared to have been held upon the president's instruction.
All this confusion certainly is reflected also on the geo-economic map. In particular, issues connected with the restoration of the rail link between Armenia and Turkey on the Gyumi-Kars section and building a railway linking Armenia and Iran are being discussed now. But one can hardly predict what geopolitical route the regional developments will take.
Nkr In Focus: Ossetia Conflict Continues Reflected Attention On Karabakh Naira Hayrumyan, ArmeniaNow Karabakh reporter
After South Ossetia-related passions calmed attention switched to the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh- the only "smoldering" conflict in the Caucasus.
Tensions between Russia and the West have almost nullified the possibility of further cooperation within the framework of the OSCE Minsk group, where Russia and the USA are co-chairmen on the Karabakh settlement.
It's not accidental that on September 12 the American co-chairman of the Minsk group Mathew Bryza visited Stepanakert alone, without his Russian and French colleagues. He is leading a separate American policy.
At the same time, as Russian Kommersant newspaper reports, the Russian president offered to arrange a meeting for the heads of Armenia and Azerbaijan, but as mediated by Russian President Medvedyev, rather than under the aegis of the OSCE Minsk group.
The European Union isn't falling behind either. Goran Lennmarker, Special Rapporteur of OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Nagorno Karabakh thinks that "the Karabakh conflict is the only obstacle on the way of cooperation between the countries of South Caucasus [Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan], and it is important to make efforts for its settlement."
Meanwhile, Pierre Morel has been appointed the second EU Special Rapporteur on South Caucasus. European analysts say "Pierre Morel's appointment might allow Peter Semneby (the first co-chairman of EU) to better concentrate on the frozen conflict of Nagorno Karabakh."
Now, too, the game has a new player - Turkey - which throughout the 20 years ever since the Karabakh conflict started in 1988, has constantly been trying to get into the format of a mediator, but to no avail. After the South Ossetian events Turkey came up with an initiative to create a Platform of Security and Stability in the Caucasus and now declares that it wants to become a mediator in the Karabakh conflict settlement.
Together with Baku, Ankara stated that the format of the Minsk group has exhausted itself and offered to arrange a tri-lateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. Armenia has accepted the offer. Two round-table discussions on the "Situation in the South Caucasus, NKR's Perspectives on International Recognition" were held at the National Assembly of Nagorno Karabakh.
Answering the question about Turkey's initiative to perform as a mediator in the process of peace settlement of the Karabakh conflict, NKR Foreign Minister George Petrosyan stated that "in a way it [the initiative] contradicts the co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk group on the Karabakh conflict settlement."
At the same time the Minister emphasized that Turkey's initiative in creating a platform of security and stability does not envisage participation of the European Union, the USA and other interested parties. "However, in the current situation, how can full security be possibly guaranteed in the region without the participation of those states with a serious interest in the region?" said Petrosyan.
What solution to the Karabakh conflict do the mediators suggest and what is the divergence of interests of the main world players? Judging from what analysts suppose, the parties have come to share an opinion that the Karabakh conflict can be settled now by recognizing NKR within the limits of the Autonomous Region of Nagorno Karabakh (Azerbaijan's former enclave) and by returning the lands around former ARNK currently controlled by the Karabakh forces. However, as security experts say, Karabakh is of strategic interest only if it preserves its current borders: the former ARNK, even if a corridor with Armenia is provided, cannot serve the strategic interests of the Armenian nation and cannot become a transit point for communications. Global communication projects, offered to be implemented in Karabakh, will have to pass through the liberated lands, and not through the former ARNK.
Turkish Presidents Abdullah Gul's statement after his return to Ankara [after visiting Yerevan] that RA President Serzh Sargsyan "promised to return the occupied lands" proves the possibility of such settlement. Armenia has not disclaimed that statement. Gul said that the issues between Turkey and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Armenia are not only bilateral, but also territorial ones: "The situation in the region has changed considerably, peace in the Caucasus, settlement of conflicts between states will lead not only to political but also economic stability."
It may seem that's what Mathew Bryza proposed to NKR President Bako Sahakyan.
"Yes, the principle of territorial integrity really exists. But if a deal is made between the conflicting parties, everybody has to accept it, as well as include other principles of the international law and diplomacy," said Bryza, adding that such a deal is possible.
President Sahakyan pointed out that official Stepanakert is for peace settlement of the Karabakh conflict only if NKR takes a first-hand participation in the negotiation processes. "The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh will gain recognition. That's just a matter of time. The events of the world show that that day is not far away," he declared.
"No progress in the Karabakh conflict settlement is likely to happen until the forthcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan are over," stated Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in his interview to a Turkish newspaper Radical. He also pointed out that the conflict settlement depends on the parties' political will.
Stepanakert's response to Mathew Bryza, Dmitri Medvedyev and other potential mediators is still a mystery. One thing is obvious: everybody will now try to establish control over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, which has ????? long borderline with Iran - a country of much more interests these days than the tiny NKR.
Sargsyan Welcomes Turkish-Initiated Security Platform For S. Caucasus, By Aris Ghazinyan
Armenia should by all means discuss issues of security and stability in the region - even those initiated by Turkey, President Serzh Sargsyan told media late last week.
The Armenian leader also stressed the point that he welcomes the Turkish initiative advanced in the fallout of the brief Georgian-Russian war in which Ankara proposed a so-called Security Platform for the three South Caucasus republics plus regional powerhouses Russia and Turkey.
"I think it is natural that we should only welcome this initiative. We have no right to avoid any discussion, especially if it is aimed at strengthening our security," Sargsyan said while visiting Armenia's Lori province for an unrelated event on Friday.
Sargsyan made it clear that Turkey did not mean its initiative as an alternative to any other existing structure or format.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul was in Yerevan on September 6 for an unprecedented summit with his Armenian counterpart. Avenues for normalizing relations between the two historical foes dominated the agenda of the two leaders' meeting in the Armenian capital.
Armenia's relations with neighboring Azerbaijan were also reportedly discussed at the Sargsyan-Gul meeting.
Talking to Armenian media, Sargsyan expressed his satisfaction that President Gul shared his impressions about the discussions in Armenia with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
At the same time, he said that during the meeting Gul said that if necessary Turkey was ready to render assistance in the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
"I accepted that proposal gladly, as any normal person would not reject assistance," Sargsyan said, stressing that he differentiates "assistance" and "mediation".
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian received the US cochairman of the OSCE Minsk Group over the weekend. Matthew Bryza was in Yerevan and Stepanakert as part of his regional tour and was scheduled to travel to Baku and Tbilisi next.
In Yerevan the sides reportedly discussed the Karabakh peace process as well as a wide range of issues pertaining to the latest regional developments.
Nalbandian, in particular, positively assessed the Turkish leader's visit to Yerevan, which he said opened prospects for a "serious dialogue."
And Bryza said: "It is good that the relations between Armenia and Turkey are improving, for, I think, such openness betters the climate, which means that Armenia can be more open in talks."
"There is the principle of territorial integrity, but if there is a deal between the parties to the conflict, all must accept such a deal, and also include other principles of international law and diplomacy. Such a deal must be acceptable to all parties," the senior US diplomat said regarding the Karabakh conflict. He did not elaborate on the deal, but said that "I wouldn't be in Nagorno-Karabakh if that was impossible."
"Condoleezza Rice thinks that such a deal is possible and that's why she asked me to come here," news agencies quote Bryza as saying.
© Panarmenian September 20, 2008 Babacan: Turkey Hopes For Dialog With Armenia
Turkey hopes for a dialog with Armenia, Turkish Foreign Minister said. “A new era of Armenian-Turkish relations has come. However, we still have unsettled problems such the 1915 events and Karabakh. We don’t have diplomatic relations either,” Ali Babacan said, NTV-turk reports. “We discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations during a meeting with RA Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and we have an impression that Armenia has a firm intention to resolve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” he said. Earlier, Turkish President Abdullah Gul announced his intention to mediate tensions 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.
Dashnaktsutyun Dissatisfied Of The Foreign Ministry's Passiveness, Gevorg Harutyunyan, Hayots Ashkhar Daily, 19 Sep 2008, Armenia
Member of ARFD bureau, Head of ARFD parliamentary faction Vahan Hovhannisyan met with the journalists in the National Press Club, yesterday.
According to the speaker the recent developments in South Caucasus over again proved that: "It is impossible to solve issues in our region by force. And, in my view, everyone understood this. This lesson was mainly addressed to Azerbaijan and its supporters. It was a lesson for us as well, to understand that we shouldn't pin our hopes upon Georgia only. That we need alternative roads, and the best option is the railway taking to Iran.
Another alternative road can be Turkey. But there is a serious doubt whether or not the border will open. What are the conditions? And do we need this road at cost of such conditions? And even if it opens, it can close one day and it can't be a stable factor for us."
Vahan Hovhannisyan says the co-Chairmen have appeared in such a situation, when all the three of them have already recognized the independence of a separated territory. Two of them - the USA and France have recognized Kosovo's independence and Russia has recognized Abkhazia's and South Osatia's independence. This means there is no taboo on the recognition of the independence of the separated territories. The international community must draw a conclusion from this fact and shouldn't contrast the principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty.
Vahan Hovhannisyan over again confirmed that there are no disagreements regarding the foreign policy inside the coalition: "Dashnaktsutyun is against Turkey's mediation in the settlement of Karabakh conflict. But not only Dashnaktsutyun is against it. I don't know any political force or political figure in Armenia that is inspired of Turkey's policy of supporting Azerbaijan. All the Armenians are against any form of Turkey's mediation in the settlement of the conflict."
According to ARFD representative the President took a rather brave step and tried to prove to the world and the international community that Armenia and Armenian people are ready to take steps in order to establish friendly relations with this neighbor. But we are really concerned about the fact that after this step Turkey's propaganda machine became more active. It is clear that by Gyul's visit they want to stop the process of the recognition of Armenian Genocide. "One thing is not clear for me. Why don't we express our official attitude towards these propaganda tricks?
I know that the Turks haven't come to an agreement with our President about stopping the process of the recognition of Armenian Genocide or about concessions20in Karabakh conflict. In my view it is the manifestation of passiveness that is very often noticed in our foreign policy," Vahan Hovhannisyan noted.
In response to the questions of the journalists the latter refuted the version that the protest marches organized by Dashnaktsutyun during Gyul's visit are part of the pro-governmental policy. "It is a wrong viewpoint. It is based on the conviction that in our country everything is implemented after an "ok". Maybe there are certain Mass Media that express their opinion only after they are "ok-ed". But Dashnaktsutyun usually does what we consider the right thing to do."
There were lots of questions regarding the resignation of the Speaker of Parliament Tigran Torosyan and the developments taking place inside the Republican Party. The Head of Dashnaktsutyun's parliamentary faction reminded that before the implementation of the reforms many people used to complain that the parliament is very weak, that it hasn't got necessary competencies and can't be an adequate counterbalance for the executive.
The constitutional reforms gave this possibility, but for this the National Assembly needs professional skills and a decisive and brave Speaker. So the country's President thinks that we must improve one of those components."