2683) Media Scanner 31 Dec 2008 (153 Items)

© This content Mirrored From  http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com
  1. Defending Clients, And Choices, Mark Shanahan
  2. Apologizing To Armenians, 'Eroding One Of Turkey's Biggest Taboos' Baskin Oran Interview
  3. Swiss’ Conservative Portrayal Of Turkey
  4. 1887-1915 Archives Of Hunchak Newspaper Placed On Michigan Uni Website
  5. Pro-Kurdish Party Leader Apologizes To Armenians For 1915 Incidents
  6. BirthrightArmenia.org Unveils Website Redesign
  7. Interview with C.A.O.'s Tim Ozgener
  8. Eldeniz Guliyev: "Turkey Loses Much More From Strengthening Relations With Armenia"
  9. Interview With Usa Ambassador Hoagland Gazeta.KZ
  10. Turkish-Armenian Film Caught Up In Border Problem
  11. Turkish & Armenian Historians To Discuss Past & Present Relations
  12. ’Others’ In Eye Of Turkish Director
  13. To Know Armenia, Come To Gyumri' - Dzitoghtzian Museum
  14. Fraud Revealed In Turkish Apology Campaign
  15. Armenian Apology Campaign & Ottoman Ergenekon
  16. Google Earth: Armenian Genocide Memorial Renamed Into `Khojaly Genocide Memorial'
  17. Genie Is Out Of Bottle: Turkish Intellectuals To Armenians: We Apologize
  18. Turkish Parliament To Debate On System Of A Down's Eurovision Song
  19. Armenian Genocide: Historical Dispute In Turkish Parliament
  20. Support Of Dtp Ozçelik Armenian Allegations
  21. Turkey: Armenians, Forgive Us! Petition Scandal
  22. "Putschists Led By Hatred Of Kurds" Ahmet Altan
  23. Petition In Turkey, "Why I Signed '
  24. Turkey: Shame On Those Who Ask Forgiveness!
  25. Armenian Genocide: Supporters Of Rosselli, Özgüden & Mönsch Multiply
  26. Turkish Historian Says That Armenian Deportation Was German Political
  27. 2009: Year Of Very Real Opportunities For All Armenians Americans
  28. Activities Of Civilitas Foundation
  29. Italian Archival Material 1st Volume on “Armenian Question”
  30. Robert Fisk: How Can Anyone Believe 'Progress' In Middle East?
  31. All Quiet On EU Front, But Several Foreign Policy Surprises On Eastern Front
  32. Apologizing Is All Around
  33. Will Turkey Officially Apologize For 'Great Catastrophe'?
  34. Sources Of Intolerance & Discrimination In Turkey
  35. Turkey: Civil, Mannered & Sane Politicians Wanted
  36. Should Turkey Apologize To Armenians?
  37. System Security & Information Security Of Armeniancy
  38. Postcards With Pictures Of Armenian Historic-Cultural Centers Of Turkey
  39. When Society Slips Away
  40. Turkey Discussing
  41. Dear Ambassadors Ayhan Aktar Taraf
  42. The ’Armenian Apology’ Issue S IDIZ
  43. Armenian Revolutionary Federation Marks 118th Anniversary
  44. The West "Fences" Armenia From Inside And Outside
  45. Azeri Deputy: "Ambassador Of Turkey To Be Called To Azerbaijan"
  46. Open Letter Rekindles Turkish Debate On Armenian Massacre
  47. If Obama Recognizes 1915, How Will The State Resist?
  48. Turkey, France Team Players, Says French Ambassador
  49. Portraits From Russia, Turkey & America
  50. Apologists
  51. Make Or Break Year For The EU & Turkey H Pope
  52. Armenian Team Returns To Mount Ararat Emblem
  53. Sarksyan Thanks Turkish People For Help During 1988 Quake
  54. Doctrine Of Armenia-Diaspora Cooperation Discussed
  55. Armenia To Open Diplomatic Reps In Brazil, Lithuania, Finland & Japan
  56. Two Mistakes In The Discussion Between Gul & Aritman
  57. Intellectuals: Witnesses Of Their Own Era Mustafa Balbay
  58. Beware Of Provocations, Yigit Bulut
  59. Armenian Apology Campaign Organizers Threatened
  60. Need To Criminalize Hate Speech
  61. Is Christmas Really Un-Islamic?
  62. Americans In Gulag
  63. Is It Difficult To Be Wealthy In Armenia?
  64. Hasan Jelal Guzel: "Those Who Launched Armenian Apology Campaign Betrayed The Motherland"
  65. When You Con Your Own
  66. Obama Must Heed Turk PM’s Advisor
  67. How Turkish Are The Turks?
  68. AKP Contradicts Itself In Armenian Issue
  69. Problem Of Information Security
  70. Moody's Issues Annual Report On Armenia
  71. Worrying Tayyip ErdoganEconomist
  72. Rare Turkish Bird Haven Under Threat
  73. Obama Should Visit Istanbul
  74. Obama Should Consider Turkish Advisor's Mideast Experiences
  75. Armenian Community In Sweden
  76. Congress Ponders Genocide Bill: But Was It Genocide? T Daloglu
  77. "No Real Progress In Turkey's Recognition Of Armenian Genocide Expected In Near Future"
  78. Armenia's "Thank You" After 20 Years For Turkey's Help
  79. European Leaders Slam Turkish Deputy For Gul “Mother” Remarks, Turkish Politicians Exchange Barbs
  80. Monitoring Conducted In Armenia & Turkey Simultaneously
  81. International Community's Attitude To Armenian Genocide Recognition Changed
  82. Bizarre Lawsuit: Batman, Turkey vs. Batman, the Movie Sassounian
  83. What If We Are All Armenian?
  84. Who Will Apologize To Turks?
  85. Why Do I ‘Apologize’ To Our Armenian Brothers & Sisters?
  86. From Apology To Reconciliation
  87. Who Are You Apologizing For?
  88. Ones Who Would Sign Should First Sit At Table
  89. New Strategy Of The Ones Who Apologize
  90. Turks Are Gathering Signatures, While Armenians Are Silent
  91. Armenian Assembly of America: Irreversible Trend Has Commenced In Turkey
  92. Russia Condemns Genocide Of Armenians, Serbs & Other Nations
  93. Turkish Methods To Distort Facts Mislead Readers
  94. 18 U.S. Embassies, 40 U.S. Governors' Offices Mailed Envelopes With White Powder
  95. RA Ministry Of Diaspora To Have Off-Budget Bank Account "Armenian Diaspora"
  96. Armenia Installs Advanced Control System In City On Turkish Border
  97. Plea To My Turkish Friends, Vahan Tekeian
  98. "Why Should I Apologize When I Have Not Committed A Crime?"
  99. Questioning Credibility Of Web-Based Surveys
  100. Patriot Pride: Father Of Seven Says Service Goes Beyond Comfort,
  101. Pamuk Explains ’Living On Edge’
  102. First Account On Apology Campaign
  103. ’My Son, My Name Is Süleyman. And I Am Circumcised’
  104. Compelling Case Of Turkey's Constitution
  105. Number Of Youtube Visitors Doubles After Turkish PM's Remarks
  106. My Right To Apologize
  107. Turkish Republic Rather Than Turkish Intelligentsia Ought To Apologize To Armenians
  108. Hakobian: We Don't Know Our Diaspora Well
  109. Embassies Wiretap Phone Conversations, Expert Claims
  110. Smart ID debuts in ’10
  111. I apologize to Hrant
  112. Ertugrul Ozkok: Apology Campaign For Armenians Is A Joke
  113. Lessons From Annals Of Counterterrorism
  114. Turkey: Turkish Wars Of Genocides
  115. Every Third Person Is Virus Carrier
  116. Turkish Website Ozur Diliyoruz Removes 13.315 Names Signatories Of Petition Apologizing To Armenians
  117. Columnists Join Armenian Apology Debate,
  118. Democracy At Internet Speed, Ablak
  119. An Apology...
  120. Gül Is Out Of Excuses On Erdogan To Armenia
  121. Should We Punish Denial Of Armenian Genocide?
  122. Turkish “Apology To Armenians” Aims To Improve Relations
  123. Armenia Has Yet To Prove Itself In Democracy By Washington
  124. Memorial To William Saroyan Opened In Yerevan
  125. Turkish Threats On Alberto Rosselli
  126. No Political Force In Armenia Questions Genocide
  127. UK Suspended Its Assistance Program To Armenia
  128. Turkish Applied For Armenian Dual Citizenship
  129. Sargsyan: Armenia & Diaspora Form Stronger State
  130. Turkey Makes Soft Landing
  131. Amenian Solidarity with Victims of All Genocides
  132. Obama & Genocide Task Force, Humanitarian Imperialism
  133. Obama Sets Middle East Collision Course Position Could Alienate Potential Intermediary
  134. Turkish Activists In Solidarity With Greek Activists
  135. Crisis Of Values In Greece
  136. Cyber Insecurity
  137. I-Team: Major Organized Crime Bust in Las Vegas
  138. Interview With Prof. James Russell
  139. FAO - 21% Of Armenians Suffer Malnutrition
  140. Akcam Appointed Chair At Clark University's Strassler Center For Holocaust & Genocide Studies
  141. Whisper Bloody Murder?
  142. Turkish Tzugtzwang
  143. 'I Want To See Justice': Armenian Genocide Survivor Brings History Alive For Wilmington Students
  144. Turkey To Open Armenian Language Department At Universities
  145. Digitalization Of Documents & Films In National Archive Armenia
  146. "Information Wars" International Conference Dedicated To 90th Anniversary Of "Armenpress" News Agency In Yerevan
  147. Russia, Argentina & Lebanon Are Biggest Investors In Armenia
  148. Armenian Community Largest In Turkey
  149. Appeals For Genocide Recognition: Intellectuals In Armenia, Turkey Address 1915 Events
  150. Koker: Armenians Were The Pride Of Ottoman Empire
  151. France: Kidnapping Of Turk By Alleged Members Of PKK
  152. Another Turkish Writer On Trial Under Article 301
  153. Obama Gets Guidelines On Genocide
. .

Defending Clients, And Choices, By Mark Shanahan Globe Staff / December 30, 2008
Harvey, How Could You?
That's what every Armenian in Massachusetts is asking. They're demanding to know how famed defense attorney Harvey Silverglate could take the side of the Turks in the legal standoff over the Armenian tragedy.

Silverglate's a stooge, they say, for effectively questioning whether the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians nearly a century ago amounts to genocide or an unfortunate, albeit unfortunately evil, chapter in European history. They wonder if Silverglate, who's Jewish, would be so solicitous of those extremist screwballs who deny that millions of his people perished in concentration camps during World War II.

Even bigshots at the ACLU, which has been known to back a controversial cause or two, are scratching their heads.

But, honestly, how couldn't Harvey take the case? Beginning with a group of stringy-haired Harvard students protesting the Vietnam War in 1969, the guy's got a long track record of repping people the public despises. What do Louise Woodward, Michael Milken, and Bernard Baran all have in common? At one point or another, Silverglate sat at their defense table. (To refresh, Woodward was the accused baby shaker from Britain; Milken the junk bond king; and Baran the former Pittsfield day-care provider and alleged pedophile who spent 22 years in prison before Silverglate helped spring him in 2006.)

"There's one thing that characterizes all of my high-profile cases," Silverglate says confidently. "They're all innocent."

At issue this time is a lawsuit he filed in 2005 that claims state education officials violated the First Amendment by removing material from a human-rights curriculum questioning whether the mass killings in the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1918 constituted genocide. (He filed the lawsuit on behalf of a local high school student, two teachers, and a Turkish-American advocacy organization.)

Silverglate insists the suit, which is still pending, is about free speech, and not the fact or fiction of the genocide.

"It's about the right of people to express differing viewpoints," he says. "The school department had initially included scholarly articles on both sides of the debate, but under political pressure, deleted those articles that argued it wasn't a genocide.

"That's censorship," says Silverglate.

Nonsense, argue Armenians. They contend the Turks' version of events - that the deaths and deportations were the result of a massive armed rebellion by Armenians that also killed many Turks - has been discredited and isn't entitled to equal time in the classroom or anywhere else.

It'd be an understatement to say Armenians are upset with Silverglate. (And too bad for him, Massachusetts has the country's second-largest Armenian population.) One prominent Armenian, Carolyn Mugar - she of the philanthropic Star Market Mugars - lives next door to Silverglate in Cambridge. While they're not at each other's throats like the neighbors in Thomas Berger's darkly comic novel, they're also not as chummy as they once were.

"The genocide is a fact of history at this point," says Anthony Barsamian, a Wellesley attorney and spokesman for the Armenian Assembly of America. "Denial is being put out of business. Free speech is free speech, but there's also right and wrong."

Even in the context of some of Silverglate's previous celebrated cases - he counseled the Queen of Mean Leona Helmsley and had a hand in the Claus von Bulow case - this is considered by his critics to be a new low. Barsamian, like a lot of Armenians, doubts he'd be in such a rush to defend, say, folks who deny the Holocaust ever happened.

Oh, don't be so sure. Consider this: During all the hubbub over desegregation and school busing in the 1970s, a crew of neo-Nazis showed up in Boston wearing whatever it is neo-Nazis wear. They were promptly arrested for disturbing the peace, and detained.

The ACLU asked Harvey if he would give the Hitler-loving louts the benefit of some legal aid. He did, without hesitation, and before long the wannabe brownshirts were back on the street.

"Of all of my cases, fewer words never passed between me and a client," says Silverglate, chuckling at the memory. "They didn't thank me, and I didn't expect they would."

So, would he help Holocaust deniers?

"Absolutely. The First Amendment is useless if you only defend people you agree with," Silverglate says. "My family was from Poland and Russia, and they were all wiped out. I hold no brief for the Nazis. But it's not a crime to deny the Holocaust. It's a position."

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company


Interesting article,

I especially liked the part: "They contend the Turks' version of events - that the deaths and deportations were the result of a massive armed rebellion by Armenians that also killed many Turks - has been discredited..."

Did I read "Discredited" ?

The following links are NOT from the "Turks' version of events" but from Armenians.

Read what the President of the Armenian Delegation, Boghos Nubar had to say in 1919,
"150 000 Armenians Fight On Russian Side & 2 Million Armenians Lived In Russia In 1919"


“Why Armenia Should be Free” written by Garekin Pastirmadjian


Excerpts from K. S. Papazian's Book, "Patriotism Perverted"


Hratch Dasnabedian, "History of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation - Dashnaktsutiun (1890-1924)"


"Armenian Question Before The Peace Conference 1919"


Now if you still believe that 1.5 million Armenians died during these catastrofic times, do some maths
by Robert256 December 30,

Message has been cutoff...

Now if you still believe that 1.5 million Armenians died during these catastrofic times, do some maths with the US Near East Relief report of 1921.

"Near East Relief" 31 Dec 1921 Washington Government Printing Office 1922


Question: Why the Genocide supporters NEVER talk about these documents ?
by Robert256 December 30,

Let's do the Math:


37000 plus pages in our own U.S. archives depicting the 'systematic extermination of Anatolian Armenians' -

The word "Genocide" was created by Rafael Lemkin specifically for both the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.

Germany, turkey's own ally during the genocide, witnessed it first hand, who along with 23 other countries rightfully calls it "The Armenian Genocide".-

In 1914, there were over 2 million Armenians living in their ancestral home lands of over 3000 years. Today there are less then 60,000 left. Where are they? Where are their lands? Money? Lives? -

The Turks have no problems crying 'freedom of speech' and or to peddle genocide denial here in the U.S however the mere mention of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey today gets you in jail or killed. No discussion allowed. Why is that such a threat to talk about it? Who really has something to hide?
by john1518 December 30,

I love the hypocrisy. The same Armenian community who constantly blame the Turkish government for violations on freedom of speech are up in arms when somebody actually wants to defend the freedom of speech. However I am not surprised because it was again the same Armenian community who forced Georgetown University to cancel a speech to students by Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan, the Armenian patriarch of Istanbul, last year. In fact just to make sure they threatened his life (Not to mention the constant threats that the members of the Turkish caucus in Congress keep receiving every day). Wasn't it also the same people who bombed the scholar Stanford Shaw's house?

Let's just hope that Mr. Silverglate makes it to the court in one piece.

by sq114 December 30,

Hypocrisy? No that would be the Turks that threaten their own scholars, who knowing the facts of the Armenian Genocide risk their own lives by signing a web sight apologizing for the Armenian Genocide.

Again, another Turk trivializing the mass murder of 1.5 million Armenian men women and children with anecdotal nonsense about Armenian threats. If you know of any, please go to the FBI.
by john1518 December 30


I guess you don't read so good,

In your post starting with "Let's do the math:", you write that "there were 2 million Armenians living in their ancestral lands..."

In my previous post, I provided a link saying that 2 million Armenians were still alive in 1919, which is AFTER the war.

So let's do the math again: 2 million minus 2 million = 1.5 million death !?!?!

But don't take my word for it, take the time to read the "Near East Relief" 31 Dec 1921 Washington Government Printing Office 1922


Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that is a VALID U.S. document.

But wait a minute, guess who was one of the chairmen of the board of the Near East Relief at that time ?

Well, none other than the good Henry Morgenthau.

Now one question comes to mind: Was Henry Morgenthau lying when he supposedly wrote his book about the Armenian Massacres or was it when the Near East Relief report was issued under his watch ?

Because one clearly contradicts the other.
by Robert256 December 31,


As for Rafael Lemkin, I guess he didn't know that during WWII, General Drastamat Kanayan aka General Dro was the Nazi commander of the 812th Armenian Battalion actively participating in the Holocaust. Today, ONLY in Armenia one can find a Nazi general with the status of being a National Hero !

In your second post, starting with "Hypocrisy?", you write: "Again, another Turk trivializing the mass murder of..."

Quite typical of an Armenian Genocide supporter to think that if someone does NOT support their thesis, well he / she can only be a Turk.

Then you go on writing: "...anecdotal nonsense about Armenian threats. If you know of any, please go to the FBI."

Well, I guess you don't know much about the ASALA killings, Google it up.

I followed your recommendation and went to the FBI, guess what I found:

www.fbi.gov/pressrel/speeches/muelle... Click here to see full comment John1518,

As for Rafael Lemkin, I guess he didn't know that during WWII, General Drastamat Kanayan aka General Dro was the Nazi commander of the 812th Armenian Battalion actively participating in the Holocaust. Today, ONLY in Armenia one can find a Nazi general with the status of being a National Hero !

In your second post, starting with "Hypocrisy?", you write: "Again, another Turk trivializing the mass murder of..."

Quite typical of an Armenian Genocide supporter to think that if someone does NOT support their thesis, well he / she can only be a Turk.

Then you go on writing: "...anecdotal nonsense about Armenian threats. If you know of any, please go to the FBI."

Well, I guess you don't know much about the ASALA killings, Google it up.

I followed your recommendation and went to the FBI, guess what I found:


Scroll down to the paragraph starting with: "I want to turn to organized crime for a moment."

Then go to:
by Robert256 December 31,

Continues Here

Apologizing To The Armenians, 'Eroding One Of Turkey's Biggest Taboos'
More than 25,000 Turks have added their names to an online statement apologizing for Ottoman war crimes committed during World War I. SPIEGEL spoke with campaign initiator Baskin Oran.

Baskin Oran, 63, is a political science professor at the University of Ankara. In mid-December, he launched an online campaign together with almost 1,000 Turkish intellectuals to gather signatures for an apology to the Armenians for war crimes committed by the Ottomans during World War I.

SPIEGEL: Since the beginning of your online campaign, more than 25,000 Turks have signed a statement apologizing for war crimes committed by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. More than a million Armenians lost their lives in the catastrophic events, which began in 1915. Is this the beginning of a critical examination of the past?

Baskin Oran: The Turks who are now apologizing are not responsible for the sins of 1915. There is no collective crime, but there is a collective conscience. With our campaign, we are eroding one of Turkey's biggest taboos. But still, the campaign is coming decades late.

SPIEGEL: Turkish nationalists say that you are damaging the country's image. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan agrees.

Oran: I disagree. I think that our image abroad will actually improve. Beyond that, though, it is the grandchildren of the Armenians who should finally hear an apology -- in a country like Turkey, where there is no "culture of apology."

SPIEGEL: What effect will the campaign have on Turkish-Armenian relations?

Oran: The majority of Armenians welcome our initiative. But there are hardliners who criticize our petition for not specifically using the word "genocide." They are afraid that our apology could foil Armenian demands for reparations. Such people merely see us as lackeys of the Turkish state.

SPIEGEL: What kind of reactions have you received from Turkish citizens.

Oran: Unfortunately, they have mostly been negative. Every day, I personally receive around 200 pieces of hate mail. Many accuse me of having insulted the Turkish people. But one has to bear in mind that every child here learns that Armenians killed Muslims. Our education is to blame for the country's collective amnesia. In eastern Turkey, though, it is true that, in the past, many people did suffer from Armenian revenge attacks.

Interview conducted by Daniel Steinvorth

Swiss’ Conservative Portrayal Of Turkey
STROPPEL/BASEL - Switzerland’s largest German-language television channel, SF1, began a documentary series on Tuesday that links Turkey and Iran on the basis of headscarves on in the two countries.

The series begins in Istanbul, travels to Kayseri and Van then to Iran’s Tebriz and ends in Tehran, showing the role of women in society through eyes of women looking out from a headscarf and veil. In the segment about Turkey, a Tekbir clothing official said the headscarf problem would be solved within the decade.

A Bookstore Dedicated To The City Of Istanbul
Istanbul Kitapçısı offers a wide variety of choices for those who are looking for a place to buy a book about the city, whether it is a simple guidebook, a cookbook dedicated to Istanbul cuisine, or a historical account of the great fires of 1782 that burned down most of the city

Musa Atalay, 30, is a municipality employee. He sits in a meticulously clean office with fake leather and laminate office furniture, but no bookshelves, drinking tea. A step beyond his door, however, is a world full of knowledge, history and beauty.

Atalay is the manager of the Istanbul Kitapçısı, an expansive bookstore dedicated to the city that lends the store its name. Istanbul Kitapçısı, run by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, is located, naturally, on Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu. This bookstore, a tribute to the city, caters for all types of people who are interested in Istanbul with over 7,000 book titles that range from the most basic guide books, to historical piping data, to accounts of famous Istanbul families. There is also non-written material available in the form of Istanbul-themed albums and DVDs that line the shelves of the digital section. There is an obligatory smattering of souvenirs throughout the store, from touristy knick-knacks to tasteful artisan crafts.

A library on Istanbul
"You can think of this as a library on Istanbul," said Atalay, who is in charge of choosing the books that will be sold in the store. "This place was not designed as a profit making store so the prices are very reasonable. Our price policy is not one of profit, we offer quality items at affordable prices," Atalay said.

The idea originated with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then the mayor of Istanbul. It was to be a place were municipality publications and research was to be made available to the public. The idea materialized and Atalay said it was the first and only municipality bookstore dedicated to a city.

’No such city like Istanbul’
Surrounded by books dedicated to Istanbul, he still enjoys the occasional excursion around Istanbul for work. "I sometimes get on a boat to go to Kadıköy. I rarely go by boat because I live and work on the European side of the city. I get to see Istanbul again and I remember why I do what I do because there is no city like Istanbul. It is a true treasure," Atalay said after a recent trip to the Anatolian side for a planned new store. In addition to the three existing branches, Atalay is currently working on opening two more bookstores, one in Kadıköy and the other at the Republic Museum on Istiklal Caddesi that opened earlier this month. Expansion for Istanbul Kitapçısı is not just about new locations, but also about new books and materials on offer. "We are constantly expanding. Two years ago we had 5,000 titles, this year we have 7,000," Atalay said. "I keep a good eye on what is coming out. I follow the market closely," he said and proudly pulled out copies of books that were either out of print or sold at much higher prices at other bookstores. "Istanbul Kitapçısı is even more important now. We have a lot of opportunities with Istanbul being the European Culture Capital for 2010 and we have to make good use of that," he said.

For most Istanbul residents the bookstore has remained a mystery to them for much of the decade it has been open. "I did not go in. You know, it was just the municipality’s place. But then I learned it was an actual bookstore for people who are not just into research. You can also buy postcards," said a passerby who declined to give her name. Atalay said, "Until now, we have been thought of as anything but a bookstore, but now people know this is the place to buy books about Istanbul."

If you are looking for a place to buy a book on the city, whether it is a simple guidebook, a cookbook dedicated to Istanbul cuisine, or a historical account of the great fires of 1782 that burned down most of the city, Istanbul Kitapçısı is a wonderful resource. Do not let the somewhat formal atmosphere put you off from going in and taking a look. The worst that can happen is a couple of liras are spent on a fridge magnet or gift cards that feature Istanbul.

1887-1915 Archives Of Hunchak Newspaper Placed On Website Of Michigan University
LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 29, ARMENIANS TODAY - NOYAN TAPAN. A collection of issues of Hunchak official newspaper of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (SDHP) has been placed on the website of Michigan University. The Armenological Program of the university reported that the newspaper's issues released in 1887-1915 are available at the website. These issues were received from the National Library of Armenia, "New Generation" Cultural Union and thanks to cooperation with SDHP.

The first issue of Hunchak was published in Geneva in 1887.

Pro-Kurdish Party Leader Apologizes To Armenians For 1915 Incidents
Turkey's pro-Kurdish party leader apologized on Tuesday to Assyrian as well Armenians for the 1915 incidents.

"Maybe Kurds have contributed to the loss of this (cultural) richness. We are ashamed when we look at our Armenian or Assyrian brothers," said Ahmet Turk, the leader of pro-Kurdish DTP.

They are always ready to apologize for their mistakes and they struggle to allow people to live in peace, he was quoted as saying by the Dogan News Agency.

A group of Turkish academics, journalists and artists recently launched an Internet campaign to apologize on behalf of all Turks for ignoring what happened in 1915 at the time of the Ottoman Empire.

Armenians claim the Ottomans conducted "genocide" against them. However there are many historical documents showing that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia.

BirthrightArmenia.org Unveils Website Redesign
Interested in comprehensive information on volunteer opportunities in Armenia at the touch of a button, even better organized than before and with ease of navigation? Visitors to www.birthrightarmenia.org are being offered just that. Birthright Armenia is launching its newly redesigned and much improved website just in time for the holiday break, when most young adults interested in trips to Armenia are dedicating research to the many spring, summer and next fall attractive volunteer opportunities available to them. The new site equally provides services to and actively reaches out to its program alumni to keep their post-program interests and level of engagement high. There is something for everyone.

Return visitors will enjoy the new modern features as part of the site's upgrade. First time visitors will benefit from comprehensive information about Birthright Armenia and the sponsored organizations that implement youth-oriented programs in Armenia, including program descriptions, eligibility criteria for a travel fellowship, applications and how it all works. The site serves as a quick and simple one-stop shop for those seeking possibilities for internships and volunteerism in Armenia, twelve months of the year.

For the 350 alums whose trips to Armenia were already Birthright sponsored, there is information on community events, a place to share information with their fellow alums and view job postings if they are interested in returning to Armenia to work. Alums will also be serving as advisors for prospective volunteers, who can search and submit inquiries to alums via the website regarding their job placements, homestay families and more.

Key documents on the site are posted in four languages, noted by international flags, and work is already underway to have the entire site translated into Spanish, French, and Armenian by this spring.

Another attractive feature of the site is the popular Depi Hayk Language Tutorial, which aims to provide basic Eastern Armenian language proficiency through 12 multi-media language courses. It was designed for those interested in getting the basics of the Armenian language under their belt. Getting started on the coursework via this free online program only requires a quick and easy registration.

Sevan Kabakian, Country Director for Birthright Armenia/Depi Hayk, managed the web site upgrade. "It's a classy site for a first-class organization. Just like the program, the site is designed to be inspirational to those who are pondering volunteerism in Armenia. With its volunteer testimonials, description of program elements and colorful bulletin board, we are rolling out a site that will clearly give our visitors an easy time understanding what Birthright Armenia is all about, and what is has to offer our youth."

Birthright Armenia's mission is to strengthen ties between the homeland and diasporan youth by affording them an opportunity to be a part of Armenia's daily life and to contribute to Armenia's development through work, study and volunteer experiences, while developing a renewed sense of Armenian identity.

An Interview with C.A.O.'s Tim Ozgener, December 29, 2008 By David Savona
Tim Ozgener, the president of C.A.O. International Inc., is following in the footsteps of his father, Cano, who founded the Nashville, Tennessee, company in 1968. The 39-year-old Ozgener is a former stand-up comedian with the eye of an artist, which is evident in the visually arresting packaging and nontraditional blends that make C.A.O. one of the world's most innovative cigarmakers. Ozgener recently sat down with senior editor David Savona to speak about the 40th anniversary of C.A.O., and the changes in the company since its January 2007 acquisition by Holland's ST Cigar Group, the maker of Henri Wintermans cigars.

David Savona: Let's start from the beginning, and talk about C.A.O. and its origins. Tim Ozgener: This is our 40th year. My father started the business in 1968 out of the basement of our home, and it was really just a hobby. It was his love of meerschaum pipes. We started shipping out of the garage of our home, and it was something that developed organically into a family affair.

Q: It started as a pipe business, and you and your sister, Aylin, would help your dad? A: Yeah. He is an Armenian who was born in Istanbul. He was trained as an engineer, and he didn't like the engineering of the pipes [that he smoked]. He improved the engineering, and he went to a retailer in North Carolina, and the guy said, "Where did you get that pipe?" And my dad said, "Well, I made it." The guy wanted to order some, and my dad said, "Listen, son, when you are Armenian, you never say no to an order. How many do you want?" [Laughs.] This retailer had some pull, and soon people started calling our house phone, and people wanted to order my dad's pipes. They wanted to make sure the pipe had the same improved stem, and he started putting his initials on the pipes, which are C.A.O. [for Cano A. Ozgener.] That's how the company started. He didn't have any employees, so when my sister and I were home, we would occasionally hear my dad say, "Are you done with your homework? Come downstairs." Downstairs, it would be a sea of pipes, and he would say, "This row of pipes?$45. Go." And he would hand us the pricing gun.

Q: So it was a very modest beginning. A: Oh yeah. Looking back on it now, there are some fantastic stories. He had a retailer that he would do barter deals with?pipes for green coffee beans, and he would cook the coffee beans in a pan. And I would wake up in the morning and I thought there was a brush fire in our house because there was a haze of smoke. I would say, "This smells horrible, Dad!" He said, "You do not know what the hell you are talking about. This is quality! I am roasting coffee?look how oily the beans are!" He was a mechanical engineer. He used to analyze microfibers, so he was into the specifics of everything.

Q: How did C.A.O. evolve from a company making pipes to a company that's best known for its cigars? A: When you're going to the trade show, it's basically pipes, cigars and humidors. And it's a small circle of people. My father got to know everybody, and he saw a trend of cigars having a resurgence, thanks in large part to Cigar Aficionado, and celebrities smoking again. So he said people need humidors. He was in London, found some beautiful antique boxes, bought 30 of them, shipped
them here and lined them with Spanish cedar.

They were all vintage pieces from the 1700s and they would sell out each time we went to the trade show. They would retail around $2,000, $3,000. So based on that demand, my father decided to make humidors that were more reasonable. And we were pretty proud of the fact that we were the first company to make humidors out of solid cherry, mahogany and walnut here in the United States. We found two woodworkers who were perfectionists like we were, I would help my dad put them in the back of his hatchback, and we shipped them from our home. Humidors quickly became a big part of our business?I remember at one point it was 60 percent of our business.

Q: It quickly overtook pipes? A: Meerschaum pipes were really a niche. It's not like briar pipes. Right around 1993, '94, there was an opportunity to get into cigars. That's when cigars were red-hot. Everybody wanted them, and demand superseded quality and supply. Most everybody told [my father] not to get into the cigar business, but there was one man who told him yes, the late Peter Stokkebye, who was buddies with my dad.

Q: The pipe guy. A: Yes, he and my dad had a very close personal relationship, Peter said, "Cano, go for it. Don't listen to anybody else. They don't want you in there anyway, you're just another competitor." So he went for it, and right around 1994, '95, my father hooked up with Carlos Toraño, who introduced him to Nestor Plasencia. And they made the first C.A.O. blend, which was C.A.O. Black.

Q: The C.A.O. Black came out during a crazy time for cigars. Was it a successful launch? A: There was a very specific blend and look that it was supposed to have. I remember going down to Honduras and seeing people I didn't know lined up outside of Nestor's door hoping to get him to make a blend. The factory was just crazy. One box would come in and [the cigars] would be chestnut brown?the shade that we had agreed upon. But another box would come in and it would be green. Another would be yellow. I was living in Los Angeles, and California was everybody's No. 1 market. I was visiting all the stores, and I'll be honest with you?it was easy to sell out there?retailers were buying anything.

Q: The inconsistencies didn't hurt? A: Initially, it didn't hurt it. People just needed a cigar to sell. But once things started slowing down, which took a couple of years, then people said, "Tim, I like you, but it's really hard to sell this product. Customers want something that's consistent."

Q: So when cigar sales started to normalize, you heard that there were some problems with these things. A: Humidors were still a bigger part of our business. Cigars were ancillary at that time, but nonetheless, we wanted to be successful with them. When you visit all these stores, I like to connect with people, and when I said, "Help me out, what will it take to be successful?" they said, "Try this, try that." You smoke a lot of cigars and you start developing a palate for what the consumer is asking for. That was an education for me. In 1998, we met with Douglas Pueringer at Tabacalera Tambor in Costa Rica. He wanted to diversify his business, he had some great wrappers in maduro, and that's when we came out with our L'Anniversaire Maduro. People smoked it and said, "This is a great cigar."

Q: That was a big deal for you?I remember when that cigar came out. What was the result at the trade show? A: The reaction was immediate, and we got very good ratings in Cigar Aficionado and Cigar Insider. That's what got us in the game. I also had made a friendship with Nick Perdomo, and later we decided to do L'Anniversaire Cameroon. That got even more accolades, and that just exploded. People are always looking for what's new, what's different. Look at the wine industry?look at how many new wines come out. Every year, we try to come up with [something new]. That's been our m.o. since 1998.

Q: There are definitely two schools of thought in the industry on this. Some say keep it the same, don't change, and then there are people who always want something new. You obviously believe in the latter. A: If you're not moving forward, you're moving backwards. If you're releasing new stuff every year, if you have some stuff that's not performing, what do you do?

Q: You have to whittle some things out. Have you ever dropped a full brand? A: Knock on wood, not that much. We've only phased out one full brand, C.A.O. eXtreme, and that's because there were inconsistencies in the product, and we couldn't tolerate it. That's just a decision we made on it. We did that in a very quiet manner.

Q: You've had some very bold product launches, and nontraditional ones. When you came out with C.A.O. Brazilia, C.A.O. Italia, Italian tobacco has been used in the industry, but you were the first to brag about it. What were your thoughts about those launches? A: Most everybody was going down the same path, playing it safe. Wooden boxes. If you stain them, it's chestnut brown or red. We had this blend that everybody put their heads together and came up with, which had a Brazilian wrapper. At the time the famous Brazilian wrapper was Mata Fina. This was Arapiraca. I had noticed that in the humidor, everything blended together. I said, why not roll the dice to have a box that pops. People told me, "You're crazy." Fortunately, it worked out for us. Another reason we went with that packaging, whenever I went down to Nicaragua and Honduras, there would be all these cigars ready to go, but the boxes weren't ready, for they had to be kiln dried. Then I would see boxes?even famous Cuban boxes?they're wood, and they're putting paper over them. What a waste. They're chopping down trees, and they're going to cover the inside and outside lid with paper. Why not get boxes that are very stiff and don't use wood?

Q: What's the Brazilia box made of? A: It was made from a very rigid, stiff cardboard, and now it's an MDF [medium density fiberboard]. Now we don't have to wait for the boxes, and we're not contributing to this wild deforestation. I don't want people to think when they're buying C.A.O., they're paying for the box. We can get boxes that are beautiful and the price is the same. For example, our Sopranos box. Beautiful box. That's basically sawdust that's been compressed. You're not paying for the box. We look at the cigar at the end of the day?but we want it presented in an elegant manner.

Q: Was C.A.O. Italia a bigger risk than Brazilia? Italian tobacco is obscure. I know people use it, but people don't talk about using it. Was that a more risky move? A: We're interested in improving the quality in whatever medium, but we're also interested in breaking down myths. We try to be fearless in that arena. Going back to L'Anniversaire Maduro, there was a strip of Italian ligero used in that blend, which we didn't publicly market.

Q: You never told me. [Laughs.] A: [Laughs.] It was kind of our secret?like a little dash of cayenne. When we didn't have it in there, it wasn't the same. And it was amazing, it was just a strip. So I remember my dad talking about how the Italian ligero is key. And I noticed that people in different factories have it?kind of an underdog kind of thing. Traditionally a lot of that Italian tobacco was ground up for cheap cigars. I spoke to leaf suppliers, and they said what Fidel [Olivas] and the guys were doing in the factory was magic. Taking compressed tobacco with a crusted look, moistening it?they're finding diamonds in the rough.

Q: So it took a lot of work? A: Yeah. It took a lot of work. And that's the talent of our organization at the factory level, and I have to give credit to Fidel Olivas and his sons. We used Italian tobacco in there and the marketing of it was a bit of a risk. We blended around it by adding some nice earthiness of Peruvian and some Jalapa [Nicaraguan] to give it some sweetness. That was a big learning curve for me on how much detail was spent on the preparation of the tobacco.

Q: What's your No. 1-selling cigar? A: Right now C.A.O. Gold is our No. 1 seller. It flip-flops between Brazilia and C.A.O. Gold.

Q: How many cigars do you make a year? A: Well, since we're not a public company, we don't get in the numbers that much. Our focus with the cigars is not quantity, but quality.

Q: But where do you fit in the cigar universe? You're not a small company anymore, you're not a giant, you're somewhere in the middle. Where do you think you fit in? A: Well, define production that would be big?

Q: Twenty million cigars a year. A: Then I would say your description is accurate: middle trending toward more. We've had double-digit growth every year since '98. The only year we didn't was the year we introduced Mx2, and that cigar was much more difficult than we anticipated in making. It has maduro as a binder, and maduro as a wrapper. It held more moisture and took a longer time to dry. Once the cigars were made, we found it had to spend three times at least as long in the drying room. The Mx2 had to sit there for 90 days, sometimes more. We had this supply issue with Mx2 for a good two and a half years, maybe even three years. But now we've figured it out?now the drying rooms are more ramped up for the Mx2.

Q: What's your goal when you make a cigar? A: We try to innovate in our blends, and also in our packaging, and we try to create a wide palate for people, no matter what they like to smoke. And we like to use Nicaragua as a base.

Q: Is Nicaraguan tobacco in all your cigars? A: Almost all our cigars.

Q: Can you rank your brands, from mildest to strongest? A: C.A.O. Gold would be the mildest we have, followed by C.A.O. Cameroon, followed by Cx2, followed by Criollo, which is more medium bodied, then I would say Sopranos, then I would say L'Anniversaire Maduro, which is more like a medium full, as well as Vision, Italia, America, same thing, Mx2, and then Brazilia.

Q: Brazilia is your fullest blend? A: Yes. Now, we want to push the envelope and get even fuller, and that's where Lx2 comes in.

Q: Let's talk about that?it's your newest creation, it has a lot of ligero. What inspired the cigar? A: After I left our trade show last year, I was looking at all of our products, what people were responding to. There's a niche of cigar lovers that gravitates toward cigars that are stronger. That was sort of a response to trying to create a cigar that delivered a real full-bodied experience, for that niche of smokers. But we don't want to do a cigar just for the strength of it?we want it to be complex and have rich flavor.

Q: How do you create new blends? How does it work? A: It's a very creative process. We had some Pueblo Nuevo [Nicaragua] ligero. If it's something I want to explore, and find out the true nature of that tobacco, then I'll smoke only that. I did a lot of improv comedy when I was in L.A., so it's an improvisational process, which is what makes it fun. I'm down there, these guys at the factory are busy, and they're not sure what I'm going to do. But I think they like that. I try to take them out of the comfort realm that they're used to being in. Most of our blends come from us trying to do a creative convergence of things. That's what drives it. We also like doing things in threes, which I picked up from my father?we did three country blends, Brazilia, Italia and America. We had Mx2, Cx2, now we have Lx2, which is a nice completion of the three. Actually, I wanted ligero wrapper, filler and binder. The factory said it won't burn. I said try it again?they said we can't give you a cigar that won't burn! [Laughs.]

Q: So the wrapper from Pueblo Nuevo? What's special about that farm? A: It has to do with flavor. When we were down there, smoking and trying these different cigar blends, I had all these cigars made that were 3 1/2 by 46 ring gauge. They were each made of one type of leaf from each region of the country. We use 41 different types of tobaccos from 21 different countries in all of our blends?that's some total. We looked at the materials that we thought were quality ones, and when it came down to Pueblo Nuevo ligero and Pueblo Nuevo viso, we found those to be outstanding?great flavor, great strength but great sweetness. It's like eating barbecue?great barbecue isn't just smoky. It has smoke but it also has sweetness. With cigars, if it's strong but doesn't have that sweetness, it's not satisfying. I tell all of our leaf suppliers?anything that's interesting, bring it and let's try it.

Q: Is that a standing order? A: Not order it, but get in a bale, let's try it out. I'm not saying all of our blends are to be a kaleidoscope of different countries?Lx2 is almost pure Nicaragua. But we're very open-minded, and that's part of our success.

Q: I was going to ask you that?what are the other secrets of C.A.O.'s success? A: Whatever you do, you want to improve the smoking pleasure. We did it with pipes, with better engineering. Humidors, same thing. We're doing the same thing with cigars. That means quality of the product?do we have to add more people to draw-test our cigars? How can we improve the manufacturing process? We're about to invest money to test the humidity level in each cigar. We've added Humidipaks. It also has to do with the quality of our customer service. And because I have a background in acting, the best actors listen and respond?so we try to listen and respond. Quality of the packaging. We want to be an exciting, innovative company. C.A.O. is a brand that is exciting, contemporary, innovative, yet still has its roots in what it means to make cigars. C.A.O. is a company that delivers quality, but is also fresh and innovative without losing touch with its roots. It all starts with the cigar.

Q: How have things changed since the acquisition by Henri Wintermans, and what does that mean for the future of the company? What's different now? A: As far as here, nothing has changed. They've been very hands-off with us. I'm excited about it?they're excited by the brand. They see us as this vibrant, creative company and they want to be a part of that same mojo. Wintermans is very much into inventory of tobacco, and they feel that inventory of tobacco will help deliver a consistent product. I see the future as very exciting. Wintermans, which is a division of ST Cigar Group, Scandinavian Tabak, just sold their cigarette division and now want to have more focus on the cigar industry. Hopefully, they will be investing more in the American market. For our consumers that means the quality will remain as excellent as it is now.

Q: Can you describe the relationship between C.A.O. and the Toraños? A: It started in the very beginning with my dad and Carlos Sr. We've known the Toraños for a very long time. Once the Toraños invested in a factory with the Olivas [family], based on our relationship we started getting more production from those factories. Then we saw that Charlie was stretched a bit thin. We said, "Why don't you turn your eye toward more day-to-day quality control?" When it comes to blending C.A.O., I do that, but we wanted Charlie to be focused on day-to-day quality control. Plus, once we selected a blend, he spearheads the relationship between the leaf growers and the leaf buyers and the factory. Making a cigar is not an easy thing. It's not just about making the cigars, but people trying them, getting them out there, distribution?those are big jobs in and of themselves. At C.A.O. I have to stress that we like to stress teamwork at C.A.O. We believe that the best team wins, so we try to give everybody something to focus on that's almost like a field of specialty.

Q: When did that deal take place? A: The beginning of 2008. As far as with the factory and how it's set up, there's a factory in Nicaragua and Honduras. Most of what they're producing in both factories, a large percentage is C.A.O. In Honduras, it's more tangible. One building is just C.A.O. and one is Toraño. In Nicaragua, it's one huge galleria.

Q: So they make the cigars and you sell them? Or is that too simple? A: We're very much involved in the whole process of blending. All of the blends that we come up with, we have a hand in. We're very detail oriented. The blends are taking us a longer and longer amount of time to do. It's like a concert, everybody getting together and working to deliver this blend. It's a teamwork process. We're very much into the team concept?we're inspired by that. I'm not motivated by money. I'm motivated by delivering something that brings pleasure to people. I used to do stand-up comedy because I like to hear laughter. I like making people happy. These are products that deliver moments of pleasure. That's the ultimate goal for me.

Q: Forty years ago your father started this business. Your father is retired now?you have two young sons. Do you ever look down the road and hope one day they'll follow you? A: I look upon it the same way my dad did?whatever their heart desires, whatever they want to do, I'm going to let them go down that road. I'm going to love them for whatever they want to pursue. To me, this is not work. This is fun, this is a pleasure. And that should be the same for them, whatever they desire to do. You spend most of your day doing your vocation. It should be something that you feel passionate about, and that you love. v


Eldeniz Guliyev: "Turkey Loses Much More From Strengthening Relations With Armenia" Today.Az ,Dec 29 2008

"The strengthening of relations between Turkey and Armenia is of negative nature", said chairman of the Azerbaijan Intellectuals Movement Eldeniz Guliyev.

He said strengthening of relations between the countries should be considered from various positions.

"First of all, Turkey must not forget the historical facts and the evil Armenia brought to it. Second, it must bear in mind that 20% of Azerbaijani lands are occupied.

Naturally, each country pursues its goal while strengthening the relations. In particular, the opening of borders is profitable for Armenia, while Turkey tends to join EU. However, both countries should not forget that the things they achieve will be insignificant against what they lose. Turkey loses much more by strengthening relations with Armenia", noted he.

Guliyev also added that the campaign held by representatives of Turkish intellectuals by apologizing to Armenians for 1915 events in the Osman Empire and the reverse campaign were planned incompetently and incorrectly.

Interview With Usa Ambassador Mr. R. Hoagland Gazeta.KZ Dec 29 2008 Kazakhstan

Dear readers, we offer answers of H.E. Ambassador of the USA to Kazakhstan Richard Hoagland for the questions received from the readers of the Kazakhstani internet source Gazeta.kz.

Question#1 Author: Kuanysh

How will Kazakhstan and USA cooperate on education programs for our specialists in the United States, especially for construction engineers?

The United States sponsors a number of excellent educational exchange programs, ranging from the Fulbright Scholarship for advanced academics to the FLEX program for high school students. For more information on these educational opportunities, please visit our web site at http://kazakhstan.usembassy.gov or contact us directly at info@usembassy.kz.

Question#2 Author: Anvar

Mr. Ambassador, could you please tell us about yourself: when and where you were born, what educational background you have, what your family is like, what kind of music you prefer, whether you used to be a hippie, whether you smoked weed, what kind of sport you are fond of. What are your religious and political views: are you a democrat or a republican? For example, I know that you smoke which is quite unusual for an American! What other typical or non-typical traits of character do you have?

Thank you very much for your personal interest. I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I studied at the University of Virginia and the University of Grenoble, France. Before joining the Foreign Service, I taught English as a foreign language in Zaire (which is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and African literature at the University of Virginia's Carter-Woodson Institute of African and Afro-American Studies.

Before coming to Kazakhstan, I served previously as U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan 2003-2006, as Charge d'affaires to Turkmenistan July 2007-July 2008, and in the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan 1993-1995. And so, I know this region pretty well.

Was I ever a hippie and did I ever do the standard "hippie things"? Let's just say, like almost all university students, I fully enjoyed life.

Music? My favorite music is chamber music from all historical periods, from before Johann Sebastian Bach to after Sergei Prokofiev. I also very much like traditional American folk music from the Appalachian Mountains, especially those recordings our Library of Congress made in the 1930s.

One other detail few people know - I am a passionate gardener. Finally, I love good food and very much enjoy shopping at "Green Bazaars" and cooking for myself and my friends.

Question# 3 Author: Alibek

Could you please explain terms for obtaining the Green Card? How is it issued? What are eligibility requirements? How can application be submitted?

A Permanent Resident Card, or a "green card," is given to someone who legally immigrates to the United States. This can be done in a number of ways, including being sponsored by a relative, being petitioned for by an employer, or winning the Diversity Visa lottery. For more U.S. visa information, please visit our web site at http://kazakhstan.usembassy.gov.

Question#4 Author: Nair Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

What is U.S. viewpoint on routes of oil and gas transportation to world markets from the Caspian region?

The United States' view of this issue is simple. We believe the more routes that oil and gas can take to get to world markets, the better. This includes routes through Russia, routes to China, and routes across the Caspian.

Question#5 Author: Nair Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

Could you please explain what happened to the Caspian Guard program which was widely discussed several years ago? The program meant to provide help to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in establishing combat efficient military naval forces.

There are many programs under which the United States, Kazakhstan, and other countries cooperate to build mutual security. The name Caspian Guard has not been used for many years. We continue, however, to cooperate with Kazakhstan and other countries of the Caspian Basin to ensure free access and commerce in accordance with international practice.

Question# 6 Author: Zhanar

Why have cases of racial hostility in the United States increased with the election of an African-American, Barack Obama, as President of the United States?

There has not been any rise of racial hostility in America, as far as I know. In fact, while no nation is perfect, the election of Senator Obama shows how far the United States has come in race relations. Both Democrats and Republicans, black people and white people, as well as people of all other races, have praised Senator Obama's election as an historic turning point in race relations in the United States. Regardless of one's political party, seeing an African American take the oath of office as President of the United States on January 20th will make the great majority of Americans very proud of their country.

Question#7 Author: Anar

Your predecessor, Mr. John Ordway, predicted problems in interethnic relations for the next 20 years in Kazakhstan. Do you also support this point of view?

Ethnic tensions can rise in any country in the world, including the United States. However, I know that President Nazarbayev takes ethnic and religious tolerance very seriously, and I believe that Kazakhstan has every opportunity to become one of the more ethnically harmonious nations in the world.

Question #8 Author: Zhanar

Is it true that elected US presidents undergo a sanctification ceremony in one of the main synagogues?

According to the First Amendment to our Constitution, there can be no establishment of a religion in the United States, and so, obviously, there is no religious rite or ceremony that new presidents are required to perform.

Question #10 Author: Andrey

You are a representative of a country upon whose action or inaction depend the destinies of the world. I hope that you will handle the responsibility placed on you with dignity during these hard times for your country and the world. God bless you.

Thank you so much for your kind wishes. It is the greatest honor of my life to have been chosen by my government as U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. I hope to see our relationship strengthen in the areas of political and economic progress, security cooperation, and energy resource development during my tenure. And I sincerely hope I will represent my country with dignity.

Question#11 Author: Andrey

Is it possible to arrange non-visa entry for Kazakhstani citizens to the United States, like the one for Russians citizens to Israel, for example? Or as we have now for entry to Russia? I think it would serve only to strengthen trust and respect between the two countries.

The United States has legal requirements that countries must meet before they qualify for what we describe as "visa waiver status." As can be seen from the recent accession to visa waiver status of some Central European countries, these requirements are constantly being reviewed for different countries. In theory, this could become possible for Kazakhstan sometime in the future.

Question #12 Author: Zhanbolat Mamyshev, Astana

Will budget and non-budget expenses on various U.S.-sponsored programs be decreased due to the crisis and the beginning of a recession in many major world economies?

Like all Americans, I am waiting to see what the new Administration will decide to do with the budget. However, I think the financial crisis will probably have more impact on domestic policy budget choices, while foreign policy will largely remain the same.

Question# 13 Author: Oleg

Mr. Ambassador! I have a question: Is it true that comedian Michael Zadornov is denied entry into the US due to his mocking of the American life style and literacy of ordinary Americans? (I hope I expressed myself correctly) How do you evaluate system of higher education and Unified National Test/Exam in Kazakhstan from the point of view of education system in former USSR?

While I am not personally familiar with the details of this particular case, I can tell you firmly that the United States does not deny visas based on an applicant's personal views or on his exercise of freedom of speech - unless, of course, he advocates terrorism or other forms of violence.

To answer your second question, the Soviet Union bequeathed an excellent education system to its successor nations, and so far I am very impressed with the educational level of Kazakhstanis.

Question# 14 Author: Asset

What kinds of investments were made to Kazakhstan by USA in 2008? What industries will the US investments cover in 2009?

The United States is a free-market nation and, as such, its government does not invest in industries in other countries. However, American businesses are the number-one investors in Kazakhstan, in industries as varied as building railroad locomotives to helping Kazakhstan profit from its vast mineral and hydrocarbon resources. While the global financial crisis might delay some new investments, I have no doubt that in the long term, American businesses will continue to invest in Kazakhstan - not only in the energy sector, but across the whole economy.

Question # 15 Author: Gukas, Erevan

Mr. Ambassador, after recent events when you were not appointed as a US Ambassador to Armenia due to denial of Armenian genocide in the beginning of 20th century have you changed your opinion concerning the given issue?

Thank you very much for this question, because it allows me to set the record straight. I never, ever "denied the Armenian genocide." That view was falsely attributed to me by some political extremists who wanted to make a political statement. What I did, as any diplomat loyal to his own government must do, was support my government's policy. Our view is not "to legislate history." Rather, let both Yerevan and Ankara fully open their historical archives, seriously study together the documented history of the period, and mutually reach a common position based on the objective historical record.

Question#16 Author: Marat

Why does U.S. not acknowledge the exile government of the Chechen Republic in London?

The United States supports the territorial sovereignty of Russia in the same way that it supports the territorial sovereignty of Georgia.

Question #17 Author: Russian

Mr. Ambassador, what is the United States' acknowledgment of Kosovo and non-acknowledgment of South Ossetia and Abkhazia associated with? Is a policy of double standards still effective?

I disagree with the premise of your question. The two situations are completely different. Unlike the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia collapsed over a period of time in war and ethnic violence. Today, Kosovo is the seventh country to emerge out of the former Yugoslavia. If you recall, in 1999 the international community had to intervene in Kosovo because of the extreme ethnic violence and ethnic cleansing that took place there.

The international community has spent a lot of time and a lot of effort working on this problem. The United Nations has been integrally involved, and Martti Ahtisaari, former UN diplomat, former president of Finland, and winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, came to the conclusion that the only possible way forward for Kosovo was to have internationally-recognized independence. The United States recognized Kosovo because we thought that it was the right thing to do, and because, as with other cases in the former Yugoslavia, we sought an outcome that protects the rights of people to live in peace, security, and stability. It seems to us that this is the best possible outcome, with full protection for the rights of minorities, including the Serbian minority that will continue to live in Kosovo.

On the other hand, Russia's recognition of the supposed independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia contradicts the longstanding support of the international community (including Russia) for Georgia's territorial integrity, and risks destabilizing the broader region. No country in the world so far, with the single exception of Nicaragua, has joined Russia in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Some might even go so far as to ask if Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be independent, should not Chechnya and Dagestan be independent, too? I want to emphasize this is not my view, nor the view of my government, but I know that some ask this question.

Question #18 Author: Symbat

Will U.S. policy towards Near East countries change and in general, will the policy of the omnipresent justice and democracy axe in world politics change with the new U.S. president taking over the office?

U.S. foreign policy has remained through many years generally consistent under both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, though each administration has its own priorities. Under President Obama, the tone and nuances of U.S. foreign policy might change - for example, I expect U.S. foreign policy to become increasingly pragmatic - but long-term U.S. national interests are consistent.

In our relationship with Kazakhstan, I believe we need to be grounded in reality. We need mutually and thoroughly to understand the historical, cultural, and political realities in both our countries -and we need to respect them. Where they are congruent, we will easily prosper together. Where they are not fully congruent - and friends can disagree and still remain friends - we will work to understand each other's reality with respect. Where we will find points of agreement, we will pursue common goals. Where we will sometimes disagree, we will do so with respect and without recrimination.

Question #19 Author: Bek

We would like to cooperate more with the United States, since it is a warrant of world safety. It's commonly known that in many ways we are squeezed between two large countries, one of them being a superpower country and the other an ideological claw. All of the above creates certain difficulties and internal uneasiness. Is it possible to envision the United States as a warrant of our national independence and safety in the region?

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during her October 5 visit to Astana, we do not believe that there is some kind of competition for the affections of Kazakhstan among its neighbors. I believe the government of Kazakhstan is successfully building strong relationships with nations from every region of the world.

The United States strongly believes that no country is entitled to some kind of special "sphere of influence" in Central Asia that aims to exclude other countries. That would be a violation of Kazakhstan's sovereignty and its fundamental right to choose its own partners. The United States will continue to promote openness in the region.

Question #20 Author: Mikhail

Mr. Ambassador, how do you assess civil society development in Kazakhstan and what kind of support might the United States provide for its further growth? Thank you.

A vibrant civil society is the cornerstone of democracy. Kazakhstan's civil society is developing, with NGOs becoming more and more expert on how to articulate and promote the interests of the citizens of Kazakhstan, which range from human rights and media freedom to prison reform, pensioner support, and environmental protection.

The U.S. Embassy provides support to civil society through the work of USAID, small grants to help NGOs implement worthy projects, and exchange programs, such as the International Visitor Leadership Program and Community Connections, that allow Kazakhstanis to share ideas and experiences with their colleagues in the United States. We also bring experts from the United States to work with civil society leaders in Kazakhstan. The United States is committed to working with our Kazakhstani partners to build a solid civil society in Kazakhstan.

Question #21 Author: Damir 010

Will the United States invest money into Kazakhstan's economy?

The Government of Kazakhstan has already laid out an aggressive program for dealing with the economic crisis that many believe will be effective. The United States will continue to cooperate with Kazakhstan on issues of mutual interest, including programs in the areas of security, healthcare, civil society, and many others. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works closely with its Kazakhstani partners to fund projects important to Kazakhstan's further development. Our trade representative in Almaty continually works to attract new U.S. investment to Kazakhstan.

Question #22 Author: Viktor

Mr. Ambassador, I have a pragmatic question. Nowadays, the automobile industry of the United States is undergoing huge problems which are difficult to solve even with the government support. At the same time, it's known that the importation of used vehicles from the United States to Kazakhstan has been developed. Do you think it would be reasonable to import used and new vehicles to Kazakhstan at a lower price in order to revive sales in the United States?

While it's difficult for me to comment on any specific business, the United States strongly supports increased trade with Kazakhstan. We commend the government of Kazakhstan's desire to expand its non-energy sector economy.

In its goal to become one of the 50 most competitive countries in the world, Kazakhstan should consider reducing the bureaucratic barriers that make international trade more difficult than it has to be. The United States is always prepared to work with Kazakhstan to improve its business and investment climate.

Questions #23 & #9

Question #23 Author: Murat

Recently the EU announced the program "Eastern Partnership." Unfortunately, Kazakhstan was not on the list of partner countries. Mr. Ambassador, is the convergence of the RK and the EU possible and to what extent, in your opinion? Is it possible for Kazakhstan to become an associated member of the EU? Do you envisage membership of the RK in NATO? Thank you.

Question# 9 Author: Tima

We would like to join NATO. Is it possible?

As the American Ambassador, I cannot comment on the European Union's policy and plans. NATO has always said the door is always open for new members. However, in reality, while Kazakhstan cooperates fruitfully with NATO through its Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), the government of Kazakhstan has never expressed an interest in joining NATO as a full member. Under President Nazarbayev's multi-vector foreign policy, Kazakhstan has developed excellent relationships with Russia, China, the United States, and the European Union and those relationships have served Kazakhstan very well.

by Cansu Camlibel Turkish-Armenian Film Caught Up In Border Problem
ANKARA - While Turkey and Armenia take steps toward normalization, a documentary by a group of Turkish and Armenian filmmakers gets caught up dealing with border regulations of both countries. However, the filmmakers do not give up and shoot their film, holding on to the name ’Aras documentary,’ now the name of a young Turkish character instead of the river

The "Aras documentary" project, an attempt to symbolize the shared values of Turkey and Armenia through a film featuring their shared river, have been caught up in regulations prohibiting activities along the shared border marked by the Aras River.

The location of the historical Ani Ruins, planned as an important setting for the documentary, was also added to a list of highly sensitive areas that had to be removed from the filmmakers’ original plans. Despite hurdles deriving from well-known political pretexts that have kept the two nations apart for over decades, the filmmakers stuck to the title "Aras documentary," which now is reflected in the name of a young Turkish fictional character in the film’s renewed scenario.

After September’s football diplomacy between Ankara and Yerevan that marked start of a new era, filmmakers from the two nations have come together to produce a documentary conveying their hope for a continued thaw in relations. The documentary project, sponsored by the U.S. embassy in Ankara, the Turkish Armenian Business Development Council, or TABDC, and the Armenian Marketing Association, was going to show the transition from winter to summer in the Aras River region and the melting of frozen waters, symbolizing the ice-breaking efforts between the two nations.

However, during the second round of preparations in Yerevan last week, filmmakers were told that shooting in the Aras region was impossible as it lay in the border security zone and entry was prohibited by both Turkish and Armenian laws.

"The idea was to use the Aras River as a unifying symbol to remind people of shared values and similar lifestyles on both sides of the river. But unfortunately we are faced with the reality that the Aras River is a very real and thick border that separates people, leaving no space for communication or interaction," Nergis Öztürk, board member of TABDC, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. Therefore our film team had to revise the scenario, she said, and noted other challenges they have encountered during their stay in Yerevan.

Ani ruins another red line
Amid big interest from the Armenians, the documentary team held a press conference that Öztürk said was a test to see how difficult their task was going to be. The Ani Ruins, the majority of which are located in the eastern province of Kars, regarded as the ancient capital by Armenians, was going to be another important location in the documentary. When the film team was posed questions as to where the Ani Ruins would be depicted as being located, the documentary team decided to avoid shooting in historically controversial areas.

What is left in the scenario as symbolic geography is the Akhdamar Island about three kilometers from the shore in Lake Van, famous for an ancient Armenian Church recently restored by Turkey last April as part of efforts for reconciliation. Akhdamar Island will not only be the location of the final scene of the documentary, but also inspire the name of the female character "Tamara."

According to the famous Armenian tale, a princess named Tamar lived on the island and was in love with a commoner. This boy would swim from the mainland to the island each night, guided by a light she lit for him. Her father learned of the boy's visits and one night as she waited for her lover to arrive he smashed her light leaving the boy in the middle of the lake without a guide to indicate which direction to swim. They say his dying cries of "Akh, Tamar" (Oh, Tamar) can still be heard at night.

In the documentary, Tamara is a young Armenian architect working on a dam project to be built on the River Aras. While searching for information on the Internet she finds a consultancy firm based in Turkey that offers expertise on similar projects. As Tamara phones the number available on the Internet, a young man named Aras answers the call. This is how the film starts, combining a modern love affair with a historical confrontation between the two disconnected nations. While Tamara and Aras learn about each other, both also start discovering the other country, which has been a mystery to them and a no entry zone. Finally Aras invites Tamara to Turkey for a trip that will end at Akhdamar Island. The documentary aspect of the film is contained in interviews and abstracts from historical and current developments.

Yellow bride
The famous folksong "Yellow Bride," claimed by both Turks and Armenians, is being considered for inclusion in the soundtrack to the film. "Yellow Bride" was also played at the dinner hosted by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian during President Abdullah Gül's landmark trip to Yerevan on Sept. 6.

Both the filmmakers and the sponsors refrained from making political statements, taking a firm line on 1915 events and other controversial topics that have poisoned relations between Turkey and Armenia. The team said getting involved in the recent debate triggered by the apology campaign would overshadow their ultimate aim.

"We never get into political discussions. Politicians already do this. We are the people. We want to do something different, something that has never been done before," Nergis Öztürk said. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

Turkish And Armenian Historians To Discuss Past And Present Relations Of Two Nations December 29th, 2008
Football diplomacy gives impetus to second track diplomacy as a group of Turkish and Armenian historians and social scientists gathered at a workshop in Armenia’s capital city Yerevan to discuss past and present relations of the two nations.

The rapprochement that started with the Turkish president’s visit to Yerevan last month to watch a Turkey-Armenia football match has also intensified the efforts of non-political actors in the two countries.

As officials in both countries continue seeking greater formal reconciliation, a group of Turkish and Armenians historians and social scientists gathered around a table in the Armenian capital Yerevan last month to hold an academic discussion about ways to reach mutual understanding. The academics were brought together by the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association, or DVV International, the main aim of which is to establish peace and stability in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkish and Armenian social scientists and historians brainstormed on the two peoples’ past and present relations during a weekend workshop titled “History and Building Bridges for Dialogue and Understanding.”

During the meeting, the parties exchanged views on the richness of oral and documentary history that is either not utilized or used selectively to substantiate partisan viewpoints. After scientists became acquainted with each other individually, they analyzed the Turkish-Armenian relations from an academic perspective based on past and present experiences.

The countries’ education systems were scrutinized, with the official history taught in schools and its effects on future generations specifically criticized. Participants from Armenia and from Turkey included professor Doğu Ergil, professor Leyla Neyzi of Sabancı University, historian Fikret Adanır and professor Ayhan Aktar, and spoke to the Turkish Daily News about their unique academic workshop in Yerevan. The academics had the chance to discuss, free of prejudice, various issues during the meeting. Ergil, Neyzi, Adanır articulated a shared view, saying they and the Armenian participants were looking for academic means to understand one another and that the chance to meet was an opportunity they cherished.

A second meeting will soon be held as part of the project. Historians from both countries will focus on existing historical documents, and social scientists will collect oral history. Based on primary and secondary sources, the academics will then shed light on the experiences of the two peoples over the last century. Figures and documents collected during the project will be gathered in a book that will be written in Turkish, Armenian, German and English and in an easily understandable form and tone. The targeted audience for the book is ordinary citizens in Turkey and Armenia. The book will be sold where it is easily accessible for both peoples.

Bilateral relations through academic lens

Ergil, who noted they approached history as a coherent unit during the workshop, said they did not focus on a specific period or event.

“We are two peoples who have lived together for centuries,” he said, adding that during the workshop they searched for answers to the following questions: Why was a centuries-long joint journey of two peoples stopped? Can that journey restart? If it restarts, what kind of responsibilities should academics undertake?

A map of emotions and values shared by Turks and Armenians

Ergil said history is full of bitter episodes between Turks and Armenians, but in the end, the two peoples should meet on common ground.

“During the studies we will carry out, we shall not take phenomena we have already had in mind as Turkish and Armenian historians but phenomena that have been experienced by people of both sides. Our main goal is to bring to light a map of emotions and values shared by Turks and Armenians,” he said.

An official from DVV International said any meetings between Turks and Armenians often becomes marked by the painful events that occurred in 1915.

“We Armenians still carry traces of that big pain inside us,” the official said. “The attitude of Turkish academics with whom we collaborated was highly objective. We had the opportunity to discuss many issues from a perspective that was free from prejudices.” He also highlighted the significance of cooperation of Turkish and Armenian social scientists. He said such meetings and joint projects would contribute to solving problems and establishing dialogue between the two peoples.

Academics’ dream

Neyzi, an anthropologist, said studies they planned to undertake would not be based on official history accounts but focus on ordinary individuals. “We, as Turkish and Armenian academics, share a dream,” she said. “Our dream is for friendship, reconciliation and dialogue.”

The biggest mission of such projects is to look at the issues from different perspectives and to prepare ground that will allow for a tolerance-oriented coverage of history to flourish, she said. Adanır, on the other hand, said he was happy to meet Armenian colleagues. “Our project is currently in its preparatory stage. But I am hopeful about the results.”

by Vercihan Ziflioğlu ’Others’ In The Eye Of Turkish Director
ISTANBUL - In his new documentary, award winning Turkish documentary maker Taha Feyizli traces the lives of people who are regarded as ’others.’ During the two-year impromptu filming, he became closely involved in their lives

Although the concepts of human rights and equality have been hailed throughout the last 50 years, most of the significant problems in the world still relate to religion, language, race and gender discrimination.

Black is "the other" to white; women are the other to men; and Muslims are the other to Christians.

Turkish director Taha Feyizli, who has made a name for himself internationally and domestically in recent years, explores the concept of being the other in his new documentary. During two years of impromptu filming, he became closely involved in the lives of street children, garbage men, fugitive refugees and gypsies to observe their struggles as the other.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Feyizli said, "As a human, I cannot deny what I have learned during filming. Thanks to this documentary, I have witnessed the pain and struggle of the other. Violations of rights and inequality cause deep wounds in the lives of people and they cannot be easily healed."

The documentary was shot in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, the central Anatolian cities of Konya and Kayseri, and also in Spain. During shooting, Feyizli and his team benefited from reports prepared by the Turkish Prime Ministry Human Rights Directorate about customs and honor killings.

The documentary will be screened for Turkish audiences in six-parts on Turkish national TV TRT1 in January and later will be shown at international festivals.

Being the other is a world problem
Feyizli said he did not only deal with the concept of the other in Turkey. "By showing the victims of the country we live in, we tried to reveal discrimination and rights violations all over the world."

Feyizli said discrimination and human rights violations were not only the problems of Turkey. "Every second, people are turned into the other and unfortunately exposed to discrimination somewhere in the world. This creates irreparable wounds for life."

Half of the world’s population is unhappy
Feyizli said despite human rights being protected by law, they were not protected in real life, and added that because of this, nearly half of the world’s population suffered discrimination and human rights violations. "If you exclude people because of their faith, identity, gender, income, education level or for another reason, it will turn these people into others." He said empathy was necessary to solve these problems.

"The only thing we need is empathy and the most important thing we can do is treat people the way we want to be treated," he said.
© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

To Know Armenia, Come To Gyumri' - Dzitoghtzian House Museum, 29 Dec 2008 By Ruth Bedevian
`If you want to know Armenia, you must come to Gyumri,' Anahid Garabedian, a youthful docent, declared as my friend and I began our tour of the Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life of Gyumri (located at 47 Haghtanaki Street, next door to the Merkurov House Museum which shares the same address). In proficient English which she learned in grade school in Gyumri and continued to improve at the Pedagogical Institute named after Mikayel Nalbanian in Gyumri, she explained that Gyumri is an ancient city claiming roots that go back to the pre-Christian era. Anahid continued, `However, it was in the 1800s that Gyumri experienced a large influx of population of Armenians from Kars, Erzurum and other areas in the Ottoman Empire. Gyumri came under Russian rule following the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) about a quarter century earlier than the rest of Eastern Armenia.' She continued, `A rich merchant, Bedros Dzitoghtzian (the oldest), and his three brothers were among the settlers from the west. He built this large and beautiful house in 1872 which today houses the treasures of Gyumri. The museum is also known as Dzitoghtzian House Museum of Architecture and Life of Gyumri.'

In 1837 Tsar Nicholas I visited the city and it was at that time that he renamed it Alexandropol for his wife Alexandra (who upon converting to Orthodox Christianity had changed her name from Princess Charlotte of Prussia). Until 1846 Gyumri belonged to the Georgian state of the Trans-Caucasus region and as such was the third most developed city center after Baku and Tibilisi (Tiflis). Originally the name of the city was Gumairy but the name evolved into Gyumri through difficulty in pronunciation. In 1924 the city was renamed Leninagan for the Bolshevik leader, Vladimir Lenin, and following the demise of the USSR in 1991, the name reverted back to Gyumri.

Gyumri was the site of some of Armenia's `firsts.' An impressive list of displays and dates, all prior to the emergence of Yerevan's development as a capital city, is evident throughout the museum. In 1858 the construction of Holy Savior Church (Sourp Prkitch) began, designed to resemble the Cathedral of Ani. It was completed by 1886. In 1873 Zarouhi Gouloumyan was the first woman to risk performing on stage. In 1876 the first printing press was established by Kevork Sanoyantz who was a writer. The first brewery in Armenia opened in 1890 when Bedros sent his son, Mkrtich, to Munich, Germany to learn how to brew beer! The first railroad to Alexandropol was completed in 1899, connecting Tibilisi (Tiflis) to the city and then was extended to Yerevan, Jolfa and Tabriz by 1906, thus making Alexandropol an important railway center. In 1907 the first rug manufacturing shop was established, mainly using red colors. Anahid advised us, `If a male figure was found in the border of a carpet, it was a sign that the carpet was an original unique Gyumri design. In 1912 the Hekimian Brothers opened the first mechanical school and made agricultural equipment. 1912 also witnessed the first opera (Anoosh) to be performed in Armenia. Astghik Norikyan played Anoush and Shara Talyan played Saro. The composer/conductor was Armen Dickranyan.

Anahid introduced us to the first display room where we viewed jewelry and the tools that craftsmen used, informing us that Gyumri was a major city for crafts and manufacturing. It was the hub of jewelry manufacturing. A huge diorama of Gyumri in 1910 showed a very organized layout of the city with seven Armenian churches (one of them Armenian Catholic) one Russian Chapel which still exists and one Greek church. In 1926 there was an earthquake in which the Greek church, the Armenian Catholic Church and the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic church were destroyed.

Several other rooms displayed the role of the blacksmith, tile and rug designs, and furniture designs. We viewed extremely large saws that were imported from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. Among other tools were levels, plumb lines, chisels and planes which were used to manufacture and decorate furniture.

We viewed a moushourba (its name means `running water'), a special cup made only by Gyumri craftsmen. Moushourbas were very popular at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Still in use today, they can be purchased from the Berlin Art Hotel near the museum. Space between the bottom of the cup and its base creates such a design that keeps water cool during the summer sans refrigeration.

A rich collection of Armenian musical instruments delights the visitor: A parkapzouk - akin to the Scottish Bag pipe, a drum, the kamancha and the sar - also a shvi and a bloul, both single reed wind instruments that are commonly used by shepherds - two cousins to the duduk. (Typically, most duduk players learn to play the shvi first.) Sheram (Grigor Talyan), a celebrated composer and performer of music and verse (gusan) appeared in the photo collection of famed native artists as did Jivani. Most touching to view, however, was a photo of a group of blind children with Komitas Vartabed who conducted a concert with them in Gyumri in 1913.

Anahid led us through to a final room, a typical example of the European décor of a rich merchant's home, noting the red painted floors, white ceilings and decorative wallpaper. Chess and Bingo games, a 130-year old piano from Austria and a gramophone dominated the comfortable living room. She shared an anecdote to emphasize the affluence of 19th century Gyumri society, saying, `There were no poor people.' She went on to explain, `This is a true story. A man wore his cap all the time and only removed it when he entered a church or the theater. He owned two phaetons, one to transport himself and one for his cap!'

Typical Gyumri costumes for men and women were nicely displayed. There were two types of tailoring - European and National - and Singer sewing machines were heavily in use. Shoe manufacturing also took place. Buffalo, sheep and bull skins were used to make shoes and boots. (Buffalo came from Russia.) Chintz was used to line the footwear.

Three other items of extraordinary interest were convincing evidence of Gyumri's sophistication. An interesting sample of a wedding invitation stated: `Your gift is our presence, no gifts please.' An innovative three-footed seat cane was inscribed `Sit comfortably where you wish!' Another delightful sample of craftsmanship was a tonnish (baby bouncer) made of wood and dubbed such because the shape of the hole resembles the opening to the tonir (ground oven).

Near the end of our visit, a group of French tourists arrived. Another guide from the museum was taking the foreigner visitors through the displays, speaking fluent French! I departed the Dzitoghtzian House Museum filled with appreciation for a superb tour, admiration for the accomplishments of 19th century Gyumri society and a deeper knowledge of Armenia. Truly, as Anahid accurately educated us, `If you want to know Armenia, you must come to Gyumri!
© Copyright 2008 Armenian News Network

AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan, Dec 24 2008, Fraud Revealed In Turkish Apology Campaign
An apparent fraud has been revealed in an online signature campaign launched by a group of Turkish citizens to apologize to Armenians for the alleged World War I-era killings of their countrymen. It has now been revealed that most of the Turks included in the list of people voting for the "apology" have either died or are non-existent. Additionally, some of the persons listed were not aware that they had been included in the campaign.

The initiative, launched on the www.ozurdiliyoruz.com website on December 15 by up to 200 Turkish scholars, journalists, men of art and NGO representatives, seeks to extend an apology for the alleged mass killings in the Ottoman Empire that Armenians term as genocide, a claim strenuously denied by Ankara. Supporters of the campaign vote by including their names, city of residence and email addresses on the web-page. An opportunity has also been created for non-users of the Internet to submit their votes by mail. The campaign is expected to last a year.

The website claimed that among those apologizing to the Armenians was Turkey`s ambassador to France Ismayil Erezi, who was slain by Armenian terrorists in Paris in 1975.

The web site further says that over 13,000 people have already joined the campaign, but it is unknown which of the published names are forged. After the persons whose names had been included in the list without their knowledge appealed to the prosecutor`s office, the website`s sections saying "Katilanlar" (Those joining) and "Katilmak ichin tiklayin" (Click to join) were removed.

It is of note that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials have condemned the campaign.

"I do not understand the organizers of this campaign and believe they are wrong," the Turkish premier said. "One has to commit a crime to ask for an apology afterwards.

Treating matters with good will is one thing, while apologizing in the absence of any crime is completely another."The Turkish Armed Forces Headquarters has labeled the online "apology" campaign as a move that will be harmful to the country, with Armed Forces official, Metin Gurak, calling the move erroneous.

Turkish Ambassador in Baku, Hulusi Kilic, has also come out against the initiative, saying Turkey is not apologizing to Armenians, but, on the contrary, is expecting an apology from them.

"The Turkish nation does not owe an apology to any other nation," Kilic told reporters.

Some 60 former ambassadors denounced the "apology" initiative as running opposite of the country`s national interests. In a statement, they said the re-settlement of Armenians carried out in 1915 in the conditions of war had caused bitter consequences. However, the Turks` losses due to Armenian terror and riots, were no less heavy.

To counter the initiative, Turkish intellectuals have lately launched a campaign called "We are not apologizing." The signature collection campaign is being carried out on the www.ozurdilemiyoruz.com website.

Meanwhile, the Turkish embassy in Baku has expressed concern over the baseless reports in local as well as Azerbaijani media claiming that President Abdullah Gul`s maternal side is ethnic Armenian. A source from the embassy told AssA-Irada that Gul has made a formal statement regarding his family`s roots, saying his generation comes from traditional Muslim Turks.

After all officials in Ankara except President Gul condemned this "act of propaganda", a representative of Turkey`s opposition Nationalist Movement Party claimed that Gul`s relatives on his maternal side are ethnic Armenian Turkish citizens who originally come from the Kayseri region. The embassy said Armenia was sticking to its unequivocal stance on the purported genocide and its relations with the neighboring country. It noted that the head of state has repeatedly offered to Yerevan to open up historical archives to study the Ottoman Turkey developments, in order to prove the falsehood of the genocide claims.Armenia and Turkey maintain no diplomatic ties and the border between the two countries has been closed since 1993 on Ankara`s insistence in response to Armenia`s policy of occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the Armenian "genocide" claims. However, relations between the two countries have begun to improve of late. Following secret talks between Turkish and Armenian diplomats in Bern in July, the two countries` leaders attended a 2010 World Cup qualifying soccer match together in Yerevan early in September when Abdullah Gul became the first Turkish president to visit Armenia. Further, Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian visited Turkey on November 24 where both countries discussed ways of normalizing relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Documented evidence

A document has been discovered that exposes the fraudulent nature of Armenia`s genocide allegations. According to the Turkish media, the document says that the then Armenian patriarch and a group of Armenians from his entourage launched a signature-raising campaign to put forward territorial claims against Turkey. "The Turks tormented us in 1917 and endangered our lives and property", the document said.

In response to this statement, the Anatolian Armenians and Greeks circulated a statement of their own.

"We, the Anatolian Armenians and Greeks, have lived in peace and stability with the Turks for years, and this will continue," the historical document says. "There is no pressure against us whatsoever. This is a ploy by those interested in muddying the waters. We are very pleased with our lives."

Google Earth: Armenian Genocide Memorial Renamed Into `Khojaly Genocide Memorial' 27.12.2008
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan was renamed into `Khojaly genocide memorial' in Google Earth.

A user posted 26 photos on Panoramio. In one of them, Lake Sevan was named `Lake Goycha in West Azerbaijan,' while Armenian churches in Artsakh are presented as former mosques.

Earlier, the Armenian Genocide Memorial was renamed into Talaat Pasha monument. After a wave of protests the image was removed.

The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle : Turkish Intellectuals To Armenians: We Apologize By Khatchig Mouradian, ZNet, December, 27 2008
On December 15, around 200 intellectuals in Turkey launched an Internet petition1 apologizing for the Armenian Genocide. Soon thereafter, hell broke loose.

Although there is a wide consensus among genocide and Holocaust scholars that the Armenian Genocide took place, the Turkish state continues to vehemently deny that a state-sponsored campaign took the lives of approximately 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. The Armenians, the official Turkish argument goes, were victims of ethnic strife, or war and starvation, just like many Muslims living in the Ottoman Empire. Turkey invests millions of dollars in the United States to lobby against resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide and to produce denialist literature. Moreover, many Turkish intellectual who have spoken against the denial have been charged for "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.

The fact that the text of the apology2 didn't employ the term "genocide" but opted for "Great Catastrophe" did not stave off condemnation. A barrage of criticism and attacks followed almost immediately. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish army, many members of the parliament, and practically the entire Turkish establishment instigated and encouraged a public outcry against the apology. Threats and insults flew from left and right, and counter-petitions were launched from Turks demanding the Armenians to apologize.

Yet despite the wave of condemnation, thousands of ordinary Turks from all walks of life added their names to the petition. After breaking the taboo against talking about the Armenian Genocide, Turkish scholars, writers and journalists had made apologizing for the Armenian Genocide an issue of public discourse. The petition did not simply recognize the suffering of the Armenians; rather, it went beyond and offered an apology, which was crucial for the initiators of the campaign. "I think two words moved the people: Ozur Dileriz (`We apologize')," said the drafter of the petition, Prof. Baskin Oran when I asked him about the wording of the petition. "These are the very two words that kept thousands of Turks from signing it. But they were imperative. I don't feel responsible for the butchery done by the Ittihadists [the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the organizers of the Genocide] but we had to say these words. There is something called a `collective conscience,'" he added.

Some criticized the text because it avoided using the term "genocide." The former head of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association, lawyer Eren Keskin, said, "I do not accept compromise when it comes to the use of the term genocide. Even though the word genocide was not used in the petition, I signed it, because I believe any change in a country or in a system can take place if there is an `internal' demand. I believe that the Republic of Turkey is a continuation of the Ittihadist tradition - the tradition of the perpetrators of the Genocide. The majority of the founding members of the Turkish Republic, including the leaders, were members of the CUP." An apology is an obligation, Keskin told me. "Just as the Republic of Turkey took over the financial obligations of the Ottomans under the Lausanne Treaty, it should take over the obligation to apologize for the Genocide. I believe it is first and foremost the obligation of the Republic of Turkey to apologize. The individuals who internalize the official ideology, who do not question it, who ignore the fact that a genocide has been committed and who give their approval by remaining silent also owe an apology to Armenians," she said. "I signed the statement because I think this is an initiative that will normalize, in the eyes of the Turkish public, the concept of and the obligation to apologize to Armenians."

Amberin Zaman, Turkey's correspondent for The Economist and a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf, said that regardless of the criticism about the wording, the petition initiative was a turning point. "When we look back at this campaign several years from now, I think there can be no doubt that it will be viewed as a turning point - not just for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, but more importantly in terms of getting modern Turkey to come to terms with one of the darkest chapters of its recent past," she said. "Whether people agree, condemn or quibble with the wording of the text, in the end [the petition] has unleashed an unprecedented debate about the fate of the Ottoman Armenians. It has also sent a very strong signal that rapprochement efforts between our mutual governments [Armenia and Turkey] is far surpassed by the very real desire at a societal level to heal the wounds and move on," she added. "The genie is now well and truly out of the bottle."

Poet Ron Margulies considers the petition a first step. "It does something which should have been done decades ago and tells Armenians that many Turks share and understand their pain, sorrow and grief. This apology and expression of empathy is the first step without which nothing else can follow," he said. "But there is also a second reason which, for me, is as important as the first, and it has to do with Turkish politics rather than the Armenian issue in particular. In recent years, many unmentionables have become mentionable and are frequently mentioned in Turkey. These include the existence and rights of the Kurds, the issue of the other minorities, the role of the armed forces in the political life of the country, the competence of the armed forces and of the chiefs of staff, the issue of Islam, the right to wear a headscarf in public offices, etc. Once out of the bottle, these genies refuse to go back in. And they all deal serious blows to Kemalism, to nationalism, to the official ideology of the Turkish state. This petition, and the fact that 8,000 people signed it within the first day-and-a-half, is another such blow. We must continue raining blows on the edifice of the Kemalist state," he added.

For these reasons, Margulies notes, the wording of the petition was not so important to him. "Every text can be improved upon. But that is not the point. The petition has already had a phenomenal impact -because of its content and its spirit, not because of the specific wording," he explained.

When I asked why she signed the petition, author and journalist Ece Temelkuran spoke about the massacres, but more importantly, about the dispossession. "Since writing my book [The Deep Mountain], the conflict, which was already profoundly emotional for most of us after [Turkish-Armenian journalist] Hrant Dink's death, became a personal issue to me. The petition was a way of telling my Armenian friends that I share their long lasting pain and that I understand. As far as I observed among the Armenians in the Diaspora and in Armenia, the deepest and the most vital pain is the homelessness they feel. Besides the pain of being massacred, Armenians today, all over the world, feel homeless. With the petition, I just wanted to tell the Armenians that people still living in Anatolia didn't forget what happened and that they still feel the absence of their Armenian brothers and sisters."

1 http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com 2 The apology read: "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them."

Turkish Parliament To Debate On The Participation Of System Of A Down To Eurovision 30 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
System of a Down (sometimes abbreviated as SOAD or System) the band from Los Angeles whose four members are of Armenian origin has become the new topic of the day in Turkey. Any group's participation in the Eurovision contest in Moscow in 2009 representing Armenia has created the excitement of some Turkish nationalist newspapers, too content bounce indirectly the question of the petition of apology to the Armenians.

Akif Ekici, member of the Republican People's Party (CHP) called on Monday December 29 inside the Turkish parliament to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the "measures" adopted by his Government to the possible involvement of the group of metal "System of a Down to Eurovision with a song about the genocide of Armenians.

During his speech, Akif Ekici said the prime minister that the Turkish-Armenian group that formed in Los Angeles-sells concert tickets, where he is entered prohibited entry "for dogs and Turks." Similarly, he said that the group, which has not yet confirmed its participation, could have the title "The Holy Mountains" song making direct references to the events came at the beginning of the twentieth century and who, Akif Ekici, offends the Turkish people. "

He also asked her questions during Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to the position of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) as organisatrise of the event. "Armenia and the EBU have it acts jointly in this direction?" He asked as a question. In addition, Akif Erkici asked the Turkish prime minister to see the consequences of a victory for System of a Down, and in this case, if "the rest of the world" will recognize the genocide since the triumph of his song.

All this is obviously a propaganda internal as it should be recalled that the Eurovision prohibited activities "connotations" policy as occurred this year with the Spanish song "Baila el chiki chiki ", performed by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre. On this occasion, the artist was forced to replace references to Hugo Chavez and leaders of political parties of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy.

Although several Armenian periodicals have announced the participation of System of a Down in the contest, the website of the Eurovision is not yet the group as an official candidate of Armenia. The group has released five CDs and was named best alternative rock band in MTV Europe Music Awards held in Lisbon in 2005.


Armenian Genocide: Historical Dispute In The Turkish Parliament 31 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
www.collectifvan.org - unprecedented event before yesterday in the Turkish Parliament: the Armenian genocide has entered the National Assembly of Turkey through a very violent dispute between members' pro 'and' anti "campaign of apology to the Armenians.

Members of the DTP (pro-Kurdish) and the AKP (ruling party) have almost come to blows. Some excerpts of the discussions were later shown on the evening of 22/12/2008, Flash Info on Turkish television channel Kanal D. Hurriyet's article, including the Collectif VAN offers translation, is very soft compared to reality and does not tell the whole tumultuous debates: Osman Özçelik, MP DTP (pro-Kurdish), has therefore told parliament in full Turkish, how in 1915, soldiers and Turkish bandits tried their weapons on the Armenians, aligning people behind each other to see how many people could be killed by a single bullet. Parliamentarians were copiously insulted. When the deputy speaker of parliament broke DTP member, he shouted: "Shame on you, you are the member of Maras, you know better than others [the truth], you have forgotten the massacres of Maras too? "(Nota CVAN: he speaks of the massacres against the Kurds in the'80s) and a second member of DTP yelled:" Where are they these parts 1 000 000 persons? Where are the Chaldean-Assyrians? However, only one ". A cry arose from the back: "Maybe your father has done, not mine ...

Detail symbolic representing two faces of a Turkey that tears and suggests a buried past, the two main actors of this dispute, bear the same surname: Osman Özçelik (DTP) and Bayram Özçelik (AKP) ...

The truth about the fate of Christian minorities in Turkey (Armenian, Greek, Assyrian-Chaldean) expelled or exterminated, thus making a debut entry in the Turkish Parliament. Curiously, not a media Turkish English has relayed the event. It would be interesting to know whether the Turkish TV resumed Flash News, 22 December, or if a blackout on this burning issue was decreed. Up to 17 hours on 23 December, virtually written Turkish media had not yet reported on the event.

Moreover, Turkish President Abdullah Gül opens a trial (for a symbolic Turkish lira) against the CHP member who had been accused of Armenian origin (CVAN Note: the worst insult for a Turkish) 's Raw is obliged to present the pedigree of his parents. MA Birand, who presented the news in the dissemination of such information, said that Gül had missed an opportunity and he should say: "Yes, I'm Armenian, I am Greek, I am Cherkessia Republic, I am Laz, I am Kurdish. "

All these questions do not seem to meet the journalists of the daily Hurriyet Kemalist trend, which still uses, according to the usual phraseology denial, the term "allegations" Armenian ... Collectif VAN offers a translation of an article published in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on 21 December 2008.

The Support Of The Dtp Ozçelik Armenian Allegations AA
The support provided by the DTP member of the city of Siirt, Osman Özçelik, the Armenian allegations concerning the events of 1915 has created tension in the General Council of the National Assembly of Turkey, the TBMM. The vice-president of parliament Nevzat Pakdil gave a warning to the member, the members of the AKP have attacked members of the DTP.

At the Budget Committee in 2009 and the 9th session of the General Council of TBMM, Özçelik spoke on behalf of the DTP (Kurdish) and spoke of the signature campaign and allegations.

Özçelik said that for millennia, the Kurdish people and the Armenian people lived together without problems and he used the Kurdish equivalent of the term "massacre of the Armenians" (CVAN Note: the word in Turkish is not equivalent to the term "tChart "in Armenian).

According to his words confirming Armenian claims, he said: "The innocent Armenians were unfortunately killed, and defending these claims, he added:" My childhood was rocked by these stories. "

The Vice-Chairman of the Assembly of TBMM, Pakdil, who led the session, interrupted Özçelik's words before he ended his speech by recalling that the session was to discuss the budget. He asked her to make her speech on this subject and he added: "Your words contain slander to the community in which you are and where you belong. You calomniez your grandfather. Such things do not exist. "

Özçelik (DTP) said he apologized to the Armenians although it was not in response to these words, Pakdil said: "This is a unitary nation with the Turks, Kurds and Cherkes. None of these crimes have been committed, no one has performed testing of weapons on human beings. "


When the member of DTP Özçelik finished his budget speech, the vice president of the Turkish National Assembly Pakdil expressed its sadness following the remarks made by Özçelik.

Pakdil has continued: "I felt great sadness following the words of a representative of the people. It is not worthy of a member to insult all the components of our nation and hear the applause of others. The applause does not give us anything. These events are organized by the machinations of those who applaud. The chair (this forum) is not an insult to our beloved nation (CVAN Note: the word used 'Aziz' also means' saint '). Everyone knows that as well. "

Following the reactions of the Group of DTP, the session was interrupted by Pakdil.

At the same time, the member of the AKP of Burdur, Bayram Özçelik attacked members of the DTP shouting: "That speaks well, he does not nervous." The security of the Assembly, TBMM, Aksak retained Özçelik thus preventing a fight between members.

Other member of the AKP have also walked to the group of members of DTP. Members of the CHP and MHP intervened to calm the tension.

Members of DTP, Hasip Kaplan, the city of Ybrahim BINIC ?yrnak and the city of ?anlyurfa (Urfa) left the board, shouting: "There is only one Chaldean-Assyrians. Do we not tell the truth? "Or" racists, crans of meters.

MHP's the member of the city of Yozgat, Mehmet Ekici, spoke at the resumed session. Ekici congratulated the Vice-Chair for his position, stressing that the TBMM was not the place to insult the Kurds and the Turkish nation.

Ekici invited Özçelik of DTP to apologize to the nation.

Turkish translation of the SC for the Collectif VAN - December 24, 2008

Turkey: Armenians, Forgive Us! The Petition Scandal 30 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
Since December 17, a text signed by Turkish intellectuals and evoking "the great disaster suffered by the Ottoman Armenians in 1915" raises serious controversy, which goes beyond the Turkish border.

The Turkish public opinion is in turmoil. Since the Internet publication of the petition entitled "Armenians, forgive us!" calling to ask for forgiveness for "the great catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915, the society is divided between supporters and opponents of the initiative of a group of Turkish intellectuals, informs the Russian daily Vremia Novostieï. Within days, nearly 20 000 people have signed it, despite the difficulties of connecting to the website from 18 December 2008, ie the day after launch of the petition.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of extremists and Turkish politicians, Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran, Cengiz Aktar, Ali Bayramoglu and nearly 200 other representatives of the Turkish elite wanted to express their regret for the "injustice" and shared "the feelings and pain" of their "brothers and sisters Armenian" without using the word "genocide" - prohibited by the Penal Code - and without specifying the number of casualties - estimated by the Armenian historians to more than 1, 5 million.

The initiative has sparked strong protests from politicians and Turkish diplomats. For them, the approach is "an error contrary to national interests and disrespectful vis-à-vis the country's history." A petition against-titled "We do not apologize" circulating elsewhere on the Net.

The outrage was such that, according to the Azeri newspaper Zerkalo, the Republican People's Party has demanded the creation of a commission to determine the ethnicity of Abdullah Gül, President of the Republic of Turkey. "His mother is Armenian. But no matter who he is and where it comes from, because in any event, it must defend the interests of our country. He should have declared to the world that Turkey had not committed the 'genocide' of Armenians ", he is a member of this party.

In Azerbaijan, a country which adheres to the theory denial, which is the main ally of Turkey in the region and whose relations with Armenia are poisoned by the Nagorno-Karabakh, concern mounts about the warming of relations Armenian Turkish-initiated since last September. In the Baku newspaper, Echo, Azeri political scientist Fikret Sadykhov criticizes the Turkish political elite: the latter would transfer "to enter the European Union and resolve problems corporatist internal and external."

In contrast, the Armenian tri Golos Armenii welcomes the initiative of Turkish intellectuals: "The petition shows that the ultimate limits of freedom of thought in Turkey has been postponed, which was unimaginable ago in another ten. And we express our respect. However, this action is intended to strike the world public opinion, ready to be content with any form of 'dialogue' and 'reconciliation' between sworn enemies, the Turks and Armenians. For us, Armenians, each word account. And along with heartfelt words about fairness and compassion [the petition] are still lies before us away from the historical truth, "particularly because the word" genocide "was avoided.

The Armenian historian Rouben Safrastian, quoted by Zerkalo, was nevertheless optimistic: "Of course it is slow, but the Turkish people trying to access the truth, to repent and purify themselves. The key is that the process has begun . And Echo reported: "In 2009, the Armenian-Turkish border could be opened." A first step towards a possible reconciliation?
Alda Engoian Courrier International

"The Putschists Led By Hatred Of The Kurds" by Ahmet Altan 29 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
We undoubtedly live in an unstable country. This instability benefit some people who derive power and money. It is in this context that the blood was again cast in cities in eastern Turkey [Kurdish-majority] where the fronts of shops were down in protest [against ill-treatment of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), was the victim]. At the same time began the largest trial of the Republican Turkish history [October 21]. In reality, these two situations are closely linked. Indeed, if there was no Kurdish problem in this country, how the gang ambitions putschists [Ergenekon network] who entered the state have been able to see the day? How these gangs have been able to easily find the relay inside the army? If we could find a solution to the Kurdish question, there is now in Turkey or gangs, or exploitation of the state by them. The country would be less poor and more stable.

Why do we not, therefore, decided not to resolve the Kurdish question famous? Largely because there is a desire among some to push the Turks and Kurds to fight against each other. There are indeed that derive significant benefits from this war situation, as it offers unprecedented freedom to conduct business more or less suspicious. A specialist in these matters recently explained that drugs were sometimes transported in army trucks with impunity in south-east Turkey to Europe. However, the deterioration of the Kurdish question can not be explained only by the trafficking of weapons and drugs. This issue is mainly a vehicle for identifying the one who holds the real power in this country and prevents any form of political normalization. But why politicians do not respond they face a situation of armed conflict which undermines their legitimacy yet? I frankly think it is because they are afraid of the military and that, in themselves, they say they can always find a modus vivendi with them to govern as they please. But they also fear their public opinion. The tone openly revenge of the press and media on this issue paralyzed the political class. In these conditions, "calling for peace" is akin to treason. "Someone who loves his country does not call for peace" has become a leitmotif unconsciously adopted by almost everyone. Yet, a country where there is a war may really aspire to peace? Is it in these conditions put an end to the emergence of opaque investing the state apparatus? We can not answer that obviously in the negative to this kind of question.

The love of country means there that we must give priority to the desire for revenge or to the possibility for citizens to live happier, richer and more free? As some people say courageously, a peace without Öcalan [whose conditions of imprisonment have been the pretext for violent demonstrations which left one person dead] will not be possible. On this point, the Turks should be asking a crucial question: by now the leader of the PKK in a similar isolation [he is incarcerated in the prison island of Imrali, in the Sea of Marmara, under the sole supervision of the army] The objective is it to achieve peace? Or is it to excite the desire for revenge? This way of trying to avenge the past especially risk mortgaging the future. Can we therefore believe that revenge is tantamount to an act of patriotism?

The same issue also clearly deserves to be asked by the Kurds. What purpose do they continue by exploding mines, attacking military positions, burning cars and killing Turkish soldiers? Vengeresses satisfy your impulses? Ensure that the Kurds can live more freely? Really? I'll tell you in all sincerity: this desire for revenge always turns against the people while the case of the powerful. That is exactly what is happening today in Turkey.
Ahmet Altan Taraf

Petition In Turkey, "Why I Signed ' 28 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
www.collectifvan.org - The Turkish journalist Çi?dem MATER explained to Prime Minister Erdogan why she signed the petition of apology to the Armenians. "For reasons that the Prime Minister finds it difficult to understand, come on, say, because in 1915, because of Medz Yeghern / Great Catasrophe, because of the genocide. (...) I do not ask forgiveness for a fault that I have committed. But on behalf of the land on which I live.. " Collectif VAN offers the translation of his article published in Turkish Bianet.

BYA Haber Merkezi - İstanbul 18 December 2008

Çigdem MATER
I will explain to the Prime Minister why I signed

I quote the words of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 17 December (Bulgaria): "... And I said, stressing my words have a good will is another thing, the application does not excuse the individual, if he is guilty, the offender apologized; there was no such a thing, so I regret that I find this story as an excuse is illogical. " He also said to journalists the interview: "... there is a subject on which historians debate. I find it hard to understand our men holding pens (Nota CVAN: popular name for intellectuals). It is impossible to understand this approach. This only serves to stir people's minds and disturb our peace. "

"... So I'll try to explain why I signed it, perhaps it may help to understand.

When the campaign began, I was in Yerevan, I was among people that normally I would have encountered on the streets of Van, Erzincan, Mus, Tekirdag and Edirne. I discovered that people in the street looked much

For reasons that the Prime Minister finds it difficult to understand, come on, say, because in 1915, because of Medz Yeghern / Great Catasrophe, because of the genocide, I met these people in Armenia
I spent my last 10 days, weeping, in remembering, laughing, so I understand. I saw the extraordinary light on the faces of people when he apologized. I am not asking forgiveness for a fault that I have committed. But on behalf of the land on which I live. Learn to apologize for 1915, for the pogroms of Edirne, the tax on goods, for the Dersim for 6-7 September, 1974, to September 12, to prison in Diyarbakir and finally to the assassination of Hrant Dink on 19 January, see how the land is difficult, how we are reduced, how many people are alone. Apologizing, share the pain that we can enrich, enlarge it.

If the Prime Minister wishes, he can understand. But if he wants to include only the words of Cemil Cicek and Vecdi Gonul, there's nothing to do ...

As for me, I opt for the application as an excuse. The words of my friend Susanna Yerevan still echo in my ears: "I thought the pain belonged to us, I discovered that it was a common suffering and we can share it."

December 22, 2008

Turkey: Shame On Those Who Ask Forgiveness! 29 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
Collectifvan.org - If the Turkish intellectuals' petition, asking forgiveness for the "Great Catastrophe" suffered by the Armenians in 1915, collected thousands of signatures, the petitions' competitors', posted online by the currents ultra-nationalist Turkish harvest to date, 3 times more signatories. Internet forums are full of comments nationalist assassins against Turkish personalities behind this petition. It is ironic that, if Baskin Oran reluctant to talk about genocide in the petition that he has launched, the ultra, they feel that the intellectuals "have begun to recognize the genocide". Collectif VAN delivers translation of excerpts that are chilling in the back: "We are the reasons for the deportation and its consequences."

Read on the forum www.amatoryazarlar.com Turkish denial

It's incredible ... The figures, for which the account was made to start things and we slept standing.

They began to ask for forgiveness to Armenia to recognize the genocide.

Shame on them! Shame on those who leave us alone in our fight so hard.

The so-called intellectuals are doing something wrong and con. And unnecessary ... So this means that we recognize the so-called genocide. This means that we approve Saroz advocate genocide.

But in the opposing group, we academics, as we exist, and we are the majority. We will never endorse it, we are always against the idea of genocide. We assume the reasons for the deportation and its consequences.

Why we ask for an apology as not asking for forgiveness:

France to Algeria
Germany to Poland / to Russia / the Netherlands / to France / the Aurtiche
The U.S. in Japan / Cuba / to Korea / the Iran / Iraq to
Armenia to Azerbaijan
Iraq to Kuwait
Israel to Palestine
Syria in Lebanon
Russia to Georgia

We, on behalf of academics opponents, do not give the right to apologize on behalf of anyone: Shame on those who seek forgiveness.

Turkish translation of the SC for the Collectif VAN - December 22, 2008

Armenian Genocide: The Supporters Of Alberto Rosselli, Dogan Özgüden And Ronald Mönsch Multiply 30 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
On 16 December 2008 the municipal council of the city of Genoa in Italy gave its support to the writer Alberto Rosselli in response to death threats he received following the publication of his book on the genocide of Armenians.

Text of the resolution:

Recalling that in 2007, the journalist and historian Alberto Rosselli, already author of several books on the Middle East, published the book "Armenian Holocaust", a work devoted to the Armenians and the dramatic history of this people, object of bloody pogroms and became the victim of the first genocide of the 20th century made by the Government Young Turks in 1915-1916,

Whereas after the popularization of the book through the media, the author and his wife were threatened with death and insulted by telephone, by email at any time of day and night by fanatics, extremists likely Turkish that this genuine persecution, in addition to the disruption it causes in the family life of the writer is an unacceptable affront to freedom of expression and the press, solemnly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in our Constitution and the principles of the European Union, similar threats targeting other European journalists and European

Requests the Chairman of the municipal council to express the solidarity of the city of Genoa and its municipal council to Alberto Rosselli and with him all journalists persecuted by fundamentalism for denouncing the crimes against humanity.

On 17 December 2008 it was the turn of the Regional Council of Liguria to express solidarity with Alberto Rosselli. "The Regional Council expresses its solidarity with the journalist and writer Albert Rosselli urging authorities to take all measures to safeguard their physical security and freedom of expression. The Regional Council has unanimously approved the resolution presented by Vincenzo Gianni Plinio of the National Alliance. The writer and journalist Genevese Alberto Rosselli was reportedly threatened with death by Turkish extremist for his book "The Armenian holocaust." According to a report of the European Federation of Armenian Parliament, Rosselli and several people including the Turkish Dogan Özgüden and Professor Ronald Monsch have been threatened for having talked and written about the genocide that has happened in the last century in Turkey ".

A Turkish Historian Says That The Armenian Deportation Was A German Political 30 December 2008, Stéphane / armenews
The Turkish historian Ilber Ortayli to respond to the petition as an excuse in the Turkish press and said that the excuse could be made by the State. Ilber Ortayli said the deportation of Armenians in 1915 was conducted on the advice of the German presidency of the General Staff. The history teacher Ilber Ortayli said "the apology could be made from one state to another. So there is no excuse. Some people can not act as representatives of a whole nation . This issue could be discussed with the Armenian State. Some of the Armenian diaspora or a group of Turkish intellectuals have nothing to do with this issue. This issue must be discussed between the states since the importance of the issue is great. "

The purpose of the group of intellectuals who began the campaign, said Ilber Ortayli "Their problem is different. I do not know what they want and I do not care. I have no idea of their mind. But we should not say that the spirit of the book depends Taner Akcam. This book is not scientific, nor sincere. It can not be trusted and can not be called as a thesis. On the question of the role Germans in the deportation of Armenians, Ilber Ortayli said "You know at that time the President of the General Staff was a German. Bronsart Pasha (Bronsart von Schellendorf). Of course he worked for the Germans and he was in contact with Germany. He took orders from Germany. The deportation of Armenians was a Council of Germans. While the Russians Progress Armenians created unrest behind the lines. So the purpose of the Armenian deportation was to ensure the lines of conflict.

On the number of victims Ilber Ortayli said "There is no study of the number of Armenians. But it is clear that the number is not a million and a half. No statistics shows the number of one million and half the time. This number does not exist ".

It will be easily guessed for Ilber Ortayli, 1915 does not constitute genocide.

Parev Friend,

In a few hours, we’ll welcome 2009, A Year Of Very Real Opportunities For All Armenians Americans:

* A President who recognizes the Armenian Genocide.
* A Karabagh peace based on self-determination.
* An aid package worthy of U.S.-Armenia relations.
But we’re not there yet. The opposition's intense, and getting stronger.
For the next several weeks, we need to work like the future of the Armenian Cause depends on it, because it truly does.

So, before anything else, take a moment right now to ensure that we have the power to make 2009 a year of victories.

With 2008 ending in just a few hours, please send your secure online tax-deductible donation before midnight on Wednesday, December 31st.

Ken Hachikian, Chairman
PS - Make a donation of any amount and you'll get a pair of limited-edition ANCA lapel pins.

Activities Of The Civilitas Foundation December 23rd, 2008
This year has seen an unusual amount of activity between Turkey and Armenia. At Civilitas, we’ve contributed to the efforts of those who want to improve relations. A group of big-name Turkish journalists came to meet with Mr. Vartan Oskanian in September.

In November, Salpi Ghazarian, Civilitas Director, participated in a confernce held at the European Parliament in Brussels, on the Armenian Legacy in Turkey. Salpi, who has been active in genocide recognition issues and documentation projects for many years, characterized this new period in Armenian-Turkish relations as one where Armenians must demonstrate the dignity and capacity to hear what is being said in Turkey as part of the public outcry following Hrant Dink’s murder nearly two years ago.

In December, a group of filmmakers came to Civilitas to consult on various project ideas. They were followed by various journalists and civil society leaders including Osman Koker, editor and publisher, and Osman Kavala, head of Anadou Kultur, have also come to discuss with Salpi Ghazarian the possibilities of joint projects as part of the Civilitas Council on International Relations. Several are in the works.

All this came about in the midst of a vigorous debate in Turkey sparked by a public apology campaign. We embrace the Turkish intellectuals who have given voice to their conscience and embarked on the difficult and courageous process of apologizing for a century of pain and suffering that remains a part of the Armenian experience in Turkey and around the world.

First Volume of Italian Archival Material Regarding “Armenian Question” 29 December 2008
The first in a two volume work entitled “Documents in the Historical-Diplomatic Archives of Italy’s Foreign Ministry Regarding the 1913-1923 Armenian Question” has been published by the Armenian Academy of Sciences Genocide Museum and Institute. Director of the Institute, Hayk Demoyan, states that first volume contains 225 diplomatic documents related to events during the 1913-1917 period.

The documents are important because they offer a chronological overview of the reality of the Armenian Genocide and shed light, with documentary precision, on the planning and execution of the unfolding Armenian massacres. Mr. Demoyan notes that the second volume will include materials relating to the 1918-1923 period. These archival materials are being published for the first time.

Robert Fisk’s World: How Can Anyone Believe There Is 'Progress' In The Middle East?
If reporting is, as I suspect, a record of mankind's folly, then the end of 2008 is proving my point.

Let's kick off with the man who is not going to change the Middle East, Barack Obama, who last week, with infinite predictability, became Time's "person of the year". But buried in a long and immensely tedious interview inside the magazine, Obama devotes just one sentence to the Arab-Israeli conflict: "And seeing if we can build on some of the progress, at least in conversation, that's been made around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be a priority."

What is this man talking about? "Building on progress?" What progress? On the verge of another civil war between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, with Benjamin Netanyahu a contender for Israeli prime minister, with Israel's monstrous wall and its Jewish colonies still taking more Arab land, and Palestinians still firing rockets at Sderot, and Obama thinks there's "progress" to build on?

I suspect this nonsensical language comes from the mental mists of his future Secretary of State. "At least in conversation" is pure Hillary Clinton – its meaning totally eludes me – and the giveaway phrase about progress being made "around" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even weirder. Of course if Obama had talked about an end to Jewish settlement building on Arab land – the only actual "building" that is going on in the conflict – relations with Hamas as well as the Palestinian Authority, justice for both sides in the conflict, along with security for Palestinians as well as Israelis, then he might actually effect a little change.

An interesting test of Obama's gumption is going to come scarcely three months after his inauguration when he will have a little promise to honour. Yup, it's that dratted 24 April commemoration of the Armenian genocide when Armenians remember the 1.5 million of their countrymen – citizens of the Ottoman empire slaughtered by the Turks – on the anniversary of the day in 1915 when the first Armenian professors, artists and others were taken off to execution by the Ottoman authorities.

Bill Clinton promised Armenians he'd call it a "genocide" if they helped to elect him to office. George Bush did the same. So did Obama. The first two broke their word and resorted to "tragedy" rather than "genocide" once they'd got the votes, because they were frightened of all those bellowing Turkish generals, not to mention – in Bush's case – the US military supply routes through Turkey, the "roads and so on" as Robert Gates called them in one of history's more gripping ironies, these being the same "roads and so on" upon which the Armenians were sent on their death marches in 1915. And Mr Gates will be there to remind Obama of this. So I bet you – I absolutely bet on the family cat – that Obama is going to find that "genocide" is "tragedy" by 24 April.

By chance, I browsed through Turkish Airlines' in-flight magazine while cruising into Istanbul earlier this month and found an article on the historical Turkish region of Harput. "Asia's natural garden", "a popular holiday resort", the article calls Harput, "where churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary rise next to tombs of the ancestors of Mehmet the Conqueror".

Odd, all those churches, isn't it? And you have to shake your head to remember that Harput was the centre of the Christian Armenian genocide, the city from which Leslie Davis, the brave American consul in Harput, sent back his devastating eyewitness dispatches of the thousands of butchered Armenian men and women whose corpses he saw with his own eyes. But I guess that all would spoil the "natural garden" effect. It's a bit like inviting tourists to the Polish town of Oswiecim – without mentioning that its German name is Auschwitz.

But these days, we can all rewrite history. Take Nicolas Sarkozy, France's cuddliest ever president, who not only toadies up to Bashar al-Assad of Syria but is now buttering up the sick and awful Algerian head of state Abdelaziz Bouteflika who's just been "modifying" the Algerian constitution to give himself a third term in office.

There was no parliamentary debate, just a show of hands – 500 out of 529 – and what was Sarko's response? "Better Bouteflika than the Taliban!" I always thought the Taliban operated a bit more to the east – in Afghanistan, where Sarko's lads are busy fighting them – but you never can tell. Not least when exiled former Algerian army officers revealed that undercover soldiers as well as the Algerian Islamists (Sarko's "Taliban") were involved in the brutal village massacres of the 1990s.

Talking of "undercover", I was amazed to learn of the training system adopted by the Met lads who put Jean Charles de Menezes to death on the Tube. According to former police commander Brian Paddick, the Met's secret rules for "dealing" with suicide bombers were drawn up "with the help of Israeli experts". What? Who were these so-called "experts" advising British policemen how to shoot civilians on the streets of London? The same men who assassinate wanted Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and brazenly kill Palestinian civilians at the same time? The same people who outrageously talk about "targeted killings" when they murder their opponents? Were these the thugs who were advising Lady Cressida Dick and her boys?

Not that our brave peace envoy, Lord Blair, would have much to say about it. He's the man, remember, whose only proposed trip to Gaza was called off when yet more "Israeli experts" advised him that his life might be in danger. Anyway, he'd still rather be president of Europe, something Sarko wants to award him. That, I suppose, is why Blair wrote such a fawning article in the same issue of Time which made Obama "person" of the year. "There are times when Nicolas Sarkozy resembles a force of nature," Blair grovels. It's all first names, of course. "Nicolas has the hallmark of any true leader"; "Nicolas has adopted..."; "Nicolas recognises"; "Nicolas reaching out...". In all, 15 "Nicolases". Is that the price of the Euro presidency? Or will Blair now tell us he's going to be involved in those "conversations" with Obama to "build on some of the progress" in the Middle East?

All Quiet On Eu Front, But Several Foreign Policy Surprises On Eastern Front
It was February 2008 when Foreign Minister Ali Babacan pledged to surprise all with a new wave of EU reform, while admitting that there had been a considerable slowdown in the government’s activity concerning the reforms necessary for the country’s accession to the EU.

“Reforms concerning the EU were affected because 2007 was an election year and Parliament was closed for a while. Perhaps 2007 was a lost year, but Turkey underwent a major test of democracy and emerged from this test strengthened and having accepted the reforms made so far. Now there is a new president, Parliament and government. Our infrastructure for continuing with a new wave of reform is ready,” Babacan said then. “2008 will be the year of the EU. It will be quite a different year. You will be surprised.”

That didn’t happen; on the contrary, there has been mutual disappointment on the EU and Turkish side, with the latter blaming the former for dragging its feet in opening more chapters although Ankara has fulfilled all technical requirements.

According to EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, the upcoming year will be an important litmus test of whether Turkey is serious about its EU accession goals.

When suspending accession negotiations on eight chapters in 2006 because of Turkey’s refusal to open its air and sea ports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, the EU said it would review the situation in 2009.

With the government giving no sign of a change in its policy of not budging on the issue until a permanent resolution is found to the decades-old Cyprus issue, analysts also do not expect any bold steps that would satisfy the EU’s expectations, such as a constitutional reform, at least until after the local elections scheduled for March.

The fact that there have been no positive surprises on the EU front, contrary to what was suggested by Babacan in early 2008, doesn’t mean a complete absence of positive surprises in Turkey’s foreign policy. Actually, there have been several when it comes to Turkey’s neighbors on the eastern front.

Taking pains in the Caucasus

The rapprochement with its estranged neighbor Armenia, with whom it has no diplomatic relations, seems to be Turkey’s boldest foreign policy initiative. Amidst secret talks between Armenian and Turkish diplomats that reportedly took place in Switzerland in early July, an open call by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan to Turkey to launch “a fresh start” in relations between the estranged neighbors found a positive response in the Turkish capital.

Eventually, President Abdullah Gül responded positively to Sarksyan’s invitation to visit Yerevan to watch a game between the Armenian and Turkish national soccer teams on Sept. 6 in a FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying match. The visit made Gül the first Turkish president to visit the Armenian capital.

Armenia occupied Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan in the early 1990s after a protracted war between Azerbaijan and the Armenians of the mountainous region that began in the late 1980s. In a show of solidarity with Azerbaijan, Turkey severed its diplomatic ties and closed its border with Armenia and announced that Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh was a precondition for normalizing ties.

Gül’s visit started a new period of dialogue with Armenia. Later in September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Babacan had three-way talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov to discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Preparations for a second such trilateral summit are under way, with Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz, the deputy undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry, having bilateral talks with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts.

Ankara, which has always described the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a problem not only for Azerbaijan but also for Turkey and the entire region, acknowledged that resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will have a positive impact on Armenian-Turkish relations.

In the meantime, a regional platform for the Caucasus initiated by Turkey has made progress. Deputy foreign ministers of the five member countries of the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform met on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held in Helsinki in early December. It was the first time representatives from the group sat around the same table.

Turkey proposed the platform for conflict resolution in the volatile Caucasus following a brief war between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia in August. The platform consists of Russia, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Strategic dialogue with Iraq

A shadow cast over bilateral relations between Iraq and Turkey due to the presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) gradually dispersed during 2008, while Turkey also improved its relations with the regional Kurdish administration following a long hiatus after the US invasion of Iraq.

The United States is cooperating with Turkey by providing intelligence on the PKK in Iraq and allowing Turks to use Iraqi airspace for aerial strikes on PKK targets in the northern part of the country. The Iraqi central administration in Baghdad also condemns PKK attacks but says it has little power in the Kurdish-run north to curb them. A land operation launched in February into northern Iraq against the PKK was followed by a landmark visit by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

In July, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, during Erdoğan’s visit to Baghdad, signed a strategic partnership agreement that commits Turkey and Iraq to cooperation in the political, economic, energy, water, cultural, security and military fields. Gül, meanwhile, is expected to reciprocate Talabani’s visit in early 2009.

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said in October that the Iraqi Kurds could be part of a three-way mechanism if the Baghdad administration agrees. Babacan also said then that Ankara was considering tripartite consultations with the United States and Iraq on ways to stop PKK attacks, as proposed by Talabani in a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, Gül, after an Oct. 3 attack by the PKK on a military outpost located near the border that left 17 soldiers dead.

Last month, during a meeting in Baghdad, senior Iraqi, Turkish and US officials formed a joint committee to combat the PKK. The trilateral meeting was also attended by two representatives from the regional Kurdish administration in northern Iraq, including regional Interior Minister Karim Sinjari.

The trilateral meeting and Babacan’s remarks followed a meeting in Baghdad between a Foreign Ministry delegation headed by the Turkish special envoy for Iraq, Murat Özçelik, and Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani. The meeting broke a taboo in Turkish foreign policy following several years in which Ankara refused to have talks with the Kurdish administration, accusing it of supporting the PKK.

Mediation between Israel, Syria

Ankara’s proactive foreign policy in 2008 was not limited to improving bilateral relations with its neighbors. Back in the spring of this year, despite news reports concerning Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria, Ankara had been tightlipped concerning its efforts. The Turkish capital broke its silence in May only after Israeli and Syrian officials revealed that negotiations were taking place through Turkey.

The talks are focused on the fate of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau which Israel captured in 1967. Damascus wants the whole territory returned. Israel wants Syria to scale back ties with its main foes -- Iran, Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbullah.

Yet talks were suspended about three months ago after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to resign over a corruption scandal. The last round of direct talks between Israel and Syria stalled in 2000 in a dispute over how much of the Golan Heights should go back to Syria.

“We’re not seeking to show off. We do not hold unreasonable expectations, either. But Turkey will continue its efforts in a calm manner,” a senior government official told Today’s Zaman at the time, displaying the Turkish capital’s sincere eagerness to contribute to the maintenance of regional peace in the Middle East.

Second summit with Afghanistan, Pakistan

In early December, despite rising regional tension between New Delhi and Islamabad in the aftermath of the Nov. 26 terrorist attacks on multiple locations in Mumbai, Ankara managed to host a trilateral meeting of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan for talks aimed at boosting cooperation between the two neighbors.

The meeting, which gathered President Gül with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, and Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, in İstanbul, was actually a follow-up to an earlier trilateral summit in 2007.

In the spring of 2007, Turkey arranged a meeting between Karzai and his then-Pakistani counterpart, Pervez Musharraf, after Kabul accused Islamabad of not doing enough to stop militants from entering Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Ties between Karzai and Zardari’s governments have improved, with signs of cooperation among Afghan, Pakistani and foreign troops, especially in dealing with cross-border movements of fighters and equipment.

UN Security Council seat

In October, Ankara’s years of unrelenting effort to gain a seat on the UN Security Council bore fruit. While officials hailed Turkey’s nonpermanent seat for 2009-2010 as a well-deserved reward for its diplomatic campaign for more influence in regional politics and reforms at home, analysts warned that the role in the UN’s main decision-making body will also mean tough choices for Ankara, especially on whether its neighbor Iran should face sanctions over its nuclear program.

The government, which has built good ties with Iran since it first came to power in 2002, advocates a peaceful solution to the row over Iran’s nuclear program, but is against nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Election to the UN’s powerful decision-making body has been widely interpreted as a boost for Erdoğan’s government, which has lobbied intensely for the position since it declared its candidacy in July 2003.

A more active role will not only give Turkey the power to speak more forcefully on issues of national concern, such as Cyprus, but will also put Ankara in a tight spot over Iran’s nuclear program and its relations with the United States. Turkey has also recently secured membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the main international organization reporting on Tehran’s nuclear program.

External anchor and regional influence

Turning back to relations with the EU, which were once described by Babacan as a vital external anchor for Turkey, all of these active and progressive foreign policy achievements by Ankara have been generously lauded by Brussels.

Yet, the EU has also warned that none of these achievements can serve as a substitute for reforms. During a visit to Ankara in November, a European Parliament delegation led by Hannes Swoboda, the vice president of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, made clear that those bold steps in the foreign policy field could be accepted as “an addition and complementary to reforms.”

When reminded of this fact by the visiting delegation during their meeting with Gül, the president conceded, a European Parliament deputy who was at the meeting told Today’s Zaman.

“Turkey’s strategic importance and regional influence in the East highly stems from its relation with the EU and its potential membership in the bloc,” Gül was quoted as telling the delegation in response.

2009 will show everyone whether the government will also concede to this fact in its thorny relationship with Brussels.

28 December 2008, EMİNE KART Zaman

AYŞE KARABAT @todayszaman.com Apologizing Is All Around
I don't know about your New Year's celebration plans, but mine are simple and the same as they were last year and the year before: After visiting my parents and exchanging good wishes with my friends, I will watch the movie "Love Actually," which I've already memorized in its entirety, even the special features.

This movie warms my soul, though it has the many shortcomings possessed by romantic comedies. The screenplay is based on the stories of several characters, all linked to each other in some way, and each story tells about different aspects of love. The film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out during a week-by-week countdown until the holiday, with an epilogue that takes place one month later.

The soundtrack is very nice, too, and it opens with the Christmas variation of classic hit "Love Is All Around." This song makes me happy, but this year I will try to sing my own variation, which will be "Apologizing Is All Around" -- and for this version, it does not matter how awful my voice is, it will make me even happier.

Whatever others may say, I think 2008 was a remarkable year because one of the very important deficits in our dominant political culture began to be defeated, and this is why 2008 deserves a special blessing.

In our dominant political culture, even in the dominant daily culture, to "apologize" has a very limited place. For us, it is always very difficult to accept our faults; it is more difficult to articulate it even if we are sad because of them. For example, I don't know if you've noticed, but even in a small traffic accident, the obviously wrong party does not apologize but tries instead to pretend that s/he is innocent. This habit is also reflected in our political culture. I can't even recall a single political leader who was able to say "I am sorry."

The wave of apologies began with Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin when he conveyed the apology for the murder of Engin Çeber, who reportedly died after being beaten by security forces. Maybe it was not good enough, but nonetheless it was a very important step because it showed us that the state can apologize.

Then came the "apologizing campaign" of the intellectuals for the "Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915." Well, perhaps some reactions to it were at the level of racism, but the important thing is that apologizing is starting to be a part of our sovereign political culture.

Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Canan Arıtman, while criticizing the president's silence regarding the apology campaign, called for an investigation into the ancestry of Gül's mother in a statement, implying that she was of Armenian origin. She has not apologized for it yet; on the other hand, she is not worth taking seriously. Another CHP deputy, Şükrü Elekdağ, who strongly opposes the apology campaign, did apologize to Gül's mother, and it was definitely something.

(But perhaps I should apologize here because I am a woman who tries to advocate for the involvement of women in politics as much as I can. I definitely do not mean the male chauvinist, racist, fascist women like Arıtman.)

The apology campaign may have created many reactions, but on the other hand, as German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said: "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Then, all of a sudden, another apology came, this time from Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay. He told Alevis that in the past there had been provocations against Alevis and that he was apologizing for this because he is a representative of the state. Alevis did not accept the apology -- of course, those who have been given an apology have the right to refuse it -- but still, it is something.

Then, suddenly, just like in "Love Actually," just a couple of weeks before New Year's, we started hearing apologies coming from everywhere. At the beginning of the movie, David, the British prime minister (played by Hugh Grant), says the words one by one before the story telling starts: "Actually-love-is-all around."

So with great pleasure and hope, I want to say, "Actually-apologizing-is-all around."

Happy New Year's. 28 December 2008, AYŞE KARABAT

ihsan.yilmaz todayszaman.com The Armenian Apology Campaign And The Ottoman Ergenekon
The apology regarding the terrible fate of the Armenians in 1915 sparked harsh debates in Turkey. The same sections that vehemently opposed President Abdullah Gül's visit to Armenia are this time blaming the signatories of the campaign.

I will now simply repeat what I had to write during the debates surrounding Gül's visit. I think we have to keep reiterating that there are certain sections in the country -- among them the Ergenekonian deep state -- that do not want a solution to the problems with Armenia so that they can meddle with Turkey's domestic and foreign politics. Any solution to the Armenian issue will not make them happy.

This is a simple summary of modern Turkish history. Turkey is surrounded by enemies and thus we need strong nationalist authoritarian guardians to protect us. Now, as the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) "zero problems with neighbors policy" has shown, we can enter into dialogue with our neighbors and talk about our differences. I hope that we can succeed in doing this with Armenia as well.

As far as I can see, an overwhelming majority of people do not have any problem with entering into dialogue with Armenia. Even the terrible incidents around 1915 and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) terror organization's assassinations of our diplomats did not change Turks' positive feelings toward Armenians. Generally speaking, the remaining Armenians did not face any hostility from Turks. Yet the state's position is a completely different story.

Even in the law, Armenians have not been treated as first-class citizens. The Turkish state's definition of citizen has somehow -- unofficially and in practice -- been limited to Muslims. Non-Muslim Turkish citizens could never get sensitive bureaucratic positions. This is in full contrast to the Ottoman experience. In terms of diversity and tolerance, the Republic of Turkey is light years behind the Ottomans.

The state has always denied that there was any Armenian massacre ordered by the state. I am not a historian and have not studied the 1915 incidents in detail. But whenever I -- as an ordinary Turk -- think about the issue, the Turkish state's treatment of its other citizens instantly comes to mind and my mind starts drawing parallels. I know very well that this is not a scientific technique or instrument utilized by historians, but not every Turk has to be a historian, and they still have feelings, ideas and opinions on certain matters.

Yes, whenever I start thinking about the Armenian issue and the incidents of 1915, the state's treatment of Kurds in southeastern Turkey comes to mind. Banning their mother tongue is a prime example. Could there be any bigger torture than that? Then I remember thousands of young people -- leftist, rightist, Kurdish -- who were continuously tortured in Turkish prisons just after the 1980 coup. Then I remember how Turkey had to pay many thousands of dollars in compensation on many occasions to our citizens of Kurdish background just because some of our soldiers made them eat cow dung.

Then I think that if some of our administrators and bureaucrats could do all of these things to our citizens in this age and time, then like-minded Ottoman politicians, administrators and bureaucrats would find it suitable to react to Armenian hostilities -- encouraged by the great powers and Russia -- by simply deciding to exile them to Syria without taking enough precautions about health and safety issues. Moreover, some "Ottoman Ergenekonians" could easily target these civilians.

My conscience and my reading of modern Turkey, including the Ergenekon case, convince me that the Ergenekonian-like ultra-patriots who thought the country was in danger -- and it was indeed in danger -- could easily massacre Armenian civilians and that they would not really need any legislation or document signed by a minister to do that. I find it funny when our nationalist historians try to prove that there are not any documents signed by the Ottoman authorities to order the Armenian massacre. Did today's Ergenekonians need such a document to make Kurdish villagers eat cow dung or to kill many people?
28 December 2008, İHSAN YILMAZ

Will Turkey Officially Apologize For The 'Great Catastrophe'? by CENAP ÇAKMAK*
Granting an apology to Armenia for the "Great Catastrophe" during a time when relations with Armenia have become relatively smooth would be a last resort for Turkish foreign policy-makers.

As expected, the apology campaign initiated by a group of Turkish intellectuals who criticized the indifference and injustice to the massacres and sufferings of Armenian people in the events that took place in Ottoman territories in 1915 has sparked differing reactions.

While some endorsed the declaration made available online for public participation, others, including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, criticized the initiative, arguing that there was nothing to apologize for. Some groups in the Armenian diaspora expressed cautious optimism and satisfaction with the declaration, which should be discussed or considered with reference to freedom of expression given that this is a civilian initiative.

But it is obvious that this does not represent Turkey's official stance because neither the government nor Parliament implies that there will be such action taken by the establishment. Besides, state institutions have so far made public their open opposition to the campaign. In this case, the question is whether this civilian initiative will be transformed into an official policy of Turkey vis-à-vis the Armenian genocide issue; this question is particularly relevant because this is actually what the Armenian diaspora has been looking for.

The answer to this question is simple and clear: Such a move seems to be out of the question in the current political context. Regardless of the international environment and accompanying pressures as well as the probable profits and gains associated with an official apology, Turkey will not comply with these demands considering the gravity and serious repercussions of accepting the Armenian claims.

There are at least two major reasons for Turkey not to proceed with offering an apology for the "Great Catastrophe." Above all, the Armenian genocide issue has turned into a political clash between Turkey and the Armenian diaspora; an apology will implicitly mean Turkey's acceptance of defeat in this clash. Secondly, at a time when relations with Armenia have become relatively smooth, granting an apology would be a last resort for Turkish foreign policy makers.

Above all, it should be noted that an apology alone will not satisfy the demands of the Armenian diaspora. What Armenians are looking for is an apology accompanied by an open acknowledgement by which Turkish authorities admit that Ottoman authorities committed the crime of genocide against the Armenian population in the early 20th century. There is no single guarantee or assurance indicating that further material demands will not follow such an acknowledgement and apology. Even though some Armenians declared that what they want from Turkey is a mere apology and an open acknowledgement of the commission of an Armenian genocide, those who have openly promoted the Armenian genocide claims have not so far given any assurance that they will not claim material remedies or reparations for the alleged genocide.

Besides, even if they offer such an assurance, Turkey's acknowledgement of the genocide claims will not be an ordinary decision that will culminate in an apology and acceptance with mild repercussions. Acknowledgement of the commission of the crime of genocide against Armenians will inevitably entail reparations and material compensations to be made to the victims or their legal inheritors. Such an option will not be acceptable to Turkish foreign policy-makers.

More importantly, as a greater number of states have promulgated bills and enacted laws recognizing the alleged Armenian genocide and making its denial a punishable offense, the issue has become more politicized and internationalized; in such an environment, the problem has become even more crucial for Turkish foreign policy. For this reason, the issue of forcing Turkey to accept the Armenian genocide, a key goal that has been promoted and emphasized by the diaspora, is a matter of image and prestige for Turkish foreign policy-makers. In other words, this issue has turned into an element of political clash between Turkey and the Armenian diaspora. In a sense, they are rivals over this issue; Turkey's apology and acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide claims would mean that Turkey accepts defeat in this struggle. For this reason, Turkey will make an official and formal apology for the "Great Catastrophe" only if it is left with no other choice.

In such an environment where the uncompromising stance of the Armenian diaspora, which excludes opportunities for dialogue with Turkey as a viable option, is visibly prevalent, Turkey's official apology will be out of the question. Of course, Turkish policy-makers will make some efforts to improve bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia, but in such cases, it will strive to hold the initiative. Conversely, an apology, which will actually mean acceptance and endorsement of the claims, voiced within the Armenian genocide campaign, promoted and sponsored mostly by the Armenian diaspora, will not be a humanistic move; rather, it will be a political step that will undermine Turkey's prestige and image.

For this reason, even though the emphasis in the recent civilian initiative is mostly humanistic and free of political considerations, Turkey's official apology will never bear such meaning. Turkey's official and formal apology will mean at least partial acknowledgement and endorsement of Armenian genocide claims, and this will cause serious political troubles for Turkey. This, of course, does not necessarily mean that Turkey can never take some humane steps, but such steps will not include a formal apology.

From one perspective, this actually suggests that what makes a formal apology by Turkey out of the question and an impossible choice is the attempts by the Armenian diaspora to politicize the issue. An apology, which will mean submission to the demands of the diaspora, which will be held responsible for taking the issue to such extreme and sensitive dimensions, will not be acceptable to Turkey for political reasons. Considering the recent improvement and progress in dialogue attempts with the Armenian administration, it becomes evident that Turkey will never take the option of offering a formal apology into account in an environment where its options will likely proliferate and be diversified.

*Dr. Cenap Çakmak is an instructor at Muğla University and a senior researcher at the Wise Men Center for Strategic Research (BİLGESAM).
29 December 2008,

Sahin Alpay @todayszaman.com Sources Of Intolerance And Discrimination In Turkey
A heated topic of public debate in Turkey last week concerned a piece of research from a distinguished political scientist, Professor Binnaz Toprak, currently head of the political science department of Bahçeşehir University, an institution which I am also affiliated with.

The research was aimed at finding out about religious-conservative social pressure and discrimination directed at people who belong to various ethnic, religious and cultural minority groups. In its preamble, the research project states that since social pressures and discrimination directed towards the religiously devout in Turkey have been well researched and are known, and as complaints from that segment of society have significantly diminished during the rule of the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP), the project will concern itself exclusively with looking at social pressures and the discrimination experienced by those with a secular identity and who practice secular lifestyles in Anatolian cities where religiosity and conservatism prevail.

With this aim, Professor Toprak has, together with three research assistants, conducted in-depth interviews with a "biased sample" of 400 people in 12 Anatolian cities. The sample covers people affiliated with organizations such as the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD) and teachers unions, which often bring together secular fundamentalists. The report claims that since similar stories were recorded in all of the cities, problems that one might have expected to come from the "biased" character of the sample are negligible.

Going by the quality of her previous research, Professor Toprak is surely a distinguished, experienced and honest researcher. There is no doubt that at least the greater part of the accounts of those Kurds, Alevis, Roma, non-Muslims, secular-minded youth and women interviewed about the kind of pressures and discrimination they have been subjected to reflect real experiences. The report does provide a good idea about the kinds of pressures and discrimination experienced by people belonging to ethnic, religious and cultural minority groups in Anatolia, if not about the extent and sources of social pressures and discrimination experienced. There is no doubt that intolerance and prejudice in Turkey is a most serious problem that has to be dealt with.

If, however, the aim of the research as stated is to inform the authorities about the kind of problems that are being experienced and to advise them on the judicial and administrative measures necessary to fight back discrimination and consolidate a pluralist democracy, I believe the whole picture needs to be considered. Thus, all of the various sources of intolerance that feed into one another are inseparable. It has to be seen that intolerance in Turkey arises more from state policies than society, that it is nurtured not only by religion, conservatism and Islamism, but also by secularism and nationalistic bigotry and fanaticism.

This point was made crystal clear by statements made in the context of the other major debates of the past week. In reaction to the "apology to our Armenian brothers and sisters" petition, more than 120 or so retired ultra­-secularist ambassadors issued a public statement accusing the petitioners of "treason." An ultra-secularist deputy of the CHP, by profession a doctor of medicine, did not hesitate to display her racism. When President Abdullah Gül, in response to questions concerning the petition, said Turkey is an open society where citizens can freely express their views, she put his attitude down to the fact that he had Armenian ancestors. When Gül denied this, she demanded DNA tests as proof. Her party leaders criticized her, but did not take any disciplinary action against her. Another ultra-secularist, an independent deputy angrily declared he felt like "shooting bullets into the heads" of government representatives who did not heed his criticism.

A Turkish proverb says "Fish begin to stink in the head." If Kurds, Alevis, Roma, non-Muslims and people with different political views and lifestyles are subjected to pressure and discrimination in Turkey, the major reason for this is the official secularist and identity politics pursued since the founding of the republic, which is only recently, reluctantly and partially being revised. Up until the 21st century and the beginning of the EU accession process, the policies applied by the state denied even the existence of Kurds and Alevis, and still continue to discriminate against non-Muslims and criminalize people for expressing non-violent views. In order to put an end to social pressures and discrimination against minority groups, the Turkish state has to radically alter its authoritarian secularist and identity policies, and in this context revise its educational system so that rather than aim for nationalistic indoctrination, it aims to serve a culture of tolerance and respect for difference.
29 December 2008, ŞAHİN ALPAY

Turkey: Civil, Mannered And Sane Politicians Wanted
DTP deputy Sırrı Sakık attempted to punch CHP Malatya deputy Mevlüt Aslanoğlu last week.
Turkey's politicians are adopting increasingly tougher and ruder language against each other: Several cases over the past week have revealed once again how easily they can lose their temper with rivals and use vulgar, churlish and even insulting language, which is far from befitting a member of Parliament.

On one such occasion last week, Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Canan Arıtman, who linked President Abdullah Gül's pro-freedom approach toward an apology campaign recently launched by several intellectuals over Armenian killings at the hands of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 to Gül's ethnic roots, said she would like to throw a shoe at the president when she sees him, the same way an Iraqi journalist hurled a shoe at visiting US President George Bush on Dec. 14.

Although many agreed that as a member of Parliament, it was Arıtman's right to criticize Gül, the fact that she openly revealed her intention to attack the president, the person who represents the country, has been met with criticism.

Andrew Finkel, a British journalist covering Turkish politics for many years and a columnist for Today’s Zaman, said there was a combination of factors that lead politicians to embrace unparliamentary language. “There are frequent television pictures of parliamentary brawls in South Asian politics. Fisticuffs seem to have an honorable place in Korean or Thai politics.”

Looking back on recent years, he said it was not long ago that there were fights at party conventions in Turkey; during the 1990s there was a lot of throwing of plastic chairs at CHP and Motherland Party (ANAP, now ANAVATAN) party conferences.

“I remember attending one controversial vote in Parliament and witnessing the [now-defunct] Virtue Party [FP] members attacking [in the sense of rushing across the floor of Parliament] CHP members from İzmir who held up a sign mocking them. I think Abdullah Gül was one of them. I never saw him move so fast,” Finkel told Sunday’s Zaman.

On another such occasion, an independent deputy from the eastern province of Tunceli who is notorious for using abrasive language, Kamer Genç, astonished all with remarks about parliamentary deputies during a speech in İzmir last weekend. “You insult them in the strongest way possible from Parliament’s podium, but they remain silent; they feel no embarrassment. They rob people; you tell them, and still they feel no embarrassment. There is only one way forward in such a situation: to shoot those deputies in the head,” Genç said in statements met with criticism and largely interpreted as being provocative. Nevzat Tarhan, a professor of psychiatry also known for his research in social and political psychology, thinks the use of angry and unbecoming language by Turkish politicians could be due to several reasons.

According to the professor, an angry mood can be part of someone’s character, urging them to react furiously and unexpectedly. In his view, such a mood is the signal of a politician’s authoritarian leadership style, while a democratic leader’s attributes would include persuasion through the use of temperate language. “Having such a mood is a shortcoming for a politician. It leads him/her to loneliness and wards off different opinions around them, leaving only people who unwillingly approve and praise that leader’s actions out of fear,” he said.

Another reason cited by Tarhan for the angry mood of politicians could be a feeling of despair, weakness and incompetence. The influence of group psychology can also play a role as some deputies often get carried away with each other’s remarks in Parliament and find themselves in a fierce quarrel or exchanging blows with other deputies.

“If there are angry people in a party who show their reactions in a harsh way, they influence others to behave the same way. Some parties hold party congresses very peacefully without any incidents because there are no angry people in their ranks.”

In September, Young Party (GP) leader Cem Uzan was convicted of insulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and was ordered by a court to enroll in an anger management program and read five books on “anger management” and “self development,” a first in the history of Turkish politics.

Most recently, last Friday, Parliament witnessed a fight between Democratic Society Party (DTP) deputy Sırrı Sakık and CHP deputy Mevlüt Aslanoğlu when the latter accused Sakık of being a “denouncer.” After walking towards Aslanoğlu, Sakık tried to punch him and appeared to have hit him. Other deputies intervened, breaking up the fight. Deputy Parliament Speaker Meral Akşener ended the meeting, and DTP Deputy Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş went up to the rostrum and apologized on behalf of his party.

A former politician and a columnist for the Radikal daily, Hasan Celal Güzel, thinks it is a tradition for Turkey’s politicians to adopt unparliamentary language as this has been the case throughout the history of the republic.

“But such political fights and language are not peculiar to Turkish politics as politicians of other countries are involved in similar situations,” said Güzel.

According to Güzel, the reason why such bad and unbecoming language is widely used in politics is the main opposition CHP, which he says always resorts to non-democratic means for the settlement of parliamentary disputes.

Güzel agrees that the public sometimes approves of such actions by politicians depending on who the politician is and how he expressed his anger.

Before last year’s July 22 elections, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is frequently criticized for his angry outbursts, rebuked a farmer in the southern province of Mersin in front of cameras after the farmer had complained to him about his deteriorating financial situation due to government policies, saying, “You made my mother cry, prime minister.” In response, an angry Erdoğan told the farmer, “Take your mother and leave,” in remarks that were interpreted as very tough and not befitting a prime minister.

Although Erdoğan’s opponents severely criticized him at the time and accused him of using insulting language against a citizen, his party ended up winning the general elections, receiving 46.6 percent of the nationwide vote.

Güzel said although the public generally disapproves of the use of tough language, they may welcome and enjoy it on certain occasions, as in Erdoğan’s case, according to the situation and the person who used that language. “A smile could change many things,” added Güzel.

28 December 2008, FATMA DİŞLİ İSTANBUL

Should Turkey Apologize To The Armenians? Asli Aydintasbas, 12.26.08,
It's almost a miracle, but I have somehow managed to avoid the "Armenian issue" throughout my journalism career. I never wrote a single column on it, even throughout the various diplomatic rows between Turkey and Armenia on whether or not the tragic events of 1915 were genocide.
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During the time I covered Washington for a Turkish paper, I stayed a dispassionate reporter as the Armenian Diaspora tried year after year to pass various U.S. congressional resolutions condemning the 1915 events--and Ankara lobbied hard to ward these off.

The truth was, undeniably bad things happened in the Eastern provinces of the declining Ottoman Empire in 1915, but I had no idea whether or not they "amounted to" genocide.

Depending on whom you believe, 500,000 or 1.5 million Armenians were either forcibly deported or coldly massacred, either during the chaos of a civil war or by an organized state campaign. The Armenians in turn either killed thousands of Muslim Turks in an effort to establish an independent homeland, or they were fighting a civil war of liberation.

I am not trying to make light of the fact that this was a horribly painful episode, leading to the death of thousands of innocents. But today's discussion is largely semantic--"genocide or not?"

While most Turks are taught in schools that killing happened "on both sides" and do not believe their Ottoman ancestors committed the g-word, Armenians in the tiny modern Caucasus republic have built their national identity on the pain of genocide. It is to them what the Jewish Holocaust is to Israelis.
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But the reason I have so far avoided the topic was not because of an inability to face the past, but because I felt I never could do justice to the mountains of books, memoirs and historic archives arguing one side or the other. After all, plenty of Turkish, Armenian, American and French historians dedicated lifetimes to this debate.

I, on the other hand, lacked that kind of attention span. At school, we were taught that the "so-called genocide" charge was trumped up by the Armenian diaspora because it was their raison d'être. Friends and family mostly seemed to think the Ottomans had committed some sort of "ethnic cleansing," but that it wasn't genocide. (Legally speaking, "war crimes" and "ethnic cleansing" do not necessarily mean genocide, the most heinous of all crimes against humanity.)

During the time I lived abroad, I encountered plenty of Armenian resentment toward Turkey, but then again, I thought, "What's new?" After all, neighboring Greeks, Kurds, Iranians, Arabs and some Europeans often seemed to hate Turkey, too! (Being the descendants of an imperial people is overrated on the karmic scale.)

But not everyone in Turkey is willing to go with the type of "strategic ignorance" I have been carefully practicing on the Armenian issue. Recently, a group of 200 Turkish intellectuals signed an online petition "apologizing" to Armenians for their suffering at the hands of Ottoman forces during the First World War.

It reads: "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them." The name of the Web site translated into English is "weapologize.com."

Even with no mention of genocide, the short text hit a raw nerve with the Turkish public. Politicians lined up to condemn the initiative, while a group of academics and retired diplomats issued a counter-declaration, denying charges of genocide and asking for the Armenians to apologize for the murder of 38 Turkish diplomats in the 1970s by Armenian terrorists seeking revenge. "I find it unreasonable to apologize when there is no crime," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Spinoff Web sites are full of nationalist fervor.

In clogged Istanbul traffic, an irate driver gave me his unsolicited view: "Excuse me, miss, but now they want to apologize to Armenians. I am a Muslim expelled from the Balkans when the empire collapsed. My family was annihilated. We lost all land and property and took refuge in Turkey. Who will apologize to me?"

Another unsolicited response came over e-mail from the lady who had recently decorated our home: "I have no idea whom else we are supposed to apologize to. The Anzacs for the Gallipoli? The Greek, British, and Italian soldiers for having liberated our homeland [in 1923] from their invasion? Does anyone remember there were two sides to this conflict?"

I ran into a senior diplomat at a funeral and he told me that neither the apology nor the counter-declaration rang the right tone. "They are both extreme positions and would encourage extremists on both sides." In Turkey, the apology certainly created a backlash, while in Armenia, it is likely to encourage those who want to seek compensation and land from Turkey.

So incendiary has the apology been that the Turkish President Abdullah Gül had to withdraw his initial support for the statement when he was accused of having Armenian blood. And Turkey's military issued a statement condemning the apology, suggesting it would torpedo any possibility of rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia.

It is difficult to tell if the online petition has actually lifted a taboo or reinforced it. For starters, Turks are never good at apologizing. With no exposure to Oprah and psycho-babble, anger is preferable to soul-searching in much of the Middle East. But even most liberal Turks I know hate the idea of an apology to Armenians, partly because it tacitly admits to genocide--something the majority do not believe happened.

Of course Turkey needs to face its past and have a more open debate on the Armenian issue. But do you begin with an apology? I fear this would foment enough anger on both sides of the border to just about block any meaningful dialogue.

Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was assassinated by Turkish nationalists after he labeled the 1915 events a genocide. On the Armenian side, there are politicians who still have hopes of reclaiming land. In both countries, there is a potential climate of violence and, until that abates, an apology will just incite more trouble.

I wish the petition Web site said everything that it did, but had stopped short of an apology. It would have more appeal here in Turkey. Rome was not built in a day and bridges between nations cannot be either.

Turks and Armenians have a long way to go in overcoming hatred, and certainly setting history straight will have to be part of that process. But apology is not the beginning. Friendship, something we lacked for almost a century, is.

If I could have my own petition, I would say to Armenians, "Friends, I feel your pain and am sorry for not recognizing it before. Let's leave aside semantics for now and just meet." And then wait for what they had to tell me.

Asli Aydintasbas is an Istanbul-based journalist and former Ankara bureau chief of the newspaper Sabah.

Posted by manuelv | 12/26/08
It is gratifying to see that just as there were Turks who risked their lives to save Armenians during the Genocide there are Turks in Turkey prepared to do the same now, be it after 90 years during which anyone talking about it was charged with treason or even worse. It was not just Armenians who were massacred on mass under the cover of the first world war - out of approx 500,000 Assyrians (who also claim Genocide) there are now only 3,000 living in Turkey, Greeks as well as other Christian minorities were also eliminated from Turkey, Armeinans being targeted specifically as the most entrenched minority in Ottoman Turkey. While Turkey is changing, and has already changed from only a few years ago when even Kurds were not Kurds, but 'Mountain Turks' and schools not allowed to teach Kurdish - it still has a long way to go before it is worthy of joining the EU.

The Armenian Genocide issue is as much about Turkey and its ability to come to terms with lack of free speech and human rights as it is about viewing its tainted history objectively.

Posted by Khach | 12/26/08
Unfortunately the apology and being polite is not part of the culture in middle east.
Also there is a believe in Turkey the they have to give some land back to Armenians if they admit the Genocide. If you talk privately with Turks, they never deny it. They just think they have to deny publicly to avoid consequences.

On the bright side the Armenian president just announced gratitude to Turkey for the help they got during the earthquake.

System Security And Information Security Of Armeniancy Gagik Terteryan, "Noravank" Foundation 25 December 2008
The information factor within the current period has acquired a crucial role in nearly all fields of personal, communal, governmental, and national activities. It is the management of information that makes it possible to monitor and duly register the rapidly changing world events. Diverse information activities and wars today moved into a political plane, having become one of the most important instruments of world politics, economics and ideology. With regard to the system security of Armeniancy, this new political information situation carries a hazardous challenge as well as new opportunities. However, those urgent questions of the information domain of Armeniancy remained unheeded by the scientific analytical community. As of today, it is quite evident that there are too few conceptual approaches, while in practical applications we often trail our competitors.

Information security of Armeniancy. It is difficult to refute the fact that the development and competitive level of nations, states and civilizations is unambiguously stipulated by their concept of national security (NS) at the ideological level. According to experimental approaches, the concept of national security is represented by three components: military and political security, socioeconomic security, and information security (IS). Those components are interconnected, and 0D each of those, in their turn, is also a unity of similarly interconnected components. In particular, the concept of IS includes not only the problems of security of technical information systems, but everything concerning the domains of civilization, culture, spiritual life, psychology, mentality, cognitive structure, and organization. It can be stated that the concept of IS is a little more directly than other NS components associated with personal, general, and national factors.

Evidently, the Armenian IS system has to include the series of information problems related to the International Armeniancy, rather than only those of Armenia (which informationally is constituted by RA, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, and Javakhk). Let us also note that "The Strategy of National Security" is a document adopted in RA. This docoument lists two client entities of national security: Armenia and Armeniancy [1]. Thus, the structures ensuring IS (Information Security) of Armenia and Armeniancy, are naturally interconnected and supported at least by mutual complement, while at a higher level by the principle of synergetics (mutual amplification).

It is also to be noted that the problems of Armenia's Information domain are more or less formulated. However, one can assume that if the experimentally substantiated executive and legislative resolutions are adopted, then it will be possible to set up an efficient system of Armenia's=2 0IS and to improve the information aspect of the not-so-favorable situation [2; 3, p. 3; 4, p. 1]. Generating the Panarmenian system, is undoubtedly a complex but a fully realistic problem. However, the capabilities and problems existing in the Information domain of Armeniancy from the specialized viewpoint have not even been classified.

Capabilities and Problems of Armeniancy within the context of IS. From the viewpoint of system information there are the following crucial favorable factors:

The concept of Home Country and the existence of two Armenian states: RA and Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (RNK).

Original Armenian civilization and its general concept.

The reality and memory of Genocide, and the problem of HI DAT (Armenian Judgment).

Integrating relations of RA and RNK, military and political processes with regard to Azerbaijan and Turkey, and their interrelations.

The latter two factors today have become a component of the global politics, which is a favorable factor from the viewpoint of information integration of Armeniancy. It is to be noted that the latter point is actually a contemporary reflection of Hi Dat. However, today many of the expert community think that the mentioned strategic factors from the viewpoint of Armeniancy organization are still insufficient, while new concepts and projects are needed, consonant with the new logic of the contemporary world that would stipulate the processes of organizing Armeniancy.

0ATo establish the IS system of Armeniancy, the development of contemporary information and communication technologies must be regarded as a crucial positive factor. The capabilities of this domain will be considered later.

As a favorable trend one has also to admit the adoption of International and particularly European convensions with regard to national minorities. They can assist the Armenian communities within the legislative framework of a given country improving the national information domain.

At the same time, the matter of creating the IS system of Armeniancy encountered serious problems. Let us try to classify them:

The number of Armenians abroad are twice the population of Armenia, i.e., providing the Armeniancy with information, is only numerically a larger problem than the one in Armenia.

Armeniancy is divided into different sections, with regard to linguistic and religious features, the problem concerns not only the Islamized Armenians of Turkey, but also our numerous compatriots living in different countries, speaking many languages and confessing diverse religions. From the point of view of information integration, this situation is a serious communicative and psychological barrier.

Geographically, Armeniancy is sprawled in about 100 countries, that can be classified along the following civilizational belts [5, 6].

Armenia (the special territory of Armenian civilization).

The belt of Slavic Orthodox civilization, to be emphasized here is the post-Soviet territory and not to be ignored are the countries claiming the legacy of Byzantium (like Greece).

The Anglo-American political domain (embracing the so-called English-speaking countries USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, etc.).

The belt of European civilization The territory of Islamic (Asian) civilization (primarily the countries of Near and Middle East).

The Latin (Catholic) political domain, countries of South America, Spain, etc.

The abovementioned civilizations have exerted a certain influence upon the world outlook of different areas of Armeniancy, upon their psychological, cultural, political and socioeconomic bearings, putting forward serious problems of communicative nature. It is also evident that inside the large civilizations Armeniancy is not homogeneous either. Let us try to make a comparison, e.g., between the world outlooks of the Armenians residing in post-Soviet Siberia and Moldova.

It is to be noted that the unfavorable factors presented, certainly present serious challenges for the Armeniancy. At the same time, the current situation also contains opportunities, viz.: the capability of the Armeniancy sectors to communicate with representatives of diverse civilizations has to be perceived as an additional resource in the world under globalization1 to ensure the vital functions and compatibility of the Nation (incidentally, this type of capabilities is accessible to very few nations). Thus, different sections of Armeni ancy carry certain functional consignment, and, using a contemporary term, play the role of special "gates to the global world" [7]. Certainly, this concept assumes not only the case of Armenia, for which Diaspora is an asymmetric resource2 providing the capabililties for operating within the global environment. Different sections of Armeniancy also provide one another with asymmetric capabilities of gates to global world.

However, besides the abovementioned problems partly deriving from national features, the system information of Armeniancy hides other challenges.

The Global Development. Information Wars and Armeniancy It is common knowledge that the number of independent states has recently grown, and this is an ongoing process. However, according to expert predictions, part of existing nations and states in the strategic perspective may well have to lose its ethnic and political autonomy, to become passive members of International politics. These tendencies are being delineated in Europe.

This problem is urgent, particularly for big nations and states, which do not command resourses necessary for maintaining the autonomy, particularly those of the information domain. It is to be noted in this connection that today autonomy among other things is threatened by publicly-uncontrolled global chaotic data streams. Parallel to that, a loss of autonomy or modification can be one of the following: the so-called Nation Building containinig 0D elements of technology designed for technological assaults using manipulative propaganda. A series of targeted information actions has acquired the name of Information Wars, whose conceptual terminology had been developed by the American RAND brain trust.O~I The purpose of information wars in particular is "in a complex way to influence the Aggressor's national system and his leadership; that can result in the enemy taking decisions in favor of the initiator of the information war".

One can quote many instances showing Armenia and Armeniancy to be the target of information war3. It is also to be noted that still more dangerous for Armeniancy today are information wars of the second generation, intending specifically to achieve the following objectives in the Aggressor's society or state [8, p. 29]:

Developing immoral, non-spiritual atmosphere and negative attitude with regard to own cultural legacy.

Dissemination of uncertainty and doubt, among parties sharpening the political relations and incitement to mutual destruction.

International defamation of state and nation, hurting their interaction.

Inflicting damage on the political, economic, defense interests and other vital domains of state and nation.

As is seen, the second-generation information wars emphasize the crucial character of the spiritual and ideological factors. It is to be noted in this connection that the mentioned items can be seen in the present-day s o-called colored revolutions, it was particularly observed by Armeniancy in 2008 in the developments associated with the RA Presidential Election. It can be assumed that what happened was the classical case of the information wars of the new generation, when the Aggressor's party resolved its on-hand objectives particularly disseminating uncertainty and intolerance amidst the different sections of Armeniancy4.

It is common knowledge that to counter the information wars or to acquire the first-strike capability in information war, specific information resources are needed. We shall estimate those resources with regard to the generation of the Information Security of Armeniancy.

Resources OF Armeniancy. Classification OF National Resources and Their Assessment is a crucial function of the system of national and particularly information security. It is for this reason that with no claims for a universal examination we shall try to present a succinct and schematic sketch of the available strategic resources of Armeniancy and their assessment with regard to Information Security.

Resources pertaining to the political, i.e., national, spiritual or cultural domains, Technological: this term denotes human, intellectual, creative, scientific, technical and purely information and news media resources.

Material or production, trading, financial or enterprising capabilities.

Capacity for establishing the organizational, i.e. self-organizing, structures needed for vital functions, (including state and community, political, public, economic, national institutions etc.), securing interaction among those structures and thereby implementing functions and programs aimed at protecting the national interests.

Let us briefly review the mentioned resources:

Armeniancy is unambiguously an autonomous carrier of the values of Armenian civilization, being thus in full command of the political resources (see, particularly, [6, 9, C. 3]).

The technological resources are at a nearly satisfactory level, however, to be taken into account is that they are rather scarce and unaccounted for (which is also an urgent organizational issue). The human resources of Armeniancy, 9 to 12m., according to some sources (see [10, 11]), are comparatively not large, as intellectual, creative5 or purely information resources, they are not well listed or regularly accounted for (about 2-5 thousand Armenian sites in the Internet6, wherein the continuously growing number of sites reaches 110 million).

Perhaps also quite satisfactory but still unaccounted for are the material resources (the Armenian assets worldwide is estimated at a few hundred billion dollars).

As shown by observations, the system resources are definitely unsatisfactory: Armeniancy, as we have discovered, has certain problems associated with management (suffice it to note that an Armenian system concept today is inexistent).

As is seen, in the way of survival and competition resources Armenia ncy has a special status. There is an impression that having certainly mastered the civilizational resources, and seemingly being on satisfactory terms with the technological and finantial resources, the status of Armeniancy worldwide could have been better, and the financial situation could have been better as well. The response to this situation, is clearly related to the system resources. It is easy to see that the different resources presented are interlinked, so that an omission in system operation will limit or impair the productivity of functions in other domains.

Perhaps, there is no need to expand on the significance of the systemic factor, it is manifest that a high level of system organization will bring about successful operation even when other resources are low, while a low level of systemic functions will result in operational failures in systems hosting enormous amounts of resources. Armeniancy has certainly been provided with some system-organizing capabililties, otherwise, the millennia of its history would never have taken place. It would be proper to recall the successful outcome in the face-off in Kharabakh, according to expert assessments, it happened in the first place due to the advantages of a systemic and technological character.

However, the impression is that in non-extreme situations Armeniancy oftentimes shows a certain unconcern, thus negatively affecting the information domain of Armeniency and its systemic fu nctions. This situation will perhaps in the first place require a clarification and possibly adjustment of the Armeniancy Information problems, and only then an attempt may follow to resolve those objectives with regard to their systemic aspects.

The Information Domain of Armeniancy. Systemic Problems. According to our model, among the multiple problems of the domain, priority should be given to the following:

Assessment of the Armeniancy Information Resourses and formation of the new ones, their constructive and safe usage, system development.

Supplying to Armaniancy the imformed awareness with regard to Armenia and Armeniancy, constructing the necessary stocks to carry out the information policies.

With regard to the national interests of Armeniency.

domestic Armenian and outside propaganda/anti-propaganda conceptual and technological development and practical implementation, making up the mutually completing images, their introduction into consciousness, Implementation of political, scientific, educational and other pan-Armenian programs in the cognitive mechanisms of Armeniancy and other communal entities.

Application of contemporary information policies in resolving problems of Armeniancy in politics, culture, economy, and other domains.

Conceptual development of the pan-Armenian Information Network Center as an organizing system, to effect the formation of an integral Information domain.

To successfully implement the initial three points, it is necessary to establish t he International Information structures that will particularly build up multi-language sites on Armenia and Armeniancy as well as other information structures, study of the dispersion-possessing nations and their information experience, collection of information banks and undertaking a variety of enterprises.

As to point 4, the contemporary information policy, it is to be noted that in the world under globalization, resulting from information technologies being developed and spread, in politics important roles started to be acquired not only by state structures, but also by organizations and even individuals. That is to say, non-state-run structures: communities, public and political structures, are capable to conduct specific policies. The information policies of this type can be effected, in particular, using the following methods[12]:

Cyberpolitics. According to David Rotkopf, the person who coined this term (1998), the development of information technologies resulted in the traditional political entities or states, had lost their monopoly to knowledge (information). In the past only specific structures and diplomats knew what was going on in specific parts of the world, while today a rank-and-file Internet user can be equally in control of this information, and may consequently have a certain role to play in the information-political processes.

Knowledge-based politics. John Arkil and David Ronfeld in 1999 wrote on the falling role of the state, noti ng that the new political entities, International organizations, the Media, transnational economic partnerships, terrorist and criminal structures have aquired the knowledge and information resources, enabling them to conduct independent policies in the global information field.

Media-policies. This term was put into circulation by Lee Edwards in 2001, to show that the Internet and TV had become the most important factors of politics. They play a substantial role in shaping the foreign and domestic policies, drawing the attention of the public or the authorities to specific matters.

To be added to the information policies is another term and concept, i.e. mobile policy: The latter expresses a great expansion of the mobile or cellular phones, the so-called third screen (after TV and computer), and the development of their technical capabilities. The users of those phones (reaching over a billion today) can receive, process and transmit text, sound and images in a dynamic mobile mode, regardless of location or geographic coordinates). Mobile Policies today have become an important business, both domestic (cf. Arab-Israeli face-off [13, C. 3]), and foreign (note the developments of 2008 in connection with the RA Presidential Elections, when demonstrators' actions were system-adjusted mostly through SMS messages): Mobile technologies today also play an important role in the process of socioeconomic network formation.

The fifth point of the systemic organization problems of Armeniancy: Information Network Center (INC) the organizational system conceptual development to be used for generating the Integrated Information Field of Armeniancy is to be regarded as the strategic supertask. This evaluation is stipulated by the following considerations:

In the modern world Information System Organization is considered perfect.

The elements of Network Center, being decentralized, but having a great level of autonomy and extensive capabilities to act in a productive way, are placed in an integrated information field, a network, having a joint management and purposes. In particular, the Network Center format has a great stability: When one of the system components shows a malfunction, the others, by virtue of a high degree of self-control continue their targeted action. It is to be noted that the different modifications of the INC are adopted by US and other states, as, in particular, as the organizing principle of their Armed Forces [14]. According to some studies, this type of networking process may result in generating a collective intellect enabling estremely difficult solutions to be obtained for problems irresolvable by individual persons [15, C. 142]: some scholars think that the future global world will be organized as a series of network structures [16, pg. 3].

The modern information age enables not only states, but also various organizations to generate network sys tems, and in this aspect, the strategic application of INC must be extremely productive with regard to Armeniancy. Which will in particular enable to make a full-range use of nation-wide political, scientific, engineering, cultural and economic projects.

We shall note that Armeniancy in the historic past used to be in control of the network system techniques, while today using the principle of network center acting are Armenian Apostolic Church, Armenian Revolutionary Union, Armenian Benevolent General Union, the Giulbenkyan Institution and other national organizations. Those structures have certainly made enormous contributions to the preservation of Armeniancy. It is however to be noted that among the mentioned structures sometimes lacking is a positive data feedback. At the same time, to be considered as an omission of the Armeniancy structures is the situation that it is not always that they make use of the contemporary systemic techniques, while their ideas of national interests often do not coincide with expert evaluations.

The mentioned unfavorable factors are certainly of a systemic character being an additional evidence showing that not strictly defined yet to date are the systemic principles of Armeniancy and the national interests. That is to say, for the system of Armenian Information Network Center it is necessary to develop conceptual and ideological approaches. That will enable the system vitality and stabililty to be preser ved even in case of the control center's elimination, since the rest of the system elements will continue to be active on the basis of conceptual and ideological postulations and fundamentals of control techniques.

Considering the mentioned realities, we shall discuss several of the possible of the INC systems of Armeniancy associated with certain varieties of scenarios theoretically awaiting Armenia. In particular, we shall schematically consider including other multiple theoretical variations, the following two extreme and one intermediate scenarios.

"Virtual Armenia" Nuclear-Ecological Disaster. The Iran-US, Israel stand-off results in a regional nuclear war, triggering an ecological disaster in Armenia as a neighboring state of Iran. Scientific forecasting of nuclear war aftermaths has a 60-year-old history, we shall present the latest one. According to a research conducted at Colorado University, blasting 50 nuclear bombs in a local conflict (not exceeding the Hiroshima explosion) will produce an ozone hole killing 50m. people, i.e., approximately the amount of people killed in WWII7. It can be assumed that this type of disaster will make the area of the present-day Armenia uninhabitable.

A Military-Political Disaster In the wake of certain geo-political events and military developments RA and NKR are subjected to a large-scale Turkish-Azeri invasion and a long-time occupation.

Consequences By any of the scenarios presented, the Armeni an states are terminated, while the present day area of Armenia is de-Armenized. Under those circumstances, there will be perhaps a re-distribution of Armeniancy in other countries, while Armenia, after a certain period of time, will assimilate an idea of an uninhabited, virtual homeland.

Note that presented here are several seemingly improbable but theoretically possible scenarios of basic threats to Armenia's security. In case of this development the tasks of Armeniancy preservation and systemic organization can be implemented exclusively by means of generating an INC system. Under the current conditions the survival of the system can be basically guaranteed, perhaps when several information control centers operate in parallel, not any one of those being prevalent over the others.

Those centers are to be controlled using the principles of integrated national ideology representing the concept of Armeniancy's security. In order to maintain operational efficiency, the mentioned system centers are to operate jointly to generate positive feedback (i.e., mutual amplification) between the elements of the system. This type of joint operation and the relevant systems are commonly classified as non-linear.

"Mighty Armenia".This scenario assumes the following developments: resulting from the geopolitical disturbances and developments, Armenia rehabilitates her territorial integrity, while Armeniancy is concentrated in this new and mighty state. This is possible, particularly, under the following circumstances:

Turkey is involved in a large-scale war against one or several of its neighbors (e.g., Iraq, Armenia, Greece).

An unlucky outcome of war for Turkey results in intensified interethnic clashes: the struggle conducted by the Kurds is joined by other national minorities: Armenians, Greeks, et al., i.e., so-called autonomy crisis transgresses into practical military and political dimensions.

The mentioned processes sharpen relations among diversely politically oriented groupings inside Turkey, eventually resulting in political clashes.

The state and society crisis takes a chaotic and uncontrollable character.

Armenia and Armeniancy (maybe also other stake-holder states) benefit from the situation in Turkey, stipulating the fragmentation of that country and a sizeable rehabilitation of Armenia's territorial integrity. Implemented as the next step is concentration of Armeniancy in a part of historical area, thus generating a powerful state of Armenia.

However, even the Mighty Armenia capable of housing the overwhelming part of Armeniancy, must strive to having small but efficient communities in developed countries. However, Even if Armenia is transformed into the supreme center of Armeniancy, all the same, the tendency should remain to retain the traditionoal resources of Armeniancy, granting them status of specific missions. To be generated within this variant is a classical INC system of an Arme nia center for organizing Armeniancy, with the control mainly effected from one center.

"Developed Armenia" This scenario assumes conceptual, but linearly developed Armenia in the strategic future. Assumed in this connection are the following situations:

Armenia, aided by Armeniancy, state resources, as well as allied and partner countries, has acquired guarantees of military security, possibly integrated into International economy, started the process of re-populating the liberated areas.

Developed Armenia becomes very attractive for Armeniancy, the Armenia-to-Armeniancy relationships assume a regulated character, generation is started of an integrated information field.

The presented developments are very realistic, and perhaps even mandatory, since in case of an undeveloped Armenia generation of an INC system of Armeniancy becomes a matter of great complexity.

There is no doubt that the Developed Armenia, hosting the overwhelming part of the national systemic resources, will represent the most organized part of Armeniancy. As a result, this type of state in the INC system will acquire an important role. At the same time, a considerable part of national technological and material resources remain in possession of Armeniancy residing in other countries and zones of civilization, as well as in the hands of the Armenians also active in other systemic formats, that is to say, those fragments of Armeniancy can also play an advanced par t in the INC system of Armeniancy.

Thus, in case of the Developed Armenia, from the point of view of information system, Armeniancy poses, compared to the two previous scenarios, in an intermediate position. This type of intermediate system has to combine in itself both the non-linear (dispersed), and the classical (Armenia-centered) INC concepts.

Some conclusions. At the present moment the capabililty of hosting information and its efficient and targeted usage has become a crucial criterion of surviving and competitive characteristics of the nations. In the case of Armeniancy raising the significance of information is at the same time a source of hazardous challenge and new oportunities. It can be seen that in order to resist challenges and to use the oportunities it is necessary to host diverse national resources and primarily concepts on national/information security problems. At the same time, despite hosting the civilizational, technological and material resources, Armeniancy has certain problems in the systemic domain. In this context deserving special attention are theoretical development and practical application of the information-organizational system of the National Network Center. This type of system seems to meet the interests of the scattered Armeniancy and particularly enables applications to be envisaged of the forthcoming strategies using the modern techniques of information policies.

Postcards With The Pictures Of Armenian Historic-Cultural Centers Of Turkey AZG Armenian Daily 25/12/2008 Turkey
An exclusive exhibition of postcards will be held in Armenia in January 2009.

The exhibition will tell about the Armenian contribution and historic-cultural centers in Turkey, which are presented today as Turkish.

Publisher-editor of the exhibition, Turkish Osman Kiorker told "Armenpress" that the exhibition embraces more than 2000 postcards that are detached from 6000 samples belonging to Italian (Armenian by half) Orlando Kalimeno.

The postcards depict Armenian churches, relics, monuments, many constructions belonging to Armenians, including hotels that have Armenian engravings proving their Armenian origin.

Etyen Mahçupyan @todayszaman When Society Slips Away
The declaration of apology, which has attracted the attention and support of people from various backgrounds, has made state circles visibly uncomfortable.

However, it is only natural that a significant part of the Turkish population holds similar views with regard to a historical process over which almost the entire world is in agreement in terms of the notions to be used in describing it. Therefore, it was not the presence of this sort of approach that made the state uncomfortable and upset. I should note that many people in the past have made harsher statements than the content of this declaration. Besides, an ordinary man traveling around Anatolia may observe that our citizens are more relieved now and are rid of the ideological pressure of the official discourse with regard to the 1915 events.

Turkey is changing, and this change points to the emergence of a new mindset. In this way, a historical rhetoric that has never been questioned but whose inaccuracy has become obvious is being abandoned. It is impossible for the government not to notice this new environment because they should know better how their voters have changed. So how can we explain the stance and reaction of the prime minister and the Foreign Ministry, with which we are familiar, having heard them from the General Staff and other circles that make flawed intellectual statements, such as university senates? Besides, such reactions came after President Gül's true guidance in this matter when he was asked about the campaign.

Should we assume that all members of this administration have no knowledge at all about the past? I think the problem is being restricted by political considerations rather than a lack of knowledge. There are two interrelated reasons behind these reactions. First, the government is concerned about losing the moral advantage in its relations with Armenia because the declaration of apology inevitably raises the bar and takes the issue to the conscience of society rather than being a matter of discussion between nation-states. It is not impossible to produce accurate policies in bilateral relations by making reference to power. Such approaches will remain ineffective in the formation of a functional policy as they will be weak in terms of legitimacy. In other words, it seems that the apology declaration increases the burden of the government vis-à-vis Armenia. It is now only natural that the step awaited by the world from Turkey will include such a conscience.

However, the state does not want this, and the government now knows the state well. This declaration, issued right before the elections at a time when the government was at peace with the state, was perceived as some sort of blockage because it made the administration ambivalent between world opinion and the state and narrowed its sphere of action. The subsequent interference by diplomats and the military prevented the government from returning to a more balanced and objective style and action. In such a way, a state solidarity emerged with respect to this issue.

The other reason for the prime minister's reaction is the impact of the narrowing sphere of action in foreign policy-making on internal politics before the elections. The only sphere where the AK Party remains successful is foreign policy, and everyone is focused on how relations with Armenia will work. The government is unable to take steps aimed at reform in domestic politics because it is aware that subsequent steps will not follow. But this is not the case in foreign policy: Positive steps in relations with Armenia may especially make the government prestigious again in the eyes of the EU. However, developments after the apology declaration will jeopardize the likelihood that the government will use the coming months for this purpose. The government, which seems to be the most reform-minded actor in the country, is now well behind a few people who are making this attempt. This implies that the AK Party government is also losing the Western world.

On the other hand, there is one thing that government authorities have straight: The opposition in Turkey now has the opportunity to deadlock Armenian politics because nationalist opposition to the apology declaration may easily be manipulated and mobilized; the AK Party cannot consider dealing with such a reaction before the elections.

There is one thing that is pretty obvious: The declaration of apology seriously undermined the government's ability to act freely against the West as an administration that fails to enact domestic reforms. But this is how an open society looks. No society can ever determine the dosage and direction of change by considering the state's priorities or opinions. The function of politics is to sense and comprehend this change. If you wait for the state's action and reflexes, you will sometimes miss society.
26 December 2008,

Beril Dedeoğlu @todayszaman.com Turkey Discussing
For a week now, Turkey has been the scene of debates regarding three texts.

These are: the "Apology to Armenians" campaign, "Being Different in Turkey: Alienation on the Axis of Religion and Conservatism," a joint study by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and Boğaziçi University, and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) report, "A Roadmap for the Solution of the Kurdish Question: Policy Suggestions to the Government from the Region."

Although this came about unintentionally, the simultaneous release of these three texts is very good because each of these debates gives us the opportunity to consider authoritarianism, violence, discrimination and inequality in a different way. The apology campaign involves considering the pains suffered and caused in the past as part of a social conscience, showing empathy and, at the same time, settling an account with the political regime and system. In its present form, the campaign has made possible the identification of those who are in favor of authoritarianism and subsuming differences, allowed us to question today a mentality that has roots in the past and reminded us what the total cost of intolerance in society can be. Naturally, one person's loss became another person's gain; this campaign disturbs many by calling them to account for this gain and demanding, at the same time, the socialization of the costs and benefits.

Basically, the second study also measures the behaviors and attitudes in Turkey toward differences, but from another angle. Here, what is being examined is whether those who are not pious, those who prefer to remain outside conservative life and those who belong to other religions or ethnicities are subject to oppression by public authorities and the social environment in Anatolia. Or rather, what is being implied is the impact of the Sunni-nationalist majority on others. Although it is a contentious study, which has been criticized with regard to its methodology, its findings are important and need to be considered. The study reminds us of -- although it does not prove -- the possibility that discrimination toward non-Muslims can be applied to every group with a different lifestyle. In its present form, it tells us about the probability that intolerance could be transformed to the point of violence, and it actually fits well within the same framework of the "apology campaign."

The third study, on the other hand, is more of a report on policy suggestions than an examination of the current situation and is built on the main points commonly shared by Kurds in southeastern Anatolia. The study warns about the environment created by discriminatory practices and cautions that a point could be reached that may engender conflict. It has been shown that conflict and "othering" practices serve no aim other than to strengthen authoritarian and ethnic nationalist movements on all sides and that this promotes violence. Consequently, the most basic proposals are made within a context under which violence and arms are given up by all parties. When the tools of violence have been given up, the study says, the government has to take social, political, cultural and economic measures, while Kurds should develop soft policies within their political diversity. In other words, it is shown that when the system uses democratic methods, this would also contribute to the democratization of the Kurds.

The "Muslim-non-Muslim," "Sunni-Alevi" and "Kurdish-Turkish" disparities are historical problems for Turkey. These problems, ingrained in the country's social fabric, have also constituted the core of its political regimes. It is, therefore, natural that such kinds of studies would stir up a storm because, on the one hand, people find the opportunity to question discrimination they themselves have been involved in or have been silent in the face of, while, on the other, people have the chance to observe the flaws of the system in which we live.

Many have said that reforms in Turkey have slowed down, but reforms are not only legislative changes prepared by governments and approved by Parliament.

27 December 2008

Dear Ambassadors Ayhan Aktar Taraf, Dec 22 2008
I had ended one of my articles on the Armenian issue this way: "let's not forget, we are the only nation in the world whose national hymn starts with "Korkma!" (in English "Don't be afraid!"). To courageously get over the fears that have made us who we are is a subject that we must first convince ourselves of before anyone else... Once we accomplish this, I think we'll be mature enough to be able to calmly discuss everything, including the Armenian massacre.

The apology campaign that was started by some who listen to the voice of their conscience demonstrated that we are still hostages to our fears. In the text of the apology, the word "Genocide" was not mentioned. Those who signed it did it on their own behalf; they did not put any responsibility on the state. But the result was the same: those who signed were publicly accused of "national treason". The website of the apology campaign was torpedoed when the number of signatories reached 13,500. In 2005, a similar reaction was shown to the "Armenian Conference", which was called the "Genocide Conference". Likewise, the apology campaign was stranded with immature calls branding the signatories "some traitors who are accepting the Genocide".

Just like every time the Armenian issue has been discussed discussed, this time also our team of retired ambassadors filled up the TV screens, as one talk-show called "Etiler" looked like a retirement home. Our ambassadors "straightened us out" with anguished faces. They also prepared a "counter-statement", reminding us that signing the apology text is betrayal to the memory of the victims of ASALA attacks.

Why our diplomats, most of whom worked mostly in 1973-1986, went crazy is not difficult to understand. It's like watching a Turkish version of "The Godfather" movie. But instead of a Sicilian family, we have a group of retired Turkish ambassadors aged between 65 & 85. They reminded us of the due vendetta of their lost colleagues. What's this talk of conscience, apology, and sharing pain? As the citizens of the Republic of Turkey, we were supposed to be the demanders of revenge, even the executers. What's this talk of improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations? Our apology could not be more important than their vendetta.

It was during the years that these retired ambassadors were on diplomatic duty that Turkey's official thesis was formed. When our first diplomat was shot in Los Angeles in 1973, it became possible to say the following: "Yes, scary things happened in 1915. A part of Anatolian Armenians was killed by the Special Organization brigands (TeÅ~_kilatı Mahsusa) that were formed by the Committee of Union and Progress (Ä°ttihat Terakki komitesi). We are saddened by the events that took place, and we apologize! But you know, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923. You can't hold us responsible for the events that took place in the Ottoman Empire! Even Ataturk had called the events 'fazahat' (shameful act) in the Turkish parliament. The Union and Progress was against the Turkish National Struggle in the years 1919-1922. They tried to assassinate Ataturk in Izmir". But now, it's already too late to say any of these.

Instead of adopting a humane approach like written above, they made up weak arguments such as "The Armenians rebelled, and we deported them from the Eastern provinces. They died on the way from the cold and typhoid. No massacre took place!" Most of these ambassadors now on TV, had advised firmness and refusal of an agreement back in their days.

None of them thought "What on Earth are we doing? Why are we defending the massacres of the Ottoman Empire, when we ourselves have buried its Sultanate, its Caliphate, its "Tekke", its medrese (Islamic school), and even its alphabet?". Or maybe they could not openly say it. Not a single diplomat resigned because of this reason! They could not match the many American diplomats who resigned after finding Bush's Iraq policy to be wrong. Unfortunately, our diplomats fooled not only themselves but also society.

And now they're saying "you can't accuse us of Genocide". Mr. Ambassador, if such an accusation is taking place today, it is thanks to you! Ever since the 1970's, you formed this country's Armenian policy, not us! You distributed millions of dollars to lobbying firms. You stood up to the Armenian Genocide resolutions in the US Congress only with the help of the Jewish lobby. You tied Turkey's foreign policy to Israel. So, what have you accomplished? Let me tell you what: the parliaments of 19 countries, and three international organizations - including the European Parliament - have recognized the Armenian "Genocide". In other words, total defeat. Just don't resort to the "we couldn't propagate our thesis" excuse. Look at what you were trying to sell to the world!

Meanwhile, let me remind you that two retired ambassadors set a good example for today's young diplomats by signing the apology text. Ambassador Volkan Vural did not sign it but he publicly requested on TV "that the state apologize and give Turkish citizenship to the descendents of the survivors". I give these two ambassadors my respect.

As someone who has signed the apology text, I'm finishing my article with the testimony of Muftu (Mufti) Abdullahzâde Mehmet Effendi, who testified in Istanbul in 1919 in the case against Kemal Bey, the governor of Yozgat-Bogazlıyan who was accused of committing massacres:

"The men were being arrested and sent to exile, but where were they being sent? No one knew anything. Finally we heard that they were being murdered. After the men, the women and children were deported and killed. I was very sad because of these inhumane crimes. Kemal Bey noticed the situation and one day said to me "Mufti Effendi, why are you so sad? Are you more compassionate than the government?" I replied "No, I'm not sad. But I'm afraid of God's wrath" (Alemdar, 19 February 1919)

I bow with respect to the memory of the Mufti Abdullahzâde Mehmet Effendi!

  • Canan Aritman's Family Tree
  • Turkish Penguen satirical newspaper published a front page illustration of the conflict between the member of the CHP Canan Aritman to Turkish President Abdullah Gul on the origins of his mother.

    Recalling the context related to the petition of Turkish intellectuals asking forgiveness Armenians and the publication by Abdullah Gul of his family tree to prove that he was "Muslim and Turkish" the newspaper Penguen published the family tree of Canan Aritman in response.
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Comment: I hereby condemn the Penguen Magazine in its tasteless and offensive cover depicts me as Canan Aritman's Family Tree and completely ignores my immense benefits to the world. I'll be taking the magazine to court for financial and emotional damages.

    Log of Wood 24.Dec.2008, Ankara
    (IP Address Logged)
    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    The ’Armenian Apology’ Issue

    The "Apology to the Armenians" campaign that a group of well-known and influential Turkish intellectuals have initiated has seriously divided the nation. Judging by the angry reactions from various quarters opposing this campaign it is clear that if some kind of a referendum were held today, the majority would vote against such an apology.

    The reason is because the people that know the least about the events that lead to the tragedy of 1915 are contemporary Turks, who have been raised on large doses of official history.

    Official history in Turkey says that the Armenian rose up in arms, collaborated with the enemy, and therefore were the self-initiators of what befell them in a civil war that they lost.

    The fact that a "genocide" was perpetrated, however, is vehemently denied by the Turkish state, and a large portion of the population, their explanation being that people killed and were killed on both sides.

    However the shroud on 1915 has been slowly lifting in recent years in this country. There is today in Turkey an increasing body of literature on the Armenian issue, both for and against as far as the genocide debate is concerned.

    Few who castigate Turkey for denying the freedom of expression on the Armenian issue appear to be aware that you can even purchase the famous "Blue Book" on the events of 1915, co-authored by historian Arnold Toynbee, in bookshops.

    The campaign by the intellectuals is just the latest and most forward step in the direction of fully lifting this shroud over the Armenian issue. More and more Turks are coming around to understanding that "something very serious" happened a century ago in these lands.

    The signatories to the apology petition, whose number has reached over 23,500 as of yesterday, include diplomats, academics, journalists, actors, businessmen etc. The fact that they would be grossly outnumbered were a referendum to be held is, ultimately, of little consequence.

    It is the intellectuals in a society who represent the "quality" of that society, rather than the crowd that merely represents a "quantity." Therefore one cannot dismiss the campaign by the intellectuals as "irrelevant," as some in this country are doing.

    What is not clear is how this campaign will be received on the Armenian side. While some appear happy, the hard-core "Dashnak elements" are wary, considering this to be "a new Turkish ploy to drag attention away from the genocide, and the question of compensation."

    One has to understand that for many Armenians the concept of "justice for 1915" is synonymous with "vengeance for 1915." The reluctance on the Armenian side to respond to the Turkish intellectuals with any sign of empathy for the millions of Muslims that died during the same period, in the same geography, is also noteworthy.

    It is equally telling that no Armenian organization should have come out and displayed even an iota of empathy for the large number of Turkish diplomats and members of their families who died at the hands of Armenian terrorists.

    Had some Armenians done so, this would have strengthened the hand of the "Apology to the Armenians" campaign. Instead an angry debate is raging among Armenians about whether there should be a rapprochement with the Turks at all.

    The latest victim in this context appears to be Ara Sarafian, of the London based Gomidas Institute, who is being attacked by some members of the Armenian diaspora for "going Turk," due to some objective and reconciliatory remarks he has been making.

    The fact that the Turkish petition by the Turkish intellectuals empathizes with the "Great Tragedy" of 1915, rather than using the word "genocide," has also angered Armenians who refuse to see the important development that this step represents for Turkey and for Turkish-Armenian relations as far as for well-intentioned people on both sides are concerned.

    In fact, the campaign in question probably has more to do with the "post-modern civil war" that is raging in Turkey between liberal and democratic groups and the more atavistic and autocratic elements, than it has with the Armenian issue.

    In the meantime, the disgusting insinuation by Republican People’s Party, or CHP, deputy Canan Aritman, to the effect that President Gul did not oppose the intellectuals’ campaign strongly because his grandmother was a secret Armenian, also drove many to signing the petition.

    The simple fact is that the petition, which can be seen in www.ozurdiliyoruz.com, has turned out to be a powerful devise for people to avail of if they want the world to see which groups in this country they do not identify with, or belong to, in any way.

    This, of course, begs the question of whether I personally signed the petition, as many of my friends have done. I did not, even if I support the idea behind it, and explained my reasons why in my column in Milliyet. These I will repeat here.

    I completely agree with the first sentence of the petition. My conscience too does not accept a denial or a belittling of the "Great Tragedy" that befell the Armenian people in 1915. I stand opposed to everything that prevents us from learning everything there is to know about these events.

    I support the carrying of the objective facts acquired about these events to new generations so that "the lesson of history" may be learned and such ugliness not be repeated, wishful thinking as this may be.

    I do not, however, agree with the second part of the petition which wants me to come up "with my share of the apology" to the Armenians. I see nothing in my family history that should make me apologize personally, unlike of the signatories.

    Neither do I believe in the concept of "collective guilt" on the basis of race or religion, as this has dangerous connotations, and is an idea that should not be toyed with in these dangerous times.

    Besides, as one Western ambassador underlined very aptly recently, what is expected on the Armenian side is not the "personal apologies" of individual Turks, even if they act collectively.

    What is expected is that the "Turkish state" apologizes to the Armenians, the way Willy Brandt did to the Jews, in an act of "mea culpa." This I simply do not see happening any time soon.

    The campaign by the intellectuals, given the acrimonious debate it has stirred in Turkey, has probably made the state even more reluctant than ever not to come up with even a semblance of an apology, let alone a bona fide apology.

    It might arguably, therefore, have been more effective for the intellectuals to call on the Turkish state to recognize the events of "The Great Disaster of 1915," rather than perpetuating a policy of total denial.

    This does not mean, however, that this petition has been a useless exercise. It has, to the contrary, been very useful in terms of representing a fresh stepping stone in the process of Turkey’s maturation as a society.

    Semih İdiz © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Armenian Revolutionary Federation Marks 118th Anniversary Yerkir 25.12.2008 YEREVAN

    The Armenian Revolutionary Federation is marking its anniversary in many places all over the world. The 118th anniversary of the ARF and the 90th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic were celebrated at Yerevan's Gabriel Sundukian Theater on December 24. A documentary on the ARF's history was screened during the event.

    ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian said that during the 118 years, there were many changes in the approaches of Dashnaktsutyun, but one thing is unchanged: "the dedication to the people."

    The keynote speaker, ARF Supreme body of Armenia representative Armen Rustamian spoke chiefly about the party's activities in the past year. He said that past year will be remembered as a very active political year: presidential election, the shameful and tragic events of March 1, a new political coalition and government, war in our region, Armenian-Turkish communication after years of turmoil, activeness in Karabakh talks, the world crisis.

    "Realizing the seriousness of the challenges that the country is facing, we participated in the presidential election with a goal to create a civilized ideological and political competition, to contribute to the fact that with the election of a new president, the county would enter a stage of stable growth, avoiding turmoil," Armen Rustamian said. He added that the people, unfortunately, did not accept the Dashnaktsutyun alternative and chose to make an election between the old and the present. This resulted in turmoil.

    Rustamian also spoke of the Armenian-Turkish relations, the Karabakh conflict and other issues of concern for the Dashnaktsutyun.

    The West "Fences" Armenia From Inside And Outside VARDAN GRIGORYAN, Hayots Ashkharh Daily, 24 Dec 2008
    A few days after the strict warnings issued by the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (December 17), the heated developments in the South Caucasus come to reveal the true motives of the "concerns over the situation with democracy".

    The exacerbations observed in the Russian-American relations over the past week currently receive responses on the "regional level."

    On December 22, Georgian Foreign Minister Grogol Vashadze and the representative delegation of the Turkish armed forces (headed by Hasan Iksiz, Deputy Head of the General Headquarters) arrived in Baku.

    The former did not even try to conceal the fact that his visit pursued a goal of extending the Georgian-Azerbaijani cooperation with the aim of ruling out the possibility of Russia's new aggression. "The aggression launched by Russia in August revealed the fragility of peace in our region and the need for cooperation for being able to rule out such tragedy in future," G. Vashadeze announced.

    Having paid a three-day visit to Baku during the Georgian-Azerbaijani talks, the delegation of the Turkish armed forces has started an intensive Turkish-Azerbaijani dialogue. What is meant here is the prospect of signing a Turkish-Azerbaijan imilitary cooperation agreement in the near future.

    The fact that this step of the Turkish General Headquarters is not coordinated with the United States is also confirmed by the Azerbaijani military experts. One of them - Uzeyir Jafarov, openly makes the following statement, "NATO has probably decided that the United States will take Russia and Ukraine under its patronage." Moreover, the Azeri expert believes that this is the first stage of the formation of the military-political alliance which will probably be followed by the signature of an agreement between Azerbaijan and United.

    In this connection, both the Turkish and Azerbaijani experts are, to a certain extent, anxious about the possibility of Moscow's adopting a tougher stance on the Karabakh issue, but they believe that after the signature of the Georgian-American defense agreement envisaging security guarantees for Georgia, Azerbaijan will also be able to enter into a bold dialogue with its northern neighbor.

    Thus, the rumors on the formation of a Russian-Turkish alliance in the South Caucasus after the Russian-Georgian war will lose their actuality.

    However, we believe that it is still early to speak about the freezing of the Russian-Azerbaijani relations. It is obvious that Baku has become faced with the undesirable prospect of making a choice between Turkey and Russia.

    Here is the second reason accounting for the activeness o f the United States and NATO. Involving Turkey in the game, they are trying to push Ankara to normalize its relations with Armenia on the one hand and a taking Azerbaijan under their political-military patronage on the other.

    Realizing that fact, Khazar Ibrahim, Press Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, has already adopted "understanding approaches" with regard to the steps towards the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, considering them as the right of the two countries.

    But can Armenia also have an "understanding approach" towards the possibility of signing an Azerbaijani-Turkish agreement, in view of the continuing Karabakh conflict? Obviously, not because in that case Turkey will automatically assume the responsibility of realizing Azerbaijan's aggressive ambitions in relation to the self-determined state of Nagorno Karabakh. Therefore, the signature of an Azeri-Turkish military agreement may impede the bilateral and unilateral efforts towards the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and at the same time, cause a sharp deterioration in the Russian-Azeri relations.

    Thus, the serious geo-political motives of the current efforts towards "fencing" our country on all sides and leaving open only the "door to Turkey show the primitiveness and shabbiness of the opposition's 'serious expectations' from the PACE Monitoring Committee and the winter se ssion of the Assembly. The issue of the existence of prisoners in Armenia is nothing more than a motive of intensifying the pressure upon Yerevan, the ally of Moscow."

    Azeri Deputy: "Ambassador Of Turkey To Be Called To Azerbaijan" Panorama.am 17:07
    Azeri authorities are concerned with the perspectives of Armenian-Turkish improved relationship. Azeri Deputy Gudrat Hasahghuliev said: "I have raised that question in the Parliament of Azerbaijan. Some oppositional parties have also expressed their dissatisfaction over this issue, but still it is not enough." According to him improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations is not something spontaneous, as well as the apology of the Turkish to Armenians.

    "First the President of Turkey visited Armenia. Then they made agreement to create a monument in Kars devoted to Armenian-Turkish relations. Some powers are interested in improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations. I think that our Foreign Ministry should react, call the Ambassador of Turkey and express our concern," said the deputy.

    Open Letter Rekindles Turkish Debate On Armenian Massacre Irish Times, December 24, 2008

    ANGRY DEBATES fuelled by an online initiative inviting individual Turks to apologise for the ethnic cleansing of Armenians during the first World War showed no signs of fading this week, as Turkey's president took an opposition deputy to court for an alleged racial slur, writes NICHOLAS BIRCH in Istanbul.

    Lawyers for Abdullah Gul announced on Monday that he was seeking symbolic compensation from Canan Aritman after she hinted his mother had Armenian roots.

    "Gul should be president of the entire Turkish nation, not just of those sharing his ethnicity," Ms Aritman said on December 17th. "Look into Gul's roots on his mother's side, and you'll see."

    Her outburst followed Mr Gul's description of the initiative, which has attracted 20,000 signatures since it was launched on December 15th, as compatible with a democratic society.

    "My conscience does not accept the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915," the open letter reads. "I reject this injustice . . . and empathise with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologise to them."

    Mr Gul's doveish tone was characteristic of a man who, in September, became the first Turkish statesman to visit Armenia, triggering hopes of a rapprochement between the two countries after nearly a century of enmity.

    Turkey and Armenia remain at loggerheads over what exactly happened in 1915.

    Turkey accepts that many Armenians were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, but insists they were victims of interethnic conflicts that claimed more Muslim victims.

    For Armenians, and most western historians, the ethnic cleansing that killed at least 600,000 Armenians amounted to genocide.

    Ten years ago, openly debating 1915 in Turkey was all but impossible. Today, universities organise conferences on the issue, and bookshops sell books by western and Armenian historians, alongside texts defending the official Turkish thesis.

    Journalist Semin Gumusel ascribes the new openness to a general change in attitudes in Turkey. "In the past, Turks used to listen to the big men and nod their heads obediently," she says.

    "But the days of blind obedience are over. People ask questions now."

    Others attribute the initiative to the shock that followed the murder of the Armenian-Turkish editor Hrant Dink. A leading advocate of a more humane debate on the Armenian issue, Dink was gunned down by a nationalist teenager in January 2007.

    "When he died, it was as if a veil had been torn from the eyes of the democratic-minded citizens of this country," says Nil Mutluer, a feminist activist who signed the letter. "People realised there was no time to be lost."

    The road ahead looks hard. The chief organisers of the 1915 massacres continue to be commemorated in street names across the country.

    Ms Aritman has not been the only public figure to criticise the open letter.

    Senior generals said it damaged the country. Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan was contemptuous: "[The signatories] must have committed genocide themselves since they are apologising," he said last Friday. "The Turkish Republic does not have such a problem."

    Met with nothing worse than a mild slap on the wrist from her party, meanwhile, Ms Aritman upped the ante on Monday.

    "These days, scientists use DNA tests, not family trees, to identify ethnic identity," she said, referring to Mr Gul's insistence he was of Turkish stock.

    "My slogan is 'happy is he who says I am a Turk'," she added, using a well-known slogan of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.

    Managing editor of Radikal , a liberal daily, Erdal Guven describes Ms Aritman's party's failure to sack her as "a disgrace".

    "It is a pity too that Gul didn't make it more clear that it would have made no difference if his granny had been an Armenian."

    If Obama Recognizes 1915, How Will The State Resist?
    About a year ago, Barack Obama said he would recognize the Armenian "genocide" if he is elected president of the US.

    Of course, whatever the real intention of the president, the US bureaucracy manages to persuade the White House by putting forward Ankara's sensitivities on the issue. The president's speechwriters are having a hard time finding the proper words to replace "genocide" on every April 24. Will it be any different this time? If the US president describes 1915 as "genocide" -- despite all warnings and suggestions against doing so on April 24 -- what will happen? As we have seen in the "apology" campaign, there is a large group of people in Turkey who are offended by this issue. As if some sort of social allergy, many people otherwise known as "soft," "elegant," "fair," "open to dialogue," "humanistic" and "calm" about many issues change considerably when the issue at hand is 1915. For instance, many people described as such but who come from Muslim circles all of a sudden turn nationalist or pro-establishment.

    25 December 2008, SABAH EMRE AKÖZ

    Turkey, France Team Players, Says French Ambassador To Turkey Bernard Emie

    Having lost all its expectations of opening new chapters in the EU accession process, news coming from Brussels caught the Turkish nation by surprise: The French, the nation that has been saying "no" to Turkey's eventual membership in the EU was more willing than the Turks to continue the negotiation process.

    Bernard Emie, the French ambassador to Turkey, underlines that the successes of the French presidency should not be limited to one single angle of Turkey's membership. "Turkey is part of the global world; Turkey is part of the G-20; Turkey is part of Europe through the Customs Union; Turkey is our strategic partner within NATO; Turkey is associated with 90 percent of all of the foreign policy statements issued by the presidency. Everything success in the EU concerns Turkey positively," he told Today's Zaman. The French ambassador was particularly apologetic about the public negligence of European funds spent in Turkey. Today's Zaman spoke to Ambassador Emie about the French presidency and his personal experiences in this semester.

    What are the major accomplishments of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union?

    We achieved a great ambition: the Union for the Mediterranean (UpM). This was not an easy task. There were numerous obstacles in many of the countries involved and for different reasons, including in Turkey. We managed to overcome all these difficulties by creating a great project in which Turkey would play a major role. The UpM is not the EuroMed process. It is much more than that. It is a political mission and it is a common vision of our future.

    Second, on Dec. 12 we managed to create a final package on energy and climate change. This means that the EU will meet the so-called 20/20/20 target by 2020. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent and ensuring that 20 percent of all energy comes from wind, solar and other renewable energy resources. This is a major and ambitious objective in the run up to the Copenhagen Conference, which will take place next year. Working in close connection with the previous presidencies, and more specifically with Germany, during whose presidency this objective was decided upon, we managed to set a precedent for the Copenhagen Conference as it will put Europe at the forefront of what should be done.

    Europe, under the French presidency, was at the forefront when we were hit by the international financial crisis. We took the lead to define common answers to this terrible crisis. We took initiatives to make sure that, first, Europeans organize a summit in Washington; this summit was a Nicolas Sarkozy proposal endorsed by the president of the United States. Apart from that, we managed to approve an EU economy recovery plan equivalent to 1.5 percent of our collective gross domestic product (GDP), which represents an enormous amount of money and which will be injected into our economies to compensate for the impact of this crisis.

    We also managed to find some common answers to the Irish "no," which took place a couple of days after the start of the French presidency. What was achieved as a compromise in Brussels last week should allow the Lisbon Treaty to enter into force before the end of 2009.

    Under the French presidency, Europe also became a global player in world politics…

    Yes, and that is something we should insist on telling the public. Of course Turkish public opinion always considers the EU through the single angle of the rapprochement between Turkey and the EU. But this is much more important. Look at the way which Europe, under the French presidency, reaffirmed itself as a world power, a global power and a driving force of restoring peace in the world. Look at the Georgian crisis, which was not expected when we assumed the presidency. We defined the eight-point draft which for the first time in the history of Europe interrupted a conflict and stopped a war. Closely coordinating with Turkey, we managed to stop a war. When has Europe done that before? You will not find an example.

    When there is a strong political will, when the Europeans are united, when you try to bridge gaps and find answers to old issues, you can get results. And then you come to realize what Europe means on the international scene.

    Turks want to be a part of this Europe. What did the French presidency achieve on that front?

    France was expected by certain circles in this country to be a very difficult presidency for Turkey, and for obvious reasons; namely, our national position with regard to the end of the negotiations. We also heard some negative statements from Turkey showing that Turks perceived the doors of the EU having been slammed in their face. But the case was to the contrary. As the EU term president, we said as early as possible that we wanted to be fair, neutral and objective toward Turkey. This is why, during this semester, we worked extremely hard and in close coordination with the Turkish bureaucracy and Turkish political leaders to move in the right direction.

    During this term we had a number of meetings which never took place in the past. President Sarkozy and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met three times in six months: in Paris, on the sidelines of the UpM summit; and in Damascus at a summit attended by four leaders -- Bashar al-Assad of Syria as chairman of the Arab League, the emir of Qatar as chairman of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Sarkozy as chairman of the EU and Erdoğan as chairman of nothing but as the prime minister of the only country that had institutionalized relations with all the three other partners. France expressed very positive appreciation concerning what Turkey is doing in the Middle East and more specifically between Syria and Israel. The third meeting was in Washington in the margins of the G-20 Summit at which there was a very important bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Erdoğan and President Sarkozy.

    When the French president met the Turkish prime minister, he said: "Mr. Prime Minister, I will be extremely frank with you. You know my national position. It has not changed. But I will put it aside and as the president of the EU, I will act accordingly in the negotiation process with your country. We will work as hard as possible in order to open new chapters in negotiations. And we ask you to undertake the necessary reforms to head in that direction." We behaved accordingly at every stage of the negotiations. I can even tell you that we were extremely active in order to overcome difficulties. As an ambassador here, my team and I worked day and night to have the Turkish system answering questions posed by the EU Presidency on time. I can tell you that this has not always been easy; there have been ups and downs, vacation periods and political obstacles. At the end of the day we managed to open these two negotiation chapters.

    What kind of difficulties did you have to deal with?

    The way in which we worked in this country, I can tell you, has been quite tough. As the representative of the French government, which has a national position concerning this issue, it has not always been very easy to work here. But in the end the work was extremely rewarding because of the courtesy and kindness of Turkish officials, Turkish members of Parliament and journalists. It was extremely pleasant to work with professionals who are well informed and who can go into details.

    With this in mind, better connections with the media were developed for better visibility. This was not the case with all of my predecessors here. I think it is important to explain things, because perspective is otherwise lost.

    For the first time in this country, European Commission Delegation to Turkey head Marc Pierini, eight of my colleagues and I went to Nevşehir to inaugurate a wastewater treatment plant financed by the European Commission. This was something unprecedented. It is important for people in Turkey to understand that already hundreds of millions of euros are being spent by European countries in what is called the Pre-Accession Program. It means that Europe is building wastewater treatment plants, it is building courthouses and it is financing the transportation system in İstanbul, to name a few. Who knows about this? No one! So when Sarkozy says something, it makes headlines. But when the chairman of the European Investment Bank (EIB) comes to Turkey to sign an agreement with the mayor of İstanbul to finance the city's new transportation system, it is nowhere in the press. This will change, however, as people's lives change. A French agency is co-financing this project with 120 million euros. What the Europeans want to do in this country is make it more developed and prepare it for, I would say, better integration into the European market.

    In the end, it was very pleasant to work with Turkish officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We worked with team spirit and that is my message: team spirit. We can disagree; the official position of this country can dislike certain official positions of the French government, but dialogue is extremely important. I invested myself tremendously, because doing otherwise would not work. My Turkish colleague in Paris, Osman Korutürk, as well, worked in a very efficient manner. And we worked once again in close coordination and as a team.

    Did you feel any kind of degeneration in Turkey's willingness to continue with negotiations?

    You have seen various documents issued on this issue by European institutions during these last few months. These document do not represent only one member's position; they express the position of the EU as a whole. The message is a positive message toward Turkey. It is a message of encouragement and a message of continuing in that direction. But meetings between Turkish and European deputies were extremely tough. Take a look at what EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said after the Accession Conference which took place last Friday in Brussels and during which the French minister of foreign affairs and the Turkish foreign minister agreed to open two more chapters. Rehn's comments were extremely clear and as the representative of the presidency, I feel completely comfortable with these remarks and support them entirely. So Turkey should be more proactive and, as Rehn said, we hope and we want to believe as has been said by top Turkish leaders that 2009 will be the year of Europe and that many efforts will be undertaken in that direction. We hope the municipal elections will not prevent the whole system from continuing to work on the European dimension.

    Allegations of the so-called Armenian "genocide" gained a new dimension in Turkey with a "campaign of apology." How is France following these developments?

    We take close interest in this issue. Armenian issues are very sensitive for us because of a very effective Armenian diaspora in France which plays important roles in political life. But the French position has to be clarified. It is true that a law was passed by the French Parliament in October 2006, but two weeks ago the French Ministry of Interior told parliament that it is against this draft law coming to the Senate. Unfortunately, the Turkish public opinion did not listen long enough to hear this positive message.

    The process of normalization between Armenia and Turkey has been welcomed by France and the EU. Efforts of presidents Abdullah Gül and Serzh Sarksyan, in the context of soccer diplomacy, were extremely welcomed. We do support the process of normalization. We think that it is extremely important to find means and ways to reopen the border. But we don't want to intervene in this process. We don't want to create problems for any party.

    Concerning domestic debates, we don't want to take side. In a democratic society these debates are very important. France had a similar discussion over Algeria, so we think it is positive for societies to debate.

    Contacts during the French presidency should also have been reflected in bilateral relations. Where are we by means of Turkish-French bilateral relations?

    Let's be clear, we have some of the oldest relations in the world. The Turks and the French have known each other for a long time. We even resemble one another. We are two large countries with imperial histories. We are a little chauvinistic, we are proud of ourselves. We have a positive vision of ourselves. We don't lobby to sell ourselves because we think that people have to love us because of what we are.

    Our relations with Turkey are very important. They can have ups and downs, but they are very important. We are political and strategic allies in NATO. Our soldiers serve in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Bosnia together. We share the same vision of the world. When we encounter regional crises, Turkish and French policies working hand in hand. Look at Georgia, look at the Middle East and the Doha agreements and the Lebanese elections. Ninety-five percent of our strategic visions overlap and because of that we welcome Turkey's membership in the UN Security Council.

    Economy-wise, do you know that France is the second-largest investor in Turkey? More than 300 French companies are in Turkey and employing about 100,000 Turks. This means about 400,000 Turks live on French investments. Officially, the Netherlands is the largest investor in Turkey. But this is because international companies are based in the Netherlands. In reality, France comes in first.

    Our bilateral trade amounts to $10 billion and is balanced. That means Turkey sells a lot of goods to France. Our vision for the near future is to raise this figure to $15 billion. In the first quarter of 2008, mutual trade between Turkey and France increased by 20 percent. No other bilateral trade performed that well. I am extremely confident in the long run. There are ups and downs, but there are ups and downs between any couple.

    25 December 2008, KERİM BALCI ANKARA

    Portraits From Russia, Turkey & America MUHAMMED ÇETİN @todayszaman.com

    In the recent Turkish-Russian Dialogue program at Moscow State University, two Turkish research fellows claimed that the Turkish government, with American guidance, was acting against Russian interests in Central Asia, that Turkish businessmen and the schools they sponsor do not contribute to mutual relations in the region and that Turkey is accused of importing Islamic influence there.

    However, the views of these two academics were challenged and severely criticized by Russian scholars and by the Turkish ambassador to Russia, who has worked there since 1976. Offering substantial historical evidence -- sociopolitical, educational, economic and religious -- Ambassador Halil Akıncı noted that the two panelists were mistaken and that they had not yet visited any of the schools concerned. He suggested that they visit the schools together.

    Emilyanova Nadejda Mihaylovna, from the Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, maintained that the claims of the two Turkish academics were politically biased and that they were not knowledgeable about how such schools have contributed to relations between societies and countries. Mihail Meyer, the head of the Asian-African Studies Center at Moscow State University, noted that the two Turkish academics spoke without knowing the importance and contributions of Turkish scholar Fethullah Gülen and Gülen-inspired institutions to dialogue.

    In Turkey a neo-nationalist group recently claimed that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his wife and President Abdullah Gül were Zionists serving a Zionist conspiracy in Turkey. Deputy Canan Arıtman, from the Republican People's Party (CHP), has now claimed that President Gül is supporting an apology campaign for the suffering and death that occurred during the Armenian displacement in 1915 because, according to her, the president's mother is Armenian. A columnist in the Cumhuriyet daily wrote that Gülen encouraged the establishment of high schools and an international university in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq because he was Kurdish. Does the columnist also think that Gülen encourages people to establish educational and cultural institutions in Africa because he is African, or in Japan because he is Japanese, or in Taiwan because he is Taiwanese? Or is he Mexican, Dutch, English or, in short, a citizen of more than 100 countries?

    Very recently there was a breakfast and morning discussion between a university dean, the head of a center, two professors from American University, a top institution of higher learning in Washington, D.C., an international columnist and Gülen. The American scholars put forward a great range of questions. They asked about interfaith dialogue, the names and attributes of God in Islam, how Gülen movement participants internalize sincerity and generosity and how the participants can move from project to project and avoid clashing with, undermining or backbiting one another for worldly position, passions and expectations. They asked whether it was possible to inculcate such virtues in other faith communities and, in this sense, which Islamic qualities can also be valid and applicable to other communities. They wondered why Muslims are portrayed as despising and ignoring the world and neglecting its betterment, as if working to the detriment of everyone else in order to acquire paradise, especially in the case of ideological radicals. Gülen answered all of those questions very succinctly and thoroughly.

    The academics expressed their pleasure at meeting such a profound scholar. On behalf of their university president, they officially invited Gülen to their university to make a speech for the start of the academic year at the beginning of the semester, to meet and speak with the entire faculty or to at least have a roundtable question-and-answer session so that their faculty leaders might benefit from his knowledge and wisdom. Gülen did not accept any praise, compliments or attribution of any success or services to himself, but expressed his wish to continue to live away from the crowds. He added that his ongoing medical treatment does not permit travel or being among so many people.

    In Turkish we say that these people "have not eaten their wisdom with bread and cheese." That is, they are not idiots; they have not destroyed their wisdom with their appetites. It seems some Turkish academics need to look more carefully at what they are eating as a side dish.
    25 December 2008, MUHAMMED ÇETİN

    I know very well the people who prepared the petition to apologize to Armenians. Some of them are my friends and some are people who, though not my friends, I closely follow and appreciate.

    I can never have any suspicions about their good faith and I don't think it is proper to label them as traitors or the like. Nevertheless, what they did was wrong. They failed to foresee what consequences this petition might have. First of all, this petition gave rise to debates on whether the "forced migration" that they call the "Great Catastrophe" and the ensuing incidents can be regarded as "genocide" or not. In my opinion, what happened in 1915 really was a disaster, but never genocide. Moreover, the term "genocide," introduced in 1948 and adopted by the UN, is a controversial concept. It is not certain what can be defined as genocide. If the US's killing of millions of Native Americans or France's slaying of hundreds of thousands of Algerians is not accepted as genocide, then I am inclined to conclude that this is a concept devised purely for imperialist purposes. 24 December 2008, BUGÜN TOKTAMIŞ ATEŞ

    Make Or Break Year For The Eu And Turkey By Hugh Pope*
    An abrupt and unusual word buried in a European Union declaration on Dec. 8 showed the mounting risks of a breakdown in Turkey's EU membership talks. Ankara's need to solve its problems with Cyprus, foreign ministers warned, has become "urgent." Thanks also to Turkey's failure to meet EU reform benchmarks since negotiations started in 2005, a showdown looks inevitable over the next year.

    Failure to reform and deep political polarization have led to a sense of lost direction in Turkey. Nationalism and human rights violations are again on the rise. As the adoption of EU norms looks more distant, ethnic tensions between Turks and Kurds have risen. The EU anchor of Turkey's economic miracle this decade and the great progress made in a golden era of reform from 2000 to 2004 are at risk.

    For Europe, the costs of losing Turkey are higher than it thinks. European access to one of the biggest and fastest-growing nearby markets would become more difficult. The souring EU relationship has helped slow the EU's first effort to diversify away from Russian gas supplies with the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline across Turkey. What's more, an EU that proves unable to work on an equal basis with Turkey will deepen a belief in the Islamic world that the West rejects Muslims.

    In Cyprus, this situation shows how wrong the Greek Cypriot leadership would be to believe that Turkey will sacrifice everything to get into the EU, or that EU pressure can ever force Ankara to accept its demands; instead, it must do all it can to bring Turkey closer to itself and the EU, through avoiding conflicts over contested territorial waters at home and ending the practice of blocking Turkey-EU negotiating chapters in Brussels.

    For its part, Turkey has long been wrong in its belief that the Greek Cypriot position is the result of deliberate EU policy, but stumbling EU-Turkey ties make it even more mistaken to expect that the EU can or will impose anything on the Greek Cypriots. The only way forward for Ankara is through winning Greek Cypriot trust, keeping its navy out of contested waters, and doing all it can to show itself to be a good partner in future normalized Turkey-Cyprus relations.

    There are many reasons for this damaging EU-Turkey divergence. EU populations and politicians are cooler to enlargement than ever before. Sound arguments about Turkey's long-term contribution to the EU are losing ground to nostalgia for an idealized vision of a homogenous European past, along with fears about radical Islam and the potential loss of jobs to Turkish immigrants.

    In Turkey, disillusionment began with the EU's 2004 admission of Cyprus as a divided state run by Greek Cypriots, when it was the Turkish Cypriots who had accepted, and the Greek Cypriots who had rejected, the EU-backed United Nations peace plan. French and German attacks on Ankara's right to join the EU have further de-motivated Turkish leaders, who have slowed the adoption of EU law to a crawl. Additionally, half of the 33 negotiating chapters are now frozen for political reasons by the Greek Cypriots and the French. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan angrily dressed down EU diplomats at an Ankara dinner in September, telling them the EU had got the "bucket stuck in the bottom of the well."

    In such an atmosphere, Turkey-skeptic EU states, or perhaps Turkish politicians angry with Europe, may try to suspend the negotiations altogether. One pretext could be Turkey's promise, made in order to win the opening of negotiations in 2005, to normalize relations and trade with Cyprus. When Turkey had failed to do so by December 2006, the EU said it would study the issue "in particular in 2007, 2008 and 2009." Brussels' new warning that the issue is "urgent" implies that this ambivalent wording is now seen as a deadline.

    Paradoxically, this cooling of relations comes just as Turkey is showing how much it can do to complement EU goals. Ankara has played key roles in representing the EU point of view over Iran's nuclear policy and nudging Lebanese factions toward compromise on a new president -- actions which Brussels acknowledged in its 2008 Turkey progress report. This year it has mediated talks between Syria and Israel, and opened up dialogue with both the Iraqi Kurds and even an old enemy, Armenia. In recognition of Turkey's responsible foreign policy, the country was elected to a two-year seat on the UN Security Council.

    EU politicians must do their share to avoid a crisis. They should recognize their past mistakes on Cyprus, engage evenhandedly in support of the promising new Cypriot talks in progress since September, and publicly commit funds to a future Cyprus settlement. The dangers of failure were highlighted last month when the Turkish and Greek navies and Greek Cypriot-chartered oil-prospecting ships sparred over territorial rights in the Mediterranean.

    Since 1963 the EU has repeatedly promised Turkey full membership once it meets all criteria. Now would be a good time to reaffirm this promise. Also, the EU would win by following the call of pro-Turkey EU states to deepen strategic dialogue with Ankara.

    Turkey should do its utmost to give its arguments to the pro-Turkish EU presidencies of Sweden and Spain in 2009/2010. The government and opposition should overcome their mutual hostility, implement the long-delayed reform program, and re-launch work on a new, more democratic constitution. Unfortunately for Ankara, EU politicians care more about the anti-enlargement mood at home than about Turkey's geostrategic role. Only a full adoption of European norms can prove that Turkey truly wishes to be part of the EU family.

    * Hugh Pope is Turkey/Cyprus project director for the International Crisis Group and author of "Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey." On Dec. 15, The International Crisis Group published its new policy report, titled "Turkey and Europe: the Decisive Year Ahead," available on www.crisisgroup.org. 24 December 2008,

    Armenian Team Returns To Mount Ararat Emblem
    The Armenian national soccer team, which had replaced its emblem featuring a silhouette of Turkey's Mount Ararat, known in Turkey as Mount Ağrı, ahead of a match against Turkey in a World Cup qualifying game in September, has recently started to use the old emblem again.

    The previously new emblem of the Armenian national team, featuring a tiger and a lion instead of the silhouette of Mount Ararat, was introduced to the public at a September press conference in Yerevan, with Armenian Football Federation President Ruben Hayrapetyan saying that the change of emblem was due to demands from football fan associations. Hayrapetyan also said at the time that the previous emblem was not popular among fans of the national team.

    Armenian officials had dismissed a connection between the new emblem and the upcoming match; however, the change was widely considered to be a gesture of goodwill by the Armenian side ahead of the match on Sept. 6. Turkish President Abdullah Gül broke his country's foreign policy taboo by visiting Armenia to watch the soccer game. The visit paved the way for contact between Turkey and Armenia, which have had no formal ties since 1993.

    Since then, public criticism of the Armenian Football Federation's decision to change the previous emblem has surfaced in Turkey's estranged neighbor. The federation has decided to return to its previous emblem, which features a stylized representation of Mount Ararat.

    One of the conditions Ankara expects Yerevan to fulfill to normalize relations is formal recognition of the current border with Turkey. Turkish decision-makers are concerned that the Armenian administration has claims on Turkish territory, and the depiction of Mount Ararat on the Armenian national team emblem has been interpreted by some as a sign of Armenian irredentist desires.

    Sarksyan Thanks Turkish People For Help During 1988 Quake
    It has emerged meanwhile that Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan sent a message to his Turkish counterpart on the 20th anniversary of the disastrous Spitak earthquake, expressing his gratitude for the Turkish people's help to Armenian people at the time.

    Dec. 7 marked the 20th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake, which flattened towns and villages across swathes of the then-Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia, killing 25,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

    The world turned its attention to the tragedy in his country soon after the earthquake, Sarksyan noted in his message, adding that this proved that "grief is not one-sided."

    Sarksyan said that both he and the Armenian people have been grateful to Turkish people and the government of the Turkish Republic for their assistance in the aftermath of the Spitak earthquake.

    "We are sure that human actions will always be remembered, will increase clemency and will enlighten the world," he said.

    24 December 2008, SÜLEYMAN KURT ANKARA

    Armenian Team Returns To Mount Ararat Emblem
    The Armenian national soccer team, which had replaced its emblem featuring a silhouette of Turkey's Mount Ararat, known in Turkey as Mount Ağrı, ahead of a match against Turkey in a World Cup qualifying game in September, has recently started to use the old emblem again.

    The previously new emblem of the Armenian national team, featuring a tiger and a lion instead of the silhouette of Mount Ararat, was introduced to the public at a September press conference in Yerevan, with Armenian Football Federation President Ruben Hayrapetyan saying that the change of emblem was due to demands from football fan associations. Hayrapetyan also said at the time that the previous emblem was not popular among fans of the national team.

    Armenian officials had dismissed a connection between the new emblem and the upcoming match; however, the change was widely considered to be a gesture of goodwill by the Armenian side ahead of the match on Sept. 6. Turkish President Abdullah Gül broke his country's foreign policy taboo by visiting Armenia to watch the soccer game. The visit paved the way for contact between Turkey and Armenia, which have had no formal ties since 1993.

    Since then, public criticism of the Armenian Football Federation's decision to change the previous emblem has surfaced in Turkey's estranged neighbor. The federation has decided to return to its previous emblem, which features a stylized representation of Mount Ararat.

    One of the conditions Ankara expects Yerevan to fulfill to normalize relations is formal recognition of the current border with Turkey. Turkish decision-makers are concerned that the Armenian administration has claims on Turkish territory, and the depiction of Mount Ararat on the Armenian national team emblem has been interpreted by some as a sign of Armenian irredentist desires.

    Sarksyan thanks Turkish people for help during 1988 quake

    It has emerged meanwhile that Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan sent a message to his Turkish counterpart on the 20th anniversary of the disastrous Spitak earthquake, expressing his gratitude for the Turkish people's help to Armenian people at the time.

    Dec. 7 marked the 20th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake, which flattened towns and villages across swathes of the then-Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia, killing 25,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

    The world turned its attention to the tragedy in his country soon after the earthquake, Sarksyan noted in his message, adding that this proved that "grief is not one-sided."

    Sarksyan said that both he and the Armenian people have been grateful to Turkish people and the government of the Turkish Republic for their assistance in the aftermath of the Spitak earthquake.

    "We are sure that human actions will always be remembered, will increase clemency and will enlighten the world," he said.

    24 December 2008, SÜLEYMAN KURT ANKARA
    murat cin , December, 24, 2008 22:33

    who wins? armenians or turks....or the common hawks in both countries.....

    Haik , December, 24, 2008 02:59
    It should be no secret that the Armenian nation, including the diaspora and the government do not recognize Turkey's pre...

    Doctrine Of Armenia-Diaspora Cooperation Discussed In Yerevan Marianna Gyurjyan, "Radiolur" 24.12.2008
    For a few month now the Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia and the International Center for Human Development have been working out the doctrine of development of the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation, determining the principles and priorities and predicting their results.

    "The five scenarios of the doctrine of development of the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation include both realistic and unacceptable provisions," RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan says.

    Participants of today's discussion were reading the scenarios, analyzing their perspectives and making suggestions and remarks.

    The preliminary text of the doctrine has been submitted to the consideration of Diaspora Armenian organizations. After final text of the doctrine is elaborated, it will be presented for the Government's approval.

    "We organized this discussion to give an opportunity to different layers of society to express their opinion and participate in the elaboration of the doctrine. Thus, we will be able to make the final text of the doctrine more comprehensive," the Minister of Diaspora stated.

    Armenia is planning to open diplomatic representations in Brazil, Lithuania, Finland and Japan
    Next year Armenia is planning to open diplomatic representations in Brazil, Lithuania, Finland and Japan.

    Head of the press service department of Armenian Foreign Ministry Tigran Balayan told Armenpress that during this year a consulate point opened in Hague and a consulate general - in Batumi.

    T. Balayan also noted that the program work of purchasing of buildings of Armenian embassies in abroad will continue in 2009: with the state budget means buildings will be bought for embassies but it is not yet clarified in what towns.

    Armenia has diplomatic relations with 153 countries of the world.

    Two Mistakes In The Discussion Between Gul And Aritman 12/24/2008 BY FIKRET BILA
    MILLIYET- Everyone is talking about a statement made by Canan Aritman, Republican People's Party (CHP) Izmir deputy, which implied that President Abdullah Gul's mother had Armenian roots. Citing his family tree, President Gul said this argument was false. Gul stated that he is Muslim and Turkish on both sides of his family, as 100 years of the tree proves. Gul said that he felt he had to set the record straight in order to correct a tendentious lie which started when he ran for president last year and has recently been openly and deviously resurrected. He added that he wanted to establish the truth for history's sake.

    Aritman's statement implying that Gul's mother has Armenian roots was unfortunate. The path she took was wrong. Whether Gul's mother has Armenian roots or not shouldn't be used for political fodder. Aritman's 'racial' approach was widely criticized, including by the CHP, her own party. This is another sign that what Aritman did was wrong. Aritman offended Turkey's Armenians with her suggestion about Gul. Her approach, which paints being Armenian as a crime or deficiency, is contrary to the Turkish Republic's founding principles. Her words ill suit a member of a party like the CHP (Turkey's first party), which established the founding principles of the republic. The Turkish Republic isn't based on an ethnic basis. Ataturk's understanding of the nation wasn't racist. In an excellent formulation of his understanding of the nation and nationalism, Ataturk said that the nation which established the Turkish nation is called the Turkish nation. Whatever one's ethnic background, each and every citizen of the Turkish Republic can undertake any post or duty. The president, Parliament speaker, prime minister, chief of General Staff and government ministers may have different ethnic roots. This is a requirement of the republic's founding principles.

    Gul not only released his family tree, but also sued Aritman. The president represents the entire nation, and he's head of the state. Thus his filing a lawsuit against claims that there are Armenians in his family and allegations of discrimination might offend our Armenian citizens. If being an Armenian or having a family with Armenian roots is seen as something which has to be denied, this might cause misunderstandings, particularly in terms of Gul's responsibility to represent the entire nation. Although he was trying to prevent political exploitation, Gul shouldn't have sued her, but instead, out of consideration for our Armenian citizens, found it sufficient to issue a statement. Looking at the situation in terms of the republic's founding principles, Gul filing a lawsuit against Aritman's statements amounts to compounding one mistake with yet another."

    Intellectuals: Witnesses Of Their Own Era By Mustafa Balbay (Cumhuriyet)

    Columnist Mustafa Balbay comments on a recent initiative by a group of intellectuals to apologize for the killings of Armenians during the World War I era. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "Out of the many definitions of 'intellectual,' here is one of my favorites: Intellectuals are the witnesses of the era they live in.

    Witnessing an era is not as easy as some might think. A real intellectual draws strength from reality. Intellectuals are people who can tell and write about the reality around them…

    There are many difficulties for intellectuals in countries such as Turkey, at the crossroad of global developments.

    On the other hand, there are some people who think that being an intellectual means being a part of global politics, instead of dealing with the realities of their time!

    They started a petition with the following text: 'My conscience cannot accept the ignorance and denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and ?" on my own behalf ?" I share the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers ?" and I apologize to them.'

    The petition drive is planned to last for about a year, which gives the impression that it's a part of a longer-term plan, not a short-term one.

    Reading the petition, someone who is ignorant of history would get the impression that:

    1. In 1915, only the Armenians suffered. This great injustice must be redressed.

    2. Since an apology is needed, the Armenians, who were completely innocent, experienced a great tragedy.

    3. The Ottoman Empire was the state holding all the power and controlling all events in its territory, and went into action against only the Armenians.

    4. In that era and afterwards, no other state was strong enough to act against the Ottomans. The Ottomans saw themselves as the sole power.

    5. The Republic of Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman state, has rejected all allegations, offered no information or documents about the events, has not opened its archives, and has indifferently closed its ears.

    But, in fact, none of these impressions is true:

    1. 1915 saw the bloodiest battles of World War I.

    2. The Battle of the Dardanelles that year was the Ottomans' struggle for survival, in which they only tried to defend themselves.

    3. Facing this situation, the Ottoman Empire took a series of measures against developments in Anatolia aimed against it, just as it defended itself in the Dardanelles.

    4. When the British invaded Istanbul, they searched every nook and cranny in vain to find information or documents concerning a bloodbath against the Armenians. The British, American and Russian archives of that era are similarly silent.

    5. In the succeeding years, Turkey proposed turning the matter over to historians, and has announced at every turn that the archives are open to researchers.

    Today, certain people who care nothing about healing ties between Ankara and Yerevan are working to act against Turkey in league with Armenians:

    Recognition, compensation, land…

    First the alleged genocide will be recognized… Then compensation will be demanded, and finally land…

    It is intellectuals' duty to reveal these facts…

    If someone needs to apologize for the events of 1915, then it's the imperialist states of that time, and the modern-day implementers of these policies!"

    Beware Of Provocations BY YIGIT BULUT (VATAN)

    Columnist Yigit Bulut comments on provocations at home and abroad. A summary of his column is as follows:

    "Nobody can ruin our friendship. What happened? Why start my column this way? I'll get right to the point: A deep divide between Kurds and Turks has recently been incited. In other words, there's a massive psychological operation targeting our citizens of Kurdish origin. This effort isn't taking place only in Turkey, but also on Turkish citizens living abroad. There are millions of Turkish people living in Europe who have never wondered about their own roots, but now somebody insistently want them to. They ask this question on their behalf. Especially foreign services of certain countries want to ruin the friendship between these Turkish people. Their ridiculous arguments are actually quite simple. One of them says this: 'If Turkey has the right to intervene in northern Iraq, [Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud] Barzani should have the right to intervene with Kurds living in Turkey.' Only one response is possible to this proposition: It's out of the question! Let's show why we can't get entrapped by this…

    Barzani has nothing to do with the Kurdish movement or the ethnic, cultural or economic development of Kurdish identity. He only wants to take advantage of states which are pulling the strings and to exploit the Kurdish people. In short, let's not be fooled by this. They also make extensive use of another argument. Some people unfortunately think that the US saved Iraq from the cruelty of Saddam Hussein and that people of Kurdish origin who can't come together think they can seize a historical opportunity under Barzani's leadership in northern Iraq. How pitiful! Barzani is the Kurdish nation's investment in its future.

    I'm sad to see that those who believe this are so naïve and think that the territories occupied by the military-industrial complex were taken for the sake of bringing democracy. But what would have happened if these territories had no oil? The imperial powers would never have bothered! The military-industrial complex has reaped hundreds of billions of dollars in profits as the result of rising oil prices and the oil resources seized due to the chaos since representatives of global powers in Iraq to 'bring democracy' set foot in oil-rich regions. In other words, the aim wasn't Kurds, but money!

    So we shouldn't be deceived! Let me address our citizens who see themselves as Kurds. If someone is going to take care of you, it's not Barzani, a pawn of great powers who isn't even Kurdish, but rather the Turkish Republic. All of us, including our Laz, Kurdish, Pomak, Circassian, and other citizens, have only one solution, namely strengthening this country! We might have made certain mistakes in the past, but now we have the trust to proceed into the future hand in hand."

    Armenian Apology Campaign Organizers Threatened
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish nationalistic forces create tension in the country by threatening to use force against the Turkish intellectuals who signed the Armenian Genocide apology petition, independent French journalist Jean Eckian told PanARMENIAN.Net.

    Nevertheless, initiators of the campaign believe that the Turkish government is capable to overcome the crisis.

    Mr. Eckian reminded that many Turkish intellectuals are still persecuted for statements referring to the Armenian Genocide.

    Mehmed Ali Varis, assistant to publisher Ragip Zakaroglu, was imprisoned for “insulting Turkishness” because he was unable to pay a $15000 fee.

    Over 20 thousand Turkish intellectuals, authors, journalists, scientists and musicians have already signed the online petition which reads, "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Calamity that befell the Ottoman Armenians in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them."

    Need To Criminalize Hate Speech
    Today’s modern, Turkish Republic is a shrunken version of the past gigantic Ottoman Empire. Turkish society is composed of elements from all the peoples of the past, vast geography of the empire.

    But, this country does not have a modern minority description that would provide the minorities not only "first class rights" like the rest of the society, but also some "added" rights to preserve, protect and promote their ethnic, cultural, religious or communal peculiarities, the absence of which would mean Turkey losing some of its most beautiful "flowers."

    Pluralism is the biggest asset this country has inherited. Naturally, there were mistakes in the past, there are mistakes now and there will be mistakes in the future. However, we must try not to repeat the past mistakes and learn the value of our pluralistic society and accommodate ourselves accordingly rather than, for example, questioning the ethnic background of the President of the Republic as if someone with an ethnic background other than an ethnic Turkish one was a potential traitor. Indeed, that minority perception, which contradicts with what we have inherited over the ages, is one of the main problems of modern Turkey.

    An Atatürk anecdote
    I read Yavuz Donat’s column in daily Sabah. He was writing about an anecdote he heard from İstanbul’s Bakırköy district mayor, Ateş Ünal Erzen, who reportedly heard it from İnan Kıraç.

    One day, at around 6:00 p.m., İsmet İnönü, the prime minister at the time, visited President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk at the Florya presidential residence.

    - I hope nothing is wrong İsmet, you have come without prior notice...

    - My Pasha, the minorities issue... We will bring the issue to Parliament... What would you say on the issue?

    - İsmet, it is too late now... Come early tomorrow morning and let’s have a word on the issue.

    After İnönü leaves, Atatürk summons all the staff of the residence and orders them, "Keep only the tulips... Root out all the rest of the flowers and throw them! Immediately!"

    İnönü visits Atatürk early next morning and seeing the terrible situation of the garden asks the staff:

    - What happened?

    - Pasha ordered, we have rooted out all flowers except tulips...

    Then, İnönü enters Atatürk’s room and asks:

    - My Pasha, the garden is devastated... What has happened?

    - I ordered the minorities be rooted out İsmet...

    İnönü receives the message...

    - İsmet, I did not say "How happy is the one who says I am a Turk," for nothing. Everyone who feels he is a Turk is the son of this land. And, no one should consider legislating to create a law on minorities...

    It is high time...
    That was just an anecdote, but a very meaningful one that translates well to the dangers posed by the present day crooked mentality of some that we must all stand against. Perhaps it is now high time for Turkey to take a revolutionary step and instead of, for example, trying to get rid of the contentious Article 301 of the Penal Code, instead we radically amend the article and turn it into one criminalizing hate speech and actions against the Turkish nation and state organs, but more so against minorities and minority identities. Of course, in undertaking such an amendment attention must be paid to the wording of the text of the article and to make sure that we don’t end up having a hate crime law serving the domination of the majority over the minorities.

    Yes, indeed, it might be shameful, but this country does not yet have any legislation criminalizing hate speech and actions. Perhaps such a law would have helped to dissuade people resorting to hate crimes and perhaps Fathar Santaro, Hrant Dink and many other victims of hate crime could have been saved. But, of course, we need to have as well a president who would not consider as an insult and demand a symbolic compensation because of an idiotic question by an opposition politician about whether there was Armenian blood from his mother’s side, but instead would say "What if I had Armenian blood? We are a synthesis of an imperial past, centuries of togetherness of many peoples."
    Yusuf Kanlı © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Is Christmas Really Un-Islamic?

    Every year, toward the end of December, warnings come from some of the conservative Islamic voices in Turkey. They advise their co-religionists to avoid indulging in New Year’s Eve celebrations, which they see as a "Christian tradition." Some of them, especially the most orthodox, even go as far as saying that Muslims will be betraying their faith if they sympathize with Santa Claus or Christmas trees.

    This year, it was "Cübbeli Ahmet" i.e., literally, Ahmet the robe-wearer, who was the most vocal bias-monger. This ultra-orthodox imam gave a shivering message to his small community of devout followers: had they died while celebrating the new year, they would have gone to the after-life as infidels.

    Jesus of Nazareth
    Of course, there is a lot ignorance, and confusion, here. First of all, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are separate things. While the former is specifically Christian, the latter is secular and somewhat universal Ñ at least if you do not have an objection to the Gregorian calendar that most of us use. So, a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, or anybody else can well skip Christmas and celebrate New Year’s Eve as the beginning of a new round of our lives.

    But confusion is abundant and found on all sides. In Turkey, they exist among not only the ultra-orthodox, but also the ultra-secular as well. The latter happily use the imagery of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree by totally abandoning their religious meanings and attaching them rather to the secular, and often quite hedonistic, New Year’s Eve. Thus, in the last days of December, you can see Christmas trees in the houses of upper-class Turks. For them, it is simply the Western way to celebrate the new year. The secularists in the United States, who want to de-Christianize the "holiday" season, might perhaps take a hint from this Turkish way of de-Christianizing the symbols of Christ.

    In fact, there is a good reason for secular Turks to dismiss the religious meaning of Christmas: for them, Jesus Christ does not mean much. But is this true for religious Turks, as well?

    Well, if they get their religion right, it shouldn’t be. Because, although some of them are not fully aware, Jesus Christ is also a holy figure for Muslims. The "Son of Mary," as he is sometimes called in the Koran, has a very special place in the Islamic faith. A very long chapter of Muslim Scripture, the "Sura of Mary," is devoted to the praise of his mother and the virgin birth she gave. In this chapter and also others, the preaching and miracles of Jesus are told in detail. In the sura named "Saff," Muslims are told to take his apostles as examples to follow. Jesus is even referred to in the Koran as "the Word of God," a term which has a curious resemblance to the introduction of the Fourth Gospel.

    To be sure, the Koran rejects that Jesus is God, or "Son of God," and denounces the Doctrine of Trinity. What I have found always intriguing is that although this Koranic picture of Jesus contradicts mainstream Christianity, it looks very similar to that of the earliest Christians: the Jewish followers of Jesus who regarded him as the promised messiah, the Son of David, but not God. From a careful reading of the New Testament, we can understand that the leader of these Jewish Christians were James the Just, the brother of Jesus, whereas Paul started another line that would ultimately became gentile, and thus mainstream, Christianity.

    While gentile Christianity was making inroads in Rome, to ultimately become its official faith, Jewish Christianity was struggling in the wilderness to perish in a few centuries. Early church history hints that the members of this line latter were called either "Nazarenes" or "Ebionites." The Jewish Encyclopedia notes that the Nazarenes "exalted Jesus as a just man, andÉ read the Gospel of Peter," which only survives in fragments today. Wikipedia underlines that the Ebionites "regarded Jesus as a mortal human messianic prophet, but not as divine." Had this earliest form of Christianity lived today, it would probably have a Christology that is much closer to the Islamic view.

    Another Mevlid Kandili?
    Whatever happened, happened. And Christianity took a Pauline form, whose logical end was the creation of the Doctrine of Trinity, which is unacceptable both to the Jewish and the Muslim understanding of monotheism.

    Yet the fact remains that despite their different opinions on his nature today Christians and Muslims are the only groups on Earth which adore Jesus Christ. The Koran even describes Muslims as "those who have faith in God and His Messengers and do not differentiate between any of them," (4: 152). So, their affection to Jesus, or any other prophet, should not be less than to Muhammad.

    That is why Christmas does not need to be seen by Muslims as an alien idea. The birthday of Prophet Muhammad is widely celebrated in the Muslim world as "Milad an-Nabi." In Turkey, it is called the "Mevlid Kandili." Why not welcome the birthday of another prophet, a most revered one in the Koran?

    Well, then, I guess all that’s left is for me is to extend to my not just Christian, but also Muslim readers, that joyful wish: Merry Christmas!
    Mustafa Akyol © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Americans In The Gulag Chained Ghosts Aug 7th 2008 The Economist

    PARANOIA and exhibitionism, two of the defining characteristics of the Soviet system, make a nasty mix. It was the Soviet Union’s desire to crow over depression-stricken America that encouraged it to let hundreds of workers, desperate for jobs and a new start in life, immigrate there in the early 1930s. Exactly how many nobody knows; almost all ended up in mass graves. Initially lauded as welcome refugees from the miseries of capitalism (and as useful specialists who might help replicate the bits of it that worked, such as factories) from 1935 onwards they became enemies of the people, infiltrators and spies. A tiny handful, such as Paul Robeson, a singer, were tolerated as propaganda trophies. The rest sank into a living Hades of torture, rape, slave labour, starvation, frostbite and death, shared with millions of others.

    The horrors of the Gulag ought to be as well known as Auschwitz, but they aren’t. Tim Tzouliadis includes many of them in his sprawling narrative. His statistics are sometimes sloppy and he seems barely aware that for most of its people the Soviet Union was already a hell-hole, even when the American workers were happily playing baseball in Gorky Park.

    The real value of his book is in chronicling the extraordinarily supine behaviour of American bureaucrats and politicians towards the fate of their fellow-countrymen. Even before their arrest, most of the Americans were, in effect, prisoners: with their passports confiscated they were involuntary Soviet citizens. But the only people who might have helped saw no reason to do so. Diplomats in America’s newly established embassy in Moscow regarded all the migrants as communist sympathisers who had thrown in their lot with the system. Some were, but many were not. Yet the diplomats put every obstacle and delay in the way of desperate people who were risking instant arrest for even contacting the embassy, for example by demanding that fees for replacement passports be paid in dollars at a time when possession of hard currency was a criminal offence.

    Equally astonishing was the lack of even a single squeak of protest. America’s ambassador, Joseph Davies, was an idle, gullible, Stalin-loving art collector. When the case of a missing American was half-heartedly raised by a subordinate, he promptly apologised to the Russians. Even when Americans working as locally hired staff at the embassy were arrested, nobody complained. George Kennan, a diplomat, eventually realised what was happening and wrote an eloquent memo. But nobody acted.

    If the diplomats look bad, so too do the Moscow-based foreign journalists, who shunned the story as liable to risk their official accreditation; the debaucheries on offer nightly at the Hotel Metropol, courtesy of the NKVD secret police, may have led them to choose their own livelihoods over the lives of others.

    The outbreak of war would have been a chance to ask for Stalin’s co-operation. Allied pressure brought a ragtag army of starving Poles from the depths of Siberia. But nobody cared about the Americans. President Franklin Roosevelt and his advisers emerge remarkably badly on this issue, seemingly determined not to bother Stalin with such trifles.

    The most revolting and murky twist to the story is the treatment of another wave of American captives: prisoners-of-war in Germany who had the misfortune to be freed by Soviet troops and were deported to the Gulag. Clues abounded, chiefly from defectors and former Gulag inmates who reached the West. Yet the files remained secret. Neither their fate, nor that of Americans captured during the Korean War, received attention. The American Red Cross brushed aside a request to intervene, saying that inquiries about Americans “domiciled” (hardly the right word) in NKVD camps would be a source of “annoyance, if not embarrassment”.

    A handful of survivors returned to tell their story to an often disbelieving public. Mr Tzouliadis has unearthed scandalous nuggets from the American archives. In that sense, he is right in his comforting assertion that “the truth, although it may be initially disbelieved, will always surface eventually.” But in another sense he is wrong. Even if the Russian archives were to yield everything they contain about the American names that so tantalisingly surface in his book, other questions would remain unanswered. When the eyewitnesses, perpetrators and victims are all dead, the real story of a crime dies too.

    Is It Difficult To Be Wealthy In Armenia? 22 December, 2008
    On the occasion of Christmas and New Year, Serzh Sargsyan invited over hundred representatives of the business community of Armenia to a reception at the President’s Office. Congratulating the guests on Christmas and New Year, the President said: “We all realise pretty well that 2009 is going to be a year of hard work. Our task is to resist the existing challenges through cooperation between the government and the private sector and pass the exam of time. The success of every of us in his sphere is the common success of all of us.” Recalling the old words “It’s hard to be wealthy in a poor country,” Serzh Sargsyan said there is only one way in the current situation: to make the country wealthier and stronger. The President wished success, high spirit and productive work to the businessmen in 2009.

    Hasan Jelal Guzel: "Those Who Launched Armenian Apology Campaign Betrayed The Motherland"[ 22 ???. 2008 ]

    Istanbul. Mayis Alizadeh – APA. “I am from Gaziantep, everybody knows that the Armenians together with the French killed about 5000 civilians in the region. Our “intellectuals”, who have launched apology campaign, do not speak about Armenians’ aggression against Turks in Anatolia and Caucasus,” former minister of state Hasan Jelal Guzel told APA’s Turkey bureau exclusively. He said those who started Armenian apology campaign were known for their double standards in Turkish society.

    “They support Barzani in northern Iraq, but do not speak about Turkmens undergoing aggression in Kirkuk. These “intellectuals” always had biased position on Turkish people. Those who have launched this campaign say they do it to eliminate enmity between the two nations. But in order to eliminate enmity Armenia should fulfill the conditions. President Abdullah Gul visited Armenia and Armenian leadership will visit Turkey. Some other steps may be taken, if the relations improve.

    For that at first injustices against Azerbaijan should be eliminated and Armenians must withdraw from the lands they occupied. If our “intellectuals” starts such campaign while we are trying to normalize relations in the region, I will bring to agenda the oppressions Armenian dashnaks committed against us 100 years ago. Then it will create tensions and damage the peace process. It meets interests of Armenian Diaspora before anything else”.

    Hasan Celal Guzel said the Armenian Diaspora did not want the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. “The main issue for them is a rancor and revenge. Our “intellectuals” are playing into the hands of Armenian Diaspora with starting this campaign. The Western media is writing now that the Turkish “intellectuals” also started to recognize the fact of “genocide”. Barack Obama was elected the President and he made some promises to Armenians. Barack Obama may use the phrase of “Armenian genocide” on April 24. Instead of prevention this action, we give an opportunity to the Armenian Diaspora. It is not particular to unveil military secrets to betray the homeland. These “intellectuals” are betraying the homeland. The “intellectuals”, who called their country as a “state committed genocide”, are high traitors. This process will have a negative impact on the Armenian people too. This campaign damages the Turkey’s policy and benefits for the Armenian Diaspora”.

    When You Con Your Own Will Madoff's scheme go down as the affinity fraud of all time? Gregory Rodriguez December 22, 2008
    We're obsessed with race and ethnic relations in the U.S., so much so that we tend to believe that most crime, violent or otherwise, is committed across racial, ethnic or religious lines. We make a special category for "hate" crimes. Governments compile statistics on them. Journalists, always looking for the next great divide, eagerly read intergroup conflict into just about any form of antisocial behavior.

    To a point it makes sense -- we know that humans are capable of terrible atrocities against the "other." But in other ways, the focus on such crimes leads us to forget that the overwhelming majority of criminal activity is intra-ethnic, not inter-ethnic. The news about the financially ruinous criminal acts confessed by Bernard L. Madoffis a stunning example. Madoff is Jewish, and so are most of his victims. He ran in privileged circles, and so did they. Forget strangers -- Madoff's alleged $50-billion fraud is a good example of the fact that it's people like us who can easily be our biggest enemies.

    Consider the data about who does what to whom. From 1976 to 2005, 86% of white murder victims were killed by whites. In that same period, 94% of black victims were murdered by blacks. And victimizers and victims don't just share racial categories, they also tend to know each other. We've all heard the statistic that the majority of victims killed by handguns are murdered by people they knew. Likewise, according to the Department of Justice, three in four women who have been raped and/or physically assaulted since age 18 are victimized by men they either know, dated or were once or currently married to.

    Cons, like violence, tend to be intra-ethnic and intra-communal. Between 1998 and 2001, more than 90,000 investors in 28 states lost more than $2.2 billion in what the Securities and Exchange Commission calls "affinity fraud" schemes, in which a member of an affinity group targeted and took his neighbors, friends or co-religionists. Madoff's scheme could take the affinity-fraud cake.

    The element of betrayal in any "intra" crime makes it especially devastating. That's because, in these cases, trust -- which is crucial for intimate relationships and society at large -- is destroyed. When we're wronged by the people we've let into our circle -- or worse, the people we've loved -- the heartbreak adds insult to injury.

    Only two years ago, the SEC issued a warning about a rising tide of affinity fraud. These scams, it said, "exploit the trust that exists in groups of people who have something in common."

    Perpetrators of affinity fraud often succeed by claiming that because they are "just like" their investors, they are in a unique position to help them. They also leverage group pride. One recently indicted scammer said he wanted to create more black millionaires; another said he was "proudly Hispanic." Others can highlight the tensions between their affinity group and others, sometimes accusing outsiders of keeping them out of investment markets.

    The government's list of such frauds shows that ethnic groups and churches are especially vulnerable. According to the SEC, in Glendale, an Armenian American took other Armenian Americans for $19 million, and elderly Jehovah's Witnesses and Korean immigrants have also been targeted. Pyramid schemes like the one Madoff said he ran-- where later investors provide the return for those who get in earlier -- are especially common. Indeed, Charles Ponzi, who gave pyramid schemes his name in the 1920s, mostly defrauded his fellow Italian Americans. In part because these crimes do target identifiable groups and shatter the victim's notions regarding the relative trustworthiness of their group members, University of Maryland law professor Lisa M. Fairfax argues that affinity fraud should be added to the roster of hate crimes.

    I'm not sure that it makes sense to add to or change that definition -- hate crimes are complicated enough to understand and prosecute. But Fairfax's notion that affinity fraud deserves special notice is worth considering. You might be tempted to say that Madoff only hurt his own, but don't be too smug if you and yours weren't among them. The destruction of the social fabric inherent in Madoff's actions affects us all. When trust is defeated, everyone loses.

    grodriguez at latimescolumnists.com

    Obama Must Heed Turk PM’s Advisor
    ISTANBUL - Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who was in Istanbul recently, said U.S. President-elect Barack Obama should pay attention to the analysis of Ahmet Davutoğlu, top foreign policy advisor to Turkey’s prime minister on the Middle East.

    Carrying his interview with Davutoğlu in his Sunday column, Ignatius said the advisor said the series of political choices ahead in the Middle East next year was like a row of dominoes that could create chaos if toppled in the wrong direction.

    "What is intriguing about Davutoglu's analysis is that it involves a series of elections. That is good news for a region that has had too little democracy. The bad news is that voters may make choices that confound U.S. policy and that make peace in the region more difficult," he wrote.

    "We want the world community to understand that these elections are important, and that they will affect the Obama presidency," Ignatius quoted Davutoğlu as saying.

    Start with Palestinians
    The string of political choices begins with the Palestinians, whose leader Mahmoud Abbas’ term expires Jan. 9. As he failed to extend his term, presidential and parliamentary elections await the Palestinians.

    Another domino is Israel itself, Davutoğlu said. "If hard-liners begin to win [among Palestinians and Israelis], that means the issue will be security," said Davutoğlu. "Security will be more important than peace."

    The line of political dominoes continues with local elections in Iraq, parliamentary elections in Lebanon and most importantly presidential elections in Iran that will determine whether radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stays or goes.

    Turkey with Davutoğlu has opened up to its neighbors and the coming months will show whether this strategy has been successful or not, said Ignatius.

    How Turkish Are The Turks?
    To turn the current global financial crisis into an opportunity any wise company should launch a DNA testing business in Turkey. The Turks will definitely queue up; but they may possibly be disappointed by the results

    George Orwell once wrote that the English are not happy unless they are miserable, the Irish are not at peace unless they are at war, and the Scots are not at home unless they are abroad. The Turks probably do not feel Muslim and Turkish enough unless they are "accused" of being non-Muslim and non-Turkish.

    The Turkish jargon for insults, curses and argot is very rich in ethnic discrimination. You might hear someone telling you that "even Damascus’s sweets would not be worth seeing an Arab’s face," or that "when the gypsy plays the Kurd dances," or that "someone had chickened out like a Jew," or that "the woman has facial hair like an Armenian."

    In the 1970s you could hear someone complaining that "s/he is being treated like a Greek." In the ideological sphere, one can always be heard of complaining that "s/he is being treated like a communist" too.

    More recently we have seen corporate and/or media wars in which rivals "accused" each other of coming from "Greek descent." In politics we have seen rivals accusing each other of coming from Jewish descent, or of belonging to families that had converted from Judaism to Islam. The "Jewish convert" theme is particularly common when the Islamists launch a campaign to discredit the top brass.

    Most recently, the Republican People’s Party, or CHP’s DNA detective, the lady member of Parliament, or MP, "accused" President Abdullah Gul for having "maternal Armenian ancestors." And President Gul has sued her for "insulting him." In the personality of Canan Aritman we see a common Turkish thinking, an ethnic mix-up with "the other" is something to be ashamed of. Carrying "the other’s blood" is something to discredit someone. And the person "accused" of carrying a non-purely Turkish blood reflexively "defends" that s/he is purely Muslim and Turkish. The honorable MP and the president are no exception.

    The unpleasant facts about Turkish perceptions of "the other" are just too visible. An MP publicly "accuses" the president of having Armenian ancestors, I see faces around curiously thinking "could it be true," and the president publicly "defends" himself with a family tree and proudly declares his family has been "Muslim and Turkish for several generations."

    The president will now have to prove in court that he is not maternally Armenian. And the MP will try to prove he is. Could the word "sick" be fairly describing the situation?

    But this is more of a religious thing than ethnic. Despite several discriminative colloquial references to other Muslim nations like Arabs and Kurds, the accusations invariably point to religious otherness.

    Can it be a coincidence that we have seen one-half, one-third, one-quarter or fully Kurdish or Arab or Bosnian figures as politicians, senior bureaucrats, generals, diplomats in this country, but for some reason never a Jew, or Armenian or a Greek. Not even a senior police officer. Not even a colonel. Not even a deputy undersecretary. Despite the fact that non-Muslim Turks are full citizens paying their taxes, being drafted into the army and voting. ’Turkishness’ has a covertly religious connotation in these lands.

    For example, I have never seen any corporate or political figure being "accused" of coming from Albanian, Bosnian, Chechen, Uighur or Circassian descent. Sadly, this cannot be a coincidence. "Turkish news" on the other hand is full of prominent figures being accused of having Armenian, Greek or Ñ overtly or covertly Ñ Jewish blood.

    This must be a lapse of collective thinking. For example, the "Greeks and Turks" during the exchange of populations in 1923 were simply handpicked as "Muslims and Orthodox Christians." Some "Turks" who were "exchanged" did not even speak Turkish, and some "Greeks" did not speak Greek.

    Ironically, neither the Turks nor the Greeks were welcomed in their new homelands, and in later generations they became fiercely nationalistic in order to prove to the locals that they are really "pure."

    In the Turkish case, the collective attention about Turkishness is especially bizarre when one thinks of the numerous non-Muslim mothers who gave birth to Ottoman sultans.

    The truth is, in these lands it would probably be too difficult to find a pure Turk at DNA standards. Anyone in the land of the crescent and star can be carrying one or a mix of the bloods of at least 50 ethnicities. The best is never to be interested in DNA search as most all-too-Muslim-Turkish-Turks could be sorrowfully disappointed by the results.
    Burak Bekdil © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    AKP Contradicts Itself In Armenian Issue
    The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, first appeared before us as a party that deeply respected human rights, freedom of thought, civil movements and even, was at the forefront of these issues. And for this it received much applause and support from the intellectual and liberal segment of society. The "Armenian Apology Campaign" has ruined the AKP’s image, which had already been eroding for some time. For that matter, the party contradicts its former attitude from the ground up.

    One very distinct example for this is the immediate reaction of the Prime Minister, saying this movement is harmful. This sign given by the person leading the administration was enough to activate all those who are deeply attached to formal ideology. The most characteristic example came from the Foreign Ministry.

    Spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, Burak Özügergin, made a very decent announcement. He said this was a civil society movement and formal politics were continuing just like before, and underlined that in our hearts the pain of our martyred diplomats has not yet subsided.

    This was an extremely civilized and democratic announcement. When, immediately after that, the negative reaction of the Prime Minister came up, everybody focused on Foreign Minister Babacan. The minister did not surprise us, putting aside the announcement of his spokesman, he stated that these types of movements could inflict a heavy blow on ongoing negotiations with the Armenians.

    Meaning he did not leave the track of his boss. I think that the AKP has denied itself in this matter and showed that it has changed. The AKP we know would have reacted to this movement like President Gül. We encountered the opposite.

    We reap what we sow
    That is to say, the AKP is democratic, but on its own hook. Talking about democracy and freedom of speech if it suits its books, while turning its back if it doesn’t. It means that things they say regarding minorities and those with an ethnic origin is just eyewash.

    The Armenian Apology Campaign has revealed such bogeyman you wouldn’t believe it. It is enough to just look at discussions. Oh, my god, it is unbelievable. Aren’t you shivering as you read about the words from the Republican People’s Party, or CHP’s Canan Arıtman.

    Arıtman has become a symbol. A symbol for how twisted the feelings of the Turkish public are toward the Armenian issue. Her announcements and her continuing logic make you shiver.

    On the other hand, I was astonished by President Gül’s reaction. Yet, on first sight he assumed a very civilized attitude. He had an attitude not likely seen in the AKP. Then he suddenly was alarmed. He shifted his ground onto proving his mother’s origin. He explained and filed a lawsuit. Why? For filing a lawsuit means that his mother was confronted with a bad role or accusation. Yet is there any crime if Gül’s mother was of Armenian or any other origin?

    If he only had said "my mother’s origin is obvious. Even if she was of Armenian origin I would be proud of it," instead of bringing out a family tree and stating "my family is Muslim and Turkish registered background dates back centuries."

    If he only had not felt like stressing "Muslim and Turkish," as if being Armenian was a shame. As a matter of fact, all this confusion is based on the doctrine at school, articles in newspapers and discussions at universities. We were for many years raised with distorted concepts. So now we reap what we sow.

    To understand the Armenian issue
    Sedat Laçiner from the International Strategic Research Organization, info@usak.org.tr, has written an extremely interesting book. The book "Ermeni Sorunu, Diaspora ve Türk Dış Politikası" has a basic goal, it examines how the Armenian allegations affects the relations between Turkey and the world.

    We are only interested in the Armenian issue. On the other side of the coin there is the Armenian diaspora and the diaspora is what really bothers Turkey. This book examines development of the Armenian issue and the effects of the diaspora in view of Turkey’s foreign policy in detail. I recommend it, read it. Even if you know the subject very well, buy and store it, for it has a nice chronological structure.
    Mehmet Ali Birand © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Problem Of Information Security
    The organization of the international conference “Information War” dedicated to the 90th anniversary of “Armenpress” press agency, gives hope that our officials will also take serious actions to solve the sad situation existing in this extremely important sphere of national security.
    It will firstly depend on the successful process of the activity of the interagency commission to be formed by the decision of the Council of the National Security, which will try to elaborate certain protocol on ensuring information security in Armenia.

    It is not possible to delay the settlement of this problem, because our neighbor countries have noticeably moved forward as compared with our country. Moreover two of them, Turkey and Iran, countries with serious tradition of statehood can create certain climate in the world information domain.

    Azerbaijan and Georgia have also formed serious systems of spreading information in the international sphere. In this regard Azerbaijan’s experience is especially noteworthy, which over the recent decade invested enormous financial means for the formation of certain international image for our country, as well as staged information war against Armenia.

    Matters took such a turn that Azerbaijani press agencies (“Day-Az” is the most aggressive among them) turned into structures that carry out investigative and lobbyist activity for Baku. Once they learn that this or that foreign company or bank has made investment in Nagorno Karabakh they will immediately put into practice the mechanisms of advocacy blackmail.

    They blackmail and boycott also those international press agencies, which dare to spread even little information about Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. The vivid example is the recent aggressive campaign of “Day-Az” against the Russian “Regnum”.

    They also put into practice the organization of the Internet version of the “protest letters” written by the Azerbaijanis living in different countries. Once they see a brochure or a movie, or a booklet, which makes the leaders of the Azerbaijani Internet nervous the protest campaign immediately starts. And some people think that it is spontaneous, which means their publication was really unilaterally pro-Armenian.

    The problems of information security are of course not limited to the activity of the press agencies. Their realization requires corresponding approach and knowledge, from the leaders of certain ministers, agencies, as well as educational institutions and organizations in Diaspora.
    Let’s remember what negative impact had the absence of the Armenian delegation in the conference of the Ministers of Culture of COE member states, on our country’s international image. Azerbaijan managed to take the role of the “bridge of civilization”, fundamentally falsifying the cultural past of the region, without any sign of counteraction.

    The process of the Armenian -Turkish dialogue was another proof of Armenia’s imperfectness in the sphere of information security. All the Armenian agencies, especially those ensuring the spheres of the foreign policy and foreign advocacy were not ready for those challenges, due to which the international community has come to a conclusion that they shouldn’t interfere in the relations of Armenia and Turkey, which is at the stage of “ political honeymoon”.

    But the protocol of the information security won’t stop this dangerous process, unless the strategy of the insurance of information security is elaborated.

    At present we shouldn’t be inspired of the organization of international conference “Information Wars” in Yerevan, Let’s be patient, and wait until they translate into action the concerns and standpoints expressed in this conference. VARDAN GRIGORYAN

    Moody's Issues Annual Report On Armenia 19.12.08
    Armenia's government bond ratings and stable outlook are supported by its manageable debt levels, says Moody's Investors Service in its annual report on the country.

    The ratings are constrained by the low level of economic and institutional development of the country, along with its concentrated economic base and volatile neighbourhood, reported BBJ.

    â€sArmenia has not been directly affected by the global credit crunch although second-round effects are now being felt from the compression of world demand and the difficult conditions in Russia, its primary trading partner and the source of large diaspora remittances,â€t said Moody's Associate Vice President Joan Feldbaum-Vidra, Moody's sovereign analyst for Armenia.

    She said growth is likely to decelerate sharply in the next few years even as the government moves forward with large public sector investment projects financed by multilateral funds. The spending on such projects should help sustain the growth momentum even as the fiscal deficits are set to shrink.

    â€sThe country's low government debt and minimal refinancing risks are allowing its rating to maintain a stable outlook in the current environment,â€t said Feldbaum-Vidra. â€sA weak revenue base is the main fiscal risk, although it is ameliorated by the very comfortable debt service profile, its good relations with its official creditors, and the liquidity provided by the expatriate Armenian community.â€t

    Moody's reports that Armenia's economic prospects continue to be hampered by strained relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and that the border between Turkey and Armenia is closed, increasing the cost of both exports and imports.

    â€sArmenia's low institutional strength is another constraint on its ratings,â€t said Feldbaum-Vidra. â€sThe authorities are very keen to address this, recognizing that high levels of corruption and a suboptimal business climate need to be corrected in order to achieve long-term sustainable growth and to attract investment.â€t

    Moody's first-ever ratings for Armenia were assigned in 2006 and include a Baa3 ceiling to foreign currency bonds and notes and a Ba3 ceiling for foreign currency bank deposits, all with stable outlooks.

    The Worrying Tayyip Erdogan Nov 27th 2008 | ANKARA The Economist
    Turkey’s prime minister once promised big reforms to bring his country closer to the European Union. He seems no longer to be pushing them

    WHEN Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Justice and Development (AK) Party narrowly escaped banning by the constitutional court in July, the big question was which Erdogan would then come to the fore. Would it be the non-ideological pragmatist, whose bold reforms had helped Turkey to secure the start of membership talks with the European Union in 2005? Or would it be the dogmatic and erratic leader who had provoked Turkey’s meddlesome generals, always anxious to undermine the AK Party because of its Islamist roots, by seeking soon after his election victory in July 2007 to ease the ban on the Islamic-style headscarf in universities?

    The question of which version of Mr Erdogan is in charge has gained extra urgency because Turkey is grappling with mounting violence in the mainly Kurdish south-east. It also matters to the financial markets as the government tries to protect its fragile economy from the global financial typhoon. Worryingly, the answer seems to be: the second version. Mr Erdogan appears increasingly autocratic and out of touch. And because he lacks any credible political opponents, either within or beyond the AK Party, this is making Turkey look stagnant and adrift—and further away from EU membership than ever.

    Mr Erdogan’s odd behaviour was on display during his most recent trip to America. When asked in Washington for his view about Iran’s nuclear ambitions he retorted that “those who possess nuclear weapons do not have the right to tell others to not acquire them too.” This comment did not go down well with American officials, whose memories are seared by Turkey’s refusal in March 2003 to let America use its soil to launch a second front against Iraq. A recent gas deal struck by the Turks with Iran has not helped. For all of Turkey’s assistance over Iraq since 2003 (some 70% of non-combat materiel for American troops goes through Turkey) and in Afghanistan (where Turkey has 1,200 troops), America is asking new questions about Turkish dependability as a Western ally.

    Another thundercloud is gathering over demands by the Armenian diaspora in America, most of whom strongly supported Barack Obama’s election as president, that he stick to the view he expressed as a senator that the massacre of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 should be seen as “genocide”. Turkey’s recent efforts at reconciliation with Armenia, motivated in part by hopes of staving off a formal recognition of genocide by the Obama administration, seem to be making little progress. Some Western diplomats ascribe this to the pressure hawks in the diaspora have applied to the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan.

    But it is at home that Mr Erdogan is causing the most concern. The hope was that, with his legal travails behind him, the prime minister would resume much-delayed political and economic reforms. Instead he has adopted an increasingly strident nationalist line. There is talk of his having struck a deal with Turkey’s new, hardline chief of staff, Ilker Basbug, according to which Mr Erdogan has promised to freeze reforms that dilute the army’s power in exchange for his party’s not being attacked in court again.

    Mr Erdogan’s new approach was most evident in a speech he gave earlier this month in the predominantly Kurdish town of Hakkari. Responding to a wave of bloody protests that has racked the Kurdish region, he invited those who were not happy to “go wherever they please”. Ibrahim Guclu, an independent Kurdish politician, says that “in other words, he was telling the Kurds to get out.” This is a far cry from a ground-breaking speech Mr Erdogan made in Diyarbakir three years ago, when he admitted that the Turkish state had made mistakes with the Kurds.

    Now he is giving the army much freer rein in its 34-year campaign against the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). When Taraf, a liberal Turkish newspaper, exposed army negligence in a recent PKK attack that killed 17 soldiers at an outpost in Hakkari, he chose not to order an investigation and attacked the newspaper instead. His aides are reported to have blamed leaks of the intelligence reports cited by Taraf on Israel and the CIA.

    Meanwhile EU-inspired work on drawing up a new constitution to replace the current one, drawn up by the generals after a military coup in 1980, has stalled. Reports of police torture and extra-judicial killings are on the rise. Turkey’s liberal intelligentsia, long among Mr Erdogan’s stalwart supporters, is grumbling, as is the European Commission. Mr Erdogan’s response has been to rescind the press accreditation of several journalists who cover the prime ministry. All of this is giving more ammunition to those EU members that have never wanted Turkey to join their club.

    Mr Erdogan owes much of his electoral success to the unprecedented economic stability of his time in office. By sticking firmly to IMF prescriptions Turkey helped foreign investment to soar, tamed inflation and narrowed the budget deficit. But the IMF standby arrangement expired in May. And although Mehmet Simsek, the economy minister, has repeatedly hinted that it should be extended, a deal remains elusive. Foreign investors, who hold as much as 70% of the Istanbul Stock Exchange, have been pulling out, and the lira has tumbled by more than a third against the dollar this year. Growth of GDP has dipped sharply, to below 2%. Turkey’s huge current-account deficit makes it more vulnerable than many other emerging markets. Although it has so far been relatively unaffected by the world financial malady, it is only a matter of time “before it catches the bug”, says one Istanbul-based banker.

    Mr Erdogan’s supporters insist that the government’s inertia is mainly to do with municipal elections being held next March. An IMF deal would preclude a pre-electoral spending spree. Being too nice to the Kurds might strengthen the nationalist opposition in the face of spiralling PKK terrorism. “Once the elections are over, you’ll see the old AK,” promises Abdurrahman Kurt, an AK deputy from Diyarbakir.

    But such promises are beginning to ring hollow. When Mr Erdogan won power a second time, with an even bigger share of the vote, in July 2007, he promised to reach out to all Turks “including those of you who didn’t vote for me.” He seems now to be alienating such voters. And as corruption also starts to infect the AK’s ranks, it is beginning to resemble many of the tired old parties that it buried at the polls.

    Rare Turkish Bird Haven Under Threat By Sarah Rainsford North-eastern Turkey

    The water stretched out before them is covered with black dots that suddenly come alive as flocks of birds open their wings and soar into the early morning sky.

    "I've never seen such a congregation of wildfowl in my life, it's phenomenal!" enthuses Glen, binoculars glued to his eyes - a spotter who has come to Turkey from Britain.

    "The number of birds is overwhelming. It's awe-inspiring. I don't know where to look."

    Kuyucuk lake, close to Turkey's border with Armenia, lies at a critical spot on the bird migration path between eastern Europe and Africa.

    Almost 200 species stop here to feed, breed or rest en route, and the spotters have recorded 14 species that are globally endangered.

    Ten rare white-headed duck are regular visitors to Kuyucuk and the orange-bodied ruddy shelduck, rarely seen in the wild in Europe, is in abundance here.

    Grass greener

    A small team of conservationists now work at the lake, documenting its rich population and battling to keep the birds' habitat intact.

    For years, nearby villagers have led their cattle to graze by the water. They have chomped the tall reeds that once lined the shore to the roots, leaving little space for the birds to nest or breed in.

    The conservationists have fenced off small zones to encourage re-growth.

    But the wire has been cut in several places by local shepherds, convinced the grass on the forbidden side must be greener.

    "People here say they are proud of the lake and support us," explains Dr Cagan Sekercioglu, who heads the lake conservation project for the KuzeyDoga Association.

    "But if a shepherd's out here alone and he sees the nice green grass and reeds in our enclosure, he'll let the animals in. It's too tempting."

    Trucker 'magnet'

    Now a new threat to the lake is looming.

    The Turkish-Armenian border lies just 30km (19 miles) from Kuyucuk, but it was closed in the 1990s when Turkey sided with Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia. Diplomatic relations were frozen.

    But there are talks now about re-opening the border and re-establishing official ties.

    Many locals support that and the surge in trade it is sure to bring. Ornithologists fear disaster.

    A branch of the old road to Armenia already bisects the lake, but it is rarely used.

    "That road would definitely be expanded if the border opens, then the whole lake area would be a magnet for truckers," Dr Sekercioglu says.

    He worries the area will be developed - until hotels, shops and recreation facilities crowd the shoreline.

    Legally, there is nothing to stop that.

    Rare wetland

    "The birds come here to rest," Dr Sekercioglu says. "They can't afford to waste valuable migration energy, fleeing from visitors. If they're constantly disturbed they can't stay here."

    Almost 60% of Turkey's wetlands have disappeared in the past five decades - a result of irresponsible irrigation combined with climate change. That has made the struggle to save Kuyucuk for the birds more urgent.

    Every so often a huge truck rumbles by loaded with construction materials for a new dam being built nearby.

    The prospect of irrigation is encouraging villagers to plan more intensive farming, using fertilisers for the first time. If that happens, those chemicals are sure to contaminate the lake.

    But on its shore the protection work goes on, to the constant honk of hundreds of shelduck.

    Every hour, volunteers untangle birds from huge nets strung at various points on the lakeside. They weigh and measure them, then release them into the wild with a metal leg-ring to track their progress.

    "We want to see where they go, what the trends are and how global warming is affecting things," explains Alan Brooks, a volunteer from South Africa, who is dressed in shorts despite the biting cold.

    "Tens of thousands of birds use this place. It's one of the few wetlands of its type left. We must preserve it. It's very important," Mr Brooks believes.

    Dangerous time

    The volunteers are true enthusiasts, able to swap bird stories non-stop and never tire.

    But the team knows they need to infect the local villagers with some of their passion to have any chance of protecting Kuyucuk for the future.

    "For now, people talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk," Dr Sekercioglu explains.

    "Conservation is still seen as a luxury in Turkey," he says, though in Kuyucuk awareness is improving - encouraged by talk of eco-tourism and a potential income for the villagers.

    Due to Dr Sekercioglu's tireless campaigning, Turkey's environment ministry has been considering granting the lake area limited protection status.

    However, there are signs it may be faltering - and Dr Sekercioglu is worried.

    "We've lost so many important conservation sites almost overnight in Turkey - and ones with far stricter protection than what's being considered for Kuyucuk," he says.

    "Anything could happen here." © BBC

    Obama Should Visit Istanbul
    ISTANBUL - President-elect Barack Obama, who pledged to visit a Muslim capital during his first 100 days in office, should choose Turkey or Indonesia, two key Muslim-majority countries going through a steady democratic transition, according to the Washington Post.

    In an article published Saturday, Egyptian sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim said delivering a message of U.S. reconciliation with the rest of the world may begin with the 1.4 billion Muslims.

    "Since democracy, a deeply held value of Americans, has become an aspiration for most Muslims, democracy should be central to Obama's message Ğ and to his choice of where to deliver it," he noted, adding that Turkey and Indonesia were the places to deliver the message. "By their example, Indonesia and Turkey have laid to rest both Samuel Huntington's ’Clash of Civilizations’ proposition and the idea that Islam and democracy are incompatible," he wrote.

    Ibrahim argued that many of the Muslim countries’ rulers were despotic, repressive and corrupt, but some of them have also been friends or outright allies of the United States. "While the rest of the Muslim world has a long way to go toward democracy, Indonesia and Turkey should be celebrated as role models. Nothing would speak louder and clearer to that notion than an early visit by the universally popular Barack Obama," he said. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Obama Should Consider Turkish Advisor's Mideast Experiences
    A Turkish foreign policy advisor's domino theory on next year's elections in the Middle East deserves careful attention from Barack Obama's team as the U.S. President-elect thinks about shaping its strategy in the region, a columnist from The Washington Post wrote on Sunday.

    Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, highlighted series of political choices that are ahead in the several Middle East countries next year, in an interview with David Ignatius in Istanbul on Wednesday.

    "He might be describing a row of dominoes. If they fall in the right direction, good things could happen. But if they start toppling the wrong way, watch out," Ignatius wrote.

    There will be elections in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran in the first of half of next year.

    "That's good news for a region that has had too little democracy. The bad news is that voters may make choices that confound U.S. policy, and that make peace in the region more difficult," Ignatius added.

    "We want the world community to understand that these elections are important, and that they will affect the Obama presidency," he also wrote quoting Davutoglu.

    "If hard-liners begin to win [among Palestinians and Israelis], that means the issue will be security," Davutoglu said. "Security will be more important than peace."

    Davutoglu said his slogan is "zero problems on our borders." © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    The Armenian Community in Sweden, Larisa Paremuzyan December 22, 2008
    There are about 5-6,000 Armenians residing in Sweden. Most live in the capital Stockholm or in the city of Uppsala. Armenians first started to move to Sweden some 30 years ago, mainly from Iraq, Syria and Leban/on. Some ten years a new group of Armenians from Karabakh and Armenia began to arrive as well as Armenians from Turkey.

    “We have our clubs, where Armenians meet. There are 3-4 clubs in Uppsala and others in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo Many Armenians are from Turkey and do not speak Armenian. They didn’t use the language in Turkey because it was forbidden. For one day a week in the clubs there are Armenian lessons for them,” stated Mourat Artin, an Armenian who heads the Swedish Left Party’s office in the town of Orebro.

    There’s an Armenian center that coordinates the activities of Armenian organizations. Karapet Manukyan, a resident of Stockholm and the first Armenian we met in Sweden, became the first president of the center years ago. “How should I put it; the center opened many years ago and worked fine for a time. There were people who didn’t agree with how things were run and wanted to change things, and they did,” Mr. Manukyan states. He added that he doesn’t belong to any Armenian organization at present and doesn’t even know who runs the center today.

    Murat Artin believes that it was Karo Hakobyan from Uppsala that was the best president of the center. Mr. Hakobyan, center founder and past president stated that it has been one year that he left the post and that it was due to intrigues taking place in the center. He recounted that he had edited the center’s bilingual Armenian-Swedish paper, “New Horizon” for 12 years, that he’s a member of the Uppsala Armenian union and that he’s president of the Europe’s Armenian Congress.

    Briefly, the Armenian community in Sweden took form some 28-30 years ago. There are Armenian migrants from all countries here. Of course, there are Armenian organizations in different cities and there’s a working Armenian Apostolic Church with a council, two clergymen and a Sunday schools. There are Armenian unions in all cities with sizeable Armenian communities. In a word, there are the same Armenian institutions here that you’d find elsewhere, in other countries. I can add that some twenty years ago an umbrella organization was formed that includes almost all Armenian organizations. It’s a democratic structure based on Swedish lines,” Mr. Hakobyan stressed.

    He noted that the center carries out very successful activities in the social and political spheres and that in particular it initiated cooperation with Armenian communities in the Baltic States and Norway. Now, however, he believes that the center is undergoing a period of stagnation. “I believe that the community today isn’t that active and that there are many social, economic and political difficulties. Even the situation in Armenia has an impact here. If the political and social situation in Armenia was normal it would positively impact on the Diaspora. Sadly, the present impact is negative.”

    Regarding Armenian refugee seekers in Sweden, Karo Hakobyan stated, “In the past, when we had immigrants from Armenia or other countries, our organization was able to contact the Swedish government authorities and demand that they grant these people residency status by pointing out that, say in the case of Iraq or Iran, that there were extenuating political circumstances and difficulties. It was difficult for us, however, to declare that the situation in Armenia was just as bad. You know, this creates a type of uncertainty or doubt. It’s difficult for someone to speak ill of the regime in Armenia.”

    Nevertheless, Karo Hakobyan related that as soon as the migrants are registered as refugees in Sweden they start to receive government assistance until a decision is reached regarding their permanent residency in the country. If they are not granted residency then the refugee must go underground where they face a host of problems. “Sweden is a country that if you don’t officially enter the social system life is near impossible,” stated Mr. Hakobyan.

    The present president of the Armenian coordinating center is Iranian-Armenian Vahagn Avetyan. We were not able to meet him in Stockholm. In Orebro we did meet up with Mesrob Koseian, a member of the center, who migrated from Turkey six months ago. Talking about the work carried out by the center, Mr. Koseian stated, “The center assists Armenians in Sweden to integrate into the system as well as to preserve their Armenian identity and to promote Armenian interests within the Swedish government.” He also recounted that there are some 30 Armenian organizations in Sweden and that all Armenians are included in them.

    It was in the city of Orebro, a city of 150,000, that we saw the actual concerns that Armenians have in this country. As of 2008, the president of the city’s Armenian union is Norair Khatchadourian. “We came from Baghdad, Iraq and have been here for six years,” said Mr. Khatchadourian. There are some 30 Armenian families here, about 130 individuals. Speaking about their ties to the Armenian coordinating center, Mr. Khatchadourian said, “We have ties with the center. They send us their decisions and we carry them out here.” Talking about the work carried out by the center with Swedish government bodies, he noted, “The center can do things. We need people in the parliament to get our voices heard. Today, we don’t have those people there like in 1999 when Mourat Artin was in the Swedish Parliament.”

    Edvard Zakaryan, who hails from Karabakh and is a member of the Orebro Armenian union, stated that the community actively participated in activities after the murder of Hrant Dink and in demonstrations in Stockholm on Genocide day.

    It turns out that Armenians of Orebro go without the services of an Armenian clergyman. There are no Armenian churches in Sweden and Armenians rent Swedish churches to perform the Divine Liturgy. “When we tell the priest that we want him to come and perform church services on a particular day he responds that the day we have picked isn’t convenient for him. What can we do? We can’t rearrange the entire community schedule to suit him, now can we?” Norair Khatchadourian asked.

    Then too, there are no Armenian schools in Sweden. “Armenian kids are scattered throughout Swedish schools, but any family that wants their children to be taught Armenian can apply to the school. There are Armenian instructors available to teach the children Armenian. There are about 25-30 kids now taking lessons. But not all want to learn Armenian and you can’t force them, can you?” stated Alice Kochakzian, who left Baghdad with her husband and two sons.

    “My son Ohan is in the 6th grade here and I really want him to learn Armenian but there is no teacher,” rued Norair Khatchadourian.

    Congress Ponders Genocide Bill: But Was It Genocide? Tulin Daloglu December 24, 2008

    In a recent action alert, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) wrote that "[t]he Turkish government, which has outlawed discussion of the Armenian genocide within its borders, is exporting its undemocratic free-speech restrictions to the United States by imposing a 'gag-rule' on congressional consideration and adoption of the Armenian Genocide Resolution." This kind of talk will soon - once again - dominate the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

    President-elect Barack Obama will have to decide by April 24, Armenian Remembrance Day, whether he will keep the promise he made to his Armenian-American constituents to call their World War I loss a "genocide." Congress will make its decision separately - either before or after the president's annual statement. This issue has come before Congress many times over the last three decades, and for various reasons those bills did not pass. President Reagan used the word "genocide" once, in his 1981 annual statement. But he did not continue to use it throughout his presidency. Some think Mr. Obama will choose to follow in Mr. Reagan's footsteps.

    The issue of the Armenian "genocide" has proven to be a thorny one for all sides. Winston Churchill once said, "A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind, and won't change the subject." Unfortunately, this issue has created fanatics. And in such an environment, the chance for people to gain a fuller understanding of their past and hopefully begin to heal is being delayed. It's not clear whether people are demanding an acknowledgement of past atrocities, or if they simply want revenge.

    If the "genocide" bill in Congress is written with a moral duty in mind, why is it so focused on the Armenian tragedy and not those suffered by others - for example, the Ukrainians? Studies show that an estimated 25,000 people died daily at the height of the Ukrainian famine in 1933. By the end of that year, nearly 25 percent of the Ukrainian population is thought to have perished. Russia refuses to call this a "genocide." Or, take a look at how many American Indians were killed on this land. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, once said, population levels are 90 percent below what they were when Columbus landed. For that matter, what about North Korea? Congress passed the North Korean Human Rights Act almost three years ago despite significant criticism. Yet since then, Congress has not been able to use the bill as leverage, or as a tool to end human rights abuses in North Korea - because it feared that North Korea would withdraw from nuclear talks. The White House and Congress need to clarify why they believe a "genocide" bill would help people to move on, and what other good it would do.

    The ANCA seems to regard all developments in Turkey as tu quoque. It is, however, no longer taboo to discuss the issue in public. But it took a long time, and many unfortunate incidents, to get to this point. The issue is now being discussed in every household, in universities and in the newspapers. Now almost everyone feels pressured to take sides. Recently, 100 Turkish academics and journalists started an Internet campaign, "We apologize" (www.ozurdiliyoruz.com), which stated that they apologize for the Great Tragedy that Armenians suffered under the Ottoman rule. So far, more than 15,000 Turks have publicly offered their support by attaching their names to this statement.

    University professor Cengiz Aktar, the father of this idea, told me that since the murder of Hrant Dink, editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, he has felt a duty to start a dialogue - and to do something about the issue. "This is a private, civilian expression of our feelings about what happened to the Armenians who once lived on this land," he told me. "This has nothing to do with the bills that are before the U.S. Congress. … If the U.S. Congress passes the bill this year, then we will think what to say about it." University professor Soli Ozel agreed, saying, "If they were to free Turkey of the pressures [of these bills], we would be able to talk about the issue in a more desirable way." Turkey still has issues when it comes to freedom of speech, but on this matter, it's like a free-for-all for people to say whatever they wish. Unfortunately, that freedom hasn't always extended to the U.S. Pressure from the Armenian community forced Georgetown University to cancel a speech to students by Archbishop Mesrob II Mutafyan, the Armenian patriarch of Istanbul, last year. There was concern that the archbishop might challenge the notion that Armenians were innocent victims of the Ottomans.

    If Mr. Obama's presidency will be defined by change, his first order of business with NATO ally Turkey should not be about whether to call what happened to the Armenians "genocide." It should be about bringing definitive clarity both to the end of World War I for Turkey, and about how Turkey and the West move forward into the 21st century.

    Tulin Daloglu is a free-lance writer.

    Comments 1 - 2 of 2
    By: Manuel

    Toplu. I do know the background of the writer, she has written articles on this site as well as her Turkish Digest website as well having her articles printed in blatantly nationalist websites.

    I am sorry you feel that way about Armenians, in my first comment I did not make any comments about Turks as a whole but only regarding the writer and the Turkish government. I am well aware of the fact that Turks helped save thousands of Armenians during the Genocide and they are risking their lives today by daring to talk about it and raising the issue in public. Your comments regarding all Armenians are blatantly racist - please read them again yourself.

    The writer tries to use a quote by Winston Churchill regarding what constitutes a fanatic. If she had researched the subject properly she would have known that Winston Churchill referred to what happened to the Armenians as 'administrative Holocaust'.
    The reason why Armenians are not warm to the subject of a joint commission is that only a handful of historians and the Turkish government believe it was not Genocide, but mainly because while it has suggested the commission it has quashed any debate on the subject in Turkey - Why - let there be open, honest, full debate on the subject in Turkey first - without the hatred and death threats towards those Turks speaking their minds? After over 90 years of distortion of facts in Turkey - it is only now that the debate has begun, Turkey should find out for itself what happened in 1915 openly and honestly - before suggesting a 'joint commission' .

    Every time this debate is raised the question of Nagorno Kharabagh is raised - as if somehow the present has a hand in the past. Nachichevan and areas including Kharabagh were annexed to Azerbaijan from Armenia by Russia, thats why the population of kharabagh was predominantly Armenian ( and yes there were ethnic Azeris, and yes they were forced out and they should ultimately be given the right to return).
    I agree there should be understanding and peace between the two neighbours, but it can only be done with acceptance of the truth. The book for which the Turkish publisher was imprisoned was called ' The truth will set us free' - about how the writers family was saved by a Turkish family it was a book on understanding and reconciliation, but as I said 301 was used to imprison the publisher. I don't believe the Turkish population is racist, just the Nationalists as well as prominent politicians, these are the people who sadly still control Turkey, and before you get angry at this comment let me quote you the Turkish Defense ministers statement made in a speech in Brussels last month (the heart of Europe) 'Turkey would not have been the country it is had the Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians....been allowed to stay' what does that say about the willingness of a 21 century modern country leadership say about that countries present ideology and willingness to look at history objectively?
    December 25, 2008

    By: Manuel

    Understandably being a Turk, the writer of this article would not like to admit that what happened in 1915 was Genocide.
    No other choice has been left to Armenians around the world, but to ask the governments of the countries they live to recognize the Genocide, up until now there has been no debate on the subject in Turkey, the term 'Armenian' is still an insult of the highest order even used by politicians (used recently as last week against the president of Turkey). Sadly article 301 in Turkey is still used to prosecute anyone who uses the words Armenian Genocide, one assistant publisher has just been imprisoned for having published a book by an Armenian writer.
    One myth I keep hearing especially in Turkish newspapers etc. is that the Armenian lobby group is very powerful, to put matters straight - compared to the tens of millions spent on US lobby groups by Turkey and the fact that any high ranking Turkish minister can pick up the phone and call his/her counterpart in the US ( as happened with Clinton at a previous vote) the Arnmenian lobby groups are no match. Instead of suggesting Mr. Obama should look into what happened in 1915, the writer should be advised to go back to Turkey and find out the facts for themselves, it is only now that they can research the subject there more freely. One of the reasons why debate has sprung up is because the Armenian diaspora has pushed the issue, if not Turkey would have buried the issue long ago just as it buried the million plus Armenians in 1915.
    December 24, 2008

    No Real Progress In Turkey's Recognition Of Armenian Genocide Expected In Near Future 23 December 2008 - Today.Az

    To all appearances, the Armenian Genocide will not be recognized by Turkey in the near future due to the powerful oil lobby there at least, Director of the Political Economy Research Institute Andranik Tevanyan told ArmInfo corespondent when commenting on the apology campaign initiated by Turkey.

    "The official stance of Ankara stressed for several times is that it will not open the border with Armenia until the Karabakh conflict is settled in Azerbaijan's favor. So, no real progress is most likely expected in this issue in the near future", the expert said.

    He added that real discussion is currently being held in Turkey on the issue that Turkey's past should be "edited". "At the moment, there are two conceptions in Turkey: liberal and fundamental. I think that only liberal Turkey may recognize the Genocide, establish normal relations with its neighbors and integrate into Europe. But on the other hand, if Turkey becomes a liberal state, this may shake its foundations as independent Kurdistan will be created, the Armenian Issue and many other issues will arise. One can draw an analogy with the Soviet Union as Turkey, like the Soviet Union, is a kind of empire. If "their Gorbachyov" comes to power in Turkey and catalyzes all these processes, Turkey may simply disappear. And if someone like Andropov comes to power and the conception of the "steady hand" is established, which doesn't accept its past, Turkey will have to fight with the whole West and may simply fail to stand this fight", Tevanyan concluded.


    Armenia's "Thank You" After 20 Years For Turkey's Help
    Sarkisyan sent an appreciation letter to Turkish President Abdullah Gul for the 20th anniversary of Spitak earthquake, Anatolian news agency reported. 23 December 2008 World Bulletin / News Desk

    Armania President Serj Sarkisyan thanked to Turkey and Turkish citizens for their help after the 1988 earthquake in his country.

    Sarkisyan sent an appreciation letter to Turkish President Abdullah Gul for the 20th anniversary of Spitak earthquake, Anatolian news agency reported.

    Sarkisyan stated that all world paid attention to Armania's tragedy after the earthquake and proved that "one's suffering is not just about them but all".

    He expressed his country´s gratitude to everyone who stood with them during hard times, and added that Armanian citizens are grateful for the help and support from Turkey and Turkish citizens after the earthquake.

    In his letter, Sarkisyan said: 'We are sure that humane actions will always be remembered, they increase kindness and light the world. Best Regards"

    Monitoring Conducted In Armenia And Turkey Simultaneously Armen Tsatouryan
    Hayots Ashkharh Daily 19 Dec 2008
    The decision on suspending the Armenian delegation's right to vote, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on December 17, is the beginning of the process of subordinating the democracy issues to the European Union and the entire West.

    At first sight associated with course of the implementation of PACE Resolutions # 1609 and 1620 on the March 1 developments in Armenia, the "yellow card" shown to our country is not going to turn into a "red" one in the PACE winter session to be held on January 26.

    Moreover, we believe that the authors of this warning do not simply pursue a goal of controlling the course of the implementation of the two PACE resolutions.

    The "yellow card" shown to our country certainly has different political motives. And from the point of view of such motives, it is becoming clear why the European officials so suddenly remembered about the investigation of the March 1 developments, an issue they kept in a "half-frozen" state for several months continuously.

    If we view the issue against the background of the developments in our country, we will immediately see where the heart of the matter lies.

    Moreover, the serious developments expected in the Karabakh peace process have become a matter of20concern not only for the Armenian but also for the Azerbaijani authorities, which are facing more serious problems in comparison with us.

    The "yellow card" shown to the Armenian authorities on December 17 is one of the loops of the long chain of steps aimed at integrating our country to the Euro-Atlantic area. Following the Russian-Georgian war and the subsequent developments, the EU member states and the US have made the issue of unknotting the century-old Armenian-Turkish entangled string their primary task in the South Caucasus.

    And the current plans of conducting monitoring in Armenia and Turkey simultaneously lie behind such calculations. Along with raffling the "perestroyka" that started in Turkey by a shake of the "magic stick", the principal issues which will enable Armenia to quickly integrate to the Euro-Atlantic area through the formation of a new balance between the authorities and the opposition are being speedily brought out from the archives of our country.

    The pro-opposition camp and its leader who formed a united block in Armenia prior to the 2008 presidential elections are the only real political force whose political revival can create a favorable internal balance to the authorities and the political forces supporting it, so as to adopt a more moderate and neutral stance on the regulation of the Armenian-Turkish relations.

    Therefore, it is not accidental that along with the unprecedentedly acute campaign starring in Turkey, its neighboring state Armenia is also being subjected to a monitoring regime.

    The coordinated nature of the international and internal political responses accompanying the process of collecting signatures below the petition "Armenians Forgive Us" testifies to the pro-Armenian orientation of the "perestroyka". The representatives of the pro-Western Turkish intelligentsia, the political circles of a number of European countries, the western press and even the moderately Islamic authorities are making haste for taking their part in the Turkish "perestroyka". However, the process cannot be full if Armenia, the country on the other side of the border, does not start the "re-evaluation of values" with the purpose of undermining the authorities by way of threatening with sanctions and making the pro-opposition camp (which adheres to Western values) active.

    That first of all concerns the force structures and the judicial system which laid obstacles on the path of achieving a shift of Government through the planned operations of March 1.

    Prior to the PACE winter session scheduled for January 26, Armenia is becoming faced with the compulsion of concealing the results of the inquests and the proceedings and ignoring the crimes committed. As a result, the state government system and first of the judiciary may lose their value in the eyes of the people.

    Moreover, this may also lead the above-mentioned systems to lose their trust in the higher bodies of government, because during the past months they were doing a job whose products are now being "thrown into water".

    Strengthening the positions of this pro-opposition force (whose leader immediately sends the crowd home after making his "prophecy"), it is possible to create relevant conditions and atmosphere for doing the same with regard to the Armenian-Turkish relations.

    Thus, the task of strengthening its "fifth column" in Armenia required that the country be involved in developments similar to the "March 1", supporting the opposition not only in organizing but also concealing such acts. Hereafter, it will be quite easy to involve the country in a new "March 1" and adopt Resolutions # 1609 and 1620 and this will continue till the moment when the country "democratized" through such methods becomes fully "receptive".

    International Community's Attitude To Armenian Genocide Recognition Changed PanARMENIAN.Net 22.12.2008

    The international community's attitude to recognition the Armenian Genocide has considerably changed recently, an Armenian professor said.

    "Several years ago politicians and historians in the United State could question the fact of the Genocide. Now, the situation is quite different. Media publications referring to the 1915 events blame the Ottoman Empire for the massacre of Armenians," Ruben Safrastyan, director of the institute of oriental studies at the RA academy of sciences, told a news conference in Yerevan.

    Turkish political elite can't renounce the Ottoman heritage. This is the problem of the Armenian-Turkish relations, according to him.

    "Turkey fears that Armenia will lay territorial claims. Actually, it's impossible over the absence an appropriate international legal mechanism," prof. Safrastyan said.

    Bizarre Lawsuit: Batman, Turkey vs. Batman, the Movie ,By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier

    After commenting on serious issues all year long, I would like to present a rather amusing topic this week, hoping to bring a good cheer to our readers' hearts during this Christmas season.

    Variety magazine and hundreds of media outlets worldwide reported last month that the mayor of Batman, a small city in southeastern Turkey, is planning to sue Christopher Nolan, the director of "The Dark Knight," and Warner Brothers studios for royalties from the hugely profitable Batman movie.

    Mayor Huseyin Kalkan accused the movie producers of using the city's name without permission. He was quoted by Variety as saying: "There is only one Batman in the world. The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

    Variety's reporter Ali Jaafar wondered why it took the town of Batman "so many years to take legal action." The reporter pointed out that "Batman first appeared as a comic book character in 1939 and the 'Batman' TV series started in 1966. Tim Burton's first big screen rendition for Warner Brothers came out in 1989. Undoubtedly, the fact that 'Dark Knight' is about to pass the $1 billion mark =80¦ played a part in stirring the ire of the Turkish hamlet."

    Incredibly, Mayor Kalkan blamed the Batman movie "for a number of unresolved murders and a high female suicide rate" in his town. He attributed these problems to "the psychological impact that the film's success has had on the city's inhabitants."

    Natives of Batman have also encountered obstacles when attempting to register their businesses abroad, the mayor claimed. Batman's local newspaper reported that former Batman resident Safii Dagh, currently living in the German city of Wesel, was prevented from using Batman as the name of his business. "I named my two restaurants Batman. But six months ago, a team of employees from the production company of the movie Batman made me change the title," Dagh said. Lawyer Vehbi Kahveci, head of the Intellectual and Industrial Property Rights Commission of the Istanbul Bar Association, stated that Batman and his image are registered trademarks all around the world. The Batman Municipality missed the deadline for objecting to the registration of Batman's name as a superhero.

    This bizarre lawsuit was also fodder for several derisive video postings on YouTube, google and Yahoo websites, generating hundreds of comments from viewers. Most comments were so offensive that YouTube had to delete them from its site.

    The most hilarious video came from Comedy.com where a comedian named Rob Delaney, posing as a Public Relations spokesman for Warner Brothers, ridiculed the mayor of Batman and everything Turkish!

    I have transcribed below Delaney's comments, after removing the countless swear words. We would like to make fun of the silly lawsuit filed by the Mayor of Batman without insulting all Turks. Here is the cleansed version of the transcript:

    "We will crush you, just like you did the Armenians one hundred years ago!
    "Where were you in 1939 when Batman first appeared in comic books?
    "Where were you in 1966 when Batman was a TV show?

    "Oh, that's right, you're a backward third world country and you are just now finding out about Batman. How convenient! It just happens to be the same year our movie made more than your entire country did in the last decade.

    "Don't get me wrong. We think your name is hilarious! Batman, Turkey? Why don't you sue turkeys while you're at it? Why don't you sue the ottoman in the living room of one of my several houses?

    "You do not want to tangle with Warner Brothers, Turkey!

    "Why don't you stick to what you are good at, like oil wrestling, female weight lifting, and being a nation of gypsies?

    "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Warner Brothers will own you! I'm considering suing your town for making Batman slightly less awesome. Your land and women will be mine, Turkey! Consider yourself warned=80¦."

    Maybe the mayor of Batman is not that stupid after all! By announcing that he is planning to sue the producers of Batman, he has been able to generate free worldwide publicity for his obscure city. He is probably hoping that Batman fans will flock to his hometown, bringing with them enough cash to rejuvenate the local economy! A Batman city worker wisely observed: "We wouldn't have had better advertising for Batman, even if we had spent $1 million."

    What If We Are All Armenian?
    Republican People’s Party (CHP) Canan Arıtman was not satisfied with implying that President Abdullah Gül's mother might be of Armenian descent, but she also declared Armenians the element that should be sought after every catastrophe and be labeled our eternal enemy. Arıtman is proud.

    She is not only unapologetic but also brags about how many supporters she has. Is there anyone left who still doubts that this is exactly the right time for the campaign [of apology to Armenians by intellectuals] that we have been debating for a long time at a time when Arıtman and those who like her proudly commit this crime in Parliament and declare a segment of the country's population the national enemy, creating threats against their lives? Arıtman and those like her are the strongest reason we have to apologize to the Armenian community. If these people can readily put into circulation statements that are racist, low and self-aggrandizing, the entire community is responsible for that. We all have a share in this crime. I have questions to ask people who approach this issue reluctantly and who think that it is unnecessary as an agenda item. Have you ever thought about this? Maybe we are all really Armenians. We may all have people in our lineage who were forced to act like Muslim Turks.

    23 December 2008, Radikal Yildirim Türker

    HASAN KANBOLAT @todayszaman.com Who Will Apologize To Turks?

    How many of us know the crucial developments in 1783, 1864, the 93 War or 1913? Do these dates mean anything to regular men? I do not think so.

    The Russian Empire forced the local people to migrate to the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea in 1783 when the Crimean state collapsed. Russia also seized the North Caucasus on May 21, 1864 and subsequently subjected the local people to a campaign of genocide and forced deportation. The Adiges, Wubihs, Abkhazs and Karaçay-Balkars lost 95 percent of their populations during the war and subsequent developments as well as the forced migration to the Ottoman state.

    The 93 War, which actually took place in 1877-78, disrupted the overall situation in the Ottoman Empire despite lasting for less than a year. The 93 War, which was fought both on the Danube and Caucasian fronts, is considered one of the incidents that initiated the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In the aftermath of the war, more than 1 million people had to migrate from the South Caucasus and the Balkans to Anatolia.

    There were continuous forced migrations from Crimea, the Balkans and the North and South Caucasus to Anatolian territories after the annexation of Crimea in 1783, the Caucasus-Russian War in 1864, the 93 War, the Balkan War (1912-13), World War I (1914-18) and during the republican era. These forced migrations have shaped Turkey's demographic structure, economy, history and cultural situation. The Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia are geographically close to Turkey. If these areas get the flu, Turkey becomes sick. Those who were subjected to deportation and genocide have found peace and relief in Turkey.

    Turkish society, which is unaware of the events of 1783, 1864, the 93 War and 1913, knows those of 1915 because of the Armenian genocide claims. Why is Turkey always defensive vis-à-vis these allegations? Why is Turkey afraid of its history? Turkey should never fear its past because more than half of the Turkish population are actually sons and grandsons of people who were subjected to ethnic cleansing, genocide and deportation.

    Nations and groups that were subjected to such merciless campaigns and subsequently had to migrate to Turkey in the last 150 years include Adiges, Wubihs, Karaçay-Balkars and Kosaks, Abkhazs from the northwest Caucasus; Chechens, Dagestanis and Ossets from the northeast Caucasus; Karabaghs, Azeris, Ahıskans, Terekemes, Kalpaks, Acaras and Georgians from the South Caucasus; Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and Belorussians from north of the Black Sea; Balkan Turks, Albanians, Bosnians, Pomaks, Ulahs, Torbeşs and Macedonians from the Balkans, Arabs and Jews from Spain; Turks from Crete, Rhodes and other Aegean islands; Cypriot Turks from Cyprus; Turks, Palestinians and Kurds from the Middle East; Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Tajiks from Central Asia and Uyghurs from the Far East.

    In fact, Anatolia has been the homeland of those migrants subjected to injustice and deportation in their native lands. So why does Turkey fail to address these facts? Why does it fail to erect a monument in remembrance of those who were murdered in these vicious events? Why does it not make any attempt to do this? Who are we waiting for?

    Armenians constitute the only item on Turkey's agenda. Some Turkish intellectuals have adopted a pro-Armenian tragedy discourse. What about the tragedy of the people constituting more than half of the people of Turkey, those who were forced to migrate to the country? Turkish intellectuals should emphasize the pains of Turkey's neighbors, but they should also be interested in the tragedy of their fellow brothers. It should be stressed that Armenians were relocated rather than deported because they were displaced within the Ottoman territories out of necessity. Because of the conditions of World War I, they were forced to move from Anatolia to the Middle East. They were not deported; however, the Turk and Muslim migrants were deported.

    On Aug. 7, 1982, two terrorists from the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) carried out an attack at Esenboğa Airport. The Esenboğa attack was the first act by ASALA in Turkey. Attacks carried out by Armenian terrorists against Turkish diplomats started in 1973. During the period between 1973 and 1994, bodies of Turkish diplomats arrived in coffins covered by Turkish flags from 13 countries and 17 cities (Rome, Marseilles, Lisbon, Burgas, Belgrade, Brussels, Athens, Lyon, Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen, Geneva, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Boston, Vienna and Tehran). What did we do to commemorate the memory of the martyrs killed by Armenian terrorists at Esenboğa Airport on Aug. 7, 1982? Nothing. Not even a plaque was installed anywhere in the airport for this purpose. We have not dedicated a corner to them. We have not placed any photo of them anywhere at the airport. Not even a single small statute was erected. No Aug. 7 sirens were sounded to mark a moment of silence for their memories.

    A special day should be set aside in Turkey to commemorate our ancestors. Even though public memory is weak, the state and the intellectuals should have a strong and sharp memory. Intellectuals apologizing to the Armenians should also be aware of the pains their ancestors suffered from. Armenians are close neighbors of Turkey. They are like part of a family suffering from temporary disagreements. For this reason, the acts of terror organizations and radicals cannot be attributed to the Armenian people. However, we should remember that not only Armenians but also Turks have suffered in the last century. 23 December 2008

    ŞAHİN ALPAY @todayszaman.com Why Do I ‘Apologize’ To Our Armenian Brothers And Sisters?

    "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity shown to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters.

    I apologize to them." This was the declaration signed and put on a Web site by a group of academics, writers and commentators calling on others to join their campaign. It was signed by more than 15,000 people in the span of a few days. I was among the first signatories. In principle, I avoid signing declarations that I am not involved in the preparation of. This is because, as a columnist and a frequent commentator on television, I have the privilege of expressing my views on issues that I believe I have the competence to deal with. I signed this declaration, however, without giving much consideration to its wording. Why? Why do I "apologize" to our Armenian brothers and sisters?

    In the process of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, nearly all of its subject peoples suffered great tragedies. Ottoman Armenians, however, have a special place among them. As witnessed by my writing on the subject so far, I do not, contrary to what the Armenian nationalists argue, at all believe that the tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 is comparable to the genocide the Jews of Germany were subjected to by the racist Nazi regime during World War II. Armenian nationalist organizations who aimed at breaking away from the Ottoman Empire and establishing an independent Armenian state, encouraged by Western powers like Britain and France, who wanted to break up the empire, collaborated with Russia against the Ottoman state, engaged in terrorism and killed numerous Turkish and Muslim compatriots. In retaliation, the Ottoman government of the time, or rather an inner clique led by Interior Minister Talat Paşa, decided to deport all Armenians, except those living in İstanbul and İzmir, to the Syrian desert.

    About half of the nearly 1.5 million Ottoman Armenians who were subjected to forced deportation lost their lives on the way, either through killings by members of the security forces and bandits, or as a result of epidemics and hunger. Some of them survived the ordeal through protection by Turks and Muslims and conversion to Islam. Others were able to eventually flee to the West, mainly to France and the United States, where most of the Armenian diaspora lives today. There remain only about 70,000 Armenian citizens of the Republic of Turkey today living almost entirely in İstanbul. Those Armenians who served in the Ottoman army upon their return from the war found that their families and communities had all disappeared and that their possessions had been confiscated.

    Armenian nationalists maintain that the decision of the Committee of Union and Progress rulers to deport the Ottoman Armenians was part of a plan aimed at their total annihilation. This argument has never been proven, being disputed even by distinguished non-Turkish Ottoman historians. The fact, however, that the Ottoman government collectively and inhumanly punished its Armenian citizens by deportation in retaliation for the crimes of Armenian nationalist rebels who collaborated with the enemy is beyond dispute. The stories of the tragedies that befell Turks and Muslims in the process of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, of those who were kicked out of and murdered in the Balkans, of those in northeast Anatolia who lost their lives at the hands of Armenian nationalist rebels and of Circassian Muslims who were driven out of Russia in the middle of the 19th century are all well known in Turkey today. The tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians as a result of treatment by their own state, however, is only recently being properly discussed and investigated. Those responsible for the tragedy that befell Ottoman Armenians are, certainly, neither the Turkish people nor the government of the Republic of Turkey, but the infamous Committee of Union and Progress dictators who, with their policies, paved the way to the Ottoman Empire's destruction.

    Surely I personally have no responsibility in the tragedy that befell the Ottoman Armenians. I do, however, feel deep grief and sorrow for a tragedy that befell compatriots, a tragedy that has been covered up and made the subject of a taboo by the state authorities. The main reason I signed the declaration was an obligation of conscience. Secondly, I want Turkey to further democratize so that it can face its history and that no issue remains covered up. Thirdly, I attach great importance to the reinstitution of the historical friendship and amity that united the Turks and the Armenians for centuries prior to the advent of the age of nationalisms, and to the normalization of relations with the neighboring Republic of Armenia. I consequently want an end to "genocide resolutions" in an increasing number of foreign parliaments that contribute to the perpetuation of animosity. 22 December 2008

    IHSAN DAĞI @todayszaman.com From Apology To Reconciliation
    Thanks to a recent petition prepared and signed by a group of intellectuals, we have found ourselves discussing the Armenian issue. It appears that not only the recognition of genocide claims, but also the fact of the massacres against the Ottoman Armenians is a taboo. Those who signed the petition have been accused of treason.

    Even Turkish President Abdullah Gül, who recognized the right of individuals to prepare any kind of petition, became a target of a racist assault by Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Canan Arıtman, who argued that Gül's ancestors may be of Armenian origin. This scandalous statement was, in fact, a logical outcome of the xenophobia that has grown amongst Turkey's secularist circles.

    But there also exists a historical aspect of this hatred toward "foreigners." We should not forget that not only Armenian identity, but modern Turkish identity, too, has been shaped by the events of 1915. As Minister of Defense Vecdi Gönül admitted a month ago, many in Turkey believe that the forced deportation of Armenians and Greeks made it possible to establish a "Turkish nation-state" in Anatolia.

    This is the bottom line: Anything that is viewed as necessary to form a state, any kind of state, which is the guarantee of the survival of the "nation," is to be justified. For this reason, ultranationalists in recent years have been calling for the need to wage "another war of independence," aware that such a state of affairs would justify anything, including a military coup. Their motto made this very clear: "If the motherland is at stake, the rest is a matter of details." So those ultranationalists were trying to build a consensus on the "essentials" of the national existence: to protect the state (whose characteristics would not matter at all) vis-à-vis the assault of global forces and their domestic collaborators. This was the ground on which the Ergenekon-like networks were erected.

    It is really amazing to see now that those who fought hard against such "essentialist" reasoning and disclosed their plots now defend the ancestors of the Ergenekon-like organizations. The secularists and the "conservative democrats," including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have united in defense of what the Committee of Union and Progress did in 1915.

    We do not have to, and should not, accept that the 1915 events constituted genocide, but we must stop trying to find excuses for the massacres of Ottoman citizens of Armenian origin. Otherwise, we can find excuses for the suppression of the Kurds, of Islamic dervish orders, of the girls who wear the headscarf, etc. If we allow the raison d'état to reign, then everything will be explainable and justifiable.

    The debate over the apology campaign has revealed that many in Turkey, including Islamists, conservatives, leftists and even liberals, continue to think within the paradigm of the nation-state and nationalism.

    The fact is that at the turn of the 19th century, all the peoples of the Balkans and Anatolia suffered at the hands of nationalists, be they Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish or Armenian nationalists. There is, therefore, no point in maintaining and reproducing the same nationalist sentimentalities today. What is needed is a process of reconciliation that does not come through by standing behind the crimes of nationalists of all kinds committed a century ago. 22 December 2008

    Who Are You Apologizing For?
    We are entering to a new period at the Armenian issue. The new administration of the USA is in close relations with the Armenian lobbies. This time the month of April will be painful for Turkey. Which expressions will take place at the message that would be issued by Obama on the 24th of April, the day which is declared by the Armenians as the “anniversary day of genocide” Will Obama use the word “genocide”? And will the “genocide recognition bills” brought on the agenda of the parliament?

    While we beat our brains with these questions, Turkey is getting ready to make rooted changes at its policy with Armenia. The course of relations has changed when President Gül went to Armenia to watch a football match. President’s visit was given meanings beyond a gesture since Armenia has never made one. While this confusion keeps going on, some circles have currently initiated a campaign called “We Apologize”. Following is stated at the text, which was signed by the supporters of the campaign: “Our conscience cannot admit the denial of ‘the great disaster’ where our Armenian brothers were involved, and being so insensitive against it. We deny this unfair situation, and share the sufferings and sentiments of our Armenian brothers and apologize to them.” As a matter of fact, the attempt of this signature group composed of some lecturers and journalists did not surprise me. However, I should say that I consider that I have the right to ask some question to them.

    For instance;

    -Who are you apologizing for?

    -If you are apologizing for yourselves, why have you turned this move into a broad based campaign that will last a year?

    - You say that “Our aim is to obtain the highest number at the campaign that will last for a year on the web.” Doesn`t this aim contradict with the reason of your campaign, which you clarified as an individual attitude? If it were an individual move wouldn’t it be sufficient for you to apologize by yourself? Why are you attempting to increase the number of the people, who “apologize”?

    -What contributions would each attendance at the campaign would make you as an individual?

    - At the statements that you have made to the newspapers you expressed that you are displaying an individual attitude against the historical responsibility, which is independent from the official policies. Where does your difference, which requires being independent from the official policies, arise from?

    -The official policy advocates that 1915 incidents cannot be called as “genocide”. Do you describe yourself “independent from the official policies” for you do not agree with this policy? If you do not describe 1915 incidents as “genocide” then why do you describe yourself exempted from official policy?

    I am asking the following question, believing that you know that you must have committed a crime for apologizing: If you think you have committed a crime why don’t you name this fault honestly?

    -Or do you think as: “Let’s prepare the public opinion first and obtain the number we have targeted at the signature campaign and after that we will name the 1915 incidents”?

    -If you aspire to stand in the way of unfairness, as in the text, would you consider standing in front of the unfair treatment against one million Azerbaijani deserters (refugees) who have been expelled from the invaded lands of Nagorno-Karabakh?

    Lale Şıvgın-Tercüman Daily Newspaper-05.12.2008

    The Ones Who Would Sign Should First Sit At The Table
    The tense atmosphere between Armenia and Turkey was softening little bit when two presidents of the countries watched a football match together. A possibility for opening the borders has appeared. It appeared like a break was given to the pressure of the Armenian lobbies, whose target of life is to make the Armenian genocide claim accepted in the USA and Europe and…surprise, “a lobby” within us was activated again immediately.

    This time Halil Berktay does not lead the move (Maybe because the corresponding between the Diaspora and the Turkish historians was brought into daylight.)…People like ... Baskın Oran, Ali Bayramoğlu, Cengiz Aktar are initiating a campaign for apologizing for the “incidents, deaths and relocations that occurred during the Ottoman period in 1915 on the web…You know, it was reported; I wrote it and also other columnists wrote about it.

    However, a very interesting situation exists: this group interferes to the issue by saying that “Turkey has been a denier since 85 years and they oppose the insensitivity that is shown towards this great disaster”…In fact, Turkey has not denied anything; on the contrary, she opened her archives and invited every historian, who wishes to discuss with the documents. These ladies and gentlemen call the outcome, which has resulted from the Turkish archives as “official thesis” but the same incidents, the ones who participated to the relocation, the ones, who returned, mutual deaths also exist at the German, English and Russian archives.

    What did they do? “We do not understand documents, researches, discussions and most of us are not historians but we apologize…” Why? Have you discovered something new and you decided to apologize not for years but now? Have you offered to discuss this issue primarily with the historians of the Turkish History Society or (If you are labeling then as “official” and “government”) 153 independent historians, who explain that genocide was not committed.

    No, the historians around you denied sitting at the same table and listening to the opposite views even at the panels just like the Armenian historians.

    How can the attitude of these people, who define themselves as intellectual, liberal, fit to a democratic approach?
    If you are honest, organize a panel right away instead of accusing the ones, who tell you these, invite Armenian and Turkish historians and reveal your documents. And let the people see, on what basis you are attempting to declare Turkey as a country, which committed genocide.
    Science requires this move instead of “hit and run” method, doesn’t it?

    Ruhat Mengi-Vatan Daily Newspaper-13.12.2008

    New Strategy Of The Ones Who Apologize
    As a society, unfortunately, we are only able to see just the “stage” part of the things that are going on in our country. In another words, we just see the part that is desired to be seen. There is much more at the backstage.

    (…) They are probably looking for a way right now for supporting the ones who say: “We wonder if the plans that were set up for Turkey would come true in the future? And if they come true, can we also take a share?”

    Some of the people, who are in the same group with ones who organize the lately “Campaign for the Armenian incidents” had paid a friendly visit to Armenia a couple of years ago and bottles of beer were poured over their heads against their friendly attempts for peace. They were told that they are naturally maintaining their demands for “land and compensation” with a rude manner during their visit to communities, which are the continuation of the Armenian communities that planned the Armenian uprisings prior 1915.

    The afore-mentioned ladies and gentlemen are currently are attempting to deny the history of their own country (and as if archives of all related countries do not exist) against these communities, whose do not posses any conscience. And they are doing this, without making an explanation on “what basis they are initiating such a campaign” and without sitting at the table with historians of Turkey or historians of the world, who explain the facts.

    This act is not different than an anti-democratic applications and practices, which are contrary to freedom of thought and freedom of expression like criminalizing the ones who say that “Armenian genocide was not committed” in France and Switzerland”.

    These people can accuse the ones, who explain what they are doing is wrong with “nationalism” and “being sick” and et cetera without feeling ashamed. In fact, claiming that they are very “democratic and intellectual” they should have known that the things they do is a kind of “anti-nationalism” and they must have known that they are doing this single-sided accusations without examining and discussing the Armenian claims.

    According to the new strategy, it seems that new people, whose “names were not wear out” would brought forward, and later the supporters of Diaspora, whom were are familiar with, will appear. It is reported that same names were written two or tree times over again at the same campaign. Even the name of Yusuf Halaçoğlu, the former chief Turkish history community of Turkey, was first written, don’t laugh please, and then erased. And that means that anyone who wants can add a name.

    (…) They say that “they are sharing the pains of the victims” however, in this incident “the victim” is not only at one side. Primarily, there are ones, who are victimized; it is unreasonable to start without seeing your own victims. They were saying: “The truth cannot be spoken; it is a taboo.” We side openness and transparency.

    Can they also be transparent and courage?

    Ruhat Mengi-Vatan Daily Newspaper-16.12.2008

    Turks Are Gathering Signatures, While Armenians Are Silent

    A campaign against the signatories is started by Azerbaijan, which has been intensively counteracting Turkey in the latter’s attempt to normalize relations with Armenia on its way into the EU.
    In the afternoon of December 18 the number of collected signatures under the petition “Armenians, we apologize” reached 13315. The fact itself was quite predictable and there are more than enough reasons for it. No matter how hard Official Ankara tries to assure that Turkey is a country of freedom of speech and expression, blocking of YouTube and other websites proves the contrary. The strange point is that the Turkish authorities waited 2 days after which Prime-Minister Erdogan finally voiced his «disapproval» of the initiative.

    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ However, the point is not the Turks who are absolutely free to do what they like: to apologize, to repent, to open the Turkish-Armenian border. Most important is the position of Armenians but it has not yet been distinctly voiced by anyone. Logically, we must say “We are certainly thankful to you, but the thing is that you never uttered the keyword ‘genocide’, therefore your apologies are not worth a pin.” But we don’t do it. Moreover, we are almost touched by the courageous move of «manly Turkish brethren». To all appearances, we have to remind what really happened. In 1915, shortly before the massacre and deportation the Young Turks likewise flattered Armenians and vowed everlasting friendship. History has a peculiarity to repeat itself, and not necessarily will it be in the form of a farce for the second time. It should also be remembered that in 1915 it was only Germany that was on Turkey’s side but for some reason its role in the «solution» of the Armenian issue is forgotten. Now Turkey is backed up also by Azerbaijan and by almost all the Muslims except the Arabs and Iranians. Hence, Armenia has a matter to think over. It is not out of place to mention that the campaign against the signatories is headed up by Azerbaijan, which has been intensively counteracting Turkey in the latter’s attempt to normalize relations with Armenia on its way into the EU. Azerbaijan herself doesn’t need membership in the EU, while it is favourable for Turkey. It turns out that Armenia hinders them both as it has always been in history. Unlike Ankara, opposition parties in Baku can make statements only with the authorities’ permission that is why it makes absolutely no difference who voices the official viewpoint. According to Chairman of “Muasir Musavat” party Hafiz Hajiyev, “Turkey should break off negotiations with Armenia, as it proceeds from her own interests.” But here Hajiyev acts sneakily; in fact it proceeds from Baku’s interests. Turkey can live on without «sister» Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan without Turkey can hardly survive… There is also Georgia, but it is too unreliable for allied relations, and as for the Islamic countries, they will simply not interfere.

    Against this background silence of the Armenian side depresses greatly. It reminds of the book story about Grigor Zohrab, who on the night of April 24 assured that nothing bad awaited the Armenians. “Yesterday I was playing backgammon with Talat Pasha. If there was something, he would have warned me…,” he said. Even if the story is made-up it sounds too credible. It was exactly this naivety, to say no more, that resulted in the massacre and may still bring to more painful consequences for Armenia. We may simply become a reserve in the South Caucasus. Of course, this is the worst scenario that may materialize but we are doing nothing against it realization.

    And lastly, member of the Republican People's Party of Turkey (CHP) Canan Aritman made a statement in connection with the current campaign “Armenians, we apologize”. She said a commission should be formed to investigate the nationality of President Abdullah Gul. “It is a fact that Gul’s mother is of Armenian origin. His Uncle Ahmed Satoglu mentioned it himself. Nationality of a person makes no difference to me. We respect people irrespective of their nationality. But a president must uphold the interests and honour of the country. Under the current state of events the Turkish President should have declared to the whole world that Turkey did not commit «genocide» of Armenians. But Gul did not do it,” Aritman stated.

    By the way, Abdul Hamid’s mother used to be an Armenian too, and the Young Turks were Jews who converted to Islam (Donme). But they were and will always remain Turks who hate the Armenians just because the latter exist. It is a fact and both Armenians and the Armenian authorities have to reckon with it.

    Karine Ter-Sahakyan
    «PanARMENIAN.Net» analytical department

    Armenian Assembly of America : Irreversible Trend Has Commenced In Turkey19.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ An irreversible trend has commenced in Turkey, said Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

    "Over 12,000 people in Turkey want history to be recorded truthfully, having already signed the internet-based petition apologizing for what they call the 'Great Catastrophe' that befell the Armenians of Ottoman Turkey in 1915. This public apology is a first step in that direction and will inevitably lead to Turkey coming to grips with its genocidal past," Bryan Ardouny said.

    "This process was encouraged in 2003 by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), which concluded that "the Events [of 1915], viewed collectively, can thus be said to include all of the elements of the crime of genocide as defined in the Convention."

    Noting the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden next month and Obama's statement from October which read, "Joe Biden and I believe that the Armenian Genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence," Ardouny said, "They are both on record as supporting Turkey's reconciliation with its past, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. Coupled with Obama's recent selection of Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the Obama-Biden Administration has an opportunity to clearly affirm the Armenian Genocide and, at the same time, help Turkey reverse its policy of denial. It will also send a message that the U.S. will no longer shelter Turkey from criticism if it continues to persecute leading intellectuals by invoking Article 301 of its Penal Code."

    Some 14 thousand people have already signed the online public apology for the Armenian Genocide.

    Russia Condemns Genocide Of Armenians, Serbs And Other Nations, 19.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Russia condemns genocide of Armenians, Serbs and other nations, a State Duma member said.

    "We tried to dissuade Europe from applying double standards as it was in case with Kosovo," Gavriil Popov, member of United Russia faction said, reminding that thousands of civilians were killed in South Ossetia during several days.

    Member of Just Russia party Boris Guseletov stressed the necessity of close collaboration with all Diasporas throughout the globe to prevent the crime of genocide. "We condemn any nationalistic aggression," he said.

    "Genocide is a complicated topic for discussion not only for Russia but for the entire international community," said Natalya Velikaya, head of ideology and public policy of Just Russia party. "This problem can be resolved through a continued public dialogue," she said, reported Yerkramas, the newspaper of Armenians of Russia.

    Turkish Methods To Distort Facts Mislead Readers , Armen Minasyan, Panorama.am ,18/12/2008
    It is a pure fact that recently Turkish society is no more convicted to traditional taboos regarding Armenian Genocide. Perhaps, Hrant Dink's activities and his achievements were conditioned by it. At the same time those problems did not receive the adequate repercussions of the public as they were pressed by total anti-Armenian campaigns.

    And the evidence to this is Hrant Dink's murder.

    In these days a group of Turkish intellectuals has taken the initiative to apology on behalf of Turkish people to Armenians, which they preferred to name "Great Catastrophe". In fact such initiatives are taken by and in a public which has rejected it for so many years. Surely, this is another evidence of "those changes" listed above. It was difficult to imagine that another part of Turkish society would keep a silence and that prediction was soon a mystery.

    Ertugrul Ozkok a Turkish journalist who writes editorials for Turkish "Hurriyet" daily has mocked the initiative of his people in his "The apology campaign for Armenians is a joke" article published yesterday.

    When trying to bring some evidence that the current initiative is "unacceptable" he makes an irrational request: the journalist expresses his embarrassment as famous British singer, the member of "Genesis" group Peter Gabriel joined the apology. "He apologizes on behalf of us, "Turks", to the Armenians for the bad things that "we Turks" did to the Armenians," writes Ozkok. Keeping mocking element in his words, the Turkish journalist proposes Mick Jagger to apologize on behalf of Armenians to Turkish for murdered Turkish diplomats, or, he himself apologizes to the Indians, the Pakistanis and to the indigenous people of former colonies in the Far East on behalf of the "Brits". First you think that the observation is logical, but...Turkish journalist tries to misguide the reader. If Ozkok thinks that British Empire has violated human rights in the colonies and committed anti-human activities, then he is free to make his own judgments and to take the imitative to condemn them.

    In this regard, note that any effort to make Armenian Genocide recognized and condemned is first of all aimed to prevent from the similar crimes, hence, we highly recommend the Turkish journalist not only to speculate historic facts, but to be so honest to speak about the crimes committed against mankind, which are committed in present days also.

    Analyzing the fact of apologizing on behalf of Armenians, then the journalist again warps the facts and distorts the reality. The most important element in this observation is that those two examples are completely incomparable; how we can compare genocide with a few private cases of murders (note that those Turkish "diplomats" notified by Ozkok were members of "Gray Wolves" terrorist organization which was under the support of the local government). From another side, various condemning announcements were made on the murder of Turkish diplomats and some persons were sentenced. But till today official Ankara has made not a single announcement on taking the responsibility, or condemning, or else apologizing. The authorities themselves have supported the policy to renounce the facts and have committed violence against those who have accepted it within their country.

    Regarding Ozkok personally, note that he did not express his own position on apologizing to Armenians and joining the apology campaign. Would he sign under that apology if Peter Gabriel has not done it? This is the question which should be answered by Ozkok. Avoiding the explanation of his own position his words are no more than pure attempts to criticize the campaign.

    18 U.S. Embassies, 40 U.S. Governors' Offices Mailed Envelopes With White Powder, 19.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The U.S. embassies in Prague and Tokyo have received envelopes with apparently harmless white powder, bringing the total number of U.S. missions targeted in the case to 18, officials said Thursday.

    "Eighteen embassies, US embassies have received envelopes containing white powder. The new ones to the list from (Wednesday) are Prague and Tokyo," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

    The State Department said Wednesday that envelopes with white powder were mailed to U.S. embassies in Berlin, Berne, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Luxembourg, Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Reykjavik, Riga, Rome, Stockholm, Tallinn and The Hague.

    "Thus far the tests, the results that we have received back from all the affected embassies have come back negative for any sort of... harmful pathogens or anything harmful," McCormack said.

    The U.S. embassy's consulate building in Bucharest was temporarily closed to the public Tuesday and reopened the same afternoon, while the U.S. embassy's consulate building in Rome was closed Wednesday and Thursday, McCormack said. "I expect that (the consulate in Rome) will reopen for regular business soon," he added.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is conducting the investigation into the mailings, said that similar envelopes with white powder were also received at more than 40 U.S. governors' offices.

    The contents initially tested negative, but more tests were planned, it said.

    The FBI's Dallas office said the letters were all similar, post-marked from Texas, with the earliest sent on December 8.

    The FBI said on December 10 that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, and seven other U.S. governors had received letters with a suspicious white powder.

    It said the letters were also sent to governors' offices in Rhode Island, Michigan, Mississippi, Alabama, Minnesota, Montana, and Missouri.

    "Sending a hoax letter is serious and can have severe consequences. This is a great drain on each city's response teams," according to the FBI statement on Wednesday.

    In 2001 letters containing anthrax killed five people and spread panic. Since then, police and fire officers have been called out to investigate suspicious mailings across the country - most of them harmless, the AP reports.

    RA Ministry Of Diaspora To Have Off-Budget Bank Account "Armenian Diaspora"
    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 18, ARMENIANS TODAY - NOYAN TAPAN. At the December 17 sitting, the Armenian government allowed the staff of the RA Ministry of Diaspora to open an off-budget bank account "Armenian Diaspora" at local units of the RA Ministry of Finance - under the RA Law on the Budgetary System of the Republic of Armenia.

    According to the RA Government Information and PR Department, it was established that incomes of the given account will form from donations of benefactors. Expenditures from this account will be made by an estimate agreed on with the minister of finance with the aim of financing Diaspora-related programs by order of the minister of Diaspora.

    Armenia Installs Advanced Control System In City On Turkish Border Armenian Public TV, Dec 16 2008
    [Correspondent speaking over video of an airport building] An advanced border control information system, which aims at strengthening border control in our country, has been put into operation in Gyumri [Armenia's second largest city on the Turkish border]. The system is aimed at combating drug, medicines and arms smuggling and trafficking, and also fully controls migrants' movements, ruling out the entrance to Armenia of people with forged documents and those on wanted lists. The US Department of State provided 476,000 dollars out of about 1m dollars of the cost of this system at Armenia's seven border checkpoints, and the remaining 0.5m were provided by the Armenian government and the Avia Infotel company, which founded the system. The US ambassador to Armenia, Marie Yovanovitch, was present at the ceremony.

    [Yovanovitch, speaking at the event in English with overlaid Armenian translation] I would like to emphasize the fact that this event takes place in Gyumri. I believe that everybody here believes that Armenia and its neighbour Turkey will open borders and restore relations. Gyumri can become the centre of all this in the issue of trade and economic relations and simply direct contacts between the people of Armenia and Turkey. The progress that we mark here is another step towards further progress.

    Plea To My Turkish Friends, Vahan Tekeian, Turkish Daily News, Dec 17 2008

    What is the soul? What is the soul of an Armenian? Once I asked myself.

    My soul cried for an instant and laughed the next.

    These are the words that best express the sentiments that poured through me last Friday, Dec. 12, 2009. I was sitting with my husband, Raffi and two of our children at the Aram Khatchatryan hall of the Opera House, waiting for the concert to begin. I had much reason to be anxious. Organized by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, an unprecedented performance by Turks, Kurds and Armenians was about to begin on Armenian soil.

    The lights dimmed and the first melody floated in the air: "Oh, Hayotz Ashkhar" (Oh, world of Armenia).

    I was ready to welcome the brave group of musicians in my independent, survived, and revived homeland. I was, after all, raised and educated in the United States, the land of equality and tolerance. I understood that we, the Armenians, are neighbors with the Turks and are duty-bound, therefore, to live together in peace.

    Then I heard the first of the Turkish songs, "Gulustan gulden guzel" (Your smile is sweeter than rose). I recognized the last word. My grandmother used to call me "guzel" as she lovingly stroked my hair and fell into the embrace of her memories. As I lay on her lap, she would curse her childhood and retell the same stories of massacre and blood, slaughter and deprivation. My soul cried

    The music pierced right through my heart and soul. I thought: How dare we have Turkish music resonate within the walls of our cultural palace, where the music of Komitas and Yekmalian and the ballads of Sevak and Siamanto have lamented the fate of our nation. I couldnt help but recall Sevaks "Immutable Bell Tower" and the image of young Komitas singing Turkish for the Patriarch at Holy Etchmiatsin Cathedral.

    The sweet melody was quick to quell my pain.

    My soul was laughing as I watched Zorba performed to the rhythm of snapping fingers. At a young age, I loved Greek dances and had learned many of them. I wanted to jump on stage, have the band play and dance with the breeze (Zepyur)an Armenian song delicately performed minutes ago by the young Turkish artist. When will that spirit of the stage become state policy, I thought.

    Beautiful young women and men, dressed in bright colorful costumes, took the stage and curved their bodies sensually into a circle dance, and now I thought of Siamantos "Dance" of 20 naked Armenian brides:

    An animal of a man shouted, "You must dance, dance when our drum beats." With fury whips cracked on the flesh of the women

    Hand in hand the brides began their circle dance..

    Then someone brought a jug of kerosene. Human justice, I spit in your face

    The brides were anointed. "Dance," they thundered "heres a fragrance you cant get in Arabia"... With a torch, they set the naked brides on fire

    And the charred bodies rolled and tumbled to their deaths

    My soul cried

    I took note of the woman sitting ahead of me. She was dancing with her arms. How I wish I could be like her, free of all shackles of memory. Oh, Hayots Ashkhar!

    I took a new breath and my soul laughed along with the Kurdish song "Demme" (Breath). Some people in the audience were moved to jump to their feet. They held hands and circled about the majestic hall. I recognized the Kurdish waiter from "Chez Michelle" in the group. I was happy to see his proud and triumphant face. He, too, needed to make a statement and he was making one.

    My soul cried hearing the writer and human rights activist Hrant Dink on the projection screen. He was calling for a dignified life for Armenians. Only yesterday, with my Greek and Polish friends was I visiting the artist Hagop Hagopian. He unveiled for us one of his latest canvasses dedicated to Hrant Dink headless men in suits, with a pigeon at their feet and a black cat creeping from the side. Hagopian explained that he was inspired by Dinks last article "They dont kill pigeons in my country."

    And so the next performance was dedicated to Hrant Dink. It was composed by Michael Paul Elison and it was called "They dont kill pigeons."

    The soul of all of us laughed as loud as it could when the Sayat Nova choir group performed Kilikia, "Erb vor bastzvin drner luso" (When the doors of light open again). The crowd demanded an encore. I asked myself why it was that the Armenian songs, and not the Turkish ones, were full of sadness and yearning. "Kroong, usqe kougas, khabrik me chounis" (Crane, where do you come from? Do you have any news?).

    Ertan Tekin had a piece on duduk dedicated to "Dink Akhparik" (Brother Dink). Tekin and I shared a common brother. I closed my eyes and listened to the music. I forgot who was playing it. As he finished playing, he said, "Until my last breath, I am going to fight against darkness and gloom until we reach our goal." Maybe Tekin and I shared a common goal, too?

    The concert ended and cheers accelerated into a standing ovation. The greatness of the idea could no longer be disputed. We walked out silently. Raffi was instantly flocked by Turkish journalists. I stepped aside to watch the commotion from afar and thought.

    We, the bearers of the memory of the genocide, must choose between living with love and living under hatred.

    I, for myself, choose to live with love.

    But the wounds still hurt me; my heart is in pain, my soul is crying.

    And so I plead with you, my Turkish friends.

    Help me. Help me heal my wounds.

    Help me ease my pain.

    Help my soul to laugh.

    Open the doors of light.

    "Why Should I Apologize When I Have Not Committed A Crime?" , Sabah, sabah.com.tr, Dec 18 2008,
    Prime Minister Erdogan has announced that he finds the 'I apologize to Armenia' campaign as being illogical, and stated; "The Turkish Republic does not have such concerns."

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan shared his reaction to those who have started the 'I apologize to Armenia' campaign. Calling the campaign "illogical," Erdogan responded to a journalist's question regarding the campaign. "I have not committed any crimes that would require me to apologize. Those that are apologizing must have done some sort of genocide to feel such a need. The Turkish Republic does not have such qualms. If such a crime exists then those that participated can apologize. However not I, nor my country or this nation's citizens have any such issue. Erdogan, emphasizing he has expressed his position on the issue, also brought up the steps that have been taken towards building relations with Armenia. "We did not take any of these actions in order to make up for anything. This in itself is a sign. Another sign would be the president having gone to Armenia to watch the national game between the two countries." Emphasizing that participating in this campaign is not even in question, Erdogan stated: "I do not support the campaign nor will I take any part in it."


    Bringing up the fact that historians are debating the issue, Erdogan stated; "I am honestly having a difficult time comprehending the writers and academicians who are responsible for launching this campaign. They are in essence doing nothing but rattling our sense of peace and reversing the effects of the steps taken. Steps have been taken in order to solve certain issues, but now with the wrong incentive, those steps are being reversed. Approaching the issue with good intentions is one thing; however apologizing only establishes ties to the issue. I do not find it at all logical to apologize when there is no offense present."

    Turkey's Diaspora In Europe Describes Apology Campaign As Game Of Armenian Diaspora , Trend News Agency, Azerbaijan

    Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 18/ Trend News, B. Hasanov/ Union of Turkish Democrats in Europe, uniting all Turkish diasporas in Europe, located in Koln city of Germany, strongly denounced apology the campaign launched by a group of intellectuals in Turkey.

    "The campaign launched by a group of "intellectuals" in Turkey does not reflect position of Turkish people and we consider it a game of Armenian diaspora," Salih Altinishik, secretary general of Union of Turkish Democrats in Europe, said to Trend News by telephone from Koln.

    Around 200 Turkish academics, writers and journalists launched a website issuing an apology to the Armenians regarding the 1915 incidents and calling for people to sign on in support. Over 5,000 people have registered on the website, Turkush media reported.

    Armenia and Armenian lobby worldwide state that in 1915 the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's predecessor, committed genocide against Armenians living in Anatolia. Armenians striving to make their statements recognized worldwide have strengthened their propaganda of the so-called genocide in several countries and have achieved recognition of the "Armenian genocide" at several Parliaments.

    Altinishik said relevant measures are needed to be taken against this campaign. He described it as a part of a scenario carried out stage-by-stage.

    "There is no any crime and criminal to apologize for," he added. He said this campaign will not have any impact on so-called "genocide" claims in Europe.

    "We will successfully continue our diaspora efforts for the favor of our nation," Altinishik said.

    Apology Campaign Triggers Fierce Debate, Today's Zaman, Dec 18 2008

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has objected to a campaign initiated by a group of intellectuals to apologize for the events of 1915, saying the campaign is wrong and is "messing things up."

    Some Turkish intellectuals collected signatures for a statement that contained a personal apology for the events of 1915, which the Armenian claims of genocide are based on.

    "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my part, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologize to them," the statement said.

    When asked yesterday about the campaign, Erdogan claimed that those who committed crimes apologize but that the state and the nation do not have such a problem.

    "We cannot accept this just because some writers launched a campaign," Erdogan said. "I don't accept such a campaign, I don't support this campaign, I don't take part in it. We did not commit crimes, so we don't need to apologize."

    He underlined that he had some difficulty understanding the intellectuals because this campaign serves to "mess things up."

    "Some positive steps were taken. Such initiatives reverse these steps," he said.

    "Such campaigns are wrong initiatives. To approach the issues with goodwill is something else. To apologize is something else. I think to apologize is illogical."

    Erdogan recalled that they restored the Ahdamar church in Van and opened it to visitors. "Also, our president's recent visit to Armenia is another sign of these positive steps," he said.

    Gul visited Yerevan in September at the invitation of his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarksyan, to watch the World Cup qualifying game between the two countries' national soccer teams.

    Gul was also asked about the campaign yesterday. He said that Turkey is a country in which freedom of expression is alive and well.

    "As a state, our attitude is to bring our relations with our neighbors to their best points," Gul said. "We believe in solution by dialogue with our neighbors with which we have problems. Continuing the problems is not useful to anyone."

    Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Ozugergin said yesterday that Turkey is an open society in which everything can be discussed but that Turkey's foreign policy is not as fragile as it may change from today to tomorrow.

    Ozugergin also asked about the initiative of the retired diplomats who opposed the apologizing campaign in a separate statement. "We neither guided this move nor do we have any intentions to comment on that," Ozugergin said. "Our attitude about 1915 is known by everybody,"

    The State Minister Cemil Cicek said that the best answer to the campaign is given by the retired diplomats.

    The apologizing campaign on the Internet collected 6,500 signatures within three days. Another campaign, which started yesterday under the name of "We are expecting an apology" drew approximately 300 signatures.

    The "We are expecting an apology" Web site is designed with the same colors and shapes as the "apologizing campaign" and includes pictures of Turks killed at Hocalı in February 1992 during the Nagorno-Karabakh war. The counter-campaign also has a short statement:

    "I think that all Armenians and their supporters should apologize for the savageness of Armenians towards the Ottoman people. I am stating that I will not close my eyes to this savagery and expecting apology in the name of the whole Turkish word and grandchildren of Ottomans."

    A group of retired diplomats, which includes former Foreign Ministry undersecretaries Korkmaz Haktanır, Å~^ukru Elekdag and Onur Oymen, in a counter-declaration stressed that the move was a "disrespectful act toward Turkish history and its martyrs."

    "Such a wrong and unilateral initiative is disrespectful to our history and also to our people who lost their lives in violent terrorist attacks during the history of the republic and during the last years of the Ottoman Empire," the declaration stated.

    The diplomats' declaration made a point of mentioning the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), which in various attacks in the late '70s and early '80s killed 70 people, including five ambassadors, four consul generals and 34 public workers, and injured 574 people.

    Ozugergin added that the Foreign Ministry is very sensitive about the issue, as can be understood from the name of the room in which regular ministry news conferences are held. The meeting room named after Taha Carım, who killed by ASALA in 1977 when he was ambassador to the Vatican.

    Film About Araks By Armenian And Turkish Experts

    A film about “Araks” river will be produced by Armenian and Turkish film producers, said the President of “Armenian marketing association” NGO Aram Navasardyan. According to him the association implements various projects with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. “Our Turkish colleagues offered to produce a film about Araks River in the frames of our cooperation,” he said.

    Nargiz Osturq, a member of film producing group who was also present at the press conference said that the film will contribute to the business and cultural cooperation of the two countries. He said that Turkish media and society are inspired by the film idea.

    The director of the film Gevorg Nazaryan told that the script was written ensemble with the Turkish colleagues. He said that the heroes of the film are a girl and a boy and the story of two neighbor countries.

    Questioning Crediblity Of Web-Based Surveys
    ISTANBUL - Contrary to common belief, Internet petitions are not in the same category as Internet polls in terms of representation, say experts. Petitions present the opinions of solely the signatories. The signatories express their opinions about specific issues only.

    Internet surveys and online petitions do not represent the opinions of the general public because t hey do not use a genuine sample and are vulnerable to manipulation, say experts.

    "Internet respondents do not constitute a genuine sample. They do not represent the opinion of the community they target," said Tarhan Erdem, a public opinion poll analyst and daily Radikal columnist. Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, he said participants of the polls are people who want to respond, those who heard about the poll or are frequenters to the Web site.

    Discussions about the safety and accuracy of online polls and petitions came to the fore with the recent Web-based campaign launched to issue an apology to Armenians for 1915 incidents in the Ottoman state.

    Contrary to common belief, Internet petitions are not in the same category as Internet polls in terms of representation, say experts. Petitions present the opinions of the signatories only. "The petitions do not claim to represent public opinion. The signatories express their opinions about a specific issue. They don’t claim to represent whole society," said Erdem.

    As reactions to the online apology at ozurdiliyoruz.com continue, the signatures numbered nearly 14,000 yesterday.

    It turns out, however, that not all signatories are real. One of the Armenian apology signatories was İsmail Erez, Turkey’s Ambassador to Paris at the time who was killed in 1975 by an Armenian terrorist organization, daily Akşam reported yesterday.

    "Some people signed the petition under false names in order to discredit this campaign. They used the names of the old ambassadors. We delete those signatures as soon as we see them," said Cengiz Aktar, a professor at Istanbul's Bahçeşehir University who is one of the campaign's architects and a regular columnist for the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

    "Our Web site was sabotaged but we have taken the necessary measures and filtered the names," Hakan Tahmaz, another one of the campaign’s organizers, told daily Milliyet yesterday. The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy Süreyya Sadi Bilgiç, whose name was on the petition, said he will file a complaint against those who used his name.

    Like online petitions, Internet-based surveys face the same problem of security and accuracy, but additionally, methodology is problematic.

    A major problem for these polls is that respondents are limited to people who have access to the Internet. According to research conducted by the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TUIK, as of April only about 24 percent of households in Turkey have Internet access.

    "Not only in Turkey but anywhere in the world, we cannot regard Internet polls as a reliable source," said Erdem, adding that limited and unequal Internet access is only one reason for that.

    Another problem is the technological gaps that allow one person to vote more than once on the Internet. "An Internet poll should be both using cookies and detecting the IP number of each voting computer as a measure of security," said Kutluk Kağan Sümer, a statistician. However, professionals can always find a way around these measures, he added.

    When "Time" magazine held a campaign to select the top leaders of the 20th century through an Internet poll in 1999, Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk received the most votes. But it was because many groups in Turkey shared the link with many people and increased the votes by distributing the news about the poll. Publicizing a poll is significant for getting more people to vote, which mean unheard of polls are targeting less people.

    Multiple voting
    Sümer, also an academic, said he voted more than 30 times for Atatürk in Time’s campaign. "Internet polls can easily be manipulated if professionals are involved in voting," Sümer said.

    A similar publicity campaign occurred when the American magazine Foreign Policy decided to take a poll for the year's top 10 public intellectuals and Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Islamic scholar, topped the list. More than 500,000 people voted for their top choices from the original list of 100 figures. Gülen is the head of a movement that sets up schools and dormitories around the world, but his opinions on education, science, Darwinism, the economy and social justice are a source of controversy. His movement also has a presence in Turkey’s media.

    Most surveys use the computer’s IP address as a measure and do not allow multiple votes from a single computer. "But some people have access to over 30 computers like an Internet caf? owner or a school teacher. The system is not 100 percent safe," said Sümer.

    There is no certain way to stop people voting more than once in a poll or signing a petition multiple times, Erdem said, adding that this security fault is not peculiar to Internet petitions. "People can use fake names while signing on paper too," he said.

    Sümer, however, said identification numbers could be used for petitions or polls on the Internet surveys, "but still people can use other people’s numbers. This system can only secure that one ID number votes once, regardless if it is the right person." © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Patriot Pride: Father Of Seven Says Service Goes Beyond Comfort, Vahan Ishkhanyan, ArmeniaNow reporter
    As the gate squeaked, the door opened and a pregnant woman came out with a man in a military uniform following her. The smile spread over his face as if we had been old friends, and he invited us inside: "Come in! Come in!", though it was the first time we met. Poverty and cold inside, faded walls with huge holes, a balcony with broken glasses, beds and a table with meager food, pickles and a half empty bottle of vodka... "Sit down! Sit down!" said the home master gladly. Had we started to drink with him, he would never ask who we were and why did we arrive. So I had to ask him: "Don't you want to know who we are?" Replied the home owner: "Its of no importance".

    Armen Avetisyan, a soldier known for his feat in the village of Achajur, has been defending the border near to the village of Vazashen, since 1988 when the Karabakh War started. He took part in the fights in Lachin corridor, on the Karabakh front.

    He was wounded twice. Fragments in his back still remind. He has no intention of having the shrapnel removed, unless: "I'll wait till iron gets higher in price to sell," said Armen laughing. Doesn't it hurt? "Not any more. Let it stay in me as a memory of the war. We are all mortal; let me take this with me from this world."

    Armen, 44, is on a military service day and night in arms for 14 days a month, and spends the rest of the days in the military unit. He rarely sees his family. With our visit, he had taken a leave to see his third son Andranik off to the army.

    The price for the 20 years of service to the fatherland for, a father of 6, is this extreme poverty. A seventh child is due any day. His wife Mariam underwent surgery a year ago; doctors said she couldn't get pregnant again. They were wrong.

    Mariam wanted to end the pregnancy, but the doctor stopped her saying 'you are all torn into pieces inside, it may be dangerous'. She was to spend the last two months of her complicated pregnancy in bed. But how could she, when her husband is on service and the family chores are on her shoulders? Their 4th son Aram, 11, suffers sharp kidney pains, the other two, Artur,7 and Amalia, 2 are too young and need care. Their elder son Ararat is in prison for stabbing a person in an army brawl between Armenians from the Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The injured had survived, but Ararat was sentenced to 4.5 years. He now still has 18 months to serve.

    A family member last visited Ararat several months ago. It was one of their sons who went to see him, because Armen was on duty, and Mariam could not leave the children alone. The parents have not seen the son for a year, and the visits became absolutely impossible when Ararat was moved from the Nubarashen prison in Yerevan to Artik. The family has no means to get to the new place of his confinement.

    They will wait before he is released. Mariam worries over Ararat's kidney problems. He takes pills, but needs care. Ararat used to be a football player, a wing. He had applied to the military academy, but failed the entrance exams.

    The medical check-up at military conscription had found spots on his lungs. He was taken to the hospital, but Armen says he appealed to the military commission to take his son to the army: "I told my son, people served for you to sleep peacefully, now you go serve, let them peacefully sleep."

    His other son Anushavan, 21, has also served in the army with his unit located in Karabakh and is already demobilized.

    Where will Andranik be taken, to Karabakh again, where the service is believed to be the hardest? "Wherever he gets, it's his destiny. He is a man, he has to serve. I am so happy I can see off a son [to the army]," says Armen gladly. The 7th will be a boy again. They have not decided the name, but definitely it will start with 'A' like his and his children's names - their first and last names, all starting with 'A'.

    This was the first year Armen started to renovate the house, to make it larger to have his son married, so that the family had space to live. But he did not manage to finish it. The home remained trapped in the cold winds, because there was no means for repair. They will spend the winter months in the lower story now resembling a shed with a dirt floor, broken window panes and pealing walls.

    A gas pipe stretches above their gate, but there is no money to have it connected, so they will be forced again to somehow find wood to heat the house this winter.

    Armen's salary including an employee incentive pay is 163,000 drams per month (about $525). Nothing more, no help comes from anywhere. They buy 3 sacks of flour a month that makes 36,000 drams (about $115). A box of detergent lasts just two days.

    Armen used to be a company commander before 1998, and his salary then was four times less. Poverty forced him to abandon the service and leave for Russia to work. He returned six months later with plenty of debts: "I wanted to try, but failed and returned, I had a cow that I sold to pay the interests on my debts. I can't be a labor migrant, man, mine is the weapon, and killing Turks, and keeping the fatherland. Well, that's what God gave me. He gives wealth, cars to others, and gave me this patriotic fever. I like weapons. If I have to choose between a jeep car and a TT pistol, I will take the TT. They say, do you know how many TTs you can buy for that jeep, and I say I get seduced when I see weapons and don't care what's next to it."

    When the situation on the border complicated in 2003, Armen took up a contract service. He has lost 6 friends-in-arms in the 4 years spent on the border - the snipers are on the alert to shoot as soon as they see a soldier.

    They have neither place nor time to cultivate soil or tend animals. Besides, their property is liable to landslide, so is impossible to cultivate. "It has collapsed, we can't use a tractor to dig, or else we will be buried with it," sadly says Mariam, who does not have Armen's optimism.

    On the way to Ijevan the driver heard us talking about Armen and continued: "Armen? He is a great guy, there is no one like him around, he has been fighting from the very first day, but there is no one to value that." ARMENIANOW.COM

    December 19, 2008, Pamuk Explains ’living On The Edge’
    ISTANBUL - ’Turkey is not a part of the West. I always repeat this and I will repeat it again, Turkey is an imitation of the West. Turkey has never been colonized by Europe and because we have no wounds [from colonization], it is easier to have praise for Europe,’ says Pamuk.

    Living on the edge of Europe has certain temptations for writers, said Turkey’s only Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, at the opening of the opening of the "World Literature in Between" symposium Thursday. One of which is imitating the West to the detriment of one's culture, he added.

    The symposium, bringing together leading scholars, authors and critics of literature from around the world, opened with a literary conversation between author Orhan Pamuk and David Damrosch, professor of comparative literature at Columbia University. Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

    The talk, during which Dr. Damrosch asked questions for Pamuk to answer, focused on what Pamuk repeatedly referred to as "the damning questions" of world literature, such as authenticity, universality and translatability.

    Talking in depth about what it means to be "living at the edge of Europe," Pamuk said that he is often compared to James Joyce, the famous Irish novelist who wrote from the Western edge of Europe. "People often say that I did for Istanbul what James Joyce did for Dublin. I guess it is true in the sense that I also wrote about a city a lot of people knew and cared little about."

    But "living at the edge of Europe" also means that there is a great temptation to imitate Europe, to the detriment of one’s own culture. "Turkey is not a part of the West. I always repeat this and I will repeat it again, Turkey is an imitation of the West. Turkey has never been colonized by Europe and because we have no wounds [from colonization], it is easier to have praise for Europe. Atatürk himself was a perfect occidentalist."

    When Dr. Damrosch asked if he feels that he is writing for a different audience now that he has readers from so many different nationalities, Pamuk couldn’t help smiling. "I get this question all the time," he said. "Even in the '70s and '80s, they would ask 'Who do you write for?' And this was a trick question. It was a leftist environment and I would say things like 'I write for the dispossessed, for the lower classes, to enlighten them and to serve my country,' and people would laugh and say, 'Haha, do you think those people actually read your books?' And when I get this question now, sometimes, it is still an incriminating question. It’s like 'Are you sugaring your country’s problems for a Western audience instead of being involved in the nation’s struggles?'"

    The symposium is taking place at Santralistanbul, an arts and cultural complex located at the Silahtaroğlu campus of Bilgi University. It will end Saturday afternoon with a round-table discussion mediated by Dr. Damrosch.

    First Account On The Apology Campaign
    The campaign was launched Monday. The thoughtful, caring and humble language of the two sentences of apology, as well as its being an individual expression of consciousness, infuriated the negationist camp. But it also disturbed many editorialists who like to talk through their hats.

    As it has always been, discussions over taboo-like issues proceed in two parallel, yet sometimes tangent, courses. The first is common primitive recitations and reactions of people who are loyal to the taboo.

    The other is a discussion over the content of the demand, what it should be about and what it should be not, and how it is voiced. The first group of reactions is the statement of the obvious. These are nothing but cliches, defenses, statements and the rhetoric over the denial based on plenty of martyrs and traitors.

    During the last century the negationist camp advocated that the Armenian question is a complete fabrication, meaning essentially that Armenians vaporized in a few years from Anatolia where they had lived for 4,000 years. But of course, the guardians of the temple, i.e. the state and pro-state politicians, are behind such attitude. Their unique criterion is to love the country in the only way they know how. People who act against this are accused of treason, labeled as traitors. This has been so for exactly a century, since the hawkish pro-military wing of the Committee of Union and Progress took over power in 1909. No change has been seen in the content of warnings, threats and insults.

    The other group consists of people who like to disapprove and to give constant advice. Constructive discussions are always useful and they should be maintained. But the support and participation in the campaign have dragged the intellectual debate into a completely different ground. The participants have changed the debate into something different from a classical debate between intellectuals and they have opened the Armenian issue into discussions on a level unheard of before. On the Armenian question, a new and different word, other than the discourses of denial or sadness, is being uttered in Turkey.

    As for the Armenian world, be it in Turkey, Armenia or among the diaspora, a deep sense of gratitude is visible together with some kind of annoyance, especially in the diaspora institutions. The debate continues over there as well.

    In the end, the real determinant here is the people of Turkey, of any age and from any cities or profession who have listened to their voice of conscience and participated in the campaign.They pitched into the campaign by knowing that what a terrible taboo this issue is and that the communities they may belong to will not approve this at all. They had the guts to sign, especially in a country where apologizing is regarded generally as a dishonorable act, and in a intellectual environment where even the most ambitious pen-slingers fail to apologize while agreeing with the rest of the text.

    To curb the desire of change and normalization in Turkey that started in 1983 is impossible. The process can only be interrupted; and as a matter of fact there is such danger nowadays. But in the long-run, water always finds its course and the past realities that have been ignored since the formation of the nation-state will come back to the agenda.

    That, the European Union membership process is certainly the most essential vector of the "Turkish Enlightenment" and the murder of the Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant Dink are perhaps the turning-points of this enlightenment.

    This campaign is not a discussion over the genocide. It is the participants’ voice of conscience. It is not the campaign of a few intellectuals and writers as put by the Prime Minister. These people have only initiated the opportunity and offered the medium. From now on, in Turkey and abroad, in Armenia and in the diaspora, everyone taking up the Armenian issue will have to pay attention to the existence of 14,000 people from Turkey who listened to their voice of conscience and participated in the campaign. From now on, they will be the new factor of this century-old dispute and discussion. Cengiz Aktar, © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    ’My Son, My Name Is Süleyman. And I Am Circumcised.’
    A long time ago, only it could have been last week, I had my first real introduction to the complexity of the conflicting Armenian and Turkish historical narratives that once again we see reverberating through the socio-political spectrum.

    It is always an incendiary issue, this symbolic matter of "genocide" with alleged, provoked, non-existent, or any other of the many adjectives that precede the noun. We here at the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review have worked very hard to explore and reflect the many facets of the ongoing rapprochement between Turks and Armenians. We have also sought to do the same with the many areas of continuing white hot controversy, including the newly launched Web site www.ozurdiliyoruz.com that seeks to be a vehicle for strictly personal Turkish apologies for Armenian suffering. We have also reflected the reaction and criticism to this effort, some of it noteworthy for its sober maturity, some of it less so. We continue today, in a look at the veracity of online information gathering by reporter Sevim Songün.

    This is not a debate in which we take a position, for that is not our job. It is an issue to which we feel particularly close. As thoughtful readers know, we are a newspaper with a staff whose political sensibilities cover all points of the ideological compass. None of the monotheisms is without at least an adherent or two among us. We are well equipped both intellectually and in terms of experience and perspective to cover incendiary social issues ... including this one.

    Most weekends I try and use this column to offer a window into the Daily News newsroom, a look inside at just who we are, how we think and how we approach our task. The dynamics of the reporting process are too often opaque; they should not be.

    So I choose to share a formative experience in the shaping of my own outlook on this issue that came long before I ever imagined I would manage any newspaper, let alone a Turkish one. In the early 1990s, I was a reporter in Washington assigned to the Department of Agriculture. About as international as I got was in analyzing the tariff rates on Colombian flower imports or the seasonal volumes of Chilean grape production.

    But one day I spied a press release on a colleague’s desk. It was for a rally on April 24, the day Armenians traditionally mark the anniversary of this chapter in history. Five elderly "survivors" of the events of 1915, who were receiving medallions in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center, would be available for interviews on that day at Dupont Circle, a park in the center of Washington. Reporters would have the chance to hear their stories, and then join a march down Massachusetts Avenue to protest in front of the Turkish Embassy. No one else at the bureau was interested. So I decided to go to DuPont Circle.

    There was a scattering of tables and chairs, with the five elderly witnesses to history seated separately. There was a line of reporters; when a witness became available, the scribe at the front of the line was invited to sit down for an interview. I drew a woman whose name I remember as Garabedian. I should mention, however, that I failed in an effort to access the U.S.A. Today electronic archive Friday so I may be mistaken.

    She was from the city of Maraş. She had lost her entire family and the graphic description of slaughter does not need repeating here. As she told her story, she shared a few lines of blasphemy in Turkish, things apparently said during the assault on her family. She then started to translate in to English. I responded in Turkish, addressing her as "aunt," which somehow seemed appropriate. I said that she could continue, that I spoke Turkish as well. I also sought to explain that I was not Turkish, that the language was just a piece of an accidental childhood. I didn’t get that far. She would not hear it.

    "The Turks saved me and my sisters," she declared, bursting into tears and throwing her arms around me. "Oh, to meet a Turk." Her narrative then changed and the "Turks" become the heroes of the story, the evildoers another group.

    This turn in storytelling events surprised me as well as the minders. But then the elderly man decrying the Turks to a reporter at the next table overheard us. I will never forget his exact introduction as he abandoned the journalist with whom he was speaking and ran to grasp my hand: "Oğlum, oğlum, adım Süleyman. Ben sünnetliyim." (My son, my son, my name is Süleyman. And I am circumcised.)

    A native of Sivas, he chose to walk with me all the way down Massachusetts Avenue. In Turkish, he described his adoption by a Turkish family, how he was wrested away from them by Christian missionaries and raised in an orphanage in Greece. His story included his return to Sivas to rejoin his adoptive family in the 1940s, the adventure of trading currency on Istanbul’s black market in the 1950s and ultimately his migration to Israel in the 1960s. He took his adoptive "Muslim" father to live with him in Jerusalem, where he died. The "father" was buried with Islamic rites by the son who considered himself a Christian. Ultimately "Süleyman bey" as I was calling him, moved to Florida and he was then living in a rest home.

    We made our farewells. I wrote some kind of story, which I actually hope to retrieve out of curiosity. But I am sure it was not much. There is no major insight here. Very old people. Layers of trauma. The desire to please the listener. And a young farm reporter who just happened to speak Turkish, unsure of himself. It is just an anecdote really, one that can lead to no serious conclusion, no reasoned judgment.

    But my new friends "Süleyman bey" and "Mrs. Garabedian" did offer me a lesson that day, one for an editor some two decades hence. The lesson I draw is that this ongoing story, despite the passage of nearly a century, is one at the boundaries of human endurance, of extraordinary pain, of clashing traumas, of conflicting narratives and of the deepest emotions. We reporters must strive to make things clear, a task that too often becomes an exercise in simplification. Nothing in this story, the story of Turks and Armenians, is simple.

    Few journalistic challenges rise to this level of complexity. But it is a challenge that we are up to. We don’t take sides. We just take notes. And we are and will be as complete in our reporting as humanly possible as this difficult story continues. This is our commitment. I believe Süleyman bey and Mrs. Garabedian would expect nothing less.

    David Judson is the editor-in-chief of the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, David Judson, © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    The Compelling Case Of Turkey's Constitution ,by Liam Hardy, 16 December 2008
    Washington, DC - Turkish foreign minister and chief negotiator for the EU Ali Babacan, speaking at a NATO foreign ministers meeting recently, mentioned that the Turkish Constitution as it stands now will not help Turkey move forward with its reform agenda.

    This resonates with a statement in September by the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, that constitutional reform would greatly accelerate Turkey's EU accession process and could "break the cycle" of political crises in the country – such as last year's presidential election crisis and this year's Constitutional Court case to disband the ruling political party.

    Although debate over changing the constitution has waned immensely over the past year, Babacan has rightly called attention to an issue that has important implications for Turkey. The current constitution, which was implemented under Turkish military rule in 1982, has caused some serious headaches. Many elements within Turkey argue that the current constitution limits basic rights and freedoms, including the freedom of speech, religious expression and association.

    Both for internal steadiness as well as greater EU compatibility, debate has focused in the past on creating a new constitution that functions more democratically and better ensures the rights and freedoms of all Turkish citizens. A renewed energy must emerge from Turkey's political parties and civil society for action to take place anytime soon. However, recent history and the government's current workload also make this a challenging task.

    Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), made an effort to draft a new constitution after the 2007 elections, but the party made some serious missteps. They attempted to create a draft in secrecy without involving other political parties or institutions. The draft was then leaked to the press.

    Soon thereafter, the constitutional amendments to allow headscarves in universities and the trial charging the AKP for violating secularism created a major distraction.

    Meanwhile, other events have taken centre stage: increased violence from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Russia-Georgia conflict, renewed ties with Armenia, mediation between Syria and Israel, the global economic crisis and the scandal surrounding the clandestine group Ergenekon, which some allege was plotting a coup and others believe was an excuse used by the government to arrest its critics.

    As a result, debate over a new constitution has been left sitting on the shelf.

    More conservative Turks have argued that the current constitution has been amended so frequently (79 articles have been changed and 13 amendments added in 26 years), that only some additional amendments would be necessary. Others, particularly in academia and civil society, insist that a Constitutional Convention should be called and a complete revision generated, claiming that the spirit of the document needs to be renewed.

    A new draft would most likely strengthen the parliamentary system, reduce powers of the presidency, reform the judicial process and clearly define individual freedoms.

    An attempt to renew Turkey's constitution could be as daunting, and perhaps as dangerous, as open-heart surgery. However, many sectors of society have been calling for change, claiming that Turkey has progressed far beyond its days of military rule and that its constitution must reflect this.

    Yet, convincing political leaders that such reforms are necessary sooner rather than later, and sustaining the political will to carry them out, will be challenging. Still stinging from the embarrassment of the recent attempts to change the constitution, those in power are unlikely to risk taking up this issue again in the near future. Additionally, there are many regional issues involving Turkey that will keep the government occupied.

    However, judging from the comments of Foreign Minister Babacan and other leaders, addressing challenges and moving ahead with reforms must be done within a solid constitutional framework, and a renewed and vibrant debate over the constitution would be healthy for Turkey's future.


    * Liam Hardy is an independent researcher on issues related to Turkey and the region. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.

    Source: Common Ground News Service, 16 December 2008, www.commongroundnews.org
    Copyright permission is granted for publication.

    My Right To Apologize BIA News Service - Ankara, 19-12-2008, Engin PAREV
    Whether my apology is accepted or not, by the living or by the deceased, I will want to keep doing this until we all accept, understand, share pain, forgive; but not forget till eternity what had happened in 1915.

    Like many people who have signed and not signed the statement in apology of the 1915 events; I also think the wording is not to the liking of some of us; but I guess the drafters of this text argued on this extensively, and came to a "compromise" one, to provide as much participation as possible.

    For example, personally, I am not happy with the definition of the 1915 as only the Great Catastrophe; I would have liked to sign under a text which said Genocide openly; I believe we have past all threshold to be cautious; especially after the killing of Hrant Dink.

    Also some other persons have been outside the scope of the apology as we all know the Assyrians also had their share of the 1915 Genocide; and then when is a good time to apologise from the Rums (ethnic Greeks under Turkish rule) and other non-Muslims in Turkey who have suffered not may be as much as in so many numbers, but have also suffered similarly? Therefore the text could have possibly said "the Armenian Genocide, the Armenians and others who have lost their lives in that period and all the non-Muslims who have suffered the same faith for similar reasons of hatred; as victims of crimes against humanity..".

    Another point of ciriticism was that this apology statement's text could have been discussed a little longer among a larger group of persons rather than being launched immediately by the four prominent intellectuals; this would have given us all the chance to refine and study other forms of apologies better; and improve it.

    BUT I still signed this statement, because:

    Even though I do not feel personally responsible from the Genocide; I signed it for reasons of humane consciousness ; like many others have also expressed; i.e. Yasemn Çongar et al..;

    I believe that this statement will increase awareness and also put pressures on official historiography,

    I signed for reasons of compassion and empathy creation;

    I signed to announce that we, the citizens of Turkey who are willing to face the past, those of us who have to live here have had really enough of this official and public denialist approach, we can not not sign such a statement if already some people have taken courageous initiative to begin somewhere; to take a step further ahead in a thorny road;

    I see the statement as an avant garde to be followed by better ones and many many others in the near future; this is only a starter;

    As against the criticisms of those who do not wish to sign by saying that they are world citizens and not bound by the borders of a mundane state;
    these people who signed the apology text are also citizens of the world; to say those who sign are feeling as subjects of the Turkish state; or doing this in the name of the Turkish state would be injustice to the signatories.

    I signed because this burden of official/public denial has always been too unbearable to live with; you can imagine living in a country where such truth has been continuously concealed and many people who wanted to talk about it faced court cases, had to flee to another civilised parts of the world; or had been killed like Hrant Dink. Hrant Dink was killed because of this concealed history and open hatred; was killed because he was an Armenian; and also because he was constantly trying to uncover the buried facts;

    I wanted to sign it not merely to put my mind at ease; as my mind is still not at ease and will not be until Turkey recognizes, apologises and compensates officially; my mind will not be at ease till the moment I die with remembrance of those Armenian brothers and sisters of ours and others who had to die like that; But this will be a small step in that truth and soul searching path; it is worth the effort; brick by brick to make this wall of denial and shame to fall down;

    I wanted to sign because I wanted to shout not only by one signature but all my life that I will always be at pain, suffer, remember the lost souls and suffrage they had to go through;

    Finally this is my right to apologise; to not only to those living Armenians whether they were relatives or had no ties at all with the genocide victims; all inclusive apology from all Armenians and Assyrians, and all human beings of the world; but also to the deceased souls of the genocide of the 1909 and 1915. Whether my apology is accepted or not, (by the living or by the deceased) I will want to keep doing this until we all accept, understand, share pain, forgive; but not FORGET till eternity what had happened in 1915.

    I may still have forgotten important reasons to the apology, or feelings still not explained; but just wanted to express some of them; the process of apology is not a gained one with one statement; it is a long long enduring path to take. And this statement is a sign post for this road; and I wish to congratulate the four courageus persons who initiated it. (ŞP/EK)

    Turkish Republic Rather Than Turkish Intelligentsia Ought To Apologize To Armenians, Karine Ter-Sahakyan, PanARMENIAN.Net, 16.12.2008
    Besides the quests of national identity there is also an internal struggle going on in Turkey for future of the country that has fallen into the clutches of Kemalism and can in no way get out of them.

    The quests of national identity led Turkish intellectuals to an, at first glance, highly unexpected action. For the last few days the entire world press has been exclusively writing about confessing "butchers", remorse, duty before your offspring - in a word, about anything with reference to Turkey. Such burst of interest towards the Turkish nation could also be observed 2 years ago, when Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul. People then carried placards saying "We are all Hrant Dink", "We are all Armenians". And now Turkish intellectuals call for apology to Armenians for the killings in the Ottoman Empire in the years of the World War I.

    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ However, as always, the word "genocide" is not uttered. On the one hand, the movement "Armenians, forgive us" is, logically, aimed at touching the most sensitive cords of the Armenian nation, who might unexpectedly accept the apology as if nothing had happened. On the other hand, the appeal to apologize to Armenians is highly criticized by not only nationalists, which was quite predictable, but also by a part of the society who consider such kind of statements to be halved. "It is a good starting point, but not enough. Firstly, what do they mean by saying 'Great Catastrophe'? Let's name it. It is genocide. Secondly, the state has to apologize," said Aytekin Yildiz, Coordinator of the Confrontation Association. However, in its confession the Turkish nation cannot be considered to have reached the point of calling a spade a spade until Article 301 of the Criminal Code of Turkey is revoked. Under the present circumstances any of those more than 5000 signatories can be taken to court ant moment. By the way, it is exactly what the retired diplomats suggest now.

    Ex-ambassadors severely criticized the internet campaign of public apology to Armenians for the events of 1915 and consider that Turkish intelligentsia should not apologize to the Armenian nation for the Genocide. The diplomats issued Monday a statement in which they characterized the campaign as "unfair, wrong and unfavorable for national interests." According to the Hurriyet Daily News about 60 retired ambassadors and diplomats signed under the statement. "Such an incorrect and one-sided attempt would mean disrespecting our history and betraying our people who lost their lives in the violent attacks of the terror organizations in the final days of the Ottoman Empire, as well as during the formation of the Republic," says the statement signed by Sukru Elekdag and Onur Oymen. Authors of the statement also remind that Armenia has rejected Turkey's suggestion on forming a commission of historians to investigate the events of 1915.

    The diplomats' letter, as well as the nationalists' threats to punish the intelligentsia representatives, in our opinion, suggest that the Government does not intend apologize. Besides the quests of national identity there is also an internal struggle going on in Turkey for future of the country that has fallen into the clutches of Kemalism and can in no way get out of them. Even the Islamist party of Gul and Erdogan is still unable to outweigh the influence of the Joint Staff on the country's policy. Prime-Minister Erdogan is a pragmatic and he perfectly realizes where the military will finally lead Turkey to, but he is still unable to stand against them. Thereupon, the online petition of the intellectuals may play a great role. According to Antonio Ferrari, Journalist of the Corriere della Sera and author of an article about the online petition of the Turkish intellectuals, Prime-Minister Erdogan and President Gul's silence on the apology campaign can be regarded as their interest in the initiative, directed to intimacy between Turkey and Armenia.

    The only "oddity" in all this story is that the petition has not been signed by Orhan Pamuk, Taner Akcam, Elif Safak, Ragip Zarakolu -those who for publicly mentioning the Armenian Genocide were brought to trial under Article 301 and were forced to leave Turkey.

    Hranush Hakobian: We Don't Know Our Diaspora Well, 17.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The RA Ministry of Diaspora Affairs will encourage Armenians to return to the homeland.

    "Ari Tun (Come Home) program includes not only physical return of Armenians. Our task is to remind our compatriots that they are Armenians. We are confident that once a young Armenian sees his homeland, he will be eager to make his contribution to its development. Our huge Diaspora, which numbers some 10 million people throughout the globe, should use its spiritual and financial potential for development of Armenia," Ms. Hranush Hakobian, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, said in an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net.

    "We should unite not only in sorrow but also in order to build a strong and prosperous Armenia. Many people say that the repatriation program demands creation of special conditions but I think all Armenians should live and work under equal conditions," she said.

    The Ministry is also developing an annual project titled 'Days of Honor', Ms. Hakobian informed.

    "In 2009, these Days will be dedicated to renowned Charles Aznavour, Kirk Krkorian and Alek Manookian. If the project succeeds, we will dedicate a month to one of outstanding Diaspora representatives. Our poor awareness about the Diaspora and vice versa is one of our gravest mistakes. Everyone in Armenia must know who Alek Manookian was," she said.

    Hranush Hakobian: Armenians should unite to build strong and glorious country The establishment of the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora Affairs aroused hopes for strengthening and development of cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Diaspora in various fields. Besides, the Ministry intends to launch a repatriation program. PanARMENIAN.Net has requested Ms. Hranush Hakobian, the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, to comment on the plans and future activities of the Ministry.

    17.12.2008 GMT+04:00 Addressing 'Repatriation and its lessons: repatriation today' conference in Yerevan you said that the Armenian authorities should encourage the repatriation program in every possible way. What exactly should be done to that end?

    Yes, we will encourage our compatriots to return to the homeland. Ari Tun (Come Home) program includes not only physical return of Armenians. Our task is to remind our compatriots that they are Armenians. We are confident that once a young Armenian sees his homeland, he will be eager to make his contribution to its development. Our huge Diaspora, which numbers some 10 million people throughout the globe, should use its spiritual and financial potential for development of Armenia.

    We should unite not only in sorrow but also in order to build a strong and prosperous Armenia. Many people say that the repatriation program demands creation of special conditions but I think all Armenians should live and work under equal conditions.

    There are plenty of talented people in Diaspora, who are not known in Armenia. Does the Ministry plan any program to make them famous in the homeland too?

    This is a very topical question. The Ministry is developing an annual project titled 'Days of Honor'. In 2009, these Days will be dedicated to renowned Charles Aznavour, Kirk Krkorian and Alek Manookian. If the project succeeds, we will dedicate a month to one of outstanding Diaspora representatives. Our poor awareness about the Diaspora and vice versa is one of our gravest mistakes. Everyone in Armenia must know who Alek Manookian was.

    The most numerous Armenian community lives in Russia. Don't you think that it doesn't use its potential completely for Armenia's development? How do you assess the level of its self-organization?

    A great deal of work should be carried out with the Armenian community of Russia. At that Armenians in each region of Russia should be treated in a special way. Besides, I am glad that we can cooperate with the Union of Armenians of Russia to achieve better results and maintain Armenianhood. We know that the society and Diaspora have big expectation from our work but we will need time to realize all our plans.

    Embassies Wiretap Phone Conversations, Expert Claims
    Computer and Program Engineers Foundation head Yılmaz Sönmez has claimed that foreign embassies in Turkey frequently wiretap phone conversations.

    “Wiretapping is conducted quite easily in Turkey. Even a 17-year-old youngster can do it. Anyone who has YTL 500 can download wiretapping programs available on the Internet. It is foreign embassies that are most busy bugging phones in Turkey,” Sönmez asserted while briefing a parliamentary commission established to examine allegations that a top Republican People’s Party (CHP) member had been bugged.

    The commission was established in July, shortly after the Vakit daily’s publication of a transcript of a private meeting that CHP Secretary-General Önder Sav held in his office. Though Sav claimed that his office had been bugged, his allegations were proven false when phone records showed that his cell phone had remained connected to Vakit headquarters for 42 minutes, until the cell phone battery ran out or the phone was switched off. Sav had forgotten to disconnect a call on his cell phone, inadvertently allowing the Vakit reporter on the other end of the line to take note of everything he had said during a conversation he was having with a visitor.

    “An antenna placed on top of a building will enable a person to wiretap all phone conversations taking place within 30 to 40 kilometers around it. This is generally done by foreign embassies in Turkey,” Sönmez stated.

    He also said wiretapping programs can be prepared by computer experts for around $5,000. “These programs can be downloaded from various Web sites for YTL 500. They are widely used by young people in Turkey,” he added. 18 December 2008, HABİB GÜLER

    Smart ID debuts in ’10
    ANKARA - What makes forgery of the smart card impossible has been accomplished through electronic enciphering techniques, says Mustafa Başak. The system contains a mechanism to detect and fix corruptions in its memory cells, and keys for coding and decoding are totally separated.

    The nationwide introduction of "smart" identity cards is expected by 2010 with the aim of providing a more multipurpose card and increasing the safety of personal data.

    The cards, which have electronic chips inserted in them, are being developed by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBİTAK, and are protected with seven high security measures. It is said the cards are more advanced than smart-card technologies used in many European countries.

    The cards are developed with local technology by the National Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology, or UEKAE, division of TÜBİTAK. Visible safety measures in the cards include multicolored holograms incorporating all colors of the rainbow, ultraviolet symbols, patterned borders and micro-printing, while special codes are also embedded in the chip.

    Mustafa Başak, project officer at UEKAE, spoke to the Anatolia news agency about the smart-card operation system, or AKIS.

    Başak said the smart-card will initially replace the national identity card and possible future uses will include drivers licenses, passports and health insurance cards. They could also be used for identification purposes in e-government applications, in place of certificates from the Health Ministry or for Finance Ministry tax applications. Başak said the smart cards could be used by municipalities to serve as city cards or prepaid cards and could assist in preventing multiple votes during elections. Private medical data, accessible only with the card bearer’s permission, may also be stored in the card, Başak said.

    Impossible to forge
    Başak said the smart-cards "could not be forged ... and have security measures in place to detect any changes when the card is damaged or distorted." Başak said the data on the card and in the chip would be protected using cryptographic methods and while the card itself would prove very difficult to forge, it would be impossible to tamper with the electronic security system.

    Başak said it would be possible to identify a forged card at first glance due to visual enciphering. "Although forgery [of the card] is very difficult, the visual data will also feature in the chip in electronic code, just in case. When the chip is tinkered with, the data present cannot be read when the card is inserted into a device."

    What makes forgery of the card impossible has been accomplished through electronic enciphering techniques, Başak said. AKIS contains a mechanism to detect and fix corruptions in the memory cells, and the keys for coding, decoding and authentication are completely detached from each other.

    Başak said the card also has PIN and PUK codes and it was possible to insert fingerprint technology, which was ready for use, if the relevant law was enacted. Başak said due to the ban on use of data such as fingerprints and iris identification on databases according to European Union criteria, fingerprints would be stored inside the cards. "Because the card will be in the hands of the owner, storing the fingerprint somewhere else is not going to take place, as is being reported in the press," he said.

    Technology based on optical recognition not chips

    Başak said smart-card technology used in the United States was not based on chips, but on optical recognition and Turkey is ahead of many European Union countries when it came to smart-card technology. Başak said Turkey was in the same league with Ukraine and Portugal who were applying advanced smart-card technologies. "Turkey has already started to apply a system Europe is still working on," he said.

    Başak said a pilot project for smart-cards started in the Black Sea town of Bolu on Nov. 1 and 10,000 cards would be handed out by the end of this year. The second phase will include 300,000 cards to be distributed by May 2010. The smart-cards are already in use at 67 pharmacies, a hospital and eight family physician practices, Başak said.

    I apologize to Hrant
    I was a friend of Hrant Dink and one of those who felt responsible for his death. I was not so very close to him and we met rarely. But we were friends. We had built our own memories. We were the two panelists on the last day of an open-to-public workshop titled "From the Balkan Wars to the new Turkish Republic" on March 7 to 10, 2002 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. It was his first trip abroad. We were together in Paris in 2006. We were together on panels in Istanbul and Trabzon. We sat around the dinner table so many times and shared bread at his Kınalıada house.

    I remember that we talked about everything, but did not engage in any "genocide discussion." The most important thing for Hrant was "conscience." Therefore, we easily got along. Although we met once in a while and though I was not so very close to him, we were always good friends. So I seriously felt responsible for not being aware of the fact that he was approaching death step-by-step.

    I had no contact whatsoever with Ogün Samast, Yasin Hayal, Kemal Kerinçsiz and Veli Küçük. I learned the names of the first two after Hrant was killed. I heard the name of Kerinçsiz through his provocations and criminal complaints he made during the court sessions while Hrant was on trial at the Şişli Courthouse. And I have known about Küçük since the Susurluk incident. The first two are in prison for the Hrant Dink murder case and the last two are under arrest for the Ergenekon crime gang case. Still, I am one of those who are responsible for Hrant’s death because I had never thought that he could be killed and for leaving him alone at his trials. I feel responsible because I couldn’t anticipate that he could be killed and didn’t try to convince him that it was better for him to leave the country, at least for a short while.

    But the trials at the Şişli courthouse were transformed into a show of lynching. Kerinçsiz and his friends had turned the courthouse into some other place and he was supported by the pro-Ergenekon, including Veli Küçük. Two days ago, Küçük said at his plea allocution in the Ergenekon trial that he saw a crowd in Şişli while passing in his car, got out of the car and entered the courthouse. It means, Küçük was coincidentally and out of curiosity there as Hrant was on trial. Küçük happened to get into the courthouse as though he was entering a shopping mall, carrying a gun in his belt. We, as Hrant’s friends, were not at the Şişli Courthouse, not even coincidentally. When Hrant saw Küçük in the room, he told a friend "Now I am dead meat." At that moment, Hrant felt that he may be killed. "After my brother saw Küçük at the trial, he had seriously started to think that he could be killed. He was awfully disturbed by that," one of Hrant’s siblings told me after his death.

    During the pathetic trials of the Hrant Dink murder case, we learned that almost everyone knew even a year before Hrant’s murder that he would be killed.

    The number of people at Trabzon gendarmerie, security and Istanbul security departments, who happened to know in advance of his death that he could be killed, is more than those who didn’t know. Even Hrant himself had the feeling that he would be killed. As I couldn’t see this and couldn’t do what was necessary then, I was, and am, feeling responsible. For this reason, I owe an apology to Hrant...

    I also owe an apology to Hrant for not being able to convince Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to participate in the funeral ceremony that brought life to a halt in Istanbul and was attended by many ambassadors and politicians from Ankara and Europe and by at least 200,000 people, because Mr. Prime Minister was with his Italian counterpart, then Romano Prodi, for the opening ceremony of the Bolu Tunnel.

    And I do apologize to Hrant for failing to convince our colleagues, media bosses and editors-in-chief to follow neither the funeral ceremony nor the trials of his murder case. I am aware that if Mr. Prime Minister and government members had joined the funeral concession, the Hrant Dink murder case and the Ergenekon case would have taken a different course.

    After his death, I pondered about why I didn’t realize that Hrant could be killed and why I left him alone at his trials that were turned into "personal lynching" sessions in the form of nationalist demonstrations. So I am, or rather we are, among the responsible.

    Getting into trouble in Turkey was something ordinary for each of us then. So I think I couldn’t see anything "dramatic" about Hrant’s being on trial. Prominent novelists Orhan Pamuk, Elif Şafak and journalist Murat Belge stood before the judge for violations of the Turkish Penal Code Article 301, about degradation of Turkishness, just as journalists Hasan Cemal, İsmet Berkan, Haluk Şahin and Erol Katırcıoğlu were tried for violations of Article 288. I also had a record of having my name in the military’s memo (andıç). These things were normal in Turkey and Hrant was just one of "us."

    We forgot all about the fact that Hrant was Armenian. Yes, he was a passionate patriot who shed a tear for the land of Anatolia and was a Turkish citizen, just like us. But he was different; he was an Armenian.

    The difference arose from the tragedy that occurred in 1915, though we, as Muslim Turks, don’t know very much about it, it has existed in our identity genes; or from the "Big Disaster," as it was named by the old generation of Ottoman Armenians.

    I apologize to Hrant for not realizing the difference and not doing what was necessary then.

    I am not fond of signature campaigns, neither have I participated in them. They look to me very "French." You sign a petition; it is published in Le Monde. I mean you fulfill the duty in an easy way. Some in Turkey subscribe for it. Their names are heard in crowded signature campaigns only. My "individualism" is against taking strength from others.

    The "Intellectuals Petition" in the Sept. 12 period was prepared right before my nose and put into action. But I didn’t participate in it. As it was being prepared, we had reached the end of the Sept. 12 regime. I thought that such a petition would be meaningful only if it were published in the heat of the regime so I didn’t sign it.

    A message on my answering machine asked whether I would sign the following:

    "I cannot accept in my conscience the insensitivity toward the Big Disaster that the Ottoman Armenians were subject to in 1915 and the denial of it. I refuse such injustice and I do apologize to my Armenian brothers and sisters, share their pain." It took me just a few seconds to sign and send the petition.

    I could have objected to the way of the campaign's preparations. But I pushed these all aside. There cannot be any other objections, or rightful objections to the more, raised against the "Intellectuals Petition." This was not it. This was sort of a "citizens’ conscience movement." No one can have any objection to set out collecting signatures of public figures. But this is not an "intellectuals’ movement." This is a "citizens’ movement" and the content of the text is just a detail. This is a "scream of conscience." In fact while I was writing this piece and we were just in the first 24 hours of this year-long campaign, the number of signatures from inside and abroad reached 7,000. Let’s say that 100 or 200 of the signatures were of public figures, how could you explain the remaining tens of thousands?

    I am happy to be a part of the Turkish people’s conscience and one of the ten thousands to praise the honor of Turkey in the world.

    So I can reveal a secret here: as soon as I read the message asking whether or not I will sign the petition, I felt that Hrant was watching me from above.

    When I said "OK," I knew that Hrant heard my "apology..."Cengiz Çandar © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Ertugrul Ozkok: The Apology Campaign For Armenians Is A Joke
    At last I am relieved. Peter Gabriel, a singer I enjoyed very much during his "Genesis" days, but whose ethnic obsession I find it difficult to understand, has joined the campaign "to apologize to Armenians".

    He apologizes on behalf of us, "Turks", to the Armenians for the bad things that "we Turks" did to the Armenians.

    I was considering whether to join the campaign or not. I was relieved when I read the news about Gabriel.

    Since he apologizes to the Armenians on our behalf, Turks, then I apologize to the Indians, the Pakistanis and to the indigenous people of former colonies in the Far East on behalf of the "Brits".

    For the bad things that "those Brits" did to these people.

    The formula for the historic solution of the Armenian issue has been found. People from different countries apologize to the people of some other country for the bad things that another country did to them.

    In addition the country's parliaments have been taking over the authority of "rewriting history" or vice a versa for the bad things that one country did to some other nation.

    In that case, for us, as Turks there is no problem. As for the Armenians; we now have a chance to solve this problem via proxies.
    * * *
    Let's leave aside the amusing aspect of it. I consider this "apology campaign" started by some Turkish intellectuals as a huge joke.

    The text they had prepared is wonderful!

    Now I am waiting with some trepidation to see just how many Turks join the most romantic campaign in the history. A million people? Maybe two, three, five million?

    What if the number of people who sign does not reach the 47 percent that presents the national will?

    Think about it: "The national will definitely does not apologize..."

    We would be disgraced in eyes of Armenians.
    * * *
    Since Peter Gabriel has joined, I think we should place on the table all the issues that need apologizing for.

    For example, who is going to apologize for the Turkish diplomats murdered by the ASALA terror organization?

    We should find people from other countries since no Armenian, either from Armenia or the diaspora has come forward to do that.

    I propose an appeal to Mick Jagger. He will sign it for sure.

    We should knock on Germany’s door to get apologizes for the Turks and Kurds who were slaughtered by the Armenian gangs in 1915, but the Germans have another apology issue to deal with.

    What about the Turkish civilians who were killed in Thessaloniki during the Balkan Wars, despite the fact they had laid down their weapons.

    Who is going to apologize of their behalf?

    Do you think a Canadian might do it?

    Leonard Cohen, for example.

    No he won't - since he loves the Greeks and lived on a Greek island for years.

    Maybe it would be possible to find someone from Asia.

    Let me warn you: It is easy to find someone who would come down hard on Turks but it is not so easy to find someone who to apologize for the Turks that were slaughtered.
    * * *
    Still it is a good thing to have a few Turkish intellectuals who would apologize on behalf of Turks.

    In the future we will stand up in front of the whole world and say "Look, we have people who apologize. But there is not even one representative from them."

    I sincerely support this campaign only to say that.

    And I promise to give my full backing, as Peter Gabriel has done, to signature campaigns that are launched for the all bad things that the Brits and French have done.

    © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Lessons From The Annals Of Counterterrorism **
    Recent talks between the Turkish government and Massoud Barzani, representing the Kurdish Regional Government, or KRG, in northern Iraq are a positive development in many respects. These talks bridge the gap between two potential pro-western allies.

    Moreover, they offer an opportunity for Turkey to deal with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, terror threat emanating from northern Iraq. If Turkey and the KRG can devise a common strategy to tackle the PKK, a confidence would be constructed between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, creating a strategic partnership in a greatly necessary sphere. However, if this strategy fails, Turkish-KRG relations may become damaged beyond repair. The annals of counter-terrorism teach both sides lessons to avoid failure while successfully tackling the PKK.

    A lesson in pitfalls, namely the debilitating effect terrorism can have on continuing negotiations; can be learnt from the past. The Oslo process exemplifies this extremely detrimental effect. Palestinian suicide attacks in 2000 during the apogee of the Oslo talks between the Israelis and Palestinians shattered the Israelis’ faith in negotiations. In due course, the bilateral talks collapsed irrevocably. The PKK violence now, when the KRG is negotiating with Turkey on the PKK issue, would provide a similar drawback in negotiations. More so, such violence would cast the PKK as a tool of the KRG. It would also portray the PKK and the KRG as parties deceptively interested in peace, creating resistance in Turkey against further talks with the KRG on the PKK issue, or any issue for that matter. Last but not least, unabated PKK violence would likely force the Turkish government to take the matter in its own hands, responding to the PKK presence in northern Iraq with an iron fist.

    There is a great deal that the Iraqi Kurds and Barzani can do to inhibit such developments. Barzani holds influence over the PKK, as demonstrated by his ability to end the PKK violence when it rose in June 2007. Amid great concern that Turkey was to enter northern Iraq, the base of PKK operations, Barzani’s actions thwarted this potential escalation. Barzani holds the key today, as well. If he can prevent PKK violence, he will win Turkey’s friendship. If not, Turkey would view new PKK violence as Barzani’s doing, and Turkish-KRG relations would deteriorate beyond recognition.

    The second lesson from the annals of counter-terrorism can be drawn from French cooperation with Spain against Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or ETA, presence in their country. In the 1980s and the 1990s, Spain and France successfully dealt with the ETA presence in France as a segway to tackling the ETA in Spain. The PKK is Turkey’s problem and Turkey needs to implement military as well as non-military measures domestically against this organization. However, PKK bases in northern Iraq support the group’s attacks on Turkey across the border. Therefore, as it deals with the PKK problem at home, Turkey must neutralize the PKK threat from northern Iraq. Just as Spain defused the ETA in southern France as a precursor to the marginalization of the ETA in Spain, if Turkey can tackle the PKK in northern Iraq, it can hope to marginalize the PKK in Turkey.

    Until the 1980s, the ETA used bases in southern France to support attacks inside Spain. The French government was oblivious to the ETA’s presence in its territory and the ETA inflicted significant damage on Spain from France. After much Spanish insistence in 1980, Paris started to help Madrid combat the ETA, and between 1983-1987, Spanish Antiterrorist Liberation Groups, or GAL, became active in southern France against ETA’s members. Subsequently, ETA-caused casualties dropped significantly from 94 in 1980 to 18 in 1987. In 1992, France arrested the entire leadership of ETA in Bidart, France, causing the organization to become a marginal force and ETA-caused casualties dropped down to 2 in 2006.

    Turkey can marginalize the PKK in the same fashion. Taking a note from Franco-Spanish strategy, KRG-Turkish cooperation in denying the PKK refuge in Iraq would open the path for the PKK’s marginalization in Turkey. Of course, the PKK would not disappear; rather, the extent of its threat would diminish, as the power of the ETA did following the French crackdown on their presence in its territory. To counter the PKK effectively, Turkey must continue to carry out domestic measures, in order to diminish the strength of the PKK from every angle. One such angle, and a pivotal piece to this strategy, would be the building and strengthening of a relationship between the Turkey and the KRG. Between this strategic partnership and its use of lessons from the annals of counter-terrorism, the threat of the PKK can be marginalized. and that would be the best thing to happen in the Middle East in a long time.

    * Soner Çağaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, would like to thank Merve Demirel for her assistance with this article.

    ** Dec. 12 Soner Çağaptay, Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Number Of Youtube Visitors Doubles After Turkish Pm's Remarks
    The number of visitors to YouTube from Turkey, increased two-fold after the country’s prime minister said he has been frequenting the video-sharing website, despite the ban implemented by courts for almost a year.

    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last month that he has been accessing YouTube, and confessed that he watched a video of the ceremony, in which veiled women became the members of the main opposition party, CHP, posted on the site

    YouTube jumped to the ninth place, up from the fourteenth, as the most visited website in Turkey after Erdogan remarks.

    At the time, Erdogan had urged reporters that they too should watch videos on the banned website.

    Two courts ordered ban on YouTube in response to videos that it deemed insulting to Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Under Turkish law, it is crime to insult Ataturk.

    Experts say there are many ways to access YouTube despite the ban; however they remind that all of these methods are illegal. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Turkey: Turkish Wars Of Genocides ,by Jaff Sassani www.opednews.com
    The Turks in Turkey call themselves gray wolves. Gray wolves live in packs of 8 to 35 members; they like to kill. Wolves can and do kill humans. The Turks in Turkey have killed millions of people in the name of Islamic teachings, or Islamic Jihads. Questions Are they related to the Gray wolves genetically? It needs research and scientist to figure it out. Why Turks calling themselves Gray wolves? Why they are proud of killing other human being? What is driving them to kill?

    We noted in our article "Turkey in the Middle of the Enemies", that the Turks moved in to the Middle East after the Arab Islamic army destroyed the Sassanid Empire. The absence of a strong Iranian army to protect the borders opened the border gates wide for millions of Turks to move in to the region.

    We will begin by giving some of the background of the wars in Mesopotamia, known today as the Middle East. We will explain the root of the Turkish genocidal wars. We will show the reason they have no friends in the region are because they have hurt every nation surrounding Turkey. Are they ever going to apologize for their wrong doings in the past and now?

    The Sassanids Empire (226-651 A.D), was the peak of the Iranian civilizations

    The Sassanids Empire (226-651 A.D) was busy establishing laws and human rights in the Iranian civilizations. They engaged in a long war with the Byzantine Empire. Both empires were made up of Aryan people, but the Sassanid Empire was controlled by the Zoroastrian religion while the Byzantine Empire was controlled by the Christian religion. There fight was really over territories. Kurdistan, Armenia and Georgia were the battle grounds for both Aryan Empires. The resources of both Empires were exhausted after the long war against each other. They had no idea that the Arabs were planning an attack so soon and with it they brought their new religion. The Arabs called Islam “light and wisdom” but Islamic opponents call it darkness. What ever you call it, the Islamic religion has over one billion followers today.

    The prophet Muhammad (c. 570-632 CE) Declaration of Islam

    The prophet Muhammad (c. 570-632 CE) at age 40 told his wife and one of his trusted friends that the angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him to read in the name of God. He started the preaching of Islam, the submission to God. His followers are called Muslims, meaning "those who submit to God's will". He lived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and his teachings were very passive and peaceful. His tribal relatives and neighbors and other tribes around Mecca fought him feverishly, but he did not fight back. One of the Arab leaders by the name of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (later he became the second Islamic Khalifa, King or President) joined him. Since then the direction of Islam has changed to war and violent preaching.

    The history of the Islamic religion is not very clear during the 23 years of the prophet Muhammad’s teaching. If one could truly analyze the life of Prophet Muhammad before Umar Ibn Al-Khattab joined Islam, you would find difference in the teachings and directions. It is possible that the Arab leaders forged the Islamic teachings and Islamic history so they could take over the Sassanid and Byzantine Empires. This is one explanation of why the fighting occurred in spite of Prophet Muhammed’s non-violent teachings.

    The Arab leaders and especially Umar Ibn Al-Khattab were very nationalistic before Islam. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab really hated the Sassanid Empire. This is why he killed millions of Iranian people. This Arab leader changed the Islamic thinking for sure. He is responsible for this teaching of violence. He stood against the interests of the Prophet Muhammad’s family. Did he intentionally change the Islamic teaching? Did he take over Islam during the Prophet Muhammad’s life or after him? Perhaps the Prophet was held powerless. No one knows for sure. One thing is clear: Islamic teachings went from passive and peaceful to active and violent as soon as he joined Islam.

    The Muslims say that "Islam is a religion of peace" but after they migrated to Medina Saudi Arabia, they changed from passive to violent.

    Jihad: Islamic Holy War started year 622 CE

    The Legacy of Jihad and the Fate of Non-Muslims is known today. It started in Medina Saudi Arabia and continue world wide now.

    The first forms of military Jihad occurred after the migration (hijra)) of Muhammad and his small group of followers to Medina from Mecca and the conversion of several inhabitants of the city to Islam. The first revelation concerning the struggle against the Meccans was surah 22, verses 39-40: This first Jihad occurred after the migration (hijra) in the year 622 CE.

    The Arab nationalistic armies, under the name of Islamic teaching, called for "Jihad" and started by attacking the Meccan merchant caravans passing by Medina. They killed the merchants and took their belongings. The army divided the confiscated materials amongst themselves and the war became an income for the Islamic warriors. They started attacking more and more non-believers, especially the Jewish people, first in Medina and then later in the rest of the region.

    They began going further with their Jihad. The Islamic warriors tried to kill the entire Jewish male population in the area, forcefully married the females, and then converted them and their children into Islam. This tradition became part of the Islamic "Jihad" beliefs.

    Islamic "Jihad" or holy war (622-651 CE)

    The Arab Islamic army originally used "Jihad" to conquer both the Sassanid Empire and the Byzantine Empire. In less than 30 years they took over the Sassanid Empire and drove the Iranian civilization into the ground. They took part of the Byzantine Empire. They occupied today’s Iraq, Syria and Egypt. They collected a lot of wealth, killed millions of males and took millions of females, marrying them by force.

    The Kurdish leader Salahuddin Ayyubi (1174–1193) and Crusaders
    After the Arab power diminished, the Kurds briefly took over the "Jihad". They worked with the Arabs during the Crusades under the leadership of the Salah al-Din (Saladin) Ayyubi. This Kurdish leader was very nice to the Crusaders. He did not like killing and distractions. He came from the Aryan (Iranian) culture of civilizations. He was different from the Arabs and Turks and did not share their mentality of killing and destructions.

    The Seljuks Turk Empire (1137-1153) Turko-Persian traditionalist and the Crusaders .

    Having received the permission of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznawi (the Ruler of Eastern Iran, Iran was divided into many states then), the Seljuk Turks crossed the Oxus River and settled in northern Khorasan, a province which they subsequently occupied completely during the reign of Mahmud's son, Sultan Masud. In 1038 Toghril Beg was crowned as the Seljuk sultan in Neishabur.

    They reached Baghdad and took Iraq and part of Syria. They fought the Crusaders too. After the death of Mali k - Shah, differences arose among his descendants and the Seljuk Empire entered a path that led towards its own disintegration.

    They disintegrated into many smaller principalities and later the Mongols came into the region and it was further divided into many small states. They fought each other and fought the Byzantine Empire too.

    The Ottoman Empire (1299-1922) and Turkish "Jihads" against the Crusaders

    The Ottomans arose from the obscure reaches of Anatolia in the west of Turkey; these Western Turks were called the Oghuz. They had come primarily as settlers during the reign of the Seljuks in Turkey (1098-1308). The Anatolian frontier was largely hostile to Islam. Some of them were warriors of the Islamic faith carrying out jihad, or "holy struggle," to spread the faith among hostile unbelievers. It was a tough life in Anatolia; the Seljuks had been the first to maintain power over the area.

    By 1300, about the time the Seljuk state was crumbling apart, the Ottomans ruled a small military state in western Anatolia. This small state was in conflict with several other small Muslim states, each preying on the other for territory. By 1400, however, the Ottomans had managed to extend their influence over much of Anatolia and even into the Byzantine territory in Eastern Europe: Macedonia and Bulgaria. In 1402, the Ottomans moved their capital to Edirne in Europe where they threatened the last great bastion of the Byzantine Empire, its capital, Constantinople. The city seemed to defy the great expansion of Islam. No matter how much territory fell to the Muslims, Constantinople resisted every siege and every invasion. The Ottomans, however, wanted to break this cycle. Not only would the seizure of Constantinople represent a powerful symbol of Ottoman power, but it would make the Ottomans master of east-west trade. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed (1451-1481), who was called "The Conqueror," finally took this one last remnant of Byzantium and renamed it, Istanbul. From that point onwards, the capital of the Ottoman Europe would remain fixed in Istanbul and, under the patronage of the Ottoman sultans, become one of the wealthiest and most cultured cities of the early modern world.

    The Turkish wars of genocides are aimed at eliminating the Anatolian population. It has never stopped for one moment. The Turks are guilty along with the Arabs for the elimination of other nations in the region.

    The "Jihads" won't stop unless the people of the world get together to stop this unjust practice. There must be a push to reform Islam. The people in the Islamic world should be allowed to study Islam and be free to say what is wrong and what is right with it. The Arab nationalists changed the teachings from passive to violent. The Turks were violent communities in the first place. They are the product of Mongols. They became Muslim and added more violence to their behaviors. This is why they have killed millions of people in the region.

    Jaff Sassani
    from the SKDC
    December 3, 2008


    Mac McKinney
    Instant History Short on Nutrition

    Trying to squeeze hundreds of years of complex history into several pages and then having it come out just right to support one's manifesto is a little ragged, wouldn't you say? For example you are glossing over the fact that for centuries the Jews propsered rather successfully under Islamic power, despite restrictions, some Jews rising to key positions, instead leaving the impression that Islam is intolerant of Judaism. It is not.

    Nor is the modern Iranian nation interested in warmongering, to dispute some of your other statements, or Turkey for that matter, unless you are describing the ongoing violence between the Kurds in Iraq and Turkish and Iranian border forces as invasions. But Kurdish territory in Iraq is being used as a guerilla refuge and often a launching pad for strikes into Turkey and Iran by Kurdish paramilitaries. That is common knowledge. So Turkish or Iranian strikes into Iraq thus far are framed as justified defense or hot pursuit, although one should ask, would the Turks, particularly, like to see Iraqi Kurdistan destroyed if they thought they could get away with it? Probably, because without a doubt, many Turks are prejudiced against the Kurds and consider them a threat to Turkey's sovereignty.

    Moreover, there are only a relative handful of extreme "jihadists" who want to conquer the world for Islam like some character out of the movie El Cid, but they are under surveillance, usually, by their own governments, certainly not running any governments, occasionally being used as scapegoats or useful idiots. Islamic governments today are more worried about being attacked or invaded by America and NATO than the other way around.

    You need to give a little history about Christian "jihads" while you're at it. Those are ongoing right now.

    by Mac McKinney on Monday, December 15, 2008


    I am curious where you obtained the information that there are but a handful of Islamic jihadists in the world today, since most evidence points to the fact Saudi Arabia has financed a vast network of madrassas graduating students schooled in violent jihadist belief systems for a couple of decades now. I do not deny your conclusion that a similarly virulent form of Christianity has arisen within England and the United States, but to hold Islam harmless seems a bit naive. The Muslim Brotherhood goes all the way back to the assassination of Sadat in Egypt, and the movement has only grown with increasing rapidity ever since.

    There are men and women of good will on both sides that are trying to rein in the extremists of their religion. This author would seem to be in a position to know more about the issue than you, and would also seem to be one of those men of good will. Why criticize him? Are you Kurdish or Turkish or have you spent considerable time in the Middle East? What is the most recent book you have read on the subject of Islam and jihad in the twenty-first century?

    by W.M.L.

    Mac McKinney
    Even the Wahabis Have been Demonized

    Some of the Moslem sects are more extreme than others, such as the Wahabis, but they are puritanical, teaching disdain for other religions or even less fudamentalist brands of Islam. That does not translate into protocols to conquer the world. That is Western projection. Even in Saudi Arabia, where they are more numerous than elsewhere, Wahabis are under strong government control, and the Saudi government endlessly reassures the West that it is reforming their education system. Let us not forget that the West has been invading Moslem territories for centuries, including right now, and put "jihad" in the context that jihadists, including bin Laden, see it as, as defense of Islam, rather than some Hitlerian desire to take over the world for Allah. That is really Western propaganda meant to terrify gullible Americans into believing demonic foreigners are coming to chop off their heads and put their wives in harems.

    I have studied the Middle East quite a lot, my Master's Project being about the Crusades, so I am certainly qualified to criticize this article.

    by Mac McKinney

    Jaff Sassani

    We are trying to inform the western and the world people to help stop the Kurdish genocides and wars. The Turks are very clever in their war against the defenseless Kurds. They are using small percentage of the Kurdish people money that they take from Kurdistan to pay God less lobbies to cover their crimes for them.

    They are very successful of portraying the Kurdish people in Turkey as PKK terrorist. Why they are not negotiating with the Layla Zana family or other peaceful Kurdish leaders to solve the Kurdish problems.

    They know how to kill millions of people and get away with it. We are talking about that history. We are talking about their use of “Jihads”, cold war and now the oil of Turkic world until they finish with Kurdish people.

    We are calling on the peace loving people in the world to help, to stop the Kurdish genocides in Turkey.

    They are repeating the similar crimes now. Please ask Turkey what happened to the original inhabitant of the Mesopotamia and the Armenian people’s disappearance recently, where they are? They are all gone in the Turkish wars of the Genocides, and now the continuation of Aryan or Iranian Kurdish people’s Genocides wars.

    Mac McKinney
    Yes, Turks Need some Accounting

    Although I think you are being too rhetorical, the state of Turkey has never come clean about past atrocities dating back to the Ottomans, and certainly their treatment of the Kurds over recent decades has often been awful. The Kurdish people have suffered greatly.

    by Mac McKinney (48 articles, 82 quicklinks, 186 diaries, 1153 comments) on Monday, December 15, 2008 Copyright © OpEdNews, 2002-2008

    Every Third Person Is Virus Carrier A1+ 15 December, 2008
    Everyone down with tuberculosis annually contaminates 10-15 people. Numerous people suffer from tuberculosis in Armenia today but they avoid undergoing a course of treatment and simply suffice with in-home treatment.

    Hundreds of people have died of tuberculosis over the last years. The number of virus carriers in Armenia was 6445 (167 deaths) in 2005, 5673 (153 deaths) in 2006 and 3867 (175 deaths) in 2007.

    "Pharmacists are forbidden to give instructions or prescribe medicine to carriers of the TB bacteria as it can have dramatic circumstances" Spokesman for the RoA Ministry of Healthcare Ruslanna Gevorgyan said during a December 13-14 seminar in Tsakhkadzor.

    "After using medicine for a month or two a patient thinks he is getting better. In fact, they need long-lasting and serious treatment.

    The Ministry of Healthcare, the Armenian Office for the fight against tuberculosis and "Healthy and Harmonious Family" NGO organised a seminar for journalists on December 13-14 to raise public awareness of TB.

    Over one third of the world population is virus-positive persons. The illness shows up when the person's immune system is upset. People mostly get infected through droplets. That's why virus carrier are usually isolated and given free in-patient treatment in Armenia.

    The fight against TB is realised within the framework of DOTS policy which aims to detect and treat tuberculosis carriers. This is not an easy task. In Armenia tuberculosis is mostly spread in the army and prisons.

    Infected servicemen are immediately discharged from military service, and prisoners undergo treatment in a special hospital in Yerevan.

    All organisations fighting against tuberculosis unanimously noted that the best way to resist the illness is to go to a doctor in time. The more patients are isolated and treated, the healthier the society will be.

    Turkish Website Ozur Diliyoruz Removes The 13.315 Names Signatories Of The Petition Apologizing To Armenians
    De Facto Dec 19, 2008

    YEREVAN, 19.12.08. DE FACTO. Yesterday, on December 18, after a 3 hours interruption, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., website özur diliyoruz, which diffuses the petition of the intellectuals Turks be sorry " to the Armenians for the Great Catastrophe of 1915", erased the 73 pages, on which were registered 13 315 signatories names brought together in 3 days, an independent French journalist Jean Eckian told DE FACTO.

    According to Eckian, one cannot prevent oneself from thinking that the initiative is to be brought closer to the declaration of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared yesterday "I do not accept nor supports this campaign. We did not commit a crime; therefore we do not need to present excuses". It thus seems, for this hour, that the censure fell once more on the freedom expression in Turkey, unless the authors of the petition considered it necessary to protect the identity from the thousands of people come to give their support for the declaration. Probable or not, the Turkish authorities already had to raise them. Always it is that it is not possible any more maintaining to join the 250 original signatories. The petition is blocked on number 13.315.

    For answer to the petition of the intellectuals, Turkish nationalists also launched a similar website "www.ozurdi liyorum.com" with the following sentence: "there was no genocide was to defend the nation, we will no excuses." And in Germany, Union of European Turkish Democrats denounced the "campaign initiated by a group of so-called intellectuals".

    In addition, Azeri Press Agency, reports that, according to Turkish information, "Member of MHP, parliamentarian, Janan Aritman, dropped has hint that the president's mother was Armenian. "We see that the president supports this campaign. Abdullah Gul should be the president of the whole Turkish nation, not off his ethnic origin. Investigate the ethnic origin off the president's mother, and you will see," he said, adding "the organizers of this petition are traitors".

    In Eckian's words, summon claim in Turkey that Abdullah Gul's mother was born to year Armenian-origin family from Kayseri and father was year Arab moved to Kayseri.

    Columnists Join Armenian Apology Debate, Turkish Daily News December 18, 2008
    The debate over the campaign launched by a range of professionals and intellectuals to apologize for the Ottoman killings of Armenians has spread to the columns of the country's dailies. Meanwhile, a counter online signature campaign has emerged, by a group calling themselves "The Real Turkish Intellectuals."

    Turkish columnists widely criticized the apology campaign. Erdal Safak from daily Sabah argued the campaign would do more harm than good because it "would be evaluated as a confession of genocide," and "would harm the proposal to establish a history commission to investigate the 1915 events."

    Ertugrul Ozkok from daily Hurriyet said he considered the campaign a joke, asking who would apologize for the Turkish diplomats murdered by the ASALA terror organization, or the Turks and Kurds who were slaughtered by Armenian gangs in 1915.

    Nuray Mert from daily Radikal argued the campaign aimed at "scraping the Turkish intellectuals from their historical shame and to make them feel good and civilized." She also questioned the apology part of the statement asking, "On whose behalf and to whom should I apologize?"

    "I am really disturbed by the act of apologizing to a nation in the name of national or ethical belonging. This is no different than bragging about ones nationality. Therefore, I would like to sign the text without the apology part," she wrote.

    The new Web site "ozurdilemiyoruz.com" (we do not apologize) opened by a group calling themselves "The Real Turkish Intellectuals," posted a statement saying "we do not have any apology for anybody. We only have a call to account from those who murdered our ancestors and brothers." More than 2,000 people have signed the statement so far.

    Democracy At Internet Speed Ersu Ablak Turkish Daily News December 18, 2008
    The Internet has revolutionized everything not because it connected computers together, but people. Therefore I believe the Internet is not virtual but very real. The fact that people are interacting with it and are affected by it makes me believe in the importance of the Internet as a medium of opinion forming. The interest of youth in the Internet makes this medium even more important as the youth of today are increasingly forming their opinions with the information that receive mostly from the net just like anyone else. People are feeding each other with all types of information about almost everything via Web sites, RSS feeds, podcasting, forums, applications, games, etc However, not all information you can reach through the Internet is true and many streams of information could be considered as junk or appalling. But like it or not, information spreads very quickly via the Internet and reaches a very diversified group of innumerous people. Therefore it is essential to use the Internet as a means of communicating opinions with a global reach by people who have meaningful things to say. Without the contribution of people who have considerable knowledge in any subject, the Internet can be used for misinformation very easily and public opinion can be formed with unrealistic pieces of information.

    I have come across two important campaigns lately and I believe these are very important in mediating opinions. Turkish intellectuals have been neglecting the Internet for many years, but with the "We Apologize" campaign at http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com, they show they have caught up with it. Two thousand people have signed to apologize to Armenians for the events of 1915. For the purposes of this column their political stance has no importance. I myself do not share many of their ideas. But what is important is that the debate has been moved to the realm of the Internet with a significant intellectual substance rather than fighting and cursing over the subject in various forums. I am sure that this move will create more meaningful discussion than what has been going on. Sixty ex-ambassadors have written a declaration condemning the aim of the campaign. The declaration itself has solid information that the public wouldnt come across if the "We Apologize" campaign did not spark the discussion in a more intellectual manner via a powerful medium such as the Internet. I am very happy to see that the Internet has enabled quality discussions in one of the taboo subjects of Turkish politics. I hope that Turkish intellectuals will use this tool to lead discussions in other points as well.

    The other Internet-based campaign is www.kovulduk.biz. It was started by university students affected by the changes in the new Social Security Law that was accepted by Parliament on Sept. 1. The law has made it impossible for students to take part-time jobs and universities to hire part-time workers. In order to protest this change in the law and to communicate their point across Turkey, students chose to build a Web site and create a Facebook group. The Group had 1,107 members as this article was being written. The Web site claims there are more than 20,000 part-time working students in Turkey.

    Their aim is to unite them together to press for a change in the current legislation. This campaign shows that you dont need money or expensive lobbyists to create pressure on political circles because the Internet enables you with a low-cost, easy-to-use environment and media power with zero costs for distribution. Two years ago in a discussion, Peter Leyden of New Politics Institute and the former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, said broadband technologies would increase openness and the quality of democracy in every nation

    "Therefore, broadband will not only be a revolution in communication but also in democratization, especially for the United States," he said

    I see that Turkey is not missing this revolution either

    An Apology...
    No... No... I am not joining the campaign of a group of intellectuals who have taken a "collective individual decision" to apologize to the Armenians for the 1915-1917 events in which immense tragedies were lived not only by Armenians but by all ethnic groups of Anatolia. I am not going to engage in a campaign of denial either, with claims that Armenians were killed but so were others and turn a blind soul to the massive human tragedies of that period.

    And, yes, I am for a detailed investigation by historians of what indeed happened during those years; to what extent the Unity and Progress Party government of the dissolving Ottoman Empire or the French, the Russians, the Germans, the British and Americans were responsible in the calamity lived in Anatolia during those years and of course, firmly believe that whichever state had any degree of responsibility in the catastrophe must come up with an appropriate apology. Naturally, as it is the duty of any state to safeguard the safety and well-being of its population and as the Ottoman government of the time grossly failed in that, if there is anyone still alive from the government of that time, they must come up with an apology to the Armenians, Kurds, Arabs and of course to the Turks. And, yes, the Turkish state must come up with an apology to the Turkish nation and accept that it was a gross mistake to hide not only the 1915-17 events from the Turkish public but most other details of the dissolution period of the Ottoman Empire just for the sake of cutting the new republic from the Ottoman imperial past.

    Back in December 2001, talking at a conference in the Armenian capital Yerevan, I had tried to explain the deep sorrow I felt over what was lived in Anatolia during those years, but stressed that if there was a "communal" crime that required a "communal apology" there was absolutely a need for a mutual apology as Armenians were at least equally responsible of what was lived... But to what purpose an apology by an individual - who played no role in the calamity lived and who because of the state thrown veil on the issue learned some of what might have happened during those years in Anatolia only in the early 1970s, after the notorious Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, ASALA, terrorist gang started a global terrorist campaign against Turkish diplomats - would serve?

    Thus, my objection to the "collective" but "individual" statement of a group of intellectuals - who were accused of being "traitors" in a counter collective statement by a group of retired ambassadors - was not to the entirety of the statement, but rather to the "apology" section that I found meaningless and indeed derogatory for an individual who has not played in any role in what was lived anyhow.

    We are a synthesis of common past
    But, still, I would like to make an apology... An apology to President Abdullah Gül... As a social democrat who opposes fascist, neo-Nazi, racist and discriminatory attitudes of any sort, I must underline that the allegations made by a social democratic parliamentarian lady that the president did not condemn the "apology" petition of a group of intellectuals was because he did not act as the president of the nation but rather, allowed his ethnic background to shape his attitudes... Later, the same lady even went a step further and charged that the grandmother of Gül was an Armenian and thus implied that because of his grandmother’s ethnic background the president was sympathetic to the initiative of the intellectuals...

    Correct or incorrect, the ethnic background of the grandmother of the President should be of no concern for the lady parliamentarian or anyone else. In a place like Anatolia, which has been the cradle of civilizations throughout history, is it possible for anyone - if he claims he is a Turk, a Kurd, an Arab or an Armenian, Caucasian or whatever - to prove his ethnic background? We are all a little bit of everything, but culturally we feel we belong to one of those ethnocultural groups. Thus, what we say, we are... If one feels he is a Turk, he is a Turk, or if he feels he is a Kurd or Armenian, so he is... Our cultural accumulation is our richness, and mind you, in all of us there is little bit of all ethnic cultures that existed in Anatolia over the centuries.

    To make racist and discriminatory comments about the ethnic backgrounds of individuals - irrespective of who they are and what posts they occupy in state administration - is nothing less than engaging in a very dangerous fascism campaign. Thus, I apologize to President Gül not because I was engaged in such a fascist attitude, but rather because in this age, despite all the past tragedies we lived, there are still examples of such a fascist mentality in this land...

    Yusuf Kanlı © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Gül Is Out Of Excuses On Erdogan To Armenia (Reuters) 20 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
    ANKARA - Turkish President Abdullah Gül himself of his prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, who has denounced the initiative taken by intellectuals Turkish Armenians to ask forgiveness for the massacres committed by the Ottomans during the First World War. About 200 intellectual personalities of the world, including writers and academics, broadcast Monday on the Internet a petition imploring forgiveness for what Armenia and several other countries as the genocide of 1915.

    The initiative has attracted the wrath of Turkish nationalists who see it as a betrayal and a falsification of history. In the past, several personalities, including Nobel Prize for literature Orhan Pamuk, was prosecuted for having spoken about genocide massacres of 1915. Erdogan said Wednesday that the campaign had no other purpose than to "provoke unrest and disturb the peace" in Turkey.

    "The opinion of the president is the fact that the issue be discussed freely in public and academic circles is evidence of the presence of a democratic discussion in Turkey," retorted the presidency Thursday in a statement.

    Gul, who was Foreign Minister Erdogan before being elected president with his support in July 2007, visited Armenia in September at a football match, inaugurating an era of historic rapprochement between the two countries.

    "In conscience, I can not accept the indifference or denial displayed the face of disaster that befell the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915," says the petition open for signature by all Turks.

    "I reject this injustice and, for my part, I share the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I ask forgiveness," added the text.

    The nationalist MHP opposition condemned it, arguing that Turkey has "no crime to be forgiven." "Nobody has the right to seek forgiveness by distorting history and our ancestors messy presented as criminals."

    "We n'attaquons person. This is a request for forgiveness which is a result of individual conscience. We want to tell our brothers and our sisters Armenian we ask forgiveness for not being able to talk about that for nearly a century, "said Reuters Cengiz Aktar, a professor at the University of Bahçeşehir Istanbul and one of the initiators of the petition.

    Turkey acknowledges that massacres took place in 1915 but put them in the context of the first global conflict and atrocities committed at the time the two sides.

    Should We Punish The Denial Of The Armenian Genocide? 20 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews , Jules Boyadjian - Garip Turunc

    YES: Jules Boyadjian

    Free historians yoke of antinégationnisme Leave history to historians. Beyond this credo to corporatist accents, are an inviolable principle of our Republic which limited the freedom to respect the dignity of others. Under this principle were punished defamation, xenophobia and antisemitism. In the 90s, the French authorities have understood the need to condemn the denial of genocide proved. Why talk about progress Republican? Because the insidious doctrine to deny the genocide can not use the screen of a "historic honest." Rather, it is a political will to crush a people psychologically by enclosing in its trauma. The denial, face the ultimate genocide, is the community that insult and racism are to the individual. It must therefore be penalized. Recent events have proved. Steles desecrated, smelly events, nothing is spared to defenders of the truth of 1915 and the 2001 law recognizing the Armenian genocide did not stem the phenomenon. Worse, it has intensified. That is why it is necessary to condemn the criminal deniers. To those who still doubt, I convey the words of the late Pierre Vidal-Naquet: "Of course it can be argued that everyone has the right to lie and false and that individual freedom includes the right under French liberal tradition, at the accused for his defense. But the law that can claim the forger should not be tolerated in the name of freedom. "Adds else?

    NO: Garip Turunc

    Originally from Turkey, I feel the full weight inhumane catastrophe experienced by the Ottoman Armenians at the end of the Empire. Their pain is mine. Any justification would be futile. Yet, I am concerned since the Parliament after 2001 adopted a law recognizing genocide of a foreign country, voted in October 2006 at the initiative of the Socialist Group, a second law requiring that public protest that genocide is "punished the same penalties as the denial of the Holocaust." This kind of laws can lead to tie the work of historians and reduce the prospect of Turks and Armenians normalize their relations and heal the wounds of the past. The Turkish journalist of Armenian origin Hrant Dink, fair and courageous man, was murdered early 2007 when collective amnesia began to melt and history to be written. Continue this work of memory is a condition for reconciliation. In a Free State, it is neither the Parliament nor the judiciary to define the historical truth. The Armenian issue is complex. While nobody denies the barbarity of 1915, the consensus is not reached on the exact responsibilities. The most reasonable is to begin to confront the memories. The intellectual totalitarianism to pillory as "Holocaust denier" or "revisionist" anyone resembling a period of history so as not consistent with that issued by pressure groups, which have as their legitimacy supposed electoral weight, must stop.

    (Collected by CL)

    Turkish “Bpology To Armenians” Aims To Improve Relations by Emil Sanamyan
    Washington, - "My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathize with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers and sisters. I apologize to them."

    This is the English-language translation of a statement initiated by about 200 Turkish intellectuals at a web site called, "We Apologize" (http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/), on December 15. More than 13,000 Turks had signed on to the statement within the first few days of its launch.

    The Armenian Reporter asked some of the U.S.-based signers, most of them university students from Turkey, about the meaning of the statement and what they hoped it might accomplish.

    "I strongly believe that Turkish and Armenian people should start understanding each other," Sanem Soyarslan, 32, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Duke University, wrote in an e-mail. And this "cannot start unless Turkish people ‘recognize' the pain and suffering of Armenian people."

    "For me, it is a matter of personal conscience," Ms. Soyarslan explained. "I am sorry for the terrible things that Armenian people suffered in 1915. And I want to express that."

    "I believe that Turks and Armenians can be good friends by developing mutual understanding towards each other, I mean each others' pains and sorrows," agreed another signer, Kivanc Ozcan, 25.

    A graduate student at George Washington University's Middle East studies program, Mr. Ozcan added, "This petition shows that there are different opinions in Turkey towards the Armenian issue. This petition marks the rejection of state stance towards the issue."

    The signatories were asked to provide their full name, occupation, and location. Most of the signers identified themselves as students or professionals - educators, journalists, lawyers, doctors, scientists, engineers, economists and business people who use the Internet on a daily or even hourly basis. But signers also include workers, farmers, taxi drivers, and at least one New Jersey gas station attendant.

    The vast majority of the signers were in Istanbul and other large cities of Turkey. Turks living in Germany and other European countries also make up a substantial portion.

    Some of the more prominent figures among the signers include journalists Ali Bayramoglu, Oral Çalislar, Ece Temelkuran, Mine G. Kirikkanat, and Cengiz Candar, writers Perihan Magden and Tuna Kiremitci, academics Murat Belge and Baskin Oran, singer Yavuz Bingöl, and leader of Germany's influential Greens Party Cem Ozdemir.

    Symbolically, among the signers is journalist Hasan Cemal, a grandson of Jemal Pasha, one of the Ottoman leaders in the years of the Genocide, who was subsequently assassinated by Armenians.

    Denouncements and criticisms

    The statement has been criticized both by Turkish nationalists and by those saying it does not go far enough in recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

    President Abdullah Gül refrained from criticizing the statement, calling it an example of "democratic discussion." But more influential Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan called the statement "irrational" and "wrong," and said that he "personally does not accept, support or participate in this campaign."

    "I have not committed a crime. Why should I apologize?" Mr. Erdogan wondered when asked about the statement on December 17, EuroNews TV reported.

    A group of 60 retired Turkish diplomats, some of them now parliament members from the nationalist opposition Republican People's Party, issued a statement calling the statement "unfair, wrong and unfavorable to national interests," according to The Associated Press.

    Leaders of the National Action Party, a quasi-fascist opposition group represented in parliament, called the initiative an "insult to the Turkish nation."

    At the same time, civil rights activist Aytekin Yildiz told Zaman newspaper on December 5 that while the statement was "a good starting point, but not enough."

    "Firstly, what do they mean by ["Great Catastrophe"]? Let's name it, it is genocide. Secondly, the state has to apologize," said Mr. Yildiz.

    The term "Great Catastrophe" is a translation of the Armenian language name for the Armenian Genocide, "Metz Yeghern."

    Previously, President George W. Bush and the late Pope John Paul II, in apparent efforts not to stir the aggravation of the Turkish government by using the term genocide, referred to "Metz Yeghern" either in Armenian or English translation in their statements.
    Armenian reaction

    Most commentators in Armenia and the diaspora praised the statement.

    "Such statements were inconceivable several years ago," Alexander Iskandarian of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute told PanArmenian.net. The very fact of this statement shows the newly acquired level of independence that Turkish society has from its government, he noted.

    Ruben Safrastian, who heads the Middle East studies department at the National Academy of Sciences, told PanArmenian.net, "the campaign reflected the Turkish public's desire to confess, clear, and dissociate itself from the sad heritage of the Ottoman Empire.

    "Although it will be a hard process," Mr. Safrastian said, "Turkey needs acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide to move forward."

    "This statement serves the useful purpose of educating the Turkish public that has been kept in the dark so long about the Armenian Genocide," California Courier publisher Harut Sassounian wrote in his syndicated column.

    "Rather than an Armenian-Turkish historical commission [proposed by Mr. Erdogan], what is needed is a purely Turkish commission that would provide a forum for Turks to discuss and discover the mass crimes of their forefathers," Mr. Sassounian stressed.

    In another unprecedented move on December 9, a group of 300 Armenian intellectuals had written to President Gül, urging him to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide.

    Turkish debate

    The statement came after and was prompted in part by comments made on November 10 by a senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül.

    Speaking on the anniversary of the death of Turkish republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, at the Turkish Embassy in Brussels, Mr. Gönül referred approvingly to the genocidal treatment of the indigenous Armenian and Greek populations in Turkey's present-day territory.

    "If there were Greeks in the Aegean and Armenians in most places in Turkey today, would it be the same nation-state? I don't know what words I can use to explain the importance of the population exchange, but if you look at the former state of affairs, its importance will become very clear," Mr. Gönül was quoted as saying by the Zaman newspaper.

    With the international campaign to affirm the Armenian Genocide gaining traction around the world, the issue has increasingly emerged as a subject of public discourse in Turkey.

    The January 2007 assassination of Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink brought more than 100,000 mourners into Istanbul streets under slogans "We are all Hrant!" and "We are all Armenians!"

    "The day Hrant was killed was a very dark day for me and for many people in Turkey," recalled Ms. Soyarslan, one of the statement signers. "That darkness is in such stark contrast to the light that Hrant was willing to bring in." f

    The statement has in a way become a tribute to "that beautiful man who devoted his life to [building] the foundation of a dialogue and understanding between the two peoples," she added. "This petition shows that we believe in the bright days that Hrant believed in."

    [Lou Ann Matossian contributed to this article from Minneapolis.]

    (c) 2008 Armenian Reporter

    Armenia Has Yet To Prove Itself In Democracy By Washington 16 December 2008 by Gari / armenews
    The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has again refused to release some of the promised economic aid to Armenia, citing the fact that the authorities in Yerevan have not met all expectations regarding the status of the Democratic governance in the country. Armenia should receive 236.5 million dollars in additional aid under this program in place by the Bush administration to promote political and economic reforms in the world. The bulk of this aid was used to finance reconstruction and extension of irrigation network of Armenia. Some 67 million were also provided for the reconstruction of some 1 000 km of rural roads. Last May, the MCC had blocked the first installment of $ 7.5 million of this plan over five years for the construction of roads, by expressing its serious concerns about repression by the Armenian authorities on the opposition.

    The leaders of MCC and other U.S. officials have since reiterated these concerns. The Armenian government has therefore been forced in July to tap $ 17 million in capital to undertake the construction of roads, which began in late summer. The Armenian government expresses the hope that the MCC will release the sum of $ 7 million in first quarter 2009, but the leadership of the CMC has again shown strong in determining the payment of aid to the establishment of democratic reforms in Armenia. Armenia can not hope in any case before March 2009, when the MCC will meet to discuss the terms of its cooperation with that country. According to Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, who is also the co-chair of the Minsk Group of OSCE, Washington remains "seriously concerned" by the continued detention of dozens of opposition members arrested during the wave unrest that followed the presidential elections of February 19 in Armenia.

    Armenian Property In Turkey: The European Court Of Human Rights Decision Today ,16 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews

    Today the European Court of Human Rights will give its ruling against the two complaints filed by Armenian foundations directed against Turkey.

    The foundation of the church, school and St. Kevork Armenian cemetery in 2003 and the Hospital Foundation St Pirgiç in 2002 filed a complaint against the Turkish state for despoliation under Article 1 of the Convention European Human Rights on the protection of property rights and Article 14 prohibiting all discrimination.

    The Memorial To William Saroyan Opened In Yerevan 16 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
    2008 has been declared the Year of Saroyan. A series of events were held throughout the year culminating with the opening of the monument dedicated to William Saroyan at the crossroads of Mashtots Avenue and the street Moskovian in the presence of Armenian President Serge Sarkissian.

    The sculptor of the monument is Yerevantsi David, who has personally experienced William Saroyan. According to the Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan, the place was not chosen accidentally.

    "The monument Saroyan is standing next to some famous figures - Martiros Saryan, Aram Khachatryan, Komitas, Sayat-Nova, Yervand Kochar and Alexandre Tamanyan. Nobody is here accidentally. None of them has lived in this world in vain, as would Saroyan said. In this regard, having the statue of Saroyan here is extremely important. With his goodness it will open the day of each citizen of Yerevan. The gaze of Saroyan will be important for each person who pass in front of the monument, "said Hasmik Poghosyan.

    Roland Blum Is Taking Action Against Holocaust Denial 16 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews

    Roland Blum First Deputy Mayor of Marseille, MPP Bouches du Rhone, disapproves of the report submitted by Bernard Accoyer, Chairman of the National Assembly on 18 November 2008, the laws on so-called "memorial".

    The report argues that it is not the responsibility of Parliament to appreciate the historical facts and therefore calls into question the proposed law passed by the National Assembly on 12 October 2006, criminalizing denial of Armenian genocide. Recent statements Government in this regard, indicating that the bill would not be included in the agenda of the Senate have caused a great stir in the Armenian community in Marseilles, with 80 000 people.

    It is essential to reaffirm our duty to remember, as we have done in the past, recognizing the Armenian genocide of 1915.: Fight against all forms of Holocaust denial is a necessity for our Republic.

    Zaman, Omer Taspinar, The Coming Storm With Washington
    Last year, shortly after the US Congress decided at the last minute not to push forward with the Armenian genocide recognition I wrote in this column that this was a "pyrrhic victory" for Turkey. There was indeed no reason to celebrate.

    Of course, I had no idea that the next US president would be a firm supporter of recognizing the genocide. Instead, my gloomy article had much more to do with the fact no one in Washington -- except those with a vested financial or political interest to the Turkish government -- believed Turkey's side of the story. Whether "the events of 1915" amounted to "genocide" was not even debated in America.

    So why didn't the US Congress pass the resolution? Charles Krauthammer, a Washington columnist, summarized it best last year in his Washington Post column. With characteristic poignancy, he wrote: "There are three relevant questions concerning the Armenian genocide. (a) Did it happen? (b) Should the House of Representatives be expressing itself on this now? (c) Was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's determination to bring this to a vote, knowing that it risked provoking Turkey into withdrawing crucial assistance to American soldiers in Iraq, a conscious or unconscious attempt to sabotage the US war effort?"

    And here is how Krauthammer answered these questions: "(a) Yes, unequivocally. (b) No, unequivocally. (c) God only knows." He went on: "That between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians were brutally and systematically massacred starting in 1915 in a deliberate genocidal campaign is a matter of simple historical record. If you really want to deepen and broaden awareness of that historical record, you should support the establishment of the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial in Washington. But to pass a declarative resolution in the House of Representatives in the middle of a war in which we are inordinately dependent on Turkey would be the height of irresponsibility."

    Now do you understand why last year was a pyrrhic victory? The reason Ankara won the battle was because important newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times picked up the "genocide" story and humiliated the House of Representatives with columns and editorials such as the one written by Krauthammer. Yet, this was not a sight any believer in Turkey's version enjoyed. Yes, these articles opposed the Armenian resolution. But none of them believed Turkey's version of history about "the events of 1915."

    Turkey won an important battle but ended up losing the war. Just like Krauthammer's, most of these articles argued that what happened in 1915 was genocide. But Turkey was geo-strategically too important an ally to offend in the middle of mayhem in the Middle East. In other words, the opposition to the genocide resolution had nothing to do with the sudden discovery of new historical facts proving correct the Turkish version of history. The discussion was only about Turkey's geo-strategic importance and bad timing.

    This year we will probably witness the same charade with more intensity. President-elect Barack Obama, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and, of course, a large majority of Congress are all in favor of Armenian genocide recognition. The first critical test will be the US president's annual letter of April 24, which traditionally defines what happened to Ottoman Armenians as "massacres." Will this year's letter refer to "genocide"?

    This first and very critical test in Turkish-American relations comes within the early months of the Obama administration. There are only four months between the inauguration in late January and April 24. And Obama's presidential agenda will be overloaded with the global financial crisis and all the very crucial foreign policy issues, ranging from Iraq to Afghanistan and Iran to a possible India-Pakistan war. Relations with Turkey will not be an urgent issue.

    In such a busy agenda, it is also highly unlikely that the American media will pick up the story of a potential crisis with Turkey. This is why even a pyrrhic victory may not be in the cards this time. There is still a chance Obama will opt for realism in relations with Turkey. But this means he will have to break his campaign promises. Surely, this will not be a first for a politician. But what if Obama is really committed to "change"? Soon, perhaps too soon, we will know.

    15 December 2008,

    Turkish Threats On Alberto Rosselli The City Council of Genoa, Genoa, 16th December 2008

    that in 2007, the journalist and historian Alberto Rosselli, already author of several books on the Middle East, published the book "The Armenian Holocaust", a work dedicated to Armenia and the dramatic story of a people, before being bloody pogroms and in 1915-1916 misunderstood victim of the first genocide of the'900, happened at the hands of the government of Young Turks.

    That after the disclosure by the average volume, the author and his wife are threatened with death and insulted by phone and by e-mail at any time of day or night by fanatics, presumably, Turkish extremists;

    that this real persecution, in addition to disrupting the life and family of the writer, is an unacceptable affront to freedom of expression and press, solemnly enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in our Constitution and the principles of the European Union ;

    that similar threats have been directed to other European and Turkish journalists;

    to express great solidarity of the Municipality of Genoa and the City Council to Alberto Rosselli and with him to all journalists persecuted by fundamentalism, for denouncing crimes against humanity.

    Gianni Bernabò-Brea

    Translated from Italian by Ari Armen

    No Political Force In Armenia Questions The Genocide Naira Khachatryan, Azat Artsakh Daily 10 Dec 08 Republic of Nagorno Karabakh [NKR
    The Person in Charge of Armenian Cause and Political Issues of ARFD Bureau Kiro Manoyan was the guest of "Pastark" club yesterday.

    From the events dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Convention on the "Prevention and Punishment of Genocides" he separated the report made yesterday by the special working group formed by the US authorities, where they demand to be more active in preventing and punishing genocides.

    His said certain activeness is noticed in Turkey as well: "According to the available information the collection of signatures initiated by the Turkish intellectuals will become more active in January. The intellectuals express sorrow for what happened in 1915 (though instead of genocide they call it "great massacre") they apologize to Armenians. Anyway I don't question the sincerity of these people, though they seem to be a bit scared."

    The open letter of the Armenian intellectuals addressed to the Turkish President is another significant event: "They remind the Turkish President that they have no other alternative to the recognition of the Genocide. They must recognize the Genocide not only to have progress in Armenian-Turkish relations but also Turkey will finally release itself from the heavy load=2 0of the past. In my view this letter was also important because it was Armenia's initiative and expresses the opinion of our society."

    Kiro Manoyan says the world community has actually recognized the fact of the genocide. "The states, the public organizations formulating public opinion only enshrine the fact. For example not to allow the publication of articles denying the Genocide, or to include the Armenian Genocide in the textbooks.

    As regards the recognition of the Genocide by the states, in my view we have approached the refuge where the Turkish society finally recognizes its history. The main goal of the process of recognizing the Genocide is that Turkey itself must recognize it.

    Though Turkey is far from recognizing the fact of the Genocide, "Turkish society has already started to speak about recognizing their history, though Turkey continues to create obstacles to the free examination of their history. Lots of people are detained or even convicted only because their approach differs from that of the state."

    As regards the probability of the recognition of the Genocide by the USA: "It is based on the promises made by the President-elect Barack Obama, his commitments and, why not, his political appointments. He has already announced the name of the new US Ambassador to the UN who is the champion of condemning not only Armenian but also all the other genocides. Samantha Power is also in his surrounding, who is one of the active supporters of reconfirming the Armenian Genocide.

    Besides that Obama repeated in his promise when Turkey sent a delegation to warn Obama not to recognize the Genocide. So all the before mentioned gives grounds to think that Obama will use the word "Genocide" in his speech delivered on April 24."

    The United Kingdom Suspended Its Assistance Program To Armenia ,14 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
    Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has received Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Armenia Charles Lonsdale and the Head of Division Europe and Central Asia Department of English for International Development Pauline Hayes .

    The Prime Minister praised the cooperation with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and said that the programs carried out jointly were important for our country. These were aimed at improving the institutional system;, to public sector reforms, the expansion of budget estimates so.

    In 2006 Armenia had been included in the list of middle income countries can benefit from the aid policy of the United Kingdom but decided to suspend the program of assistance to Armenia in late 2008.

    Despite this decision Lonsdale Charles and Pauline Hayes noted that cooperation with Armenia did not stop. "We continue to closely monitor future progress of Armenia. In addition to our assistance in international organizations, the British Embassy in Armenia to help support his reforms implemented by the Armenian Government, as well as it will support the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region, including Nagorno Karabakh "They noted.

    Turkey, Armenia and President-elect Obama: what next?

    The logic of Turkey taking steps now is presumably to put off the use of the "g" word in the April 24 presidential declaration and to prevent the passage of Armenian resolutions in Congress. I would argue that it is better for Turkey to wait and see what Obama does after January 20.

    Bad timing in foreign policy decisions can make even the most attractive initiatives look hollow. This is indeed the case with the current chorus of calls for conciliatory steps and gestures towards Armenia. These calls have become more vocal in the wake of Obama’s election as U.S. President. The pundits defending this position argue that Turkey should take the initiative in order to dissuade the new American President from supporting Armenian genocide claims and do all it can especially before the critical date of April 24. The emphasis is on timing and on the need to act now. Unfortunately, however, this chorus of well-intentioned appeals is ill timed and as a result, misplaced as well.

    President-elect Obama, Vice President-elect Biden, the designated Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the leadership in both wings of the Congress have all in the past identified with the Armenian thesis. During the election campaign, Obama made explicit promises to the Armenian lobby in writing to recognize the claimed genocide. They and many others on Capitol Hill actually believe the Armenian version of events. There is therefore a greater risk (this time) than ever that both the White House and the Congress might this time accept the Armenian narrative, accusing the Turkish side of genocide.

    At the same time, the Armenian lobby will surely exert its maximum effort to seize this opportune moment in American history. The distribution of the political cards seems to favor their chances of realizing their long cherished goal of imposing their claims on the U.S. Government.

    The Armenian community is first to press for the "g" word in the traditional April 24 declaration by the U.S. President and than to take their case to the Congress. Knowing that the stakes are uniquely high this time, the Armenians will try to obtain the widest possible assurance for the acceptance of their views before making their moves. In other words, Turkey, the Turkish-American community and American friends of Turkey are going to face their toughest challenge yet in the upcoming Obama Presidency.

    In the light of this political backdrop in the United States, it is probably not wise for the Turkish Government to make any new gestures toward Armenia before April 24. First, the aim of any Turkish move would be too obvious and look like a political bribe. Second, it may add fuel to the Armenian claim that pressure on the Turks works. Third, it may not have the desired effect on the White House and/or the Congress after all. Finally, rather than focusing on the United States, any steps taken by the Turkish side in this connection should be part of a broader strategy to engage Armenia and the Armenians in a full-fledged dialogue with Turkey to resolve all the outstanding issues between them.

    The logic for Turkey taking steps now is presumably to put off the use of the "g" word in the April 24 Presidential declaration and to prevent the passage of Armenian resolutions in the Congress. However, I would argue that it is better for Turkey to wait and see what President-elect Obama does after he takes office and offer him the opportunity to take a constructive, balanced stance on this issue.

    As the Turkish proverb goes, "fear does not help change the destiny of death." The new President must balance his country’s national interest at stake in relations with Turkey against the expectations of the Armenian American community. He should then be encouraging dialogue and contact between the Turks and the Armenians at all levels and calling on the two sides to engage one another.

    If that proves to be the case, then Turkey should respond rapidly and take a series of steps, including the opening of the border, to help and encourage Armenia for full engagement with Turkey.

    The logic of this path is not mere prevention, but resolution of the issue. In terms of timing, therefore, it is wiser for the Turkish Government to wait until after April 24 before taking any measures with respect to Armenia.

    In this connection, the latest campaign by some Turkish citizens to apologize to the Armenians is misguided and inappropriate. These individuals certainly have the right to interpret historical events as they see fit and to express their interpretations freely. Of course, they would do well were they to share with the rest of us how they researched their subject matter in reaching their conclusions.

    However, the critical point here is whether they have the right to apologize even in a purely individual capacity. I think not. First, genocide, according to the 1948 U.N. Convention, is a crime committed by "persons." There is no ruling by an international tribunal that such and such committed genocide against the Armenians. There is on the other hand no credible evidence that the Turks perpetrated such crime. In the absence of any persons found guilty of the crime, who is apologizing for whom?

    Second, despite the U.N. Convention, the Armenians level the accusation of genocide against the Turkish nation en masse. Under the circumstances, no group of Turks, irrespective of their status in society, has the privilege of separating themselves from the others and arrogating the right to "apologize" over such an issue. As they also refer to the "great calamity" which in the Armenian lexicon is "genocide," their action implicates all the Turks, despite the protestations of individuality.

    Finally, if the apology reflects just humanitarian considerations, we should all join in. However, it must then be reciprocal. Whatever happened, both Muslims and Armenians suffered the consequences. Were Armenian intellectuals to start a similar campaign of apology to the Turks, it would help the two sides to engage in a more constructive dialogue.

    Without such reciprocity, a unilateral Turkish campaign would at best be superfluous, if not harmful to the future of Turkish-Armenian relations.

    The campaign’s timing is unfortunate as well. It could help the Armenian proponents to argue that it is time to proceed with the recognition of genocide allegations because even in Turkey, they would now be able to say, it is finding acceptance. President-elect Obama might feel less hesitant in allowing Armenian resolutions pass in the Congress.

    "Wait and see" option does not at all mean that we should just sit tight and do nothing as Obama takes office. Quite the contrary, the Turkish Government should continue to convey its views and its concerns to the new American administration through all possible channels. This is especially important before the new White House puts final touches on the course of action it will follow regarding Turkey and Turkey-related issues. We should also make clear to President-elect Obama and his team that Turkey fully intends to pursue the positive trend that emerged after President Gül’s historic visit to Erivan. The United States should nurture this constructive spirit currently prevailing in Turkish-Armenian relations. This would not only help give birth to possible new openings and progress between Turkey and Armenia, but also have a salutary effect on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

    Timing is crucial. President Gül’s visit triggered a positive trend and removed psychological barriers on both sides. If, however, the Turkish Government moves now before President-elect Obama signals his direction on the matter, progress in the Turkish-Armenian tract might be more difficult to achieve, if not altogether impossible. Hence, the basic message of the Turkish side at this stage to the new White House should be "encourage the continuation of dialogue and contacts between Turkey and Armenia; make America a part of Turkish-Armenian rapprochement."

    Dr. Faruk Loğoğlu served as Turkey's ambassador to Washington D.C. between 2001 and 2005.

    Faruk Loğoğlu © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    Turkish Applied For Armenian Dual Citizenship, Panorama.am, 13/12/2008
    Since January 1, 2008 1107 people applied to the Police Station of Armenia to get dual citizenship, Panorama.am has been informed by the Police Station. The majority of the applicants were from Georgia ` 804, 156 people applied from Russia and 29 from Uzbekistan. According to the same source, 20 people from Turkmenistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria have applied, 1 citizen from Germany, Canada, Brazil and Lithuania, 2 from Turkey and 12 from the USA.

    The applications can be rejected by the committee on citizenship which is an adjunct body to the President's Administration.

    Accord Of Sevres: National Problem Or International Project, Igor Muradyan, The Iravunk De Facto, 12/12/2008
    In the past few years increased if not solidarity then at least mutual understanding between the United States and the European Union (first of all, the establishments on both coasts of the Atlantic Ocean) regarding the future role of Turkey in the Western community, NATO and the EU has been noticed. It has been noticed that the United States has actually stopped insisting or has considerably relieved pressure on the Europeans regarding the entry of Turkey to the EU.

    One way or another, the United States came to the conclusion that there is no point in further insisting, since there is no hope to reach this goal, but at the same time disputable issues in the U.S.-European relations get more complicated, without producing anything positive. Besides, if the United States used to hope to create a `fifth column' out of Turkey in the EU, and disorganize the EU to some extent, now there is no hope that Turkey will not refuse solidarity to Europe and will become an instrument for the U.S. policies. As part of the EU, Turkey would certainly become less dependent on the United States and would play its own game. With regard to the acceptance of Turkey to the EU, the United States and the Europeans have a tacit agreement which teases Turkey and estranges it from both powers. In such a pattern of interests and strategies, nevertheless, the acceptance of Turkey to the EU is no longer a priority.

    In contacts with European and American political scientists it was possible to notice signs that the issue of possible secession of Turkey from NATO has stopped being invented, and may become quite urgent in the nearest future. This issue, as well as the refusal of Turkey to continue integration with the EU may be viewed as one for discussion and meant for propaganda and blackmail but the given issues are already brought up among analysts. While the Americans and Europeans are convinced that Turkey has no geopolitical and economic alternatives and it cannot exist without close partnership with the United States, the EU and NATO. It is right now but it may become disputable in the nearest future. The political dynamics in the world is stronger than ever. If we elaborate the thought about the priority of issues in the U.S. and EU policies on the Turkish topic, control over Turkey has more importance. Now it is already obvious that the United States and the EU are close to a joint plan of the geopolitical blockage of Turkey, thwarting its international efforts in the Near East and regional political efforts relating to Russia.

    Overcoming doubts and controversies, the United States and the EU have come close to the problem of fragmentation of Turkey, for the time being, as a reserve problem. The internationalization of the issue of Kurds will lead to the questioning of the territorial integrity of Turkey. The Western community is seeking and at the same time drafting arguments and projects which would be able to solve the problem of Turkey. In this context, the Armenian issue is on the agenda, which acquires a new meaning and content. The Americans and Europeans have become convinced that as a means of pressure on Turkey the Armenian issue cannot contain the relations between Armenia and Turkey only. In this sense, the West needs new ideas, and the forgotten accord of Sevres could be one. In addition, it is felt that after an earlier effort to depart from the Diaspora and rely on the Republic of Armenia, the West again focuses on the organizations of the Armenian Diaspora, setting forth the idea of creation of new organizations which are more strongly related to the interests of a number of major states than the traditional organizations. Moreover, the idea of complete replacement of all the Armenian organizations of the Diaspora by new ones has occurred. The problem is complicated but possible to fulfill in the current conditions. Besides, the West will have to make efforts to prevent growth of influence of Russia on the Armenian Disapora and initiatives relating to the Armenian and Turkish. Russia is trying to gain dominance in the Armenian Diaspora, at least in three directions: rule in the South Caucasus, establish brand new relations with Turkey, downplay the activities of the Armenian lobbies in the United States and the EU.

    After the aggravation of the Turkish and American relations, the reason of which was the events relating to the military action in Iraq in 2003, experts in the United States displayed interest in various political documents and events from the modern history of Turkey, that is the period around the 20th century. In various publications, events relating to border disputes, rights of ethnic and religious minorities, property and heritage were evoked. One of these problems mentioned in the political literature is the accord of Sevres. No doubt, the U.S. administration is trying to pressure on Turkey, lead it to the solution of problems of the past. Turkey is known to be highly sensitive regarding the accord of Sevres which is on a territorial issue. For the Turkish political class, the accord of Sevres remains a threat to the territorial integrity of Turkey. According to Ali Reza Bulent, an American expert of Turkish background, for many decades the Turkish legations get instructions regarding the problems that occur in relation to the accord of Sevres. The Turkish diplomats get similar instructions regarding the accords of Kars and Moscow signed in 1921. Turkish experts living in Turkey, as well as the United States and Europe, have made emotive evaluations of the accord of Sevres, such as `the accord of Sevres haunts Turkey as a nightmare'.

    Bulent Ali Reza, a leading expert (CSIS), Soner Cagaty (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Zeyno Baran (Hudson), Omer Taspinar (Brookings Institution), Nihat Ali Ã-zcan, Hakan Yavuz, Tarik Oguzlu, Mevlut Katik and other experts said excavations may be expected to discover the accord of Sevres, and it may cause a discussion not only among researchers but also political circles. It should be acknowledged that this kind of reanimation cannot be successful without corresponding support of the government of the great power. The question is who and how will set forward initiatives in Armenia and the Diaspora. Will these initiatives get a broad public and political response, the support of the international organizations which are under the total influence of the United States? How can the mechanisms of launching this project on the international arena be presented now? It is interesting that the Washington-based Greek political and lobbyist organization Western Political Center which is integrated with the U.S. government agencies, has displayed considerable interest to the perspective of launching the project of the `accord of Sevres'. A more major political institution in Washington, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington displayed similar interest. It should be noted that it is thought to be dangerous if the United States or another great power takes action regarding the accord of Sevres, since in that case it is impossible to control adequately the process, proceeding from the national interests of Armenia. Ostensibly, in a definite period of time separate Armenian figures and functionaries were able to pursue the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people but much depends on the personality of the given activists and their ties with the Armenian bureaucracy. It should be kept in mind that tragic events of the Armenian history are related to the accord of Sevres. In other words, much depends on how the Armenian side, that is Armenia and the Diaspora, could control the implementation of the project.

    In mid-November 2006 efforts were made to organize publications on the accord of Sevres by people who advocate the interests of Russia in Armenia. In addition, money was offered to organize speeches of a noted Armenian political scientist or publicist on one of the TV channels on the given issue. The purpose of these speeches was to ridicule the `Armenian efforts' of appealing to the accord of Sevres, both in 1920 and now. After it had been explained to these people that the accord of Sevres had a predecessor ` the decree of the Soviet government on the Turkish Armenia in February 1918 ` they made efforts to prevent these conversations from being spread. Russia must realize that the reanimation of the accord of Sevres, independent from the results, will lead to increasing involvement of Armenia in the processes of the Western community. The official stance of the Soviet Union on the accord of Sevres was absolutely negative, which was due to the support of Soviet Russia to Kemalist Turkey and its aggression against Armenia. Any evocation of the accord of Sevres in the positive sense, let alone the promotion of this project, will be disapproved by Russia. At the same time, the review of the accord of Sevres on the international forums may prove instrumental to the foreign policy of Armenia and organization of the Diaspora, including the Dialogue with Russia, which is responsible for the events of 1920-1921.

    It is not ruled out that the European countries are interested in bringing up the accord of Sevres in political literature and press, whose relations with Turkey are not less complicated than the Turkish-Armenian relations. The experience of political research confirms that the leading European organizations are attentively following and analyzing every event and process relating to the Turkish-Armenian relations. The Armenian topic remains at the center of attention of `Eastern politics' of the European Union, first of all in the direction of the problems of integration of Turkey with the EU. From time to time, the topic of Sevres emerges in specialized political literature, in respectable media of Europe. These publications emerge in a strange manner, not always are the sources and stakeholders visible, thanks to whom those materials appear. It is not precise to say that there is a discourse in the Western community on the accord of Sevres but someone is consistently pushing for initiatives. Europe fears Turkey more than one may imagined, Europe fears the entry of Turkey into the EU and is ready to encourage any initiative to prevent it. The European politicians and experts may endlessly talk about the necessity to improve the Armenian and Turkish relations but this is a sham, a performance which has been revealed a long time ago. Therefore, apparently, a favorable situation has occurred in Europe to discuss Sevres as a new political project.

    Thereby, the accord of Sevres may become an object of international discourse, at least among experts. Therefore, it is important to collect information and analyze the given events, reveal the stakeholders, the definite institutions, projects and intentions. But the most important thing is the drafting of the strategy, approaches and devices for launching the `project of Sevres' in the nearest future. The given project must be recognized legitimately among the Armenian political class, on the basis of a detailed discussion, and importantly none of the famous political organizations has tried to monopolize this project.

    Tigran Sargsyan: Armenia And Diaspora Form A Stronger State 13.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ 'The 1946-1948 Repatriation and its Lessons: The Issue of Repatriation Today' international conference kicked off in Yerevan today on initiative of the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the National Academy of Sciences.

    The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Hranush Hakobian, MPs and other officials.

    "We have organized this conference to work out a special repatriation program, taking into consideration the mistakes made in 1946-48," Minister Hakobian said. "The Armenians who are preparing to return to homeland should know what they will do here and what kind of problems they can face. "

    For his part, Prime Minister Sargsyan said, "Armenia together with Diaspora is quite another country. Our Diaspora is not so far from us, as it was during the Soviet era. Today it's an inseparable part of our life."

    Turkey Makes Soft Landing Lilit Poghosyan, Hayots Ashkharh Daily 12 Dec 2008 Armenia
    In a press-conference held in `Hayatsk' (view) club, KHOSROV HAROUTYUNYAN, leader of the Armenian Christian-Democratic Party, yesterday presented his views on the possible developments in the Karabakh settlement process.

    Below we present Mr. Harouyunyan's comments in response to the questions of `Hayots Ashkharh'.

    `I have always spoken in favor of the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and first of all - the opening of the border. I am sure that the opening of the border, along with other political issues, creates pre-requisites for the fair solution of the Karabakh issue. As long as the Armenian-Turkish border is close, there will always be a good breeding ground for the bellicose ambitions of Azerbaijan. This is the first thing to say.

    The second thing is that if Turkey really wants to become an influential state in the region, it cannot but normalize its relations with Armenia. In view of the blockade and isolation of Armenia, they cannot possibly pretend to that mission. Hence, Turkey is doomed to regulating its relations with Armenia. Furthermore, it will do that not just for meeting Armenia half-way. That step is first of all needed for Turkey itself.

    Third, let's agree that very serious developments are observed in Turkey's public life20in terms of the relationship with Armenia and the recognition of Genocide. It's difficult to guess whether a couple of meetings will be enough for solving those problems. Definitely they will not be solved. However, the fact that the Turkish society is becoming more receptive to issues concerning the Genocide and is more inclined to relieve itself of the historical burden is beyond dispute. This is a fact, and our task is to contribute to the process. That's all we are required to do.'

    Amenian Solidarity with the Victims of All Genocides
    A Recognition of the Armenian Genocide made public in the House Of Commons

    The 60th anniversary of the UN Genocide convention was marked in the House of Commons this week, on tuesday, 9th December, by a public recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Socialist Party of Kurdistan (PSK). Participating in the event were Professor Khatchatur Pilikian, author Desmond Fernandes, Akif Wan of the KNK and Adnan Kochar of CHAK.

    The PSK statement read :"Turkey has not confronted its history and is adamant and stubborn in its behaviour. It is less than a century since the Armenian Genocide happened in front of the eyes of the world. This shameful act for humanity was condemned by the parliaments of many countries. Each time the Turkish government and its parliament has responded to these condemnations with anger. Excluding few conscientious intellectuals, the so called intellectuals and artists of Turkey have followed the footsteps of their politicians and tried to hide, deny, even falsify history and are using every trick in the book to blame the Armenians.

    Of course, in Turkey, the example of a shameful act is not just the Armenian Genocide, but what was done to the Assyrians, Greeks and Kurds are crimes against humanity too. During the genocide of the Armenians, the Assyrians got their share in this slaughter" (whole statement below)
    Author Desmond Fernandes described the way that Lemkin conceptualised the term "genocide". The Armenian 'genocide' - which he recognised, as such - had occured, he noted, without the perpetrators being brought to justice. Lemkin's conceptualisation of the term "genocide", and campaign to make it an international crime (through an international initiative that resulted in the United Nations' Genocide Convention being passed exactly 60 years ago), was aimed at trying to address these types of concerns in a practical manner. Fernandes then outlined the way in which Armenians, Chaldeans-Assyrians, Greeks, Kurds and "Others", have been subjected to genocide - not only during the 1915-1918 period, but also during the so-called 'War of Independence' and Turkish republican period.

    He provided case studies to highlight the nature of the genocides, and detailed the manner in which Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, a renowned genocide scholar, has reiterated the fact that Turkey still remains, in terms of the nature of ill-treatment of Kurds, in breach of two articles of the Genocide Convention. Kurds, as Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and others have further shown, are also being subjected to 'linguistic' and ongoing 'cultural genocide'. Concerning the nature of targeting of "minorities" in Turkey, Fernandes outlined the manner in which Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Greeks and "Others" continue to be subjected to cultural genocide (just as "Greek Cypriots and 'Christian' Others" also continue to be subjected to cultural genocide in the north of Cyprus).

    'Deep political' and 'deep state' linked circles continue to adopt ideological positions that are all too willing to engage and 'profit from' genocidal actions. Recent statements by the Turkish Prime Minister (4th November 2008) and Vecdi Gonul, the Defence Minister, have merely encouraged those who advocate targeting of the 'non-Turkish Other'. Their positions, he noted, have been deeply criticised by the Society for Threatened Peoples, the Socialist Party of Kurdistan (see attached statement, in full), Arat Dink (the son of assassinated Hrant Dink), amongst other human rights campaigners, parties and organisations. Concerning the perspectives of two leading Kurdish parties over the 'cultural genocide' debate, he noted that Abdullah Ocalan was recently (in September 2008) quoted as saying: "I am warning the people against the cultural genocide and the dangers: I express my opinions". Murat Karayilan has also been quoted (in Alternatif in September 2008) as referring to the "cultural genocide policies" of the state. For the Socialist Party of Kurdistan (PSK): "The genocide against the Kurds has been ongoing since the time of the Ottoman Empire ... We can say that, all the things done to the Kurds, and at different times and places, ... are physical and cultural genocide. The system that started this policy towards the end of the Ottoman Empire and that spread all through [the Turkish] Republican period wanted to exterminate tens of millions of Kurds through genocide, deportation and assimilation. Even if this has not been fully achieved, [to date], such policies had a huge destructive impact on the lives of the Kurdish people. Has the situation changed today? No. Today, Turkish statesmen are neither brave enough to confront their history nor to make real changes in their policies that are suitable for our times. They are disregarding world public opinion and international law and carrying on with their policies without fear. Today the system is using the terror that it had created, carrying on with its militarist and racist activities. It is resisting" initiatives aimed at "opening a peaceful path for a solution".
    Professor Khatchatur Pilikian in his major speech said: "The literary genius John Milton, whose 400th anniversary of birth is exactly today, but it will be marked tomorrow at the Library, Conway Hall, once uttered this eye-opening remark in his Apology of 1648: "they who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness."

    Even in the first decade of our 21st century, the oppressors' mantra has remained essentially the same: 'if you don't like to be oppressed, then accept your fate. If not, you better leave your abode, home and country. At best we will encourage such a move, and at worst we will force you to leave'. In other words, you are not free to stay and try to change the status quo of iniquity. If you choose the latter and struggle for your human rights -- enshrined in International Laws, Covenants and Conventions, not only as an individual, but also as a people, especially when diverse from the ruling and the oppressing class -- then individual terror or even murder might be your Damoclean sword. Otherwise deportation and probably state terror leading to Genocide might befall your ethnic community.

    That is exactly why the eminent Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was murdered in January last year. And that is what the recent Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic, Recep Erdogan really meant, on November 4, this year, when he warned the disenchanted citizens of the Republic in general and the oppressed minorities in particular, saying: "Turkey consists of one nation, one flag and one land and that anyone who is not in agreement with this should leave the country". On November 10, 2008, less than a week after Erdogan's warning, his Defence Minister Vecdi Gönül, was in Brussels, marking the 70th anniversary of death of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. Gönül's eulogy of Ataturk contained these revealing words: "Would it be possible today to maintain the same national State if the existence of Greeks in the Aegean region and of Armenians in several regions of Turkey had continued as before?"

    Curiously enough, the recent Defence Minister of Turkey chose to forget what Ataturk himself had thought about such state terror accomplishments. The Turkish historian and sociologist Taner Akcam informs: "Mustafa Kemal has dozens of speeches in which he defines the treatments reserved to Armenians as "cowardice", or "barbarity", and names these treatments "massacre". (See T. Akcam's: The Geemnocide of Armenians and the Silence of the Turks, From Empire to Republic, A Shameful Act.)

    "We all know of course that Raphael Lemkin, who first coined the term "genocide" in 1943, did not mince his words, stating that genocide "happened so many times. First to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action." (Dadrian. History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 350)

    According to the Turkish Justice Ministry, 1,700 people were tried in 2006 alone, under the racist Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Prosecutors of the status quo have a field day in prohibiting so-called "insulting Turkishness", utilizing Article 301 to silence those valiant intellectuals who dare challenge the false premises of the official state denials of historical truths related with the Empire's and the Republic's tragic acts of ethnic and cultural annihilations. Hrant Dink himself was victimised by Article 301, before his assassination. Not surprisingly, therefore, that the eminent Turkish civil rights campaigner and publisher Ragip Zarakolu was found guilty of "insulting the institutions of the Turkish Republic". Just recently the BBC announced that a Turkish court has sentenced a Kurdish politician, the European Parliament's Sakharov human rights 1995 award winner, 47-year-old Ms Leyla Zana, to 10 years in prison. That is what the racist Article 301 of Turkey's penal code is all about-annihilating dissent and multiculturalism.

    It is indeed refreshing to note that all the major Universal Declarations, International Charters and Conventions are not in agreement with the monolithic and rabid nationalism of the past and the present Turkish ruling elite, the like of Erdogan and Gönül, mentioned above".........

    ....." Here again Raphael Lemkin's thoughtful contribution is welcome: "I understood that the function of memory is not only to register past events, but to stimulate human conscience [.] It became clear to me that the diversity of nations, religious groups and races is essential to civilization because every one of those groups has a mission to fulfill and a contribution to make in terms of culture."

    All the above notwithstanding, UNESCO has been warning the world, for decades now, that the greatest shame of the current civilisation is the fact that thousands of children die of hunger every single day. Today that number has reached the staggering 44,000 hungry children dying each day of the year, as if a Hiroshima bomb is unleashed every single day just to kill children. I would like to pose the following: that the Goebbels' of this world, "releasing the safety-catch of their pistols"-in modern parlance cluster bombs & co, ill-Ltd --should also be seen responsible for the modern massacres of the innocents. Can there be any doubt that this child cleansing is also the unmentioned genocide of humanity, ongoing and an authentic one at that, which surely is the outcome of our own socio-economic and industrial military system, now coined with cynical panache as Globalisation, whereby tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, each averaging at least 20 times the destructive power of a Hiroshima bomb, are already in deployment all around the world.

    Meanwhile billions pour into the pockets of the warmongers of modern metropolises. These warlords of Mammon would eventually thrive in an 'Inorganic Paradise'-a 'paradise' void of universal human rights and sustained by legalised torture; glorification of violence geared towards maximising profit at any cost; xenophobic state terror protected with religious fervour. And, topping as if the macabre orgy, genocide has been already tested, for a century now, to become the collateral damage of its inorganically modernised and sweat-shopped 'global village' of hunger and debt."
    Akif Wan of the Kurdish National Congress (KNK) spoke about present human rights abuses in Turkey, particularly about the 10-year sentence inflicted on Leyla Zana, the former MP. Adnan Kochar , director of CHAK spoke about the ecoside inflicted on the countryside of Kurdistan by the Turkish military.

    During the questions,Lord Hylton said that the recent comments by the Turkish ministers seemed to disqualify Turkey from progressing towards EU membership. Andrew Pelling MP also participated and expressed his great interest in the issues.
    Press Statement By The Socialist Party Of Kurdistan (Psk) The On-Going Physical And Cultural Genocide

    The rulers of Turkey are unaware of what century and what kind of world they live in as once again the latest developments have showed. As if they are behind times for a hundred years or even more. As if they are unaware of international law and the development of goodwill between different languages , cultures that became common value of humanity within the past century. Germany apologised to the Jews and the world public opinion about the genocide of the Jews. To make sure that it is not forgotten, genocide monuments erected in Germany and the concrete evidence of this tragedy, ensures that concentration camps are protected and open to the public. Putting it another way, Germany has confronted its history. Australia has apologised for what was done to its indigenous population, Aborigines, they too confronted their history.

    It may not be on the same scale but in our world, no civilised country's intellectuals, rulers are trying to cover-up, deny or defend the genocides against other people which are shameful events in their history. But in Turkey everything is the opposite of this. Turkey has not confronted its history and is adamant and stubborn in its behaviour. It is less than a century since the Armenian Genocide happened in front of the eyes of the world. This shameful act for humanity was condemned by the parliaments of many countries. Each time the Turkish government and its parliament has responded to these condemnations with anger. Excluding few conscientious intellectuals, the so called intellectuals and artists of Turkey have followed the footsteps of their politicians and tried to hide, deny, even falsify history and are using every trick in the book to blame the Armenians.

    Of course, in Turkey, the example of a shameful act is not just the Armenian Genocide, but what was done to the Assyrians, Greeks and Kurds are crimes against humanity too. During the genocide of the Armenians, the Assyrians got their share in this slaughter. In the following years, that means before the Greek and Turkish governments exchanged populations, the Greeks who were oppressed and threatened were deported from Anatolia in their hundreds of thousands . One of the leading figures carrying out such activities was CELAL BAYAR who was nicknamed 'GALIP HOCA' and was from the CUP (Committee for Union and Progress Party).1 After the war and the exchange of the populations, some Greeks were allowed to stay in Istanbul because some Turks stayed in Western Thrace. [But] most of these Greeks left Istanbul as a result of oppression and the events of 6/7 September which were organised by the state.

    The genocide against the Kurds has been ongoing since the time of the Ottoman Empire. Marshal Moltke's memoirs are full of such stories. During the First World War, alongside the genocide of the Armenians, 700,000 Kurds from Kurdistan were exiled, and deported to central and western Anatolia. This was an ethnic cleansing and many of these people died as a result of hunger and cold.

    After the war, in order to Turkify Anatolia and to establish a unitary state, the second biggest population group, the Kurds, were declared as non-existent. The state was established according to only Turkish elements. Kurdish history, language and culture was banned. The Kurdish peoples just reaction to all this was brutally and bloodily suppressed. After each uprising was put down, the civilian population of the region, without any discrimination - [including] women, children, young and old - were subjected to genocide. For example, after the Sheikh Said rebellion, they killed 20,000 civilians. After the Agri uprising, in Zilan Stream region, a population of more than 30 villages was exterminated. After the 1938 Dersim uprising, 60,000 people, disregarding [the fact that many were] women and children, were bayonetted, shot, herded en masse into the mills and burnt or were killed in caves.

    The journalist AYSE HUR recently reported on an interview that had taken place in 1986 with the ex-Foreign Minister of Turkey, IHSAN SABRI CAGLAYANGIL. [He said]: "The Dersimis [i.e. Kurds in the region] had taken refuge in the caves. The (Turkish) army used poison gas. Through the caves entrance ... they were poisoned like rats. Aged from 7 to 70,. the Kurds in Dersim were slaughtered . The [military] operation was bloody. The Dersim case was finished. The government's authority was established in the villages and in Dersim ... Today, anyone can go to Dersim. Gendarma can go, so can you. But lately, especially in the borders region, the Kurds influenced by the external powers started an independence movement. Some Kurds live in Turkey, some in Iran...." (AYSE HUR, 16/11/2008 TARAF GAZETESI).

    After these uprisings and many smaller ones, the masses were exiled. By doing so they wanted to clear out the Kurds from the region. The appearance of the PKK and its armed struggle was used as a pretext to evacuate and demolish more than 4,000 villages and towns. 3-4 million [Kurdish] people were exiled from their homeland as thousands of 'unsolved murders' of Kurdish intellectuals and patriots occurred that took the form of full massacre. These are the end result of policies that have been implemented over the past 30 years.

    The oppression and bans continued along with forced assimilation and Turkification policies. They wanted to wipe out the language, culture -in short, the very existence of the people who lived on their land for thousands of years, who had deep roots and contributed to the civilisation of Anatolia, Iran and Mesopotomia, who had their own distinct and rich history and language.

    In conclusion, we can say that, all the things done to the Kurds, and at different times and places, were beyond ethnic cleansing and they are physical and cultural genocide. The system that started this policy towards the end of Ottoman Empire and that spread all through [the Turkish] Republican period wanted to exterminate tens of millions of Kurds through genocide, deportation and assimilation. Even if this has not been fully achieved [to date], such policies had a huge destructive impact on the lives of the Kurdish people.

    Has the situation changed today? No. Today, Turkish statesmen are neither brave enough to confront their history nor to make real changes in their policies that are suitable for our times. They are disregarding world public opinion and international law and carrying on with their policies without fear. Today the system is using the terror that it had created, carrying on with its militarist and racist activities. It is resisting [initiatives aimed at] opening a peaceful path for a solution. They are not allowing [Kurdish] exiles to return to their land. The ban on language and culture is on going. Even today, there is no freedom of expression and organisation for the Kurds. The intellectuals who support them are punished according to the laws such as Turkish Penal Code article 301 and by similar articles.

    The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently visited the Kurdish region and had this to say to the people who asked for cultural and political rights:

    "...The ones who don't accept the idea of one state, one nation, one flag, should leave the country ...".

    In fact, this is an infamous slogan of fascism: "love it or leave it..".

    On 10/11/2008 (The anniversary of Ataturk's death on10/11/1938), the Defense Minister, Mr.VECDI GONUL, who was in Brussels for a meeting, openly claimed that without the genocide of the Armenians and the deportation of the Greeks, there would have been no national state. These are Vecdi Gonul's exact words:

    "...The most important step during the establishment of the nation was exchange of the populations. Just think, would it have been possible for us to become a nation state, if the Greeks had continued to live in Aegean region and the Armenians in many parts of Anatolia?"

    The Defence Minister, Mr. V.Gonul went on with an example from Ankara: "... Just one district of Ankara were Muslims in those days ." and added that another one [was] Greek and another one Armenian. He also stated that, at the time, Izmir Trade Organisation was made up of non-Muslims. Mr. Gonul is admitting that with genocide and deportations, Turkey was ethnically cleansed, the finances were gained by Muslim Turks, and by doing so, the nation state was set up and what is more, he defended such action.

    Honestly, there are no Greek or Armenian districts, Greeks or Armenians left in Ankara. Such Greek or Armenian districts don't exist in Istanbul either. Despite all that the ones who stayed behind and how they feel is not a secret. The events that took place in Malatya and murder of HRANT DINK with the knowledge and support of the police and gendarme authorities are still fresh in our minds.

    Today, the extermination of the Kurds, and the physical and cultural genocidal policies that are implemented against the Kurds are a continuation of that "NATION BUILDING" mentality. It is obvious that the Turkish statesmen believe that they have not completed the task yet ....

    1 Celal Bayar was Prime Minister of Turkey in 1937 & later President in 1950.

    Obama And The Genocide Task Force, Humanitarian Imperialism, By Binoy Kampmark, December 12 / 14, 2008

    Along with the optimism that has accompanied the Obama election emerges a potentially new picture on humanitarian interventions. What will an Obama administration do with Darfur, or instances where genocide will occur? Might he resort to what has been termed humanitarian imperialism?

    A report by the Genocide Prevention Task Force convened by the U.S. Institute of Peace, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Academy of Diplomacy has a few ideas of its own. It was released this week by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Defense Secretary William Cohen. `Preventing genocide is an achievable goal.' There are discernable `signs and symptoms, and viable options to prevent it at every turn if we are committed and prepared.'

    The Task force report makes various recommendations. Given that both co-chairs were key players in the Clinton administration, their influence is hard to ignore. The creation of a high level agency to identify the problems of genocide with seismic urgency is suggested. Increased resources are advocated. There is a recommendation for the new secretary of state to launch an international initiative enlisting an entire cadre of networks and nations to prevent mass atrocity and genocide.

    Then there is that option of last resort, military intervention.

    The task force's report pairs well with the interventionist rhetoric Obama has, at times, articulated. His foreign policy advisers ` Susan E. Rice and Tony Lake ` are old hands from the dark days of the Rwanda genocide, where semantic gymnastics trumped humanitarian considerations. In 1994, a gutsy, far-sighted General Dallaire commanded less weight than State Department memos questioning whether genocide was even taking place.

    Then come those interminable problems with the mechanics of intervention. Given the intractable presence of the UN Security Council, the obstacles with allowing intervention will remain serious ones. The authors think that the U.S. will front with that customary, messianic tone of leadership ` take the first measures to avert catastrophe, and others will follow. But ironically, that message seems oddly (or perhaps not?) close to that of the Bush administration ` invade a country first and the skeptics will follow. The rhetorical frameworks may differ, but the practical results may be much the same. When in doubt, build an offensive coalition.

    Readers of this report won't forget that the authors were themselves part of an administration that orchestrated an ostensibly humanitarian intervention outside the UN framework in 1999. Then, it was Kosovo and the issue of preventing ethnic cleansing. To this day, if there is an identifiable doctrine from the Clinton years, it is one that targets genocide and humanitarian catastrophe where it is in the national interest to prevent it. International jurists have subsequently tried to justify the doctrine, though it remains infuriatingly vague and inconsistent.

    Given the battering the UN and international law received during the Bush years, the panaceas of the task force are encumbered by problems. The UN, it would seem, will continue remaining the bête noire of American foreign policy, whether one is a Bush unilateralist or Obama internationalist. The former loathes it for being the progenitor of fictitious international laws and obligations; the latter dislikes it for being lethargic and indifferent to protecting existing international laws.

    With the US mired in conflicts it has struggled to control in the last seven years, driven by a unilateralist rationale that commentators now find hard to justify, the priorities given to genocide prevention may yet again be minimized. But this will all depend on what formula the new administration will embrace. While Obama will need to take this report seriously, he must be fully aware that the US risks being tarnished with the charge of imperialism (albeit of a different sort) yet again.

    Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, University of College.

    Obama Sets Middle East Collision Course Position Could Alienate Potential Intermediary © 2008 WorldNetDaily
    Editor's Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports.

    Even before he moves into the Oval Office, Barack Obama may be on a collision course with a country that carries great weight in Middle East negotiations, has considerable influence throughout Central Asia and is close to Russia, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

    That country is Turkey, which also has taken initiatives to mediate indirect peace talks between Syria and Israel.

    In recent weeks, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also has offered to be a mediator between the incoming Obama administration and Iran.

    "We are the only capital that is trusted by both sides," Erdogan said. "We are the ideal negotiator."

    In addition, Turkey is in a strategic location as an energy corridor for oil and natural gas pipelines from Azerbaijan to the West.

    While Turkey appears to be a position to help with some of Obama's biggest upcoming foreign policy challenges, the relationship may be off to a rocky start, because Obama has described as "genocide" the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

    In a May letter to the Armenian National Committee of America, then-Sen. Barack Obama wrote, "I share your view that the United States must recognize the events of 1915 to 1923, carried out by the Ottoman Empire, as genocide. ¦We must recognize this tragic reality."

    Keep in touch with the most important breaking news stories about critical developments in the Middle East with Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence news source edited and published by the founder of WND.

    The Republic of Turkey, which succeeded the Ottoman Empire, does not accept the word "genocide" to describe events at that time.

    The issue isn't new. In October 2007, Congress prepared to take a vote on a resolution that would have officially recognized as genocide the 1915 event.

    The Bush administration, however, opposed such a vote due to the potential of damaging relations with Turkey, a NATO ally.

    The Turkish government reacted strongly against the prospect of passage of such a resolution.

    It threatened to cut off critical supplie routes through Turkey for the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also threatened to close the strategic U.S. air base at Incirlik.

    While the resolution would not have been binding on U.S. foreign policy, it could have damaged an already seriously strained relationship with Turkey.

    December 12, 2008, Turkish Journalist Faces Threats In Belgium For Writing Against Nationalist Remarks, Bia News Center - Brussels, 12-12-2008

    Belgian authorities were forced to put journalist Doğan Özgüden under protection because of the violence and lynch threats he found himself facing due to the publications he made in his site against the nationalist comments of Vecdi Gönül, the Minister of National Defense.

    Belgium News Agency BELGA announced that Belgium authorities put Doğan Özgüden, journalist and publishing director of Info-turk.be, an independent internet site, under protection.

    Özgüden had announced at his site İnfo-turk.be National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül’s praise of the forced deportation of the Greeks and Armenians right around the time of the formation of the Turkish national state in the 1920s.

    The minister had stated his praise during a ceremony held at the Turkish embassy at Brussels. According to Özgüden's internet site, together with Gönül’s speech, Ambassador Fuat Tanlay had read a nationalist poem about the Turkish flag which included statements like “I will dig the grave of one who does not look at you like I do, I will destroy the nest of the bird that flies without saluting you.”
    “Özgüden’s file is at the Crisis Center Administration”

    Following the critiques against the figures mentioned above, many pro-government sites, starting with Belturk, launched a campaign against İnfo-Türk, which eventually resulted in lynch calls. Reacting to the situation, Senator Josy Dubie questioned Patrick Deawael, Minister of Interior, yesterday (December 11), asking him what they were doing to protect Özgüden. Government’s answer was that they were taking the necessary measures, but could not reveal the nature of them in order to protect Ozgüden.

    On the other hand, claiming that he was facing violence and lynch provocations, Özgüden went to the Royal Prosecutor’s Office to file a complaint.
    Belturk: We did not call the association, we did not exert pressure

    While sites like Belturk.be and gundem.be, which operate in Belgium, have made news targeting Doğan Özgüden, one of these sites, belturk.be, called the Journalists’ Association of Ankara and claimed that the allegations about them did not reflect the reality; in fact, it was them who were being targeted.

    Newspaper “Yeniçağ” had pressured Turkish Journalists’ Association

    Daily Yeniçağ had attacked the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) for giving an award journalist Özgüden for his fiftieth year in the profession.

    The newspaper had described giving an award to Özgüden against whom there is a lawsuit for “denigrating the military” an “award scandal”.

    The newspaper had stated “There are more than 50 lawsuits against him, he is running away from the law for 37 years” and “An Armenian defender” for Özgüden, who had to leave Turkey in 1971 and never returned again. (EÖ/TB)

    Turkish Activists In Solidarity With The Greek Activists Bia news center - 12-12-2008, Bawer ÇAKIR
    The leftist activists in Turkey held press releases in front of the Greek embassies in Istanbul and Izmir. The protestors also pointed out to the similar deaths at the hand of the security forces in Turkey.

    “The Greek state must end the policies of pressure and violence against the people who participate in the activities, those who have been detained must be released.”

    The Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) held a press release in front of the Greek Embassy in Istanbul and protested the killing of Alexandros (Alexi) Grigoropoulos by the police and called upon the European peoples to support the activists in Greece.

    An ESP member Ersin Sedefoğlu read the press release, which also found support by the members of the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association who were handing out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the Istiklal Street.

    Sedefoğlu said:

    “This massacre coincided with the period of the traumatic effects of the financial and global crises. The Greek government lets the police use violence to stop the dynamic social opposition that is on the side of the thousands of workers fired and tens of thousands in fear of being fired.”

    Pointing out to the more than fifty people slain by the police since the law about the duty and authority of the police (PVSK) was passed in Turkey, Sedefoğlu stated that they were in solidarity with the Greek people.

    While the activists were chanting various slogans, three workers were cleaning the red paint the Anarchists threw at the walls of the embassy.
    Spoiled tomatoes to the Greek embassy from the high schoolers

    The Revolutionary High Schoolers (Dev-Lis) threw spoiled tomatoes at the Greek Embassy in Izmir in Turkey’s Aegean region.

    Marching from their Izmir building to the embassy, the Dev-Lis members had to make their press release fifty meters from the embassy because of the police barricade.

    Ceren Gür, who read the press release, pointed out to the fact that a sixteen year old youth was killed by a police bullet and they were in solidarity with the Greek people. (BÇ/TB)

    A Crisis Of Values In Greece by HERKÜL MİLLAS*
    Violence has overtaken Greece since the Dec. 7 police killing of a teenager, threatening the stability of Greece's government.
    Greece has been in a state of turmoil since Dec. 7. People took to the streets for demonstrations and vandalism when the police killed an adolescent during a protest. The opposition held the government responsible for the ongoing situation, recalling that the administration and the security forces failed to take adequate measures.

    It is really difficult to explain these developments to Turkish readers because Greek society is pretty different. But it might be said that these incidents can be traced back and take place for different reasons. Even the Greeks are appalled, and they can't explain what has been going on. The government calls for calm; the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) makes reference to the impotence of the government to repress the riots; the Communist Party alleges that the incidents are due to the plots by illegal circles of interests, and the Leftist Union (Siriza) views the violence as a social explosion caused by growing economic problems. These are inadequate and superficial explanations with no significant reference to the actual reasons.

    Greece experienced rule by a repressive military dictatorship between 1967 and 1974. I observe that some balances have been shaken in the subsequent era of democratization. A populist political style has been pursed with reference to a cultural revolution by PASOK, which aligned itself with a leftist ideology, starting from the 1980s. Some successful practices were observed in this era. For instance, the army was left out of politics. The police organization, which had poor relations with the people, was democratized. Civil society has become more influential. Measures were taken to make sure that the people are not fearful of the state. Retired people and disadvantaged groups were provided with extensive support. Young people, who were repressed during the dictatorial rule, were granted additional rights.

    However, these positive developments have gradually amounted to extreme practices endorsed by all governments. Every collective action was turned into a fetish. No boundary remained on this matter. Opposing popular movements were considered an antidemocratic and pro-junta stance. A few examples will be illustrative. Today, anybody can hold a meeting or demonstration at any time in Athens. The laws are not enforced to deal with such protests and demonstrations. Demonstrators can block the traffic and cause serious problems on the streets. In such cases, the police are expected to protect the demonstrators against probable counterassaults. The society itself finds this pretty natural. A demonstration held by a small group on a road with traffic -- not on the walkways -- is regarded as a right. No government dares to open up the traffic in reliance on coercion in these events.

    These collective rights were also granted to young people. For instance, the practice of immunity at the universities is exclusive. For the last two decades, the police have never set foot on the campus of any university. Meanwhile, a number of anarchists and other sorts of groups have looted or vandalized university campuses in downtown Athens. Even non-matriculated people joined the looting and took away hardware parts from the labs. The police only watched what had happened from a distance and only rarely relied on tear gas against the protesters. The offenders were never prosecuted. The administrators of the universities have never invited the police to the campus; because opposition to collective action would be considered a pro-junta stance, they failed to take effective action; it should also be noted that the students play an extensive role in the promotion of university professors.

    These rights were subsequently given to high school students and even elementary school pupils. In fact, recognition of these acts is out of question; however, because their violent actions are not opposed and prevented effectively, the students hold that they have these de facto rights. For instance, a small group of students may resort to violent actions alleging that the donuts sold in the café at the university are not fresh and shut down the building. Nobody could oppose this. Sometimes violence spreads and influences the entire country. Such incidents take place almost everywhere. The authorities do nothing other than waiting patiently for the end of the turmoil. In the end, violence stops; but the demonstrations and protests leave dilapidated school buildings behind. Offices, equipment and educational materials are destroyed in these events. These are considered regular incidents in Greece and a substantial part of the society sees these as part of democracy.

    The number of such tragicomic events is pretty large whereas those who attempt to deal with this state of turmoil face great challenges because a number of groups and circles actually benefit from it. The young people enjoy their rebellious nature, teachers work less and parents are comfortable because nobody fails at schools and politicians avoid being accused of being pro-junta. But in the meantime, a young generation is being equipped with wrong and misleading messages. This generation has learned no boundaries; they have come to believe that they are entitled to doing anything when acting collectively. In the end, they now consider those who try to stop them as an enemy of the people.

    A small anarchist group of 1,000 members which has resorted to violent actions for years now exploits murder of a child and attracts extensive support from the people. It is impossible to explain what has been going on if we fail to consider the accrued experience of many years in the past. Of course, economic problems, unemployment and feelings of insecurity for the future are sources of discomfort. And we could say that shortcomings and inconsistencies of the politicians were additional factors. However, expression of the distress and discomfort through violent actions rather than peaceful demonstrations is a product of longstanding practice and training. It is really difficult to end these incidents. These values crafted for many years may not be eliminated by recommendations or repressive measures.

    Those who are not familiar with Greece think these developments are part of a protest against a murder. Some even see these incidents as proof of the presence of democracy. This is only one dimension of the issue. The prolonged violent protest is related to a crisis of values and there is nothing to be praised in this case. It is not healthy to see a connection between democratic and peaceful demonstration and looting properties of innocent people. The surprising part of these demonstrations is that the protesters took to the streets without voicing solid demands. It seems that their goal is to be discharged. What happened is the pathetic state of a young generation suffering from deep wounds. This is a pendulum swinging between junta and anarchy. Societies embracing and internalizing democracy do not make a choice between authoritarian regimes and arbitrary actions. Even if Greece calms down, it will take time to maintain a new balance of values. Unfortunately, political and social forces are currently not available to draw a new course of actions.
    *Herkül Millas is a political scientist.

    14 December 2008,

    Cyber Insecurity by JOSEPH S. NYE*
    CAMBRIDGE -- In August 2008, Russian troops moved into Georgia. Observers dispute who fired first, but there was a little-noticed dimension of the conflict that will have major repercussions for the future.

    Computer hackers attacked Georgian government Web sites in the weeks preceding the outbreak of armed conflict. The Russia-Georgia conflict represents the first significant cyber attacks accompanying armed conflict. Welcome to the 21st century.

    Cyber threats and potential cyber warfare illustrate the increased vulnerabilities and loss of control in modern societies. Governments have mainly been concerned about hacker attacks on their own bureaucracy's information technology infrastructure, but there are social vulnerabilities well beyond government computers.

    In an open letter to the US president in September 2007, American professionals in cyber defense warned that "the critical infrastructure of the United States, including electrical power, finance, telecommunications, health care, transportation, water, defense, and the Internet, is highly vulnerable to cyber attack. Fast and resolute mitigating action is needed to avoid national disaster." In the murky world of the Internet, attackers are difficult to identify.

    In today's interconnected world, an unidentified cyber attack on nongovernmental infrastructure might be severely damaging. For example, some experts believe that a nation's electric power grid may be particularly susceptible. The control systems that electric power companies use are thought vulnerable to attack, which could shut down cities and regions for days or weeks. Cyber attacks may also interfere with financial markets and cause immense economic loss by closing down commercial Web sites.

    Some scenarios, including an "electronic Pearl Harbor," sound alarmist, but they illustrate the diffusion of power from central governments to individuals. In 1941, the powerful Japanese navy used many resources to create damage thousands of miles away. Today, an individual hacker using malicious software can cause chaos in far-away places at little cost to himself.

    Moreover, the information revolution enables individuals to perpetrate sabotage with unprecedented speed and scope. The so-called "love bug virus," launched in the Philippines in 2000, is estimated to have cost billions of dollars in damage. Terrorists, too, can exploit new vulnerabilities in cyberspace to engage in asymmetrical warfare.

    In 1998, when America complained about seven Moscow Internet addresses involved in the theft of Pentagon and NASA secrets, the Russian government replied that phone numbers from which the attacks originated were inoperative. The US had no way of knowing whether the Russian government had been involved.

    More recently, in 2007, China's government was accused of sponsoring thousands of hacking incidents against German federal government computers and defense and private-sector computer systems in the US. But it was difficult to prove the source of the attack, and the Pentagon had to shut down some of its computer systems.

    In 2007, when Estonia's government moved a World War II statue commemorating Soviet war dead, hackers retaliated with a costly denial-of-service attack that closed down Estonia's access to the Internet. There was no way to prove whether the Russian government, a spontaneous nationalist response or both aided this transnational attack.

    In January 2008, President George W. Bush signed two presidential directives that called for establishing a comprehensive cyber-security plan, and his 2009 budget requested $6 billion to develop a system to protect national cyber security. President-elect Barack Obama is likely to follow suit. In his campaign, Obama called for tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience of critical infrastructure, and he promised to appoint a national cyber adviser who will report directly to him and be responsible for developing policy and coordinating federal agency efforts.

    That job will not be easy because much of the relevant infrastructure is not under direct government control. Just recently, Donald Kerr, the US deputy director of national intelligence, warned that "major losses of information and value for our government programs typically aren't from spies. … In fact, one of the great concerns I have is that so much of the new capabilities that we're all going to depend on aren't any longer developed in government labs under government contract."

    Kerr described what he called "supply chain attacks" in which hackers not only steal proprietary information, but go further and insert erroneous data and programs in communications hardware and software -- Trojan horses that can be used to bring down systems. All governments will find themselves exposed to a new type of threat that will be difficult to counter.

    Governments can hope to deter cyber attacks just as they deter nuclear or other armed attacks. But deterrence requires a credible threat of response against an attacker. And that becomes much more difficult in a world where governments find it hard to tell where cyber attacks come from, whether from a hostile state or a group of criminals masking as a foreign government.

    While an international legal code that defines cyber attacks more clearly, together with cooperation on preventive measures, can help, such arms-control solutions are not likely to be sufficient. Nor will defensive measures like constructing electronic firewalls and creating redundancies in sensitive systems.

    Given the enormous uncertainties involved, the new cyber dimensions of security must be high on every government's agenda.

    *Joseph S. Nye is a professor at Harvard University and author most recently of The Powers to Lead. © Project Syndicate, 2008

    14 December 2008, Sunday

    I-Team: Major Organized Crime Bust in Las Vegas Dec 9, 2008
    Teams of FBI Agents and Metro Detectives fanned out all over town early Monday morning to round up more than 20 suspects believed to be part of a Eurasian organized crime ring that specialized in counterfeiting, credit card fraud, and identity theft.

    No one from law enforcement will comment on the record about the operation just yet, but the I-Team first learned back in July that a taskforce was focusing in on the suspected mobsters.

    Today the hammer came down. A steady stream of handcuffed suspects were led into jail facilities around the valley.

    An unassuming home on Peppermill Drive in Las Vegas was one of the first locations to be searched. The house owned by a local realtor named Gary Ambart-Sumyan. A man fitting his description was led out of the home and was transported to a Metro Police location.

    Sources say that inside the home, agents found an unusual assortment of computers that might have been used in identity thefts and the creation of stolen or phony credit cards and debit cards.

    At least three suspects were already in custody when the warrants began being served, including two in southern California.

    Read the indictments against the suspects

    Law enforcement sources say the suspects are Albanians, Bulgarians, Armenians and Russians, many of whom live in California but carry out their dirty work in Las Vegas, sometimes stealing as much as a million dollars a week, according to one well-placed source, ripping off local casinos and businesses with bogus and/or stolen cards and identities.

    A law enforcement source close to the investigation said the influx of Eurasian gangsters, especially eastern Europeans, into Las Vegas has been dramatic in recent years and that their financial impact is "overwhelming."

    The official also said these new organized crime groups are different from the traditional mafia, loyal only to money, not to any family.

    A total of 23 suspects are named in a criminal complaint that will be unveiled Tuesday. Nearly all of them were in custody by 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

    The I-Team has developed other exclusive details about the ongoing investigation and will be making that information public in future newscasts. LasVegasNow EyeWitnessNews

    Interview With Prof. James Russell Interview by Kourosh Ziabari
    Nowadays, you hear the name of Iran for the most catastrophic reasons in the global media headlines. Nuclear weapons, terrorism, mass destruction, violation of human rights, abduction of freedom activists etc. Such hostile approach for the coverage of Iran news which has been taking by the corporation media since long times ago would easily sequence to an international pessimism toward the people of Iran, the culture of Iran and the history of Iran. That's why, Iran is somehow interpreted as the most misrepresented, misunderstood country in the world that is being distorted by image despite of its richness of civilization.

    Speaking to an American scholar of Persian Culture who has devoted almost 15 years of his lifetime to studying the furthest angels and brinks of Persian culture and Iranian lifestyle is worth reading at least once for it gives a clarified and impartial viewpoint of Iran, what the outgoing President of US calls the "Axis of Evil".

    James Russell is a world-distinguished figure, a well-known name for those interested in Persian culture, Persian civilization and Iranian studies. He is a Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University and the a former Associate Professor of Ancient Iranian studies at Columbia University while teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem priorly.

    At the time being, Professor James Russell of the Harvard University is writing a book on a medieval Armenian collection of tales whose source he believes to be the Buddhist Lotus Sutra, an important scripture written by and for the Silk Road peoples, most of whom spoke Iranian languages.

    I conducted an interview with Prof. James Russell with the aim of learning more about the viewpoints of an American university professor about Iran, the misrepresented and misinterpreted country that you can not discover its truths and realities, unless you travel and sense it face-to-face.

    In the brief debate, we talked about various topics such as the life of Persian poet Mowlana, the customs and rituals of Iranian people, the history of Persian Gulf and the richness of Persian literature.

    I invite you to come with us to walk you through the corridors of 7500 years history of Greater Persia; certainly you would learn more things, knowing not before!

    Q: Prof. Russell, Why and how did you get involved in Persian language? What happened for the first time that attracted you to this ancient language and what efforts did you take to become a professional speaker and teacher of Persian language?

    A: I became interested in the culture of Iran because of the very great importance of its spiritual and material culture across all Eurasia, from ancient times to the present day. Persian art and music were in fashion in medieval Japan; and speakers of Alan, a North Iranian language, contributed to the shaping of the epic of king Arthur in Britain. Zoroastrian ideas helped to mold Judaism, Christianity, and Platonic philosophy.

    Because of the tense relations between America and Iran, I've only been to Iran once, in 2000. I loved every minute of it: the warmth of people, their hospitality and sense of humor, the wonderful good taste of everything, from the cuisine to the printed tablecloths and metalwork, the sense of peace in coffeehouses when you smoke kalyun, drink tea, and talk. When I was in Shah-e Cheragh mosque I felt as though I were within a diamond.

    Q: You are an American scholar yourself, but devoted your studies and life to Persian culture which made you entirely familiar with the ways of "oriental living" in Iran. Now you can feel the apparent differences between the life of Iranian people and the lifestyles in American or European societies. What are the main differences, in your view?

    A: You ask about Persians vs. Americans and Europeans. I do not think there has to be a difference between people. We are related, because we were created. The Persian word darvish goes back to Avestan dregu, "a poor man", that is, one who knows God is rich and relies upon him.

    The only real war is the one that a person wages within himself against his own evil inclinations; and as Hafez taught, kindness with friends and courtesy with enemies is the secret of both the worlds. The purpose of culture is to make all this part of our lives.

    Iran was the France and Italy of the Near East and Central Asia, a source of culture and literature. These terms are equivalent to Greek paideia and mean the range of learning, taste, thought, and behavior that define a civilized person. The word farhang (culture) comes from Old Iranian fra-thanja, to draw forth, that is, to cultivate what is already in existence within. The same as the Latin word educere from which the term education comes.

    I would like to see Iran play this role again as a secure and prosperous regional power, but also as a peacemaker in a difficult region. I think the idea of the "bridge of civilizations" advocated by President Khatami was a move in that direction and I'm sorry events have carried us the other way of late.

    Q: If we consider the history and the language of each country as its cultural heritage, then we can conclude that Iran has a treasured and rich heritage with more than 15.000 years of age. Do you think that Iranians are meritorious enough to preserve their historical heritage of culture and arts?

    A: It is not for me to say whether any people is a deserving heir of its past. I'm just a man. But I do think that the Islamic world needs to reject suicide bombing, hijacking, and the general sense of grievance towards Israel, America, and the West in general. Most of this is a problem specifically of the Arab countries and secondarily of unsettled countries like Pakistan. But since Iran was the first Near Eastern country to have a successful revolution that claimed Islamic foundations, others who link Islam to various political programs do look to its authority. So in view of that role I would hope Iran served as a moderating and civilizing influence, as it has done so often in the past.

    How does one preserve a culture seven thousand years old? Well, by living it and cherishing it, by teaching it to one's children, and also by supporting museums, archaeologists, libraries. By welcoming visitors and showing the cultural treasures to them. How about summer programs in Persian language & travel for high school kids from all countries and I mean all. It also means talking about cultural values, through new literary, musical, and artistic forms, through open and free debate about the relationship between tradition and innovation. But you know all this without my saying it.

    Q: I know that most of those who are acquainted with Persian culture are the regular Mowlana enthusiasts, too. So let's talk about Mevlana as an outstanding medieval ages spiritual poet whose nationality is being called into questione by the Turkish scholars. Have you ever read the Persian-English translation of Mevlana's poems? They seem not to be professional enough.

    Mevlana was of course a writer of Persian, and his family was from Balkh. Since he lived in Konya, I do not begrudge our Turkish friends their love for him. There is a recent translation in the Penguin Classics from Persian by my classmate and friend Dr. Alan Williams of Manchester University in Britain. Obviously I do not approve of poets who produce translations of the Masnavi or Divan-e Shams and boast that they do so without knowing a word of Persian. It is silly, and at worst betrays an unbecoming cultural bias.

    Q: The world-renowned Persian culture scholar Professor Richard Nelson Frye has written a letter to Iranian president and requested to be entombed near the Central Iranian city of Isfahan after his death. It was a shocking headline for all of us. What is your estimation?

    A: I think Professor Frye's desire to be buried in Iran is a sign of his affection for the country. Richard Frye was instrumental in establishing the chair in Armenian studies that I occupy at Harvard. He is a strong proponent of peace and reconciliation between the Arabs and Israel. He is also a loyal American. There is life before death, though. I am more interested in people living in Iran than where their bodies lie after the soul passes through the veil.

    Q: Assume that you were born non-American again, but had the opportunity to choose your nationality yourself. Would you select Iranian?

    A: You ask what my citizenship would be if not American, my answer would be probably Israeli since I'm a Jew and I love the city of Jerusalem. I hope for peace for my own people and all other people there and if ever I do go to the holy city to live, any Iranian would be an honored guest in my home and I would cook Persian cuisine for them. And I guarantee that Mr. Ahmadinejad would be welcomed with kindness and courtesy if he came and not in the uncivilized way Columbia University received him, which was a disgrace. So that's my contribution to the Middle East peace process. Probably I'm being too idealistic, but the dinner invitation is real. I extend my hand, and I know the Iranian nation are basically kind and noble and will take it.

    Born in 1991, Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist and writer, the author of book "7+1", which is collection of his interviews with 7 contemporary Iranian authors. He is a contributing writer for websites and magazines of Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, UK and the US. A number of Kourosh's articles and blog posts have been translated into Spanish, German and French languages; moreover he appeared twice in BBC World service programs and PBS Media Shift as well. He is Persian and lives in Rasht, in Northern Iran. Kourosh was selected as the world's youngest journalist by the Association of Young Journalists and Writers in 2005, He is acquainted with five world languages and is also a web and graphic designer for Persian web portals and magazines.


    FAO - 21% Of Armenians Suffer Malnutrition Panorama.am 12/12/2008
    In 2003-2005 21% of Armenian people suffered malnutrition, is written in "Need for Food in World" report 2008 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. According to the report in 1990-1992 1.6 million people or 46% in Armenia suffered malnutrition, in 1995-1997 - 1.1 million or 24% and in 2003-2005 -0.6 million or 21%.

    Regarding our neighbor country Azerbaijan the image of the figures is as following - 1990-1992 - 2 million people (27%), 1995-1997 -2.1 million (27%), 2003-2005 - 1 million (12%).

    According to the report today 963 million people of the world suffer from starvation. 26% of people don't manage to feed their families as needed.

    Taner Akcam Appointed Chair At Clark University's Strassler Center For Holocaust And Genocide Studies 12.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ Turkish scholar Taner Akcam has been appointed Chair at Clark University's Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Armeni?°n Mirror Spectator reports.

    Akcam, who is moving from the University of Minnesota to Worcester, Mass., in June, in preparation for taking up his new position in September, said, "Ever since 1976, when I was a teaching assistant at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, it was my dream to become a scholar, to go to Europe or the US and get my PhD. I was arrested and my life changed, but in the 1980s, I committed myself [to this goal]. I have worked very hard to be where I am, and I am very happy about the appointment and that I have realized my dream." Because Akcam is Turkish and will teach, among other subjects, a course on the Armenian Genocide, his appointment in some circles is bound to be considered controversial, but Akcam sees it as the result of a normal process that has opened the field to non-Armenian scholars.

    Akcam has lived outside of Turkey since 1978, first as a political refugee. He later came to the United States and has taught in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota since 2002. He last visited Turkey in 2007 for the funeral of his close friend, Hrant Dink, the Turkish-Armenian journalist and editor of Agos, who was assassinated in Istanbul in front of his newspaper office.

    Akcam has filed a lawsuit in the European Court to completely rescind Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code, which imposes harsh penalties on those whose views are seen as "insulting Turkishness," for example, mentioning the Armenian Genocide. Although Turkey has recently passed amendments to soften the penalties, Akcam will not withdraw his suit. "Nothing has been decided yet," he said. "Of course, the European Court might use the Turkish amendments as a reason to drop the case."

    Whisper Bloody Murder? By Paul Sookiasian, http://www.keghart.com/op158.htm , December 5, 2008

    Less than a month ago news started coming across the wires that surprised many in the Armenian-American community. A CNN press release said that it would be airing a program by their respected correspondent Christiane Amanpour, entitled, "Scream Bloody Murder," which would deal with the lack of response to genocides of the 20th century. The release specifically mentioned Armenia as one of the cases of genocide it would be examining.

    This naturally created some excitement that finally a major news organization would be dedicating a program partly to the so often overlooked Armenian Genocide of 1915 and inform a nationwide audience about it. Word was spread by phone and internet with many Armenian-Americans excited that the mainstream media would finally take a look at our forgotten genocide.

    Personally, I was a little suspicious and the day before the showed aired I found out through a source that, as I had suspected, the total time dedicated to the Armenian Genocide in this two hour program would be 45 seconds. However the many other Armenians who did not know this went into the show expecting at long last some serious interest in the plight of their ancestors from one of these many 20th century genocides. They must have been sorely disappointed. Before the show had even ended people I know were angrily posting messages20of shock and disappointment that something billed as a documentary about genocide, inclusive of the Armenian case, would dedicate large portions of time to all the other cases but less than a fleeting minute to Armenia.

    What's so interesting is the title of the CNN show to begin with invokes the imagery of screaming and talked to those who screamed about genocide, a notion identical to that of Carla Garapedian's Armenian Genocide documentary "Screamers". This idea of screaming about genocide to make it known was originated by Harvard scholar Dr. Samantha Power in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book "A Problem from Hell". She was featured in "Screamers" and it is hard to think that the CNN special was not at least in part inspired by Power's work based on this similarity. It bares mentioning that Power dedicated a chapter of her book on genocide to the Armenian Genocide and so one can assume that if put in charge of planning "Scream Bloody Murder" she would have found it worthy of much more screen time than 45 seconds. This is not to say that CNN should be condemned for mentioning the Armenian Genocide, but the off-handed manner in which 1915 gets mentioned (despite Armenia having been prominently billed as one of the documentary's subjects in the original press release) when the other examples of genocide each received on average the space of time through two commercial breaks seems to imply it is a les ser example or somehow not central to the subject of genocide.

    Flying in the face of this conception though is the fact mentioned in the documentary that 1915 inspired Lemkin to coin the word genocide and really got him thinking about the crime in the first place. As one can see in the documentary Screamers or Power's book, there was no lack of screaming going on in the Armenian case either. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's story is a now legendary example of someone who stood up to the very face of genocide and tried to scream about it to the world. This screaming reached its way to the top, as evidenced by this article regarding Secretary of State at the time William Jennings Bryan, but unfortunately it couldn't be stopped. Other screamers included Consul Leslie A. Davis who told tales of genocide which sound frighteningly similar to those which occurred later in Rwanda and Cambodia as mentioned in "Scream Bloody Murder". Even though the Armenian Genocide is over its effect and the fact it is unrecognized by Turkey still resound today in the highest levels of world affairs, geopolitics, and is quite relevant to our world today even though it is almost a hundred years in the past. Just a few years ago former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans was fired by the State Department for screaming proper recognition of the genocide. This story compliments those mentioned by CNN, such as that of Canadian general in Rwanda Romeo Dallaire, of those who screamed and paid the price (and is a unique twist in that this scream was so long after the genocide happened as opposed to while it was going on).

    Despite being largely overlooked, the Armenian Genocide was even referenced in the Genocide Convention covered by Amanpour as having finally put into law the crime of genocide. While it is too late now to go back and create a new segment on the Armenian Genocide to place in the already aired documentary, that does not mean CNN has no way of rectifying this error. I had been feeling hopeful about the documentary and might have given it more of a pass on this omission until I saw this interactive map on the section of Scream Bloody Murder section of CNN's website about the world's killing fields. It appears that despite the fact when it had first been announced Armenia was prominently mentioned as one of the examples of genocide that would be covered, it failed to even be pinpointed on the interactive map as an example of genocide. This is a very strange thing to ponder since one would assume if the Armenian Genocide is mentioned in the promotional material it'd be listed on this interactive map. This seems to compound the insult of being only mentioned for 45 seconds in the documentary to being completely forgotten on their world map of genocides and makes me question what went on behind the sc enes. Perhaps they found it too provocative to pinpoint a NATO ally such as Turkey and decided that since marking the Armenian Genocide would mean marking Turkey it'd be best to just leave Armenia off despite the fact it is even mentioned in the documentary? Despite the fact it says almost nothing about the Armenian Genocide, Scream Bloody Murder hasn't gone unnoticed in Turkey after all, as this Turkish newspaper article from Hurriyet yesterday makes clear: "Genocide feature worrisome"

    Whatever the case, this oversight is extremely unfortunate and Armenians and Americans alike should take CNN to task. American officials were the first to scream out in the 20th century - a proud fact swept under the rug.

    Besides letting CNN know they should have paid more attention to the original example of 20th century genocide in their documentary, it can show its good faith immediately by placing the Armenian Genocide on their website's interactive map as it deserves. For an otherwise well-done documentary on the importance of screaming bloody murder whenever and wherever it happens, this blank spot over Turkey doubles as a shameful and bloody stain

    To write to CNN, or to post your question for Christiane Amanpour, take action here:

    Amanpour Screams 'Bloody Murder' But Not about Armenian Genocide

    By Ara Khachatourian, Asbarez.com, 4 December 2008

    A powerful documentary entitled "Scream Bloody Murder anchored by Christiane Amanpour premiering on CNN today (9 p.m. ET/PT) offers a gripping look at Genocide throughout history and those who witnessed and warned a deaf world about such atrocities, but neglects to mention the Armenian Genocide as the first such event that prompted Raphael Lemkin to coin the phrase.

    The documentary begins with the roots of the word Genocide and chronicles the stormy conflicts within Lemkin, who, as Amanpour puts it, was affected by the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks and was prompted to coin the phrase Genocide. In the almost 90-minute press screener, the Armenian Genocide was mentioned for about 45 seconds as an anecdotal reference to Lemkin's struggle for human justice. Using photographs now familiar to all Armenians and possibly obtained from Armin T. Wegner Collection, Amanpour illustrates the horror of the Armenian Genocide but does not delve into it in as in-depth and compelling manner as she does the other instances of Genocide.

    Throughout the program, Amanpour "reveals stories of those who tried to stop genocide," as the CNN press information describes it and discusses the horrific stories of Genocide with "heroes who witnessed evil-- and 'screamed bloody murder' for the international community to stop it.

    Amanpour and CNN should be applauded for the in-depth look at Genocide, from the Holocaust to the killing fields of Cambodia, to I raq, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Darfur the horror of it all is told with searing images and graphic eyewitness accounts.

    To bring attention to Genocide, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the adoption of UN Convention of Genocide and Human Rights, authored by Lemkin, is an important accomplishment, one that also asks the hard question of why the world did (does) not interfere when it has a moral obligation.

    Amanpour adeptly clarifies the political machinations behind the response--or lack thereof--by the US in all instances featured in the report and wonders, at the end, whether others who "scream bloody murder" will be heard. One wonders, however, if Amanpour heard the screams of Henry Morgenthau, the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time of the Armenian Genocide, who along with Elie Wiesel, Father Francois Ponchaud, Peter Galbraith, Richard Holbrook, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire and others who bore witness to such unspeakable atrocities and whose warnings prompted action but not soon enough to save millions of lives.

    Perhaps, the Armenian community can now prompt CNN, as it did eight years ago ABC News and its venerable anchor the late Peter Jennings to take a closer look at the first Genocide of the 20th Century.

    Amanpour's "Scream Bloody Murder" is an important piece of journalism as it asks the very critical questions that could have prevented so many acts of Geno cide. In its reporting, Amanpour is also very adept at pointing to US complicity in all these events, much like Samantha Power was in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide."

    "Scream Bloody Murder" anchored by CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour airs on CNN Thursday at 9 p.m.

    Eastern/Pacific, with an encore at midnight Eastern and Pacific.

    1) Post your question on CNN iReport

    Ask Christiane Amanpour a question about this serious shortcoming in her documentary through CNN iReport,

    an interactive feature that allows you to post video and text viewable by the millions of visitors to CNN's website. Your posting will also be searchable on Google News.

    posting commenting on "Scream Bloody Murder".

    2) Write directly to CNN's editors
    Send a free ANCA WebFax to CNN's leadership pointing out this shortcoming and asking them to address this gap in their reporting in future coverage of genocide-related issues.

    Democracy On The Level Of Yerevan Lilit Poghosyan, Hayots Ashkharh Daily, 11 Dec 2008, Armenia

    Paruyr Hayrikyan Proposes

    Parliamentary hearings were held in the National Assembly yesterday, prior to the second reading of the bill on "The Local Self-Governance and Territorial Administration".

    Why should the Major of Yerevan be elected by the internal representative body, in the person of the council of the aldermen, and not by the citizens of Yerevan? Why should we pin our hopes upon indirect elections, if we can do it directly, that is to say by way of direct elections? Why should they restrict the entry of the political forces to the parliament?

    Is it right to define 100% proportional election system for the formation of the council of aldermen and to deprive the individual citizens from nominating their candidacy? Are we not humiliating the institute of the aldermen by defining that the Major is competent to dissolve this representative instance, any time?

    In response to our questions leader of "National Self-Determination Union", participant of the inter-party discussions Paruyr Hayrikyan expresses his viewpoint.

    "In general the legislative body, in this case the Parliament of Yerevan, is established as a representative body, not to be interested in the contents of law, but to be guided by principles.

    It is evident that the main forces involved in th e elaboration of this bill are interested in this law, that is to say they wrote the bill for themselves, but it must have been for Yerevan and the citizens of Yerevan. This is the main issue.

    According to the new Constitution Yerevan has become a Community and we already have a tradition of forming communities, even if not perfect, still a tradition, according to which the head of the community is elected by direct elections. Whereas alderman is not a separate organizational unit.

    Its activity is guided by the leaders of the communities. Consequently that representative body can't be counterbalance and supervise it. That is to say the mechanism of the counterbalance doesn't work perfectly.

    Yerevan is becoming a community. And we are annihilating the existing mechanism of counterbalance instead of making it perfect. The representative body, the council of the aldermen, elects the Major. This doesn't contribute to the development of democracy.

    It is quite unacceptable to artificially give 20% more to the electoral unit. It is also very strange that they create lots of obstacles. If it is a representative body so why do they create obstacles for them.

    For instance 9 parties can obtain 20% votes, but because this is not enough to overcome the minimum barrier they will not have a representative in the parliament of Yerevan. And on the contrary, one party gets 20% and the votes of all the other parties, which failed will pass to them. This is not a healthy approach."

    "What do you propose instead?"

    "Our stance is clear. The Major of Yerevan is elected by direct elections, in parallel with the elections of the council of the aldermen.

    The electoral units must participate in the elections of the aldermen, which are: the parties, the unions, and the citizens.

    Those who got maximum votes gain seats in the parliament and they elect their Speaker. The latter heads the activity of the aldermen with his/her staff.

    Each member of the parliament votes according to the votes he/she has obtained. If someone participates in the elections and obtains 40 thousand votes, the other electoral unit - party, obtains 60 thousand votes and three people gain seats in the parliament, each of them will have 20 thousand votes. This is what we call ideal democracy. Each voting turns into a referendum, with the involvement of Yerevan -and the decisions are made by the ratio of not 33 for, 32 against, but 400 thousand for, 350 thousand against. Thus the parliament of Yerevan becomes a perfect representative body."

    "Life shows that in countries like ours each election turns into a trouble for our society. Why should we hold elections every year and create tension in the political circles?"

    "If you subordinate the idea of democracy to your own considerations,20 this means you are not honest. Democracy is an absolute value. And if you don't see progress this doesn't mean that you must give up, on the contrary you must try more and more.

    And if you are elected for 2 years, you feel less tension. And in case you are not elected you will not protest, you will think, "Ok I will try next time".

    Turkish Tzugtzwang , Vardan Grigoryan, Hayots Ashkharh Daily, 11 Dec 2008

    The Armenian and Turkish intellectuals' recent statements over the recognition of the Armenian Genocide bring the official Ankara face-to-face with serious problems.

    The official circles of Turkey seemed to be accustomed to the situation of constantly opposing the official Yerevan's appeals of starting a dialogue and restoring the relationship without preconditions. And every time, they invented new and new fantastic preconditions for Armenia. Now, however, neither the Turkish nor the Armenian intellectuals have advanced any concrete issue of interstate importance so as to give Ankara the opportunity of "bargaining".

    On the contrary, both parties have put the emphasis on the Armenian Genocide, an irrefutable fact that has separated the two peoples from each other.

    Moreover, the Turkish intellectuals have already recognized the fact; they have apologized to the Armenians and called on our people to join them. As to the representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia, they have addressed their demand to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, one of the vanguards striving for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.

    Of course, we may have no hopes and illusions as far as Gul is concerned, because expressing the official stance of his country A. Gul will either tr y to act from the vulnerable positions of those denying the Armenian Genocide or will just have to remain silent. In both cases, the Turkish leader will be "down in the dumps" because he is used to adorning himself with the laurels of the champion of "friendship" and "dialogue".

    Moreover, unlike Armenia and the Armenian society which are unanimous in their assessments of the fact of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish society has found itself entangled in internal discontent and debates. The nationalistic circles condemn the bold step undertaken by intellectuals like Baksyn Oran, whereas the official Ankara still remains silent. Because to speak would mean to equalize oneself with Devlet Bahcheli and the "grey wolves", and to remain silent would mean to arouse doubts among the latter.

    But the time passes and the inauguration of the US President and the winter session of Congress are drawing near. Naturally, instead of starting idle talks about the friendly relations between the Armenians and the Turks, they expect the Turkish President to undertake concrete steps towards lifting the blockade of Armenia and establishing diplomatic ties with our country.

    Whereas the Armenian side has no reason for making haste, therefore it isn't going to agree with the preconditions proposed by Turkey.

    Therefore, during his upcoming visit to Israel, Abdullah Gul will try to receive20the support of the Jewish lobby of the United States so as to suspend the process of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Calculated to talk President-elect Barack Obama out of his intentions, such plans are undoubtedly conditioned by the expectations from Ram Emmanuel, candidate for the Head of the Presidential staff, and other figures representing the Jewish lobby.

    We believe that an increased number of appeals and declarations demanding that Turkey recognize the Armenian Genocide may be strictly important for the present moment. It's time the Armenian intellectuals of the Diaspora addressed such Declarations to Turkey and the pro-Armenian figures of Europe, United States and Russia. During the upcoming months, it will be necessary to put the Turkish leaders under a propaganda pressure, so as they will not be able to even think about applying their primitive propaganda tools against Armenia.

    Furthermore, while writing such appeals or declarations, it is necessary to forget about the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border or the establishment of diplomatic ties without any preconditions. These are issues to be tackled only by the diplomats of the given countries, because whenever being transferred to the political domain, such issues are obviously speculated by Turkey. It is necessary to hit the target that can make Turkey vulnerable and force the country to change its current hostile policy in relation to Armenia.

    In the course of the upcoming months, it will be necessary to raise the issue of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide on international arenas and in the pages of the press. And after all, the American President is required to keep the promise he gave the American-Armenians and start a process of collecting appeals and declarations and organize rallies and marches.

    The Turkish leaders should direct their persistent attempts of pretending a dialogue against the official Ankara and mount a strong wave of protest with a demand of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

    'I Want To See Justice': Armenian Genocide Survivor Brings History Alive For Wilmington Students By Debbie Swanson, Lowell Sun
    December 11, 2008 Massachusetts

    WILMINGTON -- The students sat transfixed as their 100-year-old guest, Vergin Mazmanian, shared her story.

    "When I was a child, my mother made our clothing. I was 7 years old, and she was making me a red outfit to wear to my first day of school," she began, then paused. "That day never came."

    She went on to describe how the Ottoman army arrived before daylight, rounded up Christian Armenians from their homes, and forced them to begin a death march wearing only the clothes on their backs.

    She was one of them.

    Mazmanian, now a resident of Arlington, is a survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. She will turn 101 in February and is on a mission to spread her story.

    She visited seniors in the Facing History and Ourselves class -- an interdisciplinary approach of English and history -- at Wilmington High yesterday. She was accompanied by her pastor, Rev. Vasken A. Kouzouian, of the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Cambridge.

    Mazmanian told stories of hunger, suffering and leaving family members by the side of the road to die. She talked of her years in an orphanage, where she was ultimately taken at the end of the march. She lived there until she was taken in by a foster family and flown to the United States.

    She never saw her home again.

    "Her story takes these events out of the textbook -- they are no longer just literal words on a page. We could see the horrors she saw," said student Mario Martins.

    Classmate Joe Castiglia agreed.

    "We could look into her eyes, hear what she has seen and witnessed," he said.

    Mazmanian credits her solid faith in God for getting her through the hardships and for blessing her with so many years.

    "So many have died, but I am still here. Why? It is because I have more to do. I have to share my story as often as I can. Those people who died are not forgotten. ... Their deaths aren't in vain," she said.

    Her chief concern is that many countries, including the United States, do not officially recognize what her people went through as genocide. Yet the Armenian Genocide, which commenced on April 24, 1915, is blamed for between 1 million and 1.5 million deaths.

    "What I am waiting for is a gift," she said. "Ninety-three years is long enough (to wait). I want to see justice."

    Rev. Kouzouian nodded.

    "She talks of this gift often," he added. "She wants to see the U.S. government recognize what happened."

    The students in the class, which is co-taught by Lisa Lucia and Maura Tucker, are hoping to help make that happen. They videotaped her presentation, plan to add student commentary, and send it to President-elect Barack Obama.

    "One thing this class taught us is how to make noise to get things done," said student Brianna Brown.

    Making noise is one of the lessons Lucia and Tucker are hoping their students take from the class, which uses case studies to examine crimes against humanity in the 20th and 21st centuries.

    "In preparation for Ms. Mazmanian's visit, we researched and discussed the Armenian genocide and made posters petitioning the U.S. and others who don't recognize what happened," said Lucia. "These posters, hung all around the school, have created awareness and conversations."

    The posters dotting the hallways carry messages such as "History does not fade away" and "Denial is killing twice."

    "We look at the role of ordinary citizens and consider what we can do today to prevent these crimes from happening again," said Lucia.

    Other visitors to the classroom have included survivors from Cambodia, Rwanda and the Holocaust. Students also painted symbols of hope to send to the people of Darfur, in war-torn Sudan, and will study the situation there later in the semester.

    "Events like this visit have put a face to the textbook stories," said student Joe Giorlando.

    Classmate Erin McMahon agrees. "It makes these things much more personal. ... It gives you a drive to take action."

    Turkey To Open Armenian Language Department At Universities www.worldbulletin.net, Dec 11 2008

    Turkey took one more step to boost relaiton with Armenia since President Gul visited Armenia in September.

    Turkey took one more step to boost relaiton with Armenia since Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Armenia in September for football match.

    Turkey's Higher Board of Education (YOK) contributed to Armenia move which was initiated with a soccer match between national teams of Turkey and Armenia.

    YOK will open Armenian language and literature department at universities in Turkey next year. Trakya and Nevsehir universities will accept a total of 40 students to that department, reported Anadolu Agency.

    Also Bogazici University has been teaching Armenian language as an elective course since last year.

    Digitalization Of Documents And Films In National Archive ArmeniaPanorama.am 11/12/2008

    "We have already started to digitalize of documents and films, our employees are responsible for that, they do it via scanners. But I can not say how much we have done," said Amatuni Virabyan, the director of National Archive to Panorama.am. According to him 72mln AMD has been disposed by the state budget to buy new equipments for digitalization.

    Regarding the films, Mr. Amatuni said: "We try to get experienced first digitalizing those films which are not so important."

    There are more than 3.5mln. materials in the National Archive -records, photo materials, films, etc.

    "Information Wars" International Conference Dedicated To 90th Anniversary Of "Armenpress" News Agency To Be Held In Yerevan, Armenpress, Dec 11, 2008

    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 11, ARMENPRESS: International Conference "Information Wars" dedicated to the 90th anniversary of "Armenpress" news agency will be conducted in Yerevan December 18-19 organized by the state commission of 90th anniversary of "Armenpress", YSU Department of Journalism and "Armenpress" news agency.

    Heads of leading foreign news agencies as well as heads of Armenian mass media will participate and deliver speeches at the conference. Particularly heads of Russian ITAR-TASS, Georgian HGN, Belarus' BELTA, Ukrainian Ukrinform, Moldavian MOLDPRES, Bulgaria's BTA news agencies will refer in their speeches to the contemporary methods of information wars, their peculiarities, goals and their impact on public opinion.

    Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly's Science, Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs permanent commission Armen Ashotian, deputy foreign minister of Armenia Arman Kirakosian, general director of "Armrusgasard" Karen Karapetian, chairman of the Armenian Union of Manufacturers and Businessmen Arsen Ghazarian, director of "Noravank" scientific-educational foundation Gagik Harutyunian, director of Microsoft RA Grigor Barseghian, head of public relations service of "ArmenTel" company Anush Beghloyan, head of the IREX-Armenian Mass Media Support Program Robert Evans, YSU professors, experts will deliver speeches at the event.

    Within the frameworks of the conference "90 Years with Armenia" photo exhibition will kick off.

    The foreign participants will have meetings with heads of a number of ministries and business institutions.

    As part of celebrations dedicated to the 90th anniversary of "Armenpress" a number of other events are also expected to be held.

    Russia, Argentina And Lebanon Are Biggest Investors In Armenia
    YEREVAN, DECEMBER 11, NOYAN TAPAN. Out of foreign investments of a total of 805 million 341.3 thousand USD in the real sector of Armenian economy in January-September 2008, Russia was the leader that made investments of 567 mln 853.2 thousand USD, which exceeded 3.2fold the index of the same period of last year.

    According to the RA National Statistical Service, Argentina made investments of 78 mln 983.3 thousand USD in the first nine of 2008 (3.1fold growth on January-September 2007), while Lebanon's investments amounted to 28 mln 995.3 thousand USD (78.4% decline).

    Among other big investors in the real sector of Armenian economy were Cyprus - 8 mln 655.1 thousand USD (31.8% decline), France -12 mln 928.3 thousand USD (0.7% decline), the U.S. - 21 mln 895.8 thousand USD (2.6% growth), Germany - 23 mln 707.6 thousand USD (16.2% growth), Luxemburg - 10 mln 210 thousand USD (4.2fold growth), Liechtenstein - 24 mln USD (no investments were made by this country in January-September 2007), Australia - 6 mln 649.7 thousand USD (63.9% decline), the UK - 1 mln 945.4 thousand USD (82.8% decline), the Netherlands - 2 mln 621.3 thousand USD (64.2% decline), and Belgium -2 mln 608 thousand USD (12.7fold decline).

    Russia's investments in communication sector amounted to 150 mln 587.5 thousand USD, in metallurgy - 23 mln 385.3 thousand USD, in production and distribution of power, gas, hot water and steam - 225 mln 762.2 thousand USD, in provision of other types of services to consumers -18 mln 409 thousand USD, in recreational sector - 6 mln 161.8 thousand USD, in provision of personal services - 3 mln 637.7 thousand USD, and in land transport sector - 136 mln 330 thousand USD.

    Argentina invested 48 mln 698.1 thousand USD in air transport sector, 8 mln 611.5 thousand USD - in auxiliary and additional transport activity, and 21 mln 673.6 thousand USD - in agriculture.

    Labanon made investments of 28 mln 659.6 thousand USD in communication sector. Cyprus invested 8 mln 526.8 thousand USD in mining industry. France made investments in food industry, including production of drinks.

    Out of the investments made by the U.S, 10 mln 577 thousand USD was spent on computer engineering-related activity, 3 mln 789.9 thousand USD - on research and decelopments, 3 mln 763.4 thousand USD - in the sector of hotel and restaurant services, and 3 mln 183.9 thousand USD -on provision of other services to consumers.

    Germany made investments in mining industry, Australia invested in metal ore mining. Luxemburg made investments in food industry, including production of drinks, while Liechtenstein invested in metallurgy.

    In January-September 2008, the UK made investments of 908.6 thousand USD in publishing, printing, and information carrier copying, and 767 thousand USD - in production of rubber and elastic goods.

    Armenian Community Largest In Turkey , 13.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The minority population of Turkey as defined by the 1923 Lausanne Treaty stands at a diminished 89,000, according to a new report by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and submitted to Parliament. The report, which the Daily News learned of Friday, was submitted to the Parliament's Human Rights Commission in November, Hurriyet Daily News reports.

    While Greeks are the smallest minority group, Armenians are the largest with a population of 60,000. Aside from the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, Armenians have 55 churches open for worship as well as a kindergarten, 17 primary schools, 5 high schools and 2 hospitals. There are also 52 Armenian foundations currently operating in Turkey.

    Jewish citizens follow Armenians with a population of around 25,000. They have 36 synagogues open for worship, a kindergarten, a primary school and a high school in Turkey. They also have 18 foundations and two hospitals.

    This definition was made in the Lausanne Treaty in 1923 at the behest of Western powers and obligated the new Turkish Republic to acknowledge the special status of these groups. Some small groups, notably the Ancient Syriac Orthodox community, rejected the status at the time as divisive and remained outside the legal definition. The Jewish community also rejected portions of the Lausanne designation as a violation of social cohesion. Reflecting the sensibilities of the time, Lausanne regarded all Muslims of Turkey as a single "majority." The Constitution, however, does not recognize religious or ethnic affiliation in defining citizenship. The word "Turk," while regarded in some quarters as an ethnic label, does not under the law mean anything more than a person of Turkish citizenship.

    Appeals For Genocide Recognition: Intellectuals In Armenia, Turkey Address 1915 Events ,By Gayane Mkrtchyan
    As the world marked the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide on December 9, a group of nearly 300 Armenian intellectuals and public figures sent an open letter to Turkish President Abdullah Gul urging him to acknowledge the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

    "The new situation formed in the South Caucasus as a result of the latest events, the bold step of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to invite you to Yerevan and the meeting held reaffirm that establishing good-neighborly relations between Armenia and Turkey requires courageous and realistic solutions. First of all we face the knotty issue of the Armenian Genocide," the letter said.

    In their letter prominent Armenian writers, musicians and artists and other representatives of the intelligentsia say the modern Turkish state is the successor of Ottoman Turkey which was responsible for genocide committed against the Armenian people.

    "Your generation of Turkish leaders must accept the undeniable truth and recognize the fact of the Armenian Genocide. We think this is first of all necessary for the Turkish people. Thus it will get rid of the burden of history and will stand with clear conscience next to other states. Only this way it is possible to close this page of history and make bold steps towards the future. Only in that case can there be a sincere dialogue and a process of real reconciliation between our peoples," the letter emphasized.

    Armenia and Turkey have seen a dramatic thaw in their historically strained relations in the past several months driven by the so-called 'soccer diplomacy' when President Sargsyan in September invited his counterpart Gul to Yerevan to watch together a World Cup qualifier between the two countries' national soccer teams.

    Gul's visit was followed by a series of meetings between representatives of the two states that have a closed border and no diplomatic relations. Negotiations over future relations in particular have been conducted by the two countries' foreign ministers.

    As many as 135 countries, including Turkey, have so far signed the United Nations genocide convention.

    The successive governments in Ankara, however, have strongly denied that the killings and deportations of Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century constituted genocide.

    Pakrat Estukian, the editor of the Istanbul-based bilingual (Armenian-Turkish) newspaper, Agos, said visiting Yerevan this week that the collection of signatures to the petition of a group of Turkish intellectuals (who on December 5 publicly apologized for what they described as a "great disaster" that befell the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority and urged their fellow Turks to follow suit) would be continued for a year. According to him, each of the signatories of the petition had been under no pressure to take the step, which they made only "listening to the voice of their conscience." ARMENIANOW.COM

    Osman Koker: Armenians Were The Pride Of Ottoman Empire 12.12.2008
    /PanARMENIAN.Net/ The history of one nation – Turks – has been always studied in Turkey. Sometimes, there is an impression that no other nation ever lived in this country, a Turkish historian and author said.

    “Turks used to eye Armenians not as a part of the society but as a source of problems. So, to fill the gap in the Turkish history, I decided to publish this book,” Osman Koker said in Yerevan today when presenting ‘Armenians in Turkey 100 years ago’ collection of postcards and photos telling about the life of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire before 1914.

    “According to the census of enumeration of 1914, some 1.5 million Armenians (9,37% of the population) lived in the Ottoman Empire. In 1927, there were 100 thousand Armenians (0,73%); in 1965, the number reduced to 80 thousand (0,025%); in 2008, there are 60 Armenians (0,08%) in Turkey,” he said.

    “When I started collecting postcards I found out that there are archives throughout the globe. But I had the fortune to meet with renowned collector Orlando Carlo Calumeno, who had over 8000 postcards of the Ottoman era. Thanks to him, I organized an exhibit in Istanbul, and then in Germany, France and Switzerland. Many in Turkey slammed my idea. It’s clear why. Armenians had had a significant role in economic and cultural life of the Empire for 500 years. Renowned architect Sinan was an Armenian, the fact that is hushed up and even denied in Turkey,” Mr. Koker said.

    Armenians were the pride of the Ottoman Empire. There were 47 Armenian churches, 67 schools and 158 newspapers in Istanbul before 1914. Tokatlyan Hotels resounded through the world; the art of carpet weaving [Turkish carpets which made the major part of the Empire’s export] was introduced by Armenians. Another fact which is still hushed up in the Turkish history is that the first congress of Kemalists took place in Erzrum, in Sanasaryan Armenian school on June 23, 1918,” he said, adding that 80% of Turkish trade and industry was owned by Armenians.

    Is Human Life More Valuable In Greece?

    We have been following the incidents that broke out after the police shot to kill 15-year-old Andreas Grigolopoulos in the Greek capital Athens.

    I was in the Spanish city of Barcelona when the shooting took place. Spanish television covered the details of the riots for a couple of days. The holiday is over so I returned home. But as far as I can see, the incidents in Athens are spreading around; even the Greek Embassy in Beyoğlu was involved. The walls of the Şişmanoğlu Manor hosting the Greek Embassy were painted red by some youngsters protesting the shooting in Athens. Windows of the Consul General’s vehicle were broken.

    Our book of shame
    Riots by young people, who are called "anarchists" in Athens yet I preferred to name them protesters, who are demonstrating against the police shooting to kill, spread into Thessaloniki, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Bologna and Sophia. The Grigolopoulos case in Athens is important for us from a few angles.

    The number of people who died in Turkey as a result of police shooting since the beginning of the year exceeds 20, most of whom were young people such as Baran Tursun in İzmir and Çağdaş Gemik in Antalya, who were shot by the police for not stopping when they were asked to do so.

    When you look at the pages of the "book of shame" in Turkey you run a cross the 12-year-old Uğur Kaymaz who was killed together with his father in Mardin’s Kızıltepe district by police shooting. I even do not count the tortures at police stations that were revealed lately.

    Can you tell me in which of these incidents people took to the streets, regardless of if they are anarchists? Could this refractory period be named "social apathy?" The state insensitivity is also at issue in Turkey. Two police officers who shot at Grigolopoulos in Greece were arrested. The Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Konstantin Karamanlis who made a public apology regarding the incidents.

    Where were you?
    If I am not mistaken, none of the policemen who caused the deaths of youngsters in Turkey were arrested. The state institutions excessively defend the police, let alone their detention.

    We didn’t hear a public apology from Mr. Prime Minister over the deaths of these young people; neither have we witnessed the resignation of a minister due to such incidents. No one is taking to the streets, no one apologizes and no one resigns over similar cases.

    So riots setting human life at naught continue to occur. Let’s go back to the beginning. "Social apathy" and "state insensitivity" nurture each other. When we learn to take to the streets to say "No" to injustice and unfairness, state institutions will perhaps learn to appreciate human life. By the way, let me tell you that I found it odd to see young people protesting in front of the Greek Embassy in Beyoğlu. Where were you all while Tursun and Gemik were shot to death by the police?

    Gila Benmayor , © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet

    France: Kidnapping Of A Turk By Alleged Members Of The PKK 13 December 2008 by Stéphane / armenews
    Anti-terrorism prosecutors in Paris opened an investigation into the abduction on December 7 near the French capital of a young Turk by two people suspected of belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), reported Thursday a record.

    The young woman, aged 21, was abducted on a street in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, a town north of Paris, by a man and a woman armed, "said this source.

    One hour after the woman was taken to a car, according to witnesses, to an unknown destination, his family received a phone call from a man suggesting that it was the PKK Kurdish separatist movement.

    No ransom demand has been sent to the family, a judicial source said.

    Considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States, the PKK since 1984 leading an armed struggle for autonomy in south-eastern Turkey mostly inhabited by Kurds. The conflict has killed about 44,000, according to official figures.

    Another Turkish Writer On Trial Under Article 301 12 December 2008
    Turkish writer Temel Demirer, on trial under Article 301, cliamed that Turkish Minister of Justice Mehmet Aki Sahin, who had given permission for the trial, has been distorting his words. Demirer is accused of :denigrating the Turkish Republic” and “Inciting to hatred and hostility” for sting that Hrant Dink had been murdered not only for being Armenia but for recognizing the genocide as well. The Justice Minister had claimed that Demirer’s words were inviting everyone to commit crime against the state by calling the state a murderer and having a negative influence on people. The writer, who faces two years imprisonment, claims that the minister’s latest statement does not reflect reality becausewhat he said wasn’t merely apersonal reflection, but actual facts within their historical context and the state was disturbed by this.

    The Turkish Justice Minister had previously stated that, “They do not pay attention to the things this person has been saying, but when a lawsuit is filed they feel sorry for him. This person said that Turkey was a murderous state. He says the Turkish state first murdered the Armenians and will now murder the Kurds. Sorry, but I cannot let anyone call my state a murderous state. This is not freedom of expression. This is what this article describes as the crime of insulting the person of the state.”

    Obama Gets Guidelines On Genocide James Reinl, United Nations Correspondent December 10. 2008
    NEW YORK // A new report focused on preventing genocide can guide the incoming Obama administration on tackling mass atrocities in such trouble spots as Darfur and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), former senior US officials say.

    A document compiled by a group that includes Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state, urges Barack Obama, the president-elect, to establish a genocide early warning system and not to shirk from using military force to prevent atrocities.

    “There are a broad range of foreign policy options between standing aside and ordering in the marines,” Ms Albright told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

    “The more diligent we are in detecting and addressing potential problems the more favourable our options will be.”

    The report draws from experiences gained in Rwanda and Bosnia, where atrocities occurred while Ms Albright served under Bill Clinton, while pointing towards current crises in Darfur and the DRC.

    Omar al Bashir, Sudan’s president, faces allegations of instructing his forces to wipe out ethnic groups in the western Darfur region, where 300,000 people have died since Feb 2003.

    Mr Obama’s transitional team has welcomed the 147-page report, titled ‘Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for US Policymakers’. The president-elect has already spoken of “setting up a no-fly zone at relatively little cost” to prevent Sudan’s air force from bombing villages.

    Several Obama appointees have taken hardline positions on Darfur, including Susan Rice, the UN ambassador-designate, and Hillary Clinton, who has been nominated as secretary of state.

    Ms Albright was joined by her colleague from the Genocide Prevention Task Force, William Cohen, the US defence secretary under Mr Clinton, to launch the report on the 60th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

    The anniversary was also marked by a public letter addressed to world leaders and signed by 24 survivors of the Holocaust and mass-slaughters in Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan.

    The letter was co-ordinated by the Genocide Prevention Project and was released alongside a watch list of countries at risk of atrocities.

    “The best way to stop genocide is to prevent it from happening,” said Jill Savitt, the project’s executive director. “We need a new framework, one focused on working, aggressively and proactively, to avert mass atrocities at the earliest stages – before the killing on a mass scale begins.”

    The list highlights 33 nations where ethnic cleansing, genocide and other war crimes are taking place or likely to occur. Those at greatest risk are Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The UN has asked for a European Union “bridging force” to bolster the struggling 17,000-strong blue helmet deployment, but EU ministers are split about how to respond.

    The UN and major nations were widely criticised for failing to act when ethnic rivalries spilt over into bloodshed in Rwanda in 1994 and Kosovo the following year.

    Ms Albright said failure in Rwanda “weighs very heavily” on the conscience of contemporary statesmen, but added that poor data about a rapidly emerging crisis impeded decision-makers.

    She recommends that Mr Obama establish a task force to meet regularly and monitor potential genocide hot spots in advance of bloodletting. The report also recommends that Congress provide US$250 million (Dh918m), “less than a dollar for every American each year”, for rapid use to deter genocide anywhere in the world.

    Navi Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she supported “systematic approaches and plans to prevent genocide” while scouring for “early warning signs” to predict violent outbreaks.

    Mr Cohen warned that mankind was witnessing an “era of great disorder” and advised the US and friendly powers to tackle genocide and other atrocities that spawn failed states and terrorist breeding grounds.

    But military chiefs remain loath to commit troops to tackle overseas atrocities unless they can ensure the mission is “well-defined, achievable, desirable… and, most importantly, has an exit strategy”, he said.



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