- Ankara Interested in Make-Up, Not Plastic Surgery By Khatchig Mouradian
- Artists Against Hatred, Animosity
- Letters from Istanbul About Apology Campaign By Ayse Gunaysu
- My Democracy, YouTube Democracy, and Turkish Democracy, Rode Out On A Rail By Andy Turpin
- Cheering and Hissing By Garen Yegparian
- `Odar' Connection in Our Midst By Tom Vartabedian
- Note To The Editor From Ara Sarafian
- Genie Is out of Bottle Turkish Intellectuals to Armenians: We Apologize By Khatchig Mouradian
- Paul Varadian's Unique Dining Experience With Turkish President Abdullah Gul In Istanbul
- "Sorry" Seems To Be Hardest Word: Turkish Elites Agonize Over Apology Campaign
- The Apologia of Genocide Recognition Sukru M. Elekdag
- Freedom For History by Jack Lang*
- Prosecutors Probe Apology Campaign
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- Turkish Court Launches Probe Into Apology Campaign To Armenia Hurriyet
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- Turkey: To Be Truly At Peace With Its History Etyen Mahçupyan
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- Turkey: "Breaking The Wall Of Denial & Shame"
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- Armenian Issue In Netherlands: Removal Of Three Turkish-Originated Mps From Candidacy List
Ankara Interested in Make-Up, Not Plastic Surgery By Khatchig Mouradian
Official Ankara's position regarding the apology campaign initiated by 200 intellectuals in Turkey in December 2008 was clear from the very beginning: The campaign is bad for Turkey and will also harm Turkey-Armenia dialogue, which has been making strides recently. Statements to this effect were made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, and Turkish army generals.
When the apology campaign was launched in December 2008, Erdogan said it amounted to `stirring up trouble, disturbing our peace and undoing the steps which have been taken.' He added, `If there is a crime, then those who committed it can offer an apology. My nation, my country has no such issue.'
Babacan, in turn, said, `This is a sensitive issue for Turkey. There is a negotiation process going on [with Armenia] ... This kind of debate is of no use to anyone especially at a time talks continue and it may harm the negotiation process.'
`We definitely think that what is done is not right. Apologizing is wrong and can yield harmful consequences,' said General Metin Gurak, the spokesperson for the General Staff, during a press conference. President Abdullah Gul was first playing the good cop: He spoke in defense of the initiative when it was first launched, saying that it was proof that democracy was thriving in Turkey. Yet, this simple statement was harshly criticized by the opposition in Turkey, and accusations flew from left and right. One parliament member `accused' Gul of having an Armenian mother. The President was quick to deny the allegation and start legal action against the person who threw it. He didn't bother to say, `My mother is not Armenian, but what if she were?' By taking the accusation as an insult, he essentially reinforced the racist prejudice in Turkey against Armenians. (It may be worth comparing this with the way then-presidential candidate Barack Obama handled allegations of being a Muslim, but I digress.)
Apparently, President Gul could not hold his good cop routine for more than two weeks. In early January, during an interview on the Turkish television channel ATV, Gul said the apology campaign would have a negative effect on the diplomatic efforts between the two countries. According to Gul, `When we examine the latest debates in terms of their results, I do not think they make a positive contribution.' He also said his previous statements were presented in a distorted way. So now it's official. There is consensus among the ruling party, the opposition and the army in Turkey that the apology campaign will have negative consequences on Turkey-Armenia dialogue.
The recent Turkey-Armenia dialogue that preceded and followed Gul's visit to Armenia in September 2008 did not address the root causes of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. It is being referred to as `Soccer Diplomacy' but it looks more like `Let's forget genocide, dispossession and 93 years of denial' diplomacy. Ankara has no intention to address some of the core issues anytime soon. Moreover, it is opposed to any civil society initiative to address - even in part - these issues.
Instead, Ankara wants to put heavy make-up on its face, hoping to hide its century-old scars. The calls by Turkish intellectuals for official Ankara to wash its face and get plastic surgery are yet to be heard.
Artists Against Hatred, Animosity
ISTANBUL - Arto Tunçboyacyyan, a famous musician and composer of Armenian origin who lives in the United States, and Ya?ar Kurt, who learned of his Armenian origins after the age of 40, have produced an album in Armenia giving messages 'against hate, animosity'
Artists against hatred, animosityThe paths of two Anatolian musicians crossed at Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. One is Arto Tunçboyacyyan, world famous musician and composer from the United States, and the other is Ya?ar Kurt, one of Turkey's most important musicians who learned from his great-uncle that he was of Armenian origin at the age of 40.
Kurt, who says it was a shock for him to learn the truth about his identity, went to Armenia in 2007 upon the invitation of Tunçboyacyyan to satisfy his curiosity about his culture, which he knew nothing about. At that time, the assassination of Hrant Dink, editor in chief for the Agos newspaper, occurred in Turkey. Having the sensitivity of a musician, Tunçboyacyyan composed "Nefrete ve Kine Kar?y" (Against Hatred and Animosity) and decided to start a joint project with Kurt as soon as they came together.
Tunçboyacyyan and Kurt have started recording with the Armenian Naval Band, which Tunçboyacyyan had formed a decade ago with other Armenian musicians, and completed an album that included the mentioned song. Tunçboyacyyan sang in Armenian and Kurt in Turkish. The duo recorded the album in a short period but met problems when they decided to release the album in Turkey.
Although they were covering for all the expenses, record companies were not into the idea of releasing "Nefret ve Kine Kar?y," according to Kurt. The duo did not give up hope and finally signed a contract with Arma Müzik. The album, which raises a voice against hatred and animosity in two languages, will be released in the coming days.
Kurt spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review and expressed his feelings. "Big pains were experienced in the past. Those pains influenced my life. I learned about my Armenian roots when I was 40. If we honestly want to reach the truth, as Turks and Armenians, we must eliminate hatred and animosity."
Confession of a great-uncle "We are from Rize, actually. My family always had considerable differences in their ways and traditions. Since my childhood I have found myself asking my family, 'Who are we?'" Kurt said. "Unfortunately, my questions remained unanswered."
Kurt said he was a fan of Tunçboyacyyan before they met in
Meanwhile, Kurt visited his great-uncle, who was in his 90s, and finally found answers about his identity, learning that his family was of Armenian origin.
His great-uncle summarized the matter with these words: "Actually our roots are from Van but during the events experienced back then our family were forced to migrate to the Black Sea. Some died on the way. Only our great-great grandfather could have managed to survive and he founded the family. But he had always lived by hiding his identity."
Although he received the answers he was looking for at the age of 40, the answers rocked Kurt at the core: "Identity and belonging are about knowing yourself; I have been kept away from that awareness."
Kurt said and described his meeting with Tunçboyacyyan as a great deal of luck. Kurt indicated the extreme importance of them completing such a big project in Armenia. "Neither of us were born in Armenia, our roots are Anatolian but we have done this from Armenia. Making this call from Armenia is as important as making it from Turkey."
Meaning of the rose on the album cover
Tunçboyacyyan and Kurt designed an interesting cover for the album, featuring a rose on it. "This rose represents the flower of peace the two nations should be offering to each other," said Kurt, concluding by expressing his opinions on President Abdullah Gül's visit to Armenia in September. "I thank Mr. Gül very much on that matter. This step was extremely necessary for ending the hatred and animosity and for the future of both nations." www.hurriyet.com.tr
Letters from Istanbul About the Apology Campaign By Ayse Gunaysu
The old Turkish movies had a common pattern: There were the good ones and the evil ones. Life was much easier for the audience back then. They knew whom to applaud and whom to condemn, where to feel sorry, where to rejoice and where to get angry. In that world, the beautiful and the ugly, the good and the evil, the banal and the noble are distinct categories that do not interact.
Although the old Turkish movies have long become a topic of mockery for many in Turkey, the pattern of reasoning along such dichotomies of good and bad, right and wrong, friend and enemy, and the attitude of ignoring the complexities and focusing on what seems simple to us is still at work to varying degrees in our hearts and in our minds. This does not mean that everything is blurred. No doubt that we have our clear `yes' and `no,' things we categorically reject or wholeheartedly support. It's just that the greater part of life is too complex to be a black and white story. And truth is not monolithic. There may be truth in two opposite arguments. Perhaps this is why every `wrong' has to put one leg on some aspect of the `right.' Otherwise it would be absurd, not `wrong.'
What made me ponder on these complexities of life and individual situations was my position vis-à-vis the recent apology campaign initiated by a group of Turkish intellectuals.
The campaign unleashed public expressions of anti-Armenian sentiments. Panel discussions on various TV channels on this subject are very popular these days. Every day, you can see prominent denialists doing their best to prove that the deportations were a necessary measure against Armenian treachery, saying Armenians did this, Armenians did that, citing names of places, referring to `fedayis' who committed crimes. What is much more horrible than the articulation of this argument by a couple of well-known denialists is the fact that they know the Turkish people will buy their lies. They know that only a handful of people knows that nearly all able-bodied men were in labor battalions, and that there were almost only elderly men, women and children to deport - and massacre. At that time they were far from being a threat to the military. And the activities of Armenian revolutionaries, or the fedayis, were much less influencial than today's PKK - and even for the most fascist minds, deporting the Kurdish population and killing them en masse on grounds of the existence and activities of PKK is out of the question (in fact, only the late retired diplomat Gunduz Aktan insinuated the need for such a `final solution' for the Kurdish question in his article published in the `progressive' Radical newspaper where he was a regular columnist.) These prominent denialists feel so free to say what they please in front of television audiences because they know that the overwhelming majority in their country is far from being aware of simple facts related to the fate of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. They also do not feel any moral obligation towards their fellow Armenian citizens, whom they present as the descendents of these treacherous Armenians - and not as the descendents of a great civilization. They are so self-confident because they know that this knowledge has been successfully concealed generation after generation.
Amidst a chorus of condemnation from politicians, pseudo NGOs, or the counter-campaigns of grassroots denialists calling for Armenians to apologize for Turks and not the other way around, we have Canan Aritman, a deputy of CHP, the main opposition party, attributing the Turkish President's initial neutral stance towards the apology campaign to the alleged secret ethnic origin of his mother. Again, what is more horrible than this statement is the fact that it is taken for granted on the part of the general public that having an Armenian parentage, regardless of whether or not the individual has converted to Islam, is shameful and needs to be concealed.
Under these circumstances, under such audacious attacks, I am violently, furiously, passionately on the side of that thousands of people who put their signatures under the apology statement. And this, this passion is one of the fundamental reasons of my existence. However I didn't put my signature under that statement.
This is the moment, the particular point where I feel most strongly what I said at the start of my writing: Truth is fragmented, not monolithic. I didn't sign it because the campaign has different implications at different levels.
On the one hand, it provided a means for thousands of people in Turkeyto express what they feel about the injustices done to their fellow Armenians, which is very valuable.
But on the other hand, in addition to the specific wording of the statement offering the term `medz yeghern' or the `great catastrophe' as an alternative to the word Genocide, we now hear some of the initiators of the campaign trying to use the apology as a means to fight the use of the word Genocide and hamper the work of those who seek the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. They portray those seeking recognition as the twin sisters and brothers of the Turkish fascists, and they present the `Diaspora' as the enemy of any reconciliation.
I know that the initiators of the campaign have become a target of harsh criticism and death threats by Turkish nationalists, and that they are the prominent advocates of more democracy and greater freedoms. But this does not change the fact that by their discourse, they contribute to the demonization of those who do use of the word Genocide.
For example, Baskin Oran, in an interview published in the daily Milliyet on Dec. 19, 2008, said, `The Prime Minister should be grateful for our campaign. Parliaments around the world were passing Genocide resolutions one after other automatically. This will stop now. The Diaspora has softened. The international media has started to refrain from using the word genocide.'
This is a time when more and more columnists, writers and academics use the word Genocide freely in newspapers, magazines, and conferences. Since the 90th Anniversary of the Genocide, the Istanbul branch of the Human Rights Association (HRA) commemorates 24th April every year, without avoiding the use of the word Genocide. Just this year, on April 24, HRA organized a panel discussion at the Bilgi University conference hall with Ara Sarafian, the editor of the uncensored edition of the Blue Book, as one of the participants to explain why the massacres of 1915 is a Genocide.
And now, regardless of its initiators' intentions, the campaign is exposed to manipulations by some who are using it as a means to render the use of the term Genocide illegitimate in the eyes of the Turkish public.
This is why I refuse to put my name in the list of signatories. Yet, I know that many of my friends who feel exactly the same way signed the statement. I understand and respect them, because I can see why they did so.
Some of my friends think that apology is the responsibility the state only and there is no reason for individuals who have nothing in common with the perpetrators to apologize. I beg to differ. Yes, I do believe that the obligation to apologize for past crimes lies first and foremost on the shoulders of states. Yet, I also believe that an apology is an individual, not just a formal and official, gesture.
So, although I didn't sign that particular apology statement, I do apologize to the Armenians and Assyrians here and everywhere across the world because I am a member of an ethnic and religious group in whose name the Genocide was committed to Armenians and other native Christian communities of the Ottoman Empire.
I also apologize because since my birth, I enjoyed, voluntarily or involuntarily, the advantages of being an ethnic Turk and a Sunni Muslim. This was true even during the years when I no longer felt myself a Turk and a Muslim and was against any national or religious identity, because, to give only one example, I was never made to suffer to say my name in public and I never faced the outright question `where are you from?' I have never been in a situation where I was taught in the classroom how my great grandparents massacred Turks and recite an oath every morning by saying I'm ready to sacrifice myself for the existence of a nationality which I'm not a member of.
I also apologize because none of us, Muslims in Turkey, can be positively sure that we haven't inherited any benefit one way or another from the enormous wealth of Armenian, Syriac and Greek victims that was transferred to the Muslim population of Turkey.
I do apologize particularly because of my communist past. I considered myself part of a community that boasted to be the most progressive segment of the Turkish society. Yet, I didn't have the slightest idea of the fact that I was a member of a nation in whose name a Genocide was committed. I was one of those who kept preaching people about the `lies' told by the bourgeoisie, the ruling classes, claiming with utmost self-confident that we were the ones to tell them the `truth,' but who were completely ignorant of the most horrible truth, although there were enough indications that could have led us to question the official history.
My Democracy, YouTube Democracy, and Turkish Democracy, Rode Out On A Rail By Andy Turpin
WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.) - Hurriyet Daily News reported on Jan. 5 that Turkey's Transportation Minister signaled a legal amendment regarding the ban on YouTube, saying that Turkey's courts lack the experience to handle informatics crimes.
Binali Yildirim said the ban on the video-sharing website was a judicial ruling, not a decision of their government. `We are not experienced enough about the crimes regarding informatics. This is an issue that we can overcome by increasing our experience in the judiciary about how to handle such crimes,' he told a press conference.
Two courts have ordered bans on YouTube in Turkey in response to videos that it deemed insulting to Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Under Turkish law, it is a crime to insult Ataturk. `The Internet Board is currently working on this issue. We will send this to the courts via the Justice Ministry. Therefore we will remove the misperceptions in the practice. We never aimed to block access to information, but we cannot sit by as onlookers on activities that insult our national values openly,' he said.
In my view there is little that can or needs to be said further about the endangerment of civil rights in Turkey when the legitimacy of YouTube, prodigal-son cornerstone of true soap box democracy in our world today, is even slated to be a question on anyone's legislative chopping block.
With both pride and prejudice, I have to call YouTube my generation's incarnation of democracy. At least until the rest of us under-40s can carve out something better.
Turkey is not alone in its lament to the heavens against what it decries as defamatory media viewpoints against its caricatured `Fearless Leader' Ataturk - there's a good reason that Russian anti-Putinist bloggers are the most zealous and imprisoned in the world for their beliefs and YouTube posts.
Which is why it shames me to no end when Americans take derogatory advantage of a forum like YouTube - where in Mubarak's Egypt or in China people risk prison for their mouse clicks - demonstrating the new institutional radicalism existent in the U.S. military since the Iraq war [see The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report expose `A Few Bad Men', July 7, 2006, or read Weinstein's With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military for more information on the subject domestically.]
As for Turkey, if Transportation Minister Yildirim signals the YouTube ban to go federal on the national level, the hard-line nationalist and free-thinking Turks alike are all aboard on the wrong track; and there won't be any light at the end of that tunnel for the whistle of 2009.
Cheering and Hissing By Garen Yegparian
So, we've got an apology. Yay, woo-hoo, ole, yes, fine, maybe, boo, razz, curses. Where does your reaction fall in this range? Here it is, one more time, in case you missed what's been all over the Armenian media for more than three weeks.
`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.' And in the original Turkish: `1915'te Osmanli Ermenileri'nin maruz kaldigi Buyuk Felaket'e duyarsiz kalinmasini, bunun inkar edilmesini vicdanim kabul etmiyor. Bu adaletsizligi reddediyor, kendi payima Ermeni kardeslerimin duygu ve acilarini paylasiyor, onlardan ozur diliyorum.'
As of this writing the count is 22881, and if you want to check for yourself, the website is www.ozurdiliyoruz.com. It gives a total count of signers and shows some of the names, but I couldn't access more. The list seems to be spread over 30 pages, but for whatever reason, only the first would show, with 100 names on it. Another page shows a different set of names where I actually recognized two names. One of these is Fethiye Chetin, author of a book about discovering her Armenian roots, a grandmother. So she's apologizing to herself?
This whole thing is weird - uncomfortable, novel, exciting. But is it any good? How thrilled should we be, if at all? When will the letdown come? Is a cynical and/or cautious approach the way to go? First of all, those doing the apologizing are not the one from whom it must come to be relevant in any meaningful way. It's the government of the Republic of Turkey that must apologize, and thus necessarily recognize the Genocide. In this sense, President Gul's support of people who are signing on to this online-petition-apology is welcome and heartening. But the President of Turkey is not the real governing power, the Prime Minister is, and he, Erdogan, has staked out an opposite position. Could they be playing good-cop/bad-cop for Europe's benefit?
Let's talk numbers, somewhat rounded. Turkey's population, according to the CIA's World Factbook, is about 72 million. Of those, some 20 percent, or 14.5 million, are Kurds whose apologizing has been going on, arguably sufficiently, for many years. At any rate, theirs is a qualitatively different apology. They were not the state that used its machinery to organize the killing. That leaves us with 57.5 million Turks. But, again according to the CIA, in 2006, Turkey had 13.15 million Internet users. I'm going to hazard that today, on the cusp of 2009, that number is 15 million. Again, remove Kurds' 20 percent (though this is also not quite fair since more Kurds live in the less developed parts of the country, i.e. Western Armenia, with proportionately less Internet access), and we're left with 12 million. That puts the ratio of petition signers, to date, at less than 0.2 percent - not exactly an overwhelming, awe-inspiring, figure. Then we have this `great catastrophe' stuff. Maybe they're just using a translation of our own, older, usage of `medz yeghern.' Regardless, it's not `genocide.' So, it's at best substandard, more likely intentionally evasive for political and personal safety reasons, or possibly intentionally duplicitous. `Ottoman Armenians' is another suspicious usage. What about Kemalists' murders and chronologically tandem Tatar/Azeri Killings? All these occurred under the same sick Pan-Turkist/Turanist ideology.
So where do we go from here? Certainly, we should hail and encourage this effort. It is a step in the right direction. Turkish society and its collective consciousness must come to terms with its own horrible past. We can do little but keep the pressure up for them to do so. We should not be lulled into any overly warm'n'fuzzy sense of progress. All it would take is another coup by Turkey's ever `vigilant' generals to unravel the years of internal efforts that have gotten a small portion of Turkey's people to even this slightly better point. By all accounts, from an Armenian perspective this is a positive but far from sufficient step. Finally, we should be very alert to, and preempt, the inevitable argument that will emanate from the Turkish government and be taken up by their lackeys worldwide that runs, `see, we're making internal progress, no need for international Genocide recognition.'
Be alert, be encouraging, and be active in the New Year on this and all other relevant fronts.
The `Odar' Connection in Our Midst By Tom Vartabedian
Truth be told, there was a time in my more obstinate Armenian life that any impediment in our lifestyle would affect our overall welfare. As a parent to three healthy AYF children, I lived to see the day they would be dating other Armenians, much like I did in my youthful prime. And when the appropriate time came, to wed Armenians, much like me.
I got one thing wrong, however. They weren't me. Nor were they my wife. Instead, they had a mind and heart of their own, drifted into their own American world, blessed me with wonderful spouses and four lovely grandchildren.
Their happiness has been my happiness, much as I rebuked, resented and later reconciled. The hard core had a more softer approach, much like a ripened plum from the vine.
In my advanced age, I'm finding a new vitality in our midst. More and more outsiders are knocking on our door and looking for the welcome sign. Either they married an Armenian spouse or adopted our heritage out of respect, curiosity or, in some cases, sympathy.
At least three `odars' signed up for an Armenian class I was teaching on the university level because they considered us a resilient people who remained undaunted by a genocide.
They were amazed at how a nation endured such a tragedy and still had the fortitude to persevere. In some ways, this Irishman told me, `Armenia is like the little engine that could, chugging its way to the summit.'
I found that to be the perfect analogy.
At a time when turbulence is running rampant in our society, respect for the common man becomes more and more essential. As God-abiding Christians, we should be worshipping in one church, not veering off in opposite directions.
And love our neighbor, regardless of the lineage.
I look at my own church and see the impact non-Armenians are making. In some cases, they've become even more involved than the spouse they wed.
They've served as trustees, chaired different boards, presided over groups and sold the most Prelacy raffle tickets when the time came. They've showed up with hammers and saws, devoted countless hours to different projects, and even took the liberty to learn the Badarak. Without them, I suspect our church might have staggered a bit. With them, it's become fertile. I would tend to agree that this isn't a unique case. I would almost bet that no matter what church where, there are `odars' making their impact for the best.
Some have Armenian names after connecting with a male, others an American identity. One or two may have kept their maiden name for reasons of pride and conviction.
If there are 4,500 Armenians in my community, I wonder where 4,000 of them are each April 24 when we commemorate Armenian Martyrs' Day. Seated in the audience are a number of `odars.' They may not understand the language but they are there in support, not in spirit alone.
I look at Armenian names in the obit page and wonder why they are getting buried from an American church. Then it dawns on me that they were Armenian by name only.
It bothers me to see an Armenian surname transposed to a foreign mongrel with the `ian' dropped. Cher is Cher. I would have preferred Cheryl Sarkisian.
I look to the day when my own children return to their church or, at the very least, meet their heritage halfway. `How did they drift so far apart?' I ask myself, perhaps absorbing some of the blame for my arrogance as a parent.
`Maybe you pushed them over the edge,' I remind myself.
Many moons ago, when I started out as a writer, I recall visiting the old Hairenik Building with my correspondence in hand. One day I had stopped for coffee at a nearby cafeteria and settled into a seat with a copy of the Hairenik Weekly fresh off the press.
As I was perusing through the issue, I noticed an African-American seated next table over. My eyes did a double take.
There was this black fellow reading a copy of the Hairenik Daily in Armenian. It struck my curiosity.
`Pardon me,' I said. `Are you Armenian?'
`Not a chance,' he answered.
`But you're reading Armenian?' I wondered.
The man laughed. He worked as a linotype operator at the Hairenik and couldn't help but learn the language after five years on the job.
I never did catch his name but he sure made an impression with me.
Note To The Editor From Ara Sarafian
Below is a letter sent by historian Ara Sarafian to editors of Armenian newspapers. In the note, the author clarifies his positions on a number of issues, following an article that appeared in the Turkish Daily Hurriyet, in which his views were not properly represented. Below is the letter.
On Nov. 26, 2008 Hurriyet Daily News published an article based on an interview titled `Sarafian: Focus on the Diaspora.' This interview followed a conference I participated in, organized by the International Hrant Dink Foundation at Bosphorus University, Istanbul, on Adana in the late Ottoman period. The Hurriyet Daily News article caused anxiety in some Armenian circles because of the apparent harshness of my statements as they had been rendered in the Turkish press. The most forceful response came from my detractors on Internet chat groups.
Given the interest created by the Hurriyet Daily News article in some Armenian circles, I would like to disclose the substance of my interview for your information. Below are the key points:
1. Context: Turkey Today
Turkey is going through a period of change. It is true that much of the old anti-Armenian voices are still around, and one can still see restrictions on free speech in Turkey. However, there are also significant alternative voices being heard from academics, journalists, lawyers, diplomats and ordinary people. This multiplicity of voices seems to be part of the democratization process of Turkey. 20 years ago, Turkish state intellectuals were denying the Armenian Genocide by saying that nothing happened in 1915; if there were killings, they were Turks killed by Armenians; that Armenian Genocide allegations were the product of Armenian terrorism or a Soviet conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide was prescribed by the state with no alternative voices or dissent allowed.
Today, the Armenian Genocide debate has already shifted inside Turkey. It is now quite normal to hear that `terrible things happened to Armenians in 1915,' that Armenians were poorly treated, that there were massacres, etc. Turkish citizens are also more and more aware of the contribution of Armenians to Ottoman-Turkish identity and culture. Most of the protagonists making a case for the gradual rehabilitation of Armenians are Turkish liberal intellectuals. This change has been part of a process that is still in progress.
Armenian intellectuals can play a positive role in engaging Turkish-Armenian debates as they open up by setting the tone for better understanding of a shared past, including practical ways to address the legacy of 1915. A sensitive Armenian approach can foster a positive outcome in Turkey, while a coarse response will close minds and play into the hands of Turkish chauvinists.
2. Diaspora - Armenia Scholarship
Over the past twenty-five years, practically all cutting edge scholarship on the Armenian Genocide has taken place outside of Armenia. A good part of this work was done by diasporan Armenians, and many non-Armenians were nurtured or benefited by the efforts of diasporan Armenians. The Diaspora is at the core of the Armenian Genocide debate. If Prime Minister Erdogan's government is looking for an engaging strategy to resolve the Armenian Genocide issue, it has to address the Diaspora as much as the Armenian government.
3. Partisan Scholarship - Prosecutorial Approach
Our understanding of the Armenian Genocide has been influenced by partisan scholarship. This is because a number of academic institutions and political parties in Armenian communities, such as in the United States or Great Britain, have nurtured a prosecutorial approach to the subject. Consequently, some important elements of the events of 1915 have been distorted. The main thrust of the prosecutorial approach has been the assertion that the genocide of Armenians was executed with the thoroughness of the Nazi Holocaust, and that all Turks and Kurds were involved in the genocidal process. This approach is best exemplified by Vahakn Dadrian's `The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus.'
4. The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust
The Armenian Genocide is not the same as the Holocaust. The Young Turks did not have the apparatus to carry out a genocide on par with the Holocaust. It is also a fact that many Ottoman officials, including governors, sub-governors, military personnel, police chiefs and gendarmes saved thousands of Armenians during the Genocide. Most Armenians from the province of Adana, for example, were not killed. This very basic fact is elided in the works of prominent Armenian historians. There are other examples too. The `Holocaust model' of the Armenian Genocide is fundamentally flawed.
Key `Armenian archives' on the Armenian Genocide remain closed to critical scholars. This matter concerns all scholars and should be subject to scrutiny. The most important examples are the archives of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, which include materials from Ottoman Turkey related to the Genocide. Partisan scholars have used these archives in their work, though their assertions cannot be checked. In the 1980s the Zoryan Institute collected the private papers of individuals in the Diaspora, yet the materials have remained under lock and key. Such standards should not be acceptable within our communities. We should object to them as we object to any manipulation of Ottoman archives in Turkey today.
6. Diaspora - Turkey
As Turkey continues to examine various taboos, more and more Turks are discovering their human, material, and historical ties to Armenians. If Turkey continues to develop in this direction, with freedom of thought and expression, there is no reason why diasporan Armenians can not be brought into public and academic debates in Turkey. The Armenian Diaspora is historically rooted in Turkey.
7. Playing the Victims of the Armenian Genocide
The present generation of Armenians cannot assume the victim role when discussing Turkish-Armenian relations. Given the seriousness of the subject, academics and community activists should be expected to be well informed about their subject matter and give fair consideration to all parties. The Genocide issue is not a simple question of justice for Armenians, but a case of justice for everyone. This attitude is essential for the peaceful resolution of past differences. There is no room for ignorance and bigotry.
8. Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Expression in Armenia
Recent events have shown once more that freedom of expression is not something that is universally respected in Armenia. In the past weeks we have heard of the brutal beating of Edik Baghdasaryan, Chief Editor of the Armenian daily Hetq, and the President of Investigative Journalists' Association of Armenia. His beating was preceded by attempts to harass and intimidate him with impunity. This is not the first time that people have been intimidated and beaten for their critical views in Armenia. In my opinion this lack of freedom has restricted critical research in Armenia on the Armenian Genocide.
9. Joint Commission
Prime Minister Erdogan suggested that a commission of historians should be formed by the Turkish and Armenian governments to examine the events of 1915. I would propose an alternative as follows: (1) Relevant archives in Turkey should be open to researchers with special procedures to allow them ready access to records; (2) Independent groups of specialists from different disciplines should be funded to collaborate on specific projects related to 1915; (3) The work of such groups should be open to the scrutiny of third parties; (4) Academic excellence should be the governing criteria in putting research teams together, not ethnicity, citizenship or horse-trading amongst Turkish and Armenian bureaucrats; (5) The examination of archival records should not be limited to Ottoman records but include other archives outside of Turkey.
The Armenian Weekly; Volume 75; No. 1; Jan. 10, 2009
The Genie Is out of the Bottle Turkish Intellectuals to Armenians: We Apologize By Khatchig Mouradian
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.' 1http://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.'
Paul Varadian's Unique Dining Experience With Turkish President Abdullah Gul In Istanbul By Tom Vartabedian
Guess who was invited to dinner in Istanbul by Turkish President Abdullah Gul?
None other than Paul Varadian, a one-time prominent AYFer from Providence, who has spent the past 15 years promoting World Olympic prosperity in Armenia.
In his role as Chef de Mission (head of the delegation), Varadian organized a winter team for the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer by recruiting a couple Providence athletes - Kenny Topalian and Joe Almasian - for the bobsled.
The two aspirants proceeded to put Armenia in an arena of respectability that year, marking the first Olympic Games with an Armenian flag represented.
What started out as a brief volunteer stint is now approaching 16 years for Varadian, whether it's been the summer games or winter. Over that time, the memories have been a dime a dozen, including this recent dinner engagement with Gul.
Varadian accompanied Armenian Sport Minister Armen Grigoryan to Istanbul, which recently hosted the General Assembly of 49 nations of the European Olympic Committee. The two represented Armenia and got to discuss matters privately with the Turkish President.
`We discussed our abilities to overcome past differences through sport as highlighted by his visit to Yerevan,' said Varadian. `It was all done in an environment of sport. The genocide was not discussed. His most important words were that `courage' was necessary to accomplish a brighter future for us.'
Meanwhile, Varadian remains bullish toward the future of Armenian Olympics, especially after his team mustered six bronze medals this year in China. It marked the biggest output ever for Armenia.
`Armenia has a strong future in the Games, much of it due to wealthy entrepreneur Gagig Tsurakyan, who has personally provided financial support for the athletes,' Varadian points out. `I've been to Armenia several times since 1993, always to promote sport and assist in any way possible.'
The 55-year-old is no back-seat driver when it comes to motivating Armenians and putting them into the limelight. He is General Secretary of the Armenia Skating Federation and for many years served on the United States Olympic Committee, representing the Bobsled Federation. When the Soviet Union became dismantled, Setrak Agonian of New York asked Varadian to help the fledgling Armenian National Olympic Committee get off the ground.
`At the time, certain individuals were given Armenian citizenship by the government in a deal with the State Department and I was one of them,' Varadian said. `I've marched in many opening ceremonies and lived in the Olympic Villages, meeting so many great athletes I cannot count.'
Varadian has the blessings of his wife, the former Vartus Artinian. The two have been wed 31 years and now live in Newton, Mass. with two daughters, Sonig, 23, and Nevart, 17.
He's competed nationally in archery, rowing, track and field - and internationally for the USA in skeleton, including the World Championships.
For the past three decades, Varadian has remained the consummate sports entrepreneur, developing the world's largest social network for athletes (www.iamsport.org).
In his travels, he's been to 65 countries and made more than 200 trips to Europe. Varadian has been head New England judge for Ferrari events and served on the organizing committees for many major sporting events, including USA Track and Field Championships.
During those venerable Providence days when he was a superb AYF athlete, Varadian would pile up 104 points for his chapter. His late father Haig was Olympic King in 1969, along with all four of his uncles. His mom Anahid remains a community activist in Providence, including ARS Woman of the Year. A sister Christine still holds the AYF long jump record.
`Everything I've ever accomplished in life and sports is due to my parents and my extended Varadian family,' he maintains. `At my age, no matter where I go, I'm still proud to be referred to only as Haig's son. My father, with the support of my mother, has had such an impact on sports most people cannot appreciate.'
Last year every New England high school championship in every sport was named after Haig Varadian.
As many times as Paul Varadian has mulled retirement, he's returned to the forefront - a life that's more passion than duty. Creating an international stand for Armenia is his biggest attribute. However, an illness to his wife has curtailed much activity.
`Vartus has patiently allowed me to carry out a life that many can only dream of,' Varadian admitted.
The die has been cast in what could be a bonanza for future Armenian athletes. But not without certain enhancements.
`We need to branch out beyond the strength and combat sports and include more women,' he confirms. `For the winter, it's more of a challenge. But with the improvements in Tsakasor winter sports complex, there is some hope. The recent re-opening of the Yerevan Sports Complex (Hamalir) offers us an Olympic ice surface for our skaters and hockey teams. I'm very optimistic for the year 2014 in Sochi.'
The Armenian Weekly; Volume 75; No. 1; Jan. 10, 2009
"Sorry" Seems To Be The Hardest Word: Turkish Elites Agonize Over Apology Campaign
A Commentary by Jirair Haratunian, Trustee, Armenian Assembly of America, www.aaainc.org
For the past few weeks Turkey has been agonizing over an internet petition initiated by a group of Turkish intellectuals apologizing for the 1915 "Great Catastrophe" that befell the Armenian population in Anatolia. The campaign ignited a counter movement led by former Turkish ambassadors and a sharp rebuke by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Prime Minister said, "If there was a crime let those who committed it apologize. My nation, my country has no such issue."
Curiously, President Abdullah Gul initially characterized the petition as evidence that Turkey is committed to the democratic principle of free expression, but on January 1, after much criticism for his passive reaction to the apology campaign, he confessed that it was not helpful in the process of negotiations with Armenia.
Remarkably, the latest reports say that 26,000 signatories have registered their personal apology to the internet petition, and the Turkish media has headlined the campaign as a major news story for weeks. They also gave wide coverage to the Armenian Assembly of America statement quoting its Executive Director, Bryan Ardouny, who said, "An irreversible trend has commenced in Turkey. This public apology is a first step in that direction and will inevitably lead Turkey in coming to grips with its genocidal past."
The petition's authors carefully avoided using the "Genocide" label in their apology statement. Instead they called the horrors of 1915 "The Great Catastrophe," a term that in Armenian is called "Medz Yeghern." This was widely used by Armenians before Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide. The petition also avoided asking the Turkish state to recognize the Armenian Genocide in any way. The campaign, the authors asserted, is a means for Turks to personally apologize for the horrors Armenians endured at the hands of the Ottoman regime.
The opposition arguments range from denial of any crimes against Armenians to the comparison of equivalent losses suffered by Turks at the hands of Armenian insurgents. They also recalled the assassination of Turkish diplomats by Armenian terrorists in the 1970s.
A most interesting phenomenon in Turkey took place on the 32nd day of the apology petition when the Turkish State Television network broadcast a debate between three advocates and three retired ambassadors who opposed the petition.
The moderator opened the debate noting its objectives. He said, "At the root of the issue lies what happened to the Armenians in 1915: was it a catastrophe, genocide, or deportation? Should we apologize? To whom and for what should we apologize?"
One of the authors of the apology petition, Dr. Cengiz Aktar, explained, "We apologized for not being able to talk about this for many years. We also apologize for not being able to share the pain of our Armenian brothers and sisters to a sufficient extent."
In response, former Ambassador Sukru Elekdag said, in part, "First they are referring to 'The Great Catastrophe' which is a synonym for genocide." He complained that the petitioners were only telling part of the story. "There was a deportation decision of course, but this was done in legitimate self defense during conditions of war. The Russian army was advancing and Armenians took up arms and joined that army."
The moderator asked whether the apology petition makes a positive contribution to solving the difficult issues between Turkey and Armenia. Elekdag replied, "This campaign cannot serve a useful purpose." He noted that secret negotiations exist between Ankara and Yerevan and that the Turkish proposal for a joint historic commission to examine the history of the period was part of the negotiations.
Opponents also declared that the petition strengthens the Armenian position on the issue in international quarters where the Armenian Diaspora campaigns for international recognition of genocide.
Dr. Aktar made a passionate defense of the petition. He said that the petition involved individual and personal apologies and does not address itself to either the Armenian or Turkish governments. He said responses from Armenians were positive. "They are giving a positive response with tears in their eyes because they are finally seeing a compassionate response after 90 years."
He also addressed the assertions that it was only deportation that was sanctioned by the Ottoman government. He said, "The truth of the matter is that the deportations were one of the biggest calamities that ever happened in Anatolia. The Anatolian economy collapsed because of this irrational decision, and from that time until today the economy has not been revived in eastern Anatolia."
This television debate was a watershed event in Turkey. It illuminated the differing sides of the genocide issue at a time when Ankara has indicated an interest in changing its rigid policy towards Armenia. It is a step away from past positions that sought to isolate Armenia politically and economically. Instead, despite opposition from Azerbaijan, Turkey has offered a program to establish a stability and security platform in the Caucasus that includes both Armenia and Russia. This, in addition to bilateral negotiations with Armenia, are positive but fragile developments that will hopefully ease tensions and lead to a more normal and stable relationship between Armenia and Turkey who, in the final analysis, are destined to remain permanent neighbors.
The Apologia of Genocide Recognition Sukru M. Elekdag – M.P., Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul
Instigators of the “I Apologize” campaign collaborated with Turkey’s foes and stabbed their own country from behind.
December 22, 2008 - Architects of the recent apology campaign declared that their underlying purpose was not to charge Turkey with genocide, nor did they use this term in the actual wording of the statement. Apparently, they intended to reflect on the individual feelings of those who empathize with the Armenians of Anatolia, suffering from decades of insensitivity and injustice. The exact wording of the statement reads:
"My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to the Ottoman Armenians and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that they 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 masterfully crafted apologetic statement might seem to the good hearted as the product of an innocent and benevolent initiative. Yet, the conceptual content of the statement as well as its loaded terminology clearly indicate the highly politicized motivations of the campaign’s pioneers.
The term “Great Catastrophe” means “Genocide”
Among the several controversial terms employed in this statement, perhaps the most striking one is “The Great Catastrophe.” Essentially, this is the exact translation of the Armenian “Medz Yeghern” – a term that refers to the events of 1915 as genocide. Put differently, “Medz Yeghern” is often taken to be synonymous with “genocide” in the Armenian language. It is quite analogous to the Jews’ usage of “shoah” in Hebrew when referring to the Holocaust. This is precisely why Armenian statesmen and public opinion were delighted to hear Pope Jean Paul II’s 2001 public prayer at the genocide memorial in Yerevan, when he used the term “Medz Yeghern.” The term also appeared in several of the recently published English language books’ titles, referring to the events of 1915 as genocide.
This situation demonstrates what the apologists heinously sought to camouflage under the term “Great Catastrophe.” In this regard, the apologetic statement is in fact an apologia of genocide recognition. This is why the apology campaign is cheered and welcomed by the Armenian lobby groups in the United States, among which the leading one – Armenian Assembly of America – made the following statement: “An irreversible trend has commenced in Turkey. This public apology is a first step in that direction and will inevitably lead Turkey in coming to grips with its genocidal past.” These remarks should be taken as a clear warning for the dangers to come. The apology campaign signals the existence of domestic support from Turkey’s within to those who pursue a hostile genocide campaign abroad, seeking to pass a series of parliamentary resolutions incriminating Turkey. Would it be unfair then to suggest that the apologetic statements’ pioneers, unwittingly or not, find themselves in a situation where they collaborate with Turkey’s foes and stab her in the back?
Associating the Events of 1915 with the Holocaust is a Grave Mistake
A second key term used in the statement is “denial.” Refusing to acknowledge the existence (historical occurrence) of the Holocaust introduced the term “denialism” to legal literature, which now constitutes a separate category in criminal law. A prominent example of such a category would be the Gayysot Act (Loi Gayysot) in France. By definition “denial” is an intrinsic part of the crime of genocide since the act of denial is preceded by such motives as concealing the truth and erasing memories of the past. Armenian militants seek to impeach Turkey with “denialism” by associating their own experience with the Holocaust. By doing so, however, they blatantly ignore the fact that unlike the Armenian allegations vis-à-vis 1915, Jewish Holocaust had been recognized by international tribunals based on irrefutable evidence.
Reputable Historians’ Views
The third essential term in this statement is the “apology.” According to the statement it is the Great Catastrophe (Genocide), for which the signee would apologize. Nevertheless, whether or not the events of 1915 could be categorized as genocide is a much-debated issue in both historical and legal professions. In fact, some of the world’s most reputable historians such as Bernard Lewis, Stanford Shaw, Guenter Lewy, Michael Gunter, Andrew Mango and Norman Stone disproved the genocide theory based on archival references. Bearing in mind these scholars’ publications, there seems to be a consensus on the following points:
* The events of 1915 that have been reconstructed and forged into being as genocide could by no means be defined with this term. The reasons that lay behind the deportation of a portion of the Armenian millet were not even closely related to their ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs. Never had the Porte possessed the motive nor taken the decision to systematically exterminate the Armenians in part or en masse.
* The Ottoman state had never pursued a policy towards its Armenian subjects analogous to European anti-Semites, who encouraged a public hostility towards the Jews. The Armenian deportation resolution was limited to certain areas, leaving out major capitals such as Istanbul and Izmir.
* In a period when the Ottoman State was dealing with the Great War for survival, the Armenian bandits collaborated with the enemy (Russians) and committed treason against the state, displaying a rigid armed resistance against the Ottoman security forces in order to weaken the national security and defense of the empire. Under these circumstances, deportation was a just and legal measure, which aimed at restoring national security and preserving the integrity of the army for survival.
Joint Historical Commission
The maintenance of peace and harmony between Turkey and Armenia depends highly on replacing their mutually exclusive official historiographies with a shared vision on the subject, through which the two peoples could finally reach historical consensus when looking back in retrospect. With this in mind, the author of this article thus came up with a proposal for creating a Joint Historical Commission (hereafter JHC) – a body of Turkish and Armenian historians who would collaborate and revisit the events of 1915 to reveal the truth.
This proposal also envisaged a neutral apparatus – similar to that of a notary – that would oversee the opening of both Armenian and Turkish archives in their entirety and the conclusion of scholarly research on the subject with utmost seriousness in order to shed light on all aspects of the problem.
Upon this proposal I had to find a common ground between Mr. Deniz Baykal, the major opposition party leader, and Mr. Abdullah Gul, who was then the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Finally in March 8 2005, Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Baykal made a joint public declaration regarding the JHC proposal. On April 13 2005 the Turkish Grand National Assembly supported the proposal with a declaration that passed unanimously.
Looking at the printed press, we understand that this proposal, which had been ignored by Erevan for the past three years, now constitutes one of the major foci of the secret negotiations that currently take place between the two governments. What we need to emphasize here is the fact that Turkey has never dodged an initiative to uncover the truth and Turkey has essentially been the more willing party to unearth the truth. It is primarily this reason that led us formulate the scientific research proposal, which the apology campaign’s instigators consciously ignored. Therefore our humble advise for them is to show the earnestness they deserve and give up this unfortunate and dangerous campaign, which not only contradicts the interests of our state but also basic reasoning and rationality.
Last but not least, when speaking about the unfortunate nature of this apology we need to remind them of their disrespect for not sparing a similar sensitivity to the families of the hundreds of thousands of Turkish and Muslim peoples or our valued diplomats who perished at the hands of the Armenian bandits.
Freedom For History by Jack Lang*, Minister of Culture, and Minister of Education of France
Let me talk about the subject that reunites us here. I won’t pretend to be exhaustive. You can see around me distinguished specialists who treated this subject, and important historians here in the audience will talk later.
I wasn’t prepared for a speech so I will only express in a few words that the main subject of this discussion is the freedom. Freedom of thought. Freedom to search, to discover, freedom to ask questions, freedom… The freedom.
And well, it’s at the same time a conviction and a way to see things, but I think that in all matters that touch at the intelligence, all matters of art, of creation, freedom must be the principle, even the absolute principle, without dispensation, or with no limitation, and if eventually some conditions, only in perfectly clear circumstances.
Freedom to think, and sorry if I’m eventually politically incorrect, included freedom to think incorrectly. There is no freedom if the right to think and even to think incorrectly is not admitted.
I don’t invite anybody to think incorrectly, everyone has its own convictions, values, but at the same time, and in certain limits, this question, is the subject of discussion that will be discussed here, afterwards… Why by reason, intuition, or by emotion, or because we are citizens of this time, do we consider that the law about the Shoah and about the negation of the Shoah must be respected, as it stands, and why, at the same time we are, or let’s say a lot of us are hostiles or against other laws of proclamation and most of all against other laws of criminalisation because of historical facts.
I’ll take a concrete example, to progress, and so I don’t answer to this question, it will be in the debate, but to go further in our interrogations I will take the example of Armenia.
As it happens and I must say the truth as it needs to be said, I voted the first resolution of the French National Assembly about the recognition of the so-called, and so may it be said as historians must still do their work, “armenian genocide”.
I voted this resolution because I thought it was an act of moral and historical reparation and in front of the absolute refusal of the Turkish government to accept any discussion or debate on this subject, I thought that the French national Assembly could accomplish this act.
Today, I don’t know if I would react the same way, but well, I voted it, and at that time, I was president of the Commission of the foreign affairs of the national Assembly so I’m doubly guilty, if I can say it so. Senator and president of the foreign affairs’s commission.
Nevertheless I rose up with strength against the second law concerning Armenia, and at this moment I was in breach of the instructions of my own group, but I refused to vote such a monstrous text.
This text makes it possible to press criminal charges against historians, against citizens, journalists, anyone who would undertake to discuss, question the extent, the reality, the forms of the, well, massacres, because there were massacres, massacres of Armenians committed by the Turkish forces.
Let’s say it clearly, because we have to talk clearly, those who voted this text didn’t do it at all because of a kind of moral commiseration, not because of a kind of attachment to history, they voted it simply because of electoral preoccupation, to win the votes of the Armenian community of France, who merits our respect, but nevertheless the duty of a high political official, of a member of a Parliament, a senator, is to accomplish his mandate with bravery and conviction and to resist to any pressure, whatever they may be.
And the consequence of this absurd unacceptable vote of the National Assembly was that in Turkey, where I had participated as an invited professor by the Bilgi University of Istanbul, to reunite a comity of mixed historians, Armenians and Turks, and it was the first time that they accepted to meet, talk, think, confront their thesis, confront their appreciations, this vote had such echoes that it blocked temporarily this work which is essential, this work which is to understand, know the reality of this region of the world.
*Note Of The Transcriptor And Translator :
Jack Lang was Minister of Culture, and Minister of Education of France, professor of international law, had a postgraduate degree in public law, and member of the European parliament. He planned in 2007 to run for presidency of France. He was Mayor of Blois, the City which created this European encounter of Historians.
Prosecutors Probe Apology Campaign
ISTANBUL - A Turkish prosecutor has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against the authors of an online apology for the World War 1 killings of Armenians, the Anatolia news agency reported Friday.
The state prosecutor in Ankara is probing whether the group of intellectuals who offered the apology violated Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, which criminalizes "insulting the Turkish people," Anatolia reported.
The group under investigation set up an online apology in December for the "catastrophe" Armenians experienced more than 90 years ago, a topic still sensitive in Turkey.
European Union applicant Turkey has promised to expand political freedoms, such as free speech, and improve minority rights to meet the bloc's human rights criteria for membership.
Turkey changed Article 301 last year in response to EU criticism and the law requires the justice minister to approve any court case, but conviction still carries a jail sentence.
The group of writers, academics and other intellectuals set up a petition at www.ozurdiliyoruz.com (we are sorry), that offered Armenians a personal apology.
The statement did not refer to the killings as genocide, a term strongly opposed in Ankara, but the army and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan slammed those involved. Turkey proposes the setting up of a council of historians to determine the incidents of 1915.
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last month that the online petition could undermine efforts to improve relations with neighboring Armenia, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties.
The two sides launched talks last year on normalizing relations.
Turkey in the past has prosecuted academics and authors, including Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, for remarks criticizing the official stance on the Armenian issue. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Wild Tales From A Turkish Whistleblower Tuncay Guney Richard Lautens/Toronto Star
Tuncay Guney lives in Willowdale and tells wild tales of international intrigue. Two things are certain: The Turks want answers, and a lot of people are furious
Jan 09, 2009 Cathal Kelly Staff Reporter
Standing at the entrance to a north Toronto office tower, Tuncay Guney extends a delicate hand and introduces himself: "You are now talking to the most famous agent in the world."
Speaking through a translator, his tone is sardonic. But he lays out a pretty fair case.
The 36-year-old Turkish refugee claimant and former journalist goes on to describe meetings with Hezbollah chieftains and U.S. senators, a near escape from Turkish intelligence in the company of an Iranian general, close friendships with Kurdish rebel leaders and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.
"James Bond has nothing on me," Guney said. He's joking again. Sort of.
It's a fantastical tale from the slight, bespectacled man, a former Muslim who now wears the garb of an Orthodox Jew.
But Guney is not taken lightly in his home country. He is the lynchpin in a sprawling trial accusing dozens of prominent Turks of plotting to overthrow their government. Many in Turkey see the trial as the result of a power struggle between the secular military and the pro-Islamist government of the ruling AK Party.
According to Turkish prosecutors, the labyrinthine ultranationalist cabal, code-named `Ergenekon', backed political assassinations and deadly terrorist attacks.
All the threads lead back to information provided eight years ago by Guney. He continues to launch verbal bombs from Toronto, appearing regularly via satellite on Turkish television .
This week, Turkish court officials released a list of 37 questions they want Guney to answer about Ergenekon. Did they conspire with separatist Kurdish rebels? Who did they kill? What is their relationship to international drug gangs?
"I am the `black box' of Ergenekon," Guney said, referencing one of his nicknames in the Turkish press. "They cannot solve anything until they reach me."
His standing among fellow expatriates is less lofty.
"Speaking as a member of the community, we are embarrassed that he lives in Canada among us," said Lale Eskicioglu, executive director of the Ottawa-based Council of Turkish Canadians. "Because of him, many innocent people have been interrogated. He has caused a lot of hell in Turkey."
Guney's rise from obscure journalist to renowned whistleblower began in 2001. That year, he was arrested for attempting to sell a stolen car. Over nine days of interrogation, Guney told police he had uncovered a wide-ranging plot to unbalance the Turkish state.
Guney claims he was tortured during questioning. "I told myself, I would get my revenge some day."
Police searched Guney's apartment, uncovering six batches of documents, some marked `Top Secret'. The papers laid out a portion of the conspiracy, naming as members some of Turkey's most prominent citizens.
"He got so much information that he cannot have gotten it by himself," said Ergun Babahan, a former editor of the Turkish newspaper, Sabah. "Someone gave it to him."
Despite a travel ban, Guney was mysteriously able to flee Turkey for the United States. "He went from Turkey to New York and then Toronto. That is not so easy to do," said Babahan. "I believe he has some sort of protection."
Different factions in Turkey have variously accused Guney of working for American and Iranian intelligence; Islamist interests and Ergenekon-linked secret police units. He denies all of it. He took off his black, broad-brimmed hat and skullcap before being photographed for this article because he feared it would bolster accusations that he works for Israel's Mossad.
Guney's files lay dormant until 2007, by which time the AK Party had won power. Then a raid on the house of a former military official turned up explosives that were later linked to an attack at a Turkish newspaper.
The arms seizure pulled the first thread that unravelled the alleged Ergenekon plot. As police investigated, they found Guney had already provided a road map of Ergenekon. Involving high-ranking military officials, businesspeople, gangsters and journalists, the conspiracy appeared to unmask what the Turks call the "deep state" – the real power hidden behind governments.
The Ergenekon plotters stand accused of a dizzying variety of crimes, all aimed at unhinging the government and prompting a military-backed coup.
Housed in a prison complex on Istanbul's fringes, the trial against 86 Ergenekon defendants began in October. In one of many ironic twists of the case, one of the accused is the police official Guney said is responsible for his torture.
The trial is expected to stretch beyond 2009. Yesterday, the country's army chief expressed his anger at the recent detention of a dozen top military officials, part of a new round-up of suspects that took place on Wednesday.
"There's a lot of political fantasizing that goes on here at the best of times," said Andrew Finkel, an Istanbul-based American journalist. "(Ergenekon) is stirring that pot. Now it's as if everything that's ever happened in Turkey is part of that conspiracy."
Guney arrived in Toronto in 2004, forced to flee New York, he said, by a visit from an Ergenekon-linked Turkish general.
Today, he lives with a roommate in a small house on a busy Willowdale street. He presented a photocopy of a document that he says proves he was granted refugee status last August. As is usual in these cases, the Immigration and Refugee Board would not comment.
He is unemployed. Right now, he supports himself with credit cards and "my gold and diamonds."
In conversation, Guney slips seamlessly from caution to bombast. At one moment, he said he is afraid to walk Toronto's streets. At another, he dares the Turkish government to cross him.
"Believe me, they just play games. Sometimes we play together," Guney said. "They don't have anything. They just want to scare me."
Guney is famous in Turkey for his about-faces and provocative statements. There is also his `conversion' to Judaism since leaving Turkey. Guney claims that his family are Jews by way of Egypt who presented themselves as Muslims in order to survive in Turkey.
Guney returned several times to the subject of his torture eight years ago, speaking with bitterness.
"I have the advantage, not the government," Guney said. "I will continue this game until my life is over." © Copyright Toronto Star
Who In The World Is Tuncay Guney?
In Turkey, the former reporter was embroiled in a political trial he insists will lead to his murder if he's forced to return. In Cairo, he was accused of being an Israeli spy. In Toronto, Mr. Guney presents himself as a rabbi seeking refugee status, though the Jewish community has rejected him. 'Tuncay Guney has 1,000 faces. Only God knows which is the real one'
Nicholas Birch is a freelance reporter January 9, 2009
ISTANBUL and TORONTO -- In his native Turkey, he is a key figure in one of the country's biggest political trials, a convoluted, explosive tale of assassinations and conspiracy.
He has also figured large in a Cairo court, where he was alleged to be an operative for Mossad, Israel's spy agency, who recruited a Canadian to spy for Israel on Arab bank customers.
Here in Canada, Tuncay Guney presents himself as a rabbi, with hat and black coat - though the Jewish community says he's not one of their own.
A cagey, unassuming-looking 36-year-old with shaky English, the former reporter left a path of intrigue and controversy on three continents before turning up in Toronto as a refugee claimant.
"Going back to Turkey would mean arranging a date with the Angel of Death," he said in an e-mail in Turkish
For the past six months, few days have gone without him being on the front page of a Turkish newspaper.
He is the informant behind the closely watched Ergenekon trial, in which leading intellectuals and military officers are accused of attempting to overthrow the Muslim-rooted AK party that governs Turkey.
United only by their hatred of the AK, the 85 right-wing nationalists and hard-line secularists in the dock are accused of being part of a secret organization called Ergenekon and charged with plotting high-level killings to destabilize society and force army intervention.
"I sparked a revolution in my country. The masks fell," Mr. Guney said in his e-mail. "If I talk, everything will change."
The case began in 2001 when police in Turkey pulled him in for selling a stolen car.
The man was a nondescript sort: a failed journalist with a primary school certificate and a thick Anatolian accent. Then he began to talk.
"I've never seen anybody like Tuncay Guney," recalled Ahmet Ihtiyaroglu, the organized-crime interrogator who took over from his gobsmacked colleagues in small crimes. "It was as if somebody had sent him in to reveal everything."
The police called in investigative magistrates. But out on bail, Mr. Guney fled to the United States.
He left behind 140 pages of depositions and six boxes of documents - some top-secret - that hold a prime place in the indictment. Mr. Guney is mentioned more than 400 times in the indictment and named as a "suspect on the run."
In his deposition, Mr. Guney said he worked for General Veli Kucuk, a former military intelligence chief suspected in dozens of homicides.
This week, the trial heard that his aliases included Daniel Levi, Kemal Kosbag and Tuncay Bubay.
Those names had cropped up before, in a spy case against an Egyptian-Canadian CIBC employee in Toronto.
In 2007, a Cairo court sentenced Mohamed el-Attar to 15 years in prison after he was arrested in Egypt while visiting family. The prosecution said that Mr. el-Attar worked for Mossad, while in Turkey and Canada, and had been recruited by Daniel Levi, Kemal Kosba and Tuncay Bubay.
According to Newsweek's Turkish edition, a former housemate said Mr. Guney once introduced Mr. el-Attar to him as a friend. The Israeli consulate said the Mossad allegations were "madness."
Daniel is also the name Mr. Guney uses in his Toronto life - as rabbi Daniel T. Guney.
Jacob House, the congregation he says he represents, appears to be little more than a website and a postal box.
The Toronto Board of Rabbis and the Canadian Jewish Congress say Mr. Guney is not a member of the community and appears to be associated with the Messianic Judaism movement, evangelical Christians who try to convert Jews.
According to the Turkish media, Mr. Guney became acquainted with evangelical Christians while in New York. When his asylum demand in the United States was rejected, a Kurdish convert drove him to Canada in 2004.
"People let him enter their lives because they felt sorry for him. He always appeared a poor, weak character," says one Turkish journalist who first met him in 1994.
"Tuncay Guney has 1,000 faces. Only God knows which is the real one," said Hasan Yilmaz, editor of the Toronto-based newspaper CanadaTurk.
Mr. Guney, meanwhile, is in no hurry to be back where he triggered so many shockwaves.
"The state is not in control of the streets or the prisons. Look at the seniority of the Ergenekon suspects and what they did. Do you think they would permit me to live in liberty or in jail?" The Globe and Mail Canada
Answering The Obama Call To Service: Anca Launches "Cans For The Cause" Campaign To Help Local Food Banks
-- Urges Armenian Americans and Groups to Participate in local ANCA Campaigns or Take the Lead in Neighborhood Food Drives
-- Effort Honors U.S. Humanitarian Relief for Armenian Genocide Survivors from 1915-1923
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has answered President-Elect Barack Obama's challenge to Americans to participate in National Day of Service activities with a nation-wide campaign to feed the hungry. The Day of Service is set to coincide with Martin Luther King Memorial Day (January 19) and the Presidential Inauguration (January 20th).
In honor of U.S. humanitarian assistance efforts for survivors of the Armenian Genocide from 1915-1923, the ANCA has initiated the "Cans for the Cause" Campaign, which encourages community members to work with local ANCA chapters and Armenian American organizations, or take the lead themselves in canned food drives across the U.S., to assist food banks dedicated to feeding the hungry.
"During the Armenian Genocide and in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Americans participated in an unprecedented humanitarian relief effort for the survivors of Ottoman Turkey's brutal campaign of race extermination," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "As a community we owe a tremendous debt to the generosity of the American people and strive to honor this proud chapter in U.S. history by doing our part to feed the hungry and bring hope to those facing hardship both abroad and here on our own shores."
The National Day of Service, first initiated by Congress in 1994, honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. The aim is to make the holiday a "day on," where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to improve lives, bridge social barriers, and move our nation closer to the "Beloved Community" that Dr. King envisioned. With thousands of projects planned across the country, the 2009 King Day of Service on January 19 promises to be the biggest and best ever. Individuals can find projects in their area by visiting: www.USAService.org.
The ANCA's goal is for each local Armenian American community to collect 500 food items (canned or boxed) by January 19th. To facilitate this effort, the ANCA has set forth an organizing "tool kit" for local community activists and groups, which outlines the following:
Each local Armenian American community should establish:
* One lead organizer who take responsibility for collecting 500 food items
* 10 Super Volunteers responsible for 50 food items (the lead organizer should be one of these super volunteers)
10 Super Volunteers x 50 food items = 500 food items
Each super volunteer can collect 50 food items by finding 5 people (including themselves) to donate 10 items, or they can buy all 50 items themselves.
Lead organizers are responsible for the following:
* Finding a location to store collected food items
* Identifying and recruiting super volunteers
* Keeping track of the number of food items and reporting to the ANCA headquarters
* Delivering food items to food bank (or delegating this task to a volunteer)
The ANCA will provide lead organizers with the following:
* Location of local food banks
* Flyers to pass out (church, special events, etc)
* Lists of potential activists in your area
* Full time ANCA staff support via phone and email.
Eternal Damnation Of The Spotless Mind: In Remembrance Of Hrant Dinkby Bernard-Henri Levy, New Republic Jan 7 2009 DC
I write this in remembrance of the renowned Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, murdered two years ago, on Jan. 19, 2007, for his comments on the slaughter of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman forces during WWI ... in horror that the police officers guarding the 17-year-old murder suspect, Ogun Samast, saw fit to take a video in which he proudly held the Turkish flag as they recorded their brief association with him for posterity ... in solidarity with the brave group of 200 Turkish writers and intellectuals who recently signed an online petition apologizing for the massacre, risking their freedom to keep pressure on the Turkish government.
Outrages like Dink's murder will continue. They will continue as long as Turkey, fearing the loss of prestige and alarmed by the possibility that it will be obliged to pay reparations to survivors and their descendants, continues to deny that the Armenian genocide took place. This struggle will continue as long as there are no laws in place penalizing genocide denial -- and these laws are needed not only in Turkey, but around the world.
Critics may say, "It is not for the law to write history." That is absurd. History has been written a hundred times over. The facts have been established, and new laws will protect them from being altered.
In 1929, the British statesman and author Winston Churchill wrote that the Armenians were victims of genocide, an organized enterprise of systematic annihilation. The Turks themselves have admitted it. In 1918, in the aftermath of WWI, Mustafa Kemal -- soon to be granted the honorific "Ataturk" -- recognized the massacres perpetrated by the Young Turk government.
The laws already in place in many countries regarding Holocaust denial do not touch historians -- for them the question of whether the slaughter of the Jews was or was not genocide is no longer at issue. What is at stake is preventing the erasure of such crimes from our society's memory.
Take France's Gayssot law, which criminalized the denial of crimes against humanity, and which as yet has been applied only to denial of the Jewish Holocaust. This is a law that reins in the fringe and extremist politicians who engage in lightly cloaked anti-Semitism and who may be tempted to advocate Holocaust denial. This is a law that prevents masquerades like that of historian David Irving's trial in London in 2000.
Irving brought a libel case against Deborah Lipstadt, author of "Denying the Holocaust," who had labeled him a spokesman for Holocaust deniers. Though the judge ruled in notably strong language that Irving was indeed a Holocaust denier, in the absence of laws penalizing this offense, Irving walked free. Meanwhile, the tabloid journalists and talking heads muddied the issues and ultimately drew more attention to Irving's work, which may well have been his intention all along.
Critics will say, "Where will the law stop?" since technically we could also extend this law to include the denial of the crimes that took place during the colonial era, the publication of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, even the sin of blasphemy. Must we forbid the expression of opinions that do not mirror our own? This is a trap, for two reasons.
First, the law would be focused specifically on genocide, a large-scale criminal enterprise in which, as Hannah Arendt said, someone gets to decide who has the right and who does not to inhabit this earth. Second, the deniers don't just have conflicting or nonconformist opinions. They categorically deny that this horrific crime took place at all.
The logic and pattern of the crime of genocide was clarified and refined over the 20th century, with the massacre of Armenians as a seminal event. Hitler was impressed, nay, inspired by the scope of the Armenian genocide. In August 1939, days before he invaded Poland, he said to his generals, "Who still talks nowadays about the extermination of the Armenians?"
It was a genocidal test firing. It was the basis for the Allies' use of the phrase "crimes against humanity" in their May 24, 1915 statement regarding the massacre of Armenians "with the connivance and help of the Ottoman authorities." It was a reference for the Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin -- who coined the term "genocide" and is responsible for developing our understanding of this crime --when he was incorporating the definition of "genocide" into the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
I have spent some time perusing the Armenian genocide deniers' literature, which is remarkably similar to the literature on the destruction of the Jews. The same arguments minimizing the number of deaths ("sure, there were some, but not as many as they say") and the same reversing of roles -- just as Holocaust deniers render the Jews responsible for the war and their own martyrdom, their Turkish counterparts claim the Armenians betrayed the Ottomans by allying with the Russians, thus sealing their own fate.
Some may ask, "Can't the truth defend itself?" No, I am afraid not. Consider that in 1942, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, ordered the formation of Sonderkommando 1005, whose mission it was to dig up the dead, to burn their bodies and dispose of the ashes. In one of his memoirs of the camps, Primo Levi recalled that the SS militiamen enjoyed admonishing their prisoners that when the war was over, there would not be a single Jew left to testify and if by chance one did survive, they would do whatever was necessary to make sure his testimony would not be believed.
A similar logic drives those who proclaim to Armenians, "No, your brothers and sisters are not dead. Your parents, grandparents and great-great-grandparents are not dead, as you're so foolishly claiming." Such statements betray the absolute, insane hatred they harbor, against which factual evidence and debate are useless and the truth is impotent.
Laws prohibiting Holocaust denial are expressions of the fact that genocide, a perfect crime, leaves no traces. In fact, the obliteration of those traces is genocide's final phase. Holocaust deniers are not merely expressing an opinion; they are perpetrating a crime.
Bernard-Henri Levy's new book, Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism, was published in September by Random House. This article was translated from the French by Sara Sugihara.
Life Is A Dance, Says President
ANKARA-President Abdullah Gül and first lady Hayrünnisa Gül spoke about their private life for the first time on camera in a television program broadcast yesterday on the Kanal D television channel.
When the president was asked whether he dances, he replied: "Life itself is a dance." The first lady, who seemed comfortable during her first appearance on television, commented on the resemblance of her husband to famous U.S. actor George Clooney.
"George Clooney will get upset, but my husband is more handsome. I do not know if there are people who liken the two, but my husband is special to me," said the first lady.
The program was shot at the foreign ministry residence where the couple currently live due to maintenance work at the Çankaya Presidential Palace. Before being elected president in August 2007, Gül served as foreign minister.
The first lady chose the room where the interview was held and a piano was inserted as the format of the program required it. The couple listened to songs they liked and from time to time were seen holding each other’s hands. The president said his wife cared for their children and their house and that made his life in politics easier.
Gül met Hayrünnisa at a wedding ceremony. After this, the door of his career in politics was opened during the circumcision feast of their son and the way to the presidential palace was seen during the wedding ceremony of their daughter Kübra, the couple said. © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Turkish Court Launches Probe Into Apology Campaign To Armenia Hurriyet
The office of the Ankara Public Prosecutor launched Friday an investigation into an Internet campaign to issue a public apology to Armenians.
Turkish court launches probe into apology campaign to Armenia
Six prosecutors submitted a petition calling for a penalty for the organizers of the apology campaign for "insulting the Turkish nation openly" under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
The Ankara public prosecutor's office started an investigation into the issue following the prosecutors' demand.
Around 200 Turkish academics, writers and journalists launched a website issuing an apology to Armenians regarding the 1915 incidents and called for people to sign on in support.
The efforts of the intellectuals drew fierce reaction in Turkey and incited counter website campaigns, and exhibitions containing information and photographs from studies conducted into the events.
Opening a file in the Article 301, a law that makes insulting Turkishness a crime, requires the permission of the Justice Ministry.
Armenia, with the backing of the diaspora, claims up to 1.5 million of their kin were slaughtered in orchestrated killings in 1915.Turkey rejects the claims saying that 300,000 Armenians, along with at least as many Turks, died in civil strife that emerged when Armenians took up arms, backed by Russia, for independence in eastern Anatolia.
The issue remains unsolved as Armenia drags its feet on accepting Turkey's proposal to form an independent commission to investigate the claims.
The Campaign Of "Atonement," A Petition Variable Geometry, 9 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Curiously, the "Apology" campaign of Turkish intellectuals on the Internet is the subject of incessant changes.
Like many observers, I look every day the gradual evolution of signatures recorded on www.ozurdiliyoruz.com. But it is clear that the list of petitioners and suffered declining changes every day. For example, while the normal movement of entries around the thousand signatures a day, since 1 January to 8 January included, only more thousand names were added to the petition ... The total January 5, which was 27,024, changed January 6 in the evening to go to 26,980 and 26,815 on January 8.
Thus, in recent days, having found some names registered, I realized that a substantial part had disappeared from the list.
Now, a question arises, what will happen on this petition is stagnating and why does it? Hope for an early explanation of the webmaster. Jean Eckian
Taner Akçam: "Turkey Is Similar To Texas's 19th Century" 9 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Affable personality, available and thoughtful, the famous Turkish historian Taner Akçam, author of "A shameful acts" Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, spent 5 days in France (4 to 8 January).
After a stage where niçoise university participated in a panel discussion at the 8th International Book Fair of Nice, under the auspices of the Armenian community of the Cote d'Azur and in the presence of Henry Cuny, Ambassador of France in Armenia (2001-2006), himself author of Armenia, the soul of a people, "Taner Akçam was hosted in Paris by Alexis Govciyan, President of the AGBU.
Under the discreet surveillance of GR and the National Police that Taner Akçam has complied with the traditional meeting of dedication of his book to the library of Publicis Drugstore after responding to questions from many readers present. Among them, Mourad Papazian (pt of Dashnaktsoutioun FRA) will interview the author of "A shameful acts" on the relevance of the Turkish intellectuals' petition. "This is a first apart in the wall" said the historian, adding "I did not sign because it is the Turkish state to ask for forgiveness."
Note that a few hundred meters from the Drugstore, military weapons assisted by police guarding the approaches to the Office of Tourism of Turkey.
An hour and a half after meeting the obligations of Denoel editions, Taner Akçam answered questions from journalists around lunch improvised. "Liberation" was represented by Marc Semo, the weekly "Marianne" by Anne Dastakian "20 Minutes" by Aurélien Mathé and the Agency by the Associated Press photo-reporter Burhan Özbilici. Later in the afternoon, the historian will be interviewed for the purpose of issuing RFI "Walk the World" presented by Valerie Nivelon. This show will be broadcast Sunday 15 January to 9 h 33 (89 FM).
The evening is at the Cultural Center of the AGBU, nearly two hundred people attended a conference-debate-still under police surveillance-chaired by the historian Raymond Kevorkian.
Taner Akçam addressed, among other things, the thorny question of the Ottoman archives.
We learn that German documents dating from 1918 to 1920 are in possession of Russian archives. That in addition, the Ottoman archives are effectively open to consultation, but the pace of a tough issue of 20 per day, of a total approaching 250 000 for the period 1913-1918, and is multiplied by all the departments Turkish knowing that the consultant must themselves at every visit, completing a four-page questionnaire ... He also confirmed - the responsibility of the informant (Turkish historian) - a huge amount of archive was refined in 1980.
At the military level, the archives of the State Headquarters, located in Ankara, are classified secret-defense and therefore exempt. According to a colonel: "many documents were being destroyed, but I managed to save" entrust Does the researcher.
"The extermination orde-proprement said is of course impossible to find in these conditions," said Taner Akçam. "It is therefore to reconstruct the pieces and decrypt documents.
"Today Turkey is similar to the Texas 19 th century. As long as there is the weight of the State Headquarters in Turkey, "he says. This is one reason why the Turkish university supports the entry of Turkey in the European Union, only a thrust vector of democracy in the country and leading to the formal recognition of Genocide of Armenians.
The Nobel Prize in Literature Orhan Pamuk, repeatedly sued for its courageous positions on the Armenian issue, writes about the work of Akçam: "No future discussion of these facts will not be silent on this brilliant book and definitive. " Reports and photos Jean Eckian
Taner Akçam : « La Turquie ressemble au Texas du 19ème siècle » 9 janvier 2009, par Stéphane/armenews
Personnalité affable, disponible et réfléchie, le célèbre historien Turc Taner Akçam, auteur de « Un Acte Honteux » le génocide arménien et la question de la responsabilité turque, a passé 5 jours en France (4 au 8 janvier).
Après une étape niçoise où l’universitaire a participé à une Conférence-Débat à la 8 ème Foire du Livre de Nice, sous les auspices du Conseil Communautaire Arménien de la Côte d’Azur et en présence de Henry Cuny, ancien ambassadeur de France en Arménie (2001-2006), lui-même auteur de « Arménie, l’âme d’un peuple », Taner Akçam a été accueilli à Paris par Alexis Govciyan, Président de l’UGAB.
C’est sous la discrète surveillance des RG et de la Police Nationale que Taner Akçam s’est plié à la traditionnelle séance de dédicace de son livre à la librairie du Drugstore Publicis après avoir répondu aux questions des nombreux lecteurs présents. Parmi eux, Mourad Papazian (pt de la FRA Dashnaktsoutioun) interrogera l’auteur de « Un Acte Honteux » sur la pertinence de la pétition des intellectuels turcs. « C’est une première lézarde dans le mur » dira l’historien, ajoutant « je ne l’ai pas signé, car c’est à l’État turc de demander pardon. »
A noter qu’à quelques centaines de mètres du Drugstore, des militaires en armes assistés par la police surveillaient les abords de l’Office du Tourisme de Turquie.
Une heure et demi après avoir satisfait aux obligations des éditions Denoël, Taner Akçam a répondu aux questions des journalistes autour d’un déjeuner improvisé. « Libération » était représenté par Marc Semo, l’hebdomadaire « Marianne » par Anne Dastakian, « 20 Minutes » par Aurélien Mathé et l’Agence Associated Press par le photo-reporter Burhan Özbilici. Plus tard dans l’après-midi, l’historien sera interrogé pour les besoins de l’émission de RFI « La Marche du Monde » présentée par Valérie Nivelon. Cette émission devrait être diffusée dimanche 15 janvier à 9 h 33 (89 FM).
Le soir même, c’est au Centre Culturel de l’UGAB, que près de deux cents personnes ont assisté à une Conférence-Débat -toujours sous surveillance policière- animée par l’historien Raymond Kevorkian.
Taner Akçam aborda, entres autres, l’épineuse question des archives ottomanes.
Il nous apprend ainsi que des documents allemands datant de 1918 à 1920 sont en possession des archives Russes. Que par ailleurs, les archives ottomanes sont effectivement ouvertes à consultation, mais au rythme inflexible d’une délivrance de 20 par jour, sur un total approchant les 250 000 pour la période 1913-1918, et ce, multiplié par la totalité des départements turcs, sachant que le consultant doit s’astreindre, à chaque visite, de remplir un document questionnaire de quatre pages... Il confirme aussi - sous la responsabilité de son informateur turc (historien) - qu’une gigantesque quantité d’archive a été épurée en 1980.
Au plan militaire, les archives de l’État-Major, situées à Ankara, sont classées secret-défense et donc inconsultables. Selon les dires d’un colonel : « de nombreux documents étaient en cours de destruction, mais j’ai réussi à en sauver » confiera-t-il au chercheur.
« L’orde d’extermination proprement-dit est bien entendu impossible à trouver dans ces conditions », explique Taner Akçam. « Il nous revient donc de reconstituer les pièces du puzzle et de décrypter les documents ».
« Aujourd’hui la Turquie ressemble au Texas du 19 ème siècle. Tant qu’il y aura le poids de l’État-Major en Turquie », affirme-t-il. C’est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles, l’universitaire Turc est favorable à l’entrée de la Turquie au sein de l’Union Européenne, seul vecteur d’une poussée démocratique dans le pays et qui mènera à la reconnaissance officielle du Génocide des Arméniens.
Le Prix Nobel de littérature Orhan Pamuk, plusieurs fois poursuivi en justice pour ses positions courageuses sur la question arménienne, écrit à propos de l’ouvrage d’Akçam : « Aucune discussion future de ces faits ne pourra faire l’impasse sur ce livre brillant et définitif. »
Reportage et photos Jean Eckian
Indirect Route For Youtube To Direct Profit by Taylan Bilgiç
ISTANBUL - The court ban on YouTube has been in place for months, but people are resorting to proxy servers. Gabriel Ramuglia, the administrator of hundreds of such servers, tells how traffic from Turkey has skyrocketed
The popular video-sharing Web site YouTube has been banned by courts over and over again in Turkey for long periods since 2007. Turkish users have been "legally unable" to reach the site since May 2008. But increasingly they are circumventing the ban, using proxy servers to watch videos they like, as the administrator of dozens of such servers confirms to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Even Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted at using proxy servers last November when replying to a question about the ongoing ban. "I use YouTube. You can, too," he told journalists.
Accessing YouTube has been banned in Turkey at various times on the grounds that various videos posted by users of the site insulted Atatürk, the founder of the republic.
Speaking to the Daily News, Gabriel Ramuglia, administrator of more than 200 proxy sites such as vtunnel.com and beatfiltering.com, said visits from Turkey to these sites "increased greatly from the moment of the ban on May 5."
"Hits increased quickly for a month after May and are now stable at around 1.2 million unique visitors per day, when you combine all my proxies," he said. "The largest proxies are ktunnel.com and vtunnel.com. Between those two would be the vast majority of my Turkish traffic. I average about three gigabytes per second of bandwidth usage to service the users of my site who visit YouTube from Turkey."
The details show Turkish people are increasingly learning how to use proxies Ğ servers that service the requests of users by forwarding requests to other servers, such as those used by YouTube. The proxy server provides the resource by connecting to the specified server and requesting the service on behalf of the client.
The proxy vtunnel.com received a total of 2.7 million visits in January last year and just under 20,000 of these were from Turkey, Ramuglia said. "In June, the first month the ban had been in full effect for an entire month, total visits stood at 11.2 million, 8.7 million of them were from Turkey." The figure represents a 435-fold increase in visitors from Turkey.
"It has basically been all-or-nothing," Ramuglia said. "Turkish traffic to other Web proxies that I run have seen similar levels of change."
The ban has created additional earnings for the site, he said, without giving specifics. "This has been possible despite massive bandwidth usage due to keeping an eye on cost cutting opportunities as well as working to maximize advertising revenue. Even though this traffic has a much lower profit margin than traffic from the United States, the incredible amount of daily visitors makes up for this, causing Turkish traffic to be a major source of the site's earnings since the ban came into effect."
As the ban lasts longer and longer, Ramuglia’s hands became freer. "In the beginning, it was not clear if allowing the massive levels of traffic would be a good business decision or not," he told the Daily News. "If the ban had lasted, for example, just a week, and I had ordered a large number of servers to handle the spike in traffic, I would have lost a large amount of money."
Ramuglia said he decided to "do his best to handle the traffic" after someone from Turkey emailed him asking for help in accessing YouTube.
"The ban has the effect of creating more interest," said Behçet Envarlı, president of the Turkish Informatics Foundation, or TBV.
"But one should not increase awareness of the Internet through bans." The foundation is actively trying to make sure the ban is lifted, as it is disproportionate, Envarlı said.
"A change has to be made, with moderation as the criteria," he told the Daily News. "The said crime [in YouTube, against Atatürk, the founder of the republic] was committed by one video, but then the whole site was banned, usurping the right of millions of people to reach YouTube." Envarlı said he believed "either the laws will be changed or they will be implemented with common sense."
The use of proxies to reach banned Web sites became popular due to "oppressive regimes such as China," said Kerem Özdemir, technology editor at Fortune Turkey. "Turkey was not among censoring countries until last year, but now it will be labeled as such in various reports. Meanwhile, the common man is using every means possible to circumvent the ban."
Commenting on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s use of YouTube, Özdemir jokingly said "maybe his children have taught him how to do it," or maybe "there is a special connection for the prime minister." © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Dutch Television Broadcast A Report On Extreme Poverty In Armenia 8 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Television nérlandaise "Nederland 2" was released Thursday 25 December at 17h10 a report entitled "Armenia, Noah countries, poverty, cold and the soup kitchen" that shook the country.
The journalist of the "Nederland Helpt" indicates in his report that "Armenia also, the local churches who work with the poor. In the "cave" of the church, I visit a soup kitchen. Apprêtent volunteers to prepare a meal for 50 people daily. I get an apron and helps to peel potatoes. Soup for everyone with a piece of bread. Margarita comes in every day with her granddaughter. They are entitled to 3 servings. She lives together with his son and daughter-in-law and their 3 children. The windows of the house are covered with plastic. The stove only works with cardboard and paper because they do not have enough money to pay for wood. In the church, Margarita carefully guard a meal in a plastic tray. I go to his house. Margarita says that children are entitled to a final meal and that the whole family consists of 6 people eat one meal a day. Andraniek 4 years is sitting on my lap on, We are hands in my hands. After a quarter of an hour, I noticed that my hands are frozen. I feel that this is the worst that can happen when a mother is unable to keep her child warm and feed. I am shaken wondering what they eat December 25, the day the report will be released.
To see the video
In Armenia, the local churches that care for the poor and the hungry. In the basement of the church I visit an ordinary. Volunteers prepare daily for 50 people a simple meal. I get an apron and help them to peel potatoes. This soup is made with all kluifje a small meat in it, they get a further sign a pasta dish and vegetables.
Margarita comes every day with her granddaughter small Margarita "to the kitchen. They are entitled to 3 servings. She lives with her son and daughter and 3 children together. It has fold-in plastic where windows have ever been. The stove is fired every now and then with cardboard and paper, wood for money because they have not. The church may happen a few small Margarita eating soup, then go meals carefully in plastic containers. I go with her to go home. Margarita says that the children are entitled to a meal, but that eventually the entire family of 6 per meal a day of eating. Andra Niek of 4 years is in my lap, his hands in my hands. After a quarter hour mark that I have hands and I do not get hot shooting vol. I remember me that's the worst that could happen is that you as a parent your child no longer can keep warm and fed. I wonder what they will eat on December 25, the day that this episode broadcast.
The Armenian church would like lots of extra soup kitchens open. The only way the people in the dark cold months in the spring to help.
Help you? Paid your contribution to giro 300300 t.n.v. St. EO-ovv Indeed in Hilversum. Armenia.
Taner Akçam in Paris 6 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
The famous university and Turkish historian, Taner Akçam, exiled since 1977, first in the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States where he professes at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide of the University of Minnesota, is in Paris since yesterday.
Tomorrow, January 7, Taner Akçam will sign his book "A shameful act" (Editions Denoel) at Drugstore Publicis Champs Elysees between 12h15 and 14 hours. Then he will meet several journalists before presenting his book that evening at the Cultural Center of the AGBU, 118 rue de Courcelles.
This world-renowned historian, author of 11 books and numerous articles and is the subject of incessant threats of death and media lynching in Turkey claimed to have recognized the reality of the Genocide of Armenians in 1915. On 17 January 2007, the Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered for the same reasons. An emotion that gave rise to the gathering of over 150 000 people in Istanbul during his funeral.
Faced with these ongoing threats, Taner AKÇAM answer: "You should ask the Turkish authorities if they really think that shooting the messenger will prove that their position in 1915 is good." Jean Eckian
Letter To My Turkish Brothers Jean Kehayan, 6 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews Journal RELEASE, Jean Kehayan journalist and essayist
Turkish intellectuals have launched a petition for reconciliation with the Armenians. They ask forgiveness to all those throughout the world who bear the pain of the massacres that began in 1915 and have resulted in the disappearance of the entire Armenian population of Anatolia estimated at nearly one and a half million souls .
The petitioners are the honor of Turkey and they ask forgiveness, because they know that a country that hides a corpse in his closet can not enter the community of civilized nations. Today in the world, when referring to the Armenians, we automatically think genocide. This terrible word, the Turks do not want to hear, considering it an infringement of their civilization and in any case, the massacres and deportations ( "tChart and Aksor" in Armenian) took place under the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, by not reflecting on his own past, Turkey s'ampute of international respectability it deserves, especially since it effectively fulfills its role as mediator in its area of geopolitical influence. The ultranationalists, those who have been silenced by a weapon the pen of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, argue that the Turkish minority in their reports to their national pride that is not negotiable. In this case, it is not possible to "negotiate" an event recognized by the international community of historians and officials. Even if the role of Czarist Russia, Great Britain, Germany or France should not be neglected in the years of World War I, the fact remains that the arms were armed those of the Turks and their Kurdish supplementary guaranteed impunity.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister does not want to hear about forgiveness. It's his choice not to enter the story through the front door. The Willy Brandt are not numerous. In contrast, President Abdullah Gül has heard the calls of its citizens seeking a reconciliation. The man who traveled to Yerevan on the occasion of a football match was filled with hope for people suffering from the closure of borders. It is Armenia that small risk of dying of suffocation if the blockade is maintained, and has to challenge the authorities and the man in the street of Kars, Turkey, and Gyumri, Armenia, to persuaded that the desire to find a fraternity neighborhood is strong. The restoration of the church Aghtamar on an island in Lake Van, dating from the ninth century, had already raised a lot of hope, even if the authorities were afraid to be crowned the dome of the original cross. But this time also will come.
Recognizing the Great Catastrophe psychologically bring you a little more European Union countries. We also have our ultra-nationalists, who put forward the issues of geography to push Turkey. In the era of globalization, the argument is rather ridiculous. It takes away to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have the hope of one day a border with Europe. Yet what can happen to a better Caucasus republics such as Russia wants to re-submit to the law of bronze.
Remember, the initiators and signatories of the petition, you are the brothers of those who believe that the future belongs to the bearers of hope and truth. Already we know that the blood of Hrant Dink has not flowed in vain. And we have, the French of Armenian origin, to be in solidarity with your fight, not claiming anything other than the historical truth, rejecting avatars as the return of land or property. The causes of the massacres have destroyed the world. True, but thanks to you we will rebuild.
Today’s Turkish State Has Both Assets And Liabilities By Appo Jabarian Executive Publisher & Managing Editor, January 2, 2009
For Armenians and Turks, the Year 2008 will go down in the annals of history as a memorable year, because of the transformation taking place in Turkish society.
A few weeks ago, over 200 Turkish intellectuals and academicians initiated “We apologize to Armenians” campaign, further weakening the decades-old taboo on openly discussing in Turkey one of the darkest pages of its history.
The text of the online petition 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 and sisters. I apologize to them.”
Besides Turkish, the “Apology” campaign text was also available in Arabic, Armenian, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Italian, Kurdish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
As of Monday December 30 midnight Los Angeles time, there were:
- 25829 signatures gathered on the www.ozurdiliyoruz.com website;
- 244 worldwide websites on google search engines mentioning the campaign; and
- 371 on Yahoo!
- Several major world media carrying “Apology” campaign-related news items and articles.
The campaign ignited an unprecedented nationwide public debate in Turkey.
While the petition organizers deserve acknowledgment for their integrity and courage for having taken the first step in coming to terms with their own history, they need to be encouraged not to let the ultra nationalists hijack their plans for comprehensive justice for the Armenians.
In my opinion, the “Apology” shall not lack follow-up action. And the level of the intended righteous deeds should be commensurate to the magnitude of the crime of the Genocide with all its ramifications: 1) The loss of over 1.5 million innocent lives of indigenous Armenians; 2) The forcible occupation of the lands of Western Armenia and Cilicia; 3) The personal property losses resulting from systematic usurpation of the victims’ real and personal properties.
Anything short of this will surely be qualified as incomplete or insincere efforts by Turks.
In order to make this petition worthwhile, both the petitioners and their opponents shall muster all the courage to equally recognize that they are the descendants of both the perpetrators of the crime and of the numerous righteous Turks who risked their own lives in order to save many Armenians from death. Armenians around the world gratefully remember these good-hearted members of the Turkish Holy Islam in Konya and elsewhere in Turkey.
They should also recognize that inheriting today’s Turkey from its Ottoman predecessor makes them proprietors of both the assets and liabilities of the Ottoman Empire.
How could one overlook current Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul’s unwitting confession of Turkey’s guilt in the Armenian Genocide? Gonul made a scandalous public statement on Armenians and Greeks in Brussels on November 10. He said: “If Greeks continued to live in the Aegean and Armenians continued to live in many places in Turkey, I wonder whether there would be today’s nation-state.… I don’t know how to tell you about the importance of this exchange. But if you look at the old balances, the importance of this would very clearly arise.”
To the Turkish opponents and proponents of “We apologize” campaign, the online petition represents one of the rare opportunities to convert the liabilities of the genocide to national assets by genuinely bringing justice to the victims: the Armenians.
I am sure that millions of Turks would much prefer to “travel light,” free of the heavy “luggage” full of dark pages of their collective memory. They would also appreciate seeing their nation getting off the list of the pariah states of this planet.
It’s not an easy task to inherit the wholesale loot robbed from defenseless Armenian victims. No human logic would allow the Turkish heirs to say on the one hand “the crime was not committed by this generation, therefore we’re not responsible,” and on the other hand continue possession of the properties obtained secured through criminal activity.
The ownership of today’s Turkish state comes with both assets and liabilities
Turkey: To Be Truly At Peace With Its History 7 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Info Collectif VAN - Hrant Dink told Etyen Mahçupyan: "You get my brain and I get your heart ( 'your courage'). When Hrant Dink was murdered, E. Mahçupyan wrote an article in which he asked 'what will I do now without my heart? "to emphasize that he had lost his source of courage. In light of this article qu'Etyen Mahçupyan sign in the Turkish newspaper Taraf, the Armenian journalist in Turkey continues to draw courage at the source ... It fulfills all those in Turkey who say they do not have to apologize for the "Great Catastrophe" (genocide of Armenians 1 500 000) incurred in 1915 by Armenians, as they feel at peace with their history, as pointed in particular the Turkish PM Erdogan Collectif VAN ... The book you the translation of this article of the Turkish newspaper Taraf.
TARAF - Etyen Mahçupyan - 23.12.2008
We are reconciled with our history
The statement of apology gathering of intellectuals and identity of any ideological vision in Chamboulive the agenda of Turkey. The wave of signatures from the availability of the site, showed that the issue could not be explained by claiming the existence of a handful of opponents dreamers or hypocritical. Because this action is based on two important reasons. The first is the gap became visible in the consciousness following the assassination of Hrant. Some of the people belonging to the identity 'Turkish', who feel as natural owners of Turkey, refusing to take part in the silence that has lasted for so many years. They no longer want to bear the weight of shame overwhelming result of this silence. For this reason, they speak in terms of 'Great Catastrophe', just like at the time called the Armenians in 1915. Because the real question is not whether 1915 was a 'genocide or not. Whatever the name given to it: there is obviously a past we do not see and that is the source of shame.
In addition, the second reason for this statement of apology concerning the story we want to ignore. One of the pretexts to make the legitimate Turkish Republic, was the creation of a new history, largely fictitious. This new history has been very effective in shaping the Turkish identity and it has finally identified the turquité with this vision of history. Only this story was not consistent with the truth lived. Instead of having a scientific approach to the past, she conceived history as a castle and reinvention within the narrow and superficial approach to national defense. The result is a society that believes educated, who do not even realize that the historical references on which it is based is imaginary, but remained at the bottom considerably ignorant. The arrogance, instilled by a State which bases its strategy on citizenship lies, unfortunately means for the ordinary citizen, a kind of 'knowledge' turned into 'taboo'.
Is it surprising to see the reaction of people claiming their history, starting with the Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs to the soldiers, judges and universities? They are defending what they know. Without knowing what they know is what they need to know ... They say 'we are reunited with our history. " Without realizing that the problem is with this state of reconciliation ... Because history is not a story with which one can so easily reconciled.
Leaving aside the Kurds and the Alevis. If there is only non-Muslims, from 1860, this story goes immoral events with which anyone with a concience can not be reconciled. The mid-nineteenth century was the period when the new concepts of rights and freedoms are identified, the differences in attitudes is being globalized, as now. Like today, communities began to claim their rights, while the State had adhered to the strategy of making promises of reforms and not respect them. As a result of this attitude, a climate of tension arose between the state and communities and in every community groups were supportive of the use of force. The number of such groups within the Armenian community has never exceeded 1% ...
As for the state, as now, he began practicing oppression against the communities. The existence of groups tend to use force was used as an excuse to usurp their rights.
In the background, from 1880, the Armenians have been faced with a system of double taxation. (Nota CVAN: State taxes collected while the local feudal chiefs continued to claim the tribute they collected by the force for years - we must not forget that Christians were not allowed to wear weapons while their Muslim neighbors were armed). Armenians faced a double oppression, heavy taxation as well as violence and persecution. Numerous appeals to the courts of the State have come to nothing (CVAN Note: on the contrary, the state has closed its eyes and created regiments hamidiés to formalize these oppressions). With the forces hamidiées established in 1894, the simple people, modest individuals, families were murdered, massacred thousands. Their assets have been seized, looted by these forces. (CVAN Note: do not remember that Hamidiés were trained Kurdish Sunnis, persecuted in their turn since the founding of the Turkish Republic).
In 1908, just after the declaration of the 2nd Constitutional Monarchy, tensions have been created in the region of Adana: Armenians were attacked, they are entrenched in a ghetto. The state intervened to disarm the people. The Armenians have handed in their weapons ... And in the following weeks, more than 30 000 Armenians were killed. (Nota CVAN: it must be remembered that the English and the French were present and, contrary to Turkish so frequent, they do not intervene in favor of Armenians. On the contrary, the British had convinced the Armenians to make the little weapons they had and they have ignored the massacres that followed disarmament. Muslims also involved in the disarmament agenda, did not have to surrender their weapons ... On the contrary, the Turkish army has supported it. remember that the Muslim population was under tension, because if we adhered to the reforms announced by the Young Turks - at least on paper - all become equal citizens, Muslims therefore lost their privileges *).
Let go in 1915 ... But without forgetting that the deportation did as children, women and old, as men age bear arms were in the armed forces in 1914, and the majority of them, they had been murdered after being disarmed. After the period of 1918, the Armenians who were returning to the country have been oppressed by the state, so they do not remain on the land. All means and ways have been used to leave, because they (CVAN Note: Muslim citizens) would not return the goods seized and plundered (Nota CVAN: looted by the State. Confiscated property would be donated by the war criminals as a reward **)...
From even the early years, the regime of the Republic has set up three laws. One prevented Armenians abroad to return. The second canceled the citizenship of those who were not present in the country for some time. The third possible theft of property of persons deprived of their citizenship. In the same period, there was the travel ban for Armenian traders. The Armenians were forced to share their homes with families designated by the State.
And then 'tax on goods' that we all know is here. When the state has accused the Armenians so that they lose their entire fortune, each citizen of Armenia was forced to pay a minimum of 500 lira. Those who could not get it in a period of 15 days were sent to concentration camps. So in 1955, the pogroms of 6 / 7 took place in September. Facts to which the head of the Special War would later express his pride.
Become modern Turkey, from 70 years, was based on the declaration of 1936 to legitimize the theft of hundreds of properties belonging to non-Muslims, in illegal, violating the laws. The state has sold the confiscated property.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Armenian community in 2500 were about 1800 churches and schools on these lands. Now there are 40 churches and 15 schools.
If you really reconciled with this history, I have nothing to say. Reconcile without dialogue, without confrontation, means "what has been done like us." There is another way to reconcile, after discussing really reconciled. Seeing the events experienced in the feeling, listening to our conscience. The Armenians want reconciliation in this way and be at peace with our common history. And the Turks want it?
Etyen Mahçupyan Turkish translation of the Collectif VAN - 29 December 2008
Turkish - Armenian Relations In 2008, 05 January 2009, Turkish Press/Eraren
The beginning of a dialogue process between Turkey and its problematic neighbor Armenia was the most important incident in 2008 in bilateral relations as it brought life to very limited relations between the two countries.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul accepted an invitation by the Armenian President Serzh Sargsian to watch a Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifier match in Yerevan.
Abdullah Gul met with Sargsian in Yerevan on September 6. President Gul said that he wishes the soccer match between Turkey and Armenia to help lift obstacles that prevent the peoples of Turkey and Armenia from getting closer to each other and to contribute to regional friendship and peace.
On September 7, President Gul said that he witnessed the Armenian side to be in agreement with Turkey in trying to lift obstacles that block the development of bilateral relations through dialogue.
In addition to Gul's talks in Yerevan, the meetings held by the Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan with his Azerbaijani and Armenian counterparts in various platforms were important steps that contributed to the dialogue process with Armenia.
Armenian President Sargsian said that there may be very positive developments with Turkey in less than a year.
Armenian officials said that they welcomed a proposal by Turkey to establish a Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform.
"We are ready to open our border with Turkey and establish diplomatic relations without preconditions," told Armenian authorities.
Though the Turkish-Armenian border is closed, around 60,000 Armenian tourists visit Turkey annually.
Around 70,000 Armenian citizens work as illegal migrants in Turkey.
Armenia's occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory, Armenia's one-sided description of the incidents of 1915 and statements in Armenian Constitution that allege that a portion of Turkey's territory actually belongs to the Armenians are some of the problems in bilateral relations.
Looking Forward To 2009 In The Caucasus And Beyond, 05 January 2009, Today Az, By Alexander Jackson, Caucasian Review of International Affairs.
2008 was, without doubt, a dramatic year in the Caucasus. The sight of Russian tanks rolling into South Ossetia is the most obvious example, but the August war should not obscure the region’s other, less headline-grabbing developments. The Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, the slow slide of the North Caucasian republic of Ingushetia into chaos, and the post-election bloodshed in Yerevan in early March (amongst others) were all, in different ways, very significant. Will 2009 be so dramatic? Accepting in advance the futility of predictions – hardly anyone saw the Russia-Georgia war coming in January 2008 – the Caucasian Review of International Affairs presents a tentative assessment of the year ahead.
Firstly, and perhaps most unpredictably, Georgia. The security situation in around Abkhazia and South Ossetia remains volatile – shootings and ceasefire violations are common. We can expect this state of affairs to settle down, but certainly not become stable in any real sense. Russia blocked an extension of the OSCE’s 16 year old monitoring mission on December 22, insisting that the organisation must maintain a separate office for the ‘independent’ region of South Ossetia. The withdrawal of these monitors, and the possible expulsion of UN observers after their mandate expires in February, will undermine the already precarious security situation and make it almost impossible to verify the military situation in the provinces. In this context, the resettlement of refugees will remain a distant prospect for most of the year.
Progress on settling refugees within Georgia itself will hinge largely on Georgian domestic politics. As previous Caucasus Updates have noted, President Saakashvili’s position is increasingly precarious in the face of gathering political opposition. He has recently made efforts to deflect accusations of authoritarianism, but calls for early elections are likely to continue. Popular anger, boosted by the worsening effects of the economic crisis, may manifest itself as large-scale street protests, raising the spectre of further state crackdowns and a new cycle of political uncertainty. A change of government in Tbilisi is a very plausible development in 2009. Amidst all this, an upcoming security pact with the US is one of the few reasons for President Saakashvili to be cheerful. However, as David Kakabadze at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, the pact is non-binding, and therefore not enormously useful as a shield against Russia.
The other big question in the Caucasus is Nagorno-Karabakh. The Moscow Declaration of early November was arguably lacking in concrete proposals, but it was symbolically significant as the first joint declaration by the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders since the end of the conflict in 1994. Peace is still a long way off, but war is fairly unlikely in 2009. A continuation of the thaw in relations between Turkey - Azerbaijan’s strongest backer - and Armenia may persuade Baku to make a deal sooner rather than later, whilst international commitment remains high and it can secure a relatively beneficial resolution. To be sure, this thaw is not guaranteed, and in any case Azerbaijan may simply ignore Turkey’s change in position. Despite the opportunities provided by renewed world attention, 2009 may well be no different to 2008, or any other year since 1994. A key factor in any change will be Armenia’s domestic scene.
Political instability in Yerevan will continue to simmer, exacerbated by the world recession. The grievances of opposition figures, notably Levon Ter-Petrosian, will remain. Rapid progress towards any Karabakh resolution, or a deal with Turkey, deemed too soft by the nationalist opposition will galvanise public sentiment against the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian, already on the back foot over the post-election violence last year and a faltering economy.
As far as pipeline politics are concerned, 2009 should see some concrete progress finally being made on the Nabucco project to bring Caspian gas to Europe. The gas row between Ukraine and Russia has highlighted, yet again, the EU’s vulnerability to Russian energy policy, which should serve as a wake-up call. However, given that the hyper-energetic President Sarkozy of France could not push through a unified approach to Nabucco during his time in the rotating EU presidency, it is unlikely that Vaclav Klaus – the abrasive, Eurosceptic Czech leader and the new EU president from January 1 – will be able to. The principal obstacle will be enticing Turkmenistan into formal negotiations on supplying the project. This courtship, along with ongoing efforts to establish a supply corridor to NATO’s Afghan operations through Turkmen territory, should make 2009 President Berdimuhammedov’s year, with an unprecedented level of international attention paid to his country. Broader EU policy towards the region is likely to remain patchy. The Union’s monitoring mission in Georgia (EUMM) is due to remain until October 2009, although in light of their limited access to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, their ability to keep the peace is strictly limited. A new flare-up of violence would severely test the commitment of the EU to the ceasefire in Georgia.
Turkey’s course in 2009 is likely to be similar to 2008: political and economic deadlock at home, an increasingly successful foreign policy abroad. In 2009 and 2010 Ankara will sit on the UN Security Council (with a chairmanship in June 2009), where it is expected to push for greater dialogue in the Middle East and also, perhaps, the Caucasus. It will vocally lobby for its Caucasus Stability and Co-operation Platform (CSCP), a suggested dialogue mechanism which may be formally signed in early 2009. One should not expect too much from the Platform. If any progress is made on Karabakh it will be through the Minsk Group; on Georgia, through the EU and potentially the US. CSCP’s main role will probably be to institutionalise the Turkish-Armenian thaw.
However, a diplomatic breakthrough here risks provoking a nationalist backlash at home, which could feed into the wider struggle between secularists (represented by the army) and the ruling ex-Islamist AK Party. Any such backlash would force the government to slow down the process – it is entirely conceivable that Turkish-Armenian relations could fall back into deep freeze in 2009. On the economic front, the International Monetary Fund is expected to approve a $25 billion loan to Ankara in early January. This will help to stabilise the economy somewhat, although the country will remain highly vulnerable to further financial shocks.
Drawing a tentative conclusion from the above, we can predict a year of problems (potential disorder in Georgia; rising nationalism in Armenia and Turkey) and opportunities (Nabucco; Turkey’s CSCP). In truth such predictions are shots in the dark. Focusing on the core issues leads one to exclude possibilities which at the time seem remote and implausible – state collapse in Central Asia? Secessionism amongst Iranian Azerbaijanis? A surge in regional terrorism? As is so often the case, the region’s only certainty is its uncertainty.
Turkey Could be Major Political Loser In the Current Israel-Gaza Conflict, By Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier
Turkish diplomats, as far back as the Ottoman Empire, have been masters in the game of playing one major power against another, while pretending to bethe best friend of both.
More recently, Turkish officials have worn different masks by representing their nation as being European, Islamic, secular, pro-American, pro-Russian, pro-Third World, pro-Arab and pro-Israel!
Once in a while, however, a major international crisis puts Turkey's leaders on the spot, exposing their hypocrisy. The Israel-Gaza conflict is one of those situations when Turkey's two-faced nature is revealed. For many years, Turkish officials represented their country as a strategic ally of Israel, in order to exploit the political clout of American-Jewish organizations in Washington, while enjoying good relations with the Arab states. Very deftly, Turkey maintained close ties with the PLO and Hamas, while signing a far-reaching military accord with Israel, the archenemy of the Palestinians!
Despite widespread anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments in Turkey, and the bombing of several synagogues in Istanbul by Turkish terrorists causingthe deaths of dozens of Jewish worshippers, Israel continued to believe that Turkey was a reliable ally.
Over the years, Israeli leaders catered to Turkey's every wish and whim, even going to the shameful extent of denying the Armenian Genocide and pressuring American Jewish organizations and successive U.S. administrations to block the adoption of a congressional resolution on the Genocide. Israeli leaders continued blindly on their path of supporting Turkey, even after former Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in 2002 accused Israel of committing "genocide" against the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his tour of the Middle East last week, met with leaders of Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, skipping Israel. He also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Hurriyet reported that Erdogan's chief advisor, Ahmet Davutoglu, met with Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader living in Damascus. While in Syria, Erdogan characterized the Israeli attack on Gaza as "a crime against humanity." The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Israel's President Shimon Peres had phoned his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, to complain about Erdogan's abusive comments. Upon his return to Turkey, however, Erdogan continued making harsh remarks about Israel. During a speech to thousands of protesters in the city of Antalya, he warned: "Israel would drown in the blood that it spills." He also stated that Turkey would raise the Palestinian issue at both the U.N. Security Council and the Organization of Islamic Countries. Four years ago, during an earlier clash between Israeli forces and Palestinians, Erdogan called Israel a "terrorist state."
Taking his cue from the Prime Minister, Mehmet Ali Shahin, Turkey's Justice Minister and spokesman for the government, called Israel "the biggest instigator of terror in the world." Turkish parliamentarians followed suit by resigning from the Turkey-Israel Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. Tens of thousands of Turks, burning Israeli and U.S. flags and shouting "killer Israel," held demonstrations in dozens of cities throughout Turkey. During these protests, a public appeal was circulated calling on Turks to boycott all Israeli products and services.
It is high time that both Arabs and Israelis realize that Turkey is a friend of neither side. When a ceasefire is finally established in Gaza, Turkey could end up as a major political loser because:
-- Turkey's mediating efforts between Syria and Israel, intended to boost its own diplomatic clout, have completely collapsed;
-- Turkey's newly acquired membership in the U.N. Security Council would force her to take sides in various regional conflicts, thus limiting its ability to maneuver between quarreling parties and feigning friendship with both sides;
-- After Erdogan's latest outbursts, Israel's leaders would not trust Turkey's fake solicitations of friendship;
-- Arab leaders would hopefully not find Erdogan's crocodile tears credible as long as Turkey remains Israel's military partner;
-- When the Armenian Genocide resolution is once again presented to the U.S. Congress in the coming months, one would hope that both Israeli leaders and Jewish American organization would recall Erdogan's diatribes against Israel and refuse to support a country that denies its genocidal past.
Finally, Turkey's meddling in the Middle East conflict would distract its attention away from the Caucasus region, lessening the pressure on Armenia to make concessions on Artsakh (Karabagh) and efforts for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
California Courier Online Edition, January 8, 2009
Turkish Historical Society Falsifies Start Of Debate On Genocide
ANKARA (Combined Sources)--The Noyan Tapan news agency, quoting a Turkish Historical Society representative from Hurriyet, reported Monday that some Armenian and Turkish historians have begun discussing "the events of 1915." "In March or April we are preparing to hold discussions about the events of Adana, with the participation of Armenian experts Ara Sarafian, Garabet Moumjian and Khatchig Mouradian," announced Historical Society representative Prof. Kemal Cicek, who added that during a recent visit to the society, Sarafian allegedly said that the word genocide would not be used to characterize theevents of 1915.
"It is not true," said Sarafian in an email to Asbarez in response to inquiries about the veracity of the Hurriyet report.
In a similar inquiry by the Asbarez Daily of Los Angeles, Mouradian said "the report that appeared in Hurriyet and was also circulated by the Noyan Tapan News Agency does not correspond to the truth."
"Earlier this month, I did receive an invitation for an academic conference organized by the Turkish Historical Society in Ankara," he said. "I did not, however, accept the invitation."
The Turkish Historical Society called the recent "I apologize" campaign launched by Turkish scholars "a new obstacle aimed at weakening recent efforts for dialogue by both sides."
California Courier Online Edition, January 8, 2009
Relocation In Figures Of Talat Pasa, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Jan 5 2009, Milliyet, Turkish Press,
All details of Talat Pasha's notebook, on which he reported all changes in Armenian population in all provinces, have come to daylight.
According to the figures, Armenian population dropped by 972,000 people after the relocation. Death toll is indefinite.
Almost all notes of Talat Pasha, the interior minister in 1915 (the time of relocation) have appeared in the new book of journalist Murat Bardakci, "Talat Pasha's Abandoned Records".
The notes include comparative results of Armenian population in 1914 and after relocation in all provinces. According to those notes, the Armenian population was 1,256,403 in 1914 and the number dropped to 284,157 after relocation.
Joe Biden: A Realist Cold War Liberal
Joe Biden was selected as Barack Obama’s vice presidential candidate largely because of his expertise in foreign policy. Traditionally, in U.S. politics, Dick Cheney-like strong vice presidents are exception, not the rule.
It is wiser to focus on Obama’s foreign policy outlook rather than Biden’s, which would benefit Turkey in the long run with its realistic tendencies. Biden’s voting pattern, as it is displayed in three different issues (Cyprus-Armenian Issue-Iraq) does not seem friendly to the Turkish position. However, Biden as a statesman would not create extra problems for Turkey at the expense of U.S national interests. In all of these issues, the person that should be watched carefully is Obama, not Biden. Spending more energy to analyze Obama’s geopolitical priorities can benefit Turkey in the long run.
Presidential elections in the U.S. always draw attention from the world because of their potential to create new tensions, change balances and shift policies. Turkey is one of the countries that has been carefully observing the positions of presidential and vice-presidential candidates regarding contentious issues such as Armenian Genocide claims, the possible partition of Iraq, Cyprus, and broader issues related to the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the Middle East. With the emergence of Senator Barack Obama, a politician who identifies the events of 1915 as genocide and who advocates a phased withdrawal from Iraq, as the democratic presidential candidate, Turkey turns its focus to the potential vice-presidential candidates, hoping that the second powerful political figure would balance Obama’s policy preferences which have been perceived as against the Turkish position. Nevertheless, Obama’s choice of the veteran Delaware senator Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has disappointed Turkish politicians, policy makers and diplomats. Joseph Biden, whose Senate career spans thirty-five years, has become known for his pro-Armenian, pro-Greek ideas and voting record, and is also famous for his proposal of the “Biden Plan” – a plan that defends a soft-partition in Iraq. Turkey had crucial reserves about this plan and finds it unacceptable. Considering the political careers and positions of the democratic candidates, if the Obama-Biden ticket makes its way to the White House, how will this team affect Turkish-American relations? How should Turkey react to the positions the team holds?
Biden’s Career and Political Position
To begin with, it is almost a conventional wisdom that 2008 presidential elections will be a foreign policy election. Joe Biden, one of the 2008 presidential hopefuls just a couple of months ago, contributes to Obama’s career on this issue as a foreign policy expert. Biden completes some of Obama’s weaknesses with his private life and political career. As a Catholic, white politician, Biden’s seniority and his extensive knowledge on foreign policy issues makes him a vital catch for Obama. In his long career, Biden has generally followed the voting pattern of the George McGovern- Ted Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party, i.e. the liberal left. However, as a “cold-war liberal” who supported harsh policies against Soviets, Biden did not refrain from voting yes to military interventions whether it seemed humanitarian or not. This makes him a trusted politician in the eyes of the Washington insiders, or establishment; in fact, he is one of the standard-bearers of the establishment.
In his career, Biden voted yes to the invasion of Iraq to overthrow the so-called inhumane Saddam regime even though he later changed his position and became a fierce critic of the invasion. Biden’s voting record and political career proves that Biden is a realist in his foreign policy preferences rather than a moralist or liberal; in other words, even though he favors humanitarian positions, Biden sees issues as a balance of power, not merely a calculus of moral preferences. Another important aspect that is extremely significant for our discussion is Biden’s close relations with the ethnic lobbies present in the U.S. Although sometimes harshly criticized, Biden has maintained enduring and very supportive relations with Greek, Armenian, Israeli and even the new emerging Kurdish lobbies. As long as it does not clash with national security issues, Biden votes in line with those ethnic lobbies.
However, it would be wrong to portray Biden as dependent on ethnic lobbies; rather, he gives priority to American interests.
The Cyprus Issue
Senator Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1973 at the age of 29, and found himself facing Turkey’s intervention in Cyprus. This was the time in which the politically divided and socially dispersed Greek community in the U.S. began to form what later came to be called the Greek lobby. The Cyprus controversy merged Biden’s career with the rise of this new lobby and made him work with leading figures in the lobby including Senator Thomas Eagleton of Missouri and Congressmen John Brademas of Indiana, Paul Sarbanes of Maryland and Benjamin Rosenthal of New York. In return, throughout his career, Biden has felt the support of the powerful Greek lobby in Washington. In his 35 years in the Senate, Biden has been one of the key figures behind the resolutions energized and provoked by the Greek-American lobby, which has managed to halt or delay arm sales to Turkey. Working closely with Greek-origin senator Paul Sarbanes, Biden came to be known as a valued member of the pro-Greece lobby.
Biden has voted pro-Greece on issues such as the Aegean Sea, Cyprus, FYROM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), the Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Heybeliada, and so on. His support for Greece is not limited to Greece vs. Turkey issues, but rather toes a steady line in Greece-Macedonia or Greece-Albania disputes. Thus, Biden cannot be simply seen as anti-Turkish as some argue, but should be seen as pro-Greek-lobby, or a Hellenophile. In the beginning of his career, in fierce opposition to the Turkish intervention in Cyprus, Senator Biden supported the U.S. weapons embargo against Turkey, which passed the U.S. Congress in the fall of 1974. However, in 1978, during the Carter administration when the president asked him (and others) to vote to lift the embargo, worrying that Turkish armed forces were deteriorating, which would weaken the southern flank of NATO, and that the U.S. stood in need of military bases in Turkey, which enabled the U.S. to monitor Soviet activities, Biden did not resist the President. It is therefore clear that Biden has consistently chosen the pro-Greek position only when it does not clash with U.S. national interests, as in the case of the weapons embargo. Biden’s position on arm sales to Turkey reappeared in November 2000. When Turkey wanted to buy eight CH-53E Super Stallion heavy-lift attack helicopters from the U.S, Biden placed a hold on the sales. As a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden’s reason was again the Cyprus issue. Nevertheless, under heavy pressure from the administration, he quickly changed his position and lifted the hold on the helicopter sale. Biden, then, supported Cyprus’s ascension to EU, even though the Greek Cypriots voted against the Annan Plan.
Another important issue that worries Turkish policy-makers is Biden’s consistent support for Armenian Genocide claims. Beginning in 1990, Biden actively supported almost all the pro-Armenian resolutions in the Senate. Those resolutions included aid to Armenia, political support for the invasion of Karabagh by the Armenians, opening the Turkish side of the Turkish-Armenian border, genocide claims, the appointment of ambassadors to Armenia, Hrant Dink’s assassination, article 301 etc. Even though Biden seemed pro-Armenian, however, he did not refrain from changing his positions and votes when he felt that the vote was against the national interests of the United States.
Biden supported the resolution that seeks the recognition of Armenian Genocide claims by the president in 1990. In 1992, he supported the Freedom Support Act that aimed to restrict U.S. Assistance to Azerbaijan. His voting pattern has followed this course throughout. In May 2006, when U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, John Evans, used the word ‘genocide’ to describe the events of 1915, in opposition to official U.S. policy, he was forced to resign. Biden was among the leading senators who wrote a very strong letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in favor of Evans, urging Rice to reconsider her policy. Senator Biden, at that time, argued that the final goal of the claims of genocide is not U.S recognition of genocide claims, but rather to make Turkey recognize the events of 1915 as genocide. In 2007, he opposed Richard Hoagland’s appointment to Yerevan to replace Evans as Ambassador. During the Senate hearings, Hoagland refused to use the word genocide to describe the events. Biden delayed the committee vote on Hoagland, but eventually voted in his favor. Again in 2007, Biden cosponsored the Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.Res.106) and authored a resolution to honor Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Eventually, after the negotiations, Biden accepted the proper changes in the resolutions’ language to a degree that does not disturb the official Turkish position. Finally, in 2008, Biden urged the new appointment of Marie Yovanovitch as an Ambassador to replace Evans. Even though he questioned Yovanovitch’s position, and criticized her non-preference of the word genocide, he did not use his veto power to block the appointment. These voting patterns support the idea that Biden makes a clear distinction between his personal political position and the national interests of the U.S.
Iraq: soft partition or exit strategy?
One of the most important contributions Biden may make to U.S. politics is his exit plan from Iraq, which urges the establishment of “three largely autonomous regions with a viable central government in Baghdad” that are Kurd, Sunni and Shiite. Based on Leslie Gelb’s 2004 “three-state solution” article, this plan was prepared and perfected by Biden and Gelb. The so-called “Biden Plan,” sometimes referred to as “soft-partition,” restricts Baghdad’s function to a federal zone that mainly deals with three issues: national defense, foreign relations, and the distribution of oil money. The plan was crafted at a time when the U.S. situation in Iraq seemed hopeless, with the highest number of casualties and the country on the brink of civil war. Modeled according to the Dayton Accord, the Biden Plan argued that the only way to stop the violence was to divide the country into three autonomous zones with a federal and weak capital. As an alternative to Bush’s position of “staying the course,” as well as to the liberal imperative “bring the troops home now!” the Biden Plan offered a third, middle-way alternative. Had the plan been adopted, U.S. troops would have been redeployed or withdrawn from Iraq by 2008. Rather than being seen as the most complicated and refined strategy, the Biden Plan was an exit strategy that the U.S. needed at the time.
The Biden Plan was widely discussed in Washington as a third way and as a plausible exit strategy. In fact, the only problem with the plan was it was more popular in Washington than in Baghdad. Drawing sharp criticism from Iraqi politicians and Iraq’s neighbors – including Turkey and Iran – the plan was never taken seriously and was dismissed by the related interlocutors. At the height of the search for new direction and need for a new strategy, Iraqi Study Group funded by the Congress and led by veteran diplomats James Baker and Lee Hamilton, assessed the Biden plan and concluded that “The cost …. would be too high”. The plan disturbed Turkey, supported anti-American feelings in Turkey, and was seen as an evidence of U.S. intentions to remain over-involved in the region both in Iraq and in Turkey. When George W. Bush’s “surge strategy,” that strongly committed to territorial integrity of Iraq, worked out well in Iraq to reduce violence there, even Biden himself did not propose his plan again. During his presidential bid, he used the plan to display his difference from the other democratic candidates. However, especially after September 2007, he was careful not to bring the plan into the front. In fact, the website devoted to the plan is not available anymore and the plan is hidden from the eyes in Biden’s own website. Now, Biden’s plan for Iraq is no different than Barack Obama’s “phased withdrawal” plan that urges the U.S. not to withdraw abruptly, which would lead to a regional war that could continue for generations. Instead, Biden proposes a 16-month plan, starting from inauguration day, to withdraw the combat brigades to redeploy them in Afghanistan. He also advocates leaving some brigades for training, operational, and intelligence purposes. As different from Obama, Biden opposes permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.
Joe Biden was selected as Barack Obama’s vice presidential candidate largely because of his expertise in foreign policy. His function is to balance Obama’s so-called inexperience in foreign policy. The logic behind the selection process does not aim to reshape U.S. foreign policy but rather to play out the internal political dynamics of the U.S. Therefore it is not realistic to exaggerate Biden’s potential influence on a possible Obama presidency.
Traditionally, in U.S. politics, Dick Cheney-like strong vice presidents are exception, not the rule. If elected, Biden will take responsibilities when it is seen as appropriate by Obama. The president makes the hardest decision on his own, even if this president is George W. Bush as it is seen in Annapolis process, engagement with Iran and Iraq strategy. Therefore, it is wiser to focus on Obama’s foreign policy outlook rather than Biden’s, which would benefit Turkey in the long run with its realistic tendencies.
In the U.S. public administration, the Vice President is not the person who makes the decisions on foreign policy issues. Following the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State and National Security Adviser have more power and authority in shaping the foreign policy. Even though Biden is a strong character with expertise in foreign policy, it will be virtually impossible for him to make those critical decisions by himself. It will be a better strategy to wait for the names of those who will fill out those mentioned positions and, in the meantime, to focus on Obama’s general positions. Those possible names should be carefully followed and their positions should be studied.
Biden’s voting pattern, as it is displayed in three different issues does not seem friendly to the Turkish position. However, the shifts and changes in Biden’s same voting pattern prove that rather than being a huge moralist or a humanist, Biden gives priority to national interests over his personal preferences. Biden as a statesman would not create extra problems for Turkey at the expense of U.S national interests.
When Biden started voting against the Turkish positions, Turkey’s human rights record was not in good shape. When Turkey’s human rights record began to improve, it is possible to detect a slight change in his voting behavior in favor of Turkey. For instance in the 2007 Hrant Dink/article 301 resolution, Biden mentioned Turkey’s reaction to the assassination as a positive step and showed appreciation for Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdoğan’s words of condemning the assassination. Therefore, Turkey should keep its human rights record clean to avoid any further surprises.
Turkey has changed its official position on the issues of the events of 1915. Turkey’s proactive steps should carry these issues to a point where ethnic lobbies in Washington should be rendered almost ineffective. There are things to be done in Washington and in the U.S. on a social level, such as cultivating a politically united diasporic Turkish community that could encounter the negative effect of ethnic lobbies, but these efforts take very long time. Alongside with the lobbying efforts in Washington, which would be totally ineffective in a possible Obama presidency, in the short run, the solution should be sought in the new Caucasus Platform that Turkey has initiated. The crises in Caucasus may create a unique opportunity for Turkey. As Georgia is under occupation, U.S will urge to gain Armenia for the West; the only way to achieve this goal is to engage Armenia through Turkey. This opportunity would give leverage to Turkey on Armenia. If used effectively, the genocide resolutions issue could be solved forever by making an agreement with Armenia, with the help of U.S., in the interest of stable relations between Turkey and Armenia. Such a move would save Turkey from any further worry on this subject, and would allow Turkey to focus on other vital issues in Washington.
Biden’s oldest and most favorite subject, the Cyprus issue, is already frozen and far from creating urgent problems for Turkey after the Turkish Cypriot’s ‘yes’ vote to the Annan plan. The negotiations on September 3rd in the UN between the Greek and Turkish sides of Cyprus, may help the situation go in a better direction.
Rather than narrowly hiding behind pretexts and slogans such as “anti-Turkish Biden,” the new dynamics of the change in Washington should be carefully examined. Even though it seems that a potential Obama presidency would be against Turkey’s interests, Obama’s overall position in favor multi-lateralism, the primacy of international organizations, energy policies and diplomacy over unilateralism and the use of force would create wider opportunities and render ethnic lobbies useless, or at least less effective.
In Iraq, soft partition or the Biden Plan have faded away and is not an option for the U.S., at least for now. Therefore, instead of highlighting an already dead-plan, it would be wiser to work on better plans for further social, cultural and political engagements with Northern Iraq, and to foster stable and equal relations with other political players in Iraqi politics. The process shows that Turkey’s plan to solve Iraq’s problem by means of engagements with its neighbors is more viable and workable. Therefore there is no need to revisit the “Biden Plan.”
Turkey should correctly reassess its leverage on Iraq and U.S. in reference to Biden Plan. As it is mentioned in Iraqi Study Group Plan, one of the worries of U.S. about the viability of the Biden Plan was the risk of “destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions” i.e. possible intervention of neighboring states namely, Turkey and Iran, which was openly mentioned by Biden, during the Democratic presidential debate in August 2007. Therefore, it is clear that Biden Plan did not die a natural death, but it was forced to death by various efforts including threats coming from the neighboring countries. Without over- or under-estimating its leverage, Turkey should support the efforts that foster the central government in Iraq without loosing time on trivial issues to enhance its hand for a unlikely potential revival of Biden Plan.
In Iraq, Biden opposes to permanent U.S. bases, which fits into Turkish position. As it is seen in the discussions on SOFA agreement that aims to regulate U.S. presence in Iraq, even once-seemed-weak Iraqi central government has an incredible effect on U.S. internal politics. Turkey should analyze the sources of Iraqi government’s leverage to take advantage of Biden’s position on permanent bases. Offer. To be able to do that, more cooperation and engagement with Democrats are needed more than ever to further and deepen the relations.
Biden’s position on Iran is also very close to Turkey’s position. Being against Iran’s nuclear ambitions to acquire nuclear arms on the one hand, Biden is for more engagement with Iran. In at least for decade, starting from an effort to launch a dialogue with Iran’s ex-president Mohammad Khatami, Biden has been advocating more engagement, more dialogue even to a degree that he has been portrayed as the sole responsible for Bush’s failed Iran policy. Since the Iran and Iraq issues are closely related to each other, a position seeking for engagement with Iran would not risk instability in Iraq by supporting a partition plan. In addition to that, engagement policy would help Turkey to have better relations with U.S. in seeking for alternative natural gas sources for both herself and for filling the Nabucco project.
The Georgia crisis proved that a democratic president would seek to build bridges, craft new alliances and work for more stability in the broader region as opposed to a potential Republican president who would take the risk of military encounter with Russia. If not a war, a republican president would force turkey to take side whereas a democratic president is more likely to leave a space for turkey for more diplomacy with the neighboring countries. A possible clash in the region, whether it is against Iran or Russia, will force Turkey to take sides against its will. Such a policy will be detrimental to Turkish foreign policy efforts launched and build in the last 6 years and will force Turkey to be a frontier state again as it was during the Cold War era, rather than a regional power. Therefore a democratic foreign policy vision, supported by both Biden and Obama, would favor a more diplomatically active Turkey that would benefit for both the U.S. and Turkey.
In all of these issues, the person that should be watched carefully is Obama, not Biden. Biden, as a pragmatic vice president, would not capable of creating more problems for a Turkey that has been working effectively with its neighbors and has a better human rights record than ever before. Spending more energy to analyze Obama’s geopolitical priorities can benefit Turkey in the long run.
 Bülent Ali Rıza, “Obama’nın Başkanlığı Türkiye’yi Nasıl Etkiler?,” Interview with Anatolian Agency, 27 August, 2008.
 “New Lobby in Town: The Greeks,” Time Magazine, July, 14, 1975.
 For the rewritten text of the resolution: frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgibin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:sr65rs.txt.pdf
 Joseph Biden and Leslie H. Gelb, “Unity Through Autonomy in Iraq,” New York Times, May 1, 2006
 Leslie H. Gelb, “Three-State Solution,” New York Times, November 25 2003.
 The Iraqi Study Group Report, p. 39. Vintage Books, New York, December 2006. The reasons of the objection were possible “mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions.”
 The last time the plan was discussed through the Biden’s non-binding resolution that passed the Senate on September 26, 2007 with a bipartisan support 76-23 including Sen. Hillary Clinton formal and Sen. Barack Obama’s verbal support who missed the vote. (thomas.loc.gov/cgibin/query/z?c110:S.CON.RES.37:).
 Ali H. Aslan “Obama’nın Tercihi ve Türkiye’ye Yansımalar,” Zaman, August 25, 2008.
 Semih İdiz, “Türk Düşmanı Biden’ın Pelosi Açmazı,” Milliyet, August 25, 2008.
 Michael Rubin, “Biden’s Blink on Iran,” Washington Post, August 28, 2008.
Nuh Yılmaz is a research assistant in Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research. 02 September 2008, Nuh Yilmaz
Living With The ’Other’
The study titled "Being Different in Turkey: Those who are made to be like others based on religion and conservatism" revealed the fact that laics, especially living in Anatolia, feel pressure of the religious-conservative circles and discriminated.
Scientists conducted the study have the impression that "Pressure and discrimination applied to different identities are in accord with the activities of communities and functions of the staff appointed by the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in the Anatolian cities. And that causes concerns about Turkey’s future."
On the other side, it is the fact that in Turkey, particularly in big cities, people who choose to live an Islamist-conservative way of life feel pressured too. The problem is how people having different identities and living in different worlds will live together.
Living without understanding
At some period, the concept of "constitutional patriotism" associated with the German philosopher Jürgen was seen as a magic formula for living together in Turkey. =According to this, fundamental principles in a democratic constitution that are agreed by all will help cohabitation of people from different backgrounds in the same country. Such a constitutional agreement is a required pre-condition, but not enough.
Constitutional patriotism may allow different people living together, but it is not adequate to establish communication between individuals. People with different identities will look at each other, but not have any communication. How will they live together without understanding each other?
Main axis of cohabitation is the independence of Turkish people and their being individuals and the subject. In other words, independent from communal ties one should be able to decide over his own life story. This is at the same time is the issue of modernization of Turkish society. Progress in democracy is closely related to this. People in Turkey are living either in religious or secular communities.
Every community has its own codes and has no contact with the "other" if the other is not a member. Such a social structure causes polarization and constant tension inevitably. Man getting individualized is free to choose a life of pious. In modern societies public sphere allows people having different ways of life to cohabit.
The next step required is individual’s accepting and recognizing the "other" as an individual and to have contact with him. French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas derives the primacy of his ethics from the experience of the encounter with the "other," going beyond one’s own presence and being aware of the "other."
What is distinctive with the "other" is his face. Communication is possible only through face-to-face encounters. Connection does not eliminate the differences between individuals. On the contrary, communication maintains being different. Getting to know the "other," accepting his presence means going beyond one’s self and reaching out to the "other."
It means feeling responsible one’s self to the "other" without expecting anything in return. Levinas’ thought is important for the prevention of selfishness stems from individualism. His way of thought suggests loving people only because they are humans and feeling responsible for the other.
What kind of a Turkey?
I believe economic development and urbanization will bring individualization as well. However, the state has some duties in this direction such as following policies encouraging individualism not being involved in communities and providing institutional support to communication between individuals. All these require an understanding of democracy based on freedom of the individual and cultural diversity.
Settlement of a culture accepting the "other" and having contact with the "other" mostly depends on the education system. We need a brand new view point beginning with elementary school and teachers trained accordingly.
What kind of a Turkey we want to live in? Is it a Turkey where we have respect for the "other" or a Turkey where the "other" is forced to be united under "we," who will otherwise be eliminated in the process?
Rıza Türmen is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, and a columnist for the daily Milliyet, in which this piece appeared yesterday. It was translated into English by the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review's staff.
Rıza Türmen © Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
Vercihan Ziflioğlu Armenian Patriarch To Stay Despite His Illness
ISTANBUL - The Armenian Patriarchy is not an office that can function without an acting patriarch, said the editor-in-chief of Armenian daily Jamanak Ara Koçunyan, criticizing the decision of the Spiritual Council not to replace Patriarch Mesrob II who is said to be suffering from frontal lobe dementia.
As concern grows over the patriarchy without a patriarch, senior members of the community say any comments about the health of the patriarch attracts serious criticism from the conservative community and the patriarchy.
Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Koçunyan, whose newspaper first broke the story about the deteriorating health of the patriarch, said: "It is a very sensitive subject. It can be perceived as disrespectful to the office of the patriarch.
Koçunyan said the Spiritual Assembly met mid last year due to increasing concern over the patriarch and asked for the community to wait until the new year for a decision.
In a statement released by the Spiritual Synod last week, it was reported that members recognized Patriarch Mesrob II as the spiritual leader of the Armenian community in Turkey and that the patriarch was capable of handling all his responsibilities. "Members of the Spiritual Council do not believe it is necessary to cloud the community’s agenda with an issue such as the election of the patriarch and advise members of the community to wait in faith and patience," it said.
Koçunyan said the Spiritual Council did not have the right to issue such a declaration and that the Armenian Church traditionally did not have such an executive mechanism. "The Spiritual Council does not elect the patriarch. It is trying to force a fait accompli on the community."
Koçunyan said, "I would not like to judge the policies of an ill patriarch, but he did not display the democratic sensitivities of his predecessor," stating that both his newspaper and the Agos weekly faced embargoes and other prohibitions from the patriarchate in the past.© Copyright 2008 Hürriyet
"The AKP Contradicts Itself On The Armenian Question" by Mehmet Ali Birand 5 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
The Party of Justice and Development Party, or AKP, first appeared before us as a party that has a profound respect for human rights, freedom of thought, movement of civilians and that was even before the edge of these issues. And for that he received much applause and support of intellectual and liberal society. "The Armenian campaign Excuse" has ruined the image of the AKP, which had already been eroded in recent times. In this regard, the party has contradicted his former attitude.
A very distinct to confirm this is the immediate response of the Prime Minister, saying that this movement is harmful. The sign given by the person leading the administration was sufficient to enable all those who are deeply committed to the formal ideology. The most characteristic came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Burak Özügergin has made a very suitable. He said it was an action of civil society and the formal policy continued as before and stressed that in our hearts the pain of our diplomats martyrs has not yet fallen.
It was an extremely civilized and democratic. When arrived immediately after the negative reaction of the Prime Minister, everyone has watched the Foreign Minister Babacan. The minister did not surprise, aside from the statement by his spokesman, he said that such movement could inflict a heavy blow to ongoing negotiations with the Armenians.
Indicating that it has not dropped his boss. I think that the AKP has perjured on this issue and has shown he has changed. The AKP knew we would have reacted to this movement as President Gül. We have seen the opposite.
We reap what we sow
That is to say the AKP is democratic, but on his own grip. (...)
The campaign has revealed Armenian excuse like a bogeyman you have not believed. It is quite fair to oberver discussion. Oh, my god, it's unbelievable. Do not you fear when you read the words of Canan Aritman of the Republican People's Party or CHP?.
Aritman has become a symbol. A symbol for how twisted feelings of the Turkish people toward the Armenian issue. His statements and logical to continue to make you tremble.
On the other hand, I was stunned by the reaction of President Gül. At first sight it took a very civilized. He showed an attitude unlikely in the AKP. Then he was suddenly alarmed. He changed his position on the evidence of the origin of his mother. He explained and brought to trial. Why? In a lawsuit that means that his mother was an affront to a bad role or following an indictment. Still be a crime if the mother was Armenian Gül or another origin?
If only he had said "the origin of my mother is obvious. Even if it was of Armenian origin I would be proud of that" instead of revealing a family tree and make the statement "my family is Muslim and registered Turkey for centuries. "
If only he had not wanted to emphasize "Turkish and Muslim," as if being Armenian was a shame. In fact, all this confusion is based on the doctrine taught in school, in articles in newspapers and in discussions at universities. We have been high for several years with concepts distorted. And now we reap what we sow.
Understanding the Armenian issue
Sedat Laçiner the Organization of International Strategic Research, firstname.lastname@example.org, wrote a book extremely interesting. The book "Ermeni sorunu, Diaspora Türk ve Dis Politikası" has a basic purpose, it examines how the alleged Armenian affect 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 the development of the Armenian question and the effects of the diaspora on the foreign policy of Turkey in detail. I recommend it, read it. Even if you know very well, buy and store because it has a nice timeline.
Article published in the daily Hurriyet on 24 December 2008. Translation NAM
Armenian Genocide: The Turkish Institute Of History Condemned The Petition As An Excuse 5 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
The final response to the petition as an excuse launched by a group of Turkish intellectuals in order to apologize for the Armenian genocide of 1915 came from the Turkish Institute of History (TTK).
In a statement the TTK said "the Turkish History Intitut considers this as an obstacle that will weaken the confidence between the parties and cause a separation between the two nations."
In his written statement of the Turkish history Intitut found that the petition of apology is inappropriate and negative. According to the TTK the term "Great Catastrophe" is used with the same meaning as the Armenian genocide and starts to think that the public intellectuals have an opinion that identity of the Armenians.
The Turkish Intitut History is open to any research on the topic with Armenian scientists but says its offers have been rejected by the Armenians. According to the TTK "with events that have arrived in history, we must have a methodical and scientific approach of history and we must avoid such initiatives that support the ideas of a party. The intellectuals have come responsibility to stay away from such initiatives that can inform the public a false. The history should not be accepted as a revenge of blood and history should be left to historians. "
Turkey: "Breaking The Wall Of Denial And Shame" 5 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
Info Collectif VAN - www.collectifvan.org - Here is the text of a very exciting intellectual Turkish explains why it has signed, like twenty-five thousand six hundred and sixty eight Turkish citizens (the number of signatories Monday December 29 at 22:00), the petition of apology to the Armenians "Özür diliyorum (http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com/) and although it is not satisfied with the wording of the petition minimalist. We draw attention to the fact that the author, who has signed his name to the petition, can not afford to sign the article without using a pseudonym (Parev gear), and because she lives and works in Turkey where she might be charged under Article 301 for writing: "For example, for my part I am not satisfied with the definition of 1915 as only the Great Catastrophe. I wanted to sign at the bottom of a text that says openly Genocide. " For beyond the risks at the judicial level, flat course, the threat of physical violence can lead to murder ...
Engin Parev signed because "the weight of official denial / public has always been too unbearable to live with it." And because "the declaration will promote awareness and put pressure on the official historiography." Hopefully the. That was until the Armenians scattered around the world, waiting for the "real intellectuals" Turkish turn on and want their government to "recognize that Turkey, apology, and compensate officially losses suffered by the nation Armenian methodically exterminated on their ancestral lands, like other non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire (Chaldean-Assyrians, Pontic Greeks). Turkish intellectuals who are demanding a stronger and more concrete every day more. What is the next step? A future petition "less waffle" means the crime by its name and the culprits? Or should we expect a severe backlash Kemalists negationists circles, traditional allies of the Army?
As already noted, the initiative of Turkish intellectuals has created a wave of protests in nationalist circles in Turkey, Europe and the USA. Other sites on the same model have been launched, but with objectives contrary. Be "Ozurdilemiyorum" (I am not asking for forgiveness) (http://www.yyvdkusa.org/katilimcilar.php) received 60 013 accessions to the date of Monday, 29 December 2008 at 22H00.
And a website petition demanding an apology Armenians "Özür bekliyorum (http://www.ozurbekliyorum.com) for the massacres they have committed against the Turks (!) Has already collected 111 683 signatures. The campaign négationniste reversing the role of victims and executioners, is undoubtedly the most popular ...
But to gear up Parev, co-author with 25 668 other people, the petition states: "My conscience can accept that it remains indifferent to the great catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians suffered in 1915, and that denies. I reject this injustice, and for my part, I share the feelings and sorrows of my Armenian brothers and sisters and I ask forgiveness. "Le Collectif VAN presents you with a translation of an article published in English on the website of the newspaper Bianet 19 December 2008.
My right to apologize
My apologies are accepted or not, for the living or the dead, I want to continue to present until we all accept, understand, share the pain, sorry. But not that we forget, for eternity, what happened in 1915.
Like many people who have signed or have not signed the statement apologizing for the events of 1915, I also believe that its wording is not to the liking of some of us, but I guess that the drafters of it had discussed at length, and have reached a "compromise" to get as much participation as possible.
For example, for my part I am not satisfied with the definition of 1915 as only the Great Catastrophe. I wanted to sign at the bottom of a text that says openly Genocide. I think we have passed the stage of this caution, especially after the assassination of Hrant Dink.
In addition, some people have been left out of these excuses because we all know that the Assyrians were also among the victims of the genocide of 1915. And then, when it comes time to apologize to Rums (Greeks subject to Ottoman rule) and other non-Muslims in Turkey which may not have suffered so much and so many, but also suffered the same? Therefore the text would probably have said "the Armenian genocide, Armenians and others who lost their lives at that time and all non-Muslims who have suffered the same fate for similar causes of hatred, as Victims of crimes against humanity ... "
Another point likely to be criticized is that this statement of apology could be discussed a little longer by a larger number of people, rather than being immediately launched by the four leading intellectuals. This would have given everyone a chance to refine and better explore other forms of apology, and to improve it.
But I signed this declaration because:
Although I do not feel personally responsible for the genocide, I have signed for reasons of conscience, as expressed by many others, as Yasemin Çongar et al;
I believe that the declaration will promote awareness and put pressure on the official historiography.
I signed for reasons of compassion, and for cultivating empathy.
I signed to say that we, citizens of Turkey who want to look back in front, those of us who have to live here, who have really tired of the approach and public official denial, we can not do not sign such a document while some people have already taken the bold initiative to start somewhere, to make a step on a path of thorns.
I see this statement as a vanguard to follow through better declarations, for many, many others in the near future: this is just the beginning.
In response to criticism from those who do not wish to sign, saying they are citizens of the world and do not feel limited by the borders of a single state: those who signed the text of an apology are also citizens of the world ; that those who sign feel the subjects of the Turkish state, or they do on behalf of the Turkish state, would be very unfair to the signatories.
I signed because the weight of official denial / public has always been too unbearable to live with. You can imagine what living in a country where the truth as it has continually been hidden and where many people who wanted to speak have been prosecuted, have fled to other parts of the civilized world, or were killed as Hrant Dink. Hrant Dink was murdered because of this hidden history and hatred openly displayed. He was murdered because he was Armenian, and also because it is constantly trying to uncover the realities buried.
I wanted to sign, but not just to soothe my mind, since my mind is not always peaceful and will not until Turkey recognizes apology and compensate officially. My mind will not be appeased until I die - in remembering the Armenians, our brothers and sisters and others who have been forced to die as well. But this will be a small step forward on the path of seeking truth and soul. The effort is worth it, brick by brick to break down this wall of denial and shame.
I wanted to sign because I wanted to cry, not only by means of a signature but throughout my life, still I feel pain, suffer and I remember the lives lost and what they have suffered.
Finally, it is my right to apologize, not just those Armenians live, whether or not kinship with the victims of genocide - those are excuses to cover all the Armenians and Assyrians, and all human beings in the world - but also to the dead souls of the genocide of 1909 and 1915. My apologies are accepted or not (for the living or the dead) I want to continue to present until we accept, understand, share the pain, sorry. But not that we forget, even in eternity, what happened in 1915.
I may have omitted other important reasons or feelings still unexplained, but I just wanted to express some of them. The process of apology is not won with just a statement, it is a long, long hard road to be taken. And this statement is a sign to this path, and I want to congratulate the four courageous individuals who have initiated. (?P / EK)
BIA News Service - Ankara Friday, 19 December 2008 Translation www.collectifvan.org - December 30, 2008
Abdullah Gul: "The Petition Of Apology Is Not A Positive Contribution" 5 January 2009, Stéphane / armenews
The initiative launched by a group of Turkish intellectuals to apologize to the Armenians in Anatolia during the genocide of 1915 is likely to have a negative effect on the efforts of Turkey to reconcile with Armenia "said Turkish President Abdullah Gül .
For him Turkey and Armenia have reached an historic opportunity to talk about issues in good faith and this process of dialogue between the two countries continues.
The petition of apology has already been signed online by more than 26,000 people and has triggered a heated debate in Turkey and led to the criticism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Abdullah Gül had for its part welcomed the initiative as evidence of freedom of expression in Turkey, but later he said this did not mean that he is in favor of the petition.
"To speak frankly, this will affect the process negatively," said Abdullah Gul in an interview with the daily Zaman and the ATV television station last week. "In view of the consequences and the latest debates, I do not think he has had a positive contribution."
Opponents of the petition stated that Turkey is not an excuse following the events of the first world war because the Armenians have also attacked the Turks in collaboration with the Russian army. Others said that the timing of the petition was inappropriate and could undermine public support towards diplomatic efforts to restart the dialogue between Turkey and Armenia.
When an excuse pétittion started, critics have referred nationalists Abdullah Gül said he was responsible for the initiative because it paved the way for such a step pursuing reconciliation with Armenia. A member of the opposition Canan Aritman of Pauple Republican party (CHP) has even claimed that the mother of Gül had Armenian roots, and that was the reason for his lack of condemnation of the campaign. Abdullah Gül responded by saying that his family was Muslim and Turkish and prosecuted Canan Aritman for his remarks.
Abdullah Gül insisted on freedom of expression by saying that individuals do not need to have permission from the state to undertake such initiatives, but warned that the polarization that has triggered the petition has had a negative . "Sometimes such measures come at a time as they cause polarization immediately to a massive scale because of the sensitivity of the topic in question. And so it affects the [diplomatic]."
The Turkish and Armenian diplomats have held secret talks for a possible normalization of relations since the historic visit of Turkish President to Yerevan in September. Abdullah Gül has refused to comment about the diplomatic contacts, saying only that efforts were underway. "Sometimes efforts are made public, but sometimes they are made in secret," he said.
Turkey wants that Armenia is part of the Platform of Stability and Cooperation in the Caucasus that it has proposed a regional organization aimed at peacefully resolving the conflicts that would also include Turkey, Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Abdullah Gül dismissed claims that Azerbaijan was unfortunate the initiative of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and said that Baku was satisfied that steps in the direction of a solution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh between the Azerbaijan and Armenia were in the interest of all.
Abdullah Gül also said he expected an extension of cooperation with the United States with the arrival of President Barack Obama on 20 January. "The biggest difference between Obama and the previous administration is that it is ready to prevent unilateralism in world affairs and is ready to cooperate with other countries. And both the EU seeking multilateral action, both Turkey will be one of the most important partners of the United States, "he said. A question which Turkey is in a position of strength is Afghanistan. "We believe that measures of military and defense budgets will not solve the problems. The problems become even greater if you do not win the hearts of the people," said Abdullah Gül.
About the process of accession of Turkey to the EU, Abdullah Gül said he hoped the New Year will be very productive in terms of reforms and progress toward membership, but also sent a critical EU and said not all the blame was on the shoulders of Turkey, as we thought. "In fact, Turkey is many things, but the EU does not lead to progress towards accession," he said, blaming the European leaders for their lack of strategic vision. "The EU is in a state of contradiction. She is not aware of its own powers, and sacrifice so many important issues for small political benefits," said Abdullah Gul.
The President also met the Turkish media speculations about disagreements with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Our friendship is eternal. We continue this friendship in a professional manner and civilized. We have a professional attitude, modern one to the other," he explained. "If some people want to see battles between the president and prime minister of this country is beyond question and will remain so."
Armenian Mob Implicated in Credit Card Scheme, Jan 3, 2009, by John Fredericks/ STAFF http://beaconcast.com
Alpharetta is known for a lot of things: High-tech, high economic growth, great city planning, exceptional public schools and outstanding parks and recreation. Now two new objects of notoriety can be added to its rich history: The Russian mob and the Alpharetta cops who cracked them open.
It all started around late August when four alleged Russian gang members of Armenian descent, all of them likely near the bottom of the crime mob totem pole, descended on Alpharetta from Glendale, Ca. to set up crime operations. All four entered the country illegally. No one knows exactly how the four made their way into the U.S. But like the millions of other foreigners who are in America illegally, they did. Then they made their way to Alpharetta and rented two adjacent apartments at the Jameson Pass Alara North Point complex by North Point Mall. The four male suspects who leased the apartments are Karen Khalatayn, Ara Autuni, Boris Toumasian and Edmond Alexanyan. They are said to have used false names on their rental applications.
It is not plausible that the “gang of four” chose to lay down roots in this bedroom suburban community to start a new life, get jobs, pay taxes, and do volunteer work at the local church. Reasonable conjecture, based on the facts uncovered to date, strongly indicates someone probably sent them, bankrolled them, and managed them.
RUSSIAN AND ARMENIAN MOB ROOTS
During the 1970s and 1980s, under the guise of the Russian-Jewish refugee program, “The KGB emptied their prisons of hard-core criminals, much like Cuban dictator Fidel Castro did during the Mariel boatlift of 1980,” noted U.S. Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA). “The 1989 Lautenberg Amendment expanded refugee admissions from the Soviet Union to up to 50,000 per year. This was followed, in 1991, by provisions for legal immigration from the now independent states of the former USSR.”
Dubbed by Russian criminals as "the big store," the United States is now home to criminal gangs from all 15 former Soviet republics, including Armenia. Since the mid-1970s, the hub of Russian organized crime in the U.S. has been the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn, New York, known as "Little Odessa." From there they have expanded their operations to Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, California, and now, perhaps, Alpharetta.
THE GLENDALE CONNECTION
The city of Glendale, where the suspected Alpharetta criminals are from, has the largest Armenian population outside of the Republic of Armenia. Several Armenian organized crime organizations have been fingered by the Feds, who say their most prevalent crime operations involve the control of independent filling stations, where they water down fuel sold to the public and skim profits and also participate in identity theft, credit card fraud, drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.
The federal economic stimulus plan might have unintended benefits for organized crime.
At least that's the assessment of experts who monitor groups like the Russian Mafia in Los Angeles County.
"They take advantage," said Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Larry Hastings. "The more money that's out there; if there's some type of scam they can get into, they'll go after it. If there's an angle they'll work it."
One suspect at an ATM machine
Possibly looking to gain a foothold in the south, the alleged gang chose North Fulton County. Economically vibrant with the one of the highest household income levels in the southeast, this may have been a simple matter of financial demographics for the criminal network. If you are going to rob people, go where the money is, right?
In selecting their base of operations, maybe they looked at local law enforcement, too. Roswell PD, noted for its tough and dogged old school detective style, its vast network of snitches and informants and its propensity to bend the rules to apprehend its crime suspects at any cost could have proved worrisome.
Johns Creek has a plethora of cops they just hired with not much to do, as their crime is minimal, so they have a lot of time on their hands. Possibly Alpharetta, with a younger detective force and a revolving door of Police Chiefs until Public Safety Director Gary George arrived on the scene, may have looked liked a safer bet.
The other factor is the proximity to North Point Mall. The living quarters the suspects chose is right behind the mall, and with credit card fraud as their primary thievery, this may have made sense on the surface.
“They chose to live in close proximity to the mall because a big part of their criminal activity involved fraudulent gift cards,” said Alpharetta Public Information Officer George Gordon.
THE CRIME SCHEME
Khalatyan acted as the front man. He took a job as an hourly night clerk at the BP filing station at 11425 Haynes Bridge Road in Alpharetta, a few miles from his makeshift headquarters sometime in late August.
This may have been done for two reasons. The first is that the main revenue source the gang targeted was credit card forgery. The second is that one of the primary crime activities his alleged mob is involved in is gas skimming at local filling stations. So this was undoubtedly familiar territory to Khalatyan.
Once established, the suspects engineered an elaborate credit card fraud scheme they perpetrated on unsuspecting late night BP customers. This involved changing out the electronic credit card swipe machine when no one was around and replacing the BP supplied one with their own version by simply unplugging BP’s and plugging in their counterfeit replica. This bogus machine would do everything the BP device did, like send the funds to the BP clearing bank, print out a BP receipt and balance BP’s cash register. What it also did was capture the name of the card user, the credit card number and electronically encode the metallic stripping.
Each time a customer would buy something in the store with a credit or debit card, Khalatyan caught the information in his fraudulent machine. The suspect would ask the customer if it was a debit. If so, the user would then enter his or her pin number in the device, and Khalatyan would capture that too by using a small hidden camera.
Once they had a built up an inventory of new accounts, Khalatyan would take the gadget back to his apartment and his cohorts would replicate the debit or credit cards, right down to the magnetic strip and pin number. They would then go to area ATM machines, withdraw money from the victims’ accounts, buy gift cards or merchandise and the heist was on.
“They stole somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000 that we know of from at least 150 different victims,” said Gordon. “It is easily the biggest credit card fraud scheme in the city’s history.”
(Top) The suspects used credit card swipers like the ones above to enact their scheme. (Above) The suspects wore distinctive clothing that was caught on surveillance cameras.
Gordon added, “The crime operation was sophisticated, well organized and high-tech. The suspects had some of the most advanced credit card replication equipment we have come across and their duplication process was smooth and seamless. They knew this end of their business and they had to tools to pull it off.”
The suspects then began withdrawing money with their newly minted cards, mostly in odd amounts, between $100 and $400 and always ending with $1 or $3. One Alpharetta law enforcement official who is not authorized to speak on behalf of the department surmised, “The suspects probably banked on the fact that many affluent patrons would not notice the amounts withdrawn, or may have overlooked them in their bank statement, or thought maybe they took the cash out and forgot.”
This assumption soon proved folly and laid the groundwork for their eventual arrest. “The first case of fraud was reported to us in mid-September,” Gordon acknowledged. “A resident contacted us and said all her accounts were wiped out.” Alpharetta authorities said that after the first report, “another 34 similar thefts were reported over the next two months.”
The APD, now believing this was a huge organized crime effort, started to move in. The lead detectives assigned to the case were David Bochniak, a former FBI task force member and Mike Davis. Both are savvy veterans of the APD’s undercover Crime Suppression Unit (CSU). “They, along with their unit, cracked this case,” said Gordon.
Detectives Bochniak and Davis asked the victims for their credit card statements and started looking for commonalities in the crimes. They uncovered three almost immediately. All the cardholders had money stolen out of ATM machines, most lived on the southwest side of town and all had at least one common transaction for the time period in question: a purchase at the BP station on Haynes Bridge Road.
“Many lived within 3-7 miles of each other,” one official confirmed. “One third of those robbed lived on Gardner Avenue alone.”
When asked why the suspects themselves didn’t figure out that their prevalent routine would have eventually led the cops right to them, one APD official who preferred anonymity opined, “They had a sophisticated operation but these weren’t the brightest guys. At the end of the day, they’re thugs.”
The BP station became the focal point of the investigation. Bochniak and Davis pulled the videos from the BP and all the ATM’s that were ripped off. “Each ATM video depicted one of the two same males making each withdrawal.” Unbelievably, the two video suspects wore unique pieces of clothing. “They both wore the same baseball caps every time, one with an Eagle emblem and one with an ‘AE’ insignia. One wore a very different kind of shoe and one wore a rare ring on his index finger,” said Gordon.
The videos led the CSU unit right to Khalatyan, who was hired unknowingly by a BP manager in the time period of the criminal activity. BP executives, when asked by The Beacon to shed light on their background check procedures for new hires, refused comment.
Cops, who said BP cooperated in the investigation, identified Khalatyan in both the gas station and ATM surveillance photos, and APD officials promptly looked into his background. They discovered two of the four suspects had priors in California – for credit card fraud, nonetheless. Bochniak and Davis’s unit then put Khalatyan on around the clock undercover surveillance. This effort, spanning several weeks, led to APD obtaining a search warrant from Alpharetta Judge Barry Zimmerman for the suspects’ two apartment units.
THE INNOCENT BOTCH
As CSU officers meticulously planned the execution of their search warrant, a wrench got thrown into their plans. An Alpharetta on duty police officer, not aware of the undercover operation ¬– which is standard operating procedure – made a routine traffic stop in the course of doing his job.
Unfortunately and unsuspectingly the cop pulled Khalatyan over for driving without lights on in the rain. Khalatyan could not produce a picture ID or a valid driver’s license. He then provided a fictitious name and false date of birth to the cop. When his info didn’t check out, the officer arrested Khalatyan on two misdemeanor charges, booked him and he got shipped to Fulton County jail after a short stay in the Alpharetta detention center.
Upon learning this, and fearing Khalatyan would tip off his cohorts, CSU moved up their timeline for the search and moved in. Their strategy was two fold: execute the search, arrest whoever was there if the evidence on the scene supported it and then get an arrest warrant from a Fulton County Judge before Khalatyan got out of jail. Timing now was imperative. And short.
Approximately 15 undercover cops circled the suspects’ Alpharetta apartments the night of December 10 and entered the units, warrants in hand. They hit the jackpot. After securing two of the four suspects, Ara Autuni and Boris Tousmasian, they seized $50,000 in cash, a plethora of sophisticated credit card encoding equipment, scanning devices, thousands of dollars in fraudulent gift cards and $10,000 worth of heroin and cocaine. No guns were found.
“This was a well financed operation,” said Gordon. APD is now guessing the suspects did not operate alone. The main theory being forwarded by the FBI is that they are foot soldiers in the Armenian mob based in Glendale, Ca. “They were very well organized,” commented one law enforcement official who is not authorized to talk to the media. “We are now looking into bank accounts they controlled, and it could lead much higher up the food chain. There is no telling where this may lead. There are much bigger fish here. We don’t believe they were working independently.”
“We were surprised at how brazen they were,” said Gordon. “Experience shows this would have been a quick hit – in and out in a few weeks. But they stayed.”
One official surmised they just got overconfident. “It was too easy for them.”
Some of the most incriminating evidence uncovered during the search included both hats the two men wore during every single ATM heist – with the same emblems on them. One official with knowledge of the scene said, “The unique clothing they wore – rings, hats and shoes, practically shouted, ‘catch me.’ Well, they got caught.”
The evidence uncovered during the search led to a Fulton County magistrate judge signing an arrest warrant for all four suspects that include 149 different charges each. “If convicted, they are looking at significant Federal prison time,” said Gordon. He emphasized that the successful arrests to date were a combination of, “Our residents – unfortunately victims in this case – coming forward and exceptional police work by our lead detectives and the entire CSU unit. They put in countless resources and man hours and got this done with persistence, professionalism and hard work.”
TWO THAT GOT AWAY
Tousmasian and Autuni were arrested during the search and are currently in jail. Alexanyan was not at the apartment at the time of the raid and is at large. Khalatyan, sadly, beat the clock. He managed to get released on a signature bond hours before APD got a Federal judge to sign the arrest warrants. One high-ranking official in Paul Howard’s Fulton County’s DA office who is not authorized to speak to the press said Georgia law prohibited him from being held longer than he was.
“He was booked on two traffic misdemeanors. The DA’s office had nothing to do with this incident. He took advantage of the law and simply signed himself out with a signature bond. This is a matter of just plain dumb luck for the suspect in question.”
Fulton County authorities said they could not hold him without a signed warrant for his arrest. An official in the Sheriff’s Department who preferred not to be identified simply said, “We go by the rules.” An APD official lamented, “We would have preferred his bond was put off until the last one of the night, but it is what it is. We have no control over what happens down there.”
Gordon had a different take. “He is at large, but not committing crimes in Alpharetta. We will eventually get him.” Gordon said both the FBI and Homeland Security are involved and there is a nationwide manhunt for both suspects, and no bonds will be issued. “I don’t know how he got in the country,” Gordon added. “But they can’t get out.”
Editors note: If anyone supsects they may be a potential fraud victim from the BP station on Haynes Bridge Road please email the Alpharetta Police Department at email@example.com John Breech contributed to this story
Turkey: Apology Shakes Apologia Over Armenian Genocide December 28th, 2008 by Simon Maghakyan
Challenging 90 years of institutionalized denial of the massacre and deportation of the Ottoman Empire's indigenous Armenian community during WWI, tens of thousands of Turkish intellectuals, academics, writers, journalists and dissidents have apologized online for the “Great Catastrophe.”
One of two examples of man's inhumanity to man that  prompted Raphael Lemkin to coin the term “Genocide” in 1943, Nova Scotia Scott  sets the scene for an unprecedented initiative that has sparked a lively discussion across the globe which ranges from applause to outrage.
Three Turkish academics and one writer have violated Turkey’s biggest taboo by issuing a public apology for the mass killings suffered by Armenians beginning in 1915. In the recent past, Turkey has prosecuted public figures who dare even to admit that the genocide happened […] Predictably, ultra-nationalists have denounced the apology, calling it a “betrayal” and “an insult to the Turkish nation”.
After the initiative was approved by 200 Turkish intellectuals, the apology was launched at  http://www.ozurdiliyoruz.com for others to sign. One of the signatories, Ziya Meral, explains on Denizens' Corner  why he signed.
[A]s a Turk, who was born in 70’ies, I am in no way legally or criminally responsible for acts committed by distant actors…. Sure, I did not exist when Armenians were marched to their deaths, but I am still a member of the community in which such events took place, thus still have a moral responsibility to act, no matter how limited my acts can be.
I remember crying for hours in [Armenia’s capital] Yerevan, with no theoretical basis to help me to process the trauma of being confronted with skeletons of a past of which I had no clue. That night I stood in front of a group of Armenians, asking them to forgive me, not for the acts as such, but for my personal failure of not knowing, not caring, and not hearing their cries. That is my personal moral failure, and for that I am sorry. That sorrow led me to do a Masters degree dealing with reconciliation and memory issues, and now a PhD on the subject.
Another Turkish blogger, Ayse Erin,  explains why she put her name to the apology.
I can only applaud such an initiative but do acknowledge that the way to reach real understanding and reconciliation between the two nations has been extremely slow and full of denials during the last 90 years. There is still a lot to do, and if signing the online petition can help taking a step forward, I have no other choice than taking action and start with an apology.
Blogging at the Istanbulian, Turkish journalist Emre Kizilkaya  doesn’t endorse the move.
Even if all Turks, without any exception, of the early 20th century had killed all the Armenians of the time, why should the grandchildren of the killers make an apology to the grandchildren of the victims?
…the apology campaign has turned out to be a joke at some point, considering the people who has [sic] signed the letter.
Doesn't the signature of Peter Gabriel, the Genesis singer, got a sublime symbolic quality? An Englishman apologizes to the Armenians for a Turkish crime?
Favoring the  establishment of a joint Armenian-Turkish historical commission instead, Talk Turkey is also unimpressed by the petition and  especially the counter response to the initiative.
To apologize or not to apologize… or to be apologized to…
But to counter the recent popularity of the signature campaign, with ‘we're not apologizing,' or yet another one insisting it's the Armenians who should be apologizing, may not have been the smartest thing to do. It only works to de-unify the Turks and the Turkish people.
Do we really think the world is going to determine our worthiness by comparing the two signature campaigns, and public opinion will be swayed by whichever side gets the most signatures?
The Nevin Politology is angry with the apology and instead  recalls the assassinations of Turkish diplomats by Armenian militants in the 1970s and 80s.
My father was a UN diplomat and we lived in fear while living abroad for so many years. Armenian terrorists killed over 200 innocent diplomats, and their wives, children, and friends. While living in Canada, I had to go to school under police protection. We had police waiting in front of our home 24/7. My family received threatening phone calls, threatening letters, insults, hate, hate, and lots of lots of hate. Who will take back those year?
The Armenian reaction is mixed too. Calling the apology a “good first step, but not good enough,” Armenian-American columnist Harut Sassounian  summarizes the U.S.-Armenian Diaspora's response to the initiative on the Huffington Post.
Some welcomed the apology as a good first step, while others expressed concern that Turks would try to cover up their responsibility for the Genocide by issuing a simple apology. Armenian critics pointed out several shortcomings in the Turkish statement: First, the apology avoided the term Armenian Genocide by referring to it as the “Great Catastrophe.” Second, it alluded to the year 1915 only, rather than 1915-1923. Third, the apology was issued by individual Turks rather than the Turkish state…
Nonetheless, he sees some good in the apology.
[It] serves the useful purpose of educating the Turkish public that has been kept in the dark so long about the Armenian Genocide. Rather than an Armenian-Turkish historical commission [suggested by Turkey’s government], 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.
Unzipped  agrees.
Even though they did not mention the G-word, this is a remarkable step forward by a group of Turkish thinkers in a country where Armenian Genocide still remains a taboo, albeit a broken one, and where by mere mentioning of the Genocide one could get persecuted or killed.
Another Armenian blogger, Kornelij [RU], is  impressed with Turkey's intelligentsia.
In Turkey there is a layer of current intellectuals who go against the rule of authorities, sit in prisons for their beliefs, write books, are published in newspapers… Something that in Armenia one can only dream of.
I think, these people (the majority of them at least) are moved by real feeling. We shouldn’t look for hypocrisy and lies in all Turks… And that they did not use the word “genocide” still in no way belittles this step, especially taking into account that [signing the apology] can simply result in having one’s head broken.
While Armenia: Higher Education & Science  calls the Turkish apology “a courageous act,” not everyone in Armenia feels the same way. Noni-no [AM], for instance,  says she will only accept regret with land reparations. Commenting on Noni-no's post, Satenik [AM]  agrees:
The Turk has committed the crime [of genocide] through a magnitude of ways, for which s/he is now trying to draft a supposed apology. An apology must be through action, not through words. [The Turk] hasn’t cursed in order to say “sorry” and get away with that. For committed crimes - apology proven with action.
Enotitan Revolution remembers others who suffered in the Ottoman Empire and is  excited by the news.
This is a great sign of the coming International recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic Genocides. The Truth can not be denied for much longer!
Meanwhile, the initiative has caused some outrage in political circles in Turkey itself with the Turkish president now facing questions about his origin. Istanbul Calling  explains.
The Armenian issue also seems to have a way of exposing an intolerant streak in Turkish society. […] Canan Aritman, a member of parliament with the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), has upped the ante: after Turkish president Abdullah Gul refused to criticize the online apology, saying the signers had a right to post it, Aritman accused the president of being — heaven forbid — an “Armenian.” “Investigate the ethnic origin of the president's mother and you will see,” she said.
Gul quickly responded, saying all Turkish citizens are equal, no matter what their background. Just to be safe, though, he also added that both his mother and father come from families that have been Muslim and Turkish for “centuries.” Good to know. (UPDATE — Gul is now suing Aritman, for the symbolic sum of 1 lira, claiming a “heavy assault” on his “personal and family values, honor and reputation.”)
The Impudent Observer also  comments on the accusations against Gul.
The easiest way to attract attention in Turkey to oneself is to become furious when anyone dares suggest that Armenians were murdered in a genocidal attack by the Ottoman empire. […] Naturally, an apology to Armenians is viewed by many as tantamount to expressing treason against the Turkish state. President Abdullah Gul has urged calm in discussion of the issue, but even hi[s] mild statement led to charges he is really a secret Armenian.
Whatever the reaction in Turkey, however, the move  has had a positive effect on many Armenians, as detailed on my Blogian.
When I gave my father a print-out of the apology in western Armenian, his initial reaction was: “They took all of our land and memory and all they give us is an apology by a group of small people who don’t even use the word genocide?” To my surprise, he then added, “I accept their apology.”
And earlier this April, when a group of Turkish lobbyists and community organizers denied the Armenian genocide during a commemorative lecture at University of Denver, an Armenian friend of mine (who openly calls himself a nationalist), said to the audience that if a Turk told him “sorry” for the Genocide he would give that Turk a “big, Armenian hug.”
My friend owes 20,000 Turks big, Armenian hugs. Let’s hope the number grows so big that he will never be able to give so many hugs in 90 years.
Comments to “Turkey: Apology Shakes Apologia over Armenian Genocide”
December 28th, 2008 kurdangel: 1
Turkey still is committing Genocide at present.. not by chemical weapons.. but through a diverse range assimilation agains kurds and others in Turkey!
until not a long time ago kurds didnt exist in turkey,, they were refferd at as mountain turks, now Leyla Zana is being sentenced because she spoke publically about our leaders Ie. Barzani, Talabani and Ocalan. this is a big step.. but turkey has to go a long way till it reaches the end.. and until the army has a big influence on the government,, forget democracy and forget justice!
December 28th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian: 2
Simon, ozurdiliyoruz.com seems to have been hit by hackers again.
December 28th, 2008 Turgay Uykusuz: 3
I am one of the persons who signed that apology. As a human being I felt sorry for the death of innocent people, women and children during forced emigration though it was caused by the betrayal and attacks of Armenian marauders supported by Russian and England.
This is not accepting that so called genocide.
If there is genocide it was done by those Armenian marauders and 13 persons from the family of my mother were killed. They were old man, women and children. I never hated Armenians. It was a war like everywhere in the world and actually, Armenians started that war and killed thousands of innocent people, woman and children without any reason but directed by Russians and British.
Even in recent date, in Hodjali/Azerbaijan, thousands of innocent people and children were killed by Armenians and they even cut open the abdomens of pregnant women and killed their children and the women beastly, cruelly. These are hard facts known by all world.
If claimers are sure that there was a genocide, Turkey is ready to open all achieves to debate that matter through historians and related authorities.
Let’s open our and your state archives and examine all documents.
But that problem must be solved anyway. The continuance of this problem damages Armenia much more than Turkey.
I hope one day common sense prevail those Armenian Diaspora, radicals and fanatics and we forget everything remained in the past and live in brotherhood like we both nations did it centuries.
December 28th, 2008 Simon Maghakyan: 4
Hi Onnik, the site works on my computer (could be from my cookies though), although I have seen it down at least once.
December 28th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian: 5
Simon, I get the following error: Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)
Can someone on Beeline in Armenia who hasn’t accessed the site before check it? Thanks.
December 28th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian: 6
Simon, just asked a friend in Armenia with a Beeline ADSL connection and he says he gets the same error. Meanwhile, at the same time, you can access it and so can I on my VivaCell connection. Why?
December 28th, 2008 Onnik Krikorian: 7
However, now I can access on all connections. Would still like to know why I couldn’t earlier, though.
December 28th, 2008
Nova Scotia Scott » Blog Archive » Brawl in Turkish Parliament over Armenian apology: 8
[...] Maghakyan at Global Voices has a round-up of reactions from Turkish and Armenian bloggers. Some Turkish bloggers support the apology, others vehemently denounce it. Some Armenian bloggers [...]
December 29th, 2008 Some begin to grow up | Antony Loewenstein: 9
[...] Much of the global mainstream Jewish establishment still denies ethnic cleansing took place in 1948, but in other countries things are beginning to change: [...]
December 29th, 2008 tolga: 10
It make me thinking on why i have to apologize?
Armenians massmurdered many muslim in east anatolia.. It is well know by the ctizen. While there were so many withnes.. and their sons and daughters. living today.
WHy they close their eyes to the light?
Why they dont feel anything for death muslims?
It is ironic that recently they massmurdered 100 000 number of turk in azerbaycan.. and caused 1,000,000 of refugee.
What do they want actualy?
December 29th, 2008 Mike Smith: 11
To “The Nevin Politology”:
It was unfortunate that your life was inconvenienced by threats while you were growing up abroad. However, it was even more inconvenient for the 1.5 MILLION innocent Armenians that were killed at the hands of the Turks.
So, mathematically, 1,500,000 Armenians minus 200 Turks equals 1,499,800 Turks that can be killed BEFORE you can even begin to start complaining about your “innocent” diplomats.
How will the 1.5 MILLION innocent Armenians take back the years they were denied to live? Certainly not by the lies and deception that the current Turkish diplomats live to spread.
An appology is the first step to begin the healing process.
December 30th, 2008 It’s about time Turkey was in the EU! | Jill Rees: Welcome Press: 12
[...] increasingly vociferous and enamoured with free speech, dealing with difficult issues suxh as the Armenian question. Many of Turkey’s laws and tradtions are way more liberal than either original European block [...]
January 2nd, 2009 Sarkis: 13
If Turkey wants to display itself as a progressive modern country, worthy of recognition by other nations & perhaps be allowed to join the EU, it has to grow up & admit it’s guilt and allow it’s citizens to talk about the Armenian Genocide from 1890 to 1923 freely.
Simply put Turkey has run out of time & the Genocide has become its Moral, Political & perhaps Economic millstone in the 21st century.
Just go to the link below & see that an independent USA site gives full account of the whole atmosphere, intent, craftiness & denial by Turkey.
The site also lists other 20th Century Genocides to present a fair perspective to the readers and to show the mindset of some individuals and nations.
Turkey has done a great job of hiding this dark chapter of their & world history but can no longer defend it’s actions, as their own citizens are feeling the embarrassment of the denial and are using “safe” methods like the internet to admit it & they are not ashamed either. This new wave is too mighty for Turkey to defend against. This matter will not go away! Just deal with it!
The only way out is to be brave & admit one’s bad deeds in the past and move forward in life, rather than procrastinate & cause grief to the sufferers.
I hope Turkey will step up to account for it’s barbaric & opportunistic past & open the path for it’s own growth.
P.S. Here are some quotes to help you along with the decision:
“Delay is the deadliest form of denial.”
Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning. CHARLES TREMPER
The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid. RICHARD BACH
Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. MARK TWAIN
January 3rd, 2009 tolga: 14
Turkey shoulnd have a problem like proving itshelf to the world.. Turkey is only have to prove itshelf to its residents..
January 8th, 2009 Mesozi: 15
Mike Smith wrote: “Mathematically, 1,500,000 Armenians minus 200 Turks equals 1,499,800 Turks that can be killed BEFORE you can even begin to start complaining about your “innocent” diplomats.”
This is the kind of insensitivity from where genocides spring! I ask everyone to be sensible before starting to headcount deaths. 1 person or 1,500,000. Murder is murder; not a statistics game.
In fact, the people of the world whether Armenian or Turkish, need to learn not to discriminate: There is nothing as a single type of Turk. There is nothing as a single type of Armenian. Everywhere there are human beings (Good, bad or mostly ok) whose rights are sometimes violated by states. Nobody deserves to be killed or exiled.
That’s why we need to protect all human beings. That’s why we need “human rights.” It is not enough to protect and love only what we call “ours”. Armenians need to love Turks and Turks need to learn to love Armenians.
I hope everyone understands what Jesus said in these verses someday. It has beeen 2000 years and we still have not come to this moral standard:
“But I tell you: Love your enemies[a] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?”
Matthew 5:44-47 (New International Version)
January 9th, 2009 mehmet: 16
A lots of Turks had died from Armenian-Turk War.where is the thousands of Turks?they had died.Firstly Armenian groups attacted to Turks.later Turks gave reaction.That is a War…Armenaians lost…İf Armenians would win,Turks live in out Anatolian…that is true.That wa a War ,,,Armenian-Turk War….Ottoman Empire won that War.
The Armenian Issue In The Netherlands: The Removal Of The Three Turkish-Originated Mps From The Candidacy List Nermin Aydemir, Journal of Turkish Weekly, 18 October 2006 (Date was corrected/changed upon clarification) (This item apparently is an old article)
The Armenian issue is nowadays quite popular in Europe. The French brought legislation to the parliament, placing all the counter arguments against the so-called Armenian genocide out of bounds. If it is passed, rejecting the so-called genocide will be penalized either by casting into prison or imposing substantial fines.
Discussions go on in the Netherlands after the three Turkish originated MP candidates (Erdin Sacan-labour party, Ayhan Tonca and Osman Elmaci from Christian democratic party) have been removed from the candidate list just for not accepting the existence of so-called Armenian genocide. A similar thing had happened to Derya Bulduk, who was a candidate from the FDF (Democratic front of the Francophones) in Belgium.
The two mainstream parties claim that the Netherlands accepted the so-called Armenian genocide and base their claims on the recommendatory decision on 21 December 2004, recognizing the existence of the so called genocide.
According to the General Assembly decision of the UN in 1948, genocide is defined as; killing members of a group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The chair of ISRO, Sedat Laciner (Laciner, 2005) defines genocide as "the worst crime a human being can ever do", which I completely agree with. Nevertheless, the ugliness of the case does not give the right to accuse people without substantiating such arguments on valid evidences. We need to post a clear difference between widely confused themes. Being against genocide is one thing, using genocide for some political ends is another thing. Sometimes we put critical thinking completely aside and defend democratic values and norms so blindly that this adherence itself becomes a deficit to democracy.
We have evidences of the Holocaust and see it as among the worst, maybe the worst case in humanity. But do we really have such proofs regarding the Armenian issue? What if, the Armenians were not tortured?!
Thousands of people die in Sudan right now, Israel killed thousands of other just two months before. People died in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia and many other places for just being a member of a particular group. Why do we turn blind eyes to all these and are so much insistent on punishing people denying an unproven case?
The Turkish side has opened all its archives and is very much eager to form common committees for searching the issue. Turkish PM Erdogan has underlined the willingness of searching this topic in many occasions. Despite all these, keeping away from all scientific enquiries and imposing such a heavy accusation leads to many suspicions.
The Armenian state does not recognize the Lausanne treaty, on which the Turkish Republic is grounded. In other words, Armenia does not accept the current borders of Turkey. The country names the North East part of Turkey as the West Armenia and makes claims on these territories in its constitution. Robert Kocaryan, the PM of Armenia, states that these territorial gains can be done in peaceful manners (Ibid).
Are all these done for the sake of democracy or is the democratic sensitiveness used for further aims?! It is highly confusing; why do not we talk about what the Dutch did in Indonesia and Surinam, French did in Algeria, Spain did in South America if we are so eager to account for our faults in past ?
Apart from these, the migration policy of the Ottoman Empire is very irrelevant to the genocide claims. Ottomans failed in providing healthy conditions during this depart but why should a send all the members of an ethnicity away if it really aims a genocide? The Nazi rule did not send the Jews away, but brought the Jewish to its concentration camps from all around the world.
A very critical approach is on rise in the Netherlands in particular and Europe in general. Although it is not very acceptable to discriminate openly, discrimination becomes legalized when it is made by reference to "democratic values". For instance, if someone criticizes Moroccans in some way under the general classification of Moroccans, s/he will probably be strictly criticized. Nevertheless, when Fortuyn said that gays were under threat due to the Moroccan gangs he was very much backed. Similarly, opposing Islam itself will be not so much welcomed. But people get credit if they manage to hinder such points of view under the democratic doctrine. Specifically, the argument of the repression of women under the Islamic doctrine is in many times welcomed without a slightest degree of critical thinking. The same thing is valid for the expel of the Turkish originated candidates. The party leaders are really appreciated as the guardians of democratic principles!!!
With regard to the decisions of the CDA and the PvdA; has a party have the right to ask its members to share a common vision on this topic? Party members have more or less similar positions and it is quite natural to demand from these people to share a common vision. For instance, there is no point in defending capitalism in a highly communist party. Or members of a highly natioanlistic party will probably not be welcomed if they act against the nationalism doctrine. The so-called Armenian genocide is just a very slight issue in those two parties and it is quite natural that their members can have different opinions on that. All in all, we need different opinions in democratic systems, also within the party.
The party position can not legitimize removing candidates from a party list just because they have a point of view on a particular topic; which is not a central in the party doctrine, open to debate, and apparently not against the party doctrine. In the EP report, Turkey is criticized due to the 301th article, which limits the freedom of expression. It is true, Turkey has to improve its conditions in such aspects just as the other European states have to. However, people can be sent to jail or removed from candidacy lists in the founding member states. This is a shame indeed.
The Armenian lobby is certainly quite effective in the international field. But I personally do not believe the high influence of an Armenian lobby in the Dutch society. The so-called Armenian genocide has become quite trendy (!) in European politics. Nevertheless some interior political aspects take place, as well. People still talk the rise of Pim Fortuyn in 2002. Even the most liberal parties have shifted to an anti immigration perspective afterwards.
The Dutch Christian Appeal and labour party make some miscalculations at this point. According to the official givens, 300 thousand Turkish people live in this country, and many have the Dutch citizenship. A substantial number of Turkish originated people has the right to vote in this country. Expelling Turkish candidates will evidently not give way to support by the Turkish society in this country. It is not a very well advised stance to annoy such a big proportion just before the elections.
No doubt however, the Turkish minority in Europe is very less interested in politics and away from defending their interests in discussions. The Turkish MPs carry great importance for both their ethnicities and their residual countries at this point. These people need to be represented on the parliamentary level as well as many other aspects of life. Integration of these people and a peaceful co-existence in this country cannot only be provided by sociological researches, no matter how successful they are. We need successful Dutch-Turkish people in politics, academic field, business, sport, arts, etc.
At this point, it is worth bringing into attention that while cars were put into fire in France and several other neighbor countries, the Netherlands was quite still. This was not a coincidence. All in all, the minority groups in the Dutch society are much better integrated to the major society in many aspects. However, we do not have a guarantee that this will be the case forever. The removed MP candidates do not only carry significance for the Turkish minority, but are also very much important to the Netherlands. The Dutch government has gold in its hands indeed. We cannot continue living within boundaries. Countries need bilinguals in the contemporary world.
Concluding Remarks: The Dutch society made important progression after the uneasy days regarding the tension between minority and majority. The Dutch establishment and society are among the most tolerable people with their multicultural doctrine. Therefore, it is highly disappointing that all these occur in this country. The decision of those parties is rather ill-given in the stressful atmosphere of elections than representing the Dutch opinion in general. The Netherlands is geographically little, but there are many other indexes of measuring how big a country is. A country, sending its soldiers to Uruzgan, one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan, apparently has some significant ambitions in the international arena. The Netherlands can take many initiatives in line with its worldwide positive reputation rather than just copying what the trends without searching the reality.
Albayrak Nebahat and Timmermans Frans, Zie de Fouten uit het Verleden onder Ogen, Trouw, 4 October 2006.
De Armenisch-Turksche Kwestie, Algemeen Handelsblad, 25.05.1920. (The name of the reporter is not given)
Laciner, Sedat. (2004) Turkler ve Ermeniler, ISRO Publciations, 2004.