2899) Interviews: Ignatius, DerGhougassian, Stepanyan

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  1. Ignatius, Editor-In-Chief Of Harvard Business Review, Speaks To St. James' Armenian Church Men's Club Dinner Meeting
  2. Another World is Possible: Interview with Khatchik DerGhougassian
  3. Contemporary Turkish Diplomacy In Relations With Armenia Built On Principles Of The Middle Age & 19th Century David Stepanyan

Ignatius, Editor-In-Chief Of The Harvard Business Review, Speaks To The St. James' Armenian Church Men's Club Dinner Meeting On June 1, To A Crowd Of More Than 200, Watertown TAB & Press, GateHouse News Service, Jul 01, 2009

Formerly the deputy managing editor of Time Magazine, Ignatius became editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review in January. During his 12 years at Time, Ignatius covered business and international issues, served as editor of Time Asia and managed Time's special editions, including the Person of the Year and Time 100 franchises.

Paul Ignatius, Adi Ignatius' father, was secretary of the U.S. Navy during the Johnson administration and as such was the highest-ranking Armenian ever in a White House appointed position. As was the case with his father, the nontraditional Armenian name of Ignatius led most people, including Time's readers, to be unaware of Ignatius' Armenian roots.

"I am half-Armenian and have always been conscious of my Armenian roots, although I have never been professionally involved with Armenian activities or organizations. It was a personal thrill for me, and certainly a highlight of my life, to accompany my 89-year-old dad to eastern Anatolia," he said. "My visit in '06 to Yerevan was certainly a life-changing event in a wonderful way."

As a student at Haverford College, Ignatius received his bachelor of arts degree in history in 1981, and then received the Zuckerman Fellowship to attend Columbia University's School of International Public Affairs in 1990.

Commenting on his early career, Ignatius said he studied Chinese while in college, and during the Carter years, he had the opportunity to travel and spend time in China. During those days, China had not been discovered by the tourists and it was difficult getting around.

Turning to the focus of his talk on the future of media, Ignatius said all of print media is experiencing rapid and consistent decline, with audiences simply dying away. He said some national publications will survive, like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

"It is local papers like the Boston Globe that are in desperate straits, and they haven't been able to figure out how to monetize their online information," he said.

During the question-and-answer session, Ignatius was asked about Obama's failure to use the word "genocide" in the annual presidential statement on the events of 1915 that the president issues every year.

"I was surprised and disappointed, as I think most of us were, particularly when you consider that Samantha Powers is his close foreign policy adviser, and there is no one who knows more about genocide than she does and is thoroughly familiar with Armenian issues and the details of the Armenian Genocide. I don't think he will ever acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The best chance for him to do so was this year."

Another World is Possible: An Interview with Khatchik DerGhougassian

Another world is possible–One where economics are based on justice, democracy is founded in principle, human rights are cherished and protected, and diversity is shared and celebrated. In an exclusive interview with Haytoug, Khatchik DerGhougassian, a professor of International Relations at the Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina, discusses the social, economic and political challenges plaguing the 21st century and, with a focus on Armenia, outlines the potential for progressive movements to radically and change the status quo for the better, both locally and globally.
Below we present the interview in its entirety.

HAYTOUG: Since at least the 1970s, the world has been undergoing a form of free-market economic integration commonly referred to as neo-liberal globalization. What is the extent to which Armenia itself has become a part of this process since its independence and what do you feel have been its main impacts on the country?

KHATCHIK DERGHOUGASSIAN: Armenia has fully embraced the neoliberal model. As in Russia—and, in fact, all of the former Soviet republics—it applied the “shock-therapy” approach to liberalize the economy and privatize everything. In the immediate aftermath of independence, more precisely between 1991 and 1994, the parliamentary faction of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) argued for an alternative approach, advocating for a gradual liberalization and a central role for the state in strategic decisions, as well as healthcare, education and social security. It was consistent with the ARF’s other main objective concerning the Constitution: creating a parliamentary system rather than the risk of concentrating too much power within the hands of the executive through a strong presidency.

The debate ended with the crackdown on the ARF by the end of 1994, a move that was necessary to open the way for the implementation of the “shock-therapy” model and a strong presidential system. The result has been a twofold concentration of wealth: geographical and oligarchic/monopolistic. The central perimeter of Yerevan is a developed urban zone with a high standard of living, whereas the periphery of the city (not to mention outside of Yerevan) is almost completely underdeveloped—with here and there extravagant residences usually built by the new capitalist class, Diaspora Armenians, or some wealthy person living in Russia. This is the typical landscape of the so-called “creative destruction” type capitalism which was applied. And, indeed, as a consequence of the “shock-therapy” style privatization, a small oligarchy has become virtually the owner of the country.
The country’s economic policy follows closely to the orthodox guidelines of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, maintaining a straight fiscal discipline. Social concerns, including jobs, are non-issues as the free-market dogmatic belief is that growth is the magical solution to every challenge. The main objective of the Central Bank of Armenia is to ensure the flow of money, the only bloodline for the economy. This is broadly how Armenia became “part” of neoliberal globalization.

The tragic part is that once the model had been implemented successfully and structured the economic system, no real critical or alternative thought emerged. It seems as if everyone accepted it as the only possibility. Of course, Armenia’s bubble economy and double-digit—or at least high-level—growth from 2002 to 2008 could have been the main cause of this; while certainly no one predicted its inevitable decline (if not crash), at least not as strongly as to start formulating an alternative approach and build consensus and public support. No one really cared about the unfair income redistribution, the growing social discontent, the precarious conditions in the job market, the heavy dependence on remittances, the lack of value-added production, and the despair of the educated youth seeking to emigrate in hopes of finding a decent job and future.

Moreover, when the global financial crisis broke in September 2008, government officials in Armenia publicly expressed their faith in the strength of the Armenian economy, which was, supposedly, pretty well protected against the impact of the crisis. We are now witnessing how the crisis is strongly hitting Armenia and, yet, the measures taken to face the crisis are exactly the same ones that are at the root of the current debacle.

H: What sort of effect, if any, do you feel the current process of globalization is having on the Armenian Diaspora? How do you feel we can properly adapt to these changes associated with globalization and move forward more effectively into the 21st century?

K.D.: The Diaspora has always been a global reality. Nevertheless, up until the late 1980s, the dominant narrative of Diaspora awareness was the conviction that, as the phenomenon did have a start—the Genocide—then it necessarily should also have an end—going back home. In this sense, I think that perhaps the most important impact of globalization on the Diaspora has been the emergence of a new Diaspora awareness based on a different narrative; one that accepts this transnational reality as a strong, and perhaps a strategically necessary one.

But I would say that globalization came as a later impact; the reality of the Diaspora underwent a structural change earlier, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the massive immigration of Armenians from the Middle East—Lebanon, Syria and Iran—to the West—Europe, Canada and the United States. This “westernization” of the Armenian Diaspora gave a strong blow to the old center-periphery frame of the Diaspora, whereas the hope, or myth, of returning to the homeland vanished in the air with the independence of Armenia.

We are still trying to rationalize this structural change. We’ll see if anything practical will actually come out of it.

H: Over the last two decades, the world has also seen the growth of an active global justice movement struggling against the damaging effects of neo-liberalism. Participants in this movement come together in gatherings such as the World Social Forum (WSF) which you have participated on behalf of the ARF. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at such gatherings, and why you think it is important for Armenians to engage ourselves in this broader global justice movement?

K.D.: The interest for the WSF emerged during the ARF Bureau’s July 2002 seminar in Yerevan aimed at designing and implementing a socialist program in Armenia. But it wasn’t until January 2005 that, for the first time, a joint Armenian National Committee-Armenian Youth Federation delegation with ARF and AYF members from Armenia, California, Argentina and Brazil participated in the WSF in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The following year, in 2006, a delegation from Argentina and Brazil went to Caracas, Venezuela where the Forum was planned to take place. AYF delegations also participated in regional forums in the Americas and Europe.

The experience was very rich and important. Unfortunately, we failed to reach the wider circles of the AYF and ARF to convince them about the importance of continuing such contact. Nor were we able to create a space of our own in the WSF, despite that in both Porto Alegre and Caracas the issues that we put forward—Genocide, Karabagh and Javakhk self-determination, social justice in Armenia, etc.—generated a great deal of interest and received support from known intellectuals and militants.

This may be because the WSF is mostly a Global South phenomenon—Latin America, Africa, some Middle Easterners, and India/South Eastern Asia, with an important intellectual/militant input from progressive sectors in Europe, Canada and the US—and that Eastern Europeans and former Soviet Union countries, including Armenia, find it too distant from a conceptual perspective. It is a pity because the “other world” that the WSF aims at is precisely where Armenia needs to see itself in order to start thinking about a radical reform of its deeply unfair and expulsive social order, the political institutions that perpetuate and legitimize this order, and the economic infrastructure that sustains and recreates it.

H: What can Armenian activists learn from mass movements in Latin America, where we have seen in recent years a rise in popular mobilization, empowerment of marginalized groups, and electoral victories for candidates who reject the policies of neo-liberalism?

K.D.: The widely known “left-turn” phenomenon in South America is a very rich and ongoing experience that Armenian activists should study. They should study the way parties and social movements built alliances, worked first to build a wide social consensus for their program and then rose to power through a vast majority vote; the way social safety nets were constructed in order to face economic hardships after the collapse of the neoliberal model; the way workers occupied abandoned industrial plants and started to produce in a cooperative manner; the way private multinational companies came under scrutiny for investment promises they made but failed to accomplish; the way the doors were shut to the IMF and its policies; the way private and public capital created highly successful companies; the way the social agenda received priority; the way nationalization stopped being synonymous with failure; the way the power of the people stopped the privatization of their country’s natural resources; the way zero-hunger became an objective and food security programs were designed and implemented. All of these and many other developments have already generated a vast literature, documentary movies, research programs and so forth that Armenian activists should study to produce a critical/alternative thinking about the dominant, and failing, neoliberal model.

The most important characteristic of the South American “left-turn” is the commitment to democracy. Change took place peacefully, without military intervention, and without a call for arms or revolutions as was usually seen in the past. It is the power of the people that allowed South American leaders to implement long-term radical reforms, the aim of which ultimately would be to replace the dominant model of the Market Economy with the alternative model of the Working Society.

Armenia needs a radical reform of its political, economic and social system, including a constitutional shift to a parliamentary regime, progressive taxation to promote wealth redistribution and laws protecting jobs, insuring universal healthcare, education and social protection; not some so-called “color revolution,” whatever that means.
Summer 2009 Issue Haytoug, A Quarterly Publication By The Armenian Youth Federation

Contemporary Turkish Diplomacy In The Relations With Armenia Built On Principles Of The Middle Age And The 19th Century David Stepanyan, ArmInfo June 19 2009

An interview with Hayk Demoyan, Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute at the Armenian National Academy of Science, Candidate of Science (History), specialist in Oriental Studies

Mr. Demoyan, over the last two months the Armenian-Turkish process has been slackening in the background of the visits by Turkish high-ranking officials to Azerbaijan. What is the reason of such slowdown and what generally takes place in the given process?

I think one of the scenarios laid by the Armenian and Turkish parties at the very beginning of this process is implemented at present. Actually, Yerevan's stand regarding establishment of relations with Ankara without preconditions is not bluff. But Ankara evidently has faced serious problems in this way. I'd not say that Turkey pursued the scenario of dropping this process or trying to reveal the stand or the level of opposition by Azerbaijan to it. What is currently taking place in Turkey is the weighting of benefits and implications, which is well reflected against the background of the isolated interests of various forces in the Turkish political spectrum. These are, first of all, the interests of servicemen, Islamists, nationalists, secularists and ultra-nationalists. In this case t he process exceeds the frames of the context of the negotiations between Armenia and Turkey. A superficial analysis of the domestic political situation in Turkey will show that servicemen, which are still afraid of something, play the role of the first fiddle. The general officers of that country are already an institution, which has exhausted itself and does not meet the norms of the international law of the 21st century.

Turkish officers have still preserved the mark of the 'cold war' heritage, which is displayed at the internal pressing of servicemen on the civil authorities of Turkey.

This is evidence of the fact that just servicemen are the main obstacle on the way of democratization of Turkey and its European integration. And the process of settling relations with Armenia, which they are also against, is one of the episodes in the domestic political contradiction in Turkey.

Do general officers fight mainly to counteract the party of Erdogan and Gul?

Naturally, the fight of general officers is chiefly leading to contradiction against the party of Erdogan and Gul. The contradiction has been already displayed, as servicemen being against foreign political course of the Party of Justice and Development, show that they are the opposition to the top of the Turkish political iceberg.

What about the role of first fiddle in the slowdown of the Armenian-Turkish process? Are these the domestic factors, you have mentioned, or it is thundering Azerbaijan?

Actually domestic political factors in Turkey play the role of in the slowdown of the Armenian-Turkish process, though Azerbaijan's role in this process is not secondary either.

Armenia's step towards Turkey could not but affect the mutual interests of the two friendly states: Azerbaijan and Turkey. Such was the power of that step that could not but bring certain disagreement between Azerbaijani and Turkish political elites although it had no initial goal to drive a wedge between those states.

In this context, the ruling elites in Turkey and Azerbaijan are very likely to take certain well-developed measures regarding Armenia, which has already been observed. But opening of the border will have a psychological effect on the Azerbaijani public and on Turkey anyway. Nevertheless, the latest statements by Davutoghlu have not made clear what the political maneuvers of Turkey are aimed at in the context of no specific terms exiting for resolution of the problem in the Armenian-Turkish relations.

What's behind the statements by Ahmed Davudoghlu regarding the end of the cold war between Armenian and Turkey?

I do not understand well enough what he means under this statement. If the also includes international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, I will have to disappoint him - the process has always been and will go on despite any impulses in the process of establishment of re lations between Armenia and Turkey. The Armenian-Turkish process on establishment of relations cannot proceed due to the historical memory of the Armenians, as well as refusal of the policy aimed at international recognition of the Armenian Genocide

Turkey's interests are clear. What will Armenia gain from the formal continuation of the process when there is no real consensus between Armenia and Turkey?

Nothing. Therefore, Armenia puts quite a strict pre-condition against Turkey.

It is known that Turkey puts forward three pre-conditions. But stemming from the logic of the Armenian-Turkish process, in fact, another pre-condition of the Armenian party is also becoming visible. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan mentioned it in one of his interviews, when he said that if the Armenian-Turkish border does not open till October, he will not visit Turkey for the joint watching of the football match.

Does it mean that we have nevertheless put Ankara within the frames?

Yes, it does. And this make even more unclear Davudoghu's statement that it will be wrong if Serzh Sargsyan does not arrive in Turkey because of the shut down borders.

In this context, Turkish Minister should remember of diplomatic ethics, which does not allow such a high-ranking diplomat to make statements and recommendations dictating any steps to the president of another country.

Analysis of Davudoghlu's statements makes clear that the logic

of continuation of the Armenian-Turkish process without any results for this year has been exhausted. All this leads to the moment when the Turkish party will open it since we make no obstacles to this. In addition, symbolically, it has already been opened.

This means that the process has already become the headache for Ankara, a problem that is no longer considered a joint problem with Armenia. Actually, Turkey has torpedoed the negotiating process for certain momentary interests. All this makes clear that Turkey is simply unable to open the border to Armenia for certain short-term and long-term interests>, Damoyan said.

Don't you think that this problem will become general again if the president of Armenia does not leave to watch the football match given the despair of the Turkish and, first of all, Azerbaijani propaganda?

I don't think so. Refusal of the president of Armenia to visit Istanbul will aggravate Ankara's state in the Armenian-Turkish negotiations as, in this case, all the affirmations of Turkey, including identification of the 'Road-map' about the two countries' intentions, will turn out just a fiction, a game, which Armenia will finish with the least losses. Someone naive will surely claim that as a result of these negotiations Barack Obama did not mention the word 'Genocide' in his April 24 speech. However, it is not as important as it seems to them. Our relative victory in this ca se will be to demonstrate and prove to the world that our neighbour Turkey is negotiating with Armenia applying diplomatic methods of the 19th Century, despite the fact that those times passed long ago.

Contemporary Turkish diplomacy in the relations with Armenia contains two principles. The first principle is inherited from the Middle Age and the second from the 19th century. The first principle is based on the slogan 'one nation - two states', though such a tribal approach does not suit a state aspiring for the European Union. Let's imagine a situation where Germany and Austria block Czech Republic basing on common ethnic origination of Austrians and Germans. Such an approach is simply inadmissible to a country striving to join the European family.

As regards the policy of the 19th century Turkey applies in the relations with Armenia, it is the policy of blockade, military methods and pressing through the border shut down. Leaving alone that Turkey trying to 'return the occupied territories' to Azerbaijan has itself occupied a part of the European Union. It is not even the policy of dual standards; it is the policy of the 19th century.

The Armenian opposition believes that possible establishment of the joint commission of historians will mean Armenia's refusal from the policy of international recognition of Armenian Genocide. What is the reason of such radical approach?

The reasons are to be sought in th e domestic political fight in Armenia. Setting up a Commission of Armenian-Turkish historians will become another argument for transferring of the problems in the Armenian-Turkish process to Turkey. First of all, Turkey, which made such initiative, has no moral right to do it. I imagine this initiative as free discussion of the Genocide problem at the academic level. However, Turkey has been in rather vulnerable situation from the very beginning because of Article 301 of the Criminal Code of Turkey. Therefore, I believe that a Turkish historian unable to say anything that contradicts the state policy of Turkey on the Genocide denial will not feel himself comfortable. At the same time I think there are historians striving to tell the truth in Turkey. Nevertheless, it is a big question if they will be involved in the commission since it is not a compulsory condition for Turkey to be represented by Turks in the commission.

Does it mean that Turkey voiced this idea just to get Armenia's 'no'?

Naturally, it does. Actually, Turkey did it just for this purpose, but Armenia's "yes" as a reply to the suggestion on setting up of the commission of historians led Turkey to the situation when certain mechanisms in this commission may fail. For this reason Turkey should have other reserve steps.

Therefore, I am sure that from the moral as well as political point of view Armenia has no problem in the negotiating proce ss, but Turkey does, as it persecutes its own scientists for dissidence.

That is to say, the idea of setting up the commission damages Turkey. But it also endangers Armenia, as these ideas on setting up the commission may lead to the domestic political clashes in Armenia, which testifies to maturity or immaturity of the political fight in Armenia.



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