- " Sincere Support Of Our Diaspora Far Outdoes Activities Of Any Paid Lobbyist," Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General Of Armenia In Los Angeles, Appo Jabarian
- ARPA Institute Presents Lecture/Seminar, Sassounian
- Amb. Yovanovitch Toeing Flawed Company Line, Sosse Beugekian
- Armenian Roulette, CHEditorial
- 15 Years Ago Turkey Was Ready To Occupy Armenia, CHEditorial
- Armenia From Point Of View Of Russian Army Headquarters, CHEditorial
- Turkishness Is Not Always Delightful, Worldfocus
- Book Reviews: Traditionally Turkish, Bernard, Trink
- Inflation Of Genocide, Leonidas Donskis
- We Need To Keep Territories Hakob Badalyan
- Zaruhi Postanjyan – Future President Of Armenia, CHEditorial
- Armenia Must Return Occupied Lands To Azerbaijan: Israeli MP, Today.Az
- Diasporan Armenian Participants Of Summer School Noyan Tapan
- What Has Changed In Kurdish Issue?, I Kalin
- Caucasus Institute Director Talks Straight About Karabakh, Iskandaryan
- Armenian Question Grigoris Balakian
- Mount Ararat: Purpose Discovered, Meghrie Demirdjian
- ANCA Issued Statement Ref: Nagorno Karabakh Peace Process
- Facing Poverty In Armenia, /Asbarez/
- Diaspora Discovers Armenia & `Armenianness', Elizabeth Gemdjian
- Cyber Wars: Armenia IT Sector Vulnerable To Attack, Georg Khachaturyan
- Ruben Melkumian: Great Part Of Turks Have Extremely Anti-Armenian Views
- Importance Of Being Turkey, Dario D'urso
- Bigotry & Racism In America: What Harvey Left Us Dan Agin
- Jews of Turkey & Armenian Genocide, Ayse Gunaysu
- China Should Retaliate Against Turkey By Recognizing Armenian Genocide, Harut Sassounian
- Turkey's Image & Armenian Question, Osman Bengür
- Nato: New Strategic Concept, Faruk Loğoğlu
- Diasporan Money Corrupts Governments, Avedis Kevorkian
- Image Of Turkey In Greek Media, Chris Loutradis
"The Sincere Support Of Our Diaspora Far Outdoes The Activities Of Any Paid Lobbyist," Says Grigor Hovhannissian, Consul General Of Armenia In Los Angeles
By Appo Jabarian Executive Publisher / Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine, July 24, 2009
In recent months, Azerbaijan's Consul General in Los Angeles, Mr. Elin Suleymanov, has been engaged in a disinformation campaign against Armenia and Armenians. One of his objectives has been the creation of a wedge between the Diaspora and Armenia's political leadership. When his attempts yielded no results, he resorted to complaining about the "aggressiveness" of California Armenians. Apparently he realizes that the Diaspora has enough resources to easily counter his misrepresentations.
To top it all, he has embarked on a "unique" campaign to send countless letters to various California organizations trying to prevent Artsakh-related events from taking place.
The Consulate General of Armenia usually prefers to ignore the statements of the Azerbaijani diplomat, because of the fact that Mr. Suleymanov is already having a hard time justifying his "presence" in California.
This time, however, Consul General Hovhannissian agreed to comment on Mr. Suleymanov's most recent statements, underlining: "One should lack political correctness and diplomatic etiquette in order to criticize a foreign [Armenian-American] Diaspora."
The following is the text of a recent conversation between Honorable Hovhanissian and USA Armenian Life Magazine:
USA Armenian Life Magazine: In an interview with Day.az, the Azerbaijani Consul General in Los Angeles, ElinSuleymanov, while referring to the criticism by California Armenians aimed at Armenia's authorities regarding various issues, said that the Armenian Diaspora missed its chance to influence positively the Republic of Armenia. Instead of helping its motherland integrate into the Caucasus region, the Diaspora contributed to the development of ethnocentric and extremist trends among Armenians.
Consul General Hovhannissian: The Azerbaijani Consul tends to see and say things that are well in line with his state's propaganda objectives. There is nothing wrong with the critical comments of California Armenians toward the Armenian authorities. A Diaspora is not a primitive, one-cell unit. Rather, it is a multilayer system that is continuously evolving. Diaspora is not a "frozen substance." It's a dynamic entity, and hosts a variety of opinions and ideas with regard to the Armenian state and its government. Naturally, there are different views on a number of issues in Armenia's external and, even, internal political agenda. However, highlighting these "situational" differences is not appropriate at all. It's well known that, although differing on some issues, all the representatives of the Armenian Diaspora share the same devotion to their motherland. The Diaspora keeps contributing to the prosperity of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Let no one doubt or be confused about this.
USA Armenian Life: By the way, in one of his interviews to the Azeri media, Mr. Suleymanov said that "it's time for Yerevan and the Armenian Diaspora to realize that Armenia's future is in danger unless Armenians stop their aggression and solve the Nagorno Karabakh conflict based on the principle of international law. It's up to the Diaspora to decide whether or not Armenia's future matters." What is your comment on this most imprudent advice?
Consul General Hovhannissian: You've appropriately commented on this matter. But that's not the only way to characterize his "advice." Here is my brief response: The Azerbaijani consul should not worry about the future of Armenia. For more than 20 years, since the beginning of the Artsakh Movement, the Azerbaijani officials have been giving our country gloomy forecasts. There is, however, a huge difference between what's desired and what's real, or, as one of Griboyedov's characters said, there is a distance of an immense size between these two. Let the official Baku's conscience deal with the biased assessments of the "Armenian aggression." Suleymanov is only reiterating these long repeated empty accusations. He's not original. For many years, Azerbaijani officials have been making similar comments using various platforms, both domestic and international.
USA Armenian Life: Can you please elaborate? Last year, for example, Mr. Suleymanov exhibited "originality." He wrote letters to the management of one of the Los Angeles theaters to "ban" or refuse to host an Armenian event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement. Also, during one of his trips to the state of Montana, the Azerbaijani consul played flute in an Indian reservation where he stated that the Azerbaijanis and the indigenous Americans are blood-related.
Consul General Hovhannissian: I will have to agree with you on this one. It is indeed very "original," if not strange, when a diplomat writes letters to his host country's private persons and organizations asking them to ban something. As far as I know, the Armenian community ended up having the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement in spite of Mr. Suleymanov's letters. As to the claims of blood relation between the Azerbaijanis and the American Indians, since I'm not a specialist on this matter, we will have to rely on Suleymanov's opinion. May be this is yet another instruction from the official Baku.
USA Armenian Life: It is a well known fact that Azerbaijan's diplomatic mission in Los Angeles is supported by lobbyists that are generously financed by the Azerbaijani government. It is the lobbyists who organize Mr. Suleymanov's trips. They get Suleymanov in touch with the "right" individuals to advance Baku's political agenda in the United States. Does the Armenian government have similar plans in promoting its issues in the US or does the Republic of Armenia feel comfortable in completely relying on the Armenian-American Diaspora?
Consul General Hovhannissian: I don't see anything blameworthy in lobbying. I understand that without the help of lobbyists, Azerbaijani diplomats, in any part of the world and especially in California, would be having hard time promoting their issues. From the day of the opening of the Azerbaijani consulate, Baku stated that the ultimate goal of the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission in Los Angeles is "to counter Armenian propaganda." A consulate that is established for the sole mission to "counter" something or someone, represents a unique case in diplomatic practice. As it's known, consulates usually have rather peaceful aims, such as helping their citizens and strengthening relationships with their host countries as well as their local Diaspora. In this particular case, because of the lack of its own Diaspora in Los Angeles, the Azerbaijani consulate is "forced" to concentrate on ours.
That is why the Azerbaijani consul has such unhealthy interests toward California Armenians.That is also why he reacts so inadequately to our well-justified demands concerning the independence of Artsakh, the recognition of the Genocide, and the lifting of the blockade against Armenia. However, we should give my Azerbaijani colleague some credit. Even for a single minute, he does not forget why he has been sent to Los Angeles. But because of known circumstances, he's seeking comfort in Indian reservations and other remote places in states far from California. The same circumstances motivate his statements in various Azerbaijani media. As for our plans with regard to strengthening lobbying in the United States, I don't think we really have such a need. The sincere support of our Diaspora far outdoes the activities of any paid lobbyist.
ARPA Institute Presents Lecture/Seminar
Negotiations and Armenia-Diaspora Relations" Abstract: The lecture will address the twists and turns of the Armenia-Turkey negotiations and the influence of the U.S., Russia and Europe in that process. The false impressions created by the Turkish Government during the so-called border-opening talks will be analyzed.
The lecture will also cover whether President Obama was tricked by Turkey to preclude him from saying genocide, or did he trick Armenia and Turkey?
The Turkish attempts to pit Armenia against the Diaspora will be highlighted and counter-moves proposed.
The most recent Turkish trick will be exposed in linking the border-opening talks to the Artsakh negotiations.
It will be pointed out that the Turkish preconditions in these talks are ironically having the positive effect of restraining Armenia from making further concessions.
After the lecture, there will be ample time for questions and answers.
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier newspaper. His editorials are reprinted in scores of publications worldwide and posted on countless websites.
He is the President of the United Armenian Fund, which has supplied over $550 million of humanitarian assistance to Armenia since the 1988 earthquake.
As Senior Vice President of the Lincy Foundation, he has overseen the implementation of over $250 million of infrastructure-related projects in Armenia.
From 1978 to 1982, he worked for the Procter & Gamble Company in Geneva, Switzerland, as an international marketing executive.
He served for 10 years as a non-governmental delegate on human rights at the United Nations, lobbying for the eventual recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in 1985. He has a Master's Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, a Certificate from the Middle East Institute, and an MBA from Pepperdine University.
He is the author of "The Armenian Genocide: The World Speaks Out, 1915-2005, Documents and Declarations" which has also been published in Arabic.
He serves on the Board of Directors of the Ministry of Diaspora of Armenia.
He has been decorated by the President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, as well as the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
For more Information please call Dr. Hagop Panossian at (818) 881-0010, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amb. Yovanovitch Toeing A Flawed Company Line By Sosse Beugekian
The Armenian Weekly- United States Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch has been touring Armenian American communities throughout
the U.S., providing the State Department view on U.S.-Armenia relations, the situation in the Caucasus, and reasons for the Obama Administration's non-affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
Her Washington, D.C. stop took place at the Library of Congress on June 30. And, like every other "town hall" she hosted, her remarks and responses were genial yet disappointing and frustrating.
She began by giving an update of the situation in Armenia, discussing many different issue areas from democracy to security to the economy. I won't go into those. You can read the talking points on the U.S. Embassy website (www.usa.am). The more interesting part came when the audience had a chance to ask questions.
When it came to the Armenian Genocide issue, Yovanovitch mentioned it briefly saying, "the killings" shouldn't be forgotten and that we should work towards a better future.
She also mentioned that she "understands the anger and frustration of the Armenian community" when it comes to this issue. She talked about the importance of opening borders with Turkey and about the importance of Armenia being at peace with its neighbors.
Unfortunately, she only made the public more frustrated with her broad answers and constant mentioning of the fact that she only follows U.S. policy, which apparently means dodging questions related to the genocide.
The ANCA's Kate Nahapetian askedif Yovanovitch feared for her job if she properly characterized the events of 1915-23 as "genocide"-noting the firing of former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for just that reason.
Yovanovitch reduced a fundamental human rights concern to mere employment policy, answering that she cannot comment on "personnel issues."
Is that where human rights and complicity in genocide denial rank in today's State Department?
The ambassador spoke about the importance of U.S. aid to Armenia in assisting in democracy building and helping the rural poor, among other things-basic issues of fundamental importance most would agree on. But when ANCA Leo Sarkisian intern Hovanes Gasparian asked why then
the Obama Administration had called for a 38 percent reduction in aid to Armenia in the FY2010 budget, her response was Washington double-talk.
Apparently, according to the Obama Administration, we should compare the FY2010 proposed Armenia aid figure ($30 million) to that which had been proposed by President George Bush last year ($24 million)-and not the actual money that went to Armenia ($48 million).
In that convoluted formulation, there would be an "increase" in aid to Armenia (of $6 million).
A couple of questions come to mind here. First of all, is Bush the benchmark the Obama Administration really wants to compare itself to? Secondly, say Armenia were to get Obama's request of $30 million, do they think the folks on the ground wouldn't notice that there is 38 percent less money for programs?
The House Appropriations Committee, understanding the Armenian American community's concerns and the needs in Armenia, has put forward $48 million for Armenia and $10 million for
Nagorno-Karabagh. Now we need to get that approved in the House of Representatives and get similar legislation in the Senate.
All of this reminds me of a lecture we had earlier in the week, jointly with the Armenian Assembly interns, given by Raffi Balian. Balian provided excellent insight on careers and internship/fellowship opportunities at the State Department, and spoke of his years serving our country in U.S. embassies in Bulgaria and Syria. The bottom line realization was that to change U.S. policy, there needs to be more voices of reason, committed to ending U.S. complicity in Armenian Genocide denial- not to mention stopping genocide overall-within the State Department, Capitol Hill, think tanks-wherever foreign policy is shaped. The need is out there, and the opportunities are out there as well (check out the ANCA's Capital Gateway Program.) We just need to prioritize and take advantage of them.
Or continue to be frustrated by ambassadors toeing a flawed company line.
Armenian Roulette, CHEditorial, 05 March 2009
If someone is losing one of his four limbs, no matter, hands or legs, he becomes a disabled. If national currency of any country is losing one quarter of its value overnight, the country reaches the edge of bankruptcy. If this is your own country, then the bankrupt is you.
2 March, 2009, in Armenia became a Day of Total Revaluation, literally, since the trade was frozen in every big store and supermarket which rushed to change every single price label. Taking into consideration the scope and the organizational style of this economic diversion, it has been planned at the top state level. Appreciate the “political correctness” of its authors who had enough hypocrisy to pass the tragic anniversary of 1 March slaughter and only on the next day they tightened the loop on our necks.
It doesn’t make this crime less cynical, just opposite; it’s only increasing their fault. The state that is supposed to guarantee the security and wellbeing of its citizens, is acting instead as a foreign occupation army of criminals. The real picture of this robbery will be seen in few days but it’s already clear that along with the devaluation of salaries and pensions on 25%, the prices jumped another 25% which made 50% loss of the budget of every Armenian family. Excluding one dozen of families we all know about. In the meantime, the economy that was reoriented in last 10-15 years from the export and production to the import and financial speculations, now is falling as a house built on the sand.
The global crisis is not excuse, because the inflated figures of “economic growth” and “40 thousands of new jobs”, which Kocharyan was boasting about years ago, are bursting now like the soap bubbles and the crisis is just piercing them all. In the beginning the boom of the “elite buildings construction” burst, and they are standing today unfinished and half-empty, while 6 thousand families in Gyumry are still living in the containers even 20 years after the earthquake.
The notorious “40 thousands jobs” are also lost, because they were all pumped into the same construction activity, baring other branches of economy, agriculture and business. Meanwhile, many thousands of Armenian “gastarbeiters” will be losing their traditional season work abroad, since the crisis-angry Russia and Europe don’t welcome them anymore. It means, they won’t be able to transfer this year that $1,5 billion to their families, which was a traditional source of profit for number of taxmen, custom officers and other local vampires who used for years to plunder local citizens under the pretext of “filling the state budget”.
Don’t trust the enthusiastic “reporters” from “Hayloor” if they would try to explain this “special operation” of our incompetent and greedy authorities by their sincere wish to punish those few oligarchs who made fortunes in past years on total trade monopoly – from cell phones to “Toyotas”. Don’t worry for them, they were all warned beforehand and they had turned their drams into dollars a night before the default.
Who will defend the average people, the simple workers like us? Perhaps, our incorruptible “servants of the nation”, the members of Parliament, this club of millioners, the owners of casinos, brothels and taxi parks? I don’t think so.
In eight years of Kocharyan’s rule the Central Bank and the President’s Administration used to play “Armenian roulette”, changing the currency rate every day, according to the need of 2-3 “very important persons” who knew the dollar-dram exchange rate of tomorrow and made billions overnight. You can’t lose in the gambling if you know the number of winning lot. That was the “Armenian roulette”, the invention of our former administration that turned to be so handy for the current one.
The echo of these games could be heard today in our empty pockets and in their thick wallets. They have already converted our drams into their dollars in advance, somewhere overseas. Bla-bla-bla, “Shangri La”.
There’s just one little thing our “dealers” didn’t take into account when they agreed with their Russian colleagues about another $500-million loan. What if the Armenian people, sick of the “Armenian roulette”, would decide this time to play with them another kind of game, known as a “Russian roulette”?
Police State Instead Of State Policy, Cheditorial, 29 June 2009
In 1918 one of the greatest national poets, Vahan Teryan said about the newborn Armenian state: “I’m afraid that our national independence would be limited to the size of the national police uniform”. One century later we’ve seen that poet turned to be a prophet. The Third Armenian Republic in its eighteen demonstrates complete failures in every field but one – we have the police, indeed.
Well, the uniform is not national enough, to be true – the texture and color are still the same mouse-gray, since the Soviet time; the content inside of the uniform is also quite miserable. But the quantity of the police bouncers in the center of Yerevan is really impressive, especially in the days of opposition rallies or official celebrations.
You might say that we possess all essential accessory of the real state: from the Government and Parliament to the policy and economy, from the culture and sport to the Army, at last. That’s an illusion - we have nothing of that kind in Armenia. Our state policy is failed, our economy is controlled by thieves, and our diplomacy is just shameful. The state as a tool of democracy, as an institution of the will of the people does not exist in Armenia. As a matter of fact, all we have today is the police.
That’s why, as a result of our 5000 years-long history and culture we got a police state instead of state policy.
Well, the policemen are just the people and they just do their routine job – to catch and to oppress as much as they can. Arguably, they are the only real professionals in our newly independent state. The rest of officials usually fail because overwhelmingly they are wrong persons in the wrong places and in the wrong time. Former truck drivers became Army Generals; former secret agents became preachers, and the real gangsters became legislators. That’s why we have neither heroes, nor moral or laws. All we have is police.
Let me explain – is there a football in Armenia? On the one hand we definitely have a football national federation with its president; there are several teams and even few stadiums remained, although they basically serve as flea markets, but at least not the concentration camps, thanks God. However, the football does not exist. There was the time when every Armenian (with exception of the current president of football federation) knew the names of “Ararat” players by heart. Who could name just one guy from the teams of today?
The theater is another example. Sure, we had one some 2 thousand years ago when wandering Greeks performed in Artashat for our king Artavazd who used to write the pieces himself. More than this, the generation of our parents bears the names of the Shakespearean heroes like Ofelia, Hamlet, Laertes or Juliette. We had great actors as well – from Papazyan and Nersisyan to Yengibarov and Frunzik. However, we don’t have a theater anymore. The last wonderful actor – Yozh – performs in the little clubs for salt peanuts.
Perhaps, we managed to save our movies? The previous government sold the national film company “Armenfilm” to a foreigner for ridiculous amount of 600 thousand USD. The only rational explanation of this foolishness (or treachery) could be an eager wish of the decision makers to be named in the Guinness book of records. That’s how 60 acres of the city real estate with the buildings, laboratories, studios and warehouses; with the equipment, cameras and special tools, with the major treasure of thousands of feature and documentary films were sold for the price of an apartment in the “elite” quarter of Yerevan.
Generally speaking, we shouldn’t exclude the possibility of similar deal with, say, Matenadaran or the Opera House. The latter has been already featured with a restaurant and a night club of the same name at its basement; besides, the underground parking is under construction behind it. Half million USD could be a fair price. You think it’s too cheap? Don’t overestimate our chiefs – guess how did they evaluate the concession of Armenian railroads to Russia? You won’t believe – 5 million USD! Another dozen of “elite” apartments to the state budget…
No panic. Instead, we have the police. You might ask – what has the police to do with this? Sure, it has. Don’t you know whose strong hands hold the future of Armenian film industry today? It’s just the police. Take a look into each police patrol car an every corner. You will see the modern digital video cameras attached there behind the windshields. Therefore, one of every two cops in Yerevan is supposed to be a cameraman. His partner must be a director, I believe. I don’t know who is writing the scripts for them but I can imagine what kind of films they shoot during their night raids. Some of these films we have seen already, like the footage of the March 1, 2008…
By the way, have you notice what luxurious cars our police drives? It’s not some ugly Russian Lada 6 or cheap Korean Hunday from the time of Vano. Today our cops drive Toyotas. I’ve heard that Dutch Police recently started to ride bicycles to save the public money during the global crisis. Cheap losers! Our lads don’t care the fucking crisis. The money comes from the budget, anyway, and we the people wouldn’t allow the police – our national pride – to ride the bike like some Dutch gays. Only Toyota! On the other hand, if tomorrow another local oligarch would start to import Lamborghini Diablo (they would open the Turkish border for this reason) then we will have to fast our belts even further in order to get the new horses for our king’s men.
Because we have nothing else left to be proud of. No rockets to launch, no lakes to drain. In terms of ballet we are behind the whole world as well. Instead, we have the police. As Mayakovski wrote:
Faces are pink. Revolver is black.
Who cares for me? My police take!
Another time he wrote in other way:
A face that equally fits
To be a face and a butt -
Guess, which quotation fits our country better? A country that managed to build a police state instead of the state policy.
15 Years Ago Turkey Was Ready To Occupy Armenia, CHEditorial,01 April 2009
Last year some people and certain political circles got angry when we compared the shameful Treaty of Batum that followed the Sardarapat Battle of 1918 to the current Karabagh negotiations; we’ve called this “deja vu” syndrome. However, the political amnesia is not harmless for the society and that’s why we dare to remind those political showmen who rush to cut the ribbon on the Turkish-Armenian border opening (perhaps, even with the participation of the US new President) that only 15 years ago, in 1993, Turkey was preparing the invasion to Armenia. It’s healthy today, when our authorities seriously discuss the Turkish involvement even in the renovation of Armenian Nuclear Plant.
On 20 May 1992, at the high point of Karabagh war, when the Armenians broke through the “Lachin corridor”, the Turkish Army commenced the preparations for invasion to Armenia. The offensive has been prevented only after the Russian and American interference. Russian Parliament held special hearings on Turkish military activity near the Armenian border, with participation of the Foreign Minister Kozyrev and the Head of Staff of the CIS Army Marshal Shaposhnikov. The latter was sent to Yerevan where he made an urgent announcement just in airport, saying that Turkish invasion might trigger the World War 3. That was reported to US President George Bush elder who called to Ankara and demanded the withdrawal of the troops. Turks were forced to obey but few weeks later they’ve sent about 150 senior officers, including 10 generals, to Azerbaijan, in order to reinforce and train there the advanced special force and to prepare the military counteroffensive against the Armenians.
Meanwhile, the power shift took place in Baku and the new president Elchibay appointed Turkish general Yashar Demirbulag to be his senior military adviser. In august 1992 Turkey sent another general, Khalil Kalayci as its new military attaché to Azerbaijan. This gentleman personally coordinated the preparation of Azeri counterattack aimed to cut and close the Lachin corridor. That very summer of 1992 Turkey purchased a huge amount of Soviet weaponry for Azerbaijan from the former GDR Army warehouses in united Germany. The deal cost about $800 million and later it raised a scandal and retirement of the German military minister when it became clear that the price was reduced in exchange for a bribe. By the end of 1992 Azerbaijan has received about 5 thousand Turkish officers and soldiers (the average monthly salary of the officers was about $7,5 thousand).
New political shift in the US (Bush-Clinton) and in Russia (Gaidar-Chernomyrdin) in winter of 1992-93 has changed the great powers’ Caucasian policy drastically. The Armenians managed to use the situation for their benefits. The diplomatic and military activity of the Washington new administration underwent natural minimization – the democrats were busy with domestic politics and economy. On the other hand, Russia moved toward patriotic populism, getting rid of the tough economic reforms which caused the dramatic reduction of the Russian influence and annoyed the society.
The Turkish approach towards Armenia has not changed, though. In February 1993 about 7 thousand soldiers of the 3-rd Turkish Field Army were deployed on the line between Kars, Sarikamysh and Igdyr, fulfilling the new order of the Turkish government and Military Headquarters to get ready for invasion on Armenian territory.
In mid-April of 1993 Turgut Ozal has announced in Baku, during his ambitious voyage in all Turkic republics of the former USSR, that his country completely supports the fight of Azerbaijan against the “Armenian aggression”. In this trip he was accompanied by the Head of Special Operations Desk of the Turkish Military Headquarters, Mayor General Erdogan Oznal.
In the same month of April 1993, the Turkish Foreign Office invited the Ambassadors of five member countries of the UN Security Council (US, Russia, France, UK and China) who were told that from the Turkish point of view the Mountainous Karabagh development reminds the situation of 1973 in Cyprus and that Turkey might act the same way in order to defend the Azeri brothers and sisters.
Simultaneously, the concrete means were taken for the beginning of the ground invasion to Armenia. Particularly, the 3-rd Army was put to full readiness, the Air Force squadrons of “Phantoms” were in 24-hour alarm for the preventive air strike; and Bulent Encevit, ex-Prime Minister who ordered the occupation of Cyprus in 1974, spoke in the Turkish Parliament, demanding the occupation of the Southern Armenia in order to create a land bridge with Azerbaijan through Nakhichevan, Zangezur and Karabagh. At the same time the skirmishes intensified on the Turkish-Armenian border. Situation became more and more tense. Few days later, in the beginning of May 1993, the Defense Minister of Russia Pavel Grachov arrived to Ankara with a short and unexpected visit. The Turkish media covered his trip with Caesarian laconism: “Arrived, peed, left”. Reportedly, Russian Marshal who probably drank too much aboard, asked for a closet just upon arrival to the governmental residency in Ankara; then he reported the brief message from the president Yeltsin and left without listening the answer.
In the meantime, the Karabagh Army captured the Azeri military trophies near the village of Shahbulagh, where the Turkish and even the US weaponry from the NATO warehouses was found and identified. It raised a scandal in the US Congress and led to the American sanctions against Azerbaijan.
However, the third escalation of Turkish threat began in September of 1993: the infantry and the artillery battalions of the 9th Sarikamysh division approached the Armenian border on the distance of a shot; new Prime Minister of Turkey, Mrs. Tansu Ciller was threating the invasion publicly, demanding the end of Armenian offensive in Karabagh.
In October 1993 the political crisis in Russia caused the siege and storm of the Parliamentary building in Moscow. According to the French and American sources, the Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller held the secret negotiations with the rebel leader of the Russian Duma, Ruslan Khasbulatov, seeking the permission of the “future victors” for the Turkish “limited invasion” to Armenia under the pretext of haunting the Kurdish terrorists on Armenian territory. Khasbulatov agreed and promised that Russia will remain neutral. The Turkish Council of National Security approved immediately the deployment of two infantry brigades and 15 fighter helicopters in Nakhichevan province of Azerbaijan for the further attack on Armenia in case of the victory of the Khasbulatov coup. The fire on Armenian and Russian border troops from the Turkish territory was intensifying day by day.
On October 5, 1993, President Ter-Petrosyan secretly announced the highest level of military threat and Armenian Army was alerted to fight back the forthcoming Turkish attack…
However, in few days the Khasbulatov October coup failed, the Russian tanks shot the rebellious Parliament, while the Turkish tanks were withdrawn from the Armenian border. All this happened just 15 years ago. Only 15 years… Don’t forget it when you’ll applaud to the border’s opening and then, when Turkish banks, firms and offices will be established here. Banks and tanks are always coming without visas.
Armenia From The Point Of View Of Russian Army Headquarters, CHEditorial, 03 April 2009
Armenian Question has important place in the Axis between Moscow and Tehran, because it’s traditional center of destabilization in Transcaucasia. It should be taken in consideration that Armenians are Arian nation who perfectly realize their historical origin and ties with other Indo-Europeans, especially those of Asian nature, the Iranians and Kurds. On the other hand, ?rmenians are Christians and their monophisitic tradition fits the Eastern Christian mainstream, although the Orthodox Church regards it as a heresy. Besides, they clearly understand their geopolitical ties with Russia.
Armenians occupy the lands of critical strategic importance, because through Armenia and Artsakh goes the road from Turkey to Azerbaijan and further to the Middle Asia. The Moscow-Tehran-Yerevan axis automatically becomes the crucial strategic bridge that reinforces the Russian-Iranian alliance and cut Turkey from internal continental space. In case of reorientation of Baku from Ankara to Tehran the Karabagh problem would be solved immediately since all four sides would need stability in this strategically important region. Otherwise, the further rapprochement of Azerbaijan with Turkey might cause the division of this country between Russia, Iran and Armenia. (page 243)
Armenia plays specific geopolitical role, being a traditional ally of Russia in the Caucasus. Armenia is vitally important as a strategic base for prevention of the Turkish expansion Northward and Eastward, to the regions of Middle Asian Turkic world. On the other hand, her ethnic and cultural integrity is important for geopolitical offensive to the South, inside the Turkish territory where significant part of ancient Armenia is located along with her major sanctuary, the Mt. Ararat. (page 352)
Quoted from “Geopolitical Basics and Russia’s Geopolitical Future”, a book of Alexander Dugin, the prominent Russian political expert. This book was published in 1997 and adopted as a textbook for the Military Academy of the Headquarters of Russian Army.
Turkishness Is Not Always Delightful, Worldfocus , July 24 2009
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Amid reports that Turkey may soon unveil reforms intended to quell tensions with the country's Kurdish minority, Turkey is moving ahead with its bid for European Union membership.
Conflict in Turkey's Kurdish southeast has claimed 40,000 lives.
Selma Å~^evkli is a freelance reporter currently based in Bodrum, Turkey. She describes how the country has struggled to define its "Turkum," which translates as Turkishness.
In 2005, Turkish lawmakers made it a crime to insult Turkey or Turkishness. Until last year, criticizing Turkishness was even punishable with up to three years in prison. Even as Turkey moves forward in the process of acceding to the European Union, it has moved further into its nationalistic bubble.
Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code -- criminalizing insults against "Turkish identity" - was used famously to incriminate writer Orhan Pamuk for accusing the Turkish government of complicity in murdering 30,000 Kurds and one million Armenians. The law has since been used to indict publishers, journalists and novelists. Our freedom of speech is hampred by our undying nationalistic political culture.
What is Turkishness? Is it a sort of nationality? A form of ethnicity? Or the name of one specific citizenship? As almost one-third of Turkey's population consists of Kurds who are legally referred to as Turkish, the question has become increasingly significant.
As I was researching secular Turkish nationalism for my graduate thesis, my first question to the people I interviewed was "What is Turkishness?" The answers varied widely, but for many people, it was a race or ethnicity. My second question asked whether Turkishness should include other ethnic groups in Turkey -- Kurds, Armenians, Greeks and many other smaller groups. After all, who qualifies as a Turk?
Turkish nationalism has been integral to the official discourse in Turkey since the beginning of the Turkish Republic in 1923. But for most of Turkey's history, we have largely pretended that all our citizens are ethnically Turkish. The various ethnic and religious minorities have generally been ignored, forced to emigrate or assimilate. The issue of Turkish nationalism only became visible when the Turkish state was compelled to assess its ignorance and change its policies toward minorities -- in soliciting an invitation to join the EU.
For many years, there was a total ban on Kurdish language and culture, as well as political pressure and economic restrictions in the Kurdish-populated region of the country. But things are changing now. Turkish state TV established a channel that broadcasts in Kurdish, which is a major departure from the language ban. Significant violence is ongoing, though less intense than ten years ago. It seems that policies dealing with cultural rights are making a difference.
Kurds are finally moving one step forward in Turkey, even though it is largely symbolic. Other minorities are not mentioned as much as the Kurds in the media, since their numbers are not as significant and they do not assert their rights as aggressively.
The Turkish state is suffering from its enduring ignorance towards other ethnic groups and an inability to adapt itself to the contemporary world. Although political reforms and new cultural policies seem to indicate a gradual shift, there needs to be a sea change in order to implement reforms more effectively and sincerely. For one thing, minorities should be mentioned in history class as essential parts of Turkey -- instead of cited as national enemies. Patient and devoted, Turkey's minorities have chosen to be a part of this country, and so it is time to recognize their rightful place in our society.
- Selma Å~^evkli
Book Reviews: Traditionally Turkish Bernard, Trink, Bangkok Post July 24 2009
The Sultan's Seal by Jenny White Available at Asia Books and leading book stores, 350 baht
Turkey is one of those countries that pops up now and then in world history, often enough for its name to be remembered yet too seldom for even the well-educated to rattle off who the founding father of its republic was. Most think its capital is Constantinople.
They massacred a whole lot of Kurds or Armenians, or somebody. They have harems and baths. Lawrence of Arabia beat them all in battle. Strong cigarettes. Muddy coffee. Belly dancers. Young Turks, a musical group? No disrespect intended, but that's what comes to people's minds when Turkey is mentioned.
One more thing, come to think of it. The museum of jewelled artefacts in Topkapi. That film about a gang of thieves at work there gave viewers the scenic tour of Constantinople/Istanbul/Stamboul a half-century ago. To those who didn't see it, the country is somewhere between Greece and Iran. Backpackers will be more precise.
Jenny White is a Yank anthropologist, Turkish politics and society her speciality. The Sultan's Seal is her first work of fiction. The story is set in 1886, the protagonist her literary creation Kamil Pasha the magistrate for Istanbul's Beyoglu Lower Court.
The author prefers Istanbul, sometimes Stamboul, to Constantinople. She notes that at the time Turkey was known as "the sick man of Europe" in diplomatic circles. It had long since passed its prime, though Sultan Abdulhammid reigned like his 15th century predecessors.
The Balkans were declaring independence, Westernised Turks were trying to depose him, England and Germany vying to exert influence. People were being assassinated. Duplicity in the palace was the order of the day.
The Secret Police spied on everybody, torture and disappearances common. Kamil wisely steers clear of Royal mischief. Still, he can't overlook the body of an English woman found floating in the Bosphorus wearing a pendant with the Sultan's seal.
Sybil the British Ambassador's daughter joins Kamil in his investigation, in the course of which they fall in love. This might have been an interesting crime thriller had White not filled the 403 pages with flowery descriptions of everything traditionally Turkish.
Telling the reader about the Golden Horn, courting practices, amd acts of revenge is one thing, but the author knows her subject too well and that's the rub. We learn far more about 19th century Turkey than we possibly want to know. Every floor, every vase, every dress, is detailed ad nauseam.
I've been to Turkey, finding some of it awesome and some dull. I wasn't too regretful to leave it for my next port of call. To be sure, every land should have at least one anthropologist in love with it as White is with Turkey.
Which may well enhance her non-fiction works, yet novels require a less pedantic approach. I trust she'll take this into account when writing about sleuth Kamil Pasha who, hopefully, won't wed silly Sybil.
The Inflation Of Genocide, Leonidas Donskis, European Voice July 24 2009 Belgium
A Lithuanian philosopher rejects political calls for the Soviet Union's slaughter of Lithuanians to be labelled an act of genocide.
Editor's note: Was the slaughter of Lithuanians by the Soviet Union an act of genocide? If so, should denial of the term 'genocide' be considered criminal? The Lithuanian parliament is set, in the coming months, to consider precisely those questions. In this essay, without downplaying the horrors of Soviet rule, the Lithuanian philosopher Leonidas Donskis argues against application of the term. It would, he contends, be wrong historically, wrong legally, wrong conceptually. It is, rather, an example of our age's inflation of concepts - one that risks marginalising genocide. The essay also comes against the backdrop of the formulation of a law in Russia that would criminalise those who equate Stalin and Hitler or deny that the Red Army "liberated" eastern Europe from fascism.
We are living in an era of not only monetary inflation, but also of the inflation - hence devaluation - of concepts and values.
Sworn oaths are being debased before our very eyes. It used to be that by breaking an oath a person lost the right to participate in the public square and to be a spokesman for truth and values. He would be stripped of everything except his personal and private life, and would be unable to speak on behalf of his group, his people or his society.
Pledges have also suffered a devaluation. Once upon a time, if you went back on your word you were divested of even the tiniest measure of trust.
Concepts are also being devalued; they are no longer reserved for the explicit task of describing precise instances of human experience. Everything is becoming uniformly important and unimportant. My very existence places me at the centre of the world.
Genocide and its inflation In my experience, the pinnacle of concept inflation was reached ten years ago, when I came across articles in the American press describing the "holocaust" of turkeys in the run-up to the Thanksgiving holiday. This was probably not a simple case of a word being used unthinkingly or irresponsibly.
Disrespect for concepts and language only temporarily masks disrespect for others; and this disrespect eventually bubbles to the surface.
In recent decades, the concept of genocide has undergone a perilous devaluation. Here, I would like to stress that the devaluation of this concept has not been underpinned by a concern for humanity as whole or for the condition of contemporary humaneness; just the opposite -it is a symptom of the history of the revaluation of the self as the world's navel and, concurrently, of an insensitivity towards humanity.
Moreover, the immoderate use of this word threatens to stifle dialogue.
The concept of genocide Genocide is a term used in philosophy, political science and sociology, but also in law; it is clearly defined in UN legal documents, and a precise definition of genocide exists in international law.
After the mass slaughter of national and ethnic groups by the Nazis, the term began to be used to designate the doctrine of deliberate extermination of national, religious or ethnic groups; and to designate the execution of this doctrine.
A genocide is the annihilation en bloc of a people or of a race, irrespective of class divisions, dominant ideology and internal social and cultural differences.
Genocide does not denote a battle against an enemy which, under conditions of war or revolution, is something that is clearly defined by classical military, ideological or political-doctrinal criteria.
If this were the case, any revolution, and the systematic annihilation of those opposing it, would need to be labelled genocide.
Genocide is anihilation without pre-selection, where the victims are utterly unable to save themselves - in theory or in practice - by an ideological change of heart, by religious apostasy or, ultimately, by betraying the group and going over to the other side.
On this view, let us then agree that the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris and the bloody killings of Huguenots throughout France; the terror unleashed during the Middle Ages by the Inquisition, which led to the murders of masses of women, witches, soothsayers, Jews and homosexuals; and the wiping out of entire village populations in the VendÃ©e by French revolutionaries in 1789-94 - regardless of how harrowing all of this carnage was - did not amount to genocide.
Those people met with a barbarous end, but almost all could have saved themselves by going over to the side of their enemies or persecutors.
Genocide is both a theory and a praxis (although it is a praxis first and foremost) that leaves its intended victims without any hope of escape - even if they choose to go over to their enemy's side.
You are guilty at birth, and this fatal error of having been born -this original sin - can be corrected only by your extermination. Such is the metaphysics of genocide and absolute hatred. The only way of resolving the 'problem' is by the complete and utter annihilation of bodies, lives, blood and skin pigment.
In his Nobel address, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn compared nations to thoughts of God; it was the murder of this single God - which goes beyond good and evil and which promotes the destruction of the entire world - that is the true genocide.
It is a symbolic murder of humanity, because the annihilation of one form of human existence relegates the existence of other peoples to the margins of mere future practicalities.
Killing one person makes it that much easier to go out and kill others.
Genocide and history There is no point in devaluing the concept of genocide through ratiocinations about the genocide of cultures and languages. Such phenomena, quite simply, do not exist - nor have they ever existed.
Until the 20th cenury, larger and more powerful states not only defeated but also assimilated smaller countries and nations, as much as we are loath to admit this.
Doubtless, the forced assimilation of individuals and nations is a repellent part of imperialism and of imperial politics as a spiritual principle; but it is not a crime against humanity once it becomes a routine and voluntary practice undertaken by the elites of smaller nations who later go on to rise to influence in the adopted metropolis.
After all, we cannot regard the history of all our civilisations as one ongoing crime and one endless genocide of some group or other. Whitewashing a concept benefits no one.
Whether we like it or not, the Holocaust was the one and only bona fide genocide in human history.
It was unique not only because of its scale, its praxis and its industrial methods of annihilation, but because of its determination never to call a halt to the Final Solution as long as a single Jew remained alive.
Ultimately, it was not a garden-variety mass killing; it was a policy decision taken by an industrial and civilised state; one into which the country's entire economic and and industrial machinery was plugged in, bolstered by military might and a political propaganda apparatus.
Which is why other genocides of the 20th century need to be discussed with provisos, although this does not in any way diminish the scale of these other tragedies, nor does it diminish the culpability of the perpetrators in the eyes of God and humanity.
Although they were more sporadic and involved less forward thinking, the other 20th century mass killings of nations which exhibited genocidal features, beyond any shadow of a doubt, were no less sickening.
The massacre of Armenians during the First World War; the slaughter of Roma during the Second World War; Stalin's Holodomor, which unleashed mass starvation on the Ukranian populace; the killing spree that saw millions of Tutsis cut down in Rwanda; and, lastly, the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Albanians in the former Yugoslavia - all of these macabre 20th century events can be considered mass killings with genocidal traits.
Compared with the Holocaust, these mass murders were smaller in scale, were not as global and were somewhat less international in their ideological reach and practical scope, but they were nonetheless horrific and were certainly crimes against humanity of a genocidal type.
Their aim was not to destroy isolated groups or social strata among the enemy, but to liquidate as many members of an ethnic group as possible.
Genocide, Lithuania and stratocide Did Lithuania experience genocide? No, it did not.
No matter how cruel the Soviet terror that was visited upon the Baltic states, a large segment of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian society, by going over to the other side, by becoming collaborators, was not only able to save itself, but also secure for itself successful careers in the administration of the occupying regime. This group was able to wreak havoc on and settle scores with its own people, doing so with impunity.
There was never any project for a complete annihilation of the Baltic peoples - had this been the case, it is very unlikely that we would still be around. In writing this, I am in no way downplaying the scale of the atrocities committed in the name of Soviet communism.
I will always deplore any attempt to exculpate or to diminish the scale of the crimes committed by that bloody and essentially criminal regime. Nonethless, let us be honest and honourable by acknowledging that we did not experience a true genocide.
It was not for nothing that philosopher and Soviet dissident Grigory Pomerantz suggested referring to the Soviet terror not as genocide, but as stratocide - the annihilation of certain strata and classes within a nation.
He explained that it was not an entire nation that had been wiped out, as a racial or ethnic whole, but its most educated, most cultured and most conscious strata.
Russians do not refer to the physical annihilation of their intelligentsia and bourgoisie - numbering in the millions of lives lost - as genocide, just as the purges during China's Cultural Revolution, which carried off the lives of tens of millions of Chinese, was never proclaimed a genocide of the Chinese people.
Genocide is not a mass slaughter motivated by an internal ideological or political struggle - if that were the case, civil wars would end up falling into the category of genocide.
In the case of genocide, one nation engages in the premeditated annihilation of another; the aggressors do not seek to subjugate the victims, nor to bring them to heel and foist upon them an alien doctrine, religion or ideology.
So let us be precise. Let us call a spade a spade.
The end result of a totalitarian revolution, and of the institutionalised social engineering that seeks to level a society's composition by liquidating a particular class, is no better than genocide - but it is not genocide. This is why the excessive use of this word is not benign at all.
Genocide and its marginalisation If you want to downgrade the Holocaust or shove it into the margins of history, well then, all you need to do is come up with another genocide that took place in that same country, even if it is one that does not quite fit the legal criteria for and definition of genocide.
If the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania is not investigating the Holocaust, then a question surfaces: what is it investigating? And what is its definition of genocide?
A new law currently being drafted for debate by Lithuania's legislature would make it a crime to deny that a genocide against the Lithuanian people was ever conducted by the Soviets.
It follows from this that whenever historians, political scientists, sociologists, philosophers and law professors discuss the concept of genocide, or discuss historical cases of genocide, they end up running the risk of landing in jail if they express any doubts about a genocide of Lithuanians by the Soviets - as if this genocide could be somehow identical to the one conducted by the Nazis against Jews.
In my view, attempts to criminalize discussion are totally out of place in any democratic state. Such attempts pose a grave threat to the freedoms of thought and of conscience, which could easily end up being stifled in the name of a threat to national dignity or security. Forgive me, but this sounds like a melody from the repertoire of some authoritarian regime.
If the reply to this charge is that Holocaust denial is forbidden and punishable as a crime in Germany and Austria, I will readily admit that I am in no way enamoured with that practice.
The criminalisation of Holocaust denial causes a slackening of conscience, safely removing the Holocaust from the sphere of ethics and morality and tucking it into the neatly arranged sphere of law.
Furthermore, a halo appears above the heads of Holocaust deniers and revisionists - and it is the dangerous ideas of these people that must be defeated through forthright discussion, not by shutting away the proponents of such ideas in a windowless cell.
You can put someone in the dock for denying the past tragedies of a country or nation - you can even put such a person behind bars - but this will not hinder him from demonstrating contempt and insensitivity towards that nation or state in the present.
Leftist politicians in countries that prohibit Holocaust denial, who shun lengthier discussions of the topic and who, at the same time, merrily fulminate against Israel, labelling it a fascist state and referring to the suffering of the Palestinian arabs as genocide, leave me wondering if the criminalisation of Holocaust denial in western Europe is not a phenomenon marching in step with a new form of anti-Semitism that has begun growing shoots - a politically correct, left-leaning, anti-globalist anti-Semitism (one strain of which is ideological anti-Americanism) that employs criticism of Israel as a disguise.
Anti-Semitism, it would seem, has been thrust out the front door only to be allowed to climb back in through the window.
Therefore, when addressing the painful episodes of human history we should ponder the dangers of our contemporary amoral and relativist culture.
By quashing open and rational discussion, we will never restore to our concepts and values their original content. And there are no laws that can help us here either.
Leonidas Donskis is a Lithuanian philosopher. This text appears in his recent collection of essays, "Nepopuliaros izvalgos" (Unpopular insights), Vilnius: Versus Aureus, 2009. The translator is Darius Ross.
We Need To Keep Territories Hakob Badalyan - /Www.Lragir.Am/
There is a common opinion in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh issue settlement that the most important issue in this conflict for both Armenia and Karabakh is the status of Karabakh. Moreover, the official Yerevan insists on this opinion. Let alone the question if this is the axis of the negotiating process, or this is an ordinary question. Let us just view if there is anything more important than the status for the Armenian side.
I think that there is another question more important than the status. It is the question on the liberated areas. In other words, the question is who is to control those territories. If they are out of the Armenian control, Karabakh will have only a temporary status, which is going to repress the Armenians.
The liberated areas for the Armenian side are a ground for both physical security and moral rise. Being deprived of them, the Armenian side will be deprived also of physical security and moral supremacy. By attributing some kind of status to Nagorno-Karabakh the life does not end, it does not stop but goes on, which means that the geopolitics is going to continue. And the geopolitics supposes for infinite interests.
Karabakh has already been once granted a status as a part of Azerbaijan SSR. The question is not what status was granted. The question is that the status changed only in result of a war. What is the guarantee that there will not be shaped a new geopolitical atmosphere after several years, which will enable Azerbaijan change the Karabakhi status with the help of the international society? Depriving Armenia of moral and physical supremacy of the liberated areas, Azerbaijan gets a very good precedent to deprive Karabakh of its status in the future.
If today, the world assures Azerbaijan that it will secure the return of territories if Azerbaijan reconciles with its loss of border with Armenia and Karabakh, who may say for sure that tomorrow the world will not be saying to Azerbaijan that they may also return Karabakh. The return of the territories fits into the geopolitical interests of superpowers, depending on who is going to be the “sponsor” of the return.
If the developments after the 1994 war brought about the point that the international society thinks that the issue must be solved by returning the territories to Azerbaijan, so it is not impossible that the same international society one day will decide to solve another question by returning Karabakh to Azerbaijan. The Armenians will surely fight but we must not forget that during our history we had not only military victories but also defeats. Moreover, if before this war, without thinking of a possible war, we agree to cede a part of our victory.
In addition, it is considered to be done in order to avoid any war. Sure, maybe some future generation or we will manage to avoid the war, though it is not known who says that keeping the territories means a war. Sure if the territories become the richness and the property of several people, and in response to the international proposal to return them, we say if you take them, we will fight, so it is natural that the international society may “get angry” and force a war to us.
However, if relevant work is done to make Armenia and Karabakh countries with modern measurements and the liberated areas to be a legal, a vital component of that country based on law, so the international perception of the liberated areas will change completely. They will stop being viewed as saved “coins” during the war, which would be needed for an exchange with Karabakh. The point is that the present aspect of the negotiation seems to show that they do not want to take something from Armenia and give it to Azerbaijan, but they want to leave something to Armenia.
It is understandable, that the reality and the issue of the negotiations differ and fortunately, no one forces Armenia yield anything. But the problem, as many people notice, is that the international attitude towards the topic of negotiations is going to change rather than the topic of negotiations itself.
Zaruhi Postanjyan – Future President Of Armenia, CHEditorial, 01 July 2009
Ten years ago Robert Kocharyan said with a grin he “doesn’t see any real brave man around”, hinting that no one of those lackeys and lickspittles who surrounded him would ever dare to oppose his craziest wishes and freaks. Indeed, nobody in the government or the parliament said a word when the state possessions were pocketed and sold for peanuts – from the brandy factory to Armenfilm studios, from the telephone network to railroads, from the energy power plants to the mines, from the capital city center to the liberated territories. The real brave men were either killed or arrested or left the country, angry and desperate. But there is no emptiness in the world. The bravest politician in Armenia turned to be a woman. Her name is Zaruhi Postanjyan and I advise you to remember her face because I’m sure – destiny sent her to save our country.
37-year-old woman, mother of three daughters, Member of Parliament, clever and beautiful woman who defends the human rights in the court when she succeeded to acquit three soldiers slandered by the military prosecutors as well as in the streets of Yerevan where she protected the people from the police atrocities on 1 March, 2008. She arrived to the president’s reception wearing a T-shirt with portrait of arrested war hero, Jirayr Sefilyan and she stood in front of the bulldozer that chopped the trees to clear up the site for another “elite” building.
Perhaps, just the woman is supposed to save our country from the trap of corruption, lie and violence where we all are captured due to foolish, greed and cruel men who ruled the state in past twenty years. Zaruhi might be chance of salvation, a chance to become a normal civilized country and we would be hopeless idiots if we lose this chance.
Armenia Must Return Occupied Lands To Azerbaijan: Israeli MP, Today.Az July 22 2009
Member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and chairman of faction "Our Home Israel" Robert Ilatov spoke in an exclusive interview with Day.Az.
Day.Az: What is the aim of your visit to Baku?
Robert Ilatov: We arrived in Baku at the invitation of Jewish organizations. I met with Chairman of the State Committee for Diaspora Nazim Ibrahimov. I also met with First Vice-Speaker of the Milli Mejlis [parliament] and with my parallel here Evda Abramov, who leads Azerbaijan-Israel parliamentary friendship association. We also plan to meet with Jewish communities.
Q: President Peres' visit to Azerbaijan is considered to be historical and was highly appreciated by both Azerbaijani and Israeli media. Do you think that this visit marked a new epoch in relations between the two countries?
A: Certainly. The visit by Shimon Peres gave a serious impetus to our relationship. We were delighted and surprised by the response that followed the position of Iran about the visit of the Israeli president to Azerbaijan. We were delighted at the response of an independent state.
Q: In what areas Azerbaijan and Israel can establish fruitful and long-term cooperation?
A: I think development of economic and strategic relations and protection of the interests of each state where it is possible are very important. Undoubtedly, there are places where we can have more influence and Azerbaijan have the similar places. I think we should go along the working track. I hope that those business processes that we are now beginning will yield fruit in political and economic spheres in near future. I am an advocate of developing economic relations, because they, in turn, reinforce the policy. It is always easier to say when there are interests.
Q: As member of the Knesset, do you think that the question of the so-called "Armenian genocide" will be discussed in the parliament in near future?
A: You know, in our parliament any member can raise any topic for discussion. But the parliament is very far from that at the moment. Israel has removed this issue from agenda fro decades. Today I do not see any reason that the Israeli parliament will accept the so-called genocide of the Armenian people for discussions.
The Knesset can discuss any topic including any existing conflicts. But this does not mean that the discussion will lead to the fact that we recognize what they consider to be fact. I do not think that this is a problem that Azerbaijan can be concerned with.
Q: How would you assess the current state of negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, given the recent meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as the president of Russian?
A: The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, of course, is quite complex. Our official position and my personal position is that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored and the lands occupied by Armenia should be returned to Azerbaijan. The problem, in principle, should be resolved peacefully. We oppose any military action from the both sides.
Russia and the United States can assist with this process. As for us, we do not interfere in this process because it does not relate to us at all and we do not know how we can help. Therefore, we are not trying to impose our position and do not want to do it because there are countries that have more interest and more influence and Israel is very far from these processes. If you need any help or assistance, we are always ready to provide it for the settlement of the conflict.
Congressmen Send Letter To Obama Noting That Armenian-Turkish Relations And Genocide Recognition Should Be Separated, Washington, July 22, Noyan Tapan - Armenians Today. Four Pro-Armenian American Congresssmen Wrote A New Letter To Usa President Barak Obama.
According To The Marmara Daily, In The Letter Of The Congressmen It Was Noted That The Normalization Of The Armenian-Turkish Relations And Armenian Genocide Recognition Should Be Separated As Different Problems.
It Was Also Stressed In The Letter That Armenia Is True To The Road-Map Agreement Signed Between The Two States While Turkey Has Broken It.
It Is Possible That Other Congressmen Will Also Sign Under The Letter.
Spiritual And Cultural Values Of Armenian-Based And Diasporan Armenian Youth Are Same, Diasporan Armenian Participants Of Summer School Think
Noyan Tapan July 22, 2009
On July 20, the Armenian Young Women's Association received the Diasporan Armenian young participants of the Summer School program organized by the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA). They discussed with the guests and reporters the similarities and differences between the Armenian youth living in Armenia and in Diaspora.
Opinions were expressed that the only difference between Armenians and Disporan Armenians is the distance and the spiritual and cultural values are the same.
"The Diasporan Armenians are more modest, devoted, patriotic, while Armenian girls only think of having many clothes and sparkling decorations," a participant of the discussion, Nvard said.
One of the guests expressed an opinion that Armenians living abroad bear the influence of the culture and way of thinking of the country where they live: "As people in their environment more listen and speak English they will hardly completely feel the significance of being an Armenian, it is the Armenian language that keeps awake the realization of being an Armenian in each Armenian."
In response to the question of Chairman of the Armenian Young Women's Association Lilit Asatria of what the eight young participants of the Summer School program revealed coming to Armenia, a resident of the Utah state Sargis answered that in the course of time he lost interest in Armenia, even did not want to say that he was an Armenian: "However now I have changed a lot, I have realized that I would not like to be a Mexican, a German or any other nationality, it is very good that I am an Armenian." New York-based Elizabeth, coming to Armenia, began thinking whether she is an Eastern or Western Armenian, and what kind of contribution she will make in society as an Armenian.
During the discussion those present also tried to find out what should be the basis of a stable family, love, respect, faith and whether those present will marry representatives of another nationality or Armenians living in different countries of the world. It turned out that the primary thing for all of them was love.
In response to the question of why the participants consider themselves to be Armenians, Sargis answered: "My father is a man who does not like Armenians at all, and hates foreigners, that is why there has been no contact with Armenians for many years. However I have always considered myself to be an Armenian, as I have an Armenian surname, culture and way of thinking." On the whole, the participants shared the same opinion that Armenian is not the one who "crosses himself every morning and eats dolma," for being an Armenian it is not important to know Armenian and be a Christian.
Assembly Country Director for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh Arpi Vartanian wound up the discussion confessing that sometimes she feels herself an inhabitant of Armenia, sometimes an American Armenian, but before being a Diasporan Armenian or an inhabitant of Armenia she thinks that we all are human beings.
i.kalin at todayszaman.com What Has Changed In The Kurdish Issue?
We seem to be approaching a turning point in the Kurdish issue. Instead of talking about the “Kurdish problem,” we are talking about the “Kurdish initiative” just as we are talking about the “Alevi initiative” rather than the “Alevi problem” and the “Armenian initiative” rather than the “Armenian problem.” Turkey still has a long way to go to solve these issues, but the fact that we have moved from the stage of chronic problems to that of initiatives is noted by everyone.
What has raised expectations and caused this new optimism now? Four key groups have changed their views and attitudes about the Kurdish issue and how it should be solved. These groups are the Turkish state; the Turkish society, including the Kurds of Turkey; the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); and the international community. For all of these groups, the key difference was in the way the Kurdish issue was defined. The official ideology had defined the Kurdish issue as one of terrorism and fought against it militarily. This was backed up by two other definitions: economic underdevelopment and tribal culture. Terrorism, separatism, underdevelopment and tribal culture became the codewords of the official state line on the Kurdish issue and led to iron-fist policies.
Let's try to sum up how various groups have changed their positions.
The state: The founders of the Turkish Republic were aware of the reality of the Kurds. Atatürk had acknowledged their existence in the late 1910s and early 1920s. But after “Turkification policies” were put in place, the Kurds did not fit the project of a nation composed of “Muslim Turks” alone. The modern Turkish nation-state had practically no room for non-Turkish Muslims, such as Kurds, and non-Muslim minorities such as Greeks and Armenians. Today, the state accepts ethnic and religious pluralism as an essential reality of Turkish society. State officials, including Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, admit that the Kurdish issue cannot be solved by military means alone.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's famous Diyarbakır speech in 2005 was a turning point in the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) policy on the Kurdish issue in which he acknowledged the wrongs done to the Kurds in the name of national security. President Abdullah Gül called the Kurdish issue the most vital issue for Turkey and started rounds of talks with key stakeholders including the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Democratic Society Party (DTP). The National Security Council (MGK) held several sessions on the issue, all agreeing on the urgency of the matter and the need to start a new process of national reconciliation. By launching a Kurdish television channel supported by public funds, the government has taken a bold step and received the blessings of many.
The Turkish public: Public opinion on the Kurdish issue is no longer hostage to ultra-nationalist discourse about exclusivist Turkishness and state-centrism. Everybody praises the benefits of a true culture of coexistence between Turks, Kurds and others. Most citizens of Turkey believe that Kurds should be recognized as an essential part of Turkish society and treated with respect, dignity and equality. This view is now shared across the society.
The PKK: As the terrorist wing of the leftist Kurdish movement, the PKK and its leadership also admit that they cannot serve the Kurds by fighting an endless and meaningless guerilla war. Ideology alone does not deliver. Plus, the PKK's political ideology was million miles away from the cultural and religious identity of the vast majority of Kurds, who are mostly traditional Sunni Muslims. Furthermore, the PKK has lost much of its international support and is no longer seen as a “freedom fighter” organization.
The international arena: Various states and agencies that had supported the PKK in the past no longer lend it their support because the international system needs an economically and politically strong Turkey. Neither Europeans nor Americans can afford to lose Turkey to ethnic tension, political chaos or economic crisis. From Iran and Iraq to the Caucasus, Turkey is needed as a strong player and partner. This was seen most vividly in the signing ceremony of the Nabucco energy project. Turkey's European Union process has also helped. By approving political and legal reforms, the AK Party government has alleviated some of the problems related to the Kurdish issue. In short, there are reasons for being optimistic about the Kurdish issue.
23 July 2009
Caucasus Institute Director Talks Straight About Karabakh, July 24, 2009 Gül Demİr And Niki Gamm Istanbul – Hürriyet Daily News
Iskandaryan: As for ideas I might have on what should be done, theoretically, yes, but practically, unfortunately, I can’t really see a real prospect of solving the Karabakh problem
Iskandaryan: You [Turks] should bring something important before October. It can be something like opening the border for one day a week or, I don’t know, two days a week. Or open it for a month. It could be a statement, a real statement with a real road map, because they talked about a road map, and nobody’s seen it, and everybody in Yerevan says it does not exist
Iskandaryan: Before independence, Karabakh was a part of Armenia, and this is not accepted by the Azerbaijan elite, by the regime. It normally forces somebody else to follow, [somebody] who says that we lost Karabakh so give us one, two, three, five regions. Karabakh will become independent or will become part of Armenia. We have lost this region. So there is no real issue for negotiations
Iskandaryan stressed that he has only one answer for diaspora Armenians who harp on the genocide issue: We are citizens of another country. We are talking about Yerevan-Ankara relationships.... They are citizens of other countries. It’s not like you can call from Yerevan and say, ‘Guys, don’t talk about genocide’
Iskandaryan: When US President Barack Obama talked about it [the crisis] here, we analyzed his speech. The first part was about Turkey and the European Union, the second about Armenia-Turkish relations and then Palestine, the Middle East and Iraq, etc., etc. It brings some hope
Iskandaryan: We should work together with many countries, but it is hard to do. We need organizations like the International Center for Black Sea Studies to hold meetings. We should know each other
When asked if he thought the Nagorno-Karabakh issue would be solved soon, Caucasus Institute Director Alexander Iskandaryan wasn’t optimistic about the possibility of ending the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that has festered since the 1990s. He wasn’t afraid to be blunt, either.
“No, I don’t. In the short term and the middle term, I don’t think it is possible, unfortunately,” Iskandaryan told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Does he have ideas on what should be done to solve it?
“As for ideas I might have on what should be done, theoretically, yes, but practically, unfortunately, I can’t really see a real prospect of solving the Karabakh problem.”
In 1988, fighting broke out over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which was under Azerbaijani control, but contained an Armenian majority.
Iskandaryan is the director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute, a postgraduate institute and think tank that seeks to encourage pluralistic discourse in the countries of the South Caucasus by contributing to the development of political science and news media in the region. The institute strongly believes that a democratic future is one that is openly discussed and consciously chosen.
“In reality, what should you do? You should go to consensus and give it to the counterpart Armenian sides, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” Iskandaryan said. “They should give something and vice versa. They are not really prepared to work with the Azeris over the conflict that began in 1988. We want Karabakh inside Azerbaijan. But this is absolutely not acceptable for the people of Karabakh.
“It was war, and in every family in Karabakh, they remember the war. They don’t want to come back because there was war, and you cannot forget it, at least in the short term. I don’t know what it will be like in 20 years, but now I’m afraid that Karabakh cannot accept it. It is about Armenian Armenians. Every proposal that is not accepted by Karabakh is impossible for the Republic of Armenia.
“So if you look from Armenian Yerevan, you’re sure to see that the status of Karabakh is on a known level with Azerbaijan, which means independence. Before independence, Karabakh was a part of Armenia, and this is not accepted by the Azerbaijan elite, by the regime. It normally forces somebody else to follow, [somebody] who says that we lost Karabakh so give us one, two, three, five regions. Karabakh will become independent or will become part of Armenia. We have lost this region. So there is no real issue for negotiations.
“Negotiations are good. Negotiations are going on because of pressure from outside. You negotiate, but you really don’t want to go to such a solution. What you really want now doesn’t mean that the situation will be forever. It is a process. It is a political channel before and between counterparts. There are some places in the world where we don’t have such processes like these. We have another-country-approach included in the process, the United States, Russia and France officially. Unofficially, Turkey and Iran are part of the process as well, and the European Union. So the process goes on. Hopes can be here, but the format of the process is not of a size yet that you can wait for solutions.... I’m quite an optimist; I don’t think that war is possible. But I don’t think the final solution to the problem is possible this way.”
Sports as part of the playing field
Some people in Turkey are looking forward to the October football match between Turkey and Armenia, when Armenia’s president will be in Istanbul. Some hopes have been raised about this visit being a turning point. Iskandaryan considers the question part of Turkish domestic policies.
Although he is considered one of the leading experts on the South Caucasus region, he is sufficiently self-confident that he doesn’t mind admitting that he is not an expert on Turkish policies. “I don’t know if it is possible or not, but I hope that it should be because winning is very important. If the process goes on for years, it will bring nothing. You [Turks] should bring something important before October. It can be something like opening the border for one day a week or, I don’t know, two days a week. Or open it for a month. It could be a statement, a real statement with a real road map, because they talked about a road map, and nobody’s seen it, and everybody in Yerevan says it does not exist.
“We should talk about the political elite’s problems in Turkey, not in Yerevan. We have protests. In Yerevan we have discussions in the analytic community, in your community, the journalistic community, etc. But on the elite level, they are for opening the borders; they are for the normalization of relations. All the parliament forces, the coalition – I mean the president, etc. – they are for the process. In Turkey, it is a little bit different; it’s part of domestic coalitions. So I don’t know whether it will happen or not, but it is very important before October. I hope that something will happen before October.
“With the Turks, it started from the point that they closed the borders because of the Karabakh War. Also the point was to solve the whole Karabakh problem and improvise. Then there were some changes in Turkey at least among Turkish officials. But now, with the process going on, solving the Karabakh problem is connected to the Turkish-Armenian-relations problem.
“I think the best way to view the process of Armenian and Turkish normalization is to connect it directly with the Karabakh problem. We should have progress on the Karabakh problem. This is different from the Turkish-Armenian-relations problem. The Turkish-Armenian problem should have its own dynamic. It should be a problem connected with progress in the Karabakh conflict, but not in [a] solution. If that’s what you’re looking for, impossible.”
Asked about the pressure the American government might put on Turkey to settle the Karabakh issue, Iskandaryan said he thought it to be great. “I think it is one of the key issues in the process. But really I do not think that America has an interest in our normalization of relations with Turkey. Before the five days’ war, it might have been like this, but now [it is] after the five days’ war and the isolation of Georgia, after the extremely bad Georgian-Russian relationship, after the recognition of Abkhazia by the Russians, after much more isolation for the South Caucasus, not even Georgia, but the South Caucasus.
“Now if you go to Moscow from Yerevan with a Russian company, they go around Georgia through Turkey. So it shows us how if Georgia wants to be a part of the game, it should normalize relations with Armenia. It is in Georgia’s interest, as I understand it, looking from the South Caucasus. I think the pressure is great, but it is in the interest of Georgia to know its relationship with America.”
Discussing America led to the issue of the diaspora, descendants of Armenians who left the Ottoman Empire in the first quarter of the 20th century to settle elsewhere. Their insistence that the loss of life at the time be called genocide has often created difficulties between Turkey and other countries.
Iskandaryan stressed that he has only one answer for the diaspora Armenians who harp on the genocide issue. “We are citizens of another country. We are talking about Yerevan-Ankara relationships. We don’t care about what somebody of Turkish origin said in Germany or Kurdistan or Kazakhstan. We are talking about Turks and Armenians. They are citizens of other countries – Americans, Greeks, French, Russians. You cannot stop them. It is impossible. It’s not like you can call from Yerevan and say, ‘Guys, don’t talk about genocide.’ Genocide is part of their mentality. It’s part of their self, their emotion. I have just one example. Their actions against Turkey, their actions lobbying for the recognition of genocide, that was before the Armenian state existed. They are citizens of another country.
“We are talking about the citizens of Turkey. But surely the question of genocide, the problem of genocide – we will not resolve it even if … the borders [are opened] and diplomatic relations [are established]. It will happen someday. I don’t know – in one year or 10 years – but it will happen someday.
“The question of genocide will be in eternity. It will stay so. We should open the borders just because borders in the 21st century are open. Will the problems stay with us? Yes, but the borders will be open. Are we going to try to talk about it? Yes. But the borders should be open.”
Iran and the South Caucasus
Asked about Iran’s role and its recent internal difficulties over its presidential-election results, Iskandaryan said he had reached the conclusion that little would change in that country’s policies toward the South Caucasus region.
“Iran is a huge country, a big economy that is very important for the South Caucasus. About 30 percent of Armenia’s exports go to Iran. They have a huge Azerbaijani community there. The figures are not definite, from 10 million to 26 million. But it’s huge. You cannot really do anything in the region if Iran is strictly against it. Iran has its own interests. So what is going on in Iran is extremely important. But I think that with Mousavi or with Ahmadinejad or somebody else – I’m not a specialist – Iran will keep more or less the same politics in the South Caucasus. It’s not good, but it’s not bad. I hope the situation will stabilize, and I don’t think that something will really dramatically change.”
“I really think that now it’s a kind of crisis, a short-term crisis if you know what I mean. We had a lot of hopes, a lot of hopes from the beginning, and then it was April, which was complicated, but still the road map was going on, etc., etc. It became a question that was discussed with all involved. When U.S. President Barack Obama talked about it here, we analyzed his speech. The first part was about Turkey and the European Union, the second about Armenia-Turkish relations and then Palestine, the Middle East and Iraq, etc., etc. It brings some hope … but in this process you really need change. Stagnation is very bad for this process, so I hope it will come before that.”
Homogeneous or heterogeneous?
“The Black Sea region is a strange region with different animals,” Iskandaryan said. “For example, I had some connection with the Baltic Sea, and it was much easier there because it is a much more homogenous region. We are dealing with people who understand that they are part of a one cultural region and have the identity of Baltic Sea people.
“Here we don’t have it. People are very different. We have Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, which are members of the EU, and we have big countries like Turkey, and then we have little countries like Armenia or Georgia. And we have Ukraine and Georgia, which don’t have very good relations with Russia. We have countries that have nominal relations with Russia.
“We have Turkey, etc., etc. We have Muslims; we have Christians. This is not homogenous; it is a heterogeneous region. It shows that we should try to construct a region of economic, political, intellectual, etc., cooperation between different nations. It is a kind of triangle between Russia, the EU and Iran. We should work together with many countries, but it is hard to do. We need organizations like the International Center for Black Sea Studies to hold meetings. We should know each other. It’s not easy.
“For example, in Armenia, if you ask people – just look on the streets, journalists, academics – what they think about Moldova, they don’t know anything about it. We should try to find ways to understand each other, to see each other, to see the problems within the region. So conferences are steps on a long path, but I hope they will bring results. Because establishing the Black Sea region as a region is very important for all the countries around it.”
The Armenian Question Grigoris Balakian
Jewish Exponent http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/19277/July 23 2009
Peter Balakian is primarily a poet, with several acclaimed volumes to his credit. But beginning in the late 1990s, with the appearance of his prize-winning memoir, Black Dog of Fate, recently reissued by Basic Books in a updated edition, Balakian began delving into his family's Armenian past, and especially the fate of certain members at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. His goal, ostensibly, was to find out what it meant for him, an all-American, baseball-loving boy who'd been raised in Tenafly, N.J.
At the heart of this expansive, multi-layered volume is the author's personal discovery of the truth about what the Turkish government did to 1 million Armenians in 1915, what Balakian has called "the first time a state bureaucracy was mobilized against another people." He also examined how his family dealt with the issue of the mass slaughter, which had directly affected his relatives, his beloved grandmother among them. His family's wish, as his parents and others like them sought to establish themselves in America, had been to repress the memories and move on, to leave the pain and degradation behind.
Balakian continued his research into the Armenian genocide with The Burning Tigris, another prize-winning work. But in this book, he analyzed not only the tragedy but its aftermath -- how the world initially reacted to it, and then, like his family, how the public buried it and moved on.
In fact, following the 1915 slaughter, the Armenian question was a human-rights issue, championed by American citizens and their leaders. According to Balakian, there was no ambiguity at the time. The New York Times described the occurrence as "state-planned killing."
But once America began its push toward isolationism in the wake of World War I, and as Woodrow Wilson's postwar plans went down in defeat, the intellectual and and political climate in the country turned away from any sort of human-rights issues based in foreign places.
Turkey soon became a modern republic; Armenia was swallowed up by the Soviet Union; and the genocide became lost as a cause. Turkey also became adept at suppressing testimony about the killings. All of these various developments are discussed in depth in The Burning Tigris. Now, with the appearance of Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian, the poet's uncle, the younger Balakian has completed what he's designated as his trilogy (he has acted, in the current instance, as a guide, in his splendid introduction, and as co-translator with Aris Sevag). Even without its distinguished predecessors, this new work would constitute a publishing event of significance -- for Armenians, undoubtedly, but for Jews and the world as well. This memoir, which covers the years 1915 to 1918, is witness literature of the highest order, to be put beside the great testimony from the Shoah. Despite the horrors it describes, Armenian Golgotha, published by Knopf, becomes, by its appearance alone, required reading for those who wish to comprehend the 20th century and the modern world we inhabit.
'Depth of Understanding' According to the biography provided by the publishers, Grigoris Balakian, who was born in 1876, was one of the foremost intellectuals of his generation. Educated in Germany and the Ottoman Empire, he was ordained a celibate priest in 1901 and served the Armenian Apostolic Church as an emissary to Europe, and Russia in particular. Aside from writing a number of books, he also became bishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church in southern France. He died in Marseilles in 1934. As his nephew says of his uncle's considerable achievement, Grigoris was the first survivor to provide the world with a "depth of understanding" about what happened to his fellow Armenians as they were driven from their homes and slaughtered en masse. He also "portrays in detail" an "unexplored dimension" of the genocide --"the second wave of massacres aimed at surviving Armenians (between 160,000 and 200,000) in camps in the summer of 1916." His uncle's statistics suggest that more than 400,000 "perished in Der Zor, making it a kind of Auschwitz of the Armenian Genocide."
Those who consider themselves informed individuals -- and those who especially consider themselves well-versed in the dangers that still face the world -- will ignore Armenian Golgotha at their peril.
Mount Ararat: A Purpose Discovered, Meghrie Demirdjian
May 16th was just another ordinary day for most people; but for me it was the day that I would come to realize what being an Armenian truly meant.
We arrived in Yerevan at around four in the morning and, struggling to keep our eyes open, barely made it into our hotel rooms before falling into a deep sleep. The following morning I awoke and, out of habit, I climbed out of bed to open the curtains, unprepared for what was waiting for me on the other side. As soon as the first golden ray of sunshine hit my eyes, my jaw dropped as I absorbed the great mass that was in front of me.
My entire life, Mount Ararat had just been an abstract idea, one that all of my Armenian teachers had mentioned numerous times but with very little detail. I now understood why. There are no words in either the English or Armenian dictionaries to describe the beauty of the mountain I had come to believe was fictional.
The small peak, Little Masis, is a perfect triangle, while the larger peak, Big Masis, has a slightly rugged, irregular form. Both peaks were blanketed in a sheet of perfectly white snow that contrasted sharply with the icy blue color of the mountain. As soon as I realized what I was looking at, tears flooded my eyes. My arm was outstretched, as if to grab a hold of the mountain, as I realized that the most perfect image I had ever seen in my life had once belonged to my ancestors. At that moment, I wished that everything would change, so that, once again, this amazing entity would be in the grasp of the Armenian people.
I have never before felt such a burning desire to call something mine. It seemed as though a new purpose had stirred inside of me, one which I had never considered before. I had to make this heavenly monument mine; I could no longer deny its symbolic meaning to the Armenian people. I finally found something worth fighting for, and I would do anything in my power to make this idea possible.
I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to travel to my beautiful motherland of Armenia, and I plan on doing so again sometime in the near future. As for now, I will continue cherishing the culture I am blessed to be a part of and the memories I have come to make.
ANCA'S STATEMENT, A1+ 23 July 2009, The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) issued the following statement in regard to the Nagorno Karabakh peace process:
On the occasion of the July 17-18 meetings of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow, in regard to the Nagorno Karabakh peace process, under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group (OSCE), the ANCA reiterates its long-standing position that any resolution must be acceptable to the people of both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
The meetings follow the joint declaration by the presidents of the United States, France and Russia on July 10, at the recent Group of Eight conference in Italy, in which the presidents instructed the 'mediators to present to the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan an updated version of the Madrid Document of November 2007, the Co-Chairs' last articulation of the Basic Principles,' and urged the parties to 'resolve the few remaining differences....'
The issues are complex and will require time to reach a solution that is acceptable to all parties, and most specifically to the citizens of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Throughout the ongoing negotiation process, and again on July 16, the Armenian Government has stated that no agreement can be reached without the concurrence of the government and citizens of Nagorno Karabakh. We fully endorse that policy and urge the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to ensure that the government of Nagorno Karabakh joins the negotiation process as soon as possible. We note that the OSCE Co-Chairs have repeatedly, and as recently as July 8, called for the inclusion of Nagorno Karabakh.
We urge the United States, in particular, to ensure the fulfillment of President Barack Obama's campaign pledge 'to work for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.' The ANCA also recalls the leadership of the United States Senate and the passage of S.J. Res. 178 in 1989, which expressed U.S. support for 'the fundamental rights and the aspirations of the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.' Moreover, the ANCA strongly supports the fundamental rights of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, and its independence from foreign rule and oppression. To that end, we support the efforts of the governments of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia.
For more than two decades the ANCA has committed its resources to the pursuit of the just cause of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh. We have played an instrumental role in Congress, from the Senate adoption of S.J. Res. 178, to the enactment of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, which prohibits U.S. assistance to Azerbaijan until its dual blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh are lifted. We will continue to strongly support maximum assistance and aid to Nagorno Karabakh to further promote its democratic development and overcome the consequences of Azerbaijan's aggression.
Therefore, we call upon the presidents of the United States, France and Russia, whose nations collectively serve as the OSCE's Minsk Group co-chairs, to denounce Azerbaijan's ongoing war rhetoric and its threats for a resumption of military action. A new war will not only undermine the peace process, but will also lead to the destabilization of the South Caucasus.
The ANCA stands united with all Armenians to protect the freedom and security of the Nagorno Karabakh people in the face of these most serious external threats. The suffering endured and the sacrifices made by Armenians since the Armenian Genocide deserves nothing less.
Facing Poverty In Armenia
Man sits outside a lean-to call home outside of Yerevan. Photo by Tom Vartabedia
YEREVAN—“Menk an-o-tee yenk.”
These simple words sent my heart stomping as I left my apartment in Yerevan one afternoon in May.
In my hand was a plastic bag containing the remnants of moldy bread headed for a dumpster nearby. Outside, a father and mother were camped out in a terrace by a small pavilion they were calling home. Nearby were two small children playing, presumably their own.
It was a gut-wrenching scene — one that left an indelible impression of conditions that were less favorable than others you might encounter in the big city.
“The bread is no good,” I told the man. “It’s rotted.”
Impoverished woman at Etchmiadzin. Photo by Tom Vartabedian
“Don’t matter,” he answered. “We are hungry.”
And with that, I handed over the bag and dipped into my pocket for a handout.
“Take this and buy yourself a good loaf of bread.”
The day before, I visited a village where people were living inside lean-tos and makeshift shelters. Others had set up homes in abandoned buildings with little or no resources.
At Lake Sevan, a derelict was singing for survival and a young boy was being admonished for not selling his allotment of postcards.
At Etchmiadzin, a forlorn woman was crouched against the majestic cathedral. My heart bled for her.
“I’m not well,” she told me, prompting another dip into my pocket.
“I don’t want your money,” she shot back. “Instead, you can light a candle for me. Pray for me.”
The scene reminded me of a previous trip to Armenia three years prior in which we had gone to Shushi and encountered a humble street-wanderer sitting on a curbstone with a paper bag containing his belongings.
He asked me for money. I couldn’t refuse.
“I want to light a candle in that church,” he said, pointing across the way to a wondrous cathedral called Soorp Amenapergich.
I appeared skeptical, until I went inside the sanctuary and there before me was the beggar lighting his candle in prayer. He was telling the truth.
Poverty is rampant in Armenia. You cannot escape it. But one thing rests assured. No matter how bad the crisis, no matter where people live, no matter how scant the food, this is home. This is Armenia and there’s no alternative.
It’s the old life prior to the Industrial Revolution we’ve all seen. They don’t need cell phones and computers, fancy homes and cars — just old values and hard work.
When I see these young kids in schools dressed in uniform and addressing you properly, it’s something you wouldn’t necessarily suspect from a Third World Country. No matter how bleak the environment, the children appeared well maintained.
My first venture there in 2006 was far different than the second this past April. My wife and I brought along $100 in singles with the idea that we would patronize the needy population.
Others in our tour group were equally as generous. Not candy, or toys but cash. In two weeks time, we exhausted our allotment. At the time, I didn’t realize that handing out an American dollar in some remote village would be useless.
Where would they redeem it?
More than the children, it bothered me to see the elderly make an advance. With kids, we were told that giving away money would be teaching them bad habits — that they should be taught to sustain themselves and not live off a free handout.
The elderly tend to be more persistent in their character. Some offer you wares. Others, nothing at all. They don’t let go very easily on the street.
However modest the means, it’s called survival, and it’s something the government must address in order to preserve the tourist trade.
Woman fills buckets of water in the village of Dogh. Photo by Tom Vartabedian
Yerevan is booming. High-rise apartments are sprouting up like mushrooms inside the inner-city belt, catering to the affluent. Yet, 20 miles outside the capital, people are living from hand-to-mouth. There is no economy.
A 50 percent unemployment rate is hardly a comfort zone. What few jobs that exist offer a pittance for the most part. Professionals are earning what somebody on welfare may be getting in this country. People are learning to live more with less.
Despite the extreme poverty, the table is usually sagging with food and hospitality is open to one and all. There are no strangers in Armenia, usually friends waiting to meet. Just pass by a home and an invitation becomes automatic.
What bothered me more than anything this time was an incident that occurred at the Yerevan Opera House. Determined to get a ticket for Khachaturian’s “Spartacus,” I arrived at the box office brimming with ecstasy.
I’ve listened to the ballet repeatedly, much as I’ve done with his “Gayane Suite.” The news was grim.
“Sorry, we’re all sold out,” said the clerk.
I asked about another concert and was told there was one that very evening featuring the Leningrad Symphony with an appearance by a noted Armenian diva. Not “Spartacus” but certainly an alternative. Upon inquiring about admission, I was aghast.
“That would be $30,000 grams, and includes a reception later,” the woman replied.
Some fast figuring told me that was more than $100 a ticket American money, given the 3.75 exchange rate for a dram. I refused the offer, packed away my sentiment, and off I went toward a coffee house.
On the way, an impoverished woman asked for money and I felt in an overly-generous mood. I wound up treating her to a meal inside the Marriott.
Come to find out, she’s lived in Yerevan all her life and this was her first visit inside the hotel. She gave me a hug for my money. All of a sudden, my spirit in humanity had been restored.
Letter Home: A Diaspora discovers Armenia and `Armenianness' Elizabeth Gemdjian
Armenian Assembly of America intern / Special to ArmeniaNow**
I have reached the point in my trip where the time I have been here exceeds the time I have left.
And while I still have more questions than answers about my role and place in Armenia and its affairs, there are moments when everything becomes less complicated and I can detect a glimmer of insight and clarity.
Such a moment occurred on a weekend trip to Tsaghkadzor summer camp, where most campers are either orphans or come from poor families. I was excited to spend the day playing with the children, but did not foresee how much I could learn from them. The moment our group reached the camp and disembarked from the bus, we were greeted by excited children who grabbed us by the hand and immediately pulled us to the play area. This may not seem so extraordinary, but the more I thought about it, the more inspiring was the time I spent at the camp.
During my time at the camp, not once did a child ask me whether I spoke Western Armenian or Eastern Armenian, or if I was Spiurkahay, Hayastanzi, or Barskahay. They looked past my mistakes and made every effort to communicate with me, using hand gestures or examples to clarify what I did not understand. I, in turn, found my shyness and inhibition about speaking Armenian slipping away as the children's openness and excitement took over. We were not there to argue about differences - we were there to play with and learn from each other. Sure, to do so we all had to make compromises and put in a little extra effort, but the resulting environment of cooperation and friendship made it worth it. There was no taking without giving, and in the end, we were all getting something out of the exchange. Was this a glimpse of a potential `Great Equalizer'?
I do not have an answer yet. But I do know that it is amazing what you can learn from children. Problems and distinctions that seemed so complicated dissolve in their clear eyes. Maybe we all need a dose of such clarity to be able to see the big picture instead of focusing on petty issues, resentment, and negative impressions.
For better or worse, we are all Armenian and cling to this essential part of our identities. What we need is a better system of give-and-take so that we can all benefit from this relationship, learning from our diverse backgrounds and experiences in order to build strong connections of support and collaboration. Just as the children looked for ways to get around difficulties to reach a level of understanding that would allow communication and interaction to occur, we must be resourceful and use the unique characteristics of the Armenian community to our advantage. At least we must not stifle the open and cooperative spirit of children willing to look past difference to find similarities.
What will I remember from the time I spent at Tsaghkadzor camp? Certainly not the words I did not understand or rules broken on the playground. I will carry with me the smiles of children happy to see me as nothing more than a new friend, the trust and openness that they approached us with, and their pleas for us to prolong our trip and play a little longer.
I hope that one day, we can be inspired to make relations between diverse groups of Armenians worldwide resemble the kinds of interactions I found amongst the children at Tsaghkadzor.
Elizabeth, 22, is studying anthropology at Columbia University in New York City, her home. She is in Armenia as part of the Armenian Assembly of America internship program. She is first generation Armenian-American. Her immediate family stems from Bulgaria, where her grandparents were moved following the Armenian Genocide.
Cyber Wars: Experts Say Armenia IT Sector Vulnerable To Attack, Georg Khachaturyan
A cyber security expert has predicted a rise in the number of hacker attacks against Armenian web resources pointing an accusatory finger at `network hooligans' recruited by Azerbaijani special services.
At a press conference Thursday, independent analyst Samvel Martirosyan further argued that the impact of `cyber terrorism' on Armenia will become more appreciable with the country's development and growing dependence on information technologies.
`It is one thing in the case with network hooligans, and it is quite a different thing when Azerbaijani special services use hacker groups,' said Martirosyan.
Martirosyan echoed the widespread concerns and speculations among cyber experts in Armenia that Azerbaijani special services may have been behind the recent attacks against several government and media websites in Armenia resulting in their temporary disruptions.
`It is a serious threat because in the course of time Armenia becomes more and more dependant on information technologies,' he said.
The specialist predicted that it wouldn't necessarily be the government websites that would become the first-choice soft targets for hackers.
`The vulnerability of the financial sector in the cyber space will carry a far greater impact not only on the state but also on ordinary citizens,' he said.
Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar on cyber security in Armenia, Armenian Center for National and International Studies Director Richard Giragosian stressed that cyber security is an important element of the country's national security.
`Lately hackers carried out several cyber attacks against Armenian government and media websites. In fact, we can say that Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a state of cyber war,' said Giragosian. `Vulnerability in a cyber space would also make Armenia vulnerable in a battlefield.'
Giragosian noted that while hacker attacks against Armenian media websites are routinely carried out from the territory of Azerbaijan, the most recent one was launched from the territory of Turkey causing a great deal of anxiety among Armenian specialists.
Giragosian called upon the president of Armenia, the secretary of the National Security Council and the minister of defense to pay more attention to problems of cyber security. In particular, he made a case for de-monopolizing the IT sector, improving copyright protection standards and making serious preparations for possible emergency situations as effective measures to solve the problem.
Also, Giragosian suggested developing Armenia's IT potential to ensure the sphere does not depend on external factors.
`Energy and transportation in Armenia as well as nearly the whole telecom sector is owned by Russian companies, which puts Russia in a dominant position. It is necessary to ensure competition. Otherwise the development of IT is impossible,' he said.
Armenia is also heavily dependent on Georgia, its major internet conduit.
Expert Ruben Melkumian: A Great Part Of Turks Have Extremely Anti-Armenian Views
YEREVAN, JULY 22, NOYAN TAPAN. One of the most important events occured in Turkey's home political sphere lately is the disclosure of the Ergenekon terrorist organization. Reporting this at the July 22 press conference Noravank fund's expert Ruben Melkumian emphasized that mainly servicemen are members of the Ergenekon. "Ergenekon's main goal was to create a chaos in Turkey by terrorist actions and to take the power," R. Melkumian said.
In his words, there are many people having extreme anti-Armenian views among the arrested members of the above mentioned terrorist organization. In R. Melkumian's words, Ergenekon members Veri Kuchuk, Kemal Kerimsiz, and Sinan Aygun were actively involved in the process of Hrant Dink's persecution.
According to R. Melkumian, those killing H. Dink respect the above mentioned three persons and accept them as leaders.
Former head of the Turkish Operative Department Ibrahim Shahin is also among the arrested members of Turkey. In his time he took part in making up of a list named "internal cleansing." According to the expert, Turkish nationalists included in that list the names of the Armenians, who according to them, pose a danger for the Turkish state. "It is our omission that we do not pay proper attention to Turkey's extreme anti-Armenian manifestations, while a great part of Turks have just such views," R. Melkumian said.
The Importance Of Being Turkey By Dario D'urso
Limes, rivista italia di geopolitica http://temi.repubblica.it/limes-heartland/the-importance-of-being-turkey/1248 July 22 2009 Italy
The Turkish position is pivotal in the relations of the Eu with Asia and the Middle East. Ankara's foreign policy priorities have shifted. The implications for the geopolitical order of the region.
HomeIn the recent months, a geopolitical actor has embarked on a series of courageous initiatives ranging from the Caucasus to Central Asia, passing through the Middle East, Iran, Iraq and Russia. An actor who is trying to emerge as an important player in various scenarios -also by courageously playing the energy card. Regrettably enough, this actor is not the European Union, but one of its oldest bÃªtes noires: we are talking about Turkey.
The AKP government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has re-oriented Ankara's foreign policy priorities from an absolute loyalty to the Euro-Atlantic mantra to a more dynamic approach aimed at asserting Ankara's role as a regional mediator in the Caucasus and in the Middle East, while at the same time strengthening the Turkish links with the gas-rich countries of Central Asia.
Erdogan - along with his party comrades, the former foreign minister and now president Abdullah Gul and the current foreign minister Ali Babacan - shifted Turkey's geopolitical orientation in an impressive way. During the August war, the Prime minister visited Tbilisi and Moscow proposing the establishment of the Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform, a regional mechanism to 'unfreeze' the various frozen conflict of the area, while at the same time spreading the seeds of a possible resolution of the triangular dispute between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia (including the Nagorno-Karabakh issue). During the Israeli bombing of Gaza, an outraged Erdogan put at risk the special relationship with Jerusalem touring the Arab capitals and becoming the 'new Nasser' in the eyes of the Arab streets. The Davos walkout made many think that Turkey was definitely shifting to the East, interacting with Tehran and Moscow, while at the same time trying to assume the role of energy hub by subtly blackmailing Brussels on the Nabucco issue.
Although many labelled Ankara's 'multivectored' foreign policy as irresponsible, the new US administration confirmed the opinion of many Turks that Erdogan's international attitude was the right one.
In a matter of weeks Ankara became the destination of several senior level visits from Washington: the Special envoy for the Middle East Mitchell and the Secretary of State Clinton paid their visits praising Turkey's leader role in the region, and assessing Ankara's position as a possible facilitator of any future Washington - Tehran talk. Moreover, Clinton announced that Turkey will be the first visit of President Obama in a Muslim country (the visit should take place at the beginning of April); in that occasion, Istanbul might be the venue of the long awaited speech to Islam that Obama promised to deliver within the first 100 days of his mandate.
Of course, contradictions within Turkey's actions are behind the corner - especially concerning the relationships with Russia and Iran. But the message is that Ankara's ultimate goal, membership in the European Union, is losing appeal in both Turkish leadership and people. Sadly enough, the main reason seems to be Brussels's dilemma towards having Turkey onboard. The result is that Turkey is set to become a very important geopolitical actor on several fronts, so getting the deserved consideration of the Obama administration, while the EU stands at the corner.
Brussels risks to lose its leverage on Ankara, whose patience is strained by the lack of political consensus on its membership. And that is not the only thing Brussels might lose: by speeding up the accession talks and setting clearly the goal of membership, the EU might finally increase its role in the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Several member states brought their net of privileged international relationships when becoming EU member states - let's just remember the role Poland and Lithuania played during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. With Turkey as a member state, the EU might be able to strongly perform the role of mediator in those areas where Ankara exerts an increasing influence.
Turkey should of course continue on the path of those internal reforms necessary to fully comply with the Copenhagen criteria - especially those concerning the rule of law, civil and minority rights. But, on the other side, the EU and its member states cannot risk to 'lose' Turkey and its geopolitical potential, neither to an 'excessive' eastern orientation, nor to the increased attention of the US..
Bigotry And Racism In America: What Harvey Left Us Dan Agin, Huffington Post July 20 2009
Grandchildren are prone to think of the lives of their grandparents as ancient history, a collection of sentimental anecdotes of no use in deciding what slogan to put on your tee-shirt. But history is history, it's our history, and before we argue about the way things should be it's wise to understand the way things were and how we got to where we are now. After watching elected representatives of Alabama and South Carolina badger an Hispanic woman who has more gumption, class, and intelligence in one of her little fingers than they have in their whole heads, I started thinking about Harvey Cushing, the great neurosurgeon at Harvard who did so much to poison us with his bigotry and racism, it's a wonder we're still here.
In 1901, the renowned neurophysiologist and future Nobel Prize laureate Charles Sherrington, while he was a professor in Liverpool, was visited by a young American named Harvey Cushing, a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Gracious as always with guests, Sherrington showed 32-year-old Cushing his animals and talked about his experiments. He allowed Cushing three weeks in his laboratory. Neither man knew that Cushing was destined to become the foremost neurosurgeon in the world.
>From Cushing's letters to his parents, it's apparent he was hardly impressed with Sherrington. Was he offended by Sherrington's middle class origins? Cushing was in fact a dedicated snob, more impressed with one of Sherrington's gorillas than with Sherrington. Cushing wrote to his mother in America about the gorilla in Sherrington's laboratory: "Coal black -- I don't believe you could have distinguished his ear from a darkies [sic]. He smelled just like a dirty Negro -- behaved like one."
In later years, Harvey Cushing, a famous surgeon in his post at Harvard University, would be one of the major forces in American medicine restricting the entry of blacks, Jews, and Italians into American medical schools. (See the book by Michael Bliss: Harvey Cushing: A Life in Surgery, Oxford University Press, 2005.)
Cushing was particularly opposed to the hiring of Jews in medical departments. In 1925, he objected to having three Jews on his staff at Brigham Hospital in Boston. He wrote in a letter: "I have no objections to Hebrews, but I do not like too many of them all at once."
Cushing was even opposed to the hiring of black nurses in municipal hospitals, and in 1929 he wrote to Cleveland's director of public health and welfare: "I am sure that colored women would often make excellent trained nurses as they have shown themselves to be excellent nursery maids. But this will mean that colored men who are their friends and visitors will have to appear at the nurses' parties and receptions and this would be absolutely disastrous to the whole social status of your training school."
In 1938, Cushing was apparently more horrified by the method of the Nazi extermination of the Jews than by the extermination itself. He wrote in a letter, "What sticks in my craw is the Nazi treatment of the Jews. It would be almost better, it seems to me, to exterminate them as the Turks attempted to exterminate the Armenians."
Cushing was not a Southerner but a Northerner, born and raised in Cleveland in a long line of physicians that first settled in Cleveland in 1835. Aside from his skills as a surgeon, it seems Cushing was a hardened bigot and racist -- in effect, a moral imbecile. Was he merely a man of his time? He apparently had insufficient intelligence to rise above the ugly prejudices of that time. It's difficult to imagine that a physician with such strong aversions could isolate such aversions from his treatment of patients.
We live in a strange country. We have so much diversity in America, it can hardly be cataloged. And yet of all advanced countries in the world, we excel in tribal hatreds that apparently seep everywhere in the American psyche. We babble about "core values" while we do our best to ignore the festering rot that underlies those values. It's a rot left to us by people like Harvey Cushing -- and a rot that still bubbles in too many people in our South, and in the politicians elected by those people.
I wish a time will come for us when politicians of our South will no longer remind us of people like Harvey Cushing. Some people might think it's much better to forget the past, but I don't agree. We need the past to inform us why we're the way we are. Without that we will never change. And without change our hatreds may eventually destroy us.
The Jews of Turkey and the Armenian Genocide, By Ayse Gunaysu , Armenian Weekly, 20 July 2009
A groundbreaking book by independent scholar and historian Rifat Bali was published recently in Turkey, unearthing facts and first-hand accounts that unmistakably illustrate how the Turkish establishment blackmailed the leaders of the Jewish community—and through them Jewish organizations in the United States—to secure their support of the Turkish position against the Armenians’ campaign for genocide recognition. The title of the book, Devlet’in Ornek Yurttaslari –Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri 1950-2003, can be roughly translated into English as “The Model Citizens of the State–Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1950-2003.” (I will refer to the book as “The Model Citizens” in this article.)
The book is a product of the meticulous work Bali carried out for many years at around 15 archives worldwide, including the American Jewish Archives (Cincinatti, Ohio), B’nai B’rith International Archives (Washington, D.C.), National Archives and Records Administration (Maryland), Israeli National Archives (Jerusalem), Central Zionist Archives (Jerusalem), Turkish State Archives (Ankara), public archives in Tel Aviv, private archives (like that of Manajans Thomspson A.S., an advertising agency based in Istanbul), and his personal archives. He also researched hundreds of books, dissertations, and articles in Turkish and other languages, and interviewed numerous individuals.
“The Model Citizens” is in fact the complementary volume of Bir Turklestirme Seruveni–Cumhuriyet Yıllarında Türkiye Yahudileri, 1923-1945 (A Story of Turkification–Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1923-1945), a reference book Bali published in 1999 that reveals the true picture of the relations of domination between the ruling elite and non-Muslims in general (and Jews, in particular) after the founding of the Turkish Republic.
Rifat Bali’s books are the richest sources of information for anyone looking to study the history of the non-Muslims in Turkey during the republican period. These books differ from others by their sheer wealth of archival references, details from daily life, and insights into the political, social, and cultural background. They are the result of arduous and untiring work carried out in both the public and private archives, in addition to a very detailed scanning of the daily press—which, apparent in both volumes of the history of the Jews of Turkey, significantly sheds light on how the “establishment” in Turkey, an organic system covering not only the state apparatus but also the representatives of the “civil society” from business organizations to the press, operated as a whole to treat the non-Muslims in Turkey as hostages and not as equal citizens. Although the history of the minorities in Turkey has become a topic of interest among the dissenting academia and a limited circle of intellectuals (especially after the turn of the millennium simultaneously with Turkey’s prospective membership to the European Union), as far as I can see, none of the works in this field is supported by such a comprehensive press scan, which includes cartoons in addition to news items and articles.
Turkish Jews lobbying against the Armenian Genocide
In his 670-page book, Rifat Bali gives a detailed account of the Turkish government’s efforts to mobilize its Jewish subjects to win the support of the Jewish lobby in the United States against the Armenian campaigners. At the same time, Bali shows, how the Turkish authorities played the Israeli government against U.S. policymakers for the same purpose, by making use of its strategic position in the Middle East, at times promising rewards (i.e., raising the level of diplomatic relations with Israel), at times overtly or covertly making threats (i.e., cutting off Israel’s vital military logistical resources by hindering the use of U.S. bases in Turkey).
The book also offers rich material about how Turkish diplomats and semi-official spokesmen of Turkish policies, while carrying out their lobbying activities, threatened both Israel and the U.S. by indicating that if the Jewish lobby failed to prevent Armenian initiatives abroad—Turkey might not be able to guarantee the security of Turkish Jews. Such Armenian initiatives included the screening of an Armenian Genocide documentary by an Israeli TV channel in 1978 and 1990; Armenian participation in an international conference in Israel in 1982; Armenian genocide bills up for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives, and so on. It has been a routine practice for Turkish authorities to invariably deny such threats. However, Bali’s industrious work in the archives reveals first-hand accounts that confirm these allegations.
But this is not all. Rifat Bali throughout his book unfolds the entire socio-political setting of the process of making the Jewish community leaders active supporters of Turkish governments’ struggle against the “Armenian claims” in the international arena.
Now let us look at this background. From what Bali brings to our attention, we can see that there has always been a frantic, extremely vulgar anti-Semitism freely expressed by Islamic fundamentalists and racists, and openly tolerated by the government and judiciary. Such anti-Semitism—escalating at times with the rising tension between Israel and the Muslim countries of the Middle East—often went as far as warmly praising Hitler for doing the right thing and exterminating the Jews; declaring Jews the enemies of the entire human race; listing characteristics attributed to Jews as the worst that can be found in human beings; in one instance, putting up advertisements on walls in Jewish-populated neighborhoods in Istanbul; and in another case, sending letters to prominent members of the Jewish community threatening that if they didn’t “get the hell out of Turkey” within one month, no one would be responsible for what happened to them.
Whenever Jewish community leaders have approached the authorities for a determined stance against such open anti-Semitism, the answer has been the same: These are marginal voices that have no significant effect on the general public; and there is freedom of expression in Turkey.
The eternal indebtedness of Jews to Turks
An important fact about such violent anti-Semitism is that it goes hand in hand with the widespread official and public conception of the Jews as guests who are indebted to their hosts; it is a debt that cannot be paid no matter how hard the debtors tried. This view isn’t only shared by extremist elements in Turkey, but by the entire society—from the elites to the average person. It is a conviction purposefully designed and maintained by the establishment. And it enables the perpetual, unending, and unrestricted generation and regeneration of the relations of domination in Turkey between the establishment and non-Muslims in general, and Jews in particular, manifested in the treatment of the latter as hostages.
There are regular manifestations of this relationship. The most unbearable is the shameless, extremely offensive repetition by both top-ranking government officials and the mainstream media of how Turkey generously offered shelter to the Jews in 1492, when they were expelled from Spain, and how the Turkish people have always been so “kind” to treat the Jews with “tolerance” throughout history. This theme is repeated on every occasion but is voiced more loudly and more authoritatively whenever pressure on Turkey regarding the Armenian Genocide increases abroad. Another theme has been the obligation of the Jews to show material evidence of their gratitude to Turkey on account of the latter’s welcoming of German Jewish scientists right after the Nazis’ ascension to power. (Readers of Bali’s first volume instantly will remember how Turkey declined thousands of asylum requests by German Jews; how 600 Czeckoslavakian Jews on board the vessel “Parita” were turned down; and how 768 passengers on the Romanian vessel “Struma,” after being kept waiting off Istanbul for weeks in poverty and hunger, were sent to death in the Black Sea by Turkish authorities, with only one survivor in the winter of 1942.)
An illustrative example is the story of the fury that broke out in Turkey in 1987 when the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in Washington, D.C. decided to include the Armenian Genocide—as the first genocide of the 20th century— in the Memorial Museum that was going to be built.
The mainstream media, and not only the ultra-nationalist extremists, started a campaign that would last for years. Melih Asik from Milliyet (which has always positioned itself as a liberal and democratic newspaper), in his article on Dec. 20, 1987, accused “Jews” for being “ungrateful.” After observing the regular ritual of reminding the Jews of the Turks’ generosity in 1492 and during World War II, he wrote: “We treated them with utmost kindness for many years and now these same Jews are preparing to present us to the world in the Holocaust museum as genociders. Before everything else this behavior should be exhibited in the museum of ‘historical displays of ingratitude and disgrace.’”
Melih Asik, as can be seen, is so confident that his readers would not question the use of the words “these same Jews,” nor ridicule the identification of those Jews who sought shelter in the Ottoman Empire in 1492 with those sitting in the Holocaust Memorial Museum Council in 1987. He is that confident because he knows that such identification and essentialization is a regular, daily pattern internalized by the readers of the Turkish press.
Another very liberal and democrat anchorman of Turkey, Mehmet Ali Birand, known as a taboo breaker in recent years, joined—and even surpassed—Asik in his Dec. 29, 1987 article that appeared in Milliyet. In it, he publicly called on the Jews of Turkey to fulfill their “duty of gratitude” and do their best to prevent the Armenians from including the Armenian Genocide in the museum. He added: “Isn’t it our right to expect [such a display of gratitude] from every Turkish citizen?” There’s hardly any need to mention that just before this call to duty, Birand paid tribute to the routine of mentioning the Turks’ generosity towards the Jews back in 1492.
Not an apologist at all
Yet, it is important to note that Bali is by no means interested in justifying the Jewish lobby’s vigorous efforts to please the Turkish authorities. While he puts forth a wealth of evidence of the huge pressure the Jewish community in Turkey is subjected to, that evidence does not prevent him from giving a critical account of how the Jewish leadership in Turkey has displayed an eagerness to advocate Turkish views and to support official Turkish policies. There are numerous accounts in the book of how the Turkish chief rabbinate confirmed the Jewish community’s happiness and well-being in Turkey, opposing the promotion of the Armenian Genocide thesis, and how the Quincentennial Foundation, established by Turkish Jewish leaders in 1992 to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the arrival of the Jews to Ottoman lands, actively championed Turkish official theses.
It is clear from the book that Bali does not like to make comments on the meaning of his findings; rather, he puts the facts together like a scientist, avoiding to make personal comments, draw conclusions, or speculate about the reasons or outcomes of certain facts and events. What he exposes is clear enough to make the picture complete in the eyes of the reader. It’s up to the reader to acknowledge, for example, the fact that those who criticized Turkish Jews for their submissiveness had no right to expect bravery—when none of them raised their voice against the rabid anti-Semitism freely displayed by fundamentalists, or against the innuendos from government officials, or against the quite obvious threats from opinion leaders who kept asking the Jews to prove their loyalty to the Turkish state or relinquish their right to be treated as equal citizens.
A last word about Rifat Bali’s book “Model Citizens.” It should definitely be translated into English for those who are interested in the Jewish factor in Turkey’s struggle against Armenian initiatives to recognize the genocide. It would be impossible for anyone either in Turkey or elsewhere to make a realistic, objective, and complete evaluation of Turkey’s success in securing the support of Jewish leaders both in Turkey and abroad without reading this book. Not only that, but the “Model Citizens” is a guide to understanding how deeply rooted anti-Semitism still is in Turkey that claims to be a European country knocking on the door of the EU. It also shows how powerful it can be when mobilizing a country’s human resources against its Jewish citizens—to make the leaders of the Jewish community act as they are told. Turning the pages of Bali’s book, the reader is made to see that anti-Semitism has a historical context so horrifying and so vivid in the collective memory that it can be very instrumental in manipulating victims, and very successful in carving out “model citizens” as the voluntary executioners of government policies.
China Should Retaliate Against Turkey By Recognizing The Armenian Genocide, By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier
The Prime Minister of Turkey Rejeb Erdogan seems to have fallen into the bad habit of periodically accusing various countries of committing genocide. By doing so, the Turkish leader is inadvertently creating new opportunities for the international media to raise the issue of the Armenian Genocide. In January of this year, the Turkish Prime Minister accused Israel of committing genocide during its Gaza offensive. Several Israeli leaders and members of the media reacted by pointing out that Turkish officials should be the last ones to talk of genocide given their country's culpability in the Armenian Genocide. Some members of the Israeli government were so offended that they threatened to retaliate by acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Erdogan returned to his favorite topic, this time accusing China of committing genocide. He was furious that several dozen Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs were killed in the Xinjiang province, during clashes with the Han Chinese who suffered many more casualties. According to a Reuters report, Erdogan stated on July 10: "The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There's no point in interpreting this otherwise." Erdogan's unwise words elicited immediate reaction from the international media which pointed out his foolishness in accusing others of genocide, given his country's poor record on minority rights and its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide.
The Economist magazine reported that "in the past few days internet forums in China have been clamoring their support for Kurdish separatists," a subject that was practically unheard of in China before Erdogan's accusation of genocide! The magazine also stated that Turkey is now "finding itself in the line of fire."
The Associated Press, in covering Erdogan's characterization of the clashes in China as genocide, devoted an entire paragraph to the Armenian Genocide: "Turkey itself is extremely sensitive to the use of the term 'genocide.' Armenia says 1.5 million Armenians were slain by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I in what Armenians and several other nations recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century=80¦."
Reuters also covered Erdogan's accusation of genocide against China, indicating that "the genocide label is particularly sensitive in Turkey, which strongly refutes Armenian claims that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War One constituted genocide."
Sylvia Hui, columnist of Hong Kong's Asia Sentinel, ridiculed Erdogan for his flippant use of the term genocide. She wrote: "What's interesting about this accusation is not only the premature and almost casual way it has been pronounced (especially given how sensitive Turkey is to the word with regard to Armenian accusations that Ottoman Turks committed the first genocide of the 20th century), but also how it contradicts other things Erdogan reportedly said on the same occasion=80¦. In any case, the Turkish leader comes across as thoroughly hypocritical or too eager to please Uighurs at home to have thought it through before making such a strong remark."
Liberal Turkish newspaper "Radikal" joined the fray by quoting from the editorial of the Boston-based "Armenian Weekly" on Erdogan's ludicrous condemnation of China: "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones." The editorial took Erdogan to task for having "the audacity to compare the killing of a few dozen Uighurs to genocide while it continues to spend millions to deny the killing of a million and a half Armenians." "Radikal" concluded by quoting the Weekly's sarcastic conclusion: "After all, even by the official Turkish account, there were more than 150 people who were killed in 1915."
The Chinese state press, not surprisingly, was even more critical of Erdogan. "The People's Daily" wrote on July 14: "Many Chinese citizens feel insulted by Turkish actions and suggest that China should change its attitude towards the Kurdistan Workers Party and support their appeal for independence, so as to make Turkey pay a heavy political price=80¦. Turkey was once accused of committed genocide in Armenia by the West and its crackdown on Kurdistan Workers' Party has also stirred up numerous controversies." "The People's Daily" also published several letters critical of Turkey, one of which stated: "The Kurdish massacres in Turkey were a kind of genocide and Nazism. Linking China to genocide is like a thief shouting 'stop thief.'"
Another Chinese newspaper, "The China Daily," in an editorial titled, "Don't Twist Facts," urged Erdogan to "take back his remarks=80¦which constitute interference in China's internal affairs."
The most effective measure China can take in response to Erdogan's hysterical accusations is to have the Chinese Parliament adopt a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey's Image And The Armenian Question July 20, 2009, Osman Bengür
President Obama’s recent visit to Turkey underscores the growing importance that the United States places on Turkish cooperation as it seeks to address a profound set of problems in the region such as withdrawal from Iraq without enabling a new round of sectarian violence, support of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the containment of Iran’s growing nuclear ambitions. For these and other reasons, the relationship between Turkey and the U.S. has never been more important.
Turkey’s strategic value to the U.S. is undeniable. Turkey’s geographic position, its young population and, until the recent global slowdown, its dynamic economy make it well positioned to become an increasingly influential player in political, economic and security affairs in Europe and the Middle East political affairs. Yet as the U.S. focuses increasing attention on its relations with Turkey, the long shadow cast by the “Armenian question” could foil both countries’ desire to work more closely together and hinder Turkey’s larger ambitions.
The efforts of the Armenian diaspora and support from key politicians in the U.S. and Europe will ensure that the issue will not go away anytime soon. The lack of closure has put Turkey on the defensive and continues to damage Turkey’s image in the world. More importantly, it casts a poor light on the positive progress being made in today’s Turkey and puts Turkey’s real friends in a difficult position. And, for those with a narrow agenda, it negatively impacts Turkey’s importance as a partner and ally of the U.S. and its ability to address other shared issues of concern including the fight against terrorism, transportation of energy from the Caspian, the preservation of Iraq’s territorial integrity, and the containment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
To date, Turkey has been mostly successful in its efforts to fight genocide resolutions. So, why should Turkey care about finding a satisfactory solution to the “Armenian question”?
President Obama’s recent visit to Turkey and his subsequent non-mention of the “G” word when he addressed the Armenian community in his “Remembrance Day” message could be interpreted as justifying Turkey’s long standing strategy to fight genocide resolutions with threats that such resolutions will damage relations with the U.S. But Turks should not be so confident. If President Obama pulled his punches in his Ankara address in order to show respect for and his desire to cooperate with Turkey, he may not in the future. Yet another resolution has been introduced in the U.S. Congress to recognize the “Armenian Genocide” but because of the enormity of other issues confronting Congress at this time and the desire not to add to the Obama administration’s foreign policy headaches, it doesn’t appear likely that the resolution will get much traction even from sympathetic members of Congress. The dual challenges of a global economic recession and foreign policy challenges in the Middle East buttresses the argument that the timing for such a resolution could not be worse. Nevertheless, both Armenian and Turkish lobbyists will wage yet another battle to press their respective positions.
By some accounts, approximately 70 percent of the Turkish Embassy’s time in Washington is spent trying to persuade leading Americans to support the Turkish position on the Armenian question. So far those lobbying efforts have been successful, but sooner or later, a time may come when the word “genocide” will be used officially regardless of how the Turks feel.
Many friends of Turkey are frustrated with Turkey’s intransigence on the Armenian issue, which they view as self-defeating for Turkey’s aspirations. And Turks need to confront the reality that their success in defeating genocide resolutions is not necessarily because of the historical validity of their argument. The uncomfortable truth is that while “friends of Turkey” may have sympathy for Turkey and its arguments that the events of 1915 were not genocide and that Muslims suffered too, they believe that Turkey should acknowledge that it was a terrible policy and express more empathy for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Armenians died as a result of the Ottoman government policy to deport Armenians.
One solution to the question of whether the events should be characterized as genocide may come from Prime Minister Erdoğan’s proposal to establish a commission to examine the historical record. Such a commission’s findings may prove conclusive if evidence is discovered in Turkish and Armenian archives to support one position or the other. As new archival information is examined, Turkey may well find justification for its position that the massacres were a tragic consequence of war and not a deliberate policy.
But it is also possible that no amount of historical research will satisfy either the Turkish or Armenian communities.
Regardless of whether the massacres can be characterized as genocide, it is ironic that the modern Republic of Turkey, founded by Atatürk, would want to defend the actions of a dysfunctional and disastrous Ottoman government that Atatürk eventually opposed.
In his excellent history of the Middle East during the period surrounding World War I, “A Peace to End All Peace,” author David Fromkin writes how Atatürk, in open rebellion to the Sultan who was still titular head of what remained of Ottoman Turkey, sought to separate himself from the policies of the disgraced Ottoman leaders in establishing the new Turkish Republic. Moreover, Atatürk was a bitter enemy of Enver, a leader of the ruling Committee of Union and Progress, or CUP, and one of the architects of policy to expel the Armenian population from eastern Turkey. Fromkin documents how Enver sought to undermine Atatürk’s efforts to form a new nation out of the ruins of the war.
Turkey can justifiably condemn the policies and actions of previous governments while still asserting pride in its history. In announcing the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and in renouncing the use of torture techniques, President Obama has acknowledged to the world that the U.S. has made mistakes. He did so in order to promote broader U.S. policy objectives in the Middle East while strongly promoting the best of America: the values of freedom and democracy that have made America a great nation.
For Turkey to realize its ambition as a regional power, and if indeed it values democratic ideals, it is time for it to take steps, as President Obama said, to confront its own history. As President Obama said in his speech at Cairo University where he spoke about a new beginning in relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world: “It is easier to blame others than to look inward. … We should choose the right path, not just the easy path.” As a maturing democracy, the time is right for Turkey to take the “right path” to break the impasse on the Armenian question by making several “grand gestures.” This is how:
To announce that it is suspending all its paid lobbying activities with respect to congressional resolutions and instead, that it will dedicate that money to support the work of a historical commission to examine what happened. To ensure its independence from the Turkish government, the commission would be composed of leading international historians, including Armenian historians. Turkey would open its archives and Armenians should be asked to do the same.
Turkey should also form a commission to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the 1915 deportations and massacres. This could include historical symposia and a commemoration of a memorial to Armenians and Muslims who died.
A genocide resolution may still occupy some in Congress, but Turkey’s actions could defuse its impact. The Turkish government should proceed with the commission regardless of the status of a congressional genocide resolution or Armenian acceptance of the commission. And, if such a resolution should pass, Turkey should allow the commission’s work to continue and forbear taking any action that might harm its relations with the U.S.
It is important that Turkey not only allows but also promotes open and honest debate on the events of 1915 and the attitudes that allowed such a thing to happen. This open debate and self-searching would have a far-reaching impact on Turkey.
First, it would confirm that Turkey has reached the point in its evolution as a democratic state to openly examine its past.
It would earn Turkey enormous goodwill that would advance Turkey’s goals of EU membership and of playing a more prominent role in regional affairs.
It would not force groups that are otherwise supportive of Turkey to take sides against Turkey on this issue.
It would serve to strengthen U.S.-Turkish ties at this critical moment when the need for cooperation between the two countries is paramount.
And finally, it would be an important step toward reconciliation and healing for both Turks and Armenians.
(Osman Bengür, a Turkish-American former candidate for the U.S. Congress, is a businessman/investment banker based in Washington, D.C., and a columnist for www.citybizlist.com. This piece was first published by in Turkish Policy Quarterly, Volume 8, No: 1, Spring 2009.)
Nato: The New Strategic Concept July 20, 2009, Faruk Loğoğlu
Is NATO still relevant? Where is it going? The answers will depend largely on the alliance’s new strategic concept, which is now under study. I got a good glimpse of the subject at a recent public meeting in Brussels organized by the outgoing Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
In NATO’s own words, “The Strategic Concept is the authoritative statement of the Alliance’s objectives and provides the highest level of guidance on the political and military means to be used in achieving them.” The strategic concept is thus NATO’s blueprint, mapping out its perspectives, approaches, tasks and capabilities in the light of identified security risks and threats. The current one dates from 1999. The new one is to be ready for approval by the NATO summit in 2010.
What were some of the issues debated in Brussels that for the first time brought officials, private sector and civil society representatives together? The first was if and why we need a new strategic concept. In Brussels, there was consensus on the fact that the 1999 concept was no longer adequate to meet the risks and threats of our times. It belonged to the last century. The security environment had changed, with threats assuming a transnational and global character. NATO had enlarged. Its political and military capabilities had evolved. The conclusion was that NATO should have a mission statement pertinent to the challenges currently faced.
There was also discussion on how one should design the new document. One view was that one should update the 1999 document. Some argued in favor of a completely new exercise. Predictably, the new document will reflect the lessons of the past 10 years. Nonetheless, NATO must now define its identity and place in a new, rapidly changing world. In doing so, it should be bold in its vision and not feel restricted by existing parameters. In the light of the discussions, my own view is that the new strategic concept should be a brief document, clear in purpose and simple in language. If security is a global matter, then the new strategic concept should reach out to a worldwide audience.
At the Brussels meeting, the views on the substance of the new concept varied significantly. I inferred from the exchange of views that the concept has to have a dynamic character, capable of interacting with a fluid security environment and of generating sub-strategies for different contingencies. It should not be only about what NATO does, but also what it stands for, particularly emphasizing its norm-setting credentials. Today’s NATO is not just about military operations; it performs important political tasks as well.
Perhaps the most significant part of the debate was on the NATO-EU relationship. Most participants underlined the necessity for NATO to work together and to interface with the United Nations, other international organizations and regional groupings with a security dimension. What was disappointing was the failure to stress the importance of Euro-Atlantic solidarity for global security and to accentuate the key role in this regard of an enhanced partnership between NATO and the EU. The EU references were muted and one-sided. The EU, it seemed, expected much from NATO, but offered little in return. If one views NATO as a source of mainly hard power and the EU of soft power and think of the relationship between the two as a continuum of shared assets, then one understands the negative implications of the political and strategic void created by the reticence of the EU.
There was also discussion about NATO relative to such subjects as Russia, energy, terrorism, piracy, humanitarian activities, climate change and food security.
The preparation of the new strategic concept will now be the task of a group of wise men. Turkey is one ally that will be most affected by the future shape of NATO because it is a country facing a wide range of domestic and external threats to its security. This is why having a Turkish representative in the group is of critical value. Fortunately, Turkey has proposed a highly qualified candidate to this end, a skilled diplomat with long experience in NATO and international affairs. A Turkish presence in the group would increase its effectiveness because Ankara’s unique voice is just as important as that of Washington or Brussels.
Diasporan Money Corrupts Governments, Study Finds, By Avedis Kevorkian
Avedis Kevorkian represents a dissenting voice that many may not share, but it's worth listening to for the benefit of planniing a healthier way to conduct financial affairs between the Armenian Diaspora and its motherland.
- Keghart.com -
Often, I am asked (even by myself), "If you are so smart, why ain't you rich?"
To which I answer (even to myself), "Probably, because I am not so smart."
Then, recently, I realized that there is hope for me yet.
For years (since 1991, actually), I have been saying that the Armenian Diaspora should not support Armenia in any way--especially financially.
My reasoning was that the crooks and thieves and thugs who run the country (in the first two presidential administrations, and why should anyone expect the third presidential administration will be any different?) will take the money for themselves or will steal the money one way or other. Admittedly, my view was based on a feeling, on observations, on what I read about Yerevan, and on what I saw on two visits. But, nothing scientific and not on any research--though my failed attempts at helping Armenia in the 1990s went a long way to forming my opinion.
And, I am often -- No, usually -- severely criticized. Some people even question whether I am Armenian, because I don't succumb to the lure of the siren song of the crooks and thieves and thugs in Yerevan that I (or you) in the Diaspora owe a duty to the "homeland"/"Motherland." To that argument I retort that "This is my 'homeland' and I don't owe Armenia a damn thing." But, let us not go down that path, right now.
Suffice it to say, I have maintained that the only way for the crooks and thieves and thugs to see the light, to get religion, to decide to walk the straight and narrow path of honesty, and to serve the people of the country is to deprive them of Diasporan money.
However, it appears that I am pretty smart -- so I expect the money to roll in, soon.
A recent study conducted under the auspices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that "remittances [from a diaspora] may actually encourage government corruption and ineffectiveness."
The study looked at 111 countries between 1990 and 2000, and researchers found that high levels of remittances often lead to greater corruption and irresponsible economic policies. (Isn't it wonderful how delicate can be the language of these reports?)
What the study revealed was that the officials in the remittance-rich countries are often -- to give them the benefit of the doubt -- let off the hook for failing to provide basic services, thus freeing them to divert resources for their own purposes. "Surprise, surprise!"
According to one of the report's co-authors, "The government says 'I know you are getting money; what's my incentive to fix [any given] situation?'" This, the co-author says, is because there is less incentive for citizens to demand reforms and will turn elsewhere to get the services they need.
In effect, the study suggested, if the crooks and thieves and thugs who run Armenia had planned to spend, let us say, one-thousand dollars to help the still-poor victims of the 1988 earthquake who are still living in shipping containers, and the crooks and thieves and thugs learn that the poor had received one-thousand dollars from Armenian suckers in the Diaspora, they (the crooks and thieves and thugs) will say, "since you have one-thousand dollars, you spend the money on yourselves, and we will divert our intended one-thousand dollars to another cause." And, what other cause can be more worthy for the crooks and thieves and thugs than to buy another valuable trinket for their villas, or to be put toward the purchase of a new BMW or Mercedes (since the ashtrays of their present limos are getting full)?
In most functioning democracies, people leave government and enter the private sector in order to make real money. In Armenia, people enter the government to make real money. If the world thinks that the trouble during the recent farce called "an election" was solely about who governs Armenia, it is only partially correct. The real dispute was about who gets his nose in the money-trough. Unfortunately, much of the money there comes from the mis-guided Diaspora.
However, should the voiceless poor ever find their voices and decide to complain, we know what will happen to them. In Armenia, complaining about the corruption can stunt one's growth.
Why the authors of the long study bothered to spend so much time and effort to examine so many countries, is beyond me. A couple of months in Yerevan would have been all that was necessary for them to learn what they needed to know about governmental corruption in countries with a generous (but foolish) diaspora.
Having, now, been reassured that I am, indeed, smart, I have alerted my bank to expect my meager account to grow by the millions.
Avedis Kevorkian represents a dissenting voice that many may not share, but it's worth listening to for the benefit of planniing a healthier way to conduct financial affairs between the Armenian Diaspora and its motherland.
Work has previously appeared: Community Newspaper, Web Log
Andrew Kevorkian has been in one phase or other of “communications” since he started working on his father’ newspaper at the age of 12. He has a degree in Journalism from Temple University (and is one of the founders of the Greater Philadelphia Professional Chapter of SPJ--and is a member of its Board). Over the years he has been a journalist and editor on community and trade publications (as well as books), and is now a public-relations consultant and free-lance writer. He has taught and lectured on both journalism and public relations, on the university level, in both Philadelphia and London (where he lived and worked for 28 years). His specialty is matters-Armenian, as well as world events that may or may not touch on Armenian subjects. These can be read on www.keghart.com and the link to his collected essays, there, can be found by searching “Avedis Kevorkian”--the name he uses on the Armenian-oriented site.
The Image Of Turkey In The Greek Media, , July 22, 2009, HDN, CHRIS Loutradis
In Greek media, Turkey has been portrayed in full accordance with the needs and intentions of the governing political bureaucracy that needs there to be the impression of a hostile climate between the two nations to achieve their own targets. Decades-old, emotional and populist policies of Andreas Papandreou stereotypes have deeply influenced a generation of journalists
The image of Turkey in the Greek media has always been a ''sacred'' taboo. Nobody wants to discuss or even to examine what how Turkey is perceived in the eyes of the media. For this reason, trying to answer the question: If the image of the Turkish political elite, and also society, is constructed in a way that affects the perception of the Greek public and its relations between Greece and Turkey, is the challenge worth it?
One very interesting fact is the way in which newspapers alter the physiology of Greek foreign policy, while contributing to the formulation of a negative image of Turkey and the government in the public opinion that hinders the betterment of relations between the two societies.
Although there is some glimmer of truth in the academic notion that media functions as the ''watchdog of Democracy'' in society. This of course does not mean that the media functions as a celestial mission. What we are trying to understand in this observation is just how the media has abused this role and act as advocators of populism.
As a starting point, we know that media plays a very important role in constructing a perception of the “other.” In this case, the “other,” Turkey, has been constructed in full accordance with the needs and intentions of the governing political bureaucracy that needs there to be the impression of a hostile climate between the two nations to achieve their own targets. Decades-old stereotypes, and in particular, the emotional and populist policies of Andreas Papandreou, have deeply influenced a generation of journalists. These views are expressed in numerous articles and have an important impact on society.
The main problem with this approach is that deepens a problematic perception of the Greek public of a heroic past that has nothing to do the present era, nor the current problems. This article will examine how the media has contributed to the denigration of the ''other'' and to the ignorance of the majority of the Greek readership in its stance towards the culture and history of the Turkish nation. This ignorance allows a nationalistic discourse to dominate the public sphere.
Turkey from Greek newspapers point of view
Greek newspapers with the ability to construct a very influential consensus are ''Nea,'' the country’s leading broadsheet with social-democratic political ideological leanings; the ''Eleutherotipia,'' second in terms of readership with a more leftist political approach; ''Kathimerini,'' with a conservative political orientation; and ''Espresso,'' the leading gossip-tabloid.
We will begin our examination of ''Nea.'' In general, the newspaper’s articles try to differentiate between the government and society in Turkey. However, when Greece has to deal with an Aegean dispute the newspaper alters its editorial attitude and adopts a more nationalistic bias. In addition to quoting from limited sources, the majority of research is carried out under the umbrella of the Greek Foreign Ministry.
Furthermore, in most instances, Turkey's foreign policy is linked with the imperialistic policy of the Ottoman Empire and the aggressiveness of the military elite.
In addition, the only instance that allows for a more positive exposition of the Turkish public is when a journalist wants to condemn the manner in which the Turkish State deals its internal affairs in terms of the protection of human rights or the rights of minorities.
Next is the leftist leaning, “Eleutherotipia.” However, its liberal editorial line does not apply to its representation of Turkish society and its political system that fit the stereotypes formulated in the Greek media. Compared to “Nea,” the main difference is that it focuses more on the work important NGO's or personalities do in the promotion of Greek-Turkey relations.
Underlying this representation is a hostile approach towards Turkey that manifests as a generous gesture from a victimized Greek society. For example, “Eleutherotipia” viewed the 1997 discussions between Yilmaz and Clinton as proof that Turkey serves solely the interests of America, in the article, “The problems in Cyprus and the Aegean.” In the Greek Anti-American discourse, NATO and the U.S. tend to be treated as one and the same, it concluded, "Were sacrificed on the altar of greater American geopolitical interests which are served by Turkey's geographical position." (Eleftherotypia Dec. 20, 1997)
It is interesting to observe the political and ideological stance of ''Kathimerini'', a long running conservative newspaper. The main characteristic of the ''Kathimerini'' presentation of Turkey focuses antithesis of European values in contrast to Turkish values. The discourse of the newspaper is, however, politically correct and it avoids making use of aggressive remarks. Here is a typical example of the discourse and the ideological line that ''Kathimerini'' uses in describing the situation in Turkey: "Turkey cannot change its organizational 'philosophy' and the way the state is run; only after serious and radical social, political and economic reforms would there be a completely 'European Turkey'" (Kathimerini Dec.15, 1997).
It is obvious that ''Kathimerini'' attempts to present a more political correct and ideologically-founded aura for the dispute between Greece and Turkey and the abhorrence that the Greek public has towards Turkish society. ''Kathimerini'' wants to follow the national line without losing its intellectual superiority.
Tabloid newspaper ''Espresso'' concludes our study. ''Espresso'' has a more populist approach to journalism. The majority of ''Espresso'' topics are based on the TV-culture or weird stories of Greek daily life. Obviously this approach has an important impact in its stance on Turkey. ''Espresso'' policy is to stay out of the major and important political events in Greece. However, when the events demand coverage, ''Espresso'' functions as the gatekeeper of the petit bourgeois. This reliance is outward when the newspaper deals with themes that are affiliated with Turkey. In the majority of the times, ''Espresso'' discourse towards Turkey is populist and tends to describe the Turk as a copyist of the western civilization: '' provocation of the Turks with the copy-cat ship of Ancient Kyveli'' (Espresso, June 30, 2009). Furthermore, Turkey is described as the ''eternal enemy'' of Greece and the Turkish society as conservative , fundamentalist and fearful of progress and of the Western culture.
The Greek newspapers have contributed to the perpetuation of the negative relations between the Governments of the two countries and the non-understanding between the two societies. The Greek newspapers emphasize the Turk as the ''Other'' together with the negative connotations that this clause entails together with the negative stereotypes that they use for the governance of Turkey by a Military elite.
All the newspapers have contributed to the reinforcement of ethnocentric and nationalistic discourses. The only period that the Greek media functioned in a more positive way was during the earthquake that hit the two nations during 1999 and the policy that was followed by Cem and Papandreou. The climate of compassion that emerged from the two societies constrained the newspapers to follow. However, this media reaction was transitory.
It is also noteworthy, that the newspapers that we examined although they promote the idea of a ''Europenized'' Turkey, they use this argument for degrading Turkey's performance with regard to the EU process. The conflict between Greece and Turkey, for the Greek media, is a conflict between the principles of the western civilization and Europe Vs the Military order and the Islamist government of Erdogan. What should be noted though is that there is a very slow but steady transformation of Turkey's public
icon towards a more ''civilized'' public attribution. It has to be noted that this transformation is solely a demand from the Greek society that is tired from the continuity of a dispute that has influenced the basic notions of Greece's fundamental basis of State-building and has lead to many problems.
I hope that this analysis will generate a frank discussion between the journalists of the two sides of the Aegean Sea.
(Christos Loutradis works as a political journalist in Greece. Currently, he collaborates with a major political newspaper as well as in important political web sites and blogs. He can be reached at email@example.com)