- Main problems in creating think tanks in Turkey (1) (2), Hasan Kanbolat
- How Do We Affect The Image Of Armenians In Our Communities, Kay Mouradian
(Any Pointers To Be Applied To Turks Abroad?)
- Rhetoric And Reality: Turkish Politics Inside And Out, Nigar Goksel
- We Respect Your Otherness As Long As You Are Not The Other, Burak Bekdil
- Sometimes it’s better late than early!, Burak Bekdil
- Ugly Truth About Kurdish Question -- Armenian Question!?, Orhan Kemal Cengiz
- Istanbul Diplomacy*, Kerim Balci
- Standing Up To Barack And Company: Armenia, 3m Realpolitik And Integrity Thing, Raffi K. * Hovannisian * Armenia's First FA Minister
- Conscious Existence? What Does it Mean To Be Armenian?, Seda Grigoryan
- Why Don't Jews Condemn Anti-Semitism In Turkey?, Harut Sassounian
- 'Next 100 Years' May Not Bode Well For Armenia, Andy Turpin
- History, Used And Abused, Chris Patten*
- Wake Up, Armenians!, IDHR
- Solution To Nagorno-Karabakh: Always Around Corner, Amanda Akçakoca
- Peace Process: Where We Are Now: Summary Of Progress On Road To Settlement, Kenan Guluzade IWPR
- With Or Without Turkey, That Is The Question, Defne Gürsoy
- Pierre Lellouche: “Turkey’s Lawyer” Or “Sarkozy’s Trojan Horse”?, Mehmet Ozcan, Head Of EU Studies, USAK
- Why We Should Read `History Of The Armenians', Eddie Arnavoudian
- Please Tell Us The Truth, Odette Bazil
- Jews of Turkey and Armenian Genocide, Jean Eckian
- Deadlock Or Delay: Negotiation Process On Karabakh Issue Is Taking A Break For Indefinite Time, Analysis: Aris Ghazinyan
Main problems in creating think tanks in Turkey (1) (2), Hasan Kanbolat @Todayszaman.Com
In Yaşar Kemal's novel “İnce Memed” (Memed, My Hawk), one of the characters, Topal Ali (Lame Ali), is known for his skills in tracking people. After Hatçe, the girl Memed loves, becomes engaged to another man, Memed abducts the girl and brings her to the Toros Mountains.
Topal Ali is charged with tracking down the two lovers. “If he wants, although there is no rain, he tracks dry soil, rocks and even birds… As long as a part of its wing touches the soil even a little bit. Especially humans! He can smell humans even if they had passed by the road three days ago.” The villagers beg Topal Ali not to find clues leading to the lovers and to pity them. Ali feels pressure from hundreds of villagers and decides to pretend not to find traces of the lovers. However, one of the villagers, Kel Ali (Bald Ali), explains Topal Ali's weakness when it comes to tracking people: “Topal follows the clues of even his father. Even when he knows that they will hang his father when he finds him, he cannot help but track his father. He is a good, nice man, and he feels sorry for the lovers, yet he cannot help tracking them. Nothing can prevent him when it comes to tracking. Even when he knows that he will be killed and he will eventually see death, give him a clue and he will follow it.” Starting to track İnce Memed and his darling, Topal Ali does not want to find clues. He knows that once he begins to track people, he cannot help but find them. However, he still cannot help it. He starts following the clues. The clues lead him to where the two lovers hide. While Topal Ali is glad to find the clues, he feels deep sorrow for catching the lovers.
Is a strategist a “Topal Ali”? Would his experiences, skills and tracking abilities encourage him to follow the clues to the end even if the issue would harm him/her eventually? Kemal presents tracker Topal Ali to the readers in his novel of “Memed, My Hawk.” A strategist is a person who leaves his feelings and political views to one side and evaluates things in an impartial way. Tracker Topal Ali is also a strategist in a sense. Following clues like a strategist, Ali collects new data, evaluates them and analyzes them using his experience and knowledge. A strategist is successful if s/he is rational. At the same time, strategy is a natural skill like math, music and sports, and it is also a lifestyle shaped by skill. If this natural skill is developed, genius can be achieved. Other than discovering something new, it is also important to be able to see incidents from different perspectives.
In Turkey, industry is transitioning from labor-intensive sectors to technology-intensive sectors. In the new world, where raw information grows, mobility increases and time becomes more and more important, the need to analyze gradually increases. For this reason, think tanks, which are institutions where data are processed and analyzed, gain importance. Foreign policy actors as well as the process of creating new foreign policies have transformed. Think tanks can take their place in international platforms where the state cannot enter. Forming a foreign policy for Turkey in cooperation with think tanks and informing think tanks about foreign policy are in Turkey's interests.
The war in South Ossetia (Aug. 8-12, 2008) proved the importance of think tanks for Turkey's foreign policy. The war indicated that Turkish think tanks, which have almost a decade of history, will begin to have an important place in Turkey's foreign policy. Turkish think tanks informed the public, made analyses and published reports during the war. The same sensitivity, the same speed of making decisions and the same kind of analyses would not have occurred in state offices, in political parties and in Parliament. Just as the US entering Iraq showed the importance of news stations that presented viewers with a 24-hour live broadcast of the situation, the war in South Ossetia proved the importance of think tanks in Turkey.
In Turkey, working at think tanks or policy institutes is not a profession where you can invest in your career. This profession, which can have the title of strategist, analyst, political analyst, foreign policy expert, foreign policy researcher, think tank expert or think tanker, is not regarded a full-time profession. It is a profession that has not evolved into a career, which is not defined and which does not have a unique name. Time spent at think tanks is regarded as time wasted. For full-time strategists, time spent at think tanks is destined to fade away like writing on the surface of a lake. It is known as a full-time job for retired high-ranking bureaucrats and postgraduate students and as a part-time job for academics.
Those who complete their doctoral theses while working at Turkish think tanks tend to move on to work as lecturers at universities. Since working as an academic gives one a good career-track job, is easier to do and provides shelter against fears of unemployment, young strategists opt to shift toward the academic world after completing their doctorate. On the other hand, movement from the academic world to think tanks is generally toward executive positions. Still, these movements generally occur for a temporary period of time -- for several years at most. Movements from the civilian or military bureaucracy are generally seen in the form of resignations from previous jobs. High-ranking retired civilian or military bureaucrats tend to consider think tanks simply a good alternative to staying at home and as a potential means of entry into active politics. Furthermore, there are analysts in pajamas who stay at home and write amateurish articles as strategists in their retirement.
The biggest challenge for think tanks in Turkey is attracting well-educated experts (aged between 25 and 55) for an extended period of employment. For think tanks to have a bright future, they should be able to offer long-term contracts and long-term employment guarantees to strategists who can turn think tanks into career centers and ensure mobility. In the 1950s, Sait Faik Abasıyanık applied to the police department to obtain a passport. He wrote "author" in the profession box on the application form, but the police officer in charge told him that there was no profession defined as "author." So he had to change it to "unemployed." Until the 1950s, being an author was not considered a profession, and 50 years later, now, being a strategist, which is a profession of intellectuals, is not regarded as a profession. Being a strategist must be made into a profession that is formally recognized by the general public and the public and private sectors.
In Western countries, think tanks and strategists are part of the system. Think tanks are the workshops where policies are tailored. Their clients are the decision makers. For this reason, there is a high rate of mobility between think tanks and the public sector, the media, universities, the private sector and politics in the West, particularly in the US. However, in Turkey, think tanks are not part of the system although they are close to decision makers. The rate of mobility between think tanks and the public and private sectors is very low. The only sizable mobility exists with the academic world and the media.
In the West, particularly in the US, the public and private sectors have the tradition of assigning projects to think tanks. In Turkey, on the contrary, the public and private sectors do not have such an institutionalized tradition. Moreover, in Turkey, plagiarism is comparatively widespread and considered normal, which makes the survival of think tanks very hard.
Turkish think tanks are further handicapped by the challenges of securing reliable financing, recruiting a permanent staff, ensuring harmony among the staff, using time in an efficient manner and obtaining up-to-date information. In Turkey, strategists have mobility with universities while their mobility with bureaucracy and politics is limited. The existing system in the public and private sectors and in universities is miles away from properly supporting think tanks and encouraging young people to specialize in foreign policy areas. Turkish think tanks are not able to utilize the public sector's sources of information in the public domain. In Turkey, the public sector has a monopoly over crude information in the foreign policy and security fields. There is virtually no public organization from which one can obtain information concerning foreign policy matters. In regions of interest, Turkish think tank officers open offices. The realities of these regions, maybe even the languages spoken ,are not fully known.
In Turkey, the rate of turnover of employment is very high at nongovernmental organizations and think tanks. This leads to a weaker corporate identity.
How Do We Affect The Image Of Armenians In Our Communities
(Any Pointers To Be Applied To Turks Abroad?)
By Kay Mouradian, EdD Humor and suffering are often two sides of the same coin and successful comedians understand that nugget of truth and utilize humor to lighten suffering. Shock jock Bill Handel of KFI and his cohorts in their unattractive attempt to be humorous about reducing the U.S. population to save the government money proposed to clean out Glendale and its Armenian population with a racist comment, "What the Turks started, Bill will finish."
Would they have had the audacity or courage to say, "Let's clean out Beverly Hills of all its Jews and finish what Hitler started!" We all know that would never happen, because Jews all over the world would react furiously, call Handel anti-semetic and become successful in having him fired immediately.
Then the question becomes why would Bill Handel never think about such an antipathetic statement about the Jews? More than likely it's because he's been educated to understand the magnitude of suffering from the Jewish Holocaust. And why does he have such a lack of awareness about the Armenian Genocide and the depth of cruelty and suffering imposed upon the Ottoman Armenians? How many books about the Armenian Genocide are in print in comparison to the more than 50,000 books written about the Jewish Holocaust? What does this say about our community, our writers, and the images we would like to portray?
And how do you personally affect the image of Armenians in our community? How many of you reacted with potency to the outrageous rant of Bill Handel? How many of you reacted to KCET on April 24 when our most popular public television station did not show any Armenian genocide documentaries?
What I see is apathy from our community and I feel that education is the key to promoting understanding. If we expect non-Armenians to care about us they need to understand where we came from, the effects of the Armenian genocide on the Diaspora, how difficult it was for our people to leave their homeland, in some cases two homelands, and give up their livelihoods to start all over again in a foreign country. I applaud those who survived, I applaud those who came to America with nothing, worked hard and educated their children, and I applaud those who tell our story to those who do not know and through those stories project the dignity of truth. It is our responsibility to history.
Kay Mouradian, EdD is author of A GIFT IN THE SUNLIGHT: An Armenian Story
Any Pointers For Turks ?
Rhetoric And Reality: Turkish Politics Inside And Out, By Nigar Goksel *
— Turkey sets high expectations with rhetoric about its indispensable role for the solution of regional conflicts, for bridging civilizations, and for spreading values of tolerance and democracy among its neighbors.
However, Turkey itself is polarized, ridden with cultural clashes, tolerance deficits, and widespread conviction that domestic balances of power are inadequate. And it is not only the domestic environment but also perceived dissonance in Turkish foreign policy that raises questions about Turkey’s ability to maneuver the complex dynamics of its neighborhood.
Turkey’s added value
The debate about Turkey’s foreign policy in Washington centers around whether Turkey is anchored to the West as it strengthens its regional ties or whether Turkey is intent on creating a second bloc, a “Muslim pole,” for a new and just world order. In other words, does Turkey aim to leverage its indispensability toward being a full and equal partner of the Western bloc, or is Turkey positioning itself as a stand-alone power that has to be reckoned with for policy accomplishments in this region?
In terms of anchoring Turkey in the West (and vice versa), a promising step took place on July 13 with transit countries signing an agreement on the strategic Nabucco pipeline, set to bring natural gas from the Caspian to Turkey and onwards to Europe. At the time, this author was in Baku facing questions from Azerbaijani oppositionists on why the Turkish government can confront Israel over the Palestinians and China over the Uigurs, but remain silent as youth activists face violence and are imprisoned in Azerbaijan.
Energy deals between Turkey and Azerbaijan, alongside rhetoric of brotherhood between the nations, does not meet their expectations. However, there are no easy answers to the challenges of Turkey’s neighborhood, and leaving questions hanging is a tactic used all too frequently by Ankara. Asked by some in Washington, “If Turkish foreign policy is all about realpolitik, why does the Prime Minister seem to be trying to win the Arab street when it comes to Middle East policies, even when this means alienating key Arab regimes?” Lala Shovket Hajiyeva, the head of a small opposition party in Azerbaijan, echoes a common sentiment among the vocal opposition when she says, “I wish it was Turkey and not the Europeans bringing us democracy.” A young activist noted that the frustrations in his country, coupled with schools and networks allegedly connected to the Fethullah Gülen movement, gradually lay the foundation for a religiously-motivated political alternative in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, the country’s ruling establishment performs a challenging balancing act between not only the West and Russia, but also the interest-driven power centers within, as well as expectations within society, that have grown by witnessing domestic changes in neighboring Georgia that have improved many aspects of Georgians’ lives. Commenting on Turkey’s influence in Azerbaijan, a more cynical (and older) Azerbaijani simply said, “just make sure to move Turkey forward to the EU because if you head anywhere else, it will affect our direction ever more.”
Turkey as a center of attraction
Today, Turkey is ever more polarized. Clashing camps speak of the “greater good” of their cause. A member of the government may claim that a de facto affirmative action-like approach is legitimate, in order to empower the conservative classes that have been excluded for decades. On the other hand, many staunch critics of the government perceive state capture and power abuse by the ruling party and fear this will become irreversible due to a weak balance of powers.
The shortcuts to identifying who belongs to each camp get shorter by the day, including the newspaper one reads, the TV channel a company advertisement is broadcasted, and even the restaurant that slips a person’s name to the front of the waiting list. Express concern of patronage in an AKP municipality and someone is coined a “Kemalist.” Mention the harm of banning headscarves in universities and one is labeled an opportunist who must be trying to appease the government, if not an outright Islamist. There is a divided judiciary, parallel lawyers associations, bureaucrats pitted against each other, and battling nongovernmental organizations. Turks might get shuffled into a camp to which they do not feel affinity, based on shortcuts for classifying people based on symbols.
Foreigners are not immune from this absurd reductionism either. After four Azerbaijani members of Parliament visited Turkey and criticized the government for their Armenia policies in April, the Turkish Prime Minister reportedly accused them of being connected to Turkey’s deep state. There have indeed been attempts to wrestle power from this government using undemocratic means, with many of the involved currently on trial or being investigated. However, exploiting this by labeling critics of the government as coup-mongers is unjustified. Tolerance to criticism on behalf of the government in Turkey would be most inspiring to those from countries where aligning with power holders is necessary for social and economic mobility.
International expectations of courage and vision from both Turkey and the current U.S. administration are enormous. While the U.S. administration is mirroring its policy of “reaching out” in the world with its domestic efforts to do so, the Turkish government must also go out of its way to overcome traditional lines of confrontation with its legitimate critics in Turkey itself. This will be what determines its success both domestically and globally. A good place to start in building confidence inside would be to move forward with reforms foreseen in the European integration agenda that also curb the power of the government.
The United States, the European Union, and Turkey
Within Washington the debate about Turkey is weak and divided. While some in the U.S. capital noted the rapid extension of congratulations from Turkey to Ahmadinejad after the elections in Iran as an extension of Turkey’s realist and pragmatic foreign policy, others saw this as a sign that power would eventually be consolidated by Islamists in Turkey while Iran joined the free world.
In a sense, the Turkish government has a stronger hand in its relations with Washington than ever before. The Obama administration is attempting to reach out to the Muslim world and a conservative Muslim party with strong popular backing is governing Turkey. In negotiating with the United States, AKP can conveniently point to the still very high levels of anti-Americanism in Turkish society as a bargaining chip. The leading opposition parties are all more U.S.-skeptic in rhetoric than AKP. Moreover, with many more pressing challenges on its agenda, Washington would hardly opt for more strain in its Turkey ties.
During the Cold War it was important for the Western alliance not to “lose” Turkey, and it is today too. However, today when the risks of losing Turkey are debated, it is the value of Turkey’s soft power that is in the forefront, not its geostrategic and military function. Faced with a new set of regional challenges and very different power balances in Turkey, it is the ruling AKP with which Washington needs collaboration most. It is often said that Washington turned a blind eye to abuses committed by the Turkish military when the military relationship was central to the two countries’ joint interests. It is important today that expectations from the Turkish government regarding rule of law and pluralism are not lowered.
Ranging from impartiality of the judiciary to institutional arrangements to combat corruption, the EU membership requirements address the many issues that are critical for Turkey to implement in order to break out of the nearly chronic perception of existential crisis. It is, therefore, puzzling that the Turkish opposition parties are not calling for the EU accession agenda to be implemented more aggressively in Turkey. Those in both Turkey and the United States who are concerned about Turkey’s direction should put more emphasis on the roadmap that the EU process provides.
The messages President Barack Obama gave during his recent visit to Turkey reflected a welcome sensitivity to Turkey’s internal balances by emphasizing principles over partisanship. Though it is in the interest of the United States that Turkish democracy is consolidated, Washington has a limited set of tools to steer Turkey down this path. The EU process is the single most influential factor in correcting the many distortions within Turkey’s political world. In this sense, disheartening messages from European capitals about Turkey’s eventual membership strike a blow not only to Democrats in Turkey but also to the strategic interests of Washington.
»» The German Marshall Fund Of The United States On Turkey
* Nigar Goksel is a senior analyst at the European Stability Initiative and editor-in-chief of Turkish Policy Quarterly. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GMF or those of the European Stability Initiative.
31 July 2009, Zaman, * Nigar Goksel The German Marshall Fund Of The United States
We Respect Your Otherness As Long As You Are Not The Other, July 31, 2009, Burak Bekdil
It is very kosher, according to endless statements reflecting the pragmatic selves of our leaders. Not very much so, according to endless behavior reflecting their Islamist selves. Seven years of Islamic rule must have taught any journalist, except for the ‘missionaries,’ not to be appalled if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused a certain ethnicity of “knowing how to kill,” or another of “near genocide,” all depending on Mr. Erdoğan’s heart-felt sentiments about ‘the other’ in a religious connotation.
It’s like a journalistic reflex, if you happen to be in this trade in Turkey, not to raise an eyebrow to a news headline that might tell you “motorbike crashes into car, four dead.” You must learn not to be curious at such bizarreness and automatically assume that half a dozen people must have been riding the ill-fated motorbike when the accident happened. Actually, this is precisely what happened a few days ago: Four dead and four wounded, when a motorbike with five people riding together crashed into a car.
I was therefore perplexed when our colleagues were perplexed because a fiercely pro-Erdoğan columnist recently complained that “the Alevites unfairly occupied too many bureaucratic seats in proportion to their ‘size.’” What kind of a sect is this, inquired the columnist in support of the Sunni elite he probably hoped to impress. But that, too, should be all too normal in a land where talk of multiculturalism is a great thing, but its practice is a rare commodity.
What should we understand of multiculturalism? Political views have been diverse. According to Voltaire, “If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism, if there were two, they would cut each other's throats, but there are thirty, and they live in peace and happiness.”
But according to Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic, “Multiculturalism is a tragic mistake of the current Western civilization for which we all pay dearly.”
In the land of the Crescent and Star, President Abdullah Gül told an audience recently that “our differences are our richness” in what was apparently a direct reference to Turkey’s Kurds. No doubt, this would be a beautiful sentence in any language, but anyone who knows a little history cannot help to ask if our differences are a point of divergence generating cleavages that might even lead to civil wars, or are they really our wealth which might help to build a stronger national unity? Of course, we all can take what we want from this sentimentally optimistic sentence, but ideally what we ‘say’ should be at least not too different from what we ‘do.’
Sadly, we are always very good at rhetoric, and not so good in action. Was it not Mr. Erdoğan who, in another beautiful sentence, said that it was wrong to judge people by how they look? But, yes, that was a reference to secularist discrimination against women who wear the Islamic turban. Turban or no turban, Mr. Erdoğan was right – in words. What about a little bit of consistency, for God’s sake?
A recent story tells us not to rush to premature optimism of anyone’s fancy lines. As the prime minister was being driven in a motorcade, according to various accounts, he noticed a group of rockers queuing up for a concert. Here comes the controversial part. According to the official account, these rockers protested Mr. Erdoğan with insults (described as ‘rockers’ salute’); but according to the protestors, that was just a peaceful protest. But we certainly know that whatever method the protestors may have chosen, it was not violent.
The rest of the story hardly complies with Mr. Erdoğan’s rhetoric and preaching that “we should not judge people by their looks.” An angry Mr. Erdoğan took the platform shortly after the incident and complained about “youths being degenerated/demoralized.”
So was that not ‘judging people by their looks?’ What about the sacred right to protest? How does Mr. Erdoğan know that a young man dressed differently from a ‘good Muslim’ and protests the prime minister is a degenerated young man?
The protestors were immediately detained and ‘thoroughly’ questioned by the police. The interrogation included McCarthyist questions like “Which party did you vote in last elections?” and “Did you show up at the republican (anti-government) protests (in 2007)?”
Perhaps Mr. Erdoğan, the ‘good Muslim,’ should learn more about Islam. He can always start re-reading some of the essential Koranic commandments. For instance: “O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve and you are not serving what I serve, nor am I serving what you have served, neither are you serving what I serve. To you your religion, and to me my religion!” (The Holy Koran, 109:1-6).
Sometimes It’s Better Late Than Early!, July 29, 2009, Burak Bekdil
“Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.” Thus tells an Aesop tale…
The well-known story of the Tower of Babylon (Genesis 11) talks about different people speaking the same language and coming together to build a great city with a tower to match it, but once their languages were confused as a result of a ‘holy punishment’ and they could no longer work together and the work for the great tower remained unfinished. Eventually, the ‘laborers of Babylon’ spread around the world with their separate tongues, and still to this day it is said that the problems of communication are crucial to working together and solving problems.
It has been over six years since the United States occupied Iraq, and the last couple of years have been intensely spent discussing the best ways to execute a “graceful exit”. Any sensible men, be it a planner or a foot soldier, would tell you while invasions might start with detailed military planning, they cannot end without proper political and administrative planning. The proposed U.S. exit will have several different implications across the region, and whether or not the unity of the State of Iraq will be preserved in the long-run, is for soothsayers to tell. However, what is currently taking place in northern Iraq, practically “Kurdistan,” is no doubt of great interest to the Turks.
For the U.S., the leaving and long-distance partner in the new game of exit, it is crucial that the remaining parties evolve into partners and get along peacefully to minimize the problems for Big Brother. How this relationship of hatred-to-love would be established is yet another question, with big bucks certain to play as the main lubricant. In addition, the Americans have good relations with both the Kurds and the Turks. They have provided some degree of logistical support for the Turkish war on terrorism and supported Turkish initiatives in most international forums.
The Americans have also become the hero of the Kurds, despite past heartbreaks and present suspicions for new heartbreaks, by overthrowing Saddam Hussein and generating a rather peaceful section from the remains of Iraq in its north. It is, therefore, possible that Washington can act as the go-between between the ‘bad Kurds i.e., the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, and the Turkish government.
Washington might even be able to encourage the PKK’s military wing to surrender its arms to the U.S. military, rather than surrendering directly to the Turkish state/military. The Turkish government and the military might as well benefit from the upgraded ‘American involvement.’ In addition, all that might help remove many of the roadblocks faced by Turkish democratization efforts, which, then, would presumably help ease Turkey’s difficult march into the European Union. Going back to the trophy in the shape of banknotes, all parties involved in this foes-becoming-friends game will certainly benefit from lucrative deals, including energy, and possibly many others we cannot even imagine today.
A little more than five years ago, this column mentioned American hopes to craft a reliable alliance between the ‘only two secular Muslim peoples of the region, the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds,’ despite the tragic Turkish-Kurdish conflict in the last quarter of a century. With increasingly diverging interests, neo-cons and their often eerie ideas at the wheel in Washington, a touch of warmongering sentiment and what the Greeks would call “communication bouzouki,” the idea has failed, leaving behind many more dead men.
Now that prominent Kurds “walk like all other immortals” at international conferences as opposed to their “God-given –or simply American-inspired—mood of superiority,” the Turks, finally thinking increasingly pragmatic than vindictive, and the Americans realizing that it would not be in their best interests if more Turks and Kurds died in this already too bloody conflict, the chances for a historic –but probably temporary—Turkish-Kurdish handshake are higher than at any time since 1984.
The Kurds should come to grips with the new realities, as evidence in the election results for their regional Parliament, and recall their Turkish friends telling them not too long ago that “one day the Americans would leave and we as centuries old neighbors will have to live peacefully across a border that will either keep on bleeding or prosper.” And the Turks realize that realpolitik in the year 2009 is quite different from a decade ago when their American friends practically handed them over their most-wanted man, now in solitary confinement.
As almost always, all roads lead to Washington in this complex Middle Eastern chessboard. It will be a fine little test if the Turks and Kurds on both sides of their border had good reason to hooray when Barack Obama took over from the most-disliked U.S. president. As for the Turks and Kurds on the same side of the border, things will be a little bit more difficult, but not too difficult.
The choice is there. The Turks, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds and Americans will either speak the same language and build the Tower of Babylon in the 21st century or disperse into different tongues with the work for a great project unfinished.
The Ugly Truth About The Kurdish Question -- The Armenian Question!? By Orhan Kemal Cengiz
- If we could discuss the Armenian question openly, if we could confront the Armenian tragedy, there would not have been a Kurdish question.
We are far from understanding the Armenian question, yet can we be close to solving the Kurdish question?
To answer this, we need to look at how the Kurdish question emerged in the first place. The same state “problem solving” mentality was in work for both the Armenian and Kurdish questions. Population exchanges, forceful evacuations and atrocities directed at civilians. Nothing has changed over all these years. The same “problem solving” mentality created the very problem it was trying to solve. The Kurdish question was very simple to solve in the beginning. There was a marginal armed group (the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party) which used to carry out sporadic attacks against security forces. Most Kurds did not like them. But many Kurds also wanted to be recognized as Kurds; be able to preserve and live their culture, speak their language and so on. At that time, the Turkish official stance -- dictated by the military, basically -- was very rigid on the Kurdish question. According to this “understanding,” there were no Kurds, there was no separate Kurdish language. Kurds were “mountain Turks.” They were called “Kurds” because of the sound they make when they walk on snow: “Kart,” or “Kurt.” For those of you who do not know the difference between Kurdish and Turkish, they are about as similar as Chinese and English. So basically, the official understanding of the Kurdish question was a joke. If we did not know the sufferings of Kurds as a result of this “unwise” approach, we could even say that the Turkish state has a dry sense of humor because of the creation of this “mountain Turk” concept. But it was not a joke, and this understanding of the question caused a serious human tragedy in Anatolia once again.
The treatment of Kurdish prisoners in the Diyarbakır prison after the 1980 military coup was a turning point. The torture and ill treatment of Kurdish inmates in this prison was beyond human imagination. The Diyarbakır prison was like a Nazi concentration camp. The inmates suffered so much that upon release almost all of them went to the mountains to join the ranks of the PKK. People were imprisoned even for just expressing peaceful ideas about the Kurdish problem. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the phenomenon of the Diyarbakır prison created the PKK we know today. With these “angry” militants in its ranks, the PKK increased the number of its attacks dramatically. The Turkish security apparatus started to seek new ways to handle this “new phenomenon” and (not surprisingly, of course) came up with the idea of using more violence. They created the concept of “fighting terrorists with their own methods.” Kurdish villages were set on fire; 3,000 villages were destroyed. The monster created by the Turkish deep state, JİTEM (an illegal gendarmerie unit), claimed more than 17,000 lives. People were abducted in broad daylight, and their dead bodies later thrown onto streets, under bridges and into wells. No person ever turned up alive after being taken by JITEM. The terror they created, like the terror in the Diyarbakır prison, sent more and more militants to the PKK.
Stuck between a rock and hard place
This is one side of the coin. On the other side, there is the PKK. It was first established as a Marxist-Leninist organization and turned into an extremely nationalist, violent structure. Many times, poor Kurdish villagers were persecuted simultaneously by security forces and the PKK, both of which accused villagers of aiding and abetting “the other” one. The PKK killed many Kurds. The PKK tortured and killed its own militants. The PKK used terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, exploding bombs in the most crowded streets, and so on. The PKK was ruled by an iron fist. To be honest, for many years I thought the worst thing that could ever happen to the Kurds would be to live under the authority of the PKK, which has the potential of becoming one of the worst dictatorships the world has ever seen.
Today we are at a point where Turkish state officers mention the “Kurdish question” openly, and both the PKK and the Turkish state are about to explain their “road maps” for a solution to the problem. In the past, there were occasions when we all felt so close to the solution. Each time, the “Turkish deep state” and the “deep PKK” found a way to sabotage the whole process. Today, because of the Ergenekon case, we are in a more advantageous situation. At least one “party” has fewer options to sabotage the “process.” But what is this process? Does it include an open confrontation with our past? Does it include both Turks and Kurds questioning taboos? Will it lead us to confront older and deeper wounds in our past, like the Armenian tragedy, which was created by Turks and Kurds together?
My observation is that no one in Turkey is ready for this kind of confrontation. Instead, everyone waits for “the other” to accept their responsibility without sacrificing anything. I strongly believe that if we do not confront this ugly past, if we do not open our hearts to the human suffering, no “solution” will be long lasting. If Kurds do not open their hearts to PKK members who were tortured and killed by the PKK or the Turkish victims of terror created by this organization, likewise if Turks fail to understand the pain and suffering of Kurdish villagers who were wrested from their very roots, we cannot solve anything. This is the first level. At the second level, we need a deeper understanding. Both Turks and Kurds need to confront the Armenian tragedy, which they created together. If Kurds start to understand this tragedy, they will get rid of the illusion that they are the only people who ever suffered in Anatolia. If they understand the Armenian tragedy, and how Kurds were used by the deep state then, they would be much more humble, much less nationalist. We need to question many things. Every answer will lead to other questions. This is a process full of pain. Is anyone ready for that much deep questioning? I don't think so. Unless we engage this kind of questioning, we will inevitably end up with shallow “solutions” which will not be long lasting. If we had understood the Armenian tragedy, we would not have become mired in the Kurdish question. Unless we question our past, some people will try to restore the “deep state” once again, some people will try to re-establish the PKK sometime in the future. Everything depends on severing the moral bases of these terrible structures, and this depends on an open confrontation with everything in the past. Can we start?
Istanbul Diplomacy*, Kerim Balci @todayszaman.com
A city is a type of human settlement that has a soul of its own. Urban settlements, on the other hand, do not. This observation is in fact a subjective one and may be challenged. In my personal universe, İstanbul and Paris are two large cities, and London and New York are urban settlements.
One may love London because of the Thames or because of Soho or because of London Bridge, shopping centers and Hyde Park. There are countless reasons to love London. As former London Mayor Ken Livingstone formulated it: London is the world in one city. But İstanbul is loved because it is İstanbul. Just as a husband feels helpless in the face of his wife asking, “Honey, why do you love me?” the lovers of İstanbul have no explanation for why they love İstanbul other than the fact that “being loved” is intrinsic to “being İstanbul.” Love and identification is a part of the definition of this city.
For some time, I have been observing the love and affection people feel toward İstanbul in almost all the cities of countries founded on the former lands of the Ottoman state. The love of İstanbul is like the grin of the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland.” All of the Ottoman past may have disappeared in those post-Ottoman cities, but the love of İstanbul is still there.
My most recent observation of this pure love was from Arbil, the capital city of the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq. A Turkmen citizen of Iraq told me how badly he wanted his son to see İstanbul “with the eyes of this world” -- a Turkish saying referring to a desire to see a place or a person before one dies. Just as Muslims all over the world pray to see Mecca and Medina in their lives and as Jews pray for the reconstruction of Jerusalem in their own days, many people around the world feel that urge to see İstanbul.
Only recently, I heard an Uighur from Turkestan refer to İstanbul as the center of their world perceptions. “We look toward İstanbul, and we take our inspirations from İstanbul,” he told a national TV station here in Turkey. The love of İstanbul was packed by the Greeks and Jews that were made to flee this country in the first half of the 20th century. The love of İstanbul was inherited by the second and third generations of Armenians that were exiled from Anatolia in the beginning of that century. I met people that hated Turks for ideological reasons while keeping that love for the city in their hearts.
One may claim that this love is irrational. Which love, then, is rational?
Be it irrational or not, the love for İstanbul is a reality, and it has its external expressions.
This love gives İstanbul a unique power for city diplomacy. City diplomacy can prevail when state-to-state diplomacy fails. Diplomacy between Turkey and Armenia has a lot of prejudices, historical stumbling blocks and misrepresentations to overcome. An alternative can be İstanbul-Yerevan diplomacy. “Turkey speaking to Kurdistan” is a prospect that can annoy many nationalists. İstanbul may speak to Arbil without any ideological, political or nationalistic reservations.
The same is true for identification. Many people who are legally Turkish citizens feel more affection toward a particular city or region in Turkey than they feel toward the country as a whole. I have seen ideologically mobilized Kurds in Europe. They were all Turkish citizens, but they preferred to call themselves Kurds. When it came to speaking about İstanbul, I observed them speaking about the city as one of their cities.
İstanbul can be a social bond between the different segments of Turkish society. It can be a kind of “social contract” embodied in the image of a city.
*A special thanks to Mesut Çevikalp, who opened my eyes to the prospects of the love of Istanbul turning it into a social-diplomatic capital.
28 July 2009
Standing Up To Barack And Company: Armenia, 3m Realpolitik And The Integrity Thing, Raffi K. * Hovannisian , ArmeniaNow
* Armenia's First Minister Of Foreign Affairs
It is often easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them. In another time but at the same place, presidential contender Adlai Stevenson was setting the scene generations later for President Obama and his administration.
As unfair as it is to be held up as everyone's lighthouse of liberty and justice, Barack Obama was elected president on his self-projection as that very beacon. He and his world-power colleagues, for both principle and posterity, must not allow themselves the comfort, however transient, to play feel-good god in mockery of historical tragedy and in defiance of contemporary imperatives to right the wrongs of the past.
Earlier this month, G8 leaders Obama, Sarkozy, and Medvedev issued a joint declaration softly pre-imposing a superpower solution on Armenia and the freedom-loving people of Artsakh, otherwise known as Mountainous Karabagh. Years before recognition of Kosovo and Abkhazia became current fashion and counter-fashion, Karabagh was the first autonomous territory of the old USSR to challenge Stalin's divide-and-conquer legacy and to raise the standard of decolonization and liberation from its Soviet Azerbaijani yoke by means of a constitutional referendum on independence in December 1991.
Azerbaijan responded to this legitimate quest for self-determination with a failed war of aggression, resulting as it did in tens of thousands of casualties, more than a million refugees, countless lost birthrights, collaterally damaged cultural heritage, and a new strategic balance on both sides of the bitter divide, and so sued for ceasefire in May 1994.
Barack and company now wish for the Armenians, having suffered both an unrequited genocide and the greatest ever of national dispossessions at the hands of Ottoman Turkey nearly a century ago, to cede even more of their ancestral patrimony and their newly-achieved sovereignty by calling on them to withdraw unilaterally from «occupied» areas belonging to the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh in exchange for some foggy-bottomed diplomatic formulation about a future plebiscite.
Armenia says no, thank you.
If President Barack Obama and his distinguished new-age colleagues want to demonstrate that the conscience of humanity has survived the second millennium, that equity can still obtain in international affairs, and that an even and comprehensive application of the law, not self-serving parochial politics, rules this century, then they might wake up to a new mirror and proclaim the following.
- Should Mountainous Karabagh or any of its constituent parts be considered by anybody as occupied, then clearly the historical Armenian heartlands of Shahumian, Getashen, Gardmank, and Nakhichevan must immediately be acknowledged to be under Azerbaijani occupation. Worse yet, official Baku is demolishing, with malice aforethought, the last vestiges of Armenian Christian heritage in its jurisdiction, the most recent documented crime of dastardly proportions having taken place in December 2005 upon the no-longer-existent medieval chapels, cross-stones, and divine offerings at Jugha, Nakhichevan. Had the perpetrator been the Taliban - or the victim a sacred Semitic cemetery - America, Europe, Russia, and all of world civilization would have been rightfully outraged and demanded remedial action forthwith.
- If the rule of law is not a hoax or a decoy or an instrument of whim and duress, then the Mighty Three must together - and simultaneously - recognize Kosovo, Abkhazia, and Mountainous Karabagh as independent states fitting the definitional requirements of the Montevideo Convention. All must be recognized by all, or else none by none. The sui generis argument is distinction without difference.
- The government of republican Turkey - the successor regime bearing the rights and obligations of its genocidal predecessor - can no longer play dog-and-tail tag with the United States, the European Union, and the Russian Federation. Ankara's normally astute diplomacy has forgone the 18-year opportunity since Armenia's declaration of sovereignty to establish official relations with it without the positing by either side of any political preconditions. It has, most unfortunately, done so from the very beginning first by presenting preconditions of its own (including those turning on Karabagh and «occupied» territories), then holding Armenia in an unlawful blockade tantamount to an act of war, and finally speaking the language of blackmail and double-down intrigue with Washington, Brussels, and Moscow.
- Of course, the trinity of power all have talked the walk pursuant to their own petty interests of the day. President Obama's double-speak on genocide and its shameful denial, at Ankara in April followed by Buchenwald in June, is a classic in point. But if Obama and friends are serious about the new global order, then they might find the fortitude to remind Turkey, as key partner and good neighbor, that it stands in occupation of the ancient Armenian homeland and owes a debt of atonement and redemption to the Armenian nation. And no crowning Bolshevik-Kemalist compact from 1921, a full generation before Molotov-Ribbentrop, can serve to rationalize the great genocide, nor purport to regulate the relations and frontiers between the modern Republics of Turkey and Armenia. That is their sovereign duty mutually to resolve, but if anyone in Washington or elsewhere requires guidance on crimes against humanity, ways and means of restitution, and definitions of occupation, «the memory hole» of expedient forgetting can be duly overcome in the US National Archives, its records on the Armenian genocide, and most poignantly the provisions of President Woodrow Wilson's arbitral award, issued under his seal in November 1920 and legally controlling to this day, to Armenia and its people.
Now, who was taking that pledge to liberty and justice for all? It was us, and Obama: «We must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others' suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.»
National Assembly Deputy Raffi K. Hovannisian is founder of Heritage political party and was independent Armenia's first Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Conscious Existence? What Does it Mean to be Armenian?, 2009/07/27, Seda Grigoryan
I don’t know. Must I pass all this down to my kids or not ? I don’t know. Should I continue to remain Armenian or just get on with life?
These are two types of “existence” of the scale that don’t fully equate but that counterbalance the other given the dictates of reality – to live or remain Armenian.
The young French-Armenian woman came clean on behalf of all diaspora youth who wage another battle in the overall battle of daily life – to remain Armenian. Is the preservation of Armenian identity given such prominence and thought; is it that mandatory? Isn’t it hard enough just to live without trying to maintain ones national identity in a society where western values hold sway? Such questions are faced by many diaspora Armenian youth who still recognize their Armenian roots and who say that they are Armenian, in addition to being French, Belgian and American.
20 year-old Rouben – “I feel different from the French”
«When you’re young you don’t give the matter much thought. But when you grow up you feel that you are different from the French. This is especially so when it comes to the family; which is very important. Our families are stricter and relatives are more respected. We visit our grandparents and cousins. Our upbringing is also different. When you grow up in France you feel these differences,” twenty year-old Rouben said. He decided to learn Armenian after visiting Armenia last year.
A student at the Sorbonne’s history department, the fact that he has resided at the “Armenian Student House” in Paris, rubbing shoulders with other Armenian students from various countries, really made him appreciate his Armenian roots. He says that it allowed him to mould his Armenian identity. In addition, he proved to himself and others that it’s possible to learn Armenian rather quickly if the desire exists, since being Armenian is more than just words.
While Rouben is probably not unique, it would be stretching it to say that his level of enthusiasm is commonplace. In the diaspora today, the fourth generation of Genocide survivors is being born. Naturally, the place they are born is where they call home. This is especially the case in the West where they live along side of other nationalities and where their integration into the dominant society is at a level where talk about national identity and roots often become superfluous. Over time and with succeeding generations these concepts are often forgotten.
This danger of assimilation also threatens Armenians. Many are worried that Armenians in the diaspora will soon become a “nation of grandparents”.
This is the reason why many families continue to pass along the Armenian language, history and traditions to their children.
What does it mean to be Armenian? The young people we spoke to singled out four necessary factors to remain Armenian – language, religion, culture and family.
Sadly, for some, being Armenian connotates living in a closed-society with restrictions; barriers that have been or are being placed as a way to ward off the encroaching threats of assimilation.
Does one have to speak the language to be Armenian?
Rouben believes that if you speak Armenian to your children then you are Armenian, because you are always using the language of your heart to converse with your child.
Hagop Talatinian was born and raised in Lebanon, in a family that spoke Armenian. He went to an Armenian school. His only concern today is that his children speak Armenian since he wants to transfer that “treasure” to them.
“My grandfather’s family learned Armenian under difficult conditions. They tell the story of learning Armenian on the desert sands; I feel a certain obligation to my grandfather and mother for trying to preserve this value. We have a debt of respect to pay back. This is why I can’t tell myself that I am not Armenian. I can’t, because I have to look my father in the face. The eyes of my father and mother will tell me – those values that I gave you…When a child is born you don’t say – let’s see what clothes he wants to wear. You clothe the child so that later on the child can decide whether he likes the clothes or not. It’s the same with religion and the language,” says Hagop Talatinian.
Mkrtich Basmajian, who directs a theater group in Paris that stages plays in Armenian, has realized that one can remain Armenian in the diaspora only through the parallel efforts of the school and church. However, especially in the west, the growth of Armenian language usage is dubious. If there are still those who are interested in learning the language, their numbers have drastically decreased when compared with the previous generation.
Recently, “Haratch” the last remaining Armenian language newspaper in France, if not all of Europe, closed down. It first was published in 1925. Over the years the paper was in great demand in the French-Armenian community, not only as a source of information but because it was published in Armenian. Many say that their parents and grandparents looked forward to each new issue because it served as a link to the “lost” homeland. Why did “Haratch” shut down when the Armenian community in France is bigger than ever?
Today, in the diaspora, Armenian plays a more symbolic role than as a means of communication or dialog. Despite the fact that Armenian schools continue to function, Armenian isn’t spoken in many families as the primary language.
Labels such as « Our language is holy, a treasure” merely serve to consign the language to further disuse. “In my opinion, it is very dangerous to state that our ABC’s are holy letters because the more they are sanctified they more the letters become encases in stone, like “khatchkars”. We can’t modernize those values and pass them on,” said twenty-four year-old Tigran Yekavyan.
Tragically, the principle of « preservation » is more in vogue in the diaspora today since what is « new » is perceived to hold the threat of integration into western culture.
« The preservation of the Armenian identity ‘hayapahpanoum’ and the culture turn into something akin to a jar of preserves. In other words, I have to place everything, language, customs, and symbolic items into that jar and shut it tight. For me, the development of the Armenian is important. Rather than encouraging the new generation and new talents, we’ve chosen classicism; the preservation of our past inheritance that has survived. For another fifty years we’ll be reciting the same poetry; Siamanto for example. People will understand nothing but will continue the traditions,” continued Tigran Yekavyan, a graduate of the Paris School of Political Science.
While true that Armenian organizations continue working to keep the Armenian culture and history alive, in the opinion of young people, these efforts revolve around one issue – the Genocide.
The Genocide isn’t a basis for national identity
Noyem Hapoujian says, « I’ve been cut off from the Armenian community for many years. Now, I’ve returned to the fold. I’ve never understood why we experience such pain. Is it due to the Genocide? These themes of pain and being victims are stressed to the point that we can’t culturally interact with other nations. I attend cultural events and festivals of other nationalities but rarely do I meet other Armenians there. I would like to see Armenians open up culturally. Why are we so closed as a community? There is the constant fear that we will lose the culture. It’s as if it’s a treasure that can’t be touched. We must learn to give since it’s important to create dialog with other nations. Being Armenian isn’t just about suffering; it’s a very rich cultural tradition. As children they teach about the Genocide and religion. But religion, for me, isn’t culture. It is necessary to build a national identity on the basis of culture and not the Genocide.”
Most of the people I talked to said that the bulk of events now being organized in the diaspora revolve around the Genocide. It’s an issue that unites all Armenians in the diaspora and there is a broad consensus of opinion on the subject. As Mkrtich Basmajian noted, “There’s a sensory nerve that must be set off to feel Armenian and it relates to 1915.”
The black chapter of Armenian history is so stressed in the diaspora today that oftentimes the history and culture of the Armenian people up till 1915 is forgotten.
Belgian-Armenian Peter Boghosian says, « Our history isn’t just the Genocide. The best way struggle against that tragic episode is to present our history to the world. We should not forget that Armenians contributed a great deal in the formation of the Ottoman Empire. Some of the largest palaces were built by Armenians.”
Many in diaspora do not view RoA as their homeland
A young French-Armenian woman confessed that she wasn’t even aware of the existence of the Republic of Armenia (RoA). In the minds of many, the name “Armenia” conjures up the “erkir” (lost homeland) of the past. These people don’t see their future as linked to present-day Armenia.
Peter said, « If they give back the lands in Cilicia tomorrow, I would go and live there. But the RoA isn’t the land of my ancestors; it’s a symbol. I really loved the RoA when I visited but it isn’t our Armenia. Our roots come from an Armenia where we lived side by side with Greeks, Turks, Arabs and Jews.”
In the diaspora, Genocide recognition is the unifying factor
All Armenian organizations active in the diaspora today target their primary activities on the international recognition of the Genocide. In other words, the denial by Turkey of the Genocide serves to unite the Armenian diaspora. What would happen if Turkey one day recognizes the Genocide?
Shant Habibian, a member of the « Nor Seround » (AYF in France), says that, »The number one aim for our meetings is to tell the youth about Armenian massacres and secondly, for them to grow up Armenian. We have an Armenian paper. Perhaps it is because Turkey denies the Genocide that we have considered ourselves Armenian for all these years. It’s been a source of strength.”
Raffi Der-Hagopian, President of the AGBU’s Paris youth branch says that a host of issues are discussed at youth events but it is April 24th that unites everyone.
“That problem, of constantly talking about the Genocide really kills me. On the day that Turkey recognized the Genocide Armenians will be in a panic since we’ve concentrated on that black page of our history for so long. We’ll be at a loss to what to do next, Raffi says.
This question truly concerns many, but it is raised by only a few.
Being Armenian means struggling every day
“It’s very difficult to explain to a French person that I’m Armenian. They tell me – ‘but you were born here; your parents are here.’ However, Armenian blood flows through my veins. I feel very Armenian and very French at the same time. We have two worlds – the Armenian one, my family, and the French one, the surrounding society. You struggle daily to unite the two somehow, says Raffi Der-Hagopian.
Luckily, there are still many families in the diaspora they are trying to preserve their national identity, passing on, sometimes forcing “Armenian values” on their children through education. These values are perceived differently in different families – language, religion and culture are typical traits of the Armenian family.
“Up until the age of fifteen I had a strong sense of being Armenian and was quite proud of it. I remember writing a report when I graduated entitled, ‘If I hadn’t been born Armenian, I would have liked to’. But at the age of 17 or 18 I started to think differently. Naturally you begin to ponder things like – who am I, what am I, where do I come from, and do I like what I am? I realized that my parent’s education has influenced the way I see many things. But there are many things about it that I didn’t like and still don’t but tolerate because of my parents. I do not deny being Armenian nor am I ashamed of it. I understand them and that they went through hard times as well. But when they try to pass along all this to young kids it’s like brainwashing. In the end, when you turn 17 you start to think about these things and understand that it’s an “overdose”, said Greek-Armenian Ani.
Aside from this inculcation, many families force their kids to marry only Armenians. Perhaps, it’s out of a fear that assimilation will gradually result in the disappearance of the Armenian identity. Or perhaps, it’s merely out of concern for one’s children and the wish that they have a strong family; something that they believe can only be formed by marrying an Armenian.
Marrying “odars” still a taboo?
“Even till today, my father can’t cope with the fact that I might marry a non-Armenian. It’s out of the question. It’s understandable in a way since we are a small nation and don’t have the “luxury” of marrying non-Armenians and thus disappearing,” said Tigran Yekavyan.
26 year-old Narek, who spent his youth in one of the African countries, where there were only a handful of Armenian families, recounted that he rejected his being Armenian while young. He explains that this was the case because when others don’t understand who you are, integration becomes difficult in that society. Then too, accepting his Armenian roots came to symbolize the authority of his parents.
“I agreed to everything that my parents forced on me; the education of a well-mannered boy that doesn’t get into mischief. The first time I started to date an Arab girl and told my parents about it, they saw it as a dangerous thing. My mother fell ill. There was pressure every day in my family. I wanted to stay with that girl, but it was taboo according to Armenian tradition. There were many other girls that I liked but I put an end to things. If I let the relationships get serious it would have only created more pain. Then too, I really wish to please my folks. Armenians are altruistic; they go out of their way to please others. During moments of weakness, I often told myself that I wished to have been an Arab,” says Narek.
Today, Narek positively regards the education given by his parents. It’s hard to say how sincere he was when he assured us that in the depths of his soul perhaps he also wanted it to be thus.
“When you grow a bit tired and move away a bit, you feel that need. Even when you grow tired of all the events and such, you can’t really distance yourself that much. Whether or not you distance yourself, you feel that longing. It’s like a rubber band; the more you stretch it, the stronger it springs back,” noted Shant Habibian.
Monte Melkonian as symbol of diaspora contradiction
American-Armenian Raffi Barsoumian spent his youth in the company of Armenians and spoke Armenian in the home with the family. Only after going away to college did he think about the necessity of preserving his national identity.
“For many years I lived far-away and began to think, what will I do now? I’ll get married, work at different things and maybe lose direction. You think to yourself that life is life and that all men are just like others; why not. But the other day my friend sent me a clip of Monte Melkonian on “you-tube”. You know he was born and raised in California, an American, who became a soldier. When you watch his story you realize that there are other people out there, other nations. You can go become an American or a Frenchman, but it’s a pity. There are people who gave their lives, to protect and preserve that which you have in your blood,” says Raffi.
P.S. The idea for this article resulted from a discussion that took place after the staging of Mkrtich Basmajian’s “Broken Dreams”. The essential question that was raised during the discussion by the youth that evening was what should be done in the future. Was it really necessary to pass on this “heavy burden” to future generations as well? For this burden includes one’s Armenian roots, the history, especially the Genocide, and on the other hand, Armenian pride. Naturally, having been born on foreign soil, these young people are not only Armenian. However, it is also clear that there is something that pulls them close to their Armenian roots. Many we spoke too quietly confessed that they had often thought about how easy life would be if they weren’t Armenian but that deep down inside the Armenian within always pulled them back, no matter how hard they tried to escape.
Seda Grigoryan is a reporter for “Hetq”. She currently attends the The Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) is located in Paris and is defending her thesis in linguistics.
Why Don't Jews Condemn Anti-Semitism In Turkey?, Harut Sassounian , Publisher, The California Courier
Rifat Bali, a Jewish scholar and a native of Istanbul, has been investigating anti-Semitism in Turkey for many years. He has authored several books and articles on the history of Turkish Jews. His most recent book, "The Jews of Turkey and the Armenian Genocide," is a monumental work that documents how the Turkish government pressured not only Turkish Jews, but also the Israeli government and American-Jewish organizations, to lobby against congressional resolutions on the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey's blackmail of Jews in and out of Turkey is not news to our readers. Neither is the fact that there has been widespread anti-Semitism in Turkey for decades, if not centuries. In a lengthy article published in July by the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs in Jerusalem, Mr. Bali meticulously documents the fact that such racist attitudes are held by practically the entire spectrum of Turkish society.
In his article, "Present-day Anti-Semitism in Turkey," Mr. Bali summarizes his analysis in four key points:
· "Turkish intellectuals have always taken a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli stance. Islamists associate the 'Palestine question' with alleged Jewish involvement in the rise of Turkish secularism. Leftists see Israel as an imperialist state and an extension of American hegemony in the Middle East. Comparable themes are found among nationalist intellectuals.
· "Turkish reactions to Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon and 2009 war in Gaza often spilled over into anti-Semitism. Newspaper columnists, some of them academics, belonging to the various ideological streams helped fan popular sentiment against Israel and Jews. Israel was said to be exploiting Holocaust guilt and the services of the 'American Jewish lobby' to further its own nefarious aims.
· "Turkish approaches to the 'Palestine question' rarely venture outside the clichÃ©s of Turkish popular culture. Turkish publishing houses providing translated works on the issue are careful not to run afoul of popular sentiment. The net result is that both Turkish columnists and their readers utilize only limited sources on the conflict that are preponderantly anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.
· "Any attempt by the Turkish Jewish leadership to confront Turkish society on combating anti-Semitism is likely to backfire and even further exacerbate the problem. Given this reality, the only options left for Turkey's Jewish community are to either continue living in Turkey amid widespread anti-Semitism or to emigrate."
Mr. Bali documents his assertions by quoting from dozens of anti-Semitic statements published in various Turkish newspapers in recent years. Here are some examples:
-- Toktam?? Ate?, professor of political science at Istanbul and Istanbul Bilgi universities, newspaper columnist, and a prominent intellectual who frequently appears on TV, described Jews as "the first and most racist people in history." (BugÃ¼n, July 20, 2006).
-- Ayhan Demir, a commentator for the Islamist MillÃ® Gazete , wrote: "The first thing to be done to achieve the security of Istanbul and Jerusalem is to get rid of, in as short a time as possible, this 'shanty town' that has begun to harm humanity on the entire face of the earth, and which is as offensive to the heart as to the eye. To send the occupiers to the garbage heap of history, together with their bloody charlatanism would be one of the most noble acts that could be realized in the name of humanity. A world without Israel would be, without a doubt, a much more peaceful and secure world."
(Milli® Gazete, December 30, 2008).
-- Nuh GÃ¶nÃ¼lta?, a well-known columnist, said Hitler was justified in his treatment of the Jews, since "the state of Israel is an even greater tyrant than Hitler." (BugÃ¼n, August 1, 2006).
-- The Islamist sociologist Ali BulaÃ§, a well-known columnist for Zaman, described Gaza as "a concentration camp that in reality surpasses the Nazi camps." (Zaman, December 29, 2008).
It is simply astonishing that Israeli officials and Jewish leaders worldwide hardly ever react, at least not publicly, to such widespread and vicious anti-Semitic outbursts in Turkey. Why is Rifat Bali resigned to the fact that "the only options left for Turkey's Jewish community are to either continue living in Turkey amid widespread anti-Semitism or to emigrate?" This is a fundamental question that Jews themselves should answer!
By keeping quiet, Jewish leaders are simply encouraging Turkish commentators to continue making racist and insulting remarks. If Israel's President Shimon Peres and ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman were not so busy denying the Armenian Genocide, they would perhaps spend more of their time fighting anti-Semitism!
'The Next 100 Years' May Not Bode Well For Armenia, Andy Turpin, Asbarez, Jul 27th, 2009
Corporate Intelligence Guru George Friedman's Latest Book Predicts Turkish Superpower
WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)--To personify the tone of George Friedman's newest book of speculative geopolitics, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Doubleday, 2009), I shall quote F.D.R. when he allegedly said of Nicaraguan despot and U.S. proxy Anastasio Somoza GarcÃ: "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch."
Likewise, I will say of Friedman that while I'd probably disagree with his personal social views if seated beside him at a dinner party, there was little in his book's research or analysis that I--nor, I'm assuming, any charter member of the ANCA--would disagree with that staunchly.
Friedman is the chief executive of STRATFOR, the leading private global intelligence firm he founded in 1996. The son of Hungarian Holocaust survivors and raised in New York City, he spent almost 20 years in academia prior to joining the private sector, teaching political science at Dickinson College. During that time, he regularly briefed senior commanders in the armed services on security and national defense matters, as well as those in the Office of Net Assessments, the SHAPE Technical Center, the U.S. Army War College, the National Defense University and the RAND Corporation.
For all intents and purposes, I have honed my review to focus on Friedman's predictions for Armenia, Turkey, and the Caucasus, although his general outline for a realistic 21st-century timeline is as ruthless and American-interest driven--never to be confused with the goals of true American values--as any State Department report I've ever perused.
Keenly, of all U.S. foreign policy decisions, Friedman writes with veritas that the U.S. "has no key interest in winning a war outright. As with Vietnam or Korea, the purpose of these conflicts is simply to block a power or destabilize the region, not to impose order. In due course, even outright American defeat is acceptable. However, the principle of using minimum force, when absolutely necessary, to maintain the Eurasian balance of power is--and will remain--the driving force of U.S. foreign policy throughout the 21st century. There will be numerous Kosovos and Iraqs in unanticipated places at unexpected times... But since the primary goal will more likely be simply to block or destabilize Serbia or al Qaeda, the interventions will be quite rational. They will never appear to really yield anything nearing a 'solution,' and will always be done with insufficient force to be decisive."
In short, Friedman predicts that following the August 2008 war in Georgia, conflicts in the Cauc asus will remain relatively stable until roughly 2020, at which point "Americans will see Russian domination of Georgia as undermining their position in the region. The Turks will see this as energizing the Armenians and returning the Russian army in force to their borders. The Russians will become more convinced of the need to act because of this resistance. A duel in the Caucasus will result... But it will be Europe [namely the Polish border and the Baltic states], not the Caucasus that will matter."
He continues of this proposed conflict: "The Turks will make an unavoidable strategic decision around 2020. Relying on a chaotic buffer zone to protect themselves from the Russians is a bet they will not make again.
This time they will move north into the Caucasus, as deeply as they need to in order to guarantee their national security in that direction... The immediate periphery of Turkey is going to be unstable, to say the least. The United States will encourage Turkey to press north in the Caucasus and will want Turkish influence in Muslim areas of the Balkans."
In Friedman's view, the opening of the border between Turkey and Armenia can be postponed but is inevitable. And when it finally occurs, the Tashnag nightmare scenario--of the Armenian market being flooded with Turkish goods, and Turkey taking over all industrial sectors, leading to Armenian economic serfdom and client state status--will also be unavoidable.
The difference is that like a therapist objectively and impassively listening to someone's problems, Friedman comments but doesn't care about Armenia's interests. He simply notes that such an outcome will be deemed by the U.S. to be in America's interest, before the country makes adequate progress in transitioning to more sustainable "green" energy policies.
By 2040, Friedman writes, an Armenian, Greek, and pro-West anti-Turkish movement will begin to coalesce as the U.S. and Britain no longer regard Turkey as a friendly ally but as the rival superpower against the U.S. alongside a rejuvenated militant Japan.
"Turkey will move decisively northward into the Caucasus as Russia crumbles. Part of this move will consist of military intervention, and part will occur in the way of political alliances," he writes.
"Turkey's influence will be economic--the rest of the region will need to align itself with the new economic power. And by the mid-2040's, the Turks will indeed be a major regional power. There will be conflicts.
From guerilla resistance to local conventional war, all around the Turkish pivot. Turkey will wind up pushing against U.S. allies in southeastern Europe and will make Italy feel extremely insecure with its growing power."
In Friedman's view, such a build-up will eventually lead t o a limited-World War conflict between the U.S. and Poland against Turkey and Japan for divided world hegemony around 2050, with any actual ground combat occurring primarily in the vicinity of the Balkans and the Polish border areas surrounding U.S. and Turkish military targets.
Naturally it remains to be seen what will occur on the world stage, but like Groopman's How Doctors Think (Mariner, 2008), Friedman's Next 100 Years is as best an educated guess as anyone in the geopolitical analysis field can give, pending all variables--and that's something.
Though to my chagrin, no travel agency will take reservations to Armenia for my personal Nuevo-Lincoln Brigade 38th and 68th Birthday Party Artsakh Liberation Extravaganza this far in advance. I checked.
History, Used And Abused, Chris Patten*
LONDON -- In her brilliant book, “The Uses and Abuses of History” the historian Margaret MacMillan tells a story about two Americans discussing the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001.
One draws an analogy with Pearl Harbor, Japan's attack on the US in 1941. His friend has no idea as to what this means. “You know,” the first man replies, “it was when the Vietnamese bombed the American fleet and started the Vietnam War.”
Historical memory is not always quite as bad as this. But international politics and diplomacy are riddled with examples of bad and ill-considered precedents being used to justify foreign policy decisions, invariably leading to catastrophe.
Munich -- the 1938 meeting between Adolf Hitler, Édouard Daladier, Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini -- is a frequent witness summoned to court by politicians trying to argue the case for foreign adventures. Britain's disastrous 1956 invasion of Egypt was talked about as though Gamal Nasser was a throwback to the fascist dictators of the 1930s. If he were to be appeased as they had been, the results would be catastrophic in the Middle East.
Munich was also produced as a justification for the Vietnam War and President George W. Bush's war of choice in Iraq. 1930s appeasement -- a word that elides diplomatic engagement and the rejection of military options -- was said to remind us of what would happen if South Vietnam was not defended and Iraq not invaded. We know what happened in both countries.
But analogies are not always wrong, and those that were wrong in the past could prove correct today. One of the arguments for the Vietnam War was the so-called domino theory. If South Vietnam was to fall to the communists, other countries in Southeast Asia would tumble before communist insurgency.
Things turned out very different. Vietnam proved to be the end, not the beginning, of the line. Pol Pot's wicked regime murdered millions in Cambodia until Vietnam intervened.
Elsewhere in the region capitalism, promoted by the opening of markets, triggered growth and promoted stability. Globalization produced its own domino effect. The dominoes toppled, gross domestic product (GDP) rose, millions were lifted out of poverty, literacy rates soared and child mortality figures fell.
Maybe, if not there and if not then, dominoes are more relevant to foreign and security policy today.
In America and Europe at the moment, many people are calling for the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan. We are told that NATO and the West cannot build a nation there and that the goals that have been set for establishing democracy and prosperity are unattainable.
NATO soldiers die in vain. Sooner or later the Taliban will sweep to power again, at liberty as happened before to throw acid in women's faces. It is vanity to think that anything can be done to prevent this. Better to cut and run than stay and die, and who is to say that the result will embolden Taliban terrorists? They do not necessarily share the same aims as al-Qaeda.
There have certainly been mistakes in Afghanistan. After the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the West did not commit enough troops to extend the national government in Kabul's authority over the whole country. The Bush administration had turned its attention to the preparations for the Iraq war.
Development has been slow. The buildup of the Afghan army and police has lagged. The poppy crop has grown. Sometimes the military response to insurgency has been too tough, sometimes too light. The West has courted trouble in appearing to isolate the Pashtun.
So the West can do better. There is no doubt about that. But the case for quitting is bad and touches on Pakistan's future as well as Afghanistan's. Leave Afghanistan to the Taliban, hoping against hope that they will become better-behaved global citizens, and what is the effect likely to be on Pakistan? Here come the dominoes -- wrong in Vietnam but not necessarily in the South Asian subcontinent.
Afghanistan is NATO's great test. The Alliance has promised to see the job through. So if it abandons the job now, leaving the country to poverty, prejudice and poppies, what then will happen?
Why should anyone in Pakistan believe that the West is serious in wanting to sustain that country as a Muslim democratic state? Would such a decision help turn the tide against the Taliban? Would it encourage the middle-class professional and urban workers in Pakistan, disgusted by the excesses of the extremists, to dig in and see off fundamentalism? Would it strengthen the more moderate elements in politics and the military? You can count on us, the West would be saying, but don't look next door to Afghanistan, where you will see that you can't rely on us.
If Pakistan, nuclear weapons and all, was to fall to the extremists, the consequences in terms of encouraging the export of terrorism would be dire. Think about Kashmir. Think about India. How would India's government view the future if Pakistan falls into the hands of fundamentalists?
So the West should see the job through in Afghanistan -- do it better but do it. Sometimes the dominoes do topple over, one by one. That is not a prospect that anyone should welcome in South Asia.
*Chris Patten is a former EU commissioner for external relations, chairman of the British Conservative Party and was the last British governor of Hong Kong. © Project Syndicate, 2009.
28 July 2009 asbarez.com
Wake Up, Armenians! Editorial, Institute For Democracy And Human Rights (IDHR), Yerevan, 28th Of April, 2009
The Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) is an independent non-governmental not for profit organization based in Yerevan, Armenia, registered in August 1999 under the Association Law of the Republic of Armenia. IDHR’s main goal is to contribute to the development of democratic Armenian statehood based on the principles of human rights, social justice and solidarity. IDHR cultivates volunteer-based, non-profit, civically conscious, responsible, proactive and committed activist action and culture. This is one of IDHR’s founding principles. IDHR promotes and enhances national and civic consciousness and puts issues of national importance on the public decision-making agenda through cooperation with creative intellectuals and members of grassroots organizations. IDHR also empowers people in Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh) and in the Diaspora to become civically engaged and to participate in the development of public policy. IDHR cooperates with a variety of actors, empowers people to self-organize, and promotes action and struggle on the bases of legal and civic principles, at different levels. The Following is the editorial that appeared in the most recent issue of IDHR’s quarterly Journal Tesaket (Opinion). It is brought to the attention of the public with the expectation that the message of the editorial will help overcome the phenomenon of demoralization presently observed both in Armenia and in the Diaspora.
WAKE UP, ARMENIANS!
Wake up Armenia, wake up Artsakh, wake up Diaspora,
Wake up Armenian people, wherever you are, before it's too late
in order to be reborn, to begin living a full and dignified life,
in order to finally put an end to this vicious cycle,
which is imposed upon you and which is wrecking you permanently.
During 18 years of independence, the Republic of Armenia has not witnessed the development of an Armenian State-Building Project based on human rights, social justice and democracy. Instead, from 1991 onward, all authorities of the Republic of Armenia have implemented neo-liberal, inhumane, exploitative and anti-national policies differing merely in name and style.
The continuous exploitation, oppression, inhumane treatment and undignified life conditions of the Armenian people over the past 18 years gave birth to a wave of uprisings in 2008. Ironically, due to the absence of a real alternative, these revolts were unfortunately led by the First President, himself the founder of the current regime and its state apparatus. The peak of these uprisings fell on March 1, 2008, which became a turning point after which Armenia continues to look like a weakened fortress that has neither a plan for its meaningful existence nor proper means of protection. In the mean time, the self-appointed “guardians” of fortress Armenia are scrambling to hand over the fortress keys to the enemy, in hopes of keeping their posts and their ill-gotten lands and the loot.
Lacking organization and a clear pan-national political state-building project for its existence and development, the population of Armenia and the Armenian people all-over are unable to formulate their aspirations or impose their will on the succeeding self- proclaimed rulers and authorities, and make them carry out their mission. Precisely these self-proclaimed rulers ignore the Armenian society and people, and have not earned the trust and legitimacy of their own people; instead, they remain accountable only to foreign powers such as the USA, Russia, the European Commission, and Turkey, because it is from these outside entities, and not from their own people, that they derive their powers and future safeguards.
In the absence of political and civic consciousness and will and its own political project of state-building, the political elites of Armenia have become tools in the hands of foreign forces and adopted destructive and colonialist policies that have consistently robbed our people, undermined our families and society, and reversed all positive achievements over the past 18 years; and the people of Armenia have failed to rise to the elites and demand accountability from them.
On the 22nd of April, 2009, the eve of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, the Republic of Armenia’s authorities and Turkey signed an agreement. They hold in secrecy and do not dare to publicise the content of this agreement. The scant details offered indirect to the public are ambiguous and do not inspire confidence and trust to Armenian people. The Armenian authorities claim that this agreement is a major achievement for us; perhaps this is true for them personally, but certainly not for the Armenian people. In light of the lessons learned from the history of our nation and cognizant of the geopolitical plans of Turkey and other great powers for our region, it is not difficult to conclude that the hastily drawn and secretive “road map” will eventually lead to a repudiation of our territorial entitlements in Western Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh) and a retreat in the struggle to gain LEGAL recognition of the Armenian Genocide and just compensation for its survivors.
As a collective of free and conscious people, and as an independent Armenian civic actor (not a tool), IDHR deems Armenian-Turkish agreements as unacceptable if they require a mutual recognition of present day Armenian-Turkish territorial integrity, sanction Turkey’s interference in the Artsakh settlement process (in view of Turkey’s overtly hostile stand and actions towards Armenia), and subsequently cast doubts on long-established facts of the Armenian Genocide under the guise of “unbiased analysis by a committee of historians”.
The present government has no mandate to compromise on these crucial issues and forego our inalienable rights. No matter how much stronger Turkey might be politically, economically or militarily, any compromise on these issues will deprive the two Armenian states of their fundamental rights to existence and development, and will weaken our political and moral hands in the region.
We demand a stop to the ongoing process of negotiations with Turkey, a cancellation of all agreements that are incompatible with the interests of the Armenian people and do not originate from its collective will, and a reformulation of our own preconditions in accordance with the interests of our people and the Armenian statehood.
The just and fair achievements on the Artsakhian front, achievements won with the blood of our martyrs, are being questioned today. Negotiations with Turkey and recent international developments are also influencing the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement process to our detriment. Statements are heard about “donating” to Azerbaijan the liberated territories (in their entirety or in part) and admitting international peacekeepers on the borderline, in return for the uncertain prospects of an eventual recognition- over a period of 10-15 years- of the independence of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR).
We maintain that NKR must be included immediately in the negotiation process, steps must be undertaken to recognize its independence, and we must be ready to defend the liberated territories and our just rights.
Unless it is fully supported by the people and mandated with the legitimacy to do so, no authority retains the right to sign with a foreign power, whether hostile or friendly, an agreement involving the fundamental rights and interests of our people. We must remember the lessons painfully learnt from our own history and understand the reason why, again and again throughout centuries, the Armenian nation has been subjected to numerous massacres culminating in a genocide, and how we have been deprived of and have lost the Armenian STATEHOOD, the sole guarantor of Armenian people’s security and existence.
The authorities of the Republic of Armenia must always remember that their first and foremost obligation is to act in accordance with the interests of their own people and to be accountable to them. Alas, Armenian political elites have always given priority and been accountable to foreign countries, too often becoming their puppets and betraying fundamental national-state interests and principles.
It is necessary to understand, once and for all, that basic priorities for the Armenian people and statehood today are security, sustainable development and prosperity and justice, and not the issue of opening of the border with Turkey (which is closed by Turkey by the way). Defeatist policies related to Artsakh and the Armenian Cause will be fatal for the Armenian people, while the expedience of border opening with Turkey remains very disputable.
To solve our internal economic, social and political problems, our priorities should be the swift implementation of a fair redistribution of national wealth and introduction of a meaningful social justice through a governance system driven by legitimate Armenian authorities elected fairly and democratically. Up to now, the opposite policies have been adopted and implemented by Armenian authorities and elites.
In the current global situation, when the systemic cracks and crises are casting doubts on the effectiveness of the entire global system, when in-depth transformations are taking place in the social, economic, political and civic ideological spheres, when attempts are undertaken to revise the old world order and create a new one at all levels , the Armenian people find themselves in the worst starting position.
Inside the country – in Armenia and Artsakh - dissidence and fragmentation dominate, the political elite is discredited, society is apathetic and alienated; outside Armenia, the Diaspora is confused and unable to undertake an effective role in building Armenian statehood.
Armenians continue to be characterised as old and passé nation, as opposed to an old and wise one. We are unable to register a RENAISSANCE and continue to pay the price for our elites’ stupidity and short-sightedness. We tolerate this all-connivance and forego our just demands of our own free will, becoming a ball in others’ game of football diplomacy. We adapt ourselves with connivance to the image of the miserable, the victim, the forever sufferer. We must become aware of all this and wake up from our somnolence so we can establish conditions for a dignified existence and development, so we can build a bright future for ourselves.
Therefore we, as a collective of free and conscious people, citizens and residents of Armenia, as an INDEPENDENT Armenian civic ACTOR, and having the full right for this, WE WARN:
Present and past authorities of the Republic of Armenia, You should immediately stop your feeble, slavish and defeatist policy and be accountable to your own people, for the sake of the Armenian people and statehood and in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia. It is necessary to come out of the present miserable existence, undertake steps that derive from the interests and security of the Armenian Statehood and people, and to do so solely with the approval and authorisation of the people.
Though we are still small in numbers, we are highly conscious and proactive forces working among the Armenian people; we will stay loyal to every word of the Armenian Constitution and will, in the end, hold you accountable to your own people for your anti-national/state deeds. We must put an end to 18 years of catastrophic habits of insincerity and connivance.
We once again warn Armenian elites,
Serving the people is your true mission and work; your lives and your existence are meaningful only due to the people and, therefore, you have to fulfil their will.
Your elites will never be accountable to you as long as you are indifferent, frightened and disorganised, and as long as you let crimes go without punishment, at the cost of your individual and national existence. Indeed, you face a threat to your very own existence. Nature has gifted all its creatures with minimal ability of self-defence. Regain this ability! This is required by the highest laws of nature, humanity and justice– the right to EXISTENCE and LIFE.
Let us remember and once again be aware that we have experienced our human as well as national victories and renaissances only at times when we have trusted our own power, have organised ourselves, and become keenly aware of our goals, of the seriousness of our situation, and finally stood up. Now we live one of those historic and fatal moments, when we have no right to keep silent, to exonerate ourselves from blame, to hide or to escape…
We call upon all healthy and reasonable Armenian individuals and forces!
It is the time to build the real pillars of our Independent statehood, to give meaning to our statehood and work out our own national-state political project, road map and time schedule, which shall be based on the principles of human rights, social justice and democracy. The mission of this project is to formulate and map the existence, welfare, and development of all Armenian citizens and people as a human unit and a full member of the human family, peacefully and safely, under the protectorate of its own, reborn statehood.
Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR), Yerevan email@example.com www.idhr.am
Solution To Nagorno-Karabakh -- Always Around The Corner, Amanda Akçakoca @Todayszaman.Com
Last week while in Baku, I had the opportunity to visit the cemetery where all the Azeris who died as a result of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Azeri province of Nagorno-Karabakh lie. It is not a pleasant sight.
Row after row of graves evoke images of the young men who have lost their lives fighting for their country. Indeed it is an extremely sobering image. From the Azeri side alone, more than 35,000 lives have been lost, and further lives continue to be lost on a regular basis. In the West, they call it a frozen conflict when indeed it is anything but frozen. But those who die today do not die in Nagorno-Karabakh, but rather on the front line which exists in the occupied territories that Armenia has taken from Azerbaijan -- seven provinces in total.
In muddy trenches comparable to those of the last two world wars, Armenian and Azeri soldiers continue to exchange sniper fire. There is no peacekeeping mission or international force to keep a check on what is happening. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) does its best and maintains a small contingent that visits every two weeks or so, but only with the permission of the two sides, which makes their presence rather questionable. From an international standpoint Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan -- as recognized by four United Nations resolutions -- but at the same time, resolutions continue to exist on paper alone as the West continues to tolerate the Armenian occupation not just of Nagorno-Karabakh but also of the occupied territories. There is never any condemnation of Armenia for this occupation and only minimal calls for Armenian withdrawal. The Armenian lobby has successfully built up an image of itself as being the victim and Azerbaijan the aggressor, which is not at all representative of the situation. Let us be reminded that Armenia continues to occupy around 17 percent of Azerbaijan's territory. Since the early 1990s, peace negotiations have been taking place under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, which comprises Russia, the US and France, but they have been deeply politicized with each nation searching for a solution which best suits its own interests. Therefore, after more than a decade, a solution to the conflict still seems far from guaranteed. Ever since I started working on Nagorno-Karabakh, I have been hearing the same thing -- the next meeting between the two heads of state is crucial, they will reach an agreement, they will sign on the dotted line. Unfortunately until now precisely none of these things have ever happened. The news is always the same: There are lots of smiling faces, and we are told that things are progressing well; however, nothing is ever agreed on, and so it continues.
Although there seems to be increasing agreement on a number of issues, there is still no agreement on the eventual status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh's population -- now almost 100 percent Armenian following the removal of Azeris from the region -- continues to insist that the only way forward is independence. Frankly, they are living in a fantasy world. With a population of only 120,000 and given that not even their motherland Armenia has recognized them, it is highly improbable that such an outcome will occur. However, at the same time it is not very likely that Nagorno-Karabakh will ever again be an integral part of Azerbaijan. Somehow they have to find some middle ground between the two.
Furthermore, while Azerbaijan may talk about a military option still being on the table, it is highly unlikely that such an option will ever occur. The humanitarian costs of such an action would be catastrophic, with no guarantees that Azerbaijan would actually win given that Armenia has the support of the Russian military. Also, the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia is a chilling reminder of why a military option is not a solution. To this end, while President İlham Aliyev may talk the tough talk, it is more than likely that the billions of armaments that Azerbaijan has purchased will never see the light of day. Rather, they are simply purchased as a symbolic tool to maintain public support. Azerbaijan is a nation growing increasingly confident thanks to its energy reserves and has no wish to be humiliated a second time by its small neighbor Armenia. But, at the same time, both countries need to learn the act of compromise.
As for Russia -- which is clearly the lynch pin for a solution -- Moscow frequently does the unexpected. In the past, the Russians have not been eager to bring about a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh given that the instability in the region has suited them quite well. However, since the war between Russia and Georgia, the Russians have been increasingly keen to show their nice side and want to take the driver's seat in finding a solution to the conflict. But Russians being Russians always have an ulterior motive. A solution here could be used tighten the noose they already have over Georgia, increasingly isolating the country to bring down President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Clearly, for the Southern Caucasus to be stable and prosperous, a solution to Nagorno-Karabakh is required. Without a solution, the entire region, as well as the West, will continue to suffer; for example, there will be negative impacts on the energy and transport projects that are foreseen for the region. Therefore, it is in everybody's interest to ensure that a solution is really just around the corner.
29 July 2009
Peace Process: Where We Are Now: A Summary Of Progress On The Road To A Settlement, Kenan Guluzade , Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR
July 27 2009, UK
The Minsk Group, which is chaired by Russia, France and the United States and aims to find a peaceful settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, has laid out principles on which it believes the crisis should be resolved.
The principles are occasionally adjusted to reflect changes on the ground, but are still essentially the same as those agreed in a meeting in Madrid two years ago.
"We are instructing our 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. We urge the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the few differences remaining between them and finalise their agreement on these Basic Principles, which will outline a comprehensive settlement," the French, Russian and United States presidents said in a joint statement after the G8 summit in Italy on July 10.
So what are the Madrid Principles, and what are the two sides' positions on them?
RETURN OF THE TERRITORIES SURROUNDING NAGORNY KARABAKH TO AZERBIAJANI CONTROL
Currently, Armenian forces control parts of the Aghdam and Fizuli regions, and all of the Kelbajar, Zangilan, Jabrail and Gubadly regions, which are all outside the Soviet-era boundaries of Nagorny Karabakh and which they seized between March and November 1993. They also control the Lachin area, but this is covered by a different point of the Madrid Principles.
This principle is supported by Azerbaijan, which wishes to regain control over its internationally recognised borders.
In Armenia, this point raises concerns, however, since it involves surrendering the current "security belt" around Nagorny Karabakh proper. Armenian strategists consider the regions to be a buffer zone ensuring there cannot be a surprise assault on the self-declared state. However, even in early rounds of talks between the two sides, Armenian negotiators recognised that sooner or later these territories would have to be returned to Baku's control in some way.
AN INTERIM STATUS FOR NAGORNY KARABAKH PROVDING GUARANTEES FOR SECURITY AND SELF-GOVERNANCE.
This point is tolerated by Azerbaijan, which has repeatedly announced it is prepared to give Nagorny Karabakh "the highest possible autonomy" consistent with its territorial integrity.
However, both sides have concerns about the definition of this article. How long would the interim status last? The current speculation in local media is that it could last for 15 years, by which time a resolution of its status would have to be secured under point 4 of the principles.
A CORRIDOR LINKING ARMENIA TO NAGORNY KARABAKH
This refers to the Lachin region, which separates the Soviet-era borders of Nagorny Karabakh and Armenia, and which Armenians consider to be a crucial lifeline, without which Nagorny Karabakh could be blockaded. It is currently controlled by Armenian forces.
Azerbaijan's negotiators do not seem to have a firm opinion on the Lachin region, since conceding a corridor is a logical side-effect of the other points, but could also raise doubts about their country's territorial integrity. The issue of the Lachin corridor is a potentially serious sticking point for the two sides.
FUTURE DETERMINATION OF THE FINAL LEGAL STATUS OF NAGORNY KARABAKH THROUGH A LEGALLY BINDING EXPRESSION OF WILL.
This point also divides opinion among Azerbaijan's negotiators. Conceding a final referendum also risks conceding independence for Nagorny Karabakh, which is considered unacceptable. However, some commentators have expressed the opinion that, in a popular vote, ordinary Armenians in Nagorny Karabakh might prefer to remain in oil-rich Azerbaijan.
THE RIGHT OF ALL INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AND REFUGEES TO RETURN TO THEIR FORMER PLACES OF RESIDENCE.
Although this is theoretically accepted by all sides, it is a point that could prove very hard to implement. If it addresses all the victims of the war, it cannot only apply to Nagorny Karabakh itself. There are refugees from Armenia in Azerbaijan, and refugees from Azerbaijan in Armenia, without beginning to consider Nagorny Karabakh and the other territories where actual fighting occurred. Would this point include Armenians returning to Baku or Azeris to Yerevan? How would these people regain their old houses of flats? Who will guarantee their security?
If this point only addresses Nagorny Karabakh itself, then there is a potential sticking point concerning the town of Shusha, which Armenians call Shushi), that was predominantly ethnically Azeri before the war and which controls the heights above Khankendi, the main town in Nagorny Karabakh and which Armenians call Stepanakert.
Before the war, the population of Nagorny Karabakh was 76.9 per cent Armenian (about 145,000 people), 21.5 per cent Azeri (about 40,000 people) and 1.6 per cent other (about 3,000 people). There are around a million refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY GUARANTEES THAT WOULD INCLUDE A PEACEKEEPING OPTION.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan boast that, even without peacekeepers, the ceasefire agreed 15 years ago has been observed. However, there are regular exchanges of fire over the line of control. Soldiers and civilians are still occasionally killed, and peacekeepers would almost certainly be required to ensure the safety of refugees allowed to return under point 5.
Different peacekeeping forces have been mooted, although the co-chairs of the Minsk group are banned from providing troops under the terms of their mandate. Italian, British, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian and other forces have all been suggested, but there is no clarity on this issue.
Kenan Guluzade is a regional expert from the South Caucasus think tank and editor-in-chief of the www.analitika.az website.
With Or Without Turkey, That Is The Question , 29-07-2009 April 30, Defne Gürsoy, Journalist-Writer
For several weeks, Turkey and its accession to the European Union back in the heart of political debate and media, particularly around the European elections on June 7. Difficult to forget that this argument was used during the European elections of 2004 and during the referendum on the European Constitution in 2005. The Turko-skeptics find their happiness with the accession of Turkey as a major European issues. Certainly, the accession of Turkey back to the question of enlargement. But does this matter does not affect the willingness of Member States, rather than the European Parliament? Furthermore, the debate away from the legitimate concerns of French and Europeans. In economic crisis, social themes should logically necessary. But the Turkish question remains among the main topics discussed by various politicians.
The French own the debate. On 14 April 2009, Le Parisien / Aujourd 'hui en France published a survey in partnership with the Institute CSA on the opinions of French on the entry of Turkey into the European Union. The survey took place on April 8-9, when the controversy between the presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy on the same issue was part of the main news headlines in the french media. It was the French the following question: "Are you in favor or opposed to the entry of Turkey into the EU? . In all, 35% of French respondents were in favor, 50% against and 15% preferred not to take action.
The Turkish public opinion welcomed the progress of the supporters of Turkey in France, identifying an increase of 16% over the last survey in 2005. However, it would have been sufficient to read the next page of results displayed on the website of the CSA (1), where we recalled the evolution of this survey between 2002 and 2009: 55% in November 2002, 50% in December 2004 , 57% in February 2005 and 66% in June 2005 of French voted against a Turkish membership.
A multitude of other investigations on Turkish accession were conducted for several years. In April 2004, with the BVA Institute, the weekly Marianne had published a similar survey. The question asked in the survey nevertheless opened outlook. Thus, the question "Would you support or oppose the accession, in a few years, Turkey in the EU? "51% of French responded favorably. A few months later, in late September 2004, a survey IPSOS / Le Figaro showed that 56% of the French were not prepared to see Turkey in Europe. However, when asked to choose between two views on this accession, 63% said they were close to the idea that "if Turkey made the necessary political and economic, it would be possible to imagine its entry into the European Union in the future "(2). This result is valid for all political persuasions together, with the exception of the extreme right, which prefers to build its political discourse in France or Europe around the rejection of Turkey.
This example highlights the problems of opinion polls, including the way questions are asked, already denounced what Pierre Bourdieu in the 1970s (3). The proposal for a more or less rational, therefore, would seem to tip the choice of French in relation to Turkish accession ...
Mamma, gli Turchi!
Today, Turkey crystallizes therefore much of the fears and misgivings about the EU enlargement. The image of the country suffers. A survey conducted at the European elections in 2004 revealed that over a list of 28 European countries, the Turks were those which the French were the least confident with only 19% of favorable responses (4). The French claimed that the country is "not democratic" (repression of the Kurds and the non-recognition of the Armenian genocide, police violence), it appears as a "socially and economically under-developed and its membership would lead to a" migration uncontrolled and wild. " More importantly, it is a Muslim country ruled by a party "Islamist." Recall that, according to annual reports on the fight against racism and xenophobia of the National Consultative Commission of Human Rights (CNCDH), among all religions, Islam has the worst image in France (5). Islam among French evoke a lack of openness and tolerance, conflict / war / terrorism, women in Islam and the lack of adaptation to contemporary society. In 2007, the perception is less negative than in previous years, but the feeling of distrust persists (6). Thus, Islam does something positive for 28% of respondents. Finally, the 2003 report indicated that 48% of the French felt that "the values of Islam are incompatible with the values of the French Republic."
At European level, according to a survey IFOP-Le Figaro conducted in late 2004 in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Great Britain, the French are most hostile to Turkish membership with 67% of negative answers . The Germans follow with 55%, while only 30% of Britons, 24% of Italians and 18% of Spaniards voted against this possibility. Among the reasons for the rejection, cultural and religious differences and lack of respect of human rights emerged as the commonalities in the five populations surveyed (7). It would be possible to explain a French sensibility with respect to the image of Turkey that "Muslim". This could suggest that even more, by the constraints imposed by a "politically correct" in France, the French carried all the reticence and unsaid that they would like to express on a Muslim population in Turkey and the Turks. Moreover, in questioning the European membership of Turkey, the French - and Europeans in general - no doubt questioning the European identity.
Given the undeniable role of the media in the perception that everyone is forged on the world, how to explain the decision of media, including the French public television, not to convey the message of the President yet historic Barack Obama during his speech before the Turkish Parliament on April 6? His messages were loud and clear yet. In reviving the world of Islam, expressing "profound gratitude to Islam," he expressed his desire to reconnect with the world of Islam, stressing that terrorist groups like Al - Qaeda did not represent the views of the majority of Muslims. French Muslims do not merit to hear the speech contains important messages for all Muslims of the world?
French political discourse in regard to Turkey
The political debate on Turkey took a new impetus following the publication in Le Monde, 9 November 2002 - after the victory of the AKP (Party of Justice and Development) in the legislative elections in Turkey - an interview with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Then president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, VGE rekindled the debate on the accession process of Turkey to the European Union. It is fiercely opposed. "Turkey is not a European country," he said adding it would mean "the end of the European Union", stressing the non-membership of the country to the European continent. And this, presumably to be used as a foil to more sensitive issues such as cultural and religious difference. Difficult to adhere to this view, but intellectual honesty requires, we must congratulate him for having punctured the abscess. Because this was the end of a long period of an ambiguous position on the issue in Turkish political discourse french.
A few minutes after the argument for the entry of Turkey into the EU of Barack Obama at the NATO summit in Strasbourg, the french president Nicolas Sarkozy immediately responded by reiterating his opposition to Turkish accession. Stressing that it "never change position on this issue, it slamming the door on any hope of change. In so doing, it did increase the sense of denial not only the Turkish side, but also for part of the French, including Muslims and followers of Turkey in France. The President of the UMP group in the National Assembly Jean-François Copé confirmed by announcing that "the group archimajoritairement against the entry of Turkey into the Union." In addition, the UMP calls upon all parties and all candidates "to clarify their position on the subject" (8). In their quest for support for European, Internet supporters of the UMP took the controversy to start on Facebook or Twitter: "Vote for the UMP, is a vote against a European Turkey. These messages are only reinforce the accusations of the Left, which accuses the UMP an "unbearable opportunism."
Indeed, the survey CSA-Le Parisien of April 2009 reveals that the French left is rather partisan of the accession of Turkey. 71% of supporters of the PCF, the PS 46% and 50% of the Greens will be favorable. On the right, only 20% of supporters of the UMP and 19% of MODEM are of the same opinion. Note that the latter joined the 19% favorable among followers of the National Front / MNR.
The "puzzle (from) Turkish
Nevertheless, the debate on Turkey is relevant. Turkey is not ready to take its place in the European Union. Political instability in the country, drowned in a "witch hunt" unprecedented, divides the country into two lay-Kemalists on the one hand and the Islamists to power another. The Kurdish issue is far from resolved, the dispute in Cyprus is in a deadlock, freedom of expression is threatened by a criminal code that needs to be revised. And despite the very encouraging "roadmap" agreed between Ankara and Yerevan on April 22, Turkey is far from his memory on the darkest page of history for one day recognize the Armenian genocide . However, the arguments raised by the public and the media get together too often on the religious and cultural differences in Turkey and do not need a global political change in Turkey. Turkish nationalism emerges strengthened and eurosceptics multiply in the country. Supporters of membership in Turkey decreased by 71% in 2004 to 42% in 2008. According to a similar survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 27% of Turks had a favorable opinion of the EU in 2007, against 58% in 2004.
But if in ten, fifteen, twenty years, Turkey was making all the required reforms, where the debate about its membership? The question of identity and European values will it be resolved? With or without Turkey, his "other communications"? And if at that time, the Turks did not want more of Europe? A headache that would now have to consider ...
The transformation of civil society in Turkey moves faster than political reform. Defenders of democracy and human rights are growing and their voices are heard. It would be unwise to slam the door to all those Turks who dare to live one day in a country where democracy is more titube where Turks, Kurds, Armenians, Sunni, Alevis continue to live alongside each other and begin to really live together and are free to express themselves.
On 26 April 2009, the former European Commission President Jacques Delors was the guest of the "International" on TV5 Monde. Asked about his views on Turkey's accession, the honest answer is probably the way forward: "In the ideological battle that we, the political battle in the world, I would be forbidden to say as a citizen "no" to Turkey permanently. I therefore remained in this position: Yes to negotiations, that's all! .
(2) 27 September 2004, AFP
(3) Bourdieu, Pierre, "Public opinion does not exist", in Les Temps modernes, 318, January 1973, pp. 1292-1309
(4) Survey 2004 European Elections, CEVIPOF, May 2005
(5) http://lesrapports.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/BRP/044000129/0000.pdf, pp 94-95
(6) http://lesrapports.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/BRP/084000167/0000.pdf, page 75
(8) Article by Jean-Baptiste Garat in Le Figaro, 6 April 2009
Pierre Lellouche: “Turkey’s Lawyer” Or “Sarkozy’s Trojan Horse”?, Mehmet Ozcan, Head Of EU Studies, USAK 14 July 2009
After the European Parliament’s elections in July 2009, many questions about the future of the European Union and Turkey’s membership perspective remained unanswered. Last week an important development occurred in France, where the antagonism of Turkey had been used politically during the election campaigns before. The French President Nicolas Sarkozy reshuffled his right-wing cabinet and, in particular, appointed Pierre Lellouche – France’s former special envoy to Turkey who is known to favor Turkey’s accession to the EU – as the Secretary of State for European Affairs.
Following this cabinet reshuffle, Sarkozy was harshly criticized by far-right parties in France. On the other hand, it was cautiously welcomed by political circles in Turkey. It can be argued that the appointment of Pierre Lellouche to such a position where issues regarding the EU are discussed and policies are shaped is a substantial step. In the same vein, this decision can also be interpreted as France cares about Turkey. Since the relations between Turkey and the EU have deep historical roots, Turkey is a strategically important country that France can never dare to neglect. But it should be taken into consideration that as Sarkozy completed the election process successfully and there won’t be a political challenge for Sarkozy in the short term in which he can put forward the Turkey card. Moreover, the European Parliament election results have met Sarkozy’s expectations, and until the presidency elections in 2012, there won’t be any election agenda that would pave the way for Sarkozy to come to the fore with his Turkey opposition speeches. That’s why it is probable that Sarkozy will need a ‘Trojan horse’ like Pierre Lellouche to fulfill his expectations (political, economic, foreign policy) from Turkey.
Another thing that will help Sarkozy to give up his propaganda against Turkey is the existence of countries within the EU like South Cyprus, which is ready and willingly to play France’s role, namely to block the negotiations between Turkey and the European Union. Within this period, it will be more beneficial for Sarkozy to stay behind, get rid of the critics of his political stance, particularly his ‘anti-Turkey, xenophobia, radical and fascist’ statements and also not to have a problem with transatlantic cooperation.
The current Obama era, contrary to the Bush era whose politics were based on ‘the othering, the enemy building, exclusivity’, is more embracing and open to compromises. It is inevitable that this political transformation of the U.S. will have an influence on Europe. And it is not possible for Sarkozy, whose political discourse has been against Muslims and foreigners since the beginning, to be unaffected by this ‘Obamaism’. In this direction, although Sarkozy will not probably change his rhetoric against Turkey, he may prefer to talk less, or to not talk about this at all, to overcome this process with minimum damage.
Finally, taking into consideration the recent stalemate in the relations between France and Turkey, it would not be realistic to say that this step will definitely change the foreign policy of a country like France. At this point, Turkey should welcome France’s diplomatic jest in an objective and careful way and should particularly take lobbying activities into account while considering this incentive.
Assoc. Prof. Mehmet Ozcan, USAK EU Studies Center, Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Why We Should Read.. `History Of The Armenians', Giragos Gantzagetzi (352pp, University Of Yerevan, 1982, Armenia), Eddie Arnavoudian, July 27, 2009
Giragos Gantzagetzi (c1200-1273) wrote this `History of the Armenians' when he was nearing his 70th year. Remarkably, despite the war and the upheaval of the times he had available to him almost the entire body of classical Armenian, and a great deal of international literature too, preserved, sometimes in cave libraries by the stubborn efforts of a dedicated Church intelligentsia. It was this literature that provided Gantzagetzi with that broad intellectual horizon within which he composed a substantial synopsis of Armenian history from the 4th century imposition of Christianity up to the end of 12th century as an opening to a unique account of the 13th century Tatar invasion of Armenia.
The 1045 collapse of the Bagratouni dynasty had brought into being radically new relations in Armenian life, relations that were then to frame the evolution of Armenian society right up to the 19th century decline of the Ottoman Empire. In contrast to previous epochs of dynastic collapse, this time the Bagratouni eclipse was to be accompanied by the almost total eradication of the Armenian secular elite that had been the backbone of independent Armenian statehood. Within Armenia the Church alone survived as a privileged estate. But without the nexus of the secular nobility it did so as a depoliticised institution integrated into the administrative structure of occupying states. In this form the Church was to dominate Armenian life and usher in a process that threatened to reduce a people once defined by statehood to that of a faith.
Gantzagetzi's history captures a period of this transformation of Armenian socio-political relations and of the qualitative transformation of the Church as it strove to survive new conditions. He reveals to the reader a selfish church, a Church turning inward, indifferent to its traditional social responsibilities, abandoning its previous political ambitions for state independence and in the service of its privilege prepared to live at peace with imperial oppressors. Yet, for all the grimness of this picture, we also see in this volume how a section of the Church produced a wonderful cultural legacy that contributed to the formation of the modern Armenian nation.
I. THE COLLAPSE OF THE PILLARS OF STATE
Before the 9th century formation of the Bagratouni state, Armenian society had already experienced four centuries of statelessness following the 5th century Persian and Byzantine crippling of the Arshagouni monarchy. But, throughout and indeed since the Christian conquest itself, the broad patterns of Armenian socio-political life had been fixed by triangular relations of a longstanding native nobility, the immensely wealthy and powerful Church estate and the mass of the common people, all within either an independent state, relatively autonomous state formations or even as vassals to alien thrones. The centuries that followed the 1045 Bagratouni and the uprooting of the Armenian nobility established new terms of historical development. The Armenian Church and Armenian common people would henceforth coexist alone in almost impotent subordination to foreign states that now had their own secular elites firmly implanted in place of the Armenian and bolstered by their own substantial communities.
Despite the demise of the Arshagouni kingdom and state, Armenian noble houses - among them the Mamikonians, Bagratounis, Kamsarakans, Ardzrounis and others - had lived on in possession of their landed estates, a degree of political power and a substantial military capacity as well. Even when acting as vassals to Persian or Arab masters they had nurtured ambitions of political independence often prompted by a politically militant and ambitious Church. They did so, of course, not in the Armenian national interest but in order to free their narrow privileged estates of burdensome foreign taxation and obligation. Coming immediately to mind are the 5th century Vartanantz revolt against Persian domination, the 702-3 AD Bagratouni and the 743 AD Mamikonian uprisings against Arab rule and the 9th century Bagratouni triumph itself. But from the 11th, in the wake of the Seljuk, Tatar, Mongol and Turkish conquests the prospects for Armenian statehood were radically circumscribed.
The post-1045 elimination of the Armenian secular estates removed what had, even before the Christian era, been the primary pillars of independent or autonomous Armenian politics. The Mamikonians, once the proud military backbone of many an Armenian monarchy, had already been pushed off the stage following the failure of their anti-Arab rebellion. Now it was the turn of the Bagratounis, the Ardzrouni's and the lesser houses to exit. Within historic Armenia no social force now remained capable of resuming struggle for Armenian independence. In the future, secular elites were to grow and develop primarily in the Diaspora. With little footing in Armenia itself and yet still dominating Armenian life this was to have a dire effect on the development and direction of the national liberation movement in later centuries.
(There were of course exceptions to this general picture with smaller principalities that endured and played a significant role in Armenian history and the liberation movement. Such formations survived particularly on the eastern edges of Armenia. In Artsakh and Syounik 13th and 14th century they even harboured sections of the Armenian intelligentsia and sponsored what were to become some of the finest academic and cultural institutions of the times. In these same regions sections of the Church based in Etchmiadzin were also active participants in 16th and 17th century projects for liberation from Ottoman and Persian occupation. In the 18th century inheritors of estates under the leadership of David Beg seizing the opportunity of Persian decline even challenged for independence. They were only finally dismantled by Tsarist Imperial design fearful of the threat that they could represent to its control of the Caucuses.)
Amidst the 11th century ruins of Armenian state and crown the one institution that was to become the sole overarching and organised Armenian elite within Armenia was the Church. But it was fundamentally altered. Since what was in effect its military triumph in the 4th century (See "The History" by Agatangeghos' Armenian News Network / Groong May 1, 2001 ) an intensely political Armenian clergy, even during periods of statelessness, had been able to rely upon the native nobility for its security and for the enhancement of its wealth and privilege. But post-1045 it had only foreign powers with whom to negotiate its existence. Gantzagetzi's history reveals the Church well into this process as it abandons, at least in its mainstream, all ambition for political independence and positions itself to survive the Tatar conquest. Gantzagetzi recalls with pride the battles of the 5th century political Church and the striving for statehood that these expressed. But none of this spirit is evident in the action of the Churchmen of his own times.
In a startling preface Gantzagetzi suggests a consciousness of the new relations that structured Armenian life. He writes that while:
`Earlier historians each had a handle to grasp onto - either a famous King or the head of well known noble houses...we...have been denied all of this as the Arshagouni and Bagratouni monarchies have long disappeared and Armenian princedoms appear nowhere and if they exist, then are hidden in foreign lands.' (p25)
Despite the tone of regret one cannot fail to note that Gantzagetzi does in fact have his own new handle on history visible in a pronounced and overriding preoccupation with the Church's organisational health, its condition in society and its prospect for the future. Gantzagetzi's `History' unfolds primarily as the story of the Church and its clergy as it undertakes urgent reform to stall disintegration, as it negotiates initially difficult relations with Tatar conquerors, collects tithes and engages in its cultural activity as well. Among the latter are major theological polemics in defence of the Armenian Church and its traditions. Reference to `good times' defines not Armenian state fortunes but the accumulation of wealth that freed Church personnel from all material want and labour. So Gantzagetzi has high praise for the Cilician-Armenian monarchy that `undertook the care of all the material requirements of all inhabitants' of monastic institutions `throughout the land.' (p140)
This `History of the Armenians' is admiring of Movses of Khoren, the founder of Armenian historiography and the least theological of Armenian classical historians. But it does not stretch back into pre-Christian antiquity that is Khorenatzi's unique contribution. There is no place in this work either for encomiums to the wise heads of state or to brave men of war who appear in Khorenatzi battling for Armenian independence. Gantzagetzi reflected the reality of his time, of the apolitical men of the Church who had replaced heads of state and men of war at the forefront of Armenian society.
II. THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE
Giragos Gantzagetzi does not, and could not tell the story of the Armenian people in the correct sense that `the people' is defined by Mikael Nalpantian. This `History of the Armenians' is not a history of the lives of the majority of the people, of the disasters that befell them and of their hopes of emancipation. Yet it does supply substantial material with which to reconstruct the context of the lives of the common people who laboured unpaid upon the lands of both Tatar Prince and Armenian Bishop, who built the mansions they occupied and who paid them the taxes and tithes that sustained their power, status, luxury and privilege.
In Gantzagetzi's theological conception of history the Tatar invasion is represented as `divine retribution' for the `sins of the people'. But beyond this familiar mantra of classical Armenian history, in which the Armenian people feature as inveterate sinners, Gantzagetzi's narrative marks the Tatar conquest as the end of a brief period of revival in the fortunes of the Armenian secular elite manifest in an autonomous Zakarrean principality that had arisen from an Armenian-Georgian military alliance. Though `subordinate to the Georgian King' (p122) the Armenian Prince Isaac and his brother Ivan, in command of unified Armenian-Georgian forces had:
`...waged numerous heroic battles...and seized for themselves large chunks of territory that had been occupied by the Persians and Arabs...
Such victories laid foundations holding the promise of independent statehood. The Tatar triumph buried these. It was the realisation of:
`...the collapse that was predicted by our Catholicos Saint Nerses and now brought about by the nation of archers. We saw with our own eyes the destruction and the suffering that they brought to the whole land. (p168)
Though clashing primarily with the forces of foreign elites that had now established themselves on Armenian lands the main, but not sole, victims of the Tatar invasions were Armenian people of no property, peasants, artisans and town dwellers. Upon them marauding Tatar troops descended `like locusts upon the fields, mountains, valleys...' (p172) They came with such a terrifying force that it was `as if the land had been engulfed by a flood' (p172). `Heartrending catastrophes' and `tragic mourning' could be witnessed and heard by all:
`...(O)ne could see how the sword mercilessly cut down men and women, the young and the infant, the old and the infirm, the bishops and the priests, the alter boy and the secretary. Babies at the breast were hurled against rocks and beautiful young women were raped or abducted.... (The Tatars) resorted to killing as if they were going to a wedding or a feast... The entire land was filled with corpses and there was none to bury them. The tears of loved ones had dried up and there was none left to mourn them. (p173)'
Death and destruction was visited upon Dumanis, Shamshoulta, Tbilisi, Garin, Yerzenga and Sebastia. With `greed that was never satisfied' (p173) Tatar horsemen went about the `pillage of scores of provinces seizing gold and silver, precious clothing, camels, mules, horses and countless cattle' (p202). The land was `plundered...and reduced to rubble' and its population `enslaved' (p182-183). Attracted by `plentiful treasure', soldiers `mercilessly slaughtered the men, women and children' of Lori, `destroying property and belongings.' In Ani `they seized all they could find, robbed the Churches, wreaked destruction across the city...and... annihilated its glory...'
Conquest and plunder were executed with invincible military skill and technology. Mounted on `sprinting horses that never tired' (p174), Tatar soldiers rained `floods of arrows' upon the towns whose defences they were `battering down' with `the aid of numerous machines'. Fearless fighters, they were led by generals of `profound wisdom' who would `allocate forces wisely' making particular point `of dispersing' the many non-Tatar troops in their armies so as to `avoid (possible) treachery (p202)'. Among such troops were Armenians too, some perhaps seeking their fortune, others forced into service to repay debts or just driven to earn their bread and butter having been pushed off their lands.
Powerful descriptions give an idea of the scale and the violence of the Tatar invasion as a result of which tens of thousands fled the country, mainly for Cilicia that was as a result:
`...flooded with masses of unskilled and skilled men, men who had gathered from all corners of the north east (ie Armenia), fleeing from the land that had been destroyed by the Tatar onslaught.' (p140)
As Armenians abandoned their ancestral homelands, foreign settlers, among them Tatars who were accompanied by `entire families', occupied these (p170). While Armenian emigration to Cilicia was to provide the social foundation for the Armenian Cilician monarchy, it was to critically accelerate the transformation of Armenia from a territory overwhelmingly Armenian to a multiethnic unit, a process that had begun during the Arab occupation.
For Armenians that remained, the Tatars harboured long term designs for their steady and intensive exploitation. Secure in control the Tatar leadership:
`... instructed the remnants, those who had escaped the sword and slavery, to return to their homes, their villages and towns and to begin rebuilding these for the benefit (the Tatars)...Thus the land began to slowly flourish. (p188)
These `remnants', `almost naked and hungry' were subjected to a regime of taxation that `impoverished all and filled the land with howls and woes'. `Vicious officials' `year in year out demanded' impossible levels of tax (p261) irrespective of the population's ability to pay. It needs to be noted that such taxation was indiscriminate and levied `from Persians, Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Georgians and Alans' and so brought `all (these) nations' `to death's doors'.
Stateless and with no native political elite the lives of the common people and the fruit of their labour were now delivered exclusively to the sustenance of a foreign oppressing state and its foreign secular elites. But with one significant qualification! The Armenian Church was to continue to benefit from the labour of Armenian serfs and from tithes collected from its parishes with the value of these enhanced by having to pass nothing on as tax to Armenia's new masters.
III. CHURCHMEN BATTLE TO SURVIVE
The survival of the Armenian Church while all around it were losing their heads, metaphorically and literally, is one of the more remarkable phenomena of Armenian history. The Church survived without ever possessing state power let alone an armed force. This did of course prove an advantage as the Church thus represented no direct threat to foreign conquest. But essential to its survival and distinguishing it from the secular nobility, were its deep roots amongst and vast influence over the population fed by thousands of parishes across the land. Added to this, the Church's constant contest against the secular nobility and foreign power had honed a cadre possessing a singular ideological identity and a capacity for ruthless administrative and social organisation. This becomes clear as Gantzagetzi charts the Church's return from the abyss as it fought to reform itself and reassert power over its flock that was fast dissipating.
But alone such inner domestic resources would not have sufficed for survival. It required that the Church also be protected and aided by and prove useful to two external forces. Most critical here was the readiness of Armenia's foreign of rulers, among them the Tatars, to accommodate into their system of governance an apolitical Armenian Church that had indeed proved its capacity to deliver a passive population to foreign rule. During Gantzagetzi's era the Church in Armenia also received significant support from the Diaspora centred within the Cilician Armenian state. There State and Church leaderships bound by many threads to its homeland parishes may have even harboured ambitions to extend there the boundaries of the new Armenian monarchy and thus maintained an interest in the Church's survival.
But to prove itself of value the Church had to first of all put its dangerously foundering house back in order. Long decades of instability, foreign invasion, war and collapse had taken its toll. By the 13th century its internal law and order, its institutions, its national apparatus and its customs and traditions were being steadily shredded. Even during the promise of Zakkarian autonomy Gantzagetzi registers the Church's decline. He complains that while `each Georgian battalion had its own priest to deliver mass to its soldiers' the Armenians had `no Church on the road' (p125) and notes that the practice had ceased since `the removal of the great princely estates by Persian and Arab oppression'. `Foreign enslavement' had so `corrupted and tainted' (p126) the Armenian Church, that seeking to restore it Prince Isaac had confronted an institution `out of the habit of carrying out' even the most elementary and long established rituals (p129).
Worse still the very core of the Church was threatened by the ascendancy of a degenerate, money grubbing and opportunist clergy. Amongst `the greatest (of) vices' `was (that of) bishops anointing' priests not on merit but `in return for payment'. In turn these `ill educated' `unworthy', `prostituted priests', these `keepers of prostitutes' `acting as priests' (p210) had begun demanding illegitimate payment for religious services. They even went so far as to `seize property and homes from their flock'. Many would be out `hunting' or `acting as scribes' for lucrative returns, instead of attending to the needs of their parishioners. So widespread was this institutional disease that Gantzagetzi judged the Church to be `outside the rules and the constitutions of our apostles and our leaders.' (p213)
This corruption was alienating and driving away the Church's plebeian base. The common man and woman who worked Church estates and paid it the tithes that sustained it began to defy and desert in droves. As `love has dried up and cruelty reigned' across the land `godliness too had diminished and faithlessness reared its head.' (p24) At best indifference and at worst disdain marked popular attitudes to Church and clergy. `With blasphemous curses' `unforgivable sinners' expressed `contempt for our faith, for our creator, for baptism, angels and priests...' (p220) Instead of silent awe `chatter and laughter' was audible during mass (p218). With the Church losing its grip on the population `many lived lives...beyond God's will, rules and instructions' (p216-17), instructions and rules, penned needles to say by Archbishop and Bishop.
With ominous visions of impoverishment if its labouring serfs and tithe payers abandoned it, the Church resolved ruthlessly to recover authority. With the direct assistance of Catholicos Constantine safely headquartered in Cilicia, a conference of clergy produced a reform document in the form of a:
`brief and easily comprehensible constitutional charter drawn from the rules of our saintly fathers to cater for the needs of both clerical and secular life.' (p214)
With instructions that it be enforced across the whole of Armenia its ambition was to centralise authority, restore internal order and anoint efficient and educated clergy so as to more effectively attend to the business of taking in hand an obstreperous population. Henceforth only educated priests with a minimum age of 30 could become Bishops. Priests were in turn required to be at least 25 and well educated too. Illegitimate payments for services that were driving away an already hungry population were to be ended. Rituals and customs that served to bond congregations to the Church and had fallen into disuse were to be revived (p218-220).
Parallel with this was the second front of battle to impose absolute clerical authority in the bishoprics and parishes. An `exercise of extra effort' was required here so as to `bring to rule' not just `prostitutes', not just `the unfaithful and the witches', but `all order of sinners'. A secret service of Church agents was established to catch and punish miscreants. Spies were to be posted at `the gates of towns and castles, at the entrance of villages and farms'. Local priests were assigned responsibility for `keeping permanent watch' so as to be constantly `aware of each and everyone's behaviour.' If unable to `undertake this task personally' they were obliged to recruit `the assistance of another.' (p220) `Twice a year', Bishops were to `tour their bishoprics to appoint virtuous and wise subordinates capable of executing Church orders.' (p219). Lower down the parish priests were to `annually gather their parishioners, in separate groups of males, females and children, and give them appropriate instruction. (p220)
To `instill the fear of hell' into everyone and so obtain the required obedience was the purpose of all effort. Those `who refused' to succumb `would be subject to caution and fine' and to `spiritual and to physical punishment' (p219) as well. As an example to others the stubborn were to have their `tongues cut out or pierced and laced with wire'. The victim then was to be ignominiously `paraded for a day' to be abused by the crowds before being forced to `pay a fine' which rather remarkably was to be assessed `according to his abilities' (p220)! All this was of course declared to be for the benefit of souls of the people, for their eternal bliss.
But as it thus ministered to the heavenly needs of its flock the Church made sure that the flock repaid the service immediately here on earth in the form of earthly luxuries for priest and bishop. The primary purpose for inspiring the `fear of hell` amongst the plebeian masses was to secure Church income. Deemed to be expression of the will of the founder of the Armenian Church, Saint Gregory the Illuminator, a defining clause in the reform document required that `the priest insist on the payment of tithes from the people' that once in Church hands would in proportionate measure be distributed to each of the Church echelons above (p221). The reforms also required that:
`The people willingly or by request give what is due to the priest - fruit from every tree and plant, the appropriate portion from any flock of animals, presents for the conduct of weddings, clothes for burials...as well as food and clothes... to enable the priest to pray and say mass.' (p220-221)
Thus the Church succeeded in restoring its authority over an enslaved, superexploited people and with the additional sanction of foreign power it endured subsequent ages in possession of villages, farms, monastic grounds and serfs all administered by a relatively independent organisational apparatus and a distinctive religious ideology.
IV. PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE OF TATAR PRINCE AND ARMENIAN BISHOP
However successful Church reforms, ultimately its continued existence depended on the will of the foreign powers that now dominated Armenia. In the early period of Tatar conquest the Church and its officials did not escape destruction, plunder repression, imprisonment, murder and enslavement. Gantzagetzi who records the violence was himself also a victim. However once secure in their conquest, the Tatars, followed by future Ottoman rulers of Armenia, understood well how at certain points their interests coincided with toleration of an apolitical Armenian Church.
Sure of having subdued all threatening opposition, Tatar power offered the Armenian Church material concessions that significantly helped it to consolidate its positions. Gantzagetzi writes that Sartakh, son of Tatar leader Mangou who had converted to Christianity:
`... created numerous opportunities for the Church and for Christians. With his father's agreement he obtained an edict to free the Church and its priests from taxation...and issued a warning that anyone who attempted to tax Christians risked the death penalty...' (p257)
One of Mangou Khan's vassals whilst imposing debilitating taxes on the population at large would `take none from Churchmen for he had no permission from the Khan.' (p261) Besides recovering titles to previously lost land and property the Church received yet more in the form of imperial gift (p258) that were in turn secured from envious enemies. When Cilician Armenian King Hetoum visited him, Mangou Khan himself:
`... issued a stern declaration warning that no one was to dare to assault him or his land. He also issued another edict giving freedom to Churches in all regions.' (p263)
Tatar officials went so far as to facilitate the lives of their Christian subjects organising the `building of new roads from every direction so that Christian pilgrims could come among their forces' with strict instructions for `no one to discomfort' them (p223).
Such concessions had little to do with the Christian faith of particular Tatar leaders or with any humane qualities on the part of others. Arrangements with the Armenian Church were components of pragmatic political calculation. They were stratagems of control born of convenience and necessity. The apolitical Armenian Church that exercised effective control over the populace acted de facto to reconcile the mass of the population to Tatar rule. Its Christian doctrine of submission to terrestrial masters combined with organisational force served to successfully divert, stifle or suppress any urge to resistance or rebellion.
Needless to say there was no need for any conscious decision on the part of the Church for it to act as an agent of such reconciliation. It sufficed that it preached its theology to a terrorised receptive flock in a political void. Tatar willingness to accommodate the Armenian Church had additional benefits for the conquerors. To the Armenian population Tatar power was alien and impenetrable, linguistically, socially and culturally, a fact captured in Gantzagetzi's account of Tatar life, customs and mores. A native, more familiar and traditional medium that the Church represented would ensure a more stable exercise of foreign domination.
Besides the requirement to maintain order in Armenia, Tatar concession to the Church was prompted also by requirements of its battles for regional supremacy against Arab, Persian and other forces. Here arrangements with the still sturdy Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia could serve to safeguard an important flank leaving them free to pursue ambitions elsewhere. Concessions to the Church in Armenia in whose reform the Cilician Armenian Church and state had taken the initiative were pathways for such ends. In its turn, the Cilician Armenian Church and state, eager themselves to breach regional isolation, would be motivated, despite any long term ambitions, to check any immediate political ambitions among the cadre of a reformed Church in Armenia.
V. LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE
Reading Gantzagetzi's account of the Church's struggle to reform itself internally and establish coexistence with Armenia's Tatar rulers we cannot fail to note an absence of any sense of social responsibility that it may have for the well being of its flock. There is in addition a striking indifference to the nationality of secular authority and not a hint of desire for the restoration of independent Armenian secular power. These were of little concern to the Church whose interests were now being catered for by the Tatar authorities.
But as with feudal estates elsewhere, the Armenian Church, despite its selfish and collaborationist history, was not resolutely of a single reactionary ilk in the sense of having nothing in its accomplishment that could be valuable to progressive or democratic movements in the future. With an absolute command of all educational and cultural institutions and in part also as a result of the material prosperity it derived from its coexistence with foreign conquerors it was able to leave behind an enduring cultural legacy that proved to be of tremendous value in the 18th and 19th century Armenian enlightenment and national revival.
Gantzagetzi's volume shines with admiration for the remarkable efforts of remarkable men who in the most difficult of times preserved centres of learning and libraries. Believing books to be `living monuments to the future generations of all nations', Gantzagetzi reserved special plaudits for people such as the priest Vanakan who fleeing foreign assault:
`... at the peak of a rocky ridge hewed a cave out with his own hands... where he built a small Church...and there collected and deposited many books because this man was very learned....Many came to him to learn from him....and when the numbers grew too large he had to climb down from the cave and rebuild the Church and his classrooms at the foot of the ridge.' (p176)
It was through the efforts of such people that Gantzagetzi, his contemporaries and those who followed them, us included, were and are able to read the works of classical Armenian literature. Through their efforts we can leaf through beautifully bound and painted volumes of Movses of Khoren, whom Gantzagetzi praises as the `richest and wisest in knowledge' and whose history written in `language that was skilled' though `short in pages was vast in depth.' (p23) Other authors that survived to edify the future include Barbetzi, Puzant, Agatangheghos, Goryoun, Yeghishe, all of whom Gantzagetzi cites and to whom his accolade to Stepannos who `attained the heights of philosophical, linguistic, literary and critical thought.' (p62) applies in different ways.
Among his contemporaries Gantzagetzi has particular reverence for Mekhitar Kosh, the pre-eminent master of Armenian legal thought. The founder of the monastery of Getig, Gantzagetzi writes of Kosh as a `wise and gentle man, famous for his legal mind' (p127) who bequeathed `books of profound wisdom for the benefit of students. (p161). Others `shining across the land as enlighteners' (p135) were musicians such as Khatchadour Daronetzi `saintly and wise in knowledge but famous particularly for his musical art' (p154). Associated with Kosh were lace makers, some women, whose work `accurately reproduced' Christ's human form `causing great wonder to all who beheld these.' (p157).
It was through the efforts such intellectuals, artists, poets, philosophers, architects, sculptors, musicians, scribes, copiers, teachers and librarians - largely members of the Church - that much of Armenian culture was generated and preserved as a single continuous thread through the centuries of statelessness. This thread was to be picked up by Armenians as they emerged from their subordinate state as a `loyal faith' with Ottoman Empire to define themselves as a nation and people. They picked up the written language that had been preserved to use it as a foundation for modern literary Armenian that would help to bind together the severed regions of the land and people with a common national sense of identity. Gantzagetzi's own retelling of the Vartanantz wars was a contribution to the preservation of that tradition of respect for resistance and of hatred for foreign conquest that formed cornerstones of modern Armenian national identity.
In the best of international traditions Gantzagetzi's admiration for literature, art and culture has nothing academic about it. The 5th century Armenian translators `were not mere translators', they were `educators and teachers capable of divining future developments', they were `capable of opening up the secrets of complex texts and of rendering simple and comprehensible speech of profound meaning (p36). They `were pillars of the Church, firm protective walls for their sons, light giving chandeliers and burning torches with illumination that spread through every corner of the land.'(p36)
The true intellectual and artist is a servant of society and individual, a conscious participant in social movements of their times. `These people are singing swallows, sweet voiced doves and wise men, lovers of virtue and denouncers of vice. These are teachers for children and for youth, good role models, jewels for young women, and vows for the married. They offer comfort to the old and solidarity with the weak, they raise the fallen and correct the sinner, they prompt and give incentive to the lazy and guide the advance of the enthusiastic. Themselves lovers of study they criticise those who hate study.' (p36)
This tradition that has served the Armenian people well demands recovery today in our own age of apolitical intellectuals.
* * *
Giragos Gantzagetzi's book is a treasure and not just because it enables critical reflection on the role of the Church in Armenian history and society and for its record of an aspect of Armenian literary and cultural legacy.
In the context of current tension and antagonism in Armenian -Georgian relations, a lengthy treatment of those in the 12th and 13th centuries, centering on the contest over property and land, provide an enlightening historical backdrop. Gantzagetzi's narrative is also marked by a certain universal quality deploying common criteria to describe Armenian and non-Armenian, Muslim and Christian. Though not always free of anti-Islamic vitriol Gantzagetzi recognises, like many other Armenian historians, the reality of virtuous Muslim rulers. On another level he notes that Armenian elite's have the same capacity for violence, plunder and slaughter as non-Armenians. Prince Isaac whom he admires is depicted in his ambition and methods as a savage and brutal man no different from any Arab, Georgian or Tatar fighting prince. There is evident even a certain humanism in an account of Georgian-Armenian relations that show men and women rising above religious and national antagonism in acts of mutual human solidarity (p189).
For any study of the 12th and 13th century Armenian history and for any panoramic vision of the evolution and development of Armenian history the volume is alive and vibrant.
--Eddie Arnavoudian holds degrees in history and politics from Manchester, England. His works on literary and political issues have also appeared in Harach in Paris, Nairi in Beirut and Open Letter in Los Angeles.
Please Tell Us The Truth, Odette Bazil, Buckinghamshire Uk Azg Armenian Daily 28/07/2009
Everyday, different newspapers present us with different versions of the talks and negotiations held between the Leaders of our country with those of Azerbaijan and Turkey, yet most articles are contradicted by the negotiating parties; every day the Madrid Principles are mentioned and either refuted or agreed by the reporters , yet no one can tell us what - exactly - these principles are ; everyday the setting-up of a joint committee to analyse the documents of the genocide is reported and criticised, yet the authorities deny that agreement ; and a map route for the opening of the borders between Armenia and Turkey is supposed to have been drawn yet no one has seen it and no one can describe it .
Where is the truth?
Is the Armenian Media reporting rumours and hear-says or is it engaged in serious journalism , to inform accurately the reader about the real facts and not using the opportunity to present the political views of the party who enjoys their support.
Politicians , analysts , scholars , dignitaries , even school teachers or actors are interviewed and their opinions reported daily and at great lengths , yet the views of His Holiness , Catholicos Karekin II , Catholicos of all Armenians , are not made known to the people of Armenia and its children in the Diaspora.
His Holiness represents the stability and continuity of Armenia , the spiritual leadership in decisions of politics and defence and the ultimate moral sanctuary and comfort whom we need every day in our lives and more so in cases of war , despair, calamity or crucial destiny-shaping decisions.
Decisions which have to be taken now when Armenia is at this cross-roads and which will affect , irrevocably and forever , the lives of every man , woman and child in our Motherland and its Diaspora.
We want to know.
Jews of Turkey and Armenian Genocide, 29 July 2009, Jean Eckian / armenews
A book against the current by the independent researcher and historian Rifat Bali was recently published in Turkey and unearth the facts first-hand information that illustrates clearly how the institutions are blackmailing with representatives of the Jewish community and through them Jewish organizations of the United States - for their support against the campaign for recognition of Armenian genocide. The title of the book, Devlet'in Omek Yurtaslanri - Cumhuriyet YillanndaTurkiye Yahudilen 1950-2003, can be roughly translated into English in "The model citizen of the State - The Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1950-2003" (I I refer to the book, in this article, by "model citizen").
This book is the product of meticulous work carried out by Rifat N. Bali (1) over many years in almost 15 archive centers around the world, including the American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati, Ohio), the Archives Internationales B "nai B" rith (Washington, DC), Administration of the National Archives and Records (Maryland), the National Archives in Israel (Jerusalem), the Central Zionist Archives (Jerusalem), the State Archives Turks (Ankara), public archives in Tel Aviv, private archives ( such as Manajans AS Thompson, an advertising agency based in Istanbul. As his personal archives. He also traveled hundreds of books, theses and articles in Turkish and other languages, and interviewed many people.
"The model citizen" is in fact the companion volume Bir Turkeslime Seruveni-Cuhuriyet Yulannda Turkiye Yahudilen, 1923-1945 (A History of Turkification - The Jews of Turkey in the Republican Period 1923-1945), a reference book that Bali was 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.
Books Rifat Bali are the source of the richest information for anyone seeking to study the history of non-Muslims in Turkey during the republican period. These books differ from others by their abundant references to archives, and the details of everyday life, and their description of the political, social and cultural rights. They are the result of hard work and tireless conducted in both public and private archives, with a very detailed reading of the daily press - which, in the books of the history of Jews in Turkey, although the lights how "institutions" in Turkey, an organization is not only the state apparatus but also the representatives of 'civil society' from the professional organizations to the press, operated as a whole to deal with non-Muslims in Turkey as hostages and not as equal citizens. Although the history of minorities in Turkey has become a center of interest in a controversial academy and a limited circle of intellectuals after the turn of the millennium, (together with the prospect of Turkey's the EU), as far as I can judge, no work in this area is supported at this point in the press, comics, news and articles included.
Jews of Turkey lobbying against the Armenian Genocide
In this book of 670 pages, Rifat Bali gives details of the government's efforts to mobilize its Jewish subjects to get the support of the Jewish lobby in the United States against the Armenian militants. At the same time, Bali shows how the Turkish authorities played the government of Israel against the makers of the USA for the same purpose, using its strategic position in the Middle East, sometimes promising, rewards (eg say raising the level of diplomatic relations with Israel), at times making threats openly or hidden way (ie cutting the vital logistical resources of Israel by restricting the use of U.S. bases in Turkey).
The book also provides information on how Turkish diplomats and spokespersons semi-official policy of the Turkish, while developing their business in the lobby, threatens both Israel and the U.S. indicating that if the Jewish lobby failed to prevent the Armenian initiatives abroad - Turkey would not be able to guarantee the safety of Jews in Turkey. Initiatives such as the programming document on the Armenian Genocide by an Israeli TV channel in 1978 and 1990. Armenian participation in an international conference in Israel in 1982. The filing of a motion for discussion on the Armenian Genocide in the House of Representatives of USA, etc.. It has become a routine practice for the Turkish authorities consistently deny such threats. However, the industrious work of Bali in the archives reveals reports first hand that confirms these allegations.
But that's not all. Through his books, Rifat Bali dismantles the entire socio-political process involving representatives of the Jewish community the active supporters of the struggle of the Turkish government against the Armenian claims in the international arena.
Now look at the context. In all that Bali exposes us, we can see that there is always a frenetic an extremely vulgar anti-Semitism expressed freely by the fundamentalist Islamic and racist, and openly tolerated by the government and justice. Such anti-Semitism - at times increasing with the rising tension between Israel and the Muslim Middle East - often went to rent Hitler have done the right thing and exterminated the Jews, saying the Jews enemies the entire human race, listing the characteristics attributed to Jews as the worst that can be found in human beings, in one case, placards and posters on the walls of an Istanbul suburb populated by Jews, and in another, sending a letter to members to the Jewish community, threatening, if n 'were not the devil out of Turkey "within a month, nobody could be held responsible for what happens to them."
Whenever representatives of the Jewish community have approached the authorities requesting them to take a stand against anti-Semitism as obvious, the answer was the same: they are only marginal voices that have no impact on the public in general and in Turkey there is freedom of expression.
Perpetual debt Jews against Turks
An important fact about this violent anti-Semitism is that it accompanies the formal design and public widely used as hosts of the Jews of Turkey which they are the debtors, it is a debt that can not be paid regardless of how that debtors intend to pay. This vision is not merely extremist elements in Turkey, but of society as a whole - from the elite to the average person, it is a belief purposely designed and maintained by the institutions. And it allows the perpetual, the endless, the infinite generation and regeneration of the relationship of domination in Turkey between institutions and non - Muslims in general and Jews in particular, manifested in the treatment of the latter as hostages.
There are regular events of this relationship. The most unbearable repetition is shameless, highly offensive by government officials of high rank and well thought out the press, the way Turkey has generously given asylum in 1492, when they were expelled from Spain, and how which the Turkish people has always "so" well treated the Jews, with "tolerance" throughout history. This theme is repeated at every opportunity but is expressed in a tone higher and more authoritarian every time the pressure on Turkey regarding the Armenian Genocide increases abroad. Another theme was the obligation of Jews to physically demonstrate their gratitude to Turkey for hosting the reception of German scientists immediately after the Nazi accession to power (the readers of the first volume will instantly recall how Turkey thousands of refused asylum application of German Jews; how 600 Czechoslovak Jews on board the vessel "parity" were rejected, and how 768 passengers of the boat Romanian "Struma", after being kept for several weeks off Istanbul in poverty and hunger, were sent to death in the Black Sea by Turkish authorities with a single survivor in winter 1942).
A typical example is the story of the furor that broke out in Turkey in 1987 when the Council of the Museum of the Holocaust Memorial in Washington DC decided to include the Armenian genocide-as the first genocide of the 20th century in the Memorial Museum which should be built. The media of thinking, not just nationalist extremists began a campaign that lasted several years. Melih Asik of Milliyet (which has always defined himself as a liberal and democratic), in its article of 20 December 1987, accused "Jews" to be ungrateful. After observing the usual ritual of the Jews to recall the generosity of the Turks in 1492 and during the Second World War, he wrote: "we have treated with the greatest kindness for many years and now these same Jews are preparing to we present to the world in the museum of the Holocaust as genocide. Above all, this conduct should be displayed in the museum 'evidence of ingratitude and disgrace. "
Melih Asik as shown, is so sure that his readers will not arise from questions about the use of "those Jews" or the ridiculous to the identification of those Jews who sought refuge in the Ottoman Empire in 1492 with those of the Board of the Museum of the Holocaust Memorial in 1987. IT is so confident because he knows that such identification and significance is an ordinary scheme, daily internalized by readers of the Turkish press.
Another presenter and very liberal Democrat from Turkey, Mehmet Ali Birand, known as breaker taboo in recent years also - and even exceed-Asik in his article of 29 December 1987 article that appeared in Milliyet. In this article, he publicly appealed to the Jews of Turkey to fulfill their "duty of gratitude" and do their best to prevent the Armenians to include the Armenian Genocide in the museum. He added: "Is it not our right to expect [such a manifestation of gratitude] to every Turkish citizen?" It is hardly necessary to note that just before the call to duty, Birand paying tribute to mention the habit of generosity toward the Jews of Turkey in 1492.
Not an apologist
It is however important to note that Bali is not interested in the justification of the vigorous efforts of the Jewish lobby to appeal to the Turkish authorities. Although it provides a wealth of evidence of the pressure which is subject to the Jewish community in Turkey, this evidence does not preclude accountability for the zeal of Jewish leaders from Turkey to defend the Turkish views or to support Turkish official policy. The book has many accounts on how the Turkish Grand Rabin confirmed the joy and well being of the Jewish community in Turkey opposed to the promotion of the thesis of Armenian Genocide, and how the Foundation of the Five Hundredth, established by leaders of the Jews of Turkey in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Jews in Ottoman land, was the promotion of official Turkish theses.
It is clear in the book that Bali does not want to comment on the meaning of his discoveries, he wants to gather the facts as a scientist, do not make personal comments, draw conclusions or speculate on the reasons or consequences of certain facts and events. What he describes is quite clear to give a complete picture to the reader. It is the reader to recognize, for example: the fact that those who criticized the Jews of Turkey, for their submission has no right to expect courage - when none of them have raised their voice against the rabid anti-Semitism spread freely by the fundamentalists, or against the insinuations by government officials, or against the threats very explicit political leaders who kept asking the Jews to prove their loyalty to the Turkish state or waive their right to be treated as equal citizens.
A final word on the book by Rifat Bali "model citizen". It should undoubtedly be translated into English for those interested in the Jewish factor in the fight against the initiatives of the Armenian genocide recognition. It would be impossible for anyone in Turkey or elsewhere to make a realistic assessment, objective and complete success of Turkey in support of Jewish leaders in both Turkey and abroad without having read this book. But in addition, the book the "model citizen" is a guide that shows how the roots of anti - Semitism are still deep in Turkey who claims to be a European country, knocking on the door of the EU. It also shows how it can be powerful when the country's human resources are mobilized against the Jewish citizens-to get leaders of the Jewish community they act like they are told to act. By turning the pages of the book of Bali, the reader is led to conclude that anti-Semitism has a historical context so horrible and so vivid in the collective memory that can be the instrument of manipulation of the victims, and very effective turn 'model citizens' in performing voluntary policy.
Secretary of the Federation of Human Rights over the issue of minorities in Turkey
With the publication of this article by The Amenian Weekly (July 20), columnist Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, provides the following testimony: "There are many years while I lived in London, an Israeli journalist me spoke of a great story he knew but could not use. He had learned how the Turks put pressure on the Israeli ambassador to Ankara to get Ankara to do as desired. He checked with d ' Israeli ambassador explained how this was going on.
The ambassador would be summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and it would be what we expected of him - in fact, serve the interests of Turkey. If the ambassador had refused, saying, for example, that the request had nothing to do with Israel or Israel's interests, it is said, "you know, your Excellency, that the man of the streets of Turkey blood hot, and if he learned that Israel has refused to help Turkey ... and who knows what might happen to the Jews of this country. " The message would be received, and the ambassador will relay the "demand" in Jerusalem.
When my journalist friend said he would hear the case, it was said "if you do, I deny (having told).
My friend checked with the ambassadors of Israel earlier in Ankara, and each confirmed the story with the same promise to deny the case. Its publisher decided not to publish the story - even with the possibility to deny.
He said that Israeli television had prepared a two-hour documentary on the Armenian Genocide, but was unable to broadcast because the Israeli government had banned because of protests from the Turkish ambassador.
If other stories like this, and of course, books such as Bali, were widespread, perhaps even members of Congress supine may be reluctant to listen to the Jewish lobby for issues that do not. "
(1) Rifat N. Bali is an independent researcher Francophile, a specialist in non-Muslim minorities, graduated from the Sorbonne and author of several books and member of the Research Center Sephardic culture and the Turkish-Ottoman.
Editor's note: the blog Israelated Israeli who immediately relayed the article by Ayse Gunaysu, July 20 (Submitted by ami_iss on Mon, 2009-07-20 15:46) at this address> Israelated, has since been deleted. However it is "cached" on the Google search engine.
Israel Conceals The Dead Sea Scrolls' Armenian Connection, Appo Jabarian, Executive Publisher / Managing Editor, USA Armenian Life Magazine, July 24, 2009
On Saturday, July 11, Robert Fisk wrote in The Independent:
"At last, I have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls. There they were, under their protective, cool-heated screens, the very words penned on to leather and papyrus 2,000 years ago ... Now, I have to say that I looked at these original texts in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, a tale that was bound to engender a whole series of questions ... At no point in the exhibition... is there any mention, hem hem, of the West Bank or occupation. Or how the documents found there came to be in the hands of the Israelis."
Fisk added: "So cautious are the dear old Canadians - who should by now have learned that concealing unhappy truths will only create fire and pain - that they do not even mention that 'Kando,' the first recipient of the scrolls, was Armenian. Of course not. Because then they would have to explain why an Armenian was in Jerusalem, not in western Turkey. Which would mean that they would have to mention the Armenian Holocaust of 1915 (one and a
half million Armenian civilians murdered by Ottoman Turks)."
Fisk underlined: "This would anger Canada's Turkish community, who are holocaust deniers. And in turn, it would anger the Israel Antiquities Authority, who do not acknowledge that the Armenian Holocaust ever happened, there being only one True Holocaust, which is that of the Jews of Europe.
The Jewish Holocaust is a fact, but the Armenian variety - a trial run for Hitler's destruction of six million Jews - cannot be discussed in Canada. Nor indeed in America, where Obama gutlessly failed even to use the word 'genocide' last April."
Shedding light on Fisk's mention of the Armenian connection between Israel and the Scrolls, Gila Yudkin of www.itsgila.com wrote: "It was only in November 1947, 11 months after the initial discovery, that the true date and worth of the scrolls was recognized. Professor Eleazar Sukenik, head of Hebrew University's Department of Archeology, was shown a scrap of leather by a friend of his, an Armenian antiquities dealer. Immediately Sukenik realized that this scrap of leather might be 2,000 years old, for the Hebrew letters were similar to letters he had found carved on ossuaries (limestone bone burial boxes) he had
discovered in and around Jerusalem in tombs dating back before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD."
Yudkin continued: "At this time, the newlyformed UN was concluding its debate on the future of Palestine and it was clear that war was imminent. The UN vote about whether to partition Palestine was to have been taken on November 28th. When it was postponed for a day, Professor Sukenik decided this was positively his last chance to go with his Armenian friend to the Bethlehem dealer holding the scrolls."
Professor Sukenik, who had dreamed of buying the four scrolls for Israel, died in 1953. A year later, his son, archeologist Yigael Yadin, while on a lecture tour in the U.S., purchased the four scrolls in New York and handed to Israel.
Several scholars believe that the exciting story of the Dead Sea Scrolls somewhat tells us where they came from and what they meant to those who wrote them. After being hidden in desert caves for two millennia, the scrolls bring to light the historic period 200 B.C. to A.D. 70 when Christianity was
born. Interestingly, Israel, then known as Palestine, was a part of the Armenian King Tigran's Armenian Empire for a brief period from 95 B.C. to 55 B.C.
In part, it took one Armenian to facilitate the writing of the scrolls. And it took another Armenian to be an important bridge for their recovery. So why are the Israeli authorities so eagerly concealing the Dead Sea Scrolls' Armenian connection?
Omitting an integral segment of the true story of the discovery of the scrolls is tantamount to discounting the value of the discovered bridge to the history of that era.
Deadlock Or Delay: Negotiation Process On The Karabakh Issue Is Taking A Break For An Indefinite Time, Analysis By Aris Ghazinyan, ArmeniaNow
On July 25-26 the new stage in the long epopee of efforts towards peaceful settlement of the Karabakh issue launched on July 25-26 in Krakow. Co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group met to discuss the renewal of Madrid principles on the Karabakh issue settlement. A new document was submitted to the conflicting sides - Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Apparently, the co-chairs will try to find a more distinct definition of the concept `interim status' and concretize the dates and format of holding a referendum.
The previous stage was completed on July 17-18 in Moscow, when presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan refused to sign the document titled `Just and Balanced Basic Principles of Peaceful Conflict Settlement', known also as `Madrid principles'.
It was launched yet in November 2007 in the Spanish capital where a list of principles of compromise in the Karabakh issue settlement were handed to the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
During almost two years political analysts have been trying to `decode' the content of those `Madrid principles', although almost everybody admitted that they did not envisage Nagorno Karabakh's political independence.
And finally in June the answer to these speculations became known - the principles were, after all, publicized.
President Sargsyan called it `a certain kind of assistance, since it wasn't always that the sides informed the public about the issues discussed during the negotiation process'.
Judging from the data that have been made public, the `Madrid principles' suggested concession of 5 regions around Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan and granting the population of Nagorno Karabakh an `interim' status with a perspective of defining a `final' legal status of Nagorno Karabakh by means of a referendum.
Nothing was said, however, on what exactly that `interim status' means, what the date and format of the referendum are; it was these issues that became the stumbling block in Moscow.
On the rest of the points - guaranties of security and self-government, land connection between Yerevan and Stepanakert, granting of rights to internally relocated persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence - the conflicting sides, most probably, were not in principal disagreement.
One way or another, the principles proposed by the mediators in Moscow were not approved by the sides, and what had been a subject of heated discussions and speculations over 2 years could have become an archive item of history.
In order to avoid that the mediators met in Krakow. It is hard to believe they will succeed in finding a mutually acceptable solution.
The US Co-Chair of OSCE Minsk Group does not seem to believe that either. In September Matthew Bryza will pay final visits to the region as a mediator.
There is hardly any doubt that in case of a real opportunity in signing some kind of intermediate agreement between the conflicting sides, Bryza would have gone to Azerbaijan as a US Ambassador.
It is quite possible that the negotiation process will be frozen for an indefinite period of time.
The current situation looks like a period of pessimism on the part of mediators, pessimism they have been feeling for five years (since 2002 till November of 2007).
After negotiations in Paris and Key West in 2001 co-chairs did not hide their optimism connected to the hopes of settlement of the issue in the nearest future, just as the current mediators were not hiding theirs.
Bryza even made a statement that the issue can be settled `within the coming months'.
Just as eight years ago Azerbaijan ended up refusing to recognize Nagorno Karabakh's independence, today Armenia refused to recognize Nagorno Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan.
Hence, the only thing that can have principal influence on the negotiation process is if Stepanakert joins the process. After all, Nagorno Karabakh is not the object but the party of the conflict.
Most probably the mediators are considering that scenario as well just because no other one can claim even minimum productivity.
In any case, all these questions will receive answers only in autumn, when the co-chairs will submit their new proposal to the sides, on the one hand, and on the other, the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations would be solved one way or another in the spotlight of the Armenian president's non-participation in the meeting of the two countries' national football teams.