- Robert Fisk: From The Crusaders On, Contempt For The Arabs Is Written In Stone, What Was It That Bestowed Upon Our Ancestors Such Ill-Will Towards The Arabs?
- Scholars Mull Karabagh and Armenia's Future, Thomas C. Nash
- Virtual Assassination Of Patriarch Mutafian, Edmond Y. Azadian
- The Appeal Court Of California Has Disappointed The Armenians, Aysor
- Anca Chairman Ken Hachikian Today Sent A Letter To Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, Panorama
- What Is The Main Problem?, Haik Aramyan
- Hakob Chakrian: Unless RA President Leaves For Turkey, Dialogue Between Armenia And Turkey Will Fail
- Opening Window On Foreign Lobbying By Anupama Narayanswamy And Luke Rosiak
- Tactics Of Fear, Igor Muradyan
- Matthew Bryza's Plans For Artsakh: Formula For Disaster For Armenians, Harut Sassounian
- Turkish Politics Of Tight-Rope Walking, Odette Bazil
- Health, Absurdity and Math, Garen Yegparian
- Just Do It!, With Rep. Adam Schiff, Hovanes Gasparian
- Secret Police Behind Dink Assassination, Slain Armenian editor Hrant Dink, Asbarez
- I Am Not The Enemy…, Ani Hovhannisyan, Hetq
- Why I'd rather be sick here than in U.S., Bob Hepburn
- Papers Malta - Continuity Between Union And Progress Committee And Turkish Republic By Sait Cetinoglu
- New Byzantium, Baron Bodissey
- Turkish-Armenian Relations And Others, Doğu Ergil
- Former Diplomat’s Confession Of Deception, Lale Sariibrahimoğlu
- Ahlat: Living Witness To Turks’ First Arrival In Anatolia, Mehmet Okay Latif Türk
- While Azerbaijan May Have Its Oil Resources, Armenian Has Its Sizeable Diaspora, Appo Jabarian
- Gary Bedian: Master In International Business Diplomacy, Ray Wyman
Robert Fisk's World: From The Crusaders On, Contempt For The Arabs Is Written In Stone, What Was It That Bestowed Upon Our Ancestors Such Ill-Will Towards The Arabs?, The Independent, 22 August 2009
Not long ago, the owner of a Majorcan palace found 13th-century graffiti on his basement wall. It was scrawled there by a knight en route to the Crusades. Translated, it read: "Sod the Arabs."
I owe this sublime quotation to last Saturday's Financial Times property section - the only FT worth reading during the week, only to be perused, of course, after purchasing Saturday's Independent - but it coincided with a whole series of bons mots on the Arab world which I've been hoovering up from a collection of letters and books of the 1920s and 1930s.
Many turn up in letters to Lawrence of Arabia after the 1914-18 war -although my favourite is a remark by Charles Doughty (of Arabia Deserta fame) to Lawrence himself. According to Robert Graves (Goodbye to All That), Lawrence told him that he had once asked Doughty why he had undertaken his Arabian adventure. "His answer," Lawrence told Graves, "was that he had gone there 'to redeem the English language from the slough into which it had fallen since the time of Spencer'."
Poor old Arabs, it's as well that Gertrude Bell had some sympathy with them, albeit heavy with cynicism. Here she is, writing to Lawrence in 1920, advocating the creation of Arab governments before signing a peace with the Turks. "I took the example of Syria; Palestine is even better but we hadn't appointed a King of the Jews when I first began the campaign here. We've paid for our failure to make good our promises. We had a terrific Ramadhan [sic] with big religio-political meetings in the mosques 3 or 4 times a week, Sunnis and Shiahs [sic] falling into one another's arms & swearing eternal alliance (against us of course) & finally a serious outbreak in Diwaniyah ..."
And here's the governor of Bombay, Sir George Lloyd, writing to Lawrence of the same region and in the same year. "Was there ever so fatal and disastrous a muddle over Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia ... If we had taken and kept the Basra-Kurna bit, & taken & kept Alexandretta and told the Franks that it was not Syria & stuck to that and let the rest rip we should have had the peoples inside all on our side against everyone outside - Now what?" The same cynicism again. Tell the French to get stuffed (Syria came under the post-Great War French mandate, which then included the Turkish - once Armenian -port of Alexandretta) and sod the Arabs.
Ten years later, Frederic Manning - who wrote the wonderful First World War novel of the Somme, Her Privates We - was writing a note of praise for Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom and at least tried to enter the Arab mind (as Lawrence himself had done). Manning described the wartime Arab revolt, led by Lawrence, as "so ambiguous, a racial movement striving to assume a national character, the nomad entering into possessions, arresting his own movement by prescribing a boundary to it. You took me right back to Genesis and Job ... Job, of course, was an Arab, and his present day progeny stand in the same relation to Allah as he stood in relation to Jahveh, so passionately asserting his own individuality against that engulphing [sic] one-ness..." The problem, of course, as Bell had noticed long before, was that the boundary the Arabs had in mind included all of a land called Palestine.
Many of these quotations come from the long out-of-print Letters to T. E. Lawrence, which also includes a wonderful 1922 description by Doughty of King Abdullah (father of the future King Hussain), who was "not much pleased with anything he saw here in England. He could not approve of the endless movement & rush of human life in these parts. He esteemed himself a great personage..." Then suddenly we come across a letter of infinite politeness from an Arab, to Lawrence from King Feisal I of Iraq. "I cannot but send to you my cordial thanks for the interest you have had of our affairs despite your being at far distant [sic] from us ... I wish you pleasant long life ... I close by reiterating my wishes for your everlasting prosperity and happy days. Your friend Feisal." This is the same Feisal earlier described by Cunninghame Graham as "a charming man and the only Oriental I ever saw, who looks really well in European clothes..."
Some references to the Arabs are an attempt at humour. Ezra Pound addressed Lawrence as "My Dear Hadji ben Abt el Bakshish, Prince de Mecque," and Winston Churchill, whose early work on the Sudanese campaign contains plenty of anti-Arab racism, would address Lawrence as "My dear 'Lurens'," because that's how Arabs pronounced Lawrence's name.
No one, I hastily add, could ever beat Noel Coward's wonderful opening to a letter to Lawrence when our hero was posing as an anonymous aircraftsman with a mere service number for a name. "Dear 338171," Coward begins. "May I call you 338?"
That's almost as good as the Second World War cartoon by Pont of an English gentleman lifting the phone in 1940 and telling the operator: "Get me Messerschmitt 109."
But what was it that bestowed upon our recent ancestors such marked ill-humour towards the Arabs? Even Caroline Doughty (Charles' wife) would write of the painter Eric Kennington that "he is so imbued with the strange strongly marked features of the Arabs that it will be sometime before he can return to European colouring and softness of touch."
At least this doesn't match David Garnett's remark that he was afraid Lawrence had joined the RAF "as returned Crusaders used to go into monasteries ... Holy Men are anathema to me; I hate Fakirs ..."
Siegfried Sassoon, who served in Palestine as well as the Western Front in the Great War, wrote of Seven Pillars that "I have savoured your Hejaz hardships. Have, in fact, enjoyed all the fun without so much as a grain of sand in my cup or the least touch of dysentery!" George Bernard Shaw shrugged off Lawrence's assumed anonymity in the RAF with the exclamation that "the people have their rights too
... They want to you to appear always in glory, crying, 'This is I, Lawrence, Prince of Mecca!' To live under a cloud is to defame God." Perhaps that is the problem. We like the Arabs if we pose at being an Arab. Otherwise, the undertow of all these remarks echoes the crusading knight who wrote so imperishably on the wall of that Majorcan palace.
Scholars Mull Karabagh and Armenia's Future, By Thomas C. Nash, Mirror-Spectator Staff
BELMONT, Mass. - Three professors gave their takes on the Nagorno Karabagh negotiations at a recent panel discussion at the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), with all agreeing the outcome may do more to weaken the republic than strengthen it.
The August 6 forum was designed to showcase their conclusions drawn from a July conference in Stepanakert, which Professors Levon Chorbajian, Asbed Kotchikian and Henry Theriault attended.
Theriault, an associate professor of philosophy at Worcester State College specializing in genocide and its denial, said that coming away from the conference in Stepanakert he had gained deeper insight into the challenges of a small nation facing a country used to getting its way.
`Armenia is facing a very powerful country,' Theriault said, referring to Turkey. `Opening the border is a real double-edged sword. There haven't been enough studies to figure out what's going to happen economically. It's not clear what kind of industries will survive.'
Theriault added Armenia's economic vulnerability was only a part of the larger issue of the two countries negotiating from vastly different positions.
`They're not equal partners,' Theriault said, comparing Armenia negotiating with Turkey to a 6-year-old playing against David Beckham. As he concluded, he noted that the power struggle is similar to the one that has been ongoing for centuries.
`What's happening now, in my opinion, is a dramatic consolidation of what happened during the Armenian Genocide,' Theriault said. `It's a consolidation of all the damage that's been done for the past 500 years [during which the Armenian empire disintegrated]. Armenia is giving up this and that to Turkey without getting anything in return.'
`A Legitimate Struggle'
Chorbajian, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, has written and edited books on Nagorno Karabagh. He said a July 10 statement issued by the French, Russian and US presidents on the peace talks shaped much of the proceedings.
The statement asked the negotiators to examine the `Madrid Principles' a document created in November 2007, which Chorbajian said could have dire consequences for Karabagh, since he said it would essentially mean giving up all of its territories.
The Madrid Principles primarily call for a return of seven bits of Karabagh-occupied Azeri territory bordering the two areas. No mention is made of returning Karabagh itself to Azerbaijan.
`[The statement] created a gloomy mood at the conference to say the least,' Chorbajian said. `I personally perceive this as a death sentence for Karabagh and Karabagh Armenians.'
`It's a very disappointing decision these three political leaders have come to,' he added.
Chorbajian also noted that Karabagh being returned to the Azeris would further destabilize Armenia, noting, `This is a very dangerous moment for both Armenia and Karabagh.'
If Armenia were made more vulnerable, he said, the concept of `Pan-Turkism' could play out in the form of an attack from Turkey.
A large part of the issue, Chorajian stressed, stems from Karabagh negotiators being excluded from the talks since 1997.
`I think that people should be banging their fists on the table and raising in every possible form that this is not a legitimate basis for negotiation and that this is a real weakness for the Armenian cause.'
Unlike Northern Ireland, where Chorbajian said a majority of the population would likely vote down a unification referendum despite the struggle to expel England's control of the region, the nationalist case for Karabagh is solid.
`This is not some kind of renegade rag-tag movement where a group of people want to secede from a legitimate state for their own purposes,' he said. `This is a real, legitimate struggle. The legitimacy of that struggle needs to be hammered home, and it hasn't been.'
State versus Nation
Asbed Kotchikian, who teaches in the Global Studies Department at Bentley University and edits The Armenian Review, concluded that Armenia's foreign policy is in defense mode.
One of the larger reasons, he said, was the legitimacy struggle faced by President Serge Sargisian following the troubled 2008 elections in which opposition demonstrators were killed and leaders thrown in prison.
`The [Sargisian] administration feels that it's weak,' Kotchikian said. `As such, I think there has been more activism on the Turkish front to say to the population `See what I'm doing, I'm coming up with a solution to the Turkish issue.''
Kotchikian added the issues of Karabagh independence and an Armenian-Turkish rapprochement are further complicated by the number of parties involved.
`Do we talk about Turkey-Armenia relations, or do we talk about Turkish-Armenian relations, or Turkey-Armenian relations? I think this is an important point. We have a diaspora which has a vested interest in the overall process. But where does this fall? Is the state of Armenia responsible or accountable to the diaspora? Should the president or the government of Armenia do what is best for the state or what is best for the nation?
`Sometimes these points coincide, but not always.'
A question and answer session followed the panel.
Virtual Assassination Of Patriarch Mutafian By Edmond Y. Azadian, Editorial
No matter how much one may resist believing in conspiracy theories, the daily revelations which unfold in Turkey come to prove the veracity of those theories.
Over the years, when religious leaders, Kurdish activists, liberal journalists and writers were being assassinated with impunity, one could deduct with certainty that those crimes were not random acts, and as the killers continued living in anonymity or were given light sentences, it was not hard to conclude that those crimes signified a special state plan, which was impossible to prove without the government's acquiescence and cooperation. They were certainly tips of the icebergs, which would come out in their full identity one day.
When Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II, he had already the blood of a liberal journalist Abdi Ipekci on his hands.
Three Catholic priests were assassinated, which was followed by journalist Hrant Dink's murder, compounding the list of many crimes, which the government refused to own. The Soursouluk scandal almost blew up the cover of these state-sponsored assassinations.
Since the Ottoman days, it has been inherent in the Turkish government system to have a state within a state, which can achieve through murder, secret goals which the official government cannot achieve through its judicial system. The benefit of this system is to tame or eliminate alien elements within the Turkish society to alter the demographic profile of that country and to claim the land for the Turks only.
During the Ottoman era there were the Hamidieh groups, the Sultan's special forces to exterminate the minorities. The Young Turks had their own Teshkilebel Makhsoussa, which organized and executed the Armenian Genocide.
The present Turkish government, which is angling for a membership in the European Union, recently started to clean up its act and discovered that it had its own `deep state' by the name of Ergenekon organization. Many ministers, internal security forces and high-ranking army generals were all part of a huge organization to plan and conduct illicit acts, while enjoying the state's cover.
Many members have been arrested and have been taken to courts, to the displeasure of the military brass, which seems to be in collusion with these forces.
One has to read Orhan Pamuk's novel, Snow, to realize the kind of repressive regime that successive military juntas have enforced in Turkey, reducing human lives to casualty statistics.
At the present time, the Erdogan government is in the process of house cleaning, hoping to democratize the country enough to join the European Union. There is even talk of settling the Kurdish issue; until now Turkey has claimed that there was no Kurdish problem because there were no Kurds, but only `mountain Turks.'
Daily arrests and investigations reveal how extensive the Ergenekon network has been. Now, joining the dots has led to many crimes to light, including plots against Armenians.
One of those plots intended to assassinate Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian, who was made aware of threats to his life. He was asked by the security services to use an armored car. Telephone and mail threats were daily occurrences. Bombs were thrown to his Kumkapi headquarters and he was assigned body guards. He was living in a state of siege.
In his turn, the Patriarch tried to ingratiate himself, trying to prove that he was one of them. He took trips to European capitals to plead on behalf of the Turkish government that there was indeed religious freedom in Turkey, when actually Armenians and other minorities survived under a most repressive regime. He even crossed the line by attending denialists' seminars to disprove facts about the genocide. He publicly insulted His Holiness Karekin I, supreme spiritual head of the Armenian Church, and he launched a lawsuit against the AGBU. In short, he resorted to all kinds of acts to please the Turkish authorities and the public, sometimes to the detriment of Armenian interests.
But every time he visited Ankara to stop the confiscation of the Armenian community assets or to plead a case, he was given the runaround, with no results.
The Ergenekon investigation came to prove that all his efforts were futile and there was a true plot to murder him. A detailed plan was divulged, which indicated that 12 killers were assigned to carry out the plot. The patriarch's movements were under surveillance, and at an arranged date they were supposed to carry out their task. One group would open fire as a diversion while another would target him in the ensuing mayhem.
The Turkish journalist Erkam Toufan gives more revealing details in his online column, titled, `Haber - 7.'
`Patriarch Mutafian is an intellectual, in addition to his capacity as a spiritual leader. He is a person who maintains that Armenians and Turks have to live peacefully. If necessary, he can also challenge the Diaspora Armenians. He belongs to this land. He even has taken active role in appearing in documentary films promoting Turkey. It is indeed an act becoming Ergenekon to eliminate this kind of valuable individual.
The prosecution has a third case against Ergenekon where Patriarch Mutafian has been presented as a victim. However, it is doubtful that the patriarch can take the witness stand. Two years ago he suddenly got ill. A man who had been like a rock collapsed and he withdrew from the day-to-day operations of his office. He was suffering from early dementia. Unfortunately, his health is in rapid deterioration.
His memory fades on a daily basis. Still maintaining his office as a Patriarch, he is not capable to perform.
`I already had my suspicious that some foul play should have struck this man of wisdom who through his cool head advocated dialogue and he proved to be an asset for Turkey. I suspected all along that something must have been mixed in his food and drink. This third accusation comes to reinforce my earlier suspicions.
`Perhaps some people will caution me against such conspiracy theories. But we live in a country where some dark forces can commit any crime.
`Yes, indeed. The discovered arms caches, assassination plots, actual murders, whispers about a coup d'etat, and plans to poison army generals indicate that everything is possible in this country.
`This brings me to the conclusion that it is possible that a similar assassination has already been executed against Patriarch Mutafian.'
When the Turks themselves confess, nothing remains for us to add.
Unfortunately, Patriarch Mutafian's mental condition is irreversible; he cannot now understand that it is immaterial how you behave to win over Turks, no matter what kind of indignation you may be ready to undergo in order to appease the fanatical mind of Turkish extremists, some of whom still survive in the Turkish government apparatus.
We hope, at least, that lesson will serve well his successors.
(c) 2009 The Armenian Mirror-Spectator
The Appeal Court Of California Has Disappointed The Armenians, Aysor 21.08.2009,
The Appeal Court of the USA California state has invalidated the law of compensating the relatives of the victims of the Genocide realized in 1915 by Ottoman Empire in the frameworks of life insurance. According to the Turkish `Hurriyet' daily the 9th Federative Appeal court of California has made such a decision with the following reasoning: the mentioned law was interfering the foreign policy of the country in anti-constitutional way.
`Almost half of the Armenians living in America inhabit in California, where the Armenian lobby is very influencing, because of this the Federative authorities of California accepted the fact of the Armenian Genocide realized in 1915 and have received corresponding laws.'
By the information of the same source the Armenians are going to appeal the decision of the court. One of the lawyers Brian Qabateq mentioned that `This decision of the court is unjust. It is a disaster. In this way the Appeal court is considering the word Genocide used by the Californian authorities illegal.'
Anca Chairman Ken Hachikian Today Sent A Letter To Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton, Panorama 21/08/2009
Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining the concerns of the Armenian American community regarding the recent biased remarks by Matt Bryza, the U.S. Co-Chair to the OSCE Minsk Group charged with helping to negotiate a settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.
The four-page letter, dated August 20, 2009, addressed, in detail, recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter-productive statements by Bryza, and, more broadly, expressed the view that his actions reflect the failings of an Administration that, having already broken a series of pledges to Armenian Americans, is now in the process of effectively handing over decision-making on U.S. policy on Armenian issues to the Turkish government: In the letter, Hachikian stressed: "Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation's foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year."
The full text of the letter is provided below.
"Dear Secretary Clinton,
I am writing on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) to voice the Armenian American community's grave concerns regarding recent unfair, inaccurate, and counter- productive statements by the U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minks Group, Matthew Bryza, regarding the Republics of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
Mr. Bryza's recent actions as a part of the Obama-Biden Administration, as well as his past conduct during his time as Deputy Assistant Secretary, as U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, as a senior National Security Council staff member, and as an Eurasian energy advisor for the Department, reflect a pattern of consistent, material, and transparent bias against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. His behavior in the months since President Obama's inauguration are especially troubling because they stand in such dramatic contrast to the public commitments that the President, Vice President, and that you made to the American electorate during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
As you may know, the ANCA has consistently registered public concerns regarding Mr. Bryza's biased diplomacy on Armenia-related matters, including his pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Nagorno Karabagh peace process and his longstanding role as a promoter of U.S.
complicity in Turkey's denials of the Armenian Genocide. Our community's attention was again drawn to his representation of our government's policies following a speech he delivered, on August 7, 2009, in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, as well as by news reports that he is being considered as a candidate to serve as our next Ambassador to Azerbaijan. In his remarks in Tsakhkadzor, Mr. Bryza, once again, made a number of statements that directly contradict the President's pledge to work toward a "lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America's founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination."
Most notably, Mr. Bryza has argued that the fatally flawed Madrid principles are a balanced set of concessions, when, at their heart, they represent nothing more than a major, irreversible, up-front concession of fundamental security on the part of the Armenian side with only a vague promise that some undefined process, involving undetermined actors, will take place regarding Nagorno Karabagh's status, according to his own words, "at some point" in the future.
The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has made it painfully clear that he will not even honor this weakly worded and effectively meaningless expectation. President Aliyev has chosen to reserve his public comments for threats of renewed aggression and assurances that, even if Armenia were to surrender territories, "it may take a year, maybe 10 years, maybe 100 years, or it will never be possible" to reach the point where Azerbaijan would consent to a mere "discussion" of Nagorno Karabagh's status.
This "compromise" is not a fair deal, but rather a one-sided surrender of Nagorno Karabagh's rights, status, and security, in large measure, engineered by Mr. Bryza. This settlement, which would cement Armenia into profound strategic and military disadvantages and ensure continued regional instability, is, at present, being imposed upon the Armenian people through the full force and leverage of the U.S. government.
In his remarks, Mr. Bryza compounded his biased defense of these flawed principles by falsely claiming that the Azerbaijani side has made a "concession" by agreeing to merely discuss the matter of Nagorno Karabagh's self-determination. The fact is that Azerbaijan has neither the moral right nor the practical ability to grant either freedom or independence to Nagorno Karabagh. He also, during the question and answer period, assigned to the people of Nagorno Karabagh a second-tier right to self-determination, one that requires the assent of Azerbaijan, as opposed to the right to independence enjoyed today by the people of Kosovo and recognized officially by the U.S. government despite the objections of Serbia.
Also of profound concern in Mr. Bryza's comments at Tsakhkadzor was his false assertion that Nagorno Karabagh's exclusion from the OSCE Minsk Group peace process was driven by Armenia's request to the others parties to the negotiations. This is simply not the case.
In addition to the concerns I have outlined regarding Mr. Bryza's recent comments, we remain seriously troubled that he has continued to stand in the way of broad-based dialogue between the governments and peoples of the U.S. and Nagorno Karabagh. In his capacity as OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, instead of promoting open communication, he has enforced a set of outdated and counter-productive restrictions that block the hope for greater mutual understanding.
He has, as well, even as recently as the current foreign aid cycle, failed to facilitate desperately needed U.S. development assistance programs in Nagorno Karabagh. Finally, he has undermined his own credibility by making the patently false claim that neither he nor his State Department colleagues have applied pressure to Armenia regarding the settlement of Nagorno Karabagh.
The concerns I have raised regarding the one-sided Nagorno Karabagh diplomacy that Mr. Bryza has conducted on behalf of the U.S.
government reflect our community's broader disappointment regarding the Obama-Biden Administration's failure to honor its many pledges on Armenian issues. Foremost among these, of course, is the President's broken promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Rather than upholding this crystal clear covenant, the Administration has, instead, aggressively attacked the spirit and letter of this commitment by promoting Turkey's artificial "roadmap" and pressuring Armenia to accept a "historical commission" that, in yet another transparent attempt by Ankara to perpetuate its campaign of genocide denial, calls into question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide. The Administration has, in addition, sharply cut economic and other aid to Armenia, despite the President's pledge to maintain assistance levels. This pattern of behavior represents a breach of faith with Armenian Americans, fundamentally damages our government's friendship with Armenia, and effectively eliminates our country's ability to act as an honest broker in the region.
Today, seven months after the start of the Obama-Biden Administration, we are seriously concerned that this Administration has abdicated its responsibilities by effectively outsourcing our nation's foreign policy with respect to Armenian issues to the Republic of Turkey, as every single policy dealing with Armenia has been made along the lines that Turkey has dictated, rather than along the sound principles of morality and democracy that you, President Obama and Vice President Biden unambiguously articulated during your presidential campaigns last year.
Thank you for your consideration of our views. We respectfully request an immediate personal meeting between you and the Armenian American community's civic, religious, and charitable leaders so that we can address these matters in greater detail.
He Does Not Know To Go Or Not To Go, Hakob Badalyan, Lragir 20/08/2009
Recently the Armenian political thought, partly also the public curiosity is obsessed with one question, whether Serge Sargsyan will go to Turkey or not. In this connection, everyone knows what Serge Sargsyan has said about it: "I will go if the Armenian-Turkish border is opened, or in case we come closer to its opening."
This expression is evidence to Serge Sargsyan's uncertainty and confusion about the Armenian-Turkish relations and the future of the so-called football diplomacy rather than Serge Sargsyan's staunch stance. Perhaps Serge Sargsyan has no idea what this relation is going to take him in the future, and therefore he wants to reserve his ticket to go to Turkey, using the expression "close to opening the border".
Meanwhile, when the football diplomacy was being undertaken, he stated that Armenia's "arsenal" is not limited to the invitation to Abdullah Gul after the decision on relations with Turkey. Serge Sargsyan said Armenia has other ideas to use in the process of establishment of relations with Turkey. Where are those ideas? Why is Armenia not taking any steps so far besides the invitation to Gul and April 22 midnight statement?
The answer is more than obvious. The football diplomacy for the regulation of the Armenian and Turkish relations has never been Armenia's competence. Therefore, Armenia cannot have independence in this process. It is not accidental that Serge Sargsyan gave the start of the process of improvement of the Armenian and Turkish relations, that is the invitation to Gul in the capital of Russia. Besides, perhaps it is not accidental that Serge Sargsyan expressed most of his "pro-initiative" ideas outside Armenia, during foreign visits. Also it is not accidental that during the presidential campaign Serge Sargsyan did not reveal his intention to reach a "breakthrough" in the Armenian and Turkish relations to check the moods and expectations regarding this issue.
Ostensibly, Serge Sargsyan himself does not know whether he is leaving for Turkey or not. Most probably, however, he will have to go. So is the logic of not only the improvement of these relations but also imitation of improvement. The process has lost its primary interest in great powers and geopolitical centers, especially in the context of escalation in Afganistan and Iraq, but given its geopolitical potential, it will not be "archived" because it may become useful to the solution of certain problems in Afganistan and Iraq.
Hence, there is little probability that Serge Sargsyan will take up the responsibility for cancelling the football diplomacy. What is he going to explain to the geopolitical centers for which he has been delivering so "constructive" and "pro-active" speeches over the past year and a half?
What Is The Main Problem?, Haik Aramyan, Lragir, 20/08/2009
The activists of the Armenian National Congress are convinced that a resolution on Karabakh will be imposed and the government will have to resign in both cases of signing and not signing. The impression from the statements of some activists is that they believe in this mechanism, and it is possible to understand them. The point is that the present opposition had left government as a result of the developments regarding the Karabakh issue.
The ex-chair of the National Assembly Committee of Foreign Affairs Hovanes Igityan, member of the Armenian National Congress, says with regard to the events of that time: "I was a member of the team which included 30 others like me. The team included Nagorno-Karabakh as well which expressed its opinion like it did in 1997, stopped the process." By resigning at that time, the government really stopped the process, although there is still a grounded opinion that if Levon Ter-Petrosyan had dismissed Robert Kocharyan, Vazgen Sargsyan and the other "hotheaded" ones, as he referred to them, he would remain in power, and no change of government would take place.
You can both understand and not understand the activists of the Armenian National Congress. You cannot understand that they continue to believe that the government they now deal with is a political team and it is possible to solve important internal and external problems through political mechanisms. It happens so when you deal with a political team. Surprisingly, however, the activists of the Congress describe precisely the nature and mechanisms of the present government but believe that they will get political answers to their political messages, and they publicly express surprise every time they do not get it. It is true that this stage of "romanticism" has passed but there are expectations nevertheless.
Time shows that Serge Sargsyan and his team are neither able nor fancy such things. The main problem is to hold on to power at any price. Approving the principles of Madrid, Serge Sargsyan conveyed through his spokesman that he is not going to resign. Perhaps this is the only honest statement of the present government since it came to power. It is difficult to tell if there is threat to Karabakh or not, and Serge Sargsyan who was among those who toppled the government in 1998 keeps in mind that "experience" or he has got guarantees from the outside. The result is the same in both cases.
Hovanes Igityan also stated that "the change of government is not the problem. It is necessary to promote democracy. And the promotion of democracy is not only change of government. Armenia needs the following steps: free press, no political prisoners, a normal judicial system. But all these should be the preconditions for a free and fair election.' It is difficult to disagree with Mr. Igityan, in fact here is the entire potential for political struggle and bringing the society together, and if this basic issue is not solved, the rest, including the "Karabakh mechanism" turns into a mechanism of suppressing freedoms and desires of the societies in Armenia and Karabakh. This has been the case for multiple times.
Hakob Chakrian: Unless RA President Leaves For Turkey, Dialogue Between Armenia And Turkey Will Fail, Noyan Tapan Aug 19, 2009
YEREVAN, RA President's possible visit to Turkey became an occasion for serious disputes in Armenia's political circles. Some political scientists consider that the RA President should not leave for Turkey, others are of opposite opinion.
Thus, according to well-known Turkologist Hakob Chakrian, in any case the President can leave for Turkey on a return visit, take the opportunity and say to the very President of Turkey Abdullah Gul about keeping or breaking his word.
During an August 19 meeting with journalists H. Chakrian said that if this dialogue fails, it will be rather difficult to create a new occasion. In his words, if Armenia turns down the invitation of leaving for Turkey on a return visit, the international community will consider Armenia an unaccomodating country being against stability, dialogue, and cooperation.
The Turkologist also said that straight after Serzh Sargsyan's statement the opinion was already spread in Turkey, according to which Armenia puts forward preconditions. According to him, it is Turkey that needs rapprochement as its hostile policy to Armenia has failed.
Serzh Sargsyan Should Visit Turkey To Indicate To Turkish Counterpart His Mistakes 19.08.2009
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ During the meeting in Switzerland between the Armenian and Turkish sides, Turkey has pledged to make a step towards normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, in particular, open borders, lifting the blockade of Armenia, but to date it has not fulfilled its promises.
The President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan stated that he will go Turkey to visit a football match between national teams of Armenia and Turkey only if the Armenian-Turkish border would open, or if parties will be on the threshold of deblocking Armenia. This was stated by the specialist in Turkic philology Hakob Chakryan at the press conference in Yerevan today.
According to him, regardless of the Turkey's position and whether the border is opened or not, Mr. Sargsyan should go to a football match and indicate to the President of Turkey to his mistakes.
"If the Armenian-Turkish dialogue fails, it will be difficult then to start it from the beginning, since there are no relations between countries. It would be difficult to create a new reason to renew the dialogue. We ourselves will not be able to do it, " Hakob Chakryan said.
President Serzh Sargsyan during his joint meeting with the President of Serbia in Yerevan said that he will visit Turkey to watch the match between national teams of Armenia and Turkey only if the Armenian-Turkish border would be open, or if parties will be on the threshold of deblocking of Armenia.
The game between the national football teams of Turkey and Armenia in the qualifying round of 2010 World Championship will be held October 14 at the stadium named after Ataturk in Bursa.
Opening The Window On Foreign Lobbying By Anupama Narayanswamy And Luke Rosiak, Sunlight Foundation And Jennifer Lafleur, Propublica August 18, 2009
Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown (left) met in June with a handful of congressman, among them, Rep. Bennie Thompson D-Miss. (L-Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Bermuda Department of Tourism, R-Lauren Victoria Burke) In 2008, Bermuda's influential reinsurance industry needed some help. Successive seasons of monster hurricanes in the United States, where much of its client base is, had cost these insurers of insurance companies  $22 billion in losses. Eager to avoid a repeat -- and unable to change the weather -- the companies and Bermuda's government turned to something they could influence: The U.S. Congress.
At the behest of his government's lobbyist, Premier Ewart Brown of Bermuda met in June with key congressmen, among them the powerful House Ways and Means chairman, Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and two Democrats from states in hurricane alley , G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
The sessions, Brown boasted later in Bermuda's Royal Gazette, were part of a "very successful trip" that included "meetings with people who were not even on the schedule."
In fact, the success was almost immediate. On June 26, a day after meeting with the Bermuda delegation, Thompson introduced a bill to give businesses and homeowners in hurricane zones taxpayer-subsidized loans for storm windows and doors -- a program that could also save untold millions for insurance companies by cutting damages in future hurricane seasons.
How the Bermudan government wangled legislation favoring one of that country's most powerful businesses might be a mystery today but for a little-known law. The Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, requires foreign governments and government-controlled groups to file detailed lobbying disclosures -- far more information than domestic lobbyists must provide. These filings have been available on a Justice Department Web site, but in a form that makes them cumbersome to use.
Now, a new project by the Sunlight Foundation and ProPublica  has for the first time digitized one year's worth of FARA records, making them accessible in a searchable database that allows users to easily follow the money and connect the dots. With the Foreign Lobbying Influence Tracker , anyone can quickly learn what governments are lobbying whom, how often and about what.
An examination of the records, which were filed in 2008 and cover activity during that year and the latter part of 2007, show how busy these special interests were:
- More than 280 lobbying firms collected $87 million in fees for representing 340 foreign clients, including governments, government-controlled organizations, political parties, separatist groups and a handful of for-profit firms.
- Lobbyists or other officials reporting under FARA contacted members of Congress, their staff, executive branch officials, journalists and others more than 22,000 times.
- Several prominent former lawmakers have signed on to represent foreign countries, among them ex-Senate leader Bob Dole (Taiwan and Montenegro) and former House Appropriations Chairman Robert Livingston (Turkey and others).
As with the Bermudans, the many contacts often paid off. The data reveal multiple instances in which legislation was introduced or blocked after foreign agents wooed members. They shaped spending decisions on issues from foreign aid to F-22 fighters, and they generously doled out campaign cash -- nearly $2 million to congressional campaigns, according to the data. (More on who got the most, what lobbyists gave and who they contacted is here. ) The FARA data show the deep reach that even small foreign governments can have on Capitol Hill. The biggest spenders in foreign lobbying aren't always America's closest allies or its biggest trading partners. Interests in Dubai, Morocco and Equatorial Guinea were among the top spenders on lobbying and public relations campaigns. Smaller, poorer countries also weighed in on issues such as debt relief and human rights.
Then there are the advocates. FARA records offer a rare glimpse into the methods of some of K Street's biggest lobbying shops, multinational law firms and solo operators -- the hired guns for foreign interests. Their ranks include several former members of Congress and executive branch officials who've carved out second careers.
The impact of the lobbying detailed in the FARA forms can be difficult to fully measure. From territorial disputes to foreign and military aid requests to trade matters, many of the issues that populate the reports are narrow. As such, they seldom resonate above the din of debates on health care, taxes and other domestic issues that dominate in Washington.But this much is clear from the records: In a substantial number of instances, countries that played the lobbying game often got just what they wanted.
$4.2 million to dispute a single word
Robert Livingston, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana, runs one of the most powerful firrms representing foreign agents. He is shown here shortly after announcing his intent to resign as Speaker-Elect of the House on Dec. 19, 1998. (WILLIAM PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images)Perhaps no player in the field shows the influence of foreign agents as much as Robert Livingston, the powerful ex-appropriations chairman who was in line to be House Speaker before a scandal derailed him. His firm, Livingston Group , reported the highest number of contacts with government officials, and Livingston was the second-biggest political giver among lobbyists for foreign agents, listing more than $99,000 in campaign contributions, most of which went to members of Congress. His clients -- including the governments of Azerbaijan, Egypt, Libya and the Republic of Congo and the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles -- showered his firm with $5 million in fees, the third-highest total among all firms that reported during the period.
TurkeyAlso among them was one country with a longstanding image problem: Turkey.
From 1915 to 1923, as many as 1.5 million Armenians perished, many at the hands of the Ottoman government, but a precise description of the events has been an extraordinarilysensitive subject in Turkey. The issue also has risen regularly in Congress, thanks in part to American-Armenian groups that have pushed for government affirmation  that the killings amounted to genocide.
In October 2007, with elderly Armenian survivors from the era in attendance, the House Committee on Foreign Affairsapproved a resolution  that would do just that. The next step would be a vote before the entire House, something Turkey wanted desperately to avoid. On more than any other issue, Turkey, which has a U.S.-led war in Iraq on its border, is seeking help in a longstanding effort to join the European Union.
The genocide question split U.S. leaders. All eight living former secretaries of state at the time sent a letter warning Congress that offending Turkey could have serious diplomatic consequences for the United States. Both Barack Obama and his chief opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, were in the Senate; Clinton backed a resolution recognizing the genocide, and Obama made it a campaign pledge.
Turkey's lobbyists made contact with the executive branch 100 times in a coordinated effort to persuade congressional leaders to squash the resolution. The Livingston Group worked Congress. The firm's lobbyists contacted the office of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., author of the resolution, four times on Oct. 4 to arrange a meeting with Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy. A few weeks later, Sensoy was withdrawn in protest of the House's consideration of the measure.
Turkey didn't lobby just Congress -- the country hired foreign agents to promote the cause with people outside the administration, too. Noam Neusner, who served as a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, worked the powerful Jewish lobby, meeting with an array of groups including the influential American Israeli Public Affairs Committee  a combined 96 times to persuade them to oppose the resolution, FARA records show. Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel, and relations have been generally positive; but in the end, AIPAC supported the resolution.
On Oct. 26, 2007, some sponsors of the resolution backed off a full floor vote, and the legislation never advanced. FARA records quantify the effort Turkey's lobbyists put into the issue: 673 contacts in a single month, and more than 2,200 in the filings overall -- the most of any country.
In all, records show, Turkey spent $4.2 million to mobilize its lobbyists to influence a resolution that hinged on the single word --genocide. Some $1.9 million of that went to DLA Piper , a top-50 U.S. law firm that operates globally and has taken on such high-profile cases as the defense of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. The dispute demonstrates the power of labels --and the lengths to which a country will go to protect its world image.
Debtors' rights and human rights Turkey was just one of Livingston Group's successes.
Congo Although it is among the countries that rely most heavily on humanitarian aid, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)  turned to the firm for help getting protection from hostile creditors.
The impoverished country's problem involved so-called "vulture funds" -- investment vehicles that buy up defaulted debt from Third World countries at bargain prices and then use court systems, principally in the United States and Britain, to try to force debtor countries to make good on the entire obligation. The Republic of Congo was sued for $120 million by one such fund, Kensington International, which acquired the debt for only $1.8 million. (The case has since been settled.) The Livingston Group, along with two other firms, reported having 36 contacts with Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and her staff, including four meetings, one of which Waters attended, exploring legislative actions to limit the ability of vulture funds to sue. The effort paid off in June, when Waters introduced  the "Stop VULTURE Funds Act." Among other things, the act would make it illegal to use U.S. courts to sue poor countries for payments it defines as usurious.
The bill also had the backing of other developing countries, human rights groups and African states facing similar lawsuits, including Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the much bigger next door neighbor to the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), where the annual per capita income is only about $4,000 a year. According to FARA documents, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) spent close to $600,000 to pay for U.S. lobbying on vulture funds and other issues in 2008.
The republic wasn't the only poor African country with cash to buy K Street's help.
Ethiopia has a per capita GDP of only $800 and received $467 million in U.S. aid in 2007, according to the latest figures available. FARA records show that Ethiopia spent $2.3 million securing the services of three firms, including DLA Piper, to defend its access to U.S. money.
The focus of Ethiopia's lobbying was not on the amount of aid it was to receive, but whether it would come with obligations to improve its human rights record. The Bush administration saw Ethiopia as a key ally in the war on terror; members of the House, led by Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., the chairman of the House subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, wanted to use the financial support that came with that designation to prod Ethiopia toward democratic reforms.
Payne, joined by 85 co-sponsors , introduced a bill to do just that. Ethiopia's lobbyists had 138 contacts with congressional offices to oppose the bill. Although the House passed it, the lobbying offensive worked in the Senate, where the measure stalled.
A fight over independence
Morroco The Western Sahara  is an inhospitable patch of desert about the size of Colorado on Africa's Atlantic coast, with a population of about 400,000, a GDP of only $900 million, and an economy based on nomadic herding, fishing and phosphorous mining. It is also one of the last colonies in the world -- Morocco  annexed it a few years after Spain granted it independence in 1975 -- and the subject of 34 U.N. Security Council resolutions on the territory since 1999.
In late 2007 and 2008, the desert region was a top priority for Morocco's hired lobbyists. At issue was Western Sahara's autonomy, but the story also shows how, in a foreign lobbying arms race, the side with the biggest arsenal can come out on top.
The government of Morocco sought the support of Congress in this lengthy territorial dispute. The region has long demanded independence. An indigenous insurgent group, the Polisario Front , waged a guerrilla war against the Moroccan military until the United Nations brokered a cease-fire in 1991.
Part of the terms of that deal included holding a referendum to determine the territory's final status, but no vote has been held. In 2007, Morocco issued a proposal to grant Western Sahara autonomy within sovereign Morocco. The U.S. initially welcomed the proposal, and direct talks began between Morocco and the Polisario with the involvement of Algeria, which supports self-determination for the Sahrawi tribes from the area.
Toby Moffett, a lobbyist for Morocco who served as a Democratic congressman from Connecticut in the 1970s and '80s, wrote an op-ed for the April 8, 2007, edition of The Los Angeles Times,explaininghow he presented Morocco's position to an unnamed member of Congress: "Morocco has a good story to tell," he wrote. "It believes that the long-standing dispute with Algeria and the rebel Polisario group over the Western Sahara must be resolved.
"We tell the congresswoman and her staff that the region is becoming a possible Al Qaeda training area," he wrote. "Algeria and the Polisario recently hired lobbyists, too, so we'll have our hands full."
Indeed, records show the Algerian government's lobbyists had 36 contacts with members of Congress and staff promoting self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. The Algerians paid a modest $416,000 in lobbying fees.
By comparison, lobbyists for the government of Morocco had 305 contacts with members of Congress and their staff. Morocco paid $3.4 million in lobbying expenses -- putting it among the top foreign government spenders for FARA filings in the period.
The intense campaign won converts. A bipartisan group of some 173 House members signed on to a statement supporting Morocco's offer of autonomy for the region without formal independence. President Bush also expressed support  for Morocco's plan in summer of 2008. And this April, 229 representatives sent a letter to President Obama urging him to back Morocco.
Until Obama reversed Bush's stance  last month, Morocco's investment worked.
Powerful industry gets a bill Issues involving human rights and sovereignty are a minority in the FARA reports. By far most of the foreign lobbying involves matters of trade, taxes, tourism, aid or other economic matters.
So it was when Bermuda pitched beneficial legislation for its reinsurance industry. The Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers  includes 23 companies that together covered 30 percent of the losses from hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita in 2005. They make money selling policies to regular insurance companies to cover losses in catastrophic events. Together, they collect $61 billion in global premiums, according to the association.
The Bermudan government has long supported the industry with favorable regulatory and tax laws. When it sought further assistance from U.S. taxpayers, FARA reports show, it turned to Darlene Richeson , a former in-house lobbyist for Verizon.
Bermuda hired Richeson's firm in January 2007 to "develop a long term strategic plan on behalf of Bermuda focusing on the U.S. Congress and Administration" that would "ensure that all key Committees are penetrated and educated on issues pertinent to Bermuda's long term future, such as legislation regarding tax laws," according to the disclosure her firm filed.
Part of her strategic plan was executed over two and a half days in June 2008.
Richeson arranged a series of meetings for Bermudan Premier Brown and the U.S. Consul General, Gregory Slayton, with members of Congress, including Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., and Democrat Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means panel. They also met with Reps. Thompson and Butterfield, both of whom had received modest campaign contributions from Richeson.
In an interview with the Royal Gazette, Brown raved. "I feel even better about the way Bermuda is perceived and the sensitivity to our needs," he said, expressly thanking Slayton and Bermuda's lobbyists for setting up the contacts.
One day after a meeting with Richeson and the Bermudan delegation, on June 26, Thompson introduced a bill  in the House, later co-sponsored by Butterfield, to give homeowners and business owners in areas susceptible to hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters tax credits and other financial assistance to help reduce damages. Richeson has contributed to both members' campaigns.
Richeson declined to comment about the lobbying drive. Thompson's office did respond to requests for comment.
Butterfield's communications director, Ken Willis, described the legislation as "fiscally sound" and said that Butterfield's co-sponsorship had nothing to do with the meeting with Richeson. "While he does meet with Richeson from time to time," Willis wrote in an e-mail, "it was not what persuaded him to co-sponsor the bill. His interest in Bermuda stems from his father being born there."
Though the hazard mitigation bill didn't pass, members are still pushing it. Carper -- who also met with Richeson and the Bermuda delegation that June -- proposed an amendment to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the $787 billion stimulus bill, that called for hazard mitigation.
Although the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers backed the amendment - as did other insurers and some environmental groups  -- it ultimately failed. In the House, Thompson reintroduced his bill  this year. Further action is pending.
The Tactics Of Fear, Igor Muradyan, Lragir, 17/08/2009
Now is "dead season" of the political life in Armenia. Remarkably cool summer is the best time for the Armenian political class to forget about obscure insults of foreign political nature and "rinsing brains" on the eve of new Yerevan intrigues. Perhaps the most effective and adequate behavior of the Armenian political class would be permanent vacation, always, until they serve their full "term". Moreover, the viewers would also be in constant vacation drowsiness. Generally, in terms of national security it would be useful if the political class, including the parliamentarians, kept away from politics.
Apparently, however, someone is interested in stirring public moods, imposing public moods in Armenia, imposing absolutely invented and fantastic topics. Especially the so-called Regnum news agency is interested in this, which floods readers with materials with a distinct purpose, the authors of which are either Azerbaijanis or Russians who are introduced as political experts or analysts. These publications aim to hold the Armenian readers in constant fear, creating an atmosphere of psychosis, lack of confidence in the behavior of Russia as Armenia's partner, the indisputable military advantage of Azerbaijan, the geopolitical doom of Armenia, the inevitability of rapprochement of Russia and Turkey.
Such publications are naturally in the interests of Russia and intend to pressure on the Armenian society, annihilating resistance to foreign pressure regarding the Karabakh issue. It should be noted that Regnum and its sputniks managed to create such an atmosphere in Armenia, and those in Moscow who had ordered this provocation can celebrate another information victory on the Armenian political class. All this jabber is far from being true, Azerbaijan has no chance for military success and expectation of Ankara's or Moscow's approval for a possible military adventurousness. Regnum is not limited to its resources and multiplies its possibilities by creating new websites in Armenia which aim to invade the information sphere in Armenia and in the Caucasus. Surprisingly, no national or other mass media, including the electronic ones, wish to hit these provokers on the hand who feel to be so privileged in our country. Regnum acts both in Armenia and the Russian camp. What is this if not social and political harm?
They Will Be Paying From Our Pocket, Naira Hairumyan, Lragir, 18/08/2009
The Sukiasyan family has applied to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming 124 million euro. The Court may satisfy the claim, and it is not ruled out that the government will make amends to the Sukiasyan family. The question occurs where this money will be raised. According to the law, it is paid from the state budget, that is our purse which is filled with the taxes we pay and must be spent on salaries and pensions. The European Court will indict the state, which is not an individual. Meanwhile, in Armenia definite people make decisions on the Sukiasyan family, A1+, who will not suffer from the decision of the European court.
One or two years ago the Heritage Party proposed a bill according to which the state must not pay for the actions of government officials. The party proposed prosecuting those officials who committed crimes, inflicting losses on the state budget and taxpayers. According to the proposal of the party, the sum for paying the damage should be confiscated from the officials who inflicted losses on the state budget. The proposal was rejected for obvious reasons.
Hence, Armenia lacks legislation providing for responsibility for those government officials who inflict damage on the state and the citizens.
The examples are many, from the president to ordinary servants. For instance, the legislation contains no provisions that the judge, the notary or other official who cause material damage to a citizen must make amends. Even if the court admits that the official is wrong, he or she will get an administrative punishment, or fired at best. Meanwhile, damage will be paid from the state budget, at best.
For instance, who is going to pay hundreds of thousands of citizens for the artificial exchange rate? Even if the court confirms the major financial machination, for ordinary citizens it will be mere "justice prevailed".
The absence of responsibility underlies the structure of the government. For instance, the opposition demands the resignation of the president, whereas the Constitution provides for one way, voluntary resignation. In other words, if the president does not want to resign, nobody can make him do. Besides, if the president does something which is beyond his powers (such as signing an Armenian-Turkish agreement or returning five regions), he will not be even tried, because the Constitution bars. The only way is that the Constitutional Court accepts the application of the two thirds of the parliament and decides that the president is a traitor. Can you imagine this to happen in Armenia?
Meanwhile, it turns out that the Constitution does not provide for recalling a member of parliament. Try to recall a member of parliament you elected who does not protect your interests or does not show up at the meetings of parliament.
Here is a vicious circle: in order to change the government legislative mechanisms are needed to realize which it is necessary to change the government.
Matthew Bryza's Plans For Artsakh: Formula For Disaster For Armenians, Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier
Matthew Bryza, the U.S. mediator for Artsakh (Karabagh), discussed in great detail for the first time the critical issues dealing with the behind the scene negotiations on resolving that conflict.
Mr. Bryza is the U.S. Co-Chair of the Minsk Group and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. He delivered a speech on the Artsakh conflict at the International Center for Human Rights in Tsakhkadzor, Armenia, on August 7. Mr. Bryza's lengthy presentation, followed by an extensive question and answer period (19 pages), was transcribed by NEWS.am Armenian news agency.
While Mr. Bryza has regularly met with members of the media during his frequent visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan, often recanting in Yerevan what he reportedly said in Baku, he has never before disclosed the details of the settlement being negotiated between the presidents of the two conflicting countries and the three Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group, composed of France, Russia, and the United States.
The Armenian public certainly appreciates Mr. Bryza's willingness to discuss the terms of a future agreement on the Artsakh conflict.
Nevertheless, one wonders why was Mr. Bryza in such a talkative mood?
Was he preparing the Armenian public for the painful compromises that are to be made or was he trying to impress his Washington superiors with his negotiating skills, as he is being considered for an ambassadorial post in Baku?
Mr. Bryza began his remarks by stating that the negotiations for the settlement of the Artsakh conflict are based on the three fundamental principles of the Helsinki Final Act: Self-determination, territorial integrity, and non-use of force.
Claiming that the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan "right now are on the verge of a breakthrough," an assertion he has made many times before, Mr. Bryza proceeded to disclose a highly controversial roadmap of the agreement currently under consideration. Mr. Bryza stated that Artsakh would preserve its current status for an "interim period."
Armenians would then turn over to Azerbaijan most of the "seven territories" surrounding Artsakh. After the Azeri refugees who left Artsakh during the war return to their homes, a referendum would be held to determine the20final status of Artsakh.
During the question and answer period, Mr. Bryza stated that the Minsk Group Co-Chairs were disappointed that during their July 17 meeting in Moscow, Presidents Sargsyan and Aliyev did not come to an agreement "on several of the final elements of the basic principles," despite the fact that, during their January meeting in Zurich, they had "agreed on the basic concepts." He said he expected an agreement in September "on the last few elements of the basic principles that remain not yet agreed."
When asked if Azerbaijan was making any compromises, Mr. Bryza pointed out Baku's increasingly accommodating position on the Lachin Corridor which links Artsakh to Armenia, its concern for the security of Artsakh Armenians and their need to run their own affairs. Mr. Bryza further claimed that "Azerbaijan had to give up quite a bit from a position where it was in the beginning when it said it will never talk about self-determination. And, of course, to bring Azerbaijan to that point, Armenia had to give something up as well¦. So, both sides are making compromises."
Mr. Bryza defended the non-recognition of Artsakh by the United States, by pointing out that the government of Armenia has not recognized it either. He said that the reason Armenia does not recognize Artsakh's independence is that `it knows that if it does that, the chances to negotiate a peaceful settlement finish.'
In response to a complaint from the audience that Artsakh was left out of the negotiations, Mr. Bryza blamed its absence on the Kocharian government. "Until 1998, Karabakh Armenians were formally part of the negotiations, when it was the former government of Armenia who decided to change that situation. It was not the Co-Chairs who made the decision -- that was the government of Armenia," he said. Mr. Bryza did not mention the fact that Azerbaijan had rejected Artsakh's inclusion in the talks.
Responding to another question, Mr. Bryza made the surprising disclosure that the international peacekeeping troops to be stationed in or around Artsakh would not be armed, simply because they would not be able to compel the two sides not to fight, if they are intent on going to war against each other. He stated that "the Co-Chairs have to be smart and skillful enough to put at place a settlement in which the international peacekeepers will be primarily observers."
Mr. Bryza candidly told his Armenian audience not to trust the international peacekeepers to secure the peace in Artsakh. He also stated that a "legally binding" referendum to determine the status of Artsakh would be held in several years, after the original Azerbaijani inhabitants, who before the war constituted 20% of the territory's population, would return to Artsakh.
Mr. Bryza concluded by urging Armenians to accept "a compromise settlement now," warning that "a d ecade ago, Armenia was in a much stronger negotiation position!"
The terms of the possible settlement, as outlined by Mr. Bryza, is a disaster waiting to happen to Armenians. They are supposed to first turn over to Azerbaijan practically all of the territories surrounding Artsakh. Then the former Azeri inhabitants of Artsakh are to return, after which a referendum would be held on the status of Artsakh, under the watchful eyes of UNARMED international peacekeepers. If Azerbaijan, at a future date, uses its massive petrodollars to acquire sophisticated weaponry and invade Artsakh, particularly after Armenians have given up the buffer zones they are currently holding, the population of Artsakh risks being completely destroyed.
From the Armenian point of view, the only acceptable solution to the Artsakh conflict would be to either maintain the status quo or to agree to a package deal that would require Azerbaijan's recognition of Artsakh's independence and the establishment of a demilitarized zone on the Azeri side of the border, before giving up a single inch of land or allowing the return of a single Azeri refugee!
Turkish Politics Of Tight-Rope Walking, Odette Bazil Buckinghamshire, Uk
When Armenia engaged in its football diplomacy and invited Turkey's President Abdullah Gul to attend that match in Yerevan, a beautiful red, rip ened and juicy apple fell in Turkey's lap to flaunt it to the world as a token of goodwill in its dealings with its neighbors, a proof of its readiness for democracy and its worthiness for membership in the European Union.
That visit became the God-sent occasion for Mr. Gul to receive Pres. Obama in an apparently "clean house," where all spider webs, dirty linens, boarded windows and locked cupboards full of skeletons had been expertly hidden and out of public sight -- as housekeepers often do before the visit of an important guest.
Mr. Obama, with a broad smile, praised Mr. Gul for attending the football match, assigned to his host the responsibility to deal with what he labeled "the Medz Yeghern" and called for Turkey and Armenia to go forward in friendship and cooperation.
In retrospect, Mr. Gul "had to be praised" for he needed great courage to visit the very country whose borders he has closed because of a third country's claims, whose genocide, committed by his ancestors, he denies and whose usurped land he occupies. Great courage, impunity, and insensitivity.
The authorities in Armenia, concerned only to better the situation for the Armenian people, engaged in their football diplomacy genuinely believing what had been promised to them and had become already the subject of worldwide speculation: the opening of its borders "without any precondition." Such a speculation should have been replaced by the p rosecution of Turkey for violation of Human Rights in keeping closed the borders of a neighboring country.
It is interesting to note that up to Pres. Obama's visit, Mr. Gul's counterpart in Azerbaijan, Mr. Aliyev , kept silent and obeyed the order of the day: "do not rock the boat." Turkey became the darling of Europe and although not a full member of the Union, even assigned itself as its representative and offered to act as a goodwill negotiator between the West and Iran.
I attended a meeting organized by the British-Iranian Parliamentary Group on April 28 in Committee Room 5 of the House of Commons (British Parliament), titled: Briefing by His Excellency Mehmet Yigit Alpogan Turkish Ambassador to the Court of St James on: "The Turkey-Iran Relationship; is Ankara key to the West's engagement with Iran?" where 17 Members of the British Parliament and a large number of the Turkish Ambassador's entourage attended, exchanging smiles and congratulations, but where -- although this meeting had been organized to address an issue concerning Iran -- not even one Iranian was to be seen. It was blatantly evident that this was a meeting to be kept "in the family!"
The international media reported that Turkey was emerging as the Major Power in the Caucasus, millions of dollars poured in to help Turkey in its "exercise of democracy" and, worldwide, Armenians believed and hoped that the barbed wires at the borders would be cut, that the barriers would be removed and that diplomatic relations would resume.
Football diplomacy was in full swing for Mr. Gul and was bearing results beyond his imagination and wildest expectations.
Pres. Obama returned home, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dictated a new agreement, the major powers, hastily, drew a map which would protect their "oil and gas routes" and Mr. Aliyev received the green light to "rock the boat now" and insist on the Karabagh issue to become the precondition for opening the borders. A tight rope (very tight indeed) has been woven.
Can and will anyone walk on it¦and not fall?
Health, Absurdity and Math, Garen Yegparian
There are a lot of terrifying myths being floated by, mostly Republican, extremist, bought-and-paid-for-by-insurance-companies types about the health care reform being discussed by the U.S. Congress. Actually, with that body being in recess, the whole country is now engaged first-hand through the town halls being organized by its members with their constituents.
You’ve read, heard, and seen what is going on at these gatherings. The most extreme, or sometimes ill-informed, people, organized by anti-reform lobbying groups are sent to disrupt these meetings. So, the strategy of the anti-reform forces is obvious— sow fear, confusion, and disruption— resulting in sure failure. This is much like the Turks’ denial campaign, just plant a seed of doubt, and the dirty deed is as good as done.
You can get all this and more elsewhere. Here, I want to present and play with some numbers on this issue. Here goes.
The annual tab for healthcare in the U.S. is $2,500,000,000,000 (that’s two and a half trillion dollars.
We’re told the proposed plan will cost an extra $1 trillion OVER TEN YEARS. That’s a tenth of a, or .1, trillion dollars per year. Remember, the Bush tax cuts for the rich, earlier this decade, cost the same trillion, and benefited very, very, very, very, very few people.
Currently, the private system in place has about 20% overhead (read profit and avoidable paperwork).
The U.S. has 47 million uninsured people. It turns out that only 31 million would benefit from the proposals floating around. Why? The remainder is undocumented aliens whom the plans won’t cover according to President Obama.
So this means that for only 4% more annually (.1 trillion divided by 2.5 trillion) we can cover 10% more of the country’s population (31 million divided by 307.2 million, the current U.S. population estimate). This seems like a bargain to me. In terms of real dollars, this means a cost to the country overall of $326 per person per year. Or, in other terms, each newly covered person costs $3226.
All these numbers seem pretty cheap to me for what we’d get in return: far fewer emergency room visits (the most expensive kind of medical care) by people who wait until a condition is severe because they don’t have coverage; better overall public health since communicable diseases would be checked and contagion would be less likely; even the private sector benefits, since people would be able to have coverage independently of their workplace, reducing costs to employers/companies, many of which have problems competing with overseas firms because the latter’s countries DO provide publicly funded healthcare; the 20% overhead is eliminated because publicly run programs have no need for profit, just like Medicare, which senior citizens are largely satisfied with; this public plan would provide competition to the private insurance that would still exist, making the latter more efficient—after all, that’s what the moneyed class always harangues us about, “competition breeds efficiency, it’s the capitalist way, the market balances these things out”. With all this, no plan is perfect, this is planet Earth and its designers are human. But, it’s better by far than the current arrangement.
So why would anyone oppose this? Simple, they either stand to lose the boatloads of money they’re making at our expense, they’re ill informed and misled by their chosen sources of “trustworthy” information— Rush Limbaugh & Sarah Palin come to mind, or they’re simply extreme ideologues.
The vast majority of the population does not fit into any of these categories. The vast, overwhelming majority of the country’s people would benefit from health care reform. Remember Nataline Sarkissian (wasn’t that the result of a “death panel” provided courtesy of the much ballyhooed private medical insurance industry?) and decide accordingly. Then let your federal representatives know you support the health care reform principles espoused by Obama.
Just Do It!, With Rep. Adam Schiff, Hovanes Gasparian Uc-Berkeley, Class Of 2009
Even before arriving in Washington, DC, I knew that calling your Representative’s office to voice your concerns — whether it is on Armenian American issues or any other matter — is a very effective way to to call attention to an issue that you care about. There is an unwritten hierarchy of outreach efficacy – with the call being the most immediate, then the handwritten letter, the printed form letter, the personalized email and, finally, the form-letter email.
However, above all of this is the personal meeting – in Washington DC or the district – with the Member of Congress or Congressional staff. And unlike calls, letters and emails, preparation for a meeting is a completely different story.
Over the past several weeks, my fellow Leo Sarkisian Interns and I have been meeting with staffers from various Congressional offices urging them to cosponsor House Resolution 252, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Previously, I had attended other meetings with legislative assistants, for example, but always with a member of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) staff. However, after we spoke with the ANCA’s Executive Director Aram Hamparian and went through training and role plays with our coordinator Garo Manjikian, the time had come to fly solo.
With Rep. Donald Payne
My first meeting alone with a Congressional staffer was nerve-racking to say the least. I had done my research, both on the Representative and the topic, so I knew I was prepared. The staffer was friendly and the meeting went well. We went through the main issues of the Genocide resolution and discussed the broad spectrum of support for the legislation.
Since then it has gotten easier, and I’ve learned a few things:
1. Some staffers are more informed than others. Some of my fellow interns reported that they came across staff who had no clue about the legislation, let alone the Armenian Genocide. These meetings — in the district or in Washington DC – are an excellent educational tool on the topic of the Armenian Genocide and genocide in general. Staff change in these Congressional offices on a regular basis. There is always a learning curve – on any issue – so consistent follow up is key.
2. The Genocide deniers have become more aggressive in their activities on Capitol Hill. Some staff have even told us that they have received calls and letters in opposition to H. Res. 252. Whether a Member of Congress is supportive or opposes Armenian Genocide legislation, we need to continue to make our voices heard – phoning, emailing, writing, even setting up personal meetings. The Turkish Government is paying big money to lobby firms in the U.S. to deny the Genocide – and some firms are even instructed to advise Turkish American groups on an “informal” basis on how to oppose this legislation. That’s grassroots training on the Turkish Government’s dime. So we have to remain vigilant.
After the 10th meeting, you come to a realization. Through those 20 minutes with the Congressional staffer, I was contributing to furthering Hai Tahd, the Armenian Cause. It required preparation, but it wasn’t rocket science. Political apathy is far too prevalent.
Before this internship started, I knew that my fellow interns and I would be working at the epitome of grassroots activism. Looking back at the past eight weeks, I am only now realizing the full impact of our efforts. During our time here we launched an ongoing campaign on a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation (Chevron). We called thousands of constituents as well as their respective congressional offices. We met with various Congressional leaders as well as their legislative assistants, legislative directors, and even chiefs of staff. Our Summer 2009 Leo Sarkisian Internship class of seven interns managed to accomplish so much in so little time. I can only imagine what kind of potential impact we can have on Hai Tahd if we increased Armenian-American community participation in the political process even more. If we inspired a larger portion of the community to do what our interns did this summer – in their home towns. I have seen the direct impact of our community’s efforts this past summer unfold right before my eyes. Our actions DO make a difference
The saying goes, “If you want something done right, you must do it yourself.” As cliché as that might sound, this internship and this organization have made me realize not only how true that statement is, but also how synergistic the combined efforts of even a few grassroots activists can be. Now multiply those efforts by 100, 1000, 10,000, or 100,000.
So get off your couch and get involved. It’s as easy as an email, fax, phone call or. . . meeting with your Representative.
Secret Police Behind Dink Assassination, Slain Armenian editor Hrant Dink
ISTANBUL (Today’s Zaman)—The assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was fatally shot outside his office by an ultranationalist teenager, was the work of the secret gendarmerie intelligence unit, know as JITEM, whose existence has been denied by officials, according to a document included in the third indictment into Ergenekon, a clandestine gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
According to the document, seized from the computer of Turhan Comez, a former deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and a suspect at large in the Ergenekon trial, a man called Yusuf Ziyad, who is said to be a Kurd living in the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, says JITEM; retired Gen. Veli Kucuk, who is currently under arrest as part of the Ergenekon investigation; and the National Police Department were behind the Dink murder.
According to the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, “Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counterterrorism center [JITEM] is a wing of the Turkish Gendarmerie, active in the Turkey-PKK conflict. Officially it does not exist, however this claim is widely rejected outside official circles.”
It is also claimed in the document that Kucuk and another retired general, H.K., were behind a number of unsolved murders and terrorist activities in northern Iraq. On the 13th page of the document, Ergenekon suspects including Comez, retired Gen. Hursit Tolon, former National Police Department Special Operations Unit Deputy Chairman Ibrahim ?ahin, retired Gen. Sener Eruygur, retired Capt. Muzaffer Tekin, lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, former Organized Crime Unit Director Adil Serdar Sacan, Workers’ Party (?P) Chairman Dogu Perincek and journalist Yalc?n Kucuk are mentioned under the title of “Those leading these formations.”
In the indictment, a conversation between Emin Gurses, an associate professor who is currently under arrest as part of the Ergenekon investigation and another Ergenekon suspect, Lt. Col. Mustafa Donmez, also gives clues about the Dink murder. In the phone recording, Gurses tells Donmez, “The murder of Hrant Dink has been a good kind of warning to those people.”
I Am Not The Enemy…, Ani Hovhannisyan, 2009/08/17
I am from a country in need of peace. I was born in 1989, when the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out. The town of Sisian in southern Armenia, where I was born, lay 90 kilometers from the battlefield. My parents tell me that I was under my grandmother’s care for the first year of my life since they had operated on my father’s foot and that my mother had to take care of him. My mother’s eyes swell with tears every times she says, “When we returned from the hospital, you didn’t recognize us.”
Due to the operation, my father never fought in the war. By the age of four, kids my age were bragging that their fathers had fought in the war. I, on the other hand, was proud that my father never took up arms against another person nor killed a fellow human. He was busy raising me since my mom was working in the village store.
Every morning my father would turn the radio on and say, “Let’s see what the news from the front is.” I would ask, “Hey, pop, what war is it that all of you talk about?”
He would explain, “It’s the Karabakh war against the Azerbaijanis. We’re going to liberate our lands.” I didn’t understand what those lands were or what grew on them.
All that I understood about “war” was when we yelled “war-war” when we played our street games. But in our games no one died. They sometimes brought the war dead to our village.
We were playing in the courtyard one summer’s day when one of the neighborhood boys ran up to us and yelled out, “They’ve killed Vurg”. We stopped playing and stood there frozen by the news. All of us had heard of Vurg. They had told us that he was Sisian’s best fighter and it was because of him that the war hadn’t reached Sisian.
Thus, our hope had been killed and we had been left defenseless. I ran home to tell my parents exactly what I was feeling at the moment. Crying, I rushed inside and said, “I want to fight against the war…Vurg is gone. Now, they’ll kill us too…but why? Mom, say something…”
My mother embraced me and caressed my head, saying, “Lord, let there be peace”. I felt a strange sort of comfort when she uttered the word “peace”.
This was the first time in my childhood that I experienced what peace meant. All I knew was that I was much in need of it.
The ceasefire agreement was signed in 1994. It was on July 26 when the military leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh affixed their names to the bottom of the same document that would indefinitely preserve the situation of “no war, no peace”.
Due to the war and the effects of perestroika our country was in dire straits. We had to wait in bread lines. And if there was no bread we ate potatoes, barley or rice. I’d always plead with my grandmother not to take me along with her to wait in line for bread. I would rather eat barley than stand in line and watch the bickering and fights that broke out, or to see the anger in people’s eyes or listen to the women screaming and shouting at one another just for a piece of bread.
Because food was scarce there was a tense atmosphere everywhere you turned; even in my house. The smallest thing could trigger off an argument between my parents. I really felt sad hearing their bickering from the next room. I would have given anything for my parents not to be mixed up in that all encompassing war. I dreamt of seeing a smile on my mother’s face instead of that sullen and nervous expression. The war was everywhere; yelling and screaming…
The only place that I could go to get away from it all, not to hear a sound, was the small hut behind one of the stores on our street. I called my little refuge “peace” since I liked the word. I was convinced that the day would come when everyone else would come to love that word as well and that the whole world would become just like my little hut.
During my school years I got a better understanding of what war was all about, its causes and consequences. At the time, everyone was talking about how the Azerbaijanis were our enemies.
The concept of “enemy” was like a foreign body that they shoved into my brain. I couldn’t get used to the word, contrary to the other kids my age. I used the word because I could never get myself to pronounce it.
I felt uneasy even hearing others speak it. It conjured up things that were alien to my inner world and outlook on life. I wanted to know what the “Azerbaijani enemy” looked like. Could they also love and laugh? Whenever they showed an Azerbaijani on T.V., I would run and watch intently, trying to figure out what made them tick; what were they feeling inside.
My main goal became to one day meet up with an Azerbaijani; to talk to him and touch him. I asked my father what I would have to do to meet an Azerbaijani. He answered that it wasn’t an easy thing to do since only political officials and reporters got a chance to meet with them. Since I didn’t want to become a politician I decided to minor in journalism in school. I decided to major in music since my father was a musician. I take after him. After finishing high school it turned out that journalism came before music in my studies.
In 2006, I got accepted into the Department of Journalism at Yerevan State University. I began to look into the issue of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and started to write pieces about the Karabakh conflict.
A few months ago I got lucky. I was invited to take part in a program during which I got the opportunity to meet Azerbaijani reporters in my same age group in Tbilisi. My childhood dream had come true.
We were in the hotel when they told us that the Azerbaijanis would soon be arriving and that all of us would be traveling to Bakurian, a few hundred kilometers outside of Tbilisi. We would be in the same bus for some three hours. I felt very uneasy waiting to hear the sound of their bus. The bus soon arrived. As I made my way down the hotel steps I asked myself, “How should I greet them, what would they be like?”
I got into the bus and greeted them with a smile. They returned the greeting and I noticed that all 12 eyes were intently staring at me. It was a piercing gaze that I hadn’t experienced before. It was a gaze reserved for Azerbaijanis staring at Armenians.
Perhaps I was staring at them in the same way since I wanted to learn as much as possible about them from the first sight. During the entire ride they didn’t speak to us and I found this very worrying. I hadn’t felt so uncomfortable meeting people ever before.
When we reached Bakurian we all got together and at the urging of the program organizers we started to introduce ourselves to one another. We were all paired up with an Azerbaijani. Each mixed pair had to start expressing their feelings and such.
I was paired with Elshan. We talked about our work and our favorite things. It turned out that Elshan worked at a radio station just like me and that we enjoyed the same things. I started to see El (the nickname we gave her) not only as an Azerbaijani but as a colleague and fellow musician.
I copied down her favorite things in my notepad and she jotted down mine as well. It seemed like the ice had been broken. However, they never interacted with us outside the confines of the program.
The day before we were to return I invited El out for a beer. She begrudgingly accepted my invitation. That evening we talked about practically everything. We started with politics and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Of course, our views on the matter were quite the opposite. Later on, we tried to really open up and say what we thought about one another.
During this confessional conversation, El said, “Hard as I try, I can’t but see you as the enemy. From the time I was a child they kept telling me that Armenians are the enemy. While I always had difficulty getting used to the idea and never quite understood what was meant by ‘enemy’, nevertheless, like it or not, they filled my head with it…”
I also experienced what El had just described. It was as if the two of us had grown up the same person due to the war.
That evening I was alone in my room, trying to make sense of what happened that day. I couldn’t get passed the idea that I was perceived as the enemy by others. It was hard to accept that, regardless of what I thought or my views, from the day I was born I was the enemy to some and thus, I too had enemies…Wasn’t it possible to lead more peaceful lives? Wasn’t it true that I hadn’t chosen that which I had? All the while I had been dreaming of a life without enemies. It turns out that others see me as the enemy. The very notion made me angry. I looked at the piece of paper on which I had written some of Elshan’s favorite things and started to tear it up into tiny pieces. As I did so I muttered, “I am not the enemy”.
The next day in the bus I noticed that El had also ripped the page on which she had jotted down things about me from her notepad.
Why I'd rather be sick here than in U.S., Bob Hepburn, The Toronto Star, 20 August 2009
It is hard, these days, to turn on an American TV channel without seeing politicians or right-wing pundits ranting about how bad Canada's beloved medicare system supposedly is.
Their fear-mongering is aimed at frightening Americans and ultimately derailing President Barack Obama's proposals, timid as they are, to reform U.S. health care.
For weeks, Americans have been told that Canada pushes its sickest and weakest to the bottom of wait lists, that our health care is inferior, that it's the government that decides who lives and who dies.
Despite these attacks, the reality is that the overall quality of health care experienced in Canada is far better than in the United States.
If you have any doubt, just ask yourself this simple question:
Would you rather be sick here or in the U. S.?
For me, the answer is obvious.
I have worked and studied in the U.S. for a total of 10 years and, although I have received good care from American doctors and clinics, I'd much rather be sick here.
I'm not alone in feeling this way.
While some of us gripe about wait times and the shortage of doctors and nurses, a recent EKOS poll indicated 87 per cent of Canadians believe our health-care system is better than the U.S. model.
Why is our system superior?
First, it's universal. Everyone is entitled to treatment and they get the same level of care as a multi-millionaire. By contrast, in the U.S. the rich can buy top care and jump to the head of the waiting line.
But treatment for all other Americans depends on how much private insurance they have, or if they have any insurance at all, which 50 million don't.
Second, I visited doctors twice in the last week and never had to haul out my credit card or chequebook before I could see them.
Sure, I pay through my taxes, but that's far better than paying directly for every step of my care.
No Canadian winds up bankrupt because he or she had to pay for health care, which happens in the U.S., where private insurers often reject people with serious illnesses seeking coverage. Such incidents are so common that filmmaker Michael Moore easily made a documentary, Sicko, that focused on problems with the U.S. health insurance industry.
Third, the quality of care I got in the last week was unparalleled. Indeed, polls have consistently shown that more than 90 per cent of us are pleased with the level of care we have received.
Top surgeons at Toronto-area hospitals, for example, are as good as any in the U.S., and they treat patients based on need, not the size of their bank accounts. Nurses and other health professionals are well-trained, too, with standards often exceeding those in the U.S.
Fourth, many of our medical outcomes top those in the U.S. We live longer, our infant mortality rates are lower, our cancer and heart disease levels and the rate of low-birth weight babies, are better.
Fifth, I only had to wait several weeks to see a specialist. Overall, wait times for many procedures, such as hip replacements, are dropping dramatically now that more money and attention have been focused on the problem.
Sixth, I feel better knowing that part of my health dollars aren't going to line the pockets of fat-cat private health insurers, whose profits in the U.S. have equalled the total amount of money that Canada spends annually on health care for all its citizens.
Admittedly, our system is not perfect. There is a shortage of doctors and nurses, limited access to some diagnostic services, different levels of care in different parts of the country and rapidly rising costs.
But similar problems exist in every country in the world.
To address these issues, doctors at the Canadian Medical Association's annual meeting this week urged Ottawa and the provinces to look at increasing the use of private-sector operators in delivering publicly funded health care.
But allowing more private health care in Canada isn't the answer to our medicare shortcomings.
The way to resolve most of our problems is to spend more money. If anything, we don't spend enough. Canada spends just 10 per cent of its gross national product on health care while the U.S. spends a whopping 16 per cent.
If we spent as much as the Americans did, there would be no doubt at all about where you'd rather be if you became sick.
Papers Malta - Continuity Between The Union And Progress Committee And The Turkish Republic By Sait Cetinoglu, 22 August 2009, by Stéphane / armenews
Cetinoglu known Turkish historian is a specialist Young Turks, the CRF and Kemalism. He has published numerous articles based on original research in the Turkish National Archives. His book, Economic and Cultural Genocide 1942-1944, will be published soon in Istanbul.
The following text is the English version of the preface of the book documents in Malta, published by Vartkes YEGHIAYAN, Turkish. He was sent to the site Keghart.com by the author with a copy of photo exiles from Malta. This gesture of Sait Cetinoglu is very popular and is reproduced here to be known to the public with some minor drafting changes.
Documents Malta is undoubtedly one of the most revealing vis-à-vis the Armenian Genocide, which, although it is a reality that we do not want to see, one of the episodes most important of our recent history. Revealing the truth about 1915 is, in fact, to decode the secrets of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. That is why the period 1915-1923, the creation of the Turkish Republic, is where the research is the most difficult to perform because of legal obstacles opposed. Documents from Malta are most important for those who want to shed light on this period of transition.
These documents reflect what 150 officers and servants of the Ottoman government were responsible during the First World War. It is also the story of the extermination of a people and the seizure of their property under the conditions of isolation from war, the story of a new commercial and bureaucratic bourgeoisie built on the theft of wealth of this people. The records of witnesses and victims that can be found in these documents we convey a moral lesson. There are indexes that provide access to hidden truths of the founding of the Republic of Turkey and it is therefore understandable why so many efforts are made to let the events of 1915 into oblivion. We understand why Turkey would never be forced to recognize the Armenian Genocide. These documents also reveal the continuity between the Union and Progress Committee and the Republic of Turkey, as well as the historical roots of today's operations and corruption of the machinery of state in Turkey.
Being an exile in Malta was almost a privilege, since they are not called 'prisoners' but from exile. In reading their memoirs, we can see clearly that they do not really lead a life of prisoners. The description of the everyday life in Malta, according to the memoirs of Esref Kuscubasi is that of a life in luxury. Many inmates could escape easily, because they are allowed to do so. Many exiles in Malta were appointed to senior positions in government after execution of the sentence. When considering the pedigree of Malta exiles associated with these documents, you can see what were the real owners of the machinery of state. Four of the 50 governors, including major biographies have been published by the Minister of the Interior had been part of the exiles Malta, plus many others whose children and grandchildren have access to high government positions.
Malta documents give us the history of the tragedy of a people, the history of how the fate of the Armenian people was sacrificed to realpolitik. They are a manifestation of the immorality of the great powers, a lesson of how human rights were sacrificed to the imperialist interests and unprecedented example of a crime still unpunished. They describe how the crime of genocide is reflected in the impunity and how the way was open to new genocides. In 1939, Hitler expressed very clearly the incentive that could be learned from this tragedy. What happened in Algeria, the Anfal campaign against the Kurds of Iraq, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo and the atrocities in Darfur or Iraq today are the result of such impunity.
Among other things, the policy of 'neutrality' of Great Britain, adopted the first time on 16 March 1921 - Britain saw in the Ankara government a buffer against the Soviet Union - made him abandon the genocide in 'forget it, for its own imperialist interests. The Armenians were thus twice victims, having first suffered a genocide with the encouragement of an imperialist country, Germany, and then seeing the authors rewarded rather than punished, because the interests of another country imperialist Britain.
To track the exiled Malta, we studied the biographies of military and administrative authorities. We were not able to use documents issued by the General Staff as the biographies of the commanders of the War of Liberation is no registration at their place of employment in the period 1915 to 1917. We found that the stories of the lives of government officials in the affected regions of deportation are very interesting: they show clearly that the sheets of personnel records kaymakams and mutasarrifs (1) determined the future career of these officials. Those who practice these réprouvèrent killed, as was the case for Sabit Are Suveydi, Kaymakam alternate Besiri (annexed to a district of the province Diyarbekir) Nesim Bey, the Kaymakam Lice and Kaymakam of Derik. It was found in the official records of Ahmet Ferid, the Kaymakam of Foca, he was dismissed for having saved the life of Greeks in the Foca and have helped them escape from the island of Lesbos. Some officials revoked felt thereafter so threatened that they preferred to leave the country.
Our work on the personnel records of government officials who served in the deportation revealed that some of them were victims of unsolved murders and that no record existed giving details of the killings. For example, personnel records Mustafa Hilmi, the Mutasarrif Mardin, and those of Ali Fehmi Bey, a member of the Transport Committee established within the Directorate of Immigration and Integration in Aksehir, indicated that neither the reason the murder or murderers had been identified. The annotations in the form of personnel files of some employees who were killed later indicate that the murderers were Armenians' Komitaci '(2). For example, Nabi Bey, who served in the police Konya Kars is land for two years, suspected of genocide, was killed by Armenian activists in 1921.
However, most government officials who served during the deportation and whose names reappeared in documents of Malta, were later rewarded by their assumption of office in the state higher. It is not very surprising that those government officials who were involved in the genocide were the first to join the 'national struggle' which led the Republic. The most famous among them are the governors of Bitlis, Mazhar Müfit (Kansu), and Van, Haydar Hilmi (Vaner) and Halis Turgut, Deli Halit Pasha, General Pertev Demirhan, San Edip Efe, the member of Ardahan Hilmi.
As against the evidence of some government officials mentioned in the documents of Malta could not be found, in the absence of any record. The authors of genocide such as Salih Zeki, of the Kaymakam Develi in 1915 which was promoted as Mutasarrif of Deyr-Zor in 1916 and Asim Mustapha, the Kaymakam of Harput in 1914 to Akçadag in 1915 and 1918 were those who usèrent property usurped Armenians to escape prosecution. The law on the family, forcing every Turkish citizen to adopt a family name of western style, helped criminals hide their identity, allowing them to escape punishment. Recurrence of Veli Necdel in 1930 in Ankara as President of the Chamber of Commerce of (Ankara under the name Sunkitay, having served as director of the Post Office of Diyarbakir in 1915 and died Memduh Sermet, the Governor of Mosul in 1915 in a road accident while traveling to Izmir to start a new case, two examples are very significant in this regard. Bolu Habip He became a merchant proud Republican period, widely known as the 'bulgur magnate' (3). The fact that many of these suspects were converted in business by keeping them closer links is also a revealing detail in the recent history of Turkey and the law on surnames has greatly helped to hide their true identity.
Mehmet the Chemist, which later became known as Mehmet Eczacibasi, the source of the largest holdings of Turkey today is an example of Turkish businessmen who owe their fortunes to 'theft of non-Muslims. That is what led to the widespread expression in Turkey 'lehcir zengileri', the 'barons of deportation,' which refers to the truth about Anatolia as a paradise of barons deportation.
The heads of administrative bodies to places of deportation where the Armenians were driven and government officials operating in the premises of the Direction Générale de l'Implantation of Tribes and Immigrants (Muhacirin ve Asairin Mudurlugu Umum), (DGIIT ), the directions of political departments of public security and the offices of the food were the first to join the armed forces of national liberation movement Turkish. They were engaged in these tasks by the CUP for special missions, not a mere coincidence. For example Ahmet Nazif Gökeri Ministry of Food, Mustafa and Ahmet Faik Maruf Ustun were among the first who joined the armed wing of the liberation movement. There are other examples of members of the UPC who have been rewarded with prestigious positions in society: Ahmet Faik Gunday the Mutasrrif Malatya and elder brother of Ziva Hursit was appointed member of Ordu. Zagré Ibrahim, the mayor of Edirne and Head of the Department of Integration and also one of the founders of the party Teceddut created by former leaders of the CUP, used for many years as Mayor of Edirne and Chairman of the House Trade Edirne. Sukru Mehmet Yasin who was Kaymakam of Midyat, Malatya Trablussam between 1914 and 1917 and was later appointed Canakkale. Ahmet Esat Uras who led the local intelligence chief delegate and Political Affairs was first hired as Director of Public Security, then as governor and then as a member of the Turkish History Institution and a member of Parliament. Ali Haydar Yulug, the chief delegate of the local branch of DGIIT, took office following the mayor of Ankara, and Ali Riza Ceylon, the head of the Post Office of Van and Bitlis. Kadri Necip Ucok, took over as head of the mission and Sivas Mutasarrif of Palu and Mardin were appointed governor in various provinces. Mehmet Ata, who served in the deportation to the Post Office of Sivas and Yozgat to Mutasarrif were appointed as member of parliament and the Ministry of the Interior. There are many other examples, such as Sefa Ozler, Ismail Mustak Mayokam, Mehmet Vehbi BOLAKS, Mehmet Fuat Carim, Omer Adil Tigrel and Mehmet Fehmi Alta.
Those who were later prosecuted for their involvement in the genocide were also among the first to join the national movement. Among these, the most notable are Mahzar Müfit, Haydar Vaner, Arslan Toguzata (Police Chief Trablussam), Abdurrahman Seref Ulug Diyarbakir, Huseyin Guvendiren Tahir, Halit Sabanoglu Rifat, Rüstü Bozkurt, Ali Suuri the member Eskisehir and Sarkikarahisar, Mahzar Germen, Tevfik Aras Rüstü, Refik Saydam, Memduh Sevket Esendal, Yenibahceli Nait, Şükrü Saracoğlu and Huseyn Aziz (Akyurek), a member of the Central Committee of the CUP and was known as one of the planners of the genocide.
It was not an irony at all when the inmate of Malta Haci Adil Bey was admitted to the Faculty of Law of Istanbul and Resat Mimaroglu, a police chief, was appointed Chairman of the State, in Turkey, it is ultimately a routine operation: a leader of military coup in 1980 Has been available later a professor in the faculty and a police chief appointed minister of justice.
In addition, defendants were brought to Malta in the number of government and viewed a fee for 'services rendered to the Motherland'. We found their name in the'organigramme C "in the records of the government's budget of 1955. Among them was Nussret the Mutasarrif of Urfa, who was executed for his crimes during the genocide, Kemal, the Kaymakam of Bogazlayan, which was described as' national martyr, Yahya Kaptan who "fell martyr 'while serving as commander of the zone of Gebze, the former Minister of the Navy General Ahmet Cemal, Talat Sadrazam the former, the former governor of Diyarbakir Resit Seyhulislam (4) Hairi, Ziya Gökalp, Major Artillery died Riza, the Kirsehir MP Mehmet Riza Silsupur (Keskinli Riza), the member for Edirne Kaltakiran Faik, the member for Ganziatep Cenan Ali, the member of Istanbul Ustalar Numan, MP Ilyas Sami fly, governor of Bitlis Müfit Mazhar Kansu, Governor and MP Van Hayder Vaner, Feyci Pirinccioglu, Arslan Toguzata, Rüstü Bozkurt, Haci Bedir, Mahzar Germen, Suleyman Icoz Sim, Rauf Orbay, Eyup Sabri Akgol and Bekir Sami Kunduh.
The famous historian Murat Bardakci says: 'Actually, Ataturk's position on the Armenian issue is clearly expressed in the way of distributing goods (Armenians). He put the families of those killed by the Armenians in pay levels very high and he signed in person the instructions to the transfer of property seized at the Armenian people. The wife of Talaat Pasha received for "services rendered to the nation 'the highest wage. The same treatment was applied to women members of the Central Committee and with senior members of the Special Organization (Teskilati Mahsusa-i). The highest salary went to Mahpeyker Hanim, the daughter of Enver Pasha '
Exiles of Malta were rewarded with higher functions of the government. Some were appointed Prime Minister, other Ministers, or governors, or members of Parliament or similar functions. Two of the exiles from Malta Fehti Okyar Ali and Rauf Orbay was appointed Prime Minister. Others, Feyzi Pirincyoglun, Sukru Kaya, Abdulhalik Renda, Szref Aukut, Ali Seyit Ali Cenan, Ali Cetinkaya were appointed to duties of office. Many of the exiles in Malta later became Governor General in the army. Similarly, on their return to Anatolia, there were a number of former exiles from Malta who were appointed members of parliament.
Exiles of Malta were not the only ones to play a role in the founding of the Republic, their children and grandchildren have continued to serve important functions to this day. The son of two exiles from Malta sat in the office of 'restoration' of Inonu formed after the military coup of 27 May 1960. Celalettin Uzer, the Minister of Development and Housing in the Cabinet Inonu, was the son of Hasan Tahsin Uzer, who was the nephew of Vefik PIrinccioglu and Enver, Minister of State in the same cabinet, the son of state Fevzi Pirinccioglu , who was the nephew of Ziya Gökalp. It is interesting to note that the grandfather was one of the key characters of the massacres of 1895, that the son was one of the founders of the Republic, and the grand-son was a member of the Cabinet of 'restoration'. Brother-in-law of Enver, Kazim Orkay was Chief of Staff in 1944-46 and chairman of parliament created after the restoration succession military in 1960. General Fahri Ozdilek, a member of the Organization and Special Assistant to the famous commander of the special Fuat Bulc was one of the organizers of the coup d'état of 27 May 1960 and was appointed senator restoration. Suat Hayri Ürgüplü, one of the first ministers' intermediate 'and also former minister, was the son of Seyhulislam Hayri Efendi and a symbol of continuity between the UPC and the Republic.
We believe that the reader will find many of these names mentioned in the section of Diyarbekir very familiar. To begin, note that Aksus and Goksus two families are closely related and that little son of Haci Aga Bedir now sit in parliament as MPs.
In addition, many exiles from Malta and the founding of the Republic have common ancestors. For Suleyman Nazif Pirinccioglu, Gokalp and Germen were parents. The same was true for Tahsin Uzer, Enver, and Kazim Orbay Cevdet. Ubeydullah Efendi was the uncle of Esaft Mahmut Bozkurt. Huseyin Tosun was the brother of Dr. RESIF and Abdullahik Renda was the brother-in-law Talat. A lot of Malta were exiled from classmates, which reveals the community of their social origins.
In summary, the documents of Malta we offer evidence of continuity between the UPC and the Republic, where you can trace the roots of genocide.
Knows Cetintoglu, 15 July 2009
Translation Béguian Gilbert
1) Kaymakan: Sub-provincial governor, head of a district.
2) Mutasarrif: collector of taxes the district person living in an illegal
3) The bulgur is a by-product of very hard wheat used in Mediterranean cuisine.
4) Title of the higher authority in matters relating to Islam. It may interpret the laws in the redrafting in others.
The New Byzantium, Baron Bodissey, January 10, 2006
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
— from “Sailing to Byzantium” by W.B. Yeats (1927)
The fall of ConstantinopleIn the late spring of 1453 the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II besieged and overthrew the city of Constantinople, ringing the curtain of history down on the Byzantine Empire.
Mehmed was completing a process begun more than two centuries before. Decade after decade the Turks had nibbled at the edges of the empire, and now, as the marches of Byzantium tightened until they enclosed scarcely more than the capital city, the Sultan prepared to take the final bite.
The event was long expected within the city. Many inhabitants had fled to Venice or other points west; those who remained either had no place to go or were too brave or too foolhardy to leave. The last Christian days of the city were spent in a twilight of foreboding, with citizens laboring to shore up the defenses along the walls or melting down the gold ornaments from churches and cathedrals in order to make coins to pay the soldiers defending them.
By superior force and ingenious stratagem the Turks breached the defenses and overran the city. After the statutory three days of murder, rape, and pillage, the Turks controlled the city and the Sultan prepared to turn it into Istanbul, his new imperial capital. The Hagia Sophia became a mosque, the surviving Christians were forced to pay the jizyah, and the last outpost of the Roman Empire came to an end.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The fall of ConstantinopleThe word “Byzantine” came to its modern meaning with good reason. It connotes elaborate bureaucratic complexity, subtle political intrigue, and a cynical and amoral style of living, all of which were characteristic of the Empire in its last stages. The Byzantines had access to the superior technology of Europe, but they lacked the cultural vitality of the Turks. Just as the barbarian Goths had overthrown the more powerful and sophisticated Romans a millennium earlier, so the Islamic barbarians overthrew the more civilized capital of Eastern Christendom.
A few generations later the Sultan’s heirs would succumb to the same weaknesses as their Christian forebears, and Turkey eventually became the “sick man of Europe.” But in the 15th and 16th centuries the Turks had their moment in the sun. Istanbul became the center of the most sophisticated culture in the world, and the Sultan’s court was the most important seat of power of its time.
Not that all of the Byzantines lacked strength of character. The last Emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XI Drageses, died with a sword in his hand fighting for Constantinople, as did so many others. But the larger processes of history were against him, and the culture of the Eastern Empire was not strong enough to stand against the vigor and might of the Ottoman Turks.
The Turks were the most recent in a series of nomadic invaders migrating to the West from Mongolia via the steppes of Central Asia. As they passed through Persia they converted to Islam before arriving in Anatolia. The Ottomans were most powerful and successful of the Turkish tribes, supplanting the Seljuks and eventually subduing all of Anatolia, as well as Arabia, Egypt, and North Africa.
All through the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries the Turks pressed on into Europe, overrunning Greece and the Balkans, taking Hungary, and threatening the heart of the Holy Roman Empire in Austria. Sultan Süleyman I was determined to conquer Austria and become dominant in Europe, and for a while it seemed inevitable that he would. But in 1683 the Europeans somehow managed to overcome all their internal strife and betrayal long enough to unite and throw back the Turks at the gates of Vienna. After that the Ottoman tide gradually receded.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The fall of ConstantinopleThe Sultan of the Turkish Empire, in addition to his political office, held the title of Caliph, and was charged with the protection of all Muslims. This was the Turkish justification for many of the Ottoman military incursions: defending the faithful. Even the attacks on other Islamic states were rationalized as necessary to return apostate Muslims to the true faith.
Raising our gaze from the 15th century to the 21st, we see that the Ummah — the collective of all Muslims — lacks a Caliph. Osama bin Laden had his ambition for the position, and so may Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Each of them has viewed himself as the defender of all Islam — the true Islam, that is; the pure faith of the first four Caliphs.
Does our time also lack its Byzantium? Or do we have our own Constantinople, just waiting to have its walls breached by the siege engines and cannons of the barbarians?
The political culture at the center of the greatest world power is certainly Byzantine enough. Betrayal and intrigue; corruption and excess; a lust for power at the expense of anything else: all these we have in abundance.
Perhaps we are currently reprising 1453 rather than 1683, and this blog should be called “Walls of Constantinople” instead of “Gates of Vienna.”
And, although they spread a vile culture of death, the barbarians gathering outside the walls are certainly vital. They are vigorous and fecund, and plan to breed more Muslims than we do Christians or Jews or Hindus or atheists. From a military or technological standpoint they have no chance. But when the cities of Europe empty of Europeans, and fill up with Turks and Somalis and Arabs and Pakistanis, who wins?
In a much-noted essay last week, Mark Steyn discussed the demographic disaster facing Europe as its native population fails to replace itself and Islamic immigrants move in to sustain the swollen welfare state. In two or three decades Europe will become unrecognizable if present trends continue, and by the end of the century will no longer exist as we have known it.
Referring to Ireland, Yeats said, “That is no country for old men.” Yet Europe is fast becoming a country of nothing else. Those dying generations at their song of self-indulgence and luxury are coming to end, one way or another. So what will come next?
As Mr. Steyn repeatedly asks, “What do you leave behind?”
We monuments of unageing intellect in the blogosphere should consider carefully our answer to this question. We can leave behind a strong and civilized culture, or we can leave an archive of material to picked over by our Muslim successors while they blow up all our infidel monuments.
As Yeats wrote in the final stanza of his poem,
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
Baron Bodissey | 1/10/2006
may 29 1453
the 29th of may 1453, marks one of the darkest days in the history of europe and the world, constantinople, the city of cities, the crown jewel of christendom, fell into the hands of the ottoman turks. you may find more at the "gates of ...
posted by vetdino @ 5/29/2007
Blogger Jeff said...
Here is a passage from Baudolino, by Umberto Eco. Granted, Eco was writing about the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Crusaders. But, there's a passage I thought applied to 1453 as well.
"O Constantinople, Constantinople! Mother of churches, princess of religion, guide of perfect opinions, nurse of all learning, now you have drunk from the hand of God the cup of fury, and burned in a fire far greater than that which burned the Pentapolis! What envious and implacable demons have poured down on you the intemperance of their intoxication, what mad and odious Suitors have lighted your nuptial torch? O mother, once clad in gold and imperial purple, now befouled and haggard. And robbed of your children, like birds imprisoned in a cage, we cannot find the way to leave this city that was ours, nor the strength to remain here, but instead, sealed within many errors, we roam like vagrant stars!"
Blogger Mussolini said...
Muslims are already within the gates.
The West further believes that Islam will turn all warm and fuzzy when muslims see that we're desperate to "include" them. In our lust for tolerance (of anything), we will welcome the murderers while they murder and behead us. Note France, Sweden, Denmark, Britain, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands for examples already of Islamic rejection of "tolerance."
I engaged several thoughtful discussions with conservatives who were horrified that I proposed deporting muslims en masse. They were speechless that I thought "disenfranchising" voters was a good move.
Islam is a political murder cult. We would not have invited nazis to vote in our political process for the purposes of destroying it. The"moderate" muslims of America (CAIR) have stated that they have zero intentions of ever living beside other systems of government; their goal is to replace the constitution with sharia law. And those are the "moderates."
Hell. The only people talking about moderate muslims are infidels. Islam does not and cannot believe in peaceful co-existence.
There is no longer any "front lines." Muslim murderers are already in every Western country and practicing their murder.
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...
Bill -- I mean Duce -- stop being so thick. I know the enemy is already among us; that's part of the larger point of my post.
But he hasn't yet breached our cultural wall -- if he had, our women would be veiled and our churches would be mosques. We still have a little time left.
Blogger Mussolini said...
Thick? I didn't think I was being...
I was ranting like a good little Mussolini. If you thought I meant the "idiots" comments for this site and its readers, well, that's where you mistook me.
This site is one of those gems in the blogosphere that recognizes the danger. My comment was for conservative posters on other sites.
Hell, you read every post don't you? I haven't had any kind of a voting discussion here. That particular one I had at Ace of Spades, of all places.
Yes, we have time. Our politicians will refuse to see the danger, but us Westerners are a pretty bright bunch. Well, at least the masses are. Our reaction will require a few more tens of thousands of innocent deaths before we wake up.
I cheered when average Australians took matters in their own hands and battled the muslim gangsters. Call me a radical; I don't care. I cheered.
I can see we're on the same page, Baron. Just throwing my few cents around alongside yours.
Blogger ik said...
I think that what lead to the downfall of the Ottoman empire was that a path to India was found around the Cape of Good Hope (Vasco Da Gama), so the Ottomans could no longer "tax" the trade between the East and the West along the Silk Route. - less money to wage dawa and jihad so less ability to do damage (remind you of something more current;) )
An interesting fact about
The discovery of the new route
"in 1498 he picked up a Gujarati sailor sufficiently familiar with the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea to lead him on to the seaport of Calicut in southwestern India."
My "feelings" are that the Byzantines are poor misjudged victims ;) - civilized people throughout history have _ALWAYS_ lost to the Barbarians - my thoughts it has nothing to do with "cultural vitality" (if you have 100 barbarians and 100 civilized people only 10 of the civilized will specialize in war whereas all 100 of the barbarians will specialize in war - with no "force multipliers" (m/c guns, awacs etc) in those days the battle would always be lost by the civilized people.
"But in the 15th and 16th centuries the Turks had their moment in the sun. Istanbul became the center of the most sophisticated culture in the world"
I guess the Chinese/Japanese would probably disagree with that statement
Blogger ik said...
link about Vasco Da Gama
Blogger Wally Ballou said...
Excellent summary, Baron.
I work with a Greek Cypriot who is now a loyal and happy American, but he has a long and bitter historical memory, as many Greeks do (and few Americans are capable of). He loathes the Turks, and with good reason - he saw his school classmates raped, brutalized and murdered during the takeover, and his family was run out of their ancestral home. However, for him it's not all about Islam. He remembers the implicit complicity of our modern Metternich, Henry Kissinger, and going deeper into the mists of memory, he knows that it was not the Muslims who first raped and sacked Constantinople, it was their brother Christians, fighting under the cusader's cross. In hoc signo vinces, indeed.
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...
You're right about the crusaders. In fact, the Western church promised to come to the aid of Constantinople, but never showed up. The Emperor had actually gone to Rome and signed a document to reunite the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity under the Pope, all in order to gain help for his city (and did so against the wishes of a large number of his people, I might add).
One of the ways that later Sultans made such headway in Europe is that they poured a lot of financial aid into the Protestant groups (Harvard and Georgetown, anyone?). Some question whether Luther could have succeeded without the Sultan's help.
The fractiousness of the Christian world has always been the norm. 1683 and John Sobieski were the exception.
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...
You're right about alternate trade routes to the East -- the Portuguese did immense damage to the Turkish economy by going around Africa.
But I still think the Turkish empire was the most powerful & sophisticated in the world in 1500. The heyday of the Chinese empire had passed.
Japan I'm not so sure about -- I'm not well-informed on Japanese history. Maybe one of our commenters will jump in.
Blogger psaras said...
Let's not forget that a lot of local people, including mny classes of Greeks, from merchants to farmers where happy to be rid of the overlords from the west, including hard core feudal and repressive Franks on land, and Genoese and Venetian in the eastern ports.
this is not to say the Ottomans were benign, they weren't. But since the Crusades, espcially the Fourth, the forced concessions (and monopolies excluding Greeks) to the Venitians Genoese traders and Frankish mercenaries had utterly disenfrachised most of the Greek population.
The West insisted on conversion to Catholocism and complete loss of political, cultrual and economic autonomy in return for assistance against the final onslaught of the Ottomans. The Byzantines considered this a prfound betrayal since from their point of view they had been standing on the border defending the west all those centuries. The aid of course never came, the Venetians and genoese were already busy negotiation with the Ottomans to keep their monoplies.
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...
Yes, the enemy is over the walls, at least in Europe but he has not prevailed yet. We must make his progress as protracted and as difficult as possible, in any way that we can.
I agree with Hanson, though, that we cannot, in the long run, survive here in America as a civilization withouth Europe. If we cannot save Europe from itself, in the short run, then we must plan, over the longer term, for the Reconquista.
I think the Reconquista is what to shoot for, because I don't think we're going to be able to reverse things before the Euros crash. We must begin, first, here at home, and work on ways and means to defeat and isolate the do-nothings, defeatists and barbarians within our own walls; then figure out how to get back into Europe.
As for the Byzantines/Eastern Romans, the fall of Constantinople was only the end of a long process -- but the proximate cause of the final collapse was the lack of a field army.
Saw somebody mention Sobieski. Now there was a splendid soldier.
"Gold may not get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can always get you gold."
Blogger Mark said...
One of the greatest problems that we face today in our battle to keep the West western and stop it being Islamized is this: Because of all the PC laws that have been passed, we are being forced 'to fight the battle' with our hands tied firmly behind our backs.
It has been mentioned that time is still on our side. Yes, I agree with that; but only if the powers that be are prepared to take bold steps. Thing is: Can anyone imagine the European politicians of today (and in this I include UK politicians, too) having the courage to take the necessary decisions to solve this problem? A problem, by the way, that can only get bigger and more difficult to solve the longer it is left to fester.
People and their leaders have become too soft - and yes, too tolerant, Mussolini - for their own good and well-being.
If this is an example of the ancient Chinese curse of Confucius 'May you live in interesting times!, then give me boring times, every time!
Blogger unaha-closp said...
Forget about Europe, why would we want that? Its cold and wet and full of French people. What the west needs is to secure lots of oil, set up a monopoly and live of the fat.
We should do what the Turks did - capture the Gulf, kick the Arabs down to the level of serfs and exploit the oil.
Blogger Mussolini said...
Turkey used to be ours (Christian). So did Egypt, Iran and Iraq.
Yeah, why can't we reclaim our lands? We reclaimed half of France and all of Spain... some of Italy.
Blogger El Jefe Maximo said...
Don't worry about "PC" and being forced to fight the battle with hands tied behind our backs.
True for a time. Patience is in order...our enemies are going to do all the arguing for a harder line that we need.
Blogger Mark said...
el jefe maximo:
I hope you're right!
Blogger Cobalt Blue said...
What a great post.
As for whether we still have time to turn back the barbarians--try as I might, I can't see how we do. We can educate our children (assuming we have them), we can discuss these things with our friends, and we can vote for the lesser of two evils. But the overriding power, the power of the lotus, to lull people to sleep is so strong . . .
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...
Stuart, thank you.
I'm not as dyspeptic as Mussolini, but I'm afraid he may be right: a whole lot more of "us" (i.e. affluent Westerners) will have to die before we take the menace of jihad seriously.
I hope I'm wrong...
Blogger Mark said...
Unfortunately, at the very time that Islam has gained so much in strength (largely through oil wealth), Westerners have become oh so 'touchy-feely'. For 'touchy-feely' read wimp-like!
Blogger Pim's Ghost said...
Fabulous article about Occupied Asia Minor and the horrors that have plagued my family's native land ever since the muslims set foot in it.
I, too, was fascinated but disheartened by Steyn's article, but I do think that there can be a rally still. Especially in light of the now infamous cartoon madness. Many Europeans I know are split on this issue, but some speak of migrating to the US and continuing the fight here.
The study of Byzantium and its history are much neglected and I love seeing any commentary along these lines. I wrote a comparison to our situation with that of the Eastern Empire, as it was, in response to the all too familiar "We are Rome" comparison. I too believe us to be far closer to the position of the Byzantines, I am just awaiting all too impatiently for a leader to emerge. Well, to emerge and not get shot in the middle of the street!
Blogger nikita said...
it should be noted, that Eastern Empire collapsed in 1204 during fourth crusade: what existed for the following two centuries was a mere shadow of its former self.
Muslims turned Hagia Sophia into mosque? But crusaders turned it into a horse stable. It was at 1204 when preceless greek manuscripts were used as a fuel, churches desecrated, nuns and votaresses raped by their fellow christians. It was fourth crusade that delivered the final blow to the Greek culture.
Blogger friendlysaviour said...
Europe will be the battle ground for the survival of the descendants of Greek, Slav, Frank, Roman, Celt, Vikng, Norman. "Pale-faces"
Without external influence, war will be long and difficult,
We will be called the terrorists.
Nature has surprises in store though.
When we are cold, when we are hungry, when we cannot work, drive or turn on a p c, then our minds will be concentrated.
Nothing exists for too long without change. The hungriest wolf will preserve the bloodline of the wolves.
When bellies are empty and wracked with pain, then we will see who are the better wolves.
Todays islamic avante garde are well prepared. Already they are well stocked with weaponry, more so than authorities.
Blair and the Euro leaders know that without the will to do battle on our streets, and to train and arm a new home-guard, we are lost. The authorities do not have the personnel or materiel to withstand the insurrection of a vast mass of population. Our leaders know only how to bend and perpetuate the laziness and careless consumption of our modern society.
What is it that occupies the attention span of our citizens?
The opiates of sport, pop-idol, celebrities, drugs, booze, licentius behaviour of all forms.
It has made us weak. The enemy knows this. They despise us for this.
Sponsored by duplicitous pocket- lining politicos on a gravy train to oblivion.
THAT is why we are deemed easy meat for our enemy.
Don't you think they are the enemy?
I have seen a 30ish year old moslem pakistan drive his car (an open top black Mercedes) into a parking-place of an elderly British lady as she began to reverse.
This was in full view of security cameras in an outdoor car-park at a major town-centre shopping-mall.
When the old lady got out of her car and asked (politely) why he had been so rude he said this to her,....
"You f*cking white whore. Go an f*ck yourself"
When this plucky old lady said that he was "a very rude man", he turned to her and said
"What are you going to do about it, white-bitch?"
"Who is going to help you?
"THe whiteman is finished. You will be at crawling at our feet soon"
"The white man is dead meat, whore"
Because she was old, he turned and walked away, cursing. The security camera saw everything. The lady was distraught, I tried to comfort her,nobody came out, nothing more was done. It was reported. The police said that unless she was prepared to go to court, nothing could be done. Who wants to die in their home one night? The police will not protect the British citizen. They will turn away from going after muslims. They are afraid. the best you will get is a telephone number to speak to a charity called "Victim Support", volunteers who hum and hah and try to make you feel better.
Our leaders are guilty of dereliction of duty, The police are afraid to tackle the problem
Eight years of hate speech and collecting guns and ammo and Abu Hamza, radical imman gets Seven years. He will be out on licence in less than four.
His family will continue to get free-living from the state.
Do British white folk know what is going on.
Yes of course they do. But it is a crime to speak about these matters.
We have been let down by these leaders of ours.
Why did we expect ant different.
If the New Right of the bnp or others survives, then they will seem like saviours one day.
Those british muslims that live a peaceful, quiet life will suffer with the jihadists. We will all suffer.
There can be no other answer. Moderation will encourage even more defeat.
Resentment is growing. A festering sore must burst one day or the body will be poisoned and die.
We are approaching difficult times.
Blogger George Carty said...
I believe the reason why the British authorities dithered with respect to Abu Hamza is because they feared he'd be more dangerous inside prison than outside. Many Muslim terrorists (including al-Zarqawi) were criminals who were introduced to extremist takfiri ideology while behind bars.
All these comments about popular culture are all well and good (though one ought to mention too the role of MAD in discrediting traditional martial values), but according to most of the people here, the West's sole real weakness is that it views ethnic cleansing as a crime...
Blogger alexius comnenus said...
finally, a forum where I share the exact same thoughts as other people!
my peers regard me as no different to these islamic extremists, particularly because of my fears of islamic domination of christian lands by the salafists.
then 9-11 came and i was vindicated.
humility aside, ive read voluminous books on byzantium, truly sad and almost (but not quite) inevitable doom of the empire.
Blogger JDvK said...
I'm afraid I must disagree with several of the above opinions.
Blogger Joseph said...
I have studied religion, history, and Islam since high school in the 70s. I saw 9-11 coming long before most had any idea--but no one listened.
I now write books about Christian military heroes of old. You can view them on Amazon.com & Barnes&noble.com
I concentrate on the clash of the cross and the crescent. I want to write a third, but need to sell more of the first two to be able to do that. My books have been well received and applauded in Christian circles, but have faced scorn in the PC crowd that controls the media. They prefer pro-Islamic books, and books about homosexual charactors. I only want to tell the truth. I plan my next book on Constantine XI. Please take a look at my first two.
(1) The Hero of Byzantium
(2) Hospitaller: A Tale of the Unknown Knight in the Third Crusade
You can read sample chapters on line. I need help with these in order to write more on the truth of islam and its violence toward jews, Christians, and Hindus.
Blogger Marco said...
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Blogger Marco said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Blogger Marco said...
The byzantines recieved the fatal blow from their supposed "christian brothers" which invaded the byzantine territory and capital in 1204 to support a political faction against another and exploited this chance to take over the Byzantine Empire.
Europeans recieved the fatal blow from their supposed "western brothers" from overseas which invaded Europe in 1944 to support a political faction against another and exploited this chance to take over Europe.
After 1204 the byzantines struggled to recover their power and sovereignity but they managed to do it only partially and were too weak economically and militarily to resist the muslims.
After 1944 the europeans have struggled to recover their power and sovereignity but they have managed to do it only partially and are too weak economically (the dependance from oil), too weak psychologically (the NEVER AGAIN ideology) and too weak demographically (the low birthrate thanks to US supported femminism, sexual liberation, consumerism) to resist the muslims.
It's funny how history repeats itself just with slight variations: this time however the backstabbing "brothers" are collapsing even faster than the new Byzantium, submerged by their local version of the muslims, the Latinos.
Turkish-Armenian Relations And Others, Doğu Ergil @Todayszaman.Com
The Turkish press is rife with news that Armenia is backpedaling in its commitment to realize the expected Armenian-Turkish rapprochement, for President Serzh Sarksyan of Armenia declared that he will not visit Turkey during the next World Cup qualifying game to return Turkish President Abdullah Gül's visit to Armenia back in 2008.
The Turkish position that may have led to the opening of borders between the two countries has been fundamentally altered with the opposition of its close ally, Azerbaijan, which protested the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations until the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is solved and Armenia returns the 20 percent of Azeri territory that it has occupied since the war that took place between the two countries in the early 1990s. In May, Ankara, under pressure from Baku, linked the reopening of its border with Armenia with a comprehensive solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Turkey had closed its Armenian border in 1993 in support of Azerbaijan, which it called a “kin country” in official and popular parlance. Needless to say, Azerbaijan holds the key to Turkey's bid to be an energy hub for petroleum and gas pipelines that will extend from Asia to Europe.
American lawmakers claim that normalization talks between Ankara and Yerevan were supposed to evolve over a “road map.” However, Turkey stalled the process, which was supposed to take place without preconditions. Indeed, Turkey and Armenia signed a document on April 22, pledging to work to normalize their relations. Although their road map has not been made public, sources said it includes the setting up of full diplomatic relations, and, more importantly, the reopening of the two neighbors' land border, which has been closed for 16 years.
Over 80 pro-Armenian members of the US House of Representatives recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama complaining that Turkey is failing to keep its pledge. The congressmen said in the letter that Turkey was in violation of the April deal with Yerevan. Their impression is that even though “the government of Armenia remains committed to this road map and has long offered to establish ties with Turkey without preconditions, Turkey's public statements and actions since April 24 stand in sharp contrast to this agreement and undermine US policy that normalization take place without preconditions” and “within a reasonable timeframe.”
Eighty-one of the 435 members of the House of Representatives known to be pro-Armenian signed the letter sent to President Obama in July. It is these lawmakers that want to pass an “Armenian genocide resolution” pending in the House after Congress reopens in September.
On the home front, relations between Ankara and Yerevan are not getting better. The “soccer diplomacy” initiative appears to have lost momentum. Yerevan seems to be preparing to get “tough” with Ankara. The first sign came with President Sarksyan's declaration on July 28 that he would travel to İstanbul for an Oct. 14 World Cup qualifying match between Turkey and Armenia only if agreements are observed and border gates between the two countries are opened. The Armenian opposition and the critical Armenian diaspora, which has effective leverage on Yerevan, loved this statement. They believe that reconciliation with Ankara is against Armenian interests and will not provide the diplomatic impetus to open up the borders. They believe that President Sarksyan had made every effort to re-establish diplomatic ties with Turkey and have the border reopened, without insisting on conditions for rapprochement. But the Turks have declined.
Opposition spokespersons are bold, for they have nothing to lose, making statements such as “Armenia should have ceased talks immediately after Turkey's statement about Nagorno-Karabakh” or “President Sarksyan's declaration is better late than never.” Yet more balanced commentators say, “Sarksyan seems to be lost in a trap as the soccer diplomacy is coming to an end.” Considering that the framework for a Nagorno-Karabakh resolution is to be handled in October, it is unlikely that any real changes will take place between the two countries' relations before October. Most likely, the Armenian president will not go to Turkey for the soccer match. However, Turkey will take some small steps again, which will prevent Armenia from drifting away while trying not to annoy Azerbaijan. The process will require able diplomats and moderation on the part of politicians. 23 August 2009
Former Diplomat’s Confession Of Deception, Lale Sariibrahimoğlu @Todayszaman.Com
The Turkish Republic's state ideology was based and is still based to a certain extent on the denial of facts regarding events that have taken place in the past. Created on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, the decision makers of the Turkish Republic, set up 86 years ago in 1923, sought to erase the tragic events of the past from the minds of Turks, instead of encouraging them to face those events bravely.
The Turkish education system has long been based on this mentality, which discouraged students from discussing topics freely and instead encouraged them to memorize whatever textbooks say. This system has prevented Turks from gaining self-confidence, while hindering them from openly discussing their opinions.
If Turkey has been going through a traumatic and unstable period for decades, the underlying reason stems from the fact that contentious issues such as the Kurdish question and the Cyprus and Armenian disputes have been swept under the rug and were treated as non-existent.
But this mentality could not have gone on forever. The more Turkey has become an open society, the more contentious issues, once swept under the rug and haunting us, have begun to surface. For Turkey, Pandora's box was opened when it began taking concrete steps to become a member of the European Union, generally regarded as a union that embraces democratic standards as its reason d'etre. Paradoxically, it was as a result of a Turkish policy to adhere to democratic standards that Turkey and the EU began membership talks in 2005, though since then neither Ankara nor Brussels have been enthusiastic about doing their homework properly to facilitate a final Turkish membership.
Still, Turkey made several military and civilian reforms that have marked certain progress in Turkey's democratization move despite many shortcomings. But old habits die hard.
As the problematic issues, which had once been swept under the rug, are waiting to be solved, internal conflicts have surfaced bitterly, causing serious polarization within society.
This polarization is the natural result of a state ideology that is based on hiding the facts, and now some Turkish intellectuals have begun to confess that they had long been deceived.
“For decades, we have been deceived. First, the education system deceived us and later the Cold War years. ... The curtains put before our eyes have begun to be lifted quite late compared with the preceding generations … My generation has lived in a ‘non-problematic' Turkey for a long period. There was not a Kurdish problem ... [the] Armenian genocide issue even did not exist ... Our biggest fear has been extreme fundamentalism and communism. …,” said retired Turkish Ambassador Temel İskit in his column published in Taraf last Tuesday.
“But once the curtains put before us began to be lifted, though quite late, we began to sense that some things were kept secret from us. But we did not know what had been kept secret from us. It has taken time for us [his generation] to understand that Turkey has many problems contrary to what we have thought for decades -- that this country did not have any problems. While some of us are angry, now realizing that we have been deceived, most others from my generation are hiding behind the comfort of the denial of the existence of many problems. Unlike what we have been taught, we have observed that being a Muslim is not a threat but a common value of our society. We realized that secularism is not something that we will lose, while witnessing that we did not become another Iran despite the fact that a party branded as ‘Islamist' has been ruling Turkey for seven years. We also noticed how the fight against Islamic fundamentalism was used as a pretext to limit freedoms,” added 72-year-old-former Ambassador İskit, who also served as one of the deputies in the Undersecretariat of the Foreign Ministry.
İskit's confessions were important, among other things, in order to display how the Turkish public was deceived for centuries over facts about Turkey hidden from them through indoctrination.
I, myself, have also realized, as I matured, that we are all deceived by the state over realities and over problems facing Turkey. I feel sorry for the years that we lost in vain due to the state ideology based using deception.
But we have to look forward, and for the first time, as former Ambassador İskit stressed in his column, a light is seen at the end of the tunnel concerning a solution to the Kurdish question as the government has launched a new initiative toward this end.
20 August 2009
Ahlat: A Living Witness To Turks’ First Arrival In Anatolia, Mehmet Okay Latif Türk
President Abdullah Gül’s recent visit to Ahlat has revived interest in the location, which boasts historical mosques, tombs, graves, bridges, baths and aqueducts.
Ahlat, a city used by Alp Arslan, who opened the doors of Anatolia for the Turks, as a base before his famous victory in Malazgirt, can be considered an outdoor museum with its unique tombstones.
Having recently been visited by President Abdullah Gül, Ahlat came to public attention once again, exhibiting its historic heritage of mosques, tombs, graves, bridges, baths and aqueducts. The city has numerous structures that have witnessed the passage of time, such as a Seljuk graveyard, a castle, Hasan Padişah's tomb, Emir Bayındır's tomb, Sheik Necmettin's tomb, Erzen Hatun's tomb, the İskender Pasha Mosque and Bayındır Bridge.
While it is named after Urartian King Lat, Ahlat contains numerous works of art and architecture from the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. Legend has it that King Lat, ruling the territory near Lake Van, was badly wounded during an attack against the city by the Med. The king's daughter cried for her father, mourning and shouting: "Ah! Lat. Oh, dear Lat!” until the Med conquered the city. When the Urartian king died, this city he loved very much was named after him. The legend also claims that the Urartian people, the oldest inhabitants of the city, called it "Halads" while Armenians referred to it as “Shaleat," Syriacs "Kelath," Arabs "Hil'at" and the Persians and Turks called it "Ahlat."
The city's inhabitants were introduced to Islam during the time of Omar, the second caliph. Eyad bin Ghanem, who conquered Jazira, also conquered Ahlat, making it part of the Islamic state. The tombs located at the entrance of the city, particularly that of Abdurrahman Gazi, are among the prominent works of architecture that stand out as symbols of the city's Muslim identity. Abdurrahman Gazi's tomb and the historic mosque near it are located on a green patch of land covered with roses on a hilltop with a vantage point over Lake Van, hinting at the richness of civilization in the district.
Starting in 1040, Ahlat served as a place of call for Turkmens arriving in Anatolia. The conquest of Anatolia started in Ahlat. In 1054, arriving from Ahlat, Tuğrul Bey blockaded Malazgirt but failed to conquer it. Under the rule of Sultan Alp Arslan, Ahlat served as a military outpost for the Seljuk military campaigns into Anatolia. Sultan Alp Arslan conquered Malazgirt with the help of Ahlat. According to historian Ibn al-Azraq, the inhabitants of Ahlat who lent support to Alp Arslan in the Malazgirt war returned from the war with rich war spoils, and the city was ruled by governors appointed by Alp Arslan from that time.
Tombstones that stopped the Russian army
History textbooks write that more than 2,000 people from Ahlat died during World War I. During and after the war, the people of Ahlat were frequently attacked by Russians or Armenians, and in dire straits, they migrated to other cities. At a time when World War I was being fought fiercely, the Russian army proceeded toward Ahlat. One evening, the Russian troops came close to the city and took up positions at the entrance of Ahlat. However, they were stunned by what they saw in the darkness of that evening. A large army was standing in front of the Russians without feeling the need to hide themselves. At the order of the Russian commander, Russian soldiers started a fusillade. But not a single soldier from the Turkish army moved to seek shelter. Despite the shower of bullets, they stood their ground. The Russian commander repeated his order to attack, with no visible effect. As night fell, the Russian army decided to stop firing and wait for the morning, but they were shocked by what they saw the next day. What stopped the big Russian army was nothing but tombstones, each taller than an ordinary person.
The tombstones, about 3 meters in height, are still there, as if the symbols of a seal impressed on the stones from a grandiose culture and civilization. In the graveyard of Ahlat, one gets the impression that the souls of the people who once had their name heard throughout the world with their works and services have haunted these tombstones. The Arabic inscriptions on these stones, each a wonderful work of art, are still vivid.
Bitlis Governor Nurettin Yılmaz stresses that Ahlat was the first Turkish outpost, opening the doors of Anatolia to the Turks. "The mosques, tombs, the Seljuk graveyard, the bridges, the baths and the aqueducts in the city were built by our ancestors. They still stand erect, even in our time. Ahlat is the living witness to the civilization Turkey established in Anatolia at least 1,000 years ago. A museum will be built in Ahlat, and a cultural center building will soon be commissioned," he says.
Ahlat District Governor Bilal Şentürk notes that Ahlat is an important district both in terms of its past and its natural assets. Ahlat Mayor A. Mümtaz Çoban describes Ahlat as the door of Anatolia and the seal of Turkishness. Çoban adds that large-scale projects should be implemented in order to promote Ahlat and the rich civilization of this city to the world.
17 August 2009, Todayszaman
While Azerbaijan May Have Its Oil Resources, Armenian Has Its Sizeable Diaspora, Appo JabarianExecutive Publisher / Managing Editor Usa Armenian Life Magazine, August 14, 2009
The "Great Game" is on again. Who will control the old silk routes connecting the Mediterranean basin with the oil- and cash-rich Central Asian republics?
The Caucasus region has once again re-emerged as an arena for international competition between the superpowers mainly the United States, the EU, China, and Russia, and regional powers such as Iran, Turkey, and on the other hand, Armenia-Artsakh along with its sizeable Diaspora.
There is no doubt that the Caucasian country that can best rally its human and economic resources, and manages them properly by wisely investing them, will become an important player not only in the region but also on the wider international economic theatre.
Among the several Caucasian countries -Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia-Artsakh, the only country that has successfully satisfied an important prerequisite for healthy and sustainable economic development is Armenia-Artsakh.
Ever since Armenia re-emerged as an independent and sovereign state in 1991, Armenians in Armenia and its Diaspora went fast to work to lay the groundwork for launching diverse type of bridges, because a new set of opportunities appeared on their horizon.
Formerly separated by political barriers - namely the Soviet "Iron Curtain," now Armenians relish the dawning of the new era of economic and political expansion with their kinsmen and friends across international borders.
Of course that expansion would not materialize unless bridge builders on both sides reach out to one another in a spirit of co-operation and a solid vision for economically and politically viable Homeland.
One such bridge-builder is a long-time international entrepreneur who has been relentlessly building business opportunities and political relationships for over 20 years.
Gary Bedian: A Master In International Business Diplomacy, By Ray Wyman Jr
Gary Bedian is a unique breed. A dynamic thinker, conservative and analytical, he carefully gauges his search for acquisitions and developments. Before this recession set the commercial real estate market back on its heels, he took deals like any other professional in the industry - ones that he could easily capitalize and turn a decent profit fast. However, he also searched for what he calls his "high ground deals," the gems that can survive tough times. That effort, says Bedian, is where he spends the bulk of his time. And it's paid off.
Unlike many of his colleagues, Bedian has managed to ride over the top of the disruptions caused by this recession. After managing long and sometimes difficult negotiations for Namco Capital's $115 million acquisition of the trophy property Marriott Los Angeles Downtown from the Blackstone Group, Bedian moved onto asset management for the Marriott and several other major hospitality investments throughout the United States. Even as Namco was dragged down by bankruptcy, Bedian was working on "Plan B" as he puts it.
While he administered various third-party asset management and acquisition contracts, he pushed along several turnaround redevelopment projects worth over a billion dollars in capitalization at the peak of the market.
After nearly two years of planning and negotiations, Bedian also settled the rights to develop a three star hotel and conference Center in Yerevan, Armenia.
"I felt that this was the best time to develop such a project. The tide is already turning in international markets. In two or three years, I expect the economy in Armenia to be in full recovery. Armenia is not a credit-based society and is doing better than most countries in surviving this major recession. To me, this is a great time to plan for the future," said Bedian.
The project is a joint project with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Armenia. It features a 202-room three star hotel with 40 suites designed for extended stay, large banquet halls, meeting rooms, a 150-seat restaurant, spa and gym facilities including indoor and outdoor pools, free Wi-Fi and a state-of-the-art conference facilities with an exhibit center of approximately 3,500 square meters. The exhibit hall will be the first modern convention center in Armenia with a hotel attached and ample parking.
The Chamber has partnered with Bedian International to attract major
conferences and exhibitions to the center. Martin Sargsyan, Chairman of the Chamber, pointed out that "the project will create over 200 permanent positions, with an additional 50-60 part time employment positions, not to mention hundreds of construction and related jobs during the development period."
"Armenia has always been the southern gateway to the Independent States of the former Soviet Union and developing nations are full of opportunities," says Bedian. "However, it should not be forgotten that while there are hidden treasures to be found all over the world, sometimes the best bet is right here at home. My overseas investors are now eager to invest in undervalued real estate right here in the United States. Most deals I am now recommending are well below replacement value. The only problem I see is the banks and major funds adjusting their idea of value to real market conditions."
Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1960, Bedian immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 15. A polyglot with fluency in four languages (Arabic, Armenian, Turkish, English), a degree in business, corporate and entrepreneurial experience and a dynamic personality, Bedian was an ideal candidate as Armenia's Vice Minister of Industry and Trade in 1992. About that time, he also served as the fledgling government's Chief Business Development Advisor.
"Back then, it was difficult to find a starting point. They needed everything," he says. "They had to increase international traffic, raise capital, create a tourism industry, revitalize commerce and tear down some potentially pervasive cultural and governmental barriers."
Then, as he does now, Bedian traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia promoting business opportunities and enticing new investors with tax incentives and other economic inducements. He helped guide the privatization efforts of the Armenian high-tech sector and the tourism sector that led to several foreign investments. Back in the United States, Bedian co-founded the first Armenian-American Chamber of Commerce, the only Chamber for a former Soviet Republic at the time and worked on promoting trade with Armenia.
"I have always been committed to helping Armenia develop a free market economy and a civil society," he says. "We were successful because we didn't seek handouts. We drew attention to developing opportunities and found partners who could help us achieve long term goals."
In Bedian's work developing Armenian trade and industry and in his other businesses, Bedian has never shirked away from an opportunity to build sustainable relationships through consensus and mutual benefit.
"I discovered early that being contentious and overly aggressive counts for little; eventually you will find yourself back at square one," Bedian explains. He says that his best successes have been created when he has risen above the situation to see what people really want. "And you can't do that from just a business point of view or from behind cultural boundaries. You have to consider the individuals involved, look at things from their point of view," he says. "If you can do that, you have a very powerful tool because nobody wants to be left behind. We all have that in common."
On September 11, 2001, everybody learned what it is like to be left behind. Bedian turned that global event into a lesson on how to adapt. Heavily invested in travel and business tourism, Bedian was certain that big adjustments in demand and cost were already underway. "Pre-9/11, global business travel was on the rise," he says. "The day after, we were scrambling to protect what was left."
Although the shock caused his business interests to dive near rock bottom with millions of dollars in losses, a two-fold question entered his mind: "how much was going to be left after the dust settled and what I could do with it." Once again, Bedian says, "I looked for Plan B, the Bedian plan as I sometimes call it."
The slow and painstaking task of rebuilding began with "an ounce of humility and a lot of guts." Grappling with the pressure of supporting his family and rebuilding his business, Bedian had to think faster and work harder than ever in his life. He found himself going back to old business associates and friends for any leads and opportunities. But as he went back to his old mentors and bosses, he also rediscovered some of the most valuable lessons he had picked up earlier in his career.
"There's more to business than just day-to-day deal-making," says Bedian. His center of operations is Bedian International, a firm that specializes in negotiating multi-million dollar real estate development and acquisitions for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to some of the wealthiest families in the U.S. and abroad.
"The hard-nosed deal-maker is passé," he claims. "It's an antiquated stereotype. If you're going to cut it in any field, you have to come up with a better understanding of how to balance needs and benefits so you can arrive at worthwhile solutions faster and more efficiently."
The key to his fast recovery and success is a deep appreciation for what he now calls "business diplomacy" - a management style that is part business and part philosophy. On the business side is the hard-nosed "warfare" that you expect from investors, bargainers and litigators jostling for a better deal. The philosophical side draws upon humanistic perspectives and consensus building - things that you normally don't see in high-stakes business negotiations.
"Back in college, we might have called it common sense to 'play fair'," says Bedian. "But 'real life' tends to beat the idea out of you, especially when you have others pounding you for results. Naturally, that makes you want to rake the other guy over the coals before he does that to you. And what do you end up with? Nothing - nobody likes each other, nobody wants to compromise, nobody budges. All that time and effort is wasted."
Bedian had his first lesson with formulating "workable solutions" when he served as the vice-president of Fred Sands Realtors in the 1980s. Tenant complaints were on the rise, but so were facility management and repair costs. "I instantly saw that the company had to change the way it did business and that the change had to come from the ground up," he says. His first step was introducing behavior modification programs that rewarded employees for good performance. Then he cultivated a positive change in the corporate culture that focused on customer service and satisfaction. The key, he says, was gaining employee consensus - they knew that something had to change and were thoroughly invested in the effort.
"It was almost too easy," chuckles Bedian. But his boss said the results were nothing less than genius. In less than six months, tenant complaints fell by 50 percent. Support costs were still dropping when he left the firm a few years later.
Bedian attributes this approach to negotiation to his present situation. "I have always been involved in high-profile business negotiations. I've seen a lot of guys come and go - mostly they go. But I've managed to stay on, keep good relationships with nearly everybody I have dealt with. I believe that my negotiating style is the key to that rewarding relationship longevity."
Explanations about the psychology of negotiation are complex - visit his website if you want a thorough tutorial on his ideas and experiences. He summarizes them by saying it has everything to do with being effective in both in terms of creating actionable contracts and in creating mutually agreeable situations.
"I try to make deals that I think both parties could live with; arrangements that offer the best possibility of mutual benefit and growth," he says.
Despite early successes, Bedian's negotiating style has made a few of his clients uneasy. "Despite cutting a deal that hit everything that a client wanted, the guy came back and wanted more. I didn't go after the kill, he said; I didn't draw enough blood. These types of clients never stop negotiating to get the deal done." It has a movie-like quality; the deal-maker that rakes somebody over the coals. After all, business is business, and war is war. But Bedian cautions us on the error of confusing war with business.
"Sure, there are war-like qualities in business negotiation. I have never met a successful negotiator who had the altruism of Mother Teresa, but my experience negotiating multi-million dollar acquisition and development deals has shown me that over-aggressive posturing often produces a wasteful game of tit-for-tat. It creates unreasonable and unsustainable excesses in the initial positioning that only produces resentment at the end," he says.
While he admits that it is reasonable to use some tactics to push for the best deal, he questions the idea that one must hammer the opposition into submission. "Over-aggressive tactics reverts the task of managing the negotiation into an effort-wasting wrestling match," says Bedian.
Bedian points to the evidence of his track record. "Of the early negotiations I resolved successfully, most of the relationships functioned very well until the day that contracts expired with little or no change. But on the deals where clients later "fixed" the contracts, the relationships were often so unworkable that they ruined good opportunities and ended in litigation.
Bedian's negotiating style also transcends his lifestyle. "I like the American saying that 'moderation is everything.' When I was a kid, my grandmother often scolded me for asking for too many toys on Christmas or birthdays, or for wanting a second helping of dessert. To her, moderation was the watchword; 'live in the state of being gratified' was the lesson. This comment was especially touching to me knowing that moderation was an understatement by a woman who had survived hunger and starvation during the Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire."
"Before this recession, America was building on consumerism: more meant better; better meant bigger. Americans quickly became the conspicuous consumer of everything from toys to dessert and beyond. I think the conclusion you must draw from current events is that more is not better, and better may be less," says Bedian. He paraphrases Alan Greenspan when he adds "all forms of exuberance (especially irrational) are now suspect for a host of economic and social reasons. Maximum demand cannot be sustained. And now we find, grandma was right, moderation really is everything."
When Bedian reflects on his career in business, he quotes himself from one of his newsletters (now read by nearly 6,000 people). "Business diplomacy is the art of thinking strategically about the range of influences within your operational context and moving beyond immediate goals and growing your long term interests." Bedian pauses. "What that means is that the negotiating process should begin with an understanding of the universe of possibilities - political, personal, legal, economic - and how the parties can shape them into actionable and sustainable business policy. That's the secret. That's the true grail of success."
"And what better situation than if your negotiating partner comes along for the ride with you, especially if it's to Armenia?" asks Bedian with a smile.