- Serzh Sargsyan’s Interview To Bbc Russian Department
- Noam Chomsky And Genocidal Causality, Author: Marko Attila Hoare
- Serzh Sargsyan Says We Have No Right To Forget Our Past
- There Is An Armenian Scenario Of Settlement, Lragir
- Government Of "White Planters", Siranuysh Papyan
- Editor-In-Chief Of New York Based Russian-Language Newspaper: Photos Of Khojaly Genocide Victims Were Presented As Photos Of Victims Of So-Called Armenian “Genocide…”
- The Ambassador of France in Armenia addresses NAM
- Krikorian: My Congressional Race Is Ground Zero of the Armenian Genocide Battle
- Q&A: Paul Mckenna Jr. , Glendale News Press Aug 26 2009 Ca
- Government Of Myths, Lragir 24/08/2009, Interview By Siranuish Papyan, Interview With Ara Nedolyan, Theatrical Critic And Socialist
- Grigor Norekian: Those who see IT even once cannot but fall in love with IT, and ITS name is ARMENIA
Serzh Sargsyan’s Interview To Bbc Russian Department
Recently the journalist of Russian BBC service Gebriel Geythouse was in Yerevan and in the interview with the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan asked whether the RA President will attend the return match in Turkey.
BBC: Mr. Serzh Sargsyan will you attend the return match in Turkey?
Serzh Sargsyan: You know this question has two answers. The fist answer is as follows. It's not important whether I'll visit Turkey or not. I'd like to say that my visit to Turkey should not be linked to the relations between the two countries. Do you understand me? Imagine at least two options. Let's assume that Armenia freezes the negotiation process with Turkey and I leave for that country to watch the football match. The second option is as follows: the two countries continue negotiating, but I don't attend the match. Which is more important? This is my answer if you ask the question in the context of our talks with Turkey.
BBC: What signals is Armenia expecting from Turkey in order to defreeze the talks?
Serzh Sargsyan: I have already announced and say once again that I shall leave for Turkey only in case of opening of the border or at the threshold of the event. We have an agreement with Turkey. I think it's normal and correct for the parties to commit to the agreement reached earlier. Unfortunately, so far I have not seen a great desire and aspiration to implement those agreements. Our wish remains the same - to establish relations without preconditions.
BBC: Is Armenia ready to make concessions as regards the events of 1915 and do you believe Turkey will call them genocide?
Serzh Sargsyan: "Of course, it's very important for our people, for Turkey and the whole world. It's important that historical justice be restored. It's important for our nations to be able to establish normal relations. At last, it's important that it never reoccurs in the future. But we do not see the recognition of genocide as a precondition for the establishment of relations.
BBC: Do you mean to say that there is an opportunity of compromise?
Serzh Sargsyan: "It can’t be called a compromise. This is not the case to speak about compromises. We say, yes, there was genocide, and irrespective of the fact whether Turkey recognizes it or not, there is a fact established by all genocide scholars in the world and recognized by many countries of the world. However, today we do not view it as a precondition for normalization of relations.
BBC: Anyway it disturbs your relations with Turkey. One of my interlocutors made the following comparison; when you drive a car you should control what’s going on the way behind you, that’s why you time by time look back through the mirror. But what is important is the way in front of you. Is this the situation reflected?
Serzh Sargsyan: That’s right. I understand what that person meant: he wanted to say that we should look into future, but we do not have the right to forget the past.
Noam Chomsky And Genocidal Causality, Author: Marko Attila Hoare, 31 August, 2009
Dissection of Chomsky's sophistry on the issue of who was to blame for Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosova
It is with some hesitation that I comment on the exchange between Noam Chomsky and Ian Williams over the question of responsibility for the bloodshed in Kosova in the late 1990s. Chomsky has no expertise and nothing interesting to say on the topic of the former Yugoslavia, and it is only because of his status as the world’s no. 1 ‘anti-imperialist’ guru that his utterances on the topic attract as many responses as they do. Chomsky epitomises the ‘anti-imperialist’ ideologue who believes in two things:
1) that the US is to blame for everything; and
2) that everything the US does is bad. If you share this worldview, then nothing said by Chomsky’s critics, such as Williams or Oliver Kamm, is going to convince you that he may be wrong on Kosova. If, on the other hand, you do not share this worldview, and are not star-struck by the celebrity Chomsky, then his rambling comparisons between the Western response over Kosova and the Western response over East Timor can only appear extremely tortuous and boring. It is tiresome yet again to point out, for example, the absolute falsehood of Chomsky’s claim that ‘the crimes in East Timor at the same time’ as the Kosovo war ‘were far worse than anything reported in Kosovo prior to the NATO bombing’ – it simply isn’t true.
I am using Chomsky, therefore, only to open a discussion on the question of genocidal causality, and the insidious nature of the sophistry employed by Chomsky and his ‘anti-imperialist’ comrades: that Serbian ethnic-cleansing in Kosova occurred in response to the NATO bombing and was therefore NATO’s fault. As Chomsky put it: ‘The NATO bombing did not end the atrocities but rather precipitated by far the worst of them, as had been anticipated by the NATO command and the White House.’ The thrust of Chomsky’s argument is that since NATO commanders predicted that the NATO bombing would lead to a massive escalation of Serbian attacks on the Kosova Albanian civilian population, and since this prediction was borne out, then NATO is responsible for having cold-bloodedly caused the atrocities that occurred after the bombing started.
The falsehood of this logic can be demonstrated if we ask the following questions:
1) Chomsky claims that the bombing precipitated ‘by far the worst’ of the atrocities, but what precipitated the bombing ?
The answer is that the NATO bombing of Serbia in March 1999 was precipitated by Belgrade’s rejection of the Rambouillet Accords. Belgrade was aware that rejecting the Rambouillet Accords would precipitate Serbia being bombed by NATO, but rejected them nevertheless. By Chomsky’s own logic, therefore, Serbia’s own actions precipitated the NATO bombings, and were consequently responsible for those bombings. Since, according to Chomsky, the bombings led to the atrocities, that means that Serbia was responsible for the atrocities after all.
What Chomsky would like us to believe, is that if a US or NATO action produced a predictable Serbian response, then the response was the fault of the US/NATO. But if, on the other hand, a Serbian action produced a predictable US/NATO response, then the response was still the fault of the US/NATO. This is self-evidently a case of double standards.
2) Chomsky claims that the bombing precipitated ‘by far the worst’ of the atrocities, but what would have been precipitated by a failure to bomb ?
From reading Chomsky and his fellow ‘anti-imperialists’, one would almost believe that the bloodshed in Kosova had been – in Edward Said’s words – a ‘Sunday school picnic’ prior to the NATO bombing. Yet this is what Human Rights Watch reported in January 1999, more than two months before the bombing began:
The government forces intensified their offensive throughout July and August , despite promises from Milosevic that it had stopped. By mid-August, the government had retaken much of the territory that had been held by the KLA, including their stronghold of Malisevo. Unable to protect the civilian population, the KLA retreated into Drenica and some pockets in the West.
Some of the worst atrocities to date occurred in late September, as the government’s offensive was coming to an end. On September 26, eighteen members of an extended family, mostly women, children, and elderly, were killed near the village of Donje Obrinje by men believed to be with the Serbian special police. Many of the victims had been shot in the head and showed signs of bodily mutilation. On the same day, thirteen ethnic Albanian men were executed in the nearby village of Golubovac by government forces. One man survived and was subsequently taken out of the country by the international agencies in Kosovo.
The government offensive was an apparent attempt to crush civilian support for the rebels. Government forces attacked civilians, systematically destroyed towns, and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. One attack in August near Senik killed seventeen civilians who were hiding in the woods. The police were seen looting homes, destroying already abandoned villages, burning crops, and killing farm animals.
The majority of those killed and injured were civilians. At least 300,000 people were displaced, many of them women and children now living without shelter in the mountains and woods. In October, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) identified an estimated 35,000 of the displaced as particularly at risk of exposure to the elements. Most were too afraid to return to their homes due to the continued police presence. [our emphasis]
(Contrary to what Chomsky says, the number killed in Kosova prior to the start of the NATO bombing was greater than the number of East Timorese civilians killed by the Indonesians and their proxies during the whole of 1999).
Chomsky is saying that if - instead of presenting an ultimatum to Belgrade at Rambouillet and then proceeding to bomb Serbia when Belgrade defied that ultimatum - the NATO powers had given Belgrade a free hand in Kosova, then Serbian repression in Kosova would simply have continued at what he considers to be an acceptable level. Of course, there is no way of proving one way or the other what would have happened in Kosova if NATO hadn’t gone to war in the spring of 1999, but given the catalogue of horrors in the former Yugoslavia that were demonstrably not ‘precipitated’ by Western military intervention – the destruction of Vukovar, the siege of Sarajevo, the Srebrenica massacre, the killing of at least 100,000 Bosnians, the ethnic-cleansing of 300,000 Kosovars, etc. – the evidence suggests that it would not have resembled Edward Said’s ‘Sunday school picnic’.
3) Chomsky claims that the bombing precipitated ‘by far the worst’ of the atrocities, but even if this were true, would this make those atrocities NATO’s fault ?
Genocides are invariably ‘precipitated’ by something or other. The Armenian Genocide was ‘precipitated’ by the outbreak of World War I and Tsarist Russia’s military advance into Anatolia. The Rwandan Genocide was ‘precipitated’ by the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s offensive against the Rwandan Army, the Arusha Accords and by the shooting down of the plane carrying Rwanda’s President Juvenal Habyarimana. Of course, it is entirely legitimate for historians to interpret instances of genocide as having been ‘precipitated’ by something or other, but anyone who uses such explanations to shift the responsibility away from the perpetrators – whether Ottoman, Hutu, German, Serbian or other – is simply an apologist or a denier.
On 30 January 1939, Adolf Hitler gave a speech to the Reichstag in which he stated: ‘If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe.’
Hitler therefore made it explicit that the outbreak of a world war would result in the extermination of the Jews in Europe. Indeed, the outbreak and course of World War II ‘precipitated’ the Holocaust. Britain and France, when they declared war on Germany in September 1939, were by Chomsky’s logic responsible for the Holocaust. Some ‘anti-imperialists’ have, in fact, attempted to make this very point.
In sum, Chomsky’s case is a disgrace at the level of plain reasoning, never mind at the level of ethics.
Let there be no mistake about this: atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide are the responsibility of those who commit them. Whatever ‘precipitates’ them, they are the fault of their perpetrators. And it would be a sorry world indeed if were were to allow perpetrators to deter us from taking action to stop atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide, by their threat to commit still worse crimes in the event that we do take action.
This comment was posted on the author’s Greater Surbiton website, 25 August 2009
Serzh Sargsyan Says We Have No Right To Forget Our Past, 31/08/2009
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan gave interview to “BBC” covering, so called, “football diplomacy” issue. Find the President’s interview to world media giant below.
The term “football diplomacy” was put into circulation a year ago, when Turkish President Abdullah Gul arrived in Yerevan at the invitation of the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, to watch the match between the national football teams of the two countries. It raised hopes that the Armenian-Turkish border could be opened and the two countries would start the process of reconciliation. However, official Yerevan accuses Turkey of freezing the process.
BBC correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse visited Yerevan one of these days to figure out whether President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia was going to attend the return match in Turkey.
Serzh Sargsyan - The question has two answers. The fist answer is as follows. It’s not important whether I’ll visit Turkey or not. I’d like to say that my visit to Turley should not be linked to the relations between the two countries. Let’s assume that Armenia freezes the negotiation process with Turkey and I leave for that country to watch the football match. The second option is as follows: the two countries continue negotiating, but I don’t attend the match. Which is more important? This is my answer if you ask the question in the context of our talks with Turkey.
BBC - what signals is Armenia expecting from Turkey in order to defreeze the talks?
Serzh Sargsyan - I will leave for Turkey only in case of opening of the border or at the threshold of the event. We have an agreement. I think that it’s normal and correct for the parties to implement the agreement reached earlier. Our wish remains the same – to establish relations without preconditions.
BBC - Is Armenia ready to make concessions as regards the events of 1915 and do You believe Turkey will call them genocide?
Serzh Sargsyan - Of course, it's very important for our people, for Turkey and the whole world. It’s important to restore historical justice. It’s important for our nations to be able to establish normal relations. At last, it’s important that it never reoccurs in the future. But we do not see the recognition of genocide as a precondition for the establishment of relations.
BBC – Hence, is there an opportunity of compromise?
Serzh Sargsyan - It cannot be called compromise. This is not the case to speak about compromises. We say, yes, there was genocide, and irrespective of the fact whether Turkey recognizes it or not, there is a fact established by all genocide scholars in the world and recognized by many countries of the world. However, today we do not view it as a precondition for normalization of relations.
BBC - But anyway that problem is an obstacle to regulate ties with Turkey. A man, with whom I have had a talk earlier in Yerevan, recommended another solution: when you drive, you should follow your back side and you look at the mirror showing the back of you but the important thing is the way in front you. How well does this example describe the current situation?
Serzh Sargsyan - Right, I can see quite well what the man wanted to say. He wants to say that we should follow our future, but we do not have the right to forget the past.
Panorama.am. It’s worth reminding that Abdullah Gul traveled to Armenia at the invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, after which the two countries took initiatives to start intensive negotiations to regulate bilateral ties. In the aftermath of those negotiations “road map” has been signed and published in April of 2009, which covers definite steps to regulate ties. But Turkey adopted another policy of breaking the agreements, which the international experts and high ranking foreign officials have noted and made statements. They say that Ankara’s activities have been conditioned by the blackmail from Azerbaijan. But still, the international society is optimistic with the fact that Armenian-Turkish “football diplomacy” will be continued. In fact, today, Turkey is the only responsible figure, as official Yerevan has been announcing many times that they are ready to continue negotiations based on the previous agreements.
Government Of "White Planters", Siranuysh Papyan 02/09/2009 Lragir
In your opinion, what is government? What are the mechanisms of its formations and its functions?
Let me start saying that during previous interviews my friends have given very good answers to this questions, let me try too. First, a country has to assume its role of a servant, in other words, the model of democratic society which we have chosen is a model of servant. In other words, I have to be sure that the taxes paid by commercials are being used for pensions or budgets for poor people, that our borders are well defended from enemies etc, etc. And a governmental member is a guarantee. This is some kind of commerce: you give your vote and your security is ensured in exchange. Now we have just the opposite. Now the citizens serve the government. After Soviet period, we hoped that we would have rights for vote, free economic relations, protection of borders and so on, but factually, our country secures only the protection of borders but not fully. The defense of border was also secured by the Soviet government and with higher quality, in fact today we may register that nothing is changed.
How would you comment on the essence of government and its structure in Armenia?
It is a government composed of several oligarchic servant families for whom the word "Armenia" is an empty sound, let alone "democracy" or "freedom". There is total complaint just this complaint has to reach its peak. Maybe on September 18 or later, however, it will reach. It cannot go on this way because assassins cannot be in freedom for long.
After all, apart from social problems there are also questions on human self-esteem. All of us have to struggle, you with your journalism, artists with the help of their art, to reach uncontrollable intolerance.
Are problems of the state and the government the same?
State and public questions are the same when the society participates in them too. In our case, they are not, because the society participates in almost nothing. The society is just a taxpayer and our state recalls a medieval social system. We have a state today, but it serves for a certain range.
What kind of government would you like for our country?
I would like it to be a servant, in other words, the mayor served the city, the head of a village- the village and the president-the interests of the society. But our president rather presets the interests of external forces than those of its state and society. We come out not to participate not only in the formation of government of our country but also in its relations with the external world.
During these years, the Armenian society has been knocked out three times. First: Robert Kocharyan's arrival, second-October 27, third-National Assembly full of oligarchs which is Robert Kocharyan's project. Let us remember what happened in Martinique isle when the law on equality was adopted, the white planters asked for English protectorate and told them that when the point is about the preservation of their capital, the word "France" becomes an empty sound. And if in case of France they lost some far colony in the Atlantic Ocean, our "white planters" are in the National Assembly for whom the word "Armenia" is just a sound. Now a situation is created where there is a question of preserving the capital. And they proved that they may remove "Ararat" from the national emblem of Armenia because the Turkish president demanded in case Levon Ter-Petrosyan was accused of being pro-Turkish when he was saying that the borders have to be open, in case Zaruhi Postanjyan was presented as a betrayer because of her behavior as a real political figure. I think they would judge Postanjyan by the rules of inquisition if they could. In other words, our rich men (I call our government rich men) are like children who may change their mind every five minutes.
In your opinion, how can the public return its right to form government?
By political education. The thing Levon Ter-Petrosyan is doing during rallies, what the HAK and the whole oppositional movement is doing. Everyone should understand that these rich men are not expedient for them. You remember, for being included in the Republican ticket for Mayor, one of them killed the other and was let free. This was a bright example for their own party to understand that this situation is dangerous for them too. I think everyone should start struggling everywhere.
Is the society aware of governmental decisions? And does it participate in taking them?
It is aware. But the society is having a phase of despair. Many think that Levon Ter-Petrosyan failed so there will be no change of government and there nothing may be done against these people because in order to preserve their capital they will even use arms.
But freedom is not easy and it has never been easy to struggle for it. HAK has chosen its own way of struggle-the constitutional one. It is possible to win because Armenia faces a situation of being or not being and everyone will join the oppositional field little by little.
In fact, the meaning of our struggle against foreign leaders was that now we have them inside our country today. In other words, we do not struggle for freedom but for nationalities. In this case the question occurs, what the difference between a home and foreign slaver is.
Does the Armenian government correspond to the challenges and problems present in Armenia and in the world?
The only thing I can say for sure is that the Armenian government serves the world very well. It is phenomenal; it satisfies Russia as well as the West and now also Turkey. Perhaps only Azerbaijan is not satisfied with Armenia, but I think very soon Armenia will manage to satisfy it too. For me as a citizen a lot is unknown and unexplained, because the television serves the very rich men. We did not understand the necessity to sign that document on April 23.
In your opinion, will everything be idealistic will all the questions be solved if the HAK comes to power?
The term idealistic does not work in politics, but nevertheless there is Levon Ter-Petrosyan, whom I have been following since 2007, and he controls everything. I believe Levon Ter-Petrosyan's actions and I believe he will be able to set up a system. Once he stated that 3 years are needed to form a new system. He has been proving with his steps that he is able to do it, and if he fails a new oppositional movement, a new struggle will start.
Editor-In-Chief Of New York Based Russian-Language Newspaper: Photos Of Khojaly Genocide Victims Were Presented As Photos Of Victims Of So-Called Armenian “Genocide…” Today Az 4 September 2009
Nobert Yevdayev, editor-in-chief of New York-based Russian language newspaper “Noviy Rubezh” (‘New Frontier’) and chairman Azerbaijani Friendly Association AZEM spoke in an interview with Day.Az.
Nobert Yevdayev, born in Baku in 1929, is a truly unique and more than a versatile person. Jazz musician, poet, painter, journalist, author of numerous scientific papers - this is not the whole list of his hobbies and achievements.
Since 1989, the former from Baku resident lives in the United States and since 2003 publishes the newspaper “Noviy Rubezh”. In an interview Day.Az Yevda tells how the newspaper began publishing, about Azerbaijanis and migrants from Azerbaijan living in the States and the intrigues of the Armenian diaspora.
Day.Az: How did you decide to publish a newspaper? What is the aim of “Noviy Rubezh”?
Nobert Yevdayev: In 2003, upon the recommendation of one of my friends, I was invited by leaders of Mountain Jewish Community with a request to publish a newspaper. My conditions were as follows - not to be confined to narrow communal interests and to publish a newspaper with general information of world political and cultural international events.
The newspaper is published since May 2003. It has 32 pages. It appears once a month and does not contain news. The newspaper publishes articles in English, Russian, Azerbaijani and Gorski Jewish languages. A total 3,000 are released. In addition New York City, the newspaper is circulated in mountain Jewish communities abroad including Moscow, Baku, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Toronto.
Q: How many Azerbaijanis and migrants from Azerbaijan live in New York according to your own estimations?
A: We do not have statistics. But the most active part of people from Azerbaijan meet every year to celebrate Novruz. This festival is celebrated by several organizations, in particular, the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN in New York restaurant ‘Baku Palace’, Association of Azerbaijanis living in the United States and the Association of Azerbaijanis living in New York. Each of the events unite at most 300 people.
As the most prominent representatives of Azerbaijani people living in the U.S. I can note Nargiz Shakynskaya - a well-known observer and presenter in the American TV channel, Azim Sadykhov - filmmaker and Award Winner of film festivals in the United States, Telman Jalilov - Honored Artist of Azerbaijan and the head of the Azerbaijani national dance, Chingiz Sadikhov – well-known pianist and the accompanist of Rashid Behbudov and Muslim Magomayev in the past, Anna Toporovski - a well-known radio commentator which broadcasts the events taking place in the White House and many others. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of known great Azerbaijanis. However, many migrants from Azerbaijan live in the U.S. whom we do not know.
Q: Resistance of young but already quite strong and influential Azerbaijani diaspora against famous Armenian diaspora in the United States in the past few years has been very active. What is the superiority and inferiorty of Azerbaijani diaspora over and to the Armenian diaspora?
A: Armenian Diaspora, particularly in New York, is not an organized force that could confront us. It does not have its media, it does not hold public events, in any case, like we do. We follow mainly Russian-language press which sometimes publishes forgeries related to the confrontation.
We find this kind of fakes and expose them and publish stories of exposure in our newspaper. For example, articles in the newspaper ‘In a New light’ which published photos of victims of Khojaly genocide allegedly to be victims of so-called “genocide” of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. We contacted the editor, invited him to the Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN where he had to apologize for the correspondent who resorted to such provocation. In our paper we very much emphasize positive developments in Azerbaijan where tolerance towards different nationalities and confessions triumphs.
Neither Russian-language nor English-language press stages anti-Azerbaijani propaganda in New York. There are no Armenian newspapers here. Mostly, propaganda goes on internet which is full of misinformation. I think there are enough skilled forces in Azerbaijan that can confront this tool.
Azerbaijan Association of New York also publishes its own newspaper ‘Azerbaijan Review’ in Azerbaijani, English and Russian languages. This paper pays much attention to the Karabakh conflict. I helped to create this newspaper and I am a member of its editorial board. We believe that this topic is not wide-spread in New York press. This topic should be widely covered in the Los Angeles newspapers where a very large Armenian community resides.
Moreover, we believe that today the main work should be done by politicians to win over the field of lobbying in Congress where Armenians have a very strong position We, on our part, are making efforts to communicate with important Jewish organizations to create a positive image of Azerbaijan for them. One of the results of our work is that for the second consecutive year, representatives of Azerbaijan are invited to the so-called breakfast with congressmen, where lawmakers talk about their work in Congress. Except representatives of Azerbaijan, no representatives from any other participate in the meeting.
The Ambassador of France in Armenia addresses NAM
15 August 2009 by Krikor Amirzayan / armenews
The Ambassador of France in Armenia, Serge Smessow was passing through Marseille. An opportunity for "News Magazine of Armenia" to meet him and ask him some questions. Interview.
"New Armenian magazine" France and Armenia have maintained friendly relations since ancient times. Armenia has just joined the Francophonie. What is the level of these relations today?
Serge Smessow: the entry of Armenia in La Francophonie is an additional element to this relationship very rich and very old. These relationships have strengthened significantly in recent years. The French University in Armenia and the French primary school are two of the last elements of this strong bond between France and Armenia, culturally. I would say that these relationships are specific, since they are also driven by the presence of the strong Armenian community in France.
"News Magazine of Armenia": can you say a few words about the political and economic situation in Armenia?
Serge Smessow Firstly, I want to say that French politics wants stability in the South Caucasus region. Internally, things are being standardized with an amnesty for most political opponents imprisoned following the events of 1 March 2008 following the presidential elections. Our position is like that of the Council of Europe, namely that all political opponents must be released. As the elections of the Municipality of Yerevan, they were considered "generally satisfactory" according to a European mission. Me, I would add that the question of Human Rights is the modernization of Armenia and its rapprochement with Europe. European programs are underway. And Armenia will inevitably accept the "common European values" if it wants to integrate into European structures.
"New Armenian magazine" France co-chairs the Minsk Group of OSCE. What is his position on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh?
Serge Smessow: the position of France is one of two co-chairmen of the Minsk Group that are Russia and the United States. France has not his personal position. On the Nagorno Karabakh, we note that things are progressing with the Madrid agreements accepted by both parties namely Armenia and Azerbaijan. The goal is to build a compromise. To do this will require political will and probably some concessions on both sides. I remain convinced that a negotiated solution is now within our reach.
"News Magazine of Armenia": representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh have not a say in the negotiations that affect them?
Serge Smessow: As you know, today the two countries have been negotiating for several years, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The difficulty is to build a compromise. But obviously, the Nagorno-Karabakh should a second time in its say.
"News Magazine of Armenia" The level of economic exchanges between France and Armenia do you think it satisfactory?
Serge Smessow: It is true that we found a delay of economic transactions between our two countries. However, I can say today that the economic gap begins to close. Many French companies are active in Armenia. Of two recent arrivals in Armenia include Orange-France Telecom and Atos Origin, a company specializing in information technology.
"News Magazine of Armenia" feel a strong presence of the Armenian community in France and support to Armenia?
Serge Smessow we have every day in Armenia, the evidence of their presence and support of the Armenians in France. Many initiatives to individuals and groups are conducted by French citizens of Armenian origin. The Provence-Alpes Cote d'Azur, but also Rhone-Alpes, Hauts-de-Seine close ties with Armenia. The role of the Armenian community in France is remarkable.
Interview in Marseille by Krikor Amirzayan
Krikorian: My Congressional Race Is Ground Zero of the Armenian Genocide Battle
On Aug. 17, Armenian Weekly editor Khatchig Mouradian talked to David Krikorian, a candidate in the Ohio Second Congressional District race, about his campaign and the complaints filed against him by his opponent, Congresswoman Jean Schmidt.
Khatchig Mouradian: Why did Schmidt file the complaints and what political or financial gains was she expecting to receive from the lawsuit?
David Krikorian: The complaint was filed in April 2009, after I filed to seek office as a Democratic candidate in the 2010 elections. As you know, in 2008, I ran as an Independent candidate, and the statements that Schmidt is claiming as false were made in the 2008 election cycle. It’s an interesting situation: You got a false-statement claim from a previous election period. She could have filed a complaint against me at any time but only chose to file a complaint after I announced that I would be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2010. What that tells us, off the bat, is that she is obviously concerned about facing me in a general election. I think she simply looked at the numbers and said, If Krikorian got 18 percent of the votes as an Independent candidate, then he’s going to have a very good shot of beating me as a party-backed candidate. That has to be one of the motivating factors behind why she chose to file.
Frankly, I also think she was led into this by the Turkish lobby, which, over the course of the last six to nine months has obviously gone on the offensive in filing lawsuits and challenging Armenian Americans pretty much anywhere in the country. We’ve seen this organization, now called the American Turkish Legal Defense Fund, filing lawsuits all over the place, whether it’s against the Southern Poverty Law Center, the California State Legislature, or me here in Ohio. They are going on the offensive and we need to beat them everywhere and anywhere they want to fight us. And we have the opportunity, especially in the Southern Poverty Law case and my case, where we can soundly beat them. Because what they’re trying to do is wrong and we should not stand for it at all. They always claim that Armenian Americans are attempting verbal thuggery. Well, I think we know who the thugs are. The thugs are Bruce Fein, Lincoln McGurdy, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), the Turkish government, and all the bought-and-paid-for officials here in the U.S.
Let me remind your readers: Jean Schmidt took more money from the Turkish lobby than any other single Member of the U.S. Congress. In the 2008 election cycle, there were 65 Representatives that the TCA supported. Schmidt was the highest money receiver of those 65. That’s what we’re up against here. The Turkish lobby is already putting in resources. In 2009, they held a fundraiser for her. They are making this their central fight in the battle for truth. This is why it is not an option for us to lose this election.
K.M.: A poll in June showed that you are well positioned to beat Schmidt. How have the numbers changed over the past few months?
D.K.: We will be taking a new poll in September, and will be interested to see how the numbers have changed since the first poll we did in June. Our expectation is that we will pick up additional votes, as we spent a lot of time throughout the course of this summer doing a lot of community outreach events. I have continued to build relationships within the Democratic Party.
The Democrats are going to face a little bit of an uphill battle going into 2010, especially if the economy continues to weaken. But the benefit that I have is that I am truly running as an outsider. I’m not a party insider and I think that will be a very good position for me to run from, because my district is a conservative district. It has always been a conservative district. In fact, a Democrat has not won this particular Congressional seat since 1964. So I don’t think a conventional Democrat could win this district, especially in 2010, when there will be some backlash against the Democratic Party, but I can truly hold myself apart from the Democratic Party and say look, I’m a conservative and I’m independent-minded. So much so that I ran as an Independent. We are the voice of people, and the voter should choose a candidate’s principle over his party affiliation. We have too many Representatives in Congress today who put party first, people second. We’re most definitely people first and party as a distant third.
In our last poll, Schmidt came in at around 44 percent. It was slightly lower than what she got in the general election itself.
Anytime you’re a sitting Representative and polling less than 50 percent, that’s trouble. And in fact, the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee (DCCC) has identified my race as one of the top eight races in the country for a switch from a Republican to a Democrat. And for them to have made that distinction this early in the race, they know that they have a potential for a very strong candidate. And somebody who can pull 18 percent as an unknown Independent first-time candidate is obviously a strong candidate.
K.M.: What is your message to Armenian Americans? How can they help you and support you now and throughout the campaign?
D.K.: I have to be so crass, but the best way for the Armenian American community to support out campaign is to help fund it. It takes a tremendous amount of financial resources to operate a campaign, when you consider the campaign staff and all the advertising that you buy. This legal battle has consumed a tremendous amount of resources as well. That’s what we need.
Frankly, it does come down to financial resources. All the parties themselves—whether you’re talking about the Republican Party or the Democratic Party—care about is money. You can be the best candidate in the world. It doesn’t matter. All they care about is how much money you can raise. That’s the sad truth of what the American political system is all about today. And if you can show that you are a good fundraiser, then the party will back you. If you’re a great guy, a good campaigner, and very good on issues, and you’re a good leader, but you don’t raise money, they don’t care about you. I stand firmly against that. I think that’s the real reason why we don’t have healthcare reform, education reform. That’s certainly why we have the financial issues that we face in our country today. But it is what it is right now, and I can’t change it as a candidate, but I certainly intend to fight for those kinds of changes when I get to Washington.
One of the best opportunities that I have as a candidate is that I’m an Armenian American and we’re a close-knit family all across the country. I very much need the full support of the community in order to win this election. I think I’ve demonstrated that, when it comes to an Armenian American issue as important as standing up for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and more importantly, speaking truth to power against those in Congress who do not recognize the genocide, I am more than capable of doing that and I’ll be a champion of that cause, the cause of my parents and grandparents.
I ask Armenian Americans to give as generously as they possible can. If they do that, we will certainly have the financial resources to beat one of our worst enemies in the U.S. Congress. If the community is not willing to embrace this campaign, with all that they can possibly do, then we should never complain when the U.S. government doesn’t recognize the genocide, because my Congressional race is ground zero of the Armenian Genocide battle. Ground zero! We have a huge trial that I know many of your readers have been following, and people need to support it. We don’t need help writing things, we don’t need any help in policy, making phone calls.
That is all done by professionals in the district. What we do need is the financial resources to ensure that we do all that and we do it well, and show the party in Washington that we can raise the money and that them backing us is a smart move, because we will win.
Absent the money, we will not win. It’s as simple as that.
K.M.: Back to Ohio, you have on several occasions said that your opponent, instead of concentrating on issues you mentioned—like the economy, healthcare, education—is going after you individually and filing complaints, withdrawing them, introducing new ones. How does all this play in Ohio?
D.K.: We think she has made a terrible mistake filing these claims against me. We think that her strings are being pulled by the Turkish lobby, and my personal opinion is that if she had the opportunity to do it over, she never would have brought these charges against me. In fact, last week, as you reported, she dropped [four] of these charges, because she knew that she wasn’t going to be able to prove that she wasn’t a genocide denier, so it looks pretty silly when we’ve got all this problems that the country is facing, she’s filing false claims statements against me, and then having to drop those claims. It makes her look erratic.
One week from today, we get to depose her (Eds: Schmidt was deposed Monday. www.asbarez.com/2009/08/26/rep-schmidt-deposed-in-krikorian-case/) We will take her sworn testimony. If you’re a sitting Member of Congress, you should not give your opponent the opportunity to take your sworn testimony in a deposition. That’s what she’s gone ahead and done. By bringing this case against me she’s given me a tremendous amount of publicity, and that publicity is free. And what it does is it shows that the race is between Krikorian and Schmidt. The more they write about this in the local papers and on the national scene, the more the voters in the district will say, “This race is Schmidt versus Krikorian, that’s what the race is all about”!
Most of the district voted against her in 2008. They don’t like her. But the Democrats never ran a candidate who was capable of beating her. We have an unbelievable opportunity to finally do that.
Q&A: Paul Mckenna Jr. , Glendale News Press Aug 26 2009 Ca
"It's not a young person's war anymore. I turned 50 on my way to Iraq," he said. "But to look at young people who I met for the first time and then six months later was in a combat zone with them, and to see the growth, it gives us a lot to be proud of."
McKenna, a Unites States Marine from 1977 to 1985, tried his hand at acting, teaching and served as vice president of a transportation company before joining the Army National Guard about 16 years later.
He served in Bosnia from 2005 to 2006 and in Iraq beginning in 2008.
The Sgt. First Class sergeant first class returned from Iraq two weeks ago, where he supported convoys of third-country nationals and American contractors taking everything from food and water to ammunition and mail on some of the nation's country's most dangerous roads.
The Kiwanis member is preparing again to enter the job market as a Realtor at Keller Williams. We caught up with him at his family's home in Burbank, where he lives with his wife, Janet, and their 7-year-old son, Liam.
CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO: What strikes you most about returning home?
PAUL MCKENNA JR.: How much Liam has changed and grown. I am also always overwhelmed with what Janet has gone through and what she has done. I look at how she's maintained the house, finances. She's got seven years in the Burbank Unified School District and she was put on the layoff list. She had to change schools and went to Bret Harte to stay with the district. I just wish I had been here for that. These are things that are life altering for them, and I wasn't here.
Q: How has fighting abroad changed your perspective on the world and other cultures?
A: The world is a small place. One of the things I came back from Bosnia with, I was embarrassed. I learned more about the Armenian Genocide there than I did in Burbank. We were there fighting a genocide and in doing so we learned about the history of genocide.
It's made me closer to my neighbors in that respect. You see people coming from other parts of the world and you have a greater understanding for why they are coming. I also gained a much deeper respect for the youth. We look at MTV, I'll use that as a general term, and you see that as the youth of America. Both times I've been deployed with central and northern California units and you see people from very small outlooks on the world and then you see how much they've changed in 14, 16 months. It really, really has been rewarding to see the future of America.
Q: What in your experience has been the biggest difference between these two wars?
A: I think the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. When he released the oil into the gulf he declared war on the ecosystem, not on the United States. He declared war on the people of the world. For that reason I will never think that going to Iraq was wrong. Because that mission was completed and the world is a better place. From that day forward it's all politics.
Q: We hear Afghanistan defined by the administration as a "war of necessity," as opposed to Iraq, which senior officials on up to President Obama have dubbed a "war of choice."
A: I disagree with that. I do think that there were aspects of Iraq that were unfinished business. President Bush wanted to go in. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a parrot for the administration, I'm not going to agree with everything that took place, but as I said, the world's a better place. In an era of terrorism, that's one terrorist that has been eliminated. Going to Afghanistan, the aspects of the country with Osama bin Laden, whether or not that's a realistic objective still, I have a lot of friends of mine that served there. I just think that the success on those two battlefields, the success that's been noted in history, is what we've got to look at. We have to realize that it's a long, prolonged situation, and whether or not the American people are willing to do that is to be determined.
Q: Improvised explosive devices cause the most injuries in both wars. From Oct. 2001, through July 2009, according to a the defense department, explosive devices caused 25,353 American casualties whereas gunshot injuries caused 4,102 casualties. But as in past wars, the likelihood of an American dying from an I.E.D. once injured --9.7 percent -- remained far behind the dangers of the bullets, which killed 20.3 percent of the soldiers they struck. Can you talk about the challenges I.E.D.'s pose?
A: The equipment that we use is incredible. We had vehicles hit by I.E.D.s that didn't even mar the paint. And I am talking about an I.E.D. that took out a guardrail. Some of the things that happened to our soldiers involved traumatic head injuries. For these reasons the escalation bothers me. The type of weapons that we use now on people we used to use on people. What I would think is one of our darkest days in Iraq, they took out a vehicle (long pause), they used the same size truck bomb as was used for the Oklahoma federal building. And that escalation it doesn't necessarily (long pause) make me feel like we're leaving the world a better place.
Q: The president last week told a group of veterans that he is on course to end the fighting in Iraq, pulling out combat brigades this year, followed by all combat troops by next August and all troops by the end of 2011. Is victory achievable and, if so, what does it look like?
A: Iraq has had its victories. It has its victory in the sense that Saddam Hussein is gone. They have elections now. They have their own security force in. The critics look at the challenges that the security force is being faced with now. I was in Baghdad June 30, the day that our forces were being removed completely from the cities. I actually went to get my passport renewed at the embassy on the fifth or sixth of July. It was a Sunday. And I saw other than American soldiers at all of the checkpoints. The violence that we're seeing now is testing that, which is no different than when we were being tested in 2004 to -2005.
I think if we left today, it's a victory. Now we're looking at a hand-over process. You're going to have people who talk about the failures. That's their freedom and their right.
Q: Public support for the war in Afghanistan has reached new lows. This is the war where the president, who has stepped up the number of troops, said the U.S. could and would achieve a clear victory.
A: They are changing their crops, slowly, away from opium. You hope that these are things that will change for generations. I don't know what the definition of a clear victory would be. My definition is bringing soldiers home. A friend just won a distinguished-service cross, the second-highest award that our country presents. His victory was not that day. He would not consider it a victory because it cost him members of his team.
Q: Another thing the president discussed amid torrid healthcare discussions is healthcare for veterans. Still, the number of those seeking help. What could be done?
A: The health system is in place. I know now that if you have active-duty service, combat-related service, it's a minimum of five years from when you come home. That makes a big difference because it used to be, I think, 90 days and going up to 180 for initial things. I remember literally seeing a senator on TV saying 'When I come home, I have other things on my mind other than myself.' I've been assured of a lot of ghosts that will go away in the first 90 days. You just got to come home and deal with them.
Q: Stars and Stripes recently reported that journalists are being "screened" to "determine whether their past coverage has portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light." Is any of the journalism, or, information, getting out to people and if so, what type?
A trained, embedded reporter, going back to the days of Ernie Pyle, they wore a uniform and they trained with you. I think there's value to that. Sticking someone in there that's trying to glorify himself, and therefore he's going to exaggerate or possibly risk the mission --as one well-known reporter did when he revealed troop movement live over the air.
A reporter who is there to tell the people what's going on, about the human side of things as well, that's very valid. A reporter that's there to get a Pulitzer, the value is not there. He becomes a liability rather than an asset.
Q: What has the effect has been since both wars have largely been taken off the front pages of national newspapers and the first segments of the network news?
A: In don't think Americans should ever forget it. There's a number of books where the same type of thing happened in Vietnam. All the way up to the presidential level there was what they considered an acceptable amount of loss. They would literally table it for another week. I think the American people have done more to keep the efforts in the forefront. Things like banner programs, I know the one in Burbank. Things like families that put the names of soldiers when they're killed on their front lawn. These things help people realize that this stuff happens every day.
Unfortunately it's just random acts. It has nothing to do with a soldier's ability. It's what you said earlier on about bullets, it's more random than that, more random than a single-aimed bullet. The American people have done a great job. If the newspaper wants to run it on page four, they can, but the American people won't let it stay there.
Q: Is the consciousness there?
A: Yes, but I think it's a little caviler. I was home on leave for a short time this spring at my son's game and a guy found out I was on leave. He said, 'Oh, nothing's going on over there' when we had just had a truck bombing. I explained that their family through that was significant. It might have been a little more curt than it should have been, because the people around me got quiet, but I think he's a minority. There was time when what I said would have alienated the crowd to me, but it actually alienated it to his statement.
Q: Blackwater, which in 2004 was reportedly hired by the CIA "as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda," has also been in the news of late. What has been your experience with them, and does it make sense to put the country's fighting and reputation in the hands of mercenaries?
A: People don't realize how many Americans or how many people are on the American payroll that are in Iraq. I honestly feel that we're misleading the American people when we say there's 150,000, 120,000 American soldiers there. That may be true, but the number of people on the payroll, the missions that have been completed by contractors, are a whole different thing. That to me is a point of concern. The American soldier should be first and foremost, they step out from the crowd, they do the training, because they know that they will take less pay. They know that they'll be held to different standards. They're doing it the right way. The rules contractors work under are totally different. It gives the world a different impression of all of us. It taints it.
Government Of Myths, Lragir 24/08/2009, Interview By Siranuish Papyan, Interview With Ara Nedolyan, Theatrical Critic And Socialist
What is government and what are its mechanisms and functions, in your opinion?
Government is a simple physical phenomenon. When we say government, we mean the government of people, of society. As a rule, we notice that as soon as people appear in the government they change. I first felt this in the army. When one of our friends became sergeant, everyone was happy, but after the appointment he became a different person, from our point of view, a bad guy, an official who exercises power. And this controversy took place under all the governments I've seen in my life. I started doubting the notion of government, state. When I say government, I imagine the boss sitting in an office and handling human fates. I started thinking what can replace the governor. One must think that a person consciously accepts only a government in which he participates, from which he is not separated. It is possible only in case he is part of that government. He does not entitle someone to government but he is part of government. It is possible only in the case of college government when that college is not restricted, where I can be or not to be, I can be in different colleges, and everyone else can be in one or several colleges. It resembles the soviets created after the February revolution.
How would you describe the nature and structure of government in Armenia?
When the government becomes government illegitimately, insulting people, enters the office and carries out the functions of government in an unsolicited way, it starts looking for a moral compensation. It finds people or groups of people who do not have that natural feeling of insult and are ready to make a deal with the government. These groups can be both in Armenia and outside Armenia. In other words, international organizations which are ready to deal with the government which committed a moral crime.
The moral offense is that they decided that they are the government, a pyramid government based on violence. These people always need a group of friends who accept them the way they are. Therefore, the government which is not popular, collegial, soviet is always looking for an entourage from marginal groups where the social interest is ignored for personal progress.
So, what kind of a government is this?
This is a government which has got marginal friends from everywhere possible. In other words, it finds people and organizations in the world and in the country which cannot deal with the normal society.
And since the like finds the like, are they so similar?
Yes, actually it is true. None of these people would be acceptable, open, agreeable to a normal society. Therefore the government has appeared in this false situation that it is government and uses the entire mythology created during millennia: as if the government knows something that others do not. Yes it knows what must not be known, it knows how to live ignoring other people's rights, justice. They shape different imaginary, religion-like values, as if power is a secret and religious value, as if it knows something that the naïve majority does not know, and it must, it has to ignore moral, legal constitutional norms for the sake of special aims, to tackle dangers which the majority does not see. In other words, they create a fantastic worldview which is typical of alienated groups, governments, which are guided by an A type logic and morality, rather than invented and strange ways of thinking.
They say people deserve the government they have. Do we deserve the government we have?
In absolute terms, I would say the contrary, no people deserve the government they have. It is a test on all peoples which lasts as long as they do not know the way to overcome that test, until they realize that one cannot trust their live to anyone, the hero, the wise, the moral, the just, not even God. In other words, a person looks in the mirror and is afraid of himself, he says there is surely someone better whom I can trust my government.
Returning the question I will say that the people deserve the government who are around it, and only they deserve that government.
As I said, such consciousness occurred after the revolution. Afterwards, all the soviets turned into pyramids under the influence of fear, war, the monarch ruled, and Lenin's profound idea that even the cook can rule a country was destroyed. Now Armenia must realize that it need not fear, it cannot be worse than it is now, and one can easily adopt democratic governance. Armenia is very safe now, the only danger comes from the logic of self-alienation. And the adoption of popular government does not pose any threat.
But it poses danger to the government.
Certainly, what I am saying may sound revolutionary but it can be done very easily. For instance, the first step could be transformation from a presidential into a parliamentary government. Then this principle would be applied lower and lower, for instance the government could be replaced by a regional council, the mayor is replaced by the community council, etc, and afterwards all the agencies of the government and the society could be turned into colleges, including heads of departments, party leaders, religious leaders, directors, editors-in-chief, generals, officers, managers...
In your opinion, what is the problem of the state and the government?
The government, looking for friends, has something to pay for that friendship. It is government. In other words, the government imagines that it has power and pays power for friendship. Today we run across a very strange phenomenon when the criminal world rules the policemen, in other words, the police imagine that they have power and do not dare to share it with the society and share power with a marginal group. Power is a burden which is always perverted. There is a saying that politics is the way to avoid responsibility. It is really a heavy burden, and the only way out is to share it with all the people. People must be aware that there is such a heavy burden, and it is impossible to trust that to someone or some group. We all must carry that weight. And the government overlaps with the society in the present stage of human evolution.
Does the Armenian government fulfill its functions? Whom does it represent, whose interests does it protect?
I remember all the governments that I have seen. First, the soviet government was happy to lose to the government of the second republic. In the elections in the 1990s it cheered the All-Armenian National Movement and resigned from politics and was reluctant to remain in politics, to continue to fight for power in the next election. It gave off the burden with a sense of tired satisfaction. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was also aware that he had to rid of that heavy burden, and he easily did that at a convenient time. Robert Kocharyan with an uneasy sense in his body and a desperate facial expression did not resemble a person who had reached the desired goal, gained power. Maybe he got used to that during ten years but he handed power with the same ease. Serge Sargsyan's face looks very unhappy. It shows that power is a heavy burden. People invent fantastic consolations, find irresponsible social groups with whom they share power.
As to the question, the government protects private interests, that is interests which cannot be common. A simple example. I walk along the coast of the lake Sevan but I cannot go close, fences, private property, "amenities"... The government protects the interests of their owners but cannot protect my interest, right and freedom to walk on the coast of the lake Sevan as a citizen, as a citizen of the world.
Is the government of Armenia adequate to the problems, the challenges that Armenia and the world are facing?
There are two languages in the world, the first is the language of ideas, principles, expediency, the second is the language of private interests, deals. Both languages are equally used in the world. We choose the language for others to talk to us. For instance, imagine President Obama has to solve some problem with Armenia. He is not partial, neither loves nor hates. He consults his advisers to decide what language to use to solve that problem with Armenia. Is it worthwhile to speak in terms of ideas, meaning, morality? Looking at the Armenian government, he understands that it is meaningless. He asks his adviser what other language they can use to solve that problem. And since we said that this government can protect only personal interests, he can communicate in terms of personal interests.
In what way can the society restore its right to shape government?
There are two ways. The first is to alter the government radically to resemble at least formally to a collegial government. In other words, when you demand reforms, you should be aware what you are demanding, you should understand that the notion of a boss should be eliminated, it should be replaced by colleges. Second, the border between the government and the society should be eliminated, in other words, government agencies should be created in the society, agencies which have no walls, and everyone can participate in them. It is necessary to create serious and authoritative social government agencies, organizations not to have a tsar.
So when will they start talking to us in terms of meaning?
I think it can happen at any time. They talk in terms of meaning to peoples and societies, they talk in terms of instinct with alienated elites. As soon as it is necessary to talk to the society to solve a problem in Armenia, and people have the least organization to have someone speak on their behalf, any force will have to talk in terms of meaning. Otherwise, the language the shepherd speaks to the sheep is quite enough.
In your opinion, is the society aware of and does it participate in public governance, decision making?
Certainly, the government is unaware, it is not its business, and as soon as you try to know, the government says with surprise: it is not your business, don't poke your nose into our affairs, this is a system of support of private interests. I cannot go to the office of Gagik Tsarukyan and say why are doing this and that. The government agencies are similar offices, and the society feels that poking its nose into private interests is not its business
What kind of government would you like to have in Armenia?
When what I said comes true, as you said, people will deserve their government. In other words, we will know and maybe we will be surprised that those qualities are higher than we had thought.
Grigor Norekian: Those who see IT even once cannot but fall in love with IT, and ITS name is ARMENIA
The painter Grigor Norekian was born in 1941 in Lebanon. He received his preliminary education at Lebanon's art academy, then he contunied his studies at the state art academies in Italy and France. He lived in France and Italy for 30 years, after which he returned to Lebanon. His first exhibition was held in 1966, with drawings and engravings mainly being displayed. With time he became fascinated with painting as a result of stylistic changes.
- What do you prefer to paint - portraits, still lifes or anything else?
- I do not attach special importance to what I am painting, what really matters to me is the process of painting, the fact that I am standing before a white canvas. The rest is born on its own, depending on my mood, the inspiration I have at that moment. My mood and the sensation of the moment prompt the contents of the given canvas to me. The most essential thing is my contact with the canvas, the process of work. If I decided in advance what to paint, nothing would come of it. I usually lock myself in my studio, turn on music and start painting.
First of all, the painting has to convey my mood, regardless of whether it is a landscape, a portrait or a still life... In the process of work I feel what I want to paint.
- What painting school do you belong to? What is your favorite style?
- Each painter has his (her) own school. Each of us is proceeding along a path. The word "school" lost its original meaning long ago. Everything has become a mixture. I do not follow any "ism". None of those "ism"s (cubism, impressionism, etc.) exists today, everything is free now, the world is free, but we should not forget that everything is beautiful when it is within reasonable limits. There is a general human movement, by which we all walk. Some group directions, in which the sensual aspect prevails, are most intimate to me.
- You have lived in various countries, which of these environments - Lebanon, France, or Italy was especially inspiring?
- The environment has never had a particular, or to put it more precisely, a direct impact on my work because I do not work outside. I alsways work in my studio and prior to entering this room, I become detached from the outside world. The outside environment just remains in my consciousness and self-consciousness. Of course, this affects indirectly my mood, but I would not call it inspiration. It inspires my consciousness, but never my paintings.
- Are you familiar with any Armenian painters, their works?
- In fact I am not familair with them, I know few people in Armenia. For example, I know the RA Ministry of Diaspora and the Minister of Diaspora who warmly received me, by which I was deeply touched. I was impressed by our talk on various subjects. I should say that underneath her strict appearance, there is a friendly, amiable and pleasant interlocutor. The minister is very diligent person, while the ministry has much work to do. We, Diaspora Armenians, have great expectations from the Ministry of Diaspora and Minister Ms. Hakobian.
- I am sure you are familiar with works of Armenian painters. What is your impression of Armenian painting in general?
- Every time when I come to Armenia, I buy albums with works of Armenian artists. I study these albums myself and give them to my pupils for familiarization. I know quite well, so to speak, Armenian classics - Sarian, Minas Avetisian and others. I admire them.
- How many personal exhibitions have you had?
- My first exhibition was held in 1966, at which my engravings and drawings were mainly presented. I was keen on them in those years. Then of course I turned to painting, although I also draw from time to time. There have been so many exhibitions that I see no point in enumerating them. I only want to mention that these were mostly exhibition-sales.
- What is your reaction when one or another of your paintings has been sold? Many artists find it difficult to part with their works, or in other words, their children.
- You know, every artist puts so much spirit and soul in his works that they really become his children. However, like a child, a painting has its own life and story. It is born, grows up, matures and then leaves the parent to live a separate life, to find a place under the sun. This happens to my paintings as well. I am glad that my children have their place in this world. However, among them are some works that never abandon me or my memory. They are connected with me by kind of invisible threads and I constantly need them.
- The attitude to events, life, their perception changes with age. Has the philosophy of your paintings changed?
- Yes, it has changed, but it is first of all your hand that changes. With time you start to think more. The thought of whether you have created a good thing never leaves you in peace. When you are young, everything is so easy: you just create and do not care about your work. In my opinion, older artists paint worse as they struggle more with themselves and are more concerned as they are aware of the fact that little time remains and they must create only permanent values. This is the main reason why you start complaining about everything, you are dissatisfied with the results, criticizing yourself more and more frequently. "Am I on a correct path?" - this question becomes an inseparable part of your life and an obstacle.
There are days when you enter your studio and then leave it, you do not want to work, you create nothing.
- You are on a third visit to Armenia... What did your eyes and soul see when you first came to Armenia?
- Yes, this is my third visit to Homeland over the past three years. My impressions defy description.
I must confess that I arrived in Armenia for the first time at night so at first I did not see anything unusual. But on the way from the airport I began to feel the breath of Homeland, its sweet-smelling air. When I saw those two giants - Sis and Masis, I wept as a child. Many do not understand why we shed tears at the sight of Mount Ararat. You always see this wonder so you have become used to it. We hang its image in our homes with pride and homesickness, often tearing it out of a calendar or something else. In Armenia, I saw Ararat in reality.
It was an indescribable impression and feeling.
I felt a second shock (in the positive sense) in Geghard. My God! With what great belief this church was built, or rather, hewn! What acoustics! What a wonder! Believe me when I stood there, I said in my mind: "My God, if you really exist, you are here". You know, I really felt the presence of God there. It is a strong church. A thing built with faith lives for ever.
- What are your impressions of Sevan?
- When we read about Lake Sevan in a school textook in my childhood, I used to imagine a small lake. In Armenia, I was impressed by this ravishing blue-eyed marvel. My God! What colors it has! What a wonderful lake! I wonder why some people ask me what things in Armenia make me love it so much. Do you know what I reply in such cases?
- Tell us, please.
- I ask these people: "Why do you love your wife who is not very good-looking in my eyes?" I love ... because I love.
Those who see IT once cannot but fall in love with IT, and ITS name is ARMENIA.
(c)2009 "Armenians Today"