- Vardan Petrosyan – Armenians Are Like Chickens, Always Pecking At The Same Scraps
- “bloody Turk” Op-Ed Appears In Today’s Zaman; Author Claims Some Armenians “hopeless Racists
- Armenia-Turkey: Will Economic Dividends Be Able To Spur The Protocol Ratification? Analysis
- President Sargsyan. "Where Are We Going? Personally I Am Headed For The Resolution Of The Problems"
- Commentary: Arf Actions Against Armenian Government In America Are Wrong
- From Opening to Armenia to the Opening of the Memory, By Ayse Hur
- Press Freedom: The Politicization of Turkish Media, Seda Savas and Aaron Stein
- Why Ratify Protocols? Let Azerbaijan And Turkey End Their Self-Inflicted Blockades Without Armenia's Capitulation, Jabarian
- Turkey And Azerbaijan Try To Undermine Appointment Of Canadian-Armenian Judge, Sassounian
- Wave Of Misinformation Hits Lebanese Media Shore, Kandaharian
- Real Independence Opportunity for Armenia, Yazar
- Codes of Armenia, Başlamış,
- Turkey's War On Press, Aydintasbas
- Gunaysu: Impossibility Of Discussing Giro Manoyan’s Comments In Turkey
- Anti-Americanism in a Poisoned Tank, Cagaptay
- Armenian Diaspora Is Egoist, Laciner
- US Policies In Caucasus Could Lead To Further Russian Influence, Maruskin
- Weary Of 'I-Told-You-So's', Bekdil
- Now We're Getting Somewhere, Aren't We? The Historian
- Armenia, Diaspora Must Form "Strategic Pin" For Turkey, Gevorgyan
- Avoiding Armenian Mafia Life, Garbis
- Dangerous Game Or Good Diplomacy?, Mkrtchyan
- Armenian Parliament Is Preparing For Hearings Of Protocol, Analysis, Ghazinyan
- Globalization Will Come From Turkey, Hayrumyan
- What Will Be Proved? Lragir, Badalyan
- Armenian-Turkish Relations: Viewpoint From Ankara, Balayan
- Bryza Has Done His Duty, Let Him Go, Or Does Azerbaijan Need Such 'Americanization'?, Stepanyan
- Protocols and Political Trio: Ter-Petrossyan, Hovannisian and Voskanian, Jabarian
- In Moscow And Istanbul, Armenians React To Protocols With Caution And Concern “Normalization, But At What Price?”, Hakobyan
- Finding Armenians Of Central America, Bedrossian
- “Football Diplomacy”: Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement, Mirak-Weissbach
- Ghosts Of Turkish Season, Toranian
- Turkish Writer Addresses Letter To Armenian President
- After All It’s a Gate, Isn’t It Dear… Ozdil
- Genocide Distortion from Armenian Agency Cumhuriyet
- Blow to Armenian Lobby in USA, Idiz
- Dilemmas of Armenian History Writing, GenocideReality Editor
- Armenia Is Struggling With “Histriyoni” Virus!, Eryaman
- Worried Beads: Future of Diaspora, Manjikian
- Armenians of Central America
- Do Not Ratify!, Abrahamian
- Reaction of Traditional Armenian Parties, ARF Slams Protocols as ‘Dangerous’ for Armenia
- Khanjian Expresses Concerns About Armenia
- Our Last Name is Gavoor, Gavoor
- Calling a Spade a Spade Analysis Civilitas
- Getting This Wrong Will Be Unforgivable Analysis, Oskanian
- Statement Of President Sargsyan At The Annual Gathering Of The Mfa Senior Executive Staff And Heads Of The Armenian Embassies And Consulates Abroad
- Haunted By History, Owen Matthews
- Protocols For Relations Between Armenia and Turkey, Hetq
- Still Trying To Comprehend The Logic Not To Keep Repeating Myself, But Nevertheless…Hetq
- Armenia-Turkey: Debate Over Border Opening Becomes Even More Diverse, Abrahamyan
- Open Letter To Paul Theroux On His Latest Book “Ghost Train To The Eastern Star,” On Tracks Of Great Railway Bazaar, Yuksel Oktay
Vardan Petrosyan – Armenians Are Like Chickens, Always Pecking At The Same Scraps, 2009/09/19 Lilit Nurijanyan
Well-known Armenian humorist and social commentator Vardan Petrosyan yesterday expressed his view on Armenian-Turkish relations and stated that he was against the opening of the border under any conditions, whether linked to preconditions or not. We will find ourselves in a trap he noted if the border is opened.
“When only one of the four doors of my little room is open I can get to thinking how nice it would be for the other three doors to open as well, that with all doors open to the outside things will get better and I’ll become much freer. But when all four open and the room is filled with ferocity and viciousness I want to go back to the way it was before with only the one door opening,” Mr. Petrosyan said.
Mr. Petrosyan has lived in Paris for many years and he is concerned that the problems created by Muslims there will be repeated here as well.
“I cannot stand the fact that the Muslims are destroying Paris and nobody punishes them for their actions. I am terrified that Muslim youth can go around lighting hundreds of cars on fire in downtown Paris and the French walk around cowering with their heads hung low. Will the same happen here as well?” Mr. Petrosyan asked.
He said that in his play “Verelk” there is a scene from his childhood about how he would trap chickens in the village. He would place chicken feed on the ground under a basin and wait for a chicken to come by and peck at the bird feed. Then he’d pull the string which would remove the wooden stick and the basin would fall and capture the bird underneath. He likened the behaviour of Armenians to that of chickens always eating the same feed and always making the same mistakes; never learning lessons from the past.
“Bloody Turk” Op-Ed Appears In Today’s Zaman; Author Claims Some Armenians “Hopeless Racists”, [ 2009/09/18
What follows is an op-ed penned entitled “Bloody Turk” by Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish journalist and founding member of Amnesty Turkey, that appears in the September 18 edition of Today’s Zaman. While the author recognized the “massacres” of Armenians as a premeditated crime orchestrated by the Committee of Union and Progress, he laments the fact that some Armenians “have become hopless racists while believing that they are seeking justice”. Here’s the article:
I am not a religious person. I am not Kurdish. I am not gay. I am not Christian. I am not Armenian. I am not Roma. But I have spent all my life defending these people’s rights.
I am a human rights defender. When I describe myself, I say I am a human rights defender, a lawyer and a writer. It was during my first time in London in 1998 that I realized, no matter what I do, I was a “bloody Turk” for some people. Ironically, I was working for the Kurdish Human Right Project there, and we were taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights, as a result of which I felt deeply threatened by the deep state elements in my country. When I met with the Armenian community in London, I turned into a representative of Turkey. It was the first time my “Turkishness” took precedence over all my qualifications.
Massacres of Armenians were orchestrated and organized by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) — which came to power through a military coup — while the Ottoman Empire was falling apart. After these massacres and as a result of the lack of confrontation with our past, the CUP and its gangs changed their format and turned into the “deep state” in Turkey. These deep state elements continued their massacres and manipulations and drenched Turkey with blood during the Republican era. We have these deep state elements, but we also have many people fighting against them with or without knowing the history. The Ergenekon trial, in this sense, is a turning point in this endeavor in Turkey. You can think of the Ergenekon gang as the armed wing of the CUP in today’s Turkey.
The massacres of Armenians were carried out by a certain mindset, by a political movement. Unfortunately, this political movement also created the official Turkish history, one in which there is no place for Armenians. And the state is in complete denial of what happened in Turkey in the past. This denial unfortunately gives strong support to a racist approach toward Turkey and its people.
I was in Toronto last year attending an extremely interesting course on genocide. For two weeks we went into all the details of different genocides that took place in various parts of the world. All lecturers gave exemplary presentations, and I felt I had really learned something. However, I also realized that there was a fundamental difference in the way in which the Armenian genocide is being handled. When we spoke about the Holocaust, we spoke of the Nazi regime; when we discussed the genocide in Cambodia, we talked about the Khmer regime; when it came to the Armenian genocide, though, we only heard the word “Turks.”
Complete and blanket denial feeds complete and absolute labeling. This is a vicious circle. It is very unfortunate that some Armenians, while believing they are seeking justice, have turned into hopeless racists. They do not want to believe that there are many good people in this country. They do not want to remember that there were also Turks who lost their lives while trying to protect Armenians. They hold tightly on to this image of the “bloody Turk.” Every Turk, every individual living in Turkey, is just a murderer for them.
The pathology of amnesia and the pathology of blind hatred are two sides of one coin. They both serve the same purpose: Both leave Turks and Armenians as deeply neurotic people.
In the midst of all this madness, Hrant Dink was a safe haven of reason, wisdom and compassion. He had a deep understanding of Turkey and the trauma we have been suffering for so long. He was killed because he was the hope in the face of this madness. He could have been killed by an Armenian racist. But instead, he was killed by Turkish racists, of course, under the guidance of the deep state. Dink was a bloody Turk for Armenian racists and an Armenian traitor for racist Turks. He was a dangerous figure for all who wanted to continue this vicious circle of hatred. During his funeral, we chanted, “We all are Hrant Dink.” We all need to be Dink if we wish to contribute to reconciliation. I bow respectfully before his memory.
4 Responses to ““Bloody Turk” Op-Ed Appears in Today’s Zaman; Author Claims Some Armenians “Hopeless Racists””
September 18th, 2009
The problem with Mr. Orhan’s logic is that he looks at the victim and the perpetrator from the same perspective.
Yes, it is true that there are Turks who have saved Armenians and in the process suffered …
Yes, it is true that there are Turks in today’s Turkey who realize that there is something wrong with their official history line, and therefore question it and, by doing so, are in opposition to and suffer from the Government and the nationalists …
Yes, it is true that there are Armenians who will “blindly” say that all Turks are the same, that is, “bloody” …
But, for god’s sake, let us not forget that the Armenians are the VICTIMS of a regime whose successors have equally well perpetrated genocidal policies towards the remaining Armenians in Turkey, their cultural heritage, etc.
So what are we expecting here?
That I, as one of the majority of moderate Armenians (I believe that by nature Armenians are more conciliatory, forgiving, non-nationalist – maybe partly because they are tired of this 90 year old fight or because most live in a comfortable diaspora) trust the Turks (even though I know that there are many who question their official history) and be gullible enough to accept their proposals of peace and reconciliation under the pretense that we should heal past wounds, while the vast majority of the Turks, ignorant of their real history (and here the proportions are reversed, due to historic and societal reasons) blindly hate Armenians and swear to still annihilate us?
I would like to see the positive steps from official Turkey before I feel comfortable enough to trust the Turkish government…
September 18th, 2009
I’m sorry, but let’s have the “Turks” or the “Turkish government” or “Turkey” or whatever you want to call the actual, legal and moral successors of the genocidal culprits admit, apologize and try to make amends before we get into Armenian reactions to the mruder, rape and dispossession of virtually their entire millenia-old nation. There appears to be a repeatedly gross expectation amongst even liberal Turks that the Armenians owe something too and are somehow blameworthy. Armenians lost everything and have received nothing but continuing brutatlity from the perpatrators and their progeny for over 90 years. To the contrary Mr. Cengiz, any observer who is mildly aware of the facts of the genocide would be bewildered by how patient and forgiving the Armenians have been and are willing to be.
September 19th, 2009
Dear Mr. Cengiz,
When we speak about the Holocaust, we speak of the Nazi regime; because today’s Germany does not actively deny the Holocaust.
When we discuss the genocide in Cambodia, we talked about the Khmer regime; because the present day Cambodian government does not deny the genocide.
When it comes to the Armenian genocide, though, we only hear the word “Turks”; because Turkey not only actively denies the truth but is engaged in re-writing history and threatening every government which states the facts the way they are.
Can you explain which of the above statements is flawed?
September 19th, 2009
Dear Mr. Cengiz,
First of all, thank you for your courage to “tackle” some simple facts regarding the Armenian Genocide in Turkish media- Not an easy task….! Unfortunately, you missed the point and this is: ” to save the victims from being murdered a second time”
The slanderous denial and obfuscation of genocide is in itself not all that far removed from the planning and implementation. The modern cases of genocide that have occurred are well-known. An official policy of denial like that of Turkey – a land which seemingly suffers from a general, nationally sanctified case of collective amnesia – can only fertilize the soil needed for the repetition of comparable crimes. That is why, despite all the expected threats and the massive disinformation spread, it is of imperative importance that every democratic country , the world community, acknowledges the genocide of the Armenian People. This acknowledgment is important not just for the Armenians themselves, but for the whole of mankind. For here we are dealing with an officially sanctified denial and cover-up of an event widely witnessed and heavily documented in both US archives, those of many Eeuropean countries : The systematic extermination of an ethnic group. We cannot and must not allow ourselves to ignore the criminal policy of defamation being carried out by the Republic of Turkey. Indeed, as the former Israeli Minister of Education and Member of Knesset wrote in reference to the Armenian Genocide: “We can not accept victims without murderers, genocide without the responsible. An orphaned genocide is the father of the next genocide.” Yossi Sarid, Haaretz, April 27th, 2005).
Co-existence is an obligation of the people of the world. How the question of co-existence between the Turks and Armenians in Turkey was solved by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923 can be gleaned from relevant literature. In this case, Turkey obviously confused the Implementation of the internationally approved reforms of 1914 regarding Turkish-Armenia with the Elimination of Armenians in Turkey. In February 1914, Turkey once again signed contracts swearing to implement reforms for the Armenians and promising the Armenians an end to atrocities. The Turkish government, however, took advantage of the first opportunity available to betray their very own citizens and to rid themselves of both the promised-but-disagreeable reforms and the reasons for the reforms. After undersigning the international treaty for reforms, Turkey used innuendo, accusations, and targeted disinformation to create a situation of hate and mistrust so as to set the machinery in motion for the total extermination of the Armenians. This reveals, in turn, how trustworthy Turkey is.
To the independent historian, it is undisputed fact that Turkey systematically and cruelly liquidated a large part of the Armenian people during the First World War. The exterminating acts perpetrated by the Young Turkish government were in no way limited to the territory of Ottoman Turkey alone, but rather extended all the way to the northwest of Iran (which was briefly occupied by the Ottoman Turks) and only found their provisional end in the Caucasus. No intelligent, seriously-thinking person questions the fact of the systematic annihilation of the Armenians by Turkey. At the time it was happening, even Talaat Pasha – the then Turkish Secretary of Interior and one of those responsible – openly admitted it was going on to foreign diplomats. But even that which was freely admitted by those in charge at the time is now vehemently denied by the Turkish government of today. They even go so far as to claim the victims as the perpetrators, which in itself is a both a result and proof of Turkey’s dangerous loss of memory.
Generations have had to deal with the genocide of the Armenians. And much time and energy has been wasted – time and energy which could have been constructively used for compensation and reconciliation. As long as Ankara continues to carry out international diplomatic feuds and to view the acknowledgment and condemnation of the genocide as only provocation or national humiliation, it has not and cannot understand what humanity, democracy, compensation, reconciliation civilized society, Europe and the culture of remembrance means. As a result, communication and interrelations with the free, democratic world will naturally remain troubled and disturbed. That is why the time has come for Turkey to look in the mirror.
It cannot be that the numerous reports of German, UK, France and American Ambassadors and Consuls continue to be labeled as lies. It is wrong for Turkey, in their targeted and sordid propaganda, to declare the Armenians as a fifth column and as traitors simply because they chose, in some places, to resist the exterminating machinery of a government that should have actually been protecting them instead of killing them. The real fact of the matter is that the Turkish state betrayed and brutally murdered its Armenian subjects.
During the “Deportation to Death” implemented by the Young Turkish junta in 1915, some Armenian men were murdered prior to, some at the beginning and others during the death marches. Women and children were exposed to the most indescribable atrocities. The death marches ended in the desert, in the middle of “nowhere.” Immediately after the “Deportation of the Armenians” all Armenian property suddenly, miraculously, became Turkish; for the Armenians in Turkey, to be “sent away” (”Sevkiyat”) was their death sentence. In the shadow of the First World War, these death marches were nothing less than the systematic extermination of the Armenian and many other non-Turkish minorities of Ottoman Turkey, all of whom were killed simply because of their ethnic and religious affiliations. As defined in the United Nations Convention on Genocide, this is nothing other than genocide.
The slanderous and obfuscating methods of Turkey regarding the completion of the genocide begun in 1915 are no less precise. Unfortunately, for some reason or other, some democratic countries still yield to the aggressive Turkish nationalist stance and handle Turkey with kid’s gloves instead of taking them clearly to task in regard to Turkey’s continual denial of the genocide.
Presently, 94 years after the instigation of the genocide of the Armenians, selected Turkish “historians” maintain – for their own self-satisfaction and for the targeted deception of the Turkish and international public – that “there was no official document ordering the extermination.” If this Turkish logic were to be followed through, the Holocaust would also be open to question; as is well-known, no official document ordering the extermination was ever supposedly issued under the National Socialist Regime either. The malicious denial of the Turkish-instigated genocide of the Armenians and the continual demand for still more proof is a byproduct of the “glorious history” invented by Turkish bureaucrats for this “chosen people.” This invented, glorious history declares all civilized people who ever existed within the perimeter of today’s Turkey – no matter what their indigenous culture is or was – as proto-Turks. Armenians, of course, do not belong to this. The splendid history of Turkey, an artificial, eulogistic and ideological fabrication, continues to exclude the worst and darkest sides of Turkey’s past – such as the systematic extermination of the Armenians.
In Turkey today, a coalition of fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists rules which seemingly can only hold its nation together through rude nationalism and by keeping the old bogeymen alive. This coalition, lacking all moral and shame, continually busies itself with the invention of more new justifications and excuses explaining the “sudden” disappearance of the first Christian people from their historical home (among other places) as well as for the destruction of their unique, ancient culture.
94 years after the “Deportation to Death of the Armenians” the paranoid Turkish government – as well as all Turkish politicians of every color – continues to practice the policy of denial with a diplomatic ruthlessness similar to that of the Pashas responsible for the genocide. Even if the responsibility of the genocide lies with the government of that time, the Turkish elite of today make themselves moral accomplices through their continual policy of denial.
Moral, however, has never played a role in the Turkish politics. Through its defamatory policy of denial, Turkey has not only ignored all rules of decent behavior but also the very history of the genocide. In doing this, they are merely being consequent to the historical policies of their ancestors. Back then it was no different: “…Once the gendarmes had killed a number of Armenians, Faiz El-Ghussein – the former chief district administrator of Mamuret ul-Aziz (today: Elazig) – reported, they put turbans on the corpses and fetched Kurdish women who cried and wailed over the dead, having been told that the Armenians had killed their people. Then they got a photographer to take photographs of the scene. It all then served as proof of the alleged Armenian atrocities.” (Rolf Hosffeld: “Operation Nemesis, Die Türkei, Deutschland und der Völkermord an den Armeniern”) Similarly, in the “modern” Turkey of today, in the schools Armenian children are forced to write essays on how their ancestors committed massacres of the Turks. Turkey, a land that has undertaken every attempt to forbid the use of the word “genocide,” has no compunctions against raising a monument celebrating its own supposed “victims of genocide” – exactly at the location where, prior to the genocide, the international contracts had specified the founding of Turkish-Armenia (and/or the “Armenian Provinces of Ottoman Turkey”): At the foot of the Ararat Mountain, a holy site for Armenians, the Turkish government has opened a “Museum of Genocide” (”Soykirim Muezesi”) to commemorate their own “victims of genocide” and falsify history. This museum is nothing less than targeted provocation of the real victims of the genocide.
During the genocide, many courageous Americans, Turks, Ottoman Muslims , Arabsand other people of differing nationalities saved the lives of numerous Armenians. Some these courageous Turks had to pay for their bravery with their own lives; some suffered other state-sanctified repercussions. Even in “modern” Turkey, independent historians and journalists do not have an easy life, especially if they undertake any attempt to question the official national dogma regarding this subject. In such cases, the former Turkish Minister of Justice – back in 2005- speaks of the “stabbing Turkey in the back with a dagger” and of the betrayal of the fatherland. (In Turkey, such utterances – especially when coming from a minister of the government – can be the equivalent of a death sentence and are reminiscent of the fatwa of the religious fanatics.) This minister, who enjoys the full support and protection of Prime Minister Erdogan, must have earlier read the book Mein Kampf – a best-seller in Turkey – for the parallels between the Turkish arguments and Nazi terminology are too obvious. During a journey in Switzerland in 2005, a Turkish politician spoke of the genocide of the Armenians as an “imperialistic/international lie”. A leader of a leftist splinter party – apparently a member of the “hidden state” in Turkey- who otherwise has no role of importance in Turkish politics and else regards the anti racist laws as “medieval”, this politician (and his hateful verbal outburst), was promptly given full backing and support by Abdullah Gül, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Armenian question has become a vehicle for Turkish politicians to collect political “points” among the Turkish public.
Independent historians from around the world have long passed their judgment on the subject. Genocide is genocide. A commission of historians, as is suggested by Turkey, will and can not change the facts. In the Turkish national identity, however, history is subordinate to the primacy of the policy. After all, who cares about historical facts? For each and every governmentally-dictated domestic policy a history can be – and is – invented. Whether or not this in any way serves to help the peaceful co-existence of the varied ethnic groups on a long-term basis, however, is open to question. Basically, the Turkish politicians are leading their own next generation into an illness commonly known as amnesia.
Human right activist and international community should not let themselves be led astray by the protests of “modern” Turkey, a land which continues to try, in every way possible, to hide and gloss-over the crimes committed against all humanity by the Young Turkish government. International community should take a stand for the unequivocal acknowledgment and condemnation of the genocide of the Armenians: Take a stand for justice. Truth comes by truthfulness. And from truth come justice. To paraphrase the words of the respected writer Elie Wiesel, save the victims from being murdered a second time.
Armenia-Turkey: Will Economic Dividends Be Able To Spur The Protocol Ratification? Analysis By Aris Ghazinyan Armenianow Reporter
The second half of 2009 promises to become one of the most tense periods of modern Armenian history, following the publication on August 31st of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols providing for normalization of bilateral ties.
In the protocols Turkey has set preconditions, according to which Yerevan has to recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity as well as the current Armenian-Turkish state border.
It is yet unknown whether the protocols will be ratified by the Armenian Parliament. It is obvious, however, that there is a promise of certain economic benefits.
In any case, the Armenian side seems to have taken up the process of purchasing railroad stock for the supposedly unblocked section.
Recently, Regnum information agency reported that `a train building plant in Poznan', Poland, will be providing Armenia with three freight trains with engines'.
It was also reported that Armenia's ambassador to Poland had already visited the plant, although the South-Caucasian Railroad LLC did not confirm this piece of information.
RA Minister of Transportation and Communication Gurgen Sargsyan says he does not possess any such information about a possible purchase of trains from Poland, meanwhile Polish newspapers keep bringing up the topic.
Wyborcza newspaper reports the details of Armenian Ambassador to Poland Ashot Galoyan's visit to Poznan': `We are talking about the purchase of 120 freight wagons by Armenia. It is with this deal that the passenger train building plant is hoping to overcome the crisis the firm is currently in.
Yet in September mass reduction of about 530 employees at the plant was planned, however, the Armenian Ambassador's visit must have given a hope for a new order. Polish newspapers write that the ambassador introduced himself as a mediator on behalf of one of major companies in Armenia.
`By opening the Armenian-Turkish border Armenia will gain direct border with Europe,' says RA Minister of Economy Nerses Yeritsyan. `Turkey has diversified enough economy and is undergoing major technological transformation. Turkey also has good communication with Europe and Asia, and is of great interest to Armenian businesses as a territory. If our entrepreneurs operate with initiative, they will secure access and a place in Asian, Middle Eastern and European markets.'
Head of the RA National Assembly's Standing Committee on Economic Issues Vardan Ayvazyan, too, shared his thoughts on the perspectives of Armenia's economic development in case of opening the border.
`The opening of the border can lead to 4 percent growth of GDP, 17.7 percent of export and 13 percent of import,' says Ayvazyan.
Transport Minister Sargsyan, in his turn, stated that `a railway tunnel is being built passing under Bosporus Strait to be completed by 2011 allowing transportation of cargo from China through Armenia and Turkey to Europe .'
This illustrates a generally positive and optimistic approach of Armenian officials to the perspective of unblocking the Armenian-Turkish border and establishing bilateral relations.
Moreover, quite recently Bloomberg spread information that very soon Armenia will be able to replace Georgia as a transit country because of the growing instability of the political situation in Georgia. Turkish newspaper Star, with reference to its own sources, writes that `Turkey can support Armenia's entry into NABUCCO project based on improved relations between the two countries.'
In the nearest future the controversy within the Armenian society on the ways, mechanisms and principles of normalization of the bilateral relations will reach its culmination phase.
Short-term blocks might be formed revealing standpoints on this most important issue.
`Turkey is trying to present its readiness to open the border as `an act of free will', but that's absolutely not true,' says political analyst Armen Avagyan. `Turkey has been blocking Armenia for more than 15 years, and a blockade is a type of war strategy. Ankara is, practically, at war with Yerevan, meanwhile the international community is not duly informed on this issue. '
This week a series of events was launched by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun aimed against the adoption of the Protocols by the Armenian Parliament as they appear in the draft.
According to the organizers of this protest, Armenia has to take several highly important issues onto the international political platform. For example: the blockade of Armenian communication - an unprecedented phenomenon on the whole territory of the European Union, as two rightful members of EU are blocking the third rightful member of EU. Unblocking the Armenian-Turkish border cannot be considered as an act of free will if Turkey does not compensate the cumulative damage intentionally caused to Armenia during the whole period of the blockade.
President Sargsyan. "Where Are We Going? Personally I Am Headed For The Resolution Of The Problems"
Opening remarks of President Sargsyan at the thematic debate on the "Current stage of the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations"
YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 19, NOYAN TAPAN. This is our third meeting in this format. As you remember, the first two meetings of this kind were dedicated to the peaceful resolution of the NK conflict and mitigation of the consequences of the global financial and economic crisis. For me personally, and as I have been told for many of the participants, these discussions were important and necessary not only for sharing views but also for making certain adjustments in our course of actions.
Today, I propose the discussions the current stage of the Armenian-Turkish relations. I expect that this topic will be debated in different formats. In the coming weeks there will be various formats of discussion, I will be initiating and participating in some of them myself and so I've decided to start the series with this meeting. Undoubtedly, with many of you we will also meet during similar discussions elsewhere. I believe in your public activities you will be having opportunities to present your views, while I see today's meeting as a fitting format for continued deliberations on a political dispute which has started some time ago.
The process, which has started after issuing the joint declaration and the pre-signed protocols on the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, is really a positive and important one. And I mean this stage of public and political discussion.
During these days I have familiarized myself with a spectrum of different opinions, took notice of some positive, encouraging calls, some criticism, including harsh one, and I took notice of some concern. Surely, I see the risks as well and I have concerns too. But to evaluate our concerns, to give a proper assessment to the risks and to understand that there are some things we have to do, we should put all our considerations on the table.
By inviting the President of Turkey to Armenia and by initiating this entire process, I have been trying to open a window of opportunity for Armenia and Turkey to normalize bilateral relations, to show that the nation, which went through the devastation of Genocide and the Armenian state ` sturdy and faithful to its people's pain ` is strong enough to reach out and point out the irrationality of moving against the flow of the global development.
At this point I would like to invite your attention to the following: Many would say that it is necessary to negotiate with Turkey, however there is no need to do it openly and publicly. You all know that there have been a number of attempts to do it and this last one indeed differs from the previous ones by its openness. I believe, nevertheless that it should be an open process since tension, which exists between us, is not imaginary, not situational; that tension is not, so to say, war of the elites. It is between our societies and that tension, or to be straight, that animosity is the result of the darkest page of our history ` the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire. If we are to normalize our relations with Turkey at all then above and beyond the political will of Armenia's and Turkey's leadership it is necessary to engage both societies. Otherwise, the problem will not be solved. I realize that publicity has its problems because if the process comes to a dead end then quite naturally, contradictions and animosity I referred to will deepen.
In these first days of public debate, I haven't heard yet an opinion expressed by a political force in opposition to opening the borders. Possibly, it will be voiced today, I don't know, however I am confident that such a stance, at least in the political field, will not be a dominating one, it is not spoken about directly. Viewpoints that oppose the establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey are few or even non-existent. And if this is the starting point for our line of reasoning then we must be able to figure out where we are, what we have, and where we are going. Where we are: This is the stage of 0Adiscussing the pre-signed documents, of signing and possible ratification. Yes, I think it is possible that regarding certain parts of the documents some people find the explanation not very convincing, though I am confident that when it is examined from every angle and with no prejudice, it wouldn't be that way. But even in that case, does it mean that we have lost over some issue? Or rather it means the opening of a working field for debating all issues and solving them? Do we actually conclude or commence with this stage? Let's talk it over today and understand it thoroughly. What do we have? We have two pre-signed documents and an active process. Let's us reckon together what these documents give or take. I am sure you're aware of the details. How to evaluate them? As the answer to the existing problems or the acts which create conditions for the resolution of the problems? Let's us think together whether we sacrifice our principles and our understanding of truth, or instead of confining ourselves in immaculate self-absorption we open the way to bring them to resolution, opening an area for work. Let's think about it.
These days many people ask me questions and the question is the following: what's the minimum and maximum you want to achieve? Establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey I view neither as minimum, nor as maximum. I view the outcome of these processes only as the establishment of minimal conditions which would allow to start a dialogue with the Turks. We have many issues in the realm of the Armenian-Turkish relations that need solving ` ranging from economic and political to historical.
Where are we going? Personally I am headed for the resolution of the problems. If for the resolution of any problem we have closed the door of opportunity, please point it out. Let's assess those problems together. If we sincerely want to normalize relations, and I repeat, so far not a single political force has announced publicly that it opposes the normalization of our relations with Turkey, then let's understand who is going to do what and, in general, what we are going to do together. I think this is the most important issue.
Commentary: ARF Actions Against Armenian Government in America Are Wrong, By Kevork Marashlian
The ARF Eastern Region Central Committee of USA, following orders from their headquarters in Armenia, issued a statement on September 13 denouncing the protocols announced on August 31 by the foreign ministers of Armenia and Turkey for the normalization of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia.
The statement notes that while the Central Committee agrees that Armenia and Turkey `must take steps to normalize relations,' any protocols between the two neighboring countries must be free of preconditions that are dangerous to Armenia's national interests.
The Armenian government and President Serge Sargisian have always announced that Armenia's relations with Turkey must be free of any preconditions. After signing the Protocols, the president and the Foreign Minister of Armenia reiterated that the protocols do not include any preconditions.
At the same time, the ARF statement urges its members to be present and protest against the Armenian Government during a rally if front of the Republic of Armenia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in New York.
You read it right, in front of the Armenian Mission, and not Turkish Mission or the United Nations headquarters itself. The protest is organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) on direct orders from the Central Committee.
In addition, the statements mentions that the Central Committee will lead a national delegation to meet in Washington, DC with Armenian Ambassador to the United States Tatoul Markarian to present and discuss the ARF position on the protocols.
This last gesture is the right thing to do. Every body and every organization is untitled to its opinion. The difference between people and organizations is the way of expressing their opinions.
If you live outside the Republic of Armenia, and you are an Armenian, you do not protest and rally against your government and the people of your motherland in this way, in order to give the mistaken idea that the Republic of Armenia and its leaders are traitors.
You do it by protesting to the ambassador personally, in this case, United Nations Ambassador Garen Nazarian. Mr. Nazarian, who was installed recently, was not even informed officially by the ARF about its plans.
Meanwhile, a delegation of ADL District Committee met with Ambassador Nazarian on September 9 at his office in New York, and discussed the organization's concerns with him.
For many years, the ARF was one of the coalition partners of the Armenian government in Yerevan. Since last April, they have decided rightfully to come out and work as opposition party.
As an opposition party, the ARF is well within its rights to protest against the government of Armenia in Armenia.
But, have you ever seen Republicans organize protests against President Obama and the White House in Paris or London?
This is the first time Armenians are protesting Armenians. I hope it will be the last.
(Kevork Marashlian is the executive secretary of ADL district Committee of Eastern US and Canada.) mirrorspectator.com
From Opening to Armenia to the Opening of the Memory, By Ayse Hur
While the wave of excitement for the steps taken by the government for a ‘Kurdish Opening’ continues an ‘Armenian Opening’ initiative started. In my view the most interesting headline concerning these two protocols, neither of which is yet in force, are the plans for the establishment of a Historical Commission. The commission is supposed to investigate claims of genocide termed ‘alleged’ by the newspapers. We read in Taraf on September 4, 2009 Taner Akcam’s views concerning this subject. Answering Yildiray Ogur’s questions, Akcam said that it is necessary to separate the ‘Normalizing of the Relations’ from the questions of ‘reconciliation’ based on historical sources.
The Historical Commission
In the same article, Akcam indicated that he does not believe a state that for years insisted there were no such thing as Kurds, only some people who made weird sounds as they traveled in the mountains, could establish a commission to search for a truthful answer to the question ‘whether in 1915 there had been a genocide or not’. Akcam, also argues that nothing remains on this subject that the scholars don’t already know. The scholars may already ‘know’, nevertheless I want to add my views about this ‘Historical Commission’ as yet to be established. In this pages on August 31, 2008, I had presented a summary of the Turkish-Armenian relations from 19 hundreds to 1990. I continue from where I had left there.
From the beginning of the Republic to this day history was disseminated as a project to develop national identity and the authoritarian state model was understood to be in a ‘natural’ relationship with the said national identity, constituting a logical extension of it. The first requirement for the dissemination of history was that it be a ‘clean and honorable’ history. For that purpose the myth of a Turkish race was created that had remained pure throughout the Anatolian history despite the wholesale assimilation of other races. However on this subject there were two different periods. In the period prior to the 1975-1985 ASALA terrorism and the parliamentary genocide resolutions of 1980’s, the school books would briefly mention Armenians as subjects in the distant past without making disparaging remarks.
For example, the capture by the Seljuks of Ani, the capital city of the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom and the wars between the Seljuks and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia which existed in the Adana region during the 12th -14th centuries was sometimes presented in belittling terms, sometimes ignored and sometimes treated as if there had been no conflict. In some cases these kingdoms were displayed to be tiny and in others, the territory of the kingdom was made ambiguous.
In some cases the territories were stated to be lying outside of Anatolia and in others, the lands where the Armenians lived was said to be inhabited earlier by Oguz, Pechenek and Kipchak tribes. In this way it was implied that the Armenians had no historical claims in Anatolia.
An interesting phenomenon that shows the cohesive force of the Armenian taboo among the intellectual class was the ‘Blue Anatolia’ movement led by Sabahattin Eyuboglu, Azra Erhat and ‘The Fisherman of Halicarnassus’ Cevat Shakir. A new breath was given by the movement to the slogan ‘Anatolia is ours, not because we conquered it, but it is ours because it was ours’ and thereby the pagan, Christian and Moslem history of Anatolia was offered as an evolutionary state of a collective. Accordingly, Turkish was the final stage of the 72 languages spoken earlier and Turkishness was a version of the Humanistic thought. However, the name of Armenians was absent among these people and civilizations that constituted us at present. (The same tendency was shown by Yashar Kemal in 1992. In a speech about Cilicia, he discusses the Hittite and Byzantine past of the city of Anavarza but omits its Armenian past, whereas Anavarza was the capital city of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia from 1100s to 1375 and it is impossible that Yashar Kemal did not know this).
The Book of Esat Uras
Beginning with 1980 a radical change took place and the subject of ‘Armenian Question’ entered the school books. The text was based on a 1953 book: ‘The Armenian Question: Nine questions, Nine Answers’ published by Ahmet Esat Uras, who had participated in the Unionist movement and had played an active role in the 1915 Deportations. The subject book had been of great interest to the Foreign Ministry on its publication, it had been reprinted several times and had been translated to foreign languages. According to the book, Armenians who had merged with Turkish culture and had lived a ‘happy’ life in the Ottoman period, had suddenly taken a hostile attitude to the Turks. After offering the 1894-1896 Urfa and Sassoun and the 1909 Adana events as examples of this enmity, the Armenian Deportations of 1915-1917 were characterized to be in defense to these events. Later, the views of Esat Uras inspired other writers and new books were published. Finally the ‘official view’ was put in history books.
Support from National Education Curriculum
On June 14, 2002 the Training and Education Committee of the Ministry of National Education decided to train the teachers on curriculum. The decision was announced in the newspapers in August 9, 2002 under the heading : ‘The position of the state regarding the allegations of an Armenian Genocide, the Establishment of a Pontus Greek State and the Genocide of Christian Assyrians will be given in school books’. The implementation of the decision was to begin in 2002-2003 school year.
Later, the same committee published a curriculum for the teachers. The important point in the curriculum was the requirement for all the students in the country to compete in an essay on ‘The Armenian Revolt and the Activities of the Armenians during the First World War’. The apparent purpose of the competition was to have the students recount the atrocities perpetrated by the Armenians on Turks. The sad part of the initiative was that the Armenian students living in Turkey were also required to write the essay.
Support from Criminal Law
Another important development in this field came from the Article 305 of the Turkish Criminal Code passed by the Parliament on September 26, 2004 as part of a required framework by the European Union. Hailed by several European Union leaders as an important step towards Union membership, this article specified a 10 year prison sentence for ‘ acting against the interests of the State and thereby directly or indirectly obtain aid from foreign individuals or foundations’. In the justification section of this article the examples given for acting contrary to the national interests are: ‘To demand the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Cyprus’ or ‘assert the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War’. Despite pressure from the European Union this article is yet to be changed.
The Blue Book of the Parliamentarians
In March 1, 2005 (CHP) the Republican People’s Party started a campaign under the heading of ‘Genocide Attack’. In a letter prepared to be sent to the Members of the British Parliament and the House of Lords it was asked that ‘the book titled ‘The treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16’ prepared by the Bureau of British War Propaganda based in the Wellington House during the First World War, be declared as propaganda material and that the information therein concerning the revolt of the Ottoman Armenians and the steps taken by the Ottoman State to be without foundation and be unreliable’. The letter was signed by the Prime Minister Recep Tayyit Erdogan, the Head of CHP, Deniz Bayakal in the General Committee Room of the Turkish Parliament and was mailed to the recipients.
However, the aftermath was never learned, because all the newspapers who had greeted the campaign with headlines (except Zaman) of “Avenging the 90 Years”, “International Attack against the Blue Book” and “Challenge to the Genocide”, did not feel the need to report the response given to the letter. The claims made in the letter were discussed in the Human Rights Group of the British Parliament and were answered in a letter signed by 23 British Parliamentarians. The response begins with the statement; ‘The central thesis of the Blue Book was the argument that starting in 1915 Armenians were subjected to a policy of mass annihilation in the Ottoman Empire” and after explaining why the Blue Book is a reliable document, invites the Turkish Parliamentarians to a round table discussion with academic consultants and expresses the hope that from this exercise a joint declaration on the historical facts could result. In the light of this response, it finishes by calling the withdrawal of the letter sent to the British Parliament. Of course, our representatives who were sure of their thesis saw no need to accept the invitation to a round table.
The Myth of Backstabbing
A conference organized by a group of scholars for May 25, 2006 titled “Ottoman Armenians During the Collapse of the Empire: Scientific Responsibility and Questions of Democracy” was canceled when the Minister of Justice, Cemil Cicek, characterized the organizers as having ‘stabbed us in the back’. With this the insincerity of the calls to ‘leave the subject to the historians’ was demonstrated.
There is a resemblance between the blaming of the intellectuals by the Minister and the blaming of a handful of Marxists and Jewish politicians for the defeat of Germany in the First World War. In the period following the 1919 Versailles Treaty they were called ‘internal enemies’ and the ‘myth of backstabbing’ (Dochstosslegende) was created. Actually, in the official Turkish history this term was frequently used as ‘the Arabs stabbed us in the back’ to characterize Arab nationalists which had joined the British during the First World War in their struggle for independence, however the way it was used by the Minister of Justice was so filled with hatred as to cause shivers in many. Later, similar expressions were frequently used to describe those saying ‘Turkey needs to face history,’ those wanting to promote relations with the European Union and those for asking compliance with international standards. Especially, the ‘debating of allegations of Armenian genocide’ by the intellectuals without citing the examples of crimes committed by France in Algeria, by U.S.A. In Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and by Italy in Africa, was sufficient reason for them to be labeled ‘enemies of the homeland and the nation’.
Armenians, the ‘absolute other’ of the Turks
What do all these things mean? We know that the processes of ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’ play an important role in the formation of a national identity. What is peculiar about the Turkish identity is that it is able to exist only by denying the events of 1915-1917. It is known that the Ottoman Empire, spreading over three continents had in its last 150 years entered a period of decline. Unending wars, defeats and large number of losses in men, had created serious concerns about the future of the empire.
During this period when every initiative ended with failure, the leading elite was inclined to hold the imperialist powers and the ‘minorities’, who collaborated with them, responsible. During those years, the governing class of the Empire believed that they were being pushed out from the historical narrative being developed by the West and becoming ‘a nobody’ and that they were facing the total destruction of the Empire. Only by thinking that this condition had come about principally because of the treachery of the nations they were lording over that they could find a measure of consolation.
The Example of the Emerald Phoenix
The perpetrators, who during the National Struggle period felt themselves freed from the pressure of international public opinion, proceeded to finish their half complete business. Kemal18 ist Turkish nationalists allied with the Kurds, who were considered to be ‘less other’ because of their shared Islamic religion, expelled the remainder of the ‘real other’, the Christian Armenians and Greeks, to the remotest places in Anatolia and then started dealing with the Kurds. The extremely bloody nature of this action helped to provide a good opportunity to erase from communal memory what was done to the Armenians. (What was done to the Greeks had almost acquired legitimacy because of the errors committed by Greece). During this period, not only the Kemalist elites who were organizationally or ideologically related to the Unionists but also all those who had looted the properties of the deported Armenians, had adopted or become foster parents to the Armenian children, local prominent or common people who had added Armenian girls to their harems, the commercial bourgeoisie whose capital was formed from confiscated Armenian wealth, the craftsmen for whom a market was created in the fields emptied of Armenians, needed to wipe clean their memory. As a result a consensus arose among different segments of the society: first to forget what was done to the Armenians and then actually to forget them.
The leaders of the new republican order to create a Turkish identity, attempted to differentiate themselves from their Ottoman past which represented the ‘old’, the ‘superstitious’ and the ‘East’ and by characterizing the old Ottoman subjects as ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘mixed’ and ‘murky’, launched an initiative to free itself from the Ottoman identity to bring about a ‘citizenry’ which is ‘ethnically pure’ and in its world view ‘secular’. During this nation building period, the Armenian identity became a perfect ‘other’ for the nationalists as well as for the left, for the religious and the secular, for the intellectual and the ordinary people, for being a ‘barbarian’ and ‘terrorist’ people, fanatically religious non-Moslems and for being a diaspora group rooted in the international arena.
‘Internal Enemy’, more dangerous than the External Enemy
During this period of ‘otherness’, the attribution of the slogan ‘ internal enemy’ to the Armenians naturally required an ‘external enemy’. However, in the mind of Turkish nationalism the entity defined as ‘internal enemy’ was seen as an insidious element which ate away at the social structure, and compared to the relatively visible ‘external enemy’ it was much more dangerous.
Especially if this enemy had resulted from a great many elements who were the ‘other’ of the Moslem-Turkish identity. Consequently, the struggle against Armenians continued without a break. The success of the project to neutralize the Armenians as ‘the other’ from the community and world opinion depended on the close cooperation of the state and the society. This cooperation was guaranteed in large measure by tyrannical policies.
At the end, the people came to believe that it was their duty to accept the historical narrative imposed on them by the state. During this period the state became an instrument for shaping ideology and also its guarantor. To make its guarantor role quickly acceptable it was necessary for the state to underscore the dangers ‘facing the society’. In this respect theories of plots against the state like: ‘the resuscitation of Sevre’, ‘the establishment of Pontus’, ‘the revival of Byzantium in the Fener district’ and ‘land purchase of Israel in the South Eastern Anatolia Project (GAP) area’ were put forward. At the same time the idea was put forth that the Armenian Diaspora with its 3R strategy (Recognition of genocide, Restitution of property and land, and finally Reconciliation) would revive the plans of imperialist powers to divide Turkey.
Fear of the return of confiscated property
An attempt was made to convince people that ‘a people who 90 years ago were able to break up a huge empire, given the present day relations between nations, could certainly break up Turkey which was small’. However, the real worry was not the break-up of the country or Turks being labeled ‘genocidal’, it was the fear of demands for the return of or the compensation for the confiscated wealth of the deported Armenians. Clues that this was the reason are shown by the strict prohibition placed on access to the records of property deeds from the Ottoman era and by the criticism and obstructionism shown during the enactment of the February 2008 Law of Foundations.
As a matter of fact we could have continued this unhealthy spiritual condition, except for the persistence of the Armenians and because the 20th Century has become an era of apologizing by individuals and states, commercial enterprises and religious organizations for political, economic, cultural and social faults. In our days facing history has become almost a ‘moral norm’. There are some exceptions and questionable cases, however this approach, which can be summa19 rized as: ‘societies who do not face their history do not have the right to be a member of the international community’ may help close the schizophrenic split created in the Turkish society by 1915. In this respect ‘opening to Armenia’ appears to be very important. Provided the opening is in accord with universal norms of jurisprudence and ethics.
Taraf,September 6, 2009 Translated by Arutun Maranci,
Press Freedom: The Politicization of Turkish Media, Seda Savas and Aaron Stein | 17 Sep 2009
The European Union's 2007 Ascension Partnership with Turkey (.pdf) calls for Turkey to reform its laws to adapt them to the Law of the European Union. Among the required reforms is legislation to protect and expand the media's freedom of expression, which has been stifled in Turkey by broad interpretations of the Penal Code -- specifically a clause known as Article 301 -- as well as simmering domestic tensions between secular Kemalist and Islamist groups.
Freedom of the press in Turkey is protected under Article 26 of the Turkish constitution. In fact, censorship of the press was abandoned on July 24, 1908 -- well before World War I and the foundation of the secular Turkish Republic. However, certain articles in the Turkish Penal Code have been used to erode journalists' freedom to report objectively on controversial issues.
One such clause is Article 301, which threatens anyone who denigrates the Turkish nation with imprisonment. As a result, journalists face a heavy penalty for expressing opinions that criticize "Turkishness" as well as the Turkish government. Since taking office in 2003, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used Article 301 to file court cases against over 60 media companies and journalists for nearly $1 trillion in fines and penalties. Some of these cases were filed over minor offenses such as satirizing Erdogan in political cartoons.
Article 301 was also used by the courts to consistently ban access to YouTube for allowing user content insulting the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Portal sites that were developed to access YouTube using different IP addresses were also banned upon discovery, making Turkey one of just four countries -- along with China, Pakistan, and Thailand -- to consistently ban access to the site.
Since Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) won elections in November 2002, businessmen with close ties to the party have acquired several major media outlets, which have subsequently adopted a pro-AKP tone and softened their criticism of the government. The television station ATV and major newspaper SABAH, for example, were seized by the state and sold at a single-buyer auction to Çalik Holding, where Erdogan's son-in-law was a senior executive. As a result, pro-AKP media now constitutes more than 50 percent of total media coverage in Turkey, a substantial increase from a few years ago. Kemalist media, in return, has embraced anti-AKP rhetoric and intensified coverage of opposition parties.
In early 2008, the Dogan Media Group, a massive media conglomerate with close ties to the Kemalists, was the first to report on a German corruption case involving Deniz Feneri Dernegi, an Islamic charity operating in Germany. The report alleged that the organization embezzled €18 million out of the €41 million it had received as donations. The money was allegedly transferred to Turkish businesses and businessmen with close ties to Erdogan and the AKP.
Erdogan responded to the allegations by saying, "We are not elected by the media, but by the country. . . . Don't buy these newspapers, they are full of filth and lies." In February 2009, the government charged the Dogan Media Group with tax evasion for allegedly failing to pay $500 million in back taxes. The timing of the charges and the large fine imposed last week -- $2.5 billion -- has fueled speculation that Erdogan was using the legal proceeding to punish Dogan Media Group for its reporting.
For its part, in the past few months, the Dogan Media Group has prominently featured voices opposed to the AKP's recent efforts to further integrate Kurdish minorities into the political, cultural and economic processes of the country. The AKP has been seeking advice from academics, members of the opposition party and minority leaders in order to draft a proposal for a "democratic détente" with Turkish Kurds. The Dogan Media Group has been the primary outlet for Kemalist criticisms -- rooted in Turkish nationalist ideals -- of the AKP's approach. TV stations and newspapers owned by the Dogan Media Group have given extensive coverage to opposition leaders who blame the AKP for carrying out a "U.S. plot" to partition Turkey along ethnic and ideological lines in order to create another puppet regime in the region.
Despite the commitment to reform as part of its accession to the E.U., Turkey has not been living up to the spirit of Article 26 of its constitution. Meanwhile, Turkey's polarized media is serving political interests rather than reporting freely and objectively. Domestic laws, political officials and politically motivated media moguls have all contributed to the gradual erosion of Turkey's free press, resulting in misinformation for the Turkish public and impeding Turkey's E.U. accession efforts.
Turkey would do well to reform legislation to protect journalists and encourage independent reporters to support diverse opinions. More importantly, it needs to restore confidence, both at home and abroad, in the freedom and responsibility of Turkish media.
Seda Savas is a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies pursuing an M.A. in International Policy Studies focusing on International Development and an M.B.A in International Business.
Aaron Stein is a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies pursuing an M.A. in International Policy Studies specializing in Nonproliferation.
Why Ratify The Protocols? Let Azerbaijan And Turkey End Their Self-Inflicted Blockades Without Armenia's Capitulation
Appo Jabarian Executive Publisher / Managing Editor Usa Armenian Life Magazine, September 18, 2009
The official declaration of intention by Armenia and Turkey to sign the joint Protocols on August 31 caused a tsunami of reactions from Armenians in Armenia-Artsakh and the Diaspora.
The Protocols, considered as a political capitulation by Armenia vis-à-vis Turkey and Azerbaijan, are widely feared to seal the fate of the twin Armenian republics. As a direct result of disarming Armenia of its just demands against Turkey, Armenia's borders will be wide open to millions of unrepentant Turks literally taking over the remnant of historic Armenia.
The unjust demands by Turkey on Armenia (de facto Eastern Armenia) for the recognition of the current Armenian-Turkish borders causing Armenia to lose forever its land claims in Western Armenia; for giving up on Artsakh's independence and for surrendering it to Azerbaijan; and for relinquishing demands from Turkey for land and reparations as a result of the 1915-1923 Genocide, have sent shockwaves deep into the social fabric of Armenians worldwide.
All this is imposed in return for the re-opening of the Armenian-Turkish and Armenian-Azeri borders? Both Azerbaijan and Turkey imposed their respective blockades against Armenia. So lifting of blockades shall take place without any preconditions on Armenia. Why Armenia should capitulate when in fact it emerged triumphant from the Artsakh liberation war at great human and economic sacrifice, and handily overcame the Turkish-Azeri blockades? Armenia survived the many years of the Azeri and Turkish blockades.
Back in 1993, at the height of the Liberation war between Artsakh Armenians and Azerbaijan, Turkey closed its border with Armenia joining Azerbaijan's 1989 anti-Armenia blockade. In the summer of 1989, Azerbaijan SSR imposed an illegal railway and air blockade against Armenia, effectively crippling Armenia's economy, as 85% of the cargo and goods arrived through rail traffic.
The Turkish blockade of Armenia from the west and the Azeri blockade from the east initially proved to be devastating. However, as the years went by, Armenia/Artsakh overcame the daily difficulties. The quality of life somewhat improved for a sizeable segment of the Armenian population, and by mid-2000, Armenia began to register modest economic growth, in certain cases, surpassing several CIS countries.
Thanks to their people's indomitable spirit, endurance, creativity, worldwide Diasporan ties, and tech-savvy, both Armenia and Artsakh prospered. Armenia successfully formed a north-south economic corridor, an energy bridge and technological super-highway linking northern Caucasus countries of Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and other Black sea countries with Iran in the southern tip of the Caucasus, other Western Asian and Gulf countries. Armenia even secured a historic opportunity to make the highest and best use of the Iranian port Bander-Abbas on the Gulf coast opening a wide range of economic possibilities.
Armenia should remain unwavering in its original position regarding the unconditional normalization of relations with Turkey. It should neither be lured by economic carrots "offered" by the European Union, nor shall be intimidated by its political sticks.
EU must cease and desist from its Nabucco energy project-related anti-Armenia push-pull. On September 15, even though Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Energy, European Commission, stated at the beginning of the Gas Infrastructure World Caspian-2009 conference in Baku, "Armenia was not a participant in the Nabucco project," other officials contradicted him by stating that "Armenia was a prospective participant" in the energy project. They preconditioned Armenia's "participation" with Armenia and Turkey reaching an agreement on the Protocols. So which countries are in dire need of energy: EU or Armenia? Besides being an indispensable energy and commerce corridor, Armenia is an important electric power producing centre.
It's ridiculous that EU thinks that Armenia has to be sacrificed for its energy objectives. Let EU rein in Ankara and Baku on its own terms and not at Armenia's expense. After all, it is Turkey and Azerbaijan that imposed the illegal anti-Armenia blockades that has turned against them. So, let Azerbaijan and Turkey end their self-inflicted blockades without Armenia's capitulation.
Turkey And Azerbaijan Try To Undermine Appointment Of Canadian-Armenian Judge, Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Senior Contributor, USA Armenian Life Magazine
Turks and Azerbaijanis, probably at the instigation of their governments, have attempted to undermine the recent appointment of Canadian-Armenian Aris Babikian as a Citizenship Judge, responsible for making decisions with regard to applications for Canadian citizenship.
In making the appointment, Jason Kenney, Canada's Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, described Babikian as an individual who has been "very involved in immigration, citizenship, social services, culture, human rights and multicultural issues in his community. He has served as Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada, and been a member of the Ontario Film Review Board and the Canadian Ethnocultural Council. Mr. Babikian was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal and the Ontario Volunteer Service Award. He speaks English, Armenian, Arabic, Turkish and Greek."
Canadian-Turkish and Azeri organizations immediately launched a vicious hate campaign against Judge Babikian, writing letters to the Minister of Citizenship and the Prime Minister protesting his appointment.
Day.az, an Azeri news website, called Judge Babikian a racist, chauvinist, and an extremist. Stating that his appointment is "unacceptable" and "of serious concern to the Azerbaijani and Turkish communities of Canada," the Azeri website made the ridiculous claim that "Babikian had access to all sectors of the Canadian political establishment due to the power and money of the Armenian community, particularly the Dashnaks." The website attacked the Canadian government for having recognized the Armenian Genocide and disparaged Minister Kenney for being selected ANC's "Man of the Year." The Azeri site made the baseless charge that any Canadian journalist who dared to write against Armenians would jeopardize his career.
"Bizim Anadolu," a Canadian-Turkish monthly newspaper, also targeted Judge Babikian in its July 2009 issue, calling him "a hard-line Armenian political lobbyist [who] has displayed bias and hatred towards Turks, has been against dialogue and reconciliation, and clearly does not possess the cross-cultural sensitivity that is a prerequisite for the appointment of a citizenship judge."
Reacting to these Turkish attacks, Canadian political figures, journalists, leaders of ethnic communities, and NGO representatives wrote letters of commendation to the Minister of Citizenship and the Prime Minister in support of Babikian's appointment.
The most unexpected defense of Judge Babikian came from a liberal Canadian-Turkish newspaper, Yeni Hayat, which published a lengthy editorial on August 27, countering the defamatory Turkish and Azeri attacks against him.
Yeni Hayat wrote that Judge Babikian was being subjected to "an orchestrated campaign of character assassination, intimidation, lies, innuendo, misinformation, and propaganda [which] was launched in certain Canadian-Turkish media outlets, mirroring similar campaigns in Azerbaijan and Turkey."
Yeni Hayat highly praised Babikian's "cross-cultural, civic, human rights, educational, multicultural, civic projects, plus his service record, voluntarism, and contribution to the enrichment of the Canadian civil society should suffice as convincing rebuttal to this vicious, immoral, unethical and mendacious campaign. Everyone who has had the opportunity to work with and to know Judge Babikian will attest that he is a man of integrity, honesty, sincerity, moderation and a firm believer in peaceful coexistence. The accolades he has received from many governments and NGOs are testimony to the man's high moral standing and commitment to making Canada a welcoming place to everyone regardless of religion, color, race or any other differences."
Yeni Hayat pointed out that Babikian "always made a distinction between the Turkish people and the Turkish government." He is "cognizant that the Turkish government and a minority of ultra-nationalists are out of touch with their civil society's thinking when it comes to the Armenian Genocide." The Turkish newspaper deplored that these "ultra-nationalists, with the help and support of foreign elements, have taken over the Canadian-Turkish community and are trying to radicalize the community and sow the seeds of hatred against other communities in Canada."
It appears that the Turkish government, just as it has done in a number of countries around the world, has been financing ultra-nationalist Turkish groups in Canada in order to export genocide denialism, silence its foreign critics, and counter the political activities of the Armenian community. In this particular case, Turkey's long arm, with Azerbaijan's backing, has sought to reach all the way into Canada to undermine the appointment of a qualified Canadian-Armenian Judge.
Ankara and Baku have no right to interfere in the Canadian government's internal decision-making on judicial appointments.
Instigating Turkish and Azeri immigrants against Canadian-Armenians could have dire consequences for which Turkey and Azerbaijan would bear full responsibility.
The Wave Of Misinformation Hits The Lebanese Media Shore, Shahan Kandaharian, Editor-In-Chief Aztag Daily Newspaper - Lebanon
Sept 15 2009
Some Lebanese media outlets have been lured into the Turkish-Azerbeidjani misinformation trap. This is not surprising because when internationally known media outlets willingly or unwillingly are giving place to Azerbeidjani false information, wrong reports circulate reaching to all kinds of media outlets.
The first shocking mis-information had to do with the withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the liberated territories. This piece of news, launched from Turkey and Azerbeidjan, stated that the Armenian side has already agreed to yield to the demand of withdrawal from the seven liberated terriroties. We didn't come across to any report that proved the opposite and refuted the mis-information. The falsehood of the information was obvious at first sight; nevertheless, the absence of its negation led to the spreading of the news. Specially that the news followed the august 31 pre-signing of the Armenian-Tukish protocols.
Second, another similar mis-information, with a similar distribution rate came to perch on the branches of the Lebanese media field. Azerbeidjani media outlets have used the pictures of the dead Georgian soldiers, who had lost their lives because of the Georgian clashes that had taken place on the Georgian-Armenian border, to spread a false news that the Armenian forces had attacked Azerbeidjani territories on the way of Aghdam and had encountered resistance. The Armenian "attacks" had caused five casualties. There was not one international, regional and local (Lebanese) news outlet that had missed the news. The official declaration of the Mountainous Karapagh Republic Defense ministry issued on the next day wasn't enough to refute the mis-information.
If in the first case the deception that was propagated was that even before the signing of the protocols between Armenia and Turkey there was movement in that area, at the same time underlining the defeat of the Armenian side, in the case of the second the attempt was to show the combativeness of the Azerbeidjani army and the aggressiveness of the Armenian side.
However, in both cases the chosen time and the logic of the sequence of the mis-information is interesting. What is being said is that for the Turkish and Azerbeidjani policies there's no omition of the Karapagh issue from the pre-signed protocols. Karapagh is related to these processes and no progress will be achieved in the Armenian-Turkish relations without any serious step being taken in the resolution of the Karapagh conflict. Turkey is spreading news that the Armenian forces will withdraw from the liberated territories. And the Azerbeidjanis are trying to manipulate proofs for the mis-information concerning their military superiority.
Till this day the Armenian side has not responded properly to those mis-information blows. Although virtually those are not true but nevertheless an announcement must be made that Turkey and Azerbeidjan are spreading news that have no truth in them whatsoever.
However, this is not all yet. The Lebanese Nahar Daily shone on its first page the "masterpiece" of Marwan Iskandar. Speaking about almost everything, he explicitly and boldly said that in 1992 the Armenians committed an actual massacre against the Azerbeidjani Muslims.
Before questioning Marwan Iskandar's knowledge on the Caucasus region, we must think about what led a prominent newspaper like Nahar to allow the publication of such a statement on its front page. This not just the issue of Marwan Iskandar. Giving a religious label to the Karapagh conflict, trying to ignite an Islam-Armenian confrontation and claiming Armenians to be mass murderers in Karapagh is a Nahar issue more than being a Marwan Iskandar issue. And if the silence and the indifference of the Armenian side both on the state level and on the level of public opinion will continue, that would be above all else our issue!
Real Independence Opportunity for Armenia
Mutual protocols were signed up between Turkey and Armenia, however, diaspora and the opposition in Armenia became furious, as expected.
We read in the press everyday that; Dashnaks held meetings, the nationalists who objected to the protocols took streets and staged demonstrations of protest, hundreds of people who gathered under the leadership of Dashnak Party marched to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the thing went as far as to call for Sarkisyan’s resignation. The opposition Heritage Party demanded the protocols to be voted in a referendum.
“All the Armenians must be sure that any peace agreement aimed at the solution of Karabakh problem will be based on the free will and consent of the Karabakh people (Armenians of the region),” the Armenian President Serj Sarkisyan who wished to calm down the reactions said. He also stated that the events of 1915 are not ‘obstacles’ or ‘precondition’ for the normalization of the relations and they haven’t made any concessions on the subject of ‘genocide’ either.
Diaspora doesn’t remain idle; the letter sent by the Administrative Director of ANCA Haram Hamparian to the US House of Representatives and the members of the Senate stated that “this decision which is a tactic that has been pursued by Ankara for a long time so as to arouse suspicions over the historic Armenian records serves Ankara’s efforts to reverse the issue against the increasingly international recognition of this crime against the humanity. No long term (permanent) relationship can be established between Turkey and Armenia upon Turkey’s denial of this crime.”
Mourad Papazian who is the co-chairman of FRA Dachnaktsoutioun, one of the organizations subordinate to Armenian diaspora in France made the following statement; “the Armenian case and Karabakh are under threat and danger, genocide can’t even be a matter of bargain, no state official has the authority to speak on the behalf of public regarding the subject.”
Much more aggressive rhetoric within this framework …
It is a fact that the economic problems experienced in Armenia are in their highest level and those problems can be overcome considerably with the opening of borders. However, it is evident that this situation isn’t attached importance by the diaspora which concentrates on “the genocide mythos” ..
Diaspora which isn’t informed about Armenia and its expectations at all, comprised of rich people living outside Armenia and whose livelihood and at the same time hobby is Turkish hostility should put an end its pressure on Armenia and shouldn’t speak on behalf of it so that Armenia can plan its own future, overcome its problems particularly the economic ones, concentrate on its today, its concrete problems rather than following a mythos and wasting time.
Moreover Turkey has taken Armenia, not diaspora as its interlocutor. Thus, diaspora should understand this fact well: “Armenia is an independent republic.”
On the other hand, apparently, the tradition of failing to have no tolerance for anybody who thinks differently is going on at full speed in both diaspora and the opposition in Armenia. Many examples are still in minds that individuals who defend different views are subject to inhumane practices such as “threats of death”, “blackmail” and “harassment” just because of the ideas they defend in parallel to the structure of Dashnak arguments which do not accept any criticism.
On the other hand it should be asked hasn’t enough time been wasted for this “sacred (!) Armenian Case? What is so sacred about it? Is it the rage and grudge that keep you together? Are you afraid of being dissolved? Are you afraid of breaking up and being dispersed if the hatred which keeps you together doesn’t serve you as before? Or are you afraid of remaining without identity/character if “the hatred of Turks” is taken out from the equation? Or is it the possibility that “the idol of genocide” which you have turned into a taboo by making it a religious and political dogma may be destroyed?
Isn’t the panic you are experiencing a reaction against the real dimension of the problem that has been put forward and against the necessity to confront with the lived history not what has been written according to your own opinion? Doesn’t this reaction also explain the Armenian fanatics’ persistence to deal with the issue on a political base and to keep it on the agenda?
However, the chance of putting a common problem of both countries on the table, discussing it realistically and in the end establishing dialogue is faced with the danger of being obstructed due to the seemingly aggressive and fear based attitude of a group who prefer to bury their heads into sand. In short, panic stemming from historical and legal invalidity is clearly evident…
Moreover, a continuous state of complaining and grumbling exists. “Nalbantyan has made a concession, he must resign”, “Obama has not said ‘genocide’, so we have crossed him”, “Sarkisyan has put his signature, and he must resign” … in other words getting benefit from “the lack of solution”… They want the state before the protocols to remain. For, their all capital is “genocide” and they need the hatred of Turks. The solution of the problem is inversely proportional to their existence.
However, Turkey has indicated through its latest initiative that the rumors that the issue of so-called genocide has “remained as a taboo” have lost their validity. It has indicated once again that it has not feared to confront with its history.
The Turkish archives were already open to all the researchers. The proposal for “the Joint History Commission” had been on the table for a long time. Despite 525.000 innocent Turkish citizens which Armenians massacred during the World War I, this issue has never been used as material for “foreign politics”. Turkey has never desired the land of foreign countries covetously and never initiated occupation. It has never stepped on the flag of another country. Of course, the list can be extended.
In conclusion, what has been feared happened, what has been avoided up to now, in other words great “confrontation” has found you.
“The communal will” of Armenia can get out of the darkness of the obsession which has been maintained for years, get rid of the axis of “the false state of unjust treatment” and declare “its real independence.” The chance of peace should be used this time… Otherwise, to give consent to this picture for self deception will be the greatest harm that you will do to yourself!
Handan Yazar (handanyazar at gmail.com ) GenocideReality
Codes of Armenia
Russian-Georgian war and the rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow have made a great impact on the initiation by Yerevan administration, which is entrapped by poverty, of a rapprochement tendency with Turkey rapidly.
The reasons why Armenia has put its policy of rapprochement with Turkey into practice swiftly include the Russian-Georgian war upsetting the balances in Caucasia and Yerevan getting cornered politically and economically.
The reconciliations achieved in the secret talks which have been going on for almost two years between Ankara and Yerevan were announced with short intervals. Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan also sought to improve the relations with Turkey and solve the Karabakh problem in a way similar to today’s in 1988; however, he was overthrown by the ultranationalists.
CYCLE OF POVERTY: The main reason why Yerevan seeks reconciliation is its failure to break the cycle of poverty also stemming from the blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan. Armenia which ranked 123th with a revenue of 6 thousand 400 dollars in the country list of Gross National Product and managed to have a place between Chad and Mauritania has been able to breathe with the support of Moscow since the independence in 1991, yet in turn it has lost the control of its economy to Moscow.
With the Russian-Georgian war in August last year, Armenia which had sought a way out for a period of time encountered problems which it had not anticipated. Being a landlocked country and sharing a short border with Iran, Armenia whose Turkish and Azeri borders are closed lost its Georgia gate to a large extent.
FEAR OF WAR: Another reason which changed the attitude of Yerevan is the fact that the war has brought about uneasiness even panic in the former Soviet republics which are in close relation with Moscow. The invasion of South Ossetia by the Russian army frightened Armenia and other countries which thought that a similar situation may happen to them in the future. Yerevan which does not recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia despite the pressure of Russia regretted its policy of putting all its eggs in one basket.
TURKISH-RUSSIAN RAPPROACHMENT: The third reason has been the experiencing of a change which the Armenians were unable to foresee in the Russian-Turkish relations. Armenia which has counted on Moscow for years and even entrusted its Turkish border to Russian soldiers has become very isolated as Russia has given priority to the relations with Turkey. Thus Armenia has been left with the option of opening to foreign countries via Turkey, developing its economy, solving its problems with Azerbaijan and reducing its dependence on Russia.
In fact the point which Yerevan reached due to the enforcement of the conditions is similar to Ter-Petrosyan’s plan 11 years before: In other words, the relations with Turks will be improved, the territories surrounding Karabakh will be withdrawn from in order for Azerbaijan to lift the blockade and the status of Karabakh will be postponed. What is interesting is the fact that the current President Serj Sarkisyan has come from the school of politicians that overthrew Ter-Petrosyan, however, this time he is the target of the ultranationalists himself.
The Armenian political scientist Armen Gevorkyan claimed that the US acts jointly with Russia in secret so as to solve the problems in Caucasia. In his statement to Novosti Armenii Agency, Gevorkyan said, “It is obvious that they have had a division of tasks. The Americans are trying to solve the Turkish-Armenian problem. In return, the Russians are dealing with the Karabakh issue.” The Georgian political scientist Tengiz Lihadze also made a similar assessment.
Source: Cenk Başlamış – Milliyet Newspaper – 07.09.2009 GenocideReality.com
Turkey's War On The Press : Prime Minister Erdogan Seeks To Stifle Media Critics, Asli Aydintasbas
About two years ago I was sipping tea in the office on a slow news Sunday when I got a call from security: "The police are here. They say they are taking over the newspaper." The police? Taking over? I was the Ankara bureau chief of Turkey's second-largest daily, Sabah, and felt invincible. But within minutes, plainclothes officers filled my room, explaining that there was a simultaneous raid at the newspaper's headquarters in Istanbul and that from now on the paper would be run by the Savings and Deposit Insurance Fund.
The paper was indeed run by a government agency and over the course of the next six months I, the editor in chief, and some of the columnists were sacked or had to leave. (The legal argument for the takeover of the Ciner publishing group, which owned Sabah and other titles and had 3,000 employees, was that a document was not disclosed to the authorities six years previously when the newspaper changed hands.) Sabah was subsequently sold to a company where the Turkish prime minister's son-in-law is the CEO in a bid subsidized by state banks.
Today, that paper, for which I worked many years as a reporter, New York correspondent and, finally, the Ankara bureau chief, has an unwavering pro-government line. The Sabah incident was not an isolated case, as Turkey's government has pressured and strong-armed media barons to create a complain-at-your-own-risk environment.
It came as no surprise last week when Turkey's largest media group, Dogan—a conglomerate of newspapers, magazines and television stations including CNN's Turkey affiliate—was slapped with a colossal $2.5 billion tax fine by inspectors following a public feud with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey's ruling conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) has long been angered by the secular Dogan media's coverage. But the showdown came right before the local elections last spring, when Mr. Erdogan lashed out at Dogan newspapers for reporting about a corruption case involving an Islamic charity close to AKP.
Mr. Erdogan rallied city to city, calling for a boycott of Dogan papers and claiming the group had unfairly linked his party to the charity. Since then the rumor has been that Erdogan would finish Dogan off. The crippling fine may well do that.
This isn't outright censorship. But today, thanks to the rise of a new conservative business elite promoted by the government and encouraged to delve into media, more than half of Turkish papers and television stations have turned into loyalist outlets.
Here are the rules: Language directly attacking the prime minister and stories about his immediate family are off limits. Editors in secular media outlets think twice before running a story criticizing the government for introducing Islam into Turkey's strictly secular public domain. One prominent Ankara journalist and a popular hardline secularist academic—both of whose opinions I despise but whose right to express them I uphold—were jailed in a long-running alleged coup-plot case. (They profess their innocence.) Top editors and media tycoons complain of widespread wiretaps. Even cartoonists have been sued here, with Mr. Erdogan forcing an independent comic paper, the Penguin, to pay compensation for depicting him as various animals.
In the spirit of free expression, Aydin Dogan, the majority shareholder of Dogan publishing group, was recently given a list of columnists considered hostile by the government, according to a Dogan source—the suggestion being that he should fire some in exchange for better relations with the government.
This is not to say Turkey was ever a bastion of free speech. In Turkey's tumultuous pre-democratic past there were prosecutions of journalists and writers, with antiterror laws placing particular restrictions on the Kurdish issue. But mainstream media were somehow off the hook. With the advancement toward European Union membership over the past decade, Turkey has improved its democratic standards significantly—mostly under AKP's reign.
The Turkish government's relationship with free speech is a complicated one, however. Mr. Erdogan is a man who can both spearhead revolutionary reforms—like pushing for Kurdish and minority rights and opening the border with Turkey's historic enemy Armenia—and rebuke journalists for "disrespecting" him. In his avuncular but iron-fisted world of power, criticism is managed and media is controlled.
The tragedy of the Turkish media is that it is largely owned by companies that have other businesses interests, making them particularly susceptible to political pressure. Neither Mr. Dogan nor Turkey's other secular barons are free of blame. They have never made freedom of expression a priority. Publishers have danced with power, bargained for deals in return for editorial support, and applauded each time the government went after their rivals. But soon there may be no independent media left.
Ms. Aydintasbas is a columnist for the Aksam newspaper.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A21
Gunaysu: The Impossibility Of Discussing Giro Manoyan’s Comments In Turkey Ayse Gunaysu September 11, 2009
On Fri., Sept. 4, the daily Taraf, the beloved newspaper of the democratic, anti-militarist, and liberal opposition circles in Turkey, including myself (despite several objections on certain issues and the language it uses from time to time), published an interview with Giro Manoyan, one of the top leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun (ARF), with the headline, “Armenians have their own Bahceli,”referring Manoyan and his stance on the steps towards a détente between Turkey and Armenia. At first—and superficial—glance, one can see why Manoyan was compared to Devlet Bahceli: The latter is Turkey’s ultra-nationalist leader who violently opposes both the process of finding a “resolution” to Turkey’s so-called “Kurdish Question” and the signals given by the government to normalize relations with Armenia. However, Bahceli is also the leader of the Nationalist Action Party, which represents the Turkish version of the neo-Nazi spirit, with its endless hatred of non-Muslims and Kurds, and its history of violence—murders, massacres (of Alevis), kidnappings, tortures, the throwing of bombs on groups of students. The analogy drawn between Manoyan and a politician like Bahceli, in a newspaper that is the most courageous opponent of the Ittihadist state tradition in Turkey, should be considered in the context of the general Turkish mindset about anything related to Armenians.
Taraf later changed the title of the article in its online version.
What was crucial in Manoyan’s interview were his words about the Turkish-Armenian border. Manoyan said that the Armenian-Turkey border is disputable, as it was drawn between the parties (the Bolsheviks and Kemalists) who were not then recognized by the international community. Therefore, according to Manoyan, the border issue is still to be decided. In short, he implied that he does not recognize the present border, or at least, finds its validity questionable.
But at this point I don’t want to discuss what Manoyan said because I am more interested in the intellectual environment of Turkey that makes it possible for a liberal newspaper editor to equate Manoyan’s objection to this specific “normalization” project with a Turkish ultra-nationalist party leader who had recently threatened to resort to violence against any step to resolve the Kurdish Question. This is an environment that unconditionally excludes any discussion on a comment by a Dashnaktsutiun leader, leave alone his questioning of the validity of the border.
It’s a widely known fact that in Turkey, anything—any comment, any step—that would supposedly lead to “a partition” of the country, to a potential restoration of the Sevres Agreement (which provided for the foundation of independent Armenia and Kurdistan in 1919), and to a threat to the territorial unity of the country, is utterly unacceptable. Anyone who does not think so is unquestionably regarded as the enemy of the country. This is the most visible reason why Turkish people see in Manoyan’s word a declaration of hostility and ill-will.
But there is another equally important factor that makes it possible for a liberal Turkish newspaper editor to make such an equation: It is the real ignorance in Turkey about anything related to Armenians and their history in this country. Many would believe that the average Turk denies the genocide knowingly, which is not the case. I know that it seems impossible to think that the extermination of such a significant part of the country’s population, such an apocalyptic period with such enormous, widespread consequences that changed the social, economic, and demographic landscape of the whole country, can be wiped off from the collective memory of a nation. But, as a result of a combination of very complicated processes, this is exactly what happened. The overwhelming majority of Turkish people, therefore, don’t even know the most basic truths about their country’s Armenian past.
Even many Turkish people who have broken themselves free of the official ideology and history, who sincerely recognize the Armenian Genocide in their hearts, don’t really know the real extent of the strong Armenian presence in the Ottoman Empire before 1915. They are not aware that the Armenian presence was not limited to the eastern provinces of the empire, that there were significant Armenian communities in, for example, Ankara, or Eskisehir in central Anatolia, or Izmit, or Tekirdag in the Marmara region in the west. Many of these Turkish people of conscience don’t know that at the turn of the century, one in every five persons living in Asia Minor was a non-Muslim, and they really think that the so-called “deportations” were limited to the eastern provinces of the empire. If this is the case with a handful of Turkish people (compared to 70 million) who share the painful memory of the genocide, one can imagine the situation with the vast majority. Unbelievably, they don’t even know that Armenians are the native children of this land who had settled in Asia Minor long before the Turks. My Armenian friends often tell anecdotes of how people, upon hearing their Armenian names, ask them where there are from, as if they are foreigners. People asking these questions are not Armenian haters or necessarily Turkish nationalists. They just really don’t know.
But how did this happen? How could this happen? How can an entire nation be made ignorant of such obvious historical facts? I’m not a historian, or a sociologist, or an anthropologist who studies the mechanisms and processes that make up the collective mindset of nations. However, it’s easy to see that the first generation who directly witnessed or took part in the massacres and plunder concealed the truth out of guilt. Huge properties had illegally changed hands and the new owners did everything to legitimize the plunder. Then came the reconstruction of a new nation, which helped this first generation to pretend that nothing had happened. Unlike the example of Germany, where the Nazis were caught red-handed, the victorious Kemalist movement was successful in covering up the evidence of the mass exterminations and was backed by the Great Powers’ efforts to secure an international balance of power that would best suit themselves. In the meantime, the Soviets’ support of the so-called “national liberation movement” against the “imperialist powers” came like a bonus, as it proved very helpful in positioning non-Muslims within this context as the supporters of the imperialist powers even in the eyes of the mainstream Turkish Left.
Then came the second generation, which was raised as the “children of the young republic,” a republic that rewrote the history in the spirit of a victorious national state and reinforced a patriotism based on an ethnically, religiously, and culturally monolithic country. The physical traces of Armenian civilization in Asia Minor were systematically erased. Armenian monuments were destructed, at times even with dynamites. Armenian, along with Greek, Assyrian, and Kurdish names of places were changed. No mention is made of the ancient Armenian kingdoms and kings. This cleansing of an Armenian trace is not restricted to the government’s publications; it applies to private institutions and organzations as well, as this denial of Armenian existence is internalized by the Turkish public at large.
Moreover, the republican myths of foundation have been taken over by the mainstream Turkish Left, which upheld the ideals of the Turkey’s “War of Liberation” and valued it as a victory against imperialists and naturally did not question how the nationalist state came into being by bringing the Turkification of the land to its successful end. And thus, Turkish society was sadly deprived of a structured criticism from the Left of the founding paradigm of the republic.
As for the ARF-Dashnaktsutiun, the sincere belief that Dashnaks are simply haters of Turks is the common denominator of the Turkish Left and Right. I will not discuss what the Dashnaktsutiun now represents because I am really not familiar with its program, nor its political line or practice. But, I know that in general, the people of Turkey know absolutely nothing about its history. They don’t know that the Dashnaktsutiun was once the closest ally of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), who were shortly afterwards the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. They don’t know that the Dashnaktsutiun campaigned for “Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood” for all Ottoman people regardless of ethnic origin or religious affiliation against the Abdulhamidian tyranny. They don’t know that in 1908 in Van (a symbol for the denialists), like elsewhere, Dashnaktsutiun leaflets were distributed that called for solidarity between Muslims and Christians for justice and welfare for the poor and freedom for everyone. They don’t have any idea that the two parties (CUP and ARF) even signed four written agreements between 1907-14 around these principles, that even the atrocities of the 1909 Adana massacres didn’t prevent Dashnak leaders from deciding, at their fifth Congress, to continue their alliance with the CUP in the hope of a better future, despite objections from the Hunchak Party and the Armenian Patriarchate.
Totalitarian regimes know that knowledge is dangerous for them. So they do everything to bar their subjects from knowing and understanding. But there is another side to this: We, as human beings, instinctively—sometimes subconsciously, sometimes half-consciously—choose what to learn and what to know; or, to put it the other way round, we choose what not to learn and what not to know. This is because we instinctively go after what will give us peace of mind and keep us free of any inner unrest. So, although it is mainly a matter of the regimes’ obscuring and suppressing of the truth, there is also the question of our individual decision to always search for the truth, and chase it and find it at the cost of losing our peace of mind.
By Damon on September 11th, 2009
Thank you Ayse for the excellent article.
By Random ArmenIAN on September 12th, 2009
I’m speechless. Very well written article.
By Lara on September 12th, 2009
Dear Ayse (if I may), every time I read your columns, I wonder what can be done so that the millions of Turks listen to you?
By Katia K. on September 14th, 2009
Dear Ayse, as usual my hat’s off to you. What a bright, intelligent, inquisitive, EDUCATED, and most of all COURAGEOUS journalist! The Ottoman Empire was losing the war (WWI) and lots of countries and lands that it was ruling. In its desperation to hold on to the lands most adjacent to it, ie Armenian lands, it massacred their native population and annexed their lands. Turks and the whole world must come to know this unbelievable injustice dealt to my people.
By Chiara Megighian on September 15th, 2009
Systemic Therapy has shown that denial preserves from a devastating truth. Governments use denial to protect their citizen from becoming crazy when they realize what they have done. But facing the reality is the only way to peace.
By Tuna Tangor on September 16th, 2009
Whit out a reasonable doubt we ( the Turks ) did commit the most hideous crime possible against the Armenians. I came to this conclusion quite recently, because of my education system and the set of propaganda I was exposed to. I was raised to see Armenians as traitorous backstabbers. Once I started to see Armenians, not as Armenians but as humans my hole basis for seeing Armenians as an enemy changed and I started to see their frustrations and anger.
However, I feel no responsibility for the actions of my great grandfather who was a very prominent figure in the city of Nigde in 1915 and even though I can not be a hundred percent sure on this he probably had a hand in massacring and deporting the Armenians of Nigde.I can not change what happened no matter how much I desire to.
There is a very slow transformation taking place in Turkey. People are starting to question the governments policy of denying the Armenian Genocide. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 15 to 20 years the Republic of Turkey would recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Finally, for their to be lasting peace in the region, the validity of current borders must be accepted. Eastern Anatolia or western Armenia, which ever you prefer, has been controlled by Turks since 26 August 1071. I cannot imagine ever parting from it and let’s not forget every parcel of today’s Turkey belonged to someone else before the Turks migrated en mass. I have no desire going back to central Asia. The Turks and Azeries on the other hand should accept Nagorno-Karabakh / Artsakh as being Armenian, because what is the alternative? War, suffering and genocide.
Anti-Americanism in a Poisoned Tank, By Soner Cagaptay, Hurriyet, September 15, 2009
Two recent cases in Turkey involving American think tanks serve as evidence that anti-Americanism often spreads because of what people hear from their governments, and that such rhetoric, if not countered immediately, can have a debilitating effect on America's standing overseas.
The most recent Turkish case concerns a June 2009 Atlantic Council report, which outlines steps toward confidence building between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds. The report has been vilified in Turkey in vicious attacks and decried as an evil American plan that inspired the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government's summer 2009 Kurdish opening, an initiative that promises steps to alleviate Turkey's Kurdish problem. A think-tank in Washington driving the AKP's politics?! Yet, as unbelievable as it might sound, the current consensus in Turkey is that the Atlantic Council report and the United States government are pushing the AKP's summer initiative, and that because America and an American think tank are behind it, this initiative is against Turkey's interests.
The United States and American think tanks have lately taken on a poisonous reputation in Turkey. Outside observers may find this shocking, but the roots of this recent negative perception go back to the June 2007 "Hudson Institute Incident." At that time, the AKP used a roundtable discussion held at Hudson on the Kurdish issue, attended by the Turkish military, to suggest that the military was plotting in Washington against the AKP, and that it was using the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to this end. The party leadership lambasted the Washington think tank, suggesting that "in dark rooms" and "behind closed doors," "plans are made in Washington against Turkey's interests" and that the roundtable conversations constituted a crime "beyond treason" for the Turks in attendance.
Such rhetoric vilified U.S. think tanks and Washington. Embodying U.S. foreign policy toward Turkey, U.S. think tanks and Washington became synonymous with a conspiratorial view of sinister plotting against Turkey. This spin engulfed Turkey in a nationalist and anti-American frenzy during the early summer of 2007, becoming the only issue the Turks debated in that period. Supported by the government, and promoted by pro-government media, this hard to believe perception that a Washington think-tank and America were conspiring against Turkey became common currency, while allowing the AKP to tarnish the military's image and surf to a wave of popularity in the July 2007 elections.
Sad as it is, the AKP's instrumentalization of the Hudson incident ended up maligning the intellectual exercise about Turkey. Writing about and discussing Turkey in Washington became a risky exercise attracting vitriolic attacks. Now, however, the tables have turned: the AKP is reaping what it sowed in 2007 and is at the receiving end of the poisoned anti-American and "Washington and its think tanks are evil" environment it helped create. The "Atlantic Council" incident is hurting the AKP's image and the party is hard pressed to prove that "behind closed doors and in dark rooms in Washington, evil plans are not made against Turkey's interests."
All this has a cost to Turkey and the United States. The incidents involving the Hudson Institute and the Atlantic Council show that once the seeds of anti-Americanism are sown, it is almost impossible to uproot them from the political landscape of a country. The AKP has now learned that this phenomenon can even turn on the hand that once birthed it. So, foreign governments -- stand warned.
More importantly, the two incidents also demonstrate that anti-American rhetoric spread by foreign governments should not be dismissed as simple domestic politicking, for more than what America does or say, such rhetoric defines what people overseas think of the United States. The international public opinion of the United States is in many countries like a tank of water; even one drop of political arsenic is enough to poison the whole tank, and such poison is not made in America.
Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute.
Armenian Diaspora Is Egoist, Sedat Laciner, Journal Of Turkish Weekly Sept 16 2009
Armenian people is one of the ancient tribes. They created a great civilization and contributed to the humanity and other civilizations a lot. They established kingdoms and states as well. However as they settled mainly on the crossroads of the civilizations, religions, sects, races and great kingdoms, they could not maintain their independence. As a result they have generally lived under the other nations' sovereignty. Iranian Empire, Byzantium Empire, Russian Empire, Arab Kingdoms, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires and Soviet 'Empire'. They enjoyed great freedom under Seljuk and Ottoman Empires however many Armenians were tortured and deported by the Byzantium Emperors due to the religious disputes. Most of the time, they could not become soldiers or governors. In short the main problem for the Armenian peoples was lack of a state. When the French Revolution triggered the nationalist movements in the world, the Armenians were not ready for such a radical change:
The Ottoman Armenians were enjoying a great religious freedom and they were among the most wealthiest class in the empire. Many Armenian bankers, businessmen, doctors and intellectuals were very close to the Palace. The Ottoman Armenians in the towns and rural areas were mostly bankers, businessman or craftsmen. The Armenians with the Ottoman Greeks dominated the Ottoman export and import. Moreover the Ottoman Armenian population was not majority in any region. About 1 million Armenians were scattered around the huge Ottoman territories. In another word the Ottoman Armenians were not ready for a separatist nationalist revolt. They were actually happy with the existing system. The Church in particular had great privileges before the Ottoman State and a great power over the Armenian citizens.
Under these circumstances, the Armenian nationalism was developed in diaspora: In Switzerland and Georgia. Tashnak and Hnchak 'parties' were established in Tbilisi and Geneva. The leading Armenians were very young and inexperienced in politics. They had no enough power and financial support to struggle against the Empires. Apart from these, the young Armenian idealists set a formidable task for the Armenian nationalism: To unite all Armenians in the Ottoman, Russian, Iranian Empires and other Armenians in the region under a separate Armenian State. So, they needed foreign assistance, and the great imperial powers were very eager to 'undermine' the Ottoman Empire. The British, French and Russian Empires gave a great encouragement to the Tashnaks and other Armenian groups. However they did not fully keep their promises and when they reached agreements with the Istanbul Government the Armenian nationalists failed. Furthermore the Armenian nationalists were encouraged but not fully supported when needed. Another problem was that the Ottoman Armenians did not strongly join the Armenian nationalists. Many Armenians in the Ottoman towns were against the Armenian militants. Therefore the first target to be destroyed was seen as the Ottoman Armenian leaders. Many Armenian leaders were murdered by the Tashnak and other Armenian militants. They accused all Armenian opposition of being traitor. The Armenian terrorism killed more Armenians than the Muslims in the beginning of the 20th Century. The Armenian businessmen were threatened and forced to give 'tax' to the illegal Armenian groups. The Tashnak militants transferred a huge amount of weapons, provided by Russia and Britain, to the Ottoman towns. They were preparing a war and revolt against the Istanbul Government. They organized many terrorist attacks against the politicians and institutions. In 1876 the Armenian militants attacked the Ottoman Bank and exploded bombs before the bank. They further organized an assassination against the Sultan (Head of State) II. Abdulhamid.
When the First World War erupted, the Armenian extremists saw the war as an opportunity and the co-operation between the Armenians and Allied States increased. The Russian, British and French Empires who were in war against the Ottoman Empire, Germany and Austrian Empire, considered the Christian minorities as a tool against the Ottomans. Thus the Armenian nationalists were encouraged for more terrorist attacks, revolts and weapon transfers to Anatolia. The Van Revolt was one of the most vivid examples for the Armenian Revolts. The Tashnaks in the Van Revolt aimed to 'clean the region from the Muslims'. Thousands of Muslims were killed or forced to leave the region. At the end the Armenians declared their independence in Van province and then handled the city to the Russian occupying forces.
The Armenian nationalist 'adventure' ended with a tragedy which cost 500.000 Muslim and more than 110.000 Armenian lives. About Thousands of Armenians were relocated, and many died due to the war circumstances. The Armenians rioted against the Government in many towns and attacked their Muslim neighbors with the French, Russian and British encouragement. However the occupiers did not keep their promises and with the end of the war the Armenians could not return their homes. Many immigrated to the European and North American states. The cost of the revolt was very high for the Armenian nationalism. Nevertheless they could establish a tiny state in Caucasus under the Tashnak rule. It is unfortunate that the Tashnaks could not learn anything from the Ottoman Armenian experience and they started a 'revenge campaign' (NEMESIS) against the newly-established Turkish State. As a matter of fact that the last thing Independent Armenia needed was a 'revenge conflict' with the Turks. Armenia was a 'country of dead' at that time. Armenian population was suffering from famine and epidemic diseases, and more than 200.000 Armenians died under these circumstances in the Tashnaks' Independent Armenia. However the Armenian 'leaders' did not focus on the economic development, social and cultural problems and political relations with the neighboring countries while the newly Turkey's Government sole dealt with the political and economic problems. The Armenian terrorists killed many former Ottoman ministers. But the Tashnak attacks not only killed the Turkish targets but also ended the independence of Armenia. Armenia lost its independence and became a Soviet Republic under Moscow rule.
Armenians once more had to immigrate to the West. They suffered a lot from lack of an independent state. They had no reasonable leader who could lead them under the realistic and pragmatic principles instead of purely naÃ¯ve emotional motivations.
Under the lack of leadership, Armenians were exposed the great powers national interests. Moscow, Washington, Paris and London abused the Armenian issue.
Armenia gained its independence in 1991 after the decades when the Soviet Empire collapsed. It is unfortunate that the Diaspora Armenians and Tashnaks just focused on their own interests instead of saving the newly-established Armenia. Tashnaks played a crucial role in declaring war against the Azerbaijanis. The Diaspora encouraged more wars to capture the 'lost territories' in Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan. While the other former republics tried to decrease their dependency on Russia, Armenia more and more became a 'Russian orbit' in the region. When Russia lost its military bases in Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenians invited the Russians to their country.
The new Armenian nationalists and Diaspora saw Turkey the most deadly enemy, though Turkey was one of the first states who recognized Armenian independence. Actually Turkey considered Armenian State as an opportunity to normalize the Turkish-Armenian relations. However Armenian Diaspora seriously reluctant in normalizing the relations because it established the Armenian identity on anti-Turkishness. The 1915 Legacy and anti-Turkish accusations have been the only uniting factor in the diaspora. They feared that if Turkey and Armenia normalized the relations, the assimilation of the Armenians in the West could be accelerated. The Church and the political parties used the Turkish-Armenian problems in cementing the non-homogenous Armenian society. Moreover anti-Turkish Armenian Case was financial and prestige source for many Armenians and Diaspora institutions. In another word the Diaspora Armenian abused the problem with Turks for their personal and institutional interest at the cost of Armenia. Their priority was not State of Armenia but the Diaspora. They knew that the land-locked and relatively poor Armenia had to solve its disputes with Turkey in order to survive. However they sacrificed Armenian state once again as they did in 1918.
To conclude, the foremost priority for the whole Armenians must to protect and survive the young Armenia, instead of strengthening the Armenian diaspora. Armenia should not be part of the adventurous games of its Diaspora and Russia.
16 September 2009, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sedat LACINER: Director, International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO)
The US Policies In The Caucasus Could Lead To Further Russian Influence Stacy Maruskin, Journal of Turkish Weekly Sept 16 2009
Russia has always been a powerhouse in the global community and the Caucasus. Throughout the centuries Russians have occupied vast lands, and today their influence can still be seen and felt in many countries. Despite the end of the Cold War, it has not translated into warm, friendly relations devoid of strain between Russia and the rest of the world. Russia still poses a threat to Western interests in the region and the Obama administration's hesitancy to give actual and continual support for the pro-western countries of the Caucasus could be explained by the large, influential Armenian Diaspora of the United States. The Diaspora has influenced policies in the U.S. and if they continue to seep further into foreign policy making, it will not only be Armenia who relies on Russia for support, but Azerbaijan could fall victim as well.
Throughout the years following Armenian independence, Russia and Armenia have remained close consorts while Azerbaijan and Georgia have sought Turkish and American support as their key to the West. There is a cultural bridge which links Turkey to these countries. Turkey and Azerbaijan share a common language and religion while strong social links exist between Turkey and Georgia. For instance, millions of Georgians live in Turkey and Georgia has always seen Turkey as a friendly country that balances Russian antagonism. Armenia views Russia as its protector from over 100 million Turks that surround its borders: 72 million within Turkey, around eight million Azeri Turks in Azerbaijan and nearly 30 million Azeri Turks in Iran. While the other former Soviet Republics have tried to expand their foreign relations outside of Moscow, Armenians have headed in the opposite direction, increasing their diplomatic and economic ties with the country. Armenia's lack of natural resources and relative poverty has led to further dependence on Russia, and much of the infrastructure within Armenia is owned by Russian companies.
The oil and gas rich region of the Southern Caucasus serve both Europe and the United States' economic interests. Russia's recent attachment to the region is due to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's desire to show that Russia is back as an international actor. Habibe Ozdal, a Russian and Black Seas researcher at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK) based in Ankara, says, "After the dissolution of the USSR, the power of the Southern Caucasus belonged to the United States as well as Turkey, due to the latter's brotherly image for the Turkic peoples; however, since 2000, Russia has strongly emphasized that the Caucasus region is its backyard and is pushing for a pro-Russian agenda." Ozdal also reiterates sentiments that Russia now wants to strengthen its energy monopoly in the region; if it can assert its influence in the Caucasus and in Central Asia, international actors like the United States will become dependent upon Russia and risk falling victim to the activities of the Armenian Diaspora in the U.S. Recent policy implementations pushed by the Armenian Diaspora which are not favorable to Georgia or Azerbaijan will deteriorate closer relations between the U.S. and the Caucasus and damage any hopes for less energy dependency on Russia. If for this reason alone, the U.S. needs to work on turning its words into action for a strategic partnership in the Caucasus.
* The Energy and Oil Pipelines
As energy economist John Foster writes in his article, Afghanistan and the New Great Game, "Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and influence the regional balance of power." (1)
Aside from the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline which transfers gas from the Shah Deniz-I field to Turkey via Georgia and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Crude Oil Pipeline which lies between Turkey and Azerbaijan; there is the Nabucco Project which aims to decrease Europe's energy dependence on Russia. (2)
Europe's need for energy diversification has become apparent through pipeline projects like Nabucco. However, due to the recent conflict in Georgia, the European Union has expressed concerns over whether Georgia should play as large a role as it was initially given. The conflict between Russia and Georgia last summer has left a bitter aftertaste and with the signing of the Nabucco pipeline deal in July, some are wondering if Georgia can handle its role in the project. In the article, Tbilisi's Energy Future Dims, Peter Doran writes that Georgia had previously enjoyed a privileged seat at the Nabucco table due to their status as a strategic non Russian energy transport link between the Caspian Sea and Europe. However, with the announcement of plans to produce 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year from a new joint-venture in Iraqi Kurdistan, Georgia would be bypassed. (3) Each of those pipelines have one thing in common: they have all ignored Armenia as a passageway which has not pleased the Armenian Diaspora in the States and has most likely led to the contradictory rhetoric of Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. In his article, Doran touches on the inconsistency of their statements and points out that Georgia's strategic importance to the EU and the United States as a transport corridor will only grow less critical with every cubic meter of Iraqi natural gas supplied to Europe. Although Armenia claims economically that it makes no sense for their country to be bypassed and they should be incorporated into the pipeline routes, the EU and the United States both seem to favor avoiding the all together troubled Caucasus region if possible.
* The Armenian Diaspora and Caucasus Policies
Turkey was one of the first states to recognize Armenian independence in 1991; however, Turkey shortly closed its territorial borders with Armenia due to the latter's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is 20% of Azerbaijan's territory. In 1993, with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 822, Nagorno-Karabakh was declared part of Azerbaijan, and the resolution insisted that Armenian forces withdraw from the region. A withdrawal has yet to occur and as a result, the Turkey-Armenia and Azerbaijan-Armenia land borders have remained closed. At present, Turkey is insisting that before the border can be re-opened, the conflict must be settled, and this pre-condition has upset the United States, who is currently sponsoring the normalization talks between Turkey and Armenia.
It is possible that the Armenian Diaspora has become more influential in politics than those living within the country itself, especially when it comes to domestic Armenian politics. Their influence also has a firm grip on U.S. policy making. Although the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has recently declared unconstitutional, a law which allowed descendents of Armenians killed during the 1915 incidents access to their ancestors' bank accounts and insurance policies, it is still a prime example of their reach. The presiding Judge David Thompson said, "The conflict is clear on the face of the statute: by using the phrase, 'Armenian Genocide,' California has defied the President's foreign policy preferences."
Forty states have passed resolutions which recognize the incidents of 1915 as the Armenian 'genocide.' and the Diaspora has initiated a smear campaign against Turkey in the United States which, naturally, has not pleased Ankara.
These events are a testament to the Diaspora's power and influence within the American political system and the effects it has on U.S. policies, both domestic and foreign. The Diaspora does not approve of Armenia being sidestepped in the pipeline issue, it does not want Turkey to carry out a successful plan to open up the borders through the use of preconditions and it wants the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be resolved in Armenia's favor. The Diaspora also does not wish to see Armenia surrounded by a Turkic bloc and it is aware of Azerbaijan's vital importance to the West if it wishes to continue with energy, transportation and military projects within the country. All of this culminates in a further desire to steer favorable U.S. policies away from Azerbaijan and Georgia, something the U.S. cannot afford to continue doing.
Biden and Obama have each gone back and forth in their rhetoric which offers something between mediocre and strong support in terms of a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan and Georgia; it is no wonder they back peddle with such a large and wealthy Armenian voter constituency to remind them when they offer too much backing. However, if this strategic partnership does not come to fruition soon, Georgia might move on, especially since its defense has yet to be bolstered despite U.S. promises.
* The Roles of Turkey and the United States in the Caucasus
The United States has pushed for Turkey to open its land borders and throw out the precondition that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict be resolved before restoring diplomatic relations with Armenia. They believe that friendlier relations with Turkey could encourage Armenia to back away from Russian support and join its neighbors in their Western ambitions. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to occur, and Dr. Sedat Laciner, director of USAK believes, "It is not possible for them to leave the Russian bloc due to bilateral agreements and the mass Russian ownership of infrastructure within the country. They will not turn away from Russia and now the United States could lose Azerbaijan and Georgia because of the Armenian Diaspora."
The United States' prodding for Turkey to remove preconditions or accelerate the opening of its Armenian border is a lost cause. The Karabakh problem might never be solved since the population is now 100% Armenian due to nearly one million Azeris being forced from their homes over the years. Recently, Representative Frank Pallone, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, stated that, "I believe personally that the United States should recognize Nagorno-Karabakh. I certainly would be willing to do whatever I can to have that happen." He also declared that the region had a right to be an independent nation and that, "...what you really need to do is to have the State Department change its position." This is yet another example of the influence the Armenian Diaspora and lobby have in the United States.
Turkey has worked hard to build a foundation with Azerbaijan and Georgia so that they can look to Turkey for support rather than their former occupier, Russia. Turkey has tried to unite the three through economic and transportation projects and their ultimate aim has been to aid these two in their efforts for NATO accession. However, Azerbaijan and Georgia both know that Turkey cannot protect them in the wake of a Russian threat without subjecting itself to the turmoil of war, a risk it would not take. Therefore, by striking preemptively and accepting what they might believe is an inevitable future, a forced partnership with Russia if they are rejected by the West, they can reduce this threat by turning to the former before any looming threats become a reality. After last summer's conflict between Russia, Georgia, and the separatist groups from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia recognized those regions of Georgia as independent states and Georgia's Parliament passed a resolution which declared both regions Russian-occupied territories. With Russia's support, these territories are already under their influence.
The Obama administration should further nurture the desire of Azerbaijan and Georgia to be integrated with the West through their admittance into NATO and friendly relations with Turkey. They need to contribute to the strategic partnership with action and not only words. Since their independence, Azerbaijan and Georgia have expressed those wishes by pulling back on their ties with Moscow and strengthening their relations with Ankara. If ignored, Azerbaijan might feel it must go back into the arms of Russia for stability and security. The West has no interest in watching Russia expand its sphere of influence so why ignore the aspirations of these two countries. The Armenian Diaspora has overwhelming numbers in the United States and amazingly, there are more Armenians living abroad than in the country itself. Its influence in U.S. policy making has reached deeper and deeper into foreign relations in recent years and has the ability to strain U.S. relations with Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It has already pushed for the U.S. Congress to recognize the events of 1915 as genocide and it continues to influence foreign policy as can be seen with the case of Georgia and Azerbaijan. The lobby's influence has also prevented the U.S. from giving credits to the proposed railway projects which would unite the Caucasus with Turkey. The U.S. should show further support for initiatives in the region, specifically those regarding the pipelines.
If the United States is not careful, Russia could expand its influence in the region, creating a pro-Russian bloc. If Russia wins the hearts of the Azeris and with Georgia's breakaway territories already in Russia's back pocket, a chain of countries would be formed linking Russia directly by border to its close friend, Iran. The recent sentiments announced by newly-elected NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen that Georgia (and Ukraine as well) was not ready to become a member and its accession was "hypothetical" at the moment, does not help the situation. Azerbaijan asserts that its policies are independent from the influence of the West and Russia; however, if Azerbaijan forms closer relations with Russia, this will not bode well for the United States and Europe in the long run. They have been looking for alternatives to Russian power and influence in energy and with burgeoning relations between Russia and its former satellites, Western influence in the Caucasus could be displaced. The Obama administration must turn rhetoric into action and strengthen the strategic alliance between itself and the Caucasus while offering support and aid before the U.S. distances itself from viable interests and let the Caucasus fall straight into the lap of Russia.
Weary Of 'I-Told-You-So's' Burak Bekdil, Hurriyet Daily News Sept 15 2009
I am not equipped with metaphysical powers good for prophecy. But, exactly a year ago, this column was titled "Hurriyet must be banned for better democracy" (Daily News, Sept. 10, 2008). For the curious reader, here are a couple of excerpts from that article:
"In Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan's ideal democracy, Hurriyet should be banned. So should the opposition parties, opposition NGOs and all other groupings that oppose Mr. Erdogan's Muslim democracy. Anyone who threatens the 'pyramid scheme' these 'good Muslims' have built should be sent to jail - all for better democracy.
"Unfortunately, Mr. Erdogan has zero tolerance for any criticism or opposition to his political empire. He gets easily annoyed not because his comrades are crooks but because someone verifies and the other publishes that they are crooks."
Earlier than that, I had done my service to our boss, Aydin Dogan, not really because I had an eye on David Judson's seat, but because I was trying to look pretty to Mr. Judson for a small pay rise.
"Not even the trains run on time!" (Daily News, Feb. 15, 2008), humbly advised Hurriyet's publishers: "Be wise, just do as I do and escape the corporate consequences." And in "I warned you, boss!" (Daily News, Feb. 24, 2009), I regretted that our publishing group did not listen to my advice and found a $500 million tax office ticket on its window. Yet I kept on playing the wake-up call of our newspaper:
"Perhaps our editors do not understand. These days the smallest traffic fine we could be getting cannot be less than $100,000. If Ertugrul Ozkok is spotted spitting on the pavement, he could be prosecuted for six to eight years in prison. Even Bekir Coskun's pet dog could face a few years in a pet jail for 'running like a dog on the grass in a public area.' But that's all for better democracy in Turkey. And Mr. Erdogan and his men are none other than liberal democrats. And, yes, the elephant they painted with pink stripes is a zebra."
Fortunately, Mr. Ozkok is still a free man. Mr. Coskun's pet dog is still running about their lawn, but his powerful column has disappeared from Hurriyet's Page 3 - not even a farewell note to or from. And we found a far more generous ticket, this time at the tune of $2.5 billion on our front door, reading "with compliments from the tax office." In March, in admittance of an unusual practice, Mr. Erdogan said the dossier on the first fine had come to his desk. For what, we could never ask. Do all tax fines go through the prime minister's desk? No, but some apparently do. Bizarre? It happens.
This unpleasant story is fast becoming a Turkish version of Vladimir Putin vs. Mikhail Khodorovsky. Mr. Dogan could have escaped the very expensive bill for daring to stand against Mr. Erdogan's Islamic crusade had he been an ethnic Kurd, but it may be too late to portray our boss with an ethnicity that is not his. But we as journalists on his payroll could always invent a new, Armenian ethnicity for him since the eastern town he comes from was a predominantly Armenian place with an Armenian name (Payberd) as its original.
Failing that, Mr. Dogan should think of new tactics if he doesn't wish to end up in a prison in a remote corner of southeastern Anatolia for crimes his powerful enemies could easily fabricate for him and our "independent" judiciary will only be too happy to endorse - crimes like causing the recent floods in Istanbul or our national football squad's poor performance. We can start by a holy reshuffle at our media group, changing our editors with pious Muslims who don't touch a drop of alcohol, and should they be ladies, who never let a piece of their hair be seen by men. It has been proved that pilgrimage to Mecca doesn't work. So, no new Mecca journeys.
We at the Daily News often go unnoticed because our lingua franca is non-native. But should our time come after the spring cleanup in the Turkish-language publications, I confess I cannot end my very long love affair with ouzo - not even to save Mr. Dogan from prison. I am sure it would be equally painful for Mr. Judson to be circumcised at this age. Yusuf Kanli and Serkan Demirtas are always welcome to join us at the Belated Repentant's Club I am planning to set up. My suggestion for our new editor-in-chief will be an unrivalled Mustafa Akyol, whose articles we all miss very dearly.
For several decades, the Western civilization - and secular Muslims--feared the men in jihadist attire and swords in their hands. Now it's time to fear the jihadists in suit and a tie and pens in their hands.
Now We're Getting Somewhere, Aren't We?
I'm sorry for being away from the blog so much, but the constant state of flux Armenian international relations has been in this past year is at least partly to blame (and the fact Google Blogs is now blocked at work, where I do most of my analysis!) You see, in the run up to football diplomacy, it was easy and fun to speculate the various potential outcomes and meanings of what that truly unprecedented event was all about. News was always braking and the story took numerous twists and turns. Not long after though, the entire thing went dormant, appearing to the outside as if this diplomacy was like a shooting star which had burned too bright too soon. In actuality though, the business of bringing two age old enemies into agreement on issues is not an easy one or something you want to do out in the light of day with all sorts of radicals waiting to cut you down at every step, so the negotiations certainly continued but completely behind the scenes. In fact we saw nothing at all until suddenly, two days before April 24, a "roadmap" of an ambiguous nature was announced. We all know what happened next with Obama not keeping his pledge to say the g-word (though what we don't know if what went on, once again, behind the scenes, which I believe was deep and in the direction of solving this issue one day). After the roadmap was announced, everything went silent again with most Armenians (diasporans at least) bewildered and confused at what they were seeing from Armenia. The major complaint was that Armenia handed Turkey the ability to knock the genocide off the agenda for another year in exchange for... well for nothing apparent. Meanwhile Azerbaijan ratcheted up the heat calling on Turkey to cancel all contact with Armenia until Karabakh was solved, going to the extent of threatening it. Turkish officials indeed went to Azerbaijan to smooth things over, reassuring Azerbaijan nothing would come between them and that Armenia would be made to pay numerous concessions before anything moved forward.
Where are we today? Well everything is not as it seems because suddenly talks between Turkey and Armenia are being talked about again as if that never happened. The blow-up now appears to have been a face-saver for Azerbaijan to look like it was going to make gains as well from what otherwise would be a blow to it, as it is easy to see how rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia could be interpreted as a lose-lose situation for Azerbaijan vis-a-vis Karabakh. What has kept me from writing about any of this is the fact that the true nature of all these discussions are still hidden and it is almost impossible to know at any time how much we see is just a carefully choreographed dance between the countries (in my opinion most of it!) and what is not artificial. Most Armenians don't seem to know what to think about this, because it seems every major political party in Armenia supports the talks in theory- though of course the Dashnaks have pulled out of the government in protest of the April 22nd statement and Heritage Party found and MP Raffi Hovannisian resigned his seat in Parliament just yesterday as a response to the negotiations. As I said though, despite these moves these parties still seem to support the talks in principle, just not aspects of them as they exist today. For me, it is almost impossible to analyze what is going on because it is impossible to know what the final agreement will look like. On August 31st Turkey and Armenia formally committed to the process and said negotiations will last 6 weeks. This clearly looks extremely artificial because coincidentally football diplomacy part II is scheduled for exactly 6 weeks from now when Sargsyan is scheduled to go to a match in Turkey. To get some heat off from an angry public in the wake of football diplomacy I with little to show for it, Sargsyan said he would not go to Turkey unless the border was open or close to being opened. For most of 2009 however it looked like chances of the border being opened had become even more remote since Football Diplomacy I, not close, meaning Sargsyan would either have to break his word and go or would not be going. The President of Turkey does not make a landmark visit to Armenia for no reason though, so clearly there must have been something more to this whole thing all along. And here it is, 6 weeks to go until the match and suddenly it is announced major issues will be worked over in 6 weeks. At that point it will be up to the countries respective parliaments to pass the agreement and things should pick up from there.
Or will they? Sargsyan certainly has the power in parliament to get the agreement passed if he wants, but the question is whether Gul and Erdogan can. This fall they also will be working to make Kurdish reforms passed through parliament, which will certainly take a lot of political capital to get through. Some are of the opinion that the Armenian issue might need to be sacrificed for the sake of the Kurdish issue at the moment, but that remains to be seen. Just to prove that the wonders never cease, Today's Zaman is just reporting that Azerbaijan may also open borders with Armenia. What?! Wasn't that the country making a huge anti-Armenian fuss just a few months ago? Well of course it was, but if one attributes the real reason for Turkish-Armenian relations to it being used as an alternative transit route instead of unstable Georgia, it doesn't really do much good if travel isn't open between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well, as proposed pipelines begin there. What's interesting about this article is that it says open borders are possible if Armenia surrenders 5 regions it captured in the Karabakh war. The article implies, via an Azeri Foreign Ministry statement, that Azerbaijan is agreeable to moving forward with relations without the immediate release of Lachin and Kelbajar regions as well, leaving them until future negotiations. These two regions are the major bone of contention as if they were given up Azerbaijan would have easy access to cutting Karabakh from Armenia in the future. If true, this would be a huge leap forward towards thawing this conflict in the region.
When it comes to peace negotiations, it also bears mentioning that the whipping boy of my previous entry, Minsk Group co-chair in charge of Karabakh negotiations Matthew Bryza, will be replaced by Ambassador Robert Bradtke. Bryza might not be going far though as the long-running rumor is that he will become the US's new ambassador to Azerbaijan, meaning he will still very much be involved with this situation. In short, it is very hard to know where everything is going. After a mostly frozen years suddenly negotiations are appearing to race ahead publicly, though in fact it seems most of this was likely agreed upon at least as early as April in private. It took until shortly before the game to be the right time to start talking about it in public though as clearly this is not a popular move with many in Turkey or Armenia or the diaspora. Armenia is certainly taking a big risk and it must be extremely careful. Personally, I am trying to feel confident that we won't look back on all this as some major blunder which resulted in Armenia being taken advantage of, and I feel like in the end it won't and cannot be so, though anything is possible. Much is still left to be said and worked out publicly, so perhaps I will have a lot more to write about in the coming weeks. Until then let us all pray for a safe and peaceful process to sound agreements which are beneficial to all.
Posted by The Historian, http://armhye.blogspot.com
Armenia, Diaspora Must Form "Strategic Pin" For Turkey, Armen Gevorgyan, Information-Analytic Agency News.Am Sept 8 2009
Armenia became a full international person the very moment the country's leaders made the first step to normalize the Armenian-Turkish relations.
Personality is not an exclusively positive state. It is fraught with risks Armenia has not yet faced during its modern history. The risks in question require much deeper political analyses and forecasts, a totally different way of forming state and public systems.
Armenia supposedly made a "jump" into "real" regional politics under the pressure of objective processes, with the Russian-Georgian war being the most significant one of them. As a result, Russia enlarged and consolidated its southern borders and restored its international reputation (for showing weakness is that is most detrimental to Russia). With all this, however, Russia lost its strategic initiative in the South Caucasus. "Establishing peace" with Turkey thus became the only possible scenario of Armenia's foreign policy, which immediately sensed various winds which were "tempered" by the Russian security umbrella before.
However, the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement is not a purely political process for Armenia and for the Armenian people. Nor can it be called a purely historical one. A most serious psychological barrier is an obvious factor, and overcoming this barrier can post factum be designated as demonstration of strength and political will. On the other hand, it was an involuntary step made by one aware of its own weakness.
Now that the actual sense of the regional developments is clear, it is worth addressing two mutually exclusive positions in the context of Armenia's possible strategy.
The arguments presented by the proponents of a hard line are as follows: Armenia must not sign any agreement with Turkey. By doing so, it will challenge the result of the Armenian people's centuries-long struggle for survival and, over the last few decades, for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The more radical forces' arguments are that the Armenian people must demand the compensation for losses from Turkey in the future - for both material and territorial losses. This group rules out any linkage between the Armenian-Turkish rapprochement and the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The two processes have nothing to do with each other, and any preconditions are inadmissible.
But what we actually see is that it is soft-liners that are implementing Armenia's foreign policy. The very sense of their actions is to take every opportunity for a dialogue. It is not because of fully meeting the Armenian people's interests that the soft and constructive line proved to be an option. The current foreign policy reflects the potential Armenia has managed to accumulate during its centuries-old history. To be frank, this potential has not proved to be great, which is an objective result as well.
What are the possible results of the "hard-line" and "soft-line" scenarios of the Armenian strategy? Does any "mean line' exist?
The hard-line scenario, which provides for a status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border as long as one wants, applying the same principle to the Armenian-Turkish confrontation in the international arena, may produce the following two results: the exhaustion of Armenia's political, economic and demographic resources and, therefore, a war and collapse of Armenian statehood; or, joint capitulation on the part of Azerbaijan and Turkey. Let the reader estimate the two probabilities.
The soft-line scenario, which provides for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, with the status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone to be simultaneously shaken against the international community's guarantees, may produce two possible results as well: Turkey and Azerbaijan may either take advantage of the new state of affairs and increase their joint politico-military (Azerbaijan) and cultural and economic (Turkey) pressure on Armenia or, flattered by Armenia's goodwill, contribute to the country's prosperity. I do not think the reader will find it difficult to choose the more probable scenario.
As we can see, both the scenarios are equally dangerous for Armenia. So, by making statements and appeals, the proponents make it even more difficult to find the "mean line", which, beyond doubt, does exist and is the only right way.
This course is a historical and strategic necessity for the Armenian people, a principal test in its modern history. This task is far from being a trivial matter, as it rests on one of the most intricate aspects of the Armenians' national identity, namely, the Armenians' double-aspect nature in the broad sense of the term, different spiritual mentality and real life priorities in Armenia and in the Diaspora. I would like to note that initiating and escalating a controversy over the current political processes in the region between representatives of Armenia and Diaspora will prove to be a fatal blunder for the Armenians, as such a controversy will actually be a conflict between the soft and hard lines, but not a result of joint search for the "mean line."
Under the circumstances, we should admit that Armenia has failed a strategic task of establishing channels of communication with the Diaspora, which prevented the two sides from "joining their voices." What we can hear now is a hubbub, with cries of despair, not a clear dialogue between the two sides having the same task, but different resources and fields of activities.
The Diaspora's criticism against the Armenian authorities is counterproductive: it is not the emotions of the Armenians residing in the United States, France, Lebanon and Russia - no matter how strong and sincere they are - but the actual alignment of forces in the region, Armenia's real potential and actual tasks of ensuring the Armenian citizens' security that should be guidelines for Armenia's official leaders. The Armenian authorities cannot have any other priorities. In this case, the Diaspora, as well as those speaking on its behalf, should clearly distinguish between their own priorities and Armenia's state interests. However, it does not at all mean that the Diaspora's activities for national interests will inevitably run counter to Armenia's national interests. Quite the contrary...
The Armenian Diaspora's consistent and relentless pressure on Turkey can and must facilitate the negotiations for the Armenian side. With its rather amorphous structure, the Diaspora is not subject to the same serious risks as the Armenian state and citizens, which occupy a specific, or rather, blockaded territory. Thus, the "mean line" provides coordination between Armenia and the Diaspora, application of two tactically different strategies, which is supposed to produce "a mean result", equally acceptable to both Armenia and the Diaspora.
In their turn, the Armenian authorities, whether they like it or not, must convene a forum in the near future to hold open talks with Diasporan representatives, which would make them form a real -in place of the currently radiant -- picture of the Homeland, Mount Ararat, national flag and anthem, Armenia's interests and real potential. Forming channels of communication with the Diaspora, Diasporan mass media and active representatives is an urgent task of the Armenian Government. And this communication must not be a recurrence of Armenia-Diaspora festivals, which fill the belly, not the brain. Rather, this must be brainstorm communication, which will result in a realistic strategy of mutual assistance. The Diaspora must raise the issues of its tragic history and of the claims of Armenians' worldwide in isolation from Armenia's state policy. This policy is aimed at creating a favorable regional situation for the country's economic development and reducing security risks.Armenia and Diaspora must for a "strategic pin" for Turkey. This is the only way of impeding the Azerbaijani-Turkish policy of "lumping everything together."
Avoiding Armenian Mafia Life
As a follow-up to a previous post on my blog about the Armenian mafia culture and the "Mafia Complex" that I noted back in March, I can say that despite the economic downturn that has hit most of the world during the last 12 months, the supposed "financial crisis" that Armenia has been suffering from is not apparent, namely in central Yerevan. Construction is continuing despite a reported downturn. The number of luxury SUVs and brand new Japanese passenger cars that are sold in dealerships established here is ever increasing. And the emergence of young whippersnappers (aka, the Apero) acting tough and racing their cars dangerously, especially in the evening when traffic is light, is more prevalent than ever before. Meanwhile upscale clothing stores, gift shops and trendy posh restaurants keep opening. All this while the socioeconomic conditions in the regions is ever stagnating.
So what is being reported by the Central Bank of Armenia at least once a month doesn't correspond with reality. Due to the generosity of Russia and the World Bank close to $1 billion in foreign aid has already entered the country, so you can just imagine where some of that cash is going. And people love the mafia shows (namely "Vorogayit" and "Gyanki Kinuh," or the "The Price of Life")--they're even shown in some cafés.
So this is the reality here, and if you live in the midst Armenian society you just have to become accustomed to it by not letting it get to you. There's really nothing that can be done about the transformation of society and the uppity, haughty attitudes that some people have towards others nowadays. This wasn't the case just a few years ago, but now that people have more money to spend and are able to do "European remodeling" in their homes, they are forgetting their roots. Some are unfortunately not as down to earth as they once were.
Obviously you can't simply stay indoors to avoid mingling with these types. If you enjoy socializing and dining out, I recommend going to laid-back places like Pub Che, which can't be rivaled in terms of informality, The Club, Gusto, Café Central and Karma, a pretty good Indian restaurant. If you are looking for more lively atmospheres you can't go wrong with Stop Club, where you can hear great jazz, blues or rock on a nightly basis, and Red Bull pub, both of which are on the intersection of Moscovyan and Tumanyan Streets. All of these establishments are not frequented by people suffering from the Mafia Complex because they can't relate with the vibe and the more cultured clientele. Stop and Red Bull also practice face control. At another bar called Texas, the management keeps the door continuously locked and you have to ring a buzzer for them to let you in. It's bizarre, but it works for them and their customers.
So my advice to repats and expats wondering what the hell is going on in Armenian public life is to simply ignore what they see or hear. Go out and have fun, and don't let anyone spoil your mood.
Labels: Personal Experiences
Posted by Christian Garbis
Beating As a Way of Life
A couple of days ago I read that yet another journalist had been beaten, this time at Brusov Institute in broad daylight. Some journalists were trying to enter the institute, which is known for its linguistics department and is attended mostly by young women, to interview the rector, Suren Zolian, on allegations of corruption. The photojournalist Gagik Shamshian never made it to the rector's office because the "security guards" at the institute beat him up by kicking him repeatedly in the balls after throwing him to the floor, according to the news story. Not a brave way of handling someone adamant in doing his job--that is, reporting the truth. They could have just picked him up and thrown him out on the sidewalk to get their point across. Real security guards would have done just that. But why assault the guy in such a harsh, cowardly way? The ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan complained about the incident publicly, not that it will make a difference or that anyone will necessarily care.
It's not uncommon for someone in Armenia to have bodyguards if he feels that his life is in danger. For instance, someone seeking revenge for being swindled may want to harm a businessman, or perhaps a tough guy wants to rub out his competition. But why a rector?
They have a bodyguard academy here that will teach young men how to fire guns, use self-defense tactics, and so forth. I've seen advertisements on television for this type of training. Sometimes a catch a glimpse of a guy with a pistol in its holster under his jacket stretching his arms in a cafe, presumably to show off. Once I saw someone with a machine gun strapped across his shoulder, partially concealed by his coat, buying flowers from a vendor on Tumanyan Street.
But when the head of an educational institution needs personal protection, you have to wonder what exactly is going on in society. Presumably this man is not only extorting bribes from his own students, he is most likely involved in some sort of business dealings that would jeopardize his safety. How do the students tolerate such behavior from their own rector?
Incidentally, last week some students from a youth organization called Miasin started pasting up posters with photographs of professors at Yerevan State University who they claimed were corrupt. Nothing severe happened to the kids, however.
On a related note, I heard a rumor about a host of a TV variety show called "Two Stars" which broadcasts on public television named Felix Khachatryan being fired by the station's producer. Apparently a kid was singing an innocent song about a little mouse, or "mgnik" in Armenian. Felix then made a comment that it was nice the show had its own cute mouse. But here's where things get interesting. In case you don't know, the head of parliament and big-shot businessman/oligarch, Hovik Abrahamyan, is known by the nickname "moog," or mouse (in this sense a full-grown one). The station's producer took offense for some peculiar reason at Felix's remark and after an argument between them he was axed. This info was printed in a newspaper called Hraparak, but how factual the story is could be anyone's guess. Then I heard another rumor that Felix was being pursued by others who were agitated with him for making that remark. Quite a bit of news tidbits are circulated by word of mouth here, and facts (if not made-up stories) are undoubtedly filtered out the more the information is relayed to others along the gossip chain.
The bodyguard/wise guy way of life, real or not, is the fashion nowadays. I've heard many stories of people being assaulted, even forced to be pulled over while driving their cars to be beaten. Even traffic cops have taken blows.
It's normal for young men especially to act tough and be rude. They are influenced by what they read, hear and even see, as you can view television soaps about fictional local mafias on a nightly basis. Those especially who are connected to people who have some clout with oligarchs or less important figures, not to mention those pretending that they do--in other words guys suffering from a "mafia complex"--seem to think they can do whatever they want, including beating people up.
On my street I literally see a gang of teenagers hanging out every evening in front of the bookmaking parlor adjacent to my building, acting up and shouting to one another late into the night. These spoiled punks drive their vehicles at top speed around the block, all the while honking their horns for no reason other than to attract attention. Once in a while I hear squabbles on the corner of Vartanants and Hanrabedutyan and kids from all directions run to where the fight is in full swing. Rude, indifferent behavior from young men or teenagers in public is now the norm, something that was not obvious just a couple of years ago. I can say that in my neighborhood, ever since the betting parlor and the "Amsterdam" nightclub opened around the corner on the quiet Tpakrichner Street over a year ago, things have gone downhill. Lately I've been avoiding going out for walks at night so that I won't notice these jerks hanging out, as acid starts to build up in my stomach from resentment when I see them acting stupid or loitering, constantly looking over their shoulders. Society is headed in the wrong direction, and I can't imagine it turning around in the near future, unless there is a cultural renaissance on the way, which is unlikely. Admittedly, I have recently been having doubts about indefinitely remaining here.
Dangerous Game or Good Diplomacy?: Political debate on Armenia-Turkey protocols continues By Gayane Mkrtchyan, ArmeniaNow reporter
Political discussions continue on the draft protocols on establishing ties and developing bilateral relations between Armenia and Turkey, nearly two weeks after their publication. Opinions, as expected, are split and typically reflect political party persuasions.
Aram Karapetyan, who leads the extra-parliamentary opposition New Times party, thinks with the current Armenian-Turkish relations President Serzh Sargsyan has trammeled Armenia into a `dangerous, complex and cruel game.'
Karapetyan said at a press conference Thursday that Armenia should have launched its relations with Turkey with a precondition that the latter recognizes the Ottoman-era killings and deportations of more than 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.
`Why? The policy in the past ten years conducted by [former president] Robert Kocharyan and [his foreign minister] Vardan Oskanian, the main purpose of which was the recognition of the Armenian Genocide at international instances, has been totally left aside today,' said Karapetyan. `What does an unconditional Armenian-Turkish rapprochement mean?'
The leader of the opposition party finds it strange that one nation can slaughter another and that victim nation should have no pre-condition. Furthermore, Karapetyan believes that Armenia should achieve a genuine separation of the Karabakh settlement from normalization with Turkey.
Meanwhile, the Orinats Yerkir party, a junior partner in the Republican Party-led governing coalition, sees no snags in the protocols on establishing diplomatic ties and developing bilateral relations unveiled by Yerevan and Ankara on August 31.
Heghine Bisharyan, who leads the Orinats Yerkir faction in parliament, does not share the views and concerns of Armenia's nationalist forces, notably the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, that the published protocols have a link with Karabakh.
`I see no grounds for this concern. There is no reference to Karabakh anywhere in the protocol,' she says.
And Tigran Karapetyan, who leads the People's Party, sees a risk for Karabakh in the protocols.
`There is a point in the protocols by which the parties should contribute to processes taking place in the region. This way, Turkey gets the right to intervene in the Karabakh issue,' says Karapetyan.
And New Times' Karapetyan suggests that by increasing Turkey's role in the region Armenia will in fact infringe upon the interests of Iran and Georgia.
According to Karapetyan, if the protocols are ratified by the Armenian parliament, then `this parliament is not Armenian.'
And Orinats Yerkir's Bisharyan said: `All presidents [of Armenia] wanted to get the border opened. Now a period has come when efforts are successful=85 We will back the country's president so that he solves this problem and thank God that the coalition is of this opinion.'
Armenia-Turkey: Armenian Parliament Is Preparing For Hearings Of The Protocol On Normalization Of Bilateral Relation Between The Two Countries Analysis By Aris Ghazinyan, ArmeniaNow reporter
Last week the Heritage Party opposition faction submitted to the NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations an initiative on holding a referendum on Armenia's adoption of the protocols envisaging normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.
`This initiative was born with a consideration that the issue of Armenian-Turkish relations is of vital importance for Armenia and it is for such cases that the law on referendums has been recently passed. It's time to apply that law,' stated MP Larisa Alaverdyan.
It should be noted that in the evening of August 31 the Foreign Ministries of Armenia, Turkey and the Federal Department on Foreign Affairs of Switzerland reported the beginning of bilateral political consultations on the two protocols initialed with Switzerland's mediation - `Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Two Countries' and `Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations'.
The parliament hearings will be held before October 14 according to the set timeframe of six weeks which coincides with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's scheduled visit to Turkey.
Some political analysts and politicians think that the protocols have a number of unacceptable formulations and phrases from the viewpoint of Armenia's interests.
Vahan Hovhannisyan, member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun (ARF) Bureau, stated that Dashnaktsutyun had never spoken against the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border, however, they are not happy with the price the Armenian authorities are ready to pay for it to be achieved.
`Protocols providing for taking steps aimed at reconciling Armenia and Turkey have to be reconsidered, because the way they are now is unacceptable.'
One of the regulations in the protocol says: `Confirming again bilateral and multi-lateral obligations of equal rights, sovereignty, non-intervention in other countries' domestic affairs, recognition of territorial integrity of states and stability of state borders, the parties=85 '.
`It is quite obvious that the `other countries' implies first of all Azerbaijan, and the phrase `non-intervention in other countries' domestic affairs' refers to the Nagorno Karabakh issue exactly as Azerbaijan's `domestic' affair,' points out Moscow political analyst Samvel Nazaryan.
`The Armenian authorities can say whatever they want and however they want, but there is no other interpretation. The sited regulation unambiguously localizes the most important issue of today's history of Armenia within the state borders of Azerbaijan making it that country's `domestic affair''.
Azerbaijani mass media have rushed to announce that there is the prospect of official Baku submitting a draft resolution on the respect of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity on the basis of the Armenian-Turkish protocol to the UN General Assembly.
`Taking into account the international euphoria in reference to this document and the not less euphoric state of the Armenian authorities, there is little doubt that Azerbaijan's resolution draft would be passed,' says Nazaryan.
Another point in the controversial protocol completes the above mentioned one: `Confirming mutual recognition of the common border between the two countries based on the corresponding international-legal agreements=85'
`This regulation means that the Armenian authorities are officially renouncing any territorial claims, depriving future presidents of Armenia of international-legal grounds to raise this issue in the perspective,' says political analyst Garegin Gabriyelyan, head of the Keni Center.
The Armenian-Turkish border, in reality, amounts to not only space but time as well. It is not simply a couple of hundred kilometers dividing one part of historic Armenia from the other, it is several alternating centuries during which many different monstrous acts have been carried out against the Armenian population, among which is the Armenian Genocide. It was during the Genocide that the length and contours of the current `Armenian-Turkish' border were drawn.
`Hence, to speak about recognizing the current border means signing a complete and unconditional capitulation of the Armenian cause, and agreeing with the Turkish that `the events of the early 20th century had no consequences for the Armenians,' stresses Gabriyelyan.
Member of Parliament of Nagorno Karabakh Maxim Mirzoyan, while speaking about the process of settling the Armenian-Turkish relations, stated:
`I do not think that the Armenian-Turkish relations can be successfully settled. In any case, like it or not, Turkey is our neighbor and we have unsettled issues with it, and until they are called to account for what they did, we have no right to build any relations with Turkey.'
Representatives of the Armenian authorities have made statements on this issue as well.
`If the protocols on establishing relations initialed by Ankara and Yerevan are not in Armenia's interests, people will protest and start rallying,' says Galust Sahakyan, deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia.
Globalization Will Come From Turkey, Naira Hayrumyan Lragir 11/09/2009
The Armenian society is offered a choice to decide whether Armenia, perhaps with a threat to national sovereignty, agrees to become a part of the globalizing world, either national sovereignty is the only guarantee for its existence. The choice is clear, and the proof of that is the increasing talk about assimilation. Such talk may be heard from people who do not know that term. People just talk if the border opens, the national coat of Armenia will break. Maybe the positive things that are in a global world penetrate inside but the ethnic core will be blurred.
People talk about this without explicitly negative or positive mood. Because the choice is really serious: it is necessary to evaluate all the pros and cons. But most importantly the inevitable choice: globalization comes on the Caucasus like a snowball. Everyone understands that in today's world it is difficult to live in isolation, especially in a not very friendly environment. But right this environment makes the Armenians fear a candy promising process: globalization will come to Armenia, not from America or Europe, but from Turkey. And in this case, the arguments of globalization that, in the European Union, for example, expanding the borders did not lead to assimilation, is losing force, because the globalization of Turkey will be uniquely called assimilation.
Snowball is coming closer. And here we do not need to think about the offensive and initiative, and to build fortifications. And not to discuss, for how much Serge or Levon sold Armenia and Karabakh. Because it is clear that they have tried unsuccessfully to escape from the coma, because they see its speed and size. No one will give money for an area of the coast, if the sea level is rising before our eyes. You have to think about how to meet the globalization with fortified borders, with more extensive and strategically important territory, entrenched economies. While we are doing the opposite turning our backs to the sea, we are trying to prove that this is just a tide, instead of building a dam with sluices, which only we would be able to open.
Com has grown and is directed to our region after the Barack Obama assumed his office. Atlantic Community has launched a powerful movement, which is commonly called globalization, but in fact, it is the destruction of closed borders. As a result of the U.S. there are no borders in Iraq, in Afghanistan and neither Pakistan, remains a small area - Iran, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan. It is not important who and how will control the territory after - the main thing is to destroy the borders. And they will be destroyed.
Unlike the Armenians, who are accustomed to look at the border with the height of human growth and considering it unshakable, others see the world from a satellite where the borders are only natural -mountains, and rivers. And when working out plans they operate these boundaries, but not those invented by man. Perhaps, in order to see the plans they build on us, we have to climb a high mountain and try to incorporate those plans into their elements.
What Will Be Proved? Lragir 11/09/2009
When an Armenian seriously thinks that Turks are idiots, creates serious grounds to doubt about his seriousness or wisdom. And such kind of Armenians exists who proceeding from the cult of football diplomacy do not say directly that Turks are idiots but it is difficult to think anything else when an Armenian says that we do not have to be afraid of studying historical facts because they are in our interest and discussing them with Turks will prove the fact of genocide.
So these people really think that Turks are so idiots that do not realize that the facts are in the favor of Armenians and decide to discuss them without thinking that afterwards they will be forced to recognize the genocide. Even if the Turks have never thought about it before, so now when they hear the wise observations of the Armenian apologists that we Armenians do not need to be afraid of historical facts, will surely renounce the historical discussion proposed by them.
But we see that they do not renounce even after hearing all this which means that they are either completely idiots or we are idiots not to understand that Turks cannot be idiots and if they propose historical discussions this means that they have already calculated and clarified something. And in result of this calculation it maybe found out that there was not a genocide but just a fight during which Armenians killed Turks.
And we do not have to be sure about the might of the Armenian historians. They are of course powerful but not in convincing the Turks but in washing the brains of the Armenian society. They are able to convince the Armenian society that a certain person is a hero and the other one is a betrayer. But the historical discussions with the Turks will not be held on heroism or betrayals. The discussion will be based on historical documents which, by the way, the society does not have, consequently, when an Armenian historian tries to convince an Armenian citizen that a certain person is a hero, the citizen does not demand a certification of heroism. And in the discussion with the Turks no one knows what documents and certifications they are going to present to the Armenian side: document, the existence of which has never occurred to the Armenian side because Armenians are led by the opinion that Turks are idiots. And in this case, Armenians during discussions with Turks will not prove the fact of genocide but their own silliness.
Armenian-Turkish Relations: Viewpoint From Ankara
Nagorno Karabakh will serve as a condition for the realization of Nabucco or any transnational or regional communication project. 10.09.2009
The issue of Armenian-Turkish relations has become the subject of discussion of not only the Armenian society but also that of the world media. And, for some reason, the focus is mainly on Armenia's position, though no less important is the standpoint of Turkey, which, is hardly talked about. If we consider the situation from Ankara's viewpoint or generally from Turkish perspective, Armenia is an enemy to Turkey, a country that hinders her to meet her strategic objectives.
/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Even in the years of 1918-1923, when the Entente and afterwards Greece with the support of the Entente immersed into Continental Turkey and successfully moved to Ankara, Turkey concentrated all the power of her army on the Caucasian front against the Armenians. And only after solving all her problems with the support of the Bolshevik Russia on this front, did Turkey send her troops to the West.
This fact alone shows the great importance that Turkey attaches to the Armenian question. It is her biggest concern and she will do everything in her traditional manner: give only promises, sign dozens of contracts, accomplish no single item of the agreements signed, harass and slaughter the Christian population. It has always been so. No need to list all the contracts and the solemn commitments given by Turkish sultans to European leaders...
As for Turkey's present stance, she is a country that will never do anything for the benefit of any other state in the world, especially for the Armenian people, their growth, prosperity and consolidation of statehood. Transit projects like Nabucco or the `Great Silk Road' passing through Armenia are destined to failure for the simple reason that Turkey will never allow them.
Solving her problems - the recognition of borders defined by the Kars Agreement and softening ognition ` as well as strengthening the inter-state borders legally and transferring the issue of the Armenian Genocide to the level of historical discussion that could last for years, Turkey will abruptly turn to the implementation of joint Turkish-Azerbaijani plans, the return of Artsakh to Azerbaijan being a priority. Thus, Nagorno Karabakh will serve as a condition for the realization of Nabucco or any transnational or regional communication project, an idea that will be (or is already) imposed on Europe.
So, in the foreseeable future we shouldn't rely on any transit communications from Asia to Europe, as the railroad lines of Armenia rest on Azerbaijan in the east, thus being destined to permanent unfeasibility, while the beginning of construction of railway communication with Iran is on hold for another year because of indistinctness of the status of the liberated lands and the indistinct position of official Yerevan.
Thus, we shouldn't expect any major economic benefits referred to by a number of politicians and economists, who are for the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border. Minor border trade cannot improve the country's economy; it simply contributes to the welfare of business people involved in export and the local population of the borderland. Here are all our dividends.
Politics, in essence, is the art of trading. And there is always a place for more or less equal exchange under favorable conditions; for example, the recognition of the status of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in exchange for the return of part of the liberated lands of no strategic value, or opening of the Armenian-Turkish border with consideration of conditions of the Kars agreement in return for recognition of the Genocide.
It is also appropriate to mention that today Turkey needs a breakthrough, breakthrough to the latest industrial and civilization achievements of the West and to a revised national idea. Today the country is under the threat of militant nationalism, replenished with the religious factor, still contr he Turkish leadership. However, today the Turkish leadership faces new challenges associated with the national identity of its population, the Kurdish question and white spots of the history offered to the advanced layer of the society. The (urban) society has already started a cautious revision of the old ideals, which was provoked by loud murders and scandals connected with the Armenian issue.
In the eyes of their public the Turkish leadership needs real diplomatic victories or at least, an illusion of progressive advance in civilization.
As for the reasons why the Administration of the President of Armenia has intensified the dialogue with Turkey on normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, it must be regarded as a Russian-American and European confrontation in the region with the aim to solve their tactical and strategic tasks, among which there are hardly any pro-Armenian planks.
Bryza Has Done His Duty, Let Him Go, Or Does Azerbaijan Need Such 'Americanization'?, Karin Stepanyan
Novoye Vremya -- The US co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza, who is touted for the post of US ambassador to Azerbaijan, has not yet got the official agreement from the Azerbaijani authorities.
It is very likely that the Azerbaijani authorities are trying to show to the USA that Azerbaijan is not very much enthusiastic about the appointment.
So, the most "denied" by various media co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza, has left his position with as much fuss as when he embarked on it. It was Bryza who at the beginning of his career as a co-chairman raised the curtain over the negotiations, having made public part of the Madrid principles. And it is Bryza who despite all mediation rules has been appointed ambassador to a conflicting country.
The co-chairmanship has become kind of a springboard to expand his knowledge of the region and gain a reputation here. This controversial appointment gives many grounds for an analysis - what will the embassy headed by Bryza bring into the US policy on Azerbaijan, how will it correlate with relations with Karabakh and Armenia, what will it result in the context of relations between the mentioned countries and Turkey? Bryza is considered to be an expert of the US Department of State on the Caucasus. Moreover, he belongs to the "executor" of the USA's geopolitical blueprint on the so-called "Greater Middle East" which involves the necessity to cut the "umbilical cord" linking the South Caucasus countries and Russia and to transfer them to another geopolitical dimension. In this context, Bryza's appointment to a regional country is not a coincidence. He has got the "first hand" knowledge of the whole region, including Karabakh - are there many politicians or ordinary people in Azerbaijan who have seen the contemporary NKR [self-declared Nagornyy Karabakh republic] with their own eyes? In addition, Bryza's wife is an ethnic Turk, which is no less important if at issue is the Caucasus mentality and this factor's influence on the Azerbaijan-Turkey-USA triangle (it is very likely that this factor can somehow cause the recently soured Azerbaijan-Turkey and Turkey-USA relations to appear to have got warmer).
Naturally, Bryza could have been appointed ambassador, for example, to Georgia, especially as they say that it was [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili who financed the high-profile wedding of Bryza and Turkish-born Zeyno Baran. In addition, Saakashvili was quick to award Bryza for "services in developing friendship between the USA and Georgia" - a strange award if we consider that Bryza was never involved in Georgian affairs fully.
Of course, it would have been "more correct" on the part of the USA to rather appoint Bryza as ambassador to Georgia, taking account of his warm personal relationship with Saakashvili and in order to preserve formal neutrality by not appointing an OSCE co-chairman as ambassador to a country for which it acted as a mediator in the past. Bryza's appointment as ambassador to Azerbaijan shows that in fact, the USA "does not care" about formalities since with this unethical appointment, Washington has probably once again made it clear for the world that American interests are above formalities... [ellipses as published]
At the same time, this, in fact, cynical appointment of a conflict mediator as ambassador to a conflicting country has not provoked appropriate reaction from the NKR or Armenian government or the mediators, which can create an undesirable precedence for the future.
Bryza noted: "[US] President Obama considers Azerbaijan to be a very important strategic partner of the USA." It is not worth speaking about the importance of Azerbaijan for the USA in terms of its energy resources, the USA considers that it is important to shift Azerbaijan's direction towards "great" Americanization, as it was with Georgia. But "Americanization" of Georgia has resulted in the loss of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Does the appointment of Bryza means such "Americanization" for Azerbaijan as well? In addition, despite the widespread opinions that Bryza's appointment is a confirmation of the increased US interest in Azerbaijan there are some other opinions as well - the USA hints to the Azerbaijani leadership: "Now 'our person in your country' has more information than yourselves" and this is possibly one of the unique levers of influence on Azerbaijan by the USA. Bryza, who is aware of all the opinions in the Caucasus and as a possessor of the present positions of all the sides in the Karabakh conflict, including the NKR, may perfectly use his knowledge when the USA needs it.
With regards to "Bryza's Karabakh history", then, of course, he managed to present himself as a light-headed and pro-Azerbaijani mediator. His ambiguous statements on Karabakh, especially on the return of either five or seven districts to Azerbaijan, most probably paved the way for the appointment of Bryza as an ambassador to Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, Bryza was a mediator who more than others "threw to people" a piece of information thus bringing into the public domain various matters of the [Nagornyy] Karabakh settlement.
He would often say something and similarly deny, dismissing what had been said and saying new things, but it was part of the policy owing to which Bryza became the most quoted mediator and in essence, one of the few initiators of public discussions in the conflicting countries. In addition to all these, Bryza repeatedly said that the settlement of the Karabakh conflict should consider the international law on the self-determination of nations as well, which, of course "handicaps" his good welcome in Azerbaijan. Besides, Bryza has seen with his own eyes today's NKR with its state symbols and everyday life. This is more than Kosovo's independence which "was drawn up" and planned by American allies. Who knows, maybe Bryza, who is perfectly and personally familiar with the political authorities of the NKR and the Republic of Armenia, is destined to take up a new role - to become a bridge for establishing direct dialogue between the NKR and Azerbaijan? For Karabakh this would be a verge of breaking the rules (because Azerbaijan may interpret this in a way that Bryza being the US ambassador to Azerbaijan is establishing ties with Karabakh within the framework of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity) but, as the saying goes, "fortune favours the daring"... [ellipses as published] Karabakh now needs to be heard and it should be underlined that the NKR is expected to gain more dividends from Bryza's appointment than Azerbaijan or Armenia.
Today, the person who will replace Bryza as the US co-chair of the OSCE Minks Group is not yet known.
So far, it is known that Tina Kaidanow, head of the American mission in Kosovo (by the way, this is a momentous appointment as well), will replace him in the post of the [US] deputy assistant secretary of state. No-one knows yet whether she would become a mediator in the Karabakh talks, but Bryza noted that a US candidate for the post of the OSCE Minsk Group [co-chair] "will satisfy both sides of the conflict". Which "both" sides Bryza meant is difficult to say, in particular, in the context of his new mission on establishing direct dialogue between the NKR and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Nevertheless, Armenian and Karabakh political elites are yet refraining from making hasty comments. Some political forces have said that the appointment of Bryza is an unethical move by the Obama administration. There even were people who said that "the Armenian authorities should declare Bryza persona non grata"... [ellipses as published] But in general, the Armenian authorities are waiting for the time being: the new figure who will replace him in the OSCE [Minsk Group] is more important now than Bryza. This appointment will dot the "i" in the new US policy in the region. The policy which has stopped staking on Georgia, has been fed up with open confrontation with Russia and which wants to restore the past "mutual love" with Turkey and desires, as always, to play first fiddle in our region.
In this regard, Bryza has been quite successful in his role. But the second part is ahead of us, where Azerbaijan can "show its horns" to the USA; based on Georgian experience Armenia may suddenly "seek support" from the USA, correspondingly reacting to the Turkish-Russian alliance; Turkey may again "wag its tail" in accordance with oriental customs, especially as no-one has cancelled the day of 24 April [anniversary of killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915] on the calendar and it always comes; and Russia... [ellipses as published] - as always "one cannot understand it with reason"... [ellipses as published]
We will have to wait for better times together with possibly "Azerbaija-nized" Bryza and the new interests of regional subjects and objects, but also with the understanding that until today there has been no diplomat or a non-diplomat in Azerbaijan who would clearly understand that "the status of Nagornyy Karabakh is the most important part of the Karabakh settlement" and that the Armenian authorities will never budge on this point.
The Protocols and the Political Trio: Ter-Petrossyan, Hovannisian and Voskanian, Appo Jabarian Executive Publisher / Managing Editor USA Armenian Life Magazine, September 10, 2009
The Protocols between Armenia and Turkey announced in late August has aroused worldwide Armenian concerns regarding the twin Armenian republics' safety and security.
Several Armenian political groups have articulated their position vis-à-vis the protocols. Interestingly, the political trio of the former President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, the two former Foreign Ministers, Raffi Hovannisian, and Vardan Voskanian have jockeyed around for positions on Armenia-Turkey Protocols in order to gain political mileage.
Ter-Petrossyan's Armenian National Congress generally welcomed the initialed documents reminding the readers about his weak position as president regarding several important issues, such as the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, territorial claims against Turkey, Artsakh's right to self-determination, among others.
It's kind of odd that at this 11th hour, the former Foreign Minister, Deputy of the National Assembly, and founder of Heritage Party Raffi Hovannisian has vacated his Parliament seat as of September 7 as "a sign of disagreement with the recent developments in the foreign policy of Armenia." The parliament is the place where Mr. Hovannisian's presence could be very effective in debating and opposing the protocols, yet Mr. Hovannisian has chosen to be absent and effectively silence his voice in Armenia's National Assembly.
As for the former Foreign Minister Vardan Voskanian, he has penned a commentary catering to the current political demand both in Armenia and the Diaspora. Voskanian's Sept. 8 article, titled "Getting This Wrong Will Be Unforgivable," exhibits the stark contrast between Voskanian the former Foreign Minister and Voskanian heading the opposition Civilitas Foundation.
Voskanian should be the last person to criticize the "Road Map" protocols, because he was one of Armenia's main foreign policy architects of the time (2007) when the infamous Madrid Principles were negotiated. Furthermore, for many years he carried out secret negotiations with various Turkish officials leading to protocols of 2009.
Several readers remember very vividly the anti-Armenian statements made by Voskanian during his tenure as Foreign Minister of Armenia. Did Mr. Voskanian "conveniently" forget the indignation that he caused a few years ago in Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora, when he expressed willingness to "hand" the liberated Armenian Karvadjar in Artsakh to Azerbaijan, and even thought it's worthwhile to consider to hand Meghri, Armenia to Azerbaijan?
Before Ter-Petrossyan, Hovannisian and Voskanian claim to represent the Armenian opposition, they should make every effort to genuinely adopt the basic principles of Armenia's foreign policy issues that deserve just solution such as Genocide recognition and territorial demands from Turkey. Messrs. Ter-Petrossyan, Hovannisian and Voskanian must help Armenia's leaders mitigate the exact extent of the disastrous consequences of the Protocols.
They should be reminded that before Armenia signs the protocols with Turkey, Ankara must withdraw its unjust demands that 1) Armenia shall no longer hold any territorial claims against Turkey by recognizing the current Armenian-Turkish borders; that 2) Armenia shall give up the pursuit of Karabagh's self-determination; that 3) Armenia should return Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
Armenia shall not capitulate to this latest unjust Turkish conditionality that aims to substantially weaken Armenia-Artsakh. Armenia should remind Turkey that the forcibly occupied lands in Eastern and Western Armenia and Cilicia must be returned to their rightful owners, the Armenians in Armenia-Artsakh, and the Armenians in the Diaspora who continue to be dispersed around the world. The Armenian leadership and the people in Armenia and the Diaspora should not fall in the Turkish trap. And the genuine opposition shall exercise its rights by being loyal to the interests of the Armenian state; by fending off the political dangers that threaten Armenia's viability as a secure and prosperous sovereign state.
In Moscow And Istanbul, Armenians React To Protocols With Caution And Concern “normalization, But At What Price?” By Tatul Hakobyan September 10, 2009 Yerevan - Reaction in the Armenian diaspora to Armenia-Turkey "soccer diplomacy" and specifically to the protocols unveiled on August 31 has been mixed. It is widely accepted that Armenia and Turkey must conquer the heavy burden of the past; Turkey must end its blockade of Armenia; and the two countries must establish normal bilateral relations. But many people have raised questions about the circumstances of Turkey's stated willingness to open the border with Armenia and are asking whether Armenia and the Armenian people are paying too high a price for normal relations with Turkey.
Under the protocols, which require parliamentary ratification, Turkey agrees to open the border and establish diplomatic relations with Armenia, and Armenia agrees to a controversial historical commission and recognizes existing borders.
All three traditional political parties of the diaspora - the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Armenian Democratic Liberal (Ramgavar) Party, and the Social-Democratic Hunchakian Party - have stated that the ratification of the protocols in their current form would be unacceptable. The Armenian Assembly of America has publicly defended the protocols. According to the presidential press service, Berge Setrakian, president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, on September 4 told President Serge Sargsian, "the AGBU supports the latest Protocols on normalization of the relations between Armenia and Turkey and attaches importance to the fact that they do not contain any preconditions."
The country with the largest number of Armenians outside Armenia is Russia. Yuri Navoyan, president of the Russian-Armenian Cooperation Union, told the Armenian Reporter by telephone from Moscow that the publication of the protocols was unexpected, and the lack of notice helped create a negative impression of the agreement. Armenians in Russia are ill disposed to the agreement, according to Mr. Navoyan, because Armenia has acquiesced to at least two Turkish preconditions.
"The protocols confirm the Armenia-Turkey border de jure. Second, the protocols fail to affirm the Armenian Genocide; instead Armenia acquiesces to the creation of a historical commission, or, in other words, agrees to create a controversy about the incontrovertible fact of the Armenian Genocide."
Mr. Navoyan did not deny that the Russian-Armenian and specifically Moscow-Armenian communities are diverse, but said that people tend to agree on issues of national significance. He would not be surprised to see rallies against the protocols organized in Moscow and other heavily Armenian-populated cities in Russia.
The president of the powerful Union of Armenians in Russia, Ara Abramyan, told the Armenian Reporter that he is well disposed toward Armenia-Turkey dialogue, "but there is a but: in matters of Armenia's national security - the Genocide, Karabakh, the border - there can be no concessions," he said.
Where did Karabakh go?
"First question: is the opening of the border good or bad? We think that in an economic sense it is good. But we are opposed to the opening of the border if that is at the cost of putting an end to our demands. That means we are once and for all acquiescing to the borders that exist. We believe that justice will prevail and we will receive our lands in Western Armenia. In this matter, there is no unanimity of opinion; this is an open question for us," Mr. Abramyan said from Moscow.
"Second: the Karabakh issue. They say the Turks have taken the Karabakh issue off the agenda. I can consider that a positive, but if they have taken it off the agenda, then where did that issue go? I'd prefer to see the issue remain where we could see it. If the documents do not contain references to the issue, that does not mean that Turkey has changed its former position. There is a complete lack of clarity here too," Mr. Abramyan continued.
"Third: the Genocide issue. They say if you want to bury an issue, give it to a committee. With the creation of the sub-commission on the historical dimension, we are legalizing the postponement of the recognition of the Genocide. Until now we were yelling and screaming for countries to recognize the events as genocide. Now, even the United States will say, ‘You have formed a committee, you're studying it; what is it you want from us?'" concluded Mr. Abramyan, while emphasizing that he welcomes President Serge Sargsian's efforts to normalize Armenian-Turkish relations.
The Armenians of Istanbul - of which there are perhaps 60 to 80 thousand - are perhaps the most sensitive to the question of Armenia-Turkey relations. Armenians living in Turkey have long favored normal relations, living as they do in a country that is unfriendly toward Armenia.
Robert Haddejian is the editor of Marmara Armenian daily, published in Istanbul. He acknowledges that the August 31 protocols represent a step toward the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations.
"But contradictory statements continue to be made; they are always talking about preconditions. I am not personally optimistic that soon a bilateral Armenia-Turkey, or should I say a trilateral Turkey-Armenia-Azerbaijan agreement will be reached. All the same, I consider this progress because a good impression was made on public opinion. But we must still wait for Armenia and Turkey to truly come closer together," Mr. Haddejian said by phone from his editorial office.
"The fraternal relations of Turkey and Azerbaijan have not changed, and cannot change because there are various obstacles; public opinion places huge pressure. Every time they talk about coming closer to Armenia, they end the sentence by emphasizing that they cannot upset Azerbaijan," he said in a reference to Turkish officials. "We do not know all the details of the negotiations, but Turkey has red lines it will not cross. Armenia too has its red lines. Time will tell whether, with these red lines in place, the sides can come closer to each other. But I think we will still have to wait," he said.
A desire, but little hope
Mr. Haddejian could not say that there was a great deal of excitement in Istanbul-Armenian circles, but there is a desire to see normal relations, he said.
"All the Armenians in Turkey wish to see the border open, relations established, and permanent ties exchanged because we need to take advantage of Armenia's culture," he said.
Serkis Seropyan, the editor of the Armenian section of Istanbul's Agos weekly, responded to the Armenian Reporter's questions by email.
"Istanbul-Armenians are fed up with the absence of relations between Armenia and Turkey and are not hopeful," he wrote.
He was pessimistic and hopeless about the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border. The only positive thing he saw in a year of "soccer diplomacy" was the improved attitude of a narrow sliver of Turkey's intellectuals toward Armenians and Armenia.
Ara Koçunyan, editor of the Istanbul Armenian daily Jamanak, told RFE/RL, "The two states have reiterated their political commitments in a much stronger manner.
"We must consider too that even though the protocols do not mention Karabakh, the Karabakh process is going to have its role in practice. I say this, of course, judging from the statements of Turkey's state elite," Mr. Koçunyan is reported to have said.
(c) 2009 Armenian Reporter
Finding The Armenians Of Central America Pablo Roberto Bedrossian September 10, 2009
San Pedro Sula, Honduras - The presence of a small village on the Atlantic beaches known as Nueva Armenia (New Armenia) is a curiosity. It is located about thirty minutes driving from La Ceiba, the third largest city in Honduras. It is a garínagu community. They are a mixture of Arawak (original inhabitants of Caribbean islands) and descendents of African slaves in the British West Indies deported from St. Vincent Island in the late eighteenth century. They are known as Garifuna, which is the name of their language.
There are also other areas in Salvador that have names related to Armenia or Armenians. In El Salvador, there is a municipality in Sonsonate district called Armenia. It is located northwest of San Salvador, near the Pacific Ocean. It has its own website. A farm called Armenia Lorena should be mentioned too. It lies in San Rafael Pie de La Cuesta, San Marcos, Guatemala, and is well known for its waterfalls of La Trinidad.
It is not clear how and why these three sites received their names.
Central America is one of the least populated regions by the Armenian diaspora. According to an article from Wikipedia 30 to 40 descendants of Armenians live in Costa Rica, 20 to 50 in Guatemala, and 10 to 20 in Nicaragua. El Salvador is not mentioned, nor is Panama. The paper states that some 900 Armenians live in Honduras, but cites no sources. These numbers are questionable.
The Armenians of Honduras had a little joy in 2007. Marathon won the soccer championship of the First Division despite difficulties throughout the tournament. Manuel Keosseian led the team. This technician born in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay was hired in 2006.
I have heard of two other Armenians.
The first one was through reading the magazine that serves as an official tour guide, called Honduras Tips. It mentioned that "an American-Armenian owned a good restaurant" located near La Ceiba, Sambo Creek. I went to that place a hot afternoon in 2006. I was told that the business was sold, but the owner still lived there. Everybody knew him.
When I explained the reason for my visit, he was very kind to me. He was a man in his 60s who spoke only English. He asked my name. When I said Bedrossian, he became excited and exclaimed, "It's my family name!" He told me that he was 50 percent Armenian by blood, and did not know other compatriots in Honduras. I returned in 2007 to visit him. I was informed that he had returned to America to permanently settle there.
The second case concerns an elderly woman who had died long ago. Apparently her children still live in Honduras but have no ties with Armenians.
Maybe there is a third person. In September 2007, the newspaper La Prensa in its Social section mentioned a certain Manassarians. Despite the "s" at the end, it sounded like an Armenian name. Bureaucrats sometimes changed the surnames of immigrants when they arrived to the country. This one could have been one of the cases. I wrote to the reporter asking him about Manassarians, but I got no answer.
Many of the most powerful families in Honduras are Christian of Palestinian origin. They came to the northern coast in the early twentieth century. Not only the Armenians suffered from the Ottoman yoke and persecution; many Greeks and Arabs did too. They fled the country or were driven away. They arrived with Turkish documents. Hence, here, as in Argentina, they are referred to as Turks. However, these Palestinians came mainly from Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and none of them want to be confused with their oppressors.
Besides Honduras, many Palestinians settled in El Salvador. It is noteworthy that both the former president of that sister nation, Elías Antonio Saca, like the late opposition leader Schafik Jorge Handal, were of Palestinian origin. Palestinians also migrated en masse to Nicaragua with Turkish passports. These immigrants were integrated into the social and business life so successfully that in Nicaragua there is an expression "There are no poor Turks."
But back to the Armenians in Central America. Ramon Gurdian, one of the descendents of Armenians in Nicaragua, is a marketing manager for a major company in Guatemala. According to him, some young Armenians arrived in the late nineteenth century to Nicaragua and made history. The brothers Santos and Gurdian Castulo settled in Nicaragua, while the third, a cousin (Arthur? Virgil?) emigrated to Costa Rica.
The Ortiz Gurdian family is one of the most important economic groups in the region. In 1996, Ramiro Mayorga Ortiz and Patricia Gurdian founded the prestigious Gurdian Ortiz Foundation which is dedicated to supporting health and culture. The museum of the Foundation is in Leon, Nicaragua. There, I inquired about the origin of the Gurdians. The guide categorically denied their Armenian origin. However, Ramon Gurdian confirmed that the brothers and their cousin came to Central America from the land of the "stone crosses" and Mount Ararat.
In 2006, visiting Guatemala, in one of the largest dailies of the country I came across a very interesting interview with Samuel Berberian, dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Universidad Panamericana. This distinguished theologian, born in Argentina, expressed very profound and original thoughts. He reminded me that the Christian faith for our people is much more than a tradition: it is part of its essence. In 301 Armenia became the first country to recognize Christianity as official religion. Its history, full of martyrs, persecutions, and genocide, has demonstrated the unshakable faith of the people in Jesus Christ. Dean Berberian is often consulted by various media as an authority on ethics.
There is no organized Armenian community in Central America. Nevertheless there are people like Keosseian, Gurdian, and Berberian who make history. Ramon Gurdian estimates that there are about 150 Armenians in Costa Rica, at least 300 in Nicaragua, 15 in Guatemala, 20 or 30 in El Salvador. The latter was the residence of Edgardo Surenian, the evangelical pastor and his family that recently went back to Argentina.
Obviously, this note is not the product of a thorough research. It is rather the collection of pieces in an attempt to rebuild the history of the diaspora. Therefore, it has an open end. I hope to meet other compatriots through communication that this note may generate. This paper may help document the contribution of Armenians to the Central American society and provide a worthy testimony of our history.
Editor's note: Dr. Pablo Bedrossian, a cardiologist, is the grandson of Agop Bedrossian, a Genocide survivor who lived to the age of 101. Pablo's passion is to uncover the history of Armenians in Central America. He gathers bits and pieces of information during his travels, writes in Spanish and publishes on the internet. He was born in Argentina and now lives in Honduras. At present he is the marketing manager of a pharmaceutical company. Dr. Bedrossian may be reached at Pablo.Bedrossian@finlay.hn. The Armenian Reporter thanks the author as well as Dr. Dikran Abrahamian of keghart.com for permission to reprint this English adaptation.
(c) 2009 Armenian Reporter
“Football Diplomacy”: Armenia-Turkey Rapprochement, by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Global Research, September 7, 2009
Before the end of the year, if all goes according to plan, Armenia and Turkey, after having reestablished normal diplomatic relations, will reopen their common border. This is not only good news for the two parties, but could set a precedent for dealing with similar log-jammed situations in other parts of the world. But, if the formal steps toward mutual recognition are to lead to reconciliation, it will require more than a settlement of outstanding political and territorial disputes. Although the borders were closed following the 1988-1994 Armenian military campaign to liberate Nagorno-Karabagh, the Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan, the enmity has more remote origins and carries more highly charged emotional issues. What has poisoned relations between the two neighbors for almost a century is a deep-rooted hatred, engendered by the 1915 genocide of Armenians, an event the Armenians demand be recognized and which the Turks deny ever occurred. Unless the historical truth is uncovered and acknowledged, there can be no perspective for transforming an adversary relationship into coexistence, much less true peace.
This does not apply only to the Armenian-Turkish dossier. The most immediate comparable case is the Arab-Israeli conflict, whose roots lie in the 1948 Zionist expulsion of the Palestinians, an event the victims lament as the Nakba (Catastrophe) and the Israelis devoutly swear never happened. As I argue in an upcoming book, true reconciliation is possible, but only as the result of a fundamental shift in outlook on both sides, a virtual revolution in thinking, which paves the way for extraordinary actions.(1)
On August 31, the Swiss Federal department of Foreign Affairs, together with the Foreign Ministries of Turkey and Armenia, issued a press release announcing agreement to initiate “internal political consultations” on two protocols, mediated by Switzerland, for the establishment of diplomatic relations and the development of relations between the two republics. Following a six-week discussion process in each country, the protocols are to be signed and then ratified by the respective Parliaments.
According to the texts carried on the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s website (www.armeniaforeignministry.com), the two, “desiring to establish good neighbourly relations and to develop bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields for the benefit of their peoples,” and stressing the importance of mutual “trust and confidence” for “strengthening of peace, security and stability of the whole region,” announce their intention to open their common border and to establish normal diplomatic relations. Following ratification, the protocol is to enter into effect, and, two months later, the border should be opened. In addition they are to “conduct regular political consultations” at the foreign ministry level, “make the best possible use of existing transport, communications and energy infrastructure and networks” between the two, and take other measures to enhance cooperation in multiple fields. A timetable is provided to chart out when the agreed upon steps will be taken, and when an intergovernmental commissions with sub-commissions will commence their work.
Specifically regarding the genocide issue, the second protocol says the two will “implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations.” In the timetable, a sub-commission charged with this task is to convene a month after the first meeting of the intergovernmental commission, and “Armenian, Turkish as well as Swiss and other international experts shall take part.”
This announcement is the latest step in the “football diplomacy” launched by Turkish President Abdallah Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan when Gul attended a World Cup 2010 qualifying match in Yerevan on September 6, 2008. (2) (Sarkisian is due to reciprocate by attending the next game in Bursa on October 14 this year.) In addition to the Swiss, who have been mediating contacts for months toward this “road map” -- first declared on April 14, 2009 -- the U.S. has also been involved. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a half-hour telephone discussion with Secretary of State Clinton on the eve of the announcement. France was reportedly also supportive; Russia’s ITAR-TASS put out a release on the event, and the EU welcomed it.
But in Ankara and Yerevan, reactions were mixed. Among the Armenian opposition parties, there is fear that concessions may have been made to Turkey on the issue of Nagorno-Karabagh, i.e. that Armenian would withdraw. Turks and Azeris harbor similar fears, but in the other direction. Azerbaijan’s position is that no borders should be opened until the Nagorno-Karabagh issue has been settled. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appeared to endorse this approach in remarks made on May 14 to the Azeri parliament, that the border opening would be contingent on the “full liberation of the Azerbaijani occupied territories.” On the other hand, Sargsyan’s remarks to BBC, that Turkish recognition of the 1915 genocide was not a precondition for establishing relations, have fuelled suspicion in Armenia that concessions may be being made on this issue.
Notwithstanding such caveats, fears, and hesitation, the fact is, the football diplomacy has taken a further step forward. Whether or not it will succeed will depend on purely subjective factors of political will.
The Historical Record
There can be no doubt in my mind that what was perpetrated against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916 was genocide. Both my parents, who came from villages near Arabkir in eastern Anatolia, were orphaned. Their parents and family members were taken out in groups of men, women, and children, and shot, while others were killed in the course of deportations. First-hand reports by victims, like my parents, have contributed to compiling the oral history of the developments. Those who doubt the versions of such victims can peruse the accounts of unbiased eye-witnesses, like German pastor and humanitarian Johannes Lepsius, who issued the first documented account of the genocide in 1916, in his Report on the Situation of the Armenian People in Turkey. Lepsius, who had responded to the Hamidian massacres of Armenians in the 1890s by establishing a Deutsch-Orient Mission in Urfa, learned back in Germany of the new massacres by the Young Turks, and travelled to Constantinople in 1915, in hopes of going farther inland to help those Armenians threatened. He was prevented from doing this by Interior Minister Mehmed Talaat, and had to content himself with collecting first-hand accounts of the massacres from Armenian refugees and foreign missionaries who arrived in the capital. Lepsius’s account of the genocide was the first systematic work, but not the only one; Jakob Kuenzler, a Swiss doctor and humanitarian who went to work with Lepsius in Urfa, chronicled his experiences. Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Sublime Porte (1913-1916), documented the massacres and cited personal discussions with Young Turk leaders who declared that they were intent on eliminating the Armenians.(3)
In the course of World War I, culminating in 1915-1916, the Turks succeeded in killing up to 1.5 million Armenians, either by executions or deportations. But it was not “the Turks” who were responsible. In fact, thousands of Armenian orphans, like my parents, were saved by Turkish families who intervened at the risk of their lives. So, it was not the “Turkish people” who were responsible. It was a very specific political-military organization.
The genocide was carried out on three levels. On the ground level were the Special Operations, groups of gangsters, brigands, freed prisoners, and Kurds, who had been given orders to round up and kill Armenians. On the next level was the Executive Committee of Three, which the Young Turk leadership had put together, to map out, schedule, plan, and organize deportations. On the top level was the Committee of Union and Progress (Young Turk) leadership, made up of the triumvirate that emerged in 1913 coup: Talaat Pasha, Interior Minister, Enver Pasha, Minister of War, and Djemel Pasha, Military Governor of Constantinople and Minister of the Navy.
It was this apparatus that was politically and materially responsible for the genocide of 1915. By 1911, the CUP had abandoned earlier ideological commitments to pan-Islamism in favor of pan-Turkism, the idea that all peoples of Turkic languages belonged together in an entity which should become an entity stretching across Eurasia. This pan-Turkic ideology fuelled the military thrust against the Armenians.
After the capitulation of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Young Turk leaders conveniently managed to flee and seek refuge abroad. Thus, in 1919, when, under international pressure, a trial was opened in Turkey to try the former CUP leaders for organizing the massacre and destruction of the Armenians, the leading defendants had found refuge abroad. They were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. But, since they had managed to escape, they could not be executed; instead, under an informal agreement among the Great Powers (England and Russia), information about the whereabouts of the Young Turk fugitives was made available to Armenian terrorists, who proceeded to gun them down one by one. Those who survived this round of executions were inculpated later for having plotted against the founder of the Turkish Republic, Ataturk, and were duly executed. Thus, all the material perpetrators and leading witnesses of the genocide were allowed to flee and/or were killed. Whatever they knew about the influence of foreign powers in the genocide went with them to the grave.
Although the 1919 trials attest to the fact that specific Young Turk leaders were responsible – and not “the Turks”--, the role of outside players was not dealt with there. Yet, the tragedy cannot be viewed as a “Turkish” phenomenon. It was, after all, the British who nurtured the Young Turks and their Masonic and Zionists colleagues in Saloniki prior to the 1908 seizure of power; it was the British who supported the Young Turks’ early pan-Islamist and pan-Turkic delusions, as a battering ram against the Russian empire. Most important, it was Britain which manipulated events leading into World War I, and, quickly abandoning the pan-Islamic/Turkic thrust, mounted an Arab rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, intent on breaking it up and reorganizing it into puppet states, according to the 1916 Sykes-Picot treaty with imperial co-partner France.
Britain’s strategic enemy was Germany, which had developed far-reaching economic and military cooperation with the Ottoman Empire. Among the joint economic projects of strategic import was the ambitious Berlin-Baghdad railway, which London viewed as a threat to its position in the region. More fundamentally, Britain sought to prevent any continental partnership between economic powerhouse Germany and Russia. War against Germany and its Ottoman ally was the means to this end.
The Young Turks seized upon the outbreak of war to implement their “final solution” to the Armenian question, arguing that the Armenians were a “fifth column” of the Russians and had to be deported. Thus, the genocide was an integral part of the tragedy known as World War I, and those ultimately responsible were the Great Powers who unleashed the conflict. The Germans knew that the “fifth column” story was a lie, but they were allied with the Young Turks. That the Russians were not passionate about safeguarding Armenian national interests became clear in the aftermath of the war, when the Soviet Union quietly swallowed up the short-lived Armenian republic.
Facing the Truth
If the rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey is to yield anything more than formal protocols, this historical record has to be dealt with. A fitting precedent for such a process can be found in the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended decades of religious conflict in Europe. The two extraordinary concepts on which that peace agreement rested were that, whatever atrocities had occurred on either side, they must be forgiven and forgotten; and that, to secure peace, each side must act in the interest and for the benefit of the other.
Translating this into the current context means that the Turkish side must concede that the genocide occurred; it is only after a historical fact has been acknowledged that the atrocities and their perpetrators can be forgiven, and forgotten. In this process it is crucial that the identity of those materially responsible be nailed down. Rejecting any and every misplaced notion of “collective guilt,” it must be underlined that it was a clearly identifiable group of political actors (the 1915 Young Turk leadership) and their created instruments (the Executive Committee of Three and the Special Operations) who were responsible. At the same time, one has to identify the higher levels of responsibility, to name the names of the geopolitical puppet masters in the Great Powers who were pulling the strings of the actors moving about on the stage they had set up. Such action is recommended not only to get the historical record straight, but also to inoculate the regional players against being used again as pawns in a geopolitical game.
Geostrategic Realities Today
Here it is useful to reflect on why the Turkish government has made its advances to Armenia. Although feelers had been put out earlier towards renewed contact between Ankara and Yerevan, the turning point came in the wake of the 2008 Georgian attack on South Ossetia and the prompt Russian military response. That brief war, whose outcome should have come as no surprise to anyone, redefined regional relations; Georgia’s role as a stable partner and transit land for oil and other commodities suddenly acquired a giant question mark, and adjacent Armenia emerged as a possible alternative route. It was then that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced his courageous initiative for a Caucasian Stability and Cooperation Platform, which would include Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. He stated bluntly that it was a question of “prevent[ing] regional tension from turning into global turmoil.”
Now, as the new protocols between Ankara and Yerevan underline, the two are taking new steps in the interest of the same key concepts, “regional security” and “stability.” Anyone skeptical of Turkey’s concerns in this respect should consult a map. Turkey borders on Armenia and also on Georgia, whose government commemorated the first anniversary of the war with Russia with anything but reconciliatory tones. On the contrary, both sides hinted at the possibility of renewed strife. Then, at the beginning of September, it became known that Georgia had held several Turkish freight ships which wanted to unload in ports of Abkhazia, the autonomous republic which declared independence last year, recognized by Russia.
Turkey also shares a border with Syria and Iraq, two countries which have very recently squared off against each other after the Baghdad government accused Damascus of having harbored terrorists responsible for deadly attacks in August. The two governments broke off diplomatic relations, and the Turks quickly moved to mediate. Then there is the border to Iran, a country which, since the June presidential elections, has been undergoing internal political turmoil not seen since the 1979 revolution. Across the Black Sea, Turkey has its border to Russia. So the country is not exactly an island in a sea of tranquility.
The primary aim of the Turkish government in this setting is precisely to take steps, whatever they may be, to pursue security and stability for the region.
The Subjective Factor
It will not be easy for the Armenian and Turkish governments to put a century-old conflict to rest. On the Turkish side, the ideological baggage is weighty, and the issue has come to be a litmus test of national identity. The Turkish Penal Code has a clause, article 301, which makes it illegal to say that there was genocide against the Armenians in 1915. Numerous Turkish intellectuals and human rights activists have challenged this clause, many paid with prison sentences, and others with death. Hrant Dink, and Armenian editor of the bilingual Agos, spoke out about the genocide in the context of his plea for reconciliation. He was gunned down by an extremist on January 19, 2007. In a development which no one could have or did forecast, Hrant Dink’s funeral turned into a mass phenomenon, and an outpouring of grief and solidarity on the part of hundreds of thousands of Turkish citizens, who carried hand signs saying “We are all Hrant,” “We are all Armenians.” This gives a sense of how polarized the situation is.
That said, the issue continues to create tension and polemics. In Germany, a case has arisen regarding a text book for school children which the Brandenburg state school authorities had authorized. In the text, several cases of genocide in the 20th century are presented: the genocide of Armenians in 1915, the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, state crimes of violence by Stalin’s USSR, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and so forth. The Turkish diplomatic community in Germany immediately reacted, and demanded the text be withdrawn. A similar case had emerged 3 years earlier, and the Turkish community had won.(4)
A similar outbreak of hysteria occurred recently in Israel, where authorities contested the use of a school-text for Palestinian children, which reported on the “Nakba” (catastrophe), the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians from their land.
Psychoanalysts consider such phenomena as clinical expressions of denial, which arise from an existential fear. The reason why a modern-day Turk or Israeli finds it difficult to acknowledge the historical record has direct bearing on personal and national identity. If an Israeli says yes, we drove the Palestinians out, killing many and stealing their land, then the right to existence of the Israeli state is put in question, and the same holds for Turks who deny the genocide, even though the modern Turkish republic was not rooted in that event.
How to break through this psychological bind?
In my book, I have tried to suggest an approach. Its title, Through the Wall of Fire, is taken from an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy, actually its turning point. At the end of Purgatory, the pilgrim Dante is confronted with a Wall of Fire which he is told he must pass through in order to enter Paradise. Paralyzed by fear and the vivid memories of those he had seen in Hell tormented by fire, he is unable to move. It is only when his guide Virgil tells him that his beloved Beatrice is on the other side of the Wall of Fire that he is able to act. Abandoning his obsession with himself to shift his focus to the Other, and willfully casting aside all irrational emotions that had governed him earlier--wrath, hatred, fear, and desire for revenge,-- Dante succeeds in entering the flames and crossing into a new, morally superior realm. There in Paradise he joins with political leaders, intellectuals, religious leaders, and others to build a society founded on justice, a reflection of the City of God.
The episode is a powerful metaphor for the challenge posed to the leaders of Armenia and Turkey today: can they, through a determined act of personal and political will, cast off the heritage of a century of enmity and mistrust, and, dealing rationally with the historical past, enter a new universe of political discourse?
1. Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Through the Wall of Fire – Armenia – Iraq – Palestine – From Wrath to Reconciliation, R.G. Fischer, Frankfurt, 2009.
2. Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation is Possible–and Necessary! www.globalresearch.ca, September 5, 2008.
3. Jakob Kuenzler, In the Land of Blood and Tears: Experiences in Mesopotamia During the World War (1914-1918), Armenian Cultural Foundation, Arlington, Massachusetts, 2007. Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1918.
4.There is also the case of the Lepsius house in Potsdam. It has only been after years of opposition by the Turkish Community in Germany that the Lepsius society has just recently received the go-ahead from the German government to establish a research center, meeting place, and memorial in the home of the humanitarian Johannes Lepsius.
The author can be reached at mirak.weissbach at googlemail.com
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Ghosts Of The Turkish Season By Ara Toranian 7 September 2009, by Ara / armenews
Lu in the world dated Sunday 6 and Monday, September 7. "After all, who remembers the massacre of the Armenians?", Hitler launched the Commanders of the German Army August 22, 1939, days before the invasion of Poland. That terrible question could be asked to Culturesfrance, the operator delegate ministries of foreign affairs and culture responsible for the Turkish season in France (July 2009-March 2010).
Indeed, one searches in vain for the poster of this event, which boasts more than 400 events and debates on Turkey, the slightest allusion to the first genocide of the twentieth century. This silence is too systematic to avoid being suspected of convenience to the worst abominations of the Turkish state. It questioned more than the crime which has built modern Turkey is the subject of an official denial cons which reacted almost thirty countries around the world (including France in 2001) recognizing the genocide of Armenians.
The blackout also contrasts with the beginning of awareness that is taking place in this country in favor of a petition by four Turkish intellectuals who, while avoiding the word genocide (including the employment is likely to lead to Article 301 of Criminal Code), requesting "forgiveness" to the Armenians. So why the silence against the current, while also the initiators of this petition are involved on other issues in the various debates that dot the Turkish season?
Does this mean that this part Culturesfrance instrumentalises "presentable and exportable" the intelligentsia of the country to offer the French public image of modern Turkey and unblemished? But alongside that it endorsed the "Armenian taboo" maintained as an abscess by the Turkish state nationalist and reactionary? An approach that goes against the sense of history, at a time when Turkish leaders, taking into account the international pressure and the promise (threat) of Barack Obama to be recognized in turn genocide by the United States come to accept to establish relations with Armenia, in an attempt to standardization, "Committee to historical dimension.
Thus, the organized amnesia of the season, which goes to erase characteristics Armenian of Turkey, mistreated by a culture that suffers discrimination already there. This attitude hardly honors the values of the country of Descartes and human rights.
But the claimed purpose of this season, which comes on the heels of the Year of Armenia (July 2006-2007), as a clumsy attempt to compensate, remains far from such considerations. This season does she not primarily to restore the image of Turkey darkened by genocide, denial, oppression of its minorities, the bombing against the Kurds, the occupation of Cyprus and a merciless blockade on Armenia? A Turkey that the current leaders are trying somehow to free ninety years kémalo-fascism to substitute a "moderate and tolerant Islam" which attempts are not helped by the weakness of the sins against Culturesfrance Turkish nationalism.
In his paper presentation ( "The long march to the West"), the website of the season blanking still Turkish minority Christian corpses littering the "long march". The talk would show that the State, which aims to integrate the EU, started by killing that was more European in him, in cultural, societal and religious. Better to keep quiet so that aspect of things that fit well with the plates used by Ankara to criticize in the name of diversity, "Christian club" that would be Europe and to embody, hand on heart, the right to difference! A roof.
E. JEAN DENIS:
The excellent forum for Mr. Toranian tranche honesty lies with the speech ambient mulitcultureux.
The above reactions are indeed staggering.
The Europe is like it or name synonymous with Christendom.
Turkey 1900: 40% Christian
Turkey 2009: 0.2% Christian and 99% of Muslims ...
Pseudo secularism in Turkey there are religions more equal than others.
Turkey is a Muslim club, which has nothing to do in Europe.
JEAN DENIS E. 08.09.09
Hello, The forum excellent Mr. Toranian tranche honesty lies with the discourse surrounding mulitcultureux. The above reactions are indeed staggering. Europe is like it or name synonymous with Christianity. Turkey 1900: 40 % Christians in Turkey in 2009: 0.2% Christian and 99% of Muslims ... In the pseudo secular Turkey there are religions more equal than others. Turkey is a Muslim club, which has nothing to do in Europe.
Appalled by the majority of reactions, which range from personal attacks and off subject completely. The fact, gross and indisputable is that there is no allusion to the genocide of Armenians in the program CulturesFrance point! Why drown the fish? And in the country of human rights, it did work. This is no time to silencing, but to dialogue. For supporters of silence has never solved anything, especially between Turks and Armenians (see past century).
Maxime G. 07.09.09
"A critical look back on and ASALA, as did the Armenian community in Australia In Australia, it is mainly CJGA who struck gold the CJGA was the terrorist wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (FRA ), and there is no question, alas, for this party to take a critical look at one of its terrorist acts. The party Hinchak, strong in Australia, had supported ASALA. It always regret not to my knowledge.
An anthology of perversion of the "duty of memory". The author does not hide that for him, the Armenian claim contradicts the very existence of Turkey. Otherwise, why call kémalo-fascist system set up by one of the great politicians of the twentieth century. Remember that time when Mustafa Kemal founded modern Turkey, Anatolia was divided by the victors: the west to Greece, south Italy and the weapon in question had already landed.
Go to another track for Mr. Toranian whose magazine has hardly been kind to the CRDA when he bravely tried to build bridges of dialogue with the Turks (and not Turkey): a critical look back and the ASALA, as did the Armenian community in Australia. In the famous words of Hitler, and forced incipit often misused to read the conference proceedings that the CDCA (little suspect of being weak on the issue) devoted to génocde 2000
Am inclined to agree with Didier L. It seemed that the Season - imperfect because the concept is dated - also gave a speech to Armenian community in Turkey with that NAM has not always been correct (read what was written in his time on Hrant Dink) . It would be nice that NAM is the question of how useful soft hand craftsmen debate on the issue of genocide in Turkey. To read about enlightening dialogue between Marian and Insel.
Didier L 06.09.09
Toranian and his newspaper are the brothers of Armenian Kemalist follower of ethnic nationalism and a tough talking, inherited from the positivism of the early twentieth. Peace without advance those people who are already marginalized for a long time, except in France where we did not understand the film.
This Sunday, the supplement of the Turkish daily Hurriyet devotes his "A" and a full page to open in Paris (Arnouville-les-Gonesse) School Armenian Hrant Dink. Its director Dr Kevork Apkaryan concludes his interview by saying: "We listen to Turkish music and we practice conversation in Turkish. Establish dialogue is important." Another way, more constructive - not least addressing Armenian-Season Turkey in France.
Marie-Michele Swift 06.09.09
For more information: http://zozodalmas.blog.lemonde.fr/2009/05/05/la-plume-la-balance-et-le-glaive/ See also my article on non-words in Armenian literature Turkish. To appear shortly in the journal Siècle 21 No. 15 (Special Turkey) ...
Denis L. 05.09.09
Read, not seen any "hate". In Turkey, saw no real "secularism", a pretext for state control over sermons in mosques (not very "separation of church / state", that) and suppression of all Christian institutions (impossible to construct, rehabilitate .. .) And in the end, the Islamists to power more and more women wearing headscarves. Failure on any line. The Turkish army, "incarnation" of secularism, has polluted every church of Cyprus in its possession, but no mosque.
Mr Toranian been intense lobbying (Libération, Le Monde) and read it might be asked in 2009 what side is now hate. One can also question the argument that the massacre of Christians by that sign that Turkey has "turned its back on Europe". Secularism established by Kemalism, is it not as a European value?
Stephanie H. 05.09.09
Excellent analysis. When will the working memory of the turkey visa-vis the genocide of Christians in 1915??
Rudolph C. 05.09.09
Very good idea Mr. Toranian. At a time when Turkey and Armenia are closer than ever to a historic reconciliation, you want to steer Ankara. Speaking of Armenian Genocide in a frontal Turkey is anything but a good idea. The vast majority of Turks are good faith when they deny the genocide because he does not know. We need to work on pedagogy and not Klitschko truths of a foreign country, which would be particularly productive cons.
Turkish Writer Addresses Letter To Armenian President, 09/10/2009
The renowned Turkish writer Kemal Yalçın addressed a letter to Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. In his letter the Turkish writer requests that Sargis Atspanyan, who was arrested on a charge of false denunciation, be released.
Below is the text of the letter:
“Dear Serzh Sargsyan,
I am writing this letter as a Turkish writer and Armenians’ friend, who feels all the pain of the Disaster (Armenian Genocide) as his own pain. I welcome your brave steps toward the improvement of the Armenian-Turkish relations, but my letter has a different aim. I am writing this letter to put an end to the torture of my dear Armenian brother Sargis Atspanyan and his father, who is suffering from cancer. I have known Sargis Atspanyan since he lived in Turkey. They were friends with beloved Hrant Dink, my schoolmate. I got acquainted with his parents in Germany and described their sufferings in my book ‘Sarı Gelin’ (Yellow Bride). But you know Sargis even better. I Turkey he struggled for freedom, equality and justice. He was arrested along with thousands of Turks after the military coup on September 12, 1980. The participants in the coup were torturing him, saying: &‘The only Armenian savior of Turkey has remained?’ After being released, he had to leave Turkey. He found political asylums in France and Germany, where he continued struggling for freedom, equality, democracy, human rights, peace and justice. And, when Armenia was in hard times, he left a comfortable life in France and hurried to help Armenia and Karabakh. Dear Serzh Sargsyan, you and Sargis were companions-in-arms during the Karabakh war. In the hardest times you, as a true friend, hosted him. A year and half, my brother Sargis came to Köln to see his parents. My book ‘Anadolu’nun Evlatları’ (Children of Anatolia) was published, and he participated in the presentation. Sargis was very happy and said: ‘I wish the Armenian people were witnessing this event!’ Later I saw Sargis to Düsseldorf airport. I told him: ‘Call as soon as you come home.’ He said he would call as soon as he arrived. And he was gone… Days passed, but I did not hear from him. In a fortnight I knew that Sargis was arrested immediately after returning home. I was upset. A month, two… for a whole year I had been waiting for news about his release. You declared an amnesty. I was happy and, full of hope, was waiting. All the arrestees except for Sargis were released…
Dear Armenian brother Serzh Sargsyan! You are entitled to amnesty, and I ask you to release Sargis Atspanyan.
Your pains are my pains. Your joy is my joy. I assure you and the Armenian people of my love and respect.”
News from Armenia
After All It’s a Gate, Isn’t It Dear…
In that year…
Mustafa Kemal purchased the East Railway which was possessed by foreigners, issued the Act of Ziraat Bank, issued the Act of Denizbank, placed the Nazilli printed cotton cloth factory into service which belonged to Sumerbank which was the backbone of development, set up the Economics Faculty of Istanbul University, laid the foundations of the Karabuk Iron and Steel Factory, wrote “the geometry book” having formed the Turkish terms for “angle, diameter, triangle, plus, minus” that we use today, established the General Directorate of Meteorology, opened a bridge in Tunceli Pertek together with his daughter Sabiha Gökçen who is the first war pilot, and then, opened the first picture gallery of Turkey in Dolmabahce, Istanbul, issued an act for the establishment of School of Medicine in Ankara University and introduced the independence of Hatay to the League of Nations… At that time he was ill… And, he went to Trabzon and made that historical statement: “I offer all of my possessions to the nation as present.”
Two distinguished units consisting of 15 officers and 50 privates, one of which came from Erzurum met in Serdarbulak plateau. It was freezing cold… They started the “historic” climb going through Ahora Land Slide with its flat wall glaciers which made one shudder even when one saw it. Why “historic”? For no Turks climbed it… For the first time 108 years before a German professor Friedrich von Parrot climbed it, then a Russian climbed it, a British climbed it, a British climbed it but no Turks climbed it… They started climbing… As I mentioned before, 15 officers under the command of an artillery staff Major… Among the officers was also a poet who was an infantry lieutenant… Were 15 officers too many for 50 privates? No… For, they were carrying a bust of Ataturk as ingratitude of the great leader… It was heavy of course… It was carried in the rucksack of the officers by turns… They climbed it and placed it in the peak of the mountain.
They placed a flag next to it.
Its sides always belonged to us…
On that day its peak came into our possession as well.
It is Agrı Mountain.
Not Ararat, Agrı…
The peak of Anatolia.
Artillery staff major…
Later, he became the president.
When it comes to the lieutenant the poet…
He sat down there, took a look at the country from the roof of the country, took out his pen and paper, the artillery staff major dictated and he wrote down… This historic sentence was written in the historic document buried in ice in the peak of Agrı after being put in a metal bottle. “We offer the bust of the greatest man of Turkey as present to the highest mountain of Turkey!”
That lieutenant was Daglarca.
A present in return for a present…
Spirit, consciousness, loyalty, patriotism.
Source: Yılmaz Ozdil – Hürriyet Newspaper – 03.09.2009 Genocidereality.com
Genocide Distortion from the Armenian Agency
Armenian press claimed that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk defined the Armenian genocide claims in a telegram which he had written to the US Admiral Bristol as “propaganda” and called on the US to illuminate the world public opinion on this issue.
The news report of the Armenian News Agency Novosti Armenii introduced the letter written by Mustafa Kemal regarding the clashes during the War of Liberation to Admiral Bristol as if the letter was related with the events of 1915 and stated that “Our Agency took hold of a very special document. Our Agency decided to publish the telegram sent by Mustafa Kemal to the US Naval Forces Admiral Bristol on 7 March 1920. Through this document the Turkish leader denies the claims “stated to be the Armenian genocide” and claims that all of them are speculation aimed at splitting the Armenian community from Turkey. The telegram published by the Agency under the title of “Ataturk’s letter to Admiral Bristol on the Armenian genocide” states that “Those who pursue their own interests fabricated the lie that 20 thousand Armenians were killed in Anatolia. We thought that Allies and the American Administration would not believe in those lies, for their secret services are operating in the entire Anatolia. Everybody knows that in the clashes which occurred in Maras and Urfa the Turks, the French and the Armenians who fought in their ranks suffered losses. However, this is not a massacre; this is natural outcome of the resistance displayed by the local people against the Armenian soldiers’ attack on Muslims. If the Allies treated the people equally, appointed the Armenians to some positions and armed them, no clashes would occur. We call on the Allied armies and the US administration to illuminate the world public opinion on the fact regarding the propaganda of Armenian massacre and to clear the name of the Turkish people from the vile and disgusting accusations.” (*)
It is necessary to provide, or rather, to hit with a brief chronology against the heads of Armenians who are keen to distort the history and facts so as to create a possibility for them to understand or even feel ashamed… Of course if any remnants of intelligence or consciousness exist..
Where was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1915?
20 January 1915: He was appointed as the Commander of the Nineteenth Division to be established in Tekirdag.
02 February 1915: He arrived in Tekirdag and began the work of establishing the division.
18-25 April 1915: The Nineteenth Division under the command of Atatürk was sent to Bigaly' for the general defense of the Fifth Army. The British started the landing operation in the locations of Seddulbahy'r and Ary'burnu in Canakkale. However, they were forced to withdraw due to the assault of the Nineteenth Division forces under the command of Atatürk having arrived form Bigaly'. After the pressing of the Dardanelles with a great fleet by the British and the French, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk poured them into the sea and won the Dardanelles Victory. The Turkish units under the command of Mustafa Kemal stopped the assaults of the British and Anzacs which made a landing in Ary'burnu.
08 August 1915: He was appointed as the Commander of Suvla with the order of General Von Sanders.
10 August 1915: The forces under the command of Atatürk fought against the British in Conkbayy'ry'.
10 December 1915: He resigned from the position of the commander of Suvla.
A contribution from us to the archive of documents (!) which is the tremendous discovery by the Armenian News Agency …
From the book entitled “The Armenian Problem from Ataturk – with Documents” by Dr. Ismet Gorgulu;
“(…) Armenian massacre is not taking place anywhere. As for the event of Maras, no Armenians who attacked our nation together with the French soldiers were massacred there, on the contrary, Armenians were protected and treated with benevolence by the Muslims after the French soldiers left them and withdrew.
(…) I state the fact that our nation is not aggressive against any foreign elements without any reason anywhere.
On behalf of the Delegation of Representatives
Mustafa Kemal 22 February 1920”
“It was reportedly established that many Turks were shut in a church in Kozan, the district of Feke was encircled by 80 Armenians. Also unless reinforcements arrive soon, an awful end is awaiting Turks, therefore, general measures have to be taken urgently…
… Unarmed Armenians should not be attacked in any way.
Mustafa Kemal 02 March 1920”
Source: (*) Cumhuriyet Newspaper – 29.08.2009 GenocideReality.com
Blow to the Armenian Lobby in the USA
The decision taken by a federal court of appeal in the USA last week will bring about permanent consequences for the legal perspective of the Armenian issue. As the internal agenda is extremely busy, this issue is important even though it has not drawn the attention of our public opinion.
First of all, the decision is a serious blow dealt to the Armenian lobby in the USA which seems to be an obstacle to the reconciliation with Armenia. It can be stated that this is the second serious blow for the lobby after the fact that the President Obama did not use the word “genocide” on 24 April.
For, the decision is blocking the way of the Armenians who filed lawsuit against the insurance companies which they accused of “not fulfilling the conditions of the life insurance which they sold to their families who were subject to genocide.”
What is more important it is placing the concept of “Armenian genocide” within a legal framework.
As a result of the lawsuit which was filed a few years before the insurance company called New York Life paid Armenians 20 million dollars. In another case AXA company which has also branches in Turkey paid 17 million dollars. There are other similar cases awaiting trial.
Those cases were important for Turkey in that the concept of “Armenian genocide” was going into the US laws and regulations. However, the federal court repealed the law of the state of California which allowed for such cases on the grounds of “being in contravention of the constitution.”
According to the court, the law of California is “a violation against the Administration’s right to execute foreign policy which is under the guarantee of constitution.” For, the US Administration does not accept “the Armenian genocide” in legal sense. Yet the law of California is making an impact of the management of foreign policy by employing this term in a legal framework.
The other courts of the US have to abide by this decision as it came from the federal court. To sum up, unless the US President utters “Armenian genocide” either by his own free will or through the pressure of Congress, those words will not be valid legally.
To put it more clearly, as long as the relations with Turkey remains to be strategically important, the first foreign policy responsibility of the US administrations will be to maintain those relations. The attempts which will harm this through law will bring no results, in accordance with this decision. At present, the lawyers of the Armenian lobby are searching ways to cancel the decision of the federal court. Yet they have a problem. For, the federal court has a general approach on this issue. In other words, it is not related with claims of the so-called Armenian genocide.
(…) The prominent figures of the Armenian lobby, as can be expected, are very furious about this development. The lawyer Brian S. Kabateck representing Armenians (probably it comes from the Turkish “Kabatek”) voiced the real concern underlying this anger as follows:
“The logical consequence of this decision is the fact that 40 states which have accepted the Armenian genocide have to give up this.” We will see whether or not the Armenian lobby and their supporters in the US Congress can cancel the decision of the federal court. However, if we take into consideration what Neil M. Soltman, the lawyer of one of the insurance companies which was sued against states, “the federal court has concluded this issue with its final decision.”
Source: Semih Idiz – Milliyet Newspaper – 24.08.2009, GenocideReality.com
The Dilemmas of the Armenian History Writing
Some circles in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora exaggerated the job of history dictation so much that they even interfered the history lessons and published books in other countries.
Now, too, they are trying to adapt the Armenian history courses in the US universities to their hallucinations. They are calling the ones who do not interpret it as they do, as “False Armenological School”.
After a high level official of the Armenian National Sciences Academy in Yerevan criticized the studies of the Armenian chair, a group of Armenian college students started “on line” petition campaign with the claim of Armenian history was distorted and misinstructed in the Armenian studies program that were carried out under various universities in the US.
As a justification of the petition used in the campaign it was claimed that Turkey’s propaganda to distort the Armenian history continued and Armenian chair in US universities were also instruments of this Turkey’s effort. Over one million Armenian living in the US couldn’t perceive the fact that those chairs were busy with breaking up the Armenian national identity.
The Armenian student group who gave the start to the campaign points out that; the book called “The Armenian People: From Ancient to Modern Times” which was complied with Prof. Dr. Richard Hovannisian’s edition and published into two volumes and which is read as a text book in the Armenian Studies Chair, is the manifestation of the destructive agenda carried by “False Armenological School” and is intending to cause dissention between Armenia homeland and the Armenian Diaspora.
The group is making a call for academic council in the US to take a decision in the direction of the above mentioned book not to be read and Armenian National Science Academy to pass primarily the approval of the books to be read in Armenian chair.
In response to the campaign, on 13 August an announcement was published by “Society for Armenian Studies” founded by Prof. Havannisian based in Fresno-California and “International Association for Armenian Studies-(AIEA)” based in Geneva.
In the statement, research freedom against totalitarian censorship is emphasized and “Armenian Progressive Student’s Union” and “Armenian Nationalist Union” have been criticized severely. In this context, such a monolithic history understanding, that dragged to disaster not only Armenian studies but also Armenian Republic and Armenians, to be dictated only by one authority is objected, but research based history and retrospective principle with its complex structure and all its undiscovered aspects are defended.
While neutrality, objectivity, how much being scientific and how far away from monolithic understanding of history of Hovannisian himself and the people around him are still questioning in academic circles, criticism of the group which is canalized by Armenia against the situation is an ironic contrast.
It is understood that some groups in the Diaspora directed by Armenia are even more strict and radical than the Diaspora’s organizations known as ingrained. The examples of these activities are not only found in the US but in other countries also.
Armenian Association in Burg Les Valence in France protested “France Loisirs” publishing house, which published a new edition of Michel Fourre’s 8 volumes “Dictionnaire encyclopedique de l’histoire du monde” (World History Encyclopedic Dictionary), for the first volume of the dictionary that does not reflect the Armenian’s claim satisfying the Diaspora, does not use the word “genocide”, does mention the alliance of the Armenian people with the Russian czars arouse suspicion, and that only one page is left for Armenia but 15 pages for Turkey, a great photo of Enver Paşa is given in a page but no crimes attributed to him is mentioned.
Once you begin interpreting the history as you make it up, it never ends. Although neutral scientific research results say that Armenians are not indigenous people of Anatolia; there are no blood and cultural ties with Urartus or with other indigenous people; but they came to Anatolia from the West, Armenians have already persuaded themselves that they had once landed to the Mount Agrı from the ship of prophet Moses and they were the first believers of the Christianity spreading it from Middle east to West to the Roman Empire.
In this way Armenians can soon identify themselves even with the mythological gods, mythical creatures and monsters. It is useful that scientific environment should get ready to these hallucinations.
Armenia Is Struggling With The “Histriyoni” Virus!
On August 13, 2009, Armenian news agency Pan Armenian launched a report that might even surpass Scottish jokes.
According to the report, “in the press conference held in Yerevan on August 12, 2009, Armenian political scientist Sergey Shakaryants commented on the reports that Matthew Bryza, the American Cochairman of the OSCE MINSK Group, would hand over his post to Tina Kaidanow.”
Everything seems normal up to this point, but when one reads further… “The appointment of Tina Kaidanow, the former US Ambassador to Kosovo, to this position (the Cochairman of the OSCE MINSK Group) means that things will go wrong since Serbs have been subjected to genocide because of Kaidanow’s actions. I fear that the Armenian people may face the same fate,” said “political scientist” Shakaryants.
The decryption of this seemingly complicated and far from diplomatic comment is as follows:
“Since Muslims have massacred Serbs during the post of Tina Kaidanow as Ambassador in Kosovo… The same Tina is now coming to butcher Armenians or she will condone the massacres…”
Can he respond by saying that “it has been misunderstood” should one object? No, he cannot because the ability of an Armenian politician to make such a comment under these circumstances depends on that the following fact should not be denied: “Armenian society and politics are unfortunately controlled by mistaken and sick states of mind.”
It would be useful to analyze the said sick state of mind in the personality of Shakaryants.
Question: What is the claim?
Answer: “Ambassador Tina was there (Kosovo) at that time and she allowed Muslims to massacre Serbs. This will lead the way to our burial soon!”
Question: What is the source of this state of mind?
Answer: This is the operation of a typical “projection” mechanism. In psychology it is simply defined as “Denial & Projection”.
These two concepts, although generally seem contradictory, are cited simultaneously and together.
Namely, “denial” is actually a deed which is/has been carried out by the person who projects. The denier “projects” so as to get rid of the guilt psychology. In simpler terms, he/she “puts the blame on someone else”.
It is possible to reinforce this thesis with a few simple examples so as to be more illustrative:
Example 1- We always have gossipers around and we know of them. However, one overlooks this: The said gossiper criticizes his/her own circle for gossiping all the time. Ethically speaking, “being a social community” we cannot say that gossiping is a positive gain from a humanitarian viewpoint, putting aside its essence as a personal satisfaction. However, knowing that his/her deeds are not ethical, the said person constantly criticizes his/her environment unconsciously/involuntarily or as customary and accuses them of “gossiping”! Here is an example for denial and projection…
Example 2- Under the influence of the aforementioned example and these theses, one can also refer to another experienced fact… Based on this example, we may introduce this thesis:
“A community that commits genocide or claims to have been subjected to genocide may find itself in a loop that urges them to accept it as a fact in due process.”
In this case, this thesis develops the following outcome: The ones who acted by the ranks of the Russian troops which committed a huge premeditated massacre in Eastern Anatolia, blocked the supply routes, involved in slaughters by initiating political and racial uprisings in almost every region of the Ottoman Empire have committed genocide. Then, so as to cover it and to make use of the huge profit of this lie that in time has turned into a collective hysteria by transferring the gossip from generation to generation, they have preferred to use the technique of “denial and projection”.
Question: Does not this situation clearly summarize the sickened mindset of the Armenian society or the Armenian diaspora?
Answer: Exactly!... The Armenian society has used and is using genocide, which is a crime against humanity, as they have committed in Azerbaijan in our times and as committed by their ancestors in Anatolia in 1900s, so as to build “the communal memory of Armenians” upon it.
Nevertheless, the main impasse of the Armenian society stems from the fact that not only their politicians and intellectuals but also the leaders of the “genocide sector” which provides the claims that have huge strategic roots with funds, “deny” that they need psychological treatment.
Although the memory of the innocent that have been buried in mass graves by Serbian butchers for years is still fresh in the minds of the entire world and we have become accustomed to see the Serbian leaders standing trial in courts of war crimes, one can see a kind of mental disorder in this illogical and delusive projection made by Sergey Shakaryants who claims that “Muslims have massacred the Serbs and now it is the Armenians’ turn”.
Question: What is the influence of the function of denial and projection foremost to the Armenian society and to the future of humanity?
Answer: For the Armenian society it is difficult to be purified from the “hysteria” which has been strived to be taught all these years and as it is seen , has become a pretty sorrowful matter of “self ego”.
First of all, one needs to “wish to be purified” from the projection of lies and the denial of the truth; in other words, one needs to accept treatment.
However the Armenian activists have not done what they primarily should have done and once again used “the denial and projection” method to try “to stick” this on Turkish people. For this purpose, they have tried to embed the “slogan” aiming at pairing “Turkey and Denial” or “Turkish Denial” to the memories almost in every discourse, every website or in an ordinary diaspora poster .
Turkey, on the contrary, has showed the greatest modesty at this point in order the Armenian society and the forthcoming generations not to be enslaved by the political hysteria.
Turkey called on Armenia and suggested the establishment of a “Joint History Commission” that would research the issues in their own dimension, which is historical facts, asserting that Turkey was ready for every outcome.
The answer from Armenia in a way confirmed this psychological disorder, fostered by paranoia and a kind of psychopathic hysteria:
“History doesn’t need discussion in any way”
Influenced by this racist fanatic hysteria, Armenian society is forced not to discuss an event, which according to them, has absolutely taken place in history… Is not this a great contradiction?
This well-placed psychological disorder, in fact, decodes the contradictions arising from the fear of facing up to the reality one after another. The help they hope to receive is used for increasing the current dilemma. These sources are so-called scientists who are “archetypes” having their origins in Turkey.
Question: What is an archetype?
Answer: An archetype is a stimulant in sight that supports an assertion.
That is to say they are the “triggers” in the contumacy and inexorability of the denial and projection technique which is used to cover up the crime. Taner Akcam, Halil Berktay, Müge Göcek, Elif Safak, Devrim Sevimay etc. are the examples of triggers favorable for agitation, who are in a way linked to Turkey, and are created in order to keep “Turkish people are supporting our thesis” image alive although not in the public opinion but in the discussion platforms which spread around into the large scale of the communication network and the media.
Armenian propaganda activists, contrary to their expectations, have primarily adopted themselves to the psychological collapse trauma they have created. Their psychological mood comprises a paranoia named a long time ago, rendered to deny the “psychological” scientific data and entirely focused on denial and projection.
“Collective consciousness” of Armenian people is based on deception and for the sake of humanity it is necessary to awaken their consciousness from the dark dream which causes an effect of anesthesia and lives with deceptions absorbing the spirit.
Although the politicians do not accept “help”, at least the Armenian society should be mature enough to be its own doctor and respond to the political lies. Perhaps at the initial stage somebody may whisper that they can name their own disease by reading Jung.
Armenia will then be purified from all the detrimental influences of the “HISTRIYONI” virus causing “communal identity and character defects” and will create potentiality to be ranked as a real country and border neighbor.
Turkish Forum member
soykirkur at yahoo.com
Worried Beads: The Future of the Diaspora
By Lalai Manjikian, PhD Candidate, Montréal, The Armenian Weekly, 29 August 2009
The Population Reference Bureau projects that the global population will reach 7 billion in 2011. This growth is measured based on several variables, including birth and mortality rates, as well as migration patterns. Is there a bureau somewhere that can project the future of the Armenian Diaspora? It is growing, stagnating, or receding? And what would be the measuring variables in order to predict whether the diaspora is headed for disaster or growth? Is the Armenian Diaspora vanishing?
I have been witnessing the involvement and commitment of those generations preceding mine—at times in awe, and at times critically, yet always in great admiration. Trailblazers for justice, guardians of schools, community centers, and faith, grassroots activists, conservers of culture, have all played an instrumental role in maintaining the structures and nurturing the identity needed to survive in the diaspora. I wonder if we, the current generation, have the same dedication, drive, and endurance to carry out the work ahead. I like to think that we do.
An optimist by nature, I usually dismiss the worried appeals made by community leaders or intellectuals who express concern about the future of the Armenian diaspora as over-reaction or strong protectionism. Some lament the fact that in places like Poland, India, and Singapore, Armenian graveyards, churches, and a lone school are all that stand, whereas in the past Armenians were a thriving community there. They once made considerable contributions to the local economy, culture, and society, as well as to Armenian diasporic life. Undoubtedly, it is a loss and how exciting would it have been to live in a place like Calcutta! On the other hand, it also seems like such extinctions are a natural occurrence for a diasporic people whose fate is far from being sedentary. Life decisions, unstable local economic and political conditions likely led Armenians once residing in these places to set roots elsewhere or even blend in local society, also an inevitable reality intrinsic to diasporic dwellers.
More recently, hearing a family friend talk about the Armenian community in Addis Ababa, where she was born and spent most of her life, I realized the prospects there look grim. I followed up by reading about the community and indeed, it seems as though the diaspora’s days in Ethiopia are numbered. The country’s political upheaval in the past, an aging Armenian population, the youth heading abroad for education and employment opportunities, as well as the low chance of Ethio-Armenians reproducing within the group, have led to a considerable decrease in the Armenian population.
Again, it is an unfortunate loss that hardly seems salvageable, but not surprising considering that diasporas are in constant movement and evolution and cannot be viewed as a static object.
Despite the mobile nature of diasporas, I doubt that diasporic communities in the West will be but a memory in decades to come. Nevertheless, preventively speaking, two conditions should increasingly prevail within our diasporic circles, in order to avoid potential dissolution. First, we need to seek ways and opportunities for creating sustained relations with the local society and other ethnic communities living in our respective cities. This need to open up and break free from insularity for good is a fundamental key to our survival. Marketing ourselves, establishing dialogue, offering our community and cultural space to the city at large, just as other cultural communities do, should be sought out actively. The days of protecting Armenian culture for Armenians are long gone. Instead, sharing and exchanging are in.
My second concern is ensuring that our most powerful resource—active and engaged individuals—are prepared to take up the challenge for generations to come. Community leaders are desperately trying to reach out and recruit the youth segment, sometimes successfully and on occasion unsuccessfully. As it is now, a solid core of active youth does exist within our diasporic communities. Though what can seem discouraging at times is a dangerously slim number of active individuals. The same faces are on the frontlines and the pool is too small in comparison to the overall number of Armenian youth. I fear that too many remain on the peripheries of diasporic communities. In an age where modes of communication such as the internet facilitate and strengthen diasporic networks in place, the time is now to mobilize and engage fresh, educated, and talented beads.
So, are we ready to step up to the plate? Will our diaspora consciousness survive for years to come, or will it weaken and drown in assimilation or indifference? Will it grow and be open to new formulations, or is it destined for a gradual demise? Is the ultimate antidote our now-independent and accessible homeland which feeds our diasporic consciousness with nostalgia and purpose, in turn, strengthening our commitment both towards Armenia and the diaspora? Either way, a blossoming diaspora only equates to a blossoming Armenia and vice versa.
Armenians of Central America
By Pablo Roberto Bedrossian MD, MBA, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, 31 August 2009
Dr. Pablo Bedrossian (cardiologist) is the grandson of Agop Bedrossian, a Genocide survivor who lived through the age of 101. Pablo's passion is to uncover the history of Armenians in Central America. He gathers bits and pieces of information during his travels, writes in Spanish and publishes on the internet. He was born in Argentina and now lives in Honduras. At present he is the marketing manager of a pharmaceutical company.
The following "paper" is an English adaptation of his LOS ARMENIOS EN CENTRO AMÉRICA
The presence of a small village on the Atlantic beaches known as Nueva Armenia (New Armenia) is a curiosity. It is located about thirty minutes driving from La Ceiba, the third largest city in Honduras. It is a garínagu community. They are a mixture of Arawak (original inhabitants of Caribbean islands) and descendents of African slaves in the British West Indies deported from St. Vincent Island in the late eighteenth century. They are known as Garifuna, which is the name of their language.
There are also other areas in Salvador that have names related to Armenia or Armenians. In El Salvador, there is a municipality in Sonsonate district called Armenia. It is located northwest of San Salvador, near the Pacific Ocean. It has its own website. A farm called Armenia Lorena should be mentioned too. It lies in San Rafael Pie de La Cuesta, San Marcos, Guatemala, and is well known for its waterfalls of La Trinidad.
It is not clear how and why these three sites received their names.
Central America is one of the least populated regions by the Armenian Diaspora. According to an article from Wikipedia 30 to 40 descendants of Armenians live in Costa Rica, 20 to 50 in Guatemala and 10 to 20 in Nicaragua. El Salvador is not mentioned, nor is Panama. The paper states that some 900 Armenians live in Honduras, but cites no sources. These numbers are questionable.
The Armenians of Honduras had a little joy in 2007. Marathon won the football (soccer) championship of the First Division despite the difficulties throughout the tournament. Manuel Keosseian led the team. This technician born in the Eastern Republic of Uruguay was hired in 2006.
I have heard of two other Armenians.
The first one was through reading the magazine that serves as an official tour guide, called Honduras Tips. It mentioned that “an American-Armenian owned a good restaurant” located near La Ceiba, Sambo Creek. I went to that place a hot afternoon in 2006. I was told that the business was sold, but the owner still lived there. Everybody knew him.
When I explained the reason for my visit, he was very kind with me. He was a man in his 60s who spoke only English. He asked my name. When I said Bedrossian, he became excited and exclaimed, "it's my family name!” He told me that he was fifty percent Armenian, and did not know other compatriots in Honduras. I returned in 2007 to visit him. I was informed that he had returned to America to permanently settle there.
The second case concerns an elderly woman who had died long ago. Apparently the children still live in Honduras but have no ties with Armenians.
Maybe there is a third person. In September 2007, the newspaper La Prensa in its Social section mentioned a certain Manassarians. Despite the "s" at the end, it sounded like Armenians. Bureaucrats sometimes changed the surnames of immigrants when they arrived to the country. This one could have been one of the cases. I wrote to the reporter asking him about Manassarians, but I got no answer.
Many of the most powerful families in Honduras are Christian of Palestinian origin. They came to the northern coast in the early twentieth century. Not only the Armenians suffered from the Ottoman yoke and persecution; many Greeks and Arabs did too. They fled the country or were driven away. They arrived with Turkish documents. Hence, here, as in Argentina, they are referred to as "Turks". However, these Paelstinians came mainly from Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and none of them want to be confused with their oppressors.
Besides Honduras, many Palestinians settled in El Salvador. It is noteworthy that both the former president of that sister nation, Elías Antonio Saca, like the late opposition leader, Schafik Jorge Handal, were of Palestinian origin. Palestinians also migrated en masse to Nicaragua with Turkish passports. These immigrants were integrated into the social and business life so successfully that in Nicaragua there is an expression "There are no poor Turks”.
But back to the Armenians in Central America. Ramon Gurdian, one of the descendents of Armenians in Nicaragua, is a marketing manager for a major company in Guatemala. According to him, some young Armenians arrived in the late nineteenth century to Nicaragua and made history. The brothers Santos and Gurdian Castulo settled in Nicaragua, while the third, a cousin (Arthur? Virgil?) emigrated to Costa Rica.
The Ortiz Gurdian family is one of the most important economic groups in the region. In 1996, Ramiro Mayorga Ortiz and Patricia Gurdian founded the prestigious Gurdian Ortiz Foundation which is dedicated to supporting health and culture. The Museum of the Foundation is in Leon, Nicaragua. There, I inquired about the origin of the Gurdians. The guide categorically denied their Armenian origin. However, Ramon Gurdian confirmed that the brothers and their cousin came to Central America from the land of the "stone crosses" and Mount Ararat.
In 2006, visiting Guatemala, in one of the largest dailies of the country I came across a very interesting interview with Samuel Berberian, dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Universidad Panamericana. This distinguished theologian, born in Argentina, expressed very profound and original thoughts. He reminded me that the Christian faith for our people is much more than a tradition: it is part of its essence. In 301 Armenia became the first country to recognize Christianity as official religion. Its history, full of martyrs, persecutions and genocide, has demonstrated the unshakable faith of the people in Jesus Christ. Berberian is often consulted by various media as an authority on ethics.
There is no organized Armenian community in Central America, nevertheless there are people like Keosseian, Gurdian and Berberian who make history. Ramon Gurdian estimates that there are about 150 Armenians in Costa Rica, at least 300 in Nicaragua, 15 in Guatemala, 20 or 30 in El Salvador. The latter was the residence of Edgardo Surenian, the evangelical pastor and his family that recently went back to Argentina.
Obviously, this note is not the product of a thorough research. It is rather the collection of pieces in an attempt to rebuild the history of the Diaspora. Therefore, it has an open end. I hope to meet other compatriots through communication that this note may generate. This paper may help document the contribution of Armenians to the Central American society and provide a worthy testimony of our history.
Dr. Pablo Bedrossian can be reached at Pablo.Bedrossian@finlay.hn
To Ara and Gaytzag
Submitted by Pablo Bedrossian on Sat, 2009-09-05
Thank you, Ara and Gaytzag. I do appreciate your comments.
Central America is a region that includes five countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Panama doesn't consider itself as part of Central America, but you can add to the List. Cuba is in the Caribbean region, as Dominican Republic or Jamaica, and it has very few relations with Central America. Nevertheless, some Palestinians came to Honduras from Cuba when Fidel Castro took power (for exemple, the Baboon family). I don't have the complete information, but I heard that they emigrated to Cuba from Palestine at the same time that the Palestinians came to Honduras, just at the turn of the twentieth century.
When I visited Cuba in 2005 for personal reasons, I met no Armenians nor I heard any comments about them. I think Gaytzag is right when he said that most of the Armenians left Cuba when president Batista was overthrown.
It's interesting the book "La Bomba" mentioned by Gaytzag. A wonderful work written by Jose Maria Gorriaran. I read it several years ago and I was very impressed how Mr.Gorriaran was able to transform his tragedy into an opportunity.
Gaytzag, I'm sure it's an honor to be named in this book. I do admire Mr.Gorriaran and if you see him, please, send him my gratitude for all that he did for the Armenian cause.
I visited Barcelona in 2004. What a city! Now I'm in touch with Glenda Adjemiantz, an Argentine living in Madrid. She recently visited Armenia and wrote a very nice article about her experience. Also a friend of mine, Jorge Fernández, is spreading the Armenian cause in Spain.
reply from Canada
Armenios de America Central
Submitted by Gaytzag Palandjian on Tue, 2009-09-08
Antes que nada, quiziera que me perdones por no haberte contestado anteriormente.Estaba y estoy muy atareado.
He leido con mucho interes tu descripcion de los Armenios en Centro America.Es cierto, Cuba no se considera como parte de esto,sino que forma parte de las islas en el mar Caribeña.Asi que tienes razon.
Aqui en España donde me paso 3-4 meses al año se ha formado una comunidad Armenia que no podriamos ni soñar.Apenas habian media docena de familias en Barclona, y un centenar en totalidad-incluyendo Madrid Capital-
Sin embargo desde hace unos diez años embezaron a entrar...tu diras..de Armenia mayoriamente los Armenios en busca de trabajo.Ahors se estima ,mas o menos, como 50/60.000 que estan dispersado en Barcelona, Valencia,Alicante, Madrid y Bilbao,mas en otras localidades .
Muchos llegaron pafra trabajar en la construccion.Como la crisis mundial tambien ha afectado España, los que vinieron en los ultimos 2 años se han quedado en muy mala situacion.
Nuestros establecimientos como son de Beneficiencia(UGAB) y los "off-shoots" de ARF(FRA) HOM, todavia no se han visto por aqui.Yo ,desde hace 3 años he frecuentado a dos comunidades, como son Barcelona y Valencia, centros -no muy adecuados en donde unas y unos jovenes de Armenia iniciaron clases de enseñanza de la lingua Armenia,historia,musica y danzas tradicionales Armenias solo los fines de semana.He tomado video de estos y tambien hablado por los alumnos,empujandoles a seguir aprendiendo ,sobretodo la lengua-para que no la pierdan.Asi como he aprfeciado el labor de los @profesores@ que dan lectura ahi..etc.
Favor, que me perdone,pero he hecho algo importante en mes de Junio en Yerevan,iendo a la Ministra de Diaspora 2 vecez y conseguido que envien libros de enseñanza para los ninos-niñas.Lo han hecho.Tambien lleve con migo de vuelta de ARmenia una media decena de DVD´´s especialmente hecha en Yerevan -De Hovanness Toumanyan,en ARmenio ,en color y tipo micky mouse .He pedico a la señora directora de l a comunidad de Barcona que hagan copias para enviar a las comunidades-arriba mencionada, como Valencia etc,
Pues , no tengo mas que decir excepto LA BUENA NOTICIA ES QUE POR FIN...por lo menos Los del litoral Mediterranea(Barcelona y sus alrfededores) van a tener Una Iglesia Apostolica Armenia ,cerca de "Playa De Aro" .Va a venir el arzobispo de Paris a consagrarla finales de este mes.
Desde luego estoy planeando ir(iremos nuestra familia) para participar en este EVENTO tan espderado.
Te saludo y espero oir de ti proximamente.Si quieres puedes leer mis Bulletines(articulos) en mi propio web site www.Armenidad-worldwide.org especialmente seccion en Español.
Hama Haigagani Siro
reply from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Armenians of Cuba
Submitted by Ara on Wed, 2009-09-02
In 2006 I had to meet with a Cuban Armenian lady in Havana named Donikian who spoke perfect Armenian. According to her there are a few of Armenian descent. Some Canadian Armenians do business in Cuba, but they have not emigrated, and hence cannot be considered Cubans.
reply from Canada
Thank you Pablo
Submitted by Gaytzag Palandjian on Wed, 2009-09-02
I am thrilled to find out about Pablo Bedrossian's Armenians of Central America. I know about Armenians in South America, but this is new. However, if we consider and accept that Cuba is also part of Central America, then I am informed that there were some 500 Armenian families before Fidel Castro's Revolution. Most probably the majority left the island. I have a poetry book by a Cuban Armenian lady.
Being an adopted son of this beautiful wonderful country Spain, I speak and write fluent Spanish. My name appears in just recently published book Armenios written by José Antonio Gurriarán, the author of the famous "La Bomba"
There is a newly formed huge Armenian Community in Spain. There are close to 60,000 people dispersed mainly in Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Madrid and Bilbao. For the past three years I have attended and encouraged the Sunday school in Barcelona. A video of some 25 pupils (now up to 40) was sent out to be shown on Armenian TV programmes.
Last Spring in Yerevan, I asked the Minister, and she obliged by sending school books. Later, upon my second visit I was given DVDs in Armenian about H.Toumanyan and others prepared specially for children. They are copied and distributed to Sunday schools in the above mentioned cities.
The most important news is that an Armenian Church, rented for thirty years, will be consecrated by the Archbishop of Paris at the end of this month. I hope there will be quite a crowd and a video will be taken to be shown locally and in LA.
Do Not Ratify!, Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD, Ontario, 1 September 2009
Here we are, almost a year following the start of the “football diplomacy” and we are reaping the “gifts”. Finally, the wrapping of the package is opened and we have a glimpse of what are in it.
As highlighted elsewhere by others, a “Commission of historians” and de jure recognition of the present borders between Turkey and Armenia are in the works. They are no more secrets. The spinners and the critics will have a field day. Alas!
Are we supposed to be shocked or surprised? Not at all!
Granted, Keghart had no means of being cognizant of the details of the negotiations.
However, following the trend established since the infamous February 2008 elections, the subsequent March tragedy, the unrelenting stubbornness of the present authorities, it was clear that the government did not represent the will of the majority of its people.
To save its neck, eventually it had to succumb to foreign pressures to establish some form of legitimacy. Unfortunately, that is what we witness today.
It is hard to imagine how the authorities will be able to manage to convince the people in Armenia and the Diaspora of the wisdom of this action. The only way will be to ram it down the throat of the parliament. Will they take the risk with all its future ramifications of further alienation?
So far, at every step of the way, they have demonstrated an extraordinary but pathological audacity. They are incorrigible. Hence, with regret and sadness, along with frustration and indignation, we state that they, in all likelihood, will not change course. They cannot, anyway. They are signatories. There is no room to backtrack and make an about face.
Now the ball is in the parliament.
We ask, like a demand, from all the parliamentarians in Armenia not to ratify this unjust agreement.
Forget about your personal gains. Leave aside what you have amassed by way of bribes and promises. Dismiss your pockets.
Think for a moment what a calamitous event for Armenians worldwide you will be facing by ratifying the agreement.
Consult with all those martyrs who throughout our tortured history sacrificed their lives to keep a piece of land and our dignity.
Ask their advice!
I can't believe
Submitted by Samvel Jeshmaridian, PhD on Tue, 2009-09-08
I can't believe that Armenians are so stupid to sign up under such an agreement.
reply from United States
What is the penalty
Submitted by Koko on Mon, 2009-09-07
I would like to know what the penalty is in Armenia for treason.
reply from United States
Hyun Khelke Oush Gou ka
Submitted by Gaytzag Palandjian on Thu, 2009-09-03
Some thoughts that I'd like to share:
In France, there are the ultra nationalists and the ultra marxist-communits; but they become one fist when their national interests are at stake. That should be a model to emulate, and has a bearing on what I'd like to say.
- I was one of many who advocatesd the establishment of the Minsitry of Diaspora. While the name clearly identifies the ministry as such it ought to logically follow that the person in charge should have been a Diasporan, who is well acquainted with the concerns and aspirations of the Diaspora. RA ought to have admitted that individual as its liyirav full-fledged partner. It is not so.
- The Armenian Reporter in its May 30, 2009 issue ran an article stating that the Ministry of Diaspora seeks to establish a "national council". This also needs to be addressed. It is incumbent on the diasporans to establish their National Supreme Council.
Having a real partnership between the Ministry of Diaspora and a Supreme Council, as mentioned above, potentially could have circumvented the kind of fiasco that we face today.
What sense does it make to go on repeating "we are with the Diasporans" when there is nothing beyond talk?
reply from Bosnia and Herzegovina
An advice to President Sargsyan
Submitted by Arpiar Petrossian on Thu, 2009-09-03
I would advise President Serj Sargsyan not to travel either to France or Switzerland, because by their law anyone denying the Armenian Genocide (in case by subjecting it to a ruling by Turkish "historians") is liable for punishment.
reply from Canada
Sell your wares in another souk!
Submitted by Patlamush on Wed, 2009-09-02
Name-dropping Arafat won't win you VIP brownie points here. Are you sure your name isn't Ed Djeredjian, David Ignatius, Bruce Fein, or Ilter Turkmen?
Contrary to your assertion, Armenians in Armenia, save the plutocrats, don't welcome these protocols. The Turks (and some Armenian oligarchs) will economically and politically gain from an open border, not the rank and file Armenians.
We are not in a position to defeat the Turks on the battleground? Tell it to orphaned, diseased, traumatized genocide survivors who saved our homeland in the 11th hour at Sardarabad, Bash Abaran and Karakilisse.
Your words, hailing these protocols, will not sway or demoralize us!
reply from Canada
Submitted by John M. Hovsepian on Wed, 2009-09-02
More than 75% of all Armeians in Armenia would love to forget the past and find a way with the present Turkey! After all, it's them who are stuck between four walls while we are enjoying life to the fullest, overseas...!
Let us face it. At this stage, we do not have much of a choice. First, the US will never jeopardize its relationship with the Turks for the sake of a handful of Armenians who have nothing to offer the US or the rest of the world. Second, we are in no position to defeat the Turks on the battleground.
These are the same words that I told Yasser Arafat before he signed the first treaty with the Jews. "Swallow your pride and shake hands with the devil for now". I told this, "once you get your foot inside, It will be much easier to negotiate". He finally listened, and now they are talking about a Palestinian State.
We need to have the borders open first and all the rest will come later...!
reply from United States
Submitted by Garo on Wed, 2009-09-02
This is a time to unite and increase the pressure on this Armenian government to resign, before they sign anything. Fingerpointing as to who sided with who doesn't help. The ball is in the Armenian Parliament and people's court. The whole Armenian nation should unite and neutralize this threat to our national interests. People in Armenia should hear the Spiurk's side too and not listen to press conferences by our foreign minister, who has no problem lying.
reply from United States
Sahmani batsman kherits antsank share
Submitted by Ishkhan Babajanian MD on Wed, 2009-09-02
Parun Nakhaghah "Achkneres louys" Yerevi nerko haytararutyunere kardatsadz kam lsadz ke linek. Aznvoren haytnem vor menk hayrenikov aproghners chenk haskanum inch e katarvum. Ardiok yete duk haskanum yek inch e katarvum, Khndrem zhoghovurdin batsatrek -- Chek Kardzum dzez Khapum yen yev shutov "Karabaghi hartsov" el dzez khapelu yen??
reply from United States
That the protocols spell
Submitted by Jirair Tutunjian on Wed, 2009-09-02
That the protocols spell disaster for Armenia and for the Armenian nation is without doubt. Proceeding from that consensus, we have to ask ourselves what are our options. If we do not ratify the protocols, what should be our counter proposal? Rejecting it out of hand will not do. Who do we turn to for support? It seems our traditional Big Brother Russia has been pushing us--for its own strategic designs--to come to terms with Turkey. Europe and the United States likewise. If we reject the protocols, would Turkey give the green light to Aliev to invade Artsakh? And if the Azeris attack, would Russia come to our rescue or would it let us twist in the wind "until we come to our senses"?
Knowing of our rightful demands and the danger the protocols pose, why did Serge Sarksyan propose it? What does he know that we don't? And finally, why haven't our two former presidents--Kocharian and Der Bedrossian--kept mum?
reply from Canada
Khrimian Hayrig must be turning in his grave...
Submitted by Hagop Kazarian on Wed, 2009-09-02
Where is our iron ladle?
reply from Canada
I must agree with Aram.
Submitted by Dave on Wed, 2009-09-02
I must agree with Aram.
The Protocols are a made-in-Ankara disaster for the Armenian nation. Only the strongest possible reaction by the citizenry of Armenia, along with whichever political parties wish to join in, can save Armenia and Artsakh.
It would be nice to see the parties put aside their differences, though I am a bit skeptical. LTP and his "Hack" party are basically pro-Turkish accommodationists, except that fortunately they did object to the ridiculous joint historical commission.
Raffi Hovanissian and his ACNIS sidekick Richard Giragosian have been largely silent. That is a bad sign. It looks as if Hovanissian is playing up to the West as usual. If Hovanissian is sincere about Armenia's historical rights, which are being signed away in these Protocols, one assumes that he would have spoken up by now. But I have seen nothing by him or the Heritage Party. Is he waiting to see which way the wind is blowing so that he does offend his Western friends?
That leaves the ARF, which seems largely ineffective. As the premier Armenian party historically, it should never have been in league with the thugs in the Armenian government to begin with.
As for Vartan Oskanian, I have seen nothing by him - this alleged elder statesman - lately. Waiting to see which way the wind is blowing before you have something to say, Vartan? Or perhaps you have to ask the American Jewish Committee member on your Civilitas board what he thinks before you decide to say something?
Hey, there's always AIM magazine, Vartan. You can start that up again.
reply from United States
Torpedoing This Disastrous Plan
Submitted by Aram on Wed, 2009-09-02
The best and most efficient means to torpedo this disastrous plan in the coming weeks is for the ARF, HAK and Heritage to put aside their differences and interests and start holding nonstop protests in Armenia. They should march to Baghramyan Street, end Sargsyan's illegal rule and hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections in the freest and fairest manner so that we can finally have a legitimate president and parliament that truly defends and promotes Armenian national interests. Otherwise, we are doomed!
Almost all prominent Armenian organizations in the Diaspora are also to blame for what is unfolding before our eyes. They supported this unelected president and parliament from day one, putting their personal and partisan interests ahead of Armenian statehood, democracy, security and rights (e.g. recall the infamous March 2008 Joint Statement by the AAA, AGBU, ANCA, the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America and the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America). This support has been so unflinching and total that these organizations have threatened and imposed a gag rule on many Diaspora-based Armenians wishing to speak and write about certain unfavorable domestic affairs and developments in Armenia and Artsakh since 1991. Shame on all of you, but know that it is never too late to join your people and to continue inspiring them!
Turkey and the international community have once again fantastically outmaneuvered the Armenian Nation! They, especially Western nations and even Russia, neither give a damn about genocide recognition and justice nor about Armenian statehood and democracy. Notice the thousands of articles that have been published in international newspapers since Monday on this "normalization" plan and compare that figure to the number of articles posted in the past year articulating the legitimate demands of the Armenian Nation regarding Turkey (ending, recognizing and providing full redress for the Armenian Genocide and improving minority rights), Azerbaijan (Artsakh and its right to self-determination and independence), Armenia (holding free and fair elections, improving civil liberties, fighting corruption), and so on; there is absolutely no comparison! They know that the only way they can fast track the opening and recognition of the current borders for trade and energy exploitation is through an unelected, despised Armenian regime that is willing to barter and sell state interests again and again just for personal/partisan gain and to stay in power.
Ratifying these disastrous protocols would mean Armenia legally and irreversibly approving Turkey's well-known preconditions:
1. Turkey will forever keep 90% of indigenous Armenian lands (Western Armenia and Cilicia) and be allowed to commit many more rounds of blockade, hostility, oppression, rape, murder, massacre and genocide with impunity;
2. The veracity of the Armenian Genocide is in question, and centuries of more research is required to determine "what really happened in 1915?" (the raison d'etre of Taner Akcam and the like);
3. All of Artsakh will be given to and forever be part of Azerbaijan.
For the second time this century, Switzerland is mediating/hosting negotiations that are most detrimental to the Armenian Cause. In 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne handed all of Western Armenia and Cilicia to Turkey. A 2009 accord based on these anti-Armenian protocols will verify and stamp the disastrous Lausanne legacy once and for all!
Fellow Armenians, please unite and save our fledgling nation (and the legitimate rights of future generations) from these shameless impostors and betrayers NOW!
reply from United States
We invoke our own problems
Submitted by Anathema on Wed, 2009-09-02
It's not just the American-Armenians, it's the entire spiurq, inclusive of the migrants from Armenia for the past 15 years. The country is braindrained and is now run by leaders who carry their mob nicknames through the security shields at the Parliament, government and other administrative buildings every day as they go to work.
The question of dual nationality is only resolved on paper; it's no secret that there is no coordinated state policy to start a process whereby all the HAYS are truly welcome home and can start life and businesses, unhampered by corruption by the absence of rule of law.
We invoke our own problems. Problems are not caused by outsiders and opening a border does not necessarily mean jobs for all and democracy for all. The politicians today are thickly immersed into business clans and God only knows what they owe to whom with what percentages. They owe to the Russians, to the Turks and Arabs.
Turkish citizens on the other hand are still objecting joining the EU but their public voice is unheard of outside their country. This protocol is being enforced on both countries like a promissory note claiming that it will solve our socio-political and cultural problems, that our identity will only flourish due to this Protocol.
The Diaspora has been left out from any discussions on the subject and has NO voice whatsoever on what content should such a Protocol bear... Western Armenia is being recognized as part of Turkey at the same time as this very government keeps screaming day in, day out "not a single sqm from Karabakh!".
Gogh@ goghits goghatsav, Astvats veren zarmatsav.
reply from Belgium
Pus-khelling and enduring
Submitted by Lazo on Wed, 2009-09-02
Pus-khelling and enduring sleepless nights -- that's what Armenian-Americans like me are doing right now. We don't have dual citizenship. If we did, we'd train for homeland defense. Bring back the kakhdni panag.
Reaction of Traditional Armenian Parties, ARF Slams Protocols as ‘Dangerous’ for Armenia
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, in a statement issued Tuesday, slammed the draft protocols for the establishment and development of relations between Turkey and Armenia, calling their provisions “dangerous.” The protocols were issued Monday by the foreign ministries of the two countries and Switzerland.
ARF Bureau member Hrant Markarian denounced the protocols as “unacceptable,” in an interview with RFE/RL.
“I regret that our president is going to sign a document he has no right to sign,” Markarian told RFE/RL. “In the next two months we will do everything to inform the public about the essence of the agreement and issues hidden in it,” he said.
Markarian told RFE/RL that these concessions alone would not lead Ankara to reopen the Turkish-Armenian border. “I think it is a bit naïve to expect that state [Turkey] to subordinate Azerbaijan’s interests to its relations with Armenia,” he said. “Maybe there is another, hidden agreement whereby during the next two, three or six months the Karabakh conflict will be ‘solved.’ So [that means] all of Turkey’s three preconditions have been accepted.”
Upon the announcement of the protocols, the ARF Bureau and the Supreme Council of Armenia convened an emergency session and issued the following statement:
On August 31, 2009 protocols on the establishment and development of relations between the republics of Armenia and Turkey were officially announced.
Armenia and Armenians entered a new phase, which is encumbered with numerous threats and danger.
It was about these very concerns that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation continued to warn from the onset of the political process by intermittently expressing the following positions:
a. As neighboring states, Armenia and Turkey are bound to take steps to normalize relations. However, good neighborly relations can be established between the two countries only when Turkey recognized the Armenian Genocide and reestablishes the rights of the Armenian people. The establishment of relations without preconditions and lifting of the blockade were mere first steps.
b. The proposal by Armenia to establish relations without preconditions can be deemed a serious concession
c. It is unacceptable to establish relations with Turkey at the expense of our government’s sovereignty and viability, as well as the national rights of our future generations.
Based on these principles, the ARF on several occasions warned that Turkey is leveraging the entire process to benefit its own interests (impeding the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide effort, a pro-Azeri resolution to the Nargorno-Karabakh conflict) and is communicating with Armenia through obvious and veiled preconditions.
It is already evident that the published documents contain the well-known preconditions of the Turkish side. That is, to call into question the veracity of the Armenian Genocide and to invalidate the unwavering rights of the Armenian people. Furthermore, immediately following the release of the protocols, Turkey, through official statements, reiterated its third precondition: it will not undertake any steps that would contradict Azerbaijan’s interests. This means it is continuing to use the Karabakh issue as a precondition for the Armenia-Turkey process.
The ARF continues to insist that the foreign policy of Armenia has veered from its national doctrine and predictable developments will have irreversible consequences.
With these considerations, during this domestic deliberation stage, the ARF will utilize all means to expose the existing dangers within the protocols in an effort to neutralize them.
We call on the Armenian people and the political forces in Armenia to properly assess the Armenia-Turkey relations process with its negative consequences and, in the most unified manner, deter the possible irreversible losses.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation
September 1, 2009
Arsinée Khanjian Expresses Concerns About Armenia
Arsinée Khanjian, the Lebanese-born Armenian actress based in Canada who has appeared in most of the films made by her husband Atom Egoyan, spoke before the press on July 21 about her recent impressions of Armenia. She was present at the ARF-sponsored conference in Nagorno-Karabagh held from July 9-10 about the current state of affairs regarding the peace process. And she served on the jury of this year’s Golden Apricot Film Festival, which ended last weekend. Here’s some of what she had to say:
“During my days here I saw a plate with an interesting design and I thought that it was definitely German. Then I turned it over and saw that ‘Made In Turkey’ was written on the bottom. Armenians are traveling to Antalya [Turkey] by a direct route, Armenian businessmen are doing business in Turkey, and Armenian girls are being trafficked to Turkey. All this while the border is closed? What will happen when it opens?”
Then she added that the recent warming of relations between the Armenian and Turkish leaderships, along with the lack of participation on the part of Nagorno-Karabagh’s authorities in the peace negotiations, were worrisome.
She also went on to make some other interesting points about Armenian culture and society, regarding how Diasporan Armenians are striving to protect their identities. She also expressed her dissatisfaction with the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia, the exact undertakings of which are still totally unclear to me and I bet thousands of other diasporan Armenians as well, including Arsinée.
“The Ministry of Diaspora is discussing the issue of intermarriage. Is that the primary concern of the diaspora? No, the diaspora has been speaking out about intermarriages for 100 years. We [diasporan Armenians] are struggling against that. I knew that I had to definitely marry an Armenian, and I have to conduct my own real undertakings in Armenian.”
In other words, who is the ministry to dictate to whom Armenians in the diaspora should marry? That’s the problem of Armenians in the diaspora to deal with, clearly not that of the ministry. In America it’s not uncommon for Armenians to marry non-Armenians–that’s the reality of the situation there. I can only assume that the same issue exists in any country where Armenians communities thrive. Nevertheless, I would argue that most of us prefer to marry Armenians, yet whether we, in fact, will is our business and should not by any means reflect negatively on our “Armenianess.”
Arsinée then stated, “I came back to Armenia after a three-year absence and I didn’t recognize it. New buildings everywhere, none of which look alike, in different colors… Does Armenia have to present itself to the world with those buildings? Do you know how the arts—particularly film—can help countries of small nations to promote their culture and show they are alive and kicking in the world? But here all that’s ignored.”
She brought up the example that films about the Armenian Genocide should be made in Armenia, that the medium of film should be used to make Armenia known under the world spotlight and later, to make demands for justice, just as Israel has been doing.
Naturally I agree with all of her points. I think the warming up in relations with Turkey and the seemingly eager willingness on Armenia’s part to appease the West by agreeing to make concessions for peace with Azerbaijan are unwise unless Armenian demands are met first and foremost. Also, I can’t imagine the Ministry of Diaspora serving any kind of tangible purpose other than actively pursuing and persuading Armenians to return or else move to Armenia for the first time from their countries of origin. And as a strong advocate of the arts, I concur that the Armenian film industry should be drastically developed in order to help promote Armenians and their cause on the world map. Dozens of grotesque, monolithic newly constructed buildings are not signs of societal development in my opinion. Armenia certainly still has a long way to go to make its place in the world.
The original article which was written in Armenian can be found here.
Our Last Name is Gavoor, Mark Gavoor, Glenview IL, 10 September 2009
Our family name is Gavoor. People are always asking me about our name and its origins. These questions come in two forms.
First and foremost, we are Armenian. People that are not Armenian always try to guess what our ethnic heritage is. Most often I am asked, “Is that a Hungarian name?” I know that is coming from the three Gabor sisters, Zsa Zsa, Eva, and the third sister whose name always escapes me though Google informs is Magda. When you say Gabor and Gavoor, they sound the same. Others think the name is Dutch. I have no idea why they think this. Maybe it is the double o’s? I am not sure. Then, if the non-Armenian inquirers knew anything at all about Armenians, they add a follow-up question, “I thought most Armenian names ended in ‘ian’?”
Second, inquiries come from Armenians. While I feel I have an Armenian name, the name is not Armenian, technically. It is a Turkish word. But, it is not just any Turkish word. It is indeed the Turkish derogatory word giavur or gâvur in modern Turkish, which means infidel. It used to be Karagiavurian, which is even worse. A karagiavur is a black infidel. It is akin to a Black American having Nigger as a surname. Actually, in Kharpert from where our family is from, the name is pronounced, Kharagiavurian. The “Kh” is a country or rural pronunciation of “K.” So, Armenians question why I have such a shocking surname.
I am writing this short piece because of a recent question posed by a new friend Dikran Abrahamian. He was not so much shocked but wondering more so if the name meant what he thought it meant. I gave him my standard answer and he thought it was a story well worth documenting. I already thought I had documented this recently for my cousin David Gavoor, but upon scouring my gmail and hard drive, there was nothing. So, for family, friends, and Dikran, I am writing about it now.
Less so now than when I was younger, the Armenians of my grandparents' generation, that generation that somehow survived the 1915 Genocide, would ask me my name. They wanted to know whose son or grandson I was. I would tell them and see their faces contort from smile to disbelief. In Armenian, they would say, “Giavur, what kind of name is that. Do you know what it means?” When I told them that I knew what it meant, they would then say, “Why do you have such a name? You have to change that.” I never really gave a good answer. Usually, I said that if was good enough for my grandfather, it was good enough for me and I would never change it.
Later, probably from my failed attempts at being a defiant hippie, I actually liked the fact of having non-believer as a last name: Non-believer, not buying in, doubter. I applied it more to the organizational rhetoric created by man than to anything religious. The bottom line was, however, that I was not going to change the name. I am a Gavoor. I am proud of that. If I ever were to change it, I would only consider Gavoorian and even more likely, Kharagiavurian. Of course, that might limit my ability to visit Turkey.
Many Armenians have Turkish surnames. Often these names have to do with the family profession back when last names were being adopted. It must be noted that in that part of the world, the adoption of family names was a relatively recent event. I am guessing with the past 200 years. I know Palandjians (Saddle Makers), Zildjians (Cymbal Makers), Odabashians (Inn Keepers), Kouyumjians (Jewelers), and more. Some Armenians would like to rid our nation of these Turkish rooted surnames. My last name makes these same folks even more agitated.
How did we get this name? How did we become Black Infidels? I asked my Great Uncle Rouben this once. He told me the following. The family was originally from Sepastia (modern day Sivas). The name was originally Eflian (I have no clue as to the meaning of this surname). One day, during the harvest season, the family was working in the fields into the night by the light of bonfires. As it happened, the Sultan and his entourage were either encamped nearby or passing through. The Sultan noticed these bonfires in the distance and was curious about what was going on. He sent an emissary or scout to check out the situation. The scout came back and said, “Armenians are harvesting in the light of these fires.” The Sultan then ordered that the leader or eldest of the Armenians be brought to him. Upon being brought to the Sultan, my presumable greatnth grandfather was asked, “What are you Armenians up to?” My ancestor responded, “We are working our harvest. We didn’t finish in the daylight and as our family motto is ‘do not leave today’s work for tomorrow,’ we are working under the firelight to finish.” The Sultan thought a moment and said, “Ah, you giavurs are something else.” He reflected another moment and added, “In fact, that shall be your family name, Kharagiavur, from now on.” Voila, upon decree of the Sultan we became the Kharagiavur clan or in Armenian Kharagiavuriantz of the Kharagiavurs or sons of the Kharagiavurs. In time, it simply became Kharagiavurian.
Uncle Rouben went on to say that other branches of the family go by Gavoorian and Karian which got mistranslated to Stone thinking that ‘Kar’ was of the Armenian for stone and not Turkish word for the color black. Uncle Rouben’s brother Sisak had the surname Gavoorian. The Karian branches of the family were in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Paris. I have no idea where I might find the Stones but my guess is that they were more interested in being part of the American melting pot than maintaining and sustaining their Armenian heritage.
Uncle Rouben was the youngest of the children of Mardin and Mariam Kharagiavurian of Keserig, a village of Kharpert. There were three daughters: Markarid, Arshalouys, and Yeghsa. There were also three sons: Aram, Sisak, and Rouben. I knew all of them with the exception of Markarid. I know or knew all of their children born in the US. Arshalouys had been married in Keserig but her husband was killed in the massacres and her daughter was left behind never to have been heard from. Aram and Arshalouys seemed to be the most knowledgeable according to family lore but had passed before I was old enough to seriously discuss any of these kinds of issues with them.
In the early 1990s, I was talking with Arsha’s daughters Florence and Grace. We were talking about family history and they were relating stories their mother had told them. I brought up the story of the Sultan and how we came to be Gavoors. Grace, the oldest, said, “That is a story Uncle Rouben used to tell and my mother said that it wasn’t true.” I was a little disappointed. There are very few stories like this that survived the Genocide. The vast majority of Armenians do not know very much of their family history before the generation of the survivors. So, I let the story go.
Shortly after that, I was at our church, The Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension in Trumbull, CT. During the coffee hour, I was talking with Varoujan Kochian. I always liked Varoujan. He reminded me of that first survivor generation. He was from Yozgat and a sturdy man of the land. He embodied hard work with a humble though proud attitude. Varoujan was about my parents' age. He asked about my last name. I was about to give the standard speech, explain what I have explained here when he offered a story that he had heard. He basically told the same story Uncle Rouben told. I do not think he used related the Eflian name, but other than that the story was the same. I was a bit stunned and impressed especially since Yozgat was not near Kharpert and closer to Sebastia. So, maybe Uncle Rouben wasn’t so far off. The mathematician in me could ignore one data point, but with two I can establish trend, I can draw a line through two points. I think that this story is definitely legend, but a legend rooted in some truth. I would love to know the name of the Sultan to at least get a time frame on this story.
There are other Kharagavoorians. I corresponded for a short time with a gentleman in Aleppo, Syria. He is a friend of the choirmaster at our church in Glenview, IL. Given our families were rooted in different regions, we concluded we were not related. I asked about the uniqueness of the name to our cousin and noted historian Richard Hovannisian whose mother was a Kharagavoorian and whose family took the Karian name in the US. He said it was more common than I had thought and attributed the Sultan story to lore.
I wonder why my grandfather Aram shortend the name Gavoor? I never got to ask him as he died in 1959 when I was only six and not yet aware of all this. Yet, I know some of his contemporaries from the same village or region took names like Kamar and Karentz. My guess is that as a group they decided to not use the typical ‘ian.’ I like to think they wanted to be different and, in their own way independent. I like that and think it adds to my own desire to maintain the Gavoor name. My grandfather was pretty well educated having gone to school and even college in Kharpert. He most certainly knew the meaning of the word giavur and selected this one part of the family name as his. I like to believe he did it in defiant pride.
Uncle Rouben is the only Gavoor that I know has visited the Republic of Turkey. I asked him if he had any trouble with the name there. He said the spelling Gavoor versus the modern word gâvur was different enough that no one even suspected.
My sister Nancy’s middle name is Carrie, an anglicized version of Kara. My sister Ani went a step further and named her daughter Kara.
As I said, I wear this name proudly and a bit defiantly. After all, it may have been bestowed upon us by a Sultan.
Calling a Spade a Spade Analysis / Turkey, Civilitas Foundation, 03 September 2009
Attempts to analyze the present state of Armeno-Turkish relations are based on one of two hypotheses.
The first is that Turkey will not open its border with Armenia without a Karabagh settlement or progress toward one. In short, it won't open the border without Azerbaijan's assent. For the proponents of this theory, the signing of the August 31 protocols is a nightmarish development: Those documents have given Turkey, in writing, everything it had wanted of Armenia since Armenia's independence but had been unable to gain.
In other words, Armenia has not yet gotten what it expects of Turkey, the opening of the borderâ??a tangible, physical actâ??whereas Turkey's expectations of Armenia are merely statements, which it has already gotten, and in writing at that.
From the moment that the protocols were made public, they allowed Turkey to reap rewardsâ??diplomatic, political, moral, and otherâ??because the Armenian government had given its assent to those documents. It's not possible to assert, therefore, that so long as parliament has not approved the protocols Turkey has not achieved what it wanted of Armenia regarding the genocide and territorial demands.
As soon as the protocols were made public, many pundits and the representatives of the administration hailed the absence of an y mention of Karabagh in those documents as a great diplomatic achievement. But if we take into account that Turkey's highest officials have in the past year-and-a-half taken every opportunity to proclaim that the Armenia-Turkey border would open only after a settlement of the Karabagh question, we must reach the opposite conclusion: Only if the Karabagh question were referenced in the protocols, with the clear formulation that Karabagh is in no way connected to the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, could we have talked of a diplomatic victory.
Because only such a reference would have precluded the Turkish foreign minister from assertingâ??as he did just one day after the protocols were made publicâ??that the settlement of the Karabagh issue is a precondition for the establishment of Armeno-Turkish relations.
Moreover, a sober assessment inevitably reveals the following dangerous scenario. The Turkish executive branch, by seeking to improve relations with Armenia, has displayed its "goodwill" before the entire world; as "an established democracy," however, it cannot force its will on parliament. It's already evident from the reactions of Turkish legislators that the protocols-related ruckus in parliament will be loud. And so the Turkish government could easily explain to the international powers that in order for the protocols to be ratified by its parliament, the Armenian side should make at least some concessi ons on Karabagh and evacuate the territories adjacent to Karabagh.
The second hypothesis is that Turkey is prepared to move toward opening the border even at the cost of temporarily or outwardly alienating Azerbaijan, and so Armenia must also expend every effort toward that end. The proponents of this theory can be provisionally divided into two groups.
The first thinks that the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border takes precedence over all other concerns, and so the Armenian side can refrain from asserting historical concerns, because in an environment of open borders those issues could more easily be resolved between the two nations.
The adherents of this interpretation of the situation must nevertheless realize that the Karabagh issue cannot be bypassed. If Turkey agrees to open the border without first obtaining any progress favorable to Azerbaijan regarding the Karabagh issue, there can be no doubt that it will have done so only because it has obtained clear promises from international powers that all territories abutting Karabagh will be returned to Azerbaijan without any guarantee of a final status for Karabagh.
The second group understands the incontrovertible necessity of opening the border, but it is not prepared to achieve it at all costs. And that is the very basis on which a healthy debate must unfold. It would be an irreversible mistake for the Armenian parliament to discount all th e dangers lurking in the protocols merely for the sake of saving face for the executive branch. Although it's clear that including the mechanism of parliamentary ratification was Turkey's idea, we should nevertheless attempt to take advantage of it by allowing for the possibility of either inserting modifications into this version of the document or rejecting it altogether.
And finally, it is important to recognize that independent Armenia, as a sovereign state, would for the first time be signing a joint agreement with Turkey having to do with territory, borders, and our most painful issue, the genocideâ??and that cannot be done merely as a matter of political expediency. It's also apparent that the documents, in their present form, are not in our national interest. Efforts to present the protocols as a great diplomatic victory cannot be taken seriously. Armenia's previous administrations, however, over the last 17 years, have refrained from such a step, because they had a sense of political and historical responsibility.
Getting This Wrong Will Be Unforgivable Analysis, Vartan Oskanian, 08 September 2009
We are at a crossroads in our history. We have on the table the first bilateral document that the independent sovereign Republic of Armenia intends to sign with the Republic of Turkey. This is an unprecedented process that is far-reaching and irreversible.
Yet, the debate on the issue is going in the wrong direction. It is hugely insulting that high-level government officials can be this dismissive and trivializing on a matter that is so critical for our people.
There is no sense whatsoever in telling us that what we see is not what we get. It is not reasonable to spell out a set of specifics and then defend an incongruous but desirable interpretation. That is not how political documents work. It is indeed possible to write flexibly and loosely in order to allow both sides to interpret things differently. But this is not that document. This document, perhaps good intentioned, is formulated badly.
When the Armenian side says that although the protocol specifies recognition of today’s borders, that does not mean that we are renouncing past borders, that is absurd. That would be commensurate to the Turks saying, for example, that although there is reference to the border opening, that does not mean that Armenians will necessarily receive visas.
Or when the Armenian side says that the formulation about a sub-commission’s “examination of historical records and archives” does not mean they will study the genocide, this is like the Turkish side saying they will open the border, but not at Margara, but some 10-meter space somewhere near the 40th latitude and 45th longitude. Again, this is absurd.
The reality is that a good idea, a needed policy, a necessary move toward rapprochement has been negotiated poorly and framed dangerously. It is irresponsible of our government to force our people to make such choices about our present and our future.
The history of our relations (and non-relations) with Turkey has a pre-history and begins before Turkey’s closing of the Turkey-Armenia border in 1993.
After Turkey recognized Armenia as an independent republic in 1991, it laid down two clear conditions that had to be met by Armenia before it would establish diplomatic relations: Armenia was expected to renounce territorial claims on Turkey, and Armenia was to set aside or dismiss the genocide recognition process. (Turkey’s later proposal of a historic commission was the modification of this last condition.) In 1993, with the border closure in support of its brethren in Azerbaijan, Turkey added a new condition to the other two already existing, that Armenia renounce Nagorno Karabakh’s struggle for security and self-determination by conceding to an Azerbaijani-favorable solution.
To forget this pre-history, or to expect us to forget, or – worse – to pretend that Turkey has forgotten, is not serious. In the context of Turkey’s consistent policies about territorial issues, genocide recognition and Karabakh concessions, our public debate must revolve on the substance of what this protocol gives Armenians and what it takes away.
Even when signed, these protocols merely tell us Turkey’s willingness to enter into diplomatic relations and to open the border. The open border will become reality only after eventual parliament ratification.
But whether ratified or not, Turkey will still have received what it wanted. When signed, this protocol gives Turkey the opportunity to tell the world that Armenians have in fact conceptually relinquished territorial claims and are also ready to offer the genocide for bilateral study, therefore no third-party involvement, recognition or condemnation is in order.
As someone who has worked for such normalization both with Turkey and Azerbaijan, I would want nothing more than to see agreements, knowing full well they must come with difficult concessions. The negotiations about these concessions however should not endanger our future security nor violate our integrity and values.
We can and should, as the protocol says, ‘implement a dialogue on the historical dimension’ with ‘the aim of restoring mutual confidence’ but the way to do that is not by mandating an ‘impartial scientific examination of historical records’ as if all other examinations thus far have been neither impartial nor scientific. In earlier negotiations, we focused on creating an intergovernmental commission with the aim of overcoming the consequences of our tragic past.
Alternate, more dignified, wording is also possible on the border issue. We can and should, as the protocol says, ‘respect and ensure respect for the principles of equality, sovereignty, non-intervention in internal affairs of other states, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers.’ The focus on territorial integrity is the international formulation that protects concerns about frontiers, while not diminishing the right to pursue historical injustices. The current formulation about ‘the mutual recognition of the existing border’ should have been avoided.
However, an equal risk in this document is the unwritten one. The link to Nagorno Karabakh. Unwritten perhaps, but clearly spoken at every turn are the repeated, continuing, unabated, undiminished affirmations of the highest Turkish and Azerbaijani officials who insist that Turkey will continue to defend the interests of Azerbaijan and nothing will be done, no border will open, until the Nagorno Karabakh settlement process begins to move in a direction that suits Azerbaijan.
In fact, expecting Turkey to move without considering Azerbaijan’s interests would be similar to expecting Armenia to move without considering Karabakh’s interests. This is not and was not a reasonable expectation.
In which case, if ratification is to take place, and if it’s to take place before the next Obama-April 24 deadline facing Turkey, then we can expect that Azerbaijan has received sufficient guarantees on the return of territories and on the status of Nagorno Karabakh.
These are the worrisome elements – both in the content of these documents, and in the hasty process that accompanies it – that cast doubt on the intent of the document. It also makes clear the readiness to lower the bar to reach an agreement, at questionable cost.
If this implies distrust on our part, that should be eminently understandable. On the Armenian side, those who crafted this document are insisting that it really means something other than what it says. On the other side, Turkey is to ‘refrain from pursuing any policy incompatible with the spirit of good neighborly relations,’ yet it continues to side with one neighbor Azerbaijan, against their other neighbor Armenia.
In other words, on the ground, nothing seems to have changed. Yet, the Armenian bar has clearly moved lower in the Armenia-Turkey negotiations, and therefore it is natural to assume that the same thing may be happening in the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations.
This is the situation today, as we are presented documents not for and by third parties, as with the countless historical documents of the past where Armenia is a subject and not a party, but for the first time in history, a document in which Armenia is signing on to its own perceived place in history.
This document with such formulations should not be signed. Indeed, no one is authorized to sign this document with such formulations.
Statement Of President Sargsyan At The Annual Gathering Of The Mfa Senior Executive Staff And Heads Of The Armenian Embassies And Consulates Abroad
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is one of our traditional meetings which take place in the framework of the annual ambassadorial gathering. These gatherings provide a good opportunity to evaluate the ongoing developments in your host countries and international organizations and look together for the answers for the emerging challenges and issues.
You represent the highest level of political planning in the area of foreign relations and these gatherings are also expected to produce practical proposals and programs regarding our future activities.
My present statement consists of two major parts: First, we will talk about the main directions of the Armenian foreign policy and current developments, and in the second part we will deal with the activities of the Embassies and the work ahead.
At the outset, I would like to make a note regarding our country’s standing on the international arena and I would like to invite special attention to this issue. Today, Armenia appears to the world as a stable, predictable, and reliable partner, the positions of which are comprehended and appreciated. Major international players and centers respect our country, a country which has proved its reliability on the regional, bilateral and international levels. As a result, all we have been advocating since regaining independence reverberates today in international quarters and with regard to our country and essential regional issues the international community maintains positions which overall concur with our views.
A number of important developments have taken place since our last meeting.
I would like to make a special reference to the multifaceted and wide ranging relations with our strategic partner, Russia. We will continue to undertake all necessary steps to further deepen and strengthen our relations in all areas. We have already had many meetings on the presidential level, including reciprocal state visits.
I have already started a series of visits to the regions of the Russian Federation, particularly, to those with a sizeable Armenian population. I am confident that there is a great potential in working with the Russian regions for fostering Armenian-Russian economic relations as well as for inspiring our compatriots and strengthening their ties with Armenia.
At the first signs of economic crisis we received a $500mln loan from the Russian Federation, which was used to mitigate the impact of the crisis.
Substantial progress was registered during Armenia’s presidency at the Collective Security Treaty Organization, when fundamental decisions on the Organization’s enhanced efficiency were developed and adopted. First and foremost, I mean the decisions related to the establishment of rapid response forces. Initial military exercises will take place shortly, or to be precise, their first phase has already begun. We consider it to be an important element in upgrading Armenia’s security level.
I want to mention with satisfaction that our friendly relations with the United States expand day by day, dynamics of which underwent changes after the elections in the US and with the accession of the new administration. There is a mutual desire and will to further develop these relations. We maintain direct contacts with the White House and the State Department. There are numerous programs in the areas of democracy strengthening, security, and expansion of economic relations.
The Armenian American community is a natural link bridging our two countries. Through their efforts Armenia has many friends in the US Congress. Levels of assistance to Armenia have been maintained for years.
Our experience of recent months, related to the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations, has also become a distinct factor within the Armenia-US relations. There are some critics, who claim that our initiatives directed at the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations barred the President of the United States from using word Genocide in his April 24 statement. I have already said this and would like to repeat that I am confident that our actions in no way hindered the United States and one needs just to look into the American sources to give a right assessment to the ongoing process, and I am confident that sooner or later that assessment will be given.
We will continue to deepen our vigorous cooperation with Europe both bilaterally as well as in the framework of European structures. We have recorded two momentous developments in our relations with the European Union. First, the Easter Neighborhood program has been launched. Second, by the invitation of the Armenian side a group of European experts arrived to Armenia and started to work. We believe that this format of cooperation with the European Union is one of the best means to continue the process of reforms in Armenia.
The Eastern Partnership provides endless opportunities to use the European potential. We need to get the best of European experiences and expert assistance. We must be persistent and proactive seeking and using all the opportunities provided in Brussels as well as in the European capitals. We should also insist on receiving from the European Union and the European countries adequate assistance and support envisaged for partner countries.
Armenia has been provided with the opportunity to make use of the general system of preferences and that opportunity must be utilized expediently. We should be more aggressive in promoting Armenian goods in the European markets and work diligently to sign the free trade agreement. We must solve promptly all the internal problems which will get us closer to gaining an eased visa regime with the EU. For quite some time we have been unable to register concrete results in establishing a general center for the EU entry visas. We haven’t received any objection with this regard from the European structures, but we do not take steps that would bring us closer to solving that problem. Armenia and Europe are linked by the similar system of values. To make that similarity generate new results it is necessary for our societies and individuals to interact more actively.
Our relations with NATO are progressing; results of Armenia’s Individual Partnership Action Plan are encouraging as are the results and level of Armenia’s participation in the international peacekeeping operations.
We will continue efficient cooperation with our neighbors - Iran and Georgia. Further development of good-neighborly relations with these countries is of crucial importance for the Armenian foreign policy.
Together with the Islamic Republic of Iran we launched the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, while during my official visit to Tehran we reached understanding regarding the implementation of a number of new infrastructure projects. With our colleagues from the Asian Development Bank we have started the North-South highway construction project which will undoubtedly become a strong impetus not only for Armenia-Iran but a number of new regional initiatives.
With Georgia too we continue our political dialogue on the highest level. We exchanged visits on the Presidential level. At this very moment intensive works are underway on Gyumri-Akhaltskha-Bavra-Batum road, the conclusion of which will allow to facilitate shipping from Armenia to the Black See and in the opposite direction.
We should do our best to provide possible assistance to the Armenian community of Georgia. Logic of our policy toward Javakhk should rest on “integration without assimilation” premise. In this case, integration should presume strengthening of the Armenians in Georgia as dignified, able and respected citizens of that country. I believe that recognition of the Armenian as a regional language, registration of the Armenian Apostolic Church, steps to protect Armenian monuments in Georgia will only strengthen Armenian-Georgian friendship and enhance the atmosphere of mutual trust. On all these issues we should be considerate but also persistent and principled.
Invigoration of our relations with the Arab world remains an important issue on the agenda of the Armenian foreign policy. Dynamic development of these relations in the first years of independence was followed by a stalemate which is to be overcome and steps on that direction have already been taken.
We have been maintaining close relations with China and India, which hold a special place in Armenia’s policy toward the Asian region.
I stressed it during our last meeting and I would like to underscore it now: it is necessary to further develop relations with our traditional partners as well with the countries relations with which are not yet at the adequate level. It goes for the countries of the South-East Asia, Australia, and the Latin American countries.
Now, I would like to talk about two pivotal issues of our foreign policy: Nagorno Karabakh peace process and our initiative for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.
About the NK peace process:
Our negotiations with Azerbaijan with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group are being conducted in a rather visible and comprehensible format. As you know, with the President of Azerbaijan we have already met six times. The Maindorf Declaration was signed in November, 2008, there was a joint statement of the Heads of the MG Co-chair countries, and the Co-Chairs have presented the general outline of the Madrid principles. I am sure there is nothing new for you in these publications, but the public at large saw all these principles brought together and heard from official sources for the first time. I attach great importance to the fact that there is not a single point in those documents on which we failed to inform the public on our viewpoints and approaches. Publication of these documents proved that we never lied and never tried to mislead our own people on the issues that were negotiated.
Obviously, there are some provisions in the documents that differ, sometimes considerably, from our desired ideal settlement. It is also obvious however that all the players realize that the right of people of Nagorno Karabakh for self-determination and issues of comprehensive security guarantees for Nagorno Karabakh are the cornerstones of these documents.
I do understand the roots of anxiety in some circles in Armenia and Artsakh. The NK issue is a sacred issue and thousands of our fellow citizens put their lives on the altar of the cause, for which we have been enduring hardships, but it is also one of the most glorious pages of our history. There is no doubt in my mind that any Armenian leader, who has been involved in the resolution of the NK conflict, realizes the enormous responsibility before our people, our history and our future generations.
Any other point of view is either the result of ignorance or petty profiteering. In case of Artsakh petty profiteering is unacceptable.
It is important that you explain everyone, and first of all the officials in your host countries, that the NK settlement is not an issue of days, weeks, or even months. Everyone must understand clearly that currently we are negotiating over only some of the basic principles for settlement. Even if the agreement is reached on these, that are still many other principles to be negotiated, and after that – the agreement itself, which will regulate the details for implementation. That process requires huge work.
At this stage our priority will be to ensure security of Nagorno Karabakh during the negotiation period and to achieve a proper understanding of the issue on behalf of the international community. In this struggle the Armenian people have been the ones fighting for survival and freedom and no one has any right to call the people of Artsakh, who defended their right to live with blood, “aggressor”. Our response to that must be forceful, confident, and compelling. This is particularly important for our Ambassadors accredited to the countries-members of the Islamic Conference. We should redouble our efforts for neutralizing negative impact of the resolutions either adopted by that organization or future ones.
On the Armenian-Turkish relations:
As you already know, a joint statement on the process of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations was released yesterday. The documents, which fully reflect the agreements made so far, have also been publicized: Protocol on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and Protocol on the development of bilateral relations.
At the meeting with you last year I set out the objectives that I pursued by inviting the President of Turkey to Armenia. Armenia approximated the possibility of normalizing Armenian-Turkish relations. The awareness and commitment of the international community has been increased.
I have sought to normalize relations with our neighboring country with dignity as it is appropriate to the civilized world of the 21st century.
I think that these protocols open up that opportunity. The drafts made public yesterday reflect three vital realities:
1.As I have repeatedly stated, the talks conducted with Turkey and the agreements attained do not contain any precondition related to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict or any other issue related to that.
2.As we have stressed, the issues on the historical dimension will be discussed not within the committee of historians but rather within one of the sub-commissions of the intergovernmental commission.
3.For the first time in the history of independent Armenia public debates will precede the signing of the most important international documents. The debates will enable to listen to all the views and approaches.
On this issue I anticipate your active participation. You should lead an active part during the public discussions in Armenia as well as in Diaspora. You should explain the provisions of the pre-signed Protocols in detail, both their positive and, why not, also controversial elements.
I also anticipate that shortly we will be having vigorous discussions in the Armenian communities abroad and international research centers. With this regard you should also provide necessary venues for the meetings and presentations of the speakers from Armenia.
Area of foreign relations is one of the crucial elements of our national security. You are entrusted with the important and responsible mission. The diplomatic missions of Armenia are our first points of entry and foreigners get their first impression by stepping over that threshold and meeting with you. It means that positive impression of Armenia depends on your professionalism, attitude and image.
Since becoming the President of Armenia I have appointed more than ten Ambassadors. Only two of them were political nominees, who never before were employed in diplomatic service. It means that I want to view diplomatic work as a professional activity, the cornerstones of which are your professional qualities and dedication to Armenia, not to a person. But that approach of mine requires reciprocal responsibility.
It is great honor to be called Armenian diplomat. One must be deserving of that honor every day and every minute and that honor must be carried with the greatest responsibility. I wish you success and I wish this annual gathering productive work.
Haunted By History By Owen Matthews, Newsweek, Sep 14, 2009
The ruins of the ancient Armenian capital of Ani are haunting, and haunted. On what is now a windblown patch of grassland enclosed in colossal walls and dotted with ancient cathedrals, there was once a great city. You can still see the ghosts of its streets outlined in the turf, and inside the granite churches you can make out the fading faces of saints and kings painted on the ceilings more than a millennium ago. On one side of the city, a dramatic single-span bridge, now ruined, brought the Silk Road across the gorge of the Akhurian River. On the other, the road wound on across the Anatolian plains to Constantinople and the great trading cities of the Mediterranean. Once, Ani was close to the center of the world. Today, it feels like the end of the earth.
Only a few determined tourists make it to this remote patch of borderland on Turkey's frontier with Armenia (it's just four years since it became possible to visit the site without special permission from the military). In its heyday, being at the crossroads of empires made Ani as large and as wealthy as Venice. But for most of history, that crossroads has also been a cursed place. The Seljuk Turks took Ani from the Armenians in the middle of the 11th century. After that, it's hard to name an Asian conqueror who didn't stop off at Ani--the Mongols, Tamerlane, the Persians, the Ottomans, and the Russians all tramped through.
But the ghosts I'm talking about are much less ancient than the medieval walls and churches--and less serene. The Anatolian plateau around Ani witnessed some of the worst slaughter of World War I. On the orders of a megalomaniacal commander, 90,000 Ottoman soldiers froze to death fighting the Russians in the snowy passes. Meanwhile, Ottoman troops and vigilantes were deporting the region's Armenians for allegedly sympathizing with the Russians. More than a million died on forced marches to Syria. Today, no Armenians remain in what was the cradle of Armenian culture since pre-Roman times.
I don't believe in ghosts. But maybe I believe in the spirit of a place. And in Ani, and all over ancient Armenia--now eastern Turkey--there's something missing. There's a feeling that the place has been abandoned by history, and by the people who made the place's history. Lately, though, the governments of both Turkey and Armenia have been feeling their way toward reconciliation. Turkey's refusal to acknowledge the 1915 massacres as genocide matters less to the Armenians of Armenia than it does to Armenian expatriates. The locals care much more about cross-border trade, cheaper electricity supplies, tourism--the nuts and bolts of daily life. And the elements of diplomacy have been falling into place: a friendly soccer match, an equally friendly return match, and presidential visits.
A few soccer matches don't efface the murder of a whole population from memory. But perhaps Ani supplies a clue as to how the future world might look. Ani's two greatest cathedrals served Christianity for less than 70 years before being converted to mosques by the Seljuks. But the Turkish conquerors left most churches as they were, side by side with new mosques. Like all the great trading cities of the medieval world, Ani was a promiscuous mix of faiths and peoples--a crossroads, a meeting point, a place of equal footing. Perhaps with the opening of the border, this corner of the world could start to become a crossroads again, instead of a lonely dead end.
Protocols For Relations Between Armenia and Turkey
To generate more discussion about the protocols that are meant to normalize relations between Armenian and Turkey, which are to be signed in about five weeks time then ratified by both Turkish and Armenian parliaments, I have taken it upon myself to list the points of the first protocol and criticize each one. The opinions expressed here are simply my own and do not represent the viewpoints of any political organization, public interest group, or media source, including Hetq Online which sponsors this blog.
What I am writing here is based simply on what I know, keeping in mind that I am certainly not a political analyst and have no background in political science. If you agree with what I write or find that I am outright mistaken, explain your views in the comments section. Also persuade others to read this post–the more discussion about this topic, the better.
I want to add that preconditions on the Turkish side do in fact exist in the first protocol. If you read the text carefully you will understand this.
Below is the text of the first protocol with my comments below each point in italics.
Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey
The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.
Desiring to establish good neighbourly relations and to develop bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, cultural and other fields for the benefit of their peoples, as envisaged in the Protocol on the development of relations signed on the same day.
“Good neighbourly relations” cannot be established between the two republics until the Turkish government and the people of Turkey officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. This must be a precondition of Armenia; it is not possible to forge relations with Turkey without this stipulation. You cannot trust your neighbor until he admits to committed wrongdoing, namely committing mass murder. It defies logic for Armenia to form friendly relations with Turkey on the basis of trust, mutual understanding and whatever other nonsense if Turkey will not recognize the Genocide, it’s very simple. Furthermore, Turkey has no right to exercise its influence on Armenian foreign policy, especially on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh dispute. This point suggests that it would.
Regarding economic relations, they already exist in one-sided trade– Turkish imports are everywhere in the Armenian marketplace, despite the fact that formal diplomatic relations do not exist. One of the main reasons for opening the border is to develop trade. Unfortunately, Armenia has nothing of interest to offer Turkey. Armenia’s industries have been crippled since independence, so it has nothing to produce that Turkey could ever want. Armenian importers are thus looking for a shorter route so it will not have to rely on Georgia’s road routes. However, there are no guarantees that the customs fees that Turkey imposes will not be higher than those paid at the Georgian border. There’s no telling how prices of imports will be affected. They can’t get much cheaper than they already are, that’s for certain. Even the price of European imports that enter Armenia via Turkey can’t possibly decrease—they aren’t that unaffordable for the middle class to begin with.
Let’s not forget the economic conditions of the rural parts of Armenia. Most areas outside Yerevan have seen little to no development since the fall of the Soviet Union. This is not the consequence of a closed border, rather it is the failure of the Armenian government to stimulate investment outside of Yerevan. It has nothing to do with cold relations between Armenia and Turkey. I don’t think the general financial situation of Armenia is as stable as the government makes it out to be, and I am sure that many others would tend to agree. Certainly the industrial sector is not up to par. Armenia seems to have plenty of power to sell Turkey, but a deal was already brokered in the beginning of the year before the framework was agreed upon in April.
Armenia should not even consider opening the border until it can stand strong financially on its own two feet first. As things stand today it is still crippled and it will remain so even if the border is opened.
Referring to their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations, the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe,
The Turkish republic must fulfill its outline of prerequisites in full so that it can be allowed the privilege of joining the European Union. One of those stipulations is for Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Twenty nations worldwide (including, ironically enough, Switzerland, which mediated these talks and the formation of the protocols) have recognized the Genocide. So has the European Parliament. So no protocols should be signed until the Armenian Genocide is recognized.
Here is a quote from Rep. Adam Schiff a democrat from California, who was the principal writer of the most recent Armenian Genocide resolution that went before Congress, addressing his concerns about the protocols: “True reconciliation between the Armenian and Turkish peoples will occur when Turkey acknowledges the genocide that was committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians from 1915-1923.”If US lawmakers believe this, why aren’t Armenian parliamentarians thinking along the same lines?
Reconfirming their commitment, in their bilateral and international relations, to respect and ensure respect for the principles of equality, sovereignty, non-intervention in internal affairs of other states, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers,
Turkey has no right to expect or insist on “respect and ensure respect for the principles of equality, sovereignty, non-intervention in internal affairs of other states, territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers” until it gets its own state of affairs in order. Turkey has been persecuting the Kurdish people (who are considered “Mountain Turks” by the Turkish government) for decades—perhaps centuries–and continues to do so. Turkey in its previous incarnation has also repressed Assyrians, Greeks and countless other minorities under its exercise of power and influence in the region.
Regarding territorial integrity, let’s start with resolving the question of land reparations to Armenians who were driven out from their homes early in the 20th century. Mutual respect between the two nations should start there.
Also, assuming that diplomatic relations are forged I find it hard to believe that Turkey will not stick its nose in Armenian politics. Turkey will need to ensure that its business and other interests—whatever those may be– are perpetually protected in Armenia, and it will need a government that is cooperative. Which means it will always pressure the Armenian leadership to play along or else. I don’t want to imagine what that ultimatum could be.
Bearing in mind the importance of the creation and maintenance of an atmosphere of trust and confidence between the two countries that will contribute to the strengthening of peace, security and stability of the whole region, as well as being determined to refrain from the threat of the use of force, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Again, there can be no “atmosphere of trust and confidence” unless the Turkish government recognizes the Armenian Genocide and addresses the issue of land reparations. In terms of being able “to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Turkey has a lot of work to do on that front having oppressed ethnic and religious minorities, oppositionists, journalists, writers, historians and so on for decades.
Let’s again remember the Kurdish issue. Most recently,Turkey has demonstrated its self-given right to cross the Iraqi border on more than one occasion in an effort to stamp out suspected Kurdish separatists under America’s watch. There is a considerable Yezidi Kurd presence in Armenia today—the Yezidis comprise the largest ethnic minority group in Armenia. Suppose Turkish intelligence received information that Kurdish separatists may be hiding in Armenia, for instance somewhere in the Aragatsotn region where Yezidi communities thrive. According to this point, Turkey will be able to very well exercise its right to maintaining “security and stability of the whole region” by blanket bombing scores of communities as it sees fit to eradicate separatist elements. Turkey has always resorted to using force against the Kurds in the past while Western nations turned a blind eye, thereby repeatedly refusing to intervene and prevent such actions. There’s no reason to believe that Turkey won’t do the same across its border with Armenia.
The last thing Armenia needs is to be under the political and possibly internationally perceived protective influence of Turkey in the years subsequent to establishing relations.
Confirming the mutual recognition of the existing border between the two countries as defined relevant treaties of international law,
The current border as defined by the Treaty of Kars in 1921 should not be accepted by the government of Republic of Armenia as being a viable line of demarcation that is in the long-term geostrategic interests of the Armenian nation and its economic development. Turkey must first decide how it will return historic Armenian lands to the control of the Armenian nation first. Then a dedicated, Armenian controlled land route must be established to the Black Sea. That route should preferably lie within Armenia’s borders. Armenia cannot have long-term economic or geostrategic stability without protected, dedicated internationally recognized land access to the Black Sea. The current border was negotiated by the Russians and Turks in 1921 without the territorial integrity of Armenia taken into consideration. The Armenian side was essentially forced by the Bolsheviks to sign the treaty.
The deliberation for redrawing the borders must happen now since another chance in the short-term future will not arise again. The Armenian side must not accept the current border as being absolute; there should be discussion at some point about the return of the lands lying across the border to Armenian control, and this point should allow for that leeway. Let’s start with the return of the Kars district first.
The way things stand now, Armenia is much better off with a closed border simply because it is not wholly reliant on Turkey economically speaking. One-sided trade between the two countries is flourishing quite nicely via Georgia, and there’s no stopping it. So I don’t understand what this point has to do with the border opening. This point is clearly a precondition on Turkey’s part.
Emphasizing their decisions to open the common border,
The border is already open, albeit virtually. Armenians have full access to Turkish goods as things stand. Armenia’s economy is holding steady, despite reports issued by the Central Bank of Armenia that the GDP has shrunk by umpteen percentage points. So one has to wonder what exactly the point of having an open border is all about. If it is to promote additional economic growth in Armenia, that can happen only when Armenia is strong enough on its own two feet, which it is not. Most of the country is underdeveloped because of a lack of investment. Perhaps the Armenian government foresees that Turkish investors will develop the regions of Armenia that need help the most. In that case, Turkish businessmen will need to buy up whatever Armenia industry exists and build it up further (or else dismantle it, forcing Armenian laborers to migrate to Turkey or elsewhere). It will also need the land to do so, thus countless hectares would need to be bought as well. In the process Armenian businesses could be bought out, and Armenian oligarchs could easily fall under the control of their wealthier Turkish counterparts. Turkish foodstuffs will undoubtedly hit Armenian store shelves as well for the first time. I can’t see how Armenian producers of consumer goods will be able to compete. What about tourism? Check that off as well—Armenians are already going to Antalya in droves for vacationing. An open border will make visits to Western Armenian sites less problematic from Yerevan for sure.
But how does that help Armenia?
Again, the border has to be redrawn before it’s opened. The border as it exists today is not in Armenia’s long-term geostrategic interests, there are no concrete indicators to show that Armenia will benefit from an opened border. On the contrary, an opened border will not boost Armenia’s economy any further, but will only harm it in the long term. Eventually Armenia would solely become dependent on the Turkish economy with an open border. All it would need is a recession to hit and Armenia’s socioeconomic development will flounder as a result. Turkey could always close the border again if it ever feels the need to for political reasons, just as it did back in 1993 when showing support for Azerbaijan during the Nagorno-Karabagh war. There is no reason to trust Turkey unless Armenia can manage without it. And the only way Armenia could do so is to have dedicated, controlled access to the Black Sea.
Reiterating their commitment to refrain from pursuing any policy incompatible with the spirit of good neighbourly relations,
Anyone who has read a single book about Armenian history will know that historically there have always been rocky relations between the Turks and Armenians. Troubles didn’t start in the 20th century naturally; they’ve been going on for centuries, ever since the Seljuk Turks first showed their faces in these parts. The Turks have always pursued anti-Armenian policies “incompatible with the spirit of good neighbourly relations.” They still do. Every time a resolution to formerly recognize the Armenian Genocide pops up for a vote in the US Congress, it is always shot down at the last minute under Turkish pressure. A row between Turkey and France ensued after France accepted the Armenian Genocide a few years back. Economic relations were soured for six months, then everything went back to normal.
The Turks don’t give a damn about the Armenians, they never did and they never will. Opened borders on the western and eastern Armenian frontiers will facilitate easier road transportation between Azerbaijan and Turkey, who are soul brothers in propagating hate and aversion against Armenians. An open border is not going to smooth things over. It’s just good for business, but against the long-term interests of Armenia economically, politically, and especially, culturally. After all, Armenians are prone to assimilate, with many born in the US being proof-positive of that. I’ve heard South American communities are also struggling with assimilation. Why would it be different on Armenian soil?
Condemning all forms of terrorism, violence and extremism irrespective of their cause, pledging to refrain from encouraging and tolerating such acts and to cooperate against them,
This is perhaps the most ironic, outright hypocritical point in this protocol. Turkey must cease repressive actions against all peoples, citizens or otherwise, living within its borders first and foremost. They include but are not limited to ethnic and religious minorities, oppositionists, journalists (have we forgotten Hrant Dink?), writers, historians and so on and so forth. In this point Turkey must specifically be kept in check that if relations are forged and the border is opened, its military will have no legal mandate to cross Armenia’s borders or air space for conducting military operations. Such a stipulation must be endorsed by Western powers as well as Russia. Armenia cannot be a party to any kind of military aggression against suspected Kurdish separatists, no matter where they may be hiding. Turkey must set a precedent that it is willing to condemn” all forms of terrorism, violence and extremism irrespective of their cause” on its own soil before Armenians can trust it, plain and simple. Turkey can start by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Affirming their willingness to chart a new pattern and course for their relations on the basis of common interests, goodwill and in pursuit of peace, mutual understanding and harmony,
Once again, Turkey must recognize the Armenian Genocide and be prepared to give both financial and land reparations to the Armenian nation in the spirit of “goodwill and in pursuit of peace, mutual understanding and harmony.” The inclusion of this point in the protocol is actually surreal, not to mention outright absurd. If Turkey refuses to accept that it committed genocide and cannot guarantee that it will not commit acts of terror against the Armenian nation ever again, what concept of harmony and understanding is this point referring to? This point defies logic and the reality that exists today.
Decades of Armenian ill-sentiment and hostility towards Turks will not evaporate with this juvenile article that only mocks the angst that genocide survivors and their descendants have been made to endure for 94 years. Who are the Turks kidding here?
Agree to establish diplomatic relations as of the date of the entry into force of this Protocol accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and to exchange Diplomatic Missions.
This Protocol and the Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey shall enter into force on the same day, i.e. on the first day of the first month following of instruments of ratification.
Diplomatic relations cannot be established between Armenia and Turkey at this juncture for the reasons indicated in my comments concerning each point of this protocol.
Signed in (place) on (date) in Armenian, Turkish and English languages authentic copies in duplicate. In case of divergence of interpretation, the English text shall prevail.
For the Republic of Armenia
For the Republic of Turkey
It is obvious that this protocol is meant to thwart Turkey’s internationally anticipated recognition of the Armenian Genocide. By agreeing to these perceived acts of goodwill and cooperation put forth by the Swiss, Turkey is essentially tricking both naïve Armenians and the West that it is sincere in developing lasting, friendly relations with Armenia. I don’t believe that is the case at all. The Turks have always wanted to get rid of the Armenians; that was what they intended to do 94 years ago. But with the border opened, the Turks may finally be able to succeed with Armenian emigration, assimilation and incompetent governance in gear to facilitate their goal.
In the next post I will critique the second protocol and summarize my opinions.
Protocols For Relations Between Armenia and Turkey, Pt. 2
Below is the full text of the second protocol slated to be signed by authorities from Turkey and Armenia in five weeks time. Many of these points seem to be repeated from the first protocol, which I criticized in my previous post.
Protocol on Development of Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.
The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey.
Guided by the Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey signed on the same day,
Considering the perspectives of developing their bilateral relations, based on confidence and respect to their mutual interests,
Determining to develop and enhance their bilateral relations, in the political, economic, energy, transport, scientific, technical, cultural issues and other fields, based on common interest of both countries,
Supporting the promotion of the cooperation between the two countries, in the international and regional organi9zations, especially within the framework of the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the BSEC,
Taking into account the common purpose of both States to cooperate for enchancimg [stet] regional stability and security for ensuring the democratic and sustainable development of the region,
Reiterating their commitment to the peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes and the conflicts on the basis of the norms and principles of law,
Reaffirming their readiness to actively support the actions of eth international community in addressing common security threats to the region and world security and stability, such as terrorism, transnational organized crimes, illicit trafficking of drugs and arms,
1. Agree to open the common border within 2 months after the entry into force of this Protocol,
What is the rush? Let’s assume that the protocols are signed and ratified by the Armenian and Turkish parliaments and that Armenians and Turks are all happy about it. Why should the border open so soon? What about the logistics behind opening it, trade regulations, legal issues, transportation fees and so forth? First and foremost, diplomatic relations would need to be formalized, embassies would have to be established and staffed, administrative matters would need to be planned and enacted. There is a lot of work to do beforehand. How much can realistically be accomplished within only eight weeks?
2. Agree to conduct regular political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries;
implement a dialogue on the historical dimension with the aim to restore mutual confidence between the two nations, including an impartial scientific examination of the historical records and archives to define existing problems and formulate recommendations;
make the best possible use of existing transport, communications and energy infrastructure and networks between the two countries, and to undertake measures in this regard;
develop the bilateral legal framework in order to foster cooperation between the two countries;
cooperate in the fields of science and education by encouraging relations between the appropriate institutions as well as promoting the exchange of specialists and students, and act with the aim of preserving the cultural heritage of both sides and launching common cultural projects;
establish consular cooperation in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 in order to provide necessary assistance and protection to the citizens of the two countries;
take concrete measures in order to develop trade, tourism and economic cooperation between the two countries;
engage in a dialogue and reinforce their cooperation on environmental issues.
The first paragraph of this point is naturally the most controversial of both protocols. It calls for establishing a joint historical commission of Turkish and Armenian “experts,” whether they will be historians or people from other professional backgrounds is not clear, which will essentially determine what exactly took place in the beginning of the 20th century, in the spirit of goodwill, forging friendly relations, and so forth. In other words, they will deliberate whether the Armenian Genocide actually happened by studying documents while sipping Turkish coffee I assume. President Sarkisian has been putting a spin on this issue, claiming that the Armenian Genocide is a fact that cannot be disputed, but it wouldn’t hurt to discuss the topic with Turkey in a gesture of good will. This information has been circulating in the press several times in recent months so it’s nothing new.
For this very point alone both protocols should be rejected. The Armenian authorities should not even bother returning to the table. There’s enough debate going around in public circles both in Armenia and the diaspora finding this point to be unacceptable. It defies logic for the Armenian government to agree on deliberating with anyone about whether the events of 1915-1923 constituted genocide. If Armenia is claiming that the genocide topic is hands off, then it naturally should not discuss the issue with denialists. Genocide happened, it was committed by the Turks against the Armenians, and this has been accepted time and time again by historians, including Turkish ones (who are in exile because of it). Twenty nations have acknowledged the Genocide. American congressmen have been advocating for decades that the Armenian Genocide be recognized by the US executive and legislative branches. What is there to talk about?
3. Agree on the establishment of an intergovernmental bilateral commission which shall comprise separate sub-commissions for the prompt implementation of the commitments mentioned in operational paragraph 2 above in this Protocol. To prepare the working modalities of the intergovernmental commission and its sub-commissions, a working group headed by the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs shall be created 2 months after the day following the entry into force of this Protocol. Within 3 months after the entry into force of this Protocol, these modalities shall be approved at ministerial level. The intergovernmental commission shall meet for the first time immediately after the adoption of the said modalities. The sub-commissions shall start their work at the latest 1 month thereafter and they shall work continuously until the completion of their mandates. The timetable and elements agreed by both sides for the implementation of this Protocol are mentioned in the annexed document, which is integral part of this Protocol.
This Protocol and the Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Turkey shall enter into force on the same day, i.e. on the first day of the first month following the exchange of instruments of ratification.
Signed in (place) on (date) in Armenian, Turkish and English authentic copies in duplicate. In case of divergence of interpretation, the English text shall prevail.
For the Republic of Armenia
For the Republic of Turkey
There is also an “annexed document” indicating a timeline of events that are to take place after the protocols are signed, the first being the opening of the border. The border should open within a two-month period after having signed the protocols, even before the commission and various sub-commissions are formed to work out the logistics of opening he border, which is dangerous and totally irresponsible in my opinion. Then again, the intentions of these protocols are dubious to begin with.
Summing up, no further discussions about establishing diplomatic relations should be held at all until Turkey recognizes that it committed genocide against the Armenian people. You cannot have mutual trust and understanding without resolving this issue once and for all from the start, and it is preposterous to believe that this issue should be separated from deliberations to normalize relations. The Armenian Genocide issue is a political one now, it is not something for historians to deliberate on any longer—that’s already been done. Turkey has to understand this and repent for its unleashed calamity, then discussions about understanding and mutual trust can be held. If these protocols are signed using this verbiage, there will never be any way of pressuring Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide again.
Secondly, the border between Armenia and Turkey cannot ever be opened before the Nagorno-Karabagh issue is finally resolved. It would be irresponsible for the Armenian leadership to endorse the initiatives outlined in both protocols, not to mention an absolute foreign policy disaster, before a peace agreement is signed. They are two distinct, entirely separate issues that cannot be lumped together to establish peace in the region. Armenia was at war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, not with Turkey. And Armenia does not demonstrate antagonism towards Turkey, not when trips to Antalya are promoted on billboards in Yerevan and Turkish goods are purchased in tons per week. The two issues cannot be combined into an all-inclusive package deal for developing relations with Armenia’s neighbors, they need to be negotiated upon and resolved separately and conclusively.
Armenians worldwide cannot let these protocols be approved in five weeks. Armenia has a lot to lose in these protocols, first and foremost the satisfaction of Armenian Genocide recognition by Turkey. Armenia cannot refuse its right to claim lands by accepting the current border as being an absolute line of demarcation. Once these documents are signed, there can never be any further discussion about the return of historic Armenian lands, before the topic has even been opened.
Millions of Armenians since the dawn of the 20th century have struggled for a set of principles and ideals that are well known as the Armenian Cause. It has been fought in countless forums and stages—from the battlefront at Sardarabad in 1918 to classrooms in Massachusetts where students learn about the Armenian Genocide as part of the school curriculum. Tens of thousands died during the Nagorno-Karabagh war to secure the self-determination of Armenians living there. Activists worldwide still campaign for realizing the cause, mostly by persuading governments and various official or non-governmental bodies of influence to recognize the Armenian Genocide as a factual, historic event. There are also discussions now and then about making valid claims for the return of Western Armenian lands controlled by Turkey to this day. Their efforts have been fantastic and the Armenians have enjoyed much success in having their case heard globally, especially in the US and Europe in recent years. All of that is about to go down the drain. With the signing of these protocols the Armenian Cause will be effectively dead for the reasons I have already mentioned in my comments.
Armenians have to decide what they want out of their own future as a nation in pursuit of receiving due justice for past tragedies that it had been made to endure time and time again. At present, the fate of the Armenian nation is in its own hands, and it is a make or break moment. The cause cannot die, not when we still have the chance to save it.
Still Trying To Comprehend The Logic Not To Keep Repeating Myself, But Nevertheless…
There’s been mixed opinions being vocalized by political parties about the agreements that are planned to be signed in the next six weeks. It is expected that two separate documents will be signed then passed on to the parliaments of both Turkey and Armenia for ratification. The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu even suggested in an interview that if all goes well the border could possibly open by the end of the year.
The reaction on the political front to the recent developments has been somewhat surprising. Levon Ter-Petrossian, the leader of Armenain National Congress, has effectively endorsed the agreements calling them a step forward in Turkish-Armenian relations, although back in April he was very critical of the framework—on which these protocols are based—claiming that the Armenian side was about to make concessions on vital Armenian interests. Now he taking the exact opposite stance, claiming that the new round of discussions is necessary for developing lucrative relations between Armenia and Turkey while maintaining peace in the region. His flip-flopping on the issue doesn’t make sense.
The ARF-Dashnaktsutiun has been making a lot of noise by holding rallies in Yerevan and denouncing the protocols. They claim (and I agree) that they are a blow to the Armenian cause. I will take it one step further to state that if the border opens without Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide along with the stipulation that the borders of the Treaty of Kars be formally accepted by Armenia, the Armenian cause will effectively be dead. Despite the ARF’s strong criticism, its leadership is not advocating that President Sarkisian resign from his post, claiming that it is not logical if it is still possible to persuade the Armenian diplomatic team to walk away from the negotiating table. Yet it seems to me that the president is not about to cancel the talks or agreements to appease Armenian nationalists and public opinion. So I don’t understand why the party doesn’t step up its efforts to thwart the forthcoming signing of the protocols.
Based on the look of things on the ground, Armenians don’t seem that concerned about the border being opened. People I have spoken to are either optimistic about diplomatic relations with Turkey or see it as a detriment to Armenia’s self-reliance and stability (which I also agree with). With the status quo Armenia is arguably more stable than it would be with the protocols in place for certain. If concessions are made all in Azerbaijan’s favor in a foreseen package deal with forging diplomatic relations, Armenia will only lose, it won’t gain anything.
Like I’ve said before—the Armenian economy has been flourishing with a closed border, which for all intents and purposes was already opened long ago since all imported goods from Turkey, cheap and plentiful, are trucked in through Georgia.
It is mind boggling to see the vast amount of cars on the Armenian roads–there are tens (probably hundreds) of thousands of registered vehicles out there. Expensive boutique chain stores keep opening for business. At some cafes you have to pay a 3,000 dram fee to sit on sofas in the “VIP” section.
Meanwhile, development projects, some of the new, are continuing despite reports in recent months that the sector has taken a sharp downturn. Plus, the banking sector is stable and solid, according to the Central Bank. If those are not signs of economic progress I don’t know what are. All this while the regions continue to stagnate save for the regional administrative towns and cities. I just can’t imagine things changing much economically speaking with an open border, especially with one-sided trade. Armenians have never had it so good.
And I don’t understand for the life of me why Armenia does not attach the precondition that Turkey accept the Armenian Genocide as a fact of its own history. Turkey must not be permitted to get away with not recognizing the genocide in these negotiations—there is no logic in allowing this to happen.
To put things into perspective, how would a person sit at a table with his neighbor to reconcile his differences when it has already been established and accepted by various law authorities that the same neighbor–who continues to deny any wrongdoing on his part and belittles his accuser—savagely butchered his entire family? The Armenian diplomatic team is effectively doing just that—it is willing to put the genocide issue aside to establish relations with its neighbor, the same that has adamantly and mockingly denied its indisputable role in committing mass killings. In the process President Sarkisian shiningly satisfies his own ego while Turkey moves several steps closer to joining the European Union without the need to come to terms with its own history of spreading hate and committing mass-scale murder.
And Armenia gets nothing in return—no claims to historic lands, no reparations, no justice while genocide denial continues unabated. Strange times we are living in.
Armenia-Turkey: Debate Over Border Opening Becomes Even More Diverse, Gayane Abrahamyan Armenianow Reporter 09 September, 2009
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) resident representative in Armenia stated on Wednesday that the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border will have a positive influence upon the development of Armenia’s import and the rise of its level of competitiveness.
“In case of opening the border Armenia will get more competitive resources, and it will become a good stimulus for the economy,” says Nienke Oomes.
Meanwhile, Armenian economists insist on the opposite, saying that the local production that is still in the phase of development will not be able to stand the competitiveness of Turkish goods.
“Currently the domestic production goes through a serious decline in Armenia; and under such conditions when the volumes of import are seven times more than those of the export, competition with Turkish producers who have serious capital and market will simply be impossible,” says professor Tatul Manaseryan, adviser to the Speaker of the National Assembly on Economic Issues.
According to the data of the National Statistics Service, about 25 percent of Armenia’s imports are from Turkey. Meanwhile, economist Narine Mkrtchyan predicts if the border is open, the prices of the goods imported from Turkey will decrease, and domestic production will not be competitive with Turkish goods.
Economist Ara Nranyan, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dashnaktsutyun parliamentary faction, believes that the opening of the border will have more negative than positive effects on the economy of Armenia.
“The economy in Armenia is not ready yet, and it will not be able to confront future possible problems,” Nranyan adds.
Meanwhile, Vardan Ayvazyan, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly, says that “one should at least be blind not to notice the economic prospective of the Armenian-Turkish border opening, and the possibility of economic growth.”
“Of course, there is the threat of Turkish economic expansion, but it is possible to neutralize them by means of legislation, the conditions of the World Trade Organization, the implementation of goods’ standardization and customs duties,” Ayvazyan says.
Goods from Turkey anyway make their way to Armenia.
It is the ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT's policies that are stifling the growth of the manufacturing sector in Armenia. Let's be realistic. Decreasing the cost of transit of these goods through Georgian territory will pass on the cost savings to the consumer.
Armenia's oligarchy anyway is stifling internal growth since they make much of their money from import monopolies.
- Aram, 2009-09-09
"The economy in Armenia is not ready yet, and it will not be able to confront future possible problems."
Is this the best analysis these "politicians" / "experts" can make?
How about some hard numbers and deep analyses, rather than emotion-oriented proclamations?
- Aram, 2009-09-09
Open Letter To Paul Theroux On His Latest Book “Ghost Train To The Eastern Star,” On The Tracks Of The Great Railway Bazaar
I read the first 5 sections of your new book while stuck at home during the worst rain storm that hit Istanbul, the town that you have written about and seem to like very much. It is a very interesting book like many that you have written before, including the Great Railway Bazaar which is re-created in the new book with additional comments. I had read Great Railway Bazaar in 1988 while working in Atlanta, Georgia, more then 21 years ago and will keep referring to it as I read the “Ghost Train” which may take some time.. However, I would like to point out several issues with your book now, which are quite bothersome and puts you in the same category of authors who tell only one side of the stories.
The first of thirty two chapters of “Ghost Train” is on the Eurostar and the second chapter on the Orient Express, which incidentally was in Istanbul just last week, despite the rumours that it will be discontinued. In Chapter three, the Ferry to Besiktas, you write about Orhan Pamuk and refer to his book “Istanbul” and his comments on the Armenians and the Kurds. Then on page 43, you make the following statement:
“The massacre of Armenians a century ago, the later expulsion of Greeks, and the Kurdish outrages and Turkish reprisals are lamentable facts of Turkish history; still, no city in Asia is so self-consciously reform-minded.”
First, dear Paul, don’t you think you should have also mentioned the Armenian rebellions and uprisings all over eastern Anatolia and the massacre of Turks by the Armenians which resulted in the death of Armenians as well when many Armenians revolted against their government with the support of the British Empire, the French the Russians and others. I would recommend you to watch a documentary called “Revolt” that will show you the other side of the Story. The Greeks invaded Anatolia in 1919 and the Greeks of Anatolia joined the Greek army in the devastation of cities and the massacre of Turks across western Anatolia which resulted in the population exchange of Greeks, not expulsions. I am sure you are aware of the thousands of killings by the Kurdish terrorists since 1984 which took the lives of 7 soldiers just two days ago.
In the following paragraph you state:
“This (Istanbul) is the most easily negotiated and hospitable cities in the world makes me a mild Turkophile”.
Well, why then don’t you tell the truth about the Armenian, Greek and Kurdish issues. Are you afraid that your book will not sell or censored by the well-oiled Armenian and Greek diaspora in America.
In the next chapter 4, “Night Train to Ankara” you write about your encounter with Prof. Talat Halman, the Culture man of Turkey. I am glad you were enlightened on some aspects of Turkish issues thanks to Prof. Halman.
It is a pity that you had to take a bus from Ankara to Trabzon instead of taking a train from Ankara to Erzurum and bus on to Trabzon. This trip in train carriages made in Turkey (which you do not mention in your book) would have given you a chance to stop in Sivas where Ataturk held a conference on September 4 1919 during his incredible trip from Samsun to Ankara which lay the foundation of the Turkish Republic. A visit to Ataturk’s Mosaleum in Ankara would have also helped you to really understand Turkey, which you have not mentioned in your book, a monument like no other in the world. You mention Elif Safak with affection and state that you had her book with you during the journey, which is fine. I read many of her books, including “Baba ve Pic”, which I did not care for and wrote to her about it. But how about Merry Lee Settle’s “Turkish Reflections”, a book that very traveller to Turkey should read. Also, “The Birds Without Wings” by Lous Bergier which tells the story of the Greeks and Armenians in turkey truthfully. Of course the book by Gazi Mustafa kemal Ataturk himself, “Nutuk – The Speech.” If you had read these books, you would not have made the statement on page 43.
In a review of your book, “Riding the Iron Rooster”, Mark Salzman wrote on June 19, 1988 that, although you saw every corner of the country (China), apparently didn’t make any Chinese friends. Having read many of your books (27 fiction and 14 nonfiction – book of criticism on V.S. Naiapul is something else altogether), I can also state that you have made friends with the wrong people in Turkey except Talat Halman, one of my and many Turk’s hero.
I hope you will consider revising the above paragraph because they do not tell the whole story and come and stay longer to really understand this nation of Turks better.