- Taner Akcam: Turkish Policy Of Denial
- Kasbarian: Armenian Government Has Crossed A Major Line
- Life Of Armenian Icon, Through His Own Words, Interview With Armen Keteyian
- What About Javakhk? Interview With Georgian Parliamentarian, Armen Bayandouryan
- Normalization Of Armenia-Turkey Ties Will Take Years: Links Executive Director
Taner Akcam: Turkish Policy Of Denial Is A Strategy Of Buying Time Ruzan Khachatryan, "Radiolur" 16.09.2009
There are two separate problems between Turkey and Armenia. You could define the first as the normalization of relations and the second as the problem of reconciliation as a result of what occurred in history. These two problems should be dealt with entirely separately, and normalization of relations should be achieved immediately, without any precondition," Taner Akcam, who holds the chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, said in an interview with daily Taraf.
"The establishment of diplomatic relations should follow the opening of the borders. Azerbaijan should be made to understand that its objections are unjustified and that the normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia is in its own interest also," he said.
As for turning the discussion to the problems related to history, Taner Akcam notes the late Hrant Dink would say, "The real problem is the normalization of relations and the opening of borders. Without that, you can't solve any problem."
The interview was reproduced by the Armenian Reporter today with Professor Akcam's permission.
Professor Akcam does not believe that either Armenia or international circles will accept the formation of a commission based upon the recommendation of the Turkish government to "research the claims of Agenocide." "This idea is based on some false presumptions. First of all is a presumption that operates from an idea that there is an unknown out there, and that if historians were to get together and publish what they knew, this unknown would disappear. In fact, this is not the case, either for the Armenians or for the international academic world. What we have before us is Turkey's policy of denial.
According to the professor, the subject bears a close resemblance to the Kurdish issue. "For 90 years, Turkey claimed that there were no Kurds, and that these people were really Turks who happened to live in the mountains. Telling Kurds today, "Let's form a commission and study the problem scientifically, and if the commission determines that Kurds do exist, we'll move forward from there," makes about as much sense as saying, "We will accept the decision of a commission formed for the purpose of making a decision on the events of 1915."
"Secondly, this belief rests on a false presumption that if the commission were formed and a conclusion were reached, everyone would agree and accept that conclusion. Neither Armenians nor the interested academic world expects or needs this," he said.
If the job of examining the archives is given to a future commission or commissions, isn't there a danger that finding a solution to the problem gets postponed even further?
"This is in fact a ve ry possible risk. The now 90-year-long Turkish policy of denial is in reality, a strategy of buying time. This strategy is what is behind pouring millions of dollars into Washington lobbyists. Every time the question is on the agenda, what's been said is, "Let's get past this headache one more time. We'll pay any price now and think about it later." If Turkey tries to link the resolution of the problem to research conclusions of the commission or commissions to be formed, then it falls right into this "buying time" playbook,"
Accoridng to the professor, the enlightenment of Turkish society is a priority; to help people who have been spoon-fed lies for over 90 years learn the truth. "Society's lack of information and the need to address that is a priority. In order to do that, you need candid and free discourse on the subject. I have my doubts that this can be achieved without rescinding Article 301 of the Turkish Criminal Code. There are intellectuals among us who are still being prosecuted and punished for using the word "genocide." Before you start forming commissions, you need to remove the obstacles that prevent an honest and open discourse."
"Of course you can form commissions. Those commissions could be bestowed with the duty of creating the kind of atmosphere that will lay the groundwork for a positive reception, by each country's public opinion, to a resolution. The most fundamental=2 0problem is the creation of trust. The commissions should really be formed not to come to a conclusion about history but to create trust between the two countries. Starting with the parliaments of each respective country, commissions that would oversee various organizations should be formed on the civil society level, and these commissions should endeavor to promote mutual understanding and growing trust between these societies," Taner Akcam said.
Kasbarian: The Armenian Government Has Crossed a Major Line, September 17, 2009
The Hairenik and Armenian Weeklies this week conducted an interview with ARF Eastern U.S. Central Committee chairperson Antranig Kasbarian on the recent developments in Turkey-Armenia relations. Below is the full-transcript of the interview.
Armenian Weekly—How do you explain the recent developments in Turkey-Armenia relations?
Antranig Kasbarian—For many years since its independence, Armenia has faced pressure—primarily from the West—to “get on with it,” that is, to develop good neighborly relations with its traditional enemies, Turkey and Azerbaijan. In the development of such relations, there has always been a price tag attached: Turkey wants certain well-known concessions in return for opening the border, Azerbaijan wants other well-known concessions in return for lifting its blockade, and so on. But while Armenia has faced pressure to accept these terms, it has managed, for the most part, to avoid doing so. This is partly due to Armenia’s own diplomatic maneuvers. But above all, it is due to the geopolitics of the Caucasus region and beyond. Whenever the West sought to extract concessions, Russia loomed large as a counterbalance, often neutralizing diplomatic and other offensives that would have seriously weakened Armenia.
Unfortunately for Armenia, today Russia isn’t playing the same role it did previously. Relations with the U.S. have begun to thaw and Russia seeks to neutralize Georgia as a factor in the Caucasus, while at the same time wooing Turkey to develop greater economic and security cooperation with Moscow. As a result, Russia hasn’t always countered the pressure placed upon Armenia. In fact, at times it has reinforced it. This development helps explain the rapid rise of “football diplomacy” and its ilk during the past year.
This forms the backdrop to recent developments, in which Armenia has sought an opening of the border with Turkey, for which Turkey appears to have placed three conditions: a) creating a joint mechanism to re-evaluate Armeno-Turkish history, which naturally includes the Genocide issue; b) gain Armenia’s formal acknowledgement of its borders, thereby upholding the dispossession of Western Armenia; and c) use the border opening as leverage in promoting a Karabagh settlement that is to Azerbaijan’s liking. So far, it appears that Turkey is winning the battle, as it has used this process to temporarily sideline Armenian Genocide recognition here in the U.S., while gradually gaining Armenia’s consent to concessions that may irreparably harm the Armenian Cause as well as Armenia’s own national security.
A.W.—There is constant talk about the great economic benefits of opening the border with Turkey. What are you thoughts on that matter?
A.K.—We often hear that Armenia is a landlocked country with few reliable neighbors, and how open borders will stimulate Armenia’s economy. These are truisms, but they lack any serious research as to how Armenia stands to be affected. Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Davit Lokyan, a member of the ARF Bureau and formerly Armenia’s minister of agriculture, who headed a committee that researched this matter and found the contrary: Armenia’s economy, without significant advance planning, was likely to suffer as a result of the border opening. He gave a variety of reasons for this, but the main reason was that Turkey is simply better prepared for this eventuality—subsidizing large sectors of its economy, particularly agriculture, that would likely end up competing with Armenia. This finding leads me to worry that beneath the slogans, Armenia’s government hasn’t done its homework.
A.W.—There is wide consensus that the protocols are damaging to the Armenian cause. Is Armenia between a rock and a hard place?
A.K.—Of course they are damaging. Look, no one expects Armenia to engage in suicidal confrontations with Turkey, but this degree of silence is simply unexplainable. Armenians worldwide do expect their government to affirm and stand by the historical realities, especially at a time when we’re being pressured to give them up. And it’s not just a matter of morals; clearly, Turkey is placing various preconditions upon Armenia, seeking to probe and exploit its weaknesses. Where is the corresponding pushback? I don’t see it. Armenia’s diplomacy has been alarmingly passive and compliant.
A.W.—A few days after the protocols were made public, news surfaced that Turkey is going to launch a new lobbying initiative in the west, which also includes lobbying against Armenian Genocide recognition…
A.K.—I see this as a logical move on Turkey’s part: When your moves aren’t being contested, why not ask for more? Turkey sees that Armenia’s behaving passively, so it periodically makes moves that are provocative, basically to see how far it can go. We’ve seen other, similar acts in recent months: Recall Ankara’s official protest to Obama on April 24, immediately following his statement that failed to properly acknowledge the genocide. Turkey should have been delighted with Obama’s statement, but no, they weren’t taking any chances. They went and protested the statement for not having gone far enough! Apparently, Obama angered them because he failed to make mention of those Turks who had been massacred by Armenians in 1915! Outrageous as this appears, such a move is a bold stroke of diplomacy—always asking for more than you have. Armenia has taken the opposite position, always seemingly contented with whatever meager provisions are offered it.
A.W.—The Turkish government continues to reiterate that the protocols will only be implemented when Azerbaijan’s concerns are addressed. What do you make of this position?
A.K.—Of course, such moves jeopardize the whole process. To begin, Turkey’s statements reflect its ultimate lack of good faith in this whole process. Of course, this jeopardizes the whole process. If Ankara were truly interested in improving bilateral ties, it would keep its side-discussions with Azerbaijan quiet. Ankara knows how sensitive this issue is for Armenia. The fate of Karabagh is not only symbolic, but holds the key to Armenia’s national security. The fact that Turkey constantly brings these into public discussion means that it isn’t fully serious about the rapprochement process and that, frankly speaking, Turkey can do without normalization. In evaluating the rhetoric, one gets the sense that Armenia wants this agreement more than Turkey does. The Turks can take it or leave it, if it’s not to their liking. If I were an Armenian policymaker, I would cringe at this state of affairs, where we’re negotiating but everyone knows that we’re dying to make this deal. In negotiating situations, that is the “kiss of death.”
A.W.—Will the waves of protest in Armenia and the diaspora be able to stop these protocols from being implemented?
A.K.—This is the $64,000 question! All I can say is this: For months, we’ve heard that the Armenian government is under enormous pressure to come to terms with Turkey. If such pressure comes from above, where is the corresponding pressure from below? If there is none from below, then it’s natural to expect Yerevan to soften or retreat in some way. The only way to keep our authorities honest and accountable is to pressure them: They must feel somehow that they will take a hit if they make this move. We can’t simply try to educate our authorities, explaining repeatedly why such protocols are dangerous. We need to make them take notice. This means making noise, and it also means making bold, unprecedented decisions. For example, I welcome the tentative noises coming from Yerevan, where people wonder what might happen if the ARF, Armenian National Congress, Heritage Party, and others possibly come together to combat these moves by the government. That, in my view, will create a stir and certainly will be cause for concern by the authorities. Let’s not forget that President Sarkisian faced a severe challenge to his legitimacy only 18 months ago, and is very sensitive to the shifting tides of public opinion.
A.W.—Many Armenian Americans are concerned about the protocols and they reject them. However, some feel uneasy about demonstrating in front of the Armenian Mission on Sept. 19. To ease those concerns, can you elaborate more on the specific purpose of the demonstration? Against whom is the protest being held? And why was this specific venue chosen?
A.K.—Let me be clear: This is not about some ordinary disagreement. These protocols represent an advanced stage, perhaps the final stage, in Turkey’s effort to bury our national demands—the Armenian Cause, most broadly. When fundamental issues are now put on the block (i.e. creating committees that could question the genocide’s incontrovertible nature, i.e. affirming Turkey’s current borders which are based on genocide and dispossession), the time for niceties has passed. In our view, the Armenian government has crossed a major line here. The authorities, not the ARF, should be the ones worried about proprieties at this stage.
On a more practical note, let me say this: We are facing a momentous stage in our national history, and there may be only weeks until these protocols are up for signing. Our valuable time should be spent in convincing our own government—through all means necessary—that this move would betray Armenia’s fundamental interests. We don’t have time to convince the Turks, the Swiss, the Americans, whose interests lie somewhere else. Our only hope is to convince our own government and public. If we fail to do all that we can, and find later that the worst has been realized, how will we react then? Will we say, “It’s really terrible what has happened, but at least we behaved politely with our authorities”? No. At a time when the knife has reached the bone, we must be guided by our larger principles. It’s imperative that we stand up for what is right. Yes, even by publicly confronting our own government. This is not sacrilege. Rather, it’s a reflection of how far Armenia has strayed, how much its policies and positions have deteriorated.
By David on September 17th, 2009
The above interview is a breath of fresh air.
The Armenian Cause is going to die a sure death, and very soon, if these Protocols are passed. And it appears that they WILL be passed. I am not sure if even the Diaspora and its political partes truly realize that.
The Armenian president and his parliament were all elected under circumstances of fraudulent elections, banned candidates, and media repression and intimidation.
This means that the leadership of Armenia is illegtimate and does not have the legal or moralauthority to negotiate the Protocols or ratify them.
It is not acceptable to say “But this is the only government we have.” If the government is illegitimate, it must go, and its decisions must be declared null and void.
It is incumbent upon Armenian political parties and the Armenian people to state clearly that the Protocols are unacceptable and that any attempt by the Armenian authorities to ratify them is null and void. I refer especially to the ARF. If this is done, the major powers and Turkey will have good reason to realize that passage of the Protocols is useless.
The fact that a “law” or bill is passed, no matter where or under what circumstances, does not mean that the law is legitimate and must be obeyed. The Ottoman parliament in the 1915 era passed all sorts of laws that took property and life away from Ottoman Armenian citizens. Do we now look at those laws and say “Oh, yes, Armenians had to obey the law and be death-marched into the desert because it was illegal to escape.” ? Of course we don’t.
Am I saying that the present Armenian government is like the Ottoman government of 1915 and that Armenian “laws” do not have to be obeyed? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
Lots of countries pass repressive and illegitimate laws that people are clearly not going to obey, nor should they. Did George Washington obey the laws and edicts of King George of England? Of course not.
The illegitimacy of “president” Sargsian and his phony “parliament” must be stated now, and it must be stated clearly. Opposition parties must declare the Protocols to be traitorous, null, and void.
The Protocols are as illegtimate as any repressive laws passed by the Ottoman Parliament. Indeed, the Ottoman parliament may have been more “democratic” then the present Armenian government.
The Armenian opposition must state that the Protocols will be declared null and void by future governments. They must also state that there will be severe criminal sanctions imposed at a later date on anyone who tries to legitimize the Protocols.
If not, then the Armenian Cause is dead. And don’t think that the Armenian authorities will not sell out Artsakh too. Anyone that will sell out the Armenian Cause would sell out Artsakh.
By RootArmo on September 17th, 2009
The people in Armenia need to be as galvanized by this as much as the Diaspora seems to be. The Armenian government is not going to listen to the Diaspora. There is a better chance its going to listen to the will of the people who it actually represents.
The Diaspora I think is realizing what a marginal voice they have in terms of what the Armenian state decides to do. For past several years and especially during the kocharian era we thought that Yerevan actually represented our interests. That has proven to be false. (The ARF for all its opposition, went along with most recent election results, which were a fraud, until it had no choice but resign).
The Karabagh War was not started or won because people in Watertown, LA or Paris were outraged. So one has to wonder why Opera Square in Yerevan is not filled with protesters ? Does the Diaspora care about this topic more then the people living there ?
We spend all our efforts hear to get the US government to formally recognize the Genocide and the Armenian government undermines it all with these protocols. What Yerevan says and does is infinitely more important then anything that happens in Washington.
The ARF is partly to blame. They needed to address the daily concerns of the Armenian public more, and build a stronger and broader following rather then just making public stands regarding genocide recognition and territorial integrity. Had they done that they would have more of a following , more power, more influence. All that time, 10 + years wasted… now someone else is running the show and making the decisions. The Window of opportunity is closing and the ARF which prides itself in being “grass roots” has shown what little headway they have achieved with the people who matter most.
These protocols, if ratified, are going to ruin decades of work. The Diaspora is not the role of George Washington, but more like Robert E. Lee. The problem is the people in Armenia don’t seem to see the need to be outraged.
By Papken Dadoyan on September 17th, 2009
It is time for political action that sends a loud and clear message to the President of Armenia and its Parliament. Starting in Armenia and all over the world where there are Armenian communities, Armenians should hold demonstrations in massive numbers on an ongoing basis until the world hears us very clearly and the Armenian Government heeds to the demands of the Majority of Armenians worldwide, that our legitimate rights cannot be trampled on and forgotten.
Here in the United States we should show up in front of the Armenian Republic’s embassy in Washington DC as well as all and every Armenian Consulate in American cities coast to coast.
Shame on us if we don’t make our voices and determination heard loud and clear.
By gaytzag Palandjian on September 17th, 2009
I would thank firstly to Antranik,I met him lastg June for a few brief moments on Toumanyan str.knew him from N.J. long ago.A very honourable pleasant youngman.So is David B. and all others who stand up and defend our ONLY and mian Cause/Case.No doubt about that.Few , however come up with other alternatives.We all know how wily-cunning Ottoman inherited turkish Diplomacy is.We all also know at heart that they are -have been -supported for over 50 yrs by the Anglo-Am clan,so to speak.Latter´s interests are there in that region,no,not now but from near acentury ago…when -to begin with- after Ottoman Empire capitulated in the West frontgs-Balkans in 1918´s they very cleverly concentrated all their forces-directed by a leader come to power Mustafa Ataturk(Kemal) WHO MUSTERED UP ALL they had left plus some ammunitions arms gifted to them by the Brits(see Prof. R.G.Hovanissian 4 volume Republic of Armenia) wherein he describdes of a huge cache of armament was turnewd over to Kemal-Turky,their just a few months old enemy-instead of to their faithful allies the Armenians -who fought along General Allenby and many other European -American allies against the German-Ottoman axis.This is BETRAYAL AT ITS BEST,even worse than having an enemy that you see-know…these people are after theri interests .@Our battleships cannot climb mount Ararat,one English Lord hs been known to say…Oh yeah? how come then that at the same time-same period-see prof. R.G.H book stipulated with photos of Brfitish commanding officers in Baku , their headquarters, how did they get there then? for the smell of something? indeed.They did make it though-if not then now by entgering from window.a saying they get thrown out by the oncoming red armies then..then lately after collpase of latter through window..
Best advice we have had.I was present April 9th at 17 Rue Bleu,Armenian centre in Paris prof Yves Ternon, a supporter of our cause in France …ended his discourse saying”Parlement a Parlement”.In short we should seek our allies elsewhere in small, middle states and never rely on aforementioned who have betrayed us sevral times over. Do not be ashamed to utter your voices.After all even in diplomacy there is a limit to how much people can lie…
Go find another(s) partners supporters elsewhere.Getting back to present situation of the Protocols and Armenia Armenians on the verge of an abyss…I think we must act similar to the turks and co.that is to say .While we reinforce our forces-power economy et all inwardly…we must show to the great Turkey and Co. that we are complient thus:By the by I wrote an article in Hay Gyank weekl,L.A. in 1997 entitled”Nagornyi Karabagh after Lisbon” Then as now all except us voted agaisnt us 49 strong voes vis a vis our one single LTP´s…
WE can begin with appeasingb great Turkey yes I always dub them so, both cynically but also righteously they are the strongest in the region thanks to allies.mainly the U.S. of course.Get the NK issue resolved by declaring NK as FREE TRADE ZONE and change stance from Independent republic to PRINCIPALITY OF NAGORNYI KARABAGH” SIMILAR TO Andorra..in ARmenian,(Gharabaghi Melikutyun) Let 3/4 azeri delegates into present Nk Parliament and allow refugees from Only Jabrail and Fizouli to return ,as agisnt our refugees to Shahumian.Andorra was a bone of contentgion for two centuries -you read corectly 200 yrs between France and Spain,even a war.Then they agreed to run the small area jointly, declaring it as FREE Trade Zone and as a Principlaity. Its president is prfes. of France and vice is Archbishop from Seu Dúrgel (cataluña)Spain.People there mainly catalans-pretty much like in NK, (Armenians) and some French.It has prosepred , levying very small import export customs duties ..Free business and tourism has loomed and no war ….peace is prevailing there …
This might very well suit the situation .Great Turkey will not loose face-most important for the REgional Gendarm..the allies will be delighted that peace have come upon the area lertting the piplines function orderly without fear of war there and most important gvreat Turkey will tghen be pressured by these SAME ALLIES…see the Armenians complied Nk is not Independent.Do not worry that they will claim more lands ..
We have b een famed as patient people.fact is we are over-patient we CAN WAIT SOME MORE,when other factors pop up for great Turkey….Kurdish (ex mountain turks? eh? Mr. Turkey) you finally gave in stopped callinmg them so..gunned own a thousand villages of their but you could not throw 16 million of them into sea? time will come when these poor people will also at the very lest get some Autonomy ,then only our cause can COME UP AGAIN AND BY THEN HOPEFULLY THE CRAZY SITUATION OF OIL HUNGER,plus Armenian Diaspora mustering up its own National Investment trust fund-pleasde visit my site …www.ARMENIDAD-worldwide.org REST IS THERE.THANKS FOR READING ME HAMA HAIGAGANIN SIRO
By Tsolin on September 17th, 2009
RootArmo, you make important points. Let’s remember how the press is controlled in Armenia and that those outside major cities are less informed of what is going on under their noses. Many protesters have been maimed and killed for being vocal. Add to that the notion that natives who are employed by Soros and other Western-based initiatives all parrot the same NATO-friendly tune. He who pays the piper gets to call the tune. These voices we hear from do not represent the Armenian sentiment of Armenia!
By Haro Mherian (Ph.D. Mathematics, UCLA 1990) on September 17th, 2009
RootArmo’s comment is not quite right. In fact, there is a large outrage in Armenia and Arzakh population. But why we don’t see any such uprising? because the authority has done a good job in controlling the media. See the following article by Dr. Armen Ayvazyan (showing the statistics):
The reason for this successful media control was implemented as a result of March 2008 election upheavals. The reason that ARF was less active in the last 2 years is again attributed to this “fake” opposition party staging of the election drama. They were planned by Der Petrosyan and Kojaryan-Sargsyan elite groups (hand in hand) in order to kill all other grass-root true opposition movements in Armenia.
So, as you can see the West has done a good job in controlling the masses in Armenia via their own governments (Der Petrosyan, Kojaryan and now Sargsyan).
Moreover, we Armenians usually think that ARF is the oldest Armenian party, but we fail to realize that ARF leaders were not mature enough to be able to govern any city let alone a country. Yes, they are good fighters and military leaders, and they have a wellformed National agenda, but they did not have enough experience in governing. To my memory, ARF has just learned how to stand for the Armenian people in just the last couple of years, which to me is a good news (perhaps a desperate voice from Heaven).
But blaming the Armenian intellectuals and especially the people in Armenia is not quite right. Look at the last 20 years of history. In 1988, during the Karabakh movement, which was organized by a few true-intellectuals in Yerevan, as soon as it gained an enormous populous, here comes a Levon Der Petrosyan from nowhere and takes the helm. In the following few years, we heard a propaganda machine of HHSh discriminating the true Armenian intellectuals, followed by controlling and maneuvering the people, in effect killing our “azgayin hokin”. This propaganda machine has its effects until these days, after 20 years now.
I believe that currently ARF is the only party that can move Armenian towards the right direction, if only they put more of their resources in improving the “Armenian mshagute” (i.e. pure-Armenian intellectuals, Armenian scientists, Armenian teachers, etc.) and the economy of the people in Armenia. And believe me, they have all the resources, because they form a majority in Diaspora, as well as inside Armenia (i.e. if we include Arzakh).
It is also important to modify the ARF intergovernmental infrastructure. ARF organizational structure does not have a good election mechanism. For example, we the people do not elect who the district ARF representative will be, it is elected behind closed doors. Such mechanisms must be changed to introduce more control by the people. It is a shame that in 1988, we did not even know who Mr. Hrair Maroukhian was until we heard that he was claimed a persona-non-grata by Levon Der Petrosyan. It is a shame that ARF organizational structure has not changed even after 20 years. Otherwise, it would have been the most efficient ruling party for Armenia (and Armenians). Another good idea is for ARF to form a coalition government with grass root parties in Armenia. We have seen such advances only this year, for example with Henchaks and Ramgavars, but they need to be more active in this direction. There are a dozen more grass-root parties in Armenia (excluding Republican and HHSh major parties).
By Darwin Jamgochian on September 17th, 2009
If anything, The United States, Switzerland, Germany and The United Kingdom have done more harm to the nation of Armenia in the last 10 years than the entire Turkish nation. Oh! Did I forget to mention Israel?
The Life of an Armenian Icon, Through His Own Words, An Interview with Armen Keteyian, Antranig Dereyan August 15, 2009
It may have been hard to convince this second-generation Armenian American growing up that he would one day be in charge of a major network’s investigating unit and have eight Emmy Awards that praise his integrity, interviewing skills, and versatility. Add to that his position as a shortstop in a professional baseball franchise, and he would think it wasn’t possible. But that is exactly what happened to him, Armen Keteyian, the chief investigating correspondent of CBS News.
Born in Detroit, Mich., on March 6, 1953, Keteyian spent most of his young life playing basketball, football, and baseball. While at Lahser High School in Bloomfield, he lettered in all three sports and ended up going to Central Michigan University on a partial sports scholarship, and later transferred to San Diego State University to continue his collegiate career.
“Playing shortstop, starting shortstop, first at Central Michigan and then at San Diego State…I had opportunities to pursuit it, I had a chance to sign with the Detroit Tigers and try playing pro, but I felt I couldn’t hit [the ball] well enough. I thought I couldn’t make it. I was good, but wasn’t good enough… At some point and time you don’t quit sports—sports quits you. I learned the most from failure and baseball, which is my biggest failure. I learned from that point on that you can’t throw away opportunities,” Keteyian told the Armenian Weekly.
Though he loved sports, he was an avid reader, and his interest in writing soon sparked. He wrote for his high school and college newspapers, and majored in journalism at both Central Michigan and San Diego State.
Yet, after his transfer to San Diego State, he found himself three units shy of graduation, so he took an internship helping Frank Church, the Senator from Idaho, attempt to win the 1976 presidential campaign.
“I went from an internship volunteer to one of the Senator’s top advance people—advancing the political events. He won in his first primary in Nebraska, which I was heavily involved in, then won his second in Oregon… Then we ran into Jimmy Carter in Ohio and that was the end of Church’s campaign, but it was a tremendous experience being around him and the people,” said Keteyian, who as a result of the internship graduated that year, cum laude with a BA in journalism and a minor in political science.
Once in the real world, he found himself, 23, out of school and in need of a job. “I started at the bottom at a weekly newspaper in La Mesa, Calif., a suburb of San Diego. Then I worked my way up through a suburban daily, to writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune, which was followed by my big break—being hired by Sports Illustrated in New York. That really catapulted me from being a “beachy” guy in San Diego, who had established a pretty good reputation as a writer, to a completely different culture” on the national stage, said Keteyian.
But the progression was not so cut, dry, and easy.
“I was writing sports for a daily paper in Escondido, Calif., but left the business in 1980 because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I took a job at a sports-marketing, public relations firm in San Diego, while writing freelance for the San Diego Union-Tribune, where I was writing about virtually everything but sports. I was writing about finance, art auctions, and business-related stories for the culture section, which I loved. It was great to get away from sports, which at that point I was beginning to get tired of. But, I did a sports-related story on a tri-athlete, Julie Moss, which won a national sports writing award. That convinced Sports Illustrated to finally hire me in May 1982, after a year of trying to get the job, sending the head of research in New York clip after clip. I arrived in June. The family, which at that time was my wife Dede and our first born Kristen, they came later,” he said, adding, “I didn’t just drop into this job or profession, I worked for every ounce.”
From Sports Illustrated, Keteyian was presented with another chance to advance and learn. “In 1988, NBC wanted me for the Seoul Korea Olympics,” he said. “I took a leave of absence from the magazine, where at that point I had done many investigative pieces and had a big-time reputation as an investigative reporter, having worked on college point shaving [betting against the favored team, after a bookie bribes the team to lose], steroids, and pay-to-play [bribing a college player to go to a certain school with money, jewelry, or cars].”
“I had also recently been promoted. I left that to become the on-air reporter for NBC’s coverage of the swimming venue. I had an interest in TV work, I did a good job in Seoul, and some more opportunities presented themselves, so I left the magazine and went to work for NBC,” Keteyian said.
He spent little time at NBC, however. The next year, he left to write his first of eight books, Big Red Confidential: Inside Nebraska Football, about Nebraska’s football program under Tom Osborne.
“It was the first book to raise any kind of questions about wrongdoing within the program. To this day, I don’t think I am the most welcomed man in Nebraska,” said a grinning Keteyian.
From the book, ABC was his next stop. “ABC was looking for a high-level sports reporter who they could turn into a TV correspondent. I auditioned for the position by sending in my audition tape, an original story on Major League Baseball umpire Dave Pallone, who at the time was leaving his job in order to write a book Behind the Mask, about being in professional baseball and being gay. Thanks to my friend, who worked at the bar in New York where he often visited, I was able to sit down with him. It caught people’s attention and I was given the job where, until I left in 1997, I got basically a PhD in TV,” he said.
His transition to CBS came when he was hired to be on HBO’s “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel. Then CBS hired him as a special features reporter and, after buying the rights to the National Football League, gave Keteyian the position of sideline reporter.
“It gave me a whole-other level of exposure,” reflected Keteyian, who stayed at CBS Sports as their sideline and special features reporter, winning three Emmy’s for CBS’s coverage of the Tour de France.
In 2005, on his way back from an Indianapolis Colts’ practice, a call from CBS Sports/News president Sean McManus opened a brand new door to him.
“When his assistant told me ‘Hold for Sean,’ those words, you never know what will happen after that. But he offered me the position of chief investigating correspondent of CBS News. I also had the task of starting an investigating unit from the ground-up,” said Keteyian.
Despite his high level of success, Keteyian never forgot his roots. “I was an altar boy at St. Sarkis Church where I also went to Saturday Armenian School until the 8th grade, until I moved to Bloomfield Hills. Though my Armenian has stayed in Detroit, I still know a few words. I host events, like when the Catholicos came, and other events that help raise money or awareness for the Armenian community. I feel, purposely, I have kept my fingers, toes, and heart in the Armenian communities in Detroit, Watertown, and California. I cook pilaf, my wife, Dede, who is not Armenian, cooks like one. My kids, Kristen and Kelly, also cook some Armenian dishes.
Whenever they see their cousins in Detroit and are able to see the culture, they are surprised how good it makes them feel and how connected they feel… It affects them in a positive way. So, my Armenian roots are still not only in my blood, but my family’s blood as well,” explained Keteyian.
He started his career in 1976, and in 30 years reached the summit of his profession. How does it feel to have worked so hard for so long?
“It hardly ever felt like work to me,” he said, smiling. “My wife and my kids deserve a lot of credit for sticking by me after all this time. I am a very fortunate guy.”
By Tsolin on August 17th, 2009
Mr. Keteyian, we look to you and your colleagues to investigate the Sibel Edmonds case and Turkish/Israeli-Jewish collusion re: Armenian Genocide denial for CBS News. When may we hear from you?
By David Boyajian on August 17th, 2009
Ah, yet another “famous” Armenian American journalist who has “made it” but who will not cover Armenian issues because … why?
Because the media they work for won’t allow it? Because the journalist himself/herself has no interest? Who are those media, and who controls them?
Armenia is a pivot country in the Caucasus. That is why the US and Russia are so interested in it. This is not worthy of coverage?
The Anti-Defamation League tells us that the Holocaust must be memorialized, and yet it sits down with Turkish leaders to figure out ways to deny the Armenian genocide and defeat the Congressional Armenian Genocide resolution. This sort of hypocrisy is not worthy of coverage by Mr. Keteyian’s network?
My guess is that Mr. Keteyian’s “investigative” unit only investigates “safe” subjects.
What About Javakhk? An interview with a Georgian parliamentarian, Armen Bayandouryan,
Was published by Hetq yesterday. He was trying to justify several points about the plight facing Armenians in Samtskhe-Javakheti, or Javakhk, such as the inability for many to speak the Georgian language.
Here’s what he had to say:
All I’d say is that there isn’t one nation on earth where its citizens don’t speak its primary language. If they don’t speak Georgian in Javakhk today, it’s not their fault. The system has been lacking, incorrect.
Yet later in the interview he said the following regarding the question of making Armenian a second official language of Javakhk:
To establish a second official language in Javakhk would imply that Armenians are incompetent. We’d be doing ourselves a great disservice if we said that we Armenians cannot learn another language. This is my view. It would be like saying; we are citizens of Georgia but we aren’t capable of learning the language. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Today we can’t, but tomorrow we can.
My father used to say that it is their language that binds Armenians together, to keep them unified and less apt to succumbing to assimilation in their host countries. By contrast, I have heard others like my grandmother argue that it is rather Christianity that maintains the identity and fuels the persistence of Armenians. I think both are correct to some degree, but I am leaning more on the language aspect of being able to sustain Armenian integrity rather than religion. There’s plenty of agnostic or atheist Armenians in the world who maintain their culture and identity by speaking the language and teaching their children to do the same. Many of them live in Armenia.
But in Javakhk Armenian youth are not “incompetent” because they are not able to learn Georgian. Rather, they are not given the proper means to do so. I was in Javakhk in 2002 with a fellow Armenian from Boston, and everywhere we went people complained about poverty, the low standard of education for children in the region and the lack of job opportunities for earning a decent living.
Georgians tend to live better in the region despite the fact that it is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. Bayandouryan is linking the capacity to get decent jobs with the ability to speak the state language. He’s right, Armenians in Javakhk need to know Georgian, but he’s not addressing the underlying issues, namely the damaged educational system—or lack of one—that is in place in the region. He mentions several times that Armenian kids need to go to Armenian school, yet those same schools were not receiving the proper amount of state funding and were thus in shambles. How are you going to teach kids without proper classroom facilities and especially, books?
Later he states, when asked about the recent arrests of Armenian activists who were from Javakhk:
No one is illegally arrested in Georgia; just as in Armenia. There is a justification one someone has been charged with a crime. Being Armenian has nothing to do with it. If you’ve committed a crime you go to jail. These people broke the law. It’s that simple.
That first sentence alone is alarming. How stupid does he think the people are who are reading this interview? Anyone who has been following Armenian news for the last 18 months knows that this is an absurd statement to make.
Bayandouryan also went on to mention that President Mikheil Saakashvili has been doing a lot for the region by building a road from Akhalkalak to Tbilisi, suppying gas to rural areas and supposedly ensuring that the elderly receive pensions. I don’t know about that because I haven’t visited Javakhk since then and thus I haven’t been able to speak to people firsthand.
But I will say one thing: Akhalkalak, which was 90 percent populated by Armenians at one time and most likely still is, was the most miserable, depressing, aesthetically displeasing city I have ever visited in the South Caucasus so far. Things were very bleak for many families there. At that time 5,000 people were employed at the Russian military base that was operating, but that’s been closed for about two years. I have no idea how people are getting by now, but back then people were barely eking out a living from what I saw and heard. The kids I spoke to couldn’t wait to attend university in Yerevan (a sublime paradise by comparison) to get out of there. And I can’t imagine that sentiment has changed at all since then.
Normalization Of Armenia-Turkey Ties Will Take Years: Links Executive Director, Today.Az Sept 7 2009
The London Information Network on Conflicts and State-building (LINKS) Executive Director Dennis Sammut spoke in an interview with Day.Az.
Day.Az: What is your view on Turkish-Armenian intentions to normalize bilateral relations?
Dennis Sammut: I very much welcome the announcement made on 31 August that Armenia and Turkey intend to sign two protocols within the next six weeks, leading towards the establishment of diplomatic relations and the normalization of relations. I think this will have a positive impact on the situation in the region.
Q: Some of Armenian opposition parties are against normalization of relations with Turkey. Do you think that Armenian society is ready for real cooperation with Turkey, as well with Azerbaijan?
A: It is true that some Armenian political forces are against this process. In fact one of the parties of the government coalition - the Dashnaks - left the coalition in May, mainly on this issue. It is to be expected that on such emotional issues there will be differences in society. However I believe that the majority of Armenian society wants a future of peace and prosperity for themselves and for future generations.
We should not underestimate the strong feelings that exist in both Armenian and Azerbaijani society. Too much blood has been spilt. But I am sure that common sense will prevail over emotion.
Q: Baku says that improvements between Ankara and Yerevan should be only after settlement of Karabakh conflict or real progress in this process. How would you comment on that position and the link between these two problems?
A: There are different stages of this process. In my view the quicker Armenia and Turkey establish diplomatic relations the better. This is the basis for a civilized relationship between states, and binds the sides to working together within the framework of international norms. After that a huge amount of work needs to be done to normalize Armenia-Turkish relations and this work will take years and not weeks. A lot of issues impact this process, and Karabakh is one of them. It would not be realistic not to recognize this. However there is also another side of this argument. Improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations will also positively impact the Karabakh peace process, at least in the medium to long term.
Q: Do you expect that Turkish leadership will keep its promise to Baku and open the borders with Armenia only after the liberation of the occupied territories?
A: It is the view of many that Armenia should start withdrawing from the territories of Azerbaijan around Nagorno Karabakh, regardless of relations with Turkey. This is recognized by all sides as being a key step in the process of peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. This conflict has dragged on for too long and everybody is now expecting progress on this issue also. Turkey will always be a friend and strategic ally of Azerbaijan and this will impact its actions in the future also.
Q: There is opinion that West (mostly U.S. and EU) put pressure on Turkey to make it open borders with Armenia. Do you share this opinion and how strong is Turkey to resist this pressure?
A: This is not a question of pressure but rather one of encouragement and persuasion. Turkey is a regional power and a key ally of the United States and Europe. The Turkish government has taken a decision based on very long and deep analysis, after which it concluded that normalizing relations with Armenia is in its long term national interest, and its policies reflect this. The US and the EU, but indeed also Russia, have all welcomed the announcement of 31 August by Ankara and Yerevan.
Elchin Guliyev: “the State Border Service Will Receive Special Vessels Floating In Hard Weather Conditions In The Days Coming”- Interview
07 Sep 2009
“State Border Service will carry out large-scale exercises in September”
Baku. Rashad Suleymanov – APA. Chief of Azerbaijani State Border Service, commander of Border Troops, Lieutenant-General Elchin Guliyev interviewed by APA
-Please, give information about the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan Border Security.
-Azerbaijan Border Security has developed and has a great potential to fulfill any task in ensuring border security. This development is based on Azerbaijan’s border security strategy initiated by national leader Heydar Aliyev and extension of this strategy by Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev. Due to the State Program on “Technical development of Azerbaijan’s state border security for 2006-2010” confirmed by President on December 27, 2005, strong border security infrastructure meeting modern standards was established. Border units system meeting modern standards was established along the border, it was supplied with modern weapons, border aviation was formed, radar systems, modern observation and detecting devices were applied. Security of the state border by operation was strengthened, Academy of State Border Service was established. Important steps were taken shift from physical protection of state border to operation and technical security, border checkpoints and border guard ships were staffed. Some days ago Supreme Commander-in-Chief Ilham Aliyev participated in the opening ceremony of “Serhedchi” Sport Olympic Center established in Baku. President appreciated the state of Azerbaijan State Security. Supreme Commander-in-Chief’s praise inspirited all border guards to gain new achievements.
-What can you say about the operation conditions in Azerbaijan’s state borders and near our borders?
-The situation in the state border is stable. I want to note that we are following the developments near our state borders and they are taken into consideration in organizing the service.
-State Border Service has been commissioned to ensure security in Azerbaijan-section of the Caspian Sea, security of infrastructure of production and transportation of hydrocarbon resources. Please, give information about these tasks.
- We give special importance to fulfillment of above-mentioned duties. The Coast Guard was established within the State Border Service by presidential order in 2005. The Coast Guard’s new base was built in Turkan district of Baku within the State Program on “Technical development of security of state borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2006-2010”. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief attended the inauguration of the base on November 8 last year and was familiarized with the service conditions there and made special recommendations on allocation of diving equipments, creation of opportunities for fulfillment of special duties, strengthening of border patrol boats and technical observation posts and extension of disclosure opportunities. The patrol boats were equipped with modern radiolocation systems and weapons, as well as provided with additional maneuver opportunities. The State Border Service will receive special vessels floating in hard weather conditions in the days coming. The annual tactic exercises on “Combat and rescue operations for prevention of threats against coastal areas, islands, oil pipelines and platforms” have great importance for training of coast guards and strengthening of ties between different border units. According to the annual plan of actions, the SBS will hold large-scale exercises in September. Our achievements are the results of government’s care for border security issues. It enabled us to create modern and perfect infrastructure of the Coast Guard to secure national interests and to provide security on the sea. This work will be continued in future.
- What about the cooperation and relations between your organization and border services of other countries?
- There is a dynamic development of cooperation and relations between the border services of neighboring countries. We established and developed valuable mutual relations with border services and officials of Russian Federation, Georgia, Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The important achievements were reached on delimitation of state border with Russian Federation and Georgia and important part of common border line was agreed. The bilateral and multilateral relations with the border services of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran on the sea are developed. We organized joint sea exercises together with Russia and Kazakhstan. Chiefs of the borders services of Caspian littoral states held bilateral meetings. Baku hosted trilateral working meetings between Azerbaijan-Russia-Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan-Russia-Iran. The situation of security on the Caspian Sea and tendencies of its future development were discussed at the meetings. Chiefs of the Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan border services will be invited to the next working meetings, which are planned to be held in five–sided format.